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When it comes to the many things that make a wedding Southern, the most obvious one is the geographical location, of course! Kara and Philip had that in the bag when they chose to tie the knot at Colleton River Plantation on Hilton Head Island. Though a Pennsylvania native, Kara grew up traveling to her family’s vacation home on the island, so to her, it is a place “that signifies family, joy, memories, and endless beauty.” Kara and Philip worked with their planner, Embellished Events, to create an open-air party where no walls could block the beautiful views. I’m sure this day began a whole new chapter of joyful memories on Hilton Head for this sweet couple!

We’re sure happy Tim Will was there to capture this lovely day!

Describe your wedding flowers. My flowers were untamed and gorgeous! They had an English garden feel, and were full of peaches, sages, and pinks, grounded in soft whites and finished with ribbon I found during my travels to India. The ribbons were used in all the bouquets, garlands, and table arrangements. Branches on Hilton Head Island captured my vision so beautifully.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not; we chose to say the traditional vows instead. We felt these timeless words captured all we wanted to say.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had beautiful readings from the Bible. I particularly loved the Gospel reading from Mark, that included the verse, “They are no longer two but one flesh, therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Wow, those words have gravity!

On our wedding day, we surprised our guests with the sounds of local Gullah singers harmonizing with joy to “Oh Happy Day” as we departed the church. We also hand-dipped oyster shells in gold and embellished each with a pearl for our escort cards. Guests could take these home as a way to remember the place and the day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I grew up traveling to my family’s vacation home on Hilton Head Island, so it has always been a place that signifies family, joy, memories, and endless beauty to me.

We chose to avoid the cost of a tent, and with the suggestion of my planner, Jennifer Leiti, we chose to have an open-air party under café lighting. We were so happy we did because the environment was the reason I picked this location. There were no walls to block the beautiful, expansive views of the sunset over the river. Thankfully, despite some early morning rain, we were blessed with good weather that day.

My wedding cake was a simple, white, tiered cake with ruffled fondant and some pretty flowers in the colors of my bouquet placed up each tier. The best part was really what was inside–it was decadent! Each layer had a different filling. Minette Rushing from Savannah Custom Cakes is a baking genius!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in college. We lived in the same dorm, and then in the same apartment building. Two years after college, only after a big separation, did we realize our friendship was actually love. This has been true ever since and will be for the rest of our lives!
Tell us all about the proposal! We first talked about getting married around a year or so ago while on a trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It was the first time Phil had ever been there, and I was overjoyed to be talking about our future marriage in this very special place. However, it was not until a very cold visit to Cape May, New Jersey that Phil decided to sneak a ring into my purse to be found at any time. We were sitting in a crowded bar and I was fishing around in my bag for something or other when I felt a little box…I think I knew what it was right away, and quickly looked up at Phil’s smiling face. I told him I wanted to move to our room for some privacy, where, conveniently, there was a bottle of champagne awaiting our arrival. Phil got down on one knee as I had always envisioned and the rest is history.
When did y’all get married? May 30, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my dress in a shop called Elizabeth Johns Ardmore, Pennsylvania, right outside of my home city of Philadelphia. The dress was designed by Lela Rose and I felt it reflected me and my style, and it would complement the beautiful surroundings and climate of my Southern wedding.
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not. Seeing my soon-to-be spouse for the first time at the end of the aisle is a beautiful tradition we wanted to experience.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My shoes had blue soles, I wore a delicate strand of pearls that were given to me as a baby, I borrowed my sister’s wedding garter, and everything else was new.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Communicate with each other early and often, and don’t lose sight of what is important.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We would love to move to a new home, plant some deeper roots there, and start a family.

Photographer: Tim Willoughby | Videographer: Hart to Heart | Planner: Embellished Events | Ceremony Venue: St. Gregory the Great | Reception Venue and Catering: Colleton River Plantation | Florist: Branches | Cake Baker: Savannah Custom Cakes | Rentals: Event Haus | Band: Fantastic Voyage Band | Gospel Choir: Voices of El Shaddai Ensemble | Bride’s Gown: Lela Rose | Hair and Makeup: Christine Stephens | Bride’s Shoes: Betsey Johnson | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew

marissa Written with love by Marissa

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Natalia + Levi’s wedding was a beauty despite the couple’s not-so-extravagant budget. It’s really an inspiration to many of us (myself and Emily included!) who love shopping flea markets for great surprises. Many of our favorite details were items that Natalia and her mother found while scouring flea markets and antique stores. French doors that displayed table assignments were a steal for $20! Natalia’s mother saw an old house being torn down and paid someone to have the doors delivered to her house instead of being discarded. We love how Natalia + Levi paid homage to the South with their dessert fare. A cake buffet and a “white spot,” a Krispy Kreme donut with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle, paired with Coca-Cola filled tummies all night until the gorgeous sky lantern send off. It’s food that we won’t see anywhere in Paris, but honestly, who’s complaining? That’s why we love the South. Thanks again to Melissa Schollaert Photography for sharing!

Groom’s favorite detail of the wedding: (From the groom) I thought the old cotton warehouse where the reception was held was really cool. I loved seeing how all of the wedding décor complimented the original architecture. Oh, and Hairy Dawg was awesome. Like, REALLY awesome. Go Dawgs!
What was the biggest challenge you faced when planning your wedding? My mom likes to tell me that I have champagne taste and a beer budget. With our big ideas and strict budget, she and I were forced to get creative. We scoured antique markets and found beautiful things in unique places. For example, she saw a construction team tearing down an old home and offered a guy $20 to deliver the beautiful old French doors to my parents’ house. We used the doors at the wedding to display table assignments. It wasn’t always easy, but we had so much fun together on our adventures!
Did you try anything new or untraditional? My godfather, who is like my second father, walked me part way down the aisle and then handed me off to my dad. It was a surprise to me and really touched my heart. My florist and I devised a plan to surprise the mothers. She left two peonies detached from the rest of my bouquet. When I got to the end of the aisle, I was able to pause and present each mother with a peony and a hug before stepping forward into the altar area. We mixed up our bridal party and had both bridesmaids and groomsmen stand on both sides of the altar. I didn’t want it to feel like they were here for only the bride or the groom, but rather for us as a couple.
Describe your wedding cake: Classic City Confections baked the most delicious assortment of cakes! Levi and I cut into a two-tiered red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting in a rosette design. Other flavors included French vanilla with raspberry and pistachio, coconut with lemon curd, chocolate hazelnut with sea salt caramel icing, strawberries and cream, and a chocolate turtle groom’s cake baked by Levi’s sister. Guests also had the option to have Coca-Cola floats and Krispy Kreme donuts – our homage to Atlanta!
Tell us about your grand exit. Our exit was one of my absolute favorite details. Our guests gathered outside the barn and formed a circle around Levi and I and we all released sky lanterns. The view of the sky lanterns floating across the night sky was nothing short of magical!
What advice would you give to someone planning his or her wedding? Hire vendors that you trust implicitly. Working with people who you know will follow through will save you so much stress. Also, never forget that the process is supposed to be fun! If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right. Don’t let anyone tell you a wedding has to have or be anything. Want to wear a purple dress and serve cotton candy instead of wedding cake? Do it! A wedding, as traditional or untraditional as it may be, should always celebrate the couple.

Photographer: Melissa Schollaert Photography // Planner: bride, Epting Events // Designer: bride, Epting Events // Venue: Tucker Plantation // Florist: MG Floral // Wedding Cake Baker: Classic City Confections // Caterer: Epting Events // Bridesmaid Dresses: Paul & Joe Sister // Bride’s Dress: Casablanca // Hair Stylist: Scoobie West // Makeup Artist: Scoobie West // Bride’s Shoes: Max Studio // Bride’s Jewelry: earrings by Kenneth Jay Lane // Bride’s Veil or Hair Accessory: veil by Brenda’s Bridal Veils, hair flower by DK Designs // Bride’s Other Accessories: belt from Daniel Design // Groom’s Fashion: Indochino // Groomsmen Fashion: groomsmen’s own // Paper Goods: Red Table Stationary // Rentals: Epting Events // Linens: Epting Events and Cloth Connection // Table runners: screen printed by Satisfactory Print Shop // Reception Décor: cake mugs from Anthropologie, heart pine table tops from Epting Events // Lighting: monogrammed gobo from Epting Events and Live Event Solutions

Love this wedding? You might also like these Real Weddings:
Meredith + Blake (here and here)
Victoria + Michael (here and here)
Caroline + Tyler (here and here)

Melissa Schollaert is a member of our fabulous Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Laura reply

    I love absolutely everything about this wedding. From the cotton bouts to the sky lanterns to Krispy Kreme! Gorgeous, and so much inspiration for planning my own wedding.

  2. avatar Amy reply

    Absolutely beautiful wedding! I’m planning a southern destination wedding in Charleston, SC and I love every single detail! I hail from Colorado but I think I’m really a southern girl at heart. I am wondering what the source is for “The South” sign? That is a detail that I would love to incorporate into my own wedding if possible!

    • avatar Natalia reply

      Hey Amy! There are several online sellers, but this was the first website that came up. Hope this helps! :)

  3. avatar {chicago wedding photographer] Caroline Ghetes reply

    Wow! I love that table runner. And the bride’s hair is so beautiful! She has a stunning face!

  4. avatar Tim Duncan reply

    Beautiful wedding! The last few photos are gorgeous!

  5. avatar Inspiration Board: Mirror Details | Going to the Chapel reply

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  6. avatar Floral Cotton reply

    SOOOO CUTE! Love the cotton place markers. We have cotton!

  7. avatar Wedding Sweets & Sips « thehighlifesuite reply

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  8. avatar Dorijean reply

    I absolutely love the personal touches. I am doing similar things and was wondering about the lanterns. I have always wanted to do it and thought my wedding would be perfect since we aren’t really doing a send off. So I was wondering if there was any laws you had to follow. Or if there were restrictions as per say a fire hazard or something? Thanks for the info and pictures.

  9. avatar Savannah Perkins reply

    Were the table numbers purchased or DIY?

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!

Reply to: