Summer and Stephen were married in a gorgeous springtime Duke Gardens wedding ceremony. This Durham wedding venue is one of our favorites for its natural and serene beauty.

We hope you enjoy some of our favorite wedding photos from Summer and Stephen’s big day courtesy of Raleigh wedding photographer Emily Alane.

Makeup For Your Day did a wonderful job getting the ladies ready for their big moment.

Your wedding day shoes can be a fun way to express your personal style. Summer’s dazzling bridal shoes were the perfect stylish touch peeking out from under her classic gown.

Summer’s dress was breathtaking- romantic gathers of fabric, a long train, and dainty buttons going all the way down the back of the dress. We loved her elegant bridal gown.

Many of our brides choose to incorporate vintage elements into their wedding days. Especially when those vintage elements have a significant meaning, such as the cameo necklace Summer wore- the same cameo necklace her grandmother wore on her wedding day.

Durham wedding florists Tre Bella did an exquisite job as always. The bridal party’s pink rose bouquets were stunning.

If you saw our Royal Wedding trends post you might remember that we predicted that lighter color bridesmaids dresses, like Pippa Middleton’s Maid of Honor gown, would become more popular in weddings. The floor length champagne colored bridesmaids dresses worn by Summer’s bridal party are a perfect example of this timelessly elegant trend. Now that’s a dress any bridesmaid would be proud to wear again!

The couple exchanged vows under an ethereal chuppah made of branches, vines, and a beautiful ivory fabric.

The rose and hydrangea centerpieces by Tre Bella helped create the romantic look the bride wanted for her reception decor. Mixing small floral centerpieces with tall floral centerpieces is a great way to add variety and create a more custom look to your wedding reception decor.

The bride chose a cherry blossom wedding theme, which was just perfect for this springtime garden wedding. Soft pink was carried throughout the wedding and reception including the pink rose bridal bouquets, the blush colored table linens, and even this cherry blossom inspired cake by Cinda’s Creative Cakes.

The evening’s dinner menu was catered by Durham Catering Company.

The band, Mr. Coffee and The Creamers, kept the guests dancing late into the night at this Sarah P. Duke Gardens wedding reception.

Congratulations, Stephen & Summer!


Ceremony & Reception Venue: Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Floral Design: Tre Bella

Photography: Emily Alane Photography

Catering: Durham Catering Company

Cake: Cinda’s Creative Cakes

Makeup & Hair: Makeup For Your Day

Band: Mr. Coffee & The Creamers

What bride doesn’t love incorporating a little southern charm into her wedding reception? Mason jars are a popular choice for reception decor and here we show you a few DIY  simply sweet ways to use the southern charm of Mason jars at your own wedding reception or bridal shower.

One way to use Mason jars is to fill them with a variety of different cookies and place the jars at either a dessert table or at the guests’ tables. An even more endearing idea- instead of using table numbers, name each table after a favorite type of cookie, such as “Chocolate Chip” or “Snickerdoodle”, and have Mason jars filled with only that type of cookie at each respective table.  I just hope I get to be sitting at the Thin Mint Cookie table. We even picked up this small Mr. & Mrs. tag at Target for under two dollars.

A second sweet way to use Mason jars at your wedding reception is to fill them with a favorite candy and using card stock folded length-wise write either your new married monogram or a cute phrase such as “Share a Kiss”.

Using the same idea as above, we filled this Mason jar with mint flavored candies and made an adorable “Mint to be Together” candy tag.  After dinner mints are the perfect late night treat for your wedding guests.

A sweet way to add a pop of color is to fill Mason jars with Toostie Pops or another colorful candy that matches your wedding colors or the season.

Whether you’ve got a dessert table to fill, are looking for bridal shower treats, or just want to have a delicious centerpiece your guests are sure to love, these sweets filled Mason jars are sure to satisfy. Plus, you’ll love the simplicity and affordability of these sweet southern centerpieces.

Of course we were up at the crack of dawn to catch it all!! We have been eagerly anticipating catching that first glimpse of Kate’s wedding gown, to see the florals she chose for her bouquet, and of course take sight of the amazing royal decor! Needless to say we were not disappointed. Every little detail was perfectly charming from Kate’s Grace Kelly inspired wedding gown to the couples’ decorated sports car getaway. This was the wedding of the year, maybe even the decade. And we’re sure that royal wedding inspired trends will follow. Here we share a few of our favorite picks for royal wedding trends.

Touches of Nature

What an absolutely perfect way to tie in Kate and William’s love for the outdoors by bringing a little bit of nature into the Abbey. Not an easy feat, but the look the trees achieved was truly spectacular.  Maybe you don’t want to bring in huge trees,  instead you can focus on small ways to incorporate aspects of things the two of you like to do. For example, if you two enjoy rock climbing together you can use pebbles in centerpieces. Twigs in floral arrangements and moss inside glass centerpieces are also simple ways to add touches of nature to your wedding.

More Signifcant Bouquets and Floral Choices

We love the idea of meaningful florals. We often get brides that want to incorporate the same type of flowers their mothers or grandmothers carried when they got married, or flowers that their finaces often brought them. Some of our brides have even chosen to carry charms of significance or tiny cameo pictures of loved ones integrated into their bouquets.

According to the royal press release, “The bouquet is a shield-shaped wired bouquet of myrtle, lily-of-the-valley, sweet William and hyacinth. The bouquet was designed by Shane Connolly and draws on the traditions of flowers of significance for the Royal Family, the Middleton family and on the Language of Flowers.”

The bouquet is extremely small in comparison to Kate’s beautiful, sweeping gown  but the tiny blooms echo the delicate lace on the bodice of the dress. We think it is wonderfully proportionate. And her decision to have a bouquet that held significance made it a royal wedding trends we expect to see plenty of in the future.

Neutral Bridal Party Dresses

We have always been fan of champagne, or other light colored gowns. Isn’t wearing white at someone else’s wedding a total fashion faux pas? Turns out, British traditions are different than American ones. An old superstition says that bridesmaids and groomsmen should dress similarly to the bride and groom to ward off evil spirits. And we think neutral colored bridesmaids dresses are the perfect compliment to any white or ivory bridal gown. We’re excited to see more Pippa Middleton inspired bridesmaids dresses make a stylish appearance at upcoming weddings.

Traditional Wedding Styles

From Kate’s timeless Grace Kelly inspired lace gown to the royal getaway carriage we’re expecting to see a lot more classic and traditional elements infused into weddings. But you don’t have to bust your budget to host a regal wedding. Wearing a vintage accessory, such as a veil or jewelry that your mother or grandmother wore at her wedding is an affordable way to incorporate a classic style into your wedding apparel. Other traditional wedding elements we expect to see are receiving lines, formal brunch receptions, and touches of vintage inspired lace.

Whether it’s flowers of significance or traditional wedding gowns, the royal wedding will undoubtedly influence the latest wedding trends and styles. Whether you want a perfectly regal wedding, or just want to incorporate one or two trends from the royal wedding into your day, you can feel like a princess on your big day.

Now who else is excited to see Britain’s most eligible bachelorette, Pippa Middleton, get engaged and start planning her own royal inspired wedding?

Green inspired wedding favors that won’t bust your budget are all the rage this season. Fortunately, we know a thing or two about being resourceful when it comes to wedding favors. Here is one of the latest trends in weddings, newspaper wrapped candy favors. Here we show you how…

Step 1) Choose any newspaper you like. Do you or your groom work in finance? Choose the Wall Street Journal. Are you a New Yorker at heart? Why not pick up a few copies of The New York Times for this project? Another custom idea is to use newspapers from you or your groom’s hometown or even from the city where you two fell in love.

You can choose any candy you and your groom like. We chose Hershey’s kisses because they’re smaller and therefore easier to wrap. Besides, what wedding guests doesn’t love a little extra take-home chocolate?

2) Cut one piece of the newspaper in half. Then place a piece of white tissue paper on top (to keep any ink from rubbing off on the candy, especially if the candy you choose isn’t already individually wrapped).

3) Place several pieces of candy in the center of the paper.

4) Roll the paper up from one side and secure with a couple pieces of clear double sided tape.

5) Twist each end of the paper before tying a ribbon on either end. This can be a fun way to incorporate your wedding colors.
Your guests will be delighted with this favor because it’s clever and delicious. You’ll love the money it’ll save you as well as the simplicity of this DIY wedding project.

Do you plan to try this or something similar for your own wedding? Leave a comment and let us know what sweet DIY favors you’re planning.

Royal Wedding!!




Many modern DIY brides wonder if hiring a wedding planning is necessary. Between wedding blogs, magazines, and TV shows it might seem like planning your own dream wedding is easier than ever. However, a wedding planner is an experienced professional who understands the wedding industry on a much more detailed level. Hiring a wedding planner can be one of the most crucial steps to achieving the wedding day you’ve always imagined. Here are just a few reasons why we believe hiring a knowledgeable wedding planner is so valuable…

1) A planner can save you valuable time searching through vendors: Weddings take more time to plan now than ever. Between work, family commitments, and quality time with your fiancé, fitting in enough time to search through vendors can be overwhelming. Instead, let a wedding planner do the work for you. A wedding planner is very familiar with the style and quality of the work of vendors in your area including caterers, photographers, and venue sites. By working with a planner to select your vendors you’ll ensure that you’ve hired the most reliable and experienced vendors without having to spend endless hours searching the internet and meeting for consultations.

Photo Courtesy of Courtney Gray Photography

2) A wedding planner can act on your behalf with vendors: Not only is a wedding planner one of the best resources for selecting and hiring quality vendors, but a professional wedding planner can act on your behalf when it comes to communicating with your vendors.  An experienced wedding planner has worked with numerous vendors and maintains strong working relationships with these wedding professionals. This means your planner will maintain contact with your vendors throughout the planning process to ensure all the necessary steps to achieve your dream day are being completed.

3) A planner can help you develop a realistic budget, stick to your budget, and help you avoid costly mistakes: Weddings can easily cost far above and beyond what you might think. Depending on your wedding date and venue there can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars of unexpected costs. However, an experienced wedding planner understands all the possible costs you might incur and can help you plan your budget accordingly. A good planner will never over spend. Rather, she’ll work to help save you money.

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Life Photo

4) A wedding coordinator from a venue site is different from an independent wedding planner: While many wedding and reception sites include a “wedding coordinator” this person does not offer the same services as an independent wedding planner. A wedding coordinator is generally the catering manager of your venue and his or her job is to oversee that everything pertaining to the facilities runs seamlessly. While the coordinator offers a helpful service, it is not the same scope of services an independent wedding planner can offer you such as vendor negotiating, budgeting, and etiquette guidance.

5) A wedding planner understands the value of timelines: Wedding planners understand the importance of both a wedding planning timeline as well as a wedding day timeline. Throughout the planning process, your planner will stick to a planning timeline, not allowing any detail of preparation to go overlooked. In addition, a planner is an invaluable asset come wedding day to coordinate vendors and serve as a “team captain” to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Photo Courtesy of Nick Pironio

6) A wedding planner take the stress off you, your fiancé, and your families: No bride wants to be hassled as the go-to person for questions and unexpected problems that arise come wedding day. Hiring a wedding planning to manage your big day will allow you, your fiancé, and your families to relax and completely enjoy this once in a lifetime moment.

Photo Courtesy of Martha Manning Photography 

Thinking about hiring a wedding planner? Give us a call or send us an e-mail and we’d love to schedule a time to talk with you about your wedding day needs.

Heather and Joe’s Duke Chapel wedding and Carolina Inn reception had the perfect vibrant spring color palette. This was such a fantastic couple to work with! They were so much fun to plan with!
We love to create custom inspiration boards for our couples when we began the planning and design process. Here’s a peek at Heather and Joe’s inspiration board:

Who doesn’t love seeing inspiration turn into an exquisite reality? Here are some of our favorite images from Heather & Joe’s wedding inspiration turned real wedding day.

Thanks to Kevin Milz for these amazing images.

Love the sash and brooch on Heather’s strapless lace gown. Heather’s dress was from one of our favorite wedding gown boutiques, Tre Bella Bridal in Durham.

Heather’s vintage inspired red shoes were the perfect little bit of colorful fun peeking out from under her dress.

Shorter length cocktail dresses are a great option for bridesmaids because they are sure to be worn again.

Ask your photographer to take plenty of detail pictures. It’s easy to overlook the detail elements of your big day when you get caught up in the excitement of your wedding and reception.

What an aisle to walk down! Duke Chapel is one of the most sought after Durham wedding venues.

The faithful bridesmaids lend a hand in bustling the bride’s gown.

The bride and groom decided to enter their black and yellow reception ballroom to the Steeler fight song “Black & Yellow” to pay homage to their favorite team.

The English Garden provided these dazzling floral arrangements. Next to the black linens, these yellow roses are very vibrant. And the height of these arrangements created an impressive effect without blocking guests’ view.

The stationary was incredible for the wedding! We mimicked the design on the cake and used the coupled monogram. This fantastic cake design is from Swank Cakes.

Guests also enjoyed pink sherbet at this southern class Carolina Inn reception.

As favors, the couple chose to give guests Bone Sucking BBQ sauce (a favorite of the groom’s) and deliciously sweet maple cookies from the bride’s home town.

Congratulations, Heather & Joe!!!

xoxo, Erin

What’s the difference between a wedding coordinator, a wedding planner, and an event designer?

The terms “wedding coordinator”, “wedding planner” and “event designer” are often used interchangeably. However, there are distinct services offered by each. Allow us to simplify the process and explain the basic differences between wedding coordinators, wedding planners, and event designers.

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Life Photography

Wedding Coordinator

A wedding coordinator’s main responsibility is to be present the day of the event to make sure all the vendors are in place and that all the logistics run smoothly. Think of the coordinator like a back stage director, she’s there to make sure everything goes according to plan when it’s show time.

Many wedding coordinator services are referred to as “day of coordination”. However, coordination actually begins at least a month before your wedding day. Your wedding coordinator will meet with you to create a day-of timeline, confirm vendors, and go over details of how you want things set-up and orchestrated for your big day. When it comes to making sure everyone and everything is ready and in place on your wedding day, the wedding coordinator is on the job!

Photo Courtesy of Hadar Goren 

Wedding Planner

A wedding planner’s work begins months before your wedding day. She’s the one to contact once the ring is on your finger and you’re ready to make your dream wedding day a reality. Wedding planners are generally responsible for all the planning aspects and preparation for your wedding day. Tasks such as selecting and booking vendors and developing and sticking to a budget are all a part of the wedding planner’s job.  In addition, many wedding planners also act as wedding coordinators since they are highly involved with the planning process and understand your wants and needs for your big day.

Photo Courtesy of Nick Poronio

Event Designer

The event designer is responsible for understanding your wedding day vision and making it a reality. Event designers, like other professionals in the design field, create a “vision” for your wedding day. Much like an interior designer can take a client’s inspiration and create a whole room, an event designer can take your inspiration and create a whole event. Event designers work in close conjunction with floral designers, rental companies, and caterers to craft a truly custom event. In fact, many event designers also offer additional in house design services such as floral design or linen rentals.

While there are differences between the roles and responsibilities of wedding coordinators, wedding planners, and event designers, many wedding professionals offer a mix of these services if not all three. Just remember to ask your wedding consultant exactly which services she offers, don’t just assume.

Here at Erin McLean Events we offer all three services to our brides. Whether you’re looking for someone to coordinate logistics the day of, or you need someone who can transcribe your vision into a breath-taking reality we’re here to help. Give us a call today. We’d simply love to talk about your wedding day!

Vera Wang’s first collection of 2012 has recently been unveiled. Vera Wang paid homage to the Paris Opera and Edgar Degas for her Spring 2012 bridal collection and as expected it is beyond gorgeous.

I am in love!

We live for this stuff!!