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One of our favorite pieces of wedding advice is to choose vendors based not only on how much you love their work, but also on how much you like them as people! Your photographer, planner, and a handful of other folks will be with you during some of the most important moments of your life, and if they feel more like friends than just people you hired, it will make your wedding that much sweeter. I can imagine that this was certainly the case for Jenny and Justin, who worked with some of the nicest people below the Mason-Dixon, including our friends and Blue Ribbon Vendors, Landon and Jordan of Landon Jacob Photography and the team at RiverOaks Charleston. With their help, Jenny and Justin took four short months to plan their beautiful South Carolina wedding, complete with nods to Justin’s Hawaiian heritage and a few delightful surprises for one another!

Describe your wedding flowers. Absolute perfection. I sent one photo to the RiverOaks team and the florist made arrangements that were even more beautiful than I had pictured. When I entered the bridal suite, I stared at the arrangements for at least five minutes…my breath was taken away. My bouquet was a light, cascading bouquet filled with a mixtures of peonies, roses, and other delicate-looking flowers. There was also a pop of anemones (white with navy center) to coordinate with the navy bridesmaid dresses.

In honor of Justin’s Hawaiian heritage, he had handcrafted leis delivered from Hawaii for the ceremony. Justin, his groomsmen, the ring bearers, and the flower girls wore the leis during the ceremony. He placed one around my neck after we said our vows, and he presented four very special women in his life with their own leis as well.

While spending Christmas at my parents’ house in Tennessee, we discussed potential songs for the ceremony. Justin played Highland Cathedral and told me a story about how much he loved that song. I thought it would be fun to surprise him, so with that in mind, I told him I didn’t like the sound of bagpipes, so we’d probably have to choose another song for the processional. We actually never discussed ceremony song selection after that day, so it was easy, with the help of my ingenious wedding planner, to surprise Justin with a bagpiper playing Highland Cathedral as I came down the aisle. This took some great skill from the RiverOaks team because the bagpiper had to warm up off of the premises, but be back at the venue on time. They handled it flawlessly!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Everything about the ceremony! How fast my heart was beating as I watched the wedding party walk down the aisle, then a feeling of total peace as I heard the bagpiper begin to play the processional, knowing it was my time to walk down the aisle towards the love of my life. Walking through 150 of our closest loved ones and seeing Justin’s face as I walked towards him. The most beautiful homily I’ve ever heard by our officiant, who even teared up while speaking. Our first communion together, intently saying our vows, awaiting that kiss, and being introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Justin Clark. A lot of brides say their wedding day was a blur for them, but our ceremony still remains so clear…everything after that was a blur though!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The venue’s backdrop of deep water and beautiful oak trees covered in Spanish moss is about as Southern as it gets. Our signature cocktail was Firefly and Lemonade with a mint garnish. Some of the menu items included chicken and waffles and fried green tomato and pimento cheese bites. We had a traditional joggling board. The groom and his groomsmen wore seersucker with palmetto bow ties. Instead of a traditional guest book, we had our guests sign Michael Trouche’s Charleston: Yesterday & Today so that we could have the perfect coffee table book to remember our day by.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? It was everything that I wanted and more–an outdoor venue on the water, under live oaks with Spanish moss, where I could have sparklers, wish lanterns, and a big exit by boat. It was one of the first places Justin took me when I moved to Charleston and I remember walking around and thinking “This would be the most perfect place to get married.” We are so grateful that RiverOaks was able to make that a reality for us, and they offered us even more than we imagined.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Justin and I met while working at the opening of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in California. We went our separate ways, not knowing that a year later, we would begin to develop a wonderful friendship. We shared interests in music and snowboarding, and despite being 2,500 miles away from each other, we were able to make each other laugh every day. About six months later, we were finally able to spend time together in person, and the rest is history!! We dated long distance for almost two years.
Tell us all about the proposal! On Saturday, December 21, 2013, some mutual friends asked me to help with a youth group scavenger hunt around Charleston. A group of us would be blind-folded, allowing the kids to walk us around Waterfront Park underneath the Ravenel Bridge as part of a “trust and compassion” exercise. As I was on my way to the park, I messaged Justin, telling him that I was sad I was going to “our spot” without him. It was always the last place we would visit before I took Justin to the airport during our long distance relationship. The girls and I arrived and were told that the youth group would be there shortly, so we should go ahead and sit on the bench to be blind-folded. I sat on the end bench facing the water and my eyes were covered up with a scarf. Immediately, the other girls took for the bushes to hide and photograph the big moment. As I was sitting on the bench blind-folded, waiting for tons of yelling teens to run up and grab me, someone began to unfold the scarf around my eyes. It startled me because that wasn’t part of the plan. I looked up and Justin was standing in front of me. I was totally shocked because he wasn’t supposed to arrive in Charleston from California until the next day. He got down on one knee, and after a beautiful speech, he asked me to marry him. We had a wonderful dinner with some of our closest friends, celebrating the sweet news with them. The next day, we went to Biltmore in Asheville and spent Christmas with my family in Knoxville. It was the perfect proposal and celebration.
When did y’all get married? April 27, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 150
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Justin’s favorite cake is yellow with chocolate frosting, so as a surprise for him, I had the caterer do a yellow cake with chocolate filling, covered with white fondant. The cake topper was our new initials monogrammed in a gold script that I had ordered on Etsy.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We had a short engagement, allowing time for only what was necessary. I made a list of my non-negotiables and realized that if something didn’t make that list or fit into the budget, it was okay to live without.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Just breathe and remember what this ceremony represents. Spend just as much time preparing your hearts for the lifetime of marriage ahead of you as you do on the details of your wedding day.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are looking forward to finally being on the same side of the country!! We are currently living in California, where Justin’s job has taken him, and are excited to walk this path together as husband and wife.

Photographer: Landon Jacob Photography / Venue, Planning Styling: RiverOaks Charleston / Florals: Deborah Gibson Design / Catering and Cake: Michelle Sturgeon with LadyChef / Bar: Squeeze On Site / Rentals: Event Works, Polished, Event Kitchens, Event DRS / DJ: Beaman DJ Productions / Bride’s Gown: “7T9612” by David’s Bridal / Invitations: Brian Carroll with Marine Marketing and Programs / Makeup Artist: Micheala Murtaugh of Stella Nova / Bride’s Shoes: Blue by Betsey Johnson / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Maxi Convertible Dress” in Navy by Sakura / Men’s Attire: “Seersucker Suit” by Jos A. Bank / Bow Ties: Palmetto Moon

RiverOaks and Landon Jacob are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Marianne reply

    What a day to see a couple dating long distance…..bi-coastal no less …..become ONE. Charleston is so special to them and it was such a great reward to carry out their day at RiverOaks. The sentimental yet elegant touch of Hawaii was beautiful and heartfelt. Thank you Southern Weddings for sharing this labor of love day!

  2. avatar Cathy reply

    What an awesome story and beautiful wedding. Georgeous bride and venue.

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While our Real Wedding brides are absolutely gorgeous, these dapper gents aren’t ones to be outdone. When it comes to wedding wear this year, the boys were giving the girls a run for their money (well, not exactly a run, but maybe a little bit of a jog!). From classic white smoking jackets to a cardigans sans ties, these Southern gents know how to don attire with personalty and style!

Seersucker suit, bow tie, and orchid boutonniere | Claire + Matthew | Pure 7 Studios

Preppy tie and tan suit | Sara + TJ | Katelyn James

Classic black tuxedo | Emily + Tripper | Melissa Schollaert

Casual sweaters | Ana + Kent | Landon Jacob

Tan linen suit and seersucker bow tie | Angela + Tom | Riverland Studios

Mix and match gray suits | Natalie + Shobie | Cassidy Brooke

Embroidered collar | Jessica + Troy | Bamber Photography

Suit and bow tie | Erica + Danny | Megan Thiele

White dinner jacket and monogrammed suspenders | Claire + Michael | Watson-Studios

Smart navy suit | Sophie + Brian | Honey Heart Photography

Katelyn James, Melissa Schollaert, Landon Jacob, Bamber Photography, and Watson-Studios are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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Any man who takes cooking lessons before a first date to impress a girl with his culinary skills sounds like a keeper to me! Claire clearly thought the same thing about Matthew, and two years after their delicious first date, they began planning an intimate beach wedding. Rosemary Beach, Florida is a favorite destination for quite a few of the SW gals (Marissa even chose it for our Dream Southern Summer Wedding series), and I love the elegant spin Claire and Matthew put on their beach destination!

Thank you kindly to Pure 7 Studios for sharing Claire and Matthew’s lovely wedding day with us!

My mother, sister, grandmother, mother-in-law, and I spent a day going from one bridal shop to the next in Birmingham. We found a dress that we liked at every place, but I couldn’t pull the trigger. The last place on our list was the White Room in Cahaba Heights, AL. We found two dresses I liked, but I chose the more simple dress for our beach wedding. When I picked it, my grandmother burst into tears, saying it was the one she had wanted me to pick. We were all so happy!!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. I wanted to see Matt’s face for the first time when I walked down the aisle. However, since it was a beach wedding, we did spend the entire morning together, which was a nice way to stay calm before the wedding. It’s hard to be stressed or nervous when you are lounging on the beach!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? There was a full moon and a beautiful beach breeze blowing that night. We looked around at the reception and it sunk in that we had our family there helping us to celebrate our love for each other. We loved taking pictures on the beach after the ceremony–the setting sun on the beach was beautiful. Some of the people renting a bungalow near us sent me pictures they took of us that evening. One little girl even told her mom I looked like a princess. It was a magical night!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It’s so hard to choose! The menu provided by Townsend Catering for the reception was divine. Brian at Myrtie Blue created a perfect ambiance with flowers, candles and lighting, as well as an intimate seating arrangement. Music performed by acoustic guitarist, Kyle Lamonica, was wonderful. It really set the mood for the reception. Many beach tourists stood outside the garden reception on the cobble streets and sipped wine while listening to Kyle. Meanwhile, Jennifer Fischer from It’s A Shore Thing took care of all the details, so we didn’t have to worry about a thing!

The bride and bridesmaid bouquets were made of white cymbidium orchids and peonies, tied with white silk dupioni, created by Brian at Myrtie Blue. Flowers for the wedding and reception included centerpieces featuring white hydrangea, peonies and orchids with white knob glass and mercury glass, A backdrop for the Town Hall was made of fig twigs with lights and white hydrangea. It was so unique and dramatic.

Our first dance was to “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel, played and sang by Kyle LaMonica, an acoustic guitarist who played at our reception. I danced with my dad to “Stand By Me” by Ben King, which is our favorite song. Matt and his mom danced to “Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had a three-tiered wedding cake covered in roses made of icing. It featured French vanilla fondant with alternating layers of strawberry cream and white chocolate. It was a work of art! It was so beautiful and tasted wonderful.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We were both attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham to get our undergraduate degrees. I was studying mechanical engineering and Matt was a pre-med student. We had a mutual friend who was majoring in mechanical engineering and also going to med school. I used to go to our friend’s dorm before class to study, and Matt would be there hanging out with him and his roommates. For our first date, Matt made a special dinner for me: chicken in a wine sauce. He got his uncle to give him cooking lessons beforehand, just so he could impress me, and it definitely worked! We dated for two years before becoming engaged.
Tell us all about the proposal! Matt knew I wanted a more intimate proposal, rather than a public one. When I woke up one morning and walked upstairs for breakfast, I found Matt on his knee at the top of the staircase with the engagement ring. I’m sure he said something sweet, but in all honesty, I was crying so much from excitement, I have no idea what it was!
When did y’all get married? June 2, 2012
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 24
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We took bits and piece from different vows we had found on the internet, picking our favorite lines from each. My favorite line was simply, “Matt, I love you. You are my best friend.” Very simple, but the complete truth.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We did not have any readings at the wedding. We were supposed to have one, but between the heat and my fitted dress, I was feeling lightheaded, so I asked the minister to speed the ceremony up.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Planning a destination wedding is particularly difficult, because you are unfamiliar with local vendors. We hired wedding planners-Jennifer Warwick-Lewis and Jennifer Fischer from It’s A Shore Thing. They did an excellent job helping us select a venue for the wedding and giving us suggestions of local vendors that worked well for our wedding and budget. Making sure we handled the details for all of our guests was a challenge too. We had to find enough places for everyone to stay. Luckily, the Inn could accommodate everyone.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Pure 7 Studios did an excellent job capturing all of our special memories. Ultimately, many things are forgotten by the time the wedding is over, but Eric and Lindsey did a wonderful job! They took pictures for the wedding and fit in perfectly with our family.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are looking forward to Matt completing medical school and beginning our family together!!

Photographer: Pure 7 Studios / Planner: It’s a Shore Thing / Venue: Town Hall, Rosemary Beach / Florals and Lighting: Brian at Myrtie Blue / Cake Baker: Confections On The Coast / Rentals and Catering: Townsend Caterer / Band: Kyle LaMonica / Bride’s Gown: Watters / Paper Products: Gwins Stationery / Hair Stylist: Vivo Hair Salon / Bride’s Shoes: Stuart Weitzman / Bridesmaid Dresses: LulaKate / Men’s Attire: Jos A. Bank / Groom’s Bow Tie: Vineyard Vines

Myrtie Blue is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
24 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    I love that they have fond memories of interacting with casual beachgoers — sharing the joy of your wedding day with random strangers (and lots of little girls!) is one of the most fun things about a wedding day, I think!

  2. avatar Dana reply

    love his suit and her gown. perfect together!

  3. avatar erica reply

    The feature looks absolutely beautiful. We loved photographing this lovely couple and family. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. avatar Kyle LaMonica reply

    Enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane! It was a pleasure performing for Claire and Matt’s family back in June of 2012!

  5. avatar Mike reply

    We were at Rosemary Beach that weekend- it was the most beautiful wedding I have ever seen

  6. avatar Lori Finlen reply

    Claire & Matt had a beautiful wedding thanks to wonderful vendors and a magical night!

  7. avatar Emily reply

    It was absolutely perfect!!! And I am so glad we have all of these amazing photos. A wedding is such a beautiful thing to be a part of, esp my little sister’s, but you get caught up and can’t remember the details that made it so perfect, so these are a wonderful reminder of that day.

  8. avatar Best of 2013: Menswear – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

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  9. avatar Betty reply

    The most beautiful weekend I have ever been apart of! Congratulations Matt and Claire!

  10. avatar Trey reply

    I love my beautiful sister and my new brother in law!! We were totally rockin the seer sucker suit!!!

  11. avatar Sarah reply

    What a beautiful wedding!!!

  12. avatar Jessica Albers reply

    Gorgeous! Love the centerpieces and the brides orchid bouquet!

  13. avatar caitlin vitale reply

    You guys look great!!!!!!

  14. avatar Susanna Carter reply

    These pictures are beautiful! Congrats to the happy couple!

  15. avatar Rachael reply

    I love the colors and orchids! Congrats!

  16. avatar Lauren V. reply

    Best Wishes to you both!!!

  17. avatar Brittney Ankersen reply

    So pretty! You made a gorgeous bride!! And love the seer sucker : )

  18. avatar Nida reply

    Your sister told me all about it! It sounded perfect!!

  19. avatar Claire reply

    Thank you all so much for all of the wonderful comments. Matt and I had an amazing day and we are so flattered to have been highlighted.

  20. avatar Carolyn T. reply

    I remember when you were a little girl sitting in my classroom and now your are married. Congratulations to you and Matt!

  21. avatar Steve and Susan reply

    It was stunning! We are so glad we could share that day with the bride and groom.

  22. avatar Lauren reply

    your wedding looks beautiful Claire, i especially loved the colors you chose!

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