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Hope Taylor is a photographer specializing in senior portraits serving both Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA.


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Our Wedding Weekend | The Rehearsal Dinner & Welcome Party Hope & Hayden


This is going to be the LONGEST post of the wedding series so far…and I’m so excited about it!!! Earlier this week, I shared about our rehearsal and getting ready all day on Friday as guests arrived into town. After the rehearsal, we took the party bus back to The Alida Hotel to freshen up for the rehearsal dinner and welcome party! Our beautiful dinner and welcome event were hosted by Hayden’s sweet parents. We knew we wanted to have an event on Friday night to welcome our guests, because a good 95% of them were traveling from out of town. And we were just so excited to see them!!! The majority of our guests chose to stay at The Alida Hotel (and so did Hayden and I!) so it was IDEAL to host the welcome event here. It could not have been more perfect!!

One of my favorite memories from this entire day was before the rehearsal dinner even began. Hayden and I both wore more casual outfits to the rehearsal itself (it’s hot and humid in the South, ya’ll!) – so we headed right to our room to freshen up when we got back. I hadn’t realized it, but in the hustle and bustle of our wedding week, we never had a chance to practice our first dance together! While I was changing into my dress, Hayden set up a speaker in the other room. When I walked out to show him (he hadn’t seen it yet!), our first dance song was playing and he asked me to dance. We slow danced in our room before heading up to the party – and it felt like such a special moment before the craziness began. I cried happy tears into his shoulder and was reminded just how lucky I am to be loved by him.

When we headed up to the rooftop of the hotel, we were the first to arrive and got to see the GORGEOUS space that Alida had set up for us! We had colorful florals from Urban Poppy, a beautiful welcome sign, and one long table for us all to eat at together. Hayden’s parents surprised us with the most precious details like drink tags and a display table of some of our favorite photos (including the yearbook where I drew flames on Hayden’s photo in middle school, HAHA!!!) It was SO sweet and I was blown away.

We all mingled for a bit, had cocktails and took photos (thanks to Katherine and Tyler – more on that later!) before we sat down for the official dinner. We had picked our menu with the Alida SO long ago, I honestly didn’t even remember what I would be eating…but it was DELICIOUS. Hayden and I frequently go eat at Alida hotel, so we knew the food would be good…but I honestly STILL dream of that salad!!! We had the sweetest speeches from Hayden’s parents and some of our friends before dessert, and it truly was one of the highlights for the entire weekend for me.

After dinner, the doors opened up to the patio for the welcome party. It had been raining for a few hours, but it stopped JUST in time to have our welcome party under the stars! There was a pretzel bar and charcuterie, corn hole, twinkly lights and all of our favorite people. But, the best part? Unbeknownst to Hayden, I had been coordinating with his older brother, Ryan. Ryan is in the military, and he was deployed in Italy. As of 2 days before our wedding, he was not going to be able to be there. 48 hours beforehand, he was able to get unexpected leave – and he flew all the way to Savannah for less than 48 hours to be there for our special day. Hayden had NO IDEA! Ryan walked into the welcome party just as it began, and we got the sweetest photos of the moment he arrived. I’ll never forget it!

We spent the night greeting everyone, sipping cocktails and getting SO excited for the big day!!! Another one of my favorite moments was when Hayden’s grandmother, Kathy, gifted Hayden his late grandfather’s leather watch. It was another secret we had been keeping from him, and seeing him tear up when he opened it was so, so special (he got to wear it for our wedding day – it could not have been more perfect). I got to hug so many friends and family I had not seen in YEARS, and got to soak in every moment of just how grateful we were for everyone coming into town for US. It was so, so surreal.

Enough of the backstory – now it’s time for the best part! THE PHOTOS!! Just a few quick thank you’s:

To Hayden’s parents, Lisa and James: Thank you so, so much for hosting such a beautiful evening for us. The thoughtful details, sweet speeches and beautiful party were such a special part of our weekend. I will truly never forget it!

The Alida Hotel: I couldn’t think of a better place to host our welcome events than our favorite hotel in all of Savannah. And they didn’t ask me to say that!!! The Alida is truly one-of-a-kind and prides itself on customer experience. Every detail was perfect, and every logistic was taken care of without me even having to think about it. The food, decor and staff were incredible from beginning to end – and the view from the rooftop is unmatched. Thank you for being so good to us.

Katherine & Tyler: There’s no one else I would have wanted to spend this night with us!!! Katherine and Tyler have become such sweet friends of mine, and I’m so lucky to work with them so often. They did both photo AND video for our rehearsal dinner, and the portraits from this night are some of our FAVORITES! They went above and beyond in such big ways (like staying late so they could capture Ryan arriving, and turning around sneak peeks for us so I had something to post on Friday night). They are the kindest, most thoughtful humans – and I don’t even have to brag on how talented they are (because you’re going to see it in all of the photos below!!!)

The Beauty Tribe:  I already raved about these girls in my rehearsal post, but they were in charge of my hair and makeup for the weekend! They made me feel SO beautiful, and also attended our welcome party as guests – I consider them such sweet friends!!!

Urban Poppy: These ladies were PHENOMENAL to work with for our welcome party flowers! I gave them inspiration, and they absolutely nailed it with the loose, pastel blooms in our centerpieces. I was so blown away!

SJ Bailey Co: I worked with SJ to create custom earrings for my wedding weekend, and I absolutely LOVE every single pair! The pearl flowers for my welcome party were some of my favorites (and she created my wedding day earrings, too – you’ll see them soon!)

Simply Jessica Marie: One of my favorite online shops and sweet friends created our custom crest for us back when we got engaged in 2021. We made some updates to it before the big day (we had to add Boone and Boots!!!) and it was the PERFECT addition to our details for the welcome party (we had it on napkins and our corn hole boards!)

And a few final links to smaller details:

Floral Place Cards

Gown Link

Click here to watch the beautiful video of our welcome party thanks to Katherine & Tyler! 

Seeing sweet friends in the lobby I hadn’t seen in YEARS!!!

You can barely see it…but it had started pouring rain!! That didn’t stop us 🙂

HTP off-duty: loves a green tea shot 🫡

I purchased this Chanel bag as a gift to myself for reaching a big business goal in 2022. I kept it hidden away until my wedding weekend as my “something blue”!

*whistles* HOTTIE TOTTIE!!

LOVE this one!


Our amazing hosts!!

The salad of my dreams!

Time to transition to the welcome party!!!

When Ryan walked in and surprised EVERYONE! He literally came up to the party STRAIGHT from his Italy flight!

Towards the end of the welcome party, Lauren Fair came by and snapped these on a film camera! I LOVE THEM!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also love:

Our Wedding Weekend | The Rehearsal

Hayden & Hope | The Proposal

Our Wedding Weekend | Thursday Taco Night



hi, y'all!

I'm Hope Taylor, an international Senior Portrait and Wedding Photographer based in Charleston, SC. I'm also an educator, international speaker, and the host of multiple sold-out workshops each year!



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