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Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine

Personal Account: The Marriage of Andrew & Jessica Contino

Feb 18, 2016 10:15PM ● By Tracy McCoy

Jessica Anne Smith and Andrew Nathan Contino were high school sweethearts. Andrew was a friend of Jessica’s brother and they courted under the watchful eyes of her parents before they had a real date. She remembers their first real date being a trip to Texas Roadhouse and a movie. They dated for about a year and then sadly they broke up. A year went by and Andrew joined the Navy. Jessica also joined the United States military as a Marine. On the day he graduated from boot camp Andrew called her and asked her out. A month later Jessica left for Marine Corps boot camp. The romance was on again with both dedicated to serving this great country.

When Andrew decided to ask Jessica to be his wife he chose a beautiful location tucked under Sunset Cliff in San Diego, California. Jessica was stationed at Camp Pendleton and Andrew at the Naval Base in San Diego. Andrew had chosen a beautiful ring and on bended knee with secret photographers nearby to capture the moment, he asked Jessica to spend the rest of her life with him. She accepted Andrew’s proposal as the waves crashed against the cliff.

Both Andrew (son of Darren and Lori Contino) and Jessica (daughter of William “Dub” and Catherine Smith) are natives of Georgia so they knew they wanted to get married in their home state. They chose Sautee-Nacoochee where Jessica’s grandmother lived as their location but it proved to be very difficult for them to make plans from California.

With a date of December 27, 2014 on the calendar, Jessica’s mother Kathryn Smith and her “Nana” Nancy Smith took over much of the planning. Nancy lives in the Sky Lake community in the Nacoochee Valley of White County. She found the perfect church for the wedding located on a hill in the center of the valley. The Old Nacoochee Missionary Baptist Church welcomed the couple and the church community was helpful and accommodating.

Jessica’s grandfather Pastor Scott McClintock performed the ceremony. Jessica wore her grandmother Paulette Heidel’s wedding dress. The rehearsal dinner was held at the Sautee Mountain Resort and Conference Center. The caterers were Tim and Harriett Williams of Green Gables. Classical guitarist Cliff Eckenloy played for their guests.

The décor for the rehearsal dinner, the wedding and reception were compliments of Nancy and her close friend Alene Kelly. The ladies decorated with cedar, red berries and burlap. Jessica handmade her invitations herself. The bride’s bouquet and other wedding floral designs were also the creation of Tim and Harriett of Green Gables. Jessica spoke of how fortunate she was to have the assistance of her Nana and her mother when planning this special day. The work they put into the event was appreciated by the bride and her groom.

The wedding was lovely and very meaningful. Jessica’s wedding pictures were made by Melissa A. Henderson Photography. Melissa captured the essence of the day beautifully. The reception that followed was an incredible gift from a dear family friend. It was held at the Sautee Mountain Resort as well with Green Gables as caterer. The cake was elegantly simple with three tiers and an anchor cake, in honor of Andrew’s service in the Navy, served as the groom’s cake. Pastor Tony Hamilton of Clermont provided beautiful music at the reception and it was a wonderful end to a perfect day.

Andrew has been serving in the Asian Pacific for the past year with Jessica still stationed at Camp Pendleton in southern California. The couple values the weeks they get together as Andrew serves his second year abroad. They plan to have a “real honeymoon” when he returns although they have made some short trips while he was on leave. A military couple whose love is spanning many miles – thank you Andrew and Jessica Contino from the Laurel and our readers!

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