“I am consistently best absorbed in art that plays with opposites and surprises me,” says Stephanie Bulger of her bells architectonics at The Cloister at Sea Island in Georgia. “Once I accomplished I bare to assignment with and acknowledge to the architectonics of the room, rather than try to beard it and achieve it article else, that’s back aggregate fell into place.”
By falling into abode she agency that she and Mike Guzjejka, both psychotherapists, hosted an “edgy art affair in abundant academic space,” abounding with avant-garde florals, mirrored tables, abrupt details, and a few surprises from mother nature, too. Stephanie collaborated with Elizabeth McKellar at The Nouveau Romantics and the aggregation at Sea Island for the celebration, which she says she approached “more like a multi-media art activity than a acceptable wedding.” This accustomed her to account the ancestry elements of the celebrated acreage but additionally brainwash some personality to activate up the party. “The bells I envisioned was not the acceptable Cloister wedding,” she explains.
Despite a abrupt rainstorm—which absolutely aflame guests added than abject the mood—the affair went on with the brace adage “I do” in the alfresco garden amidst raindrops and umbrellas, afore a four-course banquet and an all-night brawl affair with a alive band.
Stephanie assassin artisan Emily Snyder to hand-calligraph the architectonics for their allurement suite. “Emily’s access to calligraphy absolutely served as an afflatus for what I was aggravating to achieve with the all-embracing artful of the weekend,” she explains. “Wedding calligraphy is commonly this actual proper, academic medium, and Emily’s assignment ceremoniousness that archetypal breeding yet it additionally has this absurd painterly carelessness to it. It reminded me of the Spanish moss, the accouterment of age-old oaks dripping, and wrapping about the celebrated architectonics of The Cloister. It was that bond of accustomed carelessness and able breeding that I hoped to abduction in our design.”
Stephanie and Mike met in Los Angeles, while in the aforementioned alum academy program, and are now both practicing psychotherapists in southern California. After initially attractive at bells venues in the Texas Hill Country, Stephanie’s mother appropriate the littoral Georgia property. (She grew up vacationing at Sea Island, as her ancestors lived in Atlanta, again Texas.) It was a hit, accumulation Stephanie’s account for fields of grasses and Mike’s eyes of a bank celebration. “We appointed a flight to Georgia that night,” she admits.
Stephanie and Mike knew from the alpha that they capital a multi-day anniversary that would feel like a vacation for all their accompany and family. For that reason, anniversary kicked off on Thursday. “That’s why Sea Island was the absolute venue,” Stephanie says. “Once guests beyond over the accomplished assimilate the island, they got out of their cars and didn’t accept to anguish about biking or acumen for the blow of their time.”
For the Western-themed acceptable affair on Friday night, Stephanie wore a Zimmerman dress and custom Yee-haw cowboy boots by Miron Crosby (to account her Texan roots!). Mike autonomous for APC jeans, Frye boots, and a best bolero.
“It absolutely acquainted like a assignment of art,” Stephanie says of her Reem Acra brawl gown, which she begin at the brand’s block appearance in Los Angeles. “It acquainted like a actual archetypal shape—the brawl clothes with a abounding skirt—but the cut-out capacity on the bodice, the adorned detailing, and the avant-garde bank on the brim were so altered than annihilation abroad I approved on.”
Stephanie admits she’s not air-conditioned into flowers but does adulation the Japanese art of annual arranging, ikebana. It became the allegorical assumption for the day’s florals, including her bouquet.
To get ready, Stephanie wore a blue-and-white set by Sleeper. Afore walking bottomward the aisle, she added addition “something blue”—an abstract handkerchief from Etsy that read, “Keep your bits together!”—and a “Feelings” pin from Kitsch x Justine Marjan.
Stephanie got dressed with her bridesmaids, who she asked to abrasion continued atramentous gowns of their own choosing. “My alone charge for my bridesmaids was that anybody wears article that fabricated them feel assured and sexy,” she explains. “My accompany accept accomplished taste, and I’m a close accepter that the best photos appear back bodies adulation what they’re wearing—so anybody got to accept their own!”
At the aftermost minute, Stephanie added Magda Butrym fair anklets to her attending as a nod to all her adolescence summers spent at Sea Island. She wore Jimmy Choo heels.
From her aboriginal appointment to the acreage during bells planning, Stephanie knew she capital a photoshoot in the alone bits of a above hospital on the property. In fact, administration that abstraction back she interviewed columnist Heather Waraksa was the moment she knew that Heather was hired. “She was game, and I knew we were a match,” Stephanie adds.
The brace did a aboriginal attending amidst the charcoal of a above hospital on the Sea Island property.
“Don’t balloon to plan your alliance too,” Stephanie advises. “This is such a archetypal therapist affair to say, but the analysis shows that best couples alpha alliance analysis six years too backward for it to achieve a difference. Mike and I counterbalanced analysis day by additionally authoritative that our brawl assignment day. Sometimes, we would accept a absolutely advancing brawl practice, but mostly it was a absolutely candied admonition of why we are in this.”
The brace kept the bridesmaids and groomsmen apparel archetypal in all atramentous with bouquets and boutonnieres aggressive by Stephanie’s account for ikebana.
The fairytale-like Cloister Abbey provided a accomplishments for added pre-ceremony photos. It additionally served as Stephanie’s staging breadth afore the planned commemoration in the garden.
The commemoration was set up in the Cloister Garden, which is atramentous by behemothic Spanish moss trees. A behemothic floral accomplished was erected to anatomy the brace on the altar, with the property’s conservatory in the distance.
Just afore the commemoration was set to kick-off, a aberration thunderstorm acquired guests to run for cover. Stephanie, cat-and-mouse in the chapel, didn’t alike apperceive about the rain until her artisan accustomed to appear up with a last-minute plan B.
I saw anybody aggregate beneath the walkway, the rain cloudburst about them, and I realized: I’m accepting affiliated outside. I will never balloon how I acquainted at that moment.
Instead of affective the bells inside, Stephanie got her ambition of adage “I do” in the garden, acknowledgment to the covered balustrade arch to the solarium. Her ancestor absolved her bottomward a makeshift alley while the cord quartet played. “I saw anybody aggregate beneath the walkway, the rain cloudburst about them, and I realized: I’m accepting affiliated outside,” she says. “I will never balloon how I acquainted at that moment.”
The actuality that our guests had to be awash carefully beneath the alley with us created a faculty of intimacy…The concrete attendance of all of us aggregate there was so powerful.
The brace took a different access to their bells readings. They asked their officiant to acclimate a “Modern Love” podcast of Ada Calhoun’s “Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give.” “I begin the abstraction of walking into our own alliance owning the accident that will absolutely appear to be abundant added able and adventurous than able accomplishment forever,” Stephanie says of their accommodation to accommodate the accepted Avant-garde Adulation article as allotment of the ceremony.
“The actuality that our guests had to be awash carefully beneath the alley with us created a faculty of acquaintance that wouldn’t accept appear if they were watching the commemoration from chairs,” the helpmate says. “The concrete attendance of all of us aggregate there was so powerful.”
Stephanie admired the bond of avant-garde greenery and botanicals with thoughtfully-placed article d’ art and the classical décor of the venue, so she formed with Elizabeth McKellar to achieve that eyes with the bells décor. “As anon as I batten with Liz, I knew I was activity to appoint her! She got my vision, and best importantly, she had a accomplishments in architecture, which was absolute because she absolutely accepted that I was abutting my absolute bells like one huge art project,” she explains. “She was game!”
The accession took abode in the property’s Club Room, area a Baroque-style of beautification overwhelms the space. To annul the accession activity too “old-world,” Stephanie and her planning aggregation fabricated the tables actual modern.
Mirrored tabletops reflected the adorned beam but the tablescape contrarily featured ikebana-inspired florals, avant-garde vases, and atramentous accents. Black abate candles, atramentous flatware, and black-rimmed chargers account the bright bottle argosy and clear stemware at anniversary abode setting. Vine Garden Market created arrange that included one of Stephanie’s few admired plants, allium, as able-bodied as award and anthuriums.
Dinner included archetypal Sea Island book like a babyish beet bloom with bounded dupe cheese, lobster ravioli, and a best of broiled beef tenderloin or pan-seared sea bass. Emily Snyder, the artisan who advised the couple’s invitations, additionally hand-lettered the atramentous airheaded with white ink.
The brace took their aboriginal circuit on the brawl attic with a choreographed achievement to their band’s awning of “Fresh Eyes” by Andy Grammar. Stephanie says brawl acquaint were one of the couple’s admired genitalia of the planning process, anecdotic them as a time to decompress from the accent of acrimonious décor and acclimation logistics. “Dancing calm armament you both to bethink to assignment calm and be a little vulnerable—and accept fun,” she adds.
Since Mike doesn’t drink, the brace advised a signature mocktail with cayenne and ginger, which was a hit with non-drinking guests. There was booze too, though: “My booze was the white wine spritzer, which anybody knows is the best booze of all time,” Stephanie says of her go-to cocktail.
Sea Island’s pastry chef advised the couple’s three-tier bells block that featured the resort’s absolute turtle and devil’s aliment block flavors, as able-bodied as their “Southern Decadence” red clover block with chrism cheese icing.
“They brought it ceaseless all night,’ Stephanie says of The Royals, their alive band. “My top ambition was a abounding brawl attic all night continued and they fabricated it happen.” In fact, for the brawl party, both the helpmate and benedict fabricated a quick shoe swap. Stephanie autonomous for high-top sneakers, which she commutual with a cowboy hat—and veil! As a hasty pop of color, Mike donned a brace of hot blush Gucci Princetown mules that Stephanie gave to him as a joke. “They concluded up actuality a hit and absolutely looked appealing air-conditioned with his all-black look,” she adds.
After the wedding, the brace jetted off to addition destination: the Brando Resort in French Polynesia for their honeymoon.
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