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Friends for happily ever after

Sara Boling and Tom Gore knew they had found a good friend in one another, but each hadn't expected to have found a potential spouse.

"After years of being friends and hanging out with our mutual friends, he asked me out on a date," says Sara. "At first, I didn't think much of it. I thought, 'It's just Tom.' It ended up that we had a really great time together and here we are today."

After dinner last July at New York Prime, a revival of their first date, Tom proposed to Sara on one knee, a moment she describes as "an out-of-body experience."

Turns out Sara and Tom did discover that being husband and wife would mean eternal bliss, and the fun-loving couple couldn't wait to celebrate with family and friends. Tom had planned a surprise party that night to ring in their engagement at Sara's parent's house. "Everyone had tears of joy, champagne and a good time," remembers Sara. "It was similar to the wedding - time flew by and I tried to hang on to every moment."

The couple, wed in a fairy tale ceremony on March 27 beneath Brookgreen Gardens' Live Oak Allee, had only a handful of hours surrounded by more than 400 guests to pack into their memory banks. Springtime in this magical spot on earth is the perfect place to start a new life together. "It's unlike any place I've ever been," shares Sara. "The history, the sculptures, the flowers, the wildlife."

One special moment Sara remembers was photos with her groom right before the ceremony at the Fountain of the Muses. "Of course I was totally emotional, and I think he got a kick out of it," she says. "There are photos of me with this horrible crying face and him just smiling at me. After the wedding, I cried when I looked at these photos for the first time. It was like I was reliving the moment again."

Also unforgettable that day, she says, was her walk with her parents down the aisle under the live oaks, wearing a simply timeless white gown by Paloma Blanca. Her closest friends stood beside her in cute, cobalt blue tea-length dresses, hues that complemented the garden's gorgeous greenery.

Sara envisioned a classic, traditional ceremony, complete with harpist accompaniment, to marry with a more contemporary "wow" factor of her reception tent behind Brookgreen's Gazelle Fountain. "There were chandeliers, trees, boxwood bars, sofas and benches. It was like an outdoor living space," she describes. Tables were skirted in turquoise, blues and pops of hot pinks that matched the bridesmaids' wraps.

Four food tents were manned with a sushi station and upscale buffets of beef tenderloin, turkey and the Southern standard of shrimp and grits. The Gores' "late-night" menu featured hot dogs after 9 p.m.

Guests boogied under the tent to the big band sounds of Swingin' Medallions and posed in the photo booth, complete with props, costumes and take-home photo printouts. "Little do my guests know, I have copies of each photo," laughs Sara.

Sara says she'll never forget the five minutes she and Tom had to sit down together, eat four pieces of sushi, and look out at everyone and everything they had painstakingly planned. "We were just happy to be sitting down," she says. "But it was just so great because we like to have fun and we were so happy to have everyone there. ... And it's really neat how every aspect of your life comes together in one weekend or one night: your childhood, your school and a new life together."

After honeymooning in the Anguilla British West Indies, Sara and Tom returned to their home in Myrtle Beach, where Sara is a real estate agent for Century 21 Boling & Associates and Tom is a project manager for Thompson Construction Group.