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This Bride Wore Her Grandmothers’ Veil and Pearl Bracelet to Her Elegant Wedding on Sea Island

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Aaron Delesie

Julia Howell Gray, an associate vice president at Christie’s International Real Estate, and Lucien Bowen Kimball, a consultant at Deloitte, grew up in Atlanta in similar social circles but didn’t actually end up meeting until they were in their late 20s through mutual friends. After several chance encounters, where there’s photographic evidence of them being at large gatherings and weddings together, they were set up by Bo’s cousin and her husband. The two invited each of them to a decoy “cocktail party,” and they were the only guests. 

16 months laters, Bo strategically planned a surprise proposal with his family in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on his birthday, so she wouldn’t see it coming. He told her that he had to move up his dinner reservation because no one was able to babysit his nephew, but after the meal, he asked her to change for a sunset beach walk—timed just right. On the sand, he got down on one knee. “I was utterly shocked, absolutely flabbergasted,” she says. “I even dropped the F bomb!”

Once engaged, Julia thought Sea Island—her favorite place—would be the ideal location for their wedding. “One of my favorite memories with Bo is bringing him to Sea Island on a weekend getaway together a few months into our dating relationship,” she says. For more than 60 years, her family has enjoyed visiting the Georgia oasis, and they booked The Lodge to host their celebration and add to the sentimental significance of the island. To help plan and design everything for their spring nuptials, the couple hired Easton Events, who tapped on Jackson Durham for floral and event production.

Aesthetically, the day had a natural, elevated feel with pops of coral throughout the spaces. “My mother and I wanted the evening to be elegant, but not too precious,” the bride explains. “It was black-tie, but we wanted to ‘take it down’ to match the coastal environs.”

To walk down the aisle, Julia found her Romona Keveza gown during her second round of dress shopping and was helped by stylist The Stylish Bride. “I particularly loved the asymmetrical shoulder strap that framed the neckline so nicely, without being stuffy, while also providing an alternative to a typical strapless look,” she says. “It was comfortable and had pockets to boot! The cherry on top was the Romona Keveza gold metal belt that I could pair with the dress for dinner and dancing.”

The bride completed her look with Manolo Blahnik‘s Carolyne sling-back pumps, diamond mosaic earrings by Lillian Ostergard, Ltd., and her grandmother’s veil from her 1951 wedding—which Julia’s mother also wore in 1984. “Meme came to Sea Island with my grandfather on their honeymoon, so it was special to honor her by wearing her beautiful veil,” Julia explains. “She had died just six months earlier, which made it all the more meaningful to have her presence with me throughout the ceremony.”

She also wore a pearl bracelet with baroque medallion clasp that her paternal grandmother had received from Julia’s paternal grandfather in Paris in the ’70s. “While I had always intended to wear this bracelet on my wedding day, my paternal grandmother had sadly died a week to the day, prior to our wedding,” Julia says. “I loved being able to wear this in her honor throughout the evening, well into the wee hours of the morning.”

On the day-of, everyone gathered in the Cloister Garden, surrounded by Spanish moss, for the outdoor ceremony. The groom waited for Julia in a classic, white dinner jacket and watched in anticipation, as her bridesmaids made their way down the aisle in Alfred Sung blush dresses from Dessy and Nicola Bathie floral earrings. Then, the moment came for the bride to walk down the aisle with her father to Bo at the garlanded arch.

“Bo and I purposefully did a first look prior to the ceremony, which was very calming to me,” Julia explains. “I knew I’d be overwhelmed to tears, had I not!” Once the two were announced as husband and wife, they dashed off to take portraits, while everyone else headed to the cocktail hour. 

The reception was under a fairy-tale-like tent with turrets and flags blowing in the sea breeze. The whole tent featured a salmon scallop trim, while trellised bars à la Elsie de Wolfe anchored the center of the space, along with a hand-painted dance floor to segue into the dancing portion of the evening. On the tables, bamboo flatware, rattan chargers, blue porcelain, and seasonal soft florals paired well, and large bamboo lanterns floated above. 

Once everyone was under the tent, the newlyweds made their surprise entrance with three members of the brass section of a New York-based orchestra that led into their first dance to “The Way You Look Tonight.” After the delicious, seated dinner, the couple cut their green trellis wedding cake and danced the night away.

For the latter portion of the evening, Julia changed into an Oscar de la Renta strapless, eyelet-lace dress with a satin blue ribbon bow and flat Prada nude sandals to move and shake more easily. The married pair exited through a sparkler-lined path on their getaway golf cart to end the reception and head to the Cloister River Bar, where they mingled with family and friends until 1:00 a.m. And when they headed up to their room, they were surprised with their very own late-night nachos feast—”heaven,” as they put it.