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One thing I love witnessing at weddings is the unabashed vulnerability of the couple and their guests, whether it’s a groom who just can’t contain his tears after first seeing his bride, or the emotion of the first look with the bride’s daddy. There is just something so beautiful about the raw emotions. I think that’s why I love this line from Molly and Kevin’s sweet secret letter so much. We Southern women are a strong (and strong-willed!) bunch, which makes Molly’s sweet vow to Kevin so romantic and vulnerable, all at the same time! She said “You are my leader and I will gladly follow wherever you go.” Oh my stars! I’m sure their ceremony at the beautiful Lowndes Groves Plantation was a joy to witness, and their reception looks like it was a blast, too!

Big hugs to Caroline Ro for sharing Molly and Kevin’s wedding with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. In April 2014, my sister, two bridesmaids, my mother-in-law, my mother, and I enjoyed two appointments and about 50 dresses. At the first shop, I tried on about 30. It was an amazing experience and I got very very close to saying yes to one, but then my mom told me I needed to attend both appointments before I decided. Thank goodness I listened to her, because the next morning, we showed up at White on Daniel Island. I was about 10 dresses in before I tried on the one. I knew right away that this was it, and so did my family. It’s true that you do get that feeling, “This is my dress!!!”

My wedding flowers were absolutely stunning, filled with chocolate orchids, eucalyptus, a white rose in honor of the Thayer women (these ladies all carried 13 white roses on their wedding days), white hydrangeas, purple hellebores, dusty millers (my favorite), and ivory ranunculus. My bouquet was wrapped in my grandmother’s blue handkerchief and I pinned a picture of each of our grandmothers to the stems.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Kevin didn’t want me to tell him what I was walking down the aisle to, so I surprised him with my processional to Gabriel’s “Oboe.” I chose this song because it reminded me of my grandmother. She loved her instrumental music and I remember sitting in the back of her car listening to it. She was so excited for our “big Southern military wedding.” Unfortunately, she passed away just a few short weeks before Kevin and I got engaged. She and my mother were my inspirations for our entire wedding.

We did not write our own vows, but our pastor had us write secret letters to each other prior to our wedding, and he read a few passages from each. We didn’t get to read the whole letters until right before we left on our honeymoon. My favorite line of Kevin’s was: “You have been, and will continue to be, the center and foundation of our relationship and household. Being the man of the household means nothing without a solid foundation”. Kevin’s favorite line that I wrote to him was: “You have taught me to give my heart fully and have made me realize that I cannot do this life without you. You are my leader and I will gladly follow wherever you go.”

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our pastor was amazing!! He is the pastor at Kevin’s church in Greenville, and we have known him for years. His passion and message brought out the true message of the day: commitment. Lowndes Grove was also amazing, and their staff, coupled with the location, made it a day we’ll never forget. The hand-rolled cigar bar was a huge hit with everyone and was an awesome way for everyone to take a break from dancing.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We prioritized the flavor rather than design. We kept the design simple, and chose a lemon cake with buttercream icing and red velvet with sweetened cream cheese icing. We cut the cake with Kevin’s Marine officer’s sword, which added our own little flair to the tradition.

Lowndes Grove Plantation was the first and only place we really looked. Kevin had been to a wedding there before, and, having grown up in Charleston, I knew how amazing of a place it was. The way the setting sun shined across the water and through the Spanish moss on the trees epitomized my mental picture of a Southern plantation. When it came to the food, we had good old Southern barbecue, shrimp and grits, bacon-wrapped scallops, and some great bourbon to bring it all together.

There are so many moments, but the most memorable was when Kevin and I were able to break away from everything and look over our wedding as outsiders. We followed the advice of some of our friends and have passed it on to all of our friends with upcoming weddings because it meant so much to us. We went all the way to the back of the tent and stood up on the brick ledge, holding each other close and just watched everyone having a fabulous time at this beautiful setting. It was magical, and the “snapshot” in time will remain with us forever!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Kevin and I met at Clemson University in 2007. He was the big bad senior, and I was the new freshman looking for fun and adventure. We were introduced during the Sigma Nu Mountain Weekend at Camp Wayfarer by my roommate, who knew him from high school. The moment I met him, I knew he was going to be someone special in my life, but of course, we were there with different dates! We saw each other occasionally after that, and I invited him to the Alpha Delta Pi Mallard Ball. Our on and off dating continued until 2011, when he returned from his first deployment to Afghanistan and I graduated from nursing school. After being separated by so many miles and for so many months, we knew we wanted to start taking things seriously. During his second deployment to Afghanistan, he called and asked me to move with him when he was to be reassigned to Quantico, Virginia when he returned home. We have been living in Fredericksburg, Virginia since November 2012. We bought our boxer puppy, Reagan, in February 2013, and I kept hinting to Kevin to make it official–I would tell Reagan in front of Kevin how jealous I was that he had the same last name as daddy! Kevin got the hint and proposed on January 24th, 2014!!!
Tell us all about the proposal! From Kevin: My plan: have a nice dinner, have some good convo, head back to the car, propose, go get a celebratory beer, and surprise Molly with all of our friends there. Throughout dinner, I blamed my fidgeting in my chair on being sick. The topic of conversation led to our friends who were recently engaged, which caused Molly to drop the bomb on me of “Well, I guess they know what they wanted…” Boom, the ring in my pocket got exponentially heavier while we continued to converse. Following dinner, we made our way back to the car to drop off our leftovers, and on the corner of the street, I pulled her close and told her how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. I then started to drop to a knee and grabbed her hand. Molly said, “Kevin, what are you doing? The ground is wet! What are you doing?” I pulled out the ring and asked her to marry me, to which she replied, “Kevin…what is that??? Who is that for?? What is that???” I asked the question a second time, to which she finally replied with a teary “YES!” We then went to get a celebratory beer from Capital Ale House, and Molly was surprised again with a tremendous cheer and applause from all of our friends who were waiting for us.
When did y’all get married? December 13, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Kevin: The second I was allowed to turn around and see Molly coming down the aisle. Even as a US Marine, it took everything I had to not cry. She was so absolutely stunning as she made her way down the aisle that I was completely tunnel visioned. I can’t even remember the song that was playing for her processional.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Even if you are not very close with your soon-to-be mother-in-law, like I am with mine, get her involved. Invite her to your dress shopping appointments, fittings, bridal showers, etc. You won’t regret it, and she will never forget it. My mother-in-law is a mother to three boys, so doing all the girly things just made her year! Also, get a videographer. I fought my mom on getting one, but she insisted. I now watch our wedding video at least once a day!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Having known each other and been together for so long prior to marriage, we are ready for the ultimate big step: building our family! This is the reason we went to Africa for our Safari honeymoon–we asked ourselves prior to booking: what would we regret not doing before having kids? We had a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

Photographer: Caroline Ro / Videographer: Dock House Digital / Planner: Megan Chandler of Ooh! Events / Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation / Florist: Out of the Garden / Catering and Cake Baker: Fish / Rentals: Snyder Rentals and Ooh! Events / Lighting: Ooh! Events / Band: Men of Distinction from EastCoast Entertainment / Paper Products: Lydia’s / Bride’s Gown: “C207” by Allure / Hair and Makeup: Charlotte Belk / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style 485” in Plum by Bill Levkoff / Ceremony String Trio: Classical Charleston

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marissa Written with love by Marissa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    Just a gorgeous wedding and I love the men in their uniforms!

  2. avatar Kimberly reply

    My beautiful daughter and now son in law are so lucky to now share a fabulous life together! The wedding day was filled with so many luscious memories for me! Everything was perfect.

  3. avatar Charmaine reply

    Grilled finger sandwiches … yes please.. Beautiful wedding

  4. avatar Charleston Wedding Videographer reply

    Such a beautiful day and beautiful couple. We were so honored to capture Molly & Kevin’s special day on film!

  5. avatar Jeffrey newton reply

    It was a beautiful wedding! Please tag us for the transportation :)

  6. avatar Megan Chandler reply

    So excited to see this stunning wedding shared! Love this couple!

  7. avatar Molly+Kevin // Married // Charleston » CarolineRo // Blog reply

    […] to top everything off, Southern Weddings kindly featured Molly and Kevin’s day […]

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I think that all weddings are filled with joy (as they should be!), but sometimes, we feature weddings of couples so bubbling over with joy, one can’t help but smile while looking through the photos! That’s how I feel about Caroline and Will. I swear, Caroline has the biggest, most contagious smile in almost every photo Robyn Van Dyke captured! After years of long distance dating, deployments, and many moves, it’s no wonder these two are all smiles on their wedding day. Throw in perfectly classic details and boys in their military uniforms, and you’ve got the recipe for one sweet Southern soirée!

With Memorial Day right around the corner, we’re so honored to share this wedding made up of just a few of the brave men and women who protect and serve our great country. Big hugs to our friend Robyn for sharing it with us!

Girls after my own heart! I spy a few pairs of Jack Rogers to go with their monogrammed robes!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? One of our dearest friends and groomsmen read Revelation 19:5-9 right before they opened the doors and I walked down the aisle with my dad. Our other sweet friend read Ephesians 4:32-5:2 later in the service. Both the scriptures and the readers made our ceremony very special, and we couldn’t have loved it more. Our pastor, Russ Andrews, did an amazing job of keeping our ceremony focused on Jesus Christ. Russ gave a small sermon to make sure our families and friends knew Will and I weren’t taking any credit for finding each other, and that our marriage was going to be based on our faith in the Lord.

Describe your wedding flowers. Our florist was Kelly Odom, and his work is absolutely flawless. I told him my colors and asked for white and very pale pink flowers. I told him as long as the bouquets were round and full with those colors, he could choose the rest. The flowers were breathtaking and exactly what I wanted.

Since Will is in the military as a Navy pilot, we had all military attendees wear their military uniforms, and we had a sword arch out of the church, announcing Will and I as husband and wife for the first time. We had a pretty large wedding party with eight bridesmaids, seven groomsmen, and eight flower girls/ring bearers. We served lots of Southern food at our reception, including shrimp and grits, chicken tenders, and BBQ sandwich sliders. The most important thing to both Will and I are our families and friends, which I like to think comes from us being from the South. We could not have been happier having all the people we love the most under one roof, dancing the night away.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Will and I decided that we wanted that moment of seeing each other for the first time to be when I was walking down the aisle to him to become his wife. There is something so special and amazing about seeing each other in that moment after a long day of preparation and chaos, and knowing that your future starts right there.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Will and I knew we wanted to get married in a church, but my parents’ church was in transition and was meeting at my old high school auditorium at the time. I knew there was absolutely no way Will would get married at his rival high school, so that was out. Will’s family are members at Edenton Street United Methodist church in downtown Raleigh, and once I walked into the empty sanctuary with the gorgeous chandeliers, tall ceilings, and stained glass everywhere, I knew that was it. I had been to a service there before, but seeing it empty and imagining our wedding there was perfect. The reception venue was the Carolina Country Club, where I grew up going with my family. We had made so many memories there in the past that it seemed fitting to make one of our biggest memories there as well.

LOVE Caroline’s face in this shot!!

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge during our ten months of engagement was planning our wedding while I was in North Carolina and Will was in Texas. We were both in school, and trying to find time to plan was a little harder then we had expected.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. The church where we got married has an amazing organ with the most talented organist. He helped me choose the music for the seating of the guests, grandmothers and mothers. I didn’t really have a preference on those songs as long as it was played by him. I walked down the aisle to “Love Never Fails.” When I first listened to the words of this song, I got chills everywhere. It seemed so appropriate for a bride walking to her groom to be bound in love through Jesus Christ. Our first dance song wasn’t really up for discussion because we both knew what it would be. Coming from oldies-loving families, we decided on “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green. It was perfect.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It’s hard to choose a most memorable moment, but Will and I think it was the dancing and gathering of our friends. Being a part of the military, most of our friends are spread out all over the country or deployed overseas. Getting to see everyone at the same time is very rare, and even though we still had some dear friends missing, sharing our wedding with those who could make it was so special. Our military friends have no problem starting the dance party!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Will and I met our senior year in high school in 2007. My best friend was dating his best friend, and after being introduced by them one night, I decided he wasn’t going to get away. Will played soccer for his school, and for the last few games of the season, I made sure I was at every one. I don’t think it took Will too long to notice, so he asked me if we could hang out after school one day so I could give him a haircut…very smooth of him. That afternoon led to more after-school get-togethers, movie nights with our friends, and both of our senior proms. After high school, Will was going to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland while I was staying at Meredith College in our hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. We knew this was going to mean a lot of long distance and an unknown future, but being without each other would be harder then any of that. We decided to give it a chance. From June-August while he was at boot camp, all we could do was write letters to stay in contact, and that’s exactly what we did. It was a hard summer for both of us but we know it made us so much stronger in the end.
Tell us all about the proposal! Will was in flight school to become an F-18 pilot in Kingsville, Texas at the time. We had been doing long distance for about five years at this point. During my fall break from school in October 2012, I flew to Texas. There isn’t a whole lot to do in the small town of Kingsville, so we drove to Fredericksburg, a little German town with vineyards everywhere. Neither Will nor I had ever been to a vineyard, so that Saturday, we had the best time doing tours and wine tastings. After we were ready to go to dinner, Will started driving up a hill, the opposite direction from town. He kept telling me he just wanted to see if we could see the sunset from the top, and of course, I was fine with that. As we drove to the top, all we could see were construction signs and tape and we couldn’t drive any further. Thinking about it now, I know Will’s stomach must have dropped because he didn’t really have a plan B. He had also taken the ring out of the box and placed it by itself in his pocket, so we drove on to dinner and Will spent the whole night clenching his right jean pocket! That night, we got back to our place, and as we stood on the porch about to walk inside, Will pulled me close and began to tell me how much he loved me and some other things I can’t remember, because he got down on one knee and I’m pretty sure I blacked out. Once I caught my breath, I had to ask him if I had even told him yes–I was so shocked and so overwhelmed with joy and love! I had been waiting for this moment for five long years and it couldn’t have been more perfect.
When did y’all get married? August 24, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 350
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding my dress was probably the thing I was looking forward to the most during wedding planning. My mom and my aunt drove with me to Nitsa’s in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I am in love with any kind of shopping, so we prepared ourselves for what we thought was going to be a full day of me trying on every dress in the store. As I was looking through the racks, one dress in particular caught my eye. I had to try it on and I wanted it to be the first one. I had never understood why girls cry when they try on wedding dresses or find the dress of their dreams, but I became that girl that day. I saw myself in the mirror and it was so surreal. It was the exact dress I had pictured myself in and I knew Will was going to love it too. I tried on a few more dresses to see if any compared, but none did.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Will and I were very excited about the wedding cake! Cinda’s Creative Cakes gave us amazing cake design and flavor options. Our cake was four tiers high and round. Cinda copied the look of the beaded band around my wedding dress on each tier on the cake, and used all white frosting and flowers on the top tier. The end result was beautiful and absolutely delicious. The flavors we chose were strawberry, funfetti (with pink sprinkles), chocolate, and cinnamon swirl. We can’t wait until our anniversary so we can eat it all over again!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Having the sword arch as a part of our wedding was probably my favorite detail. I have seen it done at many other military weddings, but seeing it from the bride’s view walking out with her new husband is indescribable.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We couldn’t have been happier with our pictures taken by Robyn Van Dyke and her husband Jordan. Because of their amazing talent, we will never forget one detail of our special day. The other vendor that played a huge part in our wedding day was our band, Black & Blue. My parents had heard them for the first time at a friend’s wedding a year before, and she knew right away that we would love them too. To say we had a dance party is an understatement. Will and I still talk about how much fun we had and how we wish we could have our reception all over again!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Always remember the real reason you are having the wedding. Planning a wedding can be stressful, even when you think it’s going to be a breeze, so don’t let the little things cause issues in your relationships. Enjoy every second because it goes by so fast, including the planning!!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are stationed in Virginia Beach for now. It is going to be a huge change for me because I have never left Raleigh or my family, but after six years of distance, I would have gone anywhere to finally start our lives together. We have waited so long for this and could not feel more blessed to be close to home and finally have each other in the same time zone!

Photographer: Robyn Van Dyke / Ceremony Venue: Edenton Street United Methodist Church / Reception Venue: Carolina Country Club / Florist: Kelly Odom / Cake Baker: Cinda’s Creative Cakes / Band: Black & Blue / Bride’s Gown: “Mackenzie” by Amsale / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale / Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Images by Denise / Bride’s Shoes: Toms / Groomsmen’s Suits: and Suits by Mantoni from Ticknors

Robyn Van Dyke is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    What a beautiful couple!! All of the military traditions they included are so special–loved reading about her going through the sword arch from a bride’s point of view!

  2. avatar featured: southern weddings » Robyn Van Dyke Photography Blog reply

    […] happy day, y’all! It’s always such an incredible honor to be featured on Southern Weddings, and we’re soo excited to have Caroline & Will‘s gorgeous military wedding featured […]

  3. avatar Rachel Nordgren reply

    “Russ gave a small sermon to make sure our families and friends knew Will and I weren’t taking any credit for finding each other, and that our marriage was going to be based on our faith in the Lord.” – I love that! I think basing your marriage on Christ from the very beginning is a beautiful and hugely important thing.

    Also, using a sword to cut the cake? Epic.

  4. avatar Julianne Bussey reply

    This whole article is flawless! I love every part of the wedding from the scripture readings and prayers to the sword arch! I love that you really tried to keep it focused around Jesus Christ :) What’s funny is that I live in Virginia Beach and totally didn’t expect to see that you are stationed here!

  5. avatar The Sweetest Father-Daughter Wedding Moments – Wedding Party reply

    […] Robyn van Dyke via Southern Weddings […]

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