Meet: Kate + Chris

At Last Wedding and Event Design couple, Kate + Chris have been engaged since 2010 + are currently in the midst of their big day plans! As many of you know, I love doing features on our couples so of course, here I am again to share their romantic story.

How did they meet?
Chris + Kate met when his roommate from the Naval Academy got engaged to her sorority sister from the University of Florida. Kate was up in D.C visiting her friend, and the foursome spent a fun day in Maryland, going to lacrosse games, having crab cakes and enjoying local bars. A few months later at the friends' wedding, Kate + Chris rekindled their friendship and have been together ever since.
How did he propose?
Chris took Kate on a California vacation to Napa and Santa Barbara, where he grew up. During a fancy dinner at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club, he made sure Kate saved room for dessert. When the chocolate cheesecake came out, "Katie, will you marry me?" was written in icing around it, and Chris was down on one knee with a gorgeous ring. The entire staff helped them celebrate with champagne.

We are looking forward to their special day this
December at the Orlando Science Center!


Inspired by . . . Sivan Photography

Next up, feel free to get inspired by the fabulous Sivan Photography! Sivan has become a great friend of mine not only because she is a wonderful vendor but also because we at At Last Wedding + Event Design have had the privilege of working with her for her own wedding this past April. It is always an honor to be selected by fellow wedding vendors + Sivan's wedding was magnificent! Check out this old post that shows her sneak peaks. But let me get back on topic because today we are talking about her photography company. Check out this interview + prepare to be inspired...

Tell me about your company
We are a team of two photographers who got into photography out of pure love for the art. After starting in the wedding business, we feel head over heels not only for the beautiful photos we are able to capture, but also for the incredible couples and families that we meet along the way. We focus on unique, artistic photography, but also understand the desire to have timeless photos as well. Everything that we do is catered to each couple. From the moment we meet until the photos are in your hand, we are there to assist in any way 100%.
How did you both get started in the wedding industry?
Sivan graduated from UCF with a Micro and Molecular Biology degree. After deciding to test the waters in photography, she found herself unable to get enough of it. Sivan started off in a portrait studio, and a year later found herself purchasing her own equipment and going full swing into her own business with the help of her loving husband, Craig.

What sets you apart from your competition?
We are not a large company with many photographers involved. Each wedding that we do is catered to that one and only couple for that day. Because it is just the two of us, we can give that much more attention to each couple and make sure that everything comes out the way they dreamt it would. We understand that every couple is unique and has their own desires, and we do our best to fulfill those desires. Our two person photographer team allows for various angles throughout the wedding and for shots to be captured that may otherwise be missed. Having two photographers for no extra fee is something we pride ourselves on, and we know it is very much appreciated by our couples.
What is your favorite part of the wedding day?
My absolute favorite part is the cocktail hour when we are photographing the couple one-on-one. This is when we get creative and focus on getting the photos that will end up on their walls.

Other than photography, what is the one service or product brides should not get married without?
That would have to be videography. I believe that many people overlook videography and think of it as something that they will only watch one time. This may or may not be true, but I know that I wish my parents had a video of their wedding so I could see what it was like. Maybe I'm just a sentimental person, but I know that having a video to show my children in the future will be so meaningful to me and to them. Without a video, how will you hear your vows again? How will you hear the shakiness in your voices? Trust, me you want a videographer!
What is the best services or product that your company offers?
Other than the quality of the images, we love showing off our amazing coffee table albums. Words cannot explain how beautiful they are, and so we always schedule a consultation with the couple before they book us to show them the products that we offer.
In your opinion, what is the most fabulous trend with weddings right now?
I really love the "first look" that couples are doing now. From the couples standpoint, it is a much more relaxed and exciting way to see each other for the first time on the big day. What photographers love about it though is that it allows so much more time for one-on-one photos. Everyone is much more relaxed as well, so the photos during that time come out fabulously!

Any special advice to brides when hiring a photographer?
Yes, ask ask ask! No questions should be left out. There are sources all over the internet of questions that you should ask your photographer. What format do my photos come in? How many photographers will be there? What are the hourly rates if I wanted to add on extra time? And more importantly, do I get the copyright to my photos so that I can print anywhere and any size? Do not ever feel bad about asking too many questions. I always encourage my brides to bring many questions to our consultations so they can feel at ease when they leave our meeting. Also, if a photography (or any vendor, for that matter) is difficult to contact before you even hire them, turn the other way. You absolutely do not want to hire someone who does not communicate well. We are in the age of communication, so there is absolutely no excuse for a lack of it. This is a once in a lifetime event and you do not want a bad taste in your mouth because of a vendor. Utilize your wedding planner... they know what they're doing!
Contact information
Sivan Photography


Seating Charts... Yes or No?

Many brides ask me if they need a seating chart + it truly does depend on what type of reception you are planning. To sum up the answers, I found a fabulous article from Offbeat Bride that I wanted to share with you.

The benefits of a seating chart:

  • You can ensure that everyone’s dinner companions share common interests. It is simply good event planning to arrange for guests in this situation to sit with people they either already know and like, or are likely to get along with, so they’ll be more likely to sustain engaging dinner conversation. It is true that people will get up and mingle before and after the meal; what you are planning here is mealtime socializing.
  • You can make single guests, or guests who don’t know others, more comfortable. This also somewhat alleviates the need for +1s: we had a few single guests who knew only one or two other people at the wedding. By seating them at tables with the few guests they knew as well as others they didn’t know, but with whom we felt they shared common interests, we could safely invite them without +1s.
  • You can work around the “standard table size” problem to guarantee that people who will want to sit together can do so. Imagine you and your significant other mingled a little too long at cocktail hour while others were sitting. You enter the dinner area, realize that there is no seating chart, look for a table and don’t find one. Every available seat is a single, and nobody seems inclined to move. Finding people to move for you requires complicated cross-table negotiation.
  • It’s like a blind date for your loved ones! I love “setting up” my friends with my other friends (not in the romantic way, although that has also happened).
  • It manages drama. Usually. Do you really want your Socialist-leaning lesbian academic friend who just got back from Peace Corps and volunteers for the “Rent is Too Damn High” party to end up sitting with your Libertarian uncle who likes hunting and tells kids to get off his lawn? Probably not. If, however, that’s the only open seat your friend can find –- well, that’ll just be a box of giggles, won’t it?

Why you might not need a seating chart:

  • Your reception does not include a sit-down meal. If you are having a cocktail reception, tea, cake and punch, dessert, picnic-style or other party format, then there is no reason to have a seating chart. These formats are flexible enough that people can more freely move around.
  • Your reception is very small and not in a typical reception hall. If you’re having your reception at a restaurant with ten or twenty people, there is no need to assign seats.
  • You have various tables and seating options of different sizes. If your venue has a mix of large tables, small four-seaters, couches with coffee tables, bartops and other more lounge-like options, you can safely skip the seat assignments.
  • If your wedding is on the small side and everyone genuinely knows each other (and their relationships are mostly drama-free).

    If you don't create a seating chart:

    • Provide more seating than is necessary. Exact ass-to-chair ratios can make it hard for couples to find seats together. Extra seats can alleviate that issue.
    • Try to vary your seating options and table sizes if possible.
    • Consider a reception that doesn't include a full meal. This is not mandatory, simply advised. It opens up mingling and reduces the time when people need to stay in one place.
    • Try to introduce people who don’t know other guests around before the wedding. This way, they will be able to seek out familiar faces later, or consider a cocktail hour that will allow them to meet and chat with potential table mates.
    • Consider allowing single guests to bring +1s.

    If you do create a seating chart:

      • Avoid the dreaded Singles Table. Varying it a bit helps the social experience.
      • Create “Interest Groups” to keep people together. For example: “older family and friends who like guns,” “travelers and expats,” “young hippies,” “old hippies and academics,” “overachieving young professionals,” “raunchy friends and relatives.” It worked beautifully.
      • Create “Groups of Tables.” It’s okay if people who are friends don’t get to sit together — the best way to encourage mingling before and after dinner is to seat them at tables near each other.
      • Don’t assign exact seats, just assign tables. This gives people flexibility even within the structure you create. Of course, this assumes round tables. For family-style events, having a seating chart means assigned seats.
      • Be prepared to make last-minute changes. Even if nobody crashes the party, someone will get sick or have a sudden emergency and be unable to attend. Have some back-up seating cards and be ready for some last-minute re-arranging.
      • Listen to suggestions, but don’t let anyone try to dictate seating to you. Go ahead and hear your Mom or Grandma out on her seating chart ideas, but make the final decision yourself and own it. If necessary, don’t share the final chart with them and do not engage in discussions about it after it’s finished.

        This may seem like a lot to consider. Just remember: all you need to do is reflect on what kind of party you are having, what the venue is like, who your guests are and apply these general guidelines to determine of a seating chart is, for you, a useful tool or an exercise in futility.

        Big thanks to Offbeat Bride for this great article!


        Married: Shannon + Mark

        What a wonderfully compatible couple Shannon + Mark are! The two fit so well together + celebrated their marriage this past May 1st at Hollis Gardens. It was a hot day but well worth- everyone truly enjoyed the beautiful garden + lake where the ceremony was held. Shinner Photography sent over a few teasers of the couple- more to come soon!