Katie and Max’s May wedding at home on the Northern Neck was truly full of heart. From the brightly colored heart confetti that accompanied their letterpress invitations, to the hearts throughout the reception — along the walkway to the ceremony on the waterfront, handmade muslin hearts on each place setting, brightly patterned hearts on escort card tags. So much love was put into this celebration.
photography by jodi miller
Designed around the idea of “golden glow,” Mimi and Clarke’s winter wedding was a bright light last February. From the long stemmed hurricanes, embellished with gilded poet’s laurel that maids carried during the ceremony in place of traditional bouquets; to the Rosa Clara beaded wedding gown Mimi wore; to their grand entrance into the Rotunda at the Jefferson to 300 adoring friends and family; to their getaway in their treasured 1979 Volkswagen Westfalia van, Mimi and Clarke’s wedding was so classically elegant but very fresh and original. We feel so fortunate to have been a part of it. Thank you to all of the people who expertly brought Mimi and Clarke’s ideas to life, most especially Jeanette McKittrick Floral Design, La Tavola (who despite some of the worst winter weather in the middle of the country got our linens to us on time! thank you!), Jimmy Harris at The Jefferson Hotel, Jen Fariello Photography, Amanda Robinson at Sweet Fix, Ms. Mo of Mo’Soul (represented by Sam Hill), Jimmy Oliver Event Technologies, Parrot Design Studio, Ave 42, and, most especially, my team. Please rush and get a copy of Virginia Living Magazine to see this wedding and many others that took place in the Commonwealth.
Over the years, we’ve come to specialize in planning and producing large outdoor, tented weddings, but I’ve always had a special place in my heart for intimate, restaurant receptions. And Amuse isn’t just any restaurant — with excellent views into the museum and outside to the sculpture garden; a nearly neutral existing color palette (how many reception venues can say that?); exquisite furnishings (hello Saarinen tables!); and some of the best food in Richmond, Amuse is my go-to recommendation for small parties. Given free reign, I’d introduce lovely shades of blue and green; large tropical foliage; metallic-lined drum shades for accent lighting over a large, outdoor bar; and bright fuchsia floral here and there for punctuation.
1. Establish a budget.
2. Draft a guest list.
3. Book your church and celebrant.
4. Book a venue.
5. Draft the weekend agenda.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of being engaged and to immediately start venue (or dress!) shopping, especially if you’re engaged over the holidays and you’re with family who are equally excited to see plans take shape. Really, though, there is nothing better you can do to ensure smooth sailing until your wedding day than to sit down and get real about money before you step a toe inside a dress shop. A well defined budget will point you in all of the right directions, from which venues you consider, to what kind of reception you plan.
Organizing your day of deliveries is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for your wedding weekend, especially if you’re hosting a large event with lots of moving parts. When we work with clients, we create a detailed production spreadsheet; that sheet lists each and every item that is being delivered for the ceremony and reception, along with all pertinent details (who is delivering, when, how to operate, etc). For smaller events with less production, you don’t need an elaborate spreadsheet, but you do need to communicate who is responsible for all items during their life at the reception so there is no confusion during installation or at the end of the night about where the item came from and where it is going.
We also can. not. live. without clear containers labeled with a photo label and a descriptive label that notes the items’ destination and the quantity (something we manage for all of our clients — it’s crucial!). Within those containers, all items are “table ready,” meaning that as much packaging as possible has been removed to make set up go quickly and smoothly.
One of the questions I’m asked most during rehearsals or just before ceremonies by a bride or maid who wants to make sure she’s getting it just right is, “how should I hold my bouquet?”. Just remember the belly button rule: hold your bouquet lower than you think it should be — usually at or around your belly button. Bouquets look best carried lower than you think they should be!
photo by Jodi Miller Photography; bouquet designed by Courtney Spencer of Merriment Events
There’s just nothing quite as wonderful as seeing film from a client’s wedding day, but Christina and Tom’s film by Josh Gooden completely blew us away. Josh told their story so beautifully, in a way that augmented the story captured in still pictures. We’re such firm believers in videography and always tell clients its one investment you’ll be so, so glad you made.
Birdie turned four this weekend, and the party was a success! I’ve learned many lessons in the four short years we’ve been fete-ing the bird, and I’d love to share some tips with you to keep your kids’ parties sane and relatively stress-free.
It’s probably obvious, given my profession, that I find sanity in organization, and I think you will too! Going into a party with a written plan will make your life so. much. better. Promise.
10:00 AM – set up, 30 minutes: Since you have such a short amount of time to set up, as much prep work as possible should be finished before the party. For instance, if you’re serving lunch, boxed lunch is best. Bonus points if the lunch can also double as decor (e.g. gable boxes tied with balloons). The idea is to arrive and put things in place.
The two essential components necessary for setting up a party in a limited time frame are 1) many helping hands and 2) simple, easy decor.
10:30 AM – Invitation time*: The invitation says 10:30 to noon, but most guests won’t arrive until 10:40. Turn on some background music, offer parents a bottle of water or something to drink, and mingle until all of your littles have arrived.
10:40 AM – Party Activities begin: Start party activities about ten minutes after your invitation time or when all of your guests have arrived. At Birdie’s fourth birthday party, we scheduled a thirty-minute dance lesson. It’s always nice to give kids an activity that will burn energy first before you move to a seated activity or lunch.
10:45 AM – The photographer arrived. After putting so much work into a party, I really love to have someone there to capture it because, let’s be honest, I don’t have the time or expertise to do it myself. Ali Williamson was AMAZING. Cannot recommend her enough. We’ve also worked with Nikki Sawulski in the past, whom I also adore.
11:10 AM – lunch**: I found sweet kraft paper gable boxes at If It’s Paper. They doubled as decoration (see here) and also served a practical purpose: the boxes held juice, a clementine with a celery stalk (like this) and a small bag of grapes. We also ordered pizza. In total, we dedicated twenty minutes to lunch and that timed out to be just enough on the big day!
11:30 AM – Rapunzel arrived: Near the end of lunch, Rapunzel, much anticipated and widely adored, arrived. After crowning the birthday girl, Rapunzel read a story, then, we moved along to cake.
11:40/11:45 – Sing, cut cake and take pictures with Rapunzel
12:00 PM – Party concludes
Who should get a copy of the party timeline? All those helping to set up the party; anyone making deliveries; anyone who is providing services (e.g. the costumed character making an appearance); the venue that is hosting the party.
*In my four short years of experience giving my daughter parties, I have found that 10:30 AM is a really wonderful time of day for parties. Some four-year-olds still nap, while others may not. A morning party accommodates nappers and non-nappers alike.
**We chose to serve lunch before serving cake. I just never feel right about serving cake to children at a party if I haven’t given them something nutritious first. They may not eat it, but at least I tried! If you are not offering lunch, it’s kind to give parents a head’s up on the invitation so they can be prepared. It’s also nice to let parents know (via the invitation) if the party is a drop off/drop off optional party.
If only every party were this fun to plan! There’s nothing quite as wonderful as seeing a group of four year olds enjoying a ballet lesson and a special visit from the “real” Rapunzel, “visiting all the way from Disney World.” Special thanks to Amanda Robinson of Sweet Fix for the beautiful birthday cake. The design was inspired by Phrosné Ras’ first festival invitation at Minted. I ordered the invitations way back in July, and had to do an emergency party location switch after they’d been printed. I had twenty beautiful invitations on hand and nothing to do with them, until I saw the most adorable kraft paper gable boxes at
heaven on earth If It’s Paper. I used my trusty Martha Stewart large circle cutter to cut the number four design from the invitations for the lunch box decoration. We tied an iridescent aqua balloon to each gabled lunch box. I just love the way everything came together! Thanks to all of our dear family and friends who made Birdie’s birthday so very special.
Sources: invitation from Minted; gable boxes, balloons, plates, napkins, forks from If It’s Paper; custom ballerina cake topper by Sarah of The Small Object; cake by Amanda Robinson of Sweet Fix; pink table linens from La Tavola Linen; Rapunzel from Princess Parties RVA; photography by Ali Williamson of Alisandra Photography