Let’s Get Personal: How to Start a Wedding Business (Without Really Trying)

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Images: Maggie Winters Gaudaen Photography

Did you guys have a good weekend?! Mine was chock full of driving & family time (as we spent 6 hours driving to NJ on Saturday for a family reunion). They shut down 95 northbound (not ideal) but at least we had a blast once we finally arrived. We’re headed out AGAIN this weekend – this time to Connecticut to visit my brother and celebrate our friends’ nuptials on a lake. Evie’s second trip on a plane this year – she certainly is racking up the miles for a just over one year old.

For today I thought it might be fun to share a little bit about how I became a wedding coordinator (thus the blog post title). I get emails from time to time from people in the DC area that want to start a wedding business, or are already in event planning but think about entering the wedding space and they often ask me to grab some coffee so I can share any tips or advice. It kind of makes me laugh because I actually have no formal training or certifications whatsoever in event/wedding planning. It’s literally something I just fell into … really without even trying.

Most of you probably know how the blog got started (but in case not: a combination of having too much fun planning my own wedding, seeing a need in the DC wedding scene for more common sense & practical weddings, and a desperately boring day job), but my wedding coordination business was not something I ever intended to get into. I graduated with a degree in Information Science & Technology from Penn State and still hold my IT consulting job by day – neither of which typically bring you into the wedding space.

But about a year after I started the blog, my friend Traci asked me if I would consider coordinating her wedding – she thought I would be good at is and she had planned so much of it … she just needed some help pulling it all together and making sure it all happened like she wanted on the wedding day. I thought it sounded fun (doesn’t everyone?) and after one of the most tiring and sweatiest days of my life, I thought, man, I think I could do this – like as a real side hustle.

 After Trey & JD’s wedding I learned some things (a skirt and flats are NOT appropriate attire when coordinating a wedding, there is such thing as a wedding hangover, and buttercream icing most certainly will melt in 95+ degree DC heat), but I also got totally addicted to the feeling I felt, helping two people, their families & friends, all have a huge party celebrating the love & commitment of two people. The wedding day high is such a real feeling (as are my swollen feet at the end of every wedding night), but what keeps me in the game is most certainly the emotion on my couples & their families’ faces at the end of the night — absolute, pure happiness & joy. When they thank me for helping to make their wedding day exactly as they imagined it, well it’s just such an awesome feeling.

So there you have it – the origin story of Capitol Romance Wedding Coordination – a wedding business I had never planned to start, but one I now couldn’t imagine my life without. It’s been an incredible journey this far and I can’t wait to see where it continues to take me and how many more amazing people I will get to meet because of it.

And for any of you inspiring wedding coordinators out there – though I don’t have much time these days to grab that cup of coffee and share my secrets (not sure I have many anyway ;-p ), feel free to let me know if there are things I could blog about that might help OR check out this new business venture my dear colleague Jasmine has started that I hope to help out with in the future.

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Janvi & Kavel’s Mixed Tradition Indian Wedding at the Dulles Hyatt in Virginia

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Images:  Potok’s World Photography, LLC

Here we are at another end of the week. As usual I didn’t blog nearly as much as I planned (I think we might all just want to accept this as the new normal … for the recent future anyway). I am working on getting some guest posts in place to help bring this blog back to its more regularly content posting, but man I am just finding it hard to find time to get ALL THE THINGS done. At any rate, Indian weddings are some of the most magical in my opinion – the traditions, the colors, the emotions – everything feels so rich and thick. The images from Janvi & Kavel’s wedding feel like something out of a movie!

Hope you all enjoy this gorgeous wedding inspiration post & have a fabulous weekend!!

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Janvi and Kavel were introduced to each other by mutual friends in 2014. They liked each other enough to start dating, even though he lived in Toronto and she in Maryland. After two years in a long-distance relationship, Janvi and Kavel united for good and tied the knot.

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Their July 2016 wedding mixed traditions from their respective families’ ancestral homes in Gujarat. On the first day, each alternated taking center stage for an elaborate series of blessing functions and exchanges of gifts.

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The second day kicked into high gear when Kavel rode to the ceremony on a white horse. After the couple exchanged vows, their families, friends and other guests celebrated raucously late into the night.

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Vendors –> Photographer:  Potok’s World Photography, LLC | Event Venue: Dulles Hyatt | Cinema and Video: Halaja Productions Video | DJ: Live Sound Entertainment | Makeup Artist: Mala”s Bridal Services | Submitted via Two Bright Lights

Helena & Stephen’s Romantic, Virginia Winery Wedding at Stone Tower Winery

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Images: Sam Hurd Photography

Guys I’ve been a horrible blogger – I know. But most of this is due to the fact that my submissions are at an ALL TIME LOW! IDK where all my submissions went (please come back!) but for any of you reading this – this blog only works because of the amazing vendors and readers that submit content to it. So if you have an amazing wedding you are sitting on, (or maybe it was yours!), or you got married and have some advice or insight into being a newlywed, or WHATEVER, I want to hear about it! This blog is not just wedding specific anymore – we post on life, love, parenting, business owning, and home decorating – so anything you’d like to share on any of those topics, we’d love to blog it! Hit me up: bree (at) capitolromance.com.

But for today I have the MOST GORGEOUS romantic winery wedding from Sam Hurd. This one is drool-worthy. Here goes.

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Helena and her parents came to the U.S. from Portugal when she was 4 years old. As immigrants her parents wanted a better life for their family, while keeping the Portuguese traditions with them. When she became engaged to her now husband she knew he was the right one for her because he also understood the importance of having Portuguese traditions in their wedding!!

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Although they chose not to have a traditional church ceremony, they were able to hold a traditional Catholic ceremony.

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READ MORE FOR THE REST OF THIS GORGEOUS VIRGINIA WINERY WEDDING

How to Freeze Your Wedding Cake (So You Can Actually Eat it On Your Anniversary)

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Image: Mathy Shoots People

We’ve got a guest post for you guys today – courtesy of our resident recent bride expert & rockstar wedding coordinator, Kara. Kara’s wedding, you’ll remember, was AWESOME and their cake was no exception. Key Lime cake .. it was delicious. Kara & Justin lovingly brought us a chunk after their wedding for Andy & I to enjoy, however they STILL had cake leftover even after pushing leftovers on family and friends and so they decided to freeze it and eat it on their first anniversary. Kara’s here today to share her tips and tricks for successfully freezing your cake!

How to Freeze Your Wedding Cake (So You Can Eat It On Your First Anniversary) | By Kara

Following our wedding last year, we found ourselves with quite a bit of cake leftover, including our top tier. We didn’t want any of it to go to waste since it was sooo delicious, so we followed tradition and decided to save our top tier for our 1st anniversary. I scoured the internet for tips and tricks for successfully freezing cake, and I’m happy to report it was a success! Here are the steps we took for freezing, and then defrosting our cake:

1. Start by freezing your cake. Just place it on a plate, and stick it in the freezer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. You just want the frosting to firm up a bit before you wrap it. Otherwise, everything will get smooshed and your frosting will stick to the plastic wrap. (ignore my overstuffed freezer!)

2. Once your cake and icing feel a bit firm, take it out of the freezer and tightly wrap it in plastic wrap. I found it was easiest to use 2-3 pieces of plastic wrap. Make sure you tightly cover every side.

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3. Next, you’ll wrap your cake in foil. Again, make sure its wrapped really tightly. This is another layer of protection from freezer burn.

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4. For one more layer of protection, I was able to fit my cake into a food storage bag. I squeezed all of the air out and then sealed it. Then just place it back in the freezer for the year.

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5. The day before you want to eat your cake, take it out of the freezer, and unwrap it. Hopefully, you’re cake is free of frost and freezer burn. Place it on a plate and leave it in the refrigerator so it can start to defrost (like you would with a piece of meat).

6. About 2 hours before you’re ready to eat the cake, pull it out of the refrigerator and let it come up to room temperature. Then just slice it up and enjoy!

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Jasmine & Devin’s Capitol Hill, DC Neighborhood & Home Engagement Pictures

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Images: Bowtie Photo

Another Monday, here we go! I LOVE love love at-home/neighborhood lifestyle engagement sessions. Really they are SO much more inspiring to me! Jasmine & Devin told their photographer that the most important places to them were their home, fav coffee shop & their neighborhood – so naturally that’s where they had their engagement session! The beautiful sunshine and dazzling smiles don’t hurt either. Happy Monday Romancers!

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How they met:

 

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How he proposed:

We had planned to hike the Billy Goat Trail on our anniversary. When we woke up, it was cold and windy and I was a total grump about going. But Devin insisted, rather uncharacteristically, that we go. We got to the top of a big rock overlooking the Potomac and stood for a moment. I was ready to move on but Devin stopped me and said “I like this rock.” I was totally weirded out and wondering how long we were going to stand there for when he asked me if I wanted my anniversary present and got down on one knee. The best part? We got photos of the whole thing! Devin had contacted my former roommate and close friend, a freelance photographer, to have him “stalk” us as we hiked so he could capture the big moment. We celebrated afterwards with bubbly at Old Angler’s Inn, where we held our engagement party later that year.

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Rebecca & Craig’s Super Fun, TV-Themed Wedding Outside Virginia

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Images: Jessica Latos Photography

I always get a little over-excited when fellow wedding industry peeps share their wedding with me/this blog! Craig & Rebecca’s awesome, TV-themed wedding is no exception. I have to absolute pleasure of knowing Rebecca as a fellow wedding planner/coordinator in the area. She is an absolute bundle of joy & SUCH a helpful resource for my/my biz. Her wedding to Craig is so insanely reflective of the two of them, you’re all going to LOVE it. So here it goes:

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Craig and I had been discussing getting engaged when two friends went on a weekend trip to Capon Springs. When they got back, they both emailed me separately and told me that we MUST get married there. Craig and I made a trip to visit on the final weekend that they were open for the year and absolutely fell in love with it, and booked our wedding right then and there. We loved EVERYTHING about it — the owners (the same family has owned and operated Capon Springs for generations) were just about the most lovely people you could ever meet, the setting was ABSOLUTELY stunning, and the food was exactly what we had always wanted — delicious, plentiful, and appropriately casual for our very non-fancy families! We booked the venue, got engaged a couple of months later (officially), and started on a year and a half of planning.

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It was important to us to have as many friends and family members involved in the wedding as possible. Because we’re a little older, a large number of these people have children, and since we love them ALL, we knew we had to have a wedding with kids…we just didn’t realize that this would lead to there being over 70 children on the guest list, most of whom were under the age of 8!

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Because our venue was at least 2 hours away for pretty much everyone, nearly all of our guests stayed on site, so we wanted to make our welcome bags really special. One of my former brides, Trish Willard, is a graphic designer, so as our wedding gift, she designed the logo for our welcome bags (which I then ironed on cotton tote bags) and water bottles. They included the phrase “I love you and I like you” from Ben and Leslie’s vows on Parks and Recreation — a theme we carried throughout our wedding, both on a banner at the reception and in our own vows.

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We wanted to involve the kids closest to us in the ceremony, so we planned on a little “parade” to kick off the processional with the kids carrying a banner (made by one of my former brides) and waving ribbon wands (made by the bride and groom!).

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For our first Christmas together, I gave Craig a copy of the book “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Monkton, so as one of our readings we had our friend Meghan read it to the kids — I dyed a drop cloth and we set it out for the kids to come sit on so they could hear better and look at the pictures while she read — everyone loved it! We also had a reading done by Craig’s mom’s best friend (Craig’s mom passed away before we met) from Justice Kennedy’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized gay marriage throughout the country.

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READ MORE FOR THE REST OF REBECCA & CRAIG’S SUPER FUN, TV-THEMED WEDDING!

Wedding Planning Advice: Logistics Are More Important Than Decorations

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Image: Capitol Romance Wedding Planner by Maggie Gaudean

Let me start off by saying that this might be a pretty unpopular post – in that a lot of bloggers, websites, and even my readers may not agree with me here. But after having worked/attended over 50 weddings in the past 5 years, I can’t help but share something I feel needs to be said. I think it’s critical for those of you planning a wedding to hear, and I think it’s the #1 most useful piece of advice for engaged couples to use for their wedding planning journey.

Logistics are more important than decorations.

There, I said it. I already feel better. Don’t you? The issue with attending weddings as a guest these days is that it’s almost impossible to completely remove my coordinator hat. I find myself thinking (ok, let’s be honest, mostly whispering to my husband), “if they had only moved this … if they had only accounted for that … if they had just put a little more time in for X …. this wedding would be SO much better”. Just like Hillary sweats the details of policy, I sweat the details of logistics on a wedding day, because to me, a well planned/coordinated day, that takes travel times, guest flow, and maximizing dance time, into consideration, always results in a fantastic wedding, with extremely happy guests, families & couples.

Blogs tend to focus only on details: look at how cool this chalkboard menu is, look at the intricacies of this hanging altar backdrop, check out the tri-color foliage of this bouquet … and while yes, details like this are gorgeous, they are not critical to the overall enjoyment of your guests. Think about the last wedding you went too – what do you remember? The centerpieces or how long it took to get your food? The color of the bridesmaids dresses or that there was no time left to dance?

Now before you get too mad at me – you’re looking at someone that POURED over the details of our wedding. I made my mom painstakingly hand-make each of our tulle & christmas ornament bouquets, and I fretted over each shade of pink we used and I counted out each number of pieces of the centerpieces. The details were important to me (and yes, they can be important to you too) but what I don’t want you to do is to focus entirely on the details and forget about the logistics & timing of the day.

When my team and I meet with our clients to build out the custom day-of timeline for their day, our #1 concern is ensuring that there is a flow to the day, room for some lateness, and most importantly, maximizing the time for guests to enjoy the reception. I can think of nothing worse than wasted time on a wedding day – because I know how much that wasted time costs (to the couple and/or their family). I’ve attended a wedding that looked straight out of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, but dinner was an hour late, and the 12 piece band literally watched us eat dinner (instead of playing) because things were so delayed. By the time we got to dancing – we only got to groove for 45 minutes. I attended another wedding where the toasts were given before any food was served. We all waited (not so patiently … hungry guests are not happy guests) for what seemed like forever, for the toasts to end … only to have to wait AGAIN for the salads to show up.

Consider pre-plated salads (woo hoo instant food when guests sit down and one less thing for servers to have to serve/cutting into your reception time) and doing your toasts while people are finishing up dinner – just a few simple ideas we propose to our clients when building the day of timeline. (If you’d like more consider hiring us to ensure your wedding day runs super smooth & effectively or buying our planning binder to help you manage it yourself!).

Regardless of the planning option you pursue, I urge all of you to take a step back from the seemingly stressful decisions of picking between ivory and champagne, or deciding on the perfect shade of blue, and remember not to let the logistics & timing of your day slip. Build a timeline or plan for your wedding day that considers your guests expectations, builds in buffers for travel or tardiness, takes the flow of your evening into consider, and maximizes your time having fun with the people you paid A LOT of money to celebrate with!  Put your logistics over your decorations and I guarantee you and your guests will have the most satisfying and smooth wedding day possible!

Tashana & Howard’s Super Chic Maryland Engagement Pictures

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Images: Mlaw Studios via Two Bright Lights

Another weekend come and gone and Andy is FINALLY done working insane hours. It was so nice to have a “normal” day together yesterday as a family – meeting neighbors at the local park, organizing & cleaning the office, and mostly just spending time together :) We have a great week ahead on the blog and I am looking forward to the not AS ghastly hot temperatures. Here’s a gorgeous engagement session to get your Monday going.

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I remember when I met this lady my now soon to be wife. I had nothing, she had nothing. She was fresh out of college just moved back to Baltimore. I had just lost my apartment due to me losing my job at the time. We exchanged numbers via Twitter. We talked on the phone for about 3 months just getting to know each other before we even went on a date. After the long conversations day in and day out we finally went on our first date. From there we never looked back.

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We built a friendship than built a relationship. We helped each other find jobs which we both lost and later found careers. It took me no time to realize that this was the woman for me! I thank spoke with her parents and got their blessings. I planned a surprise engagement party which then I proposed as soon as she came through the door, she cried I cried as she said YES! Till this day I still crush! We still build and we still grow! Love! #FrinksToBe

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Leslie & Noah’s SURPRISE Proposal at Nordstrom in Pentagon City, Virginia

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Images: Shoot Happens Photography via Two Bright Lights

Here I sit, anxiously awaiting the speech of the FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE and I am so stinking excited guys. I’m also prettttty pumped it’ll be Friday by the time you read this, because I’ve stayed up late the past few watching amazing, inspiring, heartfelt speeches and I am TIRED :) For today’s post I have the MOST adorable surprise proposal that took place at Nordstrom in Pentagon City Mall (you’ll find out why below!). I looooove the smiles in these images but I also love how detailed of write-up the groom to be gave me to share. So thorough! Happy Friday Romancers.

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How they met:

We met in high school (Bishop McNamara) in August of 2002 where Leslie was a Freshman and I was a Junior. We knew of each other in high school, but never dated. I was in a young-love serious relationship at the time. I didn’t know much about Leslie in high school except that she danced & played volleyball. I was a captain on varsity boy’s basketball team around that time.

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The proposal story:

(Back story); Leslie and I had been in a relationship for about a year when in the Summer of 2014 I accepted a position and relocated to Miami, Florida. Leslie stayed behind in Virginia. And about 9-10 months she accepted a position at mega-retail giant Nordstrom. So she moved down to South Florida and everything is going well… Fast-forward about 9 months I decide to plan a surprise proposal! So I hold a conference-call with her best friends who are in Texas, Delaware & Maryland to plan out the proposal and all of it’s fine details. I wanted the proposal to happen in our home state of Maryland so that the majority of our friends & family could share & celebrate the moment too…

The proposal would happen at the Nordstrom at Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia. This location is significant because prior to her re-location to Miami, Leslie worked there under her “favorite” supervisor, Michael. So I thought it would only be fitting & memorable to have it there and to include Michael in the plans. The plan is to get Leslie from Florida to Maryland to pull off an epic proposal!

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(Proposal plan); The plan is to get Leslie from Miami, FL to the shoe department at the Nordstrom at Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia on a Saturday afternoon without raising any suspicion to propose in front of our closest friends & family with a “ghost-photographer” capturing the candid proposal process. So the conference-call with her best friends had each person conveniently coming home on the selected weekend. The weekend that was selected was March 26, 2016 because it was the Easter holiday weekend & the weekend that her family celebrated her father’s birthday. THIS WAS THE PERFECT EXCUSE TO GET HER UP TO MARYLAND! So we chose that weekend, but 2 weeks prior, I flew up to Maryland “on business”, but it was really to talk to her father (for the sake of formalities & tradition) and to meet with the photographer, Michael & the store General Manager, Stephanie. The 45 minute meeting went great! I found out that on the same weekend, the store would be having a huge internal cosmetic & fashion show, which would be great because it would provide the needed “cover” for our friends & family to blend in unseen while Leslie would make her way to the shoe department. It would also allow me to have access to a DJ so that I could chose 2 songs that would alert our “guests” that the proposal was about to happen…

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So now the plans are coming together perfectly… After that I purchase the ticket to send her home on the afternoon of March 25 & purchase my ticket to fly home on the evening of March 25th. To avoid the possibility of us crossing paths & ruining the entire event, I send her to Ronald Reagan National Airport while I flew into Thurgood Marshall BWI Airport. So fast forward to March 25th I drop her off at the airport, then I run straight home pack a 3-day overnight bag for her dog, drop the dog off at the dogsitter and finally get back to the airport to catch my red-eye 11pm flight.

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On the day of the proposal, I get to the site to meet the DJ and give him the cue songs while blasting a mass text out to the guests giving them the songs to listen out for… Around 11:30 I meet with the photographer to finalize the plans, meet department manager, get a feel for the environment post fashion show and snap some candid shots of the ring (BLING-BLING). Around the same time I’m texting the best friends and they are literally 3 minutes from the mall having lunch. And still Leslie suspects & knows NOTHING. So the time comes, I believe it was 2pm where everything and everyone is in placed. Before my descent, I send out a mass text that it is “SHOWTIME”. So I’m upstairs on the second floor and I can see that the best friends have done a great job getting Leslie into place, all while going un-detected.

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So the cue song “Just The Way You Are” begins to play & I start my descent down the escalator. So I get to the bottom of the escalator and I see everyone even the best friends, but Leslie still doesn’t notice ANYTHING. So I walk up behind her with a shoe box full of fresh pink rose pedals with the ring and ask her if she will marry me…! Her first response was NOT to cry or say yes. Her first response was “What are you doing here? Where’s the dog? After I asked again she said yes with sheer joy & surprise once she saw the ring.

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