When Mark proposed, we started the wedding planning almost immediately – and I was almost immediately overwhelmed! Being a Kate Aspen girl, I had always believed that wedding planning would be a piece of cake. I spent my work days thinking about weddings, designing for them, and secretly stockpiling ideas for my own. I just knew that I had it all figured out – my mind was swirling with plans and projects. I could quickly learn the art of calligraphy, and hand-engrave each envelope! There would be a color-coordinated candy buffet, overflowing with homemade confections! The aisle would be draped in garlands of fragrant pink peonies!
But once we were engaged, and it sunk in that I would be planning an event that would involve real guests (most of whom would be traveling across state lines to my hometown in North Carolina), a real-life budget (peonies aren’t in bloom in October), and a real time-table (there’s only so much you can do in 9 months), I knew that we would have to prioritize. I forced myself to move past the frilly details and consider what was most important on our big day – what mattered most to us, and what would have the biggest impact on our guests?
Our first priority was simple – fun! We wanted our guests to have a blast. We chose the NC Museum of Natural Sciences as our venue. It was a large, open space, with intriguing exhibits, live animals on display, and enough space for a seated dinner for 200 guests. Guests enjoyed cocktail hour on the second floor, and then moved upstairs for dinner and dancing (in the shadows of two giant dinosaur skeletons!) It was casual, unique, and slightly goofy – just perfect for us.
Knowing that we would have guests coming from Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and even Kansas, it was really important to us that they feel welcome, and leave North Carolina feeling like it was worth the trip. So we put together a welcome bag with a few items that would make their stay a bit more comfortable:
– “The Perfect Blend” Coffee Kit (perfect for Sunday morning)
– “Noteworthy Couple” Personalized Journal and Pen (for jotting down directions)
– “Hugs & Kisses from Mr. and Mrs.!” Scented Soaps (just adorable, and much nicer than hotel soap!)
– Some local snacks – NC Peanuts, local honey, and homemade sweet potato muffins
– A map of the area marked with the location of the church, reception, and some of our favorite restaurants
The bags awaited guests in their hotel rooms, and everyone just loved them. Even though we couldn’t be there to greet each guest as they arrived, we felt like this was a way of saying “We’re so glad you are here!”
As a designer, another priority was, naturally, style! I had always dreamt of an October wedding, but knew that I wanted to do it differently – sunflowers and orange calla lilies just don’t float my boat. Instead of drawing inspiration from the changing leaves, I looked to our setting – downtown Raleigh – and decided on a cool, neutral palette of gray and white with accents of blush pink. It was important to me to keep some personality alive (and keep the torture of the bridesmaids to a minimum!), so I had the girls pick their own dresses. The varying styles and shades of gray were just perfect, and it kept things feeling casual and comfortable.
When it came time to choose flowers, I began to understand why fall florals all seemed to look the same – the choices are a bit limited! Many of my favorite flowers were out of season, but the florist was able to offer suggestions based on the look we wanted to create. For the bridesmaids, we went with ruffly pink garden roses, and I was thrilled to find out that anemones (a favorite of mine) were in season – they added a great punch of black in my big white bouquet.
Selecting favors was my favorite part of the whole process. It was a hard decision, though. How does a wedding favor designer pick a favor for her own wedding? It’s like picking a favorite child! Kate Aspen has so many that I love (and many that I designed – so they fit my style pretty well, right?!), but Mark and I eventually decided on the adorable beehive candle, “Meant to Bee”. It has some sentimental value for us – we met at Georgia Tech, and our mascot is the yellow jacket. How perfect is that?
Here are a few others we considered – these could all be great picks for any fall wedding that isn’t incorporating the usual warm tones and leaf themes:
– “Gra-TEA-Tude” Tea Box with Tea Bag Kit (Set of 6) – What says fall better than a warm mug of tea?
– “Love Dove” Scented Soap – The colors fit our wedding perfectly!
– “Love Songs” Birdcage Tea Light/Place Card Holder – Modern and unique – lit, they cast a beautiful warm glow
Choosing a beautiful, personal favor was a way to show our style – but more importantly, it was another little way of showing our thanks to those guests who travelled so far to be with us on our wedding day. And isn’t that what it’s all about? There were no hand-calligraphed envelopes (just my neatest handwriting), no color-coordinated candy buffet (only a delicious homemade wedding cake), and no garlands of peonies (garden roses were just fine). But that’s ok right? Because the memories we will treasure are of the friends and family who traveled many miles, many hours to be with us that day.