This is probably one of our favorite weddings yet! Not only is it utterly beautiful, but bride, Whitney, shared so many special details with us on top of those you see in the photos. She and Vince were incredibly thoughtful about their wedding day, from choosing a date that was meaningful to their parents, to writing their own vows (you can read those right here), to including a special hors d’oeuvre as a surprise for the groom. Read on and be inspired!
Says Whitney of their beautiful choice of venue: “My mom and step dad purchased property in Palmetto Bluff a few years ago. Upon our first visit, we immediately fell in love and started dreaming of the perfect wedding weekend. We live in Chicago, far from most of our friends and family, so we imagined spending a ‘mini vacation’ with our loved ones. We wanted everyone to fall in love with the place like we did, and take advantage of the many activities the resort has to offer (riding around on bikes, playing golf, kayaking, etc.) during their down time. Once we got engaged there was really no other location where we could imagine getting married. The reception and ceremony were in the same location. We wanted the guests to feel as if they were on vacation for the weekend so we kept everything within walking distance to avoid asking guests to drive around. This was also a great way to have everyone all together for the entire weekend.”
“To me, it didn’t matter where within the property we said our “I do’s” but as we began the planning process it became increasingly clear that it was important to my husband for us to marry in a chapel,” says Whitney. “The Waterside Chapel at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff was too perfect to look anywhere else.”
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? My something old, borrowed, and blue all came from jewelry leant to me from my mom. I wore a blue ring from my great grandmother, which was worn by both my grandmother and mom on their wedding days. I also wore earrings my mom wore when she married my step father. I was honored to be wearing family pieces.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? Shamefully, I’m too much of a perfectionist to do any DIY. The closest I got were the amazing welcome bags my mom put together, which included local Southern favorites like Hilton Head Popcorn, Bluffton Brittle, and Grits Bits to give everyone a “taste of the South”.
Did you do a first look? Yes! Because we wanted our candlelit ceremony to take place while the sun was setting our photographer encouraged us to do a first look. Hesitant at first to see one another before the ceremony, we are both so happy we decided to do it! The day went by so fast, and it was so nice to get a few special minutes to ourselves before everything began.
“We asked our dear friend to officiate the wedding, so we worked closely with him and his wife to write it. We had several meetings to discuss the outline, and what was important to us. From there we compiled the words we wanted for the marriage intentions and ring exchange, and our friend wrote the address for us. We left portions of the ceremony up to him so that it felt natural. We did a ton of research on writing your own wedding ceremonies, and combined our favorites to make something unique and meaningful to us.”
Your ceremony in three words. Intimate, romantic, emotional
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? Because we were removing religion from our ceremony, we felt it important to include ceremony traditions like our intentions to marry, exchange of the vows, and the ring exchange. We also included a poem by Taylor Mali, “How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog” (which was perfect for us dog lovers) and the Blessing of the Hands.
What was your ceremony music? We hired an amazing father/son duo (The Bob Williams Duo) from Charleston. (They also played during cocktail hour and dinner. They continued to impress us and really set the mood for the rest of the night.) Bob and his son play the violin and classical guitar, and are able to play everything from Pachelbel to Guns N’ Roses. We wanted the music to sound classic, yet have that fun twist we were striving for throughout the weekend. While people were coming into the chapel we wanted popular music that would be recognizable with beautiful acoustics, so the Prelude included songs like Jack Johnson’s “Better Together”, Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine”, Phish’s “Farm House”, and Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” // Seating of the Parents and Grandmothers: Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” // Bridal Party Processional: Train’s “Marry Me” // Bridal Processional: Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” // Recessional: Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”
What were your ceremony readings? We wanted the ceremony to be about our love for one another and the family we were about to start. We each have one living grandparent (our grandmothers) who both unfortunately lost their loved ones. We asked each of them to stand up and give their advice, or words of wisdom, on what makes a successful and happy marriage. It was such a unique and personal twist. // Some of the advice shared included: Live your lives honorably, so that you may respect yourself, and, in turn can be respected by your partner; Talk to each other and be sure to listen to what your partner is saying; Never go to bed angry; Practice random acts of kindness; Commune around your table with family and friends, sharing your talents and conversations, and let that table become a symbol of the love and respect you have for one another…”
What were your vows like? We wrote our own vows, and are both so happy that we did. We wanted the ceremony to be personal and really capture the love we have for one another and felt that was the perfect way to do so.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Oh, our favorite thing…there were too many favorite moments! Looking back on our wedding weekend, the ceremony was by far our favorite part. The personal touches we put into it really made it so special and unique. We’ve had numerous guests tell us that our wedding ceremony was the most perfect, personal, and intimate ceremony they’ve ever witnessed and we are very proud of that.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? One of my favorite details from the entire weekend was a surprise for my grandmother. Unfortunately my grandfather passed away in late 2013. While we were saying our goodbyes, Vince and I spoke to him at length about missing the wedding. The three of us planned to surprise my grandmother and frame a photo of him (he picked the photo) to attach to her bouquet. We did this so he could “walk her down the aisle” even though he wouldn’t physically be there. I’ll never forget the smile on his face when we brought the idea to him nor the emotions the story brought to my grandmother on our wedding day when I handed her the bouquet. This small act perfectly represented the love my grandfather had for her, and it was so special to incorporate that love into our wedding.
Why did you choose this date for your wedding? Growing up I always dreamt of a wedding in the summer (my favorite season), but we ended up choosing to get married in the fall due to the continued importance of family throughout our planning. All three sets of parents have an anniversary in the first week of November, so we set our date (11.8.15) so we could always celebrate our anniversary together with our families.
“In planning our wedding, we were inspired by the Lowcountry. We wanted to embrace the scenery and really compliment it in our color palette and décor. The Inn at Palmetto Bluff is a beautiful resort located along the May River, and we wanted to complement the venue without overtaking the natural beauty. We chose the neutral colors of succulents (grays, green, pinks, purple hues) to complement the marsh. The resort is simple in its décor, and beautiful in its design. And that’s what we wanted our wedding to mirror.”
What was your wedding menu? When we were conceptualizing the menu with the catering team from the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, we wanted to capture some Southern favorites while also pulling in some seasonally appropriate family traditions. For our starter we served a butternut squash soup with fried veal ravioli and parmesan. I grew up eating butternut squash soup at Thanksgiving, and this Palmetto Bluff version was just delicious! We then served a salad coming from a family recipe (mixed greens with spiced pecans, chevre, and hot cider dressing). I didn’t want to fuss about which guest was eating what, so we served a dual entrée. It was a dish of grilled local grouper with Carolina gold dirty rice and charred okra alongside a filet mignon with a potato croquette, truffle hollandaise, and grilled asparagus.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We served a custom wedding cake from Minette Rushing which pulled in all of our favorite flavors. It was a vanilla pound cake covered in buttercream with raspberry preserve and chocolate ganache.
Guests were directed to their tables with a seating chart written in white ink on the panes of a free hanging window.
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. During our cocktail hour I surprised my husband with cheesesteak spring rolls, an ode to our Pennsylvania roots. My sister was married at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia a few years ago where they served an hors d’oeuvre so good that my husband still talks about it to this day. I called the chef from the Four Seasons and he gave me the recipe (I’m so thankful). I worked with our wedding coordinator and the chef from the Inn at Palmetto Bluff to surprise him with the cheesesteak spring rolls. It was so fun to watch him realize what he was eating!
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? When we played “Shout”… TWICE! A song favorite from our wild college days, playing it once was not nearly enough. After such a crazy rendition the first time (my husband and I were both tossed up in the air) I begged the band to play it again at the end of the night.
First Dance Song: “You Make Loving Fun” by Fleetwood Mac
Step-Father/Daughter Dance: “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King
Mother/Son Dance: “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder
Father/Daughter Dance: “Brown Eyed Girl” Van Morrison (We used this dance to kick-off the dancing: after 2 minutes we invited everyone out onto the dance floor. It was a fun way to really get the dance party started!)
What was the best advice you received as a bride? A dear friend told us to take a moment for ourselves at some point in the night, and really take it all in. There likely won’t be another time in our lives where we have our closest friends and family there to celebrate with us. The day goes by fast and we were so happy we got to embrace quiet little moments, just the two of us. // And our wedding planner encouraged us to stop worrying about everything after our last meeting (the Thursday before), because at that point everything would be out of our hands. She suggested this so that we could enjoy ourselves and really feel like guests at our own wedding. While I didn’t quite finish everything I wanted (I still have cards for my bridesmaids sitting at home), I was stress-free the entire weekend and was really able to enjoy myself as if I was a guest. It was amazing!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Don’t get so caught up in all the little details! Throughout the planning process there were a few details (i.e. invitations) that I became so obsessed about. Seriously, I spent months approving the invitations (when in looking back the first version was just as beautiful as the final product). I was striving for “perfection” in so many ways. And when you do that you lose sight of the bigger picture, you aren’t as prepared when things don’t go exactly according to plan (they won’t). // In the end, our wedding day was perfect. Not because of my dress, or my obsession over our invitations, or the color coordination we had down to the groomsmen’s socks. It was perfect because I got to marry the man of my dreams, and celebrate with all of our loved ones.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? Our wedding story would not be complete without telling about our welcome dinner on Friday night. With family and friends traveling from all over, we wanted our guests to feel like they were on vacation and an integral part of the wedding activities. Rather than a typical rehearsal dinner, we had a welcome dinner where all guests were invited. We wanted to really set the tone for the weekend, so to kick off the festivities we took our guests on a sunset boat ride to a remote location. To embrace the Lowcountry we hosted an outdoor oyster roast, lowcountry boil, and barbecue full of our Southern favorites. Guests were entertained throughout the night by live country music (some guests even got up and sang with the band!), dancing, toasts, cornhole, and a seven-story treehouse. It was so fun to get to spend two incredible nights with everyone!