It’s Wedding Feature Wednesday at Southern Bride & Groom! Today we’re excited to share Joanna and Shenduo’s stunning North Carolina wedding that marries Duke and UNC – the couple’s alma maters. Joe Payne Photography captured the lovely couple in these two iconic settings.
Shenduo and Joanna met while he was studying at Duke University and she was studying at UNC-Chapel Hill. Their relationship officially began on a starry night in the forest of the Great Smoky Mountains, surrounded by thousands of fireflies – a romantic night Joanna says she will cherish in her memory forever. As two young students in love, they spent a lot of time studying together in almost every library of the two schools.
A year later, Joanna graduated from UNC and moved to New York and their long-distance relationship began. It was on Joanna’s birthday, soon after the move, that Shenduo flew to visit her and showered her with gifts, including two best-seat tickets to one of the most popular Broadway musicals, a lavish dinner at a three-star Michelin restaurant, but the best gift of all was still to come!
After dinner, Shenduo suggested going to Brooklyn Bridge Park to enjoy the night view of the Manhattan skyline. When they arrived at the riverside, he said he had another gift for Joanna – a handmade photo card, on the front of which was a picture taken by him showing the tennis court near his apartment where they used to play tennis together. In the center of the court in the photograph, there were hundreds of tennis balls, which were placed in the shape of “I [heart] Jo.” On the inside of the card was a handwritten love note and some letters in bold red that spelled out, “Marry Me.” It wasn’t until that moment that Joanna realized this night of surprises had all been part of an elaborate proposal! It was the most picturesque scene as Shenduo got down on his knee in front of the sparkling Manhattan skyline.
It’s no surprise these Duke and UNC alumns chose the iconic Duke Chapel in Durham and The Great Room at Top of the Hill restaurant in Chapel Hill as ceremony and reception venues – a tribute to their relationship that bloomed on both campuses. They knew they would be leaving North Carolina after Shenduo graduated, so they wanted to make their last romantic memories there.
Joanna chose pretty pastel colors in shades of pink, worn by her bridesmaids and in the elegant bouquets by Tre Bella Flowers, for her late April wedding. As a nod to Duke and UNC, they chose Duke blue for the groomsmens’ ties and Carolina blue for the reception table linen. Other personal details included a backdrop wall decorated with with gold alphabet letter balloons spelling their names and vintage heart-shape marquee lights. They also ordered a customized cake topper from Etsy and Chinese favor boxes that represented “double happiness,” along with customized M&Ms.
Even though it turned out to be a rainy spring day, photographer Joe Payne captured stunning images, showcasing the tranquility of the day, the closeness of the couple, and the breathtaking beauty of the setting.SB&G PREFERRED VENDOR TESTIMONIALS
“We were very impressed by Joy Payne’s professionalism, efficiency, humor, and most of all, amazing photos! He has the great ability to capture the important moments without letting you realize he exists. On the wedding day, Joe really devoted the whole day to us. He even came earlier than the time we had asked him to, in order to catch every tiny moment. Joe gave all the photos to us in a very timely manner. You can tell he really put a lot of effort into digital editing – editing each photo individually based on the subject, light, atmosphere, etc., while many other photographers only use one or two pre-settings for all the photos. We really had a great time with Joe, and we felt very lucky to have him as our wedding photographer,” says Joanna.
” We feel blessed to have found The Great Room at Top of the Hill as our reception venue. The staff there are very professional, thoughtful, and experienced. What I liked most about them on our wedding day was that they took care of every detail without us having to worry about anything. We were thrilled when we saw the wall decor they did for us – it was even more adorable than what we could imagine! We also got a lot of compliments about the food and drinks. Thanks to their great work, we were able to fully enjoy every moment of that beautiful night with our guests and it left such an unforgettable memory in everyone’s mind,” Joanna shares.
“We chose Tre Bella Flowers because they were quite responsive and gave us a clear price breakdown quickly when we were doing inquiries. Everything about them is professional and efficient and the price is also very reasonable. I couldn’t have love my bridal bouquet more! I really appreciate their work,” Joanna states.
VENUE Duke Chapel | RECEPTION The Great Room at Top of the Hill Restaurant | PHOTOGRAPHER Joe Payne Photography | BRIDAL SHOES Badgley Mischka & Salvatore Ferragamo | FLORIST Tre Bella Flowers | CAKE Guglhupf | INVITATIONS Grapevine Print & Design | GUEST ACCOMODATIONS Arrowhead Inn Bed & Breakfast | TRANSPORTATION Classy Transportation & Smith Luxury Limousines