A Classic, Nature-Inspired Wedding in Sea Island
Nancy and Nathan
Nancy, originally from Memphis, and Nathan, an Aussie, from Toowoomba, Queensland, met by chance one night in New York City through family friends. Following their first encounter, they later reconnected at that mutual friend's wedding and began their whirlwind romance of long distance dating while also traveling the world together. During their first year, the pair flew back and forth between New York and Hong Kong (where Nathan was working at the time) and then Nancy decided to relocate to be with him. Following their eight months in China, Nathan was offered and accepted a position back in Australia.
But prior to their big move to Sydney, Nathan surprised Nancy and proposed at a place near to her heart and back on her hemisphere—Sea Island, Georgia. "I have the most wonderful memories there from childhood summers and family holidays," she says. Sea Island had become an important spot for Nancy and Nathan, as they frequently vacationed there while dating. Nathan popped the question at his favorite spot on the island—the 17th green at The Ocean Forest Golf Club.
A year and a half later, on October 10, 2015, they returned to that special spot, to get married, with 225 guests traveling from all over the world to join them. "Knowing that our friends and family would be coming from so far, we wanted to share with them a place that was so meaningful to us," Nancy says.
With endless oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, the ever-changing marsh, and Spanish Colonial architecture (the bride's favorite), Sea Island was the ideal place for this well-traveled pair to settle down for the weekend and celebrate with personal details, picturesque nature, and a bit of tropical flair.
The Lettered Olive created the couple's colorful save-the-dates, designing custom heraldry of their first initials and native birds and flowers from the Sea Island area. The blue-green ink played off of the water-colored invitation liner. This bright, tropical aesthetic was repeated throughout Nancy and Nathan's wedding website and printed materials in the guests' welcome bags.
"For the invitation, we wanted to have things look more sophisticated and formal, with a subdued color palette and calligraphy as the focus," says the bride of the gold, cream, and charcoal gray suite. The Lettered Olive pulled the initials from the couple's save-the-dates and created a refined version using blind letterpress on the reception card. The exotic envelope liner added a pop of color and prepared guests for the tropical celebration to come.
The Welcome Bag
Nancy and Nathan gifted guests with welcome bags full of both American and Australian goodies. "From the American camp, we had my bridesmaid's mother's insanely delicious chocolate chip cookies, as well as White Truffle Pipcorn. Representing the Aussie side, we had our favorite T2 Sleep Tight tea, Tim Tam chocolate biscuits, and Australian chocolates Caramello Koalas and Cherry Ripes," says the bride of their curated bags. In addition, the couple threw in customized water bottles and other essentials.
"I knew I wanted something with a major back, an off-the-shoulder neckline, and a bit of a 1950s shape," explains Nancy. The bride continued to gravitate towards designs by Austin Scarlett, who ended up creating her custom gown. "Seeing him work was spellbinding, and getting to shape the process was once-in-a-lifetime cool," she says. "The final product, the way it felt on and moved, was just spectacular and the most beautiful thing I have ever worn." Austin Scarlett also created Nancy's veil and blusher.
She rounded out her look with Kate Spade shoes and a bracelet from Nathan (a gift from their first dating anniversary).
The cross pendant Nancy wore is a family heirloom first worn nearly a century earlier by her maternal great-grandmother when she was a bride, and ever since it's been worn by all the women in her family on their wedding days.
The Bridal Bouquet
The Groom's Details
Siesta Key Needlepoint created custom cufflinks for the groom, with an Australian flag on one arm, and an American flag on the other. The groomsmen and the couple's fathers also received monogrammed cufflinks as a gift from the couple.
The Ceremony Location
Nancy and Nathan's ceremony took place at The Wesley United Methodist Church at Frederica. After a rainy morning, the two were grateful that the weather cleared up just in time for their service.
"I remember standing at the back of the church, hearing the music shift, and holding my dad's arm for dear life," recalls the bride. "When you've thought and dreamed about a moment and then it's happening, it feels incredibly surreal. I felt like I wanted to slow time down, but then the doors opened and I saw Nathan at the altar, and I felt like I couldn't get there fast enough. The way he looked at me, I'll carry that with me forever," Nancy says of the processional.
Nathan had a similar experience. "My favorite moment was seeing the doors of the Church open to Nancy standing there with her father about to walk down the aisle," he says.
During the service, the couple had three friends perform readings, and the bride's cousins performed a variety of songs. After exchanging traditional vows, the newlyweds recessed to "Oh Happy Day".
Opting out of doing a first look, the newlyweds took portraits after the ceremony on the grounds of the church and later in the Spanish Lounge at The Cloister.
The Cocktail Hour
Guests were transported to The Ocean Forest Golf Club for cocktail hour, which took place in the courtyard, cloisters, and living room of the venue. Wine, Champagne, and vodka gimlets were offered along with other cocktails at the bar. Passed hors d'oeuvres included bite-sized crab cakes with capers and remoulade, lamb chops, pumpkin soup shooters, salmon with cucumber, caviar with crème fraiche, and mini BLTs.
Small, colorful arrangements consisting of ranunculus, astilbe, wax flowers, and veronica decorated the tables alongside lamps.
The Guest Book
After guests found their escort cards, they moved into the tent for the reception. Tara Guérard used blue draping overhead to create an illusion of the sky. In addition, the color blue traditionally was painted on the ceiling of southern porches to repel bugs and nodded to Nancy's Tennessee roots. Leis hung from beams covered with greenery, along with candles that appeared to be floating in glass holders.
The Place Settings
The dinner menu was designed by The Lettered Olive and printed on thick cardstock. Guests were offered a first course of Sapelo salad, followed by seared grouper with Carolina gold rice and snap beans, with a beef filet with sautéed mushrooms and haricots verts to finish. Following dinner, the crowd enjoyed coffee, tea, and cake, served in the lounge.
The First Dance
The newlyweds danced to "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King. "We took lessons, so Nathan had some moves up his sleeves," recalls Nancy, "because we never had time to practice in my dress, we had a couple snafus and we were laughing at ourselves. We pulled it off in the end!"
The bride also shared a dance with her father to "Isn't She Lovely" by Stevie Wonder, while Nathan and his mother chose "I'll Always Love My Mama" by the Intruders.
Jim Smeal created the couple's stunning wedding cake, which featured coconut, almond, and strawberry with buttercream flavors. Adorning the cake were sugar flowers and white piping. Each layer featured a different motif found in the stain glass windows of the Spanish Lounge—the formal parlor where the couple took their post-ceremony portraits.
Nathan got an extra surprise from his bride—a dark chocolate groom's cake that paid homage to his favorite NBA team, the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Big Swing and the Ballroom Blasters kept the night going until it was time for the newlyweds' sendoff, which was announced with horns playing a tune of "When The Saints Go Marching In." Nancy had switched out of her wedding gown and into an Anaessia dress for the after-party. Guests cheered as they tossed rose petals.
Nathan, an admirer of classic cars, drove off with his bride in a Shelby Cobra, decorated with a "Just Married" sign, as sparklers went off. The couple enjoyed a quick joy ride on the back roads of the golf course together, before heading to the after-party location to continue their night of celebrating.
Photography, Liz Banfield Photography
Location and Catering, Ocean Forest Golf Club
Event planning and Flowers, Tara Guérard Soirée
Videography, Siegel Films
Officiant, Reverend Steve Patton
Stationery and Calligraphy, The Lettered Olive
Bride's gown and veil, Austin Scarlett
Bride's shoes, Kate Spade
Hair, Casey Powell
Makeup, Faces by Seven
Bridesmaids' dresses, Amsale
Transportation, Sea Island Transportation