Alexandria, Virginia Wedding: Happy Anniversary!

Happy anniversary, Jessica & Joe! You had the best attitude and outlook on your wedding day, despite uncooperative weather in Alexandria, VA. I loved working with you. Here is your same-day wedding video, from Ryan Geldermann.


JESSICA + JOE: Same Day Edit Wedding Video from Ryan Geldermann on Vimeo.

Wedding ceremony location: Carlyle House

Wedding ceremony Musicians: Belleview Rhythmaires
Wedding reception location: Virtue Feed  & Grain

Wedding reception DJ: My DeeJay

Flower: Bloom Fresh Flowers
Makeup: Modern Bridal

Advice for Brides and Grooms: First Dance

I am back today to elaborate on the advice I gave in my Trusted Tips video, created in partnership with The Dandelion Patch and Bowen Films, regarding how to best handle your first dance.  Did you see my earlier advice posts on wedding transportation advice, wedding reception seating tips, and eating the morning of your wedding? If not, please check them out.

In the advice video I mention that if you are very nervous about the first dance, feel free to ask your wedding band or DJ to end it early. There is no shame in this, and your wedding guests will be happy to get out to the dance floor sooner rather than later. To go a step further, if you are very very nervous about it, then don’t do it at all! While most couples do share a formal first dance at their wedding reception, I’ve had a handful over the years who skip the tradition altogether. If you are just a bit embarrassed about it, and want to look really good during your first dance, you should take some dance lessons.

While I have you, I’m going to talk a bit about other formal dances you may be considering for your wedding reception. For the traditional bride/father or groom/son dances, if you want to, you could combine these traditions into one song. Typically in this combo situation, the bride will start with her dad, and the groom with his mom will join in after the first verse of a song. I’ve also seen bride/mother dances when the bride’s father wasn’t at the wedding, which were very sweet. I don’t see many other formal dances at weddings anymore. The Anniversary Dance is still a popular option, if you are going to have a number of married couples on your guest list that would enjoy the spotlight.


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wedding first dance

wedding first dance wedding first dance wedding first dance wedding first dance wedding first dance wedding first dance wedding first dance wedding first dance

Are you worried about your first dance? What steps are you taking to alleviate those nerves? Leave me a comment below! Also, bonus points if you include your first dance wedding song – I love seeing what couples pick!

First dance photo credits from top to bottom: Lisa Boggs, Shelby Leigh, Connor Studios, Deb LindseyEli Turner, Orange Lemur, Jaxon, Lisa Boggs, Kristi Odom, Brian Tropiao, and Debi Parker

Advice for Brides and Grooms: Wedding Day Transportation

I am revisiting my Trusted Tips video today, produced in conjunction with The Dandelion Patch and Bowen Films. In the video, I mention 4 situations where my past clients most appreciated my professional advice. Please check out my earlier posts on eating the morning of your wedding and how to handle your wedding reception seating.

Today I’m going to talk about the stress that is transportation on the wedding day. There is not much that I like more than a wedding that has no transportation component. Don’t get me wrong – I think that in certain situations, you ought to provide transportation for your guests, and in other situations you must provide transportation. But if there is a way to pick wedding venues and hotel blocks to avoid transportation on your wedding day, do it!

wedding day transportation advice wedding day transportation advice

In the video I talk about a particular wedding client who decided to subsidize a more expensive hotel room block for their guests that was within walking distance of the wedding venue, and skip using any transportation, as opposed to using a less expensive room block that would require transportation between the hotel and the wedding venue on the wedding day. The budget stayed the same, and the guest experience was improved in two big ways: they stayed at a nicer hotel and they were not troubled with navigating a transportation schedule on the wedding day.

wedding day transportation advice wedding day transportation tips

Transportation not only stresses me out, but it also stresses out the bride and groom, and the wedding guests. For me, I typically can’t be with the buses from start to finish – my talents are better used elsewhere – so I am constantly worried about if the buses have arrived at the pick up location, if they are properly marked, if the drivers are friendly, if the wedding guests can find them, and so on. I think it’s fair to say that brides and grooms share these worries, though when they work with me, they know I am on top of it.

Of course, the best way to avoid transportation is to get married AT the hotel :-) But many couples don’t opt for that style of venue. If you end up providing transportation on your wedding day, here are some tips on how to make it the best possible experience for your wedding guests.

Top tips for managing wedding day transportation

  1. Have a comprehensive wedding website that includes a schedule of the provided transportation as soon as possible. Share the website with your guests via word of mouth, your save the date card, and your wedding invitation. The website should also include any special driving or parking instructions in case some of your wedding guests decide to drive themselves.
  2. When your guests arrive to the hotel, provide a wedding weekend itinerary to your guests to remind them of the transportation schedule
  3. You or your planner should call the transportation company 24-48 hours before your wedding day to confirm the itinerary and obtain the names and cell numbers of your drivers.
  4. 2-3 hours before the transportation schedule is set to begin, you or your planner should call the drivers, confirm the buses have signage, and review the pick up locations and itinerary.
  5. It is most helpful to hire a transportation company that provides a concierge service. This means that they send an extra staffer with the vehicles to be on site to assist guests while the drivers stay with the buses. They can liaise directly with you or your planner and the drivers, which makes things a bit easier. If you don’t have a concierge, it can be helpful to ask a close family member or friend to monitor the bus pick up situation and make sure that all guests make it onto the shuttles.
  6. Put a small sign in each restroom of your reception venue reminding guests of the departure times of the shuttles. I recommend having 2 set times: 60-90 minutes before your last dance, and 15 minutes after your last dance.
  7. Bonus Tip: Don’t forget that your transportation contract should run through 15 minutes after your wedding end time + travel time from your wedding to the final destination. It is better to plan for, and pay for, this time upfront, because it is usually billed at a higher rate if it is added on after the event.

wedding day transportation tips

I hope you found this wedding advice helpful! If you have any questions about wedding day transportation, feel free to leave a comment below and I will get back to you!

Photo credits from top to bottom: Holland Photo Arts, Katie Stoops, Katie Stoops, Jack Manning and Katie Stoops.

Blue Marble/Agate Linen from BBJ

BBJ Blue Marble Agate trend linen


I am obsessed with marbling as a theme or design element for weddings. I think it is so beautiful and classic and also different. I first noticed marbling as an emerging trend at the National Stationery Show in New York City in 2014, and it has only gained momentum since. (As an aside, I often notice trends and patterns at NSS, which allows me to predict what is going to be popular in the following year or two. Last year I totally foresaw cacti and unicorns as the new trends!)

As proof of the fortitude of the trend, design leader Oh Happy Day is selling these awesome marble paper plates and stationery stalwart Minted offers these beautiful wedding invitations. I think marbling will continue to grow as a trend because it has not fully infiltrated the wedding industry yet. I occasionally see it in stationery and on cakes, but this is the first table linen I’ve seen it on and I am blown away. BBJ Linen has really outdone itself here. I am completely in love with this linen. I want it to come in all the colors – gray, lavender, blush, nude, and black and white, to name just a few. How about a pastel rainbow for a bridal shower or kids party? I hope BBJ will come out with  more colors! Though, this is a pricey linen, about double what my clients typically spend, and it is a bold look. You might consider using it as a statement piece on just a few select tables, like your cake table or head table; or on the bars.

In DC we have a lot of museums and historic properties that host weddings, so there is a lot of marble already at these weddings. I think marbling as a design element would fit in really well for these DC weddings, no matter what overall vibe you are going for. A classic look would be gray and white. A glamorous look would include a metallic or two. A modern look would include geometric shapes and a bold color like black or forest green. A girly event would feature fluffy flowers and shades of pink and yellow. A whimsical design would include jewel tones. The options are endless.

In the marbling trend family is the agate (or geode) trend. This has been growing in popularity over the past 12 months or so, mostly seen in escort cards, place cards, cakes and stationery. It marries well with the marbling trend, since it is another natural element with a similar look. If your wedding is going to  be all about natural elements like greens and wood, then agate will fit in nicely.

Do you like the marbling or agate trends? Would you use them at your wedding or milestone event? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Advice for Brides and Grooms: Reception Seating

I was lucky enough to partner with wedding stationery designer, the Dandelion Patch on a video advice project with top DC wedding planners to provide tips to brides & grooms in the throws of wedding planning. For a series of 4 posts, I’m going to more thoroughly break down what I briefly speak about in that video. Check out my first post which was about planning to eat the morning of your wedding.

This post is all about how your wedding guests want you – natch – need you to make a seating plan for your wedding reception. Wedding guests do not like open seating. It {generally} causes them stress: where will they sit? Who will they sit with? Will they end up in a bad location? Why not eliminate this stress for your closest family and friends if you can?

If you are set on open seating for your wedding, or are having a very casual wedding, then you MUST over-seat the event – this means that you need to have at least 10% of “extra” seats available to your guests. If you are expecting 100 wedding guests, you need to have at a minimum 110 seats at your wedding – a 20% over-seat would be better.

I’m going to break down your seating planning options now. I’m including a review of common wedding vocabulary that you might not be as familiar with.

Seating charts: A large poster, chalkboard or other kind of sign that would list your wedding guests alphabetically by last name and note which table number they will be seated at. Please do not organize the guest names by table, it will frustrate your guests when they are trying to find their seating assignment. This format isn’t the best if you are planning to use table names, unless the table names are quite short. Most printers can produce this for you within 24 hours, so it will be a last minute task for you to manage.

Photo credits: top: Deb Lindsey; bottom: Lisa Boggs.

Escort Cards: This card assigns your wedding guest to a table, but not a seat, at your wedding reception. This is the most common way for brides and grooms to direct their guests to their reception seating. These cards are typically displayed on a table top, but there are other, more interesting ways to incorporate them into your decor. Escort cards should be organized alphabetically by last name. You can have them printed with the names only a few weeks out from the wedding, and add the table number by hand to the back or inside. If every guest is eating the same entree (aside from the occasional vegetarian/vegan/gluten free), you can create just one card per couple, rather than one card per guest. More on this below.

Photo credits: Top: Michelle Lindsay. Second: Lisa Boggs. Third: Kurstin Roe. Bottom: MK McKenna.

Entree Designation: If you are doing on escort cards, and have a choice-in-advance entree, AND don’t plan on doing place cards, you will need to create one escort card per wedding guest (rather than one per couple) with a designation showing the entree choice on the escort card. Your reception emcee should make an announcement at the start of dinner asking guests to place these cards on the table, so that the catering staff can quickly serve the entree course.

Photo credit: Kurstin Roe

Place Cards: Place cards assign your wedding guests an actual seat at the table. This is useful to do on your head table, when you have tables that seat more than 10 guests, when you have a choice-in-advance entree, or simply need to exercise some control over the social situation at the reception table.

Photo credits: Top: You Look Lovely. Middle: Lisa Boggs. Bottom: Jess Latos.

How do you plan to execute your wedding seating plan? Do you have any questions about the information above? Leave me a comment!

More Glamping Party Ideas and Inspiration

I am back with more glamping party inspiration! Did you catch my earlier post with the retro camping linen? I am almost equally obsessed with this navy deer linen, also from DC Rental. Where can you use this awesome linen? A glamping birthday party? A casual rehearsal dinner? Maybe your wedding monogram will have a deer motif? If so, this would be a great accent linen for your cocktail reception, or for your gifts/guest book.

How do you like my pairing this with the wooden charger, the lace base plate and the mason jars? Which top plate do you like better?

If you want help planning your next glamping party, please contact me! I’d love to help you plan your next celebration!