Pearls of Wisdom

Pearls of Wisdom | We’re over-the-moon for this wedding that’s run through with oysters. Learn how to flavor your wedding with just such a theme without going overboard
Charleston native Courtney Long Milster can relate to the pitfalls of planning a wedding in the age of social media. “I am extremely detail-oriented so I over-thought everything,” she says. “With Pinterest and Instagram it’s easy to compare your wedding with everyone else’s and go a little nuts, which I was definitely guilty of. I lost so many hours of sleep obsessing over florals, color schemes, and fonts.” Organizing everything from afar (she and her sweetheart, Erik Milster, lived in Boston during their engagement and now reside in Brooklyn) also had its challenges. But with a Lowcountry-based team including her mom, sister, and planner Ellen Robinson of WED, Courtney’s oyster-infused Big Day was the stuff other brides are sure to “like”—and then some.
Charleston Weddings: Why did you pick Kiawah for your wedding?
Courtney Milster: I grew up around Southern salt marshes and always knew I wanted to get married on the river. Fortunately, I fell in love with a Boston-bred man who shared my affinity for saltwater (and who also happens to be a golfer), so the River Course at Kiawah Island was the dream venue for us.
CW: How did you come up with an oyster theme?
CM: I’ve always associated oysters with the Lowcountry (and my favorite gemstone). Also, my oh-so-brilliant husband pointed out the similarities between finding a pearl in an oyster and finding true love: both are rare and precious.
CW: How did the design come together?
CM: I reached out to Kearsley Lloyd, a watercolorist I found on Instagram whose work I greatly admire, to paint custom oyster shells for us to use on our printed materials and décor.
CW: How did you refrain from going overboard?
CM: Erik had to pull me back a little bit, because I found myself wanting to put those shells on everything! I’m thankful for his editing eye, because our wedding didn’t feel overly themed or kitschy.
Branch out. Choose accents that make sense with your central theme. Silver-gray pieces of driftwood, like those on this arbor, are a natural complement to oysters.
Be naut-y. Incorporate nautical maps into seaside weddings. In this wedding, the maps form paper cones for a lavendar “confetti” exit toss.
Dress the part. Ties—whether for the groom, his men, or servers—are a great place to work in thematic designs and colors. This groom and his cohorts donned silks dotted with tiny oysters.    
Engage in pillow talk. Upload a graphic from your wedding to to create patterned fabrics. The watercolored oysters from the invitation ended up as pillows the couple now own.  
Dish it. Oysters are having a heyday as ring dishes; gift them to yourself, your guests, and gals.
Read the fine print. Repeat invitation motifs on signage (as on this appetizer tray) to ensure colors and icons are infused throughout the festivities. 
Wedding design: WED,
Photography: Marni Rothschild Pictures,
Venue, catering: The River Course on Kiawah Island,
Rentals: Snyder Events; Ooh! Events (arbor),
Stationery: Albertine Press (printed materials),; Kearsley Lloyd (watercolor oyster motif), 
Calligraphy: Love Letter Gray,
Florals: SYG Designs,
Music: Charleston Virtuosi (ceremony),; Papa Sol (reception), 
Bride’s attire: Anne Barge from White on Daniel Island (gown),; Barmakian (ring),
Beauty: Moore Makeup (makeup),; Stuart Laurence Salon (hair),
Groom’s attire: Jos. A. Bank (slacks),; Ralph Lauren (jacket),; Charleston Krewe (ties, bow ties),
Cake: Wedding Cakes by Jim Smeal,
Linens: Snyder Events,
Signage: Studio R Design,
Guestbook: DSKI Designs,
Cocktail stirrers: TulleandTwig,
Welcome boxes: Charleston Soap Chef,