Family Ties

Family Ties | The party never stopped at this Kiawah Island weekend bash
Sarah Benderson & Mark Balsom
May 15, 2022 • The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Buffalo, New York, natives Sarah Benderson and Mark Balsom hail from families whose friendship goes back generations. And yet—despite sharing a baby bassinet!—the two never really crossed paths. That is, until their sisters-in-law successfully introduced them after years of trying. It turns out their loved ones were onto something, as one connection over FaceTime was all it took for Sarah and Mark to hit it off.
Since they were living some 1,500 miles apart at the time—Sarah in Boston and Mark in Delray Beach, Florida—their romance began a bit unconventionally. Their first date involved Sarah catching a flight to Delray and lasted a joyous four days. It only took a couple more meet-ups to know this was something special. Within four months, she permanently made the move south so they could begin their life together with their Goldendoodle, Hampton. 
After a dockside proposal while on a walk with Hampton, the couple launched into planning a May wedding on Kiawah Island, where Sarah grew up visiting. “Some of my favorite family memories took place there,” she says. Wanting the same for their future family, she introduced avid golfer Mark to Kiawah, and he soon shared her enthusiasm. Plus, the island setting would prompt a perfect reunion for their guests. “We wanted a place where we could truly be together,” she says. “Where you’d see everyone you know in the lobby, or while riding your bike.” 
A weekend of celebrations around the island ensued, including a golf tournament with the groom at Turtle Point; beer, bubbly, and barbecue in the Osprey Point Clubhouse; and a River Course welcome party. “I wanted each night to have its own personality,” Sarah says. Their big day at the famed Ocean Course balanced an aesthetic of timeless elegance with a full-on party atmosphere. Aspiring to have “no slow points” throughout the night, they asked planner Ellen Robinson of WED to help make it happen. “The flow of the night took us months to plan,” Sarah recalls. All the time and energy paid off in spades—and brought their families together in a whole new way.  
Planning & Design: WED
Photographer: Perry Vaile
Venue: The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Florals: SYG Designs
Catering: The Ocean Course
Cake: Wild Flour
Bridal Attire: Netta BenShabu (dress); Badgley Mischka (shoes); Wayne Hudson (rehearsal)
Beauty: Wild Ivory
Stationery: Studio R
Entertainment: Charleston Virtuosi quartet (ceremony); The Hudson Project (reception)