For more than 25 years, Jerry Williamson taught students at Opelika High School how to grow plants from seedlings to blooms, but little did he know during one of those years, a romance also blossomed.
Rachel Slay and George Brown met in one of Williamson’s greenhouse classes, when George was a senior and Rachel a junior, and became good friends.
“We started seriously dating my freshman year, George’s sophomore year, at Auburn,” says Rachel. “When I graduated from nursing school, I moved to Nashville, and George unashamedly followed me. We were engaged at Christmas of 2010.”
As wedding plans began, family and friends were involved in almost every detail. From the date, June 18, 2011, which would have been the 51st wedding anniversary of Rachel’s maternal grandparents; to having the ceremony in the church the bride’s family has been a part of for years; to the minister, Rev. Larry Torbert, a lifelong friend of the groom’s family; to the vocal music, programs, and floral arrangements, family and friends were an integral part from the beginning.
Between the ceremony and the reception, the bride and groom made a stop at Samford Hall on the Auburn campus to take pictures, shot by Will Givens of Fine Line Photography.
“Auburn University is where we really fell in love, and we are both such huge Auburn fans,” says Rachel. “I’m so glad we made that detour and got those pictures.”
The reception was held at Water Oak Manor, the totally renovated home of George and Susan Konstant, family friends of the Slays. Mason jars with votives hung from the trees on the front lawn, and hydrangeas picked from the yards of the Slays, the Browns and other family and friends were used as centerpieces with each arrangement encased in a silver goblet or other silver serving pieces, all belonging to family and friends.
A Southern summer fare prepared by Sharon Cargile included pulled pork, baked beans, steak sandwiches, hashbrown casserole, fruit salad and cole slaw served along with a bride’s cake with layers of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. In lieu of a groom’s cake, George chose an ice cream bar.
Music was provided by UEB 1st Generation out of Atlanta, and George says his favorite moment of the day, next to seeing his bride coming down the church aisle, was the first dance with his wife.
“By the time we had our first dance (to Sam Cooke’s That’s Where It’s At), I had tried the food and it was fabulous, and I had heard the band and they were great,” says George. “The sun was setting, and I just felt so complete. We danced the night away and had a blast!”
George and Rachel honeymooned in Jamaica and now reside in Nashville.