SPOTLIGHT – SUMMERFIELD FARMS – VENUE

| North Carolina, Vendor Spotlight, Venues, Weddings

Are you looking for a venue that has a little bit of history, rustic surroundings and breathtaking views? If so, you will want to read more about my friends at Summerfield Farms.

Located just north of Greensboro, Summerfield Farms is not only an family operated working farm but a great rustic wedding venue with lots of charm. I had the opportunity to ask them a few questions about their venue and wedding experiences that I knew I wanted to share with you guys.

I know that Summerfield Farms is a working cattle farm. What made you decide to go into the wedding business?

One visit to Summerfield Farms and it’s easy to see why it has become the Triad’s premier rustic wedding venue. The landscape and venues practically breathe charm! The space is simply too magical to share only with the cows and chickens.

Okay, all I can think about is wedding photo op – a groom milking the cow and a bride feeding the chickens. I know…that’s why I create the invitations, not take the pictures….

What are some of the hurdles that come with running both a farm and a wedding venue that couples may not know about?

Many people don’t realize that Summerfield Farms is also a working farm, which has presented challenges when scheduling tours and farm visits. For the safety of our guests and the sanctity of the farm, all tours and visits must be scheduled in advance and accompanied by a staff member.

What sets Summerfield Farms apart from other venues?

Summerfield Farms has a wide variety of indoor and outdoor venue spaces that can accommodate a wide range of guests. Unlike any other venue in the area, we can take your event from backyard to ballroom.

You currently have eight different venues: The Barn, Rascal’s Ridge, Bank at the Pond, The Meadow, The Tractor Ride, The Pole Barn, The Little Tree and the Back Porch. Which one is your favorite and why? Your newest venue is the Back Porch, right? Tell us a little about that one. Is it open yet?

The Back Porch is coming soon! With picnic tables and a built in fireplace, it will be a great place for casual family gatherings or parties.

Can I just say that I can’t wait to think up a reason to have a party on the Back Porch once it’s open. This is exactly what I’d love my back yard to look like.

 

How many weddings do you have in a weekend/month?

This ranges based on the season. We are equipped to host up to four events each day; however, we typically have between one and two weddings a night, Friday-Sunday.

What is your favorite part about the weddings?

Every wedding is different! It’s so much fun to see how each couple tailors their event to fit their own personalities, and we love being a part of that creative process. We learn so much from each couple and are always honored to be a part of their special day.

Do you have a favorite fun story?

We have countless fun stories! One of the beautiful things about The Barn at Summerfield Farms is that we’re not just a venue space, we’re also building a lifestyle. We love growing up with our guests and celebrating life with them through all stages.

What different packages do you offer your couples?

The options are endless! With four different ceremony/reception sites to choose from, hayrides, four different guest quarters, and countless scenic photo ops, couples have a wide variety of options available to them.

How long in advance do you typically start working with a bride?

This is fully dependent on how far in advance a couple is planning their wedding! We have some weddings on the books a year and half out, while others are contracted with just a month or two left to go.

Do you provide someone dedicated to the couple on the day of the event to help them?

Each wedding has an assigned Event Producer who is the key contact both leading up to, and during, the event. The Event Producer is there to know and take care of the details so that the couple can just enjoy the wedding!

What size wedding is typical for you?

While wedding sizes range from intimate gatherings to large parties, our average wedding is for around 150 guests.

What trends do you see with the current brides?

There are colors and decorative styles that trend, but there are also wedding seasons and months that change in popularity. Last year, fall weddings were very trendy, but this year, it’s spring!

If you could tell the brides one thing about your business, what would it be?

Here at Summerfield Farms, we live and breathe special events. We love to learn, and we love to extend that education to our clients and guests. With every suggestion or idea we present, we do so with our guests in mind. We want every guest to walk away with an excellent experience, so everything we do is done with that goal in mind.

Finally, at Summerfield Farms, you host events other than weddings. What other events do you have at Summerfield Farms?

We have hosted events as small as a classic brunch for 10 people up to a Community Table for hundreds of people, and everything in between! One of our most recent community events included an Easter Eggstravaganza complete with music, refreshers, and an egg hunt that included a $500 golden egg prize. We are always looking for ways to be more involved in the area, and love introducing friends to the local Summerfield flavor.

I hope you have enjoyed our discussion with Summerfield Farms today.  If you want to know more about them and how they can help you with your event, be sure to follow them on social media:

Website: http://www.summerfieldfarms.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/summerfieldfarmsnc
Instagram: https://instagram.com/summerfieldfarms

And for those of you soon-to-be brides, that are still in search for that perfect venue and wedding invitation suite, be sure to check out my Instagram later today to learn about the joint promotion between Summerfield Farms and LaurieLouis.com and how to Register to Win $100 to spend on invitations at LaurieLouis.com.

Don’t forget to share your love on Facebook!

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A BRIDE’S STORY – First Look

| A Bride's Story

Hi guys! This week, Amber talks about “The First Look.” Now I’m sure that 90% of you know what “The First Look” is but for that 10% of you, I thought I would give you the definition. The “First Look” is generally described as a specially arranged secret moment between the bride and groom (and of course the wedding photographer) before the ceremony. Want to know more…Read On!
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Happy Wednesday! This Tuesday really snuck up on me, as I am sure it did for many of you as well! I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend and took a moment (private or public) to remember the reason for the glorious three day weekend that kicks off summer!

Last week my wonderful photographer, Susan Crutchfield, and I set up a preliminary timeline for the wedding day. As I’m sure most of you know, the photographer is your best ally when it comes to timing on your day. He or she has been through this countless times before and knows how long it’s going to take to corral your family and friends for the obligatory photos before and after the ceremony. Something in particular that I thought was worth bringing up was the First Look.

I think the First Look is an idea which people feel very strongly about one way or the other. I don’t see much middle ground. Personally, I am opposed to the first look. I understand the merit of one and have read up on this a ton myself, but I guess I am just an old fashioned girl and don’t think Dan should see me in my wedding dress until I am walking my final walk as a single woman. One of the main arguments for the first look that I came across while doing some research was for the bride and groom to have that private moment before the chaos of the day and ground each other.

I completely understand that logic. Dan is my rock! If I have a good day or a bad one, he is the one that I need in order to grip reality. The best example I can think of is when I was graduating from college. He and I were in a difficult time in our relationship and as nervous as I was that day (I was pretty sure I was going to trip and fall and show the entire university my underpants) as soon as I saw him in the crowd, I was immediately calm. Crazy to think that one person can have such an amazing influence on you.

I can almost guarantee that I am going to need to hear his voice that day. Before I walk down the aisle. I will need his help, once again, to get through that pivotal moment. I just really like the idea of him being completely in the dark over how nice I can clean up until it’s the moment. Just because I am against it doesn’t mean that I think any less of any bride and groom that choose the first look route though. I clearly get it and to each his/her own! So if you know someone who is getting married, if you’re the one getting married, or you’re a newlywed…don’t let anyone talk you into or out of whatever choice you and your future spouse have decided! Every decision is yours to make. It is YOUR day. Don’t forget that!

I hope you all have a wonderful short week and thank you, again, for checking in on me and our wedding plans.

Until next time, friends!

Amber
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We would love to hear your “First Look” Stories, don’t forget to share with us.  In tomorrow’s Vendor Spotlight, we will sit down with Summerfield Farms. Be sure to check out tomorrow’s spotlight if you are recently engaged and thinking about a rustic wedding in North Carolina or want to plan a fun party. We will also be sharing a joint promotion soon between LaurieLouis.com and Summerfield Farms. Stand by!

Until next time, don’t forget your sunscreen and be sure to share your love on Facebook!
Laurie

 

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WEDDINGS – Etiquette

| Weddings

About the time I started thinking about this week’s blog, a good friend of mine sent me an example of a wedding invitation she had received…via email. Yes, you read correctly, via email. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for using the internet whenever possible for things and Paperless Post is a great website when planning a party…as long as it’s NOT your wedding. I realize that not all couples have money to spend on expensive invitations but with today’s home printers and heavy cardstock and printing places like Staples, Office Depot/Office Max, Fedex Office and UPS, couples can create unique invitations at a low cost. And if you need help with your invitation designs, check out our DIY Suites option.

So, now that I’ve ranted for you, let’s talk about some of the top wedding etiquette do’s and don’ts.

#1 – Don’t Share your news on Social Media before telling your family.
This is something I really never thought about until I started my research and started to talk to people. Once you have basked in the glow of saying yes, your first call or visit should be to your family and then your closest friends…NOT changing your status on Facebook. Save that for after you have told your family.

#2 – Don’t put your Register information on your Wedding Invitation.
As much as you want to make things easy for your guest, putting your register information on your invitation is just not done. In this case, word of mouth works very well and putting your registry information on a bridal shower invite is also a good idea. Websites for the engaged couple or wedding Facebook pages are also two other places where you can list your registries and even provide a link. In this day of social media, feel free to add a small card with your wedding website and any #hashtags created just for the wedding.

#3 – Wedding Invitation Timelines.
Save-The-Date cards should be sent out four to six months prior to the wedding. Wedding Invitations should be sent out five to six weeks prior to the wedding and RSVP cards should be returned two to three weeks prior to the wedding. Make sure to check with your caterer or wedding venue before deciding on your RSVP date though.

#4 – Don’t Invite someone to a Shower that isn’t Invited to the Wedding.
If you don’t have room for them at your wedding, don’t invite them to a shower just to get a present. There are generally only two exceptions to this.  One would be if you are having a work shower where everyone is invited and two would be if you have an age cutoff at the wedding and want to invite teenagers/children to the shower.

#5 – Don’t make your guests Pay for their Own drinks.
I am sure that several, if not half of you, may be saying – WHAT to this. After lots of research, it was pointed out to me that not all of your guests have the extra income to pay for several hours of a cash bar. Keep in mind, especially if most of your guests have traveled to the wedding that they are already incurring a lot of travel costs. If you are on a tight budget, think about offering just beer and wine or creating your own signature drinks that limits your amount of alcohol served. If the venue allows you to provide your own alcohol, you could also purchase it at a discount store and provide it for the reception. This can help you limit your costs as well.

#6 – Who gets a Plus One on their Invitation.
This one was funny and I have one friend in particular that is probably laughing as she reads this. If you are inviting someone that is married, engaged or in a committed relationship, they should receive a plus one. If you know the guest’s name, be sure to include it on the invitation. For example: John Anderson and Elizabeth Moore. If you don’t know their partner’s name but know they are in a relationship, address the envelope:  John Anderson and Guest.

#7 – Be Sure to Speak to All of your Guests.
Lots of couples are forgoing the receiving lines these day but you need to find a way to speak to everyone before you leave the reception. If you are having a sit down dinner, think about visiting each table during the reception after you have cut the cake or after you’ve had your first dances.

#8 – And Finally – Don’t wait a Year to send a Thank You Note. 
According to Emily Post, All Wedding Thank You Notes should be sent within three months of receiving the gift. Try planning ahead and work with your stationery provider to get matching Thank You Notes at the same time you send out your invitations. That way, as you receive a gift, you can send back a thank you note.

Well, that’s my eight. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts. Be sure to check back next week for the next edition of A Bride’s Story and our Vendor Spotlight as we sit down with Summerfield Farms.
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A Bride’s Story – Forever Hold Your Peace!

| A Bride's Story

Hi guys! I love Amber’s edition of A Bride’s Story this week. We tried to come up with several titles, several of which were to long, so this is my favorite that wasn’t to be…Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Rude…curious, read on!
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Well, friends, it finally happened. Tomorrow marks 6 months until our big day and I am finally starting to feel like time is speeding up!! Not as much as I would like, but speeding up nonetheless! My first bridal shower is in 2 months up in NY and I cannot wait! When we first started talking about the bridal showers and the wedding, it all seemed so far away and talking to Keri and Krista (maid and matron of honor) the other day, I am starting to get really excited about how close it really is. Six months isn’t a long time, heck, we’re nearly halfway through the year and it doesn’t seem possible! Another 6 months should go by in no time!

Not at all related, I wanted to share with all of you the very odd experience I had yesterday. I went to get a (long overdue) massage and while talking to the massage therapist, I realized that people really have no filter when discussing marriage/relationships/weddings with complete strangers. I didn’t really feel like sharing my whole life story with her, or hearing hers for that matter, but when you’re naked on a table…you do what you must to avoid feeling uncomfortable. I wanted to share a few gems with you from this ridiculous experience. 1) She was with her husband for 9 years, so by the time they eventually got engaged, they were married within a month. (This may work for some couples, but some of us want a shindig) 2) She informed me that the first year- scratch that -first several years are the hardest, but if you can make it through those, you’re golden. 3) DO NOT have children, (she has a 9 year old, so I found this one very interesting) they ruin marriages, apparently.

As for difficult times, every relationship has them. The idea of a “perfect relationship” is subjective. Never fighting? Not healthy, no two people are going to agree on every little thing and not fighting (and I am not talking about knockdown drag out fights, I’m talking disagreements) means nothing is sorted out! Flowers every day? Wouldn’t that be boring if it was all the time? Dan and I don’t have a perfect relationship, so I don’t believe we’re going to have a perfect marriage. We are, however, imperfectly perfect together. We fight over the dishes, money, laundry, etc. like any other couple, but we communicate our issues and resolve them. I am certainly not a relationship expert, but I think that is what you’re supposed to do and I am pretty sure that is a big reason why we’re a) still together and b) getting married. I think the unspoken c) is who else would put up with my crap like he does and vice versa!

In my opinion marriage is about love, respect, and communication. If you’re missing any of those things there is a problem. You may not always communicate well, we may do things to disrespect our partners (on purpose or by accident-we’re all human), and I am sure there are times when that line between love and hate gets really thin in the heat of the moment, but a moment does not make a relationship. A relationship is built on thousands of moments and as long as the good moments always outweigh the bad ones….that is when you’re golden.

Aside from my Hallmark beliefs, I think the moral of this story is this: Don’t tell complete strangers how hard it is to be married or have children. If someone asks for your opinion, it is probably because they trust you, so don’t just push your experiences on them and cookie cut the situation. If you are divorced, that does not mean that your best friend is going to wind up divorced. If you’re celebrating your 25th wedding anniversary, it does not mean that every couple you know will have an equally successful marriage. Be honest with the people that ask for an opinion, but be aware of the situation and we all know that sometimes a white lie for the good of friends or family is necessary. Just because you think that your friend’s new relationship is doomed to fail doesn’t mean that you have to share it with them. You may LOVE her new beau and think he is the bee’s knees, but if he doesn’t do it for her, do not rush to judgement. We all judge ourselves a million times a day for the most ridiculous things, sometimes it’s really nice and even needed to have a friend just shut up and listen. Sure, she has an opinion, but as they say at the movies (and should say at the spa)…silence is golden.

Until next time, friends!

Amber
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I told you that her blog was great this week.  Be sure to check back tomorrow, where we talk about Wedding Etiquette and Deadlines. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.  Amber will be back next week with a new edition of A Bride’s Story and check back next Thursday when we sit down with Summerfield Farms and I tell you about an upcoming promotion with them.
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SPOTLIGHT – A Squad Bake Shop – Pastry Chef

| Cakes, Savannah, Vendor Spotlight

Some of you may remember in Amber’s – A Bride Story, she talked about the wonderful cake tasting that we did when she and I went to Savannah earlier this year – A Squad Bake Shop. In this week’s Vendor Spotlight, we get to learn a little bit more about Natasha Gaskill – Pastry Chef to the brides of Savannah.

Tell me a little about your company?

I am a boutique bake shop located in Savannah, GA, specializing in wedding cakes that are both exceptional in taste and styling. I am inspired by everything local and lovely, from the opening of strawberry season, an inspired R&D beer from Service Brewing to one of Katherine Sandoz’s amazing landscapes.

Buttercream and sugar -Cherokee roses

Buttercream and sugar -Cherokee roses

You worked at Lulu’s in Savannah before going into business for yourself. What made you decide to start your own business?

I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. In my former life, before baking, I started and operated a recycling company for 13 years in Savannah. I helped start the existing curbside program the city presently uses and effectively put myself out of business and into culinary school. So, while I enjoyed working at Lulus and adored my team there, I think the idea of working for myself again was always sort of bumping around in my head.

“Flannery in Frosting” An edible art piece exhibit for The Flannery O’Connor House. Buttercream (including the face) sugar magnolia and sugar Spanish moss.

“Flannery in Frosting” An edible art piece exhibit for The Flannery O’Connor House. Buttercream (including the face) sugar magnolia and sugar Spanish moss.

Have you always baked?

I have always been obsessed with food. All aspects of food. We always had large gardens and fruit trees growing up. My mother is from India and my father traveled the world when he was in the service; we were exposed to a lot of different foods. We talked a lot about food. We knew a lot about food, how to grow it, where to find it, which led to knowing what to do with it. My older brother is a chef, as well.

What makes you different then the other bakeries in the area?

I like to think I bring some culinary street cred to the game. I treat each wedding cake the same as I do when composing a dessert for a restaurant., taking into account what the season dictates, the bride and groom’s preferences, and culinary trends.

Strawberries, from Coastal Botanical Gardens, picked in the am, jammed in the pm.

Strawberries, from Coastal Botanical Gardens, picked in the am, jammed in the pm.

I know that when we talked before, you mentioned that you like working with local ingredients. How do you find your local vendors?

Primarily Forsyth farmers’ market, but a lot of them are my friends.

Why did you decide to do wedding cakes?

I learned to make sugar flowers from the High Priestess of wedding cakes, Minette Rushing, when I shared a kitchen with her. It was an instant love match, sugar flowers, as well as Minette! Under her encouragement, I found a real passion in wedding cakes, as it used all my skills. Design, baking, crafting, collaboration with clients, collaboration with local businesses and farms, and waxing poetically about food!

Happy in her Kitchen!

Happy in her Kitchen!

What is the most interesting request that you have had from a bride and were you able to help them?

I had a bride change her statement sugar flower from a peony to a stargazer lily, as it had significant meaning to her family. I had never made one before, but I told her I’d figure it out. I did figure it out and figured out along the way to be courageous and willing to give things a try. It is my most favorite flower I have made for a wedding.

From a vendor’s perspective, what is the best piece of advice you can offer to engaged couples?

Know your budget and be forthcoming about it. Its not a very fun subject, but it is crucial. I am looking to execute your wedding cake beyond your expectations. So are the other vendors you will be meeting with. We all need to know what we are working with though. In the consultations that go the smoothest and that are the most fun, the couple come with both, inspiration pictures and a firm idea on what they are looking to spend. It makes the most of both of our time to get down to the nitty gritty of cost to get to the goods of design that are applicable to your needs.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Oh my gosh..EVERYWHERE!! An interesting person, sweet spring air, the book I am reading, other chefs, fashion, ART, the local food scene….really I am constantly inspired!

Savannah Weddings Magazine. Cover contender.

Savannah Weddings Magazine. Cover contender.

What is your process with brides?

Well, I usually will have a brief convo on the phone, discussing flavors, dislikes, loves, and allergies and set up a date for the tasting/consultation. We then get to meet at my tasting space. It is a beautiful sunroom on the third floor of a historic building on Liberty Street. We look at any inspiration pieces and discuss design. Then we eat cake and drink bubbles and talk about Savannah and smile and laugh because its fun!

How far out do brides usually come to you prior to their wedding?  

The ideal time to talk cake is after a few major choices have already been made, i.e. dress is purchased, venue is booked, overall design is decided. Ideally, four to nine months out. Though, Savannah books up fast! So maybe four months isn’t realistic. Six to nine months out.

What current trends are you seeing with brides today?

Big, stately cakes!!

If you could tell the brides one thing about your business, what would it be?

I am probably as excited for your wedding cake as you!

I hope you have enjoyed our discussion with A Squad Bake Shop today.  Want to know more about them and how they can help you with your event, be sure to follow her on social media:

Website: http://www.asquadbakeshop.com – launching in May
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ASQUADBAKESHOP
Instagram: https://instagram.com/asquadbakeshop/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/asquadbakeshop/

Don’t forget to share your love on Facebook!

 

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A Bride’s Story – Anniversary

| Uncategorized

In this week’s edition of A Bride’s Story, we catch up with what’s going on with Amber.  Even though, it has been less than a year since our good friend’s Amber and Dan got engaged, they celebrated an anniversary this week!
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Hello friends and happy Wednesday!! I apologize for the brief hiatus, but life has a way of sneaking up on you and demanding some more attention! I can’t believe that we are creeping up on the 6 month mark! I am still not to a point that I am going to start counting the days, but I can say that we are officially 6 months and 8 days out!

Sunday was the 5 year anniversary of our first date! As it was Mothers’ Day we opted to put the anniversary celebration on hold and celebrate a few of the mothers in our lives and have a brunch with my mom and brother and Dan’s sister, niece, nephew and his wife. It was absolutely worth putting our own celebration on hold. We are so blessed to have family close, but even more blessed to be able to spend quality time with them! Dan’s nephew was on leave from the Navy and we were able to meet his wife for the first time before they head off to (most likely) Japan.

Since we didn’t get to celebrate our anniversary on Sunday, we decided that we were going to have an adventure day on Monday. We drove down to Camden, SC to visit the battlefield and the historic district. Unfortunately for us, we found out after we arrived that everything is closed on Mondays and were only able to walk around outside without the joy of being able to visit the inside of the Kershaw house or the museum. We salvaged the trip with a visit to Columbia to see a good friend and have some lunch. This isn’t the first time that this happened to us, we are really terrible about checking the times and days that things are open!

All in all it was a blissful trip and we had lots of laughs and such a great time enjoying each other! With him being in school and our work schedules, we have really struggled with getting quality time together and I am so looking forward to having a couple of weeks where we get to see each other for more than a few moments a day!!

On the wedding front there is really nothing to add, we have all of our ducks in a row for now and are impatiently awaiting our nuptials. At least I am, I can’t speak for him! All we have left to do is getting the tuxes for the guys and his wedding ring. I kind of can’t believe how little we have left to do! I am anxiously awaiting the time to start flying by, like everyone tells us it will, and cannot wait to marry this wonderful man of mine!

Until next time, friends!

Amber

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WEDDINGS – Treating your Bridesmaids Well

| Weddings

Dear Future Bride –

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding.  What an exciting time for you and your family as you plan one of the most exciting events of your life. You have picked your bridal party and they will stand by you and support you as you plan your wedding day. Just a word to the wise, as much as it’s your big day, if you make that bridal party happy, it will not only make you the coolest bride in their eyes but it will also make them more willing to help you tie all your favors at the eleventh hour.

Here are just a few ideas and steps to help you on your way…

1.  Why not start things off by asking them in a special way. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, it’s the gesture that counts.  A cute gift basket that includes their favorite lotion or body wash from Bath & Body Works, a cute shot glass with a bottle of their favorite liquor,  a stemless wine glass and their favorite bottle of wine with an invitation asking them.

will-you-be-my-maid-of-honor

Invitation by LaurieLouis.com – featuring the 2015 color – Marsala

2. If your friends are like mine, and all over the country, make sure to connect them before the wedding parties start.  This helps them get to know each other and become a “group.”  A strong bond between your girls will make your big day better. There are great apps out there now that are perfect for keeping in touch.  Check out Google Hangout, Skype or you can even create a Private Page on Facebook just for you and your girls.

social-media

 

3.  Keep you girls up to date on the wedding details.  They will love to hear about your ideas and any selections that you make.  After all, that’s what the bridesmaids are there there for.

4. If you are planning a destination wedding, think about helping your bridesmaids there. Traveling costs are daunting and can add to the stress for your girls. Check with your hotel and see if you buy a block of rooms for your girls. will they give you a discount or think about giving each girl a Visa gift card in their goodie bag or if you have airline points, think about helping them with their tickets.

5. Show them a little freedom with their dresses. No two of your bridesmaids will be built the same and neither will their budgets.  Think about giving them a color swatch and let them choose their dress and budget.  Of course, you can always have final say to make sure their style is in keeping with the style of your wedding.

color-pallete

6. When picking shoes for your bridesmaids, think about comfort. They will love you if the shoes that they have to wear ALL day and ALL night are comfortable.  Think about buying your own pair and wearing them for a day to see what your brides will be experiencing.

7. Gift your girls something personalized. It means so much more to receive something that you purchased with them in mind instead of buying all identical things. Some cute ideas would be customized trays, customized coasters, customized stationery or  a monogrammed frame where she can put a cute picture of the two of you from the wedding.

All sold at LaurieLouis.com

All sold at LaurieLouis.com

8. Provide your girls with a detailed schedule of the wedding way in advance.  Be sure to include which events are mandatory and if it’s a destination wedding or they are traveling in, what day you need them to be there.  Please keep in mind their work schedule and that they may be taking vacation from work or need to arrange babysitters to attend your wedding festivities.

9. Have some pampering girl time the weekend of your wedding.  Whether it’s a local spa day or contacting a nail salon to do manis and pedis the morning of the your wedding.  If you don’t want the expense of a spa, round up the polishes and lotions and have your own spa day.

10. Give them small day-of tasks. They will feel appreciated and make your day less stressful. If they are able to contribute to your big day, they will feel more included.

11. Feed  and hydrate them throughout the day.  Although this seems like something something simple, the last thing you want is the girls getting so busy they forget to eat or drink.  Although starting your day off with mimosas and pastries sounds fun, large amounts of alcohol can make you dehydrated, especially on a hot day. Think about a goodie box with everyone’s favorite snacks and fruit drinks.

12. Take pictures with each of your bridesmaids. Although you will have lots of pictures taken with the wedding party, especially after you have primped. Think about taking some before pictures with your girls to remember the fun, as well as individual pictures with each bridesmaid that you can present to them in a monogrammed frame later. Also think about giving your bridesmaids disposable cameras that they can take goofy, silly photos throughout the day. Then after the honeymoon, get back together and share all the pictures with your girlfriends and talk about the fun times. If you have out-of-town bridesmaids, make to sure to include them via Skype or Google Hangout.

13. Let them sit with their families or significant others are the reception. Head tables can be hard to coordinate and sweetheart tables also allow you a few minutes of alone time to eat with your groom. Bridesmaids with husbands or boyfriends have been away from them all day and then you can concentrate more on your new hubby.

14. Take a few minutes to introduce your wedding party at the rehearsal dinner. Chances are your family doesn’t know everyone and this will help them to get acquainted. Be sure to tell a little story about how you guys met.

15. Finally be sure to thank your bridesmaids individually before your reception exit. It is likely that they have dedicated a lot of time over the last few months to making sure your wedding day is a success. Most likely you will be headed off on your honeymoon and unplugging yourself from social media, email and phones.  Be sure to show them the same love and caring that they showed you.

Congratulations on your big day and let me know if I can do anything to help you make it special. Remember, if you are a cool bride to them, they will return the favor!

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Amber will be back next week with another edition of A Bride’s Story and we will sit down with Natasha Gaskill – owner of A Squad Bakeshop in Savannah.

Don’t forget to share your love on Facebook!

 

 

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SPOTLIGHT – Kimberly Williams – Wedding Planner

| North Carolina, Vendor Spotlight, Wedding Planners

Did you know that North Carolina is home to more than 100 wineries and 400 vineyards, from the mountains to the coast.  Kimberly Williams is the heart and soul of Weddings by the Vine. Recently receiving the designation of PWP (Professional Wedding Planner™) from the Association of Bridal Consultants, she helps to create one-of-a-kind weddings and receptions in beautiful vineyards across North Carolina.

I sat down with Kimberly about how she got started, her background and even a few of her favorite things.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

This is so random, but growing up near Detroit, I really wanted to be a rock star.  Next was a choreographer and then finally, a corporate executive.  I know… so random. But I feel like my wedding planning company is a combination of all three of these positions.

How long have you been in the wedding business?

I’ve been coordinating weddings for ten years now.

What made you decide to go into the wedding business?

Helping the brides and their mothers sort through all of the details and assisting the wedding party who really want to do a good job for their friends.  I attended an outdoor wedding a number of years ago and the wedding party didn’t know the music or when to walk down the aisle.  I felt so bad for them.

Why did you decide to specialize in vineyard weddings? 

I love wine, and the process of creating wine is fascinating.  Also, a lot of vineyards are family owned, and I absolutely love that aspect of the business.

Beautiful Wedding Party in a Rose Garden

What is a typical introductory meeting with a bride? 

First, I like to find out what her needs are and what she is worried about, and then explain to her how I can help.  A lot of times, after I get all of the information, it’s really best for them if I create a custom quote which only includes what they really need.  Then, I follow up with a Wedding Coordination Plan which lays out what we are going to accomplish on a monthly basis and most importantly, how we will deliver her wedding vision.

What are the different processes that you offer?

I offer vineyard venue selection, day of coordination, comprehensive vineyard wedding and design-your-own wedding packages.  The vineyard venue selection service is very different, but I believe one of the most important especially when adhering to a set budget.  It includes a breakdown and comparison of all of the costs associated with four vineyards, like whether they include table, chairs, linens and if they have an on-site caterer and if they offer accommodations, etc.  This makes the selection so much easier and within budget.

Photo by: Mary Beth Clouser Photography

How far in advance do you begin working with a bride?

For my comprehensive vineyard wedding brides, usually 12+ months in advance and for day of coordination and other services, 2 – 6 months in advance.

What’s your coverage map for working with brides?

I work with brides all over North Carolina and destination brides, brides who grew up here but have moved to another state.  I have plans to branch out to  Virginia wineries soon, and someday hopefully Napa and Italy.

Do you have certain vineyards that you work with or do you work with any vineyard that a bride wants? 

I have a number of vineyards that I recommend, and if a bride has a favorite vineyard where she wants to get married, then of course, I will assist where she has her vision.

What is your favorite part of a wedding day?

The vows – always the vows.  It is the most personal part of the wedding and reaffirms what the wedding is really about.

If you could plan any celebrity/famous person’s wedding, who would it be?

All brides are a celebrity on the day of their wedding.

Beautiful Bride on her Wedding Day

Now, I always like to ask my vendors a few questions about themselves.

If you could plan a wedding anywhere or go anywhere on vacation, where would it be? Why? 

Italy, no question.  It’s absolutely beautiful, and I love the culture and the wine.

Your “Favorite Things” – What five things can you not live without?

If I can’t mention the people in my life, then it would be my faith, wine, coffee, the outdoors and the sun.

My Favorite Things

What color trends do you find popular right now?

Of course, it would be the pantone color of the year, Marsala, which I love because it’s basically the color of wine :)

Wedding Trend – Pantone-Marsala

If you could give a bride any advice, what would it be? 

I always tell them, “this is your wedding – don’t let anyone tell you how it is supposed to be because everyone’s style is unique.”

I love that answer, I tell my brides something very similar.  And one last question… 

If you could tell people one thing about your business, what would it be?

Vineyards are the most romantic place to be married, and Weddings by the Vine values the vineyards.

I hope you have enjoyed our discussion with Weddings by the Vine today.  Want to know more about them and how they can help you with your event, be sure to follow her on social media:

Website: http://www.weddingsbythevine.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WeddingsByTheVine
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/WeddingsbyVine
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/WeddingsbyVine
Instagram: http://www.instagram/WeddingsbyVine

Don’t forget to share your love on Facebook!

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A Bride’s Story – Brides & Bridesmaids

| A Bride's Story

Hi guys! In this week’s edition of A Bride’s Story, Amber brings up several points that all brides should think about but most probably don’t until it’s too late…you’ve already picked your bridal party and they’ve said yes.
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Happy Wednesday, my friends!!! Here we are, just under seven months from the Big Day and I struggle just as much for what to write about as I did at the beginning! I have decided to dedicate this week’s blog to being the kind of bride that your ladies want to be around!

Every bride has her moments. Many have spent years or even their lifetime planning their special day. They knew they wanted a June wedding with coral dresses at the age of 6. We are not all that bride though. Some of us didn’t even think much about our wedding until we had a ring on our finger and didn’t even think about colors until we had set a date (me)! Once Dan and I decided on November for the wedding it was easy to pick the colors. Outside of that, most everything fell into my lap. I wasn’t stressing about what I wanted or how it needed to be. The ladies I chose to be with me were a no brainer and I have tried my best to be as fair and easy as I can be.

I have been asked to be a bridesmaid in two weddings in my adult life. Once was when I was in my late teens and was as surly as I could be, I still regret not being a better bridesmaid. The second was many years later and the bride and I wound up having a falling out before the wedding. She and I had been drifting for years and when she asked me to be a part of her wedding I should have known it was a bad decision, but I so desperately wanted to believe that our friendship had turned a new corner. Many tears, a lot of yelling, and a very improperly addressed invite would be the end of that. Those experiences have led me to the here and now. What you should expect as a bridesmaid and what you should do as a bride.

As a bride: Choose your maids carefully. Don’t ask anyone out of obligation. So what if you have known Jane since kindergarten?? If you aren’t close now…don’t ask her! Who cares if you were in Mary’s wedding, that doesn’t mean she has to be in yours! You and Susie made a drunken pact when you were 25 to be each other’s maids of honor? Get over it! You want the women that will be by your side and keep you standing, no matter what comes your way!

As a bridesmaid: Think carefully before you say yes. Can you afford this task? We all know being a bridesmaid isn’t cheap! Are you willing to let the next (however much time until the wedding) be about the bride? If you’re already married-remember how much it hurt when a bridesmaid put your needs on the backburner because she had a fight with her boyfriend? If you’re not yet married-take a moment and think about how that would feel. This is your 6,8,12 months to shine….appreciate that your friend wants to bask in every moment until she becomes Mrs.

As a bride: if you’re expecting your maids to get their hair and makeup done professionally, pay for it. Don’t ask someone to pay extra for something they can do themselves OR ask someone to do something that they don’t feel comfortable with. You have a friend that doesn’t wear makeup? Don’t force her. Love her for who she is. Have a friend who can’t/won’t wear contacts? Don’t even bring it up! Love HER for who SHE is. There are bigger fish to fry than the makeup or glasses of one of your besties!

As a bridesmaid: Do you know that there are things that are sticking points for your bride? DO IT! She is determined that everyone is going to wear Converse and have a peek-a-boo picture of the shoes under the dresses…just do it! (Wrong slogan-I know) Anything that you are not morally or emotionally objected to…DO IT! No matter how crazy it is, it’s her day!

Be a good bride to your maids and you’ll be blessed with wonderful maids. Be firm when necessary, but don’t be a monster!! Be who you are and love them as you always have!

Until next time!

Amber
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We would love to hear your “after the fact stories.”

In tomorrow’s Vendor Spotlight, we will sit down with Kimberly Williams of Weddings by the Vine. Be sure to check out tomorrow’s spotlight if you are planning recently engaged and thinking about a vineyard wedding in North Carolina.

Until next time, take in a baseball game and be sure to share your love on Facebook!
Laurie

 

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Weddings – Goals 2015

| Weddings

It’s April 23rd and as I am in sitting in an Atlanta airport for the third week out of the last four, I thought it was time to look at how I was doing in achieving my Goals for 2015.  If you will remember, I divided my goals into three parts with three things under each goal.

2015 NEW YEARS GOALS FOR LAURIELOUIS.COM

Let’s start with #1 – my website:
Hopefully you have been following my bi-weekly vendor spotlight.  If you have, you have learned more about some great wedding vendors including Childress Vineyards, Winmock at Kinderton, Samie Roberts and Susan Crutchfield.  In the near future, you will see a slider of pictures at the top of the Vendor Spotlight page will continue you feature our great vendors. As we continue to add vendors, you will eventually be able to sort them by their city. With regards to the front, you may have noticed that the background is now rustic wood and the sections are now faded pictures instead of boxes.  Finally, we now have a new weddings section that includes a video and my 2015 wedding designs.
if you are keeping count…#1 – FINISHED!

Now to #2. Over the past few months, with a little help from my friends, we have put together a database of wedding planners, venues, photographers and wedding magazines for each of our target markets.  We also included a few florists and cake designers to use for our vendor spotlights.  After talking to some wonderful friends in the wedding industry, I have also added several target markets.  They now include:  Charlotte and Asheville, NC, Virginia Beach, Richmond, Roanoke and Charlottesville, VA, Charleston, SC, Savannah, GA, Birmingham, AL, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville, TN.  Our database is about halfway completed.  I have started working with Bridal Magazines in Virginia and Charlotte and you can find my ads in the The Knot – The Carolinas and Southern Bride, along with ACoastalBride.com. We have already reached out to the Charlotte wedding vendors.  We delivered 60 cute gift boxes to photographers, planners and venues last Friday with an invitation to introduce ourselves.
IMG_0550

Finally Goal #3.  As the year has progressed, I have decided that I need to concentrate on getting my name out in the wedding industry this year and that I should hold off on the wholesale line for now.  Don’t worry, LaurieLouis.com will still have an etsy shop that has customized coasters and lucite trays (both perfect for wedding, shower and bridesmaid gifts) as well as a limited selection of notebooks and a 2016 desk calendar.

Well, that’s a look at our goals and where we stand.  How are you doing on your goals for 2015?  I would love to hear.

Until next time, take in a baseball game and be sure to share your love on Facebook!
Laurie

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