By Alison Henry | Photography by Critsey Rowe Photography
Posted: Tuesday, Jun. 30, 2009
In the world of sports, timing is everything. It’s the intercepted pass to score the winning touchdown, the fade-away jumper at the buzzer, or the connected left hook after faking right. When it comes to love, timing is the sixth man, coming off the bench to forever change the fate of the game.
As a member of East Carolina University’s dance team, Jessica Mauch spent four years dancing on the very field where her future husband, Seth Wilfong, played football. But despite sharing mutual friends, hangouts and being within 100 yards of each other on game days, their paths never crossed. It wasn’t until the fall after graduation, at an ECU homecoming game, that the two finally met through a mutual friend.
“I distinctly remember thinking, ‘This guy is really nice,’ ” says Jessica, who immediately remembered Seth’s wilder days as an athlete. “It just goes to show that timing is everything. Had I met him at that point in his life, when he was single and out with (his teammates), I would have never given him the time of day.”
But this time she did, and two months later Seth called. The two began hanging out as friends and then began dating for the next four and a half years. During that time, Seth (a developer and partner in uptown’s EpiCentre) and Jessica (co-owner of New Directions, a screen printing and embroidery company she shares with her mother) traveled to exotic places like Greece and Croatia, as well as Spain, Italy and the Bahamas. Being frequent and experienced travelers, Jessica didn’t have any inclinations that she’d be receiving a proposal as they toured California’s famed wine country in June of 2008.
“I was never the type of person to put pressure on Seth,” Jessica says. “I figured if we didn’t get married, we’d spend the rest of our lives together.”
The couple arrived in Sonoma, and sipped and sampled their way to Napa. Seth didn’t know exactly where he wanted to propose, but he knew he would do it that day, June 19. After getting lost, and consequently hurrying to get back to Sonoma by that evening, Seth suggested they pull into the next closest vineyard on their route.
At the Mondavi Winery, Jessica and Seth slipped away into a little gated garden and cozied up together under a small umbrella. Curious as to why Seth was seated so close to her in the unbearable heat, she turned to face him and saw him pulling a box out of his pocket.
“This is your diamond, but not your ring,” he said, explaining to Jessica that although her custom setting from Perry’s Gold Mine was not ready yet, he just couldn’t wait any longer. As Jessica looked at her diamond, a security guard approached and asked if they had permission to be in the garden. “We just got engaged!” she said excitedly. “Can you please give us a moment?” And he graciously did.
Back home, Jessica began planning her wedding. Seth suggested they get married in November, to which Jessica promptly responded: “Seth, if you want to see me turn psycho, give me this November!” The couple decided on a March 28 ceremony at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dilworth with a reception at Mez in the EpiCentre.
During the planning process, Jessica accepted the stresses to come with stoicism. “I’m a pretty high-strung person, but planning a wedding really puts things in perspective,” she explains. “I had to sit back and say, ‘You know what? The majority of stuff is out of my control.’”
One of her first tasks was finding a photographer. It was important to the couple that they find someone professional and easy-going with a modern and unique style. Who they found was Critsey Rowe. “I met with her, and we just hit it off right away,” says Jessica. “She’s really, really professional and funny … I didn’t interview anybody after her. She’s the best. Everyone wanted to know who did our photography.”
Jessica’s next challenge was finding a dress. She knew she wanted a lace gown, but was discouraged by their excessively thick, heavy fabric. “Everyone tells you you’ll know when you try it on, but I think I ended up going to four or five different places before I made a decision,” she recalls. The winner was an ivory, turtleneck gown from The Lily Rose, which Jessica had completely remade into a V-neck.
Patterned lace was the central design idea for the remaining details of the wedding including the green and brown invites, the embellishments on the four-tiered chocolate and almond cake by Cheesecakes, Etc., and the bouquets of peonies, roses and hydrangeas arranged for the bride and her seven bridesmaids by The Place for Flowers.
On the morning of the wedding, rain fell from the sky as Jessica and her bridal party began preparing for the day in their parlor room at the Omni Hotel. Anxiety began to rise up inside Jessica as she realized the importance of the day ahead of her. “I was so scared,” she says. “Not in a bad way, but when I woke up that morning I was really nauseated. I got in the shower and I felt like I was going to be sick.”
“I was nervous about the attention — I know that sounds really weird — but I was nervous because everything had been built up to that moment, and obviously you want it to be perfect. But at the same time everything at that point is out of your control,” she explains. “I was trying to just take everything in and be in the moment, and not let myself get ahead of me. I was just trying to relax.” After some ginger ale and calming thoughts, she and the girls listened to music and continued getting ready in the suite.
At 2 p.m. on March 28, Jessica Mauch took a deep breath and walked solo down the aisle. Attached to her bouquet were two charms in remembrance of her father, Teddy, who passed away when she was just 14 years old. She wasn’t sure if she could do it alone, but she knew no one else could truly replace her father in that role.
Her lip started quivering as she looked at Seth and her mother, and she tried to remember to walk slowly and take in as much of the moment as possible. The ceremony was highlighted by a reading from Jessica’s uncle, a former pastor, who added a personal touch to the otherwise traditional Catholic proceedings. “I wanted someone who knew us, who knew our history, to really speak from the heart about us,” says Jessica. “With my dad not being there, he was able to say some things that were really important to me.”
The 250 guests in attendance then headed to Mez, where Party Reflections helped turn the already posh bar and restaurant into the EpiCentre’s first-ever wedding reception. The first-floor lounge was rearranged to make way for a large dance floor, and the mezzanine was transformed into a sultry seating area where guests dined on heavy hors d’oeuvres, Ahi tuna, and mini steak and potatoes. Tables were draped in rich chocolate linens. Vases of varying heights with purple tulips submerged in water served as centerpieces. The soft glow of candlelight cast romantic shadows through the space.
Videographers from KA Studios captured the bridal party as they made their grand entrance dancing down the staircase while guests cheered with green and purple pompoms. As further evidence of her grace and selflessness, Jessica’s main concern was the happiness of her guests. “All I wanted was to make sure everyone was dancing and having fun. I wanted to make sure it was a wedding everyone would remember because they had a great time. I think we definitely accomplished that goal!”