We talk a lot at Southern Weddings about letting your wedding venue guide the rest of the day’s design and decor, and since the South is blessed with an abundance of breathtaking locations, it makes a Southern bride’s job a little easier. Sarah and Gabe thoughtfully chose Spring Island, South Carolina for their wedding venue–an idyllic, Lowcountry community where Sarah’s parents own a home. The people there, including many of their vendors, watched Sarah and Gabe’s relationship grow over the years, making their wedding even more intimate and meaningful. From the cotton detailing on her dress to the soft, neutral palette in the decor, Sarah was inspired by Spring Island in more ways than one, and we’re so grateful that Ashley Seawell was on hand to capture every detail!
My favorite thing about my wedding dress was that it felt like it was made for Spring Island. The lace of the bodice and the appliqué pieces on the skirt were cotton (which Spring Island was known for) and the washed organza skirt was so light, it felt that it was supposed to get dusty on the walk down the oak alley. I found my dress at Mark Ingram Atelier in New York, where they happened to be showcasing Peter Langner’s dresses that day. The first few dresses of Peter’s I put on were absolutely gorgeous and fit amazingly. When I put this dress on, my mom, sister, and I all knew that it was perfect. I tried on many more dresses, but nothing compared. When we went back the next day to get the dress, Peter did a pen and ink sketch of the dress and signed it for me. When he said I was the first bride ever to pick the dress, I cried.
Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? Each of the bridesmaids wore a different dresses in a variety of colors. I did not want one or two particular colors to dominate the wedding, so we coordinated the bridesmaid dresses in multiple soft pastel shades. I also wanted all of my bridesmaids to be comfortable in the dresses they wore that day, so it seemed best to let each of them pick one that they loved.
Describe your wedding flowers: The flowers were incredible. They were the perfect soft colors, and I loved the dusty miller and peonies! I especially loved the white spirea magnolia and cherry blossom branches at the ceremony. We kept my bouquet nice and small, so that it didn’t overpower me. It also had special trailing ribbons that were embroidered with my maiden initials, which were beautiful!
The wedding ceremony was held before the statue of Saint Francis, under a canopy of oaks draped with spanish moss. Our ceremony was very personal. Gabe’s dad, Tommy, was our officiant, which was very special. He collected advice on marriage from family and friends, which he incorporated into the ceremony. One thing that was very unique and special was the long walk I took with my Dad down the oak alley. It was so serene, and many guests commented on how magical it was to watch from a distance as we started our walk.
Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? Our cocktail hour was supposed to be at the Old Tabby Ruins on Spring Island. Unfortunately, the rain didn’t cooperate and we had to move it inside, but it was still beautiful! We were married on the Saturday of the Kentucky Derby, and since I am an equestrian, we played the Derby on the radio and served mint juleps. Some of the guests even wore hats for the cocktail hour. I loved it because the cocktail hour was a nod to the derby without the cocktail hour or the wedding becoming derby-themed.
What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? Spring Island is so naturally beautiful that we wanted the beauty of the Island to be the focal point, and for all other aspects of the design to be in harmony with that beauty. Once we made that decision, Gabe really let me, my mom, and Ashley Rhodes run with the design. I knew that I did not want a dominant color scheme, so we used a lot of natural finishes and added in soft pastels to keep it from becoming dull or overly rustic. I told my mom and Ashley my overall vision, and they were really responsible for executing on the details. My mom is an incredible interior designer, and she and I are very close, so I trusted the decisions she and Ashley made. Even though we used the wooden farm tables, we used silver chargers, soft flowers, and hurricanes filled with oyster shells and candles to dress it up.
The watercolor detail of the wedding really evolved during the course of planning. I knew from the start that I wanted the envelope liners of the save the dates and invitations to show images of Spring Island, so we called one of my parents’ best friends from college to see if he might be able to do a couple of watercolors. They were so beautiful, I wanted more, so we incorporated them throughout the wedding. Now, the originals of the watercolors are framed and hanging in our dining room. It was so generous of Julian to do all of the watercolors and so special that such a large detail of the wedding was done by someone I have known my entire life!
My mom poured her heart and soul into planning the wedding, and she knew every single detail of the day. Or, so she thought! I wanted to show her how much I appreciated everything she did to make the day perfect, so I wrote her a letter to tell her. I arranged to have Sideshow Press print the letter on wood stock and ship it directly to Ashley Rhodes, so I could surprise my mom with it at the wedding. When my mom got to her table for dinner, the letter was waiting at her seat in lieu of her place card. I will never forget watching my dad read her the letter and seeing the look on her face.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Sparks flew in the library at Vanderbilt while we were studying for finals during our second year of law school. Anything not to study, right? We left for winter break a few days later, but kept in touch. When we came back for the spring semester, we started dating almost right away and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was a quiet moment between us at home. We celebrated that night with family and friends!
Tell us all the basics of your wedding! Gabe and I chose Spring Island because my parents have a home there, so it is a meaningful place to both of us. I always thought I wanted to get married in Colorado on Strang Ranch, where I grew up horseback riding, but I felt it was important for the venue to be a place that was equally meaningful to both of us. Spring Island was a natural choice. Anyone who has been to Spring Island, knows that it is a truly special place, and we were able to spend a lot of time there during law school. All of the people on Spring Island, including the wonderful staff, watched our relationship grow over the years. Having them all there for the wedding made the day even more intimate. I must have thanked Jim and Betsy Chaffin, a pair of the original developers, for creating Spring Island ten times that night!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Magical, romantic, boisterous
What was the weather like on your big day? Let’s just say it was not the weather that any bride dreams of! I woke up to a cold, steady drizzle of rain, and it stayed that way for most of the day. The ceremony and cocktail hour were both supposed to be outside, and I admit, I was a little disappointed–there may have been a few tears on my big sister’s shoulder. Amazingly, the skies parted long enough for photographs and, most importantly, for the ceremony. The sun even made an ever-so-brief appearance, shining right through the oak canopy, in the middle of the ceremony! After the ceremony, we managed to get all of the guests into the clubhouse, where Ashley Rhodes had seamlessly relocated the cocktail hour, mere moments before heavy rain set in for the remainder of the evening. To be honest, I think the rain made for an even better party, because with the tent flaps down and the rain pouring outside, it was the perfect environment for all of the guests to join Gabe and me on the dance floor!
How many friends, family, and loved ones attended your wedding? 225
What did the groomsmen wear? The groomsmen all wore navy blue linen suits from J.Crew. Gabe made a few strong pushes for Duke Blue to be incorporated into the wedding, so we found blue and white gingham linen ties in just the right shade of blue, and had them embroidered with each groomsman’s initials.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows, but we modified traditional vows to make them fit our style a little bit better.
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? My grandfather gave me a sixpence to wear in my shoe for good luck, as he had done for my mother, aunt, and big sister!
What kind of food did you serve? We kept the food light and fresh! We served arugula salad and stuffed flounder, andt was delicious! Chef Tony and the Spring Island Club did an amazing job. Pulled pork sliders and gatorade were a perfect late night snack after lots of dancing (and drinking)!
Tell us a bit about your first dance. We danced to Keith Urban’s “Without You” for our first dance. We took dance lessons before the wedding, which was so much fun. Of course, once we were out there, I’m pretty sure we forgot most of what we were taught.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was a beautiful meringue cake! The design went perfectly with the soft and natural palette of the wedding. During our cake cutting, Gabe tried to put some in my face, but I was too quick for him!
Tell us about your grand exit. I changed out of my amazing Peter Langner dress and into a shorter dress by Badgley Mischka. The guests threw birdseed and we departed in a vintage car. It felt like the exit came far too early in the night…though it was actually quite late!
Did you take a honeymoon? If so, where? We spent a few days in Beaufort after the wedding. It was nice to spend some quiet time with family after the busy weekend. We had a few family meals and spent some time on the boat. Then, we took a delayed honeymoon to Antigua. It was so beautiful–we did not want to leave!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Enjoy it–it goes so quickly!
Best advice or most memorable comment someone made to you during the wedding celebration: While I was getting ready and admittedly stressing about the rain, Ashley Rhodes mentioned to me that it rained on her wedding day, and that one of the best parts was that when it stopped raining, the birds all came out and started to sing. Shortly after Ashley told me that, the rain stopped and I headed outside for my bridal photographs. I was standing alone partway down the oak alley waiting for Ashley Seawell, and the birds started singing! It was such a peaceful moment and a great reminder to enjoy all of the wonderful little moments throughout the day.
Photographer: Ashley Seawell Photography / Planning and Design: Ashley Rhodes Events / Venue and Catering: Spring Island, South Carolina / Florist: Emily Wynn Wildes Floral Design / Wedding Cake: Sweets Supplier Signe’s Bakery / Bride’s Gown: “Waking Up” by Peter Langner / Bridal Salon: Mark Ingram Atelier / Bride’s Shoes: Stuart Weitzman / Bride’s Veil: Peter Langner / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale and J.Crew / Hair Stylist: Hope Patterson, Bangs Salon / Makeup Artist: Nora Honeycutt / Men’s Fashion: J.Crew / Paper Products: Sideshow Press / Rentals and Lighting: Sperry Tents SE and Snyder Event Rentals / Linens: Snyder Event Rentals / Water Color Table and Butler Cards: Julian Tablanda / Transportation: Point Tours, Beaufort, South Carolina / Additional Vendors: Amazing Event Rentals and Ooh Events!