Though one might wonder if the preacher-man might have been suffering from a case of butterfingers when it came time to hand out the wedding bands, even falling rings (and a few showery drizzles) couldn’t put a damper on the day that Paula Harrington and Ryan Atkins went from sweethearts to man and wife. It was rather reflective of the couple’s personalities, in fact, a peek into their go-with-the-flow way of thinking and ability to see the humor in things.
Their story began much like many others starting with a high school friendship that remained steadfast throughout college. And while that relationship might easily have remained squarely in the infamous “friend zone,” things hit high gear when they had the chance to reconnect at a Nascar Race in the summer of 2015, sending them spinning off the sidelines of the raceway and headlong into the pages of a storybook. “Once we actually started dating, we fell in love pretty quickly,” Paula says of their fast-track romance, though it could well be argued that the long span of their friendship gave their timeline gas. “I’d always wanted a fairy tale, and Ryan gave that to me. Our whole story is a fairy tale, really, from our friendship to the world turning upside down and showing me that love and happiness was right there. Every once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale,” she says with a smile, recalling the proposal that came a mere four months later at a Halloween party for which she had dressed to have a truly magical night. “I was wearing a Fairy Godmother costume, and my fairy tale wish came true.”
Nine months later on August 6, 2016, Paula traded in her Fairy Godmother gown for one even more magical when she stood before Ryan in a ceremony at Madison Street United Methodist in Clarksville, wearing a ruched satin-bodice gown with lace straps that crossed at the back. After the pair exchanged vows to love and cherish one another, they joined their friends and family at a gloriously fun reception held at Old Glory Distilling Company—where, despite the fact that the stills weren’t yet in production, spirits still ran high. “When we planned the night, our core vision was for it to be really celebratory. We didn’t want it to feel stuffy and cold,” Paula explains. “We really wanted people to have fun.” And have fun they did, though there might have been need for a few hankies on hand: “Our first dance was to a song called ‘Daddy’s Boots’ by Dustin Lynch. The first time that Ryan played it for me, I absolutely cried like a baby. It’s beautiful, and it’s the perfect song to explain the relationship between Ryan and my daddy,” says the self-proclaimed Daddy’s girl. Having dined on delicious fare from PSR Events, the newlyweds brought the event to its sweet finish when they cut into a three-tiered confection of buttercream bliss crowned by a topper scripted with what might well be considered their tagline: “Happily Ever Atkins.”
Ending things on an even higher note, Paula and Ryan made their escape to head to Orlando, where they honeymooned at Disney World, a place considered far and wide as the Happiest Place on Earth. “I’m slightly obsessed, so I was in heaven!” Paula says. Now with their feet firmly back on the ground, the newly married couple resides in Clarksville.