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Wedding planning is filled with so many decisions, some more stressful than others. But, of course, the biggest choice you’re making is to spend your life with one another! Diane’s favorite part of the ceremony she and Mark crafted themselves was “You fell in love by chance, but you’re here today because you’re making a choice. You both are choosing each other.” Another wedding decision that fell in the easy-to-make category was their venue–Diane and Mark never looked at any other places, but knew The Bleckley Inn was they one for them. They personalized the beautiful space with DIY pieces created by Diane and her maid of honor, including that amazing ceremony backdrop–they handmade it to be over seven feet tall!

Thanks to Ryan & Alyssa for sharing Diane and Mark’s wedding with us!

I had tried on over 50 dresses and couldn’t find a dress that reflected my personality. I finally decided to try on dresses that were over my budget and came across a designer named Leanne Marshall. I tried on my dress and instantly fell in love. As I tried on more and more dresses, I found myself comparing every one to this dress. It was the perfect mix of romantic and fun, but best of all, IT HAD POCKETS!! It was unlike any dress I have ever seen. When people saw it, they all said the same thing: “That is such a Diane dress.” I felt like it was made for me.

Describe your wedding flowers. I love greenery and bouquets that look like you just walked through a garden and picked up flowers to bring home to your mother. My florist took my vision and ran with it. We used white spray roses, pale pink stock, seeded eucalyptus, silver dollar eucalyptus, dusty miller, hypericum berries, baby’s breath, wax flower, and spirea.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We decided to write the majority of our ceremony script, and while we were doing research, we came across some sweet lines to incorporate into the script. A personal favorite was, “You fell in love by chance, but you’re here today because you’re making a choice. You both are choosing each other. You’ve chosen to be with someone who enhances you, who makes you think, makes you smile, and makes every day brighter”.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Five years ago, I was a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding, which took place at The Bleckley, and I fell in love with it! When we got engaged, we did not look at any other venue. This was our first and only choice.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a bracelet from a bridesmaid. Another bridesmaid brought a blue garter that she had been worn at her wedding (which I was a part of and caught the bouquet at). My something old was a pair of antique earrings given to me by Mark’s mother, which had been worn by his grandmother. The new item I wore was a wedding gift from Mark. He surprised me with a Clemson class ring, which I have always wanted.

My matron of honor is the most amazing baker and cake artist. She came up with a remarkable design based off of my love of Aztec and geometrical design. There were three separate cakes, and each tier differed in size, texture, and technique. My favorite feature was the way she hand-painted a beautiful watercolor design on wafer paper, which she then transferred to the bottom tier of one cake. The cake we cut in to was a vanilla cake with fresh strawberries and strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream, topped with a white chocolate drip. The other cakes were a mix of vanilla cake with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream and chocolate cake with dark chocolate fudge buttercream.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. It all started in the summer of 2007. Mark and I were both students at Clemson University and applied for a bartending position at a bar/restaurant that was opening up in downtown. We worked side by side for two years and casually hung out with the same crowd. One day, a coworker jokingly sent a flirtatious text to me from Mark’s phone, which sparked an exchange of messages and funny conversations. Over the course of a few weeks, we started seeing each other in a different light. We began dating in early 2009 and became inseparable. We maintained a long distance relationship while I finished my last semester in Clemson. After graduation, I had a big decision to make: move back home to Charleston, or head up North to Virginia with no job and no friends and take a chance on this relationship. It was the best decision I ever made. After six years of dating, two years of living together and raising a stubborn but adorable little French bulldog, Mark popped the question!
Tell us about the proposal! On a random Sunday afternoon, I had been out photographing a maternity shoot. When I arrived home, I gathered my equipment and walked towards the door leading into the kitchen. As soon as I grabbed the handle, something caught my eye–there was a note stuck to the door. It read: “10 Reasons I Love You. Please take your time and read each one before proceeding. I love you! -Mark.” I opened the kitchen door to find a bunch of rose petals creating a path for me to follow. As I made my way into the kitchen, I found the next note: “You are naturally beautiful. You look gorgeous with or without makeup. I love you!” As I continued to follow the path, the notes just kept getting better, and I started to realize that this was not just a sweet gesture–it was much more. The last note was at the opening to the living room. I turned the corner and the world around me melted away. There was Mark down on one knee. He started speaking, and I started crying. I dropped my camera equipment, and the words he had gone over and over in his head didn’t even sound like English to me. All I heard was “Will you marry me?” I fell to the floor and into Mark’s arms. I was so surprised and in shock. What went from an ordinary day of photography turned in to the most memorable day of my life. We popped a bottle of champagne and celebrated at an amazing dinner on the water.
When did y’all get married? April 23, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No, we did not do a first look. We wanted to wait until that perfect moment when our eyes met for the first time as I walked down the aisle. It was magical. He did not take his eyes off of me.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The triangle backdrop. My matron of honor and I came up with a design that would be the focal point of our ceremony backdrop. We measured, cut, nailed, painted, and screwed each triangle so that the whole thing would stand over seven feet tall. It was the largest puzzle I have ever done!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our food. We had shrimp and grits, pulled pork, BBQ pulled chicken, cornbread, and smoked gouda macaroni and cheese.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We saved money in many different ways. I am a graphic designer and DIY junkie, so between my creative MOH and me, we designed, created, and implemented every detail, from the invitations, to the koozies, to the table runners, to the triangle paper garland. We may have saved money, but we didn’t save time.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t procrastinate. Stay organized.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Starting a family.

Photographer: Ryan & Alyssa Photography | Planner: Kellie Conner of Jubliee Wedding and Events | Venue: The Bleckley Inn | Florist: Kimberly Cabe | Cake Baker: Jennifer Grove | Caterer: Sullivans Metropolitan Grill | Rentals: Event Rentals Anderson | Band: Six Stylez | Bride’s Gown: Leanne Marshall | Bride’s Shoes: Steve Madden | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan and Adrianna Papell | Menswear: Jos A. Bank | Cake Topper: Touch Of Clay by Dawn Stubitsch

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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Y’all, as I was reading through Abigail and Ben’s interview, I kept nodding my head and thinking “Yes! That’s it right there!” Everything about their wedding day was filled with intention and joy, from their venue choice (inspired by Abigail’s upbringing on a plantation surrounded by oak trees) to their advice for couples currently planning a wedding. They not only prepared for their wedding day, but prepared their hearts well for their marriage–Abigail said, “We wanted to be intentional with every detail, giving it great meaning to who we are together, but also who we are in Jesus.” From the looks of it, I’m sure guests would agree that they did an brilliant job!

Gracious, we’re thankful Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography was on hand to capture their sweet day!

Believe it or not, my dress was the first dress I ever tried on. I wasn’t certain what style I wanted, but I knew I wanted my dress to be timeless and elegant. I met my mom and grandmother in Raleigh to begin our search. At our first appointment, at Lana Addison Bridal in Cary, I showed the consultant a few different pictures of what I thought I may like. She brought me four different dresses. I tried the first dress on and could not stop smiling and twirling around. I looked at my mom and grandmother and said, “I think this is it.” They encouraged me to try the others on just to be sure. I tried them all, but didn’t feel like they were me. I tried on the first dress again and still loved it, but I began to second guess myself and ended up going to our second appointment. I tried on three other beautiful dresses there and got a bit overwhelmed. We decided to call it a day, and as soon as we walked out of the store, I looked at my mom and said, “We have to go back to Lana Addison, it has my dress.” I fell in love with it all over again–from the high neck line, to the combination of the soft lace and tulle, to the beaded waistline, it was perfect. I made the decision that I was only going to let my mom and grandmother see my dress. It made finding my dress and sharing that experience with two of the most special women in my life even sweeter, and I didn’t want to be swayed by the opinions of others. I wanted the first time my family, closest friends, and guests would see my dress to be when I was walking down the aisle to my groom.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Ben and I decided not to do a first look. We both wanted the first time we saw each other to be when I was walking down the aisle to marry him. We did, however, find a time before the ceremony to grab hands and pray with one another.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had one of our closest friends read 1 John 4:18-19. We chose this verse because it centered the entire day around Christ and we believe that without Christ loving us first, we would not be able to love one another. Another verse that is very important to us, Philippians 1:9-10, was on our dinner cards. We asked that our guest pray this verse over us and with us as we entered into marriage together.

We both liked the traditional vows, but also wanted to make them more personal and meaningful to us. We promised the same things to each other: “In the presence of God and according to his will I, Ben, take you, Abigail, to be my wife. I promise to love you, I promise to serve you, I promise to cherish you, as a testament to Jesus and his death on the cross, I give you my love.” We also wanted to affirm together the vows of having a Christian home. We were given this idea by our pastor and we loved it. “Depending upon God for strength and wisdom, do you both solemnly pledge yourselves to the establishment of a Christian home? Will you together, constantly seek God’s will and honor Christ in your marriage?”

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I knew I wanted to be married in my hometown, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and I knew I wanted it outside. I grew up on a plantation that is surrounded by the most beautiful oak trees and I always envisioned them in my wedding someday. When I told Darlene (a dear friend and my wedding planner) what I had envisioned for my day, she said she knew just the place, and told me about the Rose Hill Mansion. I looked it up and fell in love immediately. It had the oak trees with the beautiful hanging moss, enough space to create what we wanted from scratch, and we could have the reception there. I knew it was where I wanted to marry Ben and I booked it without even having seen it myself in person.

Our venue has a rich Southern history. It is an old cotton plantation and the mansion on the property has many antique artifacts to peruse inside. You can actually tour the mansion with the onsite staff and learn a lot about the history of the property and the people that lived there. It is an incredibly unique spot.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Flowers and decorations for sure! Jana Qualey and Bridget Short, who are dear friends to me, have their own side business called Little Vase Events, and let me tell you, they are the best of the best! We repurposed bridesmaids flowers and went out and collected all the oyster shells that we used on the tables. Our gold and white stripped napkins were made by Bridget and Jana themselves!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Keep things in perspective. Your wedding is one day, your marriage is for the rest of your life. When you get overwhelmed, step away and do something fun. Don’t lose your joy in what is such a sweet time of your life, or your sight on what is most important. I started journaling during our engagement, writing down my thoughts and feelings, memories, and all the reasons I love Ben and wanted to marry him. I gave it to him the week of our wedding and I love looking back at it and reliving those days and seeing him read those pages for the first time.

Don’t miss Abigail and Ben’s wedding film by Heart Stone Films below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ben would joke and say it was somewhat of an arranged marriage. Our brothers and Ben’s younger sister, who is also my best friend, had been trying to get the two of us together for years. Although I knew Ben’s whole family, it wasn’t until our sophomore year of college that we met for the first time at a mutual friend’s wedding. We crossed paths again a year later at Ben’s older brother Will’s wedding. This was the night Ben asked me to dance. I tease him now because he never called me after that night! Last year, I got a call from my friend to come visit with her in Greenville for a long weekend. I was living on Hilton Head Island at the time and I jumped at the chance to go and see her. I was unaware that only a few weeks before, Ben had moved to Greenville. I spent the whole weekend with them, and finally, Ben asked me out. When I had to head back home, Ben asked if he could still pursue me. I said yes, and we continued to talk and get to know each other. Soon after, I got a job in Greenville and made the move. Ben and I continued to grow closer to each other and the Lord, and now the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! My family has a house in the outer banks of North Carolina that has been in our family since before I was born, and it is one of my favorite places. My family typically goes there over the 4th of July, so this time was no different, except Ben would be there. Every morning I woke up while we were there, I had a letter slipped under my door. I didn’t think much of this, only because of how thoughtful Ben always is. On July 4th, Ben asked if I would take a walk out to the dock with him. We sat down at the end and talked for awhile. When we got up, Ben grabbed both my hands with the biggest smile. I knew what was happening and said to him, “Is this really it?!” After saying many sweet words, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. And I said YES! As soon as he was up and we were hugging, my brother ran down the dock with his phone (he was FaceTiming with Ben’s brother and his wife) to celebrate with us. My sister-in-law was snapping pictures and the rest of my family, who had been watching from the house, came out to hug us. Ben planned breakfast for dinner that night, my favorite. We made our way back to Greenville the next day and Ben told me there was one more surprise. When we got back home, we went to his brother’s house, where all our closest friends and family were waiting to celebrate with us!
When did y’all get married? November 14, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Ben and I decided soon into our engagement that we wanted to prepare more for our marriage than our wedding. The most important thing for us while planning our wedding was to create a beautiful and meaningful event that glorified the Lord and reflected who we are. We wanted to be intentional with every detail, giving it great meaning to who we are together, but also who we are in Jesus.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? My day would not have been the same without Callie Davis with Nancy Ray Photography. I can not sing their praises enough. Having Callie and Olivia there to capture our day honestly added even more joy to an incredibly joyful day. They took the time through the whole process to pour into me and make sure that everything was perfect and ready to go for my wedding day. I gained two sweet friendships.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Well, we’re getting a puppy in two months and can’t wait to have a furry friend in our family. We look forward to lots of adventures, learning new things about each other, and just getting to do life with each other. Ultimately, having children and raising them together excites us the most about our future. We aren’t ready yet, but our biggest dreams usually involve a house full of children.

Photographer: Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography | Videographer: Heart Stone Films | Planner: Darlene Cranston | Venue: Rose Hill Mansion | Florist: Little Vase Events | Cake Baker: Ronnie’s Bakery & Cakes by Lou | Caterer: Downtown Catering Company | Rentals and Lighting: Amazing Event Rentals | DJ: Will Krause | Paper Products: Swoozies | Bride’s Gown: Theia | Bride’s Accessories: The Poinsett Bride | Hair Stylist: Amber White at Kaleidoscope Salon | Makeup Artist: Bride’s Side Beauty | Bride’s Shoes: Sam Edelman | Menswear: Jos A. Bank

Nancy Ray Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar kelly reply

    Oh I just love the Nancy Ray team’s work! Such a beautiful wedding with the hanging moss, that gown, and the meaning behind it all.

  2. avatar Rose Hill Plantation Wedding – Southern Weddings Magazine – reply

    […] and Ben’s Rose Hill Plantation Wedding is featured on Southern Weddings Magazine! Yay!!! Alex was the lead filmmaker and editor for this gorgeous wedding and we are so excited for […]

  3. avatar 2016 Online Features Part 1 | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] and Ben’s Rose Hill Mansion Wedding Featured on Southern Weddings Photographer: Callie […]

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I love it when a tradition starts with only the bride or groom’s family, but then a wedding turns it into something that all their loved ones can enjoy. For Colleen and Nicholas, that’s Kiawah Island. Though Nicholas’ family had been vacationing there for years, after bringing Colleen along while dating, it became the perfect place for these two to celebrate their marriage. It didn’t hurt that as soon as they drove up to the Ocean Course on a post-engagement vacation, they knew it was the exact place where they wanted to share their love of Kiawah Island and each other with their friends and family! A clear-top tent, an abundance of beautiful blooms by Fox Events, and plenty of sweet Southern sunshine later, and I’m sure all the guests in attendance will be itching to create their own traditions on the island, too!

Thanks to Tim Willoughby for capturing this beautiful day!

My dress was actually one of the first ones I tried on. I was so excited to try on wedding dresses, so my mom and I went to Saks right away, just for fun! We weren’t expecting that I would find my dress so quickly, but as soon as I put it on, I absolutely loved it. I went to a few other appointments just to make sure, but ended up coming back to the first one I loved!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We had a really hard time deciding if we wanted to do a first look, but we ended up doing one. We were so happy we did! It was really special to have our first moment together on our wedding day be for just the two of us (and our little yorkie, who made an appearance for some pictures). It gave us the opportunity to take a lot of our pictures before the reception so we could enjoy as much of the celebration as possible, and also made us much less nervous for the ceremony.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows, but we had one of our close mutual friends officiate our wedding, which added a special and personal touch to the ceremony.

Nick has been going to Kiawah with his family since he was a kid, and we all went there together a couple of times when we started dating. We were there on vacation a few weeks after we got engaged and decided to look at some venues. As soon as we drove up to the Ocean Course, we knew that’s where we wanted to get married! It was so much fun to be able to share one of our favorite places with all of our friends and family for the weekend.

The one thing I knew I wanted at our wedding was tons of flowers! We went with a neutral palette of white and light pink with some pops of blue and lots of greens. Our wedding planner also did all of our flowers–she and her team did an amazing job! When Nick and I walked into our tent for the first time, we were so happy with how beautiful it looked.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? All the dancing. Our wedding band, ATL Groove Factory, was absolutely amazing and had everyone on the dance floor the entire night! For our after-party, a good friend of ours from NYC who is a DJ kept the dancing going. We had so much fun with everyone!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Nick and I both went to Cornell, but somehow never met, even though we have a ton of mutual friends. After college, we were both living in New York, and I went to a 4th of July party in the Hamptons that ended up being at a house Nick and his friends were renting that summer. After we spent the day together, Nick asked me to go out again the next day in the city. After that, we were pretty much inseparable!
Tell us all about the proposal! A couple of summers ago, we were spending a week out on the North Fork of Long Island. We made a nice dinner to have outside at sunset, but I noticed Nick wasn’t eating anything. He said he needed to go inside and grab some balsamic vinegar to add to the food, but instead, he came back outside, got down on one knee, and proposed!!
When did y’all get married? October 10, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 190
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: There are so many little details, but one of the best were the two big swings we had on the edge of the dance floor. They looked beautiful and everyone had so much fun on them! I also loved the chandeliers that we hung from the top of the tent.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did. My twin sister let me borrow the sapphire and diamond earrings she wore for her wedding day, and I wore blue satin shoes to take care of my something borrowed and something blue. My mother and my mother-in-law both provided pieces of lace from their wedding dresses that were wrapped around my bouquet as something old, and I wore a bracelet Nick gave me the morning of our wedding as something new.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The most difficult part of getting married on Kiawah Island was figuring out transportation for all the guests, since there wasn’t one main hotel where the majority of guests were staying. Somehow, our wedding planner and our families managed to figure out where everyone was staying and get everyone to the wedding on time.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our wedding planner, Lauren Fox. We knew planning our wedding in Kiawah from NYC would be a little more difficult, but Lauren made everything so much easier. I always say I would re-plan our wedding all over again because that’s how enjoyable Lauren made the whole process!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We just moved to a new apartment in Brooklyn, so we’re just enjoying married life in our new neighborhood. And we’re hoping to grow our family soon!

Photographer: Tim Willoughby | Videographer: Hart to Heart | Planner and Florist: Fox Events | Venue and Caterer: The Ocean Course | Wedding Cake Baker: Jim Smeal | Rentals: Snyder Events and Ooh! Events | Lighting: Technical Event Company | Band: ATL Groove Factory | Paper Products: Studio R Design | Bride’s Gown: “Cora” by Austin Scarlett | Bride’s Jewelry: Zoe Chicco | Hair Stylist: Charlotte Belk, Wedding Hair by Charlotte | Makeup Artist: Pamela Lesch | Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale in Navy Blue | Menswear: J. Crew

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar elaine reply

    Where is her reception dress from?!? Amazing!

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