2016: Year In Review


It's hard to believe we are about to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017! Each year, I like to take a look back to see all the celebrations and milestones of The Graceful Host. This year was unlike any other. We had the pleasure of working with some amazing couples and talented vendors over the past 12 months. We visited old, familiar places and new places, made some incredible memories, and continued learning and sharing. Here is a peek into the year that was!

We kicked off the year with Meg + Heyward for a winter wedding celebration at the Bride's family's home. (iPhone snaps by me)

Then a few weeks later we celebrated an amazing couple at the Mint Museum Uptown with a serious wow-factor winter wedding for Katie + Kyle. These two know how to party, let me tell you! View the full gallery, here. (photography by Crystal Stokes Photography)

In March, we celebrated a very special couple. Melanie, the talented florist behind New Creations Flower Company, got married! It was an honor to help one of our own on her big day! View the full gallery, here. (photography by Lauren Rosenau Photography)

Lauren + Andrew's wedding will always hold a special place in my heart. I was due the day before their wedding. It was so important to me that I be able to be there (I've never missed a wedding!), and by some miracle that wish was granted. Though, I was 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant, everything went off without a hitch. And it is all thanks to my awesome team and to this amazing family who never once questioned our dedication to making April 2, 2016 the best day ever! View the full gallery, here. (photography by Julia Laible Photography)

At the end of April, we celebrated Angela + Charlie in a cherry blossom inspired affair at the always lovely Foundation For The Carolinas that will just make you blush ... get it?! ;) Full gallery coming to the blog soon! (photography by Lauren Rosenau Photography)

We headed to beautiful Boxwood Estate to celebrate Brittany + Josh in a glamorous, pastel summer wedding full of heart! Full gallery coming to the blog soon! (photography by Finch and Farrow Photography)

In June, we were back at the gorgeous Mint Museum Uptown to celebrate Jana + Jordan with an elegant and sweet Uptown wedding that was an absolute blast! Full gallery coming to the blog soon! (photography by Crystal Stokes Photography)

We packed up the car and headed 4 hours West to Andrews, North Carolina (just outside of Asheville) to the breathtaking Hawkesdene House to celebrate Jessica + Ryan's vibrant fall wedding. Full gallery coming to the blog soon! (photography by J.Jones Photography)

We were honored to see our work published in some of the most recognizable blogs and magazines in the nation and in the Southeast. Here is a recap of our TWENTY-SIX press features in 2016


As you can see, we were very busy in 2016! And we have so many weddings to share with your over the next few months. 


But by far, the biggest accomplishment and change of all, was the birth of our son, Ryan Elliott Cash. He came into the world on April 6, 2016 and our lives were forever enriched for the better. We are blessed to have a healthy, happy baby boy who is so curious, sweet, and has never met a stranger. He keeps us on our toes and is constantly on the move! Ryan has been the best part of the day for the past 38 weeks. Running a business and being a mom is hard work. (I'm in no way exaggerating.) I had no idea what to expect, and if I'm honest, I was terrified of the balancing act. Having Ryan has actually helped me in my business. I don't always do things right, or know all the answers - every day I'm learning. But it's made me much more intentional with my time and with my clients. We continue to only take a select few weddings each year so that I can serve my couples the way my heart desires. It's helped me focus on what matters most in my professional and personal life. It's been 8.5 months of adventure with our sweet boy, and I can't wait to see all that 2017 will bring our little family.

photography by Brian Schindler Photography

photography by Brian Schindler Photography

I'm so grateful for all the couples I've had the pleasure of getting to know, for all the celebrations that we have been a part of, and for all the talented vendors that we've had the chance to work with and collaborate with in 2016. Thank you to each of our couples for trusting us to plan and produce your special day. It's a honor that I do not take for granted!

And while 2016 was amazing, I'm looking forward to all the excitement of what is yet to come in the year 2017. I have no doubt it will be incredible in it's own special way. I wish each of you a happy and healthy 2017! I hope the promise of a new year and new beginnings brings you peace and hope. 



For Better or Worse, Your Guests Will Remember These Details


Here's the scenario: the love of your life has just proposed and you said yes! Now you're thrown into the exciting adventure called wedding planning. In the weeks and months following, you'll begin to plan for your special day. You'll quickly start to ask yourself questions like "do we need that...?" or "will anyone even notice if...?". And the answers to your questions may vary. Your wedding planner will help you determine what you need and how to make sure your money is best spent. That's our job, right?!

Yesterday, over on Style Me Pretty, I shared a few can't miss details that your guests will definitely notice! These are the details that impact your guest experience - transportation, menu selections, & even the cake! 

Charlotte Wedding Planner - The Graceful Host - Style Me Pretty - Wedding Planning Tips

If you're in the middle of wedding planning, or even if you just slipped that gorgeous ring on your finger - you don't want to miss these tips! See the full feature on Style Me Pretty. 

I saw a few reader comments say things like "so basically thats everything". And to that I say, no not everything. (Trust me, I haven't even mentioned most of what is on a typical checklist for a wedding!) Planning a wedding requires a lot of details and a lot of coordination. Remember: you're planning a large scale event, not a dinner party at your home. You can expect a lot of these important details to be woven together. For example, the venue you select will determine your transportation needs and will also dictate your decor. You should pick your venues wisely. If you're on a budget or planning a wedding when the weather might not be favorable (i.e. it's freezing outside or dark out), then you should consider a venue that is near guest accommodations and would have an option for both ceremony and reception all at the same location. Trust your wedding planner to find solutions for you and to help you prioritize the important details of the day so that you spend your money where it matters!

Thank you for the interview, SMP! :)



Featured + Real Wedding: A Colorful Wedding at the Mint Museum Uptown


We are so excited and fortunate to see not one, but TWO of our clients featured in the recent issue of Carolina Bride! Melinda + Scott's colorful, artful wedding at the beautiful Mint Museum Uptown was one of my absolute favorites from 2015. The gorgeous four page spread is what dreams are made of!

Our color palette was inspired by the beautiful painting in the ceremony location by California artist Sam Francis, Untitled (Seafirst) 1979. Melinda fell in love with the vibrancy of the colors and wanted to incorporate those tones throughout the design. The overall concept was modern structure meets delicate femininity. Melinda and Scott have such a beautiful love story, so we really wanted to embrace it and intertwine those details throughout their day. Starting with their romantic engagement on the iconic Love Lock Bridge - we used the actual key that Scott + Melinda used to "lock in their love" in Paris throughout their paper goods design by Pink Toast Ink. Photos by Capture Me Candid show both Melinda and Scott holding the key on their big day, too! Melinda's dress was one of her favorite details. The intricate bead work of her Monique Lhuillier gown from Nitsa's Apparel was absolutely stunning, and served as inspiration for their wedding cake by the always delicious Wow Factor Cakes. Besides a menu full of delicious food from Best Impressions Caterers, they provided a few late night snacks to surprise guests. Nothing like sliders and maple bacon doughnuts to keep you dancing all night long to Sol Fusion, one of the hottest bands in the Southeast! If your wedding is going to take place in a museum surrounded by gorgeous art - why not have an artist paint on site! Their first dance was captured by very talented live artist, Ben Keys of Wed On Canvas based out of Charleston. Scott + Melinda invited everyone to join in their first dance, and Ben beautifully captured the scene.  Guests loved watching his progress throughout the night, too - he was a huge hit!

It was such an honor to work with this amazing couple. Melinda + Scott are two of the nicest, most down to Earth - not to mention FUN! - people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Being a part of their wedding day was so wonderful! And our vendor team knocked it out of the park! The details from this wedding will leave your head spinning - I'm so excited to share some of my favorite photos from their beautiful wedding day!

Planning + Design: The Graceful Host
Photography: Capture Me Candid
Flower: New Creations Flower Company
Catering: Best Impressions Caterers
Band: Sol Fusion

Live Artist: Wed On Canvas
Paper Goods: Pink Toast Ink
Rentals: Nuage Designs
Rentals: Party Reflections
Rentals: AFR
Cake: Wow Factor Cakes
Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier

Wedding Dress Boutique: Nitsa's Apparel
Hair and Makeup: Zara Millian
Brides Jewelry: Alexis Bittar
Venues: The Mint Museum Uptown


Melinda + Scott were engaged on the famed love lock bridge in Paris, France. This is the actual key that they used to "lock in their love". And the key played a role in our inspiration for a good deal of our paper goods design. These cufflinks were a gift from Melinda to her groom and are a symbol of the key.

Did you know that we design and curate welcome boxes for our couples? I love it! Nothing says "guest experience" like an amazing welcome box/bag waiting for your guests, in their hotel room, upon arrival. We help our couples fill their boxes with their favorites goodies - which was the case of Melinda + Scott - order/assemble everything AND deliver on your behalf. Melinda is our champagne girl, and Scott was our Jameson lover. The sweets were favorites of our couple that they wanted to share with their guests. A welcome box is an easy way to welcome your loved ones to your wedding weekend! We loved this one!

Being that this was a second wedding for both Melinda + Scott, they wanted to do something a little more non-traditional when it came to the ceremony procession. Melinda entered the ceremony space alone, and Scott walked to the end of the aisle and met her and escorted her up to the front. They wanted to walk down the aisle together, towards their future. The symbolism of this just gets me every time! I loved that they wanted to do something different!


Melinda + Scott's first look was the best! 

Do your napkins tell a story? A great way (and inexpensive way!) to personalize your wedding to focus on the little details. These napkins were a great example of how we told Melinda + Scott's story through the details. These napkins represent aspects of their relationship - the key and the monogram from their invitation suite; the place they met and fell in love; and the place where they got engaged.

Melinda + Scott had Ben Keyes of Wed On Canvas do a live painting of their reception. This was something I had done at my own wedding back in 2012 and I can't tell you how much I treasure that painting!! When Melinda + Scott mentioned the idea, I was on board 110%! Once I introduced them to Ben, the search for the perfect artist to capture the moment was over. It was important to Melinda + Scott to have their first dance painted, and they wanted all their guests to join them! It was a beautiful moment, and guests LOVED watching Ben's progress throughout the night! Oh, and having a live artist paint at your wedding reception.... in an art museum?! Talk about an incredible detail!

Okay, and for the record - wedding days are really FUN! And sometimes if you have an awesome photographer, you'll get to see those fun moments! ;) Thanks for the outtakes, Lori! 

And I love when we get to reveal the space to our couples before any of the guest see it! We had that opportunity with Melinda - and it was the best thing ever to see her response! THIS is why I love my job so, so much!!

This wedding was seriously a dream come true - from dream clients to a dream vendor team! It was an amazing celebration and I'm so honored that we could play a role in Melinda + Scott's happily every after. Thank you for letting us in on your celebration! Reliving this day was so much fun! Hope you enjoyed it, too!



Featured: Blush and Silver Wedding at the Ritz Carlton Urban Garden


I couldn't be more excited to see Kendra + Randy's beautiful Urban Garden wedding on Inside Weddings today! The whole day was a dream come true, and as our beautiful bride says, "It was the merging of not just two hearts, but two families." 

Working with this couple and their families was such an honor! We wish we could do it all over again! You can see the full feature and read more about Kendra + Randy's wedding day here on Inside Weddings. (And to see some of our favorite photos from this gorgeous wedding, click here.) 

Thank you, Inside Weddings, for the beautiful feature and for sharing Kendra + Randy's story!



Featured: Elegant Southern Irish-Inspired Wedding

Get ready to meet the most adorable couple ever! Megan and Tom were married in a sweet celebration in July of 2015 at the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Dilworth, followed by a reception at Charlotte Country Club. We infused so many details inspired by their lives and love story - read all about it here, on Style Me Pretty!

Here are a few of our favorite photos from Megan + Tom's wedding day!

Check out this amazing highlight video from videographer, Shamus Coneys Film!

Aren't they the cutest?! I am so, so, so thrilled to be able to share Megan + Tom's wedding day with the readers of Style Me Pretty and of course, you! This day was just as magical as it looked, and we have a team of talented vendors to thank for giving their all for Megan + Tom's big day!

Event Planning + Design: The Graceful Host
Photography: Lauren Friday Photography
Cinematography: Shamus Coneys Film
Floral Design: New Creations Flower Company
Stationery: Elisabeth Rose Stationary
Ceremony Venue: Cathedral Of Saint Patrick
Reception Venue: Charlotte Country Club
Makeup: Makeup By Jenny Le
Hair: Sara Egri
Band: East Coast Entertainment
Bridal Boutique: Bellissima Of Salisbury
Catering + Cake: Charlotte Country Club

Megan + Tom it was an absolute honor to be a part of your wedding day. I truly enjoyed getting to know you both and being a part of your celebration! 


12 Entertaining Tips from The Graceful Host

Huge thanks to The Venue Report for using some of my planning tips + advice in their recent article about entertaining! From words of wisdom & helpful tips to the perfect party play list & a few of my go-to recipes, I'm talking about ways you can make your life easier as you prepare to be the hostess with the mostest this fall and into the holiday season! Check out the full article, here.

Featured: Romantic Southern Wedding Inspiration at Graylyn Estate

I am over the moon to have our romantic wedding inspiration featured on Weddings Unveiled today! I have to extend a big huge thanks to Allison Kuhn Photography for all the gorgeous images! We were presented with many challenges in executing the shoot - the monsoon of a rain storm being the biggest of all. But thanks to Allison and Lindsey Regan Thorne of Be Pretty we moved on to plan B, and I think the end result is still absolutely stunning! Working with a talented team of vendors makes the biggest difference in the world, and I am so honored to have had the chance to work with an incredible team!

Creative Director, Styling and Calligraphy: The Graceful Host
Photography: Allison Kuhn Photography
Venue: Graylyn
Florals: Amy Lynne Originals 
Farm Table: Classic Party Rentals 
Chairs, China, Glassware Rentals: Party Reflections 
Linens: Nuage Designs 
Wedding Cake: Wow Factor Cakes 
Invitation Suite: Amanda Day Rose 
Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier from Nitsa’s 
Earrings: Nordstrom 
Hair & Makeup: Lindsey Regan Thorne 
Groom’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank 
Models: Bethany and Scott Grotz

Our inspiration came from the effortless elegance of Southern brides. Since lace, vintage touches, and a crisp white tuxedo are some hallmarks of Southern weddings, I took those elements and gave them a unique twist. The brides stunning Monique Lhuillier gown from Nitsa’s is a perfect example of a classic silhouette that has been modernized with a fun and flirty high low-esque skirt. I fell in love with the addition of the beautiful lace linen from Nuage Designs to our tablescape - it was the perfect way to add lace to our dining table! I brought in vintage china from Party Reflections for just an extra pop of color at each placesetting and added a flower with calligraphy place cards by yours truly. The color palette was one of my favorite aspects of this shoot! I am in love with the combination of pale yellow, blush, peach and green! The design is a mixture of classic and traditional Southern elements done in an elegant and sophisticated style. Be sure to check out the full feature on Weddings Unveiled! Here are a few of my favorite photos from the shoot.



Featured: Jackie O Inspired Wedding in Uptown Charlotte

I am incredibly proud to see Lauren & Will's beautiful wedding featured on Weddings Unveiled today!! Working with this sweet couple was an absolute dream, and their wedding day is still one of the most fun we've ever had! This group knows how to party! I loved each and every detail we planned. When I first met Lauren, she mentioned wanting a wedding at was inspired by Jackie-O: timeless, classic and full of style. I fell in love with these two the moment we met, and we had such a blast planning for their August 9, 2015 wedding at St. Peter's Catholic Church, followed by the Charlotte City Club. Just wait until you see their stunning portraits by the talented Lauren Rosenau Photography around uptown Charlotte - these two are absolutely breathtaking!

Don't miss the full feature on Weddings Unveiled today by clicking here. And see a few of my favorite photos, as well as a full recap of Lauren & Will's big day in this post. Thank you so much, Weddings Unveiled for the gorgeous feature - it's an honor to share this special day with your readers!

Lauren & Will, thank you two so much for letting The Graceful Host be a part of your wedding day! You and your families will always hold a special place in my heart!