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Southern Weddings

Author: Lisa

Is it weird to have a wedding bucket list? While I obviously have no control over where and when my friends and family members get married, I have all my fingers crossed that someday, I’ll get to be a guest at a New Year’s Eve wedding. The sparkle and excitement of NYE is fun enough as it is, but add a joyful bride and groom and a rockin’ reception to the mix? Seriously…it doesn’t get better. While we’ve featured plenty of glam, black-tie NYE weddings over the years, I love that Kathryn and Chad took a different approach, incorporating gorgeous colors, Florida-inspired blooms, and incredible painted details into their day (all with the help of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Ashton Events). Their details were the perfect way to blend their festive wedding date with their sentimental at-home venue, and we’re so glad The Ganeys were on hand to capture all the loveliness!

P.S. I have written hundreds of real wedding posts over the years, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen an interview filled out by the groom! Thanks for sharing, Chad!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Despite our many mutual friends and the fact that we grew up in neighboring towns in rural Central Florida, Kathryn and I first met in Washington, DC. I had been working in DC as a lawyer for about a year when Kathryn moved up to begin a new job at the Department of Justice. A mutual friend invited us to–of all things–an election party, which is where Kathryn and I met for the first time. Our mutual friend told me about Kathryn ahead of time, so I was naturally very excited to meet her, and struck up a conversation with her as soon as I got to the party. Kathryn was not so informed. “I had no idea he was a set-up,” she would always say. “I just thought he was really friendly.” Although our mutual friend thought we would get along, she had no clue we grew up 30 minutes away from each other, nor did she know we would hit it off so well. We spent the next few hours talking and laughing as we reminisced about all the quirks of our tiny hometowns. The whole night was great, except for one tragic mistake: I didn’t get her number! I told myself that the next time I saw her, I wouldn’t make the same mistake again. My next chance came in January, when we saw each other at a meeting for lawyers. Although she didn’t recognize me at first (ouch), she remembered as soon as I told her where I was from. Our first date was a couple of days later, near the end of January, and in December of that year, we got engaged after 11 months of dating.

I didn’t have a ton of preferences for the wedding, but I knew I wanted the first time I saw Kathryn to be as she was walking down the aisle. And it was worth the wait! Nothing will ever beat that moment when time stopped as the church doors swung open and Kathryn walked in. There was an audible gasp in the audience as every person in the room entertained the same thought: this is the most beautiful bride.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Between our afternoon ceremony and evening reception, Kathryn and I were able to go back to the house we were renting and watch the sun set over the lake. It was the perfect break and a truly special time for Kathryn and me to slow down and appreciate the beauty of that day. It also allowed us to recharge so we could dance the night away and ring in the New Year!

Our initial reception venue cancelled about a month before our wedding. With so little time to find another venue, we decided to host the reception in Kathryn’s parents’ backyard. Although it was not our first choice, our team of wedding designers made it absolutely perfect. It was better than we ever could have imagined, and because it was at Kathryn’s parents’ house, we got to be more creative with the lighting, decorations, and furniture than we would have been able to be at another venue. Now, every time we visit Kathryn’s parents, we look at the backyard and remember how great our wedding day was.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We saved a lot of money by cutting the sit-down dinner and doing BBQ and taco stations instead. Also, for decor, we decorated Kathryn’s parents’ backyard with original oil paintings done by Kathryn’s aunt. We had dozens of our favorite oil paintings hanging from trees throughout the yard.

Our Southern heritage informs everything we do. From our classic bourbon and tea signature cocktail to the BBQ and grit cakes we served at the reception, to a special area of the wedding venue dedicated to smoking cigars, we tried to give all of our wedding guests a taste of the South.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: There were so many things that we loved, but my favorite was the champagne toast at midnight. We served a delicious sparking rosé via a classic champagne tower waterfall. The toast was great because everyone was crowded onto the dance floor as we wrapped our arms around each other and sang “Auld Lang Syne.”

Tell us all about the proposal! We were traveling down to Florida for Christmas. We were set to fly into Tampa, but I changed our tickets and surprised Kat with a layover for a few days in Asheville. As we were driving into Asheville, I took her to a beautiful outdoor chapel known as “Pretty Place” at the top of a mountain. I had a photographer at the back of the chapel waiting for us, so we were able to capture the entire moment. The best part was that Kathryn had no clue it was coming.
When did y’all get married? December 31, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Did you write your own vows? Kathryn and I are both Catholic, so we used the traditional marriage vows from the Catholic Church. Our ceremony was sacred and reverent, and the music was absolutely beautiful. The organist and soloist played “O Magnum Mysterium” by Lauridsen, a piece that has special significance to me. But my favorite part of the ceremony was how light and jovial it was. The hallmark came when the celebrant, a sweet old retired priest, called me Clyde instead of Chad. Everyone was dying laughing, including me.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My favorite reading was from John 17, where Jesus prays that the disciples will be one as He and the Father are one. This verse served as the inspiration for the engraving inside Kathryn’s wedding band: One Forever.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Kathryn’s father is a musician and music teacher. I also have a background in classical music, so picking the wedding music was a great opportunity for us to come together over our shared love of classical music and select pieces that we both like. We ended up going with beautiful selections by Bach, Beethoven, and Schubert.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Kathryn and I took marriage preparation classes at the local parish in DC, where we were both living as we planned our wedding.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Although we really want to get back to Florida in the next few years, Kathryn and I are excited about our new life together in DC. I predict lots of long walks, late-night ice cream runs, and bike rides in our future.

Photographer: The Ganeys | Planner and Florist: Ashton Events | Ceremony Venue: St. Joseph Catholic Church | Wedding Cake: J’aime Cakes | Dessert Baker: Katara Confectionery | Caterer: 4 Rivers Smokehouse | DJ: Corey Barron via Grant Hemond and Associates | Bride’s Gown: “Destiny” by Romona Keveza | Hair and Makeup: Kaitlin Lang | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: BHLDN | Groom’s Tuxedo: Custom by Tom James Company | Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Linens: Kate Ryan Linens | Chairs, Dance Floor, and Rentals: A Chair Affair | Tent and Lighting: Premier Party | Hair and Makeup: A Cherished Bride

Ashton Events is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    Ah! Such fun. We loved this day, and we loved working with K+C! Chad’s dinner jacket & Kat’s dress change were of our favorite moments of the night. What a way to ring in 2017!

  2. avatar Catherine reply

    I love a good DC lawyer love story, and this is a beautiful one! The groom did a wonderful job on his interview, and what a beautiful day it was!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful event! We absolutely adore Kat and Chad and feel so grateful that we could ring in the new year with them!!

  4. avatar Ivon reply

    Such a beautiful wedding! Love all the details and how well they were captured!

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I have the delight of reading about LOTS of proposals, so it takes quite the story for me to proclaim it one of the best I’ve ever read. Well friends, that’s exactly what we have here today! The two words I’d use to describe the way Josh proposed to Emily are epic and romantic, and once I scrolled through the photos Virgil Bunao captured of their wedding, those same adjectives kept coming to mind. Their venues, Grace Church Cathedral and Lowndes Grove Plantation, were certainly a big part of that, but their classic fashion, Emily’s show-stopping bouquet, and the clear-top tent they celebrated under didn’t hurt either!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? So many to choose from! I’d have to say that one of the most special moments of the day, which I am beyond thankful that we incorporated, was having a first look with my daddy. Right after I finished getting dressed and donned my veil, before I even went to see Josh, my daddy came in to see me in my dress for the first time. Surrounded by my family and closest friends and sharing that emotional moment with the man who has loved me since day one was something that I will never forget. I highly recommend it to all brides!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! We were getting married in the middle of December, when it gets dark by 5 P.M. Our reception venue, Lowndes Grove Plantation, is a breathtaking plantation home right on the Ashley River in Charleston, so we knew that we wanted to be able to take pictures there in the daylight. We also wanted our guests to be able to see the venue in the daylight and enjoy the sunset over the water, so we had a first look under the live oaks by the water and took the majority of our pictures before heading to the church for our ceremony.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I am probably one of the most indecisive people ever, and I really had no idea what I was looking for. I had to Google the different wedding dress styles so I didn’t sound silly when we went shopping for the first time! My mom, my best friend since childhood, and I went up to Charlotte to visit a few different stores, and we met up with my aunt who lives there. I tried on tons of dresses and really learned what style I was looking for, but just couldn’t commit yet. Due to my school schedule and our long engagement, it was about six months before I was able to go shopping again. This time, my mom and I headed down to Charleston with a much clearer vision of the look I was going for. I wanted something a little more formal and traditional for our ceremony in a cathedral, but fun enough to let loose at the reception! A few of my bridesmaids were able to meet us at the store and help me see that one of the dresses I tried on encompassed all of the elements I was looking for. Once the consultant added a veil and showed me that they could custom-make a sash, I was sold!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We attended a marriage counseling weekend retreat through the church early on in our engagement that was wonderful and very thought-provoking. There weren’t many topics that we had not already addressed or encountered in our relationship, but it was a great starting point to discuss others.

We are both from very small towns with limited wedding venue selections, and since I had lived in Charleston for several years and we both love it, we knew we wanted to get married there. We visited several venues and absolutely fell in love with Lowndes Grove Plantation. It was exactly what we were looking for as an indoor/outdoor venue with character and Southern charm, with the added bonus of being on the water with a long dock. We also knew that we wanted to get married in a church. We decided on Grace Church Cathedral, the church my aunt and uncle had been married in. It is an absolutely beautiful church with a center aisle and stunning altar, and they provided wonderful marriage counseling and wedding coordination.

Describe your wedding flowers. This was one of my favorite parts! I knew I wanted a romantic, whimsical vibe with lots of whites, greenery, and pops of blush and coral pink. I met with the florist and they let me pick out individual flowers and greenery that I wanted to incorporate! Coral charm peonies were a must for me! From there, Branch Studio totally nailed it. I’m gushing just thinking about them. Each of the tables at the reception had either a tall, whimsical arrangement or a low, textural arrangement incorporating similar flowers and greenery to the bouquets. They also incorporated a few feathers provided by my groom into several of the arrangements. This tied in with the hand-tied feather boutonnieres worn by Josh and his groomsmen, and Josh’s Brackish bow tie. One of the most magical floral elements was the massive floral chandelier extending all the way to the top of the tent! It was made of silver dollar eucalyptus and other greenery with scatters of white hydrangea, blush emely roses, pink roses, and pink tulips. It hung around a classic crystal chandelier over the cake table as the center feature of our reception tent. It was stunning! The cake table itself was adorned with a garland of silver dollar eucalyptus, with Italian ruscus and olive branches encircling the edge of the table.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We were both born and raised in South Carolina, so we don’t know much besides Southern traditions! It does not get much more classically Southern than Charleston. Our reception venue, Lowndes Grove Plantation, is a beautifully restored plantation home situated on the northern end of the Charleston peninsula on the banks of the Ashley River. We took most of our photographs under the live oaks that line the water and on the dock that extends out into the river. Among the passed hors d’oeuvres were fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and mini crab cakes. Southern dinner menu items included shrimp and grits with cornbread biscuits, braised short ribs, and grilled fish tacos. Our groom’s cake at the rehearsal dinner was a life-size rendition of our Boykin spaniel, the South Carolina state dog.

We had a five-layer traditional wedding cake. The layers were of varying heights to give the cake some originality and dimension. The design was simple and elegant, with textured white buttercream frosting and intermittent cascading coral charm peonies, white and blush pink garden roses, and silver dollar eucalyptus. Because it was December and the weather in Charleston was beautiful, we decided to have the cake in the center of our outdoor tent under a floral chandelier as the central element of our reception space.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both attended Clemson University, but despite having many mutual friends, we never met there. We met while I was living down in Charleston after we had both graduated. I was focused on preparing to begin medical school and was pretty determined not to get involved with anyone. Thankfully, Josh was patiently persistent and convinced me that we were better equipped to go after our dreams together! He had just purchased his own business, and I started medical school three hours away. We both had full plates and the distance was tough, but we persevered, and it made us immeasurably stronger as individuals and as a couple.
Tell us all about the proposal! My family had planned a trip to Europe as a family vacation, and I was thrilled that Josh was able to join us! Our first stop was Paris, and it happened to be over my birthday. For weeks, I had been telling Josh about the Pont des Arts in Paris, a bridge where couples leave locks to symbolize their unending love. I wanted to find it and maybe even add a lock for us! Well, a week before we left, we heard that the love lock bridge was being torn down. We were disappointed, but it turns out that the trend had spread to almost every bridge in Paris. As we walked around the day before my birthday, I kept wanting to buy a lock, and Josh kept telling me no. Later that night, he caved and presented me with an early birthday present. He had found a beautiful antique lock and hand-engraved it with our names, the date (my birthday), and a quote in French that read “my heart is forever yours.” Needless to say, I was incredibly touched that he had not only been listening to me, but had put so much thought and effort into this special gift. He told me that this was only one of two gifts for my birthday, but I assured him that there was nothing I could possibly love more. After nagging him to tell me the secret most of the morning on my birthday, he finally told me that he was taking me on a tour to the top of the Eiffel Tower that night. I was SO excited! It ended up raining pretty much the entire day, so I was confused when the cab driver dropped us off at a bridge a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. Josh explained that our tour guide wanted to meet us somewhere else because of the rain. As we started to walk out on the bridge, it suddenly stopped raining! We seemed to be the only ones on the bridge besides a tourist taking pictures of the tower. We walked to an overlook with a gorgeous view of the tower, and Josh stopped to point something about the tower out to me. When I turned back around, he was down on one knee! I said yes!! I have never been more surprised in my life, and I am very hard to surprise! It turns out that the “tourist taking pictures” was a professional American photographer living in Paris that Josh had hired to capture the entire thing! We even had a mini engagement photo shoot right there on the Pont de Bir-Hakeim overlooking the Eiffel Tower! Josh had thought of EVERYTHING! In addition to presenting me with the most gorgeous ring I have ever laid my eyes on, he had also kept a journal of the entire process, from the progression of our relationship to this point, asking my parents for their blessing, picking out a ring, planning the proposal, and so much more. On top of that, I got to walk with my new FIANCÉ to meet my parents and sister under the Eiffel Tower, where they were waiting with a bottle of champagne to celebrate with us!
When did y’all get married? December 17, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 235
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. The seating of the mothers and grandmothers: The first dance was to “This Kind of Love” by Sister Hazel. We chose this song because it was a little different than the traditional first dance songs while still having a classic vibe, and we have always felt that the lyrics sum up our love perfectly. My dad and I danced to “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra. Not only is this a wonderful song, but it was featured during the wedding scene in the movie “Father of the Bride” which has always been a favorite and very special to my daddy and me. Josh and his mom danced to “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor. James Taylor has always been very special to Josh’s musical family and has become special to us as a couple too. I surprised him for his birthday several years ago with tickets to a James Taylor concert, and when it came time for our families to meet, Josh arranged for both of our parents and us to go to another concert. It was a very special night!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? One of the biggest ways we saved money on the wedding was simply by having it in December. Many venues and even vendors had different pricing based on the month of year, and we received a significant discount on the venue because December was not a high season month. It also made it significantly less stressful to book the vendors we wanted because most of them were available without competitive demand. Also, due to our guest count and the vibe we were hoping to establish, we decided to have a stations-style dinner instead of a sit-down dinner, which required less seating and place setting elements, as well as eliminated the need for a seating chart, place cards, etc.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are beyond excited to be married and to start this journey together! After a honeymoon to Antigua and celebrating Christmas with our families, we returned home to our beloved Boykin spaniel, Riggs. We are loving making our house into a home together! I’m looking forward to having Josh by my side as I finish out my last two years of medical school and move on to a residency, and Josh is busy with his new job and getting his MBA at the same time!

Photographer: Virgil Bunao | Videographer: CreatiVideos | Planner: Hannah Grogan | Ceremony Venue: Grace Church Charleston | Reception Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation | Florist: Branch Design Studio | Wedding Cake: Jessica Grossman of PPHG Charleston | Caterer: Patrick Properties Hospitality Group | Rentals: Snyder Events, Ooh! Events, EventHaus, Nuage Designs, and YOJ Events | Lighting: AV Connections | Band: We Got The Beat via East Coast Entertainment | Paper Products: Studio R Design and Midlands Printing | Bride’s Gown: Augusta Jones | Bridal Salon and Veil: Gown Boutique of Charleston | Hair Stylist: Ash and Co. | Makeup Artist: Pamela Lesch Makeup | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: After Six from Bella Bridesmaids | Men’s Tuxedos: Ike Behar from Charleston Tuxedo | Groom’s Shirt, Shoes, and Cuff Links: Jos. A. Bank | Groom’s Bow Tie: Brackish

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Lydia Royce reply

    The back of her dress paired with that veil is incredible! This wedding is beautiful and was photographed so well!

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If you got engaged during the most recent “engagement season” (Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day), chances are you’re probably starting to think about your registry! While it may feel a little bit awkward to put together your wish list at first, remember that your registry is actually an incredibly helpful tool. Your guests WANT to help you settle into newlywed life with things you need and want, and your registry makes it easy for them to choose something they’re positive you’ll be grateful for!

Whether you already have a mostly stocked home or you’re ditching the pieces from your college apartments in favor of new, grown up home goods, starting the registry process can be overwhelming. To help get you started on the right foot, we teamed up with one of our favorite online registry programs, Wayfair, to come up with a list of 20 things every Southern wedding registry should include. This list was specifically created for couples hoping to foster a gracious and hospitable home–with just these 20 tools and pieces on hand, you’ll be able to comfortably host a dinner party or overnight guests!

We love Wayfair Registry for countless reasons, one of the main ones being the many products you can add to it (more than seven million!). Group Gifting allows multiple people to go in together on a larger ticket item, so especially if you’re starting from scratch furnishing a new place, it’s a fantastic option–they carry everything from couches to porch swings, as well as hundreds of options for each of the pieces on our essentials list. Here’s a peek at what your 20 things might look like when you register at Wayfair!

1. Baking sheets, 2. Cookware, 3. Serving platter, 4. Cast iron skillet, 5. Glass pitcher, 6. Stand mixer, 7. Towels, 8. Flatware, 9. Everyday china, 10. Sheets, 11. Coffee maker, 12. Serving utensils, 13. Food processor, 14. Wine glasses, 15. Champagne flutes, 16. Vase, 17. Pie dish, 18. Cake stand, 19. Drinking glasses, 20. Fine china

One of my favorite brands Wayfair stocks is Kate Spade New York, so I couldn’t be more excited about the Kate Spade Bachelorette Party Getaway sweepstakes they have going on right now! One grand prize winner, plus three of her bridesmaids, will be whisked away to Miami, Florida for a fabulous girls trip–the prize includes airfare, two-night accommodations, and additional prizes all valued up to $12,000. Brides can enter between March 30 and April 30 by creating a registry at Wayfair and by adding at least one Kate Spade product to their Wayfair registry (the fine china, serving set, vase, and champagne flutes above are all Kate Spade if you need one to get started with!). Fingers crossed for you!

This post is brought to you by the Wayfair Registry – thanks for your support of the brands that make Southern Weddings possible!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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