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One of a Kind

Written By

Written By: 
Jacqui Calloway

Photos By

Photos By: 
KT Merry Photography
When a California-born banker and a Minnesota dairy farmer turned fighter pilot trade vows, they make it one for the books

Kat Sanchez & Chip “Powder” Koskiniemi
May 17, 2014
Middleton Place


What’s a “unicorn dress?” According to Kat Sanchez, it’s that elusive wedding gown that’s perfect for you alone, one that nary another soul (or at least anyone at your wedding) has ever seen. Last year, the California native was in New York while cameras for TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress recorded her quest for just such a mythical frock. When she stumbled upon her holy grail (and her on-screen crew approved) Kat knew she wanted to create a wedding to live up to the frothy Mark Zunino number—in other words, she says, she wanted a “unicorn wedding.”

If Kat sounds a little eccentric, supremely stylish, and like a woman who knows how to live large, you’ve got her pegged. And it was just those qualities that attracted Chip “Powder” Koskiniemi to her some five years ago. Back then, both were at an air show in Fort Worth, Texas, where she was visiting her sister and volunteering at a cheesesteak stand, and he, an F/A-18 Marine pilot, was grounded due to high winds. At day’s end, she went to nab a photo with men in uniform, and as fate would have it, Chip was in the group she approached. His Marine call sign patch reading “Powder” caught her eye, sparked a conversation, and led to a phone number swap. Soon she, a banker based in D.C., and he, a Minnesota boy raised on a dairy farm, had a love that endured his two deployments and three-year stint in Beaufort, South Carolina. That head-spinning romance hit a pinnacle on a trip to see Chip’s family in late 2012. The couple had stopped at his favorite Taco Bell, ordered (tacos for him, Crunchwraps for her), and as they settled back into the car, Kat says she realized he was proposing. Yes, she verily groans, fast food is fundamental to their happily-ever-after story.

Flash forward nine months, and everything—the Lowcountry, a few good men, family, Taco Bell, and fireworks—converged into a singular wedding. Kat enlisted the D.C.-based twin sister team of Karson Butler Events and the result: an open-air ceremony on a colonial-era estate; a black-tie reception; and an after-party powered by Crunchwraps. Toss in a pyrotechnic display, and Kat says “operation unicorn wedding” was a home run.

Vendor List:

Baker: Wedding Cakes by Jim Smeal, www.WeddingCakesByJimSmeal.com

Bar & Wine Service: Middleton Place, www.MiddletonPlace.org

Bridal Accessories: (veil) Pnina Tornai, www.PninaTornai.com; (shoes) Christian Dior, www.Dior.com; (reception jewelry) J.Crew, www.JCrew.com; (ceremony jewelry) family heirloom

Bridal Gown: Mark Zunino, www.MarkZunino.com

Bridesmaid Attire: Rent the Runway, www.RentTheRunway.com

Calligrapher: Laura Hooper Calligraphy, www.LHCalligraphy.com

Caterer: Cru Catering, www.CruCatering.com

Ceremony & Reception Location: Middleton Place, www.MiddletonPlace.org

Cinematography:  Josh Gooden Cinematography, www.JoshGoodenCinematography.com

Fireworks: Pyrotecnico, www.Pyrotecnico.com

Florist: Charleston Stems, www.CharlestonStems.com

Hair Stylist: Roberto Alarcon, www.BangSalon.com

Getaway vehicle: Charleston Limos, http://www.charlestonlimo360.com/

Linens: La Tavola, www.LaTavolaLinen.com

Makeup Artist: Studio M and JONNY Cosmetics, www.StudioMCharleston.com

Musicians: (ceremony) bride’s family; (reception) D & M Productions, www.ALowcountryEvent.com

Photographer: KT Merry Photography, www.KTMerry.com

Rentals: (tent, lighting, reception) Snyder, www.SnyderEvents.com; (pews) P.E.W.S., www.RentPews.com; (chairs) EventHaus, www.EventHausRentals.com; (restrooms) Nature’s Calling, www.NaturesCallingInc.com

Stationery & Signage: The Dandelion Patch, www.TheDandelionPatch.com

Wedding Design & Coordination: Karson Butler Events, www.KarsonButlerEvents.com