A Romantic Courtyard Wedding at a Historic Charleston Venue

Couple walking together in road in front of rustic building
Sacia Matthews

The day Xan Lewis moved to Chicago from Minneapolis, a friend invited him out for a drink with a few friends; meanwhile, Angela Crocker was about to move from North Carolina to Chicago and was visiting the city to look for apartments. Angela and Xan's mutual friends planned to meet up, and the group visited several bars before saying goodnight. But the next night, Angela and Xan ran into each other at another bar by chance, and made sure to exchange numbers before they left.

They began a relationship that lasted through their move two years later from Chicago to the Bay Area, and two years after that from the West Coast to Brooklyn. As they toasted their successful move on a December evening at home in New York, says Angela, "Xan asked, 'Would you ever want to get married to someone like me?' Given he was so casual, I joked in response, 'Of course I want to marry you.' He then slid down to one knee and pulled out a ring from his pocket and said, 'Alright, so let's do it.'"

Since Angela and Xan love to travel, they initially planned to organize a destination wedding in Cabo or the Caribbean—but Xan's father's chemotherapy meant they needed to stay closer to home. "Our friends would be coming from all over the U.S., so we started researching destinations that would have a fun, tropical drive like Cabo, but would be more accessible for our family in Virginia and North Carolina," says the couple. They landed on Charleston, South Carolina, and chose historic Gadsden House for their ceremony and reception for 141 guests on March 7, 2020. They added a welcome reception; an after-party at a downtown club where their wedding DJ joined them to continue providing music; and a farewell brunch to maximize the time they spent with their loved ones.

"Our vision was for it to be a celebration for our family and friends, centered around our love," says the couple. "It was important that it didn't feel too formal and that our guests could feel that the day wasn't about the act of getting married, but that it was about how much we loved each other, our families, and every person that was there."

01 of 16

A Perfect Fit

Bride wearing a slightly fitted, lace, off-the-shoulder gown
Sacia Matthews

After a memorable weekend trying on wedding dresses in New York City with her mother, sister, and future sister-in-law, Angela knew she wanted a slightly fitted, lace, off-the-shoulder gown. She couldn't forget a fit-and-flare silhouette she'd found at local boutique Pantora Bridal—but it didn't have lace or shoulder straps. "Pantora was the only place that would allow me to literally take the lace of one of their gowns, put it on the silhouette of another, and add straps, so I ended up going back and ordering a custom gown that had everything I wanted," says Angela. "It wasn't complete until January"—just two months before the wedding—"and when I put it on it was perfect and everything I wanted."

She secured her updo with a sparkling hairpiece also from Pantora, and wore her mother's pearl earrings to polish off her look.

02 of 16

Band Show

Bride with custom infinity band and diamond solitaire engagement ring
Sacia Matthews

The bride ordered a custom infinity band to match her diamond solitaire engagement ring—both from Xomox Jewelry.

03 of 16

A Little Princess

Bride with flower girl
Sacia Matthews

Angela and Xan didn't want a full bridal party, but they did ask Angela's niece and nephew to serve as ring bearer and flower girl. He wore a blue vest that matched Xan's jacket, while she dressed up in a floor-length tulle gown from Pantora Mini. "She took too-big piles of flowers from her basket at the beginning," says Angela of her flower girl's journey down the aisle, "and ran out in the first three steps."

04 of 16

Blue Mood

Groom in custom powder blue dinner jacket and black tuxedo pants
Sacia Matthews

Xan stood out in a custom powder blue dinner jacket paired with black tuxedo pants from Suit Supply. Chic loafers and a sentimental accessory—his father's cuff links—completed the look.

05 of 16

Together at Last

Couple in front of door with horse
Sacia Matthews

Before the ceremony, the couple met at Gadsden House for their first look and portraits. "I think we were just excited to see each other in our attire," says Angela. "We had put so much planning into it and the weekend, so we were excited for the moment where it finally came together. Xan immediately told me I looked sexy in my dress and I thought he looked amazing."

06 of 16

Her Beautiful Bouquet

Bride with bouquet of garden roses, ranunculus, astilbe, lisianthus, delphinium, and larkspur in shades of ivory and blush
Sacia Matthews

Angela's hand-tied bouquet from Creech's Florist included garden roses, ranunculus, astilbe, lisianthus, delphinium, and larkspur in shades of ivory and blush—plus a variety of foliage that created a wild, asymmetrical shape.

Angela and Xan consider themselves slightly nontraditional, since they opted not to have a bridal party or a plated dinner, but those choices made the day incredibly special in the end. "Be yourself and don't let anyone tell you the way things 'should' be done," says the couple. "There's a lot of social pressure to do things a certain way, but it's most important to stick to your values and what's most important."

07 of 16

Music Notes

Bride and father during wedding processional
Sacia Matthews

Instrumental versions of classic hip-hop songs played while guests took their seats in the courtyard, and Xan entered to an instrumental take on "International Players Anthem" by UGK—"not the most traditional song you would expect," says Angela. Her father escorted her to the altar to Chrisette Michele's "A Couple of Forevers," kissing her on the cheek as they reached the altar.

08 of 16

Great Wall

Couple getting married in ourdoor courtyard
Sacia Matthews

A wall of rich green boxwood centered between two brick pillars created a backdrop for the couple's vows. They added café lighting and a cascading floral garland to personalize the space, while gold stands holding structured blush-and-ivory arrangements defined the aisle entrance.

Angela's brother, Nathan, officiated the couple's ceremony, which included some of their favorite scriptures and personalized vows. "I mentioned in my vows that I wanted to go first because one of the reasons I love Xan is he always keeps me on my toes and I'm just not sure what he's going to say or do next," says Angela. Xan's vows didn't disappoint: He performed a spoken word piece. "It definitely brought a smile to my face and there were many moments where I was cracking up," says Angela. "They were so different and unique and perfectly Xan."

  • When Is the Right Time to Hire Your Wedding Officiant?
09 of 16

Happy Family

Couple with family during photos
Sacia Matthews

At the cocktail hour, passed appetizers included oysters on the half shell with Champagne mignonette and lemon, mini chicken and waffle with bourbon glaze, honey baked ham sweet potato biscuits, and fried green tomatoes. The newlyweds gathered their extended family for a few quick portraits on the patio before joining the rest of their guests.

10 of 16

A Dreamy Location

Round tables with cushioned seating and chairs
Sacia Matthews

Angela and Xan worked carefully with their planner, Jessica Laskow of Yoj Events, to find a location that fit their vision. "It was important for us to find a venue that was not associated with a painful past or romanticized the antebellum era," says Angela. "However, I am from North Carolina and did want something that had some southern charm." The inviting atmosphere and wide, classic porches of Gadsden House made it an ideal choice. "She found a place that was romantic, accommodated our party size, and provided the environment where our guests would feel relaxed and ready for a good time," says the couple.

At the reception, a central pedestal held an overflowing floral arrangement of Italian ruscus, parvifolia eucalyptus, and pale florals in a large white urn, while upholstered benches provided intimate seating for the head table. Gold chargers and flatware added a delicate gleam to blush-colored linens, while unobtrusive white hemstich napkins kept the place settings subdued.

11 of 16

Be Our Guest

Round tables with simple greenery and petite lanterns
Sacia Matthews

Smaller guest tables were placed around the property—including on the wrap-around porch and inside, to accommodate the couple's loved ones. Simple greenery and petite lanterns topped each one.

The couple turned to King Street Hospitality for a menu that included grilled steak, salmon with lemon caper sauce, and gnocchi with pesto cream. "The easiest part was also the most fun: Food and music," says the couple. "Either one of us could have gone to the tasting alone and we would have some back with the same menu. We love oysters, steak, and southern delicacies—like fried green tomatoes and biscuits—so we were completely aligned there." Instead of cake, Angela and Xan offered three desserts: key lime tartlets, chocolate tartlets with sea salt caramel, and banana pudding.

12 of 16

Raise the Bar

White shelving holding glasses
Sacia Matthews

The bar also served as a pretty focal point of the party; shelves of glassware were draped with lush greenery vines.

13 of 16

From the Heart

Family members making toasts to couple
Sacia Matthews

During the evening, several members of Angela's and Xan's families took the microphone to present emotional toasts. "My sister, Xan's brother, and both of our parents made toasts and they were so heartfelt," says Angela. "Very rarely do you get to hear the people you are closest to talk about how special you are to them and it meant so much to us."

  • Who Should Plan to Give a Wedding Toast?
14 of 16

On the Dance Floor

Couple during their first dance
Sacia Matthews

The newlyweds chose Amber Mark's "Love Is Stronger Than Pride" for their first dance. "We just really both love that song," says the couple. "We have a lot of memories from being on vacations around the world, sitting on a balcony or a beach, and we always end up playing it."

Angela and Xan agreed that music was a critical part of the wedding, so they suggested some of their favorite songs to DJ Smartz from Other Brother Entertainment. "We have similar enough taste in music that sitting down to come up with the different vibes of the night was easy. We treated it like what we would play if we were just hanging out at home on a Saturday night," says the couple.

15 of 16

Party Time

Couple in second reception outfits
Sacia Matthews

Before leaving for the after-party, Angela changed into a sequined jumpsuit from Retrofete and Xan put on a black Eton shirt, white Paige jeans, a black fitted cap, and animal print Air Jordan 3 sneakers. "Coming out in our second outfits and really getting the reception going was a huge highlight, because that was the signal that it was time to party," says the couple. "The energy carried us all the way through the after-party."

16 of 16


Guests holding sparklers over couple
Sacia Matthews

Photography and Videography, Sacia Matthews Photography
Venue, Gadsden House
Event Planning, Jessica Laskow, Yoj Events
Catering, King Street Hospitality
Flowers, Creech's Florist
Stationery, Minted; Zola
Music, DJ Smartz, Other Brother Entertainment
Rentals and Lighting, EventHaus
Bride's Gown, Pantora Bridal
Bride's Accessories, Pantora Bridal hairpiece; John Hardy bracelet; Badgley Mischka shoes
Hair and Makeup, Brides by Zarielle
Groom's Attire, Suit Supply
Transportation, Carolina's Executive Limo Line
Bride's Reception Jumpsuit, Retrofete
Lashes, nV Lashes
Groom's Reception Attire, Eton shirt; Paige jeans; Nike sneakers
Guest Book, Artifact Uprising
Nails, Shespolished
Rings, Xomox Jewelry

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