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Venue Tour: The Pavilion On Lakeland Farm 

Venue Tour: The Pavilion on Lakeland Farm

I have been touring venues for years and still get excited when I get invited to tour a property I have never seen before. All the better if the venue is newly opened to the public. So when I heard some Facebook buzz about a new venue in Orange Virginia I was eager to visit this countryside manor. Orange VA has a growing wedding industry appealing to high end brides with a taste for elegance & a desire for savvy budgeting. To be clear Orange VA is not a budget wedding destination but an above average budget can go further here. With the increased popularity & demand on Charlottesville venues & vendors, couples are opting for Orange VA as a close, elegant and more affordable alternative.

The name of the venue is The Pavilion on Lakeland Farm & as with all great things in life there is a little twist here, NO Pavilion! Janet Sedwick was my guide and gracious host for this tour. She told me that during the planning and building of the pavilion they changed their design and decided to go bigger and grander with a beautiful estate style conference center. From the outside the structure is colonial southern charm, inside there is enough space for over 250 wedding guests.  This venue offers more space than most in the region so if you are plannning a large wedding this is a great option. The original farm manor was built in the 1870’s and adjoins three well known historic properties, Woodley, Montpelier, and Mayhurst. The property has rolling hills, barns, cows and 240 acres of green pastures, ponds and beautiful landscaping. The gardens overlook the two largest of the three ponds that are on Lakeland. This property is so spacious and breathtaking that brides & grooms will enjoy so many backdrops for their wedding photography. One of my favorite features of this venue is the arched bridge that goes to a small island. This creates a stunning location for ceremonies. There is a hill that overlooks the bridge & island so that guests can be seated on the hill with a perfect view of the island ceremony. In over 400 venue tours I have never seen a feature like this, I absolutely love it!

The Farm was purchased by H.B. Sedwick Jr. in the early 1960’s.  Steve and Janet Sedwick purchased the property in 1989 and moved into the manor home. They completely updated the inside of the original house and added onto three sides of it, keeping the original integrity of their home. This charming farmhouse is available for the bride & groom to stay on site. When I toured this farmhouse I was pleased to see a great fireplace, rustic décor and a feeling of cozy warmth. Engaged couples will have plenty of space to relax and enjoy their stay.

Come experience this exclusive setting of colonial southern elegance with your guests and loved ones.

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Are Wedding Venues Ignoring You? 



“Hello, I am Debbie with Best Cakes bakery. I would love to be on your preferred vendor list and send you my cards so that you can refer me to your brides”.  Debbie leaves the message for a venue she knows is booked up every weekend with weddings. She is so excited and can’t wait to hear back from the venue and all the brides they will start to refer to her business! Debbie called 75 venues over the course of a week and none of them returned her call. Now she feels annoyed, rejected and a bit terrified because she wants to grow her business and isn’t sure what to do. What Debbie does not know is that most of the venues ignored the call or forgot about it during their busy daily schedule. Some of the venues actually looked up her business and found a Facebook page with only 200 followers, no recent posts, no pictures of her cakes & no website listed. This turned off the venues that actually looked her up. The few venues that she spoke with told her she could mail in some cards. This is code for “we are really busy, send us your cards and maybe we will put them somewhere”.

This happens every day in the wedding industry. How are you standing out to a venue that may get 20 or more vendor requests like this monthly? Vendors should be contacting venues BUT are you only looking at the value the venue can offer you? What value are you offering the venue as a wedding vendor? Research shows engaged couples search wedding venues and wedding dresses first. Couples can’t book vendors without knowing their wedding date is confirmed at their preferred venue.  The moment a couple signs their venue contract is the moment they really start their wedding vendor search.

Venues spend (or are charged) more marketing dollars to connect with engaged couples than most other categories of vendor. Some wedding venues spend $10,000 to $20,000 or more per year on wedding shows, print ads, Google ads, social media ads, radio & wedding website promotions. An active venue could have 30 to 60 weddings on their books each year. Venues that work this hard to manage a successful wedding venue are contacted constantly by hopeful vendors wanting wedding referrals. In a sea of great wedding vendors, what sets you apart from everyone else? Vendors that invest time & money on a professional well optimized website,  great social media content including video & images, professional marketing and advertising material – stand out.  Some vendors have a Facebook page or Instagram but very little followers or content and no paid promotions leaving those pages virtually invisible. Some vendors have no website or free websites that are not optimized or customized and therefor virtually invisible. Some vendors do not attend any bridal shows, networking events, they do not network with other wedding vendors and their business is virtually invisible. So, which type of wedding vendor are you? A business that is actively engaging with brides, grooms and wedding industry colleagues to create awareness & demand for your services OR are you virtually invisible and just hoping that other businesses with great visibility will save you with their hard earned referrals? A wedding venue has to know that if they are referring you and supporting your business with their booked weddings, you are supporting the venue in return.

Building mutually beneficial relationships can propel your business and save you a fortune on expensive advertising. However, just taking leads and referrals from others is not a sustainable business plan. You have to provide a value in return or your referrals and leads will dry up or they may never start up in the first place if venues do not take you seriously.

How do you get the venue to take you seriously, add you as a preferred vendor and actively refer your business?

  1. Call them up and get to know them. You should have a list of every venue in the region where you hope to book weddings. Call them, introduce yourself and let them know that you would love to come view the property so you can refer the venue to your brides. A smart wedding vendor knows everything about the venues they want to work with like: venue size, location, grounds, accommodations, indoor/outdoor ceremony sites, onsite catering, parking, facilities, on the water, view of the mountains, gardens, barn, exclusions, etc… Take a sincere interest in the venues so that you can become an expert resource.
  2. Show the venues your value. Invite them to your website where they can see a professional business image with wedding content, contact info, styled shoots, video/images, past work and a page or link to find venues and vendors with whom you have a partnership. Having a page on your site where you may list that venue is a great value. Let the venue know how you bring traffic to your website. Show them that you have great social media exposure by tagging them in some posts and sharing pictures of their venue on your page. Show the venues you are willing to promote & support them in return by promoting them on your social media.  Invite the venues to networking events you attend so the venue can see how active you are in the local wedding community.
  3. Show the venues that you are investing in your business and not just feeding off their marketing & advertising. Let them know how many bridal shows you participate in each year. Inform the venues that you invest in SEO on your site, that you have marketing material in local wedding shops and retailers. Make sure that you have smart, effective marketing tactics in your business plan and that your potential business partners clearly understand all that you are doing to increase leads, referrals and resources you can provide as well.
  4. You don’t have an advertising budget? Can’t afford to optimize your website or attend bridal shows? Then you better network your ass off! Networking combined with social media marketing is incredibly powerful but it takes time and dedication. Learn how to master this and you will create a buzz about your business that venues will want to work with, ignore this and our advice is to not quit your day job. When I started VAWE Network almost 5 years ago I had zero investment dollars. I networked non stop and build a huge following very fast, I created business relationships that referred me, supported me and even saved my business once or twice. Networking success is real and valuable but it takes time and you must be consistent.

When you begin to reach out to other wedding industry businesses to increase your network of referrals & leads don’t expect it to be easy and don’t have an entitled attitude. You should to be willing to work for the respect and trust of others. Many of these venues have been in business for a long time. They may have experienced some  negative encounters with poorly performing wedding vendors and now they are cautious about referring vendors. I never ever take for granted the value of a mutually beneficial business relationship. I am more than willing to work hard to earn the leads and referrals that lead to my business success. Trust is very important in the wedding venue – vendor relationship. Trust is earned. If you feel you are being ignored by the wedding venues you hope to work with then take a look at your entire business image from the venue perspective. Are you projecting the professional business image they want in their business referral relationships? If you would like an honest business image assessment free of charge, then please contact and be prepared for an honest and thorough assessment.

Get Connected, Get Referred, Get To Work!

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Guest Blogger, Sara Kite of The Faded Poppy 

Guest Blogger, Sarah Kite of The Faded Poppy:


I caught the wedding and event bug at a very early age; I’ve been in the event industry in some shape or form for the past 15 years, not including those events for friends and family.

In September 2014 I started The Faded Poppy – a wedding planning & floral design business run from my home in Waynesboro, VA.  I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved in less than a years’ time. I work extremely hard to promote my business as well as those of others in my community.

Networking is one of the key elements to the success of any business – it allows you to meet wonderful people and make great local connections, both of which are invaluable for building clientele since other likeminded business owners are only too happy to refer clients when they are already booked or maybe not entirely what the client is looking for.  I’ve had several opportunities to work with such industry pros, from simply referring brides or participating in styled photo shoots – the possibilities have been tremendous.  I’ve styled and participated in several photo shoots with local photographers, venues, designers, stylists and many other small businesses.

I’m blessed to have made a connection with Daikin Applied in Verona, a 300+ person manufacturing & office facility that’s part of a global conglomerate, who have chosen to use my floral arrangements exclusively.  I’ve created many beautiful pieces for them by working closely with their Customer Events Coordinator.

If you don’t do anything else for your business you must consider networking, you will thank me for this advice. Get out and meet people and find out what you can do to help other local wedding pros bring more brides to your community.

Happy Networking!!

Written & Submitted by Sara Kite

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Venue Tour, Fairfax Hall Dining Room 

Venue Tour, Fairfax Hall Dining Room

We had the great pleasure this week to visit Waynesboro Virginia and tour Fairfax Hall.  Fairfax Hall, also known as Brandon Hotel or Fairfax Hall School, is a historic building. It was built in 1890, and is a 2 1/2-story,  long and rambling resort hotel building in the shingled mode of the Queen Anne Style. It has an irregular symmetry with towers at either end of the facade, a one-story porte cochere, a distinctive octagonal belvedere and cupola, and glassed in first story porches. Also on the property is (was) a contributing gymnasium built in 1926 in the European Renaissance style. It was originally occupied by the Brandon Hotel resort. The Brandon closed in 1913 but the building reopened as a school. In 1920 the school became Fairfax Hall, a junior college and preparatory school for girls.

The first thing I noticed on my tour was that the venue sits up high on a hill overlooking a small neighborhood. There is wonderful paved parking, not a standard feature at venues, me and my pumps appreciate paving! The building is spilling with vintage romantic features. Hard wood flooring, huge windows that allow so much light to brighten the long entry area. The architecture is impressive and you can’t help but imagine all the romance & love that may have happened in this building in well over 100 years of its existence. The banquet space is large and warm, plenty of room for 200 guests to celebrate your wedding comfortably. Kim was our tour guide and she was lovely to all our brides that attended the tour. Usually I tour alone but there were brides at this tour and it was good to see how the staff at Fairfax Hall interacted with them. Our brides were very happy with the tour and so were we!

Fairfax Hall is a Fair Practices Venue, this means that they do NOT charge your selected vendors fees to work here. There are no hidden fees in their agreements for wedding couples. If you want to ensure that you do not get stuck with hidden wedding fees then please select a Fair Practices Venue like this one. This is an official pick up location for the VAWE Network Bride Gift Bag program, if you have registered on our site you can schedule a visit. Brides who book this venue for their wedding will get a gift bag full of offers, savings and discounts! This is a huge value! Call us today to schedule your visit to Fairfax Hall Dining Room

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Venue Tour: Best Western Lee Jackson Inn & Conference Center 

Venue Tour: Best Western Lee Jackson Inn & Conference Center

5 Reasons the to choose the Best Western Lee Jackson Conference Center for your wedding.

1- Experience – The staff is well-trained with years of experience in throwing a well organized party. They anticipate different scenarios and will have a plan B already in place. They have a large team making sure everything is running smoothly.
2- Help – The staff assigned to your event is there to provide first-class customer service. They will help you to the best of their ability to fulfill your needs. Due to the volume of events they handle here, they understand how to manage events up to 500 guests with precision and ease.
3- Cuisine – They have their own full-service catering on site. You don’t have to worry about finding a caterer, shopping or cooking food, and preparing food for your guests. They will help you plan out your menu for you and assist with food allergy concerns and special dietary request.
4- Equipment – Tables, chairs, linens, napkins, china, glassware….etc… Yep, it is all here.

5- Set-up & Clean-up – Best Western Lee Jackson Inn & Conference Center can draw up a floor plan with you and everything will be set-up before your event begins. You’ll even have time to add decorative touches if you want like. After the event is done, the staff will take care of the clean up.

Planning a wedding can be stressful. Managing lots of vendors, event time line, guests, seating, décor, theme, entertainment and getting ready for yourself can be overwhelming. The reasons above show you the benefits of choosing a banquet space with amenities that will cover most of your needs so that you can relax and enjoy your special event.


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The Business of Weddings 


The Business of Weddings

The Venue & Vendor relationship is vital to the success of the local wedding & event industry. If you run a venue you rely on professional vendors to carry out excellent service and make sure guests are thrilled with the experience. Vendors should value the relationship they have with venues that refer them. Most vendors support the venue with referrals, promotion, social media support and motivation to maintain an excellent level of service (investing in their image, sites, adv. appearance & equipment). When the venue does not understand the value of the vendor OR the vendor does not understand the value of the venue then the balance is off and you have lack luster events coming from that venue. Vendors are vital to the success of a venue. Vendors work very hard to make the venue shine. I sincerely hope that our wedding industry professionals will join us in our effort to make sure the venues AND vendors are being supported, valued and committed to fair practices!

Building strong vendor – venue relationships creates successful and impressive weddings & events. It also helps to ensure a healthy wedding community.

Please join this page and help us in our effort to connect vendor and venues together:

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Backstage Pass – Airlie Center, Taylor Made Events 

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Backstage Pass – Airlie Center featuring Taylor Made Weddings

Darlene Taylor with Taylor Made Weddings is featured here setting up and styling a spring wedding at The Airlie Center.  Planning for this wedding begins months in advance with meetings, hours of style and design discussions, Pinterest boards, floor plans, tastings & interviews with vendors. On the morning of the wedding there is so much to do. Flowers are coming in from Washington DC.  Airlie staff is setting up tables, linens and chairs in the ceremony site. Chefs are preparing gourmet catering for over 100 guests. A chuppah with peonies and moss is carefully put up next to white wooden chairs at the ceremony site. I find Darlene hammering little pegs into a huge board so she can dangle over 100 guest name tags and seating arrangements on the little pegs AND its a bit windy. She is cool and relaxed which immediately makes me feel at ease, like everything is under control. This is good, because event staff and vendors are rushing here and there to set up the reception and ceremony site. Darlene has a thick notebook binder with seating charts, notes, names, vendors contacts and guest information. Her cell phone is strapped to her arm in a serious phone holster, she gives off a calm presence but you know who is in charge.

During my visit the bride was getting her pictures taken near the lake and in the gardens on the Airlie Center property. I was able to see the ceremony and reception set up before all the guests began to arrive. It was going to be a beautiful wedding. Cocktails would be served in the garden under blue skies. A dj on the lawn nearby to entertain and make sure guest stay and dance until the end of the wedding.  Every centerpiece on each round table was simple but elegant. During these festivities there may be so much fun and enjoyment from the wedding guests that not a thought is given to the months of planning and hours of set up. And if you have an excellent wedding planner that is exactly how it should be, the excitement of the big day should be the focus. In the world of weddings there are only a few super star event planners.  There is no such thing as a perfect event. Something always happens that creates challenges and someone has to come up with solutions. ALWAYS! A great planner will solve these issues and no one will ever know that there was a mishap, spills, lost items, late vendors, broken décor, missing chairs, fallen cakes, linen color mistakes, etc… Planners like Darlene Taylor are in short supply. She has years of experience, awards and excellent reviews. It was a privilege to see her in action. It is clear to see that she loves weddings and has a true passion for working with couples.

One last note, you can tell that you have an excellent event planner by the supply box or case they carry with them. An excellent planner has a carry all that looks like a game of eye spy. You can find paperclips, duct tape, sewing kits, Tide spot cleaners, pins, mints and in Darlene’s bag of necessities we find a big mallet for hammering pegs.

You can find Darlene Taylor at or on Facebook at:


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Mind Your Business – Rejection 


Mind Your Business – Rejection

Business Rejection – are you strong enough to survive LOTS of harsh business rejection on your journey to success? Alexander Graham Bell offered his phone patent to the big dogs over at Western Union, not only did they reject the offer but once they began to see his success & feel the sting of a lost opportunity they enlisted Edison to try to get around the patent process and invent a better mouse trap. After battling for years on patent rights & legitimacy, Bell became a wealthy victor. Bell had Western Union (with the help of Edison) coming after him ruthlessly. How did he find the courage and strength to handle that rejection, maintain a smart fight in court for years and continue to thrive, grow and build? The fight in this underdog was too big to stomp out. How big is the fight in you? Do you have what it takes to overcome business rejection and fight for a hard won business victory?

You will face challenges in business. Successful businesses find solutions. There is a solution to every problem. I am not immune to the hurt or annoyance of business rejection. It happens to everyone. Many times we perceive something as a rejection that may not be rejection at all. Someone could be turning you down because they are not ready or financially secure enough to manage your proposal. You may never know the reason for every perceived or actual business rejection but what matters is how you handle it. Don’t be quick to react or think the worst. Don’t get distracted at all, just continue on the path you were headed and you will find those who think your business idea is brilliant. Success is so sweet, isn’t one really great success worth a few rejections?

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