May Day for Olga Norman and Tyler Thorn certainly wasn't a distress signal, but a sacred, symbolic start to their new life together as husband and wife on May 1.
Myrtle Beach native Olga took the meaning behind the holiday to heart, a day that marks the anticipation of spring and warmer weather, with a grand outdoor wedding overlooking the Atlantic on the sprawling grounds of the Stanford Hill residence, followed by an alfresco reception held under a tent only a few flip-flop paces away.
"It was important to me to have everyone feel comfortable," says Olga, who says she didn't care if the ocean breeze swept through her long, blonde hair.
Her carefree beauty is what caught the eye of her groom, Tyler, four years Olga's junior, when they met through mutual friends a few years ago. He pursued; she shied away, but she doesn't deny she was drawn to Tyler from the first moment she laid eyes on him. It took friends and Olga's older sister, Tosca, to finally give them a gentle nudge in the right direction. "Once they got us together, it was clear that we were a perfect match," says Olga.
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Now Olga can't thank her matchmakers enough for guiding her toward her soulmate. "He really treats me like a princess," she says. "When we first started dating, I had rescued a cocker spaniel, Lucky, and knew Tyler was special when he not only fell in love with Lucky, but he would always offer to walk him - even pick up his doggie doo-doo."
It was on Easter last year that Olga discovered just how special she was to Tyler, who would forgo the chocolate bunny for a diamond engagement ring. "Tyler surprised me with a heartfelt proposal and the most beautiful ring I have ever seen!" recalls Olga. "It was so surreal that it took an hour before I could start calling my family and friends."
But once she did, the planning began for their special day. Olga, a yoga instructor and co-owner of Myrtle Beach Diet (founded by her father, Dr. Fred Norman), knew she wanted the day to be a picture of health and nutrition, incorporating all things organic. "My big thing was fitness," says Olga. "With my parents' business of Myrtle Beach Diet, I wanted to represent health here in Myrtle Beach."
For starters, Olga fused shades of the ocean into her Mediterranean-inspired bridesmaids' dresses of brilliant, shimmering blues and greens, which also carried into her flowers: green orchids, pale roses and green berries bursting out of long, cylinder vases. The men wore sand-colored suits and flip-flops. "It was all very earthy," she says.
The couple's reception menu was a pleasant compromise of Olga's vegetarian diet and Tyler's preference for meat, with a prime rib carving station, as well as pasta and potato buffets, and a giant salad bar complete with all the fixins', including shrimp. Additional fun, festive highlights were a margarita fountain and a six-tier cake filled with layers like chocolate crunchy peanut butter parfait and key lime. "I wanted a really great cake," says Olga. "And my personality really showed here because the cake was pale yellow, my happy color, lined with bamboo and garnished with a green orchid."
The other essential element for any bride is the dress. Olga decided on a gown by Casablanca to flow with that ocean breeze, cinched into a heart-shaped bodice. "It made me feel like Grace Kelly," says Olga. "Very vintage and perfect for the outdoors - not rigid."
Olga's yoga friend, Dana Phillips, designed the wedding party's jewelry, including Olga's silver necklace, hand-engraved with "One Love" (a special tribute to the couple's love for Bob Marley's reggae) and a special bracelet given to Tosca, with "Sister" written in Sanskrit.
Shy and reserved Olga says her biggest fear was walking down the aisle - even in flip-flops - but she was able to muster the courage thanks to the strength of her father, who survived a heart attack only months earlier.
Olga and Tyler, owner of Thorn Contracting, are eternally grateful to have such tight-knit families in Myrtle Beach. So much so, their next-door neighbors are Tyler's parents and Olga's Italian grandmother, Noni, lives down the street. Family is what is most meaningful to them. "I realized that, leading up to the wedding, there's a bigger picture out there," says Olga. "You want things for your wedding to be perfect, like the magazines, but the bigger picture, like family and friends, is what is meaningful to me."