6 stunning ceremony concepts

Stunning ceremony concepts are few and far between, as current web culture promotes a rinse + repeat mentality that can totally squash innovation. For starters, I am definitely a fan of an exquisite floral arbor, as long as it looks like it belongs on the property. Aisle decor fashioned from stunning weathered wood planters or aging stone pots filled with blooms is a timeless way to set the tone of a wedding. For those who love a little head cover, perhaps nothing is more peaceful and composed than letting a historic church’s architecture be the interest at a ceremony. But beyond that?

For starters, here are a few top tips for creating a gorgeous atmosphere at your ceremony:

1. Think like a photographer: is what you’re creating going to be visible in the “shot”?

2. Scale is everything. Can your urns be seen by folks on the last row? Does that one central urn look like it’s coming out of the officiant’s head?

3. Candlelight is rarely an option. Lanterns, drippy tapers, and hanging votives only work for a ceremony slated for dusk or later.

4. Does everything you have envisioned translate seamlessly in a rain scenario?

5. You don’t have to sing every note you know. An arbor + urns + chair florals + aisle markers + bouquets + a petal toss is most definitely overkill. Pick 1 or 2 things and do them really well.

Ford Plantation ceremony

While designing for Bridget + Rob’s fabby Ford Plantation affair, I kept thinking about my antique demi-johns . . . then it dawned on me that upping the collection and filling them with French tulips would make for a fresh altarscape. I’d seen quite a few floral designers scatter petals on this lawn and (sorry!) it always looked like trash to me, because the bent grass is so incredibly perfect. A rustic trestle leg table and these blown glass wine flagons seemed like the perfect solution. | a bryan photo

Lisa Vorce ceremony

This ceremony designed by Lisa Vorce blows me away. The trompe l’oeil chair covers, the muslin draping, the exposed rafter beams, the antique hardwoods, and the simplicity of the altar area make it incredibly powerful. The all-white thang does’t hurt, either! I am not characterized by working with monochromatic looks- but I’d give my right leg to say this was my idea! Fab. | aaron delesie

lemon leaf ceremony

I had a blast working with Allie + Paul on their summertime bash at the William Aiken House, not least because they gave me 100% creative license. Their zippy spirits made me want to work with citrus, and what better accent then hundreds upon hundreds of fresh lemons? While the venue’s architecture is significant enough to stand (fairly) alone, what fun would there be in that? We bought punchy lemon umbrellas and had Blossoms Events wrap them in lemon leaf + fresh lemons on the vine, and we designed a massive lemon-studded garland + wreath to frame out an existing pair of carriage house doors. Talk about cheerful, different, and memorable. | gayle brooker

Topiary altar ceremony

There is something so classic + crisp about a simple garland of seeded eucalyptus, flanked by two ligustrum topiaries. I love the minimalist angle of this ceremony from Hey Pretty Wedding.

Live oak covered in flowers

I’ve seen a few images like this circulating on Pinterest, and I just love it . . . what a fresh, uncontrived take on meshing fresh blooms and an old live oak. We are almost always met with a super prominent tree (or 10!) where we put on weddings . . . may have to use this concept sometime soon! | The Green Vase




Brides Magazine August/September 2015 – featured!

BRIDES Magazine is an arbiter of exquisite taste, beautiful weddings, and solid advice- so of course we love it when they tap us to contribute to expert advice columns. After a decade in the business, I have so much to share- but no time to create yet another workshop (thus adding to the workshop oblivion!), since our focus is first + foremost on our incredible clients. That being said, it’s fun to connect with vibrant writers and Brides Mag staffers to put foundational advice out into the world.

In the article below, we highlight a few of our top secret tricks to making wedding day prep smooth + seamless. Granted, it’s not rocket science- but without these little amenities, the day can be a little harried. From whole hog steamers (Jiffy is our fave) to full length mirrors (Target run, anyone?) to paper towel (Viva is the best!), the best supplies on hand can keep anxiety + tears at bay.

The ultimate point? The devil’s in the details.

Brides Cover Brides Magazine August/September 2015 Brides Magazine August/September 2015 Brides Magazine August/September 2015 Brides Magazine August/September 2015

11 Little Tricks for a Stress Free Wedding Day

There may be a million little tricks for a stress-free wedding day, but these 11 will certainly keep you in good stead as a digestible mashup from us + other top industry pros + friends of mine, Lisa Vorce, Brooke Keegan, Maria + Kelly of Ritzy Bee, and Audrey Hurst.

I love when Real Simple comes calling, especially when penned by my long-time schoolmate + NYC writer extraordinaire Elizabeth Passarella. The content is so spot-on and sleek, and just makes you kinda wanna fill a bathtub up with back issues and bathe in all the OCD goodness. Weird mental image- but truth.

If you’ve missed our contributions to Real Simple in the past, take a gander:

1. One of our first Indian weddings + favorite clients’ work of all time was in Real Simple Weddings, before it was shuttered. LOVED that mag, and that’s how I got to know my good friend and Country Living EIC Rachel Hardage Barrett, a TN native like Elizabeth Passarella and myself.

2. Keep Calm + Party On shares some of our ways to entertain easily + breezily during these sweltering summer months.

3. How to Plan a Destination Wedding in Real Simple shared our simple advice on the first 5 steps you need to take- so crucial.

4. 16 Tips for an Effortless Outdoor Party in Real Simple is just the tip of the iceberg of our wealth of knowledge after over a decade in that biz- but a good read at that! Call us if you want the real skinny. Ha.

Enjoy the below tips + tricks on making your big day fun- that’s the whole point y’all, it’s not supposed to be this frenetic, harried experience- that’s why you have “us”!

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Top Tips : Knockout Dinner Napkins

Chèz Clark, there is a beautiful primitive pine chest with 5 drawers positively overflowing with stunning linen dinner napkins galore. Hemstitch, monogrammed, whipstitched, rolled edge, luncheon size, dinner size, antique, heirloom, Swiss dot, scalloped, Irish linen, you name it. There is even this sneaky half drawer at the bottom- if you look really closely, you’d still mistake it for a decorative front to the chest. Oh no, m’dear- that’s my stash of hundreds of cocktail napkins in every color of the rainbow- many delicately embroidered, some flaxen and Belgian, some crisp and preppy, all pressed and ready to dab.

We love a refined seated dinner- well, what designer wouldn’t? I know it’s truly de rigueur in the South to have a station-style wedding, and trust- je did for our own 10 years ago. When I have my druthers though, I’ll take a seated party every time; I can play with paper, linens, flatware, china, glassware, containers, and napkins to my wee heart’s content.

As an aside: I think it’s lame to clutch your sources to your chest . . . to build a virtual panic room to house your design “secrets” and your suffocating scarcity mindset. To offset that common practice in our industry, I aim to share within these posts. I hope you ‘preesh- because it makes me happy to think I may turn anyone on to these awesome purveyors we tap constantly for beautiful bits.

Here are our favorite go-to sources for elegant dinner napkins. Caveat emptor: I didn’t say inexpensive. Ahem. “Buy cheap, buy twice” is most certainly one of our design mantras.

1. Julia B. Linens 

Julia is the end-all be-all of monogrammed fabulosity. Click and slobber over the options- it’s pretty painful. I am über decisive and even I stutter + stumble trying to narrow the field for our clients.

2. Leontine Linens

Jane Scott Hodges is a fabulous arbiter of style and her NOLA headquarters is chock full of inspiring linens ranging from bedding to tabletop. If you don’t have her book, Linens: For Every Room and Occasion, get thee to Amazon.

3. Sferra

Sferra’s Filetto + Festival lines totally blow our skirts up. Gorgeous dye lots, dependable customer service, and exquisite edging are the hallmarks of a Sferra napkin.

4. Boutross

I cut my teeth on Boutross. Even typing this blurb takes me back to being 22 at Design Cuisine– in the grip of the Rockefeller-Carnegie wedding (my 1st wedding, ever- could you die?) and The Kennedy Center Honors, ordering thousands of Battenberg lace napkins and chewing my nails to the quick that they made it through customs. I remember fondly the weeks-long span when they were stuck on a barge in some sea near Turkey- recurring nightmare of my career.

Those are just a few gems- the rest of our go-to faves are to the trade only and would likely “pedigree check” you (aka a “pedicure check” in our studio) and make your life hassle-ish.

Check out some of our favorite napkins, monograms, and folds below!

Julia B pale blue napkin place setting

Could there possibly be a prettier fretwork faggotted edge or wedgwood blue that’s not too Williamsburgish and stuffy? Only with Julia Bcitrus and orange blogspot place setting gold feather napkin

I’ve just always loved the simplicity of this look: continental bead plate, gold flatware, chunky white napkin folded simply and secured with a gold leaf napkin ring, replete with asymmetrical pink blooms. via Citrus & OrangeSouthern Living Leontine Linens Place Setting

Jane Scott Hodges of Leontine Linens whipped this table setting up for Southern Living– natch. I have all this lying around in my abode, too- I just, you know, couldn’t get it together in time when they called. (wink). And this, my fine feathered friends, is why it always IRKS me when brides say they have no need or desire for china. It makes me stabby. I wanna say- ‘you sure ’bout that? take a look-see, glasshoppah- learn from the wise ones.’Style Me Pretty pale blue napkin

This little gem of a shot came from Style Me Pretty, and reminds us that less is definitely more. A simple watercolor-lettered menu resting atop lemon leaf (or salal, or some such greenery) on top of an everyday powder blue napkin- it’s all good in the ‘hood. Southern Lady Magazine flower napkin fold

I’m not a giant fan of the Victorian Depression Era pink glass in this application per se- it’s a little saccharine . . . but for some reason, I think the dip-dyed napkin folded into a rosette with two fresh green leaves for “reality” is really sweet without being precious. Perf for a bridesmaids’ luncheon, no? via Southern Ladythe enchanted home.co monogrammed napkin

This two color custom monogrammed napkin in slate blue and navy goes with everything, as evidenced in this picture where it’s not super matchy McMatcherson but totally works. I’m guessing it’s via Number Four Eleven, one of our fave Savannah-based monogrammed napkin sources. I could be wrong, but whatevs- Number 411 is the bee’s knees anyway. found via The Enchanted Home100 layer cake grey napkin

Here’s what works here, and why you love it like I do. Flaxen linen alone would be Dullsville, but here it provides the perfect tonal backdrop to gold flatware and a greige napkin. The napkin is simply rolled and fastened with easy-to-snag spiky garden greenery. No fuss, no muss. If you look closely, yes- the white china is embossed with a matelassé texture that adds a little oomph- but other than that, simple + classic + totally works. via 100 Layer Cakewunderweib.de velvet tied napkin

Although we eschew “table trash” at a fête- meaning, anything that you untie that then creates a bunch of crud on the table, this one doesn’t bother me. I love that the lavender velvet ribbon doesn’t perfectly coordinate to the French dishcloth napkin, but rather to the small bunch of (heather? lilac? lavender?) bundled with a fork and knife. Rustic + pretty. via Wunderweibnumber four eleven champagne monogrammed napkin

You can’t go wrong with tone-on-tone. This is my go-to for pillow cases, napkins, sheets, and more. White base, champagne mono? Yes ma’am. This is a Sferra Festival napkin with a Number Four Eleven monogram, secured with a beautiful silver napkin ring. Oh how I wish I had a slew of antique sterling napkin rings- it’s time to start collecting. number four eleven border dinner napkins

These bordered napkins are Number Four Eleven, but I’m really into K Style Design’s versions too. I’m jonesing for one of our Fall clients to pick these style where KSD can border one edge in one thread color, and another in a second color, thus creating this fab effect if folded not in a pocket fold but bunched more grandly and secured with ribbon or a cool napkin ring. Loving the clean + modern + masculine mono here.Taigan Julia B Paris Place Setting

Last but never least, Julia B. for Taigan with her Paris Place Setting. Salt cellar? Check. Round scalloped edge placemat? Check. Fat angular pocket fold? Check. Rusty Hermès-ish colors abounding? Check.