Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Carrie & Grady’s Romantic Fall Wedding in Downtown Raleigh, NC

Wedding flower crown with side flowers

Nothing is more beautiful than a bride’s smile on her wedding day, and Carrie’s enthusiastic smile shined from her early morning makeup session with Be Pretty Charlotte to the celebratory sparkler exit as she enjoyed every moment of her and Grady’s magical day.  Carrie & Grady’s love for one another was undeniable to everyone who gathered to celebrate with them, which is why so many of their friends and family didn’t hesitate to travel from far and wide to take part in their important day.

On a sunny afternoon in downtown Raleigh, The Glass Box provided the perfect backdrop for both the Father-Daughter and the Bride & Groom’s First Look Photos.  While the wedding party took pre-ceremony photos with Michelle Elyse Photography among the rooftops, the talented Mother of the Groom completed the finishing touches for the ceremony florals and decor she designed three floors below in The Stockroom at 230.

Following their beautiful, intimate, sunlit ceremony, guests were treated to cocktail and dinner receptions expertly prepared and served by the Empire Eats Catering team.  In a unique twist to the traditional wedding party reception introductions, each bridesmaid and groomsman was introduced individually with a personal bio cleverly written by the newlyweds.  The smiles and laughter that the personalized intros brought to each wedding party member were not only priceless, but set the tone for the fun, energetic evening that was to follow.

Thank you, Carrie and Brady, for entrusting us with your wedding day, which was so full of love that by the end of the night the entire Chestnut & Vine team felt like we were members of your family, too!  May your bright smiles and love for one another continue to radiate throughout your entire lives together.

All Photos Courtesy of Michelle Elyse Photography

Carrie & Grady’s All-Star Vendor Team

Photographer: Michelle Elyse Photography

Venue: The Stockroom at 230

Day-of Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Wedding Logistics Coordinators

Caterer: Empire Eats Catering

Officiant: Mike Bourla

DJ: Steve Duncan

Emcee: Joe Hagan

Florals & Decor: Karen O’Brien

Hair/Makeup: Be Pretty Charlotte

Bridal Suite: The Glass Box

Rentals: CE Rental

Cassidy & Tyler’s Industrial Chic Wedding | Hillsborough, NC

Bride & Groom in white tuxedo

A new job, a new city, planning a wedding, and packing for a move from Florida to D.C., all while a hurricane approached the Atlantic Coastline, did not faze these East Carolina University Alumni from throwing a celebration for the ages.  Cassidy and Tyler’s tenacity and positive attitudes were rewarded with a gorgeous Fall wedding day under vibrant Carolina blue skies.  The festivities began at The Washington Duke Inn in Durham, NC where the bride, groom and wedding party got ready in two of the Inn’s luxury suites before heading down to the WaDuke’s beautiful grounds for the First Look and wedding party photos and film taken by Richard Barlow Photography and Oak City Films.

Cassidy and Tyler were later married at The Cloth Mill at Eno River in Hillsborough, NC in front of their families and friends by the Bride’s uncle.  Some of the sweetest moments included their adorable flower girls and ring bearers, the mothers of both the bride and the groom processing down the aisle together, and the groom escorting the couple’s pride and joy, Raleigh, down the aisle to take her rightful place with the rest of the wedding party.  There were few dry eyes among the guests when the stunning bride walked down the aisle with her father as a string trio played in the background.  After the bride and groom were pronounced husband and wife, guests were treated to a selection of savory hor d’oeuvres expertly prepared by Catering Works while they listened to the music of Ron and Donna Davis, who were also good friends of the newlyweds.

The Cloth Mill Reception Setup with long tablesCassidy and Tyler brought an elevated elegance to their reception by using a combination of round tables, long tables, hightop tables and a king’s banquet table for their guests’ seating.  Each table was named in honor of a city that held a special meaning to the couple.  Catering Works out did themselves with a delicious array of food stations that included a colorful, decadent antipasto display.  After dinner, Sweetwater Junction amped-up excitement by getting the newlyweds and guests on to the dance floor for a non-stop dance party.  If guests found themselves in need of a short dance break, they were encouraged to help themselves to cake and donuts by Pastry Works, an expertly made cappuccino from Espresso Events Catering and Chick-fil-a sandwiches to curb their late night munchies.Newlyweds with Pee Dee Pirate at their reception

The most memorable part of the evening came when all East Carolina graduates were called to the dance floor for an ECU Alumni Photo.  Just as the photo was to be taken, Cassidy and Tyler were informed that a special guest wanted to be a part of the photo as well.  The newlyweds’ were blown away when ECU’s own Pee Dee The Pirate came racing out to their alma mater’s fight song.  These two loyal Pirates could not have asked for a more perfect way to end their incredible dream wedding thanks to some generous friends.

Congratulations, Cassidy and Tyler!  Thank you for allowing Chestnut & Vine to be a part of your wedding story.  It was an honor getting to know you both and to share in the joy of your first day of marriage.



Click here to experience Cassidy & Tyler’s Wedding Day as captured by Oak City Films

All Photos Courtesy of Richard Barlow Photography

Cassidy & Tyler’s All-Star Vendor Team

Venue: The Cloth Mill at Eno River

Photographer: Richard Barlow Photography

Videographer: Oak City Films

Wedding Coordinator: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Catering: Catering Works

Officiant: Jack Cloninger, Esq.

Reception Entertainment: Sweetwater Junction

Cocktail Reception Entertainment: Ron & Donna Davis

Ceremony Musicians: Ashley Kovacs

Bar Service: The Cloth Mill at Eno River

Florals: The Foraged South

Hair & Makeup: The Makeup Addict

Coffee Cart: Event Espresso Catering

Cake: Pastry Works

Linen and Dinnerware Rentals: CE Rental

Draping: Showtime Events

Specialty Decor Rentals: The Greenhouse Picker Sisters

Getting Ready Suites: The Washington Duke Inn

Transportation: S & H Transportation

Anna & Nate’s Colorful Spring Time Wedding at The Cloth Mill | Hillsborough, NC

newlywed photos hillsborough nc


NC State sweethearts Anna and Nate were showered with sunbeams as they said their vows before their friends and family at the historic Cloth Mill at Eno River in Hillsborough, NC.  Anna chose a bright array of spring florals that Julie Terry Florals used to design exquisite  bouquets and a ceremony arch that popped against The Cloth Mill’s industrial red brick.  Following their heartfelt ceremony that brought tears to everyone’s eyes, guests enjoyed traditional NC barbeque from local favorite Hillsborough BBQ and wedding cake and desserts lovingly made by the Bride’s mother, grandmother and cousin.  DJ Willis got the guests out of their seats and turned the joyous day into an even greater celebration of music and dancing.  As the end of their magical wedding day neared, Anna and Nate were wished well by their guests as they exited the venue in a captivating tunnel of colorful bubbles.

Thank you, Anna and Nate, for trusting Chestnut & Vine to coordinate your amazing day!  It was an honor to work with you, and Erin will never forget the “Spotted Cow” Anna surprised her with following her summer internship in Wisconsin.  Best wishes to you both for a long and happy marriage!



Photographer: Hailey Simone Photography

Venue: The Cloth Mill at Eno River

Wedding Coordinator: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Caterer: Hillsborough BBQ

Florist: Julie Terry Florals

DJ: Willis J. Entertainment

Officiant: Rev. Nate Ford

Rentals: CE Rental


Rebecca & Josh’s Urban Graffiti Art Inspired Wedding | Jiddi Space Raleigh, NC

Wedding Photo Raleigh, NC Murals

On a gorgeous mid-March afternoon, Rebecca and Josh wove together their love of urban travel and contemporary art to create a perfect wedding day in Downtown Raleigh, NC.  After getting ready at the Raleigh Marriott City Center, the happy couple met on the steps of the Raleigh Convention Center for their First Look photo session, where they were congratulated by the colorful characters attending NC Comicon: Raleigh. When traveling the globe, this fun couple goes on “graffiti art tours” in every city they visit.  So what better way to start their wedding day than by taking pre-ceremony portraits in front of their favorite outdoor murals scattered throughout Downtown Raleigh.  Veritas Digital Photography beautifully captured Rebecca and Josh in front of unique works of art and architecture that often get overlooked in the everyday hustle and bustle of the city.

The Jiddi Space and Courtyard was the perfect backdrop for their urban contemporary inspired wedding with its exposed brick and intimate lighting hidden from street view.  Rebecca and Josh designed their own escort cards and table numbers using photos they took from their many graffiti art tours.  Tre Bella’s gorgeous florals were placed in geometric shaped centerpieces that Rebecca built and painted herself, and the talented bakers at Edible Art created a contemporary masterpiece that perfectly complemented the urban decor.  Guests enjoyed an authentic Lebanese meal expertly prepared and served by the team at Sitti and were entertained under the stars by the one and only Al Sibille from Epic DJ Entertainment.

Congratulations, Rebecca and Josh!  Your unique wedding vision is one the Chestnut & Vine team will never forget.  (And we would be remiss not to mention that Rebecca has the good fortune of marrying an Indiana University grad.)  Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your special day!


Rebecca & Josh’s All-Star Wedding Team

Photographer: Veritas Digital Photography

Venue: Jiddi Space & Courtyard

Wedding Coordinator: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Hotel: Raleigh Marriott City Center 

Florist: Tre Bella Inc.

Hair/Makeup: Christy Swaso

Officiant: Rev. Christa Warise

DJ: Epic DJ Entertainment

Catering/Bar: Sitti

Dessert Bar: Edible Art Bakery & Dessert Cafe

Transportation: White Horse Transportation


All Photos by Veritas Digital Photography

Kaitlin & Chris’s “Game Night” Wedding Reception |NC State – Raleigh, NC

NC State Wedding Game Night Theme

As high school sweethearts who went on to become loyal NC State Alumni, Kaitlin and Chris set out to plan a unique wedding day that encompassed their love of family, friends, board games, cards, cornhole and all things Wolfpack, and they more than delivered by treating their guests to a fun-filled Game Night themed wedding reception at the NCSU Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center on the southern shore of Lake Raleigh.

The bride and her attendants began their day next door at The State View Hotel where they had their hair and makeup expertly done by the Wedding Hair By Liz team.  Their outdoor ceremony on Park Alumni Center’s beautiful brick plaza was officiated by the Rev. Kayelily Middleton, whose insightful retelling of Kaitlin and Chris’s love story brought both laughter and a few tears to all who listened.  Following the ceremony, guests were treated to drinks, delicious appetizers, cornhole, bocce ball, board games and a surprise visit from NC State’s very own Mr. & Mrs. Wuf during the cocktail reception.  Prior to the start of dinner, guests were invited to answer trivia questions related to the newlyweds, and the guest who proved they knew them best won a prize!  To top off the perfect Game Night themed wedding, Kaitlin and Chris kicked off their dinner reception with a rousing game of “Family Feud: Wedding Party Edition” followed by “Family Feud: Bride’s Family v Groom’s Family.”  It can easily be said that a good time was had by all – which is exactly what Kaitlin and Chris wanted!

Congratulations, Kaitlin and Chris!  It was an absolute pleasure to help you coordinate such a memorable wedding that was unlike anything we had ever done.




Kaitlin & Chris’ All-Star Wedding Team

Photographer: Faith Teasley Photography

Venue: Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center at NC State University

Wedding Coordinator: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Hotel: The State View Hotel

Florist: The English Garden

Hair/Makeup: Wedding Hair by Liz

Officiant: Rev. Kayelily Middleton

DJ: Bunn DJ Company – DJ Ken Bloms

Catering/Bar: Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center at NC State University

Dessert Bar: Sweet Cherry Bakery

Rentals: CE Rental

Lighting: Simpsound DJ & Lighting

Special Guest Stars: Mr. & Mrs. Wuf

Hannah & Van’s Spring Wedding at The Cloth Mill | Hillsborough, NC

April Showers bring a stunning bride and gorgeous wedding flowers!  A rainy forecast didn’t damper Hannah and Van’s spirit  on their wedding day at The Cloth Mill in Hillsborough, NC.  Having spent a portion of their engagement apart while Van was deployed with the USMC, this endearing couple knew the importance of enjoying the now and making the most of their time together.  Thanks to the professional talents of The Makeup Addict team, Hannah and her attendants looked radiant from the pre-ceremony photos all the way through to the newlywed’s Grand Exit, and the gorgeous florals by Tre Bella Inc. popped perfectly against the bridesmaids’ vibrant red dresses.

Some of the highlights from Hannah & Van’s wedding day include being united in marriage by the bride’s Aunt, Rev. Mary Ann Hill, a delicious S’mores Bar expertly crafted by Cook Shack Catering, and a surprise Groom’s Cake by Cake Couture Boutique that encompassed Van’s two favorite past times – the Chicago Blackhawks and his prized Harley Davidson motorcycle.

It was a magical day that was enjoyed by all who attended, and Hannah and Van are destined for a lifetime of happiness because together they know how to make the most of every moment – come rain or come shine.

All Photos Courtesy of Richard Barlow Photography


Hannah & Van’s All-Star Wedding Team

Venue: The Cloth Mill at Eno River

Photography: Richard Barlow Photography

Day-of Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Floral Design: Tre Bella Inc.

Catering: Cook Shack

Bar Service: The Cloth Mill at Eno River

DJ/Photo Booth: All Events DJ

Hair/Makeup: The Makeup Addict

Officiant: Rev. Mary Ann Hill

Decor Rentals: American Party Rentals

Wedding Cake: Whole Foods Durham

Groom’s Cake: Cake Couture Boutique

“ALWAYS” | Laura & Steve’s Romantic Winter Wedding | The Cookery – Durham, NC

Romantic Winter Wedding Portrait Downtown Durham

Laura and Steve “Always” dreamed of having a magical wedding day, and on an early December evening, they turned The Cookery in downtown Durham into a romantic winter wonderland, thanks to the talents of renowned DC florist Kevin Canfield of K Aubrey Flowers, a close friend of the Bride & Groom.  The delicate wintery whites of their candlelit ceremony were the perfect contrast to the warm navy and gold tones used throughout the cocktail and dinner receptions.  Family and friends were treated to delectable appetizers and a savory dinner buffet expertly prepared by Durham Catering.  Following a champagne toast and traditional cake cutting ceremony,  Laura and Steve danced the night away with their family and friends to the sounds of DJ Damien Maass.  The Newlyweds could not have asked for a more perfect beginning to their “Always”.

All Photographs Courtesy of Brian Mullins Photography

Laura & Steve’s All-Star Wedding Team

Venue: The Cookery – Durham, NC

Photographer: Brian Mullins Photography

Floral and Decor Design: K Aubrey Flowers

Day-of Wedding Coordinator: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Caterer: Durham Catering

Bar Service: The Cookery

DJ: Damien Maass DJ & Video Service

Photo Booth: Spark Photo Booth

Rentals: American Party Rental

Officiant: Bob Bennett

Hair & Makeup: 140 Salon & Blow Dry Bar

Chalkboard Artist: Marika Wendelken Calligraphy

Cake: Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop

Hotel: The Durham Hotel

Transportation: US Coachways

All Photographs Courtesy of Brian Mullins Photography

Weddings For Real Podcast #32: Day-Of Wedding Coordination with Erin McCauley with Chestnut & Vine

This week I had the honor of being a guest on the popular Weddings for Real Podcast hosted by Megan Gillikin, owner of A Southern Soiree Wedding & Event Planning.  I had so much fun talking with Megan about how Chestnut & Vine came to be and my approach to day-of wedding coordination.  I even got to share a bit about my destination wedding to exotic Indiana and the time I had to coordinate 5 different transportation companies for the guests of a single wedding.

You can listen to our conversation here!

Love’s Brewing! | Meghan & Drew’s Fall Wedding | Garner, NC

Rand Bryan | Samantha Canal Photography | Chestnut & Vine WeddingsMeghan and Drew made their wedding celebration at the Rand-Bryan House extra special by sharing their three favorite things with their closest friends and family – gourmet coffee, food trucks and local craft beer.  They personalized every detail down to the illuminated Growler centerpieces with table number stands made of barley, gourmet pizza and garlic knots made onsite by Pie Pushers, and bags of roasted coffee beans for their guests to take home to enjoy.  Their burnt orange, dusty blue and white floral bouquets and boutonnières, expertly designed by Flowers on Broad Street, vividly popped when paired with the ladies dresses and gentlemen’s suits, and, of course, they offered their guests an impressive selection of locally crafted beers to enjoy while dancing to the energetic sounds of Bunn DJ Company‘s very own Jeff Ellis.

Thank you, Meghan and Drew, for entrusting Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination with your wedding day!  It was a joy getting to help you pull together all of the personal touches that made your wedding celebration uniquely you!  Cheers to a long and happy marriage, and may your love never stop brewing!

All Photos Courtesy of Samantha Canal Photography


Meghan & Drew’s All-Star Wedding Team

Ceremony/Reception Venue: Rand-Bryan House

Photographer: Samantha Canal Photography

Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Officiant: Reverend Barbara Lodge

Floral Design: Flowers on Broad Street

Catering: Pie Pushers

Linen & Chair Rentals: CE Rental

Decor Rentals: Homemade Bride

Hair/Makeup: The Makeup Culture

Cake/Cupcake Design: Smallcakes – Cary

Entertainment/Lighting: DJ Jeff Ellis – Bunn DJ Company

Bartending & Wait Staff Services: The Happiest Hostess

Katherine & Dan’s May Wedding at Merrimon-Wynne House | Raleigh, NC

Griffin Hart Davis, Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination, Merrimon-Wynne House

Katherine, a native of Wake Forest, NC, wanted her wedding day to be a reflection of her Southern roots with a touch of her and her fiancé Dan’s fun, laid back personalities.  The historic Merrimon-Wynne House in Downtown Raleigh, with its quintessential mix of old Southern Charm and modern elegance, was the perfect setting for their Memorial Day Weekend wedding, and the weather was as equally as beautiful as the bride.


Katherine’s favorite wedding moment was having her and Dan’s closest family and friends all in one place to celebrate their marriage, which was poignantly commemorated in a post-ceremony photo taken by the immensely talented Griffin Davis of Griffin Hart Davis Photography.  Their guests were treated to a delicious meal expertly prepared by Rocky Top Catering and entertained throughout the evening by Eddie Leonard Productions.  It was the Father of the Bride, however, who brought down the house when he shared a hilarious letter written by a 13 year-old Katherine while she was away at summer camp.  It was a glimpse into the love and laughter that will undoubtedly be at the core of their lasting relationship.

Congratulations, Katherine and Dan!  It was the perfect wedding for a loving couple who could not be more perfect for each other.  Thank you for allowing Chestnut & Vine to be a part of it!


Katherine & Dan’s All Star Wedding Team

Ceremony/Reception Venue: Merrimon-Wynne House

Photographer: Griffin Hart Davis Photography

Floral Design: Watkins Flowers of Distinction

Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Catering: Rocky Top Catering

Officiant: Ben Poston

Linen/Dinnerware Rentals: CE Rental

Decor Rentals: Homemade Bride

Hair/Makeup: Parlor Blow Dry Bar

Cake Design: Christi Butner

DJ: Eddie Leonard Productions


All Photos Taken by Griffin Hart Davis Photography

All Photos Taken by Griffin Hart Davis Photography

Christina & Lucas’ Memorial Day Weekend Wedding | Downtown Raleigh, NC

Raleigh Day-of Wedding Coordination

When planning their Memorial Day Weekend wedding in Downtown Raleigh, it was important to Christina and Lucas that their guests experience three things: good food, a great bar, and fun music.  With the help of their all-star wedding vendor team and a distinct wedding vision, that is exactly what they delivered.

The sun shone brightly as Christina and Lucas’ family and friends gathered in the Courtyard tucked behind Gravy, one of Raleigh’s top Italian Restaurants, to witness the marriage of the Ohio bride to her North Carolina sweetheart.  The bridesmaids wore blush dresses that were a perfect compliment to the gentlemen’s navy suits.  The stunning blush and white bouquets were all designed by her talented bridesmaid, Valerie, and the Father of the Bride built the ceremony arbor.

It is often the unexpected imperfections that provide some of the biggest smiles on a couple’s wedding day, and so it was when their adorable flower girl got a sudden case of stage fright and made a bee-line for the sidelines.  Impressively, her older brother didn’t miss a single beat and successfully carried his Aunt and Uncle’s wedding bands all the way up to the front of the aisle.

day-of wedding coordination | homemade macaroonsAfter the ceremony, the guests enjoyed risotto balls, antipasto and expertly made cocktails before heading to the reception in The Jiddi Space for a delicious family-style Italian meal.  Afterwards they enjoyed an array of delicious desserts prepared especially for them by Gravy’s head chef.  Once their guests were properly fed, Christina and Lucas led everyone back out to the Courtyard to complete their celebration with a night of dancing hosted by DJ Scotty Williams.  It didn’t take long to realize that Lucas gets his impressive dance skills from his Mom when the two brought down the house with their surprise killer dance routine.

Christina and Lucas worked hard to give their guests an unforgettable evening of fun, and it was a joy to see them relish every second of their wedding day.  What impressed me the most about these newlyweds is their innate ability to work as a team and their willingness to keep an open mind to new ideas so that their wedding would be their best day ever.

Congratulations, Christina and Lucas!


All Photos Courtesy of F8 Photo Studios

Christina & Lucas’ All-Star Wedding Team

Ceremony/Reception Venue: Gravy – The Jiddi Space

Photographer: F8 Photo Studios

Floral Design: Valerie Messmer

Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Catering: Gravy

Linen Rentals: CE Rental

Hair/Makeup: Cori Lee Style

Cake/Desserts: Gravy

DJ: Making Memories DJ Service

Transportation: Elevate Transportation

Tent/Dance Floor Rental: Dee-Jay Events



Samantha & Parker’s Merrimon-Wynne Wedding Featured in Three National Publications

Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination is excited to announce that our clients Samantha & Parker’s gorgeous Spring wedding at Merrimon-Wynne is featured on two online publications!  A huge thank you to Ellen LeRoy Photography for submitting her stunning photos for these articles on Borrowed & Blue, Elysian Bride and The Carolinas Magazine.  It has been a joy to relive Samantha & Parker’s special day!

Julia & Corey’s Spring Wedding | The Graylyn Estate | Winston-Salem

Graylyn Wedding Day-of CoordinationThe Graylyn Estate is a hidden gem located minutes from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.  As soon as they set their eyes on the main house of this historic property, Julia and Corey knew it was the perfect setting for the elegantly romantic wedding day they envisioned.

The sun shown brightly in the estate’s White Garden Terrace as the couple read their personal vows to one another before their families and closest friends. The Terrace’s natural beauty was magnified by the stunning floral bouquets crafted by the incredibly talented team at Green Bee Floral Designs.  During the cocktail hour, guests were treated to a signature cocktail inspired by the Disney Cruise Line cocktail they were treated to on the night of their engagement.  After enjoying a delicious meal expertly prepared by the Graylyn’s catering staff, Julia and Corey were especially excited to cut into their 4-tier lemon-blueberry wedding cake that was surrounded by 4 white chocolate satellite designed by Regi Originals.   The evening finished with a fun night of dancing hosted by A&A Disc Jockey Service and a grand sparkler exit down the cobble stone driveway in front of the estate’s main house.

Congratulations, Julia and Corey!  You successfully pulled off the perfect wedding that you always wanted.  Thank you so much for choosing Chestnut & Vine to be your day-of wedding coordinator.  It was an absolute honor!



Julia & Corey’s All-Star Wedding Team

Ceremony/Reception Venue: The Graylyn Estate

Photographer: Danielle Flake Photography

Floral Design: Green Bee Floral Designs

Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Catering: Graylyn Estate Catering

Lighting Design: Sound Illusions Events

Hair/Makeup: Updo’s Studio

Cake Design: Regi Originals

DJ & Photo Booth: A & A Disc Jockey Service

Officiant: Reverend Kenny Compton (Groom’s Cousin)




Jenn & John’s Fall Wedding at Duke Gardens | Durham, NC

Upon meeting Jenn for the first time, I knew immediately that this was going to be a fun wedding to coordinate, and it did not disappoint.  Jenn has an enthusiastic confidence and delightfully personable charm that makes everyone around her feel at ease.  So, it is no wonder that the quiet, reserved John wasted no time asking Jenn to be his partner in life, and just as quickly as they got engaged, the couple found themselves on the wedding planning fast track when a cancellation allowed Jenn to have her dream Fall wedding at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, NC.

Jenn and John could not have asked for a more gorgeous October day on which to exchange their vows in front of their closest family and friends.   A soft glow of sunshine encircled the Arboretum at Duke Gardens making it the perfect backdrop for the couple’s wedding ceremony. During the prelude, guests found themselves unconsciously humming along with the string quartet before realizing they were listening to the songs of Snow Patrol and other popular modern artists not often associated with either wedding ceremonies or orchestral music.  A highlight of the ceremony was when Jenn was walked down the aisle by her parents to a bridal march arranged especially for the couple by Jenn’s sister and Maid of Honor, Amanda.

The evening continued with cocktail and dinner receptions catered by Durham Catering and music provided by All Events DJs, who helped kickstart the fun by inviting the newlyweds to have their first dance as husband and wife – a dance that perfectly captured Jenn & John’s unique personalities and will forever be remembered by their family and friends.

Congratulations, Jenn and John!  Thank you for including Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination in your special day!  It was one I’ll never forget.

A Special Thank You to RGB Insights for Sharing Their Incredible Photographs with Us





Jenn & John’s Wedding Team

Ceremony/Reception Venue: Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Photographer: RGB Insights

Floral Design: Pine State Flowers

Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Catering: Durham Catering Co.

Decor Rentals: American Party Rentals

Officiant: Perfect Ceremonies – Reverend Phran Gacher

Calligraphy/Chalkboard Design: One Fine Morning Lettering & Calligraphy

Hair/Makeup: Blo Salon – Brier Creek

Cake and Cupcake Design: The Cupcake Bar

Ceremony Music: Audrey Cook Quartet

DJ: All Events DJs

Lighting: Get Lit – Special Event Lighting

Transportation: Carolina Livery Services

And a Personal Shout Out to Christa for Introducing Chestnut & Vine to Jenn and John!

Sarah & Christian’s Fall Wedding at Cross + Main | Youngsville, NC

Joyner Park Wake Forest, NC Wedding Photo

On a gorgeous, sunshine filled Fall afternoon, Christian and Sarah were the first couple to be married at the newly christened Cross + Main (formerly The Boondocks before it was purchased by Rocky Top Catering) located in the quaint downtown of Youngsville, NC.  The bride and groom, who relocated from North Carolina to Oklahoma so that Christian could continue his training with the U.S. Marine Corp, have Sarah’s parents and sister to thank for finding this small town gem 22 miles north of Downtown Raleigh.  Cross + Main’s exposed red brick and pristine wood floors, which were immersed in a flood of natural sunlight, formed the perfect backdrop for an endearingly romantic wedding.  

It was important to Sarah and Christian to make their wedding a family affair.  They were married by the groom’s cousin under an archway built by the bride’s father that was cloaked with sheer draperies sewn together by the bride’s mother, and their siblings, nieces and nephew were all members of their wedding party.  During the cocktail hour, the entire wedding party was shuttled to nearby Wake Forest for a photo session in Joyner Park.  The majestic Carolina Blue sky made their outdoor photoshoot absolutely perfect.  Once the wedding party returned to Cross + Main, guests were welcomed into the reception hall that was beautifully decorated with cranberry and navy linens and gorgeous floral centerpieces masterfully designed by Youngsville’s own Brandi’s Bontanicals.  After a fun evening full of dancing and laughter, the newlyweds exited under an archway of sparklers that led them to their getaway car – an immaculate 1941 Packard Sedan owned by a local couple that the bride’s parents just happened to meet at a car show.  It was the perfect way to end a wonderful celebration of such a sweet, thoughtful and loving couple.

Congratulations, Sarah and Christian!  Thank you for entrusting your wedding day to Chestnut & Vine.  It was a pleasure to work with you both and to see all of your hard work come to fruition.

All photos courtesy of Photographs by Stephanie

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Sarah & Christian’s Wedding Team

Ceremony/Reception Venue: Cross + Main | Youngsville, NC

Photographer: Photographs by Stephanie

Floral Design: Brandi’s Botanicals

Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Catering: Cannon Catering

Bartending Services: POUR Bar Services

Decor Rentals: Classic Party Rentals

Hair/Makeup: Joanne Maye Makeup Artistry

Cake Design: Sweet Memories Bakery

DJ: Avalanche Sound & Lights

Transportation: Carolina Livery Service

Classic Car: Chad & Demi Goldman

Emily & Kyle’s Fall Wedding | The Matthews House | Cary, NC

As soon as I met Emily and Kyle, I knew that these two were already a strong, supportive team, and when they became husband and wife on October 8, 2016 at The Matthews House in Historic Downtown Cary, NC, it was obvious to all in attendance that these newlyweds have what it takes to weather through any storm that crosses their path. Despite an uninvited wedding guest, who went by the name Hurricane Matthew, Emily and Kyle threw a festive, heartfelt wedding celebration that their family, friends and day-of wedding coordinator will never forget.  Not once did the bride and groom let the stormy weather dampen their enthusiasm.  Even with a power outage in the main house during cocktail hour and hurricane force winds whipping through the breezeway outside the ceremony and reception hall, never have I seen a bride and groom smile more on their wedding day than Emily and Kyle did.  As you will see in their wedding photos below, their smiles and positive attitudes were contagious and felt by every person in the room.  Kyle and Emily put together an all-star wedding team that didn’t miss a single beat and made sure that the party inside was just as high energy as the storm outside.

Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Travlos!  It was an honor to coordinate your wedding day, and thank you for making my first experience in a hurricane an absolute blast!

All Photos Courtesy of Rachel Linder of Blue Barn Photography

In accordance with an old Southern tradition that wards off rain, the bride’s parents buried a bottle of bourbon on the grounds of The Matthews House one month before Emily & Kyle’s wedding day.  While the bourbon might not have kept the rain away, we can thank it for keeping the power on in the reception hall while the rest of Historic Downtown Cary was experiencing a blackout.

Emily’s Bridesmaids get their first look at the gorgeous bride

Kyle & Emily’s Private “First Look”



Emily & her Dad went all out for their Father-Daughter Dance – big, happy smiles run in the family!

Not even Hurricane Matthew could stop these newlyweds from having their Grand Sparkler Exit!

And Emily & Kyle live Happily Ever After…


Emily & Kyle’s All-Star Wedding Team

Ceremony/Reception Venue: The Matthews House – Cary, NC

Photographer: Blue Barn Photography

Floral Design: Tre Bella Florist

Day-of Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Catering: Empire Eats Catering

Bartending Service: On the Rocks Bartending

Chalkboard Design: Chalkboards by Julie

Hair & Makeup: Hair & Makeup by Ashley Mooney

Cake Design: Simply Cakes

Officiant: Reverend Rick Edens

Reception Entertainment: Bunn DJ Company – Frank Meldau

Ceremony Music: Carolina Harp – Marilyn Weinand

Transportation: Triangle Car Service

Kristi & Doug’s Summer Wedding at Duke Chapel & Washington Duke Inn – Durham, NC


When I met Kristi and Doug at the April 2015 Southern Bridal Show at the NC State Fairgrounds, I knew immediately that I wanted to work with this lovely, sweet natured couple.  Doug’s willingness to attend a bridal show with his winsome fiancée spoke volumes for how much this couple loves each other and will work well together as a team.  So, I was thrilled when they chose Chestnut & Vine to be their day-of wedding coordinator.

Their story began when Kristi, who met Doug during her employee orientation at Duke Hospital, invited him to attend Sunday mass with her at the iconic Duke Chapel.  By the end of the evening, Doug happily clued into the fact that he was on a date and astutely asked her if she would like to go out again.  The two have been inseparable ever since.

When it came time to plan their wedding, Doug and Kristi had their hearts set on getting married in the very church where they had their first date, but as luck would have it, Duke Chapel was booked a year in advance and about to begin an extensive restoration project which would delay their wedding an additional year.  Not to be deterred, this undaunted couple camped out in front of Duke Chapel for three days in North Carolina’s merciless summer heat and joyfully walked away with a July 2016 wedding date.  As it turns out, their long engagement was worth the wait because their dream wedding venue, the renowned Washington Duke Inn, was available on the very same day.

One year later on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon in July, Doug and Kristi were married in the Duke University Chapel before friends and family who traveled from near and far to celebrate their big day.  Kristi’s bridesmaids all wore blush-colored, floor length gowns of their own choosing.  The mix of dress styles, patterns and colors were a stunning backdrop for the gorgeous bouquets of English Roses and succulents superbly arranged by Bea Miller and her team at Floral Dimensions.  The newly restored Chapel organ filled the sanctuary with its rich, melodic tones as Kristi was escorted down the aisle by both her Mom and Dad and again when Kristi and Doug recessed out of the Chapel for the first time as husband and wife.

Later in the evening the guests were greeted by the newlyweds as they arrived to the cocktail reception outside of the Washington Duke Inn’s Presidents Ballroom.  After a delicious dinner prepared and served to perfection by the Washington Duke’s Catering Staff, Kristi and Doug invited all of their guests to join them out on the dance floor.  Never have I seen a bride and groom effortlessly dance together more than Doug and Kristi did that night, which set the tone for a high-energy, unforgettable evening of fun hosted by the one and only Randy Bennett from Bunn DJ Company.  When the time came to send the newlyweds off to begin their life together, the guests formed a tunnel of twinkle lights for the couple to run under as they made their grand exit in a decorated golf cart driven by the bride herself.

Congratulations, Kristi and Doug!  You could not have planned a more elegant, flawless wedding that celebrated who you are and will become as you journey through your life together.



Kristi & Doug’s Wedding Team

Ceremony Venue: Duke University Chapel

Reception Venue: Washington Duke Inn

Photographer: Brian Mullins Photography

Day-of Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Floral Design: Floral Dimensions

Catering: Washington Duke Inn

DJ: Bunn DJ Company – DJ Randy Bennett

Cake Design: Sweet Memories Bakery

Hair & Makeup Design: Makeup for Your Day

Transportation: RDE. Raleigh Dream Limos

Sarah & Garrett’s Festive Fall Wedding – Hillsborough, NC

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Sarah and Garrett wed on a gorgeous October afternoon at the Enos River Farmers’ Market Pavilion located near Hillsborough’s quaint downtown district.  Sarah and Garrett’s love of the outdoors was the inspiration behind their nature-themed wedding day.  The Enos River was the perfect backdrop for their heartfelt ceremony, which was officiated by Sarah’s Great Aunt Linda and included a tree planting ceremony.  The pavilion was lined with gorgeous fall colored mums purchased from the farmers’ market that took place at the pavilion the day prior.  All of their guests received packets of wild flower seeds to plant at their own homes and later showered the newlyweds with colorful rose petals as they made their way into a horse and carriage that whisked them away to an adorable B&B in Hillsborough.

You would never have guessed that just one week earlier this Southern California-based couple arrived to town just as Hurricane Matthew made landfall over The Triangle, but Sarah and Garrett have the Bride’s parents to thank for the sunshine and Carolina Blue skies that befell on their wedding day.  In accordance with an old Southern tradition, one month earlier they buried a bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon at the site of their wedding ceremony to ward off the rain.  Their contagious, upbeat personalities lead me to believe that Sarah and Garrett’s wedding was the perfect kickoff for a marriage filled with sunshine and blue skies.  Oh…and the omen that a praying mantis brings good luck to the person it lands on must be true because Garrett was lucky enough to marry an incredible woman who is equally beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

Congratulations, Sarah and Garrett!  It was a blast getting to know you and seeing your wedding day vision come to life.  Thank you for putting your trust in Chestnut & Vine.

Photos Courtesy of Amy Connors

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Sarah & Garrett’s Wedding Team

Ceremony/Reception Venue: Enos River Farmers’ Market Pavilion – Hillsborough, NC

Photographer: Amy Connors

Floral Design: Pine State Flowers

Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Catering: Rocky Top Catering

Decor Rentals: Farm & Filigree

Officiant: Rev. Linda MacDonald

Wedding Cake Design: Sharon Lewis, The Dairy at Floyd Farms

Entertainment/Emcee: Areli Barrera de Grodski

Horse & Carriage: Horsin’ Around Inc.

I am a Diehard Cubs Fan and Proud of It!

Screenshot 2016-10-25 19.51.22I often wondered if I’d ever see today. My beloved Chicago Cubs are playing in the World Series for the first time in 71 years, and I could not be more thrilled to see this dream come true.  Over 30 years ago my dear friend, Marnie (who was a bridesmaid in my wedding), introduced me to a handsome 2nd baseman named Ryne Sandberg, and thus began my first longterm relationship filled with feelings of hope, admiration, heartbreak, disappointment, joy, and blind faith that better days are just a spring training season away.  As a kid I collected baseball cards, rarely missed a Cubs game on WGN, faithfully listened to the gospel of baseball according to announcers Harry Caray and Steve Stone, and proudly attended a Cubs game at Wrigley Field before a night game was ever played.  My Dad contends that to this day he has never seen a bigger smile on my face than the day I attended my first ballgame in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, and every detail that I soaked in that day from where we sat (behind the Cubs’ bullpen), to who stood on the pitcher’s mound (Rick Sutcliffe and Lee Smith), and who hit the winning home run (the one and only Shawn Dunston) still plays in my memory like a highlights reel.  And of course I was completely giddy when I got to see my crush “Ryno” in person with my very own eyes.

In an interview earlier this week, fellow Cubs Fan Bill Murray perfectly expresses what it means to be a Cubs Fan and is dead on when he says, “To root for a team that never won, it’s just character building.”

I am proud to be a Diehard Cubs Fans because we:

  • Are Devoutly Loyal. While fans of other sports teams openly question my sanity for cheering on a team whose own fans endearingly call them “The Lovable Losers”, my devotion towards my Cubbies has never once swayed.  There is no such thing as a “Fair Weather Cubs Fan.”  We support our team no matter the score or our place in the division standings;
  • Understand the importance of Relishing the Moment because we never know when the next “W” might come along.  It could be tomorrow or it could be next month, so you had better appreciate and celebrate today’s victory while you can; and
  • Are Eternal Optimists.  In my hometown, a common conversation starter is “How ’bout them Cubs?,” and whether you are commiserating with a fellow Cubs fan over the team’s string of bad luck or engaged in an animated disagreement with a rival Cardinals fan, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the conversation will end with the Cubs fan confidently stating with a gleam in his/her eye, “Wait ’til next year!”

This 2016 Cubs Team is a true blessing that is so much fun to watch, and a text I received this week from Marnie sums up exactly how all of us Diehard Cubs Fans are feeling this season, “For all the fans that have come and gone and never saw what we might see, I am grateful.”  Me, too, Marn!

So it is with great pride and feelings of good fortune that I ask to all who will listen, “How ’bout them Cubs?!”  No need to wait for next year.  Next year is finally here!!

Wrigley Field

Wedding Insurance – A Wise Investment or an Unnecessary Expense?

Wedding rings and moneyRecently one of my brides asked if I thought wedding insurance is a smart purchase or an unnecessary extra expense.  This is an excellent question because the larger the wedding industry gets, the harder it is for engaged couples to determine which “wedding extras” are essential or a waste of money.   According to, a basic wedding insurance policy typically costs between $155-$550 and will cover venue deposits, vendor no-shows, and the inability for an essential bridal party or family member to attend the wedding due to weather, illness or military deployment.  A supplementary policy will need to be purchased if you want the insurance company to cover (1) the total cost of re-staging your wedding should your photographer/videographer be a no-show or the original negatives/video are damaged or lost; (2) your wedding bands*; (3) special attire (wedding gown, groom’s tux, etc.), and/or (4) your wedding gifts. 

[*Your engagement ring is not covered by wedding insurance.  When your fiancé presents you with your gorgeous engagement ring, your first call after you phone your parents with the good news should be to your insurance agent to purchase Personal Article Insurance.  This is insurance I urge every engaged couple to purchase.]

In my opinion, there are four instances when a couple should strongly consider purchasing wedding insurance:


If your wedding is taking place outside of the U.S. (Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, etc.) and the vast majority of your guests and bridal party will purchase expensive plane tickets to get there, your wedding investment should be protected from unexpected flight delays on account of weather or political discourse.  When U.S. travelers booked their European vacations in April 2010, I doubt any of them thought that an Icelandic volcano eruption would keep their flights grounded for nearly a week. [Note: Travel insurance and wedding insurance do not cover the same losses.  Discuss with your insurance agent which of these policy types best protects your wedding investment.]



Nothing is more romantic than saying “I do” while standing on the white sandy beaches of the Carolina Coastline or atop a breathtakingly beautiful peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, unless of course Mother Nature decides to serenade you with a hurricane or blizzard on your wedding day.  If you are getting married during a month when the locals regularly describe the weather forecast as “iffy”, purchasing wedding insurance is a sensible way to defend yourself against Mother Nature’s twisted sense of humor.




Planning a wedding naturally increases an engaged couples’ feelings of stress and anxiety, but emotional stress is compounded exponentially when there is a chance that your nuptials may need to be rescheduled due to an essential bridal party or family member’s serious illness or possible military deployment.  Finding room in your budget to purchase wedding insurance will at least bring your anxiety level down a notch knowing that you will not be out a significant amount of money should you need to change your plans at a moment’s notice.

Just like other forms of insurance, deciding whether or not to purchase it is a personal decision that requires you and your fiancé to weigh the benefits and the risks.  If you do to decide to purchase wedding insurance, I recommend getting quotes from 2 or 3 insurance agents and ask them to thoroughly explain what is and (even more importantly) what is not covered by the wedding insurance policy.

Tempe & Stuart’s Traditional Southern Wedding – Louisburg, NC

Tempe and Stuart were married on April 16, 2016 in the bride’s hometown of Louisburg, NC.  Since the bride and groom both reside in Wilmington, I had the pleasure of working closely with Tempe’s mother, Anne, on all of the final details.  It was quite the family affair with 370+ guests in attendance with some guests traveling from as far as Jackson Hole, WY to celebrate Tempe and Stuart’s big day.

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Weather conditions could not have been better for an outdoor reception that included a traditional Southern barbecue made to perfection by Louisburg’s own Cook Shack.  The weekly forecast predicted rain for their wedding day, but thanks to the Father of the Bride and an old Southern tradition, Carolina Blue skies and billowing white clouds shined brightly all day on the festivities.  In order to guarantee that rain would not fall on his youngest daughter’s wedding day, Tempe’s Dad buried a bottle of bourbon at the site of the reception exactly one month before the wedding.  Once the party was underway, he dug up the bourbon bottle and presented it to the couple during his toast.  Thanks to that bottle of bourbon, not one drop of rain fell the entire day!

Congratulations, Tempe and Stuart!  Your celebration was one that Louisburg will never forget!

All photographs courtesy of Chris Nieto of Nieto Photography.

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Tempe & Stuart’s Wedding Team

Ceremony: Louisburg United Methodist Church

Reception: Timberlake House

Photographer: Nieto Photography

Videographer: Linn Bennett

Floral Design: Brandi’s Botanicals

Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Catering: Cook Shack Catering Company

Rentals: Grand Rental Station

Hair/Makeup Design: Total Image Salon

Cake Design: Nancy Hearne

Entertainment: “Charlie” 

Bridal Luncheon: Ladyfingers Caterers

Late Night Snack: Granny’s Drive-In

Horse & Carriage: Rusty Thornberry

Transportation: USA Party Bus

Samantha & Parker’s Spring Wedding at Merrimon-Wynne – Raleigh, NC

In April 2015 at my first ever wedding show, I had the good fortune to meet Samantha and her Mom, Bonita.  They came to the wedding show specifically to find a day-of wedding coordinator, and the three of us hit it off immediately!  Samantha was a day-of wedding coordinator’s dream because when we met for our initial meeting she had already booked her venue, florist, band, photographer, and purchased her dress – and her wedding was still 13 months away!  Over the next year I had the pleasure of getting to know Samantha and her fiancé, Parker, while helping them coordinate the details that made their wedding extra special.  When I met their extended family at the ceremony rehearsal, it was clear to see where they get their festive spirits and kind hearts.

Samantha & Parker were married on May 21, 2016 at the Merrimon-Wynne House in downtown Raleigh and were one of the first couples to hold their ceremony and reception in the venue’s brand new Carriage House.  Samantha’s vision for an elegant yet lively wedding reception suited the Carriage House perfectly.  So, it is with great pleasure that I share with you Mr. & Mrs. Parker Hawkin’s unforgettable wedding day!

All photos courtesy of Ellen LeRoy Photography.


Samantha & Parker’s Wedding Team

Ceremony/Reception Venue: Merrimon-Wynne House

Photographer: Ellen LeRoy Photography

Floral Design: Leaf & Petal Design

Wedding Coordination: Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination

Catering: Rocky Top Catering

Decor Rentals: Party Reflections, Inc.

Hair Design: Parlor Blow Dry Bar

Makeup Design: WINK Hair + Makeup

Cake and Cookie Design: Joy Bauer

Wedding Dress: Traditions by Anna Bridal Boutique

Entertainment: The Al Williams Band

Ceremony Music: Dennis Aberle

Transportation: A Formal Affair Limo

In Memory of Our Loved Ones

Along with the joy and celebrations that wedding days bring, they can also be subtle reminders of loved ones who can only attend in spirit.  In honor of this Memorial Day, the Corner of Chestnut & Vine shares some touching examples of how brides and grooms can recognize their late loved ones on their wedding day.

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All photos found via Pinterest.

On behalf of Chestnut & Vine, thank you to all of our troops, veterans and their families who have faithfully served our Country with courage and unselfishness.   It is your dedication to protecting our nation’s freedom that allows me to pursue my personal and professional dreams.

Brides & Grooms Should Have Their Cake and Eat It Too!

What is the #1 thing most wedding guests will say they are looking forward to at the reception?  The wedding cake.  So, it’s no surprise that engaged couples often stress over the sweetest part of their wedding day. While wedding planning is often a series of negotiations and compromises with well-intentioned loved ones, I tell my clients that their wedding cake should be exactly what they want it to be and not let others sway their opinions.  Whether it be a traditional tiered cake, cupcakes, an elaborate dessert bar, mini cheesecakes or a unique selection of homemade pies, when will there ever be a more perfect reason to enjoy a special treat that is distinctly yours than at the biggest party you will ever throw?

Here are a few creative treats from my favorite Triangle cake designer, Heather Singleton, owner of Party Delights


Can’t decide on a flavor?  Why not have two, three or even four different flavors?  Is cake not your ideal sweet treat?  Impress your guests with a deluxe ice cream bar with all of the toppings needed to make banana splits and brownie fudge sundaes.  Concerned you will have too much leftover?  Order fancy to-go containers and ask your caterer to box up the slices to give away as favors.  Guests appreciate edible favors, especially when late night, post-reception snack cravings hit!  So, have fun with your “wedding cake” and let your personal taste shine!

Earlier this month my entire family gathered in Central Illinois to celebrate the 100th birthday of our dear Grandma Nellie.  We had a blast celebrating the sweetest, most loving woman we know and reminiscing about all of the fun times we had at her house on the actual corner of Chestnut & Vine.  Whenever her 6 grandchildren would come for a visit, Grandma Nellie always made sure their favorite treat was waiting for them upon arrival.  My special dessert was cherry chip cake.  I remember one Christmas in particular when my youngest cousins were especially excited to see me, and it wasn’t because they missed me.  Rather it was because Grandma wouldn’t let them cut into her irresistible cherry chip cake until I had eaten the first slice.  So when Jason and I got married, can you guess the flavor of our wedding cake?

And since Jason graciously agreed to let me have my cherry chip wedding cake, I surprised him with a groom’s cake at our rehearsal dinner made of his favorite flavors – yellow cake with chocolate icing – that was a replica of his favorite t-shirt, which just happened to be what he was wearing the night we met.  So on our wedding weekend, we both got to “have our cake and eat it, too.”

I SAID “YES!” NOW WHAT?! – Getting Your Wedding Plans Started

Screenshot 2016-02-28 10.20.40This month’s “The Corner of Chestnut & Vine” is inspired by my friend Lauren who got engaged over the holidays.  Like most brides, one month into her engagement the initial euphoria began to settle down and reality set-in that she has a wedding to plan.  A resourceful law student with little free time to waste, I found the following message in my Inbox, “So I am completely overwhelmed by this whole process.  Do you have any tips, good blogs, anything?!”  Why of course I do, and I have yet to meet a wedding coordinator who didn’t jump at the chance to give solicited wedding advice.  Based on my own experience, the hardest part is figuring out where to begin, which is why I put together this step by step guide for Lauren and all newly engaged couples to kickstart their wedding planning process.  Remember:  the key to not getting overwhelmed is to concentrate on only one aspect of your wedding at a time and before you know it you’ll have an incredible plan in place to guide you up until the day you utter the words, “I do.”

Step 1: Find your location and finalize your date.  Everything else you do (your dress, your colors, your invitations, etc.) revolves around these two important details.  Therefore, focus on venues and available dates before you do anything else wedding related.

Step 2: Make your wedding dress shop appointments.  These appointments fill up fast, especially on weekends, and keep in mind that the average wait time for wedding dresses to be constructed and delivered is 9-10 months.  So make your wedding dress shopping appointments as early as possible to avoid expensive rush fees.

Step 3: Once your wedding venue and date are set, hire either a Wedding Planner/Designer or a Day-of Wedding Coordinator.  If the thought of choosing colors, decor, vendors, menus, favors, musicians, invitations, flowers, etc. sends you into a panic because you are someone who is short on time or has trouble making decisions, a wedding planner/designer is exactly what you need.  These creative professionals will work with you to devise your wedding day vision and handle most or all of the work for you.  Couples who are excited to create their own wedding day vision and figure out all of  the details for themselves should hire a day-of wedding coordinator (such as Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination!). These experienced event professionals will offer guidance through the whole planning process to keep their clients on track and then will take over all of the coordination in the weeks leading up to their wedding day, which  allows the bride and groom (and their family and friends) to enjoy their entire wedding day stress free knowing that all of the details are being handled by a wedding professional.

Step 4: Uncover your inner bride and groom.  Now THIS is the fun part that helps you discover what your dream wedding will be.  Gather your girlfriends together to sip wine and flip through bridal magazines.  Build your wedding inspiration boards on Pinterest to share with photographers, florists, cake designers, and caterers you plan to interview.  Follow professional wedding experts and websites on Instagram and Facebook, and sign-up for their digital newsletters.  Here are a few of my favorite:

The Perfect Palette  (; @theperfectpalette): They have every imaginable color combination that will make any ceremony venue and reception hall pop!  Perhaps you have your heart set on a dusty blue but have no clue what to pair with it, this is the site for you!  

Southern Bride & Groom Magazine (; @southernbrideandgroom) This is the go-to local wedding resource for Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the Greater Triangle.  

Southern California Bride (; @southerncaliforniabride) They have some of the most beautiful photographs that brighten up my Instagram account.  Plus, Lauren (the inspiration for this blog) lives in San Diego and will be a beautiful SoCal Bride.  So, this site is especially for her!

Stephanie Scholl Events (; @stephaniescholl)  It was by pure chance that I became friends with Stephanie when I was brought on to assist with a Chapel Hill wedding she was coordinating.  She is making quite the name for herself as a wedding/organizational expert in The Triangle Wedding Industry, and her inspirational Instagram posts are what keep me up-to date on the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill wedding scene.

Wedding Chicks (; @weddingchicks) – A wedding blog site filled with tips from wedding professionals located all over the world and unique inspiration boards with something for everyone.

WeddingWire (; @weddingwire) The best place to find wedding vendors from every profession in all regions of the U.S. and read honest reviews from couples who have used their services.  

Step 5:   Research, interview and book your photographer.  Not only is it important to hire your photographer early because the experienced, in-demand photographers’ calendars are snatched up quickly, your photographer is another great resource to recommend vendors and offer wedding planning tips.  It is smart to schedule your engagement photos early on to give yourself a chance to find another photographer should you discover your personalities, working styles and artistic vision are not in sync.

Step 6:  Book your officiant.  Some officiant’s require couples to meet with them only once and others require a series of sessions to prepare you for life as a married couple.  Either way, you want to make sure these meetings are on your calendar before your calendar fills up.  Your officiant will also inform you of local marriage license requirements.

Step 7: Choose your wedding party.  If you are still feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask your closest family and friends for help.  They will be excited and honor to help you plan the biggest day of your life!

Hopefully these steps will help Lauren and other overwhelmed engaged couples feel more at ease by giving you a starting point to begin the wedding planning process.  Be sure to visit “The Corner of Chestnut & Vine” over the next few months as I’ll take you through Steps 8 and beyond.  Happy Planning!

Why I Changed My Mind About First Look Photo Sessions

For a bride to have her epic fairy-tale moment, classic literature and romantic comedies tell us that her groom must not see her in her wedding dress until she begins her walk down the aisle, but the emerging popularity of “First Look” photos on Pinterest and online bridal magazines have many couples rethinking this time old tradition.  When recalling my own wedding day, I now realize the only thing I would do differently would be for Jason and me to ignore our traditional wedding preconception by having a First Look session of our own.

Photo Courtesy of Wake Forest Portrait Shoppe

Photo Courtesy of Wake Forest Portrait Shoppe

After watching my clients experience their own First Look Photo moments, I now realize that:

  • By seeing each other one last time before becoming husband and wife, the bride and groom are able to share an intimate connection and sense of anticipation that gets lost in front of an audience;
  • It is an opportunity for them to relish together the excitement that awaits them before they are launched into an emotional whirlwind of nerves, happiness, wonderment and fulfillment as their months of hard work and planning come to fruition;
  • The intimate atmosphere of a First Look photo session allows the photographer to focus on tender glances and affectionate glimpses that result in unbelievably beautiful images; and
  • Once the First Look takes place, the bridal party can take photos prior to the ceremony, too, which allows everyone, including the bride and groom, to attend the cocktail hour before the bar closes.  And who doesn’t want to get their party started as soon as possible?!
Indiana University's Iconic Sample Gates

Indiana University’s Iconic Sample Gates

Since we held our ceremony and reception in the same venue, we did not have the luxury of scheduling a 2-3 hour break between the ceremony and reception.  Instead, Jason and I had approximately 60 seconds to ourselves after the ceremony before we rushed back out to greet all of our guests and begin the 70 minute dash to get all of our bridal party, family and couple photos completed, including a race in my friend’s minivan to have our wedding photos taken at my university’s most picturesque spot.  Now I realize that every time I see the Sample Gates in person or on TV, they would be even more meaningful to me had it been where my soon-to-be husband had first seen me in my wedding dress.  Plus, I so wish we had been able to enjoy even a portion of our cocktail reception with the passed hors d’oeuvres that I’m told were delicious and the incredibly talented jazz band that wowed our guests when they realized it was made up of middle school and high school students.

Do you want to experience the emotions of a First Look photo session but still have your mind set on sticking with tradition?  Wedding photographers have come up with imaginative First Look settings that allow the bride and groom to share a moment together before their ceremony but still have their traditional walk down the aisle.  Among the most popular photos are those of  couples holding hands while standing on either side of a door and, like the photo below, of the bride and groom reading the letters they have written to each other.

Photo Courtesy of Wake Forest Portrait Shoppe

Photo Courtesy of Wake Forest Portrait Shoppe

My personal favorite is this Southern inspired “Romeo & Juliet” photograph taken at The Sutherland by my friends at the Wake Forest Portrait Shoppe.

Photo Courtesy of Wake Forest Portrait Shoppe

Photo Courtesy of Wake Forest Portrait Shoppe

Ultimately, the most important thing to consider is what best suits your personalities.  Will having a First Look session ease your nerves or increase your worry that you’ll stammer your vows? Do you think you’ll miss out on quality time together if you wait for the traditional walk down the aisle, or do you have enough time between your ceremony and reception to fit everything in? Before deciding when you want to first see each other on your wedding day, ask yourselves which scenario will best capture the emotion you want to remember for the rest of your lives, discuss it with your photographer and wedding coordinator, and then go with your heart.

Special Thanks to Melissa Stallman at Wake Forest Portrait Shoppe for providing all of the beautiful First Look photographs featured in this month’s edition of ‘The Corner of Chestnut & Vine.”  Please visit her site to view her online photo gallery. / 919.556.7149