Earthy Chic Autumn Wedding Editorial

If there's one thing I love about planning weddings in the DC area, it's that the possibilities are endless. While DC is best known for its classic grand ballroom and opulent historic venues, this city has some hidden gems for those looking for something outside the norm. My goal in this editorial was to intertwine a nature inspired, organic setting with glamorous elements - an aesthetic that's best described as "earthy chic"!

Woodend Sanctuary was the perfect venue to bring this vision to life. Located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, the venue features a historic mansion surrounded by a sprawling, peaceful oasis of preserved nature right outside of our bustling nations' capital. The al fresco table scape, effortlessly chic bride-to-be, marble textures, subtle pops of lavender and soft pink were some of the intentional details that made this editorial so special. It turned out to be everything we envisioned and more thanks to an amazing, super talented vendor team and stunning images captured by Dani Leigh Photography. You may recognize some of these images from our Wedding Chicks feature, as well!

Loved this simple, yet elegant marbled invitation suite with deckled edges and copper foil, by Ruby the Fox

Wooden cross back chairs and farm table from Party Rental Ltd. blended seamlessly to Woodend's landscape. Is there anything better than al fresco dining during golden hour in autumn?

This hand-tied bridal bouquet by Jasmina Design was made up of greenery, eucalyptus and foliage, with lavender and cream roses. It was recently named by BRIDES as one of the best rose bouquets this year

We added pink glassware to tie in the floral tones, which really made the table scape pop.

Marble, wood and hammered copper were some of the organic textures that we tied into the table scape design. 

How amazing are these sugar flowers and copper sugar ribbon by Catherine George Cakes?!

Our awesome model Maura, looking stunning in Woodend's wildflower meadow. So many unique spaces for photo ops here! 


Venue | Woodend Sanctuary

Planning & Design | Sarah Kazemburg Events + Styling

Photographer | Dani Leigh Photography

Florals | Jasmina Design

Bridal Gown & Accessories | Couture By Posh Bridal

Hair & Makeup | Alison Harper & Co. 

Stationary | Ruby The Fox

Cake | Catherine George Cakes

Furniture, Linen & Tabletop Rentals | Party Rental Ltd.

Model | Maura Deegan

5 Must Have Tips For Your Wedding Day Timeline

Ohh, the wedding day timeline. Its something you may be putting off until the final weeks leading up to the big day for several reasons. One, because it's certainly not the most fun part of the planning process, and two, it sounds simple enough, right? Not so much! Us planners can tell the difference between a thorough and realistic wedding day timeline versus those which could potentially cause major wedding day hiccups.

Given that photography plays a major role over the course of the entire wedding day, I've asked some of the DC area's best wedding photographers for their tips on timelines to give you insight from both a planner and photographer's perspective. Read on to learn five must have tips to ensure your timeline is on point for the big day!

Dyanna LaMora Wedding Day Timeline

1. You need ONE master timeline

Decide early on which of your vendors is going to prepare your master timeline. Ideally, it should be your wedding planner working in conjunction with your photographer - someone who is going to manage your day from the moment you begin hair and makeup to the last dance at the end of the reception. I have seen brides with different timelines from their photographer, their venue, their caterer and their DJ and while it's great to have all this help, too many cooks in the kitchen can be a recipe for disaster! Think about it - if one vendor's timeline is even 10 minutes off from someone else's, it will cause a domino effect of a delay that trickles down for your entire day. This is why it's super important to have one timeline, and to share and review that timeline with your vendor team to ensure everyone is on the exact same page. For all of my clients, whether Event Management or Full Planning, I review the timeline in detail with each vendor and receive their input before finalizing. 

Wedding Timeline Tips Maryland Wedding Planner

2. Be generous with time for dress and prep 

Once your hair and makeup is complete, you will need to figure in a block of time for getting on your dress. To help get a realistic estimate, I suggest timing how long it takes to get your dress and shoes on at your final dress fitting appointment; then add sufficient time for bridal portraits on top of that. Bonnie, of Bonnie Sen Photography shared, "the most common mistake is not leaving some time for bridal portraits and putting on the dress. I like to draw it out to 30 to 45 minutes to include some posed photos of just the bride before seeing anyone."

Photographer Dyanna LaMora pointed out the importance of allowing enough prep time for your bridesmaids, as well. "Make sure you leave extra room for the bride and all her bridesmaids to get ready in the morning. If the girls run late with hair and makeup, the whole day can go off schedule and there will be less time for photos."

Maryland Wedding Planner Timeline Tips

3. Determine the sunset time

If you plan to do any wedding photos outdoors, its important to include the sunset time in your timeline. This will help guide the best time in terms of lighting for newlywed and wedding party photos. Bonnie recommends outdoor photos take place 30 minutes before sunset in the city, or 15 minutes before sunset in an open landscape. 

Depending on your wedding month, the sunset time will also help determine when your ceremony should begin and end, to allow your photographer enough time to capture those sought after golden hour photos! 

4. Know the length of toasts in advance 

Be sure to ask your best man, maid of honor, or anyone else giving a toast to time it out so you can include this in your timeline. Better yet, give your wedding toasters a time limit to keep their speeches under! Three to five minutes per speaker is ideal. There's nothing that throws your timeline off more than a speech or surprise photo slide show presentation at a wedding that lasts for 45 minutes; and yes, it happens all the time! Communicating expectations with everyone involved in your wedding day, especially those speaking, is key to managing your timeline. 

5. Leave sufficient time for newlywed and group photos 

Many couples underestimate the time it takes to capture newlywed, family and wedding party photos. The more generous you are with your photo time, the better! Dyanna suggests, "60 minutes for bride and groom, 30 minutes for bridal party, and 30 minutes for family formals is ideal." In many cases, you can manage this time by doing a first look and having your wedding party photos taken BEFORE the ceremony, then newlywed and family photos taken after the ceremony during cocktail hour. 

I hope these tips are helpful!  What  other timeline tips or questions do you have? Let us know  the comments below!

Images:  Dyanna LaMora & Dani Leigh Photography

Tips for Being Intentional When Choosing Your Wedding Venue

Woodend Sanctuary - Chevy Chase, MD (Image by Dani Leigh Photography)

Woodend Sanctuary - Chevy Chase, MD (Image by Dani Leigh Photography)

We're officially in the midst of holidays, and for us in the wedding industry, it's also a time known as engagement season - woohoo! According to WeddingWire, 40% of couples will get engaged during the months of November through February. Love is most definitely in the air! That means plenty of you will be kicking off your wedding plans as we transition into the new year. One of the first, and most important decisions you will make is choosing the location where you say your "I Do's" and celebrate your nuptials with all of your loved ones. Have you envisioned what your dream wedding day will look like? If not, now is the time to start! 

For those getting married in the District, Maryland or Virginia, the awesome part is that your venue options are plentiful. However, the most popular venues book up well over a year in advance during peak wedding season (late April through early November). Having two or more potential wedding dates, or better yet a season, will give you the best selection for venue options. If you're set on getting married in less than a year and need to commit to a venue ASAP, you will definitely find that having a wedding planner that specializes in your local area a smart investment. (Contact us to learn more about my Venue Scouting service) 

As you dive into the venue search, here are some tips to ensure that you are being intentional and efficient with your valuable time when choosing your perfect wedding venue. 

compile an estimated guest count

Before scheduling your venue visits, be sure to sit down with your fiance and any others whose input will effect your guest count. In most cases, those who are contributing financially to the wedding will have a say in the guest list. Based on your discussions, come up with a guest count range that your venue must be able to accommodate. Many venues have both a minimum guest count requirement, as well as a maximum capacity cutoff. I recommend that couples err on the side of the lower guest count, because it's always easier to add guests than to reduce them once you're committed to a venue and caterer. 

Your estimated guest count should be realistic for your budget purposes, as well. Booking the venue and caterer should not consume your entire budget - be sure to leave room for photography, flowers, rentals and decor, entertainment, and more!

determine your non-negotiables

Think about what your wedding absolutely must have. Have you and your fiance always dreamed of an autumn wedding with beautiful fall foliage, or saying your vows by the water? Make a list of your top three non-negotiables, and allow this to drive your venue search! If you want a spring wedding with gardens, greenery and nature, it wouldn't make sense to visit hotel ballrooms if they can't deliver on the vision you want. 

Will many of your guests be traveling a distance to attend your wedding? If so, you may want to consider venues which have on-site accommodations for your guests, or at least nearby lodging options, so they won't have to worry about getting lost in an unfamiliar area. Better yet, a venue that can host your rehearsal dinner and/or post wedding brunch is a lovely way to spread out the wedding fun for the entire weekend and spend more time with your guests traveling from afar. 

If it's important to you to be married in a church or house of worship, use your ceremony location to help determine where your reception will be. To be considerate of guests' time, the shorter the distance and "wait" time between the ceremony and reception, the better. Also, be mindful of the time of year your wedding will take place. If you are planning a wedding during the peak summer months, you should only consider venues which offer proper cooling and air conditioning to ensure the comfort of you and your guests. Melted cake? No thanks! 

what type of venue fits you as a couple?

Maybe your engagement came as a complete surprise, and you have no idea what your wedding day is supposed to look like. That's the best part! You can, and totally should curate your day based on your personality as a couple. How did you two meet? What are your favorite things to do together?

If you're outdoorsy and love spend your free time hiking or camping, a woodsy, off-the-beaten path venue may be perfect for you. If you're big-city dwellers and love all things luxury and grand, an high-end hotel or prestigious museum would appeal to you. Alternatively, a couple who wants a city wedding with a modern, avant-garde feel may opt for an industrial-chic art gallery. A couple who loves peaceful, romantic settings and the countryside may find that a European inspired winery or villa is their ideal location.

The entire wedding planning process should be driven by what inspires you as a couple and reflects your personalities, while taking your families and guests' interests into consideration, as well. Once you think about these important aspects, you will be much more intentional in which venues you consider - and when you look back on your wedding day, you won't just remember the "where", you will also know that special "why"

What's most important to you in choosing a wedding venue? Let us know in the comments below!