Our Wedding Day in Charleston

Our Wedding Day in Charleston

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This post has been a long time coming! I can’t believe that Patrick and I have been married for 7 months now. So without further ado…

Our wedding day truly feels like it was a dream that I had (the most wonderful kind). Having everyone that we love in one place to celebrate with us as we begin this new chapter of our lives as husband and wife could not have been a more special, once-in-a lifetime feeling. We will treasure the memories from our weekend in Charleston for the rest of our lives. I know it will not be THE best day of our lives, but it was without a doubt the best day so far.

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Friday morning, Patrick and I started our wedding day with an early morning jog around Charleston together- one of our favorite ways to start most mornings. We were just missing our pup Denny who usually comes along. We jogged by the fountain and waterfront park, and then down through rainbow row to the battery. On our way back we grabbed smoothies for breakfast.

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The girls got ready at our reception venue, Legare Waring House. Legare is a beautiful old estate house and grounds within the historic Charles Towne Landing park.  The house has several bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs, which made it the perfect getting-ready location for us with plenty of space for hair and makeup. My Dad picked up Publix sub platters for us to snack on for lunch. One of the hardest parts of planning a destination wedding was that I felt like I was was choosing all of these little details, and it was so hard to envision how everything would come together. It was really special to be there to watch everything get set up and unfold throughout the day.

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Patrick and his groomsmen got ready at the DoubleTree where we were staying along with our wedding party. The picture above is him opening his wedding gift from me, a monogrammed leather passport cover to take on our honeymoon. His gift to me was a sketch of my wedding dress that he had an artist design for me (with the help of my sister’s coordination, since he had not seen my dress until that day).

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Our ceremony took place at Saint Luke’s Chapel in downtown Charleston. We kept the tradition of seeing each other for the first time at the church. I walked down the aisle with my dad to the instrumental version of “Thinking out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. Patrick and I wrote our own vows and recited them to one another, which was one of the most nerve-wracking but special moments of the whole day. We had a getaway car planned to take us from the church over to the reception, but it broke down on the side of the highway and the bus transporting our guests had to swing back around to pick us up. But hey, that’s good luck right? We didn’t get any rain that day, so I’ll take it!

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We had a big wedding party! Our siblings were our maid of honor and best man, and in addition we had 14 total bridesmaids and groomsmen.

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Our cocktail hour was on Legare’s side lawn overlooking the lagoon. We had Florida and Cornell beanbag toss to represent our Alma maters. My other favorite details from cocktail hour were our personalized drink koozies and the delicious biscuit bar, an ode to Charleston’s southern roots. At the end of cocktail hour, Patrick’s parents offered us bread followed by a shot of vodka in a Polish tradition that represents both the joy and challenges that marriage brings.

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Our reception was on the back patio at Legare underneath a tent lit with string lights and chandeliers. Dinner was served family style for a more laid-back dinner party vibe. Everyone shared salmon, short rib, and the best part of the meal– grits!

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After dinner came the dancing and toasts. Patrick and I danced to “Yours” by Russel Dickerson (a country tune). Our first dance was so much fun and one of my favorite parts of our wedding day. Our maid of honor and best man gave speeches that had us mildly embarrassed and in stitches.

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In addition to a vanilla and red velvet wedding cake, we had pecan pies and peach cobbler for some southern flare. Our baker also made us Polish Waffle, a nod to Patrick’s Polish heritage.

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We really wanted the feel of our wedding day to be a big dance party, and it was definitely that! And a sweaty one too. It was an unusually warm day for late September, but everyone made the best of it and danced their hearts out with us. At the very end of the night we had Deep River chips as a snack. Not pictured here– the after party at Bay Street Biergarten that continued until 2 am!

It’s completely true when everyone tells you that your wedding day will go by in one big blur of excitement and emotion. We did our best to soak in every moment, and overall couldn’t have asked for a better celebration with our family and friends.

Rehearsal and Pre-wedding festivities

Rehearsal and Pre-wedding festivities

Hello from the new Mrs. Robak! We’re back from our wedding weekend and honeymoon, and I have so much to share. Just as everyone told us it would be, our wedding day, and the entire weekend really, were a completely magical whirlwind that I wish I could relive over and over. We cannot wait to get back the photos and the video to replay every detail and moment.

Patrick and I arrived to Charleston that Wednesday in the late afternoon. We kicked off the celebrations at JFK. IMG_6575

Thankfully our flight was smooth and we headed straight to check in at the Doubletree downtown Historic District. We were greeted with the Doubletree’s amazing chocolate chip cookies along with our wedding welcome boxes. It didn’t take long for the two of us to head over to Hank’s for a quick oyster shooter.

That evening, we got our families along with a few friends that were in town early together for dinner at 5Church, which turned out to be a delicious meal with lots of wine and champagne inside a restaurant that was an old church. It was so much fun to kick off the celebrations with that small group and our families.

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Thursday was rehearsal day. We started off the morning with a quick workout and breakfast at the hotel, and then I went off to get my nails done with my sister Rachel, new sister-in-law Magda, and soon to be sister-in-law Kat, who is marrying Patrick’s brother (not pictured here). Shortly after this photo taken we had a bit of a fiasco when the champagne bottle bounced off Magda’s arm rest and splashed all over the floor and our nail technicians. Oops!

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That afternoon we had a quick lunch at Eli’s Table with friends before heading back to the hotel to get ready for our rehearsal. I had the most amazing salad with grilled shrimp on it. I’d love to come back here some time and order there shrimp and grits because I just know it’d be to-die for!

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Patrick arranged for this adorable trolley to pick us up for the rehearsal at Saint Luke’s Chapel and then it transported our crew over to 39 Rue de Jean, where Patrick’s parents hosted the most wonderful dinner for us.

Here are most of my bridesmaids and our flower girls waiting for the trolley.

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You can find my rehearsal dress here. I love shopping at Revolve because of their free two day shipping and how easy they make returns (I am the queen of returns).

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39 Rue De Jean has an open, private space above the restaurant with beautiful exposed beam ceilings and a rustic feel that went perfectly with our Charleston wedding. The food was amazing and the wine was flowing. We ate she-crab soup, salad, pecan encrusted chicken, and of course the Charleston quintessential- shrimp and grits.

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Patrick’s parents welcomed everyone and gave the sweetest speech before dinner.

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My sister put together a slide show of photos of Patrick and I growing up and then getting together, which had a lot of the room teary-eyed. Then Patrick got up to thank our parents and the tears really got going.

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After dinner, we headed back to the Doubletree for our welcome gathering.

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I was so overwhelmed to see how many of our family and friends were there waiting for us! This was the first moment when it really hit me that all these people from all aspects of our lives and all over the country were here for Patrick and I. I am still so overwhelmed and thankful to all of the people that traveled to be with us that weekend.

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9 questions to ask before choosing a wedding venue

9 questions to ask before choosing a wedding venue

As of today, I’m exactly 42 days out (but who’s counting…?!) from walking down the aisle to marry the love of my life and my fiance, Patrick. Since I’m deep in the trenches of the wedding planning process, I thought I’d share some of the wisdom I’d like to think I’ve acquired.

No less than 5 minutes after our engagement (during the phone call to my family to share the exciting news), the questions started about when and where we would tie the knot. This was no doubt the biggest and, for us, the most stress-inducing decision we had to make. Having a list of important criteria so that we could weigh our options really helped us narrow it down.

Before we get to the nitty-gritty, the very first step when choosing your venue is to think about the overall look and feel you want for your wedding day: Do you want a chic ballroom wedding or a laid-back backyard dinner party? Do you envision getting married overlooking a beautiful vineyard or on a sandy shoreline, or is your and your fiance’s style more industrial chic warehouse? Considering the overall vibe and level of formality that you want for your day will help you narrow down your search criteria. Once you figure out your theme, get to searching on The Knot for well-reviewed venues by your category. After a lot of online research and visiting a handful of venues in New York, we had our hearts set on a destination wedding in Charleston, South Carolina. I had all the heart eyes for the quintessential outdoor, mossy oak trees of the South, so we booked our flights for a weekend in Chucktown and saw no less than 10 venues in one day. In order to get this all accomplished in a short weekend trip, I made a spreadsheet of each location I was interested in, and then had the below criteria as columns to compare them by. I was actually able to find almost all of this information online! Any blank spaces I had, I asked about during our appointment.

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  • What is the maximum guest count?

    This is a pretty obvious one, but it’s also a make or break. I would highly suggest coming up with your guest list prior to really digging in to your venue search. Right after we got engaged, my fiance and I agreed we wanted a “laid-back, small wedding” but when we got to actually writing our guest list, we quickly saw how our large families and extended families alone added up! Take the time to actually write your list (it doesn’t have to be a final version) to at least get an idea of how many people you need to plan to accommodate for.

  • What space options are there for the various parts of your wedding day?

    Where will cocktail hour be held, and if you are not planning a church ceremony, are there options to hold the ceremony and reception all in one spot? Think about how you can utilize the different available spaces for ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.

  • What is the availability of the venue?

    Even though I wasn’t dead set on a spring wedding per say, I was shocked at how far in advance venues book up! I kept a pretty open mind and listed all possible date options. However, if you’re set on a Saturday wedding in the fall, you can immediately rule out some of your venue selection. Or if you want an outdoor wedding in the South (like we did!) July and August are pretty much a no-go.

  • What is the peak versus off peak cost for the venue?

    What about Friday vs. Saturday or Sunday? Depending on where you are getting married, there may be different prices based on the demand of the season and day of the week. For us, spring and fall were considered “peak season” and because Charleston gets so hot during the summer, that was “off peak”. Certain venues may offer lower prices on a Friday or Sunday versus a Saturday wedding.

  • What is included in the rental cost?

    Some venues like country clubs typically include a bundled package where the cost of the venue, the furniture, catering, bar, and maybe even a coordinator are all wrapped into one. Outdoor or more non-traditional venues may just offer you the bare bones location and you bring in the rest. Find out exactly what is included in the price you’re being quoted.

  • What other costs will be associated with this venue?

    Think about the additional costs you’re going to incur. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, will you need to rent a tent and dance floor? If your venue is not all-inclusive, will you need to bring in rental furniture, plates, flatware, glassware, etc.? Does your venue have any requirements as far as hiring a wedding planner? These costs add up quicker than you’d think!

  • What other costs will be associated with this venue?

  • Find out what the catering situation is. Some venues have an in-house caterer. If this is the case, find out if there are any food and beverage minimum requirements. Others may provide you with a list of preferred vendors that they like to work with, while some may give you complete freedom to bring the caterer of your choosing.
  • What hours can you reserve the space?

    Find out how early you can start your ceremony or cocktail hour and when you are required to end the party. This was an important one to us, because we found that some venues had earlier end times than we’d like due to city regulations and noise constraints.  If you’re hosting your ceremony in the same location, make sure that you’ll be able to start early enough that the evening won’t feel rushed and you and your guests will get plenty of time on the dance floor.

  • Will you have the space to yourself and will it be open to the public or another event?

    Find out if the venue hosts more than one wedding on the same day. If you’re considering public parks or historic sites, check if they will be closed to visitors during your wedding hours. If having the space to yourself is important to you, this can definitely affect the overall feel and intimacy of your celebration.

What was your biggest contributing factor when committing to a wedding venue? Can you think of any important questions to ask during the process that I missed?