How They Met: A Reluctant Online Dater’s First and Only Tinder Date Turned Out to be “The One”

Emily Hudson, a Program manager from Rockville, was beyond reluctant to try online dating. “I was stubbornly judgemental about meeting my future husband ‘online,’” she says. However, after some prodding from girlfriends, in the spring of 2014 she finally downloaded Tinder—as a joke, she emphasizes, more as a way to be able to share the experience of swiping along with her girlfriends than as a serious dating tool.

Emily spent a few disgruntled days swiping left and wondering what all of the buzz was about, when suddenly James’s picture popped up on her screen. She was pleasantly taken aback: he was so cute, she couldn’t resist swiping right and even took a screenshot of his profile to send to her girlfriends, noting that there may actually be “a few decent guys” on Tinder after all. Shortly after they matched (and much to her surprise) James messaged her. The conversation began to flow and after a month of back-and-forth they arranged for a first date at Jacksons in Reston Town Center.

Emily was nervous… so nervous she nearly cancelled at the last minute. “I’d really started to like James in the time we’d been talking,” she recalls “I was terrified he was going to be weird, or rude, or just wrong for me in person.” James was the only match on Tinder that she had agreed to meet, but she was still considering calling it off, when her girlfriends chimed in once again. “What if you end up marrying him?” a friend pointed out. To this day, Emily still jokes with her friend about just how right she was.

James Willett III, a Cyber Security Analyst from Greenville, South Carolina, ended up being exactly the gentleman he represented himself as online. Plus, Emily says, he was even cuter than his profile pictures. “We ordered drinks before our table was ready sat and talked for a while, then talked more once we were seated. I can barely remember what we talked about but I remember how the conversation flowed. Like I’d always known him,” she says. “When he went to the bathroom halfway through the date I texted my sister about how great it was going. We nearly closed down the restaurant, and then saw each other for nine days straight after that. Once we met, that was it—we’ve been together ever since.”

A year-and-a-half later, Emily and James did just what her friend predicted and tied the knot in a beautiful wedding at Rust Manor House in Leesburg, Virginia. Take a peek at the stunning photos, shot by Stephanie Messick, below.

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James Berry Willett III + Emily Margaret Hudson | Stephanie Messick1
James Berry Willett III + Emily Margaret Hudson | Stephanie Messick2
James Berry Willett III + Emily Margaret Hudson | Stephanie Messick4
James Berry Willett III + Emily Margaret Hudson | Stephanie Messick5

My first impression when I first saw him was, he’s so cute! Pinch me!” says Emily.

Emily wore a sleek Vera Wang gown from Carine’s Bridal Atelier.

The bride’s favorite part of the wedding? The snow! Though they also loved the intricately-designed floral staircase by J. Morris Flowers. “It was breath-taking” the couple recalls, “the band was playing from the stairway landing as if it was a stage.”

“We got engaged on my 28th birthday in our home before my birthday dinner. Birthday’s are very special to me and we love the house we’re living in; it’s our first home together. The way he proposed couldn’t have been more perfect.”

James Berry Willett III + Emily Margaret Hudson | Stephanie Messick18
James Berry Willett III + Emily Margaret Hudson | Stephanie Messick19

James Berry Willett III + Emily Margaret Hudson | Stephanie Messick22
James Berry Willett III + Emily Margaret Hudson | Stephanie Messick23

James Berry Willett III + Emily Margaret Hudson | Stephanie Messick25
James Berry Willett III + Emily Margaret Hudson | Stephanie Messick26

The couple went with classic drinks as their signature cocktails: a Limoncello martini for Emily and a Kentucky mule for James. Their cake, a tiered creation from Fluffy Thoughts Bakery, was red velvet with chocolate ganache and buttercream frosting.

The Details

Photography: Stephanie MessickVenue: Rust Manor House | Day-Of Event Coordinator: Perfectly PlannedFlorist: J. Morris Flowers | Invitations: The Dandelion PatchCaterers: Great Blue Heron | Cake: Fluffy Thoughts BakeryHair Dresser: JJ Sherman of Hairstyles by JJMakeup Artist: Be BeautyBride’s Attire: Vera Wang, Carines Bridal AtelierGroom’s Attire: Vera Wang, Men’s WearhouseEntertainment: Bachelor Boys BandTransportation: Regal Limousine and Road YachtsVideographer: Shutter and Sound FilmsBridal Party Attire: Vera WangDonuts: B Doughnut

Assistant Editor

Hayley is an Associate Editor at Washingtonian Weddings. Previously she was the the Style Editor at The Local Palate, a Southern food culture magazine based out of Charleston, South Carolina. You can follow her on instagram @wandertaste.