wedding planning

You're Engaged! Now what?

Congratulations! You’re engaged! Now what?

With your new piece of jewelry sparkling on your left hand, it’s finally time to put all of those years of Pinteresting to use! All of those details and questions start swirling around and your head and it can be hard to figure out where to start in planning one of the most special days of your life. Don’t worry! I’m here to help.

First, RELAX! You have more than enough time to plan your perfect wedding! Here are the first three steps to get the ball rolling.

1. Decide on WHEN you would like to get married.

  • The most popular wedding months in Tennessee are May, September, and October.
  • If you're wanting an outdoor wedding, consider later May or the fall months as they are less rainy.

2. Consider hiring a WEDDING PLANNER.

  • They know the industry inside and out and can help guide you to the vendors that work best for your vision and budget.
  • They have done this whole process before and can help ease the stress of it all for you!

3. Create your BUDGET.

  • You can't start booking vendors or your venue until you know your budget, so it's important to figure this out before getting ahead of yourself.
  • Come up with two budgets: your ideal budget and then one with the maximum amount you are willing and able to spend. Don't go over that second budget.

Now the fun parts:  compiling a GUEST LIST and beginning to VENUE SEARCH! Compiling your guest list right now does not mean this is the exact list of who you will be inviting to your wedding because things change, but it will give you an estimate of what size wedding you’re looking for. Once you have an approximate guest count and an estimated budget, you can begin to look for the perfect space.

Enjoy this time in your planning process. It’s just the beginning and should set you on the path to create the day you’ve been dreaming about! Make sure you check back next week for the next part of the wedding planning series about CHOOSING YOUR DATE AND VENUE!

What's Trending? Wedding 2017

Modern & Industrial Vibe
We’ve seen a little bit of the more modern and industrial look come in at the tail end of 2016. Couples are anticipated to include a mix of metallic and whites into their color palate to achieve this look. Incorporating softer, brushed metallic metals like copper, bronze, and rose gold will be much more popular. Holding receptions in warehouses with an industrial vibe paired with modern décor is a combination made in heaven. 

In 2017, the floral trend will shift more towards natural looking arrangements and decor. Lush garlands of cascading blooms have been a booming trend as of late. Whether they are used as tabletop runners, replacing centerpieces and traditional runners or adorning ceremony altars, these garlands of greenery create a natural and romantic focal point. Additionally, brides are choosing natural blush tones and succulents to round out their floral arrangements. This trend is absolutely stunning. 

Comfort Foods & Family Recipes
This trend has been slowly making its way to the top of couple’s wish lists for their receptions. Incorporating foods that the couple grew up on is becoming increasingly popular on wedding menus as it is a way to make the event even more personal. If you love your grandmother’s meatballs or your dad makes the best fried chicken, we’re seeing couples bringing those recipes to their caterers to craft a meal around these favorites. Not only are the family’s recipes being brought into the big day, but we’re seeing more and more receptions where the bride and groom’s families are making all of the desserts. Whether it’s a plethora of pies or a variety of cookies, this trend is sure to hit the spot.

Local Booze Selection    
With the growing hype of local craft breweries and distilleries, couples are choosing to include a taste of their wedding city into their receptions. Whether that’s creating a signature cocktail using liquor from the area or offering a beer flight of local selections, this is a trend that adds in a little local flair for your guests to enjoy. Especially here in Nashville, TN, we have quite the selection to choose from!

First Looks
I love that couples are shying away from the traditional and embracing the first look. To me, it creates such an intimate moment for the bride and groom before the ceremony where all eyes are not on them. It allows the couple to get rid of a lot of the nerves they may have about not seeing each other before they are walking down the aisle. Not only all of that, but it makes for some stunning and heartfelt photos too! Some of my favorite wedding photos are those taken during a first look. 

2017 is shaping up to be one trendy year for weddings! Looking forward to seeing all of these in the weddings here at The Hermitage!

Wedding China

Okay brides, today we’re going to delve a little bit into wedding history. Specifically wedding china. And, no, I don’t mean Chinese wedding traditions (although I’m sure that would be interesting). I’m talking about plates and bowls and platters.

Wedding registries have been around since Macy’s invented the first in 1926. It was a way of letting the wedding couple choose their style of gifts and simplifying the shopping for wedding guests. One of the most popular items to register for was china that the newlyweds would be using for all their dinner parties and hosted events. Couples chose a formal china that reflected their personal styles. Their “wedding china” would be an heirloom they could pass down to their children.

Fast forward to present day, where most couples do register for plates, but they’re much more utilitarian and for everyday use. The plates my husband and I registered for are simple white china plates, and they just as often have pizza on them as they do a home-cooked meal. Wedding china, however, is starting to make a comeback as couples think about hosting Thanksgiving dinners and other formal events throughout their lives. It’s a great, historic wedding tradition that is actually functional! My favorite kind!

I recommend picking a classic white dish with some sort of metallic accent; it will never go out of style, and you can add in colorful or seasonal plates whenever you want! If you’re thinking about registering soon, check out some of these amazing dishes as options for your wedding china:

For the monogram-lovers:

The Pickard Etrusca Dinnerware Collection is available through Williams Sonoma, and is perfect for a true Southern belle. The gold pattern is vaguely equestrian, and you can add your new monogram to all your dishes! Williams Sonoma has the option to add your monogram to several different collections, so if this one isn't quite right there's probably one that's closer to your style.


For the cheerful diner:

This Kate Spade Sugar Pointe style, along with other Kate Spade collections, is available through Lenox. Some gals like the classic Kate Spade polka dots or bow patterns (which are available in her china collections), but I think the very delicate, silver scalloped edge of these plates adds the perfect touch of happiness without being too juvenile! 


For the Anglophile:

This Lenox Lace Couture Collection is ideal for anyone who dreams of formal teas and meals with all the proper cutlery. If you're looking to bring a modern Downton Abbey feel to your meals, this is the perfect dinnerware set for you. It's sophisticated and understated, but unparalleled in elegance.


For the modern designer:

Only Monique Lhullier could've created this Stardust Dinnerware set. The brushed silver look along the edges is broken up by bright silver constellations of dots, creating an asymmetrical star pattern. If you want a formal dinner set that shows off your style without seeming too fussy, this is the best option possible.


For the formal purist:

If you want your love of formal dinners to be known and talked about in reverent tones, then the Wedgewood Arris Geometric setting is for you. In china, there are few companies more loved or respected than Wedgewood. This gold-pattered set is classic, dressy, and detailed. You cannot go wrong here!

Featured Wedding: Marissa & Henry

Everyone looks gorgeous on their wedding day. It's a mixture of all of the joy, adrenaline, and, for us ladies, spending more than 5 hurried minutes on our makeup! Marissa and Henry, though, have to be one of the most gorgeous couples in the history of weddings, and they are so loving and trusting of each other that it makes them beautiful people on the inside and out. 

Marissa and Henry are also world travelers! During their entire wedding planning process, they were living in Dubai, so we had a lot of Skype sessions to make sure that they had the wedding they wanted even though they couldn't be here to do it all themselves. It was an ideal spring wedding, full of soft colors, a little, lucky rain shower, and this happy couple, who took off the next day for their Sri Lanka honeymoon! If you love what you see, be sure to scroll all the way down for the list of their rock star wedding vendors!

Seriously, they look like they could be models! Their wedding photos  are so dreamy!

Marissa chose soft greens and purples for her wedding colors, and we're enchanted with her bouquet!

Then there's our trusty golf cart! It's not a Hermitage wedding unless you get an a ride around the grounds!

Marissa and Henry wanted to tie the knot outside and chose to do so under one of our largest trees. A little sprinkle started during the ceremony, but the wedding party and most of the guests were completely sheltered by the canopy of leaves above them. The light rain made it feel like a moment out of a romantic movie.

Apparently, Henry likes donkeys, so he had to get a quick picture with Homer, who's stomping grounds are on site.

Marissa and Henry are history buffs and wanted to incorporate the history of the Hermitage into their wedding somehow. They chose to organize their seating chart with presidents instead of numbers, so guests could look up their name to find out if they were at the Thomas Jefferson or Teddy Roosevelt tables. The images of the presidents even had a subtle purple tint so they would match the decor! 

Since this was a destination wedding for everyone, Henry and Marissa wanted to stick with some classic Southern food. Everyone got a taste of Nashville!

The swagged lights Marissa decided to add in the Cabin looked amazing and added just a little more magic to the evening.

It was such a perfect day for this amazing couple, and we're so glad we got to be a part of it!

Here are the wedding vendors who helped make their day perfect:

Venue: Andrew Jackson's Hermitage- Cabin by the Spring 

Planning: Emily Piepenbrink at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage

Photography: Emily Lester Photography

Rentals: Liberty Party Rentals

Lighting: Nashville Audio Visual

Catering: Two Fat Men

Florals: GreenFinch Floral Design

Cake: Dulce Desserts

Ceremony Music: Avery Bright

DJ: Nashville Party Authority

Wedding Advice From a Recent Bride

Hello! My name is Chelsea. I’m with the events staff here at The Hermitage. I absolutely love working on the weddings here and am so honored I get to be a part of so many. On April 2nd I reversed my usual role and got to be the one walking down the aisle! I had the wedding of my dreams, and I wanted to share my wedding planning experience as a bride with you!


Hardest/Easiest Part of Planning


  • Deciding on a general direction- Let’s be honest, there are SO many cool ideas out there. You should have seen my Pinterest board. It was a hodgepodge of beautiful randomness. I didn’t know if I wanted a rustic, boho, or a woodland feel. It just gets overwhelming. I say this to encourage you to sit down with your fiancé and decide on what kind of wedding you want. What kind of feel do you both want? What is representative of you two? Decide on a theme--a point in time, a painting, a movie, something. Find photos for inspiration, get creative, and then run with it.
  • Keeping up with all of the details- Lists will become your best friend. They’ll be on legal pads, post-it notes, voice memos, and the occasional text to yourself. The minor details seem never ending. How do you want your napkins folded? What will you be using for a send-off? Where are guest favors to be placed? The list goes on and on. However, as your big day gets closer the list will get shorter and shorter… I promise!
  • Seeing the big picture- Sometimes it’s difficult to see how everything is going to flow or look together. No matter how many times you layout all of your décor on your living room floor it is still difficult to envision how your guest sign-in table is going to look with linens, flowers, candles, and all. Just relax and trust your planner to have it all come together!


  • Having a planner do the big stuff- A planner will save you so much time and more importantly, stress! They will make hotel blocks for your out-of-town guests, create all of the floor plans, and will organize the ever so frantic bridal party to make sure everyone walks down the aisle at the right time (That’s some sort of magic if you ask me!). They will also set-up and tear-down all of the décor that you brought. They’re there so you can enjoy your wedding day with your loved ones and not have to run around worrying about the little things. This is the time to focus on yourself and the next step you and your fiancé are about to take, not on how many seconds should pass between each bridesmaid walking down the aisle.
  • Vendor meetings- No need to stress! These are so much fun! Whether you’re trying food, playing with table settings, or talking with a photographer or DJ, this is your time to reveal to them what the wedding of your dreams looks like. Have any questions or possibly odd requests? Do NOT be afraid to ask. You’d be surprised what certain vendors are able to tailor. Let them know what is important to YOU because each bride likes to emphasize different aspects of their wedding.
  • Budgeting (can be stressful, but it is easy when you’re on top of it!)- Don’t be afraid to shop around for vendors and get quotes. Plus, you’ll be able to see who fits your wedding style the best. If I could only give one piece of advice it would be to decide on your top 3 most important parts of your wedding and splurge on those. If you are dreaming of pretty flowers and greens, then do it! There are corners that can be cut in just about every category. And when spending keep everything logged, keep every receipt, and don’t impulse buy. Little things add up quickly and you don’t want to be left with a bunch of unneeded items.
Head Table- Why not sit in throne chairs and drink out of brass goblets?! Oh, and you can't have a royal table without a garland!

Head Table- Why not sit in throne chairs and drink out of brass goblets?! Oh, and you can't have a royal table without a garland!


Mistakes I think I made during planning

  • Time management- Do not, I repeat, DO NOT wait until right before the wedding to get “small stuff” done. If I could go back I would have had everything done at least 3- 4 weeks out. But of course I was still making my guest favors the night before…oops! Granted, I didn’t have the help I needed until everyone was in town to help me out, but I did think that I had a lot more done that I actually did. I guess I bit off a little bit more than I could chew. Thankfully, I had some amazing people to help me get everything together without being crazy stressed!
  • Choosing vendors that I really didn’t trust- The bottom line is don’t choose to work with someone if you don’t trust them completely. You will waste time worrying and trying to micromanage what they do. Know that it’s okay NOT to book after a vendor meeting. And don’t just book because they are a family friend or gave you a good deal. You want to trust your vendors in full to provide the best service for your big day!


Favorite aspects of your wedding

  • The guests- After plus ones we only had 85 guests and it was PERFECT. Originally we made a long list that included long lost family and friends to people we got to know at our gym. The both of us then sat down and decided that our criteria was that we will not invite anyone that we wouldn’t take out for coffee. Sure, we ended up running into some people that we marked off of our list, but we still had no regrets. It made our wedding intimate, loads of fun, and not to mention cheaper!
  • Make it personal- Do not be afraid to do something different! We started off our ceremony with a “warming of the rings” where our rings were placed inside a wooden box and were passed around for our guests to see and to put their wishes, blessings, and prayers over. I’ve had people continuously commenting how unique and sweet of a gesture it was. And now looking back my fiancé and I are so happy to have been able to involve our loved ones in our ceremony.
Escort Cards- We had table "animals" rather than table numbers. Our guests loved finding out which animal they were going to be at for the night!

Escort Cards- We had table "animals" rather than table numbers. Our guests loved finding out which animal they were going to be at for the night!


What I wish I would have known

  • Some little things just don’t matter- At the end of the day it’s about you and your husband. No one is going to remember every little detail. For example, last minute we decided to not drape the doorways at our cocktail hour to save some money. And you know what?  I never caught a glimpse of my cocktail hour! And the while planning the whole time I was very adamant on draping those doorways that I would have never seen. If I knew this little thing wasn’t such a big deal I would have never been so hung up on the drapes (see what I did there). But seriously, focus on the bigger things that you find truly important.
  • How fast it goes by- Oh my, your wedding day is over in a blink of an eye. My final advice would be to enjoy every moment of it and please, please, please if you’re going to splurge on anything, splurge on an amazing photographer! You will have these photos for you to remember this quick, but special day for the rest of your life. Make sure that it is captured in the best way possible. It makes all of the difference.
Table Setting- I love a colored table cloth rather than sticking to a traditional ivory. And I couldn't resist these wooden chargers!

Table Setting- I love a colored table cloth rather than sticking to a traditional ivory. And I couldn't resist these wooden chargers!