Shonda and Mark’s Romantic NYE wedding featured lush, jewel-toned florals, a reflective pool, crystals, and elegant gold accents!
They first laid eyes on one another at a Clemson Alumni National Championship Watch Party in Charlotte, NC. A mutual friend introduced them and by the end of the night, they exchanged numbers and have talked every day since.
Mark planned a surprise proposal during their trip to The Cloisters. As he and Shonda walked closer to the ocean, Shonda noticed white rose petals and torches forming a path, but didn’t realize it was for her until Mark began explaining how much he loved her and got down on one knee.
Apparently, I started crying, took the ring, pulled him up, and started hugging him, but FORGOT TO SAY YES!!! Before making any assumptions, he confirmed if that was a yes, and I screamed “YES!”.Shonda
While searching for a venue for their romantic NYE wedding, Shonda and Mark were immediately attracted to 701 Whaley’s history and character, as well as its beautiful architectural design and customizable space.
To them, 701 Whaley represented love, vibrancy, community, family, and happiness, all of which they wanted their wedding to reflect. So, it was the ideal venue for their wedding.
Learn more about their love story and see the beautiful details below!
- Couple: Shonda & Mark
- Occupations: Finance attorney | Clinical Psychologist
- Wedding date: 12/31/21
- Wedding location: The Historic 701 Whaley
- Gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen: They gave their groomsmen cufflinks engraved with their initials and a flask made from a Blood Oath bourbon barrel. They gave their bridesmaids a robe embroidered with their initials and a pair of earrings.
- Gifts for one another: Mark got Shonda a beautiful, dainty Tiffany bracelet. Shonda was planning to get Mark a Panerai but it took a back burner with the rising of Omicron and the last-minute wedding details. However, a designer watch is in the works for his first-anniversary gift.
- Ceremony entrance song: “The One He Kept for Me” by Maurette Brown Clark
- First dance song: “I Found Love” by Bebe Winans
How did you meet?
We met on Monday, January 7, 2019, at a Clemson Alumni National Championship Watch Party at a lounge in Charlotte, NC. A mutual friend introduced us, and we quickly became acquainted. What was once a crowded room soon felt like only the two of us. By the night’s end, we exchanged phone numbers, and Mark asked me out.
Fortunately, Clemson won, and it was also a win for us! Mark called me the next day, and we’ve seen or talked to each other every day since. We had our first date the Friday after we met which started with pre-dinner cocktails at the Cotton Room, followed by dinner at La Belle Helene, and dessert and after-dinner drinks at Crave. Our first date night ended with a mini scotch tasting.
Tell us all about the proposal
The proposal was a complete surprise! After I stalked The Cloisters for years, Mark decided to take me there to celebrate my birthday in December 2020. It was the first stop on our Golden Isles road trip. Once we arrived and settled in, Mark suggested we take a walk to the Beach Club. We knew we would be eating and drinking a lot on vacation, so we made a pact to get at least 10,000 steps a day. Prior to leaving, I insisted on calling my dad, which could have ruined the surprise, but thankfully he knew how to keep a secret.
On the way to the Beach Club, I casually mentioned that I had already inquired about us getting married at The Cloisters. Perhaps, I have no filter, or I was just foreshadowing what was to come. As we entered the Beach Club, I was in awe of the open and airy lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows framed by a beautiful arched doorway with clear views of the beach. We decided to walk closer to the beach.
As we approached, there were lighted torches and white rose petals forming a path to the beach. I was still clueless. I thought everything was from the wedding we saw earlier. At some point, Mark said it was all for me. Yet, all I could think of is that he really upped the ante for my birthday, and I was going to have to step up my game for his. Mark continued talking and started telling me how much he loved me, and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Apparently, I started crying, took the ring, pulled him up, and started hugging him, but FORGOT TO SAY YES!!! Before making any assumptions, he confirmed if that was a yes, and I screamed “YES!”.
Why did you choose the wedding location and venue?
A couple of years prior to getting engaged, the bride was looking for a venue for her dad’s 65th birthday and stumbled across 701 Whaley. She was intrigued by the building’s architectural character and loved that 701 Whaley had a story that could be seen through the concrete floors, exposed brick walls, tall ceilings, and huge arched windows. She also saw the potential to customize and decorate the venue to reflect their aesthetic.
In addition, Mark and Shonda were drawn to the history of 701 Whaley. They both grew up in small towns in South Carolina whose histories are steeped in the manufacturing industry – Mark is from Darlington, and Shonda is from Winnsboro. 701 Whaley was initially built as a company store for the area’s five textile mills. It later became the community center for the millworkers, which was the cornerstone of the community with a bowling alley, barbershop, library, auditorium, gymnasium, pool, basketball, billiards, a dance hall, movies on Saturdays, and socials. To them, 701 Whaley represented love, vibrancy, community, family, and happiness, all of which they wanted their wedding to reflect. So, it was the ideal venue for their wedding.
Describe your wedding attire
The bride wore an Enaura gown that was fully beaded with a sweetheart neckline, trumpet silhouette, and organza petals and ostrich feathers, accessorized with the Diablica light blue satin jeweled open-toe sandals by Manola Blahnik. The beading on the bride’s gown was inspired by the breathtaking architecture at the Taj Mahal, which spoke to the bride’s wanderlust.
The groom wore a bespoke one-button black tuxedo with a satin shawl collar, white shirt with a black bowtie, monogrammed silver cufflinks, and the “James” [007 Limited Edition] whole cut Oxford shoes designed by Crocket & Jones in celebration of the 25th James Bond film, “No Time to Die”. The groom’s attire was inspired by David Beckham.
What was the wedding shopping experience like for you?
The bride’s shopping experience spanned four states. It started at Kleinfeld in New York with two of her bridesmaids and ended at Bridals by Lori in Atlanta with one of her good friends who she had ironically accompanied when she found her wedding dress a couple of years prior. While there, she stumbled across the last day of an Enaura trunk sale and found the one.
In contrast, the groom’s shopping experience was much simpler. The groom knew he wanted a classic black tuxedo, and he quickly identified a local atelier to design his tuxedo. The only big decisions were the style and material. After that, it was pretty simple from there!
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding?
The bride paid homage to her grandparents by embroidering her maternal grandmother’s initials in her dress and she attached a broach to her bouquet with pictures of her deceased grandparents. She felt the presence of her ancestors as she walked down the aisle.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding?
Hard question…what was there not to love about the wedding? We truly loved every single detail – from the romantic reception décor with the beautiful crystal chandeliers, calligraphed menus, lush jewel tone florals contrasted by black tapered candles and neutral linens to how our monogram and black velvet were subtly and cohesively woven throughout the wedding on the reception menu, the dance floor, and lounge area pillows.
However, if you twisted our arms, some of our favorite details were the ceremony space over the pool with the water effect lighting, soft candlelight, and the lush arch with tonal white flowers. Other special touches were the photo booth, the confetti drop at midnight, our last dance, and the sparkler exit. Although, ultimately when we reflect on our wedding, our best memory would be our first look. Seeing each other for the first time was not only exciting but brought a sense of peace, calm, and assurance. Our second best memory was the festive vibe and seeing our guests happy, dancing, and having a blast, especially in light of the weightiness of the pandemic. It was a PARTY!
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples?
Things will go wrong and it will be stressful, but focus on the end game – your marriage and not the wedding. Continue connecting, growing, and cultivating your relationship during the engagement. We did this through counseling and weekly date nights. Also, make sure you prepare yourself for marriage spiritually, emotionally, and physically through exercise, prayer, and devotion (individually and collectively).
Looking for more New Year’s Eve wedding inspiration?
- Event Designer: Meagan Warren Weddings
- Photographer: Joshua Grasso Photography
- Cinema and Video: Hart to Heart
- Invitation Designer: Viri Lovely Designs
- Floral Designer: Xpressions Floral Design
- Beauty: The Glamour Principle
- Musicians: Orchestra Noir
- Dress Designer: Enaura Bridal
- Dress Store: bridals by Lori
- Linens and Coverings: LaTavola Linens
- Reception Venue: 701 Whaley
- Lighting: Ambient Media
- Equipment Rentals: Ooh Events
- Professional: Crisp Event Rentals
- Equipment Rentals: Party Reflections
- Caterer: Southern Way Catering
- Cake Designer: Bonnie Brunt Cakes