A Classic Black-Tie Wedding at Historic Nashville Estate

Get the inside scoop of a wedding writer's dream day, 16 years in the making. Photography by Julie Paisley Photography. Venue, Planning + Floral by Cedarwood Weddings.

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

Photo By: Julie Paisley Photography

A Formal Invitation

As a wedding writer, I knew that, to bring this dream day into fruition, we had to set the tone for guests immediately with the proper invitations. We worked with Designs in Paper to create this all-white invitation suite, printed with clean, black serif font. The serif alternated in size and italics to create movement, while sleek, black stripes created a polished detail. The suite was wrapped in a milky velum jacket, tied with ivory string and stamped with a statement-making ivory wax seal. The vintage crescent moon design was used to nod towards our song, Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra.

Historic Cedarwood Estate

Our wedding and reception took place at the Historic Cedarwood Estate in Nashville, Tennessee. We knew this was "the" venue as soon as we pulled up the drive to this handsome 1835 Antebellum home. There was something purely magical about the lush landscaping, the rolling hills and the dreamy Mooncake Lake. On June 2nd, Cedarwood Weddings’ dynamic design team used lush greenery to create a striking arch against the home’s white facade and draped elegant ivory curtains along the covered side porch, as a lavish touch.

Gilded Guest Book

We kept with tradition and asked guests to sign a white and gold guest book upon arrival. Pro tip: Plan to provide pretty pens. Our design team made good use of our glam golden set and repurposed them as props for some of our detail photos.

Our Heirloom Inspiration

My engagement ring is an heirloom, first given to my great-grandmother Anna Maria, by a handsome fellow named Joseph Pagnotta in 1932. Eight-six years later Anna Maria’s namesake (me!) wore the same ring to marry another very handsome fellow named Joseph. Our serendipitous and intertwined love stories inspired us to pull from their era, and our shared ring, to design our day. The ring showcases the art deco period, and all its glitz and glamour, with an old European cut stone set within a geometric diamond halo, milgrain detailing and intricate, geometric engravings cascading along the band.

The Can't-Miss Bridal Details

Can you say dreamy? Our photographers worked with the Cedarwood Design team to showcase my veil, my prized "something blue" stilettos and my beautiful bridal blooms. The bouquet was tied off with a silk ivory ribbon and featured all my favorite florals: gardenias, orchids, peonies, ranunculus, garden roses, spray roses, sweet peas, white lilac, willow eucalyptus and silver dollar eucalyptus.

The Dress

Every bride needs this one-on-one moment to admire her dress — before slipping into it (and inevitably staining it) for the rest of the day. Invest in a beautiful robe that is in keeping with the look of your day, treat yourself to luxurious slippers and be sure to snag a bespoke dress hanger, too. I opted for a light wooden hanger with "Mrs. Tramontana" and our wedding date scribed across the front and back in white calligraphy.

Intricate Art Deco Details

My art deco engagement ring influenced every detail of my bridal ensemble. I nodded to the era of glamour with my intricate, beaded dress bodice, geometric chandelier earrings and my "something borrowed" diamond bracelet. Thanks, Mom!

No Peeking

First looks are for bridesmaids, too! Brides, do yourself a favor and savor this moment with all the most important women in your life. These girls helped shape me into the woman I am today, and I will never forget their smiles, squeals and tears when I turned around in my wedding dress.

A Glimpse of the Groom

Pro tip: Spend time sourcing small, sentimental touches for your photographer to incorporate in detail shots for both you and your groom. Joey proposed to me Mr. Big-style with my something blue: the coveted Manolo Blahnik Hangisi pumps. When I stumbled across this romantic trinket tray, I knew I had to have it to style with his bow tie and accessories on our wedding day. It was a need, friends. Not a want.

Paying Homage With Ivory Orchids

I encourage you to think outside the box when paying tribute to family and tradition on your wedding day. My adoring grandmother spent her entire life hoping that I would marry a "nice, Italian boy" one day. When she met Joey, she knew that he was the answer to all her dreams for me, and she passed just four days after he proposed. When she walked down the aisle to my grandfather in June 1956, she carried a bouquet of orchids. We chose to honor her on our day by incorporating ivory orchids into our fathers’ boutonnieres and bouquets.

A Gardenia for the Groom

While the rest of the men wore orchids, my groom paid tribute to me by wearing my all-time favorite bloom: the gardenia. The delicate, ivory flower boasts an intoxicating fragrance and represents refinement and love — all in all, a true embodiment of our wedding day. There was something oh-so-sophisticated about the way the soft petals popped against his custom, midnight tuxedo, don’t you think?

Sleek Stitched Tuxedo

The master tailors at Stitch-It & Co. in Nashville, Tennessee, enhanced Joey’s bespoke tuxedo by adding a secret, sentimental embroidery of our wedding date under his collar. They chose royal blue thread and a coordinating blue jacket liner, as a nod to my special "something blue" shoes.

Down the Hatch

Drown your jitters in style. Don’t overlook the impact of chic drinkware for those pre-ceremony celebration photo ops, peeps! I scouted out this classy Old Fashioned glass that features a glamorous gilded rim with the phrase "Down the Hatch, Down the Aisle" wrapped along the side in a timeless serif font.

Last Single Look

I tell Joey everything, and keeping my wedding dress a secret for an entire year was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. His reaction was well worth the wait, though. Our first look took place under a stately magnolia tree, on the side of the Antebellum home. I was adamant about this exact spot because it not only offered us a bright, white backdrop that fit perfectly with our all-ivory day, but the side of the traditional home felt reminiscent of another huge inspiration for our day: the dreamy backyard wedding from Father of the Bride. The only thing missing was the bevy of swans in the bathtub upstairs. Joey wouldn’t get on board with the birds.

Gift for Father of the Bride

I’m a daddy’s little girl, through and through, no questions asked. Sharing this first look with him was something that I have, simultaneously, looked forward to and totally dreaded for my entire life. I softened the emotional moment by gifting him with a stunning, cobalt handkerchief with "for my father on my wedding day" embroidered in soft blue cursive and a glittering, gold scallop trim. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember laughing together, and this goes down as one of my most treasured memories of our day.

Portraits on the Porch

After first looks with my father and groom, I posed for individual portraits with my bridal party on the front porch. My bridesmaids were the epitome of elegance, dressed in ivory crepe gowns that alternated between an off-the-shoulder or bateau neckline. I met my stunning maid of honor, Elizabeth, in the third grade, and her presence kept my nerves at bay before I walked down the aisle.

Soaring Pavilion + String Processionals

The al fresco ceremony took place on a lush, rolling meadow on Cedarwood grounds. Two cellists performed to the left of our ceremony, in front of the soaring white cathedral pavilion where our reception took place. One by one, my loved ones walked down the aisle — the parents’ processional was Edelweiss, followed by the bridal party walking to Moon River. I made my grand entrance, arm in arm with my dad, to the Etta James classic, At Last. Our recessional was our song — Fly Me to the Moon.

Vows With Romantic Tennessee Views

We exchanged our vows beneath a classic floral arch, overflowing with ivory blooms. Our closest friends and family supported us from the comfort of simple, wooden chairs. I selected the wood finish instead of white for our ceremony chairs to ensure eyes were drawn immediately to the opulent ivory blooms and the wedding party at the altar. I feel that using white chairs with an all-ivory bridal party would lend itself to appearing visually cluttered in photographs.

All Dressed Up in Ivory

The ivory bridesmaids’ gowns aided in creating the timeless, classic and ethereal aesthetic of our wedding day. Merlot, mustard and millennial pink will come and go, but I feel confident that ivory will never appear dated, especially for a wedding. I mean, just ask Kate Middleton. To create distinction between myself and my girls, I selected bridesmaids’ dresses with necklines that differed from my own and asked them to wear their hair off their shoulders.

Floral Arch + Formal Portraits

Our traditional floral arch overflowed with water oak, fluffy white peonies and a fragrant mix of white garden and spray roses. During the ceremony, the arch anchored our altar and afterwards, it served as a spectacular backdrop for formal portraits. This portrait is extra special to me because I feel it encapsulates that classic, timeless aesthetic we hoped for while planning the day.

Chic Celebration

Our wedding party never really needs a cause to celebrate, but we puckered up and gave 'em one anyways!

Post Ceremony Sprint

Are those our adorable flower girls frolicking through the grassy meadow, or is this a real-life image of our bridesmaids and groomsmen hauling towards the open bar at cocktail hour? It’s hard to say, really.

A Front Porch Welcome From Father of the Bride

Cocktail hour took place on the front yard of the estate. With my beautiful mom by his side, my dad kicked off the festivities with a joke-laden welcome speech and toast from the front porch.

A Classic Coupe Pour

Pop! Fizz! Clink! Nothing exudes Old Hollywood glitz and glamour quite like a classic coupe pour. In my mind, this itsy-bitsy detail was a true cornerstone of our day and a non-negotiable must to bring our vision to life. We put our twist on the classic and showered the coupes in prosecco, instead of champagne, as a nod to our Italian roots.

Custom Watercolor + Calligraphy Cocktail Menus

Our custom watercolor cocktail menu was a last-minute Etsy find that totally elevated our bar. And yes, our signature cocktail was just as thirst quenching and (dangerously!) delicious as it appears on paper.

Salute!

We used our cocktail as another tribute to our Italian heritage. "The Lucky Fellow" was named after a line from the infectiously happy Dean Martin song, That’s Amore. Our guests gushed over the fresh, summery taste and chic presentation. Recreate at home by combining limoncello and prosecco with fresh lemon slices and blueberries. Serve over ice, garnish with mint. Salute!

Find Your Seat

As cocktail hour ended, guests referred to this unbelievably elegant and statuesque escort display to find their table number for the plated dinner.

Airy Acrylic Menu

My incredibly talented best friend and interior designer, Jenna Chambers, gifted us with this gorgeous hand-lettered acrylic menu that displayed each course in Italian. Waiters passed around caprese skewers and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus during cocktail hour for guests to enjoy. Once seated, guests started with a Caesar salad and assorted fresh-baked bread, followed by an entrée of filet mignon and rosemary chicken, grilled vegetables and twice-baked potatoes.

Opulent Ivory Centerpieces

The candlelit dinner took place beneath Cedarwood’s striking cathedral pavilion, dripped in strings of sparkling lights. Guests sat comfortably in beautiful wooden chairs with an x-back design — an upgrade that was well worth the investment. My biggest tip for elevating an event is by upgrading from the basic folding chair because 140 chairs take up a huge part of the reception’s visual field. Our opulent centerpieces boasted all-white blooms including: peonies, garden roses, spray roses, roses, scabiosa, stock, lilac, dusty miller, silver dollar eucalyptus and willow eucalyptus.

Candlelit Conversation

The dinner reception featured round tables set for 10 and long, banquet tables set for 30+. Cedarwood nestled pops of peonies and roses in between classic glass hurricanes and pillar candles in varied heights to create a sense of intimacy and warmth for our long tables. Each guest was gifted a favor of a gold bottle opener of the word "Love" on their napkin. (Another subtle tribute to Mr. Big and Carrie Bradshaw that only a true fan could spot!)

The Best Seats in the House

We shared our first meal together as a married couple with the best, most beautiful view of our friends and family. (And, admittedly, a few cocktails to take the edge off our first dance.)

Mambo Italiano

What kind of Italian wedding would it be without a cameo from this dashing duo? Dean and Frank hold an extra-special spot in our hearts — so much so, in fact, that we invested in this framed photograph for our living room, and decided to bring it along to set the tone, right outside the dance floor.

Our Best Investments

I’ve envisioned myself floating around in a white dress, hand in hand with my handsome husband, dancing to a live band, on a black-and-white checkered dance floor since I started scheming this whole day in 1998. This dance floor was my #1 must-have for the entire wedding day. (As in, I’d sooner elope than wed without this thing.) Aside from the dance floor, Joey and I agree that our best investment was in Erik Blue Band. Once we dipped and twirled throughout our first dance (Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest), Erik Blue Band kept our guests on their feet and sweating like crazy, all night long. Save up for live music. There’s nothing like it.

End the Evening With Cake

The only thing sweeter than married life was our wedding cake! The layers were composed of dark chocolate fudge and heavenly white cake, dressed in white cream cheese icing with gold piping along the edge. How beautiful are those pops of fresh blooms cascading along the side?

And Seal It With a Kiss

Marriage tip #1: Always save room at the end of the night for sweet kisses like this one. (Even after you indulge in a few too many cocktails or slices of cake. But especially when you have a professional photographer there to document said kiss and use your wedding veil to create this mysterious, artsy masterpiece.)

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