This South Carolina soirée sure was a charmer.
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Brooke and David
They say you can't go home again, but Brooke Hughes has never bought that—not for one second. For the Greenville, South Carolina, native, family is everything. So it was only fitting that she would meet her future husband, David Carter Ward, at a college watering hole affectionately dubbed "Homebar."
They were there to kick off the school year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He was starting his MBA program; she was a returning senior. "I think we both knew that there was something special there from the beginning," says David of that fateful day in August 2011. Captivated by her infectious laugh, he called her and left, in his words, "a way-too-long, rambling voicemail." Brooke was charmed. "So many people text, but David would always call and leave really sweet messages. It was almost old-fashioned," she says. She even saved them on her phone for a year and got a kick out of replaying them from time to time.
Among the many similarities they share (besides the same birthday) is a love of food and domesticity. Case(s) in point—their most memorable dates. Hers: "Our first real dinner date. I still remember what I ordered—pappardelle pasta with rabbit ragù." His: "Driving around the Highland Park neighborhood near Dallas with hot ciders and looking at all the beautiful houses and Christmas decorations." And, of course, both prioritize their tight-knit circle of family and friends.
So much so that when David, an investment manager, proposed to Brooke in April 2014, at the gardens of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, where she was working at the time, he did so with loved ones on hand. Brooke's close friend, hidden behind a shrub, was there to film the proceedings. David's mom appeared moments after with Champagne for a toast. And their chocolate Labrador, Henry, played wingman. The rest of their families flew in to have dinner with them that very night. "At that point, I could barely handle any more surprises!" says Brooke. But there would be more: The next day, three of her hometown best friends surprised her at brunch. "David did an incredible job—with the help of my mom—organizing and inviting everyone to Dallas for our engagement weekend."
When it came time to plan the actual wedding, Brooke's family home was the obvious choice. "I always imagined getting married and having a tented reception in our yard," she says. On April 18, 2015, nearly a year after their engagement, the two did just that in front of 375 guests at her parents' Italian-inspired estate in Greenville. The family pastor married the pair in a Christian ceremony; then, in true foodie style, they celebrated with a cocktail hour that included an oyster table and Champagne bar, followed by a four-course southern-inspired tasting menu. Sustained by hours of dining and dancing, the couple went straight from their wedding to the airport to begin their honeymoon. "It was even more than I had imagined it would be," Brooke says of their big day. Indeed, homecomings can be like that.
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Brooke's solitaire engagement ring is engraved with their wedding date and a simple "I love you B." David's milgrain 24K gold wedding band, meanwhile, was engraved with the couple's initials, the wedding date, and the message "My love forever."
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The Stationery Suite
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A pebbled road flanked by Cypress trees makes for a dramatic entrance to Brooke's parents' estate.
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A Fashionable Group
Brooke's nine bridesmaids, clad in Amsale gowns, clutched smaller, pinker versions of her bouquet. The bride wore a Chantilly-lace gown and jacket, custom-designed by Nardos Imam. She took the lace-overlay jacket off for dinner and the first dances, and pinned a lace hankie made from her maternal grandmother's wedding gown under the bottom of the gown to serve as her "something old" and had the wedding monogram and date stitched in blue to the hem of the dress as her "something blue."
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Gifts for the Girls
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A Site to Behold
"Walking down the aisle with my dad toward David was my favorite moment. It's one you imagine your entire life," says Brooke. "It was all truly a dream. I loved our ceremony. It was the one moment in our life, in front of all our family and friends, to declare our love and commitment to each other."
The ceremony arch of white roses, peonies, and greenery looked "as if it had been plucked out of an Italian garden," she says. For the ceremony, Brooke wore David's maternal great-grandmother's French lace veil. She was the fifth bride in his family to don the heirloom.
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Brooke wanted to give her best college friends a special role in the wedding, so she designated them her "Angels" and had them wear matching Amsale floral gowns. "They were invited to the bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, and got ready with us the day of—just like the bridesmaids," she says. "And they sat in the front row with my parents, too."
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The flower girls wore crowns of baby roses and Italian ruscus.
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All in the Family
David, pictured here with his parents and two brothers, hails from Kansas City, Missouri. Many of the wedding guests were from his hometown; the couple reserved wedding blocks at two hotels in downtown Greenville to accommodate the out-of-towners and welcomed them with straw shopping baskets of refreshments, snacks, and a "best of Greenville" list.
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Brooke's parents' golden retriever, Bo, mingled with guests during cocktail hour.
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Trays of Champagne were passed as guests entered the reception tent, during dinner, and before the cake cutting.
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A Bespoke Tent
Under hanging swags of lemon leaf, guests dined on a menu of Charleston she-crab soup, lobster and grits, and mini biscuits with pepper jelly. Following a night of dancing, hungry guests were treated to after-midnight snacks: mac and cheese with fontina, cheddar, Monterey jack, and mozzarella; southern fried chicken and waffle cones; and Magnum Mini ice cream bars—the father of the bride's favorite dessert.
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The Head Table
The wedding party and immediate family sat at a 24'-long head table, framed by floor-length orchid "curtains" and situated in the middle of the tent. All the other tables were 4'x4' squares that sat eight people. "We were surrounded by all our family and friends!" says Brooke.
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Pretty in Pink
Creamy satin and sheer pale-pink linen overlay cloths covered the dining tables for a delicate look. Adding to the romance were gold vases of peonies, clematis, and roses in white, pinks, and nudes. Resting atop each botanical-inspired plate was a gold-foil-printed menu rolled around a linen napkin and tied with gold thread, a sprig of greenery, and a place card.
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The bride's father, Phillip Rivers Hughes, welcomed guests with a toast. He later shared a dance with his daughter to "The Way You Look Tonight" by Frank Sinatra.
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This wall of roses was a backdrop for photos. Two copies of each picture were printed, one to take home and one to paste into a guest book.
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Family friend Angie McFarland made the classic white wedding cake, which was garnished with Italian ruscus, peonies, and ranunculus.
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Photography, Corbin Gurkin Photography
Event planning, design, production, and flowers, Tara Guérard Soirée
Catering, Cru Catering
Videography, Jeff Bradt Films
Officiant, Rev. Dr. Richard Gibbons of the First Presbyterian Church
Stationery, Lettered Olive
Calligraphy, Claudia Engle Lettering & Design
Rentals, Snyder Event Rental Company
Bride's gown, Nardos Imam
Bride's shoes, Jimmy Choo
Makeup, Shantel the Make-Up Artist
Bridesmaids' dresses, Amsale
Bridesmaids' earrings, La Vie Parisienne
Flower Girl dresses, Annie Girl
Flower Girl shoes, Nordstrom
Groom's suit, Ralph Lauren Black Label
Lighting and sound, Production Design Associates
Transportation, Eastside Transportation
Valet, Southern Valet
Photo booth, TapSnap
Bar service, Spike by Snyder
Groom's cake, Couture Cakes of Greenville
Restroom trailer, Nature's Calling
Wedding dresser, Cacky's Bride + Aid