MARTHA & AJ
A Brookgreen Gardens wedding in Murrells Inlet, SC
When Martha and AJ, two natives from small-town Martinsville, Virginia, reconnected as students at Virginia Tech, sparks flew. As the story goes, familiarity turned to friendship, turned to romance, turned to committed and lasting love. According to AJ, “I had a best friend before I had a girlfriend, fiancée or wife.”
Having relocated to the Washington D.C. area after college graduation, AJ’s proposal plans included a winter wonderland scene — a freshly shoveled path, hundreds of candles, rose petals, and endearing words that sealed the deal for he and Martha. After popping the question, “we celebrated with champagne and a private night tour of the DC monuments. This was one of my favorite parts of the proposal because before calling any of my family or friends, I got to celebrate alone with my new fiancé,” Martha explains.
With a spring wedding in mind, Pawleys Island, South Carolina instantly became the choice for Martha & AJ’s destination wedding. AJ’s parents own a vacation home in Pawleys Island and the couple has been vacationing there together for over 7 years. The sentimentality of being able to begin marriage in the beauty of the Lowcountry was a highlight for the couple.
Surprisingly, choosing the wedding venue was a breeze. On their very first venue visit to Brookgreen Gardens, Martha recalls, “after touring the gardens for 10 minutes, and making a turn into the Live Oak Allee garden, we were sold! It just felt right. I have never second guessed that venue and am so happy it made the decision-making process for us that much easier. We never toured any other venue and signed that day!”
The couple’s early May wedding weekend was nothing but dancing, celebrating and 75 degree, sunny weather. With nearly all of the 200 guests traveling to the Pawleys Island area for the events, each was greeted with a special welcome box upon arrival. Inside was a piece of both Virginia and South Carolina — Virginia peanuts and Pawleys Island fudge.
Not a detail was missed for their black-tie garden fête, starting with Martha’s Amsale Coco dress. The custom French lace sleeves and cathedral length veil with a Chantilly lace trim beautifully accented the luxurious ball gown. Kate Spade shoes, complete with a bow and glitter heels, set off the bride’s classic ensemble. Martha’s ample, loose bouquet mirrored the natural beauty of the surroundings and was filled with white hydrangeas, white lisianthus, light pink and medium pink garden roses, snapdragons, coffee berry, tons of greenery, and most special to Martha — pink peonies her mother hand-picked from her grandmother’s garden back in Virginia.
For her bridesmaids, Martha wanted them to be comfortable and happy with how they nvested their money for the big day. “So, I shoved all of them in a big dressing room at Nordstrom and said, “GO!” After spending about two hours laughing and trying on a ton of different dresses, they all agreed on an Alfred Sung After Six floor-length, chiffon gown in blush. This was one of my favorite memories of planning! Such a fun, stress-free approach that I will always cherish!”
The gentlemen donned classic, formal attire - AJ in a custom tuxedo from J. Crew with a white dinner jacket and black pants while the groomsmen wore slim fit black tuxedos. The entire bridal party exhibited effortless, classic beauty against the gorgeous garden background.
Guests entered the ceremony space, a gorgeous garden lined with huge oak trees and Spanish moss swaying in the Lowcountry breeze. A string quartet accompanied the ceremony that included touching prayers, blessings and a unique choice for honorary “ring bearer” - AJ’s grandfather. According to the couple, “this was the perfect opportunity to honor AJ’s Grandfather in a special way during our ceremony. He blessed our rings with our minister before the exchange of the rings portion of the ceremony.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, guests were in for a huge surprise! Even the parents of the bride and groom didn’t know about the Gospel Choir that entered singing “Oh Happy Day” as the newly married couple walked down the aisle. Moments later, three flower canons shot white rose petals over the crowd, creating a truly magical moment.
As the Gospel Choir continued to serenade guests during cocktail hour, guests enjoyed delicious options from Austin’s Ocean One — feta stuffed watermelon, shrimp & grit spoons, baked brie & raspberry phyllo cups, ahi tuna on sesame crackers, and bacon-wrapped scallops. Additionally, passed hors d’oeuvres including cocktail shrimp and grilled dijon & rosemary crusted baby lamb chops were available before the party moved to the tent for dinner and dancing.
The entrance to the white sailcloth tent included boxwood frames lined with white, twinkling lights. Inside, RSG Event Designs continued the garden theme, weaving elements of live greenery and white and blush-toned flowers throughout the entire space. A custom bar with the couple’s monogram served their favorites — Tito’s, Tanqueray, and Bulleit, as well as beer and wine. The monogram made another appearance, projected onto the dance floor while a floral-accented, crystal chandelier loomed overhead.
Perhaps the most eye-catching design element of the evening was the hanging wedding cake. That’s right — a hanging wedding cake! The five-tiered confection from Incredible Edibles suspended from the ceiling of the tent and was adorned with live greenery and pale pink peonies — a creative focal point that will surely be remembered. Martha explains, “It was such a show stopper and a crowd pleaser! All of our friends “had to get a picture with the hanging cake!”
Guests ate, drank, and danced the night away before the sparkler-filled send off to AJ & Martha in a white, vintage 1930 Rolls Royce. Truly, the entire event beamed classic elegance. But floral arrangements and linens aside, Martha explains, “At the end of every day, remember why you chose the love of your life to marry. Remember that regardless of the details and flowers and food, you get to marry the absolute love of your life! You get to start your forever with your very best friend.” And that’s the icing on the (hanging) cake!
MYRTLE BEACH WEDDING VENDORS - Ceremony & Reception Venue: Brookgreen Gardens ll Photographer: Magnolia Photography ll Event Planning & Design: Memorable Moments ll Floral Design: RSG Event Designs ll Gown: Amsale ll Dress Boutique: White on Daniel Island ll Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Sung ll Makeup: Makeup by Jami ll Hair: Stox & Co ll Men’s Attire: J. Crew ll Catering & Bar: Austin’s Ocean One ll Cake: Incredible Edibles ll Rentals: EventWorks ll Invitations: Crane & Co. ll Linens: BBJ Linens ll Lighting: RSG Event Designs ll Ceremony Music: Strand Strings ll Ceremony Sound: MC Light & Sound ll Band: Mo’ Sol from Sam Hill Entertainment ll Videographer: Hart to Heart Media ll Transportation: Carolina Limousine ll Restrooms: Elvis Service Company ll Officiant: Rev. Ron Mateer ll Rehearsal Dinner: Frank’s Outback