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This Bride Wore Alexandra Grecco and Happy Isles to Her Intimate Wedding Reception at the Gibbes Museum of Art

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Julie Livingston Photography

|Planning by 

Host & Haven

Melissa Saber and Jay Healy’s romance began with a statewide evacuation order. Right before Hurricane Irma came through South Carolina, Melissa and Jay had both decided to wait out the storm. The day before Irma made landfall, the weather was ironically perfect, and they happened to bump into one another at one of the only open restaurants in Charleston.

After discovering they had several friends in common, they hit it off instantly. Smitten, Jay asked if he could take Melissa out to dinner sometime, and as soon as Irma passed through, Jay and Melissa had their first date.

On their two-year anniversary in late October, Melissa walked into the couple’s Sullivan’s Island house and was greeted by a room filled with candles and a table filled with Jay’s home cooking. For dessert, he brought out a bowl of her personal kryptonite—candy corn. She dipped her hand into the sweets and pulled out a fistful of sugary candy and one sparkling engagement ring. The couple spent the rest of the evening on the porch, sipping wine and spreading their good news to friends and family over the phone.

They soon scheduled their wedding for October 24, 2020 at Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Charleston with a reception at the Gibbes Museum of Art.

As COVID-19 worsened, the couple inevitably altered their plans. The buffet became a seated dinner, and the guest count slowly petered off. But by mid-August, however, they realized their changes had to be more drastic. “Although all of our family and friends were amazingly supportive throughout the year,” Melissa remembers, “we started worrying about the dangers a large gathering would have to our more at-risk relatives. Ultimately we made the decision to shrink the guest count of our wedding ceremony to only immediate family and my two godfathers who would walk me down the aisle.” Jay and Melissa also chose to have their intimate ceremony at their smaller church on Sullivan’s Island.

Including their extended family and friends was still a priority for the couple, though. “We knew our wedding wouldn’t feel right without them,” Melissa mentions. They decided to draw out their wedding into a weekend. The ceremony would now be on Friday, and they would no longer have a rehearsal dinner at the Dewberry Hotel. Instead, they hosted a small outdoor dinner with the family members who would be unable to come to the reception. Then, the couple joined their other guests on the Dewberry Hotel rooftop. Saturday night would be the Gibbes Museum of Art outdoor reception. Melissa adds, “We tried to treat both days with equal importance, and it turned out better than we could have dreamt possible!”

Executing this new plan was, understandably, stressful. “We knew we wanted to get married, but the situation of COVID-19 changed weekly, and it was so hard to know how our guests and family would ultimately feel in October coming to a wedding where they might have to travel or social distance among people they don’t know or see on a regular basis,” Melissa admits. “We wanted everyone to feel safe, but we also had so many people that were important to us and that we wanted to be there.”

Thankfully, Jay and Melissa had the assistance of their wedding planner, Lindsey Boyce of Host & Haven. She would also assure the couple that everything would ultimately work out in the end, even in the midst of such uncertain times.

Melissa always loved simple yet sophisticated wedding dresses. When she tried on Alexandra Grecco‘s Collett dress, she knew she found the one. “The silhouette and square neckline were both so flattering,” she dishes about her gown. The bride accentuated the easy beauty of the dress with pearl studs and a classic diamond bracelet. She kept her hair and makeup equally timeless with an elegant low bun and natural glow. “The best part about splitting up the wedding was that I was able to style my wedding look twice!” Melissa says. For the Saturday events, she kept her hair in a chic ponytail and wore a vintage pearl-beaded dress. The unique dress came from Happy Isles in Los Angeles and was personally selected by owner Lily Kaiser.

For Jay’s groom look, he donned a custom suit that was designed by Liam John. Melissa’s bridesmaids picked their own dresses, choosing shades that fit the light pink, hunter green, and deep burgundy color scheme.

On a warm day in October, Jay and Melissa married in an intimate ceremony at Stella Maris Church on Sullivan’s Island. The ring bearer and flower girl were adorable in their matching outfits. In place of Melissa’s late father, her uncle walked her down the aisle. The entire guest list consisted of Melissa’s mother, three sisters, brother-in-law, nephew, and two godfathers, and Jay’s parents, sister, brother-in-law, and niece.

Deacon Jason Vaughan conducted the service, which was streamed online for the many guests who could not be there in person. Melissa notes, “It was really special that our extended family including my 89 and 90-year-old grandmothers could watch us get married virtually.”

The newlyweds left the church as Mr. and Mrs. Healy, stopping to take photos with their family. Eventually, they headed to the beach for a few pictures as a married couple.

Afterward, Jay and Melissa joined their immediate family members for cocktails and dinner at the Dewberry Hotel. On a Limb Florals adorned the space with blooms and blossoms, while Seth G Music and Saved by the 90s played. Melissa changed into a printed Paco Rabanne dress to greet extended family and friends on the rooftop of the Dewberry later that evening for the welcome party, which was catered by Salthouse Catering. Jay and Melissa eagerly cut into their Jim Smeal cake before bidding their guests adieu and absconding in a vintage Lowcountry Valet getaway car.

In reflection, Melissa observes that “2020 was a challenging year, but it was also very liberating for brides. I think we now accept that there are so many different ways to plan and celebrate a wedding!”

While their wedding was not what they originally envisioned, neither Jay nor Melissa would have had it any other way. “I feel so blessed that we were able to get married and navigate all the challenges that came with planning a COVID-19 wedding,” Melissa admits. “In reflection, the entire weekend was perfect and we are just so grateful to our family and friends who supported us through the whole year.”