Mountain Talkby Chris O’Connor

Party Planning in Sabillasville

Thanksgiving reminds me of the gifts I’ve enjoyed, including thoughtful advice and support from others. I have an ever-expanding list of folks that I’ve neglected to adequately thank for their kindness and generosity of spirit over the years.

One neighbor on this list is Vickie Willard of Special Event Services in Sabillasville. She was a stranger who came to my rescue in the final stages of my daughter’s wedding planning a few years ago.

Planning a wedding reception was way outside my wheelhouse. I lacked a storied history of planning anything but kid’s birthday parties. But I had time, determination, horticultural knowledge, and a creative bent.

While planning for the wedding, the flowers were left on the back burner until a few days before the wedding. Perhaps I was mistakenly confident regarding the flowers. It doesn’t much matter why, except I had other fish to fry. The procrastination nearly caused me to meet with my personal Waterloo.

Enter, one of my soon-to-be heroes on the Mountain, Vickie Willard, floral designer extraordinaire.

I called her on the advice of friends and explained my predicament. She said there wasn’t enough time to obtain rare wedding flowers. I wondered aloud that if we provided the flowers would she consider working her magic. Thankfully, she consented.

Dad of the Bride (DOB) scooped up a variety of fresh flowers on his way home from work, while I gathered foliage and flowers from our yard that might satisfy the bride and groom’s color scheme. Then, I delivered them all to Miss Vickie. I was stunned by the beautiful bouquets she had displayed in her shop. We chatted about the bride’s hopes and desires for her bouquet, and I departed, confident that Vickie would come through.

Less than two days later, DOB picked up the beautiful bouquets and boutonnieres and delivered them to the venue, with time to spare. All was right with the world and the wedding took place without another worry.

Fast forward to Autumn 2014.

A trend in men’s boutonnieres is that a flower’s stem be encased in an empty rifle shell casing. Vickie says it’s the latest thing. She would know, since she’s been the owner of her event planning business in Sabillasville for over seven years. She’s also noticed that grooms are becoming increasingly involved in wedding planning.

Her own wedding to Paul Willard in 1976 resulted in her move from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania to become our long-time neighbor on the Mountain. Three children and six grandchildren later, she continues to follow a path of entrepreneurial spirit with great energy and enthusiasm. Anyone who over-thinks hosting Thanksgiving, throwing a dinner party, or any other celebratory occasion, can’t help but marvel at Vickie’s creativity, easy-going nature, sense of humor, and gift for logistics.

Vickie is humble about her business acumen and creative versatility in design. Her goal is to meet as many needs that her clients desire and to provide the best service she can to plan any event, be it prom, a party, or a full-scale wedding planning. Weddings are of special interest to her, an interest that grew during the thirteen years that she and her business partner, Pam Fox, ran the now defunct, A Touch of Country Store, in Sabillasville.

The event planning business developed gradually after A Touch of Country closed. Individuals began contacting Vickie to inquire if she’d design flowers and centerpieces for their respective events. After about a year, one event led to another, which evolved into the current incarnation of a thriving full-service event planning business.

Special Event Services is a “soup to nuts” operation, providing everything from invitations, to planning, and on-site supervision of the entire event. Or she may provide as little as what I needed, with the bouquets that Vickie designed and fashioned at the eleventh hour for my daughter’s wedding. She also provides an extensive variety of rental items for the church, party, or reception venue, including chair covers, linens, and backdrops for the head table.

Choosing a venue for any gathering is a top priority before considering hosting an event. Vickie points out that most popular venues book a year ahead of time. An unusual piece of advice Vickie offers is that although a wedding is inarguably an exciting and special day, it is just one day with many, many, more to follow, so there is no need to break the bank. She provides strategies, alternatives, and suggestions as to how to economize and still host a beautiful and memorable gathering for family and friends.

There’s something to be said about hiring an event planner like Vickie. She brings something more to the party. She, her daughters, and longtime friend, Pam Fox, are all about providing all aspects of accomplishing a successful event, whether it is making deliveries, floral design, decorating, or simply providing rental items to the client or venue.

Vickie especially enjoys wedding planning. She says it’s just plain fun. It’s about meeting strangers who stay in touch long after the event for which she’d originally been hired. Clients frequently share the joy of their firstborn child’s arrival and continue to share news of other milestones in their lives. The original relationship grows into something deeper over time.

Strangers are friends Miss Vickie has yet to meet.

For more information, contact Vickie Willard at 301-241-3041 or email

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