On a clear April evening, as the sun dipped low over Kiawah Island, Sarah Kana and Spencer Lacey held hands and promised to love each other forever. Their lives leading up to that moment on Kiawah had many parallels. Sarah and Spencer were both born in Washington DC in the same year before their families moved South — she to Spartanburg, SC, and he to Birmingham, AL. They both grew up skiing in Vail, and they both returned to DC after college to begin their careers. But it wasn’t until they found themselves on a party bus heading to a Phish concert that their parallel paths finally intersected, and they fell in love.

Sarah Kana and Spencer Lacey chose idyllic Kiawah Island as the setting for their April 2018 wedding.

They’d been together for several years when Spencer surprised Sarah by whisking her away on a relaxing weekend getaway to Key Largo, FL. After spending the day poolside, Spencer suggested going for a drive in the golf cart before dinner at the Islander. “I was suspicious, but I could tell he didn’t have a ring box anywhere on his person or in the golf cart, so I didn’t really think it was going to happen,” Sarah says. Halfway through the ride, they pulled over so Spencer could show Sarah one of the holes on the golf course that is completely enveloped by mangroves. He got down on one knee, pulled the ring from his pocket, and asked Sarah to be his wife. She happily said yes, utterly shocked by Spencer’s sneaky ring placement. “I could not believe he had the ring loose like that!” Sarah says. After a sweet moment together among the mangroves, they celebrated with drinks on the point, a beautiful dinner and joyous phone calls to family and friends to share the happy news.

Beautiful Kiawah Island was the perfect setting for the refined and relaxed celebration Sarah and Spencer had in mind — and also had sentimental value for Sarah from summers and weekends spent on the island. After Sarah and her sister both moved to DC after college, it became easier to fly to Charleston and hop over to the family home on Kiawah than to travel back to their hometown of Spartanburg, so Kiawah became a home base of sorts. “Kiawah is a special place for my family and has become a special place for Spencer as well,” Sarah says. “I wanted our guests (we had friends and family come from as far as Europe and California) to be somewhere where they could enjoy the wedding outside of our wedding festivities and make a little trip out of our wedding if they wanted to.”

RELATED: The Most Beautiful Bouquet You’ve Ever Seen: An Outdoor North Carolina Wedding to Swoon Over

The bride found herself surprisingly calm the morning of her wedding day, a fact which she contributes in large part to her beloved wedding coordinators, Mariée Ami. “I’m so glad that we had Mariée Ami with us for our wedding weekend,” Sarah says. “They took care of everything for us which allowed us to relax and fully enjoy every moment. Julia and Neillie were so sweet and had everything I needed before I could even ask.”

Sarah donned an absolutely show-stopping Vera Wang gown.

Gorgeous wedding day details

These sweet girls were all smiles getting ready for the ceremony.

Sarah shared the morning with some of the most special women in her life.

Sarah puts on the finishing touches before going to meet her groom for their first look.

Isn’t Sarah’s Vera Wang gown to-die-for? Sarah’s mother and sister accompanied her on her wedding dress shopping trip to Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Washington, DC. “I knew I didn’t want any traditional lace, and I didn’t think I wanted a full skirt or really anything tulle-like, but I fell in love with the unique laser-cut floral organza layer and the structural bodice of my dress, so I tried it on just for fun and loved it,” Sarah says. “I also loved that I could have two different looks by switching up the grosgrain ribbon belt.” But it still wasn’t an easy decision, so she decided to sleep on it. After a week Sarah went back with her sister to try the dress on again, just to be sure. “When I tried it on again it just felt right: girly, but a little free-spirited.”

Sweet wedding day love letters and excited smiles.

Kiawah Island proves to be a perfect backdrop for a wedding.

Spencer can’t help but smile when he sees beautiful Sarah in her wedding gown for the first time!

We love how a first look can take some of the pressure off of a day filled with emotions. This moment between the bride and groom is beyond sweet.

Beautiful bridesmaids in gowns the color of the inside of an oyster shell – Sarah pulled much of her inspiration for the day from the Lowcountry setting.

Does it get better than a dashing group of groomsmen in black tuxedos?

A picture-perfect wedding party

Sarah, a consummate hostess and decorator, was truly in her element while planning the wedding and relied on inspiration both from Pinterest and from beautiful weddings she’d previously attended. “I knew that I didn’t want anything to be too over-the-top or trendy, and I wanted us, our friends and family and the setting to be the focal point,” Sarah says. She aimed for decor with a relaxed, “special occasion at home” vibe and pulled her neutral color palette from the Lowcountry setting. Oyster-colored bridesmaids dresses and lush bouquets featuring white blooms and delicate sprigs of greenery complemented the setting without competing with it. “I like color, but no color that wasn’t in the surrounding nature felt worthy of being on our tables, in my bouquet or on my bridesmaids,” Sarah says. These natural elements, from the wooden chairs on the lawn for the ceremony to the sweetgrass bands on the wedding cake all gave subtle nods to the dreamy island location.

RELATED: Marie Stitt & Edward Crouse’s Farm Wedding & Bottega Reception

The weather was truly perfect for this outdoor wedding.

“I love the architecture and interior design of the clubhouse, and I especially love the beautiful landscape of the South Carolina Lowcountry,” Sarah says. “So I really wanted to highlight what I already had to work with.”

Among Sarah’s favorite details from the day were in the artwork featured throughout the wedding suite and the day. “Champagne Maker, the mother of one of one of my best friends, did several watercolor paintings for us including a wreathed duogram, a map of Kiawah, the birds that are seen all over the island and a marsh scene with two egrets — one for the bride and one for the groom,” Sarah says.

“One item on my dream wedding wish list was to have a gospel group singing during our ceremony. I found the Magnolia Singers through the club’s wedding coordinator,” Sarah says. “When I spoke with Ann Caldwell of the group on the phone, she sang to me and I teared up and knew I would compromise anything else to have them sing during our ceremony and cocktail hour.”

With the Magnolia Singers performing “I Will Always Love You,” by Whitney Houston, Sarah and her father walked down the aisle toward the groom.

Is there a more idyllic coastal setting than this one? This ceremony location is a dream.

Mr. and Mrs. Lacey exchange vows and share their first kiss!

Recessing up the aisle as husband and wife, Sarah and Spencer are all smiles.

These two lovebirds were meant to be. “Our parents, and most of our aunts and uncles, also met each other, started dating and got engaged in DC, and I love the commonalities between our story and theirs,” Sarah says.

Sarah and Spencer steal away for some photos after the ceremony.

“Enjoy your engagement season!” Sarah says. “I can’t believe we’re already married. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the planning and logistics.”

These two are a dream.

Those relaxed post-ceremony smiles are always beyond heart melting, and these two are no exception!

After much careful planning, Sarah awoke the morning of the wedding completely calm and excited for the day ahead. “I had always imagined that I would be a little anxious on my wedding day — I think every bride wakes up to a few wedding-related nightmares during their engagement — but I have honestly never felt more at peace,” Sarah says. “I know this has to do with how secure I feel with Spencer and how ready I was to marry him, but it definitely had a lot to do with Mariée Ami being at my side.” With the Mariée Ami team handling all of the little details, Sarah was free to soak up every special moment of her wedding day. She spent the morning getting ready alongside the most important women in her life and then met her groom for their first look under a canopy of trees draped in Spanish moss.

At 5:30 in the evening on April 21, 2018, 200 friends and family members got to their feet as the Magnolia Singers rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” rang out over the gorgeous vista at The River Course on Kiawah Island, and the bride made her way down the aisle on her father’s arm. The ceremony was intimate and beautiful as the pastor led Sarah and Spencer as they exchanged vows and rings. They were pronounced husband and wife and shared their first kiss as Mr. and Mrs. Lacey.

The reception began with cocktail hour on the gorgeous lawn overlooking The River Course. A delicious seated dinner followed, which was a top priority for Sarah and Spencer when planning the wedding. “Seated dinners do take away from some of the time you would get to visit with everyone otherwise, but it was so nice to be able to sit down and soak everything in and have longer conversations,” Sarah says. After a wonderful meal, toasts to the new Mr. and Mrs. and cutting the cake, the bride and groom hit the dance floor to dance to, appropriately, “Tide Turns” by the band that originally brought them together five years before — Phish. They danced all night and exited the reception under a shower of rose petals.

Cocktail hour on the lawn featured divine passed hors d’oeuvres including shrimp, cucumber and dill butter canapés; bruschetta; and mini crab cakes with chili lime aioli – perfectly scrumptious bites featuring coastal flavors.

Gorgeous arrangements with abundant greenery elevated the dining room without being too fussy.

The bride and groom share their first dance to a song by Phish, the band that brought them together in the first place.

Sarah and Spencer’s five-tiered wedding cake with traditional white vanilla almond buttercream frosting featured three flavors: lemon curd, Italian cream and carrot. Bands of frosting were crafted to look like the sweetgrass baskets synonymous with the South Carolina Lowcountry. “I think the history of the baskets is so interesting, and I love how they look,” Sarah says.

The bride and groom sneak a quick smooch after cutting their wedding cakes!

This groom’s cake is definitely one of our favorites of all time. Both Spencer and Sarah grew up skiing in Vail, so Sarah designed a cake with Ashley Bakery featuring a few of their favorite runs – and a miniature fondant version of their puppy, too!

Sarah’s best advice for brides-to-be: take dance lessons with your groom! “Spencer and I took a few dance lessons before our wedding, and I loved it,” Sarah says. “Even if you and your fiancé don’t need them, take them. It was such a nice time for us to spend together, just dancing and holding each other and thinking about how special our wedding was going to be — and it was!”

A golf cart draped in greenery is the perfect getaway for a Kiawah Island wedding.

The bride and groom are showered with rose petals as they exit the reception.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful day with us, Sarah and Spencer! Cheers to many happy years ahead!

RESOURCES:

**********

For more gorgeous wedding inspiration, click here.

Share with your friends!