JDE Bride: Julia

Happy Friday friends!!  It's been a little while since I've brought you a JDE Brides post.  So I'm super pumped to start the weekend off with my bride and incredible friend Julia sharing about her gorgeous King Family Vineyards wedding!

Introduce yourself!  And your husband!
Hey there!  I'm Julia Ogden and I'm an English teacher and have a small business called Water's Edge Design  I'm also a JDE bride and my husband Justin and I got married just this past October at King Family Vineyards in Charlottesville, VA.

Rebecca Keeling Studios
What's your love story?  How did the two of you meet?  How did he pop the question?
I might be biased, but I think our love story is pretty special.  Justin and I actually met online!  I had gotten over the ending of a long relationship and felt ready to get back out there.  I just wasn't exactly sure how to do that!  My friend convinced me to sign up on a free online dating site and things just kind of snowballed from there.  I went on a LOT of bad dates, and a few good dates.  Met a lot of great guys, who just weren't MY GUY.  I even started a blog to catalog all of my adventures in trying to find the one.  Months passed and I Was ready to give up.  I went onto the online dating site to deactivate my profile when I saw that I had a message from a handsome guy with the most unbelievably cute dimples.  It was sweet and simple and at the end of it, he asked if he could call me.  He literally wrote "may I call you?" so old fashioned and sweet.  I figured, why not....I'll give it one more chance.  I gave him my number and immediately deactivated my profile.  If he wasn't it, I was going to give this whole dating thing a break for a while.

That first date turned into two years together and on the anniversary of our first date, December 15th, Justin took me to go see the lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens...we walked around the grounds, got hot chocolate, and the whole time I could tell he was trying to get me to a spot where we could be alone.  We saw this little path that lead through the woods to a gazebo, but it was roped off.  We felt like rebels hopping over it and he lead me down the path to where it was quiet and secluded.  He took my hand, lead me into the middle of the gazebo and got down on one knee to propose.  Of course I said yes....more like yelled it haha...and he told me that our whole family was meeting us at a restaurant nearby so we could celebrate together.  It was honestly the best day of my entire life.

What five words would you use to describe your wedding?
We started planning the wedding right away and I really wanted it to represent us and our personalities.  Pinterest can be super overwhelming and unrealistic so I used it a little bit for some inspiration, but mostly thought about what elements we loved in our life.  If I could choose 5 words to describe our wedding, they would be:
Fair tale {I know that's two lol}

Elizabeth Henson Photos
What were your favorite & least favorite parts of wedding planning?
My favorite parts of wedding planning were:
1. How much time I got to spend with my mom and Justin's mom doing the planning.
2. Finding all of the beautiful pieces we would use for the decor.  Styling is my favorite thing to do, so to do something on this big of a scale was so fun!
3. All of the site visits and tastings!  It was so exciting to have everyone treat you like royalty and come on, free food and wine!?  Sign me up!
4. Finding my wedding dress.  I went with a small group of the women in my family and it was just so special to get to spend the day with them.  It was a pretty magical moment seeing how emotional they got.

My least favorite parts of wedding planning were:
1. Worrying about the budget.  We didn't realize it, but Charlottesville is the 2nd or 3rd most expensive wedding location in the US....THE US PEOPLE!  We just love that area because we are UVA fans and I go there every fall with my girlfriends for a winery trip.  Everything was so outrageously expensive and after we splurged on the venue, I didn't know how we were going to fit in everything else.
2. All of the tiny details that you have to make decisions about.  It can get super overwhelming and you just wanna hands things off to someone else.  {Enter Just Dandy Events to talk me off the ledge}

Where did you go for your honeymoon?
After the wedding, we stayed in Charlottesville at the sweetest little Airbnb.  It was within 5 minutes of downtown and it even had the cutest goats on the property!  It was so much more romantic and cozy than a hotel room and we have plans to go back every year for our anniversary.  We left that Tuesday for our honeymoon in Ireland and it was an incredible whirlwind trip.  We had so much fun exploring the little towns, meeting the nicest locals, and basically eating and drinking Guinness constantly.  We got home and needed another vacation from the wedding/honeymoon excitement.

Rebecca Keeling Studios
Who were your vendors?
Venue: King Family Vineyards
Coordination: Just Dandy Events
Photographer & Videographer: Rebecca Keeling Studios
Florist: Courtney Inghram Events
Lighting: The Lighting Professors
Caterer: Glorious Foods
Cake: Everything Emma
Styling & Decor: Water's Edge Design

If you could do one thing different throughout your entire wedding planning journey, what would it be?
I don't think I would really change anything that happened in the wedding planning journey.  I do wish our location had been a little less expensive, but it was exactly what we pictured and felt so very us, that I can't really wish we had gone somewhere else.

Do you have any advice for future brides?
1. Hire a coordinator...it is really hard trying to do everything yourself and you, at the VERY LEAST, need a day of coordinator.  That day flies by and little things are constantly popping up.  Like one of your tables collapsing in the middle of dinner lol!  As much as you love your aunt or best friend, they might not always know how to handle these things.  You need someone with experience.
2. Get ready at your venue or very close by your venue.  We booked a house close by the venue for the bridesmaids to stay at, and for us to get ready all together that morning.  Unfortunately, we had to change locations the week before and ended up at a house 30 minutes away from the venue.  It made things feel a little rushed that morning and in all the craziness, we left my bouquet behind.  Luckily someone able to bring it before the ceremony, but I didn't have it for all the wedding party pictures.  It made me sad.
3. Take a deep breath, use Pinterest sparingly, and remember that your day is going to be perfect because you are getting to marry your dream guy/girl.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.  You getting stressed out and unhappy during the planning process is the opposite of what should be happening.  Take your time, use your partner as a stress reliever and sounding board.  Try not to take advice from too many people, everyone thinks they are an expert, but only you know what you really want.  Just have fun with it and remind yourself that this is a really incredible time in your life.  It goes by fast, so don't waste in with over-analyzing table cloth colors.

IYQ Photography
Such wonderful advice Julia!!!  For a look back on some of my favorite parts of Justin & Julia's beautiful day, check out this blog post.

Julia & Justin - King Family Vineyards

Oh friends, I am so beyond excited to share this beautiful vineyard wedding with ya'll.  Where to begin.  Justin and Julia got married in October at King Family Vineyards and the day was epic.  The weather was perfect, the details were gorgeous, everything was exactly what Julia had been dreaming of.  And the fact that she asked me to be a part of that day was the biggest cherry on top of the whole thing.

Time to get a little sappy.  Julia and I have been friends for about 5 or 6 years {I think} and she's also the beautifully talented brain behind Water's Edge Design.  We've had the opportunity to work on so many fun projects together and she's always been such a huge supporter of JDE.  Then Justin {who I also ADORE and is the absolutely perfect match for my sweet friend} proposed and Julia asked me to be her wedding planner.  And let me tell you, the honor you feel when a friend tells you they 100% trust you to put together one of the most highly anticipated days of their life....it's a tough feeling to beat.

Anyways, Julia's style is very earthy and organic with a bit of forest fairy tale thrown in.  She's my little hippy friend that has a serious love for pretty things and I think the details she put together for her wedding mirrored that perfectly.

One of the big perks of being a part of the wedding industry is knowing some of the most amazing vendors in the area personally.  Julia handpicked an A-list of people to help make her vision for the day come to life.  Check out this gorgeous wedding!

Oh and did I mention they had a DONUT TRUCK in lieu of traditional wedding cake?  WINNING!

A big bonus to also being a guest to this wedding was that Wes got to come with me!  He helped with set up and break down and now he fully understands why my feet hurt so badly at the end of a wedding day.  And how cute is he dancing with the beautiful bride?!

I absolutely LOVE when my couples take my advice to set aside a little slice of time on their wedding day for just the two of them.  Justin & Julia liked the idea of having a "last dance" together before their big exit.  We sent all the guests outside and let the two of them have the dance floor to themselves.  They danced to one of their favorite songs, held each other tight, and soaked in the gloriousness of their day.

I'm so honored to have played a part in this beautiful day.  Justin & Julia, I love you both to pieces and I'm so happy to see you both love each other so hard.  Thank you for trusting me!!

Venue: King Family Vineyard  //  Photographer: Rebecca Keeling Studios  //  Coordinator: Just Dandy Events  //  Florist: Courtney Inghram Events  //  Cake: Everything Emma  //  Lighting: The Lighting Professors  //  Catering: Glorious Foods  //  Specialty Furniture/Signage: Water's Edge Design //  DJ: DJ Mark Allen  //  Beauty: Elle Style Studio  //  Donut Truck: Carpe Donut

Somer & Josh - Shifting Sands

Hey friends!  How is everyone recovering from our big "blizzard"?  The time on the couch with my guys was fantastic but MAN am I glad to be able to leave the house.  The cabin fever got very real ya'll.

In other news, I'm so excited to share some of my favorite details from a wedding I coordinated back in October at Shifting Sands in Virginia Beach.  Somer & Josh's music-inspired day was so representative of them as a couple and I loved hearing each of their guests say so as they walked into the reception.

Here are some of my favorite images from DCPG.  It was so fun to work with Ciesther!

Venue: Shifting Sands  //  Photographer: DCPG  //  Coordination: Just Dandy Events  //  Beauty: Ulta at Landstown  //  DJs: Josh Liehr & Micah Spruill

The Importance of a Wedding Day Timeline

Hey ya'll!  How was everyone's Thanksgiving?!  I hope you ate as much as I did and enjoyed some fantastic family time.  Now it's back to the grind and today I'm here with a little bit of advice for your wedding day.  A few months back, I wrote this as a guest on Sterling Dawn Events' blog and I knew I needed to share it over here on mine as well.  The wedding planning process is filled with so many important aspects and it's pretty easy for things to fall through the cracks if you're not careful.  Whatever you do, do not let your wedding day timeline be one of those things that ends up forgotten or neglected!

Kirstyn Marie Photography
I've met with so many couples who've told me in the beginning stages of planning that they won't be needing a day-of timeline.  "We're really laid back", "We like to wing it", and "We don't want to feel rushed" are some of the reasons they've given me.  As their wedding planner, it's my job to explain to them why those are all the perfect reasons they NEED to have a timeline for their big day.

Timelines allot the right amount of time for each aspect of your day, making sure that there's no rushing to fit everything in.  Without a timeline, important things like the bouquet and garter toss can be forgotten.  Then you're left to squish them in at the last minute, when some of your most important guests may have already headed home.

As much as you'll depend on your timeline to keep your day on track, your vendors will depend on it even more so.  A wedding is full of so many moving parts....sometimes dozens of vendors are working together to bring your vision to life.  It's so important that they each know what the order of events will be for the day so that they know when they have to be ready.  Your caterer will want to make sure that your dinner is served on time.  Your photographer will want to be ready by the cake table when it's time for toasts and cake cutting.  And your driver for the night will want to have your vintage care ready in time for your grand exit.

Elizabeth Henson Photos
Now that you know why the timeline is important and necessary for your wedding day, how do you build one?  It can seem like a really overwhelming thing to tackle.  Your wedding planner will be a huge help when you're putting it together, but here are a few tips for constructing the perfect timeline for your day:

- Build it around the non-negotiables.  If sunset portraits are of the utmost importance to you, build the timeline around when you and your new husband will be outside catching that perfect light with your photographer.  If it is imperative that your great-grandmother be present for the cutting of the cake and you know she won't stay past 8pm, take that into consideration when mapping out the order of events.

- Include your vendors in the building of the timeline.  You hired each of them because of their ability to perform their craft so well.  Let them educate you on what they do and how much time they need to do it.

Daniel Pullen Photography
- Set aside a little quiet time for you and your new husband!  Whether it's immediately following the ceremony or during sunset, set aside just 5-10 minutes for the two of you to catch your breathe, sip some champagne, and give each other all the goofy grins because YOU'RE MARRIED!!

Ellen & Jake - Oyster Farm at Kings Creek

Oh friends!  I'm so excited to share this wedding with ya'll!  Ellen & Jake were married on October 8th at the Oyster Farm at Kings Creek in Cape Charles.  We had the prettiest Eastern Shore-inspired wedding planned and I'm beyond happy to say that, despite Hurricane Matthew trying to wreck the party, we totally pulled it off.  If you had looked at Ellen & Jake's faces, or the faces of their guests, you'd never have known there was a storm raging outside.  Everyone was so present and so happy to see these two say I Do...it gave me all the happy feels throughout the whole day.

I could go on and on about how much I loved this couple, their family and friends, and their beautiful wedding, but instead I'll let the images from Elizabeth Henson Photos speak for me.  I will say though that working with my #vendorsoulmate on a wedding is one of my favorite things in the world.  I just love how she captures our couples!

Congratulations Ellen & Jake!  I adore you both so much and loved seeing you so happy on your beautiful day!!

Also a HUGE thank you goes out to all the incredible vendors that helped to make this wedding day absolutely perfect.  We truly had a dream team on our hands that day and I love each and every one of you to pieces for making my job so much fun!

  Venue: Oyster Farm at Kings Creek  //  Coordinator: Just Dandy Events  //  Photographer: Elizabeth Henson Photos  //  Cake: Incredible Edibles  //  Florist: Seagrass Floral  //  DJ: Astro DJ  //  Hair: Beach Bridal Artistry  //  Makeup: Makeup By Kim Porter  //  Officiant: Cotton Markert

Lessons Learned from JDE Intern Lauren

These past two months, I’ve gotten to tag along with Holly and play “wedding coordinator assistant” at my very first #jdeweddings! It was definitely a whirlwind of different emotions- nervous, excited, anxious and completely in love! Here’s what I learned:

Holly has one of the most stressful jobs ever: I’m not kidding- google it! Seeing the way she handled her timeline, certain unexpected situations (like Hurricane Matthew requiring we use our rain plan!) and interacting with the couple and other wedding vendors really impressed me. Maybe I’m a little biased, but she works incredibly hard and is SO good at what she does. I admire her for that!

You’re more than just a planner: At each wedding, I was more than just the “assistant wedding coordinator.” I was the champagne-pourer, the oyster-shell-arranger, the milk-carton-finder (for some of the littlest wedding guests) and a voice for Holly whenever someone had a question or concern.

You will be out of your comfort zone: Had I ever popped champagne bottles before? Heck no! Both weddings were filled with “firsts” that caused me to be a little out of my comfort zone but that was okay! Despite being so nervous, I learned some new skills and gained experience that’ll help me as I continue in this industry.

You’ve got to be confident!: At my first wedding, I felt a little like a lost puppy while pouring champagne or answering questions. My response was often “Let me check with/find/get Holly!” By the second wedding, I felt more confident and comfortable. I tried my best to stay calm, get an answer to a question promptly (and write the requestor’s name down so I could find them later) and double check with Holly when I needed to. I learned that no matter the situation, you’ve got to show that you’re calm and confident.

You do you: Working alongside Holly on wedding days has taught me a lot about myself. Even though I felt nervous, anxious and overwhelmed, there was nothing I couldn’t handle (either by myself or with some help!). Also, it’s okay to be your (overly organized, helpful) self! For me, this meant writing literally every single question, comment or note I heard down so I would refer to it later and asking “Is there anything I can help with?” a million times over. These experiences have helped me develop my problem-solving skills, enhance my organization and multi-tasking and become more sure of myself.

I have loved every single nerve-wracking, exciting and “aww-” inducing moment of wedding coordination. I cannot wait to use all that I’ve learned during my time with Holly as I begin a new adventure!  I am so thrilled to be putting my social media skills to good use at an internship with Misty Prewitt of Misty Saves the Day.  I have also accepted my first job in the wedding industry as an assistant event manager at a local wedding venue!  I cannot wait to continue being a part of couples’ “best day ever!”

Elizabeth Henson Photos

Sentimental Details

Sometimes a wedding can feel very scripted.  The guests enter and take their seats.  The bride walks down the aisle to meet her groom.  The couple exchanges vows and rings, they kiss, and then the party begins.  Everything, from the dress to the details, can make you have a bit of déjà vu, like you've seen all this before.  So how can couples keep their wedding from seeming like "another typical wedding"?

A great way to keep that from happening is to incorporate some really meaningful and sentimental details throughout the day.  I'm not talking about a 20 minute photo montage of the two of you from birth to engagement.  But the little, personal details are a great way to make sure that your personalities are reflected, both individually and as a couple.  They'll ensure your guests leave with a better sense of who the two of you are, even if they've known you forever.

Incorporate Family
Mementos that the bride or groom can carry down the aisle with them offer a reminder of beloved family members.  These can be tied to the bride's bouquet or onto the groom's boutonniere.

Angie McPherson Photography
Another way to incorporate family is to wear your mother's or grandmother's gown.  You could also sew a piece of your dad's or grandfather's shirt inside your gown, or don a piece of heirloom jewelry from the family as your "something borrowed".

I've even seen a bride's father tie a piece of her baby blanket around the stem of her bouquet.  Adorable!

Incorporate Special Music
Is there a song that means a lot to the two of you as a couple, but just isn't meant to be a first dance?  Play that during your recessional!  Maybe "Benny & the Jets" or "Wouldn't It Be Nice"??  These would make such a fun exit from your ceremony and such a special touch if they mean something to the two of you. 

Personalize the Ceremony 
Have you and your fiance known each other for many years?  Incorporate a funny story of your early years together into the ceremony!  I once had a couple that had known each other since elementary school.  During their ceremony, they displayed a picture from their year book, showing where the bride had written "hottie" under the groom's picture.  THE BEST!

Sami Proctor Photography and Design
   Has your pastor known the two of you for many years?  Suggest they tell a story during the ceremony that some may not know!

Handwritten Sentiments
Small treasures, like a handwritten letter, aren't just for your soon-to-be spouse.  Make the day special for your bridesmaids, your parents, or your soon-to-be in-laws with handwritten notes on the wedding day.

Elizabeth Henson Photos
Personal Vows
This is a more obvious way to add personality and sentiment to your big day, but it's definitely a favorite of mine!  Writing your own vows or even modifying traditional vows to reflect what each other means to you is such a sweet and heartfelt touch to a wedding day.

What different ways did you bring sentimental elements into your wedding day?  I'd love to hear about it!

Building Your Wedding Brand - Ro & Co Designs

Hey ya'll!  Happy Monday!  You've all heard plenty about Rosalie of Ro & Co Designs here on the blog before.  She was a 2015 JDE bride, turned friend, turned my all-time favorite graphic designer.  I must send her a request at least once a month of something new I need designed and she hits the nail on the head every.single.time.

Today she's here to teach us a bit about wedding branding!

Hey there!  I'm Rosalie with Ro & Co Designs and I am so excited to share with you what I consider to be the secret ingredient that will help you personalize and fuse together every detail of your wedding day .... Friends, I give you Wedding Branding!

Wedding Branding can be defined as the overall look and feel that you have chosen for your special day.  I like to think of it as the expression of you and your fiance's love through meaningful, cohesive design.  It helps to tell your story visually and emotionally so you are able to connect your story to every element of the big day!

You may or may not have met my frenemy, Pinterest.  I remember when I first got engaged, I immediately unlocked that "secret" wedding board I had been pinning to over the years {that's right - years.  Guys, my husband waited 7 years to propose....a girl had to dream out loud somewhere} and I felt so overwhelmed.  I'm talking major bridentity crisis.  I had pinned rustic barns, bohemian hair styles, ballgowns galore, mason jars, and nautical bottle opener favors...all in one board.  This is where wedding branding rides in on its big white horse to save the day.

Establishing your branding early on in the planning process helps you focus your vision and "see" it in action, allowing you to make more informed choices along the way.  Not to mention, it's extremely helpful for your vendors to see what you're envisioning in terms of specific colors, design elements, and the overall aesthetic you've dreamed of.  This results in a unified look that ties your whole day together and truly captures your essence as a couple.  Most importantly, a strong and consistent brand has the power to transform an already beautiful event into an unforgettable and meaningful experience that you and your guests will always remember.

Here's the fun part!  Here are some tips to help you and yours find your "brand".

I know this sounds daunting.  But start with a simple conversation between you and your fiance and create a list of things that represent you as a couple.  What do you like to do together?  Where are your favorite places to visit?  What kind of experience do you want to give your guests?  Are you rustic?  Nautical?  Preppy?  Whimsical?  By asking these types of questions, you should be able to pick 4-5 words that define who you are together.

Before you get too far into the planning process, you have to figure out when and where your nuptials will take place {if you haven't already}!  This will not only lay the foundation for all design choices, but it will determine vendor availability and really put the planning into overdrive.  WOO!

Now that you have an idea what you want to represent and when/where your wedding will take place, you can determine your colors, patterns/textures, fonts, and even a logo!  This is where I like to create an inspiration board for my couples to present their very own unique brand.

Your wedding inspiration board should include the following:
color palette
Start by picking one or two colors that you two adore, and build off of them with accents.  OK - so this is where Pinterested becomes a bestie again {DARN YOU} as it can be a wonderful tool to find colors that complement one another without overpowering.

As you peruse through wedding blogs and magazines, try to find images that reflect your overall style.  ANd keep in mind that textures and patterns can be a subtle way to create a strong image for your day.  Do you find yourself gravitating towards nautical stripes?  What about bold Lily patterns?  Or maybe you can't stop pinning rustic wood images.  Incorporating these textures into your wedding stationery can be a great way to really set the tone for your guests from the get go.

logo and fonts
A wedding logo?!  Yes, the exist and they are the strongest ingredient in successfully weaving your brand throughout every detail.  You can opt for a custom designed logo or monogram, as well as two complementary fonts to use on all of your paper goods!  From your save the dates and wedding invitations, to your wedding website, to your reception signage and favors, all the way to your thank you cards.  This is where your wedding brand comes to life and what will make your wedding day truly memorable!  By taking this time to brand each element, your guests will actually notice the continuity and appreciate the thought that went into every decision.

Branding a wedding is a fun way to make it memorable, but you do want to avoid going overboard.  Focus on keeping it personal and meaningful, and you'll achieve that perfect balance that comes with a beautiful branded wedding that reflects what's most important here - your life as a married couple!

Getting to Know Elizabeth Henson

Last week, JDE intern, Lauren tagged along on an anniversary shoot with Elizabeth Henson Photos.  After filling a bubble machine, running {literally running} to grab the bouquet and being on veil duty, she sat down with Liz to ask her a few questions!

Sharon Elizabeth Photography

From Lauren: My first impression of Liz is that she's absolutely, unapologetically herself, which I LOVE.  A former art teacher, she's creative, family-oriented and loves donuts.  When she told me Duck Donuts was her chain of choice, I knew she was my kind of person!  Working with her during the photo shoot {read: carrying the veil, running down a hill to get the bouquet, fluffing a ballgown; see also: gopher} taught me a lot in just a little bit of time.  Here's what I learned:

- Liz isn't afraid to be goofy in front of her couples - especially if it means getting smiles and laughs out of them!
- She makes sure to gets a LOT of shots.  She even references couples' Pinterest boards to make sure she gets their "must have" photos.
- Liz is up for literally anything.  At our shoot, she crawled through tall grass and hid behind cattails to get the perfect shot {did I mention there were bugs everywhere?}.
- Liz always knew she wanted to pursue photography.  Ten years after graduating college with a degree in fine arts, she decided to take her photography business full time.
- Her "signature" shot involves lots of snuggling!  Instead of a specific pose, Liz gives a few cues and lets the couple work it out.  She sees what poses they fall into naturally that are also flattering.  From there, she repeats the same cues at different angles.
- She loves photographing people in love.  Her favorite shots to take are romantic shots and details with a lot of negative space {like a bouquet against a wall}.
- Liz's business went full time in three years and continues to flourish.  Her work includes weddings and couples, lifestyle and portraits.
- Her favorite part of a wedding is when the bride is getting ready.  She loves the moment when the bride steps into her gown and her parents see her for the first time.
- In addition to being a photographer, Liz is a wife and mom of two.  How does she juggle it all? She says she tries to "do the best [I] can everyday."  She forgives herself for not accomplishing the world in one day. If an e-mail goes unanswered or the laundry doesn't get folded, it's okay!

Working with Liz {amidst hot temperatures and a "neighborhood" of grasshoppers that made a home in the bride's tulle gown!} showed me what it takes to be a true professional.  Liz is knowledgeable, passionate and incredibly talented at what she does.  I can't wait to work with her again soon!  Check out her stunning work on Instagram, @elizabeth.henson and www.elizabethhensonphotos.com.

Here are just a few of the stunning pictures Liz took at the shoot!


Be A Nice Guest: Modern Matrimony

Hey there!  I'm so excited for JDE Intern, Lauren to continue with our "Be A Nice Guest' series with some advice on what you can expect at the modern wedding.  Lauren is an experienced wedding guest, bridesmaid, and recent bride as of February 2016!

When you think "wedding traditions," there are usually a few that come to mind - a white dress, unity candle, and almond wedding cake, just to name a few.  I'd say my own wedding was modern, yet fun with some traditional elements thrown in.  I wore a white dress and we had a one-tier almond cake to cut into.  On the flip side, my bridal party featured a "groomswoman" and we provided guests an assortment of {incredible} cupcakes.  Oh, and did I mention I saw my husband before the wedding?  That warranted some surprised remarks from our pastor!

Here are some things you can come to expect from a modern wedding:

1. To see or not to see: Some couples want to maintain the tradition of not seeing one another before the ceremony - they might exchange letters or hold hands on separate sides of a door.  Others want to have a special moment to themselves before the ceremony - a first look - where the photographer captures the groom seeing his bride for the first time.  It helps ease the butterflies and is anything but bad luck {trust me!}.  Not to mention, it can make for some adorable {and emotional} photos!

Elizabeth Henson Photos

2. Hashtags, hashtags everywhere!: With social media as popular as it is, expect to see anywhere from 1-3 hashtags throughout the wedding.  On the program, on the bar - you may even find them on the save the dates!  What does that mean for you?  You've got a social media-savvy couple on your hands!  They want you to take plenty of pictures {after all, they worked really hard on this!} and share them on social media!

David Champagne Photography

3. Unplugged: Even if the bride and groom encourage sharing on social media, they might not want guests tweeting during their ceremony!  You may be asked to turn off your cell phone for an "unplugged ceremony" - it's the couple's way of encouraging you to be truly present with them as they celebrate their special day!  Don't worry - there's plenty of time to tweet after the reception!

4.  An unconventional bridal party: Nowadays, brides and grooms are choosing their closest friends to stand by their side, which means you might see a "groomswoman" or a "man of honor" in the bridal party!  You might also notice uneven numbers - it's okay if the bridesmaid/groomsmen ratio is 5:4.  The modern bridal party is not gender specific, nor does it have to be even!

David Champagne Photography

5.  Color confusion: One of the first questions I was asked while choosing my bridal party attire was, "The bridesmaids are wearing BLACK?"  Yes.  Yes, they are.  You want to know something else?  There is nothing wrong with a chic, black evening gown for a 5:00 wedding.  Nothing says that bridesmaids {or brides} can't don an off-the-wall color like black, white, or floral print!  You may also notice that the maid of honor is in a different color than the rest of the maids - consider it a perk of her role in the big day!  Note: If the bride tells you her maids are wearing white, this does not give you permission to do the same.  Sorry!

6.  But they don't match!: My bridesmaids each wore a different style dress in my wedding and loved it!  Often times, dresses are not "one style fits all," so brides opt to have their maids choose their own gowns.  This not only makes the bride's life easier, but makes sure all her girls are comfortable.  It's okay if the bridesmaids dresses {whether it be the style or color} don't match perfectly!

Shannon Moffit Photography

7.  Unity doesn't need a candle: Have you been to a wedding and felt like something was missing from the ceremony?  It may have been the unity candle!  This tradition is sometimes modified - e.g. sand ceremony - and other times completely cut out.  It's not going to be every couple's cup of tea.

Angie McPherson Photography

8.  Different desserts: What?  No almond wedding cake?!  You might notice a variety of other dessert options at a wedding - cupcakes, donuts, cookies, even ice cream sundaes - that stray from the traditional fare.  Not to mention there are unique cake flavors, from apricot to lavendar, that might make an appearance.  I love cupcakes but my groom prefers ice cream, so we offered guests an assortment of wedding cupcakes and a build-your-own ice cream sundae bar!

David Champagne Photography

These are just a few of the modern twists that today's couples are incorporating into their big day.  No matter whether the wedding is traditional or off-the-wall, it's important to realize that every wedding is going to be unique to the couple!  Embrace and enjoy the various aspects of each wedding - no matter how interesting or mind boggling they might be.  Who knows?  They might even become tradition!

JDE Brides: Chelsea

Happy Monday friends!!  Let's kick the week off with a JDE Brides feature!!  Chelsea is here to tell us the best parts of her journey through wedding planning, what she would do differently, and to offer a little bit of advice to all of you!

Introduce yourself!  And your husband!
Who are the Lindos you ask?  We are an active, upbeat couple that try to live graciously among others.  I am a Doctoral Physical Therapy student at ODU and Jaine is a soccer coach for various clubs/organizations.

What's your love story?  How did the two of you meet & how did he pop the question?
We met at NC Wesleyan College.  Long story short, I was looking for something on campus and asked him and he pretended he knew where it was to stall long enough to ask for my number and the rest was history!  He popped the question with such thoughtfulness!  At the beach in November he arranged purple flower petals in the sand in the shape of a heart and hired a violinist to play two of my favorite love songs before and after he asked.  Funny side note: I was having a terrible day that day and almost didn't come to the beach!  Also, we walked out on to the beach and I saw a violinist; I made a comment about how it was weird that someone would come to the beach by themselves to play the violin.  Haha!  Then I realized what was going on when he said we should go listen.

What 5 words would you use to describe your wedding?
Disney inspired, classy touches, subtle details, fun, {relatively} stress free!

Where did you go for your honeymoon?
Disney World!!  We had a blast trying new foods/restaurants and watching new shows we hadn't seen before!

What were your favorite & least favorite parts of wedding planning?
Favorite part of planning was definitely planning/making the Disney details {I like Disney, can you tell?}  I also enjoyed meeting some amazing new people through the process which were our vendors!  I plan on keeping in touch with all of them.  Least favorite part was 100% the seating chart.  Good lord, this was the worst!  It's like advanced calculus trying to arrange your friends and family and you really can't put it together until you receive your RSVP's.  So by nature it is the last minute.  Second least favorite part was picking the songs.  I just had a hard time narrowing it down and envisioning what that song would be like in the moment.

Who were your vendors?
Venue: Founders Inn
Photographer: Angie McPherson Photos
Planner: Just Dandy Events
Cake: Bliss Bakery
DJ/Lighting: Astro DJ
Ceremony Music: And I Love Her Violins
Florist: Fluttering Flowers
Beauty: Maggie Carter     

If you could do one thing different throughout your entire wedding planning journey, what would it be?
I honestly can say that for the planning, I wouldn't have done a single thing differently! For the day of, while the sunset pictures turned out AMAZING {and actually some of them are my favorites for the whole day} I really missed that time with the guests at the reception and felt a little guilty about leaving for so long.

Do you have any advice for future brides?
Get a wedding planner {obviously Holly is the bomb.com}.  But seriously, I had the most stress free day EVER on my wedding day and I don't think a lot of people can say that.  A wedding planner, depending on what you decide with them, will also keep your planning on track and hold you accountable, which is what I needed.

Thank you so much for sharing Chelsea!!  I wish we could relive your wedding day all over again!!


Planning a Kid-Friendly Wedding

Congratulations!  You've planned your dream wedding and invited everyone that's important to you, including the children of all your friends and family that you can't imagine not including in your big day!  But now you're starting to stress what the children will do.  Will they have fun?  Will they be bored and get rowdy?  Will they like any of the exciting {and expensive} food you plan to serve your guests?  Will their parents be too busy being mom and dad to really enjoy themselves and dance with you?
Great news: You can include children in your wedding day in a way that will keep them happy and entertained, without sacrificing the glamorous plans you have for the adults.  And here's how!
Keep Them Entertained
One way to win over the kids {and make sure the parents enjoy themselves} is to recruit someone to entertain them during the ceremony and/or reception.  Pick a space to designate as the "kids' room" and fill it with a babysitter and activities such as movies, coloring, puzzles, board games.  This gives the kids a place to make new friends with the other younger guests, while the parents get to really break it down on the dance floor!
Provide Activities
Keep younger guests occupied during cocktail hour and during the reception "down time" with activities specifically for them.  Coloring pages and crayons are a great option {bonus points for using your engagement pictures to create the pages!} and stickers can be fun, too.  Bubbles are fun for kids of all ages, but make sure to check with your venue to find out if they are allowed.  And don't forget dancing - even the littlest guests will have a great time out on the dance floor! 
Fun-Filled Favors
If you're offering more "adult" type favors at your wedding, such as succulents or mini champagne bottles, consider providing younger guests with something they'll enjoy!  Options include decorated cookies, personalized M&M's, and sunglasses.  Caution: Don't be surprised if adults ask for them too!
 Kid-Friendly Fare
Let's face it, not every kid is going to love salmon, filet mignon, or other typical wedding food.  Consider asking your venue if they offer kids' meals as an alternative.  These meals typically cost less, meaning you save money on food and the kids get to eay pizza or chicken fingers.  It's a win-win!
Drink Me
Since underage guests aren't able to enjoy the bar, considering asking your venue to offer an assortment of sodas, juices, or other non-alcoholic treats like Shirley Temples!
Offering an assortment of desserts, such as a candy bar, dessert bar, or ice cream sundaes is a guaranteed way to satisfy all of your guests, but especially the younger ones!  It provides a great alternative for younger palates, especially if your cake flavors are particularly unique {think: apricot, raspberry, lavender}.
 Whatever you decide to do, don't eliminate children from your guest list just because you think they'll be bored and won't eat the food you pay for.  Making a couple of teeny adjustments and planning ahead really could make a huge difference for your underage guests!

Chelsea & Jaine - June 11th

Hey there friends!  I'm so beyond excited to share this wedding with you!  Chelsea & Jaine were married last month at the Founder's Inn in Virginia Beach.  This venue is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to work.  And this incredibly sweet couple made the day even better.

Chelsea is a self proclaimed Disney fanatic, so the day featured a lot of inspiration from the movie Tangled.  The couple had a custom thumbprint guest book that was out-of-this-world beautiful and they even lit off lanterns during their sunset pictures with Angie McPherson Photography.  A wedding should be a true representation of the couple and this one certainly was!  I must have heard two dozen guests say "this is so Chelsea & Jaine" throughout the night.  I loved it!

There were so many moments during this wedding that I could be caught smiling like a crazy person.  For one, Chelsea & Jaine took pictures with their adorable dog.  Be still my doggy loving heart!  Also, Jaine & Chelsea's mom surprised the bride during the reception with a birthday cupcake!  Chelsea's birthday was the next day and they didn't want it to be overshadowed by the craziness of the weekend.  The cupcake was, of course, Disney inspired and the absolute perfect surprise!

And I especially loved that one of my favorite friends was there to photograph the whole day!  Thanks Angie for the incredible photos!  Here are just a few of my very favorites.

Photographer: Angie McPherson Photography  //  Venue: Founder's Inn  //  Coordinator: Just Dandy Events  //  DJ: Astro DJ   //  Ceremony Music: And I Love Her Violins   //  Cake: Bliss Bakery   //  Florist: Fluttering Flowers  //  Hair & Makeup: Maggie Carter   

Congratulations Chelsea & Jaine!!  And thank you for trusting me with your beautiful wedding day!


Choosing the Perfect Wedding Venue

Hey brides-to-be!  First off, congratulations!  You're engaged and on the way to planning one of the happiest days of your life!  This is such an exciting time for you and your fiance!  That being said, you have a very big job ahead of you.  A wedding has so many moving parts involved and it's pretty easy to get overwhelmed while planning.  So I'm here to help!

Today I'm going to give you a list of the most important factors to consider when visiting venues and what will ultimately help you pick the very best one for your big day.

Cavalier Golf & Yacht Club, Daniel Pullen Photography
Budget is obviously going to play a very large role in every single decision you make surrounding your wedding.  You'll need to ask yourself how much of your budget you're willing to use on the venue.  Will the cost keep you from being able to afford another aspect that may be priority?

 The location of your venue is super important logistically.  Will you have sufficient parking for all your guests and vendors?  Are there lodging options nearby for your guests?

Lesner Inn, Shannon Moffit Photography
What does your venue look like?  You'll need to make sure that the aesthetic of the venue lends itself well to the look and feel you're hoping to achieve with your decor.  Most venues allow you to transform the space to your liking, but some have strict limitations. So be sure to find out these regulations from the venue coordinator prior to booking.

Cozy is fantastic, cramped is terrible.  Will the venue comfortably fit all of your guests?  This seems like a really simple aspect to consider, but it's so important. You don't want to spend your time, energy, and budget putting together a wedding that will then be shoved into a small banquet room with 120 of your closest friends and family members.  Be sure there is ample room for the type of wedding you're hoping to achieve.

The Regency - Sandbridge Realty, Elizabeth Henson Photos
What season is your wedding planned for?  If you're planning a winter wedding, choosing a venue for it's gorgeous garden views may not be the wisest decision.  Will those flowers be bloomed in December?  Likely not.  Also, if you're hoping to have an outdoor ceremony or cocktail hour, be sure that you and your guests will be comfortable in the elements.

If you are planning an outdoor ceremony, reception, or cocktail hour, does the venue offer an indoor option in case of inclement weather?  I know for sure that here in Hampton Roads, the weather can change drastically in the matter of hours.  So it's always always good practice to have a backup plan.  If the venue doesn't have an option or allow a tent on their property, that may not be a great place for your wedding.

Founders Inn, Kirstyn Marie Photography
Overall Impression
For me, first impressions are everything.  What was your impression of the venue and their staff?  Did the coordinator get back to your inquiry in a timely manner?  Did they seem knowledgeable and able to answer your questions?  Was this person warm and welcoming when you visited?  You will likely be working very closely with the venue coordinator throughout your entire wedding planning journey.  So it's very important that you feel comfortable with them and like they are the right fit for you.

I hope these tips help make it a bit easier for you to narrow down all your wedding venue options so that you can pick the one that is perfect for your big day!  And in case you have no idea where to start, here are a few of my favorite wedding venues in the area:


Natalie & Tyler - March 5th

Hey friends!  I'm so excited to finally be sharing my recap of Natalie & Tyler's big day!  We had to hold off for a bit because this wedding and all it's gorgeous details were just featured over on Heart.Love.Always last week!

Natalie & Tyler booked JDE to plan & coordinate their wedding because they are dual military and didn't foresee themselves with a lot of spare time to do the planning on their own.  It was such an honor to be trusted to help bring their vision to life!

These sweethearts were married by Tyler's father at The Regency beach house in Sandbridge on a chilly day in March.  It was one of the most laid-back, beautiful, and heartfelt weddings I've ever had the pleasure of coordinating.  The wedding party and the couple's families were some of the warmest people I'd ever met and the JDE team left feeling like we had spent the day with new friends.  We had a first rate group of vendors helping to make this wedding everything Natalie & Tyler had wanted and I would give anything to go back and do it all again!  Who's up for an anniversary party?!

Another factor that made me love this wedding day so much was that the whole day was captured by my #vendorsoulmate Elizabeth Henson Photos!!  And since Heidi second shot for her, we had 3/4 of the Wolfpack there!  It was just the best day!

Photographer: Elizabeth Henson Photos  //  Venue: The Regency - Sandbridge Realty  //  Coordinator: Just Dandy Events  //  Caterer: Yummy Goodness Catering  //  DJ: DJ Taylor Haycox  //  Pianist: Mary-Victoria Voutsas  //  Cake: Unique Sweets & Accessories  //  Florist: Fluttering Flowers  //  Hair Stylist: Hair by Stephanie B  //  Makeup Artist: Dhalia Edwards  //  Chairs & Linens: Waterford Event Rentals  //  Videographer: White Flair Productions

Congratulations Natalie & Tyler!  To say we loved being a part of your beautiful day would be a huge understatement.  Thanks so much for trusting us and thank you both for your service!

Be a Nice Guest: Wedding Etiquette 101

Elizabeth Henson Photos

Ever wonder what it takes to be the perfect wedding guest?  Check out the first post in our series on how to "Be a Nice Guest" by guest blogger and JDE intern, Lauren Windham.  Lauren is an experienced wedding guest, bridesmaid and recent bride as of February 2016.

 Summertime is filled with so many lovely things - sunbathing, lazy beach days and of course, weddings!  If you're anything like me, it can often seem like every season is wedding season!  To prepare you for your summer soirees, here's a few tips on wedding etiquette 101:

1. Do not, in any way, shape or form, wear white: This should be an obvious one but sometimes, people need a reminder.  No matter how cool it may keep you, keep that LWD/white pant suit on the hanger.  Be a nice {and respectful} guest - blues and corals are perfect alternatives for a summery wedding day!

David Champagne Photography
  2. Do refrain from taking an excessive amount of photos: It seems like many couples {including my husband and I] are opting to have an "unplugged" ceremony free of phones, photos and Facebook updates.  Why?  Because brides and grooms often spend countless hours {and dollars} on choosing the right wedding photographer.  Leave the photos to the professional and save the status updates for the day after.

3. Do not complain to the bride and groom: This comes from personal experience.  Don't complain to the bride that the champagne isn't being poured fast enough.  Take any and all questions, comments and concerns to the wedding planner or coordinator and save the bride/groom/parents from unwarranted stress.

Angie McPherson Photography
 4. Do make a point to say hello to the bride and groom: Make sure you say hello to the newlyweds and join them out on the dance floor!  Count it as one of your "guest duties."

5. Do not get overzealous with the bar: Trust me, the bride and groom want to make sure you are enjoying the reception but secretly, the thought of drunken antics can be anxiety-inducing.  Enjoy a drink {or two}, but make sure you've assigned someone to keep you in check and ensure you get home safely.

David Champagne Photography
 6. Do celebrate: A wedding day is a wonderful celebration of the bride and groom.  Enjoy it!  Take in every little detail {that the bride may or may not have obsessed over} and make a point to do your wedding guest duties - sign the guest book, eat a slice of cake and get down on the dance floor!

Rosalie & Troy - August 29th

I can’t believe I’m just finally getting around to sharing the stunning images from Rosalie & Troy’s Lesner Inn wedding.  It was the perfect way to round out the summer season with such an incredible group of vendors and some of the most beautiful details!  Rosalie & Troy’s families and friends were so much fun and we left that wedding feeling more like we had been guests than vendors.  I just love weddings like that! 

This was the first time I had the privilege of working with Shannon Moffit Photography and I’m just blown away by the pictures she took!  They’re all so gorgeous and totally capture the feelings of the day.

One of my favorite things about this wedding is that Rosalie designed all the graphic design elements including the signage and invitations.  You may recognize her name from all the other praise I’ve thrown out there for her company Ro & Co Designs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….Rosalie is my HERO.  And I’m so grateful she booked me as her wedding planner so that we could become friends and work on tons of fun projects together.

Congratulations Troy & Rosalie!!!  Love you both to pieces!!

Photographer: Shannon Moffit Photography  //  Venue: Lesner Inn Catering Club  //  Coordinator: Just Dandy Events  //  Florist: Fluttering Flowers  //  Invitations & Graphic Design: Ro & Co Designs  //  Makeup: Dhalia Edwards  //  Hair: Salon Vivace  //  Linens: Waterford Event Rentals  //  Ceremony Music: Jesse Chong  //  DJ: Chuck Wills

Insight from my Friends: The First Look

Hey friends!  I took a few days off after Easter but now I’m back in the office and ready to tackle the spring season!  And to kick it off, I’m starting a new series of guest blogs from some of my very favorite friendors talking about different wedding-related topics.

First up is my sweet friend Maria of Maria Grace Photography.  Ya’ll, she’s so talented and has the sweetest soul.  For all you business owners, she’s also a master of SEO!  Go give her a follow and check out her work.  You won’t regret it.  Anyways, I asked Maria to chat about the First Look and why she feels it’s such a great thing to incorporate it into your wedding day!  I couldn't agree more on this and hope you see the benefits too!  Enjoy!

Hi there, my name is Maria Grace! I am a Hampton Roads wedding photographer for elegant, joyful brides. My goal is for photography to be the least stressful, most exciting part of the entire wedding! When I'm not working I love eating local food, going on long runs, and curling up with a latte and a good book.

In the last few years, a new tradition has begun in the wedding world called the First Look.  For those who have not yet heard of it, this is when a bride and groom opt to see each other prior to the ceremony.  For parents, grandparents, and even some young people this is almost unimaginable.  They aren’t supposed to see each other before they are married!  However, after photographing many weddings with and without first looks, I am here to tell you why I believe they are the best option on your wedding day.

When a bride and groom have a first look, all of their portraits are taken before the ceremony.  In addition, having a first look allows us to capture all the bridal party portraits prior to the ceremony as well!  From a timeline standpoint, this is a dream scenario for everyone involved.  So you can see what that means practically, here are two scenarios.

No First Look: Getting Ready - Groomsmen Pictures - Bridesmaid Pictures - Ceremony - Family Portraits - Bridal Party Portraits - Bride and Groom Portraits - Reception - Sunset Portraits {if there is enough time}

First Look: Getting Ready - First Look/Bride and Groom Portraits - Bridal Party Portraits - Ceremony - Family Portraits - Reception - Sunset Portraits

The second scenario is not only easier, it also allows the day to flow more smoothly.  When you set the First Look and bride & groom portraits first {arguably the most important pictures you’ll have all day}, your hair and makeup will be fresh, you will take all your pictures at the beginning of the day, and you will be able to go almost immediately to your reception.

From a timeline point of view, it makes the most sense.  However, what’s most important to me is not the timeline or the order, but the gift a First Look gives a bride and groom.  On my wedding day, I barely got to spend time with my husband.  Even at the reception we were pulled our separate ways.  When we finally got into the car to leave, I realized we had not been alone, just the two of us, the entire day save for a few brief moments here and there.

A First Look is an absolute gift and treasure.  It is the only time a couple can guarantee they will spend a few quiet moments alone on their wedding day.  These are some of the most beautiful times I remember.  The groom can actually look at his bride in her wedding dress and take it all in.  The bride can be enjoyed and treasured, and see her future husband tear up at the sight of her.  Of course your photographer will be capturing these moments, but these are moments the couple can spend together, just the two of them, at their wedding.

So this gift of time spent alone is what it’s all about.  A First Look allows for a better timeline, easier logistics, and a less stressful day.  But more than that, having a First Look re-centers the wedding day on what it should be about: the marriage and lifelong relationship between two people finally becoming one.

And that is why I believe in First Looks.

Oh Maria!  You put into words exactly what was in my heart.  I’m a huge lover of first looks for so many logistical reasons {the planner in me just can’t help loving a solid timeline}, but the sentimental reasons are what it’s all about.  I try to encourage all my couples to take some alone time at some point throughout the day.  To take it all in, to reflect on what the day means, and to just be together.  Whether it’s a First Look before the ceremony or a few minutes alone with a glass of champagne after the ceremony...that alone time is so important.  Thanks so much for sharing Maria!!  <3 span="">

What to Expect from your Wedding Planner

When booking your wedding planner, it’s important to know what you can expect from them.  Some responsibilities are obvious and expected, like lining everyone up for the processional and making sure that you have your bouquet for photos.  However, here are 3 things that an experienced planner will bring to the table that you may not realize will make a huge difference in your wedding day.

Photo: Elizabeth Henson Photos, Graphics: Ro & Co Designs

Keeping you on time throughout your big day:
A well thought-out timeline will be the difference between feeling rushed from one place to another and really being able to enjoy your day.  Your planner will create a timeline custom to your wedding, allotting for the right amount of time for each thing that is important to you.  This will help the entire day flow smoothly, giving you ample time to really enjoy every aspect.

Putting you in contact with the best-of-the-best vendors:
Your wedding is only as great as the vendors that you book.  And, unless you’ve been in the industry for many years, you may not know the very best people to help execute the big dreams you have for your wedding.  Your planner will be able to link you with vendors that will be the perfect fit for you and your fiance.  An established planner will also have the ability to score you really great packages that fit perfectly into your budget.

Being your voice:
As much as you adore your friends and family, there will inevitably be someone that will disagree with the choices you and your planner make for your day.  Whether it's the camera-free ceremony or assigned reception seating, your planner should be the person addressing your guests’ concerns during your wedding.  They will make sure that your wishes are carried out exactly how you discussed, while making sure that your guests are comfortable and able to enjoy the day with you.
Take these things into consideration when searching for a planner for your wedding day.  This person will have such an impact on the day and it's important that you can trust them to make it as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

JDE Brides: Rosalie

Oh friends....these JDE Brides posts are quickly becoming my favorite posts.  It's so much fun to relive each of my couples' wedding days & whole planning experience through the brides' eyes!  It brings back all the feels every time and this post is no different.  Rosalie and Troy's wedding was absolutely stunning, certainly a favorite wedding of all time for me.  And Rosalie just holds such a special place in my heart.  She's one of those brides that has become a treasured friend, as well as an amazing fellow wedding vendor!  If you're in the market for wedding invitations or even branding for your business, she is your girl!

Introduce yourself! And your husband!
My name is Rosalie and my wonderful husband is Troy. I grew up on a 100 acre farm in the small, yet charming town of Culpeper, VA and Troy is a beach boy born and raised in Virginia Beach who could spend all of his days on the water. We grew up on separate sides of the state and lived such different lifestyles, yet somehow hit it off when our worlds collided in 2008 in Harrisonburg, VA.

What’s your love story? How did the two of you meet? How did he pop the question?
Troy and I met at James Madison University at a small gathering of mutual friends one random school night. I was not prepared for what this gathering turned out to be seeing that my roommate Janie and I showed up wearing pajama pants. These weren’t just any pajama pants though, mine had tiny elves holding Christmas trees on them. Of course, Troy would argue that they were gnomes but regardless, they were Christmassy and it was APRIL. Luckily for me, even though he will never let me live it down, Troy was able to look past the gnome-elves and we instantly hit it off. I am a sucker for a good sense of humor and Troy has an incredible ability to make people laugh, whether it’s his witty responses, sharing of random trivial facts, or just by making a really silly face at the end of a sentence. I'm not sure I had ever laughed as hard as I did that night and he says the same of me... so naturally we became inseparable quickly and that's where our love story began

We dated for 6.5 years before Troy proposed. It was a brisk December morning,12/13/14 to be exact, at Pleasure House Point, where we often take our dog for long walks. We were sitting in the sand overlooking the Lynnhaven River while playing with Reggie when he started fidgeting in his coat pocket… and after convincing me he was just looking for a piece of gum, he pulled out the most sparkly vintage diamond ring! He topped it off with the most heartfelt words a gal could ever imagine hearing, and I remember thinking “is this actually happening?!” (SO cliché, I know) even though it was no secret that I had long been waiting for the moment. Troy did such an amazing job with the ring! He had my great grandmother’s engagement ring setting from 1913 set with a diamond from his grandmother’s ring... Everything was so special, low key and perfectly us! And being as attached (border-line obsessed) to Reggie as I am, I love that he was there to take it all in with us.

What 6 words would you use to describe your wedding?
Fun & heartfelt!

What were your favorite/least favorite parts of wedding planning?
As soon as we got engaged, we promised each other to make the wedding planning a fun, stress-free, and heartfelt journey... and I really feel that we accomplished that!

What I loved:
Trying on wedding dresses!
Having the best group of bridesmaids EVER
DIY craft sessions with Troy
Dreaming up a theme that represented both Troy and I. It was so much fun for me to blend my soft, playful, & feminine aesthetic with Troy’s rustic nautical roots to create our wedding day look! Being a graphic designer, I adored finding a way to incorporate this throughout every element of our day!
Meeting new people along the way. Aside from planning and experiencing the most amazing day of my life, the people I have met and the friendships I have gained through the process are truly invaluable!
Writing my vows and being reminded of the true importance behind it all

What I didn’t love about wedding planning:
Accepting the fact that we would not be able to please everybody

Where did you go for your honeymoon?
We spent a week out west! We started out in Big Sky, MT before exploring Yellowstone National Park and ultimately ending the week in Jackson Hole, WY. We had such a blast visiting all of the local shops, trying new foods, hiking, horseback riding, more hiking, pool side lounging, trying not to get eaten by a bear watching wildlife, and more hiking.

Who were your vendors?
Venue & Catering: Lesner Inn Catering Club
Coordinator: Just Dandy Events
Invitations & day of paper goods: Ro & Co Designs
Cake: Jarod Clemente (Troy’s cousin)
Dress: Wtoo “Mimi” gown purchased at Ava Clara Couture Bridal
Make up - Melissa Roomsberg of Dhalia Edwards
Hair - Andra Del Rosario at Salon Vivace
Linens (table runners) - Waterford Event Rentals
Ceremony/Cocktail/First Dance Music:  Jesse Chong
Reception DJ - Chuck Wills

If you could do one thing different throughout your entire wedding planning journey, what would it be?
Hire a videographer! I so wish I could sit back, press play, and revisit the moments that unfolded throughout the day. Especially being able to hear Troy and I recite our vows to one another.

Do you have any advice for future brides?
A few tips:
A First Look!  One of the best decisions we made was to take a moment away from all of the madness to see each other for the first time before our ceremony. It allowed us to take a deep breath, let the moment sink in, and feel all the emotion we were about to feel all day. And to see Troy’s reaction in such an intimate setting was honestly the most special moment of the day (aside from hearing his vows!). It was also a great way to get the wedding party portraits out of the way so we were able to spend more time with our guests after the ceremony!
Try not to stress!  Remember why you are getting married, and try to truly make it be an event about (and for) the both of you. Have faith in your vendors and wedding coordinator and trust that they will do their job well! And once it's happening, just go with it.