It’s demanded that wedding decor be a reflection of the couple’s tastes. Tom leans towards the simple and fresh while I typically fall face-first into the OMG (Oh My Gross) category. My personal taste tends to come across like one of those abstract splatter paintings. Others want to like. They squint, stare, and try to appreciate the weirdness of it. But at gallery’s close, most can’t quite tell if they’re staring at a painting or a crime scene. Yes, that’s about right. My stylish sense makes you want to call the police and holler “Homicide!”.
So when the task of styling our budget wedding came to hand, I quickly dumped that job on you guys. Readers’ tips and votes selected quirky centerpieces and the whimsical color scheme, bridal style and everything in between. And before I knew it, I moved inspired by your creativity. I lost my mind and called myself a crafter. I bought fabric and things that come by the yard, learned what third-degree glue burns feel like, and even enlisted the help of my sweet friend’s brood of homeschooled boys to ace cross-stitching. Your big ideas pushed open the floodgates and out poured more and more concepts, each overflowing from the last. Just weeks into the planning process and I began to feel at ease. Perhaps, just this once and with your help, I’d pull off a stylish something that didn’t make the public cringe.
Bloomin’ Boots painted blue and red: Check
Vinyl Records thrifted & borrowed from dad: Check
Acoustic Guitar: Check
Giant Ribbon Wall all adorned with burlap and plaid and polka dots: Check
Hand-made coloring books: Check
Burlap & Doily pillows stitched by mom: Check
One million (or 15) cross-stitch hoops: Check
Mini clothespins: Check
Signs painted & printed by sister: Check
Paper straws: Check
Love notes from blogging buddies: Check
Custom Concert Poster by Brittney Keelor-Holzer: Check
Box(es) of wine: CHECK!
As I shoved the last box of wedding beauty into the trunk, I worried that- despite your best efforts to tame my tacky- I’d managed to maim your perfectly pretty plans. Staring at a car crammed full of crazy, I doubted that I’d done you proud. I drove through city traffic wondering if maybe a stark, bare venue was really such a bad idea. Stopped at red lights and making illegal U-turns I did the math and determined that maybe 21 hours before the wedding was enough time to start from decorative scratch. When I arrived at my destination, the hip Mercy Lounge & Cannery Ballroom, I face-palmed myself for all the pointless fretting. I had Deanna, of course, and she fixes all things.
Deanna Bruton is Nashville’s go-to girl for one-of-a-kind event design. From an upscale, carnival-themed fete to a sultry Moroccan-tinged event, she might just be the one person who can totally “get” any concept you through her way. She won me over immediately when, as the then Events Director for our rooftop venue, Aerial, she immediately looked at our teeny budget and confidently said “No problem!”. Until that point, I’d met a whole host of professionals focused on reminding me how a decent wedding would cost at least four times what we had to spend. These were the same folks who bit their lips when I mentioned your very bloggy selections for color scheme and cowboy boot centerpieces and tried feverishly to just get me to commit to something respectable like beige… or pearls with beige… or dark beige and light beige accented with pearls. Deanna was a breath of fresh, funky air, and instantly latched on to this wacky idea of a half-part retro, half-part modern, whole-part blogger-planned party. We dove right in to cost-effective and crafty decor plans, and by the time our first meeting came to a close, I was (for the first time) excited for what this crazy artistic lady could bring to our already crazy wedding.
And then the world ended. Well, close enough. Months away from the little Big Day, Deanna called with some news. The kind of news that made me want to take her out for a celebratory cocktail and then sneak into the bathroom to cry into the toilet. Our beloved Aerial staffer wouldn’t be with Aerial anymore. She was on to bigger things, planning and executing huge events for one of Music City’s most in-demand music and event spaces, The Cannery Ballroom & Mercy Lounge. I was happy for her… and horrified of what our wedding might look like without the creativity of her artful eye.
Of course she didn’t disappoint. Otherwise this post would be called Deanna Ruined My Life & Other Such Melodramatic Meltdowns. Despite her new position, hectic schedule, and the total lack of obligation to me and Tom, Deanna once again impressed us when she decided to stay on board and help bring your bloggy wedding designs to life. Also she did this for dangerously close to zero dollars. Also she had another event the same day as our wedding. Also she might just be a floral-tape wielding super hero.
Upon looking in my trunk, a heap of patriotic-colored mess, it was Deanna’s positive attitude that once again assured me everything would be fine. “Oh! I love it. Love it. It’s like retro, rockabilly, hipster with a touch of granny chic,” she didn’t miss a beat. I honestly had no clue which direction all of these crafts and props were going, but she did. And then, in the most shocking event of my life, Deanna took all of those decorations and uttered words I never thought I’d hear. She told me she had it handled. She told me to go relax. I drooled a little, not sure if I knew how to, and- as most brides on a budget know- fully expecting to be the girl in my wedding gown climbing step ladders to hang lights and sticking around after the party to haul out the trash. This, taking the load completely off my shoulders, was one of the best wedding gifts I received.
So, I sat, relaxing, eating donuts, and waiting with anticipation to see how Deanna, her assistants from Cannery, and Aerial staffers would transform the bare space. Before I walked down the aisle, I got a chance to peek around, and I couldn’t believe the vision they were able to create. It was perfectly hip and vintage and quirky and playful and somehow sophisticated and the exactly right nod to music in Music City.
Deanna & crew brought in tons of mercury glass, blue mason jars, and not-too-shabby shabby chic knick knacks to give the space the eclectic southern feel we were looking for. She hand-picked flowers mixing wild flowers with airy baby’s breath, even snipping some gorgeous red poppies from her own backyard. Using old-school, southern items in a fresh, new way, the team turned cowboy boots and acoustic guitars into vases and mason jars into shimmery candle holders. Lace overlays created a cool, sheer texture on top of the tables, and (when I remembered that I’d forgotten to remember something for the ceremony altar) Deanna created a cool lace curtain on an old section of a wrought-iron gate. The kid’s table (aptly holding a “Young’uns” sign) was one of my favorite nooks of the reception space. We turned several family photos into black & white coloring book pages, found some more fun prints on-line (a cartoon dinosaur/ High-Five-O-Saurus, a LOVE maze, and a wedding crossword puzzle), printed them on thick cardstock and tied them with ribbon left-overs from the giant ribbon wall. The younger kids loved having their very own space, and I felt a little less bad about making my toddler sit through a sappy ceremony while wearing red shoes. Some big items that Deanna brought in were the awesome cube shelving unit placed in front of the 10-foot ribbon wall. It gave us plenty of room to display some hand-made cross-stitch hoops and personal baubles. Another awesome touch was her set up for the Sweetheart Table. Big, beautiful, and super comfortable vintage-style chairs were the perfect place to lounge with the new husband. Aerial provided plush, white sectionals for guests’ to get their lounge on, too. My mom sewed beautiful burlap pillows and stitched old lace doilies to each one to bring a little retro-southern feel to the über sleek furniture. Small glass vases were staggered at varying heights and stocked with different floral and fillers so no two tables were the same. Bright pops of ice blue and apple red were offset by using a calmer shade of light gray for some table linens and lace runners (another genius call by Deanna). And my little sister’s crafty friend, Mrs. Brittney Keelor-Holzer, created the coolest custom concert poster which doubled as a helpful directional sign (placed outside the venue before the wedding to help guests find us) and a funky decor focal point by the checkered dance floor during the reception. And out of all of this, all of this, all I had to do was sit back and eat a donut.
Looking back on the photos and talking with guests, Deanna took my jumbled chaos of hillbilly trinkets and red,white, and blue streamers and managed to “get” yet another out-of-the-box style. It was interesting, the kind of place we all wanted to explore and see every nook and lace-covered cranny. It was vibrant and fun, just colorful enough to make us want to laugh and dance, and somehow still elegant, a reminder that this was no 8-year-old’s birthday party. Now relaxing and snacking on some jelly filled goodness months after the day, I still know one thing for certain:
Deanna wins details.
*Click the photos to enlarge & see all the detailed details.
** Say hey girl hey to Deanna HERE.
***To check out Mercy Lounge & The Cannery Ballroom head over HERE.
****Go get yourself a donut. This was a long post. Go on. You earned it.