A Bright Caribbean-Influenced Lowcountry Wedding at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina

While vacationing with friends in the Virgin Islands, Lesley Grabias (35 and a special-events coordinator for the U.S. Capitol) met David Hail (42 and

While vacationing with friends in the Virgin Islands, Lesley Grabias (35 and a special-events coordinator for the U.S. Capitol) met David Hail (42 and the director of sales and marketing for the Country Club of Fairfax) on a tropical golf course. The two instantly knew that they had found much more than just a good golf companion, and a long-distance relationship ensued. Lesley and David threw a Caribbean-inspired Lowcountry wedding at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina, with pops of bright colors, tropical steel-drum music and an oyster roast. The ceremony, cocktail hour and reception all took place on the waterfront, and as a special tribute to her Irish heritage, Lesley carried on the family tradition of having an Irish blessing read before the vows were exchanged. Because of their shared ties to South Carolina and the Caribbean, the couple wanted to make sure their menu and aesthetic was reflective. The pair offered a build-your-own-biscuit bar, with Southern classics such as pulled pork, pimento cheese and coleslaw. Guests sipped on summery rum punches and Latin lemonades as they lounged in casual beach hammocks and Adirondack chairs. Lesley was an elegant beauty in a strapless trumpet-style Amsale dress with a dramatic bow-like detail in the back. “I envisioned a timeless and classic look for my wedding. I am not a fan of lace or beading on dresses,” she says. But her favorite part of her look was a custom-made diamond necklace that David had surprised her with on the morning of their big day. It included stones from all the important women in his life: his mother, grandmothers and aunts. Juliette Cheatham

As an event planner, Lesley knew how important the stationery was to set the tone for the wedding. Fun, bold patterns were used for the liners and borders following the wedding's turquoise and coral color scheme.
In perfect Lowcountry style, Lesley and David arrived via boat to the waterfront property at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, South Carolina, where their oyster-roast reception was held. “We were greeted by all our friends and family. To my surprise, David had the band playing one of our favorite Johnny Cash songs upon our entrance,” Lesley says.
Jack Johnson’s beachy feel and sentimental lyrics made the perfect first-dance song for the newlyweds. “The words and the casual melody are really emblematic of the islands, so it was the perfect choice for our first dance as husband and wife. We truly are better together.”
The ceremony was held at the quaint waterside chapel on the May River. White rose petals lined the aisles, and simple vases of hydrangeas were placed at the end of the pews.
“David and I have strong ties to the Caribbean, since that is where we met, and to the Lowcountry, since that is where our families reside,” Lesley says. The pair wanted to bring out the essence of the islands and South Carolina with their venue, entertainment, food and decor.
To fit the rustic location of Lesley and David’s Lowcountry oyster roast, burlap linens with an embroidered bright coral and pink chain pattern were draped over picnic tables. Colorful florals in turquoise vases decorate and guests sipped out of starfish- and coral-etched stemware.
The groom and groomsmen wore seersucker pants, navy sport coats and Vineyard Vines ties with a Palmetto tree design. “David also wore his wedding gift from me, a Tag Heuer watch engraved with our initials and wedding date,” Lesley says.
The bridal bouquet was a simple yet elegant full bunch of white peonies. The bridesmaids carried bright bouquets of ranunculus, hydrangeas, roses and peonies.
“I love bright colors and bold patterns," Lesley says. "I think it really sets the tone for a fun celebration. I wanted my guests to immediately recognize they were in for a fabulous time.” Lesley chose turquoise and coral to decorate the invitations, linens, signs, dresses, cake, flowers and confetti.
Lesley and David gave their guests strawberry and vanilla macarons in turquoise and coral. They were packaged in a clear container with a "thank you" sticker that mimicked the design on their wedding invitations.
Instead of a traditional-looking layer cake, the couple went for a bold patterned cake using turquoise fondant. White sugar peonies recalling Lesley’s bridal bouquet were placed on top.