South of the peninsula, Charleston’s historic district sits quietly unfazed by the passing of time. Wander off the bustling streets and you’ll find stately homes, meticulously tended gardens and ornate architecture that delivers you to a storybook world. Hilary and Michael’s love is nothing short of storybook magic, so the old-world courtyard and romantic pink walls of the Parsonage fit the bill for their fairytale garden wedding. Serenaded in the courtyard by the classic sound of a string quartet, and tickled Parsonage pink by all the personalized touches woven into their wedding day, this couple and their eleven guests shared a magical evening they will treasure for the rest of their lives.
Unlike most historic homes that showcase stoic portraits and antiques, the Parsonage is refreshed with vibrant greenery, pastel furnishings and luxe decor. Admiring the lavish interior, we climbed the wooden staircase to find Hilary, her mom and her two bridesmaids enjoying the sunlit bridal suite. After months of tailoring and envisioning, Hilary was ecstatic to don her custom-made gown by Emily Kotarski Bridal. Inspired by the fairytale garden theme, the corset bodice was adorned with textured floral appliques that spilled out into an elegant tulle train. Hilary looked angelic standing under the white light pouring in through the tall windows, illuminating the delicate baby’s breath florals blooming from her perfectly styled half updo. Hilary’s mother, in a beautiful off-the-shoulder blue and gold dress, held her daughter’s hands, taking notice of the pearl earrings that she wore on her wedding day years ago.
The ladies met Hilary’s father downstairs for a first look on the pink piazza. Standing proud and resolute in his military attire, his heart quickly melted when he saw Hilary. Graciously thanking her parents for showing her such a fine example of love, she gifted her mom a beaded clutch printed with a picture of the two of them, and her father a handkerchief embroidered with a personalized message. They gifted Hilary a pearl and gold ribbon pin made in the English town where they married, and pinned it to the inside of her dress to symbolize her “something blue.” Hilary’s stunning bouquet sprawling with green Italian ruscus, pastel ranunculus and blue tweedia, held the gold cross her mother wore on her wedding day and the corsage pin Hilary wore as a baby at her parent’s wedding. Tying the past and present together, every personalized touch illustrated the timeless love shared by their family.
Upstairs, Michael was preparing for his first touch with his bride. Looking sharp in his black tux with a black Brackish bowtie, he relaxed on the chase lounge, sharing a laugh with his brother before departing downstairs. On the quiet piazza, Michael stood overlooking the courtyard, amazed that he would soon be marrying Hilary on the same street his parents married 40 years prior. Laughing at the heightened anticipation, he grabbed Hilary’s hand as she brushed up against him. Standing back to back, they read their handwritten letters and exchanged gifts. Shuffling Michael off the porch without stealing a glance, Hilary gathered with her family and bridesmaids for some portraits. On the narrow pink porch exalted with white Roman columns, black shutters and vibrant ferns, Hilary and her dusty blue bridesmaids were the picture of pastel Charleston charm that folks swoon over.
In the enchanted garden, an aged fountain trickled delicate drops of water by a towering brick wall overgrown with green ivy. The floral arbor bloomed tall with peach garden roses, anchored by lush green hydrangeas with watermelon brush strokes. The bright sound of Palmetto Strings’ quartet floated throughout the courtyard, and the procession made its way to the front. Stepping through the trellis wrapped in romantic florals, Michael walked confidently down the path of blooming pastels to the arbor. Grinning ear to ear, he watched his beautiful bride with her father at her side, walk towards him. Relishing in the magical garden ambiance they had hoped for, the two read their vows and a poem by George Eliot entitled “To Be One With Each Other.” In the peaceful company of their eleven closest loved ones, they vowed their hearts to one another and shared their first kiss at Mr. and Mrs. Onufer.
The joyous wedding party sat back on the piazza, enjoying the cool October air while sipping cocktails served in pink coupes. We took our time strolling about taking newlywed portraits, making the most of what the charming Parsonage had to offer. Taking Hilary’s hand, Michael led his wife into the courtyard for a first dance. With their families admiring the scene from the porch, the two shared an intimate moment to Brett Young’s “Dance With You.” Michael twirled and dipped Hilary as her luminous skirt swept at the golden October leaves at her feet. In honor of her favorite song, Michael’s mom joined him for a first dance to “Build Me Up Buttercup.” In her beaded blue gown, she laughed and sang while her son twirled her around. Hilary had always wanted to share a first dance with her mom, so much to her mother’s surprise, Hilary invited her up for Lee Ann Womack’s song “I Hope You Dance.”
In the brick runway enclosed by the wrought iron gate, the candlelit dining table flickered with magic and perfection. Sky-blue velvet chairs flanked the immaculate tablescape adorned with blue motif plates, gold cutlery and iridescent blue glassware. Peach roses and white ranunculus spilled out from the opulent vases blooming down the center. Surrounded by lush greenery, the couple and their guests took their seats in the vibrant sanctuary. They dined on oysters Rockefeller, fried green tomatoes and pan-seared scallops. With the glowing sound of the string quartet in the background, they savored every bite and every moment. They took their time recalling old memories and spoke of the happy ones to come. After toasts, the families gathered inside the cozy home to watch the couple cut their two-tiered dusty blue almond cake with pastel petals. The couple shared a toast with their new champagne glasses (a wedding gift from Hilary’s parents) and invited everyone outside to dance in the courtyard.
Hilary and her father kicked off the dance party with their father-daughter dance. Soon after, her grandmother, her bridesmaids and all family members were hit with a dancing fever. They laughed at one another’s moves, appreciating the remarkable simplicity and beauty of the moment. The couple kissed their loved ones goodbye and thanked them for a perfect evening. Hilary and Michael climbed into the back of a vintage white convertible and rode off into the night, their hearts overflowing with their storybook kind of love.
Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Onufer. You have so many magical days ahead of you!
Photography: Kai & Tim; Kailee DiMeglio Photography
Venue: The Parsonage
Wedding Planner: Carter’s Event Co.
Hair & Makeup: Pampered & Pretty
Florist: Carter’s Event Co.
Officiant: Custom Vows by Casey
Ceremony Music: Palmetto Strings
Transportation: Lowcountry Valet
Caterer: Rosemary & Rye
Cake: Beanie Bakes
Wedding Dress: Emily Kotarski
Invitation Suite/Paper Goods: Ivy and Linen Design
Rentals: Curated Events