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Summer 2011



Share the secrets to a happy marriage

To Do’s before the

I do’s

Love Stories Tales of engagements


A note from the Editor A Madison County bride is beautiful, sophisticated, elegant and savvy. She is smart, knows what she wants and reaches for the stars. She is diligent in finding the perfect invitation, program and favors that match and showcase her and her fiancé’s personalities. She is proud to be a Madison County bride and wants it to show throughout her wedding. What’s so great about Madison County are the beautiful, historic landmarks, which could all serve as a fabulous backdrop to any wedding. A Madison County bride will incorporate the settings and her surroundings into her perfect wedding. In this issue, I hope we can help all of you find that perfect photographer, stylist and caterer for one of the most important moments in your life– your storybook wedding. We hope the articles in this edition will help guide you before, during and after your special day.

3 MANAGEMENT Erica Slone President & Publisher EDITORIAL Michael Hansberry Editor Laura Maxwell Staff Writer Laura Vaughn Staff Writer Miranda Murphy Staff Writer Sarah Brewer Photographer MARKETING Chris Dickey Marketing Consultant OFFICE MANAGER Laura Samples Customer Service PRODUCTION Daniel Holmes Design Jamie Sparacino Design Bride Guide is published two times per year: Madison Publications, Inc. P.O. Box 859, Madison, AL 35758. To obtain information regarding submission of wedding, engagement or long-lasting stories for an upcoming issue, e-mail us at, call our office at 256-772-6677 or visit us online at Advertising rates and information is available upon request by calling Erica Slone or Chris Dickey at 256-772-6677 or by e-mailing


10 Tips on shopping for the perfect gown 1. Shop at a reputable bridal salon. There is a danger in getting off brand dresses and not the real thing. The fabric and construction may not be as good. 2. Begin shopping nine to 12 months before your wedding date. Keep in mind that gowns may need to be special ordered, so you should purchase your gown at least six months before your wedding date to allow for shipping and alterations. 3. Visual aids are helpful. Bring pictures of gowns from bridal magazines or Internet sites with you when you try on gowns. 4. The focus should be on the bride and not her entourage. Try not to bring more than two people with you when trying on gowns. For example, just bring your mom, sister or best friend whose opinion you trust. 5. Call ahead to see if the salon you are visiting needs you to make an appointment for the showing. Try on no more than six to eight gowns at one showing. Trying on too many gowns makes it confusing and difficult to make a decision. Plan to spend up to an hour and a half for the showing. Appointments during the week are desirable. Saturdays are a salon’s busiest day, so try to schedule a time during the week if possible. 6. The salon associates are there to help. Be open-minded and try on gowns that the salon associate may suggest as working on your body type. 7. Save heavy makeup and self-tanner products for a time when you are not trying on gowns. Flesh-toned undergarments will not show through the gown – leave the polka dots at home! Strapless bras are also helpful. 8. Be budget conscious. Inform the salon associate of the price range you want to stay within. Ask about special promotions on in-stock gowns, as well as any additional services. 9. Gowns are ordered to your largest measurement. Wedding gowns typically run smaller that your normal dress size, so don’t panic when you see the sizing in the gown. 10. Reality television shows about gown shopping are entertaining, but they do not portray a realistic experience. Doris McDonald is the owner of Madison Town and Country Bridal, located at 211 Hughes Road, Madison. For more information, visit or contact Doris at 256.772.8938.



Laura Vaughn & Dane Pemberton


Laura and Dane met in September 2009 while they were students at Auburn University. They dated throughout their time at Auburn, and during Laura’s senior year Dane proposed. Laura was doing her internship at The Madison Record, and Dane was working in Ft. Knox, Ky. Laura went back to Auburn for the weekend to take a midterm, and spend some time with friends. What she didn’t know was that Dane was driving down to surprise her! Laura was staying with her best friends while in Auburn, and enjoying a lazy Saturday morning when Dane called her. While they were on the phone, Laura’s friend announced that Dane was on the front porch. Laura was less than thrilled because she was worried Dane would be imposing on her friends by showing up unannounced. Dane convinced her to just get ready and let him take everyone to lunch. After lunch at their favorite restaurant, where Dane made Laura fall in love with sushi, he told her not to worry he had another surprise and would not be imposing on her friends. He rented a hotel room at Grand National, and asked Laura to go with him to check-in. Grand National is built around a beautiful golf course and the cutest subdivision that Laura and Dane eventually plan to call home!  After a walk around the complex, Dane asked Laura if she’d like to go downtown since she’d just written an article about Toomer’s trees. Just as they arrived downtown it began to rain. Dane, who is normally very laid-back, was adamant that they get lemonade from Toomer’s Drugs and wait out the storm. The rain eventually stopped, and Dane suggested they go back by Samford Hall, the oldest building at Auburn. Laura loves the garden at Samford and frequently took pictures of it for her photojournalism class at Auburn. When they got to Samford, Dane told her he had one more surprise for her. He got down on one knee, and asked her to marry him. Once she quit crying, she said of course! Laura and Dane will be married in Birmingham on April 28, 2012. They plan to reside in Auburn.


Tyler Jones & Vanessa Rolf

In the spring of 2007, Tyler Jones and Vanessa Rolf were two college students at The University of Alabama enjoying the end of their spring semester. Tyler was studying biology while Vanessa was studying economics and finance. On April 12, 2007, Tyler and Vanessa were set up on a blind date for Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority’s annual Barnyard party by a mutual friends. They immediately hit it off and, being from the same area, realized they had a lot in common. After that evening, Tyler called the next day and the couple began the dating game. Tyler graduated a month later in May and moved to Birmingham to accept a position  at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Vanessa remained in Tuscaloosa to begin her senior year. Little did the couple know that this was just the beginning of their long distance relationship. Tyler and Vanessa found time between their new careers and studying to spend countless hours driving on I-20 between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa to see each other. She later accepted a position in the NASA Headquarters Procurement Program based out of Huntsville. In 2009, Vanessa was sent on a rotational assignment to NASA Langley in Hampton, Va. for a year. Tyler arranged for the couple to meet halfway in Charlotte, North Carolina for Vanessa’s 24th birthday. They spent the weekend exploring the city and enjoying each other’s company. On March 20, 2010, Vanessa’s birthday, Tyler surprised her with a sunset dinner cruise on Lake Norman. Later that evening, Tyler said, “I can’t wait any longer” and got down on one knee. From there, everything has fallen into place for the couple. The couple married on April 30, 2011 at First United Methodist Church of Huntsville.



Laura Laxson & Eric Prater


When I met Eric on May 29, 2010 I was certainly not looking for a relationship, but little did I know we would be married 10 months later. We met at the Brick Tavern and Deli in Decatur, his hometown. The next night he took me to Cantina Laredo at Bridge Street and we were together every day since. Seven months later on Christmas Eve, he took be back to Cantina and popped the question. We knew we wanted a short engagement, so we set the date on Christmas for March 26. I wanted a morning wedding so we could be unique and leave for our destination right away. We set the time for 10 a.m. We knew this was going to be quite a journey! The day of the wedding, there was a bad thunderstorm. I cried and got sick, and knew our ceremony was not going to be as planned. Eric and I talked one time over the phone that morning, and he assured me as he always does that “everything was going to be okay.” With the help of my bridesmaids and mother, I slipped into my gown and put my earrings on, and got ready to meet my groom. With it raining, we had to take pictures inside the plantation, which turned out beautifully, and would have never happened if it weren’t raining. My daddy led me to the barn doors and there stood Eric, with tears streaming down his face, and a huge smile. Suddenly, I forgot about the rain, I forgot about the mud, and I remembered that I was marrying my dream man. The wedding was absolutely perfect. We’re glad it rained, because it did at my parents’ wedding, 32 years ago, , and if we can survive that storm, there’s hope that we can survive the storms that will come our way. We learned through all of this that it does take some money to have the nice, big wedding, but you can plan it in three months and if you have great family and friends, they will help you.


Anthony & Melody Jones

In April of 2010 I decided that it was time to get serious. I was a little worried because I had been told by some people that finding the kind of ring that I wanted for Melody would be a little more difficult because of her finger size (3.5). I found Melody’s ring at JV Diamond, and because she wanted something different I chose an aquamarine center stone. At the time Melody was doing quite a bit of traveling for work, so I didn’t have to shop in secret. I picked up the ring while Melody was out of town. During that week I was trying to formulate a plan for the proposal. I didn’t know if I wanted to do something grandiose or keep it simple. Actually, I wasn’t even sure when I wanted to do it, but I figured I had gotten the most important part out of the way. On the night of April 22, 2010 Melody returned from her business trip. I decided that I would propose that night! However, I still didn’t have a plan. I figured we would have a nice dinner and take a walk around the park, but I didn’t want to let on that something special might happen, so I said “Let’s go out to eat, you can pick the place” to which she responded, “I think I want some Chinese.” At this point I didn’t know exactly what to do. I mean, dinner in a Chinese restaurant isn’t my idea of romantic. So I asked “Are you sure, We can go anywhere you want to go” and she says “yeah, I think I just want some Chinese.” When we left for dinner I brought the ring went with me because I figured I could propose when we go for a walk afterward. We ate dinner at Tai Pan Palace, and afterward I suggested that we go for a walk. The only problem was the food has caused her to have a stomachache. Much to my dismay, we decided to return to my house. Since it was spring, the flowers in my garden were in full bloom. I plucked some of the flowers from my garden, which she questioned, but I told her I just wanted to put them in a vase. We entered the house, the ring was still in my pocket and we were having a conversation about who knows what. While we were talking she took her eyes off of me long enough for me to get down on one knee, and when she turned back around I had the ring in one hand and the flowers in the other. I told her I loved her and asked her to marry me. I’m pretty sure I said some other things as well, but it was all moving pretty fast. She hugged and kissed me while I was still on one knee, and we fell to the floor. I took her response as a yes. We were married on May 21, 2011.



Casting call

Choose your wedding party carefully, and make sure everyone knows his or her roles. THE MAID (OR MATRON) THE BEST MAN - His duties creating welcome baskets for guests. OF HONOR - The maid (or include organizing the bachelor party, matron) of honor is by the bride’s side getting the groom to the wedding on GROOMSMEN - Their main during the entire wedding process. She helps plan the bachelorette party and heads up the planning of the bridal shower. Her wedding day duties include signing the marriage license, adjusting the bride’s train at the altar, holding the bride’s bouquet during the vows, holding the groom’s wedding ring and collecting gift envelopes at the reception. She should also help the bride get dressed for the big day and is the last bridesmaid to walk down the aisle before the bride.

time, holding the bride’s wedding ring, signing the marriage certificate, toasting the happy couple at the reception and returning the groom’s tuxedo to the rental location.

responsibilities include helping pay for the bachelor party and supporting the groom during his big day. They may also double as ushers before the ceremony.

FLOWER GIRL - The flower girl BRIDESMAIDS - The bridesmaids walks immediately before the bride and

offer to help the maid (or matron) of honor with planning the bachelorette party and putting together the bridal shower. They act as a support system for the bride and may offer to help with things such as addressing envelopes and

throws flower petals down the aisle.

RING BEARER - The ring bearer walks down the aisle with the flower girl to carry both the bride’s and the groom’s wedding ring.


et Gigi’s Cupcakes create a one-of-a-kind gourmet cupcake arrangement that will truly capture the beauty of your day. Whether it’s a bridal shower, a rehearsal dinner or the big day itself, we offer a large variety of gourmet cupcakes from which to choose, including Italian Cream Wedding Cake, Champagne and Wedding Cake. We also offer a private tasting and Gigi’s Minis are available for events as well. It’s no wonder more and more brides are now saying “I do” to Gigi’s Cupcakes. Huntsville 2109 Whitesburg Drive Tel: 256.270.9950 Mon-Sat: 10am-7pm :

Madison 1591 Hughes Rd. Tel: 256.325.0448 Mon-Fri: 7am-7pm; Sat: 9am-7pm :



Keepin’ it all in Check The ring is on your finger, and you have no idea what to do next. Don’t worry! This checklist offers a breakdown of every detail you need to make big day fabulous. 9 to 12 Months ___ Choose a date. ___ Decide whether or not you’d like to have a religious ceremony or not, and clear the date with your clergy. ___ Send out engagement announcements to local newspapers. ___ Set a budget. Work out who is going to pay for what. ___ Decide on the size of your wedding and make a guest list. ___ Decide on your color scheme. Reserve your date and venues. ___ Choose your bridal party (and help your groom with contacting his attendants too). ___ Decide on bridesmaids’ dresses. ___ Shop for your wedding dress, shoes and jewelry. ___ Interview florists, caterers, musicians, photographers, videographers and bakers. Get written estimates of their costs, and begin compiling a binder. 8 Months ___ Hire the photographer and the videographer. ___ Book the entertainment. Attend shows of potential performers to see them perform in front of audiences. ___ Meet caterers. ___ Reserve a block of hotel rooms for

out-of-town guests. ___ Register for gifts at least two stores in varying price ranges. ___ Launch a wedding website. ___ Shop for wedding bands. 6 to 7 Months ___ Select and purchase invitations. ___ Shop for wedding bands. ___ Meet with the officiant. ___ Send save-the-dates. ___ Book a florist. ___ Arrange transportation. ___ Start creating a day-of timeline. This will make it easier for everyone in the wedding to know what’s going on. 4 to 5 Months ___ Book the rehearsal and rehearsal-dinner venues. ___ Select and order the cake. ___ Send your guest list to the host of your shower. ___ Purchase wedding shoes and start dress fitting. Bring the shoes to your first fitting, and be prepared to attend up to three. ___ Check on the requirements of a marriage license. ___ Select music for your event. ___ Prepare directions for guests to the wedding and reception.

2 to 3 Months ___ Mail out invitations. ___ Meet with the entertainer for your reception. Make sure to be specific on volume, favorite songs and songs you do not want played. ___ Finalize rehearsal dinner plans. ___ Plan bridesmaids’ luncheon. ___ Double check appointments for the big day. ___ Finalize honeymoon plans. 1 to 2 Months ___ Get your wedding license. ___ Have your final dress fitting. ___ Confirm time of floral deliveries. ___ Create a shot list for your photographer. 2 weeks before ___ Pick up your wedding rings. ___ Pack bags for honeymoon. 1 week before ___ Make final checks with all vendors. ___ Arrange for gifts to be delivered to your home. ___ Wrap gifts to give attendants to give at the rehearsal dinner or luncheon. ___ Write checks, and see they are given out to vendors. ___ Inform your caterer of the final number of guests.


Laura Maxwell & John Joly


It all started in high school. I was a cheerleader; John was the captain of the basketball team. The beginning of our relationship was similar to that of any other one: Boy meets girl. Girl falls for boy. Boy (finally) asks girl out. We began dating Jan. 19, 2007. He graduated from high school that year. He was one year ahead of me, so we did the long distance thing for a while. Then, a year later, I did the one thing you’re not supposed to do—I followed him to college. Fast forward another couple years. It was two days before my 20th birthday, June 4, 2010. He had a test on Monday that he needed to study for, so he said he wanted to celebrate my birthday early. I didn’t think much of it. He came over to my apartment. I had decided I wanted to make dinner, so I was in the kitchen cooking. He started slipping me little notes, filled with sweet compliments and him telling me how much he loved me. Again, since my birthday was two days away, I didn’t catch on to what was happening. I figured it was just part of my gift. About six notes later, I was sitting on the couch. I unfolded another note and read it: ‘Laura, look up at me.’ I glanced up, and there he was in front of me, kneeling with the ring. I’d known for a long time that he was the man I wanted to spend my life with. He’s my soul mate, my best friend. And soon, I’ll be able to call him my husband. Now, after about one year of being engaged, the wedding is fast approaching. We are getting married Aug. 6 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.


Erica & Jamie DeSpain

I met my husband, Jamie on a blind date to his sophomore year at West Point military ball in February 2008. My sister was dating (now engaged) to one of his best friends and they set us up. The best part: I set them up six years ago. During the summer of 2010, Jamie decided to rent a place in Tuscaloosa while I finished up my classes before graduation. On June 30, a week after I got my job offer, he told my roommate Emily to drive me around Tuscaloosa on a scavenger hunt as a celebration for getting my first job. I totally bought it. The poems he wrote that were my scavenger hunt clues were beautiful and thoughtful. They led me all around Tuscaloosa to the spots that were the most special to us as a couple. He was waiting for me at the end of the scavenger hunt at the Tuscaloosa River Walk with the most beautiful engagement ring. Our families were hiding taking pictures and videotaping. I cannot put to words how shocked I was. We celebrated with our families at my favorite restaurant, and then headed to my apartment where my friends were waiting with a big surprise party. It was the perfect night. When I asked him why he decided to propose so suddenly, he said that he realized after living in the same city with me for a week that I was his best friend and never wanted to imagine his life without me. We originally set our wedding date for June 2, 2012. I wanted to wait to get married until after my husband returned from deployment to Afghanistan in February 2012. During Thanksgiving break that all changed! After a lot of prayer and conversation with our family, we decided that getting married before the March 2011 deployment would be best for a number of reasons. I originally wanted a 300 - plus person wedding at the Ledges, but now knew that planning that type of wedding in seven weeks would be impossible! We opted for a beach wedding, something neither of us had ever thought about. When I woke up on my wedding day in Panama City Beach, Fla., I was the happiest girl in the world. It was going to be 68 degrees, cloudless, and little wind. It was truly perfect weather. About 100 of our very closest family and friends made the trip all the way to the beach for our wedding. It was such a perfect day! Today, my husband is stationed in Fort Campbell, Tenn. He is set to deploy and will be back in Madison in February, where we will live for the next three years. We feel so blessed to be married and have such sweet engagement and wedding memories.  



Dan Crishon & Jessie Springer


Jessie and Dan met in May 2009 while working together at Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. in Huntsville. Dan, an engineer, and Jessie, an assistant in the Business Office, could not have less in common, or so they thought. Until they realized their love of music was mutual. Jessie had tickets to a Coldplay concert in Birmingham and asked Dan if he would like to go, but only on one condition, he couldn’t fall in love with her. Dan laughed, and thought she must be kidding. They often joke about falling in love to the song “Fix You” by Coldplay. Of course, they have been inseparable since that cold, rainy night in Birmingham. Dan not only fell in love with Jessie, but he also fell in love with her daughter, Isabella, who lovingly calls him Dayun. Dan and Jessie had been ring shopping, but hadn’t decided when they would actually get engaged. While having a movie night on the couch, Dan told Jessie’s four-year-old daughter Isabella that he had a prize for her. Jessie, not paying any attention, burst into tears when “Bella” came to her bearing a beautiful ring box. Inside the tiny little ring box was a little silver ring just for Bella’s tiny finger. Dan got down on one knee and asked them both to marry him. Of course Jessie said yes, and after Bella asked if she could wear a white dress, she said yes, too!



Catering company makes

dreams come true


Cynthia Shea Hart is in the business of helping dreams to become reality. For more than 16 years, she has operated Cyn Shea’s Complete Catering and Shea’s Express, a bakery restaurant. Located in Huntsville, Cyn Shea’s offers high-end catering services in North Alabama for parties ranging from two to 2,000. The company focuses on more than just food though; it focuses on the entire event, creating the ambience and surroundings remembered long after the plates have been cleared. “One thing that brings tears to my eyes is being able to take a deep breath at the end of an event setup, look back and see what our team has created,” Hart said. We’re reaching for that wow factor when guests walk through the door.” Unexpected events occur all the time, and that’s what keep Hart always on her feet. The weekend of April 27, after the infamous tornado outbreak in the area, Hart still had a wedding to cater, without power or food. “After the tornadoes, our team shifted from ‘high gear’ to even higher,” she said. Her husband traveled to Georgia three times for generators and supplies, while she and the executive chef helped to organize a staff over two days to make that bride’s dream a reality. For a woman who owns a restaurant and a catering service, Hart’s humble beginnings would seem to have placed her in a more rural work setting. She was raised on a farm in Petersburg, Tenn. Her family

grew their own food. She recalls having been about 8 years old when she was taken to a restaurant for the first time for a hot fudge sundae. She attended college at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and transferred to the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She started waiting tables while in college and fell in love with the business. “It was high energy,” she said, “And my servant’s heart allowed me to be a very good waitress, anticipating my guests’ every need.” While climbing the corporate ladder, she opened 16 restaurants along the way and became a trouble-shootermanager, exercising an eye for detail that serves her well today. That experience is what set the foundation for how she would later run her own businesses. Hart has been working with brides-to-be long enough to know that stress is a factor in planning a wedding, but that hiring a professional team is key to letting go and enjoying the process. “One of the hardest aspects of my job is often helping our bride to realize she has hired us to re-create her dream into a working function,” she said. “I want to share in her dream; I want to visualize it with her so that I can help to execute it flawlessly.” After 35 years in the business, Hart shows no signs of stopping and she is grateful for everything she says God has given her. “It is my honor to serve in the greatest excellence I know how,” she said. “I strive to express that through our catering services, our restaurant, honoring our community and just loving people.”



Bachelorette without the regret BY LAURA MAXWELL

Everyone knows bachelorette parties have a reputation for being wild. So what’s a more reserved girl to do? It’s still possible to have a memorable night with friends without having a party mirroring that of the plot of “The Hangover.” In fact, here are tips to have a fun bachelorette party without any regrets. Consider having the maid of honor host a wine-tasting party. Have red, white and blush wines. Red, white and pink color combinations for decorations will tie in beautifully with the wines. Give the guests custom wine glasses when they arrive. These will serve as their glasses for the night, as well as party favors. Wine glasses can be specially designed at Glasswithatwist. com. Instruct guests to observe the colors, swirl the glass, smell the fragrance and taste the wine. Serve cheese, crackers, fruit and even chocolate along with the wine. Another relatively calm bachelorette party idea is to have a “Sex and the City”-themed party. Have the gals get glammed up for a classy night on the town. Rent a limo, and dine at your favorite fancy restaurant. Sip on Cosmos and enjoy catching up with one another. Now, this idea will be a special treat for any woman. With all the wedding craziness coming up, wouldn’t it be nice to just to relax? Why not do that for the bachelorette party? Start the day off with a brunch. Go

out to eat, or even have it at one of the bridesmaid’s houses. Sip mimosas and snack on light food. Then, head off to the spa. Get massages, manicures and pedicures, facials and more. And having the bride relax is a bachelorette party every groom will approve of. Finally, for the competitive bride, host a game night. “What’s a DAME to Do?” is the perfect game for a bachelorette party. It is sure to elicit laughs, as well as bring out funny stories. Another fun game is Miss Bachelorette’s Charades. For less than $15, this game is just the thing for clean fun. And all of the charade phrase cards are related to marriage. There’s no limit to what games can be chosen from. Don’t forget to give out fun favors to the winners. These can include gift cards, candy or even photo frames. At the end of the day, the bachelorette party is all about the bride. There’s no shame in the bride being demure. And wild, crazy nights in Vegas definitely aren’t necessary to have a memorable party.



anguage of




Sometimes, it’s fate that brings a couple together. Other times, it’s sheer coincidence. Whether or not that was the case for Sgt. Maj. Eugene Cope and his wife, Andree Evain, the wheels for their long-time partnership were set in motion long before the two knew each other. Andree was just a small girl in La Rochelle, France when her mother was taken captive by Nazis in the 1940s and released after five months of being in captivity. In her teen years, Andree would go to work at her cousin’s dry cleaning service, which was located at a U.S. Army command post. Eugene was fresh out of high school and had enlisted in the Army. He was sent to La Rochelle, France with duties in the 524th Military Police Battalion. He was guarding prisoners in the mess hall one day and saw Andree eating lunch on her break. “I was wondering why he was looking at me, I didn’t want to talk with him,” Andree said in her prominent French accent. A U.S. Army Captain had warned her about dealing with G.I.s because they were “bad boys.” Eugene didn’t care. “I had eyes for her,” he said with a smile. He asked around and found out where Andree worked. Eugene finally got around to asking her out. Still not impressed, Andree begrudgingly accepted. The two were scheduled to meet at an American hospital. Andree kept Eugene waiting three hours before showing up. “My grandmother said I was being a bad girl because if I didn’t want to go out with him, I shouldn’t lead him on,” Andree said. They walked around the city and talked for the remainder of the evening. Little did Andree know, Eugene was about to leave for a two-week class in Germany. He wasn’t allowed to tell her when or where he was going. “I asked around for him, but no one knew where he was, and I wondered if he was going to come back,” she said. “I began to miss him.” After he returned to France from Germany, she knew he was the one. “I said to myself, ‘This must be the real thing,’” she recalled. The two were married May 18, 1951. Eugene ended up staying in France until 1959, when the couple and their two children moved to the United States.  “It was a bit of a culture shock,” Andree said. “I looked at it and said, ‘Oh my God.’ I was thinking to myself, ‘What are you doing here? I think I need to go home.’” The family moved to Huntsville in 1965 when Eugene was assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Division at Redstone Arsenal . During their time in the United States, Eugene was sent on worldwide EOD support missions. “It was rough,” Andree said. “But as an Army wife, you’ve got to accept certain things. You learn very quickly to be independent and be resourceful.” The couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in May 2011. “The secret is you have to trust in each other,” Eugene said. “We understand each other. We dearly love each other. We were very lucky, in a way, because we never had any problems.”






When you walk into Madison Town and Country Bridal Shoppe, the feeling a bride can expect is of a smalltown shop that will give you a personal experience. Owner Doris McDonald opened Madison Town and Country Bridal Shoppe 25 years ago. It has grown into a place that keeps up to date with all the new fashions and provides brides with a wide variety of wedding dresses. The shop may be small, but the five to six attendants will give their full attention to the up-and-coming brides who are looking for their own special dress. “We want every bride that comes in here to have a happy experience,” said senior sales associate Karen Auvenshine. “We don’t want them to think of anything in a negative way. We want them to find a dress that they feel beautiful in and that they’re going to have fond memories of.” Auvenshine said that since the shop is small and privately owned, it gives them an advantage over other large commercial stores. “We have a very small staff so we really get to know our brides one on one,” Auvenshine said. “They’re not just an account here. We keep up with our brides even after their wedding has passed. We have a really small town, personal feel about us.” Auvenshine said that brides can come into the shop with hopeful expectations knowing that the trained consultants will help them to the best of their ability. “Brides should start off with a smile and a happy outlook,” Auvenshine said. “You’re planning for the happiest day of your life so be really open-minded and happy about what’s going on.” The shop provides something for almost everyone. The shop features bride’s dresses, accessories, bridesmaid dresses and tuxedos. Auvenshine said their wide selection of dresses would even provide unique dresses for a high school prom. The complementary services the shop offers sets it apart. Not

only will a future bride get a personal feeling from the shop, but they offer free alterations to special order wedding gowns, routine alterations to bridesmaid gowns and free pressing to bridesmaid and wedding gowns. Auvenshine said the shop will work with companies who make the dresses to make changes at the factory that their customers request. “We try to stay away from making really specific changes to dresses ourselves, but we try to accommodate to whatever the bride needs,” Auvenshine said. The shop’s website also features the designers the store has to offer. The website features selections for bridal gowns, informal gowns, mother’s gowns and accessories online.

For more information on the store or to see the many designers of the dresses that the shop has, visit or call the store at (256) 772-8938.


tips from pros


hen choosing the right food for the reception, season has a lot to do with it, but so does the time of the wedding. If it is in the summer, people usually get more roomtemperature foods, whereas in the winter they get hotter foods for the reception. Also, the later in the day it is the warmer the food being served should be. We recommend a couple figure 50-60 percent of their total budget go toward the catering and reception.

-Bruce Roy, Belle Fleur Catering

Preference in taste is the biggest part of picking out a wedding ring. Also, be smart with your money. Oftentimes, people go beyond their means when getting a ring because of financing that is offered. If you want insurance on your rings, get it through an actual insurance company. Before you buy, I recommend looking around, especially at independent jewelers. Don’t fall for the sales! Do your research, because if you’re not careful, you’ll pay way too much. It’s all about value.

-Alan Brock, Brock’s Jewelers

Fresh flowers are special for a wedding. The bride is fresh and young and bright-eyed. The fresh flowers are just the same. There is a crispness to them, a youthfulness that is just like the bride. When picking flowers, you should learn what is in season and also pick something that compliments or contrasts the colors that were chosen. I always ask the bride what atmosphere she is looking for. The flowers should reflect their personality, and go in with an open mind. Lastly, try to order your flowers six months before the wedding.

-Tamara Olive, Albert’s Flowers and Greenhouses

Every bride needs a wedding planner. A wedding is an investment, and you need to be sure you are making the right decision to make your day the best. As a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants for Alabama, I am always continuing my education, so I am able to bring a lot of knowledge to the table. By using a professional planner, you get better pricing and better service from other vendors because that coordinator is a repeat customer. Also, by having a professional consultant, you have someone who is going to help you with negotiating and with problem solving. The planner should always come on board first, especially for a bride who is trying to watch a budget. Enjoy every moment of the planning and try and make the wedding be a reflection of you. A personal touch is a really important thing. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box! Don’t obsess, but make sure you are making good, sound decisions. If you’ve got the right team working on the wedding, that cuts out all the stress. Try to just have the people who are nearest and dearest to you at the wedding. Instead of quantity, you should have quality. If you can’t afford a professional planner for a full service, hire them just for a month-before service.

-Calandra Terry, An Event to Remember, LLC.



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Independent Members of the Medical Staff at Crestwood Medical Center

Summer 2011 Bride Guide  

Madison County Brides