Photography by Alexandrea Lassiter, a-aweddings.com
“Our whole story begins with Chapel Hill,” says Joel Curran, the vice chancellor of communications at UNC. Technically, he and Shelley Blake were in Colorado when they hit it off, but they were a part of a Chapel Hill delegation during a 2016 trip with The Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce. The group toured Denver facilities and saw the city’s bus rapid transit and light rail systems, something Shelley, as then-general counsel of GoTriangle, was eager to see. (She’s now GoTriangle’s interim president and CEO.) Other trip participants encouraged them to work together, and they spent a lot of time talking UNC and transit.
The next fall, the pair started dating, and Joel, a UNC alum, invited Shelley to football games and meals at some of his favorite spots. “One of the first challenges she had was to expand her wardrobe with more blue,” Joel jokes. “It was fun to see her fall in love with the place the same way I had.” Soon they decided to spend the rest of their lives together, so Joel coordinated with his daughters, Kelsey and Addison, and Shelley’s daughters, Mackenzie and Savannah, for a proposal in Wrightsville Beach.
The May 4, 2019, wedding in Raleigh, Shelley’s hometown, was an intimate affair with just immediate family present. Laura Hayes Morgan, Joel’s former UNC colleague who used to be in charge of university events, planned the rest of the evening with plenty of food and fun for the guests who joined the newly married couple. There was one major Tar Heel touch – Joel and Shelley say their daughters surprised them by wearing Carolina blue dresses on the big day.
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