5 things to consider when planning a summer wedding in Virginia

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

summer wedding

Summer in Virginia is beautiful but it can also be hot, swampy and muggy. If you’re planning during the months of June, July, August or September, keep these tips in mind:

 

    1. 1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Make water plentiful. Offer water in decanters, where guests can serve themselves, as well as butler passed by servers. Cucumber water is a favorite of mine — it has a great flavor and it looks pretty in a large glass decanter. Orange water with mint is also lovely.

 

    1. 2. Find shade. If you’re ceremony is outdoors in the summer months, pick a shaded spot under a tree and plan to have a late afternoon or early evening ceremony.

 

    1. 3. Keep it cocktail casual. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a man eager to wear a coat, let alone black tie, to an outdoor wedding in the hot summer months. Adjust your dress code accordingly so seersucker and linen are entirely appropriate at your event.

 

    1. 4. Install fans. If you’re having a tented reception, ask your tent company to install fans on the poles of your tent — it’s a no brainer and the cost is minimal. Air conditioning, on the other hand, is an investment and not something the average wedding budget can bear. In the case temperatures are going to be dangerously hot, consider booking a venue with an indoor back up.

 

  1. 5. Offer cool, refreshing food and beverage. Your catering staff and your guests will thank you (just imagine how hot it is cooking on a stove in a catering tent with walls in the summer heat!).Think vichyssoise, gazpacho, cucumber canapés, agua fresca, sorbet…

Finally, pamper your guests as much as you can. Offer handheld fans. Stock your restrooms with chilled hand towels. Offer shuttles back to hotels throughout the night. Provide more seating than you might normally if you’re planning a cocktail party. As with any other planning task, think, “what would I crave if I were a guest at this wedding,” and go from there.

For more summer wedding inspiration, head over here. Photo above by Patricia Lyons of Christina and Tom’s wedding at Castle Hill Cider.

xoxo

3 things you’ll need to know before you make a wedding day agenda

Monday, February 13th, 2017

First things first: when you start planning your wedding, begin building a wedding day agenda. This basic breakdown of timing will help you as you’re booking vendors and thinking through transportation and transitions. The three most important time stamps you’ll need to know are: when your ceremony will begin and end, when cocktail hour will begin and end, and when your reception will conclude.

5:00 PM ceremony begins

5:25 PM ceremony concludes

5:40 PM cocktail hour begins

6:40 PM cocktail hour concludes/dinner reception begins

11:00 PM reception concludes

Now that you have the basic building blocks of your wedding day, you can develop your timeline before the ceremony and during the reception. Looking at an agenda like this, and assuming there’s not significant traveling in between venues, I would recommend that this bride book a photographer a minimum of eight hours, a dinner band for about four hours and a half hours, then I’d start working on transportation timing so I could be smart when booking hair and makeup appointments. Happy planning!

xoxo

 

photo particia lyons

Wedding design: begin at the end

Friday, February 10th, 2017

merriment events katie stoops tuckahoe plantation

My biggest piece of advice when you’re thinking about the design of your wedding: begin at the end. Most people do the opposite — they collect pictures on Pinterest, oftentimes imagery that is not cohesive, images that don’t complement the space they’re working with, or images that depict design ideas that are out of budget. Then, they struggle to retrofit the look with their space and budget. Obviously the fun part is thinking about the way your wedding will look. It will be nearly impossible to not daydream as you click through images on Pinterest or peruse the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings, but my one admonition is this: don’t get married to design ideas too early. Stay flexible.

First things first, establish your budget. Then, do some housekeeping: draft a guest list and secure a venue. After those major groundwork tasks are out of the way, shop for your gown. Next, and this might sound strange, look at rentals (begin with the end!). You might be surprised to see that some of the colors you had in mind don’t exist in linens at your local rental store; perhaps you will need to bring materials in from out of town to bring your color story to life, or you might find you will need to tweak your color story. Next, look at bridesmaids dresses. I love Bella Bridesmaids because you’ll be able to see many colors and styles on the floor, as well as swatch books for other colors and fabrics not in store.

Doing a little bit of research about what is available before you select a color palette will save a lot of time and heartache and it may also lead you to a group of colors you didn’t realize you loved! Once you’ve done this research, you should have a good sense of where to go next so you can turn your attention to the fun part: gathering inspiration images, developing a design board, working with a stationery designer on your invitation suite and save the dates, and working on an order with your floral designer.

xoxo

photos katie stoops photography

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!

 

Writing a wedding brief, or how to start planning your wedding

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

merriment events richmond wedding planner

In a former life, I worked in advertising as a strategic planner. Planners are responsible for articulating the client/brand goals in a way that is compelling to the creative team (who will ultimately create the creative product) and in a way that is compelling to the audience (the people who will ultimately consume the work/the people who you want to communicate with). I think a lot about the creative briefs I used to write and how the format can be adapted to be a really useful tool for couples planning weddings. With SO much inspiration and so many ideas floating around, it’s good to focus, focus, focus. Hopefully asking yourself these questions and committing your answers to paper will help you focus your efforts and energy during your planning.

What’s the one thing we want to remember?

What’s the one thing we want our guests to remember?

We’re standing at the altar and we turn around to look at the congregation, these are the people we hope to see…

Three words that describe us as a couple…

If we imagine the look and feeling of our wedding, we’d use these three words to describe it….

These are the things we can’t live without. They’re mandatory….

Our budget is…

Now, go pick three images that match up with your vision for your wedding. Not 300. 3. They can be of anything…interiors, food, clothing. Use those three to remind yourself of where you’re going when you’re in inspiration overload.

photo of Katie and Max’s wedding by Jodi Miller Photography

word of the week: first look

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Classic Richmond Wedding The Jefferson

First look photographs happen before the ceremony. They’re called “first look” because it is the first time you will see each other as bride and groom in your gown and suit. First look photographs are wonderful if you’re tight on time following the ceremony, or if you’d rather spend your time cocktailing rather than photographing. But, they’re nearly crucial during fall or winter months when the sun sets earlier. First look photos allow you to take advantage of natural light outdoors, rather than having to rely on artificial lighting to light your portraits indoors.

above: Ashley and Paul seeing each other for the first time at The Jefferson before their ceremony at University of Richmond. Photography by Don Mears.

Three things that will make your party a success (and they have nothing to do with pretty details, although I’m a fan of those too)

Monday, March 21st, 2011

merriment events

1. Your guests and their experience are paramount. Keep your guests in the forefront of your mind as you plan. That means keeping cocktail hour to an hour; starting the ceremony on time; anticipating your guests’ needs — if it’s going to be hot during your outdoor ceremony, have cool drinks waiting for your guests.

2. Edit, edit, edit. Style does not come from adding on. It comes from editing and being true to your vision.

3. Don’t establish a vision for your event and a guest list before you know what things cost in your area. Do educate yourself on what things cost in your market and establish a budget and a guest list based on that information.

photo: Leo Patrone with styling by Merriment and flowers by JM Flora

tips for wedding gown shopping

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at a private event at Bella Rosa Bridal in Richmond. Phylis, the resident Bella Rosa bridal expert, had some great tips for gown shopping.

Shop with a budget in mind. Your wedding gown budget should include alterations and accessories. To be safe, budget about $500 for alterations. The most common alterations are hems and bustles – most every gown needs both.

Allow 14-16 weeks for your gown to ship. You should also allow another four to six weeks for alterations. If you’re having your bridal portrait taken before your event, back your timing out from that date.

Create your own swatch with ribbon. If you can’t get a swatch of your gown’s fabric (not all designers provide swatches), Phylis recommends getting two or three colors of ribbon and bringing them along with you at your fitting. You can find a color match between your gown and one of the pieces ribbon, so you’ll have a “swatch” to take to design meetings.

Make sure someone else knows how to bustle. Once your gown has been altered, take a friend, your planner or your mom with you to learn how to bustle your gown and how to tie any bows or sashes.

{image via The Brides Guide}

D.I.Y. wedding programs by Hello Tenfold

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Doesn’t it always feel like ceremony programs are The. Last. thing on the agenda with so many other things taking up your time in the weeks leading to your wedding day? Ellie (of Mint fame) offers the prettiest, modern D.I.Y. ceremony programs at her shop, Hello Tenfold, making this chore totally easy and something worth looking forward to! So, here’s the deal…just submit your text, color + pattern choices, and font preferences to Hello Tenfold, and they will deliver printed pages that are trimmed and hole punched. When the pages arrive, couples purchase the ribbon and gather some friends around to assemble. Simple, easy and pretty! If tying isn’t your thing, you can upgrade to the “full version” where your programs will come fully assembled and ready to go. Thanks for sharing Ellie!


{images courtesy Hello Tenfold}

Dessert Receptions

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

One of the questions I hear most from brides and grooms is how to cut the budget. Of course we all know the #1 way to cut you budget is by cutting your guest list. But there are other ways to get creative….one of them is a cocktail and dessert reception.

Cocktail and dessert receptions are really lovely in the early afternoon. Consider hiring a jazz quartet and serving a nice selection of white wine and prosecco. Dance the afternoon away and ask friends to meet you later in the evening for an after party.


{image #1 from Country Living; image #2 a desert bar by Amy Atlas}