These Childhood Sweethearts Tied the Knot in a Colorful, Industrial-Style Wedding in South Carolina

bride and groom wedding portraits kissing in field
Sacia Matthews

When Kiaya Demonbreun first met her future husband, Aaron Walters, in middle school, a mutual connection—and an unlikely snack—ultimately brought them together. While the two went to rival private schools, they were first introduced on common ground (in a gym lobby) by Aaron's cousin—who also happened to be a friend of Kiaya's. After sharing a bag of Skittles that day, the two have been nearly inseparable ever since.

Personal moments like this set the stage for other milestones in their relationship—markedly their engagement almost 15 years later on January 1, 2019. "There were no lights or decorations; it was just us on our porch," Kiaya explains. After ringing in the new year together with close family, Aaron took the moment to highlight his favorite memories of the last 12 months, expressing excitement for what was to come. "He mentioned how 2018 was the first year I got a Coca-Cola bottle with my name on it, which he had bought that past May. He patted my leg to head inside and I looked at the stars a little bit. When I turned around, he was on one knee, asking me if I would be his unique bottle forever," says Kiaya. "Naturally, I screamed and said yes. It was absolutely perfect and intimate. I loved every moment of it."

The duo knew from this point on that they wanted their wedding day to echo their story and the people who were a part of it—which informed their venue choice. Kiaya and Aaron quickly settled on Central Energy in Columbia, South Carolina, after seeing the outdoor ceremony space and finding a special connection to how they met. "It was even more of a sign that this had to be our venue when we found out the co-owner is [a] Heathwood alum—my alma mater," the bride adds. The duo enlisted Melanie Murphy with By Invitation Only... shortly thereafter, who brought the rest of the big-day details to life—and helped them keep their nuptials on track as the novel coronavirus pandemic swept the world.

Even in the midst of COVID-19, the duo found joy in the little things as their 150-guest event held on March 21, 2020, became one for 40 of their innermost group. But their story had always been full of plot twists, notes Kiaya. "Aaron has always told me that we're a rom-com in terms of our relationship," she shares. "We met in seventh grade through a wild series of events that would ultimately make us best friends for the rest of our lives."

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Beachy Wedding Invites

blue, pink and white wedding invitation suite
Sacia Matthews

Kiaya and Aaron wanted their wedding day to take them down memory lane to some of their most cherished times at the beach, so the duo chose a color palette that reminded them of their seaside trips and infused the shades into their décor—starting with their invitations. They added burnt coral and Mediterranean blue hues to their customized suite from Minted and finished off the set with a playful font.

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Bliss with the Bridesmaids

bride and bridesmaids in matching loungewear
Sacia Matthews

A highlight, according to the bride? Relaxing in coordinated pajama sets with her bridesmaids to start the day at the Hotel Trundle. "We had so much fun. I also adored our outfits," Kiaya shares. "So chic, and they perfectly matched the wedding."

The bridesmaids donned rusty rose dresses from Lulu's for the ceremony. "I loved the romantic sleeves of another dress in this color, but this style was consistent [with my own dress] and still different, so I loved it. Each girl looked gorgeous," she adds.

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Yes to the Dress

bride in white lace wedding dress in colorful room
Sacia Matthews

While Kiaya always knew she wanted to wear a Pronovias wedding dress on her big day, her journey took her to New York City to find the perfect one. After an unsuccessful first appointment, she shifted gears for her Kleinfeld consultation, which she attended with her mom, co-maids of honor, and godmother in tow. "I think my heart skipped a beat. It was absolutely everything I wanted," Kiaya recalls of the shopping experience. After trying on three gowns, she found what she was looking for; she just saw herself walking to her husband in the figure-hugging sheath, complete with lace appliqués, she says.

The bride completed her look with Kendra Scott earrings and a waterfall bouquet filled with apricot ranunculus, thistle, and blush panda anemones.

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Suit and Tie

groom in blue suit with pastel pink bow tie
Sacia Matthews

As for the groom? Aaron donned a custom suit from Indochino that matched the event's color scheme exactly. The Mediterranean blue ensemble featured tan buttons, floral lining, and a personalized monogram that paid homage to his love for video games. He finished off his attire with rose gold Kendra Scott cuff links, complete with black pearl accents—a wedding gift from Kiaya.

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Surrounded with Love

couple kiss during portraits with wedding party
Sacia Matthews

While the two note that wedding planning was stressful at times, watching their vision come to life on the big day made any pain points worth it. "Trust your spouse is ultimately doing the best that they can," Kiaya advises other couples going through the process. "Help each other grow. It's the very first thing you tackle as an almost-married couple and it's beautiful if you let it be."

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Unique Bridesmaid Bouquets

bridesmaid in coral dress holding lantern bouquet
Sacia Matthews

"The idea for the bridesmaids' bouquets came from an Instagram post," Kiaya explains of the unique arrangements. After spotting a photo of a lantern filled with blossoms and greens, she knew it was the perfect choice for her right-hand women. "I wanted something that was simple, [but made a] statement."

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An Emotional First Look

bride and groom hugging during first look
Sacia Matthews

Aaron was nervous before the couple's first look—but once it finally came to pass, he couldn't wait for his fiancée to become his wife. "I thought she looked beautiful and elegant, and I was super excited to marry this pretty lady," the groom shares of the moment on the outdoor stage at Central Energy. "Afterwards, I was ready for the ceremony to be over so she could be my wife already."

Kiaya felt the same way—and her nerves almost made her forget the vows they planned to share with each other privately. "Aaron said his spontaneous vows right after our first look," she says. "I was so shocked and touched, that I could only come up with part of mine."

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A Ceremony to Remember

bride and groom holding hands during ceremony while wedding party looks on
Sacia Matthews

After the wedding party processed into the ceremony space to Beyonce's "Dangerously in Love," Kiaya made her way to the altar to the singer's ballad "Smash Into You," arm-in-arm with her father. "Our florist, John Gray Events, created this arch for us out of copper, greenery, ranunculus, and anemones." Lanterns with candles and greenery marked the aisle and nailed home the theme, Kiaya adds. "The backdrop to the ceremony was an industrial site, so it just tied it all together."

The guests watched from walnut wood folding chairs, which were arranged with social distancing in mind. "Chairs were set in clusters of three to allow family members to sit together and friends to distance if they wanted," the bride adds.

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The Right-Hand Men

groomsmen and ring bearers in blue at wedding ceremony
Sacia Matthews

Groomsmen matched Aaron in Indochino suits and accessorized with blush bow ties from The Tie Bar. "They picked out their own tan shoes and some wore wingtips with me—including my best man, brother, and cousin," Aaron notes. The younger members of the wedding party dressed in pieces from Dillard's that matched the beachy-blue hue featured throughout the décor, too.

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DIY Perfection

guests mingling at wedding reception in industrial space
Sacia Matthews

The couple adorned their reception's tabletops with large and medium geometric lanterns and copper tea lights. "The tea lights were originally gold, but I spray painted them rose gold," Kiaya says of the big-day DIY. The community table held five clusters of three-bud vases and were topped—post-ceremony—with the bridesmaids' bouquets.

The duo practiced social distancing during their party, too—just six chairs were placed at each circular table (the duo followed restaurant guidelines in their area) and made sure there was a minimum of six meters between each station.

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Up High

large reception centerpieces with ferns and flowers
Sacia Matthews

Taller centerpieces, filled with fern fronds, eucalyptus, and thistles, were placed on copper stands and marked each food station.

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Take a Twirl

wedding couple first dance in industrial space
Sacia Matthews

Kiaya and Aaron took to their first spin to "Best Part" by Daniel Caesar featuring HER. "Aaron picked out the song," Kiaya shares. "We made a deal. I got to pick what I walked down the aisle to, and he got to pick the first dance." Aaron says the tune perfectly expresses his feelings about his bride.

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Copper Cake

white and gold wedding cake with geometric risers
Sacia Matthews

The dessert table, draped in a patterned cloth, showcased the couple's three-tier confection; the top and bottom tiers were composed of pound cake, with a champagne-flavored layer in the middle. White and copper-colored icing topped off the treat.

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groom kissing bride's hand during first look
Sacia Matthews

Photography and Videography, Sacia Matthews
Venue, Central Energy
Catering, Loosh Culinair
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Melanie Murphy with By Invitation Only...
Flowers, John Gray Events
Invitations, Minted
Officiant, Elliot Hawkins
Bride's Gown, Pronovias via Kleinfeld Bridal
Jewelry, Kendra Scott; MVMT
Shoes, Dillard's
Hair, Alter-Image Bridal Hair & Make-Up, Inc
Makeup, Kimberly Mocks
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Lulu's
Groom's Attire, Indochino; JCPenney; The Tie Bar; Kendra Scott
Groomsmen's Attire, Indochino; The Tie Bar
Engagement Ring, Moseley Diamond
Wedding Bands, Unforgettable Fine Jewelry
Guest Books, Sip Hip Hooray
DJ Puff; Renaldo Wilson
Cake, Ally & Eloise Bakeshop
Rentals, Party Reflections
Sip Hip Hooray
Transportation, First Class Limo
Lighting, Ambient Media SC
Wedding Party Hotel, Hotel Trundle
Ring Box, Mrs. Box

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