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Tracy and Ryne may not be Southern by birth, but after attending a wedding in Savannah, these Chicagoans fell in love with the charm and culture of the South. When it came time to plan their wedding, Hilton Head ended up being the perfect place for the laid back, but elegant, vibe they were hoping for. August Event Design worked in Tracy’s dream color scheme (grey, gold, green, and white) through the florals, but other than that, Tracy and Ryne opted to keep their decor simple, letting the ocean views from the Omni Shorehouse shine. I’m willing to bet that a handful of guests fell in love with the South as a result of this gorgeous celebration, just like Tracy and Ryne had years before!

Thank you so much to Rach Loves Troy for sharing this gorgeous day with us!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My grandmother meant a great deal to me, so I knew I wanted her represented in our day. I used her vintage initialed pins in my bouquet as my something old. My something blue was my beautiful bridesmaids all wearing shades of blue, as well as the “just married” phrase I had embroidered with blue thread in Ryne’s suit jacket. My veil was my something borrowed and came from a great friend of mine.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, we did a first look and loved it! We knew we wanted to spend the most time we possibly could with our family and friends, and a first look allowed us to mingle in between the ceremony and the reception. We are also pretty non-traditional, so we were alright with breaking the rules! Seeing each other before the ceremony helped rid us of any anxiousness and allowed us to truly live in the moment while I walked down the aisle. Seeing Ryne’s eyes tear up and feeling the genuine happiness in that first look moment was one of our favorite parts of the entire day!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Ryne and I both chose a reading for the ceremony. My sweet aunt read “Marriage Joins Two People in the Circle of it’s Love” by Edmund O’Neil and our beloved brother-in-law read “Union” by Robert Fulghum. We were so happy to have them as a part of our ceremony!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows, but we did piece together our favorite borrowed vows to create something uniquely our own. Our favorite line in our vows was “I believe in you, the person you will grow to be and the couple we will be together.” This line really resonated with what is most important to the two of us. We truly balance each other out and we are so excited to continue to grow together. It’s an adventure and we are just beginning!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We have close friends who were married in Savannah two years prior to our wedding and we fell in love with Southern culture. With that in mind, we headed to Charleston and Hilton Head to check out venues. Although we love Charleston, we realized we wanted a really laid back vibe that would allow for the most amount of quality time with our guests. Hilton Head offered everything we were looking for, and the Omni’s Shorehouse was exactly our style. We loved that it didn’t feel like we needed a ton of details, since it stood so beautifully on its own. Located just off the ocean, it was the dreamiest backdrop to our celebration. We are excited to now have Hilton Head as a special destination for our family for years to come!

Describe your wedding flowers. I was not the girl who planned her wedding day from the age of five, but just two days before Ryne proposed, I wrote a note in my phone that simply said: grey, gold, green, and white. Those were the colors I wanted at my wedding one day. Little did I know, planning a wedding was right around the corner! Flowers were extremely important to me, so it took a lot of research to find the person who meshed with my personality and style. When I found Kim Cheney, I was giddy! She and I not only hit it off right away, but she practically knew my vision better than I did! The flowers were all white with heavy greenery. Kim created bouquets and decor that were free-form and beautiful! My favorite accent was the greenery that hung above us during our ceremony and at our head table. It was modern and romantic at the same time.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? My sweet father surprised me with a father-daughter dance unlike anything we had ever seen. For months, he secretly snuck away to go to a recording studio and record a custom song just for us. When it came time for our dance and his song played rather than the one we had chosen, I was in complete shock! My dad and I have always had a special bond, but this was above and beyond anything I could have imagined from him–it was beautiful and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Anyone who knows me knows that dessert is my favorite meal. We wanted our guests to have several options for dessert, so we decided to have an entire dessert table! We used a simple, yet beautiful, white cake for cutting, and the rest of the table was filled with cookies, whoopie pies, and more! Ryne has an affinity for rice krispie treats, so we surprised him with a two-tiered rice krispie cake! It was whimsical and delicious!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ryne and I met through a mutual friend. It took us a couple of interactions to realize there was more than just a friendly banter between us, but once we did, we were pretty inseparable. Ryne traveled every week for the first year of our relationship, so we really relied upon our communication and activity-filled weekends to lay down a foundation for our relationship. After dozens of postcards and hours of conversation, Ryne made the decision to leave his traveling job and move back to Chicago (I don’t like to say I had anything to do with this, but let’s be real!). After that, it was pretty clear we were meant to continue the fun for the rest of our lives.
Tell us all about the proposal! Ryne is the sweet, thoughtful one in our relationship. He had been planning our proposal for months and decided to execute his plan at the beginning of January. His uncle works for the city and has special access to the historical Chicago water tower. We had always planned to visit the water tower to see the unparalleled views of Michigan Avenue from its top windows, so I was unsuspecting when his uncle invited us to a “happy hour” there one Friday night. After some convincing, I followed Ryne up 15 flights of stairs, where he proposed in front of those amazing Chicago views with a champagne toast and roses. We went on to celebrate just the two of us while the second part of Ryne’s plan fell into place. He had all of our family and close friends waiting to surprise us at the next stop! I was in complete shock and blissfully happy!
When did y’all get married? May 14th, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 130
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. It would be cliché to say I bought the first dress I ever pinned, but it’s true! I knew I wanted something simple and sleek, yet dramatic. The dress I landed on had very simple lines with no embellishment, but the long train added that level of drama I was looking for. The process of finding the dress was quick and painless. My mom, two sisters, and I went out just one day and to just three boutiques. I waited to try on the dress I pinned until the end of that day and knew it was the one!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Although we are not Southern born or raised, we have a love for Southern culture. We wanted to make sure we gave a nod to the warm and welcoming feeling we get whenever we travel to the South, so we used pineapple decor as a sign of hospitality at our welcome party! When it came to our signature cocktail, we included Southern sweet tea as a main component, and our guests loved them.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? You learn a lot about each other through the wedding planning process. I learned I am more high strung than I ever want to admit and that Ryne will forever be supportive of me. We already knew we could get through anything together, but it’s nice to be reassured in tough situations.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? There was a bride getting married at our venue the Monday following our wedding, so we tried to find ways to share items and split the costs. Our lighting company was nice enough to extend their pickup so we could do just that!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are house hunting in Chicago! We are excited to find a house that we will make a home together. We are also excited for a bit of travel over the next year!

Photographer: Rach Loves Troy | Planner: Leah McCarthy | Venue and Caterer: The Shorehouse at The Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort | Florist: August Floral Design | Cake Baker: Downtown Catering Company | Lighting: Amazing Event Rentals | DJ: Lucas The DJ | Calligraphy: Allie Hasson Calligraphy | Paper Products: Minted and Leveret Paperie | Bride’s Gown: “Dakota” by Nicole Miller | Hair Stylist: Bride’s Side Beauty | Makeup Artist: Bonnie Jean Beauty | Bride’s Shoes: Schutz | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Adrianna Papell, Joanna August, and Donna Morgan | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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Y’all, as I was reading through Abigail and Ben’s interview, I kept nodding my head and thinking “Yes! That’s it right there!” Everything about their wedding day was filled with intention and joy, from their venue choice (inspired by Abigail’s upbringing on a plantation surrounded by oak trees) to their advice for couples currently planning a wedding. They not only prepared for their wedding day, but prepared their hearts well for their marriage–Abigail said, “We wanted to be intentional with every detail, giving it great meaning to who we are together, but also who we are in Jesus.” From the looks of it, I’m sure guests would agree that they did an brilliant job!

Gracious, we’re thankful Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography was on hand to capture their sweet day!

Believe it or not, my dress was the first dress I ever tried on. I wasn’t certain what style I wanted, but I knew I wanted my dress to be timeless and elegant. I met my mom and grandmother in Raleigh to begin our search. At our first appointment, at Lana Addison Bridal in Cary, I showed the consultant a few different pictures of what I thought I may like. She brought me four different dresses. I tried the first dress on and could not stop smiling and twirling around. I looked at my mom and grandmother and said, “I think this is it.” They encouraged me to try the others on just to be sure. I tried them all, but didn’t feel like they were me. I tried on the first dress again and still loved it, but I began to second guess myself and ended up going to our second appointment. I tried on three other beautiful dresses there and got a bit overwhelmed. We decided to call it a day, and as soon as we walked out of the store, I looked at my mom and said, “We have to go back to Lana Addison, it has my dress.” I fell in love with it all over again–from the high neck line, to the combination of the soft lace and tulle, to the beaded waistline, it was perfect. I made the decision that I was only going to let my mom and grandmother see my dress. It made finding my dress and sharing that experience with two of the most special women in my life even sweeter, and I didn’t want to be swayed by the opinions of others. I wanted the first time my family, closest friends, and guests would see my dress to be when I was walking down the aisle to my groom.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Ben and I decided not to do a first look. We both wanted the first time we saw each other to be when I was walking down the aisle to marry him. We did, however, find a time before the ceremony to grab hands and pray with one another.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had one of our closest friends read 1 John 4:18-19. We chose this verse because it centered the entire day around Christ and we believe that without Christ loving us first, we would not be able to love one another. Another verse that is very important to us, Philippians 1:9-10, was on our dinner cards. We asked that our guest pray this verse over us and with us as we entered into marriage together.

We both liked the traditional vows, but also wanted to make them more personal and meaningful to us. We promised the same things to each other: “In the presence of God and according to his will I, Ben, take you, Abigail, to be my wife. I promise to love you, I promise to serve you, I promise to cherish you, as a testament to Jesus and his death on the cross, I give you my love.” We also wanted to affirm together the vows of having a Christian home. We were given this idea by our pastor and we loved it. “Depending upon God for strength and wisdom, do you both solemnly pledge yourselves to the establishment of a Christian home? Will you together, constantly seek God’s will and honor Christ in your marriage?”

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I knew I wanted to be married in my hometown, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and I knew I wanted it outside. I grew up on a plantation that is surrounded by the most beautiful oak trees and I always envisioned them in my wedding someday. When I told Darlene (a dear friend and my wedding planner) what I had envisioned for my day, she said she knew just the place, and told me about the Rose Hill Mansion. I looked it up and fell in love immediately. It had the oak trees with the beautiful hanging moss, enough space to create what we wanted from scratch, and we could have the reception there. I knew it was where I wanted to marry Ben and I booked it without even having seen it myself in person.

Our venue has a rich Southern history. It is an old cotton plantation and the mansion on the property has many antique artifacts to peruse inside. You can actually tour the mansion with the onsite staff and learn a lot about the history of the property and the people that lived there. It is an incredibly unique spot.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Flowers and decorations for sure! Jana Qualey and Bridget Short, who are dear friends to me, have their own side business called Little Vase Events, and let me tell you, they are the best of the best! We repurposed bridesmaids flowers and went out and collected all the oyster shells that we used on the tables. Our gold and white stripped napkins were made by Bridget and Jana themselves!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Keep things in perspective. Your wedding is one day, your marriage is for the rest of your life. When you get overwhelmed, step away and do something fun. Don’t lose your joy in what is such a sweet time of your life, or your sight on what is most important. I started journaling during our engagement, writing down my thoughts and feelings, memories, and all the reasons I love Ben and wanted to marry him. I gave it to him the week of our wedding and I love looking back at it and reliving those days and seeing him read those pages for the first time.

Don’t miss Abigail and Ben’s wedding film by Heart Stone Films below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ben would joke and say it was somewhat of an arranged marriage. Our brothers and Ben’s younger sister, who is also my best friend, had been trying to get the two of us together for years. Although I knew Ben’s whole family, it wasn’t until our sophomore year of college that we met for the first time at a mutual friend’s wedding. We crossed paths again a year later at Ben’s older brother Will’s wedding. This was the night Ben asked me to dance. I tease him now because he never called me after that night! Last year, I got a call from my friend to come visit with her in Greenville for a long weekend. I was living on Hilton Head Island at the time and I jumped at the chance to go and see her. I was unaware that only a few weeks before, Ben had moved to Greenville. I spent the whole weekend with them, and finally, Ben asked me out. When I had to head back home, Ben asked if he could still pursue me. I said yes, and we continued to talk and get to know each other. Soon after, I got a job in Greenville and made the move. Ben and I continued to grow closer to each other and the Lord, and now the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! My family has a house in the outer banks of North Carolina that has been in our family since before I was born, and it is one of my favorite places. My family typically goes there over the 4th of July, so this time was no different, except Ben would be there. Every morning I woke up while we were there, I had a letter slipped under my door. I didn’t think much of this, only because of how thoughtful Ben always is. On July 4th, Ben asked if I would take a walk out to the dock with him. We sat down at the end and talked for awhile. When we got up, Ben grabbed both my hands with the biggest smile. I knew what was happening and said to him, “Is this really it?!” After saying many sweet words, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. And I said YES! As soon as he was up and we were hugging, my brother ran down the dock with his phone (he was FaceTiming with Ben’s brother and his wife) to celebrate with us. My sister-in-law was snapping pictures and the rest of my family, who had been watching from the house, came out to hug us. Ben planned breakfast for dinner that night, my favorite. We made our way back to Greenville the next day and Ben told me there was one more surprise. When we got back home, we went to his brother’s house, where all our closest friends and family were waiting to celebrate with us!
When did y’all get married? November 14, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Ben and I decided soon into our engagement that we wanted to prepare more for our marriage than our wedding. The most important thing for us while planning our wedding was to create a beautiful and meaningful event that glorified the Lord and reflected who we are. We wanted to be intentional with every detail, giving it great meaning to who we are together, but also who we are in Jesus.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? My day would not have been the same without Callie Davis with Nancy Ray Photography. I can not sing their praises enough. Having Callie and Olivia there to capture our day honestly added even more joy to an incredibly joyful day. They took the time through the whole process to pour into me and make sure that everything was perfect and ready to go for my wedding day. I gained two sweet friendships.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Well, we’re getting a puppy in two months and can’t wait to have a furry friend in our family. We look forward to lots of adventures, learning new things about each other, and just getting to do life with each other. Ultimately, having children and raising them together excites us the most about our future. We aren’t ready yet, but our biggest dreams usually involve a house full of children.

Photographer: Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography | Videographer: Heart Stone Films | Planner: Darlene Cranston | Venue: Rose Hill Mansion | Florist: Little Vase Events | Cake Baker: Ronnie’s Bakery & Cakes by Lou | Caterer: Downtown Catering Company | Rentals and Lighting: Amazing Event Rentals | DJ: Will Krause | Paper Products: Swoozies | Bride’s Gown: Theia | Bride’s Accessories: The Poinsett Bride | Hair Stylist: Amber White at Kaleidoscope Salon | Makeup Artist: Bride’s Side Beauty | Bride’s Shoes: Sam Edelman | Menswear: Jos A. Bank

Nancy Ray Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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  1. avatar kelly reply

    Oh I just love the Nancy Ray team’s work! Such a beautiful wedding with the hanging moss, that gown, and the meaning behind it all.

  2. avatar Rose Hill Plantation Wedding – Southern Weddings Magazine – reply

    […] and Ben’s Rose Hill Plantation Wedding is featured on Southern Weddings Magazine! Yay!!! Alex was the lead filmmaker and editor for this gorgeous wedding and we are so excited for […]

  3. avatar 2016 Online Features Part 1 | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] and Ben’s Rose Hill Mansion Wedding Featured on Southern Weddings Photographer: Callie […]

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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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