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Oh y’all, you know a Real Wedding is going to be gorgeous when you’ve already swooned (multiple times) and you’ve only seen the first three photos! It’s even better when you’ve also cried while reading the bride’s interview! Be sure to check out Mary Simm’s most memorable moment below — I know you’ll love it, too!

Mary Simms + Alex’s sweet South Carolina wedding was filled with family traditions, like the prayer her grandfather said before every meal, and handmade details like the amazing cross Alex made for their ceremony. When asked what was Southern about her wedding, she replied, “What wasn’t Southern about it!?” A girl after my own heart!

We SW gals are sending Jennings King some big ol’ hugs for sharing this lovely day with us!

Well hello, you beautiful sparklers! Mary Simms is giving the Duchess of Cambridge a run for her money!

Keep an eye on that monogrammed beauty there — it will make its debut later in the evening!

I found my dress at the first place I tried gowns on. However, I wasn’t quite ready to commit… finding THE one is a big deal, plus trying on all these beautiful dresses was beyond fun! My mother and I went to four other stores and I tried on probably 25 other dresses before returning to the first place.

A month before the wedding during my bachelorette party, my bridesmaids and I went out to the wedding site at Boone Hall and buried a bottle of bourbon under a tree. (This is an old Southern tradition that if done correctly (the bottle must be buried completely full and upside down) means it will not rain on your wedding day.) Not a drop of rain on March 29th, so it’s safe to say I am a believer!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Honestly, everything. Every little detail was made with love. One detail that we really enjoyed was our getaway car. It was a 1952 light green Ford pick up truck appropriately named Sweet Pea and it was used for so many things throughout the night. It was set up next to the Cotton Dock with the tailgate down. We had burlap-wrapped buckets with water bottles and cans of champagne in them for our guests. After the ceremony, Sweet Pea became the backdrop for our photo booth. It certainly made for some GREAT pictures! At the end, Alex and I sat on the back of the truck while a driver drove us off into the night.

For our wedding favors, Alex and I made 200 cotton angels that we tied strings to so they can be used for ornaments. We love to travel, and we always bring home a Christmas ornament from every place we go, so we thought the cotton angels would be a personal touch for all of our guests to keep. Alex picked the cotton himself from a family cotton field and we spent many nights gluing on halos and wings.

We did not write our own vows, but we made them custom to fit us. My favorite line from our vows was, “I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together.” My favorite verse from the God of Love Prayer was, “Bless this husband. May he so live that she may find in him the heaven for which her heart truly longs. Bless this wife. Give her the inner beauty of soul that never fades, that eternal youth that is found in holding fast to the things that never age. God, give them enough tears to keep them tender, enough hurts to keep them human, enough failure to keep their hands tightly clenched to yours, and enough success to make them sure they walk with you God.”

We didn’t do a first look either. Alex didn’t know anything about my dress or how I would wear my hair, and he wanted it to be that way until the moment he saw me walking down the aisle. As much as we wanted to see each other before, we knew the surprise factor would make it much more exciting for us. The second I saw him standing in front of me at the end of the aisle was the best second of my life. It was such an amazing and overwhelming feeling and I will never ever forget it.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy every minute because it all happens in the blink of an eye. Soak it all in and remember that at the end of the day it’s about the two of you. After your ceremony, have a friend or family member make you a plate of food and eat it! You will be so busy talking to everyone and dancing that it is easy to forget to eat. Also, a piece of advice that my photographer Jennings gave me a few days before the wedding: Try to take a moment or two away from everyone during the reception, just the two of you. Say I love you, take a few deep breaths, and enjoy your first moments as a married couple.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had a round, three-tier cake with a bead border around each tier. Each tier was a different flavor: the bottom tier was white chocolate, the middle tier was hummingbird with a cream cheese filling (my absolute favorite!) and the top tier was chocolate Kahlua (which we have in our freezer!).

I love that Mary Simms changed from a white sash at the ceremony to this fabulous monogramed Tiffany blue sash at the reception!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. The night after a mutual friend pointed out we had a lot in common and should go out Alex asked me to go to dinner with him on Folly Beach. I ordered the tuna and asked for it to be cooked rare, and from that moment on Alex says he knew he was going to marry me one day. We in fact did have a lot in common (including our love for a good piece of seafood) and have had many dates since then!
Tell us all about the proposal! A few of our close friends had already booked a Mediterranean cruise and had been begging us to join them for months. Although Alex and I had just got a new puppy a week before, we decided that we just could not pass up this offer. We booked our spot on the cruise along with our plane tickets the very next day. Getting ready for the long journey across seas, I was nervous and excited all at once: not only was this my first time going to Europe, but we were also going to be there for my 25th birthday! Our itinerary said we would be in Rome for two days, the first of which would be on my birthday. On July 18th, Alex and I and our friends decided that we would tour the city of Rome, beginning with a tour of the Vatican. There is a strict dress code for the Vatican, where men have to wear long pants and women should not have their shoulders or knees showing. Needless to say, it got a little hot walking around the city in 80 degrees after the tour of the Vatican was over. We all decided to walk over to the famous Trevi Fountain to toss in our good luck coins before breaking for lunch. During the walk over, I noticed Alex wasn’t talking very much and seemed like he was trying to catch his breath. He assured me nothing was wrong, that he was just hot and would be fine soon. We made our way through the crowd, down the steps and to the bottom of the Trevi Fountain where my best friend Gina told Alex and I to face her as we tossed our coins in so she could get a picture. It was then, as I was grinning from ear to ear, tossing my coin over my shoulder at the same time Alex was, that Gina screamed, “Oh my Lord! Mary Simms!!” I had no idea what she was shouting for until I turned my head to look at Alex, who was down on one knee proposing. It was hands down the best moment of my life. I was in a beautiful city known for its romance, surrounded by my closest friends, and the man of my dreams asking me to spend the rest of my life with him. I said yes, and the entire crowd began clapping. It was magical, to say the least.
When did y’all get married? March 2013
How many friends, family, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. A trio including a flutist, a trumpet player and a violinist played music before the ceremony started. We used “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” for the seating of the mothers, “Trumpet Voluntary” for the processional, Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” for my processional, and Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” for our recessional. Our first dance was “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” by Van Morrison and our father/daughter dance was to “I’ll be there” by Jackson 5.
Describe your wedding flowers. Our flowers were absolutely beautiful: pink peonies, white roses, cherry blossoms, and white hydrangeas in large and small vases. Since our wedding was two days before Easter, we wanted our decor to be soft, but elegant.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? What wasn’t Southern about it!? We were married on an old dock on a historic, breathtaking Southern plantation surrounded by live oaks with hanging moss, cotton fields, oyster beds, and salt water. We also had a family prayer that was said before the food was served: “Lord, Bless us and Bind us, Put our Sins Behind us, and Hide us where the Devil can’t Find us!” My grandfather would say this before every meal, and it has been passed on to every family member. Alex built the cross we used as our backdrop on the dock. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. My aunt hand-sewed my new initials into the handkerchief that I used to wrap around my bouquet. We had a direction sign of our favorite places that we have traveled to over the years. The special thing about the sign was that each of my bridesmaids painted an arrow.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It was all very memorable, but the one moment that I will cherish for a lifetime was when I arrived at Boone Hall in the car with my maid of honor. We were waiting for the go ahead from my wedding planner that we could get out of the car when I saw one of Alex’s groomsmen running down the road toward us. I had no idea what was happening, or why on earth he was not with Alex and the other groomsmen. The ceremony was supposed to start in less than five minutes! He motioned for me to roll down my window, and when I did, he handed me a folded up piece of paper and said, “This is from Alex. He says he loves you to the moon and back times a million and he can’t wait to see you.” (Alex and I say that to each other all the time). The tears were already starting to roll, and I contemplated for about a second whether I should read the letter or not, because I didn’t want to be a complete mess walking down the aisle. But I pulled my self together and read aloud the sweetest letter I have ever received. All of my wedding jitters were suddenly gone, and I couldn’t wait to get out of that car!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Alex and I are most excited to start building a life and a family together. We closed on our first house two weeks after the wedding, and are now getting all settled in. We have plans to travel as much as we can and continue to enjoy every day that God gives us.

Ooh! Events is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    The only thing sweeter than this beautiful Southern wedding is the story behind it! I love their proposal story and her most memorable moment of the day!

  2. avatar Jennings Cornwell King reply

    You ladies know how to even make a photographer cry after looking at my images all over again, I love your detailed survey! It helps with all the story telling that I as the photographer can’t always express. THANK YOU Southern Weddings! phenomenal post!! – Jennings King

  3. avatar Julia reply

    Simply stunning!!!

  4. avatar Kat reply

    Oh I love her dress and that pretty blue reception sash! And you can’t beat a pickup named Sweet Pea!! Beautiful wedding :)

  5. avatar Elmira reply

    What a well-deserved honor for Jenning the photographer who caputered it all, Julia the MOB who planned it all, and Mary Simms…the beautiful bride who glowed through it all! What a special wedding and I am so happy it is being shared with so many through Southern Weddings!

  6. avatar Megan reply

    These pictures and ideas are fantastic!

  7. avatar Katie reply

    Do you know where they bought their custom koozies from? Loved all the ideas.

  8. avatar Amy reply

    Oh I love her garter… do you know where it’s from???

  9. avatar Jessica reply

    Who made your dress?? It is absolutely GORGEOUS!

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I have to agree with Carissa, her wedding to Ryan at Boone Hall Plantation WAS coastal Southern to a “T.” From the oyster wreathes to the yummy pies, each detail that went into their big day not only fell in line with the their theme, but was created as a labor of love by themselves or their family and friends. Even her stunning Justin Alexander gown fit perfectly into the feel of their wedding — the lining of the dress was called “oyster”! But Carissa’s favorite detail makes my heart happy: the table that held photos of all their grandparents.

Big hugs to our sweet friend Paige Winn for not only capturing the gorgeous details, but the fun that C + R’s guest had!

My mama, sister and some bridesmaids came into town one weekend to go dress shopping. It was a long weekend and I must have tried on over 20 dresses. I had flagged a Justin Alexander dress in a magazine early on in our engagement and after the unfruitful weekend, I kept thinking about it. I looked up where the designer was sold, went with one of my lovely bridesmaids and tried it on. It was perfect and exactly what I was looking for with a vintage feel, Venetian lace and the color of the lining of the dress was even called “oyster.” That sold me and I purchased the dress that afternoon.

Holy cow, those rows of oak trees at Boone Hall are certain to make you swoon!

Did you write your own vows? Our preacher, a dear friend, gave us a template of what he usually uses and we customized it. My favorite part of our vows was not a line, but when we took communion together and had a couple minutes just to the two of us. The violinists and guitarists played “Come Thou Font” (one of our favorite songs).
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? One of our dearest friends read Eccles. 4:9-12
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding.  Our moms walked down the aisle to “Calico Skies,” my bridesmaids walked down to “Stand By Me,”  I walked down to “Young at Heart” (one of our songs), and exited to “Here Comes the Sun.” We first danced to “Le Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong. Some other songs that we requested because they were special to us were “Let My Love Open the Door” and “Stir It Up” by Bob Marley. We left to “Your Love is Liftin’ Me Higher.”

Our wedding was coastal southern to a “T.” We had oysters everywhere, from the food to the décor. We had mason jars for everyone to grab, write their name on the tag strung to it, use and take home. We also used mason jars for decoration. We got married outside under one of my favorite century-old oak trees by the water and then had our reception in the Cotton Dock. We got married at Boone Hall Plantation, a Charleston institution run by a dear friend and one of the sweetest men in town.

The wedding was a labor of love not only from my family but from close friends in the area as well. We had so many helping hands in preparation for and during the day. Two dear family friends coordinated the day-of details and set up, Mama, myself and various bridesmaids made all the decorations, Stono Café are dear friends and were tremendously helpful, as well as the plantation owner and band. All in all, Ryan and I were overwhelmed by all of the help, love and support we received from countless people. The wedding truly would not have happened without them. Despite its growth, Charleston is still a “small town” full of big hearted, close-knit people.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: We had a dear friend make several different cakes and pies. They were delicious! The cake topper was made by my sister.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: There were so many to choose from. My mother and I spent months on the details. I spent hours and hours on wrapping wine bottles in burlap, twine and lace, making oyster centerpieces and collecting old books and mason jars. I suppose my favorite detail was the table with pictures of our grandparents. My Nanna was the only grandparent that was able to physically be there and it meant a lot to us to have every grandparent there in photographs.

My most memorable moment about the wedding day was the private oyster roast that we had for Ryan, myself and the bridesmaids and groomsmen after the ceremony and before we were all introduced at the reception. I just remember thinking how wonderfully happy I was to be married to my best friend and surrounded by all of the friends we accrued throughout our lives and who will be by our side for many years to come. It was just a moment of pure joy to have my husband by me, with our friends surrounding us shucking oysters.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Ryan and I met while we were in school at the University of Georgia. We started to catch each other’s eyes in the first semester of our junior year. One night after hanging out with friends, Ryan asked if I wanted to “borrow” some wood from a construction site on the way back to his apartment to build a table together, as he knew we both enjoyed building things. We started building the table but it was really an excuse for us to hang out together. One night in November, it was too cold to stay outside and work on the table so he asked me on our first date.
Describe the proposal. Ryan picked me up from work to take me on our third anniversary date. He took me to see the movie “Hugo” and then we were going to dinner. After the movie, he took me by his neighborhood’s clubhouse we were shared our first kiss three years ago to the day. I still was not expecting anything because we had revisited the spot many times before. We got out of the car and the porch where we first kissed was decorated with flower petals, lanterns, and candles. He led me up onto the porch to a canvas picture of Boone Hall Plantation’s Avenue of Oaks (a very special place to my family and the place where we got married!). He knelt down and I immediately started bawling. He had one of our dearest friends hiding, taking pictures of the whole proposal. After the proposal, I tried to call my family but no one picked up. Ryan drove us back to his house where all of our family and close friends were waiting to surprise us. That is why we went to the movie, so he could kill time as my family drove in from Charleston, South Carolina. It was the most amazing thing to share the moment with them!
In what month did you get married? January
How many guests attended your wedding?  150 guests
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Yes, we did decide to do a first look. We wanted to get beautiful pictures of just the two of us that weren’t rushed after the ceremony. We were hesitant to do the first look, but it was a great move for us as it really calmed us down before the ceremony and gave us a moment to soak up each other before things got crazy.
Describe your wedding flowers: I wanted a very natural, meadow-like look to all the flowers. They were beautiful and consisted of a lot of wildflowers like lavender, mums and bells of Ireland.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? My father has had health issues for years now but got very sick during the period of planning the wedding. We were unsure about whether or not he would be able to walk me down the aisle. It put a lot of stress on our family but it also put the wedding in perspective and made us aware that, while the day is important, it’s about Ryan and I coming together first and foremost.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$20,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? My shawl that I wore day of. It was an Etsy purchase that I did not budget for. The Etsy designer made it custom for my dress and it was my favorite accessory that day.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Pick one, two or even a handful of things that are really special or important to you. The rest is negotiable.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We just bought a house and started new jobs recently. I’ll think we think concentrating on nesting and relaxing for a while. Who knows, the world’s our oyster!

Paige Winn is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Sukey (Dress For The Wedding) reply

    Loving that dress and the beautiful and creative use of oysters – especially those fantastic wreaths! The picture with guests lined up with the sparklers is such an amazing, treasured moment to have captured! Beautiful!

  2. avatar Lisa reply

    Her gown is gorgeous, and it looks incredible against that dreamy Spanish moss!

  3. avatar Wedding Invitations reply

    Gorgeous, gorgeous wedding. Loving all the details. That picture down the road, with the beautiful bride looking back – wow, blew me away. Were those willow trees. Sensational. Also, what a beautiful dress. I love the detailing in it all. Love the aspects of the union. Congratulations and all the very best to you both!

  4. avatar Elise reply

    What a stunning wedding! Paige is such a talented photographer, she captured their day so perfectly!!

  5. avatar Brooke reply

    I love the etsy lace shawl the bride wore for her wedding. I purchased the same dress and would love to know the etsy shop she used to create the shawl.

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