All photography by Teale Photography.
So we had an amazing time in Hawaii and an intimate destination wedding was definitely right for our big day, but we’ve grown up together for the last 13 years. That’s 13 years of integrating our lives including family and friends so it seemed only appropriate to have a big, blowout reception when we arrived back in Nashville.
We’d never attended an event like the one we were planning so we relied a bunch on internet research, and there are LOTS of mixed feelings when it comes to post-wedding receptions. (n1.) So needless to say we were winging it on our reception and whatever you’re views may be, the wedding and reception we threw was the wedding and reception that was right for us. And we had a BLAST!
So here was our plan: Create a memorable reception that felt like a traditional reception (as if people had just come from our wedding), complete with our first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, tasty food, great friends, delicious drinks, and an awesome band.
LeBraun, the wedding party and I all re-wore our wedding day attire to help with the illusion of our wedding day continuation. Plus I was already looking for another reason to wear my GORGEOUS dress again! :)
Picking a wedding venue is a big part of the wedding planning process. It sets the tone for the entire event. Our desire for a stylish, modern venue within the Nashville city limits quickly narrowed our search. Most venues advertise as rustic with Southern charm and that’s just not our vibe. We almost instantly knew that our favorite rooftop bar in town, L.A. Jackson, would be our venue.
L.A. Jackson is a proper rooftop hangout. After spending six months in Melbourne, a city with some of the best rooftop bars in the game, we had been waiting for Nashville to do it right, and this bar finally got it right.
It’s an indoor/outdoor bar and restaurant located on the top of the Thompson Nashville in the trendy Gulch neighborhood with incredible views of the city on three sides. The space is light and airy. It’s modern and industrial with vintage touches. With navy and light pink, mixed patterns and textures, wood and metal accents, and a bright, tropical-inspired focal wall, the bar transports to guests to New York City with a little Miami twist. The space is sophisticated chic yet relaxed.
Seriously if you’re in Nashville and haven't been yet or are planning a trip to Nashville, add L.A. Jackson to your list of places to visit. They even serve brunch now. Mimosas looking over the city? Yes please!
We loved that the bar was beautiful on its own. We wouldn’t need to have additional rentals or deal with tons of vendors as it was all in-house through the Thompson.
So here’s the lead up: August was a crazy month. After our wedding on Maui we slipped away for a week to Oahu for a “mini-moon.” We were already in Hawaii so why not. :) Then we flew to Manitoba to visit my grandparents and celebrate with the Stanley Cup. Three days after that we threw our Nashville reception.
One of the best things about a separate wedding and reception was that everything wasn’t all over in one night. Waking up August 25 was so peaceful. There was no stress about what needed to get done or what would be happening that day. We rolled out of bed, got some brunch, and packed our suitcase.
We checked in to our hotel room early afternoon. My talented sister met us there and did my hair and makeup again for the evening. Then we got dressed and headed upstairs.
We had scheduled half an hour for some newlywed and family pictures before the event. A couple of our grandparents, who were unable to make the trip to our wedding, were able to make the reception. We wished we had scheduled a bit more time for photos, but the ones we did get are great so no worries.
Before guests started to arrive we headed back down to our suite with our wedding party. Our caterers had sent some food and drinks to our room per our request. We knew the evening would be crazy so it was a nice opportunity to enjoy the company of our wedding party, laugh, and thank them again for being such important pieces of our lives.
NOTE: This tip was one of the best ones we received. Take time to eat before you're event because you will get caught up chatting the entire evening.
Because of our plan to have our guests feel like the event was a continuation of our wedding, we opted for a 30-minute cocktail hour prior to our presentation to allow everyone to arrive, relax, and enjoy a few drinks, some snacks, and the fabulous view from the rooftop. Ya know, loosen up a bit.
Our band leader introduced our wedding party and each pair danced their way onto the patio. Lastly we were introduced and headed into our first dance to a beautiful rendition of “How Long Will I Love You” performed live.
Early in the wedding planning process we decided to take a few ballroom classes to prepare for our first dance. It’s not necessary but we would recommend it. LeBraun was definitely more comfortable dancing (especially in front of people with all eyes on you). We found a great package for five 1-hour lessons through Dance Factory in NoVa as we were spending time in D.C. during playoffs. Our instructor, Maria, was wonderful. She helped us coordinate several spins, steps, and twirls that we could incorporate into our first dance. It definitely helped smooth our everything and we’d recommend dance lessons for all engaged couples.
The second dance was my father-daughter dance to Otis Redding’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” even though our song is secretly CCR’s “Long As I Can See The Light.” Shh.. My father and I practiced dancing the day before so it wasn’t as smooth spin-wise as the first dance had been but it didn't matter. I loved every second of dancing with my dad and being able to thank him again for the wedding (and reception) of my dreams. LeBraun then shared a dance with his mother to LeeAnn Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.”
Truthfully from that point on the night was a blur—a crazy, happy, sweaty blur! Nashville in August is HOT y’all!
While planning our reception we kept thinking since guests would have just arrived that we didn’t want to kill the buzz with a formal sit-down dinner so we spent time researching several different reception styles.
After research on research about reception styles we stumbled across ideas like East Coast,” “strolling,” “cocktail,” and “progressive” receptions. Now we’re talking! In these styles guests are invited to enjoy the receptions in their own way. Throughout the night different food stations are opened so guests can grab food at their own leisure, hit the bar whenever, and get down on the always-open dance floor.
We had trouble finding example timelines for these styles though so we’ve uploaded ours here in the hope someone will find it helpful—Our Strolling Wedding Reception in Nashville Timeline.
We worked with our fabulous catering team—Chef Nathan Duensing and Chef Lisa Marie White of Marsh House and the Thompson Nashville—to create a menu that was completely us…an Asian-inspired feast! We’re taking edamame cups, bao buns, and a bibimbap station.
We divided the evening by the type of food being served - appetizers, small plates and salads, main stations, desserts and snacks, and late night munchies! Let’s just say there was no shortage of food and no one left hungry.
For us one of the highlights was a wall-length charcuterie board, complete with gluten-free crackers and a selection of goat cheeses! Note: the menu was designed to accommodate a variety of dietary sensitivities.
L.A. Jackson is beautifully designed and decorated. Honestly our dream house would be designed in the same vintage, tropical, industrial interior style that the bar and the entire Thompson Nashville is. SO GORGEOUS!
Because of this we really didn’t need to do much decor-wise. We printed a few photos from our wedding ceremony that we scattered around the venue, we arranged flowers in mason jars to put on tables and around the room, and I created welcome, timeline, bar signage.
Before we knew it, it was time for tosses! “Single Ladies” came on, the ladies gathered, I turned and tossed my bouquet backwards. It was caught by Haylie, LeBraun’s youngest brother’s girlfriend. Next “SONG” came on, the guys gathered, and LeBraun pulled off my garter (with his teeth!), turned and shot it backwards. It was caught by one of his oldest friends, Taylor. UPDATE: Both couples are now engaged and getting married in 2019 so I guess we’re pretty lucky!
The things that meant the most to us during our special days weren’t the traditional wedding elements like cake cutting or the bouquet toss, but having the people the meant the most celebrating with us and the unique touches we added to make the event ours.
One of the highlights of the night was having LeBraun’s maternal grandparents, Papaw and Nana, and my paternal grandmother, Grandma (clever, right?), celebrating with us at our reception. None of our grandparents were able to make the trip to Hawaii. Fortunately we were able to spend time with my paternal grandfather and material grandmother in Manitoba a few days before since neither were able to fly to Nashville. My grandpa and I even shared a special dance when I was there!
Having been in Nashville for 20 years and been together for 13 years, the majority of of our guests have known us both as individuals before we started dating and throughout the course of our relationship. It was definitely surreal to have so many circles of our lives colliding in one room. It was/is an amazing feeling to have such a fantastic group of people to call our friends—now family!
And while we definitely had our guests and their experience in mind when we were planning everything, we also wanted them to instantly know we had planned them as a reflection of us. The personal touches a couple adds to the day are what are most memorable. Planning these elements was easily the most fun part of planning.
For our Nashville reception we opted for signature his & hers drinks, a variety of non-traditional desserts, an Asian-inspired menu, clever favors, and even a vintage postcard guestbook for our love of travel and adventure.
Find out more about the ways we made our special day our own check out Adding Personal Touches to Our Wedding + Reception to find out what we did to make our wedding day unique and unforgettable to us!
Our wedding reception was everything we hoped it would be, and dancing, laughing + chatting the night away with all our people till the early morning was a complete dream. A HUGE thank you to all the people who helped bring this magical evening to life, everyone who came to support and celebrate with us, and of course our loving parents! It’s a night we will always remember (despite the fact that I was very hungover the next day :) You would think I would know better by now, but alas even after a huge grilled cheese sandwich at 2 a.m. the next day was not kind to me.
Planner // Ruby Bevington, Event Sales Manager at Thompson Nashville
Florals // Costco + Kroger; bouquet by our dear friend Carolyn Jones
Cakes/Desserts // Chef Lisa Marie White of Thompson Nashville | @pastrygirllisa
Photo Booth // Kain and Able Entertainment
Bride’s jewelry // Engagement ring - Lindell Jewelers in Brentwood, TN; Wedding band - Express Jewelers in Arlington, VA; Bracelet - Sassabella Boutique in Paia, HI; Opal Ring - Coober Pedy, South Australia
Hair & Makeup // Tiana Trotz Studios | @tianatrotz
Groom’s Formalwear // Custom Suit by Johnny Gregory Executive Apparel