A casual walk down the beach forever changed Rachel White’s life. While strolling across the warm sand with her beau, Tyson Raper, she came upon giant, hand-crafted letters in the sand spelling out the all-important question — will you marry me? She quickly turned to see Tyson on one knee, ring in hand. With an affirmative answer, the whirlwind of wedding planning commenced!
Soon, the date was set for June 11, 2011. The ceremony took place at Auburn United Methodist Church with the reception to follow at Greystone Mansion. Harpist Donna Kemp softly serenaded guests as they were seated for the ceremony while bridesmaids strolled down the aisle in knee-length, cornflower blue dresses made of silk. Organist Sandra Watwood played “Pachelbel’s Canon in D” as the girls glided down the aisle holding clusters of white hydrangeas. The bride walked down to “The Sound of Music.”
Not to be outdone, the groomsmen donned traditional black tuxes with matching vests and ties. Ring bearers Benjamin Farmer, Christian Farmer and Jacob Farmer also leant special significance to the ceremony, as the bride was their former nanny.
The bride was radiant in a strapless dress featuring a sweetheart neckline. The dress held sentimental meaning as it was formerly worn by her sister Elizabeth, just a few short years ago. Rachel carried a gorgeous bouquet of blue and white hydrangeas, with a delicate mingling of roses. Dr. George Mathison performed the couple’s ceremony. In a tribute to both deceased grandfathers, who were ministers, he incorporated wording from their respective ceremony notes. The bride’s cousin, also a minister, read a prayer of Rachel’s grandfather. Various vocalists performed at the ceremony and the reception, most of whom were members of musical groups/classes with the bride at Auburn University.
For a special treat, the bride’s mother presented her with a diamond and sapphire ring earlier in the day. As Marti White recounts, “When she was a little girl, I used to let her wear it while we were sitting together in church. I decided way back then that I would pass it on to her on her wedding day.”
Even scattered showers could not dampen spirits, as guests made their way to the reception. Marti recalls with a laugh, “It rained on both my daughters’ wedding days! They both took it all in stride.” With music provided by the group “Therapy” and catering by Kimble’s Events by Design, the reception guaranteed a good time for all. The bridal cake was made by Billy Lee of Terra Cotta Café, while the groom’s cake was specially made by Tyson’s mother, Rena Raper. As the rain poured down, the bride and groom did not miss a beat, dancing their first dance to the Sam Cooke’s classic, “You Send Me.”
The groom leant his own special touch to the festivities by personally growing the sunflowers, the bride’s favorite, used in centerpieces for the rehearsal dinner. Through the years, Tyson would bring Rachel sunflowers to mark special occasions. The couple’s first date took place on Rachel’s 17th birthday, and they have been together ever since. Though apart for a time due to school, the two have always shared a strong bond.
After honeymooning in Cancun, Mexico, the couple now resides in Fayetteville, Ark., where Tyson is attending the University of Arkansas on a distinguished doctoral fellowship. As fate would have it, the bride’s sister, Elizabeth, is enrolled at the same university and will receive her doctorate in Clinical Psychology in May. The happy couple remembers their days on the Plains fondly and looks forward to a bright future together — hopefully filled with sunflowers!