Jessica swears she never asked Michael on their first date, but the groom remembers it differently. After meeting at San Francisco fleet week, Jessica, a former Clemson University soccer player, was impressed by Michael's knowledge of collegiate-level sports and mentioned a restaurant she was dying to try. "I didn't ask him out on a date!" Jessica says of their eight-course meal. "I asked if he wanted to try this restaurant with me — he just got ahead of himself."
It was a good thing he did. Three years later, Michael told Jessica they were heading out for sushi, but secretly planned a seaside proposal. Under the guise of pausing for a sunset selfie, Michael approached a professional photographer on the beach and introduced himself to the man who was hired to capture their engagement photos. From there, the couple quickly started planning their May 31, 2014 wedding in Bluffton, South Carolina. Keep reading to see their entire charming wedding day, as captured by W. Scott Chester!
The groom first fell in love with their venue, the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort, during a solo trip — so much, in fact, that he insisted Jessica get on a flight at 6 AM the next morning and fly in from San Francisco so they could book their dream day. The pair were sold on the gorgeous location, and the fact that the property has everything guests could ever need was just a bonus.
The bride ended up wearing two wedding dresses. As a way to honor her late mother, Jessica walked down the aisle wearing her mom's original wedding dress from the 1980's. "She was my best friend and having a wedding without her was the hardest part," Jessica explains. "Being able to wear the gown she wore was really special." With some encouragement from her friends, Jessica bought a Francesca Miranda gown to wear during her reception. She chose a gorgeous lace gown with a low back that felt special and fun, yet still reminiscent of a traditional wedding dress.
Em. Creative Floral recreated Jessica's mother's bouquet to carry down the aisle. Filled with garden roses, peonies, and lots of lush greenery, the result was perfect for her outdoor venue.
Jessica's bridesmaids all wore custom designs created by the bride. She designed one floor-length skirt with a flattering side slit and three different tops — one strapless and two variations of v-necks — so that each important lady could select a shape she felt most comfortable in. "I think bridesmaids get pigeonholed into the same outfits and it's hard to find the perfect fit or dress. I thought a skirt and top option could help alleviate some of the pain," Jessica says. The result was a perfect four-piece collection that gave each bridesmaid a look they loved.
The groom wore a custom-made Michael Andrews tuxedo in a deep, midnight blue. His groomsmen wore light gray suits from Indochino.
The bride's father walked her down the aisle to live guitar music. Jessica and Michael exchanged vows they wrote themselves beneath a driftwood altar decorated with bright flowers.
Following the ceremony, the couple and their guests enjoyed an open-air dinner under strands of café lights. Jessica and Michael decided on three large farmhouse tables for seating and favored lush floral garlands instead of traditional centerpieces.
Their menu included seared sea scallops, pan roasted chicken, and perfectly-paired wines. Guests also enjoyed the couple's two signature cocktails — hers, St. Germain and champagne and his, Benton's bourbon.
After dinner the entire party moved inside for dessert and dancing. Dessert consisted of a three-tiered naked cake from Momofuku Milk Bar and a dessert bar with miniature cups of berry cobbler, double chocolate pudding cake, and banana cream pies.
Their DJ kept guests entertained all night, and for those that still wanted to enjoy the South Carolina evening, rocking chairs and high-top tables were set up on an adjoining balcony. Jessica reminds other brides to be true to themselves when planning their own weddings. "This day should be a pure representation of your personalities, style, and love for one another," she says.
Ceremony & Reception Venue: The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort || Wedding Coordinator: Ashley Rhodes at The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort || Officiant: Dr. John Miller || Bride's Wedding Dress: Mother's gown; Francesca Miranda || Bride's Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo || Bride's Hair: Chantal Ferguson || Bride's Makeup: Chantel Lunetta of Eye Do Makeup || Groom's Attire: Michael Andrews Bespoke || Groomsmen's Attire: Indochino || Engagement Ring: Malidani Jewelry || Wedding Bands: French Jewelry, Inc. || Florist: Em. Creative Floral || Invitations: Little Cat Design Co. || Music: Dave Landeo || Catering: The Inn at Palmetto Bluff || Cake: Momofuku Milk Bar || Rentals: Ooh! Events || Videographer: Low Country Wedding Films || Photographer: W. Scott Chester
Did you love this southern wedding? Then watch another couple tie the knot in Tennessee below!