Advice: End of Night Breakdown

In the six years I've been planning and coordinating weddings, I've learned so much. I'm still a long ways from knowing everything, but I've definitely come across some situations that have taught me a lot and I love sharing that knowledge with my couples to help make their wedding days even better than they imagined they could be.

Elizabeth Friske Photography

Elizabeth Friske Photography

One of the things I've learned is that while couples tend to think of a lot of the details leading up to the wedding day, they generally don't think of many of the details regarding AFTER the wedding. Understandably, most of my couples don't have much experience with executing a wedding day. So it's up to me to help them realize that the planning can't stop with the ceremony and the order of the reception. There are a million other details throughout the wedding day and following the end of the reception that have to be carefully mapped out. Taking these extra steps will save everyone, including the couple, a ton of stress and anxiety after the big day is over with.

First and foremost, you should establish ahead of time, meaning before the wedding day, who will be taking certain things home at the end of the night. Trying to establish this on the day of the wedding usually amounts to a lot of unnecessary stress and sometimes no resolution at all. If you need your parents to take home all the décor, you should give them a heads up to make sure that they have cleaned out the back of their car in order to fit everything. And if you would like for your maid of honor to hold the top tier of your cake for you, she needs to know ahead of time so that she doesn't plan to attend the after party and can get it right into the freezer after the reception.

DIY Décor Elements: Most couples have a long list of décor elements that they are providing themselves for their wedding. That could mean 30-something gorgeous lanterns to be used for centerpieces, a custom backdrop for a photobooth, or framed photos of family members' wedding days. All of these items made it safely to your reception and will be set up by your planner and her team. However, they also need to make it back home after the wedding. For the smaller elements, like picture frames, centerpiece items, etc. I strongly suggest packing them in plastic totes. Having everything stored securely in the totes will make sure that they fit nice & neat into a car to make the trip back home without breaking. If at all possible, include some bubble wrap in each tote for the extra fragile items!

Rebecca Keeling Studios

Rebecca Keeling Studios

For the larger décor elements that may not be easily stowed in someone's car, talk with your venue ahead of time and see if they'll allow you to store anything overnight. I've worked with quite a few venues that will secure larger pieces like backdrops and signage until you're able to come pick them up, usually the next morning.

Flowers: You spent a lot of time, and likely a large chunk of your budget, to create the most beautiful tablescapes with the help of your florist. Now, it's the end of the night and you have 15 floral centerpieces that your planner has to figure out what to do with. You have so many options here! Do you want to gift the arrangements to your family members and bridal party? Keep a few for your own home? Donate the flowers to a local church, hospital, or nursing home? Whatever you decide, you should let your planner know ahead of time so that the two of you can get a game plan together. You'll need to figure out if the florist needs the vessels back or if they are yours to keep/gift. If you decide to donate the arrangements, you'll need to establish where you want them sent and who will be taking them there for you.

Cramer Photo

Cramer Photo

Wedding Cake/Cupcakes/Donuts: Chances are, you are going to have quite a bit of leftover sweets at the end of the night. You'll need to speak with someone {maybe your Maid of Honor or mother} to see if they're able to take the top tier of your cake to hold it for you until you're able to get it home and into your freezer. It's also a great idea to speak with your baker ahead of time to see if they're able to provide you with extra containers for leftovers. Let your planner know if the leftover cupcakes are fair game and they should dole them out to guests on their way out.

Leftover Alcohol: If you are stocking bar yourself as opposed to letting the venue provide the alcohol, there is a chance you will have some bottles of wine, beer, and liquor leftover at the end of the night. And I can't begin to tell you how many groomsmen that had a really great time at the reception, come up to me at the end of the night trying to take a box of liquor home. Nope! You should let your planner know ahead of time what the game plan is for the leftovers. Also, keep in mind that you can usually return unopened bottles for a small restocking fee. Yay for recouping costs!

Angie McPherson Photography

Angie McPherson Photography

Bridal Attire: Make sure to put someone in charge of things like your veil, heels, and even your bouquet. There's a good chance that all of those things are super sentimental and maybe even heirlooms. So assign someone you can trust to get them home safely for you at the end of the night. Also, are you changing into a different dress for your reception or your grand exit? You'll definitely want to establish who is going to be in charge of taking your wedding gown home after the party.

Cars: One of the details that I find people have the hardest time with is what to do with the cars. Figuring out transportation can be such a hassle, but if you plan ahead, it can be a breeze! Talk to your venue ahead of time and find out what their policy is on cars being left overnight. Do they tow unattended cars? Is there a certain time that cars need to be picked up the next day? And if you are able to leave your car, establish who will be picking it up the next day, and make sure they have your keys! The last thing you want the morning after your wedding is your best man knocking on your hotel room door to get your car keys bright and early.

I really hope these tips help you plan for a smoother flow at the end of your wedding reception!

Kara & Michael - Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art

It rained cats & dogs on Kara & Michael's wedding day. That would break some couples' spirits, but not these two. I really don't think they stopped smiling all day long It was the most heart-warming thing to see the two of them so insanely happy to just be together with their families and friends, to be marrying each other. It was such a genuine happiness and I loved being there to witness it.

Everything about Kara & Michael's day was absolutely perfect. From the floral details {wait till you see the bridesmaid dresses!!} to the heartfelt ceremony, from the amazing dance party to the delicious donut wall. It was all just perfect! One of my favorite things about the wedding was hearing so many of Kara's ideas and then seeing how Michael built them and brought them to life. It was just so special!

Kara & Michael, it was such a pleasure working with the two of you and your incredible families to create such a perfectly heartfelt day. Thank you for trusting us to bring your vision to life! Congratulations you two!

First looks will FOREVER be one of my favorite moments of the whole wedding day!!!!

You guys. Kara & Michael's dog, Sherlock stopped by for portraits and I died. He even wore a bow tie for the occasion! Literally the best ever!

And a big thank you goes to the incredible vendor team I had the privilege of working with! I adore you all!!!

Ceremony: Regent Chapel // Reception: Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art // Photographer: Angie McPherson Photography // Planner: Just Dandy Events // Caterer: Chef by Design // Cake: Incredible Edibles // DJ: Astro Entertainment // Bouquets/Boutonnieres: Crafted Stems // Reception Flowers: Krista Slye // Hair: Stephanie Michelle Hair // Makeup: Dhalia Edwards

JDE Promo Video: Styled Shoot

Hey ya'll! So, you may have heard me talk a bit lately about the JDE Promo Video. I'm so excited to be taking that step for my little business. The finished product will launch later this year and I'm super thankful for the amazing team that's helping me to pull it off! The video is being filmed by Justin from Gibby Visuals and I'm not sure he knew what he was signing up for working with me. I'm pretty much terrified of being on camera, but he's made the whole thing super fun so far!

When thinking about what I wanted to incorporate into the video, I knew I wanted to have a styled shoot showcased. Styled shoots, regardless of how big or small they end up being, are always such a blast to orchestrate! And one of the best parts about styled shoots is getting to work with so many of my favorite vendors. Each one of them always bring their A-game to the table and knock the vision for the shoot out of the park! We chose Cedar Hall Farms in Virginia Beach as the venue and I'm 100% obsessed with that place. There are beautiful barns, plenty of sweet horses, and the fluffiest little puppies I've ever seen!

My super talented #vendorsoulmate Liz from Elizabeth Henson Photos photographed the whole thing and, as usual, I was so thankful to have her there. She and I have knocked out some seriously fun projects together in the past. The very first styled shoot I ever did was with her and it was definitely what got me hooked on them to begin with. Actually, the first big project Liz & I worked on together was her promo video back in 2014, so it was pretty fitting to have her on board for mine 3 years later! Thanks for helping to document the day Liz! These behind-the-scenes pictures may be some of my favorite to date!

I also enlisted the help of my sweet friend Julia from Waters Edge Design. Julia is legitimately one of the best stylists I've ever had the opportunity of working with. I usually give her just a few words to describe what I'm going for, and she immediately blows me away with what she brings to the table. This time, she brought the literal table, as well as the most amazing depression glass dishes to go with the color scheme I wanted to pull off. And did I mention she hand-made the watercolor linens? Yeah....she's incredible. Julia, thanks for never thinking my ideas are crazy and for always making me want to be better.

Then we move on to the cake and the invitation suite. Here's another example of vendors that I swear have a direct line of sight into my brain. Even when I don't know what aesthetic I'm actually going for with a shoot, Rosalie from Ro & Co Paper and Design and Rachel from Rachel Bakes pull everything together perfectly. It amazes me every single time how well they can each pull a vision out of me that I didn't even really know was there....and then bring it to life with their crafts. I'm so lucky to get to refer them to my couples for their wedding days!

I was so excited that Corey from C&J Floral Design was available to contribute to the shoot. Corey has always delivered such incredible florals to my couples and I knew she'd do the same for this! I wanted simple, neutral beauty and her bouquet was exactly that. I mean come on....those roses were to die for!!! Thank you Corey!

And I definitely can't forget to mention the beauty team that glammed Rosalie up {as if she needs any help!} and made me feel confident about being in front of the camera. Elizabeth from Dhalia Edwards' team and Stephanie from Stephanie Michelle Hair are so fantastic!! We had the best time hanging out in the studio with them while they dolled us up. I think I tell them every time I'm there that, once I win the lottery, I'm making them my personal glam squad to get me ready every single morning. There's nothing like a pretty hair style and some fierce lashes to make you ready to take on the day!

When planning the shoot, I knew I wanted simple beauty, nothing extravagant or too trendy. And I wanted watercolors. Those were my only requests. This incredible team helped me bring that vision to life in a way I didn't even expect. Thank ya'll so much for being the very best and for playing a part in my promo video! Working in this industry has brought me some of the most amazing friends and I couldn't be more thankful! Love you all to pieces!

Justin even let me try out his camera...I think it's called a Glidecam?? Holy cow those things are a lot heavier than they look! I think I'm a long ways from becoming a videographer. I'll leave that to the professionals for sure!

Ok so I told you there would be puppies! We were in the middle of shooting and Julia, always a lover of anything with four legs, squealed louder than I've ever heard before, threw her phone, and dashed across the yard. That was a result of three adorably fluffy, 8 week old Border Collie puppies coming to visit us. Totally made our day a thousand times better than it already was! I mean hello....beautiful bride in a gorgeous dress, holding the sweetest dog ever? PURE GOLD!

Kristine & David - The Oyster Farm at King's Creek

Gosh ya'll, finding the words to describe my happiness for this couple is so tough! I was introduced to Kristine through my friend, and her wedding photographer, Elizabeth Friske Photography. And from the moment I met her, I knew she and I were going to be great friends. This lady has a heart of gold for every single person she encounters and the most infectious smile you've ever seen. When she talks about David, there's a whole other level of excitement in her eyes. And once I met David, I could see why! He's got the sweetest soul and is just as smitten with Kristine as she is with him. Watching the two of them interact through their wedding day was such a joy for everyone around them. These two sweethearts also had the most amazing group of friends and family surrounding them, making their wedding day even better!

David & Kristine, thank you so much for letting me be a part of your perfect day! I'm so happy for the both of you!!

And a huge thank you goes to the stellar group of vendors that helped make this beautiful day happen:

Venue: Oyster Farm at King's Creek // Photography: Elizabeth Friske Photography // Coordination: Just Dandy Events // Bouquets & Boutonnieres: Aleen Floral Design // Reception Florals: Missy Friske // Band: The Finns - Sam Hill Entertainment // Makeup: Dhalia Edwards // Hair: Monarch Hair Co // Invitations & Paper Goods: Sarah Labadie // Gown: House of Maya // Linens: Waterford Event Rentals // Lighting: Blue Steel Lighting

Shoot. Network. Play. Recap

If you know me at all, you know I adore teaming up with my incredibly talented friend Elizabeth. I feel like we make a really great team and, man, we just have so much fun together! So when Liz came to me with the idea of putting together a networking event, I was pumped. And then, when she explained how it would be different from most other networking events, I was all in!

The Shoot. Network. Play. event was created to bring together boss ladies for an evening of creativity and companionship. It's kind of funny how we, as creatives, sometimes feel like we have no real time to actually be creative. So much of our time is spent running our businesses and serving our clients {both of which we love very much!} that being truly, freely creative usually falls to the bottom of the list.

The SNP was the perfect opportunity to get creative. We met some new faces. We sipped sangria, ate cupcakes from Rachel Bakes, and talked shop {and life}. Liz took new headshots for everyone. And we practiced our flat styling skills. It was so much fun to shoot/style/play without guidelines or deadlines. It was literally the best time ever!

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the evening. Keep an eye out for our next SNP event to get in on the free-flowing creativity {and possibly more sangria}.

A big thank you to Rachel Bakes for the amazingly delicious {and downright beautiful} cupcakes! And to A Ribbon's Nest for the most gorgeous silk ribbon we got to style with! You ladies are so fun to collaborate with! Also, a big huge thank you goes to Liz for always including me in all her crazy fun ideas! #adventuresoflizandholly forever!!