Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year!

We at Grace Leisure Events want to take a moment to thank all of our clients and friends for making 2009 such a wonderful, full, interesting, challenging, and fun year for our company. We are so grateful to have worked with so many fantastic brides and families and hope to stay in touch with you all for a long time to come.

For those of you with whom we are working right now, we are really looking forward to your weddings and events in 2010. It is sure to be an unforgettable year, full of surprises and many happy occasions.

We thank you again for choosing to work with Grace Leisure Events. We appreciate you so much and look forward to many more memorable times together. Wishing you and yours all the best for 2010!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Day Planning Projects

There comes a time during every bride's wedding planning when she comes to a screeching halt and has nothing to do. You know what I mean: your vendors are booked, your venue is secured, your save the dates are in the mail, you have months before you need to mail your invitations, and you've already chosen your gown and selected your colors, flowers and bridesmaid dresses. What to do now?

My best advice is to make the most of this so-called "down time", and get some things done that you may not feel like doing, but that you'll be glad to have crossed off the To Do list once the final two months roll around and you feel as if the infamous list is absolutely endless. Let me give you some ideas for how you Summer (and even Spring and Fall) brides can make good use of all of these snow days and free time on your hands (never mind the presents you have to wrap and parties you need to attend...there's always time for those things!).

*Get a leg up on your ceremony programs. Select your readings, readers, and start mapping out the actual ceremony program. Set a meeting with your officiant. Get your "order of service" hammered out and start typing it up. Begin looking at different styles of ceremony programs and thinking about what kind you want to have. You may not need to print these until about a month before once everything is finalized, but this is the perfect time to get to work on a project that can be very time consuming. You'd be surprised how difficult it is to get the entire wedding party spelled correctly - not to mention the pieces of music!

*Choose your menu. Read magazines, look online, visit your caterer's website (and those of other caterers and venues as well) to glean ideas and inspiration. Even better, go out for dinner and get some great advice from your friend the foodie as to how to put together a tasty, seasonal, lovely menu that is appropriate for your budget and your affair. The last thing you want to be doing one month before your wedding is trying to decide whether to have asparagus or haricots vert, sea bass or catch my drift.

*Along the same lines, get working on selecting your wine choices. If you don't know much about wine, there are plenty of people out there to help you. Visit your local boutique wine shop or wine bar and get talking to the gregarious and knowledgeable men and women behind the counter. After all, they've spent most of their adult lives studying and drinking wine and most importantly, pairing it with food. Use their expertise to your advantage!

*If you're having a seated dinner, get your guest list in order for your calligrapher. That means having a clean, easy to read spreadsheet of names for your escort cards as well as your place cards, if you are having those as well.
-For escort cards, you will need to have each couple's full name.
For example: Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Scott Beason.
-For place cards, you need to have each person's full name.
For example: Grace L.P. Beason (no pronoun necessary).
-If you are using a calligrapher, they may be able to give you a template from which to work.
-If you are using an online service such as they will explain to you what they need from you.
-If you happen to be writing them yourself, you will need a clear and easy to read spreadsheet to work from.
-Make this list alphabetical. This will come very much in handy on the wedding day when people are trying to find their seats. Despite your hard work on creating your escort cards, some people inevitably need some direction and your "alpha" list will help your planner or catering director lead them to their table in a very quick and efficient way. This is a tedious and arduous process and you will be very glad if you have it finished long before the calligrapher (or whomever is writing the cards) needs it. It's never too early to start - once your RSVPs start rolling in, that is...

*You've heard this one before, but buy your wedding day shoes and wear them, wear them, wear them! I'm not talking about walking to work in them, but I am suggesting that you come home each day and wear them around while you are putting away your laundry, checking your email, or writing thank you notes (not while you are cooking dinner). The more you wear them (while keeping them clean), the more your feet will thank you on your wedding day. I don't care if you have the best made pair of Louboutins - they still hurt after 8 hours when they've never before met your feet. Trust me on this one!

These should keep you busy for at least a day or two! I'll come up with some more in the weeks to come. Not to worry, you won't feel any let down from the holidays with how busy you can keep yourself with your wedding planning. You'll be such an efficient bride, making such good use of your time. Martha - and her infamous To Do list - would be proud!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jessica and Shahid: Tradition With A Twist

Soooo sorry for my long absence. It seems I fell prey to the swine flu, or something similar, and have been in bed for nearly a week! Before that I was lucky enough to spend a few days in NYC to babysit my scrumptious niece. There's nothing like New York this time of year. It's just so darn festive and can't help but put you in the holiday spirit - swine flu or not!

I want to share a few more photos from the wedding we did in October at the Nasher Museum of Contemporary Art here in Durham. The wedding was a melting of two cultures: Indian and Chinese. Elements from each culture were infused in each part of the ceremony and reception with clothing, readings, music, colors, menu, ceremonies, and more. Rarely do I have the opportunity to be a part of a wedding where I learn so much about new cultures and traditions and I loved every minute of it. My eyes were wide open during the 10 month planning process and most especially during the wedding weekend itself. It was inspiring, educational, touching, and drop-dead gorgeous (if I do say so myself). Here's some more eye candy to feast on. I absolutely adore this couple and hope you will love looking over these photos, but also get some inspiration from their colorful, joyful, family-oriented and tradition-filled affair. Enjoy!
*All photos are by the lovely and talented Mr. Kevin Milz of Kevin Milz Photography.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shelley & Andy's Autumn Affair

Halloween didn't stop Shelley and Andy from knowing that October 31st was their day to tie the knot! Pushing pumpkins aside, they opted instead for an elegant Autumnal Affair complete with lavish centerpieces in greens, oranges, and golds, stunning chandeliers, a decadent cake, and music from their own personal library including everything from Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" to popular hip hop that got the entire crowd on the dance floor.

Here are some beautiful images taken by David Watson of Get Lit Lighting to give you a good idea for how to do Halloween in a classy, non-themey way.
Shelley and Andy selected a long head table with the wedding party seated on both sides - 16 in total. It gave great balance to the room as well as variety, as all of the other tables were 60" rounds to seat 8 or 9 guests.The chandeliers that were hung in American Tobacco's Bay 7 space especially for Shelley and Andy added a romantic feel and along with the specially installed up-lighting, created a warm and romantic mood. The Catering Company's fabulous decor team provided the chandeliers and additional draping.
The lovely cake from Sweet Memories Bakery tasted just as good as it looked. I was lucky enough to get a piece after a long day of running around! Donna Ford's sugary goodness gave me that last push I needed to stay full of energy throughout the evening.
The cloths look pale gold in these images, but were actually a beautiful pale green with circular details and the napkins and accents were a deep rust, as you can see here. The amazing floral centerpieces were done by Ninth Street Flowers.
Here's another shot of the tables and the room. The luxurious linens and beautiful chairs (as well as all of the other rentals) came from the fabulous CE Rental in Raleigh. DJ Brian Clonaris of EE Productions did a fantastic job keeping people partying, and The Catering Company of Chapel Hill was as always on their game and produced a flawless served dinner for nearly 200 guests.

Congratulations Shelley and Andy! Thank you for choosing to share your lovely North Carolina Autumn Affair with Grace Leisure Events.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Best Wedding!

We are so proud and happy to announce that at last week's NACE Golden Whisk Awards Gala, Grace Leisure Events won the award for Best Wedding of 2009! We are so happy and excited and grateful to our peers for choosing us for this honor. Thank you!

Here is a link to images from the event, which unfortunately we had to miss due to a MUCH needed weekend in South Beach with our hubby...

And here is a link to the fabulous wedding for which we won best wedding! Images are by Rachel Garrison of Tamara Lackey Photography. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Night At The Museum

These are photos from an October 3rd wedding we did in Durham at the Nasher Museum of Contemporary Art for a fabulous couple named Jessica and Shahid. They combined Chinese and Indian cultures and families to create a wedding that was colorful, classy, and downright FUN.
Take note of the Cerise Satin linens from CE Rentals in Raleigh....SOOOO luxe!
Fresh Affairs created bold and unusual centerpieces of gold painted Monestera leaves in tall vases. The look was minimal but oh so chic and stunning against the bright pink of the table tops. Places were set with gold napkins, bright green chopsticks and custom menu cards, and the gold chairs had coordinating gold seat cushion covers.
David Watson of Get Lit Lighting did beautiful uplighting around the room as well as Chinese lanterns in the center of the space over the dance floor. He topped is all off with a Gobo light on the dance floor of the Chinese symbol for "Double Happiness". Thanks to David for all of these photos, as well.
I will post more photos later so you can see the beautiful bridesmaids in their absolutely breathtaking jewel-toned Saris! Congratulations to Jessica and Shahid on a beautiful day and what I know will be a lifelong happy marriage.


My Team

I just received this beautiful photo from the fabulous Rachel Garrison of Tamara Lackey Photographers, taken on September 26th at the wedding of Caitlin and Kevin King at the Washington Duke Inn (images to follow!).

This photo is of me and my two wonderful assistants, Alex and Katherine. I could not do it without them! They help keep me sane and are incredibly helpful with coordinating the "day of" details such as making sure that the transportation runs on time, that the escort cards are organized perfectly, and that the bridesmaids are well taken care of. They help do a lot of the behind the scenes things that I simply can't do sometimes because I am off doing other things...or really, managing all of the myriad details that go into creating a wedding weekend.

My Alex and Katherine are a reminder that it takes many to accomplish any wedding. No florist, photographer, band leader, catering director, lighting/decor designer or cake baker works alone. You know how they say that behind every good man is a good woman? Well, behind every wedding professional is a team. I can tell you that first hand. I am ever so grateful for their consistent, diligent, detailed and hard work and want you to know that it does indeed take a village to make these things go off without a hitch. I'm so lucky to have such a fabulous team and so of course, I think my clients are lucky to have them, too!

We're off for another big wedding weekend, this time on the gorgeous Figure Eight Island. We'll post some photos of this fall's weddings just as soon as we get copies. They have been many and diverse and I am really proud of all of our hard work. Thanks for checking in to see what we've been up to!


Friday, October 23, 2009

A Tradition Is What You Make It

I hope you all are enjoying October and the fall thus far! This month always makes me incredibly, painfully nostalgic for college at Kenyon; the very, very special spot in central Ohio where I spent four years, met my husband, sang my heart out (oh yes, a capella group style...) and learned how to throw parties with the best of them. Seriously, some of the best soirees I've ever been to were during those four years at Kenyon College.

People were so creative, it was ridiculous! Must have been something in the corn-filled air or in the food at the dining hall or in the beer in the keg...I don't know. But I do know that some of the most outrageous ideas I've ever seen came straight from The Hill, as we fondly call it. For example: The "Shock Your Mama" party - where you might just see someone dressed in Saran Wrap. Or the "Redhead Party" - where everyone arrived with red hair - real and fake - and feasted on red food and Killian's Red. Or, my personal favorite, the "Luge Party" - where we built a luge from a 500 pound block of ice IN our bathroom and served a delectable array of juices and potions that you would drink in tandem from one of the two handmade trails down the ice. Sounds like fun, right? I'd be up for one of these parties tonight - if only they didn't start about 3 hours past my current bed time. :)

There are so many ways that you can take inspiration from college or another special part of your life and incorporate it into your wedding or special event. For instance, we had an event at Kenyon called "Freshman Sing" where all of the Freshmen would stand on a set of stairs outside and sing all of the dozens of school songs while the rest of the school would cheer (or jeer) us on. We would then do this again as Seniors - an emotional and nostalgic nod to our time as naive first year students.

Why not have a sing along at your event? This does not only need to be reserved for holiday parties. One of *the best* wedding ideas I heard lately was from a producer in LA who I worked with last winter who told me that she handed out sheet music to her guests and had everyone since a rousing rendition together of "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life". How cute is that? Now that's a wedding moment people will not forget any time soon.

Traditions come in many shapes and sizes. At Kenyon, it seemed there was a tradition for just about everything. My family was always full of traditions so this felt natural to me, but at the same time definitely pushed me to maintain and create traditions in my own life and family - things that can be carried on for years to come. You may create a tradition at your wedding or event that you decide to do every year on that day. A tradition is what you make it. If it means something to you and is relevant to a special moment in time, there's no reason why you can't carry it on, give it a name, and make sure that it lasts a lifetime. Now off to buy a block of ice...


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

September Bliss

Hi All!

I apologize for my delay in posting photos from this fall's weddings. I've been very busy planning and coordinating and not taking time out for this little blog of mine. Alas, here are some gorgeous photos taken by David Watson of Get Lit Lighting of the lovely and elegant wedding of Kristen & Blake that took place on September 19th.

The wedding ceremony was at St. Mary's Chapel in Raleigh and the reception (see photos) at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary. A beautiful wedding for a wonderful couple who could not have been sweeter or more gracious - I miss them already! Enjoy and hopefully I'll have more to come soon of the bride in her stunning gown and of more of the day and details.

Special thanks for a fabulous wedding to Sondra Johnstone at Prestonwood, JW Walton and The Catering Company decor team, David Watson for lighting, Party Tables, CE Rental and Classic Party Rentals for linens and rentals, Fresh Affairs for spectacular flowers, and my helpers Katherine and Alex for their amazing work.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cheeky Chic

Check out the new Blog by one of my favorite gals, Lindsey "Fifi" Cheek, for all things fashion, weddings, home furnishings, and just generally gorgeous things to covet. She has exquisite taste and an an incredible penchant for finding treasures worth absolutely drooling over.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Be Where You Are

Fall wedding season is upon us and that means that many of you have your weddings coming up soon! And that means that you could probably use a little pep talk - am I right?

I've been planning weddings over a decade now and while that pales in comparison to the careers of some of my mentors and other who inspire me, it is long enough to have a lot of real life experience in the trenches under my bedazzled belt. Well, all of this experience would be for nought if I didn't have YOU to share it with!

I hope that these little gems that I provide here and there can help you to relax a bit more, enjoy a lot more, and most importantly, to be in the moment. One of my favorite sayings is "Be where you are". It's so simple, yet something that we all forget to remember and struggle to achieve. If you can be where you are, at your wedding, you will undoubtedly have a time to remember. In order to do this, you have to remember one of the other great phrases of all time: "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff". And even more important to remember, it's all small stuff.

So, here goes - my fall "play list" for how to get the most out of your wedding day:
  • Wear your shoes around the house every evening for at least a week before your wedding'll thank me, and so will your feet.
  • If you don't have a planner, make sure you double and triple check your transportation plans. These are so often the plans that get lost in the mix and most often are the plans that go wrong. Assign a friend or family member to be in charge of the transportation on your wedding day. Have them get the names and cell phone number for the drivers. (For what it's worth, transportation details alone are a fabulous reason to hire a "day of" coordinator!).
  • Remember that if you absolutely hate calla lilies and one accidentally makes it into your bridal bouquet, that it's not the end of the world, your bouquet is still gorgeous, and your mascara will run if you start to cry.
  • Do your best to drink a glass of water in between cocktails at the rehearsal dinner. The stress and emotion of your wedding day is enough to handle sober and with a good night's sleep - a hangover can help to turn mole hills into mountains.
  • Be sure you get ALL of the power requirements for the band, DJ, generator, and anything else that requires power at your venue, ahead of time. An impromptu power outage can really put a damper on things.
  • Outdoor ceremonies and receptions: Rain plan, rain plan, rain plan.
  • Weight gain: Spanx, Spanx, Spanx.
  • After your father (or other family member) makes the welcome toast, do not let him/her release the microphone for open toasting. It's inappropriate to do this at the start of the night (or at the wedding in general - that's what the rehearsal dinner is for), and can really hold up the service of the meal - not matter whether a sit down, buffet, or stations. Nobody wants a flustered catering staff and starving guests eating cold petite filet.
  • Have someone bring your overnight bags to the hotel early in the day. You don't want to wind up at the hotel with nothing to wear the next day except a day-old tuxedo and wedding dress!
  • Making a Do Not Play list for the band or DJ is just as important as a Must Play list.
  • Remind family members ahead of time if they are to remain at the ceremony spot for photos after the ceremony. This saves a lot of time and running around trying to gather people for formal photos, which in turn means more time for you to enjoy the cocktail hour!
  • For the love of you-know-who, do not smash cake in your darling's face. This is your wedding, not a scene from Meatballs.
  • When all else fails, and if everything does fail, SMILE. You know what I always say: the only thing that people will remember is a stressed out bride.

P.S. Thanks to Shane Snider for the gorgeous photo of Whitney and Ben.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Recipe For Success

Building a beautiful and successful event is like following a recipe of your own creation. You have to take it step by step, add just the right ingredients, and you'll come up with the most delicious dish you've ever tasted. The fun part is that the ingredients are largely up to you. While you do have to focus on things that are "mandatory" like selecting vendors, a venue, perhaps booking transportation, hotel blocks, and doing other mundane wedding tasks, the icing that is the design, decor, look, feel, and flow of the event, are all in your hands.
The recipe is made up of gorgeous linens...
Some kind of beautiful chairs with coordinating seat cushion covers and and maybe even a decorative and lovely charger plate...
A napkin to match and flatware and glassware that suits your style perfectly...
Unexpected touches like a patterned gold cloth on the bistro tables near the dance floor where revelers will rest their drinks...
And a color palette that suits your space and complements your individual style. Your wedding is your opportunity to highlight the design elements that you are drawn to. And while it's not a time to showcase everything you ever liked together in one room, if you take the time and care to extract certain elements of style that appeal to you greatly and above all, work in concert with each other, you will have created a recipe for an unforgettable affair.

P.S. Thanks to CE Rental and Classic Party Rentals, both of Raleigh, NC, for the fabulous linens, chargers, chairs, and other rental items.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

You Can Count On Me

Besides being a fantastic movie, I also think that "You Can Count On Me" is one of the greatest movie titles ever. And while Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney play a brother and sister who look after each other, the phrase always makes me think of my girlfriends. Where would we be without our friends?

Being a bridesmaid in a close friend's wedding is one of the ultimate experiences one can have. Certainly a lot of us have experiences of being bridesmaids for family or one of 14 for a high school friend or get roped into handing out programs for a family friend we barely know, but there is nothing like being asked to be in the wedding party of someone whom you dearly love.

This photo arrived this week on a CD from Scott Robert Photography of Los Angeles, who shot the wedding of Milyeri and Neil that took place in Durham this March 7th. I find this photo so sweet because you can see how excited she is, how enthusiastic her friends are, and above all, how they are helping her on her big day.

Let's not make light of it: being a bride is stressful. Being a bridesmaid shouldn't be. We've all seen the parody on YouTube of the bride cutting her hair off in a moment of hysteria. Sure, it was a farce, but don't think I haven't witnessed something very similar to that episode in person only moments before a bride went down the aisle. There is a lot of pressure around being a bride and that is why brides (for the most part) choose their wedding parties carefully, and surround themselves with people on whom they can rely.

I'll never forget being asked to be a bridesmaid for the first time by my good college friend named Suzy. I was so excited and honored and couldn't wait to share my great news and good fortune with a couple of co-workers at The Knot. The two women I chose to tell were 30 somethings, who I imagined would understand my elation and be willing to do a dance of joy with me around the office to celebrate my wonderful news. Instead, they offered up terse quips about how they'd "been a bridesmaid 10 times and it's a pain in the ass" and how I'd "get over" my excitement soon enough and how it's "expensive", "time consuming" and "a drag". Weren't these people wedding professionals? I was heartbroken.

That said, I carried on my merry way and maintained my elation at my big duty all through the gorgeous wedding day at the Charleston Yacht Club. Suzy made me a bridesmaid for the first time and I'll never forget it. She is about to celebrate her 10th anniversary, and I can still remember how I felt at 23 in that dress and with those flowers. I felt special.

Being asked to be a bridesmaid is an honor. It's not something to whine about or complain about or gossip about with other friends who haven't been asked because believe me when I say, they often wish they had been. Being an attendant to your friend on the most important day of her life is a privilege and a joy, and I really hope you can enjoy it each time as much as I did the first time I walked down that aisle ahead of my friend. As a veteran of 11 bridesmaid experiences, I can tell you that each was unique, wonderful, and beyond memorable. But I wish I'd spent half as much time complaining about the cost of the dress or how my butt looked in it, and instead focused entirely on the good luck I had to have some of the most generous, supportive, loving, gorgeous, wonderful friends on the planet - and who without a doubt had weddings to match. I love them all to the moon and back and would walk down that aisle again for them in a heartbeat, too tight $350 dress and all. Wouldn't you?


Livi & Jeremy 8.8.09

We were fortunate to be a part of Livi and Jeremy's gorgeous Carolina wedding last Saturday at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill. Livi and I met nearly four years ago in our Junior League Provisional Class in Durham. (I was a fair weather Junior Leaguer and didn't make it past a year or so...don't know if Livi had more success with it!). Jeremy was a golfer at Carolina undergrad. Together they make a beautiful, fun, and unforgettable couple.

We'll have some photos to post soon but in the meantime check out this link to the trailer for their wedding video, as shot by KA Studios of Charlotte. Keith and Aimee are amazing wedding videographers and an absolute pleasure to work with. Thanks also to Tamara and Courtney of Tamara Lackey Photography, the Jamie McLean Band, the Purple Puddle, Corda Entertainment, Capital Style Limousine, and of course, Julie McCay and all of the fabulous staff at the Carolina Inn.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

So Yesterday

Check out my hero and mentor Marcy Blum's fabulous and hilarious new blog posting about wedding trends that are uncool, not classy, and just so yesterday. I'll say it again: I learned from the best!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Loving Laura James

I have a new jewelry obsession, and it's all things Laura James. Laura James is a fabulous jewelry designer based in Charlotte, NC and happens to be the cousin of a good friend of mine. She creates absolutely perfect pieces for spicing up a LBD (see over sized Vintage Cocktail Rings, also seen on Gossip Girl!) or for giving to your bridesmaids as a gift for being a part of your special day.

Check out the Stamped Initial Necklace in the Personalized section of her site. These necklaces are lovely, simple, personal, and the right price. I am currently lobbying for a double stamped necklace for my 4th wedding anniversary on August 6th. Matthew, are you reading this?


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Style Me Pretty

You've probably already discovered the fabulous blog, Style Me Pretty, but just in case you are new to it, take a look:

Abby Larson has created one of the most coveted and complete go-to spots online for brides that is stylish, sophisticated, fresh, fun and always beautiful - all things we LOVE! We are fortunate and grateful to be a part of SMP's "Little Black Book" of preferred wedding vendors. Check out our listing here and go spend some time perusing Style Me'll learn a lot and leave inspired.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One of my favorite ceremony readings

I was just reminded of one of my very favorite ceremony readings. I love e.e. cummings.
What do you think is a great poem or reading for a wedding ceremony?

i carry your heart - e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Watch Grace on the CW's "Hitched or Ditched"!

Hello Friends,

Here is a link to the CW Network's site where you can watch full episodes of their shows. The new wedding reality show that I was a part of, "Hitched or Ditched", aired on June 30th and you can now view it here! The title of the episode in which I appear is "The White Devil". Enjoy...and let me know what you think!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Andrea & Casey Go To "The Chapel"

I am officially a self-diagnosed lazy blogger. I did take some time in June to go back to Colorado to see my family, but not an entire month! I'm sorry for the delay in getting some new content on here. Better late than never, right? Here are some photos from the wedding of Andrea Taylor and Casey Tuttle (not The Tuttles) in Durham on June 12th. Let me tell you something: I heart New York, I heart Local Yogurt, I heart my husband and dog, and I heart Andrea and Casey. They are so cute! And besides being cute and desperately in love and now married after 10 long years together, they are stylish, hip, fun, and spontaneous. I thought college frat parties were should have been at their wedding!

A photo of their elegant cake from Sweet Memories, covered in a lace design mimicking the lace on Andrea's Vera Wang Chantilly lace gown.
Catering and decor by The Catering Company of Chapel Hill. This was a really different look for the Doris Duke Center at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham; a briht chartreuse curtain hung from the ceiling covering one of the entry doors, and created an inspired private nook for the bride and groom's table, replete with its own chandelier.
A view of the terrace and some of the other sexy and chic chandeliers provided by The Catering Company. Fabulous linens by Party Tables Linens in Durham included Bertani Key Lime, Bertani Noir, Cranberry, and Kali Mah.
What do we love...a lounge area!!!
Beautiful flowers by the ladies of Tre Bella. I absolutely adore the pomander of "Kermit" button mums for the flower girl. So fresh and adorable! (And let me also just mention the fantastic DJ Ken from Joe Bunn DJ Company and the wonderful cars and drivers from Capital Style Limousine...)

Casey and Andrea expressed their personal and wedding style to me and many other vendors over the year+ during which they planned their wedding, then put their fate in the hands of the professionals. Andrea is full of grace and has a distinct personal style, but also has great trust in her friends, family and those she hired to create her unforgettable wedding. What I heard the most out of her was "I trust you to do what's best". What this did for me was make me want to work even harder for Andrea, to make her wedding something that would make her proud and happy. I think that we succeeded and hope that she and Casey do, too!

I'll try and post a link to their wedding from the photographer, Tom Edwards of New Image Studio, so you can see some more of the wedding as well as of Andrea's gorgeous gown and late night vintage-inspired party dress. I will not forget this wedding any time soon! I'll miss working with you, but hope we'll be friends for a long time to come. Thanks for spicing up my summer, you two. XOXO

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wedding Wellness

Here we are in full swing of the spring and summer wedding season, and so I thought this would be a good time to give you some helpful hints as to how to actually be present at and experience your own wedding and not just be hyper focused on details, details, details until the end. Don't you want to enjoy what you've worked so hard for? Here are some ideas for how to cut the stress so you can increase the fun. Remember what I always say: the only thing your guests will remember is a stressed out bride.

-If you haven't had a wedding planner throughout your planning process, now is a great time to splurge (if you can fit it into your budget) and spend anywhere from $800 to $2,500 on a good "Day Of" coordinator, depending on your needs.
-If a Day Of Coordinator is not in the budge, spend $300-$600 having someone coordinate just your ceremony, if you don't have someone at your ceremony venue that comes with the package.
-If you have a church (or elsewhere) coordinator and don't have the budget for a Day Of Coordinator, make sure you make a complete wedding day timeline for the head of food and beverage and go over it with him or her in detail. They will be your de facto coordinator on your wedding day.
-Get some good nights' sleep! For goodness sake, put down the seating charts and REST. You don't want bags under your eyes or to be snapping at everyone over every little thing because you are tired. Crabiness from exhaustion does not go away just because you're not a baby.
-In the same vein, drink plenty of water. You'll flush out your system and feel healthy, it will give you more energy, and it will make your skin glow.
-Try and get every errand run and go over every last detail so that you can let go of your wedding on the Wednesday before (or three days before, depending) and trust the experts. You may think I am crazy for suggesting this but if you've planned well, this is possible. And you will be so thankful you did!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

GLE Featured in Southern Weddings Blog!

We are so honored to be included in the feature on the Southern Weddings Magazine blog about Paige and Brandon Goodwin's March 14th wedding in Durham. Congratulations again Paige and Brandon, and thank you so much to Tracy Turpen for taking such amazing photos!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Will they or won't they?

Friendly reminder: watch the first of two Charlotte weddings planned by Grace and Ivy Robinson of Ivy Robinson Weddings & Events on the premier of the new CW Network wedding reality show, "Hitched or Ditched". Airs tonight at 9pm Eastern. The second Charlotte wedding will air on June 30th so set your DVRs!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Frozen Yogurt Anyone?

Ladies and presenting...LOCAL YOGURT!!!

I am proud and excited to say that my latest venture has now opened, Local Yogurt.

Local Yogurt is Durham, North Carolina's first locally owned, independent frozen yogurt shop featuring the tart, creamy, plain flavor of yogurt that pinkberry has made famous (think yummy real yogurt, frozen), along with three other regularly rotating flavors (we have chocolate, peanut butter, and coffee right now) and a host of toppings including fresh mango, berries, and banana, as well as various candies and cereal you loved when you were a kid such as Fruity Pebbles, Cap N' Crunch, and Golden Grahams.

Local Yogurt has been a dream of mine for several years and I have been lucky enough to open it with a very good friend (who shall remain a nameless, faceless yogurt lover to the public), Ted Domville (the chef at, and my darling husband, Matthew.

Visit us online at and please, if you're in the area or driving or flying through, come see us in person and get some natural, low fat, low calorie, DELICIOUS frozen yogurt made with real yogurt. It's locally owned and operated and we will feature a local topping of the month (think Foster's cookies, Dali Mama chocolate, 9th Street Bakery granola, etc.).

*localyogurt * good & good for you
* natural frozen yogurt. fresh & fun toppings *

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"The Ultimate Ultimatum"

Hey reality tv lovers...

Here is a new, more complete link to "Hitched or Ditched", the CW wedding reality show that is going to air this month!

My two episodes will take place on May 26th and June 30th.

Tune in and then let me know what you think!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hiched or Ditched?

This winter I had the opportunity to shoot two episodes of a new wedding reality TV show for the CW Network. Three months later, I just got word that "Hitched or Ditched" will air on Tuesday, May 26th and run through June 30th! It was such a crazy, fun, wild, interesting, and exhausting experience (not to mention hilarious at times) that I cannot WAIT to see how it all plays out on TV and once it's been edited.

The show revolves around couples who have been dating for a long time and for one reason or another have not yet gotten married. The couples are surprised with a dream wedding and, this being reality TV, are faced with a lot of drama and decisions regarding their upcoming nuptials. I was lucky enough to plan the two Charlotte weddings along with my friend, Ivy Robinson. While we planned both weddings together, you will see her on camera with one couple, and me with the other. Will they or won't they? Tune in to find out!

Here is a teaser that the CW posted on Facebook:

Charlotte- May 26th
Boston-June 2nd
San Diego-June 9th
New Jersey- June 16th
Chicago-June 23rd
Charlotte- June 30th

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Springtime in North Carolina

I had the wonderful opportunity to assist with the "day of" Paige Sparkman and Brandon Goodwin's wedding in March. Paige and her mom Cy had done the majority of the planning, and I helped them to pull together the final details so that the weekend of the wedding would run smoothly and they could relax.

I always say that the one thing we cannot control is the weather. The Sparkman-Goodwin wedding was, unfortunately, a prime example of this. While it had been 75 and sunny here in Durham the week prior, it was about 35, bitter cold and rainy for this wedding weekend. A lot of brides would have cracked under the pressure of this - an outdoor cocktail reception at the rehearsal dinner, having to walk under an umbrella in her dress from the car to the Chapel and back, but not Paige. She was a consummate lady who shrugged off the inconvenience of it, brushed off her shoulders, and did not let the soggy weather dampen her spirits.

After all, you are getting married, not weddinged. If you stay focused on what you are doing and not how, then looking at the smiling, loving faces of your friends, family and sweetie, and feeling the support and enthusiasm around you will always triumph over bad weather. And what do I always say: despite your immaculate planning, the only thing anyone will remember is a stressed out bride.

It was my first time working with the photographer Tracy Turpen out of Charleston, and I loved her and her husband Lance. Enjoy the fabulous slide show she put together, and also check out
her website sometime - her photos are stunning. Thanks Tracy, and thank you to the Sparkmans and Goodwins for having me be a part of such a very special and beautiful weekend. You reminded me of the ingredients necessary for an unforgettable wedding: unconditional love, a good sense of humor, wonderful friends, great organization with a touch of irreverence, and a lot of go-with-the-flow attitude.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Purple Passion Part Deux: Gelato Bar

Instead of a wedding cake, Milyeri wanted to have a fun and delicious, interactive and SWEET marble slab gelato bar. After dinner, guests got up from their seats to go to the counter and place their dessert orders with one of the purple apron-clad servers.

The gelato was served from an authentic ice cream service cart, courtesy of Sugarland in Chapel Hill, NC.
Guests could choose from the variety of gelato flavors and toppings offered, which were then mixed together on top of the cold, marble counter top and then served in custom stamped white cups with purple spoons, of course!

Toppings included rich chocolate brownie bites, fresh whipped cream, walnuts, fresh fruit, and house made waffle cone cups.
If anyone needed a little inspiration, they could select one of the three concoctions created by the bride herself, which incorporated her favorite flavors and toppings, as well as those of her groom and her mom.

How sweet it is! And how original, too.