2014

Just Married: Jackie O Inspired Wedding

Lauren and Will's classic and elegant Uptown Charlotte wedding at the Charlotte City Club will always be one of my favorite's. I fell in love with this dashing couple from the moment we met - and boy, oh boy are they easy to love! I had an absolute blast getting to know this sweet couple and their family as we planned for their August wedding. Working with this dream couple was so awesome - can we do again, already?! 

Our lovely bride wanted a classic wedding, inspired by Jackie O, in a neutral color palette of ivory and cream, silver, and navy that was luxurious and stylish, yet simple and timeless. The dining room of the City Club was filled with candles and candelabras to bring in the feeling of an intimate dinner party among friends.  As we began designing, Lauren mentioned a wedding that would "stand the test of time", just like Jackie O's fashion. I just loved her inspiration! 

Here's a fun fact about this couple: even though they both grew up not far from each other in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and had mutual friends, they didn't actually meet until Lauren took a trip to Charlotte to visit a friend! So, given that they met and now live in the Queen City, we incorporated the Charlotte skyline into their invitation suite by Elisabeth Rose - just wait til you see how gorgeous it is! Even their stunning wedding portraits were taken in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. It was important to the bride and groom that their families and friends traveling in for their wedding would be able to experience Charlotte, so they chose to keep the celebration Uptown with a ceremony at St. Peter's Catholic Church, followed by dinner and dancing at the gorgeous, and oh so classic, Charlotte City Club

Oh and our bride and groom have a shared love/obsession of sports, so the brand new BB&T ballpark was the perfect location for their rehearsal dinner... And we even snuck in a sweet little engagement session with their photographer, Lauren Rosenau Photography.  Here's a little peek... aren't they just the cutest couple ever?!

I'm so excited to share a few details from Lauren and Will's wedding with you today! I want to first thank all the talented vendors that helped give this amazing couple such an incredible wedding day:

Planning & Design: The Graceful Host
Photography: Lauren Rosenau Photography
Florist: New Creations Flower Company
Venue: Charlotte City Club
Church: St. Peter's Catholic Church
Catering & Bar: Charlotte City Club
Cake: Wow Factor Cake
Entertainment: Split Second Sound
Save The Dates and Invitations: Elisabeth Rose
Rentals: Party Reflections
Hair & Makeup: Paint Box (Michele Dula) 
Hotel: The Marriott City Center
PediCab Transportation: R&R Pedicab
Trolley Transportation: Sunway Trolley
Wedding Dress Boutique: Hayden Olivia
Wedding Dress Designer: Hayley Paige 
Ceremony Programs, Escort Cards,
Seating Chart, & Wedding Signage: The Graceful Host

We're so honored that Weddings Unveiled shared Lauren & Will's wedding! To see the full feature, click here.

Family heirlooms were important to Lauren. As the bride finished dressing, the mother of the groom gave her a few special pieces - the hospital cap that her husband to be wore as a baby and a family poem. Lauren pinned the hospital cap to the inside of her gown as her something "old". Another special heirloom tied to the bride's bouquet was a pendant her Uncle bought for her mother while he was deployed in Europe. Lauren said, "She always treasured it and I wanted to have something of his with me to honor him." 

I love Lauren's face here.... such a priceless expression!

Seriously, how much do you love these portraits?! Lauren is just the most gorgeous bride ever and Will looks incredibly handsome! I can't get enough of these two!

After the first dance, our beautiful bride changed into a fun party dress that was perfect for dancing! This reception was definitely one of my absolutely favorites, and it had me wanting to jump on the dance floor to join in on all the fun!!

Love our brides killer style! She changed into an adorable romper for the sparkler exit. They made a getaway in a pedicab, and then headed out into the night to meet friends to continue the party! Don't you just love these pedicab photos?!

Lauren and Will, you are two of the sweetest people I've ever met! I enjoyed every second working with y'all. Thank you so much for choosing The Graceful Host to be a part of your wedding and for trusting me to bring your vision to life! Love you both to pieces! I hope one day your grandchildren will look through  your wedding and talk about how classic & timeless your wedding looked with that Kennedy-inspired style! Or maybe they'll just mistake you for a famous Ralph Lauren fashion model, because you totally could be! :)

XO,
A.

Just Married: City Chic Wedding at the Foundation For The Carolinas

Jackie and Daniel are one of the most FUN couples I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Their huge smiles say it all! Working with this fabulous couple to design a modern and sweet wedding full of chic elements was such a blast! We combined soft, romantic details with a structured, clean aesthetic to create a playful mix of both feminine and masculine to reflect Jackie and Daniel's individual styles. I fell in love with their color palette of raspberry, blush, gunmetal grey, and ivory right away! Seeing all the details come together for this sweet bride and groom was such a treat. These two couldn't be more smitten with each other - I loved watching them celebrate all night! 

Huge thanks to an all-star team of vendors that helped make Jackie and Daniel's wedding day so incredible! Working with talented, high quality professionals like this group is seriously the key to a flawless wedding! Thank y'all for all your hard work!

Ceremony/Reception: Foundation For The Carolinas
Planning/Design: The Graceful Host
Photography: Smitten and Hooked
Flowers: New Creations Flower Company
Videography: Indigo Photography and Video (formerly Isabel's Corner)
Catering: Queen City Catering
Cake and Sweets: Wow Factor Cakes
Entertainment: Split Second Sound
Lounge Furniture: Sterling Events Group
Linens: Party Tables
Rentals: Party Reflections
Hair and Makeup: Sara Egri
Wedding Dress: Vera Wang
Wedding Shoes: Manolo Blahnik
Officiant: Reverend Diana Collins
Paper Goods: The Graceful Host
Invitation: Letter Box Ink
Favors: Vinksters Popcorn

I love seeing my couples just after they've said "I Do"! One of my biggest highlights of the wedding day! From this point on, we switch into party mode and celebrate all night long! Nothing better than that, right?! :) Thanks for snapping this moment, Lucy & Steven!!

Rather than tossing the bouquet, the bride and groom gave a bouquet to the groom's grandmother and the two shared a dance before the dance floor officially opened. It was such a sweet moment!

It's always a great night when the bride takes over the mic and raps.... the guests went wild! Jackie and Daniel's reception was one of the best parties of the year! Huge thanks to Split Second Sound for always being so amazing!

Before the grand exit, Jackie and Daniel snuck away with the photographers to fit in some great portraits!

Congratulations, you two - and thank you so much for trusting me with your big day! Cheers to happily ever after! 

XO,
A.

Featured: Modern Museum Wedding in Navy and White

I am so, so excited to see one of our most memorable weddings from 2014 featured on one of my favorite wedding blogs - Wedding Chicks! Working with Katie & Eric to create this modern and chic wedding at The Mint Museum Uptown was so much fun. These two will always hold a special place in my heart!

Y'all know how much I LOVE wedding details. Well, the details of this wedding were truly endless, and I love how the design was cohesive from start to finish. We're talking creating custom ring bearer pillows to match the custom table runners and sashes - definitely an all-time favorite! The overall look and feel was preppy, clean and modern. Our sweet bride loves Kate Spade - I mean, who doesn't?! - so we added in these playful pops of bold geometric prints that Kate is so known for.

Be sure to check out the full feature on Wedding Chicks! And to see more from Katie + Eric's big day, check out this blog post: here and here. I can't resist sharing some of my favorite detail shots from this beautiful day!

XO,
A.

Featured: Bohemian Beauty

I don't even know if I can actually form the right words to say how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to be a part of the Carolina Bride: Inspired Design For A Bespoke Affair. A styled shoot that I designed especially for the book, as well as one of our 2014 weddings, was chosen to be in this gorgeous hardcover coffee table book.

I've been dying to share a few of my favorite images for this incredible experience, and now that the book has been officially released (and available for purchase, by the way!), I am so excited to share more with you today!

My inspiration for this design was "bohemian elegance" in the high country.  Which for me, means a simple and effortless feeling with artistic and unconventional styling. I wanted to really bring out the idea of community and the free-spirited, gypsy traveller side of the bohemian lifestyle. Our color palette was organic and natural with gorgeous jewel tone pops of burgundy and deep purple. Here is a peek at my inspiration board.

The shoot took place on the property of the stunning Eseeola Lodge in Linville, North Carolina. Shoot days are always a lot of fun and full of organized chaos. It's a great time to collaborate with talented creatives you might not have the chance to work with on a real wedding or event. We had an amazing team assembled: Crystal Stokes Photography, New Creations Flower Company, Pink Toast Ink, Something Classic, Erin Ashley Makeup, Mirror Bomb Studios, Wow Factor Cakes, Upper Barn Rentals, & Party Reflections. I pulled a number of dresses and accessories from J. Majors Bridal Boutique as well as some great bold pieces of jewelry from Scout and Molly's Boutique. And I had the chance to style a gorgeous Zuhair Murad gown straight from the runway during Bridal Fashion week. Styling this shoot had to be different. I mean, it was meant for a book! The look of the brides was meant to be a more natural and earthy looking, with some edgy style. We kept the makeup more subdued and romantic, with long tussled hair. And I wanted to kept the detailing of the dresses minimal and throw in some unexpected elements.

This tablescape has to be one of my absolute favorites of all the styled shoots I've had the chance to design over the past year. I love the layering of textures and the rich colors against the gorgeous wood table. From the flowers to the place settings, everything came together so perfectly! The gorgeous backdrop, next to the lake didn't hurt things either. :) I found a little hidden field close to where we were shooting and it was the prefect backdrop for our lounge setting. I sourced tons of pillows, puffs and blankets from all over bringing in different patterns, colors and textures to create a cozy seating area. For the ceremony, I had this vision of a very simple and small teepee-like backdrop with pillows and blankets for guest seating and rose petals marking the aisle. Just for the record, building a teepee isn't exactly easy! But I think our minimalistic ceremony design fit this organic and bohemian styled shoot.

Honored and humbled is how I'd describe my feelings to not only have had the opportunity to be a part of this book, but to also have my work listed among so many designers and photographers that I love and admire! I owe a huge THANK YOU to authors Cristina Wilson and Drew Humphries for allowing me to be a part of this amazing publication. You both did such an amazing job creating this book! I am really, really proud to share all the behind the scenes details of this shoot, and I am SO excited to show you a few of my favorite photos captured by the incredibly talented Crystal Stokes Photography

Mountain_Wedding_Carolina_Bride_Book.jpg
Mountain_Boho_Wedding_Inspiration_Carolina_Bride_Book.jpg
Mountain_Boho_Wedding_Inspiration_Carolina_Bride_Book.jpg
Carolina-Bride-Book-Shoot-0063.jpg
Boho_Mountain_Wedding_Inspiration.jpg

The team:
Design and Styling: The Graceful Host | Photography: Crystal Stokes Photography | Floral Design: New Creations Flower Company | Food and Cocktail: Something Classic Catering and Cafe | Paper Goods: Pink Toast Ink | Calligraphy: The Graceful Host | Cake and Sweets: The Wow Factor Cakes | Location: Eseeola Lodge | Furniture and Wooden Table Rentals: Upper Barn Rentals | Woven Chargers and Gold Flatware: Party Reflections | Gowns: Zuhair Murad and J. Majors Bridal Boutique | Veil: J. Majors Bridal Boutique | Jewelry: Scout and Molly's | Makeup: Erin Ashley Makeup | Hair Styling: Mirror Bomb Studios | Producers: Cristina Wilson and Drew Humphries

Be sure to go pick up a copy of the Carolina Bride Book today to see so many other absolutely gorgeous real weddings and wedding design inspiration! It makes a great gift for anyone who might have gotten engaged over the holidays ... hint, hint! :)

XO,
A.

 

 

The Best of 2014, Part 2

Can you believe today is New Years Eve already?! 2014 has been so good to The Graceful Host, and we've seen some really beautiful brides, handsome grooms, and absolutely stunning weddings! So, we're continuing our countdown of the "Best of 2014" by sharing a few of our favorite photos from this last year. If you missed yesterdays post, check it out here!

Couple Portraits

One of the first things I do when I get photos back from a photographer is to look for the portraits of the bride and groom! And oh my gosh have we had some seriously gorgeous brides and dapper grooms over the past year! // 1. Keely and Hill; 2. Adriana and Terrell; 3. Veronica and Chip; 4. Katie and Eric; 5. Mia and Alex; 6. Christi and PJ; 7. Lauren and Will; 8. Lauren and Chris.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Lauren Friday Photography; 2. Richard Israel Photography; 3. Jeremy Igo Photography; 4. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 5. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 6. Lauren Friday Photography; 7. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 8. Love Shutter Photography.

Wedding Cakes

I'm head over heels for cake, I will be totally honest. It's like torture sometimes going to cake consults because I can't really eat cake - and lets face it, I'd be a house if I had cake with every single consult! These are just a few of the yummy and beautiful cakes we've had over the year! And I have to spot light the gorgeous cakes created by talented bakers for various styled shoots over the past year. // 1. Beautiful sugar flower work by The Wow Factor Cakes from this wedding; 2. Lace detailing was inspired by the brides dress by The Wow Factor Cakes from this wedding; 3. Romantic blush cake with gorgeous peonies by The Wow Factor Cakes from this wedding; 4. You should always have equal ratio cake to flowers like this beautiful cake by For Goodness Cakes from this wedding; 5. A custom monogram on this incredible cake was recreated by The Wow Factor Cakes for this wedding; 6. A fabulous trio of cakes by Got What It Cakes; 7. Beautiful Mardi Gras-inspired cake by Got What It Cakes for this styled shoot; 8. Naked cake by Sky's The Limit Custom Cakes & More from this styled shoot; 9. Incredible sugar flower work by Sky's The Limit Custom Cakes & More from this styled shoot; 10. Amazing little trio of cakes with lots of textures by The Wow Factor Cakes from this styled shoot.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 2. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 3. Lauren Friday Photography; 4. Jeremy Igo Photography; 5. Richard Israel Photography; 6. Love Shutter Photography; 7.  Old South Studios; 8. Crystal Stokes Photography; 9.  Old South Studios; 10. Crystal Stokes Photography.

Invitations and Paper Goods

I absolutely love paper products! We've had some truly stunning paper goods walk out the door and into guests mailboxes over the past year. // 1. Classic formal suite by Elisabeth Rose for this wedding; 2. Fun and fabulous save the date by Pink Toast Ink for this wedding; 3. Stunning suite for this inspiration shoot by Pink Toast Ink; 4. Beautiful menu for this inspiration shoot by Elisabeth Rose; 5. Unique and gorgeous save the date for this garden wedding by Elisabeth Rose; 6. Southern romantic invitation for this wedding by Olive Paper.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 2. Courtesy of Pink Toast Ink; 3. Crystal Stokes Photography; 4.  Old South Studios; 5. Richard Israel Photography; 6. Lauren Friday Photography.

Bridal Shoes

We've had some truly fabulous shoes go walking down the aisle over the past year! Here are just a few of my favorites. // 1. Gorgeous Valentino pumps for this bride; 2. Fun pop of color with these Christian Dior heels for this bride; 3. A little Kate Spade glitter and bows for this bride; 4. A touch of sparkle with these Kate Spade heels for this bride. 

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Lauren Friday Photography; 2. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 3. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 4. Beauty for Ashes. 

Flower Girls

Over the past year, we have had some truly adorable flower girls! Here's my thoughts on flower girls - the more tulle and sparkle, the better! How cute are these little dolls?! // 1. This little sweetheart stole the show at this wedding; 2. Loved this adorable flower girl's flower crown from this wedding; 3. Flower girls in ballerina-inspired dresses passing out roses to guests as they walk down the aisle during this wedding; 4. Can't get enough of this adorable navy dress with a pink pomander ball from this wedding; 5. This little angel was so cute walking down the aisle with her beautiful dress from this wedding; 6. The brides sister was the most adorable flower girl and love standing by her big sister at this wedding.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 2. Lauren Friday Photography; 3. Richard Israel Photography; 4. Beauty for Ashes; 5. Jeremy Igo Photography; 6. Lauren Rosenau Photography.

Centerpieces and Decor

My favorite part of wedding planning is working with the bride to bring her dreams to life in a way that reflects her personality. 2014 brought us some truly beautiful weddings - and just think, this isn't even all of them! I'll never be able to say thank you enough to all the couples we've had the opportunity to work with over the past year for allowing me to be a part of their weddings! // 1. Secret garden inspired centerpieces by Chelish Moore Flowers for this wedding; 2. Whimsical and elegant centerpieces by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 3. Vibrant pop of color for this Uptown wedding with flowers by New Creations Flower Company; 4. Pure luxury for these tall centerpieces by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 5. Southern-inspired vignettes by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 6. Southern-inspired vignettes by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 7. Classic centerpieces by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 8. Romantic candelabras by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 9. Sweet vignettes by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 10. Chic lounge furniture from Sterling Events Group surrounds the dance floor at this wedding; 11. Layer texture upon texture with 7 different centerpiece designs by Chelish Moore Flowers for this wedding; 12. Kennedy-inspired centerpieces by New Creations Flower Company along the kings table for this wedding; 13. Kate Spade-inspired centerpieces by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 14. Whimsical and elegant centerpieces by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 15. Creative and colorful for this wedding with flowers by New Creations Flower Company and wooden block runner created by The Graceful Host.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Richard Israel Photography; 2. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 3. Smitten and Hooked; 4. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 5. Lauren Friday Photography; 6. Lauren Friday Photography; 7. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 8. Jeremy Igo Photography; 9. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 10. Smitten and Hooked; 11. Richard Israel Photography; 12. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 13. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 14. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 15. Beauty For Ashes.

Ceremonies

The whole purpose for the celebration of a wedding is the actual ceremony! I love seeing my couples exchange vows and take their first steps together as husband and wife. It's a really special moment to witness! // 1. A museum was the perfect place for these I do's; 2. Exchanging vows with a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville for this wedding; 3. To honor the bride and groom's heritage a bagpiper lead the recessional at this wedding; 4. A formal Catholic ceremony for this wedding; 5. An outdoor ceremony was just beautiful for this wedding; 6. This historic Uptown church was the perfect location for these I do's. 

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 2. Lauren Friday Photography; 3. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 4. Richard Israel Photography; 5. Lauren Friday Photography; 6. Lauren Rosenau Photography.

I'll be eternally grateful for all the opportunity to work with each one of our 2014 couples! I have had so much fun reliving 2014 through all these gorgeous photos in part 1 and part 2 - and I hope you've enjoyed looking through just a few of my favorites. I can't thank you enough for stopping by to celebrate with us!  Cheers to life, love, health and the New Year of endless possibilities!

XO,
A.

 

The Best of 2014, Part 1

Let's keep the countdown to 2015 going strong, shall we?! I know I've said it many, many times already - but 2014 was an amazing year for The Graceful Host! We had the honor of celebrating so many gorgeous couples with sweet ceremonies and fabulous receptions! As we prepare for 2015, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites from 2014. Today we celebrate some beautiful bouquets, stunning bridal looks, gorgeous bridesmaid & dapper groomsmen attire, creative seating displays and escort cards, sweet details, and fabulous exits. Tomorrow, I'll share part two with my favorite stylish bridal shoes, adorable flower girlsbeautiful couple portraits, delicious cakes, pretty invitations, incredible centerpieces, and sweet wedding ceremonies

Just a tiny side note: I truly believe in crafting each wedding to fit the bride and groom we'll be celebrating - you won't find cookie cutter weddings at The Graceful Host, and I take great pride in that fact. We have a wide variety of styles throughout our wedding and design portfolio. Narrowing down to a few of my favorite photos to share with you was definitely not easy! I felt a personal connection to each of the weddings we had the pleasure to be a part of, and I love each one of our 2014 weddings for the sweet couples they represent. Please know that I am missing a handful of photos from our fall weddings because they're not ready to share yet. And while that definitely makes me sad (because I simply I cannot WAIT to share each of those with you!), we had so many amazing weddings from spring, summer early fall that I just couldn't put off this post til next year!

Without further adieu, here is part one of the best of 2014...

Bridal Bouquets

From organic garden to formal and structured, we've seen so many incredible bouquets all year long! These are just a few of my personal favorites. // 1. Created by Springvine Design for this styled shoot; 2. Created by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 3. Created by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 4. Created by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding; 5. Created by New Creations Flower Company for a styled shoot; 6. Created by New Creations Flower Company for this wedding.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Crystal Stokes Photography; 2. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 3. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 4. Lauren Friday Photography; 5. Crystal Stokes Photography; 6. Lauren Rosenau Photography.

Bridal Fashion

Each one of our brides is so beautiful! I'm always in awe as brides put on the finishing touches before they see their sweet grooms. I loved how every single one of our bride's had a unique wedding day style, that was truly all their own. // 1. Lauren in a gorgeous Hayley Page gown from Hayden Olivia Bridal; 2. Whitley in a stunning Victor Harper Couture gown from Nitsa's Bridal from this wedding; 3. Adriana in an incredible custom designed gown by Brooke of Ship to Shore from this wedding; 4. Veronica in a beautiful Vera Wang gown from Nitsa's Bridal from this wedding.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 2. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 3. Richard Israel Photography; 4. Jeremy Igo Photography.

Bridesmaids Attire

Let's hear it for the bridesmaids! These ladies are the brides closest friends and family, security blankets and best dance partners. We had the pleasure of meeting some amazing groups of women over the past year.... these are just a few of our favorite bridesmaids looks. I loved the variety we saw in bridal party attire! // 1. Mixed and matched bridesmaids dresses in blush pink for this wedding; 2. Mint J.Crew dresses for this summer wedding; 3. Classic navy blue for this spring wedding; 4. Elegant navy blue for this summer wedding; 5. Formal charcoal for this spring wedding; 6. Beautiful blush pink dresses for this summer wedding; 7. Gorgeous black lace dresses for this fall wedding; 8. Rich cranberry red for this fall wedding; 9. Elegant lavender dresses for this summer wedding.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Richard Israel Photography; 2. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 3. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 4. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 5. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 6. Lauren Friday Photography; 7. Indigo Photography; 8. Lauren Friday Photography; 9. Rachel Fesko Photography.

Grooms and Groomsmen

This was the year of the fashionable groom, y'all! We had many custom tuxedos created for some handsome grooms. Can't get enough of these stylish guys! // 1. Special cufflinks given to the groom from the bride for this wedding; 2. Classic tuxedo for the groom from this wedding; 3. Elegant and southern white dinner coat tuxedo for this styled shoot; 4. Custom charcoal and black tuxedo for this groom from this wedding; 5. Custom navy and black tuxedo for this groom from this wedding.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 2. Richard Israel Photography; 3. Old South Studios; 4. Smitten and Hooked; 5. Jeremy Igo Photography.

Seating Displays and Escort Cards

I really, really love creating things for my brides! I'm pretty lucky that so many of my brides let me handle the displays however I see fit and give me creative license. It's always a highlight for me to create something truly special for my couples - and here are a few of my favorite seating displays and escort cards from this year. // 1. Vintage keys attached to tags for this seating chart from this wedding; 2. Travel themed seating display with luggage tags with the airport code from where the guest had traveled from for this wedding; 3. A magnolia leaf escort card for this styled shoot; 4. Citrus color-inspired wedding with citrus escort cards for this wedding.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Richard Israel Photography; 2. Jeremy Igo Photography; 3. Crystal Stokes Photography; 4. Lauren Rosenau Photography.

Details, Details, Details

I love to place extra emphasis on the little details. From sentimental touches to fun accents that feed into the design story, there was no shortage of details with our 2014 weddings! Here are just a few of the details that were captured over the past year. // 1. Given to the bride from her mother-in-law from this summer wedding; 2. Table numbers made just for this summer wedding; 3. A memorial to the bride's grandfather that sat in the front pew, saving his place, for this summer wedding; 4. Gold frames and a pattern drum lamp shades that scream Kate Spade for this spring wedding; 5. New initial ring dish that held the rings before the ceremony for this wedding; 6. Traditional Chinese tea set for this spring wedding; 7. Custom made directional signs for this summer wedding; 8. A piece of the brides father's tie sewn into her dress to honor his memory at this summer wedding; 9. A custom monogram created for this wedding that we applied to a number of details including pillows from this wedding.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 2. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 3. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 4. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 5. Beauty For Ashes; 6. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 7. Lauren Friday Photography; 8. Lauren Friday Photography; 9. Lauren Friday Photography.

Grand Exits

The reception exit can be so much fun! There's all sorts of excitement and anticipation that surrounds the final send off for the bride and groom as they truly begin their lives together. We've had a lot of different types of send-offs this year - from sparklers to bubbles to streamers to confetti. These are are few of my favorite parting shots! // 1. Classic sparkler exit for this wedding; 2. Love the face of the bride from this wedding during her bubble exit; 3. Nothing like a kiss among the sparklers for this fall wedding; 4. This sweet pair from this wedding left in style with popsicles in hand from King of Pops.

Photo credit (starting top L): 1. Lauren Rosenau Photography; 2. Jeremy Igo Photography; 3. Lauren Friday Photography; 4. Lauren Rosenau Photography.

 

Be sure to come back tomorrow morning as we recap our favorite beautiful portraits, delicious cakes, pretty invitations, stylish bridal shoes, adorable flower girls, incredible centerpieces, and sweet wedding ceremonies from 2014!

 

XO,
A.

Cheers to 2014!

What a year, what a year! Never in a million years would I have imagined that I'd experience all the incredible things I have over the past 365 days. No doubt that this past year has been an exciting whirlwind! I feel so lucky that I can even write a post full of amazing milestones for The Graceful Host.  At this time last year, I had just finished my first full year of weddings as the official owner of TGH. I was feeling so anxious about the path of this little business. Even though the 2014 calendar was completely booked before the year even started, I really wanted to make sure I was doing this whole “creative small business owner” thing right. Obviously there is no manual on how to run a successful business, but I felt like I didn’t have a firm grasp on how to take my business to the next level. I had an idea and vision for what I wanted The Graceful Host to become – I just didn’t know how on Earth I was actually supposed to do it!

Like many type-A individuals, I started making a plan of action for 2014. It felt so good to map out goals and get ideas out of my head and on to paper – it made them so real! I started brainstorming the easier, more light-hearted points such as the ideal TGH client and my favorite aspects of the job. Then I moved into the more difficult questions, really digging deep asking myself questions like where are the gaps in my service offerings, what are my challenges in this career, and what can I do to make planning an experience that brides walk away from cherishing rather than thanking God that it’s finally over. I’m the type of person that loves to reflect and to receive outside critiques. It probably comes from my music background, but I truly believe that you cannot begin to move forward until you fully understand where you’re coming from. How can I expect to improve my business when I have no idea what I’m doing right or wrong? So, I went straight to the source looking for feedback from my lovely and supportive former brides, as well as to fellow wedding industry vendors and my mighty little team. I can’t recommend this exercise to other business owners who are feeling stuck, are looking to move to the next level, or if you just want to have a better understanding of your business in general.

Armed with feedback and some of my own brainstorming ideas, I got to work! I looked at the 2014 calendar first. I was so grateful to have 22 amazing couples booked for the next year! Then, I realized something. Of all these bookings, 77% was for full service, 14% was partial service, and 9% was month-of coordination. (And of my partial service clients, 75% of these contracts upgraded to full service!) This told me something huge: my value to brides is within full service. Realizing this strength in The Graceful Host and seeing what clients were overwhelming asking for over the last year, lead me to focus and hone in on full service planning and event design, and to drop all other service offerings. These statistics, coupled with the fact that one of my absolute favorite parts of this job was developing a relationship with the couple and their families made the decision pretty easy. I couldn’t put time and energy into things that didn’t fire me up if I was going to take this business to the next level. It was definitely a scary decision, don’t get me wrong, but one that I really think benefits my brides because my time and expertise would be fully devoted to those that need it the most. Another thing I realized is that, I wanted to stay small. When I first started, I used to think that growth meant getting bigger. And for some people, I think that just makes sense. But for me, it doesn’t. One of the things my brides noted that they loved was my attention to detail and my excitement about their big day… and I realized how important it was to me that each one of my couples always feel that way! I would never want to compromise that experience, so I knew it was beneficial for not only myself (since this is a one-woman business, after all!), but also for my couples that I limit the number of weddings I take a year to 10 or fewer. 

At this time last year, I was looking at the year ahead of me and I knew I wanted to get The Graceful Host name out as far as it could go! So I targeted a few of my favorite blogs and publications, and made a goal for getting published over the next year. I really am not kidding when I say that if you put it out there into the universe, you’ll get a response…. All you have to do is ask. As I sit here reflecting on the past year, I’m overwhelmed and honored to see all of media exposure The Graceful Host has seen! From real weddings to styled shoots to planning advice, TGH has reached (and surpassed!) our original goal of just one press feature per quarter with a whopping: 9 real weddings featured on national blogs, regional magazines and a coffee table book; 5 styled shoot features; 5 contributions with planning and design tips; and 3 awards received within 2014. It's incredible to look back over this past year and think of all the beautiful couples, talented vendors, and the amazing people I've had the pleasure of connecting with!

the_graceful_host_real_weddings.jpg
The_Graceful_Host_Styled_Shoots_14.jpg

Another big milestone for 2014 was adding calligraphy services to The Graceful Host name. I started doing calligraphy in December of 2013, and I am self taught. So if anyone is interested in learning calligraphy, I am proof that you CAN learn and you CAN teach yourself! You really have no idea how encouraging it has been to have so many friends, family members, brides, fellow vendors, strangers - you name it! - ask me where they can purchase some of my calligraphy pieces. I didn't have an answer at the time because I was really just doing it for me. But over the last year I've been working hard to really learn calligraphy in order to be able to offer it as a service. I felt like I couldn't accept a penny from anyone until I actually thought I knew what I was some what doing! It's a tricky craft and I'll admit I do not have all the answers because I'm learning something new every day. But through a lot of reading, studying, practice, question asking, and good ol' fashioned trial and error I've become a lot more confident in my abilities. Thanks to all the support and kind words I've received, I started an Etsy shop, and a whole new Instagram account  and a new Twitter account separate from my wedding accounts to share little snip bits of my calligraphy work. I really wish I could thank every single person who's supported me in my calligraphy - it means so much!! And it's been a lot of fun building a little side business that provides me with another creative outlet. I'm so excited to see what 2015 brings in this new calligraphy journey.

I decided to invest in attending a few educational workshops in 2014. With out a doubt, some of the best decisions I’ve ever made was attending workshops because I had the chance to meet experts in the wedding industry who have really challenged me to go further and have helped me identify the gaps in my business. And to my surprise, I had a number of brides tell me that they thought it was great I attended workshops and seminars to improve my business! They were just as excited for me to learn new things that I could take home and apply to their weddings. (The things you learn, right?!) It’s so encouraging to have my brides rooting for me and supporting me in my goals. These experiences have helped me reshape how I approach planning with my couples and I’ve refined a number of processes in order to make wedding planner easier to understand and more fun. I love learning and I'm always looking for ways to make my business better so that I can ultimately better serve my amazing couples.

All and all, 2014 was a year I'll never forget. I'm sad to wave goodbye to such an amazing year, full of memories that I'll treasure. But come January 1, a whole new set of goals will be on deck and 365 days of endless possibilities! Oh my gosh, I am so, so, so excited! We have some really incredible weddings coming up in 2015. I cannot wait to share all the beautiful details and photos from each of these sweet couples big days. I'm excited to fully embrace 2015 with an open mind and heart, and see what all is in store for The Graceful Host. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming along for the ride, and for all your love and support! Cheers to the new year! 

The_Graceful_Host_Wedding_Planner.jpg
Special thanks to Lauren Rosenau Photography for taking a few headshot photos during our recent family session!

XO,
A.

 

 

 

Featured: A Whimsical and Romantic Wedding at the Mint Museum Uptown

I am over the moon to see Katelyn and Phillip's summer wedding at the Mint Museum Uptown featured on Style Me Pretty! Honored and humbled just skims the surface of how I felt when this amazing bride changed her wedding date to hire me as her planner after finding out that I was already booked for her original intended date. Working with these two was a breeze and so much fun! There was definitely no shortage of laughter at each meeting. Katelyn came to me with a vision of a vintage romance and elegance, and we married her style (Ha! Pun intended, of course!) with Phillip's artistic and minimalistic aesthetic. It's always a fun challenge when a bride and groom have different styles to create a wedding design that fits both their needs. The outcome is without a doubt one of my all-time favorites!

Be sure to head over to Style Me Pretty to see the full feature by clicking here. And check out this blog post for more behind the scenes and photos from Katelyn and Phillip's big day! K + P, thank you so much, again for allowing me to be a part of your big day! It was such an honor!

XO,
A.

Featured: Glamorous Spring Wedding

I am so excited to see Whitley and Darian's beautiful wedding featured on Style Me Pretty today! I had so much fun working with this sweet bride - I LOVED her chic and glamorous style. The vendors that helped bring this couple's amazing vision to life were some of the best around. So grateful to have worked with such incredible professionals! Thank you, Style Me Pretty, for featuring this wedding! What an honor! Be sure to check out the full feature and gallery on Style Me Pretty today!

For more photos from Whitley and Darian's big day, click here.

XO, 
A.

Personal: That's A Wrap!

Y'all. The 2014 wedding season is officially over as of this past Saturday. I cannot believe I just said those words! This year, I have been fortunate enough to be a part of 22 celebrations, 5 styled shoots, & 3 bridal portrait sessions, and I've attended 3 educational workshops in Charleston, Dallas, & Serenbe, Ga. It's been the most amazing year ever - a journey of a lifetime! In all honesty, when I took over The Graceful Host 2 years ago, I could never ever have imagined where this business would end up. I had never owned a business - I mean, how do I do this for real?! Of course I learned a lot after my first year of business being truly on my own, and I started to write down some goals and dreams for my next year of weddings - the 2014 season. But I think the most important step I took after 2013 ended was to begin to refine the brand of The Graceful Host. Who is The Graceful Host? What does she do for fun? What are her favorite things? What is she like? I asked myself pages and pages of questions and spent hours reflecting on what this business really means and why I even want to be a wedding planner. What's my "why"? Why do I do this? How do brides benefit from my services? What can I offer my brides? I had the opportunity to attend a few workshops this past year that have really helped me focus my direction of The Graceful Host. These workshops have been some of the most beneficial learning lessons of my entire year!

As I look back on the past 10 months, I'm in serious shock and awe. I can't even believe that I have had the chance to work with 22 truly amazing & special brides over this past year!! Just one word comes to mind.... THANK YOU! Thank you to each of my beautiful brides, dapper grooms, & their sweet families for putting your trust in me to plan and execute your wedding just as you've always dreamed. Thank you for giving me the chance to be creative and create an experience, not just a wedding day. Thank you for putting confidence in me to source a vendor team that would give you the best day ever. Thank you for letting me handle all the little details so that you can enjoy not only your wedding day, but the planning of your wedding day. Thank you for your kindness, respect, and love as you allowed me to be a part of your family for that important weekend. And most of all, thank you for choosing me to be a part of the biggest day of your life. My heart is seriously just bursting thinking all of this through. I know that hiring a wedding planner is an investment for couples and many don't want to take that money away from their budget. I totally get it! But to those of you who have invested in me - thank you for seeing the value of my services; for seeing my passion for this job; and for putting your wedding my hands.

2014 couples 1
2014 couples 2
2014 couples 3

I have to extend another heartfelt thank you to each of the vendors I've had the chance of working with over this past year! From old friends to new, it was such a pleasure to work with such talented professionals! I am grateful for all the support and kind words I've received.... It means so much to me to have people who understand exactly what I am going through as a creative entrepreneur, and to listen to all my questions and concerns. I'm a huge fan of creating a network and I believe in building others up because in doing so, you create a better environment for not only yourself but for everyone around you! Within such a supportive group, I've been able to bounce around crazy ideas, collaborate with incredibly talented people, and really challenge myself both creatively and personally. I'm so thankful to everyone who has believed in my dream and has helped me in my path to achieve all of my goals. It means the absolute world to me!

I am looking forward to 2015 and all the amazing couples that I have the pleasure of working with. I cannot wait to see where the next few months will take me! Cheers to the journey, friends! :)

XO,
A.

Just Married: A Whimsical Navy and Green Uptown Wedding at the Mint Museum Uptown

It is so hard to believe that just a few months ago this sweet couple, Katelyn and Phillip, were married. I'll never forget my first phone call from Katelyn. This busy bride-to-be knew that she needed a planner, and she'd do whatever it would take to get one - even changing her wedding date so that she could book me! Honored and humbled just skims the surface of how I felt when this amazing bride said that she couldn't imagine getting married without my help.

Working with these two was such a blast. There was no shortage of laughter at each meeting! Katelyn came to me with a vision of a vintage meets whimsical meets elegance wedding inspiration that had no shortage of personal touches and was big on family traditions. (We've got two Italian-Irish Catholic families here, y'all!) So with this inspiration in mind, I worked with her to create something unique and beautiful in a color palette of navy, cream and kelly green. The end result was seriously so beyond my wildest imagination - and the bride and groom were equally as wowed! Their reaction to seeing the reception space for the first time was one of my favorite moments of the year! I just love these two to pieces and I was so happy that they chose me to help them design and plan their perfect wedding day. Take a peek at some of my favorite photos from their beautiful summer wedding by the incredibly talented Lauren Rosenau Photography.

And don't miss Katelyn and Phillip's wedding featured on Style Me Pretty!

View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
TGH_Kate_Phillip_MMU_4
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
TGH_Kate_Phillip_MMU_9
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
TGH_Kate_Phillip_MMU_7
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
TGH_Kate_Phillip_MMU_1
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
TGH_Kate_Phillip_MMU_8
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
TGH_Kate_Phillip_MMU_5
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
TGH_Kate_Phillip_MMU_6
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
TGH_Kate_Phillip_MMU_3
TGH_Kate_Phillip_MMU_2
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/kateandphillip

Huge thanks to all the talented vendors that helped make Katelyn & Phillips day so incredible!

Wedding Planner and Designer: The Graceful Host Photography: Lauren Rosenau Photography Florist: New Creations Flower Company Ceremony: St. Peter's Catholic Church Reception: Mint Museum Uptown Videography: Brian Bunn Films Catering: Something Classic Cafes & Catering Cake: Wow Factor Cakes Bagpiper: Carolina Bagpipes Entertainment: All The Right Grooves Ceremony Programs, Table Numbers & Seating Chart: The Graceful Host Hair and Makeup: Who's The Fairest Wedding Dress, Veil, & Belt: Kleinfeld Bridal Bride's Shoes: Badgley Mischka Transportation: R&R Pedicab

I absolutely can't get over how adorable these two are! Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Gilbert! Cheers to your happily ever after!

XO,
A.

Just Married: Martha + Matthew

With fall wedding season in high gear, it's been a while since I've posted a real wedding! So, we're going to get back into the blogging spirit with Martha and Matthew's colorful and fun wedding! This bride is about as sweet as can be in every way. And the groom is totally goofy and fun-loving. I loved working with these two!! As we started to dive into planning, Martha - like so many brides - had a lot of trouble defining her style. She knew what she liked and didn't liked, but didn't know how to put her style into words. As a wedding planner and designer, thats my job! I'm here to help my brides and grooms sort through their Pintrest photos and magazine clippings, and define a cohesive style that will be carried out from start to finish. And, so that's exactly what we did together! Our end result was perfectly them in every way. We incorporated bits of sparkle and glitter, bright and vibrant colors, and unique hand-made elements into the design. Even their reception menu was a reflection of Martha and Matthew - the two have a love of Chinese and Asian food, so we incorporated a number of the couples' favorite dishes into their menu. It was important to incorporate unique and untraditional aspects into the wedding day. So this couple opted against tradition and didn't have a bridal party! With family and friends traveling in from all over the world to celebrate their marriage, Martha and Matthew went for an adorable chalk globe so that guests could "leave their mark". I loved how one of their guests - who are from Germany - surprised this sweet couple with one of the German wedding traditions, which is to do a project together after the wedding ceremony. So, Martha and Matthew cut out a gigantic heart from a sheet and then hopped through the center together into their future as Mr. and Mrs. Hogge!

The entire wedding day was absolutely perfect and so much fun! And thanks to an incredible team of vendors, Martha and Matthew had an amazing day celebrating with family and friends.

Wedding Planning and Event Design: The Graceful Host
Photography: Beauty for Ashes Photography
Videography: Iron Kite Films
Flowers: New Creations Flower Company
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Separk Mansion
Catering: Something Classic
Cake: Wow Factor Cakes
Paper Goods: Elisabeth Rose
Photo Booth: ShutterBooth
DJ:All The Right Grooves
Wedding Dress: JLM Couture from Hayden Olivia Bridal
Bride's shoes: Kate Spade
Grooms Suit: Custom
Hair and Makeup: Dollface Skin & Makeup Lounge
Popsicles: King of Pops Charlotte

Pre Ceremony-10
Martha And Matthew - Detail 2
Pre Ceremony-21
Pre Ceremony-31
Pre Ceremony-49
Pre Ceremony-4
Pre Ceremony-64
Pre Ceremony-160
Pre Ceremony-54
Bride & Groom-60
Bride & Groom-55
Details-62
Pre Ceremony-189
Ceremony-44
Ceremony-72
Ceremony-79
Ceremony-94
Ceremony-167
Bride & Groom-217
Bride & Groom-180

One of my favorite portraits to date - how adorable are these oversized confetti-filled balloons?!

Martha And Matthew - Detail 1
Bride & Groom-184
Details-22
Reception-6

I created 64' worth of wooden block runners for the tables and painted them shades of gold, pink, and ivory. Yup - cut (with the help of my handy husband!), sanded, and painted every single inch of these. I absolutely LOVED seeing this vision come to life! I'm so glad our sweet bride trusted me to bring this unique detail to life!

Details-20
Details-39
Details-54

Glitter in the vases - does it get any better than this?! Love this sparkly touch!

Details-14
Martha And Matthew - Detail 3
Reception-22
Reception-212
Reception-209
Reception-234