Colleen and Josh, Romantic Southern Wedding in Aiken, SC

Last Friday, my husband and I loaded up the car and transferred a sleepy toddler from crib to carseat. It was 4AM but our pajama clad girl was excited, “I go airplane!”

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After the most entertaining airport trip ever, we landed in South Carolina and drove to the picturesque town of Aiken for a beautiful traditional southern wedding. Magnolia trees and everything.

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The cake cutting and groom’s getting ready suite was at the Willcox Hotel, a gorgeous historic hotel first built in 1900 and built on in little sections in the years following. That’s where we set up camp for the weekend too. Colleen is my husband’s cousin and so we were celebrating the weekend with all our family too. Everyone loves Josh so much and has been so excited to claim him as family.

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I also had the great opportunity to get to know Josh’s family from England. His mom, dad, brother, and grandma were especially charismatic. I think these two families really love each other and it was so cool to celebrate their coming together over Josh and Colleen’s vows.

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The Bridesmaid got ready at the Rye Patch, a beautiful old Mansion that now houses some local government offices as well as a rose garden, stables, and reception venue. This place was a dream you guys! Almost as pretty as the bride. Almost.

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I’m used to seeing Colleen dressed down and relaxing on a family vacation, so seeing her in a gorgeous beaded gown and her hair in an elegant curly chignon was just breathtaking. Apparently my daughter thought so too because she was talking the next morning about the princess and the princess dress she wore!

I just loved all of Colleen’s bridesmaids. I wish we could hang out more! I feel like we could be friends in real life! They were all so nice and just genuinely excited for their friend to marry her soul mate.

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The ceremony was held at St. Mary’s Help of Christian’s Roman Catholic Church. The ceremony was a beautiful testament  to marriage being a full gift without reservation. Though church fineries are never an important part of a wedding, I couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty of the alter and stained glass.

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The fun continued throughout the afternoon and late into the night at the Rye Patch where DJ Blake Arambula kept the party going under trees strung with glowing bistro lights. Guests sipped champagne and signed a world map, a nod to the couple’s love of travel and the guests who flew in to celebrate love.

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I can’t thank Colleen, Josh, and their families enough for inviting me to celebrate and preserve this joyous occasion. I had such a wonderful time and am so happy Colleen and Josh are now a family. They are truly a perfect match and it was such a joy to be present the first day of their long and happy marriage.

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Focusing on relationships and real moments, Claire Watson specializes in photography that captures true beauty and feels genuine and authentic. Claire Watson is a West Virginia Wedding Photographer based in Martinsburg, WV. She joyfully serves clients in West Virginia, Northern Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas.