Nicole & Sean's vintage-inspired, handmade, casual southern wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015
Cutting the cake
Photos by Shannon Michele

The offbeat bride: Nicole, Graphic Designer

Her offbeat partner: Sean, Sequential Artist (Comic Books and Illustration)

Location & date of wedding: Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC (City where the bride grew up!) –- April 18, 2009

Table card

What made our wedding offbeat: I handmade all of our invites and decorations, which included the place cards, table markers, cupcake markers, table decorations, programs, guestbook, and over 1,000 origami stars. We went for loads of cupcakes instead of one large cake, because I love to bake, and cupcakes are my specialty. People loved having six flavors to choose from!

Link and Tetra
Bridesmaids bouquets
My Bouquet

We worked our nerd-ism in a bit by including some Harry Potter elements and a Legend of Zelda cake topper. For Harry Potter I had a silver badger charm on my bouquet (representing Hufflepuff), and we also had a "Hogwarts Toilet Seat" left on our gift table. We were fielding questions about that one all through the reception.

Mocha cupcakes

Our wedding reading was from Neil Gaiman's Stardust (read by my best online friend who traveled up for the wedding), and we did a bread breaking ceremony, which we shared with family and friends. The bread was from my favorite local baker, and was sweetened with honey butter I made from local organic honey.

Jessica and Nikki

Everyone walked up the aisle to my favorite cello pieces (including one by a fave local indie artist, Ward Williams). We walked back down to "I've Just Seen A Face" from Across the Universe. We had a female officiant (my college youth minister!), and wrote our own vows. We really focused on equality, which we strive for in our relationship. I proposed to him a year and a half ago! Ring and all. 🙂

McBee House

Our biggest challenge: I had a lot of frustration trying to find a dress that I didn't feel ridiculous in! So much was over the top, and I hated the idea of dropping so much money. We shopped around and found a decently priced dress, which I loved, and it turned out to be a test dress, so it's pretty rare! Unfortunately, we learned after purchasing it, that it couldn't be bustled, so I wore a party dress to the reception, for the exit, and for our portraits. I was so relieved to get out of the long dress and be able to walk again, so it worked out!


Working out the "giving away" was a problem, as I dislike the ideas behind it, but we were able to work something out in which both sets of parents had a bit to say during this part. They gave us their blessing, rather than passing us like property.

Somehow no one in the planning noticed that we'd accidentally ordered nothing but meat for lunch! (It was a BBQ.) No sides! Thank god we'd ordered separate food for the vegetarians. It was meatfest '09! Lots of BBQ and sweet tea to go around though!

Table card

My favorite moment: We got caught in a huge line at the entrance to the plantation on the way to the wedding. There were two lines, but ours had come to a dead stop and I was late! I looked over at the other line and saw some of our friends from college, so I ran out of the car I was in and knocked on their window until they let me in. They were so excited to take me to the wedding (They kept saying "We got the bride!"). It was so funny. It also turned a stressful moment into a fun memory! They got me to the dressing room really quickly!

Watching Sean choke up over his vows was also such a precious moment to me. He's not always the wordiest guy, so I was a little worried with how they'd turn out, but he blew me away. It was so sweet and touching.

The kiss

I was also thrilled to have my friend Jessica there. We're both so broke, but she made the trip from Texas anyway. We've been best friends via the Internet since 2004, and the wedding was only the second time we've met up! She did our reading and was wonderful.

My advice for offbeat brides: Have fun with it. It's so easy to get caught up in the stress, but ignore the convention, deviate from the plan, and enjoy yourself. At the end of the day you're still married.

Look out!

Get fun photos. Forget the posed stifled stuff. Our favorites were definitely the ones where everyone was goofing off. And make sure you get the photos. When the wedding is over things get thrown out, the flowers die, people go home, but the photos and video are the one thing (aside from your marriage!) that lasts! =)

Star Jars

Finally, involve people you love. We had friends helping out with photography and doing readings. I used my favorite local baker for the cake, and it meant so much more to know someone I chat with regularly made it with me in mind. We also met up with all of our guest-friends for pizza the evening of the wedding. It all goes by so fast, so try to make sure and make time to be with the people who've come so far to see you. We were so glad we did. And stick to what means a lot to you, even if others don't see it. Growing up in Charleston I was always in love with its rich/dark history. To others- pretty! To me, history and intrigue.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. You had me at Neil Gaiman.

    Seriously, reading from Stardust is maybe the most romantic thing I've heard as far as wedding readings go. That book is the best fairy tale ever.

    Hooray geek love.

    • We slightly edited a passage from the movie (though I love the book!) we used it as follows:
      "You know when I said I knew little about love? That wasn't true. I know a lot about love. I've seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate… It made me want to turn away and never look down again. But when I see the way that mankind loves… You could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing, and… What I'm trying to say is… I love you. My heart… It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it's trying to escape because it doesn't belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I'd wish for nothing in exchange – Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine."

  2. I think you are my doppelganger. No really. My name is Nicole also, I'm a designer. My fiance's name is Shawn, he's a comic book writer. We are both huge nerds that love Harry Potter, Stardust and cupcakes.

    Seriously. The similarities are eerie.

    • Hello, doppleganger! Send my regards to Queen Dopplepopolis (Sealab 2010 reference, just in case!). Good luck with your wedding! 😀

  3. I remember reading your lj during all of this! Seriously one of the best weddings I've ever seen. 🙂

    • I helped run a Harry Potter community on LiveJournal for a few years as a prefect, then Head Girl of Hufflepuff. Best house, no contest!

      It's worth noting that the girl who brought the Hogwarts toilet seat and traveled up from TX to do the reading for my wedding was co-prefects with me at one point in said online community. 🙂 The HP fandom: bringing people together, one Hufflepuff at a time.

      • Were there any representatives from any other Houses at this wedding? 😉

        Sounds like you had a blast, and you looked beautiful. Really lovely wedding.

        • Aside from Jessica (also Hufflepuff), I don't think there was anyone who was from the actual community that I was a part of, but everyone's a representative of one house or another, whether they know it or not! XD

          Thank you!

  4. woo-hoo, a wedding in Chuck-town…LOVE IT!! I'm a SC girl too (Fort Mill, SC)!

    I love your wedding!! You both look so happy and the Magnolia Plantation is so beautiful!! Congrats to you both!

  5. Hufflepuff wedding! i love this wedding, everyone looks happy and relaxed, and everything is so beautiful!
    Huzzah Hufflepuff! 😀

  6. Your wedding looks like it was a lot of fun! I loved looking through your pictures! You and your hubby have the cutest smiles. Congrats! :3

    And Hufflepuff Pride, yo~ *fistbump* XD

  7. Gorgeous! The photos just radiate warmth and light and love. I am, however, in lust with all those cupcakes, oh my goodness! That dress looks like a rare find, too. Congratulations, and thank you for sharing your day with us. It's a great encouragement to see such beautiful, *real* weddings! 🙂

    • The cupcakes were amazing, and we had a lot left over! The leftovers went to the pizza party we had with out of town friends that same night.

      The dress really was a lucky find, too. I had tried on a lot of dresses at the store, and was fed up because I didn't like ANY of them, and thought I looked ridiculous in most (plus the salesgirl kept trying to push veils on me, which I didn't want). I was on my way out the door of the shop when I saw my dress on display in the back and went "WHAT?! Go back! Go back! That wasn't in the catalogue!" Apparently they only sold them at 4 out of ALL of the DB stores in the country. Right place, right time! It's funny too, because my mom also has a "almost missed it" wedding dress story. 🙂

      Thank you!

      • I'm having my bridesmaids do DB – alas, I did not have the awesome last-minute dress-in-the-window love-at-first-sight moment. You are a lucky lady!

        If I read correctly from someone else's comment and you are Cleolinda – I'm a huge fan. 🙂

        • Super delayed reply! I am not Cleolinda. 🙂 The other commenter commented to me in the comments section of one of Cleolinda's posts.

          (That's a lot of the word "Comment!")

    • I think I found the idea in the indiebride forums (I sadly didn't discover OB until after my wedding). We got a loaf of bread, fed each other a piece, and then passed baskets of pieces to our guests. The idea was that our marriage should be used not only to nurture each other, but also our love should be used to enrich the lives of those around us.

  8. Gah! I know you! Cleolinda! I was the girl who told you I saw your wedding in the OBB photo pool ages ago and made you falsey excited that you had been featured. Now you are! Yay!

  9. OH. MY. GOD. I am in love with your wedding. I wish I was at all artistically inclined because everything you made is AWWWWSOME!
    We are DIYing a lot (if not all) of the decorations so thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Very cute wedding!

    I am going to be a downer though and I am not trying to bring on drama…sorry. I think its sort of odd to see a white couple enjoying the beginnings of their marriage on a plantation that once was composed of slaves. Despite how gorgeous the plantation is, there are still remnants of the history of slavery there (the cabins where slaves lived, the fields, the buildings that slaves most likely built). This was a place that once was filled with physical abuse, the auctioning of human beings, lynching’s, and rape.
    Yes, maybe slavery happened years ago, but it’s a huge part of our country’s history that should not be overlooked. The remnants of racism still thrive today in our country. The wedding is gorgeous but I don’t know if I would be so keen to do a plantation wedding.

    • Anita, you bring up a really interesting point. On Offbeat Bride we've featured several weddings in locations with potentially disturbing histories — castle dungeons, prisons, and cemeteries come to mind. This is in no way a defense or negation of the atrocity that is America's legacy of slavery, or an attempt to divorce the history of a space from its current uses … but I wonder if for some people, shifting the way a space is used is potentially a form of reclamation. I'd definitely be interested in hearing more about this from brides who've chosen to have their weddings in venues like this.

      An alternate question: in places like Europe, is there any patch of land that HASN'T had an atrocity on it happen at some point during the last 2000 years?

    • Sorry so late! If you're still searching for stands, the small ones are by Wilton and can be purchased all over the place (Michael's, Target, etc). The tall one was rented from the cupcake shop.

  11. Nice photos! the couple looks that they have fun!and the cup cakes are cute… thanks for sharing this post! keep it up!

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