Events by Reagan

From the Desk of Reagan

My Journey as a Destination Wedding Planner

July 25, 2017

Marble Inspired, Image by Rachel May Photography

One of the most commonly asked questions I get as a destination wedding planner is, “How do you plan weddings in places you’ve never been before?”  The answer?  I work really, really hard.

If you know me, you know that I don’t try to sugar coat things.  I like to be as up front and realistic as possible because false pretenses make me uncomfortable and I don’t like surprises.  So, I will not offer you a bunch of flowery language as to how breaking ground in a new destination is a piece of cake – because it isn’t.  It takes a lot of research, interviewing, trials, and vetting to assemble and trust a new vendor team that will flawlessly execute the effortlessly beautiful event that I have worked tirelessly to be known for.

What does that process look like?  To best explain, let me share a bit of my professional history.

Rose Garden Romance, Image by A Bryan Photo

In 2010, I moved to Charleston, South Carolina to take a position as senior event planner for a high end event planning company.  I left a job in Charlottesville, Virginia with a hugely successful event planner who, in recent years, has been voted by Vogue to be one of the top planners in the country.  It was a fantastic foundation to have under my belt.  I made the transition for many reasons, but the main one being that Charleston was the number one wedding destination in the country (well technically, number two behind Las Vegas) and I wanted to be a wedding planner in Charleston.  So sight unseen, I drove down for my interview, accepted, and moved to the Palmetto State three weeks later.

As an event planner in Charleston, it’s safe to say that 95% of your clients are coming in for a destination wedding, therefore the demand for event assistance is high.  It quickly became second nature to work long distance with every bride, usually only meeting with in them in person two or three times before the wedding.  When the couple or family was able to come into town, the day we would have with them would be scheduled full of vendor meetings, tastings, and site visits.  I learned how to be productive and effective in a short period of time.  In many ways, I think working with destination clients can be more efficient than working with local clients because you are forced to plan ahead and make the most of your time together.

Floral Island Romance, Image by Tim Will Photography

The best source of new business is referrals, so naturally with guests of destination weddings we would get called by a bridesmaid, relative, or guest who experienced our work first hand and be invited to do their destination wedding elsewhere.  While I was with my previous company, we were taken to Napa Valley twice (St. Helena and Calistoga), Atlanta, North Carolina, Virginia, San Diego, and Sea Island, Georgia.

And so it began…discovering and mastering breaking into new markets.  If I had to name one thing that kept us afloat and was our key to survival, it would be vendor connections.

THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why an event planner is so valuable – because of who she knows and, in turn, who her contacts know.  

What I bring to the table is a history of working side by side with multiple vendors, intimately learning what they do best and trusting them as experts in their fields.

As the number one (okay, number two…) destination spot in the country, it makes sense that Charleston attracts the best wedding vendors in the country.  So who do I call when I am hired in a new destination and know no vendors?  You guessed it, my Charleston professionals.  As the best in their field, they too are pulled to new markets.  If they haven’t served as the lighting professional or tent provider or florist in the location where I am headed, chances are they know someone who has.  Not only do I know and trust these vendors, but these vendors know my standards and what I expect of a vendor.  If they can’t come fulfill the job themselves, they will only recommend the best who will do as well of a job as they would.

Vendors and vendor connections are my lifeline.  They are my vetting process.  I owe so much to the vendors who support me to make my clients’ visions come to life.

Al Fresco by the Sea, Image by Julie Livingston Photography

Once I have the recommendation of my trusted vendors, the vetting process doesn’t stop there.  At that point, everything is in my hands to ensure that they can execute and are the best fit aesthetically and financially for my client.  This involves countless phones calls, site visits (when possible), logistical planning, and number crunching before the client introduction or contract is ever made.  And in some cases, I decide it’s not the best fit.  This is the hard work I’m talking about.  It is a process – much more so than planning a wedding in Charleston or a destination I’ve worked in before.  It is a process and it should be.  This is my value added as a destination wedding planner.  Any planner who tells you it’s a piece of cake is doing themselves a huge disservice.

Floral Island Romance, Image by Tim Will Photography

So how did I grow my destination business to be where it is now?  Out of necessity.  In 2012 I was married and transitioning out of my current job to leave Charleston full time to live with my new Marine husband who was stationed on the coast of North Carolina.  Events by Reagan was born and came out of the gates with a dream client.  Being just a few hours from Charleston, most of my weddings continued to be in the Lowcountry and I also had the opportunity to expand my markets.  In short time, I added New York City, Asheville, Charlottesville, Kiawah Island, Winston-Salem, Kansas City, and Charlotte to my laundry list of cities where I’ve planned weddings and events.

With each new location my vendor list grows, adding value to my services and freeing me even more so to keep going and keep breaking ground in new places.

While I have been working the Southeast vigorously for the last five years, I am ready to set sail and start working internationally as well.  I hope to spend the next five years expanding my business to serve as an international wedding planner for couples who see beyond US destinations.

My first opportunity is just a few short weeks away and my excitement is at an all time high.  What better place to get your feet wet than in the beautiful Tuscan countryside?

Italy, here I come!

Related post: Destination Weddings: Trending in 2017

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Sexy in the City… Kansas City Modern Romance Wedding Inspiration Shoot

July 12, 2017

It’s sexy, it’s moody, it’s fashion-forward, and edgy.  It’s wedding design that Kansas City has yet to see…

…and it was just featured on Ruffled!

As an event designer, I am always thinking of ways to reinvent the wheel, especially when that means pushing the envelope.  I feel like it’s my duty as a creative to keep things fresh and introduce new ideas to my clients.  It’s my job to inspire clients and fan the flame of passion within fellow wedding creatives.  When passions are ignited, great things happen and we’re reminded why we chose to go into the event industry in the first place.

This modern romance inspiration shoot was no exception.

The concept had been brewing in my head for quite some time… I wanted to create something beautiful in a chic, urban setting featuring a same sex couple.  This shoot needed to be current and what’s more current than celebrating and supporting marriage equality?  Our same sex couples are under marketed, especially in Kansas City, so I wanted to make sure they knew they had just as much of a home in our wedding industry as any other heterosexual couple – and that my door is always open.

Beyond the setting and couple, I envisioned a cutting edge design.  I wanted the same feeling and emotion you feel when watching a high-end fashion show. It need to evoke power and confidence.  I wanted it to command your attention.  It needed to be masculine and incredibly well tailored.  I wanted layers, textures, juxtapositions.  I wanted DRAMA.

About the time I was ready to start bringing this vision to life, I met Amy Loux of Flora Design Co. in Kansas City.  I knew from our first coffee date when it was all we could do to pull ourselves away from each other because we could have discussed wedding design all day long that she was the creative energy this shoot needed.  And boy, did she deliver!

From the very beginning, the only home in my mind for this shoot could be The Rooftop at The Brass on Baltimore.  The clean white walls, the showcase bar, its modern finishes, and a view of the downtown skyline – it was the only option for me.  Luckily, they were all about it.

The rest of the team came together too easily – they were inspired by the concept and their passions felt tangible.  Add energy to great talent and amazing things are bound to happen.

As things began to come to fruition, we decided why have one cake when you can have three?  Aleta of Adorn Cakes brought a trio of wedding cakes featuring the hottest trends in design.  Gold foil, marbled, and drip cakes…  The display, accented with stalks of pampas grass was a head turner.

I dressed the table with a sultry navy velvet linen from La Tavola and topped it with custom antiqued mirrors (edge to edge) specially made by local designer Cody Brown of R24 Studios (who also served as a model…love that man).  Keeping things clean and modern, I accented the table with lucite chairs.

As though the antiqued mirrors didn’t step up the table enough, I styled the table with mixed metals: burnished copper flatware, a pewter charger, black and navy china next to a mix of black and Waterford crystal glassware.

The napkins were made from men’s suit fabric, each tied with suede cord and a tassel, and every place setting was marked with a metallic laser cut name “card” calligraphed by loveletter studio.  Little Yellow Leaf brought her A game with chic glass menus printed in copper foil vinyl.  Ah!  The various textures and materials of this design made my heart sing.

We flooded the table with candlelight and Flora Design Co. adorned it with lush, dried arrangements of pampas grass and money leaf.  The cherry on top?  A dramatic overhead installation of pampas grass.

The romantic glow from the candles and reflective metals against the nighttime cityscape was everything and more.

#loveislove

Thank you to the amazing team of vendors!

Venue | The Brass on Baltimore
Planning & Design | Events by Reagan
Photo | Leigh Miller Photography
Florals | Flora Design Co.
Calligraphy | loveletter studio
Cake | Adorn Cakes
Graphic Design | Little Yellow Leaf
Rentals | Ultrapom
Videographer | Creative Films

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Tips for a Perfect Table

March 22, 2017

Today I highlight an event element with rules that remain unchanged, whether you’re hosting a private dinner party in your garden or if you’re planning a luncheon for the Queen of England.  For all of you hosts and hostesses, this element is the table.  Below are a few tips for a perfect table for any kind of event.

Julie Livingston Photography, Al Fresco by the Sea

Always set a table as if a photographer will be following right behind you and capturing your handiwork on film.  Any blemish that you see (or may not see) in person will certainly be seen in photos…and while your event may only last for the evening, photos will last forever.

At each event set up, my request of my team when setting the table is always “straight as an arrow.”  It is the most simplistic rule for setting a table but it will make the greatest impact.

This rule touches everything on the table except, potentially, the floral and candle arrangements (depending on their design).  Every chair, charger, napkin, each piece of stemware and flatware should be perfectly in line with its match at the next place setting.  Perfect place settings are not only lovely visually, they are little gifts to each guest letting them know that they have been thought of and are being cared for.

Julie Livingston Photography, Al Fresco by the Sea

When placing the chairs, you should never tuck a chair under the table.  The ideal placement of a chair is so that its edge is perfectly in line with the edge of the table.  If you’re using a table linen, the edge of the chair should rest lightly against the linen so that the linen still falls directly down to the floor.  When setting a long table with multiple chairs on each side, fishing wire will become your best friend!  I often tie fishing line to the first chair of one side of the table and then to the last chair on that same side.  This will give you a “straight as an arrow” line to then arrange the backs of all of the chairs in between against.  Talk about a stunner photo!

Lastly regarding chairs, if you are using a rental chair with a tie-on cushion, take the time to neatly tie each cushion so that you don’t have any flyaway bows or knots.  I like to wrap the ties around the chair back and tuck the knot and tails of the tie underneath the cushion.  This creates a band rather than a bow or knot – a nice and clean finish!

Leigh Webber Photography, Classic in the Carolinas

Do you own an iron or a steamer?  These tools are hands down the most important tools for a perfect table.  I never go to an event installation without them.  Press or steam out any existing creases in your linens, especially focusing on areas that will be focal points of the room such as the ends of tables and bar fronts (if you are having a linen-covered bar).  Ensure that the edge of the table linen rests straight across the floor and falls evenly on all sides of the table.

If you are using a rental table, add a table pad before tossing your linen to soften it.  If table pads are not available, thick felt also works wonderfully.  Once you’ve pressed and placed the lines, visit each corner of the table and form a nice box pleat as a finishing touch.

Pressing your napkins also makes a great impact.  Often our napkin folds serve as a frame to the menu and it is crucial that all of your napkins are folded uniformly.  To maintain a consistent size, tape out the dimensions of how you would like your napkin to be and fold each one on top of this tape.  Once the napkin is folded perfectly, hit it with an iron for a crisp, tailored finish.

A Bryan Photo, Rose Garden Romance

Whether you are arranging the flowers or if a florist is arranging them for you, ensure that the height of the arrangements are conducive to conversation.  There is nothing worse than having to talk around flowers, even if they are the most amazing things you’ve ever seen!  Make sure that they are either low enough to converse comfortably over or high enough with clear or thin containers that do not block the person across from you.

When designing your flowers, also consider having them arranged in containers that guests may take home at the end of the evening as a favor.  Or, if you can’t part with the display container, have several disposable containers in the wings to place flowers in for your guests as they depart.  Pretty, inexpensive mason jars are great for this!

Rachel May Photo, Marble Inspired

Lastly, if you would like to use taper candles on your table, there are a few things to consider.  If the table is outside, you will likely need to protect the flame from any possible breeze with a hurricane.  There are many beautiful hurricanes out there that can really add to the design of the table!  If your table is inside, be conscious of your air conditioning vents.  Sometimes vents positioned on top of or near the table will cause a taper candle to burn down incredibly quickly and drip wax onto your perfectly thought-out table.  In this case, taper candles without the protection of a hurricane may not be the wisest choice.  In any case, you can always purchase dripless (and smokeless!) beeswax candles to prevent wax from falling on your flowers and tabletop.

Now that you have some of the most essential tips for a perfect table, you can blow your friends and family away at your next affair.  Happy hostessing!

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Pantone Play on St. Patty’s Day

March 14, 2017

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and we thought why not create a beautiful setting playing with the pantone of the year? This inspiration shoot is Gaelic in the most subtle fashion and an inspiration for those wanting to give a nod to the holiday but without all the kitschy details.

We call it “Celtic eclectic.”

2017 is the year of not only greenery but of floral installations.  Amy Loux of Flora Design Co. in Kansas City was the creative genius behind this shoot’s floral design and the expansive white walls of The Gallery Event Space provided the perfect backdrop.  This ceremony wall installation was composed of Italian ruscus with ivy. The goal was to make it look like the greenery was naturally growing. We loved the feel of the stark, minimalistic wall with the organic, flowing elements.  Creating juxtapositions is one of my favorite things to do!

The bouquet and table arrangements were composed of cinnamon roses, parrot tulips, snap dragons and buttonhole feverfew. Amy selected a rose that had burnt-orange, coral hues but wasn’t too over the top orange. The yellow tones of the tulip helped to mute the brightness of the roses. She wanted a clean but earthy look with colors that gave a subtle nod to the Irish flag.

The table design is a little old world but with a modern sensibility, resulting in an eclectic feel.  Our objective was for the table to feel special and festive without being too stuffy.  We snuck in subtle clover on the table next to mix-matched green estate glassware and set the table with various patterns of vintage silverware.  Delicate ivy trailed along the tabletop, up the chair backs, and around the crisp, lace-trimmed napkins and the brass candlesticks and amber votives provided a nice warmth to the setting.

Hand torn and lettered place cards by Loveletter Studio were stamped with a burnt gold wax seal and placed on top of a stack of cut glass plates. All of this rested atop a moody charcoal velvet linen that offered some depth to this otherwise whimsical design.

Thank you to all of the participating creatives behind this shoot! It was a fun one to whip together.  Who knew St. Patrick’s day could look so good?!

Photography: Leigh Miller Photography
Floral Design: Flora Design Co.
Planning & Design: Events by Reagan
Venue: The Gallery Event Space
Calligraphy: Loveletter Studio
Rentals: UltraPom
Bridal Gown: Something White Bridal Boutique
Hair & Make Up: Bronzed & Blushed
Collective: A Fine Fête

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Destination Weddings: Trending in 2017

March 6, 2017

Image by Julie Livingston Photography, Ocean Course Wedding

If you haven’t already heard, one of the things that is trending for 2017 are destination weddings.

Hello Italy, Mexico, and BVI!

Finally more and more couples are catching on to this trend and it is no longer a concept for only elopements or second marriages.

Here’s why…

Image by Julie Livingston PhotographyOcean Course Wedding

Destination weddings eliminate the politics of who should be on your guest list.  We all have friends who have planned a hometown wedding where it just seems impossible to draw the line on who to invite.  You have your distant cousins, your parents’ work colleagues, your social club connections, your high school friends who you casually keep up with on Facebook but haven’t really seen in years but couldn’t not invite…  Before you know it, your list is way over where it should be creating a throbbing headache and mountains of stress.

With destination weddings, you gain more control over your guest list.  It is understood that only those closest to the couple are invited and, magically, the guilt of not including extended friendships on the guest list is gone and there tends to be no hard feelings in those who are not invited.

Image by Julie Livingston PhotographyOcean Course Wedding

What goes hand-in-hand with a smaller guest list?  A more intimate occasion.  For some couples, the hustle, bustle, and production of a big wedding can be distracting while for others it is a non-issue.  If you find yourself being distracted but the thrill of a big wedding, remove yourself from the fuss and escape where you have the ability to focus on your marriage – and sometimes that means finding an exclusive destination to exchange vows.  Everyone is different and never losing site of why you are getting married is the most important key to any successful marriage.  As a planner, I do everything I can to support my couples in maintaining that focus no matter how much or how little production goes into the day.

Image by Julie Livingston Photography, Kiawah Island Party

Speaking of focus, what a better way to absorb in the magnitude of your upcoming marriage than traveling to a beautiful destination to relax, unplug, and unwind in the days leading up to the big day?  Disconnect by arriving to your destination earlier the week of your wedding.  Allow yourselves some quiet time together and consider making plans for some down time with your parents as well.  I always encourage my couples to schedule at least a dinner with immediate family the week of the wedding because once the wedding festivities begin, you all will be swept away with your guests and your attention will be elsewhere.  Savor this special time and make a point to spend some of it with your family.

Image by Julie Livingston Photography, Ocean Course Wedding

Another reason why couples are so drawn to destination weddings is that they want to do something different – not the same old country club wedding that 15 of their friends have already had.  More and more couples are viewing weddings as not just a celebration but a statement of who they are.  It is much bigger than a party, it is an experience and a personal expression – and there’s no better way to provide an experience for your guests than by inviting them to travel with you.

As a destination wedding planner, I serve as the concierge to my couples, their families, and their guests.  I work closely with my clients to curate an experience their guests will never forget.  The planning goes beyond just creating a beautiful event, it is about ensuring that guest traveling is easy, that their arrivals and departures are seamless, that they are equipped with all of the information they need to explore the destination and make the most of their stay.  They are offered the best recommendations on where to eat and which sites to see and are given intentional down time away from wedding events to enjoy a little escape of their own.  My goal is to leave no question unanswered and allow your guests to feel just as cared for as if it were they who were getting married.

Image by Tim Will Photography, Beach Club Rehearsal Dinner

Last but not least, how incredible would it be to wake up the morning after your wedding and find yourself already on your honeymoon without having to get out of bed and onto an airplane?  Don’t wake up from the destination dream that you’re already in, stay there awhile.  Worried about privacy from your family and guests?  Book accommodations away from where your guests are hubbed and achieve the seclusion and alone time you deserve.

Need any more convincing?  I could keep going!  If you’re toying with the idea, I’ll give you a nudge.  It’s not as difficult as it seems and, with a good planner at the helm, it can be an experience of a lifetime for you and your guests.

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Strategize Your Event Design with These 4 Steps

February 23, 2017

You have new sparkle on your finger, your mind is a dizzying frenzy of excitement and ideas, you are trigger happy to start making things happen.  So much to do, so little time!

Before you get too carried away, make sure you approach your wedding in a thoughtful and strategic manner so that you don’t find yourself in a pinch.  Avoid backing yourself into a corner and get the most out of your planning process with these four steps to efficient event design.

1. Think BIG!

This is something that I rarely have to encourage brides to do.  Have you seen the Pinterest board they’ve been working on for um, I don’t know, YEARS?  Sometimes when the process becomes real and not just a distant dream, brides (especially their parents!) can get that deer-in-the-headlights look of “I don’t know where to start.”

The fear of how much things will cost creeps in, the worry of not knowing the event lingo for lighting, AV, and flowers is there, there’s the stress of what vendors to book and then the “OMG, I can’t find a venue!!” panic.

Before you know it, I see clients fixating on the small stuff like the cost per rental chair or if a florist will give them a discount if they supply the containers because, don’t you know, they have about 50 clear cube vases…

If this is you, stop where you are, take a deep breath, and THINK BIG!  

We need to identify what the big picture looks like before getting down to the nitty gritty.  It’s like approaching building a home – you wouldn’t start worrying about the light fixtures and wallpapers first, you need a complete and comprehensive plan, then you tackle the details.

So, without budget, apprehension and fear, what does your dream wedding look like?

2. Think Logistics

While you’re thinking big and we’re gathering all of these ideas, I’m helping you streamline them into an event storyboard.  So often brides have so much wonderful inspiration that all of it can start to feel disconnected.  Finding a common thread and figuring out how to bring all of these great thoughts together is what I am here for.

This process is also when I think about HOW this will all come together.  Much of this is done by me identifying which vendors are best for your vision.  Too often I hear the request for a vendor list.  Connecting brides with vendors is so much more than just providing a list.  It’s about hearing their wishes, understanding their priorities, learning their personalities, and hand selecting vendors that truly are the right fit for the bride, the budget, her vision, and will execute accordingly.

Here I go again with my analogies but asking for a vendor list is like asking an interior designer for a list of her recommended upholstery fabrics without sharing the who/what/where/why.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Determining your vendors and figuring out logistics – the how – of making things happen go hand in hand.  Slowly but surely through thinking big and streamlining ideas, we are piecing together a framework that will carry us to the finish line.

3. Think Budget

Ah, the word we all love to hate: budget.  Here is where we reign things in and see what is actually attainable within your budget.

Maybe you choose to splurge in one category, which means scaling back in another.  Possibly the food and beverage minimum at the venue you have in mind doesn’t make the best financial sense for you.  Or the 15 piece band you had to have really needs to be an eight piece band, which is still amazing!

This is not the time to get down if you see your dream wedding being chipped away.  This is the time to feel empowered that you are making a vision come to life and if you have a planner like me, she is going to make your budget go the furthest!  …which leads to the final point…

4.  Think Strategy

If you have to scale back, are there ways to do so without losing impact?  Where is the greatest bang for your buck?  Identify it and nix the frivolous stuff that only you will notice if it’s not there.

Ask your florist if there are more cost effective blooms to swap out for those driving up the bill that would achieve the same look and feel.

Maybe it makes the most sense to go with the in house linens so that you can go all out with the flowers.

Do you really need all five chandeliers over the dance floor?  Nix a few and still wow your guests!  Remember, no one knows where you started and it won’t feel like anything is missing.

Are letterpressed menus really necessary when you have so many other beautiful things on the table for guests to experience?  Save this nicer printing method for the invitations and the save the dates, too, if you have room.

There are many ways of making your dream vision and your budget work together and a wedding planner is one of the greatest assets in making this happen.

Just remember, when you approach design do so smartly with these four steps in mind:

1. THINK BIG

2. Think Logistics

3. Think Budget

4. Think Strategy

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Caroline + Tucker Featured on Over The Moon Blog

February 16, 2017

It is always such a treat when a blog wants to share one of your weddings with their followers.  This week it was Over the Moon Blog that highlighted Caroline and Tucker’s cheerful Charlotte, North Carolina wedding.  All of the delicate colors and vibrant azaleas have my heart longing for spring!

Here is the post – and to see the complete feature, visit OTM Blog here!

Caroline Burton and Tucker Griffith were high school sweethearts. “We met met at Charlotte Country Day School as high schoolers,” says Caroline, a controller for a commercial real estate company. “Tucker and I sat next to each other in chemistry class—no joke. This was before cell phones were everywhere, so Tucker had to call my house to ask me out one Friday night. After that date, we both had the assumption that every Friday night from then on was our date night.”

The two saw each other for a few years in high school, and then the relationship became more serious when they were finishing up college. “It was Easter weekend, and we were headed to meet Tucker’s parents at his family’s beach house on Figure Eight Island, but when we arrived his parent’s weren’t there, so I began to have my suspicions that this might be ‘the’ weekend. He had set up an ‘Engagement Easter Basket’ with a few small gifts, a bottle of Champagne and my beloved childhood stuffed bunny—holding the engagement ring box in her lap. When I saw the basket, I lost it. I will never forget the moment he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. We celebrated that night drinking Champagne and calling all of our friends and family.”

Caroline and Tucker knew they wanted to have their wedding reception at Charlotte Country Club, where Tucker’s parents celebrated their marriage in 1982. “I wanted a soft spring color palette with lots of traditional elements,” says Caroline. “Tucker and I just wanted a good old-fashioned wedding!”

The bride entrusted the bulk of the planning to Reagan Barnes of Events by Reagan and her mother. “I couldn’t have done it without them,” she admits. “I can be a bit of a control freak, but since I trusted them both, I was able to hand over many of the decisions. As a result, I wasn’t the least bit stressed on my wedding day.”

Caroline did a stint selling wedding dresses right after college so when it came time for her to pick one for herself she knew exactly what she wanted. “I fell in love with Vera Wang’s ‘Pandora’ gown because it had traditional lace but with an airy feel,” she says. “There are about four layers of different layers of lace and tulle on that dress. I wanted a full skirt and train for dramatic effect since I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to wear a dress like that again.” She accented the dress with sparkly Jimmy Choo heels, the same style her sister wore for her wedding five years earlier.

For jewelry, she wore aquamarine and diamond drop earrings that Tucker gifted her on their wedding day. They served as her something new and something blue. “I chose a simple veil, which photographed beautifully in the wind,” says Caroline. “I wanted my hair up in a classic bun and natural makeup. I added orchids to my hair for the reception and then for my going away outfit I changed into a blue and white Marchesa Notte dress. Not only did I want to keep with the tradition of having a ‘going away look,’ but my wedding dress would not have fit in the going away car: a 1967 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.”

Caroline walked down the aisle to a string quartet playing “Trumpet Voluntary” by Jeremiah Clarke. Reverend Lisa Saunders presided over the traditional Episcopalian ceremony, giving a beautiful homily, and then the string quartet played “Ave Maria.”

At the country club, the entrance was flanked by two large cherry blossom arrangements. Tablecloths were a mix of girard ivory and ice blue dupioni. “I was very specific about the flowers,” says Caroline. “Arrangements of pink tulips, orchids, blush garden roses, and peonies were scattered throughout the tables.”

For dinner, the couple chose to serve all of their favorites: shrimp and grits, fried oysters, seared ahi tuna, beef tenderloin, and potatoes au gratin. “My father gave a heartfelt speech welcoming everyone to the reception and also welcoming Tucker to the family,” says Caroline. The 12-piece band, Black and Blue Experience, kept everyone out on the dance floor. The couple’s first dance was to Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me.” “We wanted something classic and not too slow,” explains Caroline. “We are horrible dancers so we took lessons and learned a semi-choreographed dance. I’m pretty sure we were more nervous about the dance than actually getting married. Luckily, it came out mistake free!”  In between spins on the dance floor, guests grab caramels and macaroons on tiered trays for dessert. “Tucker didn’t want to go on stage, but the band ended up getting he and his groomsmen to sing ‘My Girl,’ which was sweet,” remembers Caroline. “He later told me it was one of his favorite moments from the party.” Guests could then grab caramels and macaroons on tiered trays while taking a break from dancing.

After the reception, the newlyweds were showered with rose petals on the way out. “We got the driver of our getaway car to drive through uptown Charlotte so all the Saturday night partiers got to see the vintage car with our just married sign,” laughs Caroline. The next day, the two took and early flight to Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands for their honeymoon. “I didn’t find out where we were going until the day of our wedding,” says Caroline. “Tucker planned the honeymoon all by himself and gave me a hotel brochure and a photography book of the island on the morning of our wedding. Before he planned it, my only stipulation was that we go somewhere tropical. He knows me well because he made a great choice. It was the honeymoon of our dreams—despite the 8:00 A.M. flight out—and the perfect ending to a wonderful and fun wedding weekend!”

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Kiawah Island Beach Club Rehearsal Dinner

February 6, 2017

Salty air, ocean breeze, muted hum of the margarita blender running…what’s not to love?!  This past May I had the privilege of rounding out my event season with four days of events scattered throughout Kiawah Island for Melissa and Tom’s wedding.  It was the perfect cherry on top as I prepared to kick up my heels for the last two months of my pregnancy, which hadn’t slowed me down yet.  So with a restful break in sight, I’d say we went out with a bang.

Melissa and Tom chose to host the rehearsal dinner and welcome party at The Beach Club on Kiawah Island.  A members-only oceanfront pool and restaurant, the location felt like home as Melissa and her sister spent many happy summers here with their parents and grandparents.  With so much family coming in from out of town and meeting for the first time, it was important to the couple that the setting be as laid back and comfortable as possible.  Beyond the setting itself, we made an effort that the food was equally as casual so that everyone felt at ease.  It was a carefree and fun way to roll into the wedding weekend.

Melissa and Tom know a thing or two about food – Tom serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Levy Restaurants – so to say that they are foodies doesn’t do it justice.  Toss in Melissa’s Italian blood and it’s clear that the importance of food and a good meal shared among friends and family is of the highest importance.  Melissa and Tom had some fun with the menu.

Designing it with the chef from scratch, we sought to feature each city that represented Melissa and Tom: New York, Chicago, and of course Charleston.  Our “Taste of New York” menu included New York style hot dogs, potato knish, Waldorf salad, mini pastrami sandwiches, and mini New York strip sandwiches.  For a “Taste of Chicago” guests could choose from Chicago style hot dogs (which I had never had before, delicious!), garbage salad, and a selection of Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizzas (the real deal, shipped directly from Chi-Town).  Representing Charleston at its best was 167 Raw with an impressive raw bar manned by two men complete with oysters, cocktail shrimp, littleneck clams, and ceviche bites consisting of Maine Dayboat halibut and local grouper…YUM!  A Chicago based chalkboard artist, Chalk-Out-Loud, designed two sandwich board signs to serve as table top menus.

The intimate dinner took place on the deck with entertainment from the soulful McKenzie Eddy with Elliot Smith on the keys.  Because of the ocean breeze, no linens were used.  Rather we stuck with the Beach Club’s wooden tables and brought in pub height farm tables for guests to perch during cocktail hour and afterwards at the dessert reception.  Melissa requested florals with greenery and pops of yellow in planted containers.  Lanterns lined the entry steps to the club and large white orbs were sprinkled along the pool deck creating an edgy party vibe for once the sun went down.

Toasts capped off dinner and the party opened to all guests for a welcome dessert reception.  Melissa and Tom served some of the club’s specialties: homemade oreos, ice cream sandwiches, and lemon squares.  I may or may not have had at least one of the ice cream sandwiches (did I mention I was eight months pregnant?!).  In addition, we flew in from New York a custom Baked by Melissa cupcake display of miniature cupcakes in the design of the couple’s initials, M+T.

Guests enjoyed more drinks, sweets, and live music under the moonlight while snapping away with custom SnapChat filters that evolved throughout the weekend with each event.  It was an easy evening and a happy way to roll into the the wedding day to follow, so much so that no one wanted to leave – the father of the bride was the last to get the “boot!”  After all, he needed his beauty rest for his surprise jam session with the band the next day, but that’s a story for another day… 😉

Cheers to the Funks!

Photography: TimWill PhotographyFlowers: Charleston Stems | Lighting: TEC | Rentals: Snyder

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Ocean Course Wedding Featured on BRIDES.com!

February 3, 2017

Waking up this morning to see that Patricia + Kevin’s wedding is featured on BRIDES.com has me doing my happy dance! I am delighted to finally share images of their al fresco oceanfront wedding at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island and am eager to feature their wedding on my website soon.

For now, please enjoy the wonderful feature on BRIDES.com!

When Patricia Koch was vacationing in San Francisco in June of 2012, her friend took advantage of the opportunity and arranged for her to meet Kevin Cahill. “Kevin was my friend’s boss at the time,” Patricia explains. Three years after they first hit it off, Kevin surprised Patricia with a proposal. “He’d asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner, and was surprised to come home and find me in pajamas on the couch,” says Patricia. “I got up to change, and that’s when Kevin handed me a card.” She didn’t think anything of it, until she looked up and saw Kevin on one knee. Says the bride of that special moment, “I keep the card on my vanity so I’m reminded of it every day.”

With the goal of treating their guests to a weekend that felt like a vacation (without the long-distance travel), the couple chose the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island as the setting for their April 30, 2016, wedding. “It’s close to Charleston, has incredible ocean views, and let us keep as much of our wedding outside as possible,” says Patricia. They opted to simply enhance the venue’s natural beauty, using white flowers and soft gray accents, as well as natural elements like succulents and sea grasses. The design, by Events by Reagan, was a perfect match for the stunning location, and the photos by Julie Livingston Photography are proof!

The combination of stark white paper and soft gray and sea glass blue ink gave the couple’s invitation suite an airy and ethereal feel. Equally ethereal was Patricia’s Vera Wang wedding dress, a lace silhouette with a full mermaid skirt. The edges of her nude Casadei sandals were a sweet and subtle “something blue,” and Patricia’s emerald-cut solitaire engagement ring is one that will never go out of style.

“I’d been to two other stores, and didn’t love anything I tried,” says Patricia. “I actually went to Vera Wang on my own, with a few specific dresses I wanted to try. They were much more simple, but when I put this dress on, I just felt like a bride.” She paired the fitted gown with an all-white bouquet of orchids, ranunculus, garden roses, lilac, and sweet peas. Dusty miller leaves added a hint of greenish gray contrast.

Kevin wore a navy blue suit with warm brown shoes. We love the idea of having a first look beneath the ceremony arch!

The ceremony aisle was lined with hurricane vases full of sea grass. The arch itself, made of birch boughs, was draped with ranunculus, hydrangeas, roses, and sweet peas.

Just before they walked down the aisle, Patricia and her father took a moment to practice their father-daughter dance.

The couple added a personal touch to their ceremony by inviting Kevin’s brother-in-law, who is ordained, to officiate. “He knows us both, and was able to add sweet and special anecdotes to the proceedings,” says Patricia.

Dinner was served on the lawn, where the newlyweds created an intimate setting for their 135 guests by seating them at two 72-foot tables. Hardwood tables and a mix of soft white flowers kept the reception feeling airy and natural.

Centerpieces combined white hydrangeas, roses, and tulips with pillar and votive candles. Soft gray linen napkins were topped with either succulents or sprigs of lavender. The menu included a duo of filet mignon and shrimp and grits, and specialty cocktails were cava and Arnold Palmers—perfect for the golf course setting!

Instead of escort cards, guests found their seats with a custom watercolor diagram perched on a wall of greenery. The al fresco dinner took place alongside the clubhouse, overlooking the lawn where the dancing tent had been pitched.

The open sailcloth tent provided the perfect setting for an evening of dancing and revelry. Three oyster shell chandeliers hung over the dance floor, and clusters of lounge seating and lanterns filled the space.

Kevin and Patricia’s first dance was to “Lay Down” by Son Little. In addition to a small vanilla cake, the couple served key lime tartlets, mini chocolate bourbon pecan pies, blueberry almond crisps, and cookies from their favorite bakery in their hometown of New York City, Momofuku Milk Bar.

At the end of the night, the newlyweds made their exit beneath streamers and banners reading “Hooray!” and “Congrats!”

“Hiring a wedding planner was the best decision we made,” says Patricia. “Reagan made the process so much more enjoyable. I didn’t have to worry about a thing, knowing that I had her to help me every step of the way.”

Many thanks to all of the incredible vendors involved!

Venue & Catering: The Ocean Course || Wedding Planner: Events by Reagan || Bride’s Wedding Dress: Vera Wang || Shoes: Casadei || Hair: Mac McAbee || Makeup: Diedre Outlaw of Studio M Charleston || Wedding Bands: Cartier || Flowers: Stems || Invitations & Menus: Oscar + Emma || Calligraphy, Seating Chart & Custom Watercolor: Brown Fox Calligraphy || Welcome Gifts: A Signature Welcome || Music: Calvin Taylor; Quiana Parler & The Shiny Disco Ball Band || Cake: Sugar Bake Shop || Rentals: EventHaus; Snyder Events; La Tavola || Favors: Olde Colony Bakery || Tent: Sperry Tents Southeast || Lighting: Distinctive Events || Photographer: Julie Livingston Photography || Dresser: Cacky’s Bride + Aid || Transportation: Charleston Style Limo

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New Kansas City Wedding Featured

January 24, 2017

I just uploaded a new Kansas City wedding onto my site and love, love, love seeing a city skyline worked into my portfolio!  While rolling hills and marsh grass will always be at the root of my soul, there’s nothing like breaking into a new scene…especially when your couple makes it look so good!

This wedding took place in October at the new Grand Hall at Power & Light.  In fact, we were the first wedding to take place in the stately new venue!  I love being a ground breaker in any situation, that’s a big reason why I love destination planning so much.  It’s challenging yet refreshing to work in unchartered territory, always leading to new ideas and exciting results.  I’d say we christened this new event space with a bang!

Here are a few of my favorite images from Kerri and Mark‘s wedding, photographed by the talented Jamie B. Photography.  They so artfully capture such emotion and movement!  For more, visit the full feature here.

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