Jessica Doherty, True Date Project

Jessica Doherty, Founder + Photographer of the True Date Project, holding a camera

Jessica Doherty

Founder + Photographer

True Date Project

IG: @truedateproject

What is the True Date Project?

True Date Project was founded to give back to the couples of 2020 who were affected by the pandemic. We are a team of local New England photographers (all experience levels) offering donation based photo shoots to the couples who had to postpone their wedding day. We know this is a difficult time and wanted to give back. We coordinate and lead a photo shoot for the couple, or their mini celebration, to help them remember their True Date in a special way.

How did the project come to be?

Honestly, I was sitting on my couch one night during quarantine because I was furloughed from work… About a week before, I had a phone call with a good friend’s cousin, Jillian Howell. She’s an event professional, who let me pick her brain about the event industry. I had studied Hospitality Management and went back for a fifth year to receive my MBA. Jill gave me so much information that I will never forget, but I remember her biggest piece of advice about this industry very clearly. “This is a bad time to start a business but if you’re going to get to know couples, you’ve got to get creative.” 

I saw so many couples posting about their wedding being postponed and I thought to myself how sad it was that the date they had planned for would no longer be sentimental to them, and it may even be forgotten. This little idea popped into my head about the ‘true dates’ for those couples, and how there should be a way for them to remember it. I posted on my story to find local photographers that would be willing to donate their time, bought a camera, and started sharing on social media about the True Date Project. One thing led to another, and word of mouth started to spread like crazy. I told myself when it started that I would be happy if we could give back to 5 couples; August 16th will be our 37th shoot this summer. We have many more booked and inquiries continue to come in!

What is it like to work with couples on their original wedding date?

Oh my gosh. Magical? Rewarding? All of it. I cannot even find the words. These couples are so appreciative. We have been so lucky to meet people from all over New England, and even had 2 couples in Chicago! Being able to capture them, in a place that they love, surrounded by their nearest and dearest family and friends is unmatchable. Of course we miss big weddings, who doesn’t? But there is something nostalgic about these small intimate moments that never would have happened unless the circumstances were how they are.

Jessica Doherty, founder of the True Date Project

Do you see any trends or patterns in weddings that have rescheduled? 

I would label most of the weddings we have photographed as “micro.” They consist of 20 people or less, so they are extremely intimate. Typically, the officiant is a family member which makes the ceremony personal. I see this being a new trend in the industry. As the pandemic elongates people have to adapt; brides, guests and especially planners. We are used to large, 150+ people events. I think this is a great time to start planning small scale events based on the guidelines. ‘All the Best Moments’ happen when events are intimate, detailed, and sentimental.

How do you envision the future of the True Date Project? 

I envision True Date Project to become, True Date.

Based on the name and what I want to achieve, I’d create a larger network of photographers who are able to capture proposals, engagements, weddings and more. These are all dates that are meaningful to couples. 

Small events are going to be around for a long time. I’d love to continue coordinating large scale events, but for now, I’m adapting to this moment. It’s time for me to show local couples around New England that it’s possible to have your dream event with less than 50 people outdoors, or 25 indoors.

What is your biggest takeaway from the project thus far?

Team is everything. I cannot thank my amazing team of photographers enough for everything they have done for me and the couples of 2020. 

My team: Maria Barakat, Adam Amundson, Nicole Smith, Meg Hibbard, Jake Sundean, and Hattie Wanning.

They have donated their time and continue to teach me things I never would have known if I took this on alone. I’m especially thankful for Maria and Adam for taking on extra when life events have come my way that I could not control.

If you were to leave us with something to think about, what would it be?

People who give back are successful no matter what. Whether True Date turns into a business or its just remembered by the people we met through capturing their moments, I am thankful. This experience has been something I will never forget and I hope the couples of 2020 never will either. 

Being able to have the opportunity this summer to give back, learn, and meet so many new people has been extremely rewarding and I consider that success in itself.

Visit True Date Project to learn more.

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