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Chic and Modern Surprise Wedding

There is nothing quite as exciting or fabulous as a surprise wedding. And this version crafted by Ashley Baber Weddings (in one month!) takes the ease of a fabulous dinner party and mixes in the best parts of a wedding – the love, the family, the ceremony – in such an intimate and unexpected way. The images by Harwell Photography speak volumes for just how magical this day must have been. See it all right here.

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Spring
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From The Bride… Earl and I knew each other in passing in college, but did not travel in the same social or academic circles. In fact, I distinctly recall having the impression that he didn’t seem to like me very much at all. Life found us in various different cities and coasts, but with one very dear friend in common with whom I traded texts every morning. She mentioned him in passing from time to time and I thought nothing of it ­ well apart from believing he didn’t like me very much (he looked at me in a strange way!). And then one night I had a dream that Earl and I were together at an outdoor event and that he was my husband. Of course, I mentioned the dream in my morning text, as it seemed so completely bizarre. After all, I hadn’t seen or really thought about Earl in over 16 years, when we bumped into one another by chance on a crowded New York City street. Her response? “Weird. I’m on the phone with him right now. Will call in a few.” And with that, an idea germinated. She would later say that she didn’t know why she hadn’t thought of orchestrating the match sooner. It seems I misinterpreted the nature of those strange looks and after trading emails and telephone calls, he flew to Los Angeles for our first date. Before our second date, he told me he thought we should marry. Eight months later, we secretly married in a courthouse ceremony in Santa Barbara, California with my best friend and my father in attendance on what would have been my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Five days later, I moved to Atlanta to join Earl and begin our life together.

I’ve never been a wedding person, but having an actual wedding was important to Earl so we compromised, agreeing upon a short invitation list, a great dinner party and fabulous food and wine. As I began thinking through our wants and must­haves, it occurred to me that we might avoid some of the traditional wedding stressors, by planning a surprise wedding. Earl was game. We had settled on Quinones at Bacchanalia for our dinner venue and I had fallen in love with and ordered Monique Lhuillier’s Candy in blush prior to my move from Los Angeles. A friend connected me to the brilliant Tifany Wunschl of Gourmet Invitations who designed our invitations and related stationery. She is a master at drawing from you what you really want and integrating the competing tastes and styles of opinionated brides and grooms. We received countless compliments on our invitations, which matched the blush color of my dress and informed the color palette for the evening.

A dinner party/wedding for thirty should be an easy enough event to plan in a new city right? As it happens, not so much. A month before the event (yes, a month!) I engaged the unparalleled and unflappable Ashley Baber of Ashley Baber Weddings to coordinate our Engagement
Dinner Surprise Wedding. She connected me to the remainder of my dream team of creatives, notably the incomparable Scoobie West for hair and makeup, the inspired Jeremy Harwell, for photography, Eva Behrendt who expertly designed our tablescapes and candlelit altar and Ed Wilson who partnered with us to craft and deliver a personalized marriage ceremony, perfect for us.

On March 16, 2013, we gathered in the restaurant’s outdoor courtyard with our closest friends and family for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, enjoying the unexpectedly mild weather. At the appointed hour I slipped away to change into my wedding dress while our guests were welcomed into the dining room, then utterly transformed by Eva Behrendt’s team in mercury glass, candlelight, peonies and English roses. At each place setting, atop the menu card laid a program card, which began: Welcome to Tanya and Earl’s Engagement Dinner Surprise Wedding! (wording suggested by Tifany Wunschl – see! I told you she’s brilliant!). From our respective locations, Earl and I had the delicious thrill of listening to the emotional gasps of wonder and tears of joy as guests realized they were actually attending our wedding. The music began and we were married in candlelight in front of the people that we most loved amidst the sobs and raw emotion that surprise weddings evoke because no one is prepared – everyone is in the moment!

What followed was a glorious evening of exceptional food, wine, and first-rate yet unpretentious service by the acclaimed Quinones at Bacchanalia against the backdrop of a playlist of songs 
we loved. There were so many highlights but our favorite moment was when our guests spontaneously began singing along to Larry Graham’s, One in a Million together. As each person realized that the others were singing as well, the singing grew louder. It was a beautiful, impromptu and unifying moment during which Earl and I knew that, with the help of a great team, we had achieved what we had hoped for –­ a seamlessly executed evening that was
elegant and warm without the stuffiness and false formality we abhor. A year later, I am typing this narrative with one hand because I’m holding our newborn in my other arm. Some dreams do come true…

Photography: Harwell Photography | Event Planning: Ashley Baber Weddings | Invitations: Gourmet Invitations | Reception Venue: Quinones

Gourmet Invitations and Harwell Photography are members of our Little Black Book. Find out how members are chosen by visiting our FAQ page.
Gourmet Invitations

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Harwell Photography

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Colorful Picnic Inspired Wedding In Savannah

There are few things I love more than the laid-back goodness of a backyard (or in this case, living room) wedding — especially when it’s this beautiful. You’re also basically guaranteeing success when you have the floral prowess of Fern Studio Floral on your side. Just take a look at Jade and Matthew Take Pictures’ stunning photos of the event, and you’ll see what I mean!

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Summer
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From Jade and Matthew Take PicturesLeigh and Kathryn wanted a backyard picnic feeling in their wedding. No fuss just good times! A little rain changed some of their plans but they went with the flow. They had fun pops of color throughout their wedding. Then everyone danced the night away with some good ole’ music!! The ceremony was at the Kathryn’s Parent’s House on beautiful Bluff Drive.

Photography: Jade And Matthew Take Pictures | Floral Design: Fern Studio Floral & Event Design | Reception Venue: Isle Of Hope Marina | Band: Damon And The Shitkickers

Jade + Matthew Take Pictures is a member of our Little Black Book. Find out how members are chosen by visiting our FAQ page.
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Romantic Savannah Wedding

Infuse the lovely backdrop of Savannah with a sweet pink, light green and beige combo, and we’ve got ourselves a soiree full of pure romance. A soiree that the Bride & Groom lovingly planned from across the country with the help of Blue Mason Jar Studio. And the result is love, sweet love in the form of this beautiful gallery from Concept-A Photography!

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From Blue Mason Jar Studio… Cassie Barnard & Paul Archer wedding will forever be close to my heart! Cassie contacted me from Portland, OR and was in need of a lot of help since they were so far away. Why Savannah?? In the early summer of 2011, Paul and Cassie took a trip to Savannah, GA where Cassie grew up, and Paul proposed (on one knee!) down on the riverfront. Cassie of course said yes and the wedding planning began! Cassie and I were in constant contact throughout the planning process even with the time difference. Their wedding turned out absolutely gorgeous and I remember Cassie saying something to the effect, I never imagined having a dream wedding, but this truly turned out to be a dream wedding!

Some interesting facts about their wedding… Total guest count: approx 66, the groom’s cake is the logo of Newcastle United Football team from Newcastle, England – Paul’s family is from the UK and this is one of his favorite teams, Paul’s mother sang at the ceremony in a beautiful operatic voice (during the rehearsal I was shocked by how beautiful her voice was since I didn’t expect this!), guests traveled to their wedding from near and far, Cassie and her friend worked together to design/print the escort cards and menus, Paul and Cassie designed their wedding programs and printed them their selves, and for their send off after the reception the guest waved American and British flags as Cassie and Paul were whisked away by a pedicab. I did not help with setting up the rehearsal dinner, but was a guest, and LOVED what their family did for the picnic style theme – sunflowers, mason jars, milk glass vases, southern cookin’, burlap, live music – so cute!

Photography: Concept-A Photography | Event Planning: Blue Mason Jar Studio | Floral Design: A To Zinnias | Wedding Dress: Lena Medoyeff | Cake: Two Cakes | Invitations: Dodeline Design | Ceremony Venue: Whitefield Chapel | Reception Venue: 10 Downing | Bride's Shoes: Etienne Aigner | Bridesmaids Dresses: Ann Taylor Loft | DJ: All About You DJ | Event Planning Assistant: Ivory + Beau | Hair : JW Salon | Makeup: Beyond Beautiful By Heather

Concept-A Photography is a member of our Little Black Book. Find out how members are chosen by visiting our FAQ page.
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