A Lonny Editor Ties the Knot

Trend maven Catherine Dash crafts a nuptial celebration that combines Southern tradition with more than a hint of New York edge

AJ Mapes and Catherine Dash share a sweet moment after their October 2013 wedding in Athens, Georgia.
AJ Mapes and Catherine Dash share a sweet moment after their October 2013 wedding in Athens, Georgia.
A Lonny Editor Ties the Knot
The guest book, created by bridesmaid and artist Wendy Hanson.

Some people travel the world in search of love; others needn’t wander too far afield. For Catherine Dash, it took a postcollege move from Georgia to New York City to find AJ Mapes, who had been right under her nose all along.

That a meeting didn’t happen sooner is confounding: the pair grew up less than 15 miles from each other in suburban Atlanta, attended the University of Georgia at the same time, and shared a close circle of friends. Still, it wasn’t until a night out in Manhattan that the two finally crossed paths. A conversation led to a date, a date turned into a courtship, and six years later, that courtship officially became an engagement at Dia:Beacon, the contemporary art museum in upstate New York. “We had saved the Richard Serra sculptures for last because they’re our favorite,” Dash recalls. When they reached the final piece, Mapes got down on one knee and proposed—a moment Dash describes as “magical.”

A Lonny Editor Ties the Knot
A Lonny Editor Ties the Knot
Just before the ceremony, Mapes opens his wedding gift from Dash: a 1955 Rolex purchased from an antiques dealer.

Once wedding plans were under way, the couple decided on a traditional venue for their reception: the historic Taylor-Grady House in Athens, Georgia, an antebellum classic with white columns and wraparound porch. “Neither of us was born in the South, but it informs a lot of our upbringing,” Dash says. “We feel just as connected to it as to New York.” So they set out to create a vintage-inspired celebration that would have roots in both locations. As a counterpoint to such details as ruffly flowers in blush-pinks arrayed in tabletop clusters of impromptu brass vases, Dash and Mapes, a graphic designer, made watercolor save-the-dates and invitations, as well as escort cards, menus, and dip-dyed table runners in muted shades of indigo. “It felt like us—a mix of our urban aesthetic and a 1920s garden party,” Dash says.

I really loved standing up on that big wraparound porch with AJ.... We were 100 percent in the moment.

–catherine dash

The mood of the reception followed suit. A Django Reinhardt–style band kicked things off as guests chatted between bites of pimiento cheese sandwiches. “I really loved the cocktail hour—standing up on that big wraparound porch with AJ,” Dash says. “It was the first time we were able to see all our guests. Forever and ever I’ll be able to come back to that memory and recall the way he looked and the way I felt. We were 100 percent in the moment.”

A Lonny Editor Ties the Knot
ELEMENTS OF A MODERN SOUTHERN WEDDING

Catherine Dash shares four ingredients that made her once-in-a-lifetime fête so memorable

  • THE SETTING

    “We knew we wanted to get married in Athens,” says Dash. Not only is it dear to the couple—both have fond memories of their student days at the University of Georgia—but it’s also an atmospheric town they knew their friends would enjoy. To give guests a fitting introduction, Dash and Mapes chose to hold their reception at the Taylor-Grady House, an 1840s Greek Revival mansion.

  • THE FOOD AND FLOWERS

     Athens-based caterer Home.made created a menu of Southern staples, including grits, buttermilk biscuits, and a peach-bourbon signature cocktail. “We were on the same page from the beginning,” says Dash. That was also true of her florist, Tami Ramsay (half of the design duo Cloth & Kind), whom Dash hired after seeing her arrangements at a friend’s wedding.

  • THE DECOR

    “At the start, I sent a mood board to everyone involved: the caterer, the florist, the bridesmaids, our moms. That way, when people had questions, they had a visual image of what would work,” Dash says. Another strategy? “I asked people to scour thrift stores, estate sales, and Etsy for the brass vessels we put on our tables. It was a nice way to include everyone”—and it also got the job done.

  • THE DRAMATIC EXIT

    Friends surprised Dash and Mapes with a showstopping getaway car—a 1966 Buick Wildcat, complete with a homemade Just Married sign—when the couple’s first choice broke down the night before the wedding. They climbed in after leaving the party under a canopy of sparklers.

A Lonny Editor Ties the Knot
A Lonny Editor Ties the Knot
A Lonny Editor Ties the Knot

 

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