Something Old, Something New



When you think of weddings, there are certain fabrics that come to mind:  satin, lace, silk, linen. Burlap?

“All last year almost every single wedding had burlap in some way, either at the rehearsal dinner or the reception,” said Dana Chastain, food and beverage director and event coordinator at Oldfield. Couples from all over brought in the once-utilitarian material to dress up their big event—in an elegantly dressed-down sort of way. “Finally we just bought rolls of burlap, thinking, ‘We can do this ourselves.’”

From burlap bows to cotton-pod wreaths, more weddings in the Lowcountry are drawing inspiration from the area’s natural beauty. With a dash of “eco-friendly” and a dollop of “rustic chic,” these weddings use simple plants, vintage treasures and unconventional materials to set a down-home mood that’s as classy as it is casual.

“We get a lot of requests for a very organic feel, for natural colors; even with flowers and things like that, they want more greens and browns and maybe one other color,” said Molly Kennedy of Celebrations Catering and Events. Kennedy says brides are asking for burlap linens, palm fronds and fresh cotton.

“I don’t know if they’re getting it from magazines or if they think it’s just because they’re in the South,” Kennedy said. “They want a Southern wedding, otherwise they’d stay home in New York or Ohio or wherever.”

Dawn Kiritsy, owner of A Floral Affair, said the desire to have a Southern plantation feel is definitely strong among brides who visit her shop. They’ve been using succulents and cotton pods, along with Southern flowers like magnolias and peonies. Simpler clutch bouquets are now the norm, though everything depends on the particular bride who’s planning her big day, Kiritsy said. But there does seem to be a fairly common element.

“When people choose to have their wedding here, they want to bring in something Southern,” she said.

The spring weddings Chastain already is in the throes of planning are using more cotton and its associated colors: whites, grays, and greens. Other rustic chic trends include the use of wheat, herbs and natural grasses in bouquets; potted herbs, cut grass, pine cones and even moss in centerpieces; clotheslines and fishing nets for hanging photos and place cards; galvanized tubs and buckets; and casual, locally grown (and caught) cuisine that is presented in an upscale way (think shrimp-and-grits wontons and fried green tomato canapés with goat cheese).

“We hardly ever have a fancy formal reception here,” she said.

Chastain said 90 percent of weddings rehearsals at Oldfield’s Outfitters Center used burlap as table runners last year, and the trend is continuing. Other materials commonly used to achieve the rustic chic look are miniature chalkboards used as place settings, Mason jars for centerpieces and drinks, even fishing nets.

“We had a wedding last year where the couple used a fishing net hung between two trees and had cards printed for seating charts on it using vintage fishing lures,” Chastain said. “It was gorgeous.”

Calling fishing nets and lures “gorgeous” decorative elements at a wedding is proof that the rustic chic look works, and seems perfectly suited to weddings held under the Spanish-moss draped oaks at Palmetto Bluff, Oldfield and a dozen other locations across the county. “Even on the River Club lawn we’ve noticed people want that true Lowcountry elegance,” Chastain said.

Photo by Amy Daring