dsc_0293Photographed by Ms. Mimi Photography

Jim and Julie Lockhart have nothing to fear as they renew their vows in a Halloween-themed ceremony.

Written by Bethany Dzielski

As the trick-or-treaters don their superman costumes, witches’ brooms, and princess dresses, Julie (Rapp) Lockhart stands on the steps of the historic, and some say haunted, Bank of Bramwell. A man with pale skin, dressed in black, waits for her.

Lucky 13

More than 13 years earlier, Julie caught a glimpse of Jim Lockhart across the street. “I thought he was very good looking, so I asked my sister to set us up on a blind date,” Julie says. Just three months later, on October 30, 1999, they were married. “I remember knowing from the first day we met I couldn't imagine a day without Julie in it,” Jim says. Their less than $1,000 wedding at an Athens bed-and-breakfast was the first of many weddings Julie would plan. For years she planned the big day for family and friends, and in 2009 she officially started her own wedding planning business, Locked Hearts Wedding and Events Planning.

October 2012 marked Jim and Julie’s 13th wedding anniversary. “Halloween is our favorite holiday,” she says. “We thought it would be fitting to renew our vows on our 13th wedding anniversary. We are not superstitious and thought it would be our lucky 13 instead.” 

Poison Planning

As a professional planner, Julie was in her element planning her wedding renewal. “I remember when Julie first mentioned the idea of exchanging vows again and seeing how excited she was,” Jim says. “I knew she would make it wonderful. She always incorporates both of our styles.” Julie chose Snow White and the Huntsmen as the theme. The gothic glamour look featured black and red with gold accents. But even though she’s experienced, Julie was still nervous. “I plan weddings every day, but planning our renewal made me realize the feelings that the girls go through,” she says. “I had all the new bride jitters. It was nerve-racking to trust people to bring about the vision I had in my head.”

The historic bank in Bramwell was the perfect location for Jim and Julie’s renewal. “We got married in my hometown of Athens, so we wanted to do the renewal in his hometown, Bramwell,” she says. “Bramwell has a rich history, with all the old millionaires, the huge homes, and the old brick main street.” The beauty and history of the stone building made it an obvious choice, and the personality of the town made the event really special. The mayor closed down the street so Jim and Julie could have their renewal there. Many townspeople, including the mayor and some police officers, attended the ceremony. “People were coming out of their homes and clapping for us,” Julie says. “The love that they had, the support—you only find it in a small town.”

Julie selected special outfits for the occasion. She wore a black Cherlone satin halter gown with a black ruffle bustle and a black feather shawl. “I wanted to recreate Charlize Theron’s look from Snow White and the Huntsmen,” Julie says. Jim wore a black silk vest, tie, and black pants. Julie asked everyone attending to also dress in black.

Vampire Vows

On October 27, 2012, 50 friends, family members, and local residents, poured onto the street near the bank. “Even though I had seen all the décor prior to everyone arriving, seeing the look on my family and friends’ faces was like seeing everything again for the first time,” Julie says. Julie and the couple’s son Nathan arrived at the scene in a 1968 Daimler. “Seeing Julie and Nathan step out of the car, it was the best feeling because those two are my family,” Jim says. “They are my world.”

Several jack-o-lanterns watched from the steps as Nathan pulled on his black fedora hat and readied his arm to walk his mom down the aisle. Julie grabbed her son’s arm and her bouquet, 24 blood red roses with a once bitten apple encaged with red and black armature with a skeleton cameo. She took a deep breath and smiled before walking down the aisle. “I was just as nervous as when I walked down the aisle the first time,” she says.

Jim’s best friend helped lead the ceremony. Julie wrote their renewal vows. Afterward, Jim’s best friend proclaimed, “You may kiss your wife again,” and the crowd erupted in laughter. Jim and Julie sealed their renewed commitment with a kiss and invited their guests to join them inside the bank for the reception.

Ghoulish Goodies

Eerily elegant decorations also greeted guests inside. “My favorite detail was the nearly three-foot-tall centerpiece on the main table,” Julie says. The centerpiece was a large grouping of blood red roses and apples surrounding a black cylinder tower topped with golden candelabra.

Keeping with the theme, Jim and Julie served a terrifying menu of witches toes (cocktail weenies), zombie meatballs, and eye of newt sandwiches. Jim served not only as the groom for the evening, but also as the DJ, providing guests with Halloween favorites like “Monster Mash” and “Witchy Woman.” While their renewal was anything but ordinary, Jim and Julie also enjoyed some traditional reception happenings like toasts and a first dance.  “We did everything you would normally do at a wedding, but with Halloween flair,” she says.

But it was the cake that really stole the show at the reception. The three-tiered cake designed by Judy Roberts of Judy’s Kitchen was topped with white butter cream icing with dark chocolate dripping down the sides. It was adorned with red rose petals, and a bitten poisoned apple served as the topper. 

Jim and Julie sent their adult guests home with small bottles of wine, and children received bags of candy.

Monstrous Success

Looking back, Jim and Julie say they would definitely do it all over again. “The best part was having our son involved. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing that really brought our family together,” Julie says. “To any couples considering having a wedding renewal I say, ‘Do it!’ When you find the right person your love is timeless. A renewal shows you are still on the same path together.”