Bits and Buds: The Dandelion Patch Blog
Aug1st

Spreading Pixie Dust: If I Could Write a Letter to Me, Part 1

Today I was driving home from a meeting, and a familiar song came on from Brad Paisley. And although I know most of the words to a  “Letter to me,” and have sung along many times, this time I started thinking…what would I tell my 17 year-old self?

More specifically, if I had a chance to look into the crystal ball for my business BEFORE it was incorporated, what do I wish I knew then that I know NOW? Thoughts came flooding through as fast as those flying past me on the 495 Express Lane. By the time I reached my office I realized that if I could do it all over again… there are three things I’d change.

And because I feel so strongly about each topic, I am going to spend three weeks revealing each humbling learning.

Lesson #1: Debt is a four letter word.

As a small business owner, it’s our nature to always see the glass as half-full. To see every obstacle as an opportunity; to see our future as bright with zero detours and zero failures. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t blessed with perfect batting averages. Which means that of course, at some point in our business- we will sweat making payroll or miss a very important payment.

Truth be told, I took on a serious loan in 2010 when I began to expand across our tri-state area. And although I had done plenty of spreadsheets and created a plethora of probable outcomes whereas I’d be able to cover this very expensive debt service; I never in a 100 years expected to be hit with a catastrophic flood in 2012. That same flood, completely killed my 6-month-old store at National Harbor, Maryland. And with that loss, came the unfortunate news that I had no insurance on that property because my agent made a careless and honest mistake.

Was the loss of an entire store and all it’s contents in any of my forecasts? No way. Do I still have the same loan to pay back to the bank? You betcha. Do I still look at the glass as half full? Yep. But after this loan is paid in full, I will never, ever, take on any additional loans- for any reason.

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Our National Harbor Store March 17, 2012 -September 21, 2012. Photo via Penney Design Group.

After that major loss happened to my business in 2012, we obviously suffered from significant loss of cash flow- since I was having to pay off vendors, contractors and the bank with one less profit center.

It was tempting to extend credit, and take terms with my vendors. However, I decided that if I couldn’t pay for what I wanted/needed with cash or check… then whatever it was, would simply have to wait until I could pay for it with zero debt or credit.

Frankly, after having been in business for five years and constantly negotiating the longest possible terms and discounts with which to pay vendors, this was a radical change for our business. But I actually think that by instituting the pay-in-full, and pay-up-front concept, I have learned a bit about self-discipline.

It’s not unlike going shopping: you see the latest dress/purse/shoes that you really must have. But you forgot your credit cards at home. And a week goes by, and you’ve forgotten about the dress/purse/shoes. If we really need it, we find the cash. If it’s just a “nice to have” and not a “necessary to have” – then we can’t afford to extend our payables to have it NOW. Instant gratification is rarely the best solution.

I am about four years away from paying off that very large loan. And with every payment, I am keeping my eye on the prize- my financial security. Isn’t that the reason we go into business for ourselves anyway?

Ribbon Cutting Rodney Bailey

Until next time, here’s to big wishes and pixie dust.

xoxo,

Heidi


Jul31st

Friday Introductions: Meet Our Newest Patchette!

Our Friday Introduction series is taking a little bit of a different twist today! We’re introducing you to our newest Patchette, Kelsea Inson from Warrenton, Virginia. She is one of our Design Studio Patchettes, meaning she designs and creates all of our pretty paper! 

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Photo via Kelly Kuvakas Photography.

The Dandelion Patch: How did you get started in this industry? 

Kelsea: I started graphic design in college, at College of the Ozarks. Even before college, I worked with textiles, patterns, and sewing. So, once I got to school I double majored in textiles and graphic design. I did an internship at a magazine and really started getting into layouts. After that, I got my job at The Dandelion Patch where I use my design knowledge to create a couple’s wedding paper! 

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The Dandelion Patch: Describe a typical day for you at The Dandelion Patch Design Studio.

Kelsea: I have to start everyday with a big cup of coffee, I can’t function without it! Once that’s kicked in, I check my e-mails for any major wedding emergencies. Then I split my day between designing proofs for invitations and day of paper and printing the actual paper. Depending on the day, I may also transition into production–assembling wedding programs, tying bows for menus, etc. Honestly though, everyday is different! You just never know! I think that’s a big part of what makes my job so much fun! 

The Dandelion Patch: What is your favorite part about a wedding?

Kelsea: Definitely the interaction between the bride and groom as she’s walking down the aisle. I just love seeing how happy they are, and I think how they interact is unique to them as a couple.

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The Dandelion Patch: Please share a fun fact with us! 

Kelsea: I love sewing evening wear! I don’t have a ton of time to do it, but I still love it!

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So there’s just a little bit of information about our lovely new Patchette! Who knows?! Soon she could be designing your wedding paper! Don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest/Instagram @TheDandelionPatch and like us on Facebook for more wedding fun!

-Jessica 

All photos courtesy of Kelsea Inson. 


Jul31st

Meet our Patch Partners: Windows Catering

Today we our introducing you to the fabulous Windows Catering! We had the honor of enjoying their delicious food at one of our last events and all of us at The Dandelion Patch, plus our guests, were raving about the food for weeks! We talked to Sarah Nester, an event designer for the company who shared great advice on planning a wedding (or any event!) you need catered!

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Photo via Gascoine Photography

The Dandelion Patch: How would you describe Windows Catering to a couple? Does Window’s have a specialty?

Windows Catering: Over the past 28 years, Windows Catering Company has established a national reputation as one of Washington DC’s premier off-premise catering companies. Our highly acclaimed culinary and operations teams have an outstanding reputation for delivering the highest quality cuisine and professional service. Our “new American” -style cuisine is abound with inventive interpretations and modern creations of American, regional and international cuisine. Chef/Proprietor Henry Dinardo, Executive Chef Pasquale Ingenito and Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Lhuillier (National Team Pastry Champion) continually update Window’s offerings with a variety of delicacies that include items like Truffled Lobster “Corn Dog” with Grain Mustard Soubise and Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Torchon Apricot Peach Compote and Moulard Duck Ham. Chef Lhuillier’s pastry creations and wedding cakes are simply awe-inspiring in both taste and presentation. We can cater a gala for 1,000 guests, a summer barbeque for 200 or a tea party for 30 with as much care . There are no limits to what Windows can do for our clients! (And trust me, we’ve done it all over the past 28 years!)

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The Dandelion Patch: How would you suggest making the decision between serving food buffet style or service style at a wedding reception?

Windows: Windows wants your wedding to be about YOU and your guests. The debate between a buffet and seated service-style is primarily about the vibe you want to create in the room. Buffet style service tends to lend itself more to a casual, interactive atmosphere. A served meal is more formal and does not create as much interaction between guests. When choosing between the two options you should also consider the variety of foods you’d like to serve…and of course your budget. Buffets, or stations, provide more flexibility in the types of cuisine you can offer. 

Regardless of your choice of service, the menu you create with your caterer is a wonderful way to showcase who you are as a couple. For example, if you’re from the Jersey Shore, and you want Boardwalk Fries at your wedding, it is our job to recreate your desires and not push you into picking something standard. Many people chose off-premise catering for the freedom and creativity it provides. So if you like the variety that comes with buffets, do a buffet! If you desire a more classic duel entree with filet and lobster for each person that’s absolutely fine as well. 

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The Dandelion Patch: How did you get into the catering business? Do you have a favorite memory from a wedding (or any other event)?

Windows: Funny enough, weddings are the reason I got into catering. In my former careers, I was an event/wedding planner (for a non-profit and association as well as for Bash DC), and over time I grew to realize that I loved the opportunities catering provided. If you want to focus on weddings, you can. If you want to focus on huge galas, you can. If you prefer ensuring lawyers get their weekly lunch buffet, then you can have that opportunity as well. There are so many reasons people need catering. And what they really want is good food and good service no matter what the event may be. I’m proud to work at Windows because we provide our clients and their guests with just that. 

Our corporate drop business is fascinating to me as well, we can do 500 boxed meals for a youth group, provide a beautiful lunch buffet for a board meeting, or deliver a special cake for an office birthday celebration. And, of course, seeing how our kitchen operates is just amazing! They start at 5 am and go well into the evening in production…It’s constantly buzzing and humming here and I love that. 

My favorite memory at Windows is standing 10 inches away from First Lady Michelle Obama for a luncheon hosted at the Library of Congress. I actually was a little star struck. We get to meet and interact with so many fascinating people in our business.

The Dandelion Patch: Is there anything you wish couples knew before choosing a caterer?

Windows: Do not be afraid to ask direct questions and have a budget in mind. We need to hear what a couple’s vision is for their special evening. It can be frustrating if couples aren’t clear on what they want. We formulate our menus and design elements around YOU, so tell us what you want! Also, do not write off a caterer based on budget concerns. Some of my favorite weddings have been intimate weddings at the home for 30 or 40 guests. I love the idea of an intimate dinner party! Be creative and don’t get caught in a box. Feel free to challenge the idea of what a wedding “is”. It is what you want it to be!

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The Dandelion Patch: What are options that a couple needs to think about when providing food for their guests?

Windows: Most guests recognize that a wedding means they need to be open and flexible to what they are being offered. However, you certainly want to be respectful of allergies or dietary restrictions, so be sure to ask, especially if you’re doing a plated option. And I find that most guests have a real “When in Rome,” mentality. If your wedding is in DC, incorporate elements of what DC is to you. We have a very exciting culinary scene in DC. While staples like Maryland Crab Cakes or Shenandoah Trout are also an option, many people comes to DC for the amazing fusion cuisine. We are constantly being asked to add a little Latin or South American, Asian, or even European flair to our good…and Windows is always up for experimentation. 

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The Dandelion Patch: Please provide us with a fun fact about yourself!

Windows: I feel very fortunate to be in this industry. I love going to events… so why not work in events! But my absolutely favorite guilty pleasure of this industry is when the client asks me to be creative with the table design. It’s the planner inside of me that gets really nerdy and excited about a beautifully designed room that I helped create. My second favorite guilty pleasure is shopping for that one treasure or gem at secondhand, discount or antique stores. I could spend all day looking through junk for that one pair of 1950′s Balenciaga gloves (which hasn’t happened yet…)

Doesn’t that food just make your mouth water?! Thanks to Sarah for talking to us and thanks to Windows Catering for all that they do! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram/Pinterest @TheDandelionPatch for more information on our fabulous patch partners!

All other photos courtesy of Steven Saldana of Studio Saldana. 

-Jessica

 


Jul30th

Theme Thursday: Think (Pale) Pink

Most of us girls have been dreaming about our weddings since we were little. And for a lot of us, those wedding fantasies included a lot of pink. But now that we’re all grown up and starting to think about our real weddings, is there a way to include pink without it looking like a five year old’s dream? YES. Pink is a classic wedding color for a reason… It’s beautiful, romantic, and goes with so many colors. Today we’re featuring our favorite ways to incorporate pale pink, a timeless and elegant wedding color. 

The obvious start…pink flowers! Peonies and roses look classic in a pale pink hue, but there are so many great pink flower choices!

Featured Below: MODWedding

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How great do these bridesmaids look in their pink dresses?

Featured Below: Wedding Chicks

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We love how these grooms incorporated pink. Looking good!

Featured Below: The Knot / Style Me Pretty

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This rose petal ceremony aisle is perfect. So romantic!

Featured Below: Style Me Pretty

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Nothing looks as fun as pretty pink drink! 

Featured Below: Brit + Co / Intimate Wedding

Pink Drinks

Of course a pink cake is a must. 

Featured Below: Style Me Pretty / MOD Wedding

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Go big or go home right?! Take the tradition out of the pink and wear a pastel pink wedding gown! 

Featured Below: MOD Wedding

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What were your wedding colors? We’d love to hear them! Share with us on Facebook! And don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest/Instagram for more inspiration!

-Jessica


Jul29th

Real Wedding Wednesday: Jim & Liz

Every week we will now be featuring one of our amazing Dandelion Patch couples and their Real Wedding! We are so excited to start off our Real Wedding feature with Liz and Jim. 

Planning: Atrendy Wedding | Photographer: Elizabeth Fogarty | Venue: Woodend Sanctuary | Catering: Corcoran Caterers | Flowers: Toulies en Fleur

The invitation suite that we designed for Liz and Jim was creative and simple, and matched their venue and theme perfectly! This gorgeous picture highlights everything we loved about the suite! Congrats to Liz and Jim.

Elizabeth and James - Elizabeth Fogarty

 Their Woodend Sanctuary wedding had some absolutely beautiful details, and we loved the soft and simple color palette. 

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Their venue was so beautiful, that it only needed minimal (and oh so pretty) decor to let the natural beauty shine through! 11218872_505812369566864_7067033848411636979_n

We can’t stop staring at all of the gorgeous flowers in this wedding! The added greenery makes the blooms even more beautiful than they already are.

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Congratulations to Liz and Jim!

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We love seeing our Patch Couples happily married, and can never get enough of their gorgeous pictures. 

Check out Elizabeth Fogarty’s blog for the rest of the gorgeous pictures HERE

-Sam 

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest @TheDandelionPatch and to like us on Facebook to keep up with our real weddings every week!


Jul28th

Tuesday Trends: Romantic Lighting

This week for Tuesday Trends, we thought we would high-light some of our favorite lighting trends of the summer! We love how a string of twinkle lights, a chandelier or an overall warm glow can put the perfect finishing touch on any space! 

These gorgeous chandeliers surrounded by string lights make an outdoor tent reception something special! We can hardly stop staring!

Featured Below: Wedding Chicks

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Featured Below: My Wedding Reception Ideas

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Twinkly string lights and a rustic space are the perfect wedding combination! We love the warm glow it gives this rustic-chic decor.

Featured Below: Fab Mood

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Don’t forget to make sure your guests can see the fabulous food they are being served. These romantic candles will set a lovely mood for the meal!

Featured Below: Fab Mood

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We love the casual, but special feeling that these bistro lights give the outdoor reception space.

Featured Below: Ruffled Blog

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Mix up your lighting with some other quirky decorations! These pennants are adorable

Featured Below: Three Pennies

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We love this wall of light behind the bride and groom! What a great way to add a focal point to your wedding decor.

Featured Below: The Huffington Post

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This lighting idea is definitely a piece of art. Think of all of the amazing photos you can get with this creative option!

Featured Below: The Huffington Post

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Tell us about your ideas for romantic wedding lights! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Pinterest @TheDandelionPatch

-Sam

 

 

 


Jul27th

Monday Funday: Ceremony Space Styling

If you are planning an outdoor ceremony, and need some styling inspiration, look no further! Outdoor settings allow for so much creativity and of course, nature is always beautiful. We have some great ideas for styling your ceremony space so that the natural beauty shines through on your big day!

This wine cellar is gorgeous on its own, and the bistro lighting brings out the beauty in the space without going overboard.

Featured Below: Once Wed

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Sometimes, the best decor can be simple and white! A bride in a traditional white gown would look stunning in this setting, as well as a nontraditional bride who decided to switch up her dress color!

Featured Below: Destination Weddings 

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We love the simplicity of the sunflowers on this arch! Perfect for a casual, backyard style wedding full of fun and color.

Featured Below: Justine Johnson 

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This pretty backdrop is rustic and romantic at the same time. If you have handy people helping you out, this could even be the perfect wedding DIY!

Featured Below: MODWedding

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A beach wedding calls for very little decor, because the backdrop is so naturally gorgeous, but we love these stunning florals and pop of color.

Featured Below: Southern Weddings 

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Southern Weddings

Getting married under a large tree provides the perfect backdrop for different kinds of lighting and decorations, and can create the perfect magical picture of your ceremony.

Featured Below: The Huffington Post

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Of course, outdoor weddings can have unpredictable weather, so make sure you have a Plan B, even if it is just a groomsman and an umbrella!

Featured Below: Our Love is Loud 

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An outdoor wedding can be a perfect and beautiful day, as long as you are prepared to let nature be it’s beautiful self! 

Make sure you like us on Facebook for updates, and follow us on Pinterest and Instagram @TheDandelionPatch

-Sam


Jul25th

Spreading Pixie Dust: Patience is a Virtue- or is it?

I haven’t been feeling well this week. I’ve been to countless doctors and had multiple tests run, simply to be told to be patient and wait for results. Telling an entrepreneur to be patient is like telling a puppy to not chew your favorite pair of shoes. For a puppy, chewing is instinctive and soothing. And more importantly, the puppy doesn’t yet know any better. 

Similarly a common trait of an entrepreneur is impatience. They want it now. They need answers yesterday. And crossing off things on their to-do list is more invigorating than drinking a case of Red Bull. 

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In addition to my busy workload at the Patch, I am frequently a guest speaker at many outlets in the area on topics ranging from small business ownership to stationery trends.

However, this week has been a bit of an eye opening experience for this entrepreneur and I think I have a new goal to have more patience

Certainly I’ve been sick before. And yes, I’ve had to wait impatiently for results. But in addition to my desire to find a cure to my belly ache, I have had a few pressing business issues happening at the exact same time as my illness. And as normal, I have wanted to call/visit/solve the business problem. But I physically haven’t been at my best and my days and deadlines are working around my ability to focus while on Tylenol 3.

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We attend and present at about a dozen wedding showcases a year.

Because of this, I’ve learned that everything can, and sometimes should, go a bit slower in my life.  

I had a phone call today with one of my landlords and I was giving him a state-of-the-union address while asking him to do a few improvements with our property. I told him I’d get some reports and answers to him by COB today even though I wasn’t well. He calmly listened to my drug-induced rant, and when he could get a word in edge-wise, he said “Heidi, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And you should reflect on these changes you are proposing for a few days or weeks. Not hours.”

Heidi Busy

When I’m not working, you can find me as an active participant in many local charities. Photo courtesy of Revamp.

After catching myself trying to defend my reasons for my impatience, I realized that perhaps I’ve heard this recorded message before. It goes something like this:

  • But I have to (fill in the blank) right now, or someone else will steal the idea
  • But I have to (fill in the blank) right now, or my staff/clientele won’t understand
  • But I have to (full in the blank) right now, or I won’t have enough money   
  • But I have to (fill in the blank) right now, or my business won’t grow

Does any of this resonate with you?

Earlier this year a wise friend told me that activity does not equal productivity. However, being busy (active) has been my middle name for as long as I’ve owned my business. Perhaps it’s time for a change of pace? I’m trying patience on for a while. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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Just trying to be patient. Photo courtesy of Kara Allan.

Until next time, here’s to big wishes and pixie dust.

Xoxo, 

Heidi


Jul24th

Friday Introductions: Terri Eaves of Bash

Today we are introducing you to Terri Eaves, the owner of Bash, a DC based event production firm. Keep reading for some great tips for planning your wedding, plus a glimpse at how beautiful some of her events have been! 

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Photo courtesy of Sweet Tea Photography.

The Dandelion Patch: Does Bash have a specialty? How do you differentiate yourself from other planners?     

Terri Eaves: We want to create the unexpected. With all weddings there is a bit of formality and continuity. However, we really want to create something your guests don’t expect – whether it’s an aerial trapeze artist during cocktail hour, that occurs before the ceremony, or champagne toasts during the nuptials.

We also work with and have a lot of experience with corporate and non-profit clients. We are well versed in a variety of personalities and curves thrown our way. We learn at every event and then apply it to the next one to make sure we are always staying on top of our game.

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The Dandelion Patch: What tips do you have for a couple who recently got engaged?

Terri Eaves: First, celebrate! Enjoy a night out with family and/or friends, or just each other – go to your favorite restaurant, pop open a bottle of champagne and look forward to the life you are about to begin with each other.

The second thing is to determine the budget and style of wedding you want. Is it at home, at a hotel, is it formal or more casual?

 Then, hire a wedding planner! Any client of ours will tell you that we were worth our weight in gold. We’ll help you create the vision you have and bring together the expert team of vendors to make it happen, all while keeping you happy and stress free!

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The Dandelion Patch: What is the most important thing a couple can tell you about their vision?

The most important thing a couple can tell me, is what they don’t like or want! I know it sounds crazy, but it’s always helpful to know what a client really dislikes. That way, I make sure that vendors (myself included) stay away from colors, food, etc., that might turn the client it off. It’s also so helpful when clients have a firm opinion on something. If a client isn’t able to make a decision or is indifferent, I always find they have an opinion later and no one wants to find out that they are unhappy because they didn’t speak up beforehand.

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The Dandelion Patch: What are common mistakes you see couples making when planning their weddings?

Terri Eaves: We often see couples who are taking into account, too much of everyone else’s opinion. Whether it’s a parent who doesn’t like the entree or a maid of honor who doesn’t like the linen. Even if they are having help paying for some or all of it, try not to stress out the couple. There are so many decisions to be made and even with a planner, these things can make it hard on a client.

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The Dandelion Patch: How did you get started as an event planner? Do you have a favorite memory from your wedding planning experiences?

Terri Eaves: In college I was my sorority’s social chair. I graduated with a degree in art (emphasis in Graphic Design), but something events were calling my name. Upon graduating, I got a job with a company where we planned corporate events. A few years later I went out on my own!

My favorite memory with any wedding is when I really start to click with and become a part of the client’s family. I can usually always pinpoint when I’m no longer just their planner, but really a friend.

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The Dandelion Patch: Please share a fun fact about yourself. 

I buy everything online – home decor, clothes, etc. Whenever someone asks my daughter where her outfit or shoes are from, she tells them “the mailman got them for me”!

How stunning are those wedding shots?! And who doesn’t love a little online shopping (or a lot…)? A big thank you to Terri Eaves for being a part of our Friday Introduction series! Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest/Instagram @TheDandelionPatch for more wedding fun and information on our fabulous Patch Partners! 

-Jessica

All other photos courtesy of Nicole Wolf Photography.

 

 


Jul23rd

Theme Thursday: Boho Chic

Bohemian style has been trending for almost ten years now–it seems no one wants to stray away from its effortless beauty. Incorporating this trend into your wedding allows for a stunning, but laid back vibe. Boho-chic can also look extremely romantic, which is perfect for a wedding! 

These blue bridesmaids dresses are whimsical and bohemian. Plus, they could be your something blue! 

Featured Below: Deer Pearl Flowers

Blue Bridesmaid

Bohemian decor adds just the right mix of romance and rustic to your wedding! 

Featured Below: Brit + Co / Happy Wedd
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This bride found the perfect field setting for bohemian photos. Even from the back, the effect is gorgeous! 

Featured Below: Mix and Bash field shot This cake is ombre, has real flowers, and is a naked cake. All trending right now! And all perfect for a boho chic wedding! 

Featured Below: Hey Wedding Lady naked cake The mix and match bridesmaid dress trend works perfectly for a bohemian wedding by fitting in perfectly with the relaxed nature of the theme.

Featured Below: Wedding Party App Mixmatch

This stunning photo is the essence of bohemian–her hair, the backdrop, those flowers, the dress, I could keep going…

Featured Below: Tessa Barton Boho Couple When it comes to boho wedding hair, you can’t go wrong with braids, loose curls, and of course, flower crowns.

Featured Below: The Robertson’s Photography / Brit + Co 
Flower Crowns A bohemian wedding calls for wildflowers. And this couple definitely went for it! Beautiful!

Featured Below: Colin Cowie Weddings 
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And of course, don’t forget to add some boho-inspiration to your wedding invitations and day-of paper! Check out our Facebook page, and follow us on Pinterest/Instagram @TheDandelionPatch for more wedding inspiration!

-Jessica