A Super Celebration For The Watson Siblings

A Super Celebration For The Watson Siblings

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s …. a superhero! It was a joint birthday party for the Watson siblings - Bly who was turning 3 and Merci who was turning 1. Big brother Bly loves superheroes, so that was the chosen theme. But we added pops of pink and purple for a girly touch. I love the superhero theme because it's perfect for boys and girls! We had a “superhero training center” set-up with a bounce house and waterslide. It was a hot afternoon at the park, so the waterslide was a big hit! There was a face painter, as well as a cape bar so that the kids could suit up and look like a real superhero!

This Couples Blush And Ivory Wedding at the Ritz Carlton Urban Garden Will Make You Swoon

We kicked off 2019 with Molly + Adam’s beautiful wedding at the Ritz Carlton Urban Garden in Uptown Charlotte. I adore this couple so much! They are just as sweet as pie, and planning with them was such a joy.

We booked the Urban Garden at the Ritz Carlton for their reception because this unique space was a perfect fit for this outdoors loving couple’s February celebration. One reason I love the Urban Garden is because of all the beautiful light the comes pouring in from the windows, and the neutral look of the venue. It’s so easy to put your own personality on a space like this because there isn’t any competing decor. The color palette Molly chose was soft and romantic, with a delicate feminine touch, incorporating blush, ivory and champagne tones. Molly + Adam hosted just over 200 guests with a delicious plated meal for their reception style. Having a really fun party for all their loved ones was a priority for our bride + groom. So we booked a top-notch band for the reception entertainment, and included fun lounge furniture near the dance floor for a more intimate feel to the space. Our couple and their guests danced the night away!

I’m so excited that Molly + Adam’s wedding has been published in the Summer/Fall 2019 issue of The Carolinas Magazine!

Huge thanks to our talented team of vendors who helped make Molly + Adam’s day so perfect!
Photography: Cheyenne Schultz Photography
Planning + Design: The Graceful Host
Flowers: New Creations Flower Company
Paper Goods: Elisabeth Rose
Videography: Crown Alley Films
Church: Myers Park United Methodist Church
Venue: Ritz Carlton Urban Garden
Entertainment: Atlanta Groove Factory
Lounge Furniture: Old South Vintage Rentals
Hair + Makeup: Charisse with Be Pretty Charlotte
Brides Dress: Rivini Bridal from Hayden Olivia
Linens: Nuage Designs
Lighting: Wink Lighting
Draping + Rentals: Party Reflections
Ceremony Musicians: Queen City Ensemble

Molly + Adam, thank you so much for letting us be a part of your special day! We love y’all!


Enchanted Sleepover Birthday Party

This pink + purple enchanted birthday, full of butterflies, fairy lights and woodland details, made for the perfect 7th birthday celebration for Hollins! It was so much fun bringing our birthday girls ideas to life. I mean, what girl wouldn’t want a fun sleepover party?! This birthday party was a custom party kit order. In addition to providing a design plan, we also created a fun balloon garland that was draped over the sleepover tents, for an extra whimsical touch.

Huge thanks to all the vendors who helped bring Hollins’ dream birthday party to life!
Photography: The Graceful Host
Party supplies, design, + styling: The Graceful Host
Cake + desserts: Baked Well
Sleepover tents: Sleepover Dreams
Cake topper: Etsy

And it is such a thrill to see our Enchanted Sleepover Party featured on one of our favorite websites - 100 Layer Cakelet! See the full feature here.

An Elegant Ballroom Wedding At The Ballantyne Hotel

I hate when I get behind on blogging - because keeping these gorgeous images to myself is so hard! But I’m back, and playing a bit of catch-up with some of our beautiful weddings!

Katie + Jack are two of the nicest, and most fun people I know. I absolutely LOVED being a part of their wedding planning! There was always an abundance of laughter at our meetings. An even though it’s been almost a year since we celebrated Katie + Jack, their wedding is still so fresh in my mind. It was an epic party, y’all!! I’m so excited to share some of my favorite photos from their gorgeous, perfect wedding day.

Our bride, Katie, choose the Ballantyne Ballroom at the Ballantyne Hotel for the reception. It was a classic ballroom, which is what she was looking for in a reception space. Katie’s style is elegant, feminine, and fun. With a color palette of blush, rose gold, ivory, and champagne, we transformed the Ballantyne Ballroom. I mean, just wait until you see the draping! (Thanks, Bob!) When we first started out planning, Katie mentioned that she wanted to host a great party. So we aimed to create an environment that would give our couple the epic party they wanted - that meant incredible food, a top notch bar, and hiring the best entertainment. Katie was all about the details, which is something I can very much appreciate. From custom welcome boxes to the delicious late night snack, every single detail guests experienced was a perfect reflection of Katie + Jack! And when the bride cries tears of joy saying “I’m just so happy” …. you know you did your job!

It was just the best day ever! I’m so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to be a part of Katie + Jack’s beautiful wedding day. And a huge thanks to our talented team of vendors who helped make this day so special and flawless!

Planning + Design: The Graceful Host
Photography: Caroline Lima Photography
Flowers: New Creations Flower Company
Reception Venue: Ballantyne Hotel
Ceremony Venue: St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church
Cake: Wow Factor Cakes
Rentals: Party Reflections
Draping: Carolinas Luxury Event Rentals
Paper Goods: Girl Tribe Creative
Hair + Makeup: Makeup by Jenny Le
Dress: Romona Keveza
Dress Boutique: Ladies Of Lineage Bridal
Ceremony Musicians: Queen City Ensemble

New Party Kits Are Here!

I’m so over the moon to announce that the Spring 2019 party kits are now LIVE! The Party Shop is growing, and I couldn’t be more excited to add FOUR new party kits to the shop. So, without further adieu - Let me introduce you to the newest additions!

The Graceful Host Party Kits

Construction Crew Party Kit
For the lover of big trucks that “do work”, as my 3 year old says … this party kit is the one for you! A modern take on a popular birthday party theme.

Happy Birthday Mini Party Kit
Our new line of kits called the mini party kit (which serves up to 14 to 16 guests) launches with this Happy Birthday party theme. Perfect for ANY birthday celebration, whether there’s 1 candle or 100 candles on your cake!

Tutti Fruitti Party Kit
A fun and colorful addition to the shop that is just too darn cute! I bet you can’t hold back a smile when you see these adorable pieces!

Blushing Bride Party Kit
Another new line making it’s debut during our spring launch is the new selection of wedding themed party kits! This bridal party kit is perfect for an engagement party or bachelorette celebration.

A percentage of Party Shop purchases made between April 30, 2019 and May 31, 2019 will go to support a cause and mission that I adore - The Birthday Party Project.

Who needs a party kit?
We all want to create unique celebrations that foster unforgettable family memories. But sadly, sometimes life gets in the way of our planning and procrastination gets the best of us.

(Am I right?!)

Enter the Party Kits! Your new handy tool to creating a fabulous party, minus the hassle and stress! Each kit comes complete with paper supplies, decor and a style guide, for extra party planning guidance and inspiration, as well as DIY project ideas that relate to your chosen party theme.

My goal in creating this product was to make it easier for you to celebrate all the fun moments and milestones of life! The Party Kits are a solution to the busyness we all experience. I've carefully sourced and designed each Party Kit so that you can create your own a well-styled, creative celebration! 

Perfect for the person who ...
... doesn't have any time to shop around.
... loves to throw parties.
... wants their event to look beautiful and Pinterest-worthy.
... likes to be hands-on, but maybe isn't super crafty.
... doesn't know where to find the best party supplies and decor.
... needs help party planning, but doesn't want to hire a planner.

And Party Kits can be repurposed for all sorts of occasions and theme parties - not just kids parties!

So how does this all work?
Check out our selection of TEN party kits now available in the shop, and make your selection. Each Party Kit was designed to take the stress out of party planning - so they are inclusive of everything you need to! Party Kits come complete with:

  • Party supplies, including the plates, napkins, cups, & cutlery (serving approximately 32 guests for the party kits, and 16 guests for the mini kits)

  • Stylish decor, like balloons, banners, etc., that relate to the box's theme

  • Access to a style guide with helpful party planning tips and advice, as well as tutorials for DIY project ideas that relate to your party kit theme

Party Kits are shipped directly to you in 1 to 3 business days from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Head to the shop now to learn more about the Party Kits!


PS. You can check out Ashley's interview from August 2018 during the initial launch of the Party Kits on Charlotte Today by following this link!


Featured: A Beautiful Pastel Colored Wedding at Foundation For The Carolinas

It’s always so exciting to see our couples featured on blogs and in magazines. I’m so thrilled to see Sarah + Andrew’s gorgeous spring wedding at Foundations For The Carolinas featured on Grey Likes Weddings today!

Working with Sarah and her mom was so much fun. Sarah is a bride who knew what she wanted, and I was so excited to bring her vision to life! Our beautiful bride chose a spring-inspired color palette of dusty blue, peach, blush, and ivory, with accents of rose gold. The colors reflect the bride and grooms personalities and style - elegant and classic, yet still modern and fun! She and Andrew chose the Foundation For The Carolinas as their venue because of the gorgeous views of Uptown Charlotte.

Family is important to Sarah and Andrew. And while there were many thoughtful details throughout their wedding, one of Sarah's favorite personal details involved her wedding day jewelry - a sapphire and diamond ring that belonged to my grandmother, borrowed from her mom, as her something borrowed, something blue and something old. As her something new, she wore a rose gold bracelet given to her by her best friend and Maid of Honor.

After the wedding, I asked Sarah what was her favorite moment of the day was - and she said, the first look. "We debated even doing a first look because we weren't sure if it would take some of the magic away from seeing each other when I walked down the aisle," she said. "But I am so, so glad we did this! Having the first look really calmed my nerves and grounded me for the day." Sarah goes on to say that not rushing through portraits or family photos, especially with her sister, was important." And one of my favorite memories was the room reveal with Sarah. We had been working together for about 14 months to plan and design her wedding. It’s always exciting to do a room reveal with my couples - but especially when we’ve been dreaming of this day for so long! To see Sarah and Andrew’s vision come to life was just the best feeling!

I love this, too, and just had to share …. I had asked Sarah to reflect on her wedding day, and she says, "I actually debated on having a smaller wedding or having a bigger wedding because it is honestly a lot of money to spend on one day. However, after having the wedding I would never have a smaller wedding. There is truly something to be said about having all of your family and best friends in one room to celebrate you. The day did go by fast, but the memories we made we will have forever. Both of us look back and remember how much fun we had, and every time we run into someone that was there they always bring up how amazing our wedding was and it makes us so happy!"

Sarah and Andrew (and Lois!), working with you two was a dream! I’m so honored to have been a part of your wedding, and I’m over the moon to finally share the beautiful photos from your perfect day!

Thanks to our vendor team for all their talent and hard work!
Wedding Planner + Designer: The Graceful Host
Photography: Josh Deaton Photography
Floral Design: New Creations Flower Company
Paper Goods: Elisabeth Rose Social Stationery
Hair & Make-up: Be Pretty (Lindsey Regan Thorne)
Ceremony + Reception Venue: Foundation For The Carolinas
Catering: Best Impressions Catering
Reception Entertainment: The Dickens
Cake: Wow Factor Cakes
Rentals: Party Reflections
Linens: La Tavola
Table Top Rentals: Emerson James
Furniture Rentals: Old South Vintage Rentals
Uplighting: Wink Lighting
Wedding Dress Designer: Modern Trousseau
Wedding Dress Boutique: Hayden Olivia
Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Yoo from Brideside
Grooms Attire: The Black Tux

Why Do I Need A Party Theme

Let's talk about party themes. It's a frequent topic of conversation in most online mom groups, when discussing party planning ideas for kids. And have you hopped on Pinterest lately? Because it's covered with party planning themes for everything from baby showers to milestone birthdays, holiday parties to fake national holidays (I'm looking at you national chocolate chip cookie day!).

Some people really like a theme. Some people really don't like a theme. But the truth is, every party has a theme of some kind - obvious or not. Even the theme-less parties share a common thread, whether it's the color scheme or the overall style of the party. 

The truth is a theme helps you tell a story. A theme helps you make decisions. A theme helps you keep on track. A theme keeps your party looking cohesive and together.

See? A theme is a good idea after all!

So where do you begin - How do you chose a theme (or concept) for your gathering? 

My number one piece of advice is don't overthink it. This shouldn't be stressful or difficult - it should be fun. See an idea that catches your eye? Run with it! It can even be as simple as choosing one the birthday boy or girl's favorite things - favorite color, favorite food, favorite activity, favorite toy, favorite character. For my son Ryan's  second birthday party, we went with Party Animals. It wasn't really something I had seen before, but I decided to go with it because he loves animals - especially tigers! So it has a bit of a circus vibe with the vibrant colors and stripes, but highlights his favorite thing, which is animals.

Chrissy Winchester Photography_GracefulHost-39.jpg

And hey, if you're still having a hard time figuring out a party theme, head to the almighty Pinterest or Google and search for "birthday party themes". Also, in our Party Kit shop you'll see a bunch of great themes to choose from!

See more from Ryan's 1st Birthday || See more from Ryan's 2nd Birthday

Have any questions about birthday party themes or about our Party Kits? Let me know!


Defining Roles Within The Wedding Industry

defining roles within the wedding industry

There is a lot of terminology out there in the wedding industry for the various roles and services couples can choose from. It can be really difficult for Brides and Grooms (and their families) to understand who does what, and to know what the best option for them might be. In this blog post, I'm looking at wedding planning ... or coordination, or whatever term you use for this role/position/job.

Let's look at the list ... we have:

Wedding Planner
Wedding Designer
Wedding Coordinator
Event Planner
Day-of Coordinator, or Day-of Planner
Event Management
Creative Director
Venue Coordinator
Wedding Stylist

How do we define these roles?

Here at The Graceful Host, I really consider myself to be a Creative Director. However, since this isn't a very common term in this particular industry (at least not yet), using it exclusively might confuse couples - and I honestly only want to make things easier for others to understand what it is that I do. So, I refer myself a "Wedding Planner + Designer" for ease.

A wedding planner is a person who focus' on the planning and logistics. They are responsible for managing all vendors, communication is streamlined. provide structure to wedding planning, and ensure all logistics are executed to perfection.

A wedding designer is a person who creates the overall design and vision. They conceptualize the design and communicate that with all the vendors. The designer relies on the vendors to execute the look, given his or her direction.

A creative director shares a very similar role with a wedding designer, but takes it one step further. Not only will the creative director conceptualize the design of the event and communicate those plans to the vendors, but they'll also direct the vendors through the creation of the design. This means working very closely with the vendor team to make sure all pieces of the puzzle are carefully planned and coordinated so that the event design is executed as it was conceptualized.

What about the other roles? 

There is so much overlap and many similarities between all of the roles listed above. In many cases one title will encompass another - for example, a wedding planner will also serve as a "day-of coordinator". Let's take a closer look at defining these roles, as well:

Let me start out by saying that this one drives me nuts because there are way too many terms for this role. A wedding coordinator is the same thing as a day-of coordinator, or a day-of planner, or event management, or month-of coordination, or month-of planning. This person is focused on the coordination of the wedding or event planned. They typically step in around the 3-month mark to begin the transition and take over from there. This is why the term "event management" has come about in recent years. There is no such thing as a planner who can successfully handle just the "day-of" or the "month-of". And if someone does promote services that begin with just under a month before the wedding day ... run. They don't know what they're doing! The bride would have been responsible for all planning and booking of vendors up until the event manager steps in. This person will spend a lot of hours combing through your notes, communicating with your vendor team, and making sure your event day is set-up for success. As you can see, their jobs begin well before the wedding day.

It might be confusing to couples why some people call themselves an event planner vs a wedding planner. But it's really an easy explanation - events implies that the person handles more than just weddings. Events include things like birthday parties, showers, rehearsal dinners ... gatherings of any kind. While most wedding planners offer additional services like rehearsal dinner planning, welcome party gatherings, bridal showers, etc., they might only offer them to their existing wedding clientele vs. it being a standalone service, like an event planner would.

This one also deserves some in-depth explanation because it can cause confusion for couples when they are considering hiring vendors. A venue coordinator (or any individual that works for a venue and serves as your point of contact for the venue) is not the same as any of the roles above. They do not preform the same duties as a wedding planner, or a wedding designer, or a wedding coordinator. This person is simply the events manager at the venue you've chosen to host your wedding or event. Their responsibility pertains to all things related to your venue - not the entire wedding. Which means, your venue coordinator will not help you find your photographer (they might have a vendor referral list, but that list is not curated to reflect your style needs, budget, event goals, etc. That list is a recommendation of wedding professionals that the venue enjoys working with). They will not help you create a wedding day timeline, or deal with the logistics of your wedding day. They will not communicate with your vendor team on your behalf. They will not help you book vendors, or read through contracts making sure everything you need/are expecting is accounted for. They will not go with you to your floral meeting. They will not help you with the design of your wedding. Now, they might help you plan a menu - if the caterer is considered in-house for that venue. An example of this is with hotels and country club venues that do not permit outside catering. The reason you receive assistance is because catering is part of the venue. Another example: a venue coordinator might offer linen samples to choose from and/or chair choices that come with your rental package. This is not the same as what a wedding designer does or assisting with creating a wedding design plan. They are simply showing you what is available through their rental partner(s) because certain amenities (might) come with your rental package. Wedding planners are responsible for every facet of your planning process, with special attention to logistics. Planners are focused on the wholistic view of the planning process and the actual wedding day. Wedding designers are responsible for bringing your vision to life, and like planners, look at the bigger picture rather than one piece of the puzzle.

A wedding stylist focuses on the styling of your event. They likely are not involved in the planning and concept creation of your event. But on the day-of your wedding or event they are there to make sure each detail planned looks as it should - from fashion to tablescapes to paper details. The role of a stylist overlaps with many other roles listed here, such as wedding designer and creative director, who also (usually) take on the role of stylist, ensuring their concept is executed to perfection.

Where should a couple begin?

You might be wondering how to know what the best choice is for you when it comes to hiring a planner (or designer, or coordinator!). A lot of couples begin the wedding planning process unsure of how much support and guidance they'll need. It's normal! So if you can relate to that - don't worry. It's not like planning for a complex event, like a wedding, is something you do every day. Some start out thinking Event Management will be sufficient, but they find out that they really need more help ensuring everything is crossed of their list - so a wedding planner would be a much better fit for their needs. Others might find out that they need more assistance creating a design plan and someone to help them better execute their vision because it's become too overwhelming of a task for them to do it alone - so hiring someone who is also a wedding designer is important in this case.

In many cases wedding planners offer design services to their clients. But you'll find that some are more focused on design than others. For example, The Graceful Host is focused on wedding design. The planning and logistics side is to things are still very, very important - but my brides seek out my services because of the design expertise that I offer. If design isn't that important to you, then you might not be a good fit for The Graceful Host. And that's okay! It just means that you'd be a perfect fit for another planner who's focus is more on the logistics side.

Before you dive into wedding planning of any kind, take some time to figure out what you truly need and why you might want to hire someone to help you, in whatever capacity. And be honest with yourself. Planning a wedding, even a small wedding (50-75 guests), can take a lot of time and energy! Then search for the right fit making sure you are working with someone who can provide a solution for your needs and problems, who will be a good personality fit for you to work with, and someone who you can trust. (That last one is a biggie!) You'll find that experience levels will differ, and services will differ from company to company - pay attention to that and to the language they use when describing their services. A company that has been in business for 6 years cannot easily be compared to a company who's been in business for 2 years. You'll see that difference in experience reflected in their service offerings and fees, as well as in how they operate.

A message to my fellow vendors ...

At the end of the day, planning a wedding takes a village. It's team work, y'all! A whole lot of coordinated team work. Each vendor needs to work closely together in order for the magic to happen. And our clients might not see everything we're doing behind the scenes - why should they, though? We need to listen to each other, respect each others needs and set each other up for success. We have to keep our clients wishes in mind and do what is in their best interest, as well as guide them in our area of expertise as the professional. Each and every vendor serves a purpose and fills a piece of the puzzle when it comes to a wedding or event. We all rely on each other when it comes to serving our clients well and providing an amazing final product. So, let's give credit where it's due (I'm looking at you social media and blogging!) and support each others craft.

Have anything to add to this conversation? I'd love to hear from you! Let me know your thoughts.





A Classic Garden Wedding in Covington, Louisiana

I always love getting the chance to share images and videos from our clients weddings! It's so much fun to go back and relive the day and savor all the memories.

Check out Cali + Arrington's wedding featured on Style Me Pretty!


Cali + Arrington's wedding day was pure magic. There really is no other way to describe it! There was a threat of rain all weekend. And when you're planning a complex outdoor event that includes constructing an on-site kitchen .... well, that just makes things a bit more challenging. But my team was up for the challenge! We began our installation 2 days before the wedding. We had a multi-tent set-up to accommodate the large size of the wedding - a large center tent with 2 bar tents on either side. The day before the wedding mother nature did not want to cooperate. We did our best to protect the grounds of the venue and keep high traffic areas looking pristine. But even a little rain in Louisiana can cause a problem. Luckily things started to dry up by the afternoon. We were left with high humidity, but I'll take that over rain any day! On the day of the wedding, we still had the threat of rain. Which doesn't sound like a big deal, but when you're planning a wedding with key outdoor spaces in the plans, it's a big deal. I kept a very close eye on the weather all day as our teams worked really hard to finish installation and set-up. Someone was looking out for us - or maybe it was the bourbon we buried at the venue?! - because while there was just one or two small showers, everything cleared up just before guests arrived and sunshine began to peek through the clouds, creating a beautiful glow at the North House. 


I absolutely adore this bride + groom - two of the sweetest people you'll ever meet! And it was a fun change of pace to hop down to my home state to plan, design and produce a wedding. With the wedding being on St. Patrick's day, Cali wanted to bring a little luck of the Irish to her wedding day. She chose a neutral color palette with lots and lots of lush and textured greenery. (We even incorporated little four leaf clovers into the bar accessories!) Our brides personal style is classic and timeless, with a love of clean lines and no fuss. And while Cali loved the idea of an organic garden party, with sprawling greenery and loose lines, we made some slight adjustments to the traditional garden party aesthetic so that our bride could have the look she loved within a style that felt most like her.


In true Louisiana fashion, there was a large emphasis on the party! Good food and entertainment took centerstage. Our menu was full of Louisiana favorites like a raw oyster bar, jambalaya, fried catfish, and BBQ shrimp. And the band Crescent City Soul kept the dance floor packed all night long - Y'all, this was one killer party ... just wait until you see the video! The signature drinks on the bar was another fun detail for our bride + groom and a chance for them to incorporate their beloved pets into their wedding day - each drink was named after their dogs.


Cali + Arrington are both very family focused. And they both come from very large families! It was important to them that they get married in a church ceremony surrounded by their family and close friends. The chose Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which is the chapel at the high school Cali attended. It was a beautiful ceremony, centered around Christ and the journey of marriage Cali + Arrington were beginning together. Paying respect to and keeping family close was top of mind. The bride wore jewelry from several women in her life that have been important role models. "I wore gold and Sapphire jewelry, as my birthday is in September. It was also my grandmother’s favorite stone and she passed away a few weeks before we were engaged. My bracelet I wore was passed down to me from her. My earrings are my “aunt” Stephanie’s who has been like another mother figure to me. My ring is my other grandmother’s wedding ring. She could not be present for the wedding as she has been battling Alzheimer’s for many years. They were there in spirit and it was so special to have a part of them there with me," explained Cali. I love all the special touches she incorporated! 


Another favorite moment was the father-daughter dance. Cali and her dad danced to less traditional song, "We Are The Champions". It was perfect for them! It's a song that she and her sister, Payton, have danced to in their home since they were kids. Everyone was cheering as they took the dance floor because it embodies the "Spell Family" mantra. Cali has such a tight knit family and loved that Payton joined them on the dance floor. She says, "It was a perfect moment that I will cherish forever!"


I'm so excited to share more photos from this beautiful day with this amazing couple! And don't miss Cali + Arrington's wedding film - it's such a gorgeous recap of this special day. 

A HUGE thank you to our amazing team of talented vendors. It takes a village to make a complex installation of a 330-person wedding, with multiple venues, flow seamlessly... but this team made it look easy!

Planning + Design, Invitations + Paper Goods: The Graceful Host
Photography: Erin McCall
Floral Design: Poppy & Mint Floral Company
Band: Crescent City Soul
Rentals: Gulf Coast Events And Rentals
Rentals: Luminous Events
Videography: Harmonic Films
Cake: Maple Street Bakery
Ceremony Venue: Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel
Reception Venue: North House Home and Garden
Catering: Margo Bouanchaud Catering
Makeup: Lynna Vo Beauty
Wedding Dress: I Do Bridal Couture
Bridesmaid Dress, Brides Dress: Monique Lhuillier
Bridesmaid Dress Shop: Bella Bridesmaids
Draping: Quest Drape
Photobooth: HD Photobooth
Coordination: Girls In Black


Cali + Arrington, thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your special day! I had an absolute blast working with you both! Sending you two lots of love!


Introducing: The Graceful Host Party Kits

The BIG day is finally here! The Graceful Host shop is open - and Party Kits are live!

It's time to make party planning simple, again! Because it doesn't have to be complicated. 

We've all been there. You're pouring through page after page on Pinterest, searching for party inspiration. Trying to figure out what theme you're going to pick this year, while being inundated with photo after photo, idea after idea. There's so much content out there! Then, after you finally pick a direction - where on Earth the do you find all this freaking stuff?! How do I make my party look like this?!

You don't need to spend hours, upon hours designing a party. Who has the time, anyways?
You might not feel like the creative type, or have all that extra energy to pour into DIY projects. You've got plenty of other things to worry about!
You want all the cute decor that makes you ohh and ahh, but you just don't know where to go searching for it. Getting started can feel so overwhelming!

I see you, friend... and I want to help you!!

Party Kit, The Graceful Host Party Kit, Party Supplies, Kids Birthday Party Ideas

We all want to create unique celebrations that foster unforgettable family memories. But sadly, sometimes life gets in the way of our planning and procrastination gets the best of us.

(Am I right?!)

Enter the Party Kits! Your handy tool to creating a fabulous party, minus the hassle and stress! Each kit comes complete with paper supplies, decor and a style guide, for extra party planning guidance and inspiration, as well as DIY project ideas that relate to your chosen party theme.

My goal in creating this product was to make it easier for you to celebrate all the fun moments and milestones of life! The Party Kits are a solution to the busyness we all experience. I've carefully sourced and designed each Party Kit so that you can create your own a well-styled, creative celebration! 

    Perfect for the person who ...
    ... doesn't have any time to shop around.
    ... loves to throw parties.
    ... wants their event to look beautiful.
    ... likes to be hands-on, but maybe isn't super crafty.
    ... doesn't know where to find the best party supplies and decor.
    ... needs help party planning, but doesn't want to hire a planner.

    Party Kits, The Graceful Host Party Kit, Superhero party, Kids birthday party

    And now we're LIVE!

    So how does this all work?
    Each Party Kit comes complete with:

    • Party supplies, including the plates, napkins, cups, & cutlery (serving approximately 24 guests)

    • Stylish decor, like balloons, banners, etc., that relate to the box's theme

    • Access to a style guide with helpful party planning tips and advice, as well as tutorials for DIY project ideas

    All Party Kits are shipped directly to you in 1 to 3 business days from Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Head to the shop now to learn more about the Party Kits!


    PS. You can check out Ashley's interview on Charlotte Today about the Party Kits by following this link!

    A Colorful and Whimsical Wedding at the Mint Museum Uptown in Charlotte

    Jessie + Austin met in high school, but never dated. It took a few years of persistence from Austin, with Jessie "brutally shutting him down" as she says, for her to agree to a date with Austin. It was after that first date the summer of their freshman year of college that Jessie fell head over heels for Austin! And after several months of flirting and long distance (don't worry - Austin made her sweat a bit. Unknowingly, of course!), they made their relationship official.

    You'll never meet a couple more madly in love or incredibly down to Earth as Jessie + Austin. They are the life of the party and love to have fun in every situation. Their connection is unmistakeable! Just wait until you see their gorgeous images from Anchor & Veil Photography. They never shy away from adventure and new experiences. Trying new restaurants and recipes and exploring new places is one of their favorite things to do together. But as much fun as going out can be, they also love lay low by make a pallet on the floor and watch moves with some wine in tow.

    Jessie came to me wanting to create a unique experience for her loved ones. She said she wanted it to feel like one big party, with an amazing atmosphere, great food and lots of dancing - not stuffy or stiff, or too formal. Our sweet bride had a vision, and she was drawing inspiration from many different color palettes and styles - from whimsical and classic to sweet and modern. She didn't quite know where to begin and how to sort through everything. As we when through my design process, we were able to get to the heart of her vision and create a cohesive design that captured our bride's gorgeous style. The end result felt fun, eclectic and most importantly, different - and that is exactly what Jessie wanted! We infused a vibrant color palette into our design, using a range of purples, burgundy, pinks, creams, and pale yellow with abundant amounts of greenery for an ultra-romantic touch. It is traditional with a twist, as we mixed aesthetics to create a detailed and color-filled day for this sweet-as-can-be couple!

    Huge thanks to our talented team of vendors who made this day so perfect for Jessie + Austin!
    Planning + Design: The Graceful Host
    Photography: Anchor & Veil Photography
    Flowers: New Creations Flower Company
    Paper Goods: Elisabeth Rose Social Stationery
    Videography: Brian Bunn Films
    Cake: The Wow Factor Cakes
    Rentals: Party Reflections
    Catering: Something Classic Catering
    Venue: The Mint Museum Uptown
    Officiant: Rev Rebecca Nagy
    Hair: Mirror Bomb Studios
    Makeup: Erin Ashley Makeup
    Dress: Romona Keveža
    Dress Boutique: Ladies Of Lineage
    Bridesmaid Dresses: Brideside
    Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux
    Entertainment: Split Second Sound

    Jessie + Austin, you two are such a joy to know! I loved every second of our time planning together and your perfect wedding day. Thank you for trusting myself and my team to execute your vision! Love you both!


    Three of the Biggest Mistakes A Host Can Make

    Throwing a killer party requires a lot of careful planning. There's a lot of pressure on the host(ess) to throw a great party for their invited guests! You need to think about the atmosphere you're creating, a food and beverage menu that will leave your guests satisfied, and the overall flow of the party. Sounds like a lot of layers, right?? Well, that's because it is!

    Let's talk about the three biggest mistakes a host can make - so that you can avoid them.


    #1 Not factoring in guest count during the planning process. The first thing a host need to do is figure out the guest list. You cannot begin to plan for a party without knowing how many people you expect to walk through the door! Are you inviting more people than your venue, or home, can accommodate? Will your anticipated headcount bring you over your desired budget? Knowing your guest count before you begin planning anything will help you tremendously and cut down on the stress that party planning can potentially bring.

    #2 Not accepting outside help. Planning a party, regardless of the size, requires organization and can be a bit of a juggling act for even an experienced host. Don't be a hero, y'all. Allow outside help! Let your significant other, friend, or family members to pitch in - it can be a big help to have an extra set of hands! And consider outsourcing for things like catering and/or rental needs. It will save you time and allow you to enjoy your party. Plus, the professionals do this on a daily basis and have the equipment you need to properly execute a party, and can make recommendations so that your party is a big success. 

    #3 Not thinking about the flow. Ever notice how everyone always seems to end up in the kitchen at parties? Thats because guests tend to gather around the food and drinks! When setting up seating areas, as well as food and drink areas, think of how your guests might naturally move through the party space - and where you want them to gather. Make sure your guests have a clear path to the goodies! (That would be the food and beverages.) Move furniture, if needed, so that guests move more freely throughout the party. And if you don't want guest to gather in one room, then spread the food and drink out. Extra Tip: I like incorporating appetizers and small bites within the seating areas to keep guests satisfied and conversations flowing.

    Let’s hear it: What do you think of this list? Any other big party faux pas’ we didn’t mention?!

    Cheers to throwing a great party!

    Party Animals Birthday Party

    Why do kids have to keep growing up?! I feel like we were just celebrating our baby boy turning one, and now I blink and he's TWO! 

    After Ryan's first birthday fiesta, I swore I'd take it easy on the next birthday party. But once I decided on the theme of "Party Animals", I just couldn't hold back - there were too many cute ideas floating around! Let's face it, there will eventually come a day when Ryan doesn't want a birthday party (cue tears!), or he'll want to do something less adorable than what I have in mind. So I'm making the most of it for now! Plus, the party planner in me just can't help it.

    I went with "Party Animals" because Ryan really loves animals, especially cats ... or kitty kittys as he calls them. (I think it's the thrill of the chase that he's attracted to, really!) Once that theme clicked, the ideas started rolling in.  Tiny animals wearing party hats, a big colorful balloon garland, tails on chairs, a primary color palette, tambourine favors - the possibilities for decor were endless. A lot of love went into this party. The two major (and easy!) DIY projects were the tiny party hats for the mini animals and the colorful balloon garland decor. Tedious projects, but honestly they really only took a few hours each, and the end result was well worth it!

    General party tips to parents: I'm a big believer in renting certain items to make life easier on the host(ess), like linens, tables and chairs. I personally don't want to have to invest in purchasing those things and then storing them. I also recommend outsourcing catering. It is 100% worth it! We went with BBQ, at my husbands request - and I love it because it was easy for guests to eat, crowd pleasing and it's filling. And yes, even a kids birthday party needs a signature drink! It's perfectly acceptable to serve alcohol at a kids birthday party. You want to cater to your guests - adult and children, alike! Our two signature drinks were Zoo Water (a non-alcoholic option) and Jungle Juice (an alcoholic option).

    This was such a fun party to design, and I'm really excited to share it with you!

    You can recreate this party, too, using the Party Animals party kit in the shop!


    Ethereal Blush and Mustard Wedding Inspiration

    I always jump at the opportunity to collaborate with fellow creatives to create things that aren't always seen in the world of wedding design! Like new design concepts, or interpretations of different aesthetics, or color palettes that aren't commonly done.

    We all know that blush is a favorite among brides. And I can't really fault anyone for that! But, I love to pair this sweet color with other shades - like peach or mauve - that give this common tone a bit more depth and dimension. I seriously love this color combination of blush pink and mustard! I hope mustard take centerstage one of these days - it's the most beautiful and underrated color! It can really pack a punch when added into a color palette. The tablecape was designed with the idea of spring on it’s way. Springvine Design created arrangements combining soft and bold florals colors and textures to bring our vision together so beautifully!

    I wanted to keep our brides style approachable. After all, editorials are all about inspiration, so if someone can't recreate it then what good did it serve?! This lace Claire Pettibone dress was absolutely incredible! The cape was just so elegant and ultra romantic - it was the perfect "something extra", to take this would be bohemian look to the next level. 

    It's such a thrill to see this editorial shoot featured on Inspired By This! To see the full feature, click here.  Below are some of my favorite images by the very talented Allison Kuhn Photography.