Charleston Wedding by Virgil Bunao
June 8, 2011

Wednesdays are ALWAYS bright, shiny, happy kind of days around the SMP office loaded with snippets of one real wedding after another. And this Wednesday marathon has us yelling awesome from the mountaintops. As you are riding on the train o' lovely, don't forget to click on the gallery where each and every wedding lives in its entirety. In fact, you can hang out there all day if you want. We promise not to tell your bosses.

First up is the easiest, breeziest most down to earth gorgeous affair. It's as if Charleston was MADE for this very wedding and who better to capture all the gorgeous then one of our faves, Virgil Bunao? Be sure to stop by the gallery because there are so many pretty images, we couldn't possibly do this wedding justice with one little post. See it all here.

Charleston Wedding

Charleston Wedding 1

Charleston Wedding 2

Charleston Wedding 3

Charleston Wedding 4

Click here to see the entire image gallery!

From the Bride... Four years after our first date and a few months after Brian had relocated to Charleston, SC, where I was in law school, he proposed!  Though neither of us wanted a long engagement, we decided to postpone planning for the next year while I finished school and prepared to sit for the bar exam.  Without a date set, the first year of our engagement provided us with ample time to dream about our wedding without any pressure to make quick decisions.  While countless design themes and locations were tossed around, we always came back to describing our dream day by the atmosphere we hoped to create.  We wanted the day to have a relaxed and intimate feeling, so that we and our guests felt entirely at ease and could focus its meaning.  Design-wise, we hoped for a classic look, with touches of quirky and whimsy.  We also liked the look of mixing vintage with recycled items, which would help stretch our modest budget.

Once law school and the exam were past us, we began searching for venues.  In late Fall of 2010, we found the perfect location – RiverOaks, a tranquil waterside setting flanked by an amazing English country home and towering oaks draped in Spanish-moss – and thereafter everything else began to fall into place.  Not only were we tickled with the landscape, but the proprietor of RiverOaks, Marianne, grasped the look and feel we were going for and was eager to help us execute our ideas as our planner.  Not willing to put the wedding off any longer, now seemed the perfect time to finally begin booking vendors and planning our wedding!  We set a date of March 12, 2011 and had around four months to pull it all off.

Being fresh out of grad school, adhering to the budget was our main priority, meaning we would have to be clear about our must-haves and be willing to dismiss unimportant extras.  Next to the overall design and ambiance of the wedding, photography and food were at the top of our list.  We were so thrilled to book Virgil Bunao and knew his style and demeanor would contribute to wonderful photos and a relaxed approach to documenting beautiful memories of our day.  Being a vegetarian couple, finding a caterer who could provide creative, satisfying meatless food for our guests was important.  It took a special place to make it happen, but Fat Hen Catering was just the ticket – they were excited to work with our challenge and created the perfect mix of seasonal, filling and delicious food.  Booking these amazing vendors made it easier to trade a live band for our iPod reception playlist (put together by my wonderful hubby) and swap signature cocktails for beer and wine.

We were able to use materials efficiently at the wedding, which extended our money further and gave us the opportunity to be creative with charming older pieces: above the dance floor, we strung lights and recycled tent fabric in strips, which our wedding planner dyed to match our colors; rented ceremony benches were given a second use at the reception as farm table seating and aside the fire for roasting marshmallows; a vintage Bride and Groom cake topper was borrowed from a friend who collects antiques; boiled peanuts from Brian’s uncle’s farm, and prepared by his mom, made for a great late night snack; my parents loaned their antique radio, which gave the dance floor an old-fashioned feel;  we borrowed a vintage sofa and Hoosier cabinet to create a cozy atmosphere in the RiverOaks party shack;  and fabric remnants made a great miniature banner and backdrop for guests to take photos.

Our wedding day was such a blessing and too many wonderful things fell into place to mention.  Some of the most cherished highlights include the fanciful invitation design by Andy Clifton that set the perfect tone for our celebration, my sister-in-law’s beautiful bag piping as our guests arrived and as I walked down the aisle, and our fantastic wedding banner, hand-stitched with love by my Mom. By far the greatest part of the day was being surrounded by loved ones who had travelled from near and far to witness Brian and I become man and wife.  Nearly six years required some patience, but had been well worth the wait to become Mrs. Clifton!

Wedding Photography: Virgil Bunao / Wedding Ceremony & Reception Venue: RiverOaks / Day of Planning, Design & Floral Arrangement: Marianne Caldwell of RiverOaks / Wedding Invitation Design: Andy Clifton / Calligraphy: Calligraphy by Paige Tanenbaum / Catering: Fat Hen Catering / Wedding Cake & Macaroons: Erin Nobles ( / Wedding Dress: J.Crew / Bride’s Jewelry: Ann Taylor / Groom’s Attire: J.Crew + Brooks Brothers / Bridesmaid Dresses: twobirds Bridesmaid / Hair & Makeup: Blushing Brides