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Prepare to Pin: Cressie’s Super DIY Wedding at the Nashville Zoo, with Bride-designed Everything!

Friday, November 30, 2012

(Helpful tip - now is a good time to log into your Pinterest account and prepare to pin goodies from Cressie's unbelieveably creative, yellow and grey wedding at the Nashville Zoo.)

Some gals were born to design. I'm not one of them, so I blog about all of the wonderful things I WISH I could design.

Cressie is one of those girls, born to design beautiful things. Attorney by day and designer by nature, her DIY skills are irrefutable; as soon as I saw the photos, I simply had to learn more about her wedding details. And that's when she reminds me that we featured her Murder Mystery Engagement party last year. AHHH - another one of my favorites! And that's when I knew for sure that this girl is in a class of her own.

Peruse her engagement photos and then marvel at her wedding at the Nashville Zoo. Cressie shares all of her DIY details below - from how she basically did EVERYTHING but design her own wedding gown. Yes - that includes making her bridesmaid dresses, designing the paper goods and treat bars, to sewing seat cushions for her family, creating a travel map for her guest sign-in and yes - designing her own photobooth.

Her wedding will certainly inspire you. But, I'll caution you - her wedding will give you DIY envy. If you love one of her venue/vendors, at least you can hire them to help you. If you love one of her DIY are on your own. Don't fret. Be realistic and gauge whether your skills are up to par. If they are, make it work! I feel like such a slacker.... 

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Cressie and Chris
Wedding Date ~ June 2, 2012
Ceremony Venue ~ Historic Croft Home at the Nashville Zoo
Reception Venue ~ Jungle Terrace Pavilion at the Nashville Zoo 
Guests ~ 200

zoo nashville wedding diy crafty yellow and grey first look

The couple's private first look before the ceremony.

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My Wedding Team:

Planner: Bride planned; day-of assistance from Todd of Sharp Garden Center in New Johnsonville, TN
Photographer: Krista Lee Photography
Videographer: Cliff Fulton of Shannon Fulton Photography 
Gown & accessories: Justin Alexander gown and Benjamin Adams shoes from Something Blue Shoppe in Hartselle, AL
Men's attire: Men’s Wearhouse
Bridesmaids attire: Designed and sewn by the bride
Hair and Makeup: Dana Bell Wyatt (who was a Bridesmaid herself!)
Stationery: All created and designed by the bride; wedding hanky invitations and reception table runners produced by Spoonflower.
Ceremony music: Mockingbird Musicians
Reception music: Justin Caldwell and the Downtown Band
Transportation: White 1961 Cadillac Deville from At Your Service - Nashville Wedding Cars
Caterer: Taste of the Wild Catering by the Nashville Zoo and Jimmy Ashby BBQ from Camden, TN
Cake Artist: Petit Fours by Peggy Ann Bakery of Huntsville, AL
Floral Designer: Sharp Garden Center in New Johnsonville, TN

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My Wedding Details

How would you describe your style as a couple?

Chris loves to travel and take pictures of native wildlife. In fact, we got engaged in New Zealand after visiting a Kiwi bird and Penguin sanctuary. On the other hand, I have a hobby of creating 1800’s period gowns for reenactments, antebellum home tours and events such as the Southern Belle School in Columbia, TN. I knew we had to find a venue to incorporate Chris’s love of exotic animals and my love of historical southern homes. Thus, the historic Croft House within the Nashville Zoo was the PERFECT choice.

How did you incorporate that style into your wedding?

Guest experience before style was first on our list. When we were looking at the many event locations inside the Nashville Zoo, we knew we had to incorporate the Wild Animal Carousel into our cocktail hour. Everyone -young and old- enjoyed riding the carousel and we got some fabulous pictures and video thanks to Krista Lee and Cliff Fulton.

Chris had several ideas to personalize our event such as a ceremony refreshment cart with lemonade to serve our guests as they arrive and a “Guess the Honeymoon” map.  Guests were asked to pick their favorite travel spots since Chris kept the Honeymoon secret from everyone (including me, the Bride) until we arrived at the airport.

I also created fan programs and canvas flags for guests to wave after “the kiss” to encourage audience participation.

What was the favorite aspect of your wedding?

I really have too many favorites to list, but the sweet and unexpected speech that my Dad gave during the reception is at the top.

Where did you splurge?  Where did you save/DIY?

I splurged on music and I am so glad that I picked the right musicians for our wedding. I really wanted a variety of live music and Nashville is the BEST city in the world to find talented wedding musicians. Many of our guests were visiting Nashville for the first time and we HAD to showcase the city’s talent.

Mockingbird Musicians were a delight to work with and they customized a special playlist incorporating our love for Star Wars, Lord the the Rings, Jurassic Park, and Gone with the Wind into our ceremony music. We encouraged everyone to “guess” the movie theme song as they were waiting on our ceremony to begin.

Our reception and cocktail hour band, The Downtown Band, oozes talent with their John Mayer and Sting cover songs but also ROCKED the tent with dance favorites all night long. Our guests are still commenting on the music from the evening.

I saved money in several areas but most required extensive DIY. Instead of renting linens, I purchased table covers at a deep discount online and donated them to a local school district after the wedding. To dress up the plain table linens, I designed and cut table runners in the shape of a “double wedding ring quilt” and had them printed at I also sewed 174 ceremony chair covers, each with ribbons flowing down the back for the ceremony.

Since I clearly love textiles, I wanted to incorporate heirloom sewing and quilting into our wedding. The lovely ladies at the Quilting Bee in Camden, TN helped me order large quantities of fabric for various quilts and for round personalized seat pillows that I made for immediate family members to reserve their seat for the ceremony. I also made mini quilts for menus and directional signage using garden flag stands to hold the quilts around the Zoo. My guestbook was, you guested it, quilt fabric squares.

My ribbon aisle runner was created with flowers from Sharp Garden Center, 6ft wooden dowels, ribbon, paint cans covered with fabric and quick setting cement to hold the dowels. Yes, I am proud to say that I learned how to mix cement for my wedding decor!

Instead of renting a photobooth, I made one with my Dad over the course of 4 months. I provided the software and the technical equipment (recycled from my old college computer) and my Dad engineered a wooden case that was durable, functional and able to travel. It was a great father/daughter pre-wedding activity. My Matron of Honor, Dana Bell Wyatt, painted the vintage-looking photo backdrop and my sister-in-law helped run the booth during the wedding.

zoo nashville wedding diy crafty yellow and grey

Photo Booth created and designed by bride.

However, with all of these DIY wedding projects, I had to say no to the biggest wedding project: Sewing my own wedding dress. As a hobby seamstress and quilt teacher, I knew I was up to the challenge but my parents and groom urged me not to tackle this project due to the potential stress associated with this task. Thankfully, I found a wedding dress that I fell in love with and I knew in my heart that I could never replicate the tiny embroidered details of the dress without a team of dedicated seamstresses.

As a consolation prize, I designed and created my Bridesmaid dresses. I used tulle and satin to create an illusion neckline and embroidered Beatles' lyrics along the hem: All You Need Is Love and Love Is All You Need. The dresses also included my favorite addition: POCKETS!

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Bridesmaid dresses designed and sewn by bride!

We also saved money on alcohol costs for the evening. Chris’s brother is an award-winning brewmaster and graciously donated all of our wedding beer complete with custom labels. The types of beer were based on our favorite brews from our worldly travels. This was truly the best wedding gift and we got to share it with the people we love! Thanks so much Drew!

Now that the wedding day is over, is there anything about your planning process you feel you could have done differently?

Nothing. Everything came together beautifully thanks to the Nashville Zoo Events Team and my florists, Todd and Terry, of Sharp Garden. They were ROCKSTARS. The amount of hauling, unpacking, and setup involved was staggering and both teams finished all wedding setup in only 3 hours! They made everything run smoothly so I could focus on my groom and family. I cannot thank them enough!

What words of advice do you have for couples in the midst of their planning?

As Fleetwood Mac would say “Go Your Own Way”! Don’t be persuaded to have a typical cookie-cutter wedding. Add your own personal flair and enjoy every minute with no regrets!

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Cressie's sweet note to the Nashville Zoo:


I cannot thank you enough! It was more wonderful than we ever imagined! You and your staff did such an amazing job and everything ran so smoothly. I cannot thank you enough for making our Wedding day so memorial and best of all FUN! I am extremely grateful for all of your hard work and assistance. I couldn't have pulled off my dream wedding without you and and your team! My hubby was also unbelievably impressed- he looked at me and said that was perfect and so "us" as we were leaving the zoo! My guests were also impressed with the zoo, the Croft house and the carousel but the thing I am asked about the most is the FOOD and if I could share any recipes. We were all blown away with the quality and presentation of the food. My guests are still raving about the pretzel bar! Although I wasn't present for set-up and break-down of the event, my parents were extremely impressed with your team and their assistance with everything. They have raved about their teamwork and helpfulness with the reception setup and the speed in which your team worked was almost super human!

All of my vendors (my wedding was their first zoo wedding for most of them) also praised you and your team for being one of the best venues in the area. My florist/coordinators were deeply impressed by the way you accommodated their needs and so quick to answer questions! The Nashville Zoo will always hold a special place in our hearts and I will never forget what you and your team did for us! Please send me the name/email of your superiors so I can brag about you and your team! Also I would be glad to be a reference for any potential zoo brides and will sing your praises from the rooftop!"

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

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send Posted on November 30, 2012 | Filed under: DIY & Budget Wed Finds, Real Nashville Weddings, Wedding Venues and Locations,

2 Responses to This Post
reggie says...

hi ashley and meg   thank you for sendiing me this link :)  ashley i’m still looking forward to lunch, my treat:)

Posted on December 3, 2012 @ 7:29pm

krista says...

I just LOVED working with these two!  They’re so sweet, so photogenic.. and SO creative!!!!  I could not believe the amount of DIY projects Cressie did herself… Simply amazing!!!

Posted on December 3, 2012 @ 11:20pm

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