photo credit, Deste Lee
Distinctive wedding sites
– Chapel of Memories, Mississippi State University, Starkville: Office of Facilities Use, (662) 325-3228
– Elizabeth Anne’s, 1873 Highway 15 North, Pontotoc, (662) 489-7089: Rhonda Sellers, Kim Head
– Generals’ Quarters Bed and Breakfast, 924 Fillmore St., Corinth, (662) 286-3325: Wedding coordinator, Charlotte Doehner
– Montrose, 335 Salem Ave., Holly Springs: Suzanne Lafever, finance and usage chairman, (662) 252-5574
– Paris-Yates Chapel, University of Mississippi, Oxford: University Central Ticket Office, (662) 915-7106
– Private John Allen Fish Hatchery, 105 Elizabeth St., Tupelo: Louise Godwin, (662) 842-2935
– Southside Gallery, 1116 Van Buren Ave., Oxford: (662) 234-9090
HED: Uncommon places
DECK: Choosing a site for wedding ceremony anything but routine
By Lena Mitchell
Young girls dream of the perfect wedding day, revising the colors for the wedding party, the style of the wedding gown and even recasting the role of groom many times.
What usually doesn’t change in the many scenarios they fantasize is the setting the church or worship sanctuary of their youth.
As time goes on, however, and their experiences broaden, prospective brides will often choose a nontraditional place to consecrate their wedding vows.
Wonderfully unique, special places abound in Northeast Mississippi that welcome the opportunity to host wedding celebrations.
A new establishment opened for business in Pontotoc recently that offers a range of special event services under one roof.
Owner Rhonda Sellers and manager Kim Head have assembled a staff of in-house bridal and event coordinators who can provide assistance for any client needs.
“We anticipate clientele from Tupelo, Oxford, New Albany and other surrounding areas,” Sellers said. “We will be a full service establishment, open year round, and providing overnight accommodations for out-of-town members of a wedding party.”
Facilities include a great room with baby grand piano, large patio area around a swimming, a large pool house with porch, well-manicured grounds, overnight accommodations, expansive parking and much more.
The professional staff at Elizabeth Anne’s has also established associations with vendors throughout the bridal industry, including caterers, florists, photographers, musicians and entertainers, limousine and carriage providers and numerous other service providers.
Consultation is free, but prices will be quoted on a bid basis by event.
“They’re getting a lot of hands-on expertise, so this is the way we’d like to work with our clients and people seem to really enjoy that,” Head said. “My standard is to supersede all expectations, and that’s what we strive for.”
Antebellum homes of the Old South are popular locales for weddings with atmosphere, and Northeast Mississippi is fortunate to have a number of cities with intact historical homes available for use.
Among those is Montrose in Holly Springs, a house built in 1858 in the classic Revival style. The house was given as a wedding present to his daughter by Alfred Brooks, with an interior that features a graceful circular stairway rising out of a generous foyer.
“Some people get married there, but mostly it’s used for receptions,” said Suzanne Lafever, Montrose finance and usage chairman of the Holly springs Garden Club.
The Garden Club handles bookings at the home. Rental for receptions and parties, or a wedding only, is $795. To use the facility for both a wedding and reception is $995.
“It’s a really wonderful place to decorate,” Lafever said. “There’s a long parlor with two fireplaces and mantles, a sitting room and dining room downstairs, as well as a full kitchen. It’s been used for book signings, luncheons and different kinds of events.”
A simple agreement is required, along with a deposit of $250 to hold the date. The balance must be paid within 14 days.
“We book up pretty fast in spring and summer, but we don’t book in April because of the Holly Springs Spring Pilgrimage tours,” Lafever said.
A focal point in downtown Oxford, the Southside Gallery has been the site of weddings, receptions, wine tastings, live theater and a host of other special events for a number of years.
The facility offers 1,600 square feet of space on the street level and an additional 800 square feet on the second floor, said spokesman Clements Odom.
“For any event we have gallery staff on hand if anyone wants to purchase art,” he said.
Rates for facility rental vary from $350 for a weeknight reception Monday through Thursday to $950 for a reception that begins before 6 p.m. and would require the gallery to close for the day.
Equipment available for use from the gallery includes two 8-foot folding banquet tables, a CD player/stereo system and a varying number of sculpture pedestals. Other equipment is the responsibility of the caterer or renter.
A contract is not required, but a $200 deposit must be paid when making a reservation.
Fond memories of their college experience, or meeting the intended spouse on the college campus prompts many couples to choose their college chapel for the wedding ceremony.
The Chapel of Memories at Mississippi State University in Starkville has been a frequent witness to such ceremonies.
The chapel is available for use by anyone, however, and will accommodate 125 guests.
The fee for using the chapel is $175, and $200 if the date is on a university holiday. After calling to request a date be reserved, there is a three week grace period to send the payment, and signing a contract is required.
The terms of the contract include four hours for a wedding and one hour the day before a wedding for rehearsal.
Receptions and other food service events may be scheduled at a variety of locations on campus, but the university food service must cater unless it is scheduled in the Alumni Building.
A lovely Victorian mansion and gardens maintained by the Tupelo Garden Club is available for a variety of elegant events and has been particularly popular for weddings.
The house and grounds were named for the man who served as a congressman from Tupelo from 1885 to 1901, and spearheaded the effort to bring the fish hatchery to Tupelo.
“It is a beautiful Victorian home,” said Louis Godwin, who handles bookings for the facility. “We’ve had many different kinds of events there, including class reunions, club meetings, teas and rehearsal dinners.”
A parlor, dining room and entrance hall provide very good traffic flow for any type of event, she said.
Godwin encourages people to make reservations as far in advance as possible. The fee to hold a wedding and reception at the fish hatchery is $300; the fee for a wedding only or a reception only is $200.
Payment of half the fee is required when a contract is signed to reserve the house. The balance is due at least one month before the date.
The house accommodates about 40 to 50 guests for an indoor wedding, more for a reception. There is a gazebo on the grounds where weddings are most frequently held, and it is fitted with electrical outlets for lighting and other equipment that may be needed.
There is also a porch fitted with electrical outlets that can be used for a band or other music.
“There’s a room that the bride can use as a dressing room, and a beautiful staircase that some brides have used as a backdrop for a ceremony at the foot of stairs,” Godwin said.
Though it has yet to open its doors, interest is already high in using the chapel being constructed on the Ole Miss campus.
Though unusually cold weather has delayed work somewhat, dedication is scheduled for April 28, said Don FrugŽ, president and CEO of the University of Mississippi Foundation.
“We do have a wonderful 200-seat chapel under construction,” FrugŽ said. “It has a full pipe organ and 48-bell carillon.”
The Peddle Bell Tower stands next to the chapel, both of which were fully financed and constructed from private donations, FrugŽ said.
Usage policies and fees are still being established, but interested individuals are encouraged to call to request dates beginning in late summer.