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Why a Southern Wedding Will Always Be Chic

One look at these photos and I could have told you that this wedding was all Southern. All grace. All style. All timeless Southern charm rooted in family and real, authentic beauty. The photos – captured perfectly by Timwill Photography – tell so much of the story. But the details, with florals crafted by Gathering Events and coordination by Events La Fete, bring a sense of Southern Chic that will forever be fall-in-loveable. Click here to see all of the pretty.

From the Bride…Ralph and I met for the first time thirteen years ago during the first month of our freshman year at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Our first and only encounter in college was a brief lunch together with a mutual friend who introduced us.  During lunch, I must have mentioned to Ralph that I was thinking of jointing the equestrian team.  Not knowing my last name, “Equestrian” was the key-word he used to add me to his phone contacts list.  Ten years later while out with friends, I made eye contact with a handsome man across the room who then approached me and said “Hello, Frances the equestrian!” After my initial shock (I did not recognize him at all!) and his explanation of how we knew each other, we spent the rest of the night dancing and catching up on the past decade. After dating for two years, the first of which was long distance between Charlotte and Raleigh, Ralph proposed in the kitchen of our house with a beautiful cushion cut diamond ring that he had custom designed.

Ralph and I knew that we wanted an outdoor Spring wedding and searched several venues and towns for the perfect garden setting. We decided on Charleston, South Carolina, for its beautiful southern charm and history and its accessibility for out-of town guests. We chose the Governor Thomas Bennett House as our ceremony and reception venue after seeing its gorgeous gardens and close proximity to hotels and attractions on the Charleston peninsula. Our vision for the overall feel of the wedding was classic, clean, and timeless.

The design details gave our wedding a slightly nautical feel, with a navy and white color palate, striped bridesmaid dresses, and a sailcloth tent. One of my favorite unifying elements of the wedding was our custom monogram by One&Only Paper that made its appearance on everything from the wedding invitations and envelope seals, to cocktail stirrers and favor boxes. Other details, such as the dessert table covered in raspberry linzertortes, bieberli, and hazelnut chocolate, were a nod to Ralph’s Swiss roots.

We began our wedding celebration with a welcome party for friends and family aboard my family’s Hatteras motoryacht, the Liberty.  The boat was docked on the Ashley River and was decorated with Swiss flags, including pennants from Uri, Ralph’s family’s home canton. The festivities continued with a fishing trip for Ralph and the groomsmen and a bridal luncheon at 82 Queen for the women in the wedding. The rehearsal dinner was held the next night in the Planter’s Suite of The Mills House. It began with cocktails on the balcony overlooking Meeting Street and concluded with speeches from family and friends and a Peninsula Grill coconut cake for dessert.

We were fortunate to have a crisp, sunny Spring day for our wedding. The open-air ceremony was held on the semi-circular front lawn of the Governor Thomas Bennett House. My father walked me down the aisle and all of our siblings gave scripture reading and prayers. Directly following the  ceremony, our guests enjoyed cocktails in the back garden, including the Goombay Smash made from Bahamian rum we brought back on out most recent trip.

The reception was held under a sailcloth tent on the side lawn of the house and included Charleston-themed tapas stations, floral wreathes and runners, a six-piece band, and an oversized dance floor that was packed the entire night. After all of the bridesmaids tied the enormous Spanish-style bustle for the many layers of my wedding gown, Ralph and I made our reception entrance and danced the Shag to our first song. Following the cake cutting and a bit of mingling, I changed in to a shorter version of my gown to dance the rest of the night. The send-off was a parade of Swiss, American, North Carolina, and South Carolina flags waived by our guests.  Immediately after the reception, we continued the night with an after-reception cocktail party at The Mills House.

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Photography: Tim Will Fine Art Weddings and Portraits | Wedding Planner: Events by La Fete | Floral Design: Gathering Floral + Event Design | Wedding Dress: Carol Hannah | Invitations: one and only paper | Rings: Bailey's Fine Jewelry | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Kate McDonald Bridal | Catering: Cru Catering | Band: EastCoast Entertainment | Tuxes: Indochino | Ceremony Music: Palmetto Strings | Bridal Jewelry: Gabrielle Jewelry | Ceremony and Reception Venue: The Governor Thomas Bennett House | Hair and Make-Up: Meg Workman for Hair by Charlotte | Rentals: Event DRS | Wedding Cake & Desserts: Ashley Bakery

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They Planned a Dream Elopement Close To Home

Gone are the days of courthouse ceremonies serving as the only option for eloping couples. Instead, loves like Jessica & Patrick are choosing to elope with style, curating a beautiful wedding day made for two. They hired their vendor dream team, including Aaron And Jillian Photography behind the lens and you can also find this day in the latest issue of Charleston Weddings…don’t miss our special SMP-curated section!

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Spring
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Al Fresco

Find More in Charleston Weddings’ Latest Issue!

From Aaron And Jillian Photography… Elopements have gone from courthouse ceremonies to GORGEOUS styled ceremonies, beautiful two tiered wedding cakes, over the top florals and lots of time for the bride and groom to spend as just the two of them together on their wedding day! We first “met” Jess when she started following us on Instagram! We were instantly fans of her and Patrick when we saw that he took her to Paris to propose and even hired a photographer to capture the moment when he dropped to his knee! We crossed our fingers that just maybe that “Instagram follow” would materialize into them hiring us as their wedding photographers…and well, dreams do come true, people! A couple weeks later, there was an e-mail in our inbox from Jess!!! So fast forward to a couple weeks ago, we met Jess & Patrick for their wedding day and spent 4 glorious hours with the two of them…and I’d like to take a moment to give a little pat on the back to the Pure Luxe Bride gals!! They helped Jess & Patrick come up with one of the pretties designs for their elopement at The Legare Waring House! I think we all went home that day with smiles plastered over our faces and an even deeper love for what we do in the wedding industry! 

Jess & Patrick’s wedding day just made you re-think a big wedding, we’re not surprised! We LOVED spending the day with this sweet couple and know that at the end of the day, they had zero regrets about their decision to elope together here in Charleston…and hopefully these photos will allow their friends and family to feel as if they were right there with them, through the whole experience! Thank you for choosing us, Jess & Patrick and we hope these photos will always serve as a reminder of your perfect elopement!

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Photography: Aaron And Jillian Photography | Floral Design: Miele Events | Wedding Dress: Theia | Cake: Sablee | Bride's Shoes: Harriet Wilde | Hair + Makeup: Paper Dolls | Calligraphy: Jillian Cramer | Groom's Attire: Indochino | Venue: Legare Waring House | Bridal Boutique: Alexia's Bridal | Bride's Earrings: Marchesa | Bride's Ring: Diamonds Direct | Cake Knife + Server: Billy Ella | Coordination + Design: Pure Luxe Bride | Gold + Glass Card Holder: BHLDN | Groom's Custom Cuff Links: Blue Nile | Groom's Shoes: Cole Haan | Hair Accessories: The Wild Rose Accessories | Leather Notebook: Rustico | Rentals: Snyder | Silk Ribbon: Silk & Willow

Classic + Traditional Southern Wedding in Charleston

Virgil Bunao Photography has a way with the lens that totally makes your heart flutter. Perfect example? This crazy beautiful southern wedding in Charleston that’s all sorts of incredible. From the indoor church ceremony to the intimate reception, we’ve got it all waiting for you (including the Bride’s gorgeous Heidi Elnora gown and the bridesmaids’ blush beauties by Joanna August) in The Vault!

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Summer
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From the Bride…Most girls dream of their wedding their whole lives. While I did have my fair share of wedding dress daydreams and church bell fantasies, I more frequently dreamt of my husband – what he would be like, what qualities he would embody, and what we would accomplish together. It was no surprise to me that I knew I was going to marry Taylor the first time I met him. He profoundly embodied every quality and more that I had dreamt of all those years. It was truly love at first sight. Charleston was a mainstay throughout our relationship, as we frequently vacationed there while dating. We moved to Atlanta after Taylor graduated from Law school and me from graduate school at University of Tennessee. Shortly after, we got engaged on the Battery. Since Charleston had played such an important role in our courtship, it was a very natural decision for us to marry there.

In the early stages of wedding planning we decided that we wanted our wedding to embody our deep love and commitment for each other, honor our families and unique history with personal touches, and represent our classic and southern styles. We found the perfect ceremony venue at the French Huguenot Church. It was beautiful, classic, had a storied history, was uniquely Charleston, and ultimately was representative our old-world love story. The William Aiken house was the ideal reception venue as we wanted a reception with both indoor and outdoor elements while remaining intimate and romantic. In choosing Charleston and these particular venues, we found exactly what we were searching for – the ideal blend of tradition with progress, beauty with simplicity, and elegance with calm.

The color palette was made up of soft blushes and peach with accents of metallic gold and emerald green. Gina Langford painted an unbelievably gorgeous custom wedding crest for us which served as both our wedding palate color inspiration and floral inspiration. The wedding crest included Juliet garden roses, magnolias, peaches (a nod to our “together-home state” of Georgia), confederate jasmine and honeybees to pay homage to my childhood growing up on a farm with honeybees. The crest foremost set a theme: Whimsical, romantic, us. My stationer carried elements from the crest through all of our paper goods from invitations to signage, favor tags, and our ceremony program. The floral arrangements inspired by our crest included peach garden roses, blush peonies, jasmine, emerald magnolia leaves, and real Georgia peaches that Taylor and I brought to Charleston from Atlanta. The bridesmaids wore soft pink, floor length Joanna August bridesmaids dresses and carried peach garden rose bouquets with greenery that perfectly tied the color palette together.

There were so many lovely, unique touches to our wedding that meant so much to us, and we are fortunate that our incredible wedding photographer, Virgil Bunao (whom we found via the Style Me Pretty blog), was able to capture every bit of nuanced elegance. My bouquet was wrapped with lace from my mother’s wedding gown and included a century-old family crest ring that my husband inherited and gifted to me upon our engagement, and a gold locket with my new initials from Charleston jeweler, Croghan’s Jewel Box. I surprised Taylor with a vintage watch that was part of my “something blue” as the dial was a sapphire, and custom gold bumble bee cufflinks, both as a nod to both my childhood honey farm and to our nickname “bee” for each other. At the ceremony, my high school mentor and teacher sang Jesu Joy of Mans Desiring for the Mothers processional. My grandparent’s vintage wedding cake topper adorned our incredible four-tier almond, red velvet, chocolate, and carrot wedding cake. We displayed wedding photos of each of our parents and grandparents on the fireplace mantel at the William Aiken House as a way to acknowledge the love and legacy that had guided both of us to each other. Our guests were treated to two very special custom wedding favors. Taylor and I spent the weeks before the wedding bottling mini honey jars with raw honey from my childhood farm. It was truly a labor of love. To pay tribute to a tradition my parents had incorporated in their wedding, we sent our guests home with mini red velvet wedding cakes perfectly iced with cream cheese frosting.

Taylor and I were sure to “bury the bourbon” at our reception site – a southern tradition that is said to ward off rain on your wedding day. However, in the days leading up to our wedding, Tropical Storm Bonnie began to make its way towards Charleston’s coast, and brought with it torrential downpours and strong winds. Concerns were high as we monitored the flights of incoming guests and scrambled to formulate weather plans. After some last minute rearrangements of our reception layouts, an unintended tent rental, and a lot of reassuring from our wedding planner, we were as prepared as we would ever be for the tropical storm.

Well, the rain gods must have liked the type of bourbon we buried! When I looked out the window on the morning of the wedding, I could see in the distance that the rain was breaking up and blue sky was emerging. When it was time to walk to the church for the ceremony, the sky was blue, and the sun had emerged. As I was walking with my bridesmaids, I was so unbelievably calm and happy – I will never forget it. The church bells were ringing, the bag piper was playing, the sun was shining, the air had a sweet aroma of southern jasmine, and tourists and locals alike were gathered on Church Street, taking pictures and cheering. I felt like I was in a movie. I told myself I would never forget that moment, and I have thought about it every day since May 29, 2016. I was so happy and excited to get married to the man of my dreams surrounded by all my favorite people. It was truly the best!

My favorite part of the day was the ceremony. I processed down the aisle with my father to an A Capella version of “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”. The acoustics of the church were incredible; it was such a magical moment. During the ceremony, it felt like Taylor and I were in our own little perfect world filled with giggles and tears of joy. In fact, despite the 120 guests looking on, Taylor “snuck” a kiss in the middle of the ceremony while the officiant turned away to procure the wedding rings. It was an unrehearsed, sincere, and unforgettable moment. I felt so thankful that this man I had envisioned and prayed for all those years was now becoming my husband.

Our wedding day was truly filled with so much love. At the end of the night, as I looked around, we were surrounded by all our loved ones there to support us through this next phase of life. The lanterns in the century old magnolia tree, the twinkle lights, and the incredible live band all created an unbelievable ambiance. The whole day truly felt like a dream. There are two distinct sensory elements that will forever remind me of our magical day- the mint juleps and gardenias. The taste of our signature cocktail, “mint to be” mint julep, danced on my taste buds. Throughout the night I kept getting wafts of Taylor’s gardenia boutonniere. That scent will forever take me back to that night. After we finished dancing to our final song of the evening, we were sent off by a chorus of cheering friends and family brandishing sparklers. As Taylor and I nestled into the back of our chauffeured classic DeSoto to head to Wentworth Mansion, the clouds opened back up and the finest mist of rain began to fall from the sky.

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Photography: Virgil Bunao Photography | Event Planning: A Charleston Bride | Floral Design: Palmetto Bloom | Wedding Dress: Heidi Elnora Atelier | Cake: Patrick Properties Hospitality Group | Invitations: Sweet Magnolia Paper | Ceremony Venue: French Protestant Huguenot Church | Reception Venue: Patrick Properties Hospitality Group | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Joanna August | Catering: Patrick Properties Hospitality Group | Hair + Makeup: Charleston Events Hair & Make-up | Lighting: Innovative Event Services | Band: The Charleston Wedding Band | Groom's Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Groomsmen's Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Officiant: Reverend Vance Polly | Ceremony Music: Heath Webber | Transportation: ACW Limo | Transportation: Absolutely Charleston | Bagpiper: Carolina Bagpiper | Beverage Services: Patrick Properties Hospitality Group | Bridal Veil: IHeartBride | Equipment Rental: Snyder | Equipment Rental: Ooh! Events | Equipment Rental: Nuage Designs | Getaway Car: Lowcountry Valet

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