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Bride Allison shares her destination wedding at the dreamy Old Wide Awake Planation in South Carolina.

Please meet today’s darling bride, Allison! She and her beau Mike planned a beautiful Charleston celebration that was a destination wedding for both them and their families. And while planing a destination wedding (or a wedding outside of the town where you currently live!) can bring challenges. For Allison and Mike, it actually became one of their favorite things about the wedding planning process. Allison said, “We loved how many mini vacations Mike and I were able to take during the planning process. We visited Charleston 6 times in 19 months, and we had the best time each time we went.” She also recalls a trip where a canceled flight turned into road trip-adventure through a snow storm to make a few very important vendor appointments and some even more important memories. Keep scrolling to learn more about Allison and Mike, and of course, get all the heart eyes for their beautiful day!

Big hugs to Landon Jacob for sharing their South Carolina day with us!

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? In the months leading up to the wedding, I collected most of the vessels that the flowers and trinkets (koozies, programs, cards, etc.) went into from flea markets. It was a great way to add a very personal touch to the event and see my vision come to life. My florist, Fern, took my vision and ran farther than I ever thought possible with it. I was SO happy with the way the design of everything came out. Additionally, I incorporated my late grandmother’s veil as my “something old.” She was incredibly special to me, so it felt great having her with me on the day!

I started the dress search about 15 months prior to the wedding date (we had a 19 month engagement). I thought I found the dress of my dreams at my first appointment, Sarah Seven, and after learning that a trunk show where I could receive a sizable discount was occurring one month later, I knew I had to confirm my selection quickly. With that said, I went on a one-month mission to try on any dress that I was possibly interested in so that I could go back to Sarah Seven confident in my selection. Through my search, I realized that the dress I had originally loved was WAY different than anything I was drawn to at my other appointments. Heading back to the Sarah Seven trunk show, I was disappointed that I probably wouldn’t be taking advantage of the trunk show discounts. When I tried on the first dress I fell in love with, I realized it was completely wrong; luckily, thanks to the amazing Sarah Seven staff, they listened to the dresses I was loving at different designers & pulled out the most amazing dress I’d seen yet for me to try on. I knew it was my dress before even putting it on…but I did end up putting it on to confirm!

We chose to have our wedding in Charleston, SC. Mike’s family is in New York and Florida, and he went to University of Georgia, so most of his friends/family were all on the east coast. Alison’s family & friends are all in Illinois, which means that she’d been to almost every venue she would have chosen for someone else’s wedding, which didn’t feel special. Charleston was a pretty random spot as we only had 2 sets of family/friends there, but it was one of our absolute favorite cities and a place that we thought our Midwest friends and family would love to visit. Once we chose Charleston, we thought we wanted to a plantation feel, but booked appointments of a variety of venue types in the city. Old Wide Awake Plantation, which we ended up choosing, was one of the first we saw, and it became the one that we compared every other to. When we first turned onto the driveway & the house came into view, it took our breath away and we could clearly picture our perfect wedding there.

Did you decide to do a first look? Yes, we did a first look. We put so much thought and planning into the wedding of our dreams that we didn’t want to miss a single minute of it. Also, since we had a destination wedding, all of our guests were in from out of town, so we felt strongly about mingling as much as possible with everyone during our cocktail hour.

Although it was quite short (our Midwestern guests aren’t used to being out in the SC heat!), the ceremony was incredibly special to us because of who we chose to preside over it. Mike played baseball at University of Georgia and during his time there, he became quite close to the Chaplain of the team, Mr. Ray Lawrence. The day after Mike asked me what I thought about having Mr. Ray marry us, Mike woke up to an out-of-the-blue text from Mr. Ray, and we knew asking him was right.

What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? There were SO many, but one of the most memorable was Mike and me sitting down next to each other being served our dinner when the rest of our table was released to go to the buffet. It was such a small amount of time where it was just the two of us, but it allowed us to soak all of our planning efforts and amazing friends and families who had traveled for our special day.

What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? I loved how creative I was able to be. I came up with a very clear vision of what I wanted, and I went to work finding the best vendors that could help me execute it. More importantly, I loved how many mini vacations Mike and I were able to take during the planning process. We visited Charleston 6 times in 19 months, and we had the best time each time we went. One of our favorite memories was when our flight was canceled due to a late February snowstorm, and we had such critical vendor appointments to make that we decided to rent an SUV and drive through the snow to make it. In hind-sight, not the best choice from a safety and sanity perspective, but it was such an adventure and great memory.

What was Southern about your wedding? Because most of our guests were from the Midwest, we wanted to make sure we provided a great Southern meal. For appetizers, we had sweet potato & ham biscuits, bacon-wrapped scallops, tomato pies, and mini chicken & waffles. Then for dinner we had a buffet (not at all typical in the Midwest – we normally do seated and served dinners) of shrimp and grits, peach glazed pork tenderloin, smoked chicken, fresh green beans, mashed potatoes (both sweet and normal) and biscuits with herb butter and strawberry basil jam. I still get compliments on our food with many claiming it was the best wedding food they’ve ever had. We also incorporated Southern culture with the venue itself. It had such a great history, and I made sure to include it in the program so everyone in attendance could learn what a special place it was.

I’m convinced we had the best baker in the game! We used Izzabee’s Confectioneries in Columbia, SC. I dream of the sweets table that she made for us to this day! We went with a small (basically just a personal one for Mike and me) lemon cake with strawberry cream and lemon curd icing as well as fresh whipped cream. It was a naked cake, and she combined all of that deliciousness in. For the rest of the sweets table we had homemade s’mores (the marshmallows & graham crackers were all from scratch), chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, homemade Oreos, brown butter Rice Krispie treats, mini apple, blueberry, and pecan pies, mini carrot cake and chocolate cupcakes, lemon curd & blueberry tarts, and homemade Twix tarts. INCREDIBLE! Because I knew the sweets would be such a hit, I made sure to include “Treat Bags” at the table so that guests could take some home.

Our music selections throughout the ceremony and reception were especially important to us – we started compiling a list of must-plays right after being engaged! I walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of “Then” by Brad Paisley played by a guitar player and violinist. This song was perfect for us lyrics-wise, it was a great change from the normal “Here comes the bride” and the tempo fit wonderfully. Walking back up the aisle we chose American Authors’ “Best Day of My Life” (again played on guitar & violin). This is one of our absolute favorite songs – it’s super fun, the lyrics fit perfectly, and it got the tone of the night started! To walk into our reception, we chose “This is What You Came For” by Rihanna and Calvin Harris. Being that it was a destination wedding, we thought it fit because let’s be honest, everyone comes for the party! Lastly, our first dance song was “You and Me” by Dave Matthews Band. As long as I’ve known Mike, he’s talked about having this as his first dance song, and after whittling our list down song after song (we compiled and listened to all suggestions on Friday nights while drinking wine) this one persisted. It was the PERFECT first dance song.

Tell us your love story. Mike and I met at work. Mike worked at the company’s Atlanta office and I worked out of Chicago, but our roles had us working very closely. Then once Mike was transferred up to Chicago, the connection was obvious & the rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! Having recently brought home our beloved English Lab, Clarke, Mike asked me to take a random Friday off work to take the pup out to one of my favorite Illinois nature parks, Starved Rock. After about an hour into the hike, at the most scenic look out point, I turned around to see Mike down on one knee with Clarke sitting at his side. It was such a surprise and just perfect. After getting back to the car and calling friends and family to exclaim the great news, Mike let me know that we were headed to a fun restaurant back in Chicago to celebrate, just the two of us. Upon arriving at the restaurant, however, Mike pulled out his second surprise of the night – he had reserved a large private room at the restaurant and ensured all friends and family were in attendance to celebrate the engagement.
When did y’all get married? October 1, 2016.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120.
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? The hardest part of planning the wedding was keeping my budget in check and trying to make sure all contributing family members were appeased!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My venue didn’t require me to use any predetermined list of vendors, so I was able to go out and find vendors that fit into my budget. I also did a lot of things on my own that many people may have paid for (created guest thank you gifts, addressed invites, paid for design of my programs, maps, etc. but printed them myself).
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? If at all possible, do what will make you and your husband happy and don’t worry about anyone else. It’s your day, and you both deserve for it to be exactly what you want it to be.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? It was the best day of my life. :)

Photographer: Landon Jacob | Planner: Jessica Rourke | Venue: Old Wide Awake Plantation | Florist:
Fern Floral & Event Design | Dessert Baker:  Izzabee’s Confectioneries | Caterer: Southern Way Catering | Rentals: Party Reflections | Lighting: Rob McKenzie | DJ: Other Brother Entertainment | Guitar Player: Gregory Guay | Paper Products: Magnificent Milestones | Bride’s Gown: “Stella” by Sarah Seven | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: MiKel Rumsey | Bride’s Shoes: “Romy Gold” by Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Varied Floor Length Tulle Gowns in Graphite by Amsale | Menswear: “Traveler Suit” in Grey by Jos A Bank | Guest Transportation: Coastal Limousine of Charleston | Couple’s Getaway Car: “Caroline” 1950 Bentley Motor Car from Vintage Limousine Service

Jessica Rourke is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    So pretty! Love the dreamy grays and that dessert table…and even though I just see a peek, I pretty much want to buy her mama’s dress and save it for 20-some years, ha!

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Upon first look at Melati + Mark’s darling Charleston nuptials, I was overcome by how effortfully chic their entire day looks. The classic navy details combined with the relaxed burlap runners feel polished yet laid back — a difficult balance to strike that M + M couldn’t have made prettier! But, of course, you know I can’t just talk about how lovely their day is, after reading their interview. I know Kristin would agree that Melati’s outlook on married life is spot on! She said, with marriage, “there is added responsibility to always be the best form of yourself and added security, too, for when that doesn’t always happen.” YES!

Big thanks to Loren Routhier for sharing this sweet day!

Our work nickname (combining my first name and Mark’s last name) is “Belati.” We tied ribbons which were printed with “BELATI EST. 2013” around each set of silverware. The silverware was then laid across navy blue linen napkins at each table. This little touch, along with the hand-painted navy “B” on the burlap runners gave each table a special feel.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My wedding dress was a silk strapless sweetheart gown from Nicole Miller. I absolutely loved the draping in the front and felt like it gave the dress a romantic vibe. It was one of the first dressed I tried on, and from then on, I went on a search to find the best deal. Believe it or not, I ended up buying my dress brand new from eBay for a third of the cost. There are tons of deals out there if you are looking to find them!

Describe your wedding flowers. I was looking for a rustic look. The flowers were assembled in muted tones with a mixture of Juliet David Austin roses, assorted textural flowers, lavender, succulents and scabiosa pods for a little edge.

Mark was a huge advocate of seeing each other for the first time when I walked down the aisle. The park had a beautiful winding brick path, which actually provided me the opportunity to have a special moment with my father and acknowledge several guests. However, as soon as Mark and I locked eyes, it was complete tunnel vision. I even had to go back after the ceremony to see what the flowers that lined the aisle looked like. It was exactly as we had hoped, the butterflies and tears. I don’t know if it would have been as overwhelming if we had seen each other before.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: There were three details in particular that were important to us. For our guest book, we found a North Carolina artist and asked them to paint the reception venue. We then installed a hard canvas on the back and had guests sign it. This painting will forever hang on our wall with the names of all who joined us. Second, our work nickname (combining my first name and Mark’s last name) is “Belati.” We tied ribbons which were printed with “BELATI EST. 2013” around each set of silverware. The silverware was then laid across navy blue linen napkins at each table. This little touch, along with the hand-painted navy “B” on the burlap runners gave each table a special feel. Third, we loved our custom stamp. The brown paper bag that Mark used in the proposal had the stamp from the bakery he bought it from on it (a funky rooster). Then, when we grabbed breakfast on our way to the soon-to-be-discovered ceremony and reception location, we were given our pastries in another brown paper bag with a whisk stamp. Last, that year, we picked up donuts in Kansas before our engagement party and, what do you know, but we got another brown paper bag with the store’s logo stamped on it. Needless to say we sensed the universe giving us a theme. We ended up framing those three paper bags and then created a custom stamp based off of the tree that we got married under. We used that not only on our own brown paper bags, but also throughout the programs and cards during the reception.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? In addition to the Spanish moss and old oak tree ceremony site and the Southern plantation reception, we wanted to give everyone a taste of the low-country in both style and food. Mark and the groomsmen wore navy blue bow ties (in assorted colors and patterns) in honor of Mark’s grandfather who was a tremendous influence in Mark’s life. We also featured a cocktail hour with crab cakes, peel-and-eat shrimp and prosciutto wrapped asparagus. For the main course we served shrimp and grits, beef tenderloin (for non-seafood lovers), cornbread, macaroni and cheese, roasted new potatoes and fresh green beans with almonds and bacon.

Mark has a serious sweet tooth, so when it was time for the tasting, we simply could not choose just one flavor. We featured eight wedding cakes with flavors ranging from lemon custard, strawberry buttercream (with local strawberries), grapefruit, coconut, peanut butter chocolate and more. Mini cupcakes were also available in fresh blueberry buttercream and mint chocolate.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in 2009 at an ad agency we both work for in Durham, North Carolina. I was originally recruited to work for Mark, but, luckily for our future relationship, once I was hired, I was placed on a different account. Though we often saw each other in the office and out with friends, our relationship started more than a year after our first meeting. Since we both love the outdoors and our dogs, our first date was a five-hour hike during which we introduced our furry family members. Our second date was less than 24 hours after the first, and since that time, we have been inseparable. Mark and I pride ourselves on the DIY spirit we both infuse into our home and experience daily by living in Durham. Naturally, our wedding was an outdoor, DIY event in a romantic city that serves as our most frequent getaway destination, Charleston, SC.
Tell us all about the proposal! Early in our relationship, we developed the habit of going to the Durham Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. When I was dying to sleep in, Mark would often go solo and bring home breakfast and flowers (I’m a lucky gal). In August of 2012, Mark came home at 8am and woke me up with a call to join him in the kitchen. Thank goodness I washed my face and brushed my teeth first, rather than stumbling in half asleep! There were two brown paper bags on the counter. Mark pointed to one that held my breakfast and then reached behind him to grab what I thought was his bag. Instead, he pulled out a ring and got down on one knee. It turns out he had called both of my parents and both of my sisters beforehand to get everyone’s blessing. We celebrated with mimosas and tearful phone calls. Even our dogs got special treats to mark the occasion.
When did y’all get married? June 1, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 101
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We thought it was very important to write our own vows to each other. Mark’s blew me away—we’re talking serious tears. My favorite lines were from his vows, which read: “I promise to always love you, stand by you, and protect you. I will be strong in times of challenge, tender in times of pain, as playful with our children as we are with each other and, above all, your steadfast partner and best friend for the rest of our lives.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Instead of religious readings, we opted for “The Blessing of the Hands.” “These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy. These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children. These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. And lastly, these are the hands that, even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. (Guests Arrival) Mumford and Sons, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder: We wanted a collection of low-key and upbeat music that represents the vibe we live by. (Mothers’ Entrance) “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles: It was such a celebratory song that really hit home because of how much both of our mothers have built their lives around showing, giving and nurturing love. (Wedding Party) “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole: We love this song also because of the upbeat nature. It’s fun, a little old fashioned (which we can be), and gives folks a cute pep in their step when they walk to it! (Walk Down Aisle) “Forever” by Ben Harper: This song in so many ways represents the journey the two of us have been through and our pledge to each other. This was very much my song dedication to Mark, like our first dance was his song dedication to me. (Recessional) “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers (starting at 0:52) (First Dance) “I’ll Be Your Lover Too” by Van Morrison: This song represents Mark so incredibly well and was one of the first songs he shared with me when we first started dating. (Father/Daughter Dance) “Up on the Roof” by The Drifters: My father sang this to me when putting me to bed throughout my childhood. The song was a surprise to him until the morning of the wedding. However, he was certain that would be the one! (Mother/Son Dance) “Let it Be” by The Beatles.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something old was a baby bonnet Mark wore home from the hospital that was sewn under my dress. For my something borrowed, I also wore an heirloom pearl and gold bracelet from her mother’s side of the family in Malaysia. For my something new, I splurged on a pair of Miguel Ases pearl and gold chandelier earrings (they were to die for). For my something blue, I fell in love with a pair of navy suede Kate Spade wedges.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? There were two main challenges we faced when planning the wedding. The first was planning a wedding as an out-of-town bride. It became incredibly important that all of our vendors were personable and prompt on the phone/email. It was also important that we could communicate our vision and hopes and dreams and that they could not only echo them back, but add to them. Through vendors building on our ideas, we were able to get a feel for who really “got us” and who was just “giving good phone.” The second biggest challenge was planning a budget. For Mark and I, it was very important to have the wedding we had always dreamed of without compromising our financial future, as we were just starting the build a life together. There were a lot of times when I had to ask myself if an idea or detail was critical for the day or if there were ways that I could recreate a look myself. Etsy and Pinterest became my go-to resources for inspiration on achieving different looks myself or to finding an artist who could do it for less than I would be charged otherwise.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? There are two answers for this question too. One was my photographer, Loren Routhier. She was such a blessing throughout the entire process. She was flexible and responsive, and when she showed up on-site, she just fit right in and exuded warmth, making everyone feel comfortable. Additionally, she went above and beyond after the wedding to make sure I had everything I could have dreamed of to document the day! The other person was our day-of-coordinator who manages the reception site, Margaret McKenzie. She offered her services when we visited the site and I was sold. And thank goodness, because she played such a pivotal role.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? My favorite part of the wedding day was by far and away when we delivered our vows. We were holding hands, staring into each other’s eyes and were somewhere between laughing and crying the whole time. At one point, Mark forgot part of his vows because he was just overcome with the moment and my heart was so full. It sounds funny to say that that was my favorite part but I still smile just thinking about it.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be sure that the wedding you plan is the wedding you want. It can be very hard when friends and family offer opinions (and sometimes they do so very strongly). Just remember that this is YOUR day. Respectfully thank them for their input and let them know that you’ll keep their ideas in mind as you decide how everything flows together. By addressing that type of feedback upfront, it will be easier to follow through with your own desires as your (and their) nerves and anticipation grow.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Just spending more and more time together. We postponed our honeymoon until early 2014, as we spent the week leading up to and after the wedding with our families. Everyone asks if being married feels any different. It doesn’t really. But, perhaps, there is added responsibility to always be the best form of yourself and added security too for when that doesn’t always happen.

Photographer: Loren Routhier | Ceremony Venue: Wide Awake Park | Reception Venue: Old Wide Awake Plantation | Florist: Wildflowers Inc | Wedding Cake Baker: Sugar Bakeshop | Caterer: Crazy Dutchman Catering | Rentals: Snyder | Bride’s Gown: Nicole Miller | Hair Stylist & Makeup Artist: Paper Dolls | Additional Vendors: In lieu of traditional wedding favors, the couple made a donation to the ASPCA.

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    I am completely head over heels for the bouquets and that gorgeous venue! I also love Melati’s perfectly gracious advice for people currently planning a wedding. Brides, take note! :)

  2. avatar Nicole reply

    So sweet!! I’m a total sucker for puppies, so I love that their first date was a chance for their dogs to meet and that their furry family family members were even a part of the engagement celebration :)

  3. avatar Marilyn Schultz reply

    How wonderful to read about all the details of Melati (my niece) and Mark’s wedding in Southern Weddings. I live in California, and since I was unable to attend the wedding, seeing the photos and reading Melati and Mark’s answers to the interview questions was the next best thing to being there! Such a beautiful southern wedding and a stunning couple. Thank you!

  4. avatar Emily reply

    What a seriously gorgeous bouquet! I adore the dahlias.

  5. avatar Summer reply

    Where did you get your bridesmaids dresses? Love the different styles!

  6. avatar Lynsey reply

    Where did you get your bridesmaid dresses? They are gorgeous. I really like the strapless one with the deep V. Have friends planning a wedding and are desperately looking for that dress!

  7. avatar The Wedding Planner’s Wedding Part II: Obstacles & Compromise reply

    […] Elizabeth Fogarty via Style Me Pretty; Outdoor ceremony – Loren Routhier Photography via Southern Weddings; Handfasting Ceremony – One Love Photography via Style Me Pretty; Ballyseede Castle – […]

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