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When Hurricane Matthew caused a mandatory evacuation in Charleston, Hayley and Richard were forced to cancel their original wedding plans and notify all their guests–something made even more challenging by the destination aspect of their celebration. However, with the help of their planner Victoria, their entire wedding was rescheduled within an hour! While this challenge could have left Hayley in tears, thanks to a supportive fiancé, loving family and friends, and a fast-working planner, she felt nothing but loved and supported. Though I’m sure this was not the easiest of planning experiences, I admire Hayley and Richard’s strength through adversity and encouragement for couples to “enjoy the planning together,” even when unexpected challenges arise

We’re sure happy Virgil Bunao was there to capture their sweet (and sunny!) Charleston day!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did, and I was terrified. I had my best friends read my vows the day of the wedding while we were getting our hair and makeup done. They all approved, so I went with them. Rick’s vows were perfect. He managed to make them very sweet, while still poking fun at several of my traits, including my love of kale.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We agreed to let the officiant surprise us with readings of his choice. He knew that I had lost my father and was very emotional about him not being a part of the wedding. The poem he read was written from a father in heaven’s point of view to his daughter.

The dress I wore was my second pick. When I went with several friends and family to pick my dress, I chose a long-sleeved lace Stella York dress. When I went to pick it up, I did not like it on me, so my wedding planner made an appointment and we went together, just the two of us. I chose a completely different dress–it was sleeveless and had no lace or beading.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I knew I wanted everything to be outside. I was born and raised in Naples, Florida and spent virtually all of my free time at the beach, so a beach wedding was out for me. We traveled to Colorado and looked at the Broadmoor, but decided against it. One night, we were watching a movie set in the South. The oak trees and Spanish moss reminded me of family vacations to Southern towns–Savannah, Charleston, and Louisiana. We ultimately picked Charleston because of all the activities. We thought a destination wedding should be a mini-vacation for not just us, but for our guests. Charleston met all of our requirements.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Have fun with it. It is an important day, but it is just a day, so don’t let yourself become overwhelmed. Rick and I decided on certain details individually and bigger decisions together. For example, he picked the food and I picked the flowers. We chose the band, budget, and weekend activities together. My advice is to enjoy the planning together; it really is a fun and exciting time for a couple.

Rick was in charge of all of the food. We had a three-tiered cake with different flavors for each layer: raspberry cake with a white chocolate and buttercream frosting, carrot cake with a lemon buttercream, and red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate ganache.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge we faced was when our wedding was canceled. Our original wedding date was October 7, 2016. We prepared and looked forward to this date for over a year. At the beginning of October, Hurricane Matthew began taking aim at the Carolinas. On October 4, we made the decision to cancel our wedding. An hour later, Charleston issued a mandatory evacuation. We had to contact all guests and notify them to cancel their flights and hotel accommodations. We had to cancel our honeymoon and contact all our vendors. It was very hard, and for some reason, I felt embarrassed–I knew that everyone was going to be put out by this. Fortunately for Rick and I, we have the most amazing friends, family, and wedding planner. Our wedding planner (Victoria) took control–she had the entire wedding, including all vendors, rescheduled within an hour. My friends and family stepped up and helped notify other guests. On a day I thought I would cry all night, I ended up feeling blessed. Rick brought home two bottles of my favorite wine and a ridiculous amount of roses. Between the support of Rick, family, friends, and our planner, it was impossible to be sad.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The guests. Our friends and family booked flights, took off work, and made hotel accommodations not once, but twice. We felt very loved and supported.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both work in the medical field, and met while working together.
Tell us all about the proposal! We love to run together in our neighborhood. One Saturday, Rick insisted we run at sunset instead of in the morning. He is much faster than me, so he was about a quarter of a mile ahead of me. When I finally caught up to him, he went down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was in shock at first, since I had waited five years for this. It was not until I realized he was tearing up that it hit me. I loved that he proposed during an activity we enjoy together. It was not the typical romantic story, but it was us. I drive by the proposal spot each day and it reminds me of that day and how lucky I am.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 55
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to The Beatles’ “In My Life.” My father loved the Beatles and the song reminded me of him. Our first dance was to Michael Buble’s version of “Feeling Good.” We wanted the dance to be fun, not the typical slow dance. We took dance lessons for several weeks and incorporated lots of spins and lifts. We wanted our friends and family to be excited during the dance.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I only had something blue: a piece of my father’s favorite blue shirt cut into the shape of a heart and sewn into my wedding dress.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We set an overall budget for the wedding and then set budgets for each individual item, from wedding invites to the band. We made sure that the budget we set for each item and vendor was followed and not broken.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are excited to continue to grow as a couple. We plan on traveling a lot over the next few years and really enjoying this time in our lives.

Photographer: Virgil Bunao | Videographer: Cinema 843 | Planner: Victoria Wolanin of TopNotch Entertainment Corp. | Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation | Florist: Branch Design Studio | Caterer: Patrick Properties Hospitality Group | Rentals: Snyder Events, Ooh! Events, Polished!, and Nuage Designs | Lighting: TEC Lighting | String Quartet: Palmetto Strings | Band: Palmetto Soul | Paper Products: DM Paper Designs | Bride’s Gown: Maggie Sottero | Bride’s Accessories: Bel Aire Bridal | Hair Stylist: Jamie Stuart of Blue Dahlia Salon | Makeup Artist: Elina Mille of Bellelina | Bride’s Shoes: Yves Saint Laurent | Groom’s Tuxedo: Canali | Groom’s Shoes: Prada

Bellelina is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory and Maggie Sottero is a wonderful Southern Weddings sponsor!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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  1. avatar Ashlee reply

    What a great testament to the couple’s resilience through less than ideal circumstances with Hurricane Matthew! And the reception looks dreamy (those chairs!).

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For Maggie and Jim, Charleston was the perfect place to celebrate yet another milestone in their story. Not only did they fall in love in the Holy City, they also felt that it embodied all of the qualities of the South that they hoped to share with their guests. With the help of their planner, Blue Ribbon Vendor A Charleston Bride, Maggie and Jim planned an elegant day that was filled with classic white florals and beautiful, neutral details that somehow made the Gadsden House even more lovely than it already is!

Big SW hugs to Ashley Seawell for sending along this chic, Southern day!

I found my dress after a 14-hour work day with one of my closest friends, totally on a whim. My dress ended up being the first one I tried on. After trying on about 50 more dresses over the next month or so, I went back and bought the first one. I loved how different it was.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? A Charleston Bride. Without their patience and knowledge of all things wedding, we would have been so lost. My planner (Lindsey) and the ladies of A Charleston Bride are worth their weight in gold! I did not have to worry about a thing the day of the wedding.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something old was a pocket bible that has been passed down in my family at each wedding ceremony for 100 years. My something borrowed was a diamond tennis bracelet my father had given to my mother, and my something new was a gold bracelet my mother-in-law gave me while getting ready for the wedding. My something blue was an undergarment!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Carrying my grandmother’s bible. My grandmother is 103 years old and was unable to make the trip to Charleston for the wedding. Carrying the Bible that she carried and that my mother carried meant the world to me.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We had originally planned to do a first look, but decided about one month before the wedding not to do one. It seemed so special to have the first time my husband saw me on our wedding day be when I walked down the aisle to meet him.

Charleston, South Carolina has a lot of meaning to both of us. Charleston is where we dated and where we fell in love. It has all of the qualities that embody the South. It is about great food and drinks, and beautiful, kind people. We tried to pull little pieces of the South into all aspects of our wedding.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t worry about the small stuff. It does not matter if you get the perfect napkins or fabric, or even the perfect dress. The only thing that matters is that you have your closest friends and family there to celebrate the best day of your life with you. Because your wedding day is just that…the BEST day of your life.

Our wedding cake was my favorite part of the whole wedding (aside from winning the best groom). We had a local bakery make a three-tier wedding cake with three different flavors. The first layer was a coconut cake, the second was strawberry with fresh strawberries in the filling, and the top tier was pistachio. It was the best tasting wedding cake I have had, and you could really feel the baker’s passion for baking.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Jim and I met at a friend’s beach house on New Year’s Eve. I was newly single and in medical school, and Jim was in law school about two hours away. I decided that there was no better way to start a new year fresh than to spend New Year’s with a fun group of people I had never met. They had all known each other for years and I felt slightly awkward and out of place…until I met Jim. Jim is the kind of guy who makes everyone feel at home, and the sparks started flying almost immediately. We spent the remainder of the night stargazing on the dock over the creek.
Tell us all about the proposal! I was living in Dallas doing an OB/GYN residency and Jim was living in Columbia for medical school (yes, you read that correctly, he went to both). Seeing each other could be quite difficult with two very demanding schedules. One weekend in January when Jim came out to Dallas to visit, he brought a diamond along with him! I had planned a big dinner with a group of residents and friends at a great Mexican restaurant, and Jim was supposed to get in around 8. While waiting for the plane to leave, the conveyor belt ran into the gas tank on Jim’s plane and everyone was asked to evacuate. Jim was told there were no more flights out for the night and that his only option was to be put in a cab to catch a flight out of a nearby city (100 miles away). Jim got in a cab with two strangers and rode to Charlotte, North Carolina–he was a man on a mission! He ultimately got into Dallas around midnight, long after dinner was over. Jim casually said, “Let’s go up on the roof and have a drink and take the puppy.” We tried to go on the roof, but it was locked because it was after midnight. Instead, we decided to take the dog on a walk. I was in yoga pants and bedroom slippers when Jim got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I immediately started crying and dropped the dog’s leash in my excitement, and she took off running down the street! After I got myself together and said YES, we went and found the puppy sitting patiently outside of the dog park gate. It was the most special proposal for us.
When did y’all get married? May 21, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I grew up in South Carolina eating boiled peanuts like they were an entrée! We had several little buckets of boiled peanuts on the bar top. We also had several Southern touches on our menu. Cru Catering does a perfect job of making special little Southern dishes. We had little ham biscuits and pimento cheese spreads, as well as fried oysters served on a seashell.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are currently living apart finishing up our training. We look forward to being able to travel as a couple, and eventually settle down in the South to grow some roots and start a family.

Photographer: Ashley Seawell Photography | Planner: Lindsey Shanks of A Charleston Bride | Ceremony Venue: French Huguenot Church of Charleston | Reception Venue: Gadsden House | Florist: Charleston Stems | Wedding Cake: Twenty Six Divine | Caterer: Cru Catering | Rentals: Snyder Events | Lighting: IES Productions | DJ: Natty Heavy | Paper Products: Sweet Magnolia Paper | Bride’s Gown: Rosa Clara | Bride’s Jewelry: Maddison Row | Hair Stylist: Lindsey of Blushing Brides | Makeup Artist: Megan Grant via Bobbi Brown | Bride’s Shoes: Loeffler Randall | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Natalie Deayala | Men’s Attire: Berlin’s

A Charleston Bride is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory and Rosa Clara is a wonderful Southern Weddings sponsor!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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We feature our fair share of Southern weddings around here. ;) And while there are so many styles of Southern weddings, today’s would fall into my personal favorite subcategory…the classic Southern wedding! Hannah and Ryan chose to celebrate at the historic Rose Hill Mansion, surrounded by Spanish moss. Filled with elegance and history, it was the perfect place for Hannah and Ryan to achieve the romantic atmosphere they had envisioned. Vibrant pink paisley linens, sweet hospitality from the moment guests arrived in town, and time-honored traditions round out their magical Lowcountry wedding weekend. We’re sure glad Rebekah Senter was there to capture all the beauty!

P.S. Curious about the saber arch and other Southern traditions they included? Our e-book is here to help!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I was in eastern Maryland one weekend and my mother and brother were visiting so we could look at different styles together and get some ideas. My brother and I went to one boutique in Baltimore, Garnish Boutique, and waited for my mother to arrive. Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain and many roads were washed out, so my mother was late arriving to the store. We had the entire place to ourselves, so while we waited for her, my brother and I wandered around the store, just getting a general feel for the overwhelming number of styles they carried. We started making some selections to try on, just as my mother arrived and we kicked off what I expected to be a long afternoon. After I tried on Amsale’s “Troy” gown, the third dress, I was in love and knew it was the one for the big day! We ordered it right then and there.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No, we wanted the authentic reaction of seeing each other for the first time on the biggest day of our lives as I was walking down the aisle. It was one of my favorite moments from that day and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

We chose to have a string quartet play “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” from Cantata #147 by Bach for the bridal party processional, Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” for the bridal processional, and “Hornpipe in D” by Handel for the recessional. We felt that these songs contributed to the classic environment we desired for the wedding.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We loved the idea of a classic Southern wedding. We looked around the Charleston area and fell in love with the Rose Hill Plantation House in Bluffton, South Carolina. The elegance of the historic mansion surrounded by the beautiful Spanish moss seemed like the perfect place for us to tie the knot.

We were always raised to be welcoming and hospitable, and I wanted to project that to our guests from the moment they arrived in town. We held a less formal, all-inclusive rehearsal dinner with all of our guests, and it really set the tone for the whole weekend by giving everyone a chance to meet before the big day. With most of the introductions and connections made on Friday, everyone could get right to celebrating on Saturday. However, I think the nostalgic look that the moss-covered oaks lent to the area was the most quintessentially Southern aspect of the weekend. There were decorations and adornments that defined the wedding all across the property, but somehow, those ancient trees provided an atmosphere that perfectly encapsulated the quiet and romantic setting I had always envisioned.

Describe your wedding flowers. Gorgeous! The ceremony had greenery across the back of the chairs with floral clusters on each aisle end. The centerpieces were vibrant with large coral charm peonies paired with eucalyptus and other floral elements to tie the design together. The long tables mimicked the ceremony design, with greenery that cascaded down the center and over the sides with pops of candles and bright florals. The cake, chandeliers, and escort card display also had floral accents. The bridal bouquet was incredibly lush and smelled amazing, thanks to those peonies!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Laughing our way through our first dance and looking around to see all of our closest friends and family together, celebrating our love and commitment to each other.

We chose a tiered cake with four flavors: almond white on the base, banana on the next tier, coconut on the third tier, and almond white again on the top tier. It was delicious!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Our story began in January 2008. We were both seasoned freshmen, yet strangers to each other, at Grassfield High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Upon arriving to the first day of health class, our teacher assigned seats in alphabetical order. I walked past Ryan’s seat, immediately noticing how attractive he was, and silently prayed for him to not be weird. Class proceeded without a single exchange between us. The bell rang and we moved on to our next class, English. The students’ names were written on little sticky notes stuck to each desk–unsurprisingly, our teacher assigned seats in alphabetical order, which meant Ryan and I would spend the entire semester sitting next to each other in two classes. Two days passed without a single exchange or glance in my direction. After days of staring at the back of Ryan’s head, I finally got the ball rolling and introduced myself. We spent the next two years being “just friends” and dating each other’s peers before I agreed to go on a date with Ryan in the fall of 2009. We spent the remainder of our high school career living up our team-captaining, best-smile-winning, popular couple days. However, as graduation approached, we were unsure how our relationship would manage being several hours apart. In August of 2011, I went off for soccer pre-season at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Ryan joined the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech. Since the schools were only four hours away from each other, it was fairly easy to get away and spend weekends together. In 2012, Ryan was accepted at and transferred to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Despite the doubled distance, we both were determined as ever to continue to support each other’s dreams and grow even more in love. After knowing each other for eight years, Ryan (FINALLY) asked me to be his wife in August 2015. Throughout the past few years, we have worked hard at our respective goals, but we were ready to move towards the future together.
Tell us all about the proposal! From Ryan: I decided to ask on August 15, 2015, the last free Saturday of summer before I had to return to the Academy for my fall semester. Coming up with a location was difficult, but I kept going back to her home in South Carolina. I love the water, and Lake Murray seemed like the perfect spot! The first step was to find a way to realistically get my family down to South Carolina without ruining the element of surprise I desired. My brother and sister were responsible for asking Hannah if my family could come down for the last weekend of the summer. Hannah was delighted, as we had been talking about getting our families together at the lake for a few years, and it seemed like this year would finally be the one. However, her brother Patrick was going to be in Virginia, and I intentionally left it unclear whether I would be permitted to leave from my training in Maryland. Hannah grew increasingly frustrated with me until I sadly informed her that I would be unable to come down for the weekend. Hannah did not know Patrick was coming after all, so we capitalized on his surprise arrival to throw her off the scent. His surprise worked beautifully! He presented her with a beautiful dress, which she promptly changed into so they could all “go” to a downtown restaurant called the Oak Table. While everyone prepared to “go to dinner,” I hid on the bottom floor of the house with my parents, who had brought the ring. The last piece of the puzzle was figuring out how to get Hannah down in my direction. Right before they left for the restaurant, my mom claimed to have misplaced her camera lens. Poor Hannah was the last one to use the camera and promptly panicked. She remembered having used it on the dock, and ran downstairs to search for it. As soon as she stepped outside, Hannah saw me and realized what was happening. She froze, and tears began to roll down her cheeks. With a little shove from Patrick, she starting moving and made her way down to the dock. I, thrilled to have pulled off the element of surprise, could not stop smiling. For a few perfect moments, it was just Hannah and me on the dock. I will never forget them. On a flawless sunny afternoon on the lake with both of our families there to witness the big moment, I asked Hannah Lee Carlson to be my wife.
When did y’all get married? June 11, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! I combined my something borrowed and old and wore my grandmother’s ring on my right hand. I used my great-grandmother’s blue handkerchief as my something blue. My something new was my Paul Andrew heels.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We bought our own alcohol. Since we bought it wholesale, we received a massive discount and asked our catering staff to serve it during the cocktail hour and reception.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Ryan and I are starting our married life in Houston, Texas. We look forward to living together for the first time, strengthening our relationship with Christ, and starting a family with new traditions.

Photographer: Rebekah Senter Photography | Planner and Florist: Eventi Floral & Events | Venue: Rose Hill Mansion | Wedding Cake: Ronnie’s Bakery & Cakes by Lou | Caterer: Downtown Catering Company | Rentals: Snyder Events | Lighting: JLK Events | DJ: Henry Race via JLK Events | Paper Products: MLC Designs | Bride’s Gown: “Troy” by Amsale | Hair and Makeup: Eye Do Makeup & Hair | Bride’s Shoes: Paul Andrew | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Leah” in Blush by Jenny Yoo | Flatware and Vintage Glassware: Ooh! Events | Linens: La Tavola Linen | Vintage Car: FX Limousine

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Bri A reply

    I’m so glad I saved this post until I had time to read through it. This wedding is a DREAM. Each photo made me think “this is my favorite piece” and then the next one topped it. (Although, the picture of the groom holding her bouquet might have been the best part! But, also…the beautiful proposal!)

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us, Hannah and Ryan!

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