A celebration at Callawassie

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HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS SAVOR THEIR DREAM WEDDING

In high school, Abby Hicks greeted Parris Winstead as she was walking down the hall to class. Little did she know the impression she made in that moment. Parris was instantly in love.

“I knew I was going to marry her from the moment I saw her,” he said.

He asked her out to the county fair, and they hit it off so well that they continued dating through the years spent at their small Christian school in Tennessee.

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When college came, the couple chose different schools, but in the same city, making it a point to eat dinner with their families together. It seemed quite natural for them to become engaged a year ago on Callawassie Island.

Parris picked the spot for his proposal based on Abby. Callawassie Island had always been a special place for her, a peaceful, relaxing getaway for family and friends. Parris decided to make the most of the Lowcountry views and set up a picnic blanket and candles under the oaks next to the marsh.

The couple took a golf cart ride after dinner, and he surprised Abby with a proposal during sunset. He was only slightly worried.

“I was pretty confident in the answer, but I was nervous about the weather,” Parris said. “Once I got there, in the moment it was perfect, and the nerves went away.”

Abby had no doubt that Callawassie Island was going to be the pick for a wedding venue.

“I remember telling my dad that I really wanted to get married here,” she said.

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She enlisted the help of Callawassie Island’s event planner Keriann Ginter, who helped organize all the details.

The wedding was planned for June 13, but the coronavirus pandemic caused plans to change around the country.

To alleviate some of the worry, Callawassie Island asked each bride to pick a later date as a backup — free of charge.

The couple chose July 18 for their alternate day, and when the time came to delay the event, they were fortunate to get all the vendors booked for the new schedule.

“Just having that security of a later date helped,” Abby said. “I was sad at first, but then relieved. I had dealt with so much unknown, the postponement let me focus on a new date and goal.”

Since Abby was an event planner, she had an exact picture in mind for her own special day. Her florals were hugely important to her outdoor wedding, and she picked Terry Simmons and Dakota Terrace of Jardiniere Events to bring her vision to life. They were able to create a neutral palate, full of champagne, white and light blush flowers and dark greenery. Abby was so excited to see the result that on the day of the wedding, she snuck out with her mom to see how the flowers turned out.

“It was gorgeous,” Abby said.

She came back to have her hair and makeup done by a Tennessee company, Effortless Beauty. Grace Rochat and Josie Valka were willing to travel to create Abby’s whimsical, bohemian look. In fact, the videographers from Amber Ridge Productions, Riley and Anna, were also ready to come to South Carolina from Tennessee. They even offered a discount for destination weddings as an incentive to be picked for a trip away from home.

The couple had a ‘first look,’ witnessed only by the videographers and the photographer Ian Santiago. Parris stood at one end of the River Club Dock and Abby walked to him, tapping him on the shoulder to turn around.

Parris was emotional seeing her for the first time.

 “I hadn’t even seen pictures of the wedding dress,” he said. “I had all these ideas in my head. The moment I saw her exceeded everything I could dream of. She was stunning.”

Their time together was captured by the professionals, allowing the couple to move on to the more public celebration.

They were married by their high school bible teacher on the lawn at the clubhouse overlooking the marsh.

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The wedding coincided with high tide, giving guests beautiful views of the water. They included a unity ceremony, combining soil from each of their houses to nurture a plant. After a cocktail hour and a reception dinner, music provided by Gary Lucca kept the dance floor busy all night.

Despite the precautions put in place for a pandemic wedding, Abby and Parris’s day was never compromised. Abby appreciates the effort that Callawassie Island extended to keep things normal, even as her guests had temperature checks, socially distanced and wore masks to enter the venue.

“I never saw any of that as a bride,” Abby said. “The venue kept the guests safe but kept my day special. To me, things looked normal.”

After being pampered at the Westin for their honeymoon, Abby and Parris are back to work and school as a married couple. They are happy to have solidified their life together; and for Abby, her Callawassie wedding was everything she dreamed it would be.

“It was amazing. Everything that I wanted came to life that Saturday,” she said.

VENDORS:

Venue Callawassie Island Golf Club  //  Photographers: Ian Santiago  //  Entertainment Gary Lucca of JLK Events

Florals Jardiniere Events  //  Planner Evi Huntsman  //  Hair and Makeup Effortless Beauty Videographer Amber Ridge Productions