Behind the scenes blog posts are annual favorites of mine, and I’m excited to share a peek back at Stephanie Shaul Events wedding days in 2022! With weddings in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Washington DC/northern Virginia, I was able to produce and bring to life several stunning, special wedding days for the very best couples. It was absolutely one of my favorite years of wedding planning, and I had such dream weddings & dream couples!
2022 was an incredibly busy year for weddings, both for myself/my business and for the wedding industry as a whole. There was such a boom and record number of events, and it felt like we were all working double time to make up for all of the upheaval of the last two years. My complete lack of writing and sharing blog posts in 2022 can attest to the very full calendar and to-do list I had — there were months that would go by without me publishing a blog post, which is often the first thing to go when my work plate is full. I am so proud to be a part of the wedding community and to watch my friends and fellow vendors and creative partners give their all to serve each and every couple with the most love, heart, and talent, even while working around the clock to produce and deliver seamless, unique, and stunning weddings. Most of my photographer friends are still buried under a mountain of editing (since so much of their work is done post-wedding), and many of them have been shooting sessions every day and upwards of three weddings every weekend. It’s awe-inspiring, crazy, and hopefully the end of the busiest year on record. All that to say, it was quite the year – and an exceptionally great one for SSE!
As I reflect back on this year, I am incredibly overwhelmed and deeply grateful for the wonderful and kind couples and families I’ve worked with, the growth and development of my business, the joy & celebration & love & beauty that I’ve seen firsthand, the wedding industry’s tenacity & heart, the wildly talented vendors and friends I get to serve alongside, and the hope that I know deep in my heart. It was a very FUN year full of celebration, and celebrate, we did!
I gathered some fun behind-the-scenes shots from throughout 2022 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 and wedding planning can look like!
A few 2022 wedding day highlights:
- In case you didn’t know, I put in about 400-450 hours of work for each and every wedding, and wedding days themselves are at least 16 hour work days. I am there first thing in the morning when the first rentals arrive and as setup begins, and I’m the last vendor to leave once everything has been broken down, packed away, and cleaned up. It is a very, very long wedding day where I have to be 100% “on” 100% of the time, but wedding days are simply my favorite. I often feel the weight of the world on my shoulders (or at least the weight of producing a flawless, perfect wedding day for my couples, their families, and their friends!), but I think I thrive the most here. There’s nothing like it! Several of my weddings this year had days of setup, installations, and build outs the week leading up to the wedding, as we built venues and tents from the ground up. It’s a very long week but also the sweetest thing to see all of the hard work, planning, and designing come to fruition!
- I love, love, love those precious 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! Several of my couples did a private last dance of the night this year (we did this at our wedding, too!), and I similarly adore witnessing these really intimate, emotional, quiet moments before the excitement of their sparkler exits.
- 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 filled with natural light, 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 wedding 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! While I was in DC for A&M’s winter wedding, I was able to use my hotel room, which thankfully was very spacious and with two walls of windows, to set up, style, and stage several flatlays well in advance so that the photographers could capture everything in record time. It was also such a treat to be able to do this the evening before the wedding, which gave me ample creative time and allowed for a more seamless wedding day!
- As a wedding planner, I get to do it ALL on a wedding weekend… the glamorous, the not-so-glamorous, the “yes, I will 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. As seen above, I got to pot & plant dozens and dozens of fresh herbs and flowers for S&B’s wedding. I had so many boxes in our house for weeks filled with concrete pots and planters, picked out two car loads of herbs and flowers, potted all of them, kept them alive and watered, and transported and setup all of these pots at their wedding venue! I’ve also had Christmas & winter wonderland weddings the past two years, which means Christmas trees & snow machines galore! It’s not every day you research snow machines for dance floors and set up a dozen Christmas trees with lights in record time. This winter wonderland wedding even had a sleigh filled with poinsettias, so many glam and magical winter wonderland surprises and details, and the most epic dance floor 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!
- Can I brag on my utterly phenomenal team of wedding day assistants?! Because they are the very, very best, and I simply could not produce and execute these wedding days without them!!! I do 100% of the planning and design, but I bring 3-6 assistants with me to each and every wedding day, and these incredible ladies are invaluable to me (and to my clients, I know!). They all represent SSE and the mission & values & heart of my business so, so well, and they serve my clients, their families, the guests, and the other vendors with such hard work, such kindness and grace, and with so much dedication. Grace, Lauren, Megan, Carrie, Ginna, Shelby, Rebekah, and even my sweet Rob (who shlepped & hauled so much!) – thank you, thank you, thank you for being the very best team I could ever ask for or imagine!! I am deeply thankful for each of you, and you are all so appreciated.
- 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. I also have to say: I get to (finally!) work with some DREAM photographers in 2023… stay tuned for that goodness!!
- Adriane & Brian’s wedding in October at the Pavilion at Angus Barn was an especially epic one, in terms of design! We had four separate event locations as the venue, and I have to shout out the dancing tent, in particular (sneak peeks here!)! Adriane wanted a glam Great Gatsby/Roaring Twenties themed reception tent, and we brought it to life with a clear top tent filled with dense canopy of market lights overhead, nine crystal chandeliers, a black & white checkered dance floor, crystal curtains behind the band and also behind the bar, a semi-circle statement bar with custom branded paneling, a wall of crystal glassware on gold shelves, four jewel-toned lounges that made quite the statement, custom signage that really wowed, a 90 foot wall of paneling of 1920s paintings by Adriane’s favorite artist, and so much more. It was EPIC and unbelievably gorgeous!
- One of the biggest compliments I could ever receive is when friends hire me to plan their weddings or when families hire me to plan another family wedding! Truly, what could be a bigger compliment and honor?! One of my sister’s dear friends – whom I have also considered a friend since her freshman year at UNC – excitedly hired me to plan her Carolina Inn wedding this past Spring, and goodness was it special to get to see her sheer excitement as she married the love of her life. It was surreal being back in the same ballroom where my sister was married (with my sister & brother-in-law in attendance!)… and nine years later, to be celebrating Mary and Ali. I adored getting to know them as a couple, and what a treat it was to reconnect with Mary! I also had the deep pleasure of planning my third Karwel family wedding just one month ago as Allie & Matt were married! I planned Caroline & Anders’ two weddings (their intimate 2020 wedding and then their big 2021 wedding), and Caroline’s brother, Matt, and his fiance Allie asked me to plan their 2022 wedding. I love, love, love this family, and it was so fun to get to know Allie and Matt (while still getting to plan some again with the mother of the groom!) and to bring their dream winter wonderland wedding to life. After 3+ years planning with the Karwels, I will miss them so much – but know we’ll keep in touch forever!
- To the wonderful, wonderful 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. These couples chose to focus on their unending love for one another, their marriages, and the bigger picture. They’ve chosen to celebrate their love stories with great joy and celebration with their beloved families and friends, to choose meaning and intention, and to remember what truly matters most. I am deeply grateful for each and every couple and their families as we planned such extraordinary, joyful celebrations. 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 9th in business!) as a win.
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 busy-ness of planning these events. And, as always, follow along on Instagram for a constant look into what’s going on!