Photographed by NOW Productions

One couple’s courtship culminates with a romantic, casual gathering of family and friends.

Written by Shay Maunz

At first glance, Brittany Holstein and Daryl Hammonds look like the prototypical couple. He’s brawny and quiet. She’s a petite, bubbly, blonde and likes to tease him about the details of their relationship—those things that wives always remember, but husbands are apt to forget. What was their first date? “We went to The Nutcracker with her parents in Charleston,” Daryl says. No, Brittany says, that’s not right. “It was the movies before that,” she prompts him. “Do you remember what movie it was?” He guesses Beauty and the Beast, but she corrects him—that was the second movie they saw together. “I remember you wore your hair down and it was wavy,” he says, and pauses for a few moments. “That’s right. It was Footloose. And it wasn’t as good as the original.” She laughs and nods.

But if you’re assuming Daryl is less sentimental than Brittany, you’re wrong. “He looks all rough and rowdy, but he’s a big softie,” Brittany says. Just telling the story of their love, Daryl teared up a few times, and it’s a story that makes it clear he’s every bit as sentimental as she is. They both cherish their romance, and the memories they’ve made together. “I just love her dearly,” Daryl says.

The Friend Request

Brittany’s dad knew of Daryl through a friend of a friend, and thought his daughter might be interested in the young deputy sheriff—he suggested they get in touch. Brittany added Daryl as a friend on Facebook and he sent her a message: “Do I know you?’” Brittany laughs. “I was just like, ‘No,’” she says. “But we started talking.” They realized they already had some friends in common and hit it off right away. After that first date—at either The Nutcracker or the movies depending on who you ask—they knew they wanted to spend more time together. By the time they’d been dating for a year, they both saw marriage on the horizon.

The Proposal

Daryl started planning months in advance. “I only want to get married one time in my entire life, and I wanted to make the proposal as special for her as it was for me,” he says. “I wanted to make sure everything was perfect.” He decided the way to do it was with a big trip—and it needed to be a surprise. “It was hard because I had to keep it a secret for so long,” he says. “I was hiding brochures at my friends’ houses.” Brittany is still amazed he pulled it off. “I’m sneaky,” she says. “If I think you’re up to something I’ll dig through your stuff. But I never suspected.”

As a decoy, Daryl told Brittany he’d planned an autumn trip to New York City for them. So one day in October they got on a plane in Charleston and flew to Washington, D.C. to meet up with their next flight. While they were there waiting to board another plane, Brittany saw on a television that there had been a security threat at the Empire State Building. “I said, ‘Oh no, we’re going there,” Brittany says. “I thought our flight was going to be delayed.” That’s when Daryl handed Brittany her boarding pass—for a flight to Paris. “I said, ‘Good thing we’re not going to New York,’” he says. “But it took her forever to figure out what was going on.” She admits it. “I’d never flown before,” she says. “I didn’t know what I was looking at.” Before she knew it, she was on a 15-hour flight to France.

Daryl had planned practically every moment of their romantic getaway in Paris—from a day at EuroDisney to a trip to Pont des Arts, the regal Parisian bridge where couples fasten padlocks to the railings as a symbol of their enduring love. On the third day he planned for a trip to the Eiffel Tower, so they got dressed and stepped onto the sidewalk outside their hotel to wait for a cab. “All of a sudden this huge horse-drawn carriage comes clomping down the road, and she says, ‘There must be some celebrities here or something,’” Daryl says. “I was like, ‘Babe, this is your cab.’” The carriage dropped them at the Eiffel Tower, where a Frenchman in a suit was jumping up and down and waving his arms to get their attention—Daryl had hired him to take photos of them. “So we’re just walking and talking, looking at the Eiffel Tower,” he says. “And I took her hand and got down on one knee and proposed to her.”

Somehow, even after all that fanfare, Brittany was still surprised by the proposal. For a while, when she thought they were planning a trip to New York, she suspected that maybe he’d use the vacation as an opportunity to pop the question. But as it got closer, she wasn’t sure. “I couldn’t figure out where he put the ring,” she says. “I mean, I packed his bag. I knew what was in that bag, and there was not a ring in it.” It turned out it was in his pocket the whole time—he even managed to get it through airport security.

The Plans

They spent a year making plans and kept their cool the whole time. “I was just really excited the whole time, but I didn’t freak out,” Brittany says. “We were laid-back about it.” They had their rehearsal dinner at Hurricane City Park, so they could relax and do a cookout. The wedding was catered, but instead of doing a big formal meal they had a lot of finger foods, like sliders. “That’s what we like to eat,” Brittany says. They chose the Maylon House, a grand old house and event space in Milton, as the venue. Brittany had always wanted to get married outdoors, and she fell in love with the Maylon House’s striking facade and manicured lawn on first sight. She didn’t care that the inside of the house was too small to accommodate all of their guests. “I didn’t have a backup plan,” she says. “I was like, ‘If it rains, well, it will rain.’” In the end, the sun shone all day long.

The couple didn’t set a color or elaborate theme for the wedding, but went for a casual, vintage-inspired ambience. The seven bridesmaids all wore a pale shade of pink that looked almost white, but chose their own dresses—whatever they liked the best and found the most flattering. The groomsmen wore gray pants with plaid shirts, suspenders, bow ties, and blue Chuck Taylor tennis shoes. Brittany’s mom made burlap flowers for the bouquets and boutonnieres and turned run-of-the-mill daisies into lovely accents for the aisle. Instead of wasting money on party favors they knew would end up in the trash, Brittany and Daryl made a donation to a local animal shelter.

The Day

Their fondest memories of the big day are from some of the most casual, personal moments. Brittany loved hanging out with her bridesmaids inside the Maylon House, getting dressed and feeling more and more giddy with excitement. Daryl still laughs when he talks about the antics of some of his groomsmen that day. “I think we just loved having everybody there with us,” Brittany says. “It was like we just got everyone together and had a lot of fun.” At the end of it all they both threw on leather jackets, ran past all their friends and family waving sparklers and cheering, and rode off on Daryl’s motorcycle. “It was perfect,” Brittany says.