During their freshman year at Georgia Southern University, Nora El-Shami and Reed Norton both played on scholarship for the women’s and men’s soccer teams, respectively. “We knew of each other, but we didn’t really get to know one another until we had a class together in the spring of our freshman year,” Nora describes. “Although we didn’t start dating immediately, our love started while taking a required freshman course that turned into the best class either of us ever had.” 

Six years later, Reed bought a beautiful diamond engagement ring for Nora. Though he was ready to propose that same day with no plan in place, he realized that he first needed to ask permission from her family. Once their blessings were received, it only took a few hours for the groom-to-be to plan a picnic in the park with their closest friends. As they were taking photos together, he got down on one knee. Nora said yes, and they celebrated at dinner, where more friends were waiting to toast to the happy couple. 

When beginning to plan their big day, the first wedding professional Nora and Reed hired was their photographer. “She helped me with other vendors based off of her recommendations,” shares the bride. “I trusted her and am forever thankful.” For their venue, the couple selected the expansive Foxhall Resort, which offers picturesque scenery in a location near to Atlanta, where most of their friends and family reside. 

“I wanted my wedding to be timeless, classic, and elegant,” confirms Nora of her vision to incorporate stunning florals, a neutral color palette, and romantic details. To ensure their loved ones would enjoy the day as much as the bride and groom, they also placed a focus on having amazing food, an open bar, and a live band to keep the energy up. 

“I wanted my wedding to be timeless, classic, and elegant.”

Before the festivities, a non-denominational ceremony took place alfresco in front of a gorgeous round arch embellished with wild foraged greens, as well as baby’s breath, hydrangeas, a variety of roses, and textured blooms. Guests found their seats on either side of the grassy aisle, which was lined with white rose petals. Since the bride’s father had passed away, his picture was displayed on a chair at the ceremony in remembrance. 

A violinist, cellist, and guitarist performed for the ceremony, while a live event painter captured the details of the impressive arch. For the wedding processional, bridesmaids in graceful dusty blue gowns preceded the bride, who was radiant in a strapless wedding dress featuring a sweetheart neckline. She wore her hair down and carried a lush ivory bouquet that complemented those held by her bridesmaids. Escorted on the arm of her brother, the bride’s favorite memory was walking down the aisle towards her groom. “I will forever cherish that moment we first made eye contact,” she shares. 

Loved ones headed indoors for an elegant reception in a space featuring tall ceilings, a stone fireplace, and a warm ambience. Gilt Chiavari chairs surrounded round guest tables, as well as the extraordinary 40-foot-long head table. Centerpieces showcased either a trio of glass vases displaying “floating” candles adorned with Italian ruscus, a tall gold stand topped with a large arrangement of verdure and ivory hydrangeas, roses, astilbe, and larkspur, or similar blooms interspersed within a runner of fresh greenery at the estate table. Place settings displayed gilt flatware, gold-rimmed charger plates, lovely script place cards, and menus printed on handmade paper tied and tied with a soft bow. 

The bride and groom shared their first dance to “Falling Like the Stars” by James Arthur before friends and family joined them on the dance floor. To ensure their palates were satiated after the sit-down dinner services, guests were served slices of a classic four-tiered wedding cake decorated with white garden roses and peonies between each layer. At the end of the night, the newlyweds took part in a grand sparkler exit to cherish the last moments with their nearest and dearest. 

While they loved every moment of their wedding day, as well as the planning that went along with it, the couple encourages others to focus on what matters most. “The most important part of the wedding is after,” confirms the groom. “You will stress about a lot, but in the end, nothing really matters other than being with the person who means the most to you.”

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