Since Sarah Schiavoni was a young girl, she’d imagined a garden wedding with beautiful flowers and lots of trees, and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens was the perfect setting for many reasons. Sarah first visited the Dixon with John Catmur many years ago and vaguely recalls how charming she thought a wedding would be there one day. Fast forward six years, and Sarah had been working at the Dixon for more than a year.
“I had just moved into the venue rental coordinator position and, suddenly, my whole world became weddings and events, — and everything just clicked.” Sarah had been pressing John to see the blooming white tulip field in the Dixon’s picnic area and on Easter weekend last year, he invited her out for a stroll through the gardens and lunch. As they rounded the corner into the tulip field, John got down on one knee and proposed. Sarah gave an ecstatic “Yes!”
As the venue rental coordinator for the Dixon, Sarah thought she had a bit of an advantage in planning her own wedding, as she had been a part of other weddings in the space. She knew when the gardens would be in the peak of their blooming season, she had relationships with local vendors and she knew the grounds well. But she also knew that she didn’t want to plan it on her own, so she hired Kathryn Sparks and Patti Ruleman of WED Memphis to help, mainly with vendors she didn’t know well, as well as coordination to take the stress off her and her family on the wedding day.
Sarah and John exchanged traditional wedding vows on April 9, 2016, at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in a lovely evening garden ceremony in the presence of family and friends. A reception in the Hughes Pavilion followed.
Sarah’s “something borrowed” was her paternal grandmother’s wedding ring. She wasn’t able to make it to the wedding, so this was a way to carry her through her special day. She also wore a small band of diamonds that her father had given to her mother on one of their earlier anniversaries. The woman who did Sarah’s alterations, Bonnie Roelofs, sewed a little blue ribbon into her gown as something blue. Sarah’s engagement ring belonged to John’s great-grandmother — it was her wedding ring from 1928. The original diamond had a crack along the edge, so John chose a new diamond for it. He had a local jeweler, Le Clear Jewelry, work that original diamond into a halo pendant necklace, which he gave to Sarah the day before the wedding and it became her something old and new. She carried a Belgian lace handkerchief that belonged to her maternal grandmother wrapped around the stems of her bridal bouquet.
In place of a groom’s cake, CFY Catering brought in an anti-griddle and made ice cream sandwiches and stuffed homemade cookies. They also had a cookie table available, a tradition in western Pennsylvania, where Sarah originally is from. A friend of Sarah’s mom made the cookies — and also gifted the couple cookie sheets and all the recipes for the cookies she’d made for the wedding.
When they arrived, guests were served passed crawfish beignets, lavender-smoked lamb lollipops and an amazing cheese and small bites display. The server sliced different cheeses on warm pink Himalayan salt blocks and served the slightly melted cheese with crostini, fruits, jams and meats.
While guests were snacking, John and Sarah had a private meal on the back porch of the museum.
CFY prepared a cocktail-style dinner buffet including a lobster mac ‘n’ cheese station, beef tenderloin with black truffle vinaigrette and pureed parsnips, and a “noshings” station with sun-dried tomato profiteroles, chicken sliders and flank steak nachos.
The couple chose to start their honeymoon in Amsterdam because neither had been and they had heard many great things about the canals, food and museums. They then traveled through Belfast and along the coast of Northern Ireland, enjoying the beautiful landscape and seeing the sites where Game of Thrones was filmed. Finally, they visited Dublin before returning home.
Thank you to Sarah and John for sharing your story with our readers. We wish you a lifetime of love and happiness!
Wedding planner: WED Memphis
Caterer: CFY Catering
Rentals: Mahaffey Tent and Event Rental, Amerispan and White Door Events
Floral and lighting: Garden District
Cake: The Flour Garden
Photographer: Lindsey Lissau Photography
Videographer: Creation Studios
Ceremony music: Memphis String Quartet
Reception music: Party Planet (REG Entertainment)
Hair: Candy Goin from CJR Hair Designs – Candice Schonheit Salon
Makeup: Kasey Acuff
Bridesmaids dresses: Bella Bridesmaids
Wedding dress: Low’s Bridal
Tuxedos: American Tuxedo
Photo booth: Phancy Photo Booth
Wedding Invitations: Mrs. Post Fine Stationary
Wedding program and signage: Created by Sarah, using Vistaprint
Wedding favor seed packets: RedCloudStudio on Etsy
Transportation: Premier Transportation Services
Venue (ceremony & reception): Dixon Gallery & Gardens (ceremony on the South Lawn Stage and reception at the Hughes Pavilion)
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