This Elegant Wedding Happened on New Year's Eve, but Its Color Palette Is Perfect for Fall

bride and groom in doorway with florals
Kaity Brawley

When Emily turned 33 in June of 2020, her then-boyfriend, Dave, had a careful plan that ended with a sparkling surprise: "He said everything would be in threes that day," she says. "After dinner at my favorite restaurant, he took me home to our first house that we had together and he gave me three birthday gifts—the ring was in the third box. It was perfect!"

The couple moved ahead with planning a small wedding for December 31, hoping that COVID-19 wouldn't derail their plans. "I always wanted to get married on New Year's Eve, because I loved the romantic thought of celebrating the wedding on the holiday and then waking up in the new year as a married couple," says Emily. "At the time, we didn't realize COVID would still be going so strongly at the end of 2020." They relieved some of the planning pressure by choosing a venue that wouldn't alter its capacity guidelines (her family home in Naples, Florida) and kept the guest list tight to create a safe environment.

"When we decided to get married in December, Naples was our first and only thought," says Emily. "We love it there and it felt more true to us to do something outside. We really wanted it to be more of a celebration of our marriage; we wanted to focus on us and get married, rather than planning a big wedding. We loved the idea of a short, intimate ceremony, an amazing dinner, and then an unofficial house party-feel to ring in the new year. Other than the few people that we wish could have made it, it was exactly as we imagined!"

01 of 19

Black and Bronze

wedding invitation suite with warm hues and leaves
Kaity Brawley

A paper suite from Script Me Pretty made an elegant first impression with bronze script, a modern monogram, and black envelopes. Black ribbons calligraphed with guests' names and tied to fresh pears served as place cards.

02 of 19

Expert Opinions

bride in a-line wedding gown
Kaity Brawley

Emily, who owns the Atlanta and Charleston Lovely Bride shops, spends her days surrounded by wedding dresses. "I thought it would be very difficult to pick my gown, since I have been working in bridal forever and have tried on hundreds of dresses through the years and I work with some of the most talented designers in the world," she says. "A few days after we got engaged, I was at the shop alone and just tried on one gown and knew right away that it was what I wanted to get married in! Easy. One and done! It felt right." Her choice: a Suzanne Neville gown with a flowing silk organza skirt and plunging neckline. She also chose a second garment for the reception—this time, setting up a formal bridal appointment with her best friend and having her mom join on Zoom for a more traditional experience—landing on a customized Katherine Tash dress. "That was super easy, as well," she says. "I wish all of my brides in my shop had it as easy as me making that decision!"

03 of 19

Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

bride and mom getting ready
Kaity Brawley

Emily's mother provided borrowed jewels, which the bride paired with a turquoise Mociun ring as her something blue, and a new veil and headband gifted by colleagues at Untamed Petals. "I love that veil so much—it is perfection!" she says. "To walk down the aisle, I carried a bridal bible—my grandmother carried it down the aisle at her wedding as well as my mom and other family members. It was my something old and was very special to me."

04 of 19

Going Green

groom showing off patterned suit lining
Kaity Brawley

Dave ordered a bespoke Hockerty three-piece suit in forest green, with a floral liner and contrasting floral tie. "My cuff links had compasses on them," he says, "[which] not only represented my love for adventure and the outdoors, but also finding my direction in life."

05 of 19

Welcome Home

doorway decorated with florals
Kaity Brawley

At the home's entry, arched wooden doorways were framed by large-scale floral installations, previewing the garden-inspired aesthetic inside.

06 of 19

Marriage Mindset

bride and groom first look by doorway with florals
Kaity Brawley

Emily and Dave chose the front entry as a backdrop for their joy-filled first look. "I was excited to see Emily and start the wedding day!" says Dave. "I was just so happy and couldn't stop thinking about how beautiful Emily looked." For Emily, seeing Dave before the ceremony helped calm her nerves. "Dave looked so handsome, and we were both so steady and calm and everything just felt so right," says Emily. "I'm a very emotional person, so beforehand I really focused on being grounded and present. I wanted to get in that headspace so that so that during the day I could take in every moment. And that's exactly what happened!"

07 of 19

Outside In

ceremony seating with flower petals on the ground
Kaity Brawley

Emily and Dave chose to hold their ceremony on the home's covered patio, where five arched doorways flooded the space with light—while enclosing it for a more intimate feel. Kaleidoscope Floral covered the ceiling with hanging flowers and greenery in the emerald, rust, and bronze shades of the couple's color palette, while pale orange petals covered the aisle.

08 of 19

Altared State

ceremony flowers at altar against white backdrop
Kaity Brawley

On either side of the altar, flowers overflowed from vessels placed on minimalist bronze stands, while tall arrangements were designed to mimic blooms growing up from the ground into heavy drapes.

09 of 19

Ring Me

Bride and groom exchanging vows
Kaity Brawley

Emily and Dave wrote their own vows, which they exchanged privately before the ceremony. "Since I am so emotional, I knew I would be sobbing and a teary mess if I tried to say my own vows at the ceremony—but we still wanted to write them," says Emily. They also chose to include a blessing of the rings, during which they passed their wedding bands around to everyone in attendance before placing them on each other's fingers. "Knowing that the rings that we wear everyday were touched and blessed by both sets of our parents and closest friends feels so significant and special," says Emily.

10 of 19

So Happy Together

groom putting on wedding band with bride
Kaity Brawley

After their intimate ceremony, the newlyweds prepared for a five-star dinner and a relaxed after-party—while reflecting on their future. "What I loved most about writing our vows in the vow books we got is that there is a lot of extra pages," Dave says. "I'm looking forward to continuing to write vows as we grow together and as a family."

11 of 19

Sips and Small Bites

specialty cocktail at happy hour
Kaity Brawley

Emily and Dave continued the pear theme of their décor by serving white pear sangria as a signature cocktail. Passed appetizers included roasted grape crostini with crème fraiche, arancini, grilled oysters, duck confit banh mi, and tuna tartare.

12 of 19

Home Sweet Home

wedding cocktail hour by pool
Kaity Brawley

Holding the wedding at the bride's parents' home gave the entire day a cozy, personal feel. "It felt like us, which is the vibe we were going for," says Dave. "It was comfortable and intimate."

13 of 19

Understated Elegance

escort cards on wooden stands with candles
Kaity Brawley

A simple escort display included black cards—adorned with gold wax seals and black ribbons—listing guests' names and seating assignments alphabetically.

14 of 19

Hanging Around

wedding reception table with canopy of florals
Kaity Brawley

Emily and Dave turned the ceremony area into a dining room, where the overhead florals added drama after dark. Seeing it all come together was one of the bride's favorite moments: "Previewing the space after Kehrin and her team had flipped it for dinner, Dave and I were blown away with how beautiful and perfect it was," says Emily.

15 of 19

Perfect Pear-ings

table setting with wooden chargers and pear with name on ribbon
Kaity Brawley

Pale, bone-colored linen tablecloths contrasted against oversized mahogany chargers, while brass and black flatware coordinated with metallic bread-and-butter plates. Black-and-white napkins, black menus, and golden pear place cards added rich winter texture, while ranunculus, garden roses, and eucalyptus centerpieces lined the table.

16 of 19

On the Menu

crab wedding food
Kaity Brawley

As self-described foodies, Emily and Dave put much of their effort into finding a caterer who could create a memorable meal. "We wanted to incorporate our favorite things, and also tastes of where we live, Charleston, and places we've travelled, and to share that with our friends and family," says Dave. The menu from Tastebuds included dinner rolls with shallot chive butter, smashed lobster and pea timbale, and an entrée choice of beef tenderloin or gnocchi.

17 of 19

Memorable Moments

bride and groom give toast at reception
Kaity Brawley

For Emily and Dave, sharing the meal with their closest friends and family—and hearing sentimental speeches from their parents—was a highlight. "Sitting down for dinner, surrounded by our best friends," says Emily, "Dave said, 'Wow, I hope I never lose my memories.' One of my favorite moments of the night."

18 of 19

Up All Night

bride and groom cutting the cake
Kaity Brawley

Before cutting their carrot cake from Sweetified, Emily changed into her second gown and added a gold-and-pearl headband. After dinner, the couple switched from live music to a playlist the bride made for the first dances and late-night party. "Since our New Year's Eve after-party was not DJ'd, I really got to set the tone of the night with music that reflected us and was able to play certain songs that were special to us or our guests," says Emily. "It was so fun!"

19 of 19


bride and groom seated at the head of the table with guests
Kaity Brawley

Photography, Kaity Brawley
Wedding planning, Jet Set Wed
Tastebuds Custom Catering
Kaleidoscope Floral
Curtis Kennedy Films
Script Me Pretty
The Electric Mud
BBJ Linen; Niche Event Rentals; Party Time Rentals and Special Events
Bride's gown,
Suzanne Neville (ceremony); Katherine Tash (reception)
Bride's accessories,
Untamed Petals veil and headband; Alexandre Birman shoes; Jeffrey Campbell shoes
Hair and makeup,
Duality Artistry
Groom's attire,
Groom's accessories,
Bride's rings,
Diamonds Direct
Groom's ring,
Groove Life

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