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We see a LOT of Charleston weddings around here (not surprising considering it’s one of the loveliest destinations in the South!). That means that when we’re choosing real weddings to feature each year in print, we have to be extra selective–otherwise, it would be all too easy for half the weddings we shared to be Charleston celebrations! When Stephanie and Johnston’s wedding photos landed in our inbox though, we knew we had a gem that our readers would love as much as we did. Stephanie and Johnston teamed up with A Charleston Bride with a meaningful goal in mind: to make their wedding feel as though it was a fabulous party at their home. Every detail was completely true to their classic style, and the reception even incorporated some of Stephanie’s beloved blue and white china. A few of my favorite personal touches were the ones that paid special tribute to how important their families are to them, from the boxwood family photo display, to the lace from her mother’s wedding dress Stephanie wrapped around her bouquet, to the custom crest they included as a nod to the new family they were starting on their wedding day!

We’re so thrilled Olivia Griffin shared this day with us for V9! We got to celebrate with both Olivia and Stephanie in person at our issue launch party, which was such a treat!

Tell us about your wedding flowers. How did you choose them? What did you love about them? We wanted to incorporate lots of whites, ivories, and natural greens. I started to share some ideas with Lindsey on Pinterest and she and I brainstormed for months to get the combinations just right. She helped me see past just the appeal of the colors, but to think about the feeling and texture that certain varieties can have. She also made sure to create an overall design plan that was lush and full without being too over the top. My bouquet included tulips, peonies, and hyacinths. The construction was a modern take on the traditional with block groupings instead of the flowers being mixed evenly throughout. The bouquet was wrapped with lace from my mother’s wedding dress that she had kept preserved all these years!

We were married in Charleston, South Carolina at the end of February, and luckily, it felt like spring! Charleston is a special destination for us as a couple. We have traveled there together several times, and we love all of the restaurants, shopping, and the history of the town. I had always envisioned getting married outside by the water and Johnston and I wanted a destination wedding. Lowndes Grove gave us the Southern feel we were looking for, was right next to the water, was a large white plantation, and was also in a city we love! Being that we both wanted a black-tie affair and wanted the sun to be setting when we said “I do,” we spoke with our photographer and videographer to see what time of day would be best for our ceremony.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. We had a gospel choir sing guests into the ceremony, where they were greeted with a glass of champagne. We decided to have our ceremony facing the Ashley River on the backside of the property, instead of on the grand front lawn, to make the atmosphere feel more intimate. It was such a beautiful and peaceful backdrop. I also had a trumpet player for my entrance into the ceremony with my father. It was a really special way to come into the space, and made me think of all the weddings I had watched when I was a little girl.
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? Johnston: The first look and Stephanie walking down the aisle. Stephanie: Walking down the aisle and saying “I do!” During the ceremony itself, when my dad and I started walking down the aisle toward Johnston, I was overwhelmed with all the love felt. Seeing people we have known our whole lives who traveled to witness Johnston and me get married was a feeling I will never forget.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved dresses and getting dressed up for events! Given my extreme love of fashion, shopping, and clothes, I knew that my wedding dress had to be the most stunning, gorgeous, timeless dress I had ever seen. I wasn’t even looking for dresses (since I was not engaged at this point) when I came across a picture of the Oscar de la Renta “Caroline” dress. I immediately called Oscar de la Renta in New York and inquired about the dress. They informed me that this dress was not in stores yet but would be by the spring (perfect timing on the engagement). I called the only store in Atlanta that would be carrying this dress and made sure they called me the day it arrived. We got engaged, and the timing was perfect because three days later, the dress was in! My mom and I went to see it and I tried it on and that was it! I knew instantly this was the dress I had always dreamed I’d wear when I walked down the aisle! The lady at the store told me that this was the last dress that Oscar himself created for his bridal collection before he passed away! I have such a love and passion for fashion that this dress exceeded my wildest dreams of any wedding dress I’ve ever seen!

We had a large focal point of a live greenery wall, where I gathered wedding pictures from Johnston’s and my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents. This meant so much to us because our families are extremely important to us and we are fortunate to have parents who are still as in love as they were when they were married over 35 years ago!

Our cocktail hour was perfect, and since we did a first look, we got to spend as much time as possible with our family, friends, and guests. We had the band play during the entire cocktail hour and had amazing hors d’oeuvres passed, which we had spent so much time picking out. We wanted each guest to feel welcome from the second they stepped off of the trolley and entered our wedding evening. Each guest was greeted with a glass of champagne to toast to the evening to come. Once the ceremony was finished, everyone went inside the house. We had a greenery-covered bar and blue and white ceramic lamps in the entry to greet everyone. They then walked into the main house and saw our cake on display under the spiral staircase, and smaller separated rooms they could walk in for chef-attended short ribs and oysters on ice. We also had a focal wall, in greenery of course, and hung our family wedding photos underneath our guest book.

The wedding exuded the same design and style of our house, which everyone remarked upon. People said they felt like they were at a party at our home (albeit a slightly larger house with a view of the water). We incorporated as many personal items from our home as we could carry in all of our trips up to Charleston. The blue and white china and monogrammed pillows are back in our home today, and seeing them on a daily basis reminds us of the wonderful wedding day!

Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: Walking into the wedding process, I had a good idea of things I was naturally attracted to and liked. Once Lindsey and I got started on what elements we wanted to bring in, she and the ACB team asked a lot of questions about us as a couple, our family, our style, and our interests. Somehow, all of that came into the design and we loved it all even more than clippings or pictures we had seen before. Inspiration was the soft palette of natural ivories and greens with accents of gold and dark charcoal. I wanted to incorporate a black and white dance floor, large focal bars, crystal chandeliers, and lots of boxwood and flowers. Once we got started, we incorporated blue and white china, which I collect, and it really finished out the design. There was a little something to discover everywhere.

The wedding cake was a three-tier hexagon cake covered in ivory fondant with a gold-covered vintage lettered monogram on the middle layer and a few delicate white flowers placed at the top. It was simply stunning. The stand was polished silver and was a gift from a dear friend. The silver cake server and knife were heirloom pieces Johnston’s parents used at their wedding to cut their cake!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met at a mutual friend’s 30th birthday party. I had recently moved home to Atlanta from Florida, where I had lived since graduating from Alabama in 2007. One of my best friends convinced me to attend the party, as I had originally planned to stay home for the night because I was in a boot from a running injury. Johnston had been living in Atlanta since he graduated from Ole Miss in 2007. I lived a few doors down from Johnston’s cousin at Alabama, and thought I had recognized him, as they look very much alike. I introduced myself and there was an immediate connection. It is crazy to think about all the mutual friends we shared and all of the parties and weddings in college and after that we were both at and never once met. Johnston was in the background of a picture I found from a friend’s wedding four years before, which we attended with other dates! We realized that everything happens in God’s time and happens for a reason! We both knew immediately this was something special, and several months later, we were engaged!
Describe the proposal: Johnston had arranged for both of our families and a few close friends to meet at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The weather was near perfect in mid-March, warm without being overwhelming. We walked through Piedmont Park and then into the main courtyard of the Botanical Gardens, where all of the tulips, one of my favorite flowers, were in full bloom! Johnston took a knee and I began crying and said “yes!” Having our families and best friends there cheering for us was such a special touch that Johnston organized. We then went to a wonderful dinner with everyone to celebrate!
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? With the advice from some friends, who were married a few months before us, we attended several sessions of marriage counseling. While we did not have any serious issues to discuss when we started going, we found it very helpful to talk through many of the matters the counselor said cause problems down the line in most marriages. We also met with the minister who married us for several premarital sessions as well. Spending time with him going over our backgrounds and views on marriage and our parents’ marriages was very special, and he made our ceremony incredibly personal from our discussions. When we were first engaged, my mom also gave me the Southern Weddings Planner! She knows I like to stay extremely organized, and this planner had amazing advice and tools to use while planning a perfect Southern wedding. With the ability to add our information into it, I brought this to every meeting and referred to it daily while planning the wedding and keeping myself organized in the process!
How many guests attended your wedding? 165
Who was one of the most special guests at your wedding? Mu grandparents, who have been married for 61 years!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? For now, we are readjusting to the real world and enjoying newlywed life: traveling for a few weddings, catching up with friends, and spending plenty of time with our dog, Oliver. We look forward to hosting dinner parties, redesigning rooms in our home, and possibly searching for a new house down the line. In the future, we plan to start a family and look forward to everything marriage has to offer.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Never lose sight of what the day is really about. There are so many moving parts and you put a lot of pressure on yourselves, but remember that this is about the two of you and the decision you have made to spend your lives together. Enjoy the day and hire a great videographer so you can relive this day for the rest of your lives!

Photographer: Olivia Griffin Photography | Videographer: Kickstand Studio | Planner, Designer, and Decor: Lindsey Shanks of A Charleston Bride | Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation | Florals: Jonie LaRosse of A Charleston Bride | Caterer: Fish Restaurant | Wedding Cake: Patrick Properties | Bride’s Gown: “Caroline” by Oscar de la Renta | Bridal Salon: Joan Pillow Bridal | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaid Dresses: Style 450248 in Slate by Monique Lhuillier | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Ash and Co. | Groom’s Tuxedo: Sid Mashburn | Groom’s Shoes: Stubbs and Wooten | Groomsmen Fashion: The Black Tux | Paper Goods and Invitations: MADE Papier | Crest Design: Arabella June | Rentals: Snyder Rental, A Charleston Bride, Ooh! Events, and TEC Lighting Company | Linens: BBJ Linen | Reception Pillows: Number Four Eleven | Transportation: Absolutely Charleston | Bride and Groom Exit: Classic Boat Charleston | Lighting: IES Productions

A Charleston Bride is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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    There are so many richly historic towns in the South, and since Grace and Bobby are lucky to be from one of them, they embraced the opportunity to be married in their hometown. They filled their Southern garden party wedding with nods to Aiken, South Carolina’s equestrian and golfing traditions, combined with details that were particularly meaningful to them. Grace’s biggest must-have, for example, was lily of the valley–her grandmother grows the sweet-smelling blooms in her garden and couldn’t be at the wedding, so Grace’s lily of the valley bouquet was a beautiful way to honor her. It also looked so elegant against the crisp blue and green wedding color palette!

    Big SW hugs to Ashley Seawell for sharing Grace and Bobby’s lovely wedding with us!

    I was very lucky to work for Karin Jeffcoat of Cote Designs after college. Karin is truly talented, and I knew from the start that I was not going to have to worry about the flowers as long as they were in Karin’s hands. I love the classic blue and white look, so my mother and I collected blue and white Chinese porcelain jars, vases, and bowls to use throughout the reception. The only detail that I was adamant about was that I wanted lily of the valley in my bouquet and Bobby’s boutonniere. My grandmother on my father’s side has a beautiful garden with lily of the valley that blooms in early May every year. She was unable to make the ceremony due to illness, but incorporating lily of the valley in my bouquet was my way of having her presence there that day. I just love how delicate and classic lily of the valley is, and they smell amazing.

    Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? I really pushed to do a first look before our ceremony because I knew I would be a ball of nerves–it was Bobby who really wanted to keep the ceremony traditional. In the end, I was so happy that we decided against it because having the doors open and seeing Bobby down the aisle was so special. It felt we were the only ones in the room for that brief moment.

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? The ceremony location was the church that I grew up attending with my family and grandmother, so it felt right for us to be married there. The reception venue was chosen because we really wanted to have an outdoor reception. Bobby is an avid golfer, so we started thinking about local clubs. The Palmetto Golf Club is a beautiful, historic club, and it was the perfect location for our wedding.

    Bobby and I both grew up in the beautiful town of Aiken, South Carolina. Aiken has a great equestrian community, as well as a rich golfing history, being located just 30 minutes from Augusta. We wanted our wedding to really play to those unique aspects that Aiken has to offer. From the beautiful Episcopal church that I grew up attending, to a horse and carriage to take us to the reception, to our reception at Palmetto Golf Club that is one of the ten oldest golf clubs in America, we tried to take advantage and emphasize all these fantastic things for our “Southern garden party” wedding.

    Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our ceremony featured the traditional songs of an Episcopal wedding, but one of the first things we did after we got engaged was to start researching bands. We love to dance and knew that the band would be one of our favorite things about our wedding. Our biggest requirement was to have a horn section, which is crucial for our first dance song, “You Are The Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne. We both love that song, but more importantly, I love that it is something that Bobby sings along to, which is exactly what he did during our first dance. Thinking about that still makes me smile. The father-daughter dance was “Tupelo Honey” by Van Morrison, and Bobby danced with his mother to Rod Stewart’s “Have I Told You Lately.”

    My mother, a few dedicated family friends, and I built Tavern on the Green-inspired Japanese lanterns in assorted chintz fabrics to line the dance floor. It was a labor intensive process, but the lantern clusters really helped create our garden party atmosphere.

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Bobby and I are both from Aiken, South Carolina and we met in high school. As cliché as it may sound, a date to prom was the start of our relationship. I went off to College of Charleston my freshman year of college and Bobby went to Clemson. After countless visits to Clemson that year, I decided to become a Tiger as well. It proved to be a great decision in all respects. Even after graduation took us to different states, we stayed together.
    Tell us all about the proposal! I was in Italy for work the week before Bobby proposed, and as we talked throughout the week, he started throwing out very romantic ideas for his visit to Greenville the next weekend. They were very “un-Bobby-like” ideas, so I started to feel like he was up to something. That Friday, Bobby went to Atlanta (unbeknownst to me) with my aunt and uncle to go ring shopping. The ring must have been burning a hole in his pocket because he proposed within minutes of arriving to Greenville! I was so shocked, he had to tell me over and over again that it was not a joke and he was serious! My favorite part of our proposal was later hearing my aunt tell the story of looking for the ring. When he first arrived, Bobby kept saying that he was planning to propose around the holidays. After they started looking, the proposal date started to move earlier and earlier. After the ring was picked out, Bobby started planning a trip less than a month away so that he could ask. By the time the ring was sized and in his hand, he couldn’t wait and ended up asking that same weekend.
    When did y’all get married? June 15, 2013
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 225
    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I have always loved classic gowns and knew that I wanted mine to have lace accents. My mother, sister, and a family friend came with me to a Brides Against Breast Cancer showroom. After a day of trying on gowns, we all fell in love with a gorgeous Anne Barge dress that featured beautiful ornate lace on the bodice. I absolutely loved the dress, and it felt great that the money went towards breast cancer research.
    Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not. We followed the traditional Episcopal wedding ceremony.
    Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We worked with Kyndra Shedd of Kyndra’s Cakes to create a dessert table with a variety of smaller cakes, in all different sizes and flavors. My mother, who is an interior designer, had collected a number of these wonderful antique wooden capitals that we used to display some of the cakes. That was one of my favorite details–it really gave their entire dessert table the charm that we were looking for. In addition to traditional layer cakes, Kyndra also created pound cakes with lemon cream to serve with fresh strawberries as a play on one of my favorite desserts growing up–strawberry shortcake.
    Our favorite detail of the wedding was: From the start of wedding planning, I knew I wanted to incorporate my love of Prosecco and all other bubbly cocktails into one of our bars. Bobby had his own bar that served wine and craft beers on a vintage barn table under a beautiful tree off the dance floor, but it was the Bubbly Bar in the porch rotunda area that we really had some fun with while decorating. Since we were outside, we also wanted to incorporate an outdoor grilling element for the food. We met with Christian Carlisle of Plum Pudding, who had a wonderful idea for grilled gourmet pizzas. Bobby and I love grilling pizzas in the summer, so we fell in love with the idea. His port poached pear and blue cheese pizza with port reduction sauce was hands down one of our favorite food items.
    What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Since we were planning the reception outdoors, we made sure that we adhered to the Southern tradition of burying a bottle of Jack Daniels as fair weather insurance. My maid of honor and I had a great time digging a hole, then reciting the following poem: “There once was a groom and a bride, who planned a wedding outside. Their friend said, “Get Jack and bury him out back” to keep the rain aside. So they dug a hole with vigor to bury the bottle of liquor. There it will stay until the right day, and they’ll rejoice with a jigger!” It is only crazy if it doesn’t work, right? Well, Jack did his job! I highly recommend it for any couple planning an outdoor wedding or reception. Bobby is looking forward to digging up Jack soon, too.
    If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
    What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Each and every one of our vendors was fantastic and I cannot say enough good things about them. Cote Designs helped bring our vision to life. Ashley Seawell was amazing at capturing moments throughout the day. Our caterers, Donna Jannik and Christian Carlisle, were fantastic and really helped create a menu that reflected our tastes for guests to enjoy.
    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Other than the ceremony itself, the most memorable moment was walking hand in hand into our reception, decorated just as we had imagined, and seeing our dear friends and family there to celebrate us. It is maybe the only time in your life that all your friends and family are in one place, so we made sure to have a great time and really celebrate the day with everyone.
    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Spreadsheets will become your best friend. The biggest advice I have for my friends going through the wedding planning process right now is to not stress over all the small details. In the end, everything will be wonderful.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Bobby and I have enjoyed settling down in Greenville, South Carolina and are looking forward to buying a house in 2014. We are ready for an exciting future together that will hopefully include many trips and wonderful new memories with family and friends.

    Photographer: Ashley Seawell Photography / Planner and Florist: Cote Designs / Ceremony Venue: St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church / Reception Venue: Palmetto Golf Club / Wedding Cake Baker: Kyndra’s Cakes / Caterer: Donna Jannik Catering and Christian Carlisle / Rentals: All Star Tents and Events / Band: Flashback, the Party Band / Bride’s Gown: Anne Barge / Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas / Bride and Bridal Party Earrings: Graffito / Hair Stylist: Kelsey McDonald at Regency Salon and Spa / Makeup Artist: Gallery J Salon / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J.Crew / Men’s Attire: Lionel Smith, Ltd, Aiken, South Carolina / Linens: Cote Designs and Material Things

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
    7 Comments
    1. avatar Amanda {Planning It All} reply

      I love the flower girls’ dresses!

    2. avatar Sunday Grant Photography reply

      Beautiful wedding!

    3. avatar Emily reply

      I love her lily of the valley bouquet – so sweet!

    4. avatar Spring Bouquet: Lily of the Valley » Delancey and Penn {Local Love & Life} reply

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    5. avatar Something Blue | garnishboutique reply

      […] See the rest of this gorgeous wedding by Ashley Seawell here! […]

    6. avatar Laura reply

      Beautiful wedding (and the flower girl dresses are darling)! Do you mind if I ask the designer of the little girls’ dresses?

    7. avatar Sarah Semelsberger reply

      Where did you find the girls blue floral dresses?! They are gorgeous and my sister would like one for her god daughter!

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    This winter is making me eat my words, but usually we don’t get much snow in the South. So before we say goodbye to the colder months for good, we thought it would be fun to celebrate with a little sprinkling of the white stuff! We love all of the cozy, knit details that Mobella Events incorporated into this shoot as much as we love the soft and sweet photographs Bumby Photography produced. And the best part? The high school sweethearts who posed as our bride + groom just got engaged! Fingers crossed we’ll get to share their real wedding somewhere down the line.

    This team came up with the sweetest story to inspire their shoot – I think y’all will love it!

    Anna and Lucas’ first date celebrated their favorite time of the year – winter. They made dinner together, and while cozying up to a fire, something magical happened: it started snowing! When it was time for Lucas to be deployed, he couldn’t leave without marrying the love of his life, so he proposed on Christmas day.

    The first day of their marriage was not only inspired by their first date, but also by the Bible verse, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). This verse was significant to these two, as in their relationship, they knew they would be separated by his overseas deployments — but they would always be woven together by God. This passage also provided the inspiration for our cozy, cable knit filled winter wedding filled with love, warmth and Southern comfort.

    They got married in front of a wooden cross that her father hand made. During the ceremony, they braided three strands together – a white strand – representing the bride, a purple strand – the groom and a gold strand – God. This ceremony symbolized them weaving their lives together with God at the center of their marriage. As they walked down the aisle, guests made it “snow” just like their first date.

    Then their family and friends went inside for a cozy family style dinner! The wooden tables and mismatched chairs were set with cable knit blankets and scarves, white china and deep blue glasses. The napkins were tied with soft velvet ribbon and candles and table numbers were wrapped in yarn. The centerpieces were placed in baskets collected from relatives.

    The cake included fondant buttons molded from handed down vintage buttons. The bride and groom danced in the snow and ended the night cozying up by the fire enjoying hot cocoa and s’more pies!

    Fun Notes: The bride and groom for this photo shoot are high school sweethearts. He flew from Pennsylvania just for the photo shoot. They hadn’t seen each other in months and their expressions were so sweet and genuine! The blanket they are wrapped in was made by the bride’s grandmother.

    Thanks to Imprint Cinema for giving us the chance to see this winter wonderland in action!

    Bridal gown and accessories: Malindy Elene | Cake: Everything Cake | China, glassware, and silverware: Dishie Rentals | Design and coordination: Mobella Events | Florist: Bluegrass Chic | Hair and makeup: Hairstyles and Makeup by Jackie | Handmade decor: Katie K. Franklin | Napkins: Kirby Rentals | Officiant: A Beautiful Ceremony | Photography: Bumby Photography | Snow and cloud effect: Our DJ Rocks | Stationery: Nu.B.Era Paperie Boutique | Tables, chairs, and vintage rentals: Wish Vintage Rentals | Venue: Mission Inn Resort & Club | Videography: Imprint Cinema

    emily Written with love by Emily
    6 Comments
    1. avatar Lisa reply

      So gorgeous! I love the guests throwing “snow”–what a great idea for winter weddings in the South, especially!

    2. avatar Kat reply

      I just LOVE that wedding cake!!

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      […] Here are a few of the amazing shots Bumby Photography captured. Check out the rest at our feature in Southern Weddings Magazine. […]

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      […] Toss “snow” instead of birdseed! A fun, unique idea for that walk down the aisle. […]

    6. avatar Bonnie Dutka reply

      It’s been surprisingly chilly in Florida the last couple of days on and off and it reminded me how much fun creating this love story was! Every time I see cable knit and anything cozy it makes me smile :) Thanks so much Southern Weddings for featuring us!

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