When Bryan met Carter at an off-campus party during their freshman year at Vanderbilt, he was convinced he didn't want a girlfriend during his first year of college. But after hanging out together for a few weeks, all trepidation fell away. But even after eight years of dating, Bryan managed to take Carter by surprise one summer's day in 2012 when, halfway through a sweaty run, he dropped down on one knee. "While I can't say I looked my best for the post-engagement pictures, it is something that was personal to us and, of course, something I will never forget," she says.
Though Carter and Bryan, now 27, live in New York, they headed to Charleston, Bryan's hometown, for a thoroughly Southern affair last summer at Middleton Place. With the help of Allison Jackson from Pineapple Productions, the couple mixed a preppy summer palette, a farm-to-table menu, and plenty of personal touches to create a picture-perfect bash. Check out Lynne Brubaker and Kate Headley's photos of Carter and Bryan's gorgeous wedding below!
Stationer Cheree Berry helped Carter and Bryan create an invitation that reflected the elegant, laid-back Southern vibe they were searching for. The couple's invitations were navy letterpress on heavy white stock, edged in bright orange, with a beige linen backing. Cheree also incorporated striped pattern details in the suite, to reflect the blue-and-white stripes in Carter and Bryan's palette, and finished it off with a custom monogram.
Carter's sister, a wedding planner, was dying for her to wear a traditional ball gown, but Carter wanted something easy and simple. She found the perfect compromise in a strapless silk Amsale dress. "It felt simple and modern, and what I loved most is that I felt like me in it," she says. She paired it with a bouquet of peonies, roses, foxglove and clematis, and her grandmother's sapphire ring—something old, new, borrowed and blue all at once!
Carter chose long blue gowns for her bridesmaids, paired with simple Jack Rogers sandals, for an easy, elegant vibe. Her two flower girls wore the same sandals as the bridesmaids (which delighted them to no end)! The guys stuck to linen suits and ultra-preppy sailboat ties, a Charleston classic.
Carter and Bryan went with traditional vows, because, as Carter put it, she couldn't find more beautiful words to express how they feel about each other. After her father walked her down an extra-long aisle, she and Bryan signed a marriage certificate in front of all her guests. "It gave us a moment to breathe, but also allowed us to actually make the moment official in front of everyone we love," she says.
Carter and Bryan chose Middleton Place for its casual southern vibe. "It felt like we were in a fairy tale, which is what everyone imagines when they think about their wedding day," Carter says. They filled their tent reception with a mix of long picnic tables, square farm tables, and round tables covered with burlap, hung Edison lights and curtains made from blue ticking fabric, and added a piece de resistance—a gleaming whitewashed bar with a copper top, right in the center of the cocktail tent.
To personalize their bash, Carter and Bryan skipped traditional table numbers and named each table after a restaurant they loved in the cities where they've lived: Nashville, DC, Charleston, and New York. Instead of escort cards, each guests picked up a mini "Zagat Guide" with a list of each table and what restaurant it represented. So cute!
Carter and Bryan invented their own signature cocktail: the Sweet Tennessee, a potent mix of bourbon, honey and mint named after their college years in Nashville.
After cocktail hour guests moved to a larger tent for dinner, where organza pendants in layered shades of cream hung over huge beeswax candles and votives. Each table was laden with fresh flowers, peaches, and green plums in distressed wooden boxes, tin vases, and pails.
Carter originally wanted to skip a wedding cake in favor of "his" and "hers" dessert tables, but her traditional dad's sweet tooth convinced her to go for it. Caterer Susan Gage kept it simple with a small, all-white wedding cake covered with Swiss dots and topped with an H, for their last name.
They rounded out the dessert course with shortcake served with fruit and preserves.
Carter loved every moment of her wedding night, but she'll never forget Bryan's toast to her. "While he can sometimes be shy and is a man of few words, he got up in front of everyone and said he was the luckiest guy in the room and always would be," she says. Her advice to other couples? Make time to really dance together, just the two of you, and soak in the night as a couple.
Ceremony and Reception Site: Middleton Place
Wedding Planner: Allison Jackson of Pineapple Productions
Bride's Wedding Dress: Amsale
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Hair and Makeup: Stuart Laurence Salon
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale
Groom's and Groomsmen's Attire: J.Crew
Engagement Ring: Boone and Sons
Wedding Bands: Croghan's
Invitations and paper goods: Cheree Berry Paper
Florist: Beehive Events
Music: Dexter Lake Club Band
Catering and Cake: Susan Gage Catering
Videographer: Hart to Heart Media