Every wedding vendor team is created a little differently. In this series we explore how and why each couple selected the right wedding vendor team for their wedding day.
Although Ellen and Conor originally intended to get married about a year after their engagement at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April 2019, the pandemic ended up stretching their engagement to just shy of two years. The wedding date wasn’t the only thing that shifted—the location and guest count did too.
The first iteration of the Boston-based duo’s big day was slated for September 2020 in Washington, D.C. with a ceremony at the Church of the Epiphany and a second line parade to the reception at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, with 200 guests in attendance. But it became clear that a new plan was necessary. A new date was decided for April 2021, the guest count shrunk to 60, and Ellen’s parents’ backyard in Dallas, Texas, became the new setting. The location allowed for more flexibility in planning, but was also meaningful, as her parents had tied the knot at a backyard wedding as well.
Wedding Planner & Designer
When the couple originally inquired about their initial reception venue in D.C., they also reached out to Grit & Grace Inc. to plan and design it, using a mostly local vendor team. With the pivot to Dallas, the team’s role in planning the wedding was an invaluable one, as they then reached out to all of the vendors to see if they’d be available for the new date—halfway across the country.
“At the time, it felt important to support our local creatives, particularly after a year of dramatic disruption in their industry. Looking back now, we simply cannot imagine not having them there with us. Together, we built a colorful explosion of love, joy, and gratitude for the gift of reunion and reconnection.
We borrowed a lot of inspiration from the power of contrast, which led us to interlace bright color play against black and white. We also felt deeply inspired by the original setting of our wedding and consistently referenced the work of female artists like Georgia O’Keefe (colors, organic shapes) and Amy Sherald (color against black and white). Laura and team then ran with it, and were able to utilize the backyard of the home with its modern lines and lack of other competing decor to create a truly stunning day!” —Ellen, bride
Lisa Ziesing of Abby Jiu Photography had an attitude and presence that were a great fit for Ellen and Conor. Her appreciation for capturing moments with style and stealthiness were also major factors in their decision to hire her. And she was also ready to roll with the punches when the wedding plans shifted.
For a couple that loves jazz as well as major dance parties, a great band was extremely important. Laura suggested Sam Hill Entertainment, who offers several great options for talent. The new date created a schedule conflict for their original musicians, but a different band from the agency was secured—The After Party Experience, based out of Atlanta—who brought the perfect energy.
“The dance floor was lively and we all danced the night away after a year of dancing in kitchens. Favorite moments included a conga line to the tune of ‘Love Train’ and an incredible close-out rendition of Tina Turner’s ‘Proud Mary.’” —Ellen, bride
Another early vendor to join Ellen and Conor’s dream team was Sophie Felts of Sophie Felts Floral Design. Her color-blocking style and artful use of unique elements touched on the color-loving couple’s appreciation for creative design and modern art. Once the plans shifted to a backyard fête, the direction did too, focusing more on the backdrop of the property and the home’s architecture, but still using flowers in a unique and joyful way.
“Originally, the wedding was supposed to be held in a grand museum, and though the heart of the first design is touched on in the final product, we all were really excited about making this intimate at-home modern rainbow come alive. I'll never forget FaceTiming Sophie and her team from Texas just a couple months before the wedding with ideas for the arch on the doors of the back of the house and being given full trust to design those long tables in their backyard. Sophie's team absolutely nailed this quirky wow reception space. Traveling to Texas with a team and sourcing design space, equipment, floral and more was a big ask. They more than delivered!” —Laura Ritchie, planner/designer
During the site visit three months before the wedding, Laura was inspired by the modern art in the home and decided to change course and amp up the color palette. She sketched out a new plan—that of an alternating rainbow of colors that would make a major impact on the reception design. She then asked Something Vintage (who was previously on board for some specialty pieces for the D.C. fête and were happy to travel to Dallas) if they could make all the tableware in the new color palette in time. They could and they did. Social Supply Design & Décor was already tasked with the escort wall and tables, and even agreed to drive from the DC-area with all of Something Vintage's tableware to Dallas and execute setup! And glassware, napkins, and chairs from Posh Couture Rentals rounded it all out.
“The zebra rainbow of colors was a stroke of imagination just a couple months prior to execution. We like to call the patterning of the guest tables colorways zebra stripes. Not perfect, but perfectly balanced. There was no repeating or exact ombre which made the back and forth of the four place-settings entertaining. We decided on four specific colors from Something Vintage's custom ceramic collection that we knew would be available and/or custom made on time for the wedding. We didn’t want a perfect rainbow so leaving out specific colors like orange and purple really let this design stand strong but not be so literal. Mixing the cadence of the pattern of the colors also added dimension and further encouraged that it wasn't supposed to be a perfect rainbow.” —Laura Ritchie, planner/designer
“Another one of Laura’s genius ideas with flawless execution by the team at Social Supply was the wall display originally designed for our museum wedding. The museum had no wall-space to offer, so we brought our own! As we pivoted to Dallas, the wall came with us, serving as an elegant way to cover up an outdoor grill. Sophie Felts took it to the next level, by filling the notches with color-pops of happy blooms to accompany the seating cards.” —Ellen, bride
Ellen and Conor love all things stationery-related: from the vast options of materials, fonts, and layouts to grammar and punctuation. Underwood Letterpress’ quality of product and panache matched the understated sophistication the creative couple was after. The arches and use of black, white, and a soft sandy hue were kept to temper the other colors in use on the day.
While the new plan for a wedding in Texas involved trying to keep the majority of the vendors on board, one vendor who needed to be revisited was the caterer. So they searched locally for a new catering partner to prepare the dinner menu, and found that in Vestals Catering. The meal began with individual cheese and charcuterie boards (a crowd pleaser), was followed by an arugula salad, spring vegetable ravioli, and braised beef short rib, and culminated in a vanilla crême brûlée topped with fresh berries.
“Going back to our focus on the guest experience, we did think about how a smaller backyard wedding might need to be different from a large party hosted in a traditional venue. As a result, we decided to spend a bit more time thinking about the food and dinner as a focal point. We hired Vestals Catering out of Dallas and they prepared a four-course meal, complete with wine pairings representing places we love. Amongst the candle-light as dusk set in, Vestals helped bring a beautiful family dinner vision to life.” —Ellen, bride
Wedding Hair & Makeup
Another vendor who had to be rebooked was the glam team, as the original team was unable to travel. Q Makeup + Hair Artistry was not only available, but also well-versed in the “naturally best self” look Ellen was after for herself and her bridesmaids, who wore mismatched dresses in hunter green, navy blue, and terracotta.
Wedding Ceremony Music, Lighting & Dance Floor
Serenata Strings came in to play classics during the ceremony (like Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks”) and after cocktail hour positioned themselves by the bridge over the creek to lure guests over to the reception when it was time for dinner.
Lastly, with the pool screaming to be the dancefloor, a local production company was a necessity. In Depth Events Inc. came in to create a ceremony stage that doubled as a frosted dance floor, making it not only functional but beautiful too.