Warning you might want to grab a beverage and comfortable chair…
The most important detail is how my relationship with the Babbage family began.
A DC in 2017 for the youngest daughter of a long-time client…now chosen family led to me finally meeting the DC roommate; a bridesmaid. At our first meeting the roommate embraced me. Obviously, she knew Mr. Tim. Fast forward to the end of a wonderful weekend full of family, love, laughter…and of course food and flowers…Lizzie’s family calls it TimMagic. The roommate, now Julie, the Lexington Bride wanted me to meet her parent’s. Laura was gorgeous, radiant and equally as loving as her daughter. Bob was strikingly debonair and offered heartfelt compliments regarding the events they had enjoyed. As they started to walk away Bob shook my hand and stated, “When it’s our turn…we’ll be calling”. Fast forward again to April 2020 and my phone rang…
Me: This is Tim
Julie: Mr. Tim, this is Julie Babbage, Lizzie’s roommate from DC.
God love her. She didn’t remember the statement her Dad had made. However, I had been holding the phone since December 20, 2019 when she posted her engagement photo.
That phone call included the budget talk and other details. The next phone call was to “welcome me to the Babbage family”. How wonderful!!! Other than getting confirmation of being hired the second most memorable thing from that call was Laura saying, “Tim, I won’t be involved very much. I just want you to make everything beautiful”. 😳 More on that later. 🤣
The phone call began a series of phone calls plus enough text’s and email’s to create a Doctoral Thesis titled Weddings: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back…Deep Breath…Repeat. It’s was just like all the weddings I’ve designed…oh wait…oh, hell no it wasn’t. We were in a Pandemic. Julie and I planned everything VIRTUALLY. Not because I didn’t live in Lexington but because it was before the vaccine. I literally did 75% of the details sitting on our sofa and certainly before I stepped foot in the venues. There was only once when I came close to backing out. I’m severely OCD. The image of Historic St. Paul Catholic Church posted on their website showed the altar obviously off-center. The contract clearly stated no furniture on the Chancel could be moved. Creating a ceremony storyboard was excruciating.
Before calling, Julie had already reserved the church and the reception venue as well as contacting the hair and make-up team. Again, we were in the middle of a Pandemic. Bride’s were canceling 2020 weddings and booking 2021. Julie thought she was being safe pushing all the way to Labor Day weekend 2021. Spring 2020 we never EVER thought we would still be dealing with Covid seventeen months later. We tried to think positive and began the process of creating the aesthetic for the Bridesmaid’s as well as narrowing down the style and silhouette for the Bridal Gown. Of course, we weren’t able to schedule appointments with bridal salon’s and meet each other for fun days of shopping and dreaming. The emails and texts started flying like we were planning for a shot gun wedding. I was concerned about everything we had to order, have altered and especially the gown arriving in time for the bridal portrait sitting and framing.
We went through shades of blue, coral, pastels, neutral and a mix of blues, coral and green. It seemed to take forever and I know I inundated Julie with too many options. Looking back at the emails it was only a month when I found this…..↙️
Which led me to this ⬇️
Notice the bridesmaid third from left. That’s my DC Bride, Lizzie. I immediately thought of Lizzie when I saw the velvet dress. As I searched the BHLDN website the collection fell into place. We made some edits due to availability but for the most part the dresses and color palette were determined a month after “the call”. BHLDN called their collection Sedona. We used that for a while because everyone wants to know “what are your colors”. There seems to be a lot of white weddings in Kentucky. It’s Bourbon country and as I got deeper into all the elements and the special touches of the wedding I started calling the color palette Tawny Bourbon. I honestly don’t know that anyone knew that except me. However, those words gave me a mental picture which helped pull the entire production together. We went completely outside the palette on both sides of the spectrum which gave all the elements a painterly touch. Then, we added copper for a metallic element.
Typically, I would focus on the Bride’s gown first but we really hoped for some Covid relief to allow us to make salon appointments opposed to shopping online. It wasn’t until late September that Julie was able to actually make a salon appointment. She started in Lexington…one never knows…but no. Early October it was Cincinnati…there was a maybe but not really. We had been looking at Pronovias all along. I haven’t mentioned that the wedding weekend was a two ceremony weekend. There was a full day of events on Saturday honoring Nash, Julie’s finace, now husband’s heritage. Julie made an appointment in Chicago to explore the options for her Saturday gown. Call it fate, divine intervention or fabulous…whatever…she realized she had a window of time, searched and found a salon which carried the Pronovias line. During the previous salon visit’s I had received text’s. All of a sudden I got a FaceTime call from Laura…the first time of many that I talked with her through happy tears. At first sight I said, “Yes”. They kept nitpicking at it and I kept saying, “Stop, buy the dress”. Finally, Laura said okay and hung up. An hour passed and I was one step away from a panic attack. I texted asking if there was problem. Julie, responded they were paying. In true Julie fashion she tried on another dress…it was Her wedding and I respected why she was hesitant but here is the reason I said, “I’m hanging up now…buy the dress!!!”
It still takes my breath. It was everything we had talked about. I was honored to also be asked to help her dress for the Saturday ceremony where she was equally breathtaking.
I wasn’t involved in the design of the Saturday events but beautiful people always make a beautiful day. The barn photo is a featured image in the current issue of Kentucky Bride..
Next on the To Do list was to contract with a long list of vendors. The photograph’s you’re seeing are provided by Danny Klimetz. Having done two wedding’s with DannyK I was confident the photography and videography would be covered at the highest level of professionalism. Danny’s ability to capture the energy and emotion of a wedding is unparalleled.
I shopped floral designer’s in Kentucky and Ohio trying to find a team which could not only provide beautiful floral designs but also all the production elements of a ceremony, cocktail party, dinner and dance party. Most responded “well, we’ve never done anything like that but we’ll try”. No! Thank You.
On a lark I decided to throw a Hail Mary. I asked Rosemary Gaines Owner and Principle Designer at Jody’s in Tupelo, MS if she would do an out-of-state wedding. She didn’t say yes immediately and if you had asked her on September 6 if she would ever do it again I’m confident the answer would be “Hell No”. However, now eight months later she might not say yes but at least she can see how stunning her production was.
Since the Sunday ceremony was on…well…Sunday we were sandwiched in between two services. It was really a get in, get out situation. Rosemary and son Hunter made it happen creating grand scale urns with the full range of bourbon colors as well as make a strong statement with regards to the dramatic architecture.
Pardon me while I backtrack but after the Friday Rehearsal Dinner Julie and I met for one more edit of the seating chart. Instead of going to the rehearsal dinner I stayed for the music rehearsal. During rehearsal we found out the church would not allow the use of a Unity Candle. The program was printed and the soloist was hired to sing the Twyla Paris tune How Beautiful….all four minutes and forty seconds of it. I love a modulation (key change) and there was no way I would ask for the piece to be edited. After finalizing the seating chart I told Julie about the conundrum. We both sat stupefied for a bit…mind you this was getting near midnight and I didn’t go but I bet there was bourbon and champagne at the Rehearsal Dinner and I may have had some wine in my room.🤪 Out of the blue, I mentioned that I hadn’t seen it in a long time but Bride’s used to carry roses with the bouquet and give them to the Mother’s as they got to their seat. Little did I know that midnight madness idea would be one of the most emotional moments of the ceremony. Remember, the modulation…yep, right on the modulation Julie and Nash moved off the Chancel to give long stemmed roses to their Mother’s as Christie Paban sang like an angel.
The guests made their way to Keeneland for Cocktail Hour in Keene Barn. The Jody’s team had been working in one end of the barn but trust me…it still left space akin to a football field. We had plenty of room for a green room, band stand, dance floor, two bars and several conversation areas. Everywhere guests looked we tried to create inviting vignettes to help guests feel comfortable and welcomed.
Cocktail hour allowed for the arrival of the wedding party. Thank goodness I had watched Downton Abbey as I was asked to be Mr. Bates to the groom. Nash really wanted his wedding attire to include his White Dinner Jacket which was custom designed by his late father, a well known Lexington tailor. Julie was a bit disappointed. I understood her feelings but after we found THE gown I assured her that a white dinner jacket wouldn’t upstage her. Of course, Nash came up with the perfect solution to wear the dinner jacket…at dinner. He asked me to meet them upon their Keeneland arrival for his quick change.
Dinner was served in The Entertainment Center adjacent to Keene Barn. When we announced dinner the guests were unusually good about moving to the tables. I told Julie I was going to have the announcer ready to introduce them. She said, “great we’ll be right in”. We stood waiting several minutes with seemingly everyone seated. I go back out to the Barn and I find…Private Dancers!!!
Wolfpen Branch was laying down some serious Bluegrass harmony. Julie and Nash decided to show them appreciation by dancing to their last tune. It was their wedding and a sweet memory…even if the scallops were waiting. LOL
Like the Barn, the Entertainment Center is huge…it seats 450. Covid had narrowed our guests list more than we ever expected. Nevertheless, I had already created a floor plan to ensure the space didn’t feel cavernous. Kim Fitzpatrick and her Fitz the Occassion crew did an outstanding job of draping the ceiling and windows to soften the wood surfaces. Randy Scheid with Vincent Lighting created a magical ambience. Rosemary, Hunter and the Jody’s team went over and beyond our dreams. Julie sent me numerous photos of weddings with outdoor, daytime, garden-type aesthetics. We had lots of conversations about what I could and couldn’t do at a 7pm, Black-tie event. Nevertheless, we did everything we could to create the feel of a garden inside the Entertainment Center. Many of the guests commented they had never seen anything to compare.
We did a 48 seat “head table” and two 24 seat Family/Chosen Family tables. Then, in a “ring” around the long tables we did a combination of 8, 6 and 4 tops with different linens and chairs. Remember when MOB Laura said she wouldn’t have much input. Getting them on the TimMagic wagon was a hurdle. After my first live visit in April 2021 I had some work to do in order for them to get the vision.
We used a variety of Bourbon bottles for table numbers. Then menus also served as place cards and were printed on Copper Sparkle Paper. The wedding party and parent’s had 2021 pennies to embellish their menu. FYI Abraham Lincoln was born in Larue County and Sarah Todd Lincoln’s home is a historical site in Lexington. As I mentioned Julie had always wanted pops of blue and green with the Bourbon color palette. I called on one of my competitive marching band contacts. Field and Floor FX printed table runners and placemats with a fully saturated range of Julie’s wishes. This was a TimMagic surprise which totally stunned the Bride.
I went down a Facebook rabbit hole when an ad popped up with really cool vases in all of Julie’s colors. I initially ignored it knowing so many of those ads are scams. But I googled and couldn’t find anything negative about it. I ordered not knowing they were shipping directly from China. When they didn’t arrive in a couple of weeks I assumed I had been scammed. One day out of the blue they showed up from USPS in blow mold styrofoam inside plastic envelopes. Five of the thirteen were broken. Rosemary used the rest and in the mean time I found that Anthropologie carried them so I supplemented there.
The food for the evening was equally delicious. Hannah Sawyer and her Keeneland team met and exceeded all my culinary expectations. I breathed a total sigh of relief when they knocked it out of the park at the tasting. We tweaked a few things but nothing major. Most of the things on my list were already on theirs. It was great to work with professionals who take pride in the details on the details.
Then there’s the cake. April 2020 until May 2022 Julie was very clear that she didn’t want a wedding cake. Once more…remember what MOB Laura said. Well, she had something to say about not having a cake. I told Julie we could have fake cake with just one tier of real cake to cut. She was fine with that. She made an appointment for Nash and her to have a tasting at Tinker’s Cake Shop. I thought it would be fun to create a three tiered base covered in flowers and have Tinker’s mimic the flowers on the real tier. I went to Lexington the last week of July for the tasting at Keeneland. Julie and I visited Tinker’s and we may or may not have gotten carried away on our “cake that wasn’t a cake”. There were a lot of things the guests said WOW about but they had to walk around the cake table to get to their dinner seat. I wish I had counted how many WOW’s I heard. Rosemary and Cameron Tinker impressed themselves on how well they matched each others work even though they didn’t work together. I’ve been re-reading text threads to refresh my memory. One was after Julie and Nash had visited Tinker’s. Julie sent several different textures for icing and stated that Nash liked “smooth icing”. Please note…the top tier is 75% smooth. LOL
The weekend was topped off back out in Keene Barn for dessert and the Dance Party with an amazing band. I’ve said many times if Music City Sound were still playing the guests would still be dancing. The icing was already on the cake so they put topping’s and sprinkles on like no other. Julie felt like midnight was too late for going away so we made a timeline change a few days before. Five minutes before the band was scheduled to stop an out-of-breath Bride came to me and asked if I thought the band would play another 30 minutes. It’s cliché but everyone partied like it was 1999, or ’79, or maybe even ’69. Keeneland had the bars open as well as providing lovely desserts to join with the confections of Sweet Chocolate Confetti.
And just like that fifteen months had passed and it was time to send the happy couple off on life’s beautiful journey. They exited to Belinda Carlisle’s Runaway Horses complete with real horseshoe pompoms, horseshoe candles and pyrotechnics.
The house was lovely…
and a good time was had by all!