Boone Hall wedding


March 30, 2014

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Boone Hall Plantation

Photographer: Paige Winn Photo

Even though Lauren & Zane call Nashville home, the couple had an itch for an intimate destination celebration. Lauren envisioned getting married on a Southern plantation ever since she was a little girl, and after a venue-hunting trip to Charleston with her mother, she quickly realized Boone Hall Plantation was the one.   


Planning & Design: Lauren Miller of ELM Events  //  Gown: Jim Hjelm  //  Bridal Shop: The Bride Room (Nashville, TN)  //  Florist: Branch Design Studio  //  Bar & Catering: Café Catering  //  Ceremony Music & Reception Band: The True Stories (Knoxville, TN)  //  Groom & Groomsmen’s Attire: Charleston Tuxedo  //  Cake: Wildflour Pastry  //  Rentals: Café Catering, EventHaus. Polished!, Snyder Rentals  //  Invitations: You’re Invited (Nashville, TN)  //  Hair & Makeup: PaperDolls - Wedding Hair & Makeup  //  Officiant: Brett Moore  //  Transportation: Lowcountry Valet & Shuttle Co.  //  Rings: Platinum Jewelers (Nashville, TN)  //  Rehearsal Dinner: Upstairs at Midtown




Tell us how you met: We met while interning at a church while we were in college (2003).  We dated in college and then went our separate ways only to reconnect over 10 years later.

Proposal Details:  After running around all day in Knoxville, Zane said he wanted to look at a house he was doing some work on.  Instead of going to a house on the street, Zane led me to a small park across the street from the restaurant where we had our first date.  He had candles set-up, flowers and his guitar waiting.   He sang me a beautiful song he had written for me that ended with him asking me to be his wife.  I said, “YES!!!”

How did you select your date + venue:  We looked at both Nashville (where we live now) and Charleston.   I love Nashville, but have always dreamed of a destination wedding.  My mother and I scheduled a vacation to Charleston and made plans to have it double as an opportunity to visit venues.  We visited 4 or 5 venues in Charleston that were all beautiful. Ultimately, after deciding I really wanted a small, intimate destination wedding, choosing Boone Hall was a no brainer.  I visited a plantation when I was a young girl and dreamed of getting married somewhere like that ever since.   Besides fulfilling my childhood dreams of my wedding day, Boone Hall was affordable, had multiple site options for the ceremony and reception, didn’t require a tent if we did most everything at the Cotton Dock (great way to save $ and anxiety if rain happened… I was very worried about rain ruining the look/feel of the wedding at certain venues) and they allowed us to choose our own caterer (another great way to save $).  Being in the event industry myself, having control of my vendors was important to me. The date was easy… it was one of only 3 available at Boone Hall for the spring when we were looking at venues in July 2013.  It was the day before Zane’s birthday so he said it was perfect because he could kid me about stealing his birthday excitement the rest of our lives.

The Gown:  Jim Helm, (The Bride Room, Nashville, TN)

It was all lace with a key-hole back.  Crème sash was accented with a handmade broach (that I LOVED!) from Paris by Deborah Moreland line.  I wanted something that was NOT strapless and timeless.  In 50 years I want to look back and think that my wedding dress is gorgeous.  I went to look at dresses once by myself and then took my mom back to look at my favorites.  Having working at a bridal boutique in college, I wanted to avoid to many opinions and get what I loved.  I knew I might be easily swayed if I had too many opinions.

The Hair + Makeup: Carrie at Paper Dolls did my trial run and makeup for our engagement pictures.  We only visited Charleston once before the wedding so we had to squeeze a lot into a few days.  Carrie was amazing… we got behind schedule on wedding day (not her fault) and she was able to do my hair and make-up in 45 minutes.  I was amazed!

Blue Shoes – Banana Republic

Jewlery – Pearl earring that were a gift from my late father, a white and blue pearl bracelet I purchased on a mission trip to Thailand to wear in my wedding one day (I had it for 10 years!)

Broach- Paris by Deborah Moreland

Veil-  It was a single-layer cathedral veil.  The back of my dress was so pretty and with such detail that I didn’t want multiple layers to distract from the dress.   It was very simple and classic.

Bridesmaids Attire: Amsale , Slate colored dress.

Groom + Groomsmen Attire:  Charleston Tuxedo (Suit rental) & Ties from Banana Republic. Not sure what the brand was of the suit. Suits were grey with navy and charcoal ties to accent.

Ceremony Site + Details: The ceremony took place at the Cotton Dock at Boone Hall which overlooks the intercostal waterway. White Draping and a chandelier softened the space and added some elegance to the rustic dock space.  I loved how the softness of the drapes and elegance of the chandelier contrasted with the 100+ year old wood of the dock. We were supposed to have large flower arrangements and candles filling the alter table, but due to 20 MPH winds the afternoon of the wedding those had to be scrapped.  They were literally blowing off the table!  As were seat cushions on all the ceremony chairs!  After the ceremony, guests walked to down the grand avenue to the main house where they could walk through the home and end on the patio where cocktail hour was located.  Cocktail hour was on the main house patio overlooking the plantation grounds.  We had corn hole and bocce ball for lawn games guest could play.

Aesthetic + Color Palette:   I wanted the color palette to be soft, romantic with a bit of a  modern vintage vibe.  Absolutely nothing loud and bright! One of my favorite words when it comes to style is “timeless”.  Zane and I both like more classic styles and as I imagined our wedding the one thing I didn’t want was to look back in 20 years and say, “What were we thinking!!”   To achieve this look, we used crèmes, blush, grey, slate, soft blues in our flowers and pulled these colors here or there into various aspects of the wedding.   Burlap and lace was used throughout to help create the modern vintage look.  Overall, the colors and textures were repeated throughout in subtle ways (Burlap wreaths on doors, burlap table runners, burlap wraps on flowers, burlap ties on draping and cocktail tables; lace wedding dress, lace table runner over burlap).

The Décor:  For the Cotton Dock, we did a lot of draping to soften the space and add contrast to the rustic-ness of the space.  We draped the ceremony space, the beams above the dining tables and doorways.  We used light linens to brighten and soften the space.  Burlap and lace with crème or slate linens were used at both the cocktail and dinner receptions. Chandeliers were used above each dinner table (there were two long tables parallel to each other), candles on the table and uplighting around the venue created a warm glow once the sunset. Again, I tried to repeat items so there was a cohesive look.  For instance, we had chalkboards at a number of places – Program was a chalkboard sign going out on the dock, there were chalkboard signs on the bar at cocktail hour, chalkboard signs for table numbers at the dinner reception and a chalkboard menu sign.  We flipped the ceremony location to be a lounge area for after dinner with cocktail tables and lounge furniture.   We had salads plated on mismatched vintage china to add a vintage vibe.  As mentioned, we did two long tables for dinner as I wanted it to have a family feel to it. Plus, I love the look of the long tables and how “full” the tables look with multiple flower arrangements and candles down the center.   I tried to have as many candles as possible so that everything would have a soft glow.

The Food + Beverage:  Our priority was that the food taste great and that it reflected our tastes.  Zane’s mom can cook some of the best southern food you’ve ever had so he naturally loves classic southern style dishes – biscuits and gravy, chicken ‘n dumplings, etc.  I love southern food, as well,  but tend to gravitate to more of a modern southern.  I also love seafood.  We love local, fresh food so we tried to incorporate local items into our menu.

Beverage: We had signature drink (see below) for cocktail hour, open bar for the entire event and featured Zane’s favorite local Charleston beer, Westbrook White Thai, as a local selection. 

Cocktail Hour: Zane insisted on Fried mac ‘n cheese balls (one of the only things he was serious about wanting at  the wedding! Ha.) and we also did mini chicken and waffle sandwiches (my mom complained she only got one everyone at them so quickly!) and crab cakes as passed hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour.  We also had baked brie in a pastry, hot crab dip and pimento cheese with crackers and assorted breads for cocktail hour.  We incorporated my favorite adult beverage – sweet tea vodka- into the signature cocktail which was Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and Lemonade served in mason jars with blush striped straws.

Dinner – Salads were pre-set on vintage mismatched china plates when guests entered the cotton dock . Sweet potato and buttermilk biscuits and hush puppies continued the southern theme.  Guests were served a choice of either Lime Marinated Flank Steak or Local Pan Seared Mahi Mahi.  Both choices were served with parmesean risotto, roasted asparagus and pan patty squash.  Dessert was wedding cake 

The Cake:  Our cakes were delicious!  The wedding cake had a “spatula” finish with flowers  from Branch Design topping it.  It was an almond cake with a salted caramel filling and buttercream icing.  I wanted the cake to look soft and romantic like the rest of the décor and feel of the wedding.  The groom’s cake was red velvet (Zane and I’s favorite cake flavor) and Yankees themed.  Zane is a huge Yankees fan and this was one of the few things he had a preference on in the wedding planning process… he wanted red velvet and a Yankees cake.

Personal Touches:  There were a number of things we did to add personal touches.  We wanted to remember our loved ones that had passed away so we included  pictures of Zane’s brother and my father with a framed sign to remember them.  I also had a patch sewn into my dress and one on the back of Zane’s tie (it was a surprise for him when he got it on the wedding da7) that said “Always in my heart – Dad”  and “Always in my heart – Josh Ellis”.  My patch was in blue thread so it could serve as my ‘something blue’ and was a way my Dad could be with me when I walked down the aisle.  Other personal touches were our guest book quilt in lieu of a traditional guest book, wedding koozies, handmade items – Zane’s mom made the burlap wreaths that hung on the cotton dock doors and the “You and Me” sign over the fireplace which was Zane made for me for Christmas. Zane also built the wedding corn hole boards.  We wrote a “thank you” message to our guests and placed printed cards at each place setting.  We also sent out the pre-wedding welcome boxes in lieu of gift at the hotel/in room so that guests could get excited about celebrating with us in Charleston, experience some uniquely Charleston foods and start planning their activities.

The Flowers:  The flowers! I was obsessed with Branch Design Studio.  I looked at countless blog posts of Charleston weddings, and when I loved the flowers, 9 times out of 10 Branch was the florist.  Whitney does an incredible job at creating the soft, romantic, vintage look. One unique thing we did was to make the boutonnieres from cotton.  Zane liked he idea (this was one of his picks!) and I liked the idea of it since we were getting married at the Cotton Dock. For table arrangements, Whitney did a variety of sizes  in different vases (milk glass, mercury glass, etc) to complement the flowers.  We re-used ceremony flowers (pew markers and alter arrangements) in the reception to save money.  I LOVED my flowers, especially my bouquet.  It was exactly what I wanted.  And, since Whitney and I never met (we spoke twice by phone), I thought she did a wonderful job hearing my vision and executing it.

The Invitations + Paper Details:  Our invitations were letterpress.  I love the texture and elegance of letterpress. One of the advantages of having a small wedding is you can select some more expensive items – letterpress wedding invitations were one of my splurges.  I save all the wedding invitations I receive in a box as a bit of a memento of that event. So, it was important to me that our invitations were beautiful and something I’d be proud for others to keep if anyone else happens to be crazy  like me and save them.  Our invitations were calligraphy font (no design to speak of).  I love the beauty of calligraphy and, with the letterpress, I thought they were the perfect fit for the timeless, romantic look of the wedding.

Guest Count: 65 people

The Favors: We didn’t really have favors… Guests got welcome boxes sent to their homes 2 weeks before the wedding that had a note from the bride and groom, wedding weekend agenda, Charleston Guide from CVB, a praline from Savannah Candy Kitchen and a package of Benne Wafers from Olde Colony Bakery.  We thought they’d prefer that over favors and didn’t have budget for both.  We did have custom koozies at the bar that guests took home with them.  I (Lauren) purchased those myself through my company

The Send-off/Getaway Vehicle:  We excited with guests holding sparklers.  Our getaway car was a 1950 Dodge Meadowbrook.   Also, a  1957 Crown School Bus shuttled both the wedding party and guests from their hotel to Boone Hall.

Best Piece of Advice for Brides-to-Be:  First of all, enjoy your day! There will be something unexpected that happens inevitably (like 20 MPH winds!), but don’t let it put a damper on the day.  Relax, enjoy being your family and friends and marrying the love of your life!  Secondly, I’d say do your research!  Magazines and blogs like A Lowcountry Wedding were crucial to helping me plan my wedding from 8 hours away.  By looking at other weddings and reading articles, I learned what I liked, what was really important to me, got ideas and saw vendors that I was drawn to again and again. This helped me get a better idea of how I wanted my wedding to look and feel and to create a short list of vendors that I felt could help bring my vision to reality. Reviews of vendors were key in helping me make the right decisions.  I actually picked my caterer (without doing a tasting!) and my wedding planner simply based on the rave reviews of other brides.  I couldn’t have been happier with both!