Samantha Perkins and Tommy Willis were brought together by a ring tone. Freshman year at Valdosta State University, Tommy and Samantha were hanging out with mutual friends when her phone rang to the tune of Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey, Tommy’s favorite song. He was so taken by her he sold his video game collection for money to take her to dinner and a movie (something she learned years later). The two had a great date and on the walk back to the dorms, learned how much they had in common by playing twenty questions. Samantha asked her roommate, “How many likes equals a love, because that’s how I feel about this guy.”
Tommy felt the same and in 2014, surprised her with a proposal. He coordinated with her parents and grandmother to get her out of town for the day. With the assistance of their families, he hung lights in the pecan orchard Samantha played in as a child, set up wine barrels, flowers, and his bible and prepared a beautiful poem for her. Family and friends hid out in the barn in anticipation of Samantha’s return.
When Samantha, her mother and grandmother pulled up to the orchard, the lights strung in the pecan trees lit up the scene. Samantha was stunned. The proposal was perfect, and their friends and family helped celebrate the happy occasion.
The ceremony took place in the same pecan orchard where Tommy proposed. The backdrop was a row of old barn doors salvaged from the barn of a close family friend, while cotton and cotton hulls grown by the bride’s father were used as decor and boutonnières. The wedding party arrived in a carriage, and Tommy’s eighth groomsman was the family dog, Buddy.
Tommy escorted both of his grandmothers and his mother down the aisle to their seats. To commemorate his late grandfathers, he wore cuff links engraved with their initials and an heirloom watch. Samantha carried charms of her two late grandfathers’ thumbprints on her bouquet.
Once the happy couple became husband and wife, they exited to a string quartet version of Don’t Stop Believin’.
The reception took place at the Perkins’ barn, specially renovated for the wedding. A large window overlooked the orchard and ceremony site, patio string lighting connected the reception area between the barn and the pecan trees, and chandeliers hung over the dance floor and newlywed’s table. Church pews lined the perimeter area, while lanterns and candlesticks garnished with cotton hulls, baby’s breath and greenery decorated more than thirty farm tables built for the wedding. Each place setting had a questionnaire about the newlyweds’ future, as well as a gilded cow, and Perkins farm pecans and peanuts in gift bags stamped with Don’t Stop Believin’.
As a surprise wedding gift, Samantha’s brother hired an artist to paint the reception setting including key guests, and framed the final product with wood left over from the barn renovation. The gift is now in the couple’s home, as is a “church pew for two” engraved with Mark 10:9 and signed by wedding guests during the reception.
The couple exited in a blaze of sparklers, delighted that one day after their eight-year dating anniversary, they became husband and wife.
Photographer: Amanda Sumner Photography, GA
Venue: Bride’s Family Pecan Orchard (Perkins Farm in GA)
Wedding Planner: Dent Ward, FL
Florist: Delilah Cureton Floral Designs
Catering: Vicki Cureton of of Cruton & Co., FL
Videography: Personal friends filming with GoPros
Invitations: Gillespie Printers, GA
Cake: Katie’s Cakes, FL
Rentals: The Event Group, AL
DJ/Band: Sylvester Parsons and the Powerhouse Band, AL
Ceremony Musicians: Aaron Seiler String Quartet, FL
Hair/Makeup: Amanda Sumner
Wedding Gown: Suite Bridal, GA
Bridesmaids Dresses: White Weddings, GA
Formal Wear: Men’s Wearhouse
Barn Renovations/Wedding Structures: Richard McFatter, GA
Barn Designer: Samantha P. Willis