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Simply Wed: Katie and Nick Martin


Simply Wed: Katie and Nick Martin
Because the bride has an eye for design, her sense of style was seen in her wedding celebration. Katie Hembree Martin finds beauty in simplicity and followed that concept in designing her January wedding.

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“We knew that we wanted it to be traditional and elegant and that we wanted to incorporate things from our parents and grandparents,” Katie said. She and Nick Martin love close family bonds and knew they wanted to hold their wedding where Katie’s parents had married, at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Fort Smith. 

Having dated since high school and through their graduations from separate colleges, the couple knew they would marry but still had not become engaged in 2013 – until Nick thoroughly did his research in choosing Katie’s engagement ring and then waited almost two months more to ask her parents, Scott and Karen, for their blessing. Even though he knew they approved of him, he admitted he was very nervous to ask them. All trepidation went away when he finally did, he recalled.

“After that, I was so excited I couldn’t wait,” Nick said. He instantly made plans to propose to Katie that very weekend and secretly invited her family and friends to celebrate with them afterward.

To keep her in the dark, he invited another couple (not one that might cause Katie to suspect his intentions) for drinks at the 21C Museum Hotel in Bentonville. He made it seem casual. Afterward, he walked Katie into the adjacent grounds of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

“She even asked, ‘Do you have a ring in your pocket?’” said Nick, but she had been kidding him with that question for quite some time. He carefully walked so the jewelry box in his pocket was farthest away from her. 

On a bridge at sunset, he asked her to marry him.

“I had no idea, I was so shocked!” Katie admitted. She said yes.

They sped back for dinner in Fayetteville where Katie was surprised again. “My parents and sister, Sara, and all our close friends were waiting there at dinner,” she said.

“Not bad for 24 hours,” Nick smiled. 

They chose a date less than a year away. Katie, with the help of her mom, selected decor of candlelight and simple greenery inside St. Paul’s stone-walled sanctuary. She wanted only one element to be more ornate. 

“A flower arrangement on the altar was for everyone in our families who had passed away and a large candle was in memorial for Nick’s mom.”
Nick was very close to his mother, Anna, who passed away almost five years ago. “I wanted to do something really special for her,” Katie said. She also gave him a portrait of his mother in a locket he wore pinned to his vest for their vows.

They invited relatives and close friends to stand with them and their little nieces and nephews to carry the weddings rings and strew rose petals.

Many other sentimental touches were woven subtly into the celebration. Around her bouquet, she carried a handkerchief of her maternal grandfather, R.D. Payne. Her grandmother, Pat Payne, hand-embroidered their new monogram and wedding date inside Katie’s wedding dress. Her aunt made a garter embellished with some of Pat’s mother’s pearls. The ring bearer carried a ring pillow used in Pat’s wedding.

Katie wore a diamond brooch ornamenting her hair that had been a gift from Janelle Hembree, her paternal grandmother. Looking through old photos, she found that it had been worn at Janelle’s long-ago wedding to H.L. Hembree III. Floral designer Mary Charlton included flowers from the weddings of Katie’s mother and grandmothers in the bouquet.

During their “first look,” Nick presented Katie with a ring for her right hand as a wedding gift. 

For a “something blue” tradition, Katie’s shoes were blue – blue flats! Her bridesmaids also wore flats because she wanted them to be comfortable, she said. Their feet were saved for dancing at the reception at someplace very new, the MovieLounge’s new events expansion.

“Ours was the first reception there,” Nick said. “It was finished just before the wedding.”

Both of them loved the openness of the spacious, contemporary venue and were glad they had gambled on it  –  sight unseen. The theatrical lighting and the bare winter branches chosen by Katie added to the ambiance.

The centerpieces were heirloom sterling vessels and candelabra crowned with flowers. Katie put a silhouette of a French bulldog on monogrammed napkins to represent their two snub-nosed pets at home. She also designed their wedding programs and place cards.

The couple didn’t want a typical wedding banquet. After asking about their favorite foods, Chef Blythe Beck created a taco bar, a seafood station, a slider station and a carving station.

Guests danced for hours to the music of Larry Bedell and enjoyed posing for photo booth-style pictures set up by the wedding photographers. 

The couple drove away in the Hembree family’s vintage Rolls Royce, chauffered by their uncle David Payne. She has alway asked her dad to keep it at least until she got married, Katie said. 

Once at their nearby hotel, they realized they were not only tired but famished. They had toasted with champagne and shared their wedding cake during the reception. Nick doesn’t recall that they sat down enough to eat more than a few bites.

“We didn’t eat anything at the reception!” Katie said regretfully. “But that night, my dad and his friend Dr. Jay Stringfellow brought us tons of leftovers. We were on cloud nine!”

They missed one step of tradition – somehow they didn’t save a piece of their wedding cake – but her mother saved a slice of Nick’s unusual groom’s cake, which was made in the shape of his golf bag. Their memories of the wedding will be just as sweet when they enjoy it on their anniversary.

The sunshine of the Virgin Islands where they honeymooned was a warm contrast to the Arkansas winter. The couple visited St. Martin, Anguilla and St. Bart’s. 

Katie and Nick have made their home in Fayetteville, where she is working in design and he is with Global Dental Technologies.

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