Lauren Schaper knew exactly where she wanted to get married when she was just seven years old: on the beach in DeBordieu, South Carolina. So, immediately after Gabe Simpson, her boyfriend of two years proposed, the location for their August 17, 2019 wedding was set.
The pair recruited the talents of wedding planner Lindsey Boyce of Host & Haven to design a beautiful seaside celebration on the very beach Lauren had been dreaming of for so long. "As Lauren and I began to talk about the intentions for the big day and their relationship, a feeling of overwhelming joy came over our conversations," remembers Boyce of the first few days of planning. "This was a couple that gave so much appreciation for the beautiful life they were creating and did not take for granted the incredible way they met. I wanted to design an event that felt that joyful, that felt like them."
The décor—which featured subdued colors and lush florals—put the natural beauty of the South Carolina shore on full display. Guests even spotted dolphins swim past during the ceremony and a rainbow formed after the couple said "I do!"
Keep reading to escape to the serene beach and experience the classic coastal nuptials, photographed by Elizabeth Lanier Photography.
Fitting for the seaside venue, the couple and their wedding planning team chose a nautical palette of blue, seafoam green, yellow, and cream. "We wanted to evoke feelings of joy and familiarity and also tell the story of the surrounding landscape," says Lauren and Gabe's lead planner, Lindsey Boyce.
Since the nuptials were a destination celebration, guests were greeted with woven welcome bags filled with individual bags of popcorn, taffy, and an itinerary of the weekend's events.
Choosing the bride's family home as the scene of the "I dos" was an easy decision for the couple. Lauren had grown up vacationing in DeBordieu and Gabe quickly created special memories of his own in the seaside town after he met his bride. Adds Boyce, "The thought of sharing such a special event there and being able to share that with their children made it a no brainer for both of them."
Lauren was looking for a "sophisticated, captivating, down to earth, sexy and authentic" gown and this sleeveless lace dress by Grace Loves Lace fit the bill. The dress even brought Lauren's mother to tears when Lauren first tried it on in the bridal salon—a sure sign the illusion neck look was the one!
Lauren's father gifted her diamond studs, which complemented her simple updo and delicate makeup perfectly.
The bride also carried a sophisticated white and green bouquet of seasonal blooms like garden roses, ranunculus, palms, and white lavender.
Gabe was the epitome of a beach groom in his khaki suit. He also sported a Rolex watch that Lauren's father gifted him as a "welcome" to the family.
Lauren and Gabe affixed their watercolor ceremony programs to paper fans so guests could keep cool in the South Carolina heat.
"We wanted their guests to really see the beauty of the ocean in the background," says Boyce of the simple ceremony décor. With the Atlantic Ocean as the altar, the couple created a white wooden aisle lined with floral arrangements.
Since Lauren's favorite color is blue, she asked her bridesmaids to wear silk skirts and dusty blue tops. On the other hand, the groomsmen followed Gabe's lead in khaki suits and bare feet!
The processional music was a surprise to both the bride and groom coordinated by Lauren's father. He flew world-renowned Senegalese artist Baaba Maal to South Carolina to perform "There Will Be Time," a song Lauren played on repeat after meeting Gabe. "Her face walking down the aisle with her dad to his beautiful voice is something I will never forget," recalls Boyce. "There was almost an exhale knowing that this dream in her head was in fact now a reality."
"During the ceremony, a flock of seagulls crossed over the water just as the couple exchanged their vows," says Boyce. "Guests even noticed dolphins and sharks swimming in the ocean from their seats!"
Along with the help of their wedding officiant, Lauren's uncle, the couple wrote their own wedding ceremony, which also included a poem Lauren's mother wrote for the couple.
As many couples fear, morning showers threatened to alter the couple's outdoor wedding plans. "[Lauren] went into her bedroom and asked for all her loved ones that had passed and angels to give them 20 minutes of no rain for their ceremony," recalls Boyce. Sure enough, the rain ceased moments before the nuptials began. "It was like the clouds parted and Lauren, Gabe, and their families knew they had someone looking over them."
Since Lauren and Gabe have lived across the country, they actually weren't able to be there for every step of the planning process. However, they had full faith in their planner and Lauren's mom frequently stepped in to help.
Guests were transported from the beachfront ceremony to the bride's family home for a reception under a sailcloth tent.
As they arrived, friends and family were greeted with a refreshing signature vodka cucumber cocktail and enjoyed freshly shucked oysters from Oysters XO.
Inside the tent, welcoming lounge areas and circular tables were dressed in light blue linen and topped with lush arrangements and taper candles.
"The floral was designed to be a combination of coastal and classic, with a hint of modern," says Boyce of the green and white arrangements in ceramic, glass, and driftwood vases. "The texture and design kept the overall effect slightly asymmetrical, without straying too far from a classic feel."
Mr. and Mrs. Simpson made their way to the reception tent with champagne in hand. Lauren even slipped into a pair of sandals to prepare for the long night of dancing ahead.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the couple's décor was the custom drapery, which was designed to replicate the ocean waves. "Underneath the Veil helped me created a custom installation that mimicked the movement of the water from the map on the ceiling," says Boyce. "Each piece was cut to show layers of slight color differentiation, texture, and movement. Once the air was turned on, the fabric actually moved."
A testament to a successful celebration, the dancefloor stay packed the entire tonight. The bride took a stab at crowd surfing (with the help of the groomsmen!) and the groom "jumped on the cake table and then slide on his knees through the crowd, channeling his inner Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing."
Before enjoying food stations of shrimp and grits, shaved cucumber and heirloom tomato salad, pepper seared tenderloin, local fish, grilled pineapple, jasmine rice, and fried plantains, the newlyweds joined their guests in a champagne toast.
Prior to the wedding, Lauren paid homage to her mother by wearing a replica of her wedding dress to the rehearsal dinner, "original lace and all!"
The newlyweds celebrated their union with a first dance to "Cast Iron Soul" by Jamestown Revival. Later, Lauren surprised her guests with a choreographed father-daughter number!
The kept their cake classic, opting for tiers of white almond cake with white chocolate buttercream. On top, it was decorated with fresh raspberries and delicate floral piping.
The couple also served an assortment of mini key lime pies, berry cheesecake bites, and chili and smoked sea salt chocolate truffles.
As the night when on, Lauren embraced her California style and changed into a white romper and Nike hightops—the perfect outfit to run through a cloud of bubbles!
All too fitting for a Carolina celebration—the couple escaped by boat! But, the newlyweds weren't ready to say goodbye to their wedding night just yet and even snuck back into the tent after their creekside ride. "They went back to the tent and took time to still soak in the night and the most amazing night of their lives," adds their planner.
Planner and Designer Lindsey Boyce of Host & Haven
Bridal Gown Grace Loves Lace
Bride's Shoes Alexandre Birman
Hair and Makeup Meg Workman Beauty
Bridesmaid Dresses Bella Bridesmaids; Revelry
Groom's Attire Black Tux
Floral Design Fern Studio
Caterer Cru Catering; Oysters XO
Custom Bar Blossoms Events
Cake Incredible Edibles Bakery
Ceremony Music Baaba Maal
Reception Music Musical Fantasy
Stationery Swell Press
Welcome Bags A Signature Welcome
Rentals EventWorks; Ooh! Events; Snyder
Linens La Tavola
Tent Company Skyline Southeast
Lighting Technical Event Company
Draping Underneath The Veil
Restroom Trailer Royal Restrooms
Videography Hart to Heart Media
Photography Elizabeth Lanier Photography