I have the delight of reading about LOTS of proposals, so it takes quite the story for me to proclaim it one of the best I’ve ever read. Well friends, that’s exactly what we have here today! The two words I’d use to describe the way Josh proposed to Emily are epic and romantic, and once I scrolled through the photos Virgil Bunao captured of their wedding, those same adjectives kept coming to mind. Their venues, Grace Church Cathedral and Lowndes Grove Plantation, were certainly a big part of that, but their classic fashion, Emily’s show-stopping bouquet, and the clear-top tent they celebrated under didn’t hurt either!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? So many to choose from! I’d have to say that one of the most special moments of the day, which I am beyond thankful that we incorporated, was having a first look with my daddy. Right after I finished getting dressed and donned my veil, before I even went to see Josh, my daddy came in to see me in my dress for the first time. Surrounded by my family and closest friends and sharing that emotional moment with the man who has loved me since day one was something that I will never forget. I highly recommend it to all brides!
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! We were getting married in the middle of December, when it gets dark by 5 P.M. Our reception venue, Lowndes Grove Plantation, is a breathtaking plantation home right on the Ashley River in Charleston, so we knew that we wanted to be able to take pictures there in the daylight. We also wanted our guests to be able to see the venue in the daylight and enjoy the sunset over the water, so we had a first look under the live oaks by the water and took the majority of our pictures before heading to the church for our ceremony.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I am probably one of the most indecisive people ever, and I really had no idea what I was looking for. I had to Google the different wedding dress styles so I didn’t sound silly when we went shopping for the first time! My mom, my best friend since childhood, and I went up to Charlotte to visit a few different stores, and we met up with my aunt who lives there. I tried on tons of dresses and really learned what style I was looking for, but just couldn’t commit yet. Due to my school schedule and our long engagement, it was about six months before I was able to go shopping again. This time, my mom and I headed down to Charleston with a much clearer vision of the look I was going for. I wanted something a little more formal and traditional for our ceremony in a cathedral, but fun enough to let loose at the reception! A few of my bridesmaids were able to meet us at the store and help me see that one of the dresses I tried on encompassed all of the elements I was looking for. Once the consultant added a veil and showed me that they could custom-make a sash, I was sold!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We attended a marriage counseling weekend retreat through the church early on in our engagement that was wonderful and very thought-provoking. There weren’t many topics that we had not already addressed or encountered in our relationship, but it was a great starting point to discuss others.
We are both from very small towns with limited wedding venue selections, and since I had lived in Charleston for several years and we both love it, we knew we wanted to get married there. We visited several venues and absolutely fell in love with Lowndes Grove Plantation. It was exactly what we were looking for as an indoor/outdoor venue with character and Southern charm, with the added bonus of being on the water with a long dock. We also knew that we wanted to get married in a church. We decided on Grace Church Cathedral, the church my aunt and uncle had been married in. It is an absolutely beautiful church with a center aisle and stunning altar, and they provided wonderful marriage counseling and wedding coordination.
Describe your wedding flowers. This was one of my favorite parts! I knew I wanted a romantic, whimsical vibe with lots of whites, greenery, and pops of blush and coral pink. I met with the florist and they let me pick out individual flowers and greenery that I wanted to incorporate! Coral charm peonies were a must for me! From there, Branch Studio totally nailed it. I’m gushing just thinking about them. Each of the tables at the reception had either a tall, whimsical arrangement or a low, textural arrangement incorporating similar flowers and greenery to the bouquets. They also incorporated a few feathers provided by my groom into several of the arrangements. This tied in with the hand-tied feather boutonnieres worn by Josh and his groomsmen, and Josh’s Brackish bow tie. One of the most magical floral elements was the massive floral chandelier extending all the way to the top of the tent! It was made of silver dollar eucalyptus and other greenery with scatters of white hydrangea, blush emely roses, pink roses, and pink tulips. It hung around a classic crystal chandelier over the cake table as the center feature of our reception tent. It was stunning! The cake table itself was adorned with a garland of silver dollar eucalyptus, with Italian ruscus and olive branches encircling the edge of the table.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We were both born and raised in South Carolina, so we don’t know much besides Southern traditions! It does not get much more classically Southern than Charleston. Our reception venue, Lowndes Grove Plantation, is a beautifully restored plantation home situated on the northern end of the Charleston peninsula on the banks of the Ashley River. We took most of our photographs under the live oaks that line the water and on the dock that extends out into the river. Among the passed hors d’oeuvres were fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and mini crab cakes. Southern dinner menu items included shrimp and grits with cornbread biscuits, braised short ribs, and grilled fish tacos. Our groom’s cake at the rehearsal dinner was a life-size rendition of our Boykin spaniel, the South Carolina state dog.
We had a five-layer traditional wedding cake. The layers were of varying heights to give the cake some originality and dimension. The design was simple and elegant, with textured white buttercream frosting and intermittent cascading coral charm peonies, white and blush pink garden roses, and silver dollar eucalyptus. Because it was December and the weather in Charleston was beautiful, we decided to have the cake in the center of our outdoor tent under a floral chandelier as the central element of our reception space.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both attended Clemson University, but despite having many mutual friends, we never met there. We met while I was living down in Charleston after we had both graduated. I was focused on preparing to begin medical school and was pretty determined not to get involved with anyone. Thankfully, Josh was patiently persistent and convinced me that we were better equipped to go after our dreams together! He had just purchased his own business, and I started medical school three hours away. We both had full plates and the distance was tough, but we persevered, and it made us immeasurably stronger as individuals and as a couple.
Tell us all about the proposal! My family had planned a trip to Europe as a family vacation, and I was thrilled that Josh was able to join us! Our first stop was Paris, and it happened to be over my birthday. For weeks, I had been telling Josh about the Pont des Arts in Paris, a bridge where couples leave locks to symbolize their unending love. I wanted to find it and maybe even add a lock for us! Well, a week before we left, we heard that the love lock bridge was being torn down. We were disappointed, but it turns out that the trend had spread to almost every bridge in Paris. As we walked around the day before my birthday, I kept wanting to buy a lock, and Josh kept telling me no. Later that night, he caved and presented me with an early birthday present. He had found a beautiful antique lock and hand-engraved it with our names, the date (my birthday), and a quote in French that read “my heart is forever yours.” Needless to say, I was incredibly touched that he had not only been listening to me, but had put so much thought and effort into this special gift. He told me that this was only one of two gifts for my birthday, but I assured him that there was nothing I could possibly love more. After nagging him to tell me the secret most of the morning on my birthday, he finally told me that he was taking me on a tour to the top of the Eiffel Tower that night. I was SO excited! It ended up raining pretty much the entire day, so I was confused when the cab driver dropped us off at a bridge a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. Josh explained that our tour guide wanted to meet us somewhere else because of the rain. As we started to walk out on the bridge, it suddenly stopped raining! We seemed to be the only ones on the bridge besides a tourist taking pictures of the tower. We walked to an overlook with a gorgeous view of the tower, and Josh stopped to point something about the tower out to me. When I turned back around, he was down on one knee! I said yes!! I have never been more surprised in my life, and I am very hard to surprise! It turns out that the “tourist taking pictures” was a professional American photographer living in Paris that Josh had hired to capture the entire thing! We even had a mini engagement photo shoot right there on the Pont de Bir-Hakeim overlooking the Eiffel Tower! Josh had thought of EVERYTHING! In addition to presenting me with the most gorgeous ring I have ever laid my eyes on, he had also kept a journal of the entire process, from the progression of our relationship to this point, asking my parents for their blessing, picking out a ring, planning the proposal, and so much more. On top of that, I got to walk with my new FIANCÉ to meet my parents and sister under the Eiffel Tower, where they were waiting with a bottle of champagne to celebrate with us!
When did y’all get married? December 17, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 235
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. The seating of the mothers and grandmothers: The first dance was to “This Kind of Love” by Sister Hazel. We chose this song because it was a little different than the traditional first dance songs while still having a classic vibe, and we have always felt that the lyrics sum up our love perfectly. My dad and I danced to “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra. Not only is this a wonderful song, but it was featured during the wedding scene in the movie “Father of the Bride” which has always been a favorite and very special to my daddy and me. Josh and his mom danced to “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor. James Taylor has always been very special to Josh’s musical family and has become special to us as a couple too. I surprised him for his birthday several years ago with tickets to a James Taylor concert, and when it came time for our families to meet, Josh arranged for both of our parents and us to go to another concert. It was a very special night!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? One of the biggest ways we saved money on the wedding was simply by having it in December. Many venues and even vendors had different pricing based on the month of year, and we received a significant discount on the venue because December was not a high season month. It also made it significantly less stressful to book the vendors we wanted because most of them were available without competitive demand. Also, due to our guest count and the vibe we were hoping to establish, we decided to have a stations-style dinner instead of a sit-down dinner, which required less seating and place setting elements, as well as eliminated the need for a seating chart, place cards, etc.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are beyond excited to be married and to start this journey together! After a honeymoon to Antigua and celebrating Christmas with our families, we returned home to our beloved Boykin spaniel, Riggs. We are loving making our house into a home together! I’m looking forward to having Josh by my side as I finish out my last two years of medical school and move on to a residency, and Josh is busy with his new job and getting his MBA at the same time!
Photographer: Virgil Bunao | Videographer: CreatiVideos | Planner: Hannah Grogan | Ceremony Venue: Grace Church Charleston | Reception Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation | Florist: Branch Design Studio | Wedding Cake: Jessica Grossman of PPHG Charleston | Caterer: Patrick Properties Hospitality Group | Rentals: Snyder Events, Ooh! Events, EventHaus, Nuage Designs, and YOJ Events | Lighting: AV Connections | Band: We Got The Beat via East Coast Entertainment | Paper Products: Studio R Design and Midlands Printing | Bride’s Gown: Augusta Jones | Bridal Salon and Veil: Gown Boutique of Charleston | Hair Stylist: Ash and Co. | Makeup Artist: Pamela Lesch Makeup | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: After Six from Bella Bridesmaids | Men’s Tuxedos: Ike Behar from Charleston Tuxedo | Groom’s Shirt, Shoes, and Cuff Links: Jos. A. Bank | Groom’s Bow Tie: Brackish