Tiger Paws and Santa Suits

Clemson and Christmas bring two families together

Liz Roberts

Katherine Tribble and Reid Schwartz first crossed paths at Clemson University where they attended a class together their freshman year. Once summer came, Reid and Katherine returned to their hometowns, but continued to see each other throughout the summer. The two continued to be close friends and began dating at the beginning of their sophomore year and, subsequently, through the rest of their three years at Clemson. After graduation, Katherine and Reid separated again, moving to different towns for work. They continued to see each other and eventually became engaged after three years of long distance. 

As one of five children, Katherine has a close-knit family, and she always envisioned them all being present when she became engaged. “I guess Reid decided Christmas Eve was a good time to ask me to marry him, since he knew how important family was to me –– and all of my family was together that night,” says Katherine. Reid, who is one of three boys, went with Katherine and her family to the Christmas Eve service at her church and then joined them for dinner at her aunt’s home that evening. 

Reid told Katherine he needed to get back to Sumter to see his family, so she assumed he had done just that. Unbeknownst to her, he returned to her house while his family traveled from Sumter to be together for the engagement. When the Tribbles arrived at home, one of Katherine’s sisters told her that their father wanted a family picture on the porch. As Katherine headed to the porch, Reid’s family came in the front door in time for the big announcement. 

“My dad escorted me outside and then shut the door behind me!” says Katherine. Little did she know, Reid borrowed a Santa Claus suit from his former principal from Wilson Hall to surprise Katherine on that special night. He appeared in the Santa suit and proposed out on the porch. 

Katherine’s mother, Mary, and father, coincidentally also named Reid, were thrilled with their daughter’s engagement, and the planning quickly began. They set the date for June 11, 2016. “At that time, Katherine lived in Charleston,” Mary says, “but she moved home in May, and we spent the month enjoying our time together and preparing for the days ahead. We had a wonderful time. The wedding was special, and we were pleased with how well things fell in place.”

Mary Ruth, Katherine’s sister, is a wedding planner in Charleston, but both Katherine and Mary wanted her to be able to enjoy the wedding as a participant and to not work during such a special occasion. They certainly looked to her for advice throughout the planning but decided to call on the expertise of Cricket Newman to lead the efforts. Katherine shared her thoughts with Cricket so that she could envision her ideas and aspirations and turn them into reality, something Cricket has done for so many special occasions in Columbia. 

First and foremost, it was important to the couple for their wedding to be a worship service. Katherine also wanted to be married in her church, First Presbyterian, with a reception to follow at Forest Lake Club. She chose a classic look with bright summer colors, using hydrangeas as the focal point in the flower arrangements, many coming from family and friend’s gardens. 

“I loved the centerpieces that Cricket made for the reception, as they included beautiful blue hydrangeas,” says Katherine. “I also loved the flowers in the sanctuary.” The sanctuary was embellished with aisle candles with smilax greenery and white bows. The family pews were marked with clusters of Asiatic lilies, white roses and mini green hydrangeas. The alter flowers were lush arrangements of white oriental lilies, ivory Asiatic lilies, white roses, white stock, Queen Anne’s lace, mini green hydrangeas and garden greenery in large white vases.

What could have been seen as kismet was the day Katherine and Mary went looking for the wedding dress. The two made one appointment at a boutique in Charleston on a Friday in January when Katherine was off work. After the appointment, Katherine wasn’t feeling confident about any of the dresses she had tried on, so they decided at the last minute to contact a bridal store on Daniel Island called White to see if there might be any openings available that day. This was highly unlikely given the popularity of this boutique. Much to their delight, the owner answered and said that her 4 p.m. appointment had just called five minutes earlier to cancel. “Jodie, the owner, said that if we could get there by 4 p.m. then she could fit us in,” says Katherine. “It was 3:45 at the time. We rushed there and made it just in time.” 

It turns out that the owner was having an Anne Barge trunk show and had all of the designer’s dresses in the store. “Jodie mentioned that it was amazing that we were able to call last minute and get an appointment because people had called months ahead to get an appointment to try on the Anne Barge dresses,” says Katherine. She ended up choosing her dress that day, along with the veil that matched. The dress, which had a deep opening in the back, was covered in lace that matched the lace on the long veil. Her shoes were a soft gold and provided two things Katherine desired — simplicity and comfort. 

Another true highlight of the wedding day was the music, both at the church and during the reception. At the ceremony, they chose to feature the hymn Praise to the Lord, The Almighty, and Katherine processed down the aisle to Trumpet Tune by Henry Purcell that was beautifully played by an organist and trumpeter. At the reception, Katherine and Reid were excited about the band — Bobby and the Aristocats. Katherine and Reid celebrated their marriage with their first dance to Stevie Wonder’s For Once in My Life. The joyful sounds of Stevie Wonder carried through to the father/daughter dance, where they danced to Isn’t She Lovely. Reid and Caren Schwartz, his mother, took to the dance floor to What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.

Katherine was cognizant of the fact that while most people want to enjoy the band, not everyone is interested in dancing, so she surrounded the dance floor with comfortable couches so everyone could join in the fun, whether cutting a rug or simply tapping a foot.

Katherine and Reid included some special family traditions on their wedding night. To cut the cake, they used the silver knife that Reid’s parents and grandparents had used at their own weddings. Barbara Gulledge, Reid’s grandmother, has the name of the bride and groom engraved on the knife for each couple that uses it. They also used linens from Barbara to complement the brighter linens on the cake table. The traditional white wedding cake had a delicious lemon flavor and was topped with flowers, providing an elegant look. “My wedding cake was my favorite food item at the wedding,” says Katherine. 

That could also have been due to the fact that Katherine didn’t really have an opportunity to eat much at the wedding; like many brides, she was enjoying the evening catching up with friends and family. The guests, however, fully enjoyed the traditional Southern fare that was served. “Reid and I like simple Southern food, so we stuck with the basics.” The menu featured hamburger sliders, chicken fingers, fried okra, shrimp and grits, crab cakes, tomato pie bites, cucumber sandwiches, chicken salad and beef tenderloin, among other mouthwatering selections. “I heard that the hamburger sliders were a big favorite,” says Katherine. 

After all of the dancing, laughing, taking pictures with the Clemson Tiger paw rag and enjoying their time with their guests, it was time for Katherine and Reid to make their exit and begin their life together as a married couple. Katherine changed into a Lilly Pulitzer long white skirt and top from Pink Sorbet, and Reid kept it polished in a navy sport coat and khakis. The guests bid the couple farewell with glittering sparklers that shone brightly in the dark, as Katherine and Reid jumped into a classic black town car with thoughts of their honeymoon at the Anse Chastanet resort in Saint Lucia.

Katherine and Reid, in settling down and building their life together, moved to Jacksonville, Florida for a short six weeks, as soon after, Reid began a new job in Richmond, Virginia. “It was a big summer for us,” laughs Katherine. “We are going to take it slow for the rest of the year … ” And just enjoy being married.