Friday, December 2, 2011

Meeting The Team: Meghan Gwaltney

Meghan was born and raised here in Virginia Beach but has strong Southern roots with a family history stemming from the mountains of West Virginia. She spent most of her childhood singing and dancing anywhere and anytime someone would listen, never wasting an opportunity to perform. Years of dance classes, theater seminars, and vocal instruction landed her at James Madison University to study musical theater. Four years later, she left my dance shoes behind and graduated with a degree in Speech Pathology then continued on to get her Master’s degree in the same field in order to pursue a career as a Speech-Language Pathologist at a local children’s hospital.

An unlikely wedding planner you say? Well, she may not be a jack-of-all-trades, but her experiences putting on big theater productions and the creativity and organization she utilizes as a speech therapist have given her a unique skill set that eventually found its way in front of Emily Petersen, and in September 2011 she gladly and excitedly accepted a position with the Emily Weddings team.

"My passion for weddings is rooted in my strong desire to give every bride, groom, and family a day full of smiles and free of stress," says Meghan. A wedding can be a tremendously overwhelming day and she loves being able to say, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.” To give the family that sense of peace so they can relax and just enjoy the day is her goal from beginning to end.

"I’m really looking forward to a full wedding season with the Emily Weddings team and I promise I will do my best to control the urge to break it down at your reception!"

Q&A with Meghan:

What is your favorite current wedding trend?
"My favorite wedding trend comes from the recent influx of “just be yourself” weddings. Who says you have to do the first dance to a slow song? Who says the bridesmaids have to hold bouquets? I live down at the oceanfront in Virginia Beach and the culture here is all about riding beach cruisers – to the grocery store, to the beach, to the 7-11 down the street, why not to a wedding? I’d love to see a bride and groom leave the reception with their wedding party in a parade of bikes!"

What are your favorite wedding colors?
"My favorite color is lime green. Heck, my living room is painted lime green… for real. And it goes with anything… brown, pink, turquoise, yellow, orange, navy. It’s the new black. Use it. Love it. Then paint your living room with it."

What is your favorite wedding cake flavor?
"I’m a beach girl through and through so of course my favorite cake flavor is any combination of coconut with other fruit fillings."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Meeting the Team: Brittany Cooper

High School was the start of it all for Brittany Cooper and her wedding planning career. While attending school in Florida, Brittany found herself coordinating the Prom festivities for her and her friends, everything from dinner to the limo and the after party. "I remember it being a "no brainer" and enjoyed every minute of the planning and coordinating." When she attended college in Gainesville, FL (Go Gators!), she reached out to Melissa DiStefano of Masterpiece Weddings in hopes of shadowing her and learning more about the wedding industry. "The experiences I had while assisting Masterpiece Weddings were truly catalysts for my growing curiosity and passion for event planning." Those experiences also supplemented her degree studies in Event Management at the University of Florida.

Brittany moved to Virginia Beach in the summer of 2010 and immediately began reaching out to area wedding professionals. It wasn't until February of the following year that she met Emily Petersen, owner of Emily Weddings. "It was truly a blessing to sit down and discuss my potential with Emily Weddings. Emily was so warm and welcoming and I felt that we connected both socially and professionally."

Currently, Brittany is completing her Professional Wedding Consultant certification. Upon completion, she will join Emily Petersen and her team members as a professionally certified consultant under the Association of Bridal Consultants.

"I am forever grateful for the Emily Weddings ladies. They all have good hearts and good intentions. The memories we have made and the success we have shared together will always stay with me. You are all my inspiration."

Q&A with Brittany:

Are you a fan of the "first look" or keeping it a secret?
"First Look definitely. I consider myself a very traditional person so it would seem appropriate for me to prefer keeping it a secret, but the pictures and the emotion in the "first look" far surpass any classic tradition."

What is your favorite wedding tradition?
"While it is very traditional...I'm a bit nostalgic and truly love the "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue". Marriage in my eyes is about love and the joining of lives, not just for the bride and groom but for their families as well. Passing on family treasures or keeping with an age old family tradition is what truly hits home for me."

What is your favorite part of a wedding?
My favorite part is definitely when the bride makes her entrance into the ceremony. Everyone always stands and watches the bride make her way down the aisle, but I instead turn to look at the groom (after admiring the bride's gorgeous dress of course). His expression says it all.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Meeting the Team: Christina Williamson

Christina joined the Emily Weddings team in April of 2010, and has sincerely loved every minute of it.

She graduated from Old Dominion University in 2005 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. The knowledge she gained in these areas of study have truly helped in understanding the different types of people and families and cultures she comes across when working on a variety of weddings.

Christina is a “girly girl” in every way and has been obsessed with all things wedding for as long as she can remember. “My DVR is constantly overflowing with wedding shows. It sometimes takes me months to catch up, but I record everything because I don’t want to miss anything that has to do with weddings!”

She is very organized and loves making sure all of the details are in place for the bride’s special day. “It is such a rush to see the months of time and preparation come together and make our bride’s dreams come true.”

Christina was so excited when she got the opportunity to meet with Emily and begin working in the field she loves. When she got engaged in June of 2010, it only heightened her interest in planning and coordinating all of the details that go into a beautiful event. Christina had the opportunity to be the lead coordinator for a fellow Emily Weddings team member in November of 2010, and was lucky enough to have her fellow team members coordinate her own wedding just this past September 2011!

From the flowers to the linens to the wedding dress itself, Christina loves everything that goes into a wedding, and it is absolutely a pleasure for her to work in such a fun environment, with such great people!

Q & A with Christina:

What is your favorite part of a wedding?

"My favorite part of a wedding is absolutely when the bride and groom see each other for the first time. Whether it is a “first look” or its as the bride is coming down the aisle to meet her groom, watching the looks on their faces always puts a smile on my face and tears in my eyes."

What is your favorite season for a wedding?

"My favorite season for a wedding is in the fall. The temperature is mild, the leaves are beautiful, and you can dance outside all night without breaking a sweat. Just make sure you always have a backup plan in case of rain!!!"

What is your favorite bouquet flower?

"My favorite flower is hydrangea. They come in such beautiful colors, and they are classic and beautiful, but also big and bold enough to make a statement. I used hydrangea in my wedding centerpieces and bouquets and they looked absolutely stunning."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meeting the Team: Paula Lipsey

When Paula moved to Virginia in 2010, she knew exactly where to send her resume. While reading the Virginia, Maryland, and DC edition of The Knot, Paula was drawn to an interview with wedding planner and coordinator Emily Petersen. "My love for weddings and events had grown during college, and when I started planning my own wedding (May 19th, 2012), I picked up a local issue of The Knot. The article on Emily Weddings was the first thing I read, and I took it as a sign."

Paula joined the Emily Weddings team in February of 2011, and has enjoyed every minute of helping brides bring their dream wedding vision into reality.

Paula graduated from the College of Charleston in 2010. During her college career, she majored in Media Communication Studies and was a public relations intern for fashion designer Brian Reyes. "I have always had a love for fashion and being able to combine my major and one of my passions was a great experience. Every time I get to help a bride with a fashion decision I get excited!"

Paula's love for the industry was a given while going to school in such a large wedding destination city. "In Charleston, there are planners on every corner, custom dresses on every street, and weddings happening every hour in the beautiful churches of our holy city. I think that every girl that graduates from our school has an interest for weddings and events from just seeing them around town. I got to meet designer Carol Hannah at an alumni event and was a little star-struck!"

Paula also has experience in the interior design field. "When brides can tell me what colors they are leaning towards and the overall feel they are going for with their wedding, I can run from there. I love to see brides get inspired by decor ideas that I put together for them. Whether the client is starting with a blank canvas or if I am helping them give life to an exact vision, I love the whole design process."

Paula says that she is thankful for not only the experience she has gained from the Emily Weddings team members, but the friendships and memories she has made. She can't wait for an exciting 2012 season!

Q&A with Paula:

What is your favorite wedding tradition?
"I was in a sorority, and in the south, we have a tradition called a sorority sing. Your sisters give you your sorority's flower and sing one of your songs before your send off with your new husband."

What is your favorite wedding day accessory?
"I love big statement pieces. Chunky necklaces or cuffs can make a big impact. You only need one fabulous piece to really stand out."

What is your favorite bouquet flower?
"I love peonies. They're big and fluffy and look gorgeous in any bouquet."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stephanie and Matt: September 16, 2011

Today we are celebrating one of our beautiful fall weddings. Stephanie and Matt were married September 16, 2011 at Old Donation Episcopal Church with a reception at the Lesner Inn. Below are their amazing photos by Echard Wheeler. Other fabulous vendors included Palette of Petals, Distinctive Event Rentals and Incredible Edibles! We hope you fall in love with this couple's photos as much as we did!

Are you planning your fall wedding for 2012? We would love to help!
Don't forget to like us on Facebook to keep up with all of our wonderful weddings just like Stephanie and Matt's! Congratulations again you two!!

The Emily Weddings Team

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cold Front

With this sudden drop in temperature, we can't help but start thinking about winter. December is right around the corner, along with the thought of fresh spruces and a blanket of white snow. Winter weddings can be some of the most beautiful and breathtaking because of the scene that Mother Nature paints as a setting. From colorful pashmina favors and cigar bars to hot chocolate and bourbon tastings, the options are endless on how to warm up your guests. We would love the chance to help you plan your winter wonderland wedding! Below is some inspiration for our future snow queens.

Stay warm!

The Emily Weddings Team

Photo Credits:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Giving Thanks

Is it November already?!? We can't believe how fast fall has flown by with all of these amazing weddings and beautiful brides! It has truly been a fantastic and fun year for our team.

As we enter November, we come upon the topic of giving thanks. We know that you love your wedding vendors, and want to show them thanks and appreciation at the end of your big day. But how much "thanks" do you show? Tipping is usually a question in which not many couples know the answer. Don't fear, we are here to give you the skinny on how much love to give.


While it isn't necessary to tip priests, ministers, rabbis, or other religious officiants (many of them, in fact, won't accept cash tips), if you want to thank them for their services, consider making a donation to their organization or house of worship. A typical amount is $75 to $100, separate from any fee you may be charged for the officiant's time.
If you belong to a church, your own minister or priest may perform the wedding at no charge. In this case, you could make a donation to the church, and as an extra thank-you, consider sending something personal, such as a gift certificate to a nice restaurant.
If your wedding is performed by a civil employee such as a judge, clerk, or other nonreligious official, then forgo a gratuity. Such officiants are paid a flat rate and are usually not permitted to accept tips or donations -- local law may actually prohibit it. A thoughtful card, however, is always appreciated.

Catering Staff

Many caterers include a gratuity in their contract to be divided up among the workers, but be sure to ask. If the gratuity isn't included, plan on tipping all staff members, including the catering or banquet manager, waiters, bartenders, chefs, and other essential workers who help serve guests.
"Most catering staff members receive a decent hourly wage, however, so you needn't go overboard on their tips," says Joe Piane, sales manager and executive chef at Piane Caterers in Wilmington, Delaware.
You can calculate the tip as a percentage of the cost of your total catering bill. Figure on paying about 15 to 20 percent of the amount for the banquet manager to share with the kitchen and serving staff. Another way to compute the gratuity is to offer a flat amount for each worker, which is often a more economical method, especially if your catering company is expensive. You'll want to give roughly $100 for the catering or banquet manager, $50 each for chefs (and bakers), and $20 to $30 each for waiters and kitchen staff, divided into separate envelopes.
Tips can be paid in advance to the director of the catering company, or you can hand them to the banquet manager toward the end of the evening.

Musicians and Deejays

Tipping customs vary, depending on whether you hire an independent band or deejay or book through an agency. For independent bands that book their own gigs, tipping is not customary.
"No matter what your deejay or band is charging, the money is going right into their pockets, so don't feel like you have to give extra, unless of course they really went above and beyond," says Kelly Scriven, owner of the Bride's Maid, a wedding consulting business in Whitman, Massachusetts. Valerie Romanoff, owner of New York City--based Starlight Orchestras, adds, "We're always pleasantly surprised when clients tip us and recognize the entertainment value of what we provide, but it's not expected."
If you employ your band or deejay through an entertainment agency, the company will usually either include a gratuity in the contract or suggest that you give each band member or deejay a little extra in cash. If your contract includes a "service charge," don't assume that it is the gratuity. "The service charge often goes right back to the company," says Scriven.
Musicians should be tipped about $20 to $25 apiece; deejays get at least $25. Many bands offer a vocalist for the ceremony at an additional cost. Tip him or her the same amount as you would one of the other musicians. Hand out the tips in cash at the end of the night.

Stylists and Makeup Artists

Even though it's a particularly special day, you can still tip stylists and makeup artists as you would for a regular appointment -- 15 to 20 percent. For each assistant who helps with secondary tasks, such as shampooing, plan on giving a gratuity of $3 to $5.
You can hand out tips in envelopes directly to stylists, or leave them at the salon's front desk. If you're short on cash, it's fine to tip by check or include it on a charge. If a stylist comes to your home or the wedding site, tip as you would at a salon, but in general, makeup artists and hair stylists who own their own businesses are not tipped.

Photographers, Videographers, Florists, and Wedding Coordinators

For people who own their own businesses, as many of these vendors do, tipping isn't necessary. "They've already negotiated their fees and expect only that amount of money," says Jeremy Faryar of LIFEstories Film, a New York City videography company that specializes in weddings. For photographers, videographers, and florists who do not own their own businesses, tip $30 to $50; wedding coordinators should be given about $50 to $100.
If you feel that the service you received from one of these vendors was extraordinary (say, if the videographer stayed and took footage of an after-wedding party even though it wasn't in his contract), an additional 10 percent tip would be a nice gesture, says Ruth L. Kern, an etiquette consultant in Barrington, Illinois. Or you might send a thank-you gift such as flowers or a print from your photographer showing the vendor in action at your wedding.

Site Staff

Wherever you have your wedding, there will likely be many behind-the-scenes workers, such as coat checkers, powder-room attendants, or parking valets. Make sure you do not overlook these people -- while you may not have much contact with them throughout the celebration, they help keep guests happy. Sometime before the wedding, ask the site manager to instruct workers not to accept any tips from guests. Instead, plan on tipping them yourself. At the end of the evening, pay coat checkers a total of $1 to $2 per guest, which they can share. Powder-room attendants should receive 50 cents to $1 per guest, to be divided among them. Set aside $1 to $1.50 per car to give to the parking manager, who can then divide up the cash among the valets.

Seamstresses, Delivery People, and Drivers

Though they won't actually be at the wedding, these workers' preparatory roles are just as important, so be sure to thank them in some way.
The people delivering the flowers and cake should receive at least $5 each at the time they make their deliveries. A gratuity for your limousine driver may already be included in your bill, but if it's not, consider giving a tip of 15 to 20 percent of the cost (pay it in cash when the driver picks you up). For seamstresses, a cash tip is not expected, but sending a small gift such as a photo of you in your dress is a wonderful way to show your gratitude.

We hope this guide helps when it comes to giving thanks and showing the love for your great vendors!


The Emily Weddings Team

A big thanks to Martha Stewart Weddings for the tipping guide!
Photo Copyright Peanuts Charles M. Shulz

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Designer Inspired Weddings: Kate Spade

When future brides are imagining the decor that will go along with their dream wedding, they may refer to a favorite color, pattern, or style. Designing weddings can be very similar to designing clothing. Inspiration is needed, along with a defining sense of what the overall look will be. Fashion designers most often have a certain look or feel about their lines. Whether it be the bright colors and patterns of Palm Beach that inspire Lilly Pulitzer, or the geometric designs that most often accompany the couture of Missoni, a piece can likely be identified by its designer's unique style. Some brides may even to refer to a designer's personal style to inspire their wedding. Today, we highlight designer Kate Spade, as we create a preppy-chic inspiration board.

While Kate Spade began by making simple and sophisticated handbags, her fashion world has now grown into bold and stylish clothing and more. In our inspiration board we highlight her original clean and simple lines while adding her more recent pops of color and whimsical style.

Are your wedding details designer inspired? We would love to know.

The Emily Weddings Team

All photos via Pinterest