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Our love story began in the most DC of ways…at a political event.
We met on Capitol Hill as two staffers working together in the House of Representatives. Jilian came to DC as a bright-eyed California girl who worked her way up the ladder to become chief of staff to a Member of Congress. Allen arrived in DC the same year as Jilian as a boisterous lawyer and national security professional from the South. After spending some time in the Intelligence Community, they landed on the Hill and eventually became the staff director of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Interestingly, we crossed paths several times in work settings, always polite but running in different social circles. Several months before our first date, we went to get drinks with a couple of friends after a work event, including Matron of Honor Danielle. Even though we weren’t dating at the time, Danielle informed Jilian that Allen was a catch and that Jilian should consider dating him. As a fellow proud North Carolinian, Allen always knew Danielle had great taste.
During a particularly busy day at work, Allen received an invitation to attend an event at the White House. Lucky for us, the White House gave Allen a plus one. Allen had several interesting choices to take as his date, including Best Man Andrew. However, Allen felt a strong desire to ask Jilian, with whom Allen had gotten to know working together. Allen decided to ask Jilian to go with him to the event strictly in a work capacity, which he emphasized by asking over email. Jilian quickly responded that she would love to go and later suggested that we meet up for a drink a few days prior to the White House event just to get to know each other outside of work. Allen, always a sucker for a good cocktail and beautiful company, happily agreed.
We found ourselves at yet another political event on the day we were scheduled to get drinks. However, unlike previous work events, we kept catching each other with stolen glances and quick smiles. As Allen would tell it, he caught Jilian looking at him first, but Jilian would disagree and blame Allen for his admiration of her green dress, which matched perfectly with her dark hair and eyes. We finally broke free of the event and landed at Tunnicliff’s Tavern, a modest little bar in DC’s Eastern Market neighborhood.
As the night turned into early morning, through the laughter and banter, long stares into each other’s eyes, Allen’s wit, and Jilian’s flair for storytelling, we discovered something special – a certain connection that seemed to take on a life of its own. We didn’t want to leave the bar that night, but at the insistence of the bartender and fear of being arrested if we didn’t comply with leaving, we closed down the joint and walked into the brisk early morning, dreading the fact that we had to be at work in several hours. However, neither of us could stop smiling. We shared a kiss, and went our separate ways, each thinking of the other. To this day, we debate as to whether that evening at Tunnicliff’s was our first date, but for the sake of good storytelling, it was just the preview to the main event.
The next day, Allen woke up and called a mutual friend (bridesmaid Marissa) asking her thoughts and opinions on Jilian. Funny enough, Jilian had the same idea, and called Marissa later that day to tell her about how much fun Jilian had with that dashing gentleman the night before. Allen also went to lunch with Andrew and asked for his opinion, to which Andrew replied that Allen would be crazy if he didn’t try to date Jilian. As a fellow proud Californian, Jilian always knew Andrew had good taste.
When we finally went to the White House for the event later that week, we talked the entire night as if we had been best friends for years. After the event, and in need of a good meal, we found ourselves at the popular Hotel for dinner, where yet again, the night turned into the early morning filled with jokes, laughter, and discussions of life goals, religion, and of course, politics. We shared stories of our families and friends and our trials and tribulations. But the funniest conversation was about the irony in having known each other for years yet never knowing the natural connection we shared, hidden from us for all this time just waiting to be unlocked.
Days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months. As we traveled together and lived our lives in spite of the COVID pandemic, we felt a deep longing and love for one another that neither of us had felt before in our lives. We both realized that we wanted a life with each other and for each other. We became best friends and discovered that soul mates really do exist. After over a year of dating, Allen decided the time had come to seal the deal and started the “Great Rock Hunt.”
With the help and blessing of Jilian’s family, Allen was able to craft the perfect ring just for Jilian. Allen wanted to make the engagement special and decided to ask Jilian to marry him at the location of their first official date – the White House. Unfortunately, Allen was no longer welcome at the White House, and Allen didn’t want to wait until 2025 to ask Jilian to marry him. Also, there was a good possibility that Jilian would have asked Allen to marry her if she had to wait that long. She would disagree, but we all know it’s true.
Given the lack of ability to get into the White House, Allen decided that he would ask Jilian to be his bride at the same Hotel. With the help of Jilian’s friends, Allen convinced Jilian he had left town when he was at the location where there first meeting Hotel getting ready for the big day. Jilian, at a political event of course, was ushered out of the event by her friend who put her in a car Allen arranged, handed Jilian a letter written by Allen, and sent Jilian to the location. Jilian walked aimlessly into the popular Hotel and the concierge directed her to the suite overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. When she knocked on the door, Allen answered and poured Jilian a glass of champagne.
The words are now a blur, but our feeling that day still radiates within us. Through laughter and tears of joy, Jilian said “yes,” and the rest is history. Bridesmaid Ruth surprised Jilian by showing up on a special day and taking several pictures of us, commemorating our lovely evening when we decided to get married. However, neither our engagement nor our upcoming wedding is the complete story of us. We have so many beautiful chapters left in our story, and we can’t wait to spend every single one of them with each other. Through good times and bad, in sickness and in health, and in a life filled with adventure and likely politics, we look forward to each day God has provided us to be with one another. As the years go by and we turn old but still incredibly good-looking, we can’t wait to keep retelling the first wonderful chapters of our story to our friends and family.
We couldn’t have made it through planning our wedding and our wedding day without Angela at An Event Lady Production! My now-husband and I have very busy lives and don’t live in the Raleigh area, so we knew we needed a planner for our wedding. When I was looking for a planner, I did several consultations and was looking for a planner with whom I clicked. As soon as I did my consultation with Angela, I knew she would be the one to help us plan our big day. She accommodated our busy lives throughout the planning process, but also kept us on track when we needed to move more quickly. Some of my friends who have recently gotten married have complained that their planners were not as helpful as they wished, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth with Angela. She went above and beyond every step of the way to make sure that I had what I needed in the planning process. She level set with me when I needed to be more realistic, she resolved issues with vendors when they arose, and overall she just removed a lot of stress from the planning process. I always felt like she had my back, particularly in the few weeks before the wedding, which can be the most stressful. Whenever Angela and I were in planning or vendor meetings, she devoted 150% of her attention to me and always made me feel like her most important client. Importantly, she also kept vendors on track and honest, which I really valued during the planning process. On our wedding day, she made sure that my husband and I were not worried about any of the details, which was really important to me. I wish my husband and I could do our wedding over again, and if we did, there is no question I would use Angela and An Event Lady Production to help us!
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Bride – @jilyyroseCeremony
Post Ceremony Photo location @killjoycocktail
Reception Venue @events_raleighunionstation
Getting ready location @theumstead @stateviewhote
Photographer @truephotographync 2nd Shooter @davidmooreweddings
Bar services @aglassabove_
Bridesmaids MUA @microblandingbyrenna
Bridesmaids Hair @stolochimakeuphair
Bride ‘s MUA&Hair @stolochimakeuphair
Bride’s Gown @eddyk_bridal
Bride’s Shoes @badgleymischka
Bridesmaid Dresses @shoprevelry
Transportation @lifestyle_limousine & @bluediamondtransportatione & @bluediamondtransportation