In an original essay for the Daily Catch, New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe reflects on what makes South Carolina weddings so special. Her latest book, A Lowcountry Wedding, is in stores May 3.
A centuries-old church, an avenue of ancient oaks dripping moss, a storied ballroom, a surreal sunset, sea oats clicking like castanets on a sand dune … What images come to mind when you imagine a coastal wedding?
Charleston is considered the heart of the Lowcountry in coastal South Carolina and has become a leading location for destination weddings. In my new novel A Lowcountry Wedding I explore why so many young women from all over the country are choosing the Lowcountry as their wedding location. What are these young women searching for? What are they hungry for at this emotional, intimate milestone in their lives? Why Charleston?
True, the Lowcountry is a romantic backdrop for all the wedding photos. But there’s more to the idyllic setting than palm trees and historic buildings. At a time when our country is becoming increasingly homogeneous, this region of the South reveres tradition and history, friendliness and etiquette. It’s that sense of place that so many people crave when planning their wedding. At no time is protocol and good manners required more than at a wedding. At such important milestones, even the non-traditional bride seeks out Emily Post for guidance. Weddings are a time of transition for a woman. The bride is spotlighted as she moves from girlhood to womanhood as she establishes her own family–sanctioned by society and blessed by family and friends.
Weddings are family events, and as such they are filled with compromise. When families deal with questions of etiquette and protocol, tensions can rise as generational differences of opinion flare up. Granny might see the wearing of a white dress differently than the bride who prefers blush or blue. Divorces can strain family occasions during wedding season, especially when members are bitterly estranged. At such times, it’s good to remember that at the heart of all good manners and etiquette is compassion and kindness.
A dream wedding in Charleston’s Lowcountry can be at a plantation nestled in a lush landscape of historic mansions, manicured gardens, winding creeks and ancient oaks dripping moss. Or the wedding can be at a country farm with grassy fields, well-kept barns and grazing horses. Or it can be set on a gorgeous beach against a surreal sunset and wide ocean views. All are popular wedding venues in the Lowcountry that make for picture perfect backdrops in a bride and groom’s wedding day album.
But it’s what cannot be precisely captured in a wedding photo that’s most cherished. The experience of Charleston charm and hospitality, which give depth and meaning to the wedding; The feel of your father’s arm linked through yours; the first glimpse of your loved one’s eyes as you walk down the aisle; being enveloped by the sweet smell of flowers and your mother’s perfume; the moment you take a breath and say the words, “I do.”
Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of A Lowcountry Wedding, in stores May 3.