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Belmont event engages couples

Vendors at Belmont’s recent wedding sampler not only had tasty butternut-squash soup samples, pieces of almond cake and crafty business cards to give away, they also had great advice.

Their suggestions ranged from when to book your reception venue to how to get the most out of an engagement photo.

But one piece of shared advice among all was for the happy couple to remember that it is their day and no one else’s.

“Do what makes you happy,” said Amanda Deibel, owner of Amanda Dorian Photography in Madison County. “Don’t compromise too much.”

Amanda stood in front of a few large prints of photographs she had taken of brides and grooms in the area, including one she took at a fall wedding.

The focus of the photo was not the striking oranges and reds of the trees in the background, but the bride and bridesmaids laughing together. That joy is what makes the photos great, she explained, more than any landscape could.

Marriage Commissioner and Planner Tammie Gaines echoed that sentiment. She suggested that couples not worry about other people’s expectations. “Do what you want,” she said.

Her husband Mark Gaines, a wedding Disc Jockey, explained that while in the past weddings were bound by tradition and centered around what the couple’s parents expected, now they focus on what the bride and groom alone want.

Nicki Murphy, event captain at David Napier’s White House Catering in Richmond, repeated their comments. She encouraged samples of their popular crab cakes and barbecue, but emphasized that her company does not use set menus, because they want to make sure clients get exactly the food they envisioned for their big day.

“Communicate, that’s the key,” Murphy added, citing another piece of advice often repeated.

According to Murphy, this is the best way to ensure that you will be satisfied with their services and that everything will go as planned.

Steve Mathwin, catering director at University of Mary Washington Catering, shared a similar sentiment.

To make sure you get the service you want, he said, “you need to make sure your caterer really understands you.”

This is also the case for other services. According to Terri Pfaff-Roch, elite stylist at Salon 730 in Fredericksburg, open communication is key for getting your best wedding- day look.

She stressed the importance of having a consultation to discuss, plan and test makeup and hair far before the event.

Good communication is especially important for Lori Eggers, art director at the The Icing Baking Company in Stafford County. When she creates her popular couture cakes after she gets to know her clients. Then she is able to design a dessert exclusively for them.

The Icing created a couture cake for Spotsylvania resident Caressa Cameron, 2010’s Miss America, who wed in December.

Eggers, who uses inspiration from her past career as a toy designer for Mattell, decorated Cameron’s cake with lace and rhinestones.

It is also crucial for couples to be well-prepared and -informed when planning their wedding.

One of the most important ways couples can ensure a stress-free wedding is to book early. Most vendors recommended hiring their services at least six months in advance of the wedding.

Lisa Klima, sales manager of Fredericksburg Country Inn and Suites, said that the earlier a couple reserves rooms for the out-of-town guests, the better a deal she can give them.

According to Murphy, her catering company can sometimes prepare a menu in as short as a couple of weeks for extenuating circumstances, but generally needs half a year to get prepared.

It’s also a good idea for clients to have some grasp of the services being offered.

For example, Deibel said, a client who wants pictures taken during the “magic hour,” refers to the first and last hour of the day when lighting is optimal.

But there can be a downside to this .

“Pinterest [website] has been a blessing and a curse,” she said. While its great for couples to come in with specific ideas, Deibel says, not everything can be re-created and clients need to be flexible.

Wedding samplers are a great opportunity for brides-to-be to get a sense of what’s available and focus on what they want, and what they don’t.

“I love tasting the food,” said Stephanie Boudreau, a bride-to-be at Belmont.

Meg Frock, who was at the Belmont event with her sister, Kate, who is engaged to be married, said that it’s much easier to talk with companies in person.

It is the quickest way to get quotes and compare services, she added.

A piece of advice often overlooked when choosing services for your wedding is to seek out vendors who truly love what they do. Their passion will help in the day’s planning phase, and that enthusiasm will lend itself to more efficiency.

Jane Guerin, who owns Jane Guerin, flowers in Fredericksburg, falls into that category.

“I love my job,” she said. “I love it so much.”

She had a mock reception table set up at the Belmont event. The elegant round table was draped with a white tablecloth and featured one of Guerin’s signature flower arrangements, this one made up of pale-blue and yellow buds, which are popular this season.

Prior to specializing exclusively in flowers, Guerin was owner of Everything Gardening.

Now, she hones her arranging skills at workshops in places like New York. It’s there that she learned how to complement specific colors with certain flowers. She also explores the technical side of her craft such as the staying power of different buds.

Deibel, who works alongside her husband, said being a wedding photographer was her dream job.

That passion isn’t just necessary in those helping with the wedding, but between the couple as well.

Deibel said that the best photographs are of couples, who are relaxed and obviously in love.

Emily Montgomery: 540/374-5417



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