There is Nothing Quite like a Bardstown Wedding!
By: Ellen Shaheen Fox, Wedding Planner
Family, bourbon and a time to flat out celebrate! I have planned weddings all over the Commonwealth, but perhaps one of the best and most memorable of my weddings was held in Bardstown last year. Bardstown is a small town, yet so refined and genteel. It is a place where almost everyone in town is invited to the wedding, and guests begin arriving 45 minutes early just to get a seat for the ceremony. It is a town where the bride prefers bourbon on the rocks to white wine or Champagne. It’s the type of place where high school sweethearts still get married. Bardstown, obviously known for bourbon, is the only place where guests are particular on how you prepare their bourbon, from the name brand down to the exact number of ice cubes and type of serving glass. There are wine snobs on the West Coast, but there are bourbon snobs in Bardstown. They just know how to drink it right!
The wedding I had the privilege of planning was the marriage celebration between high school sweethearts, Natalie Smith and Gabriel Stone in June of 2006. Natalie is a graduate of Bardstown High and Gabe graduated from Nelson County. Their marriage ceremony was held at St. Joseph’s Proto-Cathedral Church, officiated by Father Bill Hammer. The church, full of standing room only guests, processed into the church under a fabulous lemongrass arch. An original hand-painted aisle-runner adorned with Swarvoski crystals featured the couple’s monogram and provided a grand presentation matching the allure of the church. All floral arrangements for the ceremony were created by Donna Smith of Springfield. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Skippy Stone, the groom’s cousin, transported the bride and groom around town in his Ford Galaxy Convertible while the Heaven Hill Trolley provided transportation for guests to the reception.
Upon entering the residence, huge orange flags with the letter S for Stone welcomed the wedding guests. Green lanterns tied with orange and pink ribbons lined the driveway as guests headed to the reception tent. This was just the beginning of a magnificent production and design featuring the color citrus orange with accents of apple green and fuchsia. In the welcome tent, a frog statue decorated in greenery, orange and fuchsia flowers smiled happily as guests passed through to the main dinner tent which measured a whopping 90 x 120 feet. The ceiling was draped with fabrics of white, pink and orange in a contemporary pattern accompanied by huge white lanterns and hanging glass disks giving the tent a party feel. On the backs of the chairs for the bride and groom hung monogrammed S’s made of fresh flowers. Each guest table was draped in different linen colors with grand centerpieces arranged with real fruit, tropical foliage, orange and fuchsia flowers all in clear triangle-shaped vases.
For starters, guests enjoyed butler passed hors d’oeuvres of cinnamon brie tartlet in a almond bourbon glaze, chicken salad tartlet, blackened tenderloin crostini with horseradish cream and caramelized red wine onions. Libations of wine, champagne with strawberries and pink lemonade garnished with orange Gerber daisies were served along with two bars featuring bourbons and cosmopolitans.
The wedding was truly a family affair. The rehearsal dinner was held at Kurtz Restaurant which has been owned by the bride’s family since 1937. The reception was held at the home of Mona and Glenn Stone, the groom’s parents. All innovative and unique designs were created by the bride’s aunt, Barbara Mattingly, who owns Barbara’s Interiors in downtown. Barbara could turn a simple tobacco barn into Disney World, budget permitting of course. It is the only wedding I have planned where the designer carried a color-coded, hand-drawn sketch of every table layout and centerpiece design. She even took the liberty of decorating the golf cart with polka dots and S’s in honor of Smith/Stone. Nothing, not even the Gator, went without receiving the magic touch of Barbara.
The bride was stunning in her sophisticated and sleek ivory wedding gown by designer Ramona Kaveza. In lieu of a traditional veil, Natalie preferred simple netting, weaved through her hair drawing attention to her ornate Swarovski crystal chandelier earrings. She carried a small bouquet of hydrangeas, orchids and white roses.
Wedding guests enjoyed a buffet style dinner, catered by Masterson’s of Louisville, which included; sliced red and yellow tomato platter with fresh mozzarella drizzled with balsamic red wine vinaigrette, romaine salad, sautéed chicken breast in a Chardonnay cream sauce, Maryland Crab cakes, sliced round of beef, escalloped potatoes and a sautéed vegetable medley. For dessert, guests were treated to a polka dot designed wedding cake created by Mert’s Cakes of Louisville and munched on a chocolate brownie groom’s cake. The party really got started when the band 14 Karat Gold from Atlanta played and the DJ from Triangle Talent of Louisville turned up the funky beat at each band break. At midnight, staff danced and paraded around the tent while they passed out White Castle’s on silver trays to the partying guests. It was a real treat for those who got sliders, as hundreds where gone in mere seconds.
It was a labor of love with so many friends and family helping to pull off the wedding from spray-painting candelabras to gluing together the fan wedding programs. It was simply magic! One of the most touching moments for me was catching Natalie and Barbara hugging and crying in sheer pleasure as they observed the finished product under the tent. They were so happy, and I was glad my staff pulled it off, considering the huge thunderstorm that passed only hours earlier that had almost sent us into Plan B - Nelson County High’s Gymnasium. That did not happen of course, but when I witnessed their tears, I cried too. There is something contagious about celebrating a job well done.
As a wine snob myself, I actually got sucked into enjoying a little bourbon that night. When I returned home at 3:00am, I dusted off a Maker’s Mark bottle and mixed in a shot with four ice cubes and a Diet Rite (it’s all I had). While forcing myself to finish it, I sat with that look on my face when you suck on a lemon, and recalled how much fun I had working that evening, and how I fell in love with the sweet charm of Bardstown and the Smith/Stone families. I learned something great about my experience. There is something called Southern Hospitality and then there is Bardstown Hospitality. I prefer the latter.
Cheers to you Natalie & Gabe!
Wedding Coordinator – ShaFox Weddings & Events, LLC
Designer – Barbara Mattingly of Barbara’s Interiors
Florist – Donna Smith of Springfield, KY
Photographer – Adele Reding Photography
Videographer – Two Rings Wedding Videos
Reception – Family Home of Mona and Glen Stone
Caterer – Masterson’s
Cake – Mert’s Cakes
Ceremony Musicians – Commonwealth Musicians
Reception Entertainment – 14 Karat Gold and Sound Decision DJ’s
Article Featured in the Voice-Tribune of Louisville and the Bardstonian Magazine of Bardstown.