I am excited to share Dave and Jessica‘s Charleston wedding with you today! Jessica grew up in Charleston and returns frequently although her family has since moved away. Since most of their friends and family live all over, a destination wedding to her ‘hometown’ was the best solution!
When Jess dreamed of her wedding day, she instantly knew where she wanted to get married in Charleston – First Baptist Church. Fun fact: the first wedding Jess was ever in as a flower girl was at this church! And it was where she was dedicated as a baby. To say this place holds a special place in her heart is an understatement. When I walked in to the church for the first time on Friday night, I was in marble, center-aisle heaven!
Since the church is fairly small, everyone dressed at the Francis Marion Hotel, where the welcome party was held the night before and the reception was going to be that night. Jess and Dave chose to have the Maid of Honor (Jess’ sister Hannah), Best Man (Dave’s brother Scott) and Dave’s two children (Jack and Ella) standing with them at the alter. Jess spent the morning surrounded by her mom, sister, friends, aunts and girl cousins while Dave was with his brother, parents, and children. The simplicity of the morning made for sweet memorable moments with those they love.
Jess and Dave opted to not have a first look, so we sent Jess on to the church to slip into her dress before Dave arrived. Both Jess’ Mom and Hannah wore long black dresses which complimented Jess’ desire for a classy and sophisticated wedding style.
Guests were greeted at the church by Dave and Jess’ nieces and nephews accompanied by Dave, Scott and Dave’s parents. This created an intimate and fun start to the ceremony as everyone was excited to be with loved ones. After the guests were seated and Dave entered with Pastor Dana and Scott, the guests were surprised by a Gospel choir entrance for the bride. This.was.so.much.fun!!! Although the wedding was considered ‘formal’, there was so much joy and happiness and intimacy throughout the entire day. And the choir added so much to the atmosphere. The sang at the end when everyone was exiting as well! Did it give me Harry & Meghan vibes? YES!!
Since Dave had two children*, they wanted to make sure they were included in the wedding. They had a special part of the ceremony focused just on the four of them becoming a new family and it was the sweetest moment. Jess’ sister-in-law sang while Dave prayed over them. Another special moment was when they lit their unity candle. Yes, you have rings to show the world you’re married, but having something you can place in your home to always remind you that you are now one is a tradition I’ll always love.
Because of how the church foyer and courtyard were laid out, guests were able to say a quick hello to the newlyweds before they headed off to cocktail hour. Jess and Dave had a few moments to themselves and then they began taking family pictures.
The Carriage Ride
Charleston, SC is known for it’s carriage rides around the cobblestone streets. For their church exit, Jess and Dave (and Shannon!) took a carriage ride through the city to get some amazing photos. These might be some of my favorite from the day! The guests enjoyed a cocktail hour back at the Francis Marion hotel (perfect time to run up to their rooms to freshen up and change into dancing shoes too!) while the couple rode around the city in a traditional Charleston carriage. Rumor had it a hurricane was headed our way, but the weather that weekend turned out perfectly!
The Reception + Exit
Jess and Dave arrived at the Francis Marion and were welcomed by their loved ones in the ballroom. Their first dance song was Everything by Michael Bublé performed by the Emerald Empire Band. Jess and Dave chose to have their father/daughter and mother/son dances later in the evening after the dinner service and cake cutting. They also had a ‘family’ dance with Dave’s children which is another of my favorite parts of this day!
After dancing the night away, it was time for the newlyweds to head off for their honeymoon! Since their exit was mainly inside of the hotel, Jess found battery-operated ‘sparklers’ that added the perfect ending to this special day.
Other Memorable Details
Charleston Sweetgrass – Continuing her love of all things Charleston, Jess used sweetgrass baskets throughout the day. The flower girl carried rose petals in a small handled basket, and the programs were placed in an open sweetgrass basket. We transported the baskets back to the hotel to hold the guest favors.
M&Ms Photo – When Jess was a flower girl at this church years ago, her parents told her if she did a good job, she’d get M&M’s after the ceremony. We decided to recreate the picture from her first time down the aisle at this church.
Guest Book – Jess and Dave chose to use the Jesus Bible as their guest book. Each guest highlighted their favorite verse and then signed their name by it.
Party Crashers – Since the wedding was at a hotel and the restrooms were located outside of the ballroom, we did have a few groups pop in to see what was happening. Jess thought it was comical that some people crashed her wedding and danced to one song since they weren’t being unruly, but we definitely made sure they didn’t hit up the open bar or stay too long!
You’ll notice that Jess had the biggest smile on her face all day. This makes me the happiest planner on the East Coast! Thank you Jess and Dave for letting me be part of your oh happy day!
Photography: Shannon Oleksak Photography | Hair & Make-up: Lashes & Lace | Church: First Baptist Church, Charleston | Reception, Catering: Francis Marion Hotel | Church Florals: Lisa Ferguson Florals| Bride Bouquet & Reception Florals: Out of the Garden| Chair Rentals: Snyder Events | Entertainment: Emerald Empire Band| Carriage Ride: Palmetto Carriage Works | Planning: Katharine Marie Weddings
*There are many different ways to include one’s children in the ceremony, so if you need any ideas, please reach out. It can be an emotional situation but it is so important to include them.