This Couple Put a Comfortable Spin on a Formal South Carolina Wedding

Royal Wedding

It was a complete coincidence that brought Melanie York and Craig Germano together in 2008. Melanie was living in Columbus, Georgia, and Craig was merely passing through during his move from Florida to New York City. A mutual friend of theirs, who'd attended West Point with Craig, was having a party, and both Craig and Melanie were there. "I thought he was cute," she says, "so I obviously avoided him for most of the night!" But Craig was persistent, and managed to get Melanie to talk to him — and they haven't stopped since.

After a few months of phone calls, a first date in Atlanta, and moves to Florida, New York, and Washington, D.C., Craig and Melanie decided they needed a vacation and headed to Hawaii to visit some friends for a few weeks — and Melanie started to get suspicious. A week into their trip, the pair woke up at the crack of dawn to drive the road to Hana. Just as Melanie was ready to head home, Craig pulled over and they walked down to a church overlooking the water and proposed. "I was so excited," says Melanie, "but I looked sweaty and awful after a day of hiking and driving around. You're supposed to look beautiful and smell nice when you get engaged!"

Melanie's always loved Charleston, so when she and Craig started planning their wedding, she made it her goal to make him fall in love with the city, too. Her plan worked, and the couple wed on December 5th, 2013, at Trinity United Methodist Church, then celebrated downtown at Market Pavilion Hotel, all photographed by Christophe Photo.

Melanie tried on every style of gown she could find, from a poufy ballgown to a bohemian slip style, before landing on "the one." She was sold when she tried on the Georgina gown by Vera Wang. "I loved the modern, layered skirt, but that the lace on the bodice gave it a traditional, southern feel," says Melanie. She paired the gown with a pair of Kate Spade shoes, pearl earrings from her mother-in-law, and a necklace from her husband.

The bride's father walked her down the aisle. "I was so nervous, I thought I might faint, so I couldn't help but walk quickly," she says. "My father turned to me and said, 'Slow down, you don't want to run down the aisle. He's not going anywhere.'"

The couple did interviews with their reverend, both together and individually, to personalize their ceremony. "He included some detailed about our relationship, like Craig's George Bush impression and my random collection of books, to make it more 'us' and make everyone laugh," say Melanie.

"We love the food, the culture, and the people of Charleston," says Melanie, "and knew it would be the perfect spot for a wedding!"

The couple fell in love with Market Pavilion Hotel because of the classic décor and the intimate ballroom. "It's on the smaller side," says the bride, "so it was perfect for us." Their other favorite detail? Getting to have cocktails at sunset on the roof, with a sprawling view of Charleston.

After their first dance to "At Last" by Etta James (the first song Craig heard when he turned on the radio after meeting Melanie!), the couple cut into their three-tiered cake, featuring marble cake with ganache and buttercream icing.

Guests waved ribbon wands as the couple made their way out of the reception and into the elevator for a rooftop after party — that moved to Craig and Melanie's hotel room at 2 a.m. and didn't end until after four. "The hotel staff came up and asked our friends to go back to their rooms!" she laughs.

The newlyweds unplugged for their honeymoon, heading to Palm Island in the Grenadines and enjoying a bungalow sans phone, computer, and TV. "It was so relaxing," says Melanie.

Ceremony Venue: Trinity United Methodist Church || Reception Venue: Market Pavilion Hotel || Wedding Coordinator: A Charleston Bride || Bride's Wedding Dress: Vera Wang || Shoes: Kate Spade || Jewelry: Roberto Coin || Hair & Makeup: Wedding Hair by Charlotte, Elysium Salon || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Tadashi Shoji || Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss || Wedding Bands: David S. Diamonds || Florist: Tiger Lily || Invitations & Paper Goods: Dinglewood Design & Press, Twigs Print Studio || Music: ceremony - Dianne Power of Trinity United Methodist Church, reception - NTRANZE & DJ Elementz of Other Brother Entertainment || Catering: Market Pavilion Hotel || Cake: Wild Flour Pastry || Rentals: Snyder Events, BBJ Linen Rentals || Favors: Market Pavilion Hotel || Photography: Christophe Photo

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