Vendor News: Music is Booked!

About a month ago I took to Facebook’s recommendation posting and asked my friends for advice on affordable DJ’s in the area. As expected, I was granted far more options than I knew with what to do! However, the worship leader at G’s and my church had also commented on the post that his band, Steadfast, would be willing to consider playing at the reception if a live band was something we were interested in having. G and I talked it over not realizing that Steadfast actually meant the comment more as a joke than anything, and we then approached the band the next Sunday in church to inquire with them on more details.

After getting over a little bit of laughter that we were serious about a live band playing instead of a DJ (due to our wedding’s rustic and laid back feel being more in-tune to their tone as well), we agreed to meet later on in the week and go over a possible set list. Fine tuning a first-dance song as well as other traditional dances was a bit of a struggle, but with some guidance from Steadfast, we have officially drawn together an amazing set for not only our reception’s dance party but also our cocktail hour!

I’ve witnessed Steadfast play around town here and there over at local wineries and breweries, but I will post some of their music on the blog from time to time to share their awesomeness with you as well. It is official, friends, our wedding’s music is booked and we are privileged to have our church family join us in the form of a live band. G and I are SO excited!

Vendor News: Reception is Booked!

Exciting update for #SlackTieEvent — our reception venue is officially “booked”! For any bride-to-be in the midst of wedding planning, you know what a stress finding the venue can be. However, G and I truly lucked out.

We had had our hearts set on property owned by my parents’ neighbors. We have been to the property — 40 absolutely beautiful acres of woods, creeks, and pastures — to ride ATVs and chill at bonfires in the past and fell in love with the area. However, after talking with the neighbors, we decided against the property for a number of very reasonable reasons: no electricity, no running water, need for event liability insurance due to having alcohol, and limited parking. For a wedding of over 200 guests, all of these were things we had considered, but once walking the property with the intention of scouting possible reception locations these issues truly became visible.

Thus we were on the hunt again. We knew we wanted something in the outdoors for a rustic feel. Knowing the wedding industry in our area, I already had an idea of the cost of barn venues around us; they started at $4800 simply for the venue. This was not an option to us due to our budget. So we started thinking…

… and it didn’t take long to think of my godparents and their beautiful farm. Located off a small country road, this farm sports a large red barn with electric, a field for parking, and plenty of space for a tent to be set. We also spoke to our insurance agent and discovered one-day event insurance is quite affordable at about $120 — something which G and I both feel is necessary with having beer and wine available at our reception.

Upon speaking with my godparents, they were more than happy to host the wedding at their farm! G and I ventured out there today, and though we were unable to actually walk the property due to the monsoon happening in Southwest Michigan currently, we did talk to my godparents and go over all the fine details of what would be needed for the wedding day.

Badabing, badaboom — reception venue booked!

Pop the Cork (aka The Beginning)

Welcome to the beginning! The beginning of a project I have been imagining for some time now, and finally found the empty minutes (how?!) to tie together and reform this little corner of the Blogosphere for my own space: Uncorking Peonies.

Uncorking Peonies, in its most basic breakdown, is a wedblog. Sweet and simple. The love of my life, my partner in crime, the Cool Whip to my Pumpkin Spice Oreo (#basicwhitegirlstatus) got down on one knee mid-September and asked me to be his wife, and now we’re busily planning a wedding among already busy life schedules.

My name is Ashley and I am a 20-something event coordinator hailing from Michigan. As you may have gathered from the tagline of this blog (and the various photos of wine glasses and wine bottles), I’m a bit of a wine enthusiast. This is due to the fact that I actually work as an event coordinator for the wine club of a local winery; I am surrounded by wine and am hit with wine knowledge 24/7. It is a pretty great gig, especially given the fact one my great passions is event planning. Nothing makes me happier than bringing people together for a fun and spirited party!

When I graduated from college, I was blessed to roll straight into my dream job — I worked as a wedding coordinator at a venue on the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan. During my seven months of working at this venue, I hosted 70 weddings and events, and with each passing couple my heart fell more in love with the wedding world. When I left to take a career in the wine industry (the horror!), it was in true sorrow as my passion was for the events and wedding world… but due to other circumstances, I was carried away for a few years. So, when the opportunity opened for me to have both the wine industry paired with events, I jumped! Now I host exclusive wine club events at my premium winery for my 750+ club members, as well as the occasional rehearsal dinner and bridal shower.

I also wear a variety of hats throughout my community and keep myself very busy. I am your typical 21st-century woman, after all. I sit on a number of volunteer committees, partake in Bible studies and book clubs, play in a volleyball league, love spending time with my family and wonderful fiance, and value my friends and social life. I live Life very glass-is-half-full and always approach situations with a smile.

Unfortunately, though, my career life still does not allow me to have myself elbow-deep in the wedding world. So, my fiance and I are diving head first into wedding planning and taking it upon ourselves to do as much of the prep-work, decor-construction, and handiwork necessary to make our wedding feasible and budget-friendly. In only a few weeks time, our unique skills, talents, and connections are making wedding planning quite the adventure! I started compiling a list of every little achievement and hiccup along the way and, being an English major and wanna-be writer, figured a wedblog was just the outlet for such a compilation!

Perhaps these little ramblings will give some other bride-to-be an idea, or a conversation might be struck up between bride to bride and provide some inspiration in a situation — I am all about helping one another out!

On Uncorking Peonies I’ll be covering some of the following topics:

  • Keeping to a set (feasible) budget,
  • Hosting a non-traditional wedding,
  • How to manage pre-wedding stress,
  • Do-it-yourself projects with a rustic touch,
  • Dodging the wedding fee hurdles,
  • and Truly making The Day about you and your love!

This is the one thing you’ll see me continue to reiterate throughout my posts: your wedding day is a day to celebrate the love between your partner and yourself. Be sure to focus on that love above all else; your guests will ultimately forget the day, but your partner and you will not — be sure it is how the two of you envision it, and choose to have moments meant only for you two! My most memorable weddings were the ones which were evident how much the couple were in love — the entire room was dense with the emotion.

THAT is how I want my wedding to be. That is my goal. That is what this wedblog is aiming to portray and inspire.

So, please, join me with a glass (or bottle!) of wine as I journey to the aisle…

Here we go!

Real Wedding: Rebecca + Walt

Okay, guys, I have been waiting since the beginning of November to bring this lovely couple to your reading space! Rebecca and Walt’s wedding was the most entertaining and most adorable one I had the pleasure of assisting with during my time at Shadowland. Not only were they the sweetest people to the staff, but their ideas and creativeness are ridiculous! Just take a look for yourself…


Rebecca and Walt met in 2009 while out with their friends at Howl at the Moon in Chicago. At the time, Walt was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base and was in the midst of training. He originally hailed from North Carolina while Rebecca was a Chicago native. From that first chance meeting, the two were inseparable and many train trips were made between the base and the city. However, after only a few weeks Walt had to leave for San Diego for more training. Knowing there was a real connection, the couple decided to try long distance. Six months lately and still going strong, Walt made the decision to pack up a U-Haul and move to Chicago in order to be with Rebecca. Nearly six years later, they were married in beautiful St. Joseph and chose Shadowland Ballroom to be there reception venue. We feel truly honored to be a part of their love story!


The ceremony was to be very simple and intimate. No programs, no readings, just a focus on the couple’s love. On the stage of the Bandshell, surrounded by all their loved ones, Rebecca and Walt opted to write their own vows and read them to one another. Fighting back the tears, the audience witnessed love becoming one as the newlyweds performed a tying of the knot ritual (fitting as the couple met while Walt was stationed near Chicago during his navy days) and sealed the deal with a kiss.


Rebecca and Walt always knew they wanted a vintage themed wedding. However, their surprise and pleasure upon finding Shadowland Ballroom was just too perfect. After discovering the history behind the Silver Beach Amusement Park, the couple quickly fell in love with the idea of using such history to create an experience for their guests from beginning to end. With having a carousel right on site of their wedding, the couple reckoned they had no choice but to base their wedding’s theme on the history of the area.

From the very beginning, the couple made plans as to how their wedding day would evolve. Rebecca is an art teacher and was determined to have her hands in every aspect of the decor and theme, so their entire wedding was do-it-yourself.


The bride and her parents shared many adventures antiquing and handpicking every bottle, jar, and soda pop crate used for centerpieces.  120 antique bottles were arranged by the couple, along with “gathered from the side of the road” textured and natural floral creations of Stella Event Design. The look was meant to be eclectic, as if they were remnants of a traveling carnival.

Speaking of travel, the couple utilized a vintage globe as a perfectly unique guestbook. But the special touches did not stop with these details though! Each table at the reception was named after an old-time carnival ride and held a “Did You Know?” card with a few fun facts on the rides’ histories.


To make their guests’ experience even more authentic, the couple spent several hours building their own ticket booth. As guests entered the boardwalk, they encountered this booth and received their ticket, which directed them to their correct table and seat. Unable to let the crafting end there, Walt also designed a vintage push ice cream cart (equipped with a kissing bell) as a card holder. It was a huge hit among guests!

The creative couple also thought outside decor when it came down to details for their wedding. Guests were transported back to their childhood days with fresh popped popcorn and hand-spun cotton candy inside the Silver Beach Carousel. The bar was tastefully donned the name “The Drink Show” where attendees could wonder upon the couple’s signature cocktails: The Bearded Lady or Midge’s Apple Cider Champagne. Even the desserts kept to the theme as various flavored pies dotted the Pie Stand, just as if one were walking through a country fair.


The fun continued all night long as the couple and their family and friends danced the night away. There was a few minutes when a late-night hot dog bar interrupted the dance moves. As the bride hails from Chicago and the groom from North Carolina, it seemed only fitting that the bar’s toppings paid homage to the couple’s hometowns. Guests were able to make their own Chicago or Carolina dogs and wrap them in retro hot dog foils. owens4

Rebecca and Walt’s wedding exemplified their ultimate goal: to share their love with their family and friends in an entertaining and unique way. As their loved ones were from two very different parts of the country, their wedding was a special occasion to bring these two parts and make them into one. It was a great celebration! Thank you for sharing your special day with all of us here at Shadowland! last

I Want A Day of No Regrets…

Okay, so I actually began this post in February when there was an explosion of Pins after Valentine’s Day, and it was nearly impossible to escape any excitement felt for impending nuptials of family and friends both already in the midst of wedding-planning or those newly engaged. With all the new color palettes, possible venues, and endless decisions to make your “Big Day” unique, it remains constant that it is important to experience your wedding to the fullest and have no regrets.

Continue reading “I Want A Day of No Regrets…”