Once in a while, I get to photograph someone special. I mean really special. Not simply because they are a president. Or a celebrity. Or an exceptional athlete.
That happened when I got to photograph the wedding of Jasmine and Fozzy. They were some of the best, coolest, people I have been lucky enough to photograph. And I meet a lot of great people.
Jasmine is working on her master’s degree at the University of Texas. Fozzy has already earned his, also from UT. (Hook’em horns!) But while many recognize Fozzy as a running back for the Carolina Panthers, this is a love story.
It’s not surprising that Jasmine and Fozzy met at UT. Fozzy first saw Jasmine volunteering at a bake sale, raising money for one of the organizations she supported. He wanted to impress the gorgeous brunette who caught his eye, but unfortunately, he had no money with him. When he rushed back later, cash in hand, Jasmine was gone. Her volunteer shift had ended.
But Cupid still had a few more arrows in his quiver.
A few weeks later, Fozzy and Jasmine crossed paths again at a back-to-school pool party. Fozzy, a football player, thought Jasmine was cute, but Jasmine wasn’t checking for him. Undeterred, Fozzy contacted Jasmine on Facebook Messenger. Being the ambitious, driven, young man that he is, Fozzy asked Jasmine on a date. They went to a movie… and Jasmine hated it. To make it up to her, Fozzy took her to a second movie, which she hated just as much. Their next few dates consisted of Fozzy asking Jasmine to see movies she couldn’t stand. Obviously, Fozzy’s boyish charm must be pretty amazing, because despite all the cinematic disasters, Fozzy won Jasmine’s heart. They fell deeply in love.
Fozzy knew Jasmine was the woman he wanted to marry. Privately, Jasmine hoped he would propose, but she thought if he did, it would be during the off-season, after graduation. Whenever he asked, he wanted his proposal to be a happy memory Jasmine would never forget. Fozzy knew Jasmine loved Sea World. The week before he reported to training camp, Fozzy asked Jasmine if she wanted to go to Sea World. She was ecstatic. Jasmine’s favorite cousin, who was driving through Austin, asked if she could be dropped off, and arrived at 2 a.m.
After an early breakfast with her trainer, Jasmine went home and was told to get ready for Sea World and to pack a dress for dinner with her family. She rolled her eyes at Fozzy and said “My family will probably just order pizza. I don’t need a dress.” To “be obedient,” she said, she tossed a wrinkled dress from the clearance rack at H&M into her suitcase.
As Jasmine finished packing, Fozzy said he had to sign a few autographs at a jewelry store before they left. Jasmine, worried they would miss their trip, began to get upset. Fortunately, Jasmine’s cousin (who knew Fozzy was actually picking up Jasmine’s engagement ring!) kept Jasmine from getting too worried.
Finally, Fozzy came home and they were off to San Antonio. The ride was fun, filled with karaoke and laughter. As they pulled into the city, Jasmine saw the Tower of the Americas building, and asked Fozzy if he would take her to dinner there one day. She had no idea Fozzy had already made reservations for them that evening!
As they enter Sea World, Fozzy “decides” to take Jasmine to swim with the beluga whales. Jasmine wanted to cry! Not only had Fozzy fulfilled her lifelong dream of going to Sea World, she was going to be up close and personal with the whales! As they check in, their “entourage” has now grown to include Jasmine’s cousin, mom, brother, aunt, and Fozzy’s mother.
Jasmine hears that there is an extra charge if people simply want to watch the Beluga Experience, which doesn’t sit well with her. She encourages the family to enjoy the rest of the park and the rides, so they don’t have to pay extra just to sit and watch. No one leaves, and Jasmine wonders why everyone is still following them.
Eventually, the Beluga Experience begins and Jasmine has the time of her life. She is a little terrified of the huge whales, but having fun nonetheless. As the experience ends, other guests leave the tank. Only Jasmine and Fozzy remain in the water with the whales. This makes Jasmine nervous, but apparently there is “one more trick.” The whale trainer tells them both that Fozzy will throw out a buoy, and the whale will retrieve it and return it to Jasmine.
Unfortunately, things don’t go quite that smoothly.
Fozzy throws out the buoy, the trainer gives the whale the signal, and the whale DOES NOT retrieve it.
Since the first whale didn’t seal the deal, a second whale is sent in to do the trick. THIS WHALE DOESN’T LISTEN, EITHER! So, here they are, the only people in the pool with disgruntled whales. Jasmine is certain that the whales are tired. She thinks the safest and kindest thing to do is to jump ship (figuratively speaking) and get out of the pool. The trainer and Fozzy, however, insist on trying one more time. So the first whale, Martha, is brought back, and the buoy is thrown out one more time. This time, Martha retrieves the buoy, which reads “Will you marry me?”
Jasmine burst into joyous tears and says “Yes!”
That evening, Fozzy surprised Jasmine with a romantic dinner at Tower of the Americas and at the restaurant, Fozzy gave her a Louis Vuitton handbag she had been dreaming of. “Everything was just so perfect,” Jasmine said.
The couple decided to get married at Nature’s Point in Texas, surrounded by family and friends who have been close for decades. Their wedding palette included hues of blush, ivory and gold. Jasmine made sure that when their wedding day came, it was full of things that expressed her and Fozzy’s individuality and personalities.
Not content with many of the cookie-cutter, off-the-rack bridal gowns, Jasmine chose the unique Inez Di Santo Breeze gown. Fozzie has loved super heroes since his childhood. Jasmine put Lego super heroes in the groomsmen’s boutonnieres. Each man had his own super hero persona, and Fozzy’s was Captain America.
Playing off the dress and the super hero theme, Fozzy and Jasmine decided to share one wedding cake, rather than having the traditional bride’s cake and and separate bridegroom’s cake. Half of the cake was inspired by Jasmine’s wedding dress, and the second half was Captain America for Fozzy. Blue Note Bakery did an amazing job and even made a lazy Susan to spin the cake.
The ceremony was lovely, with the couple’s nieces as flower girls, and their son, Frost, as ring bearer. Their wedding palette included hues of blush, ivory and gold.
Throughout the wedding day, people commented on how much they could feel Fozzy’s and Jasmine’s personalities. especially during their reception entrance and first dance. The newlyweds entered their reception showing off their new wedding bands to the song “Diamonds Dancing,” and immediately the guests knew the party had started!
Since Fozzy and Jasmine didn’t want an awkward, slow first dance as man and wife to some cliche love song, they got with their DJ beforehand, watched a little YouTube, and choreographed their own dance. When they took the floor, they began with the love ballad “Thinking Out Loud,” by Ed Sheeran. After boring their audience with a simple sway, the DJ then mixed in “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars and the two broke it down with their own choreography. This was a very special moment for those who know the couple, because Jasmine is not a dancer by any means.
After the first dance, Fozzy had one more trick up his sleeve. He brought in a saxophone player to serenade Jasmine on the dance floor with his favorite song, “Beauty,” by Dru Hill. In this moment, Jasmine forgot that 250 guests were watching. It seemed as if it were just the two of them as Fozzy sang, his rendition entirely a tribute to Jasmine and his love for her.
Afterward, family and friends joined the couple and danced long into the night under the Texas stars. In the mix, Fozzy and Jasmine were fortunate to be joined by friends each has held close for years. Fozzy, a friendly optimist who draws strength from his religious faith, holds himself to a high standard.
One of Fozzy’s friends, who has known him since he was 8 years old, told me he has never even seen Fozzy drink a soda. (His mom does admit he loved root beer floats.)
Even though I am just his wedding photographer, I also can attest to his generosity, klindness, and decency. He once chatted and played video games with a 14-year-old fan, just to be nice. When Marvin Ridge Middle High School asked him to speak at their football banquet, he could have given a 10-minute speech and left. He came early, signed autographs for all the boys, gave a first-rate speech, and stayed late answering questions from players and their families.
Jasmine, also surrounded by childhood friends, was overjoyed that many of her sisters from Delta Sigma Theta came to the wedding to share this special milestone with her. You can see many of them in the photos, giving the sorority sign.
As the reception ended, the guests created a beautiful trail of sparklers leading to the Aston Martin getaway car, in which the couple rode off in style. Over the summer, they plan to honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas.
What was the best part of their wedding day?
“Becoming husband and wife!” the couple said. “Hearing the declaration that (we) were now ‘Mr. and Mrs. Whittaker’ was confirmation of faith, love, and endurance.”