Though Mary Holbrook and Tyler Johnson met during middle school in St. Louis, Missouri, attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and even went on a date in college, the pair didn’t start officially dating until they reconnected at a wedding five years after graduation. They were long distance for eight months – Tyler in Charlotte and Mary in New York City – until Mary joined her beloved in North Carolina. 

“After about a year of living together, traveling, and making great memories, I decided it was time to pop the question,” confirms Tyler. He asked his future father-in-law for his blessing and secured a gorgeous engagement ring from a private jeweler, who is one of Mary’s good friends, before proposing in front of the famed Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. 

Since Mary and Tyler spent much of their courtship in Sea Island, Georgia, they chose the sentimental location as the celebration site. So dear to their hearts, the setting also influenced the design of the entire soirée, which was inspired by the enchanting sunsets of the Southern Georgia coastline – “very colorful!” describes the bride of the October sunset theme. Having originally planned a black-tie wedding for 250 attendees, the pair was forced to cull their guest list down to 15 of their closest friends and family. “Covid changed everything,” the bride shares. However, “it felt just as special,” the groom adds. 

The stunning invitation suite, featuring vibrant accents and an artistic envelope liner showcasing a sophisticated painting of a blue heron, set the tone for the décor to come. The bride was the epitome of elegance in a cap-sleeve Mark Ingram Collection bridal gown from Mark Ingram Atelier in New York City; she carried a bouquet of ivory gardenias, calla lilies, stephanotis blossoms, and lily of the valley blooms. Bridesmaids were beautiful in high-neck pink gowns and carried nosegays of roses in shades of peach. 

“For a 15-person Covid wedding, it was perfect.”

Friends and family found their seats on a manicured lawn dotted with palm trees facing the water as a string duo performed romantic melodies. At last, the bride made her way down the aisle lined with lanterns on the arm of her father to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” to meet Tyler at the altar. The spot for the vow exchange was marked with an antique wooden table adorned with a custom cross that was bedecked in rich green moss and bound with Southern vines and oyster shells. To complete the look, an exquisite floral garland of vanilla hydrangeas and over 1,000 white garden roses cascaded to the ground, framing the bride and groom as they became husband and wife. 

Following the vow exchange, guests enjoyed an alfresco cocktail hour before making their way into the reception space. Loved ones were seated atop golden chairs with ivory cushions that surrounded one large estate table strewn with raspberry silk and decorated with “all the Lowcountry elements,” explains the bride of the design inspired by the oysters, blue herons, and egrets that graced the décor. 

Florals featured garden roses, hydrangeas, orchids, spray roses, and other varieties in colorful tones as well as delicate ferns. An antique porcelain vase displaying sculpted birds at the base was filled with towering orange blossoms in the center, while the length of the table showcased unique additions: elegant patterned china nestled in the flowers, whimsical oyster shells, flickering taper candles, and porcelain crane figurines. Each guest’s place setting included a rose medallion charger plate, a gilded oyster shell in lieu of a traditional place card, a monogrammed hemstitch napkin, and a single orchid. Overhead, a large chandelier embellished with verdure and orchids created a wow-factor. 

Despite some unfortunate impacts of event restrictions, the pair’s smaller soirée provided the opportunity to incorporate some more personal elements throughout the romantic day. Mary and Tyler were still able to share a memorable first dance to “Burning Love” by Elvis Presley and “because there were only 15 people at the wedding, we were able to use the wedding china that we had registered for and old family silver pieces for serving,” smiles the bride. 

Of course, the newlyweds wish they could have spent the special day with their initial 250-person guest list, yet they’re thankful to have been able to celebrate with such an intimate group of loved ones and would not change a single aspect of their nuptials. Mary muses, “For a 15-person Covid wedding, it was perfect.”