Vicksburg Living Wedding Edition: Waltzing into forever

Published 9:31 am Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Fireworks literally went off when Sebastian Rigdon proposed to Vicksburg native Tess Frazier, and it was the enchantment of that Fourth of July evening that set the stage for the couple’s fairly-tale wedding on July 22, 2023.

Tess and Sebastian met in 2017 through a dating app. She of course told her mom it had been at church. Divine intervention works in mysterious ways.

For the next five years, the couple’s relationship blossomed, eventually leading Sebastian to ask for Tess’s hand in marriage. Consent was given; however, the timing had not yet been determined.

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“I had not decided the when and where yet,” Sebastian said. “I was still super nervous and was waiting for the right opportunity.”

That opportunity presented itself months later when Sebastian and Tess were in Florida vacationing with his family during the Fourth of July holiday.

“We had all just finished dinner and the fireworks weren’t going to start for about another hour,” Tess said. “So, Sebastian suggested we go for a walk. There was a dock nearby, and one of my favorite things that I used to do with my dad was walk around the docks and read the funny names of the boats.”

Many of the boats, however, were locked behind a gate, Tess said, but instead of going back, she and Sebastian continued down a “little wooded path.”

“There wasn’t anyone around because everyone was getting ready to see the fireworks show, but in the distance over the water, you could hear other places whose fireworks had already started,” she said. “So, we sat down to see if we could see them, and as I was going to sit, Sebastian knelt down and pulled out a ring. I was shocked and speechless.”


Tess cherishes tradition, but she also embraces creative nuances, therefore an avant-garde style was embodied throughout the planning of the wedding. And to maintain her stress level, especially when she was challenged about some of her non-traditional ideas, she said she decided to liken her wedding to a “production.”

“In high school, I spent 10-plus hours a week dancing – typically all leading up to a performance, and then when I was in college, I was a Pom squad dancer at Mississippi State University, so I was very used to performing. So, I feel maybe psychologically, think – ing of my wedding more so as a production, than a wedding, it made planning less nerve racking,” laughed Tess.

The “production” began with finding the perfect dress to help set the stage and Tess chose a soft A-line gown of ivory lace by Essense of Australia from Elle James Bridal in Jackson. “It also had sparkly pink tulle underneath that glittered in the light. It was gorgeous, and I felt like a princess,” she said. “And it was the one that made my mom tear up.” The gown was finished with a cathedral length veil of beaded lace and ivory tulle.

Deciding on invitations followed and as an interior designer Tess had learned a lot about graphic design and insisted on designing her own as well as the program. “Margie (Steckler) assisted in printing the invitations and my mom tied green satin ribbons around each and every one of them. And my paternal grandmother gifted me with printing the programs, bringHelen’s Florist brought to life Tess’s vision for the church – Crawford Street United Methodist Church and the reception venue – the B’nai B’rith Literary my creation to life.”

However, there had been one little hiccup in the floral design the day before the wedding. Tess said her mother had been notified about leaks in the sanctuary and buckets would be needed to keep the water from ruining the carpet and pew cushions.

In a panic, the florist was called, and instead of buckets being part of the décor, floral designer Mary Kaylin Gray, suggested using crepe myrtle trees and potted hydrangeas to catch the dripping water. Fortunately, this had averted the crisis, and had actually enhanced the romantic feel for the ceremony.


After touring the Southern Cultural Heritage Center’s bridal suite months before the wedding, Tess knew it was where she wanted her bridal party to get dressed and where she wanted to have the “first look.”

“The architecture there is gorgeous. It had sky high wooden arched doors, floor to ceiling windows and intricate details just everywhere. As an interior designer, the room was just to die for,” she said.

For their first look, Tess was shielded behind the large doors that connected the parlor room to the chapel, where Sebastian was waiting.

“And when the doors opened, there he was. It was so sweet to have that little moment together,” Tess said, adding, “We did the first look early so that we could get all the tears out of the way, but I’ll be honest, that didn’t stop me from crying at the altar.”


One of the most “unique” aspects of the wedding ceremony Tess said, was the musical selection.

“I fought tooth and nail with my mom about this,” Tess said. “I did not want an organ and I did not want the traditional wedding music because other than the wedding march, I didn’t know any of the songs. I wanted the music to be sentimental and have a purpose and meaning. And I just wanted to put my own twist on things,” she said.

Therefore, she chose an instrumental version of “Unchained Melody” – a nod to her parent’s first dance – for the seating of the mothers, grandmothers and sisters of the bride and groom. The bridesmaids, groomsmen and flower children, which included the brides’ nieces and nephews and the groom’s son – entered to Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers,” performed as a piano duet by Jennifer Tillotson and Austin Crabtree.

The bride entered to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, performed by an ensemble that included Tillotson, violinist Sandy Shugars and guitarist David Cox and after the couple were pronounced man and wife, Kina Grannis’ version of “At Last” was sung. The wedding party exited to another well-known Tchaikovsky arrangement, the “Sleeping Beauty Waltz.”

Foy Vance and Ed Sheeran’s version of “Guiding Light,” was also sung by two of the couple’s college friends during the ceremony.

The song goes, ‘When I need to get home, you’re my guiding light,’ and in the program Sebastian and I wrote a little message under the song title to let our friends and family know that they are our guiding lights home and that we will never forget where we came from and who raised us.


It was a special day, but what ultimately made it perfect, Tess said, were the people who had shown up to celebrate with them.

“I ate up every moment of being surrounded by friends and family that love us. I joked to Sebastian that it felt like it was a big together birthday party. We both felt very special and loved.”

For their honeymoon, the couple traveled to Italy. They are at home in Champagne, Illinois, where Tess is an interior designer for BLDD Architects and Sebastian works as a project engineer at Wells and Wells Construction.





About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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