Erin Westerkam and Billy Padula knew early on that they were destined to be together. They began dating while at Irmo High School, having met in their International Baccalaureate classes, which were generally small and allowed students to get to know each other.
After graduation, still a couple, Erin went to Clemson University and Billy to Wofford College. They continued dating even as Erin began dental school at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and Billy entered Duke Law School in Durham, North Carolina.
Both lovers of seafood, particularly lobster, thanks to many family beach trips to Pawley’s Island where lobster was often on the menu, they decided to take a special trip to Maine. Neither Erin nor Billy had visited Maine previously, and Billy decided the trip was where he was going to ask Erin to be his bride. He proposed in the beautiful town of Kennebunkport, situated on the southern coast. The couple was engaged nine months before they graduated. In a whirlwind month of May 2018, less than a year later, they had graduated and were married. On May 12, Billy graduated from law school; on May 19, Erin graduated from dental school; and on May 26, the two were married. “It was a crazy May,” says Erin.
Erin and Billy held their 6:30 p.m. wedding ceremony at Salem United Methodist Church in Irmo, a stone’s throw from Erin’s family home, where they held the reception. Southern Valet shuttled more than 400 guests to Mandy and Danny Westerkam’s home on Lake Murray for a celebration on the water and under the stars. The Westerkams’ home, in fact, sits majestically on Lake Murray, providing a picture-perfect backdrop for an outdoor wedding.
Erin and her mother, Mandy, enlisted the help of Meagan Warren to lead the wedding planning efforts. “Having Meagan plan the wedding was amazing,” says Mandy. “She was so calming and thought of everything, which allowed us all to focus on Erin, Billy, and the guests during the reception. We were really able to enjoy ourselves.”
Erin says Meagan’s assistance resulted in a stress free process. “Meagan was so helpful and made all of our visions come to life. It was such a great experience. Without her, it just wouldn’t have been the same.”
While Erin was at MUSC during the engagement and planning period, she and Billy both made every effort to return to Columbia to roll up their sleeves and prepare for their special day. Erin registered at non(e)such, where the team assisted in picking out china and accessories to fit the couple’s taste.
Mandy’s mother and Erin’s grandmother, Margaret Morris, hosted the bridal luncheon (catered by Kelly’s Cuisine) as well as the bridal party’s hair and makeup sessions by Debi Kelley, the Westerkam ladies’ favorite stylist. “It was so special to hold the luncheon at my mother’s,” says Mandy. “We didn’t have to travel far, and it was just a lovely afternoon.”
According to Mandy, Erin is casual and low maintenance, not expressing many requirements for the wedding. “My main goal for the entire wedding was simply for everyone to have a good time,” says Erin. “I wanted the ambiance to be casual and comfortable but still elegant and glamorous without being intimidating or stuffy.”
Erin did have one special vision in mind for the reception. She wanted a dance floor over the pool. Since that was Erin’s only real request, Mandy wanted to make it a reality. “Meagan was excited to help us,” says Mandy. “We drew it out and worked with Party Reflections. We hadn’t seen this at a wedding before. It was beautiful, different, and really made a statement.”
“The dance floor was amazing,” Erin says. “It really elevated everything. We were so excited that it worked out. Everyone was so into it, and I think it got more people out on the dance floor.”
While the dance floor made a statement, the Westerkams’ outdoor space is a statement piece of its own. The landscape was truly transformed into a wedding wonderland. Because it had rained every day for two weeks prior to the wedding, plans for tents were a must. And while the sun came out on the couple’s wedding day, the main tent served as a beautiful focal point. The clear tent was placed over the pool and was strung with lights to provide a glowing ambiance.
Erin selected organic, natural florals. The florist, Cote Design by Karin Jeffcoat, created a stunning floral arbor under which arriving guests would walk. Lovely combinations of peonies, garden and spray roses, hellebores, and hydrangea were arranged throughout the reception space, all complemented with lush greenery. As guests arrived, they were greeted with a special Champagne cocktail and prelude music from EdgeWire Music, a modern string quartet.
In keeping with the couple’s love of seafood, caterer Southern Way kept a seafood and raw bar stocked. Short ribs, chicken tacos, macaroni and cheese, and many other hearty culinary delights were also available, including burgers for noshing in the pool house. The Westerkam family, known for their special homemade pizzas, served their unique blueberry bacon pizza as a tasty late-night snack. Bonnie Brunt Cakes created the stunning wedding cake, a three-tier culinary confection featuring an almond pound cake and almond buttercream on two layers and a lemon cake with strawberry frosting on the other layer. “Billy, Erin, and I all went to the tasting together,” says Mandy. “It was so much fun getting to sample all of the delicious creations.”
A testament to her casual elegance, Erin’s halter gown from Maddison Row bridal salon in Charleston was both classic and stylish. Erin’s wedding band is one of Mandy’s old wedding bands, a gift from her husband on their 15th anniversary. The stunning antique piece is designed with sapphires and diamonds. “I always wanted one of my daughters to wear this band,” says Mandy. “When Erin and Billy were considering wedding bands, they agreed this one looked like it was just made to go with her engagement ring.”
The wedding party was filled with family, from ushers and greeters to bridesmaids and groomsmen. The bridesmaids, including Erin’s two sisters, were elegantly refined in blush gowns, while the groomsmen wore formal tuxedos with Brackish bowties, a gift from Mandy and Danny. “Billy wasn’t quite sure how his groomsmen would feel about the feather bowties at first,” says Mandy. “But they were more formal and added a stylish touch to the tuxedos.”
Erin and Billy’s first dance was “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac. The lyrics, “I wanna be with you everywhere,” alluded to the couple’s plans to move to New York and begin their new lives. I Love This Band, from Atlanta, Georgia, kept the guests entertained, never taking a break throughout the evening. “They were fantastic!” says Mandy.
Guests were also treated to a bourbon and cigar bar on the dock’s gazebo. “My husband loves bourbon, and Billy is developing a pallet for it, so we thought this would be a fun, unique addition to the reception,” says Mandy. While Erin’s one request was the dance floor, having the bar on the gazebo was ultimately her favorite part of the evening. “The bourbon and cigars were so fun,” she says. “I loved looking out on the water, while the sun set, seeing all of these people from different parts of my life talking and mingling. The dance floor brought some fun, but the gazebo got people talking.”
The picturesque views from the lake were only made more stunning when the sun set during the reception. The lake also served as the backdrop for the couple’s departure. Erin’s uncle, Tom Chambers, picked up the newlyweds in a boat, driving off over the glassy water as guests bid them adieu. Fireworks sprayed the night sky in celebration of Erin and Billy, who then set out for their honeymoon in Saint Lucia.
“The day couldn’t have been more wonderful,” says Mandy. “It was so much fun for Erin and Billy to see all of their guests visiting from across the country. To turn the corner and see a cousin from Mississippi or an old childhood friend was just so wonderful. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and that’s all Erin and Billy wanted.”
Wedding planner: Meagan Warren
Photography: Lauren Jonas
Cake: Bonnie Brunt
Lighting: Ambient Media
Floras: Cote Design
Catering: Southern Way Catering
Transportation: Southern Valet
String music: Edgewire Music
Band: I Love This Band
Wedding dress: Maddison Row
Hair: Debi Kelley
Fireworks: Munnerly Pyrotechnics
Seating/rentals: Ooh! Events
Pool dance floor: Party Reflections
Bridal luncheon caterer: Kelly’s Cuisine