Charlotte NC

Wedding Inspiration: Purple + Pink

I've been in love with this design since the moment this sweet bride approached me with these gorgeous colors - hello Pantone color of the year, radiant orchid! The design that we've created for Rachel + Mike's October wedding at the Mint Museum Uptown is without a doubt full of romance and chic style. I love every single detail we have planned, from the vibrant color palette of pinks and purples to the mixing of metallics to the floor plan! This couple is so great and we're having a blast planning for their big day, which will be here so soon and I cannot wait! Here is a little peek at our inspiration!

Rachel + Mike - Wedding Inspiration Board

XO,
A.

Engaged: Jacquelyn + Daniel

It's been a while since I've gotten a new post up because we've been busy, busy, busy with end of summer weddings and prepping for an amazing fall full of beautiful weddings! One of our lovely Fall couples is this sweet pair - Meet Jacquelyn and Daniel. I love these two! Every time we get together for planning, it's all laughs and all fun... This wedding is going to be one epic party, y'all! (Here is a little peek into their design inspiration.) Jacquelyn is one of the sweetest brides I've had the pleasure of knowing, and Daniel is absolutely hysterical - like really, he's a blast! You can see every single bit of their personalities peeking through this engagement session from the incredibly talented duo behind Smitten & Hooked. I seriously cannot get enough of this couple and their uptown Charlotte engagement session! But more than anything, I can't wait for Jacquelyn and Daniel's August wedding at Foundation For The Carolinas - it's going to be one amazing celebration!

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How dashing are they?! Jacquelyn is absolutely stunning and Daniel looks so handsome in his white jacket! Just wait until you see their wedding day attire! Just a few more weeks until they say, "I do"!

XO,
A.

Wedding Inspiration: The Colors of Sunset

I'm so excited to share a little inspiration for Lindsay & Ben's October wedding at Vesuvius Vineyards with y'all today! This adorable couple fell in love with the natural Southern charm of Vesuvius Vineyards and knew immediately that this was the place where they'd exchange I Do's. We are putting the final touches on some really amazing plans for this sweet couple's wedding - I can't wait to see everything come together! When we first sat down to talk about design, Lindsay mentioned being inspired by the colors of sunset. What could be better inspiration?! Drawing from the colors of a gorgeous cotton candy sky, we've created a vibrant organic inspired wedding incorporating elements like birch wood, natural wood, full color textured floral arrangements, pumpkins, and kale. Take a peek!

Design Inspiration - Bachner Lehman Wedding

It's going to be a gorgeous fall wedding, that is for sure! I can't wait to celebrate this sweet couple!

XO,
A.

Pursuing Your Passion

Back in April of this year, I had the chance to attended an incredible workshop called Pursue: The Workshop in gorgeous Dallas, Texas. I had stumbled upon this wonderful two-day conference in gorgeous Dallas, Texas through the power to social media. (Thanks, Instagram! Y'all should really check out @PursueWorkshop!) After learning more about the amazing speakers and the philosophy behind the workshop, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it! It was everything that I was looking for and each session spoke to me. And what an experience it was! The oh-so talented Lindsey with Lindsey Lenae Photography created this adorable video from our short little slice of heaven - and what a joy it is to relive this experience and be reminded of all the talented ladies that attended! Thanks for sharing, Lindsey, and for lending us your talents!


Attending workshops and retreats like Pursue and Bliss & Bespoke are important to me on many levels. I place a great deal of emphasis on education. I believe that we never stop learning and growing throughout our lives, regardless of our careers & aspirations.  As a classical singer by trade, I know first hand that it takes practice and patience to perfect your craft... and even after all that hard work, you're still never finished learning. For me, with my performance background, I am always striving to perfect my passion for design and styling.  I want to continue to learn new tricks, stay ahead of trends, and to develop best practices for my little business! When you have the chance to learn from & network with the best in the business, the educational investment is well-worth it.

Such cute reminders from all the incredible speakers and vendors who helped make Pursue come to life for all the attendees. I LOVE walking into my office each day to look at these!

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This sweet print was given to me by a dear friend that I met at Bliss and Bespoke. I'm telling y'all.... as a small business owner, it means the world to me to have a network of friends that know exactly what I'm going through and who know my passions - because we share the same dreams! I absolutely love this beautiful reminder. (And, it was so perfect for this blog post!)

I'm also grateful to have the opportunity to have had these head shots taken by the lovely and talented film photographer Amanda Watson - thank you so, so much!! Your work is so breathtaking, Amanda. I'm glad I could be a tiny part of your gorgeous portfolio.

The Graceful Host - Headshots By Amanda Watson - April 2014

Always keep reaching, y'all! Whatever you dreams may be - you can make it happen!

XO,
A.

It's All in the Little Details

I'll admit that I have a special appreciation and love of the little details.  After all, it's the little details that make life special, and the special moments in life personal.  With each new wedding design, my goal (always) is to make those little details, that are so important to brides and grooms, come to life! I've had the opportunity to create a lot of things over the years for brides and grooms. And, after finishing some watercolor creations for a wedding at Daniel Stowe, a Chuppah for two spring weddings, and lots and lots of escort cards, programs, and favor tags, I thought "I really need to gather up all these little projects and share them!" So, without further adieu - here are some of the things I've created for weddings so far in 2014 that I wanted to share! A few have been complete surprises, and revealing those surprises to my sweet clients brings me so much joy!  Just a warning: the photo quality is not that great - actually it's down right awful! - and is courtesy of my trusty iPhone. (Thank God for real photographers!) So, please excuse my photos... I'll just stick with wedding planning and leave the photography to the pro's! 

Custom table runners for Katie & Eric's Mint Museum Uptown wedding

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Prop pillows and ring bearer pillows for Katie & Eric's Mint Museum Uptown wedding

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Sashes for the draping to match the runners and pillows for Katie & Eric's Mint Museum Uptown wedding

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Floating frame display for Katie & Eric's Mint Museum Uptown wedding

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Watercolor table numbers for Mia & Alex's Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden wedding

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Watercolor seating chart for Mia & Alex's Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden wedding

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Chuppah and organza draping for Mindy & Brett's Biltmore wedding (Okay, confession: I can't take all the credit for this one. My amazing husband actually built this chuppah for two weddings this year, and has come to both weddings to help me assemble it on-site. So grateful to have such a supportive and super crafty husband!!) 

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Ceremony programs for Mindy & Brett's Biltmore wedding

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Calligraphy favor tags for Mindy & Brett's Biltmore wedding

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Acrylic table numbers for Whitley & Darian's Brakefield at Riverwalk wedding

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"Here Comes The Bride" sign for Veronica & Chip's Mint Museum Uptown wedding

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Travel-themed escort card display for Veronica & Chip's Mint Museum Uptown wedding

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Travel-themed table numbers for Veronica & Chip's Mint Museum Uptown wedding

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Citrus-themed escort cards for Taylor & Kyle's Byron's South End wedding

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I hate to even share all of these terrible iPhone quality photos, but I'm really proud of the little details that leave my office each weekend to make their way to the amazing brides and grooms wedding days. I'm honored to have the opportunity to be creative and give priority to the special touches of a wedding day!  And believe me when I say that each has been an absolute labor of love.  But it makes me so happy to see my brides and grooms smile with excitement over these details they never expected!

XO,
A.

Just Married: Whitley + Darian

I hope y'all are ready to see a stunning bride and handsome groom! Whitley and Darian were married this past March at Brakefield at Riverwalk on a gorgeous spring day that wedding planners only dream of.  In a beautiful setting with the Catawba River rushing by in the background, this lovely couple said "I Do" among family and friends.  Our sweet bride originally didn't want to look at outdoor venues because the weather in March in the Carolinas can be so unpredictable, but then she saw Brakefield .... and that view changed her mind completely! Since Whitley lived in Missouri at the time,  we worked extra closely together to design each detail with one word in mind: Glam!  I love a girl who knows what she wants - and Whitley, was that girl. We clicked instantly and working with this bride was such a dream come true. She's just as sweet and lovely as she is beautiful! With a soft, monochromatic color palette of ivory and greys (and with some pops of pink!), we designed her dream wedding. I absolutely love the way everything came together, and how Whitley's vision of elegant glamour came to life with the help of an AMAZING vendor team:

Event Design and Wedding Planning: The Graceful Host | Photography: Lauren Rosenau Photography | Floral Design: New Creations Flower Company | Videography: Brian Bunn Films | Venue: Brakefield at Riverwalk | Catering: Something Classic Cafe & Catering | Cake: Wow Factor Cakes | Ceremony Musicians: Charlotte Strings For Events | DJ: Split Second Sound | Paper Goods: Olive Paper | Linens: Party Tables | Draping and uplighting: Sterling Events Group | Transportation: The Royal Rides | Wedding Dress: Nitsa's Apparel of Charlotte

See the full feature on Style Me Pretty here!

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This wedding was so much fun - like, on every single level! The bride and groom danced all night along with friends and family. Y'all, this dance floor was jam packed... and I loved every single second of it! That to me is a sign of a great night. (Thanks, Split Second Sound!) Whitley and Darian, thank you for trusting me to design and produce your dream wedding! You two are absolutely amazing! Big hugs to you! XOXO

XO,
A.

Featured: Southern Simplicity Wedding Ideas

Oh my goodness! I am SO excited and honored to see my "beauty in simplicity" wedding inspired design was featured on the amazing Ruffled Blog! Y'all, I had way too much fun designing this wedding inspiration. And, the incredible photographer capturing all the details was the oh so talented Crystal Stokes of Crystal Stokes Photography  - what an eye this gal has!  For a long time now, I wanted to plan a shoot that celebrated simplicity because I am a firm believer that less is more.  It's easy to get caught up in the tiny details when planning for a wedding, and often times brides get lost along the way, loosing the bigger picture and feeling like they need to keep adding and piling on detail. But, there is so much beauty in simplicity, and I think this is an idea that is often forgotten and overlooked. So, we wanted to take a chance to really celebrate simplicity and show brides how beautiful, sophisticated and elegant simplicity can be. Ruffled Blog - Simplicity - Screen Shot

 

I am so excited to share with you some of my favorite detail shots. But, hop on over to Ruffled Blog to see more of the feature!

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Absolutely LOVE colored glassware! And how perfect are these ruffled plates?! I want to steal them so badly! View More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beauty

 

Have you ever seen a more perfect cake?! I am in love with naked cakes, y'all. This is so stunning! And, how adorable are the little tarts? Sweets tables are my favorite.

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The bridal bouquet was out of this world gorgeous! I love the "wild flower" look and the gorgeous jewel tone colors that popped perfectly against the natural decor and landscape.  Such a beauty - I absolutely LOVE this look! View More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beauty

 

You guys - this is an actual a real couple!  Our models were such troopers… and, talk about good lookin'!! Ow! Ow! Gorgeous hair and makeup by Erin Ashley Makeup and Mirror Bomb Studios - perfectly captures the look and feel of the design.

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The paper goods were out of this world beautiful! I love the addition of lavender - such a treat for the senses and it works perfectly for our natural and simplistic design. Even the response card envelope was made of seeds and could potentially be replanted! How cool is that?!

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This ceremony arch made of garland and driftwood is one of my favorite details! SpringVine Design did an incredible job crafting this on-site for the photo shoot. I wish I could have one of these at every wedding! It's really stunning!

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One of my favorite photos from the day. Oh … be still my heart! So gorgeous!

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Oh man, I could go on and on and on! I'm a total sucker for these details, y'all. And, our entire vendor team was absolutely incredible - I'm so honored to have had the opportunity to work with each of these talented wedding pros: Crystal Stokes Photography, SpringVine Design, Elisabeth Rose, Sky's The Limit Custom Cakes and More, Erin Ashley Makeup, Mirror Bomb Studio, Party Reflections, J Majors Bridal Boutique, & The Laboratory Mill. A big, big thank you for donating your time and talent to this shoot! And a huge thanks to RuffledBlog for featuring my design!

 

XO, A.

 

Engaged: Keely + Hill

No words could describe the beauty that is this engagement session from the amazing Lauren Friday Photography.  I mean, seriously, how stunning is this bride and how handsome is her groom?!  I absolutely adore these two.  Keely is such a sweetheart and every time we get together, it feels like meeting with a long-lost friend rather than a client meeting.  This engagement session is perfectly them - genuine, romantic, sweet, and full of L.O.V.E.!  Take a peek at a few of my favorites. 2014-04-11_00012014-04-11_00022014-04-11_00042014-04-11_00032014-04-11_00102014-04-11_00152014-04-11_00092014-04-11_00082014-04-11_00122014-04-11_00112014-04-11_00062014-04-11_00052014-04-11_00072014-04-11_0014 I'm pretty much obsessed with every single photo. Lauren you outdid yourself… These images are simply stunning! A big, big, big thanks to the talented Lindsey Regan Thorne of Be Pretty for Keely's hair and makeup. I can't wait for Keely and Hill's May 31 wedding at the gorgeous Boxwood Estate in Mocksville, NC! XO, A.

Wedding Inspiration: City Chic

Foundation For the Carolinas Wedding, Wedding, Pink and Grey wedding, Fuchsia Wedding, Uptown Charlotte Wedding, Charlotte Wedding, Wedding Inspiration
Foundation For the Carolinas Wedding, Wedding, Pink and Grey wedding, Fuchsia Wedding, Uptown Charlotte Wedding, Charlotte Wedding, Wedding Inspiration

I just love a good uptown Charlotte wedding! So, when Jacquelyn and Daniel approached me about a chic wedding design at an uptown Charlotte venue - my mind immediately went to Foundation For The Carolinas. Oh this place is beyond stunning!  We have wrapped up our design plans for their Labor Day weekend wedding, and y'all… I cannot wait to share this one with you!  Big, bold, fun pops of fuchsia mixed with sleek gun metal grey.  I love the playful mix of feminine and masculine details.  Beyond the design, we've infused creativity with each turn to keep guests entertained and guessing all night long.  But, I won't give it all away - I have to save some surprises for the big day, right!?  Take a peek at our inspiration.

August 30 can't come soon enough!

XO, A.

Engaged: Lauren + Chris

Meet Lauren and Chris. Two of the sweetest people you'll ever have the pleasure of knowing!  These two fitness enthusiast met at… yup, you guessed it… the gym!  And, even though Chris had to introduce himself to Lauren a few times and their paths happen to cross every now and then, they eventually got to spend time together outside of the gym at a charity event.  The rest is obviously history!  And, when the groom to be proposes to his love at Amelie's, where they ended their first date … you know their love is truly as sweet as can be!  We have been busy, busy planning for their beautiful August wedding at Founders Hall - and having so much fun pulling together all the lovely details.  I'm so excited to share Lauren and Chris's engagement photos from the amazing Love Shutter Photography.  I LOVE that they incorporated their first meeting into the photos!  All of these photos are just so amazing - isn't this couple way too adorable for words?! Engagement Photo, Love Shutter Photography, The Graceful Host, Engaged, Charlotte NC Wedding, Wedding, Engagement Photo, Love Shutter Photography, The Graceful Host, Engaged, Charlotte NC Wedding, Wedding, Engagement Photo, Love Shutter Photography, The Graceful Host, Engaged, Charlotte NC Wedding, Wedding, Engagement Photo, Love Shutter Photography, The Graceful Host, Engaged, Charlotte NC Wedding, Wedding, Engagement Photo, Love Shutter Photography, The Graceful Host, Engaged, Charlotte NC Wedding, Wedding, Engagement Photo, Love Shutter Photography, The Graceful Host, Engaged, Charlotte NC Wedding, Wedding, Engagement Photo, Love Shutter Photography, The Graceful Host, Engaged, Charlotte NC Wedding, Wedding, Engagement Photo, Love Shutter Photography, The Graceful Host, Engaged, Charlotte NC Wedding, Wedding, Engagement Photo, Love Shutter Photography, The Graceful Host, Engaged, Charlotte NC Wedding, Wedding,

XO, A.

Engaged: Breeze + Montell

These two … Oh, my heart just melts looking at these sweet photos by Lauren Rosenau Photography.  The bride, Emily "Breeze", is an amazing personal trainer and owns a great yoga studio in Charlotte, Moga Charlotte, and the groom, William "Montell", is a former college athlete.  When Breeze and I first met, I instantly knew we were a great match.  (Plus, this girl competes in Crossfit - she's like my idol!)  Every single meeting  is full of laughter and full of OMG moments - I can't get enough of her!  She's laid back, absolutely hysterical, and one of the most genuine brides I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.  I'm so excited about our plans for her and Montell's big day, but for now, I want to share with you their beautiful engagement session, which was featured in the latest issue of Charlotte Wedding magazine in "Love on Location"! These photos are without a doubt a perfect representation of their love.  I cannot get enough of these two!

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Breeze & Montell in Charlotte Wedding magazine
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Sorry y'all, but I had to point this out... holy moly!  Hello calves! Hard work and dedication gets you incredible legs! 

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And these last few are my absolute favorite! I just love their love! 
 

XO,
A.

All Eyes on the Bride: Wedding Day Hair + Makeup

This post is part of a series of real questions, from real brides.  Do you have a question about wedding planning, or any part of the process? Ask me! I want to answer YOUR questions. To submit your questions, email me at ashley@gracefulhost.com.

Question: What do I need to know about wedding day hair and makeup? Is there something special that I need to do to prepare for the big day?

There is a whole lot of planning that goes into a wedding day.  And as a bride, I'm sure you're very much aware of your ever growing to-do list.  But, as you're carefully planning every last detail for your big day, it's important not to overlook a big part of your wedding - hair and makeup!  On the biggest day of your life, you want to look your best.  So, leave the beauty prep to a professional!  I've asked the oh-so-talented Kymm McLean from Who's The Fairest? to weigh in on some frequently asked bridal beauty questions.

Wedding Day Hair and Makeup

1. What's your biggest advice to brides regarding a wedding beauty regimen? Keep it simple and don't stray from your regular routine. Definitely don't try anything new the week of your wedding! Unless you've tried it before and had good results, don't try it the week of your wedding - especially the day before your wedding. This includes waxing, facials, microdermabrasion, new cosmetic brands, new hair stylist, tanning, and many more. Anything that could potentially end in error, should be avoided.

2. The bride wakes up on her wedding day with a huge zit! Yikes! What's your recommendation to girls that have breakouts as the wedding day approaches and/or on the big day? A pimple is usually the result of excess oil getting trapped in the pore; however it can also be caused by hormonal imbalances caused by stress.  Since a pimple is just one little small area, there is no need to treat your entire face with strong products or medication. The best treatment is a spot treatment product for that one area: Boo Boo Zap!, Yes To TomatoesAcne Free are some great options.  You can also go by a medi-spa and get it "zapped" with a high frequency implement - don't worry, it's painless and takes only seconds - which will help speed up the drying/healing process.

3. What beauty service(s) should every bride absolutely, without exception, have on her wedding day? Certainly, makeup and hair.  Unless the brides hair is very short or naturally very curly and she is wearing it naturally.

4. What do you recommend all brides should do the morning of their wedding? The bride wakes up and then what are the first few things she should do before starting to get ready? Stick to your normal routine.  There is peace in familiarity, and feeling normal on your wedding day is important to keep the stress level at a minimum.  And, if bride had a little too much fun the night before, then hydrating is key.  Don't forget to eat breakfast and lunch - eating as well is important.  I see a lot of brides with nervous stomachs so keeping an antacid handy is also a great idea.

5. What is airbrush makeup? Do recommend this for bridal makeup? Airbrushing makeup is formulated to spray through a gun that sprays in tiny micronized droplets.  It "lays" on the skin, so it accentuates fine hairs, texture and pores.  And when your skin moves, it tends to "crackle" since the formulations tend to have a shellac finish to them. The product itself is very expensive with a very short shelf life, so once they expire, it separates and smells rotten. The airbrush machines are loud, bulky and difficult to transport, too.  They often clog which is a disaster because it takes a lot of time to disassemble them to clean and put back together.  (Precious time not available during a wedding beauty session.)  Also, the foundation may be self setting but you still need to set with a finishing powder to get a matte finish for photos - so what's the point of airbrushing?  You can't spray the eyes or lips so you still have to transport and apply traditional makeup, so again, what's the point?  I find it much more effective to apply a foundation with a brush and buff it into the skin so it looks like a part of the natural finish, and then setting with powder for a beautiful velvet finish.

6. What's something you wish all brides knew about wedding/bridal hair and/or makeup? Brides should book hair and makeup with a professional that schedules a practice session, so on the actual day, there are no surprises.  Aside from this, it's important that the bride work with someone that listens to her and finds out her daily makeup routine, her lifestyle and her exceptions on wedding day.  And, that professional should be able to incorporate those aspects while also achieving a style that photographs beautifully, lasts all day and night, and most importantly - makes the bride feel like she looks like herself, but just a bit more glamorous!

Thank you so much, Amanda, for the great question! Do you have a question about wedding planning that you’d like answered?  Email your question to ashley@gracefulhost.com.

XO,
A.