When Atlanta-based couple Shawna and Zachary became engaged, they planned their honeymoon before even thinking about their wedding: "We decided to sell our house, save the money and see as much of the world as we could after we were married," says the bride. Given their grand postnup plan, the couple chose to scale back their budget while planning the details for their big day and headed to Zack's parent's home, set on 240 acres in the foothills of the Beartooth Mountains, where they recruited family and friends to help bring their plans for a backyard bash to life.
Southern fare such as sweet-potato soufflé, fried chicken, deviled eggs and squash casserole was served to guests underneath a tent, pitched next to the grounds' rustic barn. After dinner, some guests headed to the barn for more dancing and a second round of cocktails, while others lingered under the tent a bit longer to kick back and watch the sunset. "I loved how relaxed our guests were," says the bride. "Some people were wearing jeans—damn, I was in cowboy boots! All in all, the entire day was just perfect." —Cristi L. Hansen
Learn from Shawna and Zack
Choose an Artful Display: Shawna scoured flea markets and Web sites to find clever ways to display her wedding elements. She lined old chicken-wire baskets with paper and filled them with fried chicken, and scored galvanized steel tins to cool their drinks.
Personalize Your Vows: Since the couple aren't religious, they weren't sure how to create their ceremony. So rather than recite traditional vows, they composed their wedding program based on the concept of compassion.
Include Your Favorite Foods: When the couple discovered that the chef at their favorite restaurant in Atlanta had written a cookbook, The Gift of Southern Cooking, they picked up a copy to work the recipes into their own menu.
Ermenegildo Zegna, Gianluca by Isaia
Poet Street Market, poetstreet.com
Mery Donald, merydonald.com