How Chelsea Steadman and Jack Handegan never met before college is pretty much a mystery. The interiors designers at Amelia T. Handegan, Inc., a well-known firm that’s owned and operated by the groom’s mother, are both Charleston natives, and their families have always had a long, intertwined history. (Their paternal grandparents were close friends, who had a long-standing weekly double dinner date, while Chelsea’s father very first job was at store owned by Jack’s uncle.) Somehow the couple never crossed paths until 2010 at the College of Charleston. After Chelsea finished her semester abroad in London, she met Jack when her roommate invited him over to their house to hang out, and the two quickly became inseparable.
They dated for five years until Jack proposed one Saturday morning last April. “He woke up particularly early and offered to pick up breakfast for us,” remembers Chelsea. “As I was about to take my first bite, I noticed the diamond ring in my Chick-fil-A. Jack says he had all sorts of ideas for the proposal ranging from an outing on a boat to bike rides, but he thought everything felt too contrived. He figured nothing could beat Chick-Fil-A delivery, so he proposed in the same room where we had met six years earlier. He got down on one knee, and I said, ‘Yes!’ Of course I was wearing a bathrobe with a towel twisted atop my head!”
Unlike a lot of brides, Chelsea didn’t have any preconceived ideas as to what she wanted her wedding to look like despite the fact that she works in the interior design world. “We initially talked about everything from a backyard wedding at my parents’ house to a destination wedding on Harbour Island,” she remembers. The couple ultimately decided to tie the knot on Kiawah Island, the place where the bride grew up summering. “Cassique, a private club with ancient oaks, manicured gardens, and a clubhouse reminiscent of an English manor seemed like a no-brainer,” says Chelsea. “I have a memory of my dad taking me there when I was 10 or 11 years old; we were walking through the rose garden and he kept saying how it would be a beautiful place for a wedding.”
When searching for her wedding dress, Chelsea fell in love with a hand-beaded Monique Lhuillier gown with a full skirt made out of twenty layers of tulle. Although she wanted to wear the dress all night long, she panicked at the last-minute and ordered a white Alexis midi lace dress to change into later in the evening. “My girlfriends and I were on the dance floor all night, and I completely shredded through the tulle layers of my wedding dress, so I was glad to have a back-up.” For accessories, the bride chose to keep the look natural and true to herself, which meant wearing her everyday jewelry paired with sparkly Gianvito Rossi heels and a petite bouquet of pink spray roses. “I wore my hair down in loose waves and insisted that my makeup artist use only my own makeup. I wanted to look like myself, but the best version of myself.”
Wedding day weather can always be dicey, and while some brides have to contend with a few showers, Chelsea and Jack unfortunately had to deal with a full-fledged hurricane heading straight towards the Charleston coast the week of their big event. “Our planners organized an emergency meeting four days before we were supposed to be married, and we made the difficult decision to cancel the wedding,” she says. “In a span of just a few hours, we alerted all guests of the change in plans, prepared our homes, boarded our windows, and evacuated to inland Georgia with our pets in tow.”
Thankfully, they were able to secure a new wedding date in November at the exact same venue with the same vendors. “We had to deal with some additional challenges like the time change and cooler temperatures,” she adds. “But I really have to hand it to our planners, Heather Barrie and Mary Ruth Tribble of Gathering Events, for how amazing they were throughout the fiasco.”
The ceremony took place in Cassique’s small rose garden, where the bride walked down the aisle to Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Chelsea and Jack were married by their councilman and good friend, Mike Seekings, and since they were losing natural light, decided to keep things short and sweet—the ceremony only lasted six minutes!
Since both the bride and the groom are interior designers, determining the aesthetic of the wedding was a top priority. “There is a juxtaposition between formality and laidback beachiness at Kiawah, and I wanted our wedding to be a reflection of that balance,” she explains. That meant rattan chargers with green cut crystal goblets; centerpieces of garden roses, ranunculus, and kumquats, and a naked cake with berries spilling out of the layers. “I definitely received funny looks at the bakery when I described my dream cake as looking a bit haphazard and like it could topple at any moment,” she says.
While guests enjoyed cocktails and appetizers including mini lobster BLTs, tuna tartare wontons, and smoked duck confit, the rose garden was quickly transformed into an al fresco dinner. Afterwards, guests dined on caramelized micro vegetables, braised short rib, and crab and scallop ravioli.
After cutting the cake, the party moved into the clubhouse, where the couple had their first dance to Van Morrison’s “Sweet Thing.” “We’re both horrible dancers, and even though we signed up for dance lessons, we still managed to butcher the steps!” Chelsea remembers. “But with a little liquid courage and a lot of laughter, we got through it.”
The animated band kept everyone dancing almost until midnight. Guests then bid good-bye to the couple with farewell sparklers, as they made their way into a 1973 Jeep CJ5—the first car they ever bought together. A few weeks later, the newlyweds headed off to St. Barths for their honeymoon, but not before hearing about the late night shenanigans that ensued once they had left their guests on their own at their wedding. “Apparently, the party continued well into the night at my parents’ cottage,” adds Chelsea. “We have yet to identify the culprit responsible for the golf cart vanishing, too!”
Wedding Planning and Design: Heather Barrie and Mary Ruth Tribble, Gathering Events
Photographers: Sean Money and Elizabeth Fay
Videographer: Caitlin Colcolough Films
Officiant: Mike Seekings
Ceremony and Cocktail Musicians: Charleston Virtuosi
Wedding Site and Catering: Cassique Clubhouse
Hair: Ethan Ginn, Urban Nirvana
Makeup: Anne Lauren Jolly
Transportation: Charleston Style Limo
Band: The Time of Your Life, East Coast Entertainment
Cake: Ashley Bakery
Lighting: AV Connections
Linen: La Tavola
Rentals: Snyder Events, Polished, and Ooh Events
Wedding Dress: Maddison Row
Wedding Invitation and Week of Materials: Studio R Design
Calligraphy: Amanda Claire Renfrow
Custom Artwork: Happy Menocal