A writer and artist’s wedding inside a historic American craftsman-style estate in Charlotte was evocative of old world poetry. The renovated North Carolina home was built in the early 1900’s and is surrounded by expansive rich, emerald-colored gardens. Reminiscent of an English garden wedding, the creative couple wed on the lawn, beneath the grand trees, with columns of florals and foliage as the backdrop, before moving to the mansion’s 5,600 sq ft patio for the reception.
Structural yet soft, the bride’s gown, designed by UK-designer Suzanne Neville, offered modernism with hints of history paired with a long embroidered veil.
The poetically elegant imagery was captured by photographer Kelsey Mard.
Names / Lauren & Chris Clamp
Location / Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Wedding Date / May 19th, 2023
Guest Numbers / 130
Budget / $50,000 USD
How We Met
Chris and I met working at Jerald Melberg Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina. Chris is an artist and shows his paintings there and he managed their exhibitions for many years. When I joined the gallery, we worked on exhibitions alongside one another and became close friends. Chris eventually became my best friend and it wasn’t until several years later that our relationship developed into a romance.
Our Engagement Story
Chris proposed to me on New Years Eve of 2021. It was a complete surprise! We had spent the evening at home, cooking a nice meal together and chatting by candlelight. We were in the living room with our two cats, listening to music and reflecting on the past year when Chris pulled something out from behind an easel. It was a ring! He got down on one knee and proposed. I was thrilled! It was the perfect end to what had been a great year for both of us professionally and personally, and we walked into 2022 together with a lot of joy and hope.
What we love most about each other…
Chris: That is a difficult question for me to answer because I love so much about Lauren. Our interest and love of the arts is what initially brought us together and we have shared many long conversations about art and art history. I love all of our conversations and I love the way she thinks about things in general. Lauren is so smart and she teaches me new things every day. However, the thing that I probably love most about Lauren is her heart. She is such a sensitive and loving person and she applies that high level of emotion to everything in life. This is wonderful for our relationship because we savour every small moment to the fullest.
Lauren: It would be impossible to list everything I love about Chris but what stands above it all is his unwavering kindness and helpful spirit. He is endlessly loving and giving, and has always made me feel safe, supported and at ease from the day we became friends. He is my dream of true love come true and the thought of spending the rest of my life with him fills me with joy and gratitude.
We got married at the VanLandingham Estate in Charlotte’s historic Plaza Midwood neighbourhood. Chris and I love history and vintage character, so we were immediately drawn to it. The venue is one of the few properties in Charlotte that is on the National Historic Register and we fell in love with its 1920’s charm. We also loved how lushly landscaped the property is — we could take advantage of both the beautiful home and its surrounding gardens.
Inspired by classic, English garden style, we wanted a touch of old glamour for our wedding aesthetic. We wanted our choices to complement the gardens and historic home. Soft pastels, florals, gold and crystal made up our palette of colors and textures.
We had our rehearsal dinner at my father’s home in Charlotte. To honor tradition, I spent the night there, as did my sister, Erin. We woke up and had a lovely breakfast that she cooked for us and then we headed over to Vanlandingham to get ready. My dad drove us there. Erin was my maid of honor and only bridesmaid, so we enjoyed some quality time together getting our hair and makeup done in the bridal suite. It was calming and grounding to have those hours together before the bustle of the ceremony. Once we were ready and dressed, we did some pre-ceremony photos and I allowed close family members to visit me in the suite. I’m glad I did this because it gave me time to interact with loved ones before things got too busy. It calmed my nerves a lot, too.
Kelsey Mard photographed the wedding and we absolutely love her work. I had known Kelsey through the local yoga community and hired her several years ago to do some professional headshots, so I was familiar with her talent and style. She brings an artful and subtle eye to wedding photography that is unique and refreshing. The atmosphere she achieves in her photography is soft with moments of high drama and elegance. Her work is artistic and editorial, which really appeals to me and Chris.
We kept our décor to a minimum, choosing things that would enhance the natural beauty of the gardens. The ceremony area was framed with two large floral stanchions that created a semi-arch to frame the altar space. Their tumbling flowers and greenery looked right at home on the lawn of the Vanlandingham.
For the reception, we were able to move the stanchions from the ceremony into the tent where the dinner and dancing were held. We repurposed my bouquet for our sweetheart table as well. Votive candles, scattered crystals and floral centrepieces adorned each table. To keep things simple and classic, I chose white table cloths with celadon green linens for a little colour in keeping with the English garden vibe. We used gold chargers, which added dimension and went well with the gold Chiavari chairs. Inside the house, we also had votives and the occasional flower arrangement to enhance the existing beauty of the home.
Wedding Planner & Stylist
I did a vast majority of the styling and planning myself. We always intended to have a smaller wedding and the Vanlandingham provides inclusive catering, so I figured it would be easy enough to do on my own. If I could do it all again, I would have hired a planner or stylist at the beginning just to make things easier on myself. I will say that my vendors were really amazing and helpful when I wasn’t sure which direction to go. My number one piece of advice is to hire vendors with a high level of expertise that you can trust. I also recommend having a day-of coordinator. I did do this and I found it absolutely necessary for the flow and organization of the day.
My floral inspiration was the semi-unkempt beauty of an English garden. I wanted my bouquet to spill over and have textural interest since my dress was so streamlined. Wanting some color, but I opted for soft pastels that wouldn’t be overpowering. I used the same palette for centrepieces and other arrangements. For the wedding party, I chose white boutonnieres and corsages to keep it simple. My maid of honor had an all-white bouquet, which went well with her floral-printed dress.
Our photographer, Kelsey Mard, had taken beautiful engagement photos of us in the summer of 2022, so we decided to use one of them on our save-the-date. We designed and printed them online through Minted. Chris and I were both impressed with the paper and print quality, as well as the quick turnaround. We designed the save-the-dates in August of 2022 and were able to get them mailed by September.
For our invitations, we chose a local stationer, Olive Paper. I was actually referred to Olive Paper by another local stationer who wasn’t able to take us on as clients. Deb Weaver, who is behind Olive Paper, was fabulous to work with. She easily understood what we were looking for in terms of style and she designed a beautiful duogram for us, using a historic font. We chose a heavy, cream paper to print on and did letterpress in a light green ink. We added a ribbon and wax seal, as well. Receiving many compliments on the stationery, we felt as though it could set the tone for our wedding. When it came time to print place cards, table numbers and a seating chart, we used Olive Paper again, incorporating the same design elements from our invitations.
Our cake was vanilla and lemon with vanilla buttercream because we wanted to choose light flavours for spring. It was also completely vegan and gluten free to accommodate all of our guests’ dietary needs. We were glad we did this because when it came time for cake, it could be served to everyone in a streamlined way. Plus, it was delicious! We worked with the baker, Celestial Cakery, to design the cake. Again, we were after a vintage look, so we chose Lambeth method icing and added some pillars between layers. Our florist also added a few blooms and we had purchased a vintage cake topper from the 1920’s to use, as well. We loved the way it turned out and can’t wait to eat the layer we saved on our anniversary!
Food & Beverages
Our ceremony was at 5 pm, so we did a cocktail hour immediately following. Light bites were served, as well as beer and wine. This worked really well because it gave us time to do family portraits and bride/groom portraits. Our dinner was plated with three choices of entrée to accommodate any dietary restrictions. There was beer and wine service all night, and we did a champagne toast when the cake was served.
Fashion & Beauty Notes
Bride’s Dress & Shoes
My dress was by Suzanne Neville and my shoes were by Loeffler Randall. I chose Suzanne Neville’s Abigail gown for its simplicity and old glamour. The off-the-shoulder long sleeves were a good choice for spring and the fluffer cuff had a vintage appeal. The corset and fit-and-flare skirt felt clean and modern. I paired Loeffler Randall’s Dahlia heel in blue to be my ‘something blue’ and give me a little lift. For my party dress, I wore Rixo’s Lara sequinned mini dress and paired it with a chunky, black platform by Pedro Garcia. I actually borrowed these from my sister!
Bridesmaids Dresses & Shoes
My sister and maid of honour, Erin, wore the Sean mesh dress by Diane Von Furstenberg. It had a ruched bodice and flowing skirt with a mostly pink floral pattern. The black background made it appropriate for evening and black-tie attire. She paired it with petal pink heels by Pedro Garcia.
Flowergirls & Pageboy Outifts
We had two ushers, who were also my youngest cousins, who wore black Vera Wang tuxes.
Wedding Rings, Jewelry & Accessories
My engagement ring is a brilliant cut diamond set in white gold with beading and a peak-a-boo diamond. My wedding band is ¾ diamonds in white gold. Chris’s wedding band is solid yellow gold.
My jewellery came exclusively from my late mother’s collection. Some of it was hers and some it was family heirlooms she had inherited. I wore her diamond studs for earrings and her wedding band on a necklace. To compliment, I wore her grandmother’s dinner ring and watch, both from the 1920s, as well. I miss her every day and felt her loss acutely during the wedding planning process, so wearing her jewels was one small way I could feel close to her and bring her into the celebration. Everything I chose was diamond in white gold or platinum.
Hair & Makeup
I wore my hair in soft glam waves pinned back from my face. Feeling it complemented my dress, it ended up being a worry-free style to wear all night. I don’t wear much makeup in my day-to-day life, so I went with light makeup and a subtly smoky eye since it was an evening affair. The makeup artist matched my lip color to my everyday lip gloss and did not overpower my fair complexion. I felt like a glammed-up version of myself, which is exactly what I wanted.
Chris, his best man, my dad, and our celebrant all wore black Vera Wang tuxes in a slim, modern fit. We opted out of vests and cummerbunds to keep things clean.
Chris and I departed our wedding via a rented Cadillac Escalade. We did our grand exit and the car and our driver were waiting to take us to our hotel in Uptown Charlotte.
We stayed our wedding night at the Ivey’s Hotel in Uptown Charlotte. The Ivey was once a department store in early 20th century Charlotte and was recently converted into a luxury hotel. It was the perfect place to go in keeping with our vintage theme. We got married on a Friday and wanted to stay in town for the weekend to spend time with family and friends who had traveled to Charlotte from elsewhere. The week after our wedding, we took a mini-moon to Wilmington, North Carolina, which is on the coast. It was nice to spend a few days at the beach, unwinding from all the excitement. We are currently planning a more official honeymoon abroad, slated for around the time of our first anniversary.
We registered at a China shop in Charlotte called John Dabbs. They recently celebrated 50 years in business and carry beautiful things. We also set up a honeymoon fund on Zola. Since we are so involved in the arts, we have many friends who are artists themselves. One of these artists gifted us a painting he made of the gallery where Chris and I first met. That’s certainly a gift that we will cherish for the rest of our lives!
We had a string quartet play for our ceremony. The prelude was Canon in D by Johan Pachelbel, the processional was Water Music, Suites II & III in D by George Frederic Handel and the recessional was Solomon: Arrival of the Queen of Sheba also by Handel.
We had a DJ play for the reception and dancing. Having eclectic and unique music tastes, we didn’t want your average wedding DJ. We found someone well-versed in our tastes, and Chris and I put together playlists for dinner and the party. We played a lot of chill wave, shoe gaze, new wave, indie sleaze, hip hop and a little EDM. Our first dance was to Fade Into You by Mazzy Star. The playlists were such a hit that some of our friends have requested we release a wedding CD!
Our celebrant was my sister’s boyfriend (now fiancé!), Wil. Chris and I are close to Wil, and he is a wonderful public speaker, so it felt natural to ask him to officiate our ceremony. He did a wonderful job and we loved having someone we love and feel personally connected to perform such a special duty. He is not ordained, so we actually got legally married at a county courthouse a few days prior to our wedding. The fact that we were already legally married took a lot of pressure off our wedding day and helped us see it as a big party with our closest friends and family.
I am a writer by profession, so I chose to write our entire ceremony, including the vows. I wrote it for Wil to read as it would be done traditionally. To write the vows, I asked Chris to tell me what was most important to him in a marriage and I wove his ideas together with my own. This felt like a high-pressure task and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it, but as soon as I sat down to write, everything flowed naturally. I am so glad I wrote it myself and collaborated with Chris on it because it feels uniquely ours. We plan to print the ceremony transcript in a special way soon. We also had Erin read a poem during the ceremony. She read Sonnets from the Portuguese 6 by Elizabeth Barret Browning.
A memorable moment…
I was very nervous to walk down the aisle because I am not used to being the centre of attention, but as soon as I saw Chris’s face, everything else faded away and I felt pure bliss. We both cried many happy tears throughout the ceremony.
One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…
There is not much I would change, but if I could do it all again, I would work with a planner/stylist from the start just to take a little pressure off of myself. In the end, it all turned out to be beautiful and perfect, though, so I don’t stress over this too much.
If I could give other couples one piece of advice…
Set an intention to be really present for the whole event! Chris and I did this and it worked. We were also fortunate to have the help of wonderful friends, family and vendors who enabled us to let go and enjoy ourselves. We actually had fun at our wedding, and I will remember it as one of the best nights of my life!
Sources of inspiration…
I found a lot of inspiration on social media. From friends who had already gotten married to designers and venues, there’s endless inspiration all over Instagram and other platforms. That’s the beauty of the digital age—a quick search and you’ll find exactly what you need.
Wedding Venue / The Vanlandingham Estate
Wedding Planner / The Silk Veil – Events by Ivy
Photography / Kelsey Mard
Bridesmaids Dresses / Diane von Furstenberg
Bridesmaids Shoes / Pedro Garcia
Grooms Formal Wear / Vera Wang
Wedding Rings / Diamonds Direct
Stationery / Olive Paper
Florist / The Blossom Shop
Cake / Celestial Cakery
Catering / Best Impressions Caterers
Transport / Silver Fox
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