After being introduced by a mutual friend – who would later be a bridesmaid – at an annual Christmas party in their hometown of Nashville, Lissa Garner and Reynolds Whittington were smitten. “We’ve been together ever since!” smiles Lissa. With the ring already purchased, Reynolds made his intentions clear to his future father-in-law while visiting for Thanksgiving and happily received his blessing. Just before the holidays and exactly two years after their first meeting, Reynolds asked Lissa to be his wife in a special moment with just the two of them. “We popped Champagne and spent the evening excitedly talking about the future,” muses Lissa. 

Though they initially considered hosting a destination fête in New Orleans, the pair ultimately decided to stay in their hometown so they could get married in their church. “We started attending church together in our early days of dating, so the sanctuary is a special place for both of us,” shares the bride. With just nine months to plan their September nuptials, the couple worked closely with their families and enlisted the help of Jackson Durham Events to bring their vision to life. “I had no idea how important it is to have a timeline for the day of the wedding,” notes Lissa. “My sister-in-law and mother had everything planned down to the minute. It made our wedding day a breeze!” 

On the day of the ceremony, 225 guests gathered at the couple’s house of worship for a traditional service – though the pair did incorporate modern elements, such as a “first look”, which the groom cites as one of his favorite moments of the day. Lissa was exquisite in a strapless gown with a beautiful blush undertone and three-dimensional floral appliqués; she carried a fragrant bouquet composed entirely of gardenias, which also flanked the altar. The groom chose most of the music for the ceremony to personalize the service with many songs beloved by his late grandmother. The bride confirms walking down the aisle was her most memorable part of the wedding. “I loved seeing our friends’ and family’s smiling faces on either side and Reynolds at the very end,” she reminisces. 

Attendees were transported to a nearby country club for the lively reception. “Growing up, I loved the movie Father of the Bride and always dreamed of having a tented reception,” explains Lissa. “In the early stages of planning, the direction I gave to Jackson Durham Events was that I wanted our tent to feel like a secret garden… Then I relinquished aesthetic control to the industry experts!” An elegant ballroom served as the site for a colorful seated dinner service, followed by dancing in a gorgeous tented structure embellished with lush drapery and a verdant ceiling installation. 

A long head table strewn with light-green linens featured a row of brass lamps, providing a modern twist to the décor. Additional round and rectangular tables were covered with either neutral textured or vibrant patterned linens, as well as low floral compositions featuring contemporary lime anthuriums, thistles, and tropical foliage mixed with classic ivory arrangements of garden roses and hydrangeas. The ballroom was bathed in twinkling candlelight emitted from votive candles as well as taper and pillar varieties that provided a romantic ambience throughout the soirée. 

Revelers made their way into the tent for libations and dancing. A live band performed on stage in front of a dramatic wall of greenery, and boxwood hedges were placed along the perimeter to beautifully bring the outside in. “Everything Jackson Durham Events did was unique! I loved the wall behind our bar in the tent,” the groom notes of the tropical palm motif decorating the space. For another modern-day twist, Lissa and Reynolds chose not to have a wedding cake and instead offered multiple desserts. “Jackson Durham placed our dessert table in the center of the loggia, which was connected to the patio where our tent was, so guests could continue to grab sweet treats every time they entered and exited the tent,” confirms the bride. 

The couple was thrilled with their decision to keep their wedding close to home so they could have all of their loved ones with them on such a special day. “Having all of our friends and family present was important to me,” shares Reynolds. “It was nice to see such a large amount of people there to support us.” With their hearts full, the bride and groom departed in a classic car as firework fountains went off and onlookers waved ribbon wands in celebration of the newlyweds embarking on their married life.