Sanity Saving Tips for Planning your Wedding


Congratulations, you’re getting married! Seconds after anyone sees your ring or hears the news, the very next questions are all about the wedding. Suddenly everything from the guest list to how the ceremony should proceed is on your plate, and what seems like a million decisions big and small are demanding your attention. How can you not feel overwhelmed?

First off – take a few moments to just enjoy being a happy engaged couple, and don’t let “The Wedding” take over your life. It’s easy to let that happen, but the wedding is part ceremony, and part celebration, of your life together.

Before we get to bullet points, a few overall suggestions:

  • Set aside blocks of time for wedding planning. Don’t try to do “a little here, a little there,” because it will quickly overtake your every waking moment and leave you feeling scattered. Sit down together, and come up with a few basics to get started:
  • Prioritize what you both want for your wedding, sorted by “Must Have,” “Really Want,” and “Would Be Nice.” Hold on to this list, and then:
  • Set a Budget – Nobody ever likes this word, but it helps so much in prioritizing what is important for your wedding, and your life, and in being able to say “no” when it’s not something you really need.
  • Work on your guest list – this is a big factor in the expense of your wedding, from chairs to tables, place settings and catering, and even determining the size of your venue. Oakleaf Cottage, for example, has a max capacity of 125, while others may accommodate upwards of 300 guests.
  • Hire a Planner. No joke. It’s the best money ever spent. Your planner will be your best friend as you pull together the details of your wedding. Having an experienced planner by your side, someone who has all the connections and existing relationships with the right vendors for you is going to help you SO MUCH.

“Part of what I love about helping pull all the pieces together is watching the couple’s stress level dissipate over the course of our meetings together,” says Khloe Jackson of Wildflower Wedding Planning. “There are SO many decisions that need to be made and my clients have told me they feel a sense of ease knowing they have a professional opinion to consider when making all those decisions.”

One more note on a Planner – talk to a few, and decide who you “click” best with. After all, you’re going to be pretty close throughout the duration of your engagement.

  • Next up: create a new email address just for wedding planning. We have a few couples doing this, and it makes so much sense! All of your emails are then easily searchable, and you won’t be distracted by wedding emails in your personal (or work) inbox.

Keep it simple! It’s so easy to get elaborate, with the table setting, the extras, the décor… Pinterest is a massive overflowing fountain of ideas, but even the ideas can get overwhelming before too long.  There is an elegance to simplicity, in focusing on the bigger details, in not having to pack or store gobs of décor ahead of your big day.

Don’t forget, Dave and I are happy to help! Whether you want advice on the decor, or an outside opinion, or need help narrowing down the best vendor for you, know that we really enjoy doing whatever we can to make your day (and the days leading up to it) a breeze.

Photo Credit: Amber Phinisee Photography

Conner + Austin Wedding

So, so excited to share with you a few shots from Conner & Austin’s wedding the first weekend of October! The weather was just perfect — warm while the sun was up, then gradually cooling as the sun settled behind Sand Mountain.

Photography: Kelsey Dawn Photo

Florals: Melia Worley

Chairs: Something Vintage

 

 

Renovations Galore (part 1)

The month of August, we undertook a few big projects. One that I will reveal later, is our new parking lot (which is SUPER exciting all by itself!). But first, I wanted to reveal the big change in the ceremony area behind the barn:

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IT’S LEVEL! And it has grass. And brick steps. And steps leading down to the trail where folks like to explore and some of the BEST wedding photos happen among the rocks.

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Here is how it looked a couple of months ago for a photoshoot — you can see it isn’t quite flat, but it also slopes quite a bit off the barn. We had added five feet of dirt earlier in 2017 and it compacted enough for use just in time for weddings last November, but over time it was still settling and nowhere near as level as we wanted it to be. Plus the grass from seed kept dying. We went for sod this time.

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I went digging for how much this space behind the barn has changed since we bought the land just over two years ago — I found this one, from January 2017 (with Cookie in it, which made me sad all over again).

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You can see how MUCH it sloped — there was barely a useable area back here at all, certainly nothing for ceremonies.

And now, with 2 feet more of dirt in some places, plus rock — we treated it like a golf course, after a friend’s excellent suggestion. We have a couple inches of rock below the topsoil — that way, the ground dries faster than if it were only dirt alone. Drainage considerations on a mountain are serious stuff:

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We did most all of this leveling by HAND you guys. That means shovels, and wheelbarrows, and sore bodies. There’s no way to get equipment through the barn, and to go around back is a little dangerous for machinery… and still slow. So by hand it was. We have the muscles to prove it. For a while we were looking pretty svelte too… but I think a few quarts of ice cream may have caught up with us since then.

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The first little set of stairs are reclaimed brick from an old chimney in St Elmo, set with railroad ties to make them pretty long. They were not leveled yet in this shot– just placed down so we knew we had enough of them.

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Same view, from a few months ago with our photoshoot with Hillary Leah.

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One last before and after! We’re so thrilled to have it looking like…. an event space!

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Next post… parking!

A Summer Styled Shoot

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This styled wedding shoot was six months in planning, and just kept getting bigger! What started out as an email from photographer Hillary Leah wanting to take photos eventually grew into a bigger shoot with 10 fabulous Chattanooga area wedding vendors.

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Plates & silverware: Chattanooga Tent  |  Goblets, Candles: The Copper Quail  |  Floral: Creekside Flower Farm  |  Linen: Avocado Hand Dyed Runner by Nade Studio  |  Pottery: Facture Goods

We love styled shoots. It’s like putting together a “dream team” of vendors you’d love to work with more without the pressure and timeclock of an actual event. The creativity flows, everyone has a little time to visit and get to know one another… and they’re just fun.

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Creekside Flower Farm is a stone’s throw away from us. Morgan grows all the wildflowers AND makes arrangements and floral decor – isn’t this bouquet stunning?

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Kerry Dransoff is the bomb! She created this stunning wedding updo, tucking in a few leaves as accent

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We are in love with these little gold and marble tables, paired with vintage furnishings from The Copper Quail. They made our deck look so styling!

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We were delighted to meet Steve of Decor 1601, and to see our barn draped in soft white fabric! There are so many visions we have for this place, it was delightful to see this come to life.

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The invitations were jaw-dropping, on specialty paper, watercolored and gold leafed… and even wax sealed. Laura of Laura Lines Calligraphy is so beyond talented.

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The “ceremony” took place on our Front Lawn, in front of our massive old oak tree. We’ve no idea how old this tree is, but three people would be needed to circle it.

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Ghost chairs from Luma Designs allow the forest to take center stage. Draping by Decor 1601, ivy from our grounds added by Creekside Flower Farm.

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‘Reception’ was held behind the barn — we never grow tired of those rocks…

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Bs Sweets made the ombre & gold cake — looks so perfect on The Copper Quail’s bar cart!

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It was our model’s 2nd wedding anniversary on the day of the shoot. They stayed the night at the Cottage and we made arrangements for their sweet pooch to join on the fun!

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Makeup by Haley Settles

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Links and special thanks to allllll the vendors and artists whose work is in this shoot!

Photography: Hillary Leah

Cake: Bssweets

Vintage Furnishings, candlesticks, goblets: The Copper Quail

Ghost Chairs: Luma Designs

Plates: Chattanooga Tent

Draping: Decor 1601

Design Coordination: Khloe and Bailey with Wildflower Wedding Planning

Makeup: Haley Settles

Hair: Kerry Dransoff

Wildflowers: Creekside Flower Farm

Invitations: Laura Lines Calligraphy

Gold-edge Pottery: Facturegoods

Dyed Linen: Nade Studio

Chattanooga Food: Why We Love Food Works

 

Dave and I don’t get out to eat very often. When we do, it’s generally a pretty short list of places we love and are willing to go back to. We’ll try any new place once or twice, seeing as we need to be able to recommend a great place to guests and ensure they have the best gastronomic delights in town while here.

Food Works is one of the places we do recommend to folks — and they cater, and cater VERY well, so we absolutely love it when they are catering at an event at our barn. We decided to have a short chat with Troy and his catering director, Amy, and get the inside scoop on what to consider while planning to have your event catered.


So, we know FoodWorks opened back in 2006. Given the rate of restaurant turnover in Chattanooga, your continued popularity is a statement in itself. What is it that makes you special?
Amy: This April will be my 6th year at Food Works. The majority of staff has worked there for many years. We are a little family. Most of us have watched each other get married, have children, graduate college or mourn the loss of a loved one. I think our guests can feel that sense of family & unity when they dine with us and they feel at home. You can see that Troy has poured his heart & soul into the food & he is proud of the product he is serving and that drives all of our employees to strive to do their best. Our team is why Food Works is special & why we have been a staple in the Chattanooga community for 12 years. Not to mention our food is delicious, we have a great location on the north shore and the building is super cool.
What drew you to food, and ultimately, the restaurant business?
Troy: My first memories of cooking are with my grandmother at their home in Charleston, South Carolina. There is no place I would rather be than on their property surrounded by a banana tree, 2 pecan trees, a pear and fig tree. They had the most incredible garden. My Grandfather was an avid gardener, fisherman, hunter & outdoors man so we grew up eating all the produce my grandfather grew or game he required. My Grandmother has the best friend chicken I’ve ever eaten to this day. I remember being in the kitchen with her helping crack pecans, baking pecan pie and making apple butter. I knew at the age of 12 I wanted to cook & pursue culinary school. I’ve had a variety of jobs from being a chef at fine dining, causal restaurants, 500 person caterings, etc… The restaurant industry suits me. I’m not a person that can sit at a desk 9-5 every day and I like that every day is different. I need to be up, moving and talking to people.

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Have you always offered catering, or did it grow out of a need/ develop in a particular way?
Troy: We did not always offer catering. We saw an opportunity in the market and we decided we had the space in the facility to accommodate production. Having that space and staff already in place allows Food Works to offer competitive catering pricing while still providing a high quality product.
Do you have specific, planned menus for weddings, or can couples select favorite things from your menu?
Amy: We recently streamlined our catering menus to package systems to make it easier for the couple to navigate. We have multiple packages for people with a modest budget to couples who have a larger food budget. Couples can view our new menus on our catering website.
We are currently in the process of developing a brunch, southern comfort and Italian menus. All of our menu packages can be customized & tailored to fit the couple’s desires. If a couple has a favorite menu item or a family recipe we would be happy to work with them. Our chef’s abilities are not limited to only the food items on these menus. We also offered plated meal service if a couple is wanting more formal dining.

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A formal wedding catered by Food Works here last Fall. Photo by Alexis Dimmer

What is one area where it might be safe to cut costs? Conversely, what is one area where a bride and groom should not cut costs around food?
Amy: In my experience the decision of china vs. disposables can weigh heavily on a couple. At the end of the day renting china is usually double or triple the cost of disposables. There are beautiful disposables available on the market that look & feel just like china. In my experience most couples cut food or service costs first. Guests remember food not china. If you are going to cut costs switch to disposables. I would strongly suggest to couples to never try to save money by reducing service staff members for your event. Service is extremely important to me. My goal is to have short bar lines, a full buffet and clean, bused tables at all times. If you have a limited budget you should allocate the budget to food not china.
What is something you wish couples would do more of for weddings?
Troy: I would like to see the men take a more active role in the decision making process when creating the menu. Also I wish couples would allocate more of the budget toward food v.s non-essential items like a cigar rolling booth or fireworks. People make the food budget secondary. We want everyone leaving a reception to have had a positive experience and limiting the food budget can drastically affect that.
Amy: I would like to see couples take a more realistic approach when they are planning their upcoming nuptials. Instead of cutting food and service costs, consider downsizing the guest list. Limiting the guest list can allow for more diverse food choices.
If a couple is unsure of what they should choose for their wedding menu, what are some consistent crowd-pleasers that you would recommend?
Amy: Our signature dishes are shrimp n’ grits, BBQ, crab cakes, chicken picatta and salmon.
Do you offer tastings/samplings of menu items? If so, is there a cost?
Amy: We do offer tastings. The price for a tasting is dependent on the menu items you would like to taste. If you decide to choose Food Works as your caterer the cost of the tasting will be deducted from your final invoice. We do also offer a 10% discount off the food & beverage total if you book both your rehearsal dinner & reception with us. We can host your rehearsal dinner at our restaurant or cater at an outside venue. You can find additional information regarding our room rental policy on our website.
What is the best way to reach you?
Amy Autuori
Phone: 423.752.8129
Email: catering@foodworksrestaurant.com http://www.foodworkscateringchattanooga.com/#!/splash-page

Oakleaf Cottage Wedding Featured in Junebug Weddings!

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We have to tell you about an amazing couple — more than once we have gushed at how incredible it was that they had hiked to the bottom of Cloudland Canyon State Park for those waterfall photos … without breaking a sweat, messing up makeup, or even slightly staining that beautiful dress. They came out looking as fresh and amazing as when they left!

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But what we haven’t said much of is this — when Rachel and Josh first came to see our barn, it looked like this:

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No concrete. No walls. No deck. There may not have even been rocks in the section of driveway out to the barn, meaning they had to walk through some mud.

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They didn’t blink. They trusted us. We never once received a panic message or call.

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Their day was beautiful — the stage of Fall where all the golds are out, and the deep russets and tangerine-like hues are still holding back, letting the filtered sunlight fall golden. They and their family and friends spent the day before and the day of setting up everything they had brought with them. It looked like magic.

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Head over to Junebug Weddings to see more!

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Photography: Amber Phinisee Photography, videography by her husband, Tyler  Dress: Daughters of Simone via The Sentimentalist  Florals: Luella Floral  Furniture: Heirlooms Vintage Rentals

Styled Shoot with our New Farm Tables!

We are soooo excited to say this: we built farm tables for our barn!

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And even more exciting, they are stepping out in style thanks to a photoshoot pulled together by Molly of Molly Nicole Details, flowers by Christy of MayFlowers, and photographed by adventure and elopement photographer Alyssa Smithley.

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Molly brought in chairs from Luma Designs to complement the aged gray tones of our tables, and created the beautiful setting. We adore her — she has such an eye for pulling together the unusual — we are in love with the copper flatware!

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Word among the Chattanooga wedding vendors has it that Christy is one of the BEST florists around — we have a wedding or two coming up with her, and we couldn’t be more excited. Aren’t these florals stunning?

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Want to see more? And maybe more images around our Cottage? Alyssa wrote up a blog post about the shoot and included gobs more beautiful photos than what you see here (this is a teaser, straight up).

Getting married? Contact us about our wedding packages! We are perfect for elopement and destination weddings, our Cottage sleeps 9 guests in style, we include shuttle service to and from our parking area (so our 28 forested acres feel like an exclusive park!), are on hand throughout your planning process and with you the day of — and now we have… TABLES!

More good things coming!

Cris & Dave