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Jo Ann and Donald Marry in an Emotion-Filled Ceremony at the Hilton Durham Near Duke University

Meet Jo Ann and Donald, known to their friends as “The DonJo Show.” Being in each other’s lives is a direct result of prayer on both sides and you can tell when you are around them how important this deeper spiritual element is in their lives. It is evident in everything about them, from their kindnesses to each other and their friends to how they look at each other and instinctively reach out to hold hands. I love this photo of them; they look so regal and it fits them perfectly.

This photo and most of the ones used in this post were taken by Dajuan Jones of In His Image Photography. I had never worked with Dajuan before but hope to work with him again - and often. He is a huge photographic talent and a really nice guy and that makes for one heck of a good professional. You can easily see why they chose him when you look at his photos here and on his website. Thanks, Dajuan, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos for my blog.

When I arrived early for the wedding, Dajuan, Donald and all the groomsmen were still taking pictures while the ladies were getting ready elsewhere. This little alcove with all the chairs was a perfect photo op for the guys and Dajuan even added me into the mix.

Jo Ann and Donald chose as their wedding location the recently renovated Hilton Durham Near Duke University. What a perfect location and the staff, to a person, was very friendly and accommodating. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

During the ceremony, Dajuan was apparently all over the place, judging from his photos, but I was never aware of it. An invisible ninja style is a nice skill for a photographer to have.

Look at the happiness on Donald’s face as he watched Jo Ann enter with her dad .

What a tender look to each other once they were standing together in front of me.

 Donald wiping a tear from Jo Ann’s face during the ceremony.

The ballroom where the ceremony took place was elegant in its simplicity and was the perfect backdrop to the striking coral pink Bridesmaid dresses and other accents, like the rose petals strewn along the aisle.

They had ordered an aisle runner with their names and wedding date beautifully displayed on it. A very nice touch.

JoAnn and Donald wanted to include a Unity Cross, which they had found online. I had never seen this before and when they showed it to me, I was so impressed. The cross signifies the man and woman becoming one and God as the bond that holds them together. It is a beautiful symbolism with a beautiful sculpture they can keep in their home as a remembrance of their wedding and the true meaning of their marriage.

For the Unity Cross ceremony, as the minister speaks about the symbolism of each portion, the Groom inserts the empty cross into the stand, the Bride fills it with the scroll-worked cross, and the minister then pins it all together with three golden pegs, signifying that The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the true bond of the marriage.

In our planning for the ceremony, Jo Ann and Donald had asked if I included the traditional line in the ceremony about anyone objecting to this union and, assuming they would not want this included, I assured them I did not. However, to my surprise, they did want to include it. A bit skeptical, I said I would, and during the ceremony I was to learn why they wanted this. When I came to that part of the ceremony, I was to pause to allow anyone to speak and as I paused, they both turned from looking at each other to looking at all their guests with a funny, defiant look, that sent ripples of laughter through the room. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud myself. What a fun and unexpected moment!

Then came the pronouncement of marriage and the kiss - and another funny comment from them.

After the ceremony, they all left with Dajuan for the formal photographs and that gave me some time to take some photos of their decorations outside the reception ballroom. So much attention to detail - and in such a clever and elegant way; a poster of them designed like a movie poster, a photo of their hands holding, done as an oil portrait, pink lollipops by the guest book and CDs with pink labels of their favorite songs for all their guests, sealed with a monogram. It was all very nicely done.

While I was taking these photos, Lisa and Quentin came over to say, “Hi.” I had married them in 2006 and they are now neighbors of Jo Ann and Donald and were attending the wedding. They had very kindly recommended me to Jo Ann and Donald and I had a chance to thank them in person as well as catch up on their lives. Lisa and Quentin are still blissfully happy and it was great fun reconnecting. Here is a photo Quentin took of Lisa and me. Isn’t she just beautiful! 

Looking at the photos Dajuan took the rest of the evening, it appears there were wonderful things in store for the guests, like this first dance together as husband and wife. They were out there strutting their stuff in style and style is something they have plenty of!

Jo Ann and Donald, I know you will continue to go through life looking at the world in that special way you share. With your deep faith in God and each other, Life is sure to hold great things in store for you. 

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