These Brides Pulled Together Their Destination Elopement in a Charming Pocket Park in Just Two Weeks
Personal ads on Instagram brought Karen Hall and Jessica Comer together, and the South played a big part in their long-distance romance. "A few weeks after we started messaging, we both drove about four hours to meet halfway in person," says Karen. "Our first date was three days long in Birmingham, Alabama, and we've been together ever since." Their second date was a bit longer—a week. "It started in New Orleans, and ended at the Atlanta Pride Parade," shares Jessica. "We've had a lot of relationship milestones in big southern cities. Birmingham, New Orleans, Atlanta, Knoxville, and Louisville."
They added another southern city to that list years later: Charleston was set to be the scene for a short beach vacation, but the pair decided to turn the trip into their wedding weekend, instead. "We knew we wanted to get married sometime in 2020, but the coronavirus was really complicating life (an understatement)!" says Jessica. "We had planned a vacation for June 20, and that seemed like a great date to get married—so we just decided to do it!"
They secured local photographer Sacia Matthews and an officiant, then headed to South Carolina without a venue in mind. "We got to Charleston the day before we got married," says Karen. "Neither of us knew the city at all." The pair quickly did their research, determined to marry in a park that was free of civil war monuments. "It was important for us to get married somewhere that reflected our values," explains Jessica. "We also didn't want to get married inside, because of COVID-19, lack of time to book, and also the stodginess of eloping indoors." Approximately five hours before the vow exchange, the couple found the park that was just right for their event. "We picked up some food from a small restaurant for lunch, and checked the map for a green patch to picnic at," Karen says. "When we got there, it was perfect. It was a small pocket park in the middle of a neighborhood. It had pretty trees and plants, a fountain in the middle, and from what we could tell from our research, no shady history."
The best part of their elopement? It reflected them perfectly. "I wanted something that was just about us, our love, and our style," says Jessica. "Being able to kind of wing it and only pick the things that were important to us was perfect. We're not generally very traditional so this was very on brand for us." Karen is particularly proud of the fact that the event was low-key. "I am not the type to stress over a lot of details," she shares. "I wanted it to be as simple as possible. I only wanted good memories—no stressing about flowers, RSVPs, vendors, and budgets. Looking back, I would not change a single detail about it."
Karen and Jessica selected their ceremony site, Allan Park—a small pocket park in the middle of a quiet Charleston neighborhood—a few hours before the vow exchange took place.
Sealed With a Kiss
The brides took a moment to take in their surroundings and each other before tying the knot.
A Custom Duster
Karen ordered a basic cotton jumpsuit online and paired it with an embroidered duster that she made herself. "I originally wanted to wear a suit or jumpsuit; then I saw an embroidered duster on Instagram and knew I wanted to make one," she says. She bought a length of embroidered fabric and used the "Quince" pattern by Seamwork to fashion the delicate overlay. "It was feminine, but not in a way that made me feel like I was playing dress up," she says. "I felt like myself."
Short and Sweet
Jessica purchased a lovely white shirtdress in a light cotton fabric with eyelet embroidery from ModCloth. "The design was called 'Sheer Joy' which I thought was quite appropriate!" she says. "I wanted a dress that wasn't too frilly or feminine. I loved the mandarin collar and that it was lightweight and shorter in length, since we were getting married in Charleston in the summer heat."
The couple's bouquets were crafted by Jessica and featured flowers from their very own garden. "Plants are really special to me, especially ones in my personal garden, so it was really meaningful to design and arrange our bouquets," she says. "Since I cut them from our yard, everything was seasonal." The arrangements featured pink hydrangeas, purple coneflower, yellow yarrow, purple lavender for fragrance, and pink mimosa foliage for a cascading leaf. "I also included Japanese maple leaves because they are Karen's favorite trees; gingko leaves from a tree that my mom grew from seed; and fig leaves, because we're now The Figs!" adds Jessica, referencing the couple's last name. "I also pulled a couple of palm leaves and sea oats from around Charleston to give a nod to our location."
Vintage Engagement Rings
Months prior, Karen had proposed with a vintage opal-and-garnet ring; Jessica proposed back two weeks later with an opal ring—a family heirloom.
The central fountain in Allan Park anchored their ceremony site and provided a tranquil vibe.
A Romantic Ceremony
Witnessed only by their officiant, Sheilah Larsen, and photographer, Sacia Matthews, the ceremony was short and sweet, complete with custom vows and a touching piece written by Sheilah.
"I included lyrics from the Brandi Carlile song 'I Belong to You' in my vows," says Jessica. "We've seen her in concert twice and really love her music, and the words from that song really summed up our relationship." Karen's vows were styled in the format of a personal ad, as a nod to how the couple met.
Crowned with Blooms
During the service, Jessica wore a delicate crown of flowers that Karen fashioned for her.
After they were officially wed, they slipped on their gold bands. Jessica's ring was her late maternal grandmother's wedding band; Karen had hers made by Knoxville jewelry designer ACF Jewelry.
An Informal First Dance
Karen and Jessica danced sans music after the ceremony.
The pair topped their wedding cake with fresh figs in honor of their new last name. "We didn't want to take one name or the other or hyphenate, so we decided to come up with a new one," Jessica explains. "We tried out different options for several months by listing them on a dry erase board and feeling them out—but none of them seemed quite right. One day I came up with Fig and we just knew it was the one! Both of our grandparents had fig trees in their yards when we were growing up and the fruit itself is a common sign of femininity."
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