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Board of Directors

The Association of Wedding Professionals of Greater Washington, DC (AWP) is governed by a dedicated team of wedding industry leaders.  Tasked with managing the day-to-day operations of the organization, the AWP Board works diligently to provide our members with pertinent educational content, efficient member services, and effective association business administration.

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CEO and Resident Rock Star of ECLECTIC FÊTE 

Sharia Barksdale, MTA, CMP, DES is the CEO & Resident Rock Star of Eclectic Fete, a colorfully modern event planning company!  She revels in creating innovative event experiences for weddings and social events.  She is also the DC Regional Director of the Say I Do! Wedding Expo—an event geared toward inclusivity and diversity in the wedding event market. She is also serves as an advisory board member for Prevue Meetings + Incentives and is a member of MPI and ASAE.  The proud alumna of Hood College and The George Washington University, Sharia spends her free time plotting her world takeover, traveling, exploring dope museum and art exhibits, and making epic memories with those she loves.

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Event Planner and Coordinator of BE YOUR OWN GUEST EVENTS

With a little over 4 years of events management experience, Kayla uses her skills of problem solving, creativity, and flexibility to help clients produce weddings and private events. She excels at logistics and operations, and her attention to detail means that events go smoothly from concept to completion. Good at wearing multiple hats, Kayla is adept at responding quickly to changing circumstances, always maintaining an upbeat, can-do attitude. As project manager, she specializes in customer service that nurtures positive, productive relationships with both clients and suppliers. Kayla advances her clients’ mission by making the most of their event experiences. Kayla is a certified Wedding and Events Planning Professional and is top planner with Be Your Own Guest Events. Kayla enjoys traveling,outdoor adventures and when she’s not busy planning events, she’s bartending events as a licensed mixologist.

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Linda Joyce "LJ" Gyimah (she/her)


Linda "LJ" Gyimah is a makeup artist based in Northern Virginia with over 10 years of experience. LJ specializes in making women look and feel like the best version of themselves by enhancing their beauty. She has worked with brides from global backgrounds allowing her to hone her skills to meet the beauty needs of all clients. Weddings are full of love and joy and LJ takes the stress out of the day by creating detailed plans to cover everything you could imagine and beyond so you don't have to.

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Patrice Van Sickle has over 15 years of administrative experience and is no stranger to supporting managers, executives, and business owners. After planning her own wedding in 2017, she fell in love with the planning process and decided to mix her joy of wedding details and backend tasks to launch her virtual assistant business. Not long after launching her business, she realized that social media is where she thrived! From there she decided to focus her business on social media marketing by helping wedding businesses gain more visibility through strategic marketing and content creation with ease online. She knows how important social media is and is passionate about building connections and creating heart-centered businesses. She is excited to be joining the AWP Board and bringing new ways to serve the wedding industry.

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Program Chair

ADRIA THOMAS (she/her)


Adria Thomas fell in love with event planning in 2012.  She has worked in the events industry for over 10 years.  Adria has always had a keen eye for details!  Since then, she has worked for federal government agencies, notable organizations, and event planning companies in executing their events.  Adria holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from The Trinity University of Washington and a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in Management from the University of Maryland Global Campus.  She also holds a master's certificate in Project Management from The George Washington University.  In Adria's spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, trying new restaurants in the DMV Area, attending music concerts, traveling, and shopping!

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Site Chair

TALEMA RICE (she/her)

Owner and Lead Planner of NOIR BLANC EVENTS

Talema Rice is the owner and lead planner of Noir Blanc Events.  She has worked in the hospitality industry for over 10 years, primarily in corporate hospitality venue sales, service, and catering roles, and weddings and social events have always had a special place in her heart.  Tamela loves getting to know couples and their love stories, learning what their wedding day dreams are, and how Noir Blanc Events can incorporate their individualities into the overall vision and theme.  In addition to weddings, Noir Blanc Events plans corporate and private events.

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Membership Chair



Howard started his photography studies at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and continued at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Lansat Photography has provided professional photography services for over 30 years. In 2018, he joined forces with the amazing team at Washington Talent so that he could focus all his attention on photography while still being able to offer green screen, photo booths and dozens more novelties for events.

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Membership Chair


Owner and Lead Photographer of TORI DEL PHOTOGRAPHY

Victoria Delgado is the owner of Tori Del Photography. We offer refined wedding photographs that will last forever through the DMV and beyond.


Their photographs consist of both digital and film format bringing a whimsical and dreamy esthetic to all our our couple's weddings. Victoria is married with 3 children and an adorable pup who was adopted prior to the pandemic. She resides in Maryland.

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AshleyRae Swann is a life-long arts and crafting junkie.  Inspired by all mediums of fine art, literature, and antiques, her services are executed with equal parts heart and imagination.  She believes every occasion is made more special with a little extra sparkle and creativity.  Her design philosophy is simple:  treat everyone as the unique spirit they are.  There is only ONE you in the world.  In her available time, AshleyRae is an avid reader, painter and swimmer.  She enjoys travelling, spending time with family, and community advocacy.  AshleyRae is the proud alumna of Virginia Commonwealth University and is an NCIDQ Licensed Interior Designer, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and Association of Wedding Professionals of Greater Washington, DC (AWP).

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The Member-at-Large is elected by the membership of the Association and serve a one-year term.  Their main responsibilities are to be an advocate for the AWP membership body, while also keeping the AWP Board knowledgeable of any member concerns and opportunities for organizational growth.


The Member-at-Large inspires and motivates AWP Members to find innovative ways to help our community succeed.

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Past President


Owner and Lead Stationery Stylist of FINGERS IN INK

Nicole Fingers Woodward, owner and head stationery designer for FINGERS IN INK fine invitations and stationery. Her stationery boutique, located in Arlington, Virginia, is celebrating nineteen years in creating custom and trendsetting event invitations. Nicole’s enthusiasm and experience in the wedding industry brings a wealth of innovative ideas to the AWP organization. She has been an active member for nine years and has served on the AWP Board as Vice-President and President. Under her administration, she worked to elevate the AWP Brand. Nicole was known for bringing outstanding events and educational programs for members and followers.

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Past President's Circle

Nicole Fingers Woodward (2017) - Fingers in Ink

Amanda Smith (2016) - White Pumpkin

Tara Melvin (2012) - Perfect Planning Events

Marilyn Patterson (2010) - Joyous Events LLC

Jim Johnson (2008) - The Picture Story Studio

Susan Gildersleve (2006) - Perfect Wedding Guide

Ken Rochon (2004) - The Umbrella Syndicate

Steve Kimbell (2000) - Oracle Band

Marc McIntosh (1998) - The Wedding Experience

Shelby Tuck-Horton (1993) - Exquisite Expressions



The AWP Board of Directors are biennially elected and devote their time and resources to growing the impact of the association throughout the Greater DC area as well as serving the full needs of our membership community.


The next election cycle will open in the fall of 2022 for Members-at-Large and the fall of 2023 for Board Members. 


We encourage members interested in participating in AWP as a leader to explore the current volunteer opportunities available below:

Board Member Position - Partnership Chair

Membership & Retention Committee

Marketing Committee

Program Committee

Partnership Committee

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