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The Happy Couple
After five years of dating, Jeffrey McKee proposed to Katherine Bakker in her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. The couple decided to hold their nuptials on the sprawling grounds of Katy's parents' 1,000-acre plantation on the Combahee River. With a year and a half to plan, the pair looked to the property for inspiration. "It was once filled with rice fields, so there are birds everywhere. And since I've always loved feathers, it seemed fitting to go with an avian theme," says Katy, an art consultant.
Here, the couple pose under an oak tree dripping with moss. The groom sports a suit by Grady Ervin; the bride is wearing a Carol Hannah gown and veil.
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Guests were driven around the gated property in golf carts.
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Guests were welcomed with exceptional Southern hospitality: boxes filled with venison sausage and honey from the plantation, Charleston Breakfast tea, and a bottle of wine from the family’s Bakker Estates in Mendoza, Argentina.
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The program, made of wood veneer and accented with a quail feather and tea-stained organza ribbon, outlined the evening’s events.
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A quail feather embellishes each save-the-date, and the envelope liners feature bird drawings from an Audubon book. Guests were given rice to toss at the newlyweds -- a fitting touch for a celebration on a former rice plantation. Simple, sophisticated invitations hint at the pastel palette. The wedding planners surprised the couple with monogrammed thank-you notes. Reception cards were letterpressed onto silk-backed wood veneer.
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Katy had the plans sketched for her custom gown a year in advance of the wedding, but she didn't see the finished dress until just six weeks before the big day. Its delicate bodice matches the mood of her bouquet of sweetpeas, roses, peonies, and white feathers.
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The groom's boutonniere was fashioned from quail feathers, scabiosa buds, and tuberose, its stems wrapped in blush dupion silk.
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The bride made her entrance at the outdoor ceremony on the arm of her proud father.
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The Sun-Dappled Ceremony
Katy and Jeff were married at 6:35 p.m., precisely when the sun set. In the distance, four-foot-deep waters cover what once was a rice field on the plantation.
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Fine feathered guest Meryiel Edge, wearing a hat of her own creation, crafted the bridesmaid's fascinators and the mother of the bride's hat.
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Mother of the Bride
Katy's mom wore a custom hat for the occasion.
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Bridesmaids wore feather fascinators with their sherbet-colored gowns.
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The couple offered three signature drinks: Kir royales, classic mint juleps, and strawberry soda made with vodka and muddled locally grown fruit.
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Family friend Karl Smith, whose grandmother once owned the plantation, savored a sip of his Kir royale.
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Charleston native Carol Hannah Whitfield, designer of the bride's wedding dress and bridesmaids' gowns (and wearing one of her own designs), was once a finalist and fan favorite on "Project Runway."
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The mother of the bride's horse, J. B. (for Jim Beam), got his photo op.
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Lambs on the plantation were originally bought for the purpose of meat, but after their mothers died, the Bakkers bottle-fed them and raised the sheep as beloved pets.
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The Romantic Reception
The tent's dramatic fabric ceiling was inspired by the draping on Katy's dress; "it took a lot of work to construct, but it softened the entire room," she says.
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The elegant centerpieces overflow with pastel peonies, ranunculus, roses, and lilacs; vintage brass birds found on Etsy.com hold table numbers.
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Katy and Jeff's wedding cake featured tiers of lemon-raspberry and pistachio, while a smaller cake presented chocolate and orange, and a third offering is fruitcake -- a traditional English dessert -- made by Katy’s British grandmother.
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The couple set off into wedded bliss -- and an epic honeymoon adventure. "Elephants are Katy's favorite animal, but she'd never seen them in the wild. So I surprised her with a 10-day safari in Kenya," says Jeff. "I'll never forget the look on her face."
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Event Planning and Design: Kristin Newman Designs
Catering: Chef Sean Brock of McCrady’s
Flowers, Lighting, Furniture, and Decor: Gathering Floral and Event Design
Stationery: Sideshow Press
Wedding Cake: Wedding Cakes by Jim Smeal
Tent and Rentals: Snyder Event Rentals
Tent Fabric Installation: Blossoms Events
Wedding Photography: Elisabeth Millay Photography
Gown, Veilm and Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Carol Hannah
Menswear and Accessories: Grady Ervin
Ceremony and Dinner Musicians: Music for a Moment
Cocktail Hour Musicians: The Gradual Lean
Calligraphy: Elizabeth Porcher Jones
Lighting and Sound: Technical Event Company
Hair: Valecia Lahr at Magnolias Salon & Spa
Makeup: Carrie Lafontaine at Magnolias Salon & Spa
Bridemaids’ Fascinators: Meyriel Jill Millinery
Cake Knife: Croghan’s Jewel Box
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