Meet Maria Alexis Miles! Our latest contributor to our Bride's Journal. Alexis will soon marry John Curry at a beautiful venue owned and operated by her family, the Barn at Bennett Flats. Follow along as Maria outlines some of her bridal joys and reflections on the journey to becoming Mrs. John Curry!
If you are a bride or an upcoming bride, imagining what your wedding day will look like might be something you’re still making decisions on or something you have envisioned for a long time. For me, choosing a wedding theme was more of a natural feeling than a decision. After choosing my venue, things just sort of ‘fell into place’. That is one thing that I think will absolutely help a bride get a better idea of what she wants – go check out different venues, get a feel for them.
I am getting married at The Barn at Bennett Flats. It is a beautiful 80+ year old barn that was turned into a wedding venue. It offers stunning views overlooking pastures filled with wildflowers and big farm tables, filled with charm. It helped me set the theme, “Rustic Romantic”. My family bought this once working barn from a family friend and turned it into a wedding venue! After seeing several weddings there, I knew our wedding day would be simple, but dreamy, filled with lots of greenery, draping, and light colors.
Speaking of colors. People asked me what kind of color palette I was going to choose since I was getting married in September. I can choose whatever I want for our wedding! Forget what month it is, September is still nice and warm in Alabama – do whatever makes you happy! I have always loved blush pink, but my sisters liked white or mismatched dresses. While those are cute trends, I did not want to stress about the dress (who would wear which shade of blush or pink, etc.) I do not have time for that!
A bit of inspiration. Just imagine! A charming rustic barn, the sun going down, string lights between the white and blush draping, flowers with plenty of greenery lining the tables… rustic romantic, right? Stay tuned!
Chelsea and Adam's engagement session has an additional level of sweetness. The session actually took place on the land and at the home the couple recently purchased together. Their session is intimate, laid back and full of love for each other and love for the land. Enjoy!
Images courtesy of Heather Graves Studio
By Chelsea Brashier
Dress shopping day! Every bride's favorite pre-wedding day, the day you get to feel like a princess trying on dress after dress for friends and family until you have found "the one". I looked forward to this day since the day Adam proposed. I couldn't help but wonder what my dress would look like on the big day. I researched online and searched through bridal magazines for months trying to decide what style dress would look the best on me. I even took a few wedding dress quizzes to see what dress fit my figure and personality.
We decided to begin the hunt at David's Bridal. I planned on choosing my bridesmaid dresses from the same place as my wedding dress and with most of my bridesmaids being from out of town it made the most since to choose a place that had multiple locations throughout the US. I also knew David's Bridal had a large selection of dresses for very affordable prices which also made for a happy bride on a budget!
Once we arrived at David's Bridal, I could feel myself beaming! I was so excited and the staff was extremely catering and shared my excitement. The saleswoman helping me did a great job of pulling dresses that captured all the qualities in a dress that I wanted. Once in the dressing room she was very professional and comforting as she helped me in and out of dresses. I was initially a little self conscious about this part because when you are standing in front of a total stranger in a girdle and slip, you become acutely aware of all of your flaws, but she made sure I felt confident in everything I tried on.
The very first dress I tried on I absolutely LOVED, everything was perfect except it seemed like it was missing something. I put that dress in my "love" pile and moved on to the next dress to see what it had to offer. Each dress had an aspect about it that I really liked, but then something that I hated. One gave a very elegant feel with lace and beading but I didn't like the tulle that peeked out of the side. One made the "girls" look great but the material felt like my shower curtain liner, another had a beautiful keyhole back but didn't have a "wow" factor.
As I continued through dresses I couldn't help but think of the way the first dress made me feel. I tried on a final dress. It was simple lace dress with rouging through the body and the saleswoman added a beaded belt to the waist. The dress was beautiful with a very romantic fell that would have flowed well with my wedding theme and venue, but I couldn't help but think of that first dress.
I decided to try the first dress on a second time, and again I LOVED the dress, but again there was just something missing! The salesman on the floor walked by raving about the dress and then suggested adding a beaded belt just as we had to the previous dress. THAT WAS IT, THAT'S WHAT WAS MISSING! After adding the belt I knew I had my dress on, the dress that I would walk down the aisle and say I do in!
I felt like the bride on top of a cake! All eyes on me! Everyone loved the dress. After all the excitement died down the moment of truth came, the price tag. I had completely forgotten to even look at the price tag when trying on the dress. I knew if this dress was outrageously expensive my heart would break. I glanced down to see the retail price...TOTALLY AFFORDABLE!! Not to mention the saleswoman informed me that it was on sale for an even cheaper price. AHHH! I cannot explain how amazing it felt to find "the one". If I can give any advice to a new bride dress shopping, it would be to definitely wait for "that feeling". Do not settle for "it's pretty" or "I like it", wait for that "jumping up and down" "you're going to have to pry me out of this dress" feeling.
By Chelsea Braisher
Finally! Cake, hair and make-up were also fairly easy for me. Our cakes are going to be done by a family friend of Adam's who use to cater and make cakes for different occasions. I will say I was a little nervous about what the quality of the cakes would be but after sitting down and looking at her work, I have full confidence that our cakes are going to be magnificent. Not to mention, she seemed to understand exactly what I was wanting in my cake.
As for my hair and make-up, my soon to be mother-in-law highly recommended Heather Sinyard at j Drake Salon, which is an adorable salon located just a couple of blocks away from the venue. How convenient! We met briefly with Heather who examined my hair and gave great suggestions for ways to make the style I was wanting look its best on my big day. She even offered to come by the venue once my dress was on to help place my veil so that it would fit securely and look its best with my hair. We have a consultation scheduled prior to the wedding so we can discuss my vision and try a few things prior to the wedding.
All in all I really feel like everything is starting to fall into place. It's really starting to look like a real wedding! Having such amazing vendors on my team has made "wedding stress" almost non-existent. I know that each of my vendors are going to provide an amazing service and make my big day one to remember! Now, let's go buy a dress!
By Chelsea Brashier
Finding a photographer and a DJ was a little more challenging, I met with a few photographers but they were either outrageously priced or didn't seem to give me that "you're the one" feeling that everything else has. I will say you definitely want to feel comfortable with the person that will be photographing you on your wedding day and you want them to understand your vision and how you are expecting your day to go.
My biggest request for my wedding day is that Adam and I do not see each other until the doors open and I am walking down the aisle. I honestly think that the first look at each other on your wedding day as you are walking down the aisle to say "I DO" is one of the most important moments, and you only have one chance at it, so you could see why I would feel so strongly about that moment.
One particular photographer didn't seem to respect that decision and made me feel very pressured to do otherwise. I also explained how I didn't want my day to be filled with taking endless formal pictures. I am more interested in the candid pictures. She referred to her style as a more traditional style. This isn't my style. By sheer luck a friend of Adam's happened to mention the name of the photographer he and his wife used for their wedding, Heather Graves of Heather Graves Studios.
Photo courtesy of Heather Graves Studios
Not only is Heather a complete delight but her pricing was great and totally fit our budget. We chatted back and forth via Facebook for a couple of weeks and finally set up an in person meeting at a local coffee shop. Funny story. We didn't realize that the coffee shop we were meeting at had two locations, and we each went to the opposite location. I knew immediately upon meeting her I wanted to use her services for my wedding day. Just like the rest of my team, she was full of positive energy.
My entire family loved her. She even brought a complimentary notebook with a copy of the contract, tips for the wedding day, and questions to fill out about the wedding so that she can best accommodate our needs. You can tell that Heather loves what she does and takes a lot of pride in her work. Included in all of her packages is an engagement session so that she can learn before the wedding how to best photograph the couple, so smart. I know with Heather's photography our wedding day will be fun and my pictures will be amazing!
Photo courtesy of Heather Graves Studios
As for the DJ, we had spent quite some time hunting down a DJ that would be able to provide a profession service without going over budget. We searched everywhere! My mother was actually the one who contacted Nerdy Boy Productions, another preferred vendor of Loft 212.
I haven't had as much contact with them thus far. However, my mother seemed very pleased with both their level of professionalism and with pricing. She went on and on about how great the guy was and how accommodating he was as well. It was also nice to know that he has worked at Loft 212 before and was familiar with the set up and sound system. We are setting up a time to meet with them as well to discuss music and expectations for the different portions of the wedding ceremony, rehearsal and reception.
Photo courtesy of Nerdy Boy Productions
By Chelsea Brashier
Since the venue has been nail down we have moved on to the other big "V", the vendors. This step can be extremely overwhelming, especially if you aren't lucky enough to have hit the lottery at some point in your life. You not only have to investigate all the different vendors, but you also have to compare and contrast prices, styles and availabilities. Just as you want to feel good about your venue and how it reflects your and your particular style, you want that same feeling for your vendors as well.
The main vendors we were looking to nail down were catering, photography, DJ, cakes and hair/makeup. We have decided to do our own flowers for the bridesmaids and use more decor type centerpieces rather than flowers to help stay within the budget.
Finding a caterer was fairly easy. We did a little online research and decided to go with Custom Catering by Teresa Dyer. She is on the preferred vendor list for Loft 212 and after meeting her it was a no brainer. Teresa has a warm positive energy that is reflected in her work and personal interactions. Working with Teresa is like having a favorite aunt caterer your wedding. She is so knowledgeable about what works well for any occasion and is truly out to make your event the best it can be.
Photos Courtesy of Custom Catering by Teresa
My family and I had a sit down meeting with Teresa at the venue along with the wedding coordinator. Teresa has worked alongside the coordinator from Loft 212 before so we were able to coordinate the set up of the food with the room and the decorations so that it would all flow flawlessly. This probably sounds cheesy, but I kid you not when I say Teresa doesn't just serve food she serves art. Each area is decorated and set up to be visually appealing from the first plate to the last. For our wedding we are doing heavy hors d'oeuvres.
Teresa suggested instead of a traditional buffet line that we have food stations on round tables. Food stations! Of course, so simple but so brilliant that I never would have thought of that. With food stations on round tables guests do not have to stand in a long line waiting on their food. Instead, they are able go to each station depending on what they want. We were all so impressed with Teresa's accommodating services that Adam's mother chose her to cater the rehearsal dinner. She has truly been great every step of the way so far and I cannot wait to see how everything comes together on the big day!
Photos Courtesy of Custom Catering by Teresa
The Hunt for The Venue