Spring is here and Charleston, SC is in full bloom with bougainvillea and magnolias covering the town. In other words, it’s the perfect time of year in one of the most beautiful cities of the U.S. and A Charleston Bride is hard at work producing another dream wedding. Between designing and coordinating, we were able to sneak in some time with this all-star team of women to hear what it’s like to create gorgeous weddings for lucky couples in Charleston. Scroll through to hear from Abby, Amanda, Haley, Lindsay and Melissa and then probably go ahead and book a flight to their gorgeous town and explore it for yourself!
Nüage Designs: Tell us your story –how did you begin designing and planning weddings and events?
A Charleston Bride: [Melissa Williams] In 1999, I worked for a real estate development company as an assistant leasing agent. Part of my duties were organizing and planning quarterly broker parties at their properties. This led to newly engaged friends inquiring about various vendors while planning their weddings.
In 2001, I created a website with stock wedding photos and planned 6 weddings the following year! Fast-forward 15 years, and A Charleston Bride has planned over 400 weddings!!
ND: Your designs are always so unique from each other, where does this inspiration come from?
ACB: [Lindsey Shanks] The overall inspiration for us really needs to start with our clients. We try to hear about them, learn their style, learn their overall spirit and go from there. It’s like putting all of your ideas on a big white board in your mind that make up their event and then organizing it so the client can translate it from there!
ND: Charleston is a gorgeous place with so many special characteristics. How does the city play in to your aesthetic, designs, etc.?
ACB: [LS] The backdrop of the city provides an historic and romantic base for almost all our designs. The natural beauty of the landscape from flowers to the moss covered trees next to an antique antebellum home. It’s certainly why most brides chose the city [for their wedding].
ND: You never double-book weekends with clients, how does this exclusivity foster the planning relationship with your couples?
ACB: [Haley Kelly] We only take one wedding per weekend for a few reasons! One – we want to be fully focused on that particular couple. We want to be at the ceremony rehearsal and all-in mentally and physically on their big day! It would be impossible to do that being responsible for more than one wedding [in a weekend]. Two – for the majority of our clients, we are involved with the entire wedding weekend – a welcome party, rehearsal dinner, brunch, etc. so we like to be available for them first and foremost!
ND: How is the collaboration process with your clients?
ACB: [LS] The collaboration is certainly mutual, as we want our clients to feel involved and reflect their personal style. Obviously, it’s great when they have full faith in our design direction, but of all the components they want to stay out of, I don’t think this is it! They want to hear their story from us and to be involved and excited. As a designer, I want them to be prideful and pleased with their wedding design. This only occurs when we find the sweet spot between our lofty goals and their dreams. We start with a shared Pinterest board with texture and style inspiration and ask lots of questions about their story, style, and vision. We then take that information plus what we know of our locations and their overall budget, and go from there.
ND: Do you ever find it difficult to push clients towards what they might see as an “edgy” design?
ACB: [HK] We try and get to know our clients very well. So, usually before going into a design meeting, we know how much we can push them into an idea and in what areas they are willing to budge. We feel like we are doing our jobs when we pitch new and fresh ideas – hopefully of things they have never seen before! But yes, pushing clients beyond their comfort zone is tough. However, we have been lucky to have great clients who trust us explicitly which has resulted in so many amazing and unique events!
ND: What are some of your trademark styles?
ACB: [LS] I would like to think our trademark is to never repeat something from the past or another wedding. Let it be part of the inspiration, but make your wedding your own. We actually had one of our peers, a highly respected planner here in Charleston, give us the best compliment; he said he loved our designs because they were not only logistically feasible, but clean and unique. It was great to hear!
ND: What is your advice to couples coming to you with a “trendy” design in mind?
ACB: [HK] We always like to think outside of the box so we generally take their ideas and then spin it in a way that is timeless and unforgettable. We feel that usually we can sell it better if it is something different and makes them feel unique and special! For example, they may love greenery runners but if they hear they can do a hanging installation over the head table dripping in lights that sounds like more fun!
ND: If you could plan/design a party for anyone in the world, who would that be?
ACB: [LS] India Hicks or Marchesa…. totally different spectrums, but both have deep appreciation for texture.
[MW] Ivanka Trump or Reese Witherspoon. Both have great style.
ND: What is your favorite thing about designing weddings?
ACB: [LS] I call the wedding day “game day” because it feels like the big rally of a Friday night football game. Everything comes together and it’s truly magical to see ideas come to life! I love their reaction to it all the most!
ND: Last one, because we have to pick your brain while we have you, what trends do you see for the upcoming wedding season?
ACB: [LS] I think we are going to see a return to the ballroom glam. I think we will also hopefully see bolder and pronounced colors vs. so soft and romantic.
[MW] I think copper is going to be the hot metallic for the next couple of years.
ND: Any other thoughts that you’d like to leave us with?
ACB: [MW] We always encourage our clients to relax and enjoy the planning process. Will it be stressful at times? Of course! But the wedding will be here before they know it and life and reality will set in. This is such a special time and one they should be able to look back on fondly. We hope that’s where we step in and really make a difference!
Photography Virgil Bunao, Sposa Bella Photography, Decisive Moment, Shannon Michelle Photography, Ashley Seawell, Tim Willoughby | Venues Lowndes Grove, The Cedar Room, The Sanctuary on Kiawah, Hibernian Hall, William Aiken House, The Governor Thomas Bennett House