Last month we had the great pleasure of providing music for Mark and Ron’s incredibly stylish and fun wedding at Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art! DJ Juan Leon helped them design a playlist that would keep their guests dancing into the night, and boy did they! Here are a few highlights from their big day courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography!

Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin

The couple set the stage for an amazing dance party with a first dance to “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls, which everyone joined in on!

Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography

On the 1′s and 2′s that night was none other than the amazing Juan Leon!

Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography Image courtesy of Jennifer McMenamin Photography

Congratulations again, Mark and Ron! All the best for a beautiful future together!

A special thanks to the fantastic vendor team:

Venue: Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art

Planner: Boutique Events, Emily Villareal

Photographer: Jennifer McMenamin Photography

Florist: Crimson and Clover Floral Designs

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It’s been a fantastic season so far, and we’re so happy to have been a part of so many amazing weddings. One in particular was Caitlyn and Steve’s wedding in May at Belmont Country Club! The happy couple was matched with Michael Bell, who thoroughly enjoyed working with them to create a playlist that would reflect their unique tastes. It was a truly special occasion for two truly special people, and these shots by Emily Chastain Photography perfectly capture the love and joy that was so abundant on their special day!

Image courtesy of Emily Chastain Photography Image courtesy of Emily Chastain Photography Image courtesy of Emily Chastain Photography

Caitlyn and Steve chose “Who I Am With You” by Chris Young for their first dance.  Then there was a Father-Daughter dance to “I Loved Her First” by Heartland and a Mother-Son dance to “Blackbird” by The Beatles.

Image courtesy of Emily Chastain Photography Image courtesy of Emily Chastain Photography

It’s probably pretty clear by now how much MyDeejay loves a good dance party, and this crowd definitely did not disappoint!

Image courtesy of Emily Chastain Photography Image courtesy of Emily Chastain Photography Image courtesy of Emily Chastain Photography Image courtesy of Emily Chastain Photography Image courtesy of Emily Chastain Photography Image courtesy of Emily Chastain Photography

Congratulations again to Caitlyn and Steve!

Venue: Belmont Country Club

Photographer: Emily Chastain Photography

Cake: Cakes by Linda

Flowers: Affordable Arrangements

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Just a few weeks ago, Thomas and Megan held their beautiful wedding at Historic London Town and Gardens! Their DJ, Trevor Blake, had an amazing time working with them on their big day, and we’re so grateful to Ben Powell Photography for sharing these images of all the magic with us!

Image courtesy of Ben Powell Photography Image courtesy of Ben Powell Photography Image courtesy of Ben Powell Photography

Thomas and Megan’s first dance was to “La Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong.  There was also a Father-Daughter dance to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” and a Mother-Son dance to Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be In My Heart.”

Image courtesy of Ben Powell Photography Image courtesy of Ben Powell Photography Image courtesy of Ben Powell Photography

“Love You Madly” by Cake was chosen as their cake-cutting song.

Image courtesy of Ben Powell Photography Image courtesy of Ben Powell Photography Image courtesy of Ben Powell Photography

Best wishes for your future together, Thomas and Megan!

Venue: Historic London Town and Gardens, Jean Shea

Catering: Zeffert and Gold Catering, Matt Gold

Photography: Ben Powell Photography, Taylor Powell

Flowers: Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm, Heather Carr

Cake: Cakes by Rachael, Rachael Powers

Officiant: Dan Sikowitz

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The Belvedere in Baltimore is one of our favorite venues to work at, and we’re ever grateful for the relationship we have with their amazing events team. I’m sure you can imagine how happy we were when Kat Philgreen and Logan Paris of Belvedere & Co. Events said they would be featured in an interview on our blog! Today we’re talking weddings and more, so read on to get to know these very awesome ladies!

Image courtesy of Sachs Photography

Kat Philgreen, Event Coordinator (Image courtesy of Sachs Photography)

 

Image courtesy of Sachs Photography

Logan Paris, Event Specialist (Image courtesy of Sachs Photography)

How did you get started in the wedding business? 

K: I’ve been working in the hospitality industry since before I could drive, and after college was offered a Catering Sales position that grew to catering weddings & corporate events in Charleston, SC. From there, I found the Belvedere here in Baltimore & the rest is history.

L: I always knew I wanted to be in the event industry.  After moving to Maryland in 2009, I was offered an event coordinator internship which turned into a part time position.  I got to experience the fun and frenzy of the wedding industry and couldn’t get enough!

What do you do when you are not working?  

K: I garden & cook, watch too much Netflix, and hang out with my 4-legged child, Ferris.

L:I love hanging out with friends and going to Sunday brunch, visiting local wineries, concerts, and of course traveling.  My all-time guilty pleasure is watching horribly addictive reality TV shows, or as my boyfriend likes to call it, “Trash TV”. 

How would you describe your approach to weddings? 

K: Each wedding is different. I like to find out which part of the wedding is most important to the couple, be it the food, music, bar, décor – and craft the event around that.

L: Laid back and patient.  During planning there can be times when the stress is high for the bride, groom and their families and it’s important that I be someone they can reach out to who can give them reassurance and a sense of relief. 

What inspires you in your work? 

K: While I definitely still have stacks of wedding magazines all over the house (especially Martha Stewart’s), blogs are my go-to for new ideas & inspiration.

L: I love seeing how brides work in family traditions and things that mean a lot personally.  It’s different with every bride and I think it’s what makes weddings so special.   

What do you find the most rewarding about your job?

K: Hearing the bride, groom & their families say that it’s the BEST day of their lives.

L: After working with these couples for months and sometimes year to plan the biggest day of their life, it’s a great feeling to see their faces covered with sheer happiness and love at the end of the night. 

What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your company? 

K:That we are really inclusive when it comes to the entire planning process. Not only do we help to guide our clients every step of the way, but we make it FUN! When the details get a little too girly for the grooms, they can always pop into the Owl Bar for a pint or two.

L: I wish people knew that beyond great customer service, our food is amazing!  My favorite is the seared sea scallops with sweet pea risotto at the 13th Floor.   

What do you think sets your company apart from others in your field?

K: We are family owned, and really pour our heart & soul into everything we do.

L: Our team is the best of the best.  From initial site tour to our day-of banquet staff,  professionalism with personality is at the core of our business.  Not only do we deliver on beautiful weddings, but we make the experience really fun and get to know our brides and grooms like family. 

What do you love about weddings? 

K: From start to finish, I pretty much love it all. The whole emotional gamut that’s involved with the planning process is different for everyone, so it’s NEVER boring. 

L: I love the personal touches that each wedding brings.   There is a good chance (100%) that I will tear up while listening to a couple recite their vows and the toasts from friends and family.

What do you hate about weddings?

 L: When a couple lets other opinions take over their big day.  As important as friends and family can be, I want couples to remember that this is their day.  It is always important to take the different opinions into consideration during the planning process but each couple should have the wedding that they envision. 

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding? 

K: The belly dancer that we had at an Egyptian wedding this past October was amazing. I wasn’t sure how the party would go, since it was a non-Alcoholic affair – but she got the dance floor PACKED for the whole night.

L: We recently had a surprise wedding at the 13th Floor!  Friends and family thought they were coming for an engagement party, but SURPRISE- it was a wedding!  The bride wore the most gorgeous floor length purple sequin gown and her two sons were very much a part of the Big Day. 

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding? 

K: Don’t sweat the small stuff, that’s my job!

L: Stay focused on the big picture.  It’s easy to get caught up in little details that can make you go crazy, but if you keep the big picture in mind you will enjoy the whole process and end up with the wedding of your dreams! 

Who is your favorite artist or band? 

K: I am a huge Ben Folds fan.

L: This is a hard one for me.  I love all different types of music and have been to a ton of concerts and music festivals but I would have to say the most played Pandora station for me at the moment is The Avett Brothers.

What is the worst song of all time? 

K: Butterfly Kisses. 

L: Group dance songs (ahem, Electric Slide)

Open mic, final thoughts:

L: Truffles Catering has a new name!  We decided to change our name to something that better embraced our beautiful building, so we are now Belvedere & Co. Events!  Belvedere & Co. Events will handle all weddings and events in the Belvedere, whether a ballroom, Owl Bar or the 13th Floor.  Look for our new website soon- www.BelvedereAndCoEvents.com 

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We continue our vendor interview series today with a few words from two very awesome ladies: Katey Clark and Ashley Bertrand Amtmann of Lemon & Lime Event Design!  The two of them are an absolutely joy to work with and their dedication to providing their clients with an incredible experience on their wedding day is so apparent.  Here’s Katey and Ashley to tell us a little bit about themselves and their business!

How did you get started in the wedding business?
Katey and I both come from a corporate event background but knew one day we wanted to
start our own business(es) in the private event field. After talking about it (for a long time!)
we decided that now (about 2 ½ years ago) was the time to take the leap before we really
started growing our families – Ashley was newly married and Katey didn’t know it but her
boyfriend was proposing soon! And so… Lemon & Lime Event Design was born! Weddings and
private events are so much more personal, we really bond with our clients and LOVE that
about the wedding industry!

What do you do when you are not working?
Ashley – I’m a new mom and adjusting to the role of parenthood which has been quite an
adventure. Otherwise, life outside work is all about spending time with my pup, Bailey, and my
husband. I love finding new things in the area to discover – restaurants, parks, etc. I’m also
always ready to pack my bags for a weekend away with friends.

Katey – Right now I’m trying to plan my own wedding! But when I’m not doing that, or
working with one of our awesome clients, you can catch me running through Towson with
my goldendoodle, Oxford.

How would you describe your approach to weddings?
We like to get together with our clients and really get to know them before jumping into the
planning. Talking about how they met, the engagement, what they like to do for fun, what’s
important to them, etc etc. All of these things influence their special day. Weddings are so
personal, we want to make sure the day really reflects them.

Ashley Bertrand Amtmann

Ashley Bertrand Amtmann

What inspires you in your work?
The couples for sure! It’s all about making their day all about them and a reflection of their
love story. We want to give them the most perfect day possible!

What do you find the most rewarding about your job?
How happy the couple is at the end of the night. That makes all of the planning and work
worth it. Knowing that all of your work and the couple’s came together to make such a
memorable and special day in their lives.

What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business?
Being a wedding planner is not as pretty/glamorous/easy as J.Lo makes it look in the movie!
We have very long weekends with over 14+ hour days.

What do you think sets your company apart from other planners?
Our ability to zero in on what the clients have in mind for their wedding. Most of our couple’s
come to us with an explosion of Pinterest photos but we’re able to decipher the commonalities
in each and pull together what they truly have in mind. We pride ourselves on being able to
create a variety of different looks instead of just having one design niche, we think clients
really appreciate that! We also plan beautiful weddings that are really well run. At the end of
the day the guests won’t remember your beautiful decor if they were starving, freezing, or
getting bit by mosquitoes all night. Combining our love for both design and planning is really
how our company has grown so quickly.

Katey Clark

Katey Clark

What do you love about weddings?
Our favorite moment is when the bride starts her walk down the aisle. Aside from the huge
sigh of relief I breathe knowing everything moving forward is taken care of, I LOVE the
expression on her face as well as the grooms. To watch the two of them in that moment is
truly special.

What do you hate about weddings?
Call us traditional but when guests wear white to the wedding! I cannot get on board with
this “trend.” Leave the white to the bride unless she tells you otherwise. Come on ladies, show
some respect! We also don’t like all of the pressure that some of the planning puts on the
couples, not from us of course! Sometimes families/friends can really overwhelm the couples
with doing things this way or that way. It should fun, stress free, and special…leave the crazy
at the door!

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding?
At one of our recent weddings, friends of the couple choreographed a dance that they
performed at the beginning of the reception. The first few minutes was a solo to Indian music
with the friend being dressed in a beautiful sari, she was later joined by a larger group to a
mix of songs. The couple and guests LOVED it!

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding?
Try not to stress and have fun! If you’re not having at least a little fun then something is
wrong. Sure the wedding weekend is a party but don’t forget that the whole point is so you
can marry your best friend. At the end of the day, that is what matters. And of
course….having the best time ever!

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In the Mix With… Michelle Frankfurter!

by Jennifer Reitmeyer on May 13, 2014

Recently, we got the chance to catch up with one of our favorite people to work with, the amazingly talented Michelle Frankfurter!  Today, she’s talking with us about her journey in the world of photography and what she’s currently working on. Here’s what Michelle had to say!

Image courtesy of Jay Premack Photography

Image courtesy of Jay Premack Photography

How did you get started in the wedding business? I moved to DC in 1992, after working in Nicaragua for three years – first for a human rights organization and then for the British news service, Reuters. After a few years of local freelance work, I got the travel bug again and took off to Haiti to work on a personal documentary project. I was away for part of 1993 and most of 1994. I won a couple of World Press Photo awards for the work on Haiti, but by the time I came back to DC, most of my freelance work had dried up.


By then I was feeling disillusioned and cynical about photojournalism. In Haiti, I got a taste of artistic freedom without the pressure of deadlines and the editorial constraints associated with working for news outlets. At that point, I decided that I would live and work as an independent documentary photographer, pursuing personal work on my own time and making a living through commissioned work such as weddings and portrait work. In the mid 1990′s, wedding photography was stuck in an aesthetic time warp, a kind of chocolate bunny maudlin sensibility. In a city like DC with an internationally recognized symphony, galleries and tons of highly educated people, I figured my documentary approach would appeal to those searching for an alternative to the visual bromides that seemed to characterize wedding photography at that time. It was my Field of Dreams moment.

What do you do when you are not working?  More than anything, I like being home with my dogs, plants, and aquarium. I’m a reluctant traveler. But it’s as though I have a symbiotic twin that craves adventure.  When I’m not working, I’m Working. Weddings pay the bills, but it’s the personal work that I obsess about. In 2009 I began photographing the journey of undocumented Central American migrants throughout Mexico, riding on top of freight trains with them along their journey north. Called Destino, the project is shot entirely on medium format B/W film. I hope to have a book published in the next year or two about Central American migration.

How would you describe your approach to weddings?  I take the same documentary approach to weddings as I do when working on my personal projects. The job of a documentary photographer is to fade into the background, to create a narrative, to convey a mood and to interpret events taking place. It’s important for me to be able to recognize myself in both the personal and the wedding work – that the images have a similar sensibility and emotional integrity, despite the fact that the subject matter is different.

What inspires you in your work?  Being able to work on personal projects so that my entire life as a photographer isn’t based on shooting weddings for the sake of shooting more weddings. On the other hand, while the personal work is rewarding, it’s often intense and grim. When I get back, I’m happy and excited to be shooting something joyous. I feel relaxed and grateful just to be there. I think of it as a kind of symbiosis: the personal work is like an itch that needs to be scratched and that fuels my enthusiasm and boosts my energy for weddings.

What do you find the most rewarding about your job?  I like making pictures – seeing something I haven’t seen before or seeing it in a different way. Weddings are extremely challenging technically to photograph – very gear intensive. You can’t pick and choose the perfect time of day to work. You may get a few hours of nice, natural late afternoon light to work with, but once the party moves indoors and the sun goes down, the challenge is to create artificial light that looks totally natural. I’m constantly learning, experimenting and improving my skills as a photographer. It’s extremely satisfying when everything works in the frame, including perfect light of your own making. But nothing compares to the email you get from the bride and groom after you’ve sent them a link to their images, knowing they’re happy and that their images will only increase in sentimental value with the passing of time.

What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business?  All of the above.

What do you think sets you apart from other photographers?  My pictures. When I talk to couples and one of the first things they say is, “We looked at hundreds of websites. What’s with the shoes?” I know we’re going to work together. A lot of photographers call themselves photojournalists. Some of them actually are, but I don’t really see a lot of that in their pictures – not a lot that goes beyond the expected wedding tropes.

What do you love about weddings?  My clients. I have great clients. I think they recognize that photography is more than just an item you buy in bulk. I love receptions too – the music and the dance party, seeing three or four generations on the dance floor.

What do you hate about weddings?  Hmm, where to begin the buzzfeed:

-The micro-managing event planner whose job it is to choreograph every second of the day with drill sergeant precision. A wedding day is already circumscribed by tradition that visually plays out as a series of contrived rituals. The more it’s further chopped up and intervened with, directed and nudged, the less likely the elusive, subtle, intimate moments will happen, let alone be documented.

-The territorial officiant who thinks that stopping the ceremony to chastise the photographer is somehow less conspicuous than the photographer stealthily moving along the periphery to take pictures. News flash: no one has ever noticed me taking pictures or commented that I was being disruptive, but they were taken aback – appalled, actually by your histrionics. Or the officiant who predicates the litany of conditions and restrictions under which photographs may be taken with a statement about the importance of photography. OK. How about you perform the ceremony using only adverbs.

-The oblivious videographer. Contrary to myth, we are not working as a team. We’re often at cross purposes. A still image has three components: some kind of decisive moment that takes place at between approximately a 30th and a 500th of a second (in other words, in a never-to-be-repeated instant), nice light, whether ambient (natural) or manufactured and clean composition. You have to wait for everything to converge in one single frozen frame. Early in the day, for example when people are in the hotel suite getting ready there is a great opportunity to capture some of the more nuanced interactions between people. The rooms are often cluttered, making it hard to maneuver and compose an image around the archipelago of small tables, big white lamps in the background, and sprinkler system nozzles on the walls – a pastiche of distracting elements that aren’t that noticeable to the naked eye but are glaring in the frame. Adding another photographer with even bigger gear not only makes the space smaller, but more importantly, it changes the chemistry in the room: it’s difficult enough for people to get comfortable with one interloper taking photos at close proximity. Two changes the dynamic from one of intimacy to a media event. People seize up or worse – they perform. I have absolutely nothing against videographers personally. I’m sure I’m getting in their way as well. However, the videographer/photographer pairing would work better with the more conventional wedding photographers who are following a script – shooting a lot of still life of shoes and rings instead of painstakingly waiting for a perfect moment.

-Anyone shrieking, “Oh, look honey! The camera lady is trying to take your picture. Smile!”
This is probably the mother of all photo bombs – the foot ploughing through the sand castle.

-The guest who thinks the camera is a microphone. Dude, you just grabbed my $1500 lens and sang into it.

-Group shots:

Having a few nicely composed, well-lit portraits of the most important people compliments the less predictable, on-the-fly moments captured in the hands-off documentary approach. For a portrait to be successful, you need a certain amount of space per person – kind of like the ratio of water per fish in an aquarium. People must be far enough away from the background so that the background doesn’t become a distraction. And the photographer needs enough space to be able to work with a longer lens in order to make people stand out from the foreground/background. If the space is tight and the background cluttered, it’s not going to work very well, especially not with large groups of people (that’s why many portrait photographers have studios, so they can control the background and the lighting). A long list of village size group shots with every conceivable permutation is a giant time hog; what inevitably eats up the clock isn’t taking the picture but arranging the individuals in a way that conforms to the 35mm frame. If you can’t see me, I can’t see you. Invariably, Uncle Joe’s trip to the Men’s Room will hang up the shoot. Then it’s like a horror movie: someone is dispatched to search for the missing relative, who in turn goes missing. In the pre-digital era, the official photographer was the sole gatekeeper to the images captured at an event. Nowadays, between the point-and-shoot cameras and smart phones, people can arrange and take their own photos – something they can easily do because that’s exactly what those cameras are designed for: arrange, point, shoot. It’s a better use of limited time on a hectic day to concentrate on making the requisite portraits look like portraits instead of rushing through a long list or spending a long, long time getting through posed shots that depending on the space available, aren’t going to look very good anyway. 


-The passive-aggressive head of catering who thinks photographers don’t deserve a meal, even though it’s probably been about 8 hours since you’ve last eaten and will be at least another 4 before you get home. And the client paid for a vendor meal.

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding?  Rea and Emmett’s Soul Train line dance. Total blast.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding?  Well, I would say a documentary approach isn’t for everyone. I consciously built a website that says as much by what I omit as by what I show. But if it is what you’re interested in, then my advice would be to promote conditions and logistics that will help your photographer create the kinds of images you were attracted to in the first place.

Who is your favorite artist or band?  Oh, there are lots. Unfortunately, I’m terrible about remembering names. Years ago, I shot a wedding way out in Virginia where the couple hired Last Train Home. They were so good, I stuck around just to chat up the band. I was the Last Vendor Home that night.

What is the worst song of all time?  The Macarena. It’s like a mental burr that sticks in your brain, taking days to work out.

Open mic, final thoughts:  Oh, I think I’ve pretty much covered it.

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Cicely Procopio and Jason Miller of Procopio Photography are a husband and wife duo who are known for delivering stunning images to their clients.  We’ve had the pleasure of working with them in the past and they were even kind enough to shoot our Thursday Therapy event last month! We truly appreciate them taking the time to share their own unique experiences in the wedding industry.  Here’s Cicely and Jason!

Image courtesy of Lisa Boggs Photography

Image courtesy of Lisa Boggs Photography

How did you get started in the wedding business?

C: This is a long story so I will try to keep it short! I received a scholarship to Florida State for photography and it was my minor in college (Go Noles!!). I was a film photographer at this point and mostly shot model comp cards and family sessions. I didn’t really have a direction, I just knew I loved photography.

Jason grew up shooting with his dad. His father, an avid hobbyist, would take Jason to Nikon School classes as a kid.

When Jason and I got married in Miami, we had a horrible experience with our photographer. That was the most important vendor to us and unfortunately our wedding photography experience was a complete nightmare. For starters, she didn’t show up to our engagement session. I had my hair and makeup done for the shoot and we had to pay a permit fee to shoot at the location we were at. We stood there waiting for her at sunrise the day of our session. I will never forget it. As the sun got higher in the sky we continued calling her cell phone just to get her message recording over and over. Eventually we left and it took us about a week to finally get in touch with her. She claims she was out of the country and it wasn’t in her planner. While that is not an excuse for any business person, and should have been a red flag of things to come, we ended up forgiving her. We really loved her work and figured she couldn’t possibly mess up again at our wedding.

On the day of our wedding she was over an hour late. She got drunk at the reception, so drunk that I had guests coming up to me telling me that my photographer was wasted. To top it off, at the end of the night she tried to leave early. We had to fight with her to get our images (which took over a year to receive). Our whole experience with this photographer was absolutely horrible. Our photographer was the only vendor that went poorly on our wedding day. I was extremely angry and disappointed.

We realized that we could provide a much better service than our photographer provided to us. Jason and I found our purpose in photography. We knew we wanted to shoot weddings. I went to the Washington School of Photography to update my skills from film to digital. Soon after graduation, Procopio Photography was created!

The brides that book with us are in very good hands. We provide them with amazing images that they will have to share for generations to come but we also take great care to make sure we are accessible and responsive to our client’s every need. We want our clients to enjoy their photography experience in addition to receiving great images.

J: Yeah, what she said. ;-)

What do you do when you are not working?

C: I love eating, cooking, and anything to do with food! DC is a great place for a foodie. I love going to new restaurants and experiencing different cuisines. When I have lots of time I enjoy making some of my grandmother’s homemade Italian dishes.

I am also obsessed with my dog. We adopted a 7 year old female boxer named Frankie this past August. I just love her to pieces! So doing anything Frankie related also makes me very happy.

J: If I am not working during baseball season, I like to go to Nationals games. A perfect evening for me is sitting on the couch, listening to jazz or watching the Nats, a glass of bourbon in my hand, and smelling something tasty Cicely is cooking up in the kitchen.

How would you describe your approach to weddings?

C: We are modern, edgy, and have a fashion flare to our weddings.

J: We have a good mix of photojournalism and editorial shooting.

What inspires you in your work?

C: I am inspired by fashion and music.

J: I get most of my inspiration from old Hollywood films. The lighting is so impressive in old movies.

What do you find the most rewarding about your job?

C: I find it most rewarding when a woman feels beautiful. There are so many women out there with low self-esteem who hate themselves in photos. It warms my heart, when a bride tells me how much she loves how she looks in her images. This also applies to my boudoir photography. I just love celebrating how beautiful a woman is.

J: I know we take great photos but what is rewarding to me is our customer service. It makes me happy when we take care of our clients’ needs promptly.

What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business?

C: I wish everyone knew how hard it is to be a business owner. I can’t tell you how many people meet us and say, “Wow, so you shoot weddings. It must be nice to only work on the weekends”.

I would say that only 10% of my time is spent photographing. The rest is spent editing images, answer emails, marketing, going on site visits, designing albums, and doing the hundreds of other tasks that every business owner has to do.

J: Yeah, what she said. ;-)

What do you think sets your company apart from other photographers?

C: The majority of a wedding is photojournalism. We are there like flies on a wall capturing every moment that happens. All wedding photographers are photojournalists. What we bring to the table that is different is our modern, edgy, and dramatic portraits.

J: We are a husband and wife team so it is always the two of us. That is a great benefit because our work is very consistent. I can look at Cicely from across the room and know what she is getting. We also use a nice mix of off camera lighting and natural light.

 What do you love about weddings?

C: I love the first look. A first look is when you see each other before the ceremony. The first look usually consists of a bride, a groom, and the photographer. It can be super emotional and I love that it is private. I would have loved that first moment with just Jason to be private on our wedding day.

J: I love the party in the reception. Crazy dancing shots are so fun to capture and be a part of. With a good Deejay (ahem… MyDeejay rocks) we know we will have awesome dancing pics.

What do you hate about weddings?

C: Weddings intensify emotions. They tend to bring out the best and the worst in people. We have been doing this long enough to see a lot of both. It makes me sad to see other family members not being nice to the bride and/or groom. I wish they could set aside their differences for one day. That is definitely my least favorite part of any wedding.

J: I really dislike that so many people are taking pictures with their phones and iPads at weddings. They are no longer present and enjoying the day. I wish they knew that they were missing the day and that they will never get that opportunity back again. My advice to people attending a wedding is to put your devices down and share in the moment.

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding?

C: This past July (2013) the weather was rainy and wet for a solid week. We were scheduled to shoot an outdoor wedding at a family estate and I was so worried about this couples’ event. The weather forecast was predicting rain at 100% for the entire day at their wedding.

This couple is just about the sweetest two people I have ever met. Their free spirits fit in perfectly with the nature and the open space of that backyard. It was killing me to think that the whole event would be held indoors if the rain didn’t stop. Of course, the couple was so relaxed about the whole weather fiasco. They just wanted to be married and knew it would be fabulous rain or shine.

The morning of their wedding, we were driving to the bride’s parents’ house and it was of course raining. Once we arrived though, a bright blue sky started poking through and the sun began to burn through the clouds. By the time we started shooting, we were looking at a brilliantly blue sky. I just couldn’t believe it! That sunshine stayed all day and the couple was able to have their beautiful outdoor wedding without a drop of rain.

J: For me, the coolest thing I’ve seen at a wedding was a best man’s speech. It wasn’t what he said but how he said it. He walked over, picked up the mic, turned to the deejay and said, “hit it!” Some beats were piped in and the best man proceeded to rap his speech. The bridal party circled around him, arms flailing, heads bobbing to the best man’s rap. So kick ass.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding?

C: The wedding day goes by so quickly. You spend a year or more planning this amazing event and it is over before you know it. I tell my couples to pause every once in a while and just take it all in. Hold each other’s hands and look around the room. I recommend a first look to our couples because that time alone on the wedding day is so important to share with each other. It slows down time and they really get to spend some precious moments together on their wedding day.

J: Hire a good wedding planner. Good wedding planners will make the day run smoothly and take the stress off of you and your close family. The last thing you want to do is pay all this money for such a lavish event and then not enjoy the day because you are worried about handling every little detail. I hate to see brides or mothers of the bride or even close family and friends stressing about all the details that may go wrong. Keep in mind that no day will ever run perfectly, but with a good planner, they will handle all of the little stuff so you, your family, and your friends won’t have to.

Who is your favorite artist or band?

C: All-time favorite band: Pearl Jam

Can’t imagine growing up without: STP, The Doors, The Stones, Bob Marley, Louis Armstrong, Sinead O’Connor, Ani DiFranco, Sublime, Weezer, and The Beatles

My latest obsession: The XX, Feist, Mason Jennings, Beach House, Two Door Cinema Club, Chvrches, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. MGMT, Metric, Edward Sharpe, Regina Spektor, Modest Mouse, Cat Power, Vampire Weekend, Stars, MIA

J: All-time favorite band: Dave Matthews

Can’t imagine growing up without: The Police, U2, Tears for Fears

My latest obsession: Yeasayer, Terence Blanchard, Ra Ra Riot

What is the worst song of all time?

C: Rednex, “Cotton Eye Joe” or Meat Loaf, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”

J: Aqua, “Barbie Girl”

Open mic, final thoughts:

C: I think you covered it, thanks for the feature!

J: Yeah, what she said. ;-)

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Today we’re sharing another very special wedding that we got the chance to be a part of last year: Jen and Josh’s wedding at Hotel Monaco Alexandria!  Our own Michael Bell provided the soundtrack that kept them and their guests dancing into the night – and dance they did! Just take a look at these amazing shots of the day by Rebekah Hoyt Photography!

Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Photography Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Photography Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Photography Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Photography

We loved all the vibrant flowers by Petal’s Edge and their cake from Alexandria Pastry Shop was absolutely gorgeous, and equally delicious, we’re sure!

Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Photography Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Photography

Jen and Josh chose “This Will Be Our Year” by Foo Fighters as their first dance song.

Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Image courtesy of Rebekah Ho Chair-Dance Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Photography Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Photography Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Photography Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Photography Image courtesy of Rebekah Hoyt Photography

Jen and Josh, thanks so much again! We so enjoyed being a part of your wedding!

Vendors:

Venue: Hotel Monaco Alexandria

Photographer: Rebekah Hoyt Photography

Cake: Alexandria Pastry Shop

Florist: Petal’s Edge

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In the Mix With… Chris Sikora of The Pier 5 Hotel!

by Jennifer Reitmeyer on May 6, 2014

Pier 5 Hotel provides a very unique and special wedding experience for its clients with some of the best views of the harbor to be had in Baltimore.  We’ve been fortunate to work there on several occasions and are always excited for an opportunity to work with their amazing Wedding Specialist, Chris Sikora.  His clients can truly relax and enjoy their wedding day because they know (and so do we!) that he’s got everything under control. Here’s Chris to share his two cents on all things wedding!

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How did you get started in the wedding business? I guess it was somewhat accidentally; When I purchased Fisher’s Bakery in Ellicott City in late 2005, it was mainly to resurrect a dying local business and focus on the retail and cafe, but the wedding aspect of the business became more and more attractive and we became pretty good at it.  Joining NACE really took our wedding business to the next level, and I became active in the business.  And when I realized several years too late that i actually can’t run a bakery, I decided to stay in the wedding business.

What do you do when you are not working? When is that? Seriously, during my sporadic down time I enjoy spending time with my girls, Meredith age 10 and Andrea, age 7.  We do anything from shopping to fishing.  Just took Meredith to her first real BSO concert!  I like to get into a few TV series, currently Breaking Bad on Netflix and Mad Men through library DVD.  I also love to watch baseball and football and college basketball.  

How would you describe your approach to weddings?  I think I have a very practical approach to weddings.  Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should.  I tend to maximize the guests enjoyment and concentrate on everyone’s experience.

What inspires you in your work?  I’m inspired by my fellow wedding professionals here in Baltimore; so many of them are in our line of work due to a passion for weddings, not just to bring home a paycheck.  It’s so much fun to watch!  

What do you find the most rewarding about your job?  It’s the ability to play such an important role in a very important day in the life of the couple and their families.  when they tell you what a wonderful time they had and how everything was great, that’s very rewarding!

What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your hotel?  Everyone at every department at the Pier 5 shares my passion for beautiful weddings:  front desk associates, banquet servers, housekeeping, the Chef and his staff and management.  You’re not just a customer; you’re a guest in our home.  And we just put in new carpeting in all the guest rooms.

What do you think sets your hotel apart from other venues? Besides what I just said, we certainly have a tremendous location right on the water, with a garden with real grass and real trees right on the harbor, and both event spaces have windows so you’re not trapped in a 4-walled ballroom.  and that we’re not part of a franchised or national brand so we can do anything we want to make the guest happy.

What do you love about weddings?  I love seeing so many happy people with their friends and family having a great time celebrating the couple and their new life together.  I love seeing the culmination of so many different vendors coming together for a great event. And I like eating crab cakes and filet almost every weekend.  

What do you hate about weddings?  When certain people in the family or bridal party make exceptions to the fact that it should be about the couple and not them and push their own agenda.  And that they are usually on Friday and Saturday nights.  I’m all for starting a trend of Tuesday afternoon weddings.  

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding?  One bride from last summer, Jenna, was overly worried that the Urban Pirates boat would interfere with her waterfront garden ceremony.  I assured her that I had never seen it being an issue.  Then during her ceremony, I see the pirate ship heading for our pier.  Closer.  Closer.  Closer than I’d ever seen it before.  Then I hear the the PA on the boat say “ladies and gentlemen, looks like there’s wedding going on at the Pier 5″  I’m in full fledged panic when they start yelling and screaming, then I see them hold up signs saying “Congratulations Jenna and Jorge!” and the bridesmaids are doubled over laughing.  Turns out they had planned and set up the whole thing.  And I’m happy I keep a spare pair of shorts at the hotel. I’ve also seen some cool choreographed father/daughter dances that I found especially meaningful.  I’m sure that has nothing to do with the fact that I have two daughters.  

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a weddingDon’t obsess over what the guests like.  I’ve seen couples stress over a menu because they worry that a particular guest won’t like asparagus or balsamic vinaigrette.  When you invite someone to your wedding they should be honored and want to enjoy what the couple likes.  

Who is your favorite artist or band?  R.E.M.  I saw them in a small club in Madison, Wisconsin in the summer of 1983  on their first national tour to support the Murmur album, and had a feeling they’d do pretty well in their career.  I think I paid a $3 cover charge to see them and there was maybe 150 people there.  Oh and also the Happy Schnapps Combo who did The Bears Still Suck Polka.  My anthem during the football season. 

What is the worst song of all time? Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners.  Hands down.  No question.  Although What does the Fox Say is making a strong case for itself. 

Open mic, final thoughts:  I am thrilled to count the members of our industry among my friends and inspirations.  I’m proud of the work we do as a whole in our tight knit industry and the beautiful experiences we create.  

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In the Mix With… Vicky Choy of Event Accomplished!

by Jennifer Reitmeyer on May 1, 2014

Vicky Choy is the founder of Event Accomplished, one of the top event planning companies in the area. We’re always happy to get a chance to work with the Event Accomplished team, and we know they’ll always do an amazing job at designing an event that is stylish and tailored to the client’s specific needs.  We were thrilled when Vicky agreed to share her experience with our readers! Here’s Vicky!

Vicky-Choy

How did you get started in the wedding business?  I was pretty burnt out and ready for a break from corporate America. I was looking for something different where I could work really closely with my clients, make an impact in their lives, and feel relatively quickly a sense of accomplishment. While attending business school at George Washington University, I stumbled upon event management and the rest is history. It was a happy accident.

What do you do when you are not working?  I love to cook and to explore new restaurants to see the creativity that professional chefs produce. You can also find me taking ballet classes weekly. I relish those days when I can still keep up with the teenagers. And for this year, my new activity is yoga.

How would you describe your approach to weddings?  Practical and personal. By nature, I am a pragmatic person. My clients are busy professionals and really don’t have time to waste. They hire me to help them save time so I don’t really see the point in beating around the bush. While I am open to trying just about anything, I am also first to tell you if I think something is tacky, is not practical, or is logistically not possible. At the same time, I am an advocate for “doing your own thing.” Don’t worry about what the trends are out there in wedding world or compare your wedding to your friends’. Design a wedding that reflects you. Each choice should be personal and holds meaning.

What inspires you in your work?  The couples and their families. Every couple has their own story. For that reason alone, no two weddings are ever the same.

What do you find the most rewarding about your job?  To see the couples and their families having a great time at their wedding makes me a happy girl. Seeing the beaming faces of a couple at the end of their ceremony as they walk back down the aisle still makes me smile and chokes me up. Can you get any happier than in that singular moment?

What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business?  When I ask a couple why they decided to ask for a planner’s help, many of them will say that they need help pulling together a cohesive and beautiful wedding. For them, it’s about getting help with the visuals and that’s where they see a planner adding value. While we can certainly design an aesthetically pleasing event, don’t underestimate the value a planner brings in terms of the logistics of an event. If you don’t spend enough effort on thoughtfully planning the underlying logistics of an event, I don’t care how pretty your event looks because your event will not run smoothly and your guests will certainly notice that more than they would that pretty floral arrangement.

What do you think sets your company apart from other planners?  What sets us apart from other planners is our balanced philosophy which guides how we work. We’ve had our production partners (your photographer, your caterer, your musicians) tell us that they enjoy working with us because we don’t micromanage them. While as the planner we are ringmasters, my philosophy for working as the leader of this type of team is to set boundaries and then let the professionals you hired do their jobs. We’ve managed to strike a balance between being in control of our events, and giving our partners the space to be successful in their work. With our tools, I’d like to think that we balance the need to provide an appropriate level of detail and efficiency. For example, we’ve received compliments on our production schedules because it provides the information at the right level of detail specifically tailored to each member of our production team – no more, no less – which allows them to make informed decisions about their work.

What do you love about weddings?  I love that a wedding is always a happy event. I love that I get to meet all kinds of people.

What do you hate about weddings? Family dynamics or drama because it stresses the couple, and I don’t like to see my clients stressed.

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding? We had a surprise appearance of the Virginia Tech Hokie Bird attend one wedding and another surprise appearance of a George Washington impersonator gave a speech on marriage. The coolest things are usually the more sentimental ones. A heartfelt letter from the grandmother of the groom who lives in Serbia and could not attend the wedding was read at the ceremony, bringing tears of joy to everyone.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding?  Constantly remind yourselves what this wedding is all about. Like it or not, it is not about finding that perfect favor to give to your guests. Amidst all the planning, you can easily lose yourselves. I suggest having date nights or even weekend getaways where you are forbidden to talk about the wedding and decompress a bit.

Who is your favorite artist or band?  Billy Joel (sorry Jennifer, it’s the honest truth).  I grew up on Long Island, NY. Billy provided the soundtrack of my youth.

What is the worst song of all time?  I can’t really think of a worst song of all time. However, Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” makes me switch the radio station every time.

Open mic, final thoughts:  Have fun with it. Do your own thing. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.

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