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Many of us girls dream about our wedding day for years, myself included! I personally always knew I’d wear the pearl bracelet my grandmother wore on her wedding day. Most grooms, on the other hand, may not have prepared for quite so long. :) However, it’s so important to view wedding planning as a preparation for your marriage, so sharing in decision-making is a great way to get your beau involved. Today’s sweet couple is a wonderful example of this in practice. Amy dreamed of a romantic, timeless, and luxurious-feeling wedding day, so she and her groom, Gabe, planned their special day at The Governor Thomas Bennet House. They chose to make decisions together and compromise often so that they both were happy with the details of their wedding, like their heartfelt ceremony and brightly-colored blooms. Amy said “It is through shared decision-making and communication that a strong marriage is built.” I could not agree more!

Big hugs to Kelly Dillon for sharing this Charleston wedding with us!

Gabe and I met in January 2012 at Trio, one of our favorite spots in downtown Charleston. We were there with a group of mutual friends and started talking, and then danced together the rest of the night. We went on our first date the next day and have been together ever since. After dating for eight months, I got an opportunity to teach in South Korea for a year. This was something I had always wanted to do, but I knew it would be hard on our relationship. Gabe was really supportive and wanted me to take advantage of this opportunity. We Skyped almost every day, and both feel that our relationship grew stronger during this time, even though we were half a world apart.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I tried on so many different dresses from almost every shop in Charleston. I wasn’t sure what kind of dress I wanted at first, but finally decided that I wanted a big princess dress with beading, lace, and some sparkle. I tried on a Justin Alexander dress at The Bridal House of Charleston, and loved the fullness of the skirt, the beautiful underlay of delicate lace, and the beadwork on the bodice. I decided to switch the high neckline to a sweetheart neckline, and added a tulle sash with a sparkly embellishment.

For the flowers, I chose various shades of pink with accents of gold for the vases and candle holders. The flowers were a mix of coral, blush, and bright pink peonies. We also included accents of dusty miller, pink spray roses, and white hydrangea. I loved the lush, summery feel of the flowers.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows, but we had a family friend be our officiant. She has known me since I was a baby, and it was very special that she was the one to marry us.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My grandmother gave a heartfelt blessing at the start of the ceremony. She is a very special person in my life, and it meant a lot to have her be a part of the ceremony.

We fell in love with The Governor Thomas Bennett house because of its old Southern charm and history. It was built in 1825 and has been completely restored and beautifully furnished with period pieces. I was immediately enamored with the free-standing staircase, the only one of its kind in Charleston. We also loved the Southern feel of the large live oak tree that spread over the garden where the ceremony would be held. Once we saw the house, it was an easy choice. I didn’t want to get married anywhere else.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I wanted the wedding to have a romantic, timeless, and luxurious feel. To get that feel, we hung a chandelier from the live oak near the ceremony site and three chandeliers in the reception tent. This added so much to the old Southern charm of our venue.

Tell us all about the proposal! We got engaged at the end of January 2014. Gabe is a pilot in the Air Force, and he had just gotten back from a two-month deployment. It was so exciting to be back together after what felt like forever. The day we got engaged was unseasonably warm for January, so we decided to take a walk on the beach at Sullivan’s Island. We walked all the way down to the point where you can see Fort Sumter. He stopped, turned to me, and said, “A lot of amazing history has happened in this spot, and I’m excited to make more amazing history with you. I love you so much. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me.” He then got down on one knee and asked, “Will you marry me?” It was a very sweet moment. I was so happy a bystander got a picture of the moment we got engaged.
When did y’all get married? June 6, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 100
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We decided not to do a first look. Gabe and I didn’t want to lose the excitement of seeing each other for the first time at the altar, and we love the tradition of waiting. We were very happy with our decision.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We chose to use traditional songs for the ceremony: the bridal party walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” and I entered to “Here Comes the Bride.” For the first dance, Gabe and I danced to “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran, which has been our song since it came out. My dad and I danced to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. This was special for us because Gabe and I are moving to Hawaii at the end of August, since he is being transferred to an Air Force base in Honolulu.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My dad lent me a blue diamond ring that is a family heirloom, and I wore my sister’s veil. My dress and shoes were new.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We made many decisions together and compromised to make sure we were both happy with each aspect of the wedding. It is through this shared decision-making and communication that a strong marriage is built.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We shared some rental items with the wedding that was held the night before.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Gabe said his most memorable moment was seeing me walk down the aisle. I would have to say my most memorable moment was our first dance, and walking down the aisle and seeing Gabe with tears in his eyes. It was also so much fun getting ready with my beautiful bridesmaids in the gorgeous house.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are moving to Hawaii and are hoping to have many adventures there!

Photographer: Kelly Dillon / Videographer: George Street Photo / Planner: Cory Winn Lambert / Venue: The Governor Thomas Bennett House / Florist: Branch Design Studio / Cake Baker: Artistic Cakes by Linda / Caterer: Hamby Catering / Rentals: EventHaus Rentals / Lighting: Thomas Smith / DJ: Epic Charleston / Bride’s Gown: Justin Alexander / Menswear and Bride’s Jewelry: Ralph Lauren / Hair and Makeup: Lashes and Lace / Bride’s Shoes: Betsy Johnson / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Mori Lee

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Charleston Wedding Videographer reply

    Absolutely gorgeous! The Thomas Bennett House is an amazing venue!

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For these two Southern California residents, the Greenfield Plantation provided the perfect “something different” that they were looking for! With the help of Donny’s sweet mama (a South Carolina native), Kirsten and Donny introduced their SoCal friends and family to the deep South, and of course, now they can’t wait to go back! They set out to create an elegant, formal, outdoor plantation wedding, complete with a Lowcountry feel, and boy, did they hit the nail on the head! If you aren’t already smitten with these two thanks to their lovely photos by Ray Kang, this peek into their vows is sure to do the trick: Donny said, “I wish I could turn back the clock. I’d find you sooner so I could love you longer.” Swoon!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I work for a marketing agency, and one of my clients at the time (Casablanca Bridal) was opening their flagship store in Newport Beach around the same time I got engaged. They were so happy for me and wanted me to come in to try on dresses. Since I had never done that before, I didn’t expect to find “the one” that day, but sure enough, I did. The designer and owner of the company was there and she was amazing. She customized my dress to be exactly what I wanted, and it was perfect!

From Donny: Daytona Beach, Florida always had a piece of my heart, growing up in the motorcycle racing world. I had always followed Bike Week as a kid, and when I got the green light to start heading to the event at the young age of 21, I was ecstatic! While traveling to Daytona with some of my best friends, we came across this spunky 19-year-old local named Kirsten. Throughout the week of events, we all had an amazing time getting the run of the town from her. On the last night, Kirsten took a pair of my Oakley frog skins and failed to return them to me. Unfortunately, all great Daytona trips must come to an end, but as I flew back to So Cal, I knew I had an “in” with Kirsten to retrieve my glasses. Within the next few weeks, through my smooth talking over the phone and Skype, I somehow convinced her to fly out to California and head straight from the airport to Mammoth Mountain for an amazing snowboarding adventure. The future was ever so bright and we were full steam ahead, but the only thing holding us back was 2,500 miles of the United States between us. Ten months after meeting, Kirsten packed her car onto a transport currier and got on the plane to become an official West Coast resident.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We live in Southern California, which is beautiful, but we wanted something different. Since Donny’s mom lives in South Carolina and we visit her often, we knew how beautiful it was there, and after some research, I came across Greenfield Plantation. The website took my breath away, and when Pati (Donny’s mom) went to visit, we knew it was the place. We never even saw the venue until the rehearsal, but it was everything we expected and more. It was also nice to get our So Cal friends and family to the South–most of our friends had never been, but now, they can’t wait to go back!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we both wrote our own vows. Donny went first, and his favorite line of his vows was, “2,506 miles couldn’t keep us apart. I wish I could turn back the clock. I’d find you sooner so I could love you longer.” My favorite verse from my vows was, “As we say I do to each other, I want us to keep a few things in mind for the future, and they are this: let’s keep each other laughing for as long as we live. Let’s stand together hand in hand until we’re so old that we either can’t stand or can’t hold hands. Let’s overwhelm each other with love, as often as we can, for the rest of our days. And let’s be the best US that we can be until our very last breath.”

As Donny and I planned for our special day, it was always a somber thought that I would be walking myself down the aisle. My dad passed away a few years ago, and I didn’t have another relative close enough to walk with me. A few days before the wedding, we decided that Donny, the new man in my life, would walk me down the aisle. It was an incredible moment for him to come and get me–a man who has been by my side in good times and bad, who loves me unconditionally, and who is now my husband.

My mother-in-law, Pati Heinzmann, and our decorator, Holly Cox of I Do Vintage Weddings, set out to create an elegant, formal, outdoor plantation wedding, complete with a Lowcountry feel characteristic of South Carolina. They accomplished this with antique crystal chandeliers hanging from the branches of the Spanish moss-covered oaks, antique black shutter doors reclaimed from a local church, a bar made of authentic Kentucky whiskey barrels, and a signature drink called “Southern Charm,” served in mason jars.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? My mother-in-law was absolutely incredible. She has never done wedding planning for a living, but she planned ours like it was nobody’s business. Our dream day would not have happened without her and I will be forever grateful for all the time she spent on it and everything she did for us.

Tell us all about the proposal! Donny and I travel with his family for Christmas each year, and the year that we got engaged (2013) was no different–we had planned a trip to London and Paris with everyone. As a little girl I had always dreamed of visiting Paris, so we made plans to go there after spending most of our trip in London. On our last day in Paris, Donny decided he was going to take me on a bike ride through Paris and then to the Eiffel Tower, but the bike rental machine wasn’t accepting our credit cards. Donny became quite the stress case and started getting antsy, so he grabbed us a cab to a little spot overlooking the Eiffel Tower. It was the first time I was able to actually look at its beauty, so I, of course, started taking pictures of it, when Donny told me to “relax” and just take it all in. I turned to give him a piece of my mind for being such a stress case that day, and I found him on one knee with a magnificent ring in his hands, professing his love for me and telling me he couldn’t live without me. Best moment of my life. He had hired a photographer in Paris to capture the whole thing!
When did y’all get married? October 11, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our best friend, a groomsman in our wedding, passed away in a tragic plane accident a few months before our wedding. His wife is my best friend and was my matron of honor, and we decided to have his dad marry us. He went through three months of classes and training through his church to become an ordained minister for us. It was so nice to have him take part in our wedding. One of his readings was 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our first dance was to “Marry Me” by Train. We also did a special song in memory of our friend Jacob Griffiths (the one who had passed in the plane accident), where we hugged and danced and cried with Amanda (his wife), his family, and our friends to “Angel” by Jack Johnson.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Never, ever forget what the day is about. Luckily, we had Donny’s mom to help us every step of the way (and take on the majority of the stress), so we didn’t have to deal with a lot of the struggles other couples have had to deal with, but I will say, I understand how easy it can be to lose sight of what’s important.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We both really want a family, so we are looking forward to that next chapter!

Photographer: Ray Kang Photography / Videographer: Hart to Heart / Venue: Greenfield Plantation / Florist: Barry West of Blossom Events / Cake Baker: Incredible Edible Cakes / Caterer: Inlet Affairs Catering / Rentals: American Tent Rentals / Special Details: Holly Cox of I Do Vintage Weddings / Paper Products: Print Experience / Bride’s Gown: Casablanca Bridal / Hair Stylist: Shelby Johnston of Kim Vo Salon / Bride’s Shoes: “Pigalles” by Christian Louboutin / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “868552” by Ralph Lauren / Menswear: Calvin Klein

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Anna reply

    Thanks for the post! So many unique ideas.
    Love vintage cabinet with flower centerpieces.

  2. avatar Classic Wedding Invitations reply

    Gorgeous ceremony!

  3. avatar Greenfield Plantation Wedding, South Carolina reply

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  4. avatar Greenfield Plantation Wedding, South Carolina by Ray Kang reply

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  5. avatar R Read reply

    Your wedding was beautiful! Your vows and the rest of your story made me cry. So lovely! Congratulations to you both!

  6. avatar Geoff Schatzel reply

    Looks like an incredible place. Love the sparkler send off too. Makes for a great ending.

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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