Shannon Parsley & Russell Martin
October 27, 2018 • The Gadsden House
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and love for the Crimson Tide is thicker than water—that’s how the sayings go, right? Sort of? In the case of Shannon Parsley and Russell Martin, both adages (tweaked or not) proved true when the couple faced a long-distance relationship after they graduated from the University of Alabama. While he went to Memphis, Tennessee, for work and she settled back in her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, they stayed connected. “Our ability to still feel the same love and support while hundreds of miles away really convinced us that we could do anything together,” says Shannon. Nearly four years later, Russell invited his fellow wine aficionado to check out Raffaldini Vineyards north of the Queen City. Wandering the fields, they came across the picnic spread he’d orchestrated, which was his cue to drop to one knee, and his photographer’s cue to snap away at the surprise proposal.
From there, Shannon—whose family has vacationed on and off at Wild Dunes Resort on Isle of Palms
through the years—turned her attention southward to downtown Charleston. “I have always thought it was a beautiful place with its historic charm,” she says. “I wanted an elegant venue that had such and was still a blank slate to build upon.” Enter The Gadsden House
. “Historic charm: check,” Shannon says, ticking off how the circa 1798 home met her wish list. “Neutral color palette: check. In Charleston: check. Allowed my guest count: check. Indoor-outdoor vibe: check. Bridal suite on site: check.”
Once they’d booked the towering brick mansion, Sweetgrass Social’s Meredith Tanton
and Toni Reale of Roadside Blooms
got to work setting the stage for a ceremony site that could be flipped into a sit-down reception and dance floor. With circles at the center of the styling—appropriate, considering the shape’s infinite nature and how it harkens wedding rings—they strung up a network of greenery wreaths, fashioned a curving arch of florals for an “altar” focal point, and tucked round-framed table assignments into leafy boughs.
And while smiles ruled what the bride called their “open-concept” reception layout, which facilitated as much mingling and chatting as the affable couple could muster, there were tears, too. “Just before the ceremony began, the wedding party and family gathered,” says Shannon, “and Russell gave a champagne toast. He made it a few sentences in before breaking down, and everyone burst out in tears as a result.” Happy tears, of course.