Jonelle first crossed paths with Charles in August, 2001 during graduate school orientation week at Duke University. Jonelle, who was a then undergraduate senior, was perusing a graduate school mixer on the hunt for a graduate school man."We talked for a while and I ended up asking him to go to a party with me that night. Unfortunately, I never made it to the party - okay I stood him up!" shares Jonelle. Fast forwarding a few months, Jonelle ended up auditing Charles' graduate Biochemistry course. "The magic sparks began when we started studying together. We were both 'seeing other people' but after spending more and more time together, we recognized that we had something special" says Jonelle. And during that time, the pair were inseparable. "He was the peanut butter to my jelly. I was his “Jenny” and he was my “Forrest Gump” shares Jonelle.
Following graduation, Jonelle remained in North Carolina for Dental School lending the two more time to build together. Countless memories were consumed during those years; late night dinner dates, home cooked meals (in which Jonelle notes that she cooked meals, while Charles created them), runs in the park, plays and weekend get-a-ways. "This gave way to about 10 years of 'what-ifs'. Because Charles and I had the same circles of friends, we never really were a part from each other." says Jonelle.
Coincidently when Charles relocated back to Washington, D.C., Jonelle found herself making moves to D.C. as well. "Washington, D.C. was a new experience for us both but after a year, I decided to move to New Jersey. Before I moved in 2011, we talked about moving down the relationship path again" says Jonelle. And the couple decided that this was their second chance. They dated long distance for a year before Jonelle moved back to D.C. in July of 2012. And the rest, as you can see is history!
The couple wed in an elegant emerald green, tangerine and gold ceremony in North Carolina (the state in which their story began). "A lot went into planning 'our wedding day' but I get butterflies when I think about the rest of our lives together. With family and friends by our side, this story keeps getting better and better" says Jonelle.
Scroll on for more from this couple, including their proposal story and photos from their big day captured by Casey Rose.
Bride: Jonelle Grant Anamelechi
Groom: Charles Anamelechi
Occupations: Bride: Pediatric Dentist, Owner Children's Choice Pediatric Dentistry | Groom: Senior Consultant at Deloitte Consulting, LLC
Wedding Date: 4/5/2014
Wedding Location: Duke Chapel in Durham NC
Tell us about the proposal!
Jonelle: June 1st, 2013 after a day of hiking and a picnic in the Shenandoah Valley, a meal prepared for two by an amazing chef, and a Bed and Breakfast cottage surprise, Charles proposed to me. He had a slide show of all of our time together and called that day “Our beginning”. What a day! It was completely unexpected!
How was wedding dress shopping for you?
Wedding dress shopping was much easier than I expected. I bought a sample dress at a wedding show which had 'some' of what I wanted and took it to wonderful seamstress who completely deconstructed it into a dress that had 'all' of what I wanted! To top it off, I had a cathedral veil to set the look.
Describe your wedding! Did you have a theme?
Charles and I didn't have a theme. We wanted the colors and a look to reflect us as a couple and our cultures. So, emerald green, gold, and melon were our colors of choice. Those colors together to us made a bold statement without a word. We hoped that our relationship does the same for those who see us.
First Dance Song: "All Of Me" by John Legend
Favorite Item on the Menu: Food: Goat stew and Moi-Moi | Drink: Southern Belle ( Peach Tea Vodka and Lemonade)
Bridesmaids/Groomsmen Gifts: Grooms: Handmade flower boutonnieres by the bride | Bridesmaids: Handmade memory boxes for each bridesmaid with gele tie (traditional head wrap) , shoes and wedding favors
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding?
Jonelle: I am from a small town in South Carolina named Rembert. Charles is from Imo State, Nigeria. This made for one amazing wedding weekend of color, food, music, family and friends. All of the things we enjoy most about each other. Each guest upon check in received a gift box of snacks we enjoy - from chin-chin to Laffy Taffy, each held a special memory.
We had a traditional white wedding at the Duke Chapel presided by religious officials from both sides of our childhood lives. Then, we lifted the lid off of the roof on the Nasher Museum at Duke University for our reception. I had an official Aso Ebi flanked in Orange multicolor Ankara and gold geles. Families processed in to songs, Kola nut was blessed in Igbo and shared. Family members also sang our toast, money flew through the air in celebration and chicken and waffles ended the night. There were so many things that made our day so wonderful but in the end, it was our professed unity that was the icing on the cake.
What were your favorite memories from your wedding day?
We thought we'd dislike the 'first look' photo idea but there were few special moments together. And to walk out after the ceremony into the Duke Gardens, with our wedding party of friends and family surrounding us - it couldn't have been a better moment. Our other favorite memories were our elder family members out dancing us on the dance floor!
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples?
Take time to enjoy the process. It can be stressful but realize that you are planning an event to display the start the rest of your lives, not one that 'is' the rest of your lives.
Also, as much as this may be about you as a couple, it's an ultimate "thank you" gift to family and friends who have changed your diapers, wiped your bottoms, given you spare change to go back to college, been a hug and an listening ear, and have grown with you - honor that and them.
Wedding Coordination and Styling: Amanda, A Swanky Affair
Floral Design: Watered Garden
DJ: DJ Kweks
Catering: Catering Company of Chapel Hill
Venue: NC Museum of Modern Art
Videographer: Valentine Anamelechi (family)
Wedding Gown: P Lawrence
Rentals: Party Reflections
Lighting: Get Lit
Cake Design: Yellowbird Bakery
Photography: Casey Rose Photography