May 14,2009

The Rush Hour “Zoo”

Almost two weeks ago I was lucky to take part in the cultural traditions of a set of my clients that literally stopped traffic. You may have seen on the news or read in DCist. You may have even been one of the onlookers lining Connecticut Ave. and DeSale Street at Rush hour. Neil and Shilpi, a lovey couple I have been working with since the fall, began to wrap up their week of celebrations with the ceremony uniting them in marriage at the Mayflower Hotel on Friday May 1st.

The celebration began with the grooms family and friends parading down the street at 5pm on Friday afternoon, singing and dancing while the groom follows on elephant, or horseback when an elephant is not available. We of course, had both. (Hence the actual “zoo” at rush hour) For us, this celebration lasted about an hour, as we were lucky the rain decided to hold off a bit. At the end of the parade, the groom is received by the bride’s mother and is then escorted into the mandap, the four poled canopy the ceremony takes place under. For this event, Neil was received and welcomed by Shilpi’s mother and then he and the guests went into a cocktail hour before the ceremony. A dinner and celebration followed the ceremony at the Mayflower Hotel on Friday evening.
The festivities didn’t stop there as the couple who had been together since they were 14 danced the night away on Saturday at their main reception held at the National Building Museum. Guests enjoyed 2 hours worth of cocktails American style to mix and mingle with friends and family. They then proceeded into an authentic Indian dinner buffet and dancing for the rest of the evening. The setting was stunning and just what the bride and groom wanted. The black, white and red lounge the couple had in mind for the cocktail turned dessert space was a nod o the bride’s love of everything Hollywood and glamorous. The red carried into the more traditional dinner and dance setting mixing with tones of purple and white.

Special thanks to all the wonderful vendors I worked with to pull this enormous event together. The families were thrilled with the end results and the bride and groom were over the moon!

Venue: National Building Museum, Chris Frame
Caterers: Occasions Caterers, Joel Wolke
Ascot Caterers, Ajay
Photography: C.B. Art Corner, Purvak
Fotobriceno, JC
Lighting: Digital Lightning, Alysha and Vince DiGiorgio
Decor: Syzygy Events, Julie Shanklin
Entertainment- Extra Hot DJs, Bobby


May 11,2009

Spring Wedding at Woodend

If you can think back to April 19th, just a few weeks ago, the day was absolutely wonderful! I opened up my 2009 Spring season with Dena & David at Woodend Audubon Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, MD. The ceremony took place in the grove and we were so fortunate as the rain held off until the cocktail hour started indoors – it couldn’t have been more perfect timing!

Ralph Alswang did a fabulous job with the photographs and has put together a slide show of the day (link below). Occasions Catering was marvelous to work with and New Monopoly from Bialek’s Music hit the ground running with the Hora right off the bat! Petal’s Edge Florist did a lovely job with the Chuppah and was even able to match the tree blossoms to the wedding colors – magical! John Farr Lighting was also on-site to enhance the dinner location.

Check out the slide show here!!

It was a wonderful wedding all the way through and I couldn’t have had a better team of vendors to pull it all off.

PS. Dena & David were also in the NY Times Engagement Section – how exciting!

Until next time!


Amy Lorraine


Nikki Beach Resort in Turks and Caicos

We’ve been lucky enough to do some gorgeous destination weddings over the years, and we especially love destination weddings on the water. Caribbean water, if possible! So we just had to pass along the news about the Nikki Beach Resort in Turks and Caicos (and a great deal, as well).

Recently rated #2 on the Travel Channel’s 21 Hottest Caribbean Escapes, Nikki Beach Resort is part of the Worldwide Nikki Beach Luxury brand famous for it’s European style entertainment and beach clubs. The first of many resorts to come, Nikki Beach Resort in Turks & Caicos is a 423-acre gated property including a private beach, infinity pool, serenity area, beach club, and restaurant.

An exclusive and intimate resort experience offering 48 luxury suites with sleek, modern residential décor, all boast an ocean view address. World class amenities include VIP Limo airport transfers, a Personal Assistant for each guest (now you’re talking!), a pre-ordered “home-style” wet-bar including gourmet meats, cheeses and snacks (how cool is that?), Signature Nikki Bedding, and a Pillow Menu (so luxurious that even the pillow gets a menu) for ultimate comfort. A first class restaurant, Café Nikki embodies Old World Global cuisine with a Caribbean twist. Plus it boasts the world’s first-ever ecologically friendly mega-yacht marina. You know how we love that!

This resort seems practically built with weddings in mind and offers several ideal locations for wedding events. Whether you choose the a private beach, the wedding gazebo located down a long bamboo walkway right over the ocean or the 5th floor, 1,500 sq.ft. open air terrace with a magnificent 3 sided view, your event will be spectacular.

Right now they are running an exclusive special of Pay for 3 nights, and Get 1 free with the promotional code ADDNIKKI. (Offer expires October 31, 2009.) So even if you aren’t planning a destination wedding, you can take advantage of a good bargain and have a few days away from it all.

Doesn’t this place look amazing? I can feel the tension melting away just looking at the stunning photos. I think maybe we need to take a company trip down to Nikki Beach Turks and Caicos so we can be ready when a bride wants to host her wedding here! All in the name of work, of course. Shall we pack our bags, ladies?

May 09,2009

Punk Rock Bride!

I love supporting new businesses. Especially local ones run by two women as fun as Meredith and Stephanie of Punk Rock Bride. Punk Rock Bride is a boutique wedding dress business that features dresses for a bride who might want something less traditional and fussy than your average dress, while still maintaining a high level of design and detail.
My assistant, Maeve, and I had such a fun time on Friday hanging out with Meredith and Stephanie in their Georgetown showroom and checking out the fabulous dresses from the two Punk Rock Bride wedding dress collections. What I really love about the dresses that designer Stephanie has debuted is that none of them are overwhelming or over-the-top. No giant cream puffs here, ladies! But they all have really unique details and elements like pleating or a drop shoulder or an inset flounce. I love the two-peice gowns they offer, as well. How cool is it to wear a tank top to your wedding?
Maeve loved a vintage-style dresses with gorgeous lace and a dropped waist while I was a smitten kitten when I saw the simple silk gown with piles of ruffles falling from the side. The fabrics on all of the dresses are really stunning, from a cotton silk blend to a textured silk. If you’re in the market for something a bit different or you’re having a destination wedding on the water somewhere, you should check out Punk Rock Bride. Some of their flowing, drapey gowns are perfect for a beach wedding!
Another favorite aspect of the design house is that the dresses are all custom-made within about 100 miles of D.C. and the fabrics come from the U.S. so they are more eco-friendly than most dresses that are manufactured overseas (no huge carbon imprint from shipping fabric and dresses all over the world). We all know that local is better, right? Punk Rock Bride is a great option for all of my brides doing “100 mile weddings” where we source nothing from more than 100 miles away.
So for all you cutting-edge “unbrides” out there (or even brides who just hate the idea of the dress walking them down the aisle), check out the amazing creations from Punk Rock Bride. Happy dress shopping!

May 07,2009

Strike a Pose: The Truth Behind Engagement Photo Sessions

It’s one of the first questions I get when leaving a meeting with a photographer and a new client. “So, what’s this engagement photo session and can we take it out of the package to save money?” Truth is, many photographers I work with used to charge an additional fee for this session, but now it is included in packages by almost everyone. So, what’s the point and why is there very little value is taking it out?

The schpeal I usually give my clients, and it all true, is that an engagement session is not just important for the photographer, as it allows them to see how the two of you interact together and what angles you photograph well from, but it is really good experience for you and your fiance to get in front of the camera and feel comfortable with your shooter. It’s a pretty strange thing to have someone taking your picture all over the place and your wedding day is not the time to experience it for the first time.

Case in point. I realize I have not given you much information about my own wedding since the very beginning. This is due to many reasons only one of which is the fact that my spring has been so busy, my own planning has been on the back burner. My brides always come first. I do however realize now, and am finally ready to embrace the fact that, as one of my favorite early 2008 brides would say “I’m the Bride” and I am so excited about it. (And I’m ready to start talking!) So, back to photography. My fiance and I did an engagement portrait session with our fabulous photographer Justine Ungaro a few weeks ago. We went back to the University of Maryland where we met !*#?! years ago for our session. I know Justine well and feel incredibly comfortable with her, but this was WEIRD! Forget the fact that there were students and tours running around campus. Even when it was just the three of us in some back of the football stadium lot where Justine found a cool wall she just had to photograph us in front of, it was the strangest thing to be in front of a camera, posing and believing it would all come out good in the end. And of course, it did!! Small secret, the best pictures come from the reactions that happen between the actual poses.

So, while it may seem unnecessary and a waste of time to do, the engagement session is an important “trial run”, just like you would do for hair and make up, to get you in front of the camera before the wedding day. Not to mention you can do really fun things with the photos like create a great guest sign in book so you can keep the images in a great way. That’s what I am going to do!


May 06,2009

Destination Wedding in Naples, Florida

Today we have a guest blog from our very own Grace, who got married just over a month ago. She wrote this right before her wedding (as if she didn’t have enough to do). She did an amazing job of planning her destination wedding (no surprise, as she is an amazing planner). She has promised to share pictures with us as soon as she gets them. We can’t wait!

From 3 months to 3 days away, I can’t believe it! The last few months have just flown by! Well, I guess the last time we spoke, my fiancee and I were on our way to Florida for the last time to finalize wedding plans. It was only a three-day trip and it was packed with plenty of appointments and meetings. Meeting with the floral designers, Sheryl, Michelle and Olga at The Pink Tangerine was the best part, I have to say. I felt like I was on an episode of Platinum Weddings (which by the way, I can’t get enough of), when I walked in to see our table all decorated in linens and votives showing off our gorgeous centerpiece arrangement. It was more beautiful than I could have imagined. All due to the many ideas and pictures I have collected during our planning.

Having a wedding “idea book” or Wedding Bible as it has been referred to, has been extremely helpful to me when conveying to the vendors the look we wanted to create, and the feeling and ambiance we wanted for our special day. So basically the month after we were engaged, I started tearing pictures out of magazines, copying articles out of books and printing color combinations off websites to tape into my wedding book. This book was carried with me at all times during the meetings with my vendors and when they asked, “So when you mean votives hanging off branches in your centerpiece, what do you mean?” I just ripped open my book, went to page 29 and ah, there was what I had envisioned. Floral designers, caterers, cake artists and even the DJs responded so well to my book, because as we all know a picture can speak a thousand words. It helped show them what I was looking for, explain my tastes and they loved when I told them exactly what I wanted. Thank goodness for my Wedding Bible.

So back to the centerpieces…they looked great and things were finally starting to all come together. When we got back from Florida, it was time to finish our hand-made invitations. We hand-made our Save the Dates, with a video montage set to music, so why wouldn’t we do all the invitations from scratch, right? Now if I could go back and do it all over again, I still would want to make them ourselves, but I would have started a lot earlier! The time it takes to design, print, emboss, lick, seal and tie ribbons on each invitation was so much work! If I had to guess, I would say that each invitation took about 2 hours to create! But the time spent creating them with my fiancee was well worth it; we sure had a great time together.

After finishing those, it was on to hand-making our menu cards, table seating and programs. (The girls at Paper Source in Alexandria all know me by name!) So we were working up until the final countdown, but luckily we were able to tie the last bow on the program to get them out in the mail on their way to my parents in Florida the week before the wedding. And you better believe that I put insurance and express mail all over that package! Ha!

The last couple of weeks before the wedding are when all the details start coming together and when all the nervousness kicks in to gear. A good nervousness though, just hoping that all will go well. As my fiancee said, “You have your dress, I have my tux. What else do we need?” If only these boys knew! My fiancee did a wonderful job selecting his groomsman’s gifts, however. After much internet searching, he was able to find some handmade coin cufflinks. Our friend, WowCoin designed each one individually and even sent me a pendant gift for our wedding. So if you love different cufflinks; especially coins from foreign countries, check out WowCoin on eBay!

So, today is my last day at work before we leave on the plane for our wedding. I am taking a huge sigh of relief, praying for good weather and hoping that everyone gets down to Florida safely. Once I get to the Sunshine State, it’s all smooth sailing. Wow, my wedding…the day I have thought of, imagined and envisioned for so long and it’s all happening THIS weekend. What an amazing journey this past year has been for me as a fiancé and as a wedding planner. The bad, crazy dreams of me walking down the aisle in a tux have faded and I’m excited and ready for my next adventure in life…being married. Oh and of course, I’m looking forward to getting back to wedding planning…not mine of course, but hopefully one of yours!


May 05,2009

Green Wedding Details

As you probably know, we love doing green events. Finding ways to make our weddings have less of an impact on the environment is at the top of our list. But with all of this rain (and everything looking so green), my mind also turns to a different kind of green wedding.

Spring is the perfect time of year to use the color green in weddings. From celedon to lime to kelly, green is fresh and fun (and looks great in combination with almost any color). As a florist friend once told me, “green is the new black.” We love the idea of wearing colored shoes under a white wedding dress and what could be more fun than the pair above (photo courtesy of the Knot)?

I love these green floral pomanders decorating the aisle above (courtesy of the Knot) and the fabulous paper ones (from Etsy’s Pom Love). Wouldn’t these giant paper poms be fabulous suspended throughout a tent or just over the dance floor?

And, of course, what could be more clean and lovely than an all-green bouquet like the one featured at the top from Martha Stewart? I love the soft tone-on-tone look with various shades of barely green to lush celedon. The look is more unique than an all-white bouquet but not as dramatic as brightly colored or all-red bouquets. Love it!



Wedding on The Eastern Shore

The last weekend in April was a steamy one. Much better than this 50 degree rainy weather we are having the first week of May here in DC. But I digress. On April 25th I had the pleasure of being out on the Eastern Shore, back at a little place called the Oaks where I tend to be once or twice a year. Andrea and Rick had a lovely evening for their intimate wedding celebration and the party lasted all night long.

Wanting to take their guests out of the busy hustle and bustle of the every day DC life, the couple settled on the quaint inn on the water after realizing they had attended a wedding there years ago.

As always, a fabulous cast of characters worked with me to create an evening the couple would not soon forget. Candi Erin and Paul at the Oaks are always wonderful, the food is fantastic and the view is picturesque. Juan Carlos and JC from Fotobriceno were there to capture every minute. Pattie Martin and Susie Rucksthul, my dream hair and make up team, made up Andrea so she could relax and enjoy her day. The yummy cake was provided by Gena at Bay Country Bakery and Prelude kept the DC crowd dancing all night long.



A Perfect Southern Wedding

Last weekend I was blessed with gorgeous weather, a stunning wedding and a fabulous couple! This has been the year of amazing clients for me, and Susan and David were two of my all-time favorites. Susan is so easy-going and sweet and David is high-energy and one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. They are the perfect example of a couple who balances each other beautifully.

They started the fun on Friday night with a rehearsal dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Crystal City, which is known for great food and fabulous views of the city. The bride surprised the groom with a cake in the shape of the Washington Monument (created by Fluffy Thoughts), a tribute to the fact that his company restored the Washington Monument a few years ago.
Both hailing from the South (the bride from North Carolina and the groom from Lousiana), this fun couple eschewed the DC wedding paradigm of a seated dinner and instead chose to have a traditional Southern-style reception with lots of food stations, great music and plenty of mingling. I love this style of reception; it can be so much fun!

Before the party, though, the bride got ready at the Willard in one of their amazing suites with her four sisters. The bride looked absolutely gorgeous in her gown (and was so calm)! The groom and his men, looking so swanky in white dinner jackets, had a toast at The Willard before heading off to the church in a executive coach bus from Capital City Limo. The couple had a beautiful ceremony at Ascension and St. Agnes Episcopal Church in D.C. Since both the bride and groom had been musicians for years, the music they chose for the ceremony was amazing and included The Strolling Strings, a choir and a trumpeter.
Between the ceremony and reception, the couple took their classic car from Regal Limousine to the monuments for some photos with Robert Isacson and videographer Jenny Lehman. As you can see, they had the perfect day for this! All the photos are courtesy of the amazingly talented (and fun to work with) Robert Isacson.
When they joined their guests in the Crystal Room at The Willard Hotel, the Jack Diamond Band was in full swing and guests were dining on seafood from an ice bar, crawfish etouffe, the groom’s favorite pizza flown up from Lousiana, mini North Carolina barbeque sandwiches and a towering display of tiny cupcakes (courtesy of Kendall’s Cakes) and sweets. Steele Stevenson from the Willard was amazing, as always, and made my job so much easier.
The stunning flowers by Alison de Wit of Distinctive Floral Designs featured cherry blossom branches lining Peacock Alley and tulips and hydrangea in a soft Spring palette. John Farr Lighting created an amazing ambiance in the room with his soft uplighting. The groom’s sister, Becky (who used to do events for the Governor of Louisiana), had envisioned the tower in the center of the room topped with flowers and bedecked with sweets of all kinds, and it was the hit of the night!
At the end of the evening, no one wanted to leave so they extended an hour and even then guests still lingered! It was an amazing party for a truly fabulous couple (and one I’ll miss working with).

April 23,2009

Fit For Royalty

Last Friday was an absolutely perfect day to jump start my spring season. My New York City couple went chic and had 125 guests attend their Friday evening celebration. David and Bershan were a pleasure to work with from day 1, which happened to be just over 4 months ago. The couple envisioned a wedding with a little DC and a little WOW NYC.

While the bride grew up on the outskirts of Washington, the groom was British down to his accent so the couple wanted to make sure their international guests were treated to the best of what the city had to offer. They chose the rooftop of the Hay Adams for their ceremony and cocktail reception, showing off the hotel’s famous view. Overlooking the White House, guests were surrounded by Cherry Blossoms, another DC signature, that helped frame the aisle.

Regal seemed to be the word of the evening as the stunning couple moved around the corner to their reception at the US Chamber of Commerce. The detail of the old building is grand and spectacular and most of all, it’s a place their guests would only expect to see on CNN.

The couple shared two first dances, one when they were introduced and the other after dinner when the bride changed into her party dress. The two were exquisite all evening long and were thrilled at the outcome of their vision. Here’s to you, Bershan and David!