An Elevated Backyard Wedding in Georgia

Who knew a backyard wedding could be so chic?

Newlyweds holding hands

Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

Sherita Starks and Dion Watkins go back—way back, actually. “Dion and I met in Mrs. Early’s fourth grade class in 1987,” Sherita says. “Dion was my first crush!” The two were friends for years and even dated briefly in college, but they finally made it official when Sherita moved to the West Coast to pursue her acting career. Seven years later, they found themselves back in Atlanta and bumped into one another at a local bar. Can you say “fate”?

After almost two (more) years together, Dion wanted to propose to Sherita, and knew just how to do it. “We were home to celebrate Dion’s grandmother’s 100th birthday,” she remembers. “We went for a walk together on the Beltline, and he proposed underneath a gorgeous tree.” The timing was especially fitting since the ring Dion slipped on Sherita’s finger belonged to her grandmother.

With a love story that dates back to childhood, it was no surprise that Sherita and Dion chose the groom’s childhood home as the venue for their May 13, 2017 backyard party. “We wanted something simple and intimate, and Dion’s parents’ home was just the place,” Sherita explains. It also meant they could limit their guest list to 100 people, making sure their families and closest friends really felt the love.

Photographed by Kelly Anne Berry, this spring wedding outside of Atlanta will have you looking at your childhood backyard in a whole new light.

Bride in window with veil
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

As soon as Sherita found her wedding dress, everything else fell into place. “I became obsessed with the designer [Rime Arodaky] and followed her closely on Instagram," she says. "That’s actually how I found our photographer!” The bodice featured a bateau neckline and cap sleeves, which lead to a plunging open back. But the best part? That veil!

Bride outdoors holding bouquet
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry
Bride holding bouquet
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

Sherita added a rich pop of color with her bouquet, a combination of spirea, blush garden roses, burgundy ranunculus, hellebores, sweet pea, astilbe, and eucalyptus.

Ring Bearer and Flower Girl
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

Sherita and Dion kept their wedding party small, each tapping a single friend to stand up front during the ceremony. They added a personal touch by inviting a group of friends to serve as their unofficial wedding party and asked them to walk down the aisle ahead of the maid of honor and best man. “We had them each wear boutonnieres so they would stand out,” Sherita says. And of course, they had the cutest flower girl and ring bearer, ever.

Atlanta groomsmen with groom
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

Dion rented a navy suit from The Black Tux and added a ranunculus boutonniere to his lapel. “We had all of our guests wear black and white, so Dion popped a little bit more in navy,” Sherita says.

Outdoor Altar for Atlanta wedding
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

You won’t believe it, but Sherita and Dion’s ceremony took place in the groom’s driveway! They set up a wooden mantle, flanked by candles in modern hurricanes and an array of midcentury furniture. “I wanted it to feel like a living room,” says the bride. “We had our families take a seat on the lounge furniture so they would be a part of the ceremony.” The mantle was topped with a garland of burgundy and blush dahlias, ranunculus, hellebores, and roses, finished with eucalyptus and other branches. Instead of a runner, the aisle was lined with oriental rugs.

bride and groom walking down aisle
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

Sherita walked down the aisle with her mother, but honored her late father when she selected her wedding date: his birthday!

couple kissing during wedding ceremony
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry
newlyweds walking down aisle after ceremony
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

“We wrote our own vows, but wanted to keep them to ourselves, so we exchanged notes with one another while we got ready that morning,” Sherita says. After the first kiss, guests showered the newlyweds with white rose petals. When the pastor asked Sherita if she took Dion as her husband, the bride said more than “I do.” “I looked at him and exclaimed ‘I sure will,’” she says, laughing.

newlyweds kissing
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry
couple embracing eachother
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

"Our wedding was more than I ever could have imagined,” Sherita says. “At one point Dion looked at me and said, ‘Babe, let’s just look around and take all of this in.’ I’m so glad we paused to really absorb it.”

The reception took place around the pool, with a mix of high and low tables topped with burgundy centerpieces. The florist mixed dahlias, roses, ranunculus, and hellebores in burgundy, peach, blush, and cream, then scattered votive candles in metallic holders. Even the pool itself was decorated with floating flowers and candles.

Wedding Cake with Dark Tones and Roses
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

“We wanted people to be free to mingle and socialize,” says the bride of the decision to serve only passed food.

Newlyweds during first dance
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry
Bride and mother dance during reception
Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

The dance floor was buzzing as soon as the DJ got started. Sherita and Dion danced to “Spend a Life” by Jamiroquai and “Love Makes Things Happen” by Pebbles and Babyface for their first dances, and then invited their mothers to join them for “Before I Let Go” by Frankie Beverly and “My Girl” by The Temptations.

“The hit song of the night was definitely ‘Swag and Surf,’” says the bride. “The best man started rapping!”

Newlyweds during first dance
Kelly Anne Berry

Late in the night, Sherita swapped her wedding gown for an all-white ensemble featuring lace-up high-waisted pants and a flowing crop top. “I don’t think anyone sat down all night,” says the bride of the high-energy party. “All of our friends got along with one another so well!”

Wedding Team

Wedding Planner: Pollyanna Richter

Bride's Dress & Veil: Rime Arodaky

Bride's Shoes: Gianvito Rossi

Hair: Nikki Wright, Celeb Hairstylist, The Wright Salon

Makeup: Keitric Starks

Groom's Attire: The Black Tux

Floral Design: Lindsay Coletta Designs

Wedding Bands: Designed by Miro Jack

Invitations: Paperless Post

Reception Rentals: Nuage Linen Rentals, Southern Vintage Rentals and Event Rentals Unlimited

Guest Book: BHLDN from Anthropologie

Music: Salah

Choir: The Chosen Aggregation

Cake: Peche Petite Bakery, Atlanta, GA

Favors: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

Photography: Kelly Anne Berry

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