Bailey Degnan and Connor Childress met in a psychology class at the University of Kansas in 2012. The following year, the two were reintroduced by a mutual friend, and Connor invited Bailey to a party where they grew closer. However, it took a trip across the world for the friends to begin dating. That summer, the pair both ended up studying abroad in different cities in Italy. They made the effort to spend time together and a romance bloomed.
In August 2020, Connor brought Bailey to Cabo, Mexico, where he proposed on the beach with candles, flowers, and champagne. The couple initially aimed to tie the knot in Italy as a nod to their time studying abroad, but the pandemic caused them to change their plans. “Even though we were in Charleston, we decided that we wanted to have an Italian feel wherever we could,” Bailey says. They invited 139 guests to Lowndes Grove in Charleston, South Carolina for a Tuscany-meets-the-South themed wedding with a white, cream, and dusty-blue color palette.
The pair exchanged vows along the banks of the Ashley River, joined their guests for cocktail hour inside the estate, and enjoyed dinner and dancing underneath a draped tent. “Something that Connor and I like to do whenever we travel is try local foods and drinks,” Bailey says. “It was so important to us to have some of our favorite foods like Italian gnocchi coupled with endless red wine, and traditional Southern oysters, bourbon, and a cigar bar!”
With help from Bailey’s mom and their trusted planner, Tara Skinner of Tara Skinner Weddings & Events, Bailey and Connor pulled off their dream wedding on April 9, 2022. Keep reading to see all of the timeless details of their big day, captured by Kelsey Halm Photography and Dock House Digital.
Bailey and Connor’s invitation suite was printed on handmade deckled-edge paper that were placed in dusty blue envelopes and sealed with a gold wax seal and twine. The couple’s paper vendor was so busy that when she received the invitations, she had one evening to turn them around to meet their mailing deadline. “Her husband—a doctor—was tying the twine around the invitation suites, using his surgical training to make very precise knot in order to get them to us on time,” Bailey says. “As someone who was getting married, it was such an amazing thing to see these married couples working together and supporting each other’s crafts. It was and still is inspirational.”
The couple told their planner, Tara, that they wanted to get married somewhere jaw dropping on the water that paid homage to Charleston. When they pulled up to Lowndes Grove, Bailey cried. The beautiful dock sealed the deal for Connor.
Bailey invited her mother and her sister who served as maid of honor to Kansas City to shop for wedding dresses. She chose a white lace fit-and-flare Made with Love dress with a deep plunging illusion neckline and detachable tulle wings. “The dress is just me,” she says. “It is not flouncy or big. It is bohemian and more casual, but makes a statement. I felt natural and comfortable in it.”
Bailey decided not to tell her other two sisters which dress she chose so that it would be a surprise on the day. She gifted them all gold bracelets engraved with their maiden names. Bailey wore the matching bracelet, too, along with Chanel drop earrings that were a gift from Connor and Jimmy Choo shoes. As a special touch, she carried a blue handkerchief monogrammed with a small bee made by her great grandmother, who was known as Bea. She went with a natural makeup look, a simple pink manicure, and soft waves with a jeweled hair clip.
Connor wore a classic black tuxedo with a black bow tie and pocket square. He wore golden retriever cufflinks that were a gift from Bailey as a nod to their puppy, Ollie.
Bailey and Connor decided to do a first look so they could take some photos before the ceremony and enjoy their cocktail hour with guests. Bailey stood in the middle of the foyer as Connor walked down the winding staircase. “I was scared I would lose it, but Connor softened the mood by actually slipping and falling down the stairs. It made us both crack up and loosen up a little bit,” Bailey remembers. “It was a reflection of how goofy we are together as a couple and made the moment so memorable.”
The couple’s ceremony took place underneath oak trees on the banks of the Ashley River. “We wanted to allow the natural landscape to do the talking,” Bailey says. The aisle was lined with a garden of white flowers made to look like a meadow and a wooden table was set up for the minister.
Bailey was accompanied by her dad, William, down the aisle as the DJ played Bon Iver’s “Beach Baby.” “We were laughing inside the house and both agreed we wouldn’t cry,” she remembers, “We stepped out of the house and onto the grass and we both started to sob, which made us laugh again, and sob again—it was a long aisle!” Bailey held a light and airy bouquet of white flowers with greenery. “I wanted it to look like someone went out into their garden in the morning and just picked what was blooming that day,” she says, “I didn’t want the bouquet to take away from my dress or be distracting, so I asked for it to be smaller.”
Father Sean Poland officiated Bailey and Connor’s ceremony, which included a reading called “How Falling in Love Is Like Owning A Dog.” “Like most dog owners, we are beyond obsessed with our dog and this reading was the perfect fit,” Bailey says. Once pronounced husband and wife, the DJ played Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” as the couple recessed back down the aisle. They live streamed the ceremony and reception for their grandparents who couldn’t attend the wedding in person. “I got to speak to them while getting ready and then during the reception. That meant so much to me,” the bride shares.
After the ceremony, Bailey and Connor walked to the outdoor deck of the house where they had a view of the entire venue. From there, they watched as their guests walked into the home for the cocktail hour. “It was so special to see our family and friends who had traveled from all over the country and even Japan to celebrate with us,” Bailey reflects. “It was humbling.” After snapping a few photos with their photographer, the couple had a private showing of the reception space. “It was absolutely magical to see everything we had dreamed of in front of us,” the bride says.
The reception took place in a tent with fabric draped across the ceilings, tons of chandeliers, and a large greenery installation overhead. Round and square tables were topped with blue floral linens, while farmhouse tables were left bare. The centerpieces varied from table to table, with the head table dressed with greenery, white flowers, lemons, and taper candles. Other tables had vintage urns, baskets of flowers, and candelabras wrapped in green vines. Bailey collected wine bottles and had table numbers calligraphed on them for each table. The place settings featured ornate white chargers and plates, gold cutlery, vellum menus, and dusty blue napkins.
Guests found their table numbers on small bottles of limoncello set up on a market cart in the foyer. They could also leave Bailey and Connor voice messages on a vintage phone instead of writing in a guest book. Throughout cocktail hour, servers offered arancini appetizers and a walking oyster bar, combining the couple’s love for Italy and South Carolina.
Bailey and Connor made their grand entrance to the reception and shared their first dance to “You’re Still the One” by Teddy Swims.
Bailey and Connor aren’t big fans of cake, so they decided to offer a gelato cart for dessert instead. Guests chose between ten flavors, including sea salt caramel, nutella, stracciatella, and mango sorbetto.
Connor shared a dance with his mom to Tim McGraw’s “Always Be Humble and Kind” and Bailey danced with her dad to Lady Gaga’s “Always Remember Us This Way” before the song transitioned into Nelly’s “Hot in Here” and guests were invited to join them on the dance floor. The live band, Charleston Groove Factory, kept the newlyweds and their guests moving until it was time for their sparkler sendoff at the end of the night.
Bailey and Connor’s biggest advice to couples planning a wedding? “Book the videographer and your photographer [with] extra time. You have one wedding, so why not capture it as much as possible? Not a day has gone by since our wedding that we haven’t watched our video or looked at photos.”