Chris Russell tried to buy Orsella Reyes a drink the night they first met, but it didn’t go as planned. “The bar didn’t accept his credit card, so I ended up buying our drinks," she remembers. "Thankfully we both thought it was really funny!” What followed was a four-year relationship, culminating in a 10-day trip to Europe. “On the seventh day, after we’d stuffed ourselves with wine and seafood, Chris and I took a walk along the beach in San Sebastian, on Spain’s northern coast,” she says. “As we were admiring the view, he proposed in the sand.
I only remember that I started sobbing—happy tears, of course!”
With 115 family members and friends traveling to join in on the April 22, 2017, celebration, the couple knew they wanted their venue to feel like a true getaway. They headed south to the Inn at Serenbe in Palmetto, Georgia, and planned a modern and chic wedding to contrast with the rustic setting. Photographed by Jeremy Harwell of Harwell Photography, this gorgeous open-air wedding is a fresh, modern take on a rustic outdoor wedding.
Orsella was sure she wanted a beaded lace dress for her wedding day—until she spotted this ivory satin and tulle Vera Wang gown. “I had such a hard time narrowing it down and ultimately chose the gown that fit my style best," she says. "I never had that teary, emotional moment!” To complement the tulle ruffles on the train, the bride added a sheer long-sleeved bolero for the ceremony and bridal portraits.
Orsella’s all-white bouquet combined stalks of pieris with touches of sweet peas. The understated florals and lush greenery were a perfect match for the couple’s invitation suite, which featured modern fonts and accents of illustrated leaves.
The outdoor ceremony took place in the Inn’s open-air pavilion, which is flanked by tall pine trees. “Our florist, Amy Osaba, created a semi-circle of flowers and greenery that we stood in,” says the bride. “It was as if it had grown there just for us!”
Chris and Orsella spent months writing their vows and personalizing the proceedings. The bride walked down the aisle with her parents while an acoustic guitar played hit songs by Coldplay and John Legend. The bride's mother and Chris's uncle also read special passages during the ceremony.
The open sides of the Inn at Serenbe’s pavilion allowed guests to feel like they were outside, even when they were under shelter from the southern heat. White draping added to romantic setting.
Guests sipped rosé, finished with a sprig of lavender, and dined on a menu inspired by one of their favorite restaurants, Blue Hill at Stone Barns outside of New York City. "We did farm-to-table, seasonal, family-style sides and desserts, as we wanted the dinner to feel intimate and like you were dining at our home," Orsella says.
Instead of traditional escort cards, guests’ seat assignments were printed on a modern, oversized sign at the entrance to the pavilion.
Inside, garlands of greenery were hung from the ceiling, leaving the tables sleek and simple. Clear ghost chairs added a glam touch, while gray candles glowed from clear candlesticks.
After a meal of refined southern cuisine, guests were treated to an indulgent dessert selection that included lemon bars with brown-butter shortbread, fudge brownies with mascarpone crème, and a sampler of marshmallows.
Orsella and Chris shared their first dance to “Stay” by Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs.
At the end of the night, Orsella had this to say about her vendor dream team: “Letting go of the details was so much easier than I expected. We had so many talented people working to bring our vision to life. Trust those you hire, and the whole process will be so much more enjoyable!”
Wedding Planner: Kristine Doggett of Bellafare || Venue: The Inn at Serenbe || Bride's & Bridesmaids' Dresses: Vera Wang || Bride's Shoes: Gianvito Rossi || Bride's Jewelry: Ben Amun || Hair & Makeup: Claudia Merjerle || Groom's & Groomsmen's Attire: Suit Supply || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Georgia Diamond Corp. || Floral Design: Amy Osaba Design || Paper Products: Venamour || Catering: Dennis Dean Catering || Desserts: Tessa Pinner Cake || Entertainment: Evan Koteles, Scratch Weddings || Rentals: 12th Table, Rentals Unlimited || Lighting: Unique Event Elements || Transportation: Casey Corporate Transportation || Photo Booth: Smilebooth || Photography: Jeremy Harwell