Carolina Bride

A reunion to remember

Dating was the last thing on Tori Sykes’ mind. Her focus was on being a good mom to her daughter, Cameron, so she was caught off-guard when she ran into Justin Novy at their 10-year high school reunion. There were instant sparks. “I knew almost instantly that Tori would be my wife,” Justin says. “I told her that God kept us romantically apart in school because I was too immature to fall in love, but reconnected us now because we were meant to be.”For Tori, the connection was just as strong. “My motto was, if we didn’t click on the first date, there was no need to continue,” she says. “We clicked on the first date, and on the second date it was like we were best friends.”Less than a year later, Justin remembers riding in the car with Tori, watching her sing along to the radio. “She turned to me and smiled,” he says. “In that exact moment, I knew she would be my wife forever.” He got to work right away planning the big moment. He designed her ring from scratch and planned a beach vacation with her family. But eight days before the vacation, tragedy struck and Tori’s father passed away. Devastated, she didn’t feel like going to the beach. Knowing that Justin planned to propose, her family decided to continue with their plans and convinced her to come along. “It was perfect timing,” Tori remembers. “Three years earlier Justin lost his own dad, so he understood my pain.” During her time of grieving, he was the best kind of friend she could ask for, she says.Once at the beach, they were hit with another obstacle. The ring Justin had personally designed was shipped to the wrong state! After nonstop phone calls, the ring was shipped again and Justin met the UPS man at a nearby parking lot. The next day, the family conducted a sand castle contest – boys versus girls. When Tori walked around the corner to check out the guys’ creation, she stopped suddenly. Confusion turned to shock when she saw that their “castle” consisted of carefully laid seashells that spelled “Will you marry me?” She says that it was so special, she didn’t hesitate responding, “Of course!”Eight months later, in April of 2011, Tori walked down the aisle of their outdoor wedding and said, “I do” to her soulmate. Her princess-style dress from Poffie Girls was detailed softly with elegant white flowers that blended into the skirt and added to the magical moment. Tori wanted their wedding to be elegant, but she also wanted everyone to have a great time. “When I sat down to eat, I look around the room,” she says. “This is really romantic, and everyone is having fun.” Facilitating the entertainment was their DJ from Split Second Sound. Tori, who likes old school R&B, says, “He made suggestions for songs that were perfect for our style as a couple.”Julie Staley, photographer and owner of In His Image, was there to preserve the memories created that day. “Julie is a gift,” Tori says. “She knew exactly what shots to take and how to place everything.”After all the planning and wonder of the wedding, Justin and Tori were most thankful for each other. “Take away all the flowers and the dress and everything beautiful at the wedding, and it wouldn’t have mattered,” Justin says. “The most amazing part was our love and that was the most beautiful thing.”

Featured vendors


Split Second Sound



In His Image – Julie Staley


Portrait location

Aw Shucks Farm


Wedding gown

Poffie Girls


Continue reading real wedding stories! Up next: 'Unexpected love'