By Hope Harrington Oakes
When Burnette Avakian’s daughter, Liz, recently announced she was getting married, she didn’t have very far to go to find the ultimate wedding planner…her own mother. As the owner of “A Bride Idea”, a business that centers around full-service weddings, Burnette has found a niche that is a perfect fit for her other business, the beautiful Antebellum bed-and breakfast home, Shadowlawn. Located right next door to the Mississippi University for Women on College Street in Columbus, Shadowlawn has been the center of many, many weddings throughout the years. Liz was actually instrumental in beginning the business. Burnette and her late husband, NoNo, had been living in Shadowlawn for about five years when Liz found out she was being phased out of her job at Columbus Air Force Base. Thinking that Shadowlawn would be the perfect party venue for formal occasions, Liz approached them with an idea for a potential catering business. Burnette was happy to go along with it, but No No was reluctant. They agreed to a
two-month trial, with the agreement that, at the end of the trial period, they would evaluate to decide whether to go on or stop. That evaluation meeting never took place. It seemed that they all enjoyed the experience so much, they wanted to keep doing it. Burnette agrees that “God’s hand was in that decision.”
What started out as a family journey has grown to include several employees who help cater the different functions they offer, such as Bridesmaids Luncheons, Teas for Young Ladies (12 years and up), Victorian High Teas for Ladies, Rehearsal Dinners, and of course Full Service Weddings and Receptions. Most people use Shadowlawn as their venue of choice, but Burnette says they offer full-service catering at other places and towns, as well. Burnette is the Main Event Planner and Florist, daughter Liz is Caterer, and the rest of the staff handles all the set ups and break downs for each event. The Full Service Wedding package includes actual Wedding Day Planning such as Rehearsal Dinner direction, flowers, catering, cakes, linens, table toppers, rental equipment (chairs, tables, etc..) plus the use of Shadowlawn’s elegant silver service tableware. They also cater private parties such as luncheons and dinners, and birthday parties (Sweet 16 parties are popular).
As if she didn’t already have her hands full with her two businesses, Burnette has graciously agreed to have Shadowlawn featured once again in the Columbus Pilgrimage. Right now, she’s been feverishly working, along with her family and staff, to get the house and grounds ready for the annual event. She says she enjoys a quiet sense of accomplishment when her clients thank her for helping with their special day. She says she is blessed by getting to do something she loves and agrees that “God’s hand was in that decision.”0