Like every other 2020 couple, Paula & Sebastian had to make some difficult decisions. Because they have close family flying from South Korea, Peru, and Argentina, they decided to postpone their wedding by a year. They took it in stride, feeling disappointed but confident in how much we’d already planned together, and they took a short break from actively wedding planning. By the time 2021 rolled around, we were back to meeting every month and emailing back and forth regularly, finally continuing our work on their eclectic tea party wedding at JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh.
Venue: JC Raulston Arboretum
Full Service Planner: Beauty & the Budget Events
Photographer: Brian Anthony Photography
Officiant: Magical Weddings by Carly
Caterer: Catering by Design
Baker: Cupcakes d’Amour
Florist: FauxReal Flowers
Structure Rentals: American Party Rentals
Tabletop Rentals: Southern Vintage Table
Bartender: Artful Libations
Stylist: Jessica Vargas HMU
Photo Booth: Celebration Photobooth
Cake Topper: revelry + heart
Dance Instructor: Fred Astaire Dance Studio
When October 16, 2021 finally arrived 20 months after we began working together, we maintained most of our original plans with a smaller guest count of 65. The day was designed to feel welcoming, inviting, comfortable, bright, eclectic, and familial. The aesthetic was Minimalist Tea Party with neutrals, dusty blues, and greens. Ghost Bunny, a character designed by Paula that holds significance for the couple, was worked into the decor, and when we arrived at the venue at 10 am, we set about turning a conference room into their wedding dreams.
Paula & Sebastian got ready at home together, with the stylist meeting Paula at her home, before they rode to the venue together with Sebastian’s mom. Paula slipped into her dress and the two set about the park, taking photos and enjoying a quiet morning stroll together. By 1 pm, the ceremony was set and the couple was ready to walk down the aisle. A wooden welcome sign with greenery greeted guests as they approached the patio. A gold moongate was set up by the florist with greenery, floral swag, and hanging Edison bulbs. The circle arch was set against a hedge of greenery and the chairs were curved around the semi-covered patio right outside the reception room.
With no wedding party or extra fuss, the two journeyed together through every moment of the day. The ceremony began simply, as “Clocks” by E-klipse played and Paula & Sebastian walked down the white aisle runner. Magical Weddings by Carly shared their love story and led them in a Tea Pouring Ceremony, during which both partners poured a small teapot into a single teacup which they shared. The couple recessed to “A Moment Apart” by Odesza, and a casual cocktail hour followed. Bar service began with a mimosa bar and the caterers provided dips and an assortment of crackers.
The conference room had been transformed into the reception hall by adding pipe & drape on the short walls and allowing the long wall of windows to make a statement. A Welcome Table included an Instax camera and scrapbook guest book, and the table housed a birdcage for cards, bubbles for the sendoff, and an album from their luxe engagement shoot in Seoul, South Korea. Guest tables were in white linens, while the welcome and food tables around the edge of the room were in dark slate linens.
The theme and style of the wedding were best seen on the guest tables. Each centerpiece was different, made up of eclectic items from Southern Vintage Table such as vintage books, candlesticks, and clocks, plus bud vases from the florist and a table number. Each table had a few tea elements such as a sugar dish, vintage tea tin with teabags, and a teapot on top of the books. Place settings, which we designed together, featured a large white square plate, a slate napkin topped with a clear square salad plate, gold flatware, a pre-filled water goblet, and favors. Favors were tiny bottles of loose leaf tea and a sticker of Ghost Bunny. The sweetheart table included a stunning gold teapot, bunny plushies from bhldn, and a vase for Paula’s bouquet.
Paula & Sebastian entered the reception to “Open Wound (ODESZA Remix)” by Ki:Theroy. After lunch, they went right into their first dance to “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias, which had been choreographed by Fred Astaire Dance. The dance instructors arrived to give lessons to the guests, who happily hopped onto the dance floor to learn a few moves. When the lesson was complete, the dance floor opened and the instructors stayed to keep folks moving. Some went to enjoy the photo booth and chat with friends, but the entertainment was far from over!
One table of guests included Sebastian’s Taekwondo Sensai and fellow Taekwondoin black belts. It is traditional in Taekwondo that when someone gets married, they get thrown, so the table lined up to attack Sebastian. One at a time, they stepped forward, bowed to the groom, reach forward to embrace him, and then threw him over their shoulder! To wrap things up, Paula gave him a good toss, as well.
Paula’s take on the Argentinean Ribbon Ring Pull followed. Traditionally, small charms are tied to ribbons which are baked into a cake. Similar to the bouquet toss, each single lady holds one ribbon and they pull at the same time. The one who pulls the ribbon with a ring charm is the winner and dubbed the next to be married. Because we didn’t want the ribbons in the cake, we modified the tradition to fit the theme. A teapot was filled with charms and the ribbons hung out the sides for guests to pull.
Paula & Sebastian gave a thank you speech, and then it was time to cut the cake. When we work with our Full Service clients, it’s always my goal to design a part of their day that is so totally them, and with P&S, it was their cake. A vision popped into my mind while planning and I worked with my favorite baker in secret to design their perfect cake. Once the design was completed, I shared the basics with the couple for their flavor and price approval, but otherwise, the cake was a total surprise to them on wedding day. The cake had two tiers; the bottom was decorated with blue pressed edible flowers and the top tier was wrapped in lace. A custom fondant teapot topped with cake, decorated with more pressed flowers to match the teapots on the tables, and Ghost Bunny steamed out of the teapot on a custom clear frosted acrylic cake topper.
The dessert table was home to more than the Ghost Bunny cake. Lace and lights, a variety of vintage stands, and trays of different desserts scattered the table for guests to sample their favorites. At 4 pm, after guests had been dancing for a while, tea was served. Place settings had been cleared and replaced with teacups and saucers, cream and sugar were set up, and teapots were filled with hot water for guests to enjoy. An Anniversary Dance brought folks back to the dance floor for another hour of fun before the last song, “Let Go for Tonight” by Foxes, played as guests blew bubbles and Paula & Sebastian said their farewells.
“Amazing, friendly, professional, and creative wedding planner! Stephanie is the most amazing wedding planner! She and her husband Matt were so incredibly pleasant to work with! I recommend them to anyone looking for a planner. They’re super fun but also very professional and they always get things done. You can tell that they really care about and connect with their couples and really have their best interests in mind. When we first contacted Stephanie we didn’t even know where to start with wedding planning and she helped us so much with clear guidelines, tasks, resources, monthly check-ins, and meetings. She’s so organized and really made sure we felt comfortable about everything. She also helped us figure out our creative vision and a theme that truly felt unique to us. We had to postpone our wedding because of Covid and Stephanie stuck through everything with us and navigated all the challenges calmly and with a great attitude. Our wedding day was amazing and stress-free thanks to her and Matt, and all the other amazing vendors we worked with (that she helped us find). We’re so grateful and couldn’t have asked for a better wedding planner or a better day!! :)” – Paula & Sebastian, Full Service