Carole Keily

Wedding Cakes by Simply Desserts

Simply Desserts wedding cake

By Ashley Claire Simpson The first wedding cake that Kimberly McDonald ever made was for her very own nephew — just a few months after launching Simply Desserts, her Gainesville-based full-service bakery. She was of course known for making delicious cakes that looked more like works of art than baked goods, but, she hadn’t yet stepped into the world of weddings. And, though it has often been said that it is a risk to mix family and business, McDonald’s first venture into wedding desserts went simply swimmingly. “That first wedding cake was within three months of starting my business,” McDonald recalled. “I was determined to execute a tier cake, and I did just that. I’m self-taught, so, I had to scour the internet and pour over books. From that point on, it’s been a learning curve, and I’ve gotten really …

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Manassas Park Community Center: A Hidden Gem

By Jennifer Lazzo Surrounded by homes and community parks, the Manassas Park Community Center is a welcome and unexpected surprise. This hidden gem boasts a 3,480-square-foot banquet hall with neutral décor – perfect for showcasing any event’s theme. “When people think of a community center, they don’t think of the functionality of what we have,” said Amelia Powell, customer service supervisor for the Center. “We have the large banquet hall and the pre-function area, or cocktail area, which gives flexibility to the event.” The banquet hall can be divided into two smaller spaces, each seating 115; the full hall can seat up to 230 guests. While many clients use the pre-function space to host cocktail hour, some have added tables to the space to accommodate larger events. Redesigned and rebuilt just seven years ago, the Center also has a spacious …

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Farm Brew Live: A One-Stop Destination for Barns, Brews and Bashes

By Jennifer Lazzo Farm Brew Live is the place to go for locally-crafted beer, craft food, and live entertainment. With spaces both big and small – and everything in between – it’s the perfect destination to host a special occasion. The eight-acre campus is the home of the historic Thomasson Barn, built in 1929 on a former dairy farm, as well as new buildings that have been completed in phases. The first phase included 2 Silos Brewery, the Pour House and the Yard. The Living Room at the Pour House, located on the mezzanine level overlooking the 2 Silos tasting room; the brewery’s processing area, when available due to the production schedule; and the VIP area of the Yard, with seating for 50, are smaller spaces perfect for bachelor parties, bridal showers or rehearsal dinners. Next came the Great Hall, …

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Heritage Hunt Combines Tradition and Convenience for a Personalized Wedding Experience

For couples who want the feel of a picturesque hunt country wedding in a convenient setting with personalized service, Heritage Hunt Golf & Country Club provides the best of both worlds. Located just off I-66 in Gainesville, Heritage Hunt offers two wedding venues on property that was once a horse farm. With indoor and outdoor wedding options, couples can choose based on their style and guest count, said Cary Muirhead, director of sales. The Great Oak Ballroom is located in the 28,000 square-foot Heritage Hunt Clubhouse, which was designed to emulate the grand Colonial-style of a Virginia plantation. The classically appointed space can accommodate up to 330 guests. It features a built-in wood dance floor, a raised stage with lighting and an integrated sound system. The Marsh Mansion offers a more intimate venue, about a mile and half past the …

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Capturing the Story

By Marianne Weaver The music stops. Guests go home. The tux is returned, and the dress preserved. Months – maybe years – of planning become merely a memory. Most photographers shoot the day’s highlights, but a special few capture the emotions of the day, those images that transport the couple back to their wedding day. “There are several images that take me back to the exact moment they were taken,” recalled Caitlin Clapp of Manassas, who was married April 6, 2018, at Bull Run Golf Club in Haymarket, Virginia. “From the photos of my bridesmaids and me singing and joking around while getting all dolled up; to the ending of the night where we had the whole dance floor rocking out to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, you can practically feel the energy and hear the music just from looking at those …

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Designing Custom Honeymoons and Destination Weddings

By Helena Tavares Kennedy Many brides enjoy planning their wedding, but may leave the honeymoon planning to their future husband, or hire an expert in travel to help plan the perfect getaway after the wedding. Some brides and grooms plan a destination wedding – getting married at their honeymoon location. Divine Destination Weddings & Honeymoons takes care of all of that for brides and grooms, giving them the opportunity to truly relax during their special time. Divine has 13 agents that work from all across the U.S. so no matter where you live, you will find a travel expert in your area to help you plan your honeymoon near you or to some exotic paradise on the other side of the world. They work with some of the travel industry’s leading suppliers and are associated with the luxury travel consortia …

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Wedding Hair Trial

Oftentimes, something that gets overlooked while prepping for your wedding day is your hairstyle. While you may be combing Pinterest and finding cute ideas from our “Real Brides & Weddings” features on the blog, you may not be thinking about a wedding hair trial. Talk with your stylist ahead of time and plan out a trial appointment to try different looks. You may be surprised to find that the style you choose does not look like you expected! On the day of your hair trial, bring anything you think will help your stylist understand the looks you love or the style of your wedding. Bring the veil or any hair accessories you plan to wear. Have a friend take a photo of you in your dress at a fitting. Bring a color swatch if you have it and even bring the style you …

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To the Rescue!

No matter how organized you are and how much planning you’ve done before the wedding, you should always expect the unexpected. And an emergency kit for your wedding day is the best way to prepare. If building your own kit, start at least two or three months before the wedding so you can gather the items over time. This allows you to consider the possible needs of your close friends and family. Designate someone to be responsible for the emergency kit, bringing it from location to location and keeping it readily available. Suggested emergency kit items: Band-Aids Blotting papers Bobby pins Bottle of water Clear nail polish Deodorant Nail file Feminine products Hairspray Hand lotion Hand sanitizer Lipstick or lip gloss Mints Pain reliever Q-tips Safety pins Small lint brush Super glue Tissues Tums/Rolaids Sewing Kit with scissors Granola bars or other easy-to-carry snacks Straws (you …

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Wonderful Wedding Weekends

In this modern day of transient lifestyles, wedding guest lists contain relatives and friends traveling from both coasts. To make the most of the time couples can spend with their friends and family members, brides and grooms are planning wedding weekends and hosting multiple events in unique venues. The wedding weekend consists of numerous parties and activities centering around guests getting to know each other while enabling the bride and groom time to relax and enjoy catching up with friends and family. A wedding weekend agenda typically goes like this: The Ice Breaker This party is usually held on the Thursday evening prior to the wedding. This dinner has replaced the traditional rehearsal dinner as it is often the first time the bride and groom’s families meet. It’s a good idea to keep this event on the casual and fun side, incorporating themes like a barbecue or Hawaiian luau. Bridal Party Outings These events are designed to …

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Beautiful Barn Weddings

Rustic and romantic, barns offer a unique alternative for a wedding reception. Throughout the western countryside of Northern Virginia, landowners with special zoning can offer their properties for wedding receptions a limited number of times a year. Wineries that host weddings are borrowing barn architecture for their tasting room designs. Event centers are popping up with the look and feel of barns, coupled with modern amenities. There’s even a country club in Fairfax that boasts a barn exterior with newly remodeled banquet space. Barns offer a blank décor canvas. You can play up the countryside with hay bales, barrels for cocktail tables and carnival lights. Or take your design in a different direction with the unexpected elegance of fine linens and china, Chiavari chairs and beautiful floral centerpieces. If you have your heart set on a barn wedding, here are some guidelines to help you choose the …

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Five Reasons to Use a Honeymoon Travel Specialist

Did you know that the services of a professional travel agent come at no cost to you? Why stress over planning the most special trip of your life? Read on and learn from Travel Consultant Sandy Pullen of Divine Destination Weddings & Honeymoons: CUSTOMIZED SERVICES: Whether you are looking for breathtaking beaches, amazing mountains or a Greek adventure, travel consultants who specialize in honeymoons and destination weddings understand that each traveler is unique. An agent’s first step will be to talk with you and understand your specific travel needs, interests and desires, then translate them into your own personalized travel adventure. BEST VALUE: A professional travel consultant will use industry relationships to offer you exclusive vacation packages, amenities and travel specials that you won’t find anywhere else, as well as help you get the most value for your travel budget. ALL IN THE DETAILS: Travel is no longer simple. There are so many details that go into every trip. Your honeymoon specialist will guide …

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