Insider Tips | Tips for Choosing Your Venue

Location, location, location! You’ve taken the first step by choosing your date, and now the next question everyone is asking is, “Where are you getting married?!?!” Time to tour venues! One important thing to jot down before you even start seeking out different places to visit is your aesthetic goals for the big day. You can narrow down your search right off the bat by knowing what vibe you’re going for. After that, it’s all about the details.

Make Some Room

You HAVE TO HAVE an idea of your guest count before investing time in looking at venues. If you know you need enough space for 200 guests, you’ll have to rule out the quaint barn that can only accommodate 100 guests and make a list of venues that can accommodate at least 200 people. Making sure you have enough space for your guest list will set everything else into motion. The next question you want to ask yourself is… do want to offer overnight accommodations at the venue or nearby. Does the venue have a bridal suite for your hair and make up to be done or will you have to travel? Having this question on a priority list will make your venue search easier.

Lake Murray Wedding in Columbia, SC planned by Avila Dawn Events

Julia Fay Photography

Set Your Limit

What is my budget? Your venue could be the largest expense of your wedding or only a sliver.  A large guest list with a small budget could post problems for other accommodations you’re hoping to include on your wedding day. Venues will often offer special deals for certain days or months of the year they may otherwise not book, or may offer an incentive if you take their recommendation of other vendors.

wedding venue

Studio Two One Two Photography

Let Us Do The Talking

Ask tough questions. This is where having a wedding planner will take a list of stressful considerations off your list. Knowing the fine print of the venue and what restrictions they may have on catering, decor, or timing plays a huge role in choosing your other vendors. Luckily, your wedding planner has plenty of experience speaking with venues and making sure nothing will cause a hitch on your big day or the planning process.

wedding venue

Shane Harden Photography

Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. As a planner, it’s our job to guide you through the process and fill in any of the big questions you may forget to ask or consider. If you don’t even know where to begin, start with these questions and then we can start a list of where to look. From experience, you always know when you walk into the perfect space where you want your wedding to be. Working with a planner will guarantee it will hit every requirement on your list when you fall in love.. with the venue, that is!

Insider Tips | Creating A Wedding Budget

Wedding Budgets

Budgets are in the air as we find ourselves immersed in the season of love… and weddings! Pinning down a wedding budget can seem overwhelming, but we aim to take the pain points out of this process. Consider your budget like the foundation of your home, bearing all the weight of what you will create from it. Follow these tips and you will be ready to bring your vision to life!

Talk It Over

We cannot stress enough how important it is to have a conversation with your significant other. Finances can be a major strain in any relationship, and the last thing you want is to start your marriage off with a whole bunch of debt you didn’t have before. This is the perfect time to get on the same page and understand each other’s perspective on the wedding. It doesn’t have to be scary! Sit down with your fiancé and get down to numbers. Discuss what you have and what is simply out of the question— this will eliminate any surprises or arguments down the line. This conversation should happen before anything is purchased or booked. The best way to go into your marriage is knowing you were able to compromise and stick to an agreed budget.


No Monopoly Money

Seriously. Only discuss money that you already have. So often we see brides being promised money from relatives, even friends, and this is scary. You never know what financial burdens may hit someone when they’re promising you a large piece of your budget. Any factors that are not currently in your hand and tangible, don’t consider. It’s easier to have extra cash down the line to splurge with than to make promises with money you may never get. A big no-no here is factoring in bonuses or raises as well. Future money should not come into play unless it is a set aside portion of your paycheck you have already been able to save up. We’re not saying to get caught up on uncertainties, but a budget should be set on an already saved amount, not what you are hoping to have down the line.

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Prioritize Your Must Haves

When creating a budget, also discuss what your priority list is with your fiancé. Put down the social media and all expectations of a “perfect wedding” and think about what you want! It’s YOUR day. Also keep in mind, many wedding inspirations available online are styled shoots that may rack up thousands of dollars for just one table. You are definitely going to need more than just the one table, right!? Make a list of what you cannot live without at your wedding such as food, a band or DJ, seating, florals, oh and don’t forget the venue to keep it all in! Once you start writing down what you want, talking with your planner about the price ranges of these vendors and detail items will help steer your price range to affordable options, or what you can do yourself.

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Creating your budget is the first step to your planning process, and should be an open and honest conversation with your partner. Take into consideration what you have saved and make a list of what you want to make sure you have at your wedding. Then, go over this list and your dollar amount with your planner to help guide your vision to the most budget-friendly and true to your vision options!

Photo 2 + 3: Jessica Hunt Photography

Insider Tips | Wedding Websites

Wedding Website

With the availability of social media and internet in our pockets, wedding websites are the latest trend that is here to stay! Keeping your guests in the loop and part of the planning experience has never been easier. With a wedding website, you can send out every detail of your upcoming day without wasting paper or making calls!

Sounds great… but I have never made a website before?!

The beauty of having technology at our fingertips is the ability to transform yourself into a webmaster for a day! Luckily there are TONS of sites (some even FREE) that provide templates and customizations to make the process straightforward and simple!!! Upload photos from your engagement shoot, tease your guests with your color scheme swatches, keep everyone posted with the venue address, time, and every detail.

The Knot Wedding Website
Keep It Fun!

Use the wedding website as a fun, creative purge for all your wedding ideas. You may feel like you’re running around reporting to your family, friends, vendors, and planner, but this is for you! Putting yourself to work is a test of what ideas are working and what you can scrap. You’ll be able to incorporate some of your theme and colors that will give you time to make sure everything is cohesive. It’s also an opportunity to type out your “About” section and let everyone know how you met and a little about your relationship. This will not only connect your guests, but could avoid you having to tell the story over and over at the wedding!

Sync Up the Important Stuff

Don’t overthink it! Choose your favorite photos together and make sure your wedding date is displayed as a bold focal point. Adding in a countdown is a great feature here to get your guest (and yourself!) extra excited to count down! Make sure you have a widget or a link to your registry for convenience. Including details and links to hotel blocks, directions, and details (ex: Do you have a cash bar? What time do they need to arrive, ceremony start time) will ensure your attendees know all the important information.

We are happy to help! As wedding planners, we love all new trends that embellish your big day and help eliminate any stress in your planning process. If you’re not sure where to start, let’s map out a couple ideas you have and go from there. Keep in mind, your wedding website does not have to display every detail, but will keep you and your guests organized. Show off! Let everyone know just how amazing your relationship is. Start with your love story and we’ll work out the rest, together!

bride & groom

Photography: Aneris Photography

A couple wedding website resources to check out: The Knot, MintedGrey and Riley.

Slay With Systems | Getting Started with Evernote for Wedding Planners

Get Organized with Evernote

So today is first post in the Slay Your Systems Series!

Today we are talking all about Evernote. If you follow the blog, you may already know that I sing Evernote’s praises! I talked all about it HERE. Well today, we are starting at the beginning of how to get started with Evernote.

So a little background… I literally use Evernote for every aspect of my life and it is truly becoming my second brain. I save notes, receipts, business cards, reading lists, things I want to purchase for the business, EVERYTHING in Evernote. The beauty of Evernote is that there are thousands of uses for it and you can customize it however you want in order to make it work for you. The downside is that you can do so much that it can be overwhelming when first starting out on how to get it all in order.

If you make the commitment to start using Evernote daily, it will help you save time and get organized in your wedding planning business (and digital life). Now getting started with Evernote is going to take some extra work on the front-end, but if you put in some time I think you will see how awesome a tool this can be.


With most things in life, it does require commitment to see the fruits of your labor. So with that I say give this system a chance to work. Are you willing to do some real work in the beginning to see the benefits at the end?


The first step to getting started with Evernote is to download and install Evernote on your computer. There is a web app, but it is not nearly as robust and to get the full experience of Evernote, you need to have the desktop app and use it primarily. Additionally, there are just some features that won’t work on the web version of Evernote!

You will also want to download the Evernote app onto your phone and tablet. I love having it phone as it replaces having to write on small pieces of paper while out when a crazy idea comes to mind. You can use the app to create notes on the go, add reminders, create voice memos and check your to-do lists.


If you are just starting your business and watching your coins, a free Evernote account is a great place to start. BUT, if you are diving into this head first and going all out I would HIGHLY suggest going premium. The cost is $69.99/year and it’s one of the best investments I made in my business (you can write this off as well). Here’s why Premium is the way to go:

  • Free accounts only allow you to sync across 2 accounts, Premium UNLIMITED!
  • Annotated PDFs
  • Foward emails into Evernote (in an upcoming posts you will learn why this is great)
  • Scan and digitize business cards (makes handling business cards so easy)
  • Turn notes into a presentation
  • With premium accounts, the technology is smart enough to search within PDFs. So if you keep a receipts folder and stick PDF copies of your receipts, Evernote can search the PDF as if it were text.


Now that you are commited to getting started with Evernote, I have some homework for you! Your tasks are to:

  1. Commit to using Evernote
  2. Download the app to at least 2 of your devices
  3. Consider trying premium for one month

This is the first post in the Slay Your Systems with Evernote series.

Check back in two weeks where I will be chatting about important terminology and how I use notebooks and tags in your workflow.

Melissa + Brian | Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

This wedding venue was a first for me and I was so happy that I was able to work with Melissa and Brian to craft their perfect zoo reception. The couple were married at the groom’s home church, followed with their reception in the Ndoki Lodge at Riverbanks Zoo & Gardens. As guests arrived they were able to view elephants, monkeys, birds and gorillas on their way to the lodge.

Melissa was excellent to work with as she knew the vision she had for her day and it was just a matter of crafting the perfect creative team to bring her vision to life. Additionally, their wedding was surrounded by love and family and I enjoyed every minute of getting to know their family and friends. At the end of the night, the wedding ended with Around the Block Photography capturing a photo of both families all together.

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events | Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events | Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events | www.aviladawnevents.comriverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0005riverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0003 riverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0004 riverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0006 riverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0007 riverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0008 riverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0011 riverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0013 riverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0009 riverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0014 riverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0015Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events | www.aviladawnevents.comRiverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events | www.aviladawnevents.comRiverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events | Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events | Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events | Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events | Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events | www.aviladawnevents.comriverbanks-zoo-garden-wedding-planned-by-avila-dawn-events_0030Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events | Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Wedding planned by Avila Dawn Events |

Creative Team: Photography: Around the Block Photography | Planning + Design: Avila Dawn Events | Venue: Riverbanks Zoo & Garden | Florals: Exquisite Design | Cake: Bonnie Brunt Cakes | Draping: Ambient Media | Hair: Hairstyles by Laurel | Makeup: It’s Simply Makeup | Entertainement: DJ B-Sam | Stationery: Signatures by Sarah

Business Basics | Slay Your Systems & Get Organized in the New Year

Organizing Your Business in the New Year

So for the past couple of months, I have been really been digging into my systems in an effort to create a better client experience for ADE Brides! This meant me accessing ALL of the systems I am currently using and determining if I was using them to their greatest ability and were there any I could just let go! (Side note: I am a systems junkie, so I will work through systems CONSTANTLY to make to better.) The thing is if I am always working on my systems, then I can’t focus on other aspects of my business. So moving into 2017, I wanted to review what I had, tighten up some areas and then let it run. For any system, it works as long as you work it!

In talking with some vendor friends, I have found that I LOVE chatting to them about their systems and actions they can incorporate to help with its efficiency. I thought hey why don’t I just write out what I learn and share with other entrepreneurs to save them a little headache and make major gains in their business. So I will be starting a series on “Slaying Your Systems”! Hopefully you will find the information helpful on getting your business backend together! If you ever have any questions, be sure to post them as trying to figure out how to create a system that works for your business gets my blood running!


Seeking Student Event Planning Intern(s) for Spring 2017

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I am so happy to announce that Avila Dawn Events is accepting applications for Spring 2017 interns. If you would love to work with us, then we can’t wait to hear from you! Consider working with us if you:

  • Are social media savvy
  • Have grace under pressure
  • Aren’t afraid of long hours and aching feet
  • Have top-notch communication skills – both verbal and written
  • Have reliable transportation

The wedding and event industry requires non-traditional hours including weekend work; so don’t forget that you will need to give up some weekend fun to help us make our clients’ dreams come true. If this sounds like you, give us a shout using our intern application form.

Down the Aisle They Go | Ariel + Parker

Today I get to introduce you to Ariel and Parker. They will be getting married at United Methodist Church with their reception at 701 Whaley. I am really looking forward to this event as there will be lots of gold and sparkle! I am especially looking forward to the gold sequin bridesmaid dresses.

701 Whaley Wedding, SC Wedding Planner, Columbia SC Wedding Planner

How did y’all meet? He stole my heart at a softball tournament.

How did Parker pop the question… were you expecting it?  Yes, but he didn’t think I knew. We were at a picnic when Parker popped the question and a photographer was there to capture the moment.

Describe your wedding in three words? Fun… Gold… FUN!!

Now the details (theme, style, color, must-haves)?! Lots of sparkly gold details like the cake, bridesmaid dresses, table runners, etc)

What has been your favorite source for wedding inspiration (Blog, Magazine, etc)? Coastal Knot Bridal and Instagram

What have you loved most about planning your wedding? Picking my dress!!

What has been the most difficult? The guest list!

What are you most looking forward to on the wedding day? The honeymoon the next day.

Do you have any advice for newly engaged couples as they go through the planning process? Buy something you need for the wedding from every paycheck once you get engaged that way you are not stuck with a TON of expenses closer to the date.

701 Whaley Wedding, SC Wedding Planner, Columbia SC Wedding Planner

Business Basics | 5 Tools to Help Boost Your Productivity

So as most of you know I am #ontheroadtofulltime with my event planning business. With that being said my schedule is pretty full. Monday-Friday I work from 7:30AM – 3:30 PM for the University of South Carolina ~ Go Gamecocks!! So that means ALL the other hours of the day are spent either eating, sleeping, loving on my hubby and clients and of course doing ALL the things it takes to run a small business.

Today I am sharing some of the apps/programs that I absolutely love and make this journey to full-time a little less hectic.

5 Tools to Boost Productivity, Wedding Planning Tools, SC Wedding Planner

Evernote – Y’all already know how I feel about Evernote, but if you don’t definitely go read about all the goodness. If you’re someone who regularly get frustrated by the redundant nature of having so many different communication platforms, Evernote is sure to be your new best friend! I use Evernote to host ALL of my blog posts, client notes, and tons of business documents. No more stickey notes, notepads or carrying around folders with client information.  I love this program because all of the information is always right at my fingertips. Want to learn a bit more about Evernote, well go check out this post and then be on the lookout for something great coming up.

Later (formerly known as Latergramme) – Once I got this tool… can we say hello 2 weeks worth of Instagram posts DONE! Later allows you to schedule your posts ahead of time. I love this because I batch this task. I take an hour or so and schedule all of my posts in one day that way I never feel frantic about not having content. You can also load in all 50,000 hashtags you want. The only thing is it won’t post automatically for you, but hell the hard work has been done.

Canva – This software makes me feel like a graphic designer! It allows you to create images that are perfectly sized to social media proportions. You can also great flyers, styled guides, EVERYTHING! You can also create templates, so you don’t have to wear yourself out trying to recreate the same design over and over again. So all I have to do is change out the picture and some wording and I can upload pictures for blog posts and Instagram posts in a flash. And if you are on a budget, this is a tool that you definitely want to use because it is FREE 99.

Trello – I use Trello for all my business workflows – editorial calendar, processes and links, wedding clients, meal planning, and work scrum board. Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. It lets you know what’s being worked on, who’s working on what and where something is in the process. I happen to be a very visual person, so I love being able to see what is going on that needs to be worked on and being able to move items seamlessly from one board to the next.

Zapier – This tool allows you to connect apps you use every day to automate tasks, which saves time. You create what is called “recipes” to make life easier. For me I have my  initial questionnaire that potential clients fill-out, once completed a zap sends the client a thank you email, sends me an email, which let’s me know that they completed it, and then zaps all the info to a spreadsheet, so that I can have all the information in one place. I will REALLY be digging into this app to get more things automated. The best part is it super easy and most of the “recipes” are already written you just have to add a bit of information to get it all setup. These zaps save me oodles of time.

The most common trend is almost everyone one of these programs is that is allows you to create templates and templates are a LIFESAVER!! So tell me what programs do you use to help you get more done?

Down the Aisle They Go | Latisha + Mickey

Ok so I am so excited for Latisha + Mickey’s wedding. They will be dancing the night away with the band Tru Soul and I can’t wait!! Y’all know I love some good dancing. But more importantly, I can’t wait to see these two joined in marriage. Definitely keep scrolling to read about their love story and some details for their wedding.

Myrtle Beach Wedding Planner, Myrtle Beach Wedding

How did y’all meet? We met in Wal-Mart. Mickey saw me in the store earlier and told himself if he ran into me again he would approach me.

How did Mickey pop the question… were you expecting it? I was definitely NOT expecting it. One of our favorite dates was at Brookgreen Gardens at their yearly event called The Night of 1000 Candles. We decided to attend again the following year and he popped the question in the garden of poems which was one of our favorite spots.

Myrtle Beach Wedding Planner, Myrtle Beach Wedding

Myrtle Beach Wedding Planner, Myrtle Beach Wedding

Describe your wedding in three words? Earthy, Romantic, Traditional

Now the details (theme, style, color, must-haves)?! Classic with fall elements. Colors are Copper, Grey, and Dusk Blue. Must-haves – good music and good food.

What has been your favorite source for wedding inspiration (Blog, Magazine, etc)? Pinterest, online browsing

What have you loved most about planning your wedding? It caused me to communicate more with my family, which has brought us closer.

Myrtle Beach Wedding Planner, Myrtle Beach Wedding

Myrtle Beach Wedding Planner, Myrtle Beach Wedding

What has been the most difficult? Staying within budget.

What are you most looking forward to on the wedding day? Seeing Mickey’s face as I walk down the aisle and celebrating with family and friends who I don’t see often.

Do you have any advice for newly engaged couples as they go through the planning process? Establish a realistic budget ahead of time based on the size of your wedding, your style and taste. Do extended research on different vendors before deciding to sign any contracts.

Myrtle Beach Wedding Planner, Myrtle Beach Wedding

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