Carly & Chris | The Dewberry

Carly & Chris | The Dewberry

After going to the same high school in Spring Lake, New Jersey, Carly and Chris’s paths finally intersected long after graduation at a mutual friend’s house. “Late nights drinking and playing games eventually turned into sit-down dinners,” says Carly, “and that’s when I realized we were being set up. Soon after we had dinner just the two of us … and the rest is history!” Here’s the scoop on how the bride, who runs Willow Rose Floral florist in her hometown (AKA the cutest seaside part of the Jersey Shore) and her now-hubs feted with their families at The Dewberry for one posh Big Day.

The Wedding Row: How did you pick Charleston and The Dewberry? Your hometown has great historic inns for weddings.

Carly: We wanted a destination wedding where our guests could get to know one another over the course of an entire weekend as opposed to just one night. Charleston was our top choice because not only is it a place close to us as a couple, but it’s also a favorite destination for many of our friends and family. The Dewberry first stole my heart while I was online researching venues. The minute I actually walked through the doors, I knew ‘This must be the place.’ Its purposeful design, mid-century style, and history drew us in, but the hotel’s attention to detail and focus on service sealed the deal. Also, the rooftop, that view!

TWR: Spill the beans on the proposal.

Carly: Chris originally planned to pop the question at a local restaurant. Unfortunately, I had started piecing together the clues —he met with my dad the previous week, we were going to a restaurant I had been dying to try, and he was wearing a suit to dinner. He caught on I was expecting it and the night ended with no proposal. The next morning, I had an extremely busy day meeting with brides and prepping flowers for a shower. I was running around frantically trying not to be late while Chris was relaxing on the couch. Our dog, Willow, was trying to get under the couch. Chris, still laying on the couch, asked me to help the dog reach her bone which had apparently slid under the couch. Of course, this made me annoyed (hello, you’re lying on the couch, just reach under?!). I bent down and reached under, only to find a ring box next to the dog bone. Immediately I flushed and looked up at Chris, who had a huge grin across his face. ‘Now that I have you on one knee, will you marry me?’ I have to give it to him, if ever there was a proposal to catch me off-guard, it was this.

TWR: Nice! Any vision for the wedding?

Carly: I drove everyone crazy with insisting that the dinner and reception be in separate areas. Why? Dinner should be intimate and enjoyed and it’s hard to do that when people are getting up and dancing and mingling—that’s what the reception is for. I’m so thankful we were able to pull this off. It made all the difference and really gave my guests a time to converse and enjoy the amazing food from Henrietta’s, the hotel’s restaurant.

TWR: You’re a florist in New Jersey, but hired The Bearded Florist here to do your florals. Why was that?

Carly: I kept fighting the idea of doing them myself and waited until a few months before the wedding to actually reach out to Charleston florists. Noah’s business card had been given to me in a previous visit to Charleston. After communicating via email and eventually meeting in person, Chris and I immediately felt confident in Noah’s ability, creativity, and willingness to work with me—it was so important to find a designer that was open to collaboration, to be excited over the project, and to create something amazing together. And we definitely succeeded! The ceremony backdrop was the main focus and the end result was more beautiful than I could have imagined. Noah did an incredible job executing the entire vision.

TWR: Velvet bridesmaid dresses? Emerald shoes for you? Obsessed.

Carly: The emerald shoes were one of the things I was very hesitant about: Are they too bold? Should I go classic? Do they match? But I’m so happy I went for it. After choosing a velvet accent ribbon for my dress, I decided on the velvet bridesmaids’ dresses (Jenny Yoo from Bella Bridesmaids), velvet tablecloths for the dinner, and velvet ribbon for the bouquets. And how can you go wrong with that amazing emerald green color? It looks amazing on everyone.

TWR: Tell us more about your dress.

Carly: On my first “wedding planning” trip to Charleston, I was completely overwhelmed so I decided to do something just for myself—try on wedding dresses. Apparently, that is not an activity you can do without an appointment. I called half a dozen wedding boutiques and Emily Kotarski Bridal Studio was the only one with an available appointment. I walked in knowing nothing about her, her studio, or the fact that her dresses were custom designed. The latter immediately intimidated me, ‘Custom designed,’ what does that mean? As we started trying dresses on and began visualizing the details of “my dress,” I knew I stumbled upon something truly special. And come on, that cape speaks for itself! The process of working with Emily to create what would become my wedding dress was so amazing, not only as an artist but also as a bride. I had walked into her studio just hoping to try on dresses for the first time, and walked out with “the one.”

TWR: Anything to share from the Big Day itself?

Carly: When Chris and I sat down to discuss our favorite moment, we both said our first dance. Originally it was something we admittedly were dreading … all eyes on us, dancing, happy? That’s what nightmares are made of! But once our song started playing, we forgot those fears and just enjoyed our moment with one another. We danced to “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” by The Talking Heads. The title became almost a theme for the wedding—we put it on invitations as well as the welcome bags.

Wedding Design: Willow Rose Floral | Planning and Coordination: Desired & Inspired | Floral Design: The Bearded Florist | Photographer: Elizabeth Ervin | Venue: The Dewberry | Lounge and Tabletop Rentals: Ooh! Events | Linens: BBJ Linen, Snyder Events | Candles: Yummi Candles | Lighting: Charleston Uplighting | Catering: Henrietta’s | Graphic Design: Jacqueline Ervin | Letterpress: The Laughing Owl Press Co. | Band: Steel Toe Stiletto | Bride’s Gown: Emily Kotarski Bridal Studio | Bridesmaids’ Attire: Jenny Yoo from Bella Bridesmaids | Beauty: Pampered & Pretty | Men’s Attire: Charleston Tuxedo

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