Real Wedding Inspiration Archive

Oh, Hello!

Hi friends! I hope you’ve been having a beautiful and eventful summer so far. I type this little blog post from the comfort of a king sized bed in the middle of Seattle, almost a dozen hotel ice buckets surrounding me, filled with fresh flowers. This summer has been an absolute whirlwind of busyness but it’s been a good busyness. A filled to the brim type of hustle that has enlightened me in more ways than I could ever imagine. The rest of my summer is filled with three more incredible events, some big editorial projects, a few speaking engagements, much needed time away with Andrew, and of course lots of fun little surprises tucked in a long the way. But first, I wanted to check in and say hello and let you know there are a few posts coming soon to the blog including a special giveaway in the next few weeks (and the full post from Ellen and Pat’s Grand Rapids downtown market wedding coming soon). Remember to make a little time for yourself this summer to just relax and be present in all that’s going on around you.

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I just adore this photo of Ellen and Pat from their May 2nd wedding captured perfectly by Bradley James Photography. Guys, I loved this wedding and the simplicity behind planning, designing and executing it all in less than 12 weeks. I think you’ll love it as much as I do when I share the entire event. Happy Friday, friends xoxo

Making Things Happen Recap Spring 2014

Last month I had the pleasure of travelling to North Carolina to be a part of my third Making Things Happen intensive (and my second as a guest speaker). Being a part of this amazing community for over a year and a half now, and having the chance to experience it all in different capacities has been life changing and good for my soul. Like really good for my heart. So often I’m asked what the intensive is really all about and what to expect. While it’s hard to fully comprehend the magic that happens in the group, I’m going to give it a go and simplify my thoughts below for you.

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Making Things Happen is about community. Community is defined as, ‘a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.’ How incredible and fitting is that for an endeavor like Making Things Happen? Considering the amount of ways we connect with one another in our digital age, and how easy it is to confuse acquaintances with friends, I know I’ve really struggled with identifying my true fiends from just those I ‘know’ over the years of my adulthood. And this isn’t meant to sound negative or mean. It’s a hard thing to just type out here to you. It’s an even harder thing to wrap my head around because most days thanks in part to social media it feels like I have friends by the thousands. By the tens of thousands! But a sense of community (and within that realm some even deeper and more remarkable friendships) is truly what I’ve been most grateful to get out of the intensive experience.

Making Things Happen is about perspective. And clarity. Clarity is the best word I can possibly come up with based on my latest trip to Chapel Hill. The previous two times I attended were no doubt amazing and wonderful and better than the last, but this most recent intensive silenced a lot of the noise I had happening around me. I was able to get shockingly honest with myself and go places within me that I had been avoiding. On the other side of fear is success. There’s also balance and joy. And facing some of my fears and the things I knew to be true those couple days I sat with close to 100 sweet souls, ultimately helped me realize how I was running myself into the ground, focused on more of this and more of _____ (followers, perfection, late nights, a better portfolio, insert whatever materialistic or trivial thing you’re chasing here). Having the ability to see everything in front of me and knowing in my soul what I can afford to remove or purge and what I can afford and want to actually pursue (like a family) was so incredibly freeing for me.

Making Things Happen is about the work. The hardest work you’ll ever do to make your best life happen. It amazes me how when you’re sitting in that room going through the intensive’s content, you’re absolutely digging into the first chunk of hard work you’re about to face. Being honest, getting to your core, writing our your fears, learning to say no to things and processing this all into actionable steps IS hard work. I leave Making Things Happen often feeling an odd sense of being hopefully exhausted. But as Gina always says, when you leave that room life will hit you right in the face. It’s inevitable. It’ll knock you on your ass too. Life is going to pick right back up where it left off and it’s up to you to put in the hard work to cultivate change and get whatever it is done, to reroute your habits, routine, life, whatever. Did you know 40% of our daily routine is done out of pure habit? (I’m reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg right now; brilliant!) If a good chunk of your habits could stand to change a little that’s a lot of hard work. But it’s encouraging, and I speak from experience here, to know how possible that hard work is when you leave such a powerful workshop, and how fulfilling it is to life a life with purpose when you have a community genuinely cheering you on.

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To everyone at all three intensives I’ve been to, thank you for sharing, encouraging, teaching, listening and loving on not just myself but the rest of the brave souls sitting in those three diferent spaces, yearning to change and be their best selves. To those of you who have wondered and thought about coming one of these days but have yet to purchase a seat, give yourself the gift of this experience. The gift of time. The gift of grace, discovery and enlightenment.

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You can purchase your seat here. Scroll down on that page to read more about the intensive and FAQs.

Have a beautiful Tuesday, friends and thank you to Robyn Van Dyke for the gorgeous photos. Xoxo

Instalove Friday

Happy Valentines Day, blogettes!

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I hope that whatever you choose to fill your heart with today is made of the good stuff. Andrew and I are celebrating tonight with a little take out, a surprise dessert from yours truly and a quick clean up of the house before we prep for our trip tomorrow. Since we have house sitters watching our place and our pets while we’re gone we decided a clean home would be a nice gesture, not to mention coming back home will be that much easier! Andrew spent most of last week sick, and naturally I caught his cold and spent this week feeling rotten, so decorations and all things fancy have been put on the back burner this year; with the exception of this adorable Lulu and Georgia doormat. The cutest right? You can snag your own here and use the code HEARTDAY20 to save 20% your purchase (valid until Sunday!)

Have a lovely day celebrating what matters. Catch you all at the end of the month xoxo

Katie + Bryan {E-Session by Jen and Jonah}

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Oh, Katie and Bryan. Bryan and Katie. Two souls truly made for one another. Katie, a sweet, quiet but incredibly loving (and downright stunning) gal. Seriously how lovely is she? And Bryan, a gentlemen and all around happy guy with eyes only for Katie. These two are like most of my couples in the sense that I often feel overwhelmingly appreciative of even just being a witness to their love. To see two people so completely head over heels in love with one another makes me realize how sacred and wonderful a marriage really is. And to be given the gift of helping these couples celebrate their love in such a special, involved and curated fashion is absolutely a blessing I don’t ever dare take for granted.

Katie and Bryan are married already. You may remember some of their wedding photos from my Instagram feed over the holidays. They became husband and wife on New Year’s Eve and rang in 2014 the best way possible. Together with their amazing photographers Jen and Jonah Otchy, we also had the pleasure of seeing their engagement session featured on Style Me Pretty; in the most serendipitous of ways the feature went up just as Katie was preparing the walk down the aisle that day. And since the film scans came back earlier this week from the wedding itself (oh my gosh!) I figured today was as wonderful as a day to share the photos and memories that marked the start of their happily ever after.

Katie and I worked together to style the session with minimal props and outfits that would compliment the feel she was after. The rest is thanks to the talent behind the lens, Jen and Jonah. What a treasure to work with such talent.

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The balloon photo was used on their dinner menus as a nod to the new year!

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That lovely mint color of Katie’s dress was used throughout the wedding too. Can’t wait to share more!

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Perfection.

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And this was the photo we used on the couple’s Save the Dates last spring.

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Happy Wednesday, friends. Make it a beautiful one xoxo

Au Revoir 2013

2013. You were lovely. Truly. I loved you so much. See?

View More: http://lovethenelsons.pass.us/rhi-rhi-gorgeous-pants

You were the first full year I was able to get used to the new HGE brand. To truly define what the HGE experience is all about. To fall in love with every ounce of my career and business. And that I sure did. You brought a full year of floral design my way, ten incredible events and couples, four amazing editorial shoots, a massive print feature in The Knot, a tough fork in the road between moving the studio outside our home or finally settling on renovating our basement (it’s all insulated as of last weekend!), two speaking engagements, a trip to Florida, a trip to Texas, a trip to Engage in Arizona, and the decision to create a workshop that has completely lit my heart on fire. You were non-stop and full of movement, life and adventure. Let’s walk through it all again together shall we, friend? Fasten those seat belts.

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In January my friend Leah and I trekked out in the snow for some bouquet goodness. Just to keep inspired and on top of our game. January was cold, cold, cold and did I mention cold? A lot of time was spent in the office praying for sunshine but also working behind the scenes to get ready for what would be a bustling year. At the end of the month, I teamed up with my amazing gal pal Kelly Braman and a team of other fantastic vendors to make a little feature possible for The Everygirl. It was full of girly Valentines Day goodness more of which you can see here and here.

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March was spent making a partnership with BHLDN come to life, again with Kelly. More here and here.

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In April, Andrew turned 30. In May I turned 27. We celebrated with dinner at a favorite restaurant downtown. Andrew and I also celebrated with a photo shoot together (naturally). We loved the results from our friends at Studio 623. And no we did not plan our outfits to coordinate so wonderfully with this striped wall. But how fun is it that we actually matched? We’re fun like that. And we’re hoping to get this photo made into a canvas sometime this year for our home.

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And then just like that, my official 2013 wedding season began. With the ever so anticipated unicorn inspired wedding. The sweet Janet and Jon finally said I do in front of 80 of their closest friends and family in Western Michigan. It was a freezing cold day here in Michigan despite it being the start of summer and everything still came together so wonderfully. You can see more here on Green Wedding Shoes. And more here too. It was a pleasure working with Kelly who brought it all to life so wonderfully in her images. This wedding was creatively a turning point with my brand. It taught me so much. It humbled me. It opened up a whole new can of possibility and creativity. I’m so thankful for that.

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June also brought the amazing wedding of Elise and Kenny in Grand Haven. Love this Southern Belle like you wouldn’t believe. As she told me in one of our meetings, ‘The bigger the hair, the closer to God!’ From endless phone calls and emails between Michigan and Texas she and I curated the prettiest of blooms and lovelites of details for the big day. She also had one of the biggest bridal parties I’ve ever worked with. 10 maids in a row. Photo by Bryan and Mae.

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And we were also out to the East side of the state for a camping themed couple’s shower for Kris and Chris. This one was pretty fun let me tell you! A bonfire, a camping inspired treats table, red gingham everywhere. There’s something to be said about co-ed showers; I’m hoping there’s a shift this year towards these kinds of events. You can check out more here and here over on Inspired By This. The gorgeous photos were actually taken by a former bride of mine, Sarah.

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Then in July, my sweet Maggie finally got hitched. It was my final coordination only wedding. And it sure was one heck of a party to end with! I was able to work with one of my favorite photographer friends, the one and only Jen Lynne. We had a blast working together for one of our industry pals (Maggie owns the wonderful Renee Austin Wedding, Grand Rapids premier wedding gown destination). Fun story? Maggie and her husband JF are expecting their first child, a son this summer! I couldn’t be more thrilled for them both and wish them all the best as the enter parenthood.

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We headed way up to The Homestead later that month for Leigh and John’s fabulous wedding. These two New Yorkers were such a joy, right Ames? Most notably, we strung foot after foot after foot of ribbon over the ceiling beams of the homestead to create a pretty cool ceiling installation that day. It was fun. And Leigh was such a laid back bride with a fret-free attitude. I mean how fierce are her maids and man of honor below? Exactly.

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And before I knew it August was here. I started to realize how nutty things were getting with a full load of weddings. We decided this month to start renovations on our basement so the entire studio could move down to one larger space. I also had the pleasure of finally executing and being a part of a truly special event for Kris and Chris at Meadowbrook Hall. I cannot wait to share more photos from their big day. Months and months of heart and soul went into this lovely celebration! And it was my first event with the amazing Abby Rose Photography to boot. I hope it’s not the last.

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And this little shoot happened. You can see more here and here. Bradley James Photography is simply incredible.

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Over Labor Day weekend, the biggest event I have ever planned, designed and floralized came to life. Ben and Laura from Harrison Studio were there that weekend to capture it all. I’m so thankful. My team and I literally worked for five days prior to this private residence wedding, to ensure set up went according to plan. It was such a big learning experience executing this sort of event. When you see all of the photos you’ll understand why there was such an intense set up schedule. You’ll also see more in April in the national issue of The Knot where we will have the pleasure of having this endeavor featured. Kate Spade meets Lake Michigan meets classic nautical. Oh my heart. Having it all come together without a hitch so beautifully, may just be one of the highlights of all of 2013. Thank you, Lord.

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Then just days after our Lake Michigan wedding, it was back to the East side of the state again for this big day. Rebecca and Dave are some of the most humble people I’ve ever met. It literally rained inches and inches and inches that day leaving Rebecca’s fairytale backyard wedding soaked to the nines. But the show goes on. It always does. And in this case these two finally said I Do after years and years of dating. It was incredibly sweet and beyond a pleasure being a part of their day. I also just loved working with the lovely LinneaLiz Photography for the first time.

View More: http://linnealiz.pass.us/davidrebecca

I nearly fell over when I crossed off a small bucket list item from my list that month too. Two words: Martha Stewart. And HGE! And my girl, Beth who captured it all so beautifully of course. We waited a year for this feature. And it was well worth it. Check out the incredible love between Nicole and Chris and all of the very simple but very sweet details from their day. I want to put these two in my back pocket and keep them there forever that’s how fabulous they are.

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In October, it was home to Canada for Alex and Josh’s big day in Hamilton, Ontario. It was a flat out rad celebration of music and love. These two are just so cool, I mean check out this photo below from Mango Studios. Shouldn’t every groom have that look of happiness on his face post-ceremony? I can’t wait to share the rest of this wedding because this big day was really special (and the videographers did the best job with their wedding trailer). More coming soon!

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October was here before I knew it. Off I flew to Chapel Hill for my second speaking engagement of the year. It was life changing being a part of the Making Things Happen intensive again but this time as a speaker. I shared my story with close to 100 people, some old faces and some new. I left feeling hopeful and inspired for change, as I always do. I left with some new friendships too. And an invitation to return this spring to do it all over again. The Lord is so good for giving me these moments and experiences to better not only my heart but others who are just as open to change as well. Photo below from Anna Paschal Photography of all us speakers before the first day of the intensive.

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And in November, I was back at the airport this time to fly to Austin, Texas for a little thing I like to call a surprise.

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More on this soon, I promise! I stayed with my lovely friend Shay. We actually met in 2012 when we sat beside one another at Making Things Happen in Chicago. We’ve become so close since then and my heart is so more than grateful for our friendship. Not only did she host me while I was in town, but she kept me fed and happy (all is takes is a few Pillsbury Cinnamon Buns to be honest). She also took photos of me, I played flowers, I executed a surprise, she captured this below. Oh Sara and Austin! Let me count the ways I so love you two. September 20th is just so close!

View More: http://lovethenelsons.pass.us/sara-and-austin

And once I got home that month, I made this, shot by these guys and then launched this. We sold out in 8 hours. I cried.

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That same week Sam, Brad and I made this collaboration between West Elm, Style Me Pretty and some other incredible vendors come to life. It was very Merry and very Bright and it makes me want to throw a party for Christmas next December. You can see more here and here. It was one of my favorite non-wedding features ever. The bow wall was one of my favorite simple installations to date. And who knew our front living room could be such a great and neutral backdrops for fun little projects like this? I’m saying yes to more of these in the future please and thank you.

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In December, my friends Ben and Laura came over to shoot my Girl Cave. I love them. More here if you’d like a peak!

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And in December we also celebrated Christmas together at home, just the four of us. Andrew and I, and Chenks and Zoe. Imperfectly perfect home of ours included (check out that pet hair on my leggings, oy)! Brad and Sam shot a few photos for our holiday cards, including this one here which we ended up not using, and I’m so thankful for the obsessive amount of photos I have from different points in our live, milestones or not. One day, I’ll sit here and show these to our kids. How special is that? Oh and it looks like Zoe may be smiling in this photo. That makes me quite happy.

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At the end of December, I faced my craziest planning roadblock yet. My California floral truck for our NYE event, carrying all my client’s garden roses, anemones, greens and more, was 24 hours behind schedule. After finally getting our product, leaving 12 hours late, driving through the night (thank you Andrew!), cleaning 300 hydrangea stems in an Ohio hotel room until 5:30 am, bringing together an onsite team of six for pre-wedding set up, staying up until 1:00 am the night before the event to make sure every little detail was perfect for Katie and Bryan, we did it. It truly takes a village. We pulled off the perfect end to a jam-packed and very blessed year. Oh! And Style Me Pretty featured the now married couple’s engagement session that same day. Go see how lovely they are. It was a sweet day celebrating two special individual’s love, doing what I love, with the one I love. What could be better? The amazing and ever so sweet Jen and Jonah captured all of the details. We’re all on the edge of my seat waiting for film scans to come back.

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2013 I really liked you. I wanted you to be purposeful. And you were. That was actually my word for last year. And it fit well. I feel like so many of my business methods and the things my business stood and still currently stands for were established. I felt less like I owed people an explanation for why I do what I do. And that in and of itself was very liberating. I overcame obstacles, I learned so much more than I could ever fit into a blog post here, and I really had the absolute pleasure and honor of working with amazing clients, their families and vendors. What more could a girl ask for?

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Well, for starters, time with her hubby! It hurts my heart to say it, but there wasn’t much time spent dating, enjoying and falling in love all over again with my husband like I so love to do from time to time (ok, scratch that all the time). I’d also love to take more puppy walks, make home cooked meals, visit the gym more frequently to get strong and fit, feel content with more time away from my phone and social media, spend more purposeful time on projects that matter and less time on things that don’t. More road trips home to see my family. More visits to Andrew’s family down the road. More dinner parties just because. More movies, more books, more risk, more balance, more prayer. More thought on starting a family. 2013 wasn’t bad. But 2014 is going to be better. Much much better.

Happy New Year, friends. May it be made up of all the things that matter the most. Sending you ALL so much love xoxo

(p.s. you can see 2011 in review here, and 2012 in review here)