These college sweethearts tied the knot in a celebration focused on love, family, and design.
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Suzanne Shriver and Brandan Bishop first met during their 2012 fall semester at North Carolina State University. They were introduced by their mutual friend, Michelle, who was dating a football player on the school's team; Michelle had a hunch that Suzanne would click with Brandan, the safety. She was right. "I wasn't too sure about dating a football player, but I went with her to a party and Brandan and I stuck with each other the whole night. We started dating immediately and have been together ever since!" the bride recalls.
Fast forward to December 2016. As the ball dropped on New Year's Eve, the Brandan told his longtime girlfriend that "by this time next year, we'll be engaged." Nearly a year later, they still hadn't made it official—but to Suzie's surprise and delight, Brandan popped the question on December 29, 2017, outside of the iconic Pineapple Fountain in Charleston, South Carolina. The newly-minted fiancée said yes before the lovebirds ventured over to Suzie's family's vacation home. Both of their happy families were there waiting to celebrate.
Today, the couple resides in Raleigh, where the bride works in marketing, the groom in sales. After nearly six-and-a-half years together—and a sixteen-month-long engagement—the couple said "I do" on April 14, 2018, in Durham, North Carolina. They welcomed just under 200 guests for the black-tie optional soirée, which the groom summarizes as focused on "love, family, and design." With help behind the scenes from McLean Events, the festivities began with a religious ceremony held at The Cage, followed by a reception at Bay 7.
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"I am absolutely obsessed with paper products, layout, and branding, so I loved this part of the process," Suzie says of selecting her invitations. "I went to a meeting with [my wedding planner] and One and Only Paper and knew I wanted a clean, modern, black-and-white invitation suite."
It was a business card, of all things, that inspired the final result—its white-on-white debossed treatment, the bride says "was the end" of selecting their stationery suite for the big day. It also set the tone for the duo's color palette and led to several more of the big day's paper goods: "Our invitations were absolutely one of my favorite elements! From there, the program, dinner menu, bar signs, and napkins all fell into place."
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The team at McLean Events and Suzie's "incredibly creative" mom, Maureen, "were a huge help on the welcome boxes," notes the bride. "Of course, everything had to be black and white," the bride says of the festive gifts. "The box was sleek and I think it set the tone perfectly and stayed on-theme."
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Two Adaptable Venues
Suzie and Brandan were drawn to the unique vibes of both their ceremony and reception spaces—and loved that they were bare-bones. "We wanted a blank canvas, where we could pull in all the elements we loved versus being forced into a box," says the bride. They loved the industrial, modern aesthetic—which they eventually softened with romantic white florals—of Bay 7, but "didn't want guests to watch the venue being flipped after the ceremony." With their reception venue locked down, they were now on the hunt for a just-as-malleable service location.
That's when her mom stepped in. After touring Bay 7, she suggested the couple check out The Cage, a nearby outdoor basketball court. "The Cage is owned and operated by the YMCA," says Suzie, who wasn't thrilled with the space at first. "At first, I got wide-eyed and my heart sank a bit, but she was right. The Cage was the perfect venue, where we were able to create our one-of-a-kind ceremony space."
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Suzie says that, while she "didn't know anything about designers" going into the often-overwhelming process of choosing a wedding dress, she knew her gown when she saw it. "The [Ines Di Santo] dress I bought was the first dress I tried on," she says of her lace-adorned off-the-shoulder gown. Deciding to purchase the garment, however, came with a bit of a twist. "I knew it was the dress, but at first I couldn't allow myself to say yes, because my Grandma Suzie wasn't there," explains the bride. "We called her from the bridal boutique and she said as long as they promised to let us all come back, have me try on the dress again and have Champagne that I should buy it on the spot. So, that's exactly what I did!"
On the big day, the bride completed her look with a pair of diamond hoop earrings on loan from her beloved grandmother and strappy heels from Jimmy Choo.
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Suzie's grandmother made another contribution to her wedding jewelry, long before the day arrived. Before Brandan proposed, Grandma Suzie gave the future groom the stone from the engagement ring that once belonged to her husband, Suzie's Grandpa Doc.
"My Grandma Suzie and Grandpa Doc had matching engagement rings, so even though mine is a different design, I have the matching diamond to my Grandma, which is so special," the bride says today. "I have always had a special bond with my Grandma," she adds. Suzie, her grandmother's only granddaughter, is also her namesake and god-daughter.
For wedding bands, Suzie selected a classic gold ring, while Brandan chose a thick black band.
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On the hunt for a unique wedding tuxedo, Brandan knew he wanted to go beyond the traditional black suit. He selected a navy tuxedo jacket, which ultimately impacted the event's color palette—the couple used the midnight blue shade as an accent color throughout.
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The bride and groom had a whopping 25 people in their wedding party—which they say they wouldn't have had any other way. "At first, I kept saying that 10 people on each side would look like a circus, but I think it turned out perfect! Those are our family, best friends, and biggest supporters!" says the bride.
Her bridesmaids stunned in black, fitted, off-the-shoulder gowns by Katie May; they complemented the bride's own neckline perfectly. Suzie encouraged the women in the wedding party (her mom included, who wore an inky pantsuit) to wear unconvetional black outfits to the wedding, since "black works on everyone," she says. The groomsmen also got in on the palette, donning classic suits from The Black Tux.
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The youngest members of the wedding party—Suzie's young cousins, Dash and Hali, who feel "more like [her] niece and nephew"—played starring roles on the big day. "They absolutely loved dressing up and being the center of attention. Hali playing with her flowers during the ceremony might be one of my favorite things!" says Suzie.
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The couple opted for the festivities to commence later in the day ("I wanted the sun to be going down since the evening played well with our colors," says Suzie), with a ceremony beginning at 6 p.m.; the reception immediately followed. This choice was intentional—the couple wanted to maximize their time with guests (especially out-of-town attendees!) so they made sure the event that wouldn't be cut short by an early end time.
As for the ceremony space? Sleek white chairs complemented the crisp fabric backdrop. An overhead greenery chandelier by Blossom Bay Design—the focal point of the service—added a pop of verdant color.
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Say You Won't Let Go
The bride walked down the aisle with her father, Sam, as violinist Josh Vietti played "Say You Won't Let Go" by James Arthur.
Both the bride and groom cite Suzie's walk down the aisle as a favorite moment from the big day, as they opted not to do a first look. "There's such a buildup of emotion… it's overwhelming because you see all the people—until you see your partner and then it's a sense of relief," Suzie says.
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A Religious Ceremony
The religious ceremony was officiated by the couple's dear friend and pastor, Justin Morgan of the Church on Morgan. Special moments from the ceremony included a reading by Brandan's friend and teammate, Earl Wolff. The couple chose to write their own vows. Suzie says this was always "a must" for Brandan, who was adamant about penning personalized promises from the start of the wedding planning process.
After sharing their first married kiss, the new Mr. and Mrs. Bishop walked back up the aisle to the violin version of "The Show Goes On" by Lupe Fiasco.
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Merrymakers then made their way to Bay 7, where cocktail hour commenced on the second-floor mezzanine overlooking the beautifully-designed reception space below.
Violinist Josh Vietti continued to play throughout the interlude ("He was with us from the ceremony, to the cocktail hour, through the reception," says Suzie. "He adapted as the evening went on and truly set the tone!"), which is also when the couple debuted their signature drinks: a Moscow Mule in honor of Suzie and a Pithy IPA from Brewery Bhavana in honor of Brandan. The bride says that the cocktail hour wouldn't have been complete without another favorite—a "massive cheese and charcuterie display." The evening's catering was coordinated in-house.
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An integrated neon sign and floral installation (courtesy of Blossom Bay Design) was a major hits with guests. Fluorescent signs popped up all over the event: on the tabletops, above the ceremony entrance, and at the reception (this particular vignette spelled out the duo's wedding date).
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Guests were guided to their tables with the help of the couple's simple, traditional seating chart, which was derived from their invitation suite.
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The tables, a mix of rectangular and round options, featured a myriad of seemingly contrasting motifs. "Separately, I think people would have thought our choices were far-fetched, but it all came together so beautifully," says the bride, who describes the tabletops as "modern and simple" with "lots of greenery." A particular design stand-out? The juxtaposition of the neon sign table numbers and candlesticks, which made for an interesting blend of old and new.
Texture played another important role in defining the tabletops. "I loved that the rectangular tables were bare, but the rounds had this heavy velvet tablecloth for some richness and texture," says Suzie.
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For Suzie and Brandan, wine pairings played a major role in their menu. The first course—a chilled oyster on the half shell, the perfect opener for the oyster enthusiasts—was presented with a fresh Prosecco. The second course offered a kale Caesar salad paired with Bidoli Pinot Grigio, which was shortly followed by a third: Sliced beef tenderloin in red wine jus with marinated grilled shrimp, sautéed green beans with red and yellow peppers, and creamy potatoes. This was served alongside Acacia Pinot Noir.
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The newlyweds hit the dance floor to "Hold On, We're Going Home" by Drake, played by Vietti on violin—a song with a sentimental history in their relationship (Brandan bought Suzie the full album when they began dating). There was, however, an advantage to playing the contemporary tune on a string instrument, notes the bride: "All of the younger guests knew exactly which song it was even without the words, but our older guests had no idea it was a 'rapper' and just thought it was so beautifully done. Best of both worlds!"
The dancing component of the evening was just getting started. As a surprise for the newlyweds, Suzie's father orchestrated the groomsmen's dance mob to John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band's "The Dark Side," which he presented (and promptly performed in) during his speech. "Brandan and I were absolutely shocked! It was hilarious," Suzie says. "My dad is such a talented speaker, and apparently also a performer!"
The Dickens Band from Sam Hill Entertainment took it from there and kept the party going late into the night.
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Another Impromptu Performance
"We didn't plan anything, but at the end of the night, The Dickens pulled us up to the stage to sing Tom Petty's 'American Girl,'" the bride says of another favorite big-day memory. "Brandan thought I set him up and I thought he set me up! It was fun, but neither of us knew all of the words!"
After celebrating an incredible wedding with their closest family and friends, Suzie and Brandan honeymooned in Italy, where they traveled to Rome, Florence, and the Amalfi Coast.
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Photography, Theo Milo Photography
Ceremony venue, The Cage
Reception venue and catering, Bay 7
Event planning, McLean Events
Flowers, Blossom Bay Design
Videography, Heart Stone Films
Officiant, Pastor Justin Morgan
Stationery, One and Only Paper
Cake, Ashley Cakes
Lighting, Get Lit Event Lighting
Bride's gown, Ines Di Santo
Bride's shoes, Jimmy Choo
Bridesmaids' gowns, Katie May
Groomsmens' tuxedos, The Black Tux