An Unexpected Pink-and-Gold Color Palette Made a Splash at This Autumn Wedding in Atlanta
When Clare and Nate met as coworkers in 2016, they were each seeing someone else; when they reconnected a year later at a mutual friend's housewarming party, the timing was finally on their side. "We had a tight knit group of friends from work who loved to go dancing in New York, particularly to dive bars in the Lower East Side," says Clare. "I had had a crush on Nate for a while—it was over excellent music and cheap beer that our love grew." In March 2020, Nate surprised Clare with a proposal on their favorite bench in Central Park, where they would take their dog for daily walks. "He sat me down, and he had written a book to document the journey of our love," says Clare. "At this point, I was so excited that I nearly passed out from the crying, and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him."
Their wedding venue was an easy choice: Clare grew up near the Atlanta History Center's Swan House in Atlanta, Georgia, and dreamed of tying the knot there. "I wanted to be married surrounded by family and amidst trees, which always make me feel grounded," she says. "The Swan House is a stunning historical house, steeped in history, attached to a museum, and in the heart of the city with the biggest airport in the world—we couldn't ask for more." After studying art history and working as a wedding photographer, she also had a clear vision for the aesthetic and atmosphere of their big day: a color palette of pink, gold, evergreen, and French blue, and a classic, timeless vibe. "I described my vision to my vendors as 'classic, yet modern, romantic garden,'" she says. "I wanted to capture fall colors in all of their glory—not the darker reds and greens that you tend to see, but the golds and the pinks. That's how I think of fall."
When the couple said "I do" on November 6, 2021, they were surrounded by 156 friends and family, shaded by gold-leafed autumn trees, and backed by the ornate Swan House. As they celebrated with Champagne, three different wedding cakes, and a full dance floor—bolstered by a playlist of their favorite songs—Clare saw all her wedding dreams come true. "My vision for our wedding had started many years before," she says. "I knew I wanted to marry Nate almost immediately, and with him, I knew exactly how I wanted it to feel. I wanted our wedding to be a gathering of our dearest loved ones, full of joy, laughter, and dancing."
One and Done
Moontree Letterpress designed a save-the-date and invitation suite featuring a gingko leaf—a nod to the bride's favorite tree and her childhood home. "Growing up, my parents planted a ginkgo tree in our front yard, and having it featured on our suite was a warm reminder of my family and my sisters," says the bride.
Choosing the Atlanta History Center's Swan House was a no-brainer for the couple. "I truly love the Swan House and the Atlanta History Center for so many reasons," she says. "It felt like a sanctuary in my hometown of Atlanta, and I loved the variety on the property." Nate was so familiar with Clare's appreciation of the space, that he took the lead on wedding planning, holding a date at the Swan House before he proposed. "We got engaged and confirmed the reservation at the Swan House the next day," says Clare.
Second Time's the Charm
Clare's mid-pandemic, solo wedding-dress shopping trips landed her at Kleinfeld Bridal, where she found her ivory Mikado silk Reem Acra gown—but didn't purchase it. "I bought a different dress because I thought the silk would be too hot in November," she says. "But I kept thinking about it. I felt the most like me in this dress, and it was the perfect combination of modern and timeless." She canceled her first order and returned to the store for another look at the long-sleeved ballgown and its Regency-inspired scoop neck. "It was the most magical dress I had ever put on," she says. "I felt like I was glowing."
Clare's bridal stylist recommended a gold floral headpiece from Maria Elena in lieu of a veil. "I thought I wanted a veil, but I felt constrained with each one I put on," she says. "I fell instantly in love: The gold worked well with my red hair, and it was the right level of sparkle to balance out a very formal structured dress."
Pretty in Pink
Clare asked her bridesmaids to choose their own pink Jenny Yoo gowns, relishing the complementary shades and fabrics. "I wanted them to feel their most themselves, and I absolutely was in love with how it turned out," she says. "I'm biased, but my bridesmaids are just the most gorgeous women in the world."
Touch of Blue
Gold and Bloom created understated round bouquets in the couple's custom fall color palette, incorporating garden roses, lisianthus, scabiosa, and chrysanthemums. Clare's arrangement also included a single, small blue tweedia—a subtle way of honoring her late grandmother, whose sapphire ring the bride wore. "It felt like a sign from her," says Clare.
Nate chose a Ralph Lauren Purple Label tuxedo, which he wore with his grandfather's cuff links while carrying his grandmother's rosary. "The groomsmen all wore tuxes of their choosing," says Clare. "I wanted some variety in their looks, and they delivered. I loved the depth and personality that their details brought. They are amazing guys, and they looked so handsome."
So Happy Together
After a first look with her bridesmaids ("The ultimate hype girls," says Clare) and her father ("So special!"), Clare and Nate met for portraits in front of the Swan House's iconic columns. "I was over the moon to see Nate," she says. "I wasn't nervous, I was just filled with so much excitement. The day felt like it really started when we saw each other."
A dramatic tiered fountain flanked by stone staircases led from the Swan House to the ground level ceremony, where a floral arch was covered with orange, gold, and pink blooms. "I was certain that I wanted a floral arch, and I wanted it to feel lush and organic—like we were blooming out of the center of it," says Clare. "I knew Atlanta would be in true form in November, so I wanted a warm wood for the chairs to complement the greens and golds of the surrounding trees." As guests arrived to the ceremony, the couple passed Champagne, "and everyone toasted as we had our first kiss," says Clare.
Words of Love
Both of Clare's parents escorted her from the house down the stairs to the altar. "I wanted them both with me there, and I could see Nate from above. It was the perfect culmination of the joy and emotion of the day," she says, "and a quiet moment of pause before a true eruption of joy." Nate's brother officiated the ceremony, which included readings from Les Miserables and the song "Make Me Better," plus a sentimental piece of Nate's family history: a letter from his grandmother to his grandfather written while they were separated during World War II. "It was a truly perfect ceremony, and we both sobbed the entire time," says Clare.
In Their Own Words
The couple also chose to write their own vows. "We were firm on doing this," says Clare. "We talked about our day-to-day lives and how we are true partners. Standing up there, I was promising my best friend to love him forever, and I felt the exact same about his. They were perfect."
Celebration String Quartet played "Ode to Joy" for the couple's recessional, "which felt fitting for the immense amounts of love and happiness we were feeling," says Clare. "Walking back down the aisle with Nate and looking into the eyes of our favorite people was the best moment of the day. I was honestly overwhelmed—we were showered in rose petals, and it was better than I could have ever imagined."
Ready to Celebrate
After the ceremony, the newlyweds joined their guests for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres while the string quartet performed a lineup of Clare and Nate's requests. "We curated a list of everything from our favorite movie scores and jazz to '90s love songs ("All My Life," anyone?!) to serenade folks before the party started," she says. "One of my favorite details was a full pathway of pillar candles guiding our guests from the cocktail hour to the reception. It felt so romantic and provided a glowing aura as folks walked over."
Attention to Detail
The couple chose the property's Grand Overlook ballroom for their reception, where the wedding party sat at a single long table next to the custom dance floor and twinkling garlands draped across the ceiling. "A checkerboard dance floor was very important to me," says Clare, "[and] I was conscious of the incredible ceiling height in the ballroom—I wanted to make it feel more intimate."
Clare's vision included taper and votive candles to accent the low, warm-toned centerpieces. "I loved the twinkling ambience that taper candles bring, especially in a large ballroom," she says. Bold Catering provided a menu of food stations, including a Mediterranean-inspired table with salads and smoked salmon, fried chicken, and shrimp and grits.
Three of a Kind
A trio of asymmetrical confections from Cake Envy included one-, two-, and three-tier designs, each accented by "delicate modern florals and a stunner of a bow," says Clare. The bride and groom chose three flavor combinations: dark chocolate with caramel mousse, almond with strawberry mousse, and Funfetti with lemon curd.
On the Dance Floor
For their first dance, Clare and Nate chose their favorite tune for slow dancing in their kitchen—"You Send Me." "We would sing it and dance as our pasta cooked, and I couldn't imagine dancing to anything else," she says. They continued the party with a lineup of handpicked hits. "Dancing was a really important part of our early relationship, and still is, and we knew we wanted a lively dance floor for as long as we could have it," she says. "We danced late into the night under the twinkly lights, and we only lost one (maybe two) glasses."
Photography, Perry Vaile
Location, Atlanta History Center
Event planning, Luxe Atlanta
Catering, Bold Catering
Flowers, Gold and Bloom
Videography, Life in Rewind
Stationery, Moontree Lettepress
Cake, Cake Envy
Music, Celebration String Quartet
Bride's gown, Reem Acra
Bride's accessories, Maria Elena headpiece; Frye shoes; Adriana Orsini earrings
Makeup, Emily Juarez for Beauty Asylum
Bridesmaids' dresses, Jenny Yoo
Groom's attire, Ralph Lauren
Lighting, Active Lighting & Production
Transportation, Atlantic Limousine and Transportation
Engagement ring, Taylor and Hart
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