From childhood crush - to a high school love, through letters sent during Navy service - to over two decades of passing time, beyond the struggles of divorce and the trials of beginning again; Laura and Bernard's love story certainly surpasses the test of time.
Read all about their beautiful story, birthday engagement, and elegant & stylish Nashville, Tennessee wedding!
Bride-to-be: Laura Ferguson-Middleton
Groom-to-be: Bernard Mimms
Occupations: Superintendent & Locomotive Engineer
Wedding date: September 17, 2016
Wedding location: Sinema Restaurant, Nashville,Tennessee
Tell us how you met and all about the proposal! Bernard and Laura met when Bernard was 9 and Laura was 12. Their families knew each other well. Bernard first saw Laura at her Aunt Peggy's house, who lived next door to Bernard's aunt. If you ask Bernard he will say it was love at first sight. The two would eventually date in high school. Bernard asked Laura to marry him prior to leaving for the United States Navy. She said they were too young to be so serious, plus she was still in high school.
While in the Navy Bernard wrote Laura a series of love letters declaring his love for her. Over time the letters became less frequent and the two lost touch. Laura moved from Tennessee to Texas, married her college boyfriend, and had kids. Over time, Bernard moved on as well, married and had a daughter.
Laura's 22-year marriage was dissolving and she took a job that allowed her to be close to her family in Nashville, Tennessee. She knew she needed the support of her family to successfully traverse this difficult life transition. While out antiquing with her Aunt Peggy one weekend, Laura told her aunt she wanted to try to locate Bernard. Aunt Peggy kept her word and provided Bernard's phone number. Laura says she was a broken woman. She began to pray and thought of someone who loved her before. "Someone who didn't love me because of what I had accomplished or what I could do for them, just pure innocent love...I thought of Bernard." When they finally spoke, it had been over 20 years since they had communicated with each other.
Over the course of a year, the two fell in love all over again and Bernard proposed to Laura on her birthday in 2015. Laura's immediate family and friends were all present for the special occasion.
In a twist of fate, Laura's mother was doing some spring cleaning and found the love letters Bernard wrote Laura over 30 years ago. One of those letters was dated September 17, 1985. Bernard and Laura were married 31 years to the date of his love letter from the Navy.
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? This was a second wedding for both of us, so we definitely wanted something different and reflective of our life journeys. We jumped a beautiful black broom adorned with live orchids. Also, our reception playlist was our favorite "old school" love songs.
Wedding style: I originally shopped for and purchased a traditional wedding dress. However, after watching an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress" with Bernard, my plan changed. He shared with me that he loved the way I dressed everyday. Because I am a full figured woman I wear St. John's Knit most days, the stretch knit covers a multitude of sins and it travels exceptionally well. He said I would love to see you in a St. John's gown because it's so you. So the search began for the perfect St. John's gown. I ended up purchasing a gold St. John's gown to wear on my wedding day. After purchasing an evening gown as a wedding dress, I knew I didn't want a traditional veil. I worked with Janis Flood Fridia of Good Fridia Hats to design a custom headpiece. She asked me to get dressed in my entire bridal ensemble and send her a picture. It was her vision for a one of kind fascinator that she called "All Eyes on Me." I have to admit that I was unsure when I first saw it, but when I got dressed on my wedding day I knew it was the perfect headpiece to celebrate this special day that had been 30 years in the making. I also loved the live orchid wristlet Paige Brown made for me to wear instead of a traditional bouquet.
Wedding theme: 30 Years in the Making
Favorite item on the menu: French toast, filet mignon, and cheese grits
Wedding cake flavors: Strawberry, Almond and Lemon
Bridesmaids/Groomsmen gifts: The bridesmaids received monogrammed robes, wedding day jewelry, and make-up application. The groomsmen received ivory shirts, pocket squares, lapel flowers, and personalized dopp travel kits.
First dance song: "The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me"
What is your best memory from your wedding?
Bride: I have many favorite memories from the weekend...spending the weekend with my "Bride Tribe" preparing for the wedding, having family and friends together at the mansion prior to the wedding, walking down the aisle escorted by my eldest son to meet Bernard at the altar, our first dance, the fellowship and fun during the reception, and our grand exit.
Groom: My best memory is when the soloist began singing "At Last" signaling Laura's entrance. I knew from the rehearsal that when this song started Laura would enter shortly afterwards. Also, the first dance was a real highlight.
Bride & Groom: We both wanted an intimate wedding where we knew we could look around and feel the connection had with each and every person in the room. We were moved by the love and positivity present throughout the entire ceremony and reception.
On a separate note, the mansion I rented for the weekend had a surprise waiting for me-- bed bugs. Out of all the rooms in the mansion, the only room with bed bugs was my room. By the morning of the wedding, my neck, chest, arms, and back were covered in red welts, as I have severe allergic reactions to insect bites. Thank God my incredible make up artist was able to cover all the welts on my neck and chest. I was determined to not let any obstacle ruin this day that had been three decades in the making. Usually people appreciate honesty from those closest to them, but on this day I appreciated the people closest to me lying. They lied so much that I began to believe them. They told me no one would notice the welts because they would be too busy looking at my beautiful face. So I forgot that I was really looking like Will Smith in Hitch. I loaded up on Benadryl and didn't give it a second thought until our grand exit. By the time we entered our vintage Jaguar limousine, the pain was unbearable. We cancelled our mini-moon to San Francisco and headed to the Emergency Room. We spent the majority of our wedding night in the ER, but were still smiling and enjoying the moment as best we could. It is a memory neither of us will forget.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples? Craft a celebration that reflects who you are as a couple. Everyone will have ideas and opinions about your wedding, but at the end of the day it's your wedding and it should be everything you want it to be. Hire a great photographer and videographer, you will not regret it. Hire a wedding planner. Breath and enjoy every moment of planning, preparing, and participating in your special day
Other details... Bridesmaids Attire: All bridesmaids selected their own wedding attire. The only requirements were that the outfits be ivory and not upstage the bride. Each person selected an ensemble that perfectly suited their personality. It was awesome.
Groomsmen Attire: The groomsmen each purchased their own black suit. We didn't feel comfortable asking them to rent a tuxedo, which can turn out to be quite expensive then you have nothing to show for the funds expended. We wanted the groomsmen to have a put together, but somewhat casual look which is why they didn't wear ties.
Venue: We wanted a venue that was different and non-traditional. When we saw Sinema we knew it was the perfect place for our wedding and brunch reception. It has a retro Gatsby, yet modern vibe, not to mention the food is absolutely incredible. The restaurant buy-out allowed us to have the entire venue to ourselves. Also, the venue required minimal decorations due to incredible decor already present in the restaurant.
Paige Brown Designs - Wedding Coordinator and florist
Shannon Bankston Photography - Photographer for engagement and wedding photos
Peerless Films - Videographer
Artofficial Makeup - Makeup artistry
St. Johns Knit - Wedding gown
Sinema Restaurant - Wedding and reception venue
Paperkuts - Stationer
The Frosted Affair - Wedding and groom's cake
Janis Flood Fridia - milliner
Nashville Wedding Cars - After wedding transportation
Grand Avenue - Wedding party transportation