August 07,2009
Friday

Engaging Affairs in Engaged! Magazine

We were so thrilled to open the gorgeous new issue of Engaged! Magazine and see, not only one of our weddings featured in a stunning real wedding spread (“A Celebration of Love and Family” pages 124-133), but a whole page feature of one of our engaged couple’s casual portrait session.
Kavi and Maria’s three-day celebration last year was one of my favorites so it was great fun to relive it again through the lovely article and photos. I love the fact that the real weddings are several pages each so you get a great sense of the event from start to finish.
The adorable engagement portraits of Kendall and Nick reminded me that my Fall weddings are right around the corner (and then it will be 2010–aaagh)! Be sure to pick up a copy of Engaged! and check out the amazing real weddings and fun articles.
Laura

August 04,2009
Tuesday

An Asian (Bridal Shower) Affair

Over the past 2 months, I had the pleasure of assisting with the planning of an Asian-themed bridal shower for the very dear friend of Carine’s of Carine’s Bridal Atelier. Carine’s vision was to host an elegant, Asian inspired luncheon at the home of the Bride’s brother.
Beginning with the invitations, all of the elements for this event incorporated an Asian feel. The colors that we chose to use throughout the event were white, orange and natural wood with purple and yellow accent flowers. Since we would be designing the event in someone’s home, we worked with a handful of vendors to get the necessary items.


The dark, rustic, wood tables and benches were rented from none other than DC’s Capitol Décor. With the help of Nick of Multiflor Florist, we were able to create stunning bamboo centerpieces to decorate the tables, living room and buffet. Purple and orange orchids decorated each of the bamboo sticks which were in tall glass vases with 5 Asian lanterns hanging in between. The glass vases on the tables were placed in a “pond” structure that included black river stones, water and real goldfish to create a pond-like feel. Check out the live goldfish below!

Each guest was given a note pad and 2 glass viles to write their well wishes for the couple that could then send off to float in the pond. All of the food was set up, buffet-style, in the kitchen and decorated with votives and loose orchids to compliment the flower arrangements through-out the rooms.

Check out the fortune cookie “garnish” on the glasses! The napkins under the plates and the open paper fans add just the right punch of color to the tables.
What would a bridal shower be without a cake? Lara of Fluffy Thoughts designed a super unique cake specifically for the bride herself…a Manolo Blahnik shoebox with 2 fondant shoes to go with it. The favors that were given out were mini bamboo steamers wrapped in ribbon and stuffed with delicious Korean cookies. With 18 guests, the party was unique, intimate and memorable for all that attended.

Thank you to everyone that was involved in the planning and setup!

Congratulations to the bride and groom, Colleen and Mike!

Christine

August 03,2009
Monday

Wedding Inspiration from Rancho la Puerta

Anyone who has seen my blissed out state for the past week knows that I just returned from Rancho la Puerta. And anyone who has been to Rancho la Puerta knows what a beautiful and amazing place it is. Located in Baja, the resort sits at the base of Mount Kuchamaa and features traditional Mexican architecture and stunning gardens.
I was completely captivated by the rustic charm of the buildings and the natural beauty of the herbs and cactus which cover the grounds. Walkways are lined with rosemary and lavender bushes, making strolling around the property a heady experience. After spending a week in this little bit of Mexican paradise and getting truly rejuvenated, I thought I’d share some inspiration for a Rancho la Puerta style wedding.
The cactus reminds me of the arid mountainside we hiked up every morning. The natural paper of the invitations feels perfect for a rustic, outdoor wedding.

We dined outdoors each evening at long tables that surrounded a stone fountain.
I love long tables for weddings and love the look of this one looking out onto a courtyard. The ghoulish bride and groom are traditional Mexican figurines used during the Day of the Dead. There were plenty of these to be found at Rancho la Puerta.
I love the idea of using traditional Mexican papel picado banners as decor. Customized with your names and wedding date, they make perfect keepsakes. I think the use of the colorful flags on the invitation below is so much fun!

Summer in Baja calls out for short, fun dresses with more flounce than form. The dress below from Anthropologie would be a perfect choice for bridesmaids for a warm weather, outdoor affair. Love the color!

I was in heaven with the amazing cuisine at Rancho la Puerta. Since they have their own enormous organic garden, the meals were so healthy and delicious. Lots of fruit used in creative ways like an avocado sorbet served with mango and a lemon tiramisu with papaya. And, of course, bowls and bowls of papayas, mangoes, and melons. Exotic fruits are perfect to incorporate into a summer wedding, whether in a display or desserts. I am a huge fan of fruity desserts and find fruit in general so refreshing during the heat of July and August.


What more perfect way to send your guests off from your wedding fiesta than with boxes of Mexican wedding cookies? Although we didn’t get these at Rancho la Puerta (or anything covered in powdered sugar), I’m sure they would approve of them. Okay, maybe just one itty-bitty one.

I hope you enjoyed a little South of the Border inspiration. For true inspiration, I highly recommend Rancho la Puerta!

Laura

Blog shouts-outs from the top: landscape from Rancho la Puerta, landscape from Rancho la Puerta, cactus & long table from Jose Villa, , flags from Mexican Sugar Skull, Papel Picado invitation from {frolic}, dress from Anthropologie, fruit skewers and Mexican wedding cookies from Martha Stewart

July 30,2009
Thursday

A White House Wedding!


Before you get too excited, the wedding didn’t take place at The White House (how cool would that be?) but the bride is the President’s Director of Domestic Policy so it seemed like most of The West Wing turned out for the event. This is a continuation of the original blog I posted right after the wedding when it appeared in the Post and the NY Times. Now I have photos!

The wedding of Melody and Marland capped off an amazing Spring/Summer wedding season for me. I have had the most amazing clients and truly wonderful events all year long and this wedding was the cherry on top. First off, I adored the couple and had the best time working with them. They were both funny and fun and knew exactly the type of wedding they wanted (which makes my job so much easier). They were also fast decision-makers and had exquisite taste (two more big pluses in my book). Plus, they were very conscious about being as eco-friendly as possible and insisted on sourcing as much locally as possible.

Melody and Marland wanted a beautiful and joyfully reverent ceremony followed by an elegant yet fun reception, both with some surprises for guests and plenty of WOW factor. And that is exactly what they got!

June 13th was a gorgeous day and everything was going well: the set-up at The Mellon was buzzing right along, the bride was calmly having makeup done by Carl Ray and we were on schedule. We knew that the Gay Pride parade would be blocking off streets between the hotel and church so we had already rerouted every limo and shuttle to avoid hold-ups. With the help of the amazing Park Hyatt staff and security and my fabulous assistants Alison and Grace, everyone was loaded smoothly into cars and made it to the church early and before any roads were closed.
The ladies at Peoples Congregation United Church of Christ helped ensure that the ceremony went off without a hitch. The church looked stunning with flowers coordinating with the stained glass windows and the ceremony music was gorgeous. At the end of the ceremony, we surprised the guests with the St. Martin’s Catholic Church gospel choir singing “Rejoice” from the balcony as the bride and groom kissed. Guests were clapping and singing along with the choir’s amazing energy. I’ve never seen people come out of a ceremony smiling so wide! Another special detail about the gospel choir: they use all proceeds for community outreach in the city.

After the ceremony, the couple took the wedding party and did some shots at the monuments with Greg Gibson while guests enjoyed cocktails at The Mellon.


As you probably know if you’ve been following the blog, I love The Mellon! Each wedding I have done there has been so different. What I loved about this wedding was the simplicity of the decor. The bride and groom love a clean modern look so Jeff with Capital Decor and Events created three different tablescapes that incorporated orchids, river rocks, bamboo and water. We used a mix of steel gray linens on rounds and long rustic wooden tables with rock runners. Then John Farr Lighting made everything look sultry and amazing with just the right lighting.


For a fun detail, some tables had a single orchid tucked into the napkins, some had a smooth black rock on top and some had crisscrossed bamboo across the plate. The natural elements mixed with the modern created a fabulous look! We even clustered couches and mirrored cube tables around the dance floor to create a sleek lounge environment.



Carolyn Bushmeyer designed the wedding cake with scrollwork taken from the bride and groom’s custom invitations. The couple chose carrot cake for the inside (yum!) with one layer of plain vanilla for those less carrot-inclined. The unflappable Joel with Occasions Caterers worked with us to create an amazing menu (the bride and groom are true foodies) and one that was completely locally sourced. Nothing came from more than 100 miles away! The couple wanted the dinner to be memorable; we even served the entree in black bento boxes. After dinner, waiters passed mini ice cream cones and tiny cherry cobblers. I am a huge cobbler fan (as is the bride) so this was right up my alley!

After dinner and some lovely toasts and dances, local celebrity hip-hop DJ Chuck “Dirty Hands” took over and kept the dance floor hopping.


When guests needed a break from the hip-hop scene, they could retreat upstairs to the balcony lounge we set up with funky furniture and lighting (and some low-key jazz). The weather was perfect and what view could be better than looking out at the monuments?

This was truly a magnificent event and one I was honored to be a part of. Thanks to Melody and Marland for letting me be a part of their gorgeous wedding day.
A huge thanks to the amazing Engaging Affairs team who helped me throughout the day and night: Christine, Ashley, Maeve, Grace, Erica and Alison. Big shout-outs to the fabulous vendors who make my job fun: John Farr Lighting, All Stage and Sound, UniPark Valet, makeup artist Leah McKay (who took care of all the bridesmaids), American Sedan who provided all the transportation and successfully navigated around a parade, Sugarplum Tents for the catering tent at The Mellon, and The Park Hyatt and Amal Zaari for taking great care of the guests and hosting a flawless rehearsal dinner and brunch.
And lots of hugs and kisses to phenomenal photographer Greg Gibson, who graciously maneuvered around lots of newspaper paparazzi to get the most amazing shots so he could share them with us. Thank you!
Laura

July 27,2009
Monday

A Fairfax Hotel Affair


My spring started off with a bang back in April and it would only be fitting if it ended that way. It was an amazing season that led up to an evening of absolute fun. Lauren and Nessim were planning their wedding from Boston and I began working with them about 14 months before the big day. I packed their trips to town with venue visits and vendor meetings and the cast of characters they used for their dream team was nothing short of the best. The always wonderful Scott Button from the Fairfax Hotel had the venue end taken care of. Along with their in house av team from SWANK, the ceremony and reception sparkled with two totally different looks in the same space.



Philippa Tarrant of Philippa Tarrant Floral Designs created a spin on the brides inspiration images from the pages of Grace Ormonde. The ceremony tone was soft and romantic with pink lighting around the room and on the white taffeta draped chuppah with lots of twinkling candle light. The swags of the chuppah legs were pulled back with ties of white cymbidium orchids that had deep pink centers to match the bride’s bouquet.


After the ceremony, guests then made their way up the stairs to the balcony for a taste of the groom’s family flavor. A little Latin music and a mojito in hand, and the party could get started. Downstairs, crews worked hard to turn and transform the ballroom space. The mood for the evening was going to be big energy and the guests were treated that from the first pull of the curtain.



Once the reception space, shaded in Carribean Blue lighting and deepened by Indigo Blue linens from Party Rental Ltd. was ready, the curtains of the balcony above were pulled away to reveal to the guests the party was about to begin. Guests raced to the edge of the balcony when they heard the band strike up and while gazing down were met by the eyes of the wait staff below lined up on the dance floor ready to serve. Candles continued to twinkle on the guest tables all through the evening and DJ Carlos from Bialek’s Music and Spectrum from Washington Talent had guests on the dancfloor all evening.


The personal touches ran all through the evening. The bride surprised her groom with a wedding gift. We commissioned a painter to attend the wedding and paint the event in progress for the couple to keep as artwork on the wall of their new home. The wedding cake was made of beautiful white sugar flowers in the shape of the same cymbidium orchids Lauren carried down the aisle. Dessert consisted of more than just wedding cake as the couple had a coffee station and fresh donut machine on site. You could gain 10 lbs. just by the smell! Finally, a sweet dreams treat was provided for guests on their way out. The bride’s sister made, boxed and stickered chocolate cupcakes with blue frosting to send home with the evening’s guests.

Thank you to the fantastic photography provided by Jenni Green of Studio Diana.


I’m upset to see these clients and the season go, but sitting here I realize, it has been a month already and I have three weeks to get in shape for me big August. It has been a wonderful spring with some of my favorite events ever. I can’t wait to see what the fall will bring!

Sara

July 17,2009
Friday

Eastern Shore extravaganza!


The unfashionable June rain has now long since past. For many, it is a distant memory. For a handful of my brides, it was a looming curse that could have ruined their perfect day. But, it didn’t. I don’t profess to control the weather, but after my almost brush with a storm back in May, you may remember I chronicled Nicole and Nick’s outdoor nuptials at the Mandarin Oriental, I thought my luck must have been up. I was wrong!


On Friday, June 19th I headed out to Easton, Maryland for the wedding of Laura and Ben. The event was taking place on Ben’s family property that boasted a natural grove and aisle lined by trees and shrubs for the ceremony, expansive property for guests to roam during cocktails and a perfect nook for a tent to be set in the space between the water and the pool. This particular week it rained EVERY day EXCEPT Friday, it was absolutely perfect, and Saturday wasn’t looking positive. Although the tents had been erected before the rain, the wind was so bad that there was huge concern about the puddles that had formed under the reception tent. Luckily, Friday was nice enough to dry them out. I arrived at the home for the rehearsal on Friday and everyone was talking about getting everything going that day. Only minor details kept us from changing the date. We got through the rehearsal with positive spirits and I told them all would be fine. When you have a rain plan, it usually is.

Fast forward to next next morning when I woke up and it was dreary and dreadful outside. And then, it started raining. With an outdoor wedding, the focus them becomes, “I don’t care if it’s raining now, it will stop. But what will the ground conditions be like for the guests?” I wouldn’t know until I got to the property. By the time I got over these, black dress complete with black galoshes, the rain was misting away. The property was,not terrible, it would be important for my assistants to direct guests to walk in a certain direction when they arrives to avoid the large puddles. The flip flops the bride was providing guests with anyway were a big help.


I decided to call the ceremony for outside. Once all the chairs were in place and we had an hour to go, we got our last shower, lasting about 5 minutes. The rest, is history. The skies opened up, the sun came out and everything was beautiful. The horrible humidity we could have had coming off the water was nowhere to be found. The breeze was cool and refreshing and the party lasted to the wee hours of the morning.


I would be holding out on you if I didn’t mention the fabulous details that made this wedding special or the amazing vendors who helped make it all possible. The event was made comfortable and casual not only by the setting but by the personal touches the bride and groom incorporated. Guests found their way to their seats by checking the giant chalk board outside the tent for their assignments. Towards one end of the tent, provided by Sugarplum Tent Company, a clothes line held pictures of the bride and groom and their families, old and new. Guests were seated at long tables that allowed for the fun family style cuisine, catered by Beth Hughes, to be passed down the line. The tables were set in crisp natural colors with linens and settings from DC Rentals. Phyllis and her crew from The Enchanted Florist completed the look with wildflowers and greens running down the center of the table in eclectic mason jars and funky little containers.


Earlier in the evening John Knudon and his string group entertained guests during the ceremony and cocktails and Gonzo’s Nose took it home all night long. After a heartfelt speech, the bride presented the groom with a custom cake from Fancy Cakes by Leslie of the green Hulk Fists and a handful of comics. Before the sun went down, the couple, followed by their guests made their way over to the peacock pinata the two had crafted and broke it open for their everyone to enjoy. The night was made complete with festive sparklers and a bonfire by the water for guests to make s’mores. Thank you to Mary Gardella of Love Life Images for capturing all the fun.


This wedding was full of personality and fun. Thank you Ben and Laura for making it exactly what you wanted!

Sara

July 15,2009
Wednesday

Free Veil from Carine’s Bridal Atelier!

If you’re still in the market for a fabulous gown, be sure to check out the Mid-Summer Sample Sale at Carine’s Bridal Atelier on Thursday, July 23rd at 6pm-9pm. Plus, if you purchase your gown at the sale, you’ll get a FREE VEIL! Pretty cool, huh?

Save up to 70% on over 100 sample bridal gowns by top designers including Angel Sanchez, Junko Yoshioka, Melissa Sweet, Platinum Collection, Reem Acra, Rosa Clara, and others. Sample sale gowns include Spring and Fall 2009 collections!!
Please RSVP to info@carinesbridal.com
Carine’s Bridal Atelier is located at 1726 Wisconsin Ave NW 2nd Floor(Between R and S Streets in Georgetown).

Happy dress hunting!

July 14,2009
Tuesday

Engaging Affairs Summer Camp


This year, the ladies of Engaging Affairs decided to do a series of Bridal Bootcamps to further our skills and enable us to help you in any situation. The first session took place last night at Petal’s Edge floral shop in Alexandria. Our fabulous friend Rebecca showed us the ins and outs of floral 911 as we learned about the tools of the trade (or, what floral equipment to keep in our emergency kits) and how to make last minute bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages. If you’re in downtown DC, any corner flower seller will do. If you’re on the outskirts or elsewhere, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or the nearest food market will work too.



Personally, I know how hard floral design is. I tried my hand at it back in college and I didn’t do so well. There really is an art to everything from bouquet to arrangement making. The hand cramping is the worst and if you plan on doing flowers, I hope you don’t care about the appearance of your fingers. Weekly manicures won’t help your cause!


In the end, I think we all did pretty well. We still have to perfect our skills, but we were all able to complete a bouquet, boutonniere and a corsage that met a professional’s approval. We had a lot of fun doing it and personally, I have even more respect for all the talented floral designers out there. Hats off to you!

Sara

July 09,2009
Thursday

Kara DioGuardi’s wedding!

Our good friend Justine Ungaro is becoming quite the celebrity wedding photographer! First she shot Lisa Loeb’s wedding and last weekend she photographed American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi’s wedding to teacher-turned-general contractor Mike McCuddy.

The wedding took place in Prospect Harbor, Maine with the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter wearing a Vera Wang gown for the small ceremony in front of about 30 guests. Check out this amazing photo courtesy of Justine Ungaro (but you may have seen it in InTouch Weekly first). What a gorgeous view and amazing sky!
Sara and I had the good fortune to meet Kara when she sang at Justine’s wedding last October (before she hit the Idol scene). She was so cool in person and an amazing singer.
Congrats to Justine for being fabulous and to Kara for getting married!

Laura

July 07,2009
Tuesday

Grace’s Destination Wedding in Naples!

Married now for three months, I am getting used to the title of “wife” and having a husband. I think the hardest part after getting married was calling my fiancée, Adam, my husband! But now I have gotten used to both titles and we are enjoying being newlyweds.
The wedding in Naples, Florida was beautiful! Everything went as planned and even the weather held up for us, with clear skies and no rain, thank goodness. Although it rained a bit at the rehearsal dinner and I religiously clung to the weather channel all the days and hours leading up to the wedding, the weather worked in our favor and we were able to have our ceremony outside. The ceremony time was scheduled for 6:00 pm, however, the ladies schedule of events began a lot sooner…
Falling asleep the night before around 2:00 am, I awoke around 7:00 am with much anticipation. However, I was unusually calm, restful and put together. My mom and sister were excited to see me and began to sing the old song from The Muppet Movie – “Somebody’s Getting Married Todayyyyyy.” We danced around the kitchen a bit with smiles as I began to think, “Wow, this is it, today is the day I am getting married.” We soon got dressed, and drove to the hotel to pick up the other ladies in our bridal party before we headed over to the salon.
When I arrived at the hotel, my soon-to-be husband was sending me messages that he was at the hotel and not to come inside. Adam being very superstitious, he warned me of the bad luck of seeing each other before the wedding. So with carefulness, we pulled up to the hotel and the girls quickly jumped into the car to greet me. It was so exciting to see everyone with their flowing gowns in hand and accessories to match. We gave our hugs, kisses and good mornings and headed off to the salon. While my mom and dad were setting up our beautiful candy table for the reception, my aunt was arriving at the salon with breakfast. Although I was forced to eat on many occasions throughout the morning, I only managed to nibble at a half of a glazed doughnut. My adrenaline and excitement was pumping enough energy in me…no need for food!
My mom shortly arrived and after a few hours of completing each girls’ last spritz of hair spray and ensuring each bobby pin was in its place, we left the salon in Naples ready to go back home for a bit of relaxation before heading over to the club. Once arriving back home, we made our last minute makeup touches, phone calls to the vendors and ate lunch before leaving…three hours until “I DO.”
Arriving to the club, I was ushered into the dressing room as the ladies began assisting each other with their dresses and I began stepping into mine. As my last shoe was placed on my foot I felt like Cinderella getting ready for the ball. The photographer, Michelle Reed arrived and we had some alone time for a while as she took my bridal shots. I felt like a movie star at a famous photo shoot as I was asked, “Look this way, oh yes, beautiful, perfect shot.” What a wonderful, beautiful day. Thirty minutes until I see my new husband.
More photos were taken and I received intel that Adam was ready to go and the last boutonniere had been pinned. The ladies grabbed their bouquets, I did a last minute makeup check and we were on our way to the ceremony. This is it.
Walking down the aisle with my dad, the feeling of love overwhelmed me. I was so happy to be with my family, looking ahead at all the friends that had come from as far away as Australia. But the most love was felt as I looked up at my groom awaiting for his bride. I am getting married!

The ceremony, conducted by my uncle was wonderfully romantic and heartfelt. The violin music provided by Vivian Aiello and Joan Stewart with Seaside Strings http://www.seasidestrings.net/ added to the feeling of the evening, along with the vows which Adam and I had written ourselves. We cried, laughed, smiled and finally enjoyed our f irst kiss as husband and wife. After the ceremony, we were whisked away for our romance shots with Michelle. We wished we could have spent hours with her recreating those special moments, but as everyone knows, it was time for the reception to begin and finally time to dance!

The reception room was absolutely gorgeous! More than we could have dreamed! Created by the team at Pink Tangerine consisting of Sheryl, Michelle and Olga, our magical, romantic dream was realized. The entire room was up-lit with amber up-lighting and an abundance of votive candles. Not only were candles placed all over the room and on the tables but they were hanging from each centerpiece off curly willow branches and dripping from the 12-foot trees strategically placed around the room. As my uncle looked at Adam and said, “This is what I imagine heaven to look like,” I couldn’t help but tear up.

The rust-colored linens added to the warm feel of our six guest tables, the candy station table created by my mom and our “walk down memory lane” picture table. My mom used our color-combination of yellows and tangerine to gather candy from all over the country for our candy table. The guests loved this special treat, which also added as a colorful decoration to our reception room.

In addition to candy, we enjoyed a five-tier wedding cake, which can only be described as AMAZING. Karen with Kakes by Karen http://www.kakesbykaren.net/ in Naples did a beautiful job recreating a picture found online along with adding details of flowers which I had created in my mind. It was more beautiful than we could have imagined, not to mention it tasted unbelievable!

Our first song began as we waltzed into the dining room and our elegant, romantic evening with our closest friends and loving family began. Today as I write I can still feel all the emotions of the day and long for more time to take in all that we were experiencing. As everyone says, our wedding day just flew by, but we wouldn’t have changed anything. What a perfect day on April 4th…the first day of our new lives together and my first day as Adam’s wife.

Thank you again to all the people that made our day so special! Especially to the talents of Michelle Reed and her team. I have posted a few of her pictures from our beautiful wedding day! You can visit more of Michelle’s work at her website.


Grace