charlotte North Carolina

Bridal Portraits: Taylor

I can't say enough about this sweet bride! Working with Taylor and Kyle for their May wedding at Byron's South End was an absolute blast. Taylor is about as easy going as they come and Kyle is such a gentleman! I loved getting to know this gal - she is so lovely and her heart is so big! I'm excited to share her gorgeous bridal portraits taken at Separk Mansion. Just take a look at her stunning smile - It's so infectious! I am pretty much in love with these photos from Lauren Rosenau Photography and I'm absolutely obsessed with her colorful bridal bouquet by the talented New Creations Flower Company. Take a peek at a few of my favorite portraits!

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TGH - Bridal Portrait 1 - Taylor Fenig
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TGH - Bridal Portrait 3 - Taylor Fenig
TGH - Bridal Portrait 2 - Taylor Fenig

Cheers to you, Mrs. Shirkey!

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!

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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.

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?!

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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.

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.

 

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.

Wedding Inspiration: Vivid Love

Y'all know how much I love a bright color palette. Well, can you image how excited I am for Taylor and Kyle's sunny, citrus-inspired wedding full of beautiful yellows, oranges, pinks, mints and greys?!  The vivid colors fit Taylor to a tee - this girl is about a sweet as honey and can light up any room. We've been having so much fun planning for her May wedding at Byron's South End, and I want to share a bit of our inspiration with you!  Our bride's style is clean and classic, but with a funky twist.  So, we're pulling in some unique and fun details to mimic their lighthearted personalities. I just love these two, and cannot wait to see everything come together in a few short months!

Taylor and Kyle - inspiration

XO,
A.

Bliss + Bespoke Retreat: Recap

A few weeks ago, I attended an amazing retreat called Bliss and Bespoke in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina.  I stumbled upon this retreat after seeing a post on Instagram. The power of social media, y'all.  I clicked to find more information and was sold immediately! I knew this was just the kind of thing I needed to push my business to the next level.  I jumped at the opportunity to learn from amazing women that I've long admired and looked up to (like Joy Thigpen, Jacin Fitzgerald, Tara Guerard, Leila Lewis), and to have the chance to surround myself with a community of wedding planners from all over the country.  Bliss and Bespoke was more than I could have ever imagined - and just what I needed! Though there were many takeaways from the entire week and all the incredible speakers, a biggie that resonated  loudly with me was the challenge to identifying your core. Why do you do this job? What do you love about it? What are you passionate about? What do you value? Honestly, you don't have to be a wedding planner to use your core values to drive you toward success. Even brides and grooms could use this way of thinking when starting to plan for their wedding day! I realized (or, should say, have started to realize) what core values are within my business, and what gives me so much excitement about weddings.  And, I'm a little shocked at how simple it is - I want to see others happy. Everything I was exploring kept coming back to happiness and joy.  I truly do love this job.  Sure, it's fun to go to tastings with couples, to pick out centerpieces and design floor plans. But, there are a lot (like a lot, a lot, a lot) of things that go on behind the scenes - and, truth be told, most of these tasks are not so glamorous and not so fun.  But, to see a bride get excited about her design plan, or a groom melt over the perfect cake flavor, or a couple laughing and dancing so carefree on their wedding day…. it all comes back to joy, and everything leading up to that point was 1,000,000% (x's infinity!) worth it.  My "why" is my clients.  And, that is exactly why attending a retreat like Bliss and Bespoke was important to me - so that I can truly give my couples the best experience possible, and to keep my passion for this industry burning brighter than ever.

I want to share just a few photos (from my trusty iPhone, of course) from this incredible experience.  I'm going to call this Part One of my recap because these photos just don't do Bliss and Bespoke justice!  Everything was executed perfectly by an amazing little power duo - Katie and Betsy.  I cannot even begin to thanks these two ladies enough for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime!  Words really cannot even begin to express my gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to reignite a passion within me to focus on what matters most and bring that passion to my brides and grooms.  I've come back and jumped into work energized, inspired and ready to create beautiful weddings.  And, now, I also have a whole new network of friends that truly amaze me.

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I can't wait to share more from this experience - as well as some actual professional photos from the oh so talented Caroline Lima and KT Merry!

XO,
A.

Inspiration: Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day Inspiration
Valentine's Day Inspiration

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite days of the year! A day full of love and happiness? Yes, please - sign me up! I just can't get enough.  There are so many different kinds of love that we'll experience throughout our lives, and I feel so honored to have been a part of so many love stories over the years.  In honor of this special day, I've pulled together some Valentine's Day inspiration to share.

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I hope you get to hug someone you love and that your day is full of joy!  I am so grateful for all of the special people in my life - especially my sweet husband that is way too good for words and puts up with all my craziness. I'm a lucky lady!  And, I do hope y'all know how much each of you mean to me. Know that you are loved! And, I have to share this beautiful print from one of my favorite calligraphers, Laura Hooper, that is perfect for this love-filled day.

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Happy Valentine's Day!

XO, A.

Engaged: Adriana + Terrell

I absolutely adore everything about this engagement session for Adriana and Terrell by the incredibly talented Richard Israel.  Engagement sessions are beautiful by nature, but when the bride is a model? Oh my goodness. Seriously, I just can't get over these photos!  It looks more like an editorial spread than an engagement session, but that's what I love about this couple! Their laid back style, how they're not afraid of doing something different, and their complete head-over-heels love for each other. Not only is Adriana an incredibly beautiful model, but she is such a sweetheart.  We are in the middle of designing her August wedding at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden - and having SO much fun planning each detail!  I love how important guest experience is to this couple - we clicked instantly, and I cannot wait for their big day!

Get ready to be wowed, y'all!

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Seriously stunning.

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Oh. My. Gosh! Y'all! How amazing are these two?! I'm completely obsessed with the last two photos.

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Congratulations, Adriana and Terrell!

XO, A.

You're Engaged! Now what?

Congratulations on your engagement! I hope you've celebrated with friends and family, and you have popped more champagne than you could have ever imagined. It's important to soak in every single minute. After all, this is a huge milestone in your lives, as well as an exciting time for both your families. Your time as an engaged couple will fly by, so I encourage couples to do everything they possibly can to savor this special time in their relationship and to really enjoy planning for their special day.

It's no secret among anyone who's been there that engagements are full of emotion. Like, I'm talking a roller coaster ride full of emotions. Of course, the experience is different for everyone, but the basic emotions tend to be the same. First (and most importantly!), there's the extreme happiness knowing that you'll be spending the rest of your life with your best friend, experiencing all that life has to offer side-by-side. But, then once things settle down a bit you then start to think about actually planning for the wedding day, and you feel overwhelmed with where to even begin. Which can bring on the worry and fear that you want everything to be perfect, and for all of your guests to have fun at your reception, eating delicious food and partying all night long with a great band - but, how on Earth do you make this happen? There's the unique feeling of pure joy and anticipation when you finally find THE dress. There's the butterflies you feel as your wedding day get's closer and you arrive at your rehearsal realizing, "O-M-G. I'm actually getting married tomorrow!" And, of course all of the smiles and tears along the way. Regardless, it's a once in a lifetime experience that should be cherished and fun!

You're Engaged! Now What?

Pretty much every bride I come in contact with tells me the same thing - I have no idea where to begin with wedding planning. My response is, well why would you? I mean you've never planned a wedding before. So take some of that pressure off yourself and know that you're in the majority with that one - and, that's okay! Just like with anything else that is brand new to you, where you have no experience or information, research is key. You would do research before you buy a car, so why not do your research while planning for your wedding? It's pretty difficult to make a decision if you're not properly informed, so I encourage couples to do some reading - be a good consumer! - and look at real weddings so they have some sort of idea around the many, many, many options and decisions they're about to face.

So, you're engaged! Now what? Today, I'm sharing my top 3 recommendations to couples who are ready to start planning for their big day.

1. Determine your wedding planning budget. This is the biggest and most important step to getting started. I seriously cannot stress this enough, y'all. It can be a hard conversation to start, but it needs to happen before you can move forward with planning. If you don't outline a budget beforehand and know what you can spend, then how will you know how to make decisions? Once you have an overall budget set, a wedding planner can help you allocate your money so that you spend your budget in a smart and efficient way. Or your wedding planner can help you create a planning budget. Budget recommendations and tools from websites like The Knot can be helpful for some individuals, but it's not most. Each wedding is unique and each bride has her own set of priorities, so there is no such thing as a one size fits all wedding budget. That's where a wedding planner, someone who has an idea of what things actually cost, can help you budget your money efficiently so that all your needs are met. It's the first thing I do with my couples before moving on to step number 2.

2. Choose a few wedding dates. This can be tricky for busy couples, but it's important to have an idea of when you'd like to get married. Think of the time of year you'd like to get married and take into account things like national holidays, vacation time, family schedules, and yes, even things like sporting events/seasons and big conventions that can affect travel and/or accommodations. Once you've determined the time of year you'd like to tie the knot, then choose 2 to 3 dates - 1 date that is your first choice, but then 2 to 3 back-up dates incase the first date doesn't work out. Some venues can book up a year or two in advance! So, having those back-up dates outlined are good to have in your tool box, just in case. Then, you can tackle step number 3.

3. Get started on that guest list. Another difficult item on the checklists for brides and grooms, but one that will have a very big financial impact is the guest list. Long story short: the more people you invite, the more budget you will need to cover the cost of your guests. This is why setting a budget is an all too important first step. The number one way to cut costs when planning for your wedding is to cut your guest list. Obviously that can be difficult for couples with large families, but it's an important tip to remember when putting together a list of guests to invite to witness your marriage. If you need to be more budget conscious, consider inviting fewer guests to help keep costs low. There are a number of cost saving ways wedding planners can help couples who might want it all, but don't have the budget it afford it all.

Once you've checked off those three items from your list, then you can go on to look at venues and book wedding your vendors. If you're considering hiring a wedding planner, that should be the very first vendor you meet with after knocking out the steps above. Hiring a planner will give you the tools you need to have a stress-free, fun and organized experience planning for your wedding. A wedding planner is an important and valuable part of your wedding vendor team. The list of things a wedding planner handles for brides and grooms is not something a friend, mom, aunt or cousin can handle. For more information about getting started with planning your wedding and making some big decisions, I recommend starting here. Every wedding planner offers different services, and be sure to pay close attention to the wording being used - a wedding planner differs from a wedding coordinator. And not every wedding planner offers wedding design services. So if you're looking to hire a wedding planner, be sure to recognize the difference between the various types and choose the one that will serve you and your needs the best. You can read more about the various roles of wedding planners and coordinators: here and here and here.

The biggest tip I can give couples who are just starting to plan for their wedding is a simple concept at heart, but it can be hard to apply: "don't sweat the small stuff." Not everything will go as planned, not every dream will be realized, and it won't always be a fairy tale journey to the altar. But, who cares about any of that! The reason you're planning a wedding is to get married to the love of your life! As long as you two get married at the end of the day, then what else matters? So take it in stride if it rains on your wedding day and your outdoor ceremony is moved indoors. Don't stress out about the color of the napkins not being the same shade of pink as the flowers on the table. Let it roll off your back when family and/or friends give you grief over some of your decisions - it's your day, remember? And, look the other way when you realize that you don't have the budget for your favorite band AND a photo booth. None of that matters in the grand scheme of things.

You're engaged! Now start planning for your future together as Mr. and Mrs.! The Graceful Host offers full service wedding planning and design services - if you decide you need a little help. :) I'd love to talk to you about your wedding and see how I can help you plan for the best day ever. Come say hello!

XO,
A.

Engaged: Mia + Alex

These two are really, really sweet.  And, their December engagement session at Freedom Park with Lauren Rosenau Photography captures their adorable love perfectly!  Mia and Alex met in the Queen City, but a residency at John Hopkins for Mia sent them just north to Baltimore, Maryland.  They'll be coming home to get married in the city where they fell in love - you may remember our inspiration for their romantic garden wedding - and we cannot wait until April!  Cuddle up with your special someone, and spend some time with these two love birds.

Engaged - Mia and Alex - Photo by Lauren Rosenau
Engaged - Mia and Alex - Photo by Lauren Rosenau
Engaged - Mia and Alex - Photo by Lauren Rosenau
Engaged - Mia and Alex - Photo by Lauren Rosenau
Engaged - Mia and Alex - Photo by Lauren Rosenau
Engaged - Mia and Alex - Photo by Lauren Rosenau
Engaged - Mia and Alex - Photo by Lauren Rosenau
Engaged - Mia and Alex - Photo by Lauren Rosenau

 

XO,
A

Inspiration: All That Glitters

There's something about glitter and sequins that just makes a girl feel special, you know?  I think it goes back to iconic characters like Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz and her gorgeous ruby red glittery shoes.  Lately, I've been drawn to sequin-adorned anything!  From my usual browsing of Pintrest, I came across this amazing dress from Free People, and I was instantly flooded with snapshots full of glittery party details.  This adorable dress is the source of todays glitzy wedding inspiration. When it comes to wedding design, using a little sparkle and shine can go a long way.  Gone are the days when glittery details were solely reserved for holiday and New Years Eve parties.  No ma'am!  We can see a little shimmer in linens, paper goods, glassware, cake design, bar accessories, bridesmaids dresses, and of course, wedding shoes year round.  For the girl that wants to be truly dazzling on her wedding day, this is the inspiration for you!

All That Glitters
All That Glitters

XO,

A.

Merry Christmas from The Graceful Host

Christmas is a special time of year for family and friends. I love hearing stories of generosity between strangers and witnessing kindness among all the hussle of the holiday season. As many of you know, I'm originally from New Orleans and my husband is from Ohio. So, our Christmas consists of a lot of travel! It was definitely an adjustment on our part to wake up in a hotel room and then hop on a plane on Christmas morning, rather than sleeping in our own comfy bed and coming downstairs to breakfast, seeing if Santa came to visit. Some days it's overwhelming preparing to leave home and experience whirlwind holiday travel. But, then I remember that Christmas is about family and I think about how fortunate I am to be able to travel, and to see grandparents, aunts and uncles, in-laws, cousins, and friends that I rarely get to see. I remember that I am blessed to live this life and to have two amazing families to visit. Just a little side story: One of my favorite traditions is sending a Christmas card. As a kid it was always very annoying dressing up in matching outfits and smiling with my brother until my mom got the "perfect" shot. Trust me, it took a few dozen ... rolls of film. But, I really love looking back to see how we've grown as a family. Once I was going to have a family of my own, I started bugging my then fiancé, Todd, to let me put together a Christmas card, but he thought we should wait until we were actually married to send out a card together. (Men!) You better believe I started designing our first Christmas card as Mr. & Mrs. as soon as I saw the first advertisement come through my inbox! Of course, for our first Christmas there were many photos to choose from since it was such a big year. But, for our second Christmas card, I ran into some troubles. It seems, without even realizing, we had not taken a single photo together since our honeymoon in June 2012! Fail. This year, I didn't have time to get photos taken, even though I have so many incredibly talented photographers at my fingertips. Double fail. So, I used a photo from our honeymoon in Cabo. Which, ironically, we took ourselves! I had to send out a Christmas card even though I didn't have the perfect photo because traditions are so incredibly important to me. Please excuse the old, very unprofessional photo! But, the sentiment holds true.

Our 2013 Christmas Card:

2013CashChristmasCard
2013CashChristmasCard

And, I wanted to share just a few photos from my trip home to New Orleans for the holidays! My dad and brother refused to have their photos taken so there are some important people missing, but oh well. Also not pictured, are the annual Christmas Eve trips to the casino on Canal Street. It must be a lucky time of year because Todd walked away with $310 and my brother with over $500!

Merry Christmas 2013
Merry Christmas 2013

The nature of wedding planning is so intimate, and my brides and grooms are like family to me! I want to extend a big cheery Merry Christmas to you and yours. And to all of my 2013 brides - I hope you enjoy an amazing first Christmas together as Mr. and Mrs.! I wish you joy and happiness this holiday season. I hope your days are full of family and friends! Cheers, from my little family - Ashley, Todd, and Lucy (my adorable furry assistant) pictured below.

photo-2
photo-2

XO, A.

Inspiration: Navy, White + Green

You may remember this wonderful couple from their engagement session over the summer with Lauren Rosenau Photography. Katie & Eric are set to wed next April at the Mint Museum Uptown - and, I seriously cannot wait to see these two get married!  Our first consult was actually one year from today. (I swear I'm not a creepy stalker ... I'm just a good note taker! And I was reading some pervious notes last week, when I realized our "one year anniversary" is today!)  From that very first meeting, we just clicked.  This post is starting to sound like I'm in love with these two - and, you'd be totally right to make that assumption. This girl is just so amazing, and we've had an absolutely blast planning for her wedding.  I thought today would be just perfect for sharing their wedding design inspiration. Katie can only be described as a Kate Spade bride. She loves clean lines, effortless style and chic patterns in all the right places.  With a color palette of navy blue, ivory and kelly green, I think even Kate herself would love what we've come up with.  I love the use of elements like geometric patterns and architecturally-inspired flowers mixed with clean and simple lines.  Brides often ask about mixing themes - and I say why not?!  I encourage taking elements or inspiration from a theme and, in some cases, altering it a bit to fit into a design plan in a cohesive way.  For this wedding design, we've taken a pretty traditional color palette and classic ideas but we infused a little modern flare in the execution through pops of graphic patterns and fun textures.  I always appreciate brides that are willing to take a few steps outside the box, and stretch their design comfort level to reach a whole new level of "wow".  I cannot wait to see this wedding unfold!  Take a peek at our inspiration, and let me know you what you think.

NavyWhiteGreenWeddingInspiration_K&E
NavyWhiteGreenWeddingInspiration_K&E

XO, A.