I graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s in History & Sociology, so people always ask me “How did you end up in the wedding industry? What made you want to do this?” My answer is simple. Everything about my job at Lesner Inn makes me happy. I’m constantly surrounded by people and things I love, so why wouldn’t I do this?
I’ll start with my coworkers. The team at Lesner Inn is unlike any team I’ve worked with before. I consider the girls I work with in the office like my sisters. They each hold a special place in my heart. You’ll often find us laughing to tears over absolutely nothing, singing the Lion King Soundtrack, or binge eating sweets. We may share a common interest of everything wedding, but our friendship goes beyond our office. And I’m lucky to have them in my life.
The location. Lesner Inn is located right on the Lynnhaven River, so every day I’m at work I’m reminded of how beautiful our home is. The view is incredible. And the sunsets are breathtaking. When things become hectic at work, it’s nice to take a moment on our Sunset Deck and appreciate where I live and where I work. Not many people can say the same, so I feel #blessed.
The vendors. Or better yet, my friendors. The Hampton Road’s wedding industry is large, and I’m fortunate to have so many friends in the industry. We connect each weekend to work similar clients’ weddings. And we team up throughout the year to host open houses and create stylized shoots. They’ve even supported me through the start of my nonprofit, riseVB, and my fundraising ventures with Beach Ball.
The icing on the cake for me is seeing everything come to life on the wedding day. My relationships with my clients grow throughout the planning process. I become so fond of their story – how they met, how they fell in love… all of the good stuff. But there’s something about the way they look at each other when they’re standing at the arch that gives me all the feels. And I wouldn’t trade that in for the world.
When I think back to how I ended up working at Lesner Inn, planning one of the most epic days of someone’s life, I think back to my first experience working around weddings in Virginia Beach. While I was in college, I spent my summers working at the front desk of a local Virginia Beach hotel. During my time there, I was able to meet so many people who were celebrating their wedding weekend! My interaction with their big day was pretty much non-existent, but I always got to see the team of vendors pile in & work their magic to create what each couple had planned for so long to be the best day of their lives! Watching what each couple found to be their perfect wedding come to life was so fun to watch, & it has easily become one of my favorite parts about my job at Lesner Inn.
Since starting as an Event & Sales Manager at Lesner Inn almost 3 years ago, I have seen so many different color schemes, menu & dessert choices, & newfound traditions that couples have wanted to incorporate to set their wedding apart from the rest. Even though a lot of wedding trends stay pretty constant, most of our couples will have at least one minute detail that is completely unique to their style & tastes. Each of these unique details can make one wedding the complete opposite of another, but regardless of if they choose to have breakfast for dinner, a gelato bar for dessert, or to dance to an unconventional song all of these weddings are perfect in their own ways!
These unique touches make my job SO much fun, especially when even I am surprised on the night of (shout out to Amanda & David Haas for the guest appearance from a T-rex)!
How & when did you meet?
We met during grad school at Stony Brook University about 5 1⁄2 years ago now. He was in PT school, and I was in PA school but we had an overlapping anatomy class the first summer of school and started hanging out and the rest is history!
We love a good story! How did you get engaged? (This is so thoughtful & well planned, great job Billy!)
We had a weekend planned to stay out in the eastern part of Long Island near the wineries (we had done the same thing the year prior as it’s one of our favorite places), but this year he drove us back through Stony Brook (which is on the way) where we first met and proposed on the beach outside of his old house where we used to spend a lot of time together. Then, he surprised me by having my parents come into town from Virginia Beach, so we spent the weekend with both of our families celebrating our engagement!
Why did you pick Lesner Inn for your venue?
My cousins got married at the Lesner Inn about 7 years ago, and I fell in love with the venue at their wedding. After we got engaged, I knew that I wanted to get married there as well. I’m a huge beach/water lover and the setting and view that the Lesner Inn offers is just incredible! One of my favorite parts of the venue is that you can have your ceremony outside on the water, and then walk inside for the reception rather than having your guests have to travel!
What outside vendors did you use & why did you choose them?
I LOVED all of our vendors! We used a lot of the Lesner Inn preferred vendors who I was extremely happy with but then our DJ, Taylor Haycox and videographer, DSP, were outside vendors. Taylor was actually recommended to us by our cousin’s friend, and I am so grateful for that because he was absolutely perfect and all of our guests were raving about him after. We found our videographer on WeddingWire, and his reviews were all great as well as his pricing. He did an amazing job and again we are so pleased with how it all turned out.
What was your vision for your wedding day & did it change throughout the process? If so, how?
Billy and I both wanted our wedding day to be fairly simple. I wanted the color scheme and decor to be very neutral with lots of white flowers and greenery. We went with a dusty blue for the bridesmaid dresses which I thought went well with having our wedding in December. It also fit into the waterfront venue vibe. We pretty much stayed with our vision the entire time with only a few minor changes as we got further into planning. The nice thing about the Lesner Inn (particularly the Sunset Deck) is that the scenery is already so naturally pretty that we didn’t worry about doing much else for our decor. Looking back on the photos, we are so happy with how it all turned out!
We always love different dessert bars. What made you choose to do a donut bar?
Billy was actually the mastermind behind the donut bar! He loves donuts and wanted to do something different for our desserts! We still had the traditional cake, but I think all of our guests loved the donuts the most!
How did you pick your first dance song & why did you pick it?
We both love Ed Sheeran (especially me) and the first time we heard Perfect together we knew that we wanted to do that for our song. We really didn’t even debate about any other songs because we felt that one describes us so well and the music is so beautiful.
Are there any funny or silly moments from your wedding day or the planning process that stand out to you?
I remember at the end of the night walking through the sparklers and it dawning on me how flammable my hair was after all of the hair spray, and then Billy went to dip me and accidentally almost dropped me backwards into the flames. Luckily we recovered well and my hair didn’t catch on fire haha.
What advice do you have for other couples planning their wedding?
I would say to just keep things simple, go with your gut and don’t stress over the small details! The day goes by so quickly and you really have to soak in every moment because it’s gone in a second!
We are SO glad that Becca’s hair didn’t catch on fire haha, that definitely would have been a first! Becca & Billy really did give the best advice for other couples to take in. Trying not to stress is much easier said than done for the biggest day of your life, but the details that seem so big during the planning process won’t be the things that you really cherish after it’s all said & done. So, try not to worry, take in every second, & enjoy your big day!
Photos by Stellar Exposures Photography!
Working at Lesner Inn for the past year and a half has been filled with beautiful views, fun coworkers, wonderful clients and lots and lots of cake! The event planning business has allowed me to grow creatively & professionally and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity that I have at Lesner Inn.
While there are many aspects that I love about this profession, my favorite part is that I have been lucky enough to meet and connect with so many different clients. From the first email, touring, and all the meetings we have before the big day, I am able to get to know so many brides, grooms, and even sometimes the parents of the couple! The wedding planning process is such a happy, fun, and sometimes stressful time for these couples, so being able to meet with them during this time and help their wedding come together is so fulfilling.
I always look forward to meetings because it’s also a time to catch up with the couple about everything that has been going on in their lives during this exciting time. Once all the planning is complete the big day finally arrives, I am able to see all the special moments shared between the couple and their friends and families, which makes the job that much more satisfying!
When I first started college, I knew 100% that I wanted to be a teacher. As my first semester started, I was ecstatic because I was taking my first teaching course! After the first day of classes, I was a little discouraged because it just was not what I was expecting, but I was determined to keep going. Well, throughout the semester, I realized that teaching just wasn’t for me, but I did realize that I loved coordinating events through my Recreation and Leisure class I was also taking. From then on out, I knew I was going to be an event coordinator.
Skip to my job at Lesner Inn, which is amazing!! It is my first job out of college and I could not have asked for a better way to start my career. I love the environment that I work in, but I mostly love how I get to be just a small portion of someone’s biggest day of their life. I have the opportunity to be with them through almost the entire planning process, recommend vendors, help plan their décor, and see their big day come to life, and it’s what makes my career so much fun! Do I connect with some couples more than others? Of course, that’s just because of who they are and who I am, but I still love getting to be a part of their wedding day. The amount of stress I see throughout the planning process is overcome by so much joy on the wedding day, and the fact that I get to be a part of making that joy happen, is beyond measurable.
It’s almost funny to look back and think that I could have been a teacher and experienced a different type of joy, but the happiness that I get from seeing the couples on the biggest day of their lives is what I LOVE. The first kiss as newlyweds, the father/daughter dance, the cake smashing, all of that brings the biggest smile to my face because I had the opportunity to be a small portion of their big day!
Who do I want to experience this with most?
Before throwing a random figure out there for your wedding budget, you MUST sit down with your fiancé & put together a guest list. This list should include everyone you absolutely cannot celebrate your marriage without! You should even have a second list of people that you may want to invite if your budget allows for it, or if people on your “A list” can’t make it. There is no shame in having a B list!
Right: Christina Vanta Photography
When do I want to say “I do” to the love of my life?
Most venues & catering facilities will have a required food & beverage minimum that you need to reach on specific days of the week, months of the year, & times of day. At Lesner Inn, your food & beverage minimum can be significantly less in the months of January, February, March & November compared to any other month of the year. However, keep in mind when selecting your date that Saturday evenings are the most coveted day & time for a wedding reception, so the minimum requirements are going to be higher than they would on a Friday or Sunday!
Where do we want to say our vows & celebrate with our closest friends & family?
Between, food, beverages, favors, desserts, & décor there is a lot to consider when adding another name to your guest list. To create a more educated budget, find out what your favorite venues offer & at what cost. If the cost per person of your wedding venue or catering company doesn’t match up with what you were expecting, don’t be afraid to ask how you can customize their menu to fit your needs. If you don’t want to offer a bar, speak up! As long as you are reaching their minimum for your selected date & time it doesn’t matter how you get there!
Above: Daissy Torres PhotographyWhat do we need to make our wedding day perfect for OUR story?
A lot of people forget about the details that go into planning a wedding. We typically suggest budgeting at least $5,000 for things like cake, florals, DJ, & photographer. Of course the total cost of these vendors can be more or less, but it all depends on your vision. Lesner Inn is a one stop shop for food, beverage, much of couples favorite décor, wedding coordination & even desserts. We also have preferred vendors who offer discounts for couples who book with us if our services don’t quite fulfill everything that you & your fiancé want on your wedding day!
Will you help us make this day everything we want it to be?
After sitting down with your fiancé about the who, what, where, & when, talk to both of your families to find out if they are willing to contribute to your wedding celebration. If so, get a dollar amount so that you will know what you & your fiancé will be responsible for, & how much room is left in your budget to add that donut bar that you really wanted!
Above: Stellar Exposures PhotographyCreating a wedding budget after educating yourself on what you expect for your wedding day will make the whole planning process far less difficult & scary! If you’d prefer an expert opinion over trying to guestimate a cost by yourself, be prepared to answer some of the above questions for your wedding professionals. We want to make sure we are giving you the most accurate information to help you create the wedding of your dreams WITHOUT breaking the bank!
Contact one of our sales managers today to see how we can help with your budget wedding!
Of everything you have available to rent, what would you say would help spruce up a wedding reception the most & why?
As little as it seems, napkins are a huge part of wedding décor! May sound silly, but they’re in every picture of the table-scape & can add a pop of color, fun print or just a little texture to the table. Napkins are an easy, budget friendly addition that can make a difference, even if the client is using linen that their venue provides!
Right: Echard Wheeler Photography
What items do you provide for clients to rent?
We are a full service linen rental company that specializes in allllll things linens! We of course offer the basics, but we have a big selection of specialty & even custom print linens. We’re always willing to order in something new! Not only do we specialize in linens, but we also rent chairs & plate chargers. We have gold, mahogany & white chiavari chairs, as well as white resin folding chairs. We also have both resin & glass beaded chargers. We are currently expanding our inventory, so stay tuned for our newest additions!
Would you say chair sashes or covers are necessary?
Chair covers & sashes are definitely important, but totally not a must have! We may think differently though ;) Let’s say there are 15 tables & 150 guests. A table linen will only be on 15 of the tables, while a chair sash will be on 150 chairs. Makes such a bigger impact to the room!
Have you seen a trend in a specific type or color of linen?
All the neutrals! We see a ton of ivory, blush & gold… but we’re totally not mad about it! Such a romantic color scheme that doesn’t seem like it will ever go out of style. Add a pop of sequins in there & call it a day!
Above: David Champagne Photography
What is your favorite part about weddings?
Hardest question ever… but we LOVE seeing the room transform! Walking into a completely empty venue & walking out a few hours later with lighting, linens, florals, music, etc., it’s such a surreal feeling. Knowing that Waterford has made a small impact in someone’s BIG day is such an amazing feeling. Definitely will never get old!
Left: Echard Wheeler Photography
We couldn’t agree more! We love seeing our wedding venue transform into each couple’s dream & see their eyes grow wide when they see their designs come to life. We adore Waterford Event Rentals & work with them all throughout the year, so if you love what you read today, contact them directly or ask us how to get in touch with them so we can help your wedding vision come true!
No longer for just the kitchen & bathroom, marble is making its way into the wedding scene in a big way! From chargers to floral vases, there are many ways to incorporate marble into your tablescape. You can even break out of the box & incorporate marbled swirls into fondant for your cake or backgrounds for your invitations! We decided to use a marbled linen from Waterford Event Rentals, & even had marbled menu cards made from Paper Dolls Design for the place settings!
These breakfast treats aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Couples began to offer doughnuts as an economical dessert option a few years ago & it is still going strong. Whether you display these on a doughnut wall or on personalized platters, guests will go nuts for sugary sweets! Add edible glitter as a sweet & sparkly treat!
Rose bouquets may be a classic, but florals with bold & exciting colors are being seen more often in the wedding scene! Add a pop of color with a protea or ranunculus bloom & let your flowers do the talking! Winter berries were added to this bouquet from Wandering Petal for a touch of something unique!
Deep Reds & Romantic Tones
For that romantic feel, you can’t go wrong with a deep red to compliment natural tones. We have seen this color pop up in linens & bridesmaid dress options & can’t get enough of it. We complimented our marbled & gray linens with burgundy napkins & bold red florals!
We have to say that this is our favorite so far. Remember the trendy wooden welcome signs of the past? In 2018, you should be welcoming your guests into your wedding with a transparent acrylic welcome sign or mailing them a modern laser engraved clear invitation. We used transparent acrylic stands to hold up decorative manzanitas, but another great idea is using a transparent table for your sweetheart or cake tables. You can even spice these up by putting uplighting underneath of them!
Coppers & Golds
This might be linked to the Moscow Mule craze, but we don’t hate it! Copper flatware, copper cake toppers, copper jewelry, copper table numbers, copper chargers…the opportunities are endless! Of course, gold tones in general aren’t going anywhere!!
Wreaths & Hanging Décor
Not just your mama’s door décor anymore! We are seeing so many floral hoops & wreaths, adorning wedding arches, entranceways, & even see them suspended above tables. These can be full of simple greenery or they can have elaborate floral focal points. We love what Wandering Petal did with this hanging piece over our head table!
Thanks to Stellar Exposures Photography for documenting our 2018 Open House!
We’re sure you’ve seen these at a wedding you’ve been to recently. They’re a huge hit with the guests & most likely will be used again! These work for both bottled & canned beverages, so you don’t have to worry about only some of your guests enjoying them. Best of all they can be purchased online at a fair price if you order them in bulk!
Right: Lee Yen Photography
Who doesn’t love an extra pair of shades? If you’re having an outdoor wedding, you can order custom sunglasses with your name & date on the side for your guests to wear. For most websites, it only takes a few minutes to customize the sunglasses & they get shipped right to your home!
This one might seem a little peculiar at first, but it is such a unique idea! To cut back on cost you can make these favor yourself! All you need to do is put ground coffee in little bags & time them off with a tag. Try coming up with something fun to make your guests smile when they go to use the coffee after the wedding like, “Love is brewing”. You can even make a few bags with decaffeinated coffee for those people who don’t drink caffeine!
Below: Kelly Marie Photos
Normally, couples will have the traditional cake & maybe a few other desserts for the reception, but the candy bar is becoming increasingly popular as not only a dessert, but as favors. This is probably one of the easiest & most cost effective favors that you can give your guests. All you have to do is buy the candy & to-go bags, use a few glass jars & bowls, & there you have it! It’s an easy, fun, & inexpensive favor that keeps giving even after they leave the wedding! To make it even easier, Lesner Inn can create your candy bar for you!
These little plants are so trendy right now! Everyone loves extra décor for their house, so this is a perfect favor for your guests that won’t go to waste. You can save some money by getting faux succulents or you can get live ones for a couple more bucks!
Below: Erika Mills Photography
These are just a few ideas for different, useful, & low-cost wedding favors for your guests. You will love how easy & cost effective this gifts are, & your guests will love that they get to continuously use them after they leave the party! There are a lot more options if you’re up for having a non-traditional favor, so just keep looking or head over to our Pinterest page to get some more ideas!
Bustle: After you’ve flaunted your train during your waterfront ceremony & for portrait shots, it’s time to pin that train up & dance the night away! “Bustle” is just a fancy way to say that you’re pinning your dress’ train up, so that it doesn’t drag on the floor & get damaged.
Above: Stellar Exposures PhotographyCake Cutting Service: After the ceremonial cake cutting by the couple, your caterer will cut the rest of the cake & serve it to the guests to enjoy. Lesner Inn includes cake cutting services & even lets you decide whether you would like to display the sliced pieces of cake, or if you would like our staff to pass them to your guests.
Cake Cutting Set: This one is so simple, yet can be so confusing. The cake cutting set is the knife & serving piece that you use to cut & serve during the ceremonial cake cutting for you & your spouse. Lesner Inn has a house set for you to use, but some couples prefer to purchase their own or even will use the ones their parents used on their wedding day!
Chargers: These may look like fancy plates, but they are actually used as tabletop decoration & are placed at the table setting before china are put on top of them. Don’t be the one who accidentally takes this plate up to the buffet… talk about social suicide.
Cocktail Hour: This is the period of time (not always an hour) between your ceremony & reception where your guests have an opportunity to mingle with one another & enjoy cocktails & hors d’oeuvres. It is most common that the newlyweds will take wedding photos during this time with their family & bridal party before being announced into the reception.
Day of Coordinator: A day of coordinator (not to be confused with a wedding planner) is basically a wedding assistant who takes over once the wedding is a few weeks away. The coordinator’s main focus is to confirm the details that you have planned with your vendors & to tie up any loose ends. They will also be there for rehearsal & the day-of your wedding to make sure everything from set-up to overall execution goes smoothly. Lesner Inn offers day-of coordination & wedding design services to our couples, so feel free to reach out to us for more details!
Left: Brittany Sue Photography
Food & Beverage Minimum: This is the amount of money that you are required to spend on all food & beverage items. This amount varies from venue to venue but is always the amount that you will be meeting, & possibly exceeding, for any sort of food & beverages for your guests.
Hors D’oeuvres: This is just a fancy word for appetizers. They are made for everyone to enjoy during your cocktail hour, which Lesner Inn includes the hor d’oeuvres for in our base pricing!
Matron of Honor: Most people know that brides have a maid of honor & grooms have a best man, but brides can also have a matron of honor. This bridesmaid is just as special as your maid of honor, but the title changes since she is already married!
Memory Table: Just like any other side table, this one is completely optional for the couple. This table normally holds picture frames of loved ones who have passed away, so they can be remembered on your special day.
Toast: These are short speeches to the bride & groom generally done by the best man & maid/maitron of honor. Of course, there are others who can do them like the father of the bride, siblings of the bride or groom, or anyone who is special to you! Regardless of who speaks, toasts are generally done with champagne which Lesner Inn provides for each guest!
Above: Vinluain PhotographyVenue Manager: A venue manager is there the day-of your wedding to make sure all runs smoothly with the venue & the food & beverage side of things, if they do in house catering like Lesner Inn does. They will make sure your floor plan is correct, any sort of décor items rented through the venue are set, & that the timeline for all food & beverage is followed accordingly. At Lesner Inn, you will always have a venue manager on site the day of your wedding, but they do not act as coordinators with your other vendors or personal details.
Wedding Planner: Your wedding planner will be there throughout the entire process from choosing your venue & vendors to saying “I do”. They will help with designing your wedding, choosing vendors & finalizing contracts with them, & setting up & managing the details of your wedding on the day of. They will also be there the day-of from start to finish to make sure things go smoothly & that everything is handled correctly. Lesner Inn offers wedding planning to all of our soonly weds, so if you’re looking to sit back through the planning process & have a stress free wedding day, then our wedding planning service is the way to go!
We want to make the wedding planning process as stress free as possible, so we hope this glossary of “wedding words” helps out! Of course, there are many other terms we use that may be a little confusing, so just reach out to us if you need some insight!
A major way to cut the cost of your wedding is to cut your guest list. I know, I know, you want every family member & every friend you’ve ever met to come spend this special day with you, but this is one of the easiest ways to cut costs if you’re trying to stay within a budget. You can also look into having your wedding during the off-peak season. There are plenty of days in the early winter & spring months that would be beautiful for your big day! Off-peak months differ for each venue, but at Lesner Inn our off-peak months are January – March & November, so start thinking outside of those “normal” wedding months!
Elizabeth Friske PhotographyFloral
Another idea for cutting costs & staying within your budget is to use in-season flowers. Talk with your florist to see which flowers match your colors, but are still in season. You never know, you may be surprised with some gorgeous flowers you never heard of! You can also discuss using more greenery than flowers for centerpieces & arch décor. Greenery is gorgeous & is a perfect go-to when you want to cut flowers, but still have stunning designs!
Nothing is trending more right now in the wedding industry than a DIY wedding for couples with a wedding budget. We know that you obviously can’t DIY everything, but there are a few things that you can DIY to keep costs low. Using wine bottles as vases for your centerpieces can be so cute & inexpensive (try dipping them in paint or glitter to match your color scheme)! DIY the seating chart or welcome message by finding an old window, mirror, or chalkboard to write on. If you’re up for it, you can make all of your own signs so your guests are turning every corner to see your creativity! These are only a couple of ideas, so hop onto our Pinterest board to see what other DIY projects catch your eye for your wedding day!
Caitlin Gerres Photography
Want pretty stationary but your eyes grew wide at the cost? Think about making your own Save the Dates & Invitations! This can be a super fun way to pull out your artsy side & customize your stationary. Don’t think you’re creative enough to make your own? There are plenty of websites that offer templates that you can use for a much smaller dollar amount than going through a company. You even get the perk of printing your own stationary & not have to wait for it in the mail! Save even more money by having your guests RSVP on your wedding website or an app instead of paying for all of paper & postage for the responses!
Reach Out to Talented Friends & Family
If you have any friends or family members that are talented in photography, baking cakes, or something else related to a wedding, you can keep costs low by hiring them instead of a professional! On the contrary, we know you want to save money but just keep in mind that if you’re super picky about something (which you’re allowed to be, because it is your wedding), then you may want to leave the vendor work to the professionals. Of course, if you’re totally confident in your friend or family member because they’re spectacular at what they do, then definitely ask them to help out to save some money! At Lesner Inn, we have a preferred vendors list that we give to each of our couples, but we always make sure you know that you can use whomever you’d like for their vendors, so a friend or family member is always an option!
You may not be able to use all of these ideas, but you can use one or two or even think of some of your own to stay within your budget! There are so many ways that you can save a few bucks but still have a beautiful wedding. The most important part is that no matter if you go over budget, take some “traditional” things out to save money, or don’t have professional vendors, at the end of the day, you get to marry your best friend & that’s what you will remember the most!
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