Mary McDonald “Mary Mac” Stewart and Jaime Cuellar’s wedding was not only the joining together of two families, it was also the wonderful blending of two cultures. Mary Mac, a native of Columbia, and Jaime, a native of San Salvador, El Salvador were determined to have their ceremony demonstrate their love and celebrate their cultures, families and friends coming together.
During the wedding ceremony, Scripture readings were presented in both English and Spanish by the bride’s brother and the groom’s sister. The unique sounds of bagpipes filled the air before Mary Mac processed down the aisle, while the beautiful solo of “A Mother’s Prayer” was translated into Spanish for Jaime’s family members. “The service was so very special,” says Kit Stewart, mother of the bride. “With our family heritage, my husband had always wanted to have bagpipes at our daughter’s wedding.”
An international representation permeated the guest list. As a former tennis player for the University of South Carolina, Jaime has friends from all across the world, many of whom traveled from El Salvador, Brazil, France, Russia, Chile and Australia for the nuptials. This unique blend of cultures was even more reason for the couple to want to provide a memorable reception at Forest Lake Club. “I wanted our wedding to be elegant and crisp, yet romantic,” says Mary Mac. “The driving force was for the wedding to be ‘us.’”
Their first desire was to have an outdoor wedding, but the high temperatures and humidity of a Columbia summer made that challenging. Cricket Newman of Cricket Newman Designs, planner for the wedding, decided to bring the outdoors in. “We were able to transform a very elegant space into a wonderful rustic setting,” says Cricket. Mary Mac loved large backyard lights often seen at barbecues or in picturesque Italian settings. Cricket beautifully recreated them and wrapped them in greenery, and she covered the venue’s chandeliers so that the string lights provided the only illumination in the room. Rustic outdoor entertaining is very popular in El Salvador thanks to year-round warm weather, so the outdoor feel of the reception was very special to Jaime’s family. Old farm tables and tables and bars covered in aqua burlap and gray cloth added to the vineyard/street fair atmosphere. Colors of aqua, lime green/chartreuse and gray were complemented by a mix of green and white flowers, including Fuji mums, which covered the cake table.
In addition to the elegant, unique atmosphere of the wedding, Mary Mac and Jaime also wanted to capture the feeling of family. “I had seen a photo booth idea that I was determined we would try,” says Mary Mac. A family friend constructed a fabric-covered wall with a square space in the center. Surrounded by a photo frame, the space was designed so that guests could stand behind it and pose with props as if they were in the photo themselves. On the wall also were hung real wedding pictures from the bride and groom’s parents and grandparents, tying together the couple’s love of family and friends.
In keeping with the fun mood, the couple hired an energetic band to entertain the guests with a mix of popular and Latino music. And no detail was overlooked, down to the gifts. Guests were provided with sunglasses and maracas to increase the fun factor. Bridesmaids were given white crocheted Toms shoes as a part of their gifts to wear at the reception and comfortably dance the night away. Groomsmen were given cufflinks, each with a personal touch. “Jaime gave my brothers Gamecock cufflinks; his brother and tennis friends got tennis cufflinks; his dad got airplane cufflinks, as he is a pilot; and my dad, a doctor, got medical symbols,” says Mary Mac. “We tried at every opportunity to add details that reflected us as individuals and as a couple.”
Those details were also displayed in the signature drink – a Bahama Mama, Jaime’s drink of choice on their first date – and in the evening’s food, a scrumptious mixture of El Salvadorian fare and traditional Southern cuisine. An array of sushi was set atop glass in a large, eight-foot wooden boat that belonged to a dear friend who also had used it at her own daughter’s wedding, and other food was displayed at varying heights using wooden wine boxes, a nod to the couple’s engagement in Napa Vallay. “We tried to make sure our friends were well-fed at all hours, so we arranged to have Happy Meals arrive as they left,” says Mary Mac. This was not only a generous treat for hungry guests, but also a creative nod to her full name.
With a wedding and reception so full of memories, one moment in particular stands out to Mary Mac. “I have never seen so many people at a bride and groom’s departure,” remembers Mary Mac. “People were shouting, ‘What time is it? Jimmy time!’ which was something the tennis team shouted during one of Jaime’s tennis matches at U.S.C. That was so touching, and it was wonderful to see everyone so happy for us!”
That feeling of happiness was no doubt evident in a second ceremony held in Jaime’s hometown in El Salvador where the couple had their wedding blessed in a Catholic church. It was a tribute to a respect for cultures, a respect for partnership and a commitment to sharing it all in a life of love and happiness together.