Joely Pugh was suspicious.
Ben Sellers, her boyfriend since the 10th grade, suggested eating at The Chimneys Restaurant in Gulfport on Jan. 20, 2018 — and she thought a proposal could be imminent. However, her best friend was out of town and assured Pugh it wouldn’t happen without her. Plus, Pugh’s mom was supposed to be attending a birthday party that night.
But before Pugh had finished prepping for the evening, her mom turned up — as did a driver who was waiting for her outside. In the car, she found a sweet letter from Sellers, recounting their relationship and citing Bible verses about marriage.
“We turned down to the causeway by Popp’s Ferry bridge, and I could see Ben standing on a pier with candles and lights,” Pugh recalls. “I got out of the car, and he took me around the pier and talked about how amazing it was this moment was finally here after loving each other for so many years. He read one more Bible verse, and he asked me to marry him!”
Although she attended Biloxi High and he went to Gulfport, school rivalries were forgotten when the pair met through mutual friends. They dated throughout high school and during their time at Mississippi State University, where Pugh says they fell more in love.
“What I love most about Ben is his selflessness,” she gushes about her groom. “He is such a hard-working man, and he puts others before himself every time.”
The couple were married at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Gulfport on Dec. 15, 2018, one week after their seven-year anniversary, and a reception followed at the Event Centre at CLIMB CDC. The moment that stands out for Pugh was seeing Sellers for the first time during a first-look reveal that afternoon.
“I started to tear up even when I was still 50 yards away with him turned around…,” she recalls. “Seeing my soon-to-be husband on the day of our wedding was so surreal!”
The celebration was filled with special touches to honor people and places that are meaningful to the couple, according to the bride. For instance, Ben’s groom’s cake and several photos on display paid homage to Mississippi State, and Pugh’s sorority sisters encircled and sang to the pair. Lost loved ones were remembered with altar flowers.
“We chose to use The Mississippi Gulf Coast book of photos by Timothy Isbell for our guests to sign on our favorite photos of the Gulf Coast,” the bride adds. “We both grew up here and returned to start our professional careers, so it is a very special place to us.”
After honeymooning at Secrets Wild Orchid Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the couple has settled in Gulfport. Sellers works as a civil engineer at Machado Patano in Biloxi while his wife is an academic advisor at the University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.
Reflecting on their journey so far, Pugh says, “Those seven years were so special, but I have to say this time as newlyweds is my favorite!”
Photographer: Kristen Moody Photography
Wedding planner: Olivia Miley Events
Ceremony venue: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Reception venue: The Event Centre at Climb CDC
Florist: The Petaler Co.
Caterer: Taste! Catering
Makeup: Jamile Pepper Artistry
Hair: BLOWN by Oliv Ares Haus of Glam
Videographer: John Reyes Networks
Jewelry: Great grandmother’s pearl bracelet and
earrings, heirloom sapphire ring
Shoes: Antonio Melani
Wedding gown: Bridal and Formal Boutique &
House of Tux, designer Stella York
Tux: Bridal and Formal Boutique & House of Tux
Bridesmaid dresses: Bridal and Formal Boutique &
House of Tux, designer Sorella Vita
Musician/Entertainment: Crescent Moon Entertainment,
Nashville, Tennessee / New Era Band
Clergy/Officiant: The Very Rev. Stephen Kidd
Rentals: ABC Rental Center
Cake: Nita Lee Cakes
Transportation: King Limo Biloxi
Invitations: Clay’s Print Shop
Rehearsal Dinner: The Chimneys Restaurant