What happened on Capitol Hill

What happened on Capitol Hill


Our featured couple:

Bride: Gabrielle Hughes, 30, teacher, native of Greenville, North Carolina
Groom: Timothy Hughes, 33, attorney, native of Asheville, North Carolina
Current Residence: Charlotte, North Carolina
Wedding Date: April 1, 2023
Venue/Location: Ceremony – Duke University Chapel/ Durham, North Carolina – Reception- Prestonwood Country Club/ Cary, North Carolina

If you ask most people about what is happening on Capitol Hill, they are likely to tell you about partisan infighting, political stalemates and who is doing more to destroy democracy in America. But those seeking a more positive message need look no further than the Capitol Hill experience of Charlotte duo Timothy and Gabrielle Hughes.

How They Met

(Timothy) Gabby and I met during the summer of 2011. I had just graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and was headed to Duke University Law School. During that summer, I interned in the Washington, D.C., office of North Carolina Congressman G.K. Butterfield.

(Gabby) I had just finished my first year at UNC Chapel Hill. Timothy and I never met one another on campus. I interned that summer in the Wilmington, North Carolina, office of Congressman Butterfield. His chief of staff was a family friend and invited me to D.C. to see the congressman’s D.C. office and take a tour of the White House.

The morning after my arrival, I was scheduled to meet the congressman in front of the Willard Hotel before walking to the White House. I was standing outside the hotel at 8 am waiting for him to arrive when I noticed a man around my age standing near the same area. He was well-dressed and looked like he was waiting for someone too.

(Timothy) I was also scheduled to meet the congressman to tour the White House. I saw her standing there and assumed she was also waiting for him. When I asked if she was waiting for Congressman Butterfield, she said, “Yes.”

Photo: Molly Lichten Photography

(Gabby) Congressman Butterfield walked us over to the White House and, after our tour, took a picture of Timothy and me in front of the White House. When I returned home to Greenville, I had it framed, and my parents kept it in their living room. Timothy went to law school in the fall, and I returned to UNC Chapel Hill.  Ten years passed, and we never crossed paths. We had not exchanged phone numbers at the White House and did not stay in contact.  Then in the fall of 2020, I came up as a friend suggestion on his social media.

(Timothy) I was practicing law in Charlotte by then. I do not know if you have ever had a time when you saw someone’s face and were like, “I know that person. I just don’t know how or where I know them from.” Seeing the friend suggestion was one of those experiences. I pulled up her profile and went through it. We had a lot of mutual friends. Then it hit me. That is the woman I met ten years ago at the White House. 

(Gabby) I was working on Capitol Hill when I received a message from him on social media. His face looked familiar, but I couldn’t pinpoint how I knew him. I was visiting my parent’s house a couple of days later when I walked into the living room and saw the picture the congressman had taken of us. I was like, “Oh, that’s the guy from the White House.” I immediately messaged him back. I wanted to know what had been happening in the years since we met. After I responded, we reconnected and began to converse.

(Timothy) We spent time developing a friendship and getting to know one another. It was her core values, such as her love of family and love of God, that attracted me to her. I call them non-negotiables. She was very passionate about her career and had been intentional about becoming a teacher. She was a very caring, loving and nurturing type of person.

(Gabby) One of the things that attracted me was his high value of family. That was important to me. Faith was something we connected on immediately. We had common interests in politics, sports, and travel. He is genuine, kind, and loving. He was ambitious, strategic, a thinker, and a leader who was involved in the community. Those qualities attracted me to him. Our relationship evolved organically, and we became girlfriend and boyfriend on May 1, 2021, while visiting friends in Ohio.

This Is ‘The One’

(Timothy) I remember standing in a skyscraper overlooking New York City and calling my dad, saying, “I really want to propose to Gabby, but I want it to be in April.” I asked for his thought about it, and he affirmed my thinking.

Her family’s core values were remarkably like my own. That was important to me. Like a custom suit, she fits in all my divots. Her life and core values fit my own. So, I began to plan the proposal. I knew I wanted to propose to her on Capitol Hill. The weather in April would be perfect for that.

Photo: Molly Lichten Photography

(Gabby) When we first started going on dates, I knew Timothy was the one for me. There were specific things that I had prayed about when I was single and praying for my husband. I asked God to make it clear to me when the right man came along. The things that were important to Timothy, his values, and what he wanted out of life aligned perfectly with what I desired. More importantly, they aligned with what I had prayed for in a husband.

I remember a conversation we had about children. I asked him what he would name his daughter if one day he had one. He said, “Kennedy.” I was shocked.  Since high school, I have always said that if I ever had a daughter, I would name her Kennedy. Even on that level, we were on the same page.

The fact that he lived in Charlotte was also a sign. For many years, my heart had desired to be in Charlotte. The fact that he was here made it clear that all roads pointed to Timothy.  I had a level of peace and comfort in knowing that he was the one. He felt like home.

The Proposal

(Timothy) I got her parent’s blessing in February. Now I had to determine how to pull off the proposal. I knew the side of Capitol Hill I wanted the proposal to be on and that I did not want many people to be around. That would mean proposing extremely early in the morning on a weekend.  The question was, how do I convince Gabby to be dressed up and walking around Capitol Hill at 7:30 am on a random Saturday?

I clerked for a federal judge in Charlotte when I got out of law school. I created a fake judicial event at the Supreme Court, and that judge helped me execute my plan. The Supreme Court is right across the street from where I wanted to propose. I told Gabby that this judge and I would present on a specific legal topic there. The judge sent me a formal email about the event, including what Gabby and I should wear. I even created a thirty-page PowerPoint deck of our presentation and printed it out. Twice a week leading up to the event, I told Gabby that I had to meet with the judge and rehearse.  Yes, I was all into this.

I spent hours researching photographers before selecting one. Then I developed a plan to get our families there without Gabby knowing it. I put together an incredibly detailed itinerary for them, providing minute-by-minute instructions of where I wanted them to be on Saturday. I had them wake up early that morning and wait in front of the Willard Hotel to surprise Gabby after the proposal.

Gabby and I flew to D.C. on Friday. I wanted to make it believable, so I reviewed my PowerPoint presentation’s printout throughout the flight, made notes in the margins, and circled things. Our families were already there and were out doing touristy things. I was concerned about inadvertently bumping into them, so I bought tickets for Gabby and me to attend the New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles game in Baltimore. We headed there as soon as we landed. I had the judge call me to ask if we had arrived safely and remind me where and when we would meet him the next day.

I hardly slept at all that night. I was extremely nervous about the weather, which was forecasted to be rain. I found myself pacing the room. I kept the presentation in my hand so that Gabby would think I was nervous about my presentation. She assured me that I was going to kill it. We were supposed to be at the Capitol at 7:15 am, so we took an Uber. I had arranged for the judge to call me during the ride and say he was running late. We would need to wait so that we could walk in together. This gave me the cover to suggest that Gabby and I walk to where I planned to propose.

Photo: Molly Lichten Photography

When we arrived at the Capitol, our photographer was there as planned, taking pictures of her husband. I asked her if she would mind photographing us and handed her my cell phone. She said she would use her camera and email the photos to me. To my surprise, another couple and their photographer were taking pictures at our spot. I had not planned for that. Fortunately, they did not take long.

Our photographer positioned us in the spot that I had selected. She took a couple of pictures of us and gave me the thumbs-up. That was my signal. I turned to Gabby and said, “That picture was very significant because that is the last picture we will take as boyfriend and girlfriend.” I got on my knee and said, “I love you. We have had such a great journey together and have developed a good friendship and a great relationship. I love you and want to be with you for the rest of my life.” Then I proposed. Gabby was overwhelmed. She was like, “I can’t believe this is occurring.” She was in shock. It was awesome.

 Gabby began trying to call her parents to tell them about the engagement, but nobody answered. After taking more photos around Capitol Hill, I suggested we take some in front of the Willard Hotel, since that is where we first met. When we arrived, our families were waiting for us in color-coordinated attire. After announcing our engagement and taking pictures, we all went to Founding Farmers for brunch. Then we went to a painting class, the Washington Harbor, and had dinner at Georgia Brown’s.

Photo: Molly Lichten Photography

(Gabby) Right after he proposed, the clouds moved out of the way, and the sun popped out. So, it was a beautiful day. I was so happy, just overjoyed. I did not have any clue that his planned presentation was a ruse. The proposal was beautiful and just perfect.

(Timothy) We had planned to become engaged; she did not know how it would happen. We wanted to get married in the Duke University Chapel. Reserving that venue is very strenuous, so we went through that process and obtained a wedding date before the proposal.

Wedding Planning

(Gabby) Wedding Planning was very smooth and easy. One of the first things we did was to hire SDS Events to plan our wedding from start to finish. We had talked with friends who had gotten married recently about their wedding planning process, and they recommended that we hire a wedding planner. Some had tried to plan it on their own and found the process to be incredibly stressful. We knew we wanted to enjoy our engagement and did not want to be stressed out. So, we thought hiring a wedding planner early on was a very worthy investment. SDS Events made the entire process seamless and smooth. They were with us every step of the way and were very professional. We also had a lot of support from our family and friends, who were all excited and willing to pitch in and help with anything we needed. We had a fun time planning.

Their Wedding

Photo: Samantha Clarke Photography

(Gabby) Our wedding was beautiful. We got engaged on Easter weekend of 2022 and married on Palm Sunday weekend of this year.

We were nervous about the weather because the forecast had a 70-80% chance of rain and thunderstorms. But the rain held off. The sun shined brightly on our wedding day, which was unexpected.

We had about two hundred eighty guests, so it was a big wedding. Our colors were white and gold. We wanted it to be a classic, elegant, and traditional ceremony. We had friends and family who came from all over the United States. The person who came farthest was one of Timothy’s groomsmen.  He and his wife came from Indonesia to attend. There were about 40 people at our wedding party. We wanted it to be a big celebration of both sides of our family and friends all coming together.

 We are both strong in our faith, so we wanted to incorporate those elements into our ceremony. We tied a unity cord based on one of our scriptures and lit a memorial candle in memory of our deceased grandparents. We had a close friend lay flowers down in memory of them. We also shared our first communion. Timothy’s dad is a pastor, so he officiated. Timothy’s cousin and two childhood friends sang all the musical selections. I walked down the aisle to the song ‘Total Praise,’ which my grandparents used to love to sing together in their church choir.

We wrote our vows. I read my vows first. When Timothy started reading his vows, I realized we had each incorporated some of the same scriptures and some precise wording in our vows. I was like,” Did he read my vows?”

Photo: Samantha Clarke Photography

(Timothy) The most memorable wedding moment was when our parents placed their hands on us and prayed for us. Then, Reverend Eve Rogers blessed us while the musicians were singing. That was an extraordinary moment.

Another special moment was the reveal at Prestonwood Country Club. Taking in the elegance of the venue and decorations was great.

(Gabby) The prayer and blessing were my most memorable moments as well. I also liked the Battle of the Blues. Timothy is a big Duke University fan. Most of our family and friends are from North Carolina and are also Duke fans. I cheer for North Carolina, my alma mater. There were lots of North Carolina fans there as well. We served signature mocktails. My drink, called the Carolina, was light blue. Timothy’s drink was darker blue, and called the Duke. Our guests were pretty evenly split about which was best.

The reception was at Prestonwood Country Club. We told the D.J. to play the 2000s hits as a nod to our middle and high school dances. We wanted that kind of vibe and energy at our celebration. It was a massive dance party, and everyone enjoyed celebrating with us. A special moment from the reception was when my sorority sisters from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated sang the sweetheart song to me. 

Photo: Samantha Clarke Photography

The Honeymoon

(Timothy) We are doing a two-part honeymoon, domestic and international. We are going to San Francisco for a week. That is the domestic part. Later, we have our international trip. We are going to the Seychelles in East Africa.

Advice to Others

(Gabby) Make sure you pray about it and are confident that the decisions that you are making are aligned with God’s will for your life. Growing up, Timothy and I were taught that if you are in the center of God’s will, that is the best and safest place for you. Both of us mentioned it in our vows. Through prayer and God’s word, having that confidence and certainty is the best confirmation and the only proof you need.

(Timothy) Have a list of non-negotiables. What are your core values that you are not willing to negotiate on? Then develop a friendship and get to know the person. People change, evolve, and are very complex. It is important to take your time and get to know the person and understand their thoughts and values. Then you can compare it with your non-negotiables and see if that person fits you well. 

Please leave a message in the comment section congratulating Timothy and Gabrielle and wishing them a long and happy life together.

Note: Are you engaged, married for one year or less, celebrating an anniversary, or renewing your vows and want to share your story? Click here to begin, or contact helen@qcitymetro.com.

Photo: Samantha Clarke Photography

Their Vendors

Wedding Planner: SDS Events LLC
Wedding Photographer: Samantha Clarke Photography
Engagement Photographer: Molly Lichten Photography
Videographer: J. Alexander Films
Wedding venue:  Duke University Chapel
Reception Venue: Prestonwood Country Club
D.J.: DJ Diesel
Dance Floor, Cloud, Photo Booth: Cool Receptions
Florals: JL Evans Designs
Linens and Chargers: Curated Events Raleigh
Rentals/ Décor: Pomp Posh Event Rentals
Stationary: The M Design Shoppe
Hair Stylist: Porsha Sharelle & Co.  
Makeup Artist: Glamorous Imperfections   
Bride’s Dress: Hayden Olivia Bridal 
Bride’s Shoes: Kailee P 
Pillowcase: Sunflowers and Ginger 
Balloons: Luxe Creative Designz 
Musicians: Integrity Strings 



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