Emily and Emerson’s Charleston nuptials at Lowndes Grove incorporated many of the typical southern wedding design details including a plantation courtyard ceremony, florals by and topiaries by Out of the Garden, letterpress and (rainbow) wax seal invitations by Alaina Polander and romantic white gowns and veils. However, the LGBT couple felt confident in their freedom to “throw tradition to the wind” in much of their personalized details. The “curated vibe—to relax and celebrate” of the day planned by our friends Ooh! Events included the couple getting ready together with all of their bridesmen and bridesmaids, a rendition of the Pulse Orlando Lin Manuel Miranda speech during the ceremony (not a dry eye in the house) and ditching all typical reception activities and instead dancing from start-to-finish. Emily and Emerson had a joint goal of staying “calm and present” during the day and they did it with joy, style and huge smiles as seen in these images captured by Brooke Boyd Photo + Film.
What made the wedding special and unique?
From Emily: Being an LGBT couple we felt like we had a lot of freedom to throw tradition to the wind. While most of our wedding was as much of a cliché southern wedding as you can get, there were a lot of really personal details. We started the day by doing yoga together and meditating guided by a friend. After yoga and meditating, we were able to spend the morning getting ready together with our closest friends. Getting ready together relieved all pressure; so many people love the suspense of seeing your wife walk down the aisle, but we wanted everything to be as calm and fun as possible. I think that made our wedding so unique. The entire day had a curated vibe – which was to relax and celebrate. We didn’t want anything to feel stuffy or posed and tried really hard to stay calm and be present. I would also argue the most unique part about our wedding was the amount of dancing – we skipped the activities once the reception started and instead never left the dance floor. We had two people do the worm, one person break dance, my sister did a split, and someone slid through another’s legs. WILD.
Tell us about the gowns and where/how you found them!
Emerson and I started off by going to New York with our best friends. We looked separately all day and neither of us found the dress, but we both agreed it was too hard not to share with the other. A month later, I went to Wedding Belles in New Orleans with my mom and sister and tried on the Jenny Yoo Riley I had seen in New York. Just like that, I was done! I loved so many dresses, but this one just fit the day best. Emerson on the other hand tried on dresses about four more times, when she finally tried on a Sarah Seven dress at Lovely Bride in DC and knew it was the one. It was perfectly simple with just enough modern edge to feel like her.
What were some touches added to make the wedding personal?
- Emerson picked out every single song that was played that day. To her, music creates the atmosphere, so she went through and chose from the prelude to the exit (and yes the afterparty). My favorite pick from her was the DJ set kicking off with “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked it” by Katy Perry.
- We also picked every word spoken in the ceremony with our priest. Without question the best part of the wedding (and I highly recommend everyone use this in the future) was when my friend read Lin Manuel Miranda’s speech following the Pulse Orlando shooting. It’s safe to say there wasn’t a dry eye when she got to the “and love, is love, is love, is love, is love” part.
- We didn’t do a traditional wedding party; Emerson has two brothers and I have two sisters so they are the only people who stood. We did ask our best girls/guys to dress within the color palette and get ready with us. We were worried it was going to be cold, so each girl laid a fur stole at their chair and exited in it.
- Emerson’s brother and “Man of Honor” gave the best speech I ever heard. It began with “I’ve been knowing Emerson since the early 90s” and the highlight was “I never dreamed I’d be a bridesman one day, but I can’t tell you how happy I am to be one today.”
What was the most memorable part of the day?
There was one moment before the ceremony started when my veil kept pulling my hair and I started getting really nervous. Emerson could sense I was nervous and pulled me into a room and said “forget it, don’t wear the veil” and gave me a big kiss. At that moment, all fears were pushed away because I knew I had picked the perfect person to spend the rest of my life with.
Tell us how you met and became engaged.
Emerson and I met the summer of 2014, when I had just graduated college and was about to move to DC. After our first date, we didn’t spend a single day apart that summer. So much so that Emerson volunteered to make the 17 hour drive with me to DC. Even though we had no intention of being in a long distance relationship, we were inseparable. Mine and Emerson’s lives fit perfectly together. We had the same values, same drive, and liked to leave parties at the same time. She is the perfect complement to all of my weaknesses and makes me a better person on a daily basis. Through the last five years together, we’ve moved seven times, had two college graduations, and embarked on brand new jobs in brand new cities. We’ve been through ups and downs, weddings, funerals, a home renovation and so much more, but through it all, Emerson made me grateful for every day. Knowing this I finally decided it was time to seal the deal so I snuck around with Susie Satzman and designed her dream ring. Over her birthday, we spent a week at home in New Orleans at my parents’ camp. One morning while we were watching the sunrise over coffee and blueberry cake donuts, I decided that was the moment. I began acting super weird and insisted she put on cute pajamas (because I wanted a good picture) and she replied “What? No. Weirdo” it was 5:30 am. Our dog had hurt his paw and she kept trying to pay attention to him and I was trying to get her to pay attention to me! Finally I started my speech and she asks “are you proposing?” and I was like “oh my gosh no” as I pulled out the ring! At this point, Emerson is thoroughly confused, laughing, and crying. Regardless, SHE SAID YES and we celebrated that night at the place her parents got engaged.
Coordination/Rentals: Ooh! Events // Photographer + Videographer: Brooke Boyd Photo + Film // Floral: Out of the Garden // Invite Suite: Alaina Polander // Venue/Catering/Bar/Cake: Lowndes Grove // Emily’s dress: Jenny Yoo, from Wedding Belles Nola // Emerson’s dress: Sarah Seven Belmont dress, from Lovely Bride // Hair: Slate Bridal Hair + Make Up // Make Up: Marisa Warren, Sarah Early, Slate Bridal Hair + Make Up // Yoga Instructor: Isabel Groedel // Ceremony Music: Bespoke Strings // Band: Tyler Kitchen + The Right Pieces // Guests Transportation: ACW Limo // Getaway Transportation: Lowcountry Valet