A family affair with traditional flair makes this pretty party by Denise Gonsales Photography as heart warming as it is gorgeous. It’s the definition of timeless, and filled with so many personal touches by this adorable pair and their loving families. From the gorgeous bouquets to the DIY stationery (by the bride’s sister!) to the southern infused menu – the entire affair is just lovely, and there is a gallery full of images to prove it!
From the Bride…Doug and I moved together to the Midwest from the palmetto-lined streets of Florida and South Carolina, respectively, more than five years ago. However, as soon as we were engaged, we knew wanted our wedding to be back “home” down south. Luckily for us (and our guests!), my family lives in Hilton Head Island, a place known for its beaches, resorts, golf courses, and more. Therefore our wedding could have the excitement of a destination wedding, yet the comfort of a family party in my own small hometown. The location of the wedding also provided a theme of sorts, since we wanted to showcase the “low country” culture of coastal Carolina—for instance, our menu consisted of upscale twists on dishes like shrimp and grits, pulled pork sandwiches, and crab cakes, and the ceremony and reception were both held on the grounds of a golf club with gorgeous antebellum plantation-style architecture. Even the colors of all the wedding details—especially the sea-green bridesmaids dresses and grass-hued groomsmen ties—were meant to mimic the ocean landscapes and blooming flowers of both the bride and groom’s childhood homes.
Planning the wedding was also truly a DIY family affair—for instance, my sister, a Chicago-based designer and illustrator, designed and printed all the invitations, programs (made into fans to combat the Carolina humidity!), favor labels, table numbers, and reserved seating cards, and even fashioned a personalized hanger for my dress. Meanwhile, my mother made my veil and handcrafted clutches and jewelry for each bridesmaid to wear at the reception. She also added custom touches to each bridesmaid’s (and our one groomsmaid’s!) silk-chiffon dress—a ruffled shoulder strap here, a sash there—so that each one looked unique but still part of a coherent whole; after all, I wanted my loved ones standing beside me on the big day to be able to showcase their own style even amidst my wedding vision.
I created seating cards out of bookmarks (a nod to the literature master’s program where Doug and I met) that featured photographs taken of landmarks around Hilton Head and Bluffton; these then corresponded with photographs embedded in our beautiful floral centerpieces and served as table indicators. We also tried to infuse important family heirlooms and memories throughout the reception site; for instance, we used my parents’ Lladro cake topper from their wedding, and we proudly displayed framed bridal photographs of our grandparents.
The day of the wedding, things continued to be low-key and close-knit: my best friend and matron of honor did my hair and make-up, while a dear family friend performed the ceremony. Out-of-town guests danced to popular local band The Headliners and marveled at the alligator in the lagoon behind our venue, while all the Southerners in attendance simply felt at home! Doug and I, meanwhile, were just thankful to be able to have such a beautiful day that perfectly encompassed all the things we love about our past, and everything we look forward to in our future.
Wedding Photography: Denise Gonsales Photography / Flowers: A Floral Affair / Venue, Catering, + Event Planning: Berkeley Hall Club / On-Site Event Coordinator: Maren Rogers / Invitations + Programs: Erin Burke at Yard Sale / Wedding Cake: Signe’s Heaven Bound Bakery and Cakes / Bride’s Shoes: Caparros / Wedding Dress: WToo via Bridal and Formal / Bridesmaid Dresses: J.Crew / Band: The HeadlinersJ.Crew and Watters are members of our Look Book. For more information on how members are chosen, click here.