A living floral cross, a minimalistic yet stunning wedding dress, a rickshaw send off and the best advice we’ve ever heard from the bride herself – these are just a few things you can expect from today’s beautiful Charleston wedding. There may have been a major heatwave the weekend of their wedding, but the team at Hill and Co Creative kept their cool and had the festivities going off without a hitch. Stephanie Gibbs Events created stunning, organic arrangements bringing the couple’s elegant vision to life. Take in all the southern charm at the full gallery captured by Pura Soul Photography!
From Skylar Stetten of Pura Soul Photography… Caroline and Daniel opted for a large southern style wedding just outside of Charleston, SC and celebrated with over 200 of their closest friends and family. Since the wedding celebration was large, Hill and Co. Creative designed a unique reception that felt like you were in an outdoor living room with fine furnishings including winged, cane back chairs and leggy sofas. A custom blue and white bar, blue and white pillows, and blue and white ginger jars were just a few of the elements that gave this wedding it’s traditional southern charm. Standing just over 6 feet tall, the floral cross created by Stephanie Gibbs Events was the cornerstone of the ceremony site. The religious ceremony was rooted in heartfelt readings of scripture by close friends and family.
From the Bride and her mother… Large floral urns flanked the aisle entering the ceremony site, which was framed by sprawling oak boughs with Spanish moss. Ushers escorted guests to vintage salvaged church pews with simple greenery aisle markers. A large wood cross covered in flowers stood against the backdrop of a peaceful pond. As if on cue, several white cranes gracefully skimmed the water surface. It was the hottest Memorial Day Weekend on record in Charleston, totaling a steamy 100 degrees, but during the ceremony, a gentle breeze suddenly wafted through the venue (to every guest’s delight). Crisp, white umbrellas shaded the venue from the glaring sun, and guests were provided with handmade sweetgrass fans, thanks to my mother’s brilliant last-minute improvisation.
Characterized by subtle, low-country elegance and layers of texture and light. A gray and white paneled bar backed by etagere shelving for glassware was strategically positioned under an ancient oak. A cluster of beehive pendants cast a warm glow, as guests gathered to enjoy cocktails around gray barley-twist pedestal tables. I (the bride) took a stab at etching the bar menu on an antique mirror in white fabric paint. Bamboo folding chairs pulled up to round tables covered in off-white linens with floral centerpieces in cement urns and etched glass votives with blue tapered candles. Guests had a perfect view of the action perched on Penelope chairs surrounding long community tables that flanked the dance floor. A lounge area, with cane-backed wing chairs, a sofa, and blue- and- white- chinoiserie pillows invited guests to linger and enjoy the night. Under the tent, guests crowded onto the birchwood- and- white checkered dance floor with a white plantation-front stage. The one-and-only, Charlotte-based Sol Fusion band provided the energy, talent, and tempo to overcome the heat and rally everyone to dance. Later in the night, our guests donned a hilarious assortment of hats and dance floor props – from Finding Nemo characters to saguaro cacti (an ode to my AZ roots, of course).
The highlight of the evening was a surprise visit by Ramses, the famed mascot of the University of North Carolina (our alma mater), who leapt onstage in the middle of ‘Uptown Funk,’ bringing the crowd to its knees. The peak of the evening (and quite possibly my existence) was shimmying with my father and Ramses after both families and bridal parties had rushed on stage. For our exit, we knew a glitzy Rolls-Royce wasn’t fitting, so we started brainstorming creative alternatives. We have a few friends who’ve manned bike taxis in downtown Charleston, therefore the idea for a rickshaw bike unfolded organically.
My vision was to infuse as many elements as possible with loose, overflowing arrangements of seasonal garden florals. Stephanie Gibbs worked her magic with jasmine vine, tulips, lilacs, eleagnus, smilax, garden roses, lisianthus. For the bridal bouquet, I carried hand-tied florals of garden roses, tulips, lisianthus, and lilac with loose greenery. Bridesmaids had similar, but smaller arrangements. Last, but not least – the large wooden cross was exquisitely draped in natural greenery and white florals to serve as the centerpiece of our ceremony.
Our invitations hinted at what was to come; one of my bridesmaids, Charlotte Moore, painted a watercolor of the Wingate farmhouse for the save-the-dates. Our formal invitations were engraved in breeze blue ink, with a simple oak tree motif that I designed. My mother collected a palette of muted blue, sea-glass and rose-colored vintage stamps from various sources, each representing an aspect of our lives.
Charleston is a foodie town, and we wanted to treat our guests to a coastal Carolina feast. Our idea: innovative, artful local cuisine fused with comfort food. Salthouse, our caterer, was a great choice to implement this vision. During cocktail hour, we served piquant tomato pie tartlettes, lobster BLTs, okra tempura, and local Ashley Farms duck confit. During the reception, guests grazed at the “Chef’s Best of the Season” table, a charcuterie loaded with locally-sourced hand-cured meats, cheeses, lavosh, and gourmet condiments. During the evening, guests sampled local shrimp and grits with Tasso gravy, braised short rib with mushroom ragout, and a mac-n-cheese bar with cavitappi pasta and five cheese mornay with toppings. To ward off the heat, we provided cooling towels, sweetgrass fans, umbrellas, electric fans, and a popsicle vendor, King of Pops. To soak up the late night cocktails, we had bourbon-glazed fried chicken with homemade biscuits, and the one-and-only Krispy Kreme donuts.
We sourced Snack Monster prickly-pear rice krispies cookies coated with house-made salted caramel, Chapel Hill toffees, Old Bay Virginia Peanuts, assorted Red Clay hot sauces, and Lowcountry Kettle chips. Oh, and a sophisticated hangover kit to combat Monday’s struggle.
As a tomboy at my core, I was secretly dreading the dress search. Unlike many brides out there, my idea of a ‘dream’ wedding dress consists of clean lines, minimal frills and an understated, yet sleek silhouette (i. E. Megan Markle’s gown, but more summery). I was not at all expecting to find THE frock when I stumbled into a sample store in downtown Charleston almost one month after being engaged… In fact, I made the appointment in the first place thinking it would be a beneficial introduction to the process, which I had convinced myself would take 6+ months based on my chronic indecisiveness (and the conflicting female opinions in my family). My “moms” (AKA mother and mother-in-law) were in town at the time and instantly started pulling options off the shelves for me to try when we waltzed into the shop with my roommates. One of the dresses that caught my eye immediately was a strikingly simplistic Sarah Seven frock with a form-fitting bodice that happened to be a size 2 (what are the odds?). I tried it on in front of my posse, and no one said a word for 20 seconds, until my mother exclaimed, “Well, time to go. You have your dress.” The rest of the room chimed in and adamantly agreed, including my mother-in-law, who brought along an exquisite antique Brussels lace veil “just in case” I wanted to see it in-person. Turns out, the exquisite off-white pattern of the veil was a perfect fit for the Sarah Seven dress – and the rest is history. As for the groom’s vision… Our attire was black tie, but ended up with an unexpected twist: shorts. Explanation below!
Given the go-ahead by the mother of the bride earlier in the day, the groomsmen disappeared shortly after cocktail hour and reemerged wearing makeshift tuxedo ‘shorts’ above their knees (really just strategic black swim trunks). Soon enough, nearly half of the male population in attendance followed suit – literally – flaunting every style of short imaginable – from chubbies to neon swim trunks.
How We Met
If at first you don’t succeed…
Caroline and Daniel crossed paths in 2012 when she arrived as a freshman (and he was a junior) at UNC. Instantly smitten, Daniel decided to make his affection known one night under the stars at Chapel Hill’s most enchanting venue: Pantana Bob’s. Needless to say, things didn’t exactly go as planned. Then, nearly two years later, Caroline finally agreed to go to a cocktail function with Daniel, where she was floored by his swing dancing skills (compliments of his dedicated trainer, Angela) and uncanny ability to make her laugh. It wasn’t until 2014 that the duo made their relationship “official” on the patio of another romantic watering hole: Blind Tiger Pub–ironically located a few doors down from Daniel’s workplace. Four years later, these star-crossed Tar Heels tied the knot in the same city where they took the first step—surrounded by friends and family from across the globe.
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Advice for Brides/Grooms
I could easily draft a novel for this prompt, but I’ll try to keep it brief. No matter what calamity strikes or bad weather ensues before, during or after the wedding – the outcome of the wedding is 100% in the bride and groom’s hands. For starters, my car was totaled in the middle of the night four months before my wedding by a one-legged man with no insurance. Then, two months later – I found out my videographer had taken his own life after not hearing from him for a month. A few weeks after that, I discovered the bridesmaid dress I chose sold out of all sizes except 14, 16 and 18 (turns out my sister and two best friends from home hadn’t ordered theirs yet). Fast forward to the week before the wedding, and my in-laws’ car broke down on the highway en route to Charleston with my husband’s 94-year-old grandmother in the backseat. Meanwhile, I picked my rehearsal dinner dress up from the seamstress, only to discover she had accidentally sewn in size DD cups (instead of the correct B size). And on top of all of this, we began reading reports of a Charleston heat wave approaching, which was predicted to culminate in 99 degrees on our wedding day, May 26. Trust me–I could keep going, but my point is to stress that none of the logistics and fluff really matter in the long-run. Most of us have been to a wedding or two where the bride is clearly uptight and preoccupied with over-calculating every aesthetic detail around her. I made a promise to myself not to fall into this category. So instead, Daniel (my husband) and I concocted a simple, foolproof game plan to truly enjoy the best night of our lives:
Remember what the day is about. Hint: it’s not the dress designer, venue, draping or shoes that matter in the end – it’s who’s waiting for you at the other end of the aisle. When in doubt, report to the dance floor. It’s that simple. We weren’t afraid to let loose at our wedding (sweat and all), and I’m so glad we did. I truly believe that the bride and groom’s collective attitude is one of the single most critical factors to determine the night’s success. Allow yourselves to have a blast, and I promise – your guests will too. Ladies, this should go without saying… But break in your wedding shoes at least two weeks out. I’m still suffering the consequences.
As evidenced by the uncontrollable tears, I’ll never forget walking down the aisle escorted by my sweet daddy. It’s truly an impossible task to narrow down every glorious moment of that 100-degree day… However, the surprise Ramses cameo, last-second shorts rebellion and rickshaw exit (sporting sombreros) were obvious highlights.
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Photographer: Pura Soul Photography | Videographer: Knotted Arrow | Wedding Planner: Hill & Co. Creative | Florist: Stephanie Gibbs Events | Wedding Dress: Sarah Seven | Cake: Charleston Cakes Etc | Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Catering: Salthouse Catering | Calligraphy: Bonnie Clark | Lighting: East Bay Lighting | Band: Sol Fusion | Wedding Venue: Wingate Plantation | Donuts: Krispy Kreme | Dress Shop: Gown Collective | Film Lab: Indie Film Lab | Mascot: University of North Carolina | Paper Goods: Reaves Engraving | Popsicles: King Of Pops | Rentals: Eventworks | Rickshaw: Rickshaw | Specialty Rentals: Ooh! Events | Strings: Other Brother Entertainment. Josh. | Watercolor: C. H. Moore