This Couple Thanked Their "Village" in the Most Creative Way During Their North Carolina Wedding
Nine years after meeting at leadership conference, Garrett O'Shea proposed to Kelly Shooshan on a morning walk near the dock at the Inn at Perry Cabin. "We thought it was private," says Kelly, "but then realized that everyone in the restaurant witnessed it happening—which made it perfect."
After knowing each other for nearly a decade, the couple didn't want to wait any longer to tie the knot: By the time they booked their venue, they had only a few months until their wedding day. "We planned our wedding in five months, which I now understand is really fast for a wedding like ours," says Kelly. Their planner, Laura Ritchie at Grit and Grace, suggested they scout venues in Highlands, North Carolina, for their 122-person ceremony and reception (which followed a Catholic ceremony the couple held locally in Arlington, Virginia). "We initially thought, 'No way,' as we drove the winding road up the steep Smokey Mountains, but as soon as we arrived in Highlands, we fell in love," says Kelly. "It was the perfect quaint mountain town with all of the high-end luxuries that we hoped for."
The couple booked the Orchard House and the Farm at Old Edwards Inn for an event with an "Italian-Tuscan mountainside" feel accented by personal touches—including reception surprises they secretly coordinated for each other, custom ceramic house figurines that acted as place cards for their guests (or their "village"), and a late-night pizza station. "Candlelight and flowers filled the spaces," says Kelly, "but truly it was a feeling of comfortable elegance and all the guests joining us in this destination that made it look and feel so us."
Stamp of Approval
Invitations from Saima Says Design took their inspiration from the North Carolina mountains with a layered design that mimicked the landscape's peaks and valleys in late afternoon. The pale pink and blue tones previewed the sunset palette of the décor. As a final touch, says Kelly, "We curated a collection of stamps to match the sunset tones in the mountains."
Lovely in Lace
When Kelly tried on her Adam Zohar wedding dress, with its plunging V-neck, handmade lace, and fitted bodice at a trunk show in California, she knew her search had ended. "It just fit so perfectly, I knew it was the one," she says. But when she finally received the dress, she says, "It was way too big. I shipped it back and forth with the store but ultimately ran out of time so I had to have it redone completely—but in the end we made it work!" She added her mother's veil—also worn by Kelly's aunt at her own wedding—and carried a bouquet of roses, amaryllis, ranunculus, scabiosa, and dahlias in shades of pink, orange, and peach.
Boys in Blue
Kelly and Garrett decided to forgo a large bridal party in favor of a smaller family affair: They asked his two sons to serve as best man and ring bearer, and Kelly's niece and cousin's daughter to stand in as "mini-maid of honor" and flower girl.
The Look of Love
Kelly and Garrett met for their first look by a lake on the property, where a wooden bridge and small dock created a cozy atmosphere. Kelly says she felt "nervous—and slightly unprepared without grownup bridesmaids there to help me get ready," but when they locked eyes, that dissipated; she and Garrett let their emotions show.
So Happy Together
Though planning a wedding in such a short timeframe had its challenges, Kelly and Garrett took them in stride. "Don't worry about the small stuff," says Kelly. "Make it you, and not what you think it should be—and be together on your day. If you aren't, it is hard to capture those moments."
A Floral Dream
Inside the Old Edwards Inn's Orchard House, a vaulted pine ceiling was accented with gold chandeliers, which matched lanterns holding lit pillar candles along the aisle. A nine-feet-tall arbor draped in trailing greenery stood out against the venue's arched iron transom window.
Bringing the Outside In
On either side of the arch, large urns from Floressence Flowers held roses, hydrangeas, and other dramatic blooms—all arranged in an asymmetrical shape.
Husband and Wife
After Kelly's father walked her down the aisle to Pachelbel's "Canon in D," the couple exchanged traditional vows in a Catholic ceremony officiated by the same priest that married Kelly's parents.
Love and Joy
The newlyweds beamed as they took a walk around the property for portraits. "In the end, the thing that was truly special was becoming my husband's wife and everyone experiencing the true love we have for one another," says Kelly. "The flowers and music just made it more beautiful."
Perfectly in Tune
At the cocktail hour, guests sipped the couple's two signature drinks—bellinis and Manhattans—while enjoying herbed goat cheese crostini, oysters on the half-shell, and mini chicken parmesan. Custom napkins displayed lyrics from the couple's favorite songs by Dierks Bentley, Brett Young, and Etta James.
Wood and Stone
After cocktails, the couple and their guests moved into wood-ceilinged room accented by tall windows and an elegant stone fireplace. A dramatic floral chandelier pulled guests' attention upward, while arrangements on the mantle and in seating areas around the room softened the wooden walls and slate floor.
A Place in the Sun
The couple chose a combination of round and rectangular tables, covering the rounds with velvet cloths in shades of pink and blue inspired by their color palette. "Taking a cue from the sunset tones of the mountains, from navy to light blue to blush, this gradient of colors helped play up the stone and wood space," says Kelly. Tall centerpieces pulled in vibrant orange, red, and pink shades.
On the longer tables, the couple opted to let the polished wood shine instead of using tablecloths. Low centerpieces in glimmering metallic urns were filled with lush blooms and accented by rose-colored taper candles.
On the Menu
Round menus, custom-cut to fit the gold-rimmed ceramic chargers the duo chose for their place settings, were personalized with each guest's name to double as place cards. The Italian-inspired meal included tomato tartare, calamari, lemon-seared bronzini, and seared heart of rib eye, alongside family-style sides of sautéed Brussels sprouts, beef bolognese, and salad.
It Takes a Village
Kelly and her planner spent months collecting ceramic houses that they personalized for each guest as an escort piece and favor—and though it wasn't an easy task, she says, it paid off. "It was definitely a grand idea and took up a lot of space ahead of time, as well as driving them nine hours to the venue," she says. "But in the end, the guests' reaction was priceless and made all of that hard work worth it. Every single guest took theirs home to keep forever!"
The duo continued their Italian theme with a millefoglie dessert—a combination of puff pastry, whipped cream, and fresh berries—that they served instead of a traditional wedding cake. They also offered a sweets table that included tiramisu, miniature cannolis, and Italian wedding cookies.
Raising the Bar
As a surprise for Garrett, Kelly commissioned a custom neon sign reading "Welcome to the Gobana" that hung over a bar serving a variety of bourbons, including Woodford Reserve, Russell's Reserve Rye, Redbreast 12 Year Irish Whiskey, Bib & Tucker Bourbon, and Four Roses Single Barrel. "Garrett's reaction to his surprise neon sign and bourbon bar was awesome!" says Kelly. "Best of all, Garrett got to keep the neon sign to accent his 'Gobana' cabana at home." In return, Garrett surprised Kelly with a live painter during the reception.
After the newlyweds shared their first dance—to "Something Just Like This" by the Chainsmokers and Coldplay—Revel Arcade kept guests on their feet well into the evening. Friends and family then refueled with late-night pizza—one of Kelly's favorites—made fresh.
Photography, Perry Vaile
Venue, Catering, and Cake, Old Edwards Inn
Event Planning and Design, Grit and Grace
Flowers, Floressence Flowers
Videography, Life in Rewind
Officiant, Reverend William Talentino
Stationery, Saima Says Design
Calligraphy, LH Calligraphy
Music, Dean's Duets; Revel Arcade
Rentals, Crush Event Design; Professional Party Rentals
Bride's Gown, Adam Zohar
Bride's Shoes, Jimmy Choo
Hair and Makeup, The Moore Agency
Groom's Suit, Hugo Boss
Transportation, Eastside Transportation
Cocktail Napkins, Gracious Bridal
Welcome Gifts, Mountain Fresh Market