Courtney and Scott’s gorgeous love story and stunning Charleston wedding are filled with serendipitous successes. The couple, who met when Scott sent a “Hail Mary” dating app message, flew out to Charleston the day before their venue hold expired to see their destination city first-hand, for the first time, and fell in love with it. Classic details defined the day, like Courtney’s show-stopping Pnina Tornai which was discovered at a last-minute dress shop appointment made after she was convinced she already knew a different dress was the one. Call it luck, call it destiny, it all came together beautifully with the help of The Petal Report who designed the event at The Gibbes Museum of Art with gorgeous florals by Pretty Petals of Charleston. Our friend Clay Austin Photography was on hand to capture all the details of the day in these beautiful photos.
What made the wedding special and unique?
It took us about 6 months to choose a location. I wanted a European or tropical destination, and Scott, along with our families, wanted to stay local. I probably looked at 60+ venues compiling folders of spreadsheets, PowerPoints, etc. One week in June, I finally realized my island dream was not going to work, and that Friday I received a call letting me know that a hold I had placed on a venue in Charleston months prior would be expiring the following Monday. I called Scott and told him the news. Having no idea I had even looked at Charleston (he had never been and I had been once when I was 17), you can imagine his confusion. He called me back a few minutes later telling me “leave your office immediately. We cannot miss this flight!”. About 3 hours later we were on a flight to Charleston, and after the first night there, we were officially in love with the city.
Tell us about the gown and where/how you found it!
I had gone to multiple dress appointments with crews of family and friends. My mom was coming into the city to see a dress at a boutique in SoHo which I was ready to purchase. I felt badly making her trek in to just see one dress, so I made a last-minute appointment to stop at Kleinfelds on the way down, however, I was sure that the other dress was THE ONE. Our consultant came into our room toting a Pnina Tornai gown with a HUGE bow, and my mom and I instantly gave each other the same look of “you have to be kidding me”. Overly girly/preppy was never my style, and after being forced to wear my trademark giant bows for the first ~8 years of my life, I avoided them at all costs. When I put it on, we both were shocked. It worked! The Suzanne Harward gown at the other store was entirely done in a heavy lace, and was extremely modern, trendy, and a bit risqué. This was the complete opposite – classically elegant.
The sample size was many sizes too big, and after our appointment I found a photo of the gown online showing the intended fit/style which was not at all what I had wanted. However, after discussing with my consultant, we decided to order the gown a few sizes larger, and completely cut it apart, piecing it back together with the deep-v front and low, open back, ultimately creating a custom gown. I had them attach the bow so that I could remove it after the first dance, but the bow stayed on the entire night (even after it was dipped in chocolate from the mother of the groom’s birthday cake)!
My husband wanted my dress to be a total surprise, refusing to even be in the room when the topic was brought up. One day, after purchasing the Pnina gown, I asked his opinion on a few dresses I had bought for other events. He replied “you like that whole ‘deep-v’ thing don’t you…? I really am NOT a fan of that look”. During the months following, every time we saw that “deep-v thing” on TV he would point it out with the same disgusted look and express his distaste (as you can imagine, this occurred multiple times a week throughout the season of The Bachelor). It was an ongoing joke with my friends, family, and coworkers, and each time it came up it took everything in me to not burst out laughing and confess. I was so grateful that we decided to do a first look so that I would not end up laughing the entire walk down the aisle. Come the wedding day, he absolutely loved the dress (at least that’s the story he’s sticking to!).
What were some touches added to make the wedding personal?
My mom’s childhood friends created amazing welcome bags personalized for each guest, and a custom logo which appeared everywhere throughout the weekend; the paper products and signage, water bottles, cocktail napkins, etc., and 5Church even had it done in white chocolate to top the desserts at the Welcome Party.
We had multiple days of events including cocktail parties on the terrace of my parent’s suite at the Bella Grace, a Welcome Dinner party at 5Church for all 180 guests, a post wedding brunch, and a beach day at Sullivan’s Island. It was like being on a vacation with all of your family and friends – what could be better than that!
The lighting design is something that I came up with myself and was extremely risky given it was something that neither Cayleigh or IES had ever seen or done before. They executed it perfectly, and it looked amazing during both the day and night! To this day we still get comments on it from guests.
The cocktail ring I wore belonged to my grandmother who is no longer with us. It was something I had admired so much growing up. She gave it to me years ago, before she passed away, but my parents immediately took it to for safe-keeping, and I never saw it again. For Christmas, they surprised me by having it resized and fixed up so that I could wear it at the wedding. Not having seen it since the day she gave it to me, every time I looked down at it, I pictured it on her hand. It made it feel as though she was there with me that day.
One of our good friends, and Scott’s “work husband”, officiated the ceremony. He had never officiated before, and took his job very seriously, conducting multiple calls and meetings over drinks. He did an amazing job! The entire ceremony script was so personal and made guests both laugh and cry.
Cru Catering surprised the guests on the dance floor with late-night snacks of Chicago Dogs (in honor of a trip to Chicago Scott had surprised me with when we were dating), and Philly Cheesesteaks. Both were big hits!
My four-year-old nephew, Dylan, was our ring bearer, and was the last to walk down before me and my dad. As they were pushing him out the door, he turned back to me and yelled “Wait! Wait! Coco…… I like you!” with tears building in his eyes. I had managed to hold back tears all day until that moment!
What was the most memorable part of the day?
The last song played was “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. Both sets of parents, Scott and I all came together on the dancefloor with our arms around each other, and all of the guests formed a circle around us; everyone dancing and singing along at the top of our lungs! There is a great picture of that – one of our favorites of the night.
In the Trolley on the way to the Gibbes, the driver played all the classic wedding songs, and my bridesmaids, my mom, and I were all singing and dancing the entire ride. Everyone on the streets was staring!
Scott: When Courtney was at the end of the aisle, and everyone stood and turned, and the musicians began playing “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis.
Tell us how you met and became engaged.
We met on a dating app – a “modern-day romance story”. Scott had never been on a dating app date, and I never responded to messages – just liked to play the swipe game. He had messaged me and didn’t get a response. A couple of weeks later, after a date with someone I had known during college but hadn’t seen in years, I got home I opened the app to see a message from Scott saying that he thought he saw me crossing Park Ave around 5pm (he calls it his Hail Mary message). Realizing that it was likely me (my office is on Park Ave and I had left for my date around that time), the combination of the humor of coincidence and the cocktails from the earlier date brought me to actually reply to a dating app message. A few days later we had our first date, and we texted the entire cab ride home and for hours into the night. We actually named one of the signature cocktails at the Welcome Party “The Hinge” as an ode to where it all started!
I’m absolutely obsessed with all things Christmas. We even have two Christmas trees in our apartment – one big, formal tree, and a small tree with all the ornaments we’ve collected from our trips together. We always celebrate our own “Christmas Day” the weekend before Christmas; just the two of us. On the year we got engaged I texted Scott two days before our Christmas Day, letting him know that I had decided to take that day off. Little did I know, that news would put a huge fork in his elaborate plan. Panicked, he texted my best friend, Beckett, telling her she had to do whatever it would take to keep me out of the apartment that afternoon. The two of them came up with a plan of pretending one of her clients arranged for the Glam Squad to come to her apartment to do hair and nails for her and a coworker before their company Holiday Party that evening, and that her coworker canceled last minute. After getting home, we opened all of our gifts from unde the tree, and Scott told me to go check out the NYC ornament he had picked up for our small tree. I couldn’t believe he had the audacity to pick out an NYC ornament without me. I saw a shiny silver ornament that read “I’ve been meaning to ask you this…”, slowly turning it around, I read the other side: “Will you marry me?”. I jolted around in tears to see him on one knee behind me. After, he told me I only had time to quickly call my mom because of our dinner reservations his boss had made for us, and that we would call everyone else after dinner. He asked the cab to drop us off a few blocks away from the restaurant, and said that we actually had time for a quick drink, and suggested we stop into the wine bar/restaurant on the corner. When we walked in, I immediately saw my mom and dad and burst into tears, again. Then I looked around the room and realized the entire place was filled with our families and close friends. We celebrated until the early morning hours! I couldn’t have drawn up a better proposal and night if I tried.
Coordinator & Designer: The Petal Report // Photographer: Clay Austin Photography // Floral Design: Pretty Petals of Charleston // Wedding Venue: The Gibbes Museum of Art // Bridal Gown Designer: Pnina Tornai // Makeup Artist: Makeup By Dannon // Hair Stylist: Wild Ivory Beauty // Wedding Cake: ABCD // Catering & Bar: Cru Catering // Tent, Dance floor & Stage Rental: Skyline Tent Company // Rentals: Snyder Events // Rentals: Ooh! Events // Entertainment: Emerald Empire Band // Lighting: Innovative Event Services // Guest Transportation: ACW Limo