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Rags to Riches

Photos By

Photos By: 
Susan Dean Photography
A local design pro and organization expert turns a cherished waterfront dive into her very own dream wedding venue

Amelia Shields & Phil Cohen
May 2, 2015
Bowens Island Restaurant


“I knew a lot of work would be involved with this location,” says Amelia Shields of Simplify & Style in what’s an understatement even for polite Charleston. The newlywed, who married Phil Cohen May 2, 2015 at Bowens Island Restaurant, says she wasn’t daunted by the state of the famed Folly Beach dive. “I’ve learned that when you get down to the nitty gritty and do something yourself, that’s what becomes all the more special.” With that attitude of gratitude (and $9,000) she enlisted talented friends like goldsmith Ann Ladson (the altar maker) and fashion designer-slash-artist Adrienne Antonson (the linen specialist and invitation guru), plus dedicated family. Four months later, she and Phil wed and celebrated with 65 guests in ebullient style. By night’s end, though, she didn’t just depart committed to her man. “I’ll be forever bonded to Bowens, now, too!” she laughs.


Master the Makeover!

Here's a little insight into how Amelia morphed the dockhouse from a well-loved dump (c'mon, that's always been part of the charm) into a divine spot for her ceremony and reception. Take a peek, as there are takeaway ideas aplenty. 


❶ Cover Up: The exterior entry needed a softening and a facelift, but draping the entire area was cost prohibitive. Solution? Drape a little, paint the rest.
❷ Drop It: Painter drop cloths covered rental tables while striped ticking became a runner.
❸ Be Homey: Personal and borrowed décor accentuated the sign-in table and created a memorial to past familial weddings.
❹ Repurpose and Reuse: Tablecloth scraps were cut into napkins first used at the reception and now at the couple’s home.


Vendor List:

Wedding design, décor, florals, ring box: Amelia Shields, Simplify & Style,

Venue: Bowen’s Island Restaurant, (843) 795-2757

Photography: Susan Dean Photography,

Chairs, plates, flatware: Snyder Events,

Catering: Rodney Scott’s BBQ (; Whole Foods Market (

Cake: Bride’s mother

Letterpress: Sas-E Ink,

Stationery design: Adrienne Antonson,

Altar installation: Ann Ladson,

Bride’s gown: family heirloom altered by Jean’s Bridal,

Beauty: (hair) Patrick Navarro (; (makeup) Madison Hughes Makeup (

Bridesmaid’s jewelry: Charleston Rice Beads, Candy Shop Vintage,

Groom’s Attire: J.Crew,