Jan Marshall will never forget November 2018 or, more accurately, a phone call she received early that month from her daughter, Mimi. “She called to let me know she had met someone at a Halloween party who was sweet and adorable, but that she didn’t want the family to meet him until she was sure it was something,” she says. “We were intrigued. She’d never said anything like that before.”
In December, Mimi and Jack Collins were officially dating, but, beyond hearing about how he was the nicest guy Mimi had ever met, Jan was in the dark. Still, her mama superpowers were on full alert and she knew something was up. “We went to Vail that year for Christmas, and Mimi never managed to make it on time to our lunches … or anywhere else for that matter,” says Jan, with a laugh. “She wouldn’t tell us why, but we quickly figured out she was always FaceTiming with Jack.”
Finally, more than four months later, Mimi knew that what she and Jack had was definitely “something,” so she called her parents and asked if she could bring Jack to join the family for a birthday dinner for Chris, Mimi’s father. “Three minutes into the dinner, Jack had to excuse himself for a moment,” says Jan. “Mimi leaned over and said, ‘Is he not adorable?’ I thought he was, but it was more than that. He was so easy to be around and was a perfect fit for Mimi and for our family.”
Mimi says that while she knew pretty quickly that Jack might be the one, she was sure of it by April 2019. “He had met my family, and I had spent a very special Easter weekend with his,” she says. “That’s when I realized it was real. We’ve been ‘Mimi and Jack’ ever since.”
Mimi and Jack spent the rest of 2019 and early 2020 much the same way as many couples their age, going to friends’ weddings and beginning to immerse themselves in each other’s worlds. “In March of 2019 we went to Asheville to see Leon Bridges in concert,” says Mimi. “We had a blast, but I don’t think either of us ever imagined that we would be sharing our first dance three years later to one of the same songs we watched him perform that night.”
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything for the couple, but they took it in stride. Jack built raised beds in his yard and began growing vegetables; together the couple added window boxes to the front of Mimi’s house. “We wouldn’t have done either of those projects if it wasn’t for COVID,” says Mimi. “We have a lot of really nice memories from that time, and Jack has a new hobby!”
By the end of 2020 Mimi and Jack had had their first discussions about spending the rest of their lives together; in January 2021, during a trip to Charleston, they went ring shopping for the first time. “I know that a lot of brides have an exact ring in mind, but I would have been perfectly happy with a surprise,” she says. “But in his usual way, Jack was super thoughtful and wanted me to have exactly what I wanted. After a few visits to Croghan’s, we had it all figured out, but then he got crafty and told me everything was going to be delayed. We had discussed getting engaged in April, so I mentally pushed it back until May.”
But Jack, who knew it would be hard to surprise Mimi, had secretly taken possession of the ring and had planned to surprise Mimi one Sunday after their regular church service in Greenville. “Jack figured that Mimi would expect a Friday or Saturday engagement, so he decided on a Sunday,” says Jan. “He told me later he was so nervous that he referred to the couple whose baby was being baptized as the couple whose baby was about to get engaged. I felt so badly for him!”
Nervous as he was, Jack managed to pull off the surprise, asking Mimi if she would marry him as they strolled down an empty Greenville side street after church. “I didn’t think it was possible, but I was totally surprised,” says Mimi.
Jan believes her. “By the time they arrived for our celebratory lunch at Jack’s parents’ home, she was shaking! It was a beautiful lunch joining both families and a day we will never forget.”
Once the excitement of Mimi’s engagement had settled down a bit, it was time to begin planning the wedding. Jan says that her very first call was to Meagan Warren, a Columbia-based wedding planner. “Mimi had been in a wedding that Meagan had planned, and Meagan never lost her cool, even when the rain came down in buckets,” says Jan. “I knew she’d do a terrific job, and she did!”
Working with Meagan, the couple toured a number of venues before deciding on the Lace House, which was the right size and had an open date in January. Mimi’s church, Shandon Methodist, was also available.
Date nailed down, it was time to begin shopping for a wedding dress. “My phone was filled with screenshots of dresses that I loved, but, in the end, everything I thought I wanted didn’t look good on me,” says Mimi. “But when I put on the dress that I ended up buying, I knew it immediately.” Long and slender, with a wide, scooped neckline and a low back with an elegant bow, the sleek gown turned out to be the perfect backdrop for Mimi’s ornate lace veil, which attached to a hairpiece and spilled down her back into a full-length train.
Like the gown, decor at the wedding reception added sumptuous touches, from velvet tablecloths to a timeless setting of white lights, candles, and lush greenery. “From the very beginning, Mimi had an absolute vision for what she wanted,” says Meagan. “The ice blue she chose was perfect for January, and it looked beautiful with the green and white floral arrangements.”
Mimi also wanted to have a sit-down dinner. Like many young couples, Mimi and Jack spent the last few years attending their friends’ weddings, most of which were large gatherings with multiple food stations where guests could graze at will. But because of COVID, they’d also been invited to more intimate, safer gatherings as well. The exposure to both helped Mimi and Jack determine exactly the type of celebration they wanted for their own wedding.
“Before COVID, I had always assumed I’d have a huge party wedding,” says Mimi. “But during COVID, Jack and I attended a smaller reception with a sit-down dinner. We loved the experience, and we wanted to create a similar experience for our guests.”
As Mimi began to think through a sit-down dinner, she realized that she actually wanted the reception to encompass three distinct experiences, each housed in a separate, but connected, area: cocktails were served inside the Lace House, as well as at a martini bar on the side patio; the dinner space; and a third tent for after-dinner dancing.
While creating the spaces was a matter of logistics and creativity, winnowing down the guest list to a number manageable for a sit-down dinner turned out to be more of a challenge. “I’m a ‘the more the merrier’ type person, so it was really hard,” says Mimi. “But I stuck to my guns, and I’m so glad I did. It was perfect. I wanted it to feel like a fabulous restaurant experience, and Loosh Culinaire did it exactly right, down to the wine pairings with each course.”
Throughout the wedding weekend, Mimi found herself delighting in favorite moments, starting with the rehearsal dinner. “I didn’t have a thing to do with the planning, and it was just so special,” she says. The next morning, the couple enjoyed their “first look.” “Jack is very private, so it was just a tiny group. When he pulled out his cell phone, I wondered what in the world he was doing, but he said he wanted to take a picture of the moment so he could remember it.”
Mimi spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon with her mother, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and close friends. “I felt a sweet sense of calm throughout the day, and it was great to be able to soak up time with all of the most important women in my life,” she says. “Later, at the ceremony, I looked at Jack’s face as we said our vows, and it felt like it was just the two of us in the church.”
Everything went so smoothly that Mimi can even laugh about the one activity that didn’t go exactly as planned: the couple’s first dance. “It was important to us to have a great first dance, so we took weeks and weeks of lessons and planned a dance to a slightly condensed version of the song “Beyond,” by Leon Bridges, which we both love,” she says. “At the reception, we heard the first notes of “Beyond” and rushed out there as quickly as we could, but after less than a minute, the band segued to the next song on our list. We died laughing because we had been so excited to show off our moves!”
But the night wasn’t quite over. As the wedding guests filed to the front of the Lace House for the couple’s send-off, Mimi and Jack found themselves alone on the dance floor. “Meagan cued the band to play “Beyond,” and we finally got to have our dance,” says Mimi. “It was such a special moment, and we finally got to do our moves! It was a perfect ending to a perfect weekend.”