Stephanie Mihaly and Raphael Fernandes faced a problem when it came to planning their June 20, 2015, wedding: "Our friends and family were going to have to travel no matter where we decided to get married," the bride says of their guests, who hailed from everywhere from the Midwest to the Caribbean, and even as far as Brazil. So when it became difficult for the couple to select a locale, they decided to compromise by hosting a wedding in the state where they'd first met. "South Carolina will always serve as a reminder not only of the start of our friendship but now, our life together," Stephanie explains.
The couple invited 250 guests to join at that very special place, Sunset, South Carolina, just miles from the home where the bride grew up. There, they planned a fabulous celebration that melded their two cultures — American and Brazilian — and brought their families closer together. "We wanted to fuse both of our cultures and traditions to reflect our future lives," the bride says, "and to share this experience and our cultural differences with both sides of our family and friends." With the help of wedding planners from Tusk Events and The Burlap Elephant, Stephanie and Raphael dreamed up a personalized party that captured the natural beauty of South Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains and their unique love story. Luckily for us, photographer Brandon Lata Photography captured every glorious and absolutely gorgeous detail, all seen below.
Stephanie spotted her Reem Acra wedding gown in a magazine long before she ventured to a bridal bouquet to try it on. Almost seven years after first noticing it, the bride spotted that very same stunning dress at a trunk show in Miami and was shocked to see it again. "I couldn't believe that style of dress resurfaced, so I was sold," she says. The silk dress featured a pleated bodice and flowing skirt, with capped sleeves embellished with rhinestones and pearls.
While the bride carried a loose, whimsical bouquet of ranunculus, garden roses, peonies, anemones, and tulips tied with satin ribbon, her bridesmaids — dressed in shimmering pink and taupe dresses — carried hydrangea and rose blooms.
Raphael donned a gray suit, while his groomsmen wore slightly darker shades of gray with ranunculus and greenery pinned to their lapels.
Stephanie's mother and father walked her down a grass aisle, to the edge of Lake Keowee where she would exchange vows with Raphael. There, large urns overflowing with hydrangea, stock, garden roses, peonies, and tulips flanked the couple, while 30-foot-long garlands decorated the last row of wooden chairs.
Bridesmaids and groomsmen read from the Bible, including Colossians 3: 14-20 and Matthew 19: 4-6.
The couple held their outdoor reception beneath a white peaked tent. They offered lounge areas to guests, and food and drink options that celebrated both the bride and groom's cultures, like Brazil's national beverage, the caipirinha, as their signature drink, and a menu that ranged from fried chicken biscuits to coxinhas.
Guests found their seat assignments tied to garlands that hung from the tent's ceiling, then enjoyed a breathtaking view from long banquet tables. A mix of robust centerpieces that mimicked the bride's bouquet, gold bud vases holding a single bloom, garlands that stretched the length of the tables, flickering candles, and shimmering tablecloths transformed the otherwise classic tent.
The couple selected a naked three-tiered wedding cake layered with almond and vanilla, filled with chocolate ganache, and topped with fresh strawberries and raspberries. They also offered a selection of other sweet treats, like macaroons, pecan pie, cheesecake and brownies.
Stephanie and Raphael danced to "Rather Be" by Clean Bandit. They plan to honeymoon this year in Greece, Italy, and Turkey.
Venue, Catering & Accommodations: The Reserve at Lake Keowee || Wedding Planner: The Burlap Elephant and Tusk Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Reem Acra || Shoes: Badgley Mischka || Hair & Makeup: Cotton Rouge & Company || Bridesmaids' Dresses & Groom's Attire: Nordstrom || Groomsmen's Attire: Macy's || Wedding Rings: Turner's Jewelers || Florist: Out of the Garden || Invitations: Sideshow Press || Music: Classic Touch; Ben Fagan || Cake & Favors: Buttercream Bakehouse || Transportation: Atchison Transport Services || Videographer: Reel Video & Stills || Photographer: Brandon Lata Photography
Did you love this open-air celebration? Then check out another couple's outdoor wedding in the video below.