Real Wedding: Elegance in Uptown Charlotte at the Mint Museum

I had the pleasure of working with the best couple ever last summer! Jana + Jordan are so much fun to be around - it made wedding planning an absolute blast! When I first met with Jana + Jordan, we talked about their wedding being centered around a really great party. And that's exactly what they got! Their wedding day was full of joy and laughter, as they were surrounded by all their friends and family on a beautiful summer North Carolina day. Jana's vision for her wedding was simple elegance with an air of sophistication, in a neutral color palette of champagne, blush, and ivory, with pops of greenery. I love the hanging lampshades over some of the long tables, with a lush garland along the center of the table! It was such a statement piece, and looked incredible in the Grand Room at the Mint Museum Uptown. The cake was absolute perfection, and the definition of simple elegance with textured icing and sweet little flowers clusters on the cake tiers. We had custom monograms created for Jana + Jordan that was incorporated into all their paper goods and details. I really love using monograms (or some sort of symbol) with my clients because it's a fun, memorable keepsake to have after your wedding is over. Plus, it's a great way to really brand your event! We placed their gorgeous monogram on wedding day details like the ceremony program, wedding koozies and cocktail napkins, which is another great way to personalize your special day.

I'm pretty obsessed with theses photos by Crystal Stokes Photography from Jana + Jordan's wedding day, and I'm excited to share with you some of my favorites from this gorgeous summer wedding at the Mint Museum Uptown.

Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
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Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
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Wedding party style, blush J Crew bridesmaid dress, Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
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Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
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Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
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Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
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Monique Lhuillier wedding dress, Lace wedding dress, Bridal fashion, Wedding style, Wedding hair style, Bridal hair style, Half up half down hair style, Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host

These portraits in a little tucked away courtyard in Uptown Charlotte are my favorites!! How gorgeous are these two?!

pink ivory and greenery bridal bouquet, bouquet, Monique Lhuillier wedding dress, Lace wedding dress, Bridal fashion, Wedding style, Wedding hair style, Bridal hair style, Half up half down hair style, Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
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Textured wedding cake with rose clusters, Wedding reception decor, Wedding centerpieces, Wedding flowers, Museum wedding, Hanging wedding centerpieces, Monique Lhuillier wedding dress, Lace wedding dress, Bridal fashion, Wedding style, Wedding hair style, Bridal hair style, Half up half down hair style, Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
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Choreographed first dance for the win! This spin is everything, too!

Wedding cake, Textured wedding cake, Wedding cake with flower clusters, Wedding hair style, Half up half down hair style, Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
Mint Museum Uptown wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina by The Graceful Host
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Jana + Jordan, being a part of your wedding was such an honor! Seriously, can we do it again? I'm grateful to have had the chance to get to know you both and help you plan for your special day. So much love to you two!

And a huge thanks to the talented vendor team that made this wedding dreamy day so special
Planning + Design: The Graceful Host 
Photography: Crystal Stokes Photography
Floral Design: New Creations Flower Company
Paper Goods: Pink Toast Ink
Cake: Wow Factor Cakes
Videography: Crown Alley Films
Catering: Something Classic
Entertaining: The Retreat via Sam Hill Entertainment
Venue: Mint Museum Uptown
Hair: Mirror Bomb Studios
Makeup: Erin Ashley Makeup
Chair Rentals: Carolinas Luxury Rentals
Linens: Party Reflections  & Party Tables
Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier Bridal from Nitsa's Apparel
Bridesmaid Dresses: J Crew
Brides Shoes: Kate Spade

XO,
A.

How To Throw A Fiesta Party

Who wants to throw a fiesta?! There is no better party theme - for gatherings both big and small - than a Cinco de Mayo theme. All the vibrant colors, the energy of the holiday, and of course, the food. Tacos, anyone? Oh, and margaritas! Enough said, am I right?!

Fiesta birthday party

My sweet little boy, Ryan, recently turned one. (I can't believe I typed that! We have a one year old - Ekk!) So to celebrate such a big milestone, I decided to go with a fiesta party for his birthday. Pulling all the details together was so much fun! I'm sharing some of our party details and buying sources so that you can also throw a fabulous fiesta birthday party - or a "just because" fiesta for Cinco de Mayo on Friday!

Fiesta first birthday party
Fiesta first birthday party invitation minted

Loved our invitations from Minted.com! They were beyond perfect. Since all our family members live out of state (and not necessarily in driving range), I sent the invitations out 2 months in advance so that everyone both near and far would have time to mark their calendars and make arrangements, if they wanted to attend. I recommend sending invitations to your guests 6 to 8 weeks in advance for parties with primarily out of town guests, and 4 to 6 weeks for parties with guests mostly located in town. I'm a big fan of snail mail, so I went with a paper invitation. Minted is my favorite for purchasing invitations online. And you can always go the custom route and use a local stationer or Etsy shop vendor. But, evites are perfectly fine for party invitations, too! Some of my favorite places for electronic invitations are Minted, Paperless Post, eVite, and Punch Bowl.

Fiesta birthday party birthday cake and cupcakes
Fiesta birthday party cactus succulent cupcakes
Fiesta birthday party iced cookies
Fiesta birthday party
Fiesta birthday party birthday cake cinco de mayo party

I was completely obsessed with the cake and cupcakes Craft Cakes CLT created for the party! She executed my vision to the T! And bonus, y'all - they taste just as good as they look! Oh, and those cookies. Holy moly. Talk about delicious! Andrea with OneChic Cookie created these yummy and beautiful cookies. There were none left by the end of the party! The adorable cake topper is a banner from Etsy shop, Ay Mujer.

Fiesta first birthday party
Fiesta birthday party
Fiesta birthday party margarita bar drink display
Fiesta birthday party

I'm a sucker for a good margarita. So, I had to make sure we had plenty of tasty marg's for our guests. I know it's a childs birthday party, but let's face it - how many friends does a one year old have?! These early birthday celebrations are more for the parents, so don't forget to include adult beverages in addition to child friendly options. Keep scrolling to the end of this post where I'm sharing my tried and true margarita recipe!

Fiesta birthday party
Fiesta first birthday party oversized gold balloons
Fiesta first birthday party centerpieces
Fiesta birthday party centerpieces for cinco de mayo party

When you're planning a party, think carefully about where you place food and drinks. Your guests will tend to gravitate towards the bar and the food. So for a casual party, like this, I decided to put chips and salsa on each table so that guests had something to munch on while sitting and chatting with each other. I didn't want everyone to feel like they had to stand and eat because tacos aren't exactly a one handed food. Don't feel like you need to keep the food located in one place - spread it out amongst the party area.

Fiesta first birthday party cocktail napkins cinco de mayo
Fiesta first birthday party centerpieces cinco de mayo party
Fiesta first birthday party mini maracas
Fiesta birthday party centerpieces serape runner tablescape

It's no lie that I'm a sucker for details! So when planning for this party, there was no way that I would cut corners when it came to the details. Believe it or not, this was very easy to pull together. One of my favorite shops for theme party supplies is an online shop called Amols. That is where I got 99% of all the decor - from the banners to the margarita glasses to the various pinatas. (By the way, aren't these mini pinata's a trip? I'm obsessed!) The awesome serapes came from Leos Imports and were such high quality. I went to good ol' Home Depot for the cactus' and succulents, and wrapped them in tissue paper. It was an easy and inexpensive way to add color to the table and stick with my fiesta theme. We gave the succulents and cactus' away to our family and friends as parting gifts, if they wanted to take them. But we did keep one cactus for ourselves as a little memory of Ryan's first birthday party, and hope to incorporate it to our garden one day so that we can tend to it together once he's older! I sprayed cans gold to hold the "viva fiesta" paper flags. Cocktail napkins are always an easy detail that gets a lot of attention. These hilarious napkins from Etsy shop With Love And Ink were no different!

Fiesta birthday party decor cinco de mayo inspiration
Fiesta first birthday party centerpieces
Fiesta first birthday party centerpieces cinco de mayo mini maracas

I had way too much fun planning the details of this party - can you tell?! So grateful to Paige Winn Photography for capturing all the details for me so that I didn't have to have my phone on me at all during the party!

I decided to make his smash cake myself, and it's one of my favorite recipes! (Maybe I'll share in a future post. It's seriously delicious!) And if there is any doubt as to whether or not Ryan loved his first taste of cake, just keep scrolling down! (Spoiler: He demolished it! And it was the greatest thing I've ever witnessed!)

Fiesta first birthday party smash cake
Fiesta first birthday party
Fiesta first birthday party
Fiesta first birthday party smash cake

 

Okay, so now for the good stuff - the margaritas! This is the recipe I used for the party, and it's my overall go to for a refreshing cocktail that is easy to make.

The Perfect Margarita
- 2 oz Silver Tequila
- 1 oz Triple Sec
- 2 oz Lime Juice (basically, 1 medium lime)
- Garnish with sliced jalapeño peppers and/or cilantro for extra flavor

IMG_2132.JPG

Happy Cinco de Mayo, y'all!

XO,
A.

Mother's Day Gift Guide: For All The Moms In Your Life

There's no doubt that Mom's are the glue that hold our lives together. Your Mom always knows how to make you feel better, how to solve your problems, and how to make you feel extra special. Celebrate all the Moms in your life on May 14th - and maybe even cement your place as the favorite! - with this Mother's Day gift guide!

For the Mom who, is a new Mom
New moms are very sentimental. (Maybe it's all the hormones?!) Gift something full of meaning, like a necklace with baby’s initials, birthdate, or thumb print, like this one!

via Loveprint, Style #115SE

via Loveprint, Style #115SE

For the Mom who, is a new Grandmother
Fact: Moms love photos - especially photos of their Grand-babies! You can create these photo books through ChatBooks, which pulls photos from your cellphone, Instagram, Facebook, or through good ol' fashion uploading. There is no formatting required. Not only are the books easy to make, but they're affordable. In fact, your first book is free!

For the mom who, lives far away
Map it out! There may be distance between you and your Mom, but with something like this map artwork, it'll seem like she's right next door.

via Etsy

via Etsy

For the Mom who, just seems to do it all
Pampering is always appreciated by Moms. Consider gifting your Mom a mani/pedi, or a relaxing day at the spa!

For the Mom who, loves to be active
The gift of fitness goes a long way! For Moms who love to be active, gift them a subscription to ClassPass - a service that allows you to try different types of fitness classes, at various studios, in their city. She can go to a spin class one day, then to aerial yoga the next!

For the Mom who, is on the go
A fancy water bottle makes drinking water all day long so much better, am I right?! If your Mom is a busy bee, this gift will be a welcomed companion.

For the Mom who, is super organized
This daily planner will help Mom put herself back on the list. It serves as a planner - which will be helpful for those task-oriented Mommas - but it also incorporates both daily and weekly exercises, aimed to help you reflect on what brings you joy, and focus on making it a habit. 

For the Mom who, is a total techie
Dig up old video clips and/or photos, and create something to show Mom just how much you care about her. She'll cherish the memories and walk down memory lane!

For the Mom who, is a foodie
Technically, I think the "rule" of Mother's Day is that Mom doesn't have to cook. But, you might want to ignore that, and gift her a culinary experience for just the two of you, or maybe the whole family. Take a cooking class together and learn something new, while making memories. (If you're local to Charlotte, you have to try Chef Alyssa's Kitchen!)

For the Mom who, is impossible to buy for
Nothing makes a Mom happier than photos of her children (and Grandchildren!). Consider gifting your mom a photo session with a professional photographer. Come on, when was the last time you took a photo with a real camera and not your iPhone?! Get the family together and capture some memories - your Mom will love this gift!

For the Mom who, is a wine lover
Moms sure do love their wine, don't they? Well, there's a reason for that. Make happy hours a bit fancier. This ice mold from Crate & Barrel can freeze as is, or incorporate berries, citrus slices or fresh flowers before being frozen.

For the Mom who, likes everything to be in it's place
Help mom organize all those macaroni necklaces she's still holding on to with a bright and beautiful lacquer box, like this one from Lilly Pulitzer

via Lilly Pulitzer

via Lilly Pulitzer

Buying Guide Links
Expanding upon each post above, here are links to more products for some of the different mom "types"!
New Mom: ONE | TWO | THREE  // New Grandmother: ONE | TWO  // Lives Far Away: ONE | TWO  // Active: ONE // 
On The Go: ONE | TWO | THREE // Organized: ONE | TWO | THREE // Foodie: ONE | TWO // Wine Lover: ONE | TWO | THREE //
Likes Everything In It's Place: ONE | TWO | THREE

xo,
A.

How To Create A Centerpiece Using Grocery Store Flowers

Everyone has asked themselves the question: "What would I do if I had endless amounts of money??" You probably thought about little luxuries to splurge on like a personal chef to cook all your meals, or a housekeeper that cleans every day. While I wouldn't say no to either of those things, I love the idea of having fresh flowers in my house all the time. It just makes a home feel like a home - and a bit fancy! But, we don't need to wait to win the lottery in order to have beautiful flower arrangements in our home on a regular basis. Anyone can create a flower arrangement for under $30 - even with grocery store flowers from Trader Joe's! I'll show you how.

how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's

Trader Joe's always has the best flowers, so it's my go-to for fresh blooms. But the farmer's market is also an amazing place to find gorgeous flower from local growers. So, hunt for the best place in town. Know what vase you're planning to use before you purchase flowers. That way you know you will have enough to work with - or on the flip side, not have a whole bunch of left overs. My floral style tends to be more organic and textured. I was looking for flowers with natural lines, and tulips are perfect for that! Hyacinth was my go to for a little color contrast and texture.

flower arrangement using grocery store flowers from Trader Joe's
creating flower arrangements using grocery store flowers from Trader Joe's

Once you purchase your flowers, you'll need to process them them. This basically means that you will want to prep the flowers for being arranged. Be sure to stick the flowers in water after you get home - especially if you don't plan on arranging them right away. You'll want to cut each stem on an angle. This helps the extend the life of the flower because it can drink water better. You'll also want to remove any leaves and stems that might go into the water. Not only will this also help extend the life of your arrangement, but it'll create more space in the vase for your stems - which you will need! Put some water in the vase before you begin, and don't forget the flower food. I like to start with some greenery and the larger blooms first, adding in just a few pieces at a time to create a base.

Next, you will layer in the other blooms and start to create your shape. You can take stems out after you put them in! This is your arrangement, so edit as you go until you're happy with the look.

Depending on where you plan to display your masterpiece, you can either make a one-sided bouquet or one that can be viewed from all sides. Mine is going on my kitchen table, so I made an arrangement that can be viewed from any angle. And as you can see I did this on my kitchen counter, so you don't need a fancy work space or tools. Just a good pair of scissors! All in all this arrangement took me roughly 30 to 40 minutes to create, from the start of processing the flowers to filling up the vase with water after my last edit. It was the perfect creative project to do during naptime! 

And here is my final arrangement!

how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's
how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's
how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's
how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's
how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this floral arrangement is cat approved!

 

XO,
A.

How to Create a Wedding Website

There is no doubt we live in a digital age. And while that little fact can bring on it's own issues, it's also proven to be helpful in the wedding world. Don't get me wrong - paper invitations and RSVPs are considered proper etiquette for weddings. But wedding websites are rising in popularity - and necessity! With most weddings being a destination for guests, a website is an important piece of the puzzle to ensure wedding information is properly communicated and in some cases expanded upon. Save the dates and wedding invitations are for informing your guests about the time and place of your celebration. You should include additional cards with your invitation suite for other information, such as an accommodation card or direction card. Or you could just simplify it and include an additional card with your wedding website, and let the website guide your guests to all the additional information not communicated with your invitation that they'll need about your wedding weekend, such as dress code, transportation, and registry information.

Invitation Suite by Elisabeth Rose | Photography by Lauren Rosenau Photography

Invitation Suite by Elisabeth Rose | Photography by Lauren Rosenau Photography

Wedding websites should be something each couple creates for their wedding weekend. But how do you do it?! We create a complimentary custom wedding website for each of our couples, with a custom URL to go with it. (See the photo above from Angela + Charlie's wedding.) Here are some tips on how to create your wedding website and what all you should include.

1. Do purchase your own domain. It's inexpensive and convenient! Make it something easy your guests can remember, like your names. But don't include this on your actual invitation. It should be printed on an accompanying card, such as an accommodation card.

2. Don't be intimidated about building your own website. There are plenty of websites that offer wedding website templates - Squarespace, Weebly, etc. They're easy to figure out and easy to customize. Minted actually offers wedding websites that match your wedding invitation suite.

3. Do let your guests know about the area attractions. Your out of town guests are going to want to experience the city where you're getting married through your eyes. So, create a tab where you share all your favorite restaurants, bars, and sights. Don't forget to include the contact information, like the website, physical address and phone number. 

4. Do share your registry information through your website. You should never include registry information in any of your invitations. So add a tab for your wedding registry on your website and link out to your wedding registry lists.

5. Don't feel like you need to share everything on your website. Keep it simple. The most important details to include is the when and where of the wedding, accommodations in the area, transportation, travel information, and registry locations. If you want to include a story about how you met and/or how you got engaged, then feel free... After all it is your wedding website! But don't feel like you need to include every little detail about your relationship and your bridal party on your website. Think of the wedding website as an extension of your invitation where you provide a bit more detail about the wedding weekend. Keep the wedding website focused on the events of the wedding weekend so that you can ensure that guests won't miss any details.

6. Do be mindful of what information you include on your wedding website. Yes there will be a rehearsal dinner, but if all your guests are not invited then it shouldn't go on your wedding website. Consider the website a place where you communicate information to everyone; not just family and vip guests. So if one of your room blocks is earmarked for family and bridal party only because there is limited availability, don't include it on the website or in your invitation suite. Share that information privately through email or word of mouth. You should include things like a welcome party or farewell brunch, where all your guests are invited to attend. And you can use the website to allow guests to RSVP to these additional events.

7. Don't skip the paper RSVPs. Your website might have an RSVP function available, but please do not go all digital for your wedding RSVPs. I know, I know you don't want to pay for the RSVP card, envelope and postage, and this feels like a great area to save money. Remember, not all your guests will be Internet-savvy. And guests aren't very pro-active - they like things to be easy! So asking them to write their name, check a box, and put a pre-stamped envelope in the mail (which is already in their hand upon opening the invitation) is less steps than telling them to get online, type in a website, and RSVP. So, if you do plan to offer a digital RSVP option through your wedding website, you should still include an RSVP card with your invitation suite and just simply add a sentence at the bottom saying, "You may also reply by way of our wedding website: www.yourweddingwebsite.com." 

We are quoted on InStyle Weddings today giving some wedding website tips alongside other wedding pros. Check it out for even more tips and how-to advice!

What do you think of wedding websites? Are you planning to create your own wedding website? We want to know! :)

xo,
A.