La Dolce Vita meets southern charm at this Charleston wedding


Anna Mack and her now-husband Ben Pardee’s love story began on the cobbled streets of Florence, Italy, in the exact same spot where her parents met nearly 40 years before. In a plot that most wouldn’t believe if Hollywood had scripted it, Anna’s mother was destined to meet her Ben while studying abroad, and so was she.

“It was September, and after we had been in Florence for a few days, my friend Eleni told me about this guy she went to high school with and how she thought we were going to get along,” Anna, who is now a producer for the Broadway production company behind Chicago, Waitressand Finding Neverland, remember. “Not looking for a relationship at the time and coming out of my previous semester abroad in London, meeting someone was not a priority when I arrived in Italy!”

But Ben, who is a product manager for Condé Nast Traveler, caught Anna’s eye early on. “When we met, we shook hands, and he smiled, showed off that beautiful baby blues, and that’s when I was very intrigued,” she recalls. The two started seeing each other in Italy, and when it came time to return to their respective schools at the end of the semester, they stayed in touch and continued to date remotely throughout their final years at the school. ‘university.

Eventually, they both moved to New York, and after a seven-year courtship, Ben proposed in September 2020 a surprise picnic dinner on the roof of their Brooklyn apartment. “It was as if we were the only two people in the world to have a view of the city that we love and which had suffered so much in the previous six months of the pandemic,” Anna recalls. “We soaked it all up as the sun dipped below the Hudson River and spent the rest of the evening dealing with family and friends.”

After much debate about the perfect time to get married — taking into account the ongoing pandemic — the two set the date for April 23, 2022. From the start, Anna knew she wanted to get married in her hometown of Charleston. , South Carolina, and its goal was to provide its guests with an authentic experience. “It meant a lot to us to stick with local vendors that my family has worked with for years,” she explains. “The location was also pretty much decided in advance as my mother worked at the Gibbes Museum of Art for over 30 years, before taking up the position of Curator of Collections and then Executive Director.”

An “outdoor, Italian-style babysitter with a Southern flair” is what Anna imagined the wedding aesthetic to be, and she turned to Augusta Cole, who has offices in New York and Charleston, to help make that vision a reality. “The lush greens, yellows and blues were the colors I focused on, so the natural beauty of springtime in Charleston could shine through,” says Anna. “I wanted the uniqueness of our wedding venues to speak for themselves – from the church I always attended to the museum where I worked for most of his life and where I grew up afterwards school, then my dear friend Baba’s restaurant for our after-party – each place has a special place in our hearts, and we didn’t want a ton of fuss and decoration to take away from that natural authenticity. ”

As for the wardrobe, the bride’s starting point for her wedding day look was the veil. “It’s a legacy passed down to me: a long cathedral veil with the lace from my mother’s wedding dress sewn onto it and cascading down the back,” she says. “My sister wore it to her wedding and then I had the privilege of wearing it to mine. I can’t wait for my sister and I to share it with my nieces and maybe a daughter of mine one day.” She wore the veil with a sleeveless, high-necked Vera Wang dress with a structured drop waist and lace overlay.

On the wedding day, guests gathered at 5:30 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Church on Anson Street. “The ceremony was what I was looking forward to most of the whole weekend,” Anna recalls. “It was that super sacred time where we merged the traditions of my Episcopal and Jewish upbringing from Ben and we said vows celebrating both of our religions. We were both shaking hands during the whole process, and it was really overwhelming. Watching the beaming faces of everyone in the congregation and feeling all their love was pure magic. From the deep breaths my father and I took together when the doors at the back of the church were still closed, to the breaking of glass and my nieces jumping for joy at the end of the ceremony, that was all I could have hoped for and a moment I will never forget.

After the ceremony, the guests were transported by trolley to the museum. Once there, the festivities kicked off with cocktails in the upstairs rotunda while the newlyweds took portraits. Eventually everyone moved out into the garden for dinner, where they sat at long tables fanned out around the fountain. Colorful plates by Carolina Irving anchored the table alongside menus by Thistle and Briar Studio and vibrant florals by Sara York Grimshaw of SYG Designs.

Once dinner and the speeches were over, the dance floor was open. “Charleston has such a fun and eclectic music scene, and we were lucky to have discovered Emerald Empire Band – an amazing new concept for a wedding band that brings together local musicians who wouldn’t normally play together to form a band. for wedding concerts – and they absolutely knocked it out of the park! Anna and Ben were precise with their musical notes, asking for 70s and 80s tunes, very funky, always upbeat, and no “Shout”, or other typical wedding music. “The band pulled it off song after song,” says Anna. “No one left the dance floor and we ended the night with ‘Purple Rain’ as the final song. The guests formed a circle with Ben and I in the middle, and everyone started waving their arms back and forth, and that’s when I completely left my body and transcended space and time. … while sobbing my eyes!


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