Top Tips for a Relaxed Rehearsal Dinner

As our family had the privilege of recently hosting our own rehearsal dinner,  I want to share some thoughts while they are still fresh in my mind.  Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is held the night before the wedding and hosted by the groom’s family.  It’s the vehicle to gather the close family, attendants, officiant and bridal couple together, break bread, and fellowship together, and kick off the Big Event with food and merriment.

Take a look at these top tips for a successful, relaxed rehearsal dinner ~

1. Choose a style that is distinctly different from the wedding.

Not wanting to compete with the black tie optional wedding, we went the other way – a pizza truck!  Here we used black and white gingham tablecloths from steve mckenzie’s, pulled up a wood-fired pizza oven food truck, and served ice tea, beer and wine.  Father of the groom, Atlanta interior designer Steve McKenzie created the lush winter floral arrangements.  Festive color-coordinated napkins from Dot and Army completed the table.  More about their easy napkin rental program soon…

The wedding is the main event, so offering a different experience to the wedding party gives them a more complete weekend.


textiles, gingham, dot and army napkins, floral
Black and white gingham fabric anchors the tables in the window-filled venue. Floral by Steve McKenzie

2. Consistent Details

Any well done event, especially a wedding, follows a curated path of carefully chosen details.  From the save the date to the invitation to the floral, consistent colors, fonts and written tone set the stage for your special day.  The groom’s love of outdoors and hunting were celebrated with custom stadium cups, monogrammed napkins and photo booth props.

Custom monogram by Sequins and Lipstick
hunting, Etsy, lips
Photo props by Captivating Creations
Carter McKenzie, Jill McKenzie, The Homestead_GA
Groom + Jill aka Mom

3. Choose the Rehearsal Dinner Menu Secondly to Wedding Menu

The wedding menu plays a starring role in the event, and the budget.  Tastings are held, serving pieces are surveyed, table-cloth colors are coordinated, all these details culminating in this once in a lifetime event.  The rehearsal dinner should coordinate with this evening, not compete with it.  Southern Crust Catering food truck provided this complement to the sit-down dinner on Saturday night.

rehearsal dinner, Plaza Towers, Atlanta GA
Bride + Groom
Atlanta GA, Serenbe , green Chevy truck
Southern Crust Catering
Southern Crust Catering, rehearsal dinner
Hot pizza on a cold night!
roses, winter, floral
Floral by Steve McKenzie
A moonlit magical rehearsal dinner!
 Cheers to your next celebration!  Hopefully these tips lay the groundwork for many special evenings for you and yours. All photos by Christina Wedge Photography




The BEST Holiday Classes & Book Signing

Holiday Calendar & Madcap Cottage

Book Signing

First up –

Effortless Holiday Decorating with Shelly Dozier-McKee

Get out your calendar, call a friend and grab your spots at this class on Saturday, November 4th from 10am – 11am.  You’ll go home full of holiday inspiration and sparkly ideas!  Click here to purchase your ticket.

Be sure to join us on November 3rd and 4th for our annual Holiday Open House with specials, treats, giveaways, and all the best gifts and holiday decor. 

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Next, explore your inner artist with Madcap Cottage gent, John Loecke and Atlanta artist, Steve McKenzie on Saturday, November 18th from 10am – 11:30am.  Get your ticket here.

On Saturday, you can also get your copy of their new book, “Prints Charming: Create Absolutely Beautiful Interiors with Prints & Patterns”, signed by the Madcap Cottage gents, Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke from 11am – 3pm.

PrintsCharming book cover 26644JStay tuned to steve mckenzie’s social media and newsletters for more upcoming Holiday hoopla!  Hint, hint – another class with ConfettiStyle perhaps…details on November 1st…

Follow us on Instagram at @stevemckenzies for more inspiration!







Tastemaker Tuesday – Zoe Gowen

We’re back with another fun Tastemaker feature, and this time around, we’re featuring a shelter publication and design industry maven – Zoë Gowen! She’s a true gem of a person, and someone Steve has known since his Larson-Juhl days. We appreciate her love of art and strong Southern vernacular. We think you’ll enjoy getting to know Zoë and her take on interior design…

Zoë Gowen

As Southern Living’s Senior Homes Editor, Zoë Gowen canvases the South looking for the best in decorating and inspiration for the magazine’s 16 million readers. She has helped to launch the careers of designers, stylists, architects, and other rising creative talents in the world of design and architecture. Before joining Southern Living, she worked at an art gallery in Washington, D.C., specializing in museum-quality, nineteenth- and twentieth-century art. A graduate of Sewanee: University of the South, she majored in American Studies with a focus in Southern Culture and Art History.

1. Three words that describe your aesthetic?

Bright, relaxed, classic

janet gregg living-room2-xl
Design by Janet Gregg

2. Would you please share a little about your favorite space?

Growing up, you’d always find me sprawled out reading in the living room. It sat in the front of the house with a lot of windows on one side and had two big arched openings to the dining room and the hallway on two  other sides, but not many people would go in there. It was the perfect place to be close to the action, but not overwhelmed by it (there were always a lot of people and a lot of activity in my house). Thinking about it now and picturing my current house, you can easily see bits my old favorite room’s cantaloupe colored walls and the chintz covered sofa.

Design by Richard Norris courtesy of HouseBeautiful
Design by Richard Norris courtesy of HouseBeautiful

3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

I’d honestly say that I get a lot of interiors inspiration from reading magazines both new ones and the one-zillion that I own. My friends and co-workers are an interactive source of inspiration. They never fail to encourage (or sometimes discourage) me from executing whatever crazy idea I’m pondering. Lastly, I can’t understate how many ideas I get just from people watching. I actually look forward to airport layovers. There are so many people from all walks of life to observe!

dinner guests

4. Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…

Oh wow! This is a fun question. I could take this in a lot of different directions. First off, apologies to all of my deceased family members who are reading this! You know I’d prefer to catch up with you all. For mass reader appeal though, I’ll limit my dream dinner party guests to famous dead Southerners since I work for Southern Living.

Thomas Jefferson – I’m a big history and architecture nerd, so I’d really like to ask him about his design decisions in the 18th century. Without him, would our government buildings all look like Colonial Williamsburg?

Flannery O’Connor – Is there anyone with a drier sense of humor? She could also give me some writing tips.

Elvis – He’d have to wear his white Vegas jumpsuit. I’m from Memphis and a big fan of his and Graceland. Ideally, this dinner party would take place in the clouds inside the Lisa Marie, but we wouldn’t eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches (yick). Instead, we’d have my favorite foods: chicken salad, shrimp remoulade, watermelon, and chocolate chip cookies.

Design by Celerie Kemble; Photo by Laurey W. Glenn courtesy of
Design by Celerie Kemble; Photo by Laurey W. Glenn courtesy of

5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?

A sofa. It really is where I spend the most time when I’m home. I believe whole-heartedly that a sofa should be both comfortable and pretty. Yes — it’s possible! I just got back from High Point Market and I’m finally going to pull the trigger on a very chic sectional. I’m debating between a floral pattern, a stripe, or a solid coral with trim. Please advise on your thoughts in the comments below.

Design by Ada Saul; Photo by Laurey W. Glenn courtesy of

6. Do you recommend people follow a particular set of rules when mixing textures, finishes, etc.?

I think the only “real rule” is balance: offset pattern with some whitespace to prevent visual chaos, mix in modern pieces with a trove of antiques to keep your house from feeling like a museum, and so on.

Design by Ruthie Sommers

7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?”

I hate to preach, but decorating is too expensive to follow trends. You should really figure out what you love and buy from there. Of course, I do fall into trend traps though. Right now, I’m obsessing over daybeds and painted faux-finishes like stries and tortoise. Bold geometric patterns and bright lacquers are on my back burner.

Courtesy of Barton Perrira
Courtesy of Barton Perrira

8. What would be the one thing you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island?

My eyeglasses. I wouldn’t be able to see anything without them and they could also help me start a fire.

Design by Richard Norris courtesy of HouseBeautiful
Design by Richard Norris courtesy of HouseBeautiful

9. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the interior design industry.

Keep your eyes and ears open to everything. The more you see the better for you to develop your eye. When it comes to getting a job, approach the best people. Once you’re there, make yourself indispensable to ensure you stay there.

That last tidbit is smart – become indispensable. Right on! Oh, and we love Zoë’s dream dinner party foods… Bring on the shrimp remoulade and watermelon!

Thank you, thank you to Zoë for allowing this glimpse into her design-centric mind from the perspective of a magazine editor. And a very happy Tastemaker Tuesday to all!

A Sensational Summit with The Southern Coterie

Steve and Jill attended and presented at The Southern Summit, hosted by the folks over at The Southern Coterie, last month in Charleston – and it was an absolute delight!


A highlight for them was the luncheon workshop they hosted, in conjunction with Atlanta Magazine: Home editor-in-chief Betsy Riley, where they shared with guests the basics one needs to effortlessly achieve gracious living and how to tailor seasonal tablescapes without breaking the bank.


During this workshop, Steve and Jill offered participates a list of items that should always be on hand to create a warm, memorable design for their tabletops. This way, they’d be ready to host with only a moment’s notice.


Grocery store flowers were taken from “meh” to magnificant during the workshop, in a centerpiece makeover, which guests really seamed to enjoy.


Four tablescapes were designed for the presentation, one for each season. The summer table setting closed out the luncheon gathering, and wase used as inspiration for the next day’s luncheon for all 325 summit attendees.


Together, Steve and Jill designed all of the tables for the summit’s feature luncheon, which took place at the beautiful, historic William Aiken House.


But, as you know it takes a village to achieve such stunning results and a number of vendors came together to make the luncheon space so lovely. They include, Vietri dinnerware, Dot and Army linens, Royal Crown Derby fine china, Le Jacquard Francais table linens, Sasha Nicholas dinnerware, and The Vine, who provided an array of glorious succulents for the centerpieces.


The Southern Coterie is an impressive gathering of Southern entrepreneurs and tastemakers, and we were elated to have been in such esteemed company at The Southern Summit! Some of the other presenters were Eddie Ross, Libbie Summers, Mandy Kellog Rye, Kristy Tiglias of Southern Living, Brian Hart Hoffman of Hoffman Media, Julianne Taylor and Holly Hollingsworth Phillips. Many on this list are friends of our ours, and some have even been tastemakers here, on the blog for steve mckenzie’s – such a fantastic group!!

Steve with Mandy Rye
Steve with Mandy Rye

Mandy Rye – of Waiting on Martha fame – presented on building your brand with social media (a personal highlight for Steve and Jill), and she will be doing an intensive social media seminar here in Atlanta. It’s very limited, and one day only (June 17), so sign up ASAP if you’re interested. steve mckenzie’s will be hosting a kickoff cocktail party the evening before Mandy’s seminar, so put it on your calendar… Details forthcoming.


If this sounds like fun, that’s because it was! And next year, you should be a part of it! Thanks to all of our friends – new and old – who we enjoyed at The Southern Summit, and thanks to The Southern Coterie for inviting us to participate in this memorable event. We left feeling energized and inspired!

A Special Gilt City Offer from Southern Living & steve mckenzie’s

steve mckenzie’s is thrilled to have been selected as one of Southern Living magazine’s “chic spots” for their Gilt City collection!

Gilt city 1
Southern Living’s Chic City Spread

Through Gilt City, we’re offering you the opportunity to purchase a steve mckenzie’s in-store credit at a largely discounted rate. Click here or click on the image below to go directly to our special offer.

Gilt city 2
Choose from three in-store credit options!

Thank you to our friends at Southern Living for selecting steve mckenzie’s. We look forward to seeing you in store soon!