Paula Marie Rawls of Columbia and Ethan G. Walter of Charlotte, North Carolina, were united in marriage Oct. 14 at the South Lawn Garden Patio of the Ballantyne Hotel in Charlotte. The Rev. Dr. Patrick Maloy officiated the 5:30 p.m. ceremony.
The bride is the daughter of Mrs. Shirley Kozma Rawls and the late Mr. James Stuart Rawls III of Columbia. She is the granddaughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Paul “PK” Kozma of Kingstree and the late Mr. and Mrs. J. Stuart Rawls Jr. of Columbia. She graduated summa cum laude from Presbyterian College and earned her graduate degree in social work from the University of South Carolina. She is employed as a licensed clinical social worker.
The groom is the son of Mr. David Walter and Mrs. Randi Walter of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is the grandson of Mrs. Lynn Greenberg and the late Mr. Lenny Greenberg of New York and Mrs. Ruth Walter and the late Abner “Goodwin” Walter of Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wake Forest University, and he is employed with Allegis Global Solutions as program director.
Charlotte Strings for Events String Trio provided music.
Maid of honor was Amanda Gudgel of Knoxville, Tennessee. Matron of honor was Amanda MacVittie of New Jersey. Bridesmaids were Emma Phillips and Courtney Wilson, both of Columbia; Brooke Clariday of Orangeburg; Amber Travis of Raleigh, North Carolina; Sarah Machold of Harrisonburg, Virginia; the bride’s sister-in-law, Ashley Rawls of Lake Wylie; and the groom’s sister, Jordan Bolooki of Miami.
Best man was Jared Blackburn of Raleigh, North Carolina. Groomsmen were David Barnhill of Tampa, Florida; Chuck Leonard of Cape Coral, Florida; Zac Jordan and Matt Nicola, both of Charleston; Michael Norton of Baltimore; the bride’s brother, Jay Rawls of Lake Wylie; the groom’s brother-in-law, Sasan Bolooki of Miami; Connor Hammond of Hoboken, New Jersey; and David Sontheimer of Oakland, California.
Ushers were Mike Denman of Charleston and Jason DeKoster of Baltimore.
A reception followed in the main ballroom of the Ballantyne Hotel.
The couple took a wedding trip to Boone, North Carolina; a delayed honeymoon will be next summer. The couple will reside in Charlotte.
In their own words
Q: How did you meet?
A: Ethan and I literally “ran” into each other. Both of us have a huge love for the outdoors and for exercise. We ran past each other for almost a month at Riverfront Park, only acknowledging each other by waving. But all that changed one Saturday morning in October 2013, when we finally bumped into each other at our gym, where we officially introduced ourselves; soon after we started running the canal together.
Q: When did you know your fiance was “the one”?
A: When we both realized that everything we used to enjoy independently – from running, cooking, biking, hiking, traveling, to even decorating for Christmas was just that much more of an experience with the other by our side; someone who gets your sense of humor and can balance your desire to make plans with their desire to be spontaneous.
Q: Tell us about the proposal.
A: We were making trips back and forth after he moved to Miami in 2015. Ethan proposed at midnight Dec. 11, 2015, in the Miami Airport – a complete surprise as I got off the plane and made my way to baggage claim, both exhausted and excited to see him. I thought he was waiting for me as usual in the cellphone parking lot, but when I turned the corner to luggage claim, I saw him standing there, holding a sign: “Welcome to Miami, Miss Rawls.” He flipped it over; the other side said, “Will you be Mrs. Walter?” He dropped to one knee and proposed with everyone around us shrieking with excitement, and to my surprise, his sister and brother-in-law caught it all on video.
Q: What are you most looking forward to on the wedding day?
A: Definitely looking forward to the relief of knowing the planning and list-making is over – and talking to each other about new topics, not related to wedding planning.
But, really, I am looking forward to, with a little bit of nervous anticipation, our “first look” before the ceremony and then shortly after to share the vows that we have each written.
And of course, I can’t wait for the mother-daughter moment where my mother helps me get into my wedding dress and veil.
Q: How did you choose the venue where you will be married?
A: Several reasons! After looking at multiple venues and discussing hundreds of details, when you are both finally in agreement on a venue, you know it’s the one!
Getting married on two paddleboards at the beach or on the peak of a mountain was probably going to be challenging to get family and friends “on board” or safely to the mountaintop and, believe me, we looked into both of these options.
Together with my mom, we drove up a steep mountainside to a beautiful mountain wedding chapel on a cold foggy rainy day in January. Just running through the parking area to enter the chapel, we were completely drenched. Just after my umbrella turned inside out and blew out of my hand, I turned to Ethan and said, “Well, I guess this really isn’t that romantic.”
Since I knew I still wanted a romantic venue, the search continued. We fell in love with the our venue, The Ballantyne Hotel, located in one of our favorite areas in the South; it was the perfect location with indoor and outdoor options. Another drawing factor was that it was available in October – a memorable month for us and what better weather in the South than the crisp fall of October? We also wanted a Friday wedding because this would give us a full weekend to celebrate with our family and friends traveling in from all over the world.
Q: What was the significance of the music played during your ceremony?
A: I wanted to incorporate a mix of modern and classic music. Choosing music because it is traditionally used in wedding ceremonies was not for me. Each piece of music for the ceremony was selected carefully and was significant.
For my walk down the aisle, I wanted music that was moving and meaningful to me, so I chose “A Thousand Years” played by a string trio. We have lived almost 700 miles apart during our entire engagement and wedding planning process because of our jobs, so the lyrics of the song and the concept of waiting to be together has special significance.
For the parents to enter I chose “Over the Rainbow.” This song is special to my mom and to me. It brings to mind happy memories. Just as Judy Garland said, “it is so symbolic to everyone’s dreams and wishes that I’m sure that’s why some people get tears in their eyes when they hear it.”
Q: Will you have something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue? What are they?
A: Borrowed, my chapel-length veil; blue, my dusty blue Badgley Mischka heels; new, my dress by designer Essense of Australia from Evelyn’s Bridal in Lugoff; old, my grandmother’s vintage cameo.