November 23, 2010
Leighton Denman and Thomas DeBray
June 5, 2010
Ceremony: Oxford-University United Methodist Church, Oxford, MS
Reception: The Powerhouse Community Arts & Cultural Center. Oxford, MS
Photos by Arden Ward, Arden Photography
According to Thomas, the art history class he reluctantly took to fulfill a requirement for his major would be the most important class he’d take while at Ole Miss… and not because he developed a love for art. It was love; however, because this is where he first spotted the woman he would marry. The moment Leighton Denman walked into that art history class, Thomas predicted he was going to marry her. And as fate would have it, days later, when the professor alphabetically assigned seats, Leighton Denman was seated directly behind Thomas DeBray. A few years and many miles later, Thomas’ prediction became a reality as the couple tied the knot in Oxford, Mississippi, not far from where they first met.
The Back Story
Thomas says he knew the moment he saw Leighton that she was the girl for him. Her impression on him was so significant; he remembers what she was wearing, down to her red tennis shoes. Thomas tried to talk to Leighton before each class but the most he could manage was some uninspired conversation about homework. He finally had a chance to talk to Leighton about something other than homework when she came to a party given by his fraternity. But when Thomas asked Leighton if he could get a drink for her, he slipped and tumbled down a hill, certainly ending all chances with the girl of his dreams. Apparently, Thomas’ slip was endearing because a week later, the couple went on their first date and have been together ever since. They continued to date long distance after Leighton graduated and moved to Birmingham and through the years that Thomas was in law school at The University of Alabama. After Thomas graduated from law school, he took a position with a law firm in Birmingham and the couple was finally living in the same city. In the spring of 2009, Thomas was ready to make his prediction a reality. He managed to sneak away from Leighton for a few days to ask for her hand in marriage. So with the ring in his pocket, Thomas planned to pop the question to the love of his life at the place he loved most, Mulberry Hill Farm.
One of Thomas’ great loves is Mulberry Hill Farm, the family’s farm, located in Cullman, Alabama. Another is his passion for Tennessee Walking Horses, which his family has raised on the farm since the 1950’s. Over the years of dating, Leighton and Thomas spent many weekends at the farm with Thomas’ uncle Grover, riding and working with their horses. Leighton told them both she wanted her own horse to ride at the farm and they told her they would find the perfect horse for her one day. So on the day Thomas asked her to go to the farm during the week because his uncle had a surprise for her, Leighton was not thinking proposal. She assumed they had finally found the perfect horse for her. When they arrived, Thomas sent her up to the house while he went out to the barn. A short while later, as the sun was starting to set, Thomas appeared, leading a gorgeous blonde Palomino Tennessee Walking Horse and asked Leighton what she thought. She was about to respond when Thomas got down on one knee and asked her to be his wife. As Leighton took a closer look, a sparkling antique diamond engagement ring was tied into the horse’s mane. And as the Alabama sun set in the background, Leighton said yes. Thomas DeBray was going to marry the girl from his art history class!
The Wedding & Reception
Since Leighton is from Arkansas and Thomas is from Montgomery, they wanted a central location for their wedding. They decided on Oxford, Mississippi, the home of Ole Miss, and the place where they first met. The “Meetin’ in the Middle” theme for the wedding was used design theme for their wedding favors and a DD monogram was also used because their last names brought them together.
Leighton called on the experts at The White Room in Cahaba Heights for her gown, which was a gift from her aunt. Owners Carolyn and Cathy Kelley helped create a unique wedding gown from two beautiful Ulla Maija gowns of Duchess silk satin. There were many sentimental details incorporated into the wedding. Leighton’s bridal bouquet, a nosegay of white Eskimo roses and blue hydrangea, included one solitary yellow rose in memory of her mother’s sister. The handkerchief Leighton carried was made from her christening bonnet, another gift from her aunt.
Flowers for the ceremony were dedicated in memory of Thomas’ brother and best friend, Harry Blaylock DeBray and included all of Leighton’s favorites: white peonies, lisianthus, snapdragons, delphinium, white Eskimo roses, Oriental lilies, white and blue hydrangea. Asparagus fern, ivy and Jackson vine lined steps leading to the chancel area. Blue hydrangea with a single rose marked the pews.
Leighton’s bridesmaids wore vibrant ice blue silk shantung gowns, perfect for a summer wedding and most of the wedding was designed around that color. They each carried a monogrammed handkerchief, a gift from the bride. Since Thomas is a traditional Southerner, the groomsmen all wore classic black tuxedos.
Following the ceremony, the wedding party boarded the famous Oxford “Double Decker” bus for a trip around Courthouse Square where by standers shouted congratulations and “Hotty Toddy” to the wedding party!
Guests were welcomed with champagne as they entered The Powerhouse Arts and Cultural Center for the reception where wedding gowns worn by the bride and groom’s mothers were displayed on antique iron mannequins. Other family heirlooms were incorporated into the décor including a monogrammed silver tea service circa 1890 once belonging to Leighton’s namesake, her paternal great grandmother, Grace Leighton Denman.
For the reception, the couple wanted a traditional southern style supper. New Orleans Jambalaya, Mississippi Caviar, Alabama Cheese Straws, and hot crawfish dip were among the couple’s favorites included in the menu. Guests danced the night away to the fantastic music of the Memphis Soul Review and Colonel Reb himself even made an appearance.
After their magnificent reception, the couple whisked away to Zoetry Resort, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for a fantasy honeymoon. They now reside in Birmingham and are getting ready for their first holidays as a married couple.
Congratulations, Leighton and Thomas. Our very best wishes to you for a long and happy life together!