Behind the Scenes 2020

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Behind the scenes blog posts are perennial favorites of mine, and I’m excited to share a peek back at Stephanie Shaul Events wedding days in 2020! With weddings in Raleigh, Charlottesville, and Charlotte, I was able to produce and bring to life so many stunning, special wedding days for the best couples – and I can’t wait to do it again next year for many of these couples.

What a year for weddings, y’all. I’m not even sure how to succinctly wrap up what this year has been like. Getting to witness these intimate weddings this year was a breath of fresh air and exquisite celebration I never knew I needed so badly. These intimate events, some with as few as thirteen guests, were some of the most profound, extraordinary events I’ve ever witnessed or created. They were meaningful and heartfelt in the purest of ways, magical and unforgettable in their designs and ambiance, and the most beautiful, sincere reflection of our couples and their love. I reflect on these intimate celebrations not as second-rate plans but as the sweetest reminder of what weddings are truly, truly about: the most joyful, love-filled days, surrounded by your very nearest and dearest, celebrating your love and your new marriage. Cheers to that, forever and always.

In many ways, it’s been the hardest, most mentally exhausting, and most difficult year to be a wedding planner and small business owner. But as I reflect back on this year, I am also incredibly overwhelmed and deeply grateful for all of the lessons learned, the wonderful and kind couples and families I’ve worked with, the flexibility, resilience, strength, and beauty that I’ve seen firsthand, the wedding industry’s resolve and the wildly talented vendors and friends I get to serve alongside, and the hope that I know deep in my heart.

I gathered some fun behind-the-scenes shots from throughout 2020 that I wanted to share, as they’re a very real-life capture of some fun moments throughout the year on wedding days. I hope you enjoy taking a peek into what my side of wedding days can look like!

A few 2020 wedding day highlights:

  • Of course, 2020 weddings, when they happened, looked drastically different than we ever could have imagined. It’s really quite astonishing when you really think about. I had two seamless weddings in 2020 before the pandemic hit, and then the rest of the year turned out to be so, so different than planned. I had a couple weddings and events cancel completely, a couple postpone their dates, and many more that postponed their large wedding til 2021 and had an intimate ceremony and dinner on their original wedding date. I moved 20+ vendors and countless details in less than a day for all of the weddings that postponed, and I’m so grateful we were able to make countless changes, pivots, and updates so seamlessly, though it was not an easy task. Wedding plans and wedding days themselves, of course, included additions that we never had imagined before: tiny guest counts, moving events outdoors, praying for good weather/health/safety, health questionnaires and tracing and waivers, masks and gloves, temperature checks, hand sanitizer, and so much more become have since become the norm. (Of course, any photos here without masks on were taken from early 2020 weddings before the pandemic hit!)
  • Quiet moments alone with my brides before their first look or before their walk down the aisle! This is most definitely one of my personal favorite parts of the wedding day. I love being able to love on, encourage, and celebrate my brides, as they’re usually the most nervous at these points. I’ve had some of the sweetest moments, and I cherish these times so much!
  • As always, you can commonly find me on the ground styling invitation suites! The best light is typically by windows in a brightly lit room, and the best vantage point for photographers is to style on the ground. Whatever it takes to be able to beautifully and cohesively style all of the couple’s personal, gorgeous details, paper goods, and meaningful bridal objects. I love when my interns or the photographer snap shots of me in my element on wedding days. I have the deep privilege of getting to work alongside incredibly generous and talented photographers who often come early on weddings days so that they can serve our couples best and so that we would have ample time to style and photograph details together without rushing — such a treat!
  • As a wedding planner, I get to do it ALL on a wedding weekend… the glamorous, the not-so-glamorous, the “yes, I’ll gladly do absolutely anything possible to make that happen or get it done with a smile on my face” girl. Someday I should write a book (or at least a blog post -it’s coming!) on all of the fun, dirty, random, wacky, selfless (I hope!), crazy things that I’ve done on a wedding day to ensure it’s the most joyful, flawless day imaginable. There’s a lot (a whole lot!) of hard behind-the-scenes work that goes into the execution of a beautiful wedding. But boy oh boy, there are countless special moments that I get to witness firsthand, and I adore my job!
  • Reception reveals! After so many months of planning every single detail of a reception, it’s surreal to see it all come to life even better than imagined… and to share that moment with my brides and grooms! I love building this quiet, exciting moment into the timeline of every wedding day so that each couple gets to see their dream reception before it’s filled with all of their guests. It’s so special and so surreal to see it all come to life — and to savor it for a moment without anyone in the space. Priceless! And so many happy tears!
  • Black is not my favorite color to wear, especially to such a joyous event as a wedding… and this year, I decided it was time to make a change to my typical all-black wedding planner wardrobe! It was so refreshing and fun (yet still practical and wedding-appropriate!) to wear different dresses on wedding days, and I will definitely keep this going. And you’ll never find me without my Oatmeal Lace vendor apron (which stores all sorts of goodies throughout the wedding day) and matching Oatmeal Lace monogrammed face mask!
  • I love getting to work alongside my favorite vendors (and meet new ones too, of course), and this year I had the privilege of spending wedding days with the most talented, kind, gracious, and hard-working men and women in the wedding industry! They’re an endless source of inspiration and encouragement, and they constantly pull off stunning work and serve our clients so well.
  • Some of my favorite wedding-related blog posts of 2020 include: a recap of wedding season 2020, Dear 2020 Brides, With Love, so many bride spotlights, Ali & Logan’s wedding on The Knot, Corinne & Thomas’ Charlottesville wedding, white dresses for intimate wedding & elopements, why you need a wedding planner now more than ever, and six things I’ve learned in my six years of business!
  • Individual cheese and charcuterie boards have become the winner of 2020 weddings! For all of my intimate weddings, we decided to make these such an impactful, fun, personalized, and delicious part of the dinner menu! Several fathers of the bride made wooden boards for the guests (so much talent – and a few as surprises!), wedding crests and monograms were branded onto the wood, beautiful pendant name cards were designed to be placed into the cheese, and the delicious cheese and charcuterie boards were brought to life for their guests.
  • To the wonderful, resilient, flexible, and understanding couples I had the pleasure of working with this year, thank you for reminding me why I love this work, love serving you, and love seeing your marriages begin. Wedding dates, venues, guest counts, and hundreds of other details changed and shifted more times than I can count, and yet… and yet… these couples chose to focus on their unending love for one another, their upcoming marriages, and the bigger picture. They’ve chosen to celebrate their love stories, to be gracious and flexible in the midst of hard decisions, to choose meaning and depth over quantity of guests, and to remember what truly matters most. I am deeply grateful for each and every couple and their families as we navigated this year and their weddings. So much love, appreciation, and heartfelt thanks to y’all!

If, at the end of the day, I have glorified God in all that I do and have served my couples to the very best of my abilities, then I will count this year (my 7th in business!) as a win. What a joy this journey is in so, so many ways, even when the days and conversations and upended plans are incredibly hard sometimes. Grateful, tired, and filled with hope and expectation for what’s to come! As we’ve come to say, love cannot be canceled, and this I know to be true.

Thanks for following along with a fun little peek into what wedding days look like for my team and me! It’s not always glamorous but it’s always SO worth it and incredibly fulfilling, especially after the trials of planning these events. And, as always, follow along on Instagram for a constant look into what’s going on!

PS: take a peek back at 2019, 2018, and 2017 years in review for Stephanie Shaul Events!

And thank you to Adelyn Boling, Ally and Bobby Photography, Kelsey Nelson Photography, and Jordan Maunder for capturing some candid behind-the-scenes shots during the wedding day; these memories (and photos) are priceless!

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