LINDSEY + ZACH
- Sonesta Resort Hilton Head
HIlton Head Island, South Carolina
October 13, 2014
Tell us how you met: Zac and I were always in each other’s periphery. He was my older sister’s friend, and his little brother and I were friends. Although we would sometimes come into contact in high school, Zac was three years older and would ignore me. Fast forward to the summer after my sophomore year at West Virginia University. My friend Sarah and I decided to stop at a local restaurant on a whim. It was a popular place in my hometown but I had never been there. Zac noticed me when I walked in and said it was love at first sight, not knowing that I was the same little girl that he used to ignore years earlier. Now it was my turn to ignore him. Throughout the summer, we kept running into each other and after three months, he finally asked me out. We dated the last two years of college and our relationship survived long-distance when I moved to North Carolina for graduate school and he stayed in Pittsburgh. Our perseverance paid off and upon my return, we both knew that we were meant to be together.
Proposal Details: On my thirtieth birthday, nine years after Zac and I began dating, I woke to Zac kneeling next to my bed. He removed the rings I always wore on my left hand and placed them on the nightstand. Then he took the beautiful black diamond engagement ring out of the box, placed it on my finger and said “Since the night I first saw you walk through the door at that restaurant, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. Forgive me for waiting this long to ask you this question.” He asked me if I would be his wife and I said YES.
How did you select your venue: Hilton Head is one of my favorite places on earth. My family has vacationed there every summer since I was twelve years old. Hilton Head Island represented the perfect combination for me of happy memories and the fulfillment of my life-long dream to have a beach wedding. When Zac began to join us on family vacations, he and I would always go a few days early before everyone arrived and would stay at the Sonesta Resort in Shipyard Plantation. We toured three resort locations in Hilton Head, and the Sonesta was the one I chose for my wedding. I loved that the pavilion sat on a pond with the ocean as a backdrop. I could easily picture myself walking the path and bridge to join Zac for our ceremony. The banquet manager, David Leffew, was a tremendous help in executing our vision.
The Gown & Accessories: My mom and aunt went with me to The Exquisite Bride salon to begin to look at gowns. We chose Exquisite Bride because they carried a gown I had chosen from a magazine. The experience was wonderful! The line I liked best was Essence of Australia, so our sales associate selected a few dresses by that designer. Much to our surprise, the second dress I tried on was perfect. We had expected a much longer process, as I am very particular, and couldn’t believe we found the dress so quickly. The gown I choose was lace. It was strapless, with a sweetheart neckline and a beautiful train. I loved my shoes – I wore lace ballet flats with Swarovski crystal studs on the edge of the heels. My bracelet was a wide lace cuff, hand-made, with pearls sewn into the lace. I did not choose to wear a veil – instead handmade pearl hairpins were arranged in my hair.
The Hair + Makeup: I wore my hair swept up in a loose “beachy” look with a simple chignon at the nape of my neck and loose tendrils at the sides and the back. I brought my hairstylist to the wedding from Pittsburgh as she knew me so well from having styled my hair since I was in high school. She brought an assistant who also styled the bridesmaids and junior bridesmaids. We used a make-up artist from Hilton Head for both my make-up and the bridesmaids’. I wanted a dewy, natural look and she achieved that for me.
The Invitations + Paper Details: We believe that wedding invitations set the tone for a wedding and we are fortunate that a close family friend is a wedding stationary professional. She worked closely with us to chooseinvitations that represented our vision. The invitations were elegant and classic, and included a single crystal accent that was perfect since I collect crystal figurines. Our framed table numbers matched the colors of my flowers and our menu carried the same floral motif. The ceremony programs were printed on coral and had a monogrammed closure that also incorporated the floral design of the menu and table numbers.
What Lowcountry elements did you incorporate into your big day? Because this was a destination wedding for our guests, and since the beach was an important feature of our celebration, we held a welcome party for all or our guests the night before in the sand at the Holiday Inn Beach House. We served a low-country boil that included raw and steamed seafood, grit “martinis,” and pulled pork barbeque. We wanted children to be included at the welcome party so we offered s’mores kits to roast around a fire pit in the sand. Our welcome baskets for each couple included a sampling of some of our favorite Hilton Head treats. Mini-pound cakes from Signe Bakery and pralines from the Island Fudge Shop in Coligny plaza represented two of the shops we frequent each time we visit Hilton Head. And, of course, we included a palmetto tree and moon crescent decal to highlight our South Carolina venue.
Bridesmaids Attire: The Bridesmaids wore matching full-length gowns from Bill Levkoff of coral – a beach color that fit my color scheme perfectly. They wore starfish silver bracelets and silver flip flops that I had provided for them as part of their thank you gifts for standing by my side. I also had three junior bridesmaids who wore ivory full-length tiered dresses with coral cummerbunds. The youngest of the three wore a halo of flowers in her hair to complement my bridal bouquet. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were all white to contrast with their coral gowns and my multi-colored bouquet. The junior bridesmaids carried a single coral flower.
Groom + Groomsmen Attire: The groom, groomsmen, and our Dads wore matching lightweight grey suits from Joseph E. Banks. The men all wore grey ties except Zac, who wore a white tie.
Ceremony Site + Personal Details: The ceremony was held on the pavilion, under a beautiful crystal chandelier with a backdrop of live orchids and crystal streamers. My older brother Michael served as our ceremony officiant, which made it particularly special to us. In keeping with our beach setting, Zac and I did a sand-combining ceremony to represent the joining of our families. Both Zac and I play acoustic guitar; so naturally, we chose acoustic guitar music for our ceremony. I walked down the aisle to the musician’s rendition of Fade Into Me, by Mazzy Star. They also learned and performed the song for our first dance as man and wife, a cover of Ben Weasel’s Strangers.
The Décor: Our wedding planner transformed the rustic pavilion into an elegant venue by incorporating crystal chandeliers, a profusion of white candles, white sofas and chairs for lounging with a variety of cushions, including a custom throw pillow with our name and wedding date. Silver accent tables and silver chargers for the place settings added to the elegant feel of the event. Our linens were white on white and the overlays were woven with a silver thread. We wanted our beautiful colorful flowers to be the striking focal point of the head table and our guest tables. As an additional décor element, to soften the rustic pavilion, our florist added white fabric draping to cover some of the pillars. The ceremony aisle was strewn with colorful flower petals and tall vases with floating petals and white candles flanked the wooden bridge entrance. We rented white chevron chairs for the ceremony and reception.
The Food + Beverage: A variety of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres were served during the cocktail hour, which was held on the grounds of the Sonesta resort. Following cocktails, our guests moved onto the pavilion and enjoyed the following three-course meal with the guests’ choice of red or white wine.
First Course - Wild Mushroom Ravioli in a Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce
Second Course - Salad of Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets and Fresh Goat Cheese with a House Vinaigrette Dressing
Main Course - A duet of Filet Mignon in a Red Wine Reduction and Sautéed Grouper in a Blood Orange Reduction with Fingerling Potatoes and Chef’s Seasonal Vegetables.
In addition to the full-service bars, we requested a “bubble bar” as our “signature cocktail,” consisting of champagne with our guests’ choice of a variety of fresh fruit infusions. The Sonesta embraced our request and even added a lighted Champagne sign above this specialty bar. We loved it.
Personal Touches: There were many elements of our wedding that were very personal. Having my brother perform the ceremony, my two sisters as my maids and matron of honor, Zac’s brother as a groomsman, including a tribute to our deceased grandparents in our program, acoustic guitars for our ceremony, and taking wonderful photographs on the Hilton Head beach all made our wedding the very special day we envisioned. Our father-daughter dance was another very personal highlight for me. Dancing to I Loved Her First, a song my dad picked on his own, brought everyone to tears – me included. One element that was very important to me, based on my experience as a bridesmaid, was to provide for our wedding party’s significant others to be included at our head table. And, as a bonus, I loved the look of our long head table that spanned the width of the pavilion with people on both sides. Our florist added a garland of orchids to Zac’s and my chairs to set us apart.
Late night snacks/special treats: For our late night treat, we offered a chocolate fountain with a variety of sweets to dip in the fountain including marshmallows, pretzels, and a variety of fresh fruit.
Aesthetic + Color Palette: My primary objective was to create a “beachy” yet elegant aesthetic. We captured the elegance I wanted with the use of crystal and silver; the beach vibe was represented in the color palette of my table flowers, cake, and wedding bouquet that incorporated a variety of warm colors ranging from the palest of yellow to a vibrant red.
The Flowers: I thought my flowers were absolutely beautiful and exactly what I hoped they would be. I chose a cascading bouquet that incorporated the full spectrum of my color palette, accented by striking bright yellow calla lilies. The flowers were duplicated in the table centerpieces and were brilliant counterpoints to the all white and silver décor.
The Cake: The wedding cake had four delicious tiers that alternated between vanilla batter with butter cream filling and chocolate batter with hazelnut filling. The cake, by Minette Custom Cakes, was made to my specifications and incorporated my color pallet with waves of icing moving from pale yellow to bright red. Our custom topper was an oyster shell made of gum paste with black and white pearls to represent Zac and me. The oyster shell motif was also incorporated in our place card display. Our welcome party included a groom’s cake in the shape of Elvis Presley, Zac’s favorite performer, custom designed by Signe bakery of Hilton Head.
Guest Count: 87
The Favors: Our florist applied silver metallic paint to assorted oyster shells and hand-lettered the date of our wedding in black. A wire hanger twisted into a spiral with a pearl woven through it was attached to the oyster shell and topped by a table place card for each couple or guest. The shells made a perfect keepsake, suitable for use as a Christmas tree ornament.
The Send-off/Getaway Vehicle: The entrance to the pavilion is a wooden walkway that crosses the pond and connects the pavilion to the Sonesta grounds. At the end of the night, our guests lined the bridge on both sides and held three-foot sparklers for us to make our exit.
What were the most important elements about your wedding day to you and your husband? We wanted a wedding that was fun - our band was spectacular and they had everyone on the floor, dancing. We are extremely family oriented, and wanted all of our family members to have a role in our celebration and we were honored that so many people traveled to share our happiness.
Best Piece of Advice for Brides-to-be: My one regret is that we did not have a videographer for the ceremony or reception to capture the toasts, first dance, and exchange of vows. To keep problems at a minimum, I strongly recommend using a professional wedding planner. Jennifer Leiti was instrumental in helping us choose the best vendors and in making sure every detail was covered. Also, my advice is to enjoy every moment and try not to worry about what goes wrong – because something always will. In our case, a rain shower toward the end of our cocktail hour forced the guests onto the pavilion earlier than we planned. But our wedding planner and Sonesta coordinator acted quickly to not allow a little rain dampen our day.
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island // Photographer: Landon Jacob Productions // Event Planning & Design: Jennifer Leiti of Embellished Events // Floral Design: A Floral Affair // Cake: Minette Rushing Custom Cakes // Catering & Bar: Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island // Gown Designer: Essense of Australia // Dress Shop: The Exquisite Bride (Pittsburgh PA) // Bridesmaids Dresses: Bill Levkoff // Hair Stylist: Luxe Salon// Makeup Artist: Skin Zin// Shoes: BHLDN // Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Bank // Rentals: Amazing Event Rentals // Invitations & Paper Goods: JPG Designs// Lighting: JLK Events // Transportation: Palmetto Transportation // Ceremony Music: Harden & Crenshaw // Band: Sol Fusion from EastCoast Entertainment // Welcome Bags: Embellished Events // Rehearsal Dinner: The Beach House at the Hilton Head Holiday Inn // Rings: Louis Anthony Jewelers and South Hills Jewelers // Officiant: Michael Zanardelli