Charleston Real Wedding in 2020


December 16, 2020
Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Southern Vintage Photography

When Alexa and Matthew chose to say their vows in the historic southern town of Charleston, SC no one could have foreseen what would come next. Over the year leading up to their wedding day, this couple had to rearrange and rethink virtually every aspect of their destination wedding. Alex and Matthew’s story is chock full of stellar advice and validation for those of you planning a destination wedding during COVID that we think it’s best you simply read our raw interview with them. Okay, now, take a moment to grab some note-taking materials (and maybe some tissues while you’re at it.)

Q: Why did you choose to do a destination wedding?
A: We wanted our wedding weekend to be a special weekend for everyone! Charleston is one of our favorite getaways and is always a good time. Our families are spread out all over the East Coast so it was a central location and easy to get to.

Q: How did your family and friends respond to the decision? If any of them had a negative reaction, how did you resolve it? 
A: Everyone was extremely excited! Charleston is such a fun town, surrounded by beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants, the best southern hospitality, and reasonably priced accommodations. A lot of people took advantage of a beach vacation surrounding our wedding.

Q: How/why did you choose the location/destination? Did you run into any issues specific to this destination and how did you resolve them? 
A: My husband and I visit Charleston a few times a year and it has become a special place for us. We wanted everyone to experience a fun weekend in the South (we’re both originally from Pittsburgh) and take the opportunity to unplug. As far as running into issues, well of course being a Covid bride was NOT ideal. My wedding planner became my therapist, my husband was my rock, and my mother was a saint.

Q: How do you make your wedding guests feel as safe a possible during a pandemic?

  • Gave Mask Party Favors: We provided disposable masks with our names and wedding date on them. We figured people would feel more comfortable wearing them, and I also wanted those that wanted to wear them to match for photos.

  • Performed Temperature Checks: My wedding planners were saints and took temperature checks at every event.

  • Plated Food vs. Buffet

  • Reduced Headcount

  • Reduced Table Size & Spread Out

  • Provided Sanitation Stations

  • Ensured Outdoor Access

  • Hosted All Private Events: I thought it was important that if I’m going to ask people to head to a destination weekend, that I wanted to include them in all of the festivities. We held a private event on Friday night at Cannon Green where we started with rehearsal dinner, then opened up to all for welcome drinks and snacks. Everyone also felt very safe because we were only around one another, the venue was indoor/outdoor, and we weren’t spending the weekend in crowded public places.

Q: What was the most impactful COVID restriction to your original wedding plans?
A: Venue Capacity Restrictions – We were originally getting married at the MUSC wedding chapel, but their restrictions were tough and I just didn’t want any unnecessary stress on our wedding day. We made a last-minute decision to switch our ceremony to The Cedar Room – I cannot stress enough how amazing my wedding planner and the venue was in dealing with last-minute changes.

Q: How would you describe your overall experience of planning a destination wedding? 
A: Awesome, minus the Covid stress. I’m in the interior design industry, so I created an outline of our wedding design and Chauncey and Riley (wedding planners) ran with it! I will never forget walking into the venue for the first time and seeing every single detail was accounted for. A lot of my vendors were up and running for the first time since March so it was such a special day where they all went above and beyond. I could cry writing this – seriously my wedding planners, photographers, videographer, band, venue EVERYONE showed up and gave it their all. I could not have asked for a better experience so if you’re planning a wedding in Charleston HIRE THEM.

Q: Did you use any resources when planning your destination wedding that you feel would be helpful to other couples? i.e. books, a wedding planner, referrals? 
A: HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER – and hire the right one for your personality! Chauncey, my Mom and I met for drinks at The Thoroughbred at The Charleston Place (highly recommend) and we hit it off immediately. We laughed, we cried, but most of all I could tell that she was going to go to work for me and boy did they. When COVID hit, she was my therapist and honestly, I don’t think I would have followed through if it weren’t for my Mom and her working together. We used WeddingWire to manage our guest list (glitchy, but it was super helpful), and people could either RSVP on our wedding website or via mail. I got really lucky where I had a colleague who got married a year prior in Charleston so she sent me her vendor list and I went down to Charleston for a weekend to meet with everyone. I loved every single vendor right off the bat and hired them that weekend. You should do the same.

Q: Overall, do you have any special advice you would like to share with our readers to help prepare them for their day? 
A: If you’re a fellow Covid bride, read this blog post. And, follow your heart! I knew the moment that I met my husband that he was the one, and never in a million years thought that there would be a global pandemic on our wedding year. Everyone has different comfort levels with COVID, and I don’t blame you one way or another whether you proceed or not. Just don’t lose sight of what your wedding day is about – it’s about you and your significant other committing a lifetime of happiness with one another. I knew in my heart that I wanted to get married on 8.15.20 whether huge or small. Our wedding capacity was 250 people, and we had 120 in attendance (less than 50% capacity – our venue was huge!) and we didn’t have a single case of Covid reported. I was going back and forth on sharing this, but I think it’s important to share because this isn’t something that the news will ever cover or an article that you can typically read in a wedding blog. Our wedding attendees were all extremely responsible. They knew the risks and reacted based on their comfort level. If you’re a person of faith, I truly believe that God was watching over us that day. One clear sign was that I woke up on our wedding day to pouring rain, and then it quickly became a gorgeous 80-degree sunny day… and if you know Charleston, then you know it’s usually 100+ degrees and humid as all get out. I pray that by the time you plan your wedding that you do not have to deal with this, but if you do, follow your heart and do what’s right for you and your significant other. Make the decision together!

Photographer: Southern Vintage PhotographyWedding Planner: Bouquets and Bowties CharlestonCeremony/Reception Site/Cake: The Cedar RoomFlorist: Forever Flowers CharlestonStationery: MintedHair & Makeup: Lashes and LaceGown Designer: Jenny YooGroom’s Clothing Designer: ABBEYDALE (custom); Bridesmaids’ Dress Designer: Aura; Groomsmen’s Clothing Designer: The Black Tux; Band: Night Years; Videographer: Surrender Films; Bridal Boutique: J. Major’s Bridal
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