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2 couples get a free chance to say I do
Walters Barn offers weddings worth $11K at Soiree event
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Dennis Nunnelley, piano player for Ultraband, gets shrimp tacos and conch fritters from a food truck Saturday during the Summer Barn Soiree at The Walters Barn in Lula. Ultraband performed during the event. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Soirees Southern Events Planning gave away a wedding to two lucky but deserving couples Saturday night at the Summer Barn Soiree at The Walters Barn in Lula.

Proceeds from the event went toward the Wounded Warrior Project.

The first couple, Taylor Seabolt and Jorge Ramirez, were the “type of people who will give you their last dollar,” said Mckenzie Grewett, who works for the Walters Barn, site of the event.

Ramirez spent more than five years in the Marine Corps and served two tours in Afghanistan. On his first tour, his Humvee hit a roadside explosive device. On his second tour, he was knocked out by a grenade blast, Grewett said.

He was awarded a Purple Heart for his services.

Since returning home to the states, Ramirez was in a car accident and had to have plates and screws inserted into his back.

The couple have a 16-week-old daughter and Ramirez has a son from a previous marriage.

Two years ago, Seabolt attended a wedding at the Walters Barn and told her grandfather that she wanted to have her future wedding there. Her grandfather promised to pay for it, but died before he was able to keep that promise.

The wedding they were given is valued at $11,000.

“We just want (the couples) to have a lovely day,” said Sherri Christensen, owner of Soirees Southern Events Planning.

Originally, only one wedding was intended to be given away.

“We have been crying all week trying to decide,” Christensen said. “We just felt like we came down to two.”

The second couple, Julie Tomlin and Johnny Irvin, live in Clarkesville.

Michael Boyle, assistant principal of Banks County High School and friends of the couple for 25 years, spoke about the couple’s past together. Before he died, the couple's son, Clayton Martin, was a close friend of Boyle's.

“(Martin) wanted them to get married,” Boyle said. “He is still their guardian angel.”

Tomlin and Irvin help run the Clayton Martin Foundation, which gives scholarships to local athletics and have been too busy running the foundation to get married.

Margaret Haefele and Austin Akin came to show their support.

“We heard it was a great cause,” Akin said.

The event was also host to the first annual Northeast Georgia Cupcake War. Sweetly Baked, Cake Envy and Truelove Creations brought cupcakes for the guests to try.

After the votes were counted, Natalie Bryn of Cake Envy created the winning cakes, one of which was a bacon and maple syrup pancake-flavored treat.

Ultraband and Mark Stokes also performed.

“We’re glad to be here,” drummer Josh Clark said.

Regional events