Everything seemed to come together in ways that Amanda Greeley, the owner, and designer of Thelma, didn’t expect for her wedding with Douglas Johnson in Charleston. “I hadn’t thought much about what my wedding would be like until it came time to plan it,” she admits. After quickly deciding to say “I do” in Charleston at the Gadsden House, she landed on a winter wedding—something she never considered—as January 25 was the only available date at the venue, and black-tie dress code at the suggestion of Douglas. Her visions suddenly came to life: “I imagined an intimate ceremony followed by a night of dinner and dancing,” she says. “I wanted the whole thing to feel like an elegant, adult-affair.”
I imagined an intimate ceremony followed by a night of dinner and dancing. I wanted the whole thing to feel like an elegant, adult-affair.
Amanda collaborated with Gregory Blake Sams of Gregory Blake Sams Events for event planning and design, working to evoke classic, "old Hollywood" movie feel in the venue, which is actually a stately Charleston home. Colors stuck to whites and olives, including on the dainty design of the porcelain, florals in her bouquet, and the wax seal-stamped escort cards. The dinner took place in a tent adorned with table lamps and rich olive fabrics, featuring a meal of filet mignon, gnocchi, and caviar, all topped off with coupes of Champagne.
Among the other things Amanda didn’t predict was her dress, an Oscar de la Renta strapless ball gown that she admits she second-guessed several times. When her bridal gown atelier, Jin Wang, mentioned they could adapt the fullness of the skirt, she was set. “It reminded me of the gown Grace Kelly wears in To Catch a Thief, one of my childhood faves,” Amanda says, referring to the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock film.
By the end of the night, all the mid-century, classic vibes transitioned to something a little more funky and unexpected: a dance party at a 1970s nightclub, The Commodore. “It felt right because my husband and I have had some fun late nights there over the years,” the bride adds.
Amanda worked closely with the team at Mac & Murphy on the layout of the invitations, which resulted in a modern embossed design.
It reminded me of the gown Grace Kelly wears in To Catch a Thief, one of my childhood faves.
“I had no intention of wearing a strapless dress,” Amanda says of her Oscar de la Renta ball gown made of silk and cotton lace. “I almost didn’t want this dress to be the one. I had seen it on the runway.”
To help her feel more "herself" in the dress, the team at Jin Wang in San Francisco edited down the volume of the skirt. Amanda also added contemporary accessories to make it feel more modern.
She wore gold and pearl Sophie Buhai earrings and champagne-colored satin Manolo Blahnik pump as well as her mother’s diamond tennis bracelet, a gift from her father in the 1980s. She carried an all-white bouquet.
Amanda opted for no bridesmaids but did get ready with three dear friends.
“It’s worth wearing something you feel comfortable and like yourself in,” Amanda says of her final bridal look. “I also loved that you could see the shoes peeking out from the front of the dress.”
Amanda’s father, David Greeley, escorted her down the aisle in a white dinner jacket. Amanda says that later that evening, her father’s speech was one of her favorite memories. “He looked amazing in his white jacket too,” she adds.
Douglas donned a Ralph Lauren Purple Label tuxedo with a Gucci bow tie for the ceremony, which was officiated by his good friend, Andy Maham. The couple exchanged their own vows, including sweet stories about their life together.
“Our vows were very ‘us,’” Amanda says. After their first kiss, the couple’s band played “What The World Needs Now,” cueing the guests to make their way to the cocktail hour and reception area downstairs.
“I love being a host so, first and foremost, we wanted to throw a great party for all of our family and friends,” Amanda says of the celebration. She handled most of the planning for the day while Douglas single-handedly organized their honeymoon to St. Barths and Anguilla.
The reception stuck to the olive green-and-white color scheme, including the statement arrangements at the entryway and the centerpiece escort card table.
Seating arrangements were printed on simple white tented cards, elevated by white wax seals.
The reception took place in a tent outside. A clear tent filled with large plants and a classic black and white floor led the way to the “sexy” dinner party tent draped in olive green fabrics.
Lamps were certainly a design feature throughout the celebration. The entryway was lit by a gold chandelier that would echo the small tabletop lamps and lampshades on the dinner tables. The Champagne bar included a more modern lamp, a nod to those set on the bar in the 1950s.
“I wish it could have stayed up longer,” Amanda says of the tented reception space. Gregory Blake Sams worked with Small Masterpiece to design the table settings, which included Bernardaud porcelain plates, antique silver flatware, and menus that also served as place cards.
I love being a host so, first and foremost, we wanted to throw a great party for all of our family and friends.
“Make sure you are having the wedding you want to have and not trying to please others through your wedding,” Amanda advises to other couples planning.
The menu included “classics,” the bride says, like parsnip soup, filet mignon, and cake. To add a few personal touches, they served caviar, a nod to discovering the delicacy on a trip to New York together, and a Champagne bar. The couple’s favorite local wine shop, Graft, curated the three special bottlings.
A live band played throughout dinner and for the couple’s first dance. The newlyweds danced to “Fly Me to the Moon,” by Bobby Womack before cutting into their cake. The rest of the dancing would take place at The Commodore later in the evening.
Wildflour Pastry, one of the couple’s favorite local bakeries, crafted the four-tier confection filled with lemon almond cake.
“The whole day was really special,” Amanda says.
“I think it’s nice to remember that your wedding is extremely important to you and your partner and a handful of family members; everyone else is there to have a great time,” she adds. “It keeps it in perspective.”
The couple did a quick outfit swap—to a Monique Lhuillier gold dress and a blue velvet Tom Ford dinner jacket—and arrived at the dance party in a vintage Mercedes Benz convertible. On the way, the couple found a radio station playing old-school R&B, which perfectly fit the mood, Amanda says.
The after-party took place at The Commodore, which the bride describes as a funk club with a very 1970s vibe. Mike Quinn and the Motown Throwdown played for the revelers, who danced under a massive lantern installation by BoomBalloons and munched on late-night Vietnamese bites from Little Miss Ha.
When the newlyweds arrived at the after-party, they were greeted by all their guests holding sparklers for a grand entrance. “I would do it all again if I could,” Amanda says.
Venue Gadsden House
After-Party Venue The Commodore
Planner Gregory Blake Sams
Officiant Andy Maham
Jewelry Sophie Buhai
Shoes Manolo Blahnik
Hair & Makeup Meg Workman Beauty
Reception Dress Monique Lhuillier
Engagement Ring Blair Lauren Brown
Wedding Bands Suzanne Kalan
Floral Design Sarah York Grimshaw Designs
Stationery Mac & Murphy
Ceremony Music Kiral Artists
Reception Music Mike Quinn and Motown Throwdown
Cake Wildflour Pastry
Favors We Took to the Woods
Photography Lindsey Harris Shorter