Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events…Desi & Marilyn…Celebrating 25 Years

It’s not that often that you hear of couples celebrating 25 years of marriage.  For the team at Perfect Planning Events, we had the opportunity to celebrate and applaud this magnificent milestone with Desi and Marilyn Crouther on August 23, 2014!

*Connecting silver to the 25th wedding anniversary may have originated in Middle Europe, specifically in the Germanic region, according to Hallmark’s website.  Traditionally, a husband would give his wife a silver garland marking 25 years. The silver symbolized the “harmony” that people believed a couple needed to sustain a marriage for such a long period of time.* (*from Hallmark.Com and  The 25 Year Celebration of Desi and Marilyn was one that centered around a foundation of love and family which was shown throughout the planning of this wonderful celebration.  Marilyn contacted me within 45 days of the day this was all to occur and asked that our team to carry out the details and the design of this remarkable day.  Marilyn, a business executive, was planning this 25 year milestone as a surprise to her husband and mums the word!  Imagine carrying this secret event without him finding out – it was a major task that we definitely accomplished!

The venue, Magnolia Farm –  their retirement home, which was named after the state flower of Mississippi which is where Marilyn and Desi originated and graduated college, Mississippi State.  Marilyn thought the farm was an excellent location because the farm wasmississippi-state-bulldogs-script-logo-primary4079205966_c5df7a03c2 her husband’s inspiration for their continued future to relax and enjoy their life, and he (Desi) was celebrating his retirement from work one day before the big day!  The barn was the backdrop and focal point.  The decor represented a rustic theme surrounded by things that incorporated the love of the couple and their family.  The table decor incorporated willow twist and natural yuma linens, mason jars for the southern sweet tea accented with chevron straws, natural floral decor with wooden boxes, sage candles, drift oak farm chairs, and gold trim base plates.  Additional decor, we provided the guest with a taste of vintage Coca Cola (Marilyn’s favorite beverage).  As the guest arrived, a vintage hot rod was at the entrance of the barn which greeted guests as they arrived.  Also as a guest entrance, Marilyn showed me a picture of a sign that she liked, so we created our own sign that incorporated some of the couples favorite love songs.

The celebration began with the ceremony.  The morning of the wedding, Desi, finally knew that something more was going on – he thought the celebration was a small gathering of close family members – however, when he was introduced to the complete production, he knew and he was excited about re-creating the love he shared with Marilyn.  The ceremony attendants were dear and special to their hearts, their kids.  The guests included 80 of their closest family and friends.  The ceremony was held outdoors under the tent with the Virginia Mountains in the background; our altar incorporated lush floral atop vintage wine barrels.  Later the guests were transitioned to the barn where they enjoyed a scrumptious array of food (all of the couples favorites) and desserts (German chocolate and red velvet cake, vanilla butter wedding cake – favorites of the couple) provided by Tasteful Affairs and Edibles Incredible.  Toasts were presented by some of their closest friends followed by a welcome toast of love by the couple.  Marilyn and Desi then presented their original wedding party attendees from 25 years ago with gifts of appreciation of their support throughout the years.

Once dinner was completed – it was time to party!  The guests were then escorted back to the tent to move and groove to the sounds of Lugo Entertainment.  Desi, Marilyn, their kids along with family and friends danced the night away celebrating what really was the foundation of their life – Love, Family, and Friends!  BTW, don’t you love the cowboy boots that completed Desi and Marilyn’s attire!


Special THANKS to the following wedding professionals that helped to make this day a success:   Us – Perfect Planning Events (decor design)  |  Tasteful Affairs (catering)  |  Lugo Entertainment (deejay)  |  Michael’s Flowers (floral decor)  |  A Perfect Image (photography)  |  Edibles Incredible (cakes)  |  Select Event Group (tent, chairs, chandeliers)  |  DC Rentals (base plates)  |  BBJ Linens (linens)  |   Curtis Taylor Quintet (ceremony and dinner entertainment)  |  Joy Burgess (soloist)  |  Susan Carter (soloist)

Photography Credit:  A Perfect Image Photography

10 Benefits of Hiring a Professional Wedding Planner

According to a survey conducted by, the average wedding budget in 2013 was $28,000. The Washington D.C. area ranked at the 13th most expensive city to get married in with an average wedding costing $37,500. The invitations, reception, flowers, limos, rings, THE DRESS, hair, make-up, photography – with wedding budgets pushed to the limit, why hire a wedding planner?

Many DIY brides feel perfectly capable and very excited to handle every single detail of their wedding and are great at handling all the stress of juggling vendors, schedules and budgets and successfully forgo hiring a wedding planner. But, some brides may not have the time or the know how to handle it all and find the process overwhelming. And yet other brides simply need help keeping mom happy and out of the process!   Whatever the situation you find yourself in, we have 10 reasons why you should consider making some room in your budget to hire a pro.

Connections, Connections, Connections

Just like location, location, location is the mantra for real estate, connections, connections, connections should be the mantra for wedding planners. A good planner will be able to make recommendations on reputable vendors to help create your perfect wedding day. A great planner has experience with a variety of vendors and can recommend one who bestajw_0218 suits the needs of their bride.

How Much Will That Cost??

Once you, your fiancé and/or parents settle on a budget; you need to make sure to stick to it. Your wedding planner can help you allocate a percentage of the budget to each vendor you decide upon for your nuptials.   When choosing your wedding location and vendors, your planner will keep the budget in mind to recommend vendors in your price range. Your planner can also keep track of deposits paid to your vendors and remind you of when the next payments are due so you are never late.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That! Oh Wait, Your Planner Does!

Have you done a Google search for florists in your area? The numerous results can be daunting. Not to mention you still need to research each potential vendor to make sure they are reputable and won’t leave you hanging! Not everybody has the time or the patience it takes to handle each and every detail of planning a wedding.

Because You Can’t Clone Yourself! A Planner Make Choices for You When You Don’t Have the Time

As you work with your wedding planner they will get to know your taste and can help make certain decisions for you to free up your time. When you are running really short on time and just can’t make a meeting with potential vendors, your wedding planner may be able to attend the meeting in your stead and make informed choices for you keeping your theme, budget and taste in mind.

Enjoy, Celebrate, Love

Your wedding day will be over before you know it – all the more reason to be fully present in the moment and celebrate to the max. However, on the day of your wedding there are so many moving parts to make your special day come together; which means there were many, many things that could go wrong! But with a wedding planner, you, your fiance and your family can sit back, relax and enjoy because the planner will handle any issues that come up and they won’t bother you with the details.

Etiquette Minder

Your wedding professional can assist you when it comes to etiquette questions and proper wording for your invitations. They can also, tactfully, handle moms and to-be mother in-laws who want to have their two cents taken into account. Your planner can not only get the moms off your back, but it can also save a lot of hurt feelings and disappointments when a pro can handle the situation with grace.

Your Best Friend Will Get Sick of Hearing Wedding Details

From card stock choices for your invitations, to the infinite choices of dresses in the bridal magazines; your best friend will eventually tire of all the wedding details. Help save your friendship by avoiding dumping all of your ideas and stresses on your bridesmaids and talk to your planner. As the bride, you need a dependable outlet for all of your wedding energy. Your wedding planner is your judgment-free partner in all of the wedding chaos.

Makes Your Dream Comes True

Some brides have had every details of their wedding planned since they were a little girl. Others need some help focusing their vision. And that’s ok! Your wedding planner can workajw_0706 with you on taking your sources of inspiration and turning them into your dream wedding.

What Did I Just Sign?

Did you hear the one of the hotels in New York charging the wedding couple $500 per each bad review guests leave on Yelp? Many vendor contracts are long and boring and tend to be glazed over by many. It’s important to read your contracts and find any ‘unusual’ terms. Your planner can not only help you navigate the contract language but also negotiate on your behalf to get extras included. Your planner will work for your best interest.

Beat the Clock

Your wedding professional can space out everything that needs to be done before your wedding day over the time so that you get the vendors you want and don’t stress out about time or have to crunch to get everything done in a few short weeks because you procrastinated.

Whether you chose to plan your whole wedding yourself, hire a professional for all the planning, or even hire a planner for the week before and day of your wedding, make sure to enjoy the process of planning your special day. Your wedding will be over in the blink of an eye.


Author:  Jennifer Armstrong, Blogger, Perfect Planning Events

*Photographs are real weddings of Perfect Planning Events provided by Paired Images*

Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events…Florn-Cacioppo Wedding

The love and energy that transcended with this couple was infectious!  Jim & Angie, a vibrant and active couple began their courtship with each other on a century ride (100 mile bike ride) from Washington DC to Dewey Beach, DE.   During this 100 mile trek, Angie encountered several mishaps with her bike and Jim was there to the rescue each and every time.  After Angie’s long uneventful bike ride, Jim offered to take her home, and from there their love for each other began to blossom.

Angie wanted to incorporate their personalities within their wedding day from the feel of the decor to the beginning of the day with sentimental vows based on the childhood character, Dr. Seuss!  And Jim, a craftsman by trade, was an excellent artist in creating the wine box that was used during the ceremony which stored special love notes they had written for each other, to the wood table numbers that were on the guest tables during the reception.  Angie requested for a purple-eggplant decor, so I incorporated a creme cameo leaf check table linens with a hint of shimmer sparkle with eggplant moire linen napkins, with the cake table with an elegant romance champagne crinkled textured linen, topped with rustic wood framed chairs.  Upon producing an inspiration board for Angie and Jim, she indicated she had a friend that was a floral designer that she wanted to assist with the florals for her special day.  Angie’s friend, Stacy Gaudutis was spectacular at providing a whimsical design of floral bouquets for the ceremony and reception which matched perfectly with our rustic design.

The day began with a magnificent weather and a beautiful view overlooking a breathtaking Virginia landscape.  As guests arrived they were entertained with the melodic tunes from local guitarist, John Ware.  After completing their Dr. Seus vows and saying, “I Do”, they welcomed guests with a special dance choreographed by Jim and Angie to the sound of “In the Mood” by the Glenn Miller Band.  Surrounded by family and friends, they celebrated the night away full of joy and love.

And as their vows to each other based on Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You Will Go”, I will leave you with their special saying from the first and last verse:

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Special Thanks to the Wedding Professionals that helped to make Jim and Angie’s day a success:

Event Planning – Perfect Planning Events  |  Photography – Paired Images  |  Ceremony & Reception Venue – Sunset Crest Manor  |  Officiant – Wedding Ceremonies by Jeff  |  Catering – Legends Catering  |  Floral Decor – Stacy Gauditis  |  Deejay – DJ Dark Fader  |  Ceremony Musician – John Ware  |  Bartending Service – ProBar Serv  |  Wedding Cake – Fluffy Thoughts  |  Make-Up Artist – Dawn Newsome  |  Transportation – Reston Limousine  |  Linen & Chair Rentals – DC Rentals


Unplugged Weddings – How to Control the Cyber Frenzy

blog picture 3Hyperconnectivity – this term is becoming fairly common now that most people have smart phones, tablets, and digital cameras with Wi-Fi. These days it’s common to sit through a meal or special event with family and friends where someone pulls out a device to check their email or update their status on a social network. While some brides welcome the numerous devices capturing their special moment, the “unplugged” wedding is gaining favor with the newly hitched.

Unplugged weddings started with celebrity couples getting married and wanting to keep the details under wraps in order to have some privacy during the ceremony, and some even to sell the images from their wedding for large sums of money. Now the trend is trickling down to the non-celebrity bride. The Huffington Post, The New York Times, ABCNews and others have covered the unplugged wedding trend. While an unplugged wedding may not be for everyone, some brides simply want to be the first to post the best possible pictures to their social networks rather than a play-by-play by their guests.

From a photographers view-point, an unplugged wedding can be game changing. A professional photographer knows how to set-up a shot and capture the best from the subjects. They have high-quality equipment and know how to use it. The average wedding guest snapping away pictures on their mobile phone camera and instantly uploading them to Facebook and Instagram can not only be a distracted guest and a potential distraction to the wedding party, but they are also uploading low-quality images to the web. These guests could also be getting in the way of a shot the paid photographer is trying to get, or worse, have their phones or other devices up to their faces in a shot that a photographer is tryingblog picture 2 to get of the guests. A photographer can do very little about an overzealous guest who gets in the way of pictures or uses a flash which causes the professional image to be washed out.

So, how does a bride politely ask a guest to put their phone and camera away during the ceremony? First thing would be to make an announcement on your wedding website. Spread the word through your guests so they already know to expect the unplugged policy. A nicely worded and decorative sign and a note in the program at the ceremony serve to gently remind guests that you want them there enjoying your special day with you and not documenting it. Or, before your nuptials, the officiant can ask guests to put their cameras down and be completely present during the ceremony. offers some great tips on wording so you can still get the unplugged wedding you want and not alienate your guests.

The flip side to the unplugged wedding is the very much plugged in reception. This can even take place of the cheap and terrible quality disposable cameras on the guest’s tables and allows guests to participate and take pictures from their view-point. You can encourage your tech-loving guests to take as many pictures as they want during the reception celebration blog picture 1and then share the pictures with you using hashtags or on your wedding website – thus controlling the cyber frenzy. Many photographers now offer digital copies of your wedding pictures that you can share with your guests. Regardless of whether you feel that an unplugged wedding is the way to go or a connected wedding is right for you; remember that your wedding day is about you and your fiancé and the love between you both – your guests will fall into the vibe you set and celebrate along with you both.

Author:  Jennifer Armstrong, Blogger,  Perfect Planning Events

Real Weddings by Perfect Planning Events…”Summer Love, Sarah and Russ”

We were humbled to be a part of the Mastrorocco-Sprunger family when they asked us to assist with coordinating Sarah & Russ’ wedding day.  This happy couple was filled with love and with an infinite burst of happiness each and every time you saw them.  What started as kindred friendship as graduate students at Kellogg Northwestern University, evolved into a bright future for this couple.  Strong family backgrounds and family bond from each side of their families bridged a fortress of infinite support and love for Sarah and Russ.

Their wedding day was a day of pure joy!  The smiles on everyone’s faces transcended from the start of the day til the end of the night.  The day was bright and shiny, perfect weather for a summer day!  The historic Cathedral of St. Matthew The Apostle in Washington, DC set the stage for Sarah and Russ to say I do!  The Cathedral provided a sense of serenity and a place of peace to celebrate the union of this lovely couple.  After pronouncing their love for each other and becoming one, they engaged with their guests for a family photograph on the front steps of the church and served them a summer tasty treat from Scoops2U!  Ice cream anyone?!

In route to the reception site, the newly married Sprunger’s and their close friends toured downtown DC for a some fun photo moments that were captured by Maria Vicencio Photography…what a way to take advantage of the District’s main attractions.

Sequoia Restaurant of Georgetown served as the host location for the continued wedding celebration for dinner and dancing.  Guests were able to engage in a romantic atmosphere provided by Sequoia with its multilevel outdoor terrace nestled on the banks of the Potomac River, and its creative nautical decor with its stunning fiber-optic chandeliers at center stage.  Oh and the cuisine was divine!  Guests danced the night away with the joyous sounds provided by DJ Juan Leon of MyDeejays.

Joyous Summer Love describes Sarah and Russ’ special day!  We were honored to be a part of their celebration and many thanks to the wedding professionals that helped to make their day a memorable occasion.

Russell & Sarah Sprunger  |  May 31, 2014

Special Thanks to:  My Team-Perfect Planning Events, Father Michael Kelly, Cathedral of St. Matthew The Apostle, Sequoia Restaurant, Michael’s Flowers, Maria Vicencio Photography, Video Express Productions, MyDeejay, Georgetown Cupcake, Roche Salon Georgetown, Prime Transportation, Reston Limousine, Scoops2U.

Photography Credit:  Maria Vicencio Photography

Ways to Save for Your Wedding based on Time & Flexibility

You’re engaged now and it’s time to plan your special day that includes celebrating with family and friends, and starting a new chapter in your life. There is so much to do and so many facets of planning that can be overwhelming to anyone. The first step in the process is to determine your budget to help guide you through the planning process. wedding-budget-6Without a defined budget, the planning can become a little chaotic. So, where do you start to determine how much of an investment you are willing to put forth? As a standard guide, food will be approximately 45% of your budget; the venue will be approximately 20%, floral and décor approximately 15%, photography approximately 10%, and so forth. Statistics for the wedding industry indicates that the average wedding is around $28,000*. Last year, the average cost of a wedding was around $30,000*; a record high and a sign that the economy was moving in a positive direction.  This average varies by geographical location. For example, comparing major metropolitan areas versus rural areas, New York City had the highest average of $87,000*, rural areas such as Idaho the average was $17,000*, and my local area Washington, DC the average wedding is around $37,500*.

With a little explanation of wedding costs and you have determined your budget, the next step is to govern the number of guests that will be in attendance which has a tremendous impact on your budget. Third, determine what is important to you to navigate the percentage that you will invest for items for your wedding. Fourth, be realistic and wise with your budget, and do not go into debt to have a wedding; invest in what you can actually afford. Last, relax and set guidelines to keep yourself on track.

Now that we have established guidelines for the budget process, let’s discuss avenues in which you can save money to plan your wedding day. In this discussion, I want to focus on, Timing & Flexibility, in the following possible ways to save – Venue, Food & Beverage, and Floral Décor – all which revolve around time and flexibility.

The wedding venue is the location in which you will say “I Do”, take your first dance, and celebrate the night away with family and friends. The wedding venue to most has sentimental value or has the romantic ambiance that you are looking for to host such a special occasion. To reduce cost in this area of planning, timing and flexibility, play an essential role to your investment. I recommend to aid in cost reduction to be flexible with your date in regards to the time of year and day of the week. Most venues have peak periods when the negotiation for cost will be very minimal, so ask your venue coordinator what are the non-peak periods in which the cost of hosting an event will fit more into your budget. Most non-peak periods are in the winter months, however, it does depend on the location; example the Mid-Atlantic area might be flexible during the winter months than areas like Florida when it’s warm all year round. Scheduling your wedding during a non-peak time could reduce the cost anywhere from 15-20%. Also 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-073based on timing, if you are flexible, is the day of the week. Traditional weddings occur on Saturdays (the most popular day), however, if you are open to a non-traditional day consider hosting your wedding on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Sunday. Weekday and Sunday weddings have become popular based on the premise of the lower cost to entertain during the week. The savings for weekday wedding range from anywhere from 20-40% – a huge savings if you are flexible to hosting during the week.   When speaking with your venue coordinator acknowledge your budget in the beginning of the conversation, next ask with your established budget how and where you can save to host your day at their location.

After you have established the location, it’s now time to determine the delightful part of planning, the food! There is an old cliché that says “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” – food! I say “the way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach” – with food! The word food alone encompasses love, passion, sharing, and it’s always the perfect ingredient to have the perfect gathering. The first advice that I share in regards to food is to make sure that it is scrumptious, and that it feeds the heart and soul. Next I want you to consider time and flexibility (think non-traditional). The traditional wedding reception is the standard evening dinner that contains a beef, chicken, or fish entrée, preceded with the traditional hors d’oeuvre selections. Now think, non-traditional, consider hosting a brunch style reception starting around late morning or early afternoon. The style of service for brunch receptions can either be served, buffet, or interactive stations (omelet station, waffle station, potato bar). In addition, since this is an early reception you can also limit the amount of alcoholic beverages hosted since many of your guests will not want to indulge in heavy alcohol during the early hours of the day. Creative beverage cocktails that embrace tantalizing spirits can be Mimosas, Bloody Marys, Bellini’s, Irish Coffee, etc.; these types of refreshments are light and refreshing for an afternoon brunch. The excitement around the brunch is that your guests that commonly attend events or weddings, have the opportunity to taste something different and have fun with some of their favorite breakfast treats. Brunch receptions that I have hosted in my market average around $85 to $100 per person versus a dinner reception around $175 to $200 per person. If you are flexible with the time of day for your reception, you can ultimately save, save, save.

To coincide with food, your beverage selection is another route to consider alternatives to reduce cost on your special day. My first suggestion in this area is to limit your beverage selection from a full bar to just wine and beer. To add a little spice to your selection, create 2 specialty cocktails in which its ingredients is one source of alcohol; have one cocktail for the gentlemen and one for the ladies. The second suggestion is to eliminate alcoholic beverages from the bar completely and have mocktails. Some mimosasflavorful and interesting mocktails are the Reno (a grapefruit based cocktail), Sweet Sunrise (similar to a Tequila Sunrise but hold the Tequila), and Virgin Mary. Have your venue or caterer to be creative with various types of punches, teas, and lemonades. Add a little sparkle or fizz to the drink by adding non-alcoholic choices such as ginger beer, root beer, or seltzer water. The third alternative, if you are hiring an outside caterer, purchase the alcohol yourself and purchase it from a beverage company in which you can return bottles/cases that have not been opened. You can save as much as 50% by purchasing the alcohol yourself rather than having the caterer to purchase the alcohol for you. This method only works with an outside caterer, unfortunately, you would not be able to purchase alcohol yourself when hosting your wedding at a hotel or a venue that does its own catering.

The last suggestion to help preserve your financial resources during the planning process has to do with your floral selection. As you have seen in my conversation there is a continuous theme, time and flexibility…time is key also when selecting flowers. Consider the time of year when selecting flowers; select flowers that are in season year round. Flowers in season include baby’s breath, calla lilies, carnations, gardenias, orchids, roses, hydrangeas. Although orchids are in season year round, phalaenopsis Pope Wedding342orchids are more expensive than dendrodium orchids. Same scenario with hydrangeas; your typical white or blue hydrangea is less expensive than a purple or pink hydrangea. When discussing flowers with your floral designer, inquire with them about what is in season, how you can achieve the same look that is cost effective for you (be flexible with the selection), and ask if their source is from a local grower or from a source outside of the area/US. Other options when working with floral décor is to re-purpose flowers from the ceremony to the reception. Be flexible with your design style. You may have the desire to want tall floral arrangements on every table, however, to reduce cost consider alternating high and low centerpieces for your tables, or alternating floral centerpieces with trio of cylinder vases with floating candles. Implementing some of these options can save anywhere from 10-20% off of your floral budget. Be sure to work closely with your floral designer and be open to alternative design concepts.

In summary, your wedding day is special because you are marrying the person that has won your heart and soul, and you are sharing the love you have found with your closest family and friends. If you are flexible with considering alternatives and flexible with time, you can plan the perfect wedding with the perfect budget!


Photographs of the table decor designs are real weddings by Perfect Planning Events; Photography credit – Procopio Photography and DHT Photography

(*Source – CNN Money –

Rehearsal Dinners – The Blending of Families…Family, Where Life Begins and Love Never Ends

Couples are surrounded by the many facets of planning their special day, and right22 before saying “I Do” to each other they want to unite all those that are near and dear to them to celebrate right before the big day. The American tradition to merge families right before the wedding day is the rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner is a pre-wedding ceremony activity usually held right after the wedding rehearsal and the eve of the wedding. Although it is a tradition that is not required, I feel that this event is a time when the happy couple can have a private celebration with their dearest family and friends to unite, reflect, and celebrate right before emerging into an ocean of individuals that they may or may not have the opportunity to engage conversation with on the big day.

In my years of working with my couples, I have found that the rehearsal dinner can either be a simple process or it can be as complicated as planning the wedding day. To ensure that your rehearsal dinner is not as complicated as your wedding day, I would like to provide you with some helpful tips to make this a joyous occasion for you.

The Guest List. As highlighted in earlier conversation, the rehearsal dinner is a time to celebrate in an intimate setting with your dearest family and friends – so who would that be? The primary guest list should include – the wedding party, parents, grand-parents, 004Brunch_ClientAppreciation-HRthe spouses of your wedding party, siblings and their spouses. The secondary kindred persons would include, special aunts and uncles, a dear friend that is not in the wedding party, your officiant (if there is a close relationship), or other close relatives or friends. The rehearsal dinner guest list is contingent upon a couple’s budget in order to conclude who will be invited; however, the primary attendees are those that deserve an invitation to attend.

The Budget. The budget is contingent upon the number of individuals invited. On average, rehearsal dinners I have organized for my client’s range from 25 to 50 persons in attendance. Once you have decided on the guest list, consider the location of your rehearsal dinner. Restaurants can vary in price – $30 to $50 per person; this usually includes a 3 course meal with beverages to include soft drinks, iced tea, lemonade, and coffee service. If you desire to include libations with your meal service, look towards the higher spectrum of $50 plus per person. When hosting at home, the price varies on a large-scale. If the family is providing all of the elements including preparing the meal themselves, the cost can be as low as $15 per person for food alone; or if you decide to hire an outside caterer, the cost ranges from $35 to $60 per person. Additional costs to factor when hosting at home would be tent rentals, accessory rentals – chairs, tables, flatware, tableware, etc. Home based rehearsal dinners all depend on the elements you want to involve – ranging from inexpensive to more than the cost of hosting at a restaurant.

The Location. My favorite locations for rehearsal dinners are restaurants and at home-based locations. Restaurants provide all-inclusive amenities and services to host rehearsal dinners, and they require the least amount of labor for the couple. When engaging the services of a restaurant your tasks are as simple as selecting a scrumptious 021Brunch_ClientAppreciation-HRmenu, providing an accurate headcount, and arriving to celebrate. There is no setup or breakdown required on behalf of couples. To ensure a smooth process, pre-select the menu before arriving(within 3 weeks), choose a cuisine that will not be served on your wedding day, ensure that the restaurant has a private room for you and your guests. When pre-selecting your menu, choose a family style option or a duet style entrée to keep the night simple for everyone involved. Your guests will have a robust selection on your wedding day, so choose a meal for your rehearsal dinner that is the opposite of the entrée selections from your wedding day – provide variety! The intimacy and celebratory of the night should always be hosted in a room that provides privacy. Some restaurants may have a minimum food and beverage cost to secure a private room, but it will be worth it so that you are not in an open environment with other guests of the restaurant. Some of my favorite restaurant locations include Maggiano’s Little Italy, Teddy and The Bully Bar, Wildfire, and Columbia Firehouse.

Rehearsal dinners hosted at a family home are intimate and exciting also, in addition they provide a more relaxed and casual environment but require moderate to heavy labor for the couple and the host of the dinner. Home locations are best for backyard barbecues, picnics, or inside small sit-down dinners. The benefit of home based rehearsal dinners provides an overwhelming sense of relaxation for the family because everyone is celebrating in a familiar environment. The cons associated with a home based rehearsal dinner are the intensity of the preparation, setup, and breakdown which is primarily the responsibility of family members and the couple. Because there is so much love in the air, the love outweighs the cons with hosting a home based rehearsal dinner. To alleviate some labor intensity, based on your budget the family could consider the following: (a) hire a catering company to provide an informal style menu – the catering company would also to a degree be responsible for setup, serving of guests, breakdown, and would be there during the duration of your event to ensure its success; (b) if the family wants to prepare their own menu for the event, then hire a staffing company to come in to serve during the event; or (c) hire a wedding planner such as Perfect Planning to be responsible for all elements of your rehearsal dinner. Catering companies can range from a restaurant that provides off-site catering, such as Famous Dave’s (a very cost-effective concept), who has been fabulous when I have contracted them to provide barbecue style menus for my client’s rehearsal dinners, to a full service catering firm such as Tasteful Affairs (moderate to expensive concept) that provide a couture menu based on the needs of the individual. Additional things to consider for a home-based event are renting of tents, chairs, linens, etc. which can be sourced from a local rental company like DC Rentals or Select Event Group.

The Activities. The rehearsal dinner is a time to unite family and friends in an intimate environment on the eve of the wedding. My clients usually ask the question, “What do we do at the rehearsal dinner?” Don’t over think the event; remember to keep it casual, relaxed, and fun for all involved. Communicate to those invited either through a casual or formal invitation in the mail to a uniquely designed e-vite (I only believe that e-vites can be used for an event like this, not for the wedding), and make sure to provide them with a date to R.S.V.P. During this celebratory night, this is a great time for the couple to give thanks to their parents, provide special gifts to the wedding party, opportunity for the parents to provide a special welcome to the guests and show support to their kids, show montage video of the couple’s life together, and to just have fun!   And before the night is over, provide the wedding party with a timeline overview of the wedding day activities to ensure that they will be on time the next day.

In summary, when organizing the rehearsal dinner keep it simple. This is a time of blending families and close friends before the big day! Provide an intimate and relaxed environment, and remember to have fun. “Family is where life begins and love never ends” (author – unknown).


(photography credit:  Evelyn Alas Photography |  photographs from events planned by Perfect Planning Events)

Bridal Brunch DC 2014 presented by BlackBride.Com in collaboration with Perfect Planning Events & Fallon Carter Weddings


I am overjoyed to share this blog with all of you because of its importance to me and the first time something has been created for the Washington, DC area.

Last summer I was contacted by Mary Chatman, CEO of BlackBride.Com, and she shared her desire to bring to the Washington, DC market a unique bridal show concept (Bridal Brunch) to capture the beauty of women of color.  The first bridal brunch by BlackBride.Com was May 19th, 2013 at the Akwaaba Mansion in Brooklyn, New York planned and hosted by Fallon Carter of Fallon Carter Weddings.  Excited and delighted to take the challenge as their second stop of the bridal brunch series and to serve as Washington, DC’s local event planner and host, I briskly went about connecting with my wedding industry colleagues that were at the top of their craft in the wedding industry.  Month by month, and step by step the plan of this wonderful event came into motion.  Bridal Brunch DC opened its doors for one day, Sunday, March 9th, 2014.  This couture boutique style bridal showcase included a fabulous seated brunch fare, live entertainment, interaction with the industry’s best wedding professionals, fashion show, and a professional panel for the Brides to ask questions regarding their special day.  The event was the first of its kind, and it provided a great opportunity for wedding professionals to have a personalized experience with potential brides and grooms in a unique bridal setting at the beautiful and historic Carnegie Library in Washington, DC.

The results of the show – FABULOUS!  The Brides stated that this was an intimate affair created just for them.  It was certainly a honor and pleasure to serve as the event designer and producer for this extroadinary affair.  Special thanks to Mary Chatman of BlackBride.Com and Fallon Carter Weddings for allowing me this amazing opportunity – it was a pleasure partnering with you!  Many thanks to the wonderful wedding professionals (sponsors and exhibitors) and area panel members in the Washington, DC metro area for collaborating with me to make the event a success!  My first bridal show produced- accomplished!


Mary Chatman serves as the CEO & President of since taking over the company in late 2010 through acquisition. With over 20 years of corporate experience in Global Business Development and in the fashion modeling industry, Mary began writing for the site while operating Love Life Designs six months prior to becoming the owner. has been the premier online resource for brides of color since 1998. It has been around for the past fourteen years as the ultimate wedding companion for planning the most romantic and important day of a woman’s life. The company provides definitive vendor resources for brides in every aspect of wedding planning, including new trends in fashion, designer wedding gowns, photography, accessories, food, honeymoon travel, destination weddings and so much more. (excerpted from BlackBride.Com).

THE PANEL:panelist photos


Events DC – The Carnegie Library
Tierra Floral Design
Caribbean Caterers
Soliloquy Bridal Couturefull flyer for bridalbrunch2
House of Jonlei Altelier
DJ Angie D Entertainment
Michael Clark Photographers
Frame Magic Productions
Couture Cakes by Sabrina
Mareta Creations
JJ&T Entertainment
Dawn Newsome Make-Up Artist
Defined by Deana LaRae
Gala Cloths
DC Rentals
Showtime Events

Emerald Stewart and Her Amazing Model Friends

THE RESULTS (photography credit:  Michael Clark Photographers)…click on photographs to enlarge view and for caption credits!


Events by Perfect Planning…Munaluchi Bridal City-to-City Tour, Washington, DC

Early Winter 2013, I had the privilege of planning a spectacular event for the fastest growing bridal magazine for women of color and multicultural weddings in the U.S. and abroad – Munaluchi Bridal Magazine!

fw2013cover-singleMunaluchi Bridal Magazine was founded in 2010 by a dynamic husband and wife team, Jacqueline and Chike Nwobu of New Jersey.  While taking charge of their powerful careers, they began a second career as photographers that traveled the world taking photographs of very diverse, chic, and elegant weddings.  As they captured these dazzling images of their clients they wondered how can we showcase this hidden beauty that has not had the opportunity to grace any major magazine.  So they had a vision to create  a magazine.  After countless hours of research and the diligence to produce a product that would be adorned by all, Munaluchi Bridal Magazine was created.  They created a format to provide a vision and a stage of sophistication for women of color whom are major contributors in a $160 billion wedding industry.

The name of the magazine, Munaluchi, derives from a combination of two African names, Ethiopian and Nigerian; when combined means “Beautiful Work of God”.  The ideal canvas and description of the audience in which exemplifies their target audience – all women of color.

The night of the event was breathtaking.  It was an honor the day I received the phone call from the Owners/Editor-in-Chiefs, Jackie & Chike, to take on the responsibility to organize this celebration for the magazine.  There was relentless and outstanding collaboration with some of the best wedding professionals in the Washington, DC Metro area.  The highlight of organizing this event, was that I had the opportunity to collaborate with my idol and someone who I highly admire, Mr. Andre Wells of Events by Andre Wells – celebrity wedding and event planner.  Our host location was the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington, DC – a boutique style hotel for the chic and progressive professionals of Washington.  To create the final touches to the night, we had the opportunity to collaborate with some amazing wedding professionals in the industry:  Evelyn Alas Photography, Janet Flowers, Deejay Tye, and Frame Magic Productions.

Hats off to all of those involved.  Special thanks to Munaluchi Bridal Magazine for providing me with this rewarding opportunity.  Looking forward to future event collaborations.

Perfect Planning is an Honored Member of the Munaluchi Coterie Collection.

You can get your copy of Munaluchi Bridal Magazine at your local Target or at selected Barnes and Nobles stores nationwide.

Now preview the video our spectacular event captured by Frame Magic Productions.  And photographs by Evelyn Alas Photography.

And photographs by Evelyn Alas Photography.

Real Weddings by Perfect Planning….Jason & Virginia

A little Korean culture and a mixture of WebMD was the story of the gorgeous wedding of Jason and Virginia.  The sophistication of black and white transcended into the ballroom to exude grace and elegance just like our Dr. Virginia Park.  The main ingredient that made this Bride’s day was the vast array of sweets on the never-ending sweet bar, and the star attraction on the dessert menu – a cotton candy machine!  It was sweet, sweet, love!

Special thanks to Procopio Photography to narrate this love story through their photographic art.

110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-001 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-002 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-003 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-004 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-007 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-010 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-020 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-021 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-022 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-026 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-027 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-038 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-046 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-048 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-049 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-052 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-053 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-057 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-059 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-062 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-063 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-064 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-066 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-067 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-069 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-072 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-073 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-074 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-075 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-076 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-078 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-079 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-080 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-093 110213-Procopio Photography-Park Wedding-094

Wedding Highlights:

Wedding Date – November 2, 2013

Wedding Location – Sheraton Premiere, Tysons Corner, Virginia

Wedding Flowers – Dendrobium White Orchids

First Dance – A Thousand Years by Christina Perri

The Wow Factor – Never Endy Candy & Dessert Buffet, and Cotton Candy Machine

Bilingual Ceremony – English & Korean translations

Special Thanks to:

Sheraton Premiere Tyson’s Corner

Procopio Photography

L’Artisan Lily Floral Couture

Lugo Entertainment

Poshbooth Custom Photobooths

Ejung Hair Studio

DC Rentals

and the team at Perfect Planning