Chamath N. Wijewardane and Johnnie Susan Cooper were united in marriage at 2 p.m. January 1, 2011 at Mantee Baptist Church in Mantee, with Rev. Stephen Scott Griffin of Starkville officiating. The reception followed in the Mantee Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.
The couple met on a blind date in February 2003. They were “set up” on the date by Melody Dewberry Monts who served as the guest registrant.
The bride is the daughter of Joe Edd and Sue Davis Cooper of Cumberland. She is the granddaughter of the late John Franklin and Grace Sheedy Davis of Cumberland; and the late Mr. Fermon Cooper and the late Ivis and Tinnie Fields Blackwell of Mathiston.
She is an assistant professor in the College of Nursing for the Mississippi University for Women. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where she received her bachelor, master and doctorate degrees. In college, she was a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi. She is currently a member of the Mississippi Nurses Association.
The groom is the Chief Information Technology Officer/Director of Information Technology Services for OCH Regional Medical Center. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where he received a bachelor of science from Bagley College of Engineering.
He is the son of Nalin and Lala Wijewardane of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He is the grandson of the late Mr. and Mrs. Harry Abeywardena, and the late Mr. and Mrs. Don Edmond Wijewardane, of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Ms. Cooper was taken by complete surprise when Mr. Wijewardane proposed over dinner at Restaurant Tyler on Valentine’s Day 2010.
At the wedding ceremony, guests were greeted upon entering the church by Melody Dewberry Monts of Maben, and signed a photo book of the bride and groom’s engagement photos under a stunning Eiffel Tower vase of bells of Ireland, white calla lilies and tulips. Vintage ladies’ handkerchiefs were placed on a silver tray on the guest table for guests to have to “wipe their tears of joy!”
Prelude music was provided by long time friends of the bride: pianist, Tracey Phillips of Madison, Tenn.; organist/pianist Eloise Phillips of Roswell, Ga.; vocalist Jana Smith of Wiggins; and the Mantee Baptist Church Handbell Choir.
Guests enjoyed a variety of classical music and standards that included “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Georgia on my Mind,” and “The Best is Yet to Come.”
The bride and groom’s mothers were escorted in to “Claire de Lune/Jesus Loves Me” piano duet.
The wedding party entered the sanctuary to Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Following the giving of the bride by her father, Ms. Smith sang “Sweet, Sweet Spirit.”
The bride wore a strapless, tea length Justin Alexander wedding dress. The fitted bodice featured champagne Venice lace that extended onto the skirt and a wide coffee colored sash at the waist. The bride wore matching ivory peep-toe Kate Spade heels.
She wore an Unveiled Bridal Design custom angle birdcage veil of ivory french netting decorated with a copper peacock feather, whispy ivory ostrich feathers and purple biots accented by champagne lace and copper, purple, and pearl beads.
For something old, the diamond wedding band given to her by her maternal great aunt was tied into her bridal bouquet; for something new, the bride wore a double strand pearl bracelet given to her by her groom on their wedding day; for something borrowed, the bride borrowed her mother’s blonde mink stole; for something blue, the bride wore her blue Ceylon sapphire and diamond engagement ring; and the sixpence in her left shoe was from 1967, the year her parents were married.
The bride carried a simple bouquet of white calla lilies and roses with stems wrapped with ivory satin ribbon and featured her maternal great aunt’s diamond wedding band in the center of the bouquet.
The sanctuary was decorated with a variety of floral decor. A large arrangement of white calla lilies, oriental lilies, roses, tulips, phalaenopsis orchids, hydrangeas, white and green gladiolas, bells of Ireland, Japanese magnolia limbs, elaeagnus and other greenery situated in a black iron stand was the focal point of the stage. Stage bannisters were accented with contemporary arrangements of white hydrangeas, gladiolas, bells of Ireland, calla lilies, and orchids placed in large black flower boxes. Two black iron garden candle stands were placed on either side of the alter.
After the vows and giving of the rings, Mrs. Lesha Campbell Everett, friend of the bride’s family, read Leo Marks’ poem “The Life that I Have” followed a prayer where Mrs. Smith sang “Ave Maria.”
Scripture passages from I Corinthians 13 and Ruth 1:16-17 were read.
After the pronouncement of marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Wijewardane and the wedding party marched out of the sanctuary to a piano/organ duet of George Gershwin’s “Blue Skies,” a favorite song of the couple.
Serving as the matron of honor was Alison Pratt Herrington of Germantown, Tenn.
Flower girls were Jena Claire Cooper and Macie Grace Cooper, both of Mantee. They wore ivory silk and organdy with black silk sashes. Carried pomander flower balls of white daisies.
Bridesmaids were Coy Farley Burgess of West Point; Janet McMullen Johnson of Johnson City, Tenn.; Gwendolyn Sprayberry Lordeon of Calhoun City; Tonia Raines McLendon of Starkville; Melanie Cooper Reed of Caledonia; Krishni Wijewardane of Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and Mary Margaret Williams of Mantee.
Each bridesmaid wore their favorite little black dress and carried bouquets of calla lilies with stems wrapped with ivory ribbon.
Serving as best man was Nalin Wijewardane of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The ringbearer was Brady Reed of Caledonia.
Groomsmen were Dolph Bryan, Arthur C. “Sonny” Kelly and Rick Sharp, all of Starkville; Brian Kittrell of Brandon; John O’Kelley of Ackerman; Willie Wasson of Maben; and Eranjith Wijewardane of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The groom and groomsmen wore black or dark gray suits of their choice. The groom wore a sapphire blue and white striped tie, the best man wore a violet and white striped tie, while the groomsmen and ushers wore lime green and white striped ties.
Ushers were Jon Davis of Sturgis, Tom Sheward of Columbus and Glynn Stone of Starkville.
The wedding director was Mrs. Rebecca Gibson Carter of Mantee.
While photographs were taken in the church fellowship hall, a postlude of piano duets and piano/organ duets of Gospel Convention type music was enjoyed by the congregation. Postlude musical selections included “Just Beyond the Dark Clouds,” “Just a Closer Walk,” “In the Sweet Forever,” and “Some Morning Fair!”
At the reception, guests were greeted by the bride and groom while Tracey Phillips played piano standards from the Big Band Era.
Three large table arrangements that mirrored those in the sanctuary were placed in the reception area.
A bridal portrait taken in front of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, La. was placed on a large easel at the entry of the fellowship hall. Photographs of the bride and groom were placed on tables throughout the fellowship hall.
The fellowship hall was decorated with round tables covered in black and white tablecloths, arrangements of tulips, oriental lilies, calla lilies, and white roses.
Large columns and a trellis with white roses, calla lilies, and greenery draping from each corner sat in the middle of the room where the bride’s table was placed.
The bride’s cake, made by Melanie Fulgham Owens, high school classmate of the bride, was a five-tier traditional white cake with lemon filling and buttercream icing decorated with white calla lilies on each tier and on the table.
The bride’s mother made divinity candies and placed them in heirloom crystal dishes.
The groom’s table was placed at the front of the room under four columns and an arch flanked with live greenery. The groom’s cake, made by Donna Nickels, was a rich chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing with simple monogram on the top layer and decorated with milk chocolate and white chocolate covered strawberries.
Reception food was provided by Harding Catering and included a twist on traditional Irish New Year’s Day food of black eyed pea salsa, ham and mozzarella on poppy seed rolls, and Ana’s spring rolls.
Other dishes included a mashed potato bar with crawfish Julienne sauce, cheese filled pasta purses with Alfredo and marinara sauces, and meatballs.
Members of the Gleaners Sunday School Class served as hostesses for the wedding and reception.
Traditional favors included five Jordan almonds for each guest (one almond for each: health, wealth, happiness, children, and a long life).
The couple left the reception under an arch of sparklers and drove away in the groom’s 1990 Mazda Miata convertible that they rode in on their first date!
The rehearsal dinner
The rehearsal dinner, held at the Mantee Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, was hosted by the groom’s parents. The rehearsal dinner was catered by Smith and Christine Rabun of Weir.
On November 3, 2010, a wedding shower at Harvey’s Restaurant was hosted by Mrs. Hilda Gillespie, Mrs. Cheryl Guyton and the groom’s coworkers at OCH Regional Medical Center, information technology services department.
On December 12, 2010, a bridal shower at the home of Mrs. Jackie P. Christopher in Cumberland, was hosted by Mrs. Christopher, Mrs. Ranae Sisk, Mrs. Sherry Ferguson, Mrs. Sybil Flanagan and Mrs. Jeanette Buckner.
On December 18, 2010, a wedding shower was hosted by Richard and Janie Tollison at their home.
On December 19, 2010, a bridal shower at Mantee Baptist Church was hosted by the Gleaners Sunday School Class.
After the ceremony, the couple took cruise to the Western Caribbean for their honeymoon trip. They left from New Orleans, La., and enjoyed ports of call in Roatan, Honduras; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; and Belize City, Belize.
The couple are making their new home in Starkville.