Janelle & Shola's Real Wedding, Bluffton, South Carolina
As the influencer behind @waityouneedthis, Janelle Lloyd styles the season's hottest looks, shares decor inspo, and tastes creative cocktails for a living. So it's not surprising that her wedding day included all of the above. But plot twist: That's all thanks to you, Brides readers! That's right, Janelle and her fiancé, Shola Akinrolabu, teamed up with us and let you, our stylish readers, vote on every single detail of their big day for our annual Brides Live Wedding event. You voted on the dress, the color palette, the jewelry (and even the honeymoon!) and when the results rolled in, it's safe to say that our editors were more than impressed. Thanks to your votes and opinions, the winning categories—an elegant ball gown, greenery-filled theme, floral bridesmaids dresses, and more—coordinated perfectly with the stunning coastal setting at our venue, Montage Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina. (Palm fronds at Palmetto Bluff? You know it!)
So, keep scrolling to see Jenny Fu's photos of what you put together, with the help of Brides editors and planner Brooke Keegan, for Janelle and Shola's wedding on August 4, 2018. And as you go, don't forget to gather inspo for your own wedding—late-night s'mores, anyone?—because it's time to plan now that you're a seasoned pro!
As a true New Yorker, Janelle knows that the best days begin with brunch. So, on her wedding day, she organized a special party and invited the ladies in her family to join her for a toast with Rosa Regale on the porch of her cottage. When they arrived, she surprised them with matching robes by Plum Pretty Sugar.
Janelle looked stunning (and oh-so-happy!) in her strapless "Bianca Marie" ball gown by Maggie Sottero and loose braid styled by Sexy Hair stylist Arlene Martin. "The dress was somewhat traditional, so I wanted my hair to feel relaxed and a bit bohemian," she explains.
The bride added her own flair to her look with statement floral earrings, rose-gold sandals, and a woven clutch. She also followed tradition with her mother's handkerchief as her "something old," friends' rings as her "something borrowed," and a blue garter as her "something blue."
Janelle and Shola, wearing a two-piece Kenneth Cole suit by Men's Wearhouse, had their first look on a secluded drive, which was framed perfectly by rows of towering moss-filled trees.
After their first look among the Spanish moss, the couple explored some of the resort's 20,000 acres to take portraits against the varied landscape. (Side note: We're especially fond of this swing idea as both a prop for pics and as lounge seating at the reception.)
For the ceremony at May River chapel, Brides tapped local florist Sara York Grimshaw to create a statement display using the voted-on greenery theme. She selected the room's main window—which, you guessed it, overlooks the May River—as her focal point and accented it with a lavish display of palms, white blooms, and tropical greenery. "Our planner, Brooke, also had the idea to decorate the lighting fixtures in the chapel," Janelle adds. "It was a small space, so it was nice to draw the eye up."
The bride spent time with her mother and sister (in Plum Pretty Sugar) before she made her grand entrance to "At Last" by Etta James. "I walked alone, but my father gave me away at the end of the aisle," she explains.
The couple asked Janelle's godfather, who is also a minister, to officiate their ceremony. Together they worked closely to personalize the proceedings with handwritten vows and special readings, including an excerpt from The Alchemist (Shola's favorite book) and a poem by Carrie Bradshaw (Janelle's favorite fictional character).
After exchanging vows and sealing them with a kiss, the newlyweds exited to "For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder.
Following the ceremony, Shola and Janelle escaped for a quick boat ride on the May River before joining their guests for cocktail hour.
Drinks were served on a nearby patio, where the signature bourbon cart served the couple's "His & Hers" cocktails. For hers, Janelle selected a mezcal tequila drink, while Shola opted for a peach and bourbon mixture that was perfect for their southern setting.
Thanks to rain the morning of the wedding, cocktail hour was actually moved inside to the porch of the River House. "It had a nice indoor-outdoor feel," Janelle says. As guests lounged on wicker furniture (with palm accent pillows), they tasted locally-inspired bites like mini fried chicken salad and shrimp sliders. "Our main focus was on food, music, and other entertainment," says the bride.
Inside the reception space, the escort card display was a literal take on the couple's greenery theme. Large palm fronds were placed inside baby blue vessels and surrounded by white cards from Minted that were decorated with gold palms.
Janelle, ever the style influencer, changed into a second look by Maggie Sottero—the figure-flattering "Ellington" gown!—for the reception.
Shola and Janelle selected "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers for their first dance. "We took lessons, but ended up throwing pretty much the whole routine out the window the week before the wedding," she says, with a laugh. "We saved a few moves, but just had fun with it!"
The ballroom was filled with romantic candlelight thanks to the mixture of candlesticks (in varying shades of green) and pillar candles (in hurricane vases) on each table. The tables were kept minimal—with a neutral base of white linens and plates and small floral arrangements in bud vases—in an effort to let the greenery take center stage.
Everyone enjoyed a three-course meal as they listened to the maid of honor and best man's toasts.
David Sampson, Montage Palmetto Bluff’s executive pastry chef, created the couple's three-tiered buttercream cake. The white cake featured two different fillings: fresh peaches with peach buttercream and fresh raspberries and blackberries with Bavarian cream.
The cake cutting!
But the cake wasn't the only dessert of the night. Outside, the resort's signature s'mores cart was also on standby in case anyone wanted a late-night chocolate fix.
The groom's family is Nigerian so as dancing was underway, the couple slipped out to put on traditional Nigerian wedding attire. "We re-entered the reception with a parade of Shola’s family members, who were also dressed in traditional wear," Janelle explains. They then performed the traditional Nigerian money dance, during which guests tossed small bills at the happy couple to represent their hopes for good fortune. "It was a big highlight," adds the bride.
And with that, we'll say: Congrats to the happy couple—and thanks for letting us be a part of such a special day!