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When it comes to the many things that make a wedding Southern, the most obvious one is the geographical location, of course! Kara and Philip had that in the bag when they chose to tie the knot at Colleton River Plantation on Hilton Head Island. Though a Pennsylvania native, Kara grew up traveling to her family’s vacation home on the island, so to her, it is a place “that signifies family, joy, memories, and endless beauty.” Kara and Philip worked with their planner, Embellished Events, to create an open-air party where no walls could block the beautiful views. I’m sure this day began a whole new chapter of joyful memories on Hilton Head for this sweet couple!

We’re sure happy Tim Will was there to capture this lovely day!

Describe your wedding flowers. My flowers were untamed and gorgeous! They had an English garden feel, and were full of peaches, sages, and pinks, grounded in soft whites and finished with ribbon I found during my travels to India. The ribbons were used in all the bouquets, garlands, and table arrangements. Branches on Hilton Head Island captured my vision so beautifully.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not; we chose to say the traditional vows instead. We felt these timeless words captured all we wanted to say.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had beautiful readings from the Bible. I particularly loved the Gospel reading from Mark, that included the verse, “They are no longer two but one flesh, therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Wow, those words have gravity!

On our wedding day, we surprised our guests with the sounds of local Gullah singers harmonizing with joy to “Oh Happy Day” as we departed the church. We also hand-dipped oyster shells in gold and embellished each with a pearl for our escort cards. Guests could take these home as a way to remember the place and the day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I grew up traveling to my family’s vacation home on Hilton Head Island, so it has always been a place that signifies family, joy, memories, and endless beauty to me.

We chose to avoid the cost of a tent, and with the suggestion of my planner, Jennifer Leiti, we chose to have an open-air party under café lighting. We were so happy we did because the environment was the reason I picked this location. There were no walls to block the beautiful, expansive views of the sunset over the river. Thankfully, despite some early morning rain, we were blessed with good weather that day.

My wedding cake was a simple, white, tiered cake with ruffled fondant and some pretty flowers in the colors of my bouquet placed up each tier. The best part was really what was inside–it was decadent! Each layer had a different filling. Minette Rushing from Savannah Custom Cakes is a baking genius!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in college. We lived in the same dorm, and then in the same apartment building. Two years after college, only after a big separation, did we realize our friendship was actually love. This has been true ever since and will be for the rest of our lives!
Tell us all about the proposal! We first talked about getting married around a year or so ago while on a trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It was the first time Phil had ever been there, and I was overjoyed to be talking about our future marriage in this very special place. However, it was not until a very cold visit to Cape May, New Jersey that Phil decided to sneak a ring into my purse to be found at any time. We were sitting in a crowded bar and I was fishing around in my bag for something or other when I felt a little box…I think I knew what it was right away, and quickly looked up at Phil’s smiling face. I told him I wanted to move to our room for some privacy, where, conveniently, there was a bottle of champagne awaiting our arrival. Phil got down on one knee as I had always envisioned and the rest is history.
When did y’all get married? May 30, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my dress in a shop called Elizabeth Johns Ardmore, Pennsylvania, right outside of my home city of Philadelphia. The dress was designed by Lela Rose and I felt it reflected me and my style, and it would complement the beautiful surroundings and climate of my Southern wedding.
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not. Seeing my soon-to-be spouse for the first time at the end of the aisle is a beautiful tradition we wanted to experience.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My shoes had blue soles, I wore a delicate strand of pearls that were given to me as a baby, I borrowed my sister’s wedding garter, and everything else was new.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Communicate with each other early and often, and don’t lose sight of what is important.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We would love to move to a new home, plant some deeper roots there, and start a family.

Photographer: Tim Willoughby | Videographer: Hart to Heart | Planner: Embellished Events | Ceremony Venue: St. Gregory the Great | Reception Venue and Catering: Colleton River Plantation | Florist: Branches | Cake Baker: Savannah Custom Cakes | Rentals: Event Haus | Band: Fantastic Voyage Band | Gospel Choir: Voices of El Shaddai Ensemble | Bride’s Gown: Lela Rose | Hair and Makeup: Christine Stephens | Bride’s Shoes: Betsey Johnson | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew

marissa Written with love by Marissa

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Abby and David deeply desire to “live their lives in a way that leaves a legacy of compassion,” and they wanted their wedding to be a reflection of intentionality and authenticity. I think it’s safe to say that this worthy goal was definitely felt throughout their sweet wedding day! Abby and David hosted their guests at Abby’s beautiful family home, where it was easy to create a comfortable and welcoming environment. Abby’s mama, the owner of Brown Eyed Girl Antiques, helped them bring their eclectic aesthetic to life while focusing on keeping guests warm and cozy, complete with family quilts, warm cider, and lots of fire pits for chatting around. If their ear-to-ear smiles are any indication, I’m sure guests were ever so grateful for this hospitality!

Thanks to Someplace Wild for sharing this lovely day with us!

Shortly after David proposed, my family traveled to St. Augustine, Florida where my mom, sister, stepdad, and I went to a few local wedding shops. Choosing my dress was one of the fastest decisions of the wedding planning process! At one store, the owner said she knew just the dress for me. I walked out wearing it, my stepdad got teary-eyed, and I knew that was the one. I had never seen him cry in my life! It was also the perfect fit–I was able to buy it off the rack, which was good because our engagement was only five months long. When we returned to our car, I looked through my wedding folder and found a magazine page of the EXACT dress I had just purchased. It was definitely meant to be!

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I loved being able to have Someplace Wild as our photographer. Christina has an amazing talent of making everyone feel comfortable. I can see every emotion in the faces of guests that she captured. Having her present during my wedding day was a complete joy. I will cherish what she created for years to come.

We had a lot of music throughout the ceremony. David is a musician so this was his area of expertise. We chose “Found a Heart” by Emily Hearn while the bridal party walked down the aisle–we love this song because it really expresses the excitement and magnitude of the wedding day.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We chose to reserve our first look for the ceremony. It took my breath away to see him as I walked down the aisle, and made that moment really special!

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I think the key to saving money was keeping the guest list to an intimate size. This was difficult to do, but really helped in the end.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We got married at my family home. It created a comfortable and cherished environment for our wedding day!

My favorite detail of the wedding was having it in my family home and how much of an impact my mom’s decorative style had on the evening. She owns an antique booth called Brown Eyed Girl Antiques, so she was able to salvage and create various environments throughout the night. My favorite pieces were the lanterns with lit candles hanging in the trees! She was a part of every detail and her industrial, eclectic style shined throughout the night. We had a wonderful time working together as a family to create this weekend, with surprisingly minimal arguments :) Many guests stayed late into the night visiting and socializing, even after we had departed. This was a great aspect of having an at-home wedding.

We had a very bohemian-styled cake, courtesy of Caken’ it Easy, that was a textured, three-tiered cake in a classic white with mossy green accents. Lynn Bottoms and Betty Cox, who are local family friends, also made their specialty desserts and added variety to the selection!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The meal was provided by ROUX, a local Southern restaurant. We served cajun shrimp and grits and Lowcountry boil on vintage Blue Willow plates. My stepdad, grandfather, and a local carpenter built a wooden cross as the centerpiece for the ceremony. The wood was obtained from the floor of an old local barn. We provided hand-sewn quilts for our guests as they sat during the ceremony. I gave my bridesmaids vintage brooches to place in their bouquets. I picked them based on personality, hoping they could wear these brooches again! We also had fire pits throughout the yard for guests to sit around and enjoy watching the dancing!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. David and I met through mutual friends at a wedding. I snuck over to his table and ended up spending the majority of the night talking with him! He instantly caught me off guard with his humor and genuine demeanor–I wasn’t even afraid to tell him about my fear of wearing red at weddings or that I had almost read the COMPLETELY wrong scripture during the ceremony (John and 1 John…there is a difference). From the beginning, our friendship was simple and real. We continued to see each other at various events over the next few months. I literally lit up inside every time I saw him, but neither of us had decided to pursue one another quite yet…..until the marriage of the previously mentioned mutual friends! At their wedding, David finally asked for my number and called a few days later. Our first date was at La Fonda, where we spent hours trying to decide what to order between our endless chatter and laughter. We went with the chicken tacos, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! One of the things on our dating bucket list was to hike Stone Mountain and watch the sunrise. David picked me up one Sunday morning at 5:42. I don’t even think I brushed my hair that day…too early. We started our hike around 6:30 am. About halfway up the mountain, I began wondering if maybe we should call it a day and watch the sunrise from the bottom, but David quickly persuaded me to keep going. The view from the top was beautiful, and we picked a rock to sit on and enjoy the sunrise. At one point, I asked David if he had any water in the backpack he had carried up the mountain. He looked at me and said, “No, but you know what I do have in this backpack?” He then got down on one knee with a ring and asked me to be his WIFE! After a few seconds of elation, I turned around to find a few of our best friends, who had trekked up the mountain before dawn to surprise me! As if that was not enough, David had planned a surprise breakfast with our close friends and family when we hiked back down. I cannot tell you how many times I cried tears of joy on this day!
When did y’all get married? November 15, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We had meetings with our pastor for premarital counseling and also read the book “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller. A lot of our focus was on our marriage–we really did not fret over details of the wedding. With the help of our family, I knew it would all come together just as it was meant to.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I would say my most memorable moment was my stepfather and dad walking me down the aisle. My parents separated when I was five years old. A few years later, my mom remarried and my stepdad came into the picture. My stepdad has been a rock in my life and is the most dependable man I know. My father and him get along well, and my dad has also been very active and supportive in my life. Their relationship has always been jovial and supportive. Having these two walk me down the aisle was a great moment of healing and happiness for me and my family. Also, my stepdad is a man of few words. He has always been the provider and “go-getter” rather than the “let’s talk about it” type. He made it clear he wasn’t wanting to make a speech, and requested that my mother give the welcome speech for both of them! This was fine with me, and the planning continued. However, midway through dinner the night of the wedding, my stepdad stood up and asked for the crowd’s attention. I thought he was going to make a general statement about where to go once dinner was completed. Instead, he gave the most eloquent, authentic speech about how proud he was of me and how supportive he was of our marriage. Almost every guest was left speechless and teary-eyed. It was standing ovation-worthy. I will never forget it!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We want to leave a legacy of compassion. We want to be remembered as a couple who cares and who can be dependable in a time of need. We want to be remembered as intentional and authentic. I hope the details of our wedding captured this, but we also try to live this principle out in our daily lives as well.

Photographer: Christina Devictor / Planner: Beth Miller and Laura Hintz / Venue: Private residence / Florist: Funky Mountain Flowers / Wedding Cake: Cake’n It Easy / Caterer: Roux on Canton / Rentals: Tents, Tents, Tents / Lighting and Special Details: Brown Eyed Girl Antiques / Music: Jim Drennan and Tory Fallis / DJ: Omar of Spectrum Events / Hair and Makeup: Elle Cardenas / Bride’s Shoes: Antonio Melani / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Style #F15555 in Mercury by David’s Bridal / Menswear: The Black Tux

marissa Written with love by Marissa

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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I’m sure that none of our love stories happened exactly the way we may have grown up expecting them to, and in Elisa and Craig’s cases, Instagram certainly wasn’t where they imagined they’d someday meet their future spouse! When they finally met face to face, however, their connection was undeniable–Craig knew as soon as he asked Elisa to be his girlfriend that he’d someday ask her to be his wife. While these two are no stranger to the challenges of a long distance relationship, it made their Gatsby-inspired Chapel Hill wedding day all the more special and sweet…though their chocolate wedding cake, passed cupcakes, and milkshake shooters certainly contributed to the sweetness factor, too!

P.S. If Elisa and Craig look familiar, it may be because they’re gracing the back cover of V8! So fun!

Thank you so much to Grain & Compass for sharing this gorgeous day with us!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I don’t think either one of us expected to meet in such a unique way. In 2013, my husband, Craig, and I met on Instagram, as crazy as that sounds. He was living in Los Angeles at the time and I was interning in New York City. We had one mutual acquaintance on Instagram, and from the follow, to likes, to comments, our interest grew. In fact, we still have the screenshot of our first exchange. After texting turned into phone calls and phone calls turned into “FaceTime dates”, Craig flew from Los Angeles to NYC to meet me in person and take me on our first real date. That weekend was its own fairy tale. Without a dull moment, we spent our days exploring museums, going to a Mets baseball game, kayaking on the Hudson River, and eating our way through the Big Apple. Craig asked me that weekend to be his girlfriend. I would later find out that in that moment, he knew he was going to marry me. After a year of dating 3000 miles apart, I finished school and moved to Los Angeles to be with him. Our long distance journey to marriage has given us such beautiful perspective, because we now know that simply being in each other’s company is a blessing to treasure each day we are together.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding my wedding dress was something I had always imagined doing with my mom. However, my living across the country from her in Los Angeles did not make this easy, as traveling back and forth was not very ideal or cost-effective. Since we got engaged right before Thanksgiving, Craig and I spent the holiday in North Carolina and my mom was able to reserve just one bridal appointment at Tre Bella in Durham, an hour before our engagement session was to begin. At one point, I tried on the dress I had not pulled and was weary about, stepped out, and saw my mom’s face. This dress was so classic, elegant, and simple in comparison to what I has walked in thinking I would want. But from the classic silhouette, to the soft, flowing fabric, to the Gatsby-esque beading up the back and on the shoulders, I realized this was it. I never expected to find my wedding dress after only 45 minutes of looking!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We chose to do a first look and we wouldn’t have had it any other way! To be able to share an intimate moment before the wedding just talking, laughing, and treasuring the time leading up to becoming husband and wife allowed us to share the whole day together. It also allowed us to take most of our formal pictures before the ceremony, which gave us more time to sneak away after and share a quiet moment eating some small appetizers and sharing our first drink as a married couple together. It was perfect.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My mom handmade two amazing wreaths for the doors we stood in front of for the ceremony out of gold-painted magnolia leaves she collected from the yard. She put so much love and time into them and they were stunning!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I knew that I wanted to walk down the aisle to a song that pointed to the reason for our marriage and the importance of the covenant we were about to make. Craig’s talented groomsmen, Justin Gaston and Ben Schofield, performed the song “I am Set Free” by All Sons and Daughters. After the unity candle lighting, we had both families, as well as the bridal party, surround us in prayer. During this moment, Craig’s brother and sister-in-law performed Craig’s favorite hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” reminding us and everyone that our faithfulness to each other is based on how ever faithful God is to us. We were so thankful to have so many friends share their amazing musical talents with us to make our day so special.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Using my parents’ vows as a guide, we wrote our own version of their wedding vows. We really value those vows because we admire both sets of our parents’ commitment and love for each other, and also how their marriage points to their individual relationships with God. A line from our vows that I love is, “to give my life to you by listening and empathizing with you, encouraging and enabling you, believing in you and in what Christ is doing through you.”

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We were both raised in the South–Craig in New Orleans and me in North Carolina. We really wanted a venue with rich Southern history and beautiful grounds for our guests to enjoy! With guests traveling from all over, many from LA, we also wanted to minimize any travel between hotels and venues. We decided on the most amazing place that has it all: The Carolina Inn. As soon as we stepped into the Old Well Room (after we booked it from LA, I might add–another win for pictures and my amazing mom!), we knew it really was perfect for our elegant, Gatsby affair!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Craig has an amazing friend and pastor from college who really walked us through the goal and meaning of marriage leading up to our wedding. We were challenged to identify how our parents influenced us, as well as our own experiences, habits, and expectations. The greatest thing we focused on was preparing to become a unified team founded on love and respect–when a wife is loved, she feels respected, and when a husband is respected, he feels loved.

Tell us all about the proposal! From Craig: I knew I wanted to create a really special moment for the proposal. We had been planning on going to a Christmas tree lighting at the Grove here in LA with a few friends when one of them mentioned that they do an epic fireworks show there, too. If anyone knows my wife, they know she LOVES fireworks. Since there was a group of us going, I told a few of our friends my plan: distract her for long enough to get in position, pull out the ring, and drop on one knee in front of everyone as soon as the fireworks started to go off. I knew this was going to be really tough because we would be hanging out for a while and I didn’t want anyone to break down and give it away–not to mention, being a wreck trying to keep the secret myself. The night came and went like a flash. Before I knew it, the tree was lit and it was time for the fireworks show. There I was, in the center of a sea of thousands with booming lights all around, asking the girl of my dreams to marry me. Several stutters later and not without plenty of iPhone photos and videos from both strangers and friends, I was an engaged man.
When did y’all get married? April 17, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Just under 200
Describe your wedding flowers. My vision for the day was a classic, elegant, Gatsby affair. We chose black, gold, and white as our colors–this made my husband and in-laws, who are from New Orleans, very happy, because they just so happen to match the New Orleans Saints colors. It was a win-win for everyone in my book! I knew I wanted to keep the florals elegant and simple, with light yellow and white bouquets and a touch of greenery.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I wanted our wedding cake to be classic and match our aesthetic, but most importantly, I wanted the inside to be chocolate! We designed a two-tiered cake with a hand-painted gold base and a white top, joined by a fondant black stripe and white geometric piping. In addition, we passed out plates and plates of chocolate and yellow cake cupcakes with white frosting and gold dust sprinkled on top, letting everyone know it was party time! Our love of desserts did not stop there–milkshake shooters and hot cookies were enjoyed by all to keep the sugar rush high and the feet on the dance floor!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed my sister-in-law’s veil, as well as my bridesmaid’s earrings. I also had my grandmother’s diamonds with me. We had always talked about my wedding when I was growing up, and she passed away the day after my wedding.
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? Our greatest advice would be to trust the experience of the vendors you have chosen and give them freedom to shine in their skills. Our vision was clear for each selection that was made, but the results of our planning, decoration, hair, makeup, photography, florals, stationery, etc. was because we let our vendors run with our ideas instead of keeping them bound by only are ideas or concepts.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? For us right now, it’s building our life together in Los Angeles. We are both pursuing our passions and there’s no telling what the future holds. I’m sure there will be many trips back to our Southern roots in Louisiana and North Carolina, as well as abroad–we are excited for our 2016 trip to Europe!

Photographer and Videographer: Grain and Compass / Planner: Erin McLean Events / Venue and Caterer: The Carolina Inn / Florist: Barbara Long / Cake Baker: Once in a Blue Moon / Rentals: CE Rental / DJ: The Local DJ / Paper Products: Alissa Bell Press / Bride’s Gown: “Selia” by St. Patrick / Bride’s Hair Accessories: Yes Dear & Co. / Hair and Makeup: Lula Hair and Makeup / Bride’s Shoes: Nina / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Sleeveless Lace Cocktail Dress” by Aidan Mattox / Menswear: “Slim Fit Tuxedo” in Black by Calvin Klein

Erin McLean Events and Lula Hair and Makeup are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Dana reply

    The Carolina Inn looks like the perfect venue for a Gatsby inspired wedding!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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