Robert Edgar Wilder, III & Margaret Alison Courtney
June 18, 2016 • Lowndes Grove Plantation
We all love a good fairy tale, and Lowcountry natives Alison “Ali” Courtney and Robert Wilder are the real deal. When they met in passing at a University of South Carolina football game, she says he was the best looking man she had ever laid eyes on. And Robert? He drifted to sleep that night still thinking of “that girl in the red dress” (Ali, of course). “We both thought we would never cross paths again,” Ali says. But their story didn’t end there, thanks to good old-fashioned dental hygiene. What? Yep, it turns out they shared a dentist (luckily one who has a penchant for matchmaking), and he had planned to set them up all along. It worked, and the couple dated for a few years before the next chapter of their romance was written.
Ali, a model, was headed for what she thought was a gig with Gwynn’s of Mount Pleasant at Lowndes Grove Plantation. She got into character and started posing. “A few minutes in, I was startled by a familiar voice,” Ali says. “It was my Prince Charming! As Robert went down on one knee, I couldn’t control the flood rushing down my cheeks.” Apparently he staged the entire shoot to catch her unawares, to make sure everything was caught on camera, and to guarantee she had a grand story to tell.
After Ali’s “Yes,” the couple decided to get hitched at that very same plantation. As the owner of Ali Wilder Interiors, the bride was eager to dress up her magical venue. “I just kept revisiting the site and envisioning new ideas,” she says. With the help of close friend and planner Lauren Fox of Fox Events, they outlined the basics: lighting (crystal chandeliers and gold candelabras), florals (greenery and all-white blooms), and linens (a mix of emerald and black). With the nuts and bolts out of the way, Ali let her imagination run wild with creative ideas that were both pretty and practical.
For instance, the tent’s 15-foot birch tree centerpiece doubled as seating when they encircled it with a wraparound bench. An abstract gold-and-silver painting served as both décor and guestbook (and now hangs in the couple’s Mount Pleasant home). Perhaps the most miraculous element of the evening, though? The five-tier hanging cake, which was suspended from an oak tree and accessed via a small stage edged in boxwood. Thanks to the elevation, the cake cutting and sunset champagne toast were easily seen by all 325 guests.
As Ali and Robert start their latest chapter, this one as newlyweds, she only has minimal advice for fellow brides. “Hug your parents, let your planner do her job, and definitely break in your wedding shoes.” Words to wed by.
Tara Guérard Soirée and LulaKate teamed up to create a custom bridesmaid ensemble that went from formal ceremony to garden party reception. Here’s what they fashioned (plus a few bonus accessories Tara recently fell for)