According to nursing student Anna Willis, it was inevitable that she would eventually meet her future husband, Tommy Ross Vance, a third generation farmer, since they both grew up in the same small town in South Georgia. “Where there is only one middle school and one high school, this was bound to happen!” she explains. “We started hanging out junior year of high school, and eventually started dating later that year.”
The couple stuck it out for almost a decade, and then, one lazy Sunday morning in April, when Anna was making breakfast for the two of them, Tommy had a surprise in store. “He put the eggs on the counter where I was cooking,” she recalls. “And when I pop open the egg carton, my jaw drops, as there was a diamond ring sitting perfectly between two eggs in the carton!” Tommy later got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. “It was so sweet and cute,” she adds. “I could not have asked for a more perfect proposal.”
Anna had always envisioned a “sweet Southern wedding” for her big day, therefore it made sense to get married at her cousin’s home in South Georgia. “I always knew I wanted to get married there in the month of March,” she says. “The blooming Bradford pears lining his driveway and the abundance of blooming azaleas were always so appealing to me.” She and her mom got to work planning every aspect of the wedding, and they later hired Sally White to be their month-of planner and event coordinator. “She helped tie up loose ends and was in contact with all of our vendors. She was awesome and extremely helpful!”
When it came time to dress shopping, Anna was open to several options, but she knew she wanted something with some back appeal. “I just had to have dainty buttons trailing down the back of my dress,” she explains. She went to several appointments and kept coming back to a Mikaella dress she had tried on earlier. “It did not have buttons originally, but luckily, the designer was able to add buttons for me that trailed down the back and train.” For shoes, the 6-foot-tall bride ended up going with blush Valentino stud flats. And her jewelry included custom designed Nicola Bathie pearl earrings, a David Yurman topaz ring Tommy gave her for her 18th birthday, and a Roberto Coin diamond cross necklace that all of the women in her family have.
As for the groom, he chose a black Michael Kors tux with white suspenders and black socks that were covered in watermelons. “He started planting watermelons the week after our honeymoon, so I had to get him those socks when I saw them!” she says. Meanwhile, Anna’s bridesmaids wore varied dresses by Show Me Your MuMu in steel blue.
The day of the ceremony, friends and family of the couple gathered by the property’s lake, where two huge floral arrangements and a cross were set up as a makeshift altar and a violinist and pianist played music throughout. “Walking down the aisle was one of the best feelings I have ever felt,” Anna says. “I don’t know any other way to describe the experience other than a body high.”
After the ceremony wrapped, the newlyweds and their guests headed towards the tented reception, where white flowers and plenty of greenery awaited. “Some of the arrangements were placed in wooden boxes, and the others were surrounding these gorgeous lanterns that we borrowed,” she explains. “I gave our florist a stack of photos of all of my ideas and inspirations and she seriously nailed it.” No detail was small enough for Anna—even the cake table linen, which she personally picked out. “I’m going to have some pillows made from the table cloth so that I’ll have that piece from our wedding forever!”
Dinner and dancing—a lot of dancing—followed. For their first dance, the couple chose “Into The Mystic” by Van Morrison. “This song was one of Tommy’s only requests when wedding planning, so I had to honor it,” Anna explains. She also admits they didn’t practice at all, and was quite nervous about dancing in front of so many people, so she asked her band, Bobby and The Aristocats, to cut the song short. “We ended up winging it and it probably turned out better than if we would’ve practiced!” The lively music kept guests on their feet all night, and Tommy’s 13-year-old twin brothers even got up on the stage with the band.
Once the reception ended, the couple was escorted out to confetti cannons. “These things are no joke, we could feel the gust of air that came once our guests shot them out,” she says. And were later driven off into newlywed bliss by Tommy’s brothers in an old black Thunderbird, natch, just until the end of the road—they’re only 13 after all!