WEDDING PANEL DISCUSSION
SHARIA BARKSDALE – ECLECTIC FETE
Sharia Barksdale, MTA, CMP is the CEO & Resident Rock Star of Eclectic Fete, an off-beat event planning company servicing non-traditional clients!! She has been in the social event space for the past four years creating innovative event experiences for weddings and social events. She is also the DC Regional Director of the Say I Do! LGBT Wedding Expo–an event geared toward inclusivity and diversity in the wedding event market. Forever the double agent, Sharia is also the Manager, Meetings at The American Institute of Architects where she practices logistical Kung-Fu for architect-focused meetings and conferences. As her alter ego #PlanItGlam, Sharia is working on a platform to bridge the gap between hoteliers and meeting planners to foster a safe space to share industry war stories and best practices for meeting success! The proud alumna of Hood College and The George Washington University, Sharia spends her free time plotting her world takeover, traveling, seeing dope museum and art exhibits, and making epic memories with loved ones.
SARAH PETE RIZZI – SINCERELY PETE
Sarah Pete Rizzi has more than 16 years experience in the hospitality, wedding & events industries. Rizzi branched out on her own in the Fall of 2015 with the launch of Sincerely Pete Events, a boutique wedding firm based in Washington, DC, focused on cultivating meaningful, beautiful, timeless and equality-minded events. She paired her passion for events with her love of travel a year later and partnered with award-winning travel agent Heather Christopher to co-found Wanderlust Wedding Co., a destination wedding company, planning and designing events all over the world.
Rizzi’s designs and weddings have been published on Inside Weddings, Pantone, 100 Layer Cake, Catalyst Wedding Magazine and more. She has been a featured blogger on United with Love, GayWeddings.com, WeddingWire and Love Inc. Magazine. As an active educator, she has led talks and classes for such organizations as The Rising Tide Society, Honeybook, and WeddingWire. She has also been honored as a featured contributor to The International Wedding Trends Report for the last two years.
JEN SIOMACCO – CATALYST WEDDING CO.
Jen Siomacco is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Catalyst Wedding Co., a wedding publication focused on bringing more diverse representation to the wedding industry and showcasing all people in love. Catalyst also works to connect couples with inclusive wedding vendors and to provide members of marginalized communities with a platform to share their own views on weddings. Jen is also the 2017 recipient of the Girlboss Foundation Grant and a TEDx speaker. Follow Catalyst on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest @catalystwedco.
MARGARET BURGE – THE ST. GREGORY HOTEL
Margaret is a veteran meeting and event planner turned sales manager in Washington, DC. Over the course of her career, she has planned and executed over 300 events including large conferences, trade shows, galas, and weddings. As a Catering Sales Manager for the St. Gregory Hotel Washington, DC, Margaret uses her expertise in event planning and logistic to help begin the process of bringing a client’s vision to life.
For the past three years, Margaret has sold and executed catering, venue rentals, wedding room blocks, and Day-of coordination for LGBTQ clients in the Logan Circle and Dupont Circle area – helping bring people together to share unforgettable experiences.
JON FLEMING – JON FLEMING PHOTOGRAPHY
With 8+ years experience Jon Fleming owner of Jon Fleming Photography specializes in surprise proposal, engagement, and wedding photography particularly working with LGBT couples.