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Bride Katey shares her fun Lowcountry wedding weekend with us!

With so many couples having destination weddings these days, I love the way that weddings have become weekend-long vacations to spend with friends and family! I have rarely heard of a couple doing that as well as Katey and Bill, who spent the entire week before the wedding spending quality time with friends and family all over the Lowcountry!

Katey explains, “We spent the week before the wedding at Disney’s Hilton Head Island resort with our family and almost our entire wedding party. We led bike trips around Hilton Head, spent days on the beach and at the pool, and were generally treated like royalty by the Disney staff. On the Thursday before our Saturday wedding, the Mother-of-the-Bride and Maid of Honor planned a girls day in nearby Savannah, GA. All the women guests attending the wedding were invited for historic horse drawn carriage tours through Savannah (with custom to-go cocktails), and then we lunched in the garden at The Brice. While the women were lunching, the guys did a pub crawl around Savannah. Katey’s mom also rented a beautiful house with a porch overlooking the chapel. It became the place all week to sit and watch the guests biking around the resort, and to call down and say hi.”

That relaxed pace and focus on fun memories made together sounds like a great wedding week to me! Read on to hear about the special guest who made an appearance at Katey and Bill’s reception!

Tell us how you picked your wedding venue! We grew up in the northeast and live in San Francisco, but we had vacationed in Hilton Head and absolutely fell in love with it. It was our first week-long vacation together, and was a time when we fell even deeper in love. There was something about the pace of life in the South that caused us to slow down and be present in a way that we rarely could be back home.

The incredible landscape of the South Carolina Lowcountry was the inspiration for our design. We wanted the natural beauty of our surroundings to be reflected in and enhanced by our design, and our wedding planner and florist executed the vision perfectly. We mostly worked with colors that could be found in the landscape, so lots of greens and blues.

What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? The advice that we received was to stay together during the wedding, and just enjoy it together. We followed that, never really being apart for more than a few minutes. It really made the evening feel like an evening for the two of us, instead of just a bunch of friends and family. We’d give that same advice to anyone else getting married.

Bill tried on his wedding ring the day before the wedding, only to find that in the South Carolina humidity, it no longer fit! His brother & best man Kyle took him to 3 different jewelers before they found one that could resize same-day… crisis averted.

Finding the right wedding dress was much more of a challenge than I expected! I knew I wanted something with clean lines, but that wasn’t plain or boring. I pretty quickly decided that silk crepe was the material that suited my vision best, but most dress options seemed to be of the lace and tulle variety. When I tried on my dress, I knew instantly that it was the one. Just the right amount of simplicity and elegance from the material with unique and detailed beadwork on the back and on the cap sleeves.

What was your reception like? In order to fully soak in the beauty of the surroundings, we held dinner al fresco on the village green. We had lights strung over the dining area and candles adorning the historic ruins on the lawn. We had speeches from the father of the bride and the best man. We also decided to say a few words too, to thank all our friends and loved ones for traveling so far to celebrate. As we told them, the wedding ceremony was for us, but the reception was for the family and friends who supported us and loved us throughout our lives. Later in the evening, Bill arranged for a surprise visit from Boston College’s mascot, Baldwin the Eagle – who charged into dinner to the BC fight song. Katey was stunned! Baldwin then lead everyone upstairs into the River House for coffee and dessert, and the Steel Toe Stilettos started the dance party. Upstairs revolved around a central dance floor, but we had couches and seating on the wraparound porch for people to eat dessert and chat.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We both went to Boston College (Class of 2007), but never met during our 4 years of college. On the first night of our 5-year reunion, at the infamous college dive bar, Mary Ann’s, we finally met. Bill bought a round of drinks. Katey responded with a Game of Thrones quote about Lannisters always paying their debts and then bought him a drink in return. The rest was history. We dated long distance between Boston and Palo Alto, CA for two years before settling together in California, where we’ve lived ever since.
Describe the proposal! Bill invited me to join him last minute for a weekend before a “work trip” to Las Vegas. When we got there we “realized” that all the hotels were sold out because it was the weekend of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, so we made a “last minute” trip out to Zion National Park for the weekend. We went for a hike, and Bill started sweating a little more than usual (it looked like it was about to start raining!) We paused for a moment on a ridge with a commanding view, and Bill set up his tripod to take a picture, but to my surprise, he didn’t pose – instead he got down on one knee. Then he dropped the ring, but managed to stop it from rolling off the cliff. I said yes! Then we went to dinner that night, and “just happened” to run into our parents (from Massachusetts and New Jersey) at the same restaurant right outside Zion National Park! After a great dinner, we spent the night and then a family weekend in Las Vegas.
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? Our officiant, Saral, was kind enough to host us for a long weekend at her house in Ojai, California. She walked us through three days of reflection and exercises on marriage and developing a shared family mission – we’re so glad we did that! Over that time, Saral became a close friend and mentor to us, and we’ve planned trips back to visit her as we float through an incredible first year of marriage.
How many guests attended your wedding? 140.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? Since we live in San Francisco and don’t have family in South Carolina, the logistics of getting everything there were quite challenging and involved more than a few trips to FedEx! Luckily our amazing wedding planner Ashley gladly volunteered to be our “wedding warehouse” for a few weeks.
Tell us about the rehearsal dinner. We held a rehearsal dinner for the bridal party and family where we had a Lowcountry boil and the requisite speeches (including the presentation of the Groom’s Cake!). We followed that up with a welcome party, featuring the Cluster Shucks, who played some great bluegrass and got everyone excited for the festivities to come. Towards the end of the night, they played a few crowd-pleasers, ending with a massive sing-along to “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. The sing-along continued with them on the trolleys home.
How did you spend the morning or afternoon before your ceremony? The groomsmen (and the dads) went skeet shooting in the morning, followed by a few cocktails and lunch. Bill sent over a wedding gift to Katey: a set of hoop diamond earrings custom-made by Cresalia Jewelers in San Francisco. Katey opened them as her mom looked on.
Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. Early in the ceremony, our officiant Saral asked us to turn around and just look at our friends and family. This was pretty untraditional. In most wedding ceremonies you face forward, towards the officiant. It was a special moment to be able to look out at all our friends and family who had traveled so far to celebrate with us.
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? We drank from the Sullivan family chalice, which has been used in family ceremonies for over 50 years. (Bill finished the whole thing.)
Did you have a cocktail hour? Our cocktail hour was right outside the church overlooking the candlelit ruins, and thanks to our fantastic wedding planner, it was timed perfectly for sunset. Katey and Bill escaped for a bit down to the dock to share a quiet moment alone – it couldn’t have been timed better, because “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was playing across the water, and a pod of dolphins swam past.
Tell us a bit about your first dance. We danced to Beyonce’s “Love On Top.” In our true style, we scheduled a very last minute, single dance lesson to prepare the week before the wedding… but in our opinion, we crushed it!
Did you take a honeymoon? We went to beautiful French Polynesia, where we spent a week touring islands on a catamaran chartered by Tahiti Yacht Charters, followed by a week at the St Regis, Bora Bora.
What’s next for you as a couple? Thirty days before our wedding, we bought our first house together in San Francisco. (And we moved in the week before we left for the wedding!) So a lot of our downtime together these days is in doing home fix-ups and just settling in. We also have lots of friends’ weddings to celebrate!

Photographer: Perry Vaile Photography | Videographer: Life in Rewind | Planner and designer: Ashley Rhodes Event Designs | Ceremony venue: May River Chapel at Montage Palmetto Bluff | Rehearsal dinner and reception venue, caterer, and wedding cake: Montage Palmetto Bluff | Florals: Em Creative Floral | Bride’s gown: Rosa Clara | Bride’s shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bride’s earrings: Cresalia Jewelers | Bridesmaid dresses: Newport Crinkle Chiffon by Jim Hjelm | Hair and makeup: Bride’s Side Beauty | Men’s fashion: Indochino | Paper goods: Lowcountry Paper Co. | Rentals: EventHaus Rentals | Linens: Nuage Designs | Sound: Stage Front Production Services | Ceremony music: Charleston Virtuosi | Reception band: Steel Toe Stiletto | Photobooth: EPIC Charleston | Transportation: Old Savannah Tours

Written with love by Catherine
4 Comments
  1. avatar Zookbinders reply

    Great images. Looks so fun! Beautiful wedding!

  2. avatar Neza Reisner reply

    Stunning wedding!!

  3. avatar Peter Kiral reply

    So happy to be a part of this awesome wedding ceremony with the Charleston Virtuosi string quartet! Good luck guys !

  4. avatar Liana – AisleMemories reply

    Wow what a lovely wedding! I absolutely love the wedding colors – that shade of blue is perfect. All of their decorations were just wonderful. Congratulations to Katey and Bill!

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It’s been a busy and exciting week for the Marks family, as we just moved into our first house yesterday! This might explain why the first goal on my 2018 PowerSheets is to create a life-giving home. One of the most exciting things about newlywed life is getting to plan what kind of household you’re going to run together! This goes much deeper than the decor or furniture arrangement. We want our home to be inviting and cozy: a place where people feel like they can be themselves and make a mess. And yes, nothing gives me life like our home being organized, simplified, and beautiful too!

As long-time apartment renters, we’re still getting used to the idea that we’re allowed to change major things! Now please note that I’m a firm believer in your ability to do more than you think in a small space and rental. You can see the beloved apartment we just said farewell to (with its bold navy paint and many heavy things on the walls) here for proof! But now that the only thing holding us back is our budget, we’re especially busy planning, making lists, and most importantly, digging into the Southern Newlywed archives for inspiration.

Today I’m having a ball sharing some of the gorgeous and brilliant ideas I want to borrow from our Southern newlyweds!

The Kitchen

Obviously I love Megan and Jeremy’s blue, white, and gold home with its plentiful ginger jars, pops of green and pink, and a bedroom that looks VERY familiar. But what I can’t believe is how her kitchen looks just like my plan for our new kitchen’s “after” as well! We have a very similar backsplash and countertop color except that our cabinets are currently ivory. This photo is my proof that white cabinets will blend in beautifully!

The Front Porch

While our front porch is not as generous as this one, and we won’t have room for this delightful sectional sofa, we do have a front porch! Christine and Drew’s cozy couch with its pillows and throw blanket are along the lines of what I’m thinking. I want our porch to be a relaxing place to sip an Arnold Palmer and watch the world go by once the warm weather comes back!

The Exterior

I can sense my husband getting nervous now, so I will note this is a long-term dream, but someday I would love to paint the house white and the shutters black like Sarah and JB’s classic home!

My Office

One of the biggest selling points for our new house was the room for me to have a designated office! No more working in our bedroom! I’m just thrilled about my new sunny workspace. The plan is to make it cheery and colorful (with all my Write the Word journals on display for starters!) like Maghon’s!

The Living Room

I am all about adding comfortable seating for conversation, and these buffalo check armchairs are everything! Also, note Jillian and Hayden’s well-styled bookshelves.

The Dining Room

Our dear Kristin and Kyle have moved back to the tar heel state, and I sincerely hope this amazing farmhouse table and colonial chairs came with them. We don’t need a new dining room table, but I’m going to try to find a smaller version of both for our breakfast nook!

The Master Bedroom

We both really loved our moody, navy walls, but I think I’m ready to try an all-neutral bedroom with just some pops of pink, gold, and blue! Luckily, we have everything we need already to make that happen. But, I have always wanted to update our bedding to something monogrammed just like Megan and Josh’s duvet cover and shams!

The Nursery

Last, but not least, I can’t forget our sweet little girl’s room! Her nursery will be pretty identical to what it was in our old place since we just set it up six months ago, but it was inspired by a Southern Newlywed column! Our dear friends Erin and Ryan have since moved back to their beloved South Carolina into a darling Old Village of Mount Pleasant home, but they let us borrow these amazing Lilly Pulitzer curtains!

Needless to say, this is a very long-term project, even if we focus on it all year! That’s one of my favorite things about married life: the ongoing project of tending to your home together.

Written with love by Catherine
1 Comment
  1. avatar James Wedding Photography Ireland reply

    I’m building up my new home and as a photographer I loved the images and ideas, thanks for sharing ;)

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You’ve probably heard us say this before, and we’ll repeat it till the cows come home, because gracious, it can save you so much stress: don’t book any of your vendors till you’ve signed on the dotted line for a venue!

I will be the first to raise my hand when I say this may be easier said than done, though. When I was wedding planning, my now-husband and I had an immediate bead on our officiant and photographer, and were eager to confirm the dates with them. But, our venue search took MUCH longer than we ever suspected! (And ended — long story short — with John scrolling Google Maps satellite view to find a patch of coastal land where we could pitch a tent!) I can’t imagine the headache it could’ve caused if we had put down deposits on other vendors before securing the place where our “I dos” would take place (and, of course, the official date!).

Along with setting your date in stone, your venue will likely have more of an influence on your wedding than any other decision–it will determine the style and aesthetic, your guest count, and even the timeline of the day. Below are a few tips for making this important decision!

Start with Google. While venues that market themselves to weddings generally have a lot of information online, unusual or “off the beaten path” options may be harder to find through a simple search. Try searching for phrases like “North Carolina barn wedding” or “Atlanta ballroom wedding”–those terms are likely to bring up posts on wedding blogs (oh hi! :)) and photographers’ blogs, which can be a great way to both find new venues and see how others have used the spaces.

Compare apples to apples. When you’re booking a venue, you’re often booking more than just the space–you may also be booking their in-house staffing, rentals, catering etc. All venues calculate their prices differently, so as you research, try to organize the information in a way that’s easy for you to understand and compare. For example, one venue may seem exorbitantly more expensive than another at first, but when you learn that the first price includes a month-of coordinator, valet parking, and use of their extensive rental inventory, while the second is just use of the space, the first may actually be the more affordable option.

Visit your venue one year in advance. If you can, try to visit venues as close to a year in advance of your wedding date as possible–it will give you the best insight as to what you can expect in terms of landscaping and scenery.

Get it in writing. Especially if you are asking for particular allowances, such as hanging a certain type of decor or arranging the space in a unique way, be sure to get the venue’s agreement in writing. That way, even if there’s staff turnover during your engagement, your provisions should be safe.

Here are a few important questions to ask venues you’re interested in–pin the graphic below so you don’t forget! (P.S. If you have our Joyful Wedding Planner, you’ll also find this list in there to bring to your appointments.)

I’d love to know–what made you say “yes” to your wedding venue?

emily Written with love by Emily
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