An adventurous couple turned Oglebay into their dream wedding.
Jennifer Colby Nogay & Michael Howard Duffy
Wheeling | 9.24.22
Written by Taylor Maple
Photographed by Abbie Tyler Photography
We’ve all seen the story unfold—two people spark romance via the internet or an app, one of them claims they can’t meet in person because of a busy schedule or a faraway trip, and the other wonders if they’re being tricked. If the person in the pictures really exists. If it’s all too good to be true.
But the story of Michael Duffy and Jennifer Nogay isn’t something you’d find on a cringe-worthy episode of reality TV. When the two matched on a dating app, she really was living in Africa. Then, when she returned, she really did have a family trip to Key West. And after that, she really did have to zip off to Vegas with some friends.
“I was kind of worried I was getting catfished,” Michael says with a laugh. But this wasn’t that at all—this was the start of the rest of his life, and hers, too.
The two matched while Jennifer was finishing up an externship overseas. A scrap of cell phone reception allowed her to flip through some potential suitors in the Pittsburgh area on an app. She and Michael connected, hit it off, and continued to talk even as she was booked solid for a while after she arrived back in the States. But after a month of texting back and forth, they finally had their first in-person date, and they were both exactly what the other one was hoping for.
A Walk in The Woods
During COVID-19, Michael and Jennifer got into hiking, a merciful reprieve from being stuck indoors while shops and restaurants remained largely closed. About a year and a half after they started dating, they found themselves trekking Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. “We were just kind of going a little stir crazy and wanted to go away for a weekend,” Michael recalls. “And she had always told me she didn’t really want any proposal in public.” He was ready to take the next step.
“I could tell something was up because he was looking for a spot,” Jennifer says. “He was just walking around in circles.” Michael was trying to build up the courage for such a big moment. “It’s a little nerve-wracking!” he insists. The two felt more than ready to take the plunge, and it was an easy “yes” for Jennifer once Michael finally popped the question in those picturesque natural surroundings.
Not A Detail Out of Place
Oglebay in Wheeling was the destination for Michael and Jennifer’s October 2022 nuptials. And after a long period of the pandemic throwing a wrench into their plans, finally being able to see their hopes come to life was a huge relief. Jennifer—a West Virginia native—had grown up going to Oglebay with her family, and when the couple toured, their vision fell into place. “It felt very home-like to me there,” she says. Plus, the on-site accommodations minimized transportation for their out-of-town guests, and the staff was eager to make sure the couple and their loved ones were taken care of. Another selling point: The newly renovated greenhouse on the grounds, which the couple had big plans for.
A welcome party in the greenhouse the night before the wedding featured a live jazz band and offered the couple a chance to catch up with folks they hadn’t seen for ages before the hubbub of the actual wedding day. “Everyone’s still talking about it,” Jennifer says. “It was so beautiful. I really think it showed the ambience and the natural beauty of West Virginia and Oglebay. It was so fun having that jazz band in the back. It was so relaxing.”
The next day, the couple exchanged vows at nearby St. Michael Parish in a traditional Catholic ceremony attended by friends and family from near and far. Then, the group zipped back to Oglebay for a Caribbean-themed cocktail hour—an ode to Jennifer’s years spent in St.Kitts—complete with rum punch, botanical flowers, and a steel drum band.
The reception continued to wow. A “secret garden” theme featured romantic green and white florals and a dreamy, perfectly curated ethereal vibe. “We really wanted to have the ceiling draped to make it feel like you were inside a tent, and I went through a lot of extravagant leaps and bounds to make this happen,” Jennifer remembers. “At one point in the reception, I leaned backwards to look up at the ceiling, and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The way the ceiling was draped with all the flowers and the lights—it was one thousand percent worth it.”
Michael agrees. “When we were able to get down to the reception space and see that for the first time, and see all of Jennifer’s hard work and planning and everything come together like that, it was definitely impressive,” he says. “She was so happy, and that was a special moment for me, too. I don’t think we ever imagined it would come together like that.”
Jennifer credits their wedding planner, Shayne Souleret of Soiree by Souleret, for helping her execute the weekend exactly as she had envisioned it. “There were a lot of moving parts,” Jennifer says. “I’m a very detail-oriented person, so I had this vision of all these little things, and it all came together. If something went wrong, I didn’t notice it.”
This heavenly space offered some guests their inaugural taste of West Virginia—friends from California, Nevada, South Carolina, and Florida had traveled to the state for the first time. “They had a really good time,” Michael says. Jennifer said their out-of-towners were particularly pleased with the community that surrounded them. “They kept saying how nice everybody was,” she says proudly. “That they’ve never been in a place where people are so nice.”
Every lovingly crafted detail came together just as they hoped it would, and maybe even better. But in the end, the ambience around them only highlighted the true hallmark of the day—that they ended it together, loved ones surrounding them, finally and forever husband and wife.
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