Sometimes magical things happen in the rain, like the time a rainy afternoon forced Mary Chris Satterthwaite and Will Lowman to shelter under a NASCAR tailgate tent and thus ignited a beautiful love story.
Mary Chris had just moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, to begin a job with Bank of America in structured finance. She had previously met Will, an interest rate derivative trader for Wells Fargo, through mutual friends. However, the two really hit it off on that rainy race day. From the track, the party moved to a Charlotte pub, where the blossoming couple ended up dancing all night long.
“After that, there was no looking back,” says Mary Chris. “We have so much fun together.” Will agrees. “I’ve never met anyone like Mary Chris. She’s beautiful, smart, and fun,” he says. After discovering they were both foodies, Will introduced Mary Chris to restaurants around her new Charlotte home. Their first date included street tacos and spicy margaritas. “Our dates went on for hours,” says Mary Chris. “We had so much in common.” Besides shared careers in the world of finance, they discovered they were also both from the Columbia area. Mary Chris graduated from Irmo High School before going to Wake Forest University. Will graduated from Cardinal Newman School and then from Clemson University.
Mary Chris and Will, who share a love for running, ran a marathon together. Long training runs gave them time to get to know each other well. Their mutual zest for life was another shared characteristic. “Will never does anything in a small way. It’s just not his style,” Mary Chris says. For her 25th birthday, Will coordinated with 10 of Mary Chris’ girlfriends from around the country to surprise her. Later, they developed a shared love for traveling. Their first trip was to Copenhagen, Berlin, and Munich. “We had so much fun … experiencing the food, the music scene, and finishing the trip with Oktoberfest,” says Mary Chris. “Will pushes me to be more spontaneous. His spontaneity is something I really admire about him. We both really like to live life to the fullest.”
After dating Mary Chris for two and a half years, proposing was an easy decision for Will. “I knew pretty quickly,” he says. “She’s the most amazing person I’ve ever met.”
He knew he wanted to pop the question someplace special. Mary Chris unwittingly helped when she found inexpensive flights to Spain. “I capitalized on her find,” Will says. Mary Chris thought it was odd that so many of her friends asked when their trip was and told her to enjoy it, not knowing Will had alerted them to his plans.
On their second day in Madrid, normally go-with-the-flow Will insisted that Mary Chris get ready so they could be at the Parque del Oeste right as the sun was setting. At the park, they walked around the Temple of Debod, a transplanted, ancient Egyptian ruin. “It was raining and no one was there, which ended up being great,” says Mary Chris. “Will is a history buff, but he wasn’t even paying attention.” Instead, he coaxed Mary Chris to a reflecting pool by saying it would be a good place to take a selfie.
“I thought that was really weird,” Mary Chris says. “He has no social media presence, and I knew he’d never taken a selfie.” Then, she saw Will nod to a photographer, one he had hired to capture the moment. “He got down on one knee. We were in the rain, so my hair was frizzy, and we were sporting umbrellas and raincoats, but the pictures are so great and the moment was incredibly special,” she says. The couple spent the rest of their time in Spain and Morocco celebrating.
With busy jobs in Charlotte and a desire to wed in Columbia, Mary Chris and Will sought assistance from Meagan Warren for both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding day. Fortunately, Meagan specializes in full-service planning. “When I first met Mary Chris and Will, they’d just gotten engaged,” says Meagan. “They had no date, venue, or anything in mind, so I asked them for key words to describe their relationship. They said: ‘adventurous, worldly, fun, goofy, hard-working, and relationship-focused.’”
Mary Chris and Will appreciated Meagan’s innate ability to understand what they wanted. “She was awesome,” Mary Chris says of Meagan. “She read my mind.” Meagan created a theme based on the couple’s love of travel in general and their engagement in Spain in particular, as well as Mary Chris’ desire for a romantic, European feel. Meagan did all the ground work, securing the venues, negotiating hotel blocks, hiring caterers, the florist, and the band, and handling myriad other details. Ambient Media was chosen to create the exotic lighting.
“Fall is my favorite time of year,” says Mary Chris. An October wedding was an obvious choice that worked well with the color scheme Meagan developed based on her conversations with the couple, including soft, earthy colors of slate, stone, and beige, along with garden colors of blush, greens, light blue, and periwinkle. Meagan teamed up with Shana Wanco of Iris & Marie Press for the couple’s invitations and other stationery. “I never realized there were so many kinds of paper,” says Mary Chris. “Shana has an excellent eye beyond stationery and paper. She’s insanely creative and talented and helped us create our vision for the rehearsal dinner and wedding day.”
When the couple met with Meagan, Mary Chris’ mother, Shari Satterthwaite, and Will’s mother, Sissy Corbett, often accompanied them. They particularly enjoyed cake tasting with Bonnie Brunt, who created their four-tier wedding cake with its unfinished buttercream edges. Cake flavors included sour cream pound cake with lemon filling, red velvet cake with cream cheese filling, and sweet potato cake with caramel filling. “I wasn’t expecting to choose the sweet potato cake, but it was so scrumptious and worked with the time of year,” says Mary Chris. The cake was finished with fresh flowers and greenery provided by Sarah Shell of Fern Floral and Event Design and gold leaf details hand-painted by Bonnie.
When choosing her dress, Mary Chris knew she wanted something simple. She went to four bridal shops in Charlotte, accompanied by Shari and Sissy. Katelyn Satterthwaite, Mary Chris’ sister-in-law, and Taylor Lowman, Will’s sister, also joined the fun. “You go in, and people make it so special for you, with mimosas and everything,” Mary Chris says. At the fourth location, Hayden Olivia Bridal Boutique, Mary Chris tried on a straight, bateau-necked, backless creation by Anne Barge. “I put it on, and we all knew it was the dress.”
For another pop of celebration and fun, she chose Swarovski crystal-studded Stuart Weitzman sandals. “It was important to me that the shoes be comfortable because I love to dance,” says Mary Chris. She also wore them to the rehearsal dinner. Her bridesmaids selected long Jenny Yoo dresses of their choice in dusty blue. Will and his groomsmen wore classic black tuxedos provided by Granger Owings.
The rehearsal dinner, held at the Columbia Museum of Art, featured a Spanish theme and was catered by Loosh Culinaire Fine Catering. Place cards were made from polished shards of sea pottery, another nod to the couple’s love of travel.
Mary Chris grew up attending church at the Basilica of Saint Peter on Assembly Street and was baptized there, so she naturally chose to be married there as well. “It was a big part of my family life,” she says. “We attended mass every Sunday.” Mary Chris and Will participated in premarital classes with the Very Reverend Canon Gary S. Linsky every Sunday night for 12 weeks.
“It was a lot, with making the drive both ways and having to work the next day, but Will and I are so glad we went through it, and in hindsight we wouldn’t have done it any other way,” she says. The car rides back to Charlotte offered the perfect opportunity for further conversation.
With her bouquet, Mary Chris carried a rosary of pearls and crystals blessed by Father Linsky. She also gave rosaries to her bridesmaids. “It was important to have fun but to honor my faith at the same time,” says Mary Chris. Special music included Ave Maria, which was her parents’ wedding processional song. Mary Chris wore a ruby ring that once belonged to her grandmother, the late Fern Satterthwaite, given to Mary Chris by her mother the day before the wedding.
Mary Chris and Will’s wedding ceremony was followed by a Spanish-inspired cocktail hour in 701 Whaley’s Granby Room. Guests snacked on Spanish cheeses, sushi, beef tataki nachos, and sweet potato bisque served in petite shot glasses. Red wine sangria flowed as Steve Sloan played Spanish guitar. Because Mary Chris mentioned a fondness for collecting pigs, Meagan hid little brass pigs around the bar for the couple to find. Guests moved from the cocktail hour straight to a sit-down dinner and the formal introduction of bride and groom.
The seating chart was superimposed over a framed collection of vintage maps from the couple’s travels, a gift from Mary Chris to Will. Mary Chris credits Meagan for transforming 701 Whaley’s Grand Hall into an intimate, magical atmosphere for the seated dinner and dancing. The ceilings were hung with Spanish moss, greenery, and cafe lights. Tables of varying sizes were covered in lustrous fabrics, marble chargers, glowing candles, and arrangements of dahlias, garden roses, ranunculus, chocolate cosmos, delphinium, hellebores, foxglove, and zinnias.
“She listened and turned my dreams into a reality, even better than I imagined,” says Mary Chris of Meagan. “I’m not a tearful person, but I teared up when I saw it.” Dinner by Southern Way Catering consisted of a mixed green salad with toasted pumpkin seeds, roasted Spanish pepper, julienned red onion, goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, and hot baked popovers. Guests chose from entrees of grilled beef tenderloin, grilled salmon, or portobello mushrooms caps with spinach and artichoke stuffing, all paired with a mushroom and corn risotto and jumbo grilled asparagus.
“All in all, we wanted to have amazing music and a really good party,” says Mary Chris. She and Will first danced to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s You’re All I Need to Get By. Mary Chris shared a dance to Just the Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra with Newlin Satterthwaite, her father. “The Band Punch was absolutely insane,” says Mary Chris. “I haven’t been to a wedding where everyone was dancing the whole time like they were at ours.” As the evening wound down, Southern Way served heart-shaped pepperoni and margherita mini pizzas.
“I’ve never had more fun in my life,” says Mary Chris of their wedding day. “To have all your friends laughing, dancing, and cheering for you, it was such a magical moment but so humbling, also.” Will feels the same way. “It exceeded our expectations across the board. It was such a great day,” he says.
One final, special moment was their exit at the end of the night. The couple planned to leave amid a shower of sparklers, but the weather did not cooperate. “It was still perfect though. It was so special to see our most loved family and friends lined up on either side of us as we ran through,” says Mary Chris. After a final kiss, the new couple walked out into the confetti of a sprinkling rain.