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Southern Weddings

Bride Abigail shares all the details behind her gorgeous Charleston wedding!

We’ve sure featured a stunning collection of real weddings through the years, and this one is no exception. Abigail and William’s day is just full of gorgeous flowers, beautiful dresses, and breathtaking scenery. But I love that Abigail shared the moment during their ceremony when a plane flew overhead and almost knocked their flower arrangements over, coupled with this advice: “Something is going to go wrong. I guarantee it! Just embrace it, and know that it will be a great story later (we actually wish we had pictures of the best man catching the flower arrangement during the ceremony)!”

The best thing about our bride interviews is that no matter how perfect these wedding photos are, the real relationships behind them are better! Abigail’s focus on what mattered during her wedding day — the time spent celebrating with loved ones — led to an evening centered around good food, great stories, and heartfelt toasts. I can’t think of better advice for brides-to-be than to follow suit! (But also, can you even believe her escort card display?)

Thank you to Aaron and Jillian for these picture perfect images!

When did y’all get married? May 7, 2017
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 65.

What was Southern about your wedding? To us, nothing could be more Southern than Charleston. The culture, food, and architecture are second to none in our minds, making it one of the quintessential Southern cities. Following suit, our wedding included many Southern foods, such as chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, hush puppies, and fried green tomatoes to name a few. For our specialty cocktails, the groom’s pick was a John Daly (Arnold Palmer with Vodka) and the bride’s was a lemon and ginger-based cocktail from her favorite bar in Chapel Hill, NC. And of course, Lowndes Grove, with the plantation house and the Ashley River, are classically Southern too!

I am a professional artist, and I was lucky enough to work with the team at The Silver Starfish, who supported my desire to do all of the artwork for the wedding! For me, that was an incredibly personal and essential aspect of the wedding. The visuals that I had dreamed up for the suite were the basis for all of the creative and design decisions I made for the entire day. Another personal element of the wedding was creating the welcome bags that greeted guests in their hotel rooms. In the boxes, we included a personal card, a wedding map with our recommended locations to visit around Charleston, as well as other goodies that were relevant to us as a couple and our life together. They were a hit!

Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. The first dress that I tried on while wedding dress shopping was what I always thought I would wear; Monique Lhullier, lots of lace, very fitted and in the trumpet/mermaid category. What I didn’t take into account when dreaming was my body type! I took one look in the mirror and started laughing because I just looked like a rectangle in a dress! We immediately moved to the modified ball gown style, and I found my dress the very first day we started looking. I have always been a huge fan of classic style, and the lace veil and princess levels of tulle made me feel like Grace Kelly. The dress reflects my personal style and aesthetic so well, I am relieved the other dresses looked horrible!

What were some of the most meaningful or special parts of your ceremony? The ceremony as a whole was incredibly meaningful because we were married by my uncle, who had quite a few tidbits about me tucked away that I hadn’t even remembered. He also made us a very special wooden box to keep letters from our friends and family to be opened on our one-year anniversary! We wrote personal vows to each other that we opened while we were getting ready, along with our wedding presents to each other (I painted him an oil painting of our dog, Lilly, and he gave me a sapphire and diamond necklace for my something new & blue!). Reciting the traditional vows that so many other couples have also repeated was incredibly meaningful to us, and we didn’t want to miss either experience. There is also the now infamous story of the flower pillars almost falling during the ceremony while a plane flew a little too close for comfort! It was just a tad bit windy right by the river, and even though the flowers and pillars were weighted down, it was a close call! Luckily, our best man, Will’s twin, caught it!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We decided on the traditional wedding march music to go with the rest of the ceremony. It was what always played in my mind when wedding planning! Our first dance was to “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys. We both love oldies and for some reason, that song has followed us since we first started dating. Even though neither of us can sing to save our lives, we always sing the main verses to each other! Neither of us are sure how it started, but it is a song that has been part of our relationship for years now. Another very meaningful song was “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Sufjan Stevens. My father surprised us by passing out the lyrics to everyone in the ceremony to sing while we had our last dance of the evening. I have to admit, I definitely teared up! It was so moving to have our friends and family singing these special words to us to close out the evening. For me, it was one of the most memorable parts of the wedding!

The inspiration for our day was family. As I mentioned, my uncle married us, it was a small gathering of our closest friends and family, and the focus of the evening was, again, stories. Food is very important to my family as my parents started and owned a French restaurant for years, and I grew up eating phenomenal meals every day during long conversations at the dinner table. Because of this, having a seated dinner with intimate table settings so everyone could easily be heard was non-negotiable. Everything else centered around the simple fact that one of our favorite things to do is just sit with loved ones and eat great food!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? We knew without a doubt that we wanted to get married in the Carolinas. We think that they are so beautiful, we love the Southern hospitality there, and Will’s family is mostly in South Carolina. We settled on Charleston because that’s where we took our first trip together, and we just fell in love with the city. Also, our friends and family are spread throughout the country and Canada, so we wanted an easily-accessible airport. As far as the venue, my mom and I went on a trip to find locations (even before we were engaged), and I absolutely loved Lowndes Grove. The beautiful, white plantation house, green lawns, and the incredible view of the Ashley River made it an obvious choice. We also were just head over heels for the decorations inside the house, which is part of the reason why we decided to have a sit-down dinner inside. All of the antiques and Persian rugs are exactly what I wanted for the “feel” of the wedding!

What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? I am a very adventurous eater while Will is more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so we needed something for both of us! I opted for a ginger cake with vanilla frosting while he got hazelnut and chocolate. We also served blush and gold macarons to pull in our how we met story! Cupcakes are also my favorite dessert, so they were included as well.

When one friend stood up to use the restroom, we all joked that he was standing up to give a speech. To our surprise, he accepted the challenge and gave a truly heartfelt and spontaneous speech to the entire table. From there, we went around the table, with random people giving speeches about us individually and as a couple and how we had played a part in our their lives. We could not be more grateful for those hours spent on the upstairs balcony of Lowndes Grove that left everybody laughing, crying, and clapping.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. We met in French class, began dating a few months later, and have been inseparable ever since!
Tell us all about the proposal! In order to tell you about the proposal, I first have to rewind a bit and start with engagement ring shopping. One time, while eating with my college best friend at my favorite restaurant, Rise-n-Dine in Atlanta, I looked over and saw the most beautiful engagement ring I had ever seen on a fellow diner. I immediately but not so subtly nudged my friend to point it out. Luckily for me, she has a great eye for these things and told me the exact style of the ring. And so, my heart was set. When Will and I first started to seriously shop for engagement rings, nothing looked right. We went to the big, fancy, name-dropping brands and the diamonds just weren’t right! Absolutely defeated because poor Will thought we were going home with a ring that day, he called up a family friend at Lugano Diamonds. Next thing I knew, we had perfectly set diamonds arriving at our doorstep ready for me to pick from! Now, Will being Will, I knew he would want to propose immediately (I regularly receive gifts months in advance of when I should be receiving them because he can’t wait to see my face). I have to admit that when he casually suggested I get a little bit dressed up, I knew what was going to happen, and I would not have had it any other way. He took me to my favorite restaurant in Chapel Hill (food is obviously a big part of my life), Bin 54, and then started driving towards Raleigh. Now I was a bit confused. What was in Raleigh? It turned out he had planned to take me to the historic governor’s mansion and propose at the front gate. I wish I could say I remember every single wonderful thing he said, but I think what sums it up the best was a passing driver honking and yelling “Wahoo!” as Will got off his knee!
Did you decide to do a first look? We did not do a first look. That was actually one of Will’s very few requests while wedding planning! We wanted that moment that you always visualize when thinking about your wedding, the moment when you lock eyes while the bride walks down the aisle. There is something so special about that and sharing it with everyone else. We didn’t want to change it!
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? My favorite thing about wedding planning was designing a cohesive vision that allowed me to be creative and express who we are! I love tiny details, like the mint julep and boxwood table numbers that pulled together the overall boxwood theme, and getting to insert our personality into such a big event was so much fun!
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? As an artist and detail-oriented person, I had a hard time when vendors didn’t immediately produce something that was exactly what I wanted right off the bat. I just wanted everyone to read my mind!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We kept our guest list to just our closest friends and family, which is fortunately what we wanted anyway, but that helped to keep our costs down.

Photographer: Aaron & Jillian | Planner: Mac & B | Ceremony and Reception Venue, Caterer and Dessert Backer: Lowndes Grove | Florist, Rentals, and Lighting: Ooh! Events | Additional Rentals and Lighting: Snyder Events | DJ: David Fox | Special Details and Paper Products: Abigail J. Studio | Additional Paper Products: The Silver Starfish | Bride’s Gown and Veil: Pronovias | Bride’s Jewelry: Tiffany & Co and Lugano Diamonds | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Paper Dolls | Bride’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Rory” in Bellini by Amsale | Menswear: Brooks Brothers

Written with love by Catherine
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