Committed to Their Vows and Each Other


Jessica Moore and Kevin Matthews, who met in college and married in 2015, learned to balance parenting and their marriage by putting their friendship first.

When Jessica Moore and Kevin Matthews got married Nov. 28, 2015, they made a solemn promise to renew their vows every five years on their anniversary.

“We take our vows very seriously,” said Ms. Moore, 31, who owns Backbone, an organization in Raleigh, N.C., that specializes in digital activism.

“Our very first client was Michelle Obama,” she said of the work Backbone did for When We All Vote, for which Ms. Obama is a chairwoman. Ms. Moore was a digital content consultant for the nonprofit organization, which was formed to help turn out voters.

On Nov. 28, 2020, Ms. Moore and Mr. Matthews kept their wedding-day promise by joining hands in a 90-minute virtual vows renewal ceremony at the Umstead Hotel in Cary, N.C.

Their original officiant, the Rev. Dr. Warren G. Blakney, a Church of Christ minister, led the ceremony via video from Covington, La. A Zoom audience of 75 watched catching a peek of the couple’s two young children, Kevin Matthews III, 2, and Carver Lillian Matthews, 4 months-old, who were right by their side.

Also tuning in were the couple’s parents, Tammie D. Moore and Jeffrey K. Moore of Cary, and Janet P. Lyons and State Senator Kevin L. Matthews, both of Tulsa, Okla., and a stepfather, Barry S. Lyons.

“We were 19 when we met in college, and we’ve grown an awful lot since then,” said Mr. Matthews, also 31, who owns Building Bread, a financial education company, also based in Raleigh. “We’ve learned how to manage our children while managing each other at the same time, which takes a lot of maturity.

“I also find that with each passing year comes a series of new adjustments, and to make those adjustments can sometimes be the hardest thing to do.”

[Sign up for Love Letter and always get the latest in Modern Love, weddings, and relationships in the news by email.]

The couple, who previously lived in Harlem, met at Hampton University, from which they each graduated. Ms. Moore holds a master’s degree in media, culture and communications from N.Y.U., and Mr. Matthews a master’s of science in technology commercialization from the University of Texas.

“For me, the thing I’ve loved most about these past five years is that despite having two children and busy jobs and trying to avoid a killer virus, Kevin and I have been able to maintain our friendship,” Ms. Moore said.

“Despite everything we have achieved in life, it was our friendship that came first,” she said. “I’m not willing to sacrifice that for anything else that might seem better.”

They became engaged in December 2014, after more than five years of friendship and two-and-a-half years of romantic adventure seeking such as skydiving, hang gliding and an occasional parachute jump at 10,000 feet.

In the ensuing years, especially since the arrival of their children, life, they both said, has become a different kind of adventure.

“We’ve grown by working together, by merging two families, his and mine, into one, before we started building one family, which is ours,” said Ms. Moore, who was born in Charlotte and raised in Raleigh.

Mr. Matthews, who grew up in Tulsa, asked Ms. Moore, for her hand in marriage in a restaurant in St. Louis, a city they had lived in, albeit briefly, early in their marriage.

He needed a little help from his friends in order to get the job done.

He enlisted the aid of two buddies from Tulsa. to assist with logistics, and brought along two more characters — both of whom were stuffed long before the appetizers were served — to assist in the proposal.

Mr. Matthews excused himself from the dinner table and returned shortly after with a Build-a-Bear couple, one stuffed bear in a red dress and the other in a black suit, the same outfits worn by the couple that night, so that Mr. Matthews could introduce the bears to Ms. Moore when they arrived on the scene.

“I was stunned,” Ms. Moore said of the bears. “I had never seen anything like that.”

When Mr. Matthews squeezed the right paw of the bear in the black suit, a message he recorded said: “Jessica Moore, will you marry me?”

“I didn’t expect that bear to propose,” Ms. Moore said, laughing, “I thought it was such a beautiful idea.”

Mr. Matthews said he missed Ms. Moore terribly during the early years of their relationship, which was long-distance with Mr. Matthews first working in Dallas for two years and St. Louis for another year .

Now they live together in Raleigh at the other end of the spectrum, where they remain cooped up on a daily basis as they stay clear of the coronavirus. Ms. Moore and Mr. Matthews each said that they have very little to complain about.

“In addition to destroying so many lives, the virus has also forced most people to spend much more time together than they ever had before,” Mr. Matthews said. “In our case, spending more time together has been pretty amazing. If anything, being together this whole time has made our relationship stronger.”