Wedding season is all around with beautiful brides and dashing grooms looking to make a new life together. But before it begins, so many details must come together — the proposal, wedding plans, logistics, colors, dresses, food … it is a lot to think about, but also so much fun! Here, one couple’s memorable wedding under the oaks beautifully pulled together the details for a fantastic celebration of their love and commitment to each other.
Sometimes trying not to surprise someone is the biggest surprise of all … and it’s also a testament to how well two people know each other. So it was for Laura Oliphant and McLean Williams. Having known each other since their freshman year of college, Laura and McLean share a rich history. Their college relationship began as only a friendship, but after graduation it was kindled into more when happenstance brought them together. They reunited at a University of South Carolina/East Carolina football game in Charlotte, N.C. where McLean lived. As it was in college, the two got along very well and soon began dating.
A little more than two years later, the promise of a long future together was solidified when McLean proposed to Laura. He intentionally avoided any formal structure to the day, otherwise, Laura would have seen the engagement coming. Thus, when McLean came over, he acted as if it were a day like any other. Laura, working from home on a Friday at 2 p.m., was comfortably clad in sweats and a T-shirt and surrounded by her favorite things — her dogs. “We are very casual people,” says Laura. “McLean knew if he had made some big production, I would have known.” So it happened casually, in the backyard — McLean on one knee asking for Laura’s hand. Laura’s response? “Thank you.” McLean’s: “Is that a yes?” It certainly was.
As with many newly engaged, excited couples, the planning started immediately. Among the first decisions was to have a long engagement. Both Laura and McLean spent a lot of their time in Pawley’s Island and Litchfield while growing up. In fact, they later discovered that they likely spent much of their childhoods vacationing near each other. Because of that, they quickly booked Litchfield Plantation as the venue. The beauty and grandeur of the location was a wonderful complement to the casual elegance of the couple. The band, Musical Fantasy, was an easy choice as well since Laura had heard them at a friend’s wedding. Musical Fantasy offered endless entertainment with their fun, interactive approach — not to mention the seven-piece band, complete with a horn section.
The planning of the Oliphant-Williams wedding is a clear indication of how times have changed, as much of the planning and decision-making were done with the help of Pinterest. The popular social media site allows users to save, sort and share images and ideas on a pin board. Lauraspent a lot of time creating boards that showcased her ideas — from the dress, to the setting, to the bouquet. Being from Columbia, Laura wanted to use vendors that she knew, including Cricket Newman as her wedding planner, Southern Way for her caterer and Morganelli’s for spirits. Laura had a particular style in mind and wanted to ensure her ideas and inspirations were shared with her planner. She spent time searching for photos that appropriately portrayed her vision and would pin these photos and ideas to her Pinterest boards so that Cricket could create a plan based on Laura’s favorite styles and images.
Laura also used social media to help her find other vendors, such as simpletux.com, which allowed McLean’s groomsmen who lived around the country to simply rent their tux online, have it shipped to their doorstep and conveniently mail it back when the wedding was over. “It was a very helpful way to accommodate our friends who don’t live nearby,” adds Laura.
Groomsmen and bridesmaids were aplenty, 12 and 11 respectively. Finding a dress to please 11 bridesmaids is an easy task for no one. To that end, Laura chose a dark purple Joanna August design that came in many different styles, allowing the bridesmaids to choose what fit them best. The groomsmen were classically clad in white dinner jackets. Laura’s dress decision was an easy one — a stunning Christos Irina gown from Bridals By Lori in Atlanta, Ga. “I immediately knew I wanted that dress,” says Laura. “It was very simple. I didn’t want anything over the top, and I wanted to be comfortable.”
Laura also wanted a muted, neutral color scheme for her wedding, as the real backdrop would be the lovely outdoor setting of Litchfield Plantation. She was careful to steer away from bold colors, instead, using neutrals with a few metallics and the occasional injection of a soft lavender. All linens were white, and some were textured to add interest.
Family is extremely important to both Laura and McLean — so much so that when asked when he really knew he wanted to marry Laura, McLean said, “When I met her family.” So it’s no surprise that Laura’s parents were right by her side during the planning of the wedding. “Laura knew what she wanted, but I was right there, and she would bounce ideas off of me and send me pictures,” says Donna Oliphant, Laura’s mother. “We were very supportive of her and her ideas. But my husband, Simms Oliphant, was sure to stay the controller of the budget!”
As any mother would be when planning an outside wedding, one eye was always on the weather radar as the day approached. The days leading up to the wedding had been wet … very wet. And there was a one hundred percent chance of rain for Laura and McLean’s special day. However, no detail was overlooked in preparation for a rainy day. The reception area was tented with a classic clear tent to have the ability to up-light the Spanish moss, as was the area where the ceremony was to be held. “The tented ceremony gave a beautiful chapel effect,” says Donna.
The altar featured a cross covered in flowers, while the row of oak trees swathed with Spanish moss underscored the rich history and sheer natural beauty of the setting. “We prayed for beautiful weather,” says Donna. Those prayers were answered. Once everyone arrived at the wedding, the soft rain had stopped and almost immediately after Laura and McLean said their vows, the sun came out. “By the time we got to the reception, it was blue skies,” adds Donna. “It was one of those fresh, clean kind of nights!”
The reception was held behind the plantation on the marsh — a serene setting seemingly made for this casual couple. And just as Laura wanted, the reception was beautifully understated, serving as a warm complement to the splendid plantation grounds.
Laura was sure to include special family elements throughout the ceremony. Lace from her mother’s veil was in her bouquet, as was some of the beading from McLean’s grandmother’s hand-made wedding dress. Vintage pictures of their late grandparents were displayed on a table in the reception area, while photos of Laura and McLean’s parents flanked the beach-themed art book that guests could sign. Laura also wore a blue stoned ring that once belonged to McLean’s grandmother. Laura presented the parents with embroidered handkerchiefs along with a personal note. And she was sure not to forget her dogs, which were there for the getting ready process and were included in family pictures — donning their flower collars. Laura and McLean also added fun elements for the guests, including beach-themed hats and sunglasses, ensuring the dance floor was a joyful, entertaining place to be!
“There was a lot of love. I’m very blessed with my son-in-law and his family,” says Donna. “It was a happy day, a family day. And in that perfect location, it just put us in a good mood. There is just something about that setting. It takes your breath away.”
But as with any perfect day, it was over too soon. “I tried to make the most of every moment, and McLean and I were sure to steal a few moments alone, but before I knew it, it was time for the send away,” says Laura.
And for the 240 guests attending this wedding, there was no doubt that they were sending this couple away to a life full of love and good memories — whether in a tux and a gown, or sweats and a T-shirt.