Real Wedding: The Anchor Room at Wando Grill | Marley Photography

Real Wedding: Emily & Lucas Bury the Bourbon

July 16, 2021

What’s a Charleston wedding without a little southern tradition?  Emily and Lucas knew that they wanted to incorporate burying a bottle of bourbon into their gorgeous waterfront wedding day at the Anchor Room at Wando River Grill. Local lore says that burying a bottle of bourbon upside down at the wedding venue exactly one month before the wedding day will help keep the rain away-and it did work! But, tradition wasn’t the only reason that bourbon was on the menu during their big day.

Emily and Lucas’ Southern Love Story

Emily and Lucas had always been in the same circle of friends, but they didn’t officially “meet” until college. It was Kentucky Derby day, and like a true southern gentleman Lucas bought Emily a bourbon drink. Get the bourbon theme now?  I just love seeing couples include personal details like this on their wedding day!

The couple’s first date was at Pawley’s Front Porch in Columbia, SC. Emily says, “We bonded over our love of live music and fried green tomatoes. I got in his red truck and heard Little Feat, a band I grew up loving that I thought only my parents knew about. I couldn’t believe he liked them too!”

The Proposal

As a Charleston wedding photographer, I get to hear some pretty neat proposal stories. Emily and Lucas’ was no exception. The day before Lucas’ birthday, the couple was standing in front of the Preservation Hall Jazz Society in New Orleans when he whispered to Emily, “I told you all I wanted for my birthday was you.” Emily laughingly says that she “may have blacked out for a second” before Lucas told her, “My grandmother wore this ring for 70 years, and I want you to wear it for 70 more.” Who couldn’t say yes to a proposal like that?

The Planning Begins

Emily and Lucas knew that they wanted a wedding that was simple and timeless. “Think garden party romance and a touch of southern elegance!” Emily said.  Their hearts were set on an outdoor waterfront ceremony, and The Anchor Room at Wando River Grill checked all of their boxes since they offered in-house catering and would require minimal decorating.

COVID was a real concern for the couple, but luckily timing worked out on their side and their wedding day was set to proceed without a hitch!

Drone photograph of aerial view of Wando River Grill in Charleston, South Carolina at sunset during a Charleston wedding.

Emily & Lucas’ Charleston Waterfront Wedding Day

Continuing with the spirit of southern wedding day heirlooms and tradition, Emily’s mother surprised her with her grandmother’s pearls to wear as “something old.” Emily’s smile when she saw herself wearing them in the mirror was absolutely priceless.

Mom also gifted Emily with a gorgeous new bracelet and earrings for “something new.” Her grandfather’s engraved belt buckle was attached to her bouquet for “something borrowed,” and the bottom of her shoes were “something blue.”

Close up view of a Charleston bride's bouquet accented by her grandfather's monogrammed silver belt buckle at a Wando River Grill wedding.

Lucas’ childhood friend (Meredith), who Emily describes as her “soul sister” was a jack of all trades on their big day. Not only was she Emily’s hair and makeup artist, she was also the officiant!  I see Meredith from time to time at various Charleston weddings, and it was neat to see her getting her best friend all dolled up for her big day.

Bride has makeup applied by makeup and hair stylist before Wando River Grill wedding.

One of my favorite moments before the ceremony was the “first look” with Emily’s dad. I don’t always see much emotion on the face of the bride’s father when he sees his little girl for the first time (maybe because they’re just trying to be tough!), but Emily’s dad simply looked stunned when he caught his first glimpse of her in her wedding gown.

Bride waits for her father to turn and see her in her wedding dress prior to Wando River Grill wedding ceremony.
Bride's father smiles in delight during his first look at her before her Wando River Grill wedding ceremony.
Father embraces daughter before Wando River Grill wedding ceremony in Charleston, South Carolina.

You could tell family was important at this Charleston wedding. Instead of having traditional bridesmaids, Emily’s two brothers took on the role of bridesmen.  This definitely put my creativity to the test as a wedding photographer-it’s not every day that my brides’ “bridesmaids” are men!

Bride poses between her brothers with a sunflower bouquet at her Wando River Grill wedding.
Bride laughs with her two brothers at her Wando River Grill wedding in Charleston, South Carolina.

We snapped a few wedding day bridal portraits, and then it was on to Lucas as he got cleaned up for his wedding day.

Groom adjusts his vest before his Wando River Grill wedding.
Groom's father helps adjust jacket before Wando River Grill wedding.
Groom's mother pins flower to jacket before his Wando River Grill wedding.

One intimate moment that the couple enjoyed was a “first touch,” and behind the door gift exchange. Emily and Lucas took a few moments to talk and laugh together on opposing sides of the door before the ceremony started, and Emily gifted Lucas with a unique audio file of their first dance song.

Close up shot of couple holding hands as they exchange gift before their Wando River Grill wedding.
Bride and groom hold hands on opposite sides of a wall to exchange gifts prior to Wando River Grill wedding.
Couple smiles from opposite sides of wall as they open gifts to each other before their Wando River Grill wedding.

After those quiet moments, it was time to get this show on the road!  The ceremony site overlooked the Wando River, and was absolutely breathtaking. Petite Kleenex boxes that were labeled “Tears of Joy” were a sentimental touch, and boy were we going to need them.

Drone shot of Wando River Grill wedding ceremony shot.
Close up shot of "Tears of Joy" tissue boxes at Wando River Grill wedding.

Emily laughingly relates that as she and her father started down the aisle, her veil fell out. “The wedding planner tried to shove it back in, but it immediately fell back out,” Emily laughs. “My dad asked if I wanted to stop, and I just laughed and said nope, we’re already walking!”

Bride's father walks her down the aisle at her Wando River Grill wedding in Charleston, South Carolina.

As you can see, everyone needed those tissues as Lucas stared in awe at his stunning bride. Although the moment was touching, Emily laughed about the fact that they kissed too early and ruined their friend/officient’s big moment of saying, “You may MEOW kiss the bride!”

Groom sees bride walking down the aisle and smiles at Wando River Grill wedding.

After the ceremony, the couple enjoyed a few private moments as newly married husband and wife before we moved on to taking formal family photos on the grounds of Wando River Grill. I absolutely loved the sunset portraits I captured of Emily and Lucas!

Unearthing the Bourbon Bottle

At this point, it was time to dig up the bourbon bottle that the couple planted a month before their wedding. There was one small glitch-they couldn’t quite remember where they buried it! After 5 minutes of laughs and some digging around, Emily and Lucas finally struck liquid gold. Lucas relayed that this was one of his favorite parts of their wedding day. It was definitely a fun tradition, especially since it tied into their love story so neatly.

The Reception 

The party moved inside to The Anchor Room at Wando River Grill for cocktail hour and the reception.

Traditional first dances followed cocktail hour, and then I snuck the couple back outside for some sunset photos together. These were some of my favorites of the two! The leading lines of the dock and the gorgeous architecture of Wando River Grill really made for some fantastic shots of Emily and Lucas beginning married life together.

We headed back inside The Anchor Room, and it was time to get the fun started!  The bourbon theme carried over into the reception with “The Bunch Bourbon Bar.” The names of all four spirits even started with a “B.”

After the cake cutting, Emily and Lucas’ family and friends enjoyed dancing the rest of the night away to the tunes of the Cooper River Band.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to be a part of the sweet southern traditions this Charleston waterfront wedding incorporated. Emily and Lucas, I sincerely hope you experience the many years of happiness that Lucas’ grandmother did while wearing the ring that’s now on Emily’s finger.


If you’re looking for a Charleston wedding photographer that’s a storyteller, someone to truly capture every aspect of your wedding day, I’d love to work with you. Click here to take a look at some of my work!

Vendor List:

Venue: The Anchor Room at Wando River Grill-

Planner & Florist: Whitney Engel at The Flower Cottage

Dress Designer/Boutique: Allure Bridals, Verita. A Bridal Boutique

Hair/Makeup: Hair By Mere-Meredith Daniels

Rings/Jewelry: Heirloom Diamond, Diamonds Direct for Bride’s Band, Reed’s Jewelers for Groom’s Band

Tuxedos/Suits: Verita. A Bridal Boutique.

Invitations: Minted.Com

Reception Venue and Caterer: The Anchor Room at Wando River Grill

Cake Maker: Stack’s Coastal Kitchen

Entertainment: The Cooper River Band







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