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Some girls spend their childhood planning every detail of their fairytale wedding.

Holly Ford wasn’t one of those girls, which made turning over the reigns of her whirlwind 10-week wedding preparation to trained professionals an easy decision.

Holly, a Cedar Falls native, and Hunter Simmons of Bossier, La., were the grand-prize winners in the “Tie the Knot” dream wedding competition offered earlier this year by a Shreveport, La., television station. The couple, who met at an Arkansas-Louisiana State University football game in 2010, won a dream wedding valued at up to $50,000, but relinquished control of nearly all the details.

Though friends, family and strangers were able to choose everything from the wedding dress to the flowers, Holly said their April 28 nuptials at the Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport were nearly perfect.

“The day of, it was just the way I would have wanted it to be,” Holly said. “It didn’t feel like a big production. The cameras backed off from the personal side with family and friends. I don’t know how it was supposed to feel, but it felt fine to me.”

The couple sent out their own invitations — the simple “Panther purple” ribbon and peacock feather set the theme for the wedding — and chose their own DJ. The rest, though, was in the hands of the voting public. Holly said she was OK with that, though she admitted to “encouraging” friends and family which dress (Maggie Sottero) was her favorite.

“I communicated with a lot of people about that because I felt like that was one of the most important ‘things’ to me. I put it on Facebook and texted and called a lot of people to vote for that dress,” she said. “The rest of the stuff, I didn’t push as much. I wanted to let everyone else have their opinion since it was their votes that got us there.”

The hotel had transformed a meeting room into a intimate wedding hall, complete with the white candles, bright purple ties around the chairs and white string lights to create a soft, romantic glow. The pastor, chosen by the couple, led them through the ceremony, which included tying their hands to symbolize their commitment and a unity cross instead of a candle or sand.

“It’s two pieces put together on a stand; an outer bold piece that Hunter put up symbolizing the man, strong and sturdy, and I put in the inner piece that was elegant and symbolized the woman, delicate and beautiful,” Holly said. “It was held together by three nails for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

At the reception the 100 guests were treated to a sit-down dinner including filet mignon, crab-stuffed shrimp, asparagus and roasted potatoes. A key lime pie was added for dessert.

“As if with nine layers of cake you need another dessert,” Holly said.

In addition to the five-tier bridal cake, Hunter was treated to a four-tier golf-inspired groom’s cake.


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