A Nautical Wedding on North Carolina's Bald Head Island

Real Weddings

Despite having several mutual friends, it took a party in Columbia, South Carolina, for Sarah Jane Sills Tate and Andrew Walker to run in to one another. Within weeks, Andrew had Sarah Jane on a date — and about one year later, he found himself on bended knee. The groom popped the question on Bald Head Island, North Carolina, where his bride-to-be's family had often spent their summers. "I took a week of vacation so I could go to the beach with my family the first weekend," Sarah Jane recalls, "and Andrew's family the second weekend. But little did I know, Andrew planned to propose to me the first weekend of the vacation so we could share the news with both of our families in person." Less than a year later, the couple returned to Bald Head Island, for their April 18, 2015 wedding.

It was important to the couple that their 150 guests be able to take in the Bald Head Island experience that they love so much, so Sarah Jane and Andrew incorporated a nautical-themed color palette of navy and ivory, as well as added island details, like serving local ice cream sandwiches, into their big day. With the help of Sarah Levesque of Salt Harbor Designs, the pair pulled off a traditional wedding with a seaside twist, and Theo Milo Photography captured it all.

Sarah Jane selected a silk brocade ball gown with a sweetheart neckline created by Modern Trousseau after trying on no less than 30 dresses. "It was the last dress I tried on, and immediately I knew it was the one," she says.

She carried a round bouquet of coral and pink peonies and roses, while the groom pinned a pink spray rose wrapped with eucalyptus and bay leaves to the lapel of his white dinner jacket.

Sarah Jane's bridesmaids donned knee-length navy dresses paired with nude pumps, in keeping with the couple's color palette. For a pop of fresh color, they carried mostly pink bouquets with a touch of green thanks to delicate hydrangeas.

Andrew's groomsmen contrasted the bridesmaids' dark attire with white dinner jackets. "We wanted something that would stand out a little, but still be fairly classic and traditional," Sarah Jane says. "Since it was an evening wedding, we thought white dinner jackets were perfect and they fit into the color scheme very well."

The couple held their ceremony just beyond the island's Old Baldy Lighthouse, under a crystal-blue sky. "We got lucky because the rain held off," the bride says. "All weekend long rain settled into the area, and we were blessed with a gap in the rain from about two hours before the ceremony all the way to the next morning."

Large floral arrangements of coral and pink peonies, roses, viburnum, white stock, and hydrangea, were placed on white columns and flanked both ends of the rose petal-lined grass aisle.

While the couple exchanged traditional vows, they personalized their ceremony with readings of poetry by Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

The couple's reception was split between Bald Head Island Club's indoor and outdoor dining areas, offering plenty of space for their guests to mingle. Outside, loved ones sat beneath a fabric-draped tent illuminated with crystal chandeliers.

Their florist alternated high and low centerpieces of pink, coral, and white peonies, roses, tulips, and hydrangea, beside silver candlesticks. The couple's Chivari chairs were draped in ivory Mr. and Mrs. banners and thick greenery.

Clear chargers sat on ivory linens, and displayed a hearty menu of pork tenderloin and chicken breast, jumbo lump crab, garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans. Sarah Jane and Andrew's cake — four tiers of navy and white fondant filled with almond and hazelnut fudge flavors — was decorated with fresh flowers that matched their centerpieces.

While the couple shared their first dance as husband and wife to Marvin Gaye's "You're All I Need to Get By," they took a second solo twirl when their DJ played "At Last" by Etta James. "The floor cleared entirely as Andrew and I danced alone to this song," Sarah Jane recalls. "It was a perfectly unscripted moment of pure joy for both of us in a weekend full of plans and many details."

And speaking of those details, the bride advises new brides-to-be to start early. "Select your major vendors and lock them in as soon as you can. Also, stay on top of RSVPs as they come in so you can refine the guest count as far out in advance as possible for your vendors."

Ceremony Venue: Old Baldy Lighthouse || Reception Venue and Catering: Bald Head Island Club|| Wedding Planner, Floral Design, Invitations & Favors: Salt Harbor Designs || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Modern Trousseau || Jewelry: Kiel James Patrick || Shoes: Kate Spade || Hair & Makeup: Island Retreat Spa || Bridesmaids Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids || Mother of the Bride's Dress: Badgley Mischka || Wedding Bands: Blue Nile || Music: Beverly Andrews and In Full || Cake: One Belle Bakery || Rentals: Party Suppliers and Rentals || Photography: Theo Milo Photography

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Want more nautical wedding inspiration? Then check out another couple's Florida wedding in the video below.

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