Reception Magic

How do you imagine your dream wedding? Here, three beautiful celebrations bring a special vision to life.

Totally Traditional

A Southern bride with a yen for a traditional spring wedding approached Tara Guérard, the author of Southern Weddings and the planner behind Soirée Charleston in South Carolina. “There are still brides who’ve been dreaming of their weddings and reading wedding magazines since they were twelve,” says Guérard. The color scheme for them? All-white, of course. For this wedding, Guérard chose white, cream and a few touches of gleaming champagne. The formal invitation was gold calligraphy engraved on old French ivory paper.

The bride found the perfect venue: a historic home in Charleston that came complete with a glorious old grand piano. On the big day Guérard seated herself there and provided the only musical accompaniment to the elegant cocktail hour. After that, guests made their way into the garden for the rest of the evening. There, to capture a ballroom feeling, Guérard had draped the tent with lustrous swags of taffeta in champagne and white. Sparkling chandeliers hung both inside and outside the tent, and a black-and-white-checkered dance floor had been added for a crisp, tailored touch.

Old-School Polish

The soirée of choice in this area is a cocktail party with scrumptious hors d’oeuvres, Guérard says. This wedding’s stations included shrimp and grits, asparagus with a lemon dill sauce, imported cheeses with apples and raspberries and beef tenderloin and baby lamb chops—all done in finger-food sizes. Each station was sheltered beneath a flower-filled white umbrella and illuminated by a chandelier.

Cocktail tables were dressed with silver candelabra, flutes and bud vases, and Guérard made a strikingly elegant statement with a silver filigree cake stand. “It’s so old- school,” she says. “It felt as though we were bringing out the family silver.”

Amazing Grace

Flowers play an important role in a traditional wedding. Guérard filled silver mint-julep cups and mini vases with fragrant white blooms, such as peonies, Casablanca lilies and roses. Doors got fluttery wreaths of Vendela roses, and the garden statuary was adorned with flowers in creamy white.

So what should you do if you have a taste for the traditional? Guérard says: “In the South, we’re known for hospitality. A party may look spectacular, but if you have to wait 20 minutes for a drink, you’ll always remember that. Be sure to take care of your guests—that’s being traditional.”

heartfelt messages

fairy-tale cake

a tent becomes a ballroom


From left: Heartfelt messages for the bride and groom. A fairy-tale cake in champagne, cream and white replicates the lace pattern of the bride’s dress. A chandelier and dance floor transform a tent into a ballroom. White lilies in a silver vase and white roses for bouquets express a deeply felt love for tradition.

Photography: Liz Banfield Photography.