How and when did you meet?
Despite having the same mutual friends for about 10 years before meeting, we finally met a few years ago in Richmond, VA. My friend from high school, Chris, was back in town from the Northeast for his annual college soccer/fraternity reunion weekend. He invited me to meet him and his friends, Greg included, on a Friday night. I decided seeing a good friend from out-of-town warranted a short study break even though I had an exam (medical school) on Monday. Little did I realize how important that study break would eventually be! (We learned shortly after dating that we missed meeting each other by one or two days almost every year for 10 years…) Greg and I hit it off instantly and kept in touch for many months as friends. Greg lived two hours away in North Carolina but visited Richmond often for work and family. We caught up on one of those visits, and the rest is history…
How and when did he propose? (Don’t worry, we cried too)
Greg had the opportunity to take a head soccer coach position at a university in Pennsylvania. We were then five hours apart but visited each other as often as we could. Sometimes meeting in Maryland for a weekend or day trip was the best option due to our crazy schedules. One Friday in late February 2016, we were two weeks into a four week stretch apart. Greg had work obligations the next morning but knew I had the weekend free. He suggested we meet in Annapolis for part of the weekend. He only told me where to meet and what to pack. I was not phased by the lack of detail because he loves to plan surprises. I was just excited to explore Annapolis together and spend [what I thought was] an unanticipated weekend together. I had only been there once before, but Greg was born there and spent many summers coaching at Naval Academy soccer camps.
We met at the Maryland State House and dropped our things at one of the historic inns. After exploring downtown Annapolis in the afternoon, we headed over to the Naval Academy. We sat on a bench, looking out on the water and city. Greg shared stories about different parts of town, either from family life or summer coaching visits. I was pretty antsy from sitting in the car and suggested we walk more. He asked me to stand with him for a moment as he pulled me to the center of a huge compass rose on the ground. [The compass rose had turned into a theme for us throughout our relationship for a variety of reasons.] He stood right next to me and said he had to show me a cool tradition before we walked away. He asked me to turn and look west. I looked back across the water as the sun was about to set over the city. He then told me to face north. And last, he said to face east and then watch my shadow. At this point, I was rolling my eyes and laughing, wondering what this strange “tradition” was. That’s when I saw my shadow still standing and his shadow getting down on one knee…
Why did you pick Lesner Inn for your wedding?
We were excited to showcase the local side of Virginia Beach during our wedding. Trina’s family moved close to Chick’s Beach before she started high school. When we come to town, we are usually on/near Shore Drive at the beach or favorite local spots. We stepped into Lesner Inn and instantly fell in love with the beautiful views and the building’s setup. The Sunset Deck provided an outdoor feel with security of a covered deck in case of rainy summer weather. The Lesner Hall was the perfect size and layout for our reception. We also liked the inclusion of tables, linens, catering, beverages, etc. into a package. We were also fortunate that Lesner started offering day-of coordination services at a really reasonable price!
What vendors did you use and why did you pick them?
Chelsea Anderson Photography– Chelsea’s images are crisp and very true to life. We could tell how well she would capture the colorful nature of an Indian ceremony. Chelsea is also more than a wedding photographer. She truly believes in marriage and uses her photography to celebrate the concept of marriage beyond the one day of a wedding. Her authenticity is unique!
Empty Pocket– Band. We found Empty Pocket through Sam Hill entertainment and through the recommendation of a previous Virginia Beach bride. The band’s song list was a full spectrum, much like our music taste, and the singer’s voice is unreal.
Norfolk Wholesale Floral– Trina’s family had a great experience with them for her sister’s wedding. We actually ended up working with the same florist, Sandie. At our initial meeting, she asked if Trina could show her any photos from Pinterest we had saved. Trina laughed as she said, “I don’t have Pinterest,” and asked about seasonal flowers in the colors we were choosing. We pretty much told Sandie the colors, some of our favorite flowers, and the general look of the arrangements… she took care of the rest!
Beauty by Sharra– Hair and Makeup. Sharra’s portfolio was amazing and versatile. She included travel fees, which made it feasible for my bridesmaids and me to get ready in the comfort of my parents’ house. She exclusively did my hair and make up. She and another artist split my mother’s and bridesmaids’ hair and makeup. Sharra had such a calming presence throughout the day. She also was very willing to make any adjustments, if needed, so that we all loved our hair and makeup.
Custom Cake Shoppe– Fantastic customer service and great cake!
Brahmani Indian Asian Market (Norfolk)- This is Trina’s family’s local go-to for Indian grocery needs. They were able to order gulab jamun and rasmalai in bulk to be served at the reception.
Coop Design Co (Etsy)- Our guest “book” sign was custom-made by Brianna from an original compass rose design in her shop. The turn around was quick, and we love the sign on our wall!
Edison, NJ Indian shops– A large selection of Indian apparel and other goods. Greg’s ceremony outfit was made by Maharani Fashions. Trina’s wedding sari was a banarasi silk sari, which is customary of Bengali brides, from Miss India.
Studio I Do Bridals– Ashley, the owner, is a high school classmate of mine. I loved seeing the growth of this local store as well as the inventory she posted through the store’s social media. After trying quite a few dresses that didn’t seem quite the right fit, Ashley found the gown I ultimately chose, a Maggie Sottero gown. The gown was gorgeous and actually comfortable. The style also somewhat blended Indian and American culture, just in the way we wanted our wedding. (Also, I actually bought my prom dress from this store when it was solely All The Rage… and Ashley was there then, too!)
We loved getting to learn more about your culture and all of the traditions. Can you explain what all of them were for anyone who may not have attended an Indian wedding?
This is a very brief synopsis/explanation but hopefully helpful for those less familiar!
The Vedas (ancient scripture) describe the rituals of Vivaha (Hindu wedding). Some specific traditions vary from region to region, and our wedding was of classic Bengali (of the state West Bengal) tradition. We infused Christian elements throughout to celebrate Greg’s heritage as well.
The wedding begins with the bride’s mother and friends welcoming the groom with arati (a worship ritual). He then stands on a piri (platform) to wait for the bride. She is carried on her own piri by brothers (in our case, Trina’s cousins and close friend). She holds betel leaves in front of her eyes as the group carries her around the groom seven times. After the seventh time, she removes the leaves from her face to share the first shubhodrishti (first auspicious look). The bride and groom then exchange garlands three times. This all occurs under a chadna (canopy).
The bride’s father then accompanies the bride, groom, and priest on the mandap (marriage stage). The bride’s father joins the bride’s and groom’s hands above a holy pitcher before the priest ties a knot between their garments. The couple then lights a holy fire before making offerings and circling the fire three times. Next, they take saptapadi (seven steps), where the bride steps on each bowl individually with the groom’s assistance. Each step represents a promise: to unify spiritual thoughts, to seek mutual happiness, to be faithful, to be righteous to one another, to be kind to all creation, to act towards good name and fame, and to seek friendship, affection, and fidelity.
The couple then exchange vows in Sanskrit that mean “Let my heart be yours and yours be mine. Be a full partner in my enterprises; merge your thoughts with mine. May the Almighty make us one.” They pray to the fixed North Star as a symbol of their now permanent tie. The priest presents a seed-bearing fruit as a symbol that will later be shared by the couple. The groom then applies sindur (vermillion powder) to the bride’s forehead/part to signify her as his bride. They then exchange rings before making the final offering and extinguishing the fire. The priest then sprinkles them with holy water before announcing them as officially husband and wife.
How did you pick your first dance song and why did you pick it?
Civil Wars– Sacred Heart. One day early in our relationship, we both happened to listen to songs in French. Neither of us speak or have studied French, so this was very random. We shared them with each other, and this song ended up sticking as our song. The chorus has a line “Seulement Toi,” meaning “only you.”
What were you most excited about for your wedding day?
Hard to pick just one! We were excited to start our marriage with stunning views as the backdrop and to share the evening with our closest friends and family. We were also excited to have a ceremony and reception that paid homage to both families’ cultures.
Were there any personal touches that you put on your wedding day that were really special to you?
Ceremony items: We used Trina’s mom’s wedding sari as the canopy in the ceremony. The piris were built by Trina’s father and designed/painted by Trina for her sister’s wedding. They hope to pass them down as the generations go by. Trina also designed the compass rose [by hand] that was used on our programs and wedding table numbers.
Ceremony structure: We infused some Christian/American elements into our Hindu ceremony– having a traditional bridal party with a procession, exchanging Christian vows, and including a reading of one of our favorite poems. We also included music that represented that fusion: traditional Indian wedding music, The Beatles, Sara Bareilles, and Anoushka Shankar with Norah Jones.
Spice jar favors: We loved the idea of a practical/useful favor. We ordered bulk Indian spices, small spice jars, and labels/tags to put these together. We were serving the delicious choices from Lesner Inn’s menu for our reception but wanted to [literally] add some Indian flavor for guests. Each jar had a label with the ingredients and a tag with a recipe.
What was the biggest mistake you made during the planning process? (Not that you made any mistakes!)
We were really lucky to have Alexis and Cayleen as our [ABC] day-of coordinators. Not having them would have been our biggest mistake!! We handed everything over 2 weeks prior. Their detail-oriented work ensured that all went smoothly, especially when they coordinated some unanticipated changes in the schedule during the night.
What advice do you have for other couples planning their wedding?
Have fun with it! Remember what the day truly means– you are surrounded by family and friends who are celebrating the start of your marriage. Think of each decision, small or big, about representing that notion. And definitely have at least day-of coordination so that you can just enjoy your night without any tasks in mind!
Almost three months later, and we still cannot get enough of Trina & Greg’s story! What a beautiful couple that we were lucky enough to have at Lesner Inn for their wedding! These doctors are a power couple to look out for, and we can’t wait to see what amazing things they accomplish together!
Photos by Chelsea Anderson Photography!
#1: Is my date available?
Unless you are flexible with your date, make sure to ask your venue if they are available before you begin your tour. We hate seeing a couple fall in love with Lesner Inn only to find out that we are already booked on their date. To avoid this, have a few date options in mind before you begin your tour. While we’re on the subject of your date, don’t ever send out a save the date before you book your wedding venue! This puts you at risk for not having your vendor dream team, and of course not being able to have your wedding at your dream venue!
#2: What is the maximum capacity of the space?
We love that we offer two different spaces to accommodate both small and large scale events and it is important for couples to know maximum capacities for both. If you are looking for a smaller space, our Waterside Deck is a great option! With space for a 110 person seated event (plated or buffet), it can also be used for groups as small as 25. For larger events, our Lesner Hall can accommodate up to 200 guests for a plated meal with space for a dance floor too!
#3: What happens if it rains?
This is a great question and so important to ask in a coastal area! Our Waterside Deck is a fully enclosed space so your event can still go on even in the midst of hurricane season. Lesner Hall is an indoor space and our ceremonies are typically on the Sunset Deck which is a covered, open deck. However, unless you have high winds, your outdoor ceremony can still happen! If you have your heart set on tying the knot outside, this is perfect for you because your guests will be kept safe and dry but still have an awesome view.
Above: Echard Wheeler Photography
#4: What is included in my rental fee?
Always, always, always ask this! Not all venues offer tables, chairs, linens and set up and breakdown like Lesner Inn does. This can be a huge cost to factor into your budget. All of our event packages offer a variety of tables, chiavari chairs, linens, set up and breakdown of all of these items, flatware, glassware, chinaware and all catering supplies. Some of our packages even offer your table decor!
#5: Where do my guests park?
All Lesner Inn events come with a complimentary parking attendant to help direct guests as they arrive on the property and all of our staff parks offsite. We are under the same ownership as Bubba’s, Back Deck, The Shellfish Company and the Lynnhaven Fishing Company so we have plenty of overflow parking. On a Saturday night during peak season, we have 300 guests in the building and never have issues with parking. Why not a valet? We find that valets tends to slow down service when all of the guests are arriving at the same time. You wouldn’t want someone to be late to the wedding because they were waiting in line for their car to be valeted.
#6: Are there any hidden fees that I should watch out for?
Nope! All of Lesner Inn’s costs are clearly spelled out in all of our pricing and menus. We even let you know what the state tax is so you have all of the information you need. We love to create estimates so don’t hesitate to ask your event manager for one. This will show you a breakdown of all costs so you can see everything that you are paying for.
#7: Do you have a preferred vendors list that I have to stick to?
Nope! We think you should be able to build your dream team of vendors and we love to meet new photographers, DJs, florists, coordinators and bakers. There is no additional fee for bringing an outside vendor in so if your dad wants to be the DJ and your sister wants to be the photographer, we think that’s great! But if you aren’t familiar with any wedding vendors, we have a suggestion list to help you start your search for reliable vendors. And the vendors on our list offer discounts to couples that book their wedding at Lesner Inn!
#8: Where do I get ready?
Lesner Hall comes with a beautiful bridal suite that lets in lots of natural light. It makes for great pre wedding photos that you can find on our Facebook and Instagram. Go give us a follow and check it out for yourself!
Right: Kirstyn Marie Photography
#9: Do you offer a military discount?
Yes! We offer all military weddings a discount of 50% off of our Silver package as a thank you for your service.
#10: I’m in! How do I book?
Lesner Inn requires a non-refundable deposit of 25% of the estimated cost of your event. Your next payment will be due 90 days before your event and will be 50% of the remaining balance. You will also sit down with your event manager at this time to discuss the details of your event like menu, linens, and floor plan. Two weeks prior to your event, we require all final numbers as well as final payment. Three easy payments and you’ve paid off your wedding!
We know we focus a lot on the ladies involved in Lesner Inn weddings, but it’s time to let the men shine! The Black Tux has great tuxedos for all of the men involved in your wedding day. If you’re looking for a tux that goes with your summer wedding theme, Black Tux has great rentals to let your men keep up with the latest trends in weddings too!
We’re going back to basics this year with natural tones, and you can make the men involved in your wedding rock this trend! The perfect pair for natural tones, is of course pops of green! Have them keep it simple with a classy tan suit from Black Tux, and bring this trend to life with a green tie & boutonniere like Jonathan did for him & Andrea’s jungle theme wedding!
Winston Veranga Photography
Another fun trend for men is adding prints to their ensemble! We love the green striped bowtie and polka dotted pocket square! How awesome would a floral print accent look with this natural greenery look though?
Tracey Sanders Photography
Another one of our FAVORITE classics is blue & blush. Such a perfect pair of colors can be displayed in any way you want, especially when it comes to the suits rented from the Black Tux!
One of our favorite new trends in men’s wedding fashion is sporting a colorful suit! Check out this rose colored suit for the bold groom or wedding guest!
They say that real mean wear pink, but of course we cannot forget how classic a man looks in a blue suit!
David Champagne Photography
There are so many other classic suit styles for the important men on your wedding day, but when they’re deciding on what to wear don’t forget to think about the latest summer trends!
First things first, you MUST choose your wedding venue. This is what determines which vendors are available, and in some cases even the cost of their services. Lesner Inn is the perfect wedding destination that offers a casual elegance, with little need for lavish décor. However, we have a wide selection of centerpieces and lighting to choose from to help you knock another thing off of your wedding planning checklist. Check out the rental items that we offer to help make your wedding shine!
Additionally, we provide all linens, tables, chairs, china, glassware and flatware so you don’t have to go through a rental company. We also provide all food and beverage! Lesner Inn is practically a one stop shop for the last minute wedding in Virginia Beach!
Right: Echard Wheeler Photography
As far as outside vendors go, we definitely recommend having a DJ! ASTRO DJ offers a discount to Lesner Inn couples and they are always our go to guys & gals! If they have a DJ available, they are great to work with and can help you plan much more than just your playlist! They will help you plan everything from your first dances, to your bouquet & garter tosses!
Having a photographer is also key to any wedding! You can’t rely on your guests to take the perfect candid with their iPhones. Make sure to do your research before booking a photographer, and find someone who you vibe with that takes the style of photos that you like. We have a preferred vendors list with great recommendations that we are happy to provide!
Every bride and/or groom need their floral accents! There are TONS of amazing florists in the area to make your bridal bouquet and boutonnieres. But, if you’re looking for something a little more bang for your buck, grocery stores like Farm Fresh & Harris Teeter have a floral department that can do them for you! Regardless of who you choose though, you will need to contact them at least a month in advance so they can order the right flowers!
Left: Vinluan Photography
Lastly, you’ll need something sweet for the cherry on top of your wedding! Whether it’s cake, cupcakes, or cookies your guests will be thanking you for something sugary to end the night!
Overall, it is important to keep an open mind when planning a last minute wedding. If you have a dream date/venue/vendors then planning a wedding within a matter of months is not for you. We hope you consider Lesner Inn for your last minute wedding! Our sales managers would love to meet with you!
Starting with the age old intro…how did you two meet?
Mike and I actually met at the OneLife gym on VB Boulevard when it opened up, the minute I saw him I swear I knew he would be my husband (and I proceeded to tell all my girlfriends that the cute guy in the black nikes would be mine!) Once he finally got up the courage to ask me out, I found out that he had been calling me his gym wife to his guy friends (before meeting me).. so it was definitely love at first sight!! I love our story and even now at 7 months pregnant with our little guy, we still work out together all the time!
This is the most fun part to hear, how did he propose?
We love to ride bikes together at the oceanfront so one (hot) night in July he took me for a bike ride to the north end… and I could see the ring box in his pocket the whole time! I was silently freaking out and then he finally said we should pull over for a minute and I knew it was coming! Then he got down on one knee and I pretended of course to be so surprised, it was very sweet!
Did you always have a clear picture of what you wanted your wedding to look like or did you find your vision along the way?
I went back and forth a lot on what my wedding would look like, I always thought I would do something small and intimate and we still had the intimate piece at the Lesner Inn but ended up with about 120 people and it was perfect. Color and theme-wise, I have always wanted a blush, champagne and whimsical wedding.
How long after you got engaged did you start looking for a venue and what made you pick Lesner Inn?
We started looking right away, I wanted our engagement to be a year or less so we moved quickly! I lived on Shore Drive for a few years and love the area, we plan on moving back there eventually and it just seemed like the perfect fit! Lesner Inn is the perfect mix of the beach and class, which was perfect for us.
What other vendors helped with your big day and let us know why you loved them : )
Hannah Hildebrandt was my wedding planner and she is AMAZING, hands down the best decision I made with our wedding was choosing her as my planner! She helped me pick out our vendors, including Kirstyn Marie Jordan (our photographer), Incredible Edibles (bakery), Kelly Gish (our florist), and PaperDolls Design (for all of our invites and paper goods). All of our vendors were so easy to deal with and our vision came together perfectly with the help of Brittany at the Lesner Inn, she is a godsend! Our engagement and wedding pictures are honestly perfection and we are using Kirstyn again in a few weeks for my maternity pictures!
What was the hardest part of the wedding planning process?
Honestly, Hannah and Brittany made it so easy, I am also pretty laid-back when it comes to decision making so I wasn’t super OCD about the wedding but we didn’t have much stress over anything. Towards the end, making sure all the tiny details come together was probably the hardest part.
What was your favorite part of the wedding and why?
The ceremony, hands-down. We used Ken Lane (Reverend) to do our ceremony and he was just incredible, the whole thing was beautiful and personal and heart-felt. My Husband’s vows were also so loving truly the sweetest words I’ve ever heard, everyone was in tears, so that was probably my absolute favorite part.
Were there any special little touches that you included to make the day more personal to you?
I loved having our signature drink named after our dog, Winston. We made sure to get some great pictures of him with Kirstyn and put those up at the bar with the drink menu! Mike and I also opted out of the first look and waited to see each other until I came down the aisle, and this made all the difference in the world to me. I know there are perks to a first look, but nothing could change the way we felt when we saw each other, his face was priceless and it made me feel like the most special girl in the world! So, if you are debating a first look, I say don’t because the real first look is so special!
If you had to go back and do it all over again, is there anything that you would change?
I have thought about this a few times and talked with family and friends…and honestly we wouldn’t change a thing. Our wedding was absolutely perfect.
What advice or recommendations would you give to future couples planning their big day?
Use a planner!! Enjoy the process and don’t get hung up on the little things because when you’re walking down the aisle, the little things that didn’t turn out perfectly won’t matter at all!
Truer words have never been spoken. We find that a lot of our brides comment that having a planner or even a day-of-coordinator helps to make the whole process much smoother. Don’t forget that Lesner Inn offers day of coordination but we also have some great full and partial planning friend-ors that we would love to recommend to you!
Congratulations again to Sarah & Mike and we cannot wait until Baby Sawyer’s debut!
Photos by Kirstyn Marie Photography!
Lesner Inn has teamed up with WeddingWire to bring you our best tips for booking your vendors and planning your wedding. With this timeline, you will be confident in the planning process and in finding your amazing vendors on sites like WeddingWire.
Step One: When & Where
Most important to the planning process, is knowing when and where you will have the wedding and reception. This is how you book all of your other vendors and begin choosing color scheme and other design aspects. Of course we recommend having your event at the beautiful Lesner Inn in Virginia Beach, but if a waterfront venue with a killer sunset isn’t your scene then WeddingWire can help you find a venue that’s a perfect fit for you! Most couples book at least a year out from their event to give them enough time to budget and plan, which we definitely suggest! After booking your venue, it is a great idea to book your photographer, especially if you are set on a certain person and/or have a popular wedding date! The best photographers book out a year in advance as well, so booking them at the same time as your venue will avoid any stress in finding a photographer to give you some dreamy photos!
Step Two: Food & Florals
If your venue doesn’t include food and beverage like Lesner Inn does, then the next step is deciding who will be doing your catering for the event. This involves tasting a lot of delicious foods, so make sure to wear your stretchy pants! You want to do this about ten months out from your event, to ensure that both vendors will be able to work together to make your event a success! You will want to book your florist and begin sharing your ideas with them ten months out from the wedding as well, that way you can begin choosing your color scheme and give your vendors the opportunity to collaborate!
Step Three: Entertainment
Are you having a band or a DJ? Well this is the time to find out! Nine months out from your wedding date is the perfect time to decide which you will have, and who they will be! Ask your wedding venue if they have a preferred vendors list, because often times vendors who enjoy working together will offer discounts if you book with both of them!
Step Four: Guests & Dress
It’s time to send out your save the dates so your out of town guests can start thinking about where they will be staying and how they will be getting there! If your ceremony music won’t be handled by your DJ or band then you will want to decide who will be doing this as well. This is all decided at the eight month mark of the planning process where you will also choose your wedding dress! The sooner you do this the better to make sure the dress is PERFECT for your special day!
Step Five: Maids & Cake
Time to take the girls shopping! If your bridesmaids haven’t bought their dresses yet, and you’re seven months away from your wedding, then it is time! You will also want to go in for a cake tasting, which trust us you want to make sure you get just right for you & your guests to enjoy! Bring your bridesmaids along for this too if you want to make a day of it!
Step Six: Details Details DETAILS!
We’re half way there! Six months out from the wedding and it’s time to get those pesky details nailed down! The next three months will be a lot of back and forth with your vendors, fiancé, and of course your inner monologue, and quite honestly it can be an extremely stressful time. This is when organization is KEY! Keep a binder with tabs and folders for each individual vendor, and a calendar for deadlines and meetings. Your vendors are a team that you have hired to make one of the most special days of your life amazing, so keeping everyone in the loop and up to date is extremely important! If you’ve booked with Lesner Inn, we recommend utilizing our day of coordination services to make this happen! We help ensure that the planning process runs smoothly, and that all of your vendors have current information about your wedding day once we get closer to the event.
We hope that the planning process runs smoothly for you, and more than anything we hope that you have an AMAZING day celebrating your marriage with friends & family!
In addition to keeping binders and folders, another way to stay organized is with a wedding checklist! WeddingWire has a place for you to create your own wedding checklist! Make sure you check it out!
While we know this all sounds too good to be true, we are here to tell you that it is possible! All you have to do is be realistic about your guest count and what you plan to offer your guests, and here is how to do it!
Vistaprint Stationary: $75
– Save the Dates (70 copies)
– Invitations (70 copies)
– The Virginia Beach Resort & Conference Center not only will give your guests a discount for a block of rooms, but they even have a shuttle service that goes for $200 for the entire night!
Lesner Inn Ceremony: $650
– One hour towards total event time
– Set up & breakdown of ceremony chairs
– Use of Lesner Inn’s white arch
*David Champagne photography, shown right*
Lesner Inn Room Rental: $750
– Three hours towards total event time
– Tables & cotton linens
– Chivari chairs
– China, glassware, & flatware
– Mirror tiles & candle votives
Food & Beverage from Lesner Inn for Eighty Guests: $4,200
– Cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres (one platter & two hot/cold hors d’oeuvres replenished for a full thirty minutes)
– Two entrée buffet served with a salad, starch, vegetable, and bread rolls
– $1,000 consumption bar
– Cake cutting, champagne/sparkling cider toast, beverage station, & tasting bag for the newlyweds after the event
Wedding Favors: $100
– Candy bar provided by Lesner Inn
Daissy Torres Photography: $2,000
– Six hour coverage
– High resolution images, print release, proof gallery, & $200 print credit
– Additional $150 print credit for Lesner Inn couples
*Daisy Torres photography, shown right*
– Four hour coverage of music & MC
Fluttering Flowers Florist: $900
– Greenery & floral accents for arch
– Bridal bouquet
– Five bridesmaids bouquets
– Six boutonnieres
– Five floral centerpieces including decorative lanterns
* Florals included are year round (seasonal florals may be added at an additional cost)
*David Champagne photography, shown right*
Incredible Edibles Bakery: $250
– Cake to feed fifty guests
Say it! – This might seem clear but sometimes the most obvious things are what we miss. Take a moment during your welcome to thank everyone for taking the time to be there. If you know someone went really out of their way, point it out! If that person doesn’t know very many people then it will give them something to talk about at their table.
Anniversary Dance – This is always a favorite and helps to get the dance floor moving too! Have your DJ invite all of the married couples on the dance floor for a dance with you and your significant other. After about a minute, have him dismiss couples that have been married 1 year, 5 years, etc. You will eventually end up with the longest married couple on the dance floor! Ask them for their best marriage advice. Don’t forget to take a picture together!
Favors – We have seen so many different types of favors at Lesner Inn but couples still surprise us with original ideas. Some of our favorites? Hand painted bottles of limoncello, succulents and jarred honey! Send your guests home with something they’ll remember.
Give Them An Honorable Job – On the day of the wedding, there are a million things to get done. Oftentimes your guests are just as excited about your big day and want to help in any way possible. Do you need ushers or greeters still? This is a great way to make someone feel like a guest of honor.
Hotel Welcome Bags – When your guests check in to their hotel, have a goody bag at the front desk ready and waiting for their arrival. Stuff it with coupons for local restaurants, a note from you, candy, snacks, sunscreen…anything! Guests will feel pampered immediately upon arrival.
There are so many more ways to make your guests feel special. But just remember, the smallest thank you goes a long way.
Starting at the beginning…how did you two meet?
We met at Deer Valley YMCA Family Camp outside Pittsburgh, PA on a hot summer’s day. Steve first caught my eye one morning before breakfast; we were both outside for a brisk morning run around the lake.
And the moment that he popped the question?
After 5 years of dating, over President’s Day weekend, Steve proposed to me *literally* ON the frozen lake where we met.
We’ve seen the pictures from this and, trust us, it was an epic proposal! When you started the venue search, what made you pick Lesner Inn?
We selected Lesner Inn for our beautiful sunset wedding and reception after falling in love with the location and interacting with the fabulous staff. You can’t beat this venue! Delicious food, beautiful marina view, and all-inclusive with one location to provide both the wedding ceremony of your dreams and reception for the ages.
It takes much more than a venue to pull off a beautiful wedding. Who else was involved?
I highly recommend all of our vendors: Norfolk Wholesale Floral, Dustin Lewis (photographer), DJ Rodney Charles (Astro DJ), Stowe Haven Strings (string trio), Incredible Edibles (cake), Duck Donuts, Maya Couture (wedding dress), Makeup School by Sarah Rillon (bridal makeup)
Melanie and Steve really had the A-team of wedding vendors! Check out the photos at the end of the post to see more! We are always interested to see what song a couple picks for their first dance. What made you pick it and why?
I was very stressed about finding the perfect first dance song– it seemed to be the most challenging aspect of the entire wedding planning process (ridiculous, I know…). Just over a month before the wedding, at 5:30 am, I was driving my sister’s car to work (her pre-set radio stations are quite different from my own). This is when I discovered our song!! Pearl Jam “Just Breathe” I was immediately put at ease and knew on the spot this was our song.
What were you most excited about for your wedding day and why?
I was most excited to have a huge party with all of my closest friends and family, most of whom drove/flew a great distance to celebrate with us.
Were there any personal touches that you put on your wedding day that were really special to you? (We have to preface this with saying how impressed we were with how personal their wedding was)
Personal touches…soooo many! Let me name a few– Steve and I named each of our tables after places that were important or significant to our relationship (ie. Berkey Creamery, Pippin Hill, Caribou Coffee, Garmisch, Charleston, etc.). Signature drink– we elected to serve “Anchors Aweigh” which was inspired by our favorite drink from State College, PA (root beer schnapps, coke, jagermeister)- this was not your traditional signature wedding drink, but was completely us and turned out to be a huge hit! We also used Shriver’s Salt Water Taffy (my favorite from Ocean City, NJ) to attach the guest’s name tags for table settings. Wedding favors: individually decorated Limoncello bottles for each guest from our time in Naples, Italy.
What was the biggest mistake you made during the planning process? Not that we think you made any!
Mistakes.…I never make them.…ever ;)
Ha, a girl after our own hearts. What advice do you have for other couple’s planning their weddings?
Once you arrive to the reception– leave all expectations at the door and just have fun! The wedding/reception will fly by so try your best to live in the moment and enjoy yourself, your guests, and of course: your new spouse!!
We could not agree more!!! It is so great to see a bride who can be present in the moments during her wedding instead of worrying about the little things. What was your favorite memory from the wedding?
I have a tie for first place in favorite memories from the wedding. I loved the serenade to Top Gun’s “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” my husband and his buddies surprised me with, aviators and all. We also broke out a ton of glow-in-the-dark necklaces and wands when “Sandstorm” came on– the child in each of us came out and everyone came on the dance floor to join in. Quite the compliment!
We loved being able to a part of a couple’s special day and cannot believe it has been a whole year since that energetic dance party! Scroll down to see some of the photos that Dustin Lewis took on their big day!
The first major decision you need to make is if you will be having a seating chart or not. Cocktail style receptions (with limited seating to encourage guests mingling) don’t need one because not everyone will have a seat. If you aren’t having a cocktail style reception, but still don’t want to deal with a pesky seating chart, you can go rouge and let guests pick their own seats. (This doesn’t work for a plated meal though!) If you decide to do this, we recommend putting a few extra seats out that way your college friends aren’t pulling chairs from every table so that all 12 of them can sit together. We also recommend making sure to mark a reserved section for family. Since they will be taking formal pictures with you and your significant other after the ceremony, you want to make sure that your guests haven’t taken all of the seats close to the action. Nothing is worse than seeing a family member pushed to the back of the room because they didn’t get in early enough to reserve themselves a seat.
If you decide that assigned seating is for you, you have to decide what kinds of tables you will be using. Our standard tables are 72 inch rounds which comfortably accommodate 10 guests but can squeeze up to 12. Keep in mind that if you will be using chargers in your décor, we recommend staying as close to 10 guests as possible to allow for more space for the chargers and flatware.
Another option you have are king tables or long banquet tables. These are great ways to create a unique layout and also allows for you to put more people together. We often see couples that opt for a sweetheart table (just the two of them) and use a long banquet table for their bridal party instead of splitting them up. Banquet tables and king tables are also great for larger families so that they can all sit together too! This is a great way to make sure all of your family feels honored without having to worry about splitting them into smaller groups.
Looking for something other than rounds or long tables, or even something to go along with these tables? Square tables really help to create a visually interesting space. They can accommodate 8 – 12 guests and are very trendy in weddings lately. No need for all of your tables to match either – mix it up with all of these options to best fit different groups of guests!
Just remember, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that your guests are at your wedding.
Photography: David Champagne
As one of our brides once told us, this process is only as hard as you want it to be. You will spend hours searching for the perfect dress, writing witty vows, crafting centerpieces, and picking out a playlist. Sometimes this all just seems too overwhelming and you need to take a step back. Remember the reason you are getting married. You are committing yourself to your partner in front of your closest friends and family and at the end of the day, that’s all you really HAVE to do. It is easy to be swept up in Pinterest boards and bridal magazines but remember that in the end, this is your day. It will never be exactly like anyone else’s and that makes every single wedding special and original. If it all seems like too much and you don’t know where to start, check out your contract!
Lesner Inn provides a planning guide for couples to have a checklist to work with. Your event manager will also help you with a floor plan and picking out the layout of where tables need to go. Don’t be afraid to email one of the girls in our office to ask a question – that is what we are here for! We will meet with you about 3 months away from your wedding day to touch base and make sure things are on track. We will help you to fill out the planning guide and get those pesky floor plans worked out. Then we will sit down with you two weeks before the wedding to finalize these details. While it can seem overwhelming when you are sitting up late at night furiously pinning images to a Pinterest board, remember that you are going to love your wedding day because you are marrying the love of your life.
Don’t be afraid to take a step back from the planning process and have a date night with your fiancé. Enjoy being engaged. Go to happy hour with your friends and catch up on their lives. Log some time at the gym to blow off some steam. Catch up on your DVR and don’t feel guilty. Just because you are planning a wedding doesn’t mean that you need to drop everything else in your life.
So…to bride or groom who feels like they’re treading water and can barely keep their head up, just breathe.
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