Bridesmaid Dresses Made Easy

I’m pretty sure that 9 out of 10 bridesmaids hate their bridesmaid dress.  That’s right, they hate it and say terrible things about it, but grin and go with it to appease the Bride.  (I totally made that statistic up, but I’m pretty sure it’s legit.)  Everyone has a different style.  Everyone has a different body type.  And everyone likes different colors.  It’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just the way it is.  Luckily there are a few things every bride can do to be considerate of their bridesmaids’ wishes. And the good news is, I hear more and more brides talking about how they want to let their bridesmaids select their own style or color within a few options!

It can be a tall order to find a bridesmaid dress that is both affordable and universally flattering.  You want your bridesmaids to look and feel beautiful as well as fit within the vision you have for your wedding day.  There are several ways to go about selecting bridesmaids’ dresses and a multitude of places to buy them.  See below for some suggestions on both topics.

General considerations

First and foremost, decide how much input you want from others on the dress selection.  There is a continuum of positions you can take, all the way from taking total control to giving your bridesmaids total freedom.  You’ll probably want to be somewhere between these two.  If you get input from others make sure they consider your event as a whole instead of just the dress.  Share event design pins and describe the venue and vibe so they can make educated suggestions.  It can also be helpful to narrow your search to a few options then ask for input.   Know that a consensus may be difficult to reach when you get the input of your bridesmaids.

Be practical and rational as you narrow your search.  Your bridesmaids’ dresses should go with the look and feel of the rest of your event.  Refer to your event color palette, flower selections and venue details for inspiration.  Consider the activities, weather, venue/setting, schedule and event vibe as you decide of the length, color, fabric and style of the dress.  For example, if you’re have a summer wedding choose light-weight, airy fabrics and a short length dress.  As another example, have your bridesmaids wear wedges or flats and a short dress if you will be in the grass, walking on uneven surfaces or climbing stairs much.  You want your bridesmaids to be comfortable and their dress to be hassle-free.

The bride who knows what she wants

Some brides know exactly what they want their bridesmaids to wear, and that is totally fine.  It actually makes it easier for those of us who are indecisive and aim to please, but just aren’t sure how. For your wedding day you will want to make choices based on what you want to see in your wedding pictures for years to come, but please don’t make your favorite girls in the world pay for or wear something you wouldn’t want to pay for and wear yourself. So ask yourself:

  • Would I wear this dress?
  • Would I wear this dress more than once?
  • Is this dress style and color going to look good on each of my bridesmaids?
  • Would I mind spending this much money on a dress if I were a bridesmaid?
  • Would I be comfortable in this dress throughout this event?

Navy bridesmaid dresses, Photo by Grant Aumiller PhotographyCoral bridesmaid dresses, Photo by Rainwater PhotographyTeal bridesmiad dresses, photo by Melissa G Photographynavy one shoulder bridesmaid dresses, Photo by Daring Tales of Darling Bones

The bride who wants to give her bridesmaids some freedom

If you want to give your bridesmaids some freedom with their dress selection you can let them select the color/pattern, cut/style, fabric, sleeve length and/or skirt length of their dress.  You can give them complete freedom or give them some parameters.

Same Color – Different Styles

This is a great option if you have a lot of different body types among your bridal party.  Everyone can find a flattering style that they feel good in.  Be sure to be as specific as you can in order to get the color that you want.  There are a million shades of pink and saying light pink, for example, may not be enough detail.  Companies like J. Crew, David’s Bridal, The Dessy Group and Two Birds offer lots of options to mix styles with the same color.  Ordering through one of these companies will ensure everyone matches.

Burgundy bridesmaid dresses, Photo by Cassie Lopez PhotographyLilac Purple Bridesmaid Dresses, Photo by Becky WillardLight blue bridesmaid dresses, Photo by Becky WillardBurgundy bridesmaid dresses, Photo by Darling Tales of Darling Bones

Same Style – Different Colors

For a more eclectic look, you can go with the same style dress for all of your bridesmaids only in different colors.  You can let them choose what color from your color palette they prefer or you can assign colors.  It is usually best to have all different colors or a balance of a few colors.  For example, two two red and two blue or alternating colors in the processional line. This provides balance to your photos.  I have also seen brides choose to have their bridesmaids all wear the same color expect for the maid of honor.

Blush and seafoam bridesmaid dresses, Photo by Erin Trimble PhotographySame Dress Different Color bridesmaid dresses Same Dress Different Color bridesmaid dresses - two pieces Same dress different color bridesmaid dresses

Different Styles – Different Colors

To give your bridesmaids a little more creative authority, you can ask them to wear a dress of their choosing in a particular color or color palette.  This will give an eclectic look, but allows for each of your bridesmaids to choose something within their price range in a style and cut they like.  Chic Vintage Brides provides some addition inspiration and Brides.com gives some rules for pulling off a mismatch look.

mismatch bridesmaid dresses, Photo by Ben Keeling PhotographyMismatch Bridesmaid Dresses, Photo by Hilly Photography

Vibrant Mismatch Bridesmaid Dresses, Photo by Christy Lee PhotographyMismatch Bridesmaid Dresses, Photo by Leah Barry Photography

Final Thoughts

No matter what you decide on for bridesmaid dresses consider these final reminders.

  • Many bridesmaid dresses will require alterations.  These can be pricey so factor in an additional $50 on top of the dress purchase price for the cost of alterations.
  • Bridesmaids will also need jewelry and shoes.  Since expenses add up for bridesmaids, think about giving your bridesmaids jewelry to wear if you have something specific in mind.  As for shoes, let them wear what works for them.  Matching shoes can look great, but be very uncomfortable for some people.  Blistered or swollen feet could keep a bridesmaid from dancing the night away with you.
  • If price is your main concern you could consider renting dresses.  This Oprah article discusses several dress rental vendors.  In particular,  we like Union Station, Rent the Runway and Vow to be Chic because they offer variety and convenience.  Union Station and Vow to be Chic even offer the option to try the dress before you rent it.
  • Don’t forget to consider undergarments.  When considering dress options think about what undergarments would be needed to make a dress look good and whether that will work with your bridesmaids’ body types.  Make sure all of your bridesmaids have what they need.  It sounds trivial, but no one wants to see bra straps or striped underwear.
  • Order your bridesmaid dresses at least 6 months before your wedding.  This allows for shipping and alterations.  It also leaves time for shoe and jewelry shopping.
  • If you don’t give directions on an element of the bridesmaids’ look, don’t be surprised or event upset when something doesn’t look as you had anticipated.  Encourage your maids to run their final look by you before the big day.

Ultimately, you want your bridesmaids to be comfortable, feel beautifully themselves and create a cohesive look with your event.

The D.I.Y. Dilemma

Weddings are complicated.  I know we’ve said it a million times, but it’s still true and until you have planned one you probably have no idea how much goes into this single day.  As a guest, you show up, have a good time then go home.  As a host, you plan for a year then work your tail off to make it a success.  Along the way you have to make the decision over and over again as to whether to do something yourself (D.I.Y.) or hire someone to complete the task for you.  The food, flowers, favors, photos and so much more can either be put on your to-do list, the list of family and friends or handed over to a hired professional.  Here are some considerations and cautions to think about as you decide who will do what for your event.

D.I.Y. Considerations

I’m sure you or someone close to you CAN do all the tasks associated with hosting a wedding.  That isn’t the question.  Instead, the question is whether you WANT or NEED to do it yourself.  It may be less expensive to do things yourself, but it does come at a cost.  I have seen first-hand the stress, exhaustion and sometimes even disappointment associated with doing everything yourself.  You and your guests should be able to enjoy your wedding day with as little stress as possible.  This is why I suggest hiring wedding professionals for as many tasks as you can.

Professionals in the wedding industry exist for a reason.  They offer a valuable service and must be good at what they do for their business to survive.  The product of an experienced and well trained vendor is usually higher quality, more reliable and less hassle than that of D.I.Y.ers.  Paid vendors can advise you on what choices you have based on your budget, venue, season and style so you can make educated decisions.  Their established supply chain can also provide more options or better prices for certain items.  You can trust that wedding professionals will provide what you ask for, when you ask for it.  That being said, there are still low risk tasks that you can delegate to family and friends.

If you’re thinking about asking a friend or family member to do something for your wedding be sure to consider the skills required, the scale of job and the importance of the outcome.  Match each task with those who have the skills, facilities, time and resources to do the job.

D.I.Y. Cautions

Somehow everything ends up being more complicated and taking longer than you thought it would.  Beware that when you do something yourself there may be last minute costs and stresses due to your lack experience.  Be realistic with your time and talents so that you don’t have to deal with the cost to fix a problem or repair damages.

You and everyone around you will want you to be happy with your wedding day, but unpaid helpers also have their own interests to consider.  They may not be as prompt, particular and professional as paid vendors who are passionate about their work and business.  If you decide to have a friend or family member do a task traditionally done by a professional, you may need to be flexible and adjust your expectations.

Show appreciation for your wedding helpers regardless of how much or how little you have asked of them.  I’m sure they aren’t helping you for a gift, but your helpers should feel appropriately appreciated.  You never want a friend or family member to feel used or annoyed by your lack of consideration for their time and energy.  Be sure to cover all the expenses related to their task and give them a thank you note at the very least.

4 Things To Leave To The Professional

From our experience, these four tasks should be done by professional if at all possible.

  • Catering  |  Catering isn’t just cooking.  It is planning, storing, preparing, transporting and cleaning up food on a large scale.  Professionals have the experience, equipment, and employees to make sure delicious food is safely prepared, served in a timely manner and presented beautifully.  This allows all your family and friends to enjoy the event without having to replenish trays or worry about washing dishes.
  • Photography  |  Good wedding photos preserve the memory of your wedding day in a beautiful way.  They capture the look and feel of the day for you to revisit and share with others for years to come.  Professional photographers catch once-in-a-lifetime moments and all the details that make your day unique and worth remembering.
  • Floral Design  |   Flowers play a huge role in the overall aesthetic of your event.  Florists have access to a larger variety of quality blooms at lower prices than the average person.  Good florist are also equipped to properly handle and arrange flowers, a perishable material, so they will look their best for your event.
  • Day of Coordination  |  It takes a very organized and authoritative person to manage an event.  When emotions are high and so many elements are coming together, a professional event coordinator is able to control the chaos.  It is a lot to ask of a friend or family member to take on this task. And we never, ever recommend that the bride be the point person for the wedding day.

3 Things to D.I.Y.

Any wedding task may end up being a D.I.Y. task, but it really depends on what skills you, your family and your friends have.  Here are the top three things we think you could consider doing yourself.

  • Hair & Makeup  |  You may not need to hire a hair and makeup artist if you are a bride wanting a simple, natural look.  Everyone has family or a friend that is obsessed with hair and makeup and would love to help out.  Just make sure you do a trial run a few weeks before the wedding so that you look exactly how you want on your wedding day.
  • Music  |  For some people music at their wedding is a big deal, but for others, it isn’t.  If you fall into the latter category then maybe you could get away with not hiring a DJ.  There are plenty of places that rent sound equipment and tell you how to use it.  All you’ll need is a playlist and someone you trust to control the microphone and timing. Particularly for the ceremony.
  • Cake  |  Right now it is common for couples to have a small cake to cut then serve other desserts (cupcakes, sheet cake, cookies, etc.) to their guests.  I think it is a great idea to have a D.I.Y. cake if you want something simple and small.  Go with a professional though if you want a bigger, more elaborate tiered cake.

We love hearing from you!  Comment below with other D.I.Y. tips.  If you’re planning a wedding with the help of lots of family and friends, you may also find it helpful to read our post on Wedding Weekend Helpers.

*Feature image by Cassie Lopez Photography

Kentucky Proud Events

How to host a Kentucky proud event
How to host a Kentucky proud event, Photo by Daring Tales Darling Bones

In honor of the upcoming Kentucky Derby festivities, we’re celebrating everything Kentucky proud on the blog today.  We are so luck to live in a state with great people and rich traditions.  I believe every event, year-round, should have a healthy dose of Kentucky culture.

The Food

Benedictine Tea Sandwiches
Benedictine Tea Sandwiches

When you think of Kentucky cuisine think southern soul recipes meets farm fresh

ingredients.  A stereotypical event in the Bluegrass state should start with beer cheese, pimento cheese and/or benedictine spread.  Other signature menu items include the Kentucky hot brown, fried chicken, country ham & biscuit, green beans and cheesy grits.

To do these menu items justice, you will want locally produced ingredients.  Use the Kentucky Proud Producer website to find all the produce and products you need.  Many Kentucky caterers are willing to find local providers if you’re going with a caterer for your event.

Don’t forget the sweet treats.  You can never go wrong by serving Derby Pie, but Kentucky has so many tasty options when it comes to locally produced candies and chocolates too.  Some of my favorites are Ruth Hunt Candies, Old Kentucky ChocolatesMom Blakeman’s Candy and Sharp’s Candies of Kentucky.  For your event, you could give a combination of your favorites as a party favor or do a candy bar where guests can try what all sorts of yummies.

This Kentucky Candy Bar was done by Sassy Spoon Catering for a Warrenwood Wedding.
This Kentucky Candy Bar was done by Sassy Spoon Catering for a Warrenwood Wedding.

The Bar

Kentucky is blessed to be home to the rich tradition and thriving market of bourbon distilling.  As a result there are countless distilleries in Kentucky that

Bourbon Tasting Bar
Bourbon Tasting Bar via the Celebrating at Home Blog

make the best bourbon money can buy.  Therefore, a Kentucky proud event would be incomplete without a bar stock with the likes of Maker’s Mark, Four Roses Bourbon, Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace Distillery, Woodford Reserve Distillery, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Bulleit, Michter’s, Booker’s, Knob Creek, and Blanton’s. 

Mint juleps are a staple when it comes to Kentucky mixed drinks but, you could also include the lesser known Oaks Lily or Mint Julep Sweet Tea.

If you are more of a beer connoisseur, Kentucky has a budding craft beer industry lead by West Sixth Brewing, Country Boy Brewing, Against the Grain Brewery, Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. and Falls City Beer.  To figure out what beers you want to have at your event head over to The Casual Pint in downtown Lexington to taste all the best Kentucky options.

The Decor

Bourbon isn’t just for the bar.  You can use bourbon barrels in place of cocktail tables or for your cake table.  You could even collect bourbon bottles to use as centerpieces.  There are also a million (that is only a slight exaggeration) other re-purposed barrel products that can be purchased or made for your event.

Buy local blooms. Three Toads Farm, Black Rooster Farm, Meadowview Flowers, Bellaire Blooms, and Falling Springs Flower Farm grow high quality flowers here in the Bluegrass.  Take the Kentucky vibes up one more notch by arranging your local blooms in a vintage trophy cup, stoneware crock, mason jar or mint julep cup.

Blooms from Black Rooster Farm in Ball/Mason Jar
Blooms from Black Rooster Farm in a Ball/Mason Jar
Farm Fresh Flowers by Three Toads Farm
Three Toads Farm flowers in a vintage trophy cup arrangement
Meadowview Flowers at Warrenwood Barn Ceremony
Meadowview Flowers in a vintage crock on a bourbon barrel

 

 

 

 

 

Include equestrian inspired details.  Think stirrups, bits, horseshoes, vintage competition ribbons and leather accents.  Use these items to create character, not clutter.  You don’t want to over do it so be creative in how you use these accents to make a statement.

Stirrup Candle Holders from Horse & Hound
Stirrup Candle Holders from Horse & Hound
Equestian Inspired Styled Shoot by Rustic Wedding Chic
Equestrian Inspired Styled Shoot by Rustic Wedding Chic

Embrace all things vintage.  Find and use old books, vases, platters, china and anything else tastefully vintage you can find.  These items add interest, character and charm to the look of your Kentucky proud event. With such a rich and diverse history, there are so many

Keep it natural.  Kentucky is naturally beautiful, so let it speak for itself at your event.  Choose a natural color palette, embrace elements from your surroundings and host your event outside if the weather permits.

The Music

A Kentucky event would be incomplete without the sound of a banjo, fiddle, washboard and the like playing some traditional bluegrass songs.  Get back to the roots of what makes Kentucky, Kentucky with a live Bluegrass band or a DJ who knows their way around the classics.  Your playlist should include musical legends like John Prine, Bill Monroe and Loretta Lynn as well as current Kentucky artists such as Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton.  You could also add these 13 songs about Kentucky to your playlist.

Have fun hosting your quintessential Kentucky event!  Comment below if you have suggestions to add.

Wedding Weekend Helpers

Bridal Party at Southern Farm Wedding, Photo by Christy Lee Photography
Bridal Party at Southern Farm Wedding, Photo by Christy Lee Photography
How to organize your wedding weekend helpers, Photo by Becky Willard Photography
How to organize your wedding weekend helpers

Tips for Making the Most of Wedding Helpers

Weddings are complicated. Emotions are high and there are just so many elements and people that have to come together to make the event a success. It is easy to get lost in the details, but always remember that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. If hiring everything done isn’t in the budget, don’t worry! Friends and family will be more than willing to step in to help if you are organized, considerate and appreciative.  Here are some pointers to help you make the most of your time with your wedding weekend helpers!

Get organized

  • Make descriptive to-do lists that give clear directions.  Be sure to include who, when, where and how to complete each task as well as a realistic estimate of the time it will take to finish.
  • Make sure someone is in charge.  Hire an event coordinator if possible, but if not find someone who is good at managing people and understands the vision you have for your wedding day.
  • Post your event timeline, to-do lists and the contact information for whoever is in charge in a public place so everyone can see who is doing what and what still needs to be done. We recommend getting everyone on Google Docs in advance and then having a command center at the venue.
  • Provide the proper resources and tools for your helpers to complete their task.  It is always helpful to include pictures or sketches so people can visualize what you’re asking of them.

Be considerate

  • Allow your volunteers to pick how to contribute to your wedding. It may be best to make suggestions based on their skills, but ultimately let them decide. AKA don’t give uncle Bobby the power lifter the job of tieing tiny ribbons on favor bags.
  • Let people know in advance what they’ll be doing and practical details about their task, like what to wear, what time to arrive and how long they’ll be working.
  • Respect your helpers’ time by not having too many or too few helpers. No one wants to just sit around because there isn’t enough work and no one wants to be stressed that they won’t be able to finish their job. But, for your sake error on the side of too many helpers.
  • Make it fun for your helpers.  Play music or have contests to keep the mood light and stress-free.
  • Have drinks and snacks available for your volunteers. They are probably coming early for setup and staying late for cleanup so keep them hydrated and happy NOT hangry!

Show appreciation

  • There are so many ways to show your appreciation for the work your helpers did.  You’re probably going to know the most appropriate and fitting option, but you could:
    • Mention your helpers in speech or on the program
    • Give them a special gift (doesn’t have to be anything big)
    • Reserve prominent seats for them at your reception
    • Host a dinner party after the event
  • Don’t forget to return the favor or pay it forward.  Be the first to volunteer to help when a friend or family member is planning an event or in need of help in any way.

Your goal should be for you and your helpers to stay as calm and stress-free as possible.  You will want to be able to relax and enjoy your day.  So, make the effort to be organized, considerate and appreciative before, during and after your event.

*Feature Photo by The King’s Daughter Photography

Wedding Cakes Worth Celebrating

See 20 Beautiful Weddings Cakes
See the Warrenwood Manor blog for 20 beautiful wedding cakes

Warning:  Viewing these beautiful wedding cakes may cause intense sweet treat cravings.  You’ve been warned, but I promise it will be worth it because these cakes are gorgeous.  Enjoy!

d Wedding Cake with ivory ranuculus
Three-tier textured ivory wedding cake with eucalyptus and roses
Three-tier ivory wedding cake with navy ribbon and bright florals
Textured three-tier ivory wedding cake with soft pink flowers
Rosette textured single-tier wedding cake with wood laser cut cake topper
Pale pink and ivory two-tier wedding cake with spray roses
Two-tier naked layered wedding cake with laser cut topper and berries
Two-tier naked layered wedding cake with farm fresh flowers
Two-tiered textured ivory wedding cake with pennant banner cake topper
Two-tier ivory cake with love birds on top
Single-tier textured wedding cake on wood slice with copper wire cake topper
Three-tier ivory wedding cake with light pink ribbon, laser cut cake topper and roses
Three-tier ivory wedding cake with pink spray roses and greenery on a gold cake stand
Three-tier ivory textured wedding cake with burgundy flowers on gold cake stand
Ivory two-tier textured wedding cake with laser cut cake topper and pink flowers
Ivory three-tier textured wedding cake with laser cut cake topper on sliver cake stand
Ivory naked layered wedding cake on wood slice
Ivory three-tier wedding cake with silver initial cake topper and silver cake stand
Blush and Ivory four-tier wedding cake with rosette texture on silver cake stand
Ivory three-tier wedding cake with gold topper and cake stand with lots of flowers
Rustic ivory two-tier wedding cake with flowers

The central Kentucky area has so many talented bakers.  Sweets by Cindy, Martine’s Pastries, Sweet LiLu’s, Tinker’s Cake Shop and Confused Confections Bakehouse have all provide cakes, cupcakes and/or desserts at Warrenwood Manor.  I know we have not given every baker proper credit for their above cake(s) so if you made one of these cakes please comment below with your information.  We want to make sure to support all the vendors that make our events possible.

Cake photos were taken by the following photographers (top to bottom, left to right):

Your Wedding Ceremony, Your Way

Visit the Warrenwood Manor blog for tips on how to personalize your wedding ceremony. Make your wedding ceremony special with these unique ceremony ideas and tips.
Visit the Warrenwood Manor blog for tips on how to personalize your wedding ceremony. Make your wedding ceremony special with these unique ceremony ideas and tips.

A wedding ceremony can be vastly different from one couple to the next, but there are certain traditions that have withstood the test of time.  You’ll definitely want to exchange rings, state your vows and share your first kiss.  Even so, there is room for personality in every ceremony.  Your ceremony can be short and sweet or lovingly longer.  It can be formal or casual.  It can be religious or non-denominational.  The look, tone, and content of your ceremony can and should be personalized to fit you and your fiance.

The Look

Create a style for your wedding ceremony that represents who you and your fiance are as a couple.  For example, if you’re simple and earthy have an outdoor ceremony with minimal decor.  If you prefer a more polished, sophisticated look, opt for an indoor wedding ceremony with a classic color palette and more elaborate florals.  Consider the following factors as you decide on a look for your event.

  • Location:  This is the single most influential decision you will make for the look of your ceremony.  Do you have a “special place” you want to get married?  If you want your ceremony outside, do you want it in a field, a garden, by the lake or under a tree?  If you want it indoors, do you like the look of a museum, warehouse, hotel ballroom, barn or historic home?  There are so many options, you just have to determine what fits you and your event best.
  • Type of Seating:  Hay bales, benches, folding chairs, mismatched antique chairs, and church pews all give a different vibe to your ceremony.  Decide what goes with the atmosphere you are trying to create.
  • Decor:  Ceremony decor can include a guestbook table, aisle decor, alter decor as well as many other miscellaneous items.  Including decor that means something to you, like Grandpa’s writing desk as the ceremony table, can really bring personality to your ceremony look.  Remember more is more, but less is more sometimes too. (Does that make sense? Haha)  Also, choose florals that reflect what you like.  Some people just don’t like roses, for example, and it is totally fine not to use them.
  • Wedding Party Attire:  You can really make a statement with what you and your wedding party wear during the ceremony.  The color palette, pattern, style, and level of formality accent the look of your ceremony.
Intimate Indoor Ceremony at Warrenwood Manor
Intimate Indoor Ceremony at Warrenwood Manor. Photo by Cassie Lopez Photography.

The Tone

Tone can be further described as the mood, the feel or the atmosphere of an event.  The two major elements that contribute to the tone of your wedding ceremony are your music and your officiant.

  • Music:  Choose music that means something to you.  For example, I had “Amazing Grace” play during the unity ceremony at my wedding.  Everyone says it’s a funeral song, but it is one of mine and my grandmother’s favorite songs, so now it’s a wedding song!  The song playing during your exit is a great opportunity to show some personality.  You can also have family or friends preform during the ceremony for another personal touch.
  • Officiant:   The officiant you choose will set the tone for how religious or not your ceremony will be.  Go with a church pastor, youth minister, religion professor or priest if you want a traditional service.  There are many other options if you want a more non-denominational ceremony.  Either way, it is usually best to choose an officiant that knows you well; it helps calm the nerves.  Make sure you discuss whether or not you want stories, jokes and audience participation included in your ceremony.
Bride and Groom during their southern glam barn wedding ceremony
Rustic southern glam barn wedding. Photo by Legacy Art Photography & Videography.

The Content

The substance of your wedding ceremony says a lot about what you and your fiance care about and the message you want to send the world about the commitment you are making to each other.  That sounds intense, but your officiant should be able to guide you through the process.

  • Readings: Pick quotes and/or Bible verses that you love.  It can be the quote on your fridge magnet that you live by every day, a lyric from a favorite song or something that’s stuck with you from a book you read years ago.  Your officiant can help you if you don’t have a set quote in mind but know the essence of what you are trying to say.
  • Your Vows:  Some of you may opt to personalize vows by writing your own.  This takes time and thought, but allows you to say exactly what you want.  For those of you that tend to get emotional or think you may get really nervous, it may be best to stick with vows provided by your officiant.
  • Unity Ceremony:  A unity ceremony symbolizes the union of two individuals into one marriage.  Not everyone decides to do a unity ceremony during their ceremony, but if you like the idea, you have a lot of different options.  For example, you can do a candle lighting, mix colored sand or water, plant a tree, break a loaf bread or braid a cord of three strands.  We’ve even had a couple take a shot of bourbon for their unity ceremony!  You can be as creative as you want or go with a classic option.

My number one piece of advice for you is to be unapologetically yourself.   Don’t give in to outside pressures to portray an idealized version of yourself for your guests.  Embrace your individuality and your identity as a couple by personalizing your ceremony to your taste.  It’s okay to adhere to standard practices, but empower yourself to skip any tradition that you don’t like, don’t believe in or don’t care about.

Feature photo by Jessica Moore Photography.

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Blogworthy Warrenwood Weddings

We’ve been blessed to have some amazing photographers and videographers shoot weddings at Warrenwood Manor.  Each has their own style and personality.  I love to see the variety of settings, lighting, poses and content photographers choose to capture the essence of a wedding day.  A great way to get a feel for the work of a photographer is to check out their online portfolio and blog.  Here, we have shared blog posts in which photographers showcase their work from Warrenwood Manor.  Enjoy!

Leah Barry Photography: Mary + Dan

Dapper Southern Groomsmen, Photo by Leah Barry Photography

Rainwater Photography: Kaylon + John

Southern charm bride & groom in entry hall of Warrenwood Manor, Photo by Rainwater Photography

Cassie Lopez Photography:

Olivia + Bryan, Megan + Jason, Megan + Ron and Stacey + Christian

Bride & Groom at summer farm wedding, Photo by Cassie Lopez Photography

Sarah Katherine Davis Photography: Annmarie + Ethan

Bride & Groom in Green Pasture at Warrenwood Manor, Photo by Sarah Katherine Davis Photography

Lindsey McDonald Photography: Shelby + John

Engagement photos in the snow at Warrenwood Manor, Photo by Lindsey McDonald Photography

Love + Lenses : Ben + Alex

Sparkler photo with happy grooms, Photo by Love & Lenses Photography

Honey Heart Photography:  Lisa + Dave

Kentucky summer estate wedding, Photo by Honey Heart Photography

Kevin & Anna Photography:

Heather + Anthony Wedding and Engagement Pictures

Wedding dress hanging in the Warrenwood Manor Bridal Suite, Photo by Kevin & Anna Photography

Wes Brown Photography: Michelle + David and

Emily + Lee Engagement & Wedding Preparations

Couple's Portrait at spring farm wedding, Photo by Wes Brown Photography

Carl S. Miller Wedding Films: Ben + Alex

Couple Hold Hands After Warrenwood Ceremony, Photo by Carl S. Miller Wedding Films

Scott Hayes Productions: Erica + Sam

First look before rustic bohemian outdoor ceremony at Warrenwood Manor, Photo by Scott Hayes Productions

A note to photographers and videographers who have worked at Warrenwood Manor: 

We couldn’t promote our business the way we do without the use of your amazing photos and videos.  We are forever thankful for your generosity and willingness to share.  I’m sure we have accidentally left someone off this list of blogs so we encourage any photographer/videographer to comment below with a link to your Warrenwood Manor work. We’d love to promote and share your work!

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14 Stunning Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies

14 Stunning Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies at Warrenwood Manor
14 Stunning Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies at Warrenwood Manor
14 Stunning Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies at Warrenwood Manor
14 Stunning Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies at Warrenwood Manor

The possibilities are endless for outdoor wedding ceremonies.  I have seen so many different styles, setups, and locations used at Warrenwood.  It’s always exciting for me when couples make unique ceremony decisions.  Here is a showcase of some beautiful outdoor ceremonies hosted at Warrenwood Manor.  Enjoy!

Kaylon + John

Kaylon and John exchanged their vows in a backyard ceremony with rustic charm and a touch of country flare. (Photography by Rainwater Photography)

Mary + Dan

Mary and Dan embraced a simple, soft, flowy look for their ceremony on the Warrenwood cottage steps.   (Photography by Leah Barry Photography)

Lindsey + David

Lindsey and David tied the knot under a floral arch of rich fall colors in Warrenwood’s back yard. (Photography by Hilly Photography)

Megan + Ron

Megan and Ron got creative with their ceremony backdrop by hanging ivory drapes and a chandelier on a pond-side tree for a rustic chic look.  (Photography by Cassie Lopez Photography)

Megan + Jason

On a perfect spring day, Megan and Jason got married on the cottage steps with vibrant flowers and lush greenery decorating their ceremony.  (Photography by Cassie Lopez Photography)

Abby + Joe

Abby and Joe designed a classy, flower-laden ceremony complete with elegant, ivory umbrellas for their guests.   (Photography by Grant Aumiller Photography)

Callie + Joseph

Callie and Joseph’s ceremony was a traditional, timeless and classy affair in front of the Warrenwood cottage.  (Photography by Emily Wakin Photography)

Annmarie + Ethan

Annmarie and Ethan went for a simple, vintage vibe for their backyard ceremony.  (Photography by Sarah Katherine Davis Photography)

Emily + Blake

With a large wedding party by their side, Emily and Blake chose to mix vibrant attire with soft florals to create a polished, traditional vintage look. (Photography by Christy Lee Photography)

Caitlin + Tyler

In their early spring nuptials, Caitlin and Tyler created a soft, vintage feel for their ceremony.  (Photography by Honey Heart Photography)

Lisa + David

Lisa and David’s ceremony exuded southern charm with an asymmetrical floral backdrop and greenery-lined aisle. (Photography by Honey Heart Photography)  For more inspiration from this wedding check out our blog post, “Classic Southern Destination Wedding | Lisa + David“.

Erica + Sam

Centered under a huge tree in a lush green pasture, Erica and Sam’s ceremony gave off an organic, boho feel. (Photography by Ben Keeling Photography)  Check out our post, “Rustic Bohemian Brunch Wedding | Erica + Sam“, for more inspiration from this wedding.

Ashley + Matt

Ashley and Matt opted for a classic, patriotic event on the fourth of July. (Photography by Unveiled Studio)

Christina + Jonathan

This simple, preppy southern look was perfect for a warm summer wedding day.  (Photography by Becky Willard Photography)

Couple kiss as they exit their preppy southern chic outdoor ceremony
Vases of baby's breath on bourbon barrel with ceremony programs
Large Wedding Party in lush green field
Wedding Ceremony in front of historic Warrenwood Manor cottage

Do you want to have your wedding at Warrenwood Manor?  We’re now booking events for 2018!  Check out our website for more information then contact us to arrange a tour.

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Wedding & Event Styling 102: 10 Event Styling Tips & Tricks

10 Event Styling Tips
10 Event Styling Tips
10 Event Styling Tips
Pink, Coral and Ivory Bridesmaids' Bouquets
Let Love Grow Tree Favors

As we discussed in our last blog post Wedding & Event Styling 101: The Basics, event styling is the artistic process of mixing shapes, colors, and textures to create a custom and cohesive event look.  Once you’ve mastered the basics, these 10 event styling tips and tricks will keep you sane as you plan the rest of your wedding or event.

#1:  Be Yourself!

Think about what will make your event special, different and personal.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with any of your event design decisions, but you do want to have an event that you are proud of, represents you well and makes you happy!  Is it bad that I love it when a bride walks in for a sneak peek of the reception we’ve styled on her behalf and cries because she loves it so much? Because I’m going to be honest, I love that reaction!

#2: Manage your expectations.

Pinterest, blogs and magazines showcase so many jaw-droppingly stunning events, but you have to be realistic about what works with your venue on your budget.  Yes, Kim Kardashian’s floral ceremony backdrop was gorgeous, but it’s really not worth a down payment on a house to have one at your wedding.  And yes, it is really cool to have your cake table suspended from the ceiling (love that idea!), but who will do all that work?

#3:  Timeless is better than trendy.

It is easy to get sucked into the trends of the year.  Everyone has something to say about what is so in or so out now.  Since trends change all the time, don’t ignore timeless style options.  You want to be able to look at your wedding pictures twenty years from now and feel good about the style decisions you made.  If you do choose to embrace something trendy, moderation is key.

#4:  Keep it simple.

Your wedding day isn’t about the flowers, linens or table runners.  It isn’t about a curated guestbook table or an elaborate food display either.  Focus on what really matters to you and forget the rest.  Sure, Pinterest DIY projects seem easy, but the time, cost and planning add up to a stressful to do list.  Keep all the “STUFF” to a minimum so you, your family and your friends can enjoy a stress-free celebration. Or, if those things are super important to you, make sure your budget allows for you to hire helpers.

#5:  It’s not ALL about you.

Your groom may or may not be interested in the planning of your wedding day, but nonetheless don’t forget to consider him in the event design.  Try to do at least one thing that he’ll get excited about.  For example, we had four types of locally-made beef jerky at my informal, afternoon wedding reception because I knew my husband would love it!  Also, don’t forget to consider what your friends and family would love too.

#6:  Trust your vendors.

If you have carefully selected your vendors, they are probably really good at what they do.  Trust them to handle the little details so you don’t have to deal with it.  You have more important things to worry about than providing plates for the appetizers or grabbing lighters for the sparkler send off.  Let the professionals handle it.  Your vendors can also be great resources to help you make the best design decisions for your budget and style.  Be sure to get them all the information they need to do their job.

#7:  Use what you have, borrow what you can and rent the rest.

Don’t feel like you have to rush out and buy a ton of stuff for your wedding.  Most likely you have things around your home that can be used for your wedding.  For example, I used platters I had gotten at a bridal shower to display my reception food.  Since I had registered for these platters they were items I really liked and I saved money by not needing to rent platters.   I also borrowed and rented vases for my centerpieces.  Renting items oftentimes allows you to have nicer items than you could afford to purchase.  If you have to buy an item for your wedding, consider buying a used, refurbished or up-cycled option.

#8:  Spend your money where it counts.

Prioritize spending on areas or items with the greatest impact on the look of your event or the experience of your guests.  You don’t need to decorate every inch of the venue.  Determine your event focal points by thinking about what will be photographed and what will be seen the most.

#9:  Variety is the spice of life!

Things don’t have to be identical to go together.  You can create a more interesting look by combining items with individual character.  For example, it is fine to have all matching centerpieces, but for more visual interest you could mix bud vases, boxed floral arrangements and layered candles for a more complex vibe.

#10:  Stay organized to stay sane.

Keep track of who will be doing what and when.  Don’t underestimate the value of timelines, to-do lists, labels, floor plans, sketches and inspirational images.

I hope these tips come in handy!  I don’t even pretend to know it all, so comment below with other wedding and event styling tips or just tell me about your event styling experience.  I love hearing from you!

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Wedding and Event Styling 101: The Basics

Wedding and Event Styling 101
Check out these basic tips for styling your next event!
Barn Wedding Ceremony at Warrenwood Manor with a Navy, Pale Pink and Ivory Color Palette
Barn Wedding Ceremony at Warrenwood Manor with a Navy, Pale Pink and Ivory Color Palette
Photo by: Kevin and Anna Photography
www.kevinandannaweddings.com
Couple exiting ceremony down aisle lined with stumps and purple florals
Rustic Elegance: Couple exiting ceremony down aisle lined with stumps and purple florals

Event styling is the artistic process of mixing shapes, colors, and textures to create a custom and cohesive event look.  It’s linens, florals, decor, and dinnerware.  It’s table placing, table settings, sign hanging, bow tieing, candle lighting and so much more.  Anyone can style an event, but it takes time and planning as well as a vision.  It is important to remember that your event should be a reflection of who you are and what you care about.  It’s really not as complicated as it sounds, so we’ve compiled some event styling tips to help you throughout the planning process.

Getting Started

Start by making a list of three or four words that describe the vibe or feel you want your wedding day to have.  For example, my husband and I wanted a relaxed event filled with rustic charm and southern elegance.  These terms make it easier to stay on target.  With every decision you make ask yourself, “Does this fit the vibe I want?”

Sometimes the words we use to describe what we think we want aren’t actually what we want or aren’t nuanced enough for other people to understand what we want.  To avoid misunderstandings try finding three or four inspirational images for each aspect of your event (ceremony, reception, cake, flowers, etc.). Describe what you do and don’t like about each image.

As an example, here are the inspirational words and images I used to pull together the floral design for my wedding.  My inspiration words/phrase was, “Relaxed southern elegance with a hint of the farm!”

Event Styling: Rustic Elegent Floral Design Inspiration
Inspirational images for my wedding’s southern elegant floral design
Event Styling: Shades of Purple Rustic Elegant Floral Design Barn Wedding
The floral design for my wedding by Doug Smith Designs + Events.

For more images from my wedding check out one of our very first blog posts, Wedding #1: Our Wedding.

Venue Selection & Season

Next, decide on your venue and event date.  Consider your venue and event date at the same time since venue availability is often limited and weather restrictions may apply.  If you are dead-set on a certain venue you may need to be flexible on the date/season and if you are dead-set on a date/season you may need to be flexible with your venue selection.  Every venue has characteristics that lend themselves best to a certain range of styles.  For example, Warrenwood Manor is best suited for events styled with rustic, southern, vintage and/or traditional elements as opposed to modern, industrial or coastal styling.  So, choose a venue that fits with your inspiration images and words.  The further a venue is from your desired style, the more money and time you will have to spend to make it something that it isn’t.  Additionally, the date of your event will determine whether or not events can be held outdoors which in turn can narrow your options for certain style elements.  For example, you would want to host a earthy woodland style event outdoors, but a modern, fine-arts style event would be okay indoors anytime of year.

Your event color palette is the final foundational element of your event design.  The season and venue you choose can help guide this decision.  Pastels for spring and jewel tones for fall aren’t steadfast rules, but they are common choices since they compliment seasonal surrounds and are readily available for floral design.  When selecting the colors for your event you should also consider what will look good in your venue, what looks good on camera, what looks good on people, what makes food look appetizing and what will make your centerpieces pop.  Once you have a color palette, you’ve laid the foundation for your event design.  Below you’ll find some great examples of weddings that were styled based on the season and be on the lookout for our next blog post: Wedding & Event Styling 102!

Event Styling: Real Wedding Examples of Seasonal Color Palettes

Event Styling: Spring barn wedding in ivory, blush and lavender. Photographed by Honey Heart Photography
Spring wedding photographed by Honey Heart Photography
Event Styling: Spring barn wedding with pink accents and greenery. Photographed by Kevin & Anna Photography
Spring wedding photographed by Kevin & Anna Photography

 

Event Styling: Summer barn wedding with cobalt blue, orange and pink accents. Photographed by Jessica Moore Photography
Summer wedding photographed by Jessica Moore Photography
Event Styling: Summer barn wedding with wild flowers and rustic details. Photographed by Cassie Lopez Photography
Summer wedding photographed by Cassie Lopez Photography
Event Styling: Fall outdoor wedding ceremony and barn reception in merlot, blush and gold. Photographed by Hilly Photography
Fall wedding photographed by Hilly Photography
Event Styling: Fall barn wedding ceremony with merlot, pink and white details. Photographed by Daring Tales of Darling Bones
Fall wedding photographed by Daring Tales of Darling Bones

For more event styling tips and tricks check out our follow up blog post “Wedding and Event Styling 102: 10 Event Styling Tips & Tricks”.

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