Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jeopardy, Family Feud at Your Holiday Party!

The busy Holiday Party season is right around the corner. Game shows are a big hit at these parties - people tend to loosen up, and have a great time with trivia!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

9 Wedding Splurges (That Are Totally Worth It!)

Courtesy MSN Living

9 Wedding Splurges (That Are Totally Worth It!)

The key to a standout wedding that'll have guests talking? You have to know what's worth a little extravagance.

Beyond the basics (dinner, dress, flowers) there are so many different ways to spend your wedding dollars -- from custom postage stamps to monogrammed toilet paper (seriously, it exists!). But one of the biggest mistakes you can make is blowing your budget on a detail that you end up regretting (when no one notices it). That's not going to happen to you, though. Here's a few of the most get-noticed totally-worth-it wedding details that'll add serious impact to your wedding day.

1. Lighting
The right reception lighting can help camouflage sore spots like less-than-stellar windows or even shabby ballroom curtains, and highlight your favorite details (such as the incredible centerpieces or your cake table). Have a lighting designer use colored lights to punch up a drab hallway and pick a different, complementary hue for the rest of the reception area. Decorative hanging lights, lamps with patterned shades or crystal chandeliers are also ways to transform a space from plain to standout exceptional.
The Upgrade:
Order a custom-made gobo light of your monogram, or project a design from your invitation over the dance floor.

2. Ceremony Decor
First impressions matter. A personalized ceremony space will make your guests feel at home immediately. If you're having an outdoor summer wedding, hang orchid leis, colorful ribbon streamers or sun-catching glass ornaments on surrounding trees. For church nuptials, have your florist create arrangements for the pews as well as the door. (Hint: Those arrangements can all be reused at the reception on the tables, at the bar and in the bathrooms.)
The Upgrade:
Ask your florist to cover a canopy with lush flowers and hanging votive candles or blossom-bedecked lanterns to really create focal points. Your guests' jaws will drop.

3. The Entryway
Often overlooked by wedding planners, the entryway can be given a little attention to create an unexpected wow. It doesn't take much, either; even the slightest bit of decor will personalize it. Hire your florist to create an impressive display for the escort card table. Right outside the reception hall entry, place a tall Manzanita tree decorated with hanging candles and flowers or a grouping of mix-and-match vases filled with rich flowers of various textures to match the rest of the space.
The Upgrade:
Ask servers to greet guests with glasses of champagne or a signature cocktail so that they feel taken care of from the moment they stroll into the room.

4. The Photo Booth
This is one of those nuptial ideas that made its way from totally niche concept to wedding reception standby. The reason: It works double duty. Your guests will take a whirl in the photo booth at least once in the evening (providing a perfect opportunity for mingling), and they'll get to take home their photo booth pics as favors at the night's end. Rent a photo booth that also provides an online gallery or a CD full of images, and that way you've taken care of your guest book.
The Upgrade:
With some rental packages, you can get projections of pictures from the photo booth. So while your guests snap shots inside the booth, the images will appear over the dance floor for everyone to see -- providing a great way to illuminate the room!

5. A Lounge Area
Give guests a place to mingle during dance breaks by having a lounge area at your reception. Look into renting couches, chairs and other furniture that you can then stage with pillows and votive candles in your wedding colors. It's the perfect way to involve everyone in the party even when they're resting.
The Upgrade:
Really want to wow 'em? Close off the area with curtains, draping and special lighting to create a VIP vibe.

6. Welcome Bags
Fill baskets or canvas totes with water bottles, wine or locally brewed beer, something salty, something sweet and a piece of fruit. Don't forget to include a welcome letter as well as a detailed itinerary for where the guest needs to be and when. Leave the whole thing with the hotel concierge for guests to pick up when they check in. And be sure to provide maps and lists of local restaurants, museums and other attractions in case they want to explore on their own.
The Upgrade:
Hire a videographer to create a welcome video of the two of you traipsing around the city showcasing all your favorite places -- edited with a soundtrack of your favorite dance songs.

7. Special Entertainment
Sometimes the best parts of a reception are the elements guests don't see coming. Surprise them with a jazz trio or a Spanish guitar player. To get the party going during the cocktail hour, hire a mariachi group, a bluegrass band or even a barbershop quartet to perform some seriously memorable melodies.
The Upgrade:
You'll blow everyone away with a marching band that leads them all from the ceremony to the reception on foot (if possible); belly dancers during the cocktail hour; or even break dancers to get things started on the dance floor.

8. Late-Night Snacks
Just when your guests think the fun is winding down, liven up the party with late-night nibbles to prepare everyone for an after-party. If you want to ensure the festivities will last all night, arrange for the caterers to bring out trays of late-night munchies like crinkle-cut French fries or fresh chocolate-chip cookies and milk shooters. If you provide low-key comfort foods, the guests will wish the party would never end. Another great idea: Offer a hot coffee bar complete with special syrups and toppings to keep folks caffeinated.
The Upgrade:
Jump on the latest cuisine craze with a fully loaded food truck arriving on the scene to dole out bites to guests. Think about it: Add a waffle truck, a taco truck or a Korean barbecue truck. The options are endless!

9. Draping
This is a pricey detail, but after you've draped your reception space, you won't even be able to tell it's the same room. The technique works for indoor and outdoor spaces: Create an intimate vibe beneath an open-air tent or lend some serious drama to an already cozy dining room.
The Upgrade:
Drape the reception entryway with gauzy white fabric or deep-red curtains to create the ultimate dramatic walkway.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bridal Show Survival Guide

The busy bridal show season is quickly approaching, with the Winchester Bridal Expo being the first large bridal show of the New Year in the DC area.  If you’ve never attended a bridal show, it can be a little overwhelming at first.  Bridal shows give you a unique opportunity to meet with a lot of wedding professionals, all in one place, all in one day.  We have outlined a few tips and ideas below to help you get the most out of your bridal show experience.

Here is the Bridal Expo’s top ten tips for bridal show success.

Save time by registering before the show. Registration only takes a few minutes and will save you from having to fill out a registration form at the show. You’ll skip the lines, and be ready to make your way in faster.

2.  MAKE CONTACT LABELSBring address labels with you phone number attached. Each vendor will most likely have a drawling for prizes at their booths. Instead of having to fill out multiple forms with your contact info, prepare some electronic labels before the bridal show. Information to include: your name, address, phone number, and email address & wedding date.

Bring a notepad and pen so you can take notes.  Write down contact info of vendors you talked to or thoughts you have while attending the bridal show.

Bringing a simple digital camera will allow you to quickly remember some of the great things you saw at the show.  Did you see a great dress during a bridal fashion show?  Cameras will also help you remember which booth you liked best.  Sometimes their cards and info will get lost, but if you see their booth, it will bring back conversations you may have had with that vendor.

5.  BRING PEOPLE YOU TRUSTBringing your friends, bridesmaids or close family members to the bridal show will help them feel involved and also give you a chance to share ideas back and forth.  They will be able to give you advice, or maybe they have used that particular vendor before.

The most popular and best vendors book their services quickly.  It’s pretty much a first come, first serve type basis.  Many wedding vendors will offer a “bridal-show-only” discount.  This will help you save even more money if you are able to find your vendor at bridal show.

7. DO YOUR RESEARCHKnow which wedding services you need before the show.  Also, try to find out which wedding vendors will be exhibiting.  You can usually find this information on the bridal show’s website, with links directly to each of the vendors websites.  This will help you know what questions to ask and allow you to visit those vendors you are particularly interested in.

8.  ASK QUESTIONS AND ALLOW THE VENDORS TO EDUCATE YOUIn most cases, the wedding professionals at bridal shows do not use high pressure sales tactics.  They will be able to provide you with valuable information that will assist you in planning your wedding, if you give them a few minutes of your time.

9.  WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOESYou will be on your feet all day, so it pays to wear comfortable walking shoes.  You may also want to leave your heavy coat in the car, so you don’t have to carry your winter coat around all day.

Plan on attending the bridal show for several hours.  Keep in mind that drawings for prizes (especially grand prizes) are typically made near the end of the show, and you must be present to win the prize.  This will allow you to visit all the vendors and find everything you need.

Above all – have fun!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bridal Expo Vendor Profile - Detailed Destinations

Detailed Destinations is the premier ground transportation service provider operating in the Eastern Panhandle. They have been proudly serving businesses and private individuals since 2007. Business owners rely on them for everything from getting their employees to the airport to getting the client to that important meeting. Private individuals enjoy the use of their limousine, old time trolley, or luxury coach vehicles for private events, special occasions, and weddings. With eight vehicles to serve the client’s needs, Detailed Destinations offers a transportation option for every occasion.

In addition to offering a wide selection of vehicles, Detailed Destinations is known for providing clean, comfortable vehicles that are driven by friendly, professional drivers. Their commitment to exceeding the customer’s expectations is evident from the very moment their driver pulls into your driveway.  To learn more about the affordable, yet sophisticated, ground transportation services offered by Detailed Destinations, call 877-724-8701 or visit

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sheila's Sweet's Gives A Wedding Cake Away!

The Bridal Expo is pleased to announce that Sheila's Sweets will be giving away a wedding cake at the 2012 Bridal Expo!  In addition to the Wedding Gown and Tuxedo giveaway promotions, the Wedding Cake giveaway will add a substantial amount of energy surrounding the Bridal Expo.  We are excited about the impact these giveaways will have on the Bridal Expo attendance.  Thanks to Sheila DuPlantis at Sheila's Sweets for such a generous giveaway!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bridal Expo Vendor Profile - Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design

Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design takes a fresh, modern, and artistic approach to Wedding and lifestyle photography. Every bride has a vision of her perfect day and wants beautiful photographs to show off after the wedding day has past. With Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design, each wedding shot is unique to, just as every bride and groom are unique.

Stephanie started her business in the spring of 2008 after obtaining her BFA in Photography & Graphic Design. She is very passionate about her work, and loves to capture those special moments in life. With a bachelor's degree in the field and many weddings complete, Stephanie and SLP+D understand the importance of a high education in the field and high quality photographs. Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design specializes in weddings, engagement, and lifestyle photography throughout the Shenandoah Valley, Northern VA, and beyond.

In addition to the photography services, SLP+D also offers graphic design services. Specializing in custom designed invitations, stationary, coffee table albums, and more for every brides need.

SLP+D is looking forward to 2012 and all the fantastic brides, grooms, and families we will have the chance to work with!

Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design
Owner/head photographer: Stephanie Timmerman

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bridal Expo Vendo Profile - Bluebell's Florist

Bluebells is a full service florist, and as such we create floral wedding decorations, funeral arrangements, and bouquets for everyday occasions.  We specialize in creative flower designs for any occasion.  At Bluebells we use the highest quality flowers and customize each arrangement to fit our client's personality and budget. Everyone is different, and we believe that flowers should be tailored to each individual - we prefer to let our creativity and the client's vision work together to result in truly unique arrangements made of the freshest flowers available.  We also carry a variety of home and garden accessories so you’re sure to find the perfect gift!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Brides and Weddings of Northern Virginia

Brides & Weddings is the only planning guide, website and blog devoted exclusively to the Northern Virginia wedding market.
Brides & Weddings of Northern Virginia is complimentary planning guide available in jewelry stores, reception sites, bridal salons, wedding fairs and The Registry at Bloomingdale's. Within its pages, the bride can find valuable planning advice and local wedding vendors. Brides can also find out what's happening on the Northern VA wedding scene with our website, and Bridal News Blog (

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The New Trend In Weddings - Uplighting!

Room Decor Uplighting is one of the hottest trends in weddings.  Uplighting ads color to the walls and architechure of your venue, creating a dramatic effect that your guests will love.  It also provides a great backdrop for all of your wedding photos!  Take a look at this bride's wedding photos from a recent wedding performed by The DJ Connection, and see the impressive effect uplighting has on her wedding reception pictures!

Bella Bridal and The Bridal Expo Announce "Win Your Dream Wedding Gown"

We are pleased to announce a new promotion for the Bridal Expo - Win Your Dream Wedding Gown, compliments of Bella Bridal.  This promotion will be heavily advertised in all phases of our marketing strategy, and is sure to create a buzz, and get more brides to the Bridal Expo.

We can't thank Bella Bridal enough for their generosity for this promotion, which will benefit everyone who participates in the Bridal Expo.  We have a lot of exciting new things we are doing to attract more brides to the Bridal Expo, and look forward to our best year ever!

Best Wishes,
Paul Beardmore/Producer
Winchester Bridal Expo

Great Wedding Cakes from The Sweet Tooth Bakery