Every single day at Southern Weddings, the stories of couples who have fallen in love, overcome obstacles, and committed their lives to each other, and the images of the day they became husband and wife, move us. We are infinitely thankful for the couples who share with us, and the talented photographers who make us feel as though we were right there, witnessing these incredibly significant moments in a couple’s story–the moments that they will remember forever. Callie and Jamie’s wedding is extra special to me, because not only do I get to soak in their love and joy alongside y’all in V7 and in today’s post, I also got to witness it firsthand as a guest. And I promise you, their beautiful celebration at RiverOaks Charleston was every bit as magical and meaningful as it looks in these breathtaking images by Nancy Ray, who served as both photographer and bridesmaid on this very special day!
Jamie and I decided immediately that we wanted to plan more for our marriage than for our wedding. The main design inspiration for our wedding came from our prayer for our marriage: that The Lord would cultivate in us a marriage as strong as the oaks and as deep and wide as the sea. We wanted to create a meaningful event that pointed to the Lord and reflected who we are as a couple. We tried to make every decision with deep meaning, as this day was one that we had been looking forward to for so long, and one that we will share with our families for the rest of our lives.
All the jewelry that I wore were family heirlooms: my mother’s emerald and diamond earrings gifted to her on her wedding day from her mother-in-law (something borrowed), my great-grandmother’s diamond bracelet (something old), my great-grandmother’s ring and great-grandmother’s pin on my bouquet (something blue). My something new was my wedding dress and shoes. My mom sewed my great-grandmother’s ring into the inside back of my dress with blue thread, and I also carried my great-grandmother’s sweet pansy handkerchief down the aisle. Selecting gifts for my family as a thank you was an important detail for me, as I wanted to pick out meaningful gifts that would not only remind them of our wedding day, but would stay with them for a lifetime. A gold engraved locket for my mom, a gold engraved pocket watch for my dad, and shotgun shell cufflinks for my brother, along with handwritten letters seemed to be the perfect fit.
What was the weather like on your wedding day? By the Lord’s blessing, it could not have been any more perfect. We had asked so many people to pray for the weather, since everything would be taking place outside and we didn’t really have a back-up plan. I cried multiple times that day, just thinking about how those prayers were answered, and through the weather, the Lord was blessing our marriage. It was sunny, warm, and perfectly breezy.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? Although I had no idea what style I wanted, I knew that I wanted my dress to be timeless and elegant with a small twist. After trying on some dresses in Raleigh, my mom and I drove to Nitsa’s in Winston-Salem. After the fourth dress, I kept asking if I could put on the third dress again. Once I had it on, I didn’t want to take it off. After a few tears from both my mom and me, my mom asked me to list everything that I loved about this dress: the combination of soft lace with tulle, the unique peplum, and the delicate sweetheart neckline. She then looked at me and said “It’s perfect. If you love it, then you don’t need anyone else’s opinion.” In that moment, I promised her what she had been asking me to do, which was not to show anyone my dress except her, my brother, and my dad. It’s a bride’s dream to show off her dress to all of her family and bridesmaids, but this idea that I didn’t like at the time, but agreed to anyways to please my mom, ended up being one of the greatest decisions in my wedding planning process. My closest family, friends, and guests saw me in my wedding dress for the first time as I was walking down the aisle to my groom.
Tell us about your wedding ceremony. Our whole ceremony was thoughtfully planned out and we wanted it to move slowly, allowing us to take in each precious moment. We spent a lot of time with our officiant planning our ceremony and making sure that our main focus was not on us, but on Jesus. Jamie and I chose to have some of our close friends read two pieces of scripture in our wedding: Colossians 3:12-17 and Hosea 2:19-20. We felt these two verses truly captured the way that Jesus has loved us and the way that we hope to love each other: with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We immediately knew that we wanted our best friend, Courtney Lancaster, to marry us. It was important to us to have someone marry us who truly knew us, separately and together, ugly and pretty, and who could stand up confidently share with our guests what we believed and why we had been called into marriage. Courtney has been my best friend since I was in sixth grade. She was my youth minister, Young Life leader, led Young Life with Jamie, and is the reason that I know Jesus the way I do today.
Since I had a very long aisle, it was important to me that my mom be able to see me walking down the aisle with my dad, so our officiant also asked our guests to wait for my mom to stand before they did. This was such a sweet moment not only for my mom, but also for me when we locked eyes and she watched my dad walk me down the aisle.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We wrote our own vows together, promising each other the same lines with a tiny bit of variation. My favorite lines were “By God’s grace, I will affirm and challenge you in becoming all that God has purposed you to be, and will serve Him together with you as one, giving Him the glory and honor.” In our ring vows, “I promise from this day forward, you will not walk alone. With these words, and with all my heart, I marry you and bind my life to yours.”
Our cocktail hour was held in the front of the RiverOaks house while their team transformed the backyard from the ceremony to the reception. Our passed hors d’oeuvres included Southern treats such as Lowcountry fried green tomatoes topped with pimento cheese, applewood smoked bacon-wrapped shrimp, and smoked maple leaf duck breast. We also served two signature cocktails: a Gulf oyster shooter and Charleston Cosmopolitan.
Jamie and I chose to do a private dinner on the dock so that we could enjoy our delicious meal together and alone before the party began. The view was incredible, and it was one of our favorite moments of the day. When planning our wedding, Jamie and I wanted to be intentional with planning specific times where we could be still with each other and take in all of the moments of our day. We did this at our private dinner, as well as during the communion in our ceremony and at the end of the night when we rode away on the boat before driving to our hotel. After we were finished eating, we joined our family and bridal party at the head table for the remainder of the meal.
Tell us about a way or ways you saved money or cut costs while planning. Flowers for sure! We repurposed the bridesmaids’ bouquets and ceremony florals as centerpieces at the reception and chose to decorate the tables with broken oyster shells instead of large floral arrangements. Because we decided to have our guests seated at long rectangle tables, it was important to us to have low and clean table decorations, in hopes that our guests would be able to have conversation instead of being blocked and distracted with large floral arrangements.
As a wedding photographer, one of my favorite moments of a wedding is the bride and groom’s exit, so I knew that I wanted to make mine extra special! Our exit started at the reception with the last song on the dance floor. We asked the band to play “Last Dance” by Donna Summer and had gold and white confetti shot over the dance floor. I then went and changed into a sparkly getaway dress and we walked through one very long and exciting line of sparklers onto the dock. Jamie and I climbed up in the tuna tower and exited on a beautiful sport fisherman boat. As we drove away, fireworks were shot in the sky!
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your love story! Although Jamie and I went to high school together, we were not close friends, but we did have many mutual friends including my best friend, Mary Courtney. It wasn’t until the summer after my senior year (Jamie’s freshman year of college) that we started to spend more time together. When the summer had ended and it was time for me to go to the University of South Carolina for my freshman year of college, Jamie admitted to me that he liked me and wanted to know if we could continue to talk while I was gone. I said yes, and we talked almost every day, continuing to get to know each other. Soon enough, we started dating. After a year at the University of South Carolina, I felt that the Lord was calling me back to Raleigh, so I transferred to NC State. Jamie and I continued to grow closer to the Lord and each other, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! After I got off work on Sunday, August 11, 2013, Jamie took me on a surprise date to the NC State Arboretum. We had been there a couple of times together and had been recently talking about going again, so I didn’t think anything of it. As we walked through the gardens, Jamie seemed a little rushed, but he’s normally always on a mission (much like me), so I politely asked him to slow down and walk with me. We walked aimlessly (or what I thought was aimlessly) through the gardens and stopped in the rose garden. He walked us over to “the spot,” turned me around with the biggest smile on his face, and said “Callie.” Immediately, I knew what was happening and began sobbing, saying “Is this really it?” Jamie and I had been dating for four years and had never said the words “I love you” (instead, we would say “I like you”), so I knew this moment was going to be one that I would remember forever. After saying many sweet words and telling me that he loved me and has loved me for a long time, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said YES! Jamie then told me that there was another surprise, and I turned around to see Nancy and Will Ray jump out of the bushes with their cameras. After many hugs and more tears, they took us around the garden to do a mini session as an engaged couple. It was probably one of the hottest days of the summer, but we didn’t care, because we were finally engaged! After we left the Arboretum, Jamie told me we were “going to get dinner,” but then, he took me back to my parents’ house, where all of our closest friends and family were, to celebrate!
When did y’all get married? May 3, 2014
Tell us all the basics of your wedding! Why did you choose these things? Did any of these details hold special meaning for you as a couple? Since I am a wedding photographer in Raleigh, NC, I am very familiar with all of the wedding venues and have worked many of them multiple times. I wanted to get married somewhere that I didn’t consider “my office” and that would be particularly special to us. I grew up and lived in Charleston for a brief time, and the water and beach have always been a special place to both Jamie and me, so when I texted him one day telling him “It would be a dream to be married in Charleston” and he responded with “I will marry you anywhere,” I knew we could make it happen. We began researching wedding venues in Charleston and through a friend’s recommendation, we found RiverOaks Charleston. From their website, it perfectly matched the vision in our minds–beautiful mossy oaks, the river, outdoor space, and a design process that allowed us to create something from scratch. It was the only venue I looked at, but I knew that it was where I wanted to marry Jamie. We wanted to cultivate real relationships with the people that we would be working so closely with on our most important day, and with Marianne and her team at RiverOaks, we had just that.
How many friends, family, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about marriage? Jamie and I will be living in Raleigh with our new silver lab puppy in our newly renovated home and continuing our dream jobs! Since we got engaged, Jamie and I have been most excited about living together, doing life together, reading the bible and praying together, and not having to part ways at night. Now that we are married, these are our favorite things about marriage! We are truly a team and each other’s biggest support!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Remember that your marriage is more important than your wedding. Make all of your wedding decisions together from deep within your heart. All of our wedding details and plans were thought through with deep meaning, which we believe made our event as special as it was. Lastly, journal throughout your engagement. I decided to keep a journal where I would write to Jamie periodically telling him how I was feeling and why I want to marry him. After nine months of filling that journal, I gifted it to him on our wedding day. It fills my heart with great joy when I come into the kitchen and see Jamie sitting at our kitchen island, reading his Bible and my journal early in the morning.
Photographer: Nancy Ray Photography / Videographer: Heart Stone Films / Venue, Planning, and Design: River Oaks Charleston / Design and Paper Goods: Rebecca Rose Creative / Florist: River Oaks Charleston and Deborah Gibson Design / Caterer: Cru Catering / Tent: Sperry Tents / Bar Service: Squeeze on Site / Wedding Cake Baker: Twenty-Six Divine / Bride’s Gown: “Confection” by Monique Lhuillier / Bridal Salon and Veil: Nitsa’s / Bride’s Shoes: Joie / Bride’s Bouquet Ribbons: Froufrou Chic / Bride’s Getaway Dress: French Connection / Bridesmaid Dresses: “Nadia” in Peacock Silk Chiffon by J. Crew / Hair Stylist: Hilary Mansell of Visage Salon / Makeup Artist: Elina Mille of Bellelina / Groom’s Tuxedo: Jos A. Bank / Groom’s Marlin Cufflinks: GameKeepersGifts / Groomsmen Suspenders: Hold Up Suspender Company / Suspender Monogramming: Monograms Inc. / Shotgun Shell Cufflinks: OruAka / Vintage Tabletop Rentals: Polished / Standard Rentals: Eventworks / Lounge Seating: Out of Hand Rentals / Specialty Linens: La Tavola / Calligraphy: Jill Velez Calligraphy / Rock Candy: Nuts.com / Transportation: Lowcountry Valet / Reception Band: Atlanta Pleasure Band / Ceremony Painter: Meredith Haake / Boat Transportation: Full Circle
Nancy Ray Photography, Heart Stone Films, Rebecca Rose Events, and RiverOaks Charleston are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!