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River & Stephen (04/28/2018)


River and Stephen: A Love Written in the Stars

River and Stephen’s love story has been featured in Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, a highly prestigious publication. We are delighted to have received this great honor, and are inspired to share their love story with you.

The epic love story of psychic River Zhong and Stephen Cheung is centuries in the making. Stephen, a courageous Chinese general, fell in love with River’s beauty and fiery spirit instantly during a past life. As a result of war, the two lovers were to be separated for another 300 years. Their destiny was ultimately fulfilled when River’s Godmother, serving as the couple’s matchmaker, recognized that the two lovelorn souls were fated for sweet reunion. Upon formal reintroduction, the blissful couple were astonished to have finally found one another, vowing not to allow life nor death to keep them apart.

Within four short months, the couple had arranged an intricate Chinese engagement ceremony to allow Stephen to formally request that River become his bride. During the ceremony, the couple’s matchmaker negotiated the dowry between each set of parents, which consisted of yellow gold jewelry that was placed on the bride-to-be by her future mother-in-law. The bride’s family also presented gifts to the groom and his parents as part of a special tea ceremony, including a money-filled red envelope symbolizing a blessing and formal welcome into the new family. River and Stephen own two successful restaurants in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area: Lavagna, offering fresh farm to table Italian cuisine, and Pow Pow, serving up delectable Chinese American dishes. The couple later celebrated their engagement during a party with family and close friends at Lavagna Restaurant.

River and Stephen planned for their wedding to carry as much symbolism as their engagement festivities. River’s psychic abilities led her to hire me – Elisa from Exceptional Events by Elisa to plan, design, and coordinate the day of the wedding with great attention to symbolism and detail. The bride chose a complementary set of award-winning event professionals to round out the team, including Butterfly Photography, Brookhill Florist, and Bowen Films. As restaurateurs and foodies, the couple chose to celebrate their nuptials at the highly acclaimed 2941 Restaurant. River and Stephen’s ceremony was attended by close family and friends, and was gracefully framed by koi ponds, waterfalls, and a lakeside view.

The ceremony and reception décor were accented with touches of gold to symbolize wealth, along with purple and cream florals, desserts, and favors. The color red played a vital role in their Chinese celebrations as a symbol of success, love, loyalty, fertility, and honor. The couple stunned in their engagement pictures with vibrant red Chinese apparel. River wore gilded red heels for the wedding ceremony along with an American-style lace wedding dress. She changed into another white dress with a delicate embroidered cape for the reception, as is traditionally done in Chinese culture to highlight the bride’s beauty. Multiple tea ceremonies served to honor the couple’s parents and officially usher the bride and groom into their new family.

River and Stephen were delighted with the flawless outcome of their day, and they felt that their wedding was perfectly fit for a love written in the stars. The joyous couple soon enjoyed a relaxing, tropical honeymoon with family in Miami to continue with the festivities. They will be planning a second, traditional Chinese wedding to take place in China at a future date. River and Stephen are in agreement that their spectacular wedding and newfound happiness were worth the centuries-long wait.


Grace Ormonde Wedding Style is dedicated to offering its readers innovative ideas and creative approaches from the world’s top wedding specialists. Recognized with prestigious industry awards for its superb printing and design quality, Grace Ormonde Wedding Style blends meaningful editorial content with select advertisers. Grace Ormonde Wedding Style is the most talked about luxury wedding magazine worldwide. Be sure to look for the exquisite spread featuring Leo and Bill’s wedding in the most recent issue of the magazine!

River Zhong & Stephen Cheung


Who Does What? Event Professionals Explained

Who Does What? Event Professionals Explained

You have a big event on the horizon, and can’t wait to start planning! You begin imagining the big day, browsing websites, and scanning social media sites for inspiration. Soon, you feel overwhelmed and buried by a blizzard of checklists and a daunting array of decisions. You know you’ll need help to pull it all off, but what type of event professional should you hire?

Doing your research, you’ve gathered information about a variety of event professionals including event planners, coordinators, managers, designers, and stylists. How do they differ in what they do, and who should you hire? Let us help clear up the confusion:

An Event Planner handles:

  • Planning, coordinating, designing, and styling: An event planner conducts meticulous event planning from start to finish, which includes the services rendered by an event coordinator, an event designer, and an event stylist. An event planner has a comprehensive role, providing the services of the remaining three types of event professionals described in this article, plus the planning and execution portion.
  • Smooth and seamless planning: An event planner takes the guesswork out of the process, making planning a wedding as seamless and smooth as possible.
  • Logistics: An event planner takes care of the logistics. From vendor referrals, coordination, and contract negotiation, to understanding and executing your vision.
  • Budgeting: A planner will keep careful track of your budget, ensuring you stay within your means while securing the best deals.

NOTE: Wedding planners are a subset of event planners; they specialize in weddings, and conduct all duties of an event planner for weddings. Event planners plan, design, execute and manage a variety of events to include weddings, birthdays, graduations, baby showers, corporate events, and more.

An Event Coordinator or Event Manager is focused on:

  • Logistics, on a shorter timeline than a planner: An event coordinator’s services are expedited; they serve as a week-of or month-of version of an event planner. An event coordinator will confirm vendor contracts and create a day-of timeline, making sure things like payments and guest counts are in order. They will not be involved in the earlier planning phases or in keeping track of your budget.
  • Coordinating on the day of the event: Part of an event coordinator’s job is to manage everything involved on the day of the event, from load-in and load-out, to ensuring that everyone is on schedule.
  • Tweaking details: An event coordinator makes sure everything you’ve done, up until they take over, is in good shape. Hiring a coordinator to take over the month before your event gives them time to tweak any details and follow up on loose ends.
  • Freeing you up to enjoy your day: An event coordinator ensures that everything is in order, nothing is forgotten, and you’re free to enjoy your celebration!

NOTE: An event coordinator’s work is performed for social events, while an event manager’s work is performed for corporate events.

An Event Designer’s role includes:

  • Translating your vision: An event designer’s role is to translate and enhance your vision of the event, making it a reality. They design your event before the big day, but do not style the event for you on the day of your event.
  • The big picture and details: An event designer designs everything from floor plans and tablescapes to linen selection, color palettes, floral designs and more.
  • Decision making: An event designer helps make the design decisions that will give your event a cohesive and stylish look.
  • Creating an environment that’s unique to you: An event designer has the ability to make your unique event vision a reality, weaving personality and sophistication into your event design.

An Event Stylist is charged with:

  • Stylizing elements of the event:  A stylist uses the client’s own supplies, including family heirlooms or purchased décor, to style the event to perfection. An event stylist works their magic the day-of the event, or during the few days leading up to the big event. They do not plan the overall design of the event ahead of time, which is instead the job of your event designer.
  • Transforming a space: An event stylist has an artistic eye that allows them to take your event designer’s preconceived design concept, and beautifully transform a space.

Event professionals are equipped to anticipate and troubleshoot problems that may arise in preparation for your event, allowing you to enjoy the planning experience with minimal stress. Ensure that your special day goes off without a hitch, with the help of the right event professional!

Are you looking for an experienced event professional to design your dream event, take command of the vendors, coordinate logistics, and ensure that your event runs smoothly? Exceptional Events by Elisa would love to provide you with an exceptional event experience! Please call us at 703-752-6287, and schedule an appointment today!


You Can’t Afford NOT to Use a Planner!

You Can’t Afford NOT to Use a Planner!

The love of your life proposed, and following an emphatic “yes”, you are now engaged! Congratulations! You can’t wait to begin planning your dream wedding, but the job of turning your wedding vision into reality is quickly turning into a nightmare. Should you continue planning your own wedding only to further deepen your frustration? Should you hire an amateur wedding planner to save money? Or should you listen to your wise married friends and make a strategic investment, for the sake of your sanity, to hire a seasoned professional wedding planner?

If you aspire to achieve your wedding vision with your nerves and sanity intact, a professional wedding planner with a keen eye for design and detail is the wisest investment you can make! Here’s why:

Knowledge and experience: When you hire a professional planner, you are hiring experience, knowledge, and refined talent. Experienced planners constantly grow their knowledge base and stay on top of trends through research and continued education. This makes them experts at what they love to do. Experienced planners are equipped to anticipate and troubleshoot emergencies that may arise before and during your event, allowing you to thoroughly enjoy your big day and focus on your guests without stress.

Savings of time and money: A professional planner is truly a worthwhile investment — one that will save you precious time and money. Most couples have a strict wedding budget and timeline to which they need to adhere. Your professional planner will make it a priority to help you achieve the biggest bang for your buck. They will crunch numbers and score discounts, stretching your dollars and securing the best deals.

Bringing your vision to life: A great planner will loyally protect the distinct vision you have developed for your wedding, ensuring the details and the big picture never deviate from your wishes. Many vendors tackle more than one wedding per day or per weekend, leading to mix-ups, distraction, and disappointment. A dedicated professional planner will focus solely on your special day and will serve as the head conductor of your grand wedding symphony. They will ensure everything looks, feels, tastes, and sounds perfect, according to your unique vision.

Connections: Experienced planners have access to a large network of tested and proven wedding vendors. A great planner will not only help you to secure discounts, but will also help you to select vendors whose services are truly worth what they charge. Seasoned planners will connect you with budget-friendly vendors that will achieve your unique wedding’s style, and identify extras that can be added to a service as a bonus. Professional planners expertly focus on each vendor’s value and reputation, which is a priceless benefit to your budget and your wedding experience.

Your sanity: Peace of mind before and during your wedding day is priceless. On average, wedding planning conducted by nonprofessionals takes between 250 to 500 hours to complete — hours that would be better spent making sweet memories with your spouse-to-be. It is frequently a source of stress that leads to tension between a couple, at times leading to the disastrous end of a relationship. Hiring a seasoned planner allows you to hand off time-consuming responsibilities so that you have space to enjoy the romance of this unique moment in your life. A professional planner is adept at scheduling appointments, working with vendors, and handling the nitty-gritty issues and inevitable hiccups related to planning your big day. A professional planner will hand you back your sanity so that you can truly enjoy the planning process and your relationship.

Are you looking for an experienced event and wedding planner to take command of the vendors, coordinate logistics, and ensure that everything runs smoothly? Exceptional Events by Elisa would love to provide you with an exceptional wedding and event planning experience! Please call us at 703-752-6287, and schedule an appointment today!

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