Blue Ridge Wedding at Restoration Hall | Monica and Todd

The first time I met Monica and Todd was to meet each other and make sure we would be a good fit on the day of their wedding. When I gave them some suggestions on where to meet, they chose Strangeways brewing, and I already knew the were an awesome couple. The meeting went great as we sat and talked like good friends. Monica had won an engagement session from a local bridal show, so I didn’t get to work with them before the wedding but I knew things would be just fine with the time we spent together at the brewery. 

The day of the wedding, the chances of rain were high but I went in with an open mind and my fingers crossed. The guys and the girls were getting ready at different locations in Charlottesville, girls at a beautiful loft apartment and the guys at a rustic horse farm. I was so excited to get the groups outside for some pictures at these picturesque locations, but literally as I was pulling into the girls Air bnb, and it started raining. And it rained the entire time they were getting ready. I wanted to take them out so badly but they all had long dresses on and I didn’t want everyone to get wet before the ceremony. So we did what we could inside and then got on the trolley to head to the wedding. 

Restoration Hall is a fairly new wedding venue outside Charlottesville with stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains located in historic Albemarle County. With the chance of rain, the ceremony would be held under a tent instead of outside in front of the mountains. Thankfully the rain subsided just in time for the ceremony and allowed all the guests to arrive on time and dry. Even under the tent, the foggy blue mountains were the perfect backdrop for this couple to say “I Do”. 

The rain would come and go after the ceremony, but at least we were able to knock out all the family and bridal party photos outside. We did what we could around the building and I asked if they still wanted to go to the bridge Monica had talked about and they said “Lets go!”. We jumped in a few golf carts and took off for the back of the property where a beautiful wooden bridge crossed a pond. It started to drizzle as we arrived, but if its going to rain on your wedding day, you have to do your bridal portraits with an umbrella or two. Before they went back to their guests to get their party started, they still needed to dig up their bourbon they buried 1 month before. It is a southern tradition to bury a bottle of bourbon upside down exactly 1 month prior to the wedding at the ceremony location to supposedly ward off rain on the wedding day. Unfortunately, this tradition didn’t hold true for Monica and Todd, but it was a good excuse to share an intimate moment with your new spouse and take a shot of some delicious bourbon!

Congratulations and happy 1 month anniversary to Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman! Wishing you both the best! 

Thank you to the wonderful vendors!

Venue: Restoration Hall

Flowers: Vogue Flowers

DJ: Rockdahouse Entertainment

Cake: Paradox Pastry

Rings: Zales

Dress: Davids Bridal

Bridesmaid Dresses: Azazie

Mens Suits: Jims Formal Wear Co

Invites: Minted

Planning a Destination Wedding - Budget and Vendors

There is a lot that goes into planning a wedding, and even more when planning a destination wedding. The next two topics that make a huge impact on your plans are budget and vendor selection. Once you have selected your venue, usually there is a coordinator that you work with and they can help with any questions you may have about the entire process.

Budget

First place to start is figure our your budget! And I’ll tell you a secret, you probably won’t stay within that budget because naturally everything costs more than you budget for. We set our budget to $15,000 and with the prices the planner gave me, that seems to be totally in reach! I also made a spread sheet to create the budget and one to keep track of money spent.

The average cost of a wedding in the US is $35,000 and that cost can increase depending on how many guests you have attend. The average cost of a destination wedding can vary between $1000-$10,000 depending on how involved you want to be. Most resorts actually offer a complimentary wedding package which includes the most basic elements, (ceremony with minister, chairs, canopy. Bridal bouquet, gifts for the bride and groom, complimentary room to get ready in, and wedding coordinator.) But to receive the complimentary wedding, they usually have some terms and condition including that you must book 10 roos for 3 night stay or something along those lines. Nothing is ever free! What isn’t included is anything before of after the ceremony, so this package is best for a small wedding that only includes the ceremony.

Packages vary with each resort. We chose the largest package at Villa Del Arco which was still was only $2,849! Here is what is included…

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So where does all the money go? Day of costs, hair and make up, flowers, DJ or band, photographer and video, reception (decorations, food, drinks, dance floor, tables and chairs, linens). Don’t forget to include your travel and hotel stay, plus or minus a honeymoon if they decide to do one while you are there. Other things to consider within your budget is all the costs before the wedding like dress, shoes, jewelry, grooms attire, engagement pictures, rings, dress alterations, save the dates and invitations, welcome bags, showers and favors, bachelorette party, welcome/ rehearsal dinner. There are so many things I didn’t even think of when we came up with a budget, and how would I know? Ive never planned a wedding before. There are a lot of lists out there to help with the planning process and keeping track of your budget, like this one by Happily Hitched.

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Here is the actual spread sheet I created. As you can see, the one side is the proposed cost and the other is the actual cost. I was fortunate enough to have some family help to pay some of the costs of some things so it didn’t all have to come out of our budget. But… as you see, we went over budget. And my philosophy was, this is my wedding, ONLY WEDDING, and this is the way I want it. Maybe you can stick to your budget better then I can, but good luck!

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Budget Tips

  • Use credit card points or miles to pay for airfare

  • Begin to save money when you get engaged

  • Buy used decorations and or DIY whatever you can and bring it with you

Vendors

Vendors are a huge part of your budgeting plan. One thing I loved about the destination planning was that the coordinator gave me a list of 3 vendors for each category that they recommended and have worked with before. It made things so much less stressful when I only have a few options and select one. Here in the states, we know so many people who can recommend who they used and there are SO MANY OPTIONS! It took me a few hours to make a decision instead of a few days or weeks. I am a planner but also don’t make decisions very well, so this is one thing I just didn’t want to dwell on and it made things so much easier in the end. I still got to make my own decision, but didn’t get stuck looking into and consulting with all these different vendors. Sometimes you just have to cross your fingers and hope everyone shows up and does their job well. And of course, you can always do your own research and pick a vendor you think will work best for your wedding and vision.

When bringing your own vendors, you know what you are getting. The most important vendors to me were obvious photography and videography. And I knew form the beginning that I wanted to bring mine with me and not just pick someone there. I know with weddings being to popular in tropical destinations, Im sure there are amazing photographers there, I just didn’t want to chance it with my love for photography. Most venues also include a wedding photographer, but usually that is only for the ceremony and they don’t capture the rest of the day (like I would if you hired me!).

When working with vendors from out of the country, make sure you put everything in writing and make sure they understand exactly what you want. I even drew pictures to make sure they understood exactly what I wanted to avoid any issues due to communication error. I did all my communication via email so there wouldn’t be any confusion over the phone. Everyone I worked with responded very quickly and made sure to answer any questions I might have had.

My Vendors - Cabo San Lucas

Vendors I brought with me

I honestly couldn’t have been happier with all of my vendors. They all were amazing and went above and beyond my expectations.

Next step, I mean, topic is the fun part, planning the wedding and all the details!!



Planning a Destination Wedding - Where to Begin

Happy 2019!! My New Years Resolution is to blog more this year and Im going to start by sharing my destination wedding experience in a blog series. It is no secret that I love to travel, but I also want to travel more to photograph weddings. It has become increasingly more popular for couples to plan a less than traditional wedding, and destination is a great option. Hopefully I can shed some light on the good and the bad of doing a destination wedding. 

Background story

I started dating my husband in 2012 in February. That August, a friend of his was getting married in Cozumel, Mexico and he asked me to be his date (how could I say no to that?!). I had never been to a destination wedding, let alone many weddings at all at this point. Let me just say, everything about this trip was amazing. As we continued dating, we had talked about what we wanted one day. Without much hesitation, we both easily said we wanted a destination wedding. 

Where to start

Fast forward to 2017 when we got engaged. As soon as he popped the question, the first thing that came to mind was WHERE are we going to get married. There are so many beautiful places but there were a few other things to consider. 

  1. Location

  2. Site Visit

  3. Cost

  4. Transportation

  5. Date

  6. Guest List

  7. Save the Dates

Location 

I am a spread sheet kind of girl. So my first instinct was the create a list of locations so I began by googling locations that I wanted to visit. Locations I looked into Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Cabo San Lucas, and Cancun. Since we went to the wedding in Cozumel, I didn’t want to do the same thing as the other couple. I also wanted to go somewhere most people have never been before. I did not really want to get married in Cancun, since I feel like it is the most common place to host a destination wedding but I also knew it would be the cheapest and easiest place for most people to travel to. I really loved the idea of Cabo but knew it was the most expensive destination to get to (since most of my guest list was coming from the east coast and mid west). But after thinking about it long and hard, I decided this was my wedding and Im going to have it in the place I want. 

Cost 

Once I knew where I wanted the wedding to be, I began looking into resorts on the coast of Cabo. I knew I wanted an all inclusive resort to make things easier for all of my guests. I began making a list of all the resorts in and listing their daily rate. I made notes to say whether or not they were all inclusive, adults only, which beach they were on, etc. I narrowed it down to 3-4 resorts and began the process of getting their details for hosting a wedding at their resort. These are the 3 resorts I was considering during my search.

Villa Del Arco

Pueblo Bonito Rose

Grand Fiesta Americana

Site Visit

I highly recommend going to the location and schedule resort tours along with meeting the wedding specialists at the resort. Websites are created the look amazing online but don’t always look the same in person. It could be the beach is small or dirty, limited ceremony or reception areas, the guest rooms are not updated, food isn’t good, etc. I was scheduled to do a walk throughs with 3 resorts on our first trip to Cabo. One place canceled as she did not see it as a good fit with the price point I wanted for our guests. So we went to 2 resorts and the one I was super excited about (from the online presentation), was not the one I fell in love with. After we got all the information about the wedding packages, I came home and created another spread sheet to compare both resorts. It ended up that the one I fell in love with while visiting, was the one with the cheapest wedding package and a reasonable nightly room cost. 


Transportation

Another thing I wanted to look into for my guests was transportation. I began creating my guest list and figured out which airport they would likely be flying out of and what the average cost would be for them to get to Cabo. This would be a huge factor in if people could afford to come to our wedding or not. 

Date

Picking a date was a huge factor as well. Our schedules are a little lighter in the summer
(July-September) and figured that would work best for us. I decided on Labor Day weekend to hopefully allow some guests to come with maybe only taking 1-2 days since it was a holiday weekend. We also decided to have the wedding on a Sunday to give the guests flexibility to come arrive on Saturday and leave Monday without taking any time off work if they really wanted to make it work. 

Guest List

One of the main reasons we were so excited about a destination wedding was that we live in Virginia, and most of our friends and family live around the country. So no matter what, most people would be traveling for the wedding anyways. Planning a destination wedding takes a toll on your guest list. Since it involves travel and expense, we knew it would be a small wedding. Based on my guest list, we were hoping for 30 people to show up. In the end, we ended up with 40 guests traveling to Cabo to watch us get married in paradise. 

Save the Dates

Send them out as soon as you have all this information. Even if you plan your wedding a year in advance, give your guests as much notice as possible to be begin saving their pennies to come. I sent my save the dates out 11 months before the wedding just so people could have as much time to prepare as possible. Plus you can get some really cute save the dates that are travel related. (boarding pass, luggage tag, passport, etc.)

I got mine from Etsy and I love them. There are so many options out there but I really like supporting small businesses like those who sell on Etsy. I found a shop ( I Do With You) that I liked and used her products for save the dates and invitations so they all matched.


Obviously each of these steps took longer than just one day. It is important to be patient and think and talk about all your options. We got engaged in March and I sent the Save the Dates out in October. 

Next topic will be the Planning Process and Budget




Chloe and David - Douthat State Spark

Chloe and David committed their love to each other on a beautiful fall day at Douthat State Park with the mountains and lake reflecting in the background. We started off in the log cabins on the property where the guys and girls were getting ready. Once everyone was dressed and ready, we took Chloe to a small dock on the lake to meet her soon to be hubby for a first look. It was the perfect location as the wedding would also have this lake in the back ground. It is always such a touching moment when the groom turns around to see his wife dressed like a queen.

The ceremony started a little behind but was short and sweet. We were running out of daylight so we decided to push family photos back a little bit to get in some amazing portraits in front of the beautiful waterfalls they have on site. This was one of Chloe’s favorite parts of the park so we had to make sure to get there before dark. Once we wrapped up the portraits, we used the last bit of daylight to photographs the family in front of a stunning mossy rock wall. We got everyone done just in time as the sun set behind the mountain.

Chloe and her friends and family did an amazing job setting up the reception space with all the maroon and gold touches. Her gifts to her guests were warm fleece blankets and she even had a s’mores bar! As the evening wrapped up, everyone was dancing to stay warm and as a tradition, the guys took off their shirts and danced around in their vests. The night ended by sending off the happy couple with sparklers. I couldn’t have asked for a better day and a better group of people to spend the day with.

Ive known Chloe for several years now as we ride horses at the same barn. It was such an honor to me to be able to be such a large part of her big day. Thank you Chloe!

Thank you to these awesome vendors who came together and made Chloe and David’s wedding a dream come true!

Venue: Douthat State Park

Planning: Wedding Lily Events

Florist: Tammy P Thompsons - Westwood Florist

Cake: Robyn The Cake Lady

DJ: A Party’s Favorite Entertainment

Hair and Makeup: Allie Jones Makeup Artistry

Dress: Ava Laurenne Bride

Men’s Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

Bridesmaid Dresses: JJ’s Dresses

Invitations: Penelopes Paper Pantry

Rentals: Anker Mobile Bartending

Catering: Hogback Mnt BBQ



Claire and Lee - DelFosse Vineyards

We couldn't have asked for any better luck at Claire and Lee's wedding located at a beautiful vineyard just outside of Charlottesville on June 23rd. When we arrived, the weather was perfect, but a mountain storm quickly rolled in. With 30 minutes counting down until the ceremony, the rain and clouds lifted and the sun came out. Even though a few of the buses were running behind, it gave everything a chance to dry off some before the processional. The rest of the day went smoothly and everyone enjoyed the good food, wine, company, and dancing. Enjoy their beautiful story!

 

Danielle and Mikey - Now Sapphire Resort Cancun, MX

I'm not sure I can truly express my excitement with this wedding. This was my first destination wedding and boy was it amazing! I truly don't think you can take a bad picture at such a beautiful location. 

I met Danielle and Mikey (once I think) a few years ago through a mutual friend back in Chicago. Last year I was talking to this mutual friend , also my best friend / maid of honor, about my photography and traveling and she mentioned Danielle was still looking for a photographer. I told her quickly, I'd love the opportunity! I mean who wouldn't want to travel and photograph a beautiful wedding all in the same weekend! After talking to Danielle, it was an immediate "lets do this" and here we are. They took a leap of faith and I cannot express how thankful I am for this amazing opportunity! 

Today Danielle and Mikey have been married for one month! I can't believe its been a month already! They have been friends/dated for he past 10 years so one month isn't much to celebrate but I know with everything they have been through, they will make it many many more years together. So happy for you both and congratulations again!!!!

 

 

 

Sarah & Tommy - Bold Rock Cidery

Sarah and Tommy tied the knot in February on a cold and rainy day in the mountains of Virginia. Even with the rain, their fun and energetic personalities continued to shine throughout the day. Both Sarah and Tommy are in the military and are on the same career path, but only a few months behind one another. Because of that, they have been living apart for some time and will continue to travel the miles to see each other as Sarah moved to Tennessee not long after the wedding. Distance shouldn't be a problem though, as I could really see the true love and chemistry between them as the day went on. They say "distance makes the heart grow fonder" and I believe that their love grows a little more each day.  

Rachel & Thomas - Alvis Farm at Slate Creek

Rachel and Thomas said "I so" on a chilly December afternoon. Everyone was a good sport with the outdoor ceremony and the day couldn't have gone smoother. Rachels mom had a wonderful speech where she read a letter the Rachel wrote to her now maid of honor when she was made grade school. Rachel talked about marring a dairy farmer, living on his farm with lots of cows, and their first child was named Thomas. Its so crazy how the world is so small and how things always work out in the end. 

Red August Farm - Molly and Rich

Molly and Rich got engaged this summer and decided to plan a fall wedding at a new venue called Red August Farm in Waynesboro, VA. November 4th was a cold and rainy day, but that didn't stop Molly and Rich from celebrating with their friends and family. They even were willing to go out into the rain for their portraits. The night ended early but not before a sparkler exit and a few fun photos of the newlyweds with Molly's favorite color, blue. 

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. May!!