When it comes to telling the story of the day Kimberly Cardone and Matthew McNab became man and wife, the pictures you see here will do most of the heavy lifting. You need only glance at these pages to see how tastefully arranged greenery supplanted over-the-top florals in creating a dramatic yet subdued statement. One look at the stunning Lowcountry setting that is Westin’s Oceanfront Terrace should be enough to paint a picture of the elegance on display that day.
And if you need to know how in love this happy couple is, you need only look at a photo of their smiling faces as they celebrate their first steps as husband and wife.
These gorgeous photos tell much of the story. But they don’t tell all of it.
Act I: Just Friends
Growing up in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, Kim and Matt had known each other since middle school and were fast friends throughout their high school years. It wasn’t until Kim’s senior year that they were parted.
“Matt was a year ahead of me, so he went off to University of Maryland while I was still back at home,” Kim said. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. The friends decided to take the next step after a Memorial Day trip to the beach. They’ll celebrate the tenth anniversary of that day this June.
Over the next three years, Matt would continue at University of Maryland while Kim would leave New Jersey for the Palmetto State, attending USC in Columbia. “We were eight hours apart for three years,” Kim said. “That was kind of tough.”
As luck would have it, after graduation Matt found a job with The Island Packet and moved to Bluffton. This eased their long-distance relationship, which dropped the “long distance” part when Kim would join him in Bluffton a year later.
A few years later, and following what Kim admits was some very serious hinting on her part, Matt popped the question. “I’d been badgering him for years about, ‘when are we going to get engaged?’”
She’d figured it would happen soon after her father gifted her a gorgeous diamond ring that had been her grandmother’s. It didn’t. She’d figured it would happen soon after Matt made a trip up North to talk to her father. It didn’t. She’d figured it would happen shortly after January of 2018 when the two of them designed an engagement ring together. It didn’t. When Matt’s brother Jason got engaged, Kim figured it would be at least another year before Matt would propose. It wasn’t.
In fact, just a few months later Matt invited Kim down to the Calhoun Street dock to take some pictures of the sunset over the May River. When Kim’s back was turned, Matt got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. “I had been waiting so long, I was shocked,” she said, adding with a laugh, “I thought there was no way to surprise me because I’d been begging him like a jerk for years.”
Act II: The Planning
You hear all sorts of stories about bridezillas who drive themselves crazy plotting out every detail and demanding perfection as their wedding day approaches. Kim was not one of those brides. But as luck would have it, she wound up with perfection anyway. In the lead-up to her wedding, she had just one request.
“I was a little obsessed with the idea of being different. I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing,” she said. “At the same time, I wanted to be traditional and easy and not be a pain. I wanted the day to come and not be obsessed with everything. I didn’t want to worry. I wanted to just enjoy it.”
Step one was deciding where to hold the wedding. With a good number of their friends and family still in New Jersey, a Garden State wedding was on the table. But only briefly. “We told everyone, ‘We could do all the planning remotely and go up to Jersey for the wedding … oooor we can do all the planning and you guys can come down for a nice beach weekend.’”
With all of her bridesmaids and family scattered across the country, Kim took it upon herself to secure the dress. “The thought of getting everyone down to South Carolina because I wanted to go to this one specific place in Charleston (Gown Boutique of Charleston) … I just said, ‘You know what? I’m going to get in my car and go.’”
She was similarly direct in planning the venue.
“We go to the Westin a lot to have drinks and go to the beach, plus I’d been to other venues on the island and wasn’t that impressed,” Kim said. “I got in contact with Hannah there and was pretty much like, ‘Mom I want you to meet this woman. This is where we’re having the reception; we just need to talk to her about how much it costs and how to do it. Everything else will come out after that.’”
Act III: The Plan Comes Together
The Westin supplied Kim with a list of preferred vendors—a list from which she barely strayed. She found Dakotah Terrace of Jardinere Events through that list and hit it off with her immediately as they planned the exquisitely understated greenery you see in these photos. “Because we were having the reception at Westin, we had to scrimp anywhere we could. The room is so beautiful … I didn’t need to bring in a bunch of flowers I couldn’t afford. It was cool that we could work together, and the budget didn’t need to be crazy.”
Kim also found Susan Richards of Sincerely Yours Events in Savannah through the Westin. “They make you have a day-of coordinator, which was the coolest thing,” Kim said. Susan’s tenacity came in handy on the big day, especially when the bridal party’s bus didn’t show up, and she was able to wrangle a shuttle from the Westin. “Having someone put out those little fires on the day of was so great.”
Handling music duties were Harden & Crenshaw, a duo whose unique show combines live guitar music for the cocktail hour followed by DJing during the reception. “They were so good,” Kim said. “We meshed, and we were on the same page the whole time. It was really cool.”
In fact, one of the only times she strayed from the list of preferred vendors was in photography, and she immediately regretted it. “I originally didn’t understand that you need a pro photographer. I figured anyone can take pictures; I don’t need to spend the money. Wrong.”
Kim asked a friend from work to take some pictures, and thankfully the friend declined once they understood the scope of the wedding. Scrambling to find a photographer who wasn’t booked, Kim found Sarah Nelson, whom she describes as “a beautiful saint of a human.”
The only other deviation was in the personal touches Kim and her family added themselves including her hand-lettered place cards and the greeting sign painted by Matt’s cousin. She also avoided rental fees on napkins by simply buying them. A lot of them. “I’ve given a lot of them away. Surprisingly, people were like, ‘Can I have 20 of those?’ I’ve gotten rid of a good number, and I still have plenty. There are probably about 100 more.”
But otherwise, Kim was happy to let the folks at The Westin handle all the searching for her. “The Westin gave me all the people, and I wound up being the luckiest bride in the world. I did no research. I wasn’t one of those brides who had a Pinterest board and knew which photographer I wanted to use 10 years out. It was really nice that it just happened for me.”