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Launch Party for Engaged Asheville

Engaged Wedding Studio decorated in greenery and white balloons for their 2017 Launch Party
Handlettered welcome sign toppped with greenery for Engaged Wedding Studio Launch Party
Cucumber Basil infused water urn surrounded by glases with green striped straws
Detail of green floral centerpiece
Gift table full of cardboard gift boxes with moss filling in the spaces
Gift box with handlettered gold thank you tag
Contents of Engaged Launch Party gift boxes
Wildflower Bridal gowns and white gold-lettered balloons fill a sun-lit corner at Engaged
Stylist and lifestyle blogger Brooke Williams sips a cocktail while she mingles at Engaged's Launch Party
Server walks around with cigar tray filled with hors d'oeuvres
Models in wedding gowns stand between greenery-laden posts
Three models wearing Asheville Couture custom wedding gows
Asheville Couture designer Angela Kim and her husband
Engaged Studio members Joy Unscripted, Powder Me Pretty, and Anastasiia Photography
Three-tiered cake with greenery and green ribbon sits amongst gift boxes
Champagne cocktails with edible flowers floating in the glass
Three models wearing bridal gowns for a wedding gown presentation
Red head model wears jacquard wedding gown
Floral vase and tall candles decorate cocktail bar
Engaged Studio members Brooke Williams, Wildflower Bridal, Mingle Events, and Anastasiia Photography
Engaged founder Candace Hightower with Selah Bea designer katie hauck
Engaged members Appalachian Mountain Adventures, Brooke Williams, and Southern Chic Boutique
DJ Mitch spins tunes for Engaged Launch party
Girls have fun in the Bus Booth during the party
Engaged Studio's creative team huddles for photo at end of launch party

By now you've heard me reference Engaged here on the blog or on social media more than a few times and today I can finally show you what we're all about! We just had our official launch party on March 8th even though we've been rocking and rolling since last summer. We rallied the whole team together to collaborate on one major, statement-making party and just look how beautifully it turned out!

Our theme was "new beginnings," a tribute to our burgeoning collective and to the new relationships we want to built with other locals in the community. In the spirit of newness and growth (and in homage to the Pantone color of the year, Greenery), we designed the event off a color palette of greens, whites, and natural tones. And then our member florists went wild decorating the space with live greenery and green blooms. The whole space felt magical and made me wish we could party in a greenery wonderland all the time! Our guests even got to take home some greenery of their own, each gifted with a box full of swag including one of Amber Hatchett's Forever Plants. My kind of plant -- no water required LOL!

My fellow Engaged team members are some of the best in their industries, from floral design to catering to photography. So when you have the best-of-the-best coming together to throw a kick-ass party to market not only the Engaged studio collective but also our individual businesses, it's a big deal. We all benefitted from the hard work and vision of each other's creativity and talent, which basically sums up why being a member of Engaged is so awesome. I've loved getting to know other local entrepreneurs and working with them on everything from styled wedding shoots, to pop-up shops, to parties and events.

What I do for a living isn't as easy to convey at a party as, say, a florist or photographer or confectioner, so I had to think about what I could do to throw my name in the ring and contribute to the event. I ended up collaborating with wedding dress designer Angela Kim of Asheville Couture to style three models wearing gowns custom-made for the launch party!

Each gown was inspired by destinations where Angela's brides would ideally get married: the Musee d'Orsay, the Galleria Borghese, and the Guggenheim Bilbao. I used paintings and sculptures found in each of those museums to inspire my styling for the model in each respective gown. For example, outside of the Guggenheim Bilbao is Jeff Koons's "Puppy" a gigantic statue of a dog that is covered in tiny flowers all year round. I translated the look and feel of "Puppy" by gathering lots of tiny white pear blossoms to scatter throughout the model's loose braid. In full disclosure, I found and cut the blooms off the pear trees around Beaver Lake and I was SO freakin' nervous someone was going to run up to me and accuse me of tree murder or something. Thankfully that didn't happen -- and I was able to source my other flowers from Trader Joes FWIW.

(Oh, if you're wondering, the Musee d'Orsay model styling was inspired by a Renoir painting, and the Galleria Borghese gown by a Bernini sculpture of Apollo and Daphne. This was such a fun project to find inspiration for.)

I suggested we have the models wear the gowns in a presentation versus a runway show or while mingling around the party so that our guests could really admire Angela's work and craftsmanship. She handmade each gown for our party -- as she does all her work -- and if the models just sashay quickly by on the runway or are standing in the middle of the crowd, you can't really soak in all of the details and beauty of a truly custom-made wedding dress.

Deedie of Springvine prettied up our overall presentation by covering some plain wooden poles in lush greenery to mesh with the general party decor. Josh of The Bus Booth built the wooden platforms for the models to stand on which was a HUGE lifesaver! I had no idea it would be so difficult to find a sturdy wooden crate or box. Like you can buy them from Michaels to display a vase or fruit bowl on, but not an adult model unless you want them to go crashing through it about five minutes in to your party. Thankfully that didn't happen and our guests had such glowing things to say about the dresses as well as the hair and makeup by Doll Box Productions and Powder Me Pretty.

Styling for events, shoots, and seasonal/product campaigns is something I really enjoy because I get to dive into the who, what, and why of the brand, the client, etc. Creating a look that tells a story and inspires the eye gets my blood pumping -- it's just so much fun! I often see beautiful clothing styled or presented in a way that falls short of aspirational and it makes me sad. Sometimes it's sloppy styling, others it's bad hair and makeup, or even lighting in a photo. In a market so saturated with options and competition, standing out as truly special is really important; I love that I can help a designer or retailer convey their story in a way that will make them shine.

Now that you know what I did for the event (and patiently let me ramble a bit on why I think styling is important and necessary), here's a rundown of what all my fellow creatives did for the party. Even though many of them work primarily in the wedding industry, they're also badass at designing, planning, hosting, catering, and helping to ball out parties and events!

Invitation Design: Baggie Goose

Hand Lettering (balloons, gift tags, signage, marketing materials): Joy Unscripted

Custom Gowns (models): Asheville Couture

Fashion Presentation + Styling: Brooke Flaherty Williams

Airbrush Tanning for the Models: Bella Solé Studio

Gelato + Sweets: Sugar & Snow Gelato

Photo Booth: The Bus Booth

Wedding Gowns (mannequins): Wildflower Bridal

Gift Boxes: Forever plants by Amber Hatchett Designs; NC Wine Glasses by Southern Chic Boutique; #AshevilleMix Popcorn by Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn

Creative Team Card Design: Catrina Ann

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