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Bride Allison shares her destination wedding at the dreamy Old Wide Awake Planation in South Carolina.

Please meet today’s darling bride, Allison! She and her beau Mike planned a beautiful Charleston celebration that was a destination wedding for both them and their families. And while planing a destination wedding (or a wedding outside of the town where you currently live!) can bring challenges. For Allison and Mike, it actually became one of their favorite things about the wedding planning process. Allison said, “We loved how many mini vacations Mike and I were able to take during the planning process. We visited Charleston 6 times in 19 months, and we had the best time each time we went.” She also recalls a trip where a canceled flight turned into road trip-adventure through a snow storm to make a few very important vendor appointments and some even more important memories. Keep scrolling to learn more about Allison and Mike, and of course, get all the heart eyes for their beautiful day!

Big hugs to Landon Jacob for sharing their South Carolina day with us!

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? In the months leading up to the wedding, I collected most of the vessels that the flowers and trinkets (koozies, programs, cards, etc.) went into from flea markets. It was a great way to add a very personal touch to the event and see my vision come to life. My florist, Fern, took my vision and ran farther than I ever thought possible with it. I was SO happy with the way the design of everything came out. Additionally, I incorporated my late grandmother’s veil as my “something old.” She was incredibly special to me, so it felt great having her with me on the day!

I started the dress search about 15 months prior to the wedding date (we had a 19 month engagement). I thought I found the dress of my dreams at my first appointment, Sarah Seven, and after learning that a trunk show where I could receive a sizable discount was occurring one month later, I knew I had to confirm my selection quickly. With that said, I went on a one-month mission to try on any dress that I was possibly interested in so that I could go back to Sarah Seven confident in my selection. Through my search, I realized that the dress I had originally loved was WAY different than anything I was drawn to at my other appointments. Heading back to the Sarah Seven trunk show, I was disappointed that I probably wouldn’t be taking advantage of the trunk show discounts. When I tried on the first dress I fell in love with, I realized it was completely wrong; luckily, thanks to the amazing Sarah Seven staff, they listened to the dresses I was loving at different designers & pulled out the most amazing dress I’d seen yet for me to try on. I knew it was my dress before even putting it on…but I did end up putting it on to confirm!

We chose to have our wedding in Charleston, SC. Mike’s family is in New York and Florida, and he went to University of Georgia, so most of his friends/family were all on the east coast. Alison’s family & friends are all in Illinois, which means that she’d been to almost every venue she would have chosen for someone else’s wedding, which didn’t feel special. Charleston was a pretty random spot as we only had 2 sets of family/friends there, but it was one of our absolute favorite cities and a place that we thought our Midwest friends and family would love to visit. Once we chose Charleston, we thought we wanted to a plantation feel, but booked appointments of a variety of venue types in the city. Old Wide Awake Plantation, which we ended up choosing, was one of the first we saw, and it became the one that we compared every other to. When we first turned onto the driveway & the house came into view, it took our breath away and we could clearly picture our perfect wedding there.

Did you decide to do a first look? Yes, we did a first look. We put so much thought and planning into the wedding of our dreams that we didn’t want to miss a single minute of it. Also, since we had a destination wedding, all of our guests were in from out of town, so we felt strongly about mingling as much as possible with everyone during our cocktail hour.

Although it was quite short (our Midwestern guests aren’t used to being out in the SC heat!), the ceremony was incredibly special to us because of who we chose to preside over it. Mike played baseball at University of Georgia and during his time there, he became quite close to the Chaplain of the team, Mr. Ray Lawrence. The day after Mike asked me what I thought about having Mr. Ray marry us, Mike woke up to an out-of-the-blue text from Mr. Ray, and we knew asking him was right.

What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? There were SO many, but one of the most memorable was Mike and me sitting down next to each other being served our dinner when the rest of our table was released to go to the buffet. It was such a small amount of time where it was just the two of us, but it allowed us to soak all of our planning efforts and amazing friends and families who had traveled for our special day.

What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? I loved how creative I was able to be. I came up with a very clear vision of what I wanted, and I went to work finding the best vendors that could help me execute it. More importantly, I loved how many mini vacations Mike and I were able to take during the planning process. We visited Charleston 6 times in 19 months, and we had the best time each time we went. One of our favorite memories was when our flight was canceled due to a late February snowstorm, and we had such critical vendor appointments to make that we decided to rent an SUV and drive through the snow to make it. In hind-sight, not the best choice from a safety and sanity perspective, but it was such an adventure and great memory.

What was Southern about your wedding? Because most of our guests were from the Midwest, we wanted to make sure we provided a great Southern meal. For appetizers, we had sweet potato & ham biscuits, bacon-wrapped scallops, tomato pies, and mini chicken & waffles. Then for dinner we had a buffet (not at all typical in the Midwest – we normally do seated and served dinners) of shrimp and grits, peach glazed pork tenderloin, smoked chicken, fresh green beans, mashed potatoes (both sweet and normal) and biscuits with herb butter and strawberry basil jam. I still get compliments on our food with many claiming it was the best wedding food they’ve ever had. We also incorporated Southern culture with the venue itself. It had such a great history, and I made sure to include it in the program so everyone in attendance could learn what a special place it was.

I’m convinced we had the best baker in the game! We used Izzabee’s Confectioneries in Columbia, SC. I dream of the sweets table that she made for us to this day! We went with a small (basically just a personal one for Mike and me) lemon cake with strawberry cream and lemon curd icing as well as fresh whipped cream. It was a naked cake, and she combined all of that deliciousness in. For the rest of the sweets table we had homemade s’mores (the marshmallows & graham crackers were all from scratch), chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, homemade Oreos, brown butter Rice Krispie treats, mini apple, blueberry, and pecan pies, mini carrot cake and chocolate cupcakes, lemon curd & blueberry tarts, and homemade Twix tarts. INCREDIBLE! Because I knew the sweets would be such a hit, I made sure to include “Treat Bags” at the table so that guests could take some home.

Our music selections throughout the ceremony and reception were especially important to us – we started compiling a list of must-plays right after being engaged! I walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of “Then” by Brad Paisley played by a guitar player and violinist. This song was perfect for us lyrics-wise, it was a great change from the normal “Here comes the bride” and the tempo fit wonderfully. Walking back up the aisle we chose American Authors’ “Best Day of My Life” (again played on guitar & violin). This is one of our absolute favorite songs – it’s super fun, the lyrics fit perfectly, and it got the tone of the night started! To walk into our reception, we chose “This is What You Came For” by Rihanna and Calvin Harris. Being that it was a destination wedding, we thought it fit because let’s be honest, everyone comes for the party! Lastly, our first dance song was “You and Me” by Dave Matthews Band. As long as I’ve known Mike, he’s talked about having this as his first dance song, and after whittling our list down song after song (we compiled and listened to all suggestions on Friday nights while drinking wine) this one persisted. It was the PERFECT first dance song.

Tell us your love story. Mike and I met at work. Mike worked at the company’s Atlanta office and I worked out of Chicago, but our roles had us working very closely. Then once Mike was transferred up to Chicago, the connection was obvious & the rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! Having recently brought home our beloved English Lab, Clarke, Mike asked me to take a random Friday off work to take the pup out to one of my favorite Illinois nature parks, Starved Rock. After about an hour into the hike, at the most scenic look out point, I turned around to see Mike down on one knee with Clarke sitting at his side. It was such a surprise and just perfect. After getting back to the car and calling friends and family to exclaim the great news, Mike let me know that we were headed to a fun restaurant back in Chicago to celebrate, just the two of us. Upon arriving at the restaurant, however, Mike pulled out his second surprise of the night – he had reserved a large private room at the restaurant and ensured all friends and family were in attendance to celebrate the engagement.
When did y’all get married? October 1, 2016.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120.
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? The hardest part of planning the wedding was keeping my budget in check and trying to make sure all contributing family members were appeased!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My venue didn’t require me to use any predetermined list of vendors, so I was able to go out and find vendors that fit into my budget. I also did a lot of things on my own that many people may have paid for (created guest thank you gifts, addressed invites, paid for design of my programs, maps, etc. but printed them myself).
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? If at all possible, do what will make you and your husband happy and don’t worry about anyone else. It’s your day, and you both deserve for it to be exactly what you want it to be.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? It was the best day of my life. :)

Photographer: Landon Jacob | Planner: Jessica Rourke | Venue: Old Wide Awake Plantation | Florist:
Fern Floral & Event Design | Dessert Baker:  Izzabee’s Confectioneries | Caterer: Southern Way Catering | Rentals: Party Reflections | Lighting: Rob McKenzie | DJ: Other Brother Entertainment | Guitar Player: Gregory Guay | Paper Products: Magnificent Milestones | Bride’s Gown: “Stella” by Sarah Seven | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: MiKel Rumsey | Bride’s Shoes: “Romy Gold” by Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Varied Floor Length Tulle Gowns in Graphite by Amsale | Menswear: “Traveler Suit” in Grey by Jos A Bank | Guest Transportation: Coastal Limousine of Charleston | Couple’s Getaway Car: “Caroline” 1950 Bentley Motor Car from Vintage Limousine Service

Jessica Rourke is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    So pretty! Love the dreamy grays and that dessert table…and even though I just see a peek, I pretty much want to buy her mama’s dress and save it for 20-some years, ha!

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Wedding dress shopping can go from dreamy and magical to overwhelming and stressful in the blink of an eye, which is one of the many reasons it’s SO important to choose a bridal salon that will take great care of you! Our Blue Ribbon Vendor salons are the perfect place to start looking (they’ve all been personally vetted and selected by our team), and if you can combine an amazing salon with a trunk show from your favorite designer, I’m willing to bet that your dress shopping experience will become one of your sweetest wedding planning memories. We adore the girls at Twirl, and if you’re in Kentucky (or within driving distance of Lexington!), I highly recommend stopping by their upcoming Nouvelle Amsale trunk show. I still remember the first time I was introduced to this line at Bridal Market a few years ago–it combines Amsale’s signature classic elegance with an amazing price point, so it’s perfect for savvy Southern brides!

This post is brought to you by Twirl–thanks for your support of the brands that make Southern Weddings possible!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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    I’m not sure anything makes a wedding celebration more special (or Southern!) than when family is weaved through the entire thing! Such was certainly the case for Katie and Alex, starting with their ceremony venue–these two followed in Katie’s parents’ footsteps by getting married at the University of Virginia chapel. Along with drawing inspiration from their families for their wedding details (they especially loved their family photo display and the groom’s cake designed in honor of their dog!), Katie and Alex’s loved ones also came through in a big way to bring this special day to life. The perfect example: when they couldn’t make it to Virginia a month before the wedding to bury the bourbon, Katie’s cousin took the task into her own hands! As you can see in these photos by Rachel May, the tradition was a great success, leading to many new family memories being created as Katie and Alex celebrated their marriage.

    P.S. Don’t miss the stories of Alex’s Christmas proposal or Katie’s most memorable wedding day moment below–both are stories for the books!

    The vendor that truly set our wedding apart from others was the very talented Kristy Rice from Momental Designs. Her team hand-painted all of our save the dates, invitations, ceremony programs, menu cards, table numbers, and welcome bag inserts. The designs they created for us were works of art that not only captured Charlottesville’s beauty, but also told our story as a couple. I also have to mention Jodi Macfarlan, who did the stunning calligraphy for our seating chart and place cards at the reception. Her work is seriously the prettiest calligraphy I have ever seen, and her ability to match the designs of our paper goods was beyond impressive.

    Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did not have something borrowed, blue, old, and new. My mom told me that she didn’t partake in the tradition when she got married, and my parents have been married for over thirty-five years, so I didn’t feel the need to either!

    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. It has always been a struggle for me to find dresses that fit well, so to be honest, I was sort of dreading the whole process. My parents were planning a trip from Atlanta to Houston to meet AY’s parents for the first time, so I thought it would be the perfect time to look for a dress with both of our moms and his sisters. We went to Ivory Bridal Atelier in Houston and I tried on several dresses. While every dress the store had was so beautiful, nothing seemed to fit me the right way. Just as I was losing hope, the store manager mentioned that a Fall 2015 Anne Barge dress had just come in. At first glance, I wasn’t in love–it was a light blush color and had an antique look to it. I wanted an ivory dress, but at that point, I was willing to give it a shot. As soon as I stepped into the gown, I got that first feeling of “this might be the one.” It had all this gorgeous lace on the bodice and at the very bottom of the dress. When I saw the matching veil, I was blown away. I knew this was my dress when I found out that I could order it in ivory! With a few magic touches from Linda’s Couture Alterations in Houston, it became everything I was hoping for. Looking back on the whole wedding planning process, dress shopping was absolutely one of my favorite memories and is such a special occasion that every bride should look forward to!

    Our fabulous wedding planner, Cody Grannis of Amore Events, created the bouquets for the wedding party and the floral arrangements for the reception. Cody did an amazing job arranging different types of roses with dark greenery to accentuate the light pink in the bridesmaids’ dresses and really make them pop. For my bouquet, I wanted something that looked natural and almost messy, as if the flowers were picked from a wild garden. It came out even better than I had envisioned and was truly unlike any bouquet I’d ever seen. The flowers for the ceremony were designed by Amy Webb from Blue Ridge Floral Design. Amy completely got my vision when I told her that I wanted to have an entrance for the Chapel unlike anything that has ever been done there before. She created this gorgeous floral arch with white roses and greenery that surrounded the front doors of the Chapel. It was such a dreamy piece that perfectly established the entire look and feel for our ceremony.

    The most memorable moment for me was seeing my grandfather at the front of the Chapel. My grandfather suffers from Parkinson’s and had a few rough days leading up to the wedding–so rough that we were concerned he might not be able to make it to the ceremony. When I met AY at the altar, I looked to my right and saw a light shining through the stained glass windows of the dark chapel right onto my grandfather. Tears immediately came to my eyes. It was such an unforgettable moment because it was everything that my family had been praying for leading up to the wedding. That same light beam later moved over to me and AY, shining down on us as we said our vows. I remember hearing gasps from the congregation right when it happened, and several guests even came up to us afterwards asking if we had planned it, but perfection like that can only be explained as a gift from above!

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? This is an easy one! My parents also graduated from the University of Virginia and were married at the University Chapel on June 28, 1981, so from the moment AY and I started dating during college, I dreamed of following in their footsteps. The University Chapel is so beautiful and rich in history and is such a meaningful place for my family–I really couldn’t imagine us getting married anywhere else. For the reception venue, Charlottesville has so many stunning venues for brides to choose from. AY and I wanted to pick somewhere memorable to us from our time together at UVA. Wine tasting at King Family Vineyards was always one of our favorite activities, and, their views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are breathtaking and second to none!

    Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Is it okay if we have two favorites? A detail we were really excited about was the Moscow mules, which were passed during cocktail hour. Served in a cute copper mug, they seem to always bring smiles to faces. That’s how we knew Moscow mules would be the perfect signature drink for our wedding–plus, they are also really refreshing on a hot summer day! Another detail that was definitely a wow-factor was the wedding memory table, a display of old family wedding photographs designed by my mother. It was a special way to remember our history and give a presence to our loved ones who have passed. It turned out so beautifully and was something our guests really enjoyed.

    A Southern tradition we included in our wedding was burying the bourbon, believed by Southerners to keep the rain away. I tend to worry about silly things like the weather, so when I heard about this tradition, I had to find a way to make it happen, especially because every wedding planner will tell you that Charlottesville weather is the most unpredictable. My cousin and a bridesmaid in our wedding, Jayne Anne, is currently a student at UVA, and offered to bury the bourbon for us at King Family Vineyards, as we live in Dallas, Texas and couldn’t find time to make the trip. In true UVA fashion, she chose to bury Jefferson Reserve, and exactly a month later, we had the most beautiful weather for our big day. To Jayne Anne’s surprise, AY and I asked her to do the honors and dig up the bourbon at the reception, too! We owed her big time for bringing us sunny skies and high-70 temperatures at the end of June! It was such a funny sight to see Jayne Anne trying to dig up the bourbon with the massive shovel provided by King Family–an image we will continue to laugh about for years to come! Once the bourbon was retrieved, AY and I said cheers with two antique sterling silver shot glasses from Tiffany’s, given to us by my mother as a wedding present a few days before the wedding. Each shot glass had our new initials engraved on the front and are keepsakes we will forever cherish in remembrance of the tradition.

    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Especially when times get stressful, try to remember what the day is really about. A dear friend of mine would remind of that by saying, “No more or no less married” when I would start to worry or compare our wedding with others. It’s easy to get wrapped up in it all and lose sight of what’s really important, but your wedding will be perfect in its own way. As you make it about the love that you have for each other, it will, without a doubt, be the best day of your life.

    The cake mastermind, Anita Gupta of Maliha Creations, made both our wedding and groom’s cakes. Our wedding cake was a four-tiered cake with roses and gold leaf flakes decorating the rim of each tier. The cake flavors were hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting and vanilla butter cake with French vanilla buttercream. I was so blown away by our wedding cake–it was beautiful inside and out and looked like something out of a magazine! Our groom’s cake was designed to look like AY’s beloved family dog, Ellie B. Young, who wasn’t able to travel to Charlottesville to celebrate with us. The cake was around two feet tall and featured chocolate cake with Oreo chocolate icing. It was such a sweet surprise for the Youngs that Ellie B. could make an appearance at the wedding, even if it was just in cake form! Having parents that grew up in Charlottesville, there are several local spots that are sentimental for my family. One of those places is The White Spot located on the Corner. It serves an infamous dessert called the “Grillswith,” a grilled and butter-brushed Krispy Kreme donut with vanilla ice cream on top. Our caterer, C&O Restaurant, replicated the recipe perfectly and served Grillswiths to our guests as the late night snack at the reception. I swear, I’ve never seen people react in such a way to a dessert! Everyone couldn’t stop talking about how delicious they were and it was definitely a fun treat for our guests who also know and love The White Spot.

    Our first dance was to “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” by The Tams. We thought this song was perfect for us, as AY’s last name (and now mine) is Young. The song also has a great Motown beat and is super easy to dance to!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We first met at the Foxfield Races, an annual horse race in Charlottesville, during our first year at the University of Virginia. I was introduced to him as “AY,” short for Alex Young, and continue to call him AY to this day. We really didn’t get to know each other until we had a class together our second year. He was in the 8:00 A.M. class section of Commerce 180 and I was in the later section that everyone wanted to be in at 11:00. On the first day of class, AY slept in and missed his section, so he snuck into the later one. During the class, our professor asked the students to divide into groups for the semester. To this day, I can still picture the moment AY walked down the classroom hallway over to me and nervously asked to be in my group. I told him that he had to ask the professor for permission, once he admitted to being in the earlier section. Thankfully, the professor said yes, because I truly believe that our love story began with that study group. I spent more time laughing at his terrible jokes than actually doing work, but I also got to see what a great guy he was…and, he did most of the work. We were both dating other people at the time, but we became great friends because of the class. We finally started dating a month before graduation, and have been together since!
    Tell us all about the proposal! AY came to Atlanta to spend Christmas with my family. On Christmas morning, he pulled me aside and told me that I needed to open my present early. He described it as “Christmas-y” and hinted that he wanted me to have a chance to use it before the day was over. He handed me a medium-sized box, and inside were six ornaments holding pictures of special moments during our relationship. I thought it was such a sweet present and understood why he wanted me to open it early. As I started to hang the picture ornaments on my parents’ Christmas tree, AY mentioned that he forgot to include one ornament in the box before he wrapped it. He hung the last ornament on the tree and asked me to look at the picture. Busy trying to find vacant spots on our very full tree, I just said, “Oh, that’s very cute” without really examining the picture. AY laughed and told me to look closer. When I did, I screamed, as I realized it was a picture of AY down on one knee in front of his family’s Christmas tree back home! He then got down on one knee and asked me to marry him in front of my family, who ran into the room as soon as they heard me scream. My mom was just as surprised as I was–she thought we had knocked over the Christmas tree!
    When did y’all get married? June 25, 2016
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
    Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Having a male vocalist sing “Ave Maria” by J.S. Bach was one of the most important parts of the ceremony for us. My grandfather, who was a professor at UVA and a big reason why I went to school there, has always loved that song. His father (my great-grandfather) was a self-taught opera singer and sang “Ave Maria” at my grandparents’ wedding. We hoped it would evoke special memories, while also creating new ones for our families, and it certainly did!
    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Father Stephen Alcott, a priest from my grandparents’ church in Charlottesville, officiated our ceremony. Leading up to the wedding, AY and I met with Father Stephen several times for marital guidance and counseling. I would definitely encourage other couples to do so as well. Getting to know Father Stephen better and talking through our plan as a married couple put us completely at ease during our ceremony, allowing us to really enjoy and appreciate the moment.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We were very fortunate to have a wonderful wedding and a dream-come-true honeymoon. Now that we are officially the Youngs, we are looking forward to having some down time and getting the chance to be newlyweds. I also have to admit that our wedding diet kept us from trying the hot new restaurants in town, so we are pretty excited about not having to be good anymore!

    Photographer: Rachel May Photography | Planner and Florist: Amore Events | Ceremony Venue: University of Virginia Chapel | Reception Venue: King Family Vineyards | Ceremony Florals: Blue Ridge Floral Design | Wedding Cake: Maliha Creations | Caterer: C&O Restaurant | Rentals: MS Events | Lanterns: Blue Ridge A/V and Lighting | Cocktail Hour Guitarist: Peter Richardson | Band: Attraction via Sam Hill Entertainment | Calligrapher: Jodi Macfarlan Calligraphy and Joie de Vivre Calligraphy | Paper Products: Momental Designs | Bride’s Gown and Veil: “Avallon” by Anne Barge | Bridal Salon: Ivory Bridal Atelier | Bridal Gown Alterations: Linda’s Couture Alterations | Bride’s Hair Piece: Lila Accessories | Hair Stylist: Brianna B. Adams | Makeup Artist: Gohar Makeup | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Various styles in Bellini by Amsale | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Groom’s Tuxedo: Suit Supply | Groom’s Cuff Links: Ledbury | Groom’s Bow Tie: The Cordial Churchman | Bride’s Robe: Girl with a Serious Dream | Bridesmaids’ Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar | Bridesmaids’ Earrings: Erwin Pearl | Maid of Honor’s Hair Accessory: Twigs & Honey | Bouquet Ribbon: Silk & Willow | Wedding Dress Hanger: Poppy and Scooter | Custom Napkins and Drink Stirrers: Laura Hooper Calligraphy | Transportation: Ambassador Limousine and Albemarle Limousine | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Stage: Skyline Tent Company

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
    2 Comments
    1. avatar Rachel May reply

      Thank you so much for the feature! It’s an honor to be on the SW blog! :)

    2. avatar Rosie reply

      Lisa this is beautiful! thank you for sharing.

    Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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