South Carolina native Ellis and her groom, Campbell, take the term "Southern hospitality" seriously. The couple invited a whopping 700 guests to their wedding at the antebellum Drayton Hall Plantation, in Charleston, then arranged lodging with local friends and family for many of them. At sunset on the wedding day, the crowd, which included a 31-person bridal party, spilled out under an old oak tree beside a pond to watch Campbell's cousin, Reverend Robert Sewall, lead the couple through their vows.
The reception followed in a tent draped with blue and white and filled with plush sofas to promote conversation, guests feasted on a Low Country buffet of smoked ham, collard greens, black-eyed pea cakes and mini pimento grilled cheese sandwiches. As the band lit into Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," the newlyweds glided onto the dance floor, then welcomed up their friends and family, who kept the party going until the newlyweds' grand send-off. "We left in a horse-drawn carriage for two with a driver who wore a suit and a top hat," Ellis says. "It was one of my fantasies come true!" —Cara Birnbaum
Our Favorite Things
Always in Tune: As a part-time musician who plays guitar with Live Oak, a local band, Campbell knows what will get the crowd up on its feet, so he and Ellis hired the funk and soul septet The Legendary JCs. "They blew the roof off the whole party," Ellis says. "Campbell and his friends even got to play a few songs with them!"
Take Five: To relax on the morning of the wedding, Ellis pampered herself with breakfast in bed and a massage in her hotel room; Campbell tossed around a football with family and friends.
Fast and French: Gourmet food stations lined the reception tent, but, says Ellis's mom, Susan, "We served French fries in silver mint julep cups—they were the big hit of the night!"
Feeling Good: The bridesmaids' gifts were pretty and practical: silk pashminas and blue and brown flip-flops for reception dancing.