Dixie Darling

by Allison Hersh

A change of plans leads a New York couple to Savannah—and inspires a decidedly Southern soiree.  



By Allison Hersh  |  Photography by Donna Von Bruening

When Lacy Rehe, a West Virginia native, got engaged to her college sweetheart, Jersey boy Bob Gayda, she envisioned a tiny, unassuming affair.

“I wanted to elope and do something just the two of us,” she confesses, “but Bob really wanted a big wedding.”

Eventually, Lacy came around to the idea—with one condition: it had to be a Southern affair.  Although the couple lived in New York City, they decided to plan a destination wedding in Savannah, one of their favorite cities.

“Savannah is so gorgeous,” the bride raves.  “I love the South, and I really miss it.”

Lacy’s inspiration to get married in Savannah came from her reaction to attending a number of weddings in New York.

“There’s a real difference between a Northern wedding and a Southern wedding,” she explains.  “Everything is much more formal and standardized in the North.  In the South, you can have so many different family traditions and really make your wedding more personal.”


Planning Perfection

Lacy and Bob wanted an outdoor wedding at the height of spring, so they enlisted local wedding planner Genina Ramirez of From This Day Forward Weddings and Events to find the perfect locations for the ceremony and the reception.  As soon as the couple saw the Harper Fowlkes House, a Greek Revival architectural gem overlooking Orleans Square, they knew they had found the ideal place to say “I do.”  The Georgia State Railroad Museum’s inimitable vintage industrial vibe would infuse their reception with rustic charm and a convivial spirit.

“We didn’t want our friends to come from New York and just spend time in a hotel,” Lacy adds.  “We wanted something very Southern and very Savannah.”

Lacy, who enjoys crafting, decided to make her own save-the-date cards, wedding invitations and programs.  She also covered wooden panels with chalkboard paint, creating customized signs that were later adorned with handwritten calligraphy for the ceremony and reception.

“I didn’t want a cookie-cutter wedding,” she says.  “I wanted a lot of personal touches.  It was really fun to plan.”


A Chilly Welcome

Despite all the planning, the couple’s wedding day brought one surprise: a freakish spring cold snap with temperatures dipping down to a chilly 40 degrees.  Lacy and Genina were prepared, providing lush fleece blankets and portable heaters to make guests more comfortable.

The afternoon kicked off in the romantic walled courtyard of the Harper Fowlkes House, where Lacy and Bob were surrounded by 135 of their closest friends and family members.  White rose petals and white candle lanterns lined the aisle as a bluegrass quintet played lively tunes with banjo accents and mandolin flourishes.

Flanked by her two nephews, the bride strolled down the courtyard’s herringbone-patterned brick aisle in a strapless, ivory Monique Lhuillier gown, holding a fresh spring bouquet of pastel peonies.  The officiant, a close friend who introduced the couple, brought the audience to tears during the heartfelt ceremony.


Hip Hospitality

Immediately after Lacy and Bob exchanged rings and kisses, guests sipped sangria and vodka-spiked sweet tea before taking a brief trolley ride to the railroad museum.  In a nod to the playful spirit of the wedding, attendees enjoyed lawn games like cornhole, golf and yard darts as they sampled Southern-inspired hors d’oeuvres by Chef Nick Mueller at the roundhouse.

“All the food was locally sourced,” Genina explains.  “The bride and groom are major foodies, so that was very important to them.”

Months before the wedding, Lacy had found several dozen bowties online, which she purchased for a bowtie bar to complement the more traditional cigar bar.  As they entered the reception, male guests were encouraged to swap out their neckties and get into the relaxed spirit of the wedding.

“The guys really enjoyed it,” Lacy chuckles.  “We didn’t have a single bowtie left.”


Country Roads

As the evening unfolded, the party guests retreated to the blacksmith shop to feast on an elegant plated dinner of braised beef short ribs and roasted local grouper.  Vocalist Trae Gurley sang jazz standards throughout the meal.  After a few toasts, the bride and groom cut their triple-tier white fondant cake before moving into the overnight shed—a rustic structure that once housed train engines—where they spent several hours dancing to live music with family and friends.

“I was really worried about the weather and the temperature,” the bride confesses, “but once we started dancing at the roundhouse, everyone was sweating and taking their coats off.”

At the end of the evening, guests were treated to a dessert and chocolate bar, as well as late-night chicken biscuits.  The reception concluded with Lacy and Bob joining the band onstage to sing the John Denver classic, “Country Roads,” with family and friends.

Despite the unseasonably cold weather, the wedding went off without a hitch.  In the end, Lacy says she’s glad she and her husband had a proper Savannah-style destination wedding, rather than eloping.

“We always say that if God gave us 10 more degrees, everything would have been absolutely perfect,” Lacy laughs.  “But everything else was exactly how we wanted it to be.”



Lacy and  Bob

Season:  Spring

Guests:  135

Planning time:  12 months

Palette:  Peach, blush, blue and green

Rehearsal dinner:  Vic’s on the River

Ceremony:  Harper Fowlkes House

Reception:  Georgia State Railroad Museum



The big day:  Saturday, March 2, 2013

Wedding planner:  Genina Ramirez, From This Day Forward Weddings + Events

Ceremony:  Harper Fowlkes House

Officiant:  Sean W. Cook, best friend of the bride and groom

Ceremony and cocktail hour music:  New Arts Ensembles bluegrass quintet

Gown:  Monique Lhullier

Accessories:  Shoes and shrug by BHLDN, belt and veil by Pnina Tornai

Hair and makeup:  Dollface by Jules

Bridesmaids’ dresses:  Individually selected by the bridesmaids in neutral tones

Groom’s attire:  Michael Andrews Bespoke, New York City

Groomsmen’s attire:  Their own gray suits with ties selected by the bride and groom from Saks Fifth Avenue

Reception:  Georgia State Railroad Museum

Catering:  Chef Nick Mueller & Co.

Reception music:  Trae Gurley (dinner) and The Dickens (dancing)

Florist:  Harvey Designs

Lighting:  LK Events

Cake and dessert bar:  Minette Rushing Custom Cakes

Chocolate bar:  Chocolat by Adam Turoni

Calligrapher:  Lowcountry Calligraphy

Rentals:  Event DRS, Charleston

Transportation:  Oglethorpe Tours and Silver Oak Transportation

Videographer:  Stephen Withers Event Videography

Photographer:  Donna Von Bruening, donnavonbruening.com