An Intimate Thanksgiving Wedding in Mississippi

Kate and Nathan

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Kate and Nathan met volunteering in Guatemala over the summer of 2015, where they were doing manual labor alongside coffee bean farmers and textile workers. The experience brought them closer, and the pair left Central America eight weeks later as good friends. It was during a road trip with fellow volunteers to Nova Scotia, Canada, where Nathan asked Kate to become his girlfriend. "I knew I wanted to marry Kate within the first week of our relationship," he recalls. And so they began dating in July.

Wasting no time, Nathan decided to surprise her with a proposal a few months later, and drove through the night from South Carolina to arrive at her house in Ohio. "I pulled up into her driveway as she was waking up, and called her to look out her window—she was completely confused. It was a beautiful fall morning, and we went for a walk in the woods," Nathan says. "He was shaking for some reason, so I knew something big had to be on his mind," Kate says. Nathan presented her with a sapphire ring—and they began to continue their whirlwind romance as they planned for their wedding celebrations, with the help of Nathan's sister, photographer Ashleigh Coleman.

"We met in the end of May in Guatemala, and we were married the following Thanksgiving Day," says Kate, "I look back now and think wow—that happened quickly! But I knew right from the start that he was the last man I would ever date. We wouldn't change anything if we could." Kate and Nathan exchanged vows on November 26, 2015, and celebrated with 35 guests in Toccopola, Mississippi. Both of their families came together to make the couple's day a memorable one, complete with endless fall details and Thanksgiving family traditions.

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The Invitations

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Emily Hardin created the hand-lettered, burgundy invitations.

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The Location

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Kate and Nathan were married outside in rural Toccopola, a small town in Mississippi. "We chose that location because of its peaceful beauty, its convenience for family, and its intimacy," says the bride. Kate and Nathan chose to hold their ceremony at the empty Old Sardis Methodist Church, in the middle of a field. The understated beauty of the building and the peaceful surroundings created the intimate setting the two desired.

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The Fashions

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Kate wore an elegant, simple Melissa Sweet gown with sleeves. "My something blue was a Tiffany's bracelet that had my birthstone—aquamarine—in it, a gift from my closest friends in college. That was really special," she says. She also borrowed pearl-and-diamond earrings from her mother.

"I had seen a photograph of a Scottish man in a three-piece tweed suit, which inspired my wardrobe," says Nathan of his JoS. A. Bank ensemble, "I wanted something a little different but still formal."

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The Bridal Bouquet

Red Peony Wedding Bouquet
Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Jessie Partridge of Maidenhair Floral and Event Design created Kate's bouquet using fall-toned roses, peonies, scabiosa, and astilbe.

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The Engagement Ring

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

"I didn't want an engagement ring, yet I love the one Nathan created for me—it's perfect," says Kate. Nathan proposed with a three-stone sapphire ring, which was simple enough for Kate's approval. "I don't really wear jewelry," she says, "however I quickly fell in love with it, and I still catch myself staring!"

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The Maid of Honor

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Kate and her sister—who was the only bridesmaid—shared laughs together while taking photos.

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The Ceremony

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Kate's father walked her down the aisle, where they met Nathan on the steps of the abandoned church. The pair exchanged traditional vows at the service officiated by Nathan's older brother and his brother-in-law. A communion was offered, and Nathan's siblings played music.

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The Recessional

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

The newlyweds shared their first kiss as husband and wife before recessing up the aisle to the sounds of the hymn "Holy Holy Holy."

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The Cocktail Hour

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Baskets of blankets kept guests warm, and marquee letters from Target personalized things a bit more. During cocktail hour, guests were treated to hors d'oeuvres prepared by David Leathers, which were passed underneath the 125-year-old oak tree. The small bites included pork belly tacos, smoked beef brisket tacos, bruschetta, and crostini with roasted beef.

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The Reception

Long Reception Table with Red Flower Arrangements
Ashleigh Coleman Photography

"Our reception was held in a soybean field across from the abandoned Methodist church, underneath an ancient pecan tree," explains Nathan. Wooden farm tables from HammMade Furniture to created one long dinner table, which sat on top of antique oriental rugs. "One of my family's traditions is that we eat our Thanksgiving dinner outside," says Nathan, "My sister always tries to convince us to drag rugs and a dining table into the backyard, to eat al fresco. While we always fuss about the work, it has become a wonderful memory over the years." Completing the set up were globe lights hanging overhead and bold red candles.

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The Centerpieces

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Maidenhair Floral and Event Design created colorful centerpieces made of peonies, scabiosas, orchids, gold combo roses, and autumn leaves.

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The Place Cards

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Ashleigh Coleman placed pages from an old hymnal that was found in the abandoned church in between each place card, which were all hand lettered by Emily Hardin.

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The Place Settings

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

White, gold-rimmed salad plates sat atop white dinner plates, with antique Irish napkins tucked between them. Ornate gold silverware and crystal wine glasses rounded out the place settings.

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The Dinner

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Guests dined on a variety of seasonal fare. The meal started with an arugula salad with toasted pumpkin seeds and goat cheese, followed by a curried butternut squash bisque—which the spicy food-loving bride really enjoyed. A carving station was set up on an additional farm table, with a choice of slow roasted pork or smoked turkey. A selection of sides, including spiced sweet potato mash, roasted carrots, macaroni and brie, maple Brussel sprouts, and French cranberry sauce were offered. "The idea was to have a more refined, yet familiar Thanksgiving meal," says Nathan.

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The Cake

groom carrying bride
Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Kate and Nathan's three-tiered naked cake created by Adrienne Saxon featured Italian crème, chocolate, and white almond flavors. In addition, guests were treated to pecan, apple, and pumpkin pies, and chocolate milk bread pudding with salted caramel sauce.

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The Treats

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Nathan's grandmother's old table housed the dessert bar. Glass jars were filled with an assortment of the couple's favorite candies.

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The Sendoff

Ashleigh Coleman Photography

"We wanted sparklers, but we could not find the right ones. My dad bought some from a firework warehouse, and we quickly realized they smoked more than sparkled, which gave us a good laugh," says Nathan.

The newlyweds departed to Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" which happens to be one of Nathan's favorite songs. Guests headed home with Guatemalan coffee and chocolate favors, nodding to Kate and Nathan's original meeting.

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Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Photography and Event Planning, Ashleigh Coleman

Location, Old Sardis Methodist Church

Catering, David Leathers of Food Stylin

Flowers, Jessie Partridge of Maidenhair Floral and Event Design

Stationery and Calligraphy, Emily Hardin Paper

Rentals, Details Specialty Rentals; White Door Events; Magnolia Rentals

Bride's gown, Melissa Sweet

Bride's accessories, Tiffany & Co.

Groom's suit, JoS. A. Bank

Farm tables, Tim and Natalie Hamm of HammMade Furniture

Marquee Letters, Target

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