When you combine two of my all-time favorite aesthetics, Southern style and 1920’s glamour, I can be found dreaming of Gatsby amid old oaks, soaking up photo after photo. Add in the utter perfection of a plantation soiree and I’ve officially found my happy place. Kate Belle brought these fantasies to life and I’ll be forever grateful to this gorgeous Bride for introducing me to such a creative style combination.
From The Bride… Ross and I met in college, almost exactly eight years before our wedding day. We wanted an event that reflected how close we, our friends, and our families had become over the years, an intimate event. We also knew that we would have about 200 people at our wedding, so a real challenge for me was figuring out how to create an intimate environment with so many people.
I wanted our wedding and reception to feel relaxed and comfortable yet polished and sophisticated. The concept for the day that we chose was Gatsby meets the Deep South. It would have elements of 1920s opulence like an event at Gatsby’s mansion, but it would also have that charming, rough-around-the-edges feel of an old plantation home.
We knew we would be having our wedding ceremony at the church I grew up attending, First United Methodist Church in Albany, Georgia. It is an old church with a large, formal sanctuary with beautiful stained glass windows and lots of dark wood.
We selected an old plantation in my hometown of Albany, Georgia, Blue Springs Plantation, for the reception. Although manicured in just the right ways, the plantation had an unkempt feel to it that tended to leave guests feeling transported back in time. The dirt road to the plantation home was lined in old oak trees that draped over it in just the right ways. There was a beautiful ivy arch separating the back courtyard of the home from the vast field behind it. And the house itself was just as charming, with beautiful old wallpaper, antique furniture, and family portraits. It felt homey but really special. It also lent itself well to creating comfortable little sitting areas for visiting, which would allow guests to have quieter conversations amidst the noise of the reception. The house also had a beautiful second-floor balcony, overlooking the courtyard.
Because of the natural and complex beauty of both the church and the reception site, we decided to go with fairly neutral colors, blush, dark green, and white. We also wanted to be able to add special, personal touches here and there without the space feeling cluttered. The groomsmen wore green bowties with their own tuxs. The bridesmaids wore flowing, Grecian-style, floor-length blush dresses. We also decided to go bold yet simple with our flowers and greenery. In the church, we decorated almost exclusively with drake elm trees. At the reception, we wanted the flower arrangements on each table to have a natural, flowing look, as if someone had hand picked and clustered beautiful flowers for each table.
As a gift for each of my bridesmaids, I (with the help of my mother!) hand-selected gold and crystal earrings for each of them at Scott’s Antique Market in Atlanta, Georgia. I found some vintage earrings for myself there too. We all changed from simple stud earrings to these sparkling, vintage pieces on the way to the reception.
We wanted our guests to feel as if they were with us in our own home, like family, so we wanted to use dishes and serve food items as we might have done in our own home! Going with the 1920s theme (and because our crystal champagne glasses are this style!), we decided to offer our guests champagne served with saucer-style glasses. The china we ate off of was white with a gold rim, much like the Herend china pattern we had selected for ourselves.
We also chose to assign tables but not seats. Because Ross and I have moved so many times over the years, we decided to name (instead of number) the tables after streets we had lived on over the years and encouraged our guests to “find a seat on a street where we’ve lived.” We used hand-painted gold picture frames to frame these street names, which were written in calligraphy. Dinner itself was served family-style, as we thought the activity of sharing food with one another might encourage more communication between our guests.
Our wedding cake was strawberry with strawberry icing, and we asked our cakemaker to use my grandmother’s recipe, which she made for me when I was growing up. Granna has always called me her “strawberry girl,” as I did not like chocolate when I was young.
The rest of the food was an assortment of mine and Ross’s favorite dishes from restaurants (that we worked with our caterer to mimic!). We also served spicy pecans (using my recipe) at each of the bars throughout the night.
Throughout the reception site were little messages from us, including one at each of the bars that encouraged guests to try their beers “dressed,” garnished with lime and salt! This was a recommendation from Ross, and offered a little hint of the influence of his San Antonio culture.
Ross and I choreographed our first dance together. Instead of a father-daughter dance and mother-son dance, we decided to have our entire immediate families dance together to the song “We are Family.” For our last dance, we made a sad attempt at re-enacting the final song from the movie Dirty Dancing, “The Time of My Life.” This is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time.
At the end of the night, we (with the help of Joan Shaddock), packaged pecan divinity for our guests to take home. Attached to each box was a little note, saying “we hope your time was divine!”
Photography: Kate Belle Photography | Event Planning: Kate Grubb | Flowers: Flowers By Derrell | Wedding Dress: Carol Hannah | Cake: Gail Lawrence | Church: First United Methodist Church Of Albany | Reception: Blue Springs Plantation | Bridesmaids Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids - By Joanna August | Catering: Cousins Catering | Hair & Makeup: Backstage Salon | Band: Rhythm Nation | Groom & Groomsmen Bowties: The Tie Bar | Hotel & Car: Merry Acres Inn | Marquee & Lighting: Rental Depot | Wedding Director: Joan Shaddock