Bride Danielle is a wedding planner by trade, but she was completely surprised by this greenhouse bridal shower, planned by her mother, bridesmaids and mother-in-law. Her creative and talented friends crafted almost every detail by hand, from the carnation garland behind the dessert table to the custom coasters to the cake pops and cupcakes dotting the dessert table! The light and bright conservatory of the Madison Hotel made for a perfect setting, with sparkling crystal chandeliers and hanging greenery creating a secret garden vibe. We love the wine bottle wishing well, where guests brought a bottle of wine for the couple, as well as the honeymoon gift board sharing adventures awaiting the couple, like a two-day elephant trek!
For this laid-back beach bachelorette party, the ladies rented a house in Newport Beach and decked it out with pineapples and palm leaves from Paper Source for their tropical beach theme. Bridesmaid Audrey of Love Always, Audrey crafted the sequined floppy hats herself (you can DIY the Life’s a Beach, Out of Office and Do Not Disturb hats with this tutorial). The goal of the weekend was to get in some serious relaxation time at the beach, with the help of a few oversized pool floats, matching T-shirts designed by the MOH and personalized mason jars created by bride Danielle. Audrey’s advice for planning a beach bachelorette? “RELAX. The whole point of a beach bachelorette party is to just lay in the sun and enjoy it, so don’t worry about the small stuff. Instead of going out to a super-fancy dinner, order in pizza to the house. Sleep in a little bit. Make this the beach vacation everyone wants!”
For this unique shower, bridesmaid and videographer Kaylyn of Pulley Productions recruited some of her favorite Oklahoma vendors to throw a gorgeous rustic barn bridal shower for best friend Kasee. My favorite unique touch was the mobile boutique, Cargo Room, that Kaylyn brought out for the day. When the guests arrived, they were ushered into the shop to find their look for the event, each choosing a gorgeous lace purple or navy dress to wear for the shower. The result was some pretty stunning pictures taken in the fields surrounding McGranahan Barn. A beautiful handmade wood farm table was set with vintage china and the guests enjoyed a picture-perfect spread of treats, including mini blackberry pies and chocolate-dipped macaroons. With a copper Moscow mule mug in hand, the ladies also crafted flower crowns to complete their outfits. I can’t get over all the stunning little details in this shower, gorgeously captured by Alex Dugan Photography. Check out the full list of fabulous vendors below.
Photography: Alex Dugan | Additional photography: Geovanny De Leon | Venue: McGranahan Barn | Floral & Styling: Paper Chandelier Events | Wardrobe: Cargo Room | Furniture Rentals: Ruby’s Vintage Rentals | Tableware: Vintage Tabletop Rental | Table: Kahoy Studios | Desserts and sweets: Laura Layn | Invitations: Leigha Pierce Art | Calligraphy: APletters | Makeup: Kadi Uhack Makeup | Videography: Pulley Productions
For this glam take on a fiesta bridal shower, design studio Modern Pulp channeled bride Claudette’s love of pink and gold into a backyard fiesta filled with color and style. Guests selected one of three different flavors from the sangria bar and topped their vintage pink goblet or copper mug with a selection of fresh fruits. A stunning dessert spread, including cactus cookies and dessert tacos, offered plenty of sweet treats. My favorite detail? The unique rock cactus bar that allowed guests to create their own party favor. Plus, you now have the perfect hashtag for your event: #tacoboutashower! Photographer Christy Swanberg beautifully captured the joy on bride Claudette’s face as she rounded the corner to find this pretty little shower waiting.
Photography: Christy D Swanberg Photography | Banner and confetti: Dixie and Twine | Rentals: Gathered Table Supply | Paper Goods and Event Design: Modern Pulp Design Studio | Baked Goods: Pretty Sweet Co. | Mini pinatas: Lula Flora Designs
You may have noticed a little bit of radio silence and that’s because…
I got MARRIED!
About a month before my wedding, I decided I needed a little break from blogging. Because the month before your wedding is when ALL your vendors desperately need your attention to confirm every last detail and talk through every contingency. So in order to have the energy to focus on my full-time office job as well as the finishing touches of my wedding, I just did not have the mental capacity to update this space as well. But here I am and here’s my wedding update! Warning: It’s going to be a long one!
A lot of people asked me how Andrew and I chose Maine as our wedding destination since we’re not from there. The answer is that in the second year of our relationship, we took a trip to Bar Harbor together and fell in love with it (and which each other, duh). Afterwards, we talked about making a trip to Maine a yearly tradition and both strongly felt it was something we wanted to do. As a couple, we love a balance of traditions (like camping every fall or going to the beach for Fourth of July) and exploring new places in our travels. So every year since, we’ve gone to Mount Desert Island together to hike in Acadia National Park, enjoy lobster at Beal’s Lobster Pound, play mini golf at Pirate’s Cove and sip local brews in Bar Harbor.
Our wedding venue was the Asticou Inn, a gorgeous historic inn that’s been open since 1883 and overlooks Northeast Harbor. It has the classic New England charm we wanted to share with our guests from around the country, from its floral wallpaper and antique furnishings to the Adirondack chairs on the lawn. They also happened to have the perfect event coordinator for me. While I did all the planning and design for our wedding, Sue from the Asticou handled the day-of logistics and truly did an amazing job of executing. I realized early in my wedding planning process that I didn’t need an event designer. I knew exactly what I wanted our wedding to look and feel like—I just needed someone to carry out that vision so I wasn’t arranging place cards or directing lighting installation on the day of my wedding! Sue was perfect for that.
Every wedding will experience a hiccup or two, and we were very lucky to have only very minor ones. The first happened on Thursday afternoon, when my maid of honor Meryl texted me to say that the Bangor, Maine, airport was temporarily closed due to a plane stuck on the runway. This caused delays and cancellations for a few of our guests and ended up resulting in my mom and brother not getting in on Thursday as planned and missing the dinner at our favorite lobster pound on Thursday night. And while that really, really sucked, air delays and travel issues are just a natural part of a destination wedding. If 100% of your guests are traveling to your event—as was the case with our wedding—there are going to be issues, and you just have to be ready for that. The important thing is that everyone makes it to the wedding, and my mom and brother arrived Friday afternoon with plenty of time to spare.
Friday morning is also when Andrew and I realized two things about getting married we hadn’t anticipated: (1) Getting married is like being a D-list celebrity. Everywhere you go, people wave at you, smile at you, want to hug you, etc. (2) Pursuant to number one, when getting married, you must budget 15–20 extra minutes into literally everything you do to spend time talking to guests who see you and want to talk to you. Someone will see you while you’re carrying your breakfast to your table and start chatting and hugging you and your breakfast will get cold if you do not extricate yourself. So those are my two nuggets of wisdom for you.
Our wedding welcome dinner was Friday night at the Lompoc Café in Bar Harbor. We called it a “welcome dinner” rather than a rehearsal dinner because all of our guests were invited. This is common etiquette for a destination wedding when all guests travel to the event. We chose the Lompoc Café because we wanted our guests to have an opportunity to check out Bar Harbor and we wanted a very casual vibe, with people mingling, ordering drinks from the bar and catching up. The Lompoc has a rustic cabin feel and there’s a covered, heated porch as well as an outdoor seating area with bocce ball. It turned out to be a great venue and guests mingled while enjoying delicious pizzas and salads made from seasonal local ingredients.
I have to take a moment to compliment our amazing wedding photographers, Brett and Jessica Donar. We did a photo session together in Acadia National Park, they shot our welcome dinner and then our whole wedding day. We could not love the pictures more. Brett and Jessica were laid-back and easy to work with, and their direction was totally natural. I felt comfortable with them right away and I think it shows in the pictures.
Andrew and I spent the night before our wedding together. Though I know the tradition is for brides and grooms to spend the night apart and not see each other until right before the wedding, that honestly didn’t appeal to me at all. I wanted to spend the night before and morning of my wedding snuggling with him, talking with him, being excited with him. Anything else would have felt weird.
The morning of the wedding, we encountered snafu number two. I had ordered custom table signs on Etsy that were supposed to be paintings of places Andrew and I had been together. The vendor, Lefty Lady Chalk Shop, had told me she was shipping the signs to the inn, but then a week before the wedding she stopped communicating completely and never sent the signs. I held out hope till the day of the wedding that they would magically show up in the mail…but they didn’t. (The Lefty Lady Chalk Shop has since disappeared from Etsy and Etsy refunded me, but this girl basically got away with it and never gave me an explanation.) My bridesmaids and I were forced to think on the fly to come up with a solution. I mentioned that I had black and white rough draft pencil sketches from the artist on my computer and my bridesmaid Marisa got to work cleaning them up in Photoshop, printed the signs in the inn’s front office and delivered them to Sue. All of my bridesmaids told me they thought the versions we made turned out even better than the final product would have been, but I was just grateful to have such supportive, helpful friends. The value of amazing bridesmaids!!
Around noon, I sent my Mom down to the tent to check on how things were looking because I knew she would be the perfect person to direct the look. She’s an amazing hostess and her house and table always look like something out of a magazine. When she came back up, the first thing she said was “Caitlin, the flowers are amazing.” I knew if Mom loved the flowers we were in good shape because her house is always full of them. A few minutes later the florist, Annie of Broadturn Farm, arrived with our bouquets and we got a taste of how beautiful they would be. The bouquets were full of vibrant fall colors—reds, yellows, purples—and all kinds of texture, including fallen leaves and eucalyptus. They were gorgeous.
Meryl helped me get into my dress, which was the Watters Beilin lace sheath with cap sleeves. I also wore my grandma’s fur wrap—her brother was a furrier and made it for her and it has her name embroidered on the inside. It was really special to me to incorporate her into the wedding in some way because she passed away a few years ago and we were very close. I also wore an emerald heart bracelet from my Mom as my something borrowed. It was so special to wear pieces from these two important women in my life.
We did bridal party pictures at the ceremony site, which gave me a chance to sneak into the tent and see it decorated for the first time—it looked amazing, honestly so close to image I had in my head. The long farm tables were left bare to let the deep wood show and then a garland ran down the middle with flowers and candles woven in. Each place was set with white china and accented by a vintage green goblet set on top of a custom coaster I created. The makeshift table signs looked great too. In one corner of the tent was a seating area with a deep green velvet couch and three antique armchairs in gold and green. In the center of the tent was the band stage and dance floor and on the other side was a rustic wood bar draped with a garland and the dessert table. The dessert table turned out totally over the top. We had cakes and pies from a local bakery, cookies from a Youngstown bakery and Momofuku in New York, and our family’s traditional dessert, kolache, homemade by my aunt and dad.
Before the ceremony, my bridesmaid Michele had asked me if I thought I would cry and I said I didn’t think so. I felt calm. I was doing great…until Andrew said his vows. Then I broke down and cried all through my own vows. The officiant actually started crying too! Afterwards all of our guests asked us if we knew her and said they had never seen an officiant cry at a wedding before! We used this set of vows that I found a few months before the wedding. I just immediately connected with the language—it was exactly what I wanted to say and captured how I feel about love and commitment. I shared them with Andrew and we agreed they were perfect for us.
After the ceremony, we took a few last pictures together. We followed a little trail behind the inn down to the shore and I jumped through mud in my wedding dress to get out to a rock so we could get a shot of us right on the water. Then we headed to our cocktail hour (more like hour and a half) so we could finally party! We specifically planned the cocktail hour to be a bit longer so we would get to enjoy some of it.
Around 6pm, the guests headed down to the tent, which was set right by the water. It was really, really hard for me to pick a first dance song, but we finally chose Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love,” which I think was perfect for us. We are really silly together and loved getting to laugh and smile and sing to each other while we were dancing to this. Throughout the night people commented to me on how great Silver Arrow Band was. They had amazing energy and two killer singers as well as a horn section (my personal must-have). Their range was also incredible—they played jazz at cocktail hour and music across the decades and for all ages at our reception. They are all young music students and graduates trying to make a living in the music business and their passion really shows in what they do.
About halfway through the night a bonfire was lit and that became a gathering place for people who wanted a quieter spot to sit and talk. At one of the band breaks, I saw Sue rush in and ask them to make everyone go outside the tent for a surprise. It was fireworks! My Mom and Dad had arranged them for us without me knowing! The fireworks were shot off from a boat in the harbor and honestly at one point I thought the boat was on fire. It was the perfect ending to an amazing weekend.
For those planning your own Maine wedding, my full vendor list is at the bottom of this post. I highly endorse all these people; they were amazing to work with! And feel free to email me with questions about any of them or planning a wedding in Maine—I’m happy to help!
Wedding venue: Asticou Inn | Photography: Brett & Jessica Photography | Flowers: Broadturn Farm | Rentals: Wallace Events | Vintage rentals: A Family Affair Maine | Band: Silver Arrow Band | Hair and Makeup: Echo Salon | Transportation: Acadia Transportation Services | Officiant: Malen Hsu of All-in-One Weddings | Rehearsal dinner venue: Lompoc Cafe
The first week in August, I traveled to North Carolina for my friend Jae’s wedding. Jae got engaged in April and pulled off an amazing wedding in only four months (and on a budget too)! Now, she has specifically asked me to clarify that a four-month engagement does not mean the bride is pregnant!! Since both she and her now-husband Jason are teachers, she really wanted to get married during summer vacation when she would have a lot of time to devote to planning and could just enjoy the event. And waiting over a year just didn’t seem right for her. Planning a wedding in four months seemed impossible to me, but Jae absolutely made it look easy. I was blown away with how easily she pulled everything together. But I shouldn’t have been—Jae is like the most organized, proactive person in the universe. Her wedding was beautiful and everything came together perfectly.
But Jae’s short engagement did mean that we didn’t have time to dedicate a full weekend to bachelorette festivities…so we decided to pack everything into her wedding weekend! That meant a bachelorette on Saturday, a bridal shower on Sunday, and the wedding on Monday! (One of Jae’s pro tips for getting married on a budget: Have a Monday or Friday wedding!) At first I was nervous about trying to do so much in one weekend. Honestly, I was worried that I would be totally burned out by the wedding reception. But it turned out to be fantastic! I think the key was that each of our events had a very different energy: we had relaxing spa time, a high-energy bachelorette night, a classy tea party. All of the events were so different and I thought we had the perfect balance of relaxing, socializing and fun!
I started the weekend with a plane delay that made me about an hour late for our bachelorette spa day. I have to give credit to the amazing team at Balance Day Spa in Greensboro. I had basically missed my massage time slot, but they were able to move some of their appointments around to make sure I got a 30-minute massage. And after a rough morning of air travel, I SO needed it! The spa is lovely and relaxing, with a peaceful lounge area in the women’s locker room where we set up a mimosa bar and other refreshments. After our massages and manicures, Jae surprised us with thoughtful bridesmaid gift bags. Each bag included a monogrammed silk robe to wear on the morning of the wedding, monogrammed clutches and (my favorite) a personalized framed memento of our friendship, in which she shared some of her favorite memories with each of us. The gifts were so thoughtful—there were definitely a few tears shed!
Afterward, we headed to dinner in downtown Greensboro at Liberty Oak, then back to the hotel for a bachelorette slumber party. Jae wanted a low-key night with her girlfriends with lots of laughing. We tried to incorporate a lot of Jae’s favorite things into the weekend—for instance, Harry Potter and FRIENDS. For her bachelorette favors, I found these awesome House Bride Harry Potter themed tank tops. Not only did they look great, they were also super comfortable—and the seller even rushed the order to get them to me on time. They were perfect. We started up a marathon of FRIENDS wedding episodes (half of the wedding party can quote FRIENDS on command) and played a few bachelorette games, including the fiance quiz, a bridal mad lib and a wedding version of 5 Second Rule (stay tuned for more on that).
The next morning, we hosted a tea party shower in the lobby of the O.Henry Hotel, which was also the venue for Jae’s wedding and where we were all staying. I cannot compliment this hotel enough. The service was superb. The night before, I must have called the front desk 10 times for different things—could we have a DVD player brought up, could we have a wine opener, oh no one of us is locked out of our room, oh no we can’t figure out how to make the DVD player work! Seriously, if I had any problem, I just called the front desk…and they fixed it for me. They were so generous, thoughtful and helpful. They really made our stay perfect.
For the shower, we served an afternoon tea for Jae’s friends and relatives, and played a “how well do you know the bride” game. Each guest left with a sprinkle party favor with a handmade tag you can download here. We also asked all the guests to bring Jae a recipe on a personalized recipe card and it was so fun to see the different recipes she got. They completely matched the personalities and tastes of the senders, from quinoa salad to ice cream bar cake. (My own contribution was a spice blend I use on everything…and yes, it’s Whole30.)
This backyard bridal shower got a splash of 70s style with flower crowns and bell-sleeved dresses in the dreamy California sunshine. Bride Kelsey and her bridesmaids popped a few bottles of champagne to get the party started while each guest donned a delicate baby’s breath flower crown. An adorable bunting banner displayed pictures of the bride and groom over the years for a twist on the “guess their ages” game. Mini succulents in copper pots served as a party favor, encouraging guests to “let love grow.” Dulcet Creative was there to capture the beautiful event.