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Photobomb by Rhea Whitney Photography

Last week, I so enjoyed being introduced to a new skill...photography! Who better to show me how to work my DSLR camera than my friendor, Rhea of Rhea Whitney Photography

Over the past year, Rhea and I have become friends, colleagues and she is the photographer behind my headshots conveying the Sensational Soirees brand. She recently launched a new service, Photobomb by Rhea Whitney Photography, which provides introductory photography training to creatives. While I have no desire to become a professional photographer, I knew I could benefit from some hands on training. Why you ask? As a blogger, quality images for my posts are essential, so knowing how to capture the images I need on my own is so helpful. Additionally, as a planner and designer, being able to capture behind the scenes shots of my work is so necessary. 

Photobomb was just what I needed to better understand the features on my camera, as well as tips and tricks to capture great images. Rhea provided me with the fundamentals of photography, and I was able to put the tips she shared into action right then and there. Check out a couple test shots I captured:

My time of learning with Rhea was so informative and lots of fun, too! I was even able to be apart of the promo filming for Photobomb. While I will of course continue utilizing the services of professional photographers for my events and business needs, the training was extremely helpful, and I strongly encourage other creatives in the DMV area to take part in this. If you too love learning new ways to enhance your business, contact Rhea to learn more about this awesome training.

What are some skills you are interested in learning for your business or brand? Share in the comments section. I'll go first, I really want to learn more about calligraphy, and hope to take another course this fall. I can't wait to hear about your learning interests!

Sensationally yours,

Shalyce

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I Heart #IntriguedExperience

We all know Thursdays are synonymous in the social world with sharing past memories and events, with the hashtag #TBT. Well 3 months ago (I know, doesn't really qualify for a true throwback), I had the most amazing time attending the Intrigued Experience, hosted by Sarah Campbell of Intrigue Designs. This 3 day, hands-on floral and design conference essentially propelled me to chase my dreams even more, and I'm excited to share a few key takeaways with you today. Plus, tons of eye candy captured by Madison Short Photography...the gorgeous flowers and attention to detail were insane throughout the conference!

It's funny because I went to the conference with the expectation to further explore my new found love for floral design and how it could enhance my business, but left gaining so much more than that. The hands-on floral training was extremely valuable and mind blowing, but I think the business education and new relationships I built were just as amazing if not more. I was honored to receive a partial scholarship to attend the conference, and I remember feeling so humbled and excited when I received the note from Sarah, the owner of Intrigue Designs. It turns out, Sarah started her career in event planning, and later found that floral design was her true calling. Sarah's inspiring journey, as well as the insights of the other conference speakers and panelists were all so motivating, and reaffirmed that I made the right decision to invest in my education by attending this conference.

The Intrigued Experience brought together florists, wedding and event planners, photographers and other creatives from all over, all in the name of education and community. We gathered at the beautiful Chesapeake Bay Beach Club and The Inn at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club; talk about beautiful and accommodating! The hands-on floral workshops were better than I could've imagined! I learned everything from creating a floral chandelier to botanical jewelry to floral crowns and so much more. The floral industry leaders who led each of the workshops were so giving of their knowledge and expertise, not to mention we had so much fun, too! The business education sessions were awesome as well, and a few things that really resonated with me were:

  • Jamie Kutchman Wynne, owner of Marigold and Grey, encouraged us to do client gifting thoughtfully and systematically, along with describing our brand in 3 words. She was responsible for putting together all of the amazing swag at the conference, to include the cutest hard bound book where we could write notes.
  • Natalie Franke, co-founder of the Rising Tide Society and international wedding photographer, shared tips on rocking social media, to include reaching millennials by being authentic and viewing social media as a micro blog.
  • During the planner's panel, which I naturally loved, they reminded the fellow event planners in the room to take care of our vendors and they in turn will take care of us. We are all in this to win in business and for our clients!
  • Krista and Davey Jones, co-founders of the Rising Tide Society and film photographers, shared that branding is how you make people feel and encouraged us to always be ourselves.
  • Mandy Majerik, owner of Hot House Design Studio in Birmingham, reinforced the importance of charging your worth and educating the client throughout the process. She also encouraged us not to compare our beginnings to someone else's middle.

When I wasn't crafting beautiful floral arrangements or learning new ways to better my business, I was having the best time with my conference roomies, Shaunda of E'magine Wedding and Events based in Winston Salem, NC and Uche of Designs by Oochay based in Maryland. In addition to these fab ladies, I truly enjoyed getting to know so many of the ladies, several of which were my friends on social media, so finally connecting in person was even better. In my earlier years, introducing myself to others wasn't always my strong suit, but becoming a business owner completely changed that. Whether you are an introvert or not, I encourage you to make the most of networking and building new "friendor" relationships. Each attendee was gifted a pen pal set, so I can't wait to mail "hey, what's new" notes to my new gal pals.

To make 3 amazing days short, I had the best time at the Intrigued Experience, and I'm excited to attend more amazing conferences later this year. If you are a florist, planner or other creative in the wedding industry, I highly recommend attending this yearly conference and you can find out more details here. Share in the comments section what you love most about attending in-person conferences, and enjoy more photos all taken by Madison Short Photography.

Sensationally yours,

Shalyce

* Photography Credit: Madison Short Photography

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DC Wedding Planner: My Core Values

It's Tips Tuesday! For all my fellow creatives and boss ladies, it is so important that our businesses and brands stand for something. Today, I'm chatting about core values, and why they are so important.

Photo Credit: Rekita Nicole

Photo Credit: Rekita Nicole

So what are core values you ask? For me, they are the beliefs and fundamentals for my business, that guide me in achieving my personal definition of success. Core values should tie into who you are as a person and what you want your business to represent. I attended the Intrigued Experience in February (which I'll be recapping on Thursday), and I was so inspired by Heather Crabtree's presentation "Being a Lotus in a Sea of Peony". Through Heather's session, I was challenged to finally develop and put my core values down on paper. 

As we continue to grow our brands, certain values should always remain true. Heather also noted that sharing your core values on your website is very important, so that your clients, blog readers and all others connecting with you can get a better feel for both you and your business. That being said, I'm so happy to share my 10 core values: 

  1. Give My Best - I adore my business, clients, family + friends, and community. You all deserve my best, and I intend to give it to you.

  2. Work With Passion - When you love what you do, it should show. I strive to never let my fire burn out and to pursue each day, each wedding and event, each blog post, all with passion.

  3. Listen and Learn - I'm eager to listen intently to my clients dreams, so I can bring them to life. Along with listening, a continued focus on education and growth will remain paramount.

  4. Share and Care - As the saying goes, sharing is caring. Whether during a planning session or a networking event, I aim to share my expertise, smile and positivity.

  5. Have Fun - Both life and business are better when you're having fun. So let's get this party started!

  6. Pursue Innovation + Creativity - Change, fresh ideas and an open mind are a few of the key ingredients to any creative's growth. Nothing great is built from comfort zones, right?! So I'm committed to pushing myself and the creative juices.

  7. Build Great Relationships - I'm beyond grateful for the amazing relationships I have with my clients and fellow creatives. I look forward to connecting more with others on my entrepreneurial journey, and even making lifelong friendships.

  8. Stay Gracious + Humble - I recognize the source of my strength and the power of community and teamwork, which will continue to keep me grounded.

  9. Dream and Believe - Whether it's a challenging or amazing day, I dare to keep dreaming and believing. Can't stop, won't stop!

  10. Be Sensational - By definition, this means be exceedingly or unexpectedly great. Life is what you make it, and I seek to chase after all the greatness God has in store for my life and business.

Photo Credit: Tamara Pizzeck Photography

Photo Credit: Tamara Pizzeck Photography

Now I'm challenging you - bloggers, boss ladies and all others building their brand - take some time this week to define your core values if you haven't already. Writing them down has truly allowed me to look more intentionally at the way in which I do business, and sharing these values with you also makes me accountable. Hey, a part of community is being accountable to one another, right? So share 1 or 2 of your core values in the comments section, so we can all be inspired and motivated by one another.

Don't forget to check back in Thursday to find out some more great things I learned during the Intrigued Experience, and there just might be some floral eye candy, too! 

Sensationally yours,

Shalyce

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Trends and Tastings hosted by Aisle Perfect

Happy Wedding Wednesday!

With the start of any new year, and especially during engagement season, it's key for event professionals to be aware of the industry trends, while of course creating trends of your own. Last night, I attended Aisle Perfect's Trends and Tastings event, which was a refreshing evening of discussing the latest bridal trends while enjoying delicious hors d'oeuvres pairings. The amazing team of vendors created a gorgeous and inviting space at The Loft at 600 F in Washington, DC that definitely wowed.

Photo via Aisle Perfect  Instagram

Photo via Aisle Perfect Instagram

Photo via Aisle Perfect  Instagram

Photo via Aisle Perfect Instagram

There was so much great knowledge shared last night, and so many talented, wedding professionals in one room. A few of my favorite trend highlights that were shared included:

  • There will be requests more and more for unique florals that are garden inspired, such as these beauties above created by Intrigue Designs.
  • Couples are into personalizing all details of their big day, from custom stationery to hiring a graphic designer to make wedding logos or monograms. Not to mention, of course coming up with wedding themes unique to the couple and hashtags for social media.
  • Blush and gold color palettes are here to stay! Alexandria Lindo also shared that copper is also a great accent for pink hues.
Photo via Aisle Perfect  Instagram

Photo via Aisle Perfect Instagram

Trends and Tastings definitely has me all excited for our 2016 weddings! Kunbi and Ashley of Aisle Perfect did an amazing job hosting the event, and the all-star vendor team didn't disappoint:

Venue: The Loft at 600 F

Florals: Intrigue Designs

Photography: Terri Baskin

Stationery and Design: Alexandria Lindo

Laser Cut Signage: Ten 23 Designs

Calligraphy: Just Write Studios

Rentals: BCG Events

Lighting: The Lighting Source Company

Social Media: Tweet the Bride

Photo Booth: Tickled Photo Booth

Catering: Chef Spyce

Tell us what bridal trends you expect to see this year in the comments section. No wedding is complete without a professional planning team to ensure your vision comes to life, so drop us a note on our Contact page to schedule a complimentary consultation. We'd love to create a new trend for your big day!

- Wedding slayer signing out ;-)


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Sensational 2015

Happy Wednesday! Can you believe 2016 will be here in just 2 days? I don't know about you, but today I feel like celebrating! 2015 has been a sensational and game-changing year for us, and likewise our clients and colleagues. As I reflect on all the weddings, soirees, accomplishments and lessons learned this year, I used the 2015 Best Nine app to recap our year...or at least our year on my favorite social media app, Instagram!

In looking at our top 9 pictures from Instagram, there is a theme that I'm proud ran consistent...work/life balance! As an entrepreneur, wife, mom, friend, daughter, lover of weddings and soirees, supporter of my clients,  and much more, maintaining balance is key in achieving success and happiness. While every year brings its own set of achievements and challenges, I've learned both are needed for our growth and betterment. Sensational Soirees has had an amazing year, and some key things 2015 brought were:

  1. Focus on Education - Talk about taking learning up a notch this year! Apart of any new or seasoned professional's growth and journey is education. Therefore, I took the time this year to not only expand on my current skillsets, but also explore new interests. As a wedding and event planner, I have a natural love for beautiful floral arrangements. Through some amazing workshops this year, I have also developed a love for floral design thanks to the instruction of Petals Edge, Intrigue Design and Decor, and Love Blooms DC. I also took part in entrepreneurial courses, Introduction to Calligraphy and more! I'm excited for even more learning opportunities, workshops and conferences next year, and encourage you to maintain a commitment to expanding your knowledge.
  2. Getting Personal - I started off this year with a renewed focus on the Sensational Soirees brand, what it represents and why I started this journey in the first place. In an industry and area saturated with tons of event planners, it's important to get your unique message across and share about the person(s) behind the brand. So I did just that, this year! For so long, I hid behind a logo not realizing that sharing "me" was important for my business, our brand and our clients. Sharing more of me, my favorites, and inspirations, while maintaining professionalism and business interests, has been key in getting my messaging out there and building relationships with potential and existing clients and colleagues.
  3. Community Over Competition - I truly love supporting and celebrating others not just in my personal life, but also in business. It was instilled in me as a child that what's for me is for me and to do unto others as I would want them to do to me. Likewise, as a business owner I love hearing of others successes, and hitting that "like" button or commenting on others good news and posts, just like I appreciate when support is given to me. In addition to spreading love, it is a joy to receive and share advice and expertise with others. I value groups like the Rising Tide Society who encourage creatives and entrepreneurs to thrive in the spirit of community over competition. This year, I have connected with some pretty amazing and supportive folks through communities like Refine, Savvy Business Owners, #ontheroadtofulltime, and more...so thankful for my new online and local friends and "friendors".
  4. New Website and Systems - I am still over the moon about our website redesign!! Where would we be if it wasn't for Britney Jeanine and Go Live HQ, who made our site sensational! As I said before, properly conveying my brand this year was a must, and this new website has definitely sealed the deal. In addition to the website, we also streamlined our business processes thanks to Aisle Planner, 17Hats and Canva. I could truly go on and on about how amazing these tools have been for us and our clients, but I promise to share more about these great systems in a future post for all my fellow event planners and business owners! #communityovercompetition ;-)
  5. Sensational Weddings + Soirees - Of course, this year has been filled with absolutely sensational events! The planning and design process and seeing each client's happy face means everything to me. I'm so grateful to do what I love, and be apart of making beautiful memories for the amazing folks who trust us to do a sensational job. I invite you to look through our galleries, Instagram page and blog for highlights from this year's weddings and soirees. We are currently booking for 2016, and encourage you to get on our calendar soon. I would love to be apart of your 2016 celebrations!

I hope your 2015 has been amazing, and encourage you to finish this year out strong! Tell me one of your 2016 goals in the comments section. For our last blog post of the year, I leave you with the profound words of Maya Angelou below.

Sensationally yours,

Shalyce

success.jpg


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