Ana and John, you’ve officially raised the wedding bar for me. Not only because your love radiates like no other—but because every single inch of your sunny fall fete is woven with powerful meaning, and that’s what we live for here at Style Me Pretty. From the Lily of the Valley bouquet to the sweet infusion of musical talent and of course, the moments of beautiful remembrance. Perry Vaile captured it all with such heart, as she always does—soak in all the beauty here in The Vault.
From the Bride… John Carter and I happened to be in Los Angeles in July 2015, and I have friend who works at the Magic Castle, a private magicians club, who invited us to spend the evening there. What I didn’t know earlier, is that John had called my father over the phone and asked for his blessing first. When we arrived at the Magic Castle, John had to think quickly on his feet and coordinate the proposal with management without looking suspicious. They suggested that a magician by the name of “Jimmy H” do the honors of helping with the proposal. Jimmy H offered to do a few tricks for us in the upstairs area of the castle. He started by holding a deck of cards face down and asking each of us to each pick one randomly and had us sign our names on them with a sharpie. I got the Ace of Diamonds and John got the queen of spades.Then he had us merge our cards together with each others hands and magically turned the two separate cards into one card. Then, for a second trick, Jimmy H started waving his hands back and forth and in what was seemingly out of thin air, made a diamond ring appear! He handed it to John who got down on his knees and asked: “Will you Marry me?” …I was crying with happiness and excitement and of course said “Yes.”
For the ceremony at The French Huguenot Church, my niece Sabrina sang “Ave Maria” while my niece Gabriella played the violin and my other niece Abigail played the cello. John and I love to watch the show “Outlander” so we chose for my nieces to play “The Skye Boat Song” that is featured on the show on strings at the ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, John had surprised me by having Scottish bag pipe players play a special arranged version of “The Skye Boat Song” outside of the church. Prior to my wedding, I had a dream of bagpipes playing outside the church, but I have never told anyone, not even John. It was so beautiful.
We had three of 1950’s vintage school buses in the colors of coral, mint and cream that transported all of our guests from the French Huguenot Church in downtown Charleston to Middleton Place, where the reception was held. I arrived the the church with my father in a vintage white car from the late 1930s, John and I took that same car to go to the reception together. For our getaway car, we let in a mint 1950s Chevy Bel Air. All of the vehicles were provided by Low Country Valet in Charleston. Having these vehicles as a part of your special day made us feel like we were in a different era.
For the ceremony, I chose to carry a delicate lily of the valley bouquet. That was one of the things I really wanted. I chose it because they symbolize purity, humility, and the “return of happiness.” We had a good 30 minutes of the reception where we had the MC play some of my favorite Latin music, lots of it Cuban music which was a nod to my heritage. The majority of the entertainment at the reception was provided by The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra of Savannah , who also sang a beautiful rendition of John’s father’s song “Ring of Fire” which was written by his mother, June Carter Cash. Earlier during the cocktail hour of the octagonal garden at Middleton Place, a string quartet provided by Charleston Virtuosi entertained the guests under the Spanish moss filled oaks. Our signature drink was the “Ring Of Fire Mojito” which was a nod to both of our families. It was a mojito with mango nectar and had a rim of cherry pop rocks.
Since John has a special affinity and passion for collecting honey, our wedding favors were whipped honey by Savannah Bee Company. His grooms cake was also a honey bear that was playing the guitar next to a tree trunk with our initials and wedding date carved at the top of it. It was chocolate and had honey buttercream filling in it.
Since it was a fall wedding, I chose a deep dark cabernet for my bridesmaids dresses. We wanted our wedding to have an elegant and timeless feel. Our event planner, Ashley Rhodes of Ashley Rhodes Event Designs did an amazing job of executing mine an John’s vision for wedding. The bridesmaids flowers as well as the flowers on the reception tables had white, pink, and hints of cabernet to go along with the theme. There were lots of gold elements interspersed throughout our reception. From the large gold and crystal chandeliers hanging from our sailcloth reception tent, to the gold napoleon chairs and vases holding the centerpieces. We had three different kinds of textured and metallic linens in blush tones and ivory. Our wedding cake, designed by Minette Rushing of Savannah Custom cakes was four tiers with sugar flowers and had our gold custom made wedding monogram on it which was designed by Emily McCarthy. Our custom monogram was also on our wedding invitations, ceremony programs and napkins. Our wedding cake had alternating layers of red velvet and white chocolate raspberry for each tier. It also had a design that mimicked the church windows that were also featured on the wedding invitation at the bottom of it in white.
I wore my sisters wedding tiara as my something borrowed, the inside of my shoes were blue, as well as the garter I was wearing which was ivory satin with a blue ribbon (for my something blue) ,for my something old, I clipped a turquoise costume ring that was John’s mothers to the inside of my dress for good luck, and my diamond cross necklace was my something new. We had a “family table” that displayed various custom framed photos of mine and John’s parents at their respective weddings , including photos of our grandparents .
We had several favorite moments during our wedding. A few of the biggest ones were when we said our vows and when they pronounced us as man and wife. Another big one was when John and I were finally able to perform our choreographed first dance during our reception. We had been taking ballroom dancing for several months and we did a medley of Ella Fitzgerald and Lou Armstrong’s “The Nearness Of You” and the song “Hell” from The Squirrel Nut Zippers which holds a fun and special meaning to us. The dance incorporated Rumba, Swing and Tango moves. We also really enjoyed our sparkler send off at the end of our reception and getting into the mint colored 1950’s Chevy Bel Air get away car provided by Low Country Valet which had a beautiful “Just Married” sign on it created by Jessica Peddicord of Simply Jessica Marie.
Some advice for other brides and grooms… It is so important to actually take the time to enjoy and soak everything in on your actual wedding day, because it goes by so incredibly fast. I would also advise wearing comfortable shoes for both ceremony and reception. Usually, the ceremony requires the couple to stand for a certain amount of time so it is important to be comfortable. John and I also each chose to purchase a perfume and cologne that we had never worn before until our wedding day. I wore ‘Empressa’ from Penhaligons and he wore ‘Quercus’ also from Penhaligons. We plan to wear theses scents again on anniversaries so that we can remember our wedding day.
“… You’d know I need you every day that rolls around / Your feet would walk on velvet with gold all over the ground. / Your trails would be downhill, a soft breeze at your back / your skies full of diamonds / your nights would not be black. / Yes you would really love it, then if you’re ever down / I’d give you rows of roses – And gold all over the ground. / I pick you up and carry you ‘cross every stream I see. I’d bundle you in kindness until you cling to me. We’d sit beneath strong branches, my arms would twine around …” – Johnny Cash
Photography: Perry Vaile | Videography: Hart to Heart Media | Floral Design: Em Creative Floral | Cake: Minette Rushing | Ceremony Venue: French Huguenot Church | Reception Venue: Middleton Place Plantation | Catering: Cru Catering | Lighting: Technical Event Company | Band: Jeremy Davis & The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra | Tent: Sperry Tents Southeast | Additional Music: Charleston Virtuosi | Car: Lowcountry Valet | Ceremony Entertainment: George Hiatt | Draping & Linen: Party Tables | Hair + Makeup (Bride): Lydia Brittan | Hair + Makeup (Bridesmaids + MOB): Bride's Side Beauty | Just Married Banner: Simply Jessica Marie | Planning & Design: Ashley Rhodes Events | Rehearsal Dinner: Poogan's Porch | Stationery/Paper Products: Emily McCarthy | Tables, Chair, Lounge: EventWorks