July 06,2009
Monday

Out of State Nuptuals


Well, there are a few more weddings I need to post about to close up my spring season. And what a season it was, lucky you! I start with my June 13th wedding of Krista Kilbourne to Rory Dowdell. What an adorable couple. And don’t even get me started on their dogs! I love dog people. Anyway, this wedding held a special place in my heart because I have worked with this family before. This was the first of 4 weddings I am working on for a former bride’s sibling. It’s an honor in general to be asked back and a treat to get to plan something completely different than the first time. And this wedding was exactly that.


I worked with the groom’s sister on her June 2006 wedding at the Ronald Reagan Building. That was an 8 week planning process and everything was modern, colorful and pretty intense. I had a little bit more time to work with Rory and Krista, who started off their planning about a year and a half before the wedding. The couple live in Florida and the bride is from Pennsylvania, right over the DE/PA line. Given the bride’s intense medical school schedule, there was only a small window of time to have the event and what seemed like a while to plan it.


The venue was the historic Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, DE. The bride had her heart set on this beautiful, traditional hotel with gold detailed ballroom. Carl Alan of Carl Alan Creations in Philadelphia, created a romantic feel with flowers in brown and shades of pink with a very traditional look. The table settings and chairs added more dramatic look to the gold that adorned the ballroom walls and ceiling.


Laura Novak, of Laura Novak Photography, was the perfect fit with the couple to capture Krista and Rory’s big day. She had traveled to Maine with them last summer to capture some engagement pictures the couple them used for their save the dates. Guests were served a fabulous 4 course meal with cake to follow as they danced into the night by the sounds of the Source. Jenny Lehman was also on hand to catch every exciting and emotional minute on video. Thank you as well to our ceremony and cocktail musicians from Elan Artists and our lighting crew from Digital Lightning.

Sara

June 30,2009
Tuesday

Cupcake Heaven


For a while, it seemed cupcakes became the trend in weddings. For my couples who have chosen to serve cupcakes over cake in the past year, it was not so much a trend, but just the desire to not be so predictable and to add more of a comfort food feel to such a personal day. One couple even topped off their cupcake tower with a giant cupcake they could cut into, as opposed to a small cake.


It seems the DC bakery market saw the trend and thus cupcakeries have popped up all over DC from Georgetown to Dupont to Chinatown. I happened to have a fabulous couple last year who did do the cupcake thing at their wedding, and their search for the best cupcake didn’t stop there. Being the dessert lover I am, I decided to join in the search with them. Earlier this month we sat down with three cupcake bakeries products, four cupcakes from each, and not quite empty enough stomachs. Here’s what we discovered:


Participants: Georgetown Cupcake, Baked and Wired, Red Velvet Cupcakery

Selection:
Georgetown Cupcake- Red Velvet, Coconut, Chocolate with Vanilla Icing, Chocolate3
Baked and Wired- Birthday Cake, Strawberry, Carrot, Banana
Red Velvet- Strawberry, Carrot, Cookies and Cream, Wake up Call

Focus Group- consisted of 2 very hungry men and 2 very eager women

Findings:

  • Baked and Wired clearly had the largest cupcakes, wrapped in wax paper instead of regular cupcake cups. A great value for your sweet tooth.
  • The old classics just didn’t live up to our expectations. Did someone forget about chocolate and vanilla? They didn’t stand out at all!
  • Coconut cupcake reminded us too much of suntan lotion. We’d rather wear it than eat it!
  • Baked and Wired’s strawberry cupcake had great cake with real pieces of strawberry in it. The icing however was lacking in flavor.
  • Red Velvet’s strawberry cupcake cake was just ok, but the icing was great!
  • This is a group who likes stuff in their cake. The carrot cupcake from baked and wired was great. Full of carrots, nuts and raisins. The icing however wasn’t the real cream cheese icing a carrot cake needs.
  • The carrot cupcake from Red Velvet was a bit of a let down, but the cream cheese icing was spot on!
  • The red velvet cupcake from Georgetown Cupcake gets an honorable mention. Did you know real red velvet is not just vanilla cake with red food coloring?
  • Cookies and cream and wake up call were just ok. It also could have been that we weer just too full to taste the goodness.

Conclusions:

We made two major decisions. 1) if the cake from Baked and Wired got together with the frosting from Red Velvet Cupcakery, they would have the perfect cupcake. 2) The banana cupcake from Baked and Wired was hands down the best cupcake we tried.

So, there you have it. There are many more bakeries who offer these decadent treats. Perhaps a taste test II will be necessary. I would love to hear some of your favorites so we can get a second group going. Here’s to a yummy summer!!

Sara

June 29,2009
Monday

Old World Wedding at The Anderson House


There is something so special about a small, intimate wedding. Don’t get me wrong. I love the big, grand affairs and do quite a few of them but I seem to identify more and more with the understated affairs. If I was planning my own wedding again, I wouldn’t even dream of having six bridesmaids (or was it seven?) and worrying about their dresses for months. I would do what Ceci did at her May 30th wedding and have just one.

Ceci and Eric chose one maid of honor and one best man and kept their guest list under 100 people. This made for such an intimate, lovely wedding. Every single person at the wedding meant something to the couple, and the bride and groom were able to spend time with each of them.


The bride got ready at The Park Hyatt with the fabulous Ishmael from George’s at The Four Seasons doing her hair and the super-talented and incredibly sweet Kim Giammarria of Beauty Mark doing makeup.


Ceci’s gorgeous dress was from Carolina Herrera in New York. The detailing on the gown was breathtaking but the silhouette was so simple and completely in keeping with the Old World style that the bride wanted to evoke throughout the wedding.


My associate, Grace, helping Ceci with her veil once I had dashed off to Christ Church in Georgetown to get ready for the ceremony.
Because the Anderson House is so ornate, the bride wanted to follow the style and have an Old World feel to the floral decor. Christopher from Amaryllis created the gorgeous, lush arrangements that used shades of creams, whites and pinks. We used silver candleabra and heavily gilded china and crystal to create an almost Romanov feel to the formal dinner. For a fresh look in the garden, we used pink toile and julep cups with soft pink peonies.

Heavy, gold-edged menu cards from Mrs. John L. Strong in New York were engaved with the couple’s monogram.

In the Winter Garden, we used long rectangular tables and a collection of arrangements running down the tables to make the space unique since it was slightly separated from the party (it opens into the ballroom via French doors) . In the ballroom, we used rounds and one large oval table for the head table.


To change the mood for dessert and dancing, we used a lucite table lit from within and very modern green and white flowers. The lighting that created the beautiful, warm atmosphere in the ballroom (and uplit the dessert table) was done by Lightolutions.

The groom toasts the bride as guests look on. I love it when grooms make remarks at weddings and especially when they say as lovely things as Eric did about his bride.


The couple enjoying the dinner. Design Cuisine created an amazing dinner featuring an amuse bouche of gazpacho, a fish course, lamb, a salad and cheese course and a sumptuous dessert buffet. Guests were raving about the food.

The couple dances to the Burnett Thompson band. Burnett and his fabulous musicians kept the guests entertained with classic big band and Sinatra.


My favorite thing: a happy bride and groom! Thanks to Greg Gibson for the stunning pictures. It is always fun to work with Greg and his team.

A big shout-out to Linda from Linder and Associates for the seamless transportation the entire weekend. We had lots of out-of-town guests and Linda and her team made sure everyone was taken care of.
My favorite moment of the day: The father-of-the-bride introducing the couple as they walked down the long staircase into the ballroom. It was so personal and sweet!
My favorite detail: The fun, modern dessert table!
As always, I had so much fun working on this wedding.
Laura

June 26,2009
Friday

So You’re EnGAYged!

I first heard of the fab new website So You’re EnGAYged on my good friend Justine Ungaro’s Unbride blog. Since we are doing more commitment ceremonies, I had to check it out.

What a fun site! I love the real weddings section. Some of the weddings have such great details. I had to crack up at the wedding that had guests throw mini marshmallows at the brides instead of rice! I like the fact that they have real couples blogging about their wedding planning experiences, as well. You can also find gay-friendly vendors by area of the country.

I had the good fortune to meet the site’s creator, Kelly, at the blogging seminar a couple of weeks ago. Not only is she a lot of fun but she is a talented photographer. Check out her work at Film Noir Photography. And be sure to check out So You’re EnGAYged!

Laura

June 25,2009
Thursday

Tips on Surviving a Wedding Dress Sample Sale!

So here it is. Insider tips from a former bridal shop employee and a recent sample sale survivor on how to work a bridal gown sample sale and find your dream dress for a steal!

We were inspired by the tales from our summer intern, Ashley, about her experience at the recent sample sale at Hitched and thought we would share her insights as well as real insider tips from one of our assistants, Alison, who also used to work at a bridal salon. Oh, Ashley did find a gorgeous dress for about half off and had fun doing it so sample sales can be worth the effort.

It must be said that the sample sale at Hitched is a civilized and orderly affair (they even had a DJ to make it more fun!) but some sample sales are wild, free-for-alls. Know your temperament and tolerance before you go.

1) Get there early. There will probably be a line out the door before the store opens.

2) Wear underwear. Nice underwear. You will most likely be changing in communal dressing rooms or in an open room with everyone. This is not the time for modesty nor is it the time to go commando.
3) Make friends/be nice to the sales staff. If a girl gives up a dress that you’ve been eying, they can potentially bring it to you, or point you to dresses similar to the one you like.
4) Be nice to other brides. Pushing and shoving really doesn’t do you any good. If you make friends with other girls, you can exchange dresses that you don’t like and help each other out. Being a bridezilla is so five minutes ago.
5) Follow the rules.
6) Remember that a dress is a whole lot easier to take in than let out. That said, dresses with lots of embellishment or complicated construction will be harder to tailor. Think about how much work will need to be done to the dress to make it fit properly.
7) If this is an all-day affair, bring water. Eat before you go in case it is hot and crowded. Fainting is no good.
8) Look over every inch of the dress before you buy so you know what you’re paying for.
9) Make sure you have the proper payment method. Check before you go.
10) Bring someone (mom or a bridesmaid) to help and keep you company. This may be a good time to bring your most agile bridesmaids.

Hope this helps. Good luck and good (dress) hunting!

Laura

June 24,2009
Wednesday

An Afternoon at the Hay Adams

Monday afternoon I had the pleasure of being a guest at an intimate chef’s tasting table at the Hay Adams Hotel. I arrived to find the always lovely Alison Okobi waiting in the lobby to take me down to the kitchen, perhaps one of the only places I have not ventured in this hotel. The group was small as we shared a drink and some fantastic new summer hors d’oeuvres Chef was preparing.


After about 20 minutes, we were all invited up to the rooftop with that famous view of the White House, National Monument and Jefferson Memorial. And what a view it was on Monday. It was absolutely crystal clear, not a cloud in the sky, if you can believe that from the weather we have been having!

The exiting feature of the fabulous rooftop was the new summer lounge furniture. Just like sitting out in the best backyard in the country. Chef prepared a fantastic five course lunch right on the rooftop with us. Cantaloupe and Mint Soup, chilled of course, Seared Diver Scallops with Orange and Lemon Risotto and a Pear and Almond Tart were just a few things we dined on.


So, what’s in it for you? I learned the Hay Adams is doing some great summer events for all of those who believe in the staycation this year. To go along with the cumfy, casual new lounge furniture, the hotel is offering a package for guests who book a Sunday night stay. The option is to attend the Sunday bar-b-que on the rooftop for dinner and a view. This is such a treat since the roof is not normally open for hotel guests to wander up there. What a wonderful, relaxing getaway, to book an evening outside the home and not have have to worry about what to do for dinner!

If Sunday nights on the rooftop are anything like my lunch was Monday, I’ll be booking many a staycations with the Hay Adams this summer!

Sara

June 22,2009
Monday

Engaging Affairs’ Wedding in the News!

If you happened to see the Style section of today’s (Sunday) Washington Post and New York Times, you may have gotten a glimpse of my wedding from last weekend. Melody and Marland’s amazing wedding got big write-ups in both papers! They are a fabulous couple so it is great to see their wedding and love story get so much attention.
I will be doing a live online chat tomorrow at 11 am at Washingtonpost.com if anyone has any questions about the planning or just wants to say hi! I will also be posting a longer blog entry all about the wedding details and vendors when I get “official” wedding photos from our photographer, Greg Gibson, so stay tuned.

Above photo courtesy of Marvin Joseph and The Washington Post. Photo at the top of the post is courtesy of The New York Times and Michael Temchine. Thanks Marvin and Michael!
Laura

June 19,2009
Friday

Memorial Day Wedding at The Mellon


No, no. Don’t adjust your screens or wonder if you’ve accidentally landed on a biker bride blog. The gentleman in the less-than-formal attire next to the bride is NOT the groom. “Bones” was one of the many bikers on the Mall over the Memorial Day weekend when my amazingly fun couple, Sarah and Danny, got married at The Mellon Auditorium. Some brides would have been thrown by the thousands of bikers creating traffic gridlock near her wedding but Sarah took it all in stride and decided to have fun with it.

After getting ready at The Willard Hotel (Giselle worked her magic with hair and Leah McKay with makeup artistry), the bridal party hopped in a shuttle bus and zipped off to the National Mall to take some fun shots with the crowds. Sarah was even the (un)lucky recipient of a very wet kiss from Bones!

The ceremony had lighthearted moments, as well, despite the gorgeously formal setting, dramatic lighting and beautiful chocolate brown taffeta from A Vista that hung from floor to ceiling between the columnns. Capital Decor created the stunning floral chuppah in the bride’s palette of bright pinks, oranges and yellows while John Farr Lighting set the mood with uplighting. All Stage and Sound managed to tuck hidden microphones throughout the chuppah so we didn’t have any unsightly mics on stands–love the incognito technology. A brass quintet from Entertainment Exchange added the just the right element of pageantry and made for an amazing processional!

After cocktails in the Green Rooms, guests returned to find the main hall of the Mellon transformed with stunning, vibrant flowers and a collection of round, square, rectangular and hollow tables with huge palm trees coming out of the center. Susan Gage Caterers served a flawless dinner that ended with a decadant dessert buffet while Free Spirit kept guests on the dance floor (with the crowd even chanting “one more song” at the end of the night until the band obliged).

The one word that could define this wedding was FUN. The bride and groom were fun, the families were fun, the decor was fun. Even the little bags of warm donuts for guests to take away at the end of the evening were fun, fun, fun!

As I know you’re getting sick of hearing, I have amazing couples. Sarah and Danny truly enjoyed each other and laughed throughout the entire day. They were so easy-going throughout the planning process and their wedding day was no different. Sarah and Danny were truly a wedding planner’s dream!

Weddings at The Mellon are always a production because of the logistics involved with working at a government building, and I couldn’t have pulled off this amazing event without the hard work of everyone involved behind the scenes. Nicole from The Mellon was there every step of the way, making set-up go smoothly and even making the break down fun! Atlantic Valet provided the shuttles and sedans while Marc Parc Valet handled the parking seamlessly. I have to give a special shout-out to the team from John Farr Lighting who, at 4:30 a.m., ran out to the scene of a horrible car accident a block away and pulled a person from a burning car. Seriously. I’m not kidding when I say weddings are never dull!

My Official Wedding Day Favorites:

Favorite wedding moment: The bride getting cheered by the rowdiest, roughest bikers you can imagine!

Favorite behind-the-scenes moment: Carrying the bouquets from the Mellon to the Willard with my assistants Alison and Christine. The bouquets were all in vases full of water (read: heavy) and we were all wearing black in the middle of the day (read: really hot) and the faster we walked, the more the water sloshed on us. We ended up making three round trips (it would have been silly to keep driving two blocks and reparking), but only one with flowers. I’m lucky to have great assistants who can appreciate the humor in life.

Favorite detail: The bags of mini-donuts-to-go with pink and orange”Sweet Dreams” stickers on them. I ask you, what is better at midnight than hot donuts?
Special thanks to photographer Matt Mendelsohn for sharing his amazing images with us and to videographer Jenny Lehman who has some great footage of our “biker bride” on her blog! Until next time . . .

Laura

June 16,2009
Tuesday

It’s a Dress Extravaganza!


Wake up Ladies! Summer is upon us and it’s the perfect time to get your dream wedding gown. One of our favs, Hitched Bridal Salon, is having their sample sale. “Slip on and slip out with a Steal!” The event is Thursday, June 18th from 5-8pm and it is first come, first serve. So, no appointment necessary!


So many beautiful dresses, but they have to make way for the new season’s threads. Many fabulous gowns are 50% off. Here are some more details. Hitched Have a ball!!

June 15,2009
Monday

Wedding at The Inn at Perry Cabin

No “Wedding Crashers” at this wedding at the Inn at Perry Cabin.

Upon learning that I would be doing a wedding at the Inn at Perry Cabin on the Eastern Shore, all of the stories about the celebrities who have stayed there and the infamous “Wedding Crashers” movie that was partially filmed there began pouring in. While I have to admit, I was pretty excited about seeing the property, I was more concerned about the imminent threat of the rain since we were planning for an outside wedding and cocktail reception.

The wonderful wedding weekend began with a cozy dinner at the Inn at Perry Cabin for the bridal party and families and a crab feast for all other guests in attendance at the St. Michael’s Crab and Steak House. Shuttles were provided to ensure guests would have transportation from the Inn to the restaurant and back. A wonderful evening was had by all.
Wedding day morning was spent glued to the Weather Channel in order to make a decision about whether to hold the wedding ceremony and cocktail reception outside or not. The final decision was made to have Liz and Nick’s wedding outside overlooking the calm waters of the Miles River. The decision was a good one because the rain held off until the cocktail reception concluded and all guests were moved into the dinner/dancing tent for the evening’s festivities.
Check out the fabulous shades of pink and red throughout the wedding. Love the pink flowers against the bridesmaids’ fuchsia dresses. The fuchsia linens looked so fabulous on the back lawn–love that pop of color. Even the paper lanterns in the tent were pink! I also love the detail of the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” heart-shaped pillows hanging from the bride’s and groom’s chairs. So cute!

A fabulous shot of the famous waterfront inn and the sharp-looking groomsmen processing down the aisle!

Liz and Nick wanted their guests to have as much fun as possible so when the dinner and dancing concluded at 10pm, all guests were led into the inn for an after-party including mini burgers, fries and great music.

It would not have been possible to throw such a wonderful event without the fabulous team that I had surrounding me. Grace from Engaging Affairs was my right-hand woman throughout the wedding, and Joanna Mumford at the Inn at Perry Cabin was there to assist us with any questions or needs we had on-site regarding the property. The beautiful pink-on-pink flowers were created by Edge Floral Event Designers, a division of Plants Etc. The party was kept alive all night by the sounds of The Source from Elan Artists. All of the special moments were captured by Gary of Rodney Bailey and Associates. Thanks for the great images!

Christine