If you’re planning a Smoky Mountain wedding, chances are you’ve nailed down your venue, possibly one of the many beautiful places we mentioned in the first installment in this series. Your venue may offer a package that includes a wedding planner and all or most of the other components necessary to making your special day picture-perfect. If not, or, if you’re like many brides and want to make many of the vendor selections yourself, read on.
We’re taking you behind the scenes with some of the most talented wedding professionals in the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville areas. Maybe you’ll choose one we’ve highlighted! Here’s your Smoky Mountain Wedding Planner Guide to help with your big day!
In many a scene reminiscent of “Say Yes To The Dress” (Smoky-Mountain style) Joyce Maples of Fantasy Bridal in Gatlinburg has stepped in to lend a hand. She’s helped clothe full wedding parties and spur-of-the-moment brides alike. “We can be as last minute as the bride and groom want us to be,” she says. This is an important quality for any bridal-industry vendor in a place that’s known far and wide as a premier destination wedding location. The Smoky Mountains attract brides from all over the world. Their parties are often small and, at times, comprise only the bride and groom! “I’ll have girls come in and say my wedding’s today,” Joyce says.
Though the Gatlinburg store is set up to accommodate the spontaneous wedding party, even the most contemplative and discriminating of brides will enjoy choosing their special dress at Fantasy Bridal. “We have over 2,000 gowns in our store and over 1,500 tuxedos,” Joyce says. Though most of her business is rentals, the store sometimes sells wedding gowns. A bride may reserve a dress up to thirty days before her big day. Her dress will come complete with jewelry, shoes and necessary undergarments! Rental prices vary from $99 to $150 for dresses without trains and up to $300 for those with a train or a designer label. All bridesmaid dresses rent for $59 and flower girl dresses are $35.
Tuxes are available same-day with alterations, unless the groom is interested in a gray tuxedo, which requires premeasurement and sometimes special orders. Making preparations for these tuxes two weeks in advance is recommended. Tuxes are complete except for socks and underwear. Fantasy Bridal (www.fantasybridal.com) is locally owned and has been in business since 2001. “We do our best to cater to the brides and grooms,” Joyce says.
After venue and dress are secured, many a bride would argue that choosing just the right flowers is central to making sure the big day goes off without a hitch. Shirley McGill, owner of Little Pigeon Florist in Pigeon Forge, along with the store’s designer Bobby Franklin (who has been in the industry for 40 years), designs bouquets and arrangements guaranteed to put any wedding over the top. “We have had brides call us and tell us that the best part of their wedding was the flowers,” she says.
“Most of the brides who come in have been on Pinterest and they know exactly what kind of bouquet they want,” Shirley says. “We sit down and we listen to them. When they send us pictures we make what they want, not what we want,” she says.
Little Pigeon Florist (www.littlepigeonflorist.net) uses flowers imported from all over the world to make every bride’s wedding dreams come true. “We had one bride who wanted protea (a Hawaiian flower 12” in diameter). It was just gorgeous. We did her bouquet and then we made a wreath for her hair to match,” Shirley recalls. An extraordinary attention to detail and excellent customer service set Shirley’s business apart. “I just want it to be perfect before it leaves the store,” she says.
Little Pigeon Florist decorates venues ranging from large cabins to churches and more with their fresh, lovely flowers, setting up stylish centerpieces, decorating arches and staircases, and making the special day shine. Roses and hydrangeas are the two most popular choices among Smoky Mountain brides.
Like many other Smoky Mountain-area wedding vendors, Little Pigeon is ready and able to help last-minute brides and grooms. “We try to keep our coolers stocked. I think it’s fun when they come in and they’re getting married in 20 minutes,” Shirley says.
If a bride and groom are breaking away alone to tie the knot, A Fruitful Vintage Personal Chef Service can come to their cabin or chalet and cook a meal just for the two of them. If they’ve brought a wedding party and/or visitors numbering up to approximately 60 people, Chef Ray Bordelon, a New Orleans, Louisiana native, can still accommodate, whipping up his delightful fare onsite, ensuring the best quality and freshest meals in the Great Smoky Mountain area served buffet-style for larger groups. There are times when he “camps out with people” as he says, coming the day before the wedding to do a pre-wedding meal for the wedding party, then returning the next day to do breakfast and then dinner on the wedding day. Meals are priced per person. A 10% discount is offered with the purchase of three or more meals.
Smaller weddings are ideal for Chef Ray’s personal touch. “Sometimes we do appetizers after the ceremony and have that set up and then while the guests, the bride and the groom are having pictures taken, we can set up the main meal,” he says.
Chef Ray has loved to cook since he was a boy, having learned creole cooking from his father, who is French. Though he does a lot of “New Orleans-style” dishes, Ray tweaked his company’s menu over the ten years of doing business in the Smokies to reflect the diversity of tastes in the people from all over the world who visit, and get married, here. Chef Ray invites guests to watch him cook, offering recipes for everything he serves the day of the event! “It’s a very personal experience. We really care about each and every customer. We run our business with honesty and integrity, whether we are serving two people or a party of fifty,” he says. Chef Ray has enjoyed a decade of success here in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains. “We give all of the glory to God,” he says. Visit www.fruitfulvintagechef.com for a peek at Chef Ray’s fabulous menus and very affordable pricing.
HeySmokies had the opportunity to cook up some chocolaty goodness with Chef Ray this year! Take a look at our video segment filmed at a beautiful cabin provided by Jackson Mountain Homes.
When it comes to pulling off the perfect reception, Chef Tony has a tip for brides. “Timing is the secret to a great reception. Guests want action at all times whether it be a cocktail hour, salad, dinner, the serving of the wedding cake, dances, ceremonies, et cetera. The bride and groom should not be kept more than 30 minutes post-ceremony for photographs. When the bride and groom are onsite as soon as possible, it makes the entire celebration great,” he says. Visit www.cheftonycatering.com for a look at all this sophisticated and detail-oriented catering company has to offer for your special day. You won’t be disappointed. “The part of my job that is most satisfying is to see happy guests and couples. When our clients are pleased with our services, our joy is complete,” Tony says.
If you want your wedding to flow into a party that reflects the joy of the occasion, call the professionals at Smokey Mountain Sounds (www.smokeymountainsounds.com), a DJ and entertainment company. With a varied repertoire, this company does it right. “We offer custom-tailored weddings,” says co-owner Ellen Crivillone, whose husband Ron (also co-owner) is the President of the Smoky Mountain Wedding Association. In addition to the music of the bride’s choosing, Smokey Mountain Sounds offers special lighting services. “GOBO” lighting places the bride and groom’s initials on the wall in a light imprint. Up-lighting adds color to enhance decorations or focuses on something important such as the cake table.
Smokey Mountain Sounds works with the bride and/or her wedding planner to help move the timeline of the event forward, making introductions (over the sound system) of the bride, groom and wedding party and announcing the cutting of the cake, special toasts, and other highlights. “I come from a customer-service background so I like to exceed everybody’s expectations,” Ellen says. In addition to giving the bride and groom just the type of music they like, Ellen says they “pay attention to the guests in the room. We’re still tweaking until everyone’s on the dance floor and having a good time.” In addition to DJ services, Smokey Mountain Sounds can provide, at a higher fee, a string quartet, a trio or a live band.
When all of the components of your dream wedding are locked into place, you’ll need an outstanding photographer to capture every moment. Bob Clarke of Imagine This Photography (www.imaginethisphotography.com) has the experience, expertise and creativity you need to create the wedding album you always imagined. In an industry rife with part-timers and amateurs, Bob stands out. “I do 150 weddings a year. Professional photography is my day job and it comes first,” he says.
Years of experience prepare him for emergencies like the time he was doing a mountaintop wedding in August and three flashes overheated and shut down in a thirty-minute window of time. Bob had another flash on hand, and is always meticulously prepared with plenty of state-of-the-art equipment and an easy confidence born of hard work and success in the industry. “I often don’t meet the bride until ten minutes before she walks down the aisle. You do have to really quickly show confidence and give the bride an idea of what’s going to go on,” he says of the challenges of working in the destination wedding world. His advice to brides is to consider time constraints when planning their wedding photos and to clearly communicate with their photographer. Unlike many part-time photographers, Bob usually has the wedding photos online within a day or two of the event. He has the appropriate permits to take photographs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Smoky Mountain Wedding Association (www.smwa.com) is a great resource for Smoky Mountain brides-to-be. Ellen Crivillone (SMWA administrative assistant) will be happy to direct you to the resources you need. “I recently got an email from a bride who was looking specifically for venues for the ceremony, reception and lodging for 150 guests,” Ellen says. Ellen was able to provide names of venues which would accommodate all three needs as well as options for both the wedding and the reception with separate options for lodging. Ellen is familiar with area vendors in all areas of wedding planning and knows many of them personally. The Association’s website is also a trove of valuable information.
The following wedding vendors are located in the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville areas. (There are many others in the surrounding region, especially in the Knoxville and Maryville areas.) This list only represents a sample of the wedding industry professionals available and is meant as a place for potential brides to begin their search. Best wishes!
All Occasion Florist (www.alloccasionflowerssevierville.com)
Atrium Flowers (1-800-228-7486)
D Garden Floratique (mydgarden.com)
Double D Floral Designs (865-428-9290)
Cupid’s Petals (www.cupidspetalsflowers.com)
Flowers of Gatlinburg (www.flowersofgatlinburg.com)
From the Heart Flowers and Gifts (www.fromtheheartflorist.net)
LB Floral (www.lbfloral.com)
Little Pigeon Florist (www.littlepigeonflorist.net)
Ms. Lily’s (www.lilybarn.com)
Sevier Blumen (423-304-3937)
Absolutely Sensational (www.ascater.com)
Bullfish Grill (www.bullfishgrill.com)
Chef’s Catering (www.pigeonforgecatering.com)
Chef Tony Catering (www.cheftonycatering.com)
E M & J’s Heavenly Catering (www.emjsheavenlydelights.com)
Fruitful Vintage Personal Chef Service (www.fruitfulvintagechef.com)
Great Smoky Mountain Catering Company (www.gsmcc.net)
The Lily Barn (www.lilybarn.com)
Wright Stuff Catering (www.wrightstuffcatering.net)
YUM! Catering by Linda (865-387-7951)
- A wide range of local restaurants also offer catering services, as do venues which offer wedding facilities.
Brian Anderson (www.briananderson.net)
DJ Barry Productions (www.djbarryproductions.com)
DJ TRAXX in the Smokies (www.pigeonforgedj.com)
Rock the Party DJ & Lighting Specialists (www.rockthepartydjs.com)
Side-by-Side Entertainment (www.sidebysidedj.com)
Smokey Mountain Sounds (www.smokeymountainsounds.com)
Contrast Photo by Genelda (www.contrastphoto.net)
D & P Photo Service (www.dandpphotoservice.com)
Don Fields Photography (www.donfieldsphotography.com)
Gary Woods Photography (www.garywoodsphotography.com)
Gatlinburg Photo Studios (www.gatlinburgphoto.com)
Imagine This Photography (www.imaginethisphotography.com)
Kathy Smith Photography (www.kathysmithphotography.com)
Larry Miller Photography, Inc. (www.millerphoto.com)
Little D Studios (www.littledstudios.com)
Mary Mason Photography (www.marymasonphotography.com)
New Beginnings Photography (www.perfectweddingpics.com)
Opalescent Photography (www.opalescentphotography.com)
Rich Blessings Photography (www.richblessingsphoto.com)
Rik Photography (www.rikphotography.com)
Smoky Mountain Portraits by Studio Benjamin (www.smokymountainportraits.com)
ST Photography (www.stphotogallery.net)
Thomas Photography (www.thomasphotography.homestead.com)
Laurie Crater Battles is a freelance journalist, writer, mom, wife, biker, hiker, coffee and animal lover who makes her home in Farragut, TN. Connect with her on Facebook!