Courtney Martin and David Braun met on the first day of a study abroad program in Prague, and from that moment on, they were inseparable. Eight years later the romance they had initially thought of as a “summer fling” had become so much more — David surprised Courtney with a relaxed yet romantic proposal in her New York City apartment. They celebrated their engagement at their favorite tapas restaurant and began envisioning all the possibilities for their upcoming wedding.

While the wedding was destined to be a big city affair, it was not going to be a slice of the Big Apple. Instead, the couple decided to marry in Courtney’s hometown of Atlanta, which provided them a wonderful chance to treat their guests to a real Southern celebration. The challenge, however, was planning everything long distance. While most of the preliminary steps were successfully mapped out via the Internet, Courtney relied heavily on her Atlanta-based mother to help make decisions and finalize details hundreds of miles away. “She was invaluable to me,” asserts the bride. “She researched local vendors when I was too far, visited vendors when I couldn’t, and gave me her brutally honest opinion about everything.”

Set on hosting the wedding at a venue that wasn’t run-of-the-mill, Courtney and David chose Atlanta’s Fernbank Museum of Natural History as the offbeat setting for their reception. Dinner and dancing were held beneath tall and meandering dinosaur bones giving the atmosphere the “wow!” factor the couple had wanted. Courtney and David’s ceremony, however, was held in a nearby church and filled with touching tributes to Courtney’s older sister who had passed away four years earlier. Attached to Courtney’s bouquet was a small picture frame containing a beautiful photo of her sister, which the bride held close while a soloist sang “Ave Maria.” “It made me feel like she was with me that day,” says Courtney.

To enhance the limestone and marble spaces of the museum and the many unique exhibits housed within, Courtney and David chose fresh shades of green and white and natural fabrics such as burlap and raffia to define the décor. Fans of minimalist design, the bride and groom kept the look simple but bold, using bright green menus to dot the burlap table dressings and individual arrangements of green orchids, hydrangea, fresh cut grass, and bamboo to offset the modern centerpieces of white calla lilies (Courtney’s favorite flower). A monogram of their combined initials in lowercase lettering also unified the elements of the wedding in an understated way, appearing on the invitations, menu cards, napkins, and the custom maps and boxes of Atlanta-themed goodies they gave to their out-of-town guests.

The pair’s desire to give their guests a true Southern experience was wonderfully achieved through the menu, which was a comfort food feast aptly described by the bride as “Upscale Southern.” A cheddar grit cake with BBQ shrimp hors d’oeuvre preceded the meal, followed by an appetizer of fried green tomatoes, salad with Georgia goat cheese, filet mignon with Jack Daniels sauce, and sweet potato and buttermilk biscuits on the side. Even dessert featured a four-tiered amaretto and praline cream wedding cake and a traditional red velvet groom’s cake made to resemble a stack of David’s favorite books.

In addition to the wonderful food and dancing, guests enjoyed mugging for the camera in a self-serve photo area just off the dance floor. They were also entertained by a special video produced by a friend of the groom’s, which paid tribute to David’s profession as a television writer for the VH1 series The Fabulous Life Of… (an updated take on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous about today’s young, hip celebrities). Using interviews from friends, photos of the couples, and the same voiceover artist from the actual series, the eight-minute spoof entitled “The Fabulous Life Of Courtney and David” did an equally successful job of embarrassing and impressing the bride and groom.

Down to the very last detail, Courtney and David’s wedding was a cohesive and coordinated experience for their guests. It began with a four-page letter summarizing the best of everything Atlanta had to offer, and ended with a gift of Courtney’s grandmother’s homemade jelly, jarred and tied with a bright green tag. Every minute of planning was a labor of love for Courtney, “As a lawyer, I get paid to pay attention to minutiae. The wedding was a perfect outlet for my obsessive tendencies!” She also adds, “It was a real treat to see everything come together and to know that at the end of the day, I would be married to an amazing man.”