BBQ, Cupcakes, and ‘Til Death Do Us Part

I’m going to write a more in-depth post about Sara Ann’s wedding soon, but, as I know several folks planning weddings, I thought I’d put out a list of the vendors we used and a little information about each.

Florist • Lynn Doyle Flowers

girls-flowersLynn Doyle Flowers were respectful of the fact that Sara Ann cared so little about wedding flowers that she sent me alone, armed only with Pinterest photos, to choose the flowers. I spoke with Ellie, who was thorough and thought of everything I wouldn’t have. And when I called them back way too close to the wedding as I realized I’d forgotten the unity candle, they were accommodating and it was no issue at all.

Her bouquet, the altar and guest book flowers, and the bridesmaids’ and groomsmen’s flowers were exactly as she wanted. They did a truly beautiful job on our wedding and the cost was more than reasonable.

Recommend • Highly

Church • Christ United Methodist Church, Wilson Chapel

wilsonThis one was a no-brainer, as this has been our church for many years. Christ Methodist employs a wedding director, Myra, who incidentally directed our wedding in 1986, so she’s got plenty of experience. She was an enormous help at the rehearsal and on the wedding day.

Wilson Chapel is a lovely place to get married and needs little additional decoration. It’s just the right size, seats about 500, and is intimate, yet roomy enough for nearly any size wedding party.

Recommend • Highly

Reception • Jack Robinson Gallery

Robinson-Gallery-Raw-Gallery-Space-10-300x200We were looking for a casual venue with some character and an artistic vibe. Sara Ann loved the idea of a downtown venue and we stumbled on the Jack Robinson Gallery at the corner of Front and Huling, just about a block from the Mississippi River. It’s a fascinating building that houses not only a party space, but a stained glass studio and architectural model business as well. The gallery is decorated with photos from the late Jack Robinson’s career as a cover photographer for Vogue magazine. Hardwood floors are original and the walls are suitably distressed urban chic.

They can handle about 200 people, so it’s not the space for a large event, but it was perfect for us. Plenty of space for a band and dance floor and large circular tables for 48 guests to sit at one time. We could have had more tables, but chose to leave plenty of standing space.

The owner is extremely nice and easy to work with, and accommodating; we actually could have begun setting up on Thursday before our Saturday wedding, and they handle cleanup. There’s also a closet with additional decoration and lighted trees as well as other decorations we found in a bookshelf and were able to use at no cost. We did have to do some setup of chairs, though the attendant set up the tables for us. You’ll have to rent tablecloths, but they have an assortment of tables and chairs.

Recommend • Reasonable rates and a cool downtown location make this place a total win.

Catering • Central BBQ

barIf you’re a Memphian you know Central. It’s some of Memphis’ best, and has been Sara Ann & Ethan’s favorite for some time, so it was a natural for their reception. They were a dream to work with. Not only did they set up the BBQ spread, they set up our cupcakes as well, so that when we arrived, everything looked beautiful. We also contracted with them for bartenders, which made the bar trouble free for us. We provided three kinds of beer, red and white wines, and bottled water and they set everything up and served. They also kept our cupcakes replenished.

We didn’t eat anything the night of the reception, but had leftover BBQ for two days afterward and it was delicious even warmed over. Prices were reasonable and the food and service were excellent.

Recommend • Big win

Cupcakes • Muddy’s Bake Shop

muddysA Memphis institution, known for the best cupcakes you’ll ever put in your mouth, and for the lines to purchase them on any given Saturday. We ordered 24 dozen cupcakes of five varieties in lieu of wedding cakes.

Unlike a traditional wedding cake bakery, Muddy’s doesn’t deliver the cupcakes; the groom and his best man picked them up on the day of the wedding and delivered them to the reception venue. We provided cupcake stands and table decorations.

The cupcakes were perfect, and we only had about 5 dozen left.

Recommend • Big win in the taste and aesthetics department, but be sure you have some folks available to do the legwork.

Music • Vicki McGee Band

bandSara Ann and Ethan heard this band play in Jonesboro when my brother sat in as drummer. They enjoyed the set and booked them for the reception.

They sounded great, with lots of classic dance songs, including The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and others and rocked Sara Ann & Ethan’s chosen songs. They were lots of fun, and the drummer was particularly great.

The night they played for us, they had a very high-profile guitarist sitting in with them and he was magnificent. Wish I remembered his name.

Recommend • Great to work with, reasonable, great sound. Win.

Photo Booth • Phancy Photo Booth Rental

photo-boothOne of the things Sara Ann most wanted at her wedding reception was a photo booth. This one was excellent. Great props and great fun. It was busy the entire night.

They also provide a physical album with room for the guests to write messages and leave their photos for the bride and groom. They also display the photos online for those who wish to purchase them.

Reasonable, nice to work with and great results.

Recommend • Highly

Rehearsal Dinner • Las Delicias

las-dOne of Memphis’ best Mexican restaurants, known for incredible guacamole and their homemade tortilla chips. We had fajitas, with appetizers of the guacamole (which I must admit I hogged obxnoxiously), cheese dip and their fresh salsa.

The Quince location has a private room that was perfect for a rehearsal dinner, and the casual atmosphere worked well with the groom and groomsmen’s plaid shirts and jeans. There’s a wall that’s suitable for projecting a slide show, which we did, and plenty of space for a group of 50 like our family.

It was a fun evening with great food and service. Ethan and Sara Ann’s evaluation: “Perfect.” Sara Ann’s mother-in-law, Julie Sanderlin made all of our desserts, which were over-the-moon good. Thanks to Julie and her husband, Don, for hosting a wonderful night.

Recommend • Yes, yes, and yes, if you’re looking for a casual evening

Linens and Wine Glass Rental • Party Concepts

tableSara Ann and Ethan are not wine drinkers. Which is why they were content to use plastic glasses for wine, to which Jim and I said a resolute “NO.”

We rented the glasses and tablecloths from Party Concepts in Midtown Memphis. They charge $65 for delivery, but it was well worth it, as there is really no time to pick up tablecloths in the rush of the days before the wedding.

They initially delivered the wrong wine glasses — they were truly awful. Jim called them and they — very apologetically — fixed the mistake quickly and without further worry for us. Anyone can mess up, but they demonstrated great customer service in fixing it quickly.

Recommend • Highly, but check your wine glasses before party time

Wedding Dress • Low’s Bridal and Formal, Brinkley, Arkansas

low'sThere’s a reason people come from all over the country to tiny Brinkley, Arkansas to shop for wedding dresses. It would be overwhelming but for the fact that their sales associates are knowledgeable, professional, and expert at finding the perfect dress to fit and flatter any body type.

They work only by appointment, and limit the number of people you can bring with you to shop. This was a concern for us, as we had two grandmothers, moms of both bride and groom, maid of honor/older sister of the bride — a total of six. They allow five.

We found that they are not as strict with that rule early in the morning. We had a 9:00 a.m. appointment, and plenty of space for everyone. Toward 10 or 11 that morning, though, the crowds began to increase, and I can see why they limit the number of people.

Our consultant, Ashley, listened to Sara Ann’s ideas, and pulled a great selection of dresses, all of which were beautiful, but none was the dress. She sensed this, and told Sara Ann she had one more dress in mind for her to try on. You guessed it — that was the dress. Then Ashley chose the perfect veil and a jeweled belt which made the look complete.

It’s a well-oiled machine with a personal touch. They excel at making the experience far less overwhelming than it could have been.

Recommend • Highly, but make your appointment first thing in the morning to beat the crowds

Mother of the Bride Dress • All About Weddings

dressI can’t say enough about this shop. It’s locally owned by Lisa Keppen of Collierville, and run with much care and attention to great customer service.

I went in for a mother-of-the-bride dress. I haven’t worn a dress in such a long time and had been dreading the process. Though far from fashion-model thin, I’m extraordinarily picky and selective about clothes. As a former seamstress, I always look at the inside of a garment and will not wear anything that’s not well made of quality fabric.

They provided alterations, even for Sara Ann’s dress that we purchased elsewhere, and also pressed and steamed it for a small fee. Pressing and steaming for my dress were done at no charge, and alterations were reasonable. Their alterations women did excellent work and did it in a timely fashion.

They were so helpful and understanding of my anxieties and worries, and helped me find a dress that I felt great in.

Recommend • Absolutely, but they carry quality dresses, so it’s probably not the least expensive place to shop. Feeling great at your daughter’s wedding is more than worth it. Trust me and don’t skimp here.

Mother of the Bride Wedding Shoes • FitFlop

shoesI wasn’t about to wear fancy heels to my daughter’s wedding. For one thing, she, the bridesmaids, and my husband wore Chuck Taylors. But I’ve had numerous foot problems, knew I’d be spending a lot of time on my feet and wasn’t willing to be miserable at the wedding. Enter FitFlop.

These shoes are far from fashionable, but went well with my dress, and were so comfortable that I was able to enjoy chatting with wedding guests and not have painful feet throughout the day. My oldest daughter, Elizabeth, called them “orthopedic granny shoes,” and she’s probably right. However, they got me through the wedding without thinking about my feet which, for me, is a miracle.

Recommend • Yes, yes, and yes. Especially if you have foot issues and/or aren’t into heels.

Nails • Riverside Nails

nailsThis is my go-to nail salon, which I visit about every 10 days for gel/shellac nails. A few days before the wedding, Sara Ann & I went for mani-pedis, and when Elizabeth arrived, we took her for a manicure.

They do a great job for me on a regular basis and are nice and personable. I love the selection of colors, and the shop is clean and service is excellent. We selected “Russian Navy,” which went perfectly with my dress.

They get very busy at times, but Wednesday and Friday mornings are pretty calm in my experience.

Recommend • Highly, though can be busy at times

Photography • Kate Anthony Photography

10506750_794987747226034_5732009813662997562_oWe love Kate. When we met with her, she was down to earth and really got Sara Ann’s aesthetic. The engagement photos were amazing, and I can’t wait to see the wedding photos.

Kate was great to work with and did an excellent job of finding spots that worked with Sara Ann’s and Ethan’s personality and casual feel.

We don’t have the pictures back yet, but here’s a sneak peek. If the rest of them are anywhere near this lovely, we’ll be over the moon.

Recommend • Yes, highly

Videography • Gabriel DeCarlo & Jennie Pearson
I haven’t seen the results of their work on our wedding, but these two were everywhere on Sara Ann’s wedding day. I can’t wait to see the footage they got. They worked well with the photographer, didn’t get in the way and were super nice to work with.

Recommend • You bet

Hair • Becky Morris

beckyI’m saving the best for last. It’s hard to think of Becky as a vendor, as she’s done my hair for years, and does the best job anyone ever has done with my hair. She’s more friend than vendor, but I want everyone to know how amazing she is.

She not only did a phenomenal job with hair for everyone from the bride to the flower girls, she was an incredibly fun and positive presence with us as we got ready for Sara Ann’s big day. Everyone said my hair has never looked better than when she did it before the wedding.

Becky made us all feel wonderful and I can’t imagine the day without her.

Recommend • Hell yes

Other Acknowledgements

As is nearly everything we do, Sara Ann and Ethan’s wedding was very much a family endeavor. Elizabeth designed the wedding invitations and I carried out her concept in the programs. Jim built a wonderful wooden pallet that served as their guest book. Our dear pastor Shane Stanford, who does very few weddings, agreed to officiate for us. The Christ Methodist worship band helped us find an amazing guitarist, and Kathryn Morris, daughter of Becky the Awesome (see hair, above), sang Be Thou My Vision like an angel as Sara Ann walked down the aisle.

Elizabeth also lent her creative skills for reception decorations, including the tabletop centerpieces, and we believe set a new world record for the most helpful and incredible maid of honor.

There is nothing more wonderful than a child’s wedding. This night was one of the highlights of Jim’s and my life together. It’s what we wish for from the moment they are born; that they will one day find someone wonderful to love and to build a life with. She found him about six years ago at my surprise 50th birthday party and married him on this day. We thank God for Ethan and his wonderful family.

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