The road to matrimony was not always easy for Darrell and Brittany Jones. Through it all, they remained steadfast, united and in love.
Bride: Brittany Smith-Jones, 34, microbiologist, native of Gaffney, South Carolina
Groom: Darrell Jones, 48, lab specialist, native of Columbia, South Carolina
Current Residence: Columbia, South Carolina
Wedding Date: December 19, 2021
Venue/Location: Crystal Ballroom – Rock Hill, South Carolina
(Darrell) Brittany and I met on Valentine’s Day 2008. I was working for Acorn, a nonprofit organization that was working to raise the minimum wage. At the time, we were also working on Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. I met Brittany at the University of South Carolina, where she was attending college.
(Brittany) I was at a campus gas station getting gas and Darrell was out getting people to sign up to vote. He saw me and asked, “Why are you by yourself on Valentine’s Day?” I told him, “I don’t know, I’m single, that’s what single people do.” He asked me for my phone number, and I gave it to him. He waited a few days, then called me. We talked for probably seven hours straight. After that, he took me on our first date.
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(Darrell) She was a very attractive young lady. I found her very appealing to the eye at first. Once I got to know her, it was the intelligence and drive to succeed that made me want to be a part of her life and make her a part of mine. She had the body and the brains.
(Brittany) Darrell called and asked if there was a movie that I would like to see. I’m kind of a nerd, and I like fantasy movies. I told him I wanted to see “The Golden Compass.” I really didn’t think he would be into it, but I found out he loves fantasy movies too. So, he was all for it. We really enjoyed the movie and went out to dinner afterwards. We talked for hours.
I love playing video games and have always owned all the PlayStations and everything. He had a PlayStation 2, so we went back to his apartment. We sat up half the night playing The Prince of Persia and other video games. When I decided to go home, he called, and we talked on my way back to my dorm room. The next morning when I woke up, there was a text saying good morning and that he wanted to meet up again. Since then, we’ve just been inseparable.
(Brittany) Our interests, hobbies and things we like to do were so aligned with one another. When it came to my schoolwork and drive to move forward, he was always one of my biggest cheerleaders. I’m not a person who takes a lot of risks, but he is, and he would always tell me go for it, dream big and go bigger. He would encourage me to do things that weren’t always in my comfort zone, and they always turned out well. He was always comfortable when he came around my family, friends or anybody that I cared about or was affiliated with. Once my family got used to the age difference, he just meshed right in. It was like he was just part of the family.
(Darrell) Brittany and I have been through a lot, first, because of the age difference. The fact that she stuck around and worked through those issues reassured me that I had somebody in my corner that would be there for me when the chips were down. That’s what I thought, and still believe, marriage is all about, having somebody there in your corner when things are good, as well as when things are bad. Knowing that they’re going to be right there by your side until the day we leave this world. So, when I knew that she loved me and was steadfast during those rocky times, it assured me that if I chose to spend the rest of my life with this woman, she would be there by my side, willing to go to bat for me. That’s when I knew she was the one.
(Brittany) We kind of knew that we were building up to getting married. We had already been in a relationship for nearly twelve years. For much the first 10 years of our relationship, my family had been very reluctant to accept it. They felt that because he was so much older than me, he was trying to take advantage of me. But throughout the years, I kept getting better and I was never hurt. There was never a time when I was not meeting the goals that I have for my life. Once they saw that, they relented or kind of gave in. We had been coming around my family for about the last five years, and Darrell had gotten very close to them, especially my immediate family and my father in particular.
Of course, you’re excited that you’re getting married and taking the next step in your life, but it’s devastating to lose somebody, especially for a female who has grown up with her father being a pillar in her life. It was hard for me and for Darrell, being as close to my father as he was, especially during the last five years. It was rough. We almost didn’t have a wedding. We really wanted to just go off somewhere and elope with just my mom and sister, and his brothers and uncle with us. But my mom convinced us that my daddy wouldn’t have wanted it that way. He would have wanted me to have the full experience of a wedding.
We were planning to get engaged at Christmas of 2020, so that we would be around our family, but that didn’t work out. We had been around each other in November of 2020 and we got COVID, all at the same time. My daddy went into the hospital November 25, 2020, and he was intubated on December 15. My dad was never able to recover. Darrell proposed to me December 10, 2020, about a week before my dad was intubated, so he was able to give us his blessing. He passed away in January of 2021.
(Brittany) After we decided to have a traditional wedding, planning was crazy. Normally, people plan a wedding a whole year in advance in order to have everything set up. That wasn’t the case for us. It wasn’t until May that we actually took my mother’s advice to get married in a venue, so from May to December, we had to book a venue, find dresses, get suits, get everybody together, and get our paperwork signed. All the things that you should do in a year, we did them in six months.
I made my bridesmaids take a day trip to Atlanta because I had found the perfect dresses there. Thank God for my mother, Aunt Diana, Aunt Judy, and my little sister Jasmine. Without them, I don’t know what I would have done. I’m so thankful for everyone who made our day special.
(Darrell) I just left everything to Brittany and her mother, and I pretty much stayed in the background. I got my guys together to get their fittings and everything done and things like that. But I pretty much left the planning up to them.
(Brittany) Wedding planning seems easy, but it’s not. All kinds of things pop up that you’re not ready for or didn’t foresee. It’s a little difficult and stressful, but I guess at the end, it was worth it.
(Brittany) We had a traditional wedding with about 140 guests. The Crystal Ballroom is absolutely beautiful. We had a sand ceremony and jumped the broom after saying our vows. Our colors were gold and purple. We had written our own vows but before the wedding we decided that using the traditional vows was less stressful.
We got married shortly before Christmas, so we got everybody little shot glasses in gold boxes that looked like Christmas presents. The ceremony went by so fast. Once I walked down the aisle, it was over. It was the best blink of an eye I’ve ever experienced.
My most memorable moment was our first dance. The song we chose was “U Move, I Move” by John Legend and Jhene Aiko. Our dance was a bolero. Darrell and I enrolled in ballroom dance classes to learn it. It was so much fun. I also enjoyed the reception. Everybody was on their feet, dancing and having a great time.
(Darrell) My most memorable moment was seeing her walk down the aisle to me and becoming my wife.
(Brittany) We chose not to have an official honeymoon right now. We stayed at the Cambria Hotel, which was beautiful, and went home. We had spent a lot of money to make the wedding exactly as we wanted it to be, and we felt like we needed to stop the bleeding. We did spend a few extra days at the hotel before going home to enjoy some time together.
(Darrell) My only advice to somebody who is getting married or thinking about getting married would be to try to marry somebody who’s your best friend. I think that’s the most important tool for a successful, long-lasting marriage. When you marry your best friend, even if you have days when things aren’t working out too well, you’ve got two best friends. You always have something to fall back on to keep you balanced.
(Brittany) Although your wedding day is important and memorable and something that you look forward to, it is just a day. Don’t be so anal about it. If things aren’t going perfectly, don’t stress. It’s just one day. You have a lifetime with your partner.
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Photography and Videography: Smithalee LLC
Venue: The Crystal Ballroom
Catering: Creative Catering
Cake: Kustom Kravings
DJ: Tim (Cube) Goudelock
Bride & Groom’s Attire: New York Bride and Groom Charlotte
Bridesmaids Attire: Bridals by Lori
Makeup: Glam by Tiffany