Gettin' Hitched | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Gettin' Hitched

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Models showcased stylish wedding dresses for modern brides April 9 at The Wedding in Highland Village.

Food, wine, dancing and love. That sums up the things I need in life. It also explains why I adore weddings.

You can imagine my excitement when JFP Editor Donna Ladd proposed that I start a wedding column for [FLY]. I would get to meet know down-to-earth engaged couples and share in their planning process, and then I'd attend and write about their wedding. Plus, I'd bring a hot date: my partner and photographer, Darren Schwindaman. Best. Job. Ever.

Most printed wedding announcements tend to be formal and formulaic. Hitched, on the other hand, will capture the one-of-a-kind features of each wedding and share each couple's story. In keeping with the [FLY] theme, Hitched will profile couples who take a do-it-yourself, simple but stylish, approach to their planning process.

The question was: "How do we find engaged couples?" The answer: The Wedding.

The Wedding was a first-time event in Jackson, held at Highland Village earlier this month. It was the creation of Kendall Poole and Emily Myers Garner of Soiree, and Shanna Lumpkin of A Southern Affair.

The three women wanted to create an event unlike the typical bridal show, where vendors are confined to booths that display their goods and services. Instead, the team envisioned taking guests through the full experience of a wedding and reception, interspersed with a cocktail hour and a wedding couture fashion show.

Darren and I arrived at The Wedding at 7 p.m. looking sharp. Friendly volunteers in black formal wear greeted us and gave us goodie bags of wedding swag. We walked past a large hanging floral sculpture that smelled heavenly, and headed straight for the champagne flutes. A string quartet in the gazebo ahead of us played "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" as guests began to trickle in.

I approached a young woman dressed in black who was sitting stiffly with an older woman in pearls. They looked uncomfortable talking to me and gave one-word answers to my questions. Nope, not a fit for Hitched. Moving on.

A woman nearby with tight curls and a polka-dot dress looked friendlier. Seated on the white leather couches with her mother, she introduced herself as Demetria Robinson. Robinson got engaged last year on her birthday, Sept. 20, and she'll be married Oct. 17, 2009. She plans to have a "classy simple wedding."

Boom. Hitched candidate number one.

After raving about the food with Demetria, I introduced myself to a pair of women in their 20s, Laurel Miller and Alison Hogan. They had been friends since playing soccer together in 7th grade. Laurel will be married May 23, and Alison on Aug. 1.

Laurel is crafty and has made her own wedding favors and centerpieces. Alison designed her own save-the-date cards and is committed to keeping her wedding small. Both are warm and welcoming, with the homegrown style that Darren and I were looking for.

Candidates numbers two and three, and a wedding next month to kick off Hitched. Done and done.

The Wedding event staff began ushering guests away from the vendors and toward the catwalk constructed for the occasion. Melanie Christopher, formerly of WJTV, emceed a full wedding fashion show over a DJ's dance mix. Darren snapped photos next to me throughout the show. After nearly an hour, he said, "I feel like we've exhausted every permutation of dress known to man."

It was then that I understood why many brides had brought their girlfriends, and not their fianc├ęs, to The Wedding event. Darren is normally patient with all things girly, but like many men, he has his limits.

After the show, the audience migrated into the reception area, where the group Book the Band was playing music. The guests lined up for a cake tasting from Cakes by Iris, Cupcakes by Crumb and The Cake Diva, each one pillowy and sweet. The air buzzed with conversation and laughter as people began to dance or take snapshots in photographer Adam Hudson's rentable photo booth.

As the evening came to a close, Darren and I walked around smiling. We had met all of our goals: eat, drink and find Hitched-worthy couples. Our night was complete, and our first wedding was just a little more than a month away.

If you're fit to be Hitched, e-mail Melia Dicker {encode="hitched@jacksonfreepress.com" title="hitched@jacksonfreepress.com"}. See an online gallery of photos from The Wedding at http://www.jacksonfreepress.com.

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