What a trial run is and why you can’t skip it

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

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When you draft your month-by-month wedding planning timeline, be sure to dedicate an afternoon to a hair and makeup trial. A trial is a dry run for your wedding day hair and makeup. It should be booked about six to eight weeks prior to your wedding date. This is the best time to talk about the styles you like and to collaborate with your stylist; it also gives the stylist an opportunity to learn about your hair and skin type, to discuss any concerns you might have, to try on any hair accessories you may be wearing, and for the stylist to pass along any tips and tricks she may have.

After hair and makeup are complete, get thyself to the dressing room! This is the best time to stage a dress rehearsal and your chance (sans wedding day jitters) to see how everything works (or does not work) together: how your veil looks with your hairstyle, how your undergarments are fitting with your gown, how your shoes feel when they’re worn more than a few minutes, and how your accessories look with the ensemble. Better to discover any issues prior to your wedding day while there’s still plenty of time to make adjustments! If your maid of honor and your mother can be there, practice bustling.

If you’re doing a bridal portrait with your photographer, this is the day to schedule it. It’s a great opportunity to break the ice and to get comfortable in front of the camera in your wedding gown. Be sure to order a mock up of your wedding day bouquet!

xoxo

 

 

photo jen fariello

Skip to the loo my darling

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

tuckahoe plantation_katie stoops_merriment events

Not all things wedding are inherently glamorous: the loo for instance. If you’re having an outdoor or an at home wedding like many Merriment brides do, you’ll likely need to engage in potty talk during wedding planning, and by potty talk I mean securing a restroom trailer.

If you’re just starting your search, there are a few questions you must ask: How many stalls are in each unit? How large are the stalls? How many sinks are in each unit? Will the unit play music? Does the unit have heat and air? Running water? What type of flooring is in the unit? And now for the cliff notes:

Generally you need one stall for every 75 guests.

The unit will need to be installed on level ground near a water spigot and power. Be sure the location you identify for RR trailer installation is easily accessible by truck and that the truck can easily pull in and out. Also think strategically about the location of the trailer. How far will your guests have to walk from ceremony, cocktail and dinner to facilities? Golf carts are always nice for guests with limited mobility.

Make sure the loo is easy to find: consider signage. Lighting is a must — always light the path and always uplight the trailer! Depending on your budget, you may consider decorative elements to conceal/enhance the look of the trailer. I’ve even seen trailers draped to look like a tent!

Inside: consider embroidered hand towels, monogramed paper hand towels, candies or mints in your colors, scented oil diffusers (my favorite), hand cream for the ladies room, and liquid hand soaps in pretty containers. In my opinion a few of these little treats go much further than bathroom baskets loaded up with bandaids, mouthwash, etc.

xoxo

 

photo katie stoops

martha stewart weddings summer issue

Monday, September 19th, 2016

 

Martha Stewart Weddings Summer 2016

It’s always such an honor to contribute to Martha Stewart Weddings. In the summer issue, we answered a reader’s question about discussing dress code and attire with your vendors. While most vendors follow the industry standard (black), not all do. We offered some tips on navigating that conversation. Here’s a little insta snap of the article.  xoxo

How to kickoff wedding planning

Monday, September 12th, 2016

 

classic virginia wedding ceremony

One of the most important things to do once a budget has been established and blessed by everyone contributing is to map out a wedding agenda — as much of one as is possible at the beginning of planning. The agenda will give you answers to the basic questions you’ll need to answer as you enter the next phase of planning: hiring vendors. Do I need a photographer for eight hours or ten? How long should my band contract be? How much time should I allocate for photographs? Should I take photographs before the ceremony or after or both? When should hair and makeup begin? What time should the bus pick up my guests? etc.

But how do you start crafting a wedding agenda — where do you start? The ceremony time is generally a good starting point. Ideally your ceremony will begin just before “golden hour,” which is the time of day just before sunset when the light is dreamy and photographs look their best. Once you’ve determined what time your ceremony will begin and how long it will last, you can move on to thinking about how to structure photography before and after your ceremony.

In my experience, the trickiest part of crafting an agenda is in finding consensus around the photo/shot list. Since the posed photographs before and after the ceremony are driving timing to such a large extent, I would recommend tackling this first. Your photographer will most likely provide a suggested list of photographs.

Most couples schedule about an hour of photographs prior to the ceremony. This allows the photographer time to photograph the bride, bridesmaids and her family, as well as the groom, groomsmen and the groom’s family unhurried before vows are exchanged. You can decide if you’d like to do a first look then, too.

Once you’ve developed a list of pre-ceremony photographs, you’ll develop a list that will be taken after the ceremony. Then, you can easily back out time earlier in the day for hair, make-up, getting ready, transportation, and later in the day for your reception.

At the beginning of planning the most important items to work out on your agenda are: ceremony start and end time, posed photos before and after your ceremony, cocktail hour start and end time, reception start and end time. Once you’ve penciled in these significant time stamps, you’ll be in a great place to move forward hiring vendors and scheduling transportation!

 

photo katie stoops

Start with the entrée

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

SW Merriment Events Katie Stoops V5

Ina cleared up all confusion about menu planning last night in her talk at Richmond Centerstage: start with the entree. So simple! So brilliant! Start with the entrée. Think about the ingredients that are in your main dish and then plan the remaining courses with complementary flavors.

Planning a menu for a party, especially a wedding, where you have so many opinions, options and conditions to consider, can be riddled with anxiety. Ina encourages us all to keep it simple. “Earthy,”  by which she means “down to earth,” dishes are always winners. No need to be elaborate or to serve something that is entirely foreign to you or beyond your budget. Simple is better. Serve what you know.

She also encourages hosts to plan one menu that everyone can enjoy. Rather than cooking one meal for your vegetarian friend, another for your gluten free friend and yet another for the rest of your group with no food allergies, plan one meal that accommodates the entire group. Start by asking your guests “what food don’t you eat.” Ina says beware: you might get some funny responses (“fish eyes!”), but you will eventually get a complete list of foods your menu should avoid, and from there, you can start making a plan. Start with the entrée first!

photo by katie stoops for southern weddings V5

organizing your day of list

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

day of wedding organization

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.

Photo: loving the way these items are organized via martha stewart weddings; also love these day of organization tips from Ritzy Bee

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.

eye to eye

Monday, October 5th, 2015

 

colorful-heart-wedding_24(pp_w674_h505)

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

Southern Hospitality

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014


southern weddings

 

southern weddings hospitality

 

In addition to styling Janie Medley’s lovely feature in the latest Southern Weddings Magazine, the SW girls were kind enough to ask me to contribute to a story called “35 tips for a wedding full of southern hospitality.” Naturally, I wrote about something that’s near and dear to my heart — timing. No matter how beautiful the details, how sumptuous the linens, how striking the flowers, a thoughtfully crafted event day agenda is the foundation of your event; anticipating how your guests will experience each moment of your wedding day and crafting an experience with them in mind is one of the most generous expressions of hospitality!