Northern Virginia Wedding Planner | Wedding Event at Oatlands Plantation, Leesburg

Last month I participated in the annual “Weddings in Loudoun Venue Open House”, which, is an awesome event hosted by Visit Loudoun where many of the County’s loveliest wedding venues open their doors for a day and brides and grooms can come tour the fabulous properties and meet local wedding planners, wedding photographers, caterers, and other wedding vendors.

This was my first year participating in the tour as a vendor and I was so glad to be stationed at Oatlands Plantation! Not only is Oatlands a hop skip and a jump from my home studio, but it is definitely is one of my favorite wedding venues in the area and makes my refined-outdoor-wedding obsessed heart go pitter patter! As far as I’m concerned, Oatlands checks all the boxes on the dream venue checklist…. everything from its gorgeous views, to the grand historic mansion, to the immaculate sprawling gardens are perfectly aligned with an elegant outdoor wedding. They even have a reflecting pool! Uh! It’s something out of a dream.

As my “booth” for the open house, I styled a sweetheart table vignette complete with ghost chairs, overflowing florals, taper candles, and a tiny floral chandelier hanging above. I setup in one of the lesser known gems on Oatlands property, the historic greenhouse! I LOVE the chipping plaster and exposed brick and walls and ceilings of glass that lets in so much perfect light. It makes me feel transported to a tiny ancient town in Spain or South America! It would be a prefect venue for an intimate rehearsal dinner or bridal or baby shower.

One of my FAVORITE photographers, Angela Newton Roy Photography, was kind enough to come by and capture some photos for me before the event started, and I am SO happy she did! She’s seriously such a talent! If you don’t follow her on instagram already, do yourself a favor and do so! Every picture she takes is just breathtaking and on top of all that, she’s the nicest person you’ll ever meet. Alright, without further ado, here are some photos of the garden inspired sweetheart table vignette.

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Photographer: Angela Newton Roy Photography
Planning, Design & Florals: A Charming Affair
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals
Venue: Oatlands Plantation

Northern Virginia Wedding Planner | Haoxing and Qian Qian | Engaged

I pretty much look forward to seeing my clients engagement photos just as much as I anticipate seeing their wedding photos, so I was so glad when I got the email from Kelli Lynn Photography a while back letting me know that Qian Qian and Haoxing’s engagement photos were ready to view! I was blown away by how perfect they were so choosing just a few to share here was a big challenge – which is probably why it’s taken me several months to pull this blog post together! I mean look at their too cute for words outfit selections, and of course Kelli delivered in the photography department. Her light, airy style is just so gorgeous and her ability to capture sweet, authentic moments is such an important quality in a wedding photographer.

I’ve loved working with Qian Qian and Haoxing over the past eight months or so on their wedding planning. They are both doctors with rigorous work schedules since they’re completing their residencies outside of the DMV, so we’ve been doing much of their planning virtually. They were back in the area in January, so I got to spend a day with them catching up face to face over coffee, picking linens, tasting cake, and choosing the wines they’ll be serving at their wedding, so I was so glad for that experience with them.

 Their wedding at the Historic Rosemont Manor in the spring is going to be so pretty! I can’t wait to see all of the sweet details come together! Until then, enjoy their gorgeous engagement photos!

 Virginia Wedding Planner

Virginia Wedding Planner

Virginia Wedding Planner

Virginia Wedding Planner

Virginia Wedding Planner

Virginia Wedding Planner

Virginia Wedding Planner

Virginia Wedding Planner

Virginia Wedding Planner

Virginia Wedding Planner

Virginia Wedding Planner

Photography by Kelli Lynn Photography

Northern Viriginia Wedding Planner | Hillary and James Married at The Mill at Fine Creek

You know those old friends that you haven’t seen in years, but once you get together, it’s like no time has passed at all? For me, Hillary was one of those people. Hillary and I were good buds in high school and through college, but as our different majors and extracurricular activities started taking up a lot of our time, it got harder and harder to keep in touch. After college, we kind of lost touch as she was getting her Masters Degree and Tom and I had moved to the left coast. But, after Tom and I moved back, Hillary and I reconnected and it was like no time had passed at all, which is the BEST!  I was so honored when she decided to have me help coordinate her wedding.

When I first sat down with her and James to discuss their wedding plans back in April, I was super impressed by how much they had already accomplished, and her sweet mom was already hard at work on the design and florals, so they really only needed help in the month leading up to the wedding… putting together the timeline, making sure all the i’s were dotted, and t’s were crossed – so that’s where I came in!

Although I certainly can’t take any credit for the creative direction– that was all Hillary and her momma Doris — I did want to share the pretty pictures by Carly Romeo & Co.!  Hillary and James’ wedding was in December, so they wanted it to feel wintery, but not christmas-y. They incorporated beautiful rich reds, soft greens, blushes, mixed metals, and a lot of candlelight and I think they nailed their desired look! It turned out amazing.

Leesburg Wedding Planner Wedding Invitations Leesburg Wedding Planner Wedding Reception Leesburg Wedding Planner Groomsmen Leesburg Wedding Planner BrideLeesburg Wedding Planner First Look  The escort card board was my one bit of design contribution!Leesburg Wedding Planner Wedding Seating Chart  Leesburg Wedding Planner Centerpiece Leesburg Wedding Planner Head Table Leesburg Wedding Planner Wedding Leesburg Wedding Planner Brides Bouquet Leesburg Wedding Planner Couple

Thank you so much Hillary & James for letting me play a role in your day! And I’m SO glad that we’ve been able to reconnect! Wine and charcuterie again soon?

Photographer: Carly Romeo & Co.
Cinematography: Starring You Productions
Ceremony Venue: St. Benedict’s Catholic Church
Reception Venue & Catering:  The Mill at Fine Creek
Makeup & Hair: Slingin’ Pretty
Reception Music (DJ): Steve Donaldson
Invitations & Papers: Whitney Donaldson
Cake: Kuba Kuba
Personal Florals: Amanda Burnette
Reception Florals: Doris Martinez
Shuttle: Bio-Ride
Coordination: A Charming Affair

Northern Viriginia Wedding Planner | Kate and Lev Married at Cabell’s Mill

I love it when I get a call from a potential client and it’s like it was just meant to be. That’s how it was when I first heard from Kate and Lev back in August. As they were describing their perfect wedding celebration on our initial call, they really seemed to want an authentic, meaningful, fun celebration that was truly them… which are my favorite weddings to help plan. Furthermore, as we were talking, it turns out they’re both east-coasters originally, but now live in the San Francisco Bay Area, just 10 or 15 minutes from where Tom and I used to live! Small world!

They actually tied the knot in San Francisco last year, but hadn’t yet had the chance to celebrate with both of their families in one room, so they were excited for this chance to spend time with those they love most! They selected Cabell’s Mill in Centerville, Virginia as their perfect backdrop.

Leesburg Wedding Planner Bride and Groom

As a former Californian, I could definitely appreciate their top priorities: delicious food, fabulous drinks, and a genuine and personal atmosphere. As always, Well Dunn Catering delivered on the fabulous, fresh, food and drink.

Loudoun County Wedding Couple

Leesburg Wedding Planner Specialty Cocktail

Purple Eucalyptus Bridal Bouquet

My favorite part of my job is figuring out the sweet stories that make a couple unique, and incorporating that into their wedding design. For Kate and Lev, we used playing cards as escort cards, since they met over a game of poker at a bar!

Loudoun County Wedding Planner Escort Card Display   Loudoun County Wedding Planner Purple Bouquet

We also brought in local Bay Area honey as their favors, so their family could enjoy a little taste of where they now call home.

Leesburg Wedding Planner Favor Idea

Loudoun County Wedding Couple

Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your day, Kate and Lev! What fun it was!

Leesburg Wedding Planner Couple

Photographer: Nicole Ballard Photography
Venue:  Cabell’s Mill
Catering: Well Dunn Catering
Party Rentals: Party Rental Ltd.
Grooms Suit: The Black Tux
Cake: Fluffy Thoughts Cakes
Planning, Design, Florals, and Signage: A Charming Affair

Northern Virginia Event Planner | A Bridal Shower in Leesburg, Virginia

When your oldest friend is getting married, and you’re her matron-of-honor, you definitely want to throw her a lovely bridal shower! The bride-to-be, Emily, and I have been friends literally since birth. She was my maid of honor when I got married, and hosted a lovely shower for me before my wedding, so I was so happy to be able to return the favor.

I tried drawing on inspiration from her life for the design. I ultimately landed on a “seaside” theme, since she and her fiance met while they were living in Seattle and their first date was on a boat that he built (yes he BUILT it!)!

We all know a bridal shower isn’t complete without mimosas, so we did a nice mimosa bar. My aunt (mother of the bride-to-be) brought the most fabulous organic juices to mix and we had fresh fruit to add as well. I hung this cute “Mimosa Bar” sign by Barn Hill Wedding Decor, from some italian ruscus garland I had made.

Seaside Inspired Bridal Shower Mimosa Bar

Each champagne flute had a piece of sea glass with the guest’s name on it, which meant the ladies could put down their glass, and it wouldn’t accidentally be swept up by somebody else.

Seaside Inspired Bridal Shower Mimosa

I used this super soft dusty blue sanded satin fabric down the center of the tables and accented this with some whimsy coastal blooms, driftwood, and of course pillar candles, and we tied each napkin with nautical rope.

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I had big hopes of hosting this event outside on our back patio, but given the time of year (October 1), you can never really be sure what kind of weather you’re going to get. It ended up being rainy and frigid, despite my pleading with the universe, but we had a backup plan and held her shower in my living room, which worked out well, but yep– those are my couches in the background (c’est la vie!)!

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Like mimosas, no bridal shower is complete without a game either. We played a few, one of which was called “Who am I?”. Each guest had to write down a memory or a favorite thing about the bride-to-be, and the bride-to-be had to guess who wrote it. If she didn’t guess correctly, the writer won a prize!

Seaside Inspired Bridal Shower Game

And as Julia Child says, “a party without cake it just a meeting”, my aunt brought the most delicious carrot cake from South Street Under.

Seaside Inspired Bridal Shower Cake

As a guestbook, I asked each guest to bring a copy of their favorite recipe and provided paper, washi tape, glue, and pens for each person to decorate a page in a recipe book that the bride-to-be got to take home afterwards. It was a really fun party, and it was such a treat to be able to host it.

Seaside Inspired Bridal Shower Favor

I also have to send a big shout-out to my aunt, Donna, for the help in planning and coordinating everything! And thanks to Kir Tuben of Kir2Ben Photography for the photos!!

Photographer: Kir2Ben Photography
Venue:  Private Residence
Catering: South Street Under
Cake: South Street Under
Party Rentals: Classic Party Rentals
Burlap Mimosa Bar Pendant:Barn Hill Wedding Decor
Planning, Design, Florals, and Signage: A Charming Affair

Northern Virginia Event Planner | End of Summer Girl’s Evening Party

I know, I know. Everybody is getting excited about their pumpkin spice lattes and I’m still over here trying to enjoy the last few weeks of summer…

My client wanted to host an “end of summer” / “back to school” celebration for her girlfriends, many of whom have kiddo’s returning to school this week. As a final hurrah to Summer 2016, we put together this party. The vibe we were going for was relaxed, feminine, and summery. A big thanks to Camille Catherine Photography for capturing the details!

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My client wanted to host the event at her home, which was perfect, because she has a BEAUTIFUL home and a stunning pool area! The space was a perfect setting for a summer themed party. We floated giant oversized balloons in the pool, which looked really neat.

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner

She already had a perfect bar space near the pool, so we just added a few things here and there. Like this amazing custom”cheers” sign by 43 Layers! The signature cocktail, a cucumber lemon chiller crafted by Well Dunn Catering, was the perfect summery touch.

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner

I am pretty obsessed with these brand new low tables from Paisley & Jade! They also provided these fabulous vintage rugs and assorted pillows for the guests to sit on right on the pool deck!

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And the Tuscany linens from La Tavola always add something! Their lux texture and color is prefect!
dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner
dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner

The chargers, china, flatware, glassware, and other rentals came from Party Rental Ltd. and were lovely!

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner
dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner a charming affair

We also did some fun custom signage to help guests find their way around. And Well Dunn Catering knocked it out of the park with the food!

dc wedding planner virginia wedding planner a charming affair

Thanks to the team of vendors that made this event possible!

Photographer: Camille Catherine Photography
Catering: Well Dunn Catering
Dinner Tables, Rugs, and Assorted Pillows: Paisley & Jade
Table Linens, Napkins, and Assorted Pillows: La Tavola
Party Rentals: Party Rental Ltd.
“Cheers” Sign: 43 Layers
Jazz Trio: Olivera Music Entertainment
Planning, Design, Florals, and Wooden Signage: A Charming Affair

Northern Virgina Wedding Planner | Borrowed & Blue Interviews A Charming Affair

As I settle into our new home, meet new friends, and make new connections, I feel like people are always so intrigued when I tell them what I do. “I am a wedding planner” is almost always met with “Oh wow, that must be the best job ever!” Despite being a lot more work than they show you in the movies, it is in fact the best job ever. Additional questioning ensues, which I love because I could go on and on about weddings. So when Stephanie at Borrowed & Blue reached out to me for an interview, of course I said YES! Check out our Q&A below!

“Here’s the understatement of the year: weddings take a lot of thoughtful planning to go off without a hitch. That’s why wedding planning websites like Borrowed & Blue are out there to help in the first place, and is even more why we can’t stress enough how important it is to hire a wedding planner or designer to help you through it all. Luckily, A Charming Affair is there to help, as one of the best event planners in the area. We’ve reached out to them in order to get a peek behind the curtain into the wedding planning world.” – Stephanie DeVaux, Borrowed & Blue Market Specialist

If you could possibly narrow it down, what would be your favorite moment of a wedding day? This is definitely a tough question since each couple and each wedding is a little different. But I’ll admit I still tear up a bit when the bride walks down the aisle. I know, I know, so cliché…. But honestly, I feel like this is such a grand moment where not only does the wedding day become real for them after so many months of planning, but also the reason why they’re having this wedding is so pertinent in that moment when they see one another and the music is playing! It’s like “Ah-ha! At last!” and it’s such a joyful and emotional experience for them. I can’t help but feel some of that joy for them too.

Planning, Styling, and Florals by A Charming Affair. Photo by Ashley Maxwell

(Photo by Ashley Maxwell Photography)

How’d you get into wedding planning? I did corporate event work after college, but began to focus on weddings specifically when so many of my friends and family started getting married. If you can’t tell, I’m a sucker for love stories and creative design, so the transition just came naturally. I started interning for two amazing planners in the San Francisco Bay Area, learned the ropes, and received my Wedding Planning Certification. I opened A Charming Affair after that in 2013.

Describe your event aesthetic in three words. Organic yet refined.

The first thing you ask when you sit down with a couple?  I want to know what their favorite memories are together and what they’re most excited about in their future. I think these two questions can really tell a lot about them as people, as a couple, and what’s truly important to them.

Top three pieces of advice for couples who just got engaged?

  1. Invest in exceptional vendors. Working with quality professionals will make all the difference in your wedding experience. Make sure you love your vendors and really connect with them. Once you’ve made the investment, trust them.
  1. Don’t feel like you have to do something for your wedding just because everybody else is doing it. I think it’s amazing when couples want to do something unique and personal that their guests haven’t seen at every other wedding already.  
  1. Don’t forget WHY you’re having a wedding in the first place and don’t stop writing your love story! Take a night each week and go to a movie or dinner, take a trip together, whatever. This is the person you’re committing to build a life with, so mentally check out of wedding planning mode every so often and keep building it!

What’s your favorite thing about your job? There’s nothing better than seeing the couple and their guests truly relaxed and carefree on the wedding day and it’s obvious that they haven’t given a thought to whether the tables will look like they’re expecting, or if Aunt Sue’s gluten free meal will be ready, or if  the band is going to play the right song for their dances – they just know that me and my team, and their team of vendors have their back and it’s being handled. That means I’ve done my job and that is so rewarding to me.

As far as the day-to-day, I LOVE the design aspect of planning. Creating beautiful and unexpected details inspired by the couple’s story and personality is kind of my jam.

Planning, Styling, and Florals by A Charming Affair. Photo by Olivia Smartt

(Photo by Olivia Smartt Photography)

What’s the best thing about having your wedding in Washington DC? Having a wedding in DC just lends itself to being grand. I mean look at the architecture, the history, the excitement of the city! It’s a real treat for out of town guests to get to visit the nation’s capital and explore.

My studio is located west of the city in Loudoun County, and there are so many wineries, beautiful estates, and farms here which are amazing backdrops for a wedding as well.  It is a totally different but equally incredible experience. I think the fact that this area has so many options is fantastic!

Most important detail of wedding decor? Hands down…. Flowers. And not just because I am a florist too. There’s nothing that brings a room to life like fresh flowers.

Your thoughts on DIY weddings? As a full service planner, I don’t get much experience with DIY weddings, but to me, the WHY of a wedding is so important. So whatever kind of wedding day you envision, be it DIY or the most over the top extravagant affair, as long as you have the why figured out, then I love it.

What would your ideal tablescape look like? Lots of interesting textures and dimension… definitely a unique linen or textured tabletop, a beautiful combination of charger, china, flatware and stemware, and of course lush florals are a MUST.

Planning, Styling, and Florals by A Charming Affair

What’s your favorite of all the Washington DC wedding venues?

Tranquility Farm in Loudoun County is absolutely stunning. And the Willard in the city. OMG.

The most important part of wedding planning? On a practical level: the timeline is key. I get a bare bones outline going as soon as the venue is booked. It makes life so much easier and streamlined as we add in more details and book the other vendors.

For the couple: have fun with it — you only get to do it once.

Describe your dream wedding. Well, I’ve already had mine. My husband Tom and I got married in the rooftop garden at the Fairmont Hotel on the most beautiful fall day in San Francisco. The reception was on the top floor of the hotel in with the most amazing view of the San Francisco skyline. It was truly fantastic. We ate incredible food, laughed until we cried, and danced the night away with our family and friends. It was the most special and memorable day of my life.

Now, I get to figure out what a dream wedding looks like for my clients, and make that happen for them, which is the best job I could ever imagine.

Jacqueline + Jake | Engagement Shoot

I was fortunate enough to style Jacqueline and Jake’s engagement shoot at the beautiful Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek, California. The styling of their shoot was inspired for their mutual love for Mexican food and their southwest origins. Take a look!

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They’re truly a beautiful couple! It was such a pleasure to work with them.

Photographer – Olivia Smartt, www.oliviasmartt.com
Planning + Design
- A Charming Affair, www.acharmingaffair.com
Venue – Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CA USA, http://www.ruthbancroftgarden.org
Florist
- A Charming Affair, www.acharmingaffair.com
Makeup and Hair – Imagi by Fiona, http://www.imagibyfiona.com
Catering – Maria Maria, http://www.mariamariarestaurants.com/mm/

Toasted Event 2015 | Booth Photos

Hi! So, Toasted was a blast, wasn’t it?! I was totally blown away by the turnout to the event. When I looked out the door at about 11:55, a few minutes before the doors opened, and saw a line literally wrapping around the block, my jaw dropped!

I had such fun meeting so many couples, AND getting the opportunity to meet some follow vendors whose work I’ve been ogling via instagram for what feels like ages. I am super excited for the 2016 event already! Hope all the attendees and vendors had as much fun as I did. Here are a few snaps of my lil’ booth at event!

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Styling, Florals and Signage by A Charming Affair
Photos: Olivia Smartt
Table Linens: La Tavola
Vintage Mantle: Botanica Events
Laser Cut Logo: SF Laser

Toasted Event 2015 | Styled Engagement Shoot Giveaway!

Thanks so much for stopping by our booth at Toasted SF and entering our giveaway! Hope you met tons of awesome vendors, found lots of inspiration for your big day, and of course had fun! Here are more details on ACA’s giveaway!

ACA has partnered with Olivia Smartt Photography to give away a 2-hour styled engagement shoot to one lucky couple! Planning and styling will be provided by Erin Goodrich of A Charming Affair and photography will be provided by Olivia Smartt of Olivia Smartt Photography!  The styled engagement shoot includes:

  • Location scouting by ACA,
  • Schedule coordination of couple and photographer to set date and time for shoot,
  • Brainstorming and collaboration with couple on style and themes,
  • 2- hours of assistance in selecting outfits and accessories from existing wardrobe or shopping for new wardrobe pieces, as desired by couple,
  • Coordination of props, rentals, and details (up to $150 in props or rentals provided by ACA, as appropriate),
  • One flower arrangement for the shoot provided by ACA,
  • On-site coordination on the day of the shoot including setup and breakdown, provided by ACA,
  • 2-hours of shooting by Olivia Smartt,
  • 40 – 80 edited images available for digital download approximately two weeks following shoot.

A winner will be drawn at random on Monday, January 26 and will be notified by email at the email address provided! Official rules below! Good luck!!

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  1. No purchase necessary.
  2. Eligibility. Attendees at the 2015 Toasted Wedding Event in San Francisco are eligible to enter.
  3. Entry Period. Entry period is open during the hours of the 2015 Toasted Wedding Event San Francisco. The entry period opens on Sunday January 25, 2015 at 12 o’clock pm and closes  on Sunday January 25, 2015 at 4 o’clock pm.
  4. Sponsor. This giveaway is sponsored by A Charming Affair, 232 Sierra Drive, Walnut Creek, California.
  5. Prize. The prize consists of one two-hour styled engagement shoot. No cash or other substitution may be made, except by the Sponsor, who reserves the right to substitute a prize with another prize of equal or greater value if the prize is not available for any reason as determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion. The winners are responsible for any taxes and fees associated with receipt or use of a prize.
  6. Entry. To enter the Giveaway, entrant must complete entry card, place in envelope and drop completed card into jar in ACA’s booth at the 2015 Toasted Wedding Event during the Entry Period described above.
  7. Drawing. On Monday, January 26, sponsor will select one (1) entry in a random drawing of all eligible entries received during each Entry Period. The odds of being selected as winner depend on the number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period.  Winner will be contacted via email at the email address provided on the entry card and will be asked to confirm their willingness to participate within a 48 hour time period. If the potential winner does not respond within the time frame stated in the notification email, the Sponsor will select an alternate winner in his/her place at random from all entries received during the Entry Period.
  8. Giveaway Results. The first names of the winning couple will be announced on ACA’s Facebook page upon confirmation by winner.
  9. Agreement to Official Rules: Participation in the Giveaway constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding.
  10. General Conditions: (a) Shoot must be completed by May 1, 2015, (b) shoot location must be within 25 miles of San Francisco, California (c) ACA and Oliva Smartt may use any and all photographs or other media for promotional and marketing purposes including but not limited to website, blog, social media pages, printed materials, and other mediums, (d) by accepting, winner permits Olivia Smartt and ACA to submit images to industry blog(s), (e) winner will need to provide clothing for the shoot. (ACA will not provide), (e) any props, accessories, or details in excess of $150 will be incurred by couple at their discretion.
  11. Release and Limitations of Liability: By participating in the Giveaway, entrants agree to release and hold harmless A Charming Affair and Oliva Smartt Photography from and against any claim or cause of action arising out of participation in the Giveaway or receipt or use of any prize, including, but not limited to injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Giveaway or receipt of any prize. Entrant waives the right to claim any damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to, punitive, consequential, direct, or indirect damages.