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The BIG DAY

Britni Ackermann & Sean Corrigan

By Holly Whitfield, holly@sayyesmemphis.com, 901-529-6514 | Photos by Norman Gilbert Photography, LLC, 901-820-0301, www.photonorm.com

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n a clear, starry night in February, all eyes were on the country chapel. The walls of the white building were brightly lit from the outside, and its steeple reached humbly towards the chilly black sky. The warmth of the timber interior was visible though the open door, and served to visually beckon the guests to their seats as they paced across the grounds of Bonne Terre. While it was a brief and enjoyable journey for friends and family from their vehicles to the chapel where Britni Ackermann and Sean Corrigan would exchange vows, the road to marital bliss had not exactly been smooth. The two met in 7th grade at Collierville Middle School and recall a mutual attraction, albeit one expressed in a typically teenage way. “He used to tease me,” Britni recalls. “But I thought he was cute.” In high school, the crushes and teasing faded into a casual friendship that lasted through college. Britni studied at The University of Memphis, while Sean entered The United States Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, Colorado. The couple lost touch until by chance Britni took a job in Virginia, near where Sean was stationed. “We went on one date in Washington, D.C., and we’ve been together ever since,” Britni gushes. The bride describes her groom as fun-loving, always laughing, and deeply loyal. “Every day he puts his life on the line at work, and it never fazes him. Most people are not that selfless,” she says of Sean’s career as an Air Force pilot. “I love that Britni will drop everything to listen to a story or a problem,” Sean shares. “She takes it upon herself to look after those around her. My favorite thing is that she brings out the best in me.” This generous and articulate couple spent four years building a relationship and relocating to Oklahoma before a special evening dinner date changed their future. Sean surprised Britni with a half-dozen red roses set on a table in a private booth at a restaurant. Before dessert, the young man took a knee and proposed. “I had known for days what was going to happen,” Britni laughs. “But I tried to act surprised.” After the initial excitement came the wedding planning. “Life isn’t a movie,” the bride explains. “Parts of being engaged are fun and new and exciting. At times it can also be hard.” The couple’s practical view of marriage and engagement is tempered by the joy they express in person. “His laugh is infectious,” says the bride of her new husband. “He has a good time everywhere he goes.” The bride and groom wanted a celebration that would reflect their loved ones’ roles in their lives, Southern elegance, and the military tradition of Sean’s family—his father is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and his brother is a Major in the Air Force. On February 26, 2011, Miss Britni Elise Ackermann, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Ackermann of Collierville, married Captain Sean Corrigan, son of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Corrigan of Collierville. The bride is the granddaughter of Dr. Harry Moore and the late Mrs. Shirley Moore of Germantown and Mrs. Dot Ackermann and the late Mr. Clay Ackermann of Alamo, Tennessee. She was accompanied by the Gentleman of Honor, her brother, Mr. Kit Ackermann. Dr. Sarah Corrigan, sister of the groom, also accompanied the bride as the Maid of Honor. The groom is the grandson of Mrs. Edna Corrigan and the late Mr. Richard Corrigan of Winston-Salem, North Carolina and the late Mr. and Mrs. Rolland Buell of Kokoma, Indiana. He was attended by his brother, Best Man Major Jason Corrigan. Britni and Sean were married in a traditional ceremony in the picturesque Bonne Terre Chapel on the grounds of Bonne Terre Inn and Restaurant in Nesbit, Mississippi. The bride looked radiant in a strapless white gown with beaded bodice and cascading layers, accented by blue heels and bright bouquet, while the groom donned his Air Force dress uniform. Groomsmen were in uniform or tuxes, while the bridesmaids wore floor-length strapless black gowns. After the ceremony, guests strolled over to the reception hall for a cocktail hour and appetizers, catered by Café Bonne Terre. The elegant brick interior of Ashley Hall was accented by plenty of candlelight; large glass orbs held floating candles and white flowers provided by Holliday’s Florist. A special Air Force tradition was reserved for the moment when the newlyweds exited the chapel and again when they made their entrance to the reception. Six uniformed attendants lined the entryway to Ashley Hall and held their sabers overhead, creating a “saber arch” for the bride and groom to walk under amidst cheers and applause from their loved ones. Britni and Sean followed tradition and cut their four-layer wedding cake with a saber, while Sean’s groom’s cake was an impressive replica of an F-16 Air Force jet, created by the talented artists at Cakes by Mom and Me. During their reception, the newlyweds floated through the crowd, bringing many hugs, bright laughter, and a few tears of happiness from family and friends. The new Captain and Mrs. Sean Corrigan enjoyed a warm Hawaiian honeymoon before returning to their home in Enid, Oklahoma. Sean is stationed nearby at Vance Air Force Base, and Britni works as a Patient Access Manager at St. Mary’s Regional Health Center. Britni plans to graduate from Northwestern Oklahoma State University with a master’s degree in Counseling in December of this year. The couple, who have known one another for fifteen years, is ecstatic to be married. “The best part of this process,” Britni exclaims, “is you waking up one day and realizing you have already been working as one. You get a glimpse at the wonderful life you have ahead of you.” To see more photos or submit an announcement, please visit www.sayyesmemphis.com.

Britni & Sean’s Wedding Bridal + Bridesmaid Attire: David’s Bridal of Tulsa, Okla. Bridal Makeup: Heather at Gould’s Exchange Ceremony Venue: Bonne Terre Chapel Catering: Café Bonne Terre Cakes: Cakes by Mom and Me Entertainment: DJ J2 of Rehab Disco Flowers: Holliday’s Flowers, Inc. Groomsmens’ Tuxedos: Men’s Warehouse Harpist: Anne Frey Invitations & Stationery: David’s Bridal Online Jewelry: Zales Photography & Photobooth: Norman Gilbert Reception Venue: Ashley Hall at Bonne Terre Rehearsal Dinner: The Crescent Center


The BIG DAY

Caitlin Gunn & Luis Belisario By Holly Whitfield, 901-529-6514 | Photos by Amy Dale Photography www.amydalephotography.com

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he towering antebellum home served as a backdrop to the sunset while the guests gathered in the Four Seasons Garden. Behind the antique wooden doors at the back of the garden, Caitlin Gunn stood waiting with her father. She clutched an all-white bouquet, and her auburn curls hung past her shoulders underneath the sheer veil. At the other end of the aisle, Luis Belisario, dressed in a dapper black suit with white vest and tie, grinned at the bride. Things had come a long way since middle school science class. Caitlin and Luis both attended Collierville Middle and High School and met when they were barely teenagers. “We just picked on each other a lot,” Caitlin reminisces. The innocent flirting and friendship grew into a relationship in high school. It was a mutual and natural progression for the opposites-attract couple. Caitlin is a graphic designer, and a self-described free spirit – “which means I’m disorganized!” she laughs. On the other hand, Luis works in communications at FedEx, and his quiet humor and earnest laughter add to their chemistry. “I had to finish college,” explains Caitlin of their long-term relationship and decision to wait on tying the knot. “We’ve never lived together,” shares Luis. “We have both had some time to live on our own and have individual experiences.” The respect and wisdom with which they have approached their eleven-year relationship is tempered by their sense of humor – Luis proposed with a rice cooker. “I had always talked about getting one,” Caitlin jokes. On July 22, 2010, Caitlin was getting ready to move into a new apartment when Luis appeared with the long-awaited cooking appliance. Luckily, he also had a gorgeous diamond ring to offer along with it. “I kept saying ‘is this really happening?!’” recalls the excited bride of the surprise proposal. After celebrating the engagement, the couple set out to plan a classy, Southern affair. Caitlin had always envisioned a winter wedding, but after visiting the estate of Heartwood Hall outside of Collierville, “everything changed” she says. John and Denise Suthoff own the home, and over the last eight years they have transformed the circa-1840 antebellum house and property into a Southern paradise. Antique bricks, wood, metalwork and other materials have been sourced from all over the country to maintain the authenticity of the venue, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Caitlin and Luis decided to have an April wedding with the ceremony in the formal garden, and a reception in the renovated barn. There was one catch. “The barn was not going to be ready until a few days before the wedding,” explains the bride. Anyone who has met Denise or visited Heartwood Hall would have every confidence that the vision of a rustic, yet elegant reception space would be completed on time. Still, “it was a matter of faith that it would be finished,” says Caitlin. On April 16, 2011, Miss Caitlin Gunn, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gil Gunn of Piperton, Tenn., married Mr. Luis Belisario, son of Mr. and Mrs. Javier Rauseo of Collierville, Tenn. in an evening ceremony with a reception that followed at The Barn at Heartwood Hall – by then completed. The Matron of Honor was Mrs. Allison Hensley, and the Maid of Honor was Miss Morgan Johnson. The Best Man was the father of the groom, Mr. Javier Rauseo. The bride’s dark auburn hair and porcelain skin was complemented by a stunning strapless gown with layers of soft ruffles and delicate beading and lace. Originally from Texas, Caitlin couldn’t resist wearing cowboy boots. Six bridesmaids wore one-shoulder knee-length gowns in a fresh, bright green and carried colorful bouquets of white, green and coral. The six groomsmen wore black tuxes and soft champagne-colored vests and ties. After the traditional ceremony, guests enjoyed the very first reception ever held at The Barn at Heartwood Hall. Old-wood timber beams, gleaming wood floors, and oversized chandeliers crafted from spindly branches created a shabby chic atmosphere that matched the couple’s relaxed but polished style. Guests dined, danced and mingled until late into the evening. The small lake at the front of the property, along with a rustic cabin, provided a space for family and friends to enjoy the cool evening. “Everything was amazing,” says Caitlin. The bride designed all of the stationery and planned most of the wedding herself, with help from the venue’s staff, and floral expertise by L & Jay Productions. The couple honeymooned in Jamaica before returning home. “I can be myself around Caitlin,” Luis shares. “She’s very kind, and we love to goof off and laugh.” The newlyweds are looking forward to the next chapter in their lives together and plan on enjoying simple pleasures, like caring for their rescue dog, Winston, and working through a healthy rivalry—she’s a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan and Luis loves the St. Louis Rams. “Our relationship keeps getting better,” the bride shares. “I know that when we are older, he’ll keep us young.”

Caitlin & Luis’ Wedding Bridal Attire Shop: David’s Bridal Cowboy Boots: Hewlett and Dunn Bridesmaids’ Attire Shop: Ballew Bridal Bridal Hair & Makeup Stylists: Gould’s Salon Ceremony Venue: Heartwood Hall Cake/Bakery: Oh My Ganache Caterer: Heartwood Hall Entertainment: DJ - Jon Russell Florist: L & Jay Productions Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse Jewelry Shop: Kay’s Officiant: Sam Nichols Photographer: Amy Dale; 901.351.1822 Reception Venue: Heartwood Hall Videographer: Cheri Theil

901.351.1822

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Feature Wedding Stories | selections from weeky newspaper section | Stories, photo editing and layout design by Holly Whitfield

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