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Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

Ellen Havlicek and Matthew Fitzgerald wed on May 18th, 2019 and I was fortunate enough to have been chosen to shoot this beautiful wedding. I want to share some of my favorite photos from this joyous day below and add commentary that the bride was so kind to share.

Hello! Matthew and I met through mutual friends in Boston, where we currently live. We chose to be married at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island because Kiawah is a special place for my family. My parents started going there in the early 80’s and my family has been vacationing there ever since.

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

Some of my favorite memories growing up are from summer vacations to Kiawah – playing on the beach and bike riding all over the island – and as an adult, Matt and I have made our own memories here over the years. When we were deciding where to get married, Kiawah was an easy choice. And as for where on the island, you can’t beat the view from the Ocean Course.

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

We were engaged for 14 months and were so fortunate to have a full service wedding planner to handle every detail, especially since we were planning a destination wedding. For our inspiration we truly embraced the idea of Kiawah Island. Because Kiawah is naturally so beautiful – we didn’t want to detract from that, and instead, we took its beauty as inspiration for our style. For our color palette we chose mostly neutrals. Whites and tans with lots of greenery and pops of blue – these were reminiscent of the island’s landscape.

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

For our escort cards, we selected a photo of each of our guests and had them printed in black and white on a 3×4. All of the photos were mounted with a custom wax seal with an oak tree and our initials to a clear acrylic board that was adorned with greenery. Each guest found their photo, which had their name inscribed along with their table number, on the photo wall during cocktail hour. It was really enjoyable watching our guests look at board to find their photo. However, the wall looked so nice guests were hesitant to take the photos off. I was actually the first one to take my photo down to get guests to follow suit, and we actually had to make an announcement that they were a wedding favor for everyone!

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

We then used our menus as place settings — we had each guests name calligraphed at the top of the menu next to another wax seal with an oak tree and our initials. As for our invitations, we had a water color painted on the bottom to look like the marshes surrounding Kiawah.

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

I wanted a simple bouquet of various white flowers and some greenery – preferably native – mixed in. We held bouquets with peonies, a variety of white specialty roses, magnolia leaves, camellia greens, and Israeli ruscus tied tight. My bouquet was wrapped with lace edging from my mother’s wedding veil. The men each wore a single white ranunculus tucked with light greenery and tied with black ribbon.

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

For the ceremony, we kept it simple with dark wooden chairs. We didn’t have an altar but had four large clusters of palms – two at the back of the aisle and two framing where we stood. Since we were married on a golf course and it was pretty warm that day, we had Arnold Palmers passed around to guests prior to the ceremony start to keep cool.

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

My father John walked me down the aisle and we had a string quartet play the following non-traditional songs as part of our ceremony: ‘Make You Feel My Love’ by Adele for the procession of the mothers and ‘Higher Love’ by Steve Winwood for the wedding party procession. I walked down the aisle with my dad to Pachelbel’s Canon in D- a much more traditional song. After the procession we recited vows the we wrote ourselves. We then played ‘Just the Two of Us’ by Bill Withers for the recession.

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

For the reception we wanted a look that was simple, yet elegant to play up the surrounding nature. Keeping this in mind, our reception was under an open sided sailcloth tent, lit with strung cafe lights.  We had a 16’ white plantation bar with driftwood shelves for glassware flanked by our repurposed ceremony palms in rattan baskets. We also had a white-cedar plank dance floor. For linens, we kept it simple with white linen table cloths and blue linen napkins, similar to the color of the ocean. We brought in elements of the beach with driftwood chargers (in addition to the bar shelves), seagrass lounges that were on either side of the dance floor, and with our head table arrangements; we had four tall Annabelle vases of palms, magnolia leaves, and gardenia greens with different sized candles in hurricanes scattered across the table. Throughout the rest of the tables we had structured round arrangements of a variety of white flowers and greenery along with candles.

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

As far as food, we had a meal with lots of elements of the Lowcountry – crab cakes for our first course and an entree selection of either filet and lobster or grouper with shrimp and crab risotto. We also chose to exclude a cake. Instead, we opted for a variety of mini desserts so guests could pick and choose from a selection. Our favorites included a flourless chocolate cake, key lime pie, and berry crumble.

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

Our first dance was Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton. It’s a timeless classic that we both love, and it just seemed right for our first dance. We also had a DJ (Bryan the DJ of Other Brothers Entertainment) who was great! He played a great mix of today’s music, throwbacks, and classic love songs that had everyone regardless of age on the dance floor!

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

After all is said and done, I recommend to any newly engaged couple to take time for just for the two of you at your wedding – even if it’s just a few minutes! It’s so easy to get caught up in the day. Some of my fondest memories were when Matt and I took a few minutes to ourselves and reflected on the day.

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

It is so hard to choose a favorite moment from this amazing day! I loved everything about the entire day. But, if I had to choose, I think my favorite moment would be around sunset when Virgil- our photographer- took the two of us into the dunes and onto the beach for some photos. It was that perfect golden hour of the evening and was so special to have a few moments to ourselves to reflect on the day.

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island  Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

At the end of the night, we had a grand exit where all guests waved paper ribbon wands and we walked through them. This was a perfect way to end an even more perfect day!

Charleston Wedding Photographers Virgil Bunao Spring Wedding at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island

Thank you for reading more about Ellen and Matthew’s forever day! I wish nothing but the best for the two of them and hope their life is filled with as much love and happiness as their wedding was.  Thank you so much. -VB

Ceremony/Reception Site/Catering: The Ocean Course | Wedding Planner: Hill & Co. Creative | Florals: Stephanie Gibbs Events |Hair & Makeup: Madison LeCroy | Bride’s Aid: Cacky’s Bride Aid | Invitations: Studio R  | Calligraphy & Escort/Place Cards: J. Lily Design | Programs, Menus, Cocktail Napkins: Sas-e Ink

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