Marion and Matthew: A Mt. Vernon Engagement

I'd like to introduce you to friends of ours and clients Marion and Matthew. This weekend they will be getting married at the George Washington Masonic Temple in Alexandria...and since we are behind on posting to our blog I thought the next great post would be a few images of the happy couple to kick off their wedding weekend.

We have had the honor of working with Marion and Matt for the last year and are looking forward to their history themed wedding. Marion loves history and Mt. Vernon so what better place to take their engagement pictures than at that exact spot.

We always love the opportunity to travel to clients weddings...and it makes it even easier when we are surrounded by mutual friends as well. Marion has a great vision for their wedding and we can't wait to share pictures with you after the big day.

Matt, Thanks for always making me laugh! I'm honored that you chose the ACE team as part of your wedding family.

Thank you Julie Ann Woodfard Photography for these great images.


We love the below image the most of all because of the great meaning behind it:

Their engagement story: The charm in the above image says "Will You Marry Me" on one side and "12-25-2009" on the other.  On Christmas Day Matt drove up from Norfolk to Alexandria, where Marion's family lives to propose.  He attached the charm to a red collar and put it on Marion's cat Sammy and when she picked up him she saw a plastic diamond ring and the charm. 

Jen & Drew: A Lesner Inn Wedding

Jena and Drew couldn’t have had a more perfect day for their wedding. They were married on September 4, 2010 and the weather was perfect for their outdoor ceremony. Their ceremony took place on the upper deck of the Lesner Inn overlooking the water. The sun was shining and there was a beautiful breeze! Jena wore a beautiful ivory lace cap-sleeve gown and her bridesmaids accompanied her in cornflower blue cocktail length dresses that looked great with the given scenery.

After the ceremony the guests remained on the deck for cocktail hour while the bridal party made a quick trip to the nearby beach for some beautiful pictures with Heather Hughes Photography (who was amazing by the way!). Since the wedding ceremony ended right before sunset, the pictures taken at the beach were simply breathtaking as the sun set in the background.

When the bridal party came back from pictures the reception began in Lesner Hall, the upstairs event space of the Lesner Inn. Everything was decorated in blue and orange; from the tables and the flowers to the candy bar. If I could describe their reception in one word it would be Fun, with a capital F. It hardly felt like we were working at all, we had such a great time. Snackbar Jones was the band for the evening...Frank and the guys totally rocked it! There were people on the dance floor all night long; they barely even took a break to eat.

When it was time for their departure there was a tricycle waiting for them all decorated and ready to go. The groomsmen had snuck out of the reception  to decorate the trike for them in the traditional “Just Married” style. The bike even had a little seat for Jena on the back, too cute!

I had 2 favorite memories from the night: First, was the groom’s cake. Both the wedding cake and the groom’s cake were done by Patti Cakes Inc. The groom’s cake was a cooler full of beer sitting on a beach. Everyone was amazed at how real it looked and how great it tasted. I also loved that from the moment all of the guests walked in to the reception to the moment it was time to go the dance floor was packed! It was a true celebration.

Don't you love how Jena and Drew both looked so happy in every image!

This rustic bamboo structure was the perfect backdrop for their laid back wedding...Thanks to Debbie Pence and the Fluttering Flowers crew for this detail and all of the floral design.

Drews Brother (and best man) was hilarious! As was his mom!

Notice her dress change? Love it!

Rachel and Nick: A Trailer of The Big Day (Wedding in Cape Charles, VA)

As many of you know my beautiful assistant Rachel got married a few weeks back in Cape Charles, VA. We love this little town for many reasons...but most of all because Bay Creek Resort offers you the opportunity to feel like you are far away for a destination wedding with only being 40 minutes away. Rachel definitely did a great job with making all of her guests feel like they were on a nice little vacation while attending her wedding. She made sure to include all of the amazing sites in town...and the "local faves" in her weekend festivities.

Rachel and Nick had such a clear vision for their big day that we were honored to help them fulfill their wedding dreams. With all of Rachel's wedding experience working as an integral part of the ACE Team she knows how much I love all of the "little details", and as you'll see in the video she didn't miss a beat. Early on in the planning process we decided on a very rustic theme with the mix of modern that her wedding venue had to offer...we went in to Daevid Reed of Daevid's Floral with an idea in mind and he definitely WOW'ed us with the final creation. All of her event stationery was created by the always amazing RSVP Stationery...and her fabulous dress and bolero jacket (along with Nick's Suit) was from Maya Couture

We have so much more to tell you about her wedding...but for now here is a trailer of their wedding weekend from Rachel's Uncle Tim Hicklin...owner of Storybook Weddings in Lakeland Florida. It was such an honor to work with Tim...we really enjoyed having such an experienced videographer with us for the weekend.

Storybook Weddings of Lakeland Florida captures Rachel & Nick's Cape Charles Wedding from Tim Hicklin on Vimeo.

Halloween Tips: 2009 Revisited

Last Halloween Cheryl Tan (from the Hampton Roads show) came to our studio to talk to us about great inexpensive Halloween Decorating Tips. As always, we had a blast...and wanted to share the video with you again this year. Let us know what you think:

Workout Wednesday: Women and Weight Training

We have had the pleasure of having Lacey Lee Fitness post on our blog for quite a few weeks now, and each time we post we get emails about how much they love the way she honestly and clearly breaks down Fitness and Health. We are honored to have her as our Workout Wednesday Trainer and hope to share pics of her new space soon.

Why Women Need To Strength Train

There are so many myths when it comes to nutrition and exercise.  It’s good that media has put a spotlight on this topic but at the same time it has saturated minds and confused many people on the facts. 

An important topic and one that has myths associated with it is women and strength training. Many women believe that if you lift weights you will become bigger, bulkier and muscle bound like men.  The reality is – women are just not designed that way.
Maybe you have heard or even said yourself “I don’t want to turn the fat into muscle”.  This is a major misconception.  It is impossible to turn fat into muscle, or muscle into fat. 

Some women are so scared to become “man-like” if they lift weights or to look like the women that compete in body building competitions.  The truth is - the vast majority of women cannot build large muscles because they are genetically incapable of doing so. 

In the past, women relied on cardiovascular activity and a low calorie diet to change their physical appearance.   We now know that strength training is absolutely essential in order to create visual changes in our bodies. It has been discovered that the benefits of strength training extend far beyond the visual. 

Something Dr. Oz once said that has always stuck with me – “Once you lose the muscle in your leg -making you unable to walk, your life expectancy drops significantly”.  Basically, if you don’t use it – you will use it.  As we age, muscle mass naturally diminishes.  If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body. 

#1. BURN MORE CALORIES.  The more lean muscle you have – the more calories your body will burn at rest.  

#2. DEVELOP STRONG BONES.   By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

#3. REDUCE RISK OF INJURY. Building muscle helps protect your joints from injury. It also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.

#4.  BOOST STAMINA.  As you get stronger, you won't fatigue as easily.

#5.  MANAGE CHRONIC CONDITIONS.  Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, back pain, depression, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.

#6.  SHARPENED FOCUS. Research suggests that regular strength training helps improve attention.

#7.  REDUCE RISK OF HEART DISEASE.  Weight training can improve cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. When cardiovascular exercise is added, these benefits are maximized.

#8.  REDUCE RISK OF DIABETES.  Research indicates, weight training may improve the way the body processes sugar and can increase glucose utilization in the body.

#9.  IMPROVE YOUR ATTITUDE AND FIGHT DEPRESSION.  A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling did.

#10.  IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO BENEFIT.  Women in their 70s and 80s have built up significant strength through weight training.  Studies have shown that strength improvements are possible at any age.

A sneak peek: Rachel Gets Married

I am so very behind in posting for weddings...but one of my fabulous assistants got married this past weekend and I have to share just one fun photo of their wedding. They got married in beautiful Cape Charles, VA at the Bay Creek Resort. The weather was perfect, the bride was perfect...the details were, well, perfect. I don't want to share too much as we'll post a proper run down of the big event in the coming weeks...but for now here is an image that my pal and amazing photographer David Schwartz shot of Rachel and I after the ceremony.

I also want to mention briefly the other wedding vendors that made this particular image possible...Daevid for the beautiful bouquet, Maya for this fabulous dress, Rachel for her impeccable taste and of course David Schwartz for his artistic ability.

We were headed down to the beach for pictures at sunset...

Workout Wednesday: Importance of Core Strengthening

Below is another great post from Lacey Lee! This week’s topic is focusing on your core…I love that Lacey gives great exercises for both beginner and intermediate readers.

You may be lying if you said you don't care what your mid-section looks like. This area of the body seems to
be the one that people so desperately want thinner, more defined etc. Our mid-section has numerous names
- stomach, belly, abs and core. Core is what I personally like to call it simply b/c it says so much.

By definition CORE means:
1. The hard or fibrous central part of certain fruits, such as the apple or pear, containing the seeds.
2. The central or innermost part
3. The basic or most important part; the essence

Our mid-section is the “core” of our body. This refers to the muscles that attach to the spine, shoulder and
pelvis that provide the necessary stability to hold your body upright with good posture. The core is the link
between the upper and lower body. Core muscles include abdominals, hip flexors and rotators, glutels,
shoulder and back muscle.

Every motion we make in life comes from our core. When you walk down the grocery aisle and reach for a
can of soup - this movement originates in your core. When we get out of a chair - yep, you guessed it -
comes from your core. When your core is strong you will perform your day to day motions more effectively
and efficiently.

Yes, we want our core to look good but it serves a much better purpose. Focusing on core strength should
be an integral part of your workout routines. It’s not just about the front part of your core that needs
attention - your back muscles are equally important. After all - these muscles support our spine.

Unfortunately back pain has tormented too many people (including myself). While I am not saying core
exercises you will have you pain free - you will however be on the correct path of correct posture and
preventing further injury. Most back, shoulder, neck, hips, etc ailments have come from a de-conditioned
body as most of us have horrible posture. This can be from desk jobs or just years of bad habits. When you
strengthen your core one of the first things you may notice is when you walk or sit in a chair you are more

Lying on the floor and doing crunches are okay (certainly better than doing nothing at all) but you will get
much more benefit from doing movements that involve your “whole” core. Exercises that mimic
movements you make every day. How often do you find yourself laying on the floor and needing to
“crunch” up? Not very often. We do however get in and out of our cars. We twist to reach for something.
We turn as we are sitting. The list goes on. Below are excellent core exercises that will not only focus on
your entire core but help prevent you from hurting yourself as you do your day to day movements.

Remember from last week’s blog – use a stability ball, bosu, kettlebell, etc when possible! That way you know you are ALWAYS working your core in your workouts!
Lacey’s 5 TOP Core Exercises
1. Plank
Beginner – lie on the floor and prop yourself up on your elbows and knees. Flatten out your body (without
hyper-extended your back) and hold for 30 secs – 1 min.
Advanced – prop yourself up on your elbows and toes and hold for 30 secs. – 1 min.
*make sure you keep your shoulders over your elbows*

2. Russian Twist
Beginner – sit on your bum with your heels in front of you. Lean back slightly and reach your left hand to
your right hip and your right hand to your left hip – allowing your torso to twist as much as you can.
Advanced – balance on your bum with our feet off the ground. Twist side to side – even put a weight in your
hand to make it even harder.

3. Bicycles
Lie on the floor and lace your fingers behind your head. Bring the knees in towards the chest and lift the
shoulder blades off the floor without pulling on the neck. Straighten the left leg out while simultaneously
turning the upper body to the right, taking the left elbow towards the right knee. Switch sides, bringing the
right elbow towards the left knee.

4. Reverse crunch
Lie on the floor with your hands behind your head. Raise both legs straight up in the air. While keeping your
head down the whole time(very important to keep head down) – roll your hips up. Do 15-20. *It’s a very
small range of motion. You are targeting your lower abs which are smaller muscles and usually people’s
weakest area. *

5. Side Plank Twist
Beginner – lay on one side of your body. Prop your body up on your elbow and your knee. Touch your ear
and bring that elbow to the fist that’s on the floor. Your body will twist forward. Then let the elbow (not the
one on the floor) come up to point to the ceiling. Do 12-15. Switch sides
Advanced – Prop yourself up on the side of the bottom of your shoe (not your ankle) and your elbow. And
perform same move as above. Do 12-15. Switch sides.


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