You could say that when Natalie Williams, an editing team manager at Research Square, first met John Paul Hudson (JP), owner of Sneaker, a boutique in Charleston, South Carolina, the pair were sole-mates (sorry—we couldn’t help ourselves!). “I had spent the day at the beach with a friend, who mentioned that he needed to go to Sneaker to drop off a few marketing materials for an upcoming event,” remembers Natalie. “JP and I had great conversation that felt very natural and easy.” The two quickly connected on social media, which eventually led to their first date a week later at Leon’s Oyster Shop.
Ten months later, the duo found themselves celebrating two major milestones. “JP proposed on the first night we moved in together,” explains Natalie. Using details from a previous conversation Natalie had had with JP’s mom about a purse she had been coveting, JP used the intel to his advantage on the night of the proposal. “I thought I could trick her by hiding the ring in the bag and boxes from the purse brand, so my mom let me borrow a few of the necessary items,” says JP. “I don’t even remember what he said, but I said ‘yes!’ very happily,” remembers Natalie.
Prior to JP popping the question, Natalie had bought several of the couple’s favorite charcuterie items to celebrate their new move. Little did Natalie know that “in sickness and in health” was a vow that would foreshadow the night of their engagement story. “The really funny part of that night—and perhaps too much information—is that we both overindulged on cheese, olives, bread and lobster and woke up sweating and sick in the middle of the night! A night to remember, for sure!” recalls Natalie.
Onwards and upwards though! After a quick recovery, the couple dove into wedding planning. The landed on Lowndes Grove as their wedding venue early on in the process. “We selected Lowndes Grove because it’s located in our neighborhood and has always been a favorite spot of ours for walks,” says Natalie. “We both grew up coming to Charleston on vacation, and aesthetically the venue embodies everything we love about the city.” The historic architecture of the building was a unique backdrop to some of the event’s more modern décor elements which wedding planner Katie Poole, of The Burlap Elephant, sprinkled throughout the reception to reflect Natalie and JP’s shared eclectic style. “We complemented the rustic farm tables with rose gold flatware and used modern fonts for the day-of materials,” Natalie explains.
Unlike most brides, Natalie found that it was love at first sight when it came to her dress. “I initially saw the Marchesa gown on Pinterest,” says Natalie. “And after trying on many dresses in Charleston, I knew I had to find this dress.” After successfully locating the gown at Gabriella Bridal in Soho, the bride-to-be took her mom to New York to scoop it up. “We both started crying when I tried it on and knew it was definitely the dress I’d be wearing on my wedding day,” Natalie remembers.
For her jewelry and makeup, the bride stuck to her love of all things classic and simple with a borrowed pair of diamond studs from a family friend’s jewelry store, Nice Ice, in Charleston and a bold red lip. “It was so fun for me because I don’t wear much makeup normally, and it just added something indescribable to my feeling that day,” she says.
As for the groom, JP circled back to one of his favorite menswear stores, Billy Reid, utilizing their Made to Measure program to create a custom suit complete with a cream silk lining and a unique waterbird pattern. Personalizing his look even further, the groom walked down the aisle in Adidas Y3 sneakers by Yohji Yamamoto, an ode to his love for Japanese design.
The wedding ceremony was a modified traditional Jewish ceremony, officiated by one of the groom’s closest family friends, Rabbi Celso Cukierkorn. “We modified the traditional ceremony because I’m not Jewish, which was a great way to personalize the ceremony and strengthen what it mean to us,” says Natalie. “We started the ceremony by acknowledging the loss of my dad and JP’s brother—it was a very emotional day for both of us for many reasons. We used the traditional vows, but also read from the chapter “On Marriage” in The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran to represent how we want to live in our marriage together. We ended the ceremony by stomping on the glass—I couldn’t get it to break, so JP had to take over!”
A tented reception followed the ceremony, featuring picturesque waterfront views from the main house of their historic venue. Before celebrating their first dance as husband and wife with Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe,” the groom’s dad, and the bride’s mom, recited toasts that gave a lasting impression. “My mom said JP was such a ‘love muffin,’ which has stuck as his new nickname by everyone who attended,” Natalie laughs. A three-course meal featuring bouche crab cake and braised short ribs preceded the decadent dessert. “Our cake was naked and layered with hazelnut, espresso and raspberry tiers,” explains Natalie. “At the end of the night, we had a ‘late night pass’ of truffle fries, mini sliders, and vanilla milkshakes!”
Making sure to close out the evening on a colorful note, the newlyweds exited Lowndes Grove in a red and cream vintage VW van. Unwinding with a “minimoon” in Charleston for a few days following the celebration, the couple is getting ready to embark on a honeymoon in Portugal next month.