This Couple's Southern-Themed Pre-Wedding Party Had a Cigar Bar, Bluegrass Band, and an After-Party Around the Fire
Robert Fowler met Anthony Rosen at The St. Regis Hotel bar in Atlanta in June 2015. Anthony was visiting from New York on a work trip, so Robert jumped at the opportunity to take him to 10 Degrees South, a South African restaurant, for a date while he was in town. That turned out to be the right decision—just two-and-a-half years later, Robert was surprised with an elaborate proposal at The Plaza Hotel in New York.
When the couple began planning their wedding, they considered hosting it at the Atlanta St. Regis, where they met, but they quickly realized that the ballroom aesthetic didn't fit their vision. Robert, who has been in the event planning industry for over 10 years, was inspired by the property at RT Lodge on the campus of Maryville College in Tennessee—it was more their vibe. So, it was settled: They invited their closest loved ones to the lodge for their wedding weekend, complete with several events (including a rosé-themed celebration!) in April of 2019.
They included each and every guest in their pre-wedding celebration on Friday night, which was southern-themed as a nod to Robert's roots. Guests enjoyed a cigar bar, a curated wine list, southern food, and a bluegrass band—all before the after-party (which involved making many s'mores around a cozy fire) kicked off.
As for the duo's best advice for couples currently planning a wedding weekend with multiple parties? "Keep your guests in mind all weekend," they say. "As much as the weekend is about you, your guests have traveled from long distances, and, in many cases, have spent a lot of money, to be with you. Making it as simple as possible for them—like clearly communicating the when and where to be, and including attire—is super helpful!"
For Friday's event, Robert wore a custom green blazer paired with a blue shirt from Suit Supply, white pants from Theory, and tasseled Jimmy Choo loafers. Anthony donned navy slacks with a light pink blazer, both from Club Monaco. He finished his ensemble with brown Sid Mashburn loafers—a gift from his father.
All in the Details
Robert went shopping with his parents to find his look for the party, and they encouraged him to add special details, like a vibrant silk lining and the event's date, embroidered just under his collar.
Anthony had a special touch of his own—he completed his look with a blue Hermès pocket square.
The Oyster Roast
Guests gathered on the back porch of RT Lodge to kick off the celebration with drinks and oysters, which were roasted on an outdoor fire pit.
Along with a carefully curated wine list, attendees enjoyed local beer and two signature cocktails; "The Robert" was a cocktail with Tito's vodka, club soda, fresh grapefruit, and mint, while "The Anthony" featured Four Roses bourbon and ginger ale.
The Cigar Bar
At the cigar bar, the celebrants helped themselves to cigars and matchboxes that featured the couple's monogram.
Beards and Bluegrass
Robert and Anthony hired a local bluegrass band called The Bearded to keep everyone on their feet all Friday night long. They set themselves up on a natural stage: on top of a rock overlooking a koi pond.
The couple also rented The Knox Photo Bus for the party, a vintage VW bus that has been converted into a decked-out photo booth.
Drive on Up
Even though Friday's party was hosted in the same place as the couple's wedding—held the next day—and involved many of the same vendors, Robert and Anthony wanted to make sure the events felt very different. Calling on his history in the industry, Robert decided to position this celebration in an unassuming area of the property: the circular driveway.
Long wooden tables were surrounded by bamboo chairs; everything was set up in the center of the circle drive. String lights with exposed bulbs hung overhead, fixed to the surrounding trees. Potted topiaries and plants of varying heights were placed on each table, adding to the greenery-centric landscape.
The Décor Details
Linen-wise, tables were kept mostly bare, except for the white-and-blue gingham-patterned runners. Pillar candles, encircled by glass cylinders, cast a warm glow as the sun went down.
The Southern Buffet
According to the couple, Friday night's wedding feast—catered by Chef Trevor Stockton of RT Lodge—was "a southern fête to remember!" The buffet included pulled pork, fried chicken, collard greens, and biscuits. For dessert, they served hand pies from Dale's Fried Pies. Guests sat where they liked during dinner, since the duo decided to bypass a formal seating plan.
Time for Toasts
Robert and Anthony have been to their fair share of weddings—so they know the general dread that accompanies a too-long toast. To mitigate this at their own party, they carefully selected a few friends, along with Robert's brother, to write and deliver speeches. "Our friends spent so much time crafting their words, organizing props, and soliciting advice from others," Anthony says of these special addresses.
After the toasts, everyone made their way to the property's back porch for an after-party hosted by 15 of the couple's closest friends. Along with cocktails and cigars, guests enjoyed s'mores around the fire—and then headed to bed, to ready themselves for the following day's ceremony.
Photography, Natalie Watson
Venue, RT Lodge
Day-of Coordinator, Katie Stinnett
Flowers, Colby West Design
Robert's Attire, Theory; Suit Supply
Robert's Shoes, Jimmy Choo
Anthony's Attire, Club Monaco
Anthony's Pocket Square, Hermès
Anthony's Shoes, Sid Mashburn
Engagement Watches, IWC
Dessert, Dale's Fried Pies
Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linen
Transportation, Chariots of Hire
Lighting, Ogle Entertainment
Music, The Bearded
Photo Booth, Knox Photo Bus