Charleston, South Carolina Wedding | Kirsten+ Jeff

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing this gorgeous Charleston Wedding from earlier this summer! Let me start by saying that I referred to this day as my “super bowl” of weddings. It was in a different country, in the hottest heat I’ve ever experienced, with a tight schedule and the ever present risk of torrential downpour. I’m not sure I’ve ever hustled harder in my life! That being said, it was all worth it for my amazing couple Kirsten and Jeff. We all clicked immediately and I honestly enjoy every moment I spent with them, heck, I tried to convince them to come to Hawaii with my family later this year! And just as I thought I would, I fell for their families who also have huge hearts and were so welcoming to us the entire weekend. I’ll remember this day forever :)

I asked Kirsten to give some advice to other brides planning their destination wedding. And if you want to check out their engagement session, make sure you click here!

How did you envision your wedding day coming together and what helped you achieve it?

As soon as we got engaged , we knew that we wanted to get married in Charleston, South Carolina ( where my husband grew up). If you haven't been you absolutely must ! It is a small southern city with beautiful architecture, cobblestone streets, horse drawn carriages, delicious seafood, and a white sand beach right around the corner. I do have to admit ... you don't realize how much planning ( and how many small details) go into a wedding until you plan one yourself ! Luckily for me, I have amazing parents and an MOH who helped with everything from my table seating chart, to the wedding invitations, to the multiple dress fittings, to the party favours.... I couldn't have done it alone ! My vision was romantic - yet simple and elegant. In my opinion the 3 most important decisions related to planning a wedding are: venue, wedding dress, and photographer. Once those are checked off the list - you can breathe a little easier :) . I chose a venue that was actually one of the locations in The Notebook- it's charming character, fabulously decorated estate rooms and gorgeous grounds- complete with a secret garden, pond and pergola - made it an easy choice. It's hard to pick a wedding dress without knowing the venue - so once that decision was behind me, I could focus on the dress and how it would fit into the setting. I chose my wedding dress only 4 months before my wedding ( *gasp* I know)... and honestly I think it was the best thing I could have done. There are SO many choices when it comes to picking out a dress - and SO many stores to potentially visit. Since I was limited in time, I found the one I loved ( at the stunning salon The Modern Bride in Guelph) and I stuck with that choice. Every single time I tried it on - I fell in love with it all over again. My choice for photographer was the easiest part. The moment I scrolled through Jess's instagram feed - I knew that she would understand my vision of whimsical, yet candid pictures. When I met Jess for the first time at a wine bar - we bonded immediately over a glass of vino- and I knew we would be friends long after the wedding. If anyone can get my husband to take a thousand pictures and still be smiling through it all - they have my seal of approval (and I need to learn this skill ) ! When all is said and done, all you have to remember the big day ( other than your new husband of course ;)) are the pictures that were taken. Being also that I was a bride from out-of-town, it did help immensely that I had an amazing wedding planner onsite at the venue helping me communicate with all of the local vendors. They say it takes a village ... and I can confirm that- in fact- it definitely does.

If you could pick your favourite moment from your wedding day, what would it be?

Bride- Standing up under the pergola after saying our vows and looking out at the loved ones sitting there on the lawn, celebrating with us. It was such a magical feeling to know that all of the people we love the most, had travelled down to the city we love the most, simply because they wanted to be there by our side on our day. That was such an amazing feeling.

Groom - Enjoying a glass of scotch with my Best Man ( and little brother) in the "hunting" room of the William Aiken estate - knowing that my bride was upstairs getting ready, and putting on the dress, for the first look. It's the moment that everything felt real and I was excited to start the next chapter of my life as a married man.

What advice would you give to couples who are in the process of planning their wedding?

There is no " right" or " wrong" way for a wedding to unfold. Do what makes you happy ! This includes your timeline. It took us 2 years after our engagement to even think of diving into the details - we just wanted to enjoy that stage before rushing into the next. In our case, I also didn't want a large bridal party. With it being a destination wedding - I wanted our guests to be able to enjoy the city of Charleston and not worry about wedding duties while on vacation. My sister stood up as the Maid of Honour and his brother stood up as the Best Man. There was much less stress on us and it made trekking for photos throughout the city a breeze! Instead of a formal rehearsal dinner - my incredible in-laws held a welcome party boat cruise the night before in the Charleston Harbour. It was fabulous that guests could meet, drink and hang out in an informal setting before the wedding- it made our ceremony like a reunion for old ( and new) friends! It is nice to incorporate traditional elements into a wedding - but if the tradition doesn't make sense for you - skip it ! It's YOUR day :)

Would you do anything differently for your day?

The question was hard for me because I feel like our day went off exactly as how we had envisioned it. We were so excited recapping all of the moments on our mini moon afterwards. I am a huge planner - and the details of the weekend were important to me. I even sent out a social itinerary for our guests so that they knew what outings we would be hosting throughout the weekend - and could choose to partake if they so wished! However, the one thing I did not allocate enough time for were the " getting ready" photos on the morning of. I wanted to be able to sip pink champagne with my MOH as we got all dolled up - but alas time was slipping away from us and we rushed from getting our hair and makeup done, to getting the dresses on, to setting up for the first look. My advice to brides would be to give yourself lots of extra time the morning of so you don't feel rushed and you can bask in the special moments with your squad before the day gets under way ! Believe me - once it starts - it goes by in a flash.

Jessica Imrie