Monday Meeting: Stephanie Greeves

It's Monday! And you know what that means...another fabulous event vendor to introduce you to! Today, we'd like you to meet Stephanie Greeves...not your typical wedding vendor, but someone that most brides can agree, she's someone they'd love to meet and work with before (and after) their big day. Stephanie is a born and raised Virginia Beach gal with an extraordinary dance background. She has taken her love for dance and fitness and combined them into one...her dance studio Center Stage Dance Company started offering fitness classes this past year and they are a humongous hit (and the studio is packed).  Zumba is a fave of ours...but the studio also offers stretching and conditioning classes. (and you can even see a few of our staff in their adult tap classes). 

Meet Stephanie:
A few ZUMBA regulars performing our love for fitness at the annual Fairfield Fall Festival.
(Instructor, Stephanie Greeves, in Center)
What is your dance and fitness background?Dancing has been a part of my life for the past 30 years.  I began dancing as a toddler and haven't stopped since!  My dance training involved a variety of styles of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, modern, pointe, and contemporary.  I grew up in a local dance studio which gave me an amazing foundation for dance.  I also trained with master teachers in the area to further develop my teaching style and help me become a stronger dancer.  Most recently, I obtained my Zumba Instructor's License....exercising has never been so much fun! 

What made you leave teaching career to pursue opening a dance studio?
My love for children and my passion for dance were the perfect marriage and instrumental in my decision to open a dance studio!  I was formerly a Kindergarten and First Grade teacher (in addtion to a dance instructor).  I was given the opportunity to host a mobile dance program for a group of local preschools, which solidified the idea that teaching dance was what I was meant to do. As the children began to grow out of the preschools, I had to just let them little butterflies out into the big wide world!  Sometimes this resulted in children joining a dance studio in their neighborhood, but often it just meant they were finished with their dancing hobby.  I wanted to give these little ballerinas a place to call home. Opening a dance studio is the best of both worlds.  I get to nurture and train children in a discipline that I feel so much passion towards!   I wanted to give adults a chance to dance as well, but so many ladies are intimidated by the typical ballet class. I decided to offer Zumba to expose adults to many styles of dance without having them attend the traditional dance class. 

What is your favorite style of dance?
I have two favorite styles of dance, one for the traditional dance studio and the other is my Zumba favorite!  Tap is hands-down my favorite style of dance.  I love the sounds, both simple and complex, and how taps can create their own music! You have the chance to be a little over-the-top when you tap!  Tap takes practice, it is not an easy style to pick up, but once you get it, I guarantee you will be hooked!  Salsa is my favorite interntational rythm.  I love the way the music gets you moving. You just can't stop dancing once you get that beat in your head!

What can someone expect when they come to your studio for the first time?
You will find both our dance classes and fitness classes are very welcoming to new students.  The students in both of those classes are never competitive and always embrace an additional dancer.  New ladies who attend Zumba classes always worries they won't know the routines, but that is the beauty of catch on to the choreography quickly becuase of the repetitive nature of the dances. Ladies always worry that they will look silly or that they don't know how to dance.  I always tell them "no one has time to look at you!"  Everyone is consumed with themselves and trying to follow along, that they just don't have time to notice that you might be on the wrong foot!  99% of the ladies who try the first class return for a second class! 

Typically, how many calories do you burn in a Zumba class?
 It all really depends on your body type and the amount of effort you put into each workout.  Typically, ladies can expect to burn at LEAST 500 calories.  A few of my regular Zumba girls wear monitors and have reported burning over 1,000 calories on multiple occasions!   

What makes Zumba so enjoyable for you?
I love that you don't feel like you are exercising when you Zumba!  It just feels like fun...a dance party!  It makes me so happy to see my friends and Zumba crew working hard on their fitness goals and to know that I am a part of their journey.  There are many reasons why ladies attend a Zumba class...some for help with their weight loss, others just to help them lead a heathier lifestyle.  I am so honored that we have formed a bond that goes far beyond the typical gym membership!

You can check out Zumba yourself 6 times a week at Center Stage Dance Company
($5.00 per class or a 10 class punch card for $40.00)
Mondays at 8:30
Tuesday-Thursday at 8:00pm
Saturdays at 8:00am 
Sundays at 4:00pm

Monday Meeting: My Mom.

I try not to get too personal on my blog, but, Today is a little different. Yesterday, I lost the most amazing woman I know, My Mom. After 11 months and 2 days fighting brain cancer she lost her fight. I'd like to introduce you to her:

There are a million and one things that I should be doing, but all I can do is think about my mom. Everything I touch and do is a constant reminder of her…so I thought I’d do what I do best and that’s talk (or in this case, write) to introduce this amazing woman to you.

I can start with the basics; my mom was a 54 year old ball buster. She knew everyone, everywhere. She was the epitome of popularity. She loved to eat out and to entertain. (Maybe that’s where I get my love for throwing a good party.) She was an educator, not just at the high school she taught at for many years, but she also played one in real life. She was hilarious…besides muttering the words “I love you” to me daily until she couldn’t speak anymore…the last cognitive thing she said to me was “HOT DAMN!” (Just last weekend when I told her I heard there were hotties in heaven). She was hard headed and stubborn. She never let the doctors tell her that her disease prognosis was weak, and she never took it as a death sentence, she fought until there was no fight left. She was full of grace and beauty. She never understood how beautiful she was, both inside and outside, but everyone she encountered knew it.

She is a supporter. Truly. She is a supporter for those she believes in. For the causes she believes in. Thankfully, myself, my husband, our businesses and our family are causes she believed in. Still on her dining room table is a copy of every magazine that I’ve ever been featured in.  She was proud. Each time I ran into her friends and acquaintances they knew exactly who I was through her stories and accolades. She was a believer.

She always had open arms. Through her I learned that not only is the family you are born into important, but the family that you choose is as equally important. Without this belief system I wouldn’t have my husband, whom she took under her wing and introduced me to on her front porch 9 years ago. My sister Marci, my Taunte Sunday. I could go on and on. With her gone, I will lean on my “family”, the one that she chose for me, so that I would not be alone without her.

There are so many things I could say about her. But I’ll leave you with this:  She told it like it was. She was humble. She was smart. She was love. She was witty. She was kind. She was bold. She was captivating. She was gracious. She was generous. She was tactful. She was mothering. She was strength. She was clever. She was smart. She was courage. She was mom. 

Signature Drink Saturday: Cranberry Ginger Fizz Cocktail

How pretty is this drink? Fresh Cranberry, Lemon, Refreshing could you go wrong? 
Cranberry Ginger Fizz Cocktail

You'll need:
1 cup of fresh cranberries
1 wedge of Lemon
4 sprigs of mint 
1/2 an orange slice 
3/4 cup sugar 
1 cup ginger ale
3/4 cup water 
1.5 cups dry gin 

Here's what you'll do: (taken directly from Creative-Culinary)

  1. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; pour off all but one cup of syrup, reserving any extra for another use.
  2. Heat the syrup to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Add the cranberries and simmer for 2-3 minutes until they just begin to burst. Remove from heat and let cool in syrup.
  3. Place 2 Tablespoons drained cranberries and 6 Tablespoons cranberry syrup in a large pitcher; add the lemon wedges and orange slices.
  4. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, vigorously mash the fruit.
  5. Stir in gin and let steep for at least 5 minutes.
  6. Strain into a medium pitcher.
  7. Fill 4 glasses with crushed ice and 1/4 cup ginger ale.
  8. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and then pour half the cranberry mixture into the shaker and shake vigorously for 10 seconds, strain liquid into two glasses. Repeat.
  9. Mound additional ice on top of each glass and garnish with 3 candied cranberries and a mint sprig.

An Engagement Story: Sara and John

We are on an engagement session post frenzy this week and LOVE it! Meet Sara and John...a fun couple getting married this fall at Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center. Sara and John have been such an enjoyable couple to work with, laid back with awesome style! We are also excited about working with the artist behind these pictures...Mr. Glenn Bashaw of Images in Light! We have heard so many great reviews over the last few years of his work and love these engagements...their wedding images are sure to ROCK!

An Engagement Story: Casie and Mark!

Meet Casie and Mark...a gorgeous couple (obviously, check out those pictures) with a gorgeous heart. We have been working with this happy couple for over a year now and love the amount of work that Casie has put into all of the "little details" for their big day. I don't want to share too much, because I know how many details will fill their after wedding post, but for now, a few of their engagement pictures from the always fabulous Bill Murray. We CANNOT wait for this June wedding at the Chrysler.

An Engagement Story: Lindsay and TJ

 Meet Lindsay and TJ...We are so excited to assist them in the planning process of their wedding!  We also love that we have so many mutual friends that are ACE clients. Who knew we ran in the same circles (maybe we aren't as out of the cool loop as we thought?!) including Lindsay's brother Brian and soon to be sister-in-law Jessica. Lindsay and TJ will tie the knot September 8th at one of our favorite venues, Bay Creek on the Eastern Shore!  Love and wishes to this happy couple. 
Thanks Justin Hankins for these gorgeous pictures. 

Monday Meeting: Lindsey Spears

Each week we introduce you to special event professionals across the Hampton Roads Region (and sometimes the nation) and today is no different. Today, we'd like to introduce you to an amazing event professional that got her start right here with Antonia Christianson Events. Our very own Lindsey Spears is quickly making a name for herself across the non-profit world and of course as our staff "Day Of" coordinator. We love her, and you will too! Meet Lindsey:

Image Courtesy of Trivium Studio
How did you get your start in events?  
 I started as an intern with Missy when I was a Junior at Virginia Wesleyan College. I am now the Special Event Coordinator at Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tidewater full-time, as well as the day-of coordinator and event assistant for Antonia Christianson Events.

What would you like your ACE clients to know about you? 
I am very dedicated to ensuring that their wedding is just that, their wedding. Even though ACE has many other clients, come their wedding day, the day is all about them. Every client has their own vision for the day, and it is my job to make sure that that vision is carried out to the completely and also to make them feel like this is the only wedding we have all year. They deserve that attention and dedication on the most important day of their lives.  

What is your favorite moment at a wedding? 
I love when the bride and groom have a first look, or share their first dance in the reception room with just the photographer. It is easy to get wrapped up in all of the other events and people throughout the day, but taking that alone time to reflect on the real reason they got to this day, the love for one another, is always special to witness. 

What is your favorite event you have ever been apart of planning?
I loved the Rowland/Sisson wedding. Every detail was thought through, from the logo for the day, to the theme, and the colors, and was executed so beautifully. I loved that the whole event was spectacular. Mixed with the abundance of love between the bride and groom, and the joy that all of their guests expressed, it was truly an incredible event. 
Above Image from Womble Photography 

Above Image from Womble Photography 

Above Image from Womble Photography 

Above Image from Womble Photography 

Above Image from Trivium Studio
Above Image from Trivium Studio

Signature Drink Saturday: Green Flash Cocktail

It's Easter Weekend...Obviously we need to share a bright colored happy drink with you! Meet the Green Flash Cocktail! This bright lime green color is a fun punch of color that would add a special touch to any wedding!

Green Flash Cocktail Recipe
1 oz vodka
1/2 oz Peach Schnapps
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
3 oz orange juice
3 0z sprite

Planner Panel: Thursday Round up!

Over the last six weeks I have had the great opportunity to sit on a "planners panel" for the great site Wedding Industry Experts...I truly am not sure why they picked me of all people but it is an absolute honor nonetheless (truly, some of my industry mentors and idols are on this panel). Myself along with some of the Worlds foremost event planners (yes, it's world wide, not nationwide! YIKES!) have spent time each week answering questions about the wedding and social event industry. Today I thought I'd post the first 6 questions in one place so you all can learn a bit more about myself and my team, Team ACE. Below is a screenshot of the site but you can also subscribe to receive these weekly updates as well!

1. Why did you become a Wedding Event Planner or Wedding Designer?
     I became a wedding planner for the emotional impact of the wedding planning process. I was raised in the behind the scenes hustle and bustle of the event world through my grandparents food distribution business. I remember attending conferences and events with my grandmother since I was young and always loved the details that went into these events thrown for her clients with their product. 
     After graduating high school and attending college I held numerous internships and positions that helped bring those detail oriented memories into a full time career. When I graduated college I held positions in radio promotion and for a large wireless phone provider as a corporate event planner but soon realized while I loved the details, organization and promotional aspect of my career I needed more… I needed emotion. I wanted to work with clients that were as passionate about their love and vision as I was. 

In 2007, this dream came to fruition with the opening of Antonia Christianson Events.  

2. What advice would you give someone thinking about becoming a Wedding Event Planner or Wedding Designer?
     I think I give the same advice to each person that contacts me about becoming a wedding or social event planner…Create realistic expectations with a clear vision of your future and research, research, research. I often hear through Antonia Christianson Events interns and newer industry professionals that they wish they had known more about the ins and outs of the event world before they went into business for themselves or chose the social events planning career path. 
     In our modern time, weddings are sensationalized and growing by leaps and bounds daily. The thought of becoming a planner is exhilarating and trendy but it is by no means easy or a  weekend job. If you are in a position that an internship would be applicable to you, I would recommend taking it, this will help gain real life experience and let you get a accurate vision of what it is that planners do on a day to day basis. 
     I would also invite event mentors from your community to lunch or for coffee, talk to them about when they were starting out, how you can grow and any advice that they might share with you. Having a mentor in your profession is key and something that has personally helped myself and my business grow. 
     Throughout these experiences and vendor research you will be able to create a clear vision with realistic expectations, and goals for your own potential business.

3. Before you built your reputation as a leading Wedding Planner or Wedding Designer, how did couples find out about your service and how did you land your first paying client?
     Luckily for me, I was born and raised in the market that I mainly plan out of. I had worked in radio promotion and corporate events for years so the transition to Social and Wedding Planning was easy and natural. 
     Many of the vendors that I had grown to know and love (and even grow up with) were already familiar with my level of professionalism and experience because they had worked with me first hand. 
     As I grew into the wedding industry many of my first paying clients were brought to me by the corporate event world. For me, it was an honor that these corporate professionals saw the need for me to grow outside of that bubble and to expand my planning business.

4. When you first started your business, If you could have done one thing differently, what would it have been? 
     If I had the knowledge that I do now about being a business owner when I first opened Antonia Christianson Events I would actually change two key things. First, I would have a more solid, proper contract. I look back at old contracts and laugh. I didn't have clients addresses, event dates, any detail of importance.  I had a simple one page “contract”  that listed what the client would get and no “fine print” to protect myself or my company…of even the client for that matter. 
     Thankfully no issues ever arose, but a strong contract is definitely something that should be taken seriously. 
     Second, I would have a stronger brand. It sounds silly for me to say coming from my marketing background but my “previous brand” was definitely lackluster. Our previous company logo, website, and over all company aesthetic or lack thereof makes me a bit uneasy to even think about. I am so proud of the steps that I took to make sure that myself, my staff and my company now exude the strong “Antonia Christianson Events Brand” that I had always envisioned.

5. What is the name of your business and why did you choose it?  Do you have any advice for people trying to decide on a name for their Wedding Planning or Designing business? 
     The name of my business is Antonia Christianson Events and I chose it for more than the obvious “It’s My Name”. When I was deciding what to name my business I had a million and one ideas running through my head, but a few key factors stood out. I wanted a name that showed my dedication to my clients and the industry along with something that could be abbreviated easily without ruining my brand.
     By naming my business my personal name it is a constant reminder that If I do something that I would be less than proud of, or my staff does…not only would business go down the drain, but so would my literal name. Many vendors and clients in my local market also call us “ACE” and I call my dedicated staff “TEAM ACE”. To me this represents not only that we are “top notch” but also that Antonia Christianson Events is a team effort, not just a one lady show.  
     If I were to give advice for new vendors trying to choose their business name I would say, think thoughtfully, make sure it is a name that can carry itself through many trends and decades of business along with something that you would be proud to call your own.

6. What type of people make the best Wedding Event Planners or Wedding Designers?
     I do not think there is one specific “type” of person that makes the best planner…but I do think there is definitely a common ground between most planners. In my experience, great planners always have their clients best interest at the forefront of their mind, they have a clear vision for the client (which goes past their personal opinion or taste), they are organized beyond belief and are able to speak eloquently and respectfully to couples and vendors alike.

Megan and Phil: An Engagement Story

As you know, Antonia Christianson Events loves to help couples plan their big day! Meet Megan and Phil, who will tie the knot on September 29, 2012.  Their gorgeous engagement pictures were taken by Sam Hughes Photography.  Check out these fun and trendy pictures below! Who wouldn't want the Washington Monument in their engagement pictures? So cool!  Congratulations Megan and Phil!! Team ACE can't wait for your fabulous outdoor garden wedding at Founders Inn!


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