Southern Weddings Magazine V10 Editorial at The Biltmore Estate in Asheville
This month marked the release of Southern Weddings 10th anniversary magazine issue, V10, and it was an incredible honor to have been a part of it.
I'm excited to share these digital spreads of our editorial from the magazine (scroll through by clicking on the right arrow), but if you haven't snagged a print copy yet, be sure to do so. It's worth it to peruse the entire issue!
I've pulled a few of my favorite images to share here below, but goodness it was hard to pick!
When the SW editorial team first reached out last spring to ask us to style an iconic wedding inspiration shoot at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, we enthusiastically replied "yes please and thank you!" as quickly as we could type the words. Betsy and I were on the road for destination wedding site visits at the time and it was such a happy email to see standing out in our overwhelmingly full inboxes.
Not going to lie... I immediately felt like this would be a challenge. The color palette was bold and incredibly unusual. But then, I knew immediately it was part of the reason they picked us and that was such an honor! Challenge accepted wholeheartedly. With an editorial backstory and the color palette that were both provided to us for inspiration, I spent the next few months working on ideas for how to visually tell the love story of a fictional couple who bonded over a shared passion for literary works of art, and working with Emily Thomas (SW's amazingly talented creative director) to hone that vision and align our plans to ensure everything would work well for the magazine's needs. I think I actually started to dream in bright punchy poppy red, soft lavender, rich antique gold, burgundy wine tones, decadent chocolate brown, crisp ivory, and mauvey pink... the palette for our project.
I quickly fell in love with Carolina Herrera's "Andie" gown with it's ethereal movement and soft organza bow and ruffle detailing on the back. I pictured our model bride gracefully looking out over the mountains with the grand architecture of Biltmore behind her and it felt simply epic when I saw that happen in real life on the day of our shoot. I'm so grateful to the Southern Weddings team for making that a reality and for how beautifully Ashley and Coty of Henry Photography captured every detail, idea, and magical moment on film.
Originally, we had planned on a different idea for the ceremony setting, but after weeks of negotiations, we learned less than two days before the shoot that we couldn't use the large oversized prop that we needed to pull it all off. (The rental company just wasn't willing to work with us for a reasonable budget, and when that happens... it's time for plan B).
Like any resourceful design team, Betsy, Kristin, and I loaded a bunch of miscellaneous props in our cargo van to give ourselves plenty of options and headed to Asheville the day before our shoot. Once we arrived, we met up with Kristin, Emily, Jess, and our Biltmore contact Meredith, to do a walk-through of the property and check the light/determine shoot locations and strategies for the following day. The moment we walked into this tea house at the far corner of the property overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, Emily and I looked at each other and almost simultaneously said "this is it". The ceremony setting was simple, but stunning in it's simplicity and I love how it turned out.
This display for seating assignments was Emily's idea and I love the way it brought a literal use of literature to our story. In order to pull this off, we had to do a little crafting.
Betsy and Kristin snagged a bunch of books at a thrift store and over the course of several different scouting/shopping trips, we selected a variety of patterned and textured papers with which to wrap the books. Next, we tasked Carole Murray with hand lettering seating assignments to use on the inner pages of several books and chose this gorgeous piece of vintage furniture from the collection at The Prettiest Pieces. I used the same poppy red silk ribbon I used on the bouquets to serve as the book mark for each book. It may seem like a simple idea, but this small vignette required about 7-8 hours worth of work to execute well, and goodness was it ever worth it!
As is true with every event design project, the dinner table was profoundly important. We used an extra wide estate table (pro tip: if you're serving dinner at long tables, the extra width is a must to allow ample room for design elements!) to give us plenty of space for full layered place settings, abundant candlelight, and a thick floral runner filled to the brim with delicate blooms and lush magnolia foliage.
One fun little tidbit... the chargers (provided by our partners at Wayfair) reminded me of the organza ruffle details on the bridal gown. That delicate wavy gold rim was perfect.
Extra special shout-out to our partners at Fifty Flowers who provided me with all of these gorgeous blooms. Ask any of our team which hotel room smelled the best that week and they'll all tell you it was mine because my room was FULL of fresh flowers as I finished the bouquets and centerpiece elements on site the night before we started shooting. I used peonies, sweet peas, ranunculus, clematis, garden roses, and scabiosa and was so thrilled with the quality (and color!) of all the flowers.
If you've ever toured the Biltmore Estate as a guest, then you know that they welcome thousands of tourists through their doors on a daily basis. Because of that, part of the parameters for our shoot included the necessity to shoot the tabletop details first thing in the morning before visiting hours. From a production standpoint, that meant a 3:30 am wakeup call and meeting the full team onsite before the sun came up to carefully set each detail to perfection, allow time to photograph it all, and then tear it down and load out before 9:00 am. No easy task at all, but the hustle was worth it. That morning light was truly something special and it was an incredible privilege to be on the grounds of such a historic place with nobody else around besides our team of partners all working towards the same goal. As the sun rose and we went about our work, we all felt the gravity of those special moments and will always cherish those memories made that morning.
Since our couple shared a love for classic novels, we felt it would be meaningful to include a few timeless literary quotes from Jane Austen and Henry James. We worked with several calligraphers on various parts of this shoot. Sarah Hanna penned the lettering on the letterpressed Bella Figura invitation suite and bookmark place cards at the table, as well as the calligraphy artwork for the cake, and the large wooden sign we made. Carole Murray lettered the seating assignments as I mentioned above. One of my favorite details was the delicate hand painted lettering on one of the trailing silk ribbons I used on the bridal bouquet. Our former bride (and former intern!) Jessica of Simply Jessica Marie did a beautiful job with this important detail and all of us felt like that ribbon was such an incredible finishing touch. (Fun fact: I knew she could pull this off well after she painted on silk ribbons for the bouquets I made her bridesmaids in her own wedding last year!)
I feel like I could keep writing for days about all of the details, the behind-the-scenes stories, the hard work, the laughter, and the amazing creative team of industry partners who contributed so much and so well. I know Betsy could write forever about it too.
Any time we have the chance to contribute editorial content to a wedding magazine or blog that may ultimately inspire couples to plan an authentic, meaningful, and beautiful wedding, we feel honored to be a part of something so special. This project was a dream come true in every way and we hope it makes the readers of Southern Weddings smile, choose to be adventurous with planning/design choices, and seek out opportunities to include personal details in their own weddings.
Special thanks to all of our creative partners!
Planner, stylist, and florals: Rebecca Rose Events | Photography: Henry Photography | Film Processing: PhotoVision | Venue and caterer: The Biltmore Estate | Hair and makeup: Lindsey Regan Thorne | Wholesale flowers: Fifty Flowers | Silk bouquet ribbon: Adorn Company and Of the Earth | Bouquet ribbon calligraphy: Simply Jessica Marie | Head chairs and vintage rentals: The Prettiest Pieces | Candlesticks and cake serving set: BHLDN| Chairs, glassware, china, and flatware: Professional Party Rentals | Linens: Nuage Designs | Chargers: Wayfair | Wooden sign: Rebecca Rose Events with lettering by Sarah Hanna Calligraphy & Design | Invitation suite, menu cards, and bookmarks: Bella Figura, Envelope calligraphy: Sarah Hanna | Seating chart calligraphy: Calligraphy by Carole | Chocolate favors: Sugar Cloud Baking Company | Welcome basket contents: French Broad Chocolates, Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn, Vanderbilt Reserve Wine | Vintage cake toppers: Patricia Minish Designs, Over the Top Studios, and Dorothy Kinghorn Huggins | Vintage car: Air Haven Limousine | Bride’s gown: “Andie” by Carolina Herrera | Crown: “Camellia” by Emma Katzka | Bride’s earrings: Bailey Banks & Biddle | Red heels: “Cirrus” by Jessica Simpson from Amazon | Clutch: Ted Baker London from Nordstrom | Bridesmaid dresses: “Madison” in Dusty Rose by Katie May for BHLDN | Groom’s pants and vest: Bonobos | Groom’s jacket: ASOS | Tie: The Tie Bar