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Southern Weddings

Author: Catherine

To me, Lea-Ann Belter Bridal has always been synonymous with classic, Southern charm, and we sure have featured some lovely Southern Lea-Ann Belter brides here. So imagine my surprise when I finally noticed Lea-Ann is based in Toronto! She could have fooled me, and I know any of her gowns would be perfectly at home at your Southern ceremony.

Today I have a fun treat for you! Lea-Ann herself has answered some of our questions about the origins of her business and her advice to brides! It turns out she and I have the same current favorite from her collection (Patrice: seriously stunning) as well as an affinity for red lipstick. We hope you enjoy learning more in today’s Designer Spotlight!

Tell us about the beginnings of Lea-Ann Belter Bridal—why did you want to start a bridal line, and how did you get started? I always knew my future lay in a creative direction — my sketchpad and pencil were almost never far! Textiles and glass have always fascinated me, so I focused on that love as well as fashion through college. Afterward, I trained with a couturier here in Toronto with whom I further developed my eye for impeccable execution and quality. Around that time, my brother became engaged, and his fiancée asked me to create her wedding gown! In doing so, I found it was the perfect expression of my love of fashion, gorgeous fabric, affinity for timeless style, and talent for meticulous execution. Before I knew it, I had opened my first Toronto bridal boutique and was offering the Lea-Ann Belter Bridal Collection to brides in Canada and the USA through a network of retailers. Over twenty-five years later, I’m grateful to be able to continue doing what I love.
Tell us about what y’all offer to brides and gals. I fervently believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. When I began designing bridal gowns, I wanted the dresses to celebrate that beauty, rather than overwhelm or obscure. It was equally important to me that my dresses were created in a true couture tradition — made by hand of the finest silks and laces I could find. I’m very proud to say that those things all continue to ring true. As a result, Lea-Ann Belter Bridal gowns offer wedding dresses that complement every body type and personality, as well as strike a true balance of contemporary and timeless style.

What sets Lea-Ann Belter apart from other bridal gown brands? We truly make every gown by hand. Each individual gown is cut, sewn, finished, and pressed all within my Toronto atelier. No dress leaves without a thorough looking-over! That couture approach enables us to create bespoke gowns for our brides. Additionally, we don’t have a finite size chart. Lea-Ann Belter gowns are available in all sizes and are completely customizable.
What is your single best tip for a bride about to start shopping for her wedding gown? Keep an open mind. You may think you want to wear a mermaid gown or that you love lots of beading or lace, but if after trying a few that seem to fit the bill you don’t get butterflies, try something new. That V-neck ball gown with the lace at the hem may be the one! Similarly, don’t let perception drive your choice. What others wear, want you to wear, or say is in fashion are completely secondary to pleasing yourself.

What is your current favorite wedding dress in your collection? An impossible question! I really do love them all. However, I do have daily favorites. At this moment, I am loving Patrice, a gown from my Summer in Provence collection. So many beautiful fabrics and textures make up this dress! Also, she reminds me of a particularly delightful afternoon I spent wandering a charming town in Provence while on holiday.
Do you have a favorite Lea-Ann Belter Bridal memory? Oh my…so many great memories! One of my more recent memories is the move to our current location on Broadview in Toronto. I purchased the building in which my flagship boutique and atelier are now housed, and doing so has always been a great dream of mine. Though moving is pretty dreadful, our first full day was such a proud, happy one for me!

What is the single greatest lesson you’ve learned in business? There are definitely many lessons to be learned when you open and run a business. However, one thing that has proved its worth time and time again is integrity. When you do the right thing and stay true to who you (and your brand) are, it’s a very powerful thing. Hand in hand with this is learning to delegate! It is hard in the beginning to justify enlisting help for various things such as accounting, graphic design, or copy writing when you can do them yourself. However, in order to focus on your strengths (design and production, in my case), you can’t also be running around doing taxes, managing the office, writing dress descriptions, and creating advertising images.
Name three items every gal should have in her closet. A pair of fierce boots that make her feel like a warrior, a timeless pencil skirt, and the perfect red lipstick.

Thank you so much, Lea-Ann!

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Written with love by Catherine

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Bride Mandy shares her romantic woodsy wedding!

If you’re looking for design inspiration for your wedding, today’s bride, Mandy, has a couple great places to find it: consider a piece of decor you really love or your relationship itself! She shared, “As an event designer, I’m always drawn to beautiful patterns and textures, so it really never came as a shock that the entire wedding’s inspiration began with one simple, yet beautiful area rug. My ultimate goal was to design our day to be effortless, ethereal, full of patterns & textures, and in the end, dripping with a whole lot of romance that was truly symbolic of our love for each other.”

This wedding, and the bride’s and groom’s heart behind it, are indeed dripping with romance. My favorite part? The wooden boards inscribed with quotes from the couple’s texts, words, and letters to each other throughout their relationship that lined guests’ path to the reception. If that’s not romance, I don’t know what is! See the rest of the jewel-toned rustic goodness in our tenth-anniversary issue, available now!

Big hugs to Renee Hollingshead Photography for these photos!

Chris and I got married at Murray Hill in Leesburg, Virginia on Saturday, June 18, 2016. It was a stunningly beautiful day on a scenic private residence that overlooks the Potomac River. I always imagined my wedding outside, and the lawn beside the home and the boxwood gardens provided the perfect place for that wish. Our reception then took place in the property’s converted llama barn, which features on open-air side and rustic wood detailing. The reason for the date held huge importance to me as it was also my parent’s wedding anniversary, and they celebrated a wonderful 33 years on our wedding day. My father chose to surprise my mother with thirty-three lavender roses, and they were able to share a moment on the dance floor as their first dance song played before dinner.

What was the weather like on your big day? I can honestly say it was perfect. For weeks leading up to the big day, I was seriously on edge. Rain was in the picture, and the forecasters couldn’t quite pinpoint exactly when it would happen. I can remember sitting near a window at dinner with my family on Thursday before our wedding day and watching it rain so hard it was raining sideways. Waking up on Friday and Saturday it was like all of that hadn’t happened and there was only an abundance of sunshine.

I gave the girls a few instructions. The dress had to be chiffon (light and airy), it had to be long, and it needed to be in a set color palette that was a range of cool blues and grays. I wanted my bridesmaids to have some freedom to pick a color or a style that best suited them.

All day while getting ready, all I wanted to do was see my husband. There was an unexplainable anxiety for me – maybe I was just crazy, but it felt wrong to spend any second of our most special day without him. Laura and Renee, our photographer, had done a fantastic job of scoping out the most perfect area on the property for our first look. A heavily wooded slope on the side of the house created such a magical backdrop on such an amazing day. I’ll never forget the feeling that washed over me when I reached the top of the hill and saw Chris (still with his back turned towards me) at the bottom. It was like all the air instantly left my body. He quite simply took my breath away. It hit me like a ton of bricks. This was the moment. This was going to be my forever.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had my sister, my mother, and my father along for the adventure. We started looking in August after the proposal, and I visited Love Couture Bridal on a whim – not quite ready to pick out a dress yet. Two or three dresses in, I tried on the blush Carina Corset and Ahsan Skirt from Watters and fell in love. I knew I wanted to continue to amp up the ethereal quality of the ensemble so I ordered additional tulle fabric and lace too. The seamstress there worked tirelessly over the months leading up to the wedding to fully customize the skirt with hand sewn blush lace appliques that cascaded delicately down the skirt and a dramatic cathedral length tulle train.

Our flower girl, Hadley, stole the show. Moments before walking down the aisle, the two-year-old, red-headed cutie was certainly not feeling it. I was sure she would be escorted by her mother, and I was okay with it. Something changed dramatically as she approached Laura. She straightened up with her dusty blue basket and marched onward, delicately dropping petals as she went. Turns out Hadley got to the end of the aisle and decided to dump all of the remaining petals at the end of the aisle – all I could hear was the roar of the guests from my hiding spot. I couldn’t help but smile. Oddly enough, those laughs calmed my nerves.

My favorite line from my vows to Chris have in a way become a saying for each other, and it just so happened to be the closing words of my vows: “Until forever this will be true. Because there is no one I could ever love, that way that I love you.”

Tell us about your wedding flowers. When I first met with Philippa, I told her my vision for the flowers: organic, lush, and romantic. Peonies and dahlias are my favorite flowers, so I knew I had to use them on our wedding day. I wanted the color palette for the flowers to focus on the ivory, mauve, blush and deep Bordeaux tones and hoped the splash of greenery would provide necessary texture and freshness. Philippa created the ultimate bouquet full of texture, color, and dahlias the size of my head! The organically composed bouquet featured big, beautiful blooms with burgundy peonies, dahlias, astilbe, garden roses, scabiosa, seeded eucalyptus, Italian ruscus, and umbrella fern. It was finished with long trailing hand-dyed silk ribbons cut to varying lengths in a variety of widths and shades of indigo, dusty blue, pale gray, deep merlot, and soft pink.

After cocktails, guests were encouraged to make their way through the wooded grounds to the barn for dinner. Along the pathway, Syzygy created beautiful wooden signs that featured quotes from text messages, letters and cards exchanged between Chris and me.

If you had to ask me what my favorite tangible item or décor piece was from the day, it would be rather difficult, but I know I swooned over the custom printed fabric panels Chris made for us. With the generosity of his mother and the company, he worked tirelessly to print for me my every whim. The botanical print really brought the barn to life. It was feminine and slightly whimsical but also the perfect bit of elegance with its colorful array of deep blues and splashes of burgundy. They were so beautiful.

In keeping with the rest of the day’s design, I wanted everything to read romantic and a little bit eclectic so the floral pattern used on the ceiling and dance floor became the starting point in the design of the space. It was the perfect blank canvas – concrete floors and a wooden beamed ceiling. I knew I had to add several layers and textures to soften the space and keep it cozy and personal to both Chris and me.

Our head table was composed of custom-made wooden chevron tables and was dressed with a lush runner of florals, greenery and colored pillar candles in burgundy and blush pink. Chris took the time to decal every charger with the name of our bridal party guests to serve as place cards at the table. Chris and I sat in beautiful hooded dome chairs that were further dressed with cascading flowers on top.

Ridgewells Catering provided a beautiful cake for our wedding day – a partially naked cake that was lightly frosted and dressed with coordinating flowers. We had a hard time choosing a flavor but landed on a delicious blueberry key lime with lemon genoise cake, fresh blueberries, key lime custard and vanilla buttercream.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. They say that our eyes are the windows into our souls. And when I first laid my big blue eyes on Chris, I instantly knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with his soft-spoken, caring, and extremely loving soul. I certainly never expected that while interviewing for a position at Syzygy Events (as my mother-in-law’s assistant!) that I’d eventually gain my soulmate. A few months into my job, shameless and innocent flirting led to a strong desire and necessity for more. Saying goodbye at the end of every long work day meant I had to spend time away from him. So dating ensued, and eventually, I knew I couldn’t picture my life without Chris in it. He means everything to me. After the fact, I learned the truth – Chris had told his mother as I left my interview that I was the woman he was going to marry. He knew that just from meeting me, so as you can imagine, we are big believers in love at first sight.
Describe the proposal! Early December of 2014, Chris told me that he booked us a special DC “getaway” to celebrate another successful busy season at work. It was a week or so before Christmas, and I wasn’t going to turn down some relaxation with him. We pulled up to the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown and I was instantly on edge – it seemed too good to be true. I opened the door and I’m standing in the Presidential Suite (I mean, Oprah had stayed in this suite!) – the room was dim but flooded with the warm glow of candlelight everywhere. Petals dressed the floor leading through the large suite directly to the bedroom where soft metallic balloons fully enclosed the ceiling. I had just enough time to notice the blinking red light of a video recorder when I realized I was on film; I turned around to see my husband on one knee! I couldn’t tell you what he said, but all I remember was saying yes before even seeing the ring.
How many guests attended your wedding? 120.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? I certainly struggled with learning when to let go! I had to be fully involved at every moment, and I felt an immense amount of pressure to have the “perfect” day because I work in this industry, but my planner, Laura Ritchie, was an angel. She is truly amazing at what she does and she always made sure I was seeing what was really important about the day- Chris and me. Saturday morning came and the stress had all washed away. I only remember how beautiful the day was and the happiness in my husband’s eyes.
What were some of the highlights of the reception? I think my dad delivered a great speech to welcome all our guests and begin the reception. And shortly after he completed his speech, he surprised my mother with thirty-three lavender roses in honor of my parent’s wedding anniversary. I made sure to ask for their first dance song at that moment and it was a beautiful moment seeing my parents share the spotlight for a dance together. There love is certainly one that I admire immensely and it was very touching to witness so much love in one perfect day.
What was the funniest moment? At one point on the dance floor, we had Chris’s uncle and his son both on the dance floor. Both were doing their generation’s version of the dance known as “the running man” and for some reason, I couldn’t get enough of it. It was that or turning around and seeing my father on his back on the dance floor doing the “dead bug” during the song, “Shout”.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Be true to yourself. It’s easy to get carried away in what you think other people will think, but at the end of the day, all that matters is you and your spouse. It’s YOUR day. That and don’t blink, because just like everyone else says, it will be gone in a blink of an eye. To this day, I wish I could relive every emotion from the day – it was an unbelievable ride and a day filled with so much love and happiness. Soak it in.

Photographer: Renee Hollingshead Photography | Videographer: Mwendo Weddings | Planner: Laure Ritchie of Grit and Grace | Designer: Amanda Autry of Syzygy Events International | Venue: Murray Hill | Florals: Philippa Tarrant Floral Design | Catering and desserts: Ridgewells Catering | Bride’s gown: “Carina” Corset and “Ahsan” Skirt by Watters | Bridal salon: Love Couture Bridal | Bride’s shoes: Oscar de la Renta | Bride’s accessories: Thomas Knoell Designs | Hair and makeup: Hair and Makeup Artistry by Claudine | Men’s fashion: Men’s Wearhouse | Paper goods: Butler’s Pantry Calligraphy | Rentals: Syzygy Events International | Party Rental Ltd. and DC Rental | Linens: La Tavola Linen | Transportation: Limousines, Inc. | Lighting: Digital Lightning | Officiant: Leora Motley | DJ: Dan Huynh via Premier DJ Services | Host hotel: Lansdowne Resort | Bride’s robe: Girl with a Serious Dream | Bridesmaids’ robes: Plum Pretty Sugar and the Heart Collective

Written with love by Catherine

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Bride Lindsey shares her daytime wedding in the Old Village of Mount Pleasant.

Today’s wedding is so darling it seems too good to be true, like something straight out of a Hallmark movie. A wedding planner living in the Old Village of Mount Pleasant has her meet-cute with the boy next door when they keep bumping into each other at their mailboxes. A few shy waves and potentially-planned escapes by her dog later, he finally asks her out on a first date at the dog park off the coast of Charleston. They are inseparable, enjoying dates on the patio of the Old Village Post House Inn in the neighborhood where they fell in love. So one Christmas when her family is all gathered around for a toast, she reveals her new sparkly engagement ring at the perfect moment. In a whirlwind five-month engagement, the bride plans an old-fashioned wedding with the help of her sister, a custom paper goods designer. The couple is married on a June morning in their local little white church and the whole party processes the two blocks to celebrate at one of their favorite spots, the Old Village Post House Inn, of course!

I’m so excited for you to hear the rest of the details from Lindsey, who also shared what’s next for them as a couple: “learning our way around marriage, getting a larger crop from our tomato plant and garden, and continued adventures.” Cut to the final scene of newlywed bliss and hijinks in their garden by the sea…

Thank you to Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay for sending this charmer our way!

To me, I think the event and overall style was perfectly conveyed in the very first piece: the invitations! My sister and I designed the invitations together (yes, a professional planner and stationery designer sister duo). First, we created the monogram. We combined vintage letters and details of custom heraldry that I love so much with inspiration from a 1920’s store sign I saw once. Keeping that one tone helped it stay somewhat light, despite the elaborate lines. The letterpress suite was perfectly stacked to reveal the transition of colors from blue, lavender, and then a light mauve. The invitation also had our custom logo/monogram on the back.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. The criteria I had going into the process was something not entirely white, some interesting detail, nothing strapless that I would tug on, and lighter material for the time of year. My rule of thumb was to allow anyone who accompanied me to the appointment one dress to suggest. I think that helped me get more comfortable with different styles. When I finally put the dress on, it had an elegant structure, hints of romance and whimsy, champagne coloring, and intricate cotton lace details with sleeves. It was so beautiful!

Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. My thought was to stay in the cool tones of the color palette, but give them range to find what they felt most comfortable in. Nerd alert…I sent a survey monkey to have them rank the colors in order of what they wanted to wear to make sure everyone was happy!

Who was one of the most special guests at your wedding? My 92-year-old grandmother traveled for two days from a small town in Kansas to get to Charleston. For the wedding, she wore her actual wedding dress, which is 69 years old this year! She and my grandfather were an exceptional example of love and marriage. When he passed, they had been married 63 years.

Tell us about your wedding flowers. June is amazing for floral! I love a lot of texture and a mix of different shapes, sizes, and color. When Lisa and Kaitlyn and I met to talk through everything, they not only understood my vision, but encouraged all the vibrant and unique touches. My bouquet was a lush romantic loose floral and soft greenery slightly cascading. It included white parrot tulips, blush peonies, jasmine, lavender lilac and sweet peas, caramel and peach garden roses, ranunculus, white clematis, queen Anne’s lace, mock orange, tuberose, green hellebores, California bay, jasmine vine, sage, and seeded eucalyptus. It was wrapped with a silk ribbon in sky blue.

Originally from Texas, I never thought I would end up with a Cowboy outside of Dallas, but got very lucky. My gift to Mark was a pair of black ostrich Luchese boots, which he loved enough to wear that day.

What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? Mark and I both lost our fathers in during our college years and unbeknownst to the two of us until later, we had booked our wedding date over Father’s Day weekend. It felt like they were a part of the day. Walking in with Robert was also very important. To ask him to walk me down the aisle in place of my father meant a lot to him and I can’t think of anyone who is more admirable and supportive. He is like a brother and I am incredibly proud of his character. Walking in the church and seeing Mark for the first time was the perfect mix of nerves, adulation, and ease.

Having a daytime wedding first came into play during initial thoughts on overall spending. Just as I tell my clients, you must strike a balance between your most important aspects and places you can bend. In our case, the time worked a little better for the Post House, being that it was a restaurant and could reopen later in the night. Once that idea had time to steep, I really loved it! The process from there was very organic. A June daytime wedding meant a lighter dress material, simplified menu, relaxed bar, and great varieties in floral.

Tell us about a date you’ll always remember. I distinctly remember a dinner on the patio at the Old Village Post House early into dating when I knew this meant something very special just by the way he talked with such confidence.

One of my favorite parts of a wedding is the passed hors d’oeuvres. They can be playful and imaginative, and I tend to think people enjoy the delicate approach of a quick bite that keeps them engaged in their conversation. We had two-three passed every hour at the reception, and they were progressive from cold to hot, and then savory to sweet. Every item we chose was either something we enjoy a couple, have experienced on trips, or a family favorite ingredient reimagined.

Our reception was immediately following at Old Village Post House & Inn, in the Old Village of Mount Pleasant. The house itself has three stories. The first two floors have seven separate mixed-use spaces for dining, bar and outdoor seating, and the top has inn rooms. Designing each room with different colors, chairs, linens, and floral compositions was such a treat. The house itself has a coastal, somewhat masculine feel, so the additional layers were extremely soft and feminine.

What was the design inspiration for your wedding? I was so happy with the way the colors conveyed the energy and feel for the day. I stumbled on a photo of Tono and Co. Ribbon that was a full color pinwheel of gathered silk samples. The pastel-based colors of cream, honey, champagne, blush rose, and mauve, then to emerald, seafoam, stone, and finally sea and sky blue. I just kept going back to it! I love vintage details and antique finds. I also love so many elements of the floral botanicals, but had to find a way to keep light and airy.

Tell us your story. As cliché as this will sound, Mark and I met at the mailbox, so I truly ended up with the boy next door. It began with a few casual waves from the car, my dog “accidently escaping” to say hello, and questions on plans for the weekend with carefully calculated responses. It took him about a month or so to ask me out on a “dog park date” in the old village.
Describe the proposal. We got engaged right before Christmas. I was tucked away upstairs wrapping, and then heard him knock. When I opened the door, he was on one knee. I’m certain I blacked out and then immediately kept asking if he was sure. I finally said yes, and then we kept that night for just the two of us. No texts or calls. My family flew into town the next day. Once everyone was gathered, I secretly left the room just long enough to put the ring on, and we had a holiday toast that ended in a few screams and happy tears! Perfect holiday week!
Tell us about your beautiful engagement ring. It was a total surprise to me, and I absolutely love it! It’s a classic round setting, four-prong brilliant cut center diamond and a thin yellow gold band with pave stones on the sides. It is has a delicate feel in the band that perfectly accents the diamond. I feel beautiful when I wear it, even in a t-shirt and jeans!
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? We did premarital counseling with our church and read “The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller.
How many guests attended your wedding? 175
How did you spend the morning before your ceremony? With an 11am ceremony, you don’t have much time to sit and ponder! I spent the night at the Inn with my family, and it was a rise and shine early kind of morning! My hair and makeup was done by Ashley of Ash & Co, who is extremely talented and a truly trusted friend. She tucked me in a quiet room with coffee, my sister brought me a chicken biscuit (of course) and we just had tunes to keeping everything calm . I loved that time feeling not chaotic, but familiar.
Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. For the readings, instead of choosing verses specifically about marriage, I chose verses that were meaningful to me throughout my faith. They are a guide to all our lives, that would in turn, help our marriage.
What was Southern about your wedding? Being Southern to me is about being family-oriented and grounded in traditions, opting for the relaxed and real, and staying grateful. I’d like to think we did our best to accomplish those things in the wedding weekend with a little glimpse into a unique part of history in a city we love.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Keep perspective on what this is all about. How lucky to marry your best friend?! After that, the rest is just extra.

Planning and Design: A Charleston Bride | Photography: Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay | Videographer: Life in Rewind | Calligraphy and Paper Goods: Sweet Magnolia Paper | Custom Paper Liner: Arabella June | Vintage Stamps: Etsy | Ceremony Venue: Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church | Reception Venue and Caterer: Old Village Post House & Inn | Florals: Out of the Garden | Wedding Cake: Ashley Brown Cake Design | Ribbons: Tono & Co. | Welcome Baskets: A Signature Welcome | Bride’s Gown: “Fox Gown” by Rue de Seine | Bride’s Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Bride’s Veil: Kelly’s Closet | Bride’s Jewelry: Hyla Dewitt | Groom’s Tux: Tom James | Groom’s Cowboy Boots: Lucchese | Music: Ear for Music | Rentals: Ooh! Events, Snyder, and Pressed Fine Linens | Hair and Makeup: Ash & Co. and Charlotte Belk | Getaway Car: Carolina Executive

Written with love by Catherine
1 Comment
  1. avatar Maria Eero reply

    A lovely story. Congartulations on your marriage! The details are beautiful and everything looks great. I love the Post House Inn. Very southern indeed.

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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