Tell me a little about yourself:

First and foremost — I am a Christian, wife and mother. By vocation, I plan & design gorgeous Southern weddings! I love barre and hot yoga, throwing parties is my love language, and Charleston, South Carolina is my favorite place in the world. I’m a born & bred Nashville native (one of the few) and love living near family, especially since the birth of my daughter Lilly Beth this past April. Entertaining is one of my favorite things in the whole world, so planning weddings is a natural development from that passion for good ole Southern hospitality.

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Tell me about how you fell in love with wedding planning:

I grew up hosting elaborately themed birthday parties every summer. They got to be a little ridiculous (in the best way) — my best friend and I deconstructed her family’s Christmas trees and hung them from the rafters of my parents’ basement for a bring-the-outdoors-in garden party one year, and we were putting together draping installations with beaucoups of white plastic sheeting for a Greek toga party the next. Our senior year of high school, we participated in a regional Economics competition held at a luxury hotel in Chicago. We managed to crash a few wedding receptions held in the hotel’s ballrooms — I was absolutely mesmerized by the candlelit tablescapes and intricate floral centerpieces and chandeliers! It introduced me a whole new dimension of event planning, PLUS married my ultra-romantic side (that values lifelong marriages) with my love of parties. It upped the ante in my own entertaining exploits and showed me what was out there in the world.

What should a newly engaged couples’ first steps be?

Hire a professional planner and think hard about your priorities. Selecting your venue, dress, & photographer tend to be the next most important planning tasks (but not necessarily in that order). And if you’re planning a wedding in Nashville, book your hotel room blocks ASAP because they always run out fast!

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Top 3 reasons to hire a wedding planner?

  • Hiring a wedding planner dramatically impacts your experience as a bride on the wedding day. Do you want to remember the most important party of your life as one where you felt harried and stressed and had to be responsible for everything? As much as I love hosting my own events, I knew firsthand that I wanted to be strictly the guest of honor at my own wedding. It’s no fun to be receiving vendors and directing setup and showing guests a good time when you’re the BRIDE. Also — who can remember all the tiny details when you’re experiencing a life-altering moment surrounded by the most important people in your life?!  Your attention needs to be focused on the marriage, not the placement of Table #14.
  • A lot of people don’t realize how much of a full-time job it is to plan an elaborate dinner party for 200 until they start making wedding decisions and suddenly get super stressed out and overwhelmed by the magnitude of decisions to be made. It’s a lot of responsibility! And when you’re unfamiliar with the process, it’s very intimidating. We hire experts to help with important things we don’t know how to do. This is one of those important things.
  • It’s not just about you (as the bride & groom). It’s very difficult to place the weight of responsibility on your Mom, your Maid of Honor, your friend who throws great cocktail parties, etc. Someone will end up doing all the logistical work, even if you’re laid-back. Extra bonus: Your planner will also serve as a mediator through several tricky situations that inevitably will arise. It’s so nice to have a neutral third-party with you & your fiancé’s best interests at heart!

What inspires you?

The ocean, Charleston, being outdoors, taking walks, attending events (sometimes you need to experience things as a guest to grasp the big-picture), children and their untempered joy.

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From our shoot together in Charleston!

Favorite advice you like to give couples when planning their wedding?

Do what you want, within reason. Ultimately, you & your betrothed are the guests of honor, but take your guests’ needs and experience into consideration as well. Your wedding does not have to fit some cookie-cutter mold. Also — do everything in your power to ensure a doggy-bag of reserved food & wedding cake makes its way to your getaway vehicle; otherwise you’ll be eating a $24 room service chicken sandwich at midnight and regretting that you didn’t get but one bite of cake at the reception. AND, hire a videographer. It’s the most comprehensive way to re-live your wedding after the day is over! (You can see what you’re smiling about in that favorite photo from your ceremony. You can see your mom tearing up over your Father/Daughter dance, and see the anticipation in everyone’s faces leading up to the church doors opening.) It goes so fast!

What is your specialty?

My specialty is for planning classic, lovely Southern weddings for local & destination brides, primarily in Nashville. My brides tend to be Southern belles (by heritage or honorary), madly in love with their grooms, are sweet and laid-back but decisive, very invested in the day and want to give guests a great party, have moderately-involved mothers, prioritize flowers and good photography, care about honoring their families and faith, and looooove to dance all night long. Their personal style tends to be classic and polished but fun.

How would you describe your style?

Classic, a good dose of preppy, a nod to nautical, Southern, pretty traditional, timeless, and fun. I love bright colors and patterns (ahem, everything Lilly Pulitzer) but I’m also verrrrry into muted neutrals. My approach is timeless > trendy,  what you love > everything else.

www.amynicolephoto.com/blog

Favorite tips in setting a budget?

PRIORITIZE! What’s important to you? What’s not important? What things are high-impact in your and your guests’ experience? (What will they see, taste, hear, take notice of? What will more likely blend into the woodwork?) There are no hard and fast rules, but you have to be realistic too.

Favorite advice you received when planning your wedding?

On the wedding day, take several moments to take everything in. Notice the tables. Smell the flowers. Eat a whole slice of scrumptious cake. Look around you during the ceremony to see everyone you love there together, on your behalf. Mean your vows!

www.amynicolephoto.com/blogFavorite marriage advice?

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord. … Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…. Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5 : 22 – 33 // Also, never take your ability to have children or your health for granted. Nothing is guaranteed to us. Get your priorities in line today and make decisions accordingly. Life is fleeting. Appreciate all of it. Respect it.

Anything else you’d want to share with couples?

If planning gets you down (even the most laid-back bride with the best planner in the world can get stressed from time to time), just remember the honeymoon lasts a whole lot longer than the wedding day itself. :)