On May 14, 2016, as the sun dipped low in the sky along the Georgia coast, five years of long distance, patience and love culminated in the gorgeous Sea Island wedding that Holly Simpson and Ryan Sims had carefully planned; it was the beginning of the marriage they had long dreamed of.
This sweet pair met when they were juniors in college at The University of Alabama and Auburn University, respectively — a rivalry that will, of course, come into play on their wedding day. When Holly’s best friend Lauren and Ryan’s best friend Barry started dating, they invited Holly and Ryan along with some other friends out for a weekend on Lake Martin. “Ryan texted me when I was on my way home from the lake that weekend, and we started talking every day from then on,” Holly says. They were a perfect match, and, conveniently, their best friends were as well. Holly and Lauren and Ryan and Barry spent the remainder of their undergraduate years traveling back and forth between Tuscaloosa and Auburn for Sigma Nu date parties and weekends at the lake.
The end of undergrad brought a new chapter in Holly and Ryan’s long-distance saga, as Holly settled in Birmingham for pharmacy school and Ryan moved to Tennessee. Fast-forward through three additional years of long-distance love to the conclusion of Holly’s pharmacy school, when her sister invited Ryan and Holly over for dinner under the guise of a birthday celebration. When Holly arrived, she instead discovered Ryan waiting for her in the backyard with a ring in hand. Holly had mentioned to Ryan long ago that she hoped for a surprise proposal, and a surprise it was!
Both families celebrated over dinner at Ocean, followed by an engagement party, where Ryan had one last surprise in store for his bride-to-be. “Ryan had called Barry a few days before, and he and Lauren came into town that day so they could be there to celebrate with us,” Holly says. “They surprised me by showing up to the celebration that night!” There, with the friends who had been so integral in Holly and Ryan crossing paths in the first place, things really had come full circle.
When it came to planning the wedding, Holly had a clear vision as her starting point. “I have always wanted a spring or summer wedding somewhere coastal,” Holly says. “I wanted a wedding weekend where our guests would all be close to us, and they could view it as a vacation that celebrated our marriage, but that they also would look forward to it and have a fabulous time!”
After first spotting the venue on a wedding blog, she had a feeling that Sea Island, Georgia, would be a good fit for the weekend getaway she had imagined. A visit to the coast with her mother confirmed it: Sea Island was absolutely perfect, and Holly and her mom turned to the talented team at Mariée Ami to help with the details of Holly and Ryan’s perfect day.
Holly chose a romantic, neutral color palette to serve as the perfect understated accent for their refined coastal wedding. Shades of pale peach, pink, cream and white were incorporated throughout the day, from the Bellini-colored chiffon bridesmaids’ dresses, to the lush clusters of white peonies and peach garden roses the girls carried down the aisle and the romantic arrangements that adorned the tables at the reception. An elegant garden ceremony, a gorgeous reception with sweeping views of the coastline and impeccable details thoughtfully curated and perfectly executed by Mariée Ami combined to create a truly special day.
On that pleasant May evening on the Georgia coast, after a year of careful planning, 185 guests gathered in The Cloister Garden at Sea Island to witness Holly and Ryan’s marriage. Dappled evening light filtered through the palm trees and live oaks as a string quartet played and Holly made her way down the aisle. Holly describes the ceremony as sweet and beautiful, the centerpiece of a perfect day spent relaxing, reminiscing and celebrating alongside her groom, closest friends and family members.
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Following the ceremony, guests made their way to a cocktail hour and stunning reception at the beach club at The Cloister. Neutral tones featured in the linens, furnishings and even a white dance floor allowed the incredible setting to shine as the focal point. “It is right on the water, and I loved its ‘classy beachy look,’ with the palm trees, water and the beautiful architecture of The Cloister buildings behind us,” Holly says. “I really wanted to have the Sea Island beach view as the setting for our guests to enjoy, and so we used a clear-top tent that allowed for amazing 360-degree views.” Strings of lights filled the top of the tent, illuminating it with an enchanting glow long into the evening as Holly and Ryan danced and celebrated with their guests.
Cocktail hour featured passed hors d’oeuvres, and guests indulged in low country favorites at the reception, including a raw seafood bar, shrimp and grits station, crab cake station and more. A watermelon and cucumber martini served as the signature drink, and, after hours, the dancing guests were served a late-night snack of sliders and truffle fries.
At the end of their perfect wedding day, Holly and Ryan were showered with rose petals as they headed off into the evening as husband and wife.
A little over one year later, Holly’s best advice for other brides is to enjoy the planning process and then relax and enjoy the week of the wedding itself. “You only get to plan your special day once, and it goes by way too fast,” Holly says. “Everything will be perfect in the end, and all that matters is that you are happily married and you had the best time celebrating!”
Cheers to you, Holly and Ryan! We wish you many years of wedded bliss!
Photography: 6 of Four Photography
Videographer: Mike Cyr of Buzz Media Company
Wedding planner: Mariée Ami
Local planner: Kacee Popa of The Cloister at Sea Island
Wedding dress: Monique Lhuillier from Ivory and White
Wedding day and rehearsal dinner earrings: JA Collections (formerly Jordan Alexander)
Engagement ring and wedding bands: Levy’s Fine Jewelry
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Amsale from Bella Bridesmaids
Groom’s attire: Custom Hickey Freeman tuxedo from Mobley & Sons
Groomsmen’s attire: Mr. Burch Formal Wear
Cake: The Cloister
Flowers: The Vine
Venue: The Cloister
Ceremony: The Cloister Garden at Sea Island
Reception: The Ocean Room – The Beach Club at Sea Island
Rehearsal dinner: The Lodge at Sea Island
Catering: The Cloister
Band: Simply Irresistible of East Coast Entertainment
Hair and makeup: Brittany Massey
Wedding invitation and program: Shelley Kyle of Kyle Fine Stationery
Save the date, cups, koozies and napkins: Mariée Ami
Watercolor map: Caroline Borders of Mariée Ami
Weekender: Alyssa Reeves of Paradise Design Co.
Calligraphy: Boo Owens, (214) 526-3015
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