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Odell and Valerie went from a larger wedding to an intimate, micro wedding in about 72 hours flat.  It was an incredibly quick transition, but the love they had for each other overshadowed everything else.  Originally they weren’t planning to have a tiny wedding.  However, because of the quickly shifting changes with the coronavirus pandemic, they adjusted their plans so that they could get married before more restrictions were put in place in Virginia. 

Odell and Valerie met because of their individual journeys when they were both involved in “The One University”.  The One University, also known as TOU, is an online community that helps to guide Christian men and women through the 7 Stages of the Success Path to Marriage.  It is a program that offers classes, courses, mentoring, and opportunities to get to know other singles in the program in the private Facebook group and in-person meetups.  At the time, neither of them were actually searching for “the one” at the time.  However, on their journeys as single adults during a time which they were both learning more and preparing to eventually become a loving spouse in the future, divine destiny happened.  A Facebook post led to conversations, friendship, and a mutual desire to honor God with their lives and their relationship.  They were both involved in TOU, which led to them meeting on Facebook.   Valerie stated, “a Facebook post can lead to happily ever after when Jesus is in your DMs.”

The wedding day was originally planned to take place at a church in Newport News, Virginia when the coronavirus pandemic caused them to have to make several decisions about their wedding day.  They moved the wedding to an alternate location, found out that many of Valerie’s family members would not be able to drive in from out of state because of the pandemic, found a new location for Valerie and her bride tribe to get ready, and found a new location for Odell and his groomsmen to get ready.  They were such troopers, though.  They had the best attitudes, given the situation that was completely out of their control, and stayed focused on what was important: their marriage. 

It gave me so much joy to serve this incredible couple.  There were so many smiles!  They were truly amazing throughout the day, and met each challenge with a solution.  Their ceremony was delightful and inspiring!  At the beginning of the ceremony, Odell danced as he entered and danced all the way down the aisle. Honestly, it was the best groom’s entry I have ever had the privilege of photographing!  Next, the bridesmaids in their elegant violet and blue gowns and the groomsmen in their dapper purple suit jackets entered.  When it was time for Valerie to enter, Odell’s father escorted her down the aisle.  Because of the pandemic, Valerie’s stepfather and her mother were unable to attend.  The family really stepped up, though, to help make sure Odell and Valerie were both celebrated.  Valerie looked drop dead gorgeous in her lovely white wedding gown and chic birdcage veil.  Her smile as her eyes met her groom’s eyes spoke of the love she has for her groom.  After Valerie entered, Odell, who is a worship and youth minister, sang a song to his beautiful bride and even changed part of the lyrics of the song to describe how the even the coronavirus wasn’t going to ruin their wedding day.   Their ceremony not only reflected their energetic personalities, but also the commitment and love for one another and also their love for God. 

Before the reception, we walked behind the church to a park-like location where the sun was just starting to lower behind the trees.  The light was so perfect and glowy as they snuggled up for their bride and groom portrait session.  The smiles and kisses were abundant, and I had so much fun capturing their love! 

After a delicious buffet style meal was served for dinner at the reception, the newlyweds had their first dance and were gleaming brightly with so much joy! Following their first dance as a married couple, D.J. Lawrence started the party with some favorites that definitely hyped up the party. I am so grateful that I was able to be a party of this beautiful couple’s wedding day!

Empire Colonnade Arch by Hampton Roads Event Rentals