“You are the finest, loveliest, tenderest, and most beautiful person I have ever known – and even that is an understatement.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
She is a high school Biology teacher – a former ballerina, a southern sorority belle. He is a high school English teacher – a former national champion swimmer, a bonafide renaissance man. Their students schemed to get them together and it actually worked. The rest is pretty much history and we couldn’t love this real-life Sappy Love Story more.
We are thrilled to celebrate Jordan and Matt as they tie the NOT at the very first Greenville NotWedding at The Peace Center’s Certus Loft tomorrow! We hope that you will join us for the party – grab your ticket here.
I first became aware of the existence of the incredible woman who would eventually become my wife through a wholly unromantic experience in May of 2009. Jordan was on campus at Christ Church Episcopal School interviewing for a Biology teaching position, where I was working as an English teacher. It was the end of the school day when a stampede of wide-eyed and shouting freshman boys burst into my room to announce that “the hottest girl” they’d ever seen was interviewing for the biology teaching position and that I “had” to begin dating her. An entire year of teaching them to avoid hyperbole all for naught! It wasn’t until much later that I realized how right they actually were.
We met in mid-August of 2009 as the CCES faculty reconvened after the summer months of vacation. I had just returned from a trip to Europe with my sister, where, fatefully enough, while sitting at a bus station in Rome, eating a donor kebab, and nursing a hangover, I had loudly and convincingly pronounced my desire to remain unmarried for many years to come (at that particular moment in my life, I am certain that the women of the world would have happily indulged my desire to stay single…). Jordan was getting adjusted to the school and her office, which happened to be a converted broom closet that she shared with our good friend Chris Forbis. Being a fellow young teacher, I went upstairs to introduce myself to Jordan and invite her and Chris to lunch with me and a couple of other colleagues. Jordan smiled and I could not help but think of those wild freshman boys from May describing her beauty in such adolescent terms. She really was (and still is) gorgeous. And with her gorgeous smiling face, Jordan announced that she appreciated my invitation, but had already brought her own lunch to school with her. She even held up her lunch box so that I would be convinced (in case anyone is wondering, yes, it was monogrammed). Thankfully, she changed her mind quickly and did join me for lunch that day.
We became friends through a Mystery Trip. The Mystery Trip, in fact. The Mystery Trip is an annual adventure to a destination unknown to the rising 9th grade students who embark from the CCES Upper School. It is meant to be a bonding experience for the students; a chance to get to know one another in circumstances outside their comfort zones. For the faculty, it is a chance to see who is the best at figuring out how to sleep well in charter bus seats. In 2009, we went to Atlanta. Over the course of a day, we jogged through the Bodies Exhibit, did the Dialogue in the Dark, visited the Coke Museum, the Georgia Aquarium, the CNN Center, ate at the Varsity, and went to a Braves game. Jordan and I did the entire thing together. We told stories about our college experiences, talked about our families, shared our thoughts on teaching, and generally got to know one another. Throughout the day, we realized that, at the very least, we would be fast friends from then on.
We kissed for the first time on my gigantic green couch, giggling, watching an episode of True Blood. I’m happy, in hindsight, that we interspersed those first giddy kisses with laughter. I feel like it set a great tone for all the kisses to come.
We fell in love over a long fall and winter that involved clandestine dates at one another’s apartments and nights out with friends and elaborate backstories. The freshman we taught could not know that we were dating, so we laid low and spent time in rather than out. In the process we got to know one another so much better, without show and without pretense. We allowed ourselves to be ourselves. We knew relatively quickly that what we were experiencing was special, and I could not have felt more removed from the version of myself that had vowed to stay single at that Roman bus stop just months before.
We got engaged under the live oak trees at Middleton Place outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Weeks of elaborate and textured lies had finally found us staying on King Street during 4th of July weekend in 2011. When we arrived at Middleton Place, we walked around the home to the terraces so that we could get a better view of the Ashley River and the marshes. Jordan complained that she had not worn the appropriate shoes for the occasion. I have no memory whatsoever of what I said when I proposed, but I do remember her the way her eyes lit up.
We were married on an uncommonly cool and beautiful June day in Aiken, South Carolina. All morning I was a train wreck of nerves. My best memory of that day, however, is the way those nerves disappeared when Jordan started walking down the aisle. She was unbelievably beautiful, and immediately upon seeing her the entire process of planning, gathering of friends and family, decorating, and every other hoop that is jumped through to organize a wedding became secondary and the true purpose of the day was abundantly clear. The reception (and subsequent after-parties) were wonderfully celebratory and the memories of hugs from our guests are indelible.
We’ve now been married for two years and continue to grow and evolve, both individually and as a couple. We are fortunate to have shared innumerable moments of joy that come with being newlyweds (and after two years, we still consider ourselves newlyweds). Our marriage has not been without significant trial as Jordan continues to fight with chronic migraine headaches, and not without the more trivial, minor trials of sharing one’s life with another. The result of such trials, as unpleasant as each may be at any given time, is ultimately positive as we continue to learn to grow and love in ways that we were not previously aware existed. Our advice to those who are getting ready to begin their own great adventure of marriage is to appreciate and feel inspired by that growth, to recognize how essential it is both personally and collectively, and to allow love for one another to evolve into something immeasurably better than even that happiness felt at the wedding.
Courtney Dox Photography