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Beyond a Wedding Venue: Historic Cedarwood Does Design, Coordination + More for Cedarwood Couples

Friday, October 21, 2011

You've probably seen Historic Cedarwood featured many times on local wedding blogs like ours and even on national wedding blogs, like Style Me Pretty.  Their weddings are spectacular and blog worthy.  The actual venue is breathtaking and their in-house floral designer is top notch. But, there's even more to Cedarwood.

You might already know that Cedarwood specializes in eco-friendly, reusable decor, that they also work closely with their brides to come up with a look and feel for their weddings that are as unique as their personalities. What you might not have known is that Cedarwood also helps their couples plan and coordinate the weddings that take place there.  

To find out a little bit more of what this entails, I asked their resident wedding director Christa who is there from start to finish about what she does.

Q&A With Christa Harris, Wedding Director at Cedarwood

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Picture courtesy of Dove Wedding Photography

What do you do for a bride from the moment she does a site visit till the moment she is sent off after her reception?

As the Wedding Director at Cedarwood, I feel extremely lucky to do what I do and work with amazing people, especially the owners, who are hands on with every aspect of the business. I couldn’t execute the wedding day for Cedarwood couples so successfully without our seamless coordination between the event staff, setup team, design team and our vendors. We all have a love for what we do and I believe that’s a huge part in Cedarwood’s success.

Site visits, event planning and styling sessions are done primarily by Linda and Karen Wright (owners). My contact with the bride and groom is normally after their wedding planning is done. Approximately a month before the wedding, I meet with the bride and groom to discuss the protocol of the day and do a final review of details - from vendor information to grandparents, parents and wedding party names and roles for the day. We also put together a final timeline and discuss preferences regarding the flow of events. After this final review meeting, I’m in constant contact with the bride and groom up to the wedding day, and update our design team and staff on any last minute changes or requests.

Why does Cedarwood provide such a service for their couple and how does this benefit the couples or even their families?

Since the owners of Cedarwood come from an event planning, floral and design background, we started out offering brides an all-inclusive experience in planning their wedding. We handle the legwork and execution of details so the bride, groom, and families can focus on the joy of their engagement period and purpose of their wedding day. Our vendors are on property every weekend and know exactly what our expectations are and execute them beautifully. We are the contact point for vendors so the family doesn’t have to worry about someone not showing up or performing as expected.

Every Cedarwood bride has a team of experts working for her, from the first planning session to the end of their evening. Our goal is that Cedarwood couples and families get to make decisions on every aspect of the wedding, but then turn over the responsibility to us. My biggest goal is that they don’t have to think about anything, or do anything on their wedding day except enjoy! My assistant and I are with the family and wedding party from the first step onto the property to the last vehicle that leaves that evening. We pack and load their personal belongings into designated vehicles; our bartenders unpack, display, serve, pack, and load the alcohol by the end. Every step is taken to ensure they have a great experience and wonderful memories for years to come.

Describe a typical wedding day

When they arrive on property I greet them and assist in getting everything unloaded and into their designated rooms. I walk the bride around the property so she can see all the fabulous details she’s planned come to life. Then we go directly into rehearsal. If the bride and groom do not want to see each other until the ceremony or until they are in wedding attire, I do a separate rehearsal with the groom. Then they dress and take pictures until time for the ceremony. Another unique thing I do is always take the bride and groom to a private room immediately after they walk back down the aisle as husband and wife. They have hors d’ourves and drinks and can take 5 minutes to enjoy the fact that everything they planned and looked forward to has just come true. I recommend this to everyone on their wedding day, and have gotten so many comments from brides that it was just what they needed and so glad I made it happen.

After the ceremony, guests are invited to cocktail hour and the wedding party and family photos are taken. I watch over them throughout this photo session, making sure catering brings them a sampling of the cocktail food, get them drinks, make sure they have everything thing they need - sometimes even ferrying them to the hilltop in our golf cart for a special requested photo. After photos, time permitting, I try to make sure the bride and groom have an opportunity to see and enjoy the cocktail reception. So often they miss out on this exciting part of the celebration. Then I help the bride bustle her dress and refresh herself before the bride and groom’s formal presentation to guests to kick off the beginning of dinner. Throughout the evening, I coordinate their toast, first dance, cake cutting, bouquet and garter toss. I am there to ensure everything gets done and flows nicely. I want to be there if the bride and groom desire anything and to make sure they are pampered.

What was the most interesting wedding you have done?

That would definitely be the wedding of Holly Williams and Chris Coleman, mainly because it was the first ceremony using Cedarwood’s Outdoor Cathedral. We purchased 10-foot Victorian gothic windows, salvaged from a historic church designed by the architect of the Ryman Auditorium, and Holly fell in love with the concept of having guests sit on vintage church pews in the open meadow. The setting was majestic.  Another reason this was an interesting wedding is that Holly and Chris planned their entire wedding in two months. Holly has an amazing design aesthetic and was hands on with so many details. The event set up was different that anything we had done before, and there were also a significant number of celebrities at the wedding beyond the father of the bride. I took special care to ensure Holly, Chris and their guests had a good experience. Kid Rock did an impromptu performance and everyone had an amazing time.

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Pictures by Tec Pataja Photography

Tell us about a more challenging wedding and how you overcame those challenges.

Every wedding is unique and we’ve done so many that we are prepared for almost anything that may arise on a wedding day. Brides are sometimes concerned with booking an outdoor venue but we deal with rain all the time and have great backup options. One Outdoor Cathedral wedding scheduled for a May bride had to be totally re-vamped the day before due to a 70% rain forecast. She was extremely disappointed about shifting her wedding to a tent, but we helped the bride work through emotions regarding the change. With only one day to create a totally new design plan, the Cedarwood team worked around the clock to create an undercover floral fantasy with hanging chandeliers filled with flowers, draping and candlelight. As it turns out, she loved it more than the original plan even through it didn’t rain a drop. Our staff is constantly viewing the radar and informing me of any change in weather so I can make any necessary last minute decisions on the timeline so no one is inconvenienced.

Thank you for letting us get to know you a little better Christa, we can't wait to see more weddings at Cedarwood. Here are a few more pictures from various weddings they've done over the years with styles ranging from classic to southern and charming.

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ABG Notes: I'd snuck a peek at this wedding and got to witness Christa and her team working like a well oil machine getting all the details corodinated AND also take care of the couple all at once.

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ABG Notes: Christa making sure the bride doesn't get wet! (on the left. Picture by Krystal Mann)

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Picture by Bledsoe Photography

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ABG Notes: At the end of the day, peace of mind is what Christa's work does for happy couples. To see what this bride & groom had to say click here. (Picture by Bledsoe Photography)

About the Author:

Tabitha's avatar
Tabitha

Blogging is something I’ve enjoyed doing for years. My interests lie mostly in lifestyle related topics like fashion, style, design, food and weddings. When I heard Ashley was looking to bring on new members to the ABG team, I jumped at the opportunity - I can’t think of a better way to stay involved in weddings than to write about them and to stay in touch with the trends and new ideas. Lucky for me, Ashley likes my blog and trusts my experience to bring me on and so far, it’s been a blast.

See more posts by Tabitha »

send Posted on October 21, 2011 | Filed under: Wedding Venues and Locations,

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