Thursday, October 20, 2016

Who We Are: Professionals

Hello blog world! Leah here again to chime in on the “Who We Are” series.  We’ve heard about how we’re moms and wives (or soon to be wives – June 9th, 2017 can’t get here fast enough for me!), and how we’re creative and dedicated.

What I want to talk about is professionalism.

I’m not just talking about how we are all professionals, although that is extremely true (we have about a lifetime of experience combined between all of us). I’m also talking about the level of professionalism that we bring to each and every event, each meeting, etc.

I think it’s important to start out by stating what the world “professionalism” means. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.”  Ok great, but what exactly are those attributes that we all have?

For one we have specialized knowledge. As I mentioned before, most of us have been in the events and wedding industry for a long time (don’t mean to age us, ladies, but we have).  We have seen it all and know how to handle every situation that is thrown our way with confidence and grace.  

We are also competent. Professionalism means getting the job done and being reliable. If a circumstance arises that goes against what has been planned then we do everything we can to make the situation right. Professionals don’t make excuses, but focus on finding solutions.

Professionals also exhibit qualities of honesty and integrity.  We always keep our word and are trusted vendors in the industry.  Values are never compromised and we will do the right thing, even if it’s the harder thing.

Lastly, we are accountable. You and your wedding day are our top priority, and you can trust in us that we will deliver exactly what we have promised (and sometimes more).  This accountability is closely tied to honesty and integrity, and it’s a vital element of professionalism.

Being a professional and having professionalism are separate but largely intertwined. We are lucky enough to say that we have an amazing group of women who exhibit the above characteristics all day, every day. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bradford Bride: Labor Day Love!

This week we are traveling back in time to Labor Day weekend and more importantly Anna and Mark's charming wedding! Fun fact: Anna herself is a wedding photographer out of Wilmington, NC-So...there were big shoes to fill for Amber from Six Foot Photography to produce amazing wedding photos! & Brace yourselves because these photos are absolutely stunning and we cannot wait to share them with you...

But first, let's look into the small details of this wedding that really made the day so special and one to remember! Before getting pampered with hair and makeup, the bride and her lovely bridesmaids enjoyed some time relaxing and treating themselves to fruity mimosas! We absolutely adore the matching floral robes! And even more adorable is the bride with her two little flower girls...& yes- they are twins!

While the bride and her maids were busy getting ready, the groom and his gang were having a little fun of their own! As a gift to all of his groomsmen, Mark gave each one a pair of fun and quirky dress socks! And man, do these guys know how to show-off these socks! We also loved the classy and chic look of their grey suits!

A guest book is a great way to look back and remember the people you shared a special time with on your wedding day! Traditionally, couples display a book at a station where guests can sign-in and leave personal notes! And while we think traditional guest books are great, Anna and Mark decided to add a creative spin to their guest sign-in! The wood-paneled NC outline really added a personal touch for the couple and was a unique way to remember their special day!

The bouquet toss is a time-honored tradition at many weddings! However, the tradition has more recently fallen out of favor with brides who are not enthusiastic about having their single bridesmaids and girlfriends rush the dance floor in hopes they will catch the bouquet and be the next-in-line to wed! But...Anna's enthusiasm certainly came out as she tossed back her bouquet to a hopeful single lady! It is hard not to get happy by looking at her contagious smile!

The infamous sparkler-send off is a very popular wedding trend! Not only does it allow guests to be involved in the exit of the bride & groom, but it puts them in the spotlight in a super fun way! We could not help but share this super sweet picture of Anna and Mark kissing under the lights. What a perfect way to top-off the end of the night!

& Now is the time you have all been waiting for...
These are truly some of the sweetest and most adoring photos we have seen taken here at The Bradford. Not only are they super fun and creative, but they emphasize the love this couple shares for one another in such a perfect way! 


Photography- Six Foot Photography, Amber Beasley
Planner- Jessica King with Happily Ever After Events
Catering- Rocky Top Catering
Specialty Rentals- Greenhouse Picker Sisters
Venue- The Bradford

Monday, October 17, 2016

Who We Are: Creativity

As the new design manager for Bushel and Peck Designs, I (Julie) cannot be more thrilled to chime in on our "Who We Are" series and talk about one of my favorite topics: Creativity.  Creativity is defined as "the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods or interpretations".  I wanted to share this somewhat lengthy definition because I think it is a perfect description of what we are working to do every single day at B&P Designs.  I personally try to push brides away from the typical wedding traditions and ideas and have them tell me what they really want to share with everyone on their big day.  Design is an often overlooked form of communication,  and a truly creative wedding design will communicate to guests who the bride and groom are and what makes them and their relationship so special and unique. At B&P Designs we love working alongside a couple to create a design that goes beyond a few "pretty centerpieces" to actually communicate who they really are.  Our designs are personal and innovative... and still pretty ;)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Who We Are: Wives

I'm excited to chime in on our "Who We Are" series about one of my favorite topics - marriage!  Obviously our team wouldn't be in this profession if we weren't passionate about our relationships and marriages.  Almost all of us are married - with one more team wedding next year!

I know personally I always dreamed of and talked about my future husband, even before I met him.  We were thrilled to have a sweet (and hot!) summer wedding, at a gorgeous venue and we were surrounded by so many of our friends and family. I absolutely love being a wife - and am crazy about my husband of 8 years.  Words can't express how much my marriage has changed me and encourages me - my husband is my biggest fan and strongest encourager.  He makes me a better me.  All of us on our team are supported by some really incredible men - guys who are hard working, motivated, handsome, and giving.

Obviously our working hours take up many weekends, and we often miss important family/friend events to spend time making magic happen for our clients' most special day.  We can't shout out enough to our husbands who sacrifice weekend time with us, take the kids for 12+ hours in a day and treat them to all sorts of goodies while we are away, and support our dream of making marriages happen one wedding day at a time!

We all believe that our marriages really are what we put into them, and that marriage isn't an everyday fairy tale, but takes so much hard work and compromise.  We've seen over time that the hardest times in our marriages have strengthened us, and that all the hard work we've put in has been worth it and has had rich rewards.  While it may be the hardest relationship we're in, it's also the best relationship we all enjoy.

We love that we get to support and encourage other new marriages for our job right from day one!  Here's to forever!


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bradford Bride: Vintage Class From the Past

We wanted to take a look back in time at one of our beautiful Bradford weddings! Jessica and Matt's special day was actually featured on The Perfect Palette, & we thought it would be nice to take a glimpse back at this classic and preppy wedding! The event was very vintage with a lovely taste in design, and had several elements we just adored...

Such as the super classy and comfortable lounge set-up! With the elegant navy chairs and timeless white tables courtesy of Greenhouse Picker Sisters, guests were provided with an area to make them feel like royalty and take a relaxing break at the same time! 

The vintage style chest (which is available on-site here at The Bradford!) was used to display family photographs of the generations of happily married couples--such a sweet and personal touch! 

And we cannot forget to mention the super classy and chic design of guest tables! The beautifully patterned navy linens really added a unique style to the event and made for some eye-catching photos! & just look at how perfectly the chiavari chairs lent into the vintage look of the event...

The interior turned out stunning and provided a great place to celebrate the new couple in style! With the glowing candles displayed on the mantle to the gorgeous floral arrangements throughout the house, this classy occasion was truly sensational! 

No wedding is complete without some form of dessert--and this creative display seriously "took the cake" for one of the best we have seen here at The Bradford. And speaking of grand and downright delicious does this cake by Cake-A-Licious look! 

In terms of color scheme for this vintage wedding, we loved the navy blue bridesmaid dresses! The pops of ivory, blush, white, and silver within the floral arrangements and bridal bouquets brought even more subtle elements of color! And see for yourself just how perfectly the neutral grays from the grooms tuxedos blended with everything...

The love this couple shares for one another is just amazing! Through these breath-taking photos, their love becomes really evident and we can see just how perfect Jessica + Matt are together!  

For More Photos of Jessica + Matt's Wedding...

Photography: Caroline Lima Photography
Planner: A Southern Soiree
Specialty Rentals: Greenhouse Picker Sisters
Florist: Springwell Gardens
Cake: Cake-a-licious

Monday, October 10, 2016

Real Wedding: Hurricane Matthew Edition

This is totally the motto of my life and of our company. As we all know Hurricane Matthew blew in on Saturday and truly took us by surprise. We knew it was coming - but had no idea the damage and flooding that was going to come with it. I am not gonna lie- Saturday was tough. I think I said this quote 100 times. I was here at The Bradford planning Alannah and Gabe's wedding and Courtney was in Raleigh planning Ashley and Lee's wedding.

Ashley and Lee had planned a beautiful backyard wedding at the home they had just moved in to. Early in the week they made the executive decision to have it moved to an indoor location. A full day of calling and a quick venue trip had them at Art Space in downtown Raleigh. The time had to change slightly due to it being open to the public, but Courtney handled it all well moving all the vendors, adding rentals needed, changing shuttle routes and times, and making sure all the guests had what they needed and were informed.

Alannah and Gabe had planned on having everything outside under the market lights. Early on in the week we saw the hurricane and consulted the tent company about what winds it can withstand. The max they felt comfortable with was 40mph. At the beginning of the week we were looking like between 50-80. We made a Rain plan with sustainable winds, and a hurricane plan. We flirted with the idea of moving it to Friday, but our caterer was not able. We called every vendor, every day to keep them updated on the plans. On Thursday Matthew had shifted enough for the expected winds to go down to 15/18mph with 25mph gusts. We made the call on the tent- and had it installed Friday afternoon. With a major sidewall snafu - the clear walls on reserve were unusable as they were damaged (unknown to the company until Thursday afternoon) - I went on the hunt and found enough clear walls (driving to Wilson!) to tent the sides we needed. We had a plan, we were good to go. We all went to bed Friday ready for what looked like a storm, but not a hurricane.

 At 1:30am on Saturday morning - I woke up to wind hitting our house and quickly got online. Matthew had shifted. Rain fall was expected to be about 10-15 inches here and I realized that not only did the projected wind gusts change from 20mph to 55mph - but we had the tent up. The tent can not withstand it. I stayed awake all night thinking through how to make this happen. Luckily we had a "hurricane" plan in place, but the logistics were so much more complicated. Mid-way through the morning we had to make the call that the tent is just not safe. We just had to pray that it would not 1. blow away or 2. break a window. Courtney stayed a little later to help make some decisions, the tent company came back to reinforce it (they couldn't take it down), and we all had a pow-wow about was safe for guests. We had two back up generators I procured earlier in the week, and were just praying we didn't lose power. It was a little scary watching that tent flex and move so much. Bailey and I would just grab the other's hand and squeeze it when those big gusts came through praying that it would be fine.

In the meantime - Courtney was driving to Raleigh. It was brutal. Trees were down, water was just gushing everywhere. She drove at a snail's pace to get there. There was multiple times of minor hydroplaning and I think she said when she got there she was just a bit shaky and needed a few minutes to collect herself before she assessed what was needed. Already the parking lot was 3/4 up her (minivan) tire. The lights were starting to flicker. They hunkered down and made some plans for the worst possible scenarios. The bride's house lost power and she got a call that the caterer's kitchen was flooded, Wake Forest Road was flooded, and they weren't sure they could make it.

On our end, I got a call that a few roads were closed leading to US1, but US1 was fine. A few vendors called and said they were coming - but were moving slow. Everyone got there safe and sound. We had to make quick decisions on catering since this was a plated meal and they needed space. The lights flickered a few times and no one was allowed to say "at least we still have power!" as they would jinx it. We made the decision to have ceremony in ballroom, cocktail hour in the house, flip the ballroom for dinner, with few tables in the house (had to move everyone in the ballroom for announcing and blessing and flip the house in a record 15 minutes), use the dining room for caterer prep, clear a few tables after dinner for dancing, clear the prep space for seating since people lost their tables, and set up dessert and coffee in the house. We never stopped moving furniture, tables, and chairs. The Bradford staff was drenched valeting cars, tightening tent straps, moving tables and chairs, and helping get trash out. We had minor issues with water coming into the ballroom as the gust would cause waterfalls down the side of the tent into the room. We used every towel that The Bradford, and we personally owned (the joys of living next door!) and got it manageable. The food truck for late night snacks showed up, and every vendor got there and delivered what they were suppose to deliver.

Courtney had to delay dinner an hour to get the caterer there and set up and had to figure out how to get coffee for 100. The percolators they had rented had to be picked up and it wasn't possible in the storm. They walked to Raleigh Times and got enough for everyone. The wind died down, the rain slowed, and it was enough to keep power on, and shuttles running. They still had flickers, but everyone got there safe and sound and the guests had a blast!

The hardest part was just being in your bride's shoes. You know that this was not the day they had imagined and you so desperately wanted to make it perfect for them. Even if it means getting extra gas for back up generators in the literally pouring and flooding rains, or feeling like you could float away driving to your event. You will literally do anything to make it right. I so wanted to tell her - it's fine! The tent will be fine! We can just go as we planned! But I couldn't. I had to be calm, but realistic. I never lead my bride with false hope- giving her the needed information- but I also never panicked in front of her or family. There were times on the inside when I felt very anxious. The reality that your decisions are going to affect 120 people and their safety is a little much at times. We had to be smart, not rash, optimistic, but realistic at the same time. The logistics of the day changed so much and there was so much to account for. There were times we were in the middle of a conversation and I had to say -"You know what, I am not 100% sure on the logistics of this, but we can figure it out, give me a second." Then I would go to my team - layout the problem and possible solutions. Everyone piped in considering the guests' comfort, the bride's wants, and the vendor's needs. We then made the decision that made the most sense and informed all parties. It was mentally exhausting, but it felt so good to make decisions and in the end see that it was the right one.

Through all of this - keeping a calm presence, was key. There were times I felt panicky. There were times (going to gas and sand bags) that I had to have a moment. But in the end I really did have confidence in my team and I knew that we would get through it together. Courtney said that when she got to Art Space, she had to just let herself stop shaking from the fearful drive and then kick it into gear. She had to stay calm, collected, and clear headed to make the best decisions for her client. She too had a stellar team that supported her, brainstormed with her, and helped her get a space flipped with no caterer, and keep everyone happy and none the wiser until they could show up.

It took us all day yesterday to recover from the most massive "wedding hangover" (industry peeps you know what this is!) I've ever had. But I woke up to a Thank You e-mail from my bride, texts from vendors saying how awesome we were, and I knew that it was all worth it. In the end- we wanted our brides to say their day was maybe not how they pictured it, but it was still perfect.

We understand that a year+ had gone into this day. THOUSANDS of dollars have been spent. And most of all- it is a dream these couples have had for a very long time. I am so proud of our brides. I think what I love the most is the opportunity to see them start a life together and truly- who can imagine starting a marriage in a hurricane! They handled it beautifully. They were positive, flexible, and still felt free to express sadness and disappointment at times. I never expect on a day like Saturday for the bride to be like "it's perfect, I am fine, everything is fine!" They are real people, and sometimes they need a moment! Whether that is to grieve their vision of their day, or just to let out the frustrations of a week on pins and needles - it's ok! The important thing is that it doesn't ruin the day. And both of our brides didn't let this ruin their day. They still married the man they have loved for years. They still laughed, cried happy tears, and danced their hearts out. They were also some of the most appreciative, gracious, and kind people we have worked with.

Through it all- our vendors rocked it out. My food truck showed up - which was shocking due to the road conditions - and kept me very informed. My cake, flowers, photo booth, DJ, rentals, caterer all came. A little wet- but happy. On Courtney's end, the caterer with the flooded kitchen and flooded road figured out how to get there. Everyone knew we were in a hurricane and some not even sure if they could drive back home. But they came. They worked their tails off. We all pitched in and filled in the gaps. Sometimes we were bussing, sometimes we were pouring champagne, and sometimes we were clearing out trash. We were in it together- and we were going to make it work.

I am so grateful that I get to work in an industry that when I say "So- we have this and this, but we still need to figure out how to do that-" Everyone has the attitude that "It's Figureoutable! We can do this!" So thank you to every vendor that came, that worked, and that made this all happen for our clients.  A really special shout out to our team: Bailey (and her boys!), Whitney, Sarah, Leah, and Julie - you all were calm when maybe we weren't, wise in your advice, and never stopped moving all night. I so appreciate the constant encouragement that we were doing a good job, and even the forced feeding of dinner - thank you. I can't say enough how unbelievably grateful I am for you guys. But most importantly- thank you to our brides, their families, and their guests. Thank you for not freaking out, for trusting us, and for allowing us to be a part of what is sure to be one of the most memorable day of all our lives!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Bradford Bride: fa, fa, fa, FALLing in love

& just like that...Summer fell into Fall

Although Summer is no longer, we are so thrilled for the crisp airs of Fall! And to kick off the 2016 Autumn season, we could not help but take a look back in time at one of our all time favorites! This week, we feature Caroline + Sean's rich-colored, wooded wedding! This wedding was super special for everyone involved, because Caroline actually worked at The Bradford! Not only was this couple near and dear to those at the venue, but to planners Courtney & Dana as well! 

We at The Bradford cannot wait for the festival of Fall colors this season, and we love the rich, yet vibrant color scheme we see from Caroline's big day! From the deep red bridesmaid dresses to the subtle pops of pink and purple within the bouquets, the shades of Autumn were truly delightful! 

In addition to the beautiful mosaic of color, we fell in love with the overall decor of the event! Caroline chose to feature both farm tables and beautifully designed round tops for guest seating. Adorned with gold plates, eye-striking centerpieces, and rustic wooden plate chargers, this design made for one enchanting atmosphere! 

While there are numerous spots at The Bradford to capture photos of the bride & groom on their special day, the hidden spot just behind the tree-line is a game changer! Caroline took advantage of the spectacular sights of dense wooded area, and it was hard not to fall in love with how the pictures came out! Just take a look for yourself at how flawless and naturally beautiful these wooded background photos are...

We certainly are beyond excited for many more weddings this Fall season & cannot wait to see how our upcoming brides will transform The Bradford into their own! Stay tuned because we will back to keep you posted--but, in the mean time, keep warm, sip on the wonderful flavors of pumpkin spice, and enjoy the colorful days of Autumn! 

For more photos of Caroline + Sean's wedding, visit:


Photos- Blest Studios
Venue- The Bradford
Planner- C&D Events
Design- Bushel and Peck
Specialty Rentals- Greenhouse Picker Sisters