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Budget Nashville Bride Gets Married in Her $139 Wedding Gown from the Goodwill Gala!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ashley, a budget Nashville bride, was married last Fall and was one of the lucky brides to find her wedding dress at a steal at the 2012 Goodwill Gala, after reading about it right here on Ashley is a sweetheart and was kind of enough to share her story with me, and you, to help other Nashville brides discover the deals that are available at the Goodwill Gala and how to navigate this incredibly unique event.

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Ashley and Grant
Wedding Date ~ October 7, 2012
Guests ~ 85
Budget ~ $3 to 5K


Ashley wasn’t sure if she would find her dress there but definitely thought it was worth checking out.  

She’d tried on a few gowns at David’s Bridal and found a few styles that she liked and also determined the size that she wore in bridal gowns. What she didn’t know was that what she learned at David’s Bridal would help her for the shopping adventure of a lifetime.

Ashley and her "true friend" camp out at the Goodwill Gala!

Ashley arrived at the Goodwill Gala at 11pm with one of her girlfriends, who she calls "a true friend." They camped out, sleeping on the sidewalk until two more friends joined them at 5am. Ashley’s then fiancé, Grant, brought Ashley and her faithful crew coffee and donuts and the girls turned the campout into their own little party.

The doors opened – at 6am sharp.

And the madness ensued! It was hectic and fun. There were people grabbing everything and she was so happy that she’d enlisted her friends for help. Ashley and her friends grabbed every gown they could, within her size and created a human fitting room to cover her as she tried on gowns.  Her girls pulled dress after dress over her head. Luckily, she was prepared, only wearing a body suit, which made it easy for things to fit over her without being completely…naked... in the middle of the store! The scene was insane.

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Then she found it…

There was no mirror in this human dressing room but the moment she put it on, It felt right. Then she saw the look on her friends’ faces, which said it all. As she walked to find a mirror, strangers complimented her on the dress even asking if they could have it if she decided against it. But that wouldn’t happen because when she saw it, she was 100% certain that it was the right dress.

Arriving at the gala, Ashley didn’t really have a budget for her dress. No gala gown is priced over $400 but she wasn’t sure she would like anything she saw at the Gala. But she did! She found the perfect dress. It was clean. It didn’t need to be altered. She did decide to turn to a seamstress friend to reinforce a few seams but other than that, it was the deal of a lifetime.

…she paid only $139 for her dress at the Goodwill Gala!

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budget wedding nashville goodwill deal dress


Wedding Vendors
Dress I Goodwill Gala
Photographer I Nathan Morgan - Website & Facebook
Venue | Montgomery Bell State Park


Ashley’s big day

Ashley and Grant’s goal was to have a simple, casual wedding with personal touches; they were also determined to stick to a budget ranging from $3000-5000.

Along with 85 guests, Ashley and Grant got married on October 7 at Montgomery Bell State Park. She kept it simple by having her ceremony at their chapel, with its cute stained glass windows and then proceeded to their lake side pavilion for their sunset reception.

She splurged some…

Sticking to her budget was important but she also wanted to make sure her guests had a great time and ate well. Even with her modest budget, Ashley was able to serve her guests a full buffet dinner, thanks for the affordability of catering at Montgomery Bell State Park.  

... and saved some

Buying her dress at a fraction of the cost at the Goodwill Gala wasn’t the only way Ashley saved. She also bought much of her wedding décor from Goodwill, including blue glass bottles that she collected over several months. She also made her own wedding signs and display boards. She found her photographer online and thought he’d be way out of her price range. But, because he’d just moved to Nashville, he was willing to work with her and gave her a great deal. In fact, Ashley asserts that she loved working with Nathan, her photographer, and he and her dress find were the two things that she never doubted.

Ashley highly recommends that budget brides check out the 2013 Goodwill Gala. “I like saving money and it was an adventure that added to my wedding experience. Plus, I received many compliments on my dress and on our budget wedding. No one could believe the dress came from Goodwill for $139!"

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You never know what you will find at the Goodwill Gala. This year's takes place on Saturday, March 16 so mark your calendar and prepare to save!  

Posted by Ashley King | Filed under: Attire - Bridal Gowns, Wedding Dresses & Accessories, Contests, Giveaways, Specials, DIY & Budget Wed Finds, Real Nashville Weddings, 0 comments »

What is PhotoJournalistic Wedding Photography? Joon Powell Photography Helps Us Figure It Out.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Joon Powell is a photojournalist with more than a decade of experience. She has a passion for visual storytelling and her unique skills in photojournalism and portraiture have made her adept at documenting extra special days. Joon’s work has been published by The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Virginian-Pilot, The Tennessean, The Nashville City Paper, AARP, Wildlife in North Carolina Magazine, as well other professional periodicals. Many of Joon’s local clients include non-profits which focus on helping the homeless and those without health care.

Who would know better how to describe the photojournalistic style than...a photojournalist! I reached out to Joon of Joon Powell Photography to help you sort things out.

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How would you classify the types of wedding photography today? How does photojournalistic photography compare to those? 

Joon Powell Photography: When I look at contemporary wedding photography work, what I see often falls into either the fashion category or the photojournalism category. To me, the former is more about how things look on a wedding day while the latter is about how things feel on a wedding day. Obviously there are shades of grey between each approach but to me, these are two very different ways of thinking about photographs.

What type of bride/groom is most attracted to a photojournalistic style? What should engaged couples know about photojournalistic style/photojournalists?

Joon Powell: If you hire a photojournalist to shoot your wedding, you can expect fewer posed pictures and more candid moments: a tear rolling down dad’s cheek during the ceremony, the knowing look on a grandmother’s face as she sees her granddaughter all in white, the joy a couple exudes during their first dance. These are all very beautiful moments, and I believe a couple will be more likely to capture them and have them forever if they hire a photojournalist to document their wedding day.

Which photos of your work best illustrate photojournalism?

Joon Powell: If you hire a photojournalist, you will have more time to spend with your family, your new husband/wife and your guests, because a good photojournalist will be quiet, observant and only instructive when it comes to portraits. Also, photojournalists are used to working with diverse pools of clients, so I think they are more likely to take an active interest in the things and practices which make a wedding unique to that particular couple and their families and friends.

I've included a few photos which I feel are pretty exemplary of my approach to photographing weddings.

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Posted by Ashley King | Filed under: Advice & Planning, Photography, 0 comments »

Love Your Dress? Don’t Be Risky. Take It to a Gown Care Expert for Cleaning, Altering AND Preserving

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Did you happen to see this article about a dress mix-up a few weeks ago? It was a national news - click here - that grabbed my attention because I know the importance of taking your gown to a pro. As I read the article, I realized that the incident took place right here in Nashville!

The bride took her dress to be preserved and 26 years later, she opened her box and realized she was given the wrong dress! How can you prevent something like this? You have to start by taking your dress to one of Nashville’s best in bridal gown care, who in my opinion is Oakwood Cleaners. And this isn’t just for preserving your gown. They can help you with bridal party measurements, alterations before your wedding, and then cleaning and preserving after your big day.

I spoke with Rhonda to learn how Oakwood keeps your gown safe during alterations, cleaning, and preservation. If you choose not to go with Oakwood, (but why would you) be certain they are just as dedicated to top-notch service as Oakwood.

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Before you leave your gown with a dry cleaner:

1) Do your research. Make sure the company is reputable and don’t be afraid to ask questions until you are comfortable they can do what you need and have done so in the past.

Oakwood has been in business for 13 years and is the only cleaner in Nashville certified by the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists. (It’s green and also Nashville’s only certified couture dry cleaner.)

2) Make sure they tell you in advance what work they plan to do.

Oakwood will go over the dress with the bride and let the bride know what to expect. They will point out spots to be cleaned or places that might need repair. The bride then signs a form indicating they have been informed about what’s planned. Bride will keep a copy of what was wrong with the dress so she knows the state of the dress before she left it so she can be sure that nothing was done incorrectly to damage the dress after she left. Later they actually do a sketch and photograph the dress to document its condition.

3) Confirm that they take responsibility for your gown once in their care. Oakwood does.

4) Know how your gown should be preserved. When a gown is preserved, the company should allow the bride to see the gown when she picks it up and provide instructions for handling the gown. Oakwood always opens the box with white gloves when the bride comes to get her preserved dress. The bride is able to see her gown fully, not just through a small clear window. That allows her to see the state of the gown and ensure it is hers! Oakwood then provides instructions for caring for the preservation, such as opening the box once a year to let it breath (apparently dresses like air) and how to open it properly. You will be provided with white gloves in the box to use when you want to look at your dress. This keeps any oils or soil from contaminating your gown.

Really, if you take your gown to a pro like Oakwood, you won’t have to know all of this but if you opt for another cleaner, you need to be smart. Not every cleaner has the education and experience to handle designer attire. Your dress cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. It’s not a sweater or dress pants. So, be sure to take it to the pros and let them care from it from alterations to preservation.

Posted by Ashley King | Filed under: Alterations + Gown Preservation, Advice & Planning, After Your Wedding, 0 comments »

Discover Weddings at Sambuca: A Favorite Gulch Mingle Spot is an Even Better Wedding Venue

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Every chic Nashville woman has spent time in the Gulch. From shopping at Urban Outfitters to painting at Sips and Strokes, you've fallen in love with the area, or at minimum, you appreciate its vibe. It's centrally located, boasts incredible views of our city's skyline and is a great entertainment destination. But did you ever think that the Gulch's Sambuca, your favorite place for after work cocktails, might also be the perfect place to say I Do?

Well it is! I've always liked Sambuca. It's spacious, inviting, and sophisticated. But, until recently, I didn't realize all they offered for engaged couples. The venue can accommodate small or large wedding receptions, wedding related celebrations, and even wedding ceremonies! Based on my conversation with Dana Patel, their super helpful Event Director, they pride themselves in taking care of the busy, sophisticated bride who wants an easy but elegant wedding or event. Keep reading to learn the specifics on what they offer to see if they are a fit for you.

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Photo: Icon

How to Contact the Venue:

Name: Sambuca Restaurant
Address: 601 12th Ave., Nashville, TN 37203
Area of Town: Gulch
Main Contact: Dana Patel
Phone Number: 615.577.2173
Email Address:
Become a Facebook fan: Sambuca Nashville
Website address:

Overview of Venue:

Located near downtown Nashville in the Gulch, Sambuca is the premier location to host any party or event. Our distinctive touch breathes personality into every event, from formal wedding receptions for 400 to rehearsal dinners for 75, or bridal luncheons for 20; Sambuca has a variety of options and unique spaces to offer.

We bring to life your vision for any wedding reception, rehearsal dinner, or bridal party. We will ensure a memorable and meaningful event, for every budget. Our events engage the senses through tantalizing food, gorgeous ambiance and nightly live entertainment.

Payment options accepted: Cash, credit cards

What options does your venue offer for engaged couples?

Daytime Wedding Ceremony
Evening Wedding Ceremony
Wedding Receptions
Bridal Showers
Rehearsal Dinners, Wedding-related Parties

What type of event space is available?

We have several options for private dining areas:

First, Our Balinese Dining room is our second floor, balcony style dining room overlooking the main dining room and stage. This room has the best view in the house of our live music that begins each night at 7:30pm. This room holds up to 40 people for a seated dinner. Next, The Sky Loft is our completely glass enclosed dining room with a gorgeous view of the Nashville Sky Line. This room holds up to 80 people for a seated dinner, buffet or cocktail party with hors d’oeuvres and comes with complimentary valet parking, live music, and use of our AV system.

Also, brides have the option of reserving our entire second floor. This space includes The Sky Loft, our completely glass enclosed dining room, our balcony style dining room, and a private bar and lounge. This space holds up to 150 for a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres party or 120 for a seated dinner. With this we include complimentary valet parking, live music, and use of our AV system.

Finally, we offer the option to reserve our entire venue for parties of 200-400 people. Renting our entire restaurant gives guests complete control of the space. They are able to choose between a fabulous 5 course dinner, buffet, or heavy hors d’oeuvres. We provide a band, security, and valet parking.

How many people can you accommodate? Up to 400

How many events do you take per day? Varies depending on the size of the events

Is outside catering or beverages allowed? No, we provide all catering and beverages

Is an on-site event coordinator available? Yes

What is your pricing model?
~ Our packages range from $25-$60 per person
~ We never charge room rental fees; however, we do have food and beverage minimums depending on the day of the week and room being used.

Which bride budgets do you serve?
~ All

What attracts couples to your venue for their wedding? What are your key selling points?
We typically have modern, trendy couples who like the downtown feel without having to fight the crowds and noise of Broadway.

What makes your venue so unique from a service perspective?
We offer a “one stop shop” for your wedding. Sambuca is able to take care of the food, beverages, music, and décor for weddings and receptions.

What else should brides know about your venue?
Sambuca is a gorgeous venue in the hottest neighborhood in Nashville. Sambuca’s catering team works with each bride to ensure that her wedding is unique and special. We offer amazing food, service, and ambience without any hidden fees or last minute charges.

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The Sky Loft 

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Photos: Photo shoot and party at Sambuca by Gregory Byerline Photographer (above and below)

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Photos: rehearsal dinner by Elliott Events at Sambuca (above) 


I loved Sambuca's Atlanta location because it had the best jazz and brunch, so it proved to be a great idea for a bridal shower. The Nashville location has the same, if not better, characteristics. I've been to birthday parties, dates, and networking events at Nashville's Sambuca. And every time I go, I discover something newer, better. Their Sky Loft is their newest addition and it's spectacular!  


Posted by Ashley King | Filed under: Helpful Vendor Interviews!, Engagements & Proposals, Wedding Venues and Locations, 0 comments »

J. Crew Shopping, Z Gallerie Living, Career Oriented Gal? I’ve Got the Wedding Designer for You!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Every bride has a wedding style. Your style doesn't change when you get engaged. So don't let Pinterest, bridal mags, your best friend's wedding, change your style. It's uniquely you. And it's fabulous! The key, as you plan your wedding, is to stay true to your (and his) personality. And, then, to find a wedding team - from your designer and venue to your photographer - who complement or even enhance your style.

Rhonda Patton of Rhonda Patton Weddings and Events works with stylish brides. She knows her bride. And her bride knows she's met the right event designer as soon as she sees Rhonda's work.  

The question is - is Rhonda Patton right for you? Here's how I would describe the Rhonda Patton bride...

She is modern, feminine, sophisticated, confident, and career oriented. She's engaged and marrying a wonderful man, but she's way to career minded to swoon for hours over every little detail. Instead, she checks out Pinterest on her iPhone, pins a few things she loves and then hires a professional wedding team. Her fashion sense is obvious and so style is a top priority. Her team immediately "gets" her so she trusts them to execute in a flawless way while she gets back to life, work, the things that matter most to her. 



The Rhonda Patton Bride - Look 1: The Carats, Cocktails, and Contracts Attorney   

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She wears: Banana Republic, J Crew, Gap - timeless looks mixed with trendy accents

She works: a demanding career as a lawyer, entrepreneur, accountant, money manager, business executive, doctor

Her home: styled with furniture and accessories from Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Z. Gallerie, Crate and Barrel, West Elm

Her wedding style: fashionable, trendy with some classics, cosmopolitan, chic, glamorous, classy, elegant, striking, and luxurious

She demands: excellence, refinement, opulence, and a strong attention to detail



The Rhonda Patton Bride - Look 2: The Color-Me-Fab Creative Director

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The Rhonda Patton Bride - Look 3: The Powerful but Playful Partner

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The Rhonda Patton Bride - Look 4: The City Chic, Just Moved from Chicago Gal

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The Rhonda Patton Bride - Look 5: The Timeless, Elegant Executive

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The Rhonda Patton Bride - Look 6: The Eco-Style Editor

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You know if you are a Rhonda Patton girl. Contact her if you are. You will LOVE working with her. Your demand for excellence may make some run but you know what you want and are willing to pay for a top notch team, like other Rhonda Patton brides.

If none of this resonates with you, don't fret. Just be clear on your style and check out our bridal directory. There's bound to be a designer, planner, photographer who is perfect for you!

Photos: All wed photos from real Rhonda Patton designed weddings; all others, retailers' websites.

Posted by Ashley King | Filed under: Florals, Details & Design , Luxury Nashville Wedding Finds, 0 comments »

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