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Dine by Design Catering Spotlight

Happy Wedding Wednesday SMPers! I think it’s time for a little spotlight, don’t you? We have our fair share of convo about gorgeous dresses, lovely blooms and the little details that make a wedding come together. But we don’t give the wedding dinner the love it truly deserves—what do you think fuels all that late night dancing?! So, we’ve brought in one of our talented caterers, Dine by Design to let us in on some of the tips that make weddings so tasty.

SMP: Tell us a bit about yourself. What is Dine by Design?

DBD: Over seven years ago, in March of 2006, I opened Dine by Design Catering in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. Ever since, we’ve been happily catering from Pensacola to St. George Island, though most of our events take place along beautiful Scenic 30A, in south Walton County. At a “certain age”, my lifelong love affair with food led me to leave a successful career in the software biz and into culinary school in New York City. After graduating from The French Culinary Institute, I spent eighteen months in Paris completing an apprenticeship at a Michelin starred restaurant, before moving to Northwest Florida and opening Dine by Design Catering.

Dine by Design is a boutique catering company, which means that we don’t expect to be all things to all people. We are chef-owned, so our food is certainly a priority, and we cook everything from scratch. We have a passion for food and believe that it should be fun! That said, we take great pride in our customer service, and receive great reviews for that as well.

SMP: Favorite part of your job?

DBD: Menu creation! Our goal is to understand a client’s specific tastes, in order to be able to put together a menu that speaks to them personally. It’s always a challenge, but a fun one, and we get it right because we listen.

SMP: How early in advance should a couple meet with a caterer?

DBD: Our market is unique.The months of April through June, and September through October are very busy for weddings in this region. If a client is planning an event during those months, I’d recommend sealing the deal with your major vendors as soon as possible. There are also specific dates that book up quickly; for example if you were interested in 10-11-12, that’s the sort of date that you’d better hop on right away. In addition, the earlier you establish a relationship with your vendors, the longer you will have to develop a rapport with them; and a great rapport will a vendor will really help you during those final, dizzying, tense days!

SMP: What are some budget friendly ways to fancy-up a wedding meal?

DBD: In general, a buffet will be less expensive than a seated meal, simply because it requires less labor. However, if you stock your buffet with beef tenderloin and pretty grouper, it could end up being more expensive! Also, if you’re a foodie, and upscale food is important to you, you might want to consider scaling down the number of guests to serve the sort of meal you want. Another choice to consider is the number of dishes you serve. A caterer never ever wants to run out of food, so the greater the variety, the more expensive a buffet will be, because there are that many more dishes to “cover”.

SMP: What percent of a wedding budget do you recommend setting aside for catering?

DBD: The average is ten percent of your total wedding budget. Naturally that depends on tastes, however, so it’s possible that food just isn’t a big deal for you (gasp!), and you might be able to get away with a little less.

SMP: Any advice for Brides & Grooms on the big day?

DBD: BREATHE! Have fun! Take it all in, so that you remember the day well after it is over. If you choose vendors that you trust, they will handle everything for you and your special day.

Catering: Dine by Design Catering

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Destination Wedding at Watercolor Resort from Stephanie Rhea

Drop-dead gorgeous weddings and rainy days at the beach- two of my favorite things.  And when the two combine for a breathtaking Watercolor Resort affair from Stephanie Rhea Photography?  Absolutely amazing.  Because overcast skies, pristine beaches and uber-romantic stylings always, always deliver the pretty.  Add in a bundle of beautiful blooms from Fisher’s Flowers, a stunning gown from Elizabeth Fillmore and two seriously adorable cuties and we’re calling this the perfect Tuesday treat.  See so much more in the full gallery.

From Stephanie Rhea PhotographyAlthough it rained almost the entire day of this Santa Rosa Beach destination wedding, it was one of my favorites. Both Kate and Greg work in the design world, and their wedding details reflected it, including the Save The Date cards designed by the groom himself and the labels for the honey jars that just happened to come from Kate’s father’s bees. California guy + Mississippi girl = a match made in Heaven!

From the Bride… For Greg and me, it was easy to decide a destination wedding was for us. Our families stretched from north to south and coast to coast, and we wanted to bring them and our closest friends together in one place… where you could walk or bike everywhere you wanted or needed to be. As a native Mississippian, I was drawn to Hwy 30A and Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, where I had spent many years vacationing with my family. Greg, who grew up in California, wasn’t familiar with the area, but was hooked after just one visit, as we were planning for where our wedding would be. I was not surprised. Watercolor would be the place… a place that has focused on retaining open and natural spaces, with beauty and character in their own right.

I was not one to have ever really thought about what the details of our wedding day would be, but our goal was to be sure that the natural character of the spaces we chose were complimented, not covered up. The location of our wedding was already a special place. We worked closely with Fisher’s Flowers, from design concept to fruition, to add to what was already a natural and peaceful environment. Both Greg and I are in design related fields and were able to create some of the elements, from the rehearsal dinner to the reception, that made it all feel unique. One of my favorites was the label for my dad’s honey jars, which were favors for our guests.

Did I mention that it rained more than I have ever seen it rain before at the beach? Here is a lesson. We had all, of course, hoped for wonderful warm sunny weather. But, there was something about all the umbrellas and the light drizzle leading up to and during the wedding, while we all were gathered closely under a tent, that was very special. The rain added an element and a kind of sacredness that is hard to explain. And, lucky for us, it stopped just as the ceremony ended, allowing us to make a dash to the beach with our wonderful photographer, Stephanie Rhea, to capture a personal moment for me and Greg. I have never seen the beach that way, without anyone else on it. The light and colors were almost surreal. It was perfect.

There are too many good memories to list here… from all of the preparation, the gentle rain that fell during the actual wedding to being in the company of family and friends, who traveled far to be with us on this most special occasion. One that I remember most is looking down the long family style reception tables, scattered with pots of rosemary, lavender, succulents and candle filled mercury jars and seeing all of us gathered, laughing and talking. It was like a big family dinner… one that we will never forget.

Wedding Photography: Stephanie Rhea Photography | Ceremony Venue: Western Lake Park, Watercolor Resort | Reception Venue: The Boathouse, Watercolor Resort | Floral Design: Fisher’s Flowers | Event Planning: Joseph A. Lanzy at Watercolor Resort | Rehearsal Dinner Invitations: Greg Magley (The Groom) | Save the Date Cards: Minted  | Wedding Invitations: Crane via Weddings Etc, Birmingham, Alabama | Wedding Dress: Elizabeth Fillmore | Shoes: Tory Burch

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WaterColor Inn & Resort

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Santa Rosa Island Inspired Shoot from Aislinn Kate Photography

You know who has the power to make an already uber-gorgeous inspiration shoot even more gorgeous?  Two real-life cuties.  That’s who. Two real-life cuties who happen to be this close to saying “I do” and smile as if the world is theirs in each and every photo.  (It sooo is.)  And when an adorable duo like that joins forces with the ever-fabulous Hemstitch Vintage Rentals and the crazy-wonderful Aislinn Kate Photography for a whole lot of “Message in a Bottle” pretty?  It makes for one magical Monday.  See it all in the full gallery.


From Aislinn Kate Photography… This is a styled shoot. We started with the theme of “Message in a Bottle,” which was inspired by our choice of location (my Nana’s beach house). Every detail we used was inspired by our location, theme, and models (who are my real-life clients, getting married next year). Here is a breakdown of the details and how we developed them.

The aisle markers are giant sea glass bottles, filled with rolled parchment. Antique bottles appear in almost every set.

Fresh herbs, picked from garden (groom is a gardener and chef). The aisle was strewn with crushed rosemary and lavender (the ceremony smelled as good as it looked). Lavender and rosemary-infused lemonades. Favors were potted rosemary plants propagated from the groom’s backyard (favor tags feature the line from Hamlet: “Rosemary, that’s for remembrance…”).

Vintage lace was rapped around napkins, tying herbs onto lemonade jars, strung across the rusty grill for the escort cards to hang to with clothespins, to – most dramatically – created a luscious backdrop of a lace waterfall during the ceremony.

Reclaimed furniture, found in yard sales and relatives’ attics. The piano bench is my favorite piece (we used it as the altar piece, seating at the dining table, and as a display for the paper products). Paper products are handmade with natural material, such as cork and burlap, in addition to traditional cardstock.

Since our couple is very literary, we incorporated quotations from Shakespeare (the bride’s second true love!) onto everything. All the paper products are made using the same materials and color palette: invitations, save-the-dates, response cards, menu, escort cards, favor tags, signage.

The veil is a true heirloom, having been worn in the mother-in-law’s wedding and loaned to the bride as “something old.” We love how the lace on it coordinates with the vintage lace carried throughout the shoot!

Wedding Photography: Aislinn Kate Photography | Wedding Venue: Private Beach Home in Santa Rosa Island, Florida | Floral + Event Design: Hemstitch Vintage Rentals | Wedding Dress: La Sposa via Pensacola Bridal Loft / Hair & Makeup: Rachel C. Nelson