April 20, 2021


Jessica Strelecky



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Rianna + Matt

Love Local 2021, Williamsburg Va

Rianna + Matt are the first winners of the first Love Local campaign and I am thrilled to show some of their images to you! What is Love Local you ask? I am happy to explain!

During the pandemic of 2020, many businesses suffered. There really was no safety net for small businesses. We relied on our own business savvy and the support of our local community. Not all small businesses made it, and those of us that did are beyond grateful for the love shown to us by our community.

Four small, local businesses teamed up to create a date night experience for a local couple with an epic love story. First Rianna + Matt shopped at Three Sisters Boutique– they provided her outfit for the day (the O.O.T.D… The Oh-ta-da) for her, then Posh Salon treated both Rianna + Matt to hair services (R. had her make up done too!!). Next was their photo session with yours truly! I spent time with them documenting their love & visit back to the campus where it all started. And lastly, they capped their magical time off with an amazing dinner at Amber Ox.

WOW, right?!

Meet Rianna + Matt!

I think the absolute BEST way to share their story is to let them tell you for themselves! Here is what Rianna + Matt submitted for the Love Local campaign:

Here is our story:

Matt and I met while at William & Mary (in late 2018)- he was a sophomore and I was a senior in my final semester. I was a neuroscience major and am planning to attend medical school in Fall 2021, so my senior year was spent mostly with my head in a textbook. I dedicated my time to my studies fully, and spent most of my time in the library. Conveniently… so did Matt.

We both used to study on the 3rd floor of Swem, also known as the quiet floor. The table that he would always sit at, and the table I always sat at, were right across from each other. I still remember the first time I spotted him – he had just stood up from his table, dressed in a white collared shirt, blue quarter zip, khakis, and boots. He was wearing a leather messenger bag, and looked like a 27 year old grad student. I was immediately intrigued. I had never seen him around campus before, but I knew I wanted to see him more.

After a few weeks of gazing from afar, I decided to make my move. It was about 11 PM on a Sunday night, the library floor fairly empty. I was studying for a Neurochemistry exam the next day, and as a way to procrastinate, thought to myself – “time to talk to him!” I waved from across the room at him. He didn’t see me. Okay, time to try again. I waved again, this time more vigorously, until he noticed.

He had these big bulky headphones on, which he moved slightly off his ears, before saying “Can I help you?” Great start, right!? I knew this was going to be a bit of an uphill battle. I introduced myself to him, mentioning that I saw him around in the library all the time, and figured I should say hello. We had a very brief conversation about what we were studying and what year we were, and then we went our separate ways.

While our conversation was minimal, it set the stage for more talking every time we were both in the library. Slowly our interactions became longer and longer, and I always went out of my way to start a conversation. Our convos turned into coffee breaks together, walks outside to get some fresh air, and soon, sitting at the same table because there “was no other tables open.” Matt is quite the gentleman, and spent about a month and a half getting to know me before finally popping the question.

It was January 2019 when he asked me on a date – I told him of course, but only if he cooked me dinner. Our first date was February 1st. He cooked me butternut squash risotto, and we watched the Princess Bride and cuddled on the couch. It was wholesome and light hearted, and I had so many butterflies. 

Matt and I’s relationship grew quickly, we became so infatuated with each other, spending every moment we had together before I graduated. I was going to be moving to Connecticut to start a new job in June, so the conversation about what we were going to do after I graduated was something both of us were nervous about, unsure about what the other was thinking. Eventually, on a weekend trip to The Outer Banks in April, I approached the question in the most blunt way I knew. He had mentioned how much his parents would love me, so I took that as bait, and said “So am I meeting your parents this summer?” And so the conversation began… 

As I’m sure you’ll guess, Matt and I decided to stay together, and give long distance a try. Both of us had been in failed long distance relationships before, but the love we felt for each other was so different from anything else we’d felt before. It’s the kind of love that is supporting, caring, addicting; the love that makes you want to be a better person so that you can be better together. Individually, Matt and I had both developed such strong, independent personalities, but together… we were unstoppable.

We couldn’t imagine not giving our relationship everything we had. We didn’t want to be apart. And so we did long-distance, and it was hard. It tested our ability to communicate, to prioritize, and to remain positive. In the end, it made us so much stronger. We only saw each other about every 6 weeks, but we never missed a day of speaking on the phone, never missed a weekend FaceTime date night, never missed a good morning and goodnight I love you text. For 10 months, we fell more and more in love with each other every day, only becoming more confident that our relationship could withstand everything. 

And then – COVID happened! While COVID has been a true challenge, it has also given Matt and I the chance to move in together – something we didn’t think we were going to be able to do until I graduated from medical school. Since his senior year is all online, we are living in apartment together in Falls Church, VA while I work as a medical technician in an Ophthalmology practice. The first few weeks in our first apartment didn’t feel real. It felt like an amazing dream that I didn’t want to wake up from. We live together so well, and given that both of our love languages are quality time and physical touch, living together allows us to really connect on a whole new level. We have been able to develop so many cute traditions together (like our morning routine together, or pasta Sundays!), have conversations about our future, find new hobbies together, and get a glimpse into the rest of our life.

This fall, I will start at Medical School. And Matt will be commissioning as a Naval Officer. Although we will both likely be in Virginia, a few hours of driving distance will separate us. We will both be extremely busy in our new roles, but our #1 priority will always be to each other. One of my favorite parts of our relationship is how much we support each other and root for the other to accomplish our goals, even though that means going back to long distance for awhile.

While I am confident that that Matt and I will withstand another year of distance, it would mean SO much to both of us to have a dreamy, out-of-this-world date in the place where it all began, Williamsburg. It would be so incredibly meaningful to have some beautiful photos to look at when we’re both missing each other. We also just celebrated our two year anniversary, and I can think of no better way to commemorate it than with a beautiful date in the place we met. 

Matt is my forever, and I know I am his. I can only thank Williamsburg for bringing us together.

Rianna + Matt Love Local by Jessica Barrett Photography Williamsburg, Va

Do you know the fable behind the Crim Del Bridge on campus?

Rianna + Matt Love Local by Jessica Barrett Photography Williamsburg, Va
Rianna + Matt Love Local by Jessica Barrett Photography Williamsburg, Va
Rianna + Matt Love Local by Jessica Barrett Photography Williamsburg, Va
Rianna + Matt Love Local by Jessica Barrett Photography Williamsburg, Va
Rianna + Matt Love Local by Jessica Barrett Photography Williamsburg, Va
Rianna + Matt Love Local by Jessica Barrett Photography Williamsburg, Va
Rianna + Matt Love Local by Jessica Barrett Photography Williamsburg, Va
Rianna + Matt Love Local by Jessica Barrett Photography Williamsburg, Va

Being part of this collaboration is one of the highlights of my year! Rianna + Matt are the ideal JBP Couple! They are lighthearted, easy going, and romantic. They have their eye on their goals and dreams, are up for any of my crazy ideas and they are so completely in love (I mean- did you SEE the way they look at each other!? wowza!)

Thank you, Rianna + Matt, for being part of MY story and allowing me to be a small part of yours. It is an honor and a joy to have worked with you both!

Until next time-

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