This Couple Returned to the Site of the Proposal for a Rustic-Elegant Wedding

Real Weddings

Though Jeff Nolan and Dana Cohen were the same year at Vanderbilt, lived in neighboring sorority and fraternity houses, took classes together, and had a number of friends in common, the pair didn't meet until after they'd graduated and both moved to Atlanta. "My cousin started talking to Jeff at a bat mitzvah they were both at," says Dana. "He found me on Facebook, and we finally met a few months later (after going to the same Halloween party a few weeks earlier and totally missing each other!)."

Four and a half years later, in May of 2013, Jeff pulled of a proposal that Dana did not see coming. A full year in advance, he asked for her father's permission to propose. Then, that fateful weekend, Jeff and Dana headed to Hilton Head, South Carolina, to see his family. They headed to the beach for a picnic, and Jeff got down on one knee as the sun set. After she said yes, he and Dana headed back into the house to call her family — and were greeted by a welcoming committee that included both of their families and their group of friends from Atlanta! "I dropped everything I was holding and burst into tears," says Dana.

Less than a year later, on April 26th, 2014, the couple returned to Hilton Head (with 350 guest!) for their wedding at the Westin Hilton Head Island, photographed by Shawna Herring Photography.

Though Dana walked into the bridal salon with a vision of an all-lace beige dress with a fitted silhouette, the gown she chose was the complete opposite: an a-line Romona Keveza design with a lace-edged skirt. She kept her jewelry in the family. "I borrowed the diamonds from my aunt," says Dana. "My cousin, sister, and I all wore the same jewelry on our wedding days!"

Jeff wore a classic black tuxedo with the same light blue Vineyard Vines tie as the groomsmen.

Jeff's boutonniere featured a white ranunculus and a rose, tied with satin ribbon.

"I gave my florist free rein," says Dana. "The flowers were gorgeous!" She carried a bouquet of white stock, ranunculus, hydrangeas, and roses, perfect for the seaside wedding.

Dana and Jeff's chuppah, built out of driftwood, was decorated with branches and white blooms. The couple had a traditional Jewish ceremony, and recessed to "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles.

Escort cards were displayed on a wall of moss. "We wanted to add an organic feel," says the bride. The room was decorated in shades of white, ivory, and gold, casting a soft glow over the room. Centerpieces featured soft white flowers in a mix of tall and low arrangements.

After a dinner of local red snapper, guests were treated to the couple's carrot and pound cake wedding cake, as well as a cookie cake and roast-your-own s'mores. "The after party was a blast," says Dana.

After two weeks in Greece and Turkey, the couple returned to Atlanta. "It feels the same as before," says Dana, "which is a good thing!"

Her advice to engaged couples is to take a moment to take everything in. "We took a moment at the top of the terrace to look down and see everyone who was there," she says. "I'm glad we did it—it goes by way too fast!"

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Westin Hilton Head Island || Wedding Planner: Spencer Special Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Romona Keveza || Hair: Todd Lowery of Salon Ravinia || Makeup: Wendy of Trish McEvoy in Atlanta || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale || Bridesmaids' Hair & Makeup: All About Me || Groom's Attire: Trussini || Groom & Groomsmen's Accessories: Vineyard Vines || Florist: A Floral Affair || Invitations & Paper Goods: Jenny's Paper Ink || Save the Dates: Message In A Bottle || Music: ceremony - Alyssa Jae, reception - The Heather Hayes Experience, after party - JLK Events || Catering: Westin Hilton Head Island || Cake: Minette Rushing Custom Cakes || Videography: Hart to Heart Media || Photography: Shawna Herring Photography

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