Everything about a country wedding way down in Barnesville, Ga., was so perfect I am prompted not just to share Natalie and Stephen's big day, but the behind-the-scenes details that just might offer ideas to families in the throes of wedding plans.
As I review my special time spent with family in Georgia, I keep wondering how Janine Henry accomplished so much.
One answer is that mothers of brides are expected to make their daughter's wedding dreams come true, no matter how much work and sacrifice is required.
Still, it just seemed, as the rehearsal, wedding, reception, and post-reception dinner unfolded, that Janine is one of a kind in the role of mother of the bride. It was also obvious that Barnesville neighbors and church friends willingly helped to cut costs. All of the flowers were from friends' gardens and several desserts on the buffet were gifts.
When several members of the Powell clan said goodbye and thanked her and her husband, Rolfe, Janine said in jest, "Next time, I want to be the mother of the groom."
But we know the petite mother of six would not be in the background then, either.
Her grandmother, the late Jean Powell, first wore Natalie's wedding gown. Janine also wore it. The fragile heirloom dress required many hours of Janine's seamstress skills to fashion it to Natalie's size and to reinforce the hundreds of flowers on the full skirt by stitching around each petal by hand. I wonder if the dress will continue to be passed down to Juliette and Margaret, Natalie's young sisters.
A queen-size quilt made of 100 squares was presented to the newlyweds at the rehearsal dinner, and more than 110 chair covers were also examples of Janine's sewing expertise.
The quilt was a masterpiece in design, with each of 50 squares representing a memento in the couple's lives, from childhood to their graduation from Bryan College in Tennessee. The center of the quilt is Psalm 113:1, symbolizing the couple's Christian conviction.
The Community House not too far from the church on the outskirts of Barnesville probably would have been just fine for the reception. But not for this mother of the bride, who decided a fresh coat of white paint, and scrubbing the interior would be worthwhile family projects a week before the May 26 wedding.
As for the 110 chair covers that converted the small community building that has been a neighborhood gathering place for years into a royal setting, they were in Janine's hands and fingers. Rent covers? No way.
Instead she shopped at a warehouse where used hotel furnishings are sold. "Some of the panels I bought are even from the Ritz Carlton," she said.
The covers were tied with royal blue tulle, which was the wedding theme color used throughout and that just happens to also be the color of the stained glass windows in the church.
The six bridesmaids wore royal blue and Janine's dress also was blue, but she didn't go beyond the budget for her dress.
She confided that it cost $10 at a consignment shop, the same place they bought the bridal veil.
Everything was so perfect. The Ramah Church on the hill was filled to capacity with friends and family. The community-gathering place could easily have passed for the finest catering hall.
As the newlyweds left the reception for their honeymoon, a basket of something to throw was being passed out to the celebrating guests. It wasn't rice. It wasn't birdseed. Instead, it was heart-shaped Cheerios. That's when I got out the notebook and said, I have to tell my readers about this.
After the cereal shower, the photographer marshaled about 50 people to walk to the bottom of a rather steep incline.
The next request was that we form a heart. The photographer stayed on top of the hill and said, "smile."
And that's when I said: I have got to tell my readers about this, too.
And, so I have.
Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.
Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org