This is one for the history books; at least the Ashwood blog vault! (hehe)
Merissa contacted me last fall, shortly after Jake popped the big question. She was very precise and specific in what she wanted in her big day and I think they exceeded their own expectations on how the day would go; but before we share the details of their big day, let's take a walk down memory lane in the early months of 2015.
Merissa and Jake we both students of Bowling Green State University in Ohio. They met in a class they shared, where Merissa was the teachers' assistant. Jake saw Merissa give a speech in neuroscience and was instantly smitten. The following semester, a friendship blossomed over mutual taste in The Sopranos and they began talking almost every day! Although they were many miles apart, each decided to give the other a chance. Their first date took place in Columbus, Ohio on a Wednesday night. Jake insisted she choose the location, so Merissa selected a Mexican restaurant neither of them had ever been to before. They both ordered tacos and the messy nature of the food helped them break the ice immediately which they ended up talking for hours and everything clicked quickly. They visited each other back and forth only a handful of times before taking the plunge to be with each other for the long run. From there, Jake would move to their now home of Pittsburgh to pursue medical school at the University of Pittsburgh. Shortly after the come of fall, Merissa would follow Jake to Pittsburgh, where the rest of their lives begin.
An unforeseen test of true love fell upon them in the spring of 2017, however, that would rock their world unexpectedly, yet grew their bond stronger. Merissa was diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Thymoma. She would endure multiple surgeries and undergo months of chemotherapy. That would never stop either of them from pursuing each other and growing as a couple.
After 6 months of Chemotherapy, in October of 2017, they attended a charity event together that helps raise money for young adults battling cancer. They had a great time the entire evening out and when thet got home Jake surprised her right in the living room with candles and flowers! He popped the question on one knee and the following day Merissa had her final chemotherapy treatment!! Needless to say, they celebrated two huge milestones that weekend.
The week before the 'I do's', Merissa had finally gotten her chemo port removed. This was a very sentimental milestone for her, so she reached out to me one last time with details and requests. Having this wound; eventually scar; in her photos, was an important part of their lives. She did not want it covered, it was apart of her, of them. I brought them closer together and to where they are today, and that, is a bond like no other.
On April 18, 2018, We met up at the Mik Pappas courthouse in Morningside at high noon. The weather couldnt have been any more perfect after the crazy up and downs mother nature was throwing us in the weeks before, from snow to rain, sunshine to storms. We were greeted with mild weather, yet beautiful sunshine. Shortly after we all arrived, the ceremony was to begin. Mik began the nuptials and the room was quiet yet you could feel the emotion radiating through the two of them. They began their vows and it was truly hard to keep it together between the tears and laughter; it was some of the most beautiful words shared between two people in love I had ever had the pleasure of being in the presence of; I was truly moved by their devotion and pure raw love.... and waffles was it? ;)
After they sealed the deal with a kiss, we were off to one of their favorite places to spend with each other when the weather was nice, Highland reservoir and park. We had photographed many intimate and fun photos all around the park and water areas and some of their fun and beautiful outfit details. While chatting, I come to find that they had another favorite hangout spot, a coffee shop called Tazza D' Oro. Instantly, a lightbulb moment happened and I had to check it out for myself, as well as jump on the idea of awesome coffee house wedding session. YAAAASSSS! Check that one off the bucketlist, and of course, I was not disappointed in the outcome! Cutest, yet bumping coffee shop EVER! The employees and customers were so accommodating to our needs and we were able to grab quite a few snazzy photos in their cute and quaint little hangout spot.
To end off this beautiful and heart-string pulling intimate wedding,
I must give my personal thoughts on the new bride and groom. I only had the privilege of meeting and knowing Jake and Merissa for a short day, Yet their interactions and the way Jake could make Merissa laugh and smile, the way he looked at her and the latter, was enough to know that this love was absolutely real! They make the rest of us look like we have some work to do (only half kidding) I am so thankful they allowed me to be apart of their lives and this major milestone into their journey together. I wish you both the best in all of your en-devours and hope that I may work with you two again some day...
Merrisa & Jake Pemberton
Ceremony & Officiant : Mik Pappas - Morningside District Judge