March 18,2009
Wednesday

News Update!

We just received word that SOMETHING in DC is actually running ahead of schedule! As we mentioned just a few weeks ago, the new W hotel was slated to open some time in August and was taking events for September 2009. Ladies and gentlemen, we are excited to announce that we will be having drinks on the rooftop terrace 1 month earlier in July!! See you there.

March 14,2009
Saturday

2008 Gala Revisited

While Laura came out the big winner last year, I was honored to be nominated in the Capital Awards Gala’s Best Wedding Event category with her. The wedding I entered, suitably named “A Walk by the Water” took place at the Oaks in Easton, Maryland. The quaint bed and breakfast played host to just under 200 guests as the bride and groom decided to bring their friends and family out of the hustle and bustle of their daily DC lives to a relaxing retreat on the water.
Laurie and Mike were a great couple with a lot of energy. So, energy became the theme of the evening. The morning started with a light rain, but be noon the sun was shining and excitement was in the air. While the groom played football in the front yard and the bride and her party got prepped in the bridal cottage, my crews were just beginning the end of a set up which began on Thursday evening. The bride had envisioned getting married in a tent by the water, but the Inn’s new ballroom took the space previously used for this away. So, we draped the ballroom and hung twinkle lights to create the feel of a soft canopy.
The ceremony took place over the footbridge and out on a bluff close to the waters edge. The simple design of the chuppa with sporadic Gerber Daisies let the stunning water backdrop shine.
After the ceremony, guests walked back towards the Inn and enjoyed cocktails on and around the dock. Everything from a raw bar to mini Reuben sandwiches were served to a bubbly crowd. As a foreshadow of things to come, the guests found their escort cards tied to Tab energy drinks. The detail had double meaning; the bright pink can gave a hint to the interior decor and the beverage told guests the event was going to be high energy.
The guests danced the night away to Highway Star and at the end of the evening the bride and groom made their way to the bridal cottage under hundreds of glowing sparklers.
Here’s a run down of this couple’s dream wedding team.

Venue/catering The Oaks
Photography LaCour
Videography Jenny Lehman
Transportation Dockside Express
Sara

March 11,2009
Wednesday

Capital Awards Flashback: A Red Hot Wedding!

As we lead up to the ISES Capital Awards, we’re taking a little trip down memory lane to look back at past Engaging Affairs entries and winners. Today I’m remembering my entry for last year: the fabulous Lewis-Heinz wedding! The wedding of Sasha Lewis and Chris Heinz (renamed “A Red Hot Wedding” for the purpose of the Capital Awards) won the Capital Award for Best Wedding last year and was one of two international finalists for the Esprit Award for Wedding of the Year Budget Over $200,000. As you can probably guess, it was a freakin‘ amazing wedding!
I started working with Sasha and her mother early on and I just have to say that they were an absolute delight from beginning to end. Actually, everyone involved in the wedding was wonderful. The groom was charming and his staff was so easy to work with (and as we got closer there was plenty of coordinating between everyone’s staffs).

We settled on the Mellon Auditorium pretty quickly, which was the perfect venue for a wedding for over 400 guests. The church was already set: St. John’s across from the White House. The bride’s family attended the church for years so it was a natural choice (and you can’t beat the location). The bride’s family had also worked with Occasions Caterers before and knew they wanted them to cater the wedding. Both Eric Michael and Joel Wolke from Occasions were so fabulous from beginning to end.

Other vendors fell into place easily. Celebrity wedding photographer Denis Reggie from Atlanta knew the Heinz family so was the clear choice for photography. Jenny Lehman was selected as the videographer for her cinematic and artistic style. The groom loved a band from California called “Tainted Love,” but the bride’s family also loved New York bandleader Bob Hardwick so we ended up having both bands, building a second stage and having two dance floors!
The floral designer from New York, Bronson Van Wyck, was a college friend of the groom and his sister, Mimi, and the whole team from Van Wyck and Van Wyck were amazing. They drove trucks down from New York days ahead of time and worked out of rented warehouses to pull it all together. The look was lots of red, funky banquette seating instead of all traditional tables and chairs; mirrored cubes and mirrored panels; and dramatic palms to create a supper club feel. It was sultry and sexy; not bridaly white!
It was an unbelievably gorgeous and unbelievably complex event (and also unbelievably cold on February 10th) with vendors flying in from all over the country to bring it together. In the end, I had five assistants to help me handle the nearly 450 guests (not to mention the incredibly complex seating arrangements). We didn’t get the final table assignments until 9pm the night before the wedding so I was up until 3 am stuffing hundreds of escort cards, and Sara was putting the personalized menu cards in table groupings from 9 am until 3 pm the next day! I was on-site for four days (a day and a half for set-up, a day for the event and a day for break-down) and happened to be three months pregnant so by the end of the wedding, I was beyond exhausted. But it was all worth it as you can see from the pictures.
The event had so much drama and so much WOW factor that it is almost hard to remember all of the amazing things. My highlights were probably the moment after the bride and groom cut their ski mountain cake and the second band was revealed in a dramatic curtain drop behind the cake cutting; when the groom’s stepfather, Senator John Kerry, jumping up on stage to play with the band; and when the frontman from the band Blink 182 sang a song for the bride a groom. All in all it was an amazing event for amazing clients!

What I loved most about the bride and groom was their sense of humor. They had a ski mountain cake instead of a traditional cake (both are world-class skiers) and even did their first dance (more of a jig then a romantic slow dance) to “Sleigh Bells.” They were just plain fun and really had a great time at their wedding.

Here is the Dream Team from the award-winning bash:

Ceremony Site:St. John’s Episcopal Church

Reception Site:The Mellon Auditorium

Event Designer and Florist:Van Wyck & Van Wyck

Photographer:Denis Reggie

Videographer:Jenny Lehman

Staging and Sound:All Stage and Sound

Band Backlines:Drums Unlimited

Fabric Draping and Kabuki Drop:A Vista Design

Piano Rental:Jordan Kitts

Dinner Band:Bob Hardwick Sound

Dancing Band:Tainted Love

Cake:Patty Cakes

Lighting:Atmosphere

Tenting:Sugarplum

Valet, Shuttles and Limos:Atlantic Valet

Bridesmaids’ Hair and Makeup:Andre Chreky

Plant Rental:Plants Alive

Babysitters:Wee Sit

Museum Tour:National Gallery of Art

Welcome Cocktail Party Flowers:Helen Olivia

Welcome Party:Four Seasons Hotel

It was such a thrill to be part of such an amazing team! I was so impressed by how well the huge number of vendors worked together. Everyone was flexible and easy-going, even when they were exhausted. Each and every person involved deserves an award for pulling off an amazing event and making it look seamless.

I hope you all enjoyed my little trip down Capital Awards Memory Lane. We have more to come!

Laura

March 06,2009
Friday

The Archives

A few weeks ago I mentioned the DC ISES (International Special Events Society) Gala Awards. Well, they are fast approaching on Sunday, March 28th. Engaging Affairs has always maintained a strong presence in the organization. All three of us have held positions on the Board of Directors and have stayed active at monthly meeting and at the Gala. Having been the third year I entered a wedding to be nominated for an award, I started to think back about my first entry and I thought I’d share what was that process.

In March of 2006 I met a fantastic couple who were in a race for time. The groom was in the Service and was scheduled to leave the DC area for training in July. The bride was in her final months of grad school here and didn’t have time to think about moving, much less plan a wedding. They needed help and they needed it two months ago. They gave me the month of June and I got to work. (Yes June- 2 months from our first meeting date!)

Not many couples could have pulled this off. Emotionally it was a roller coaster, for all of us. But the one thing I took away from it is that your first instinct is usually the right one, so don’t try to second guess it. This bride didn’t have time to and it turned out to be perfect.

So now to the wedding, and entry, details. The wedding took place June 3rd at the Ronald Reagan Building Atrium space. I saved the best stop for last as I knew the clean, modern space was perfect for the couple. They fell in love. Check one! On to photography and entertainment. As per usually, the fabulous Justine Ungaro wowed the couple with her modern edge to photography. They hired her on the spot. After viewing several entertainment demos, they chose Prime Time from Washington Talent Photo and Video and added a few extra horns to fill the massive space. Check! Check! The final piece for the bride to concern herself with was the florist. She wanted to combine the sophistication of DC, which the event space clearly gave her, with the tropical feel of Florida, where her parents were. I sent her to Rick David of Amaryllis who understood her vision instantly.

The rest was cake. I brought in fabulous lighting from Digital Lightning, built a stage off the grand staircase with All Stage and Sound, and draped behind the band with Syzygy Events. Oh ya, and of course the cake! The talented Leslie from Fancy Cakes by Leslie created a cake with great tropical colors and a spin on bamboo.


Looking back, I’m not sure how it all came together. Eight weeks blows by quickly. I’m not sure where the first 10 weeks of this year have gone! But the event was a success for the bride and groom who are happily living with their 2 beautiful baby boys in North Carolina and the massive effort brought me my first ISES Gala awards nomination.

PS- I am doing the bride’s brother’s wedding this June! Stay tuned for pictures and details. They gave me a little bit more notice for his event and it is going to be just as amazing.

Sara

March 04,2009
Wednesday

A Freakin’ Fabulous Bridal Show!

While most of the D.C. area was bracing for snow this weekend, we were spending an amazing Sunday afternoon at The Willard Hotel with Clinton Kelly (of television’s What Not to Wear fame) and some of the city’s best wedding professionals at the Engaged! at the Willard Bridal Show. If you missed it, you missed an amazing event!

Your favorite wedding planners (ahem, Engaging Affairs) had a display in the Crystal Room next to the lovely dresses from Rizik’s. The super-talented (and international award-winner) Janet Flowers provided us with an amazing floral and crystal chandelier that went perfectly with our company colors of pale green and white (with an accent of soft pink). We were torturously close to the yummy cake and cupcake displays from Couture Cupcakes and Patty Cakes but I’m proud to say that we restrained ourselves.

A real bride trying on a dress in the Rizik’s salon.

Flowers from Janet Flowers.

Couture cupcakes in adorable cupcake wrappers!

Amazing sugar flowers by Patty Colette of Patty Cakes.

The ballroom where lunch was served was nothing short of breathtaking. Plants Etc. created the amazing tablescapes which included table runners made out of real leaves! The Willard once again lived up to its amazing reputation with a fun menu that began with a seafood course of shrimp and oysters then continued with delicious brunch offerings like quail eggs benedict. A yummy bread pudding finished off the meal along with fresh fruit served from elaborately carved watermelons.

The highlight of the lunch was the talk by the delightful Clinton Kelly. After sharing his wisdom on style and bridal fashion, he answered questions from brides in the audience. Clinton was funny and charming and didn’t gasp in horror once when he heard some of the bridesmaid dress colors people had in mind.
After lunch, brides were free to try on dresses in the three bridal salons, get beauty services from Red Door Salon stylists and talk to vendors while drinking more champagne. We were able to meet Clinton and get a picture with him while he signed copies of his book Freakin’ Fabulous. Check us outwith the style guru! If you haven’t read the book, run out and get a copy. Clinton is freakin’ fabulous and so is the book.

A big thanks to the amazing Doreen Tisone, editor of Engaged! Magazine (pictured above with Clinton), and Steele Stevenson, Director of Catering for the Willard Hotel. Both ladies worked tirelessly to put together a truly beautiful event. Thanks to Janet Flowers for the stunning flowers for our display and thanks to Fotobriceno for the great photos of the event!

February 27,2009
Friday

The Corcoran is Back!

The past couple of years haven’t been so good for wedding venues. We lost The Corcoran, Evermay, The Red Cross and now Halcyon House is on the market. So I was thrilled when Allie Gallo from the events department at The Corcoran emailed me to let me know that they will be taking wedding receptions again!

The Corcoran was always one of my favorite spots and over the past thirteen plus years I’ve done dozens of gorgeous weddings there. I love the dramatic columns, the fabulous galleries and the great staff. Although the Corcoran has rules like all museums, they are always so easy to work with. And for wedding planners, that goes a long way!

Here are some photos of my last wedding at The Corcoran, courtesy of the fabulously talented Bradley Hanson from Seattle, which was also the last wedding the museum did before stopping weddings. This year I had the last wedding at The Red Cross so I’m glad to know The Corcoran is back on the wedding market. I was starting to feel like the grim reaper of DC wedding venues!

So a big welcome back to The Corcoran! I know I’ll be bringing brides there as soon as possible.

Laura

February 26,2009
Thursday

The Capitol of Chic

There’s a new staple coming to town and it promises to blow all our socks off. Earlier today, the ladies of Engaging Affairs got the hard hat tour of the new W Hotel coming to Pennsylvania Avenue. Check out the stylish headgear!

The fabulous Mariam Karim, director of catering, showed us the ins and outs of the historic bones that once was the Hotel Washington and will soon become the place to see and be seen in. The buildings solid structure and traditional detail will be combined with the modern, chic appeal of the W signature. Think “pinstripes and lace” as we discussed the DC power men and women will now have a place to feel sexy and glamorous. But let’s get down to the details. What does it have for us?

The building boasts 4 event spaces that can accommodate 90-480 guests banquet style. Three of the spaces achieve that ever so difficult to find- event space with windows to the outside. One of those three spaces just happens to be Altitude, the ballroom conveniently named for it’s location on the rooftop of the building. Space like this cannot be built anymore. If you are just looking to gather for happy hour, meet your friends at the rooftop bar, or go one step further and grab a table on the rooftop terrace and get a first class seat viewing the White House lawn. Trust me, you’ll never want to call it a night.

I could go on and on, but just a few more points. The establishment runs by their whatever/whenever philosophy attending to their guests every need. Their state of the art fitness center Sweat and the only Bliss spa in the area are sure to please. And of course, no W Hotel would be without a signature restaurant as world-acclaimed chef Jean-George Vongerichten will join the ranks of Washington’s best.

Of course, this is all a tease. The hotel it set to open in August and has already packed their fall full with events. We can’t wait to see the finished product and start planning events of our own within the fabulously traditional building with a colorful, modern twist. Stay tuned!!

Sara

February 19,2009
Thursday

Engaging Affairs in The Post!

Check it out, everyone! Your favorite sassy wedding planners are in today’s Style section of The Washington Post. We had so much fun doing the photo shoot at Hitched last week (as you can probably tell) and you can see our tips in the article for saving money on your wedding, going green and looking fabulously stylish. We had a great time chatting with Post reporter Holly Thomas and photographer Susan Biddle. And it’s always fun to look through the amazing gowns at Hitched and get inspiration. So run out, buy the paper, paper your walls with it. Oh, no, wait
. . . that’s what I’m going to do!

February 18,2009
Wednesday

Trunk Show at Hitched!

The fabulous ladies at Hitched Bridal Salon in Georgetown are hosting a trunk show of Anna Maier/Ulla-Maija gowns on Friday, February 27th and Saturday, February 28th. Our brides love these gowns and we think you will, too!
At the trunk show, you’ll have the opportunity to try on the latest collection and talk with the designers about any customizing the gowns. The designers will be offering custom measurements and muslin fittings during the trunk show, which is so cool. Getting a gown made-to-measure for your figure is an amazing luxury. This trunk show is sure to book up quickly, so be sure to make an appointment today.

Call 202-333-6162 or email appointments@hitchedsalon.com


Wednesday

The Greatest Show on Earth!


Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 1st from 11 am until 5 pm. The Willard Hotel and Engaged! Magazine will host the bridal event of the season! Featuring style guru Clinton Kelly, the event will also have stylists from Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salons doing consultations on-site and gowns from three top area bridal salons. Everyone fabulous will be there (including us) so be sure to get your tickets by registering online at www.engagedmagazine.com.