Our February Southern Bride of the Month is squeaking in just under the wire! I know y’all will love Jen, and will enjoy as much as I did reading about some of the smart planning decisions she and Nick have made. (I especially liked their plan for setting priorities — see below!) Let’s give this lady a warm welcome!
Hi! What’s your name?
What’s your fiancé’s name?
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
We met during our freshman year of college at Vanderbilt University. My close friend from home joined the same fraternity as Nick. When I stopped by to hang out with him, Nick always seemed to catch my eye. We went on our first date the day before school started our sophomore year, and the rest was history. Our introduction has become even more meaningful, as that friend will be serving as Nick’s best man at our wedding!
When’s the big day?
June 22, 2013 – four months to go! I always knew I wanted a summer wedding since my favorite flowers are hydrangeas, and I wanted them to be beautiful and in season for my wedding!
Blue hydrangea inspiration from Brian Kraft and Martha Stewart Weddings
Where might you two be tying the knot?
We are having both the ceremony and the reception at The St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta.
How did you pick your ceremony and reception venues? What do you love most about each space?
Nick and I have celebrated many special occasions at The St. Regis over the past few years, so the venue was already meaningful to us. We knew we wanted to have the ceremony and reception at the same location and wanted to keep things indoors to spare our guests from the brutal Atlanta heat. The St Regis was the first venue we visited after we got engaged, and while we considered a few others, we concluded rather quickly that the elegance of the St. Regis would be the perfect backdrop for our wedding!
The gorgeous lobby of the St. Regis Atlanta!
Tell us a little bit about the wedding you’re planning: style, theme, feel, colors?
I’ve always wanted a black tie wedding, so I knew the style and theme would need to feel very formal and sophisticated. At the same time, I want to give everything a contemporary edge. I love the color blue, so we have looked for ways to incorporate that with French blue bridesmaid dresses, navy ink for our invitations, blue hydrangeas for bridesmaid bouquets, and blue lighting for the reception. We also loved the idea of having our wedding ceremony in a dimly lit ballroom surrounded by candles to make the event feel very special and intimate!
Ceremony inspiration via Wedding Style
Who or what has been most helpful and/or inspiring in the wedding planning process?
I am very lucky to have my Mom in Atlanta with me to help with a lot of the details. She has an amazing ability to keep me focused on my vision when I get indecisive. My mom also was smart enough to hire us a wedding planner right away, and Lindsay Pitt of Toast has been very helpful with navigating and refining my hundreds of ideas. I am also very lucky to have eight wonderful bridesmaids, several of which recently got married and have been a huge help by sharing advice they learned from their big day.
What part of wedding planning, if any, has made you the most anxious?
We are so excited to see all of our guests during the wedding weekend, so we are trying to allow for as much time as possible with our friends and family. When we started working on the timeline for the weekend, we realized how quickly the whole day, and especially the evening, will go by, and we were worried we wouldn’t have a chance to talk to every guest. To try and alleviate some of that anxiety, we decided to try and get all of our guests together after the rehearsal dinner to celebrate the wedding weekend prior to the big day! We are also considering doing a first look so we can join the cocktail hour and start celebrating with all of the people who are so important to us as soon as possible!
What wedding-related decision have you been the most indecisive on?
Definitely the invitations! I always knew I wanted to do a calligraphy letterpress invitation, but I have been very indecisive regarding whether to stick with a traditional style or to incorporate some more modern elements. We are working with hi note for all our stationery and they have been fabulous at listening to our ideas and turning them into actual concepts, not to mention that they have been very patient with me considering I’ve changed my mind at least ten times! I am still going back and forth on this part, but have to make a decision pretty soon.
Calligraphy invitation inspiration from Bella Figura
Which part of your wedding have you been most intentional about planning?
Probably the most important aspect of a wedding, to us, and the one that we’re most excited about for our own wedding, is the food. We want the food to match the formality of the event, but also want it to be fun and to showcase some Southern ingredients. It was also important to us that the rehearsal dinner menu complement, but not duplicate, the wedding menu. We’ve worked very closely with the chefs at these venues to create menus that we are truly excited about.
Dressed-up Southern comfort food inspiration from Whitney + Clarke’s wedding (photo by Patricia Lyons)
Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go? What will you be wearing on the big day?
Yes! I ordered it back in July and it should come in sometime in the next few weeks. I worked with Susan at Joan Pillow, who made the process as stress-free as possible despite how difficult a decision this was for me. I had always dreamed of wearing a Monique Lhuillier gown, so I went in to Joan Pillow right after we got engaged and thought I had found “the one”. Lucky for me, there was a Monique trunk show a few weeks later, so I went back to order it, but I ended up falling in love with a different gown from the new collection! It is the complete opposite of the gown I was planning to order the first day. I ended up ordering the gown from the trunk show and can’t wait for it to arrive in a few weeks, as I know that will make this all feel very real!
What do you love most about Southern weddings?
I have always admired the way a big Southern wedding can still feel intimate and personalized. While I always knew I wanted a big black tie affair, it was also important that the whole event reflected our personalities and that each guest would walk away knowing we were involved in every detail of the night. I think Southern weddings feel very special because Southern brides pay a lot of attention to the details, especially the delicious Southern food they usually serve their guests!
Tell us about planning with your fiancé. Has it gone smoothly? Is he more involved, or hands-off?
Nick has been very hands on and has made efforts to attend every wedding-related meeting, even if just for the support. Nick has also contributed some great ideas of his own, including an incredible idea for a way to personalize our cocktail hour. It will be a very fun surprise for our guests and make our cocktail hour very unique! I feel incredibly fortunate to have a fiancé who is involved and brings a different perspective than I have to every decision.
Reception table and lighting inspiration from The Studio B Photography and Ira Lippke Studios
What do you wish you would have known at the beginning of your engagement?
When we first got engaged, we focused on the venue and the photographer right away. We saved the band for later, and I wished I had known how quickly great bands can book up. We have a fabulous band, Simply Irresistible, but I wish we had booked them right away and avoided all of that stress!
What are you most looking forward to on your wedding day?
I know this sounds a bit cheesy, but more than anything, I’m looking forward to getting married! I think it’s important to remember that a wedding and a marriage are two different things. While I’m ecstatic about the wedding we have planned, in the end, a wedding is just a fabulous party. What I am most excited for are the vows that we will say to each other on that day, and the fact that I will have my best friend by my side for whatever life throws at me – the good and the bad. We’re incredibly lucky that both sets of our parents have been married for over 30 years, so we have great role models for a successful marriage!
Any plans for a honeymoon? Where do you want to go and what will you do?
This is one of the most exciting parts, since Nick and I LOVE to travel! We’ll be spending our honeymoon in the Seychelles, with a few days in Dubai on the way back. A few weeks after we got engaged, Nick took me out to dinner and presented me with a slideshow on his iPad for two different honeymoon itineraries. I decided that Seychelles and Dubai was the combination I was least likely to visit outside of a honeymoon. We are so excited to relax at a gorgeous hilltop resort and spend a week hopping around to all the islands to visit beaches, scuba dive, and enjoy delicious food!
Any advice you’d like to pass along to fellow brides?
At the beginning of our wedding planning, we all sat down and discussed what was most important to us. I wanted to make sure that Nick, my parents, and I all had the “final say” in the area of the wedding that was the most important to each of us. For Nick, that was the food, for my mom it was the calligraphy, invitations and desserts. For my dad it was the band, and for me it was the flowers and décor. It’s been nice to have set these priorities early and to have someone “in charge” of making the decisions for each of these categories.
Now it’s your turn to ask for advice – is there anything you’d like to poll the SW readers on?
Yes! We are really debating doing a first look. Nick and I both want to show respect for some of those “wedding traditions,” such as that moment when the doors open and the bride and groom see each other for the first time. However, the idea of a first look is starting to sound more appealing – we would have a chance to take beautiful photos next door to the St. Regis at the gardens at the Atlanta History Center, and more importantly, we could join cocktail hour and spend more time with our guests. What should we do? Is it more important to preserve that special tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony and capture that moment around our friends and family, or should we have that moment in private and get the opportunity to take gorgeous photos outside and then have more time with our guests later? Help!
Thank you so much for joining us today, Jen! Readers, if you’d like to apply to be a Southern Bride of the Month, check out this post for all the details! If you’ve already emailed me, you’re still in the running for future months!