Erin and Eric at the Wentworth Mansion

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I love a blush gown on a gorgeous, blushing Charleston bride! Erin and Eric tied the knot in the Grand Mansion Suite at the Wentworth Mansion this spring. It was an intimate, emotional ceremony with just their closest family and, boy, was it wonderful! After hanging out with Shannon from Riverland Studios for some great snaps, they joined their family and friends at Michael’s on the Alley for a beautiful reception. Congratulations Erin and Eric!

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Officiant: Ben Cokeley, Palmetto Weddings

Photographer: Riverland StudiosShannon

Florist: Bride designed florals herself

Hair and Make up: Paper Dolls

Carriage Ride: Palmetto Carriage

 

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Honeymoon Dreams

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Hello lovelies! I am so excited to leave on a cruise to the Bahamas TOMORROW!! I’ve been dreaming of sun and sand for weeks, so I figured it was the perfect time to highlight some amazing spots for the honeymoon of your dreams!

 

If you dream of the beach (like me!): Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico

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Back in the golden days of Hollywood, this is where all the big stars would come to relax in fashion. Now visitors are still treated to the same gorgeous views, but with the modern hospitality today’s traveler expects. Since it’s your honeymoon, splurge a little on an ocean view room at the Ritz Carlton Reserve.

 

If you dream of the mountains: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

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I drove through this little town on a West Coast road trip years ago and fell in love with the amazing views of Lake Coeur d’Alene and the snowcapped mountains. It’s so close to amazing ski resorts for the winter, but has excellent white water rafting and golf in the summer. There’s even Silverwood Theme Park for all of you roller coaster enthusiasts. Book a room in The Coeur d’Alene Resort and you’ll be right in the center of it all.

 

If you dream in French: Amboise, France

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This small city just outside Tours is conveniently located in the Loire Valley. You are completely surrounded by historic chateaux and amazing wines. What could be more romantic?! Stay in one of the chateaux at La Bourdaisière or put a little modern in your trip with the Hôtel Novotel Amboise. P.S. It’s just a short drive up to Paris to get your Eiffel Tower fix!

 

Whatever you dream of, there are always people (and websites!) out there to help, guide, and inspire you. Here are a few of my favorites.

slh-logoSmall Luxury Hotels of the World: This curated collection of hotels features some of the most beautiful properties from around the globe – all with less than 100 rooms or so. Join “The Club” for free to have access to travel perks like free upgrades and breakfast. Most of these properties can be a little pricey, so decide if splurging on your hotel is what you want to do with your honeymoon funds. Extra points to those of you that say the Wentworth Mansion sent you!!

 

cn-traveler-iconCondé Nast Traveler: You may know Condé Nast from the wide variety of lifestyle magazines they publish (Brides Magazine or Vogue anyone?) but they also have a great travel guide that always features the hottest in hospitality. Whether you want to go across the globe or just across town, Traveler can help you choose the perfect hotel and activities. Pick up the latest issue on newsstands or jump on the website to look for a specific destination.

 

thepointsguy-ticket-logoThe Points Guy: This has to be the ultimate travel website on the entire internet. It is definitely my favorite! The Points Guy, Brian Kelly, and his staff travel all over the globe to find the best places to go and how to maximize rewards points to get there and stay. If you belong to any hotel or airline rewards points club at all, this guy is a must follow! Check out the TPG Hot List for his top destinations of 2015.

 

No matter where you go, make sure you enjoy your time as a couple. Relax and settle into that new last name and your new life together!

 

Happy planning!

Engagement Photo Shoots

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I hope everyone is off to a wonderful start in the New Year! My year started out planning an impromptu getaway, so I couldn’t be more excited for all the amazing things this year holds. I’m sure many of you are getting used to that extra sparkle on your finger and settling in to the craziness of planning! One aspect of engagement that doesn’t always get much hype, but has come to be expected is the engagement photo shoot. Doing a photo shoot for your engagement is the perfect way to remember this exciting time in your life!

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There are a few HUGE benefits to scheduling an engagement shoot, other than the beautiful memories you will create.

  1. Get to know your photographer. I usually recommend using the same photographer for your engagement photos and your wedding. Not only does this usually save you a little money, you will also get to know your photographer and be more comfortable with him or her. This will mean even better photos on your wedding day! So start looking at the work of photographers in your area and find someone whose work fits your vision and style.
  2. Photos for Save-the-Dates and other wedding related paper goods. Years from now, you’ll love looking back at the photos from this special time, but you can also make good use of the pictures right now! Save the dates, holidays cards, wedding invitations, the list goes on. There are hundreds of gorgeous options, many of them easily available online!
  3. Be comfortable in front of a camera – as a couple. Not only do you need to be comfortable with your photographer, you need to be comfortable with that thing they are aiming at you! Having your picture taken casually is very different than posing for professional photos. Your engagement shoot can help you feel more natural holding poses (and kisses!) longer than you normally would, which definitely makes for better wedding photos!

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So now you’ve decided you have to do a shoot and you’ve found your photographer. The next part is really the hardest – choosing your outfit(s) and your venue(s). Yes, you may want more than one of each! As you look through other engagement shoots, you’ll notice that most have one casual outfit and one more formal outfit. For advice on choosing something perfect, I love the advice from my friend, Gillian, over at A Coastal Bride.

If you are anything like me, venue choice will probably not be as difficult as outfit choice. I’m lucky to live in a place that is pretty enough to have photos taken anywhere – downtown Charleston with the historic homes, the beaches with white sand, the plantations with gorgeous oak trees and flowering gardens, you get the idea. But you can really do a photo shoot almost anywhere! Think of a place that might have some sentimental meaning or somewhere you are both comfortable. I recently saw this shoot where the couple re-created their first date. How fun is that?!

No matter what you choose to do, just remember to have fun! That will make the best pictures of all!

Happy planning!

Congratulations!

 

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Happy New Year everyone! The holidays have come and gone again, and with them the yearly “engagement season.” I’m sure there are plenty of ladies out there sporting some new sparkle! Please share your stories and pictures with us!

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Unsure what to do next? Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Get a manicure. Tough chore, right?! You’ll be showing that hand off a lot more now, so get it cleaned up!
  2. Get that ring insured! It may seem frivolous, but most jewelry policies cover loss, damage, or theft 100%, so you don’t have to worry about replacement costs. Have the ring appraised by a jeweler you trust, then research different companies. I personally love Jewelers Mutual, but often you can have the ring covered through your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s policy as well.
  3. Take time to enjoy engagement. As exciting as it is, don’t start planning the wedding immediately. Take time to relish the new state of your relationship. Likely your ideas of what you want for your wedding will change as you and your new fiancé start brainstorming, so you don’t want to get locked into anything you may regret later.

Again, congratulations everyone!

Happy planning!

In Case of Inclement Weather

 

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Many brides and grooms dream of a sun-drenched, outdoor ceremony surrounded by their nearest and dearest, and while I hate to be such a downer, we all know this isn’t always the case. Even if you’ve planned every detail of the entire day, we all know that the weather is one thing you can’t count on. You can consult the Farmer’s Almanac and bury the bourbon but Mother Nature may choose not to cooperate. But with a little extra planning, your back-up plan can be just as beautiful as your first choice. And of course, you’ll still be surrounded by those special people.

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There are several things to consider when making your inclement weather back up plan. If you are doing your planning yourself, here is a guide of things to remember and share with those who will help you on your big day. If you have a planner or day-of coordinator, he or she will make sure you have all of your bases covered.

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When choosing a venue, make sure to bring up a back-up ceremony or reception location in your initial tour. Most venues will have something standard that they can show you. And take that location into consideration when making your venue decision. Did you like the back up location? Will all of your guests fit into the space? Will everyone be able to see and hear your meaningful ceremony? Make sure you are comfortable with your answers to these questions before securing the venue.

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As your plans progress, remember to consider the back up. Are there any elements of your décor that may need to be different? Does your venue allow the confetti toss you had envisioned indoors? Have your plan with any changes ready to go; you don’t want to be caught unprepared.

 

Choose a person to make the decision on the day of the ceremony and share that information with everyone. This can be your planner, someone from the venue, the bride, the groom, or anyone else, but ensure that everyone knows who that person is and that his or her decision should be respected. Also determine a time that the final decision should be made. This will depend on how elaborate your set-up will be and if the back-up location affects other parts of your set up at all. My recommendation is at least an hour and a half, even for a simple set up. No need to leave it to the last minute and stress everyone out on an already stressful day.

 

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Lastly, be ready with an umbrella. Go for something clear, or a cute choice that matches your colors, because you know you and your photographer will want to do at least a few snaps outside.

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If your beautiful outdoor plan falls through, don’t be upset! With your little extra planning, the indoor location will be just as beautiful. And at the end of the day, you’ll be married, and that’s all that really matters!

 

Happy planning!

 

Happy Holidays!

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Happy holidays, y’all! In the spirit of the holidays (and running late…), I’ve put together a last minute gift guide for your engaged friends! Just a few little things that every bride-to-be needs, but probably won’t buy for herself.

 

Every bride needs something for her special drink. I absolutely love  these koozies from Haymarket Designs and Tervis tumblers are always a good idea. She’ll love this bride design or one with her new initials.

 

Of course, every bride would also enjoy spa gift certificates to have massages and manicures leading up to the big day and beyond. Find a great day spa in town that offers a wide array of services for her to pamper herself.

 

Give her something for her peace of mind on the wedding day. This adorable Minimergency Kit for Brides has absolutely everything she would need and comes in the cutest designs!

 

For the bride that likes to escape into her music, pick up a pair of these amazing noise-cancelling phones or for the runner gal, get a pair of these wireless beauties.

 

Last, but not least, every bride needs something to show the whole world who she is. This sweatshirt from The Wedding Chicks is one of my very favorite and who wouldn’t love this adorable tee from J. Crew?!

 

VJ and Craig at the Wentworth Mansion

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What is more beautiful than a summer day in Charleston? A summer wedding in Charleston! This sweet couple tied the knot in an intimate ceremony with their nearest and dearest. And talk about the details! The textured lace dress, the amazing florals, and the list goes on. Can we take a minute to swoon over the gorgeous shots on top of the Wentworth Mansion cupola? Perfection!

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candids VJ and Craig and girls

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Thank you to the amazing vendors that pulled this little beauty together, and congratulations to the happy couple!

Location: The Wentworth Mansion and Circa 1886            Coordination: Aly Cokeley

Photographer: Andrew Donnan Photography     Florist: Tiger Lily

Hair and Make-up: Vanity Salon         Dress shop: Fabulous Frocks of Charleston

Happy Halloween!

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Happy Friday everyone! It’s an even more happy Friday than usual this week – it’s Halloween! Whether you’ll be handing candy to the neighbor kids or venturing out in your own disguise, have a great time and be safe! And to get you in the spirit, here is some Halloween inspiration for your wedding! (Don’t worry, Halloween can be done subtly if you don’t want to go totally spooktackular!)

How ethereally beautiful is this bridal session?!

 

This would be a great idea for a centerpiece or escort card display.

 

Even though this shoot is Halloween inspired, my book-worm side wants to steal some of that décor!

 

And an adorable fall engagement session, just for good measure.

 

Happy planning!

Bridal Market Fall 2015 Trends

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During the past week, New York played host to the semi-annual Bridal Fashion Week. Bridal designers got to show off their brand new, Fall 2015 collections to their loyal boutiques, bloggers, and fans. These collections are more exciting than the past few seasons, in my opinion. Designers recognized that today’s bride is looking to truly express herself through her fashion. They went back to their roots and as a result, produced gowns with more personality and more attention to detail. This also means that each collection is vastly different from the next! Brides have more choice than ever before.

I’d love to say that this was the season of the “no trends” trend, but a few commonalities did emerge from the varied fashions. Below, you will find the latest trends and my favorite examples of each!

Sparkle!

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Gowns this season glittered all the way down the runway. From fully beaded to soft shimmer, brides are going to have their choice of bling.

 

Color

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From nudes, peaches, and golds all the way to icy blues and even floral print, Designers were not afraid to play with color and pattern this season. Many of the gowns that were shown in color will likely also come in white for the more traditional bride, but designers are embracing the rising tide of brides looking to make a statement.

 

Texture and fullness

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Just as we thought the ball gown was finished, designers this season resurrected it with a bang! Full skirts abounded and textured fabrics ruled the runway. Maybe it’s the princess fever started by Disney or maybe it’s just fashion coming back around, but I love the return of the pouf!

 

Detailed Backs

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“How low can you go?” seemed to be the name of the game this season. Designers’ took the low back trend from last season to brand new heights (or should I say lows?). The plunging back was also accompanied by more detail – lace illusion, keyholes, and gorgeous trim prettied up this serious statement.

 

Sleeves

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Long, short, flutter, and bell – if there you have a sleeve shape in mind, it appeared on the runway this fall. Kate Middleton may have started it with her beautiful, long lace sleeves, but designers have embraced this trend and made it their own. Gone are the days of brides lamenting the lack of straps in the boutique!

 

I could go on and on about all the pretty details and pleasant surprises from the past week, but suffice to say I will be spending a LOT more time ogling these gowns.  If you’d like to see more as well, Brides.com has the most comprehensive coverage I have seen so far. There has never been a better time to be a bride! Let your imagination run wild, the designers are right there backing you up.

Happy planning!

 

Bridal Fashion Week Newbies

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Bridal market has come and gone and left us absolutely swimming in seas of gorgeous new gowns. While I take some time to put together some of the hottest new trends on the white carpet, I wanted to highlight some new comers to the bridal fashion game. These designers all presented gorgeous collections and I’m sure will be popular favorites soon!

 

Pamella Roland

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Pamella Roland has long been a staple of haute couture evening wear, and her first foray into the world of white doesn’t disappoint! She effortlessly elevates classic evening looks to wedding-appropriate fashion with a collection that can cater to every bride. I don’t think these designs are just beginner’s luck, so I am looking forward to seeing more next season!

Kate McDonald Bridal

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You may already be familiar with Katherine’s work as she is one of the masterminds behind the gorgeous LulaKate bridal and bridesmaid label! I was so excited to see one of Charleston’s own making it on the big stage. Her line didn’t make it down the runway this season, but she showcased her gorgeous creations at the Charleston Weddings party.

Astrid and Mercedes

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This line may have some familiar features, as it is a sister to one of my favorites – Lea-Ann Belter. Named after her two nieces, Lea-Ann created this line with the fresh, young, bride in mind. With easy styling and gorgeous fabrics (and a lower price point than her collection gowns), this is sure to be a hit!

 

I love to see the bridal world growing and evolving each season! I’m really excited about the new season of gowns because of the amazing variety. I feel like each designer really let loose and showcased their personal aesthetics this season, offering more diverse gowns than I have seen in a while! Enjoy these gowns for a bit and I’ll be back soon with the latest trends from my favorite designers.

Happy planning!