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Do Out-Of-Town Guests Come To My Rehearsal Dinner? Why It’s Important To Fully Understand What A Day-Of Planner Does Put Us In Summer And We Are….Happy Planners!

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Do Out-Of-Town Guests Come To My Rehearsal Dinner?

Photography by Echard Wheeler Photography, Planning by Emily Weddings

Do all of my out-of-town guests come to my rehearsal dinner? Well, this is a question we frequently answer so we thought we would share with all of our readers what we share with our couples. The number of out-of-town guests can vary at each wedding so our response is usually tailored to each couple, but we will give you our general rule of thumb to help navigate this area of planning.

First, let’s talk about the rehearsal dinner and why couples have them. Rehearsal dinners (by the way, they can be brunches or even breakfasts. There is no hard-and-fast rule that says it has to be dinner, but for all intents and purposes, let’s call it a rehearsal dinner for this post) are usually held after the wedding rehearsal and before the wedding day. It is a great way for the families of the couple to get to spend some time together in a relaxed atmosphere before the big festivities begin. It’s a way to say thank you to those who are taking part in your wedding ceremony. The rehearsal dinner is a time where you have those closest to you together in one place to express your gratitude for their influence in your life, and for their support on this next journey in your life as a married couple.  Emily Post explains the details well here on her site.

Typically, those invited to the rehearsal dinner are your immediate family members, the folks that are participating in the wedding ceremony, spouses or dates of those participating in your wedding ceremony, and the officiant and officiant’s spouse. So this is where it can get tricky…

The average cost for a rehearsal dinner is $30-$70 per person. That can get pricey if you are inviting many out-of-town guests. All of your out-of-town friends and family do not need to be invited to the rehearsal dinner. We agree that you should take time to greet them and show your gratitude to them for making the long distance trip, but it does not need to be the rehearsal dinner. So how do you do that, you ask?? Here are a few thoughts…

2 Options to Greet Out-Of-Town Guests

We encourage our couples to list out local activities, attractions, restaurants etc. on their wedding website as well as on the note added in the welcome bag left at the hotel desk for your arriving guests. This way guests can find places to eat that are special to the area where the wedding is taking place.

Ok, Option 1-  Reserve a small room (like a boardroom or small meeting room) at the hotel where most guests are staying for a small welcome gathering after the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner (you could choose to have this at a house, but let’s face it, not all of our friends and family are respectful of time and may make it hard for you to leave and get your beauty rest. A hotel makes this departure easier because you have no choice but to leave the room after a certain block of time). The bride and groom can add this welcome gathering information to their wedding website as well as in a little note that is in the welcome bag for guests at the hotel. The bride and groom can specifically designate one hour to meet their out-of-town family and friends for a hug and a drink before they call it a night. This way those guests feel like they have had some quality time with you before your big day.

Option 2- If you aren’t leaving for a honeymoon right away, have a breakfast or brunch the morning after the wedding at the hotel where most of your out-of-town guests are staying. You can simply have muffins and coffee, but the guests will just love the extra quality time they have with you.


Now if you just have one or two couples coming in from out of town, by all means, invite them to the rehearsal dinner. If your extended family would be extremely hurt (and never speak to you again) by not being invited, then make sure you have clear cut guidelines on who gets invited e.g., out-of-town family, but not out-of-town friends etc. This will keep it from getting too messy.

It’s hard trying to include everyone and you never want hurt feelings. By having a special time to greet your out-of-town guests, you help them know how appreciative you are that they took the time to be there for your special day while at the same time saving the rehearsal dinner for the intimate time it is meant to be with those you have specifically chosen to take part on your wedding day.


Lesner Inn Wedding

Photography by Echard Wheeler Photography, Planning by Emily Weddings



The Pros And Cons Of Pinterest For Your Wedding

We LOVE Pinterest. We can start pinning and before we know it, hours have passed by. From yummy food and cocktails, gorgeous home design ideas, to DIY projects, what’s not to love?

Pinterest also helps out in the wedding planning world. When you allow us to see your wedding boards, we have constant access to what is inspiring you. It helps us move in the right direction for your wedding day. Some brides may not fully understand what they like or be able to put  into words want they want. When your wedding professional’s eye views the boards you have pinned for your wedding, we can understand what it is you have fallen in love with (we can see the common design element in each picture). This gives us great insight into our your dream wedding, as well a great direction to head in the planning process. With all of that said, we have to also warn y’all of the cons that can come along with pinning on Pinterest for wedding inspiration.

First, let us clearly state the Pros of Pinterest in Wedding Planning from a planner’s perspective (because there are many):

  1. Gives us insight into what a you love and what inspires you.
  2. Helps us with out-of-town brides because most of the planning is done at long distance.
  3. Helps inspire a vision (especially if you have not been one to always dream of your day, and if you don’t have any ideas coming into the planning process).
  4. Helps you locate wonderful sites that make or sell fun detailed items that you would like to incorporate into your wedding day.
  5. Inspires you with creative ideas and DIY things for your event.
  6. We really could go on because we adore Pinterest and find that it has tons of Pros!

Ok, So let’s move on to the Cons of Pinterest in Wedding Planning from a planner’s perspective:

  1. You can start to overpin ending up with so many ideas all pointing in a different design direction that you can become overwhelmed with inspiration.
  2. You can become so inspired by such luxury weddings that you become depressed about your own wedding because you feel it may not measure up to the pictures you have pinned.
  3. You can find something you completely love and try to copy it, and it ends up looking like an elementary school project (you know what we are talking about…it has happened at least once to all of us).
  4. You can start moving in a design direction for many months, all of a sudden get inspired by a new favorite picture, and feel you have to completely start over in order to get the wedding day you REALLY want now (this has happened to one of our couples). It sure is a lot of work to start over!
  5. Here is the big one, y’all…ready for it?? Sticker shock from your favorite Pinterest picture inspiration!

So let’s talk about number 5 on the Cons of Pinterest…

We desire that you know about this so that you can prevent the problems that come along with your favorite all time inspiration picture and the my-wedding-has-to-be-this-exact-picture feeling. We have all seen that one wedding picture on Pinterest where you think “OH MY GOODNESS….THAT’S IT!!” So you head to the florist (you can actually put any wedding vendor in this spot and the story will come out the same) and you show them your inspiration and say please draw up a proposal around this picture. You don’t really give the vendor a budget because you think you can wiggle around that bottom line once you get the proposal (cut here, pull from there in other wedding categories to make it all work) because you just have to have this particular look at your wedding. You leave the floral meeting and start dreaming about how it’s going to look…you can barely sleep at night out of sheer excitement and wish your wedding day would be tomorrow so that you could see it all! (That’s excitement, y’all) A few days later the florist gets back to you with a proposal and has done everything you asked. Drumroll, please….HOLY MOLASSES that one centerpiece inspiration from the picture is $1000 and you were thinking that would be the cost of the flowers for your entire wedding! You are left depressed. UGH! We hurt for you…that is an awful feeling, and it can be prevented.

Below you will find a few ways to protect yourself from the cons of Pinterest pinning for your wedding day. These tips also help the wedding professional better serve you. It will save the vendor’s time and energy preparing a proposal that will never work, as well as save disappointing you on the vision you have for your wedding day. All wedding professionals want to see a smile on your face. They never, ever want to see you disappointed because you can’t get what you want…it really does break our heart…so we are going to say it…ready?…help us, help you…yep, we said it!

Here is how:

  1. Go into planning your wedding knowing a firm budget. It will also help knowing that the average wedding in Virginia Beach is about $30,000.
  2. Here is a great website with a wedding calculator to help guide your budget. This site helps with any location by using the zip code for your wedding destination.
  3. We recommend hiring an wedding planner (of course we would!) because they can send you to the most reputable, creative wedding professionals that will work hard for you. This way you don’t have to fear if all of your money is well spent by that particular vendor.
  4. Be open with your wedding professional on the budget you would like to stay in. This gives them a jumping off point for your vision and cost. They can be open with you right away if it will even come close to your inspiration picture because of your where you would like to stay monetarily.
  5. Be flexible to other options when showing your wedding professional your wedding inspiration Pinterest picture. Hold loosely to the pictures you find. Be open to trying different ideas they may offer. They really do want to help.

Pinterest is AWESOME! Use it wisely in planning for your wedding. Let it guide, but not define. Let it inspire you, not lock you in. Let it be a creative outlet, not a rule book. Happy planning and happy pinning.

Put Us In Summer And We Are….Happy Planners!

With daylight savings just around the corner (it’s this Sunday, y’all!) , we are pulling out the flip flops and sunscreen….too soon? Well, ok, but it still has us dreaming about the upcoming months of wedding planning, warmer weather, and longer summer days. Sigh.

Sunset pictures are some of our favs. With the longer days, it’s easier to have a sunset ceremony! SO PRETTY! If you get married later on in the summer (because the days keep getting longer) then you can have your ceremony in the late afternoon, and the photographer can take you and your new spouse out right as the sun is setting for romantic pictures. Both options are gorgeous.

EWT outdoor ceremony

Photography be Eleise Theuer Photography. Officiating by Susan Turner. Planning by Emily Weddings, Inc

With the longer summer days comes hotter weather. Always remember to keep your guests in mind when planning and outdoor ceremony or reception. A drink station at your ceremony site is always nice. Your guests can get a cool refreshment and break from the heat before the processional starts. Programs in the shape of fans can serve double duty for your big day and can look super cute. A basket of parasols are a creative option for shade if your ceremony location is in direct sunlight. You can even provide sunscreen in cute soap dispensers for guests.

Bugs and mosquitoes love the warmer weather just as much as we do, but, just like crazy Uncle Arnie, they are not invited to your wedding. To make sure they stay away, we recommend spraying the lawn before your big day. Some companies offer both an all-natural solution and a synthetic solution. The synthetic spray can last a few weeks while the all-natural spray has to be done several times a month. We love the idea of the all-natural solution, but make sure it is done just days before your event so you can get the full effect of warding those pests off.

Bugs in your food? ICK! No, thank you! Some great ways of getting around this is to definitely spray the lawn (but we already talked about that). Another option is adding herbs to your centerpieces for the food tables and guest tables. Basil, mint, lavender, rosemary, lemon balm, bay leaf, clove, tansy, and wormword are a few great herbs that help the flies and mosquitoes stay away. A must!

Make sure you chat with all of your wedding vendors and get their expert opinions on their services and the wonderful, summer heat. The baker will most likely recommend fondant (it can be SO good if you find an awesome baker!), The florist will have great flower recommendations so your flowers don’t wilt too quickly, the photographer will have great advice for sunlight and timing. With proper planning and experienced wedding vendors, your outdoor wedding can be simply outstanding!

There is SO much to love about summer: longer days, extra warmth, stunning sunsets! Make sure you can enjoy every moment of your outdoor ceremony and/or reception by following some of these simple steps. Happing planning!


Photography by Zoe Grant. Cake by Jamie’s Bakeshop. Planning by Emily Weddings, Inc

EWT first look pic Macy wedding

Photo by Echard Wheeler Photography. Planning by Emily Weddings, Inc



The Difference Between a Day-Of Coordinator and the Venue Coordinator

Ceremony at Lesner Inn. Flowers by Palette of Petals. Lighting by Blue Steel Lighting Design. Echard Wheeler Photography took the professional photos for this day. check out his blog! Coordinating by Emily Weddings, Inc.

We would love to clear up any confusion regarding the roles of a venue coordinator and a day-of wedding coordinator so that you are fully informed for one of the biggest days of your life. We want to start off by saying that we LOVE working with venue coordinators. They are very much a part of your wedding vendor team, and they want to see your wedding day executed just as flawlessly as you do. With that said, the venue coordinator’s role in your wedding and a day-of coordinator’s role in your wedding are quite different.

A venue coordinator is there on your wedding day on the venue’s behalf. They want to make sure that the venue provides the venue’s contracted services – signed, sealed and delivered. They work to ensure that the food is presented correctly, that their venue is in perfect condition (no toilet paper to cling to shoes, not a dirty dish to be had), and that their staff is ready to go for your big day. All of their roles are extremely important and make a huge impact on your wedding day!

Day-of wedding coordinators are different and have more diverse roles. They take time to meet with you prior to the wedding day, sometimes as early as 4 weeks prior. They collect copies of all the contracts you have signed with your vendors to ensure that you receive all of the contracted services and items on your wedding day. They start communication with each vendor to coordinate timing for the day. For example: If you are having fresh flowers placed on your wedding cake, it is important for the baker and the florist to arrive around the same time, but definitely not before the linens have been placed. If this happens, both vendors will be standing around with nothing to do. A problem, as typically both the florist and the baker probably have several events that day and will need to be efficient with their time (running late when you have multiple cakes in a van is a no can do).  Heaven forbid that a wedding professional would have to call you and stress you out with details that should not cross your mind once on that day. It is the responsibility of your day-of coordinator to field those vendor phone calls, execute a flawless plan to remedy any mishaps, and communicate with all of the other wedding vendors that those mishaps may affect. These are important logistical details that a venue coordinator typically does not handle – passing the responsibility onto yourself or a family member. It is the role of your day-of wedding coordinator to create a detailed timeline (ours have even exceeded ten pages) that starts early in the morning of your wedding day and finishes up with all of the wedding items you purchased and your gifts to be packed in the designated vehicles. A skilled and professional day-of coordinator has the ability to be extremely type A in planning your wedding timeline, and then embodies an extremely flexible, problem solving, adrenaline thriving, joyful personality as they keep things running smoothly. Timing is key, and ours is down to the second precise.

Venue coordinators and their roles are so very important. We have seen a venue coordinator focused on a computer screen monitoring the impending weather moving over the area. She was able to stay informed so that she could wait to the last possible second before having to close the sides of the reception tent. She wanted the couple to enjoy every minute of the open tent on the water before the sides had to be closed. You want a venue coordinator for that. We have seen a venue coordinator move quickly as extra guests showed up at the wedding at the last minute. She was in the back communicating with the chef for extra meals, adding place settings, and extra chairs. That kept her very busy. You want a venue coordinator for that. We have seen a venue coordinator rush to the fire alarm as the venue’s kitchen caught on fire. He worked with the fire chief to get the venue reopened quickly for the couple’s reception. You want a venue coordinator for that. 

A day-of coordinator’s complete focus is YOU.  Our roles are different. We have sewn a bridal gown back together after a family member stepped on it and ripped it. You want a day-of coordinator for that. We have removed red wine spilled down the back on a bride’s gown in just minutes before her announcement into the reception. You want a day-of coordinator for that. We have fixed problems like the wrong rental items being dropped off, a lost transportation company or even a lost guest, the marriage officiant not showing up on time because he stayed too late at his prior event, change of venue or day-of plans because a hurricane decided to be a guest at the wedding, a missing bouquet, wedding party attire missing, a wedding vendor in a car accident with a quick call to replace that vendor before the reception even started. You want a day-of coordinator for that. Our day-of coordinating team has driven to stores to purchase extra items before the ceremony, steam a pile of dresses, wipe chairs down after a rainstorm from the night before (we have been known to bring a leaf blower and clean up your ceremony after a stormy night), we make sure important family members haven’t stepped outside or excused themselves to the bathroom before an important event like cake cutting. You want a day-of coordinator for that. Our day-of coordinating team communicates with the photographer and emcee at the same time to make sure a lens doesn’t need to be changed before the first dance,  we help pack away all of your things at the end of the night so that your family and friends aren’t doing it. (We can also clean up much quicker because of our years of experience and number of staff. This allows your family to leave much earlier than they would otherwise be able to after the wedding). You want a day-of coordinator for that.  To expect your venue coordinator to carry out the roles that a day-of coordinator performs, would not be realistic given all the tasks they need to tend to on the venue’s behalf…you want a day-of coordinator for YOU. (Better yet, we recommend you involve them as a wedding planner early on in the planning process, but for now, this blog is about day-of coordinators vs venue coordinators so we will stick with that.)

You see, both the venue coordinator and the day-of coordinator are necessary and, more often than not, an extension of one huge team working together for YOUR big day. Both roles are crucial. We would even be bold enough to say that if you asked any venue coordinator in Hampton Roads if a day-of coordinator is necessary, we’re certain that they would say YES! We truly believe that Emily Weddings would be an asset to the day you have always dreamed of, and have confidence that a venue coordinator would agree. So if you want a leaf blowing, dress sewing, spill cleaning, advocate for YOU on your wedding day, consider a day-of coordinator to make sure it’s as flawless as you always pictured.

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