Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” This groom rediscovered his desire to continue looking for love after talking with someone he trusted.
Bride: Latonya Elsberry, 31, Active Duty Army/Occupational Therapist, native of Hope Hull, Alabama
Groom: Rudy Jefferson, 33, Professional Photographer/Sale Representative, native of St, Stephens South Carolina
Current Residence: Rudy – Charlotte, NC, Latonya is currently stationed at Fort Bragg, NC and will relocate to Charlotte
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Wedding Date: October 7, 2022
Venue: Embassy Suites by Hilton – Charlotte, North Carolina
(Rudy) In September 2020, I had a conversation with my cousin Beth and friend, Darren. I told them that I had given up on love. Beth mentioned that she knew someone that was my “type”. She seemed to think very highly of this woman, insisting that she had a great spirit about herself. Beth encouraged me to just meet her one time. I was not sure how well she knew this woman, but I trusted Beth’s judgment and knew she wouldn’t steer me in the wrong direction. Still, I went on Instagram to find Tonya, and to my surprise, I thought she was beautiful. I decided to be bold and send her a message.
Although I sent Tonya a nice message, she ignored it. Instead, she messaged me on my Instagram business page saying she needed headshots. I decided to play her game and treat her like a client, knowing good and well that I wanted to get to know her. We started this joke “Business first.” Eventually, we exchanged numbers and haven’t stopped talking since, October 12, 2020, to be exact.
(Latonya) I met Rudy’s cousin, Beth, in 2018. During a conversation with him, Beth spoke so highly of me that Rudy found my Instagram page and sent me a DM. Initially, I ignored his message, then started to complete my own investigation, first by talking with a mutual friend. I had to find out everything I could about this handsome guy and why he would randomly message me. I found out he was a photographer, and I needed headshots. I would never have guessed that my initial “business inquiry” would turn into us becoming inseparable.
(Latonya) Our first date was at Firebirds-Northlake. It was nothing fancy, as we were still getting a feel for one another. We had dinner reservations for 7:00 pm. Our initial conversation entailed asking very hard questions, like: “What are your short-term/long-term goals? What motivates you? Are you family-oriented? and “Do you prefer grits with sugar or salt?”
The conversation seemed very authentic and genuine. The next thing we knew, it was after 10 pm and we did not want the night to end. Looking back, we realize that dinner was the start of how we became great communicators over time. We have been able to ask each other the “tough” questions from the very beginning to really get to know one another.
(Rudy) I knew after a couple of times hanging out and having deep conversations that Tonya was truly THE ONE! Even before asking her to be my girlfriend, I had already made the decision that she was going to be my wife. I could completely be myself around her. She created a safe environment for me to be vulnerable. Our conversations just seem to flow naturally and so easily. We’ve both said we feel as though we’ve known each other our entire life. I just knew I couldn’t let her go.
(Latonya) Within the first few months of dating Rudy, I knew I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life. Although he’s very handsome and charming, it was the way he made me feel secure and protected. I was able to be vulnerable with him early in our relationship without the fear of judgment. He is also a man of God. What really sealed the deal was when he suggested we begin to pray together daily. I knew then he was the one God created just for me. Since then, we have not missed a day of prayer, acknowledging God first in everything that we do, together. From the way he loves God first then me, there’s nothing that we cannot accomplish together.
(Rudy) Our proposal was a complete surprise to LaTonya, even though she planned the party. In March 2021, two of my friends told LaTonya that I never had a surprise birthday party. It had been my intention all along to have my friends convince her to coordinate a surprise party. Everyone knew of the plans except LaTonya. Even her best friends kept the secret.
She got busy planning and coordinating a surprise birthday party for me. Little did she know, the surprise would be on her, and it would be a good surprise. My surprise birthday party turned out to be our proposal/engagement party.
(Latonya) Our wedding planning has been stress-free, thus far. With the help from our bridal party, Zola, and family, we have taken two to three tasks per month to complete in preparation for the big day. We believe it helps to set a date and book your most important vendors, caterer, DJ, decor coordinator, wedding coordinator, photographer, and venue at the beginning.
(Latonya) We are looking forward to our families witnessing our love on our wedding day. We both have big families, so to be able to have both in one location together will truly be a joyous time.
Where are you most likely to meet a spouse? According to The Knot 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, the most popular way to meet a spouse is through online dating. Here are the top places couples meet their spouse:
22% met through online dating
19% met through a mutual friend
17% met at school
13% met through work, either as a coworker or through work activities
11% met through social settings such as bars, concerts, or parties
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Photographer: Dorn- Long Photography
Videographer: Masterkey Productions
Wedding Coordinator: CreateHer Prints & Events
Décor: Your Signature Designs
Caterer: Divine Catering