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:

chattanoogaelopement

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.

chattanoogaevents

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.

destination wedding venue mountains

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).

barn before

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:

woodlandvenue

forestwedding

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.

chattanoogavenue

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.

bricksteps

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

Oakleaf

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

forestwedding

Next post… parking!

Revealing the Barn

Well, kinda revealing. It’s not finished — but considering where we started a few months back, the transformation is coming along well.

barn exterior angle

oakleaf cottage barn exterior

We had a deadline that we never expected would be tight, but with all the rain this spring it took for-ev-ah to get dirt and rock up here. Also, due to our location, a lot of work has to be done by hand. Mostly by two people. Myself, and Dave. I’ve got some pretty cool muscles going after slinging a pickaxe so often. Who needs a gym, when you are remodeling a barn on the side of a mountain?

barn deck oakleaf cottage

Our deck is complete, save we will be changing out the farm-fence look to tension wire in the very near future. It’s 16×50, and feels outright amazing – like you are in the treetops. After we stain it in a couple of months we can add pots and some minor furnishings out here for our Cottage guests to relax on while watching the sunset. We’ll be leaving lots of room for morning yoga, which some recent guests found the deck to be perfect for.

barn interior daytime

Inside, we are still working as well. The floor will get poured SOON, and we have some really cool details that will go into that. After that, we can install the lighting on the posts (and down the center), and we will be using reclaimed brick on the posts to give the barn a different, but solid, look.

first event

Our first event, a rehearsal dinner, went super well. Everyone loved it, and we loved watching how guests spilled out to explore the property and trails, some assisting newly walking kiddos who held on to their parent’s fingers — both for balance and to pull Mommy and Daddy everywhere. We were completely exhausted, but even through that were thrilled to see how people interacted in the space. It’s just as we dreamed.

bar area

We literally pulled our temporary bar together using the original lower stall doors about 2 hours before the event started. We were sooooo down to the wire. We’re happy it looks halfway decent, but looking forward to installing the original design with bar sinks and an undercabinet fridge. It will have a floating/locking island that can be used too, for greater versatility of space. But it dresses up nice.

barn at oakleaf cottage

Early this week, we had a small group of people come through to have a look at our little construction project, so we set out a little wine and cheese. I loooove pulling greenery straight from the outdoors in decorating a space.

tired dog barn party

Our tripod dog, Cookie, was completely worn out from playing host/official greeter and spent the majority of two hours right about here.

Work continues out here — this week, Dave has been installing the beams and details on the ceilings on the sides of the barn. It has a steel structure, which is nice and sturdy but not terribly pretty. From here, it’s all cosmetics.

new beams

We can’t wait to see what neat events will be in store for this place over the years, and have a number of great seminars and nature-related events in the works. Watch our events page or follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss out!

extra

xoxo-

Cris & Dave