We actually did it!
In 2021 we chartered a private jet with Wheels Up and took 5 of our best friends with us to Kiawah Island, South Carolina. We were well into the COVID pandemic of 2020 when we decided to make this trip–so we rented a house. A NICE house via Inspirato.
And since we had our closest friends, and a beautiful private space we decided to get married! Why not, right? Life is short, the world keeps getting crazier. We’re in love. So let’s have a Kiawah Island wedding!
We wanted to be somewhere 1) warm and 2)near water. Ultimately, we really love Charleston, and Kiawah Island is a short drive from the Holy City. Inspirato had some really beautiful homes available! We settled on Beachcomber. I can’t imagine a more perfect setting for us.
Looking for wedding venues in South Carolina? Thinking about a destination wedding? Kiawah Island is so beautiful. We didn’t get to do or see nearly as much as I had hoped. One thing our guests took advantage of was the bicycle rental. Our Inspirato team took care of bike rentals and even had them waiting at the house for us upon arrival. How cool is that? Inspirato also coordinated with our guests who wanted to golf and set up tee times for them.
We chartered a sunset cruise along the Kiawah River for our wedding evening. Unfortunately, some crazy weather forced us to cancel. It will be on the list for our next visit for sure! Seeing more of Kiawah’s natural habitats and wildlife in general is also on the “next time” list.
We love food. This is where to Eat.
I’d like to say I was one of those brides who gave up food and alcohol in order to fit into her dress. . .and I should have been. But life’s short and also there’s shape wear so. . yeah, I ate the hushpuppies. Our Kiawah Island wedding weekend kicked off with a 5 minute walk to Cherrywood BBQ & Ale House!
We loved sitting on the wide verandah in the back, watching the alligators taking their time along the golf course. Like they owned it. Chef Kieth Richardson delivered a savory spread, starting with some hella good lobster hushpuppies, served up with a chimichurri aioli and honey butter. The pan-seared diver scallops kept up the bold flavors with chipotle creamed corn. The whole group raved over the BBQ spice-rubbed and smoked chicken. I made the Cherrywood Salad my meal, owing to the wedding dress I’d be getting zipped into. It was packed with flavors: watermelon, strawberries, spiced pistachios. A bright lemon vinaigrette topped it off. Every bite was interesting!
We made a morning trip to Charleston, basically to eat at Amen Street.
Premium Oysters, tuna tartare. Fresh seafood is the BEST! The oyster shooter is a “fast, fierce and spicy” Bloody Mary + raw oyster in a shot glass. It’s wild. Try it.
Try all the cocktails! I really love the “Holy Basil” which is refreshing like a Mule. The “Baby E” feels like a classic Southern sipper: Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and lemon. Their key lime pie is also not to be missed! Luscious, creamy, just enough lime flavor popping, top-notch graham crust. We sat outside and enjoyed the perfectly hot sunny weather and the people watching.
Two words: Lowcountry Italian. I feel like I could stop there. Chef Andrew Raeside puts out classic Italian dishes with the best of the local ingredients. The antipasti dish with toasted ciabatta, Johns Island tomatoes and basil, buratta, and thin-sliced prosciutto was perfection. Everything was so fresh. The littleneck clams in a white wine sauce is something I could eat weekly. Be sure to end your meal with a glass of their house-made limoncello! It’s *almost* as good as mine!
Sunday brunch here is an epic affair! So glad we got in to experience it before heading home to Indy. The little restaurant was packed! Musicians in the front corner set the lively tone with enthusiastic gospel music. Billy Hall himself, coming down the stairs, greeted us warmly. Like, genuinely greeted us. What a simple but incredible concept.
On learning we were just married, Billy had two glasses of champagne brought up to our table. If you want to eat somewhere you feel appreciated, Hall’s is the place for you. Oh! And the food was all incredible! Crabcake eggs Benedict with roasted pepper-Creole hollandaise and Lavender-scented brioche French toast were standouts. A trio of desserts was also presented and this little table of piggies was all about trying those too!
Fudgy chocolate cake with a wild berry sauce. Cinnamon roll cheesecake is the best of both those worlds! A deceptively light whiskey bread pudding with sun-dried cherries and pecans. We practically rolled out of this place! A walk around the city afterwards was necessary! Our friend Jenny joked we were probably going to be too heavy for the plane after all that food. But no one regretted a single bite. It was all soooooo delicious.
Kiawah Island Wedding Dinner: Cooked up at Beachcomber by Chef Jeff Williams | Kiawah Island
I’m not sure it gets any more special than having a private chef create a menu, cook, and serve up a multi-course meal just for your party.
The courses that unfolded before us were artistic on the plate and pure flavor heaven in every bite.
Starting with a pillowy Parisian gnocchi snuggled up to local shrimp in a charred tomato, parmesan-fennel fondue. . .breadcrumbs toasted on top. Lordy it was divine.
The summer greens and gem lettuce salad was a fresh clean palate cleanser for the second course. After this we had a stunning-on-the-plate creation of orange-braised vermillion snapper. The snapper was sitting on top of black lentils and creme fraiche, crowned with orange slices, pickled lunch box peppers, and wispy fennel fronds. The play of flavors was exquisite. We all still talk about this meal!
Our Vendors became our Friends
Chef Jeff Williams
Chef Jeff is calm, centered, serious about his food– but in a laid-back kind of way. He has an impressive professional resume which made it even more surreal to have him cooking just for our little group–in the kitchen of our rented house. Finding him was a stroke of luck: a chef that I did research and reach out to was unavailable, and he suggested–and gave me the email for–Jeff Williams. Talk about Meant To Be.
I thought it was so sweet that every time Chef Jeff and I talked on the phone, he was dropping off or picking up his kids. He told me at one point that he wasn’t upset that COVID closed his restaurant, because now he actually had time to spend with his family. We talked about life, my vision for our Kiawah Island wedding dinner (Lowcountry flavor and local fresh ingredients, especially seafood, focus). Meeting him on my wedding day was like meeting a long-lost cousin. Who also happens to be an artist-magician in the kitchen.
I have promised and am determined that Kwan, her husband Chris, Mark and I will meet for drinks the next time we visit Charleston. How many people feel like that about their wedding florist?
I did a LOT of Google researching. I think in part I was searching for someone who did florals so amazingly well that I just HAD to justify this cost for my small, casual Kiawah Island wedding weekend.
Looking through the Bliss in Bloom portfolio page, I felt I should at least reach out and see if they had the availability. Driving flowers from Charleston to Kiawah Island was, after all, an additional factor. That’s like next-level commitment, you know?
I instantly connected with Kwan on a personal level during our Zoom call. We talked about, well, me and Mark, obviously: how we met, why we were doing a small wedding, a loose vision for floral arrangements. We also chatted about how she and her husband met, how she came to start Bliss in Bloom, the romance of Charleston in June. . .
Kwan is warm, engaging, smart–and the flowers for the house, the bridal party, and my wedding bouquet were stunning and absolutely made our intimate day even more special!
She and her husband Chris were the first vendors to arrive, and thank goodness Chris knew how to handle the gated community situation that is Kiawah Island! I was mortified, I had no idea I was supposed to have issued passes/notified the gatehouse, etc. They were SO gracious about it too. That easy-going, warm happy vibe is exactly what every bride needs on her wedding day! Good vibes and beautiful blooms!
I discovered Philip Casey through The Knot.Com after sifting through an impressive list of photographers in Charleston. I gravitated towards his light and airy shooting style, and the way he captures all those little intimate moments that tell more of a story than just the cut-and-dry wedding portraits alone.
Our Zoom call cemented the decision: Philip has a big smile and you can instantly feel his passion for his work. He met us at the airport on arrival day and took some great photos of the group and the jet. Having my photo taken is something I’ve never really been into. Philip helped me feel slightly less awkward and the arrival day mini-session was a great ice-breaker! Philip was the one who ran up to adjust my wedding dress train before capturing our little ceremony. The photos he took of Mark’s first look at me in my dress are some of my favorite Kiawah Island wedding photos.
Philip is also a humanitarian photographer and is involved with projects promoting volunteerism and donations to some truly worthy causes. A great guy–and an excellent photographer.
One thing I really loved about planning my own small wedding was the ability to not only choose, but really get to know my vendors. Energy is very important to me–what I put out, what I receive from others. With such an intimate setting, it was important that every single person involved had that genuine happy energy!
A Quick-Hits List for Charleston
It’s so close, and the food is so damn delicious. And it’s such a beautiful city! Make time for it. You won’t regret it.
- Do some shopping on King Street
- Snap a quick pic in front of the Pineapple Fountain
- Stroll past and admire the colorful houses of Rainbow Row
- Take in the sights and hunt for souvenirs at the City Market
- Admire Charleston Harbor from White Point Garden
Small or large, I would absolutely recommend a Charleston or a Kiawah Island wedding!
No wedding bells in the future? South Carolina is an incredible travel destination in general! I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Charleston a few times and I promise to share hotel recommendations and itinerary details. In the meantime, we’ve had incredible foodie adventures in Scotland and London, so you can get your wanderlust on and read about those delicious destinations!