‘Southern Brides’ take over Dunleith for photo shoot

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2000

The noon chimes of St. Mary Basilica filled in for wedding bells at Dunleith Tuesday as models draped in designer gowns and elegant jewels posed for a Southern-style wedding spread to be published in Southern Bride magazine.

Editors of the Memphis, Tenn.-based magazine chose Dunleith over several other locations they scouted throughout the state.

&uot;We’re very familiar with the area and the beauty down here,&uot; magazine co-owner Lynn Walker said. &uot;We were looking for typical Southern flavor for the shoot.&uot;

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Walker said the magazine had considered sites in Vicksburg and at the Windsor Ruins near Port Gibson, but &uot;when we drove up (to Dunleith), we said, ‘this is it.’&uot;

Editor and co-owner Renee Hoover agreed. &uot;This is very posh,&uot; she said of the interior.

John Holyoak, general manager at Dunleith, said the magazine contacted him in April about holding the shoot at the house.

&uot;Obviously, we’re very excited, because of the exposure the magazine has brought,&uot; Holyoak said.

Since ownership of the house changed hands in October 1999, extensive renovation work has been done to prepare the property to be &uot;more accessible to the public,&uot; Holyoak said.

The house has served as a bed and breakfast in the past, but new plans include a full-service restaurant and pub. Chef John Martin Terranova recently signed on as full-time chef.

The house will also provide an on-site wedding coordinator and caterer, making Dunleith an attractive wedding location. &uot;This kind of shoot really shows off the house for the market we’re trying to reach,&uot; Holyoak said.

Southern hospitality was as much a part of the day’s atmosphere as the gladiola in the floral arrangement that filled the main hall with their light fragrance.

Local florist Mary Lessley designed the arrangement and several others especially for the shoot. Lessley is the wedding coordinator for Dunleith.

Beauty consultants from McRae’s department store in Natchez styled the models’ hair and Estee Lauder cosmetics representatives recreated the wedding day glow.

Bridal shops from across the Southeast provided the ladies’ gowns, including Imagi-Nations of Brookhaven and Ultimate Bridal Gallery of Southaven.

The tiered wedding cake and groom’s cake were courtesy of Edna Welch of Vidalia.

&uot;She does as good a job as any where you’ll find in the South,&uot; Holyoak said of Welch’s sugary creation.

Juniker Jewelers, of Jackson, completed the brides’ attire with $350,000 worth of jewels, including a 4-carat emerald cut solitaire diamond ring valued at $70,000. The ring is part of Juniker’s Mississippi Heritage Collection. Each original piece is named after a city within the state. The lucky model wore &uot;The Biloxi.&uot;

Donna Groff Modeling Agency, Inc., of Memphis, provided the five models for the shoot.

&uot;The location is exquisite,&uot; Groff said. &uot;And the staff has been wonderful to work with.&uot;

Walker said the magazine staff was also pleased with the cooperation they received from Dunleith and the local contributors.

&uot;We didn’t have to coordinate anything,&uot; she said. &uot;We couldn’t ask for anything more – we’re overwhelmed,&uot; she said.

Fashion photographer Hal Hansen came in from New York especially for the Southern Bride shoot at Dunleith.

Crews and models with Southern Bride are staying at Dunleith through Wednesday.