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The Smart Bride - How to Hire Your Nashville Wedding Team

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!

If you are are one of the lucky couples to get engaged over the Valentine's holiday, today's help is right on time for you!  

A few weeks ago, we hosted The Smart Bride, a workshop for Nashville's newly engaged couples.  There wasn't a shortage of wedding planning education that evening, brides and grooms (and moms!) were frantically taking notes and asking great questions.  We shared many insider tips on wedding planning and gave advice you won't find anywhere else.  Here are the important wedding planning tips from the evening that will jumpstart your wedding planning.


Our distinguished panel and our wonderful attendees

How to Select Your Wedding Venue:

It is important to know your vision and of course, your budget.  Keep that in mind as you pick your venue, as well as some of our professionals' advice:

Mindy, Nashville Event Space

  • Get some idea of a budget or number and think about what you want the venue to do for you.
  • Even if it seems like it’s a long way out, make your guest list now so you’ll know if the space is too big or small.

Kellie, Events @ 1418 and Legacy Farms

  • Understand the costs and understand the contract.
  • If a venue tells you its limitations, if it can only fit a certain number of people, do not try to go around it.

Shannon, Southall Eden Farm and Paperie

  • Do your research online to see if an indoor or outdoor venue appeals to you then narrow it down to three or four.
  • Do not try to bend the rules - venue policies are in place for a reason so trust that your vendor, who does this several times a year, knows what they are doing.

Kathy, Front Porch Farms

  • Ask what deals the venue has with preferred vendors. The venue can use its relationship with its vendors to help you out – “preferred” vendors know how the venues work.
  • There are things in place for your protection and your guest’s protection.


Left to right: Kathy, Kellie, Lane, Shannon

How to Shop for Your Bridal Gown & Bridesmaid Dresses:

We had two bridal gown experts on hand, Tara of The White Room and Lane of Kerried Away Couture to cover custom made dresses and gowns.  They brought sample gowns with them for the attendees to touch and look at, and Lane had a ton of color swatches to show as well.  The panel had their concerns met, such as whether or not buying gowns on craigslist was a good idea (no it's not) and whether buying a gown on a week day is cheaper than on a weekend (so not true).


Kerried Away Couture offers custom dresses in just about any color or fabric you could want.


Left to right: Mindy, Tara, Lynette and Ashley

How to Shop at a Bridal Salon for Your Bridal Gown - Tara, The White Room

  • Pick the gowns you want to start with.
  • Don't be intimidated by bridal sizes - they run small and you won't be fitting into the size you actually are.
  • If you're getting a discounted gown online, it's probably not the real thing.
  • Call to see if the gown you saw online is available for you to try on.

How to Shop at a Bridal Salon for Your Bridesmaid Dresses - Tara, The White Room 

  • You can bring your entire party or just bring one, like your maid of honor.
  • If you must shop with all your girls, do it on a less busy day like a week day.
  • Allow 30 - 60 days for bridesmaids dress orders.

How to Design Your Custom Bridesmaid Dresses, Special Occasion Dresses - Lane, Kerried Away Couture

  • Start with the style/pattern of gown, then the fabric and then the details like ruffles or bows.
  • Prices at Kerried Away Couture range from $175 and up depending on style, fabric and details. They also offer discounts for parties of five or more.
  • Custom gowns are fit to your body style from the start so it can save you money on alterations in the end.
  • Allow at least four months from the date of the order till the date of your wedding.

How to Hire Your Photography and Videography


You can have great details you’ve spent months laboring over but no one’s going to see it after that day, and rarely do brides and grooms remember those details so it's important to capture the memories and to capture them well.  So here are some pointers for choosing and hiring your photographer and videographer.

Don, Donald Yeager Photography

  • Budget for the things you want AFTER your wedding day – the album, portraits, prints, gifts for your parents.
  • The First Look is a special moment for couples before the ceremony and you can spend that time taking care of all the pictures so you don’t have to worry about a cocktail hour.
  • When you meet with photographers make sure you get along with them. Make sure you have the same personalities, make sure you think the same things are funny because you're going to be friends.
  • Allocate more time on the wedding day to photograph what is most important to you

Noelle, McCoy Made

  • Look for what you want to walk away with after the session – a big picture on your wall? Or a guest book? What are you going to do with the pictures?
  • Your wedding album is the first family heirloom that you create. It's fine if you get a DVD if you have access to a good photo lab or company besides Walgreens but budget for an album for after your wedding.

Lynette, McNeal Wedding Films

  • Your vows, your toasts - there are a lot of things that are whispered and captured on video through the day that you won't remember saying or hearing.
  • Most videographers only have their highlights on their sites. Ask to see the whole video from start to finish in a quiet place where you can hear the audio.
  • Walk through the plan for the day with your videographer.
  • Make sure the person/people shooting the video for your day is stated on your contract.


Hors d'oeuvres by A Catered Affair


Left: A beautiful cake by The Bake Shoppe. Right: Centerpiece by Enchanted Florist

How to Hire Your Caterer & Cake Artist:

Kellie Bryson, Main Event Productions (The Bake Shoppe, A Catered Affair)

Catering -

  • Make sure your caterer is licensed and insured
  • Don't be afraid to ask to see the health rating
  • Ask the caterer what is included - e.g. servers, dishes or service fees. Get it all in writing

Cakes -

  • Ask: Who is making your cake? Grocery store bakers come and go but professional wedding cake bakers are the same so you get consistency.
  • Know: Are there any delivery fees?
  • Ask: Are there set up fees and will the baker provide a cake plateau or platter?

What is Floral Design and How to Hire a Floral Designer

Our vendors are picked not just because they simply complete the task they set out to do but because they are extremely good at it too.  Caprice of Enchanted Florist explained what she does as a wedding floral designer vs. flower shops or other floral designers and what she and others in her specialized field do are beyond just bouquets, centerpieces and arrangements. Wedding floral designers are able to look at the big picture, your vision, and bring it to life even more. Caprice also has a background in theater design so every aspect from lighting to angles to lines all go into her designs. She talked to us about what you can do to prepare for your meeting with your floral person.


Caprice, Enchanted Florist and Shannon, Southall Eden

  • Google image search is a great resource for pictures and put in your favorite thing e.g. "Pink flowers."
  • Bring swatches of your dresses and anything you have to be helpful. The more you bring in to your initial meeting, the easier it is for the person you're meeting with.
  • Pick the things that are most important to you - is it your bouquet? Or your centerpieces? Prioritize your things because it will help.
  • Be flexible with the flowers used - you can get the same look using different flowers.


How to Select Your Wedding Stationery Suite:

Ashley made a really really good point that, while obvious, lots of us fail to realize: your invitations are the first thing your guests to your wedding see and are indicative of whether your wedding is going to be fabulous or a flop.  There are tons of options even for those of us who are trying to be environmentally friendly. Southall Eden Paperie has a line of recycled paper stationery so be sure you check with whoever you are going to for your invitations.  But please don't send an evite or email. Shannon also had some good tips to share:

Shannon O'Kelley, Southall Eden Farm and Paperie

  • On ordering the invites - Make a careful guest list and order 10 extra.
  • It isn't necessary anymore to enclose a second envelope or to use a calligrapher to save money.
  • Your Save The Date does not necessary have to match your invitations.
  • Do not put your registry information anywhere on your invitations.

Sarah of Music City Events made a good point, "The key word here is 'coordinate' not 'match.'"



We had so much fun at the sessions. I personally learned a ton myself and I speak for everyone when I say that I hope everyone left feeling a lot more confident with planning, and feeling more reassured that it's not that daunting a task.  Here's wishing all the best to all the couples we met! If you missed the previous sessions, click here for the recap on Knowing Your Values, Visions and Priorities and click here for the session on Wedding Budgeting.

A very special thanks to Nashville Event Lighting who provided the audio/presentation setup and to Donald Yeager provided the event photos above.

About the Author:

Ashley King's avatar
Ashley King

Hey - I'm Ashley! I started to give Nashville brides, or folks planning a Nashville wedding, a local resource for inspiration and resources. Hope to see you at a bridal show soon! Until then, Find me on

See more posts by Ashley King »

send Posted on February 14, 2011 | Filed under: Advice & Planning,

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