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One of the most exciting parts of wedding planning — shopping for your gown!! — can also be one of the most stressful. (This from the girl who broke down in tears after her second appointment… embarrassing but true! That’s a story for another day.) We’re all about helping you reduce the wedding planning stress and up the fun as much as possible, which is where smart planning ahead of time comes in.

As you decide which bridal salons to visit, of course you want to consider their reputation (are they known for being pushy? Intuitive? Kind?), but another thing to consider is whether they carry designers whose lines match your aesthetic. Most boutiques include a list of their designers on their websites, but if you aren’t familiar with the lines, you’re probably still stumped.

Today, the ladies of Twirl Boutique in Lexington, one of our favorite bridal boutiques in the South, are here to give us a brief glossary of bridal designers broken down by bridal aesthetic. Take note of the designers that most closely mirror your style, and get ready to try on some perfectly “you” dresses – hopefully with only happy tears along the way!

Graham Terhune, Cheyenne Schultz, Erin Wilson, Clark Brewer

Who you are: The bohemian bride
What’s your style: You have a whimsical aesthetic and are planning a wedding with market lights, a lush, green bouquet, and a view of the mountains.
Designers you should consider: Claire Pettibone, Watters, Ivy & Aster, Sarah Seven, Christos, and Hello Darling by Heidi Elnora
Take a look at: “Sunny Darling” by Heidi Elnora

Conrhod Zonio, Mustard Seed Photography, Abby Jiu, Bamber Photography

Who you are: The city chic bride
What’s your style: You love clean lines, minimalism, rooftop receptions, and pops of bold accents that make a statement.
Designers you should consider: Hayley Paige, Amsale, Christos, Lela Rose, Anne Barge, and Ines Di Santo
Take a look at: “Ryland” by Anne Barge Blue Willow

Kate Headley, Kristen Kilpatrick, Amy Arrington, Sawyer Baird

Who you are: The elegant bride
What’s your style: You’re planning a black tie wedding, of course, and you love your groom in a white dinner jacket. You feel most at home twirling under a ballroom chandelier or in the middle of a black and white dance floor.
Designers you should consider: Justin Alexander, Monique Lhuillier, Pronovias, Romona Keveza, Lazaro, Carolina Herrera, Anne Barge, Hayley Paige, and Ines Di Santo
Take a look at: “Londyn” by Hayley Paige

Eric Kelley, Melanie Gabrielle, Lexie Bush, Amy Arrington

Who you are: The classic Southern bride
What’s your style: You’ll carry your grandmother’s hanky wrapped around your magnolia bouquet down the aisle, with pearl studs in your ears and a glass full of sweet tea waiting for you at your reception.
Designers you should consider: Stella York, Heidi Elnora, Modern Trousseau, David’s Bridal, Anne Barge, Lela Rose, and Monique Lhuillier
Take a look at: “Lacey Williams” by Heidi Elnora

Landon Jacob, Natalie Watson, Rachel Red, Natalie Watson

Who you are: The beach bride
What’s your style: You only truly exhale when you’re beside the ocean with sand in your toes. You’re planning to celebrate with a small circle of your favorite people at a colorful rental property in August.
Designers you should consider: Watters, Sarah Seven, Stella York, David’s Bridal, Amsale, Christos, and Ivy & Aster
Take a look at: “Amanda” by Amsale Nouvelle

Chris Isham, Becca Lea, Sam Stroud, Landon Jacob

Who you are: The farmer’s daughter bride
What’s your style: You address a group of friends as “y’all,” love a vintage pick-up truck with a bed full of flowers, and will seat your guests on hay bales underneath a sweeping oak tree.
Designers you should consider: Stella York, Heidi Elnora, David’s Bridal, Modern Trousseau, and Anne Barge
Take a look at: “6124” by Stella York

Jennifer Stuart, Jodi Miller, Olivia Griffin, Greer Gattuso

Who you are: The Ava Gardner bride
What’s your style: Born in the wrong decade, you’ve mastered the sleek chignon, prefer champagne for all occasions, and can’t resist the dance floor if Ella Fitzgerald is playing. You’ll rock a swipe of red lipstick on your big day.
Designers you should consider: Claire Pettibone, Justin Alexander, Pronovias, Lazaro, and Ines Di Santo
Take a look at: “8726” by Justin Alexander

We couldn’t think of a better place to start your dress search than Twirl Boutique in Lexington, Kentucky. Ty, Liz, and the rest of their sweet staff are dedicated to finding you the perfect dress and delivering a fantastic experience right alongside it! Twirl carries Stella York, Justin Alexandar, Hayley Paige and Blush by Hayley Paige, Hello Darling and Build a Bride by Heidi Elnora, Nouvelle Amsale, and Blue Willow by Anne Barge. Find out more on their site!

This post is sponsored by Twirl Boutique, a Southern bridal salon we’ve loved for years. Thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Formalshop reply

    This is helpful for the green hands who are looking for wedding gown, thanks

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We often talk about how much we love it when couples pull inspiration from their own stories for their wedding designs, and Mary Beth and Nicholas are a perfect example! Mary Beth said she wanted their evening to feel lush and elegant, like a “black tie version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” They filled the Oxmoor Estate and Gardens with white flowers and lots of greenery, and even had a hanging garden hovering above their dance floor! But the true inspiration for their verdure reception stems from their proposal, where Nicholas jokingly used a blade in place of a ring! By mixing various grasses into the design, they created a dreamy reception with heartfelt meaning. It was the best of both worlds!

Thanks to Bella Grace Studios for sharing Mary Beth and Nicholas’ wedding day with us in our last print issue!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? After trying on about 100 dresses (no joke!), I finally found a custom gown at Jin Wang’s studio in San Francisco that I loved. Jin started telling me about the creative process for a custom gown right then, and I was sold. We worked on it together for the better part of a year; it’s such an intense process, but totally worth it as I was so thrilled with the final product. The front of the gown was very simple and the back was accented with gorgeous, ethereal organza details and a long train. The back of the gown was definitely my favorite part!

Since we got married outside at a gorgeous estate with beautiful gardens, I really wanted to keep our flowers simple, but elegant. My planner chose gorgeous blooms in whites and greens. I carried a bouquet composed of white peonies, David Austin garden roses, stock, hydrangeas, and astilbe. The blooms were held together by lace from my mother’s wedding dress and an Italian handkerchief she had given me that morning. Each bridesmaid carried a unique mono-floral grouping of blooms ranging from hydrangeas, stock, peonies, roses, tulips, and calla lilies. I loved this detail, as I think it really complemented the various dresses the girls chose.

Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? Having such a large bridal party, I wanted to keep everything simple and soft so that the colors from the garden would really pop, so I asked each of my 13 bridesmaids to choose their own dress in any shade of nude. Designers ranged from Carven to Reformation to La Perla to Stone Cold Fox, among others, and the final product was flawless.
What did the groom and groomsmen wear? Since our wedding was black tie, all 13 of our groomsmen wore classic black tuxedos. Nick wanted to stand out, however, so he chose to wear a formal ivory dinner jacket. I personally loved this detail, as it was a very Southern choice for my very Northern groom.

We considered several different locations for the wedding, including Hotchkiss, Jackson Hole, and Beaver Creek, but when I went to Louisville for my best friend Barrett’s birthday, it just felt like the perfect place, as it’s the city I grew up in and a place that few of my friends had visited before. Seeing Oxmoor Farm for the first time really sealed the deal for me, as it made me feel as if I would be inviting guests into my own home.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. What part was most special to you? Did you include any special readings? The ceremony was one of the most special parts of the day for me! I will never forget the feeling I had watching Nick’s face as I walked down the aisle, since he rarely gets emotional, but was definitely a bit teary-eyed in that moment. We asked Nick’s future brother-in-law to do a reading and he chose Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, which was absolutely perfect for us. Another favorite detail was the recessional–we had our string quartet play the chorus of Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever,” a song Nick and I both adore.
Did you write your own vows? Nope, we chose to keep our vows traditional. Sweet and simple!

What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? If I had to pinpoint exactly where my inspiration came from, it would probably be a black tie version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”–I wanted the whole evening to feel elegant and lush, with traditional white flowers and tons of greenery everywhere. Since Nick proposed with a blade of grass, I also really wanted various grasses to be mixed into the design, which ended up looking fantastic and feeling meaningful.

I had so much fun at our reception. We had a separate tent for dinner and dancing, and my planner, Lauren Chitwood, did a wonderful job executing my décor vision. I wanted our guests to feel like they were walking into a scene straight out of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” when they entered the tent, and it really did feel just like that–white flowers and greenery everywhere, with a stunning hanging garden over the dance floor. For dinner, we served a summer zucchini ribbon salad with burrata to start, followed by herb and peppercorn encrusted strip steak over creamy cheese grits and spring vegetables. For dessert, we gave every guest a cupcake from Plehn’s Bakery, the very same bakery that made all of my birthday cakes growing up. The Sultans of Swing performed and did a fantastic job. Nick and I danced to Van Morrison’s “Wavelength,” which was one of my favorite parts of the whole night, and the Sultans kept people on the dance floor for the rest of the night playing everything from Frank Sinatra and Etta James to Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake–they were seriously phenomenal. Since our best man and maid of honor had spoken the night before at our rehearsal dinner, my dad was the only person who toasted at the wedding. His speech was incredibly sweet and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who became teary-eyed!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We initially met as high school students at the Hotchkiss School, a boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut, but didn’t start dating until six years later in New York after I literally ran into him and broke his sunglasses at my best friend’s house in Newport, Rhode Island. I was so embarrassed at the time, but turns out he wasn’t that phased, as we had a blast together that weekend and he asked me to drinks for the first time the following week!
Describe the proposal: It was a lazy, foggy Saturday morning at home in San Francisco, and Nick surprised me with breakfast in bed. This wasn’t that random, as he loves to cook, but this time, there was a little jewelry box on the tray with a blade of grass inside (I had always joked with my friends that I loved Nick so much that if he proposed with a blade of grass, I’d still say yes, so clearly, this story had gotten back to him!). After I opened that box and lost all ability to speak, he dropped down to one knee beside the bed and pulled out the real ring! We celebrated with friends the following day in Point Reyes, where we shucked and grilled oysters and drank copious amounts of rosé!
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? We did several premarital counseling sessions over FaceTime with our minister, my cousin Adam Webb, who lives in Atlanta. He had us read The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. One of the biggest takeaways for both of us was to always aim to do some sort of unselfish act for the other person at least once a week. This simple, but thoughtful, task has already impacted our relationship in the best way!
How many guests attended your wedding? 185
Bride’s favorite detail of the wedding: My favorite details were the blade of grass motif that was carried through everything from the wedding invitations to the décor, the cupcakes from Plehn’s, and the handwritten notes on the escort cards that also served as dance cards. It’s an old-fashioned tradition for women to record the names of the gentlemen with whom she intends to dance at a formal ball, and so Nick and I thought it would be fun to create dance cards for all of our guests to encourage them to seek out dance partners and maybe even meet some new friends. Whether or not they actually found the people listed on their dance card, we’ll never know, but what we do know is that people were on the dance floor the entire evening!
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? I originally wanted to wear “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” as my mother had done in her wedding. The lace from my mother’s wedding dress that was wrapped around my bouquet was my something old, the wedding dress was new, my mom’s diamond earrings were borrowed, and my sapphire engagement ring was blue. However, Nick surprised me with his grandmother’s earrings, so of course, I wore those instead of my mom’s!
Tell us about your wedding cake or sweets. Growing up in Louisville, I was lucky enough to have a Plehn’s Bakery cake every year for my birthday, so choosing a wedding cake was a no-brainer. Nick is totally obsessed with cupcakes, so rather than serve a traditional Southern groom’s cake, we decided to place a cupcake–either red velvet or lemon with cream cheese icing–on each guest’s plate after we cut the cake. Absolutely delicious!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We’re excited for everything about the future! As Nick always reminds me when I start to get sad that the wedding and honeymoon are over, these next few months are just the beginning of the rest of our lives! I can’t wait to see what happens for us professionally, I can’t wait to see where we end up buying a house, and I can’t wait to explore the world and raise a family together!

Photographer: Bella Grace Studios | Videographer: Two Rings Wedding Videos | Planner, Designer, Linens, and Lighting: Lauren Chitwood Events | Venue: Oxmoor Farm | Florals: Paul Latham of Lauren Chitwood Events | Caterer: Wiltshire Pantry | Dessert Baker: Plehn’s Bakery | Bride’s Gown and Veil: Jin Wang | Bride’s Shoes: Aquazzura | Bride’s Earrings: Cresalia Jewelers | Hair Stylist: Hali B & Co.| Makeup Artist: Sloan Winters | Bridesmaid Salon: Drybar | Groom’s Dinner Jacket: Saks Fifth Avenue | Paper Goods: Lettered West | Rentals: All Occasions Event Rental | Transportation: R&R Limousine

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Catherine Marks reply

    I love the dance cards idea and all the greenery! What an elegant day!

  2. avatar Bri A reply

    What a beautiful wedding!! I love that she carried the grass theme throughout – what a sweet reminder of the proposal! Such a sweet interview.

  3. avatar Darek Novak reply

    Love the skin tones on this set. So creamy. Beautiful wedding.

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Have you heard? It’s Engagement Celebration Week! Whether you’ve been engaged for two days or twelve months, we invite you to join the party and celebrate like you said yes yesterday. Upload a proposal or ring shot to our hashtag, enter to win giveaways all week on Instagram, or take 20% off our wedding planner with code JOYFULLYENGAGED. We can’t wait to cheer you on!!

The first item most brides look to book is the wedding venue — and with good reason! Your venue sets the tone for everything that is to come, it often helps determine your wedding date, and it can take up a large chunk of your wedding budget. Many brides or grooms also often have a sentimental attachment to the spot they choose to say “I do,” so (as with many wedding decisions) there’s an additional emotional factor to consider.

Since we know many of you are at the beginning of your engagement (how exciting!!), we wanted to share some of the most important things to consider when choosing a wedding venue! To do so, we invited three of the event planners at Keeneland, one of Kentucky’s premier venues, to offer their tips, and combined them with some of the best info from the Joyful Wedding Planner. We’ve sprinkled a few lovely photos from Keeneland’s various venues throughout, too!

Honey Heart Photography

1. The Particulars of Your Wedding. Know your (approximate) guest count, (desired) date and (approximate) budget before starting the search. It’s okay to not have them all set in stone, but you want to have at least a ballpark for each! If you have any must-haves (great view, garden setting, white walls, etc.), write these down, too. Use this information to make a list of possible venues, then narrow it down to your top picks before scheduling tours.

Honey Heart Photography

2. Your Love Story. Do you have a special tie to a location or city? Your wedding should be filled with your unique love story, and your venue is a great place to start! The Keeneland folks love hearing from brides who met their fiancé on property, grew up coming to the track, or were proposed to in between races.

Nina and Wes

3. Catering. There are several benefits of choosing a venue with an in-house catering company (especially if it’s a fabulous one, like Keeneland’s!). Having the food prepared by an in-house team means you don’t need to create a kitchen from the ground-up, you usually don’t have to worry about renting china and silverware, and you know your venue and catering team will work together seamlessly. Of course, if you have a specific caterer you’ve been dying to work with, or you have a particular vision in mind (like food trucks), you’ll want to look for a venue that allows outside vendors.

Lang Thomas

4. Coordination. At Southern Weddings, we believe that every couple should have at minimum a day-of coordinator, even if it’s just a trustworthy and organized family friend. Whether you’re planning to hire a full-service planner or not, make sure that you meet with and get along with the venue contact who will be on site during your celebration! Ask what level of involvement they’ll have with your planning, too.

VRV Photographie

5. Venue Specifics. The frustrating thing about the wedding venue search is that you’re usually comparing apples to oranges, because every venue builds their packages differently and charges accordingly. Make sure to gather as much information as possible! In addition to our basic questions, below, here are a few next-level Q’s:

— How long do we have the venue on the day of our wedding? Will we have access early to set-up?
— Does our rental include tables, chairs, china, a dance floor, a stage, or any other rentals?
— How will our venue coordinator assist us?
— Do you have enough parking to accommodate our guest count? Do you require valet, and is it additional?
— Restrooms: are they big enough and nice enough for your taste?
— What is the rain plan?

6. Photos. Does the venue itself photograph well? Are there pretty spots for portraits? If not, is the surrounding area accessible, and a good fit for your aesthetic?

Honey Heart Photography

Thanks to the ladies at Keeneland for chiming in today with their expert advice! And remember: as you sift through information from your top picks, make visits to each, and consider your options, don’t be afraid to ask questions, get proposals, and use the expertise of the on-site coordinator!

Sending wishes that you all find your perfect wedding venue match as quick as a Kentucky thoroughbred! :)

This post is brought to you by Keeneland, a gorgeous wedding venue and iconic race track in Kentucky. Thanks for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Ryan reply

    LOVE seeing our photographer friends and several past clients on Southern Weddings! The planners and staff at Keeneland are second to none and it is such an honor that we get to produce wedding videos at this beautiful Lexington venue!

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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