Charleston is so classically beautiful. And today’s wedding embodies all the charm of the city with those amazing trees and flowers, a delicious Southern menu, and a pretty terrific dance party to end the evening. The cherry on the cake? Bride Leah designed her romantic wedding gown herself and we couldn’t be more in love!

Photography by Olivia Rae James.

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Tell us about designing your own wedding dress!  I design a line of my own—Plante (my maiden name)—and I’m lucky enough to also work for a bridal house here in New York (Anna Maier), whose designer gifted me my wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses. Developing my gown was a dream come true; I got to design everything, working closely with our couture seamstresses, pattern makers, and fabric artisans. The fabric came from Italy, and the embroidery was done in Paris by an company owned by Chanel. I love how it turned out, and it meant so much to wear a dress that I designed and that was made by people I care about!

 

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What was the best advice you received as a bride?  Be calm.

 

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The Ceremony

“We chose the Confederate Home and College for it’s perfect location right in the middle of Downtown Charleston. It was kind of a hidden gem—from the street all you see is an old door with no signage or any indication of what it is, but after walking through an old, unlit hallway, the space opens up into a beautiful secret-garden like yard shaded by live oaks and surrounded by beautiful old architecture.”

 

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Your ceremony in three words. Personal, religious, heartfelt… also very hot!

How did you go about planning your ceremony?  We chose a few important elements we wanted and worked with our officiant to incorporate them into a traditional template.

 

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What was your ceremony music? A string duet played standard hymns and “Canon in D” for the processional. For the recessional we had the theme from the Princess Bride.

Who officiated your ceremony?  My childhood pastor and close family friend, Reverend Craig Bailey. He’s known both of us for years.

What were your vows like?  We chose traditional vows with slight alterations. There’s so much significance in repeating the same words couples have spoken for generations, throughout many different times and places, to make such an eternal commitment.

 

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Did you include any traditions in your ceremony?  We had a Christian ceremony, but since Ben’s family is Jewish we had our bridal party read the seven blessings.

What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony?  Being up there together in front of all of our friends and family. During the ceremony, despite the heat, I remember wishing it could go on forever! I was very nervous for the ceremony itself (that I would faint, or cry too much, or that we would forget what we were supposed to do) but once we were there it felt so important and joyful I didn’t want it to be over.

Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony?  It poured rain all day leading up to the ceremony—and stopped about an hour before. We were so lucky to have a beautiful, sunny ceremony and reception!

 

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The tree-line cobblestone streets of Charleston are so charming! We love how it gives us the feeling of being in a romantic faraway city.

Leah’s loose bouquet was filled with such a romantic collection of florals and greenery: David Austin patient garden roses, chocolate cosmos, white ranunculus, garden snow spray rose, chocolate scabiosa, scented geranium, and asparagus fern.

 

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The Reception

“We wanted a fresh, natural, fun reception that wasn’t overworked, twee, or too Pinterest-y. I work in the bridal industry so I’ve seen it all when it comes to place settings, cutesy name cards and cheesy decor. We just wanted a classically beautiful party that didn’t resemble a sweet sixteen!”

 

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How would you describe your reception? So fun! To encourage a high-energy atmosphere, we had a station style dinner. We wanted our guests to take advantage of all areas of the beautiful venue like they would a normal party—the dock, picnic tables, garden, lawn, rocking chairs, and warp around porch. We threw in lots of fun activities like lawn games, a photo booth, and a popsicle cart that came in towards the end of the night with spiked popsicles! People could dance, talk, snack, or relax, all night- exactly how we wanted it to be.

 

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Why did you choose this location for your reception?  We liked the idea of having a historic downtown wedding, and a laid back, waterside reception. Very Charleston!

Did you have a signature cocktail?  Iced tea vodka + lemonade.

 

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What was your wedding menu? Southern classics like shrimp and grits, brisket, and collard greens.

 

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Do you have any budget tips for other brides?  We had a lot of fun in the last couple of weeks splurging on small details as we thought of them, like monogrammed napkins and personalized koozies. I’m glad we didn’t go overboard on the venue because it left us plenty of flexibility to pick out fun extras!

Any special songs?
First dance: “Stand By Me” by Ben E King
Father/daughter and Mother/son dance: “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” by Darius Rucker

 

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Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink Olivia Rae James | Snippet & Ink

 

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What was your favorite moment or part of the reception?  The hora! The groomsman secretly organized it, so it was a total surprise, and really got the party started. I was terrified but I think everyone else enjoyed it!

If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently?  Not a thing!

 

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Photography: Olivia Rae James / Reception Venue, Catering: Creek Club at I’on in Charleston, South Carolina / Ceremony Venue: Confederate Home and College / Floral Design: FlowerShop / Dress, Veil, Bridesmaid Dresses: Custom, Anna Maier / Shoes: Aquazzura / Jewelry: Winden / Suit, Shirt, Groomsmen Attire: Suit Supply Co / Tie: Down South Tie Company / Shoes: Allen Edmonds / Stationery: Paperless Post / Hair, Makeup: Sabra Mizell of Willow Salon / Rentals: Snyder / Ceremony Music: Claire Bailey and Anna Matthias / Reception Music: Finger Snappin Entertainment / Cake: WildFlour Bakery

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Sparkling blue sea, sandy white beaches, and postcard worthy palm trees every way you turn. Today’s sweet couple immediately knew the Bahamas was the perfect location for their dream destination wedding—and on a budget!

“We decided to have a destination wedding for several reasons. We live in Los Angeles and most of our family and friends live throughout the southeastern United States so we thought that it would be more fun for us and our guests to celebrate our union in—or near—the Caribbean. Traditional weddings don’t give guests an opportunity to really spend time with the couple; destination weddings give you the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends.”

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Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Would you be willing to share a full budget breakdown?   I honestly think that we had our dream wedding for less than $11,500. It was a lot of work; I had to be very hands-on with the budget, especially the decor. I did splurge on flowers and I paid for my bridal party’s make-up— all of my 9 bridesmaids, my mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and aunt. That was my only gift to them, so I wanted to make it count.

 

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Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? For “something old”, I used a friend’s wedding dress as my reception gown. “Something new” was my amazing Lazarro wedding dress. “Something borrowed” was our traditional wedding vows. “Something blue” was the blue waters of the ocean as we stood on a pier and exchanged our vows.

How did you go about planning your ceremony? We hired an amazing local wedding planner, Annamae Fox, but we were extremely hands-on in the planning process. Unlike most destination weddings, we did not use a pre-designed/impersonal wedding package, we selected almost every single detail down to the layout of our tables. We drew inspiration from social media, in particular celebrity weddings.

 

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What was the best advice you received as a bride? We were advised on the importance of “first look” photos. We took our first look photos at the World Renowned French Cloisters—next to the One & Only Ocean Club. We considered having our wedding at the Cloisters but decided that Compass Point was our favorite venue. We were also told to be true to our budget and to not get bogged down in the minutia and to just enjoy our wedding and ceremony because the time really does go by quickly.

 

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Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? I fell in love with the Bahamas the moment I laid eyes on her baby blue water in 2005 during a college sorority trip, so when we decided to have an intimate destination wedding, it was the first destination on our list. Besides, the Bahamas is so close to the US and it was very easy for our guests to fly into Nassau.

 

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The Ceremony

“Our ceremony was amazing—from walking down the pier in my wedding gown with both of my parents, to exchanging our vows under an intimate gazebo, it was one of the most beautiful experiences we have ever had and after we sealed our vows with a kiss we were greeted with a few matrimonial raindrops! Destination weddings are great; all of our guests were invested in our love journey.”

 

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Your ceremony in three words. Sophisticated, luxurious and breathtaking

What was your ceremony music? A violinist played John legend’s “All of me” during the bridal party processional and Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” for the bride’s processional.

 

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What were your ceremony readings? 1 Corinthians 13:11 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

What were your vows like? The Bahamas was under British rule for 325 years and our wedding vows reflected the more traditional British vows or Episcopal Wedding Vows—which has its origins in the Church of England.

 

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Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? When the ceremony ended, we did a “jumping of the broom,”—an African wedding tradition that represents the joining of two families and the couples new home together.

 

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What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? We enjoyed the magical experience of exchanging our vows under a gazebo at the end of an exclusive pier. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

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What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? We spent a lot of money on wedding invitations and we sent out a lot of invitations to guests that we knew were not going to attend our destination wedding. Instead, for those faraway friends, relatives, and colleagues, I wish that we would have mailed wedding announcements after our wedding. Our wedding announcements were gorgeous—and cheaper; they included several photos from our wedding along with our wedding date however, we only sent out a few announcements because we sent out so many wedding invitations.

 

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The Reception

“Our ceremony was at Compass Point Beach Resort on the pier, and our reception was at the same resort on the sundeck. The bright colors and ocean views encompass all of the things that you expect in a Bahamas wedding.”

 

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How would you describe your reception? Our outdoor reception was fun, intimate and breathtakingly gorgeous.

If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I thought everything was amazing. I’m glad that we had an intimate wedding. However if I had to do it all over again, I would have changed into my second gown much earlier in the evening. That’s it! Be flexible—our original host hotel was under construction and did not open on time and we had to scramble to find another hotel for us and our guests 4 weeks before our wedding. Thank goodness for the Comfort Suites Paradise Island!

 

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What was your wedding menu? We had a plated dinner and we offered four options: buttered grouper, filet mignon, lamb chops, or spicy salmon.

Did you have a signature cocktail?  No, we had a full service open bar during our cocktail hour and throughout our reception.

 

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What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We were inspired by celebrity weddings, high-end luxurious and sophisticated weddings. We did not want a cheesy, run-of-the-mill destination wedding. We wanted our wedding to be just as beautiful if not more beautiful than traditional non-destination weddings.

 

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Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding?  Leon and I are not a traditional couple; we met, fell in love, had a baby and then got married. We are so happy that our beautiful daughter Chloe was able to be our flower girl. We are the first in our group of friends to have a destination wedding. We march to the beat of our own drum!

 

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What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance?
First dance song: “I want you” by Luke James
Father/daughter dance: “The way you look tonight” by Michael Buble
Mother/Son: “How sweet it is” by James Taylor

What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Our wedding cake was a white cake with white marshmallow icing and a fresh strawberry filling. Because we were budget conscious but still wanted an over the top wedding cake experience, we ordered a 5 tier faux wedding cake and used a sheet cake to serve I guests. We also had a New Orleans Saints designed groom’s cake—chocolate cake with a fresh strawberry filling.

 

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What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Our first dance, as the sun set with our amazing ocean view and our surprise Bahamian “Junkanoo Rushout.” Many of our guests are from Louisiana where traditional second line brass bands are commonplace at the close of wedding receptions—second lines are part of the New Orleans wedding tradition. The wedding second line celebrates the newlyweds as they embark on a new life together. The main line leading the parade for a wedding is made up of the married couple and the brass band. Our Junkanoo Brass Band and performers were our way to pay homage to our Louisiana roots and to incorporate Bahamian carnival traditions. We even provided vintage handkerchiefs for our guests to waive to the beat of the brass band.

 

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Photography: Martina Micko / Venue, Catering: Compass Point Beach Resort in Nassau, Bahamas / Event Planning & Design: Anna’s Wedding Planning Service / Floral Design: Wildflowers Bahamas / Dresses: Lazarro Style No. 3415, JS Collections via Bloomingdales / Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Pearl Earrings:  Tiffany & Co / Bridesmaid Dresses: Dress Long Bridal / Tuxedo: Beardsley Outfit via The Black Tux / Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Warehouse / Stationery: Parchment by Dami / Calligraphy: Letter Perfect Design / Faux Wedding Cake: Elizabeth Pietila via Ultimate Fake Cakes / Host Hotel: Comfort Suites Paradise Island

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There is something about a winery wedding that never gets old; this especially holds true for Kunde Family Winery. The huge oak trees, sprawling vineyards as far as the eye can see, and some pretty amazing stone ruins—it’s easy to fall in love with this location. Kate and Josh knew from the moment they visited there was no other place they wanted to celebrate their wedding. Christina McNeill photographed this gorgeous wedding filled with so much love and joy!

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“Don’t underestimate the time it takes to plan all the pieces that go into a wedding. Ask for help—whether from family, friends or a wedding planner. As we were planning long distance, finding a planner was the best decision we made.”

 

 

What was the best advice you received as a bride? Deep breaths.

What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? You will be surrounded by a huge group of people who love you unconditionally and want to you succeed—no matter what goes right or wrong on this day, they will be supportive and excited to share the moment with you. So don’t sweat the small stuff. Let it go the day of the wedding and just have fun!

 

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Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? Our moms created fabulous gift bags for guests, including various local items such as dried lavender, California poppy seeds, lotion and chocolate.

 

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The Ceremony

“We went on a whirlwind Northern California trip checking out various wedding locations about a year prior to our anticipated wedding date. During a wine and cheese hour at a hotel, we were chatting with the host about our plans and she was shocked we weren’t looking at Kunde. On a whim, we scheduled a last minute appointment after a second look at a place down the road—and were immediately sold. From the moment we walked into the tasting room to the drive up through the vineyards to the wedding site we were smiling ear to ear and knew this was it. Kunde was everything we imagined and more, and certainly delivered on that first impression.”

 

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Your ceremony in three words.  Non-traditional, comfortable, DIY

How did you go about planning your ceremony?  We researched various templates and traditions then adapted to make them our own.

 

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Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? I appeared out of the vineyard, escorted by all 3 of my parents. We also liked the Jewish tradition of the groom walking down the aisle by his parents and used that for Josh and his parents.


What was your ceremony music? Processional: “Glasgow Love Theme” (from Love Actually), played by our family friend guitarist Bryce Wilson / Recessional: “You are the best thing” by Ray LaMontagne

 

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Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink

 

Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We adapted a Mexican wedding tradition involving a long lasso or rosary placed in an infinity symbol around the couple as an expression of their commitment and everlasting partnership. As we were somewhat lacking for cowboys and Catholics at our gathering, we chose to substitute a large, 6 foot lei instead as a representation of the special place that the island of Maui holds for us as my father lives there. We had my parents drape the lei over Josh and vice versa, welcoming us into the family.

 

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Who was your officiant and how did you choose him/her? A close family friend of Josh. We essentially wanted someone who could draw upon their own marriage experiences to share valuable advice and wisdom as we entered this new phase.


What were your ceremony readings?
Velveteen Rabbit and a Personal blessing from my mother.

 

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What were your vows like? We wrote our own, adapted from and inspired by a variety of sources.

What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Our Vows.

 

 

“We snuck away for photos in the ruins and the vineyards at the end of dinner—a difficult decision at first as we were hesitant to miss a big piece of the reception—but ended up producing some of our best photos. Most people had no idea we were missing for 30 minutes anyways!”

 

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Katie carried a colorful bouquet filled with Icelandic poppies with pops of citrus .

 

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The Reception

“The focus was truly the event, the people and the setting. We had been to a number of weddings that felt very personal and as though guests were able to connect with the bride and groom—which we hoped to recreate. Most of all, we wanted to create a fun, comfortable and memorable event to share with our closest friends and family.

”

 

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Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. Josh was part of an acappella group in college, many of whom were in attendance, and sang Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love” during the cocktail hour as a gift to us.

 

 

How would you describe your reception? Elegant, comfortable, per one friend “fancy/farm.” Low stress given our incredible wedding planner support!

 

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What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Certainly Kunde as a venue was quite inspiring. Given the beautiful surroundings, we didn’t feel pressured to dress the space up or the need to cover any eyesores.

 

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Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink

 

Did you have a signature cocktail? As liquor is not permitted at Kunde, we served rose champagne with raspberries as people migrated from the ceremony space into cocktail hour—definitely a success!

 

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Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink

 

Why did you choose this location for your reception? We intentionally decided to use separate parts of the Boot Hill venue for the ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner, which flowed well into one another but still allowed each part of the night to feel unique.

 

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What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? We were fortunate to have an incredible sunset over the vineyards just before dancing began, which created a special, intimate moment for us and the guests before the party kicked off.

 

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What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Cupcakes! With a small cake for us to cut.

 

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Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink
Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink

 


What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance?
Louis Armstrong, “What a wonderful world” / Sam Cooke, “Nothing can change this love”

 

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Menu: As guest arrived: lavender lemonade / chilled cucumber water // Cocktail hour: ahi tartare in crispy cones / grilled rosemary flatbread with dried tomatoes / scallop ceviche / rosemary skewered lamb noisettes / Bermuda Triangle goat cheese & almond crisps / mahogany lacquered duck on sweet potato pancakes // Dinner: salad of baby organic greens / parmesan bread sticks and rustic Italian breads / seared Pacific salmon with basil beurre blanc sauce / Swiss chard, asiago and ricotta ravioli / baby arugula, asparagus and parmesan // After dinner treats: Elaine Bell Catering French roast coffee / mini cheese burgers / mini chocolate milk shakes

 

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Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink Christina McNeill. Alicia K Designs | Snippet & Ink

 

If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently?
We wish we’d had a bit more time to visit with each table during dinner.

 

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Photography:  Christina McNeill / Venue: Kunde Family Winery in Glen Ellen, California / Event Planning & Design:  Alicia K Designs / Floral Design: Amanda Vidmar of Alicia K Designs / Dress: Amy Kuschel / Shoes: Kate Spade / Jewelry: Anthropologie, Etsy / Suit: Hugo Boss / Tie: Tie Bar / Shirt: Thomas Pink / Shoes: Allen Edmonds / Stationery: Postable / Hair, Makeup: Sherrie Long / Rentals: Classic Party Rentals / Reception Music: DJ Seven / Catering: Elaine Bell / Cake, Dessert: Sift

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Bride, Lauren, is from New York and grew up vacationing in Bluffton, South Carolina, so it makes sense that today’s wedding is the perfect mix of sophisticated city and sweet Southern charm. From the Lowcountry venue to the lush flowers (how incredible is that bouquet?!), Lauren and Colin’s wedding is a stunner from top to bottom.

Photography by Virgil Bunao.

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Did you include any traditions in your wedding?  For my something old, I wanted to incorporate something of my grandmother’s, since she couldn’t be at the wedding. She is known for her love of jewelry, so I affixed one of her diamond brooches to my bouquet. My something borrowed was my Matron of Honor’s hair clip that she wore to her wedding.

 

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Why did you choose this location for your ceremony?  My family has been vacationing in the Hilton Head/Bluffton area as long as I can remember and I have always loved the ambience of the Lowcountry, and it feels like a second home to me. Even though I am from New York, I’ve always loved the South—my hairdresser joked that based on the amount of volume and hairspray I kept asking for, that I am a really a Southerner at heart.

 

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The Ceremony

Berkeley Hall has become a special place for Colin and me as we’ve spent time there together—I love tennis and he loves to golf. We got married overlooking the 18th hole of the golf course—I joke that it’s how I got him to show up for the ceremony.”

 

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Your ceremony in three words.  Personalized, sophisticated, floral.

How did you go about planning your ceremony?  We met Reverend Joe for coffee at a cute little coffee shop in Savannah about a year before our wedding. We told him about how we met and our vision for the ceremony. He helped us create a ceremony that was perfectly tailored to us.

 

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What was your ceremony music?  We kept the ceremony music fairly traditional choosing “Canon in D” for the processional, but we spiced it up with the music before and after the ceremony. The recessional music was “Today Was a Fairytale” by Taylor Swift and exit music was “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, which we loved because it is unexpected and beautifully played on the violin and cello.

 

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Who officiated your ceremony?  Reverend Joe was recommended by Amanda Spencer, our wedding planner. He had been a Catholic priest, but he fell in love and got married. We loved that he could incorporate both a religious and secular aspect to the ceremony.

What were your ceremony readings?  Colin’s two sisters read excerpts from The Alchemist.

 

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What were your vows like?  We wrote our own vows. We wanted them to be reflective of the our relationship and the qualities of love and commitment that are most important to us.

Did you include any traditions in your ceremony?  Not necessarily a tradition, but we asked Reverend Joe to read notes we had written to our respective future in-laws, thanking them for raising the amazing person we were about to marry.

 

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What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony?  I loved the moment I had with my father before we walked onto the aisle together. So much anticipation, excitement and love. I also loved the moment when Colin and I were announced, I could barely contain my excitement and did everything I could to stop myself from skipping down the aisle.

 

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What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding?  Hire a wedding planner! I love planning and details and I was very involved, but it was so nice to have someone else to get advice from, run ideas by and to make sure that everything went smoothly.

 

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What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  I wanted it to be tasteful, elegant, but most of all, fun! The first vendor I chose was our band because I knew it would set the tone for a crazy, sweaty dance party.

 

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The Reception 

“A friend of mine who had just gotten married told us not to leave each others’ sides all night. It’s so easy to get separated and to have completely separate memories of the night. We were with each other all night and our memories of our wedding reception include one another and the great time we had together.”

 

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How would you describe your reception?  Elegant, chic and fun!

 

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Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception.  We surprised guests with a Gullah choir singing lively tunes during the cocktail hour. It was completely unexpected for our largely New York-based crowd.

Did you have a signature cocktail?  The specialty cocktails were named after our hometowns. Mine was the Cold Spring Harbor iced tea—I grew up on Long Island in a town called Cold Spring Harbor. Colin’s was the Okoboji Breeze as he grew up in Okoboji, Iowa.

 

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Menu: Cocktail hour: passed hors d’oeuvres of shrimp and grits / tuna tartar tacos / fried chicken in waffle cones / watermelon and feta with fresh mint // 1811 Salad: mixed baby greens tossed with vanilla vinaigrette topped with grilled pear, sun-dried cherries, candied pecans, gorgonzola cheese, miniature grape tomatoes and a toasted herb crostini // Choice of Entrée: miso marinated Chilean sea bass with lemon caper butter sauce / roasted red potatoes / sautéed seasonal vegetables / grilled filet mignon with rosemary demi-glaze / roasted red potatoes /broiled stuffed tomato / twin quinoa stuffed peppers with eggplant, onions and topped with feta cheese and sun-dried tomato-basil sauce

 

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What type of cake or dessert did you serve?  A 5-tier Amaretto cake with buttercream icing. We also served small Southern-inspired bite size desserts: mini pecan pies, s’mores bites, and lemon cheesecake bites.

What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance?

First Dance: “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You” by Frankie Valli
Father/daughter: “My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw
Mother/son: “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

I took 20 dance lessons (10 with my dad and 10 with Colin) prior to doing our dances and we (mostly I) had such a great time with them. We were able to have some fun while showing off our new dance moves!

 

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What was your favorite moment or part of the reception?  Right before we did our sparkler exit, Colin and I took a moment to stand outside together and take everything in.

 

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Photography: Virgil Bunao / Venue, Catering:  Belfair Plantation in Bluffton, South Carolina / Event Planning & Design: Spencer Special Events / Floral Design: A Floral Affair / Dress: Oscar de la Renta / Veil: Custom designed by bride via Wedding Salon of Manhasset / Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaid Dresses: Amsale / Groom’s Attire: Ralph Lauren / Stationery: Studio R Design / Hair, Makeup: Christine Stephens, Karisma Salon / Cake: Minette Rushing Custom Cakes / Ceremony musician: Alyssa’s Trio / Cocktail Hour Musician: Voices of El Shaddai / Band: Big Blast and the Party Masters via East Coast Entertainment / Videography: Cinema Couture

Spencer Special Events and Virgil Bunao are Snippet & Ink Select vendors. This post contains affiliate links. 

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Sarah and Eric chose an outdoor wedding in May for the blooming flowers and beautiful trees. Instead, Boston got the worst winter they’ve ever had with more than 3 feet of snow on the ground! To their surprise—and luck—the snow melted, the sun came out, and they had the greatest day of their lives. We love the warmth and joy this wedding brings, and we know you will too!

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What was the best advice you received as a bride? Be present! This includes during the wedding planning process, up until you walk down the aisle. It is so easy to get lost in all of the planning, but I always tried to bring it back to where I was, and spend quality time with my love, even if it was labeling envelopes.

 

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Do you have any budget tips for other brides? My advice is to pick the 2-3 vendors that matter most to you, and allocate your costs with those in mind. Also, don’t be scared to negotiate! This doesn’t always mean a dollar discount, but it can mean a “value-add” like a complimentary engagement session, free delivery, etc. These things can add up, and all you need to do is ask.

 

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What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding?  Use spreadsheets, use the tabs, and stay organized! My husband is a master Excel user, and this was our home base for wedding planning. Also, stay true to you. There are many people who have opinions about what you should do. Be graceful in how you handle these comments, but always remember that the decision in between you and your significant other.

 

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Sarah wore the blush Tamsin gown from BHLDN, and carried bright a whimsical bouquet of bright flowers, citrus, and fern which beautifully popped against her dress.

 

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The Ceremony

“I’m a west coast girl who grew up on a citrus and avocado grove in Southern California. After moving to Boston and falling in love with a handsome New Englander, I knew I wanted our wedding to exude a west coast vibe amid a quintessential New England venue. Enter the John H. Pierce House, a cheery estate home in Lincoln, a couple miles down the road from where Eric was born and raised. This venue has charming victorian features, but is also a blank canvas for the DIY bride, allowing me to truly carry out my vision. That vision included citrus, and a lot of it! I chose a blush and gray palette, so that the orange citrus could pop against wedding party attire, as well as the decor.”

 

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How did you go about planning your ceremony?  My childhood pastor from when I grew up in California was able to fly in to do the ceremony. He coached us through designing the ceremony.

 

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Your ceremony in three words.  Cheery, romantic and fun

What was your ceremony music?
Bridal Entrance: “Moon River” There is something about this song that is so hopeful and romantic. Once I imagined walking toward Eric with this instrumental music in the background, I couldn’t get anything else out of my head.
Processional: “Canon in D” by Panchelbel
Recessional: “Viva la Vida”

 

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Fat Orange Cat | Snippet & Ink Fat Orange Cat | Snippet & Ink

 

What were your ceremony readings? We chose readings from Ecclesiastes and from The Alchemist. The Alchemist is one of my favorite books, and this part spoke to both of us:

“When he looked into her eyes, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke – the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. Because when you know the language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.”

 

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What were your vows like?  We chose traditional vows. One thing that was important to us was that we share words with each other before we said our vows. The words were short, but personal, and was a great way to add a level of intimacy to the ceremony. This was special, and definitely a memorable part of the day for us.

What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Looking down the aisle and seeing my soon-to-be husband. I’m a wedding photographer, so I understand the pros and cons to doing a first look. For me, it was important to not do a first look and share that intense eye contact as I walked toward him to start our life together. That was unreal!

 

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The Reception

“Our reception was magical and uplifting. Our guests told us that it was beautiful, but also relaxed and fun—which is exactly what we wanted.”

 

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Did you include any other traditions in your wedding?  As a photographer, it was important for me to showcase all of the older wedding photos from both sides of the family. It’s beautiful to see the beginning stages of family, and it served as a reminder to everyone what weddings are all about—the love and the start of a family and future.

 

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Fat Orange Cat | Snippet & Ink Fat Orange Cat | Snippet & Ink

 

What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? West coast meets east coast. To bring a west coast vibe to this traditional east coast venue, I brought in citrus, a throwback to my childhood. I was especially drawn to kumquat trees, and incorporated them around the venue, including on large whiskey barrels where the placecards were. We chose to make our signature cocktail a blood orange mojito, and even sent guests away with muddlers adorned with our signature drink recipe. Our friends and family use these muddlers all the time!

 

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What was your wedding menu? The menu focused on summer-geared food including a summer salad with citrus, fresh vegetables and a selection of meats.

Did you have a signature cocktail? To tie in with the citrus theme, we chose a blood orange mojito.

 

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Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? One of the highlights from the decor were the vintage brass candlesticks with tall taper candles. I hand-sourced all of the candlesticks, and I think they really helped tell the New England side of the wedding story. I also sourced all of the vintage glass vases used as centerpieces. These were set on a terra cotta pot saucer to weave in that west coast feel.

 

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What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Our dessert table featured traditional New England whoopie pies, and west coast-style churros. If you are from the east coast, this was likely your first time eating a churro. If you are from the west coast, the whoopie pie was a treat! The cake was a beautiful, rustic carrot cake—it was delicious.

 

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What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance?
First dance: “The Way You Look Tonight”
Father/daughter: “Vienna” by Billy Joel. This song sums up what my father has been telling me my whole life—slow down, and enjoy the ride.
Mother/son: “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts

 

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Fat Orange Cat | Snippet & Ink Fat Orange Cat | Snippet & Ink

 

What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? When we started into our first dance, and they announced that instead of the planned first dance song, they would play the song Eric wrote and composed for me, especially for the wedding. I’ll never forget that moment. I hope one day, if we have a daughter, she will dance with her father to that very song. After all, weddings are all about family and that beautiful dance we call life.

 

 

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Photography: Fat Orange Cat Studio / Venue: The Pierce House in Lincoln Center, Massachusetts / Day of Coordination: The Little Things / Dress: BHLDN / Sash: David’s Bridal /Bridesmaid Dresses: Alfred Angelo / Shoes: Betsey Johnson via Zappos / Suit, Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A Banks / Floral Design: Sweet Annie Floral Design / Makeup: TADA Makeup / Hair: Heather Bilek / Stationery: DIY by the Bride / Catering: Vinwood Caterers / Cake: DeeDee’s Bakery / Whoopie Pies: Topsfield Bakeshop / Churros: The Taco Truck / Rentals: Come Rain or Shine, Boston Rustic Wedding Rentals / Ceremony Music: Mozart Academy / DJ: BE Wedding Entertainment

This post contains affiliate links. 

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