Photos by Eunice Beck
Hair/Makeup by Katie Galliher
Hair Color by Dallas Cupit

Renowned Western/rural novelist Rae DelBianco and Grammy award-winning musician Reid Perry of The Band Perry are engaged! We have a special look at their gorgeous engagement photos, each taken in the parts of Mississippi that meant the most to them—their living room, Rae’s old living room, now their studio, where they got engaged, the porch of the old house where they spent the summer when Reid first moved to Oxford, and Sardis Lake.

The couple met online in July 2020—it was Rae’s love of taxidermy and books and Reid’s bison herd that kicked off the conversation. Before they met, they’d both decided that marriage was probably not in their futures, and they’d happily be spending out their days alone in a cabin or on a ranch in the wilderness someplace. “We like to think that, had we missed our chance in 2020, we would have found each other there, in our later years, in some dispute over cattle or horses crossing into each other’s land.”

When they met, Reid was writing music in LA then recording in Dallas, and Rae was writing in Mississippi, so it was another five months before finally meeting in person. Those months were spent having marathon FaceTime calls, talking of everything they could think of in science and nature and art. In May 2022, they said “goodbye” to long distance when Reid moved to Mississippi.

We got to chat with the couple about their engagement in this exclusive Q&A!

Rae: Part of me knew that Reid was the one after our first phone call. After a few weeks of texting, hearing that voice come alive—it was his brilliance, his intellectual curiosity, his ability to build out of the world whatever he dreams up, be it his art, his farm and livestock projects, his visions for design and shaping the world. Knowing someone only online still had that feeling of unreality, and I told a friend afterward, “either I’ll never get to meet him, or I’m going to marry him.”

The years since have proved that first impression right. I grew up in 4-H and started a beef cattle farm at 14, then fell head over heels in love with literature—I never dreamed there was someone out there for me, who’d support all of my wildest projects and ambitions, be equally proud of the novels I write and my old livestock judging awards, stay up all night listening to me dream up screenplay ideas, and be as excited as I am to drive across the country to a taxidermy auction or to ride horses in the desert.

Our art mediums never cross—his is music, mine is books and film—but our universes do. We both write from a deep love of the land, of freedom, of what makes small-town and rural America and horses and open wilderness so special to us. Our dream is to share an audience, to tell our own stories in our own ways that impact the same kind of soul.

Reid: We had our first phone call after a few weeks of texting. I was nervous as all get out. We talked for about three hours. A week later we talked again for three hours. A few days later we talked for four hours. I knew then that I was going marry Rae DelBianco. We had a bottomless supply of connections and things to talk about.

On those first three calls, I was selfishly thinking that I was going get so smart talking to her because of her vast intelligence. I saw her boldness when it came to learning new things, she was teaching herself taxidermy at the time. She talked about her art with a reckless abandon kind of passion more than anyone I had met before. The way she immerses herself in the things she loves makes you want to make them your passions too. I knew after those three calls that if you gave us a hundred years together, we’d still be finding new things to talk about. 

Tell us about the proposal. Was it a surprise? What did the lead up look like?

Reid: I spent weeks deciding where I wanted to propose to Rae. I knew I wanted to do it in a place that meant something to both of us. After mulling over our go-to date spots and favorite swamps around Oxford, I chose Rae’s living room. The cypress stump coffee tables, walls of books, and deer hide covered couch are seared into many amazing memories of mine in our early relationship as we were really starting to grow close as a couple and proposing there would add another memory of that space to the collection.

Our friend, Nicole Harlow, helped me design our engagement rings before she made them by hand. Her studio, Niett Metals, is nestled beside a fried catfish restaurant on the one-stop-sign Main Street of Taylor, Mississippi. Rae has a unique style and I wanted the ring to complement that with minimal design that had an aggressive edge to it. Nicole and I went back and forth until we landed on a design with knife-edge prongs and two “fangs” on the point of the diamond that hold it securely to the band. My own ring matches the handmade band, and we chose to leave the rough edge where it was soldered together.

Nicole texted me around noon the day of, telling me she had finished the rings and I could come pick them up. Rae knew I was designing a ring with Nicole, but to throw her off the exact day, I told her we were going on a different date every night that week. Once I got the ring in my pocket, I was planning on popping the question after dinner at Taylor Grocery (best fried catfish in the area), but I could only hold onto the ring for about an hour before I was dying to propose. So I pulled on my favorite boots and drove over to Rae’s apartment. I caught her off guard ‘cause she was still barefoot and getting ready. I walked through the door and dropped to one knee and said: I only want three things in life. I want art, I want you, and I want to be your husband. Will you marry me?

She said yes, we held onto each other and cried, and then we still went out and got that catfish dinner—right next door to where our rings were made.

The couple is getting married in a secret ceremony this month! When asked what influenced that decision, this is what they had to say:

We nearly eloped twice, before we were even engaged, out of sheer excitement. The second time, one of our best friends said, “if you guys end up eloping, please give me enough heads up so I can at least fly to it.” Of course, it’s not an elopement then, but that made us realize—what would our wedding look like if we ‘elope’ with all the people we wouldn’t want to elope without?

And so we’ll be married in secret, with sixteen guests and our pastor, keeping the day small and simple as our way of staying centered on one another, but with enough room for those we dearly love to stand alongside us. We’ll follow our ceremony with a crawfish boil and bonfire, and dancing under a Mississippi night sky.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Del Bianco Perry will be traveling to Arizona for their honeymoon, roadtripping to a cabin off the grid in the Painted Desert followed by a week-long excursion riding mustangs in Monument Valley.