sail boat wedding ceremony

Nautical Nuptials in the Low Country


August 1, 2023
Words by Savannah Bowdoin
Photos courtesy of Alexis Lunsford Photography

Calm seas and steady sunshine led to a splendid day on the water in the Holy City. For this elopement-inspired editorial, our vision was to curate a day that felt equal parts refined and relaxed. While nodding to the polished nature and endless charm of Charleston was top-of-mind, we aimed to take a less predictable approach to a maritime motif by leaning further towards the organic beauty of the Low Country marshes and less towards the standard–and often swanky–sense of Southern glamor found throughout town.

As you scroll through the imagery of this early November day, you’ll see more earth tones and seafaring greens than nautical navy, with texture at the forefront of each vignette. Intentionality was of the utmost importance throughout the design process, paying careful attention to each and every selection, including the wording and direction of the invitation suite. Knowing that bringing a sailboat into the equation would require guest-count restrictions in real life, we chose to proceed with an elopement rather than a traditional wedding. In admiring the suite, handcrafted and designed by Maria Daas of Glory Co., you’ll notice that the main element is an announcement of marriage that is paired with a separate invitation to an intimate, at-home supper for the newlyweds’ most-treasured loved ones. A custom sketch of local blooms and grasses adorns the announcement, with an equally as custom watercolor painting gracing the envelope’s liner.

We selected handmade pearl jewelry from two woman-owned studios to pay tribute to the ocean’s most precious gems. SJ Bailey Co’s statement earrings couldn’t have been more perfect for the occasion, and we adored them paired with Rune and Light’s dainty flat pearl necklace. Though barefoot felt right for our couple’s time onboard, hand-painted heels from Alepel brought an extra special touch to our bride’s footwear while ashore. We were thrilled to add a navy clutch from The Bella Rosa Collection to our details of the day. Their premium line of bespoke, custom bridal clutches and handbags preserves Italian luxury in a small-batch, sustainable fashion. All of these selections were chosen to complement a flowing gown from Sakred Bridal designed by Ukranian dressmaker Eva Lendel. For a sophisticated twist later that night, Nora changed into a stylish romper from Catherine Kowalski Bridal, combined with timeless Louboutin heels. Justin, our groom, sported a classic navy suit, with not a tie in sight, further infusing a sense of relaxed refinement.

Foregoing tradition and prioritizing time well spent with one another, we portrayed Nora and Justin getting ready together before their ceremony. As wedding professionals, we have seen this approach to wedding days grow more popular, and we couldn’t love it more! While we appreciate and honor a desire for traditions, it’s such a shame to only see your life partner for less than half of your big day–a day that is about the two of you.

After an easy morning, we made our way to the Charleston Sailing School and aboard the Sweet T’s. As Justin and Nora were getting ready for the day, Emily Gilmore, the owner and designer behind Jacksonville’s Floral Anthology, was at the marina installing a floral meadow on the bow of the boat. Lush flowers and greenery mixed with local grasses filled arrangements that were placed to enclose the couple in a nest of blooms.

With an intimate affair in mind, we chose to curate an equally as intimate and nature-inspired tablescape. Texture and tone drove the design, with a focus on wooden elements and touches of organic greens. Adorned with Herons, ferns, and other local vegetation, Charleston-based Stradley Davidson’s Audubon Natural linen is a scene straight out of the grassy Low Country marshes. Paired with their Tradd Sage napkins, it laid the perfect foundation for our place settings. TableMade’s mango wood chargers, classic linen-toned china, elegant glassware, and–our personal favorite–moss flatware combined to create an elevated and earthy setting for supper. The final touches? A lush arrangement from Floral Anthology and a sprinkle of candlelight. As if that wasn’t enough, on a separate table, you’ll find a stunning and unbelievably delicious cake from Flowerchild Desserts. We loved that Taryn was happy to steer away from a traditional white wedding cake, using a gorgeous neutral tone and pressed flowers to accent.

As the sun began to set on our afternoon aboard the Sweet T’s, we took a ride to Chalmers Street to capture some final images of the couple on the cobblestone streets of the Historic District. After Nora changed into the chic and sassy romper from Catherine Kowalski, we decided a sip of champagne was in order and made our way to Hotel Emeline. Following a few snaps at the bar of Frannie & The Fox and within the hotel’s well-designed lobby, we toasted to a successful day of creating and community.

Vendors: Photographer/Editorial Host: Alexis Lunsford Photography; Design & Production/Editorial Host The Shindig Co; Floral Design: Floral Anthology; Hair & Makeup: Shadows and Shears; Models: @itsjustnora & @lostinlowcountry; Dress: Sakred Bridal; Paper Goods: Glory Co.; Tabletop: TableMade; Linens: Stradley Davidson; Furniture Rentals: EventWorks; Cake: Flowerchild Desserts; Sailboat: Charleston Sailing School; Clutch: The Bella Rosa Collection; Shoes: ALEPEL; Earrings: SJ Bailey Co; Necklace & Floral Wedding Band: Rune and Light; Styling Mat: Chasing Stone; Hand-Painted Backdrop: Willow Canvas

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