The Nature of It All

The Nature of It All | A love for nature and lush botanicals unite at this spectacular soirée at North Charleston's The Bend
Dana Foster & Weston McAfee
March 14, 2020 • The Bend
A transplant from Virginia, Weston “Wes” McAfee vividly remembers the first time he saw his future bride-to-be. Charleston native Dana Elaine Foster was in her scrubs, hair loosely pulled up, after a long day in training for her nursing degree at the Medical University of South Carolina. He was immediately drawn to her. Though it was a close friend of Dana’s, who also happened to be Wes’ sister-in-law, who helped make the love connection. Once their courtship began, it didn’t take either of them long to realize they had something special. Dana recalls knowing Wes was “the one” when he would regularly, and literally, go the extra mile by meeting her after class just to walk her home. 
When Wes proposed a year and a half into dating, the excitement and ensuing celebration foreshadowed the wedding to come. “It was a complete surprise,” says Dana. For her 30th birthday, Wes had told her he would be taking her and a few of her close friends to dinner on Folly Beach. No doubt, the bended-knee moment on the pier was classically Charleston, with friends on hand to capture the memory, but the intimate birthday dinner turned out to be a pretty believable ruse. “Wes explained he had lied about dinner, and that we were going to my mom’s for dinner to celebrate,” recalls Dana. “I walked into a huge surprise 30th birthday party with 50 of my close friends and family, who all had no idea they were also invited to a surprise engagement party. I will always be impressed with his ability to coordinate it all.”
During Dana and Wes’ 18-month engagement, the couple quickly landed on a venue—the 20-acre community redevelopment project along the Ashley River known as The Bend—and happily relinquished the reigns to the talented team at Ooh! Events to handle the rest. Dana’s mom, Susan Pearlstein, owns and operates The Bend, which allowed the couple full control of the décor and no restrictions on vendors. But in addition to the couple’s hobbies, The Bend’s conservation-driven mission to connect to both land and people served as inspiration for the wedding theme and design, explains Ooh! Events’ Mary Kathryn McConaghy.
The fabulous soiree, which took place the day before the world shut down under the pandemic, was utterly stunning. “I remember walking into the venue and my jaw dropping,” says Dana. “I started crying it was so beautiful.” Five tents, plus the existing pavilion were elegantly adorned with 500 pounds of smilax greenery. Custom botanical-printed table linens, napkins, and serving towels leaned into the nature preservation angle. The botanical design also graced a large hand-painted backdrop for the seating chart. And elements of the couple’s shared interests and love of nature and the outdoors came through as well—in the custom surfboard, boho-inspired photo backdrop, the signed surfboard “guest book” that now hangs in their home, and in the adorable vegan cookies decorated to resemble their fur babies and other hobbies. It was, indeed, the sweetest day.                
Planning, design, linens, rentals: Ooh! Events
Venue: The Bend
Images: Lucy Cuneo
Catering, bar: Cru Catering
Cake: Jim Smeal
Florals: Out of the Garden
Stationery: By George Press
Calligraphy: Mary Ruth Tribble
Signage: Holly Stiles
Draping: The Social Spool
Bride’s attire: Betty Bridal
Beauty: Meg Workman
Bridesmaids’ attire: Bella Bridesmaids
Groom’s attire: Jos A. Bank (suit), Brackish Bowties (tie)