Jessie + Eric tied the knot on June 6, 2015 at The Cotton Room in Durham, NC. I had been anticipating this wedding since I got in the water with Jessie + Eric for their engagement shoot last summer. Through every step of the photography process, this cool Durham couple has taken risks with me in order to make some really unique images- and they have done this with enthusiasm, humor, and 150% commitment. They brought the same energy on their wedding day, and we are so excited to share the final product here.
Keeping up to par with their baller engagement shoot Q&A responses, Jessie & Eric wrote one of the most articulate and effusive descriptions of their wedding and photography experience I've ever seen! Read the Q&A below to learn more what they had to say about their wedding. And to view all of the photos from Jessie + Eric's wedding and order prints, please visit their wedding gallery on my online print shop!
1. What are some of your favorite things about your partner? How were these attributes expressed during or leading up to your wedding?
Jessie: Eric was involved in each decision we made. At first I was leery about having my fiancé involved in every minor detail (except décor), but it turned out to be an amazing journey. All-in-all, I am lucky to have a husband who cares.
Eric: Since this is public, I will refrain from embarrassing either of us. I used to tell friends and family (I’m unsure why) that I would be an incompatible The Amazing Race partner—that my shorter-than-average fuse, lack of empathy, and competitiveness would permanently ruin any preexisting relationship. I no longer make that declaration (also, no one asks). Planning-wise, Jessie and I had similar tastes. She conceded my must-haves, politely provided input when I went overboard, and stood firm for what she deemed critical. Thankfully, Jessie is organized, a planner. I am more of a project manager, focused on execution. For these reasons and that it was our 14th wedding we attended together, there were few, if any, details and/or contingencies that were not handled or considered beforehand. While still hectic, this freed us from last-minute obligations and allowed the weekend to run smoothly.
2. What was most important to you in planning your wedding?
Wedding-wise, the word we wanted to encapsulate was authentic—conveying who we are and what we value. Otherwise, we wanted everyone to have a friggin’ good time. That’s difficult to quantify—elderly grandparents, cousins, childhood friends, and fraternity brothers all have opinions about what is worth their while. We attended weddings when couples only thought of themselves and treated guests as after-thoughts. We didn’t want that. So we contemplated our weekend from our guests’ perspective, and provided solutions accordingly. Unless people are lying to me, which is entirely plausible, we’ve been told by everyone that they “had a really good time”. Also, no one punched each other.
3. Are there any details or moments from your wedding that are particularly special to you? (E.g., you wore your momma’s dress, your partner unexpectedly serenaded you, there was a double rainbow all across the sky…).
Jessie: I received my first sentimental card from Eric before our First Look and the sheer shock of it made me cry. On a more serious note, we customized our vows and it was important that we both memorized them—we didn’t want to let each other down. This allowed us to “be in the moment” while reciting them.
Eric: It depends on whether one values sentimental or humorous. Sentimentally, I exuded far too much effort creating a 71-minute, 1,109-photo video slideshow. It looped continuously, and as I passed-by, it was satisfying to watch reactions as guests saw self-deprecating pictures of us or long-forgotten images of themselves. My 92-year-old spitfire of a grandmother walking down the aisle, without a walking aid, despite being less than two months removed from hip replacement surgery was meaningful. On the funny side, I enjoyed my 88-year-old, grumpy grandfather ditch his cane (not like this guy) and start ‘swaying’ while taking posed pictures. It was his (hips’) way of saying that he was enjoying himself. Similarly, later on, and again sans alcohol, Jessie’s seven-year-old nephew trademarked a ‘traveling split’ dance move, which confused and pained onlookers and was a definite highlight. Almost everything else was a blur.
4. Your wedding package included both an engagement session and a bridal session. What was it like to work with us before the wedding day? How did this shape your expectations for the day-of?
Jessie: AMAZING! I felt lucky that I got to work with Courtney and Justin for my bridal shoot. We tried several poses and angles, including the fantastic art paper (courtesy of Justin). I am so happy with the results. Working with Courtney and Justin prior to the wedding allowed us to be super comfortable throughout our big day. You guys are awesome!
Eric: As I said in the engagement blog, hiring Courtney and Justin was the best wedding-related decision we made. Professionally, Courtney was immediate in responding to inquiries, and repeatedly went out of her way to extend a helping hand (recommending videographers, for instance). They’re accomplished photographers, and their journalistic style and out-of-the-way approach meshed with my loathing for posed pictures and desire for our photographers to tell our story visually. In gathering Jessie’s feedback from the bridal session, she was enthusiastic about Courtney’s willingness to find a healthy balance between tradition and taking risks. On a personal level, I can say enthusiastically that I admire Courtney and Justin. For couples to become comfortable with each other, all four relationships have to jive. For us, we all clicked immediately. We now consider them as our friends.
5. Now that you’ve tied the knot (and survived!), what advice would you give to other folks planning their wedding?
Jessie: It’s easy to let the planning consume you. Don’t do it. The weekend prior to our wedding, we had had enough of the minutiae so we went out for Mexican and margaritas. Spending quality time without every conversation morphing into wedding talk was important.
Eric: Throughout planning, I admit I second-guessed whether the investment, time or monetarily, would ultimately be worth it. That’s natural, I think. Nevertheless, for us, because we had varying schedules and obligations, an online project management tool (Basecamp) allowed us to visualize and prioritize agenda items. We broke these tasks down, partitioned them into categories, and assigned them as necessary. This ensured we knew what decisions needed to be made, what had been done, or what needed to get done. We supplemented Basecamp with a shared Google Drive folder, which allowed us to house and access necessary documents. We also used Mint.com to track all wedding-related finances. If we had to do it again—which we don’t plan to—I don’t think we’d let the planning ‘overtake’ us. As Jessie said, we probably could have had the same wedding weekend having invested half the time. Hindsight’s always 20/20.
6. What is the first thing you want to do with the images? Wallpaper the hallway? Internet fame?
Jessie: Internet fame for sure, but I think I will mostly look through every picture a million times and try to relive the day.
Eric: After browsing, I’ll make sure we get the pictures printed and backed up digitally on multiple platforms. As I was creating our slideshow, I lost digital pictures from college because I didn’t save them properly. Also, for the physical pictures, we’ll store them in a safe, readily accessible place so we don’t have to fish for them like we did with our parents’ and grandparents’ wedding albums.
7. What is next for you as a couple? Any big plans?
We plan to ‘chill’ and enjoy each other. Life unfailingly presents challenges, and like everyone else, we have our fair share to handle. As of now, we’re hoping to get those aspects settled before piling more on our metaphorical plate. If that makes sense.
8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Jessie: I am going to repeat what I’ve said already, I am sad that we don’t get to work with you anymore but am super excited to stay in touch and socialize together. Y’all are such cool and down-to-earth people!
Eric: Are you sure you want to allow me more space to write? Brevity, I am not. Kidding aside, Courtney and Justin, thank you.
Jessie & Eric, thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Great wedding photography demands trust, openness, and a spirit of collaboration. We could not have made these images without you. It is truly special to find couples like you who are committed to excellence...and have a whole lot of fun in the process.
Venue: The Cotton Room
Coordinator: Shelley Clayton with Triangle Catering
Bride's Dress: Maggi Bridal
Bride's Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Bridesmaid Dresses: Little Borrowed Dress
Flower Girl Dresses: Bride's mother
Groomsmen Clothing: Jos. A. Bank
Ties: Alfani Spectrum
Florist: Amalia Sarnecki-Ackley with Triangle Catering
Dessert: Nantucket Grill
Catering: Triangle Catering
Invites & Programs: Indigo Envelope
DJ: DJ K Stones