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We see a LOT of Charleston weddings around here (not surprising considering it’s one of the loveliest destinations in the South!). That means that when we’re choosing real weddings to feature each year in print, we have to be extra selective–otherwise, it would be all too easy for half the weddings we shared to be Charleston celebrations! When Stephanie and Johnston’s wedding photos landed in our inbox though, we knew we had a gem that our readers would love as much as we did. Stephanie and Johnston teamed up with A Charleston Bride with a meaningful goal in mind: to make their wedding feel as though it was a fabulous party at their home. Every detail was completely true to their classic style, and the reception even incorporated some of Stephanie’s beloved blue and white china. A few of my favorite personal touches were the ones that paid special tribute to how important their families are to them, from the boxwood family photo display, to the lace from her mother’s wedding dress Stephanie wrapped around her bouquet, to the custom crest they included as a nod to the new family they were starting on their wedding day!

We’re so thrilled Olivia Griffin shared this day with us for V9! We got to celebrate with both Olivia and Stephanie in person at our issue launch party, which was such a treat!

Tell us about your wedding flowers. How did you choose them? What did you love about them? We wanted to incorporate lots of whites, ivories, and natural greens. I started to share some ideas with Lindsey on Pinterest and she and I brainstormed for months to get the combinations just right. She helped me see past just the appeal of the colors, but to think about the feeling and texture that certain varieties can have. She also made sure to create an overall design plan that was lush and full without being too over the top. My bouquet included tulips, peonies, and hyacinths. The construction was a modern take on the traditional with block groupings instead of the flowers being mixed evenly throughout. The bouquet was wrapped with lace from my mother’s wedding dress that she had kept preserved all these years!

We were married in Charleston, South Carolina at the end of February, and luckily, it felt like spring! Charleston is a special destination for us as a couple. We have traveled there together several times, and we love all of the restaurants, shopping, and the history of the town. I had always envisioned getting married outside by the water and Johnston and I wanted a destination wedding. Lowndes Grove gave us the Southern feel we were looking for, was right next to the water, was a large white plantation, and was also in a city we love! Being that we both wanted a black-tie affair and wanted the sun to be setting when we said “I do,” we spoke with our photographer and videographer to see what time of day would be best for our ceremony.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. We had a gospel choir sing guests into the ceremony, where they were greeted with a glass of champagne. We decided to have our ceremony facing the Ashley River on the backside of the property, instead of on the grand front lawn, to make the atmosphere feel more intimate. It was such a beautiful and peaceful backdrop. I also had a trumpet player for my entrance into the ceremony with my father. It was a really special way to come into the space, and made me think of all the weddings I had watched when I was a little girl.
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? Johnston: The first look and Stephanie walking down the aisle. Stephanie: Walking down the aisle and saying “I do!” During the ceremony itself, when my dad and I started walking down the aisle toward Johnston, I was overwhelmed with all the love felt. Seeing people we have known our whole lives who traveled to witness Johnston and me get married was a feeling I will never forget.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved dresses and getting dressed up for events! Given my extreme love of fashion, shopping, and clothes, I knew that my wedding dress had to be the most stunning, gorgeous, timeless dress I had ever seen. I wasn’t even looking for dresses (since I was not engaged at this point) when I came across a picture of the Oscar de la Renta “Caroline” dress. I immediately called Oscar de la Renta in New York and inquired about the dress. They informed me that this dress was not in stores yet but would be by the spring (perfect timing on the engagement). I called the only store in Atlanta that would be carrying this dress and made sure they called me the day it arrived. We got engaged, and the timing was perfect because three days later, the dress was in! My mom and I went to see it and I tried it on and that was it! I knew instantly this was the dress I had always dreamed I’d wear when I walked down the aisle! The lady at the store told me that this was the last dress that Oscar himself created for his bridal collection before he passed away! I have such a love and passion for fashion that this dress exceeded my wildest dreams of any wedding dress I’ve ever seen!

We had a large focal point of a live greenery wall, where I gathered wedding pictures from Johnston’s and my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents. This meant so much to us because our families are extremely important to us and we are fortunate to have parents who are still as in love as they were when they were married over 35 years ago!

Our cocktail hour was perfect, and since we did a first look, we got to spend as much time as possible with our family, friends, and guests. We had the band play during the entire cocktail hour and had amazing hors d’oeuvres passed, which we had spent so much time picking out. We wanted each guest to feel welcome from the second they stepped off of the trolley and entered our wedding evening. Each guest was greeted with a glass of champagne to toast to the evening to come. Once the ceremony was finished, everyone went inside the house. We had a greenery-covered bar and blue and white ceramic lamps in the entry to greet everyone. They then walked into the main house and saw our cake on display under the spiral staircase, and smaller separated rooms they could walk in for chef-attended short ribs and oysters on ice. We also had a focal wall, in greenery of course, and hung our family wedding photos underneath our guest book.

The wedding exuded the same design and style of our house, which everyone remarked upon. People said they felt like they were at a party at our home (albeit a slightly larger house with a view of the water). We incorporated as many personal items from our home as we could carry in all of our trips up to Charleston. The blue and white china and monogrammed pillows are back in our home today, and seeing them on a daily basis reminds us of the wonderful wedding day!

Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: Walking into the wedding process, I had a good idea of things I was naturally attracted to and liked. Once Lindsey and I got started on what elements we wanted to bring in, she and the ACB team asked a lot of questions about us as a couple, our family, our style, and our interests. Somehow, all of that came into the design and we loved it all even more than clippings or pictures we had seen before. Inspiration was the soft palette of natural ivories and greens with accents of gold and dark charcoal. I wanted to incorporate a black and white dance floor, large focal bars, crystal chandeliers, and lots of boxwood and flowers. Once we got started, we incorporated blue and white china, which I collect, and it really finished out the design. There was a little something to discover everywhere.

The wedding cake was a three-tier hexagon cake covered in ivory fondant with a gold-covered vintage lettered monogram on the middle layer and a few delicate white flowers placed at the top. It was simply stunning. The stand was polished silver and was a gift from a dear friend. The silver cake server and knife were heirloom pieces Johnston’s parents used at their wedding to cut their cake!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met at a mutual friend’s 30th birthday party. I had recently moved home to Atlanta from Florida, where I had lived since graduating from Alabama in 2007. One of my best friends convinced me to attend the party, as I had originally planned to stay home for the night because I was in a boot from a running injury. Johnston had been living in Atlanta since he graduated from Ole Miss in 2007. I lived a few doors down from Johnston’s cousin at Alabama, and thought I had recognized him, as they look very much alike. I introduced myself and there was an immediate connection. It is crazy to think about all the mutual friends we shared and all of the parties and weddings in college and after that we were both at and never once met. Johnston was in the background of a picture I found from a friend’s wedding four years before, which we attended with other dates! We realized that everything happens in God’s time and happens for a reason! We both knew immediately this was something special, and several months later, we were engaged!
Describe the proposal: Johnston had arranged for both of our families and a few close friends to meet at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The weather was near perfect in mid-March, warm without being overwhelming. We walked through Piedmont Park and then into the main courtyard of the Botanical Gardens, where all of the tulips, one of my favorite flowers, were in full bloom! Johnston took a knee and I began crying and said “yes!” Having our families and best friends there cheering for us was such a special touch that Johnston organized. We then went to a wonderful dinner with everyone to celebrate!
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? With the advice from some friends, who were married a few months before us, we attended several sessions of marriage counseling. While we did not have any serious issues to discuss when we started going, we found it very helpful to talk through many of the matters the counselor said cause problems down the line in most marriages. We also met with the minister who married us for several premarital sessions as well. Spending time with him going over our backgrounds and views on marriage and our parents’ marriages was very special, and he made our ceremony incredibly personal from our discussions. When we were first engaged, my mom also gave me the Southern Weddings Planner! She knows I like to stay extremely organized, and this planner had amazing advice and tools to use while planning a perfect Southern wedding. With the ability to add our information into it, I brought this to every meeting and referred to it daily while planning the wedding and keeping myself organized in the process!
How many guests attended your wedding? 165
Who was one of the most special guests at your wedding? Mu grandparents, who have been married for 61 years!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? For now, we are readjusting to the real world and enjoying newlywed life: traveling for a few weddings, catching up with friends, and spending plenty of time with our dog, Oliver. We look forward to hosting dinner parties, redesigning rooms in our home, and possibly searching for a new house down the line. In the future, we plan to start a family and look forward to everything marriage has to offer.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Never lose sight of what the day is really about. There are so many moving parts and you put a lot of pressure on yourselves, but remember that this is about the two of you and the decision you have made to spend your lives together. Enjoy the day and hire a great videographer so you can relive this day for the rest of your lives!

Photographer: Olivia Griffin Photography | Videographer: Kickstand Studio | Planner, Designer, and Decor: Lindsey Shanks of A Charleston Bride | Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation | Florals: Jonie LaRosse of A Charleston Bride | Caterer: Fish Restaurant | Wedding Cake: Patrick Properties | Bride’s Gown: “Caroline” by Oscar de la Renta | Bridal Salon: Joan Pillow Bridal | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaid Dresses: Style 450248 in Slate by Monique Lhuillier | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Ash and Co. | Groom’s Tuxedo: Sid Mashburn | Groom’s Shoes: Stubbs and Wooten | Groomsmen Fashion: The Black Tux | Paper Goods and Invitations: MADE Papier | Crest Design: Arabella June | Rentals: Snyder Rental, A Charleston Bride, Ooh! Events, and TEC Lighting Company | Linens: BBJ Linen | Reception Pillows: Number Four Eleven | Transportation: Absolutely Charleston | Bride and Groom Exit: Classic Boat Charleston | Lighting: IES Productions

A Charleston Bride is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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I was recently asked if Brandon and I have any anniversary traditions. At first, I said no, but then I remembered how much we love to reminisce about our wedding day each year! We talk about how much fun we had, and often share anecdotes the other might not remember. Like Sarah and Steven, we did not do a first look, and I also remember the exact moment the church doors opened. Sarah said, and I couldn’t agree more, that “I still get butterflies when I think about it. That memory will carry us through a lifetime of ups and downs.” I’m sure that was only the beginning, and that their intimate reception Coosaw Point RiverClub was filled with even more memories to be shared for years to come!

Thanks to Rach Loves Troy for sharing this sweet day with us!

I found my dress at a small boutique in Charleston with my bridesmaids, aunt, and mother. I tried on so many dresses, but none of them felt like me. Then, I put on this interesting two-piece dress, and that was it–game over. It was beautiful! The fitted underlay was stunning under the detailed overlay, giving the dress a very romantic feel while still showing off my figure.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It sounds so cliché, but everything really was perfect! Seeing everything finally come together was amazing. I think the flowers were our favorite detail–they were above and beyond beautiful, and really added a romantic feel to our bohemian-inspired wedding.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We went back and forth on this decision! Part of us wanted that private moment to enjoy each other and take it all in, but the other part of us wanted that grand moment when the doors opened and we could see each other for the first time in front of friends and family. We decided that it was too special not to have the big moment in front of those gorgeous wooden church doors! We could not have been happier with our decision to stay traditional.

We chose the historic St. Peter’s Catholic Church in beautiful downtown Beaufort for its Southern character and charm. The newly restored church is just breathtaking and has a very intimate feel, which was important for our small wedding! Our reception was held at the Coosaw Point RiverClub. We love this venue and the incredible views it offers. We knew the second we got engaged that the RiverClub was where we wanted to celebrate our big day!

For the reception, I went with a fun, fitted gown with a deep v-neck and ruffled straps. It was perfect for dancing the night away!

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Thankfully, our venue was fully furnished and gorgeous, and the colors tied in so well with our color scheme that we didn’t need to do much! We kept everything very simple, not wanting to overwhelm the venue with too much detail. Flowers and greenery were really our only decorations.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our first dance song was “Nothing Can Change This Love” by Sam Cooke. We went through so many different options for our first dance and would settle on one for a month or so until something else came along. We knew we didn’t want a really popular song–we wanted it to feel like ours. We came across this 1963 song by Sam Cooke and thought it was perfect–upbeat but slow enough to dance to, and everything we wanted to say to each other. The song I danced with my dad to was “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, which was the same song my sisters danced to with him, so I thought it would be sweet to finish off the tradition! Steven danced with his mother to “Days like This” by Van Morrison. When his mother sent me this song, I melted! I really could not have picked a sweeter song for them.


Our cake was incredible–I must have eaten four or five pieces! It was a simple, whipped buttercream, three-tiered cake with a combination of chocolate and strawberry shortcake layers. It was nice to be able to give our guests a choice for their dessert that night.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in the summer of 2010 and talked a little, but it wasn’t until a few months later that we reconnected on Facebook. After a cheesy exchange online, he asked for my number. I was starting my first year at college and he was in his second year at another university. The following year, he transferred to the same school as me, and the rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! Steven planned a trip for our four-year anniversary to Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. We planned to visit tons of waterfalls and had the maps to all of them ready to go, but somehow, we spent most of the day riding up and down the mountain, getting lost! It was getting late when we stumbled across a beautiful waterfall in a secluded part of the mountain, which is where Steven asked me to be his wife! It was incredible!
When did y’all get married? June 4, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 80
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? In preparation for our big day, we went to a premarital counseling course. During the all-day session, we learned about each other’s love languages, talked about when we would want children, how we want to handle finances, etc. It was great to see that we were on the same page in so many of the important aspects of marriage.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Definitely the financial stress of planning a wedding. We tried really hard to be realistic about the cost of things, but weddings aren’t cheap! We would come to terms with the price of one thing only to be hit in the face with the price of another. Steven was amazing and just kept reassuring me that it would all be worth it. Don’t tell him I said this, but he was right!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Ashley Rhodes, our wedding planner! She planned both of my sisters’ weddings and it was really amazing to have her there to help marry off the last Gresham girl. There really are no words great enough for the job she did!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Easy–when the church doors opened and we finally got to see each other. I wouldn’t trade that moment for anything, I still get butterflies when I think about it. That memory will carry us through a lifetime of ups and downs.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? After almost six years together, we are excited about starting a family together!

Photographer: Rach Loves Troy Photography | Planner: Ashley Rhodes Event Designs | Ceremony Venue: St. Peter’s Historic Church | Reception Venue: Coosaw Point RiverClub | Florist: Creative Floral | Cake Baker: AMC Confections | Caterer: Southern Graces | Rentals: Amazing Rentals | DJ: Epic Charleston | Paper Products: Murrs Printing | Bride’s Gown: “Ti Adora” by Alvina Valenta | Hair and Makeup: Orchid Salon | Bride’s Shoes: Mark Fisher | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Cate Lyon | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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With school starting in the coming weeks, it’s inevitable that fall is right around the corner. I am all for pumpkin-everything, but Kristen and Rick’s wedding has me hanging onto sweet summer days for just a bit longer. With the help of A Fox Event, Kristen and Rick planned an intimate summer soirée at the Legare Waring House that allowed them to spend a bit of extra time with each guest (and stretch their budget a bit further!). With personal details weaved throughout, like Japanese Aralia leaves from her mother’s garden, and fun pineapple decor sprinkled into their classic design, I can see why Kristin’s joyful smile went from ear-to-ear!

Big SW hugs to Jennings King for capturing Kristin and Rick’s wedding day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I knew I wanted a full skirt and I sure did not compromise! I expected to choose a very simple, classic style, but instead, I fell in love with the rich lace bodice on my dress as soon as I tried it on. It was a very special moment that I was lucky enough to share with my mom, sisters, mother-in-law, and cousins.

I wanted a wild-looking, white, summery bouquet full of variety and greenery. Fox Events made me a gorgeous bouquet of peonies, astilbe, tulips, and a variety of garden roses, plus peach Juliet garden roses for a small pop of color. The greens included seeded eucalyptus, Italian ruscus, and smilax, and we added a Japanese Aralia leaf from my mom’s garden!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? I felt very strongly about Rick seeing me for the first time as I made my way down the aisle, and he felt the same way, so we opted to keep it traditional. Because we had plenty of evening sunlight to work with in June, we did not have to worry about having our photos done before the ceremony. I absolutely loved seeing him tear up!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I strove to contract all local businesses and tried to find vendors who used local products. For example, Salthouse Catering’s menu was farm-to-table and seasonal, and ICEBOX offered local beer and liquor companies such as Palmetto Brewery and Striped Pig. The groom and groomsmen’s bowties were handmade in Mount Pleasant, and the maids gifts came from Spartina 449 of Daufuskie Island. Also Southern was our married monogram featured in different places, such as above the porch door, on the cocktail napkins, and on our champagne flutes (I also wore my maiden monogram as I got ready for the day). We had a classic coconut cake which is “very Charleston” and so delicious. The night before the wedding, we cut Japanese Aralia leaves from my mom’s garden. We used one in my bouquet and put one on each place setting. It was a really simple way to make my bouquet and the tablescapes more dramatic and personally significant (I carried a bit of my mom down the aisle with me!). And of course, the symbol of hospitality–the pineapple–was placed throughout the venue decor.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We married on a Friday evening and saved an enormous amount! I also had my envelopes hand-lettered by Whitlock Design (on Etsy) instead of calligraphed, and I ordered my veil through Etsy. I also replaced some florals with lanterns (and pineapples, of course!). Lastly, instead of renting a dance floor, we arranged the tables so that there was enough space to dance on the venue’s existing patio.

By far, our favorite detail of the wedding was the beautiful cafe lighting over our reception. The weather worked in our favor and we were lucky enough to forgo a tent, which allowed for the historic home at our venue to serve as a gorgeous backdrop. The openness of the patio space complete with the cafe lighting gave the reception a very romantic, summery feel. My favorite personal detail of the wedding was incorporating my beloved grandmothers, who have both passed away, into the ceremony. I wore pink wedding shoes in honor of my mom’s mom, and my paternal grandmother’s chaplain married us. I also tied both late grandmothers’ wedding rings to my bouquet, and my sisters wore them the rest of the night following the ceremony.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We first met at Stratton Mountain in Vermont as teenagers. Rick was competing in a snowboarding event and I was there with a close friend of mine. Rick and I realized that we hit the slopes at the same home mountain, and over the next few years, we unexpectedly ran into each other time after time. In the spring of my senior year of high school, we reconnected when Rick suggested we meet for coffee. We began dating shortly after I began my freshman year of college, and despite several intervals of living a great distance from each other, we’ve been together ever since!
Tell us all about the proposal! Rick had my ring hidden under our bed for almost six months prior to proposing. There were many nights when it almost came out early, but he had made arrangements to fly us home to celebrate with friends and family just a few days after the proposal, so he held off. Rick had made a reservation at a historic brunch spot nestled in a canyon of the Santa Monica Mountains (we currently live in California). After a beautiful drive up oceanside cliffs, we entered the tranquility of the inner canyon, golden with the season of fall. Under a giant California oak, Rick went down on one knee. We reveled in our brunch, knowing the exciting secret we were keeping from those around us. A few days later, we flew to Charleston to celebrate with family and friends.
When did y’all get married? June 10, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 95
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My cousin recited Romans 12:9-16. It will always remind us to grow our love sincerely by putting each other first, and ourselves second.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Rick and I had a classical guitarist play traditional music for the ceremony; I walked down the aisle with my dad to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Our first dance was to “Forever and Ever, Amen” by Randy Travis. We are big classic country fans and just love this song! Rick and I traveled to Austin last year and learned to two-step, which was super fun. I love to slow dance, so I chose “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton for our last dance. It was so romantic and one of my very favorite memories of the night.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We discussed in detail how and when to merge our finances and invest in our future together. We spent a lot of time setting financial and personal goals as a couple.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? You may feel rushed in the beginning of planning to secure your vendors, but I think it is really important to consider your desired guest count first. Holding a more intimate wedding allowed us to have more time with each guest, which was priceless. It also allowed our budget to go further and include extra personal details and a few splurges.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Rick and I are finally enjoying post-wedding and post-graduate school tranquility! We are working hard to save for a home and relocate back to the South. We look forward to spending time with each other and our families, and perhaps starting a family of our own down the road.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? It was important to us that guests treated our ceremony as a worship, despite it being outside of a church. We also wanted to see guests’ faces instead of cameras and phones as we walked up the aisle for the first time as newlyweds. We were inspired by Southern Weddings’ “Unplugged Wedding” post and wrote our own notecards, which we affixed to the back of every seat. It was a huge success!

Photographer: Jennings King Photography | Planner and Florist: Fox Events | Venue: Legare Waring House | Cake Baker: Mirabelle Bakery | Caterer: Salthouse Catering | Rentals: Eventhaus Rentals, Ooh! Events, and Polished! | Linens: Connie Duglin | Lighting: Innovative Event Services | DJ: Rob Duren Productions | Wooden Monogram: Jasmine Wood Crafts | Paper Products: Paperwhites | Bride’s Gown: Augusta Jones | Bridal Salon: Gown Boutique of Charleston | Bride’s Hair Comb: Bridal House of Charleston | Bride’s Veil: Blanca Veils | Bride’s Earrings: Julie Vos | Hair and Makeup: Paper Dolls | Bride’s Shoes: “Thora” by Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan | Menswear: The Black Tux | Bow Ties and Pocket Squares: Barry Beaux | Bartenders: Icebox | Transportation: Lowcountry Valet & Shuttle Co. | Envelope Lettering: WhitlockDesign | Guitarist: Nikolai Svishev | Officiant: Charleston Wedding Officiant

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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