Signature Drink Saturday: Instant Margaritas

We haven't posted a "Signature Drink" in quite some time...but I saw this on my favorite site (Pinterest) and thought it was perfect for holiday parties! Instant Margaritas!! Just pour Tequila over frozen lime sorbet (in a salted rim glass)...and Voila! Instant Holiday (or summertime) Yumminess.


Every year for the last several years we have posted a "Thankful" post on Thanksgiving Day....and this year, more than ever I felt the urge to continue the tradition. 2011 has been an extremely emotional and trying year personally for me. I have been dealt a deck of cards that I never would have expected, at a time when I least expected it. With the help of amazing friends and event vendors I have gotten through by taking things one day at a time. I truly feel that I have grown stronger.

On a personal level I am thankful for the support of my husband, boys and extended family. I am thankful for the current health of my mom who was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma in May. We are fighting daily to make her life as stress free and comfortable as possible. I am thankful that my boys are creating memories with her that they will hopefully remember long after she has left us. While we all know the outcome, I am thankful to have this time with my mom and family. Each day is more enjoyable than the last and for that I am thankful.

I am thankful for Wyatt and Sophie. Children that left our world too early, but reminded me what is most important in life. Wyatt is the son of my college roommate and sorority sister, Ashley. He was taken from us at only a few weeks old the night before my mom was diagnosed. To say that the week of May 10 was the hardest in my life would be an understatement. Sophie is the daughter of one of my employees, dear friends, and clients, Rachel.  She was a gorgeous baby that passed away the week of her parents first wedding anniversary. Through her and her parents ministry an entire community was brought together. These sweet babies taught me more in their short lives than most people learn in a lifetime. I am thankful for their strength and dignity.

I am thankful for business! 2011 was another amazing year at Antonia Christianson Events. My clients truly kept me sane through the year and without each of them i'm not sure that i'd be writing this post today. I am thankful to every vendor that we have the opportunity to work with...but I am most thankful for those that turned from "colleague to friend" this year. I have friends in this industry that literally dropped everything to support my staff and I when I needed them most. And for that I am thankful.

Finally, I am thankful for my amazing staff that has stuck with me through the years. Each year we grow and learn together. Ladies, Thank you for helping our clients feel like the only brides in the world...just as they should.

I am thankful and eternally grateful.

Real Wedding: Tori and Ryan

Early this year the ACE Team had the honor of planning the wedding of Tori and Ryan. You might remember them from their engagement session featured on the Wedding Chicks Blog or from a recent article in VOW magazine...but we haven't had the chance to properly write up details about this fun couple.

Tori came to us through one of our employees and a mutual sorority sister and we knew immediately she was a great fit for us! I loved planning with Tori and Ryan because their main focus was on each other and on making sure their guests had fun. Yes, we got to create beautiful tablescapes and help them pick out every detail of their big day...but that wasn't the main focus (which was a breathe of fresh air). Tori and Ryan had not been to a million weddings so they didn't have a large list of items that we could not incorporate into their big day. So often, our clients come with a laundry list of details that they have seen at friends weddings and they want to make sure that nothing is repeated. (another breathe of fresh air for us). Their vision for a blue and yellow wedding was perfect for their May nuptials.

Here are a few of our favorite things:
 1. The bridesmaids wore blue knee length dresses with yellow Chuck Taylor sneakers.
 2. Tori took some of her wedding pictures in a yellow cardigan, to match her yellow shoes.
 3. Ryan's face when he saw his wedding present from Tori was PRICELESS. A moment we will never forget.
 4. Their cake! I actually saw an inspiration picture of a similar cake online from a planner that I follow on the West Coast...and I knew it was the perfect fit for this fun couple.
 5. HOMEMADE touches were the key to this wedding and the guests noticed the amount of work and heart that Tori put into the reception.

Here are a few images thanks to the always fabulous Trivium Studio:

Her fun flowers were from Fluttering Flowers, her wedding and reception were held at Cypress Point Country Club, Trivium Studio was their photographer, Patti Cakes was their baker and DJ No Request was their DJ that kept the party rocking all night! 

An Engagement Story: JD and Stacy

It's engagement picture time in the Antonia Christianson Events studio...we are literally getting images of our great couples from amazing local photographers a few times a week. I am like a kid in a candy store opening up all these great emails and sharing the images (and our clients) with each of you. Today i'd like to introduce you to JD and Stacy a fun Virginia couple that now reside in Florida. This adorable couple have known each other practically all of their life but did not start dating until 2008. In 2009 JD proposed to Stacy on a cruise to the Bahamas surrounded by a few dear friends and the rest is history...

The Antonia Christianson Events staff is honored to help guide Stacy and JD through the planning process of their June 2012 nuptials.

Please welcome them to our blog, along with the always fun and great photographer Deanna Casey.


Meghan and Mark: An Engagement Story

               After a bit of a blogging hiatus the ACE team is back to sharing another amazing love story.  We'd like to introduce you to our clients and Meghan and Mark. This couples love story is something special and I'm honored that I have the pleasure of sharing it with you.  This year marks TEN years, the couple have been together, and I’m not talking on and off… but uninterrupted love for a decade.
            The story of Meghan and Mark begins the summer Meghan turned 16 and began babysitting for her nephew, while her sister was a teaching summer school.  Many times she would end up staying with her sister rather than driving home and one afternoon Meghan decided to go on a bike around the neighborhood.  It was during this bike ride that Meghan met Mark. After spending much of the following week together Mark invited Meghan on their first date to Joe's Crab Shack. The rest, as we say, is history...

            They dated all throughout High School and attended College together, soon to become engaged on Oct.6th 2010 during their trip to Hawaii.  Mark proposed at the top of Diamond Head in Waikiki (making that day the happiest day of Meghan’s life).  What a perfect way for two beach lovers to decide to spend the rest of their life together. So Perfect!

Below are a few images from their Virginia Engagement Session from the always amazing Hayne Photographers: 

Emily and Zach: An Engagement Story

I have been holding this engagement story and session for quite some time now...and I am finally excited to share these fun pictures and love story with you.

Emily and Zach were introduced by a sorority sister, Casey, in May of 2010 (both of which happen to be sisters of mine!). Zach had been invited to a wedding of two law school classmates in Texas last August and needed a date. Casey introduced the two via facebook and after a month of texting, emailing and playing hard to get (on Emily's behalf) the two decided to meet...and well, the pictures below show the rest!

Zach and Emily decided to take their engagement pictures somewhere that had a little southern flair and alot of class (both literally and figuratively), just like their upcoming nuptials in January. They decided to take their pictures at Wake Forest (where Zach attended Law School) to include the classic and southern vibe they were looking for. The library ended up being the perfect location. What do you think?


On a side note: We love Emily and Zach's photographer! Kristin Byrum shot another sorority sister of Emily's a while back and Emily fell in love (we can see why!) I know the ACE Team is excited to get to know this North Carolina based photographer.

Monday Meeting: Jarnett Photography

We have taken a few weeks break from our Monday Meetings and wanted to come back with a BANG! Today I am going to introduce you to Ashley and Jen, the masterminds behind Jarnett Photography. I wanted to give you a little back story into my history with these ladies (Ashley in particular) in hopes it gives you some more insight into why I love these girls personally and professionally. Prior to planning fabulous events full time for Antonia Christianson Events I had a corporate job in marketing for a regional wireless phone provider where I planned and implemented corporate events, merchandised a region worth of retail stores (21 to be exact) and worked on media and sponsorships to help secure the name of this provider in Hampton Roads and throughout this region (including 5 states). Actually, not much different from what I do now...anyways, I love Ashley Barnett because when I left corporate america Ashley filled my shoes. She rocked the position obviously and we got to know each other through other ventures we do with Komen for the Cure (a non profit we both know and love). Soon after Ashley took over for me I heard she was a photographer: NO really, a good one. And I have to say, I was impressed from day one with what I saw. Now, since then (it's been a few years) her passion, her style and her drive have changed/grown and become more obvious to the wedding world. She has left corporate america and together with her business partner Jen they are rocking their brand one wedding at a time. Below is a question and answer with these two awesome ladies and of course, a few of their favorite images. As always! Let us know what you think. 

How did you get your start in photography?
I (Ashley) got my start in photography taking film classes in high school and fell in love with black and white images. I always swore up and down I would NEVER want to photograph weddings, but when my god-sister asked me to photograph her wedding in 2007, I realized how much I actually loved being a part of someone’s wedding day… the happiness of a wedding day is infectious and not many people get to say their day job is the happiest day of people’s lives!! From there it began and has continued to be solely word of mouth referrals from past clients which we love! 

Jen began taking an interest in photography through her connection to the automotive industry, and began learning photography techniques by practicing on friend’s cars and her own. She went to a friend’s wedding one day and was completely fascinated by the photographers and began thinking she might want to transition into weddings. It wasn’t long after that she asked Ashley if she could second shoot at one of her first weddings and the rest is history! We realized how perfectly we worked together right from the start and Jarnett Photography was born!

What is your favorite moment to capture at a wedding?
Our favorite moment to capture at a wedding… okay we are cheating and saying two! : ) One, if our couples choose to do a First Look (where the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony), it is by far our favorite part of the day. The emotion and excitement of the day are just spilling over at that point and we love seeing the look on the groom’s face when he sees his beautiful bride for the first time. Our second favorite moment is one that isn’t necessarily categorized: it’s the small, in between moments of the day where we catch the bride and groom smiling each other, or reaching for each other’s hands. We love when we hear from couples “I didn’t even know you TOOK that!”

How would you classify your style of photography?
Our style of photography is inspired, modern, fresh and timeless. We want our clients to be able to look at their images in 15 years and still love them as much as they do today. However, we recognize and understand that our clients have put a lot of thought and detail into making their wedding unique and fun and we want to make sure their images reflect who they are as individuals as well as a couple!

What words of advice do you have for couples seeking the right wedding photographer? 
The biggest piece of advice we can give couples looking for their wedding photographer is take the time to meet with them before booking and make sure you not only like their style of photography but them as people as well! Your photographers will be with you non-stop on your wedding day, and knowing you can joke, laugh and 100% trust your photographers will make your entire day feel less stressed, and of course make for better photos! This is why we blog a lot of personal stories as well as our photos- we want clients to come to our blog and site and feel like they know us before they even contact us! It truly helps them decide right off the bat if we are a good match for them and their wedding!

Below is a picture of the always fun and always fabulous Jen (left) and Ashley (right). Keep updated with their latest and greatest events by visiting their blog or respective facebook pages. Ashley and Jen.  

Sneak Peak: A Cape Charles Wedding

In Mid-July we had the honor of coordinating a wedding the ACE Team had been planning for the last several months in Cape Charles, VA. I always love to be on the Eastern Shore at Bay Creek, it's such a nice feeling to be "away from it all" and in reality only be 30 minutes from our home base. I don't want to share too much about Tricia and Vince's big day...until I have more detailed images to share, but I of course got a little giddy when I saw these images from Trivium Studio. I will however share this sneak peak explanation of their love story: Tricia and Vince met in Mexico while vacationing a few years back. Tricia is a gourmet ice cream sandwich maker based in DC (they are ridiculous amazing sandwiches too!) and Vince is a roofing contractor based in Sunny Southern California. They have lived across the country from each other for 2 years and have never gone more than 3 weeks without seeing each other. It truly is a blessed loved story. James and I had the extreme pleasure of shooting their engagement shoot while in LA this past summer and are so grateful that Vince brought the amazing weather from the west coast to Cape Charles for their big day. They got married in the church Tricia grew up in and had their reception on the water outside of Aqua Restaurant. I hate to put a "favorite" label on any one event because I have very distinct and fun memories from each client's wedding...but these 2 images below might be some of my favorite I've seen in a long time. (i love them so much I ordered 2 humongous canvases for my studio walls). I hope you like them as much as I do:

 Image Courtesy of Trivium Studio

Trust your Vendors: A guide to loving your wedding vendors

I often write posts for this fabulous blog based on questions, comments, concerns, input, etc. of former clients, current clients, friends and vendors and today is no different. I have enjoyed being in the amazing world of events for 12 years now and have owned Antonia Christianson Events for nearly 5 years (can you believe it?). I tell you this so that you, as a reader, understand that there are years of stories to back up the remainder of this post. Today, I'm going to write about trusting your vendors, proper vendor/client etiquette and a bit of random banter that pops into my head.

Image Courtesy: Hayne Photographers 

I think the easiest way to give pointers to our readers is to just bullet a few topics. Below are 5 tips to help ensure that you have the wedding day you have always envisioned:

1.  Have a mutual rapport with your potential vendor before you sign a contract. Make sure that you feel you will trust them and will have an enjoyable working relationship because it doesn't matter how amazing you think a vendors work is if the rapport is not up to par. If there is tension between you and your booked vendor it will absolutely show in their work. You want them to create beautiful flowers for you out of love, or to take amazing pictures because they love working with you and want to see you happy. If there is animosity in the client/vendor relationship then the best foot might not be put forward on behalf of either party.

2.  Trust your vendors. Understand that a respectable vendor is going to give honest feedback and will use their years of experience to give you the best service possible. If a makeup artist that has been in the wedding world for 20+ years tells you down to the minute the amount of time they need to service you and your bridal them. If you have valid questions by all means ask, but don't create your own schedule based on the amount of time you believe they need.

3.  Respectable vendors recommend vendors to you based on their experience. This is a topic that always gets me. Personally, as a vendor I only recommend other vendors that I have had an amazing experience with and those that I would trust with my own event. (this doesn't mean we don't work with new vendors, it just means we can only educate our clients off of the feedback we receive from other vendors in the industry) While I can't speak for all planners or vendors I don't recommend other vendors based on some sort of kickback I might receive as a gift for a recommendation.  With that said...We have to share the bad as well. If a former client is suing their photographer because they haven't received their wedding pictures over a year after their big day, we are going to tell you. This isn't to ruin your hopes and dreams for a wedding photographer, it's to save you the upset after the wedding.

4.  Communication is key! Here is the fine line, it's important that all vendors treat you with respect and respond to you in a quick response time...but it is also important that clients understand that a Friday or Saturday email to a wedding vendor might not be responded to until the Monday or Tuesday after a wedding weekend. This isn't because your wedding vendor is ignoring you, it's because they are taking care of another client on their wedding weekend the way that you would want to be taken care of on yours.

5.  Social Networking is not the way to communicate with your wedding vendors. Yes, Social Networking (Facebook, google+, twitter) are all great ways to see what is happening with your photographer, florist, videographer, etc. it is not the place to contact them about pricing, a product you'd like to receive or anything of importance. Social networking is a great tool, but all important communication about your event should be left to a phone call or an email to their proper email address. Many vendors don't even personally update their social networking: they have staff, interns, marketing associates, etc that create these posts and keep up with the items that take up a lot of time but don't necessarily need to be done by the owner...with this said, if you'd like a response in a respectable amount of time and by the person that you intend it to go to, please call or email your vendors directly.

I hope these 5 tips find you well and help create a proactive and well-received relationship between you and your wedding vendors. All of the items we touched on are topics of recent feedback from clients and vendor friends, so we thought it was a great topic to write about. 

Have a topic you'd like us to cover? Just email antonia{at}antoniachristiansonevents{dot}com

Christmas in July!

As a distributor of Tiny Prints (and their amazing line of stationery) we are often given great sale opportunities...I know that it's only July, but it's never too early to start your holiday shopping, and of course your holiday card shopping. Between now and next Thursday (7/28) if you click through the below banner you'll receive 20% off or your holiday card purchase. If you have any questions please just email us at

Real Wedding: Kristen & Bryan's

In December 2011 we had the honor of planning and designing a beautiful "Winter Witt Wedding" for Kristen and Bryan. Kristen happened to be dear friends to one of my best friends from college so I was truly honored to get the call that they were looking for a planner for their upcoming nuptials. Kristen and Bryan were married on 12-11-10 at the Marriot Newport News at City Center. Kristen had a great vision for her big day and no detail was left unturned. RSVP Stationery created custom designed stationery for their special day that added just the right amount of detail. Her stationery, to say the least, was amazing!  The ceremony and reception flowers were created by a friend of the grooms mother...Karen Mulkey, owner of  Rooms, Blooms and More. The flowers added just the right amount of elegance and personality to both the ceremony and reception. Trivium Studio captured all of the romance and fun (have you checked out their photobooth?)  as DJ Rodney Charles kept the party going late into the night. The whimsical fondant layers of the cake by Patti Cakes had many of the guests in awe (and of course, it tasted as good as it looked).

The ceremony was held in the hotels elegant rotunda. The stage was set by the beautifully lit waterfall glass panels. Kristen beamed as she cascaded the grand staircase from the back of the rotunda with her father by her side (a moment we had envisioned many times before the big day).

The winter ambiance in the ballroom was set perfectly by Blue Steel Pro Lighting. Pin spots showcased the centerpieces as well as the cake. Silhouettes of evergreens cornered the room creating an intimate Winter wonderland.

As always, I wanted to share a few of my favorite details and moments from their big day: Kristen and Bryan were obviously loved! Many family members and friends participated in their wedding and it was such an honor to get to know their family throughout the process. The minister is a very close family friend, he was  like a big brother to the bride and it was obvious how honored he was to share in their big day. Did we mention that the bride and grooms families were best friends? Since before Kristen and Bryan were even born? It was truly the official joining of these two families into one! If I had to narrow down my favorite memory into one I think it would be Kristen doing the electric slide with only her bridesmaids just as she had always envisioned.

Check out the highlight video created by Digital Dreammakers and as always...tell us what you think!

Kristen & Bryan from Digital Dreammakers on Vimeo.

Kristen and Bryan, it was our honor and pleasure to plan and design this wedding for you. We wish you all of life's happiness together!

Real Wedding: Rachel and Nick

Rachel and Nick got married a few weeks ago at The Mariner's Museum in Newport News. They were a complete joy to work with and had such a great energy. They were college sweethearts and are both lawyers, that met in law school. They shared so much love for each other...It was an amazing day!

Isha Foss Events created a beautiful outdoor romantic design that included antique books as centerpieces, a quaint seating area near the dance floor and an adorable sign in table. Brother Lucy, the band and friends of the couple, played throughout the night as the guests danced under the stars in the courtyard of the museum.

We can't give away too many details because there are some exciting things in the works. But here is just one shot from the fabulous Womble Photography.

The up and coming wedding cinematographer Jeremy Mitchell of Jeremy Mitchell Cinema created their wedding video. I have to say, it's pretty amazing. It perfectly captures the love that they have for one another and how fun of a couple they truly are. Here is a sneak peak of their event and some of the details we loved.

Rachel and Nick, a team. from jeremy mitchell on Vimeo.

Monday Meeting: Chef by Design Catering Co.

Chef by Design Catering Co. is a full-service catering company specializing in seasonally inspired menus with beautiful presentation and topnotch service.  They are best known for our world-class cuisine, exceptional service, and excellent event coordination.  Under the direction of Executive Chef, John Patrick Telfer, the culinary staff creates exquisite, personalized menus for each client, all with an eye on appealing presentation, creativity and excellent taste! 

Sophisticated products, old fashioned values, and fabulous service is what has set Chef by Design Catering Co. apart from others and has earned them a reputation for being one of the premiere catering companies in the Hampton Roads region.  

Take a look at this great question and answer session we had with them! 

AC: How did Chef by Design get it's start?

CBD: Chef by Design Catering Co. was previously the Silver Palate Catering Company. Owners, John and Marcy Telfer, started the company in 2002, and changed it's name in 2010, after letting go of their restaurant, the Silver Palate Bistro, in Virginia Beach.  Our goal was to focus solely on our first love - catering!!  We have endeavored to build the success of Chef by Design through our dedication to producing the highest quality private and corporate off-premise events throughout the region.

AC: What are some ways in which you help make an event unique?

CBD: The event must truly reflect the client!  It will be unique when the focus is on what the client envisions, and loves!  We take the time to meet with every client, to hear what their vision is, what foods they love, what level of formality they are looking for, and so on. Our goal is to capture their ideas, and then expand upon that, to offer them creative, beautiful menus and service that they and their guests will remember!  The options are endless how to create a signature event for each client - they will know that it is "their" event, unlike any other!

AC: What are some of the biggest trends for weddings that you've seen? 

CBD: Well, in the area of catering, beautiful food stations with gorgeous linens and beautiful creative accents are hot trends these days.  More and more, it seems the plated dinner is not as popular...our brides want the structure of plated in some ways, but the freedom of stations and displays.  We often encourage the best of both worlds by offering one or two plated courses, and then opening up stations and displays.    In addition, we see a lot of fun "mini" foods, especially as a late evening snack, while guests are dancing and having fun - things like mini sliders, tacos, pizza, french fries, "munchy" items are all the rage, too!  Truly, it is all about the client! It all depends upon their personalities, trend or no trend!  

AC: Do you have any advice for couples looking for the right caterer for their "big day?" 

CBD: I believe it is so important to connect with your caterer.  Couples want to make sure that they are comfortable with the caterer, and that the caterer will take the time to meet with them, have them taste their menu to make sure it is exactly what they are looking for, and to find one who can work with a reasonable budget. I encourage them to not just pick a few items off a standard menu, but instead, take the time to allow a caterer to create something truly special for them on this most important day!  It is important that couples not just be budget driven, because you often get what you pay for.  Chef by Design provides much more than just the food for your day.  We work in very close conjunction with the event planner or coordinator, or other vendors, to make sure that the entire reception flows smoothly and is flawless.  You don't want to entrust that to just anyone!! We develop a lasting relationship with our clients, as we walk them through the planning process of their reception, and it is priceless!!

 Image courtesy of Keith Cephus Photography

Image courtesy of David Schwartz Photography

 Image courtesy of Don Monteaux

Image courtesy of David Schwartz Photography

Monday Meeting: Ramone Photography Studio

This week we wanted to take a look at another great photographer, Ramone! At Ramone Photography Studio, the relationship between the subject and photographer is key to capturing more than just a moment in time. He strives to show more depth through his photographs. Take a look at this great question and answer session we had with Ramone!

AC: How did you get your start in photography?
RPS: I immersed myself in photography when I was 16 & 17 years old. While in my high school photography and art program I also attended professional workshops, photography programs at museums and enrolled in college photography classes. I photographed my first wedding at age 17, as I apprenticed with the areas top wedding photographer of the day. Ramone Photography Studio opened at The Wayside Village Shops in 1994.

AC: What is your favorite moment to capture at a wedding?
RPS: There is always a time in the early part of every wedding that I fall into a zone. It's when everything seems to come together, the magic and romance comes to life. These many special moments occur throughout the day, some similar to other weddings and some unique to the wedding at hand. It's these variety of events & moments that I capture for my clients and they usually become their favorites.

AC: How would you classify your style of photography?
RPS: My career as a professional wedding photographer started just as the "formal" era transitioned to "journalistic". I was fortunate to learn early the value of both styles. I enjoy blending the casually posed formal style, the story-telling candid style with my own creativity, it's what make Ramone Photography Studio unique.

AC: What words of advice do you have for couples seeking the right wedding photographer?
RPS: Once you've done the basics and know you're dealing with a qualified professional, it is extremely important to click with the photographer's personality. There are many great photographers with hard to get along with personalities. You do not want to be annoyed or trouble your guests or your family & friends with a photographer who's hard to handle. Meet your photographer, but if it's too difficult call or have your mother or a bridesmaid pay them a visit. 

Now take a look at some of Ramone's gorgeous photos and let us know what you think!  

Let's make it Yours: Planning for a stylized custom wedding

I often talk about creating weddings and events that are "Unique To You" I thought I'd give you a few pointers on how to fulfill the vision of your dream day. First, lets talk about "insert bride and groom weddings"...these are events where any bride or groom fit into the equation, while they might be beautiful they usually are not memorable to your loved ones. The ACE Team has clients with both types of events, some that are beautiful and classic with out many unique details and some that are super custom with great details. Neither style of event is wrong, it's all a matter of preference. The trend in today's weddings and events include tons of details and fun themes. 

Our Tips for a Stylized Custom Wedding:
1. Plan for yourself (and your groom): Yes, you want your guests to enjoy your day, have enough to eat/drink and dance the night away...But this is also a day to celebrate your love. Whatever you envision is what you should have. Don't worry if you are making everyone happy, or if your wedding is "Traditional enough" for your grandparents. Do what makes you happy, that will make your family and friends happy in return. 

2. Go Big or Go Home!: No, I don't mean spend your lives savings on your wedding, but I do mean if you come up with an idea or theme follow through completely. No one will understand your "Sweet as Honey" theme if you randomly place honey combs around the reception room and call it a day. Let your guests get a glimpse into your big day with your Save the Dates and Invitations and follow through until the last guest has left your reception. It will be memorable for you and your guests. 

3. Communicate: Of course you need to communicate with all parties involved on your big day...but you really need to communicate with your vendors above all else! This doesn't mean to email, call or text multiple times a day but it does mean to be open and honest with your vision. If you love white flowers but hate roses, tell your florist. If you have always envisioned a letter press invitation, tell your stationer. If you have dreamed of amazing event lighting but don't want spinning lights above your dance floor, tell your lighting designer. You should hire all of your vendors because you trust them and love their style, so you should feel completely comfortable with them and trust that what you envision for your big day is what they are going to provide for you. There are literally hundreds of event vendors in Hampton Roads (some of the best in the nation!) but none of them are mind readers...paint a clear picture so they can create your day for you.   

Below are 3 different events with 3 different themes...

The below inspiration board is from an engagement session that the ACE Team created with the help of Trivium Studio. Together with our clients we had a great idea to design their engagement session around "time"... and the quote "You are Every Minute of My Everyday". Yes, I know this isn't a wedding, but I thought it was a great example of how you can take an idea and run with it...the use of props, fun details and amazing photography really pulled this shoot together. Here is the key, if you have an idea for your event or even engagement session, go big or go home. This session would not have been a cohesive idea if we stopped at just the sign, or just a pocket watch. For more images from this shoot and for more design inspiration you can see it featured on Wedding Chicks

Images courtesy of Trivium Studio

Ashley and John, were married in Mexico the month before their "Stateside Nuptials" so when designing their event they wanted to make sure that they included details from their tropical wedding for the guests that weren't able to travel with them. Ashley had a clear vision of what she wanted, the colors she wanted to use (Turquoise and Fuchsia) and some very distinct details. I loved a lot of the details that we ended up using! The escort cards were placed inside adorable bottles that looked like something that would have washed up on the beach. Their table linens and flowers was reminiscent of the colors and style of their bride and grooms reception in Mexico. The Organza overlays and fabric used in the lounge was airy and beautiful. We displayed pictures from their destination wedding throughout the event, in the acrylic coffee tables that Daevid provided, in vintage green glass canisters and even on a large wall of family wedding photos as well. I think my favorite peice of "Mexico" was Ashley's original wedding gown which we displayed near the ice art and bar for all to see. 
Images courtesy of Kat Whitworth

The images below were shot for a well known bridal magazine "Bride and Bloom"...they gave us the color palette and we had to come up with the inspiration and the concept. It's a bit harder to come up with inspiration this way as we didn't have a client to tell us that we were going in the right direction or that they hated our ideas. I invited Daevid Reed of Daevid's Flowers to help me come up with this "secret garden" theme and I absolutely loved the final product! As you can see, everything from the antique china to the shoes matched or coordinated with our Turquoise and Emerald color scheme. A lot of what made this event work was the backdrop venue, the Hermitage Foundation Museum. (This is something that all clients should think about, does your vision match your venue?) You can see more pictures and the actual article here.
Images courtesy of Eleise Theuer

Wedding Ettiquette: Being in the Bridal Party

Image courtesy of David Schwartz Photography

At least a few times a month we are asked about what responsibilities are expected when a bride or groom asks you to be in their wedding party so today we thought we'd share our knowledge. Being asked to be in the bridal party is an absolute honor but, you must remember that this duty includes so much more than standing along side the bride and groom on their big day. In reality, being an attendant in a friends wedding means much more. In general, attendants are supposed to assist the bride and groom whenever possible in addition to paying for their attire (with the exception of flowers) as well as attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, and other pre-wedding events if possible. They should also give the bride and groom an individual gift or contribute to the gift given from the entire bridal party. These great tips come from Emily Post's wedding etiquette!

From our experience we've seen other, more specific duties that the Maid/Matron of Honor and Best Man are entrusted with. The Best Man and Maid/Matron of Honor are to hold the rings during the ceremony of the Bride and Groom, respectively. The Maid/Matron of Honor has the honor of assisting the Bride in choosing the Bridesmaid's attire, and in cases where there is no wedding coordinator/planner hired the Best Man is responsible for remitting the couple's payments to their vendors.  Although the Best Man and the Maid/Matron of Honor are two key participants in the bridal party, the rest of the bridal party have the equally important role of ensuring that all runs smoothly on the big day. The Maid/Matron of Honor is responsible along with the bridal party to plan both the bridal shower and bachelorette parties. The Best Man and rest of the groomsmen/ushers are responsible for planning the bachelor party.

The question was raised to the ACE Team this week about weddings with only 1 attendant...and we'd say that the rules stay the same. The Bride will still be expecting a shower and most likely a bachelorette party as well....but I think the key to remember is that it is ok to ask your guests to bring a covered dish or to host an afternoon tea and desserts style shower rather than a formal luncheon or dinner shower. Most brides that we come in contact with would not want their bridal party going broke trying to plan an over the top shower, so by all means, ask friends and family for help if you know there is no other bridal party member except for the Maid/Matron of Honor and Best man.

We wanted to share our number one gripe from our clients and from friends when it comes to their bridal party...We hear at almost every wedding complaints from our clients about the unwillingness of their bridal party (men or women) to partake in activities that the bride wants for her wedding day or throughout the planning process. Remember, a wedding day should be joyous and should mark the joining of two people, their families and their friends. I often tell my clients that if they wanted me to wear a monkey suit and a tutu and dance around, I absolutely would, because it is their day, and what they envision...Just as you deserve your day and what you envision. Remember that nugget, and you will do an amazing job as a member of the bridal party.

Melanie and Austin: Virginia Engagement Session

I always joke with my staff that it's not October if I don't have an employee getting it was definitely par for the course when our very own Melanie told us that her big day will be Mid-October! I love the crispness of the air in October, the beautiful foliage and of course the celebration of LOVE! I don't want to share too many details about Melanie's wedding day yet, as I'm sure we'll blog about it throughout the coming months...but for now I wanted to leave with you with a sneak peak of their beautiful engagement pictures taken from a dear friend of the ACE Team, David Schwartz.


Monday Meeting: The Boardwalk Photo Booth Company

 We had the great opportunity to talk with our good friend Shawn Cox, owner of The Boardwalk Photo Booth Company, who's been involved in the wedding industry for over twenty years! Take a look at this great question and answer session we had with him and let us know what you think about the amazing pictures as well!

AC: How did you first become involved in the wedding industry?

SC: I started as a local disc jockey back in 1989.  I worked in radio for Z104 & 2WD for about 12 years and was also a full-time wedding DJ and managing partner for one of the local entertainment companies.  Radio was fun and a great experience, but in the end I just really enjoyed weddings.  I loved meeting new people every weekend and it was extremely fulfilling to walk away from a wedding reception knowing how big a difference you made to the bride & groom on such an important day.  The wedding industry has been a part of my life for over 22 years now!  I actually met Carolyn at a wedding and we had our pictures taken in the photo booth on the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier on one of our first dates.  Life hasn't been the same since.  In December 2009, Carolyn and I were talking about the industry and realized that there wasn't a local photo booth presence, and we knew that the trend had been building in Hollywood and in cities like Chicago and New York.  We shopped around for readily available "photo booths" and even looked into the franchises, but weren't impressed with anything.  We wanted to create a much more authentic photo booth experience for our clients, so in the end, we decided to have our vintage-inspired photo booths fabricated to our specifications.  We intended to have the photo booth as a fun side business, but things escalated quickly, forcing me into an early retirement from the DJ business to focus soley on all things "photo booth".  Now we have four photo booths in our collection.  Three of them are the digital photo booths that have made us so popular.  The fourth is actually an antique chemical photo booth from 1959 that spent much of it's life at Sylvan Beach Amusement Park in upstate New York.  As a company, Carolyn and I felt it was important to pay homage to the history of the photo booth, which dates back to 1925, so the old booth has been a welcome addition to our office at Wayside Village. 

AC: What can be some of the benefits of having a photo booth, along with a photographer at your event? 

SC: First and foremost, the photo booth is not a replacement for a professional photographer.  A photographer is SO important as he or she captures the magic of the event from beginning to end.  The photo booth should be considered a replacement to the traditional "party favor".  People often choose to exclude putting disposable cameras each table in lieu of the booth.  Guests are welcome to take photos over and over again - there is no limit, so in the end they get to take home tons of photos imprinted with the bride & groom's logo and wedding date.  We also create a scrapbook on site the clients often use as their only guest book.  Imagine how awesome it will be in twenty years when a couple pulls out the scrapbook and sees all of their guests exactly the way they looked on their wedding day.  The scrapbook is so much more valuable than a book of signatures and ends up being quite the prized possession.  

AC: Would you say there has been an increase in demand for photo booths for recently?

SC: Absolutely.  We certainly feel that they are becoming a staple item at weddings.  It's still such a "new" thing.  The photo booths receive constant praise from guests as "the best idea EVER".  We hear it at every single event.  We have to admit that it wasn't our idea, but we are doing our best to perfect it.

AC: What advice do you have for a bride and groom when they're looking for a way to make their event unique?

SC: Well, a photo booth is definitely a unique addition, but there are so many great design elements available for weddings now.  Hampton Roads has some of the very best vendors you'll find anywhere.  From uplighting the walls and pin spotting the tables to elaborate ice bars and swanky lounge furniture.  The sky really is the limit these days.  If a client can dream it, the vendors in our area can pull together and make it happen.  We see it every weekend.  "Don't be afraid to be different".  That's our advice.  It's 2011, and it's cool to throw tradition to the wind and have FUN! 

    Both of these great outdoor shots were taken by Shawn!


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