For years, people had been trying to set up Moda Operandi stylist Alison Lewis and Lyle Passink, director of sales at Limehouse Produce. It started when Ali’s mother’s best friend ran into Lyle at a wedding and encouraged him to send her a Facebook message. Five years later, she was working as a personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman, when one of her clients walked in with Lyle’s mom. “I was leaving town for Atlanta that evening to celebrate Mother’s Day,” Ali remembers. “After landing, I had several voicemails explaining that Lyle would be flying in from Charleston to take me out.” During their date, Ali mentioned that his name sounded familiar, and when he mentioned this wasn’t the first time they had tried to get them to meet, she later checked her Facebook account and discovered an unread message from him from all those years earlier. Better late than never!
A little over two years passed and one weekend the couple was staying at Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina for a friend’s wedding, when Lyle suggested the two of them do the puzzle his mother had sent them as a Hanukkah gift. When they first opened the box, they noticed it was a puzzle of a photo of the two of them—“something Rhonda would gift us,” Ali says—and once they started finishing it, Ali noticed a few pieces were missing. Lyle then added the final three pieces that read: “Ali, will you marry me?” He got down on one knee and proposed. The two celebrated that night with a cocktail in their pajamas by the fire, and the next morning were greeted by their parents for breakfast on the property.
After initially booking Palmetto Bluff as their venue, the couple had a change of heart and decided it would be more fun to invite their closest friends and family to their hometown of Charleston. “After visiting the Dewberry’s rooftop and confirming that we could have the ceremony overlooking all of Charleston, we knew we had found our wedding venue,” she says. They hired planner Blake Sams of Gregory Blake Sams Events and together came up with a modern, elegant aesthetic for the evening.
As a fashion stylist, Ali originally had her heart set on a pale gray Marchesa dress, but later decided to try on an Anne Barge design her mother had found at White on Daniel Island bridal boutique. “I slipped into the sample at a local boutique and immediately fell in love with its grand Southern appeal,” she says. For the reception, Ali later slipped into a Vera Wang dress she sourced from—where else?—Moda Operandi. “I happened upon it when it was in our Upper East Side townhouse, Moda Madison,” she explains. She finished off her look with Jimmy Choo shoes, heirloom drop earrings that once belonged to Lyle’s late grandmother, and a cathedral length veil. The groom meanwhile wore a Canali tuxedo, Ferragamo shoes, a custom shirt, and diamond engraved cufflinks that belonged to Lyle’s grandfather.
On October 6, the couple gathered at the rooftop of the Dewberry for a ceremony officiated by Ali’s former childhood day school headmaster, Rabbi Steven Ballaban. Following Jewish tradition, their families wrapped them in a tallit that dated back to Ali’s great, great paternal grandfather. “The breeze on the rooftop mixed with the beautiful sunset provided the absolute, most magical ceremony setting,” the bride says. “To be standing there with my very best friend, knowing that we are going to spend the rest of lives together—there’s no better feeling.”
After the ceremony, guests were taken over to the opposite side of the rooftop to enjoy the sunset and some of The Dewberry’s signature cocktails. From there, they made their way to the downstairs courtyard for dinner, where hundreds of candles and floral arrangements by florist Sara York Grimshaw decorated the outdoor atmosphere. After a three-course dinner and a toast by the father of the bride, everyone moved on to the ballroom for cake and dancing, while the bride was quickly ushered upstairs for a surprise outfit change—and haircut! “Go big or go home,” Ali says. “I slipped into my robe, sat in a chair, and my uber talented hair stylist, Patrick Navarro, performed what I am certain was the quickest haircut of his career. Eight inches and ten minutes later, I slipped into my second look and hurried downstairs for the cake cutting.”
Instead of a traditional tiered wedding cake, the couple opted instead for an Italian millefoglie created by the Dewberry’s pastry chef, who blew the couple away with a 48” round masterpiece. As for their first dance, Lyle had chosen Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.” “The first dance is a complete blur to me,” says Ali. “I was so caught up in all of the emotion, trying to take it all in.” Towards the end of the reception. Ali says she noticed everyone had traded in their heels for hotel slippers, gowns tied up in knots, and a groomsman had even split his pants mid-dance move. “To me, this is the aftermath of an epic dance party,” she says. “Most importantly, Lyle looked so so happy, which made my heart explode!”