One Couple's Personalized Fall Wedding in South Carolina

madeline brad wedding couple smile
Michael and Carina Photography

It's not often that a wedding beautifully masters multiple themes, but when one does, it's especially captivating. That was the case for Madeline and Brad's fall celebration. The black-tie event was undeniably formal but didn't shy away from rustic touches, including country motifs. "We would have to describe our wedding as a sophisticated southern affair with the understated elegance of autumn," the bride shares. We would have to agree.

"We wanted to show our friends and family how much they mean to us by having the very best food, drinks, and entertainment along with an atmosphere that was elegant and dreamy at the same time," Madeline explains. Shortly after getting engaged, the couple asked Meagan Warren to help them achieve their vision. Together, they planned a timeless event that centered around nature and tradition. The former inspired their rich color palette; the latter inspired their many meaningful touches.

Madeline and Brad officially tied the knot on November 4, 2017. Despite hosting 125 guests, the event felt surprisingly intimate. That's in part due to their warm, inviting color scheme and their relaxed reception setup. Above all else, though, the personalized details set their wedding apart from the rest. "Our wedding was special because we feel like it really portrayed who we are as a couple," Madeline says.

01 of 19

You're Formally Invited

madeline brad wedding stationery
Michael and Carina Photography

Madeline and Brad's stationery suite began with a custom save-the-date. It was adorned with the couple's pastoral crest by Lemontree Calligraphy & Illustration.

Their wedding invitations—which featured the whimsical script of Calligraphy by Request—were printed on white paper and tucked into matching envelopes finished off with a wax seal. The simple design balanced out the intricate save-the-dates.

02 of 19

Bridal Style

madeline brad wedding getting ready
Michael and Carina Photography

Madeline got ready with the help of her mother, pictured here fastening the bride's custom chapel-length veil.

"I wanted a classic, timeless style with a ball gown look that I can keep as an heirloom item and hopefully pass down in my family one day," Madeline shared of her wedding dress. "I love stories where brides wear their grandmother's dress and since I did not have anything like this in my family, I wanted to create a tradition." She found this lace-sleeved Barbara Kavchok "Grace" gown at the Columbia, South Carolina, bridal boutique London and Lace.

03 of 19

A Special Muse

madeline brad wedding shoes
Michael and Carina Photography

Some women don't select their bridal accessories until they're far along in the wedding planning process. Others, like Madeline, base their entire color palette around them. While browsing online, she stumbled upon these velvet shoes by Manolo Blahnik. As with the venue, she "just knew" the green heels were for her, so she ordered them on the spot. "After getting the bold shoes, the other pieces started falling together, including the bridesmaid dress color choice," she says.

Madeline also accessorized with her great-grandmother's earrings, which she borrowed from her aunt.

04 of 19

The First Look

madeline brad wedding first look
Michael and Carina Photography

"My most memorable moment was our first look. I can't remember when I've been that nervous and excited to see Madeline," Brad shared. "The sun was perfect, shining through the oak trees while I waited for her. When she was walking up behind me, before I turned around, her dress sounded like a ship's sail coming in. When I turned around, I saw Madeline looking as beautiful as I had ever seen her. It was really a great memory!"

His bride agrees. "It was such a special and personal moment for us to share with each other! I will never forget the way Brad looked at me the first time he saw me."

05 of 19

Beautiful Bridesmaids

madeline brad wedding bridesmaids
Michael and Carina Photography

Remember how Madeline based her color palette off her green wedding shoes? When it came to her bridesmaids' dresses, the rich color choice didn't disappoint. Each woman—all friends of the bride, aside from the maid of honor, her sister—wore the V-neck "Harper" gown from LulaKate in a stunning forest shade.

The ladies carried bouquets of peonies, hypericum berries, amaranthus, copper beech, roses, and pampas grass tied with trailing ribbons.

06 of 19

The Rings

madeline brad wedding rings
Michael and Carina Photography

Brad proposed with a platinum estate setting from the late 1900s and an antique stone from the same era. "Brad knew I really liked the look of antique filigree on rings and picked it out himself," Madeline explains. On the big day, she slipped a classic 14K-gold band from Benchmark with the wedding date engraved inside on to her husband's finger.

07 of 19

The Ceremony

madeline brad wedding ceremony
Michael and Carina Photography

The couple wed in front of a giant oak tree right. The top of the aisle was decorated with urns borrowed from Madeline's aunt. Each held arrangements of foxgloves, "antique caramel" garden roses, money plant seed pods, and red buckeye made by Côte Designs.

08 of 19

The Processional

madeline brad wedding processional
Michael and Carina Photography

Madeline and her father descended the house's steps for an elegant grand entrance to the sounds of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

09 of 19

The Main Event

madeline brad wedding ceremony vows
Michael and Carina Photography

Reverend Kevin Roberts led the ceremony, which Madeline describes as "not overly religious." Instead, they focused on a simple message: "one of love and happiness."

Clearly no strangers to sentimental touches, the couple opted for personalized ceremony music. "We had a dear friend, who is a vocalist, sing James Taylor's version of 'The Water Is Wide' accompanied by strings," Madeline shares.

Music was actually an important part of the entire event. Throughout the rest of the ceremony, a string quartet played songs by some of their favorite artists, from Stevie Wonder to Jeff Buckley to The Beatles.

10 of 19

Burying the Bourbon

madeline brad wedding pappy vanwinkle
Michael and Carina Photography

Brad, a bourbon enthusiast, decided to partake in the southern tradition of "burying the bourbon," which is said to bring couples good weather on the wedding day. He chose a rare bottle of Pappy Van Winkle for the ritual, which he thought would make things "extra special." He also custom-built the wooden box the whiskey was buried in, engraving the couple's initials and wedding date on it.

As per tradition, the bourbon was buried upside down on the venue's grounds a month before the wedding. The couple dug it up after their ceremony and shared it with their wedding party. Funny enough, the tradition seemed to work! "The weather was perfect," Madeline shared.

11 of 19

The Cocktail Hour

madeline brad wedding cocktail hour
Michael and Carina Photography

During cocktail hour, guests ordered drinks from an open bar and snacked on a tasty appetizer pairing: tomato-bisque soup shooters and grilled-cheese sandwich wedges.

As everyone enjoyed their refreshments, a violinist played classical music. John James Audubon art, from Madeline's mother's personal collection, served as meaningful décor.

12 of 19

Signed with Love

madeline brad wedding guestbook
Michael and Carina Photography

Guests wrote their well wishes inside an album from Artifact Uprising printed with the couple's crest from their save-the-date and a handful of engagement photos.

13 of 19

The Reception Setup

madeline brad wedding reception
Michael and Carina Photography

Come reception time, guests seated themselves at a mix of round and farm tables. The former came with ivory infinity-back chairs, while the latter came with aged iron benches with upholstered tops.

The reception space was also decorated with a chic lounge area, featuring two emerald velvet sofas and three round coffee tables between them. The al-fresco setting was finished off with enchanting café lighting.

14 of 19

The Wedding Centerpieces

madeline brad wedding centerpiece
Michael and Carina Photography

While no two reception centerpieces were alike, the Côte Designs arrangements stuck to the same autumnal color palette. This one, at the head table, included "antique caramel" carnations, cooper beech tree foliage, bronze amaranthus, and pheasant feathers. It was placed in a mercury-glass vessel.

15 of 19

Dining Outdoors

madeline brad wedding place setting
Michael and Carina Photography

White linen napkins with abalone-shell flower-shaped napkin rings adorned each place setting at the head table. Meanwhile, vintage pheasant-pattern salad plates sat atop vintage gold-rimmed chargers and dinner plates. The water goblets were also vintage and made from amber glass, while gold, hammered flatware added a bit more texture. The wedding party found their seats thanks to skeleton magnolia leaves calligraphed in gold.

Southern Way Catering served a whole barbequed hog alongside an eclectic mix of other rustic and comfort fare. Chicken poblano tacos and shrimp, ham, and gravy grits were among the menu items. Guests helped themselves at food stations.

16 of 19

An Unexpected Guest

madeline brad wedding painting
Michael and Carina Photography

The wedding venue's owner surprised the bride and groom with an event painter, Trahern Cook, who memorialized their reception in piece of artwork. Now, the painting hangs proudly in the couple's living room.

17 of 19

An Autumnal Dessert

madeline brad wedding cake
Michael and Carina Photography

Madeline and Brad's semi-naked wedding cake was decorated with pears, blackberries, and figs. A caramel drizzle made the dessert look even more scrumptious. The four tiers came in two flavors: sweet potato and pound cake. The couple's saving the top tier to share on their first anniversary—another wedding tradition.

18 of 19

The First Dance

madeline brad wedding first dance
Michael and Carina Photography

The couple took their first dance as newlyweds to "Lady Soul" by the Temptations. Later, they would join the band on stage as Right to Party played upbeat tunes. For their last song, they requested Prince's "Purple Rain."

19 of 19


madeline brad wedding couple hug
Michael and Carina Photography

Photography, Michael and Carina Photography

Event planning, Meagan Warren Weddings

Catering, Southern Way Catering

Flowers, Côte Designs

Videography, Cinema Couture Films

Officiant, VOW

Stationery, Lemontree Calligraphy & Illustration (crest); Print Shop of West Ashley (layout and printing)

Calligraphy, Calligraphy by Request

Cake, Bonnie Brunt Cakes

Music, EdgeWire Music (ceremony and cocktail hour); Right to Party via EastCoast Entertainment (reception)

Rentals, Ooh Events

Bride's gown, Barbara Kaychok from London and Lace

Bride's shoes, Manolo Blahnik

Hair, Kelli Hoff

Makeup, Deidre Outlaw

Bridesmaids' dresses, LulaKate

Groom's attire, Jos. A Bank tuxedo; J.Hilburn shirt

Groom's accessories, Benchmark wedding band; Allen Edmonds shoes

Lighting, Ambient Media

Transportation, Southern Valet

Event painter, Trahern Cook

Guest book, Artifact Uprising

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