I love a couple who can tell a great story. Geneva + Luke are wonderful at this, making me burst into laughter in the office when I read the adorable story of how they met (it was in elementary school and he called her “maggot”), how he proposed, and the importance of big Southern hair. From looking through these photos from Suggs Photography, I’m positive their guests went home with wonderful memories and stories to share, too. G + L’s outdoor ceremony was not only lovely, but added a few laughs to the program. Their tented reception was complete with an artist on hand to live-paint the couple’s first dance — tres romantic, especially with the backdrop of string lights around the Oldfield Plantation house!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Luke and I decided to meet before the ceremony to help “hug out” some of the nerves. But good heavens, no, we didn’t do a first look. Luke did not see me until I descended the staircase escorted by my father. In our partial first look, Luke was blindfolded. I would have been willing to be blindfolded too, but I just could not risk messing up my hair, and that’s just the honest truth. This coif was a work of art, two hours in the making. And not even an army of bobby pins could protect her from a blindfold. We shared a hug, some kisses and two big ol’ grins. What a sweet, sweet moment, and what fantastic pictures!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Luke and I decided to write our own vows. Both of us are fairly good with a pen and we wanted so much for our wedding ceremony to be truly personal. By writing our own vows, we were able to share more of ourselves with our guests. It gave them a peek into the type of relationship we have and want to continue to build with one another. We did not practice these vows or share them with one another prior to the ceremony. It’s funny, they were remarkably similar.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We chose to use a modern version of “The Seven Blessings” for our ceremony. It was perfect. In fact, several guests contacted us afterwards for a copy of this reading.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. “Heavenly Day,” a country folk song was used as the processional. It was sung beautifully by a friend of the bride. Guitar accompaniment was provided by a friend of Luke’s.“One Voice” by the Wailin Jennys (another folk song) was sung in four-part harmony by my oh-so talented bridesmaids! While this played, a candle was lit, and the fire was passed from guest to guest via small beeswax pencil tapers. What a symbolic way to show support and love for the new couple!
The location of our wedding was as Southern as country ham and red-eye gravy! Our ceremony was set against the backdrop of an old Plantation River House, complete with spiral staircases and enveloped by live oak trees. The reception was held on the back lawn of the house overlooking the salt marsh of the Okatie River. Guests could stroll out onto a sprawling wooden dock to catch a glimpse of the moonlight shining across the water. Our food options were eclectic with hints of Southern inspiration. We served collard greens, rosemary grits, beef tenderloin, corn casserole, apricot salmon and more. And who could resist the adorable passed hors d’oeurve of pimento cheese on a gingersnap! YUM!
I was just absolutely in love with big lush Juliet roses in blush. Our florist blended those with creamy round ranunculus, succulents and bupleurum for a romantic, yet whimsical look. The flowers were arranged in vintage blue mason jars wrapped in twine.
Without a doubt, the best detail of the wedding was our talented artist, Elizabeth McKeever, who literally painted a scene from our first dance as the night unfolded. Guests were able to watch her create the scene in real time. What a blessing to have found her, and what a treasure we now have in our home! It’s a tremendous keepsake of the sweetest four minutes of our lives.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Ours was a vanilla cake with fresh blackberries and homemade lemon curd filling with buttercream frosting. Our baker offered the option of combining three flavors, but after we tasted the fresh blackberry and lemon curd, we couldn’t imagine anything better! I was going with a traditional tiered cake with tons of interesting texture. (The bottom layer had ruffles!) The cake was used as a centerpiece at the reception, so I wanted it to be beautiful. The texture was created with metallic ivory fondant.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Luke and I met in 1991 walking home from elementary school. He was the older brother of my childhood best friend, Amanda. Back then he had curly hair and glasses. I was red-headed, freckle faced and all knees and elbows. For about ten years, I was a permanent fixture at their house — I went on family vacations with them and everything. Rumor has it that Luke referred to me as “the maggot.” After moving away in eighth grade, I didn’t see Luke again until about ten years later at Amanda’s destination wedding in Jamaica. A huge smile spread over my face as I watched him board the plane. Although we were all grown up now, there was something so familiar there and a face I knew so well. When we de-planed in Jamaica, I leaned over the balcony, waved and shouted, “Luke Baxley, wait for me!” He just stood there confused. He was smiling, but definitely had no clue who I was. After a few seconds (and a little help), he figured it out. Then he smiled like a six year old on Christmas morning, dropped his bags and gave me a huge hug. We were inseparable that weekend. The chemistry was impossible to deny. Maybe it was the fine Jamaican rum in those bottomless pina coladas, maybe it was the romance of watching his sister get married on the beach at sunset — whatever it was, we couldn’t stop talking and didn’t stop laughing until we parted ways in the airport on the way home. The very next weekend, I flew down to Baton Rouge to see him, and we have been together ever since. We were long distance for the next two years as Luke finished his residency, and I finished school. But let me tell you, being together was worth the wait.
Describe the proposal. The proposal according to Luke: “Don’t ask. I had it all set up and laid out. It was going to be on the exact one year anniversary of when we got off the plane and ran back into each other (down to the exact hour). I knew exactly what I was going to say and everything. Then as soon as Geneva and the ring were in the same place at the same time, I couldn’t wait any longer. I got excited and proposed in the kitchen.” What Luke didn’t tell you, is that after he proposed in the kitchen (which was so sweet and adorable), he freaked out about having “blown the proposal.” I think the first words out of his mouth were, “I don’t even have any champagne!” So I let him re-do it five days later with his original plan. I gave him the ring back and we went out to dinner at an incredible restaurant. At the end of the meal (in front of the waiter) he got up and walked around the table and got down on one knee (again). I said “yes” (again). Partially because of the free dessert, and partially because of the awesome idea, we decided to plan a re-proposal dinner on our engagement every year and live the moment all over again.
In what month did you get married? April
How many guests attended your wedding? 135
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: My fabulous MOH set up the dress shopping appointments for me in Charleston. I knew the moment we stepped into Modern Trousseau on King Street that we had found Mecca. The aesthetic of this boutique was stunning — exposed brick juxtaposed against preppy white couches and blue floral wallpaper. We oohed and aahed through the collection of Southern-meets-modern stunners. Like all brides, I needed my wedding dress to embody so many things. I wanted sexy, classy, unique, sophisticated with a hint of vintage all in one. Lo and behold, there she was, sitting coyly on the first rack. Monroe: a fit-and-flare French lace dream. I could not get over the blush colored satin underlay that gave this dress a warm glow. The large lace pattern was unlike anything I’d ever seen, almost retro. A sweetheart neckline and drop V back made this classy gown look very, very sexy. It hugged my figure in all the right ways. This dress was made for my body, and it was just the sample! The actual dress was indeed made for my body, along with a matching bolero, which I chose to wear for the ceremony. The seamstress, (bless her, wherever she is) even stitched my initials in blue onto the inside.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? We had a tough time getting an accurate head count. The cost of our food was per person, and I was also trying to finalize escort cards with the calligrapher. So, it was stressful trying to track folks down in the final weeks without losing my manners. In the end, we had far fewer guests than we anticipated, mostly due to out-of-towners. We invited 215, and had 135. My saving grace to this dilemma was Luke’s sister, Amanda, who was, bless her heart, more than happy to make about 20 phone calls for me.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000 – $50,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Our wedding planner! Jen Leiti of Embellish Events was absolutely critical to the success of our wedding day. Without her help and guidance, I would have never been able to execute my vision. Most importantly however, on the day of the wedding I didn’t have to worry a smidge about any of the details. Luke and I knew that our big day was in the hands of a true professional. We just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our ceremony was really sensational. It was creative and intimate. We involved so many of our talented friends for music. Luke’s sister wrote and recited a beautiful prayer. We had perfect weather. And most of all, everyone we cared about was literally sitting seven feet away! I think everyone in attendance laughed a little and cried a little. The groom was drop dead sexy. What more could you ask for?
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t just pick wedding colors… pick wedding feelings!! We were hoping to create an intimate, romantic, relaxed and memorable day. It helped inform the choices we made, from the bridesmaids dresses to the dinner music to the fire pit!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Luke and I are looking forward to “going on adventures,” as we call it! We hope to take a few more international trips before settling down and breeding baby Baxleys.