Years after they completed their undergraduate degrees, Benjamin Bumgarner revealed to Caroline Partee that he would go to their college campus on days he did not have to attend just to walk her to class. “Though we had only begun dating, I knew from that moment that he was The One,” she confirms.
Benjamin worked hard to find Caroline the ideal engagement ring. He admits that he searched online, in magazines, and finally scoured a jewelry store. “I grabbed my best friend, Josh, and made him go ring shopping, telling our better halves we were at a Fantasy Football convention,” he laughs at the memory. Sadly, nothing Benjamin looked at seemed right. “Then, I hear from across the store, ‘How about this one?’” shares Benjamin, who recognized Josh had discovered an excellent choice. “So basically, my best man picked out my wife’s engagement ring.”
When Benjamin proposed during a vacation in Turks & Caicos, he again divulged information that made his sweetheart swoon. While walking on the beach, he surprised his beloved and asked for her hand in marriage. “I was in shock and froze, at which point he exclaimed, ‘Don’t worry – I asked your dad,’” recalls Caroline. She delightfully accepted and the two celebrated with Champagne on the sand as the sun set.
The couple opted to work with a talented wedding planner to help in the process of designing and executing their dream affair. Arranging for a venue that could accommodate their 375 guests was the first challenge. Once they took the tour of a historic plantation, the pair knew it would serve their needs perfectly. “After we walked the property, we took the prior difficulties as a plan of fate,” attests Caroline. Plus, the location provided added value. “It gave us the opportunity to have a few close friends and family members stay with us for the entire event,” she affirms.
Excited by the idea of having a Gatsby-like fête, the couple chose a color scheme of royal blue and antique silver. Thousands of blooms and sparkling rhinestones were considered a necessity to help the event come to life as the bride envisioned. To achieve dramatic results, chandeliers and orchid garlands were suspended from the branches of 100-year-old oak trees. “I loved that they shined as I walked down the aisle made of rose petals set in a whimsical design,” confides Caroline. Small candles formed additional patterns on the grassy area leading to guest seats – which were covered in alternating vanilla tones, while lush arrangements of peonies, roses, and hydrangeas decorated rows.
The bride arrived by horse-drawn carriage with her father. The only music heard at the ceremony played as she made her grand entrance down the aisle to “All I Ask of You” from The Phantom of the Opera. Wearing a strapless, champagne-colored full ball gown, Caroline walked towards her husband-to-be, who donned a classic ebony tuxedo with a sterling vest and peony boutonniere. The bridal party, dressed in royal blue gowns, and the groomsmen, sporting black tuxedos with matching jewel-toned components, stood beside the bride and groom throughout the traditional service.
The couple shared a very memorable moment just before their vow exchange began. “Right as Caroline met me at the top of the steps, she slipped, almost falling back,” Benjamin reveals. “I caught her, though.” The bride’s face was priceless, says the gallant groom, and the effort was so smooth that only the two of them knew what had occurred.
For the reception, a five-course dinner service was offered, as well as slices of the masterpiece wedding confection. “We had a replica of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding cake made,” explains Caroline of the towering dessert. “It was a delicious lemon-blueberry cake with berry ganache.”
Tables were covered in silver satin linens and delicate pearly overlays; chairs were bedecked in the same fashion. Glossy chargers were topped with silky napkins fastened with shimmery crystal ties and a customized menu sat at each setting. Florals in all white alternated between high and low arrangements and were surrounded by candles in varying heights. The historic fixtures of the antebellum estate, such as the antique fireplace, evoked a homey – but sophisticated – ambience to the celebration.
A live band provided great energy and guests danced until well after midnight. As a departing gift from the newlyweds and their parents, a magnificent 45-minute fireworks show was held for attendees to enjoy. From there, loved ones waved sparklers as the couple passed them by to begin their Happily Ever After.