the belly button trick

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

colorful fun wedding bouquet

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

Christina and Tom’s film by Josh Gooden

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

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.

Party timeline for kids’ parties

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

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.

Merriment Events | Kids birthday party timelineMost kids’ parties fall into a standard two-hour rental period, which gives you thirty minutes to set up and an hour-and-a-half to party.

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.

Birdie’s 4th birthday party!

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Birdie's Ballerina Party! Merriment Events & Ali Williamson PhotographyBirdie's Ballerina Birthday! | Merriment Events & Ali Williamson PhotographyBirdie's Ballerina Birthday! | Merriment Events & Ali Williamson PhotographyBirdie's Ballerina Birthday! | Merriment Events & Ali Williamson PhotographyBirdie's Ballerina Birthday! | Merriment Events & Ali Williamson PhotographyBirdie's Ballerina Birthday! | Merriment Events & Ali Williamson PhotographyBirdie's Ballerina Birthday! | Merriment Events & Ali Williamson PhotographyBirdie's Ballerina Birthday! | Merriment Events & Ali Williamson PhotographyBirdie's Ballerina Birthday! | Merriment Events & Ali Williamson Photography

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

Christina & Tom’s Charlottesville Wedding

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Merriment Events | Beehive Events | Patricia Lyons PhotographyPatricia Lyons PhotographyPatricia Lyons PhotographyPatricia Lyons PhotographyMerriment Events | Beehive Events | Patricia Lyons PhotographyMerriment Events | Beehive Events | Patricia Lyons PhotographyMerriment Events | Beehive Events | Patricia Lyons Photography


patricia lyons photography

eye to eye

Monday, October 5th, 2015



I’ve seen it way too many times: couples nervous at the altar, clinging to the minister like a life preserver. Don’t do it! Don’t recite your vows to the minister while your spouse is left searching desperately for eye contact. Worry more about maintaining eye contact with your significant other as you recite your vows and less about reciting the lines perfectly. Katie and Max did it beautifully, as shown above!

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to be on display in front of 25 to 350 of their nearest and dearest friends and family, no doubt. The silver lining in this whole thing is, though, that if you do make a mistake, no one will know, except maybe you and your minister. Take it easy on yourself and enjoy!


photo by Jodi Miller

Sweet Fix

Monday, September 21st, 2015

sweet fix bakery richmond virginia

Last week, Brittany and I went to the industry preview party at Amanda Robinson’s new storefront bakery in Richmond’s Manchester district. Sweet Fix is one of our very favorite sources for wedding cakes and small deserts. In addition to event orders, Amanda will now also be selling limited run, carry out desserts (think bombe glacée, creme brûlée, macarons, panna cotta, exquisite cupcakes — all of the good things!). Best wishes on your new adventure, Amanda! We won’t be strangers.

Memory match

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Rue Magazine MatchbooksWhen it comes to favors, I’ve always been of the mind that an edible favor is best. Over the years, we’ve given guests caramel apples, small tarts, homemade candies, kraft paper bags of popcorn… I still stand by the edict that edible is best, but recently, as I stood in the kitchen lighting my favorite candle, I struck a match from a wedding in 2009 and waxed nostalgic for those old fashioned favors. I love a good match box and the memories they conjure. And there’s nothing quite as fun as displaying a good collection.


image Rue Magazine via Made By Girl

Mimi and Clarke’s elegant winter wedding

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

015205070568020506250555It was such a joy to work with this lovely couple on a clear and sunny day last February; Mimi was truly the happiest bride I’ve met. Many thanks to Jen Fariello for sharing images of the day. xo



meet brittany!

Monday, August 3rd, 2015


You may have seen Brittany’s wedding on Martha Stewart Weddings recently, so I thought there’d be no better time than now to introduce her here! Brittany has been with Merriment since nearly the beginning, starting first as an intern, then moving on to become a planning assistant. Now she’s moving into a new role — lead production manager, where she will take a more active role in install and weekend coordination. Brittany is my right hand, and we just couldn’t do what we do without her calm spirit, gracious disposition and years of experience. She’s the best! Without further ado, more about Brittany, in her own words:

Favorite part of a wedding? I adore watching the bride walk down the aisle. There are so many aspects of that one moment I love — the mix of nerves and giddy excitement, anticipation. When the bride makes her entrance, I love to keep an eye on the groom. Such a sweet moment.

Best piece of advice for a bride? On the day of your wedding, be intentional. Be present with your girls as you prepare and get ready for the day. Take a moment before you walk down the aisle to look at everyone in the congregation. Spend some time with your husband before you join the reception. Then just enjoy! It will go by so quickly!

Most beloved item in our emergency kit? Pins! Of any kind. Bobby pins, straight pins, safety pins — they are all important to have on the day of the wedding. Also a seamstress kit. Have I told you about the time Courtney and I sewed a bridesmaid into her torn gown after a dance floor mishap (!) ?

Biggest mistake a couple can make on their wedding day? Getting hung up on little details; not being able to roll with the punches if there are slight glitches in the plan. While this is definitely easier said than done, especially coming from a Type A bride like myself, it’s your wedding day! Enjoy! You don’t get a do over.

One detail a couple should never forgo in order to save money? Aside from a planner, a good caterer! Hire one that is experienced with the type of party you’re hosting and one that has a reputation for providing great service.

What do you do on weekends when you’re not at a wedding? I love to spend free weekends with my family and friends. I might grab drinks with the girls on Friday evening. On Saturday you’ll probably spot me grabbing donuts (Sugar Shack – can’t resist!) after yoga or a run. My favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon is shopping with my mom or running errands with my husband — we love a good date to Homegoods. Throw in dinner at a new restaurant in town, a good concert or movie and that’s pretty much the perfect weekend!


photo by katie stoops