Elegant Surprise Wedding
Featured: The Coordinated Bride
Photography: Donnell Perry Photography
Wedding Planner: Elana Walker Events
Florals: Fresh Affairs
Entertainment: DJ Mass Appeal
Violinist: Udeshi Hargett
Cake: Cake Couture
Officiant: Rev Hershey Mallette Stephens
Caterer: Unforgettable Food Affairs
Rentals: CE Rentals/Themeworks
Video: K2 Productions
Jocelyn and I met for the first time in 2010 at her sister’s house in Greensboro, NC. We laughed, talked and flirted in Janiya’s living room for about 3 hours.
Before we parted ways that evening, we exchanged numbers and set plans for a future date. I thought I was in there! Fast forward to 2015. After a lot of ignored text messages from Jocelyn and never received “tell Jocelyn I said what’s up” messages through our sisters — we met again when my sister, Hershey, asked us to co-emcee her wedding reception.
Being the planner Jocelyn is, she would call me the weeks leading up to the wedding. She had spreadsheets, diagrams, and detailed visuals about how this reception was supposed to happen. But my main goal when she would call me about the wedding was to make her smile and laugh as much as I could.
Honestly, it had been so long since we last saw each other I couldn’t even remember what she looked like. And I did not care. The thing I could remember most vividly over all the years was how she made me feel the first time we met in Greensboro.
The wedding came and we successfully hosted the reception and have been successfully hanging out every weekend since. I’ll just add a particularly “successful hangout” story from December 7, 2017. Harold and I had been considering purchasing a home for several months. Our good friends, Vershae and Jason, found a townhouse they loved here in Raleigh and they invited us to check it out.
Two days after that, Harold and I set up a tour of another available unit in the same neighborhood. We toured the townhouse at 10am and signed the contract around 2pm that same day. Harold and I each went back to work, but Harold only lasted an hour.
He was so excited about our future home purchase that he decided he was going to scrap his previous proposal plan and propose to me that evening. He suggested that we go to dinner to celebrate the signing of the house contract. I was totally oblivious that he chose our first date location for dinner that night: Fiction Kitchen.
At dinner, I excitedly exclaimed, “I know we’ve been talking about getting engaged, but I am SO excited about our townhouse that I don’t even care when we get engaged anymore!” Little did I know, the ring was in Harold’s pocket. After dinner, he proposed on the Boylan Street Bridge and I cried like the bucket of water that I am.
Surprising our guests with a wedding!!
WHERE WAS YOUR FIRST DATE?
We went to Fiction Kitchen ( I was a vegetarian at the time). After dinner, we went bar hopping in downtown Raleigh. Our first kiss was that night as well. It was at the Architect Bar. Fitting, considering Harold is an architect. Haha
The surprise wedding announcement!
DESCRIBE YOUR WEDDING DRESS STYLE?
I wore my mother’s wedding dress that she wore 40 years ago this year. We altered the sleeves to make them tighter and we cut the back out. We didn’t have to change the length, width, size, etc. at all. It was crazy.
My mom’s dress was a size zero and I never thought I could wear it because I haven’t been a size zero since high school. Then when I got diagnosed with narcolepsy in 2016, the medication caused me to lose 20 lbs that I haven’t been able to put back on. So, I was a size zero and was able to wear my mom’s dress. 🙂
WAS THERE ANY PARTICULAR THEME OR STYLE FOR YOUR WEDDING?
Surprise wedding!!! We wanted our guests to think they were attending our engagement brunch. It took a lot of pressure and stress off of us and the guests to not think they were attending a wedding.
As I described previously, Harold and I have received many “surprised” from life and we wanted our guests to realize that they can always roll with whatever life hands them. Even if it’s a wedding when they thought it was going to be an engagement brunch. It was so much fun and everyone had a wonderful time.
Violinist Udeshi Hargett greets the guests before the ceremony begins!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY EXPERIENCE WITH DONNELL PERRY PHOTOGRAPHY?
Donnell was the best. He was so low-key and relaxed during the wedding and seemed to be everywhere, but also really blended in. Donnell really took care of us and the pictures turned out amazing. We love recommending him to family and friends.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE IMAGE FROM YOUR WEDDING DAY, AND WHY?
The picture of Harold and me walking down the aisle together. It perfectly embodied our excitement and happiness throughout the day.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FLOWERS?
My flowers were done by Lyn Graves at Fresh Affairs and they were absolutely breathtaking. I was nervous because I never saw a “sample” table or anything.
We just told him what our vision was and what flowers we liked/disliked. Guests are still talking about the floral wreath that served as the backdrop of the wedding. It was incredible.
One of my favorite pictures from the venue/decor is of the cake in front of the wreath. It was just perfect. Thanks to Cake Couture. And every tier had a different and fabulous flavor.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR WEDDING PLANNER?
We can’t say enough good things about Elana. She really helped us pull off our dream wedding. From our first conversation through the wedding, she has been a God-send. Extremely professional, boundlessly creative, and just fun!
ANY ADVICE FOR FUTURE BRIDES?
DO WHAT YOUR WANT! BUCK TRADITION! STAY TRUE TO YOURSELVES!
ANY ADVICE FOR FUTURE GROOMS?
PLAY YOUR PART, STAY POSITIVE.
ANY FUNNY STORIES ABOUT YOURSELVES?
I always laugh thinking about the day Harold proposed. We had been in the market for a house for several months. We signed a contract for what I consider to be my dream townhome on the afternoon of Dec 7th. Harold suggested that we go to dinner that night to celebrate signing the house contract and I quickly agreed.
At dinner, I said to Harold, “I know we’ve been ring shopping and I’m excited to get engaged soon, but I’m SO excited about this townhouse that I don’t even care when you propose!” Little did I know, the engagement ring was in Harold’s pocket when I said that. Hahaha He proposed after dinner that night.
DO YOU HAVE EVERYTHING IN COMMON OR DO YOU HAVE THINGS THAT YOU CAN’T AGREE ON BUT POKE FUN ABOUT?
We definitely don’t have everything in common, but we’re a good balance to each other. As a former military officer and current lawyer, my personality is to live a very structured, type A life. Being married to an architect helps me learn to live life a little more freely at times. Harold’s artistic and easygoing spirit has helped me learn to go with the flow sometimes.
I love the passion and care that Jocelyn puts into everything she touches. Above all, she has a huge heart and has a way of making you feel wanted and loved when you are in her presence.
Like I mentioned previously, Harold helps me remember that it’s ok to live life freely. He is constantly making me laugh and I really appreciate that too. Life can be stressful and it can sometimes hand you unhappy surprises, but everything also works out in the end. He’s so incredibly supportive and I can always depend on him.
Donnell Perry Photography is a Raleigh Wedding Photography company based out of Raleigh, North Carolina. Please view our portfolio to see more of our work. We are available to travel for wedding and portrait photography, please contact us through the contact form on our website for more information.
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