January 7, 2017 • The Sanctuary Hotel on Kiawah Island
Gaby Ruiz is a force to be reckoned with. Exhibit A: When the most severe blizzard in New York City in recorded history hit during her dress shopping weekend there, she didn’t let a little precipitation scare her off. Instead, she rallied the troops (her mom, future mother-in-law, and bridesmaids) and headed face-first into the pandemonium. “All our appointments were cancelling,” she remembers, “but Kleinfeld’s stayed open, and they were taking one last client—me.”
A year after what was Winter Storm Jonas, Gaby donned her well-earned Pnina Tornai gown when she wed Ward Mungo in Kiawah Island’s The Sanctuary hotel, in a ballroom draped in shimmering winter whites. The event was a coming-out of sorts for the couple. Ward’s family (of Mungo Homes) is well-established in the state capital, and Gaby hails from
Lexington, South Carolina just miles from Columbia, so the two seized the opportunity to debut here where they now live with a bang. “We wanted to hit the scene in Charleston, and say, ‘The Mungos are here!’ ” Gaby jokes.
For that “bang,” Gaby needed a planner well-versed in extravagance, and Tara Guérard of Tara Guérard Soirée was up for the challenge. “I wanted it to look like the Kardashians threw up everywhere,” Gaby laughs in kidding-not-kidding fashion. Tara took Gaby at her word and laid the groundwork for a party of Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney caliber.
First, the couple swapped “I do’s” in one ballroom as Charleston Virtuosi played in the background. A confetti cannon went off post-kiss, which was followed by a chorus of bagpipes (a nod to Ward’s heritage). The newlyweds then walked back down an aisle lined by orchid-laden “trees,” and led their guests to a Mexican-themed cocktail hour complete with mariachi band (a nod to Gaby’s culture). After a black-tie dinner beneath gilded chandeliers in a second ballroom, Ward’s younger sister sang as he twirled Gaby around the marbleized dance floor. Later, the sugar rush from the gold- and silver- leafed cake kept everyone going until midnight. “We married young,” laughs the 20-something Gaby, “so obviously there was a ton of partying.”
And as big and bold as the fête was, it also showed off the newlyweds’ big hearts. In lieu of wedding gifts, they accepted donations to Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos International, a non-profit that operates orphanages across Latin America, including the one in Mexico where Gaby’s mother was raised. All in all, it was a celebration full of love and laughter, and although there was no snowstorm, it was definitely a night for the history books.
Charleston is one of the country’s top-tier cities for so-called destination weddings, and any couple getting married here should expect far-flung guests to RSVP an enthusiastic “Yes” to their celebration, especially when this old-school boarding pass, designed by Studio R, debuts your wedding details in high flying style.