Not Your Average Bar

While you can’t go wrong with the classic cocktail bar, adding an additional bar to the evening is becoming more and more popular – a food bar. There are so many different foods that can be brought in and set up in a beautiful display for the event. Feature one of your favorite foods or desserts on your special day with toppings to match! Whether you decide to go with a food item or a dessert, having a specialty food bar at your wedding will be something that makes it stand out to all of your guests.  Here are a few of our favorites!

1. Milk and Cookies

milk-cookies-lesner-innA milk and cookies bar is a fun and simple idea for having an alternative dessert rather than your standard wedding cake. It is also super easy to do yourself if you enjoy baking (or have a family member who does)! Lesner Inn provides an assortment of cookies for our milk and cookie bar with chocolate chip, m&m, white chocolate macadamia nut, and oatmeal raisin to name a few. Create a beautiful arrangement with these cookies, and include an old fashioned milk jug to complete the display!


2. Candy Apple Bar

This dessert bar is such a festive idea for Fall weddings. It’s super easy to set up, all you need is one Crock pot with caramel and one with chocolate, and numerous toppings for guests to pick from. Some of the most popular toppings for candy apples are things like chopped peanuts, mini M&Ms, and crushed Oreos, just to name a few!  We also recommend having some sliced apples for the guests who don’t want a whole apple.

3. Popcorn Bar

We love having popcorn bars as a late night snack at Lesner Inn weddings!  Choose between regular buttered popcorn or kettle corn and let them do the rest! We offer butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and M&Ms as toppings, but we encourage you to bring in whatever your favorite popcorn topping is!


  1. Martini Mashed Potato BarView More:

Having a mashed potato bar is a fun idea that lets your guests personalize their dinner instead of everyone just getting the same plated meal.  Some of the basic toppings would be crumbled bacon, sour cream, chives, and shredded cheese. And who doesn’t like something served in a martini glasses?!

  1. Sundae bar

Another great dessert bar, or even a late night snack, would be to have an ice cream sundae bar. We offer vanilla and chocolate ice cream with a variety of toppings! Choose your favorite flavor, and add things like chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, rainbow sprinkles, various cookie and candy bits, and chopped nuts for your perfect ice cream sundae!

If you want to make your wedding day personalized to taste, having a food bar is definitely the way to do it!


Kaleigh & Grant – 7/23/2016

We are falling in love with this couple all over again! It’s such a beautiful thing to see two people who love each other so much who have all of their friends and family supporting them whole heartedly! What a great video to show off this perfect couple’s special day!!!

Kaleigh O’Donnell & Grant Skalak from Jack Whitney on Vimeo.

Having Your Furry Friend Part of Your Big Day

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Having all of your friends there to support you on your wedding day is something that is so important to couples, so why leave out your best friend – your dog?  We have seen numerous adorable ways to incorporate your furry pup into your special day that we love! Having your dog as a part of your wedding will not only be a memory for you and your guests, but your dog will be so happy to be with you and a part of the action!

  1. Save The Date

Having your dog as an extra model in your save the date announcements is a sweet way to include them for everyone to see.  This is a great idea for the couples that do not necessarily want their pet at the venue during the wedding or for the furry friends that might not have the best manners in public.

  1. Flower Girl

This is the most common way we see couples including their pet but also one of the cutest! Having your dog walk down the aisle instead of a typical flower girl is something that makes your wedding stand out. But if you already have a flower girl in mind your dog could always be a flower girl escort and have the flower girl walk them down the aisle. Make sure to have your dog dressed for the part with extra flowers from the bouquets!


  1. Ring Bearer

If you have a male dog and don’t want to make them the flower dog this is another great way to have your dog play an important role in your wedding. For this you can also have the flower girl walk them down the aisle, just make sure the rings are tied tight to the dog’s collar!

  1. From Our Pup to Yours

Having dog biscuits as extra wedding favors for guests that also have a furry friend at home is a cute detail for your fellow dog lovers. It is also super easy to either make the dog treats or just buy treats and wrap them up for guests to take home with them.

However you decide to make your furry friend part of your big day make sure to have a trusted friend in charge of your pup and to take home at a certain time in the night to make sure you and your new spouse can focus on all the fun!

Unique Guest Book Ideas

On a day that is all about the bride and groom, your wedding guests are the ones who truly make the day so memorable. Having all your family and friends celebrating with you on your special day is something that you will never forget. The days of just making every guest sign his or her name in a book are long gone, so having a fun and unique way to remember every person that was at your big day is so important! Here, at Lesner Inn, we have seen so many cute and creative ways to have your guests “sign in” so no one is forgotten.

1. Having guests sign bottles of wine
For all our wine lovers out there this is perfect on so many levels! You and your fiancé can pick out a few bottles of wine to have each guest sign and write a note on with sharpies. Picking out the wine together will be a fun distraction from the stresses of wedding planning! You can either keep it simple and choose your favorite go-to bottles of wine, or pick out bottles that have a name or label that may be meaningful to you as a couple! You can then open each bottle on your one, three, and five year anniversaries and reminisce on memories with your guests on your big day while you sip on a nice glass of wine.


2. Jenga Pieces
This creative idea is great for our newlyweds with a love for game night! Jenga is a great game to put out for entertainment while friends and family are over. Getting all your guests to sign or write a note on a piece will make it special every time you play!

3. Shake it like a Polaroid picture
Who doesn’t like a fun selfie?! With this guest book idea you really get to see each guest’s personality! All you have to do it set up an area with a Polaroid camera and let the selfies begin!

4. Advice Coasters
Another fun way to remember all your guests on your big day would be to have specialty coasters made with a spot for your guest to give you some newlywed advice and then sign their name. This is such a fun idea because whenever you are enjoying a cold beverage you can read over all the fun advice that all your friends and family wrote!

These four “guest book” ideas are some of our favorites that we have seen from past weddings. On your big day having small touches such as a unique guest book can make it so memorable for your guests!

Choosing the Right Seating Plan for Your Wedding Reception

It’s safe to say that no one is ever truly prepared for the stresses that come from planning a wedding. Even some of the seemingly simple decisions will require extra care when you and your fiancé are planning. One thing that you should designate a lot of time to is your guests’ seating arrangement. Before creating your floor plan, figure out which type of seating arrangement will work best for you, your guests, and your reception.

Assigning Guests to a Specific Seat

This is the most formal seating chart that will also take the most time on your part. This arrangement works best if you’re inviting a lot of people from very different groups! You know your guests best, and assigning your guests to specific seats allows you to sit people with common interests next to each other. It will also guarantee that couples and families won’t be split up. This type of plan also gives you the opportunity to keep people separated who may not get along. To let your guests know where to sit, create a seating chart, so guests can find the right table where their place card sits!

Dustin Lewis Photography

Assigning Guests to a Table

This is the most common seating arrangement we’ve seen at Lesner Inn. Assigning your guests to specific tables will guarantee that parties and couples won’t be split up, reducing guest anxiety! This also allows you to place people who are like-minded together. You are able to create group tables for your family members, your friend group from college, your coworkers, and everyone who attends your wedding. Set up place cards with table numbers written on them or a seating chart to let guests know what table they’re assigned! This option is also great for allowing guests to sit next to whomever they want at their table.

No Seating Chart

Letting your guests have free reign on picking their seats can be great, but there are some things to keep in mind when you decide to nix the seating chart! You should reserve a table or two for you and your fiancé’s families. Parents and grandparents want to be seated close to you, so they can see everything that’s going on throughout the night! Also, add extra seats to your seating plan. This will help to make sure parties and couples don’t get split up for dinner, when there’s only one seat here and there throughout the room. Keep in mind; if you want to have a plated meal, you have to have a seating chart designating which guests are at which table so we can deliver the correct meal to them!

Caitlin Gerres Photography

Ultimately, you want your guests to feel comfortable with who they’re sitting with at dinner. Your tables should encourage conversation throughout the night between your guests. Knowing your guests and the relationships they have with one another will help you decide which type of seating arrangement is perfect for your wedding reception!

Fall Weddings on the Water

Summer may be cooling down, but wedding season is heating up. Fall weddings are becoming more and more popular with brides and grooms. Although most people think of barn weddings for the fall, having a fall wedding on the water offers so many great benefits for the bride, the groom, and their guests. Considering the gorgeous views and added benefits of our venue, having a fall wedding at the Lesner Inn just makes sense!

Both of our spaces are perfect for a wedding in any season, but fall can be especially beautiful! Our Lesner Hall is designed with neutral colors, allowing couples to use linens, uplighting, centerpieces and more, to completely transform the space into the perfect fall inspired reception. With the Lesner Hall comes our beautiful outdoor Sunset Deck, which allows your guests to enjoy the cool fall breeze on the water. Our Waterside Deck is a more casual space with romantic lighting from paper lanterns and twinkle lights, and rustic floorboards. With just a few fall-themed decorations, you can really enhance the overall atmosphere of the room for your event. Opening the deck’s windows will also bring in the crisp fall air as your guests dance the night away!

Ross Costanza Photography

Thinking of fall makes us all excited for the savory, comfort food that comes with it. Working with our chef, you can offer your guests your perfect fall feast!  An additional fun idea would be to add a candy bar at the end of the night, transporting your guests back to one of the best fall holidays, Halloween. Another fall food addition would be to offer pie instead of wedding cake! Nothing says “fall” more than a homemade apple or pumpkin pie, except maybe candy apples!

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Kinstler Photography

Fall weather can be great with warm days and cool nights, but it also comes with some pretty unpredictable weather. Although hurricane season can cause some problems in the Hampton Roads area, the Lesner Inn offers the perfect mix between an indoor and outdoor venue for you and your guests. We won’t let the rain ruin your perfect day!

Another fun fall addition can be at your wedding’s bar! Consider adding some fall signature drinks to the menu for your guests. Although our bartenders can make any classic drink from our house and premium liquors, work with your event managers to offer some great fall beverages. Consider offering Spiced Rum with Apple Cider or even an Apple Cider Mimosa! Another great addition for guests of all ages would be a Hot Chocolate bar. These small additions can really emphasize your overall fall theme!

If you’re having trouble decorating, we have some great rental items to create the perfect fall look. First, choose from our table linens to bring in your fall color scheme. Between our house and specialty linens, you can choose from over 70 colors! With gold being a very popular fall color, consider renting our gold Chivari Chairs for an added pop of shimmer on your wedding day. For centerpieces, our rustic lanterns will offer the perfect fall flair. Add an autumn twist to our floating candles by adding small branches to the vase! We offer so many great items to rent; we’d love to help you select the perfect ones for your wedding night.

Kinstler Photography

If you’re looking for the perfect fall wedding venue, you’ve found it at the Lesner Inn! Between our venue spaces, food and beverage options, and centerpieces to decorate with, we can help make all of your fall wedding Pinterest board dreams come true!

Why We’re Obsessed With Cupcakes

It’s safe to say that here at the Lesner Inn, we have a sweet tooth that will just never be satisfied. So many cakes and desserts have come through our building, and we definitely have our favorites. Looking back on all the weddings, we’ve come to the conclusion that we’re absolutely obsessed with having cupcakes at your wedding reception!

5. You Can Still Cut the Cake. Cutting your wedding cake is such a fun tradition that makes for great pictures! While your guests enjoy their cupcakes, order a small cake for you and your new spouse to cut into. You definitely don’t have to pass up this tradition just because you wanted to serve cupcakes. Work with your baker to get the best price for what you need and want on your wedding day!

4. Order to Match Your Guest Count. Although bakeries can tell you how much cake to order for your guest count, there’s a good chance you will have lots of cake left over. Cupcakes allow you to order perfectly for the amount of people that are attending your wedding. You will most likely only need one cupcake per guest. This also allows you to save money and eliminate post wedding waste.

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Luke and Ashley Photography

3. Offer Guests a Variety of Flavors. With a traditional cake, you usually only offer three to four different flavors of cake, because there typically aren’t more than four tiers. With cupcakes, the options are endless! You can create cake and filling combinations that reflect different events in your life. You can also frost your cupcakes with different colors to match your color scheme. Just remember, if you offering more non-traditional flavors, order some extra cupcakes so your guests can enjoy and try the flavor they want!

2. Easy for Your Guests. Offering cupcakes makes everything so easy for your guests! First, depending on how you display them, this is the quickest way to serve dessert to your guests. Cupcakes are also easy to eat! Since a lot of guests will be making their

David Champagne Photography

way to the dance floor, they’ll be able to bring their cupcake along without worrying about making a mess.

1. Many Different Display Options. A classic cake can really only be displayed one way, but not cupcakes! You can display them on a cupcake tier, on your cake table, or at each of your guest’s place settings. There are so many different types of cupcakes tiers and ways to display them at your guest’s seats; the possibilities are endless!


Cupcakes are such a fun, chic option for your wedding day! They really make everything easier for you and your guests. If you think your guests might end up being full from all the delicious food you offered for dinner, you can offer them packaged cupcakes to take home after the reception, too. Between the variety of flavor options, fun display arrangements, and added ease to your wedding planning, you really can’t go wrong! Plus, who doesn’t love a good cupcake?


Let’s Talk About Photo Booths

When it comes to wedding pictures, you want a photographer to capture every special moment of the day. From the minute you wake up and throw on your monogrammed robe, to the moment you see your fiancé for the first time or make your grand exit, you will want every moment documented! While the photographer is focused on you and your new spouse, it’s difficult to get shots of all your loved ones who made sure to attend your big

Elizabeth Henson Photography

day. This is where a photo booth can play a huge role on your wedding night!

Having a photo booth at your wedding reception offers a great opportunity to get both funny and loving pictures of all your friends and family throughout the night. With your photographer’s lens positioned on you, the photo booth gives your guests the chance to shine. It also gives them something fun to do while you’re taking post ceremony pictures or later in the night when they’re feet hurt from dancing! But, what kind of photo booth is the best?

Here at the Lesner Inn, we’ve seen everything from DIY photo booths to the very professional set up done by companies like SnapQube. With a DIY set up, you can create

Dragon Studio Photography

whatever type of photo booth you want. Supplying the back drop, props, and camera can be more work than you think, but will help capture some funny and creative guest moments. If you find that DIY creations can be time-consuming and stressful, hiring SnapQube can make sure all of your photo booth needs are met. With SnapQube, they will print photos for you and your guests that will let you cherish those wedding reception memories forever!

Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, make sure to have some fun props, and you will be sure to get great shots by the end of the night. Your guests will love the photo booth just as much as you do, and it will help make the night unforgettable! This is one trend you definitely don’t want to miss.

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

The first dance is a long standing tradition that has evolved over the years. Today, brides

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Luke and Ashley Photography

and grooms can select from millions of songs to play during their first dance to match their personal styles! With so many songs out there, how do you find one that’s just right for you and your fiancé?

Think back throughout your relationship. Do you already have a song that represents a memory between the two of you? Many couples choose songs that they heard on their first date or even a song that they first danced to when they started dating. Finding personal connections like these will make your first dance even more special!

Another way to find the perfect song is to find a genre or artist you both like. Hop onto your iTunes or Spotify account, and start exploring! Once you target an artist, start listening to their music and select a song that you both enjoy. If you want to perform a more choreographed ballroom dance, instead of a typical slow dance, ask a dance instructor what they think would work best.

Angie McPherson Photography Ciera Darian Reception-19
Angie McPhearson Photography

If you don’t feel like searching for hours for that one perfect song, Spotify recently released the most popular first dance songs in the world.  There’s a reason why these ten songs are used so much, and it’s because the lyrics and music combine together beautifully to match the love you have for each other on your special day! Check out the list below:

  1. “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
  2. “At Last” by Etta James
  3. “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne
  4. “All of Me” by John Legend
  5. “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri
  6. “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele
  7. “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz
  8. “Everything” by Michael Buble
  9. “Better together” by Jack Johnson
  10. “Amazed” by Lonestar

Whatever song you and your fiancé end up choosing, we know that song will hold a special place in your heart forever.

The Ultimate Bride’s Day of Emergency Kit

After experiencing countless weddings, we’ve seen it all from blistered feet to tiny dress stains. Accidents happen, and unfortunately, some things are just unavoidable on your wedding day. Every wedding expert will tell you that a Wedding Day Emergency Kit is crucial on your big day! If you’ve never been a part of a bridal party, or even attended a wedding, you may be at a loss on what to put in your own kit. Here at the Lesner Inn, we’ve compiled a list of items that can save you before and after you walk down the aisle!

The Lesner Inn’s Wedding Day Emergency Kit

Remember, you know yourself better than anyone else, so some of these things might not make it into your Wedding Day Emergency Kit. It’s always better to be prepared than to look back and be upset that your nail polish chipped right before you walked down the aisle or your eyes were red and itchy all night at the reception. What’s the best part? All of these items are great to have around the house anyway, so you might as well bring them along for your wedding day too!