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We never get tired of the classics around here–there’s just something so sweet about knowing a couple will still love every detail of their wedding when they show the pictures to their grandchildren someday! Annemarie and Sean certainly fit that bill, and what is even more special about their celebration is how involved their community was in bringing it to life. The reception was held at Annemarie’s grandparents’ home, and friends and family members contributed their time, talents, and treasures to make every detail magical for the newlyweds. Be sure to read Annemarie’s interview for some of the special ways their loved ones contributed–it included everything from the catering, to the magnolia leaves, to their getaway car!

Thank you so much to Olivia Griffin for sharing this lovely day with us!

I went wedding dress shopping with my mom, grandma, and aunt at The Poinsett Bride in Greenville soon after I got engaged. I had a specific Steven Birnbaum dress with an illusion neckline in mind that I wanted to try. The bridal salon didn’t have the dress I was looking for, but they did have a very similar dress by the same designer. As soon as I put it on, we all knew it fit the timeless, classic look I was hoping for. The ladies at The Poinsett Bride were able to add a custom illusion neckline to the dress. I could not have been happier with the way it all came together!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We were married at First Presbyterian Church of Laurens, a lovely, historic church in my hometown. Choosing our reception venue was easy for me: most of our family gatherings center around my grandparents’ home. Many of my favorite memories, from birthday parties to family weddings, have taken place there, and I couldn’t imagine having the reception anywhere else.

We are so glad we did a first look. Olivia captured some of my favorite pictures from the whole day during it. We really enjoyed being able to spend some time alone together before the wedding, especially since it was an evening wedding. We also wanted to spend as much time as possible with our guests at the reception, so doing a first look was an easy decision for us.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? My grandfather is a minister, and he performed our ceremony using traditional vows. He married my parents as well, so it was very special to all of us to have him play such a meaningful role.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. My uncle sang “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need,” a beautiful Southern hymn that has been a family favorite for many years. My dad and I walked down the aisle to “Thaxted” by Holst and the recessional was “Toccata, Symphonie V” by Widor.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: One favorite detail was arriving at the reception in my uncle’s antique car, a roadster converted from a 1929 Ford Model A, but there were so many special details, it is very difficult to decide on just one!

We were very blessed by our generous family and friends who contributed their time and talents in countless ways. Family friends assembled the table arrangements for the reception, and my grandmother and several friends and family members prepared the majority of the food for the reception (which is an amazing accomplishment, considering the number of guests!). We also used a lot of items from our family instead of renting, like the silver pieces and the furniture at the reception.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Dear family friends generously gave us our cake as a wedding gift. It was a traditional, three-layer white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and beautiful white roses cascading down the side. We also served homemade vanilla and chocolate ice cream made by my brother.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met our senior year at Clemson University and started dating that spring. After graduation, I began medical school and Sean moved to Atlanta for graduate school. Even with busy school schedules and a few hundred miles between us, we still saw each other as much as we could.
Tell us all about the proposal! We were both back in Clemson for a friend’s wedding. The evening after the wedding, Sean suggested we go for a walk on campus, which is something we enjoyed doing together frequently as students. We eventually stopped at a scenic place on campus where he asked me to marry him!
When did y’all get married? August 9, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 400
Describe your wedding flowers. The bouquets were made up of white garden roses and hydrangeas, accented with magnolia leaves. We used lots of magnolia leaves from my grandmother’s trees in the wedding. My mom made magnolia leaf garlands and wreaths for the church–the poor magnolia trees were starting to look pretty bare after she was finished with them! We used family silver pieces from my mom, grandmothers, and aunts as the containers for the reception table centerpieces.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed my mom’s pearl earrings. The handkerchief I carried was monogrammed with blue thread. I wore my great-grandmother’s diamond ring and a new pearl bracelet from Sean.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our goal was to incorporate our families as much as possible. We displayed wedding pictures of our parents and grandparents at the reception. The menu also included several Southern family recipes, including my great-grandmother’s benne seed cookies and cheese biscuits made by great-aunts. My mom made her famous pecan pralines for the favors.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We loved having Olivia as our photographer; she also happens to be a member of my extended family! She has photographed several other weddings in our family, so I was very familiar with her incredible talent and had hoped that she would be our photographer for a while.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? After dating long distance for three years, we are thrilled to finally enjoy each other’s company on a daily basis. We are very excited to move to Charlotte, where I will start my pediatric residency training in June.

Photographer: Olivia Griffin Photography / Planner: Lisa Kirk / Ceremony Venue: First Presbyterian Church of Laurens / Reception Venue: Private residence / Florist: Rick Childers / Rentals and Lighting: Event Rentals / Paper Products: Reaves Engraving, Inc / Bride’s Gown: “Rosanne” by Steven Birnbaum / Bridal Salon and Accessories: The Poinsett Bride / Bride’s Shoes: Something Bleu / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “D627” by Alfred Sung in Black Dupioni / Menswear: Jos. A. Bank

lisa Written with love by Lisa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Katie Purnell reply

    Traditional, classic weddings are the best. So beautiful.

  2. avatar Loverly reply

    We always like when a bride really takes the time to include family traditions and recipes into her wedding! It makes the day truly special and one of a kind!

  3. avatar Chelsea reply

    Oh my goodness, I just love those Mr. and Mrs. chair ties- they look just like ones from one of the Southern Newlyweds home tours!

  4. avatar Sara reply

    Hi there! I love that the bride’s mother made garland and wreaths from magnolia leaves. We have some magnolias in our yard. How far in advance do you think you could make those before the wedding day?! Maybe I could prolong their shelf life with some misting? Thanks so much!!

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The first time I visited Charleston was for Callie and Jamie’s wedding–Dave and I made a weekend of it and loved spending a little bit of time exploring the beautiful city. That trip was all too short, but thankfully, working at Southern Weddings has given me the opportunity to learn so much more about the amazing places throughout the South. Charleston is absolutely overflowing with history and tradition, and Keli and Ben drew from it all while planning their Lowndes Grove Plantation wedding. Along with the charms of Charleston, they were deeply inspired by their own home during their wedding planning. As a result, they brought furniture and decor from their house to their venue–both new pieces they had collected and refinished as a couple, and precious heirlooms that had been passed down to them. Meredith of Sweetgrass Social used all of these pieces and more to create the Southern garden dinner party reception Keli and Ben had dreamed of, and I’m sure you’ll agree, the result was magical!

Thank you so much to Olivia Griffin for sharing this very special day with us for V7!

The Haint blue porches have always been one of my favorite accents on historic Southern homes. We wanted to incorporate this feature throughout our wedding, especially because both the Unitarian Church and Lowndes Grove Plantation featured this concept on the ceilings. We continued the theme with the canopies on the structures on the oyster tabby, as well as in the table linens, stationery, and even down to my shoes.

Did you have a something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue? My something new was a bracelet Ben gave to me as a wedding gift. Rice was known as Charleston’s cash crop in the past, so he thought the rice pearls were appropriate to remind me of our wedding day in Charleston. I wore two items for my something old. One was my great-grandmother’s diamond ring that my mom also used as her wedding ring. The other was my mother-in-law’s veil from her wedding. My something borrowed was a vintage brooch I wore in my hair. I borrowed it from my sister, who also wore it in her wedding. My something blue was my shoes! They were just the right shade of blue and had an eyelet cutout design. They were the perfect touch and I can’t wait to wear them again!

The bridesmaids wore black dupioni silk dresses from LulaKate. When choosing a color, I wanted something classic that wouldn’t compete with the colors of the church. What girl doesn’t need a little black dress? I let the girls choose the styles and cuts that were best for them and let them accessorize as they pleased. The flower girls wore simple Swiss dot dresses that were adorable. I had them custom-made by Moss Rose Cottage Dress in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I also gave each of them pearl necklaces to wear.

Our wedding was held on April 13, 2014 in Charleston, South Carolina. We wanted a destination wedding that was close enough so that our family and friends would be able to attend. Ben lived in Charleston for several years and I have always loved the old Southern charm of the town. We chose a spring wedding since the flowers would be in bloom and the weather would not be too hot. We both knew we wanted a church ceremony, and had visited the Unitarian Church of Charleston for a friend’s wedding. We were amazed by the detailed fan vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows. It had all the rich history and character we were looking for. For the reception venue, I wanted a historic site with architectural elements, and Ben wanted the scenery of the Lowcountry marsh. Lowndes Grove was the perfect combination of both! We fell in love with the house; it was elegant and grand, but felt homey, and the waterfront landscape was like a painting.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. What part was most special to you? Did you include any special readings? We chose to have a traditional ceremony. It was important to Ben to have his father involved in the ceremony, so our pastor from Ben’s home church conducted the service, and Ben’s father performed the vows and ring ceremony for us. In honor of my parents, my mother’s sister lit the unity candle and my father’s brother walked me down the aisle. Ben’s mother lit the unity candle for his family.

Our wedding was Southern because the tea was sweet, the people were sweeter, and Charleston in April is the most beautiful Southern city on God’s green earth. The smell of the salt marsh in the distance laid out a canvas for the senses and harmonized with the aroma of shrimp and grits, Palmetto pale ale, and fried green tomatoes. Sitting along the banks of the Ashley River underneath Haint blue canopies, we watched a Southern sunset that made the ancient oak trees burn with a deep orange hue. The flowers danced on the Swiss dot linens beneath crystal chandeliers, as we danced on the oyster tabby under a palmetto moon.

What was the design inspiration for your reception? I knew I was going to be a handful for Meredith of Sweetgrass Social when I showed up with my sketches, floor plans, and fabric swatches when we first met–we couldn’t have pulled our wedding off without the help of her and the Sweetgrass Social team. They were amazing! Ben and I put great thought into each element of the décor and design. We wanted each component to tell a story about us and where we came from. Since both my parents and grandparents are deceased, incorporating items that were passed down to us was a way to have them there in spirit. It also allowed us to have pieces that were sentimental and reflected us as a couple.

Outside, I wanted it to feel like there were “rooms,” even though we were outdoors. I was trying to achieve a designated area for dining for our guests with chandeliers hanging above, like you would see in a dining room. We wanted our guests to feel like they were sipping sweet tea on the verandah beneath the Haint blue ceilings of Charleston, so Technical Event Company created these amazing whitewashed structures draped with light blue fabric and finished with crystal chandeliers. By having these structures scattered among the oyster tabby, it gave the illusion of separate rooms. During the afternoon, it felt like you were sitting on a Charleston verandah overlooking the river, and after sunset, it transformed into the elegant dining room we had envisioned. We also brought pieces from our own home. For example, tucked away in a nook of the reception, we staged my writing desk and the wingback chair I use at home with custom-made stationery that Ben designed, so that guests could write us letters.

When I met with Anne Bowen at Charleston Stems, I knew I was in good hands. I envisioned a soft mixture of cream and white flowers mixed with foliage in shades of green, rich with texture. We used a lot of my own glassware and vases I had collected over the years. In addition, I wanted to incorporate my mom and grandmothers’ pedestal bowls into the centerpieces. We added mercury glass votives in shades of gold and silver to the tablescape to add some warmth. My bouquet was composed of white peonies. I found some vintage French silk ribbon in a light mint color and added some vintage lace around the center to wrap the peonies in. My grandmother’s brooch was attached to finish the look. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were a mixture of white sweet peas and garden roses, and the flower girls carried peony blooms dressed with a mint linen ribbon, monogrammed with their initials. For the boutonnieres, we wanted to give a nod to Charleston and Ben’s love of the city, so we chose sweetgrass roses accented with lily of the valley.

We used a vintage porcelain cake knife and server to cut the cake, and our own fine china for the cake plate we ate from. My sister and brother-in-law gave us a bottle of Moet Champagne as a wedding gift, which we served from Ben’s grandmother’s silver champagne bucket. We toasted with our La Maison crystal champagne flutes.

What was the most memorable or touching moment about your wedding day? The most touching moment was my father-daughter dance. My dad and I always danced to “My Girl” by the Temptations growing up. He was one of eight children, five of which are still living. When it came time for my father-daughter dance, I planned to dance our song with one of my uncles. However, during the song, my four uncles and my aunt surprised me by each taking a turn on the dance floor with me during our song. It was so special. I am truly blessed to have such a caring and loving family. The mother-son dance was also touching–Ben surprised his mom by dancing to a song he wrote and composed while living in Charleston called “Saltwater Symphony.” It is her favorite out of all the songs he has written.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Ben and I met through my sister and my brother-in-law, who grew up with Ben. We were friends for a few years before we actually started dating. We started dating after we ran into each other at my sister’s wedding. Ben was living in Nashville and I was still in Florence, South Carolina, so most of our relationship involved a lot of phone calls and flights back and forth.
Tell us about the proposal! Ben and I love Asheville, North Carolina, and would meet there during our long-distance relationship. We usually take a tour of Biltmore Estate while we are there, since we both appreciate history and architecture. Knowing my love for flowers, Ben planned our trip to the Biltmore during their annual flower festival. The courtyards were filled with blooming tulips, and the grounds were rolling with bright yellow forsythia and pink cherry blossom trees. The greenhouse boasted exotic orchids and hydrangeas. It was my dream garden! I didn’t make it easy for Ben to pop the question–I was too busy snapping pictures and reciting the different types of flowers to him. We finally made it back up the hill to a quiet nook surrounded by forsythia where Ben “had to take a picture of us.” It was there where he fell to one knee and asked me to marry him. It was perfect!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Sentimental, elegant, personal
How many guests attended your wedding? Around 150
Tell us a bit about your first dance. Our song was by an artist we both love, Ray LaMontagne, and is called “Hold You in My Arms.” The lyrics are meaningful and relate to our relationship. It’s also a song Ben plays to me, which made it very sentimental.
Were there any family traditions you included in the reception? My uncle, Larry Moore, always says the blessing at all of our family gatherings. He gladly accepted when we asked him to do so at our reception.
Tell us about a way or ways you saved money or cut costs while planning. By bringing in our own pieces, we saved on rentals. We also made the Swiss dot tablecloths and runners from curtain panels which a friend sewed for us. By doing projects like these, we not only enjoyed them for our wedding, but can continue to use them in our future. We decided on having multiple smaller cakes in lieu of one larger single cake. I also did a lot of DIY projects, like the invitation envelopes and liners.
What are you most looking forward to about marriage? We are looking forward to growing together and continuing to learn about one another. It is exciting to go through the journey of life with someone I love.
Best advice or most memorable comment someone made to you during the wedding celebration: As I was waiting alone outside the chapel with my Uncle Stoney before we walked down the aisle, he told me that he could still remember the way his wife looked coming down the aisle. He described the moment and how beautiful she looked like it was yesterday. He told me how I would always remember this very moment, and to take in every second. It was a sweet and touching moment we had together.

Photographer: Olivia Griffin Photography / Planner: Meredith Tanton of Sweetgrass Social Event and Design / Ceremony Venue: The Unitarian Church of Charleston / Reception Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation / Florist: Anne Bowen of Charleston Stems / Caterer: Fish Restaurant / Wedding Cake: DeClare Cakes / Bride’s Gown: “Mimi” by Wtoo Brides / Bridal Salon: J Major’s Bridal Boutique / Bride’s Shoes: Ivanka Trump / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: LulaKate / Flower Girl Dresses: Moss Rose Cottage Dress / Hair Stylists: Meg Workman and Chelsea Poulas / Makeup Artist: Meg Workman / Menwear: Jos. A. Bank / Paper Goods: Minted and Just My Style Invitation and Programs / Rentals: EventWorks, EventHaus Rentals, Polished, and 428 Main Vintage Rentals / Linens: La Tavola Linen / Ceremony Musicians: Classic Charleston / Reception Band: Hot Sauce Party Band / Benne Wafer Favors: Olde Colony Bakery / Transportation: Old City Bus from Absolutely Charleston / Lighting: Technical Event Company

lisa Written with love by Lisa
2 Comments

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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