When my friend Ariel of Ariel Kaitlin Photography brought the idea of a tea brunch styled shoot to me, I was so excited to collaborate with her, but I had just one small change to the concept of the shoot – could the tea party take place in Wonderland?! She loved the idea, and so we sat down to brainstorm all the ways that we could combine a traditional southern brunch style wedding with the fun and whimsy of Alice in Wonderland. She had the brilliant idea to host the shoot at a beautiful new venue in Raleigh, Walnut Hill, and before long, we had the concept in place.
We decided to focus on the brunch elements, using tea elements, soft colors, and vendors who could help us create a vintage brunch vibe. To incorporate Wonderland, we knew we wanted the contrast of bold and whimsical flowers against the pastel table details, and we had food and drink that could relate to both the brunch vibe and the Wonderland details. With the theme and venue in place, we sat down and thought about what we wanted this shoot to achieve, and how we thought it could relate to our ideal clients.
Our Main Planning Points
First, we really wanted to make sure we had the right vendors – vendors who are creative, inclusive, and less concerned with what’s “trending.” Vendors love working within a theme that allows them some creativity, so it can be really beneficial to hire wedding pros who get excited about your theme and design! We gave basic guidelines to each vendor to ensure they fit within the theme and goals of the shoot, and we trusted them to surprise us with amazing details that were still totally cohesive. We also knew we wanted to include most vendor types that real weddings have, and Ariel Kaitlin Photography and Jared Cook Films were able to capture the behind the scenes action of the vendors kicking butt.
Second, we knew we wanted to play with color! So many weddings have the same safe wedding palettes, but we are in love with weddings that aren’t afraid to be bright and fun. Our lovely florist Rabbit Foot Florals (previously Springwell Design) used bold colors and wide range of the flowers, which contrasted beautifully with the light pastels used in the tea elements and place settings, and the bride wore a blue skirt reminiscent of Alice’s outfit in the classic Disney film!
And finally, we wanted to remind couples that your wedding inspiration doesn’t have to be “on the nose.” You can pull elements from something you love and incorporate them in small ways that work with the theme as a whole. We were careful to subtly include elements from Wonderland in some parts of the design, while others featured the Wonderland elements. It was important to us that this shoot incorporated tea elements and whimsical elements, while still allowing the couple and their relationship to be the star of the show.
Morgan and Andrew were our amazing model couple. They’re a real life married couple, and we were so excited to be able to include them since their chemistry was perfect, and they had so much fun! Andrew wore his personal suit from his wedding, with a tie and pocket square custom designed for the shoot by Knotty Tie Co, paired with a bright and bold boutonniere. Morgan wore a skirt from Mr Pretty Skirt, and her hair and makeup was done by Heather Hall HMUA.
Reaching out to the immensely creative Kasey of Revelry + Heart was no question when it came to wanting a custom invitation suite. We gave her the theme and let her imagination run, and we were stunned by the whimsical suite she designed. Made to look like a vintage leather-bound book, the invitation used mirrored text and a mirror so guests could read the wedding details through the looking glass. A pull-out details card kept the main text clean and clear.
Check out her behind the scenes video showing off the invitation in action to see just how cool this invite was.
We wanted to do something a little different with the ceremony backdrop, so we used a planter box with a pole from Party Reflections on one side of our backdrop frame, and we ran a cord to the tree on the other side. We then draped fabric so that it was a “floating” arch, with one side hanging loosely down. The side with the pole was then covered with flowers to complete the look, with all flowers provided by Rabbit Foot Florals.
Ceremony chairs were also provided by Party Reflections, and a mirror at the back of the ceremony site, from Southern Vintage Table, became a cute welcome sign saying “We’re All Madly in Love Here,” written by yours truly!
A sweet ceremony was performed by Liz Grimes, which you can hear in the video above, along with a “tea ceremony” using the mini macarons from Main Street Cakes and tea set from Southern Vintage Table.
When I think about brunch and southern tea, I think elegant comfort, so adding a precious lounge area was no question. We reached out to Moon & Oak Rentals about their lovely sofas, and they were able to bring not just two great couches, but lounge chairs and vintage tables as well!
Setting up a lounge for a wedding is about so much more than just looking pretty – a well designed lounge is a conversation starter, as much as a place to enjoy the conversation, and we added some extra details to fill out these lounges by including sweet vintage frames, and a blue type writer as the guest book, provided by Southern Vintage Table.
When Ariel and I sat down to think about places that a tea/brunch wedding and an Alice in Wonderland wedding would overlap, and there was one obvious spot – the sweets and treats table. We wanted our sweets table to feel directly inspired by the theme, so we included some whimsy in the macarons, brunch-food in the crepe cake, and tea in the cupcakes.
We placed multi-colored macarons from Main Street Cakes in an awesome vintage box that Ariel and I found at the NC State Flea Market, a great place to shop for small wedding decor! Homemade cake stands and the crepe cake were provided by The Crepe Cakerie, with black and red flowers to play on the red and black in a deck of cards like in Wonderland. And finally, the Matcha green tea cupcakes from Cupcakes d’Amour rounded out the table with some tea inspiration, all laid out on a vintage farm table from Moon & Oak Rentals. A clock, tea pot, candlesticks and “Eat Me” sign completed the look.
We love when couples have specialty drinks at their wedding bar, because it’s such an easy spot to add some extra personalization and really surprise and excite your guests. We knew that Celebration Sidekicks would be the perfect bartender for our shoot, because they love creating custom specialty drinks. The bar itself was created by Celebration Sidekicks, and they served up such fun, creative, and COLORFUL drink options. The Mad Hatter was a Malibu and Midori mix with some sour and citrus juices; The Red Queen was a gin and cranberry juice cocktail with Elderflower liqueur, lemon and cranberry; and the Chamomile Cocktail was a tequila drink with chamomile simple syrup, lime and salt.
All our favorite weddings include some kind of entertainment, activity or detail that surprises and excites guests, and I’ve been crossing my fingers that one day I’ll be able to work a wedding with one of my favorite entertainment vendors – Amazing Magic by Wayne Anderson. It was a no brainer to include Wayne as the entertainment for the shoot, since he is just as magical as Wonderland. His card tricks tied into the playing cards in Alice in Wonderland, and he thoroughly entertained our couple and all the vendors.
And finally, last but not least, we have our sweetheart table and guest table, where we were really able to use our creativity to combine the sweet colors of a brunch tea style wedding with the whimsy of Wonderland. The sweetheart table and mis-matched winged chairs were provided by Moon & Oak Rentals, and the guest farm table, chargers, flatware, and table runner came from Party Reflections. Plates, napkins, and tea cups, as well as assorted books, tea pots and cups, candlesticks and clocks were from Southern Vintage Table, and place cards were created by Yellow House Calligraphy.
Southern Vintage Table created an awesome blog post about the individual items we used for this shoot, and how everything came together.
We loved playing with the contrast of colors and materials used to decorate these two tables. Our favorite elements from the sweetheart table were the floral centerpiece inside a tea pot, the two little rabbits that added some fun whimsy, and the lovely his and hers chairs. For the guest table, our favorite elements were the floating tea lights in tea cups along the table, mini candelabras played on the shrinking snacks in Alice in Wonderland, and the place cards tied to small bronze skeleton keys.
Venue: Walnut Hill
Wedding Planner: Beauty & the Budget Events
Photographer: Ariel Kaitlin Photography
Videographer: Jared Cook Films
Florist: Rabbit Foot Florals (previously Springwell Designs)
Officiant: Liz Grimes of All Faiths Wedding Officiants of the Triad
Cake: The Crepe Cakerie
Cupcakes: Cupcakes d’Amour
Macarons: Main Street Cake
Structural Rentals: Party Reflections
Lounge Rentals: Moon & Oak Rentals
Tabletop Rentals: Southern Vintage Table
Bartender: Celebration Sidekicks
Entertainment: The Amazing Magic of Wayne Anderson
Bridal Skirt: Mr Pretty Skirt
Groomswear: Knotty Tie Co
Hair & Makeup: Heather Hall HMUA
Stationer: revelry + heart
Calligraphy: Yellow House Calligraphy
Model Couple: Andrew & Morgan Ruiz