Two Sisters Threw a Double Wedding in South Carolina
"If conventional wisdom says 'less is more,' Caswell wisdom says 'more is more,'" reads sisters Garner-Leigh and Jamie-Keith's shared wedding website. "This does not apply to acquiring material things but the nature in which we grew up," they continued, adding that being raised in a family of five girls was a full, loving experience—and that sisterhood is everything. "We are each other's soulmates, cheerleaders, burden-bearers, truth-speakers, heroes, and best friend."
When both sisters found themselves engaged at the same time, the idea hit them: "A double wedding is not only logical, but natural." (Plus, Garner-Leigh's husband Rob and Jamie-Keith's husband Thomas grew up together and have mutual friends!) The two couples say it best: "Why throw two small parties when you can throw one big one? (See: more is more)."
Garner-Leigh and Rob and Jamie-Keith and Thomas were married in their hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, on April 21, 2018. Wavering Place was able to accomodate the 450 guests for the outdoor, black-tie affair. "I'd say the guest list was definitely the hardest part, but once we got that done, the process was a lot of fun," Jamie-Keith says of including both their families and separate friends. She is younger than Garner-Leigh—who is the oldest sister of the five—by about three years. "It was so nice to have someone I love and trusted go through the process with me," Garner-Leigh says of planning a double wedding. "Jamie-Keith and I have very similar tastes so it was perfect."
The sisters lost their father to lung cancer in October 2008, and their family has been particularly close since—it's even expanded. They added a sixth sister and a brother when their mother re-married in June 2018. "Having our other sisters stand up there with us and our mom walk us down the aisle together was one of the best parts about the day," Jamie-Keith says. "It was a hard day not having our daddy there, but we felt such an overwhelming sense of love, and support, and the Lord's presence in that place."
The Older Sister
Garner-Leigh and Rob met in high school, but didn't start dating until after college while living in different cities. Though they resided in their hometown of Columbia when they married, they have since relocated to Danville, Pennsylvania, where Garner-Leigh is a nurse anesthetist and Rob is an emergency room resident. "We both graduated in May and got married in April," Garner-Leigh says. "It was a busy season."
The couple had been together for four-and-a-half years—and engaged for just under two—at the time of their wedding. As for their proposal story? Her sister was visiting from China, where she was taking a two-year-trip at the time; the family had planned her a birthday dinner. "My family, including Rob's parents, was gathered in the kitchen to pray before eating," Garner-Leigh says. "After the prayer Rob proposed in front of the people we love most. It was perfect."
The Younger Sister
Jamie-Keith and Thomas have known one another their whole lives and their families have known each other "forever." (Their moms are best friends, and Jamie-Keith's Papa recruited Thomas's dad to play football at South Carolina.) They re-met as adults in the summer of 2014, but parted ways in the fall. "But the very next summer, we rekindled things and have been together ever since," Jamie-Keith says.
Thomas proposed in December 2016. "I can usually read him like a book but he somehow pulled it off, and it was a complete surprise to me," Jamie-Keith says. She returned to her mom's house after a dinner with her family and their significant others, and Thomas got down on one knee and had a sign that read "Will You Marry Me?"
"It was perfect and exactly what I wanted," Jamie-Keith says. The couple now live in Columbia, where she is a public relations and marketing coordinator for an orthodontist and he is a professional golfer.
"We absolutely loved the stationery," both Garner-Leigh and Jamie-Keith say. "It was created on handmade paper from a village of women in India, and then our wedding coordinator hand-painted each piece with a silvery border to match the colors of the wedding."
Garner-Leigh and Rob and Jamie-Keith and Thomas chose Wavering Place in Columbia, South Carolina, for their wedding venue. The beauty was a draw, as was the space for a double wedding. "It was the only venue we toured and fell in love with," Jamie-Keith says. "We wanted to stay in Columbia because that's where we are from and where a lot of our friends and family are."
Nature set the event's tone. The couples filled the space with furniture and string lights to make it feel like as if they'd moved an indoors venue outside. Both Garner-Leigh and Jamie-Keith wanted soft tones in gray, ivory, green, pink, and blue. "The planning went really smoothly because we had a similar, if not the same, vision for how the day would look and feel. We wanted to celebrate each individual couple, but just do it at the same time," Jamie-Keith says. "It was the most fun thing I've ever done! The grooms were hesitant at first but were ultimately on board and wanted whatever we did. The four of us got to experience something so incredible, and it only strengthened all of our relationships."
Their April ceremony was on the last cool weekend before summer temperatures struck. "It was sunny but cool with a breeze," Garner-Leigh says. "One of the most perfect days I have ever experienced."
The Brides' Dresses
Garner-Leigh and Jamie-Keith bought their dresses from London and Lace Bridal Boutique in Columbia, South Carolina.
"This was one of the first dresses I tried on, and while I tried a handful more I kept coming back to this one," Garner-Leigh says. The cap-sleeved, sweetheart bodice extended in layers of lace to mid-thigh, where the gown fell softly with more lace detail and a small train. She accessorized with shoes found on Etsy and a veil and earrings from London and Lace. For her something borrowed, Garner-Leigh wore her Nana's tennis bracelet; her something blue was her Nana's old sapphire ring. "Rob gave me a beautiful silver bangle on our wedding day, and I wore that as well," she says.
Jamie-Keith "knew at a very early age that I wanted a fuller skirt with really tight lace sleeves," she says. "I just love the look and think if you do it right, it can look really timeless and classic." She tried on a handful of dresses before finding the right base. Then it was time to bring the vision to life with lace and satin alterations. She ended up wearing a pair of white sandals, but wishes comfort could have taken priority: "Honestly, I really just wanted to wear my Rainbow flip-flops because you couldn't see my shoes under my skirt," she says. "The shoes didn't matter to me at all." Her long veil incorporated the same lace as the dress. Jamie-Keith also wore earrings, also from London and Lace, and a single diamond necklace, a gift from Thomas the night before the wedding. "I was over the moon!" she says.
The First Look
Both couples shared first looks ahead of the ceremony. "We had to wait a few years to get married and our day had finally arrived," says Garner-Leigh. "It was a moment of excitement, relief, and most notably, gratitude."
Jamie-Keith and Thomas both say that this moment was a true big-day highlight. "We held hands while his back was still to me, and he just kept saying 'I can't believe it's here. I love you so much,'" the bride adds. The photographer counted down, and then Thomas turned around. "The look on his face when he saw me, I will never forget. It felt like it was only me and him in that moment. He spun me around and told me how beautiful I looked, and of course I was teary."
The Wedding Party
"Our wedding party was full of friends and family," Garner-Leigh says. "It was the people we felt encouraged and supported us to help us get to the point of marriage and also who will hold us accountable to the promises we made."
The bridesmaids wore dresses from LulaKate. The grooms and groomsmen donned tuxedos from Imperial Custom Clothiers. "They got to eat, drink, and get fitted while playing pool," Garner-Leigh says. Rob and his groomsmen wore black, paired with a tie for them and a bow tie for himself; Thomas and his groomsmen wore dark navy tuxedos. "He had 'TB + JKB 04/21/18' embroidered on the inside of his tux shirt, which I love!" Jamie-Keith adds.
The Ceremony Location
The couples were married beneath two large oak trees at Wavering Place. The brides' four sisters stood as maids of honor on one side during the ceremony and the two best men stood on the opposite side. "We figured that because we had such a large bridal party, that many people standing would take away from the moment and be distracting for the guests," Jamie-Keith says of the arrangement. "It worked out perfectly."
Both Garner-Leigh and Jamie-Keith credit their mom for making the day so special. "She is so talented and so generous in all that she did to make it so amazing," Jamie-Keith says. "It was the best day of our lives." Garner-Leigh agrees. "She has a gift of turning any space into something beautiful and inviting. She is not scared to think out of the box and has a great grasp on the way décor will make people feel."
So, it was fitting that she, her girls' "hero," walked both the brides down the aisle together to "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)," which turned out to be Rob's favorite moment of the day.
"Our ceremony was the most meaningful and important part of the day," Garner-Leigh says. "Everything else was a celebration of the promises made during the ceremony. Landon Thompson, a pastor at their church, officiated the 6 p.m. service. "It was extremely God-honoring, which was our first and foremost priority," Jamie-Keith says. The couples recited their church's special marriage vows. Making those promises was Garner-Leigh's favorite moment of the day. "We have them framed," Jamie-Keith says, because "they are so meaningful and such a big part of our marriage."
The ceremony ended around 6:45 p.m. The newlyweds made their way to family portraits while guests enjoyed cocktail hour.
A Cozy Lounge
The lounge areas were arranged for guests to "enjoy their drinks and food and fellowship," Jamie-Keith says. The brides' mom helped develop the inviting and beautiful aesthetic. Throughout the evening, friends and family shared video messages to be made into a virtual guestbook.
The Live Painter
The paintings were a gift from the sisters' "bonus dad" their step-father!), Garner-Leigh says. Both couples loved the keepsake—today, they hang in their homes.
The newlyweds slipped away for family portraits and, on the front porch, a meal. "It was a quiet moment where we all got to decompress and take a deep breath before the reception," Jamie-Keith says.
Meanwhile, beneath strands of string lights in the courtyard, guests gathered at high-top tables for the cocktail hour, which was filled with music by J'Michael Peeples. Sushi and charcuterie hors d'oeuvres were served, as were two signature cocktails: a "Twisted Sister" (the grooms' comical choice) and a berry mojito (in honor of the brides).
The reception was set up behind the Wavering Place house and began around 8 p.m.
There was no formal seating plan; guests were invited to choose their own tables. The sit-down dinner was catered by Southern Way Catering. A roasted chicken breast entéee was served with honey dijon and barbecue sauce and an arugula salad with feta, pine nuts, blackberries, and a strawberry balsamic dressing. The filet mignon feautured a bacon and dijon crust and was served with haricot verts in a vinaigrette with roasted mushrooms. Sweet and regular baked potatoes came with a medley of sweet and savory toppings.
The Table Settings
Candles and floral arrangements by Pagoda adorned the reception tables.
The greenery-covered bar was Garner-Leigh and Jamie-Keith's mom's idea.
Jamie-Keith and Thomas' First Dance
Jamie-Keith and Thomas couple chose "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz for their first married spin because "we just loved the words and we wanted something more slow-dancey."
"People tell you before you get married how quickly it goes by but until you live it, you don't really understand what they are saying. It's almost like you are in the twilight zone," Jamie-Keith says, reflecting on the big day. "There's so much adrenaline and it feels like a dream—you have to keep reminding yourself that it's actually yours. We wish we could relive our wedding knowing what we know now, so that we could take more of it in."
Garner-Leigh and Rob's First Dance
"Perfect" by Ed Sheeran played for Garner-Leigh and Rob's first dance. "When the song first came out we loved the lyrics and identified with the story," the couple says.
Next was the grandfather-daughter dance. "My granddaddy calls me Sunshine," Garner-Leigh says, so "You Are My Sunshine" was a special fit.
Dancing and Dessert
The venue's "Greenhouse" was the spot for busting out the wedding grooves to music by The Root Doctors. "We didn't put any tables or anything inside because we wanted to maximize that space for dancing," Jamie-Keith says. "We also cut the cakes under that archway with the beautiful florals."
The Icing on the Cake
"Having a double wedding was one of the best decisions we ever made," Garner-Leigh says. The do require teamwork, though—and Jamie-Keith advises "to only do it if you are okay with the spotlight not being on just you."
"It is crazy how many decisions have to be made," Garner-Leigh says of the wedding planning process. "It is very overwhelming. We tried to remind ourselves daily that at the end of the day we were getting married and that was most important. Everything else was icing on the cake."
As for the literal icing? The couples served simple, but delicious vanilla cakes with cream cheese frosting.
Fast and Fancy Favors
To close the evening, the newlyweds served Rush's cheeseburgers on silver trays as favors. Instead of giving something that would be thrown away, "we wanted to give them something to eat on their way out!" Jamie-Keith says. "It was a crowd pleaser." And it saved the day for Garner-Leigh. "One of my best friends and bridesmaids put some in our getaway car," she says. "Rob and I were starving when we got to our hotel. It was perfect!"
Photography, Jordan Thompson at Landon Jacob Photography
Location, Wavering Place
Catering, Southern Way Catering
Flowers, Ashley Smith at Pagoda
Videography, Joshua Rainwater
Officiant, Landon Thompson with Midtown Fellowship
Music, Root Doctors
Rentals, Ooh Events!
Brides' gowns, veils, and earrings, London and Lace Bridal Boutique
Hair and Makeup, Mikel Rumsey
Bridesmaids' dresses, LulaKate
Grooms' tuxedos and menswear, Imperial Custom Clothiers