I’m very excited to be able to share today’s fashion meets cherry blossom spring DC engagement session by Lisa Boggs Photography. Nicole and Michael are sportscasters who met and fell in love with DC, so it was no surprise when they requested a quintessential DC engagement session with our famous spring cherry blossom trees. They began the day bright and early during the golden hour of sunset at the Lincoln Memorial. And while the blossoms had grown quite a crowd by sunrise, the couple managed to get some beautiful images at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial as if they were the only people in the area! They could not end the day without having their bassett hound Josie join in on the fun. The group moved to the historic Naylor Court in Shaw, where Josie stole the show with those adorable ears. We love everything about their fun session, and wish them the best on their wedding next year! Thank you Lisa Boggs Photography for sharing adorable session with us today!
We recently fell in love with the new Northern Virginia wedding venue Historic Rocklands when doing site tours a few weeks ago. The historic property sits on acres of lush green gardens, and has a show stopping refurbished chandelier on the portico, making the perfect backdrop for a ceremony or photo session. So when DC wedding photographer Dawn Gardner shared a Victorian inspired styled shoot with us, we could not wait to share with our readers. We know it can be frustrating to couples getting married when they look at blogs and see stylized shoots and don’t know how to relate that to their wedding but today we are breaking down some of the trends in this lovely session in the hopes that it would be easy to replicate or use for your own big day! Thank you to DG Photography for sharing today’s Historic Rockland’s Inspiration session with us!
Chair adornments such as sashes, caps, and covers are an up and coming luxury trend that adds a layer of texture and glam to the wedding décor. For those couples on a budget, the use of special seating arrangements (such as a kings table) with chair adornments will amplify the special nature of the table, be a focal point for photos, and also be cost conscious. The sashes in today’s inspiration session are layered vertically on the chiavari chairs and are held together with a jeweled tie on.
The dessert or cake table should never be an after thought. Just like in these photos, the addition of a decorated cake stand and a few loose florals around the base can elevate the table to the next level. Cake stands do not have to break the bank; most cake bakers rent decorative stands out, and Homegoods is already a wonderful place to find metallic and decorative options! Ask your florist to add a few fresh sprigs of greenery or flowers to your order to nestle into the stand and you have created a unique look for guests to oooh an ahhh over!
Julia and Hunter met back when they were teenagers summering at the Outer Banks. They knew their love was special and it lasted long distance when Hunter went back home to Southern Virginia and Julia went back to Maryland. Over time their relationship blossomed further and went an even greater distance when Hunter enlisted in the army and served our country overseas. When Hunter returned stateside, he set to proposing to his waiting love and they began planning their Maryland wedding ceremony and reception immediately. Since Hunter was a veteran and their wedding was taking place Memorial Day weekend, they wanted to include an homage to the United States without being cheesy. We love their light use of a red, white, and navy color scheme which was reflected in the bridal party attire, as well as their décor. The couple shared that during a moment of silence for all those who served that was held during dinner, you could feel the love and pride in everyone’s hearts. To pay homage to the start of their love story, votive candles from OBX acted as their wedding favors and their respective home states on the corn hole boards. We love such small personal touches in a wedding story, and thank you to their planning team at Rose Gold Events for sharing their special Woodlawn Manor wedding with us today!
Congratulations to Julia and Hunter! Thank you for sharing your Maryland Memorial Day weekend wedding with us! The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:
Anyone who is in the throes of wedding planning will tell you that they are looking to make their big day stand out! No one wants a cookie cutter wedding that looks just like everyone else’s! We are all familiar with photo booths and surprise choreographed wedding party dances, but if you are searching for some more unique options to keep your guests entertained while you’re looking at your new spouse with googly eyes, look no further! We have rounded up some of the coolest wedding entertainment options that are currently on trend in the DC area.
Interactive Food – Seriously guys, everyone loves when they get a fantastic meal at a wedding, but when you also wow your guests by including them in the experience, they won’t forget it! We are big fans of interactive food options at weddings and these can be done in tons of different ways. An option that is definitely worth discussing with your DC wedding caterer is having a make-your-own bar on your wedding day. The possibilities on this are practically unlimited; go for a mimosa bar with tons of differences juice choices and fresh fruit, or if you are looking for something a little more savory, a mac and cheese bar with every topping imaginable is always a crowd pleaser! Toward the end of the night, instead of having enough wedding cake to feed an army cut a small cake for photos and offer your guests an ice cream sundae bar where they can make their own fun creations. Another one of our favorite interactive dessert options is a cotton candy machine! With UWL vendor Fluffness, you get all of the whimsy of eating the dessert of your childhood with an added adult twist: creative and inventive flavors to tickle your mature taste buds like sweet jasmine, almond, or salted caramel!
Silhouette Artists/Caricaturist – Caricatures and other drawings can make for a great keepsake for your wedding day – not only for you and your new spouse, but also for your guests! In lieu of traditional favors that often get forgotten or thrown out, hiring an artist to capture the fun of your friends and family is something that they are sure to cherish! These artists like Tiny Paper Portraits can usually accommodate around 15 guests per hour, so make sure you hire them for a long enough period to get in as many guests as you think will be interested. Want to make it a little more personalized to your big day? Supply specialty paper with your monogram or the date of your wedding for the drawings to be done on!
Dueling Pianos – Two pianos are always better than one! This option is one that is sure to get your guests out of their seats and having a great time. Generally performed by very talented and high energy professionals, the songs can often be done on request and will definitely get your friends and family involved in the fun! The only trick here is making sure that the performers are able to easily travel to your venue and have somewhere they can set up across from each other – pianos aren’t super easy to transport around!
Hula Hoop Dancers – Although this may sound like a silly one, having hula hoopers at your wedding could be the next big trend! This activity has transcended its music festival origins to become a fully-fledged option for wedding day entertainment. Many hula hoopers come with multiple hoops that light up or make noise and they can do so amazing things with them! Don’t count this one out just yet.
Hands-On Guest Books & Keepsakes – There are tons of ways to integrate hands-on activities that will create lasting wedding memories. Boring old guest books with signatures and brief well wishes have gone by the wayside and interactive experiences have taken their place. It makes it more memorable when the guests can really take part in the wedding, and this is the perfect way to do so! Taking Polaroids or photobooth photos, writing a little note, and inserting them into a nice leather bound book is certainly a more personal option. Similarly, video guest books are becoming really popular – for this you might want a quieter space for your guests to record their congratulations, but it is something that can have you crying from laughing! One of the most unique guest book options we have heard (and love!) is writing a small note on a piece of paper and inserting it into a pinata to be popped open on the bride and groom’s first anniversary – how fun is that?! In the same vein as unique guest books is interactive keepsakes. For example, one option that we think is super cool is a large board covered in paint balloons that guests can pop via dart to make a colorful and fun item for the bride and groom to take home! No other piece of art will compare!
Mixologist/Flair Bartender – Whether you are looking for fancy and customized cocktails, or someone who can entertain your guests with bottle flipping, juggling, and tricks, hiring a specialty bartender can really be a crowd pleaser. It’s a great option for cocktail hour, where guests are generally just mingling in small groups chatting and drinking before they sit down for dinner. If this is a path that you choose to go down at your reception, make sure you have traditional bartenders on hand too for those guests who want to grab their cocktail and head back to the dance floor stat.
Food Trucks – Okay, we promise this is the last food themed activity, but we just couldn’t help ourselves! Food trucks can be particularly exciting as late night treats, or something that can create a break in the night, post dinner. The options for these snacks are so diverse that we can’t even name them all. Some of our favorites include an ice cream truck (we love Scoops2u), doughnuts, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, and popsicles. Honestly, who wouldn’t love a nice greasy slice after sampling all of the fantastic signature cocktails, or a popsicle to cool down from all of the amazing dance floor action?! If you are looking for more food truck inspirations or options, we did a deep dive into the subject in our What You Need To Know About Food Trucks at Weddings advice post!
Tarot Card Readers – Maybe your guests are dying to know when they too will walk down the aisle! Help them out by bringing in a tarot card or palm reader in for some added entertainment. I bet this isn’t something your guests will have seen at a wedding before and they can really have a good time hearing about what is in store for them in the future!
Lawn Games – If you are having an outdoor reception or cocktail hour, lawn games can be a great option to keep your guests having fun while you are taking photos or making your rounds. We love customized cornhole boards, giant jenga, and ring toss just to name a few! These are also great DIY options that can be done to match your design and décor. Although this isn’t exactly a “lawn game,” adding some comfy furniture to complement your games make for a great opportunity for guests to hang out and watch the fun without feeling like they have to participate if they aren’t feelin’ it.
Magicians – Hiring a magician is a great way to amuse your wedding guests either during the cocktail hour or reception. Do you want a “strolling magic” performance? Local magician Josh Norris does a great job walking around putting on mini shows to entertain small gatherings of guests. This could be done while people are chatting and enjoying their drinks during cocktail hour, or later in the night when guests are taking a break from the dance floor; this is a very flexible approach and is a little less intrusive than having a show put on while guests are seated before, during, or after dinner.
We hope you enjoyed hearing about some of our favorite weddin entertainment options! Of course there are so many more things to choose from, but we think this list is a pretty good start! Curious what other local couples are doing on their big day to keep their guests amused? Check out all of our DC area real weddings for some inspiration and ideas!
As summer starts to wind down, we are excited to share the first of the fall DC wedding ceremony and receptions to get you ready for cooler temps and autumn hues! The lovely ladies at Howerton Wooten Events shared Sarah and Michael’s intimate President Lincoln’s Cottage wedding with us today! The happy couple were married last October, and want to know the best part? They were each ordained and became licensed DC Marriage officiants in order to be able to actually marry themselves! What a personal and amazing touch for their guests to be able to experience on their wedding day. We love the rust colored autumn flowers, and how Sarah changed into a deep blue lace gown for her reception dress! Thank you to Stephen Bobb Photography for sharing this fun wedding with us today!
Congratulations to Sarah + Michael! Thank you for sharing your Washington DC historical home wedding with us! The following Washington DC area wedding professionals contributed to their wedding:
Thank you for following along with another week of great DC wedding receptions, wedding planner advice, and tent budget talk this week! We are capping off with the sweetest Fredericksburg Virginia Engagement Session by Megan Ann Photo. The couple wandered the historic streets of the quaint Northern Virginia town before scooting down to the Rappahannock River with their photographer to capture beautiful sunset photos. They don’t call those precious moments before sunset the “golden hour” for nothing! Thank you to the happy couple and Megan Ann Photo for sharing their photos with us today! Check back next week for more amazing DC wedding inspiration!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from engaged couples: “The tent for our wedding is going to cost how much?!”
Yes, tents for weddings and special events are expensive. Whether you are putting a tent up in your backyard, or over a hardscaped surface at your wedding venue, the associated costs for a wedding tent are going to begin at several thousand dollars. Note that I said “begin,” as in that is where the price for a wedding tent starts. I am going to lay it out for you, and show you, just exactly why wedding tents cost what they do.
To help you understand why wedding tents are so expensive, it might help to visualize a tent set up at a real wedding. At the most recent at-home wedding that I worked on in Great Falls, Virginia, I set up my Go Pro camera to film the tent set up by both the Sperry DC crew, and the wedding day set up by the staff from Ridgewells Catering who handled the tables, chairs, and other final touches. I hope that seeing this will begin to explain why tents cost so much money.
THE REALITY OF LABOR COSTS
With most service-based business, the bulk of the cost of a wedding tent is in the labor. For the wedding in Great Falls, Virginia as seen in the timelapse video, we had a crew of about six people working for three days in a row, for an average of six hours per day. That’s about 100 hours of labor just for the set up. The breakdown, or taking apart, of the tent after the wedding was over took another small crew about eight hours. The labor and hours it takes is the most crucial part of understanding why a tent for your wedding costs so much money.
The single most important factor to consider when it comes to a tent is ensuring that it is installed properly and safely by a crew of experts. A tent for your wedding is no place to skimp. You are better off skipping the tent all together than going with a disreputable company who appears to save you money. You don’t want the tent to come down in the middle of the wedding or your wedding guests to be in any type of danger! It is critical that professional experts to install your wedding tent.
MATERIALS + RENTALS
Another factor that impacts the cost of a wedding tent are the disposable materials. Even if these items aren’t as visible as the tent itself, they are critical to the tent’s set up and they impact the price. I’m talking about items that will end up in the trash after the wedding is over and the tent is taken down. For this tent set up in the video, the disposable materials includes the carpet on the floor, some of the floor pieces themselves, and the wrap used on the side of the tent floor to hide the internal flooring installation. It costs the tent company money to purchase these items and have them available for your wedding to make your tent look beautiful and gorgeous.
In addition to the disposable materials, there is a certain amount of the tent set up that is reused so you are essentially renting it for your wedding. For the tent wedding rentals, I’m talking about a gorgeous sailcloth tent, those beautiful wood stained poles, the hardwood dance floor, the string lights, the generator and more. These rented items for a tent wedding will see a certain amount of wear at your event. After each event, they need to be repaired and possibly replaced. It costs the tent rental company quite a bit to ensure that these rented items are in perfect condition and ready to be reused at the next wedding.
The final big factor in the cost of a tent for a wedding is the overhead incurred by the rental company. For the small Virginia wedding in the video, the tent company sent a sales representative to the home to walk us through the proposal and survey the yard, she also worked hard behind the scenes to ensure that the generator could accommodate the lighting and the band, and she created a custom floor plan for the wedding. Tent companies have offices (rent, furniture and supplies, utilities), trucks (payments, maintenance, fuel, insurance) and the inventory itself. I could go on and on!
There you have it – why your wedding tent is going to cost that much. Hopefully I was able to take you behind the scenes with this post and with the video to show the intensive process setting up even the smallest of tents can be. Tents for weddings aren’t cheap. And, they shouldn’t be, yet done right they can be show stopping venue alternatives for the perfect at home or outdoor wedding.
Do you have your eye on a gorgeous designer wedding gown but are worried about the financial impact it will have on your budget? Well, we have a tip for you – check out local bridal sample sales and trunk shows. We are thrilled share some advice from Carine, owner of Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Washington, D.C., who is offering some tips on “surviving” a sample sale. We are excited to share that Carine’s Bridal Atelier is currently in the middle of their National Bridal Sample sale at their new Georgetown Bridal Salon which everyone should make an appointment to visit ASAP! Sample sales present the opportunity for brides to get the couture look without the couture price tag. On that note, take it away, Carine:
What exactly is a sample sale?
A sample sale is where we sell the actual floor sample gowns from our shop to make room for the new gowns. I like to remain fashion forward with my gown selection, which means sample sales are necessary to make sure we have room for the new stock. Sample sales are a great way for brides to purchase a high-end designer gown at a much lower price.
Are accessories available in a sample sale?
Yes, some accessories are usually included in our sample sale. We have veils from an array of designers to choose from as well as Oscar de la Renta heels. In regards of jewelry, we usually have an accessory sample sale at a different time. That way brides can focus on thing at a time; first the gown, then the accessories. Our accessory designers include Homa, Tia Mazza, Peter Langner, Cheryl King, Paris and Siman Tu.
How can a bride prepare for attending a sample sale?
The best way to “prepare” for a sample sale is to come with an idea of what silhouette and style you are interested in. Sample sales can be a bit hectic and overwhelming, especially if it is the first time a girl is trying on gowns. Sample sales are best for the girl who knows what she wants, but might be on a tighter budget. Be prepared that dresses have been tried on previously and prepare mothers and appointment helpers in advance so that they don’t fret over any small imperfections during the appointment.
Are appointments shorter or longer at a sample sale vs. a regular appointment?
Our sample sales are first come, first serve. We don’t have “appointments” per se at the sample sale. We have bridal consultants floating around to help brides with any questions regarding the gowns. It is always nice if the bride brings a sister or good friend to help with the actual trying on of the dresses; some of the more intricate gowns can be tricky to put on by yourself! That being said, regular appointments in our salon are usually an hour long.
What should a bride-to-be wear to an appointment?
At our sample sale the store becomes one big fitting room, so it is very important for brides to wear undergarments they are comfortable being seen in. Also bring shoes that you feel are close to your comfortable height for the wedding day, as you want to ensure that the length is not too short or will need copious amounts of alternations which negates the sale price tag!
For gown sizes, is there a certain “sample” size at the sales? What sizes are usually available?
Yes, all of our sample gowns are in a bridal size 8 or 10, which transfers to ready-to-wear as a size 6 and 8. However you should check with the salon in advance of the sale to confirm their general sizing as each salon varies.
How many bridal gown designers are featured?
It just depends on our selection at the moment. We currently carry Amsale, Berta, Carolina Herrera, Inbal Dror, Liancarlo, Kenneth Pool, Marchesa, Mira Zwillinger, Monique L’huillier, and Rivini. Our sample dresses are most of the above as well as Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Naeem Khan, and Ulla Maija. We really do have a great selection of sample gowns.
Thank you so much, Carine! If you are on the dress hunt, be sure to visit Carine’s Bridal Atelier in Georgetown for top wedding dress designers and gorgeous accessories. Looking for more? Read Carine’s post with tips for dress shopping.
One question we get a lot is “What is the difference between each wedding planning package option and which one is right for me?” We recently featured some great advice from local DC area wedding pros on why hiring a wedding planner is a great idea and we wanted to follow that up with some information on next steps – picking your wedding planning package! First of all, we want to start off this conversion with some wedding professional titles so you know the difference between an Event Planner, an Event Designer, and an Event Coordinator. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, it’s good to know the similarities and differences. Once you have a hang of these titles, reading the general package descriptions can help you to make an informed decision on which wedding professional and package is the best fit for your wedding day!
Event Planner – An event planner is typically someone who has the expertise to support you in every aspect of creating and implementing your event – from finding your venue to hiring your vendors to creative design and flawless implementation. The analogy that many of my clients find helpful is that of the Event Planner as the Coach – the central figure with the vision to select the best team of players, the leadership to organize and inspire them, and the depth of experience to help them succeed against all odds.
Event Designer –This title is starting to be used interchangeably with Event Planner, but it best describes someone who is an expert in developing the creative vision of an event. This person might be compared to an Interior Designer – someone who creates an overall vision, from color palette to personal details, and then contracts others to implement the vision. I’ve seen florists, décor rental companies and event planners all refer to themselves as Event Designers. While there can be a lot of overlap, most couples looking for professional support in planning their wedding will benefit more from someone who offers event design as part of their planning expertise.
Event Coordinator – The use of the word Coordinator or Coordination implies that the planning has already been done and this person will simply be organizing, confirming and implementing the plans you make. This term fits best with those who are hired for Month-of planning packages. A great coordinator sets the event up for success with walk-throughs and meetings prior to the date of the wedding.
Now that you are well versed in the titles of DC area wedding professionals, we have compiled some explanations of what is commonly included in local wedding planning packages. Of course, there can be variations from company to company, but generally the below are some guidelines that can help fine which one is best for you leading up to and on your special day! We also have some pro advice from Margo of Bright Occasions, one of our amazing UWL vendors! She is giving some great advice on the benefits and limitations of each package.
Full Service Planning – Typically, this level of service includes everything from finding the venue to hiring the right vendor team to creating the vision and managing all of the logistics. A Full Service Planner will be able to advocate for you two throughout the entire process and will be able to steer you in the right direction. If you think you will need assistance choosing vendors, balancing your budget, coming up with the perfect design plan, and putting together all of the details, a full service planner is probably the best option for you. With this package you can be a little more hands off (if you’d like) and can leave all of the technical details such as invitations, RSVP cards, vendor discussions, etc. to your planner.
“A full wedding planner is there for every step of the process from helping with the budget and selecting the venue, to hiring all vendors, event design, event management and coordination of vendors during the engagement process and on the wedding day. A full wedding planner is instrumental in shaping the event and recommending the best vendors for their clients, while still allowing their clients to make the big decisions and create a wedding that is reflective of their style and personality. There are so many benefits that a planner can provide from saving a client time and money to reducing their stress and streamlining the process. One drawback is that this service may not fit as well into a tight budget, so couples that have limited funds should discuss both full and partial planning options with their wedding planner.
Partial Planning – A partial plan will allow you to be more hands on than a full plan and can be very customizable. Your planner will help with vendor decisions and will give give tips and advice throughout the entire process but will not be involved in each and every aspect of the wedding planning process. A great deal of the responsibilities will still fall to the couple while the planning points them in the right directions. The planner will still be highly involved the month of, organizing vendors, typing up loose ends, and making sure everything goes smoothly.
“Partial planning has the most variables, in terms of the areas of help your wedding planner will provide. But generally this is help with hiring some of your vendors and may also include event design and consultations regarding other wedding planning areas. Partial planning typically also includes event management and coordination of vendors during the final month and wedding day. The benefit of this type of planning is that typically the client can pick the areas they most need wedding planning help with. One drawback is that clients may not know what areas they need help with when they are first starting to plan their wedding.”
Wedding Coordination – This can vary widely from simple wedding day supervision to actual planning or coordinating prior to the event. For many, this is synonymous with Month-of and Day-of Coordination, below.
Month-of Coordination/Planning – This is generally synonymous with Day-of Coordination as well because it is extremely difficult for a coordinator/planner to jump in ONLY in the day of the wedding. This package includes one month of support immediately prior to the wedding, including full support on the wedding day. This time frame allows for the Professional to be involved in the final walk-through, timeline development and vendor confirmation, as well as the standard ceremony rehearsal supervision and wedding day supervision. A Month-of Coordinator/Planner generally pulls everything together to give you a stress free wedding while allowing you to feel like you
“Most professional wedding planners and coordinators in the DC area provide coordination for the final month and/or around 4-6 weeks from the wedding day + the wedding day. So it’s not typically a “day-of” service. In that final month, the planner will meet with the client and caterer to do a final walk-through and discuss the layout and flow of the vent. They will contact vendors and confirm arrival/set-up and breakdown. And they will help their client create a timeline of events for the wedding day. The benefit of this is huge; a wedding planner or coordinator will allow a couple to celebrate worry free and be in the moment throughout their wedding day, rather than dealing with set-up or any issues that may arise. The drawback is that most of the planning is set, so it may be too late to make changes that could better the event. You also won’t develop as close of a relationship, since you are only working together for the final month. And you typically won’t be able to go to your planner or coordinator for planning help that you may want and need before those last 4-6 weeks.”
We hope that this has helped to clear up many of our reader’s questions on DC area wedding planning and a big thank you to Margo of Bright Occasions for her awesomely detailed explanation of each type of planning package and her thoughts on the pros and cons of each!