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Though Ashley and William might not be Southern by their home address, I am quite confident that these two should be honorary Southerners. Their destination wedding weekend at Lowndes Groves Plantation was focused on hospitality, and course, a great party–two mighty important aspects of being a Southerner! With the help of Intrigue Design & Events, Ashley and William welcomed their family and friends into Southern culture with grace and heart. I especially can’t get over the sweet sentiment of why they chose their first dance song, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding: “The song symbolized all of the adventures we had experienced together, as well as those that were yet to come.” Amen, y’all!

Big hugs to Britt Croft for capturing their beautiful day!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Since this was a destination wedding to not only our guests, but also for us, we wanted to ensure we had a home base for the week that wasn’t a hotel room. We rented a beautiful historic estate on the Battery that served not only as the home base for the week, but also a place for friends and family to gather with us. We stayed at the house along with six members of the bridal party and our beloved dog, Winston.

I walked down the aisle to “Trumpet Voluntary” and we walked back up the aisle to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. We chose this because it was upbeat, but had a classic undertone that sounded beautiful played by The Palmetto Strings.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My borrowed item was from my grandmother on my mother’s side, who gifted me with pearl earrings that had been passed down from generation to generation to females in my family on their wedding day. I’m continuing to borrow them until my cousin gets married and I can pass them down to her. My borrowed and blue item was my best friend from high school’s garter, which had a blue ribbon on it. My old item was my vintage gold Rolex from my grandfather on my father’s side. My new item was from my grandmother on my mother’s side, who gave me a silver sixpence to place in my shoe for good luck (I’m surprised I still have it after all of the dancing!).

Will attended college in Charleston, but I had never been. After viewing a few venues in Connecticut and New York, we quickly realized that our perfect venue was in a city only a plane ride away. Charleston, known for its beautiful setting and Southern hospitality, quickly won our hearts. After viewing a few picturesque estates, Lowndes Grove Plantation was the clear favorite, thanks to its grand estate and waterfront location.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Hospitality and, of course, a great party! We also incorporated Southern touches into details throughout the wedding weekend. Groomsmen wore pastel bow ties from High Cotton (Winston had a matching one!), our wedding cocktail was a bourbon punch, and our custom bar was a bourbon tasting and cigar bar. We included a welcome note in everyone’s hotel rooms with a watercolor map of downtown Charleston and a nip of Firefly sweat tea vodka or bourbon. My gift to Will was a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon engraved with our initials and wedding date. In addition, the palmetto tree was incorporated into all of the details, from the invitation to the menus.

Our first dance was to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding. This song has always been on the playlist for our road trips to the beach, on ski trips, and on other weekend getaways. For the wedding, the song symbolized all of the adventures we had experienced together, as well as those that were yet to come.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met through friends in Boston in 2008. We first informally met at a summer happy hour with a group of friends. Months later, also through friends, Will attended a BBQ I was hosting at my apartment (I attribute the relationship to my cooking and cocktail-making skills, and Will agrees!). Before leaving the BBQ, Will asked for my number, and he called the next day to ask me out to dinner. We started dating soon after and the rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! I’m never one to let anything get by me, so I was tough to surprise! Will purchased the ring months in advance and shipped it to my parents’ home in Connecticut for safe keeping. The proposal was carefully scheduled for the days prior to my mother’s surprise 60th birthday celebration, which I was planning and hosting. The timing was perfect, since we got to celebrate with both friends and family. Will curated the entire evening from start to finish. The proposal happened at our apartment, so our beloved dog, Winston, could be present. On Friday after work, I came home to find Will on one knee, asking for my hand in marriage. After tears of happiness, we headed to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, followed by a large meet-up with friends to celebrate the engagement. The next day, we headed to Connecticut to celebrate with family (and, of course, my mother’s birthday!).
When did y’all get married? October 12, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 95
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Since I live in New York City, the possibilities for wedding dress shopping were endless. My mother, grandmother, aunt, and godmother came to the city for a day of shopping. Only two boutiques and five dresses later, I found my dream dress at Kleinfeld’s.
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We both agreed that a first look was best for us so that we could celebrate more with all of the family and friends who traveled from near and far to join us in Charleston.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? More than $100,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? At the end of the day, it will be the best day of your life. The only thing that truly matters is being with one another and the family and friends you get to celebrate with.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are currently looking to purchase a new home in 2016, and are apartment hunting in New York City.

Photographer: Britt Croft Photography | Planner: Intrigue Design & Events | Venue, Catering, and Cake: Lowndes Grove Plantation | Florist: Loluma | Rentals and Lighting: Distinctive Events | Band: Liquid Pleasure | Paper Products: The Silver Starfish | Bride’s Gown: Custom by Mark Zunino | Bride’s Veil: Peter Langner | Hair and Makeup: Paper Dolls | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Annabelle” by Jenny Yoo | Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux | Dinnerware: Polished! | Tent and Additional Rentals: Snyder Events | Farm Tables: EventHaus | Transportation: Charleston Style Limo | Ceremony Music: Palmetto Strings | Babysitting Services: Guardian Angels Sitting Service

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Aunt Annie reply

    Love this wedding and the beautiful photos. Such a gorgeous venue and the day looked gorgeous. Picked up some gorgeous detail in the bride’s gown,simply stunning. All captured by my amazing niece! Love it.

  2. avatar Auntie Bern reply

    Loved the article and pictures and going back to such a happy and special time. You and Will are a gorgeous couple with many happy years to follow.
    XOXOXO

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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
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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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