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MEMORABLE WEDDINGS
Jessica & Rob


Jessica and Rob share a first kiss as husband and wife.

Jessica and Rob share a first kiss as husband and wife.

Photography by Caleb Fleming, Big Box Photography

There is something magical about military weddings, especially one brimming over with Marines and miracles. It is no wonder Jessica Kelly and Rob Whidby served Thanksgiving dinner at their November wedding reception, for they had much to be thankful for.

First Date

Jessica and Rob met through Rob’s friend, Eddie, who lost both arms serving in Iraq. Eddie was involved in Operation Grateful Nation for wounded veterans. It just so happened that Jessica served on the board. Eddie introduced her to Rob, who moved to Houston to support Eddie after serving in the1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the Marine Corps.

Just before their initial introduction Rob was stung by a yellow jacket. Fortunately, Jessica was able to see past the swollen red nose. There was an instant connection and both fondly recall the awkward, funny moment on their first date when Jessica closed the car door on Rob’s leg.

They dated two years and Jessica relocated to upstate New York to earn her MBA. They went their separate ways, but fate intervened five years later. Miraculously Jessica survived a horrific snowmobile accident resulting in 21 broken bones and a brief coma. Rob heard about the accident and reached out to Jessica’s brother on Facebook. He then began calling her while she underwent physical rehabilitation in Boston.

Courtship & Proposal

 Soon Jessica moved back home to be closer to her mother and stepfather, Resa and John Wing of Houston. As fate would have it, she and Rob ran into each other at the Zac Brown concert during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. This reunion sparked another official round of dating. Both loved Army vs. Navy football games, concerts and road trips. They drove or flew to California, New York, Florida, Maine,  Arizona, St. John’s and St. Thomas and became inseparable.

Jessica and Rob vacationed in Boston and visited Gloucester, Maine — a place where Jessica had lived previously. They dined at her favorite restaurant and hiked up to the top of Brace’s Rock in Brace’s Cove overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean. The following morning Rob asked for her hand in marriage, recalling a previous trip when they snorkeled in an unexpected storm. The choppiness of the ocean caused Jessica to struggle, and Rob swam them both to safety. His proposal included a promise to enjoy the smooth water and also to carry Jessica through life’s rough waters to shore. After all, they had already experienced better and worse… or so they assumed until the unthinkable happened: Jessica underwent a routine MRI and learned she had a hole in her heart caused by the accident. This required heart surgery and Rob stood by her side as she underwent treatment.

The Wedding and Reception

Jessica married her Marine during Veteran’s Day Weekend on Nov. 10, the 237th birthday of the Marine Corps. The country club wedding ceremony was followed by a reception at the home of  bride’s parents on the golf course just minutes away.

Style:  “I love a romantic, rustic style with a patriotic flair,” says Jessica, who faced doctor appointments, hospital visits and instructions to avoid stress. She entrusted her wedding planning to her sister-in-law Natalie Kelly, a local designer (nataliekellydesigns.com) who was told, “Take that description and run with it!”

A November wedding date and festive fall hues blended a theme of red, white and blue with a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner menu and desserts such as apple, pecan and pumpkin pies. This inspired the floral hues in the bride’s bouquet of High & Orange Magic roses and touches of burgundy. Orange Mokara orchids added to beautiful centerpieces.

Jessica chose an Alvina Valenta soft fluted silk bridal gown with a sweetheart neckline, asymmetrical ivory Alencon lace bodice, ivory satin ribbon and jeweled floral detail. Her ensemble included a veil, Stuart Weitzman shoes and Jessica’s grandmother’s pearl necklace worn at her 1946 wedding. Bridesmaids wore dresses by J. Crew Wedding Collection, nude platform pumps and necklaces given to them as gifts by the bride.

The groom and groomsmen were all past or current members of the Marine Corps or Army. Rob wore his Marine dress blues and his groomsmen wore their dress uniforms and swords.

A simple but romantic three-tiered wedding cake was covered in butter cream icing, champagne-colored ribbon and simple flower accents. The top tier of Amaretto with Bailey’s filling sat atop a second tier of dark chocolate with Kahlua filling and a bottom tier of French vanilla with coconut filling. In a uniquely military tradition, the bride and groom cut their cake with a sword. The groom’s cake of red velvet and cream cheese frosting  was decorated with the U.S.M.C 1st Reconnaissance Battalion emblem.

Family and Atttendants: Jessica’s mother and the groom’s parents, Barb and Jim Whidby, proudly watched as Jessica was walked down the aisle by both her stepfather and her father, Jim Kelly. Family friend Judge J. Kent Adams officiated. Maid of Honor Lindsay Kelly (the bride’s older sister) was joined by seven bridesmaids: Nicole Higgins, Amy Whidby, Heather Morrow, Jennifer Rurak, Jessica Purvis, Amy Castranova and Natalie Kelly. Jessica’s niece, Julia O’Donnell, served as junior bridesmaid. Parker Kelly and Kaitlyn Kelly, Jessica’s nephew and niece, were adorable as ring bearer and flower girl.

Ryan Whidby, the groom’s twin brother and best man, joined seven groomsmen: Blake Barrington, Jeff Blanchard, Jim Piepgrass, Eddie Wright, Jim Kelly, Rhett Boren and Mark Puig. Additional sword detail included Charles Jackson, Nick Lavoie and Todd Martin who stood in for groomsman Eddie Wright and the Army soldiers who could not be in the sword detail (a Marine tradition).

Special touches: A surprise awaited Rob in the summer house of the property in honor of the birthday of the Marine Corps — a special Scotch, cigar and popcorn bar announced by Jessica during toasts. The guys spent the rest of the night drinking scotch, smoking cigars and swapping war stories from Vietnam to Iraq.

The beer in a variety of flavors was graciously donated by friends of the family, Cynthia Fisher and Jim Koch of Sam Adams Beer of Boston Beer Company. Included were bottles adorned with Jessica and Rob’s picture along with bottles of BrewlyWeds.

A post-ceremony BBQ for Veterans Day at the Wing’s Ranch in Navasota was held the next day. One hundred trees were planted and 21 (representative of a 21-gun salute) were dedicated in honor of veterans who touched the lives of the wedding guests and friends of the family including Sgt. Eddie Wright. The veterans gave a speech to acknowledge three of the most influential people with whom they had served and recognized them with a plaque on trees lining the driveway.

Behind the scenes: A beer-tasting bridal shower and a brunch in lieu of a rehearsal dinner were unique components in the pre-wedding festivities. The bachelor and bachelorette parties both included dinner and dancing. A flurry of hair and makeup, manicures, pedicures and massages prepared the bridal party.

Honeymoon:  The couple plans a honeymoon visit to St. John’s BVI this year when Jessica is medically cleared. In the meantime, she and Rob dote on their Golden Retriever Toby and are grateful to be surrounded by friends and a strong, supportive family.

Playfully holding Rob were bridemaids Nicole Higgins, Amy Castranova, Jessica Purvis, Natalie Kelly, Maid of Honor Lindsay Kelly, Amy Whidby, Jennifer Rurak, Heather Morrow, and Jessica Whidby

Playfully holding Rob were bridemaids Nicole Higgins, Amy Castranova, Jessica Purvis, Natalie Kelly, Maid of Honor Lindsay Kelly, Amy Whidby, Jennifer Rurak, Heather Morrow, and Jessica Whidby

Rob’s medals earned while serving in the Marine Corps.  The groomsmen wore a mix of Army and Marine dress uniforms. L-R: Eddie Wright, Todd Martin, Jim Piepgrass, Nick Lavoie, Jeff Blanchard, Best man Ryan Whidby, Rob Whidby, Jim Kelly, Mark Puig, Rhett Boren, Chuck Jackson and Blake Barrington.

Rob’s medals earned while serving in the Marine Corps. The groomsmen wore a mix of Army and Marine dress uniforms. L-R: Eddie Wright, Todd Martin, Jim Piepgrass, Nick Lavoie, Jeff Blanchard, Best man Ryan Whidby, Rob Whidby, Jim Kelly, Mark Puig, Rhett Boren, Chuck Jackson and Blake Barrington.

Rob writes writes Jessica a heartfelt note before the ceremony.

Rob writes writes Jessica a heartfelt note before the ceremony.

In a tender mother-daughter moment, Resa Wing ties the ribbon around her daughter’s waist and attaches the veil.

In a tender mother-daughter moment, Resa Wing ties the ribbon around her daughter’s waist and attaches the veil.

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Jessica’s Alvina Valenta wedding gown awaited the moment she would wear it as a bride.

Jessica’s Alvina Valenta wedding gown awaited the moment she would wear it as a bride.

Stuart Weitzman shoes were the perfect complement to her dress and veil.

Stuart Weitzman shoes were the perfect complement to her dress and veil.

Proud father Jim Kelly and stepfather John Wing walked Jessica down the aisle.

Proud father Jim Kelly and stepfather John Wing walked Jessica down the aisle.

Jessica and Rob share a first kiss as  husband and wife.

Jessica and Rob share a first kiss as
husband and wife.

A romantic sky was  the perfect backdrop as the new husband embraced his wife.

A romantic sky was
the perfect backdrop as the new husband embraced his wife.

The bride and groom’s  first dance as husband and wife.

The bride and groom’s first dance as husband and wife.

Bride and groom feed each other the first slice of wedding cake.

Bride and groom feed each other the first slice of wedding cake.

Jess & Rob take their Sam Adams from Mark Zientek of Carlton Woods who provided all of the catering and staff for the reception.

Jess & Rob take their Sam Adams from Mark Zientek of Carlton Woods who provided all of the catering and staff for the reception.

 The newlyweds make their exit.

The newlyweds make their exit.

The bride’s three-tiered cake was simple, romantic and included champagne ribbon and fall floral hues.

The bride’s three-tiered cake was simple, romantic and included champagne ribbon and fall floral hues.

The groom’s cake of red velvet and cream cheese frosting was adorned with the U.S.M.C 1st Reconnaissance Battalion emblem.

The groom’s cake of red velvet and cream cheese frosting
was adorned with the U.S.M.C 1st Reconnaissance Battalion emblem.

Rob’s medals earned while serving in the Marine Corps.

Rob’s medals earned while serving in the Marine Corps.

Wedding Resources

Missouri-City-Center-Special-Events-Business-Meetings-Gatherings-Venue-Catering-Sugar-Land-TX-0513CITY CENTRE AT QUAIL VALLEY The City Centre at Quail Valley is elegant and first class for 50 to 350 guests. Our Nationally experienced wedding professionals will provide you with all of your wedding wishes including our beautiful Bridal Suite and unique custom choices. Prices vary. Please call 281-403-8517. golfquailvalley.com 2880 La Quinta Drive, Missouri City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GEORGE RANCH HISTORICAL PARK “Begin your life together wrapped in more than 180 years of Texas tradition. Established in 1824, the George Ranch Historical Park invites you to make your own history at one of Texas’ oldest ranches. Charming facilities available for indoor and outdoor events, including the Beasley Chapel, Post Office, Guy Lodge Hall and their beautiful South Yard. Whether you prefer a sit-down dinner, an elaborate buffet, food stations or an hors d’oeuvres reception, their venue is a versatile and elegant space to host your dream wedding.” Contact Kristi Farquar. 281-343-0218 ext. 267 kfarquar@georgeranch.org 10215 FM 762, Richmond

 

 

 

 

 

 


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