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When it comes to the many things that make a wedding Southern, the most obvious one is the geographical location, of course! Kara and Philip had that in the bag when they chose to tie the knot at Colleton River Plantation on Hilton Head Island. Though a Pennsylvania native, Kara grew up traveling to her family’s vacation home on the island, so to her, it is a place “that signifies family, joy, memories, and endless beauty.” Kara and Philip worked with their planner, Embellished Events, to create an open-air party where no walls could block the beautiful views. I’m sure this day began a whole new chapter of joyful memories on Hilton Head for this sweet couple!

We’re sure happy Tim Will was there to capture this lovely day!

Describe your wedding flowers. My flowers were untamed and gorgeous! They had an English garden feel, and were full of peaches, sages, and pinks, grounded in soft whites and finished with ribbon I found during my travels to India. The ribbons were used in all the bouquets, garlands, and table arrangements. Branches on Hilton Head Island captured my vision so beautifully.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not; we chose to say the traditional vows instead. We felt these timeless words captured all we wanted to say.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had beautiful readings from the Bible. I particularly loved the Gospel reading from Mark, that included the verse, “They are no longer two but one flesh, therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Wow, those words have gravity!

On our wedding day, we surprised our guests with the sounds of local Gullah singers harmonizing with joy to “Oh Happy Day” as we departed the church. We also hand-dipped oyster shells in gold and embellished each with a pearl for our escort cards. Guests could take these home as a way to remember the place and the day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I grew up traveling to my family’s vacation home on Hilton Head Island, so it has always been a place that signifies family, joy, memories, and endless beauty to me.

We chose to avoid the cost of a tent, and with the suggestion of my planner, Jennifer Leiti, we chose to have an open-air party under café lighting. We were so happy we did because the environment was the reason I picked this location. There were no walls to block the beautiful, expansive views of the sunset over the river. Thankfully, despite some early morning rain, we were blessed with good weather that day.

My wedding cake was a simple, white, tiered cake with ruffled fondant and some pretty flowers in the colors of my bouquet placed up each tier. The best part was really what was inside–it was decadent! Each layer had a different filling. Minette Rushing from Savannah Custom Cakes is a baking genius!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in college. We lived in the same dorm, and then in the same apartment building. Two years after college, only after a big separation, did we realize our friendship was actually love. This has been true ever since and will be for the rest of our lives!
Tell us all about the proposal! We first talked about getting married around a year or so ago while on a trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It was the first time Phil had ever been there, and I was overjoyed to be talking about our future marriage in this very special place. However, it was not until a very cold visit to Cape May, New Jersey that Phil decided to sneak a ring into my purse to be found at any time. We were sitting in a crowded bar and I was fishing around in my bag for something or other when I felt a little box…I think I knew what it was right away, and quickly looked up at Phil’s smiling face. I told him I wanted to move to our room for some privacy, where, conveniently, there was a bottle of champagne awaiting our arrival. Phil got down on one knee as I had always envisioned and the rest is history.
When did y’all get married? May 30, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my dress in a shop called Elizabeth Johns Ardmore, Pennsylvania, right outside of my home city of Philadelphia. The dress was designed by Lela Rose and I felt it reflected me and my style, and it would complement the beautiful surroundings and climate of my Southern wedding.
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not. Seeing my soon-to-be spouse for the first time at the end of the aisle is a beautiful tradition we wanted to experience.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My shoes had blue soles, I wore a delicate strand of pearls that were given to me as a baby, I borrowed my sister’s wedding garter, and everything else was new.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Communicate with each other early and often, and don’t lose sight of what is important.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We would love to move to a new home, plant some deeper roots there, and start a family.

Photographer: Tim Willoughby | Videographer: Hart to Heart | Planner: Embellished Events | Ceremony Venue: St. Gregory the Great | Reception Venue and Catering: Colleton River Plantation | Florist: Branches | Cake Baker: Savannah Custom Cakes | Rentals: Event Haus | Band: Fantastic Voyage Band | Gospel Choir: Voices of El Shaddai Ensemble | Bride’s Gown: Lela Rose | Hair and Makeup: Christine Stephens | Bride’s Shoes: Betsey Johnson | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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    Caroline knew her beautiful lace gown was the one for her as soon as she saw it in the window of Maddison Row while she passed the store on her way home from work. She also knew right away that since one of her favorite things about weddings is how couples incorporate special touches throughout their day (us too!), it was important to her that on her own wedding day, meaningful details were woven in. One of her favorites was the ranunculus halo worn by their flower girl–it had seven individual blooms on it in memory of their seven late grandparents who weren’t physically present at their wedding. We also love the sweet favors that Caroline and her mama canned themselves, using a family friend’s pickle relish recipe. I’m sure guests loved being able to witness a new chapter in Caroline and Luke’s life, and then take home a piece of their family history!

    Big hugs to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Courtney Dox for sharing this sweet day with us!

    During our engagement, I was working in downtown Charleston. Every day, I would take the same route home from work, and luckily for me, Maddison Row was on that route. I loved getting stuck at the Maddison Row intersection and inching my car up as close to the storefront as possible to see the three beautifully dressed mannequins in the window. On my way home one day, I spotted my beautiful dress, pulled out my iPhone, and snapped a picture! I called and set up an appointment with my photo in hand! I tried on several dresses during my appointment, but the beautiful Monique Lhuillier I had spotted was the one!

    Our favorite detail of the wedding was: One of my favorite things about weddings is seeing all of the special touches incorporated throughout, so I knew that was important to me for my own wedding. One of our favorite details was the ranunculus halo worn by our flower girl in lieu of a traditional flower basket. The halo had seven individual ranunculus flowers on it in memory of our seven late grandparents who weren’t physically present for our special day.

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I grew up in a United Methodist Church, but my home church was too small for the wedding size we were planning, so we chose a beautiful United Methodist Church downtown for our ceremony. We chose Lowndes Grove Plantation for our reception because it is a gorgeous Charleston venue that encompassed all of the Southern charm we were looking for to make our wedding incredible!

    The biggest challenge we had to overcome while planning our wedding was trying to figure out ways to maximize our budget. We had a large guest list and wanted to be able to include everyone without having to compromise on too many of the personalized touches we knew would make our wedding day so special. We quickly realized the big difference between want and need, and we were able to find a perfect balance to create an amazing day!

    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The entire wedding planning process helped us plan for our marriage. We learned so much about how to talk to each other during stressful times and how to peacefully resolve differences. In the end, all we wanted was for the other to be happy on that day, and we learned early on to remember that point for the duration of our marriage.

    Our flowers were absolutely incredible! We really wanted vibrant pinks and corals and romantic, trailing greenery. The bouquets and arrangements included beautiful peonies, garden roses, ranunculus, and other seasonal blooms, accented with succulents, maidenhair fern, and trailing jasmine vine. The groom, groomsmen, and ring bearer boutonnieres were made of succulents, and our flower girl wore a beautiful ranunculus and greenery crown.

    We couldn’t agree on a song for our first dance until one day when “Oh Girl” by The Chi-Lites came on my Pandora station, and I immediately knew it was the one! We thought it would be a perfect fit for our band and we loved the idea of a classic song that everyone in the crowd would know and could sway along to.

    What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We had a beautiful, traditional Southern wedding with the most picturesque setting and traditional Southern foods. One of my favorite Southern traditions we included was the guest favor passed at the reception–my mom and I made pear relish using a family friend’s recipe, packaged it in four ounce quilted Mason jars, and tied a tiny butcher’s twine bow around each lid. I loved the days spent in the kitchen canning with my mom to create such a heartfelt thank you to everyone who came to help us celebrate!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Luke began his pediatric residency in July 2011 at the Medical University of South Carolina, and my twin sister was working as nurse on the general pediatrics floor at the time. During his second year of residency, they were on an overnight shift and several people were chatting about significant others. Luke was asked if he was dating anyone, and when he said no, they immediately began brainstorming who they could set him up with. My sister mentioned she had a single twin sister and set us up on a blind date. We went out a few weeks later and the rest is history!
    Tell us all about the proposal! On October 30th, 2013, I got off work early and arranged for afternoon manicures and pedicures with my sister. We went to our usual salon and had a fairly uneventful afternoon. When we got back to my house, my sister went home, and Luke was home from work, but acting suspiciously abnormal. He said he had made dinner reservations for us at one of our favorite restaurants for our weekly date night, so I went to my room to search for the perfect outfit for our night out. He came into the room and told me he’d surprised me and gone and picked up some new makeup I’d been wanting, and set it down on the dresser. He walked out of the room and I kept searching for clothes, only looking at the makeup several minutes later. When I opened the bag, there was a ring box inside and I yelled, “WHAT IS THIS?!” I quickly ran down the hallway to the living room, where Luke was waiting for me on one knee! I was so shocked, I threw the ring box at him, which he immediately opened and asked me to marry him! Of course, I said “YES!” to a man who not only knows what kind of makeup I wear, but also picks up hints that I’d been wanting new products and successfully surprised me with them!
    When did y’all get married? May 23, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175-200
    Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? I absolutely love first look photos in wedding albums. The expressions and emotions are so genuine, and the excitement of the big day is captured forever! It was so hard for me not to want that moment captured for us, but we both strongly felt that we wanted our first reveal to be when I came down the aisle. I wanted the moment to be so pure that I even decided against bridal portraits, so my first time in my gown was on our wedding day.
    Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we wanted to preserve the tradition of a United Methodist wedding and recited vows from the United Methodist Book of Worship.
    Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Of course! My twin sister lent me her monogrammed handkerchief from her wedding two years prior. My paternal grandmother was the donor of something old, giving me her antique gold bangle bracelet to wear. My maternal grandmother passed 10 years prior to my wedding, but was there in spirit for my something blue, which was pale blue fabric from her wedding attire wrapped in lace from my wedding dress and wrapped around my bouquet. I considered my beautiful dress my something new!
    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We made decisions to select less expensive furniture options in some places, selectively place linens around the venue to provide optimal effect, and made other similar choices that would allow us to save small amounts across varying aspects of our wedding, adding up to bigger savings.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Right now, we are just loving married life and building our life together! We want to see the seven wonders of the modern world and are looking forward to a little traveling before starting a family. We saw Chichen-Itza on our honeymoon and can’t wait for our next adventure!

    Photographer: Courtney Dox / Planner: Ashley Wez of Boutique Planning / Ceremony Venue: Bethel United Methodist Church / Reception Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation / Florist: SYG Designs / Cake Baker: Jim Smeal Cakes / Rentals: Snyder Event Rentals and EventHaus / Lighting: Technical Event Company / Band: Heart to Heart / Paper Products: Studio R Design / Bride’s Gown: Monique Lhuillier / Bride’s Accessories: Vera Wang / Hair Stylist: Christine Pointek of Allure Salon / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Lula Kate / Groom’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Event Design: JLV Creative / Transportation: ACW Limo and Absolutely Charleston / Linens: Nuage Designs

    Courtney Dox and LulaKate are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

    marissa Written with love by Marissa
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    1. avatar Lisa reply

      SO beautiful!! They are such a gorgeous couple, and that is a reception after my own heart–biggest heart eyes for that gray and white checkered dance floor and striped cake!

    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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