For Chesne, who grew up in Atlanta, getting married at the Swan House had always been her dream. Like any good Southern girl, she knew that it would be too hot for an outdoor wedding after May (and fall is for football!), so she and Raul were thrilled to be able to secure a May 7th wedding date at her dream venue! The beautiful historic home not only served as a stunning backdrop for their ceremony, but as inspiration for their entire celebration. The team at Amy Osaba Design created florals that had an organic, romantic, and “a bit wild” feel that were the perfect complement to both the mansion and Chesne’s Carol Hannah gown. Chesne and Raul also worked with Candice of Chancey Charm Weddings to create a wedding day that was a tribute to their life together in the South–a South that, to them, is “hospitable, romantic, delicious, fun, and in full bloom.” What a beautiful sentiment!
I found my dress at The Sentimentalist in Atlanta. I went with my mom and two of my bridesmaids, and it was our second stop of the day. I was having a hard time making a decision between two Carol Hannah dresses because I liked the top on one, but loved the skirt on the other. The Sentimentalist actually has a great relationship with the designer, and I was very fortunate because they were able to request a custom design that combined the two dresses that I loved!
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use Amy Osaba Design for our flowers. I love how their arrangements are really loose and organic, and all of their work feels so romantic. We scheduled an appointment and met with Mary McLeod, who is one of their main designers. I had so much fun at our appointment–it was definitely one of the highlights of the planning process! When I met with Mary, I didn’t want to give too much direction on the bouquet, and we instead talked about the overall feel. I wanted the feel to be loose, romantic, and a bit wild, but didn’t specify any particular flower. I really loved how Mary used both greenery and flowers in our color palette, but my favorite detail was the beautiful ribbons that she used to tie it all together.
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? My favorite moment from our wedding day was our first look. I am so thankful that we did a first look before the ceremony and were able to experience that emotion in an intimate setting. Raul and I both cried, and it was so incredibly special. The moment felt really special and intimate, and we were really able to enjoy all of the emotions that we were feeling on that day. It also helped with the timeline after the ceremony and allowed us to go straight into the party!
Growing up in Atlanta, the Swan House was always my dream venue and we really didn’t consider any other locations. We also knew that we would have to get married in the spring–an outdoor wedding in Atlanta would be too hot after May, and fall is for football. We booked the Swan House for May 7, and everything else stemmed from that. The house served as a constant source of inspiration throughout the planning process and was the most stunning backdrop for the ceremony.
Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. What part was most special to you? Did you include any special readings? Our ceremony was on the lawn of the Swan House, and the home served as the most beautiful backdrop for our big day. My dad and I were hidden inside while the guests were seated, and I will never forget the moment that the doors finally opened and we walked down the steps together.
What songs did you use for your ceremony? My favorite song is “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John and I knew that I wanted to incorporate it into our big day somehow. We had a four-string band for our ceremony, so we had them do an instrumental version for my entrance. It was such a unique touch that brought a personal element to our ceremony.
Did you include any Southern traditions in your wedding? Our ceremony and cocktail hour were outside at the Swan House and we wanted to take no chances when it came to the weather. The Swan House is a historic site and we were not allowed to bury a bottle of bourbon on-site, so naturally, we snuck in to do it anyways. On April 7 at 5:30 P.M. (exactly one month before the ceremony), we secretly buried a bottle of Four Roses and prayed for a sunny day. We also included mini bottles of Four Roses in our welcome boxes to include our guests in the tradition. The big day went off without a hitch–not a cloud in the sky!
Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? We had an outdoor cocktail hour in the Boxwood Gardens adjacent to the Swan House. The string quartet continued to play and hors d’oeuvres were passed. Something we love about the South is tailgating, and although our cocktail hour was far from a football tailgate, it had many of the same elements, including perfect weather, Georgia pines, great food and music, and even koozies we had designed especially for the occasion.
What kind of food did you serve at your reception? We are big foodies and knew from the beginning that one of the things we cared about the most was the food. We used Sun in My Belly, a local restaurant, as our caterer and they did an amazing job! Dinner began with a panzanella salad with heirloom tomatoes and cornbread croutons. Guests then chose between two entrees: miso glazed salmon with a blueberry compote, or juniper and fig roasted pork tenderloin. We also served two very Southern sides of collard greens and roasted cauliflower.
What were some of the highlights of the reception? I think one of the highlights for our guests was the late night Chick-fil-A that we brought in towards the end of the evening. It was the perfect treat after a night of dancing!
Our favorite detail was the cake table. We couldn’t decide on a favorite flavor at our tasting, so we decided to do three different cakes! The main cake was vanilla cream, but we also had a lemon buttercream cake and a rose cake with coconut buttercream frosting and a blueberry jam filling. The exteriors of the cake were pink ombre that matched perfectly with the décor, and our florist added greenery to all three. They were displayed on a big farm table and we absolutely loved the presentation.
Tell us about your grand exit. We had our last dance to “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles. It was the perfect end to our Southern affair! We then went straight to our exit, but had to get creative about how to do it because the Atlanta History Center is a historical site and was pretty strict about what they would allow. We ended up passing out a mixture of eco-friendly confetti and rose petals for guests to toss as we made our way to the car.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met while working at the Abercrombie & Fitch headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. We both worked in merchandising for sweaters and sat a table away from each other, but didn’t really get to know each other until after a year of working on the same team. At 3 A.M., following an evening at a favorite rooftop bar with mutual friends, we ended up going to Waffle House and chatting for hours about our families, childhoods, and our likes and dislikes. I knew that this was something special after that very first night.
Describe the proposal: From Raul: After three years of dating, we flew to New York from Atlanta to repeat our Belmont weekend date for the third time. We both love the city and our frequent trips there had become an integral component of our relationship, so there was no doubt that that’s where we would get engaged. We stayed at the beautiful Nomad Hotel and planned each day to incorporate all of our favorite things. Of course, there was the Belmont (where this time, we saw a Triple Crown win!), and meals at L’Artusi’s, Gramercy Park Tavern, and our favorite sandwiches from the Birdbath Café. Finally, on Sunday night, we headed to Cobble Hill for drinks and a walk through the park. On a romantic stroll to Lucali’s, we took a detour down a street we’d never walked before. On the front steps of a stranger’s beautiful brownstone at 204 Union Street in Brooklyn, we got engaged and celebrated down the block with our favorite meal.
How many guests attended your wedding? 200
What is the one thing that made your wedding different from anyone else’s wedding? The thing that set our wedding apart was definitely our venue. The Swan House was built in 1928 for the Inman family, and it’s one of Atlanta’s most recognizable landmarks. I still can’t believe that we were lucky enough to get married at such a stunning place.
What was Southern about your wedding? Many of our guests were visiting Atlanta (or at least, seeing the city through our eyes) for the first time, and we wanted to celebrate and share with our family and friends all of the wonderful times we’ve had here. Our wedding was a tribute to our life together in the South–a South free from caricature or pretense, a South that is hospitable, romantic, delicious, fun, and in full bloom. Beginning with our welcome boxes, which featured peaches, bottles of Coke, copies of Garden and Gun, and other Southern touches, and ending with the late night Chick-fil-A, our wedding was Southern through and through. Our focus was the food (because we love to eat!), and our Southern fare was a big hit on the wedding day. During cocktail hour, fried green tomatoes, mini corn muffins with Carolina pulled pork, and spicy pimento cheese were served. For our seated meal, we had green goddess salad and pork tenderloin with collard greens. From the massive Georgia pines surrounding the Swan House to our favorite country tunes, our wedding embodied the best of Atlanta and the South that we love.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Raul is starting business school at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, so we just moved to Evanston, Illinois. We’re so excited for this next chapter in our lives and are happy to be living right outside of Chicago.
Photographer: Anna Shackleford | Videographer: Iron Kite Films | Planner: Candice Lorraine of Chancey Charm Weddings | Ceremony Venue: The Swan House at the Atlanta History Center | Reception Venue: The Grand Overlook Ballroom at the Atlanta History Center | Florals: Mary McLeod of Amy Osaba Design | Caterer and Linens: Sun in My Belly | Wedding Cakes: Sugar & Slate | Bride’s Gown: Carol Hannah | Bridal Salon: The Sentimentalist | Bride’s Shoes: “Candance” by Badgley Mischka | Bride’s Jewelry: Jenny Packham | Bride’s Veil: Sky Mist Veil by BHLDN | Bridesmaid Dresses: “Cecilia” in Blush by Jenny Yoo | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Claudia Mejerle | Men’s Fashion: The Modern Gent | Paper Goods: Chelsea Petaja | Wooden Signage: Katie Davis Creative | Rentals: Crush Event Rentals and Goodwin Events | Favors: Pine + Pen Design
Anna Shackleford Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory and Chancey Charm is a wonderful Southern Weddings sponsor!