A chance meeting leads to two West Virginians’ chance of a lifetime.

Leslie Dawn Garrett & Justin Clay White | Charleston | 10.13.17 | Photographed by The Oberports

Justin White had the perfect proposal planned. He’d bought the ring, fashioned a heart out of leaves in the woods, and even donned a suit underneath his hoodie. The only problem was that Leslie Garrett was late. She had spent her day traversing West Virginia to find a specific video game as a gift for Justin. By the time she arrived, the sun had set. “I almost did not propose to her because I wanted it to be a specific way,” Justin says. “But then I thought, ‘That’s life. Nothing goes as planned.’” Justin took Leslie to a spot on his family’s property where he’d always wanted to build a house and got down on one knee.

At First Sight
Three years earlier, Leslie and Justin had met at the Roane County Clerk’s office. Leslie was with her mom getting a copy of her dad’s birth certificate, and Justin was visiting his dad, who worked there. After seeing Leslie, Justin found her on Facebook and asked her to dinner. In a script only fate can write, Leslie actually had grown up in same house that Justin’s father had.

After getting engaged in November 2016, they set a wedding date for the following autumn. Friday, October 13 to be exact. Leslie and Justin weren’t the superstitious type, and the date seemed too iconic to pass up. “We’ll never forget the anniversary,” Leslie laughs. They did have to explain to guests that the wedding wasn’t Halloween-themed—although Justin did take pictures in his suit and a hockey mask à la Jason from horror flick Friday the 13th.

Room With a View
The couple considered a destination wedding, but they wanted family members to be able to travel to their special day. Instead, they opted for a place already filled with memories: Charleston. For their first date, they’d grabbed dinner and then strolled the riverbank at night. Leslie had also attended the University of Charleston.

Leslie’s pageant past meant she’d worn her fair share of dresses. Her wedding dress needed to top them all. “I felt like I tried on every dress in the store,” she says of searching through gowns at Oliverio’s Bridal and Prom Boutique. Finally, one last strapless mermaid dress transformed Leslie from a pageant girl into a stunning bride.

Signs for the wedding’s décor were made from mirrors Leslie gathered from thrift shops. She bought flowers from Sam’s Club and arranged them herself with help from family. The university’s Riggleman Rotunda didn’t need much primping for the reception, though. “The artwork is Sistine Chapel-esque,” Justin says. If the murals weren’t enough of a view, guests only needed to look outside toward the river and the beautiful dome of the State Capitol.

For My Wedding
On the banks of the Kanawha River, Leslie walked toward Justin while his friend, Clint Anderson, strummed a guitar rendition of Beyoncé’s “Halo.” “I will always remember the sun gleaming off the top of the dome,” Leslie says. Without wedding parties, the atmosphere was relaxed, and the focus was on the couple’s union.

Dinner consisted of finger foods, including cupcakes. A memory table on top of a piano featured both family members and animal friends who had passed, and guests signed a white guitar in lieu of a guestbook. The newlyweds danced to Don Henley’s “For My Wedding.” In honor of the first line—”For my wedding, I will dress in black, and never again will I look back”—Justin dressed in all black. Once evening fell they took pictures outside, just the two of them, to capture the moment. “We were finally married, and we could move on to that next phase of life,” Leslie says.

Leslie and Justin honeymooned by road tripping in a red Camaro out West. They’ve made their home in Spencer, near where they first met.

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Bride’s Parents
Pamela & Stanley Garrett

Groom’s Parents
Nancy & Charles White
Mary Beth & Mort Titus

Photographed by  The Oberports

Written by Jess Walker

Bride’s Gown
Oliverio’s Bridal and Prom Boutique, Clarksburg
Hair & Makeup
Katelyn Hollar
Veil & Earrings
Oliverio’s Bridal and Prom Boutique, Clarksburg
Groom’s Attire
JoS. A. Bank, Charleston
Hon. Anita Ashley
Kay Jewelers
Ceremony Music
Clint Anderson
Sam’s Club
University of Charleston, Charleston
Serendipity Cupcake Boutique, Hurricane
Pangaea Enterprises, Spencer
A to Z Rentals & Sales, Huntington
Bear Wood Company, Hurricane
Rashid Green Riverbank at the University of Charleston, Charleston
Riggleman Rotunda at the University of Charleston, Charleston




Written by Jess Walker
Jess Walker came to West Virginia to pursue her master’s degree in English, but stayed for the culture, nature, and stories. She writes for WV Living and Morgantown magazines. Her best ideas happen when she’s outdoors, preferably near a river and with a cup of coffee in hand.