Mariana “Mini” Hay, a fourth generation jeweler at Croghan’s Jewel Box – a treasure trove of a boutique on King Street in Charleston, South Carolina – and the designer of the popular Goldbug Collection, always knew if and when she got married, she wanted the wedding in her hometown to take place in the house she grew up in.
Stephen Walker Avant II, vice president of the South Atlantic Bank seemed to understand the importance of this house from the start, as he suggested on the porch steps – right at the point he and Mini had met at a Christmas parade party that year before – in September 2019. “When I said yes, I heard all that noise,” recalls Mini. “I looked over and our families watched and cheered through the windows.”
Her original wedding date was May 2, 2020, but COVID-19 had other plans. When the pandemic broke out in the spring, it quickly became clear that the couple’s wedding plans had to be put on hold in May. “Fortunately, the wedding location didn’t have to change, which was a relief,” says Mini. “We didn’t want to put off our life together any longer, so around April 19th we decided to try and get married to an immediate family as soon as possible. That is exactly what we were able to do with 46 people in masks, all sitting three feet apart. It was a very special day and I would not have changed it for the world. “
The original plan was to hold a midday service in the bride’s family church, St. Mary’s of the Annunciation, followed by a large wedding dinner with a soft English cottage atmosphere. While the size of the guest list changed, the aesthetic of the day stayed the same. “Blake from Gregory Blake Sam’s Events and I ended up on a long table with a selection of silver pieces filled with flowers that remind me so much of my childhood and the natural beauty of Charleston,” says Mini. “Honeysuckle, green blueberries, ferns, I loved it! Since day one, Blake had those amazing striped umbrellas that I am obsessed with, and he worked them into the length of the long table. Every single thing was like a dream. “
As a designer, Mini had a vision for her dress. With the help of Jodi in White on Daniel Island, she was able to get through it to the point of realization. “I tried on a lot of clothes in the beginning and nothing really felt like me,” she says. “I wanted some color so I shared my ideas with Jodi and she looked at me like I was crazy but she sat with me and we worked on it and came up with my dream dress. It was a bunch of layers over a fern, green printed fabric, so it was kind of muted and not that green. I just got the weird feeling that it was going to be perfect. Much more organized and literal than me, my mom and sister were so nervous that I wore a dress I’d never seen less tried on, but when it came in we were all delighted. ”
Mini’s mother took a trip to San Miguel a few months before the wedding and brought back a dried flower headband for the bride. “It went perfectly with my dress and I wore it instead of a veil,” says Mini. “I wore my mother’s aquamarine ring that belonged to my grandmother as something blue. My borrowed something was my mother’s pearl bracelet. “Her shoes were Loeffler Randall from Hampden Clothing (something new), and the bride’s parents gave her the antique earrings she wore as a wedding gift (her something old).
The day before the wedding, the florist brought large quantities of flowers and greens so that the bride and several family members could put the arrangements in the silver themselves. “It was such a fun activity being together the day before my wedding and it will always be a fond memory,” says Mini.
On Saturday, June 27th, Mini got ready in the house she grew up in while her godmother and godmothers – who happen to live next door – played the Shirelles’ “Going to the Chapel” on the veranda. Everyone sang and danced as they prepared and prepared.
After a short but sweet limo ride to church with her father, Mini walked down the aisle to the church organ, choir, and trumpets in St. Mary’s. “As soon as the doors opened, the happiest tears came to my eyes,” recalls Mini. “It was so exciting! The whole ceremony, Walker and I both smiled in almost disbelief that it was really happening. Walker’s father was the best man and whenever I looked at him on the altar he had the biggest grin on his face. It was one of those happy day! “
After the service, the guests made their way to the garden in the family’s back yard for lunch – and as soon as they passed through the wrought-iron gate, wedding crashers appeared on the other side. “Two of my mother’s oldest friends showed up on a golf cart in wedding dresses with a tissue paper veil and gloves,” recalls Mini. “It was funny!”
The Lowhills played jazzy brunch music while the guests drank basil-lemonade cocktails from julep cups with a new cipher with a stacked M and W, engraved especially for the occasion at Croghan.
Meanwhile, the bride went in to dress in her Sachin & Babi embroidered dress for the reception, and the groom took off his socks before they were first announced as Mr. and Mrs. Avant. Then they went down the porch steps to sit at the table.
Caroline Bevon of Caroline’s Market and Catering served vichyssoise soup with a Greek shrimp salad, beef tenderloin with chimichurri and local John’s Island tomatoes, followed by a wedding cake with homemade peach ice cream. During lunch, the bride’s father and mother, along with Mini’s sister and brother and the groom’s brothers, toasted heartily. Towards the end of the meal, friends drove by and toasted the happy couple out of their cars.
After everything was done, the newlyweds headed back to their new house, where Walker kept champagne waiting. “We sat on our porch and experienced every moment of the day,” says Mini. “I know it’s such a scary time, but in a strange way, I think that surprise in our plans was actually such a blessing. Getting married with the family and really enjoying everyone’s presence was so nice. I don’t like being the center of attention and since we switched to this smaller list for families only, I wasn’t nervous at all. Finding someone to spend your life with is wonderful – the wedding is like the cherry on top! “