Kimberlin Rogers, events director for Houses and Parties, and banker Thomas Joseph (TJ) Ajello met through mutual friends at the University of Alabama. The pretext was not a set up, in fact, quite the contrary: “He came from a boarding school in New Hampshire and I was from Atlanta. No one thought it would last,” admits Rogers.
But, as the saying goes, opposites attract. On New Year’s Eve, several years later, TJ asked Kimberlin to marry him at the Faena Hotel in Miami. Afterwards, their families gathered for a champagne toast in the garden before heading out to dinner at Casa Tua.
The bride quickly decided on three things. A: That the wedding would take place at his family farm outside of Crossville, Tennessee. Two: that Kimberlin boss Rebecca Gardner, who is a renowned event planner and founder of Houses and Parties, would orchestrate the deal with Lindsey Baer Co. (“Rebecca thinks of everything from the general décor to your dad’s socks and is truly the most creative person I’ve ever met,” Kimberlin says.) Three: That they wouldn’t take themselves or this event too seriously.
On a hot summer weekend in June, a series of wild wedding festivities began. On Friday there was a nuptial luncheon overlooking Lake Turner. Pastel paper lanterns hung overhead and colorful crackers adorned the table. The drink of choice was Bud Light, the cans arranged in wicker baskets under the eyes of a stuffed fox.
That evening was rehearsal time for “Dolly and Kenny” (short for Dolly Parton and Kenny Chesney, mind you). The couple decorated the Rogers family barn with heirloom quilts, while Fox Fodder Farm sourced wildflowers native to beloved Cumberland County in Kimberlin to adorn the tables. Bourbon flowed abundantly. (So generously, in fact, that the mechanical bull parked outside was used more than expected.) As for the bridal attire? It was a white Oscar de la Renta mini dress, paired with a hat and rhinestone cowboy boots.
On Saturday, Kimberlin and TJ tied the knot just before sunset at a horse pasture on the shores of Lake Turner. Guests took horse-drawn carriages for the ceremony, winding through intentionally overgrown hay fields. “Rebecca came up with the idea of letting the hay grow wild all season long to create a dramatic ceremonial walkway that winds its way up the hillside to the edge of the lake. I don’t know if it was more difficult to mow the thick grass or to convince my father to give up his field to our master plan – the grass was over five feet high, ”says Kimberlin. Along the aisles were giant, surreal paper poppy flowers by textile artist Trish Andersen that Kimberlin recalled were “dancing in the wind.”