Drew and I married Jan. 4—14 months after we met and four months before we graduated from Mississippi State University. It was entirely too cold for cap sleeves, but I had planned for a May wedding. Life is full of surprises, like meeting someone who grew up right down the road in a coffee shop hours from home.
Our wedding was a family affair. My mother and I spent hours tailoring and revamping her 30-year-old dress. It was a real "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" moment when I realized that I could fit into my petite mother's gown. My older sister Brittany Burton, who was my matron of honor, decorated the Loochapola Lodge at Tishomingo State Park—it was also the site of my parents' nuptials. She created the floral arrangements of my dreams (and my Pinterest page). Along with a few friends, my mother made the reception food, a long buffet of southern dishes. She also made my cakes, all three of them white and adorned with flowers.
My wedding began around 1 p.m., four hours before the actual ceremony. Drew and I were able to have some time alone before the inevitable chaos. I wrote a note for him on blue butterfly paper before I left Jewel's Place—the best and only bed and breakfast in Belmont—and had our photographer deliver it. When I arrived to meet him at Loochapola Lodge, he had just finished reading it, and he turned to look at me as we stood on the deck where my parents said their own vows, the same deck I had played as a child.
"You're perfect," he said.
He retrieved two wrapped boxes from his pocket. One held an emerald teardrop necklace and the other, a pair of emerald earrings. Drew looked at me and noticed the gold embellishments on my dress and the gold earrings I was already wearing.
"Well, I thought you might wear these, but you've already got all your swag on!" he said, noting the white-gold finish of the necklace and earrings.
Leave it to Drew to use the word "swag" during a romantic moment. I laughed and put on my new jewelry anyway, allowing him to clasp the necklace for me, his hands wading through the tulle of my veil.
A few minutes before 5 p.m., the wedding party gathered in the back room to await our entrance. My grandmother joined me, wrapping her blue pea coat around my shivering shoulders.
"You're going to be sick, Carmie. You shouldn't have taken so many pictures out there!" she told me.
I saw my mother for what was probably the first time all day, and she adjusted my floral crown, like the first day of school when she wiped toothpaste from my cheek, her eyes filled with tears.
The following moments were filled with lipstick touch-ups and prayers. At some point, we realized that the two ring bearers' chalkboard was still blank, and my friend Ali began writing. It took every second that we had left for her to scratch "Here comes the Bride" onto the sign.
It was finally my turn to walk, arm-in-arm with my father, and I emerged from the hallway into a room with no empty seats. The lights were low, the fireplaces were blazing, and my friend Brandon played "Turning Page" on the piano in the corner. The moment that we had waited and worked and created countdowns on our iPhones for was here.
Using beautiful metaphors, our pastor, Kevin Edge, charged us to love and serve one another selflessly for the rest of our lives. Drew said, "I do," and I did, too. We made a covenant to God and each other in front of all our family and friends, and sealed it with a kiss. And we danced into the night, surrounded by people who had gathered simply to celebrate us and the beginning of our adventure.
Down a runway of lit sparklers, we ran and jumped in the car, waving goodbye to our party. We looked at one another in disbelief that we had pulled it off.
"It would have been the perfect day no matter what," Drew said. And he was right.
Wedding planner: Brittany Burton (bride's sister)
Officiant: Kevin Edge
Reception location: Loochapola Lodge at Tishomingo State Park
Groom's and groomsmen's attire (where you purchased or rented if you did so specifically for the wedding): Belk (Ralph Lauren)
Bride's attire: Mom's 30-year-old wedding gown
Caterer: Regina Wallace (bride's mother)
Cake(s): Regina Wallace (bride's mother)
Florist: Brittany Burton (bride's sister)
Photographer: Beth Morgan Cowan (b. mo. foto)
Music: Brandon Hughes
Sound: Brandon Hughes, Stephen Krumalis
Rentals: Busy Lad