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Every single day at Southern Weddings, the stories of couples who have fallen in love, overcome obstacles, and committed their lives to each other, and the images of the day they became husband and wife, move us. We are infinitely thankful for the couples who share with us, and the talented photographers who make us feel as though we were right there, witnessing these incredibly significant moments in a couple’s story–the moments that they will remember forever. Callie and Jamie’s wedding is extra special to me, because not only do I get to soak in their love and joy alongside y’all in V7 and in today’s post, I also got to witness it firsthand as a guest. And I promise you, their beautiful celebration at RiverOaks Charleston was every bit as magical and meaningful as it looks in these breathtaking images by Nancy Ray, who served as both photographer and bridesmaid on this very special day!

Jamie and I decided immediately that we wanted to plan more for our marriage than for our wedding. The main design inspiration for our wedding came from our prayer for our marriage: that The Lord would cultivate in us a marriage as strong as the oaks and as deep and wide as the sea. We wanted to create a meaningful event that pointed to the Lord and reflected who we are as a couple. We tried to make every decision with deep meaning, as this day was one that we had been looking forward to for so long, and one that we will share with our families for the rest of our lives.

All the jewelry that I wore were family heirlooms: my mother’s emerald and diamond earrings gifted to her on her wedding day from her mother-in-law (something borrowed), my great-grandmother’s diamond bracelet (something old), my great-grandmother’s ring and great-grandmother’s pin on my bouquet (something blue). My something new was my wedding dress and shoes. My mom sewed my great-grandmother’s ring into the inside back of my dress with blue thread, and I also carried my great-grandmother’s sweet pansy handkerchief down the aisle. Selecting gifts for my family as a thank you was an important detail for me, as I wanted to pick out meaningful gifts that would not only remind them of our wedding day, but would stay with them for a lifetime. A gold engraved locket for my mom, a gold engraved pocket watch for my dad, and shotgun shell cufflinks for my brother, along with handwritten letters seemed to be the perfect fit.

What was the weather like on your wedding day? By the Lord’s blessing, it could not have been any more perfect. We had asked so many people to pray for the weather, since everything would be taking place outside and we didn’t really have a back-up plan. I cried multiple times that day, just thinking about how those prayers were answered, and through the weather, the Lord was blessing our marriage. It was sunny, warm, and perfectly breezy.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? Although I had no idea what style I wanted, I knew that I wanted my dress to be timeless and elegant with a small twist. After trying on some dresses in Raleigh, my mom and I drove to Nitsa’s in Winston-Salem. After the fourth dress, I kept asking if I could put on the third dress again. Once I had it on, I didn’t want to take it off. After a few tears from both my mom and me, my mom asked me to list everything that I loved about this dress: the combination of soft lace with tulle, the unique peplum, and the delicate sweetheart neckline. She then looked at me and said “It’s perfect. If you love it, then you don’t need anyone else’s opinion.” In that moment, I promised her what she had been asking me to do, which was not to show anyone my dress except her, my brother, and my dad. It’s a bride’s dream to show off her dress to all of her family and bridesmaids, but this idea that I didn’t like at the time, but agreed to anyways to please my mom, ended up being one of the greatest decisions in my wedding planning process. My closest family, friends, and guests saw me in my wedding dress for the first time as I was walking down the aisle to my groom.

Tell us about your wedding ceremony. Our whole ceremony was thoughtfully planned out and we wanted it to move slowly, allowing us to take in each precious moment. We spent a lot of time with our officiant planning our ceremony and making sure that our main focus was not on us, but on Jesus. Jamie and I chose to have some of our close friends read two pieces of scripture in our wedding: Colossians 3:12-17 and Hosea 2:19-20. We felt these two verses truly captured the way that Jesus has loved us and the way that we hope to love each other: with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We immediately knew that we wanted our best friend, Courtney Lancaster, to marry us. It was important to us to have someone marry us who truly knew us, separately and together, ugly and pretty, and who could stand up confidently share with our guests what we believed and why we had been called into marriage. Courtney has been my best friend since I was in sixth grade. She was my youth minister, Young Life leader, led Young Life with Jamie, and is the reason that I know Jesus the way I do today.

Since I had a very long aisle, it was important to me that my mom be able to see me walking down the aisle with my dad, so our officiant also asked our guests to wait for my mom to stand before they did. This was such a sweet moment not only for my mom, but also for me when we locked eyes and she watched my dad walk me down the aisle.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We wrote our own vows together, promising each other the same lines with a tiny bit of variation. My favorite lines were “By God’s grace, I will affirm and challenge you in becoming all that God has purposed you to be, and will serve Him together with you as one, giving Him the glory and honor.” In our ring vows, “I promise from this day forward, you will not walk alone. With these words, and with all my heart, I marry you and bind my life to yours.”

Our cocktail hour was held in the front of the RiverOaks house while their team transformed the backyard from the ceremony to the reception. Our passed hors d’oeuvres included Southern treats such as Lowcountry fried green tomatoes topped with pimento cheese, applewood smoked bacon-wrapped shrimp, and smoked maple leaf duck breast. We also served two signature cocktails: a Gulf oyster shooter and Charleston Cosmopolitan.

Jamie and I chose to do a private dinner on the dock so that we could enjoy our delicious meal together and alone before the party began. The view was incredible, and it was one of our favorite moments of the day. When planning our wedding, Jamie and I wanted to be intentional with planning specific times where we could be still with each other and take in all of the moments of our day. We did this at our private dinner, as well as during the communion in our ceremony and at the end of the night when we rode away on the boat before driving to our hotel. After we were finished eating, we joined our family and bridal party at the head table for the remainder of the meal.

Tell us about a way or ways you saved money or cut costs while planning. Flowers for sure! We repurposed the bridesmaids’ bouquets and ceremony florals as centerpieces at the reception and chose to decorate the tables with broken oyster shells instead of large floral arrangements. Because we decided to have our guests seated at long rectangle tables, it was important to us to have low and clean table decorations, in hopes that our guests would be able to have conversation instead of being blocked and distracted with large floral arrangements.

As a wedding photographer, one of my favorite moments of a wedding is the bride and groom’s exit, so I knew that I wanted to make mine extra special! Our exit started at the reception with the last song on the dance floor. We asked the band to play “Last Dance” by Donna Summer and had gold and white confetti shot over the dance floor. I then went and changed into a sparkly getaway dress and we walked through one very long and exciting line of sparklers onto the dock. Jamie and I climbed up in the tuna tower and exited on a beautiful sport fisherman boat. As we drove away, fireworks were shot in the sky!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your love story! Although Jamie and I went to high school together, we were not close friends, but we did have many mutual friends including my best friend, Mary Courtney. It wasn’t until the summer after my senior year (Jamie’s freshman year of college) that we started to spend more time together. When the summer had ended and it was time for me to go to the University of South Carolina for my freshman year of college, Jamie admitted to me that he liked me and wanted to know if we could continue to talk while I was gone. I said yes, and we talked almost every day, continuing to get to know each other. Soon enough, we started dating. After a year at the University of South Carolina, I felt that the Lord was calling me back to Raleigh, so I transferred to NC State. Jamie and I continued to grow closer to the Lord and each other, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! After I got off work on Sunday, August 11, 2013, Jamie took me on a surprise date to the NC State Arboretum. We had been there a couple of times together and had been recently talking about going again, so I didn’t think anything of it. As we walked through the gardens, Jamie seemed a little rushed, but he’s normally always on a mission (much like me), so I politely asked him to slow down and walk with me. We walked aimlessly (or what I thought was aimlessly) through the gardens and stopped in the rose garden. He walked us over to “the spot,” turned me around with the biggest smile on his face, and said “Callie.” Immediately, I knew what was happening and began sobbing, saying “Is this really it?” Jamie and I had been dating for four years and had never said the words “I love you” (instead, we would say “I like you”), so I knew this moment was going to be one that I would remember forever. After saying many sweet words and telling me that he loved me and has loved me for a long time, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said YES! Jamie then told me that there was another surprise, and I turned around to see Nancy and Will Ray jump out of the bushes with their cameras. After many hugs and more tears, they took us around the garden to do a mini session as an engaged couple. It was probably one of the hottest days of the summer, but we didn’t care, because we were finally engaged! After we left the Arboretum, Jamie told me we were “going to get dinner,” but then, he took me back to my parents’ house, where all of our closest friends and family were, to celebrate!
When did y’all get married? May 3, 2014
Tell us all the basics of your wedding! Why did you choose these things? Did any of these details hold special meaning for you as a couple? Since I am a wedding photographer in Raleigh, NC, I am very familiar with all of the wedding venues and have worked many of them multiple times. I wanted to get married somewhere that I didn’t consider “my office” and that would be particularly special to us. I grew up and lived in Charleston for a brief time, and the water and beach have always been a special place to both Jamie and me, so when I texted him one day telling him “It would be a dream to be married in Charleston” and he responded with “I will marry you anywhere,” I knew we could make it happen. We began researching wedding venues in Charleston and through a friend’s recommendation, we found RiverOaks Charleston. From their website, it perfectly matched the vision in our minds–beautiful mossy oaks, the river, outdoor space, and a design process that allowed us to create something from scratch. It was the only venue I looked at, but I knew that it was where I wanted to marry Jamie. We wanted to cultivate real relationships with the people that we would be working so closely with on our most important day, and with Marianne and her team at RiverOaks, we had just that.
How many friends, family, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about marriage? Jamie and I will be living in Raleigh with our new silver lab puppy in our newly renovated home and continuing our dream jobs! Since we got engaged, Jamie and I have been most excited about living together, doing life together, reading the bible and praying together, and not having to part ways at night. Now that we are married, these are our favorite things about marriage! We are truly a team and each other’s biggest support!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Remember that your marriage is more important than your wedding. Make all of your wedding decisions together from deep within your heart. All of our wedding details and plans were thought through with deep meaning, which we believe made our event as special as it was. Lastly, journal throughout your engagement. I decided to keep a journal where I would write to Jamie periodically telling him how I was feeling and why I want to marry him. After nine months of filling that journal, I gifted it to him on our wedding day. It fills my heart with great joy when I come into the kitchen and see Jamie sitting at our kitchen island, reading his Bible and my journal early in the morning.

Photographer: Nancy Ray Photography / Videographer: Heart Stone Films / Venue, Planning, and Design: River Oaks Charleston / Design and Paper Goods: Rebecca Rose Creative / Florist: River Oaks Charleston and Deborah Gibson Design / Caterer: Cru Catering / Tent: Sperry Tents / Bar Service: Squeeze on Site / Wedding Cake Baker: Twenty-Six Divine / Bride’s Gown: “Confection” by Monique Lhuillier / Bridal Salon and Veil: Nitsa’s / Bride’s Shoes: Joie / Bride’s Bouquet Ribbons: Froufrou Chic / Bride’s Getaway Dress: French Connection / Bridesmaid Dresses: “Nadia” in Peacock Silk Chiffon by J. Crew / Hair Stylist: Hilary Mansell of Visage Salon / Makeup Artist: Elina Mille of Bellelina / Groom’s Tuxedo: Jos A. Bank / Groom’s Marlin Cufflinks: GameKeepersGifts / Groomsmen Suspenders: Hold Up Suspender Company / Suspender Monogramming: Monograms Inc. / Shotgun Shell Cufflinks: OruAka / Vintage Tabletop Rentals: Polished / Standard Rentals: Eventworks / Lounge Seating: Out of Hand Rentals / Specialty Linens: La Tavola / Calligraphy: Jill Velez Calligraphy / Rock Candy: / Transportation: Lowcountry Valet / Reception Band: Atlanta Pleasure Band / Ceremony Painter: Meredith Haake / Boat Transportation: Full Circle

Nancy Ray Photography, Heart Stone Films, Rebecca Rose Events, and RiverOaks Charleston are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Lacoya @ Hello Love Events reply

    Oh. My. Word – this is just precious! I love all of the heartfelt details like the handwritten vows, the journal, the fireworks (who doesn’t want fireworks?!). I especially love how they were bold about letting their guests know that their wedding day and, ultimately, marriage would be rooted in the spirit of the Lord. God bless you, both. Lovely wedding! XO

  2. avatar Classic Wedding Invitations reply

    Such a gorgeous wedding!

  3. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

    Callie and Jamie’s day is my favorite wedding that I have ever seen. I am inspired by the way that they put the focus on Jesus, glorifying Him in all of it. Their intentionality in soaking up the day and being present is so wise, too. From the broken oyster shells to the beautiful bouquets, monogrammed suspenders, and peacock J. Crew gowns, I am smitten with every detail and am so glad y’all featured them!

  4. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze #174 – Floridian Weddings reply

    […] stealing this couple's idea of a private dockside dinner before the reception, plus their modern black, white and teal stationery bits are gorg, […]

  5. avatar Inspiration No. 4 (Shades of Green) reply

    […] Sources from Left to Right: Getaway Car, Emerald Bridesmaids, Classic Green Tie, Magnolia Escort Cards, Candlelight Fireplace, Mint Juleps, Shaded Bridesmaids, […]

  6. avatar Callie’s Advice: Getting Your Wedding Published | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] you so much for featuring our wedding and telling our love story. Be sure to see our blog feature here and the magazine […]

  7. avatar Tatyana Lee reply

    Love the color of the bridesmaids dresses!

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AnnaKathryn (even her double name is Southern!) + Ryan’s big day was filled with intentional details and sweet surprises, but the thing that stood out most to their fabulous planner from RiverOaks was the number of loving family hands that went into this wedding: “there was a uniqueness to the willingness of all involved in the planning and execution of this wedding in that so many wanted to serve – in a real humble and sincere manner.” Wow, now that is some Sweet Tea Society goodness! Keep a lookout for thoughts from AnnaKathryn, her Momma, and the gals of RiverOaks throughout this post — they all wanted to chime in!

Now, as a big fan of horse and buggies (BDK and I rode off in a carriage from our own wedding!) I loved that the bride and her father’s carriage entrance was a complete surprise to everyone, setting the tone for an evening where details unfolded slowly and with purpose.

Big thank yous to Hunter McRae for capturing all the loveliness of AnnaKathryn + Ryan’s celebration!

From the RiverOaks ladies: We used orchids, sweet peas, parrot tulips, hellebores, garden roses, peonies, lilac, ranunculus, and various gathered foliage such as ferns, pods, and hostas to make the floral elements unique to this day. The bride’s bouquet was adored with a simple pearl cross fashioned from the corsage pins on the stemmed handle. The bride and her mom told us they wanted a gathered look, as though objects were taken from a home to prepare for a wedding. The bride’s mother asked that the elements be simplistic, strong, and elegant, like her daughter. So, the twenty-plus guest tables were topped with a collection of ceramic urns with herbs, lanterns on rye grass, bouquets on tree stumps, glass cloche terrariums, bundled candles, and handled pitchers with florals. The cocktail area had grapevine and moss balls topped with orchids hanging from the trees.

From AnnaKathryn’s mama: AnnaKathryn hadn’t spent time dreaming and thinking about her wedding, so when the time came she had no clue about wedding gowns and styles. Shopping was a precious time with her maid of honor, a sweet friend of 20 years, and her mom. Knowing that her wedding would be outside, she wanted a gown that moved with her. We were overjoyed when she was confident she found her dress! Her maid of honor tried on a few bridesmaid dresses, too, and AnnaKathryn surprised us again when she decided on her bridesmaids’ dresses and the colors all during our first visit to a bridal shop. Typically, AnnaKathryn labors over decisions, but with the wedding, she seemed to have the mindset that things would be beautiful, which carried her through planning with joy and ease, never having the weight of the need for things to be perfect.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My father is a pastor in Mount Pleasant, and it was so special to have him marry us.  He spoke his homily from Isaiah 61:3, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” This is a verse he and my mother have prayed for their children and generations to come since their own marriage.
From the RiverOaks ladies: The brother of the bride opened the wedding with the reading of Psalm 103 by standing in the aisle amid all the guests. The bride and groom asked everyone sharing the joyful occasion with them to please pray the words of Romans 15:5-6 for them, as they desire their marriage to be founded upon the Gospel of Christ and anchored in the Word of God.

From the RiverOaks ladies The ceremony, although outdoors, was truly set in a sanctuary. The contemporary worship leader at the bride’s church thoughtfully prepared music of praise to set the tone, which was important to this couple and their families as they entered into a Biblical marriage. Hymns such as “Come thou Fount of Every Blessing” and “How Firm a Foundation” were played throughout the ceremony and during communion (using the groom’s parents’ communion cups). The horse-drawn carriage bridal entry arrived to the powerful tune of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” Lastly, it was fitting for the wedding guests to sing “And Can It Be” together, as everyone who knows the bride’s father knows it’s his favorite hymn.

From the RiverOaks ladies: The three flower girls continued their role as sign bearers throughout the wedding. In order to transition the guests in a delightful way, the girls took turns frolicking through the reception with beribboned pennants such as “cut the cake,” “first dance,” “sweet treats,” and “goodnight.” Additionally, as wedding planners we like to build in something special for the groom that is all about him. The traditional military Sword Arch (the groom graduated from The Citadel) was brought to RiverOaks as the couple departed through sparklers. The bride also handed off her bouquet to the groom to carry while she “walked the line” with a football in honor of her linebacker!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Entering by horse-drawn carriage with my dad to Highland Cathedral on the bagpipes and seeing Ryan at the altar. Also, before cutting the cake, Ryan thanked our guests for coming, and then really blessed me publicly with a short toast.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Planning a wedding, especially in Charleston, can be overwhelming.  Find a good wedding planner and communicate your desires, expectations, and limitations.  Planning the details can be super fun, but don’t let the small things steal the joy of the process.  At the end of the day, you will still be married to your love!

Oh my, these desserts sound delicious! From the RiverOaks ladies: Dessert was one of the best toasted coconut cakes we have ever tasted! It was made with gluten-free love for the bride. A church member made 25 additional coconut cakes from the bride’s favorite recipe that were the talk of town. As if that weren’t enough, Chef Bob prepared berry cobblers for each family style table as well, topped by table service al la mode! The mother of the bride also made mini ice cream sandwiches with homemade gluten-free gingersnaps filled with various coconut milk ice cream flavors to pass as a late night snack on the dance floor.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration?  What was Southern about your wedding? Shag dancing under the lighted live oaks.  We also surprised Ryan with a Citadel-style sword arch as we headed for our get-away boat.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? It was a challenge to balance the wedding planning with finishing my last semester of nursing school.  I passed my boards the week before the wedding.  My mom and the RiverOaks team were incredible and picked up my slack in the planning process!

From the RiverOaks ladies: The outdoorsy Mr. and Mrs. who love boating the low country departed by boat with Thai lanterns overhead provided by the grandfather of the bride who resides in Thailand and couldn’t make the wedding. After some reflective time alone on the river and the dispersal of the guests, the couple returned quietly to their venue and departed by limousine to historic downtown Charleston for a “mini-moon” before their trip to Europe a few months later.

How did the two of you meet?  Tell us your story. Mutual friends introduced us, but we really hit it off when Ryan asked me and two friends on a triple-date with his brother and a football teammate from the Citadel.  The date consisted of a 3-on-3 basketball tournament which the girls won! We had so much fun getting to know each other during dinner at Poe’s Tavern afterward.  A few weeks later, Ryan took me to a show at the Sottile Theater, which sealed the deal.
Describe the proposal. Right at the beginning of our relationship, Ryan told two of his best friends that I would be his wife.  It took about 7 months, but he proposed to me at the scenic grounds of Alhambra Hall in the Old Village of Mt. Pleasant on September 17, the day before my birthday.  Unbeknownst to me, he planned a birthday party for me that same night.  When our friends and family yelled “surprise,” we surprised them right back with a ring on my finger!
In what month did you get married? May 2012
How many guests attended your wedding? 220, with a large wedding party!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Ryan did not know that I would be entering by horse-drawn carriage with my father.  Because we had this special entrance planned, we did not do a “first look.”  It was a special moment when we made eye contact that we will not soon forget.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: We served peach and blueberry cobbler for dessert, but our far and away favorite was the coconut wedding cake.  I only wish that some had made it into our limo that night!
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? We are so happy we chose to go with Hunter McRae; she captured the beauty of the day and was so sweet and helpful during the whole process.  It was a last-minute decision by my mom, though, to have Leslie Buhler do videography.  We are so happy she did.  The compilations she put together for us really take us back to that day.
What’s next for you as a couple?  What are you looking forward to in the future? I am back in school at MUSC to be a nurse practitioner and Ryan is working as an engineer.  We love to explore the natural beauty of Charleston and spend time with other newlyweds.

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Melissa Tuck reply

    Love the ring shot (succulents yes!) and the cake shot. And that first photo is an awesome journalistic shot – love all the action going on and it’s composed spot on! Such a lovely wedding and beautifully captured!

  2. avatar Lauren reply

    This wedding is so thoughtful and gorgeous. I love it!

  3. avatar Stephen reply


  4. avatar Gorgeous Charleston Wedding | Wedding Resource reply

    […] If you love beautiful weddings, you will adore this Charleston, SC gem full of heartfelt details. The bride and her father entered the ceremony in a horse-drawn carriage and then her father, a pastor, also performed the marriage ceremony. A special gluten-free toasted coconut cake was on the menu, as were meaningful hymns, a Citadel sword arch, and a gorgeous pair of wreaths on a cross at the outdoor altar. Enjoy all the Southern wedding goodness over at Southern Weddings. […]

  5. avatar Boho Pins: Here Comes The Bride – Boho Weddings™ reply

    […] sign (Photographer Black Frame Photography) / heart chalkboard (photographer Jonny Draper) / 3 bridesmaids (Photographer Hunter McRae) / round chalkboard (photographer Eon […]

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