When Charlie Williams proposed to Molly Higgins in August 2017, she got as close to the Sweet Home Alabama proposal as a girl could hope for. “We took a trip to the beach for a weekend, and while we were driving around and dreaming about the beach house we’d own one day, he surprised me by stopping at a jeweler to design my engagement ring," she recalls. “He had a diamond from his grandmother’s ring, and I was able to design the setting around it. I loved it!” A month later, with Molly’s dream ring in hand, Charlie got down on one knee on the beach at sunset before their family and friends joined them to celebrate.
Molly says she has always loved the storybook feel of her family’s home in Waterford, Virginia, and knew it was the perfect setting for a relaxed celebration on May 26, 2018. “Our inspiration was Jane Austen meets Anne of Green Gables,” says the bride, who asked for lush greens and flowers that appeared to be foraged from the nearby fields.
Charlie and Molly’s wedding was all hands on deck, with the bride’s mother, sisters, in-laws, and bridesmaids playing crucial roles in the planning, doing everything from the ceremony flowers to the bride’s gown alterations. “I am so incredibly blessed to have such talented women in my life, and I was so thankful to have them rally around us in such big ways,” says Molly. Add photographer Kate Headley to the mix, and you’ve got a serious girl squad ready to make wedding magic. Keep reading for more!
Vintage stamps and silk ribbon gave the invitation suite the feeling of relaxed country elegance and hinted at the homey celebration to come.
Molly says she has always loved the sleeves on her mother’s wedding gown from the ’70s but wasn’t able to find anything similar while dress shopping. “My mom is an amazing seamstress and used to work on wedding gowns, so we decided that she would make the sleeves to fit my vision,” she says. The bodice and skirt of her gown were made with a simple, fitted French crepe silk gown from Essense of Australia, while the sheer sleeves were made of silk chiffon. “My mother made four different sleeve styles in four different fabrics for me to choose from,” says the bride.
The bride’s lace-edged veil was borrowed from her sister-in-law, Genevieve, and her thick-heeled sandals were Badgley Mischka. “I thought I was going to splurge on shoes, but realized they’d be filthy after a day in muddy fields and on gravel roads," she adds. "A thick heel and a moderate price seemed much more practical!”
Charlie donned a classic John Varvatos suit, brown Cole Haan wingtips, and his father’s original wedding band. “Charlie’s parents have been happily married for over 30 years, so Charlie loved the idea of having that good energy carried into our marriage,” Molly explains.
Molly’s wild bouquet paired soft pink astrantia, baby’s breath, eucalyptus, lavender larkspur, baby white daisies, nigella, white peonies and chocolate Queen Anne’s lace. Her bridesmaids carried bouquets of soft pink astrantia, baby’s breath, eucalyptus, lavender larkspur, baby white daisies, nigella, and blue thistle.
Molly and Charlie’s grandparents have passed, but the couple made a point to include them in as many ways as possible. Molly's engagement ring features a stone from Charlie’s grandmother and the rose-gold band on her right hand belonged to her great-grandmother. She also wore another great-grandmother’s monogrammed mother-of-pearl and rose-gold pin on her cuff and tucked her grandmother’s lace handkerchief into her sleeve.
Sweet Root Village made the bouquets and provided the reception flowers, but the décor at John Wesley Church was created by Molly’s sister. “The church is so charming, and reminds me of the chapel in Georgia where JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette were married,” says the bride. Her sister created wreaths of eucalyptus, boxwood, larkspur, peonies, and ranunculus for the doors, as well as a lush garland for the altar.
As Molly and her father walked down the aisle, her sister (yes, the same one who made the wreaths!) sang, accompanied by a harpist.
Molly’s mother was determined to give her youngest daughter a royal wedding moment, hiring a horse-drawn carriage to take the newlyweds from the church to the family home. “We were supposed to have shuttles to transport our guests, in order to keep them from getting stuck in a traffic jam behind us and the horse, but the shuttles never arrived,” Molly says. “We wound up having a huge processional, with onlookers stopping to wave and take pictures as we and all of our guests meandered by.”
Guests gathered on the lawn of Molly’s childhood home for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, sitting on wicker furniture the bride set out that morning. “I was arranging furniture in my silk robe and full hair and makeup before getting dressed," she recalls. "It had rained the night before, so we waited to put the furniture out until it was dry. A wedding at home is a labor of love!”
Beneath the nearby tent, the couple’s 135 guests were seated at bare farm tables topped with garlands of eucalyptus and taper candles in brass candlesticks. Each gold-rimmed plate was topped with a champagne-hued napkin and a menu finished with a wax seal—which Molly had assembled the day before!
One of Molly’s bridesmaids is an incredible baker and offered to make the couple’s chocolate mousse wedding cake, topping the confection with fresh white peonies.
“If Father of the Bride has taught us anything, it’s that weddings at home are so much work,” says Molly. “I was in denial about it when we first started planning—and in hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing—but there was no denying the challenge as we got deeper into planning. You have to consider everything: renting tents for dinner and for the caterer, fire codes, procuring tables and chairs, finding a spot for restroom trailers, landscaping, maintaining the exterior of the house...the list goes on and on! My father was doing yard work 10 minutes before we left for the ceremony. It was so worth it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but if you’re considering it yourself, know what you’re getting into!”
Ceremony Venue: The John Wesley Church
Officiant: Reverend Bill Copeland
Bride's Dress: Essense of Australia
Bride's Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Bride's Jewelry: BHLDN
Bridesmaids’ Hair: Lori Nansi
Bride & Bridesmaids’ Makeup: Jacqueline Gellner
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo
Groom's Attire: John Varvatos
Engagement Ring: Island Jewelers
Wedding Bands: Island Jewelers
Ceremony Florals: Megan Thomas
Floral Design: Sweet Root Village
Paper Products: Little Carabao Studio
Catering: 6 Star Events
Cake: Christina Boucher
Ceremony Music: Iraida Poberezhnaya
Reception Music: Wall and Frye Band
Tables & Bars: Local Wood Event Rentals, LLC
Chairs: Something Vintage
Tent & Lighting: Sammy’s Rental
Horse & Carriage: Shenandoah Carriage
Photography: Kate Headley