Jillian Kingsley, 30, still can't believe she didn't catch on that her now-husband John Counts, 35, was about to propose. After flying from Los Angeles to Miami for a Caribbean cruise (and landing quite early in the morning), she and John sat on the beach and watched the sunrise before checking into their hotel. That evening, he suggested that they watch the sunset, as well. "I was shocked that he'd be willing to watch the sunrise and the sunset in the same day," Jillian says, "but I quickly obliged." After a stroll along the sand in South Beach, John got down on one knee, and Jillian finally saw what was happening — as did the small crowd that gathered behind them and applauded when she said yes!
When it came time to choose a location for their September 1st, 2013, wedding, John and Jillian knew a destination wedding was the answer. "I'm from Texas, he's from Rhode Island, and we lived in California at the time," says Jillian. "It was the best way to get everyone together!" So they headed south to the Westin Hilton Head Island for a wedding combining sweet tea and South Carolina slang with a cool ocean breeze.
Keep reading for all the colorful details from Hopkins Studios!
Jillian kept her gown simple, so she went bold with the accessories, adding a few inches of height — and some bling — with teal Badgley Mischka pumps adorned with shimmering brooches. Her strapless trumpet gown by Essense of Australia combined clean lines with a flowing organza skirt.
The bride's talented sister Kendra, co-founder of TypeJar Studio stepped in to create all of the printed materials, including these ceremony program fans. "It was one of many great ways our families got involved," says Jillian.
The couple said "I do" in a traditional seaside ceremony officiated by Jillian's childhood minister. She carried a bright bouquet of orchids, roses, dahlias, and succulents, which perfectly matched the bridesmaids' coral J.Crew dresses.
The reception was held in the resort's oceanfront pavilion. The wedding party sat at a long farm table, topped with a teal chevron runner, while guests were seated at round tables topped with neutral textured linens and bright flowers.
"I wanted there to be lots of light," says Jillian, "so we covered the tables with lanterns and glowing candles." Votives glowed in glitter-dipped mason jars hand-made by the bride's aunt.
Instead of traditional place cards, each guest's seat featured a Georgia peach and a cut-paper leaf with their name.
After a dinner of herb-crusted chicken and mahi-mahi, the bride and groom cut into a lemon curd-and-raspberry cake, enrobed in cream cheese frosting ruffles. A live band played everything from George Strait and Pearl Jam to the Texas A&M War Hymn. "I'm an alum, and it's a tradition at Aggie weddings," Jillian explains. The best song of the night, however, was her brother's performance of "A Thousand Years" during the ceremony.
The couple honeymooned in St. Lucia, and kept the celebration going with local receptions in Texas and Rhode Island. "It's been a whirlwind!" Jillian laughs. Her advice is to remember to have fun with the details, and don't be afraid to ask for help. "I'm so lucky my sister and bridesmaids stepped up to help out," she says. And if you can, have a destination wedding. "It was so fun to have a few days leading up to the wedding to anticipate the big day with everyone we love."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa || Bride's Wedding Dress: Essense of Australia || Shoes: Badgley Mischka || Hair: Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa || Makeup: SKINZIN || Bridesmaids' Dresses: J.Crew || Groom's Attire: Calvin Klein || Florist: A Floral Affair || Invitations & Paper Goods: TypeJar Studio || Music: Moody || Cake: Signe's Heaven Bound Bakery & Cafe || Rentals: Amazing Event Rentals || Videography: Storymix Media || Photography: Melissa Hopkins and Shannon Christopher for Hopkins Studios