All posts by Casey Dokoupil

Real Proposal: James & Richard

The golden tones of the room seemed to evaporate the cold air clinging to the coat of each guest as dozens of them blew in, their cheeks pink with anticipation as much as the chill of winter.  It was just few days before the New Year, a time already filled with a seasonal glow.  Nowhere was that sense warmer than the little paneled room where family and friends gathered, eager to support a man very much in love.  It was a carefully-planned proposal, the scheme for which had begun not just months, but years earlier.

EQ’s custom art decorates the bar
Guests signed a beautiful, framable print for the couple
Guests gathered to record their best wishes

As guests gathered to hug a nervous but overjoyed James, a confused Richard was on a wild journey across Richmond.  Several years before, when they were first dating, James had created a scavenger hunt for Richard’s birthday that sent Richard searching all over town, leading him to a romantic greeting in the Jefferson Hotel.  Cleverly, when James first approached us to plan his proposal, that memory inspired his plan to surprise Richard.  A new birthday scavenger hunt should – and did – keep him from figuring out that James was actually about to propose.  Rhyming clues developed by EQ (when we say we’re full-service, we are not kidding) sent Richard hustling to iconic Richmond locations, from dinner at the VMFA, to surprise cocktails with friends who just happened to be at Quirk, to  a private drag performance at the Broadberry by the inimitable Michelle Devereaux Livigne (a friend of James’s).  Each stop had to be perfectly timed, to ensure that James’s glowing guests would be standing on the grand staircase at the right moment, when Richard walked in.

Meanwhile, family and friends excitedly sipped their cocktails, and we kept a careful eye on Richard’s real-time geolocation, as the candles melted and the moment of arrival came near.  The room took on a brighter quality, punctuated by the thud of emptying glasses and the tittering of people who will shortly be relieved of a secret.  When we could delay no longer, we led the parading crowd through the hall to Richmond’s grandest staircase, where they were easily guided into place. James took his place, and so did we.  Hushed, and curiously watched by a lobby full of people, we waited.

Guests prepare for Richard’s arrival

With guests partly obscured by the still-shimmering Christmas tree, James concealed behind one of the many massive pillars, photographer Shawnee Custalow hidden by an antique screen, and EQ planners crouching by a sofa, it was a mass effort to keep James’s secret until the very last possible moment.  Several hotel guests asked what was happening, and joined in our excitement, even colluding with the plan by looking nonchalant in the extreme.  It was like a scene from a play in which an unsuspecting audience member is pulled onstage to play the title role.

When Richard entered the room, watching the realization wash over him was a delight not meant for words.  As he passed, EQ gave the signal for guests to raise the signs that spelled out the question James wished to ask.  Richard’s eyes slid over the words, over the grinning faces of those he loves most in all this world, and he gripped the arms of his friends, who had escorted him.  Snap, snap! sounded the camera, and Richard struggled not to cry.

Swiftly and gracefully, James appeared.

He said yes

The crowd gasped their delight as the newly-engaged couple embraced, their family and friends cheering with genuine relief and a sense that they had witnessed something transformative – for the couple personally, but also for the Richmond community and society as a whole.  Every proposal is an act of bravery, but there was some special magic in what Richard inspired and James designed that starry evening.

Returning upstairs, the clinking of glasses resumed once more, this time punctuated by enveloping hugs, easy laughter, and Richard’s still-shocked smile melting into a cozy familiarity with his family, friends, and grinning fiancé.  All of the time, creative energy, and careful planning James invested was transformed into a perfect memory – and a very happy groom-to-be.  The majority of work – from James’s concept to the clues to the execution – behind us, even we had a moment to gather and appreciate the elegance of the evening.  Romance has a will and character of its own, that grows differently in each couple.  In the case of James & Richard, it is elaborate, communal, expressive, and stylish.

What is it for you?

To begin planning your perfect proposal, contact us at

For more from this great couple, check out their testimonial here.

Real Proposal: James & Richard

Planning and execution by EQ Events

Photography: A Lovely Photo

Venue: The Jefferson Hotel

Special thanks to:

Amuse Restaurant at the VMFA

The Broadberry

Michelle Devereaux Livigne

Brian Fox

Lindsay Sterling

Talley King

Lori McCurdy

Noli Michelson

Frazier Millner Armstrong

Victor Millner

Perry Payne Millner

Brad Armstrong




Guerrilla Wedfare: 5 Tips for The Surprise Ceremony

Congratulations on your engagement!  Everything now costs three times what it should, and nothing makes sense.  Nothing says LOVE like wedding debt, right?

Aaaaactually, love is love no matter what a wedding might cost.  And at the end of the day, you and your beloved are the ones who get to make decisions about your wedding day.  If a big, traditional, expensive wedding is your dream and within your ability, you should absolutely do it!

But if your dreams lie elsewhere, let us be the first to assure you that you should chase them in your own way.  Tons of couples (almost half of our own clients) are planning their weddings without all the traditional trappings, opting instead for home ceremonies, or the innovative and exciting world of guerrilla weddings!  Shocked by the cost of common event venues, these couples are showing up where and when they choose, with a marriage license and little else in the way of permission, and getting married in a flash!  If this sounds like a dream come true to you, we have some tips from experience that can help you get started.  Obviously, the best bet you can make is to call EQ and let us manage & officiate your affordable guerrilla wedding extravaganza, but here are five more pieces of advice from us to you!

1. Take Wise Risks.

Not to rain on your hopes and dreams, but we highly recommend choosing a spot that’s accessible to the general public. Unpredictability is part of the excitement of a guerrilla-style wedding, but if you and your beloved try to get married unannounced on private or guarded property, you could get hit with a trespassing charge.  A lot of places that typically host weddings are located on private property, and they would be totally within their rights to ask you to leave (even in the middle of your ceremony!).  Also keep in mind that when you choose this kind of wedding, you are asking your officiant to take a professional and personal risk.  Choose carefully  – the goal is to have a happy memory that preferably does not involve the cops.

2. Be Fashion-Conscious.

If you wear traditional wedding regalia and bust up into a location you haven’t formally booked, you may as well be wearing a sign reading PLEASE KICK US OUT.  If you want to wear something besides jeans, that’s completely understandable!  But choose wisely. Nice, causal black or white clothing can make the event feel like a wedding, without putting you on blast.

3. Keep It Short, Keep It Awesome.

Keep in mind how you, and anyone coming along to witness your guerrilla ceremony, will be feeling.  Probably excited, nervous, and a little giddy.  There’s a good reason more and more couples are choosing this kind of wedding (besides that it costs basically nothing): it’s *really* fun.  To feed into that enthusiasm, work with your officiant to create a personalized but short ceremony!   A succinct experience prevents the excitement from draining away as it might during a lengthy, traditional wedding, and it also reduces the chance of any, um, uninvited interruptions.

4. As Always…Get Creative.

This kind of wedding is already pretty far outside the box, but it’s all relative!  While you’re brainstorming possible locations, remember that you don’t *have* to pick a spot that comes with anxiety over getting caught.  Some epic flash weddings have taken place in the middle of the woods, in open fields, and at the top of mountains.  The benefit of choosing a wide-open location is that it usually isn’t monitored by anyone, and you can do what you want.  This approach also allows you to invite more people, and have more flexibility on clothing and other wedding-y stuff.  Just be aware that you may run into stuff you can’t control, like weather issues or dogs out for walkies.  No matter what, your wedding will turn into an awesome story.

5. No, really.  Get creative.

Going this route is incredibly freeing, so take advantage of that.  Where you otherwise might stress about whether the linens should be burgundy or raspberry, a guerrilla wedding lets you ponder infinitely crazier questions.  Should we wear our Gryffindor and Hufflepuff scarves? (Yes).  Are the security guards likely to hear this ukulele? (Sadly, also yes).  Should the ceremony be in front of the White House, or at Edgar Allen Poe’s grave?  (Literally no wrong answer).  So many couples are embracing this because it provides a financial and personal shelter from a wedding industry that, to some couples, can feel caging, overpriced, and old-fashioned.  It’s your wedding.  Do you.


EQ Events provides officiating for all kinds of wedding ceremonies!  email Casey at to get started on your affordable, personal, perfect guerrilla wedding! 

Master of Ceremonies

Planning a wedding is not for the faint of heart.  From the moment an engagement begins, the sheer volume of creative possibilities bubbles and grows in our minds.  Depending on the couple, this can mean anything from choosing a linen color to deciding which drag performers would be most entertaining for the guests.  Most couples excitedly decide what kind of celebration will best suit them, please their people, and give them the best memories.

But the one thing that shuffles into the mental backseat in those giddy early days of planning? The ceremony.  Maybe it’s because the reception tends to last longer, or seems to offer more creative choices.  But for whatever reason, couples often come to us in a mild panic, having just remembered that they should probably plan a ceremony to precede their epic par-tay.

The problem might come from an extra sense of bewilderment around wedding ceremonies.  What if the officiant has tons of rules? What if we can’t figure out how to make the ceremony match the reception?  What about seating?  Should we have flowers?  OMG, vows?!  I cannot even.

BREATHE.  We’re here with some ideas that are super-unique, and some of them simplify your ceremony planning.  You can create a ceremony that leads your guests into the total experience of your wedding – without leading your bank account (or your brain) into a crisis!

Ditch the Flip

If your wedding venue is limited in size, you might envision flipping the space from ceremony rows to reception tables during a cocktail hour.  That can work well, but if it feels overwhelming or you don’t have the budget to pay someone to handle that, there is another option – the cabaret layout!  Instead of moving everything, have guests find their seats at the reception tables right when they arrive, and have your ceremony in the middle of the room!  If your venue has a stage, the cabaret feeling is enhanced even further.

Bonus: Have your caterer serve champagne to your guests moments before the ceremony starts, and ask your officiant to end the ceremony with a toast.  The drama of it all!  *fans self*

Upstage a Traditional Processional

Thinking about doing a slideshow?  Select a venue with a drop-down screen, and have the show running from the time your guests arrive. It will give them something to do while they wait for the ceremony, and guarantees that they will pay attention to all the images of you and your beloved.

But wait, there’s more!  While guests are watching, secretly hide behind the screen with your beloved, officiant, and any bridal party members.  When it’s time for the ceremony to begin, have the screen slowly raised while an epic song plays.  Your guests won’t miss the processional at all, with a surprise entrance for the ages!

Bonus: For Hollywood realness, have your slideshow professionally produced.

Surround Yourselves with Love (Not Chairs)

In some traditions, it’s common practice to arrange guests in a circle instead of the rows that are so familiar to many of us.  For an intimate feel that also removes the need for chairs, place a sign by the entrance asking guests to stand in a circle (perhaps using flower petals or a small chuppah to block off the spot where you will stand) to create a community sanctuary to surround you with love as you marry.

Bonus: Have a basket of something symbolic for guests to take and hold during your ceremony to enhance the community feel.  A single, inexpensive flower works well.

Party Your Way to the Altar

If you like the idea of acoustic music during your ceremony, consider changing up how it is presented.  Instead of having your guitarist sit off to the side, ask him or her to lead you down the aisle, strumming and singing their heart out with your song.  This can be *incredibly* romantic, and is sure to put a smile on your face when the pictures come back a few weeks later.

Bonus: Have the musician play a well-known song, and ask your officiant to encourage guests to stand up and sing along as you walk down the aisle.  Ice: BROKEN.

Use What’s There

Many cities have outdoor amphitheaters in parks, zoos, and other outdoor locations.  If one of those venues will work for the feel you have planned for your big day, go for it!  Not only can those spaces be pretty darn affordable, they also come with enough seating for all your guests and a perfect spot for your ceremony, all wrapped up in a pretty, outdoor package.

Bonus: If your city doesn’t have an amphitheater, you can also use quilts on a natural hill.  It looks beautiful and is totally unique!

Keep It To Yourselves

The idea of standing in front of everyone and saying a bunch of really private stuff freaks some people out.  And understandably so!  If this is you (or your beloved…or both of you), remember that there’s no law requiring you to be married publicly.  In some states, like Virginia, you don’t need any witnesses at all.  Consider having your ceremony privately, either on the same day as your reception, or sometime before it.  Depending on who you are, this can be done just about anywhere!  Perhaps you’re a religious person and want to ask your house of worship to perform a private ceremony, or maybe you’d rather ask an officiant to meet you and your beloved where you had your first date.  The sky is really the limit for a private ceremony, since you have no one to please but yourselves!

Bonus: Leave time right after your private ceremony to celebrate alone with your new spouse.  A romantic meal, bottle of champagne, or weekend in the woods can enhance the sense that the two of you are sharing a magical secret, even though it’s a temporary one.

Pick Something Besides Flowers

Flowers sure are beautiful!  And expensive.  And expected.  If you’re looking for new places to express who you are, replacing flowers with something else is a great option.  Maybe each attendant should carry a book that has shaped your life, or your beloved’s life.  If you’re getting married during the winter or at night, candles would look really amazing and dramatic.  If you’re an arachnophile, perhaps you should carry your sweet pet tarantula (in a secure enclosure, plz thx) instead of roses.

Bonus: Explain why everyone’s carrying what they’re carrying in a program or note to guests.  It adds interest and gives guests something to read and talk about before the ceremony.

Gimme the Good Stuff

Instead of the traditional recessional, head for the wedding cake and slice it right then and there.  You’ll be on cloud nine, so the pictures of that moment will be full of laughter and joy.  Plus, you’ll still look fresh since it’s the beginning of the event.  Have your caterer slice and serve cake and coffee in place of a traditional cocktail hour, and maybe offer another kind of dessert after the meal if you feel like it.

Bonus: Get each layer in a different seasonal flavor to help guests feel that there are choices, even for a cake-and-coffee hour.   Serving it now means you won’t have to figure out how to keep it cool and protected until after the meal.

Share the Love

If figuring out who to ask to join your bridal party sounds like a social nightmare, skip it.  You can simplify your processional (and your life) greatly by keeping it to just the two of you.  This also reduces costs, since you won’t need any extra flowers, attendant gifts, and the like.

Bonus: Tell your guests that they’re all members of your bridal party, because they all have a hand in supporting and loving you as you enter your married life.  Adding this into the a program or on a website is a nice way to make guests feel appreciated, and also adds a positive sense as to why you chose not to have a formal bridal party.

Remember Whose Wedding This Is

Oh yeah, it’s YOURS.  If you and your beloved have a non-traditional idea, go for it!  There are very few legal requirements during wedding ceremonies, and there’s no reason you have to do it by anyone else’s rule book.  If traditional is your thing, that’s a million percent cool.  But if you’re thinking of changing it up, adding in your own ideas, or would like to talk about a variety of creative options, listen to your heart.  This is your wedding and your memories we’re talking about, so it should be what you want as a couple!

Bonus: Find an officiant who is completely flexible and celebrates your creative ideas!  Many officiants have a lot of rules or requirements, but some are totally open and write everything from scratch.  We happen to have a great suggestion right here! 😉



Michael-Birch & Anthony

Wowza!  When you need to know how to translate art into a wedding, call Michael-Birch & Anthony.  These guys brought their A-game with a focus on details to die for, and we worked with them to create a ceremony that was über-custom and super approachable without sacrificing meaning.

Check out their photographer, Lindsey Thorne Photography, from Austin, TX.  She captures the soul, y’all.

Jasmine & James

Jasmine & James envisioned a sweet family wedding focusing on the life’s simple joys: good food, good music, and the warmth of those they love the most!  Kept light and bright with Tiffany blues, their spring celebration made every guest feel like part of the family!

Stacey & Jill

Stacey & Jill’s quirky union was the epitome of approachable elegance!  Pops of bright pink were anchored with classic black and white, chilled out by the poolside setting and plenty of local craft beers.  Best of all, guests were treated to the smiles of the sweet brides, who are so genuinely in love we were all practically swooning!

Photography by A Lovely Photo

The Art of the Matter

There was silence on the other end of the line.  Not an uncomfortable silence, but long enough.  Finally, our client, a wonderfully sharp and hilarious woman in her thirties, spoke.

“Now, when you say artistic photography,” she said slowly, “what exactly does that mean?”

It was one of those moments that drives a person forward, as a professional.  Her hesitation was palpable, and perhaps rightly so.  What is beautiful to one person may be dull to another.  Everyone has experienced this at some point in their lives, looking at a painting, sculpture, or other piece of visual art alongside someone who finds it just as strange as we do stunning.  Finding an artist who represents the world in ways that make sense to a given person can be a delicate task – and when the artist’s subject is us and our singular, unrepeatable wedding day, it becomes a task of incredible personal value.  Which is why the heavens opened up and delivered wedding planners unto humanity.

“Well,” I replied, just as deliberately, “If you can tell me what you find beautiful, we can find the right photographer for you two.”

And after a long talk about other people’s wedding photos, pieces of art in the VMFA, and the colors in the couple’s wardrobes, that is exactly what we did.  But it took something more than time – it took a great deal of bravery on her part.  Although every person on the face of this planet has an artistic voice, not everyone knows exactly what theirs is yet.  Figuring it out for your wedding day can be scary, especially when the wedding industry tends to present only one version of what a wedding should look like.

The best photographers understand that every way is the right way to have a wedding.  Their job is to tell the story of one joyous day of your life.  Your job is to choose the right storyteller.  The one who gets you, and gets your partner, and is excited to create a series of photographic artwork together with you.  Something incredibly unique and memorable.

You know, something like this.

sunset backdrop lovely photo
Image by A Lovely Photo


Or this.

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Image by Imani Fine Art Photography


These superb images come from real shoots by two of our absolute Richmond favorites, Shawnee Custalow of A Lovely Photo and Nadiya Nacorda of Imani Fine Art Photography.  It’s easy to see the story of each wedding, and how the photographer chose angles, colors, shapes, and light to complement the style of the client.  Good photographers listen to their clients and translate a mood onto film this way.

To get a better sense of how this is done, we caught up with both Shawnee and Nadiya to ask more about the art of wedding photography.  We think you’ll be as inspired as we were.  Enjoy!

EQ: How do you artistically approach weddings, and choose locations?

A Lovely Photo: When I talk to my couples about where they want to take their portraits, I always try to find out what really excites and moves them, and figure out a unique location that will work best for them.  

Imani Fine Art Photography: I tend to move off of the vibe of my couples when I approach a wedding.  Not every couple is going to be into my offbeat and adventurous ideas, which is totally fine.  It’s my job to gauge them, get to know them and navigate that relationship.

Under the bridge lovely photo
A Lovely Photo
Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 1.24.12 PM
Imani Fine Art Photography
EQ: What unexpected locations have you photographed couples in, and how did you (or they) choose them?  Do you think any locations are off-limits?

ALP: No location or idea is off limits (unless of course it is physically dangerous or breaking the law…in a not-so-subtle way).  I’m more than happy to go on an adventure and shoot on the fly with my couples, that’s part of what makes this profession so much fun.  I want their wedding photos to be even more amazing and memorable than they imagined!

IFAP: It wasn’t a wedding, but for example, I recently photographed a couple in the Natural History Museum in Raleigh while we were shooting downtown.  It was mostly inspired by how chilly it was outside and we just spontaneously popped in and decided to explore.  In my mind, the only locations that would be off-limits are the ones in which we would be openly trespassing or the location is physically dangerous.  Even then, if the couple is passionate about the adventure, so am I!

sweet embrace lovely photo
A Lovely Photo
Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 1.24.49 PM
Imani Fine Art Photography
EQ: What advice would you give a couple that is nervous about taking an artistic approach to their wedding photography?

ALP: Unfortunately a lot of people (even if they try not to) have had their expectations of what is considered acceptable, normal, and “right” for a wedding celebration shaped by years of in-your-face traditional mainstream wedding industry nonsense.  Some of my couples are very aware of this, and know exactly what they want, not caring about what society tells them to do.  Others, while they are all about blazing their own path, are worried about the backlash of their more traditional guests, parents, etc.  I tell them that they should do WHATEVER THEY WANT.  You’ve always wanted bright colorful art in the background of your images, you want to see each other before the ceremony and get out all the nervous energy and have a special moment together, and you have a crazy prop that you want to secretly incorporate into the reception?  That sounds amazing, YAS!  

IFAP: My advice to couples is to find a photographer that can manage working on the fly and dealing with a variety of situations.  The truth is that if your photographer needs a ton of prep time and usually works within the same lighting conditions, then taking an artistic or adventurous approach may not be for them (which is obviously fine for the couples that match them).  However, if a couple is interested in or is contemplating an artistic approach, it would serve them to find a photographer that will assuage their nervousness and that could even align with how they feel and work through that with them.  Overall, I think my approach is about collaboration and connection.

Bran and Con Lovely photo
A Lovely Photo
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Imani Fine Art Photography

Their professional advice returns us to the fundamental question: what exactly does it mean to have artistic wedding photography?  The answer is as broad as art itself.  Taking the imaginative route can mean whatever you want!  While it can seem daunting at first, it’s actually extremely freeing.  You are limited only by the laws of physics, and well, by actual laws.  The trick is to find your creative match, when searching for the right photographer.  But hey, you’ve found the right person to marry.  You’ll know when you find the right one this time, too.  After all, these photos are what you will truly treasure, once the wedding is over.  As Shawnee says, “At the end of the day, after all the dessert is gone, you’ve danced your heart out, and kicked your fancy shoes off, one of the few physical things you’ll have left is your photographs.  These are the memories you’ll want to dearly hold on to, so they should represent you exactly as you are and want to be remembered.  Don’t compromise, don’t settle, just do you.”

We couldn’t agree more.

For help finding the perfect photographer for YOU, contact EQ Events!  We’re here to help with as much or as little as you need, from before your proposal to sweeping up when the reception is over! 
Special thanks to our featured photographers, Shawnee Custalow of A Lovely Photo and Nadiya Nacorda of Imani Fine Art Photography.  EQ only features vendors we have personally vetted and strongly recommend.  To learn more about their services, just click the images below! 
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A Lovely Photo
storefront imani
Imani Fine Art Photography

Having a Wedding Without Kids (Or Adults Acting Like Them)

So.  Here’s a topic that can swiftly dissolve into incoherent arguing: The child-free wedding.  If you want your wedding to be a grown-up bash, that is absolutely fine.  Let me say it one more time for the people in the back:  Having A Child-Free Wedding Is Absolutely Fine!  You are not breaking any etiquette rules, and most people understand that couples might be limited by budget, space, or the type of celebration they are planning.  Or perhaps the couple simply doesn’t like kids!  If you’re concerned that an adult soiree might not go over that well, never fear!  We’re here with some tips to help you create a wedding that is kind, fair, and adults-only.

First, some good news: of the 70 folks we surveyed, the vast majority agreed that whether kids are invited should totally be up to the couple getting married.  Most were parents themselves.

Don’t Obsess.

It is SO EASY to get bogged down in an epic search for the one inarguably correct way to approach this.  Dear god, save yourself from this fate!  There really is no solid-gold way to do it, but that’s okay!  YOU are the expert on your family & friends, and you will know the best way to pass on the message.  Some people feel that it’s rude to include a line on the invitation, but we’ve found that it eliminates all confusion from the get-go.  If you’re worried, including the wording on the landing page of a wedding website is a good alternative.  It’s really NBD – just be your authentic self!

Be Obvious and Early.

Lots of engaged people talk about the nicest possible way to inform their guests that their wedding will be 18+.  There are hundreds of suggestions for how that message should be worded or delivered, but the one thing to remember is to be clear.  Being plain is the kindest thing, because it leaves no room for confusion, or worse, guest embarrassment.  That said, being obvious isn’t the same thing as being rude.  Just use a simple, friendly wording and all will be well.  We like, “With respect, we have chosen an adults-only wedding”.

To get the word out even earlier, tell your guests on a Save-The-Date.  Lots of the feedback we collected mentioned that parents might need some time to find suitable childcare, and that’s something you can easily give them!  Keep the focus on helping each other out!  Being awesome in an awesome community is what weddings are all about.

Offer What Help You Can.  If You Want.

Helping the parents comes wrapped in many packages.  Maybe you and your beloved can afford to hire an onsite babysitter, and having the kids *nearby* doesn’t bother you.  Or maybe that makes you want to cry.

Other ideas: gather contact details for babysitters your local parent friends use, so out-of-town folks will know they are vetted, awesome childcare providers.  Maybe a couple of them can team up and provide care for all of the kids in someone’s home while the grown-ups are partying.  If that sounds daunting, don’t worry.  You’re not obligated to do any of that – it’s just a nice extra if you want to make it happen!

Be Super Chill.

Kindly accept the regrets of parents who decide not to come to the wedding because of childcare issues.  They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do, and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.  And that is 100% okay.

Keep Your Eye On What’s Important.

You’re inviting these people because they genuinely bring value to the life you and your beloved share, and because you bring value to them in return.  You are honoring them with an invitation, and they are honoring you by trying to attend.  Those relationships are what matters in this life.  If someone gets upset, or refuses to come, take the time to patiently reiterate your decision not to have children at the wedding, and your kind understanding that the guest will not attend.  You don’t owe anyone an explanation, nor should you change your decision.  But remember that if a relationship is otherwise healthy and awesome, you’ll still need each other long after the wedding is over.  Save them a cupcake and a great big hug, and enjoy having the wedding you planned!

Sweethearts for the Arts: An EQ Event

Here at EQ, community love is a way of life…and OH MY GOD, this weekend was like one giant valentine! We were so proud to once again join with our local business and non-profit friends to create Richmond’s favorite fundraiser: Sweethearts for the Arts!  The glorious ladies of Richmond Burlesque Revue were on hand to entertain the crowd with class – and guests brought the house down with their gorgeous costumes.  Supported entirely by local donors, and benefitting RVA’s own Art On Wheels, this is one event we look forward to every year! Travel back with us to the WWII era, when strong women took America by storm, from manufacturing to sports.



Deepa de Jour of Richmond Burlesque Revue, Show Producer


Styling this event meant finding a venue that exudes the late art deco aesthetic of the day.  Our city is rich with architecture from just about every era, and in the end, it was the gorgeous plasterwork and glamorous marquee of Robinson Theater that sold us.  Seriously, how perfect is this?!


Robinson Theater, located in Church Hill


Focusing on the homefront experience during wartime, we developed handmade pieces that felt cozy, but sparse.  We worked with a combination of rough and refined materials, like unfinished wood pallets juxtaposed with hand-lettered antique wallpaper, and real advertising from the time period.

bar menubar front

For patriotic good measure, we added weather-worn bunting and an Americana-themed photo booth, courtesy of the outstanding PD Murphy Photography.  Period-appropriate nibbles from delicious spots like WPA Bakery rounded out the guest experience.



Guests’ costumes never fail to impress


As if the hypnotic burlesque performances weren’t enough, guests were also treated to a full cash bar that we built onsite to benefit Art On Wheels, handmade midway games, a classic raffle and silent auction featuring amazing prizes (almost all of which are donated from local businesses, of course!), a costume contest, and a Women’s Land Army-themed audience participation game to win a beautiful night out at Graffiato and the Richmond Marriott.  To top it all off, the evening was hosted by the hilarious Magnolia Jackson Pickett Burnside!

Sherrina & Magnolia

Hostess Magnolia Jackson Pickett Burnside, accompanied by a gorgeous guest


It really was a magical time machine, taking us all back to a time when fresh produce was scarce, but fresh thinking was emerging.  We were so proud to once again work with Art On Wheels, to assist their mission to bring mobile art classes to our Richmond friends and neighbors without regular access to the arts. The big band music is still ringing in our ears, so we’ll leave you with these gems from the photo booth!

NicoLiamgogo factorygirls

americangothic cutecouple


VENUE: Robinson Theater

PHOTOGRAPHY: PD Murphy Photography

CATERING: WPA Bakery, Comfort, Red Eye Cookie Co., Rudy’s Exotic Mushrooms

BEVERAGE: Strangeways Brewing

ENTERTAINMENT: Richmond Burlesque Revue, Deviant Dollz Go Go


For more on this great organization, check out their newest project: a word record collograph honoring the strength of cancer patients.

Challenging the Status Cake

A wedding cake is a traditional symbol of fertility and good luck.  Plus, it’s amazing and pretty much tastes like heaven on a plate.  But here’s the thing: not everyone cares about traditions – and not everyone likes cake, or sweets at all.

If a cake simply doesn’t express who you are and what you like, never fear!  Food is an art form, and there are endless ways to treat your crew to something awesome without going the traditional route.  Here are some sweet (and savory) ideas to seal the deal after the meal.

Literally a cheese cake.

If you’re more into savory treats, stacking a couple of wheels of good cheese and decorating with flowers is incredible.  It still gives everyone the chance to photograph a cake, and you can even do a cutting ceremony.  Plus, it’s CHEESE.


Yes gawd.  Most doughnut shops will gladly ice several dozen in your wedding color.  Stack them up on a couple of cake stands, and you’ll probably end up with wedding crashers.




For a luxurious wedding, or just a Mediterranean touch, go for cannoli.  They are crazy photogenic, and easy to stack into a really beautiful display.

An espresso bar.

The best thing about hiring a mobile coffee unit is that your squad can customize their treat.  Whether they like sweet or savory, an espresso service will put a smile on their face.  It may also encourage your older guests to stay longer!  If you’re going all out, do this along with the cannoli.  Yum-o.


Bubble tea.

Sweet.  Refreshing.  Awesome in every way.  And available in numerous flavors – you could even offer signature flavors that match your wedding colors.  So much yes.


If you’ve never had one of these, prepare for your new obsession.  A stroopwafel is two thin waffles sandwiching a sweet caramel filling.  They are popular as desserts or with afternoon coffee in Holland.  Not sure where you’d find such a thing in Richmond?  Got you covered.


Shaved ice.

For a warm-weather event, this is the most refreshing thing in the universe.  The e n t i r e universe.  Plus, it is zero maintenance.  The company will take care of everything, from syrups to paper products.  Just arrange for a shaved ice food truck to pull up at the right time, and watch everyone’s eyes light up.

A wedding keg.

Some beers truly drink like dessert, especially in the craft-beer-rich scene in our city.  If you and your beloved share a love of a strong rich brew, consider purchasing whatever size keg is appropriate for your guest list size.  It can be decorated just as beautifully as an actual cake, and is hella memorable.

Studio Uma kegs


Cotton candy.

This is so cute, we want to hug a puppy and cry our eyes out.  It’s fun for guests to watch sugar being spun, it’s customizable to your wedding colors, and it’s great for adults and kids alike.  Bonus points if you use a cotton candy artist!

Panna cotta.

Cool and classy.  This beautiful dessert would look fabulous as individual portions on a cupcake stand.  It’s also much more affordable than you think, if you wish to make it yourself (or have some kind family member create it).  If not, some grocery stores regularly offer panna cotta in their dessert case.  Just place an order and enjoy!

panna cotta