This Two-Part Wedding Treated Guests to the True Beauty of Charleston
Rachael met Daniel at a restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2006, when she was on a first date—with someone else. "It wasn't going well," she explains. When she spotted a group of friends across the room after dinner, she went to say hello, and ended up joining them for the rest of the evening. "They introduced me to Daniel, their friend who had just moved to Arizona. Daniel and I talked and laughed for hours—we became best friends immediately," says Rachael. "One year later we were at a friend's engagement party and dancing up a storm when he took my hand and led me off the dance floor to catch our breaths. We both felt this crazy spark while holding hands and it was in that moment something changed—not only were we best friends, we knew we were in love." The couple moved from Arizona to New York after a year of dating, and "a short 11 years later," jokes Rachael, Daniel proposed by tying a ring onto the collar of one of their dogs. "Realizing what it was, I turned to look at Daniel, who was on one knee with a giant smile on his face and he said, 'I think it's time I ask you a very important question.'"
Rachael and Daniel decided on Charleston, South Carolina—one of their favorite places—for their ceremony and reception, but split the event up over two days: A ceremony and dinner at the William Aiken House for 40 guests on October 3, 2019, and a day to "soak it all in" before their tented reception on the banks of the Kiawah River for 120 guests on October 5, 2019. "Family and friends mean the world to Daniel and I," says Rachael. "We wanted an intimate ceremony with our immediate family only, followed by a still intimate dinner, but having our closest friends join as well. Then we had our reception two days later—a blow-out celebration with all our friends and family."
A Touch of Gold
The couple chose a "clean and modern" set of papers from Megan Bradley Designs, opting for dark gray save-the-date cards and a white cardstock invitations with gray painted edges. Contemporary calligraphy printed in gold foil added a subtle shimmer.
Her Dream Gowns
Rachael wore a different wedding dress for each event—both custom-designed and constructed by Guillermo Molina of Guillermo Couture. "After telling Guillermo about the ceremony and reception, he looked me up and down and simply sketched two dresses on a piece of paper," says Rachael. "I got goosebumps looking at them and knew I had found my designer!" For the ceremony, she requested a frock that was "classic, chic, and timeless" with a few unexpected details—like a high-low hemline, an open back, and pockets. She added a vintage blusher veil and borrowed pearl earrings from her mother.
The couple's intimate ceremony took place in a small stone and brick courtyard at the William Aiken House. Their florist, On a Limb, placed arrangements of dried lunaria behind a black platform, creating a focal point for the couple's vows; the chairs were angled to mirror the shape of the altar area.
Ready to Wed
They decided to save their first look for Rachael's walk down the aisle with her father, during which a string duo played Bruce Springsteen's "Secret Garden." "The way Daniel was looking at me—I will never forget that wonderful feeling," she says.
The New Mr. and Mrs.
Rachael and Daniel smiled and showed off their new rings after the ceremony, officiated by Reverend Doug Farmer, concluded. For the recessional, they chose "You Make Loving Fun" by Fleetwood Mac.
As the couple's guests sipped Veuve Clicquot at the cocktail hour, Rachael and Daniel posed for portraits around downtown Charleston—including in front of a theater marquee personalized for their big day. Rachael held a nosegay bouquet that included miniature phalaenopsis orchid, garden roses, and foraged vines.
Dinner al Fresco
For the post-ceremony celebration at the William Aiken House, the couple and their guests shared one long table covered in floor-length blush linen. Floral arrangements created a runner along the length of the table, while groups of pillar candles added a soft glow after sunset.
Long, low floral arrangements included plenty of roses and dahlias. "The floral palette was bleached, dried, and fresh blooms in shades of white touched with blush," says Rachael. "A palette of warm, neutral tones and tone-on-tone were paired for an elegant, residential feel."
More candles glowed from an outdoor pond near the table. "We turned the pond into a focal area," says Rachael, noting that the display was inspired by a glowing lily pond.
Love Is in the Air
After a three-course meal that included salad, a choice of caprese ravioli or she crab soup, and an entrée of braised short ribs and a crab cake, the couple and their friends and family enjoyed s'mores and gelato for dessert.
For the full reception two days later, Rachael and Daniel opted for a tented party on the Kiawah River. "It is so organically gorgeous that we wanted to keep the décor very organic to enhance the natural beauty," she says. The lunaria arrangements from the ceremony lined a walkway into the tent, while live oaks sporting hanging Spanish moss created a stunning spot for overhead string lights.
Change of Clothes
Rachael and Daniel chose different outfits for the reception, though he wore the same Ralph Lauren bulldog slippers in a nod to the couple's pup. "For the reception I wanted a more 'fun' dress—this was for the night of celebration after all!" says Rachael. "Guillermo designed a floor length, long-sleeve dress with a straight neckline across through the sleeves; it was completely backless. It was gorgeous! He is an artist, a visionary, and one of the most talented designers a girl (or guy!) could ever hope to work with."
As the couple's guests arrived at the reception, servers passed trays of signature drinks that included a take on a Moscow mule made with cucumber-infused vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer; and a cherry bourbon cocktail that mixed bourbon, lemonade, grenadine, and soda water garnished with brandied cherries and a lemon twist.
Raising the Bar
A large bar, serving from all four sides, became a central spot within the tent—a choice the couple made to keep the focus on the party. "For the reception, we wanted it to be all about the celebration—great food, a great bar, and lots of dancing," says Rachael.
Take a Seat
Instead of formal tables, Rachael and Daniel set up lounge seating and cocktail tables throughout the reception space, both under the tent and outside it. A four-sided banquette got a few pops of color from bright red pillows, while the floral arrangements throughout the space continued the neutral color scheme but added burgundy and red accents for a more festive feel.
The couple asked Cru Catering to provide a menu of passed appetizers, including mini braised pork biscuits with bourbon-peach jam, fried green tomatoes, chicken and waffles, and mini lobster rolls—followed by small plate stations of praline-sage chicken, shrimp and grits, and beef Wellington.
Rachael and Daniel's wedding cake by Jim Smeal included flavors like crème caramel, chocolate Kahlua, and almond apricot amaretto. Inspiration for the leaf design and metallic finish came from an unlikely spot: an Art-Deco cut-glass trash can in the couple's planner's office. "It was the perfect tie in to our organic, understated décor," says Rachael. "You can truly find inspiration anywhere!"
Light It Up
Outdoor lounge areas included comfortable furniture and fire pits to give guests a respite from the dance floor, a bourbon bar with a custom laser-cut design, and draping string lights that created a stunning visual along the darkness of the river.
Photography, Julie Livingston Photography
Venue, The William Aiken House (ceremony); Kiawah River (reception)
Event Planning and Design, Reagan Events
Catering, Cru Catering (reception); Patrick Properties Hospitality Group (ceremony)
Flowers, On a Limb Florals
Videography, Isle Media
Officiant, Reverend Doug Farmer
Stationery, Megan Bradley Designs
Cake, Wedding Cakes by Jim Smeal
Music, Bob Williams Duo (ceremony); Deep Drawl (ceremony and reception); Rock With U (ceremony and reception)
Rentals, Crush Event Design; Snyder Events; La Tavola Fine Linen
Bride's Gown, Guillermo Couture
Hair and Makeup, Wild Ivory Beauty
Groom's Attire, Zegna
Groom's Slippers, Ralph Lauren
Lighting, Lighting Event Company
Transportation, Carolina's Executive Limo Line