Monthly Archives:: July 2011

Durham Sweethearts Tie the Knot

It seems like Allison Wooters and Matt Spell were meant to be together. Both born & raised in Durham, they met for the first time in high school and hit it off right away, dating briefly. Several years later, they reconnected in their mid-20’s and picked up their relationship right where it left off. On a trip to Asheville in 2010, Matt proposed to Allison at the romantic setting of the Biltmore House. The couple began planning their wedding for summer of 2011.

I have been friends with Matt since high school and have been happy to get to know Allison over the past few years, and even give them a few SB&G tips during their wedding planning! So I was thrilled to be able to attend the marriage of this fabulous couple.

Matt and Allison’s wedding weekend started off with a rehearsal dinner at the University Club. My husband, Shawn, is the Event Director there and oversaw the event. I got an account from both Shawn and Matt that the evening was just perfect, and a testament to how much this couple loves one another. Matt told me that the staff did a wonderful job, that the food was fabulous and that the Club was an ideal setting for this occasion.

Allison was lifelong member of Yates Baptist Church, so that was the obvious choice for the wedding, which took place on Saturday,July 16. The couple had a beautiful ceremony,and even had a special performance by one of the groomsmen singing with acoustic guitar. After the couple officially became Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Spell, the 300 guests made their way to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. This was the perfect venue for the large group that this couple had.

The dramatically high glass ceilings and architecture of the room made for a very beautiful and modern reception venue. One of the coolest parts about renting the Nasher is that you actually rent the entire musuem, so the art exhibits are open to your guests! Floral Dimensions did a great job of bringing splashes of color to the room with their floral arrangements. A wedding cake designed by Sugarland made a beautiful centerpiece to the room.

The couple used food stations to break up the large spacious room. They were thrilled with the job that Parizade did catering the event. Matt says they were extremely easy to work with and reasonably priced. The food was incredible as well- I can personally attest to that! Another SB&G vendor that the couple chose was DJ and uplight service of Island Sound. The DJ, Jason, really got the party going after dinner- the Nasher floors are perfect for dancing, and the crowd took full advantage!


Here is a photo of Allison, looking beautiful with her hair & makeup done by MakeUpForYourDay. And here is one of the lovely bridesmaids showing off her Floral Dimensions bouquet!

On their first morning of being newlyweds, they got up and flew off to their honeymoon in Alaska. Congrats to Allison & Matt!

Match Made In Highgrove Heaven

Reed & Leslie

November 2010

A mutual friend’s intuition and persistence led Leslie to meet her “future husband” Reed. After the devastating loss of Leslie’s mother to cancer, meeting Reed at their friend’s cookout in March of 2010 turned out the be the ray of sunshine she needed. Their obvious connection and fate was no question by their third date.

As the romance bloomed and a proposal was planned, Leslie’s idea to browse wedding dresses for fun encouraged Reed to move up the proposal so his girlfriend would try on her first wedding dress as his finance. After a dinner out, Leslie returned home to candles and flowers, Reed dropped to one-knee prayed for them and then proposed with his great-grandmother’s diamond, which was over 100 years old.

After agreeing on a short engagement the couple had to decide how short, they took a risk and went for a fall wedding, leave three months to plan! “But, God really did have all the details planned out already and within two weeks I had the venue, photographer, cake, DJ and floral designer,” Leslie said. “Reed and I were so excited to have Dara Blakeley with us at our wedding,she did a wonderful job capturing all the special moments of the day with amazing photos we will cherish for years.”

The fall wedding was held outdoors at Highgrove with colors themed for the season, burnt orange and chocolate brown. The wedding planner at Highgrove, Ann Eberly, knew Leslie’s mother, which made the location extra special. The details made the wedding unique, including the bridal bouquet being wrapped with the sleeve of Leslie’s mother’s wedding dress, Reed wearing his dad’s tie pin, sugar cookies shaped like maple leaves and a donation to cancer research in memory of Leslie’s mom & Reed’s dad.

The couple left their ceremony amongst a glow of sparklers and drove away in a vintage 1968 mustang convertible, before heading to their honeymoon in St. Lucia. 

Photography by Dara Blakeley Photography


Ceremony & Reception Venue: Highgrove Estate

Cake: Darlin’ Designs

Photographer: Dara Blakeley Photography

Floral design: Peacock Productions

Bridal Dress: The Bridal Boutique of Raleigh

Mensware: Men’s Warehouse


Congrats July Giveaway Winners!

SB&G congratulates this month’s giveaway winners! To register for next month’s prize giveaway, visit or Giveaways Page! Keep a look out because we will be giving away another fine dining certificate and another stay at The Washington Duke Inn.

Justine Jenkins & Michael D’Andrea won a Classic Package for two at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club.

Ellie Galbreath & Christopher Sterger won a $90 certificate to Edible Art Bakery.

Meredith Rose & Brian Blay won a $50 certificate to Café Luna.

Samantha Tillman & Nicholas Mayo won a $100 certificate to Il Palio Restaurant at The Siena Hotel. (Photo below)

Southern Romance at Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Becky and Chris 

June 11


After growing up three hours apart up North, before moving down South and living in North Carolina for 15 years, a by-chance meeting at the Carolina Ale house led to a whirlwind romance for Becky and Chris.

After a few years of dating, Chris proposed to Becky on a sunny day in her backyard over an iced-cold beer. When the wedding planning began Becky had her heart set on Duke Gardens, not only did her fiancé love the location, her late father had adored the beautiful grounds. Luckily, the couple was chosen in the Garden’s monthly raffle and was able to set their date, June 11th.

The couple decided on a color scheme of lavender, white and silver that went with a magnolia theme that accented the venue. A cake by Sugarland and flowers by Floral Dimensions carried the theme throughout the ceremony and reception. A cake stand handmade by the groom and the ceremony, which was led by the bride’s uncle, made the wedding personal and completed the couple’s big day.

A day complete with family, friends and a garden of flowers made a beautiful wedding for a lovely couple.

Photos by Pamela Mullins and Amy Rager of Pam3la Art & Photography.

Wedding & Reception Location: Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Rerhearsal Dinner: Tyler’s Taproom

Bridal Gown: Camille La Vie in Charlotte

Bridesmaid’s Dresses & Jewelry: David’s Bridal

Formalwear: Men’s Wearhouse

Groomsmen Gifts: Tinderbox

Hair: Generations Salon

Photographer: Pamela Mullins and Amy Rager of Pam3la Art & Photography

Florist: Floral Dimensions

Cake: Sugarland

Invitations: Green Kangaroo

Ceremony Musicians: Erin Cueller & Tokay Allen

Reception Music: DJ Joe Bunn Company

Rentals: Rocky Top Catering

Guest Accommodations: Hilton Durham

Transportation: Action Limo



Going to the Chapel (Hill) and We”re Going to Get Married


After months of planning, excitement and expectations, Sarah Kathryn Cusano and James Brian Pridgen celebrated their wedding day in style and danced the night away with friends and family. They started their wedding
festivities with a rehearsal dinner at The Carolina Inn, which included a “roasting” of the bride and groom by a comedian.

Their night of fun made way for a relaxing wedding at The Governors Club. Sarah said, “We fell in love with the Governor's Club after visiting.  It's a gorgeous venue inside and out.” The couple wrote their own vows and
shared them in front of their families and loved ones.

Bright pops of green and pink flowers by Tre Bella Flowers created a fun atmosphere, while music from EastCoast Entertainment kept people on the dance floor all night long. “The band did an amazing job of judging the
crowd and getting people on the dance floor,” Sarah said.  “There were people on the dance floor that usually never leave their seats.”

Sarah and James wedding did a full circle by ending with a farewell brunch at The Carolina Inn. If a wedding is indication of a marriage, then they will be smooth sailing. “To be completely honest we were so impressed with
all our vendors.  They were all extremely professional and made our special day so easy to enjoy.  I didn't stress once!  I loved every detail of the wedding from the way that I looked to the candy station.”
Photos by Dara Blakeley

Rehearsal Dinner: The Carolina Inn
Reception Venue: The Governors Club
Ministers: Ed & Becky Sansbury
Photographer: Dara Blakeley Photography 
Bridal Gown: Alexia's Bridal Boutique - Vera Wang
Bridal Salon: Images by Denise
Flowers: Tre Bella Flowers
Cake: Sweet Memories Bakery
Ceremony musicians: Arioso Strings Inc.
Reception musicians: EastCoast Entertainment - Leggz
The Rental Company: American Party Rentals
Candy Station: Cinda's Creative Cakes