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We believe that preparing for your marriage is an incredibly important aspect of wedding planning, so I love how Karina and John used their time of engagement to do just that. Throughout the process, they practiced compromise, balanced priorities, and threw in a whole lot of fun along the way, all while keeping their focus on creating a strong marriage. With the help of their planner, Ashley Huffman Sanders of LFF Designs, Karina and John threw a wedding that felt like “a fun, Southern shindig,” inspired by their summers spent on the Carolina Coast!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Routh for sharing this sweet day with us!

Wedding dress shopping was one of my favorite parts of wedding planning. My mom and I had scheduled an appointment at one of the larger wedding dress shops in town, but about a month before the appointment, I saw on Instagram that a new shop in town was having a trunk show that weekend. I called, and on a whim, my mom, two friends, and I went in for an appointment. I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted and picked my dress out right off the rack. It was the third wedding dress I tried on and I knew it was the one. We bought it that day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We had our ceremony and reception at a private home along the Intracoastal Waterway. Some friends of ours were also married there and we knew it was a very special place. It meant a lot to us to get married and celebrate right along the water where we’ve made so many memories together over the years.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we used a traditional Episcopal wedding service. My uncle married us, which was extra special because he also married my parents.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We hired a ukulele player for our ceremony, which was so much fun. He played traditional wedding ceremony music with an island vibe. Our first dance was to “Magnolia Wind” by Guy Clark. That song seemed to capture our relationship perfectly and we both loved it.

We chose not to do a first look. My husband is pretty traditional and really wanted to see me for the first time when I was walking down the aisle. I’m so glad we made that decision because when our eyes met for the first time, it was such a magical moment!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We both grew up in North Carolina and wanted the wedding to feel like a fun, Southern shindig. We served all Southern foods: deviled eggs, fried chicken, bourbon-glazed pork, mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, collards, hoppin john, and cornbread. We also had boiled peanuts, mini Moon Pies, and Pepsi for a late night snack. John and his groomsmen wore seersucker suits with bow ties, and part of the groomsmen gift included an NC flag Freeker (knit koozies made here in Wilmington).

We had a four-tiered cake with textured white buttercream frosting. Each layer was a different flavor and so delicious! The cake was decorated with flowers and greenery.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I knew when we started planning an outdoor wedding that the weather would be a huge factor. The forecast looked pretty promising for our big day–just a slight chance of storms. All throughout the ceremony and cocktail hour, the weather was perfect. Just as we sat down to eat dinner though, the sky turned black and the wind really picked up. A few cocktail tables blew over and a tablecloth caught on fire! The cake almost blew over, but was saved by my quick thinking cousins! The radar showed a crazy storm headed our way. We rushed to cut the cake and prepare for the rain to come when suddenly, the sky cleared. It never rained. The light coming through the clouds as the storm passed was absolutely beautiful. Our photographer captured a picture of that sky over our tent, and it is my absolute favorite photo of the night. Once the threat of pouring rain was over, the band cranked up and we danced the night away!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. John and I met through mutual friends on July 4, 2009 at Wrightsville Beach. We spent such a fun day boating with friends, and we really hit it off. We exchanged numbers that night and spent the next day together. He cooked me dinner the following week and I was sold! We dated for close to seven years before getting married–part of that time was long distance while I attended graduate school. John was so supportive and drove to Durham nearly every weekend so we could be together. We both knew if we could survive that separation, we could survive anything together. After school, I moved home to Wilmington and we got engaged the following year.
Tell us all about the proposal! We got engaged in November 2014 at Wrightsville Beach–where we met and where we spend most weekends in the summer. It was the day after my 30th birthday, and John woke up extra early to suggest we go to breakfast and then for a walk on the beach. I could tell he was a little nervous while we were walking along the water and thought something was up. A few minutes later, he was down on one knee. Later that night, we surprised all of our friends with the news at a party. It was a perfect day.
When did y’all get married? April 23, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 175
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a pearl bracelet from my mother-in-law, which served as my something borrowed and old. I wore Duke blue nail polish on my toes for my something blue. My dress, veil, shoes, and earrings were all new.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Wedding planning, in many ways, was good practice for married life. There was lots of compromising, budget discussing, and balancing of priorities. We managed to have a lot of fun throughout the process, and constantly reminded ourselves that our marriage was much more important than the wedding.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Right now, we’re enjoying a low-key summer with family and friends and saving for our first home.

Photographer: Anna Routh Photography | Planner: Ashley Huffman Sanders of LFF Designs | Venue: Private residence | Florist: Fiore Fine Flowers | Wedding Cake: One Belle Bakery | Caterer: Gibbs Catering | Rentals: L&L Tent and Party Rentals | Lighting: High Performance Lighting and Power | Band: Mr. Potato Head Band | Ukulele: Kent Knorr of North Carolina Ukulele Academy | Paper Products: Reeves Engraving | Bride’s Gown: “MJ101” by Madison James | Bridal Salon and Veil: Coastal Knot Bridal | Hair Stylist: Kelli Kuperus and Megan Gregory from Sea Grass Salon and Day Spa | Makeup Artist: Amy Kennison | Bride’s Shoes: “Danya” by Naturalizer | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Joanna August | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank | Trolley: Azalea Limo

Anna Routh, Fiore Fine Flowers, One Belle Bakery, and Coastal Knot Bridal are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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  1. avatar Karina + John » Anna Routh Photography reply

    […] Thanks also to Southern Weddings for featuring this sweet wedding recently. Check it out here. […]

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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.

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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