Genna & Derek


As two good friends celebrated their one year anniversary this weekend, I can’t help but reflect on this gem from last summer.  Genna and Derek wanted to host an elegant spring garden party that welcomed guests to participate in the celebration of their love by showcasing their personalities, interests, talents, and creativity through thoughtful details and purposeful moments.

They had a clear vision from our very first meeting and told me they wanted to be very involved and do much of the work and crafting themselves. Genna is a creative soul with a passion for local food. Derek’s big heart and love for his family and friends ensured we’d have a lively party. Together, with great food and fun music, we created a romantic affair that represented the vibrancy of spring and the natural beauty of a garden.

The barn at the Chapel Hill Carriage House was the perfect setting. The venue’s landscape needed no dressing up and the barn was a fresh compliment to the elegant tables. The weather reports showed a high chance of rain but the couple was determined to hold the ceremony outside. With two back up rain plans in place we forged forward with the plans for outside. Ceremony chairs were placed in a spiral set up to give each guest the perfect view of the couple and their bridal parties.  Early to arrive guests enjoyed local beer while playing corn hole and washers on the green, two favorites of the bride and groom.

Thankfully, the rain held out just long enough for Genna and Derek to tie the knot outside – officiated by their good friend, Justin.  En route to the cocktail hour, friends and family picked up their Mason jar escort cards and filled them with a signature cocktail made with homemade limoncello prepared by Genna’s mom. The cocktail, “The Walter,” paid tribute to Genna’s late Nonno and her Italian heritage.

After cocktails and appetizers from Donovan’s Dish guests found their seats in the barn.  A personalized, handwritten thank you note sealed with a wax monogram from Genna and Derek was set atop the evening’s menu (also designed by the bride and groom) at each place setting.

The garden party reception came alive with the centerpieces. After scouring thrift shops, yard sales, good will stores and dollar stores for glass vases, we spray painted them gold to tie the look together. Early that morning, I filled them with fresh loose stems of peonies, hydrangeas and roses from Flowers on Broad Street.

Upstairs in the loft we created a fun space for guests to offer their best wishes to the couple with a simpler take on a photo booth. With a string of inspirational photos of Genna and Derek, guests used Polaroid camera’s and chalk boards to fill a memory box with messages of congrats. Dancing commenced immediately after dinner and the celebrating was in full swing until the end – when the rain really started to come down, only enhancing the majestic ambiance.

Hailing from Philly and having spent the last 2 years in Raleigh, NC, Genna and Derek wanted to leave their guests with a late night snack representative of both cities.  Guests grabbed a soft pretzel in a mini-brown paper bag sealed with another note from the thoughtful bride and groom: “We tied the “knot!”  To thank you, please enjoy a local “twist” on a Philly favorite.  Love, G&D”

In the end, Genna and Derek came through in every detail from their thoughtful thank you note place cards to the music selection.  It’s weddings like theirs that remind me it’s not always a perfect blue sky that makes a beautiful wedding – it’s loved ones celebrating two wonderful people.


Photographer: Graham Terhune, Chapel Hill, NC
Planner:  Alycia Inserra of MASON Inc., Durham, NC
Venue: The Chapel Hill Carriage House, Chapel Hill, NC
Caterer: Donovan’s Dish, Raleigh, NC
Florist:  Flowers on Broad Street, Fuquay-Varina, NC
Baker: Cup Cake Bite, Fuquay-Varina, NC
DJ:  Randy Bennet of Joe Bunn DJ Company, Raleigh, NC
Bride’s Gown:  Tara Keeley by Lazaro
Pretzels:  Guglhupf Bakery, Durham, NC

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