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An Unforgettable Wedding | Atlanta

A Wedding to Remember

Two starry-eyed newlyweds share their unforgettable reception held at The St. Regis Atlanta.

By Kristin Devoto  |  Photography by The Decisive Moment

 Blind dates are usually more of a baseline for comedic routines than life-long romances, but in the case of Laurie Gay and Charles Beard, that’s exactly how they got their start. The two Atlanta natives were both living in New York City in their late 20s when Laurie’s father asked her to go and meet a good friend’s son. Neither Laurie nor Charles was very excited about the forced blind date, but it turned out that the fathers knew best. “We didn’t think it would be anything,” Laurie explains. “But it was love at first sight!”In 2010, the couple returned to their roots, moving back to Atlanta. Soon after their move, Laurie, then a lawyer, found herself rushing to complete work when Charles interrupted her hectic pace and took her to dinner at one of their favorite Buckhead restaurants, Anis, to exchange Christmas gifts early. In a romantic move straight out of a movie, Charles proposed to Laurie right there, surrounded by supportive diners.  “It was so fun to have it happen without expecting it,” Laurie says. “I was overjoyed.”The immediate question was whether they would tie the knot before or after that fall’s football season. Charles, a die-hard Georgia fan who works in real estate, requested that they avoid planning their wedding between games, and Laurie, now a writer, agreed. The couple decided on a spring wedding.  They briefly considered a small, destination affair, just to do something different. In examining possible locations, though, nowhere seemed meaningful enough. “Most of our social circle is here in Atlanta and our families,” Laurie explains. “We started thinking Atlanta might be the easiest on everybody.“Once we said it would be in Atlanta, the St. Regis was really the clear choice,” Laurie says. “It’s very much our style. It’s young and fresh, sophisticated and well put together. It’s somewhere that we go now, and [after our wedding] it would be just that much more special.” Julia McKelvey, the catering sales manager at The St. Regis Atlanta, says, “Laurie [Gay] is very current. The sense of having something contemporary, while still having the traditional elegance the hotel offers, was important.” Laurie enlisted Suzanne Reinhard of Magnolia Events and Planning to help plan the wedding based on three principles.  “What steered our wedding were three things: keeping it meaningful to us, having it be fun for our guests and making it lovely, in that order,” Laurie says.Reinhard gathered a creative team of vendors to work on the look of the wedding, including A Legendary Event for decor, PSAV Presentation Services for lighting, Jenny Adair at Jenny’s Paper, Ink for programs and menus and Peachtree Tents and Events for chairs. “Watching their vision and dreams come to fruition was absolutely magical,” Reinhard says.

Laurie and Charles decided that a traditional church ceremony would be most meaningful to them and selected First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta for their 5:30 p.m. ceremony on April 21, 2012.  That afternoon, the bride entered the church on the arm of her father, Tom Gay, clad in a strapless, silk organza gown with a sweetheart neckline and Swarovski crystal detailing. They walked down the aisle to the altar, where Charles, dressed in a classic tuxedo with tails, awaited his bride with their six bridesmaids and seven groomsmen.

The Rev. Lindsay Armstrong performed the ceremony, including a sermon that Laurie recalls as “perfectly suited to us,” before introducing the couple as husband and wife. Immediately following the ceremony, guests headed to The St. Regis Atlanta for the cocktail hour and reception. The 225 guests enjoyed butler-passed hors d’oeuvres, including oysters on the half shell, short rib tacos, shrimp cocktail and lobster medallions with truffle mayonnaise.

As guests were ushered into the Astor Ballroom for the reception, Laurie was thrilled with their reaction to the decor. During the planning process, she was inspired by the idea of a secret garden, and worked closely with A Legendary Event to bring that natural, lush and relaxed English garden feel to the ballroom. Several different versions of antique, etched glass pedestal arrangements graced the tables and large urns placed on pedestals around the room added to the atmosphere.

Exquisite fabric draping also lent to the sophisticated, English feel of the ballroom, while leaf patterned lights enhanced the garden aspect.  To give the decor more complexity and add a modern touch, Laurie chose mirrored tables and orange linens. She used a color palette ranging from apricot to peach with greens and deep purple accents.  McKelvey thought the decor for this wedding was especially memorable. “It was spectacular,” she says. “Simple, but amazing with clean lines. The peach color and taffeta linen was very Southern. Then, they added the mirrored tops on the tables and

the accents of the lights around the room and it was all gorgeous. A lot of that is to be attributed to the creative geniuses at A Legendary Event. They know how to tailor the decor to create a true reflection of the bride and groom.” Laurie also credits The St. Regis Atlanta for crafting her wedding just as she had imagined. “They’re just set up in every way to have a seamless event,” she says. “Any request, they were on it and remembered. Their attention to detail was above and beyond and that really made the wedding.”

Laurie’s father offered a toast and blessing before guests were served an appetizer duo of soup and salad. The main course consisted of a grilled beef tenderloin and jumbo lump crab cake duo, served with blue cheese grits and mixed vegetables.  Laurie and Charles followed the main course with their first dance, which was to Patty Griffin’s “Heavenly Day.”  “It was one of my favorite, most meaningful moments of the whole day,” Laurie says. “It was the second I was like, ‘I’m married!’ ”

The cake-cutting came next, a towering confection of vanilla bean cake with cream cheese frosting and tangy lemon curd alternating with layers of devil’s food cake with milk chocolate truffle filled with chocolate mousse and candied salted almonds. Each table also received a family style serving of chocolate eclairs, in homage to the bride’s love for chocolate. Then, it was back to the dance floor.

“Big Blast and the Party Masters were fantastic,” Reinhard says of the talented band that played. “They did a three-hour non-stop performance with no breaks. We had a really hard time getting people to leave the dance floor!” Laurie wasn’t surprised by this comment at all. “Our friends are a crowd that will definitely get on the dance floor. We were on the dance floor almost all night!”

Toward the end of the planning, Laurie had decided to line the dance floor with white couches and seating, offering people a place to take a break without leaving the action. It turned out to be a great addition, she says, noting that the dance floor seating was frequently used.  “This wedding was a party,” McKelvey says. “It’s truly one that people will be talking about for years to come because it was such a celebration.”  Before leaving for a honeymoon in the south of France, Laurie reflected on their wedding and the bespoke feelings it evoked. “I felt like the whole event was so special and personalized for us—that we were gifted this completely can’t-be-repeated event as a way to start our marriage,” she says.

Gifts of Grandeur

The St. Regis Atlanta’s Celebration Registry helps guests pick the perfect presents for any occasion. The St. Regis Atlanta Celebration Registry service makes it easy for couples, friends and families to choose exceptional gifts for their loved ones. The service allows guests to register for and purchase custom experiences for celebrations—including weddings, honeymoons, bridal and baby showers, babymoons, anniversaries and milestone birthdays.

Recipients can select from a variety of unparalleled resort amenities and services at The St. Regis Atlanta, including services at the Pool Piazza, Remède Spa, Paces 88 American Bistro or The Wine Room.

“We are very pleased to unveil The St. Regis-try, which uniquely affords guests the opportunity to gift or receive the ultimate luxury—a personalized and unforgettable experience,” says Senih Geray, general manager. “Our new St. Regis-try is a convenient and creative way to give the perfect gift that will create a lifetime of memories and new traditions.”

Gift ideas include: afternoon tea in Astor Court, the Chairman’s Deluxe spa package or wedding party spa package, a personal wine tasting for two, and room accommodations, among countless other options. (877-699-5884; registry.stregisatlanta.com)