Garden wedding a family affair

by Janna Virden

It was a perfect day for a spring garden wedding as Trey and Jessica Mallett tied the knot in the backyard of her parent’s historic home in Morrilton.

The yard was alive with color as flowers bloomed to greet guests at a pre-ceremony cocktail hour. It was a time for guests to mingle and catch up with old friends and meet new family members. The men of the wedding party relaxed with the guests as the bride and the bridesmaids relaxed inside.

The ceremony began at 5:30. The bride’s father, Judge Bart Virden, walked her down the aisle to the song “I Want
to Grow Old with You” with vocals performed by groomsman, Dustin Dean, and accompanied on the guitar by the bride’s brother, Bryant Virden.

The bride’s father then went on to perform the marriage ceremony. It was his first wedding to perform. “I walked her down the aisle and tried not to tear up,” he said. He almost made it through the whole service until the end when tears glistened in his eyes as he pronounced the new couple man and wife.

The bride wore a strapless lace gown in antique white, and the groom wore a light khaki colored suit with a paisley green and blue tie embroidered on the underside with a message from the bride: “I love you, I do.” The groomsmen and ring bearer wore khaki, and the brides- maids were dressed in royal blue. The flower girls wore blue, green and cream tutu dresses made by the bride and me, her mother.

Driven by her father, the bride and groom rode in her father’s ’64 Buick Wildcat to the reception site at The Rock in Blackwell, which was decorated in a vintage theme with garden flowers throughout. A buffet of spaghetti and sausage and salad was made and served by members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Homemade bread topped off the meal. The bride’s father made 126 bottles of wine for the dinner, and I made a four-tiered wedding cake decorated with crystallized organic spring flowers. The groom’s cake was shaped like a Razorback football field.

Instead of a guestbook, the bride and groom wanted pictures of their guests and had a photo booth set up. Guests enjoyed dressing in funny costumes. Each received a copy, with another placed in a memory book in which guests were encouraged to write a message to the couple.

“This was the best day of my life,” the groom said. Jessica agreed, “It was for me, too, babe.” Then they kissed.


It was family and friends coming together to make the day special for Trey and Jessica. From the moment they sent out their save-the-date cards, I had family and friends asking what they could do. Everyone wanted to help, and without that help, this wedding would not have come together and been the day my daughter had dreamed of.

Trey’s aunt, Stephanie Lipsmeyer, catered the rehears- al dinner, and Jessica’s aunt, Lynlee Maus, recruited her family to help serve at the cocktail party and the main meal. Both ladies showed how much they loved their nephew and niece by helping with anything I asked.

A good friend of ours, Stewart Nelson, did the wed- ding photography as a gift to the couple. Another friend, Paula Carter, made the ring bearer pillow as her gift.

My friend, Lawana Lyon, monogrammed everything in sight for me.

When I asked for some advice from Theresa Paladino on how to set up a cocktail party, she said, “Let me do it.”

Ninety-four-year old Bea Thompson made 25 loaves of the best homemade bread to go with the Sacred Heart spaghetti. My husband’s band, Flashback, played at the dance.

Even during the ceremony, family and friends manned the equipment and provided music. Of course Jessica’s bridesmaids stayed by her side throughout all of the planning, and Trey got his support from his longtime friends, his groomsmen.

Grandfather Jerry Virden, Bryant Virden, Eli Virden and father Bart Virden.

I was really humbled by this whole experience— from the wonderful showers given by friends, the gifts that were given to help Trey and Jessica set up their new life together and the talent and time given by so many to make the wedding day one the couple will cherish. But most of all, I was overjoyed by the love that came with each offer of help.

A wedding is a time when two people come together before God, family and friends to declare their love for each other. It can be a simple affair or a grand wedding, but in the end all that really matters is the love felt between the two. I am just so thankful that we were blessed to be with our daughter on her wedding day, and be able to see her marry her true love. To share this experience with so many family and friends just added to the day’s happiness.

The couple was surrounded by a spirit of shared love, which is a great way to start a life. To everyone who came and everyone who helped, I humbly say, “Thank you.”