Holidays are ripe with an innate romanticism and Kelley Marie Greer and John Christopher Nunnelley are a testimony to the magic of the season. Though they met while working at Big Ass Fans, over the holidays of 2015 John asked Kelley to share a special seasonal moment with him: sipping bourbon and watching ice skaters at the Triangle Park Rink downtown. To his delight, she agreed and plans were made to enjoy the sights of the season. The weather unfortunately had other plans and rain forced the pair into the warmth of Charlie Brown’s where they drank White Russians and ate deep fried pepper jack cheese balls, “a tradition we have kept every December 21st since,” says Kelley.
Kelley, who is a sixth generation Lexingtonian, and John, who is originally from Louisville, both attended the University of Kentucky, but they never realized quite how dramatically they’re affinity for the Kentucky Wildcats would impact their relationship. After a long, fun day of watching the CATS out with friends, they took the party back to John’s house where festivities continued late into the night. Unfortunately, those festivities ended swiftly when Kelley accidentally knocked a pull-up bar off of a doorframe and broke her leg after falling to the ground. “Three weeks into our relationship I got to meet my future Mother-in-Law and Step Father-in-Law as they picked Kelley up for surgery,” recalls John. Kelley’s recovery process strengthened the couples’ relationship and brought them closer to each other’s large families from very early on.
Over the next eighteen months, Kelley and John discovered a shared love of travel, family, and entertaining. Memories were created during this period that deepened their affection for each other and evolved into a true love and appreciation. On November 12 of 2017, John proposed to Kelley in a stunning sea of fallen golden ginkgo leaves near Catalpa Street, a staple of fall in Lexington. Kelley shares, “Seeing the leaves that had blanketed the roads was my late Grandmother’s favorite spectacle to enjoy and John had never seen it in person so it was a very special memory.” But John and Kelley were not reveling in the beauty of the setting alone. Kelley remembers, “As soon as we were away from the photographers and families capturing memories in the leaves, John knelt down, pulled out a ring, and asked me to marry him.” Of course she said yes, setting off an unforgettable journey for them both.
Kelley and John set their wedding for June 30th of last year where they were deeply honored and excited to celebrate with friends and family who filled their union with love and support since before their engagement. Planning began in earnest though there was never a doubt of where the wedding ceremony and following reception would be. Kelley explains, “Our chosen venues have a lot of family meaning because so many people have been married at Christ the King and have had their reception at Spindletop.” These beautiful locales were shared venues of her parents, sister and brother-in-law to several of her aunts and uncles and Kelley and John were happy to continue this tradition. Kelley adds, “Spindletop is also where my late Grandmother who we love so much had her 70th birthday and I grew up on the swim team as a Spindletop Barracuda so there is a great depth of memories held within this special space.”
On the day of the wedding, the bride gifted the groom along with key members of the wedding party including flower girls, mother-of-the bride, father-of the bride, stepfather of the bride, mother of the groom and father of the groom with handkerchiefs stitched with a special message and what has become a symbol of the couple’s relationship: a golden gingko leaf from the day of their engagement. The bride and groom also gifted her dad suspenders on Fathers’ Day that had the words “Father of the Bride” stitched into the straps, a wonderful statement he enjoyed showing off at the reception. Kelley wore a breathtaking Stella York gown and a Sara Gabriel veil purchased at Twirl Boutique as she walked down the aisle to meet her groom, who himself looked very dapper in his Jos A. Banks tuxedo.
Adding to the sentiment of their special day, the couple shares an anniversary with the sister of the bride and Matron of Honor and her husband, Christie and Ben Kessinger. Christie and Ben celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary by attending Kelley and John’s wedding, which happened to be at the same church, at the same time, and in the same reception venue as theirs was eleven years prior. What’s more is that the Mother of the Bride and Stepfather of the Bride also celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary at the rehearsal dinner at The Apiary the evening before. All three beautiful brides are glad to share an anniversary weekend and delighted to be June Brides together.
Following the ceremony, wedding guests moved the party to Spindletop. As the dance floor was getting crowded once the sun had set, the groomsman slipped away to trade their tuxedo shoes for the groom’s gift to his groomsman: LED light-up sneakers. Kelley had a matching white pair enhancing the ambiance of the outdoor veranda in the muggy summer heat as the soles of the shoes flashed bright, neon colors. This led to a volunteered necktie becoming an impromptu limbo stick and there was no chance of keeping guests from dancing. Another shining moment involved the brides’ sister and Maid of Honor, Lindsey, a thirty-one year old with Down syndrome. When Lindsey had her first dance with her dad and the Father of the Bride, Jim, there was not a dry eye in the building though the tears were mostly out of joy as onlookers smiled from ear to ear to see Lindsey twirling on the dance floor. Lindsey and Jim danced to a song Jim used to sing to Lindsey when she was a baby, “You Are So Beautiful To Me” by Joe Cocker. Kelley shares, “the words in the song couldn’t be truer and it is dear to our family’s hearts.”
With so many great memories contending to be favorites of the day, the Father of the Bride, Jim had an unforgettable surprise for the couple: a small, wooden treasure box. Jim, who fully embraces the pirate lifestyle, presented this gift to the bride and groom following his speech. Inside of this treasure box were symbolic objects, some of which were real treasure to make the box fully legitimate as well as family heirlooms, including the box itself, formerly belonging to Jim’s grandfather. As Jim spoke, he explained the significance of each piece in the treasure box and the life lessons that he hoped the couple would remember when they looked at them, a touching tribute witnessed by all in attendance making this incredible wedding even more special.
PHOTOGRAPHER Tyler Breedwell Photography
CEREMONY VENUE Cathedral of Christ the King Church
RECEPTION VENUE Spindletop Hall
CATERING Spindletop Hall
WEDDING PLANNER Spindletop’s Caitlin Gilliam
FLOWERS Jeanie Gorrell
RENTALS/DECOR Spindletop Hall
BRIDAL GOWN Stella York | Twirl Boutique
GROOM & GROOMSMEN ATTIRE Jos A. Bank
HAIR Christopher Johns
MAKE UP Megan Kirby and Jes Scott
STATIONARY Paper on Stone
CALLIGRAPHY Bonnie Clark