A Southern-Meets-Mediterranean Vibe Elevated This Wedding at the Bride's Parent's Tennessee Estate
Lilly Gianikas didn't have to think twice about where she wanted her wedding to Blake Taylor to take place: Her parents' beautiful home overlooking a golf course in Nashville, Tennessee, was her first choice. "I have wanted an at-home wedding ever since I saw Father of the Bride, which is one of my all-time favorite movies," says Lilly. "I think there's something really special about having a wedding at the home where you grew up—it's like things coming full circle. That chapter of your life is closing, and you're starting a new chapter with your own family—and what better way to celebrate that transition than throwing a huge party with all of your closest friends and family?"
The bride knew she wanted their big day to have an intimate, casual, yet elegant feel, "like an ethereal, al-fresco, Mediterranean-inspired garden party," she clarifies. "I'm half Greek, so I wanted to honor that part of my heritage and incorporate Greek food, olive trees, and olive branches. Blake and I aren't very traditional people, so I really wanted the experience to be completely unique and stand apart from your typical southern wedding."
Preparing the property to host the September 28, 2019, ceremony for 75 and a reception for 200 took some work; Page and Windrow Event Planning worked with the Gianikases to update the house and yard. "Lilly and her father are an incredible team," says Dana Windrow. "Lilly's dad is a property builder/manager, and Lilly has her own interior-design business, so it was wonderful to see this new partnership flourish when it came to production. Her dad was so open to looking at the existing landscape of the home, and working on the production side of things, like the leveling of the yard, structure work, and digging into the back of house—nitty-gritty items to make things functionally run."
The end result of their true team effort? A unique event that captured the couple's vision and set a beautiful backdrop for an amazing experience. "When the day comes, soak in every part of this surreal moment where all of your closest friends and family are gathered together, for probably the first and last time in your lives, to celebrate you as a couple," Lilly says to other couples currently planning. "That's what you remember when it's all over."
Lilly's wedding dress featured an intricate floral lace bodice—in a pattern reminiscent of olive branches—and a crepe skirt. Cap sleeves with a scalloped detail, and a low, open back with buttons down the skirt gave the gown the relaxed vibe she was after. "I had been looking at Laure de Sagazon dresses from the beginning online, and I think I was comparing every dress I tried on to her specific 'cool girl' French style," she says. "There weren't any retailers that carried her near me, but after months of looking my mom said, 'Let's just go to New York.' We ended up finding the perfect dress from this chic bridal boutique, The Mews Bridal, who only carried French designers. It was such a great experience." She added a classic cathedral-length veil—a beauty with minimal adornment.
"The Tulip Tree created the bouquet of my dreams," says the bride of the organic arrangement of blush-and-green blooms, including scabiosa, Juliet garden roses, French lavender, mint, seeded eucalyptus, Atrantia, rice flower, Malaya gem spray rose in blush, and veronica. "My something old and blue was my late grandmother's handkerchief, which was tied around my bouquet," she adds.
Blake wore a custom blue suit by Steven Richards of Richards Bespoke, who is actually one of his college friends. "Since the suit was completely custom, there were a lot of unique details, including Blake's initials embroidered on the cuff of his shirt; our wedding date was embroidered underneath the collar of his jacket," says Lilly. The ensemble's green lining was also special: It featured a pattern of German Short Haired Pointers, the breed of one of the couple's dog, Millie.
Soothing First Look
The couple's first look calmed their nerves. "I instantly felt relaxed because we were in it together now," says Lilly.
"We also had our dogs brought in for a couple of photos, which made us both really happy—they mean the world to us."
A Father-Daughter Moment
The bride also shared a first look with her dad. "I've always been a 'daddy's girl,' so that was really special," says Lilly. "I thought we'd both be super emotional, but we just kind of goofed around with each other like we tend to do in serious moments."
The House That Built Her
Flooring was brought in to elevate guests for the ceremony, which was situated overlooking the treetops and rolling hills of the golf course. A massive arbor with flowers in soft shades of blush and white served as an anchor for the vow exchange, while two lush potted trees framed the beginning of the aisle. "But the best part," says planner Dana Windrow of Page and Windrow Event Planning, "was that Lilly's aisle truly began by walking off her back porch and onto the yard of her childhood home. There is nothing like that experience!"
A string quartet played "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Pereti, Crestore, and Weiss for Lilly's walk down the aisle.
Lilly wrote the entire wedding ceremony—she did some online research and found a non-religious template that she edited to her liking. "I wrote some of my own words, and re-worded some parts of the template that felt true to me," she explains. "Our officiant, Andra Moran, then took what I wrote and made it fit for the actual structure of the ceremony. The end result was perfect."
Poems and Vows
Two poems were read during the service: Pablo Neruda's "Sonnet XVII" and Maya Angelou's "Touched by an Angel," which were read by Blake's brother, Robert Kelley. "Both poems are so inherently beautiful and describe love in a way that feels so real and true to me," says Lilly.
A Spectacular Reception Design
The reception design cleverly combined southern comfort with a Mediterranean vibe. The dining area was filled with a mix of long king tables covered with pots of fresh herbs and votives and rounds with white linen tablecloths and olive tree centerpieces, surrounded with lemons and herbs. Hanging basket pendants draped with greenery were strung overhead; bamboo seating wove the look textural together.
A clear tent over the dance floor was crowned with a giant floral chandelier.
Fresh for the Table
Herbs, fresh-cut flowers, and lavender were artfully arranged on tables.
A Bountiful Installation
The bar was marked with a massive floral centerpiece highlighted with dry grasses.
A beautiful display over the buffet featured single stems of dahlias in decorative glass vials.
The reception space may have looked effortless, but it was actually the result of hard work. Lilly, her parents, and their planning team worked on the lawn for months to ensure it was lush and soft enough for loved ones to kick off their shoes and relax on the big night. "We planted lavender around the perimeter, so when guests stepped off the back porch of the house and into the tent, the subtle scent captured you," says Dana. Lilly and her mother also selected incense that was planted into the surrounding flowerbeds, to add to the guests' experience.
"It was about building an ethereal, dreamy space that didn't overwhelm a guest, but excited their senses and transported them to a fresh and original place," Dana explains. When the couple got to walk into the tent for the first time, they were amazed with how magical everything was. "It was everything I had been dreaming of this entire time, and to see it all come together was such a surreal moment," says Lilly. "We were greeted by family and friends and there was just such a positive, loving energy in the air."
A Delightfully Understated Cake
Dulce Desserts created a semi-naked cake for the couple; layers peeked through the icing. Fresh flowers accented the tiers, and an acrylic base gave the confection a suspended effect. The cake was displayed inside the home for cutting, nestled into the big bay window of the family room, which was visible from the tent.
The First Dance
"We chose Etta James' 'At Last' for our first dance," explains Lilly; she and Black swayed to the classic song on their dance floor, which was backlit with a custom neon sign from Shop Narwall. "It was down to that and 'Island in the Stream' with Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, which we love, but we ultimately went with 'At Last' because it was slower and easier to dance to. Plus it's such a romantic, dreamy song."
On the Dance Floor
The Atlanta All Stars kept guests on their feet, joining them on the dance floor—instruments and all—to get everyone involved in the party.
The evening ended with an amazing fireworks display over the golf course—a surprise courtesy of Lilly's parents. "We were blown away that the wedding was over so quickly (it really is true what they say about it going by so fast!), but it was such a cool way to end the night and the best send-off ever!" Lilly says.
Photography, Elizabeth Lanier Photography
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Page and Windrow Event Planning
Videography, Half Shell Films
Flowers, The Tulip Tree
Invitations and Stationery, The Paper Place
Save-the-Dates, Mary Deaton Heldman
Officiant, Reverend Andra Moran
Bride's Gown, Laure de Sagazan
Veil, Laure de Sagazan
Bridal Salon, The Mews Bridal
Jewelry, Clark Heldman
Shoes, Laure de Sagazan
Hair and Makeup, Kat Derickson
Grooms Attire, Richards Bespoke
Engagement Ring, Herb Berry
Wedding Bands, King Jewelers
Guest Book, Starboard Press
Music, Sam Levine Musicians (ceremony and dinner); The Atlanta All Stars (reception)
Catering, Kristen Winston Catering
Cake, Dulce Desserts
Rentals, Liberty Party Rental; Mayker Events; Music City Tents and Events; Nashville Tent and Awning; Please Be Seated; Spark Vintage
Lighting, Bright Event Productions
Flooring, Liberty Party Rentals
Neon Sign, Shop Narwall
Draping, Quest Events
Photo Booth, The Flash Bar
Fireworks, Pyro Shows
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