One Couple's Family-Focused Wedding in Georgia
Born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, Mackey and Stephen have known each other since they were at least 10 years old. They had always been close friends—at one point, they were roommates—but didn't start dating until they were a few years out of college. "I really played the long game," Mackey says.
Today, the Virginia transplants live in Manhattan, where Mackey works for Bloomberg Philanthropies and Stephen works in commercial real estate. As for the proposal? Stephen returned to the countryside to pop the question. It "was out of a dream," the bride recalls of the moment, which took place during a fly-fishing excursion in Pennsylvania ("We went to the same spot where Stephen grew up fishing with his grandfather," says Mackey). Rain had moved the fish downstream, but after a few hours Mackey caught a small trout. "A little later, I lost my fly and asked Stephen to fix it. I opened up the fly box and there was my engagement ring!" she says. "I slammed the box shut because I thought maybe I wasn't supposed to see the ring. But then Stephen got down on one knee." Stephen then took her to a grassy clearing for a surprise picnic; they cooked up lunch on a cast iron skillet on top of the grill and drank natural wine and Champagne until the sun went down. The next day, both of their parents met them in town. "It was perfect!" Mackey says.
After two-and-a-half-years of dating and a 10-month-long engagement, they married on April 21, 2018, in Richmond Hill, Georgia, just outside of Savannah. About 280 guests ventured to the region for the black-tie destination wedding.
The Stationery Suite
The Every Little Letter stationery suite was one of Mackey's favorite wedding elements. The understated invitations were sage and white, inspired by the wedding venue's oak trees and Spanish moss. Type for the invitation was created with black letterpress; the set was mailed in pale green envelopes with vintage stamps. Though, it was the custom toile design on the suite's tissue paper—which included illustrations of the venue and its Pink House, the couple's rehearsal dinner location—that really blew the bride away, she says.
Guests received welcome boxes full of Georgia-themed treats: Byrd's cookies, cheese straws, cans of boiled peanuts, and chocolate-covered pralines. The back of the welcome note was a vintage map of Savannah; the bag was put together with the custom toile tissue paper.
The wedding took place in Richmond Hill, Georgia, south of Savannah on the Ogeechee River. Mackey's parents have a cottage there, but "the real decision maker was just the sheer natural beauty of the place," the couple says. The venue was full of old, live oak trees and Spanish moss, and had views looking out onto the river, which set a romantic tone for the wedding. The natural greens inspired the color palette."We wanted to let the natural beauty of the setting take over and just emphasize what really mattered to us: food, drinks, and dancing," says the couple. The day of the wedding was overcast and windy, but the rain held off; guests were free to mingle in the property's historic home that once belonged to Henry Ford.
The Bride's Dress
Mackey looked to Carolyn Bessette's timeless wedding ensemble for ideas as she searched for her own big-day look. Inspired by Bessette's sleeveless gown, she ultimately chose this A La Robe silk sheath. "Of course, it helped that my mom agreed," she says. The dress hung softly and featured a scoop back and short train. In lieu of a traditional veil, Mackey wore a wrap-around skirt, also from A La Robe, in a subtle blush hue. "At the last minute, by mom changed the hydrangeas in the ceremony from white to pink to bring out the skirt color," she says. "It was the only pop of color throughout the entire event and it was perfect."Stephen wore a black tuxedo by Paul Stuart.
An Elegant Bouquet
Mackey's rose gold Loeffler Randall sandals offered another pop of blush.
The bride wanted a simple diamond band as her engagement ring, and Stephen selected the winner himself. "He did a great job," she says. The couple decided on matching gold wedding bands with something engraved inside to surprise the other.
Mackey found her vintage crystal earrings in New York City.
A Father-Daughter First Look
Stephen and Mackey both wanted their first look to happen during the ceremony, so the bride had a first look with her dad, "which I will always remember!" she says.
The Wedding Party
The couple's large wedding party walked down the aisle and immediately sat down before the rest of the ceremony began. Standing at the altar in matching Saloni dresses were Mackey's maid of honor (her little sister) and her matron of honor (a best friend from childhood). Stephen stood alongside his dad, two younger brothers, and Mackey's brother, who all wore black tuxedos of their own choosing.
"This is perhaps my favorite detail of the day!" Mackey says. She surprised her dad by walking down the aisle to a string version of "Moon River" by Henry Mancini, one of his favorite songs. "It tied perfectly with the wedding because the lyrics, written by Johnny Mercer, are about Savannah," she says. "And my uncle joined the string quartet with his guitar for that song. It was so special."Watching Mackey process in with her dad was the most memorable moment of the day for Stephen, he says.
Another favorite moment for Mackey was standing at the altar with Stephen just before they said their vows, which were overseen by Reverend Bob Malm of Grace Episcopal Church, a parish in their hometown. Each of their families have a special connection to him: Mackey's dad went to high school (at her alma mater) with Reverend Malm, and Stephen's grandparents were members of Grace Episcopal. "To top it all off, Reverend Malm's son got married in Savannah the weekend before our wedding," Mackey says. "It was meant to be!"
"You're My Best Friend" by Queen was played on strings for the recessional. "It was supposed to be a surprise to Stephen, but I accidentally showed him the program before!" Mackey says.
After the service, guests were ushered into Henry Ford's home for the start of cocktail hour, where the duo's signature drink—sweet tea-flavored vodka and lemonade garnished with mint—was served.
After the sweet tea cocktails, guests enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and two open bars while a jazz quartet played outside. The menu included mini tuna tartare, mini crab cakes, vegetable spring rolls, shrimp and grits, mini barbecue pork sliders, and an oyster bar.
The Reception Location
Cocktail hour wrapped around 8 p.m., just in time for guests to enter the candlelit reception tent at sundown. The newlyweds got to see the space alone after taking their portraits. "Our biggest priority was to have the sit-down dinner and dancing in one big space," they say. "It was important to us that everyone could see and hear the speeches and first dances."
The Reception Décor
"We timed dinner with sunset because my mom and I are obsessed with candlelight," Mackey says. Tea lights and tapered candles filled long banquet and oval tables covered with white linen tablecloths. Greenery and white hydrangeas rounded out the tablescapes. The jazz quartet continued to play while everyone found their places, which were marked with moss green linen napkins and Champagne pre-poured into a coupe glass. "Walking into the reception tent filled with candles lit everywhere really set the mood of the night: elegant, romantic, and fun!" Mackey says.
Each guests' name was calligraphed onto their wedding menu. The cards foretold the meal to come: Southern succotash salad with peach vinaigrette alongside slow braised short rib with aged cheddar stone ground grits, collard greens, and roasted heirloom tomato.The extra-virgin olive oil wedding cake, by Vanilla and the Bean, had cabernet blueberry jam and a cream cheese mousse. It, as well as a miniature key lime tart, was served for dessert.
A jazz quartet played during dinner, pausing for a round of speeches. "The toasts were amazing," Stephen and Mackey say, citing Mackey's father's and her brother and sister's remarks as highlights.
A Night of Dancing
The main band took the stage after dinner so that there would be a clear transition to party time. Mackey and Stephen waited until dessert to take their first married spin. "The most memorable moment for our guests was probably our first dance," Mackey says. "It was wild!"They chose "Something to Talk About" by Bonnie Raitt. "The lyrics are exactly us," they say. "Plus, we wanted something upbeat."
Mackey and Stephen sent guests home for the evening with homemade chocolate chip cookies and left for a two-night mini-moon at the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island. A month later, they traveled to South Africa and Mozambique for a two-week trip.
Photography, Sarah Ingram
Event planning, Design Studio South
Stationery and Calligraphy, Every Little Letter
Cake, Vanilla and the Bean
Bride's gown and skirt, A La Robe
Bride's shoes, Loeffler Randall
Hair and Makeup, Emma Collins Beauty
Bridesmaids' dresses, Saloni
Groom's tuxedo, Paul Stuart
Lighting, Skyline Tent Company