Backyard Beauty

Backyard Beauty | Join us for a garden wedding at one of Charleston’s most storied addresses and get tips for hosting your own haute affair

OK, let’s be real. Not everyone has a backyard like that of the Gaillard-Bennett house, a private 1800 manse with a 1.25-acre manicured garden in downtown Charleston. But we can safely say that most every homestead in the Lowcountry does have its charms, be it grand live oaks, crepe myrtles laden with Spanish moss, or grandmother’s heirloom lilies all abloom. No matter what “backyard” you’re working with, you can learn from Renee Patey and Donald Hayden’s intimate wedding, crafted by Shannon Hardy from Duvall Events. The couple, who lives in San Francisco, longed for an outdoor affair here with a low-key ceremony and grand gourmet dinner for their 30 guests. When the day arrived, the tradition-bucking pair greeted arriving family and friends together in the shadow of the estate’s wrought-iron gates. Attendees sipped cocktails, then took their seats so local notary (and Charleston Place hotel concierge) Rick Burton could shepherd the two through the ceremonial exchange of vows. Once Renee and Donald were pronounced husband and wife, everyone celebrated with a four-course meal by Duvall Events’ caterers, including chilled oysters on the half-shell, eggplant involtini, and cured salmon carpaccio while basking in the splendor of one of Charleston’s crown jewel gardens. To get such a slice of heaven for you and yours, read on for Shannon’s top-notch advice.


1) Play off the existing surroundings.
Here, green foliage, white columns, and pale peach stucco informed the palette, which was supplemented with gold and teal.

2) Complement—don’t compete—with nature.
Place subtle floral arrangements and topiaries so they accent your garden’s beauty.

3) Mind your candles.
Keep candles in a cool, shaded spot until the last minute as they melt easily in hot or sunny weather. Use glass sheaths and votives to prevent live wicks from snuffing out and lit candles from starting fires. If you don’t sheath flames, ask servers to monitor candles.

4) Maximize your views.
Set tables, chairs, and lounge areas in spots with the best vantages.

5) Hire pros.
Professionals excel at steadying tables so florals, food, and flames won’t topple.

6) Skip the shuffle.
Rent enough seating to avoid shifting during the event. Here, that allowed the waitstaff to serve guests hors d’oeuvres after the ceremony rather than having to move furniture.

Vendor List

Bridal Gown: Jenny Packham;
Cake: Declare Cakes;
Catering and bar: Duvall Events;
Ceremony and reception music: Charleston Virtuoso;
Event design, flatware, and florals: Duvall Events;
Linens: Connie Duglin Specialty Linen and Chair Cover Rental; www.ConnieDuglinLinen
Officiant: Rick Burton;
Photographer: Leigh Webber Photography;
Tables, chairs, china: Snyder Event Rentals;
Topiaries: Nancy’s Exotic Plants;[Nancy’s Exotic Plants]
Transportation: Charleston Rickshaw Company;
Venue: Gaillard-Bennett House;