Couple Overcomes Odds; Competes For Dream Wedding
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 • 10:17pm
GREEN TOWNSHIP, NJ - For Jessie Vaughan and Tara Dippel, their relationship has been about overcoming the odds, and being challenged by obstacles since its beginning.
And they have overcome the odds again, this time in a positive way.
Jessie and Tara were one of three couples selected to win a wedding, courtesy of The Dream Wedding Team.
The Dream Wedding Team is comprised of four area businesses on the team, with a photographer (Anthony Ziccardi Studios of Sparta), a videographer (George Segale Films of Sparta), DJ (Global Productions of Sparta), a florist (Sussex County Florist of Sussex), and a jeweler (D’Andrea’s Jewelers of Wantage).
Both Jessie, 29, who grew up in Frankford; and Tara, 26, who is originally from Newton, were surprised they were selected. Tara’s mother had seen information about The Dream Wedding Team at the New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show. They beat out more than 100 other couples, based on a letter Jessie submitted to the Dream Wedding Team, unbeknownst to Tara.
"I just read the letter," said Tara during her interview by The Alternative Press. "I'm pretty impressed, he put everything right into the letter. It's incredible we're in the top three."
“I’ve always been a pretty good writer,” Jessie said. “It was tough, I work every day, and I was up until 2 a.m. writing this letter. To be completely honest, I never expected a call back.”
"A 'Dream Wedding' is something which every couple, who is in love, wish for in their life," Jessie began the letter with. "I’ve never been one to be good with words but when it comes to my fiancée I have no hesitation or thought needed to describe my feelings for her."
Jessie wrote about his over nine years together with Tara, with their wedding date set for their decade anniversary, May 11, 2013.
"We are not one of those couples who just met and decided, let’s get married and hope it works or thought we were in love, not knowing the true meaning or feeling of love," Jessie wrote. "We have experienced lots of ups and plenty of down moments since we first met, and we have persevered through all obstacles thrown in our way to be more in love than ever before."
Jessie said he and Tara met through his brother; she visited Jessie's home with his brother, and one of her best friends, who was dating Jessie's brother.
"She [Tara] was never really the 'look' of a girl I would be interested in, but I have an eye for the little things and I could tell at first sight I liked this girl," Jessie wrote. "That innocent smile and her quiet voice really sold me on her in the beginning but getting to know her and be around her more lead me to love her."
"He's very outgoing, and I sit there very quietly," Tara told The Alternative Press. "There was something about him that made me comfortable."
Jessie and Tara had the opportunity to spend more time together after their initial meeting, and then she went to the prom with his brother, and ended up speaking to Jessie all night after the event.
The two had some commonalities that made them relate easily to one another.
“Tara and I have not had the fortune of having an easy road in life,” Jessie continued. “We both had to take on large responsibilities at a young age, and were forced to mature a little quicker than most kids.”
Jessie’s father passed away when he was a senior in high school in 2001, from a rare muscular disease, forcing Jessie to concentrate on work to help his mother with the bills. Jessie helped his father at his paving business, and always had a strong work ethic, which continues to this day in his own sealcoating business. Jessie stopped playing sports during his sophomore year of high school to begin working to contribute to the household.
In 2003, Tara’s father also passed away due to heart trouble related to complications from his diabetes, shortly after she and Jessie began dating, and Tara helped care for her younger siblings.
“She was only 17 years old, and accepted the role of the mother to her entire family because she was helping her mother through a rough time too,” Jessie said. “Witnessing how Tara handled herself made me realize there was something special about this girl.”
As a couple, no one expected them to survive.
“’What do you think he wants from you?’” Jessie said Tara’s friends would ask her, based on his preppy appearance, and his outgoing personality.
They coined him a “pretty boy”.
“’He’s using you, he’ll hurt you in the end,’” Jessie said Tara’s friends warned her.
And female friends of Jessie's tried to discourage him as well from dating Tara.
“For those who labeled us, look at us now,” Jessie remarked.
“We’ve had a rough start, nobody thought we could make it,” Jessie said.
Jessie and Tara now have two children, Jayden, almost three, and son Dylan, four months.
Everyone who knows Jessie knows he is impulsive, and expected he would swoop Tara off to the courthouse sometime for a spur of the moment wedding. But, he had something different in mind.
One day, Jessie decided to shock Tara, and his family, and announced, “Let’s get married.”
They expected the courthouse, and he told them instead he had talked with Father Martin at their church.
Tara said she did not believe him until they began making the guest list, and looking for rings.
They booked the reception at Perona Farms, and ended up with a great price for an evening reception, which the couple began saving their money for.
And then Jessie and Tara had another unexpected surprise.
Tara was set to return to her job after maternity leave on August 1, and she was told, after six years of work, her company was overstaffed.
“We don’t need you anymore,” her former employer told her.
Now searching for a job, the young couple has run into the dilemma of paying for their wedding on one salary.
“You can never give up hope,” Jessie said. “When she lost her job, I lost a lot of hope.”
And then came their opportunity in the Dream Wedding Team Contest.
“Maybe God’s looking down on us, and saying, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll get through it,’” Jessie said.
Another small miracles came recently, when Jessie, who had previously been unable to afford an engagement ring for Tara, was approved for a credit card at Kay Jewelers. When the couple was recently shopping at the mall, Jessie told Tara he had to run to the bathroom, and instead ran to Kay Jewelers, and picked out the ring. While they were on the Lake Mohawk Boardwalk for their engagement photos for the contest, Jessie surprised Tara with it.
Click here to view the video of their engagement shoot, including photos of Jessie’s presentation of the engagement ring.
Tara and Jessie are one of the three couples, and the winner will receive over $10,000 in prizes, including $3,500 in photography, free DJ services for $2,000, free flowers valued at $1,000, free film at $1,500, and free bridal party jewelry up to $1,000.
Click here to learn about the three couples in the running for the grand prize, and vote for your favorite couple through Friday September 28. Directions to vote are on the contest webpage, and votes can be accepted once a day every day through the contest end.