Meeting your future partner at a bar is seemingly common, but there was nothing mundane about the night Yakira Maynard and John Prise first locked eyes. The two spoke briefly, but it wasn’t long until John returned to his group. “I didn’t want to crowd her or her friends,” he notes. Just then, another man swooped in to talk to Yakira. Having no interest in this new suitor, she searched for a polite way out of the conversation. “I pointed across the bar to my ‘boyfriend,’” explains Yakira. Adds the groom, “I noticed her motioning to me, and I could tell what was happening. I nodded my head and played along, even walking over to join her.” The man raised his glass to the couple and left, leaving the duo to spend the rest of the evening together.

“Being single and dating around for a while, you come to learn what you want in a wife – I soon realized all of the building blocks were there,” says John of his decision to get on bended knee one year and a half into their courtship. Following his Christmas Eve proposal – and her immediate acceptance – the bride felt prepared to take on the task of wedding planning, having organized a number of formal events herself. She was, however, surprised at how involved she became in the process. “It’s like having a second full-time job!” she exclaims.

Throughout their two-year engagement, Yakira and John struggled to find the perfect place to wed. “We actually went through two – completely contracted and deposited – venues before deciding on the third,” says Yakira. Their final location, a private estate and farm, encapsulated all they had envisioned for their special day. The top priority of the bride and groom was making their 214 attendees comfortable, which included providing a fun atmosphere well before the “I dos.” “We wanted to create a full experience of mini events during the weekend,” notes the bride.

For the ceremony, the bride exited the doors of the estate alone to honor her late biological father. She met her stepdad halfway down the aisle and they made their way through the courtyard to her groom, who stood on a raised platform in the middle of a circle of friends and family.

Yakira donned a fitted sweetheart dress with a dramatic mermaid skirt and extended train. Bridesmaids matched the ivory hue of the bridal gown in chic pantsuits with feminine overskirts. “I wanted to go very untraditional with the flowers, so I opted for a floral ‘handbag’ made up of orchids and roses in lieu of a bouquet,” reveals Yakira. Throughout the vow exchange, an assortment of musicians – to create a makeshift band – played soft renditions of the pair’s favorite tunes.

The celebration space featured floor-to-ceiling drapes, tablescapes, and even grand, cascading floral arrangements – created by Akeem Clayton Designs – in a snowy hue. “The reception as a whole was so unique – my wife worked so hard to bring her wildest dreams to life,” muses the groom. “The transformation of the horse stables into the all-white scene was awesome!” Everyone found their seats on ghost chairs detailed with the newlyweds’ gilt monogram, which complemented the gold charger plates at each setting. Textured linens bedecked the long king’s table and surrounding round tables. Revelers enjoyed four sentimental toasts, a delectable "Southern hospitality" menu, plenty of lively dancing, and delicious cake bites – separate from the towering white-and-gold display confection – as well as slices from the groom’s chocolate Rice Krispies® cake. “The day was as close to perfect as you could imagine,” smiles John.