Kate Mahoney has a keen eye for design. After all, we’re talking about a woman who noticed the starting quarterback of her college football team not for his social capital or athletic prowess, but for his fashion sense. “He was such a good dresser,” she says of now-husband Mike Carven. “And he still is!”
In fact, he even dresses up their French bulldog, Seamus, from time to time—like when Kate came home from work one afternoon in May 2015 to find their pup with a giant red bow around his neck. “I was so distracted trying to figure out why he had a bow on that I missed the ring tied to it and Mike down on his knee,” Kate recalls. “When I snapped back to reality, I said ‘Yes’ and we popped champagne.”
Next, the bride-to-be popped online to shop venues in her favorite city. Thanks to family vacations at her grandparents’ house in West Ashley, Massachusetts native and resident Kate has racked up major frequent-flier miles traveling to and from Charleston. “It isn’t just a beautiful city filled with history and beautiful people—it really has a warm feel of family for us,” she explains. And seeing as most of Mike’s family was unacquainted with the Lowcountry, what better way to bring the Carven clan into the fold?
Planning a wedding from afar has its challenges, but luckily Kate had a local liaison. “I actually made my grandmother do drive-bys of places I thought might work,” she laughs. One of those was the Historic Rice Mill—a waterfront property with exposed brick walls and an opening for her date. It was the perfect blank canvas for Kate, an interior decorator, to work her magic, yet she still wanted to assemble a team. Number one on the list? Planner extraordinaire Lauren Miller of ELM Events. Kate hit her with buzzwords like “fun,” “fresh,” and “casual,” and the two worked together to handpick each side table, light fixture, and pillow to pull off the desired vibe. “Kate was open to mixing styles and to staying away from the typical blush, ivory, and gold palette,” says Lauren. Instead, the bride gravitated toward Lucite furnishings, patterned linens, geometric shapes, and greenery—lots and lots of greenery, like the jaw-dropping leaves that hung overhead of the main reception table. “At first, I wanted a totally organic installation with flowers,” she explains. “But then Branch Design Studio came up with the idea of hanging orbs and candles.” And just like that, the living chandelier was born.
Finally, Kate hunted down a photographer to capture it all. She found Dana Cubbage’s site (on which the shutterbug professes her love for Mexican food, dogs, and Bravo) and that was all she wrote. “We really transformed the Rice Mill from a traditional space into a clean, modern design,” says Lauren of the end result. Kate’s verdict of the Big Day? “I’d envisioned my wedding a thousand times, but it totally exceeded my expectations.”