Happy Monday!  We want to spice up the start of your week with our interview with Sarah, the Event Coordinator for The John Marshall Ballrooms in downtown RVA!  She has such passion for weddings — she’ll probably cry during your ceremony!

The John Marshall Ballrooms is a Richmond VA wedding venue.

SarahTell us a little about your venue!

The Hotel John Marshall opened in 1929 as the largest hotel in Virginia. Its rooms welcomed Elizabeth Taylor, Mary Tyler Moore, and Elvis Presley along with political figures such as Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter. After sitting vacant for over 20 years, the building recently underwent a total renovation, spanning two years of construction to strip it and restore it to its original beauty.

We have two gorgeous ballrooms, The Marshall Ballroom and the Virginia Ballroom. The Marshall ballroom has nine vintage crystal chandeliers & three walls of grand, thirty-foot windows.This room makes for beautiful ceremonies with its natural lighting.

Our Virginia Room features a wrap-around mezzanine balcony that leads into the main floor from a split staircase perfect for grand entrances or couple introductions. The room is illuminated by the three original Swarovski crystal chandeliers, and boasts the original hardwood dance floor.

How did you get started in this business?

I started out in the event industry by working with mostly corporate events: booking their holiday parties, team building events and meetings. I also booked A LOT of kids birthday events at my former job! One day, I had a breaking point and told myself this is not what I wanted, or where I wanted to be, so I made it my mission to get into the “wedding side” of the business. I haven’t looked back since!

What differentiates you from other businesses in your field?

The John Marshall is one of the only venues in Richmond that can seat up to 200 in one room. We also like to say we aren’t really strict when it comes to rules. If a couple wants to shoot a confetti cannon for their exit, we say go for it! We like to come up with creative ideas to help suit our clients visions and dreams!

The Wedding Crasher's Tour utilized confetti cannons! Photo by Shalese Danielle Photography
The Wedding Crasher’s Tour utilized confetti cannons!
Photo by Shalese Danielle Photography

Why do you like working with weddings?

I really enjoy seeing our brides the day of their wedding. They look so beautiful and happy. Most of the time I need to step away from the ceremony because I get teary! Seeing all of the work that has gone into the planning process and seeing how it all comes together is really special. I also enjoy meeting all of the amazing people in the industry, from other planners, photographers, lighting experts, DJs, and florists. I am really lucky to work with such talented people!

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From a vendor’s perspective, what is the one best piece of advice you can offer to engaged couples?

I really recommend going to any and all planning events, expos, and classes. It can be really overwhelming for a lot of newly engaged couples. There are so many great events that go on throughout the year that are reasonably priced, like Prep and Plan with Glint, The Wedding Crasher’s Tour and the Richmond Wedding Expo. You can get tons of advice on budgeting, venues, caterers, and vendors, all without breaking the bank. Take your time when selecting these things, and never feel pressured!

What or who motivates you?

A lot of people! My parents, of course — they are both so hardworking and have always encouraged me to do my best, stay true to myself and to never lose sight of goals. My boyfriend of three years, Ryan, who works 2 jobs and 7 days a week so we can finally move into a house. He has not had a day off in 4 months! Also, I think I am one of my biggest motivators (other than my parents). Is that bad to say? I look back on where I was a few years ago and would never have pictured myself here! It’s amazing where life can take you and how much you learn along the way. I wake up every morning, and I am so grateful for everything and everyone who is in my life.

What do you like to do when you are away from work?

I love spending time with my family. Ryan and I like to travel, we both work two jobs (I also bartend at The Camel), so time off is rare! We like to go to the river when its nice out or visit local wineries. Plus, Richmond has an awesome music scene! I enjoy seeing shows during the week. And I can’t leave out shopping, visiting the beach and just curling up with my kitties, Charlie and Ollie!

Gorgeous lighting by Lighting Professors for the Wedding Crasher's Tour Photo by Shalese Danielle Photography
Gorgeous lighting by Lighting Professors for the Wedding Crasher’s Tour
Photo by Shalese Danielle Photography

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

I love photography, and I’m a JFK and Jackie history nerd! I love taking pictures and capturing moments, nature, and historic places. I am fascinated with John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline. I enjoy watching documentaries and reading up on his life, their marriage (all of their drama!) and his assassination. I am currently wrapped up in a Hulu series 11.22.63, where James Franco goes back into time to try and stop the assassination of JFK. So exciting!

Sarah, we just adore you!  If you’d like to learn more about Sarah & The John Marshall Ballrooms, please visit www.thejohnmarshallballrooms.com.