Sara Berry and her husband Monte have hearts brimming over with love and thankfulness for their family which continues to grow. They have seven children ranging from ages 23 down to five years old—the first five they brought into the world together and the youngest two they adopted. Then in 2016, both of the oldest daughters became engaged at the same time.
“Our two oldest children, Katie and Ellie, had both dated these boys for many years and both were graduating from college. Katie got engaged Valentine’s Day and we had a wedding June 11th. So not a long planning time. And then Ellie and Drew got engaged in July and we had a wedding in December,” said Berry. Katie graduated in May 2016 with a double major in global comparative studies and psychology. Ellie graduated in December 2016 with a degree in organic chemistry and plans to enroll in med school. Both girls lived in Birmingham and were working extremely hard to graduate during the wedding planning process.
Berry not only has seven children, she is also an author who runs two publishing companies that she started, alongside being involved in her church and community. Planning two weddings would normally add a lot of stress to an already busy working mother, but Berry seemed to thrive under pressure.
“It was challenging, Berry said. “In fact, I feel like I have a new ministry to encourage moms who are planning weddings, because until you get in the middle of it, you don’t realize what a big deal it is and how difficult it can be. But I am a plate spinner by nature.”
Ellie Berry and Drew Carter were high school sweethearts while Katie Berry and Owen Thompson met their first day of college. The two girls were born 20 months apart and were only separated by one grade during school. “They are very close friends, but they are also very different personalities. We did not want a cookie cutter wedding for either of them. We wanted to really make them distinct.”
While both weddings were catered by Louis Crum through the family business Refreshments Incorporated, and both took place in Corinth where Berry grew up, each wedding was held at a separate venue with its own theme.
“We have a farm right outside of Corinth. That was where Katie and Owen wanted to get married. It’s called Waukomis Lake. There’s a lake and horses and a farm called Avon Acres. That was named for my great-grandfather. The farm has been in our family for several generations,” Berry said.
*Katie’s theme was considered elegant farm wedding and was held outdoors in front of a log cabin. The Berry’s rented church pews and a tent was placed nearby for the reception. Maud Les Lancaster with Soiree Events helped plan the wedding and provided the flower arrangements.
With Katie’s wedding being outdoors, the one thing no one had any control over was the weather. Berry prepared by talking over worst case scenarios and having a back-up plan.
“In all honesty, I just prayed that the weather would be good. It was a gorgeous day and then as the time got close for the wedding there were horrible storms all around us, but it did not rain during the ceremony,” said Berry. “Luckily by the time the rain did come, everyone was under the tent for the reception and it only lasted a moment.”
*Ellie’s wedding took place at First Methodist Church in Corinth with the reception at Franklin Courtyard. Tracy Proctor helped to plan the wedding and provided the flower arrangements.
“The wedding was the week before Christmas. She did not want it to look like it was a Christmas party. And of course that time of year lent itself to lights and candles and elegance, and because of the time of year, it got dark early. It was a little bit more of a dressy affair.” Berry said.
Each daughter embraced family traditions by integrating special and meaningful items into their weddings. “My mother, for all of her children and grandchildren, has gotten the dates and couples engraved on the cake knife that she and my dad used at their wedding. In that same token, there is a beautiful handkerchief that has all the initials and dates of all the family weddings, and that has been incorporated into the bouquet for the bride every time.” Said Berry
Berry also began a new tradition she hopes will be carried on in the years to come.
“When my husband and I got married 25 years ago my mother had gotten made a very long aisle runner that was monogramed with a W,” she said. “But we cut that part off, because we weren’t W’s anymore. I had it embroidered with our names and the date we got married, and then skipped a space and had Katie’s and Owen’s names and wedding date embroidered, and then for Ellie’s and Drew’s wedding we moved further up and had their names and wedding date embroidered. So that’s now our family tradition and will be something for the generations, I think.”
The main focus of both weddings was to make God the center of their lives together.
“With both weddings, we really wanted to honor the Lord,” Berry said. “We wanted to honor God, because scripturally there’s so many analogies with a wedding and Christ being the bridegroom and the church being the bride and there’s so much symbolism with that. We’re a family of believers and both couples are as well, and it was important to them that it was God honoring.”
By Amanda Jewel Warren