Late Summer Wedding at The Mills House Hotel

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ALISON & PALMER

A Mills House Hotel Wedding

Charleston, South Carolina

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How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.

Palmer and I are both from Columbia with a lot of mutual friends. We crossed paths from friends and previous relationships during high school, but didn't come to actually "meet" each other until a couple of months after I moved to Charleston. We had a mutual friend, who was Palmer's roommate and a college friend of mine that officially introduced us. I didn't have many friends in Charleston, so I spent a lot of my free time hanging out with "the guys." We were all going out for our friend's birthday when Palmer and I hit it off. A few days after Palmer worked up the courage to ask me on a date. After that date, we were inseparable. March 1, 2015 was when we officially started dating. For the Proposal:For a long time, we had always talked about 2017 being "our year". I, Alison, had always wanted a Spring wedding and well, time was running out. Between buying/building a house, working and everything else the time just wasn't right. Palmer finally had everything figured out and was ready to make that leap. Thanksgiving weekend, we were in Columbia to see my family. Bob, my step-dad, was outside getting ready for hunting the next day and I (Alison) was preoccupied with something inside. Palmer walked out and asked Bob if he could talk to him. His response, "You're about as subtle as a shotgun". He gave him his blessing, Faith (Alison's mother) then gave Palmer hers. The first major step was done.Next, Palmer and his mother went to Garfield's Jewelers, where my Mother's ring was purchased by Bob. The owner, Susanna Garfield, a family friend, went through all of the options with them and helped Palmer make some decisions. When the day finally came, he had his Mom, Dad and Susanna all there to watch as the decision was made final. So then came the fun part and the question everyone asked, "how are you going to do it?".  My birthday was the next week 12/22 and Palmer figured the best way to do it was with dinner, a walk to the pier in downtown Charlestonand then ask. Well, I have a tendency to be a little suspicious of things, so the day we were going to put up the Christmas tree with our roommates, Palmer decided he was going to ask.We purchased a star for the tree and it kept falling on the floor. Palmer had hidden the ring in the wet bar so he proceeded put the star over there (out of my clumsy reach) so when the time came, he had a cover story. Palmer's parents, and our two roommates were all there. Palmer had me get the step ladder so I could put the star up. Meanwhile, they had my parents and my best friend, Anslie, face-timed in. Palmer got down on one knee, my patient self kept getting frustrated with Palmer not bringing the star quick enough and when I turned around, there he was with a different "star" in his hand. Tears were shed, champagne was popped, I doesn't remember anything past the first sentence "Alison, I've loved you since the day I met you and I will love you forever...", and then I said "YES!" The hashtag was quickly created off of our last name Stokes, #StokedforLife

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Let's talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.

I've been into fashion for as long as I can remember. I majored in Retailing and worked in the fashion world for 5+ years. I'd like to describe my style as classic with a twist. My problem is actually narrowing down selections and making a decision, so I was somewhat stressed when it came to the day I tried on dresses. I don't like shopping, so I powered through trying on gowns with my Maid and Matron of Honors. I went to three bridal boutiques in three different cities before I found "the one." I guess the saying "third times the charm" was fitting for this! I was torn between a full A-line gown and a mermaid, fit n flare style. I found higher end designer dresses that I used as a baseline in finding a dress more in my price point. I thought I wanted lace, but then quickly came to realize I was getting quite picky about the kind of lace. Believe it or not, the gown I ended up selecting, I almost refused to try on. Upon arriving to the third bridal boutique, The Castle, in Spartanburg with my mom and best friend/Matron of Honor, Anslie, "my dress" was in the window on a mannequin. Anslie quickly told me she wanted me to try on every style whether or not I liked it on the hanger or not to be sure I was choosing THE ONE! She squealed when she saw it and said "YOU HAVE TO TRY THAT ON, IT HAS ALL THE ELEMENTS YOU LOVE!" I actually wasn't crazy about it, it seemed "plain" even though it had the fluff at the bottom. Once I tried on what felt like 20 dresses, they brought in the window dress. As soon as I put it on we added the sparkly belt and I was sold! Once we added the veil the tears started flowing. It was form fitting, had a sweetheart neckline, had the "fluff," and the perfect touch of sparkle. My mom and I both also fell in love with the buttons that started at the very top and went all the way to the end of my train. My dress was elegance with flair!Palmer is very straight laced and wears a suit everyday for work, so we knew we wanted a tuxedo for the guys. We initially discussed having the guys wear navy tuxedos, but once we chose the bridesmaid dress color, we opted for the traditional black tuxedo. It was timeless and classic for our Black Tie Optional wedding. Palmer also wanted to wear his personal tuxedo for sentimental purposes.The Christmas we got engaged, his mom and I found a Brackish Bowtie for him. We had several black tie weddings coming up and he wanted to stand out, but we also thought it could be the one he could wear in our wedding. Once he wore it three times, he lost the desire to wear it for our wedding as it wasn't as sentimental as we originally planned, so we decided on purchasing a new one for him to wear. This turned into wanting all the groomsmen to have a very special gift and he gifted a Brackish Bowtie for all of his groomsmen and I gave one to my step-dad the day of. Fun Fact: Brackish Bowties are handcrafted here in Charleston. You've probably seen them on Bill Murray or Cam Newton. We were able to go on a tour of their warehouse when we purchased all of them. They also placed a personalized card with handwritten calligraphy of everyone's name and our wedding date in the box.

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How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY?

Summerall Chapel is very traditional in a military sense, built in 1936, it's 14th century Gothic architecture makes the atmosphere very unique. The pews are stained white oakThe ceiling and timbering are pine. The windows are all stained glass and there is handcrafted wrought iron lighting fixtures hanging throughout the chapel. We didn't want to draw away from anything in the chapel and I like simple designs, so we agreed on our florists attaching simple trailing greenery and a signature Charleston Sweetgrass Rose with a white ribbon on the stanchions at the end of the pews. The Citadel provides a huge white arrangement at the alter, so we did not need to worry about that. As I said previously, I am all about simple designs and I wanted to continue with the theme of the bridesmaids' bouquets.  For the reception I let our florists take the reigns and work their magic. Blush tones along with white and A LOT of greenery! Since our reception was held at The Mills House hotel in the courtyard & Barbados Room in the summer, we had all of the lovely flowers and plants still alive and in bloom relieving us of additional florals outside around the fountain. Since we had a buffet-style reception, we set a lot of high top tables instead of seated tables inside and out to keep guests mingling and to provide more room for movement.As much as I've pinned "DIY Wedding Decor" on my Pinterest board, we really didn't do any DIY as The Mills House provided so much for us to use.

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What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?

Palmer and I both agreed we didn't want to have a first look with each other. We wanted the moment when the chapel doors opened to be that much more exciting. I had a first look with my step-dad instead. We alway joke that Palmer is definitely the more emotional one in our relationship. I'm the stone cold one who never really shows emotion. He's actually made me extremely emotional since we've been together. The moment we made eye contact, we both started crying. I didn't even notice anyone else in the room I was so locked on Palmer. The bridal party all had a bet that Palmer would cry and be the first to cry...they were right!

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Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you'd like to share with other couples planning their day?

Make sure you find enjoyment in wedding planning. There is going to be stress, that's not an aspect you can escape, but remember the end goal. As much as Palmer and I joked about "we should've eloped!" we truly did enjoy our wedding day. The day of your wedding make sure you relax and soak it all in. The day flies by, and I didn't really believe people, but I wish we could rewind. The day was gone in a flash. Take time away from your reception to decompress for a few minutes and breathe!

Bakery: DeClare Cakes // Bridesmaid Dresses: Bella Bridesmaid Charleston // Photo Booth Equipment: MVP Photo Booth Charleston // Ceremony Location: Summerall Chapel // Dress Store: The Castle Prom and Bridal // Lighting: Bunn DJ Company // Makeup Artist: Lashes and Lace Bridal Hair and Makeup // Reception Venue: The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel // Photographer: Courtney Price Photography//

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

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