A Great Gatsby Affair to Remember + 10 Wedding Planning Must-Dos

Great Gatsby Wedding plus 10 wedding planning must dos

Mike and I have been married 10 months now!!! Where has the time gone? It seriously was THE BEST DAY EVER!  Today I’m sharing our Great Gatsby wedding plus 10 wedding planning must dos so that you too can have the best day ever.

I want to share our gorgeous wedding photos with you but I also want to talk about what made it so absolutely perfect. Recently our wedding was published on Richmond Weddings Blog and one of the questions they asked was “what we loved most about our wedding” but also “what advice do you have for other brides planning their wedding”. So I’ve come up with my 10 Wedding Planning Must-Dos in order to have THE BEST DAY EVER!

To start here they are and I’m gonna break them down as I talk about our day.

  1. Make it YOUR wedding. Not your mom’s, dad’s, sister’s, best friend’s, or the lady’s on Pinterest.
  2. Stop worrying so much about what anyone else will think about your decisions. This again goes with #1 but also don’t worry about what your guests will think about your decisions. It’s YOUR wedding. You’re inviting people to celebrate with you at YOUR wedding.
  3. Pick your vendors very, very carefully and thoughtfully. Your wedding vendors can really make or break your wedding day.
  4. Don’t let your vendors steamroll you with the way weddings are normally done. Yes listen to them and their advice. After all they’re professionals and do this all the time but…keep in mind that this is YOUR wedding & you’re paying them so you can get what you want.
  5. Ignore all the wedding traditions that you don’t want to participate in. Add new ones that you love.
  6. Have a First Look with your photographer and get all those photos out of the way before the ceremony.
  7. Decide what you will splurge on and where you want the money to go ahead of time.
  8. Brides!!!! Hire a professional hair and makeup artist for you and your wedding party.
  9. Pick a theme & style of wedding day you want. This makes it so much easier when planning out the whole day.
  10. Hire a wedding planner/coordinator!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe it’s because this was our second go around with the whole wedding/ being married process? Maybe it’s because we’re older and wiser? Maybe it’s because we know ourselves better at this stage in our lives? Maybe it’s because I’ve been in the wedding industry for so many years? I mean how did we end up planning and executing our perfect wedding day? First it’s those 10 Wedding Planning Must-Dos in order to have THE BEST DAY EVER above. Let’s also add in the fact that I don’t give a fuck what other people think of my choices. Ok now that’s a bit harsh sounding and my sweet husband wouldn’t put it quite that way but I’m keeping it real here and that’s my truth.

Honestly when Mike proposed I thought that we would probably elope. I wasn’t thinking the full wedding kit and kaboodle. The last 12 years I was primarily a wedding photographer and although I had daydreamed of getting married again I wasn’t really thinking about a full out wedding. Having a wedding day with friends and family present was very important to Mike though! And I do LOVE a good party! And I wanted Mike to get the wedding of his dreams too! So I went into full force wedding planning like a boss.

Since I have been to so many wedding venues it was easy to narrow down what we didn’t want. I took Mike to three venues and told him to choose. Luckily we both had the same #1 choice which was The Mill at Fine Creek. We both wanted a wedding venue where we could do everything in one place – get ready, ceremony, party. Bonus was that we and many friends could also stay right onsite by renting their really cute glammed up cabins.

Here’s a little bonus tip for cutting down your venue cost – have a non -Saturday wedding! I knew we didn’t want a Sunday wedding (they suck because all your guests leave early because they have to work Monday) …so we went with a Friday wedding! It cut our costs drastically. Second cost savings tip – choose a non-high season wedding date. Again easy for us because I knew I wanted more of a winter”esque” wedding. We for sure didn’t want to sweat to near death in late spring, summer, or fall. (I have photographed so many weddings where the bride, groom, and guests were absolutely miserable. And the vendors too!!) So we set a March date. Choosing an off season wedding date and non-traditional day of the week for our wedding really helped to bring down the venue price and it was our wedding so we got to choose the date! Check number 1 & 2 above!

Straight away it was an easy choice for a theme/feeling for our day. I wanted more of a glam cocktail party/gala feeling and less of a wedding feeling. Great Gatsby”esque” it was!!! Black and gold and glam all the way baby! I wanted Mike and I to walk into the reception and be “WOW this is a gorgeous party!!” and less “wow this is a gorgeous wedding”. We carried the theme from our wedding stationary, to my dresses & accessories, through to the reception. It was kind of just sprinkled throughout the day and not too overboard! Tips #9 & #2

Early on we knew that we would do things a bit non-traditionally. I honestly wasn’t the least bit worried about traditional the only thing I was thinking about was what would make Mike and I happy on our day. Here are a few non-traditional things we did. Tips #1 #2 #5

  • We walked ourselves down the aisle with our French bulldog Francois
  • We wrote our own vows
  • We had a very non-traditional reading during the ceremony. (No bible verses here)
  • My wedding party didn’t carry bouquets – instead they carried lanterns & no bouts for the guys
  • No wedding favors
  • We opted for Gumbo to be served as the first course instead of a salad that nobody tends to eat. It was amazing!!!
  • We had croquembouches in lieu of a wedding cake for dessert. We also had mini tarts & chocolate covered strawberries. So no cake cutting.
  • No bouquet toss, no parent dances, no giving away of anybody, no awkward wedding reception games, no till death do you parts
  • We also wrote our whole ceremony & had one of our very good friends marry us!
  • I had TWO different dresses both of which were evening gowns not wedding dresses
  • We gave a welcome speech together at our reception
  • We had all 5 of our kids + our best friends + our dog in our wedding party

Being in the wedding industry did help when picking out our vendors. I knew a lot of them already so I also knew their work ahead of time. I cannot stress enough how important it is to hire people that you like, are easy to work with, listen to you, know what they’re doing, and add joy to your day. The wrong vendors can really take your day from a 10 to a 5. I’d say the top vendors to make sure you’re in love with (in no order) – photographer, hair & makeup artist, wedding planner/coordinator, dj/band.

Friends you’re with both your wedding planner/coordinator & photographer all damn day!! You need to love them and trust them. You want to look Ahhhh-mazing on your wedding day so you’d better hire someone you love and trust to put on your face and do that hair. And seriously your dj/band runs the whole reception and keeps the good vibes flowing for the whole evening. A bad dj can ruin a wedding reception. Tips #3 #4 #8 #10

As a bride, photographer, and wedding guest I say that a First Look is a must. Hands down. No doubts. Get all those photos out of the way so that you can actually enjoy and be a part of your wedding day. Having a first look insures that you get the photos you want without being interrupted by all the guests you want to talk to or all the wedding things that are happening on a timeline. It also insures that you can get some good lighting for those images and that you have time to enjoy the process. On top of all that do you really think it’s fair to keep your guests waiting for 2 hours to start a reception while you’re out taking photos? Nope. The biggest part though is that you get quiet time with you and your beloved before the whole wedding craziness kicks into full gear. You get to talk to each other, hug, kiss, laugh, cry, really look at each other. It helps to calm all those wedding jitters when you have your person there by your side and you’re chatting about what you’ve been doing all morning and how excited you are to marry them! Tip #6

NO matter how Type A you are and how much planning you’ve done you really need a wedding planner/coordinator. You can opt for many different types but I went with a Day of Coordinator. Which really is more a month of Coordinator if I’m being honest. Also don’t fully believe what your wedding venue tells you. They often claim that you get a day of coordinator with the venue. Yes they have a day of coordinator on site but he/she is there for the venue not for your every want/need/wish/desire and they’re not going to deal with all the possible problems of the day and make sure that you get your dream wedding. So hire a planner!!!!! For instance our wedding planner Chelsea of Illumination Event Studio (who is the most awesome ever) dealt with so many coordination things before the wedding in reaching out to all our vendors and on the day in making sure they were all there and doing their jobs on time. She did most of this without ever even having to come to me to discuss. This is because we had talked in length before the wedding and she knew what I wanted and how I wanted it all to go. Chelsea was a life saver and one of the main reasons our wedding day was empty of any disasters. She calmly told me about the weather forecast of rain and more rain and then continued rain for the day. She calmly told me that I had to make a rain call for the ceremony (it was supposed to be outside) and then she handled all the coordination for moving it inside. She asked me about the inside layout and then dealt with “flipping of the room”. I didn’t have to do anything because I knew she was handling it and I knew she would make sure it was beautiful. Tip #10

I had a very specific vision for our wedding day and for our reception. I wanted things done a certain way and those were very important to me. I stuck to my guns and my vendors made it all come together. This is where the This is YOUR wedding part also comes in. You know what you want so make sure you get it (if it’s possible). My florist and wedding decorator Casey of Cultivate Events Co. was awesome!!! She listened to my vision and suggested all sorts of great ideas to make it happen & she did an amazing job. From my non-traditional bouquet to our sweetheart table alcove. She made my wedding vision come together.

I had four things about the venue that I decided to do differently than they usually do. Some they were happier about than others but they did help to make them happen for me. This is why knowing your vision and sticking to your guns is soooooo important. Tip #4

  • I didn’t use the bridal suite at all and opted for getting ready in the area that’s usually used for the guys. Honestly I hated the venue’s bridal suite. I think it’s too small and I also didn’t like the way it photographs. That’s the photographer in me for sure! Mike and the guys rented one of the cabins on site for them to get ready in while I took over The Miller’s Cottage with my girls.
  • I wanted the reception room flipped. The area in the reception space that is usually used for the cake I instead wanted used for our sweetheart table and then the desserts went where the sweetheart table usually is. I wanted this for several reasons. From a photography stand point I didn’t want a wall of glass behind our sweetheart table and I really wanted the intimacy of a little alcove for our table. Our florist hooked us up and hung little twinkly lights and vines from the landing above and it was gorgeous.
  • The reception area consists of two rooms at the venue. The main part has a really high ceiling (two stories) and the second room has a rather low ceiling. The second room is where the dance floor is and the two rooms are located right next to each other. The first dance always happens in the 2nd room because that’s where the dance floor is. I said NOPE, I’m having our first dance in the main room! So our floor plan for the room had the tables moved out a bit to create a little dance floor right in front of our sweetheart table for us. I wanted it in the main room mostly for photography purposes and because the majority of the guests were seated in this room. It was gorgeous and photographed so much better!!
  • Lastly because of the height differences between the rooms I wanted to visually bring down the height of the main room and have it be eye catching. In comes my lighting guys Leap AV who said they could string bistro lights across the ceiling of the main room without doing any harm to any part of the building. What???? They were hired!!! They also put in all kinds of uplighting around both rooms to help them to flow together and bring in that glam feeling.

We definitely had a few splurges for the wedding! These were the parts that were so important to us that it made sense to splurge. As far as splurges go – that lighting was a splurge & 100% worth it!!!! Those croquembouche and desserts were a little extra but so worth it! I also opted last minute for a paper flower wall by Sweet Pear Paper and that I must say was one of the best decisions I made for the day! I opted for letterpress wedding stationary – splurge! And I opted to have the envelopes hand lettered and our seating chart was hand-lettered as well. More splurges but soooo pretty.

I’m also am a bit of a thrifty girl when I need to be so I did my part in keeping the budget down as much as possible. For instance I knew I wanted two wedding dresses! I also didn’t want to spend $20k. It helped that I wanted non-traditional and more evening gown”ish” dresses. I searched and found the perfect store where I fell in love with both dresses and spent less money on 2 than most brides spend on 1. To keep the budget down and have my splurges I also DIY’d a bunch of the wedding decor. I made the signs, provided the lanterns and candles and gold chargers. I bought the sequin runners and had some donated from a friend. I put together the lanterns the girls walked with, including spray painting them, and painted the mirror for the seating chart. It was a balance of splurge and DIY/budget for sure. Tip #7

I cannot stress enough how having YOUR wedding day is the most important part of making sure you have THE BEST DAY EVER! Be true to you and your partner and it will surely be a dream. A funny little side note. When writing my vows I included an f-bomb. That’s right I wrote into my vows the word fuck. Anyone who knows me knows that that’s a very Amber thing so it seemed natural to me. Well it was funny when during my vows I dropped this well placed “fuck” and I could hear all the laughs, some inhales of disbelief, and Mike was laughing. I didn’t care what anyone else would think. These were my vows to my husband what did it matter what people thought of them? Now I’m not saying that you should say fuck in your wedding vows but I am here to tell you that you need to be true to yourself and not care what anyone thinks about your choices for your wedding day!!! And that my friends is how you have the BEST DAY EVER!

Wedding Photography: Rebecca Keeling Studio | Rehearsal Dinner + Catering: The Mill at Fine Creek – Miller’s Cottage | Wedding Videography: Double Take | Wedding Day-of-Coordinator: Chelsea with Illumination Events Studio | Ceremony + Reception Site: The Mill at Fine Creek (moved inside due to rain) | Officiant: Family Friend | Gown: Glitter and Lace Formals | Shoes: Kate Spade + Gianni Bini | Hair: Lara with LGB Hair Designs | Makeup: Kara with Kara Waggoner Beauty | Groom’s Bands: Manly Bands | Formalwear: Men’s Wearhouse | Bride’s Accessories: Stella and Dot + Kendra Scott | Invitations + Stationery: Monday Morning Press | Flowers: Cultivate Event Co. (Formerly known as Stems and Sweets) | Flower Wall: Sweet Pear Paper | Calligraphy: The Lettering Lady | Lighting: Leap AV | Cake/Sweets: Liberty BakingEdible Arrangements, + Family Friend

A Great Gatsby Affair to Remember plus 10 Wedding Planning Must Dos




2nd Annual WEAR RVA- We Rocked That Runway!!!

wear rva 2019

The 2nd Annual WEAR RVA 2019 was 6 weeks ago! It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 2 months and that we’re already busy planning next year’s event. The time just flies by when you’re doing things that you love & are passionate about. If you’re wondering what WEAR RVA is all about read this POST I wrote last year all about our show and the backstory.

richmond fashion show

This year WEAR RVA was held at The Renaissance and it was so pretty and also SOLD OUT!!! Taylor and I put so many months work into bringing the show to life and making sure that it was a full production event. We were supported by more people than I can possibly name and by countless sponsors. WEAR RVA has grown exponentially in just one year and it takes a spectacular team to bring it all together.

wear rva 2019


An exciting component to this year’s show is that WEAR RVA was THE FEATURED Thursday show for RVA Fashion Week! What??!! I know right we were so excited to be asked to join RVA Fashion Week. Just another reminder of what dreaming big with no limitations looks like.

wear rva2019
Co-Founders Amber Kay & Taylor with RVA Fashion Week Executive Producer Jimmy Budd


We had 360 ticketed guests this year, 80 models, 11 boutiques & designers, 25 hair and makeup artists, plus over 25 team members & support staff. That’s over 500 people that came together to make this show amazingly awesome (if I do say so myself. Haha.) We also had amazing food sponsors!! The food by Goodrich Gourmet Catering blew us away and how about this WEAR RVA cake by J. Kelsey Designs?!

We had so many amazing sponsors for our show too and our hair and makeup teams knocked it out of the park for sure!!!!

wear rva 2019 j kelsey designs cake

We also had the most amazing emcees/hosts in existence! Total girl bosses who came on to support our cause with so much excitement & so many good ideas. We’re all about women supporting women and it’s heart warming and re-confirming to our mission when others are as excited about this as we are!! Thank you to Janna Hall (of Leap Innovative Group / Funemployed) and Caroline Kalentzos (of The Carline Doll / Posh PR) for being amazing examples of women coming together to cheer on other women! We couldn’t have done this show without your beautiful selves.

wear rva 2019

The net proceeds from WEAR RVA go to a scholarship fund for RVA area high school girls. Really that is the cornerstone of why we do what we do! The scholarship fund is run through The Network of Enterprising Women. You should totally check them out if you’re an RVA area woman! N.E.W. is both a women’s networking group and a philanthropical organization. They established their scholarship fund 30 years ago! Again women lifting up and empowering other women. Last year we were able to give over $5,000 to N.E.W. and support 5 scholarships. Wow!!! We are announcing our totals for this year tomorrow at N.E.W.’s June luncheon!

wear rva 2019 network of enterprising women
So many members of The Network of Enterprising Women came out to support WEAR RVA this year!

We had 80 models this year rocking that runway!!! These 80 girls are from our local area and current high school students. The only requirements to be a model for WEAR RVA are 1) current high school student in the Richmond area 2) available on two required dates for learning how to walk the runway and our event date. We want girls of all backgrounds, sizes, heights, shapes, diversity!! We want to show these girls that fashion is for everyone and we want to empower to feel comfortable and confident in their own skin. We just love our girls so much and WOW they all look like supermodels!

Last year WEAR RVA was just a dream. One of those big things you think about doing but you’re a lot scared of doing and not even sure where to begin. This dream became a reality because of an incredible partnership!!! Honestly I get a little teary eyed when I think of the serendipity of how things fell together. I met Taylor. I pitched my idea after knowing her for maybe 10 minutes. Taylor said let’s do it. WE MADE A F’ING FASHION SHOW!!!!! Now that perhaps is the condensed version but it’s true. I’m so happy to say that not only did I find an incredible business partner but I also gained an incredible friend in Taylor. WEAR RVA is equal parts both of us and I know that it’s because of our partnership that we’ve been a success.

Taylor and I are busy dreaming up & planning next year but also dreaming up and planning some other awesomeness. We have some big crazy ideas and goals & I’m so excited to see what the future holds. Thanks Taylor – I love you to pieces and I’m so very thankful for you and our friendship & partnership. Women supporting and empowering women!!!!!

I also need to give a shout out to my amazing husband. Without his unending support and love I wouldn’t be able to live out my crazy dreams and bring them to reality. He also makes great arm candy!! (Hello hot husband.)

wear rva 2019 amber kay and husband

If you’re interested in more information about how to be involved in WEAR RVA please check out our website HERE, our Facebook page HERE, or email us at wearrva@gmail.com . We would love to have you come on board to make WEAR RVA 202o the best year yet!!

All photos featured here of WEAR RVA 2019 are by the amazing Xiaoqi Li Photography. Thank you so much for your time and talent Xiaoqi!!


Honeymooning in The Bahamas

tradewinds catamaran vacation abacos bahamas scotland cay

Yay!! We got married 3/8!!! And then we had a Bahamas honeymoon!!! The Abacos, Bahamas to be precise.

Travel is definitely one of the loves of my life and traveling with the love of my life makes it even better. When Mike and I were exploring honeymoon destinations we knew we wanted to go somewhere warm. (Honestly we wanted to go to France but we decided to put that off until fall. Because March in France isn’t too warm. But I digress.) We explored so many options and ultimately we decided on exploring the Bahamas on a catamaran!!

We had no idea what we were getting into but once we discovered Tradewinds and watched their videos we were sold on the idea!!!!! We started out spending three days being beach bums in Treasure Cay. We stayed at Treasure Cay Beach Marina and Golf Resort , went to the beach, explored the area a little, drank rum filled fruity drinks, and ate over priced food.

The beach and the water were absolutely stunning. We practically had the place to ourselves and had our choice of beach lounge chairs and tiki huts for a little shade. One morning we walked the beach to find an amazing sand bar that just popped up at low tide! Another morning we rented scooters to explore a bit and found an amazing local bakery where we promptly ordered meat pies & coconut pastries and declared it the best food we had in days.

One last morning on the beach and we boarded our catamaran- The TLSea!!! It was docked in the harbor right outside our room and we had been walking past it for a few days. We were so excited to get on board!

Day 1 I was able to cross off my bucket list – Island of Pigs!! They didn’t much appreciate our carrots and much preferred the bread other boats brought to them. Also don’t let that big pink one fool you – she was a bit feisty and didn’t really appreciate the piggy petting.

Life on the boat was very relaxing!!! We shared it with 3 other couples and our Captain & First Mate. We loved everyone especially our Captain & First Mate (Michael & Marica)! Everyone had their own cabin and bathroom, small but all we needed.  It was an all inclusive trip so we got 3 meals a day cooked for us and all we could drink.

We had lots of little excursions off the catamaran to explore different cays. The captain would dingy us ashore! Here we were heading to Great Guana Cay. There were several lively bars including Nipper’s which seemed to be like Spring Break 24/7.

We went snorkeling at Mermaid Reef and saw so many fish!! One little sucker even bit my finger!!! When we got back on board I tried to figure out what kinds of fish we saw. We did see quite a few sting rays and some turtles.

Another day and another excursion! This time into Hopetown. Loved the lighthouse – such amazing views from up top.

We sailed over to Tahiti Beach which was a super cool sand bar. I find this cute little box fish and spent about 20 minutes chasing him down in about a foot of water trying to get a good picture of him. While we were exploring a storm was busy rolling in. Crazy how one half of the sky was a dark storm and the other was a perfectly blue sky.

For sure one of our favorite spots was Scotland Cay!!! We kayaked from the catamaran in and around, pulled on shore the sandbar, and did a little snorkeling. Mike found a little stingray and chased him around for a bit. We found starfish, sand dollars too. The water was delicious. Pretty sure the vacation life is for us!

Dolphins, Man-O-War Cay, and a sunrise with a full moon!

Loved the sails up!!! I’m not sure the name of this cay but we anchored and I snorkeled over to the little island. Complete perfection.

Heading back to Treasure Cay with my feet on the sugar scoop and miles of blue ocean to see! The last morning of our trip we spent back on the beach with the sand between our toes soaking up the whole experience. Then it was off to the smallest airport ever with meat pies in hand from the bakery. Yes we had our cab driver stop for us!!

We can’t say enough amazing things about Tradewinds!!! We are totally sold on this way of vacationing and are busy planning our next Tradewinds trip. If you have any questions about taking a catamaran vacation (Tradewinds has over 60 catamarans in the water all over the world) send me an email!! Or if you have any questions about a Bahamas honeymoon in The Abacos I can tell you all I know.

WEAR RVA Fashion Show – Don’t Stop Your Daydreaming

fashion show runway pictures

richmond charity fashion showWEAR RVA – Charity Fashion Show

This post could alternatively be titled – Dream Big Dreams Because YOU Can Make Them Happen! or Don’t Stop Your Daydreaming or a million other titles that have to do with thinking outside of the box, dreaming, thinking big things, not doubting yourself, finding yourself the best girl squad ever, just finding yourself in general, doing something bigger than yourself, etc. You get the idea here!

Last month I, along with co-founder Taylor of e-commerce brand Tailor, pulled off an amazing feat! On May 10th at 6:30pm WEAR RVA – Rocking the Runway For A Cause hit the runway with  smashing success!!!! 42 teen models from the RVA area rocked clothing from 7 locally owned boutiques and 1 amazing fashion designer. 16 hair and makeup professionals perfected their looks for the runway and over 25 locally owned businesses came together to make this show spectacular.

wear rva charity fashion show behind the scenes
Gianna Grace Photography
pink diy donut wall at wear rva fashion show
Xiaoqi Li Photography

WEAR RVA’s Back Story –

Quite honestly I had been mulling around the idea of a fashion show for awhile- maybe 2 years”ish”. My photography specialization has been leaning toward high school senior photography since I moved to Richmond. (Check that out here at Amber Kay Seniors). I love working with teen girls and I absolutely adore watching them transform in front of my camera. They gain so much self confidence from feeling beautiful and seeing themselves as beautiful. I create gorgeous photos of gorgeous girls but what I also do is to help them see themselves as beautiful!
Every year I have what I call my Senior Squad. It’s a group of senior girls or uprising senior girls that I work with the whole year. (So there’s Senior Squad ’18 & Senior Squad ’19 right now). We have fun styled photo sessions, get to know one another, build each other up, and create a “no mean girl” environment. My goal is to help them see themselves as the amazing  beings that they are, exactly as they are right now and then also to empower each other. The girls build each other up & support each other. Squad is for all girls and isn’t chosen based on anything other than if the girls want to participate.
My first thought was that I wanted to create a fashion show that my Senior Squad girls could model for. A super fun part of being on Squad!  Quickly the idea grew beyond that. I saw a hole in the both the fashion show and teen industry and I wanted to help to fill that. I wanted this fashion show to feature ONLY teen girls as models & I wanted it to empower these girls to see themselves as beautiful, as worthy, as enough. I wanted to create an environment so much bigger than my Senior Squad where these girls would support each other, build each other up, and bring out the best in each other. We see so many examples in the media of how girls should look (skinny, tall, no acne, etc) and hear so many stories of the “mean girl mentality”. I wanted to prove to these girls that they are so much stronger together, that women support women. I wanted to get rid of the term “real girl” because ALL GIRLS ARE REAL. No matter your size, height, shape, ethnic background, skin color, hair color, religious identification, etc you ARE REAL. My Senior Squad girls were offered first chance to participate and then we opened it up to all teen girls in the Richmond area. No model experience necessary. The only requirement was that the girls had to be a current high school student, had to be available on a few key dates, and had to have parental permission.
I knew that in order to pull this off I needed help! I needed someone with some insight into the fashion world, with some fashion show experience, and most of all I needed a woman who could see my vision and believe in as much as I did. Enter Taylor! I met her at an RVA fashion blogger and business woman’s happy hour. We were introduced by a mutual friend and it seemed like a really good connection. Taylor was friendly and definitely knowledgeable in the fashion arena so I pitched my idea…within 5 minutes of meeting her. We both laugh at that now!
wear rva charity fashion show
Richmond Photo Booth
Needless to say Taylor was a yes and we set out planning WEAR RVA right away. We sat down for our first planning meeting and hammered out as many details as possible and I walked away knowing that I had made an amazing new friend. As we planned we knew that we wanted to create an event that was bigger than us.  Yes we had our mission statement of empowering girls but bigger than that we wanted to raise money for a charity so that our girls could also see that we were invested in them, in our community, and we wanted to lead by example. The idea was to have a community based event- local businesses coming together to support each other, to support the girls of our community.

I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t have a few hiccups and if we didn’t feel like we were in over our heads at times. I was so worried that something would fall through and that our vision of an amazing production fashion show would fall flat. We pulled this event together with little to no budget and that was very scary. All of our initial calls & emails to potential businesses to come on to the event were like “hey we have this amazing idea and event we’re putting together. We would love for you to be a part of it and we would love for you to do it as a sponsor. We have no budget to pay you.” Ha ha. Needless to say we were turned down plenty of times! Next year we will be seeking corporate sponsors much sooner that is for sure.


Another concern was that since this was a debut event that perhaps nobody would take us seriously. What would happen if we didn’t sell any tickets? What if nobody came? That was my own insecurity talking of course. We sold out of our vip tickets in less than 48 hours and we were sold out of tickets completely 2 days before the event!
Media coverage greatly helped with this too! We were lucky enough to get a spot on WRIC ABC Chanel 8 morning news for an interview. That was so exciting! You can watch our full interview HERE. The Richmond Dispatch Times also gave us an amazing write up both online and in the paper. You can read that article HERE. 

Fashion Show Night!


Taylor and I and so many others worked tirelessly for months to pull this off! The evening of the show it was all I could do to hold it together. (I have a tendency to be a bit of a crier.) Taylor and I walked out on stage to welcome everyone and I was so completely overwhelmed by all the support and all the love. The runway, the lights, the chairs, the donut board, all the lovely guests….it all looked so incredibly beautiful! It was pure magic watching our girls strut their stuff down the runway. Watching their transformation from shy and unsure to Super Model Confidence was worth every single night of only a few hours of sleep.
richmond fashion show on the runway
Xiaoqi Li Photography
We had a couple of practices for the girls to show them how to walk the runway, pose, exude confidence, etc. I remember at the very first practice one of the models called me over to where she was in line. She whispered “Amber, help, I can’t do this. I really don’t think I can.” I half laughed with her, gave her a hug, and assured her that she could do it and reminded her of what  a rockstar she is. On the night of the show I watched her strut her stuff down the runway like she had been walking New York Fashion Week for years. She was so confident with her held held high.  A total super model!!!!! And I cried a little, again. All of our girls were so amazing and the confidence they walked with on show night was so amazing. I wish everyone could have seen their growth like we could!!!

fashion show runway picturesfashion show runway pictures

fashion show runway pictures
Xiaoqi Li Photography
fashion show runway pictures
Xiaoqi Li Photography
fashion show runway pictures
Xiaoqi Li Photography

Back Stage

I can’t possibly forget to mention all that was taking place behind the scenes! So many amazing people were running around behind the runway making sure this show was spectacular. Shouts out to all of our amazing hair and makeup artists, designer, boutiques, support staff, photographers, videographer, models.

wear rva charity fashion show behind the scenes
Gianna Grace Photography
wear rva charity fashion show behind the scenes
Gianna Grace Photography
wear rva charity fashion show behind the scenes
Gianna Grace Photography
wear rva charity fashion show behind the scenes
Gianna Grace Photography
wear rva charity fashion show behind the scenes
Gianna Grace Photography
wear rva charity fashion show behind the scenes
Gianna Grace Photography

Life Lessons & Finding A Girl Squad

I learned so many things creating, planning, & executing WEAR RVA. Fundraising. Event planning. Event organization. How to write a press release. How to look somewhat fashionable in a room full of fashionistas. + so much more!

But…my true “ah ha” moment & biggest life lesson was this-

When you create or do something that is much bigger than yourself what you gain from it (that you weren’t expecting) is so much bigger than you could ever have even dreamed up. Putting together WEAR RVA was about empowering the young women of our community & raising money for scholarships. It wasn’t about me at all. By happenstance though I was stretched & grew leaps & bounds. I gained a greater sense of confidence than I ever thought I could have, I gained amazing new friendships, I gained the knowledge that I can do big things, & my heart is the fullest it’s ever been.

I’ll be honest…I never got into this thinking that somehow I would find My Squad. I never thought that I wanted one or that one even existed for me. I also never thought that maybe…just maybe…I’d meet the one woman out there that I’d mesh with and that we would create magic together. WELL I stand corrected!

Taylor and I just work together. Our personalities mesh, our delivery style works, work ethic, attention to detail, etc. She has helped to build my confidence and prove to me that we can do hard things. She has supported my dream and visions and helped to make them come to life. She has proven to me that we are stronger together and that women support women and build each other up. I cannot possibly thank her enough for her friendship and support. 

We Did It!

So here’s to doing big crazy things! Here’s to stepping outside of our comfort zones! Here’s to making new friends and building new squads! Here’s to women empowering other women! Here’s to not taking no for an answer! Here’s to being brazen woman, the ones who don’t hide behind the status quo, the ones who step out into the world and make their dreams come true.

I’m so very proud to say that WEAR RVA was able to raise over $5,000 for The Network of Enterprising Women’s scholarship fund! Taylor and I presented the check to them last week at their June luncheon. Make sure you check them out and join them for a luncheon or two. They’re an outstanding group of women doing awesome things.

richmond fashion show

Thank you to all of our awesome Boutiques & Designer that participated- Tailor, Simple Soul, Free Reign, Evolve, The SEE Boutique, Firefly Lane Boutique, Stitch by Chanel, Trunk Up . 

Thank you to all of our sponsors who provided their goods and services to make WEAR RVA happen! Venue- Hofheimer / DJ- DJ Lady Syren / Audio Equipment- Rhythm of Love / Branding & Graphic Design- Guestroom Creative / Florals- Stems & Sweets / Linens- Party Perfect / Front of House Event Manager – Alana with Chancey Charm / Behind the Scenes Photography – Giana Grace Photography / Runway Photography – Xiaoqi Li Photography / Uplighting – Leap AV

Thank you to our sponsors who provided food for all of our guests – Edible Arrangements / Vagabond / Hippodrome / Sugar Shack Hanover / Sweets & Soirees

Thank you to all of our amazing hair and makeup artists – Kara Waggoner, Dee Wilford, Transformation Artistry, Rikki Hightower, Emily Steele, Kelsea Dayberry, Caked by Caly, Salon 33, LGB Hair Designs, Beauty By Brittany, Body 2 Soul Salon, Bang On Salon, Bloom Beauty Lounge VA, Josh from Salon Vivace

Thank you to all of our amazing Corporate Sponsors!!!! Sculpture Total Skin Care, Celebrity Bridal, Markel, Newfield Financial Solutions, Tony Diservio Insurance

Thank you to our sponsors who provided Donations for Raffle prizes & Swag Bags!! Swag Bags – Major Impression / Pam Anderson with Stella & Dot / Big Kandied Apple / Miss Maude’s Chocolate / Liberatus Jewelry / Purify / Ginger Juice Company / Riot & Revel / Superior Creamery & Confections / Richmond Magazine,


To My Savannah…Happy Graduation

As a teeny little girl you had a head full of blonde curls,  little round glasses, were obsessed with the color pink. You were strong willed…beyond strong willed. Actually you never threw temper tantrums instead you’d just hold your breath until you turned blue and passed out. You’d spout off with your cute little voice, looking over the top of your glasses, that you were both “smart and talented”. Yes my girl…you sure are.

Savannah you’ve always had an innate sense of yourself. Smart, sassy, funny, a frequent user of sarcasm, strong willed, opinionated, thoughtful, wise beyond your years. Those things have served you well as you’ve grown into the amazing young woman that you are right now. I shake my head at times…in disbelief that you are mine. Sometimes I feel that I am not worthy of being your mother.

I’ve made so many mistakes as a mother. I know that all parents screw their kids up somehow even when we don’t mean to but I just hope that you know how very much I love you. I hope that you can overcome any deficits I’ve left you with. I hope that I’ve shown you through action and word that you are never alone in this world, that you can overcome. I hope that through all of our conversations you know that I will always have your back, that I will never judge. I hope I’ve taught you that love is a beautiful and precious thing but also that your worth is inherently your own and never tied to a man or woman or friend or a relationship. I hope I’ve taught you that you deserve to always be treated with respect, that you can set your own limits, that you can accomplish whatever you set your sights on. I hope that I’ve taught you right and wrong and to be open minded and always fall back on your sense of humanity and not harming. I hope that I’ve taught you that your body and your mind and your heart are you own and that whomever you wish to share them and whatever you wish to do with them is completely up to you. I hope that I’ve taught you to dream magical, wonderful things and have fun and let your hair down sometimes. I hope I’ve taught you and show you that you my sweet Savannah are beautiful and magical and that your life has endless possibilities.

I am so intensely proud of you, what you’ve accomplished so far, but mostly for who you are. You are going to do crazy awesome things in this life. You my dear are going to change the world.

These past four years it’s been just me and you. Two head strong, deeply opinionated, mouthy and sarcastic women. We’ve spent endless hours debating politics, religion, love, social issues. You’ve expanded my mind in so many ways and taught me so much. You’ve shared some not so amazing music with me (I think you just want to see the look on my face when you play some of it) and I’ve made you listen to my same favorite songs on replay. Somehow we even managed to road trip to a Nascar race and “Talladega” has become our in the car song.  You’re my car trip buddy, my grocery shopping buddy, my late night chat buddy, my fashion consultant, my photography muse. My “baby” and my very best friend.

Congratulations for all your hard work these past 4 years and for graduating summa cum laude! (Dude you totally showed me up) You are super smart and talented!!! Now…onto your next frontier! And I can’t wait to see where you go and what you accomplish.

And now…a few of my favorite photos from across the years.

As just a little in Boston on the duck.15 years later on the same duck!


When I graduated my dad gave me a tape with this song on it. I later shared the same song with Dustin…and now with you.