Stephen Rayfield and Jared “Jay” Bates made last-minute plans for their first date on Thanksgiving Eve nearly three years ago. That date would turn into many more shared moments over the next few years. At Jay’s own birthday party at the couple’s home in Chapel Hill, Jay surprised Stephen by proposing, and the festivities turned into one of the most memorable nights of their lives.
This spring, a rainy forecast for Memorial Day weekend gave way to a perfect day, and the couple was married under clear Carolina blue skies with a wedding on the Governors Club golf course. Friends traveled from as far away as the Middle East to celebrate the special day with Stephen and Jay. The ceremony concluded with bluegrass music from Big Fat Gap during the cocktail hour, bourbon and wine barrels and Carolina blue rocking chairs. The bourbon- and bow tie-themed wedding blended evening formality and Southern charm, a nod to Stephen’s roots.
After the wedding, the couple honeymooned on the other side of the world, splitting two weeks in Australia and Bali, Indonesia, where they saw the rainforest and dove the Great Barrier Reef before heading to the beaches of Bali and exploring temples. They wrapped up their adventures in Hong Kong and returned home, where their stateside adventure is just beginning.
Photography by Heba Salama