The Internet may be replete with stories of couples who meet in the most unlikely of circumstances, like being seated next to each other on an airplane or ending up in the same subway train, elevator or dog park, but for the most part, it seems that the majority of couples can trace that life-changing meeting to mutual friends.
Such is the case with newlyweds Chapman and Jordan Archer, who first spotted each other on the steps leading to the dining hall at Presbyterian College just as school had started for the semester. Chapman had stopped to speak to a group of soccer players she knew. Among those players was Jordan, whom she did not know. “Jordan was seeing someone, so, once we were introduced, I didn’t think a whole lot more about it,” says Chapman.
Jordan, though, had a different reaction. “Even though we’d just said hello, something went off in my head,” he says. “It was one of those things you just can’t explain.”
Thanks to their close circle of friends, Chapman and Jordan got to know each other fairly well over the next few months, greeting each other at soccer games, on campus and at parties. Still, even after Christmas break, the two remained just friends even though they were now both single. By the spring, Jordan was ready to take the relationship to the next level. Chapman, still in “friends” mode, was surprised … and delighted. “I was taken aback when he texted about a date, but there was never any doubt that I’d go,” she says. “I thought that he was such a great guy.”
That one date changed their relationship and the course of their lives. “There aren’t a lot of restaurant options near PC, so we went to Columbia for that first date, which was dinner at Pasta Fresca, a movie and then dessert,” says Chapman. “It was an hour drive each way, so we did a lot of talking. By the time we got home, I knew he was the one. We share a lot of the same interests and values, from soccer to our faith, which is very important to us both.”
Top: The flowers, hand-tied bouquets and unstructured arrangements of roses and hydrangeas set against baby’s breath and greenery created a sense of simple elegance. Center left: Chapman with her mother, Lisa Dunbar. Center right: Chapman enjoying a special moment with her father, Greg Dunbar. Bottom: Jordan and Chapman both wanted the same thing in a wedding: a big party with great music, lots of food and the happy buzz of friends and family.
After more than four years together, Chapman and Jordan had grown so close that Chapman was certain there’d be no surprising her. “At one point near the end of my grad school, he said, ‘I’ve always wanted to marry you. Are you ready?’ I told him that I was, but assumed that he wouldn’t really propose for a while,” she recalls.
Soon after that, Chapman was rushing over to Jordan’s house one night after a Barre3 class to get ready for a work event they had to attend. When she arrived, she was startled to find the door locked. “I was annoyed and just started knocking,” she laughs. “When Jordan opened the door, he was on one knee and he proposed. I was so shocked … I just stood there. I never thought he’d be able to surprise me!”
Jordan couldn’t believe he’d pulled it off. “I knew she wanted to be surprised, but I didn’t think I could figure out a way do it,” he recalls.
He wasn’t the only one. Jordan had asked Chapman’s sister, Elizabeth, for help choosing a ring. “He called and said that he wanted to give her something she’d love, which was so sweet,” she says. “It was the hardest secret to keep!”
Chapman reworked her grandmother’s wedding dress with the help of Paula Makkas of Greenville to raise the drop-waist and use the lace from the sleeves to create the veil.
After spending two months celebrating their engagement, Chapman and Jordan got serious about wedding planning. Luckily, they both wanted the same thing: a big party with great music, lots of food and the happy buzz of friends and family. What they didn’t realize was how much work it would be. “We were one of the first among our group of friends to marry, so we had no clue what goes into planning a wedding,” laughs Chapman. “I was lucky I had my parents, Lisa Dunbar and Greg Dunbar, who really did almost everything.” First up was finding a date that worked both at Chapman’s church, Eastminster Presbyterian, and with Jordan’s priest, who is Catholic and would also be at the altar.
Next came finding just the right reception locale. “Since Jordan’s family was coming in from Charlotte, Chapman wanted to hold the reception somewhere that wouldn’t require a car or taxi,” says Lisa. “It was important to her to show off Columbia, too.” They found what they were looking for at 1208 Washington Place, a historic bank building that’s been refashioned into an event venue. “It was beautiful, historic and different, just what I wanted,” says Chapman.
The couple also chose to limit the number of attendants in the wedding. “My sisters and Jordan’s sister were my bridesmaids and my friends were honoraries,” explains Chapman. “We wanted to make both our friends and family members feel special without it being overwhelming at the altar.” That choice had an unexpected effect. “They were all so close, that as each groomsman passed Jordan at the alter, they shook his hand,” says Lisa. “Jordan approached each bridesmaid with a kiss on the cheek. It was completely spontaneous but so, so special.”
The couple wed at Chapman’s childhood church, Eastminster Presbyterian.
After an underwhelming day shopping for a wedding dress, Chapman was thrilled when her mother suggested that she might want to consider her grandmother’s wedding dress. “My great-grandmother’s cousin, Annie Mae Moody, actually made it for my grandmother, so it was doubly special,” says Chapman. “After all those years, the lace was in great shape, and it was still beautiful.” It also fit, almost perfectly. The only issue was the style. Chapman wanted a sleeveless dress with a high waist; this one had long sleeves and a dropped waist.
Enter Paula Makkas of The Perfect Fit by Paula, in Greenville, who is known to work wonders with classic wedding gowns. “Paula was amazing,” says Chapman. “She actually used the lace from the sleeves to make the veil. She raised the waist perfectly so that we didn’t even have to do any hemming. I was thrilled with how it turned out. We put a photo of my grandmother in the dress on a table at the reception. It was so special.”
Working with Ashley Daniel, Chapman’s goal with the design was to have a traditional feel with a bit of creativity — hence a touch of gold and her monogram.
Chapman and Jordan wanted their wedding to reflect their style, so they chose their food, flowers and music with great care. The couple had always loved the dishes they’d tasted at events catered by Loosh Culinaire, but when they met chef and owner Crawford Pressley, they knew they’d found their match. “He’s great to work with, and I love his style,” says Chapman. “He takes simple things and makes them better. We told him that we wanted to serve some type of grilled cheese sandwiches, and he made them with French cheese and truffles. They were so good, and just a little bit different.”
Other notable menu items included sashimi tuna topped with ginger, a massive cheese plate and phyllo-dough cups filled with well-sauced beef short ribs and blue cheese cole slaw. “If you’re holding your reception at dinner time, it’s a good idea to have lots of pickup food –– like that cheese plate –– set out for when people arrive,” says Crawford. “They’re coming for dinner and are starving.”
The couple also chose a “naked” wedding cake, created by Laura Cunningham, meaning one that’s unencumbered by icing or any other type of decoration. “It was unique and romantic,” says Chapman. It also gave the couple the chance to offer guests a variety of cake choices, which took the form of normal-sized layer cakes displayed on a side table. Among the flavors were blueberry-vanilla and chocolate-raspberry.
The flowers, hand-tied bouquets and unstructured arrangements of roses and hydrangeas set against baby’s breath and greenery, were stunning — and deceiving in their simplicity. “Each of the 17 table arrangements were slightly different,” says designer Joby Smith of DeLoache Florist. “The same flowers, but not exactly alike. It was a nice touch.”
The band, called Spank, was a no-brainer for the couple. “They were our favorite party band at PC,” says Jordan. “It was perfect and just what we wanted.”
One of the weekend’s most special moments occurred at the bridesmaids’ luncheon, when Lisa shared the traditional White Bible Ceremony with Chapman. “Chapman received five different flowers, and each one represented a different principle of marriage –– sincerity, purity, unity, passion and Christian growth,” explains Lisa. “The ceremony ends with the presentation of a white Bible. It’s a sweet and lovely way to share something so important.”
Another special moment was, perhaps, the shortest. One of the details that sold Chapman and Jordan on 1208 Washington Place was the tiny terrace that overlooked the reception space. During the reception, the couple slipped away to that private space, which had been set with a table and chairs. Like an oasis of calm, it provided a chance for them to spend a few minutes together to grab a bite to eat, toast each other and exchange wedding gifts. “So many brides told me that they never had a chance to eat or a moment alone with their new husband,” says Chapman. “We only had 10 minutes, but it was so special and made so much of a difference,” Jordan agrees. “It was really meaningful to look down and see all the people who had come to celebrate with us.”
Contributing photographer: Meredith Bedenbaugh