hey y'all!

I inadvertently took a couple years’ hiatus from posting consistently on here… Growing my family took first priority over the last few years so I spent my work time exclusively planning weddings and let the majority of my marketing strategies take a backseat. I am so excited to be re-entering the world of working ON the business (rather than JUST in it!) with a refreshed mindset. Without further ado, here’s a re-introduction of myself and what we do here at Kelly Dellinger Events!

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Hometown: Chapmansboro, Tennessee but I was born in (and currently reside in) Nashville!
Birthday: August 7. This year I turn 30, and I’ve never been so excited for a new year!
What fires me up: Dancing, teaching barre, worship music (obsessed with Amanda Cook from Bethel), soaking in precious little things about my daughters, the beach, spending quality time with my husband Drew.
You would be surprised to know: I once performed as a living statue for a cocktail reception at the Nashville Library. I was covered head-to-toe in maroon iridescent paint and wore a top hat that had a bunny coming out of it. It took FOREVER to get that paint out of my hair!
Favorite class I took in college: Creative nonfiction! We read so many memoirs and wrote our own mini one. I love reading and telling real life stories!
How I came to work at Kelly Dellinger Events: I began my career working in political event planning and nonprofit fundraising. While I quickly learned that was NOT my cup of tea, it segued into an internship with a wedding planning company that I fell in love with! I worked as many wedding industry jobs as I could fit in for many years, and then launched my own planning company in January 2013!
Favorite wedding to plan, ever: This is so hard — each of my couples has meant so much to me personally and every wedding I put my hands on teaches me something valuable. Perhaps one of my most recent favorites was Ellen and Joe’s — I planned and designed the entirety of their backyard Owensboro, Kentucky wedding from the ground up. We brought in all our team of vendors from Nashville: everything from flooring to clear-top tent to floral chandeliers, tables and chairs, tabletops, paper goods, you name it. It gave me a lot of creative liberty and was a challenge in the best way.
Best part of my job: I love the creative expression my career offers me. My favorite part of the process is when we do our vendor meetings, particularly design meetings, in person! The vast majority of my clients plan their Nashville weddings from afar, so I really thrive facilitating “marathon planning sessions” where we knock out a lot of decisions over the span of a few days. This is always a great time to get to know my clients better (since so much of what we do is over phone or email, there’s just something special about face-to-face!) and really lets us flesh out the particulars of the style and feeling we’re evoking with the wedding.
What I do in my spare time: My girls, ages 2 and almost 4, keep me on my toes most days! (Lots of play-doh building, dance parties, making art, and going on adventures as a family.) I also LOVE taking and teaching barre classes at Village Barre, and serving on Sundays at Zeal Church.
The cause/organization/charity that most captures my heart: I have loved the mission of Project R12 since I first heard about it in 2013. I think they have a really unique structure with empowering leaders internally in Uganda and funding projects that are sustainable for the country’s growth (that benefit education, access to health care, etc). They’re also founded locally here, so it’s special to me getting to know the spearheads personally who make so much amazing progress happen!
True love is: I actually dreamed about that question two nights ago, randomly! In much better words than my own, true love is patient, kind, does not envy or boast, is not rude or self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, and never fails.

january

We've been snowed in for a week now. All across the Southeast, cities have been pummeled with ice and snow. At first it's magical! Snow! Big fluffy flakes falling from the sky! People get to stay home from work. Kids make snowmen and dance snow angels in the yard. Then it gets old. 

I am not one for the cold. Single-digits are not my jam. I do not particularly care for bundling up in a billion layers of clothes. Please give me a white sundress and Jack Rogers sandals and a tan -- I'm in heaven! 

Winter is hard for extroverts, especially those that work from home. Drew and I thrive on human interaction -- being in crowds energizes us! Parties are our THING. But winter means everyone hibernates.... which is cool for about a day, then I'm over it.

One of our past winter brides on a (used to be rare) snowy day -- shot by  Jeb Wilson of Nashville Photography Group

One of our past winter brides on a (used to be rare) snowy day -- shot by Jeb Wilson of Nashville Photography Group

Is it a shock that my favorite part of wedding planning is the in-person meetings stage of consulting and conceptualizing? I loooove long marathon planning days, getting to know clients better, selecting the components of their wedding to make the day perfect. Unfortunately, it's hard to plan too many of these in January because we always seem to get snowed out!!! I can't tell you how many flights have been delayed or meetings have been canceled because of inclement weather in January. (And that one time I went into labor in February.... but I digress.)

It's apparent to me that Januaries just tend to be hard. A month of sacrifices (hello New Year's resolutions...), bad weather, and cabin fever. What would make an excellent January? Right now all I can think of is a Caribbean destination (maybe scouting some potential wedding venues? ;) ). Open to suggestions, y'all!

it's 2018

Another year has passed, and another anniversary of Kelly Dellinger Events! We launched our company January 1, 2013. On one hand, it's hard to believe it's been five years; on the other, it feels like there was never a time before KDE. My own personal life has changed so dramatically over the course of these five years  (two children, a chronic illness diagnosis, a house bought, many career changes and accomplishments for Drew) -- somehow KDE feels like the stability behind all the chaos. 

I am so, so grateful for all of the couples who have entrusted me with their weddings over the last half-decade -- each and every wedding has been so special to have a hand in, and I've learned a tremendous amount from the couples and families I've gotten to spend this precious time with. It's fun to see families grow as past brides have birthed babies, siblings have gotten married, and life marches on (since weddings are always just the beginning). What a gift!

It's also amazing to me to see how God has blessed this company, from a shred of a dream to full-fledged fruition. He's provided financially, emotionally (my friends from the Nashville Wedding Planners Group are some of my dearest!), physically (the perfect office that we called home for many years, and now a home base that fits us so well). I have been pushed, challenged, stretched in every way. Each new wedding teaches me so much. I have found fulfillment in making the planning process a fun one and wedding days sacred for my couples. Thank you, Lord!

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And so we march onward. My aim for 2018 is for discipline, wisdom, simplicity. Doing the hard work for the long-term good. "Wisdom is choosing to do now what you will be happy with later on." - Joyce Meyer. 

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Happy new year, to you & yours! May you find yourself closer to God than ever before, may you find the courage and strength to aggressively pursue your calling, and may your year be abundantly filled with joy, peace, and gratitude.

Love,
KSD 

five years later

Once again, I flew off the radar! No, it hasn't been quite five years since I blogged last, but having a baby in February + several very demanding (incredible!) full-scale planning events have put this on the backburner. We all need grace, and this is certainly one of those areas I need it in! (Priorities > blogging)

But five years! Five years ago, I was getting my nails painted and dashing off to pick up last-minute wedding props and showing up late to my own rehearsal and panickedly calling my wedding venue owner because Drew left his late mother's diamond engagement ring on a table before another big event that was happening after we rehearsed. Tomorrow will be our fifth wedding anniversary (and no, I sadly haven't picked out a wooden gift for Drew... we definitely fail on the whole gift-giving thing at this time of year). 

Five years have seen us survive the CPA exam, two pregnancies and subsequent chunky babies, buy a house, start a business, get a couple of unfortunate diagnoses, drink a lot of wine, and eat a lot of Mexican food. We've been out of the country twice, to Charleston countless times, moved twice, and celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving at the beach a LOT.

We gained and lost 60-something pounds between the two of us over five years. We stopped eating bread for the most part and discovered a legitimately good $5 sparkling wine (Trader Joe's Secco -- you're welcome.). We've painted walls and a deck, assembled a lot of furniture (and an insanely complicated play kitchen), hung and rewired a chandelier, planted and killed a ton of basil, and swept a lot of floors.

We bought two new cars, sold the damn Jeep, adopted a second cat, and talked endlessly about our imaginary poodle Lulu (who will one day be my diabetic alert dog). We've laughed, cried, dreamed, prayed, fought, and spent way too much money on a couch our cat destroyed in about a week. We made it through yoga teacher training, a four-month stint working in Knoxville, high-risk pregnancies, an ant infestation, and nearly getting scammed by some dude in Africa pretending to rent us a house in Franklin.

We've been to funerals and weddings, held friends' babies at hospitals, thrown showers, and shared a lot of dinners with friends. Drew met his best friend who happens to be marrying my college roommate / friend from and for forever, who we happened to name our second baby after. I met my estranged grandmother, and my daughters met all three of their living great-grandmothers. I birthed a baby the same exact day as my best friend (both girls).

We've learned countless lessons over the course of five years:  to not make assumptions in business, to turn on water and electricity and gas when you move into a new house, that a relaxing vacation usually means we're coming back to something challenging, to make friends with neighbors, to always have a spare key, that investing in the kingdom of God always has great ROI, to fail to plan is to plan to fail, how much our parents actually love us, to forge our own paths, that we're awfully resilient, the value in persistence and loyalty, and that baby mole our cat chased into our kitchen is actually a shrew. We've made a lot of guacamole (AKA avocado + garlic + pink sea salt), a lot of french press coffee, and finally bought a crockpot. 

We've become totally different people than we were five years ago (particularly when I was handed a brand new brain in 2015 upon Lilly's arrival into the world), but I like us so much more now. We are abundantly wealthy, with medical insurance and running water and HVAC and working cars and shelter and clothes and groceries, more than we could ever want or need and family nearby. 

We have been blessed beyond measure these last five years. I can't imagine what could top this in 5 more, but I'm willing to stick around and see what happens, to say the least.

Happy anniversary, Drew!

nearing the end of 2016

Happy holidays, y'all! We are somehow staring down the end of the year with less than three weeks until Christmas -- which also means our final wedding of the 2016 season. We are closing out 2016 with a big ole' wedding bang:  Lauren & Chris' downtown Nashville New Year's Eve wedding!!! You can expect to see many sparkles, confetti flakes, balloons, and candles galore shared as we close out the year and enter into one of our most exciting wedding years yet. 2017 is shaping up to be busy, beautiful, and a new pace for Kelly Dellinger Events. 

Personally, I'll be giving birth to our second child (another girl - Julianna Cate!) in late winter. For this reason, we have not taken on any weddings for production in January - April. We will also be halting in-person consultations for the month of March (as we adjust to live as a family of four and I recover physically -- not to mention soak in all those newborn snuggles! Swoon!). Then we'll be back in the saddle and ready to take on our whirlwind of 2017 weddings!!!! *heart eyes*

We're SO excited for our roster of 2017 clients -- couples from Arizona, Chicago, Atlanta, and our own backyard of Nashville will be getting married at stunning venues like Ruby, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Richland Country Club, Belle Meade Plantation, and a private estate in Owensboro, Kentucky! 

2016 was a great year -- full of challenges, new lessons learned, some incredible people met, really amazing travels, and obviously the growing of our family. I'm looking forward to recapping our eventful 2016 wedding season here on the blog in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that! 

I'll leave you with these family photos my dear friend Amy Cherry did for us in September. Wishing you & yours the merriest of Christmases and a very happy close to your year!

 

 

curating the perfect wedding guest list

Curating the guest list can be one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding. Nothing can spark a huge fight quite like your future MIL sending you a list of 65 friends she wants to include when all you wanted was a TOTAL guest count of 30. Or when you plan to invite your entire sorority pledge class, but try to limit your fiancé to 3 friends outside of groomsmen. It requires a delicate balance of compromise, negotiation, and lots of grace / communication to get it right. Here are my "rules" and recommendations for alleviating some of the stress involved:

{all images in this post are by Bamber Photography}

1. First and foremost, figure out what your absolute restrictions are. Maybe your venue can only accommodate 120 guests, tops. Maybe your budget only allows you to have the scale of wedding you'd love to have if you invite a maximum of 150. Figure out what the ABSOLUTE largest number of guests you can have is, and keep that number in mind. Communicate that number over to family members creating guest lists. ("No, you cannot invite 90 'close friends.' We can only have 100 guests TOTAL, Mom.")

2. With every guest, ask yourself this question -- would you take this person out and pay for their dinner? That's essentially what you're doing by hosting them. Do you have an ongoing relationship with them, do you plan to stay close with them long term? Or did they play a very meaningful part of one stage of your life and therefore leave a lasting mark that you'd like to acknowledge by including them?

3. Do not give in to pressure points like "well, they invited me to their wedding" or "they said something to me about attending the wedding" or "we were close for a very short period of time" (but definitely not anymore). It's even OK to say no to certain family members if you're not remotely close and it won't cause detrimental damage to family dynamics to exclude them. (Also - wedding guests-to-be, QUIT ASSUMING YOU'RE ALWAYS GOING TO BE INVITED. Sometimes it's best to keep your mouth shut and just say congratulations when you hear of a friend getting engaged. Be delighted and surprised when you receive an invitation! It is much better to be pleasantly surprised than utterly disappointed. One day you will too be in their shoes, or perhaps you already were. Empathy, y'all!)

4. Remember this aspect of the wedding is not just about you -- you're accommodating your fiance's friends and family, as well as your parents' friends and families too. Sometimes with divorced parents, you may be dealing with 2 - 6+ different "guest lists" to combine, pare down, and work with. Definitely encourage parents to narrow down their lists dramatically if they give you a million people to add, maybe even a set number they can't exceed. This can be tricky territory, especially when someone other than you is paying for the wedding.

5. Make sure to write every single person's name on the invitation you send so there are no questions if just the head of household is invited or the entire family. It's totally fine to personally explain to people (or have a diplomatic family member reach out) if they ask why they were excluded. Leave no room for confusion, however. No one wins when who is invited is left up to personal interpretation -- a guest without a seat and plated dinner at the reception will not be happy, so better to let the disappointment set in on the front end than to deal with that humiliation on the back end. (NOTE:  You only have to purchase enough invitations to send one per household. So don't think you need 300 invites for 300 guests.)

6. It's ok to be uneven on sides -- if you have a huge family and your groom doesn't or vice versa. Try to be fair with friend lists and family friend guests, while keeping in mind who is footing the bill.

7. For coworkers -- do not fall into the trap of "invite everyone or invite no one." People are understanding for the most part (and if they're not, their loss), and it's ridiculous to invite an entire department just for the sake of saving face. DO NOT hand out invitations at work (LAWDAMERCY NO), but feel free to mail invites to those people you are closest to. Use discretion with inviting your boss. (Are you actually close? Will this detrimentally affect your work life if you don't invite them?)

8. GENERALLY, you can expect 75% of your invited guests to attend. This can obviously vary depending on the percentage of guests required to travel to get to the wedding or the time of year (if you're having a Christmastime wedding, do not be surprised to see that number dip to 40 - 50%), but as a general rule, not everyone you invite will come, and some of the people you were CERTAIN would not come WILL come. You will also have some guests RSVP and not actually attend, and some guests show up that did NOT RSVP. You can manage this better by hassling them around the RSVP date to give you a DEFINITE ANSWER and generally pressuring them to be accurate. But all this is to say -- if you can only fit 75 guests in your venue and you want to invite 400, YOU ARE CRAZY AND IT WILL NOT WORK. (Exception:  If 300 of those guests are celebrities / President Obama / people you have absolutely no relationship with whatsoever.)

End point:  It is impossible to include everyone that has ever meant anything in you and your fiancé's (and your families') lives. You must be cutthroat. Who do you actually want to see on your wedding day? You can always blame the venue and say, "We simply don't have room."

Happy planning!

anniversary time:: another list of do-over's!

Every year as I approach my husband's and my wedding anniversary, we get a little older and wiser and look back with retrospect at how we did our wedding, and what we might do differently had we gotten married later. Of course, I would've killed Drew had he not proposed until we'd been dating 8 or 9 years, but this is hypothetical anyways. And also I totally understand that this is coming from a place of having had our wedding exactly as it was (so maybe if we HAD eloped and only had 20 guests, I'd be sitting here writing about the huge Southern wedding we wished we could've had... the grass is always greener on the other side).

{See what we would've done differently one year out here!}

Without further ado, here are the things I think four years out, we might have done differently:

Pay more attention in writing invitations. Include everyone's names on envelopes. Cut down the guest list but communicate clearly to avoid hurt feelings later on.

Smaller bridal party and guest list, probably. As you get older you pare down those you're closest to!

Keep up with thank you notes!!! Better system for tracking, follow up where needed. (I'm still getting flack about screwing these up. Brides, take heed and get organized in this arena!)

Try the pistachio cake!!! Juanita doesn't make it anymore. :(

Pay for a bigger cake.

Opt for a smaller bachelorette party group, and go on a little weekend excursion to a beach city away (like NOLA or Charleston or Savannah).

Hot glue the cake topper to its base, since Ken kept falling off. 

More classic bridesmaid shoes and accessories. I wanted to go whimsical and I did, but I now look back and think what?? Some pretty pink teardrop earrings would've gone with my emerald ones and looked lovely. And an almond-toed leather shoe in a similar hue would have looked a little more timeless than the rounded suede pink pumps I had them wear. But it was just the style then!

Wear Clean Feel bug spray (non-greasy! unscented! my favorite!) to avoid those millions of mosquito bites.

Start the wedding a hour earlier, add on extra hour of dancing. Attend cocktails and serve a simple dinner. I did love our cake and coffee reception but we were starving and I'm sure guests were too!

Not feel bad asserting boundaries and cutting off people who chatted us up too long.

Maybe nix the ice cream bar, since it melted anyways in the 95-degree heat!

Ante up the cash to provide ample champagne for guests. We didn't need to serve a full bar (that's not really our style), but we needed way more champ than we had.

Provide hair stylist for bridesmaids. We did fine without it, but it would've been nice to pamper everyone.

More classic song selections. I've mentioned this before, but I was really trying to be clever with Pour Some Sugar On Me for our cake cutting...

Walk slower down the aisle. I dragged my dad at lightspeed... 

Cut my dad's jacket stays.

Not set an alarm the morning after the wedding. We had all day to sleep in and catch up on rest, but instead we woke up too early and were bored out of our minds all day.

Put more thought into the letters we wrote one another.

Store a nice bottle of champ that ages well in our wine box. 

Opt for a looser style updo and darker lips. Maybe do a lighter nail color. 

Thank my vendor team in my speech.

Do different favors and nicer escort cards and table numbers.

Finalize seating chart the week of/before the wedding and tell people no when they tried to RSVP late.

Pare down our photo list so the things that were most important got captured. Like the punch bowl.

Label items better, have fewer knickknacks for planner to keep up with.

Opt for nicer champagne. Get a bottle of Veuve for me & Drew.

Maybe buy the more expensive wedding dress. I still think about it.

Put more thought into comprising our ceremony script. Change the verses to more meaningful ones.

Dance with my dad to the song he actually requested.

Do a post-wedding brunch to see everyone before they departed.

Cut our honeymoon down to 6 days, 5 nights in Riviera Maya, and not go to Cozumel afterwards.

In all honesty, if we redid our wedding older and wiser, we'd probably elope to some destination beach, only invite absolute closest friends and family, and spoil the heck out of them. We were so concerned with trying to include everyone that we didn't even get to see 1/3 of the guests that came. We didn't have any semblance of an unlimited budget so this would've allowed us to "do right" for a few guests rather than scrape by for everyone (and still piss people off because that's inevitable). We could've sent announcements after the fact so no one felt pressured to give us a gift but could still be in the loop. That would've saved the headache of keeping up with so many table assignments / thank you cards / last-minute RSVPs / getting to talk to everyone. We probably would've been a little sad to not include everyone but I think it would've been worth it. Ah well!!!

Photo credits: Kelsey & Jon Bufkin and Kristine Neeley.