What started as a casual run-in at the gym turned into a love story as timeless as this Southern soiree. It’s the kind of sweet garden affair that makes us believe fairytales come true, and it as everything to do with the spot-on planning by W.E.D.’s Luke Wilson. Add in the prettiest of details plus a dress so dreamy it could bring you to tears, and we’re completely and totally hooked. And as if the slew of stunning images from Tim Will Photography weren’t enough to get the swoon-fest started, we’ve also got the tear-jerking video from Lifestage Films that’s a tissue-in-hand must.
From the Bride…Steve and I met at a NYC gym in April 2008. It was months before we’d have any real conversation. For no reason aside from maybe fate we started to talk, trade texts and became friends on Facebook in the summer months. As we became friends and I learned more about him, I was surprised that the “dude from the gym” that I originally found aloof, was actually not what I thought he was at all. My respect for him grew quickly. As an Army vet who served in Afghanistan, he moved to Long Beach, NY to be a fire fighter. He was abundantly kind to me in an otherwise extremely cold and difficult period of my life. I began to seek refuge in our conversations. Steve was no-nonsense and incredibly grounding. He was real, and that was incredibly refreshing. Whatever I struggled with at the beginning of a conversation with him felt more navigable afterward. I remember thinking “Whoever marries this dude is going to be a lucky girl.” It honestly never occurred to me that it could be me.
During the last week of August, Steve asked me to join him for a day at the beach to get out of the city and get some space from all of the chaos in my life. The date he suggested was the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend. The day after my best friend’s wedding and, I’d have to miss her brunch. I thought for a few days before approaching her. I considered whether or not I was being a bad friend by missing her post-wedding brunch to go on a date with “some guy”. Thankfully, she not only understood, but she encouraged me to go. Steve picked me up from the train station and we made our way to the beach … I’m not sure where we turned a corner that day but I remember looking at him and feeling incredibly lucky that something had brought us together. We didn’t spend much time apart in the next few months and by December I knew I wanted to marry Steve.
Two years later, in December 2010, we were on a week-long catamaran sail in the British Virgin Islands. Just after the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve, Steve pulled me away from my family and friends and up to the captains deck. I had grown accustomed to these little stolen moments with Steve as he often took time in large family gatherings to have just a moment alone, so I didn’t think anything of this. As we climbed the stairs, I noticed the star-filled sky over Great Harbour and was completely blown away by how close the sky felt (we’re New Yorkers, we don’t see stars). As I turned to share the moment and take in the sky with him, Steve started saying something about love, commitment and wanting to marry me. It still didn’t occur to me that he was proposing because I honestly didn’t think he’d bring a ring on a sailing trip. In the ocean. He dropped to one knee and asked me to be his wife. Too stunned to do anything other than scream, I excitedly accepted. As he placed the ring on my finger he looked at me and said, “Don’t lose this. It’s not insured yet.” Only Steve.
We began looking at venues immediately and loved every venue we saw. When we stepped into The Rose Garden at Middleton Place, we both knew we’d found it. The garden was simple, classic, organically beautiful. The Oak by the river with it’s gnarly trunk and mossy branches gave me the exact feeling I wanted to have in my marriage: stability in roots, knots and gnarls that show life over time and shade to seek refuge. It felt like we were meant to be there. We had a similar feeling when we met with Luke Wilson from WED. We instantly loved him and his work. We hired him immediately and couldn’t wait to start planning. (We also really hoped we could be friends after our wedding – that’s how much we liked him.)
Throughout the whole planning process I kept one secret from Steve. The ceremony music. On our first date, way back in August 2008, Steve casually mentioned that he always wished a groom would walk down the aisle to “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen. I mentioned this to Luke early on in the planning process and, after he guffawed over email, he matched me with the perfect ceremony musicians who agreed to learn a few songs for me. One of the most poignant moments of our wedding day for me was standing behind the hedges in The Rose Garden knowing my guests had arrived and I was about to be “that lucky girl” I thought about all those years ago. In a moment of stillness with my father on my arm and my sisters, mother and bridal party surrounding me, the first few notes of “Another One Bites The Dust” played and the audience laughed harder than Luke did months before. Steve was walking down the aisle and it was time.
Our parents and god parents walked down the aisle to “All You Need Is Love” as a thank you to them for their love and guidance over the years. My god daughters walked in honor of my paternal grandparents carrying the family Kiddush cup and 2 beautiful garden roses to symbolize their presence. As a tribute to my bridesmaids, who’d all picked me up more times than I can count in our decades-long friendship, they walked to Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends”. And as the opening notes to Steve’s favorite song, Pearl Jam’s “Yellow Ledbetter” played on the acoustic guitar, I took a deep breath to soak it all in. And then my father guided me down the aisle towards the man who made me certain that life would be good. Very, very good. At the end of our ceremony, after Steve broke the glass harder than I ever thought anyone could – the band played one last song as we exited as husband and wife: Smashing Pumpkins “Today.”Wedding Photography: Tim Will Photography | Ceremony Venue: The Octagonal Garden, Middleton Place Plantation | Reception Venue: The Greenswards, Middleton Place Plantation | Wedding Design + Planning: Luke Wilson for W.E.D | Wedding Cinematography: Lifestage Films | Floral Design: SYG Designs | Catering: Duvall Catering and Events | Stationery: Studio-R-Design | Band: Quiana Parler and Friends | Ceremony Music: Charleston Duo | Transportation: Lancaster Tours | Getaway Car: Charleston Black Cab | Rentals: Snyder Event Rentals | Linens: Nuage Designs | Wedding Dress: Emmeline by Vera Wang | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Joanna August, Monique Lhuillier, Jenny Yoo | Bride’s Shoes: Nicholas Kirkwood, Valentino, Toms