Jane Gray and Trace Henderson may have first locked eyes in a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill political science class, but it was their chemistry that sealed the deal. When the Brooklyn duo decided to wed, they revamped a standing tradition of visiting the groom’s family over Memorial Day weekend. Though Trace is from North Carolina, Jane’s dad suggested they migrate further south to the Lowcountry. In this case, father knew best. “We’ve spent a lot of time in Charleston, both separately and together,” Jane says, “and it was a place we knew our guests would be excited to visit.”
Ready to get the nuptial ball rolling, they flew down to meet with the planning mavens at The Burlap Elephant. The team developed a mood board inspired by the couple’s personalities and style, striking a key balance between their formal sensibilities and eclectic taste. “We wanted a seated dinner and black-tie attire, but it still needed to feel like us,” Jane explains.
The solution? Personal touches and homestyle eats. Reception table numbers were re-used from Jane’s sister’s wedding, the mother of the bride calligraphed escort cards, and family photos dotted cocktail hour. Their well curated menu featured oysters from Fishers Island, New York (a Gray family vacation spot); a family-style supper of hushpuppies, grits, fried green tomatoes, and other Southern staples; and yummy late-night nuggets courtesy of Chick-fil-A. But before guests took part in said feast, the weekend started with a rehearsal dinner at The Ordinary on Upper King and a welcome party at Trace’s grandparent’s downtown home. As most attendees stayed a few miles north of town at the private club where the ceremony was held, the pre-Big Day festivities “allowed our guests to get a feel for the city,” says Pennsylvania native Jane.
The next day, everyone was in for a surprise when Tropical Storm Bonnie crashed the party. But, as the bride says, “You’ve just got to go with the flow!” Reframing the maelstrom as mere background noise, everyone settled in for a cozy (and sheltered) evening under the tent. The couple swapped “I dos” in front of the band’s setup, and guests dined and danced the night away surrounded by beeswax candles, spring blossoms, and towering oak branches. “It truly felt like we were under the trees, which was all the more special since it was pouring rain,” says Jane. “It was spectacular and totally beyond what we expected.”