Although every situation is different, we believe it is always best to send the couple a wedding gift. A couple planning their wedding is usually limited to the people they invite. You received an invitation because they truly wanted you to come and witness their special day. It never hurts to send something to acknowledge the relationship that the couple has with you, and values enough to invite you to witness them say “I do”.
Depending on the relationship between you and the couple, there are so many options of things to send. When returning an RSVP card, a handwritten note congratulating the couple is a touching way to acknowledge their special day. If you aren’t planning on sending a gift from the registry, tucking in a gift card to their favorite restaurant or a store on their registry is a nice touch.
If you’re planning on buying them a gift, start the search after you return your RSVP card. Although late is better than never, it’s best to have the gift to the couple by the wedding day or very soon after. As for the gift, it’s customary to buy something directly off the registry. Another common trend has been giving money for a Honeymoon Fund. Whatever it is, know that the couple will greatly appreciate your gift no matter if it’s modest or grandeur.
1) Let’s start with a love story… how did you and Nick meet? “Brace yourself because this is about to get really cheesy. Before Nick and I officially met we would always pass each other in the hallways at school. I immediately thought he was attractive but there was something else about him that was mysterious and unique. Nick and I officially met during one of our high school lunch blocks in 2007 when he asked to sit with me at my lunch table. The rest is history!”
2) When did he propose? “Nick and I love everything about Washington, D.C. We enjoy taking trips up there to watch our favorite sports team play, the Washington Capitals, or just to sight see. On January 4, 2015, Nick and I went to D.C. to celebrate our eight year anniversary at a Capitals game. Before the game we decided to walk around a bit. When we were near the monuments Nick asked if we could sit down for a minute. Being the stubborn person that I am, I kept saying I didn’t want to sit down because the benches were wet. Nick put his rain jacket down on the bench for us to sit on and asked me to put my phone down and look up. Next thing I know he asked me to marry him! I was so happy and excited that I kept staring at my hand in shock throughout the whole hockey game! He completely caught me off guard but it was so perfect. Shortly before our trip I had told a close friend, who was recently engaged herself, that if Nick proposed I would want it to be in DC so it could not have been more perfect!”
3) How far in advance did you start the planning process? “We got engaged in January and got married in October so I didn’t have too much time to plan. We knew that it was ideal to have a full year to plan but we also knew that we wanted a fall wedding so we just went with it We started the planning process as soon as we got back from DC! Buying a wedding planner book was extremely helpful because it kept me on a timeline and also brought small details up that I probably would have accidentally overlooked.”
4) Who were your vendors and why did you pick them? “This will be the lengthiest section because we LOVED our vendors. We absolutely fell in love with the Lesner Inn the minute we walked into the Open House. That’s actually where we met our photographer, Dustin Lewis, too. We liked him so much that we picked our wedding date based off of his availability. We picked Danny from Astro Entertainment after meeting him at the Vow Bridal Event. Nick and I are both pretty shy and we loved how outgoing he was. Danny and Dustin are both friends so seeing them work together at our wedding was awesome. They’re so creative and fun and bring good energy with them wherever they go. Dustin also referred us to our photo booth company, SnapQube (are you seeing a trend here?), who we adored. We still love looking at all of the photo strips in the album that they made for us. Waterford Event Rentals was next door to Dustin’s office at the time so we stopped in there to talk with the girls. They referred us to Kelly Gish, who did all of our flowers and centerpieces. The girls at Waterford spent so much time helping us fine-tune exactly what we wanted. They truly went above and beyond anything we could have hoped for. Kelly created the most beautiful flower arrangements I have ever seen for our wedding. She helped us with so many design aspects of our wedding and we can’t thank her enough. We used Duck Donuts and Carolina Cupcakery for all of our baked goods and they were fabulous. Neither one of us are cake people so the donuts and cupcakes were a perfect fit. All of our vendors were awesome and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
5) What were you most excited about for your wedding? “Marrying my high school sweetheart of course! But other than that I was so excited to have almost everyone we cared about in one space. Getting all dressed up and feeling like a princess didn’t hurt. I was super excited about the photo booth, donuts, and sparklers too. Nick and I both just wanted all of our guests to have a good time.”
6) Where did you get most of your inspiration from? “A wedding planner was outside of my budget so most of my inspiration came from Pinterest. I created separate boards for all of the major details that I wanted to focus on. Some of the boards included signs, flowers, centerpieces, groom/bridesmaid attire, etc. I would constantly pin away and then at the end of the week I would take a look at my boards. Eventually I saw a certain style that I was consistently going back to so I deleted any pins that strayed away from that style. It sounds silly but it helped me focus. Before I started doing that my ideas were all over the place. My florist, Kelly Gish, also helped me tremendously. She knew what kind of flowers I wanted and she helped me to work my colors and all of the other design aspects that I wanted around that. She thinks outside of the box and I love it.”
7) Did you have any Pinterest fails along the way? “Let’s just say that things on Pinterest look way easier than they are in real life! I had several Pinterest fails but thankfully none that were too catastrophic. The worst one was probably my seating chart. My bridesmaids actually put my seating chart together as I was getting my hair and makeup done the day of the wedding!”
8) What advice do you have for brides who are planning their own wedding? “I think it is very important to be realistic of your budget and what you are capable of. Don’t be afraid to call for backup or to ask your vendors for their opinion. Putting together a DIY wedding can be overwhelming so I found it the most helpful to break everything down into smaller tasks and to tackle one task at a time. It can be daunting to do it all on our own but try not to get lost in the little things. Focus on the big picture and don’t forget why you are doing it all in the first place. Don’t blink because it flies by!”
9) If you did it all over again, what would you do differently? “If I did it all over again I wouldn’t stress as much! No matter what you can’t please everyone and at the end of the day all that matters is that you are getting married! The only vendor related change I would make is to include a videographer. I thought it was something we could do without but when they say it will be over before you know it they are not kidding! I’d love to be able to play it all back in slow motion.”
10) What was your favorite memory from the wedding? “I have so many! I adored having both of our grandmas as our flower girls. That meant more to us than anything. Plus we didn’t tell everyone so it was priceless seeing everyone’s reaction. I also loved walking into the reception with my husband to Blink 182’s song ‘The Rock Show.’ Our first date was a concert and we love Blink 182. We were all about breaking traditional rules and just having fun with everything!”
Stay tuned for more spotlight weddings as the 2016 wedding season kicks off!
All photos credited to Dustin Lewis Photography!
What are we supposed to wear?This is the question that many guests struggle over. Is it a sundress and sport coat afternoon? Or a black tie affair? There are a few ways to address this concern in your invitation. The easiest way is to indicate the attire on the bottom of your invitation. A simple “black tie attire”, “casual attire”, or “cocktail attire” will do the trick. A quick Google search will give you a wide selection of phrases to pick from. But for the bride who does not want to clutter her invitation with lots of words, there are more subtle ways to get the message across. Darker colors are more formal than light pastels, thicker invitations are more formal than thinner. Make sure your font reflects the overall atmosphere too. If you are having more of a laid back wedding, stay away from flowing scripts and calligraphy.
When am I getting my invitation?Typically guests should expect a save the date 6 – 9 months before the wedding (even sooner than that if it is a destination wedding) and the formal invitation 2 – 3 month prior. Lesner Inn requires a final guest count 2 weeks before the wedding so make sure you build in enough time to call guests who have not RSVPed yet! 3 weeks away from the wedding is usually a safe bet.
What do we need to include with the invitation?This is up to you. We have seen invitations that are as simple as a time, date, and place and some that have multiple cards stuffed into the envelope. At bare minimum, include an RSVP card along with pre-addressed and pre-stamped envelope. It is a small gesture but it goes a long way in making sure your guests send those cards back promptly. If you are having a plated meal with more than one entrée, make sure to allow space for menu selections.
Can my boyfriend come too? Are my kids invited?This is always a question that brides ask us. When making your guest list, consider that some people may have plus ones and others may not. If your guest does not know anyone else at the wedding but you and your S.O., consider giving them a plus one. The same goes for married or engaged couples, they typically will expect a plus one. As far as boyfriends or girlfriends or wedding dates, that is completely up to you! This is your wedding. The kid issue is always hard to address as well. If you are inviting the whole family, address the invitation to ‘The Johnson Family’. If you do want their kids to attend, simply address is to “Mr. & Mrs. John Johnson”. Some brides will even make a polite request that their wedding be an adult-only affair.
What is your wedding website?In the past few years, we have seen a HUGE increase in couples with wedding websites. For non-millenials, it may seem a little silly but wedding websites are a great way to present guests with information instead of answering text message after text message. You can include your registry, ceremony info, hotel blocks, and a little more information about the bride and groom. Many guests enjoy getting to know your significant other before watching you walk down the aisle to a stranger. Give them some fun facts so they get to know your loved one a little better.
But how do you tell guests about this? You can publicize it on your Facebook, include it on your save the date or even send a small card with the website in your invitation envelope.
More questions? Talk to your stationary company! We guarantee they have heard every question in the book!
Many dresses these days could be shortened or altered to turn them into cocktail dresses but we have to ask…where is everyone wearing these white dresses? You can’t wear it to a wedding so unless you make a habit of attending black tie galas, it would be hard to sport again. Consider dying it a fun color or the classic black.
Have a professional photoshoot
You could always do the trendy “Trash the Dress” session but what about a thank you to your parents if they paid for the big day? Take cues from a group of sisters who all got together in their wedding dresses for a professional photo shoot for their parents as a show of gratitude. All 5 sisters zipped their dresses back on to document a moment that their mom and dad will cherish forever.
Rachel Blackwell Photography
Donate the dressFor the altruistic bride, consider donating your dress. We have rounded up 3 great charities that accept pre-worn wedding dresses for you to consider. Brides Across America – Donates dresses to military brides Every Girl’s Dream – Provides dresses to brides undergoing financial hardships in the Southeast Michigan area Wish Upon A Wedding – Grants weddings and vow renewals to couples facing serious illness or life altering circumstances
If you plan on baptizing your future children into your church, consider turning part of your dress into a christening gown for them. You can use it for your big day AND their big day!
No, we don’t mean wear it to work. Though that could be fun too… What about taking the skirt of your dress to a seamstress and have it tailored into a fun tulle skirt? You could knock your husband’s socks off on your anniversary with a flirty, fun fashion piece. Bonus points if he recognizes it.
Put it around your neck
There are plenty of vendors online who will turn a small part of your dress into a pendant for a necklace. Check out The Lace Studio on Etsy!
Remember the special day every Christmas by taking a scrap of lace or a part of your veil and memorialize it in a glass ornament.
If your dress is still stylish, take it to your nearest bridal consignment store to make back some of your money. Shops will accept dresses as long as they are in good condition and have been professionally cleaned. You can recoup 50% of their sale price if it sells! For Virginia Beach brides, check out Silk Bridal for a fantastic selection of gently used and runway dresses.
Create a garter or bouquet binding
For mom’s who have daughters that can’t wear a family dress, you can create a garter for them or use some of the fabric to wrap the stems of her bouquet. That checks something old off of the list!
Donate it to a theater
Many high school and professional theaters will gladly accept a dress to expand their costume department. And how would it be to see your dress take on a whole new life?
Your wedding dress will always be special to you but being able to create a keepsake, earn some cash back, or make someone’s dream come true can be even better!
- What is the difference between a consumption bar and a host bar?
- Why should I get a food package? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to have an a la carte menu?
- What is a vendor meal and do I have to feed them?
- Buffets, plated meals, stations, heavy hors d’oeuvres…which is most popular?
- I’m allergic to….can you work around that? My aunt is a vegetarian, do you have anything she can eat?
Thursday night - The Welcome Party:
This is most often hosted by someone in the bridal party, a family friend, or someone in your extended family. Either way, it’s a party to welcome all out-of-town guests, and get everyone pumped up for the weekend fun. They can be as casual as a backyard cookout, or a meet & greet at a restaurant or bar.
Friday night - The Rehearsal Dinner:
The rehearsal dinner is typically the night before the wedding, but the location and vibe of this gathering can range from casual to classy. We’ve had couples hold this at their home with a simple home cooked meal, or get together at a restaurant to keep it stress free! Consider holding your rehearsal dinner at Bubba’s, a Virginia Beach local favorite for seafood!
Saturday Night - Ceremony & Reception:
It’s show time! Say “I do” with a view in either of our beautiful spaces on the water - Lesner Hall & Sunset Deck or Waterside Deck!
Dustin Lewis Photography
Sunday - The Next-Day Brunch:
A next-day brunch is a great time for the bride & groom to say their thank you’s & farewells again before they jet set on their honeymoon. Not to mention, it’s a great way to cure that hangover with some mimosas or bloody marys!
We know that planning a whole weekend of entertainment sounds stressful, but, we’ve got you covered! The Lesner Inn has packages if you book your wedding weekend with us! You could have your Rehearsal Dinner at Bubba’s, followed by your Ceremony & Reception at The Lesner Inn, & your next-day brunch at The Back Deck. We offer 5% off your food items for both Bubba’s & The Back Deck – and would discount your room rental at The Lesner Inn!
Though the charm of Virginia Beach lingers year-round, along with spring comes an additional burst of beauty in our Beach City. Sand pushes up on the dunes, grass returns to its natural green, and the greenery begins to boast their loveliest buds. We can’t help but be captivated by this city when it comes to life in the spring and now, with wedding season in full bloom, we’re pulling inspiration from last spring’s Lesner Inn weddings! If you’re wedding day is right around the rose bush, check out these color palettes for inspiration!
With the first day of spring only 2 days away, we find it fitting to say goodbye to winter by putting the spotlight on Sharise & Richard’s beautiful winter wedding on the water!
Sharise & Richard held their reception at The Lesner Inn, after tying the knot at Hampton University Memorial Chapel on December 19, 2015. They rented the entire venue, hosting cocktail hour in our Waterside Deck, followed by the reception in our Lesner Hall. Saying it wasn’t one of the most beautiful weddings we’ve seen in our building would be a flat out lie. Sharise, her mother, & the team at Morlina Events did such a great job planning every detail! Everything from the DIY centerpieces, to the snow that fell out of thin air during their first dance was perfection!
The couple picked a palette of cherry red, navy blue & silver for their wedding design.
Their first dance as Mr. & Mrs. was to “Let it Snow,” as snow literally fell out of thin air – thanks to Stage Right Lighting!
Mr. & Mrs. Johnson were able to get a picture with every guest who attended the reception. How could you not be tempted to take picture after picture with the crystal backdrop provided by Stage Right Lighting, and the breathtaking view from our Lesner Hall and Sunset Deck? Not to mention their sweetheart table, which was covered by a glitz sequin linen provided by Waterford Event Rentals.
We would like to thank all of the vendors who participated in making this event so successful, and we hope you all consider them while planning your wedding!
Photographer: Bryan Myhr Photography
Wedding Planner: Morlina Events
Linens & Chair Covers: Waterford Event Rentals
Uplighting, Snow Fall, Crystal back drop: Stage Right Lighting
Whether or not you’re serving alcoholic beverages at your wedding, there are so many up and coming trends with beverages that we hope you consider while planning your wedding at the Lesner Inn! From the ceremony to cocktail hour and cocktail hour to the reception, here are our favorite trends for wedding libations!
We love the idea of serving beverages during the ceremony, especially on a hot summer day! Keep your guests refreshed with a glass of iced tea, lemonade, or infused water while they sit on our Sunset Deck waiting to greet the bride!
Or, for winter weddings, provide your guests with a mug of hot cocoa while they keep warm in our heated Waterside Deck!
Also trending in weddings is having multiple signature drinks during cocktail hour (and in some cases for the whole evening) rather than just one or two! Signature drinks are a fun way to provide your guests with beverage options they may have never tried before! It will remind them of your wedding every time they order it at their local bar!
Heather Hughes Photography
Another huge trend is having scotch & bourbon tastings during cocktail hour! Instead of just mingling around cocktail tables, your guests can pretend like they’re actually learning about fancy scotch and bourbon!
When your guests migrate upstairs for the main meal, have wine brought to the table! One bottle of red, and one bottle of white will keep the class at an all-time high during dinner service!
Once the party really begins, show off your hometown by stocking the bar with local beer and wine during the dancing and entertainment!
Ross Costanza Photography
Try adding sangria to any of these essential portions of your wedding day! It can be made for any season, and is such a refreshing libation at any time of day!
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!
One of our favorite weddings was in May of 2015, where Kimberly & James were the first couple to take part in the metallic trend here at the Lesner Inn! Their décor featured gold sequined table linens from Classy Event Rentals in our Lesner Hall, paired with florals in white and shades of pink. This bride was ahead of the curve with this trend, and set the bar high for Lesner Hall events! Thank you Amanda Hedgepeth Photography for capturing this photo!
More recently, Sharise & Richard used a silver sequin linen at their sweetheart table for their winter wonderland wedding! Check out this adorable photo of the couple from Bryan Myhr!
At our 2016 Open House, our Waterside Deck was dressed in metallics with everything from the lighting to the table décor. Stage Right Lighting provided these beautiful gold metallic pendant lights (pictured left) to accent the cocktail tables in the space. However, couples are using rogue chandeliers and pendants as accents to any area! Hang them from the arch during your ceremony, in a trendy lounge area, or even over your guest tables!
Check out the metallic table linens used at our Open House below, provided by Isha Foss! Thank you to Matt Boozer Photography!
Angelique & Drew used these beautiful gold metallic chairs for their ceremony on our Sunset Deck! These chairs are such a fun and simple way to bring a little something extra to your event space for much less than if you were to rent them through an outside vendor! We will set them up for you in your chosen event space for $3 per chair! These metallic gold chairs even look great in our Waterside Deck! Thank you Dustin Lewis Photography!
Even wedding cakes are being decked out in metallics! But don’t worry, they’re edible! Check out this cake from Cakes by Crystal!
Skylar Watt Photography
Metallics don’t stop with décor though! We saw beautiful metallic bridesmaids dresses at Brooke & Kris’ May 2015 wedding! What a fun way to tie this trend into your wedding! We wish we could have worn these trendy bridesmaids dresses for our friends’ weddings!
Who knew that we were trending when brought gold glitter table numbers and rustic metallic lanterns into the mix? Available to rent at your Lesner Inn event, we’re here to help you stay on top of the latest wedding trends!
Keep checking in with us to see what’s on the rise, and what’s already passed in wedding trends!
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