Laura & Matt: A Video Recap

A while back we posted a few amazing images from the beautiful wedding of Laura and Matt.  I have been talking a lot with clients about videography and motion picture wedding films in the last few I thought posting this wedding video would be a great glimpse into the talented vendors you can work with locally in Hampton Roads.

This particular film is from our good friends at Digital Dreammakers:

Laura and Matthew from Digital Dreammakers on Vimeo.

Want Calligraphy and Think you can't afford it?

Part of our job as a wedding professional is to make sure our clients can receive everything they'd like for their dream wedding in their pre-established event budget (within reason, of course). That doesn't mean it is our job to haggle contract prices down from other vendors (because there is a definite worth in the services we offer), but rather find vendors to fit into your budget. Most wedding professionals won't recommend another vendor that is way out of our clients price range in an attempt to work within a given budget... For instance,  I will never recommend a photographer that starts at $5,000.00 if I know the clients budget is $2,500.00 or a dj that starts at $2,000.00 when I know our client needs to stay under $1200.00. This thought process helps with making sure our clients start off financially on the right foot along with emotionally.

There are definite ways to stay within your budget and still book vendors that you love. There are many tricks to the trade like getting married on a friday in the "off peak season" or choosing a venue that offers many of your event needs under one roof...or finally, finding a sale. (yes, there are sales in the event world).

Here is one such sale or contest: Great Stationer and Calligraphy Artist Jennifer Gillespie from Calligraphy by Jennifer  is offering 15% off calligraphy needs to one client each week, plus free return ground shipping and 25 free thank you notes designed by Jennifer and her team. The application process is simple and you have nothing to lose, right?

So here is what to do:
*Send an email to with your wedding date, details pertaining to your order (services needed, quantity, etc) and when you need to receive your order back.
*Then each Monday Calligraphy by Jennifer will select one random person to receive this great offer.
*Once you are notified that you are the winner they will then ask you to fill out the online contact/order form to reserve their services.
*Please note that you do not have to have your order ready at the time that you apply to win the special package price.

Here are just a few great calligraphy samples of Jennifer's work:

How to pick your vendors: Part 2

Next Up, Your Photographer!

image copyright Keith cephus Photography
I explained earlier in the week why it’s important to educate our clients on everything weddings…in terms that non-wedding professionals can understand…just as we’d like your profession explained to us. On Monday we gave a few tips to help start the planning process through finding the perfect venue. Today, we thought we should enlighten you on a little vendor called your photographer.  We often say to clients that the two most important vendors on your wedding day are your caterer and your photographer because your guests will comment if your food is horrible, dry, bland, etc. and your photographer will give you all of those amazing images that will help you remember your fabulous event.
Here are 5 tips that you should live by when choosing your wedding photographer.

1.  Make a list of things that are important to you in terms of what product you would like from your photographer. A disc of images, engagement images, an album, reprints, etc. This way when you speak to prospective vendors you can give them a good idea of what you are looking for and they can show you packages that will best fit your needs.
      2.   Do your research and find types of images that draw your attention to them in bridal magazines, online and with friend’s wedding images. If you are more of a traditionalist don’t go with a crazy out of the box photographer….or if you are a bit more edgy don’t go with a traditional photographer that only shoots you in traditional poses with crazy flashes.
      3.  Always meet with a photographer (or any vendor) before signing a contract and booking their services. Just because you love a photographer’s image that doesn’t mean that you will mesh with their personality. Trust me, you don’t want a camera in your face for 8-10 hours if you don’t like who is standing behind it.
      4.  Don’t do your engagement sessions with someone other than your wedding photographer, if at all possible. You can learn a lot about your photographer and their style with how they shoot your engagement pictures…and they can learn a lot about how you like to be photographed, which angle you look best in and how to make you feel at ease in front of the camera. This person is going to be with you during the most intimate of moments on your wedding day, you’d feel much more comfortable if you have a relationship with them before they show up to shoot you getting ready.
      5.  Don’t settle. If you love a photographer that you feel is out of your price range…don’t settle for someone you feel is second best. Choose the smallest package possible and add on if money permits. Then at least you’ll know you will love your images and you can add albums, reprints, etc. at a later date. Many photographers in our area are even offering gift cards for their services…

How to pick your vendors: Part 1

How to pick your wedding vendors…
Here is something we can all relate to.... We all have our own professions whether it is waiting tables or planning weddings, being a surgeon or a tax preparer...we all have something that we are innately good at, that fills our need to succeed and helps make us who we are. With that said, with every profession we assume that every one we speak to know the basics on how our world turns, but this is definitely not the case. I always find myself explaining things in "kindergarten" terms when it comes to weddings...the same way I would want someone in the IT world to explain their profession to me. I know it sounds silly, but many of us assume that our clients will know the ins and outs of our professions...which are hardly the case. So this week I thought I would explain the ins and outs of picking your a way that we can all understand.  

Today we will start with finding your venue. Here are a few tips that should help you make one of the harder decisions in the world of wedding planning. 

First up, Your Venue…
Top image courtesy of James Christianson, Bottom Image courtesy of Scott Hayne
Have a preliminary guest count created before you meet or visit any wedding venues.
If you have a preliminary guest count of 250 friends and family members, why look at a venue that only holds up to 100 guests?
Make sure to have a clear idea of the vibe you are envisioning for your big day.
Why look at an art museum if you your dream day consists of sea shells and water...
Have a comprehensive list of what is important to you.
If you have a specific caterer that you’d like to use make sure to pick a venue that can accommodate your own caterer or if you most of your guests come from out of town don’t pick a venue that doesn’t have overnight accommodations nearby.
Think about your guests.
If you have elderly guests or guests with disabilities it would be considered rude to pick a venue where getting to the reception room includes steps, sand or other hazards.
Budget, Budget, Budget.
If you are working with limited funds you should pick a venue that does not charge an additional room rental fee…extra costs (or hidden fees) can really take away from your overall budget. 

Your Uncle is not a Stationer...

Your Uncle is not a Stationer…
I have heard from many different vendors and clients in the past weeks that the reason they enjoy my blog  posts so much are because I “keep it real”… So I thought, why stop now. We heard great feedback last week about our “your mom is not a…” series and have quite a few more topics that we’d like to shed light on, but first let me open up your mind to the topic of “Graphic Artist/Designer” vs. “Stationer”. We deal with both in the events world…but I thought it was important to tell you what you need to look out for when deciding who you would like to use for your wedding stationery, invitations, thank you notes, menu cards, table numbers, etc.

At Antonia Christianson Events we offer stationery design services with the help of two graphic designers… both well versed in invitations and what needs to be included… but we also act as a stationer through selling stationery out of a few select books and wholesale products.  But often times, we send our clients down the road to our good friends at a Local Stationery Store. Let me explain our thought process…

I hear often times from clients that their friend, brother, uncle, co-worker, etc. are graphic artists by profession…which always  excites me because I love the idea of completely customizing your event…and one of those easy ways is through your stationery. But more times than not your “graphic artist friend” goes to the local craft store, gets a printable stationery kit, puts your information into the already created template and calls it a customized invitation suite. LET”S GET REAL! You could do this yourself… Now, I do have a few clients whose “graphic artist friends” do get a bit more creative and order special papers to really “do it up”... which is awesome! Our only complaint is, we have had many experiences  where these “artists” don’t know what is wrong and what is right. They don’t know to put a line on the RSVP card so your  guests can respond with their name or they leave off the food options for a plated dinner. Some “artists”   event print off (and make you pay for )double the amount of stationery needed because they don’t create stationery often enough to know that for a wedding of 100 guests you only need about 50 invitations… remember, my husband and I are 2 people on your guest list, but we only receive 1 invitation. (Let me say this one thing…there are amazing graphic artists in the events world that do create beautifully fantastic invitations or stationery… but these are people that usually solely work in the events world, not your friend that creates print ads or websites for a living….there is a HUMUNGOUS difference).  

So how does this differ from a stationer?

A stationer is a bit different. A stationer usually offers many different options for your stationery needs. Many local stationers offer invitation suites from books, online and also through custom creation. This is different from a graphic artist because they specialize in event invitation etiquette… They can usually offer many different options depending on your particular price range and printing needs such as digital printing, thermography and letter press.

Locally we have a great option that mixes all of the above choices in one great store; RSVP Stationery in the Chambord Commons Area of Virginia Beach. I know…you are probably thinking why do you send clients to another store when you carry many of the same options? And here is the truth: RSVP offers everything under one roof… they have options for complete custom stationery (something many of our clients use them for), as well as options for letterpress, thermography, computer calligraphy and digital printing. Plus they are pros in anything etiquette… and they can answer all of the unique to you situations that will arise in your perfect stationery search.

Here are a few different stationery options:

all above images courtesy of Scott Hayne Photography 
Above Image Courtesy of Kelly Lee Photography 
Above Image Courtesy of Dee Akright Photographers

Your Dad is not a Wedding Photographer...

Your Dad Is Not A Wedding Photographer…
I’m sure by now you are far enough into the wedding planning process that you realize the “easy way” is not always the “best way”! But I’d like to teach you about how the “easy way” is really the “I’m going to spend more money fixing the mistakes of non-professionals way”.

I often have the same conversation with almost every one of my clients. It starts something like, when I got engaged the total wedding budget in my head was really low and now that I’m planning I am beginning to understand how much weddings truly cost….and then sometimes this conversation morphs into something that sounds like nails down a chalkboard to the professional planner…something like, I think I’ll just have my mom make my floral arrangements (you know she’s a great gardener) and then maybe have my dad or brother take our pictures (they take a really great snapshot).
Sounds amazing right? WRONG!

I tell each and every one of my clients the same thing… (and if I insult your profession, I apologize in advance). The most important things at a wedding are your food and your photography. Your food because your guests might not remember any other detail that you slaved over, but if your food is cold, dry, “gross”, ordinary, etc, they will remember, and complain (sad but true!)… And your photography because all you will have to remember those little details with when everything is said and done are those images that your photographer captures.

Now let’s get real…I’m going to explain just a few very important reasons why your Dad, best friend, 2nd cousin, brother, etc, are not the best choice as your wedding photographer…unless of course, they are a professional.

1.   Let’s start with the obvious, your family is not insured. If they ruin your pictures or forget to put a memory card into their camera you are out of Luck!
2.They quite possibly could run out of memory and then the last picture they capture is you walking down the aisle. What about your vows, your first kiss, your cake cutting, toasts, exit, etc.
What if, what if, what if?  
3.They also will probably not have the event knowledge to know that all of those memory cards have to be backed up. Immediately.
4. Uncle Bobby, may take a great snapshot but probably won’t have the knowledge to shoot when that sunset ceremony turns into a sea of darkness because you got down the aisle 5 minutes late and all light is gone.
5. They will not have the professional resources to post-process, edit or even print those amazing snapshots they took of your day.
We could go on for days, literally on the positive points of hiring professionals to handle all of the “details” of your big day…If you still don’t understand, ask us and we’ll explain more. 

Your Mom is Not A Florist: unless of course she is!

Your Mom Is Not A Florist…
I originally wrote this post for the famed blog of Sasha Souza last year...we will be posting blogs from this series all week as we explain the ins and outs of "your friends, your mom and your wedding". I hope you get a bit of insight into why hiring professionals can only help your wedding experience...not hinder it. 

Image Courtesy of Scott Hayne Photography

Coming from the East Coast I am always curious if planners and wedding vendors across the nation have the same trials and tribulations while dealing with clients and the wedding planning process as I do...and through the magic of Social Networking I am able to talk to vendors all over the U.S. that answer this query easily..YES! We all deal with similar situations and of course we come across some issues that are region specific but for the most part, we all have the same ups and downs. With that said…I’ll give you a little background into the series I call “Your Mom Is Not A…” Most recently, we posted your “Mom is not a Wedding Planner” on our own business blog but after speaking with Sasha I thought a great topic no matter where you lived would be “Your Mom is not a Florist.” Unless of course, she is.

We find that many clients hire a Wedding Planner for three main reasons. One, they don’t know where to begin…they don’t know how to make those little girl dreams come to fruition and they need the help of a wedding professional. Two, because they feel as though they can handle the wedding planning process but need our help orchestrating the biggest production of their lives thus far. OR Three, because while they love their parents, they would like a mediator to help make sure their dream day is what the bride and groom wants not Mom and dad…well, Mostly Mom. Knowing those three main reasons the sad but true issue is that we are hired very often for the latter of the three reasons.

I bring up these three trends for one reason…why, if we are hired to keep peace amongst mother/daughter would you “hire your mom” to make one of the most important items on your wedding day… Your Bridal Bouquet? Why would you hire her to make your floral centerpieces? I could ask a million questions, but instead, I’d like to give a little insight. First, imagine your mom on your wedding day or the days leading up to the big day? She will be stressed enough about the million and one duties and emotions that are overwhelming her with having only one job…being your Mother or the MOB. That stress alone is likely to drive a woman insane, then you’d ask her to create your bouquet, your bridal party bouquets, boutonnières, altar pieces, centerpieces (would you like for me to go on?). In a time when money is an everyday topic and mentioning the economy is almost as bad as a four letter word many brides are trying to figure out how they can save money on their wedding expenses and many usually turn to the fun world of “DIY projects.” And while the thought of turning your wedding into a DIY affair might be glorious… realism should fit somewhere into the equation. So let’s go over a few pros and cons:
You could save money by not paying labor charges.
Your stressed out mom  will waste money by buying more flowers than she needs (does your mom really know exactly how many stems she needs for 4 bouquets, a bridal bouquet, 5 boutonnières  and 10 centerpieces?).
You will save money by not paying a florist to deliver your floral items.
You will waste money buy paying more per stem for flower (florists get great discounts through their floral wholesaler)
You will waste money buy paying more for ribbon for your bouquets (again florists get great discounts on floral accents {including ribbon} through their floral wholesaler)
Your mom will waste her energy from the hours and hours of work that she will have to do alone when a professional florist could easily spread out the duties of your wedding to their entire staff.
The beautiful perfectly symmetrical spherical masterpiece that you had always envisioned is an oblong somewhat cascading far cry from your dream bouquet was supposed to be…
Your flowers could very possibly be ruined when your mom sticks them in your refrigerator to keep cold. While your florist might keep their flowers in a walk-in cooler this is held at certain temperatures…the temperature of your own refrigerator will most likely burn your flowers (or at least the ones that will fit)…Do you think you’ll have room for dozens upon dozens of stems of roses for bouquets, stephanotis or orchids for your boutonnières and 4000 loose calla lilies for your centerpieces…Just move the eggs, that might help.

 Let’s be realistic…Does the thought of you overwhelming your mother on the most important day of your life really sound so dreamlike now? 

Your Mom Is Not A Wedding Planner: Part 1

I first posted this article last September after much consideration and thought into the topic at hand...and since then the "Your Mom Is Not A...." series has been some of our most read blog posts.  (1 was even featured on the national blog of Sasha Souza)! All week we will be reposting the series and even adding a few new topics. If there is a topic you'd like for us to write about, just let us know! 
I have been debating whether or not to write this blog post for quite some time... a year or more honestly... and each time I go to write it I debate whether or not people will understand the importance, the thought behind it and this simple fact: I am not writing this article so that you automatically come and ask me about my services (while yes I would love that...this was not my thought process)...but so that you hire a licensed, insured planner, at least on your day (if not as a full service option). OK, so now that I am done with the disclaimer I will continue...

I hear "NO" alot in my profession. Point Blank, "NO." Which is fine, except for one thing. I think every woman deserves the day she has always dreamt of...this might be the romantic, daydreaming 5 year old in me...but nonetheless the way I feel. I have heard many friends, sorority sisters, former co-workers and even present clients say that they would just have their friend coordinate their wedding day (or their mom, or their sister, or their get the point). So, I thought I'd explain one simple thing when it comes to event planning: You can absolutely plan your wedding by yourself, with the help of loved ones and recommendations from random friends, but when it comes to your wedding day you want all that hard work to play out as you have planned. You want your well choreographed performance to be just as well directed...and while your friends have been there throughout the planning process they are only ready to direct a performance where nothing goes wrong, where "Plan A" is all that you need...but what happens when you get to Act 2 (or the reception) and the power is off at the reception venue, your wedding cake is molded and your caterer doesn't bring enough staff to serve 50 people let alone 250 people (all things that have happend this past wedding season)... then your poor misguided "mistress of ceremonies" is to take the blame, for everything that has gone wrong...only because she was stuck in a position where she was ill-prepared. She was ready to go with Plan A, but unfortunately, she needed plans A, B, C & D. 

While we are on the subject of misconceptions and overwhelming your friends, let's talk about your caterer or "on site wedding coordinator"....Please don't be fooled when your beautiful venue tells you that they offer a full service or "on site coordinator", "YES, this is too good to be true!". This person is great for things like making sure your food is served warm or possibly setting your already created centerpeices on the table, but they will not help you with the above "situations" that might occur. Now I know you are thinking that these are extreme sitatuions, but these were all situations at weddings where the bride decided at the last minute (within 3 weeks of the wedding) to book a "month of coordination" package...and each of them stated how truly glad they were that there was someone other than a loved one to handle these nearly disasterous situations.

Marialexandria: Her Own Work

Earlier in the week we spoke to famed bridal designer Marialexandra about Hot Trends for the 2010 bridal it's time to show you what she is known for...One of a kind dresses that are as unique and individual as she is...What do you think? Enjoy!

Photos taken by Zaire Aranguren from AZA Studio

Photo taken by Patty Nash

Bridal Industry Pro: Ashley Kimberl

All week I have introduced you to a bit of insight into the amazing world of bridal gowns through the eyes of Marialexandra. Today, I thought it would be a great turn of events if I introduced you to a well known Hampton Roads bridal professional, Ashley Kimberl. You can read her bio below, but she has been in the Hampton Roads Bridal Scene for a decade now and is a great wealth of knowledge. 

I asked her to give a few pointers of what brides need to know when shopping for their dream dress, what styles she sees jumping off the racks and a bit of knowledge on trends for 2010.

"Its all about making a statement!  Most of the 2010 trends that we are seeing brides interested in are over the top styles with the "WOW" factor.  One-shoulder gowns, Ruffle detailing throughout skirt, Floral Accents. Detachable Skirts and/or Trains, All over Lace and Simple Chiffon Destination styles are the most popular trends for this year." says Ashley. 

Here are a few of her key pointers for New Brides:

1.  Make sure you schedule and appointment when you are ready to start trying on gowns to ensure quality service.

2.  Searching for your wedding gown can be a very overwhelming experience.  To help you have the least amount of stress while finding the perfect gown, it is recommended that you shop with only 1-2 people for the first time out.  Too many opinions can cause most brides to get confused about what they are really looking for in their gown and forget that all that matters is what THEY LOVE! 

3.  Having a Price Point in mind before you start your search can help. 

4.  Most bridal shops special order wedding gowns which takes anywhere from 4-6 months to receive.  It is good to give yourself plenty of time before your wedding date to find your gown.  The average bride purchases her gown 1 year before her wedding.

For ten years, Ashley Kimberl has been working at All the Rage in Virginia Beach, where she began her career as a special occasion and prom specialist.  Ashley’s creativity and love for fashion helped her quickly learn the ins and outs of the special occasion industry and within two years became assistant buyer for the company. 

As All the Rage grew into one of Hampton Roads leading bridal and special occasion stores, Ashley became more involved in the bridal department working closely with many brides assisting them in finding the wedding gown of their dreams.

Today she serves as the Bridal Manager, where she strives to ensure that all brides experience the best quality and service a salon can offer.  Ashley finds her job extremely rewarding, as she loves helping a bride select what could be the most important dress she’ll ever wear.

Marialexandra: A designers thought on the bridal world.

As I said previously, I have wanted to introduce Marialexandra to you for quite some time...She is an amazing designer with great taste. She can recognize style anywhere and is not too shy to tell us what designers inspire her. I asked Marialexandra to let us in on what she sees as hot trends for 2010, I had noticed flowers everywhere, on trains, on headpieces, on bags, etc...but I was pleasantly surprised when she turned me on to another hot trend, RUFFLES! Here is what she had to say:

"Like any other part of the fashion industry, every designer has their own view, and their own vision for each collection, but there are always trends that show up here and there in almost everyone's collections. Ruffles have been dominating for about a year now, and they are still going strong. Ruffles in skirts, sleeves, trains, everywhere. Ruffles are part of the bigger trend we've been seeing coming back, romanticism. It's not about the huge puffy skirt and its not about the corset dress, its about the flowing gown that may hug a woman's natural curves and flow with her down the aisle. Soft, light, flowing fabrics dominate, with a lot of texture. Tulle details, cover ups in tulle and organza. Oscar de la Renta's gowns are full of texture, details, mostly all on beautifully flowing fabrics. Texture is huge, its not about a simple print, its texture, its the detailing, the exquisite detailing on the gowns that give them a special touch for that special day. Flowers, there are designers who are incorporating flowers as their detailing, as their texture, flowers embroidered on the gowns, in the veils, as part of the bustier or the skirt, its the feminine touch a flower can represent without being girly or childish. Carolina Herrera has a stunning long column dress that is pleated from top to bottom shaped like leaves, so feminine, so simple, yet so intricate. That's what it's about, making a gown extremely special, different, without going overboard, making a bride feel and look like no other day in her life. 

oscar de la renta 2010 collection: number 6 & 9

Strapless is still dominating the market, it has been for years, but we are starting to see cover ups, boleros, and even sleeves on gowns, bringing back a bit of the old romantic feel from the 50's. Another trend that is coming back better than ever is lace, lace is romantic and can be very glamorous with out overwhelming. Its feminine and can be made into a form fitting column dress as well as a beautifully flowing gown." 

Carolina Herrera: Henri Matisse Gown 

Check back tomorrow as I introduce you to a few of Marialexandra's amazing gowns! 

A Few days of introductions: First, Marialexandra

We took a few days off from the blog to travel to an amazing bridal shower in LA (don't worry we will share all of the juicy details soon) but we are now back in full swing! I have been wanting to introduce you all to an amazing designer from Miami, Marialexandra. I was introduced to Marialexandra through social networking and I became an instant fan. Today we will share a bit about her...tomorrow we will share her insights into the 2010 bridal season, both on her own designs and some of her favorites from a few other amazing designers.

Meet Marialexandra:

Born in Caracas, Venezuela Marialexandra's love for fashion and haute couture began at an early age. Growing up in a world of classic style, Marialexandra quickly developed a taste for beautiful clothing. Learning about fabrics, couture, and the fashion greats from her mother, she began designing at the age of twelve and by the age of fourteen had designed and created her first bridal gown. At the age of eighteen she was offered acceptance and a merit-based scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design. Upon graduating in 1997 with a BFA in Fashion Design she moved to Venezuela, where she quickly became a favorite among the women of Caracas society. Her designs soon began appearing regularly in society columns and magazines. After a few short years Marialexandra moved to Miami, Florida where in 2004 she set up her atelier with husband and business partner Christian Lisogorsky.

Her first full collection, Spring 2006, was presented under the tents of Miami Fashion Week 2005. Soon after, as an invitee of Harper’s Bazaar, she presented her collection at their re-launch event. Her next collection, Fall 2006, earned her the “Perrier Bubbling Under Best Emerging Designer” award when it was unveiled on the runways of Funkshion: Fashion Week Miami Beach. A few months later beauty bible Vanidades awarded her in the Arts for the Tributo a la Mujer Hispana. Increased press attention soon followed with articles in popular magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Ocean Drive, and Cosmopolitan, which selected her as the designer for their “Wedding of the Year” event. Her clothing has even been featured
in InStyle‘s the “Look of the Day”, worn by Ivanka Trump, as well as People’s Look of the Day, with Gabriella Spanic wearing Marialexandra. In 2008 SCAD added Marialexandra to their Wall of Fame and in 2009 recognized her achievements with the Distinguished Alumna Award.

Grateful for her success, Marialexandra continues to make charity a top priority, regularly participating in events to raise money for organizations such as Make-A-Wish Foundation, Humane Society of Greater Miami, American Nicaraguan Foundation, and La Ventanas de los Cielo Foundation. After many years Marialexandra continues to be inspired and driven by that woman that is both classic and modern, a strong and independent woman who knows who she is and what she wants. Through elegant design, attention to detail, and the highest standards of quality she continues to dress that woman.


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