While some may not think of IHOP’s National Pancake Day as a holiday, we find it to be one of the best faux holidays around! Breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, but it’s also a meal where you can get creative with your food and beverage options! From the classic breakfast of eggs & bacon to the trendy chicken & waffles brunch, there are so many different ways to create a brunch menu. In celebration of National Pancake Day, here are some of our favorite reasons to have a brunch wedding at the Lesner Inn!
The view of the Lynnhaven River on a sunny day, from either of our decks, is so picturesque you will have some of the most beautiful wedding photos to reflect on.
Jason Jarvis Photography
Typically, holding an afternoon event with us at the Lesner Inn is more cost efficient than having an evening wedding. This all depends on your guest count and the menu items that you choose, but the overall cost is expected to be less than an evening wedding based on our food and beverage minimums!
Having a wedding in the daytime can also save you money on fancy uplighting!
Our recently updated brunch wedding menu has some fun and trendy brunch ideas that will have your guests thinking you’re a breakfast genius! The stations package is by far our favorite, featuring clever stations like the chicken & waffles and breakfast taco stations, and of course classic stations for omelets, ham & biscuits, and so many more!
Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas are arguably the smartest drink concoctions ever created. Not only do they cure your rehearsal dinner hangover, but they get the party started all over again!
Instead of sticking to the traditional tiered wedding cake, you can bring donuts in as an alternative! We suggest Duck Donuts because their maple bacon donuts are just simply amazing! Pick up a couple dozen donuts of different fun flavors, and arrange them on a cupcake stand!
OR why not have a cake made out of stacked pancakes or waffles? GAME CHANGER!
Just because an afternoon event at the Lesner Inn must end by 3:00 PM doesn’t mean the party has to end. Bring your guests to one of our neighboring restaurants, Bubba’s or the Back Deck, for your after party! But then again who said you have to use our brunch menu in the morning? Breakfast for dinner is always a good idea!
With Hampton Roads having such a strong military presence, it should come to no surprise that we have seen numerous military weddings and traditions. We know that not every military fiancé is well acquainted with the traditions of their significant other’s community, so we thought we could lend a helping hand to those of you planning (or attending) a military wedding.
What are we all wearing?
Dress whites? Mess Dress? Class-A? None of this makes any sense to those of us outside of the armed forces so let’s break it down a little. For officers, evening dress is comparable to civilian white tie and tails. This is extremely formal attire. Dinner uniform – or mess dress — is similar to civilian black tie. Looking for something semi-formal? Go for service dress whites or service dress blues. In the Navy, dress whites are worn most often in the summer and dress blues are worn in fall and winter. Lesner Inn has seen mostly dress whites and blues but every once in awhile we have someone step up the formality to mess dress. Either way, we think they always look handsome and we love a man in uniform — especially against a sunset over the Lynnhaven River.
To glove or not to glove?
Tradition shows that all service members wear gloves – groomsmen, users, saber and sword bearers. The only exception to this is the groom and the best man as they will be handling rings.
Do they still need boutonnieres with their uniforms?
No. You should not be wearing a boutonniere on any military uniform. Budgeting bonus if you have a few military groomsmen and don’t need to purchase these!
Where is everyone sitting?
In the event that parents cannot attend, the bride or groom’s commanding officer and their spouse may sit in the front row. If parents are present, the commanding officer may sit close to the family. All following military guests should be seated according to rank.
Do I get a discount?
Yes! Lesner Inn offers 50% off of the room rental fee for all military weddings and functions. Being the daughters of men and women who have served our country, we know what you and your families have gone through to get to this special occasion. It gives us so much joy to be able to show our appreciation to those of you who have served our country!
Let’s talk about the arch of swords
Every military bride is excited about this and we LOVE seeing photos of it on our stairway and Sunset Deck. We turned to the experts at The Knot to explain this to you:
The arch is a symbolic act that ensures the newlywed couple safe passage into their new life together, but it should only be performed for commissioned officers. As soon as the ceremony is over, the ushers line up on either side of the aisle to the chapel steps. At the head usher’s command — “Draw sabers (cutlasses)” — the ushers raise their blades, edge up, into the air, carefully forming an archway. If there are civilian ushers in the wedding party, they also line up and stand respectfully at attention while the arch is formed. The newlyweds pass under the archway, and at the command — “Return sabers (cutlasses)” — the ushers return their weapons to their sides. They then turn and escort the bridesmaids down the aisle. If weather permits, the arch may be formed outside the entrance to the ceremony site. Though specific commands and protocol may differ based on the military branch of the commissioned officer, the arch is a military wedding tradition highlight.
Cutting the cake
Want the biggest slice of cake possible? Slice it with a sword or saber. It is a common military tradition for the bride and groom to cut the first slice of cake this way. The groom will unsheathe the sword and with his hand over the bride’s they will cut the first ceremonial piece of cake.
What is that song that is always sung?
Go to any military wedding and you are bound to see this happen. All of the sudden, the dance floor clears, a chair is brought out for the bride and servicemen gather all around her. No, this is not the garter toss – it’s time for some karaoke. Since the premiere of Top Gun, men have gotten down on one knee to serenade the wife of their fellow serviceman with The Righteous Brother’s Classic “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. We love watching the guys belt this one out to a blushing bride – it never gets old!
There are many more small traditions that vary from service to service but these are some of the more common ones that we see on a routine basis. When in doubt, you can always check with your local base protocol officer with any questions!
While wedding traditions in the past seemed to be set in stone, it seems that more and more couples are making it their goal to break these traditions. Things like not seeing each other before the ceremony, wearing a white dress, or rice showers upon exit are becoming less and less common, and more fun and exciting alternatives are on the rise. For your guests, attending a wedding that breaks tradition gives you immediate cool points, and gives you bragging rights for years to come! Here are some of Lesner Inn’s favorite breaks in tradition!
Can’t See Each Other Before Ceremony
This age old tradition dates back to when marriage was considered to be more of a business deal than a symbol of eternal love. When arranged marriages were the norm, the bride and groom wouldn’t have even met before the ceremony. The tradition of not seeing each other was actually born because the families didn’t want the bride or groom to back out of the “transaction” if they weren’t attracted to each other. Side note, this is also the intended purpose of the veil. Makes you really second guess whether or not to participate in this tradition, right? While some couples have not put this tradition in the past where it belongs, many are seeing it as an adorable photo opportunity! It can be difficult to photograph the moment you first see each other with a crowd of people all trying to see the same thing your photographer is. We love the idea of making this more of an event for the bride and groom so they have an intimate memory of the first time they saw each other on their wedding day. — Photo Credit Amanda Hedgepeth Photography
Drinks Start After the Ceremony
Who decided that the fun can’t start before the ceremony? When your guests begin to arrive and take their seats, why shouldn’t they be offered a light beverage to get the evening started? Whether it be a champagne punch, beer, wine, or all of the above nobody ever turned down a nice refreshing beverage! If you don’t want to offer alcohol before the ceremony, you can always offer infused water, iced tea, lemonade, hot chocolate, or any other fun drink you can think of to start the night off right!
Traditionally, the flower girl is a young girl who scatters flower petals to give the bride and groom luck in fertility. This tradition, like most of these wedding traditions, originated from superstition back when the Earth was thought to be flat. We think it’s time to go out with the old and in with the new with this tradition, or in this case out with the new and in with the old? One of our favorite plays on tradition was when grandparents were featured as flower girls and ring bearers during the ceremony! The crowd went wild, and we at the Lesner Inn still talk about this moment with our clients! — Photo Credit Dustin Lewis Photography
White was adopted as the traditional color for a bridal gown in the Victorian era, as a symbol of purity and innocence of girlhood. As traditions change, it becomes less common for brides to be looked down on for avoiding the cookie cutter white dress. Instead, brides are opting for gowns in ivory, nude, and even subdued pink. We love this break in tradition, and encourage brides to opt for a dress they love over staying within the narrow lines of tradition! — Photo Credit Caitlin Gerres Photography
The bride isn’t the only one who is expected to fall within a traditional mold for attire. The groom is expected to wear a white button down shirt, with a vest, and overcoat on the wedding day! However, we see more and more grooms coming out with a more casual look, opting for the button down with just the overcoat or vest, or just the button down with rolled up sleeves! We know this is great news for the groomsmen when it comes to a summer wedding! — Photo Credit Ross Costanza Photography
When we think of a wedding cake, what comes to mind is a traditional three tiered cake representing the engagement, wedding, and eternity rings. However, if you’re not a cake lover then spending hundreds of dollars on a cake for the sake of tradition probably isn’t the best way to budget your wedding. Many couples are switching to cupcakes, but we’ve even seen alternatives such as donuts, tiramisu, and pie! Try switching it up for your sweet treat!
Photo Credit Lindsey Fauvre (left) and Dustin Lewis Photography (right)
Okay, we will admit this tradition has been long gone! But we just love talking about all of the fun exits that can be done instead of throwing rice or flower petals! One of our favorite, and most common, exits are sparkler exits! They make for such amazing pictures! And of course we can’t forget how amazing boat exits are off of our dock onto the Lynnhaven River!
David Champagne Photography
Traditions are just like your everyday trend, changing over time with one bold move that leads the pack!
2016 is showing us at the Lesner Inn that the traditional buttercream frosting wedding cake is on its way out the door. While we still love the classic combinations of fruit-filled cakes with fluffy icing, there are some new kids on the cake table.
Sprinkle CakesOne of the more popular trends coming in wedding cakes are sprinkles. Yes, the same thing that you coated your ice cream sundaes in as a kid. We first started seeing a rise in cakes that were coated in sprinkles like one of our fall brides did (pictured above). But now we are seeing more and more funfetti cakes (sprinkles on the inside) making their way onto plates. No one ever said funfetti was just for kids! Photo Credit Skylar Watt
Dirty Iced CakesNot everyone is as crazy about icing as we are. And now there is a solution for you non-frosting folks. Dirty iced cakes! The name is weird but the concept is great. Instead of two coats of icing, bakeries stop after the crumb coat. In traditional cakes, the crumb coat serves to even the surface to smooth on your frosting – similar to what paint primer does for walls. Be on the lookout for these as they are becoming ever more popular among modern brides.
Single Layer CakesWhile cupcakes have been the hit of the decade, couples haven’t been able to take part in the time-honored tradition of cake cutting with these bite size sweets. Problem solved with single layer cakes. These small cakes allow you to still have the ceremonial slice without having the cost of a giant tiered cake. Photo Credit David Champagne
Gold Leaf AccentsDo you want a little bit of sparkle without going over the top? Gold leaf accents are topping many popular wedding cakes these days. This adds a bit of flair to your cake and is a nice change from fondant and flowers.
Photo credit onefabday.com
Reflect Your PersonalityWe were in love with this cake from one of Waterside Deck wedding this past winter. The bride surprised her husband – who is a Marvel maniac — with a cake to show both sides of their personality. He was blown away by this creation by Carolina Cupcakes.
Photo Credit Emma Fair Photo
Break Out of the Cake BoxNo one ever said you HAD to have cake at your wedding. Colleen & Mark weren’t big cake people and neither were Ashley & Nick. Colleen opted for pies for her December wedding and Ashley brought specialty donuts to a whole new level with her Duck Doughnuts dessert table. She even got mini boxes of doughnuts for all of the vendors – a sweet treat that we thoroughly enjoyed!
Photo Credit Lindsey Fauvre (left) and Dustin Lewis Photography (right)
There are so many different flavors, styles, and types of desserts you can choose from, that it’s easy to get bogged down. Don’t let it stress you out though! In the end, pick whatever appeals to your sweet tooth. As far as everyone else goes, listen to Marie Antoinette…let them eat cake!
We’ve all been to those weddings where the flower girl can’t stand still and just wants to be with her mommy. Or the ring bearer can’t stop fiddling with his too trendy for a toddler suspenders once reaching the end of the aisle. These things can be distracting, and can take the focus off of your vows and the overall ambiance of the ceremony. Luckily, we’ve seen a thing or two, and have some of the best tips to keep all of your little helpers calm during your ceremony!
Start training early
- While your bridal party may just need one rehearsal to get the routine down, your flower girl and ring bearer may need a little more training. Show them videos of other weddings to give them an example of how they are expected to act, or even throw a pretend wedding where they get to act out what they should be doing!
Make sure they’re comfortable
- If a child doesn’t like the tutu or vest you dress them up in, they won’t hide their emotions. So, to prevent a half naked or crying child from walking down the aisle, try making them a part of choosing their attire. If you give them a choice, they will be much more willing to cooperate.
Give them a little something to keep them occupied
- One of the best tips we’ve heard for flower girls at the Lesner Inn, is to put skittles or another of their favorite candies at the bottom of the basket. This gives them something to work for while they’re tossing the flowers, and keeps them occupied and willing to stand still during the ceremony!
Keep their parents close
- For any of those shy or attached children, have their parents sitting towards the front so they don’t feel uncomfortable. A familiar face can always calm a child down!
- After all, there will be cake at the reception :)
Dustin Lewis Photography
We know how it is. Your wedding day is a celebration, an all day celebration, and what better way to celebrate than popping champagne before the ceremony? Well, thankfully, we’re here to help you accomplish all of your celebration needs!
After many long and tedious hours of testing out champagnes from our wine distributors, we have chosen the best champagnes to get your pre-ceremony celebrations going! I know, we made such a great sacrifice to bring these celebratory drinks straight to you, but it’s the least we could do to show you all how much we love celebrating you and your very momentous occasion!
Check out how we can help you and your bridal party celebrate before the celebration, by clicking the menu below!
With the year 2016 ahead of us, we would like to say a quick thank you to all of our couples in 2015 who took the time to review their experiences with us. It means the world to us that so many people felt that their experience was worth sharing with other potential brides and grooms! As we reflect on 2015, we think it’s important to pat ourselves on the back for being recognized on Wedding Wire, The Knot, and for the first time in Virginia Living Magazine!
The Lesner Inn has been recognized for three years in a row as one of the best venues in the Hampton Roads area rated by couples on Wedding Wire. We have also been recognized on the Knot as best of weddings for the past 2 years, by our past brides and grooms. Now, for the first time, we have been recognized by Virginia Living Magazine as one of the top wedding vendors in Virginia Beach!
We cannot wait to see what the future holds for us, and we hope to keep these streaks going by providing excellent service to all of our couples!
As 2015 comes to a close, we here at Lesner Inn want to take a moment to reflect on what a great year it has been with both our social and wedding events. We have seen some of the most spectacular and creative uses of our spaces, most touching moments, most beautiful photographs, and so many other things that made 2015 at the Lesner Inn so memorable! For those of you who were married with us in 2015, we hope this first year of marriage has been blissful and we wish you all the best in years to come, and for those of you who held a social event with us, we hope to help you host an event again in the future!
Best Cake Display:
- Here at the Lesner Inn we see our fair share of beautiful – and delicious – cakes! But, by far the most beautifully executed cake would have to be from Jacqueline and Timothy Cleary’s wedding! Check out this awesome cake by Cakes by Crystal, and thanks to Skylar Watt for capturing this gorgeous cake!
Best Hash Tag:
- Coming up with a clever hashtag is not an easy feat. Most couples end up with a basic hashtag like #meetthesmiths. But Melinda Lackore and William Zackowski were able to come up with the cleverest mash up of names in 2015 for the hashtag #thebiglackowski! If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Big Labowski then you should appreciate this hashtag as much as we do! Great job Mr. and Mrs. Zackowski! Thanks to Elizabeth Friske for capturing their beautiful day!
Best Flower Girls:We want to hire these two as full time flower girls! They stole the show with their dashing escort of a ring bearer when they entered the reception hall. With some liquid courage from the sparkling cider, they tore up the dance floor at Ashley and Gary Jeager’s reception and showed us that little feet sure can move! Thanks to Skylar Wyatt for capturing their antics all evening — they definitely won best flower girls of 2015!
- Creative wedding themes are one in a million at Lesner Inn, but Ann Marie and Brian Ambler really took their marathon theme and ran with it! Being a couple who love to get their exercise in by the mile, Ann Marie and Brian made sure to incorporate their love for running into their day of love for each other. The thought and effort they put into this event makes them so deserving to be recognized for the best theme of 2015! Shout out to Daisy Torres for capturing these shots!
- Rosalie and Troy’s Pinterest perfect wedding set the bar high for couples who love DIY projects! From the guest book to the photobooth, their creativity and craftiness amazed us all. Take a peek at some of her unique touches below. Shout out to Shannon Moffit for the awesome photographs!
- Boat exits are definitely the most stylish way to leave the Lesner Inn, and we have to give the best exit of 2015 to Laura and Warren Adkins for this awesome shot of our building and their guests sending them off! Thanks to Tara Liebeck for capturing this image!
Best Toast Moment:
- Cindy was such a joy to work with in the months preceding her beautiful wedding day, and the team at the Lesner Inn has nothing but wonderful things to say about her. That being said, it comes to no surprise that the best toast goes to Cindy & Kyle from their wedding last May. Cindy fell to her knees being so overwhelmed by the love her friends and family shared for her and Kyle, and we have to thank Caitlin Gerres for capturing this moving moment!
Best Guest Book:
- Guest books are always a great opportunity to show off your creativity at your wedding, and are much more than just remembering who was there. That’s why we love how Autumn and Matt Harvey took the opportunity to get some last minute advice and well wishes from their guests with their “Wishing Tree” guest book! This creative guest book definitely takes the title of best guest book of 2015! Thanks to Sean Holder for these great shots!
- Choosing your bouquet and floral arrangements for your wedding can be an essential piece of décor not only down aisle, but during the reception as well. Recently, many brides have been choosing succulents as a part of their floral arrangements! Succulents truly stole the show this year when it comes florals, and nobody pulled off this trend better than Ashley and Nick Bankowski! We have to admire how beautiful these natural colors look together! Props to your florist Kelly Gish, and to Dustin Lewis for getting these beautiful shots!
Best Something Borrowed:
- When thinking about the age old tradition of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, what normally comes to mind are simple trinkets that just barely make the cut. But, Erin Langlands’ something borrowed stole our hearts with a touching tribute to her mother. Erin, with just a bit of revamping, wore her mother’s wedding dress and looked absolutely stunning, taking something borrowed to a whole new level! We wish you all the best in the years to come! Great shots by Ashley Lester!
Best Waterside Deck Décor:
- The Waterside Deck is known for its casual charm, so transforming this space into something more elegant can be a bit of a challenge. But, we have to give credit to ODU student, Brooke Webster, for single handedly putting her sorority’s holiday party together in our Waterside Deck at The Lesner Inn. With use of the amazing linens from Waterford Event Rentals, she created a winter wonderland with sequins and cheerful holiday décor! Thanks to Brooke, her fellow sorority sisters & their dates were able to have an incredible night on the water! Great job Brooke!
Best Lesner Hall Décor:
- Transforming your reception hall from a universal space, to a space that looks like it was created just for you on your wedding day takes a lot of work! It takes planning, trial and error, and a lot of patience! Lucky for us, we’ve worked with some of the best in the business and have seen some of the most beautiful combinations of color in our Lesner Hall. Our favorite for 2015, however, would have to be from Kimberly and James Speckhart! We love the gold sequined overlays, and soft pink florals! Great job to you and your team, and thanks to Amanda Hedgepeth for these gorgeous shots!
Best Day Time Wedding:
- Jenny & Denny’s wedding was, for many reasons, one of our favorites of the year! They tied in so many of their culture’s wedding traditions, while incorporating more modern traditions as well! From a caricature artist during cocktail hour, to traditional Indian dances during the reception Jenny and Denny pulled off the best day time wedding we’ve seen in 2015! Their colorful décor filled the room with so much love and joy, which definitely can be one of the many sources of the smiles across Jenny and Denny’s faces throughout the day! Shout out to Jason Jarvis for these amazing photos!
Best First Dance:
- If you’re wondering how to pull off the most romantic first dance, just ask the Johnson’s how it’s done. Sharise and Richard Johnson contracted Stage Right Lighting to “let it snow” during their first dance at their winter wedding. The effect was breathe taking and showed us all something we never thought we would see in the Lesner Hall! Way to keep us on our toes Johnsons!
Best Bad Weather Photo:
- When Mother Nature isn’t on your side, be lucky that your photographer always is! Rain or shine, they’re there to capture those precious moments that you don’t want to forget! Even with some dreary weather, Melinda and William Zackowski were able to score this beautiful shot by Elizabeth Friske and have an all-around beautiful ceremony and reception with us at the Lesner Inn! Such beautiful pictures are definitely deserving of the best bad weather photos of 2015!
Best Sunset Photo:
- The Lesner Inn has a reputation for gorgeous sunsets, which obviously makes for incredible pictures! So when it comes to choosing who was able to snag the most unforgettable sunset pic on their wedding day, we have a lot to choose from! But, by far the most memorable photo from 2015 was captured by Exposure Photography of Amanda and Marc Foreman!
Best First Look:
- Best first look of 2015 has to go to Jessica & Gary Ochs! One of the very many reasons we love our job and working in weddings is to see the grooms face after he sees his wife for the first time on their wedding day. This moment makes us all realize that true love does exist and we love to share these beautiful moments with you! Shout out to Amanda Hedgepeth for the awesome capture!
Best First Kiss:
- The anticipated words “you may kiss the bride” can strike both excitement and terror in the hearts of brides everywhere. The pressure is on to have the most perfect kiss, and Caitlin and Brett Antinori sure make this moment look as if they had been practicing all of their lives! These two were such a joy to work with, and we’re so happy to have had such an exemplary couple here with us! Best wishes to you both, and thanks to Alex Moring for snapping this precious moment!
Best Wedding Photos
- Wedding photos are one of the most important things a bride and groom will take away from their wedding day. From pictures with your squad to intimate pictures of the bride and groom they are pictures that you will look back on for years to come. Dustin Lewis is an amazingly skilled photographer who we have the pleasure of working with frequently at the Lesner Inn, and he was able to capture the most beautiful moments at Angelique and Andrew Mitchell’s ceremony and reception! This beautiful couple made Dustin’s job easy, but nonetheless deserve to be recognized for having the best wedding photos of 2015!