Wedding Belle: Damaris' Southern Wedding

Food Network Star winner Damaris Phillips shares the details of her big day — a DIY celebration in the heart of Kentucky. 


Photo by: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson, Mark Peterson

The challenge sounds like the final test on a cooking-show competition: Throw a wedding reception for 235 people in the middle of a city street with a different place setting for each guest, an all-vegetarian menu and a 10-cake dessert buffet baked exclusively by the bride and groom. Oh, and the forecast calls for thunderstorms. This is not, however, a cooking-show challenge; it's Damaris Phillips' real-life wedding day — and she's pulling it all off without a hitch.

Damaris, who won Food Network Star in 2013 and now hosts Southern at Heart, says she had never really given much thought to what her wedding would be like — until the minute she got engaged. As soon as education consultant Darrick Wood proposed, "I was like, 'What are you thinking for the wedding?'" she recalls. Darrick suggested they allow themselves the night to simply enjoy being engaged. After that, though, they each wrote a top-three wedding wish list. Damaris wanted an outdoor ceremony, a parade-like procession and tables with mismatched vintage china. Darrick wanted family-style dining, a single table for everyone and, odd as it sounds (the idea came to him in a dream, he admits), he wanted each guest to bring a fork for the couple to keep and use during a lifetime of meals.

Those six wishes led to a party in June that, despite the big size, felt charmingly homespun and personal. The couple involved the guests every step of the way: Their families voted on favorite cake flavors a few months before, Damaris' mom and closest friends marched her down the aisle, carrying parasols and waving streamers (the parade of her wish list), and the friend who originally introduced Damaris and Darrick officiated the ceremony.

"I was so excited to marry Darrick, I would have gone to the courthouse," Damaris says. "But this was more fun — and a lot prettier."

Wedding Belle: Damaris' Southern Wedding

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Damaris' Homespun Wedding

"I was so excited to marry Darrick, I would have gone to the courthouse," Damaris says. "But this was more fun — and a lot prettier."

Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson

Brooch Bouquet

Damaris found the idea for a bouquet made of vintage floral brooches on Pinterest. As soon as she finished making hers, she swore off the site. "I wanted to stop focusing on aesthetic projects and think about the things that would make people have a good time."

Photo By: Mark Peterson

Paper Cranes

When Darrick proposed to Damaris, he presented her with 1,000 origami cranes made from receipts, ticket stubs and notes he'd saved during their three-year courtship. For the ceremony, they strung them together to create a backdrop that hung from the gazebo where they exchanged vows.

Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson

Vintage Handkerchiefs

Damaris and Darrick filled a fabric-lined case with handkerchiefs "for happy tears" that the guests could take home after the celebration.

Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson

Table for 235

A U-shaped table accommodated all the guests, and the couple sat at the base, "where we could look out on everyone," Damaris says. They searched tag sales, thrift stores and flea markets for the place settings.

Photo By: Mark Peterson

Fan with a Plan

The wedding program served double duty as a fan — the day turned out to be a hot one. 

Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson

Personal Plates

Each place card included a handwritten note from the bride and groom.

Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson

Meatless Dining

Damaris has never met a piece of pork she didn't love — but Darrick is a strict vegetarian, so they went meatless for the meal, serving veggie-and-hummus sandwiches on Parmesan focaccia, plus a selection of colorful salads.

Photo By: Mark Peterson

Outdoor Lounge

Damaris set up living room furniture, quilts and picnic blankets around the park for cocktail hour. 

Photo By: Mark Peterson

Picnic Baskets

During the cocktail hour, guests helped themselves to bags of candied pecans and crackers with pimento cheese and Benedictine spread. At the bar: margaritas and bourbon slushies on tap.

Photo By: Mark Peterson

Homemade Cakes

At the wedding shower in April, Damaris and Darrick's families helped decide the flavors for the wedding cakes. Then the couple baked them in the weeks leading up to the big day. "It was just us at home at night, thinking up and tweaking different recipes," she says. 


Continue for close-ups of each of the cakes. 

Photo By: Mark Peterson

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry

Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson

Caramel Corn

Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson


Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson

Blackberry Cobbler

Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson

Chocolate-Peanut Butter

Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson


Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson

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