The Graceful Host

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!

Jackie&Daniel-1
daniel&jacquelyn|smitten&hooked|e-session|bw-7
Jackie&Daniel-2
daniel&jacquelyn|smitten&hooked|e-session|bw-18
daniel&jacquelyn|smitten&hooked|e-session|color-87
daniel&jacquelyn|smitten&hooked|e-session|color-112
Jackie&Daniel-3
daniel&jacquelyn|smitten&hooked|e-session|color-109
daniel&jacquelyn|smitten&hooked|e-session|color-134

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.

Engaged: Lindsay + Ben

I love working with this awesome couple - they are two of the sweetest individuals ever! We are currently hard at work putting the final details on Lindsay and Ben's October wedding at Vesuvius Vineyards (oh my stars, I cannot wait for their big day!), but I couldn't wait to share their sweet engagement session from Lauren Rosenau Photography. Since they are both huge animal lovers and animal rescuers, it only makes sense that the "fur babies" get involved with mom and dad's wedding, right?! I hope you enjoy this bit of lovely as you start off the week!

View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/lindsayandben

Many thanks to Casey Lombardi of Dollface Skin & Makeup Lounge for makeup and Lindsey Pizzuti of Mirror Bomb Studios for hair - y'all made this beautiful bride even more beautiful! Who knew that was possible?!

XO,
A.

Featured: Glamour Magazine Weddings

I am simply over the moon to see this image from Whitley and Darian's gorgeous wedding featured on Glamour Magazine's "Old Hollywood" wedding inspiration for style icon Scarlett Johansson!! This wedding will always be one of my favorites - mainly because this couple is so absolutely amazing - but I'm honored to see this design featured for Glamour readers to enjoy! Many thanks to New Creations Flower Company for this gorgeous centerpiece and Lauren Rosenau Photography for being so amazing at capturing all the beauty. Be sure to check out the full feature, here.

The Graceful Host - Glamour Weddings - Feature

Happy Friday, y'all! Cheers to the weekend!

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!

IMG_5417_20140430_164324
TGH - Quotes

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.

Anniversary: Stephanie + Bryce

I'll never forget the first time I met Steph and Bryce - I loved them from the moment we met. What an amazing couple these two are! Planning for their June 2013 wedding at St. Peter's Catholic Church and the Mint Museum Uptown was so much fun! The cherry on top was that half way through planning, as we're getting to know each other, Steph and I find out that we were both part of the same sorority. It is such a small world! I'm honored to have helped these two sweethearts plan a simply gorgeous wedding! Happy Anniversary you two! Time flies when you're having fun, right?!

0855_2
1161
1157
1132
1139
1065
1480

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

IMG_3733_20140405_181018
IMG_3642_20140405_173823
IMG_3709_20140405_175919

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

IMG_3438_20140403_092411
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/katieanderic

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

IMG_3711_20140405_180710

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

IMG_3701_20140405_175628
IMG_3657_20140405_174145

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

IMG_3922_20140416_104154
IMG_4107_20140419_191051

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

IMG_4114_20140419_191349

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!!) 

IMG_5666_20140503_175459

Ceremony programs for Mindy & Brett's Biltmore wedding

IMG_5663_20140503_173438

Calligraphy favor tags for Mindy & Brett's Biltmore wedding

IMG_5966_20140503_221003

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

IMG_3113_20140322_181059

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

IMG_4567_20140426_164007

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

IMG_5017_20140426_210838
IMG_5014_20140426_205933
IMG_5015_20140426_210533

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

IMG_5012_20140426_204930

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

IMG_6787_20140517_181224

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.

Featured: Fiesta Wedding Inspiration

I absolutely LOVED this shoot, and I was so honored to see it featured on Inspired by This on Cinco de Mayo!! Last summer, Charlotte Wedding magazine asked me to design a fiesta-inspired wedding for the summer issue. (And, brides even voted the design to win a 2013 BOW Award!) To now have one of my all-time favorite blogs feature it, is so exciting! Be sure to check out the full feature here, and scroll through some of my favorite photos - all captured  perfectly by one of my favorite photographers in Charlotte, Smitten and Hooked. These two are amazing! smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-70TheGracefulHost_Blog_FiestaInspirationShoot1smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-41smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-10smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-64smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-152smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-168smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-180smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-184smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-166smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-163smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-157smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | look2-3smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | look2-46smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | look2-19smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | look1-4smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | look1-27smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | look1-43smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | look3-52smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | look3-62smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-195smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | look5-37smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | look5-4smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-85smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-114smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-138smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-100smitten & hooked | charlotte wedding magazine | details-105

 

This whole shoot makes me want to throw a BIG party! Absolutely love how everything turned out… I couldn't have asked for more.  All the amazing vendors and talented wedding pros that participated in this shoot are nothing short of incredible! I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many amazing vendors to produce this shoot for Charlotte Wedding magazine. They helped me bring this vision to life!

Photography by Smitten and Hooked | Wedding design and styling by Ashley Culicchia Cash, The Graceful Host | Fashion styling by Laurel Bendum of Charlotte Wedding magazine | Produced by Aleigh Acerni and Kellie Duff of Charlotte Wedding magazine | Shot on location at Brakefield at Riverwalk | Floral design by Lily Greenthumb’s | Catering and cocktails by Something Classic Catering & Cafés | Cakes by Wow Factor Cakes | Mexican cookies by Suarez Bakery | Rentals and linens from Party Reflections of Charlotte | Paper goods by Three Little Birds | Makeup by Casey Lombardi, Dollface Skin & Makeup Lounge | Hair by Lindsay Pizzuti, Mirror Bomb Studios | Gowns worn by the bride: Marisa - style 898 from Hayden Olivia Bridal, Intuzuri Augustine from Poffie Girls, Watters Blanca gown from J Major’s Bridal Boutique, Modern Trousseau Marena gown from Hayden Olivia Bridal, & Tadashi Shoji dress from Neiman Marcus.

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!

View More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beauty

 

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.

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/beauty

 

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.

View More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beauty

 

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?!

View More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beauty

 

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!

View More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beautyView More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beauty

 

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

View More: http://crystalstokes.pass.us/beauty

 

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.

Everything You've Ever Wondered About a First Look

Oh the first look. Arguably one of the biggest debates among weddings today is this question of: to do a first look? Or, to not do a first look?  And, you can probably make a sound argument for either side.  As a wedding planner (and former bride!), I have a strong stance on this topic.  But, I wanted to bring in a pro to also weigh in with her professional opinion and view points.  I've asked Charlotte wedding photographer, Crystal Stokes of Crystal Stokes Photography to help me answer common questions and clear up some misconceptions about the first look.

1. Let's start with the basics.  What is a first look? It is a private moment between the bride and groom prior to the wedding ceremony.  The photographer and videographer are the only other individuals around to capture this intimate meeting when you get to see your soon-to-be spouse for the very first time.  It's usually a bit staged so that the photographer and videographers can have the chance to capture your reactions as you see each other.  Basically, my clients will trust me to seek out a beautiful location for this moment to happen, and I do my absolute best to get them away from the crowd so they can be alone in this moment together.  Typically, I will place the groom somewhere with his back to the bride, and she will approach him and either tap him on the shoulder, or ask him to turn around to see her.

 2. Why do a first look? What are the pros?  A first look is advantageous for brides and grooms who want to get formal photos taken care of quickly.  The first look is helpful in a couple of ways.  Not only does it give the couple the opportunity to join the cocktail hour or reception more quickly, in order to enjoy the reception longer and to spend time with their guests who all travelled in to celebrate with them.  But, most importantly, it can also ensure that a couple doesn't run out of day light so that they can take all the photos they want out of their day.  A first look also will typically give a photographer more time to do what I like to call the "romantic shots".  You know, the ones that when you finally get your wedding photos back you immediately search for while skipping the others because at the end of the day, your wedding is about your marriage and the person you are committing to spend forever with - and having extra time to create those beautiful photos is really incredible and valuable! Another big pro is that the first look helps couples remain calm on the wedding day.  Nerves can often get the best of people on their wedding day, and I've seen those nerves settle on multiple occasions when the bride and groom were able to hold each other before one of the biggest moments of their life.  It really is a beautiful thing!

First Look - Crystal Stokes Photography
First Look - Crystal Stokes Photography

3. But, won't doing a first look ruin the big reveal? It won't feel as special when the ceremony time comes because we've already spoiled the surprise. I do not think that the first look ruins the big reveal.  There is something so beautiful and fresh and life altering that happens the moment a groom sees his bride walking down the aisle during the ceremony, among loved ones, for the first time. Perhaps he just saw her moments before the wedding, but that doesn't change the magical moment that happens when their eyes met moments before becoming man and wife.

 4. Any other advice you have to share with brides on the topic of a first look? Or anything you want to share with brides to help demystify the first look debate? A first look is a wonderful thing, and I believe that it really depends on what you want from your wedding day and the timeline you want to keep.  I know some couples want to remain very traditional - and I've noticed that the groom more often than the bride wants to wait until the walk down the aisle!  And, if tradition is a top priority, then I never push to change that. However, if a bride is on the fence about which direction to go, I absolutely let them know the benefits of a first look.

I wanted to add a little something, too!  Brides, I echo and want to further explain my personal and professional preference for the first look.  I have never met a photographer that did not prefer a couple to do first look. That is a fact!  I can tell you from experience being a bride that it does not in any way ruin that special moment at the church when you're walking towards your groom.  For me, I got to experience those butterflies and have a whole new rush of emotion all over again once the church doors opened!  I've seen brides visibly become calmer and more natural once they got to see and touch their groom.  The first look is meant to be an intimate time where you can take a deep breath together, and really take a moment to pause for just one little minute on one of the biggest days of your life to take the chance to soak it all in with your guy by your side.  Oh, it's such a special time - I really can't sing it's praises enough!  Brides always want to see their grooms reaction when they finally see them in their beautiful gown for the first time.  A lot of times you get a more genuine and natural reaction from grooms during the first look vs. waiting until the ceremony because they can let their guard down within that private moment and not feel like their whole family (and yours!) are staring at him waiting for him to react to his beautiful bride. Talk about pressure!  First look photos continue to be some of my favorite from the wedding day.  As a planner, I advocate for a first look because it helps with the timeline SO much! Like Crystal said, the photos you want to frame and hang on your wall, to send out as Christmas cards, to show your children one day, etc. are the photos of you and your groom! So, why not make that a priority by getting those coveted photos taken first so that you can be sure that you do not lose any time.  Things happen on a wedding day, and although we do our best as planners to control the schedule, I can't control family members that walk away before photos are complete, or unforeseen distractions that push the timeline back.  All of that being said, it's your day and no one will (or should!) ever force you to do something. However, your vendors are professionals that have done this a time or two, so they are giving you advice based on experience.

Thanks so much for bringing your viewpoint as a photographer to this fun debate, Crystal!  For more information about a first look, check out this helpful video explanation from Every Last Detail, this rather humorous explanation from The Knotty Bride, and this article about wedding day photography from The Knot - check out number 9, y'all.

But, I really want to hear from you! Brides - are you considering a first look? What's your hesitation and/or concerns? And, former brides - let's hear your experience! Did you do it? Did you skip it?

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.

Anniversary: Heather + Sean

It's no secret that I absolutely LOVE celebrations and I will find a reason to celebrate pretty much anything.  And, one year wedding anniversaries are so incredibly special and a major reason to celebrate!!  I want to wish a very, very happy one year anniversary to Heather & Sean!  Your wedding will always hold a special place in my heart.  I absolutely loved being a part of such a memorable day for your family and witness such genuine love.  I hope you two had an amazing first year of wedded bliss and enjoy many, many more to come! Lots of love to you and your adorable family! And, I love every single photo from Lauren Rosenau Photography!

View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/heatherandseanwedding
View More: http://laurenrosenauphoto.pass.us/heatherandseanwedding
TheGracefulHost_blog_HS_2

Featured: Mardi Gras Wedding Inspiration

I'm so ecstatic to share our big, big, big news! Our Mardi Gras Wedding Inspiration shoot is featured on Southern Weddings - and on Mardi Gras Day, Fat Tuesday!  Oh, be still my heart.  It is an absolute dream come true to see my work featured by a publication that I admire and love so dearly! I'm humbled to think that brides from the Carolinas to the great state of Louisiana will be inspired by the unique and fabulous culture of New Orleans.  Really, I feel like someone should just pinch me! You never know why certain people are placed in your life.  And, I do truly believe that God does place people in our paths.  Julie Staley of Old South Studios and I met at a wedding earlier this year - and it was our first time working together, too.  At the end of the night Julie says, hey do you want to design a Mardi Gras wedding for an inspiration shoot? The rest is history, of course, and I just can't help but believe that we were meant to work on this project together. In that moment, I was thinking YES!, YES!, YES!, and later told Julie that I was actually born and raised in New Orleans.  I had a million ideas to share for the shoot!

First and foremost, the most important aspect of the design was to infuse the energy of Mardi Gras and unique characteristics of traditional New Orleans weddings.  I wanted this wedding inspiration to be as authentic as possible, so we incorporated real New Orleans wedding traditions - a second line complete with boa-lined umbrellas and a jazz band, and cake pulls to name a few.  To me, New Orleans is full of life in every way. It's people full of personality and passion; It's architecture full of character and poise; It's landscapes expressing charm and a rich history; It's food full of flavor; It's creativity expressing the unique voice of its' artist; and it's celebrations full of energy - Each element is beautiful in it's own way.  So with that inspiration in mind, I started to pull together a design plan. With the idea of Southern elegance, we choose to have the shoot at the stunning Separk Mansion - a renovated venue full of natural light, gorgeous chandeliers, and rich wood floors.  Chelish Moore of Chelish Moore Flowers took my vision and ran with it, incorporating gold candelabras, vibrant flowers and candles upon candles.  I love the sophistication and luxury of the floral design! Best Impressions Caterers provided a delicious menu, influenced by the incredible food and unique flavor palette of New Orleans.  The chef had all of starving by the end!  And, of course they provided us with a creative signature drink that was naturally N'awlins.  Elisabeth Connolly of Elisabeth Rose created all of the amazing paper goods, and incorporated the grace of New Orleans weddings.  The incredible cake was crafted by Mandie Miller of Got What It Cakes.  I love how she captured the grandeur of Mardi Gras through her design.  I just had to include a welcome box designed to greet guests upon arrival full of Louisiana goodies - Abita Root Beer, Tabasco chocolates, and Mardi Gras-inspired chocolate doubloons - tucked within a glittery gold box from Paper Source.  Stephanie and John, our bride and groom for the day, are actually a real married couple - which I just thought was so perfect!  The gorgeous bridal gowns were both by Modern Trousseau from their Fall 2014 collection ("Tate" and "Teacup") and came from Hayden Olivia Bridal. I am absolutely obsessed with these ultra glam dresses!  They couldn't have been more perfect for the shoot.  And our bride and groom looked picture perfect thanks to Erin Ashley Makeup and Adrian D. Howe Esthetics & Beauty.  All of the rentals came from Party Reflections of Charlotte - Sara Shelor you are amazing!  It is always a team effort to pull together a shoot like this, and I'm so grateful to each of the talented vendors that helped make my dream a reality.  Especially Julie Staley of Old South Studios who allowed me to design every detail.  Julie is so insanely talented, and her eye for capturing emotion and storytelling is incredible!  I can feel her passion for the art of photography and the love of her job with each photo - I am so lucky she asked me to work with her on this project!

I hope you grab a big slice of King Cake and stay a while - come celebrate New Orleans on the Southern Weddings blog! Happy Mardi Gras, y'all and laissez les bon temps rouler!

Here are some of my favorite shots from this fun shoot!


XO,
A.

Inspiration: Neutral Tones

There is something so peaceful and beautiful about a neutral color palette.  And, lately, I've been so inspired by these neutral colors and the elegance that they can bring to almost any wedding style!  I love the effortless feeling of this inspiration board - lush greens, soft peaches, beautiful ivories and earthy beige.  A perfect palette for an outdoor Southern wedding under the oak trees!  This inspiration board incorporates the one of the Pantone 2014 trending colors - sand.  What do you think of neutral tones for wedding colors?  

Sand and Green Wedding Inspiration

XO,
A.