Weddings 2006

Three couples go through very different courtships but all end up with a storybook wedding.With this ring…

By Virginia Newman

Few occasions in life are cause for greater celebration than the ceremony of marriage. Whether small, large, spiritual or non-traditional, weddings are a time of happiness to be shared with those who are an important part of the bride and groom’s lives.

In this special section of Tallahassee Magazine, you are cordially invited to join three couples as they share their personal stories, from the first day they met to their first day as husband and wife.



{mosimage} Love, Country StyleThe love story of Carrie Bryant and Clint Thornton starts – and ends – with a wedding

A graduate student at the University of South Florida, Carrie Bryant had gone to a wedding with her brother, Darrh. Clint Thornton, an electrical engineer for IBM living in Tuscaloosa, Ala., had gone with his own sister.

Darrh would be the first to meet Clint and, after a few minutes’ conversation, insisted that Clint meet Carrie. Clint and Carrie were introduced, and they remained inseparable for the rest of the night. The next morning, Carrie invited Clint to breakfast with her parents and her brother before heading home. They later went their separate ways, knowing that something special had happened between them.

Carrie spoke constantly of her time spent with Clint and confided in her mom, telling her that “I don’t want to jinx myself by saying it out loud, (but) this is the man I am going to marry.” And sure enough, it wasn’t long before Clint came to Carrie’s parents, Fred and Nancy, one evening and asked for Carrie’s hand.

With her family’s blessing, Clint began to plan an elaborate and romantic proposal. Enlisting the help of family and friends, Clint planned a romantic dinner at Glendower, the Boyd family farm which belongs to Carrie’s maternal grandparents. Glendower is a working plantation outside of Monticello that has been in the Boyd family since the 1830s.

As an undergraduate at Florida State University, Carrie had worked as a nanny for Cale and Camille Cummings, ages 8 and 6, and developed a strong relationship with them. Knowing about this special bond, Clint asked the two children to be servers at the dinner where he planned to propose. Clint also borrowed Carrie’s grandmother’s Old Master flatware and Nancy’s fine china to create an even more romantic setting. He lined the brick walk leading to the screen porch with candles and, on the night of the proposal, he told Carrie that they were on their way to a cocktail party at a neighboring farm.

As Clint and Carrie were driving down to Glendower, Carrie expressed concern that there were lights on in the supposedly unoccupied house. It only took a few more seconds before she realized that those were candles. “Oh!” was all she could say.

The evening began with wine, and on the table sat a little crystal bell that Carrie was told to ring. Cale and Camille ran out, sharing quick hugs and kisses with Carrie before settling down to perform their duties, serving water, heart-shaped biscuits and dinner. After dinner, they sang a song that their mother, Elise, had written for the occasion and then brought out dessert.

Cale and Camille returned one last time; Cale placed a small wooden box at Clint’s plate, and Camille placed Carrie’s white baby pillow beside Carrie’s chair. When everything was finished, the couple was left alone for the big moment.

Camille, however, pleaded to be allowed to see “the propose,” as she had nicknamed the event. With a stern warning not to be seen, Camille watched Clint propose to Carrie. Later, in the car, Camille described what she had seen: “Well, Mr. Clint was down on one knee on that pillow for a very long time. And he kept talking to Miss Carrie and playing with her ear (Clint was actually tucking Carrie’s hair behind her ear). Then he would touch her cheek. He was down on that pillow for a very long time. Finally, he opened the box. Then he took out the ring. Then he put the ring on her finger. Then he lifted up her hand, and he kissed it. And then . . . and then, he kissed her on the lips! Ah, I’m going to remember this propose for the rest of my life!”

For Carrie, there was never any question where her wedding would be – her family home, Glendower. Even as a child, Carrie dreamed of having her wedding at the farm, and she wanted her wedding to reflect the heritage surrounding the farm and the legacies of love offered by Carrie’s ancestors and family. Clint realized these strong family roots and Carrie’s love of the farm the first weekend he came to visit Carrie.

“If I ever ask Carrie to marry me, it will have to be here at this farm,” he thought to himself after that first visit.

The breathtaking avenue of oaks leading to Glendower inspired the wedding plans. Family and friends offered to help make Carrie and Nancy’s dream come true. Carrie’s cousin Beth, recently ordained as a minister, agreed to perform the ceremony. Many friends helped get the farm ready, assisting with everything – from lighting candles to hand picking the flowers for the ceremony. To help with the more difficult tasks, Nancy hired wedding planner Brandi Brown to efficiently and calmly coordinate with all the vendors. And that’s no easy task when the wedding site is in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone service, and the nearest phone is a mile-long hike through a field to a cousin’s house.

With all these obstacles to deal with, on April 23, 2005, and with a full moon lighting the ceremony, Carrie and Clint were married at Glendower. They chose “Because” to be sung in memory of Carrie’s grandparents, Fred and Elizabeth Boyd – the same song sung at their wedding at Glendower in 1938. Carrie wore pearls and pearl earrings that her grandmother had given her as a high school graduation gift. She also wore a pearl bracelet that Clint had given her and a blue garter her mother had worn for her own wedding. The nine bridesmaids wore kiwi green, knee-length, strapless dresses made of shantung silk. Each bridesmaid chose her own shoes, but Carrie gave them kiwi green flip-flops to wear at the reception to help them dance the night away.

Guests followed a path to the reception that was lined with shepherd’s hooks holding mason jars which were filled with candles and tied with ribbon. A second avenue of oaks between the house and the family cemetery held the reception tent. While pictures were being taken, guests feasted on grilled, smoked venison sausage that Clint and Carrie’s brother, Darrh, had prepared from a deer killed on the farm during the previous deer season.

Nella Schomburger prepared a “Southern Plantation Dinner” buffet for the 325 guests. The meal featured smoked pork tenderloin with Jezabel sauce, Jamaican chicken breasts on skewers, sweet potato-butternut squash soufflé, collard greens with corn bread, white acre peas, and broccoli-romaine salad with buttered pecans.

The groom’s cake, designed by Clint and made by the mother of one of Carrie’s friends, was in the shape of a chocolate computer, complete with a chocolate mouse and mouse pad. The monitor, however, was real, and was set up by Clint with a slide show of pictures of the couple. In keeping with a tradition in Clint’s family, the children passed out baskets of marshmallows as the enchanted evening came to an end to throw at the departing couple.

As Carrie and Clint left, thousands of tiny marshmallows were caught in the moonlight like tiny stars raining down on them. They hopped onto the hayride wagon and were driven by Carrie’s father to the waiting limousine, where they were whisked off to the Governor’s Inn in Tallahassee for the night and then on to the Riviera Maya in Mexico for a honeymoon at Aventura Spa Palace.


  • Wedding Planner: Brandi Brown
    Flowers: Missy Gunnels Flowers
    Nella Schomburger
    Videographer: Unique Video Creations
    Wedding Music: Tallahassee Brass Quintet
    Reception Music: Vital Sounds
    Invitations: Candy Woodward
    Wedding & Grooms Cakes: Carol Buzbee
    Tent & Rentals: Party Pleasers by Dora
    Tuxedo Rentals: Tails & Tweeds
    Photographer: Jonathan Allain Photography
    Wedding Ring: Tallahassee Diamond Center
    Registry: My Favorite Things
    Bride’s and Mother’s Dress: Olga’s Bridal, Tampa
    Bridesmaids Dresses:

 {mosimage} A Long, Leisurely CourtshipWhen Colleen Maroney and Clay Shelfer fell in love after meeting at a friend’s backyard barbecue in 2001, they didn’t think about putting off their wedding for five years

As time went by, we knew we were in love, but we were pretty relaxed about it,” Colleen says. “People kept asking us when we were going to get married, but when you wait for a while before marriage, you know someone is truly right for you and you are right for them. You are better prepared for a lifelong relationship.”

After taking their time to do things their way and enjoying a long, leisurely courtship, Colleen and Clay were married in a lovely lakeside ceremony on April 8.

It almost didn’t happen at all. Clay had asked Colleen for her phone number. She was moving from New York City back to Tallahassee, and she had given him the number of her Big Apple apartment. However, when he called there, nobody knew her new number in Tallahassee.

“Most of my life, I didn’t believe in love at first sight, but I do now,” laughs Clay. “When the number I had for her didn’t work, I asked my friend who gave the barbecue how to get in touch with her, and I kept trying till I found her here in Tallahassee,” he says.

The rest, as they say, is history. When they met, both were at a stage in their lives to find that “certain someone” and settle down. Clay had graduated from the University of Mississippi and his identical twin brother, Drew, already was married. Colleen had moved to New York to enjoy life in the big city, then decided there’s no place like home and returned to her roots in Tallahassee.

Both grew up in Tallahassee, but their school days took different turns. Colleen went to Lincoln High School and graduated from Florida State University. Both Clay and Drew went to boarding school at Darlington, a college prep school in Rome, Ga. The two went on to the University of Mississippi in Oxford, then to North Carolina for a while. Finally, Clay headed back home.

Colleen and Clay’s first date was at Café Cabernet, joined for dinner by Clay’s cousin, Brooke Lochore, and her husband, Hugh, of Inverness, Scotland, who constructed the cross-country courses of the Red Hills Horse Trials.

“We love dining out, but we prefer the outdoors and all the activities associated with it,” says Colleen, explaining that most of the rest of their courtship was spent at the beach, swimming, fishing, kayaking and otherwise having fun in the sun.

Therefore, it couldn’t have been more appropriate that Clay chose a fishing trip as the setting to propose to Colleen.

“We’d been together for so long, I was completely unaware that he was going to propose that day,” remembers Colleen. “We were on the river and I had a fishing rod in my hand when he asked me to marry him. We were afraid we would lose the ring out there!” she says.

Longtime friends Rick and Martha Barnett hosted an engagement party for the couple that also doubled as a tool and kitchen shower. “The showers given us were so practical,” Colleen says. “We had been on our own since college and had acquired a lot of household goods, so it was great to be given showers like this.”

They were determined that their wedding wouldn’t be formal and stuffy. Clay vetoed tuxes and chose a khaki-colored suit for himself, with navy coats and khaki pants for his nine groomsmen.

Colleen’s search for the perfect wedding dress took her to Fort Myers, where she found her dream dress: a strapless, soft ivory satin design. Her wedding bouquet was of white tulips. Her eight bridesmaids’ street-length, strapless, apple green Vera Wang dresses from New York were set off by bouquets of pink tulips fashioned by floral designer Missy Gunnels.

One deviation from the informality was Clay’s wedding gift to Colleen, a diamond and sapphire bracelet from Tallahassee Diamond Center.

The day before the wedding, a bridesmaids’ luncheon at Chez Pierre restaurant was hosted by three of Colleen’s aunts, Melony Simmons, Joli Craver and Julie Rouse. Colleen gave her bridesmaids tote bags with their initials monogrammed on the sides.

All the events surrounding the wedding itself were at Tall Timbers, a lushly wooded land conservancy located deep in the Red Hills between Tallahassee and Thomasville, Ga. The rehearsal supper in the barn was hosted by Clay’s parents, Judge Jim and Kathy Shelfer. Other family members on hand for all the wedding festivities included Clay’s brother, Drew, and his wife, Michelle; his grandparents, Betty Lou Shelfer and Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Shelfer; Colleen’s parents, Pat and Sherry Maroney; her brothers, Frank, Kevin and Ryan; her grandparents, Fran Maroney and George Alma Rouse.

Calling it a “practice supper,” invitations read, “Leave your spats and tiaras at home . . . y’all come have fun with us.” Red and white tablecloths set a down-home theme for a low country boil, created by Susan Shelfer, that spilled over with crawfish, shrimp, oysters, fish and other sumptuous seafood. Drink holders were given as favors.

Since the ceremony was at 6 p.m., there was plenty of time on the wedding day for Colleen and the bridesmaids to have their hair and nails done at The Green Peridot that morning.

The day of the wedding, Clay and the groomsmen played golf at Summerbrooke Golf Club.

With a laid-back ceremony in mind, selecting Tall Timbers as the wedding site was pure inspiration. The scenic grounds fronting the Henry Beadel House – a grassy slope down to the vast panorama of Lake Iamonia – fit their wishes for a sunset ceremony perfectly.

There was just one little flaw to the outdoor plans: The weather didn’t cooperate.

“We tried three times to start the wedding, and each time the skies would open and it would pour down rain,” Clay says. “Finally, we just went ahead and got married under umbrellas in the rain.” A solo guitarist, Charles Santiago, provided the music.

Clay’s father, Judge Shelfer, conducted the ceremony, adding a special touch to the nuptials.

“And my twin brother Drew was my best man. Having my father and my brother in the ceremony meant a lot to me,” Clay says.

The reception was a clear winner. A huge tent kept out the rain, and The Bushmen band provided the musical beat for dancing.

Heavy hors d’oeuvres and a sumptuous supper were catered by Vicki Cureton and Clay’s aunt, Susan Shelfer. Lots of mouth-watering Southern cooking was served up, but the undisputed highlight was a whole roast pig, smoked by Clay’s uncle, Bruce Shelfer.

A luscious cream cheese wedding cake was created by Katie’s Cakes of Havana, but Clay’s groom’s cake stole the show: a pyramid of Clay’s favorite Krispy Kreme donuts.

Inspired by the country location, tables were centered with galvanized buckets and tubs overflowing with wheat grass and huge hydrangeas.

They spent their wedding night at the Governor’s Inn before flying off for a memorable honeymoon in Riviera Maya, Mexico.


  • Invitations: The Green Kangaroo (North Carolina company contacted online at
  • Registry: My Favorite Things, Pottery Barn and Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Rings: Tallahassee Diamond Center
  • Location: Tall Timbers Research Station
  • Hair and nails: The Green Peridot
  • Bridesmaids’ luncheon: Chez Pierre Restaurant
  • Tote-bag gifts: M&M Monogramming
  • Wedding program: Printed by Kinko’s
  • Flowers: Floral Designer Missy Gunnels
  • Out-of-town guests: Cabot Lodge
  • Wedding cake: Katie’s Cakes of Havana
  • Tent: A to Z Rental
  • Photographer: Kay Meyer

 {mosimage} Lucky in LoveIt’s a good thing Lauren and Ben Gluesenkamp aren’t superstitious, because luck has played a special role in their relationship

As Lauren sat nervously in her car outside TGIFriday’s on a midsummer night in 2004, she thought about the blind date she was there for and wondered if it was too late to cancel. She didn’t know that, two cars down, Ben Gluesenkamp sat in his truck feeling the same way.

Just then, the mutual friends who had arranged the date were spotted entering the restaurant. Both made the decision to shake off their doubts, go inside and trust their luck.

Once they met, it took just one look. The spell was cast, and they have been together ever since. Their storybook wedding was Feb. 25.

This newlywed couple’s romantic story proves that blind dates do in fact work. But maybe it helped a little that they both attended Maclay School, their parents knew each other well, and they were in the same circle of friends.

Lauren and Ben have a lot in common. But, as the saying goes, timing is everything – and before this happy couple got together, theirs was slightly off.

For starters, Ben is six years older than Lauren, so they never knew each other in school. Then, despite their parents’ friendship, somehow over the years they never met. Finally, they had some of the same friends, but they never all got together at the same time.

For years, Ben and Lauren’s lives took separate paths. Ben went off to the University of Georgia and, after graduation, came back to Tallahassee and started a furniture business. Lauren went to Tallahassee Community College and began a career in property management.

During a time when both were free of romantic ties, mutual friends thought they might like each other and set up a date for them to meet.

“We were so lucky to have found each other,” Ben says.

They made up for lost time when they finally got together. The immediacy with which the two fell in love may seem extraordinary, but the poignancy of their romantic story is sure to make one’s heart skip a beat.

“I guess you could call it love at first sight because we just hit it off right away,” Lauren says. “He invited me to spend the next weekend, which happened to be the Fourth of July, with his family at their beach house in St. Teresa. Everyone was there, so I met the whole Gluesenkamp family at once. Fortunately, they welcomed me with open arms.”

They dated for 10 months. Finally, on May 13, 2005, Ben planned another weekend at the family’s vacation home.

Once again, the stars of fortune shone down on the couple, even though the date was Friday the 13th.

On the way that night, Ben and Lauren stopped for dinner at Angelo’s Restaurant in Panacea, and Ben was acting a little antsy. “I couldn’t eat a bite,” he recalls. He didn’t talk much, and Lauren says she finally asked him if anything was wrong, wondering if they should just go back to Tallahassee.

Ben convinced her to go on to St. Teresa but, when they walked in the door, a blast of cold air “practically blew us away,” Lauren recalls. “It was freezing in there.”

Ben suggested they go up to the third floor and see why it was so cold. Up in the elevator they went, with Lauren shivering and shaking. When the doors opened, it was immediately clear why the air conditioning was turned to a frigid low.

The big room was filled with hundreds of flowers. Huge bouquets of colorful blossoms on tables, on walls, hanging from the ceiling, on windows – everywhere. Ben had conspired with their friend Ed Blissard, of Purple Martin Nursery in Crawfordville, to create an amazing arbor of blooms.

“It was a fairyland of flowers,” Lauren says. And over in the corner was a small table set with two champagne flutes and a small box. Ben dropped to one knee and opened the box for the sparkling diamond ring to put on her finger.

Ever since, Friday the 13th has held special meaning for the couple. “We think of it like an anniversary,” Lauren laughs.

They called their folks that night. The next day, everyone congregated at the beach house to share in the good news: Ben’s parents, Jerry and Jo Gluesenkamp; Lauren’s mother, Terry, and her friend Nelson Mongiovi; her father and stepmother, Tommy and Glenda Rhodes; his grandmother, Virginia Douglas;  Lauren’s brother, Will, and stepbrother, Joe; and Ben’s brother, Jack. Even friends who were visiting the coast that weekend dropped in. Joan Strickland was on hand to photograph it all.

The engagement set off a whirlwind of activity, beginning with an engagement party at the home of Gary and Sheila Sprague. Subsequent festivities included showers with kitchen, garden, lawn and “setting up household” themes. There were dessert and Christmas parties leading up to the big day.

The wedding and reception were scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25, at Golden Eagle Country Club, with Doug Dortch, pastor of First Baptist Church, officiating. Wedding planner Ramsey Parham took the reins and guided the couple through the thousands of details involved with a formal ceremony for 400 guests.

Lauren spent the week before the wedding with her aunt, Nan Cherry, so she could concentrate on the wedding plans. On the preceding Thursday, the bridesmaids enjoyed luxury pampering at the Bernice at Betton salon. That Friday, another aunt, Rochelle Proctor, hosted a luncheon for Lauren’s seven bridesmaids, and Lauren presented them with gifts of Norwegian fox fur stoles.

Meanwhile, Ben and Lauren exchanged wedding gifts. Lauren gave Ben a gift of a 20-gauge shotgun, and he gave her a pearl and sapphire bracelet from the Tallahassee Diamond Center to match earrings he had given her for her birthday. Her diamond engagement and wedding rings also came from the shop.

Ben and his groomsmen played golf that Thursday, and he spent Friday wrapping their gifts of leather excursion cases. That night, his parents hosted the rehearsal supper at Bradley’s Retreat, located across from the historic Bradley’s Country Store on Centerville Road. To the music of Dickie Hosford’s band, a wild game supper catered by Cowboy Grillworks set the theme for the evening, and the rooms were decorated with mounts of deer and other game on the walls. Centerpieces of antlers and pheasant feathers adorned the tables.

The day of the wedding, they had one more lucky break. Weather forecasters had predicted a 100-percent chance of rain, so the outdoor arrangements were moved inside. “It never rained a drop,” Ben smiles now. “But, if it had, we were ready!”

Beautiful in a Jim Hjelm strapless white dress, Lauren carried a bouquet of mixed flowers. Her bridesmaids wore pear green and ivory dresses with brown sashes.

Floral designer Vicki Cureton fashioned the flowers, with special attention to an arbor designed and built by Ben.

At the reception, Stan Barnes of Montgomery, Ala., played music for dancing. Kathy Ferrell of Havana created a sumptuous, four-tier wedding cake with raspberry filling and – as a tribute to woodworker Ben – fashioned a unique chocolate groom’s cake shaped like a toolbox and festooned with chocolate saws, hammers, wrenches and other tools.

A Rolls Royce limousine whisked the newlyweds to Melhana Plantation for the evening, where they had been given a key to their bridal suite. Here, their luck didn’t hold and, unfortunately, as the limo drove away, Ben discovered that the key didn’t work and they couldn’t get in. A few phone calls later, they munched on a basket of goodies the wedding planner had packed for them while they waited for the key to be delivered. “Thank goodness for cell phones,” Lauren says.

After catching their breath in the peace and quiet of Melhana, they flew out to honeymoon at Sandals Resort in St. Lucia for eight days. Now at home in Tallahassee, Lauren says, “We’re just now coming down from the clouds.”


  • Custom Event Planning: Ramsey Parham
    Bridal Gown: The New Image
    Bridesmaids’ Dresses: The New Image
    Tuxedoes: Tails & Tweeds
    Hair: Haute Headz
    Flowers: Vicki Cureton
    Entertainment: The Atlantic Chamber Players
    Photographer: Estes Photography (Jacksonville)
    Invitations: Candy Woodward, Bedfellows
    Registry: My Favorite Things, Bedfellows,
    Someone’s in the Kitchen, Vignettes,
    Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot
    Caterer: Golden Eagle Country Club
    Cakes: Kathy Ferrell (Havana)
    Entertainment: Stan Barnes (Montgomery, Ala.)
    Transportation: Mike’s Limousine


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