We’re never surprised to hear that a couple chooses a Southern locale for their wedding because they want to introduce their guests to a place they love. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we publish a magazine and this blog–so that brides around the world can see what makes the South such a magical place to call home! That’s exactly how Jill and Mike felt about Mike’s hometown of Hilton Head, South Carolina–they recall that one of their favorite details of their wedding was showing their families and friends Hilton Head’s beautiful landscape and undeniable Southern charm. Many guests even decided to make a vacation out of their wedding weekend and stay for the whole week! Jill says, “Every detail came together perfectly, creating a truly memorable experience not just for us, but for everyone who was there.” If that’s not Southern hospitality, I don’t know what is!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! My something borrowed was my bridesmaid and dear friend’s veil. I was the fourth one of our college girlfriends to wear it, so this was extremely sentimental and important to me! Not as important, my something blue was my favorite chapstick, a blue Eos ball. Lastly, my something new was everything else: shoes, dress, earrings, etc…plus, my new husband!!
I went to several bridal salons in Philadelphia but was never captivated by anything. Finally, I visited BHLDN in NYC and was pretty much sold on a beautiful, extremely feminine, blush gown. I had an appointment at Nicole Miller the next day though and didn’t want to be rude and cancel, so I went anyways. Of course, it was at Nicole Miller that I fell in love with an extremely classic, fitted, ivory dress. It was not overly bridal and I am certain that is why I loved it–I felt like myself, and more importantly, I felt it was timeless dress that would never go out of style or be deemed trendy. That’s how it ultimately won out over the blush BHLDN gown!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Keep breathing! People who say planning a wedding isn’t stressful either had nothing to do with the planning or are billionaires! It will be tough at times, but it will all get done. And don’t forget what the day is about! At the end of it all, you will have married your best friend and love of your life, surrounded the people who love you most in this world.
Our favorite detail, besides the fact that we were married, was being able to share Hilton Head with all of the people we love. Most of the guests had never been to Hilton Head and made a vacation out of the event, renting hotel rooms and houses and staying the week. Every detail came together perfectly, creating a truly memorable experience not just for us, but for everyone who was there.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We had the ceremony at Mike’s family’s church, where they have gone since moving to Hilton Head from Colorado in 2005. The reception did not have any special significance going into the wedding, but ending up being perfect for us–it matched our personalities and provided a very unique experience for all of our friends and family. It was the last venue we visited while looking, and we almost didn’t even go because it was getting late, but once we arrived, we knew within a few minutes that we had found the perfect place.
We wanted to show off the South a bit to everyone who had never been to South Carolina before. The venue was a wonderful example of how beautiful the Lowcountry is–we took photos on the marsh next to huge live oak trees, and the pavilion was surrounded by more massive trees covered in Spanish moss. We served traditional Southern comfort food buffet-style, including fried chicken, mac and cheese, cornbread, barbecue pork, shrimp and grits…we needed bigger plates so everyone could fit all the food! Mike also took full advantage of the Southern lifestyle–neither he nor his groomsmen wore socks with their shoes, and it ended up being a great decision.
Describe your wedding flowers. The wedding flowers were more than just flowers! They were more of an artistic display of objects and different pieces with flowers scattered in. The flowers themselves were all blush, pinks, and white. I started to collect a bunch of different jars, bottles, vases, lanterns, mercury votives, etc. in Philly, and then we packed it all up and Mike drove it down in his pickup when he went home for Christmas. Dawn and Amanda exceeded my expectations! They took all this stuff and delicately wove in their own touches to create the most amazing display I have ever seen. Seeing all of the things I had collected in Philly put to use made all that work so worth it! It made me feel more involved and like I played an important, active role!
We have been to a lot of weddings where we have seen cake get thrown out when people don’t eat it. We decided to get a smaller cake for us so we could still have a cake cutting, but the majority of the desserts were bite-sized treats for the guests to enjoy. The crowd favorite was definitely the mini key lime pies; they disappeared as soon as the desserts were put out.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Mike: Our first dance was definitely one of my favorites. We picked the song “True Believers” by Darius Rucker as our song, which is very special to Jill and me, as it came out during a difficult time for us and really spoke to us and our relationship. Despite having known this would be our song for a very long time, we never practiced the dance once. But, like always, we were in it together, had smiles on our faces, and had a blast just winging it. The dance went great and the song was perfect–it will always be a fun memory that is just one of many from the week.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. After a series of odd and silly events, Mike and 13 of his best buds had to relocate out of their college house, and luckily, they moved in across the street from my friend’s and my house during my senior year. It was his newly close proximity, as well as the fact that he was door manager at the local watering hole, that made me begin to notice Mike more and more. His lighthearted nature, sense of humor, and subtle charm definitely sparked my interest! After several not-so-subtle inquiries to Mike’s older brother regarding Mike’s relationship status, word finally got to Mike that I was smitten. To my pleasant surprise, the feeling was mutual! After several brunches at our college cafe and a hilarious first date during which Mike’s car broke down, we officially became one another’s true love and best friend! The rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! From Mike: I always wanted our engagement to be a surprise to Jill. She was busy studying for her OCN (oncology certified nurse) exam for work and was buried in a book for a few months prepping for it. She took her exam on a Saturday morning, while I went to her family’s house to ask her Dad if it was okay if I proposed to Jill in a few hours. The only catch in my plan was that she got the results of her exam as soon as she was done, and I had no backup plan if she didn’t pass her test. I got home with the ring and a big bouquet of flowers, set my GoPro up, and waited for her to call and say she was coming home. When she called, she told me she had passed the test! When she walked in the door of the apartment, she thought I was congratulating her for passing. She didn’t even have her jacket or backpack off before I was down on one knee, attempting to speak, but mostly just crying, asking her to marry me. She said yes, the ring was way too big so I put it on her middle finger, we opened a bottle of wine to try and calm us down, and then we met family and friends out at a bar. I had told Jill and everyone else I wanted to have a party to celebrate her taking her exam–no one knew it was going to be an engagement party!
When did y’all get married? May 9, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we went with the traditional Catholic wedding vows.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Jill: It’s hard to pick just one! My aunt, sister, and my cousin Kristy (a bridesmaid) bent over backwards to give me a wedding morning to remember! They had a yogurt parfait bar, yummy mimosas, and the most beautiful tablescape ever, complete with an album of Mike and I, my shower, and my bachelorette party. On top of that, my aunt secretly treated me to my hair and makeup! Amazing! Another favorite was when my Uncle Dave stopped me dead in my tracks during the reception and said “Your dad is a good man and he did an amazing job with you two.” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. It was simple, but striking and alarmingly true. It has been a bumpy, untraditional road for my dad, but no matter what, we have always had each other, and we will always have an amazing family!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Mike has a pretty fierce one-year anniversary trip planned! We are going to fly to Seattle and then drive down the 101/Pacific Coast Highway, stopping to see the sites, taste some wine, smell the lavender fields, experience Oregon, and ultimately, end up in San Francisco, where my cousin Kristy lives!
Photographer: Amy Arrington Photography / Videographer: Ryan Lindsay / Planner: Amanda Spencer / Ceremony Venue: St. Francis by the Sea Catholic Church / Reception Venue: Honey Horn Plantation / Florist: Dawn Kiritsy / Caterer and Dessert Baker: Bev & Rick / Rentals: Ranco / Lighting: Mike Wood / Band: The Voltage Brothers / Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas / Chalkboard Floral Design and Escort Card: Minted / Bride’s Gown: “Alexis” by Nicole Miller / Bridal Salon: Nicole Miller at the Bellevue Philadelphia / Bride’s Hair Accessory: Pearl Petal Halo by BHLDN / Hair and Makeup: Christi Zampino / Bride’s Shoes: “Marlow” by Harriet Wilde / Menswear: The Black Tux
Amy Arrington is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory and The Black Tux is a delightful SW sponsor!