Andrea and Brandon say "I Do" in a sophisticated Southern affair.

Bride: Andrea Watkins, 26
Groom: Brandon Hairston, 26
Occupations: Watkins, mathematician; Hairston, banking professional
Homebase: Maryland
Wedding Date: August 21, 2010
Wedding Location: Rock of Ages Winery & Vineyards, Hurdle Mills, North Carolina

First Impressions: Many say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Andrea and Brandon Hairston could surely prove all of them wrong. The young newlyweds first met at a Valentine’s Day mixer through the woman who actually photographed their nuptials. However they were both completely underwhelmed with each other. “I remember that I didn’t like the dress she was wearing,” recalls Brandon with a laugh. But when the pair ended up at a mutual friend’s birthday dinner a couple weeks later, sparks began to fly. “We talked to each other the entire night,” says Andrea. The two realized that they attended the same church and Brandon even started attending Andrea’s poetry readings. Eventually Brandon asked Andrea out and the couple’s love affair began.

Whirlwind Romance: Both Andrea and Brandon describe their courtship as blissful. Says Brandon, “After our first conversation I thought, ‘She’s getting her PhD in math from Duke! She’s extremely intelligent…but normal.” The new husband also admits that he knew Andrea was the woman for him early into their relationship. “The amount of support and encouragement she gave me was amazing. She reminded me of my grandmother,” he adds. Andrea shares her hubby’s sentiments but admits that she had reservations in the beginning. “I had been on my own for a long time. It was definitely a challenge for me to let him in,” she says.”But Brandon made me feel different than I ever felt before. There were lots of small, subtle things that let me know we were meant to be together.”

[cincopa 10773237]

All images, excluding honeymoon pic, provided by Angie Luvara.

A Birthday to Remember: When Brandon was ready to ask for his beloved’s hand in marriage, he surprised Andrea at her place with a homecooked dinner, flowers and other sweet signs of affection…the day before her birthday. “Andrea is hard to surprise,” Brandon explains of why he didn’t wait until her actual birthday. His plan worked because Andrea was totally not expecting a proposal that evening. “I had a horrible day. I didn’t even notice the flowers in my bedroom,” shares Andrea. After Brandon popped the question, a thrilled Andrea forgot about all her earlier issues. “I immediately started calling everyone I knew to share the news. I don’t think I even ate the dinner he prepared!” remembers Andrea.

Wine Country Wedding: Although Andrea is originally from Detroit, the couple decided to wed in North Carolina where she had been studying at Duke University. They chose the breathtaking grounds of a rustic winery and vineyard to knot the knot and host their 100 guests for the reception. “Our venue was far out in the country and very serene,” says Andrera. A wonderful time was had by all and Andrea points out, “It was really what I wanted my wedding to be like.” Her hubby Brandon agrees. “My favorite part of the ceremony was seeing her come down the aisle once the doors opened,” he reflects and then adds, “It was a beautiful day.”

Andrea’s Money Saving Tips for Future Brides:

That’s What Friends Are For: “I’m blessed to have friends who were selfless,” says Andrea. She adds,”I had lots of friends chipping in. Whatever drama was going on they didn’t let me know.” Take Andrea’s lead and delegate as many tasks to your amigos as possible. Chances are it will save you time and money in the long run.

Take a Chance on Newbies: Andrea and Brandon used a lot of professionals who were just starting out to bring the big day together. “We took a lot of risks,” she admits. Both the photographer and the DJ were new vendors but the couple was very pleased with the results and saved a chunk of money by having faith in their talents.

Make the Internet Your Friend: Purchasing her wedding gown and many other necessities for the day online versus traditional brick and mortar stores saved this savvy bride some hefty change. Besides the obvious advantages, buying online allows you the convenience of shopping at 3 in the morning wearing your comfy sweats.

Take a look at past Tie the Knot Tuesday features here.

***Did you or someone you know recently tie the knot? Complete this brief form and the wedding just might be featured in an upcoming Black Bridal Bliss feature!***