This Couple Planned a Modern, Tented Wedding in Charleston, South Carolina
Hamidatu Ravenel and Charles Patrick III first met in high school in Charleston, South Carolina, but it wasn't until ten years after they graduated that they started to date. Though they attended different colleges, their group of friends remained close over the years. Once the pair moved home after getting their degrees, Hamida and Charlie ended up spending a lot of time together. Some of their buddies were hesitant when the duo started dating, but Hamida and Charlie went for it and never looked back.
A year-and-a-half later, Hamida (a sales manager at Hampden Clothing) and Charlie (an attorney) were in Atlanta at the botanical gardens. "It was about five-times more crowded than I expected," he remembers. "I spent several hours wandering around with her, looking for a quiet place without other people." When they stopped inside at one of the greenhouse, Charlie popped the question.
A little over a year after that, on February 10, 2018, they celebrated their love with a wedding weekend in their hometown. The festivities kicked off with a welcome dinner at William Aiken House, a historic property in the heart of Charleston. Pops of yellow made for a bold color palette, and the night was tinged with hints of Sierra Leone. The following day, the couple and their nearly-300 guests gathered near the water at Lowndes Grove Plantation for an elegant black-and-white affair. Kristin Newman Designs helped bring fuse modern touches like hexagonal accents and a mix of finishes with the otherwise classic, Southern wedding.
A Bold Invitation Suite
The stationery suite, by Megan Bradley Designs, was a combination of black and white paper with gold details done in a modern style. The save-the-date was a black card backed with a marble pattern and sent in a matching invite with an Oscar de la Renta stamp. The invite was foil-printed on white paper with the same patterned backer and edged in black foil. The response card and envelope were tucked into a black envelope calligraphed by Elizabeth Porcher Jones in mustard-colored ink with an African tribal print liner.
The Welcome Party
The invitation for the welcome party showcased the color palette and style for the celebration—dubbed "Charleston meets Sierra Leone." The mustard yellow, black, and white details were graphic and classic, while the addition of natural textures and textiles added a little extra interest.
The Happy Couple
Hamida wore a dress made from fabric she found in the garment district of Nairobi when she and Charlie were in Kenya for her bridesmaid's wedding. She brought the fabric back to Los Angeles where she had a seamstress
suit and skipped the tie.
A Colorful Welcome
Hanging Escort Cards
African mudcloth was hung from two poles and used as a backdrop for the escort cards which were die-cut and hung with waxed cord.
Under the Tent
Due to rain, the party took place under a tent. Square tables were covered with vibrant yellow velvet tablecloths and set with upholstered wood chairs.
Two different centerpieces anchored the tables—colorful groupings of oncidium orchids, pittosporum foliage, ferns, and magnolia pods. Here, the second style, showcased primarily dried versions of local elements, including painted palm fans, magnolia pods, dusty miller, kochia, and ferns. Modern smoked-glass hurricanes and hammered-gilded glass votives held candles, too. Mudcloth print napkins were bundled with leather napkin rings and sat atop matte black plates and off-white hand-shaped chargers. Brushed gold flatware added another metallic touch to the setting.
The plated first course of legume salad with a turmeric vinaigrette was followed by several dishes served Russian style: chicken-fried duck confit leg with blackberry barbecue sauce, cornmeal-encrusted grouper with marinated cucumber relish, creamy polenta with caramelized onions and mushrooms, shrimp stew, and lima beans. A candy buffet was also set up. "Hamida love candy," Charlie says. "Her dental bills can attest."
Guests got comfy in vintage tufted love seats, cognac-leather sofas, and calf-hair chairs, with African drum coffee tables and hammered brass coffee tables.
Hamida tried on at least 20 different gowns before deciding on a lace Anne Barge wedding dress. She paired it with a veil by the same designer, drop earrings, a diamond-and-sapphire ring from her mother, and a gold bangle with ruby inlay that Charlie gave her as a wedding gift. The finishing touch? A bold lip thanks to Nars "Don't Stop" matte lip pigment. She carried an all-white bouquet of cattleya orchids, sweet peas, and lily of the valley.
Charlie went with an ivory dinner jacket, black pants, and a classic shirt custom made at Billy Reid in downtown Charleston. His bow tie was also local—from Jordan Lash—where all of the groomsmen's and usher's neckwear came from, too.
Dressed in Black
"I work in women's fashion, so I know the struggles," Hamida says of outfitting her bridal party. "My only requirements were that their dresses be floor-length and black. I wanted everyone to feel good in what they were wearing."
A Modern Ceremony Setup
Gathering Events conceptualized an asymmetrical, modern black structure as a unique take on the traditional ceremony arbor. Built by Technical Event Company and set just feet from the banks of the Ashley River, it picked up on the geometric touches used throughout the wedding. White spirea, delphinium, amaryllis, mini Phalaenopsis, and dusty miller popped against the black structure.
The Ring Bearer
Kamden, the son of one of Hamida's best friends and college roommate, carried a velvet ring pillow with lily of the valley down the aisle.
The Flower Girls
Here Comes the Bride
Hamida's father escorted her out of the plantation house and down the custom-built aisle to the sounds of Handel's "The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba."
"Our ceremony was religious, but not verbose," Charlie explains. Pastor David Woody from Providence Baptist Church officiated the service. To keep their vows between them, the bride and groom exchanged them via letter right before the ceremony.
After recessing to another Handel song ("La Rejouissance"), the couple took a walk on the venue's dock.
The Seating Chart
"That basically took two whole nights of planning and several bottles of wine," Charlie says of sorting out the seating assignments. "A lot of our charting happened at a restaurant down the street from our house."
Once the couple sorted out where everyone would sit they passed along the information to Elizabeth Porcher Jones to calligraph the names, which were then transferred to vinyl letters and applied on a large piece of acrylic.
Most of the groomsmen were guys Charlie's known since high school, except for two who he met in law school and at his law practice. They all wore tuxedos from Snapsuits.
Custom Cocktail Napkins
Dressed to Impress
Guests looked chic at this black-tie affair.
The Tented Reception
Kristin Newman Designs created the reception setup with a mix of long and square tables. And since 300 chairs in a room can be a statement in itself, they chose both black and gold for a more dynamic look across the room.
Black velvet table linens and gold-rimmed marbled chargers added drama to the scene. Sleek brushed-gold-and-white flatware and a mix of traditional glassware and stemless water glasses completed each place setting. All the flowers under the dinner tent were white and arranged by Gathering Events. Some tables had abundant groupings of amaryllis and lilacs, like this one, while others had multiple centerpieces of orchids, ranunculus, hyacinth, and roses.
The engraved menus outlined the meal, which began with oyster Rockefeller, followed by a sweet baby lettuce, and then an entrée of ribeye filet and seared scallop.
A Gilded Cake
Dancing All Night Long
The band played "Just the Two of Us" by Grover Washington Jr. for the first dance. The group kept guests dancing straight through to the after-party.
Photography, Gayle Brooker
Event planning and design, Kristin Newman Designs
Florals, Design, and Specialty Lighting, Gathering Events
Videography, Hart to Heart Media
Stationery, Megan Bradley Designs
Calligraphy, Elizabeth Porcher Jones
Bridal Dresser, Cacky's Bride Aide
After-party dress, Ulla Johnson
Hair and Makeup, Ashley Brook Perryman
Flower Girl dresses, David's Bridal
Groom's suit, Billy Reid
Lighting, A/V, Altar, and Aisle, Technical Event Company
Transportation, Charleston Style Limo
Wine, Graft Wine Shop