Pastel Florals Were Everywhere at This Couple's Springtime Destination Wedding
After they "both swiped right on Bumble" in April 2019, Shonda and Rob figured out they had been living in the same neighborhood for years. "We went out for drinks and ended up talking late into the night before we realized we never got around to eating dinner!" says Shonda. "We knew right away that this was something special and moved in together three months later." After a year of dating—and mid-pandemic—Rob and Shonda were both working from home and had just finished a DIY kitchen renovation when Rob popped the question. "We realized that if we didn't kill each other during all that then we could make it through anything," says Shonda. "Rob proposed a month after our one-year dating anniversary in our brand-new kitchen with an amazing pear-shaped diamond ring."
As they began planning their dream day, they wanted to prepare for any obstacles COVID-19 might present, so they agreed on a destination wedding in the United States and a 20-person guest list. They booked the Governor Thomas Bennett House in Charleston, South Carolina, for April 22, 2021 (exactly two years to the day after their first date). "Charleston was our first trip together and the city we wanted to be married in," says Shonda. "As soon as we saw the Thomas Bennett House, we knew it would be perfect for our intimate wedding. The house and grounds are beautiful and full of southern charm. We pictured a beautiful table and al fresco dinner up on the porch where we could all relax and enjoy the evening."
The wedding-day décor revolved around lavish floral displays, including a lush arch, a rich bouquet, and arrangements bursting with coral, pink, lavender, and peach blooms—a taste of spring for guests flying in from chillier regions. "We really wanted a party with lot of gorgeous colorful flowers and southern charm," says Shonda. "Our guests were transported to a beautiful garden full of amazing flowers while it was still cold and dreary back home."
Invitations from Margaux Paperie set the tone for the wedding's aesthetic with delicate watercolor blooms framing traditional script.
Shonda's bouquet from Fresh Weddings and Events incorporated all the primary floral themes of the day. "It was very full, relaxed, whimsical, and colorful, with coral charm peonies, lilac, lavender-and-blush sweet peas, ranunculus, hellebore, and roses," she says.
Before finding her lace mermaid wedding dress from Lulus, Shonda chose a very different style—and immediately had second thoughts. "I originally went shopping with my future mother-in-law mid-pandemic and only went to one boutique," she says. "I ended up getting a big ball gown, but as soon as I got home, I regretted my decision—but it could not be returned. I even got it altered, but it still wasn't what I wanted." Unwilling to settle, she continued searching for a less fussy gown. "I envisioned something more relaxed and easier to move around in," she says. "This was so soft and comfortable and the lace was lovely. I knew I would be happy wearing it all night."
Rob donned a blue suit with a subtle texture and contrasting lapel trim, which he accented with a blush-colored tie, brown shoes, and two meaningful accessories: "He wore a Hamilton watch, which I got him for our first Christmas," says Shonda, "and pineapple socks in honor of Charleston."
At the ceremony site, two small seating areas faced a pretty arch laden with coral charm peonies. "I wanted a very lush, colorful arch to anchor the ceremony spot and serve as a focal point," says Shonda. "We added bright, colorful flowers in pink, peach, and lavender to complement the amazing coral color."
Lining the Aisle
"The few rows of chairs in the garden gave an intimate feel and were flanked with more florals on the aisle's sides," she says.
The couple's ring bearer, one-year-old Ethan, wore suspenders and a bow tie with his white shirt and dark pants. His family helped him down the aisle—and prevented a last-minute disaster: "Ethan kept trying to toss the ring pillow into the fountain!" says Shonda.
Shonda's two-year-old niece, Norah, and Rob's six-year-old goddaughter, Madison, wore matching dresses with lace bodices and blue tulle skirts. "Norah's flower crown kept falling down over her head the whole way down the aisle because she is so small," says Shonda. "She also stopped halfway to show Madison her pink nail polish. The adorable flower girls and ring bearer were so cute and funny."
The couple's bridal party included Shonda's sister and two groomsmen; they all wore shades of blue. Shonda and Rob exchanged vows under a canopy of trees in a custom ceremony performed by the groom's best friend: "He did quite a bit of funny ad-libbing, and at the end, being a diehard Cleveland Browns football fan, said, 'By the power vested in me by the great state of South Carolina and our lord and savior Baker Mayfield, I now pronounce you man and wife!'"
As the Bob Williams Duo played "Happy," Shonda and Rob left the altar as husband and wife.
So in Love
The newlyweds chose several backdrops for their portraits, including a blush-pink wall that highlighted their color scheme. "My best advice is to not get caught up in trying to please everyone else," says Shonda. "Obviously, you want all the guests to have a great time but you can't please everyone all the time. Focus on what you want the wedding to be."
Setting the Bar
At the cocktail hour, bartenders served drinks from behind a wooden bar framed by growing floral arrangements that showed off blooms in shades of lavender and peach. The menu included a grazing board of charcuterie and locally-made dips.
The couple's floral aesthetic even extended to their water pitcher, where brightly colored petals were frozen into the oversized ice cubes.
Dining Al Fresco
Because of their small invite list, Shonda and Rob chose to seat all their friends and family at a single long table. "Since we only had 20 guests, we treated the reception as a dinner party instead of a dance party," she says, "and focused on a beautiful table with delicious food, since we would be spending the majority of the time eating and talking at the table."
Bright and Beautiful
Low centerpieces in white footed vessels were placed along a white crochet runner. The coral charm peonies and pastel accents—backed by vibrant green foliage—coordinated with the other floral designs throughout the event. "Our family and friends came to Charleston for the wedding after a long winter in Cleveland, so I really wanted the flowers to be vibrant and colorful and for everyone to enjoy the beautiful spring weather," says Shonda.
An Elegant Meal
Shonda and Rob incorporated multiple floral elements and extra candles to create the elevated dining experience they envisioned. "I ended up making my own menus with personalized wax seals and name cards attached in a light pink to coordinate with the napkins," she says. "The white crochet runner added brightness and texture, and the pink-and-orange floral linens were a beautiful touch."
The couple chose a nontraditional dessert: a two-tier lemon bundt cake drizzled with icing from Nothing Bundt Cakes. (The dinner menu also included a chocolate pot de crème with a coconut lace cookie for each guest.)
As the attendees lingered over a meal of wedge salad served atop apricot purée, filet with pinot noir demi glace, crab cake with lemon beurre blanc, sautéed green beans, and garlic spinach risotto from Duvall Events, they relished the moments that brought their families together. One of their favorite memories: "Our moms sat across from each other," they say, "and toasted across the table."
Photography, The Happy Bloom
Venue, The Governor Thomas Bennett House
Wedding Planning, The Petal Report
Catering, Duvall Catering
Flowers, Fresh Weddings & Events
Stationery, Margaux Paperie
Cake, Nothing Bundt Cakes
Music, Bob Williams Duo
Rentals, BBJ Linens; Ooh Events
Bride's Gown, Lulus
Hair and Makeup, Lashes & Lace
Rings, Brilliant Earth
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