Q+A with Charleston’s Calder Clark

So excited to share a Classic Bride blog exclusive Q+A today with Calder Clark, the owner + creative director of Calder Clark©, a full service consulting and design firm in Charleston, SC, specializing in luxury wedding design. I’ve been a fan of CC for quite awhile and I think you’ll enjoy this inside peek as much as I did! Let’s get right to it …

Calder, what led you to event planning?
On the very last night of school at Washington + Lee, we stayed up all night (those were the days!). The sun was rising, and we were all lamenting our collectively unsuccessful job hunts, when an acquaintance suggested that he send my resumé to his sister’s best friend in DC. It was all very Ferris Bueller’s Day Off/31 Flavors. Within one week, I began my career in event planning at Design Cuisine, and never looked back.

Can you tell us a few things that inspire you on a daily basis?
Textiles are a big inspiration. For example, what Lee Jofa, F. Schumacher, Brunschwig & Fils, and Scalamandré are generating completely informs my designs. Great decorators are next- from Celerie Kemble to Tracery Interiors to Mary McDonald- they are constantly transforming spaces, and their fearlessness moves me. Lately, the “slo-gro” floral movement in California and Australia keeps me glued to my Instagram as these growers-turned-floral-goddesses churn out shoot after shoot and push the envelope with romantic floral design.

Tell us about a few favorite events you’ve planned, wedding or otherwise.
That’s like picking your favorite child- I can barely do it. I’m proud of everything we’ve touched as a team, and care so deeply about every affair we’ve nurtured from infancy to fruition. If forced, I’m naturally most in love with the one on which I’m currently working; the fresh one that hasn’t been “seen” yet. Working backward from that, there are a few in recent years that still stand up to our expectations of what makes a fabulous fête.

Favorite Charleston wedding venues?
I adore Middleton Place with all its sunken gardens, exquisite vistas, giant azaleas, and occasional peacocks. The William Aiken House and Lowndes Grove are also unstoppable in their commitment to excellence in service, food, and value; plus both are undeniably gorgeous, historically distinguished, and versatile.

In the wedding world, a huge focus is put on details. What are a few special details you remember from weddings you’ve worked on?
I am the first to say that a great party has 3 pillars: great food, top shelf booze, and a killer band. However, it’s silly to think you can make a party personal, intimate, thoughtful, and memorable without some of the lily-gilding for which we designers are known . . . and thus the details are the most fun to include. I particularly love kids’ tables; the sillier, the better- live goldfish centerpieces for the win!

How do you help couples personalize their weddings to avoid the cookie-cutter syndrome?
I tell them to eschew Pinterest and blogs. Instead, we ask them to leaf through bonafide magazines (gasp!) and coffee table books (double gasp!) and snap pictures for a “style file” for us to have. If they buy a pillow, I want to see the fabric and the detail. If they are about to invest in new furniture, I want in on the hunt. If they fall in love with a chandelier at ABC Carpet + Home, I want a text about it. Our process is so much more organic, natural, and realistic- and better informs me than visiting a pinboard full of images from an in-studio photo shoot that someone else has created.

Okay, last one is a selfish question – Any secret gems in Charleston (restaurants, bars, shops, etc.) you can share with us? 
My favorite restaurant of the moment is the Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s. Great wine list, they always have raw oysters, killer ricotta gnocchi with horseradish gremolata- need I say more? The interior alone inspires. I walk through Muffie Faith’s ESD in my neighborhood (the Old Village) just for motivation- she is an amazing curator and tastemaker. If I have the itch to ‘junque,’ as my family calls it, I hit Terrace Oaks Antique Mall or Six Mile Run. One Austrian porcelain salt cellar and an opaline wine goblet can beget a full-on tablescape! 

Thanks so much to Calder for sharing these great insights with us! xx.



  1. September 25, 2014 / 1:09 PM

    What fabulous advice!

  2. September 25, 2014 / 1:57 PM

    Putting those “junque-ing” locations on my list for my next visit! 🙂

  3. September 25, 2014 / 5:54 PM

    Love the blog post and love Calder even more!

  4. Sarah
    September 29, 2014 / 11:23 AM

    Let me know what you find, Emily! 🙂