Hey everyone, Alex here! Planning a wedding is a fun and memorable time for any couple, but planning your own wedding as a wedding planner has it’s own added fun (and probably extra stress) and I’m going to tell you all about it.
Seeing 30+ weddings per year and having worked at most of the venues in Nashville, I didn’t want to do anything local because I thought it would feel like I was working. I’d know everything that was going on behind the scenes and not be able to turn my brain off for my own big day. So because of this, I looked all over the country for the perfect venue. I looked at castles in North Carolina, beach locations in Florida, Vineyards in California and even a couple random places in Kentucky and Texas. I ultimately ended up falling in love with the cutest little beach trellis at the Ponte Vedra Lodge and Club, just south of Jacksonville Beach, Florida. We did a virtual tour (since we started planning in January 2021) and it was perfect.
Another part of planning and coordinating so many weddings, after so long you don’t want the big shebang for yourself. I’ve heard this from a lot of wedding planners (and other vendors) who did a similar, small and intimate wedding. We ended up having 28 people at ours, including us. Had we done it more locally, we probably would have had closer to 50 people but I loved that we got to celebrate with our closest friends and family. We were able to make a weekend of it and everyone got a little vacation. Our friends are still asking when we can go back and do it again.
We also chose to have our wedding on a Sunday since we had such a small guest count. Not only did this save a little money on the venue but gave us an extra day to get organized once we arrived.
As I mentioned being a wedding planner and part of many weddings, you start to have tons of different ideas on what you want for your own. There are so many different color schemes and styles and eventually you have to choose just one to plan the wedding around. For me, it evolved as the planning went on. Each decision that was made, helped the decisions after it to be made. The small details for the day were one of my top priorities, I felt I really needed to stand out in this aspect considering I design weddings for a living.
Reception Table Details
When I found the color of bridesmaid dresses that I wanted, I knew what the color scheme for the wedding would be (sea glass green and beige, with bright flowers). From there I was able to pick out the linen for the long dinner table along with the Ratan charger plates, green dinner plates, beige napkins and bone silverware. I always knew I wanted the wood infinity chair which I thought brought in another touch of elegant beach vibes. It all just flowed together perfectly. I wanted to add in a little bit more elegance into the place setting so that was where the water glass and champagne glass came in.
Now if you know me, you know I have a slight obsession with Hobby Lobby. After a trip into the store and looking through their vase and candle holder options, I probably bought 20 different types to bring home and FaceTime my mom with so she could help me narrow it down. I knew I wanted a full table of flowers and candles with different vases to bring in texture and variety. We narrowed it down to 8ish different vases and 2 candle varieties that would duplicate down the 3 long dinner tables. Of course I confirmed with our florist (the amazing Fresh by Carryann) that it all made sense and would look right. She eventually had to tell me to stop going to Hobby Lobby 🙂
THE FLOWERS! I may be biased but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such beautiful flowers in my life. They were a mix of coral, peach, white and ivory, and some dark pops of burgundy in the sea glass and ivory colored vases.
The final pieces that tied the table all together were the menu card that matched our invitations, a pretty little orchid and a sea glass seating assignment at each place setting.
Cake Table Details
Lyle was in charge of the dessert selections, he cares much more about sweets than I do. We decided to use a baker local to the venue (Alley Cakes) for a variety of mini cupcakes and a vendor friend from Nashville (Cakes + Co) for the small cutting cake. I wanted the cake to flow with the rest of the design so we did a green color for some of the frosting and added gold specs to match the gold in our invitations and on some of the candle holders.
The cake topper is from Etsy and just had to have it. A little replica of our family, with the pups of course, graced the top of the cake. To bring the rest of the cake table together we had cake and cupcake stands and platters that matched our dinner plates, some sea glass colored toasting flutes and a cake knife and server made from actual sea glass.
I really wanted to have a champagne wall to greet our guests on their way from the ceremony to the cocktail hour so my matron of honor’s husband (who’s a wood worker) made one for me. We added a little “cheers” sign to the top and had champagne floating toppers of our pups saying “We do too!”
I had a seating chart made from Concept Wedding Designs that exactly mimicked what our dinner table would look like. It was truly one of my favorite details from the day.
Our bar was “Charlie’s Bar” (our Yorkie and king of the house) serving “Lou’s Beer” and “Winnie’s Wine”. Cute custom drawings of our dogs were put on the sign so we could honor our fur-babies. We also had a custom dessert sign made with drawings of what the cupcakes and cake looked like. Both of these are from Etsy, I highly recommend getting your small details from shops on there.
It was very weird shopping for my own wedding dress. Again, it felt a little bit like work at first so I splurged on some upgraded experiences in some of the places I tried dresses on. I had already fallen in love with a dress from Modern Trousseau and it ended up being the one I chose. To add a little pizzazz to it and to be a little different, I chose to get a cape from a store on Etsy instead of a traditional veil. I had shoes that matched my bridesmaid dresses and I wanted to add a little something to them so my mom made me the pearl clip ons. I also had a pearl and crystal hair piece found on Etsy.
The bridesmaids got to choose their style of dress from Birdy Grey and whatever shoes they wanted. For while we were getting ready, I got them pajamas that matched their dresses and cute socks that had their title on the bottom. We had champagne glasses with their name and title added too, which made for some cute pictures! I also got them personalized bags, dress hangers and a bracelet to wear in the wedding.
Groom and groomsmen
The men had suits from Men’s Wearhouse. We chose a light grey to fit with the vibe of the beach wedding and had matching ties and pocket squares from Birdy Grey in the same color as the bridesmaid dresses. Since we still wanted to be semi-casual, Lyle and my dad were the only ones who wore ties (you know, the groom and the one giving me away) and the groomsmen wore only pocket squares.
The boy dogs, Charlie and Lou had matching suit/harnesses so they fit in with the other guys and our girl dog, Winnie had a flower collar to match the girls bouquets. Let’s be real, they were the stars of the show.
The food was a pretty high priority for me too (ok pretty much everything but the cake was a high priority). I love getting to have creative appetizers at weddings and wanted to do that for our own. Having a venue that requires the catering to go through them didn’t give us as many options as we would have liked. However, they were able to make a hot chicken option for us to bring a little Nashville into the mix and that was great. They also offered short rib and salmon as entree choices and those are two of my favorite things so big win there! We opted to have a 4 course meal so we started with a wedge salad, then french onion soup and then the entree, followed by cake and cupcakes.
This is another area that wasn’t a huge priority for me. And then I ordered a couple samples from Minted and fell in love with the one we choose. It screamed beachy elegance and matched with everything else perfectly. The menu card that was at the place setting matched the invitations and I was able to turn the same design into a framed image for our guest book. I found wax seals that had a cute little tropical leaf on them and were the same color as everything else so of course I had to get those too.
Hey, another area I didn’t care too much about! I didn’t plan on having a “dancing” portion of the reception, neither Lyle or I are big dancers. We planned on doing our first dance and parent dances and then the night would pretty much be over. We did end up having a little extra time though so a couple songs got played and everyone got to enjoy the dance floor.
One thing I did care about here was not having the standard songs that I hear every weekend, for both the ceremony and reception so we got creative with that part. For example the groom and groomsmen walked in to “Under Pressure” and we walked out during the recessional to “We Will Rock You”. Our first dance was to “Old Love Feels New” by Chris Young (a weird homage to the night we met). Lyle really wanted to use the song “Shine” by Bishop Gunn somewhere so that was what we entered the reception to, while our DJ announced us as “Kyle and Alex McCloud” instead of “Lyle and Alex McClard”. This is a great example of ‘you get what you pay for’.
I wanted to be able to use as many vendor friends as I could so we brought a few down to Florida. In addition to our florist and cake, we also used John Myers Photography for our photographer and videographer, Leslie Anne Aesthetics for hair and makeup and Nashville rental companies Please Be Seated, EventWorks and Liberty Party Rental. Our buddies at TN Event Designs let us borrow string lights for our reception and of course I had Logan and Sydney from our crew as our lead coordinators and they killed it.
Wedding Day for a Wedding Planner
Now of course everything turned out beautiful and exactly as I wanted it to be, but the day itself felt very weird to me. It was almost like a normal working wedding day, but I just got to play the part of the bride too.
I knew what to do for the first look and how to cut the cake. I knew exactly how many seconds it would take me to walk down the aisle before the part of the song I didn’t want to play came on. My dads boutonnière was sitting on a table so I pinned it on him. I requested certain photos as they were being taken (how annoying). When we walked into our reception area, my mom asked what I thought of my table and my response was “the candles aren’t lit” which of course was because it was on a windy beach, NOT because they didn’t try to light them (which they successfully did once the wind died down). I guess the moral of the story is you can’t take the planner out of the bride if she’s a wedding planner.
It was a beautiful day, I almost cried when I started walking down the aisle so I was definitely in the moment then. I had so much fun taking photos with our wedding party. I wasn’t feeling great most of the weekend but once I got myself a mimosa while we got ready, I started feeling better and was able to enjoy being pampered with hair and makeup.
Thank you to everyone who made our day so perfect and memorable! And brides who are also a wedding planner, try your hardest to turn off your brain for the day and enjoy. It’s not completely possible but you can get close!