Sporty couple Caroline Henderson and Eric Dowd married late last year, and when it came to planning their wedding, Caroline, a nurse, and Eric, a tax director, knew that there was one important criterion for their special day: It had to be fun! Since they lead busy lives with hectic schedules, their wedding day needed to be something stress-free and relaxing for everyone involved. (And possibly include a Slip N’ Slide.) The Bluffton, South Carolina-based couple chose to marry in Charlotte, the city where they met, and they knew they wanted their wedding to reflect their lives, their joys and their sparkling personalities.
Eric and Caroline have a classic meeting story. A mutual friend introduced the pair one night at a favorite watering hole, Selwyn Avenue Pub. “Eric had been playing golf with a friend who was visiting, and I was out with a girlfriend for the night,” Caroline shares. “My friend introduced us.” While the group of friends mingled, Eric and Caroline started a private conversation to get to know each other. There was a spark, and he asked for her phone number at the end of the night.
“Eric initiated the first date and asked me to go to dinner one night the following week,” Caroline says. “We ended up going to Heist Brewery in NoDa, then got frozen yogurt at Menchie’s.”
This first date treat showed how smitten Eric already was for Caroline. He doesn’t like frozen yogurt (and, according to the couple, hasn’t eaten it since that day), but happily went for his date. “He was trying to impress me,” Caroline says. “I love ice cream and frozen yogurt, so I loved the idea of going to Menchie’s and thought it was something he liked to do.” (Luckily for Caroline, Eric doesn’t mind a trip for a sweet or two for her.)
The date went well, and as time went on, Eric got the seal of approval from one important member of the family: Caroline’s rescue pup Lily. “I remember thinking that if he didn’t mesh with my dog, he wouldn’t last long!” Caroline shares. “It didn’t take long for him to start loving her, and now he’s definitely wrapped around her little paw.”
The proposal was a perfect surprise — and a family affair. The future groom had big proposal plans for a special trip to Sea Island, GA, where he planned to pop the question. But when he saw the ring, he knew he couldn’t wait. The couple shares that the thought of holding onto the ring and not giving it to Caroline was going to drive Eric crazy, so he arranged for a local surprise. Reaching out to Caroline’s sister and parents, Eric arranged for a dinner at the exclusive Charlotte City Club. His parents made the journey from Rocky Mount, NC, as well. Caroline thought they were only meeting her brother for dinner, and she was looking forward to eating a good meal.
“Eric thought I knew what was going on, but I honestly had NO clue,” Caroline says. “I was about to have nursing school exams the following week, so I had been so focused on school and sleep-deprived that I was not thinking about a proposal at all.”
The groom-to-be arranged for the ring box to be hidden in a basket of bread. The wait staff stalled when the couple arrived so that the family could all gather in a separate room. “Eric and I got to the City Club, and my brother and his wife were ‘running late,’ as far as I knew,” Caroline says. The couple ordered drinks and waited. “When they brought the bread out, I took a piece and passed it to Eric so he could have some, and I didn’t notice the ring box in the basket,” Caroline continues. “I thought it was a covered butter dish. Silly me!”
When Caroline finally noticed the box, she couldn’t believe it. Eric told her to open it, and when she did, she found another surprise.
“There was a little piece of paper where the ring was supposed to be,” Caroline says. “I opened it, and it said, ‘I will let Eric have a Slip N’ Slide at my wedding.’ There were two boxes with ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ next to them.” Caroline was quick to grab a pen and check “yes,” and when she did, Eric got out of his seat, kneeled down and took the ring out of his jacket pocket. Of course, she said yes.
“We hugged and kissed, and everyone in the room started clapping!” Caroline says. “Then the waiter walked over and told us they had a table set up for us in a private room so we could have dinner, just the two of us. We got up and walked down the hall, and when they opened the door to the room, our families were there to surprise us. Eric had planned it that way, but I had no idea they would all be there! It was the best night ever!”
The couple decided to have their dream wedding in Charlotte. Though they currently call South Carolina home, Caroline grew up as a member of Myers Park Presbyterian Church and having the ceremony there was a homecoming. The stone church is nearly a century old, and the stunning stained glass windows in the austere sanctuary gave their wedding day a classic elegance.
“We wanted the wedding to reflect our personalities and likes,” Caroline says. But the most important thing for the couple were the people who attended. “We both wanted the day to be relaxing, spent with our wedding parties just getting ready.”
The bridesmaids wore gauzy light blue gowns that reflected the soft peach and muted sage colors of their bouquets. Including her maid of honor, Sarah Ellen Henderson Lacke, Caroline was surrounded by six of her nearest and dearest. Elizabeth Thorne Henderson, Hollis Johnston Lumpkin, Katherine Stuart Ehringhaus, Laura Elizabeth Dowd, and Polly Westerberg Ash accompanied the bride pre-ceremony to leisurely prepare for the day. Caroline’s mother Elaine Henderson helped the bride into her dress, an organza and lace Mikaella Bridal creation found at Fabulous Frocks in Charleston, SC. The dress was found on a trip with both the bride’s mother and sister, and fit like a dream.
“I envisioned something classic with little embellishment, no stones or jewels, and knew I wanted at least some lace on the dress,” Caroline says. “I loved the higher neckline with the scalloped trim and lower-cut back, and the beautiful lace train that circled around me on the floor.”
For their reception venue, the couple chose Myers Park Country Club, which also had familial ties. “My parents are members,” Caroline says. “It is really beautiful and a wonderful place for a wedding. Eric and I had spent a lot of time by the pool and having dinner and drinks there with my family, so it is special to us as well.” Myers Park Country Club is one of the oldest in Charlotte, and was an ideal party location for the multiple family members traveling into town. The interior allowed for string lighting and ample room for dancing to a live band. The couple was clear in their wedding vision: It had to be fun!
Given their love for the outdoors and the beach, it’s no surprise that they chose the band Right To Party, specializing in beach tunes, Motown, jazz and oldies for their live entertainment. “We both wanted a fun band that played beach music and party dance music that would encourage everyone to get on the dance floor and get involved in the crowd,” Caroline says.
The reception kicked off with a light cocktail hour. The décor shined under glowing strings of lights across the ceiling. Large bouquets of pale pinks and sage greens graced the tabletops and matched the bridal party flowers. In the center of the dining room in a place of honor was the cake, made by a family friend.
“We also wanted a good selection of food that would appeal to a wide variety of tastes and not be too fussy,” Caroline shares. “Near the top of my list was the cake — as I LOVE cake — and knew I wanted Kathy Allen of Kathy Allen Cakes to make my cake. She is a longtime friend’s mom and was one of the first people I contacted other than family to let her know Eric and I were engaged and we wanted her to make our cake!”
After first dances and champagne toasts, guests danced and dined to live music, waving glow-in-the-dark necklaces and rocking glow-in-the-dark sunglasses. The bride and groom took to the dance floor to share in wearing the colorful gear, as friends took pictures tagged with the wedding’s hashtag, #vowtobeadowd. A wave of sparklers was lit to welcome the couple into their new life, and the pair hopped in their car to travel to one more familiar locale: Selwyn Pub, the place they met. The bride even wore her dress to the pub for the after-wedding festivities.
Despite a checked “yes” to the request, no Slip N’ Slide was present at the official shindig, but we’re sure the couple will find a place for it in the future.
Congratulations, Caroline and Eric! We wish you a lifetime of wedded bliss!
Ceremony location: Myers Park Presbyterian Church
Reception location: Myers Park Country Club
Photography: Piper Warlick Photography
Bridal gown: Fabulous Frocks of Charleston, SC (Mikaella Bridal #1959)
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Bella Bridesmaids
Bridal party hair: Hair and Makeup by Rebekah
Bride’s makeup: Leann Kiger
Groom’s and groomsmen’s suits: Joseph A. Bank
Flowers: In Bloom
Wedding Coordinator: Alexis Rosica at Myers Park Country Club
Invitations and programs: Arzberger Stationers
Catering/cake: Kathy Allen Cakes
Music: EastCoast Entertainment/Right to Party
Lighting: Wink Lighting
Rehearsal dinner: Byron’s South End
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