Miller Crenshaw and Hunter Cowan have known each other for as long as either of them can remember. They grew up in the same town, went to the same high school and attended the same university. And on February 11, 2017, this hometown romance culminated in what was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful weddings Memphis has ever seen.
While they’ve known each other since they were children, and though Hunter has had eyes for Miller since elementary school, this couple didn’t actually spend time together until the week before Miller started school at Ole Miss. Hunter, who is a few years older than Miller, was a junior living in Oxford, and he went to a rush party that Miller also happened to attend. They hung out that night and were basically inseparable from then on.
A couple of years later, Hunter moved back to Memphis and started working at Raymond James, and two years after that, Miller returned to Memphis to join her mother’s interior design firm, Rhea Crenshaw Interiors. In April 2016, Hunter and Miller planned to attend Double Decker Arts Fest in Oxford. It had been a year since Miller graduated, and many of her friends were coming in for the festival, so she was thrilled at the chance to return to her beloved college town.
Before making their way to Double Decker, Hunter wanted to stop by Crenshaw, the small Mississippi town where Miller’s father grew up, a few minutes away from Oxford in the Delta. Hunter said he wanted to go see where Miller’s grandparents used to live and convinced an unenthused Miller to make the additional trip under the pretense that it may be her last opportunity to see the home, since it was being sold. After much convincing, she finally agreed. They pulled up to the house on a sunny morning in April and noticed a gardener tending to the front yard. They stepped through the front gate so Miller could take a photo of the house, a request from Hunter, while he headed back to the car. When she turned back around, she saw Hunter in the courtyard behind her, on one knee with a ring in his hand.
“I think the first thing I yelled out was ‘no!’ because I was so shocked,” Miller says. The gardener they had noticed when they first pulled up to the house was actually a photographer in disguise, so he began snapping photos, perfectly documenting the special moment. After that first wave of shock passed and Miller responded with an excited “yes!”, the newly engaged couple enjoyed glasses of champagne kindly set up for them by Hunter’s brother along with a limo ride to Oxford where they shared the news with their friends. The celebrations continued back in Memphis with a surprise party planned by Miller’s parents
Since she was a little girl, growing up watching the weddings in Father of the Bride and The Parent Trap, Miller knew that her wedding would be a refined black-tie affair, a nighttime wedding with a large guest list so that all of their family and friends would be included in a fabulous night of joyful celebration. The bride and groom settled on a winter wedding. February was free from the heat of the Southern summer and the various allegiances of football season, it was after duck season and before turkey season, and it proved absolutely perfect for the formal downtown Memphis soiree Miller envisioned.
In keeping with her refined taste, Miller kept an elegant, muted color palette for her day. The bride and her 13 bridesmaids carried lush bouquets in shades of cream, green and silver-gray. Miller’s bridesmaids wore floor-length navy gowns and Hunter’s groomsmen dressed in tuxedos and black bow ties with custom-monogrammed cummerbunds. Miller says that her long-held, clear vision for the day, coupled with her work in interior design, helped her to make difficult decisions relatively quickly.
The morning of the wedding, Miller woke up at her childhood home in Memphis, a fuss-free choice, “like a bride would have done 30 years ago,” she says. Her bridesmaids gathered there to get ready for the wedding, and memories of many of her bridesmaids spending time together at the house back in high school covered the day in an additional layer of nostalgia. The girls enjoyed a leisurely brunch and relaxed in personalized navy robes while getting their hair and makeup done and getting ready for the celebration ahead. After every curl was pinned and every dress zipped, they took photos together and the bride and her maids headed to the church, where Hunter was waiting for her at the end of the aisle.
Hunter and Miller didn’t see each other before the ceremony, so when the clock struck 6 p.m., Miller made her way down the “Bride’s Walk” toward the sanctuary, and the anticipation built to a fever pitch. She turned the corner on her father’s arm, and as “Canon in D” filled the historic chapel, packed to the brim with guests, this lovely bride locked eyes with her handsome groom and made her way down the aisle. There, they exchanged vows and rings and a joy-filled kiss, grinning the entire walk back up the aisle as Mr. and Mrs. Cowan.
The reception followed at The Columns, a circa-1929 former bank lobby in downtown Memphis with grand, towering ceilings and 22 marble pillars framing the space. Birch trees with spindly branches draped in twinkle lights brought an air of enchantment and a touch of the outdoors into the space. The bride and groom surprised their guests with a lighthearted, high-energy first dance.
“Our first dance was probably my favorite part of the entire day, besides the getting married part, of course,” Miller says. “We danced to ‘Proud Mary’ by Tina Turner, and no one knew about that. We love to dance, so it was really fast and ‘Proud Mary’ is just one of those songs that every time we hear it at a wedding or when we’re out at Raiford’s, it just really gets us excited.”
Guests enjoyed a decadent buffet of winter comfort foods prepared by Elizabeth Heiskell Catering that Miller describes as a hunter’s delight, including a biscuit bar with country ham, gumbo, pork tenderloin, potatoes au gratin and fried okra, just to name a few of the decadent dishes. After enjoying the delicious meal, guests danced the night away to Motown music performed by the Jimmy Church band. Toward the end of the evening, they brought out Miller Lite hats (as a nod to the bride’s name and the groom’s love for hats), Miller Lite 40s (the staple drink at their beloved Raiford’s) and chicken-on-a-stick (the late-night snack of choice in Oxford).
At the end of the night, their guests showered Mr. and Mrs. Cowan with rice, and the newlyweds piled into an antique car and drove off toward their next chapter as husband and wife.
Thank you for sharing your magical day with us, Miller and Hunter! Cheers to countless married days as happy as this one!
Photography: Taylor Square Photography
Wedding planner: Mona Dunlap Events
Wedding dress: Ann Barge, Maggie Louise
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Hayley Paige Occasions
Groom: Oak Hall
Cake: Father of the Bride
Flowers: Garden District
Venue: Calvary Episcopal Church
Reception: The Columns
Rentals and decor: White Door Events
Catering: Elizabeth Heiskell Catering
Band: Jimmy Church
Makeup: Angela George
Hair: Sharon and Kelly with Kelly Beers Salon
Merchandise and stationery design: The Stovall Collection
Videography: John Christian Williams
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