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Ask the Expert: Q&A with North Texas Planner Donnie Brown Weddings

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Planning a wedding entails forming a team of experts to help you along. With so many aspects and services needed, choosing the best vendor team can be overwhelming, but with Donnie Brown Weddings and Events, you’ll find expertise and a team that can serve as a one-stop-shop for many of your needs, from planning and design to styling, lighting, floral and more. We sat down with Donnie to chat about some of his best wedding styling tips, especially as they pertain to a statement-making element: the cake! Find Donnie’s answers below!

donnie brown weddings ask the expert

Photo // Kiss Me for Eternity by Thisbe Grace and Co.

Where is the best place to display the cake to make a statement?

The cake is the centerpiece of the wedding reception. It must be front and center. We usually display it to be the first thing you see when you enter the reception. Because nothing says “wedding” like a beautiful bride’s cake.

What styling elements can really make your cake stand out?

We love cake arches and we love suspension cakes. Suspension is only viable if the reception venue has rigging points in the area where the cake should be hung. If suspended, make sure that the mechanics are covered with either flowers, select foliage, fabrics or ribbons. This includes any wires or chains, and the base that the cake rests on. There should also be ample lighting for the cake from all sides. After all, it is the focal point of the reception and should be highlighted for a 360-degree view. Monograms, textures, flowers, shimmers, metallics, unusual shapes such as spherical tiers are all good ways to create a statement.

Any advice on choosing a wedding cake design that fits the wedding design?

The cake should be what everything else is designed from. The colors, the theme, the style of the cake should be carried out through the wedding. If you’re using square tiers, try including at least some square tables, square chargers, etc. if spherical, try a round dance floor, round stage, etc. Tie everything together beautifully. When you see the cake design, you should have a good idea of how the reception will look and flow.

What other statement-making wedding elements are you loving right now?

Of course lighting is critical. It’s the lipstick of the event. Fully dressed place settings are a must. This should include chargers, napkins, full series of silver and crystal, a place card, perhaps a favor, a menu card, etc. This is the first thing your guests see when they take their seat. I love to have something special for them to open and see. We offer chocolate menu cards. They are wrapped in a box. The guest opens it, reads the menu and then has a large Belgian chocolate to take home with them after.

donnie brown wedding planner

Big thanks to Donnie Brown for sharing his wisdom with us today. His years of experience sure add up to plenty of expertise in all things wedding planning! To inquire with Donnie’s team about planning and designing your ultimate wedding, reach out through his Brides of North Texas vendor profile.

North Texas Planner Profile: Maxwell + Gray

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Simply put, Maxwell + Gray does weddings. But to owner Stacy Hillstead and her growing team of talented wedding planners, your wedding is nothing like any other day; they’re the greatest story ever told, celebrated and documented. This team wants your wedding to be casual in feel, elegant in style and uniquely defined by YOU. They’ll offer an expert voice no matter if you’re seeking complete guidance from beginning to end or just need a little help along the way. For the modern bride who loves the thoughtful details, the sophisticated touches and wants her wedding to truly show off their personality as a couple, Maxwell + Gray is here to execute a vision while building friendships along the way.

Maxwell + Gray is edgy, modern and organic. Romantic, playful and thoughtful,” Stacy says. “We get to know the couple. Don’t get us wrong, we love tablescapes and timelines and every last detail, but we do ALL of this to share their stories. To come alongside them and help bring their vision to life. We have fun! Yes, we’re professional and focus on logistics, but we also invest in each vendor, each bridesmaid, groomsman, family member… because it’s these people that help shape the joy behind the wedding day. We laugh and get to know each couple and do everything we can to help serve them, listen well, advise when needed, love and honor along the way. It’s not about us. It’s about them.”

A Favorite Styled Shoot

maxwell + gray north texas wedding planner

maxwell + gray north texas wedding planner

maxwell + gray north texas wedding planner

maxwell + gray north texas wedding planner

Photos // Shannon Skloss Photography

This styled shoot was a special one for Stacy and her team. “We decided to work with a husband and wife instead of models to show their true, real life, genuine love and adoration for each other. We wanted their romance but also playfulness to come through. Billie Ball & Co. thoughtfully chose soft hues of blue with creams and greenery that softened the space. The venue, Knotting Hill Place, is grand, beautiful and picturesque – so we wanted to bring movement, life and warmth into this space.”

When asked about some of her favorite wedding trends as of late, Stacy has a few that stick out in her mind. “We love a good surprise dance (we’ve seen a mini flash mob or choreographed dances). We also love Whataburger, Topo Chico, In-N-Out and all the foodie lovers late night snacks and thoughtful seating charts!”

Real Wedding Love

maxwell + gray north texas wedding planner

maxwell + gray north texas wedding planner

maxwell + gray north texas wedding planner

maxwell + gray north texas wedding planner

maxwell + gray north texas wedding planner

maxwell + gray north texas wedding planner

Photos // Lauren Nicole Photography

“Situated on a private family farm, this wedding was all about family,” Stacy explains. “The bride’s parents built life-size teepees for guests to dine al-fresco. Walking past chicken coops on the way to the ceremony, the venue itself told a story. We dealt with a rain storm AND a true Texas thunderstorm all during the reception, but they danced the night away under the stars and would give each other ‘that’ look – the ‘we did it’ look throughout the entire night.”

Leading up to the best night of your lives can sometimes mean some of the most stressful times of your lives. Stacy’s advice for handling the stress of wedding planning? Get away from it all for a night! “Have a date night where you’re not allowed to talk about the wedding. Where you focus on each other and life outside of the wedding day.”

Intimate, family-focused weddings and date nights focused on just the two of you? Those are two things we can always get behind! Want to see more from Maxwell + Gray? Take a peek at their Brides of North Texas vendor profile and give them a buzz!

Edgy Merlot and Mauve Wedding Inspiration from Lorena Burns Photography & Films

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This breathtaking merlot and mauve wedding inspiration shoot from Lorena Burns Photography & Films easily showcases just how light and airy a wedding can be, no matter what venue you choose, or season you decide to wed in. Held at the beautiful and rustic Morgan Creek Barn in Aubrey, this wedding scene utilizes a color scheme that works well both indoors and out. The mixing of jewel and citrus tones give us all the early fall vibes, so there is no question your guests will feel warm and welcome too. This bride’s dramatic hair and warm-toned makeup created by Tease to Please Hair and Makeup certainly flatters this edgy. Light-colored and bold textiles alike from AM Linen Rentals breathe even more life into this moody wedding scene and feminine florals on every tablescape work to do the same. Whether it’s rain or shine on your wedding date, Morgan Creek Barn has something to offer so there’s no need for a backup plan. This place really has it all! Enjoy perusing all the merlot and mauve wedding inspiration – cheers!

Photos // Lorena Burns Photography & Films

Boost Your Bachelorette | Party Ideas for a Next-Level Celebration

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Before you walk down the aisle, celebrating with your BFFs makes going from Miss to Mrs. even more fun! You don’t have to travel far to have a blast of a bachelorette, and incorporating these group party ideas can take your bach bash to the next level. Whether you’re all about going out, or staying in is more your style, try one of these local entertainment options for a weekend your friends won’t forget!

pure barre coppell

Pure Barre Coppell

Kick off an epic Saturday with your best girls by getting the blood flowing and challenging yourself at a class by Pure Barre – Coppell! Pure Barre’s signature method combines acute toning moves and steady strength exercises for a heart-pounding workout that’s so fun to try with your besties. You don’t have to be an expert, either. Newbies are welcome in this encouraging, uplifting environment!

Photo: Kelcy Leigh Photography

bachelorette party ideas

HD Liquid Catering

Turn up the heat with a custom cocktail bar for you and your girls! Perfect for an epic pool party or a fun dinner party with all of your friends, HD Liquid Catering can provide awesome bar rentals, impeccable service and the most delicious drinks you can imagine. Who says signature drinks are only for the wedding? Pick a signature cocktail for your bachelorette party and leave the work to HD Liquid!

Photo: Laning Photography

bachelorette party ideas


Pinstripes is your one-stop-shop for an evening of laughs and fun with your girls. Bistro, bowling, bocce: Pinstripes has it all! Test your skills on the bowling lanes, cook s’mores on the fire pit and enjoy a lovely meal at the Italian-style café. Try your hand at bocce ball and enjoy game-side food and beverage service, luxurious seating areas and plenty of laughs with friends!

Photo: Deven Ashley Photography

bachelorette party ideas

Nightowl Coffee Cart

Staying up late having the time of life with your best gals calls for some serious caffeine – why go for just any coffee out there? Bring the most delicious hand-crafted coffee to YOU with Nightowl’s super fun, interactive coffee cart experience. Pick a signature coffee or cocktail and have it at your fingertips with your own barista at your service. We can’t think of a better way to caffeinate!

Photo: The Tarnos

local bachelorette party ideas

Wine and Vine Adventures

Head down to the Hill Country for an unforgettable time with your girls sipping wine, taking in the views and not worrying about a thing, thanks to Wine and Vine Adventures! Whether you’re in the mood for an elegant afternoon or a wild and crazy evening, Wine and Vine Adventures will take care of the details so you can enjoy yourselves and get from place to place safely. Enjoy a selection of incredible Texas vineyards, luxe transportation options and top notch service. Cheers to YOU!

Ask the Expert: Q&A with Wedding Fitness Experts Bells & Barbells

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It goes without saying that you want to look and feel your best on your wedding day. That’s exactly why Katherine Bahlberg created Bells & Barbells, an exclusive fitness and training club for brides and grooms. With so many events leading up to the wedding where you’re the star of the show, the wedding fitness experts at Bells & Barbells understand that quick results matter, but longevity is important, too! Their personalized and tailored plans help brides and grooms get in the best shape of their life in preparation for marrying the love of their life. Today, we’re chatting with Katherine about all things wedding fitness – expectations, nutrition tips and advice on the best moves. Scroll below for all the good stuff!

bells and barbells wedding fitness

Photo // Kristen Dee Photography

Which is more important when getting fit for the wedding day – diet or exercise?

BOTH! Diet and exercise go hand in hand. It’s important to start your wedding diet and fitness program at the same time in order to achieve your desired results and in time for your big day.  Understanding that it takes time and consistency to see real changes and to achieve lasting results. Quick fixes and crash diets cause more harm than good and often leave you feeling frustrated, so we recommend avoiding them if possible.

What tips do you have for creating and maintaining a nutrition plan leading up to the wedding day?

GREAT QUESTION! Being prepared can make or break your success with a nutrition plan. Make sure you have a designated day or time on your calendar for weekly meal prep. Plan for busy days with ready to go and easy to make snacks so you don’t skip meals. Make sure it’s balanced. Have 1-2 cheat meals a week so you don’t feel deprived and crash. Balance is the key to sustainability.

What are your #1 workout moves you like to incorporate into a wedding fitness plan?

We love to cover it all! Ensuring that our brides tone up from head to toe so that they look flawless in their honeymoon bikinis as well as their wedding dress are so important. So! A few of our favorite moves are Dumbell Thrusters ( squat + overhead press), Single Leg Deadlifts which hit your back, glutes and hamstrings, Glute Bridges for a more targeted glute focus and Turkish Get-ups because they are fantastic for overall mobility and stability of the core.

What goals should brides set for themselves to be successful in getting fit for the wedding?

Making sure goals are attainable is important. It is best to set 30-day goals, then 60, then 90 and so on. Make sure that once you reach a goal you are always working toward a new one. We set new goals every month with each of our clients, in addition to basing some of them around important dates in their engagement timeline such as bachelorette parties, dress fittings and engagement photos. This will keep you motivated and feeling on top of your game as your wedding day gets closer.

What suggestions do you have for a bride doing gown fittings throughout a vigorous fitness plan leading up to the wedding?

PLAN AHEAD for sure! We suggest to clients that it is best to schedule the first fitting, set that date as a goal in their personalized fitness plan with us and before they schedule more, bring in photos from the fitting to their next training session so we can start setting new ones. Waiting until after you have reached 75-80% of your goals to schedule fittings following the first one will save you money in the long run. The average bride trains with us 4-6 months before they even start their dress fittings and in most cases before they go dress shopping.

What all is included in the private training packages at Bells & Barbells?

We offer a one-of-a-kind experience for the motivated bride and groom. We have an in-house registered dietitian that our clients have access to at rates that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Each of their private and semi-private training sessions are a full 60 minutes and our elite team of wedding fitness professionals work hard to ensure each of our clients meet their goals through a very personalized approach packed with a ton of accountability, knowledge and passion. And it gets even better! B&B clients also gain access to our exclusive #BBCLUB Vendor List once they start training at the studio. This vendor list can potentially save every B&B client hundreds if not thousands from everything they need for the big day including wedding planners and photographers to anything else a bride or groom might need during the engagement period, such as facials, massages, restaurants, movers, real estate agents and much more.  The carefully thought out design of our studio and the experience we offer to our clients is unlike anything you will find anywhere else. It’s built with the bride in mind.

How can couples make the most out of their time with Bells & Barbells?

#teamworkmakesthefitdreamwork! Couples that sign up together see TREMENDOUS results. They are able to bond over a common goal, find more time to spend together and help keep each other accountable and motivated. We suggest that they meal prep together, stay active outside of their sessions with walks outside or social sports leagues. We have had so many wonderful brides and grooms come through our door and seeing them transform their bodies by placing a priority on their health and fitness pays dividends for them later in life and in their marriages.

Bells and Barbells wedding fitness

Katherine truly has so much wedding fitness knowledge to share, and we’re so grateful she passed on some of her wisdom to us today! Interested in working with one of the trainers at Bells & Barbells to up your game before the big day? Reach out to Katherine’s team directly via their Brides of North Texas vendor profile here!