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Uniquely Traditional

Sometimes the most unique thing about a wedding is that it is traditional. With destination weddings and over-the-top occasions becoming commonplace, fewer couples are choosing church ceremonies and receptions that focus on celebrating the newlyweds and their loved ones. Not so for newlyweds Gina and Landon Rhodes.

After meeting in college and dating for five years, Landon popped the question one day earlier than he’d planned. “We got engaged on Christmas Eve in 2009,” Gina says. “He had planned to propose on Christmas Day. but I kept giving him his gifts, and he felt like he had to give me mine. He pulled it out, got down on one knee, and I fell out, literally, on the ground. I couldn’t stand up. I ruined it, ruined his proposal.”

After sharing the news with family on Christmas Day, Gina embarked on the 10-month journey of planning her dream wedding. The couple was hitched the evening of Oct. 16, 2010, at St. Peters by the Sea in Gulfport in what Gina calls a “Southern formal” ceremony, followed by a reception at Landon’s father’s house in Vancleave. “It was important to me to be married in the Episcopal Church,” Gina says. Dove Walker gave his daughter away as she wore a strapless mermaid gown by Ian Stewart accompanied by a cathedral veil. The flowers, arranged by Gina’s friend Wanda Tira, were done in fall colors with the exception of the bride’s bouquet. “My bouquet was antique lavender roses,” Gina says. “It didn’t match anything else but I didn’t care. They’ve always been my favorite.

“It was also important to me that everyone have fun at the reception. I didn’t want a stuffy reception where everyone stood around, ate a little food and left.” The venue, Landon’s father’s large farm and lake, provided the perfect backdrop for the night of dancing and feasting for the couple’s 200 guests. Local band, Dirty Play, kept their guests on the dance floor all night, and Biloxi Yacht Club’s Brian Pisarich prepared a feast that would not be soon forgotten. The couple added their own personal touch to the reception’s decor by using white pumpkins that they had grown on the property where the reception was held. Rather than sending everyone off with party favors, guests were invited to take home the pumpkins grown by the couple. “It was one of the most fun receptions I’d ever been to,” Gina says.

“In retrospect, I wish I had used a planning professional,” Gina says. “I’m glad that I planned the details that I did, but you never realize how busy you will be that weekend, and I wish someone had been in charge of everything. I thought I had it under control; I had assigned things to different people, but it never works out the way you expect. I could have really used someone for the last-minute stuff that comes up.”

Before making their home in Vancleave, the couple honeymooned for two days in New Orleans and seven days in Antigua.