Coming Back to Kentucky to Marry is ALWAYS a Good Idea!
KENTUCKY DESTINATION WEDDING
VANESSA AND STEVE EMBRACE KENTUCKY, DISNEY AND THE CUBS FOR THEIR WEDDING
From the bride: I moved to Kentucky when I was 11 and attended the University of Kentucky, so even though I lived in Florida after college, Lexington has always been "home". Even before getting engaged, we discussed Lexington as a possible location for our wedding one day. We thought it would be a fun destination wedding for friends joining from Orlando and Chicago, and a good central location for our family members, who are spread over several different states. We didn't have a clear vision in mind when we started planning, but we knew that we wanted to incorporate touches of Kentucky, Disney (where we met!), and even the Chicago Cubs as a nod to my current position. I have also always known I wanted a wedding with a traditional, elegant feel. From the start, Steve and I, and my parents, all agreed we would throw a great party - an open bar, plenty of food, and good music were essential!
I never thought I would buy my dress at the first store I visited, but I didn't have any regrets. Once we had the dress, it set a glamorous tone for the rest of the wedding. I knew I wanted long bridesmaids dresses to match. My shoes were an easy choice; I always had a vision of beautiful blue shoes, as a fun nod to "something blue" and Carrie Bradshaw's Manolo's. I absolutely loved the pair I found from Kate Spade - they were the perfect height, rich blue color, and had beading that matched my belt. I wanted to incorporate something of my mom's, and fortunately she was able to remove her veil from the original headpiece, and I wore that as my "something old."
The wedding ceremony took place at a small Catholic Church in nearby Georgetown, KY. As part of my desire for a more traditional wedding, we did not have a "first look" - we both agreed we wanted that moment to occur as I walked down the aisle. Although that is pretty rare these days, I'm glad we made the decision. It may have meant a few less photos, but I love that moment we shared when we first saw each other in the church.
I knew I wanted to incorporate some subtle nods to Disney at our reception since Steve and I met while working there. Our DJs were able to play Disney songs on the keyboard during cocktail hour, and played an acoustic version of "A Whole New World" while cutting the cake. The "Happily Ever After" cake topper was one of my favorite wedding purchases - it was an Etsy find that perfectly fit into our decor! Another special touch at our reception included the memory table that my mom put together. She gathered wedding photos from several generations of both families, and it was a very touching display. Since many of our friends were coming from out of town, I really wanted to give them a true Kentucky experience at the wedding! The majority of our friends came to Lexington a few days early and everyone had a great time at Keeneland on Friday - the weather was perfect, and it was important to us to spend time with our friends since we knew the wedding day would go by so quickly. Our signature drink was bourbon & Ale 8, and it was quite the hit! We chose appetizers with a strong Kentucky flair, including a mint julep shrimp shooter, a mini hot brown, and country ham biscuits (my dad's one request!). For dinner we offered guests a choice of entrée, including chicken, salmon, and prime rib.
Although the weather had been warm and sunny the day before the wedding, it was quite the opposite on the big day. It was chilly and gloomy, with a 100% chance of rain. Obviously we were disappointed that we had to move the cocktail hour inside but decided to make the best of it. Fortunately the rain cleared as the ceremony drew near and our guests were able to remain dry while entering the church. Miraculously the clouds broke as we were getting back to the hotel, and we were able to get some beautiful photos together outside!
My favorite moments of the wedding were the toasts given by my sister, Steve's brother Greg, who was the best man, and my parents. My sister gave a very sweet speech that ended with the perfect quote: "Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale." Greg followed with a great speech of his own, lightly teasing Steve and working in a good reference to our Yorkie, Wrigley, who has a strong attachment to Steve. My dad surprised us the most though, as in the days leading up to the wedding he acted as though he did not have much prepared. He kept the speech light but touching, and had everyone in tears by the end! My mom followed and recognized that "all the people I love most are here in one place." Our favorite thing overall about the wedding was bringing together all of our friends and seeing them have a great time! We had friends from high school, college, Orlando, Chicago, and work, with people coming from as far as Costa Rica and California! Our extended families were able to attend, and my great-aunts were leading the dance floor most of the night! The DJs kept everyone dancing right up until the end, and we truly achieved our goal of throwing a great party. Our last song of the night was appropriately "Sweet Home Chicago." After the reception the party moved back into the hotel lobby, where we had local college favorite Mad Mushroom cheese sticks delivered. I would definitely recommend providing late night snacks - my only regret is that we didn't order more!
My advice for planning a wedding would be to allocate your budget based on what aspects of your wedding mean the most to you and your guests. We chose to spend more on the food and open bar, and decided to save money on small things that wouldn't impact our guests' experience. We used digital calligraphy as a more cost-effective option for addressing the invitations, and my mom hand-wrote the escort cards. We also passed on personalized napkins and wedding programs. Everyone that gave us advice about the wedding said to just try and take it all in, because the day will fly by. And it's so true! I'm glad we made time during the weekend and even during the reception to really spend time with our friends and family, as it does go by so quickly.
Photography & Videography: Noelle Adams Photography | Location: Lexington, KY | Venue: SS. Francis & John, Griffin Gate Marriott | Florals: Ellis Florist | Caterer: Griffin Gate Marriott | Cake: Leanne's Cake Creations | Music: Kentucky Sounds | Paper Products: All She Wrote | Hair & Makeup: Something Blu | Bride's Attire: House of Brides | Groom's Attire: Joseph Abboud, Macy's | Rentals: Special Events | Transportation: Gold Shield Transportation | Credits: Bridesmaids - Bill Levkoff from Perfect Bridal, Groomsmen - Ralph Lauren