Real Wedding: Maggie + Andrew in Sylacauga, Alabama 

The couple: Maggie Benton and Andrew Counce 

Wedding date: May 22, 2021

Venue: Pursell Farms in Sylacauga, Alabama. We fell in love with the Southern charm and the hospitality. The venue was perfect and we had all of our family and friends on one property for a whole weekend. They enjoyed it so much and had plenty to enjoy from skeet shooting to golf and so much more!

Engagement date: June 12, 2020 

The engagement story: Andrew’s birthday is June 13, so he invited me to Memphis to celebrate with his family. He told me we had lunch plans at a nice restaurant to celebrate with his family. Right before I pulled into town he called and said, “Change of plans, we can’t go until 1 p.m. because of my brother’s work schedule, so we are going to the park with my niece and nephew. Meet us there!” This wasn’t unusual, as they did this almost daily. He proposed in a stunning outdoor chapel and my sister, a wedding photographer, was there to capture it all! I was absolutely shocked. Afterward, we celebrated with both of our families and I called all of my friends and surprised them, too! It was one of the best days of my life. [Editor’s note: See Maggie and Andrew’s stunning engagement photos here.]

Words that describe your wedding day: Classic, Southern, French-inspired (we lived in France during grad school), warm, inviting, hospitable, FUN, memorable, enjoyable, special, symmetrical, clean, soft, romantic, and traditional. 

Number of guests: 160

How you wanted your guests to feel: Loved, appreciated, important, taken care of, relaxed, and a part of the story.

On the big day: Guests were able to sleep in, ride golf carts, go to the spa, skeet shoot, walk, or do anything they wanted until the wedding that evening. A pre-ceremony concert welcomed them to the event with live music. The ceremony was the peak of the event, and there was so much anticipation. The sun was shining perfectly, the sweetest words were spoken, and we said our vows in a very holy moment with our closest people as witnesses. We celebrated BIG afterwards. People kicked off their shoes, caught up with old friends, and danced their hearts out. It was perfect!

Traditional touches: Bows on the ceremony chairs, an idea I got from a wedding in the 1980s that I saw in a Martha Stewart Weddings book. My great grandmother’s handkerchief. The hymn that was played at both my parents and grandparents weddings: “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us.” Scripture reading. Performance of “The Prayer” by friends of ours. Traditional vows.  

The bride’s look(s): A Lela Rose custom gown and veil; Loeffler Randall shoes; my aunt’s diamond and pearl earrings; a vintage cross pinky ring gifted by my parents that day; my Miss Arkansas “coronation ring” from Jones & Son Bridal and Fine Jewelry; my great grandmother’s handkerchief. 

For the reception, I wore a Helen Benton Designs gown designed by my grandmother, who was a couture wedding gown designer in the late ’80s early ’90s and who had designs in Vera Wang, Bergdorf Goodman, and more. I also wore Nicola Bathie earrings.

For our exit, I wore a tuxedo cocktail dress with a short train. I saw it at Hampden in Charleston one weekend and died! I wasn’t planning on changing again, but I had to when I found it.

The wedding party outfits: My five bridesmaids (immediate family, new in-laws, and my forever best friend) wore an ivory Alfred Sung dress from Bella Bridesmaids. I was also accompanied by a 14-person house party that included friends from childhood, college, and everything in between.

The first look: We’re so glad we chose to do it because itt was so good to see each other and calm our nerves. We love the photos and videos we have from that moment where we got to see each other for the first time. It was perfect! 

Reception cocktails: His, an Old Fashioned (his fave!) and Hers, a French 75 (a nod to France).

The meal: Tenderloin, veggies, salad, charcuterie, chicken and waffles, pimento cheese on baguette, vanilla cake with lemon filling, macarons delivered to the dance floor, and too much more to even remember, haha!

The music: The music was one of the most important parts of the day to me! Members of the Arkansas State University Music Department traveled to do the live pre-ceremony concert and ceremony music. Every song was chosen carefully and intentionally. The band, Jessie’s Girls, was the best part of the event by a landslide. They had us glued to the dance floor for three solid hours. I think I left the dance floor one time, and only briefly.

The toasts: Our family toasted to us the night before the wedding at a very memorable rehearsal dinner hosted by my parents-in-law. We will never forget their loving words, affirmations, and encouragement!

Most memorable moment: It’s impossible to choose, but a few come to mind. Standing behind the door with my dad when everyone was already seated and in their places. Saying our vows. Dancing the night away with my new husband and our favorite people in the world. Walking out of our wedding through confetti, in disbelief that it really happened!

Best advice for other couples: Don’t leave the dance floor!

Creative Partners:

Design + Planning: Invision Events

Photography: Hannah Mayson Photography

Videography: Megan Pettus Films

Detail Styling: Birds of a Feather Events

Venue: Pursell Farms

Floral Design: Buffy Hargett Flowers

Cakes: Barb’s Cakes

Entertainment: Jessie’s Girls

Paper Suite: Paperhaus

Calligraphy: Penned by Chrissy

Bride’s Fashion: Lela Rose, Helen Benton Designs, Hampden

Bride’s Shoes: Loeffler Randall

Bridesmaid Fashion: Alfred Sung

Rentals: Eventworks

Furnishings: Crush Event Rentals

Draping + Custom Bow Sashes: Party Tables

Lighting: Design Productions

Dancefloor Wrap + Getaway Fireworks: Indaglow Productions

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