Bride Katey shares her fun Lowcountry wedding weekend with us!
With so many couples having destination weddings these days, I love the way that weddings have become weekend-long vacations to spend with friends and family! I have rarely heard of a couple doing that as well as Katey and Bill, who spent the entire week before the wedding spending quality time with friends and family all over the Lowcountry!
Katey explains, “We spent the week before the wedding at Disney’s Hilton Head Island resort with our family and almost our entire wedding party. We led bike trips around Hilton Head, spent days on the beach and at the pool, and were generally treated like royalty by the Disney staff. On the Thursday before our Saturday wedding, the Mother-of-the-Bride and Maid of Honor planned a girls day in nearby Savannah, GA. All the women guests attending the wedding were invited for historic horse drawn carriage tours through Savannah (with custom to-go cocktails), and then we lunched in the garden at The Brice. While the women were lunching, the guys did a pub crawl around Savannah. Katey’s mom also rented a beautiful house with a porch overlooking the chapel. It became the place all week to sit and watch the guests biking around the resort, and to call down and say hi.”
That relaxed pace and focus on fun memories made together sounds like a great wedding week to me! Read on to hear about the special guest who made an appearance at Katey and Bill’s reception!
Tell us how you picked your wedding venue! We grew up in the northeast and live in San Francisco, but we had vacationed in Hilton Head and absolutely fell in love with it. It was our first week-long vacation together, and was a time when we fell even deeper in love. There was something about the pace of life in the South that caused us to slow down and be present in a way that we rarely could be back home.
The incredible landscape of the South Carolina Lowcountry was the inspiration for our design. We wanted the natural beauty of our surroundings to be reflected in and enhanced by our design, and our wedding planner and florist executed the vision perfectly. We mostly worked with colors that could be found in the landscape, so lots of greens and blues.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? The advice that we received was to stay together during the wedding, and just enjoy it together. We followed that, never really being apart for more than a few minutes. It really made the evening feel like an evening for the two of us, instead of just a bunch of friends and family. We’d give that same advice to anyone else getting married.
Bill tried on his wedding ring the day before the wedding, only to find that in the South Carolina humidity, it no longer fit! His brother & best man Kyle took him to 3 different jewelers before they found one that could resize same-day… crisis averted.
Finding the right wedding dress was much more of a challenge than I expected! I knew I wanted something with clean lines, but that wasn’t plain or boring. I pretty quickly decided that silk crepe was the material that suited my vision best, but most dress options seemed to be of the lace and tulle variety. When I tried on my dress, I knew instantly that it was the one. Just the right amount of simplicity and elegance from the material with unique and detailed beadwork on the back and on the cap sleeves.
What was your reception like? In order to fully soak in the beauty of the surroundings, we held dinner al fresco on the village green. We had lights strung over the dining area and candles adorning the historic ruins on the lawn. We had speeches from the father of the bride and the best man. We also decided to say a few words too, to thank all our friends and loved ones for traveling so far to celebrate. As we told them, the wedding ceremony was for us, but the reception was for the family and friends who supported us and loved us throughout our lives. Later in the evening, Bill arranged for a surprise visit from Boston College’s mascot, Baldwin the Eagle – who charged into dinner to the BC fight song. Katey was stunned! Baldwin then lead everyone upstairs into the River House for coffee and dessert, and the Steel Toe Stilettos started the dance party. Upstairs revolved around a central dance floor, but we had couches and seating on the wraparound porch for people to eat dessert and chat.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We both went to Boston College (Class of 2007), but never met during our 4 years of college. On the first night of our 5-year reunion, at the infamous college dive bar, Mary Ann’s, we finally met. Bill bought a round of drinks. Katey responded with a Game of Thrones quote about Lannisters always paying their debts and then bought him a drink in return. The rest was history. We dated long distance between Boston and Palo Alto, CA for two years before settling together in California, where we’ve lived ever since.
Describe the proposal! Bill invited me to join him last minute for a weekend before a “work trip” to Las Vegas. When we got there we “realized” that all the hotels were sold out because it was the weekend of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, so we made a “last minute” trip out to Zion National Park for the weekend. We went for a hike, and Bill started sweating a little more than usual (it looked like it was about to start raining!) We paused for a moment on a ridge with a commanding view, and Bill set up his tripod to take a picture, but to my surprise, he didn’t pose – instead he got down on one knee. Then he dropped the ring, but managed to stop it from rolling off the cliff. I said yes! Then we went to dinner that night, and “just happened” to run into our parents (from Massachusetts and New Jersey) at the same restaurant right outside Zion National Park! After a great dinner, we spent the night and then a family weekend in Las Vegas.
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? Our officiant, Saral, was kind enough to host us for a long weekend at her house in Ojai, California. She walked us through three days of reflection and exercises on marriage and developing a shared family mission – we’re so glad we did that! Over that time, Saral became a close friend and mentor to us, and we’ve planned trips back to visit her as we float through an incredible first year of marriage.
How many guests attended your wedding? 140.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? Since we live in San Francisco and don’t have family in South Carolina, the logistics of getting everything there were quite challenging and involved more than a few trips to FedEx! Luckily our amazing wedding planner Ashley gladly volunteered to be our “wedding warehouse” for a few weeks.
Tell us about the rehearsal dinner. We held a rehearsal dinner for the bridal party and family where we had a Lowcountry boil and the requisite speeches (including the presentation of the Groom’s Cake!). We followed that up with a welcome party, featuring the Cluster Shucks, who played some great bluegrass and got everyone excited for the festivities to come. Towards the end of the night, they played a few crowd-pleasers, ending with a massive sing-along to “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. The sing-along continued with them on the trolleys home.
How did you spend the morning or afternoon before your ceremony? The groomsmen (and the dads) went skeet shooting in the morning, followed by a few cocktails and lunch. Bill sent over a wedding gift to Katey: a set of hoop diamond earrings custom-made by Cresalia Jewelers in San Francisco. Katey opened them as her mom looked on.
Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. Early in the ceremony, our officiant Saral asked us to turn around and just look at our friends and family. This was pretty untraditional. In most wedding ceremonies you face forward, towards the officiant. It was a special moment to be able to look out at all our friends and family who had traveled so far to celebrate with us.
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? We drank from the Sullivan family chalice, which has been used in family ceremonies for over 50 years. (Bill finished the whole thing.)
Did you have a cocktail hour? Our cocktail hour was right outside the church overlooking the candlelit ruins, and thanks to our fantastic wedding planner, it was timed perfectly for sunset. Katey and Bill escaped for a bit down to the dock to share a quiet moment alone – it couldn’t have been timed better, because “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was playing across the water, and a pod of dolphins swam past.
Tell us a bit about your first dance. We danced to Beyonce’s “Love On Top.” In our true style, we scheduled a very last minute, single dance lesson to prepare the week before the wedding… but in our opinion, we crushed it!
Did you take a honeymoon? We went to beautiful French Polynesia, where we spent a week touring islands on a catamaran chartered by Tahiti Yacht Charters, followed by a week at the St Regis, Bora Bora.
What’s next for you as a couple? Thirty days before our wedding, we bought our first house together in San Francisco. (And we moved in the week before we left for the wedding!) So a lot of our downtime together these days is in doing home fix-ups and just settling in. We also have lots of friends’ weddings to celebrate!
Photographer: Perry Vaile Photography | Videographer: Life in Rewind | Planner and designer: Ashley Rhodes Event Designs | Ceremony venue: May River Chapel at Montage Palmetto Bluff | Rehearsal dinner and reception venue, caterer, and wedding cake: Montage Palmetto Bluff | Florals: Em Creative Floral | Bride’s gown: Rosa Clara | Bride’s shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bride’s earrings: Cresalia Jewelers | Bridesmaid dresses: Newport Crinkle Chiffon by Jim Hjelm | Hair and makeup: Bride’s Side Beauty | Men’s fashion: Indochino | Paper goods: Lowcountry Paper Co. | Rentals: EventHaus Rentals | Linens: Nuage Designs | Sound: Stage Front Production Services | Ceremony music: Charleston Virtuosi | Reception band: Steel Toe Stiletto | Photobooth: EPIC Charleston | Transportation: Old Savannah Tours