Elegant black tie wedding in Oxon Hill, Maryland
Jessica and P.R. (also known as Jackson) live in Washington, D.C., where P.R. is a biometrics subject matter expert for the U.S. Government and Jessica is a leadership coach. They got married in Oxon Hill, Maryland at the Sunset Room. You can view their wedding website here.
How did you meet?
It was the afternoon, circa 1981 or 1982, when Jessica remembers her first encounter with Jackson. Some disagreement led them to the hallway outside the cafeteria to have it out. A small crowd encircled them both as they faced off, and then with one hand, Jessica shoved Jackson’s shoulder. From the crowd, someone shouted, “Ooh, she took the first lick!” Jackson just looked at Jessica and did nothing. Memory fades after that moment for Jessica, but Jackson maintains that she has no recollection of the disagreement.
Fast forward to their years at Fairmont Heights High School between 1984 and 1986, when Jackson was a star athlete on the Lady Hornets Girls Varsity Basketball Team and Jessica was one of the statisticians. Though the two never dated in high school, they spent countless hours together at games and on the team bus traveling. Jessica’s father loved girls basketball and supported by attending all the Lady Hornets’ games.
On June 3, 1986, they both graduated from high school and it was 29 years before Jessica and Jackson would see each other again.
Who proposed to who (or did you both propose)? Do you have a proposal story?
The following July, Jessica planned a surprise birthday party for Jackson and her sister Paulette whose birthdays are three days apart. Codes of secrecy filled the weeks preceding the July 9, 2016, party. Jackson was indeed surprised and enjoyed herself to the fullest surrounded by dear family members, friends and high school buddies. Jessica was relieved that the veil of secrecy had finally been lifted, and now all she had to do was get Jackson to smaller surprise family dinner gathering the following day at the National Harbor. Jackson was under the impression it was an intimate dinner for two.
On Sunday, Jackson and Jessica went bowling that morning and then came home to change for dinner. Jackson got dressed particularly fast—uncharacteristic of her as she is meticulous about choosing her outfits. They arrived at the harbor and were greeted at the restaurant entrance by Paulette and Jackson’s longtime friend, Lisa. Paulette and Jessica left the two alone to talk and wait for the family to get the table ready—or so Jessica thought. After about twenty minutes or more, Paulette led Jessica back to the restaurant and to the back door. Puzzled, Jessica noticed a long table set with no one sitting there, but the back door that led to the patio revealed a small crowd outside.
Jessica looked at Paulette and gasped, “PAULETTE!” knowing that she was walking into a very different scenario. Paulette’s eyes filled with tears and her lips trembled. Jessica walked through the door and saw the white aisle runner, Jackson at the opposite end wearing a tux and many of the family and friends from the night before surrounding her. This was not a surprise birthday dinner for Jackson, but a surprise proposal!
Jackson says that she can’t recall anyone wishing her Happy Birthday that day but admits that getting engaged was the best gift she could have ever received. The pair chose June 2, 2018, as their wedding date in honor of their high school graduation, the last time they saw each other until the death of a classmate brought them back together to be united for the rest of their lives.
What makes your relationship special?
Jessica: The fact that we have known each other for so long, and that throughout the 30 years that we were apart, our lives intersected in one way or another unbeknownst to us. We often say talk about how we were meant to be, and that upon reflection to the days when we were in high school, that Jessica was always standing to the left of Jackson (as a bride would at the altar).
Jackson: Jessica and I are on the same frequency, the same wave if you will. As we began to learn more about our families we realized our union was inevitable and destined to happen. The women who birthed us are born in the same month, they both married men who were born in the same month, they both married our fathers in the same month and same year. Jessica was conceived in July and I was born in July. I realized then that our lives were truly meant to be. We’ve both traveled the world and have had many highs and lows, we are both very well rounded individuals who have experienced life to the fullest as individuals and now we will do the same together.
What are some of your favorite memories together?
We’ve got so many, but if we have to choose, here are a few: Our wedding day tops the list, riding the Ferris wheel on our first date, meeting Michelle Obama, seeing Kobe Bryant play his last season with the Lakers in Los Angeles, Jackson’s birthday trip to Aruba and our honeymoon in Bora Bora. The first time I laid eyes on Jessica in the parking lot at our classmate’s funeral, I knew then even not knowing her relationship status that she was the one for me.
Jackson: One of my favorite memories is when I found out Jessica could cook. She had me thinking she could not cook the entire time we were in a committed relationship, however as soon as we were engaged, she told me to “go sit down” and whipped up the most amazing meal ever. Jessica had standards and even though I didn’t know, she decided she would not go all out even while we were in a committed relationship. She wanted more; she wanted to be my spouse and I love her for knowing her worth!
What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?
Entering the ceremony and seeing our loved ones, Jackson’s entrance—she danced in on a melody of music and from that point on, attendees would tell us they’d never be the same. The moment we saw each other at the ceremony. We didn’t do a first look, and that moment was epic!
How did you choose aspects of the wedding like the location, venue, attire, etc?
We looked all over D.C. and Maryland and wanted to keep our wedding local so that our loved ones could attend. It came down to a venue we liked to a degree but it had some limitations and lots of restrictions on what types of decorations we could have. We kept contemplating until one night while surfing the web on a whim we came across The Sunset Room by Wolfgang Puck in Oxon Hill, Maryland. We couldn’t believe we hadn’t seen it when we first explored National Harbor and further, we’d walked past the Sunset Room on our first date! Everything about the venue was perfect: The fact that it was the spot overlooking our first date, in the location where we got engaged and it brought everything full circle. When we visited for the first time, we both knew this would be our wedding location.
Jessica visited several bridal boutiques and saw a few dresses that if pieced together would be perfect, but not the one. There was one last boutique to visit, and when she walked by the shop window she thought, I’ll find my dress here. She tried on almost 30 fitted gowns up to that point, the attendant suggested she try on another style just for fun.
Jessica shrugged and said, “Okay, I’ll try it.” Well, when she tried that one on, the oohs and aahs that followed sealed the deal, plus she didn’t want to take it off! A veil studded with crystals was chosen to complete her look. Jessica’s shoe choice was a royal blue slingback and the color was her tribute to Jackson.
Jackson: I found Kenny Kas and expressed my vision to him regarding both Tuxedos. Kas gave his input and a masterpiece was designed. I have a love for fashion, and both tuxes reflected my flare and attention to detail. My ceremony tux was white with black detailed trimmings, and my second look was a royal blue tails tux. Both of my tuxedo shirts had been purchased about three years prior from Thomas Pink, I never wore them. My bow ties were tailor-made by The Well Groomed Man. Cufflinks were a gift from my wife Jessica from Nieman Marcus, a pair of white and black diamond and white cut cuff’s. Both shoes were by Christian Louboutin. With the white tux I wore black patent dandelion flats and with the royal blue tux, I wore a pair of black velour spike flats.
We’d love to hear about any special meaning that pieces of your wedding had for you.
In attendance were all of the people who mean so much to both of us. Our guests still talk about how much love they felt that day and they could tell that every detail was carefully chosen from the elements of the ceremony to the décor to the music, tributes and food. Our guest all expressed that they had never attended a wedding like ours ever!
Tell us a few of your favorite things about your partner.
Jessica: I love Jackson’s attention to detail; that trait compliments my personality well. I also love that she will not rest if someone has been wronged. She is my warrior.
Jackson: I love the fact that Jessica had standards. Jessica is loyal, dedicated, a gentle woman who knows how to take care of business, very intelligent and bright. She’s sexy, caring, loving, she’s a true giver, she’s a very balanced woman who loves and knows how to take care of our home, she loves me for me. She’s an extraordinary orator and communicator, most importantly she’s a distinguished woman of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated!
How long were you engaged before you got married?
One year, 11 months.
Why did you choose to get engaged and married when you did, and why did it feel like the right time?
We both knew that our union was special.
Do you have any advice for other couples about wedding planning, marriage or relationships?
Insist on vendors who support your vision one hundred percent. If they don’t, walk away—never settle for less than what you want.
You’re a team now. Everything you do should be in support of your union. Protect it at all costs, and keep your relationship private.
Jackson: Do not marry anyone just to say you have someone. Marry someone who’s truly meant for you. you will know when that person has entered your life. I never understood it when people would say “You will know” when that person comes along. I truly now know exactly what it means. Also keep in mind that you both are two individuals with separate goals and interests and at the end of the day, your spouse should be your greatest cheerleader and support system as you two grow individually but more important as your lives continue to synchronize in harmony as one.
Photographer: Emin Photography
Ceremony and Reception Venue: The Sunset Room
Florist: LaVe Floral Design
DJ: DJ Reece
Invitations: The Wedding Cards
Dress: Calla Blanche
Cake Designer: Fluffy Thoughts
Officiant: Thomas L. Bowen
Alaina Leary Lavoie
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