Casey Witkowski and Joshua Tierney are proof that you can get married in the sweltering Hilton Head humidity of July and not regret it.
“It was a hot, sunny day, but we knew it was going to be, which is why we had everything inside that could be inside,” said Casey of her July 14 nuptials. Luckily, between gorgeous venues like Saint Andrew Chapel, where they tied the knot, and Callawassie Island Clubhouse, where they celebrated with friends and family afterward, the Lowcountry can be a beautifully cool place to wed year-round.
The couple, who met as freshmen on the Bluffton High School cross-country team, chose the height of summer for its convenience, as the wedding was sandwiched between Casey finishing grad school and Josh starting med school.
“It probably wouldn’t be my dream wedding month, but we didn’t want to just put it off for the sake of putting it off,” Casey said of planning the couple’s big day.
The oldest of nine, 22-year-old Casey has fond memories of eating brunch at the Callawassie clubhouse with her grandparents while growing up, so selecting that space as the reception venue added a sweet layer to the day’s festivities.
The large wedding party — seven bridesmaids, one junior bridesmaid and seven groomsmen — wore dusty purple gowns for the bridesmaids and light gray suits with wisteria bowties and pocket squares for the groomsmen. Casey’s elegant A-line David’s Bridal dress with tulle skirt, lace overlay and sparkly belt ensured all eyes were on her as she entered the chapel for the full Catholic Mass and wedding celebration that afternoon.
The groom’s great-uncle, a Catholic priest who lives in New York, presided over the ceremony, which opened with a reading in Japanese by the groom’s uncle, who had flown in from Japan for the wedding. The couple also involved their grandmothers, who brought the gifts for Communion.
After the ceremony, the wedding party was taken by limo to Callawassie, stopping at the Callawassie Sugar Works ruins for photos with Janet Powell of Silly Goose Photography.
“She had taken our prom pics, so it was nice to have someone that we were so comfortable with already,” Casey said.
After a cocktail hour, the couple treated their guests to a traditional sit-down dinner of salmon or chicken or a vegetarian option, along with an open bar. Don Scott with Hilton Head Entertainment served as DJ and emcee for the evening, kicking off the night with the newly married couple’s first dance to “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. Another sweet moment on the dance floor came when Josh danced with his mother to The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”
“It was really sweet because he said The Beatles stuck out to him because when his mom moved to the U.S. from Japan, she listened to a lot of Beatles music to learn English,” Casey said. As they danced, Josh reminded his mother of the memory, which choked her up. “Everyone was pretty touched by that.”
Publix made the four-tiered chocolate and vanilla wedding cake, which the guests used to fuel up for all the dancing they did.
“I was worried not enough people would dance, but really everyone was dancing,” Casey said.
Before long it was time to say goodbye to their guests, as the couple headed to Savannah and a 6 a.m. honeymoon flight the next day to Saint Lucia. As soon as their honeymoon was over, Casey and Josh moved to their first place together, in North Carolina, where the bride just started a job in Charlotte and the groom began medical school in Spartanburg. When it came to juggling such hectic changes and planning the wedding, the couple said Maggie Denison, Callawassie Island Club’s director of events, was a big help as the day-of coordinator.
“Everything just went so much smoother than we thought,” Casey said. “We both said we didn’t expect to have as much fun as we did.”
Photos by Janet Powell
Silly Goose Photography