A Charleston Bride is known for creating stunning weddings loaded with luxe details and copious blooms, events that regularly find their way to the pages of Southern Weddings and on Style Me Pretty, The Knot, Ruffled, Brides, Elizabeth Anne Designs, and more. But when owner Melissa Barton wed Kevin Williams last fall, the two went under the radar for their private Big Day in November and country casual for their public celebration in December. We visited with Melissa to hear how an A-list planner puts on her own marriage celebration and why she swapped finery for refined rustic when it was her turn.
Charleston Weddings: Let’s start with the proposal. How did that play out?
Melissa Barton Williams: Kevin told me we were going to the Friday dress parade at his alma mater, The Citadel. When we got there, there was no parade, but he had a photographer meet us and she caught some perfect shots.
CW: Tell us about your actual ceremony.
MBW: It was perfection! We were at the Governor Thomas Bennett House with our children (we have a son and daughter each), parents, and immediate family. I wore a white jumpsuit and carried a bouquet that the girls at the office had picked. Charleston Virtuosi played as my son walked me down the aisle. After the ceremony, everyone’s favorite drinks were brought to them then we went out for dinner.
CW: How did you decide on the relaxed style of the December reception?
MBW: Kevin’s from Greenwood, South Carolina, so he’s a country boy at heart, and I grew up on Yonges Island. We always knew we wanted an oyster roast in my parents’ backyard at my childhood home with barbecue, bluegrass, and skeet shooting. This sort of celebration is great for anyone’s rehearsal dinner, second marriage (like us), or anniversary.
CW: How did skeet shooting factor in?
MBW: We shoot skeet out there a lot, and all of our neighbors are family so all were onboard. We did it early in the day, before too many drinks were consumed and my brother and father ran the thrower while Kevin managed the guns. I wouldn’t do it with a large group; for clients, I’d say hire a professional to organize it so no one gets hurt.
CW: Can you talk about the planning side?
MBW: I did it all in about five weeks, and left the office gals out of it so they could come as guests. I saw the rosemary topiaries as I was walking out of Whole Foods Market and loved how they were wrapped in burlap and were a little nod to the upcoming holiday. I’ve used hay bale seating for a rehearsal dinner before and loved it. The barrels were there to complement our bourbon tasting station (a surprise for Kevin as he loves bourbon), where we had large-cut ice cubes—the guys were going nuts about those.
CW: Any lessons learned to share?
MBW: We saved on cost by having beer and wine at a self-serve bar rather than hiring a bartending service. That can be risky in terms of liability, but we got event insurance for the day as we were comfortable knowing these were some of our very best friends and close family. Also? Having it at my parents’ place lent much more of a relaxed feeling than had we rented a location.