On Saturday, April 23, my photographer husband Kurt and I were ever-so-fortunate to capture love at its most rapturous when our friend Tom Parkhill married the love of his life, Laura Regis.
Yes, gentle blog readers, you heard me right: My adorable friend Tom, featured in two previous blogposts (urls shown below), has most sincerely and beautifully tied the knot with his lovely lady Laura:
To those of you who have not read my earlier posts, I have known Tom since I was a small girl. Our parents were friends, and my first memory of Tom is how he would pester us when my sister Lisa and I played Barbies with his sister, Beth. During elementary and high school, Tom and I were in the same grade and graduated together from South High in Knoxville. Teachers and students alike knew Tom was a gifted dramatic and comic actor as he starred in most of the school plays.
But after high school, Tom was that rare actor that made a living following his bliss. Not only did he have a successful acting career, but he came back to his hometown and founded the Tennessee Stage Company.
Since 1989, Tom and his theatre company have provided local actors and audiences an avenue to enjoy plays offered in unconventional settings such as Shakespeare in the Park and Shakespeare on the Square which is mounted in Knoxville’s downtown Market Square each summer. You’ve got to love a professional theatre group whose motto is: “Elvis is our co-pilot.”
Witty, self-deprecating, eccentric, and intensely private, Tom has seemingly floated through life inspiring his friends and fellow theatre folk alike to suffer from an intense lack of the proper adjectives to describe him.
It seemed like typecasting when a year or so ago he played Elwood P. Dowd, the role made famous by Jimmy Stewart in the 1950 movie “Harvey”. Throughout his life, Tom has always been very much and ever-s0-magically Tom, but he had never found the right “Jane” to his “Tarzan”.
As in the great bard’s romantic comedies, the plot thickened and love would have its way. During one of Tom’s Shakespeare on the Square events, he met Laura, a petite brunette full of energy and that certain unmistakable pizzazz that makes life sing. Smitten, Tom wrote her a letter asking her to go out with him. Having been disappointed a few times by love, Laura was gunshy, and her daughter Victoria advised her never to date “because, Mom, you are just too complicated”.
However, being a modern woman and intrigued by his kind letter, Laura decided to Google her would-be suitor to get more information. Online she found my blogpost featuring a photo of Tom with his friend and fellow, from-Knoxville-thespian, the award-winning stage and screen actress Dale Dickey. In the post, I mentioned Tom in affectionate and glowing terms–and in the photo Tom looked so endearingly sweet, she decided to go out with him.
The rest, as they say, is history! Their chemistry was palpable; their love was undeniable; so on Market Square in Knoxville, where they first met, they were married by Laura’s pastor last Saturday, April 23.
As it happened on the square that day, Tom and Laura were surrounded by a small group of friends and family–as well as a few of the thousands of people who were expected in downtown Knoxville for a celebration of all things Italian at our city’s 15th annual Rossini Festival.
Laura was dressed in a lavender-colored, sleeveless v-neck dress with lace overlay. She carried a single purple iris grown by Tom’s father, Tom Parkhill Jr. (the groom is actually Tom Parkhill the third) the internationally recognized and award-winning iris grower and hybridizer who was featured in an article about his amazing iris-related accomplishments in the Knoxville paper three years ago.
Tom’s father was led to his abiding interest in what he calls “the finest flower on earth” by his late wife Grace’s love for irises. It was perfectly fitting that Tom’s mother’s favorite flower–grown by his father–should be the flower carried by his bride.
As belly dancers gyrated on the stage of Market Square and their music pulsed from the loudspeakers near the wedding party, curious onlookers decided they had happened upon the ultimate Rossini anecdote: a wedding in progress. And so it was. But the joyous wedding continued with its serendipitous perfection.
Laura’s jubiliantly smiling daughter, Victoria, spoke of her disregarded advice to her mother about not dating, then read apt lines from Jane Austen’s romance novels followed by Laura’s son, James’s reading of a sonnet from Shakespeare. The pastor read appropriate passages from the Bible followed by the vows and rings. He said richer, poorer; sickness, health, forsaking all others–then he proclaimed them: Mr. and Mrs. Tom Parkhill! Our own Laura and Tom!
Two people were never more in love than Laura and Tom. I know, many have loved–maybe as much as–but never more than this deliriously happy couple! When you wait for your life’s partner a good chunk of your adult life, the taste, smell, and glorious abandon of love is all the sweeter. And so it is for Tom and his Laura.
In the middle of the Rossini Festival’s carnival atmosphere, the small wedding party walked together across the square to the Tupelo Honey Cafe for brunch followed by a delicious German chocolate cake made by one of Laura’s dear friends.
After Tom and Laura cut the cake, Laura shared the story of the wedding ring she wore on her finger. When Tom was a young man, his beloved mother Grace set aside a beautifully appointed, family heirloom ring for Tom to present to the woman he would like to marry. Grace passed away last year, just a few months after Tom and Laura began dating.
Tom’s love for Laura led to only one conclusion: he wanted to marry Laura and spend his life with her. He remembered the engagement ring his mother had so tenderly put away for this special moment. Tom’s father set upon the task of locating the ring. To their great joy, he found where Grace had put it for safekeeping years ago.
We will just need to get the ring sized to fit you, Tom said, but Laura tried it on and, to their amazement, the ring was a perfect fit–just as the couple who were so obviously made for each other: Laura and Tom Parkhill.
//Anna – 4/28/2016