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Friday, September 9, 2016

A Charming South Carolina Soirée

Words by Courtney Cox
Photos courtesy of Judy Nunez Photography

Tenille and Chris are a Southern California, go-getting couple who love to travel. So, after getting engaged, it was no surprise they opted to host a destination wedding. Two destinations immediately came to mind: Italy and Charleston, South Carolina. For these animal lovers, it was imperative they have their dogs with them on the big day, so South Carolina it was! They had visited the historic, Southern city before and knew it was both charming and pet friendly. “Chris and I were visiting his brother who lived in Charleston and we brought our dogs along,” says Tenille. “We wanted to do fun activities to see the city that involved our pups, so we went to Magnolia Plantation. We were not engaged at the time, but I remember us saying how beautiful it was and that it would be amazing to be married there one day.”

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Despite living in a popular wedding destination, the couple knew Southern California wasn’t the right fit for them. “When visiting Charleston we simply fell in love with its charm,” explains the bride. “And when we visited Magnolia Plantation we knew it was the perfect place for us and we never even looked or considered looking at venues in California.” While Tenille and Chris were confident in their South Carolina decision, some of their loved ones took a little convincing. Because the couple originally hails from different states, they knew travel was inevitable for most guests and stuck to their guns.

“Luckily most of our family was supportive, but there were some that protested the long flight over a holiday weekend (as it was over Thanksgiving),” says Tenille. “We knew that was to be expected. We went into the planning phase with the mantra that we were going to do what we wanted since it was our special day. So, when people complained about the timing or the distance, we politely said, ‘No worries if you can’t make it.’” These lovebirds did a great job of managing expectations throughout the planning process – both for themselves and their guests.

“We put the local airport to fly into in our invitations, as well as multiple hotels in various price categories and locations. We also made it clear of the distances between everything so people understood they had to get themselves around. Everyone seemed to find a place to stay and were happy with the arrangements.” After making the big decisions, like their venue and destination, the couple quickly decided to hire a local Charleston wedding planner – Beautiful Bride Events. “Once I hired my wedding planner, she kept everything in line,” explains the bride. “She coordinated all my appointments when I came into town to look over everything and she made everything fall into place.”

Hiring a planner ended up paying off in spades for the couple. “Once we got into the planning process and started looking at décor, we did have an issue arise…I felt like I could not remember the exact location and the set up,” says Tenille. “So after choosing vendors, I planned one more weekend to meet with everyone in person. My amazing planner and florist met me at the venue for us to talk through and visualize everything. Then we went to the rental company and they let me play around and decorate entire tables until I found everything I wanted. It made it so easy to see everything in its place and take photos for reference. We even scheduled in a cake tasting and our engagement photo session…all in two days.” Not all couples have the luxury of visiting their chosen location and venue ahead of the big day, so it sounds like Tenille made the most of the opportunity.

Once back in sunny SoCal, the couple didn’t run into any issues communicating with their planner and chosen vendors. “Sometimes scheduling calls or meetings was tough with my busy schedule and different time zones, but luckily my planner took the reigns for me and she would follow up to keep things running smoothly,” says the bride. “Email makes life so easy. Communication was a breeze and all the vendors I chose had fantastic websites so I could look at everything I needed. That was one of my must-have factors to choose a vendor, I am a big believer in marketing and when I came across a vendor with great reviews, but a poor website I ruled them out immediately.”

The bride had a hunch that a destination wedding would actually be the more peaceful plan than hosting a hometown wedding. “I felt planning a destination wedding may have been easier than planning something local. I have friends who would go to their venue dozens of times and meet florists and decorators, which just clouded their minds. You are able to be more focused and streamlined when you work mostly online.

“I honestly think it would have been more stressful if we held it at home. You feel more obligated to be a host and tour guide and shuttle everyone around. When you choose a destination, you are a visitor too so it makes you less accountable. I had a great experience and feel like my day turned out like a fairytale.” Not only was a wedding away less stressful, but it was budget-friendly since the couple describes Southern California as “VERY expensive.”

Chris and Tenille ultimately ended up with the dog-friendly, charming Southern wedding they envisioned from the start. When we asked the bride what advice she would give other couples currently planning a destination wedding, she gave straightforward, helpful tips. “Plan for you and your partner, it is your dream day and everyone will want to have an opinion if you let them. Don’t sweat the small stuff either – only you know exactly what you had planned, so your guests won’t know any different if something does not go according to plan. And hire a planner! It was so great to know all the day-of stuff would be set up correctly and kept in order.”

Vendors: Photography: Judy Nunez Photography, Wedding Planner: Tassia Davis with Beautiful Bride Events, Ceremony/Reception Site: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Florist: Anna Bella Florals, Stationery: printed by bride, Cake: Sablee, Hair & Makeup: Wedding Hair by Charlotte, Gown Designer: Inbal Dror, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Hugo Boss, Ceremony Music: Susie The Wedding Fiddler, DJ: David Fox with Bunn DJ Company, Catering/Bar: The Loophole, Rentals & Draping: Simply Elegant Rentals, Transportation: Lowcountry Valet & Shuttle Co.

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