Today’s real wedding feature comes with the greatest idea for flower girl flowers I’ve heard of yet. Leslie and Kenny, are architects with a hankering for the details and raw industrial spaces. They live in the historic Westview community of Atlanta so when their love of work turned into a love for one another, they only had to head a hop, skip and a jump over to Ambient Plus Studio, a huge textile mill turned photography studio / event venue located in the nearby Mechanicsville neighborhood. To throw in some theatrics, the couple orchestrated a “petal drop” for their wedding ceremony, whereas the flower girl skipped down the aisle to Florence + The Machine and when she reached the end, grabbed a rope and ran back tearing an aisle length container that held 600 white rose petals. Talk about amazing!
Leslie and Kenny did such a fantastic job making their wedding truly unique to them and Melissa Prosser Photography didn’t miss a single special detail in the pictures.
So tell us how you met! Love at first sight, blind date, friends forever, we want the particulars!
Kenny and I totally broke the golden rule: we met at work! I had just moved to Atlanta from New Orleans after Katrina. I got a job a local architecture office that he happened to work at as well. As I was being given a tour of the office by one of the principals, we happened upon Kenny who was marking up some drawings. I can still remember him looking up at me for the first time—he denies it, but his jaw was on the floor! The principal noticed the awkwardness and finally broke the silence with an introduction. Kenny, in a failed attempt to extend his hand, threw his pen in the air and marked all over his hand. It was priceless! Within two weeks of my starting date at the office, we had gone on a date and the rest was history. Within the next four years, we bought a house together, continue to restore it, and managed to survive the worst recession in decades while pulling off a wedding!
Now for the proposal . . . details!
Like most architects, I got laid off a couple years back. I ended up taking a position as an environmentalist at a not-for-profit organization here in town that requires a ton of travel. Last October 2009, I had to go up to New York for a conference. Our friends Steve and Veronica (later to be our officiants) live up in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Kenny and I decided to make my work trip a weekend getaway with our friends. It also happened to be our 3 year anniversary that weekend. On Sunday afternoon, Kenny, our friend Steve and I ventured out in the rain to the Museum of Natural History. Kenny claimed he wanted to see the dinosaurs. We had been in there for about an hour when we got to the Guggenheim Rare Stones and Gems exhibit. I’ll never forget because I, being the nerd that I am, was mesmerized by some radioactive glow-in-the-dark rocks on a lower level. I could see that Kenny, however was at the central display: a large case of cut and uncut diamonds from around the world. Now, back story: Kenny had told me for years that he felt diamonds were overplayed and he would never buy me one. A point of contention, so I decided not to open up that can of worms by approaching him in front of a giant case of diamonds on the weekend of our 3 year anniversary. Makes sense, right? Well, Steve eventually came down to me and said that I really needed to go up and see the diamonds. I hesitated and pointed at the glowing rocks. Steve rolled his eyes as he knew what was in store for me. Finally, he got me up there and turned on his iPhone camera to film Kenny proposing to me. Kenny looked at the diamonds and then at me and said: “If I got you one of those would you marry me?” To which I responded (and I’m not proud of this): “Hah! I’ll believe it when I see it!” I followed that with a smirk, and Kenny pulled out a gorgeous tension ring from his coat pocket and looked at me somewhat defiantly. I have not, nor will I ever eat my words like I did that day. Of course, I had to marry him then!
We want to know details! Type of event, Inspiration, theme, etc…
Kenny and I are both architects and are gluttons for details. Our excitement for planning our own wedding was due mainly to the fact that we had a huge group of family and friends that supported us in going as far off the beaten path as we wanted. We had envisioned something that took a bit from the chic, clean lines of 20’s modern but also added in some of our own design tendencies for contemporary and a bit raw. I remember telling Kenny that I kept imagining the wedding to appear almost like a dream sequence where soft lighting, billowing fabric, textures, and a bit of the surreal combined to make a memorable occasion.
We live in the historic community of Westview (just west of West End about 5 minutes from the venue) and saw our wedding also as an opportunity to “buy local” as much as possible and get our friends and family familiar with the community we have now called home for the past 3 years. I think this was part of the interwoven inspiration as well that I kept in the back of my mind the whole time—Atlanta is an amazing city with extremely talented culinary, artistic and architectural resources—many undiscovered. We tried to support those resources at every opportunity. It took a lot more googling and research and interviews, but it was well worth it in the end…Melissa Prosser being one of our greatest finds!
Was there a theme or inspiration behind the décor?
Again, I would say that the theme behind the décor was a mix between 20’s/art deco (the beauty of the machine) and contemporary. The venue was an old textile mill converted into an amazing natural daylighting photography studio. The west and southern walls were covered in 14-0 foot high windows that let light flood in. Still, it was a very raw space that still showed remnants of its use with worn original wood flooring, raw beams above, and ghosted images of assembly lines painted along the floor. It was perfect for us! The ceremony and reception were in the same place—Ambient Plus Studio, a 10,000 sf space. It was huge and we were only having a little over 100 people, so it was important to bring the scale down. What we ended up doing was buying 300 yards of ivory linen that hung in sheets from the beams above; this broke up the space into three sort of “suggested” spaces of ceremony (which later became the dance floor), concert space where several bands played, and table area for dinner. It worked perfectly because as the sunlight hit the linen, everything seemed to glow during the ceremony—perfect for that desired “dream sequence”. That was a happy accident. For floral, a family friend and florist helped us further the theme with brilliant, but very unusual fall-themed flowers of mums, black dahlias, Echinacea and kangaroo paws (the flower Kenny first bought me). They were brilliant in color and shape, but it was the table arrangements where Firefly really did amazing things. The head florist, Katy Lockhart took my “glowing dream sequence” theme to new heights. She picked all white flowers (orchids, spider mums, etc) but used them sparingly to allow light through. Then she surrounded them with something called lunaria seed pods that, when dried become a translucent, iridescent white. Surrounded by several candles, the whole lot of tables lit up in a soft glow surrounded by draping lights above. There’s one shot of the tables lit up with the sunset through the windows in the background. Wow. Another happy accident! I’d say though that the biggest thing with décor is that we tried to look outside the box to save money…we had to, as it was a shoestring budget. We looked for things that didn’t have the word “wedding” attached to it (big automatic increase in cost). We bartered with our vendors, we would buy things that we knew we could use again—i.e. the deep purple aisle that I walked down were carpet tiles. Nobody knew. They were beautiful. Now, that aisle I walked down for my big day is the carpet set up in my dining room. Still just as pretty! We were also really lucky, because being in the design world, you tend to have some pretty talented friends, so they came in handy when pulling this shindig together.
What were your playful twists that made the event unique?
Aside from the décor, there were a few things Kenny and I did to try and make it a bit different. Kenny and I are both into the details of a design, but Kenny errs on the side of the mechanical and functional. We got this crazy idea to make the ceremony an event to remember by rigging a giant flower drop that our niece, the flower girl, triggered. It took several of our friends to set it all up the morning of the wedding but it was well worth it. With a simple frame and extra linen, we raised a cloud of fabric above the full-length of the aisle, filled with 600 white rose petals. The flower girl, cued by some Florence + the Machine, skipped down the aisle throwing some petals here and there and then once reaching the end of the aisle, grabbed a rope hanging next to the groom and ran down the aisle pulling apart the fabric above. As it opened, all 600 petals poured out onto the aisle around the guests like a waterfall. I got to see it from a hidden vantage point, and the guests looked really amazed. I was very happy with that. Another thing we did for the ceremony was try and give the guests an opportunity to know Kenny and I and almost feel like an integral part of the ceremony. We positioned the chairs and our wedding party in a circle around us almost. Also, our dearest friends now married for 5 years, were the officiates of our wedding, which made it mean that much more to us. Finally, rather than traditional readings during the wedding, we chose to have my brothers and brother-in-law come up and say a few words. My brother-in-law first read a poem I wrote for some of our recently past relatives. My oldest brother chose a sweet and classic reading from Plato’s Symposium. My middle brother, who is also a DeKalb County Public Defender, came up and told the most heartfelt story about our childhood and what he’d learned about me and Kenny as a couple. I loved it all because it was so personal and real…to this day people still come up to me and comment on the childhood story my brother shared. It was about him trying to beat me up, me biting him, and him realizing I was tougher than I looked!
Finally, the big quirky thing we did at the wedding was definitely the bands. Kenny and I are both musically inclined and have a bunch of friends who are as well. We decided to have a sort of rock concert that lasted throughout the reception. Our friends’ bands that performed were Graham Knox, Well Oiled Machine, Voghalter, and our band Bated Breath. I had so much fun going up and singing and just letting loose in front of our friends and family. I think it just let everyone relax and have fun!
What was your splurge?!
No doubt the gown was a splurge. I mean, I practically got it on the sale rack, but no dress should ever cost more than a couple hundred bucks in my opinion! This one exceeded that. I’d say the biggest splurge though, that was well worth the money was the open bar. In times like these where money is tight, I had a lot of friends tell me that folks wouldn’t expect us to do it. I think that’s why we did it. We figured, if they’re going out of their way to join us in the biggest event of our lives to date, the least we can do is buy them a drink. I think that drink was appreciated.
Most memorable moment?
There were so many between our band concert, the fantastic food, and the flower drop. One I hadn’t mentioned though were the pictures outside. We were walking outside in what many may think of as a bit too raw of a neighborhood. There was a train track next door, a metal scrap yard, and a lot of old buildings. I loved it! Fortunately, so did Melissa Prosser and her team. We stepped outside and it was like Melissa and I saw the object of our desire at the same time. An old pea green dodge wagon of sorts. We got so many shots in front of that old thing, just cause the color and light were so great. It was less like a wedding shot and more like a photo shoot for a magazine. So much fun! Kenny and I also got some shots on the railroad tracks, which came out beautifully. We really enjoyed the juxtaposition of pretty wedding clothes with raw, harsh surroundings of what once was a thriving industrial area. Loved it.
Another cool part about planning the event was that, again in an attempt to give people a bit of a doorway into our lives, Kenny and I did a lot of research on our family history. That became a big part of the décor on the tables and throughout. We collected historic photos of our ancestors and used them as table markers. We gathered information and stories for months beforehand from our relatives and learned things about our families and ourselves we never knew before. We took the photos and placed them on the tables with accompanying stories so that, by the end of the wedding, people were walking from table to table just to read about our families and learn more about us. It was awesome to share that side of us with everyone. In the end, I think everyone getting married should have to do some family research on both sides. You learn a ton about yourself and your future spouse!
What was the best wedding advice you received?
God willing, you only do this once, so do it how you like it, not how others like it. Also, on a side note, our friend Phuong Nguyen, owner of the graphic design group Creative Crop, did all of our print material. She suggested that on the RSVP we ask each guest to write what they thought made for a successful marriage. So every RSVP was like opening a present with wisdom written on the back. It was great—advice that ranged from genuine to comical to stuff I’d never show my mom! And we have it all to carry with us for the rest of our lives together.
Photography: Melissa Prosser Photography | Venue: Ambient Plus Studio | Catering: Ultimate Culinary Solutions | Flowers: Firefly Studios | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Stationery: Creative Crop | Entertainment: Graham Knox, Well Oiled Machine, Bated Breath | Wedding Cake: Gloria the Cake Lady