As is our annual custom here every January at Memphis magazine, we present three of our favorite local weddings of the previous year. These weddings were clearly joyous and carefully planned occasions and mostly traditional (though one did include the participation of The Peabody’s fine-feathered friends!) starring beautiful young brides in elegant, flowing gowns. In all three, the ceremonies and receptions were held at historic Memphis landmarks — The Peabody, the Hunt Phelan house, and Annesdale Mansion — which added to the fun and excitement.
We congratulate the three families and wish you every success in your lives together.
— Anne Cunningham O’Neill
Photography by Elizabeth Hoard
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The 11-year courtship is over: bride and groom at last.
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The wedding party in front of the historic Hunt Phelan house last June.
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The bride and groom (center) with Patrick and mother-of-the-bride Kim Messer at left; at right, Carolyn and Larry Baskin, the bride’s maternal grandparents.
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The bride and groom pose happily with his parents, VJ and Greg Dunavant, after the ceremony.
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The bride and her beloved grandfather, Larry Baskin, steppin’ out on the dance floor.
If you can believe this, Haley Wallace, the daughter of Kim Messer, and Johnny Dunavant, son of Greg and VJ Dunavant, began dating way back in middle school. As the groom said then and reminds everyone now, “She was the prettiest girl in eighth grade.”
Haley and Johnny contentedly stayed the course all through Bolton High School and their college years; Johnny graduated from Rhodes, Haley from the University of Memphis. They were engaged in the summer of 2015 and last year were married on June 11th in a beautiful 6 p.m. garden wedding at downtown’s historic Hunt Phelan home. One can describe this accurately as an amazing 11-year courtship!
The bride-to-be really had no idea of what kind of wedding she wanted, beyond the fact she wanted it to be “simple, intimate, and sweet.” She did not have a wedding planner but somehow the event came together once the venue was selected.
Everyone, it seems, knew everyone at this wedding since the couple had dated for so long. There were nine bridesmaids, many of whom were the bride’s Kappa Delta sorority sisters and nine groomsmen, including the groom’s SAE fraternity brothers. The maid of honor was Breeanna Schramm and best man was Nick Dunavant. Pastor Craig Gyergyo from High Point Church was the officiant.
The bride’s wedding dress was from Low’s in Brinkley, Arkansas, and the groom’s suit was from Jos. A Bank. The peachy-pink bridesmaids’ dresses were from Bella, while Kacie Cooper, floral designer, did the flowers and the wedding cake was from Cakes by Carolyn. Elizabeth Hoard was the event’s photographer, and Shelby Wilson of Twenty-Two Magnolias was the videographer. Under the tent, the down-home local food came courtesy of Gus’s Fried Chicken and Central Barbecue, while the beer was Ghost River. Guests danced the night away to the music of the Memphis All-Stars. Then it was off to Spain for a wonderful honeymoon. Whew!
The Dunavants are both aged 25 and clearly are a perfect match, right down to their professions. Johnny joined Teach for America and teaches economics and government at Melrose High School where he also coaches basketball. Haley is a seventh-grade science teacher at White Station Middle School.
I asked Haley for her secret for steering a relationship through the shoals of high school, college, and afterwards, and she replied simply “balance.” For the couple, this means “balancing time together and apart and always being mindful of life’s other priorities.” For the new Mr. and Ms. Dunavant, it sure has worked! Their wedding website says they are “just two teachers who love each other and love their city.” They are much, much more than that but what a lovely sentiment to remember this lovely couple by!