A Work of Art

A Work of Art | A Charleston bride marries her beau at her childhood home amid family, friends, and 4,000 floating roses

Cate Morse & Hugh Leatherman
May 2, 2015  •  Private Charleston Residence


By the time she turned 10, Charleston native Cate Morse had decided where she would one day wed: at her parents’ 19th century South of Broad manse. “My mother was raised in Nashville, Tennessee, with the notion that you always have your wedding reception at home,” says Cate, “so that was instilled in me.” When her brother’s nuptials were held at the house in 2009, visions of her own future fête there took shape—vividly so.  

The only thing missing from those Big Day daydreams? A groom. All fell into place in 2013, however, after mutual pals introduced her to Hugh Leatherman. “We had plans to go out to dinner,” says Cate of the Raleigh, North Carolina, native, whose family has strong South Carolina ties. “But he came over and we ended up talking on the couch all night instead. It turns out we share an affinity for spending time at home, and that was one of the traits that drew us together—realizing we would both rather stay in, eat dinner, and watch a movie than go out.”

Sparks flew quickly—“We ‘knew’ after that first date,” Cate says—and six months later, the duo set sail on a post-work boat cruise through Charleston Harbor, leading to what Cate calls “the best and scariest moment of my life.” As the wind kicked up, storms brewed, and a small-craft advisory was issued, she begged Hugh to return to shore. Instead he stopped the boat, dropped to one knee (“or as best as he could with the waves crashing!” Cate laughs), and proposed. Her answer: an ecstatic—and brisk—“Yes!”

Once back on land, the couple dove into planning and enlisted Kristin Newman of Kristin Newman Designs, who had previously orchestrated Cate’s debutante soirée and her mother’s 60th birthday celebration. The bride-to-be told Kristin the venue was a given and that she wanted “a fancy black-tie wedding with a casual, laid-back, easy vibe.” To understand what laid-back looked like to Cate, Kristin visited her home, where she found an extensive, colorful art collection. “My father infused in me a deep love for art at a very young age,” explains Cate.

With a painterly aesthetic as their guide, Kristin and the gals at Gathering Floral + Event Design set out to make the Morse home function—and flourish—as a ceremony and reception site for just shy of 300 guests. When the day came, the home’s driveway became an elegant ceremony aisle; the garage was transformed into a luxe bar; garden beds morphed into dining nooks; a pergola-covered parking space became a cake room; and the property’s pool served as a jaw-dropping vessel for 4,000 floating, fragrant roses in a range of pink hues. “It defied all my expectations,” says Cate, who now lives with Hugh just two doors down from where they exchanged vows.

After the wedding, she says people would ask her if she wanted to do it all over again. “Not at all,” Cate says, “because I wouldn’t want to change a thing. It was absolutely perfect.”


Vendor List:

Wedding design: Kristin Newman Designs, www.KristinNewmanDesigns.com

Photography: Corbin Gurkin, www.CorbinGurkin.com

Florals, décor: Gathering Floral + Event Design, www.GatheringEvents.com

Rentals: Snyder Event Rentals, www.SnyderEvents.com (tent, dinnerware, glassware, flatware);

Taylor Creative Inc., www.TaylorCreativeInc.com (ghost chairs);

Ooh! Events, www.OohEvents.com (circle-back chairs);

Blossoms Events, www.BlossomsEvents.com (tent décor, custom bars);

Suite One Studio, www.SuiteOneStudio.com (sweetheart table plates);

La Tavola, www.LaTavola.com (linens)

Catering, bar service: Cru Catering, www.CruCatering.com;

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, www.CalliesBiscuits.com (late-night food truck)

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

Stationery, calligraphy: Ceci New York, www.CeciNewYork.com

Watercolor napkins, escort card display: Natalie Taylor Humphrey, www.ArtByNatalieTaylor.com

Bride’s attire: Monique Lhuillier (gown; available in Charleston through Maddison Row, www.MaddisonRow.com);

Jimmy Choo, www.JimmyChoo.com (shoes);

Ippolita (earrings; available in Charleston through REEDS Jewelers);

Lindsey Nowak, www.LindseyNowak.com (stylist);

Cacky’s Bride + Aid, www.CackysBrideAid.com  (garment specialist)

Bridesmaid gown: Monique Lhuillier from Bella Bridesmaids, www.BellaBridesmaids.com

Hair, makeup: Ashley Brook Perryman, www.ABPMakeup.com

Groom’s attire: Ermenegildo Zegna from Gwynn’s of Mount Pleasant, www.Gwynns.com (tux);

Brioni, www.Brioni.com (bow tie);

Alexander McQueen, www.AlexanderMcQueen.com/US (socks);

Salvadore Ferragamo, www.ferragamo.com (shoes)

Groomsmen attire: Grady Ervin & Co., www.GradyErvin.com

Flower girl attire: Doloris Petunia, www.DolorisPetunia.com

Ringer bearer attire: Southern Belles, www.SouthernBellesChildren.com

Music: Pat Patrick Band 

Transportation: Lowcountry Valet & Shuttle Co., www.LowcountryValet.com