Friday, December 28, 2012

save the dates!

If you’re going to launch into a challenging custom printing project, it helps to have an
incredibly talented graphic and web designer as a sister. Thankfully, mine fit the bill! I had
a specific save-the-date in mind ever since I first launched LK Events & Design. I fell in love with a storybook-meets-timeline idea that would give insight into our couple personality and our history together, and I tasked my sister with making that dream come true.

As an “original” type, I of course wanted to stay away from magnets and photo save-the-
dates which have become a little too cliché for someone who lives and breathes weddings.
I commissioned exactly what I envisioned. They feature a simple, but beautiful timeline that
starts with a chance meeting at a local watering hole, and includes golden moments and
milestones that are now immortalized forever. The look is simple and contemporary with
an outline of our beloved Richmond that my brilliant sister drew by HAND! Within a week of
submitting text, the perfect save-the-dates weren’t just ready, they were mailed and winging their way to our lucky guests.

Helpful Hints for Custom Printing

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a graphic designer in the family, but custom printing is
still relevant and available if you want it. Do your research and find a reliable designer with
a body of work in a style, or variety of styles, you love. Schedule a consultation in person, or
via video or phone chat, and give an honest and account of what you picture when you dream of your ideal invites. Include photos of printed products you love, textures that turn you on, and even the quirky things that made him love you and you love him. Be honest about your budget limitations, but also open-minded about services you might decide are worth the investment. Get, and check, references.

Custom printing goes way beyond a nice font treatment on traditional card stock. Today you
can print on pretty much anything that will stand still long enough. Brides are choosing strips
of delicate wood, pretty pieces of linen and even elaborate, luxurious boxes packed with
multiple layers of printed intrigue or customized antique books in place of single-panel, formal and traditional invitations. Let your imagination soar a little and you may have the next most brilliant save-the-date ever (right after mine, of course!).

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Registry

Okay, if I’m being totally honest with you, I have to say that I hated one part of our early wedding process more than anything: The Registry. I didn’t think I would, either. I mean, it’s shopping – what could be more fun than shopping? Phil, on the other hand, naturally, loved it. We are a strange pair.

We knew we needed to select fairly mainstream stores as our guests live everywhere, and we are pretty down-to-earth people. So we chose Crate & Barrel and Bed, Bath and Beyond. We didn’t want super stuffy china. I have my eye on my grandmother’s set in my mother’s attic anyway. We are also set on crystalware. We mostly needed great flatware, some practical china and most important: great wine glasses. “Easy,” I thought. We’ll be done and out in a couple of hours.

If only…

We were off to a decent start at Crate & Barrel. We chose Roulette china and Halstead flatware, but only after Phil picked up every single piece of flatware in search of the heaviest, most durable spoon. We even chose our wine glasses, the Vin set, which was no easy feat considering our criteria: they had to be big, with a stem that was not to tall, and not too thin as I break everything. The choice was important as the glasses will get far more use than the spoons.

After about an hour, though, I found myself standing, staring blankly at the wall of Crate & Barrel while Phil made “exciting”, casual conversation with a sales associate about knife collections. Who knows what she was thinking of me as I wandered aimlessly between napkins and vases, completely burnt out with blood sugar plummeting. Suddenly I snapped, abruptly ended the conversation with the associate and announced to Phil that I was done. Unfortunately, he wasn’t, so, on he went with his merry scanning as I slid deeper and deeper into Registry Hell.

Bed, Bath and Beyond was no different. By the tenth time that I advised Phil I didn’t care about some item he wanted me to evaluate, he recognized his advantage in the situation and went scanner happy for the rest of our visit. When we receive a kayak and his-and-hers whirlpool foot baths as wedding gifts I will have to remind myself that I did set him free with the scanner.

Even the most highly anticipated wedding tasks can sometimes be really draining. Brides often don’t realize how much additional energy they have to output while carrying on their daily work and home lives in preparation for their Big Day. Break up your registry trips on multiple days, and try to keep your visits painlessly short and focused. Enlist your fiancé’s help with this task as he may very well enjoy it as much as Phil! Just know that you’ll need to accept the consequences if you delegate the job and may end up with an unusual set of gifts.

Check in soon for more of this wedding planner’s own planning adventure!

Friday, December 7, 2012

choosing our venue

I’ve officially dubbed venue selection the hardest part of our planning process. We did everything I would tell my clients: we came up with a list of our priorities together, explored all available options and judged the contenders against our “must-have” criteria.

This is what we deemed most important:

1.      It could not be a place that I’ve worked before. No matter how much I love my clients and my career, it’s just better to separate work from personal life, so the first challenge was to eliminate my long list of go-to venues and still have a list of great possibilities.
2.      It had to be in the city – in the heart of Richmond. We love the RVA more than words.
3.      I had to be able to bring in my own caterer (fellow wedding planners will understand why this is simply non-negotiable).
4.      *It had to be an inside space. When you’re choosing your wedding venue, you have to know yourself, and I know that I’m not the kind of person who can be okay with Plan B. No one likes the gray interiors of banquet halls or the wrinkled walls of last-minute rain-plan tents.

*Of course, as often happens, we fell in love with an “almost perfect” space: Carillon at Byrd Park. Our caterer recommended it as a very unique space (note to brides: caterers often know all the secret spots!) and most people don’t even know that there is an event space under the memorial.  The main thing we loved was the rooftop terrace, which would mean hosting part of our event outdoors, so we made a compromise on #4 and took the leap with Carillon.

Note that on our must-have list, we weren’t stuck on any particular date. I figured that calling Parks and Rec to secure the space would be the easy part. We would just choose our date based on their availability. It’s a really good thing we were flexible, however, as they only had TWO dates open: February 23 and September 28. Phil’s inclination was to choose the September date when the weather was most likely to be nice. Of course it was. Several of my wise clients had the same idea, and September 28 would put our wedding squarely in the midst of wedding season.

At first I wasn’t sure at all that February 23 would be a viable date. We made a list of pros and cons, talked it over with family and agonized over the decision for weeks. Finally, we decided that the pros outweighed the cons and we settled on a February wedding.

And then…we FELL IN LOVE with the idea of a February wedding! From a design perspective, we have so many unique options that you don’t see at local weddings every week, and we truly want an event that is totally our own. Besides, having an outdoor winter wedding in Richmond, Virginia in February confirms what we already knew about ourselves: that we are certifiably insane (and crazy in love!).

If there is any lesson for other brides in our venue search, it is that you have to know yourselves really well. Make a list of your priorities, and make smart choices. If you sense that you’re choosing something that you actually cannot make you happy, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment on the wedding day. There are enough factors that you can’t control (nature, for one, and in some extreme cases your crazy relatives) that it makes sense to manage the ones you can.

Be flexible, though, when there is room in your vision for something new. You might just discover the perfect space is a place you never considered, or learn that a winter wedding makes you wild with excitement.

Next up? Our amazing save-the-dates, working with a custom designer and (insert ominous music here): the registry.

Friday, November 30, 2012

a bride-to-be is born!

Ever wonder what happens when tables are turned, and the wedding planner gets engaged? On August 27, 2012, on Captiva Island, Florida, those magical, and you can bet well-dressed, tables did turn when this wedding planner officially became a bride-to-be! Over the next 90 days, I’ll share with you my own adventures from engagement through “I do” and maybe even a little beyond. I know you’ll recognize yourselves and elements of your own journey in our story. I’ll even try to take the proverbial ring off once in awhile and reflect on what you can learn from this expert-turned-subject and how you can apply what I’ve learned to your own planning. And yes, we’ll definitely have some laughs along the way!

Engagement Story

Our August trip to beautiful Captiva Island in southwest Florida almost didn’t happen. We usually visit Phil’s family there each year. This year, despite his best efforts, Phil kept dropping hints about the engagement, including wanting to plan some “alone time” during what is usually our family vacation. In his defense, 6 years into our relationship I am still impossible to surprise (nice that he keeps trying though!).

Phil’s plan was to let me book our private stay at an inn and give me the false appearance of having control over the vacation (imagine: a wedding planner who likes control). In the days prior to the trip, the Inn kept calling to see if we wanted to reschedule due to impending Hurricane Isaac. We persevered, though, and arrived on a sunny, albeit very windy, day. Our first inclination was to head to the beach, but the sand was blowing so hard that it stung our face and legs, so we retreated inland to the pool. There, under a very romantic straw structure, Phil dropped to one knee and proposed just as a huge storm cloud was rolling in. Of course, I cried, said yes, cried some more, then called my mother and everyone else we know. Phil chose the perfect ring: a yellow diamond in a vintage setting. A bride-to-be was born!

There are probably lessons to be shared here about trying to trick the untrickable, planning an engagement vacation during hurricane season in southwest Florida, or hiding “the ring” in a bag that your future fiancé could sift through (and thankfully didn't), but ultimately it was as romantic an engagement as any I’ve seen, and the beginning of our very own exciting journey towards marriage!

Our next stops: choosing the venue (a.k.a. the hardest part of all) and designing the perfect save-the-date announcements. Look for our next installment soon!

Until then, we'll leave you with this beautiful video our talented friend, Sheena Jeffers, created for us of our engagement week:

Friday, August 24, 2012

we're off!

Aaaaand we're off! No we're not going to the picture above, but it doesn't look too far off! Check back in two weeks for some more fun! 


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Donut vs. Doughnut

Donut vs. Doughnut. Doesn't really matter how you spell it, either way they are Yum. I have a slight obsession with this scrumptious, sugary, doughy, sweet bread. Growing up it was always something presented as a "special treat" or as my siblings and I referred to simply as "ST". Almost every Sunday before church (and probably one of the only things that made us crawl out of bed that early on a Sunday) was the guarantee that the white, powdered Sweet Sixteen donuts would be waiting for us in the kitchen. Remember these beauts?
We love them so much, my sister decided to have them as treats for her wedding guests too. But hers were of THE most delicious variety--spudnuts out of Charlottesville, Virginia.

So as a nod to my favorite treat as a child, I've put together some wedding day donut inspiration for you to drool over.

For y'all local RVA folks, I've put together my top three favorite spots to get these sweet treats.

1. Ms. Yoder's Donuts. I'm telling you, these are smack-your-mama good. And HUGE at about 6 inches in diameter! Coming around only to local farmer's markets (and shucks, they attend one every Saturday a mile from my house--ever wonder the reason why I run??).  Their popularity has decorated their truck with several Richmond awards and on any given Saturday The Yoder Family produce and sell about 1500 donuts in only 4 hours. 

2. Dixie Donuts. New to the Richmond scene, these gourmet donuts come in some crazy good flavors. From pistachio to german chocolate cake to blueberry cobbler and dulce de leche. No, I didn't just buy a LivingSocial deal for $18 dollars worth of these babies.

3. Ukrop's Bakery. An oldie but a goodie. This was the donut favorite in the Averette household growing up. The simply glazed, fluffy donuts are perfect with a cup o' joe. Still to this day when I visit my mom see them in her dessert tray I let out an embarrassing squeal. Good thing she doesn't judge me.

As favors, dessert bars, wedding cake or breakfast, donuts will most likely be a hit at any point and during any season for that matter. You can bet that whenever I decide to take the plunge, these puppies will be hitting my guests lips. 

What are your favor sweet treats? What will you be serving your wedding guests for dessert? 
Would love to hear your fun, creative ideas!

Monday, August 20, 2012

virginia bride magazine

I've been battling the sniffles the last few days, but I'm back to announce some exciting news: WE'VE BEEN PUBLISHED!! Huge thank you to Virginia Bride Magazine for the feature!

Erin and Johnny, the darling duo who will welcome a baby girl into their lives very shortly, were absolutely stunning. They stayed true to their roots with a backyard, farm wedding with tons of shabby chic details. They truly were a beautiful, loving, fun couple. Two of my favorite shots from the day, that you didn't get to see in the feature!

Laura Gordon rocked it out again! Such a talented little lady!

Thank you!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

happy anniversary, catherine and john!

Happy Anniversary to Catherine and John! One year ago yesterday we had the privilege of helping them coordinate and plan their wedding day! It was a stunning and beautiful day at Stevenson Ridge filled with delicious food from White House Catering, beautiful flowers created by the mother of the bride and even a ride in an authentic Model-T! Thanks to Carly Rehberg for the wonderful images and for getting us a feature in this awesome publication! Congrats you two!

To check out Carly's full feature, click on over to her blog!

Monday, August 6, 2012

challenges of vacation: is there such a thing?

We have serious vacation fever. I mean serious. It always gets like this for Phil and I. We wait until the very end of the summer to schedule our vacation thinking it will give us that "aaaaahhhh!" feeling we're yearning for when we leave for the airport, but we always ends up with this stressed out, scream-until-it-comes last two weeks before we leave.

[Phil and I posing happy and calm at the beginning of the summer for our anniversary.]

[Teetering on insanity for vacation.]

The last four years we have been taking vacation the first week in September to visit his family down in Florida. Phil's niece and nephew weren't of grade school age yet so we would miss all of the crowds as the older kids go back to school, plus it was just in the tip of my fall season, so it was still fair game with the clients. Waiting this late for vacation is not fun anymore, it's TORTURE. So what did we decide to do? Move it only ONE WEEK EARLIER. Stupid. Needless to say, we are itching for beach, sun and as Phil likes to say "relaxation station".

[Last year's vacation with his family.]

Prepping to be gone from the office for 10 whole days is hard. Tying up loose ends with clients, making sure there are no final questions for emails to be answered and simply cleaning up my workspace to come home ready to tackle the fall season will be on my agenda for the next 3 weeks. Oh, and along with the wine dates with vendors to say farewell and squeezing in those last minute coffees with clients to assure them they won't go insane while I'm gone. Alright, alright, it feels like I'll be gone for months--but just 10 days, I promise!
(I'm not going to mention the inbox upon my return, okay?)

Here is what's up with me for the next three weeks:

To keep calm and a level head: Running my butt off, literally. My mom will certainly stay on top of me for this one. In a moment of persuasion, I signed up for my second half marathon.

To keep the business running and the clients happy: Crossing off every single item on my to-do list. And the ever growing one until August 23rd.

To return with a sense of organization and freshness: Cleaning my shamefully messy office.

I would love to hear how you tackle running a business or working a demanding job and prepping/taking a vacation! Do you find prepping to leave town is a job in and of itself? Are you fully able to relax once on vacation? We'd love to hear from you!

Friday, August 3, 2012

eleanore + breck, a southern, bay wedding

Oh, where to begin on this one? This, out of just about every wedding I've ever done, was the largest labor of love on record. Bride and groom lived in Chicago, parents of the bride and hosts of the night lived in D.C., the bride's parent's property and venue for the wedding was in Gwynn's Island right on the Chesapeake Bay and I'm in Richmond. Needless to say, the sheer logistics of getting everyone together to plan once in a while was just about impossible. But we did it--several times!

Eleanore's parents are art and architecture enthusiasts, and their Bay property certainly displayed no different character. Built on a six acre property right on the Chesapeake Bay, nestled in pine trees and perfectly manicured lawns and gardens, was basically heaven for me. There was a blank slate and I was so stoked to tackle it! To plan and design an entire weekend of events, including a Friday evening party for 70 guests, a bridal luncheon, pre-ceremony cocktail hour, ceremony and cocktail hour, reception, post-reception beach party and a Sunday afternoon bluegrass and BBQ event, I was surprised to be standing straight by the end of May.
It was the best possible experience only because I had a huge support system at home, Phil (manfriend, we'll detail him later!), my family, my amazing staff and some seriously trusting clients. It truly went off without a hitch. I mean it--nothing went wrong! [Well, except for that time I forgot the steamer after two SUV loads of things brought in from Richmond and about 6 lists of inventory and items. A STEAMER?! But lovely intern, Anna Michelle saved the day with steam from the iron.]

So enough of my gushing over the truly amazing and unforgettable experience--and on with the details! Eleanore and Breck had a clear idea of colors they loved. Words were thrown out like natural, organic, unstructured, wood. We were able to incorporate their love for travel with an atlas garland hung over their chairs and a framed map identifying the places they've traveled together behind a vintage card catalog full of old postcards. Gwynn's Island is Eleanore's family's second home and it's overflowing with local resources--crabs, cheese, oysters--and residents that want to help! We packed welcome bags with TONS of information about this tiny 15 mile long Island, we had local cheeses brought in for cocktail hour, the caterer grew her own mint and basil for our signature cocktails and we even had an oyster shucker on site! The menu was also carefully crafted to include Texas, Chicago, and Virginia roots.

The Flower Cupboard, based in Williamsburg, truly created Eleanore's vision. Buckets and old planter boxes lined the aisle. The tree arbor was adorned with huge flower buds in just the perfect spots. Farm tables were topped with vintage lanterns and eclectic flower-filled vases.

Truly a stunning and breathtaking wedding. And the icing on the cake: WE WERE FEATURED IN SOUTHERN WEDDINGS! One of my most favorite blogs--I mean a southern girl can relate right?? Absolutely an honor, so I encourage you to check out their feature on Eleanore and Breck too!

Lastly--my girl, my homie and friend Laura Gordon takes the most incredible photos. Never even meeting the happy couple until the day of their wedding and she rocked out on capturing their real emotion and love. Take a minute to check out her full post and shout out as well!

photo: laura gordon
event planning and design: LK events and design
flowers: the flower cupboard
entertainment: the blue tips
farm tables, chairs, linens, glassware and china: classic party rentals of va
tent, lighting, tables: special event rentals
hair and makeup: catie starr