A “Southern” Fairy Tale Wedding

T J Callaway, CEO of Onwardreserve.com, shares his insights on being a groom.

My wife Catherine and I had our first official date a couple of years ago in Atlanta at the wedding of some of our mutual friends, Catherine & Kenny Kraft.  We had so much fun that we became each other’s go-to wedding dates for the remainder of that wedding season. One thing led to another and on January 11th of this year we attended our own wedding here in Atlanta. We have watched a lot of people get married over the last couple of years, but it did not prepare me for what it would be like to attend a wedding as the groom.

You assume that you know what it will be like since you have been to many weddings and even been in a few yourself as a groomsman. I can tell you that it doesn’t sink in (or it didn’t for me) until you attend the rehearsal and realize that this one is for you.

Then you get to the rehearsal dinner and it really sinks in. Having all the most important people in your life all congregated in one room is a humbling and powerful experience. Our rehearsal dinner was held at Peachtree Golf Club here in Atlanta and was a gorgeous evening, styled by our great friend James Farmer.

I feel like the two occasions in life where the most stories are told about a person are at their rehearsal dinner and at their wake – the rehearsal dinner is more preferable for the guests of honor (and I hope in my case for the attendees as well).

The next day, the big day, comes and goes in the blink of an eye.  I am clearly biased, but I think our wedding was perfection.  The ceremony was in a clear tent in the courtyard of the Piedmont Driving Club in midtown Atlanta.  When I first walked into the tent it was still sunny outside and a string quartet was playing.  As the ceremony concluded, the sun set over the city and rows of gorgeous crystal chandiliers, many candles and the gas lanterns of the club took over.  It was simple, elegant and breathtaking.  This was only the beginning of an amazing night.

On to the reception!  James Farmer transformed the Piedmont Driving Club ballroom into a winter wonderland complete with huge trees which were my favorite part of the decor.  Up-lighting accentuated the canopy of the trees, turning the ceiling into a work of art.  If you look closely you can see the balcony of the bridal suite in the background of the picture below.  One of the moments that I will never forget for as long as I live was when I was able to stand on that balcony with Catherine watching all of our friends and family enjoying the evening.

The Adrian Duke Project provided entertainment.  Plenty of libations made the dance floor the place to be.

To create a perfect wedding experience, the details are vital.  As the groom, you have one major duty.  Your half of the wedding party.  You have to make sure that the groomsmen and ushers show up coherant enough to walk down the aisle, and make sure they look presentable.   Sometimes the former calls for the hair of the dog that bit them the night before.  I had to step behind the bar on more than one occasion on my wedding day.  The latter is easier but not a cake walk.  Other than a few bow-ties that refused to stay straight, I think it worked out pretty well.  I did have to make my brother shave his face 30 seconds before he walked down the aisle which was interesting.

Your wedding day is incredibly special for a lot of reasons, but the most important to me is that it is a time where two families and friend groups come together and get to know each other and to celebrate you as a couple.  Two families are now part of one special group, and it is truly an unforgettable experience.

Smathers & Branson was generous enough to provide custom monogrammed cummerbund sets for us all.  They were plain black with white monogram which went perfectly with the simple elegance of the evening.  They were awesome.  Thanks Peter & Austin!  We wore the Peyton Bit Loafers by Martin Dingman and black bow ties by Onward Reserve.   I wore a white dinner jacket that was custom made by Doyle Johnson of A.D. Mathis in Gainesville, Georgia.  He made it based on a swatch from Catherine’s dress so that we matched perfectly.

My gift to my groomsmen and ushers was them keeping their outfit.  As a guy who sells shirts and pants for a living, I couldn’t resist the free advertising.  We are more than happy to outfit your groomsmen from head to toe.  However, we pride ourselves on unique gift items for those of you who want to find other cool ideas.

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