We see a LOT of Charleston weddings around here (not surprising considering it’s one of the loveliest destinations in the South!). That means that when we’re choosing real weddings to feature each year in print, we have to be extra selective–otherwise, it would be all too easy for half the weddings we shared to be Charleston celebrations! When Stephanie and Johnston’s wedding photos landed in our inbox though, we knew we had a gem that our readers would love as much as we did. Stephanie and Johnston teamed up with A Charleston Bride with a meaningful goal in mind: to make their wedding feel as though it was a fabulous party at their home. Every detail was completely true to their classic style, and the reception even incorporated some of Stephanie’s beloved blue and white china. A few of my favorite personal touches were the ones that paid special tribute to how important their families are to them, from the boxwood family photo display, to the lace from her mother’s wedding dress Stephanie wrapped around her bouquet, to the custom crest they included as a nod to the new family they were starting on their wedding day!
We’re so thrilled Olivia Griffin shared this day with us for V9! We got to celebrate with both Olivia and Stephanie in person at our issue launch party, which was such a treat!
Tell us about your wedding flowers. How did you choose them? What did you love about them? We wanted to incorporate lots of whites, ivories, and natural greens. I started to share some ideas with Lindsey on Pinterest and she and I brainstormed for months to get the combinations just right. She helped me see past just the appeal of the colors, but to think about the feeling and texture that certain varieties can have. She also made sure to create an overall design plan that was lush and full without being too over the top. My bouquet included tulips, peonies, and hyacinths. The construction was a modern take on the traditional with block groupings instead of the flowers being mixed evenly throughout. The bouquet was wrapped with lace from my mother’s wedding dress that she had kept preserved all these years!
We were married in Charleston, South Carolina at the end of February, and luckily, it felt like spring! Charleston is a special destination for us as a couple. We have traveled there together several times, and we love all of the restaurants, shopping, and the history of the town. I had always envisioned getting married outside by the water and Johnston and I wanted a destination wedding. Lowndes Grove gave us the Southern feel we were looking for, was right next to the water, was a large white plantation, and was also in a city we love! Being that we both wanted a black-tie affair and wanted the sun to be setting when we said “I do,” we spoke with our photographer and videographer to see what time of day would be best for our ceremony.
Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. We had a gospel choir sing guests into the ceremony, where they were greeted with a glass of champagne. We decided to have our ceremony facing the Ashley River on the backside of the property, instead of on the grand front lawn, to make the atmosphere feel more intimate. It was such a beautiful and peaceful backdrop. I also had a trumpet player for my entrance into the ceremony with my father. It was a really special way to come into the space, and made me think of all the weddings I had watched when I was a little girl.
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? Johnston: The first look and Stephanie walking down the aisle. Stephanie: Walking down the aisle and saying “I do!” During the ceremony itself, when my dad and I started walking down the aisle toward Johnston, I was overwhelmed with all the love felt. Seeing people we have known our whole lives who traveled to witness Johnston and me get married was a feeling I will never forget.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved dresses and getting dressed up for events! Given my extreme love of fashion, shopping, and clothes, I knew that my wedding dress had to be the most stunning, gorgeous, timeless dress I had ever seen. I wasn’t even looking for dresses (since I was not engaged at this point) when I came across a picture of the Oscar de la Renta “Caroline” dress. I immediately called Oscar de la Renta in New York and inquired about the dress. They informed me that this dress was not in stores yet but would be by the spring (perfect timing on the engagement). I called the only store in Atlanta that would be carrying this dress and made sure they called me the day it arrived. We got engaged, and the timing was perfect because three days later, the dress was in! My mom and I went to see it and I tried it on and that was it! I knew instantly this was the dress I had always dreamed I’d wear when I walked down the aisle! The lady at the store told me that this was the last dress that Oscar himself created for his bridal collection before he passed away! I have such a love and passion for fashion that this dress exceeded my wildest dreams of any wedding dress I’ve ever seen!
We had a large focal point of a live greenery wall, where I gathered wedding pictures from Johnston’s and my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents. This meant so much to us because our families are extremely important to us and we are fortunate to have parents who are still as in love as they were when they were married over 35 years ago!
Our cocktail hour was perfect, and since we did a first look, we got to spend as much time as possible with our family, friends, and guests. We had the band play during the entire cocktail hour and had amazing hors d’oeuvres passed, which we had spent so much time picking out. We wanted each guest to feel welcome from the second they stepped off of the trolley and entered our wedding evening. Each guest was greeted with a glass of champagne to toast to the evening to come. Once the ceremony was finished, everyone went inside the house. We had a greenery-covered bar and blue and white ceramic lamps in the entry to greet everyone. They then walked into the main house and saw our cake on display under the spiral staircase, and smaller separated rooms they could walk in for chef-attended short ribs and oysters on ice. We also had a focal wall, in greenery of course, and hung our family wedding photos underneath our guest book.
The wedding exuded the same design and style of our house, which everyone remarked upon. People said they felt like they were at a party at our home (albeit a slightly larger house with a view of the water). We incorporated as many personal items from our home as we could carry in all of our trips up to Charleston. The blue and white china and monogrammed pillows are back in our home today, and seeing them on a daily basis reminds us of the wonderful wedding day!
Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: Walking into the wedding process, I had a good idea of things I was naturally attracted to and liked. Once Lindsey and I got started on what elements we wanted to bring in, she and the ACB team asked a lot of questions about us as a couple, our family, our style, and our interests. Somehow, all of that came into the design and we loved it all even more than clippings or pictures we had seen before. Inspiration was the soft palette of natural ivories and greens with accents of gold and dark charcoal. I wanted to incorporate a black and white dance floor, large focal bars, crystal chandeliers, and lots of boxwood and flowers. Once we got started, we incorporated blue and white china, which I collect, and it really finished out the design. There was a little something to discover everywhere.
The wedding cake was a three-tier hexagon cake covered in ivory fondant with a gold-covered vintage lettered monogram on the middle layer and a few delicate white flowers placed at the top. It was simply stunning. The stand was polished silver and was a gift from a dear friend. The silver cake server and knife were heirloom pieces Johnston’s parents used at their wedding to cut their cake!
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met at a mutual friend’s 30th birthday party. I had recently moved home to Atlanta from Florida, where I had lived since graduating from Alabama in 2007. One of my best friends convinced me to attend the party, as I had originally planned to stay home for the night because I was in a boot from a running injury. Johnston had been living in Atlanta since he graduated from Ole Miss in 2007. I lived a few doors down from Johnston’s cousin at Alabama, and thought I had recognized him, as they look very much alike. I introduced myself and there was an immediate connection. It is crazy to think about all the mutual friends we shared and all of the parties and weddings in college and after that we were both at and never once met. Johnston was in the background of a picture I found from a friend’s wedding four years before, which we attended with other dates! We realized that everything happens in God’s time and happens for a reason! We both knew immediately this was something special, and several months later, we were engaged!
Describe the proposal: Johnston had arranged for both of our families and a few close friends to meet at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The weather was near perfect in mid-March, warm without being overwhelming. We walked through Piedmont Park and then into the main courtyard of the Botanical Gardens, where all of the tulips, one of my favorite flowers, were in full bloom! Johnston took a knee and I began crying and said “yes!” Having our families and best friends there cheering for us was such a special touch that Johnston organized. We then went to a wonderful dinner with everyone to celebrate!
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? With the advice from some friends, who were married a few months before us, we attended several sessions of marriage counseling. While we did not have any serious issues to discuss when we started going, we found it very helpful to talk through many of the matters the counselor said cause problems down the line in most marriages. We also met with the minister who married us for several premarital sessions as well. Spending time with him going over our backgrounds and views on marriage and our parents’ marriages was very special, and he made our ceremony incredibly personal from our discussions. When we were first engaged, my mom also gave me the Southern Weddings Planner! She knows I like to stay extremely organized, and this planner had amazing advice and tools to use while planning a perfect Southern wedding. With the ability to add our information into it, I brought this to every meeting and referred to it daily while planning the wedding and keeping myself organized in the process!
How many guests attended your wedding? 165
Who was one of the most special guests at your wedding? Mu grandparents, who have been married for 61 years!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? For now, we are readjusting to the real world and enjoying newlywed life: traveling for a few weddings, catching up with friends, and spending plenty of time with our dog, Oliver. We look forward to hosting dinner parties, redesigning rooms in our home, and possibly searching for a new house down the line. In the future, we plan to start a family and look forward to everything marriage has to offer.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Never lose sight of what the day is really about. There are so many moving parts and you put a lot of pressure on yourselves, but remember that this is about the two of you and the decision you have made to spend your lives together. Enjoy the day and hire a great videographer so you can relive this day for the rest of your lives!
Photographer: Olivia Griffin Photography | Videographer: Kickstand Studio | Planner, Designer, and Decor: Lindsey Shanks of A Charleston Bride | Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation | Florals: Jonie LaRosse of A Charleston Bride | Caterer: Fish Restaurant | Wedding Cake: Patrick Properties | Bride’s Gown: “Caroline” by Oscar de la Renta | Bridal Salon: Joan Pillow Bridal | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaid Dresses: Style 450248 in Slate by Monique Lhuillier | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Ash and Co. | Groom’s Tuxedo: Sid Mashburn | Groom’s Shoes: Stubbs and Wooten | Groomsmen Fashion: The Black Tux | Paper Goods and Invitations: MADE Papier | Crest Design: Arabella June | Rentals: Snyder Rental, A Charleston Bride, Ooh! Events, and TEC Lighting Company | Linens: BBJ Linen | Reception Pillows: Number Four Eleven | Transportation: Absolutely Charleston | Bride and Groom Exit: Classic Boat Charleston | Lighting: IES Productions
A Charleston Bride is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!