A Polished Wedding at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Charleston, South Carolina

With nearly 400 guests in tow, Caroline Smith (27 and a labor and delivery nurse) and Gil Smith (29 and a commodities trader) celebrated their nuptial

With nearly 400 guests in tow, Caroline Smith (27 and a labor and delivery nurse) and Gil Smith (29 and a commodities trader) celebrated their nuptials with a simply chic destination wedding at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Charleston, South Carolina, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The black-tie affair was inspired by the bride’s family vacations to Kiawah. “My family has been vacationing in Kiawah for 28 years, and some of my fondest memories from growing up are rooted in the Low Country of South Carolina,” Caroline says. “We would always have the best time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.” The venue was an easy “yes” for the groom, who had also vacationed on Carolina’s beaches. “I like things simple and clean looking but elegant in feel,” Caroline says. “I didn’t want to take away from the view and scenery, so I allowed the ocean, dunes and seagrass to serve as my backdrop during the ceremony.” The bride and groom let nature shine by embellishing their ceremony site with minimal decor—classic white chairs and wooden planters brimming with lush white florals and greenery. During the ceremony a five-string quartet played classical music, and a bagpiper stepped in for the processional and recessional. A custom canopy constructed using posts, romantic string lights and bronze lanterns led guests from the ceremony to the tented reception for cocktail hour, where a four-sided barn adorned with potted trees and lush floral arrangements awaited guests. “We also used lots of string lights in the clear-top tent and large trees to add interest and height and really make the tent feel like a room of its own,” Caroline says. “The entire tent was floored with beautiful pine flooring.” A clear-top tent gave guests a view of the starry-night sky. Caroline and Gil had their first dance as newlyweds to “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love” by Barry White, and then Atlanta Rhythm and Groove kicked off a dance party that included a Michael Jackson dance-off. “We also sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to my dad, who turned 60 two days after the wedding,” says Caroline, who presented her dad a key lime pie and thanked him for the wedding. The party also included a scotch and popcorn bar in lieu of a groom’s cake, along with late-night chicken sandwiches delivered by the Chick-fil-A cow, which joined the dance party. After a celebratory exit where the newlyweds were showered in rose petals, they were whisked away in a golf cart decked out in a “just married” sign. —Marissa Hermanson

The couple’s classic invitation suite took inspiration from Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s 100-year-old oak trees.
“I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and strongly hinted to Gil that he get some guidance from my best friend,” Caroline says of her diamond solitaire ring. “He took the hint and picked out a beautiful engagement ring for me.”
The couple’s welcome bags included an array of Southern goodies: airplane bottles of Firefly sweet tea vodka, lemonade and an array of sweet treats.
Caroline and Gil exchanged vows at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Charleston, South Carolina, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. “I didn’t want to take away from the view and scenery, so I let the ocean, dunes and seagrass serve as my backdrop during the ceremony,” Caroline says. Large wooden boxes filled with white blooms and greenery were placed at the end of each aisle.
During the couple’s ceremony, a five-piece string quartet played classical music, while a bagpiper serenaded guests during the processional and recessional.
Gil’s 14 groomsmen sported classic black tuxedos, and as a gift, the groom gave them matching Kiawah Island cuff links embellished with an oak tree to wear for the nuptials.
Caroline’s lucky 13 bridesmaids donned high-neck Natalie Deayala gowns in dove gray to match the white florals and greenery. “When picking out the dress, I knew I wanted something simple and not too formal, since it was an outdoor wedding,” Caroline says.
Caroline carried a bouquet of white hydrangeas, ranunculus and garden roses accented with an array of lush greenery.
On her wedding day, Caroline donned a silk Le Sposa di Gio gown that she customized by adding an illusion neckline. “My dress was simple but had an understated elegance to it and seemed to fit in perfectly with the simple and natural beach setting,” she says. Caroline finished her polished bridal look with comfortable yet chic Kate Spade wedges and diamond stud earrings. Gil sported a custom black Monck Mason Clothiers tuxedo, which he accessorized with a white ranunculus bloom, and after the ceremony he slipped on a pair of black velvet Del Toro slippers.
Caroline and Gil’s four-sided bar was strategically placed in the middle of their clear-top tent. The watering hole was gussied up with potted trees, lush floral arrangements, string lights, lanterns and wooden cross-back barstools.
Atlanta Rhythm and Groove “knocked it out of the park,” Caroline says. “The second they started playing, everyone flooded the dance floor and never stopped dancing all night.” The group, which performed a mix of oldies and current hits, invited guests onstage for a Michael Jackson dance-off, which got the crowd excited.
“My absolute favorite meal on the entire Island is the crispy shrimp appetizer served at the Ocean Course,” says Caroline. “Every time I go to Kiawah I have to eat at The Ocean Course so I can order the shrimp. It was the one food item I insisted on us having at the wedding. And it was a hit during cocktail hour!”
“I would have to say the sushi and macaroni and cheese bar were the two biggest hits,” says Caroline. “We served an assortment of sushi and nigiri rolls — the ingredients were so fresh.”
A custom canopy constructed using posts, romantic string lights and bronze lanterns led guests from the ceremony to the tented reception for cocktail hour.  “We also used lots and lots of string lights in the clear top tent as well as large trees to add interest and height and really make the tent feel like a room of its own,” says Caroline. “The entire tent was floored with beautiful pine flooring.” Caroline and Gil brought the outdoors in by adding potted trees and lush floral arrangements, while the clear-top tent gave guests a view of the starry-night sky.
“My mom and I say that we are cake snobs,” says Caroline. “We love cream cheese icing so we were able to find a bakery that made an Italian cream cake with cream cheese icing. It was delicious!”
Caroline and Gil, both fans of Chick-fil-A, served chicken sandwiches as a late-night snack and had Chick-fil-A show up to deliver the tasty treats and join the dance party.
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After a grand exit where they were showered in rose petals, Caroline and Gil departed in a golf cart that was decorated with a “just married” sign.