Photography by Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay.
Oh my goodness, have we got a treat for you today! Especially when you realize how close it came to not happening, with heat waves and storms threatening right up until the day before. Just wait until you see this couple’s outdoor ceremony, timed perfectly for sunset. I mean… have you ever seen such gorgeous light? Then there’s bride McKenzie, a totally classic beauty in her dreamy Amsale gown, a reception softly lit by lanterns hung through the trees, and an epic dance party. My favorite part? Something you don’t see or hear enough of – it’s the feeling right at the end of your wedding day captured in one gorgeous photo by Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay. The newlyweds on their way home, exhausted but oh so happy… be sure to read right to the end to see what I mean!
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? Ryan and I have family and friends that live all over, so we wanted to choose a place that people would really enjoy visiting. I lived in Charleston for several years after college so it was a special and beautiful place to me, and Ryan got to visit and loved it too. I’ve always wanted an outdoor wedding so Charleston also beat Chicago (where we currently live) in terms of good weather in November!
What was your ceremony music? We had some amazing strings musicians playing some of my favorite classical songs. I walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D which was the one thing I always knew I wanted for my wedding.
Your ceremony in three words. Joyful, thoughtful, loving.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? When we first visited the venue I fell in love with the huge oak tree on the front lawn. I knew that’s where I wanted to get married and that everything else would just fall into place from there.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Scott Shelton, who was Ryan’s childhood Youth Pastor. He was an influential person in Ryan’s life and when I met Scott I felt an instant connection to him as well. It is truly a special thing when you have someone you feel knows you and your relationship leading you into marriage. In terms of our ceremony, I wanted to keep it fairly traditional, but include some funny stories from our relationship as well. Scott did a great job incorporating both.
What were your ceremony readings? Colossians 3:12-14 and 1 John 4: 7-12.
What were your vows like? During our ceremony, we exchanged traditional vows. (Ryan and I had also exchanged more personal vows to each other in letters before the ceremony.)
What was the best advice you received as a bride? The best advice I received was that everyone was going to have opinions on how things should be done, but to just remember it’s your special day and do what makes you feel the happiest.
How would you describe your reception? I wanted a simple and elegant design with lots of neutral colors and warm lighting to really just make everyone feel like they were at a garden party with some beautiful scenery. We had a sit down dinner and then just danced the rest of the night away!
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? I hadn’t put too much thought into what kind of wedding I wanted, as I really just wanted it to be a fun party for everyone. My mom and Ryan’s mom had some really great ideas and helped me a lot. We had an Event Planner & Designer, Meghan of Ooh! Events, who did a great job at helping to create and bring our vision to life.
Meghan adds: “everything was done in shades of white and ivory, including the flowers, though for these we included a whimsical pop of peach. We used hand painted birch slices for table numbers and hand tied napkins laid across gold-rimmed chargers.”
What was your wedding menu? We wanted to incorporate some southern foods and seafood since we were in Charleston, so we had a first course of She Crab Soup followed by mains of crab cake and short rib. We also served shrimp and grits and oyster appetizers that were really delicious.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had a beautiful, delicious cake with different flavored layers: Vanilla Cake with chocolate ganache and salted caramel butter cream / Almond cake with almond butter cream / Lemon Cake with lemon curd and lemon butter cream.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? Our wedding party was made up of a lot of our childhood friends so I put out two large wooden frames near the guest book that could hold some funny photos of us and our friends. I wanted to be able to show everyone’s goofy side outside of the formal setting. We also set out a polaroid camera that printed out sticker backed photos by the guestbook, so guests could take funny photos of themselves and put them beside their messages.
What songs did you choose for your father/daughter or mother/son dance? My Dad and I danced to Forever Young by Rod Stewart, and then Ryan and his mom danced to Somewhere Over the Rainbow. After a little while this turned into Shut up and Dance by Walk the Moon, and the wedding party came out and danced with them! I loved getting a special moment with my Dad during our dance.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Overall, it was that our reception was what we had always envisaged – a really fun dance party! Our band was amazing, so the dance floor was packed the whole night. Looking around and seeing friends from all different times in our lives and our families all laughing and dancing together was the best experience.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I do wish I had more time with everyone who was there, but we did have a brunch the day after so it was nice to get to spend a little more time with everyone and get to actually say goodbye to people.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Don’t get too stressed out about making everything ‘perfect’. The day will come and go and it will be one of the most amazing days you’ll ever experience, but the most amazing part of all is that you are getting to spend the rest of your life with the person you love.