Southern hospitality sets the stage for a stylish seaside wedding

They met in South Carolina, studied in Germany, taught English in Japan, worked in Houston and settled in Alexandria, Virginia. When it was time to marry, Brooke Barrett and Ajesh D'Souza came full circle and chose historic Charleston, South Carolina, for their May wedding. “I grew up spending summers on the Carolina coast and always dreamed of getting married there,” explains Brooke, 28. Under the guidance of her childhood pastor, she and Ajesh, 29, exchanged vows in grand Stella Maris church on Sullivan's Island, a popular beach town located at the entrance of Charleston Harbor. To give their 200 out-of-town guests, including his relatives from Mangalore, India, a taste of the city, the couple's event planner, Tara Guérard, arranged a post-ceremony cocktail cruise around the harbor, perfectly timed to coincide with the city's annual maritime festival.

Back on land, at the Belvidere Club & Resort, the crowd browsed an eclectic buffet that included lamb kabobs (the recipe came from Ajesh's mom), Japanese and Tex-Mex dishes, Southern deviled eggs, and BLTs. (“We wanted to serve all the foods that we love,” explains Brooke.) As the sun set over the party tent on the resort's lawn, a birthday cake with a sparkler topper was rolled out as a surprise for Ajesh, who turned 30 the next day. “As my whole family—the existing one and my newly added one—gathered around me and started singing 'Happy Birthday,' I was overjoyed,” recalls the emotional groom. “This was the pinnacle of an evening that just kept getting better and better.” —Hillary Quinn

Our Favorite Things

From Sea to Shining Sea: Friends and family enjoyed a beachside welcome dinner, complete with a Lowcountry boil (shrimp, sausage, corn, potatoes) and mementos of Brooke's youth. “Since the beach I went to as a child doesn't allow large parties, my mother filled the centerpieces that night with sand and seashells taken from there. It was really special!”

High-Energy Drink: While cruising the harbor, wedding guests were served a peach Schnapps and lemonade cocktail (tinted blue!) coined “Oil and Gas,” a tribute to Brooke and Ajesh, who work in those fields.

Color Code: When she chose aqua and tan as her wedding colors, Brooke had more in mind than just saluting the beach's two-tone palette. “I knew blue was a calming color, and I really wanted all our guests to relax,” she says. “Plus, the colors are simple and classic, and that's my style, too.”

The flower girl's basket, brimming with peonies, was embellished with shells to tie in with the beachside locale.

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