To say I was excited for this wedding is an understatement. Joelle and Jeffrey are truly some of the kindest people I’ve ever most. I had first met Joelle’s sister, Jane, when she was in a wedding I photographed several years ago (hi, Mallory & Alex!) and I was so honored when Joelle reached out to me about photographing her wedding.
During their ceremony, they had several friends stand up and read snippets of their lives; they journey toward each other. It was both unique and incredibly touching. Joelle & Jeffrey first met years ago at a student government retreat at the University of Iowa, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2020, early in a global pandemic, that they began dating.
Readings during the ceremony:
Saranya: “The story begins with betrayal, political intrigue, and … a lot of yelling. Jeffrey had lightly promised to be on Joelle and mine’s student government ticket but then decided to join another party’s team. For the record, he’s still apologizing to this day. What was that about love keeping no record of wrongs?”
Liam: “Despite this act of treachery, Jeffrey and Joelle remained pretty good friends. They first met in the fall of 2012 in student government – actually the building is just down the road. He helped her with her Chinese homework, and she kept him awake at student government meetings.”
Kate: “Toward the end of college, Joelle developed a major crush on Jeffrey, but never quite had the guts to say anything about it to him. She talked about it with us all the time. For his part, like he is in general, Jeffrey was mostly oblivious. After undergrad, they both went to grad school at different places, but would still reconnect every now and then as friends.”
Matt: “Flash forward to summer of 2020. It’s a global pandemic, Joelle has a job in Iowa City, and Jeffrey has moved home to write his dissertation from his parent’s basement. After a summer of outdoor hang-outs (mostly at my driveway), Jeffrey shocked Joelle by sharing that he wanted to ask her on a date. After jogging over to her apartment, on her balcony, he pulled out a sweaty note with the case for and against them going for a walk together. The affirmative side won.”
Alex: “They both knew that transitioning their 8 years of friendship into a romantic relationship could potentially be risky, but they were surprised by how easy falling in love was. For the first year of their relationship, they co-worked together in Joelle’s tiny apartment, explored random Iowa towns, and got to know each other’s families. In the 2nd year of their relationship, they navigated long-distance when Jeffrey moved to California for a year-long fellowship.”
Luke: “And that brings us to today. Jeffrey & Joelle are here to make a promise. To work at sustaining their love through all their future will hold: both what they can expect and what they can’t. This promise, today, in front of friends & family – the people who have supported them as their story unfolded – is only the beginning.”
This bouquet was magical!! Joelle’s only request was that it look “like spring.”
I cannot overstate how much I treasured this time that we got to casually roam the campus on their wedding day. Because their wedding was small and they had no wedding party, we had an enormous amount of time to walk from the hotel to the chapel, taking photos all along the way, and then another block of time after the ceremony as we walked from the chapel to the theatre for their reception, again taking more photos. It had the relaxed nature of an engagement session with the top-notch beauty of a wedding day. As a result, Joelle & Jeffrey have more portraits than probably any other wedding I’ve ever shot!! I’m not lying when I say the ones on this blog post are just a small percentage! If I were to get married now, I’d do this exact same format myself!
It started lightly raining for a few minutes after the ceremony, but that was it! Guests left the chapel and walked up the hill to the theatre.
The reception was set up on the theatre stage. Dinner and toasts were first, then we moved upstairs for their Chinese tea ceremony (my first time and it was so beautiful!). While we up there, tables were cleared for the dance floor onstage.
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography
Getting Ready Location: Graduate Hotel
Ceremony Venue: Danforth Chapel
Reception Venue: Englert Theatre
Videography: Anna Lam Studios
Florals: Willow & Stock
Catering and Cake Artist: Bread Garden Market
Hair & Makeup: Sugar Salon
Paper Suite: Minted
Bridal Gown: Grand Bridal
Linens & Chargers: Aero Rental