She lived in Charleston, he lived in Atlanta, but Lindsay and Clay Willis still still managed to cross paths in June 2014 thanks to a mutual friend. And for their first official date, Clay pulled out the all the stops, buying his now-wife a plane ticket to visit...but she chickened out last minute! After a rebooked flight and Clay's subsequent move to Charleston, the couple's relationship progressed promptly, and Clay popped the question in September 2016 in Saint John on Trunk Bay.
To make their nuptials more intimate for their nearest and dearest, the pair decided to jet-set to Harbour Island, Bahamas, for their November 11, 2017 wedding. "We love the Bahamas, and wanted to share one of our favorites places with all of our friends and family," Lindsay explains. "Harbour Island is just a very special place—it's quaint, curated, and has amazing food and great character." However, despite the beach destination, the couple strove to avoid an overtly casual feel, opting instead for a black-tie-meets-island-chic vibe. (Think James Bond, says the bride.) Island-hopping, a post-ceremony parade, and an incredibly glamorous reception set the scene, as did the island's pink church and venue's hand-painted dance floor. So keep reading to see how Clay and Lindsay's black-tie, island wedding, captured by Pura Soul Photography, came to life.
Lindsay opted for silver Sophia Webster stilettos—which she kept on the entire time. "I never take my shoes off at weddings," admits the bride. "Ruins the outfit!" She also accessorized with a pair of emerald earrings from her grandmother and a Judith Leiber evening bag.
A bouquet of peonies, garden roses, hydrangeas, eucalyptus, ivy, and berries complemented Lindsay's wedding gown. From the start, she knew she wanted to wear "something different," ultimately falling in love with a high-neck, silver shantung frock by Peter Langner. "This dress was surprisingly lightweight, and I loved the color and the texture in the fabric," she says. "The fit was spot on—I was sold right away!"
The bride admits her dress wasn't exactly what she thought she'd choose, but she loved how it maintained the illusion of a column silhouette in the front, while showcasing a dramatic full, tulle skirt and plunging back from behind.
Adhering to the black-tie island vibe, Lindsay outfitted her bridesmaids in elegant, high-low dresses by Alfred Sung. "The ladies had just the right amount of length to be formal, and the skirt's height let in the breeze," she says.
The flower girl looks closely mirrored the bride's dress. "I thought it was important for the flower girls to feel youthful, but refined, especially because they weren’t young girls," says Lindsay.
Golf carts—the only form of transportation on the island—escorted guests to the wedding chapel, a colorful structure built in 1768 that locals have deemed "the Little Pink Church." Inside, floral arrangements (sourced entirely from neighboring foliage) flanked the entrance and altar, while the pews were decorated with white ribbons and fresh greenery.
The couple's photographer can attest to the fact that not a single eye remained dry as Lindsay's younger brother, Teddy, escorted her down the aisle to "Ave Maria." And after the vows, the Peanuts theme song, "Linus and Lucy" by Vince Guaraldi, played as Lindsay and Clay made their grand exit.
With a local Junkanoo band performing Bahamian renditions of classic tunes, the wedding crew paraded from the church to Harbor Island's main dock. From there, the couple's 72 guests hopped aboard motor boats that transported them to the reception.
The party continued at the Other Side, a sophisticated boutique hotel located on the nearby island of Eleuthera. The groom donned a custom navy suit, black Ferragamo loafers, vintage coin cufflinks, and a bow tie.
On the hotel's beachfront property, a Sperry tent was set up to house two long, rectangular tables, which were decorated with sprigs of local greenery, coconuts, gold sequined tablecloths, rattan placemats, and bamboo chairs. To showcase the pair's love of seafood, personalized oyster shells were calligraphed with each guest's name to mark the place settings.
According to the bride, the night's menu was "the best wedding food ever." The family-style meal included a local catch of the day, lamb, grilled market vegetables, sautéed corn and avocado, and sweet potato puree. "I wanted our wedding dinner to feel like I was having everyone over for dinner at our home," she explains. "It felt extremely personal and special to all of us."
Nestled between the reception tent and cocktail bar, the hand-painted dance floor was put to good use following Clay's wedding toast, which personally addressed each attendant. After that, guests danced beneath the stars to music courtesy of famed local DJ Jamal. In fact, the couple says compiling the music was the easiest planning task as they asked their friends to weigh in on which songs they wanted to hear during specific points of the celebration. "It was collaborative, fun, and really so simple," says the bride.
To commemorate their own first dance, Lindsay and Clay selected "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John, and ended their night on the dance floor. (In fact, their photographer says they never left!)
Ceremony Venue: St. John’s Anglican Church
Reception Venue: The Other Side
Wedding Planner, Catering, Cake, & Rentals: Little Island Designs
Bride's Veil: Debra Shirley
Bride's Shoes: Sophia Webster
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Alfred Sung
Groom's Attire: Billy Reid
Groom's Cufflinks: Ben Silver
Groom's Shoes: Ferragamo
Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux
Flower Girl Attire: Nordstrom
Floral Design: Wildflowers Bahamas
Invitations: Mac and Murphy
Calligraphy: Tara Jones Calligraphy
Music: DJ Jamal Johnson
Accommodations: The Ocean View Club
Photographer: Pura Soul Photography