SESMA – Special Event Sites Marketing Alliances

SESMA Member Spotlight: The Winery at Bull Run

March 1, 2017sesmadminNews0

The Winery at Bull Run invites its guests to a unique event experience nestled in the Virginia countryside. Located on 225 acres of scenic rolling hills and vineyards with breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, our winery creates the perfect backdrop for intimate or large-scale events. 

Within two miles of Interstate 66, we are the closest winery to Washington, D.C. and directly adjacent to the historic Manassas National Battlefield Park. Our rich history and rustic charm coupled with award-winning wines make any event an unforgettable experience. Our friendly and professional staff are dedicated to making every event hosted at The Winery at Bull Run run smoothly from start to finish. 

The Winery at Bull Run offers three unique event spaces. For those who prefer an outdoor space, the Hillwood Ruins feature picturesque views of the Norton vineyard situated on our expansive lawn. The area around Hillwood can accommodate any size party, making this historic location a favorite for wedding ceremonies. The Barrel Room, our rustic indoor space, can accommodate up to 125 guests for all types of occasions. Complete with bulb lights, wine barrels, tanks, hardwood floors, two TVs, and Wi-Fi, it’s a perfect choice for an intimate gathering. The Tasting Room, the most popular choice for large-scale events and weddings, is outfitted with copper bars, a fireplace lounge, authentic 1800’s-era hand-hewn beams, and spacious covered patios and can accommodate up to 200 seated guests. 

We look forward to helping you plan an amazing event your guests will never forget. Contact to book your next event!

Ask the Wedding Experts!

November 28, 2016sesmadminNews0

Ask the Wedding Experts is a luncheon panel with 4 top wedding planners from our region, who come from a variety of backgrounds and clientele. This is your chance to ask them the questions you’ve always wanted answered.

Panelists Include:

Trish Simitakos

Event Designer & Planner

Trish Star Events

Based in Arlington, Virginia, Trish focuses on wedding and social clients in the Mid Atlantic region. Beginning her hospitality career in 1996, first in New York, working with American Express in the Centurion Division, and later with InterContinental Hotels Group, she honed her skills by working with clients in Miami and West Palm Beach, before launching Trish Star Events in Washington, D.C. Notable events include the traditional grand array on every planners roster – celebrity weddings, dinner parties for heads of state, and international fetes. When asked, however, her favorite event is still the two person candle lit dinner on an empty rooftop, where the client nervously proposed to his love during a rainstorm. Sharing that moment with the couple was worth every soggy minute. She believes that her role is to set the stage that allows the actors to do their part, and has created a brand that specializes in offering  clients full service experiential planning services.

Allison Golt

Cherry Blossom Events

Alison has always had a passion for events. She started her career in catering on the Eastern Shore of MD for over 7 years. During college, she had her hand in planning over 3,000 events for the student body, including large scale concerts and shows. She then moved to DC to work for the National Museum of Women in the Arts as the wedding specialist and event coordinator for almost 4 years. In this role, she worked directly with over 500 couples in assisting them with envisioning their weddings at the Museum. Alison joined the Cherry Blossom Team in 2015 and just finished a successful first year.

Charlotte Jarrett

Charlotte Jarrett Events


Danielle Couick, CPCE

Principal | designer & planner

Magnolia Bluebird design & events

Like the stories of her clients, and the events she designs for them, Danielle’s narrative lays much of the foundation for her approach to entertaining, her style and the way she delivers her client experience. A native North Carolinian and Washington, D.C. transplant, Danielle is no stranger to great hospitality and celebrations with soul. She believes in creating environments that are not only beautiful or interesting but also intentional. Inspiring and engaging.

By infusing her events with these subtle (and not so subtle) touches, she elevates the event experience from the expected to the extraordinary. It is her grace, humor, eye for detail and passion for people that makes Danielle one of the most revered planners in the country. It is her ability to engage her clients and vendor partners on a personal level to create a collaborative team rather than individual parts that her events are seamlessly created and flawlessly executed. It is not by coincidence that her clients become friends and part of the Magnolia Bluebird family.

Danielle is a nationally acclaimed award winner for her impeccable event design and production and is often tapped to share her insights through editorial and educational contribution in the global market. Danielle has been named one of the Best Wedding Planners and Designers of 2015 by ModWedding and was recognized by international publication, Special Events Magazine as a “’30 Under 40′ Event Professional Worth Watching.” Her work and insights have been featured in local and national press and publication outlets such as CNN, Washingtonian Bride and Groom, BizBash, Glamour, Home and Design Magazine and more. Her most personally prized feature was when her own wedding was selected as the wedding to represent Washington, D.C. by The Knot National in their 50 States/50 Weddings feature in 2016.


September Event Recap: Ask the Experts

October 18, 2016sesmadminNews0

sesma-1The Washington National Cathedral hosted SESMA’s Annual Ask the Experts event in their exquisite space on September 29. Members and guests had the opportunity to ask a panel of site directors about the unique challenges they face and to exchange behind the scenes advice for successful events.

The program began with a welcome from SESMA’s Vice President, Suzi Molak with Longview Gallery. SESMA’s Marketing Co-Chair, Lisa Frazier with United States Institute of Peace, then announced the winners of SESMA’s first Instagram Photo Caption Contest held in July.


The four panelists shared their experience with best practices and advice specific to their own venues. Dan Rose, from the Washington National Cathedral, was a wonderful host, along with Aneisha Persaud, Events and Hospitality Manager, discussing how events are put together in their large and varied spaces.  Bret Freedman of Dock 5 at Union Market covered the challenges of client communications.  Janet Daniels, from River Farm, gave insight to wedding clients and vendors working at her venue. Denise Borland of Ronald Reagan Building provided a professional look at the large events held at her site. The perspective of all panelists encouraged a lively, informational and entertaining discussion.

After the program, guests enjoyed a delicious reception provided by Rouge Catering before attending tours of the Cathedral.


A special thanks to each of our experts as well as our event sponsors:  Washington National Cathedral, ROUGE Catering, Nature of Design, Nomad Event Systems, ecoprint, EastCoast Entertainment and Ampa Events.

See more photos on our Facebook page.

Gensler Brand Design

September 15, 2016sesmadminNews0


At Gensler, we believe that each event should create extraordinary experiences that foster connectivity. The most exciting challenge in design is reaching the audience and having them internalize and accept the messages that you are communicating so that your brand can make a long lasting impact with your audience. Gensler’s brand design practice provides a multi-disciplinary team skilled at crafting temporary brand experiences within various types of events and strives to ensure that engaging, branded content is woven seamlessly throughout.

We know experience means different things to different people, and so we tailor our approach for different industries. Gensler’s strength also lies in the implementation process. We work closely with our clients and fabricators until the final component is installed to our client’s satisfaction. We take pride in not only creating outstanding designs, but also in making them a functional, cost-effective reality. We know a project is not complete until it is well received by its intended audience.

Our services include:
Creative Strategy
Event Design
Printing & graphics
Signage and Wayfinding Design
Website design & development
Digital Experience
Event Types:
Guerilla Campaigns
Trade Shows
Pop-up Retail
Educational Environments


Social Studies

August 18, 2016sesmadminNews0
On Washington, DC (August 15, 2016)
Technology is changing the way we socialize. A great example for businesses juggling messaging to multiple audiences is social media. From email, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, thesesocial media platforms curates and shares the best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world.
At SESMA’s July “Taste of Summer” event at the Anderson House, SESMA relaunched its social media campaign on Instagram. The SESMA Caption Contest was a great success and received tremendous response with one of its top three photos receiving over 400 likes.
While Instagram has become the home for visual storytelling for everyone, Party Rental use YouTube videos to feature the journey of their products from warehouse to their next destination. Purple Onion, Design Cuisine and Occasions Caterers use blogs tomention, link toresources and provide value-added content to current and prospective customers.
Each platform-email, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, a blog, etc. enables you to communicate and interact with people in different ways. The more eyes on your photos to pages, the better chance you have of gaining new subscribers and engaging new customers.
To help increase your visibility and grow your business, leveragetrends and opportunities in social media. Highlight a particular tweet,follow SESMA on Instagram. Constant awareness is key to building long-term momentum.
SESMA will continue to feature a diverse and innovative mix of upcoming sessions, keynotes, and networking events for the entire industry to enjoy.
We can’t wait to see you at the Annual Ask the Experts program on September 29th at Washington National Cathedral. Remember to use social media. When all members of a team share the same vision of success, amazing things can happen.

July Event Recap: Tastes of Summer

July 21, 2016sesmadminNews0

On July 20th, over 70 SESMA members and guests celebrated the beautiful midsummer’s evening in the garden of The American Revolution Institute of The Society of the Cincinnati at Anderson House. As guests arrived, they were welcomed with fresh summer cocktails and the melodic sounds of live music by Bruce Pike Productions. The evening featured Select Event Group‘s unique décor, building an ideal setting for members to reconnect and relax with peers from the busy summer. The true Tastes of Summer were beautifully featured throughout the garden by Purple Onion Catering, including a decadent S’mores Bar for guests to experience summer’s favorite dessert!

Throughout the evening, guests were seen taking photos and posing for SESMA’s first Instagram Contest! Guests followed @SESMADC and tagged us in their best #SESMASummer shots from the evening. The top two photos with the most likes and/or shares by 7pm TONIGHT (July 21) receive a prize! Log on now to like your favorite photos from the evening! Winners will be announced on Monday, July 25th!

As the evening’s event came to a close, guests were welcomed to tour Anderson House and marvel at one of the capital city’s most fashionable mansions.

Special thanks to our event sponsors:
The American Revolution Institute of The Society of the Cincinnati at Anderson House, Purple Onion Catering, MJ Valet, Select Event Group and Bruce Pike Productions.

SESMA's mission is to develop cooperative marketing programs that bring member special event sites to the attention of meeting and event professionals throughout the DC-metro area who seek unique venues for their functions.
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