Along Lake Martin in Alabama, Mary Virginia Coleman and Tyler Kemp met at a 10-week summer discipleship program. “We were quickly drawn to each other and simply became close friends,” Mary Virginia shares. After returning home to Tennessee, Tyler asked Mary Virginia out on several dates, where she declined his offer each time. It wasn’t until she moved to Nashville three years later that the two reconnected.
Mary Virginia reached out to Tyler, only to have her texts ignored. “He claims he was upset that I had turned him down so many times before that he was not wanting to take any more chances on me,” the bride jokes. “As fate would have it, we ended up bumping into each other downtown about two months after I had been totally ignored. The very next week he picked me up for our first date.”
A year and a half later, Tyler proposed on the deck overlooking Lake Martin, where the couple had first met years before. “We walked into the main lodge, where we had spent so many mornings together three years prior, and as soon as I saw the lodge adorned in beautiful florals, it hit me that he was about to propose,” Mary Virginia remembers. “It was the easiest yes and the sweetest day of my life!”
As Mary Virginia and her mom began to organize the wedding of her dreams in March of 2020, they were hopeful that COVID-19 would be a distant memory by the April 2021 ceremony in Tennessee. As early 2021 approached with no end in sight, wedding planner Casey Cannon of EBJ & Company prompted the bride to rethink her initial plans.
“Being from south Alabama, I had always dreamed of having a huge wedding,” Mary Virginia says. When the couple decided to scale down their event, they planned to hold the ceremony with only their family members and wedding party present and would include additional guests at the reception. “At the time, it felt like this would feel so small—instead, we got the gift of the most intimate and special day imaginable spent with the most important people in our lives.”
For the rehearsal dinner, the bride strayed from wearing the typical white hue and donned a sunny vintage look from GennyPopShop. “For some reason, I was dead set on wearing a vintage yellow dress…The only problem was finding the perfect vintage yellow dress,” Mary Virginia teases. Upon finding the sweet silk bead and pearl-embellished gown from the 1950s, she notes, “I was instantly obsessed with this one and knew that I wanted to somehow incorporate it on my wedding day in the future.”
Contrary to her rehearsal dinner outfit, Mary Virginia was unsure of the kind of gown she’d wear on her big day. “I had no idea what I would choose. What I did know was that I wanted something that looked classic and timeless, but also had some unique touches to it,” Mary Virginia says. This came in the form of a pearl-embellished, puff-sleeved gown by designer Lihi Hod. The bride shares, “I had never seen a dress like this before and knew this dress perfectly embodied my personality, personal style, and vision for how I wanted to look and feel on my wedding day.”
She adorned her look with diamond-encrusted pearl earrings—a gift from her groom—as well as a bracelet that had been custom made with pearls from China that Tyler had purchased thirteen years ago while on a trip with his family to pick up his adopted little sister. “He said when he purchased the pearls, he knew one day he wanted to create something special with them for his future wife,” Mary Virginia says. “Needless to say, I cried.”
The wedding party wore a mix of different dresses—half in a chiffon blue floral dress from Dessy and the other in one of two Amsale gowns in an ice blue faille, adding to the organic, personal theme woven throughout the celebration.
When gathered during the ceremony on April 10, Mary Virginia and Tyler were surrounded by their family and wedding party to seal the deal. “Once we looked out in the chapel and saw all of the most important relationships in our lives, we knew we had made the right decision in having it this way,” the bride reminisces. “We also both felt so emotional at the weight of what was happening—a wedding ceremony is such a beautiful, powerful picture of commitment to one another.”
Afterward, the newlyweds joined their entourage on a trolley and danced the entire way to the reception venue. Beneath the clear-topped tent and the glow of string lights, Allison Jones Forbes of Alli J Creative created a lush garden party complete with an assortment of blue, green, and yellow florals nestled in traditional blue and white ginger jars. “I had a vision that I was set on and it was so much fun watching it come to life,” Mary Virginia shares. “I could not believe it when we arrived at our reception venue to see it all in person!”
A delicious dinner from Five Senses was followed by the wedding cake by Dessert Designs by Leland. And the celebration continued throughout the night with Number One Party Band in the open air of Nashville, Tennessee. To close the evening, Tyler and Mary Virginia were sent off through streamers and sparklers and into a light green 1950 Chevrolet convertible.
“Despite having to change so many details due to the current circumstances, we both have said multiple times that we would not have changed one single thing about our day,” Mary Virginia notes. “We are so thankful that we were able to celebrate as we know so many other couples during this difficult season were not. It was such a blessing and a day that we will never, ever forget.”