Our love story began at first sight, the first day of our first class in college and our connection was instant. Immediately after graduating we had a June wedding in the small and quaint Methodist Church in Bartow, Georgia where my parents also married. I wore my mothers Bianca original wedding gown and my precious daddy preached the service with tear filled eyes.
Our story begins like a fairy tale! Love at first sight! Four long years of courtship and a year -long engagement, at the request of the bride’s mother!
Mark Edward Williams and Andrea Lynn Hunnicutt were finally married on June 16, 1984 at the same church were Andrea’s parents were married in 1961. Her father, Josh, performed what was then referred to as a “double ring” ceremony amongst 108 candles which were literally melting from the hot, south Georgia heat! Yes, inside the church! (Andrea, a lover of all things historic, must add that the church building was actually rolled across the Williamson Swamp Creek on logs pulled by mules during the 1800’s to its current location in Bartow, Georgia.
First look photographs made prior to the ceremony were actually frowned upon during this time, but, Mark and Andrea knew their love was strong enough to survive the “old wives tales”! They really couldn’t bear a moment apart, especially on their wedding day! So, photographs began at noon at Andrea’s grandmother’s house and outdoors under the shade of pecan trees. Mark’s fellow photographer, Carroll Gambrell and his wife Tommie, captured the precious moments of the day.
The wedding gown, a 1960 Bianchi silk original, was first worn by her mother. It was later worn by her sister, Leah, in 1989. Caroline recently wore the now fragile, vintage gown for a styled shoot in which Marielle and Julianne also did floral design.
Andrea’s father tenderly and tearfully charged her during the ceremony to always remember to be sensitive to the fact that a wife is to always be there for her husband as a shoulder to lean on after a hard day. Mark was challenged to always treat his bride with tender, loving care. Her Aunt Elaine sang an old wedding hymn titled “O Perfect Love”. The reverent ceremony seemed like a dream in the steamy hot sanctuary of the packed country church. Fortunately, silk flowers had become popular, so the Princess Diana style bridal bouquet and the simple bridesmaids bouquets of purple wisteria were as fresh looking as the morning dew.
Pictured above is Caroline in Andrea’s wedding gown. If you don’t look closely, you’d think it was Andrea!
Andrea’s mother always said that you could live on “love and jello”! Jello was the only food she knew how to “cook”! (And she should have known, when she married Andrea’s Funeral Director father in 1961 and moved upstairs into an old Funeral Home she discovered the truth of those words!) That was exactly their philosophy! All you need is love, true love!
We headed off to our honeymoon in the Blue Ridge Mountains and visited the Biltmore.We learned very early on what my mother meant by, “all you need is love and jello”. Life may have been simple but with true love a part of it you can survive just fine.
Advice to a Future Couple
Keep everything simple! Less is always more! In these days of mental overload from viewing so many photographs online and in social media, don’t forget about the love that started the “wedding bells” ringing in the first place. Forget about what everyone else is doing and think about only the two of you! You two will be making a holy covenant with God himself during your ceremony! Begin your story the right way, with no regrets. Remember that if anything goes wrong, you are usually the only person who knows it. An old minister once told me at a wedding Mark and I photographed that “all of Heaven opens up and rejoices at a wedding”! How beautiful! I never forgot that! Think of yourselves in the Garden of Eden with God at the very first wedding! At yet another wedding we photographed, the minister said to the couple during the ceremony, “Look into the face of the one you love as if you are gazing into the very face of God.”
Words of Wisdom
NEVER forget that the person you fell in love with is still “in there”! Time changes a lot of things. Always travel back in your mind and heart to the very beginning, to the happiest memories you made!
Pray together every day! Always sit together every night around the dinner table and share your day! Thank God for your blessings and even for the hard times. The tough times make you stronger! Never give up on each other! “I love you” are the most amazing words. And, a tender touch can light the brightest flame. Hold hands and don’t ever be afraid to say, “I’m sorry.”
Remember Proverbs 3:5 &6, “Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge HIM and HE will direct your path.”
This couples love of photography had already taken hold before this holy day in 1984. To be fortunate to share “love” every Saturday of their lives with hundreds of couples has been a true blessing to the Williams family! It only comes natural to the couples’ three daughters to share their love of photography, art and people!
And on a side note, Calvin already has a true love for people! Carrying on our traditions already!