April 21,2009
Tuesday

A Cherry Blossom Wedding at The Mandarin

Last week brought my first wedding of the Spring season and what a way to kick things off! Mila and Chip’s wedding was such a fun, beautiful event that I feel like I am spoiled for the rest of the year. I had such a great time working on the wedding with the bride’s mother, Christine, and the bride. They both had great taste and a fabulous sense of fun. While the wedding was elegant, it was also full of whimsical touches.

Both the ceremony and reception were held at the amazing Mandarin Oriental Hotel with the flawless assistance by Director of Catering Michael Deltette. It is always such a joy to work with Michael! The bride was made even more stunning by the skills of makeup artist Carl Ray and hairstylist Ishmael, both from George’s Salon at The Four Seasons. After getting into her slinky gown and fabulous burgundy shoes, the bride took some time for portraits with the fabulous team from Ever After Visuals. This easygoing and charming group of photographers was a joy to work with!

The ceremony featured soaring arrangements of cherry blossoms hung with tiny votives by the talented John Duffy of Yellow Door Floral Design and white chiffon draping by Fabrications.

Chris Grasso provided lovely music for both ceremony and cocktail reception, while DJ Andres kicked things up later on for the party. The cherry blossom theme was carried through the reception in the centerpieces, menu cards and cake (a fabulous white chocolate confection by Kendall’s Cakes). We brought in rental chairs and linens from DC Rental to really make the room pop, all in shades of deep wine to pink. The Oriental ballroom really looked stunning!

Of course what I loved most about this wedding were the fun touches like the digital portrait station from Fotobriceno, the donut machine from Smoothie Time that turned out unbelievably delicious donuts, and the Easter candy station (it was the day before Easter, after all). It was so much fun watching the guests discover each surprise throughout the evening. I love creating the WOW factor over and over during an event and this party definitely had lots of those moments.

Aside from the fun details and fabulous design, the bride and groom were so wonderful and clearly head-over-heels in love. And on top of all of that, the families were delightful and the guests were lovely. What more could a wedding planner ask for?

April 16,2009
Thursday

Wedding Photo Station

I have always been a fan of the photo guest book that we used to do back in the days of Polaroids and the recent comeback of the photo booths at weddings. This past weekend at my fabulous wedding at The Mandarin Hotel, though, I did something that was kind of a combination of both and it was a HUGE hit!
Juan Carlos Briceno of Fotobriceno set up a digital portrait station for me where guests could take photos of themselves (alone, as couples or larger groups) by pressing a remote clicker (I’m sure there is a more technical name for it but that’s what it looks like to me!) and then he would print them on site and put them in the guest book for guests to sign around. People had so much fun goofing off for the camera and they loved seeing the images a few minutes later in the guest book and writing messages for the bride and groom.
A digital portrait station for a corporate event or holiday party is usually pretty expensive but Juan Carlos gave us a great price, and I have to say that it was one of the biggest hits of the night. The bride and groom ended up with a guestbook that was so much more fun than the usual version, and it turned out to be entertainment for the guests, as well. Check out some of my favorites! The one at the very bottom is actually me and my assistants Christine and Maeve. We had to make sure it was working properly, right?!

April 11,2009
Saturday

The Winner Is . . .

I know I said that we’d announce a winner on Friday but I got caught up in last-minute wedding prep for this weekend plus the rehearsal and a wayward shuttle bus (ah, the glamorous life of a wedding planner!). So here it is, one day late. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for a fabulous Julianne Smith garter, and a big thanks to Julianne for offering one of her amazing creations. The winner is ShaMaLa! Congratulations! Be sure to email me (lauraeai@aol.com) with your address so I can make sure to get the garter to you.

I’m off to the fabulous Mandarin Hotel for a wedding. Should be fun!
Laura

April 09,2009
Thursday

Cherry Blossom Wedding Details

It’s that time of year again. The weather turns warm, tulips bloom, the cherry blossoms emerge and anywhere in D.C. remotely near the Tidal Basin is gripped in traffic gridlock. You know it’s cherry blossom season when it takes half an hour to move three blocks in downtown Washington! But enough of my day and back to the joy of the cherry blossoms.

I really do love the cherry blossoms, and I love doing cherry blossom weddings even more. There are few things more stunning than soaring blooming cherry branches in a floral arrangment. For truly gorgeous blooms en masse, be sure to visit The Willard Hotel this week. Their Peacock Alley is full of cherry branches. You can even have afternoon tea in Peacock Alley among the blossoms!

If you’re considering incorporating cherry blossoms in your wedding or just love to look at them, here are some of our favorite looks. Although it is not an entirely cherry blossom themed wedding, my wedding this weekend is using cherry blossoms in half of the centerpieces and they are having a cherry blossom cake. The Mother of the Bride (whom I adore) found faux cherry branches and is putting one in each of the hotel guests’ welcome bags. Cute!

I love cherry blossom cakes. They appeal to my love of simple, yet intricate (if that makes sense). I love the simplicity of cherry blossoms yet they are so delicate and detailed. The white cake above was made by Lara Stuckey of Fluffy Thoughts Cakes. She also makes adorable cupcakes with cherry blossoms on them. The chocolate version with the loose blossoms make out of sugar comes from Martha Stewart.

We’ve used cherry blossoms and cherry blossom details at very formal weddings as well as outdoor garden parties. The photo at the top of the blog (taken by Juan Carlos Briceno of Fotobriceno) features escort cards with a cherry blossom design painted on them for an outdoor wedding. But they also look fabulous above at a very formal wedding we did at The Corcoran from a few years back(photo by Robert Isacson). For the crafty, you can make your own cherry blossom place card holders (picture below from Martha Stewart).

Whether you add one lovely cherry blossom detail or put the blossoms on everything from your invitations to your welcome bags to your programs to your favors, cherry blossoms are quinessentially spring (and very D.C.). Now if we could just do something about that traffic. Happy Spring!

Laura


Thursday

New Wedding Venue at DC Four Seasons Hotel

More big news in the hotel world (and good news for all those brides hunting for the perfect reception space). The fabulous Four Seasons in Georgetown has transformed its former restaurant, Seasons, into new social space for weddings of 100 or less, rehearsal dinners, or 300 person cocktail receptions. It is a total of 3800 sq feet with two private rooms attached.

Whether it’s fabulous rehearsal dinner with friends and family, an intimate wedding reception, or a dazzling engagement party, the Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC now offers the services and setting for an unforgettable experience. Formally the hotel restaurant overlooking the tree-lined, historic C&O Canal through miles of picturesque floor-to-ceiling windows, SEASONS, also known as a “Room with a View” is ready to host your next special event with expert professionalism and elegant panache. Since only January 15, 2009 the hotel has reserved this unique space for over 50 event this year.

This space is really beautiful and has lots of natural light (which we are big fans of) plus the legendary food and service of the Four Seasons. It’s a combination that can’t be beat! We are so excited to add this to our list of amazing site options in the city. As a matter of fact, I think I have a rehearsal dinner that would be a perfect fit!

Laura

April 08,2009
Wednesday

Wedding Transportation Options

As the spring wedding season gets underway, I am confronted with how to get my brides and grooms from hotel to ceremony to reception and back. When they are not situated to walk from venue to venue, most of them want to move in style. There are a few options for this.

The first option is your standard white or black limo. Most brides want white, just be warned that for some reason there are fewer white vehicles out there than black. So, be sure to reserve early! Staying within the limo family, you move into your suvs. While it may seem like a fun idea to roll up to your church rocking tunes in this serious car, it may be more suitable to transport your fine men in this stylish manor. Unfortunately, it can be quite a manuver to get into this vehicle for most women in their dresses. It’s a high up step in. As a last note on the more traditional limos, my absolute favorite is the rarely seen Jaguar Limo. It is sleek and classic looking. Very much an elegant statement, but only for certain tastes.

Next you have the limo bus, known in your younger days as the “party bus”. This is the ideal mode of transportation for large wedding parties trecking around town for pictures at the monuments. It holds the largest amount of people, besides the SUV limo and it much easier to get in and out of. The outside looks like your standard tinted window mini shuttle but the inside is all limo seating.A trendy way to travel if you are moving through Old Town or Georgetown is a trolley. It’s ideal in nice weather and has a fun, easy experience. Just keep in mind most don’t allow you to have open alcohol containers.
Finally, you have your classic or vintage cars. Our good friend Justine cruised the streets of DC in a stylish pink Cadillac. Recently I have been working a lot with John Bays at Regal Limousine . His inventory includes 2 Bentleys and 2 Rolls Royces of which I have a bride using the ’52 Gold Rolls Royce next weekend. They are great for pictures and once in a lifetime vehicles.

There are still many other ways of getting around town. If you are in to hurry, try a horse and carriage. You can even flag a yellow cab. Whatever your style, know the options are out there. Make this a fun experience and cruise the town in style.

Sara

April 07,2009
Tuesday

A Bridal Bubbly Garter Toss!

It’s time for another fun contest! This time one lucky reader will win a gorgeous, custom-made garter from Julianne Smith. Julianne started her custom garter business after she was tasked to find a fun garter for a friend’s wedding and couldn’t find anything that fit the bill. Being the creative sort, she made it herself and a business was born. I love all of the fun designs she comes up with from grosgrain ribbon to animal print. I have seen a lot of bad garters in my day but these garters are so chic and fun. I’ve included a few of her fun blue designs (don’t forget your something blue) but check out all of her fabulous designs on her website. If you want to win a fabulous Julianne Smith garter, leave a comment here and be sure to check back on Friday when we’ll announce the winner!

April 06,2009
Monday

The Willard Room for Weddings

Great news for the D.C. wedding industry: the Willard Hotel’s restaurant (the illustrious Willard Room) will now be available for private parties. Starting May 1st, you can host a wedding for 150, a dinner for 200 or a standing reception for 300. If you haven’t seen the gorgeous space, be sure to check it out. It features lots of stunning wood detailing, striking columns and old-world chandeliers as well as plenty of windows. So if you’re looking to host a wedding in a room that looks nothing like a hotel ballroom, but want the amazing service and food that the Willard Hotel is known for, look no further. We can’t wait to plan a wedding there!

Laura

April 04,2009
Saturday

Fluffy Thoughts

Today we had a real treat–a cake tasting! What a better way to end the week than with a total sugar rush, right? And this was an amazing cake tasting, let me tell you.

Sara and I met with baker and artists extraordinaire Lara Stuckey from Fluffy Thoughts Cakes and were so impressed by her amazing designs and delicious cake. She set up the tasting so that we could create our own flavor combinations by mixing cake, fillings and icings. It was so much fun! Instead of just being offered the usual combinations, we were able to try unusual flavor combos and create our own signature cake. You would never imagine that white chocolate cake, green tea butter cream and blackberry butter cream would be so fabulous!

Sara’s favorite was the red velvet cake with chocolate ganache, chocolate crunchies and cream cheese icing. Lara’s red velvet is a true red velvet cake, which means it actually is a chocolate buttermilk cake with red coloring. Don’t be fooled by someone putting red coloring in a plain cake and calling it red velvet!
I was torn between the white chocolate with passion fruit filling and coconut icing and any flavor with the lemon butter cream. I also loved the exotic rose water icing, and it reminded me of traveling in the Middle East. But, truly, all of the flavors were delicious, from the classic almond cake to the pineapple curd to the blackberry icing to the caramel filling.

Not only do Lara’s cakes taste wonderful, they are real works of art. She has worked and studied under several top cake designers but a lot of her technique is self-taught. Her cherry blossom design is amazing and she does the most adorable cherry blossom cupcakes, as well. Perfect for this time of year in D.C.! I also love her whimsical jellybean cake. Lara uses color beautifully and her cakes look absolutely opulent.

If you are looking for a gorgeous cake that tastes amazing, be sure to check out Fluffy Thoughts Cakes. I can tell that she is going to fast become one of our favorites!

Laura

April 02,2009
Thursday

The Luck of the Irish

So almost two weeks ago, I don’t know where the time is going, my spring wedding season began in a big way. The lovely Alison Caldwell and the charming Thomas Bliss, yes ladies, she is going to be Mrs. Bliss, helped me start off my season right down to every last detail.
It all began on a perfect March 21st Saturday. The weather was in the 60’s although the bride had predicted snow for the 14 months I was working with her. I arrived at her parents Georgetown home as she and her 11 bridesmaids were getting ready. The women wore a distinct shade of Kelly Green. Oh, did I forget to mention. The bride and family are Irish and the wedding was conveniently scheduled for the weekend after St. Patrick’s Day. More on that later. The bride wore a stunning lace dress from Hitched and the groomsmen complimented the bridesmaids in Kelley Green traditional bow ties and cumber buns.
The ceremony took place at Holy Trinity in Georgetown. As a surprise to the guests, a bagpiper appeared at the end of the ceremony to lead the wedding party and 200 guests the 5 blocks from there church to the reception site. The image of the group walking down the block literally brought a tear to my eye. It was a special thing to see and something I don’t do all the time.

The venue is one of my favorites, Halcyon House. The uniqueness off the three spaces, outside’s terraced lawns, the traditional upstairs and the rough, blank slate studio reception space, makes it interesting for the guests at each stage. Cocktails were served upstairs and out back as the bride and groom took some personal pictures.

Finally, the guests moved down the grand staircase to the reception space. The combination of green and pink wasn’t Lilly Pulitzer, but a more sophisticated take on what was to be a very Irish themed reception.



Petal’s Edge created the unique centerpieces even incorporating brussel sprouts into one of the containers. Occasions dazzled with a menu fit for kings. Dessert was provided by a family friend who made the most wonderful brownies and the groom’s family who conveniently have a creamery in PA. Bliss Brothers produced a limited edition supply of Bailey’s Irish Cream ice cream that was loved by all.

At the end of the extended reception, guests didn’t want to leave and managed to stick around as the clean up crews worked around them. That is the evidence of a great party.

Here is a list of other vendors who were involved;
Make up- Pattie Martin
Transportation- Linder and Associates http://www.linderassociates.com/
Lighting- John Farr Lighting http://www.johnfarrlighting.com/
Photography- Elaine Studley http://www.elainestudley.com/
Entertainment- DJ Jared http://www.bialeksmusic.com/
Bag Piper Norm Weaver http://www.va-mdbagpiper.com/
Flowers- Petal’s Edge http://www.petalsedge.com/
Sara