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  • Elizabeth Edwards Bennett

A Charleston Bride

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Welcome, Friend!


Planning a wedding can be exciting, fun, and stressful all at the same time. ! I want to share all the big and little details of this special day. Hopefully, you will pick up a few tips to help you plan the best wedding. Enjoy, sweets!


I just got engaged, now what?


The first question I got literally one minute into my engagement party was, "So when and where do you want to get married?". Of course, I had dreamed of this day and what it would be like since I was a little girl. All of a sudden, I had no idea how to answer that question. I just needed to "be" for a minute and soak up the feeling of being newly engaged.


Before I write anything more, I would like to thank my mother for being so involved in helping me plan. I wouldn't have been able to plan this wonderful celebration without her. I feel so fortunate that we got the chance to do this together as I know that not everyone has that opportunity.


First, enjoy your engagement! Soak in that feeling and just "be" for at little bit!! I'm sure you have waited a hot minute for this day, or maybe you haven't, but nonetheless, bask in it. You'll never get these sweet moments back! Once you are ready to start planning, I would love to share with you what I learned along the way. Here are practical tips and advice for the first steps to take and the details of my big day!


 

The Venue


BEFORE you search venues, draft up a rough guest list. This will help you decide what size venue you need and narrow down your search.

Booking your venue determines the date you will get married and therefore your timeline. Different seasons have different decor styles and color pallets. Once you book your venue, you can start the search for your other vendors and have a better idea of what style, design, and aesthetic you are looking to create. It is important to know that certain months (especially April - October ) book very quickly, so you'll want to jump on this one early

Next, decide what "style" of wedding you would like to have. I wanted my wedding to feel like a "southern, yet timelessly elegant black-tie wedding". I had a vision of a southern, traditional wedding with a Charleston flair. I wanted my guests to feel the history and class of the beautiful city. Also, I sought out a venue that had character and style so all I had to do was dress it up a little. I didn't want to "transform" the venue.

After this step, choose what you want your venue to include. At first, I wanted a plantation wedding as I love the scenery and history of the South Carolina Lowcountry. The more I researched plantation venues, I realized I was going to have to outsource all my vendors because these venues tend to only provid the grounds. This led me to more of a "city" styled venue. It ended up being exactly what we wanted!

Some options that venues can include:

-Wedding planner

-Bridal and Groom Suites to get ready in

-Tables

-Chairs

-Glassware/china

-Food

- libations

-decor

These are just a few items a venue can offer. Figure out what is important to you as a couple/family and go from there!

The venue we chose is called The Cedar Room. It was PERFECT for us. It checked *almost* all my boxes. The Cedar Room provides tables, chairs, food and beverage "in house", an outdoor space for the wedding ceremony with an excellent rain backup plan and character since it use to be an old cigar factory back in the day! Plus, they had a Saturday in May and this was hard to come by since I was less than a year out! Dates go quick.




 

Wedding Planner.


After booking your venue, you will have a date and a direction for planning your wedding!! For me, the next biggest vendor was my planner. I knew it would be in our best interest as we do not currently live in Charleston, SC. I needed someone (or a team) who knew the city and could give me expert advice about which vendors to use and how to plan! I interviewed a few different planners and eventually went with the company Bouquets and Bowties.

Chauncey, Riley and their team are WONDERFUL!! I cannot say that enough. They brought my wedding vision to life. They were extremely organized, prompt and helpful. Figure out what you want in a planner! For me, the partial planning option was the best fit. I chose my additional vendors, but they helped me with design, florals, timeline and provided rehearsal and day-of coordination. Planners usually offer various packages! It ended up that Chauncey unfortunately became sick the day of the wedding and Riley took over coordination. Since they are such a great team, the day went so smoothly.


 

Photographer


I have adored photography and capturing moments of life ever since I was a little girl. Something about looking at a picture and being about to feel what you felt in that exact moment almost feels spiritual in some way, for me. This is why my photographer for my wedding was one of the the most important vendors I could book besides the venue and planner. I envisioned someone who could make us feel comfortable and had the ability to tell a story with a photograph. I interviewed many, many photographers and eventually decided on Brandon Lata for many reasons.

First, he is so relaxed. I could tell that it takes a lot to get him jossled and that's what we needed as we can become a bit stressed when the family is involved. Who doesn't ? Also, I wanted a natural hue to my photographs. Again, this tied into my "timeless" theme. I did not want to look back on my photos years later and regret that I chose a really warm/cold hue hue because these can go in and out of style. I wanted my photos to be natural, timeless and elegant.

My biggest tips to finding a photographer that is a good fit for yall as a couple is as follows:

  • Look at their galleries on their website to get a feel of the moments they like to capture

  • Check out their Instagram, read their reviews, search for any publishing of their work in magazines and social media posts to really understand what their photography style is

  • Have a phone conversation with them or even meet in person to get a feel for their personality! This will help you decide if you "click" and will work well together!

  • Ask about their backup plan if they cannot make it for unforeseeable circumstances

  • Ask if they use a second shooter or is it just them. Second shooters can capture various angles. We had one and I am very glad we decided to add them

  • Ask how they stay organized and how they keep up with the timeline for the day

  • Ask if they are familiar with your venue! They make have ideas for photos that you aren't aware of!


All the photos seen on this website are credited to Brandon Lata Photography.


 

Videographer


This was actually one of the last vendors I booked simply because I was not sure if I had enough room in my budget for it. I researched a few but landed on Aerial Illustrations whom operates out of Virginia and South Carolina. I received a referral from them through a friend. I had a phone call with Nate and he send over some previous wedding videos he had completed and I felt like it was a great fit for us! He operates by creating one's own package. He lists out the prices of various options and you can piece together exactly what you want. I loved this option as we ended up having rehearsal dinner coverage and I am so glad we did!



 

My Bridal Look


I bought my gown at Gown Boutique of Charleston. It was so much fun! They keep the champagne and compliments flowing as you try on dresses. My favorite part was that they really listened to what I wanted, what my vision was, and then guided me to my dress! Also, I brought my mother and my sister. I did not want a lot of opinions as that would make me feel overwhelmed.

When shopping for a bridal gown, my best advice is to come up with 3 adjectives that you would like your guests to describe you as in your dress! Mine were as follows: timeless, elegant, and classic. At first, I envisioned myself in an A-line gown as I have always been a strong pear shape and I tend to shy away from tight dresses. At the second store, my consultant convinced me to try on a fitted gown which I was surprised that I really liked. I didn't commit to any in that store but I then had a vision for what I wanted. I went to The Gown Boutique and saw THE dress in the window and thought" I have got to try that one on". It was IT! I tried on a few others to make sure but kept circling back to it.

When I envisioned myself walking down the aisle, I wanted people to see me in the dress, not the dress on me! I went with a Stella York mikado silk gown in Ivory and I was in love. The buttons down the back were my favorite part about it! I just felt classy in it. My "something borrowed" was my veil, which was my best friend/bridesmaid's. My "something blue" was my shoes from Etsy. "Something old" was my GrammE's bracelet with pearls that paired perfectly. "Something new" was my earrings and my Goldbug bracelet my husband gave me that morning.



 

Bridal Glam


When picking a hair and makeup team do your research and ask for recommendations! I went to Instagram and stalked the heck out of profiles to see what companies I liked. I finally chose Silhouetts on Site. They have a network of stylists and pair you with a hair and makeup team based on your date, # of people receiving services, and style! I had the lovely duo of Anna for Makeup and Holly for Hair. I had a trial run and decided to keep my makeup the same but changed my hair slightly and they both turned out exactly how I wanted them to! They are both so talented and good at what they do. They helped make me and my girls feel so special and beautiful on my big day. I simply cannot recommend them enough!



 

The Groom's Look

Let's not forget about my handsome man, Mr. Bennett! His tuxedo was rented at Berlin's. We chose for him to wear a cream-colored jacket instead of a black tux jacket to match me. The bride gets to wear white so I thought the groom should too! His tuxedo stood out amongst the rest of the bridal party and that is what we wanted! It looked so good on him! I thought this look was so classic as well.



 

Getting Ready Venue


If your venue does not have a place to get ready, Silhouettes on Site has a place downtown on East Bay Street that is gorgeous to get ready in! My venue did not have a place to get ready and since my family is from Nashville, TN they were traveling in for the big day. Because of this, we decided to rent a cottage at The Cottages on Charleston Harbor to stay and get ready in. They were DREAMY! My grandmothers, aunts, and other family members were able to float in and out of the cottage throughout the day making it so special! We chose to do our photographs there because the scenery is amazing. The cottages overlook the Charleston harbor providing a Lowcountry scene with lush greenery making the perfect backdrop! I am also very glad we chose this as traffic was not bad to get to the venue. We had some guests coming from Isle of Palms and Sulivan's Island who were almost late because of the beach traffic!


 

First Look

At first, I was against a first look as I grew up with traditional views of seeing my husband for the first time when I walked down the aisle. When I started to really think about it, a first look made more sense. We were able to have an intimate moment alone despite a chaotic fast-paced day. Also, we got the chance to get our photos with the glorious backdrop of the charleston Lowcountry as well as read letters to each other before the ceremony as our own "personal vows". It made the day more fun because we were able to enjoy most of it together!



 

Stationery


I chose to use a minted template for our save the dates and I recommend a site like this or the knot because they are usually cost-efficient, quick, and very nice looking! Since we decided the wedding would be Black Tie, I knew I wanted an "elevated" invitation. I researched MANY companies, some out of Charleston and some not, that had templates and custom options for invitations. Each quote I received was well outside of my budget.

Frustrated, I called one of my friends who had recently gotten married. She referred me to a woman by the name of Donna Birtles out of Franklin, TN whom she used for her own wedding. Donna is AMAZING and was a tremendous help when designing invitations and other paper products for the wedding. She met with my mom since I live 9 hours away from Franklin, to create the design and assisted with RSVP cards, a seating chart, menus, and offered various other paper products. She was so easy to work with and completed each order so quickly! She was able to deliver a high-quality product at an affordable price and I could not have asked for anything more! Donna can be contacted via email at donnabirtles@comcast.net.



Florals


My wedding planner referred me to two different floral companies and I ended up choosing Pretty Petals of Charleston. For florals, I wanted neutrals with a small pop of my main colors purple and blue. They were extremely accommodating and my mom and I tweaked the floral proposal many times as you can change until they make the order.

My vision for my bouquet was to be monochromatic and upscale. My favorite flower is a peony so I asked my florist to have those and other filler flowers. It turned out so dreamy and full! My bridesmaid's bouquets were intentionally smaller to make my bouquet really pop. To bring in more color we added the secret garden rose which was the perfect shade of purple! We kept the boutonniere simple and brought in some blue tones and texture with the blue thistle.

My planner and florist recommended doing various heights for table florals and added candles of various sizes, which created dimension for the large reception space. We added greenery to give a romantic feel to the space. For the head table, we added a runner with the flowers already chosen and added oyster shells to incorporate the low-country into our design. The arbor was a last-minute decision and it ended up being so gorgeous and created a beautiful focal point for the ceremony! The greenery was so luscious and made the roses' color stand out!


 

Details

At our reception, we wanted to honor my parents, inlaws, and grandparents as they are all so special to us! I had a table consisting of all the wedding photos of each couple which was really cool to see the generations! My mother found really pretty frames to put them in and they turned out to be so lovely! The wedding bears were displayed at my parent's rehearsal dinner. My great Aunt switched out the colors of the bear's brideal accessories to match my wedding color. My mother-in-law painted and decoupaged the oyster shells you see in the details shot! They were perfect to set my jewelry on for the photo! Our champagne glasses and cake serving set were gifts from our friends at one of our wedding showers. Since we served beer, wine and white claws I wanted to get koozies for people to have. I found these on etsy and ordered slim and regular can koozies! I loved that we were able to honor our family in simple and special ways.


 

Rentals


My venue had a gorgeous courtyard I wanted to utilize for my venue. Unfortunately, the chairs provided are for the indoor reception area only. My planner recommended Eventworks for rentals. This is where we rented the mahogany chairs for the ceremony, the stage for the band, the drapery for the room, the glassware for the tables, tablecloths and linens. We loved how each aspect of the rentals added to our design. A personal favorite was the blue goblet glasses as they tied in my secondary color of blue and elevated the look of the tables with additional texture!


 

Attire


My husband and I decided we wanted a Black Tie Wedding for several reasons. First off, we couldn't think of the last time we got dressed up to the nines and wanted to give everyone a reason to! Secondly, we wanted our wedding to be a fancy affair to fit our traditional and classic theme. Everyone ended up looking so elegant and lovely in their black tie attire and it all came together nicely!

I chose to use Azazie for my bridesmaids dresses. I have been a bridesmaid multiple times and I didn't want to make my friends pay an absurd amount for a dress they will never wear again. Let's be honest ladies, we never alter these dresses and wear them again! Azazie was great because they have a plethora of styles to choose from. I chose 4 different styles in the color Dusk! It was the perfect muted lilac as I wanted the color to be subtle and not over the top They ended up looking so pretty on each of my bridesmaids. I would highly recommend this color as you can pair it with a lot of secondary colors!

All the groosmen wore tuxes from Berlin's. Addison chose for them to wear a standard black tux with a cumberbund. As stated earlier, we decided for Addison to wear a cream-colored jacket with the standard tux because we wanted him to stand out from the other groomsmen.

My precious flower girls' mother got their dresses and shoes off etsy! I wanted them to match me and they were so cute. I chose for them to have a flower crown because when I was a flower girl for my uncle's wedding I wore one and just remember loving it!


 

The Ceremony:


Officiant


I wanted my husband to be able to pick out some of the details for our special day. It was important to him to be able to have a friend of his family marry us. It was a great decision for us because he is a God-centered man and knew us as a couple. This made our ceremony more personal than finding a minister that we did not know personally. He was able to tie in personal stories to our ceremony, which made it fun.


Music


We wanted strings for the ceremony because they sound beautiful and added to the elegant theme! Our planner suggested Palmetto Strings and they were amazing. They have an extended list of songs and were very organized and prompt. Since my married name is Elizabeth Bennett we had them play "Merytown Townhall" from the pride and prejudice soundtrack upon our exit!


Order


The grandparents and parents came down in couples. My cousin escorted my mother as my dad was escorting me down the aisle! I wanted the bridal party to walk in separately to honor each dear friend of ours and I paired them up to exit!



 

The Reception


Cocktail Hour


Hors d'oeurve's and libations were served during cocktail hour while we had the band play jazz music. We were able to mingle for a little bit then slipped away to the rooftop for pictures that turned out like this!



Food


The food was absolutely incredible at our wedding!! I simply cannot say this enough. A charleston restaurant named Mercantile and Mash houses their restaurant below and provides all the food for the weddings. Most weddings I have attended have provided barbecue, which is always delicious, but I knew I wanted to do something different. Something more upscale.

There were 5 hors d'oeuvres brought out during cocktail hour: Nashville Hot chicken as a tribute to my hometown, a tomato tart, a short rib slider, and a bacon-seared scallop. We offered three options for dinner. Shrimp and grits, a taco bar, and a carving station consisting of pork tenderloin with two sides. Each option was so good making it hard to decide. The Shrimp and Grits were the best I think I've ever had, which is surprising as I have eaten a plethora of different variations living in the Lowcountry! During the reception, we had fried chicken biscuits and fries and they were so good.


Cake


We loved our wedding cake so much. Can you believe it is from Publix?! We chose one marble layer and two strawberry layers with buttercream icing and it was delicious! My parent's wedding cake was strawberry and I always thought that was different and fun so we chose to do the same. When trying cakes, Publix gave us three mini (I think they were 6 in round) cakes of our choice of cake flavor, filling, and icing for FREE. I couldn't believe it either! I had my florist place a few secret garden roses on there to give it a pop of color! In addition, the venue provided some key lime pie bites and red velvet cake pops so there were a few dessert choices! Of course, we partook in the tradition of freezing our top layer and I am so excited to eat it again next year on our first anniversary! This was a great affordable option that still looked classy.


Music

Band vs. DJ is always a dilemma. Bands generally come at a higher cost than DJs. We went with a band because I wanted the guests to be engaged and I wanted the band to keep the dance floor alive! I wanted our reception to feel like a big celebration. A band fit my classic, southern, and traditional theme. Also, I love music and the energy it brings so a band was a no-brainer for me. If you are trying to cut costs a DJ is a good option as they tend to be cheaper. The Dance Floor was PACKED until the end of the last song. It was a blast! I recommend the 17 South Band and the Emerald Empire Band. They serve various locations in addition to Charleston, SC.


First Dances


I wanted Addison to pick our first dance song because, even though he wouldn't say it, I knew he wanted to. He chose "Lady May" by Tyler Childres as Addison loves his country music and it is such a sweet song.

My daddy has always called me his "mini me" for as long as I can remember. We are very close and have always had a very fun and silly relationship. I knew I wanted to do a fun dance with him or else we would both be crying. We did a mashup that started out with Frank Sinatra "The Way You Look tonight" then moved into some songs I grew up listening to with him. The mashup incorporated the songs " Let's Groove" by Earth Wind and Fire, "Get Down On It" by Kool and the Gang and "Shake Your Groove Thing" by Peaches and Herb. It was so much fun! If you are up for it I say go for it! It made our dance even more memorable.

Addison is definitely a "Momma's Boy" if you will. One of his favorite artists is Morgan Wallen and he chose to dance to his "Thought You Should Know" that was released a few weeks prior. Addison and his Mother had the whole room in tears! It was a sweet and special moment. If you're a crier get out your tissues!





Welcome Toast


My parents kicked off the reception with a speech from my Father that had the room in happy tears! It was a special moment to have him welcome everyone and to say a blessing over our marriage and everyone in the room. I have always been inspired by my Father and I am so glad we had a moment to honor him!

Bouquet and Garter Toss


I always feel so awkward with the garter toss but it's tradition so we did it and the pictures are great from it! My bestie caught the bouquet and got engaged 2 months later! I guess wise tales can predict or we women are just determined for them too. Either way, I am so glad we did these and incorporated tradition into our reception!

Now onto the dancing! The dance floor stayed packed until the end of the last song!


 

Transportation & Grand Exit


Since we decided to get ready at The Cottages at Charleston Harbor we chose the Low Country Trolley to provide transportation to the wedding venue and I am so glad we did! We were able to play our own music, have a beverage on the way and just enjoy the bridal party! The trolley was so pretty. For our getaway car we used Charleston Black Cab Company. They had a bottle of champagne waiting on us and decorated the car so nice! Both rides were so fun. We chose for everyone to have sparklers for the exit providing light for the photos. We stayed at the Francis Marion Hotel for the night.


 

End Note:


Overall, our Wedding Day was an absolute blast! We had almost all of our loved ones in a single room and it made the day so special. Thank you to all of our vendors that helped make this day possible. Life is off to the races as the Bennetts and it could not be sweeter!


A special thank you to my parents, especially my Mother, as I could not have planned this wedding without them! Thank you both for everything over the years. I love yall so much!




To my husband, I love you forever and always. May we always look back on this day fondly. Let's do this thing forever!









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