Our Southern Wedding on the Mississippi Coast

Oct 25, 2012

I always enjoy compiling real wedding features and sharing other couples' stories. Recently, I realized that while I've shared the magazine features our wedding received, I've never shared a personal look at the day. So today {which happens to be our 4th anniversary!}, I thought I'd share the complete story of our coastal Mississippi wedding with you. :)

J&I had been planning on having our wedding in a historical home in a little town outside of Columbus, Ohio, but J had just finished up law school and after passing the Ohio bar, he was offered a job in Biloxi, Miss. After a few preliminary visits, we couldn't help but be mesmerized by the tragic beauty of the Mississippi coastline. It had been three years since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the coast but the scars were still very visible and very tangible - from the house foundations with front stairs leading nowhere to abandoned schools and churches because they were too damaged to use - reminders of Katrina's devastation were all around us. Despite the massive destruction and slow-healing scars, there was a love that felt palpable and a commitment in the people to reclaim their land that was undeniably inspiring.

Painting via Google images.
The first day we visited Biloxi, we had lunch at Mary Mahoney's Old French House in the historic downtown area {The house made it through Katrina mostly - amazingly - unscathed.} As we walked through the charming courtyard, the brick and wrought iron reminded me of the French Quarter in New Orleans. In the middle of the courtyard, there was a beautiful oak tree that we later learned was 2,000 years old. We noticed a sign well above our heads that marked the water line during Katrina and Camille.  It seemed like a little oasis of beauty caught in the midst of recovering tragedy. And over sweet tea and a cup of gumbo, I told J, "This is where I want to marry you."

I grew up in Charleston, SC, and never felt like I had left my Southern roots {despite going on to live in Germany and then Ohio} so it felt perfectly natural to get married somewhere that oozed Southern charm. I love that we incorporated huge glossy magnolia leaves in all of the floral arrangements to emphasize the local foliage. I also made two wreaths out of magnolia leaves for additional decor.

It was so much fun getting ready together with J. No fuss. I wouldn't have it any other way.

My something blue was the beautiful sapphire ring 
that was given to me by my late Great Aunt.

J&I wrote love notes to each other that were supposed to be opened on our wedding day. Unfortunately, we never had the chance to read them because they mysteriously disappeared during our reception. To this day, we don't know what happened to them. But no worries, we've made up for it with many more love notes. :) 

Thank goodness for my Mom. Silly me somehow put my wedding bolero on ... upside down. J is trying to help me in this photo find the little snaps that match up on my dress to keep the bolero in place. Needless to say, we couldn't find them because they couldn't match up ... upside down. My Mom just needed one quick look at me to shake her head and come to the rescue. Major crisis averted.

These salt-water taffy jars started out as an addition to our welcome baskets but ended up being our favors! We placed them on heirloom silver platters and trays.

We had my wedding bolero custom-made by a lovely seamstress in Alabama but all the shimmer and shine of this spectacular piece is due to my talented Mother who literally spent thousands {no joke} of hours hand-beading my crazy gorgeous jacket. Thank you, Mom! You are the best. xoxoxoxo. I really felt like Grace Kelly thanks to the couture-worthy bolero.

There's a tiny gem of a book shop in Biloxi's historic downtown called Spanish Trail Books. They never seemed to have regular hours but, admittedly, that was part of the charm. J&I would drive by on a weekend and if they were open, we'd stop in for an hour or so looking through the quirkiest collections of books - always finding a stack to buy. I loved the stash of vintage postcards kept in the old letter box {above} and our awesome photographers had the idea to do an impromptu shoot inside - luckily, it was open that day!

My husband has a tendency to crack me up ... all the time ... with a single look. :) :)

I carried a bouquet of creamy white hydrangeas mixed with greenery and magnolia leaves. The bouquet was hand-tied with raw silk and we added a locket with a photo of J as a little boy. He had fire-red hair as a little one - wish I had known him then!

I fell in love with the idea of wedding wands after seeing them in Southern Weddings years ago so I went to town creating the wands as well as signage. You can learn how to make your own wands here.

This photo never fails to put a smile on my face. It was right before my Dad walked me down the aisle - don't I just look just terrified?! And I love how my Dad looks like he's kind of enjoying it ... almost to say, "It's a little late to back out now, Sarah." ;)

Luckily, it didn't take long for me to turn that frown upside down. ;)

These moss-covered letters were soooo easy to make and I love how they look in this photo. My mother-in-law took them down after the ceremony and hung them on the backs of J+I's chairs for the reception dinner. It was such a sweet idea!

Semi-group shot
Despite having an intimate wedding {about 40 guests}, I felt so humbled that almost everyone we invited made it to our wedding. None of our guests lived in Mississippi so everyone had to either fly or drive which made it feel incredibly special to be surrounded by so much love on our wedding day in our new town - our new home.

I had fallen in love with this book shortly after we arrived in Biloxi and Jeff's mom kindly surprised me with a copy one day. It's a collection of stunning photography by Ken Murphy of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. And luckily, it had lots of blank pages and tons of white space - perfect for a guest book! It's so nice to go through it every so often and read the sweet notes left by guests along with a visual representation of the magical two years we spent in Mississippi. Its current home is our coffee table. :)

I made it my mission {kind of made it my Mom's mission, too} to collect gobs of milk glass to serve as vases for the floral arrangements. It took a long time and a lot of antiquing to acquire the ~60 compotes and vases but all the hard antique-scouting paid off - I absolutely loved how the hydrangeas looked in the milk glass!

After my Dad gave a warm welcoming toast, J&I surprised everyone with a small toast of our own. We said a few words of gratitude to our respective parents, our new in-laws, each other and to all of our guests for joining us on such a special day in our lives.

I found the silver cakestand at a sweet antique shop in South Carolina while visiting a dear friend and the cake toppers were a retro-themed Barbie & Ken ornament set. :)

So glad our photographers whisked us away from the reception for a few minutes to capture some shots along the coast {which was only a few feet from our wedding venue}. Notice how the pier is missing some important planks? Another haunting reminder of Katrina.

Another favorite moment of the day was the bouquet toss. We had a good friend + old neighbor from Charleston, T, make an announcement that the bouquet toss was about to happen and that everyone - men and women, young and old, should try to catch it simply for good luck. I climbed the wrought-iron spiral stairs and proceeded to "toss" the bouquet right into the 2,000 year old oak tree which was completely in the opposite direction of the crowd. Throwing and catching {and apparently tossing} have never been among my strong suits ... No one could stop laughing. On the second try, J's mom caught the bouquet! :)

As part of the welcome baskets, we placed a few rolls of pennies with a note attached welcoming guests to join us after the wedding at the casino {directly across the street}. :)

Hope you enjoyed our full wedding story!

Want more?
See our wedding feature in Wedding Style Guide.
And on InStyle Weddings.
And on Weddings Unveiled {+ an interview with moi}
And in B Magazine. {just scroll down}
And if you're still hungry for more, click here. ;)

Credits: Venue + Catering: Mary Mahoney's Old French House, Biloxi, Miss. / Portrait Photos: Historic downtown Biloxi / Photography: Look Photography / Florist: Cardinal Flowers, Gulfport, Miss. / Cake: Sweet Stuff, Biloxi, Miss. / Music: String Duo - Delsi and Jeb - of the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra / Chairs: Classic Party Rental, Gulfport, Miss. / Bridal Attire: Dress: Galina / Bolero: Custom-made and hand-beaded by my Mother / Make-up: Miranda from MAC, Biloxi, Miss. / Hair: Splendor Salon, Gulfport, Miss. / Groom's Attire: Brooks Brothers


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