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February 28, 2007

Preppy but Elegant

Mary, one of my loyal readers, has asked me to do an inspiration board for her preppy, garden chic wedding this upcoming summer in Washington DC. She gave me so many great details and ideas that it was easy to create an inspiration board and really run with it. Mary is looking for a casual, though sophisticated ambiance...lots of pinks and greens, grosgrain ribbons and polka dots paired with elegant touches and details. Kind of a Lily Pulitzer meets Vera Wang. Here is what I came up with...Mary_inspriation_board_2

Top Row: Martha Stewart flowers, pink party dress by Milly, over-sized table cards; Center Row: Cake on Wedding Style, China featured on Domino, Dress by Judd Waddell on Brides; Bottom Row: pink flowers on Brides, Heidi wrapping paper, Stationery by Sugar Paper **A note...I am not going to be putting up the bride's actual dress anymore, b/c I am scared that boyfriends are starting to read the blog too and I wouldn't want to spoil it!

Part of the struggle when designing a preppy, Palm Beach style wedding is that you have to be careful not to seem to "themed." (And in all honesty, this is really true for any look that you are trying to achieve). I love weddings that have a particular style to them, though I guarantee you that if EVERY detail follows the same look, it will seem a bit cheesy and overdone. So for Mary, I tried to infuse that resort like feel, with really elegant and modern touches and I think that the end result is timeless and sophisticated.

Okay, on to the details. Let's start with the garden ceremony...close your eyes and picture a really intimate courtyard, with neatly spaced celedon green chiavari chairs, floor vases overflowing with pink peonies and fluffy roses, and lovely pink & green programs on each seat. As your guests are being seated, they could be served chilled Pink Grapefruit Cocktails (with or without the alcohol), or pink lemonade as a solo guitarist plays quietly in the background. I envision the ceremony as being really personal and intimate, perhaps the couple will write their own vows, give gifts of thanks to their parents, read a personal poem or a funny anecdote about the other.

As the guests move from the ceremony to the reception, the "room" might change a bit into a more elegant style. I think that the flowers should really be played up in this area. For garden weddings, I really like to see actual garden pieces. Smith and Hawkin has some great ones, as do many antique stores and flea markets. I would have the florist go for two things...monochromatic color and volume (not volume as in tall, volume as in will find that larger flowers like hydrangeas take up space and aren't incredibly expensive), really emphasizing the garden feel.

On the table tops, I would thread some gold into the has a really warm and inviting effect that would dress up this preppy wedding a bit. Jonathan Adler just came up with these fabulous belly vases which would be perfect accents here and there, or if your budget is a bit larger, rent some really great plates with ornate gold designs. You could have a collection of different thumb print glasses to bring in a bit of a vintage feel. The foundation decor (ie...linens, flowers, candles, china) should all be elegant and timeless.

Allow your whimsy to come in through accents like favors, table cards, menus, napkins, etc. Mary was a bit unsure as to how to bring in polka dots, while still maintaining some sense of elegance. My opinion is that you accent with patterns...and not just one pattern, or it will seem too matchy-matchy. Two or three different but complimentary patterns sprinkled around your reception area would be perfect. You could use the address labels at Iomoi to customize favor bags or boxes, or the coasters placed on tables during your cocktail hour. You could tie candy bags filled with sweets using this fabulous grosgrain ribbon or place a variety of gorgeous napkins at each place setting. Or use these beautiful anthropologie glasses to serve chilled white wine, rather than a standard goblet. As long as you are just accenting with the more whimsical details, the options are endless!

And finally, for the wedding fashions...I think that Mary has it down already. She wants her maids to all wear different shades of pink (love  it), the groom to wear a sand colored suit (perfect) and her gown is an incredible Judd Waddell creation that is just perfect for a preppy (but chic) garden wedding. Perhaps the only addition would be to give your bridesmaids these adorable clutches to tie the look together.

The Knot has great ideas for a preppy spring wedding, as well..definitely read this article if you are moving in that direction! Thanks so much, Mary, for letting me dive head first into your wedding!


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Abby-I love the ideas for this wedding! We are doing a garden wedding too and I might have to "steal" some of these ideas :)

abby larson

Thanks, Sam! I love this one too.

I really like the idea of incorporating butterflies into a garden wedding...seems so chic and appropriate.


Adorable, wonderful ideas as always, Abby! Thank you so much for all of your great ideas!! I am so excited to use all of these great tips!


I love this! I would love, love, love if you could do one for me as well! :) We're doing a shabby chic/vintage inspired theme with the colors pink and brown. We also seem to be having a bird theme. :)

abby larson

would be happy to, Susan! I LOOOOOOVE birds. It's actually becoming kind of comical. Birds, everywhere.


Ooooh, yay!! :) Thanks!!

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