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.

november nuptials:: bridesmaids

Last week I promised to elaborate little thoughts and dreams between the lines of my November nuptial dreams. Today I'm zeroing in on the bridesmaid details for my dream wedding!

For our actual wedding, we had six bridesmaids, six groomsmen, three honorary bridesmaids, two ring bearers, and three flowergirls in our bridal party.

Six was a pretty good number for personal attendants. Not terribly big, not too small. I would consider paring it down to just one and one (my sister and Drew's brother) if we had an EXTREMELY small, intimate wedding. But oftentimes the wedding party contributes highly to the fun part of wedding festivities!

Regardless of how many we might have nowadays, I'd have my ladies wear floor-length gowns. I'm obsessed with this two-toned ivory lace and topaz matte satin After Six number, especially to contrast with some vividly toned red and pink bouquets. I couldn't find the perfect earrings to top off the look, but these drop earrings in rose gold would be beautiful. I love the look of blush pink pumps (and these popular Badgley Mischka pairs are just gorgeous) and red lips, especially with dramatic loosely-curled down-do's. I wouldn't necessarily ask all of my bridesmaids to rock the same hairstyle, but loose, "undone" styles are gorgeous and would fit so perfectly with the aesthetic.

after six  gown , reds and corals  bouquet , drop  earrings , badgley mischka  pumps , down-do's and red  lips

after six gown, reds and corals bouquet, drop earrings, badgley mischka pumps, down-do's and red lips

Stay tuned to see the next element:  Groomsmen & Little Ones!

AKD Anniversary Month:: If I Could Do It All Over... PART TWO

In the spirit of reminiscing over our wedding (ONE YEAR AGO on the 21st! Anniversary month!!!!) and writing about what we would have done DIFFERENTLY if we got to get married all over again, I wanted to write today about what we are SO GLAD we did and wouldn't dream of changing!

Sitting on the steps of my parents' home for our family formals. (PS: Aren't my nephews in their little seersucker suits the CUTEST?!)

Sitting on the steps of my parents' home for our family formals. (PS: Aren't my nephews in their little seersucker suits the CUTEST?!)

Getting ready for the day at my childhood home. There's nothing quite like being in your own stomping grounds, having everything at your disposal that you could possibly need, and immortalizing that precious place in your wedding photos and video. I'm so happy to have footage of our home, photos of our bridal party in our backyard, and to have had the opportunity to get wedding-ready at home. Mom made cinnamon muffins that morning, the dogs were running around terrified (particularly my sweet Zuzu, who didn't make it anywhere on the film or photos since she was hiding all day), and our whole house was a ZOO with people coming in and out and doing all kinds of things. Kind of reminds me of Father of the Bride, which is one of my all-time favorite movies. I tried to convince my wedding fairy godmother to let me change our venue from the stable we got married in to my parents' house a month before the wedding day, but she wouldn't let me (and for good reason -- it was late July, mosquitos were insanely rampant, invitations were already out, and I kept trying to change EVERYTHING last-minute). Even so, I'm still so glad we had the better part of the day to spend at home!

One of the film stills from our wedding video -- love all the emotion caught!

One of the film stills from our wedding video -- love all the emotion caught!

Hiring a kick-A videographer. Oh goodness. We ended up getting the best of all wedding videography worlds, having FocalPoint Cinematic film our wedding day and McNeal Wedding Films edit the final product. It was an unfortunate situation that provided the opportunity, but ended up being such a tremendous blessing, getting to reap the benefits of two awe-inspiringly talented companies. As a very video-centric person (I was the annoying middle schooler who carried her little blue cam-corder EVERYWHERE and created stop-motion animation American Girl Doll dance music videos growing up), I cannot say how happy I am to have the moments of our entire day captured forever for posterity. I love love love our photos, but seeing the moments unfold in their entirety (and remembering exactly WHAT triggered the emotions captured in said photos) is just standalone awesome.

Flowers upon flowers upon flowers -- they were everywhere! And made such an impact! 

Flowers upon flowers upon flowers -- they were everywhere! And made such an impact! 

Spending so much on flowers. Originally, when planning our wedding budget, I told Drew that I wanted to spend the most money on the things that would be tangible after the wedding day: our attire, photos, video, etc. I wanted to save on the things that would die or be consumed and gone forever (so, flowers, food, cake, beverages, all that). But then I talked to Hillary. And told her my far-off wedding dreams. And she told me what my wedding COULD be. And all those initial budgetary plans went out the window. Drew and I got into a bit of a scuffle on the way to the mountains one weekend in January after I tried to convince him that we really did need to spend the largest portion of our wedding budget on flowers… But guess who won?! ME! Dahlias, garden roses, astilbe, orchids, and peonies, oh my!!!! Nothing "made" the decor or wedding day aesthetics quite like those stunning florals. The floral arch we stood in front of for the ceremony, and sat below at our sweetheart table…. the brightly colored bridesmaid bouquets…. the centerpieces in pink and green glassware Mom collected the months before our wedding…. Oh, every last detail Hillary put together was pure magic and romance. BEST DECISION EVER.

The only slice of cake we got to try all night... boo hoo! (At least it was SCRUMPTIOUS!)

The only slice of cake we got to try all night... boo hoo! (At least it was SCRUMPTIOUS!)

Prioritizing the cake. As much as I still weep inside at the thought of not getting to try two of the three flavors of wedding cake we served (boo hoo, pistachio cake with chocolate truffle ganache! sob sob sob, european butter cake with raspberry buttercream and lemon curd!), our whole cake was DAMN good. Dulce is the best, hands down. I know I'm opinionated. But seriously. It was gorgeous (simple design but stunning execution), and it was gooooooood. Exhibit A:  NOT A SINGLE SLICE WAS LEFT OVER. If there had been, I'd have murdered for it.

Opting for a cake-and-coffee reception rather than a full meal. Originally, we planned to serve a full dinner of chicken & waffles, mini sliders, all kinds of little delicious bites, fancy passed cherry sprites during cocktails and more. It was a lovely idea, but our horrible venue owner/in-house caterer was the world's worst business owner, and we didn't get an initial estimate until A MONTH before the wedding (despite begging for it for six months). Needless to say, we opted to NOT go with that caterer in the end. Instead, wedding fairy godmother Hillary saved the day by suggesting a coffee/espresso bar & dessert option, which ended up being fabulous and delicious and so perfectly "us." We had miniature pies, an ice cream bar, a salty & sweet bar with pretzels and nuts and chips, and, of course, our wedding cake and groom's cheesecakes. Beve Mobile Coffee provided iced and hot coffees and espressos (including a scrumptious raspberry shortbread cappuccino that I consumed copiously) and we even had coffee liqueurs for spiking them. It was such a lovely alternative. If we'd gone with a different venue we might have changed our mind about providing a meal (since we ourselves were starving after the wedding was over), but for the route we went, it was perfect.

Those raspberry shortbread cappuccinos were divine. I had, like, three throughout our reception! Thank God for a brand new husband who keeps me caffeinated!

Those raspberry shortbread cappuccinos were divine. I had, like, three throughout our reception! Thank God for a brand new husband who keeps me caffeinated!

Going to hot yoga for the final "fit in the dress" pre-wedding week! Hot yoga has always been a favorite of mine, and it was the perfect solution for my fears of not fitting into the gown. Stress relief + calorie burning + chill time… amazing. I did Fahrenheit Yoga Studio's $10 for 10 days unlimited deal (conveniently started the ten days prior to the wedding), and it was an awesome choice. My dress fit phenomenally, I was zen (if only for a little bit), and totally limber for maximum Wobbling on the dance floor.

I'm also glad we had so many seersucker details (so Southern, so lovely), made sure to incorporate a lot of family mementos (I wore Drew's mom's engagement ring, I had a getaway dress to change into (since my gown got super hot dancing -- and would've been hard to transport home once we got to the hotel),  a family bible was our guest book, we followed a lot of family traditions, etc), my parents made so much for the wedding (from cheesecakes to ring boxes and getting-ready robes, they were craftaholics), we had a sparkler exit (conveniently purchased from post-Fourth of July sales), that Drew's fraternity brothers serenaded me with the "Dream Girl" song, that I had THIRTY-something sorority sisters present…. oh, so many things I'm so happy with! Some favorite family members came from across the country (despite health issues and all kinds of things). All of it meant we were surrounded by love from every angle… such a special thing.

Serenaded by the men of Phi Kappa Tau. Swoon.

Serenaded by the men of Phi Kappa Tau. Swoon.

It's hard to believe that last year we were less than two weeks away from getting married! So much happens over the course of a year, and everybody tells you it flies by. Especially in comparison to how engagement drones on (Did anyone else feel like that was the second-longest year of their life, second only to the year WAITING to get engaged? Or is that just me?)... marriage flies by. I had been so tunnel-visioned throughout planning our wedding that I missed holidays and seasons and everything else just thinking about July 21st. This year we got to enjoy all those little moments, but they went by at record speed. I can only imagine the same will be said for Year Two. What will happen? Where will we be planning to live come next July? Will we have a new car? Will any of my friends have more babies (!!!!!) ?  Will we go on any more trips? Where will we travel to? By our next anniversary, Drew's brother will be married. How will that change (or not change) the dynamics of our family life? It's exciting to think about!

xoxo, KD

AKD Anniversary Month:: If I Could Do It All Over...

Sometimes, as a married woman who happens to plan weddings, people ask if I would do anything differently, given the chance to have a wedding "do-over." I obviously am madly in love with everything that my wedding ACTUALLY was (primarily because of my fantastic husband who would've made even the tiniest courthouse affair the most perfect wedding ever). But from a wiser, SLIGHTLY more grownup perspective, there are definitely things I would elect to do differently given the chance.

Take into consideration while planning your own nuptials!

If I got to marry DREW all over again, I might do these things differently:

our stunning invitation, designed by  hillary yeager

our stunning invitation, designed by hillary yeager

List out invitees clearly on my invitation envelopes. Despite the fact that I didn't go the traditional two-envelope route, I still opted to write out the invitees the formal way (i.e., only naming the formal head of the household) on my envelopes… Which resulted in VERY confused (and several displeased) family members and friends. People felt slighted or excluded even when I INTENDED to invite them, because I wasn't very clear on who exactly I was inviting. And some people even ended up bringing extras because they didn't get the picture, either. To avoid all that mess, I would definitely be clear and list out EVERYONE invited on each envelope if I did these over again!

End the evening at midnight rather than 11:15PM. While I was absolutely thrilled that our dance floor stayed packed until we departed, since we only started the wedding at 7PM, that meant the whole shebang was barely over 4 hours total. We didn't get to see as many people as we would've liked (I'd say we MAYBE saw 1/3 of the guests, total, all night!), and extending the hours might have allowed us a little more mingle time. [Note: As much as I would advise brides to invite fewer guests to avoid this dilemma, I'm a prime example of having so much family that it's virtually impossible to decrease the crazy Southern wedding guest list after all. So I empathize.]


Demand that a couple of slices of wedding cake be reserved for us to eat post-wedding. We didn't have a single slice of cake leftover from our reception, which made us so sad! We were starving by the end of the night and would've killed somebody for some cake. Instead, we ended up eating a $25 chicken club sandwich at the hotel from room service. BOO. I would DEFINITELY explicitly tell our coordinator to save us a few slices of cake if we did it all over again!

Host the wedding at Green Door Gourmet rather than The Livery Stables. Honesty time -- we had such a miserable experience with our wedding venue that we DEFINITELY would've paid a little more and had our wedding at a nicer barn (with WORKING air-conditioning) with nicer owners. I discovered Green Door Gourmet last week at a Nashville Wedding Planners Group meeting, and it would've been the perfect spot:  close enough to my parents' home for us to still get ready there, not terribly far from Nashville or the interstate, secluded enough to be private and picturesque… so many reasons that would've been better. Ah well!

Play something classic instead of "funny" for our special songs. I thought, for whatever reason, that "Pour Some Sugar On Me" was the perfect cake-cutting song. Turns out, it was kind of awkward and the intro is so long, you didn't even hear the sugar reference until long after the cake was cut. I think charming songs like "Wishin' and Hopin'," "Sugar Sugar," and "Runaround Sue" would've been a little more timeless for our tosses/cake cutting.

red lips + vintagey hairstyle? perfect for that mini do-over aftershoot!  Dove Wedding Photography

red lips + vintagey hairstyle? perfect for that mini do-over aftershoot! Dove Wedding Photography

Wear a darker pink lip color and a looser, more vintage-inspired updo. I had always wanted something classic and Grace Kelly-esque for my hair. While I love our wedding photos and the way I looked that night, I still think something more like my initial vision would've been stunning. And the lip color I wore was really pale pink -- not as beautiful and classic as I like. I'm such a red lipstick girl! [Note: We got to do a six-month-after shoot in January and I wore the red lips and vintage hair, so I did get my fill -- no worries.]

Make calligraphy table numbers rather than my glitter scrapbook paper DIY ones. Honestly, there wasn't remotely enough time to do all the projects I wanted for our wedding. Table numbers got demoted to week-of-the-wedding status, so two sweet bridesmaids saved my butt by making them for me the day before our rehearsal. Looking back, it would've been easier and less time-intensive to just print out some calligraphy font table numbers on pretty pearlized paper.


Spend a little money to have my servers wear pretty pink ties and little aprons a la Calder Clark weddings. Hillary, my wedding fairy godmother, had suggested this idea to me the month before our wedding, but at the time I just couldn't bear to spend more money on something superfluous. I definitely didn't mind that our servers wore traditional black and white attire, but it would've been a beautiful and cohesive element to have them match the color scheme. 

Choose a different scripture verse to be read during the ceremony. I wrote our ceremony script just a couple weeks before the wedding, and used several pre-made scripts to come up with everything. One of which was Snippet & Ink's ceremony, which had a scripture reading from Ruth that I copied and pasted, intending to change up once I talked to Drew and had his input. The opportunity to revise that never actually came up, so we just had our reader use that verse. Unfortunately, that verse happened to be very dark and mentioned the Lord doing "terrible things" to me if I ever leave my husband. Which I don't necessarily disagree with, but isn't the lighthearted, beautiful, lovely kind of scripture I'd have preferred to go with for our wedding ceremony. Whoops.

Serve LaMarca or Cupcake Prosecco instead of Korbel. Champagne was another low-priority item on the laundry list of wedding details. As someone who has, over the past year, developed a fine appreciation for good Prosecco and tasty sparkling wines, I cringe a little at the thought that we were toasting with Korbel. At least it was pink (to match the colors)…

the cocktail hour we missed (via a screenshot from wedding film footage!)

the cocktail hour we missed (via a screenshot from wedding film footage!)

Attend our cocktail hour rather than having a moment to ourselves upstairs. I know this is a little odd, but Drew and I are so social, we probably would've enjoyed hanging out with everyone and having a few more minutes to mingle than we did just hanging out alone upstairs. I didn't feel like we were split apart all evening (like some brides complain in hindsight), so I think that extra thirty minutes or so would've been nice to see our guests. We did get to spend eleven days in Mexico together the week after our wedding, anyways.

Only stay at our wedding night hotel on our actual wedding night.  We wanted to stay two nights since everyone advised us not to leave on our honeymoon until the Monday following our wedding (rather than the day immediately after). If we had actually slept in that Sunday morning, maybe it would've been worth it, but since we got up early to eat the complimentary fancy breakfast at our hotel, we were still exhausted and then bored once we had a full day to just hang out. (Our hotel didn't have a spa, pool, or anything really do besides lay around in bed all day.) We ended up getting Drew's dad to bring us a vehicle (since we were stranded) and then went over to my parents' place to pack the honeymoon necessities we forgot about and had dinner with family that was still in town before we spent the second night. It would've saved us a few hundred bucks to just stay with them that night. [Note: I know that sounds terribly unromantic and I promise I would've scoffed at myself if I'd read that before we got married, but seriously. A little extra time and money and not feeling guilty over "wasting" a perfectly good luxury hotel room in favor of seeing your family that is only in town for your wedding would've been legitimately worth the sacrifice. ESPECIALLY when you have an 11-day honeymoon starting the next day.]

Speaking of which, we'd also Only honeymoon for 6 days, total. So, I know what you're thinking. Really? She's complaining that her honeymoon was TOO LONG?! And that's not it.  Listen here -- we planned an 11-day honeymoon in Mexico (at two separate resorts). Which was SUCH a blessing, we were and are so grateful for that opportunity, and it was really a wonderful trip. HOWEVER. If we did it all over again, we would've cut the trip short to six days total, because that was the timeframe we enjoyed the trip the most. By Day 7, we were ready to go on back to Tennessee and get packed up and ready to move into our new home together. Unlike many other newlywed couples, Drew and I didn't live together prior to getting married, and we didn't even move any of our things into a new home until the DAY after we got back from Mexico. So as much as we wanted to just bask in the Mexican sun and chill and relax, the pressure starting rising as we got closer to our big move day. It would've been nice to have a couple of days at home to leisurely pack and get all ready to move (since we didn't do anything for it pre-wedding -- no time!) before just getting thrust into the craziest month of our lives immediately after an international late-night flight. And honestly, our second honeymoon resort experience (the last three days of our trip) was just absolutely horrific, so nothing could've made us WANT to stay there a day longer. No joke!

the wine box Daddy made

the wine box Daddy made

Write my wine box letter to Drew BEFORE the wedding. We did a wine box ritual during our ceremony, and sealed up letters to each other along with our bottle of wine to age. I procrastinated writing his letter until the morning of our wedding, which was a huge mistake. I didn't get to put in all the time and love and MEANING that I would've preferred to, since I was trying to rush to get it written before my hair & makeup started. Struggle. At least he got something I wrote on our actual wedding day, I guess!

On that note, I also would Create my seating chart and finish escort cards before the wedding day. Why did I procrastinate everything? Maybe it was that people were still calling me THE DAY OF OUR WEDDING to change their RSVPs and ask to add their plus-one's (AHEM), but I didn't get around to finishing making our escort cards or seating chart until NOON of our wedding day. I snapped at a bridesmaid that morning I was so on-edge from trying to get everything done last-minute. What a struggle bride.

So, with all that said, I really wouldn't change a thing. (Ok so yes I obviously would, but you know what I mean.) Just because I would do a couple things more efficiently/timelessly/grown-up a year later doesn't mean our wedding wasn't 1,000% perfect and stunning and lovely and makes me weep watching our video a year later. I have eighty zillion wedding photos framed ALL OVER OUR HOUSE that attest to how much I'm obsessed with it. I just wanted to say these things to give you fabby brides a little insight from my own personal experience and hopefully grant you a little wisdom in making your own wedding planning decisions.

As an added bonus, here are just a couple more funny "oops" moments of ours that will ensure you that SOMETHING will go wrong on your wedding day but it's really okay:

the stays staying put in daddy's jacket -- ha!

the stays staying put in daddy's jacket -- ha!

1. I'd cut my father's suit jacket stays, since they were still stitched in our whole wedding day!

2. I'd remind Mom to pick up (my niece) Poppy on her descent down the aisle, since she forgot to grab her!

3. I'd make my brother-in-law set eighty alarms that morning so he wouldn't have MISSED HIS FLIGHT to our wedding. (He didn't make it. My sister/MOH was NOT happy.)


4. I'd hot glue my cake topper groom Ken (of Barbie & Ken fame) to his sturdy base, since he kept falling off all wedding day long when my coordinator stuck him into the frosting by just his feet.

5. I'd have worn some kind of non-scented (or at least nice-smelling, if that exists) bug spray before stepping into my wedding dress. I had the HUGEST welts on my arms and back from the insane Tennessee summer mosquitos just from taking photos with Drew for our first look, and it took icing them down for twenty minutes before the ceremony to even get them to look somewhat okay. (You can totally see them in our video. It's so gross!) YIKES!

It's y'all's turn now! Married folks, what would you do differently if you could marry your spouse all over again?! Would you do the whole thing differently, new color scheme and gown and details? Or were there just little things that would've made it more personal/sweet/fun? Weigh in below! :)