Story by Liesel Schmidt + Photography by Griffin Vision Photography
Before Tinder, Grindr, or Bumble; before dating websites were even widely accepted as the way to meet people, Jordan Costen and Charles Sumpter met online one cold December night back in 2005. Both home from college for winter break, they logged on to an AOL chatroom and began a conversation that later moved from IM’ing to the actual telephone—though neither of them can recall who did the asking for telephone numbers. “Once we were on the phone, the conversation lasted for hours,” recalls Jordan. “We enjoyed learning about one another, but honestly, we were both skeptical that it could go anywhere.”
Even so, they took a chance on one another and they continued talking. Then, in January of 2006, Jordan took a bus to visit Charles at college, making his way from Howard University in DC to Union College in Schenectady, New York. Having waited for weeks to meet, Jordan and Charles embraced in the frigid New York air, both happy that their anticipation was at an end. Their first date was at an Indian buffet restaurant across from the Schenectady City Hall, though neither were that concerned with the food. “We knew there was something special going on,” Jordan says simply. Once Jordan made it back to DC, he received a call from Charles that made it all official.
They continued dating over the next 11 years. Then, on Christmas Eve of 2017, Charles made it even more official. “We were having a quiet night at home and Charles, my best friend, and I were watching TV and having dinner. At some point, Charles snuck off to our bedroom and came back with something behind his back. I had no clue what it could be but inquired and asked him to stop being silly. He then dropped to one knee, pulled out a box, and asked me to marry him. It was at that point that I realized my best friend was filming this exercise for all of my friends and family members to see. It was the happiest moment!” says Jordan.
Nearly two years later, on October 6, 2019, Charles and Jordan exchanged vows on the Cherry Blossom, a split sternwheeler and re-creation of a 19th-century Victorian riverboat that voyages on the Potomac River in Alexandria. Wearing white blazers with black slacks, the couple were pronounced married as 120 of their loved ones looked on.
Ready for a party, the newly married Costen-Sumpters changed into more colorful ensembles—a red blazer for Jordan, while Charles donned a shimmering black blazer—and joined their guests for the reception on the boat. After dancing and dining on a buffet of Southern cuisine, the couple cut into a two-tier cake decorated in their wedding colors of black and white, topped with a custom-made replica of their likenesses. “It was an absolute blast,” says Jordan, who works as an intern in social work with the City of Alexandria, while Charles is a management consultant with Deloitte Consulting, LLP. After the celebration, the couple began their life together, remembering that night so long ago when they took a chance on love.
Venue: Cherry Blossom, Potomac Riverboat Cruises • Suits: Lawrence Clothiers Photographer: Griffin Vision Photography • Cake: Alexandria Pastry • Ring: Jared • Catering: Bittersweet Catering