A BBQ and Bluegrass Rehearsal Dinner in North Carolina
Rebecca Marín and Clay Shepherd welcomed their guests to Asheville, North Carolina, for their wedding weekend at Biltmore Estate with a down-home barbecue dinner that juxtaposed the big day to follow. On Friday, May 26, 2017, everyone gathered at the estate's Antler Hill Barn, where the theme (and food) nodded to the couple's first date location (a BBQ joint in Austin). Rebecca, who plans weddings through her company, The Wildflowers, designed the event to use a lot of color, showcase her and Clay's personalities, and celebrate the merging of their families.
All wedding guests were invited, so 93 loved ones joined in for the celebration. "It was the start of such a special experience," Rebecca says of the first night of the wedding weekend. "Maybe the only chance of having all of the people you love together at the same time." The evening was filled with tasty barbecue, bluegrass music, belly laughs, and heartwarming toasts. "The rehearsal dinner was a remembrance of our past as we looked to the future," adds Clay. The couple's parents made a slideshow of childhood photos of the bride and groom side by side that played throughout dinner. "We were surrounded by loved ones from every chapter of our lives. It felt like we were bringing our lives together. It was the second-best night of my life."
Rebecca was drawn to the flower appliqués on this Rochas midi dress that she found last minute at MatchesFashion.com. But there was one problem—the only size left was far larger than needed. Rebecca ordered it anyway, made a friend in a local seamstress who tailored it in two days, and she picked it up on her way to the airport to fly to Asheville for the wedding. She wore it with a pair of Zara shoes.
Fun and Games
The groom's parents brought their personal cornhole collection for lawn games. It's one of Clay's favorite pastimes during their trips to North Carolina.
Dressed for the Occasion
Guests were invited to "an evening of bluegrass and barbecue" that was semi-casual affair. They lucked out with warm weather and sunny skies.
Welcome to the Party
The celebration kicked off with a cocktail hour outside at Antler Hill Barn on the Biltmore Estate.
Rebecca says the most memorable part of the day was when they were welcoming friends and family and listening to the musicians play, and Clay led her to an open area on the grass and they started dancing. "It was really sweet to take a moment to ourselves in the midst of greeting everyone."
Let the Music Play
A modern bluegrass trio provided the soundtrack for the fête—playing their own original music as well as some tunes by The Avett Brothers, M. Ward, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Oscar Isaac.
At the Bar
A variety of wine and beer was available at the bar, outlined on a sign with an embroidered flower motif.
Canapes included tomato-mozzarella-basil skewers, pecan-friend shrimp with spicy peanut sauce, and these crab hushpuppies.
The Dinner Setup
Traditional chairs were swapped out for picnic benches, and to create a bit more depth, the center farm tables were draped with Heather Taylor Home's "blanc" runners and "scarlet" napkins were folded atop each plate—outside, the tables had "scarlet" runners and "gold" napkins.
"I love that even though it was a semi-casual event and we were serving BBQ, Rebecca's elegance still came through in all of the styling and décor," notes Clay.
Pretty Place Settings
Place cards, also designed by The Wildflowers to match the linens, guided guests to their seats.
The buffet offered a selection of barbecue and Southern staples included watermelon wedges, coleslaw, loaded baked potato salad, macaroni salad, molasses baked beans, hot dogs and burgers, grilled chicken, and slow-cooked BBQ pork shoulder. For dessert, guests helped themselves to double chocolate brownies, peach cobbler, and pecan tarts.
Toasting the Happy Couple
"We felt so honored that not only did Clay's parents give a toast, but so did his sister, his grandmother, one of his groomsmen, and one of my bridesmaids," says the bride. Adds Clay, "I love that my parents and my sister gave their toast together. All of the toasts were really personal and perfect."
Treats to Go
On their way out, guests grabbed the French-style welcome baskets, filled with goodies in the style of the big day.
Photography, Kayla Barker
Location, catering, lighting, and transportation, Antler Hill Barn at Biltmore Estate
Event planning and stationery, The Wildflowers
Flowers, Bows + Arrows Flowers
Music, Elonzo Wesley
Rentals, Heathery Taylor Home
Bride's dress, Rochas
Bride's shoes, Zara
Groom's shirt and jeans, J.Crew
Groom's shoes, Aston Grey