Carolina Bride

Sweet serenade

Winthrop University students Elise Comber and Steven Howell sat next to each other on the first day of their first year, and a lasting friendship was born. The honors students joined similar organizations on campus and had many mutual friends. It was not until Steven studied abroad sophomore year that they both realized feelings ran deeper than friendship.

When Steven arrived back home, he wasted no time asking Elise out on a date. The couple, who thrives on spontaneity, enjoyed spending time outdoors – hiking, exploring parks, taking walks – and hanging out at the local coffee shop playing games.

A year later, Steven woke up on a beautiful February and decided that the proposal day had arrived, one month earlier than he originally planned. He drove Elise to Lansford Canal in Catawba, S.C. Before leading her out of the car, he presented her with an envelope. Inside was the sheet music to a song – a song he had written for Elise while he was abroad.

After performing the song with his guitar, Steven proposed, and a surprised Elise said yes. The excited couple spent the day sharing their news with family and friends before eating together at the restaurant where they had their first date.

They exchanged vows at a local church, where the winter greenery, gold accents and candles set a majestic tone. “The best thing about our wedding day was the ceremony,” Elise says. “To say our vows and make a lifelong commitment to each other in that setting, surrounded by people loving and supporting us, was amazingly beautiful.”

Before starting the 30-minute drive to the reception, guests received CDs as they left the ceremony. They included a compilation of songs handpicked by the bride and groom. “We wanted to keep them entertained in the spirit of our wedding day,” Elise says.

Elise found an old book that belonged to her grandmother filled with sheet music. Table centerpieces and ceiling decorations were hand made using pages from the book, in a nod to the music Steven had written for her.

Project:Life Photography captured special details from the day. “They are just really relaxed and fun and easy to work with,” Elise says. “They were so helpful in coming up with poses and keeping the photography shots moving. I think they are wonderful.”

Looking back on the day, Elise says, “I was so calm. It just felt natural, and I felt supported by all of our family and friends.”

After the reception, Steven and Elise spent their first night as husband and wife at Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel. Afterwards, they ditched their original plans to spend their honeymoon at a bed-and-breakfast in the mountains, and instead set out for a week of Southeast city hopping.

“Steven and I had a lot of fun together, and we were just so excited that we were getting married,” Elise says. “That’s why the day went so smoothly – because that is all that mattered.”

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Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel


Continue reading real wedding stories! Up next: ’An A-Plus Proposal’