real wedding:: bright & colorful plantation wedding

Oh, Stephen and Jenn. I occasionally cry at the weddings I work, but this one was a particular tearjerker/emotionally-attached wedding:  the wedding of my brother-in-law and his high school sweetheart.

Despite the tears (in fact - the reason behind them), it was absolutely the happiest day. We were all beaming from morning until midnight that night. So much love came together to make everything absolutely perfect for the sweet couple and their Carnton Plantation wedding Memorial Day weekend.

Jessica McIntosh did a PHENOMENAL job photographing the intricacies of the day. We are all blown away by the portraits of these two -- aren't they just to die for? Jessica risked limb and life by creeping down in fields of flowers and greenery to get these shots -- and that was before we found the snake hanging out in the garden before the ceremony!

wedding gown hanging
yellow bridal bouquet

Jenn's bridal bouquet was absolutely gorgeous -- Cheryl's Flowers composed a beautiful arrangement of ivory hydrangea, calla lilies, roses, and peonies with a few pops of yellow.

pink flowers

Can anything really beat the natural beauty of this stately Southern plantation home? So lovely, especially at the "golden hour."

groomsmen tying ties
first look

I seriously die over all these portraits. That garden is just to die for!

bridal portrait
bridal party.jpg
first dance.jpg

The Southern-style spread for dinner was out-of-this-world insanely good. Bacon & Caviar for the win!

carnton plantation mansion

Once the party got started, OH how we wobbled...

carnton at night.jpg
slow dance.jpg
matron of honor family

Planner | Kelly Dellinger Events
Photographer | Jessica McIntosh Photography
Venue | Carnton Plantation
Caterer | Bacon & Caviar
Hair & Makeup | Brenna Mader
Personal Flowers | Cheryl's Flowers
Lighting | Bright Event Productions
Audio | Stager Audio
Rentals | Music City Tents & Events
Cake | The Bekahry Bake Shoppe
Honeymoon Planning | 2 Travel Anywhere - Excellence Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

real wedding:: organic-modern chic affair

Oh my stars! This wedding, y'all. One of my all-time favorite weddings has been that of Hayley and Braxton: college sweethearts with impeccable style and hearts of gold. Hayley was such a joy to meet with over the course of her engagement -- we spent many a chai tea latte and laugh together going over the intricacies of her nuptial Kate Spade-meets-J Crew-meets-California-gorgeousness.

rosette wedding dress
hollywood couple married
forest wedding bride
succulent organic bouquet
tuxedo and gown couple bride and groom
mylar balloons gold wedding

The gold mylar balloons we added in to incorporate their accent color and initials gave a special extra little something to their overall look. 

rustic organic wedding
hollywood bride garden roses

Their first look/portrait session before the wedding ceremony was just incredible - I'm obsessed with that rustic earthy background at the Factory. Don't they look perfectly juxtaposed in their formalwear?

Lauren Atkinson of LMA Designs knocked the ball out of the park with these bouquets and the reception florals. I'm a sucker for loosely arranged pieces with garden roses, astilbe, and greenery!

aisle marker garden rose
modern wedding ceremony program
emotional moment at wedding ceremony
magnolia trees wedding ceremony
elegant hors d'ouevres

The reception was held indoors, lit with twinkling string lights and a few pops of mint green. Centerpieces were varying heights of gold boxed florals, lots of greenery, and pretty calligraphied table numbers. Fruitwood chiavaris flanked the head table, set in front of the roughly frosted scrumptious wedding cake. Favors for wedding guests were individually bagged cake truffle pops, also made by Wolfe Gourmet Cakes.

organic modern centerpieces
textured buttercream succulent cake
modern mint and gold wedding reception
modern organic tablescapes
modern organic wedding reception string lights
happy bride and groom grand entrance

Planning | Kelly Dellinger Events
Florals | Lauren Atkinson Design
Makeup & Hair | Brenna Mader
Rentals | Southern Events Party Rentals
Catering | A Dream Come True
Ceremony Trio | Kenneth Coca Trio
Reception DJ | Jose Rose of Cosmo Creations
Wedding Cake & Favors | Wolfe Gourmet Cakes
Venue | Factory at Franklin
Photography | Q Avenue Photo
Lighting | Springtree Media
Honeymoon Planning | 2 Travel Anywhere, Sandals Jamaica


what to actually pack on your honeymoon

The first weekend of 2014 marked our first wedding of the year -- Laura & Michael's! In the days leading up to the wedding, Laura approached me about feeling frazzled, comparing a zillion lists of what to pack for her honeymoon, and not knowing what on earth to actually take or leave behind. If there's one trip in a person's lifetime that important things ought not be left behind, it's a honeymoon!

Aerial view of Mexico from our honeymoon in 2012!

Aerial view of Mexico from our honeymoon in 2012!

So from a practical standpoint (and from someone who's taken two tropical vacations over the past year and a half), here's my no-nonsense honeymoon packing list (for a 5 - 6 day tropical honeymoon):

  • Lingerie/Underwear (sexy AND legitimately comfortable -- you will want both); strapless bra OPTIONAL depending on your outfit choices
  • A pair of Lightweight Pajamas (but only bring 1 -2 pairs of PJs, max)
  • Swimsuits (you only really need 2)
  • A few Coverups (this can be a jersey knit dress, just something easy to throw on and off -- no jean shorts; this can also be something you wear first to a meal and then to the beach)
  • Light Cardigan/Lightweight Jacket (that will match most things - sometimes the restaurants are chilly; bring 1 - 2)
  • Nice-ish Dress (knit jersey is great for this if it's a little fancier in style, otherwise a sundress or casual-nice dress is good -- it's fun to dress up a little for formal dinners but you don't have to go too fancy)
  • Sandals (at least two pairs, one that's nicer -- you'll wear these everywhere, exclusively)
  • Flip-Flops (super casual, easy to wear to the actual beach and back)
  • OPTIONAL: Lightweight slip-on close-toed shoes for your flight and back (if you're traveling in the cooler weather months)
  • Comfortable, cute shorts or lightweight capris/pants (2-3 pairs to mix and match)
  • Comfortable, lightweight tops (tanks are great! 4 - 5 of these - they can get sweaty or sandy, so make sure you have enough)
  • Hat (baseball cap or floppy sunhat to shade you)
  • Sunglasses, his and hers
  • Small Clutch (OPTIONAL - if you want something to carry around your room key/camera/lipstick when you go to dinner)
  • Mousse/Hair Product to best accentuate your natural hair texture (there's no time or desire to straighten your hair when you're on tropical vacation)/Bobby Pins/Ponytail Holders
  • Curling Iron (only if you want to get fancy a night or two)
  • A pair of Statement Earrings that will go with lots of outfits or a Statement Necklace (no need to accessorize too much on vacation!) -- a little goes a long way.
  • Camera/Memory Card (maybe an extra)/Charger/Batteries
  • iPhone/Charger
  • iPad (OPTIONAL - only bring if you'll actually use it on the plane or at the resort)
  • Passport
  • Marriage License copy, signed (don't bring the real thing)
  • Resort & Flight Confirmations 
  • Driver's License (extra ID)
  • Credit Card (for emergencies)
  • at least $100 in small bills, cash, to tip (even though the resort includes gratuities, they really really appreciate tips and you'll get better service. Worth it.)
  • Emergency Cash
  • Advil
  • Gas-X or Beano, if you want to avoid any unromantic moments onset by overindulging at the all-you-can-eat dinners
  • Deodorant
  • Nausea medicine, if you're prone to getting ill out of the country
  • Contacts & a spare pair/Solution/Glasses
  • Toothbrush (toothpaste is usually included there)
  • a LOT of sunscreen (it'll be $80 at the resort if you run out)/Sunblock chapstick
  • Aloe Vera (small container) if either of you burns easily or if you're not vigilant about applying SPF
  • Razor
  • Face Soap, travel size
  • Makeup (not your whole kit -- just some mascara and eyeliner, maybe a shade of eye shadow, and lipgloss. you don't need much, you'll be rocking the 'newlywed glow!')
  • Makeup Remover, travel size
  • Hairbrush
  • Contraceptives
  • Feminine products (even if you're not expecting your period, you never know! Better to be safe than have to buy them overpriced at the airport!)
  • Bug spray! If you are going somewhere tropical, there are bugs! It's inevitable!
  • Cortisone, in case you slacked on applying the bug spray
  • Ziploc bags in varying sizes, in case you want to protect your phone while you're at the beach, OPTIONAL
  • A trash bag to separate your dirty clothes from the clean, OPTIONAL
Is this love, is this love, is this love, is this love that I'm feeling?  Absolutely -- Excellence Riviera Cancun is absolutely swoon-worthy. View from our room.

Is this love, is this love, is this love, is this love that I'm feeling? Absolutely -- Excellence Riviera Cancun is absolutely swoon-worthy. View from our room.

Ultimately, I tend to subscribe to the less-is-more approach. Plan your outfits to be layerable, stay away from heavy fabrics or materials, bring more than enough clean (and comfortable) underwear. Feel free to get a little fancy a night or two but don't bother packing an 80lb sequined pageant gown and stilettos -- you're at the beach! Definitely pack more sunscreen than you think you'll need and aloe vera if you burn easily or tend get overconfident about your tanning abilities when sunbathing (hand raised). Take a ridiculous amount of pictures, eat and drink to your heart's content (maybe bring some Pepcid if you're really going to let loose), and have one helluva honeymoon!!! And don't forget to put all of your liquids in your checked bag!

Stay tuned for the follow-up post about what NOT to pack on your honeymoon! 

sense memory & homesick for our honeymoon

I'm always taken aback by how strong sense memory can be. I chew a piece of berry-flavored gum that I used to stock up on my freshman year of college, and a wave of depression hits me like a ton of bricks. I walk into a muggy hot yoga hallway and am instantly transported to the two weeks my close friend and I first tried it out (and binge-exercised for our unlimited two week beginner period). I hear a song on the radio or an old CD and think back to the couple of months it was my ringtone, and all the things that happened that season. I take a bite of a piece of chocolate espresso torte and suddenly I'm at my high school boyfriend's prom again, nervous but so excited to be on my first "real date."

Sense memory can bring back a flood of negative emotions at the drop of a hat. That first time I chewed the berry gum I was like, "WHOA now! That year was a rough patch but that time is OVER!" It takes repeated exposure to try to wipe out a negative sense memory -- sometimes even therapy (!) or at the least, self-affirmation that lets you let the feelings go.

SCRUMPTIOUS wedding cake by  Dulce Desserts .  {Alyssa Joy Photography }

SCRUMPTIOUS wedding cake by Dulce Desserts{Alyssa Joy Photography}

On the other side of the spectrum, it can also release incredible happy feelings and memories. Anytime I eat a slice of Dulce Desserts' wedding cake, it's our wedding night all over again! (Although I would seriously KILL to have our actual wedding cake flavors recreated. If anyone wants to have a wedding cake composed of a chocolate chip cake with coffee buttercream, European buttercake with lemon curd and raspberry buttercream, or pistachio cake with pistachio buttercream and chocolate truffle ganache, I am HAPPY to eat every last crumb if you happen to have some left over.)

Javier, our private Excellence Club bartender/butler/amazing-person. Javier Castillo -- best part of Excellence Riveria Cancun! Go there and tell him I sent you!!!!!!

Javier, our private Excellence Club bartender/butler/amazing-person. Javier Castillo -- best part of Excellence Riveria Cancun! Go there and tell him I sent you!!!!!!

Lately, I've been soaking up the sense memories related to our honeymoon at Excellence Riviera Cancun. I still haven't had a mojito that even held a candle to Javier's (our personal Club bartender), and we tragically haven't seen the ocean since we left Mexico.... BUT. We DID manage to leave the resort with a couple of little bottles of the incredible Bvlgari shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion that we used in our room.

Oh. My. Heavens. I ran out of normal shampoo two days ago, so I reached inside our medicine cabinet yesterday to pull out our little honeymoon toiletries until I can get to the store to restock our usual stuff. One sniff of that glorious, heavenly shampoo, and I was in our completely-marble Excellence Junior Suite shower all over again. I'm telling you, there is NOTHING like reliving the best vacation of your life. Today I whipped out the trifecta of Excellence conveniences (shamp, conditioner, AND lotion) and legitimately spent a good five to ten minutes closing my eyes and pretending there was marble beneath my feet instead of whatever cheap linoleum stuff our apartment bath/shower's made out of. Sweet dreams are made of this!!!!!!

The view from our room! {Swoon!}

The view from our room! {Swoon!}

Last night when Drew got home he couldn't stop smelling my hair. I'm telling you, this stuff is addictive. I'm half a mind to go out and buy the crazy full-size Bvlgari toiletry set (including the perfume, because I'm sure it's amazing too).

ECSTATIC honeymooners! {Self-timer pic taken immediately upon our arrival!}

ECSTATIC honeymooners! {Self-timer pic taken immediately upon our arrival!}

All this is to say.... WE HAD THE BEST HONEYMOON IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, EVER. We are absolutely, one-thousand-percent homesick over Excellence Riviera Cancun all of the time. When we first stepped foot out of that airport transfer van, we were greeted with a man yielding a cooler full of cold wet washcloths (it's hot in Mexico, y'all), two lovely ladies with a tray of champagne, and literally everyone who encountered us said, "Welcome home!!!" Oh, I could just relive it right this minute!!

We loved the heck out of every last thing at that place. We kept going on and on about how it was aptly named "Excellence"... and the customer service was SO. SO! Good. Oh my...

the gorgeous pier {where we watched SEVERAL couples get married all week!}

the gorgeous pier {where we watched SEVERAL couples get married all week!}

We will undoubtedly be going back to Excellence (perhaps Punta Cana next time?!) as soon as we can manage to. And Carlie Finch (2 Travel Anywhere) will be planning the trip, since she is the goddess of all things travel-related.

The mariachi band serenaded us through our dinner at the delicioso Mexican restaurant!

The mariachi band serenaded us through our dinner at the delicioso Mexican restaurant!

Honeymooners and the GORGEOUS resort background. {photo taken by the couple-friends we met at the resort, Patrick and Rachel!}

Honeymooners and the GORGEOUS resort background. {photo taken by the couple-friends we met at the resort, Patrick and Rachel!}

I will seriously refer every.single.bride I ever get or encounter her direction because she is THAT amazing. You will not find a sweeter person, nor one who plans a vacation more thoroughly (no detail left overlooked!), nor one more awesome than Carlie. I sincerely loved every single person involved in the construction of our epic wedding, but I can honestly say working with Carlie was the most stress-free, enjoyable, exciting experience through the entirety of wedding planning. It costs ZERO DOLLARS to work with her, she finds the best deal out there (which allows you to stay the LONGEST TIME POSSIBLE wherever you choose -- ah-mazing!), and she seriously takes care of everything. We planned our honeymoon about six months out from our wedding day, paid it off in full (because I like paying things off as early as possible) by April, and literally did not have to do another thing in preparation for our trip besides going swimsuit and floppy hat shopping, getting Drew's passport, and PACKING until we were getting on a plane and grinning ear to ear. Beat that! She confirmed every last little thing for us before we left (in the midst of our crazy wedding-prep week), called the resort WHILE WE WERE THERE to make sure we were having the time of our lives, and had us pampered to death the whole time. Drew and I literally asked each other if we had died on the plane and gone to heaven when we got there. (And asked it every day after that, too.)

Drew perusing the pizzeria's menu one lazy afternoon. Everything was SO nice!

Drew perusing the pizzeria's menu one lazy afternoon. Everything was SO nice!

The only word that comes to mind is mega-swoon. Our honeymoon was PERFECT! We have missed it every day since we left. Our honeymoon suite room has inspired most of the interior decor decisions we have made upon moving (which we did the DAY after we got back from Mexico -- WHIRLWIND!)... the white sheer curtains we got, the beachy patio setup we have outside, the bright and vivid colors all over our house.... Oh my heavens.

Mmm.... best breakfasts (esp. cappuccinos!) ever!

Mmm.... best breakfasts (esp. cappuccinos!) ever!

I hope everyone has the opportunity to look back on their honeymoons with the fondness and adoration that we do. It's that important. You only live once!!!!! Are you planning a honeymoon or simply a little getaway? Call up Carlie. You won't regret it! :)

THAT SUNSET! I DIE! {photo by patrick runyon}

THAT SUNSET! I DIE! {photo by patrick runyon}