October 29, 2015 02:09 PM

Courtesy Jay Houston

Phillip Phillips and his wife Hannah Blackwell are southern sweethearts through and through.

After exchanging custom vows under a huge oak tree on the Resora Plantation in Albany, Georgia, the newlyweds celebrated their new union with 250 of their closest family and friends with delicious food from Merry Acres Catering.

“That’s going to be the fun part,” the American Idol winner, 25, told PEOPLE exclusively before his Oct. 24 wedding (photographed by Jay Houston of Click Photography). “A lot of Southern — probably not healthy — but delicious food.”

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The couple, who met nearly seven years ago at a charity event for Phillips’ sister’s organization Mission Change, chose to have buffet stations instead of a sit-down dinner.

Courtesy Jay Houston

Catering director Lynne Ranew-Mertins worked with Phillips to create a truly Southern menu that included bacon and tomato sandwiches, okra rollups, mini country ham biscuits, shrimp and grits and bacon-wrapped water chestnuts.

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The couple also chose to have a mashed potato bar at the reception. “Her daddy and Phillip had the best time playing with the menu,” Ranew-Martins—who’s been catering for 40 years and worked with her team for three days on the wedding fare—tells People. “Phillip was so excited when I was talking to him about the food. A lot of grooms don’t care that much, but he did!”

“We’re just simple people,” Blackwell, 23, said of their reception. “It’s a little fancy, but not too fancy. All the flowers are really natural flowers, like really light pink or ivory, [and we wanted] just really simple food. The food was Phillip’s project!”

Instead of having a traditional groom’s cake, Phillips chose to serve miniature hot skillet chocolate chip cookies with a scoop of ice cream on top. “I’m really more excited about that than probably getting married,” he joked.

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And Ranew-Martins made sure to sneak the groom one of the cookies while he was mingling at the reception. “I took him a cookie and ice cream and hot fudge, and he said ‘Oh, that looks great!'”

Courtesy Jay Houston

The couple also had a twist to their multi-tier wedding cake, which was adorned with fresh flowers by local florist Kay Thompson. “We’re big foodies, so my bridal cake is actually yellow cake with chocolate icing, which they said is so not traditional to have chocolate icing because it won’t be white, but I like chocolate,” says Blackwell.

“The simplicity of it was so nice,” says Ranew-Martins about the big day. “Phillip and Hannah chose to use all local people, and that was something that made a difference to all of us that were working on it. It was a beautiful wedding.”

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Melody Chiu

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