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MEMORABLE WEDDINGS
Caroline & Ward


The couple shares a private moment after all guests have left the ballroom, and dance to "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton

The couple shares a private moment after all guests have left the ballroom, and dance to “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton

Caroline graduated from Episcopal High School in Houston and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Wake Forest University. After graduation she moved to D.C., where she earned a master’s degree in Arts Management and began working at the National Gallery of Art in corporate fundraising.

Ward graduated from Christ Church Episcopal High School in Greenville, S.C., and earned a bachelor’s degree in Systems and Information Engineering from the University of Virginia. Then he moved to D.C. to work for Ernst & Young in their information security advisory group

First Date

Both went with friends to the USA/England World Cup game in downtown D.C. in June 2010. They were introduced and hit it off. Their first date at The Gibson, a D.C. speakeasy, was followed by dinner at Marvin, the restaurant next door.

Courtship and Proposal

Christmas is Caroline’s favorite time of year, and she loves chopping down and decorating Christmas trees with Ward. After two years of dating, they decided to move to Houston to be closer to Caroline’s family and continued their Christmas tree tradition in Houston.

After settling in, it took Ward only four months to pop the question. After their first Houston Christmas tree was decorated perfectly, Caroline delivered lunch and Ward immediately brought her into his living room. “I could see that all my decorations had been removed from the tree… and was about to be very upset!” she recalls.

Ward had replaced the decorations with dozens of silver frame ornaments filled with pictures of the two of them. From one end of the tree to the other, Ward described what each picture meant to him and how he had fallen in love with her. As he held the last frame – a picture of them cutting down their most recent tree – he asked Caroline to hang it on the tree. When she turned back around, he was on one knee… with a ring!

Engagement

During the following 13 months the couple welcomed a golden retriever puppy (named Gibson in honor of their first date) into a house they bought and renovated. All the while they planned a wedding and worked full time jobs. “It was a crazy year for us!” notes Caroline.

The Wedding

Style: The bride had always wanted a romantic “white winter wonderland” wedding. Her vision included a blend of formality and religious tradition with all the aspects of cozy elegance and many unique, personal touches.

Attire: Her Oscar de la Renta wedding gown of ivory guipure lace and a silk taffeta underlay had an illusion sweetheart neckline, low V back and fitted corset bodice. The fitted trumpet skirt fell into a circular sweep train on the floor. A custom made cathedral length gown, her “something old,” incorporated heirloom pieces of her mother’s 35-year-old wedding dress, including lace and pearl beads from the train that were sewn into a scalloped pattern around the edges of the veil. In addition, the bride carried a lace sleeve from her grandmother’s wedding dress and pinned a lace handkerchief to her bouquet that the groom’s maternal grandmother had carried at her wedding.

Caroline’s “something new” and “blue” were gifted by the groom — a pair of custom sapphire and diamond drop earrings made by the same jeweler who had designed her engagement ring and the couple’s wedding bands. Her “something borrowed” was a gorgeous brown mink stole with a retro-shaped collar, which had been a 25th wedding anniversary gift to her grandmother from her grandfather in 1970.

The bridesmaids wore variations of floor-length chiffon gowns by Amsale, with the deep red wine color cabernet complementing the wintery romance. Each was gifted a dark brown fur wrap by the bride, with their initials and the wedding date monogrammed inside.

The groom wore a classic black tuxedo, black bowtie and black suspenders. The groomsmen all wore matching black tuxedos from Al’s Formal Wear and were gifted a pair of state quarter cufflinks (of their home states), custom made by an artisan in D.C. and sent to Houston.

Floral and Décor: The bridal bouquet was composed of gardenias, ivory garden roses, white hydrangeas, silver brunia and lamb’s ear. Bridesmaids held bouquets of ivory garden roses, white hydrangeas, silver brunia and silver lamb’s ear. The flower girls held a single white hydrangea tied with a bow and a halo of baby’s breath and silver lamb’s ear.

The boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen were composed of ivory spray roses with silver brunia accents.

White Christmas lights were hung and wrapped romantically around the trees outside the church. An abundance of florals decorated the scene in ivory garden roses, white stock, white hydrangeas, and branches in a large stone garden urn.

Reception floral arrangements included ivory garden roses, white stock, white hydrangeas, and branches in tall mercury Divinci vases. The hallway credenza and guest book table boasted ivory garden roses, white stock and white hydrangeas in low oblong glass vases. Guest dining table centerpieces included dramatic flocked branches laid on tables, suspended glass and candles, and white hydrangeas in mirror princess vases including small floral of ivory garden roses, white hydrangeas at table level, mirror cube vases with glass bridges for candles, and crystal candelabras. The tablecloths were taupe and silver with a few silver sequined cloths mixed in, which looked beautiful against the silver Chivari chairs.

Flocked and natural branch trellises were suspended over-head, as well as suspended glass balls with candles and clusters of white hydrangeas without greenery.

The Cake: An elegant six-tiered vanilla buttercream cake with buttercream frosting was decorated in a vintage lace pattern mimicking the bride’s gown.

The groom’s dark chocolate cake surprised him with replicas of his two of his favorite things – the couple’s dog with a ball under his paw, and a golf bag in UVA colors (navy and orange), with Ward’s initials and a South Carolina logo, a UVA symbol, and a fish.

The Bridal Party: Father Alvin Sinasac officiated as parents of the bride, John and Joan Brantley, and parents of the groom, Buster and Luci Williams, witnessed their children uniting in matrimony.

Joining the bride at the altar was maid of honor Kelsey McDowell, along with bridesmaids Kathryn Kelly Boss, Samantha Scott Brantley, Sara Wimberly Brock, Meredith Katherine Clote, Melissa Millin Cook, Sarah Harrison Ford, Amanda Hobson Savoie, Elizabeth Marie Triggs and Alexis Giles Williams. Both flower girls were nieces of the bride: Amanda Lawlor Brantley and Elizabeth Martin Brantley.

Best Man Buster Williams (father of the groom) stood with groomsmen Steven Clark Brandt, Brian Christopher Brantley, David Randolph Brantley, Nicholas Young Gallagher, Richard William Graf, Arthur Lincoln Howson III, Gregory James Kuhn, David Mitchell McFarland and James Conrads Pendergast.

Top Wedding Moments: The 7:30 p.m. wedding at Saint Anne Catholic Church had over 450 guests in attendance on January 11, 2014. After the couple exchanged vows, an additional song “I Will Be With You” was sung by a soloist.

The couple had decided not to do a “first look,” and as the bride walked down the aisle with her father to “Trumpet Voluntary” the couple locked eyes. “I could tell he was crying, and once we finally got to hold hands at the altar we were overwhelmingly happy,” says the bride.

The Reception

River Oaks Country Club and the two homes surrounding it were kind enough to leave up their beautiful white Christmas lights so that guests were surrounded by the twinkling.

A cigar and scotch bar awaited outside with white globe café lights draped across the patio. Baskets of blankets were available for guests, as well as a cigar roller who hand rolled cigars. Inside, everyone enjoyed the spiked hot chocolate bar with donut holes and toppings, which contributed to the cozy winter feel.

The menu included five food stations of the couple’s favorite foods, each with a special name. The “Low Country” station was an action station of fresh-made Gulf shrimp and Carolina grits with toppings — a nod to Ward’s favorite meal and home state of South Carolina. “Taste of Texas” was a beef tenderloin carving station with mashed potatoes and haricot verts for the Texas meat-eating crowd. The “Southern Comfort” station included fried chicken, truffle fries, and beef sliders. “On the Rocks” included an ice bar with Gulf Coast seafood: king crab legs, shrimp, and oysters. An “Asian Fusion” station included sushi, dumplings, hand rolls, and noodle salads. For a late night snack, homemade Carolina ham biscuits were passed around.

The first dance had a very personal backstory. The newlyweds chose the Avett Brothers’ “January Wedding,” which has Blue Grass overtones and had always been “their song.” In fact, an Avett Brothers concert was one of the first concerts they attended together in D.C. The challenge was to have their 12-piece Motown-style band from Fort Worth, Brent Boyd & The Bulletproof Brass Band, capture the folk song feel. It required a banjo, so the bride asked her father, who is a talented musician, if he could learn to play the banjo and accompany the band on stage. He bought the instrument, learned the song, and made the moment special and memorable.

The father and daughter danced to the song he used to play on the guitar and sing to her, “Sweet Caroline.” The band surprised them by having guests sing along.

The groom and his mother danced to Aretha Franklin’s “I Say A Little Prayer for You,” which they listened to when he was growing up. During the last dance of the evening, silver confetti shooters were passed around and shot metallic silver and white confetti all over the dance floor. Afterwards, the band led guests outside to prepare for the couple’s departure.

The bride and groom stayed behind for a private last dance, “Wonderful Tonight,” by Eric Clapton. Then Mr. and Mrs. Williams exited to tossed white rose petals and silver confetti, and entered a white Rolls Royce. As they departed, ground-supported fireworks shot up on either side of the car, lighting their path down the circular drive.

The Honeymoon:The newlyweds celebrated a one-week honeymoon at Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.

Caroline works at the Menil Collection in Houston, managing the museum’s corporate giving program and exhibition sponsorships. Ward is employed by Ernst & Young in Houston, where he advises clients on risk management in information security.

The bride holds hands with her niece, goddaughter and flower girl, Elizabeth.

The bride holds hands with her niece, goddaughter and flower girl, Elizabeth.

The groom embraces his bride in her "something borrowed" mink stole outside St. Anne Catholic Church

The groom embraces his bride in her “something borrowed” mink stole outside St. Anne Catholic Church

Over 450 guests filled Saint Anne Catholic Church to witness Ward and Caroline's wedding

Over 450 guests filled Saint Anne Catholic Church to witness Ward and Caroline’s wedding

The bride, bouquet, gown and veil are stunningly beautiful

The bride, bouquet, gown and veil are stunningly beautiful

The soon-to-be Mrs. Williams' lace Oscar de la Renta wedding gown

The soon-to-be Mrs. Williams’ lace Oscar de la Renta wedding gown

The bride and groom departed in a white Rolls Royce with "Williams" on the license plate as the circular drive lit up with fireworks

The bride and groom departed in a white Rolls Royce with “Williams” on the license plate as the circular drive lit up with fireworks

The bride and her godmother share a prayer immediately before the ceremony

The bride and her godmother share a prayer immediately before the ceremony

The bride and groom share their first toast

The bride and groom share their first toast

River Oaks Country Club was the perfect setting for magnificent centerpieces, taupe and silver sequined tablecloths and silver Chivari chairs

River Oaks Country Club was the perfect setting for magnificent centerpieces, taupe and silver sequined tablecloths and silver Chivari chairs

The six-tier vanilla buttercream cake featured a Vintage Lace pattern that mimicked Caroline's wedding dress

The six-tier vanilla buttercream cake featured a Vintage Lace pattern that mimicked Caroline’s wedding dress

The groom's cake featured a golf bag in UVA colors and a replica of his Golden Retriever, Gibson!

The groom’s cake featured a golf bag in UVA colors and a replica of his Golden Retriever, Gibson!

The reception included a spiked hot chocolate bar with toppings, "Warm Wishes" custom coffee sleeves, and custom "CW" stir sticks with Shipley's glazed donut holes

The reception included a spiked hot chocolate bar with toppings, “Warm Wishes” custom coffee sleeves, and custom “CW” stir sticks with Shipley’s glazed donut holes

A cigar and scotch bar awaited guests outside

A cigar and scotch bar awaited guests outside

Late night snacks for guests included Frozen White Russians

Late night snacks for guests included Frozen White Russians

Homemade Carolina  ham biscuits

Homemade Carolina ham biscuits

The handsome groom, his best man and his groomsmen line up for a memorable pose

The handsome groom, his best man and his groomsmen line up for a memorable pose

The bride poses with her bridesmaids, who wore various versions of floor-length carbernet-colored chiffon gowns

The bride poses with her bridesmaids, who wore various versions of floor-length carbernet-colored chiffon gowns

The last song of the evening had everyone in a festive mood!

The last song of the evening had everyone in a festive mood!

mood! • The bridesmaids, in Amsale chiffon gowns in cabernet, do the limbo under a fur wrap, which each of them received as their gift from the bride

mood! • The bridesmaids, in Amsale chiffon gowns in cabernet, do the limbo under a fur wrap, which each of them received as their gift from the bride

The groom dances with his mother to "I Say A Little Prayer for You."

The groom dances with his mother to “I Say A Little Prayer for You.”

The 12 piece band, Brent Boyd & The Bulletproof Brass Band, provided a nonstop dance party complete with a fiddle player

The 12 piece band, Brent Boyd & The Bulletproof Brass Band, provided a nonstop dance party complete with a fiddle player

Guests enjoyed live music, courtesy of the banjo-playing talent of the bride's father

Guests enjoyed live music, courtesy of the banjo-playing talent of the bride’s father

 During the last dance of the evening, silver confetti shooters were passed around to all guests, who filled with silver and white confetti resembling a snow-covered dance floor

During the last dance of the evening, silver confetti shooters were passed around to all guests, who filled with silver and white confetti resembling a snow-covered dance floor


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