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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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