Though Melissa Cooper works in catering at a luxury hotel in Chicago, she and her fiancé, Tom Funk, decided to host their wedding in her hometown: Kiawah Island, South Carolina. As both the bride and the groom are in the hospitality industry, food and beverage were important aspects of the celebration. “I viewed the day through the eyes of the guests,” shares Melissa. To start, those traveling from out of town were greeted with a welcome bag

Instead of a full bridal party, the couple elected to have one attendant each: the bride’s sister and a cousin of the groom. His other cousin officiated over the vow exchange. “We wanted the day to be intimate and personal,” affirms Melissa. “We asked all family to wear blue since we did not have a formal bridal party.” The bride wore a designer gown featuring a strapless sweetheart neckline during the “first look,” and she had an illusion neckline and sleeves added for the ceremony to match the lower sheer portion of the skirt. 

“I viewed the day through the eyes of the guests... We wanted the day to be intimate and personal.”

To complement the beauty of Kiawah Island, the sweethearts wanted to bring the outside in, incorporating natural and organic elements into the décor. Guests sat on wooden benches during the ceremony, and the reception featured a variety of nature-inspired centerpieces: traditional flower arrangements, tall trees, and bowls of floating candles and blossoms. Rose gold was used as a metallic accent to match the bride’s wedding and engagement rings.

The newlyweds had their first dance to the modern classic “All of Me” by John Legend, while the father-daughter dance had a particularly personal touch. The bride and her father swayed to “Melissa” by The Allman Brothers Band, which the bride was named after. She and Tom made sure to carve out time for themselves during the celebration, eating separately from their guests. 

Afterward, they were sure to party with everyone to tunes played by a live band flown out from New York City. Though the wedding entertainment went over wonderfully, it did lead to the one thing Melissa would change from the big day. “I would have extended the reception by 30 minutes to have more time to dance,” she admits. However, once their time was up, the newlyweds had a wonderful send-off as they were showered with pink rose petals before getting into a vintage convertible for their getaway. 

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