February 16,2009

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Happy President’s Day! This holiday Monday kicks off a special series in the Washington Post Style section on line and in print; Wedding Week 2009. That’s right ladies, it’s here. And if my brides are any indication, 2009 is flying by so it’s time to get going if you are planning nuptials this year.

The series begins on line today and covers the topics of ring shopping, planning your wedding for the perfect day of weather and finally movie proposals (to be followed up at the end of the week by readers true stories of proposals) A quick note on that. This past Saturday, yes, Valentine’s Day, I was with my man at a Maryland Terps basketball game, die hard terps fan that I am, and of course they played the “kiss me” song and showed couples kissing on the jumbo tron. Well, wouldn’t you know a couple kissed and the camera stayed put as the nervous sports fan got down on his knee and popped the question to his unsuspecting girlfriend. The crowd went wild and as one sports reported said, “the Terps held up their end of the deal and won the game”. All I know is if I were that women, I wouldn’t have been able to sit through the second half. Did someone upgrade these two kids to court side?? And just a quick note on planning your wedding with perfect weather in mind. Don’t sweat it! And do NOT check the almanac and tell me there has been prefect weather the past 4 years on this date so you are doing it. That is your ticket to ruin. Last year I had a beautiful August day erupt into stormy chaos minutes before a wedding and a cold rainy week in October bloom into an 81 degree November first afternoon. You can’t predict it so don’t try!!
I leave you with this- Don’t forget to check the Post’s wedding series on Thursday. Yours truly and the other ladies of Engaging Affairs met at a favorite bridal shop Hitched in Georgetown last Wednesday to play around and talk weddings with one of the reporters. Find out what we had to say about the economy, the environment and fun things to help set your wedding apart from the others. You can find on on line or in print. Enjoy!


February 14,2009

LA style and a DC wedding

Our dear friend and colleague (and amazing photographer), Justine Ungaro, married TV producer Gary Kordan this Fall. We were privileged to be a part of her wedding planning and to be included on their guest list. We go to a lot of weddings but rarely are we on the guest’s side of things so it was a fabulous treat to be able to dance and eat along with everyone else!

Justine and Gary had a perfect day and some of the most gorgeous light I’ve ever seen. Before the ceremony and reception at Halcyon House in Georgetown, they got ready at The Hotel Helix and did lots of photos at the hotel and around town. Check out the amazing vintage pink convertible they bopped around in! The supremely fabulous photographer, Greg Gibson, shot over 9,000 images of the day. With a couple this gorgeous and cool, can you blame him?

Let me say, first off, that Justine has got fabulous style. Her dress was stunning–very Hollywood glamour. We also loved her birdcage veil and bright red shoes. Even the groom was sporting hightops instead of dress shoes! Her flowers by Janie Medley Flora were sleek and fabulous. We love mini callas and the eggplant ones make such a great statement.

The ceremony was outside Halcyon House at the base of the steps leading up to the house. They were so smart not to worry too much about dressing up an already striking backdrop and simply placed hot pink lanterns up the staircase.
The sun was setting during the ceremony and the light was unbelievable. One of the things I loved most about the wedding how much it was personalized. The bridesmaids each wore a different black cocktail dress; the flower girls wore frilly, hot pink tulle skirts; and Justine and Gary’s dog, Oliver, was part of the processional. Bucking tradition, they had a DJ from Chris Laich Entertainment play ceremony music. The groom walked out to “Here Comes Your Man” by The Pixies and the bride walked to “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds. Justine and Gary’s good friend, Lisa Loeb, performed a solo and brought everyone to tears. And to prevent things from getting too mushy, at the end of the ceremony the couple recessed to “Back in Black by AC/DC!

The party was just as hip and fun as the ceremony. Syzygy Events and John Farr Lighting transformed the Halcyon House studio into a sultry nightclub with fuchsia uplighting and cool lounge furniture instead of lots of tables. Black chandeliers were suspended from the ceiling and even the bar was tufted with white fabric. The cake, created by Fancy Cakes by Leslie , was as cool as the setting with modern fuchsia and black designs.

Justine and Gary wanted to avoid the typical Washington wedding with a seated dinner and instead had Well Dunn Catering pass fabulous small plates and set up amazing stations featuring everything from sushi to crab cakes and corn pudding. Since I did get to eat, I can attest to the fact that the food was amazing! Another culinary delight was the donut station from Smoothie Time. The cart was set up on the outside patio and made mini-donuts fresh on-site. The idea was to put them in bags with a custom stickers with Justine and Gardy’s initials so guests could take them home. They made it to the bags but not many made it home. They were so delicious that we were all eating them on the dance floor!

The donuts weren’t the only cool touch. Justine and Gary had an old-fashioned photo booth from PhotoBooth Scrapbooks on site. We all had so much fun goofing off and then putting the photo strips in a guest book for them. I love this idea so much more than the traditional guest book. Who reads those other kind anyway?

As you might have guessed, Justine and Gary are tight with the LA music community so the music at their reception rocked. Local band (and one of my all-time favorites) Gonzo’s Nose played 80’s hits and kept the dance floor packed. They only took breaks to let some of the bride and groom’s friends perform. For most weddings that means a cousin plays an awkward guitar solo but for Justine and Gary it meant that songwriter and American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi took the stage to sing “Pieces of Me.” Pretty cool and pretty amazing singer, too.

Justine and Gary definitely had one of the hippest weddings that Washington has seen and that I’ve been involved with. It was such an honor to be included among the amazing team of wedding vendors they put together. Sara and I had so much fun helping out during the day but we also had a great time actually attending the wedding as guests. For more details about Justine’s wedding and her planning, check out her blog, The Unbride.

Big smoochies to Justine and Gary for letting us be a part of their amazing day and for letting us share their pictures!

February 11,2009

A Party for the Party People

Every year at this time event professionals in DC scurry to put together a portfolio of sorts of their best event, or events, of the previous year. DC ISES, the International Special Events Society, hosts their annual awards Gala in March or April to recognize the year that was and to celebrate another 12 months of creative party throwing.

For the past two years I have dared to enter one of my events in the “Wedding Events” category and to my surprise and delight, my hard work paid off. Both years my weddings have been nominated amongst the many that entered, although I have never come home with top prize. Last year, my fabulous colleague Laura took home the award for an amazing February wedding she did at the Mellon Auditorium. For this year, I am hoping the third time is the charm.

Besides a gruling, competetive awards ceremony, the party people actually get to party themselves! We surround ourselves with fabulous decor, cutting edge lighting and amazing floral designs. We are entertained by a host of musical groups, dancers and theatrical players. The food is top notch and the bar gets some use as well. It’s a great time to enjoy our amazing efforts and have a little fun together before the craziness of the 2009 spring begins. This year, the Gala will take place on March 29th. Stay tuned to see how it all turns out!


February 07,2009

Lisa Loeb Gets Married!

Who doesn’t love celebrity weddings? And who doesn’t love a celebrity wedding when you’ve actually met the celebrity involved? We were so excited to hear that fabulous singer Lisa Loeb got hitched to Roey Hershkovitz and even more excited because we had the opportunity to meet her (and help her adjust the mic set-up before she sang a solo) at our dear friend Justine’s wedding back in October.
Justine and Gary’s wedding was pretty star-studded, especially for D.C. We mostly get political big shots in the Capitol City so a little does of California glam is always welcome. I’m happy to report that Lisa was charming and easy to work with as we got her set up to perform during the wedding ceremony. I love it when famous people are as cool as you imagine them to be!
Justine Ungaro, photographer extraordinaire and creator of the Unbride blog, jets between her new home in LA with her husband, Gary, and D.C. to shoot weddings. But a couple of weeks ago, she got to jet up to New York to shoot Lisa Loeb’s wedding. Here is one of the photos from the wedding courtesy of Justine Ungaro and Sota Dzine.
We think the dress is fab and Lisa’s signature glasses are even more so. What a deluxe couple!

February 06,2009

Let It Snow!

Although I’m not a huge fan of winter weather (I might have mentioned that before), I do love the look of winter weddings. Admittedly, we do the vast majority of our weddings in the warm weather months but the winter weddings I’ve had over the years have always been an infusion of fun during otherwise quiet months.
My most memorable winter wedding took place in early February about eight years ago and featured a fabulous snowflake theme. The cake was adorned with intricate gumpaste snowflakes, the flowers were in icy shades of blue and white, the table linens were an irridescent blue and the escort cards were hung with crystals from a centerpiece of white birch branches. It really was a winter wonderland!
The only problem was that we had a warm snap the week of the wedding (sound familiar?) and it was over 70 degrees on the Thursday before. This was the one time I’ve actually seen a bride upset by good weather! I have to admit that the monogrammed cups of hot chocolate for guests to take upon departure weren’t going to be quite so comforting. Who wants hot chocolate when it’s beach weather? Luckily for the nervous bride, the weather dropped again and wedding guests were glad to get hot cocoa and warm bags of donuts as they left the wedding and ventured out into the cold night.
You certainly don’t have to go with a winter white theme for a winter wedding but here are a few of our favorite ideas for cold weather affairs.

A fabulous, fluffy white gown from Oscar de la Renta. Just looks perfect for when there are piles of fluffy snow on the ground, doesn’t it?
And we love this Bob Evans gown because who says brides have to wear white?

The following ceremony designs by Preston Bailey are the ultimate winter wonderlands. I personally love the white lights but the blue is certainly dramatic (it was for Melissa Rivers’ wedding so what do you expect?).

We’re working on a wedding now with a version of the Preston Bailey winter wonderland trees but for a Labor Day weekend wedding. White is always in season. It should be spectacular!


February 04,2009

Happy (Chinese) New Year!

Last evening, we had the good fortune to be invited to the fabulous Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C. for their annual Chinese New Year celebration. Let me first say that the Mandarin is one of our very favorite hotels. We absolutely adore working with the catering team over there. The Director of Catering, Michael Deltette, is uber-deluxe, and Eric and Bobby are so much fun. They all make our job a breeze.

Brides, if you are looking for a fabulous hotel for your wedding, be sure to check out The Mandarin. Aside from amazing service and gorgeous decor, the hotel also has garden space for cocktails and a bridge leading over to the water. So you can park your yacht and walk right over to your wedding!

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Mandarin Spa. I consider myself to be a spa aficionado and have tried just about every spa in the city. None compare to The Mandarin. Sara can back me up here because we are both serious Mandarin Spa addicts. I could spend all day just relaxing in the amethyst steam room and the soaking pool but, on top of that, every masseuse I have had has been really great. The spa would be reason enough for me to get married at The Mandarin. It is that amazing.
But back to the party. Celebrating the Year of the Ox, the event was held in the private Tai Pan lounge on the 8th floor. We were greeted with pomegranate martinis and a series of delicious passed hors d’oeuvres. There were stations set up throughout the space serving sushi, Peking duck and small plates of caviar atop apple risotto. As a vegetarian, I was pleased that there were plenty of options for me (I occasionally lapse for seafood). The Peking duck looked amazing and I almost went off the wagon for a taste. Luckily, I was distracted by the divine desserts. I love a good cupcake and these were wonderful!
A magnificent paper cutter from Cast of Thousands impressed everyone with lightning-fast silhouettes and a spectacular dragon dancer topped of the evening. Check out a couple of photos courtesy of the amazing Regeti’s. Love them! And a big thank you to the Mandarin for a fabulous evening!

January 29,2009

The Wedding Planner Reviews the Wedding Planner

Those who know me well know that I love books as much as I love weddings. So, why not combine my two passions and bring you my personal take on the latest wedding-themed books? Sometimes I’ll be reviewing fiction with a wedding theme and sometimes the books will be the latest and greatest wedding planning guides. Just another fun way to connect you with all things bridal!

Today’s review is of Fete, The Wedding Experience by Jung Lee. You might recognize the author’s name from her stint on the Style Network’s Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? This big coffee table book is a blend of practical advice and layouts of real weddings. I must say that I’ve read a million coffee table wedding books full of pretty pictures (at least it feels that way) but I really enjoyed this one. The author includes more of the nitty-gritty information than most of the glossy books do like how to calculate if you have enough space for your guest count and what to ask videographers before hiring them.

Another favorite feature of the book for me was the section on transforming a boring space into a fabulous reception. With before and after photos to really bring home the point, this was a great way to show brides who may have a hard time envisioning things just how dramatically a room can change with the right lighting, draping and decor.

The real weddings in the book cover a range of wedding styles and, while gorgeous events, they are not so far off the charts that regular brides can’t take some ideas to adapt for their own weddings. I personally love having the idea of putting the guests’ seating assignments on a giant black slate. This book makes me long for fabulous loft spaces that New York seems to have in spades and D.C. does not!

All in all, a nice combination of eye candy, inspiration and information. If you are a collector of wedding books, this is a good one to add to your collection.

January 26,2009

Wishful Thinking

As I sit here wearing a turtleneck and wool pants, I can’t help but long for the sunny, warm days of Spring. I am not a cold-weather person, as anyone will tell you. My absolute favorite time of the year is the Spring, and I adore Spring in D.C. So I thought I’d do a post to help hasten the coming season and also feature the always fresh and preppy color combination of pink and green. I hope you enjoy some of my favorite ideas for a preppy, Spring wedding.

One of my new favorite paper companies was actually started by a former bride. I did Kristin’s wedding well over ten years ago (which maybe dates us both more than we’d like) and it was a gorgeous affair at the Fairmont Hotel (then it was called the ANA Hotel–dating myself even more). But, I digress. Hampton Paper Designs is a fabulous, whimsical line of papers featuring lovely custom artwork that is perfect for a preppy or seaside wedding. I adore the pink and green wedding cake motif at the top of the blog! Also, they use recycled papers. And you all know that we love being green!

My fantasy preppy Spring wedding starts with fun Save-the-Dates from Hampton Paper Designs adorned with the pink and green wedding cake above. Next, elegant pink and green invitations from Smock invite guests on 100% bamboo paper. This is one seriously eco-chic company with gorgeous invitations.
It just so happens that one of my favorite new finds is custom jeweler Meg Carter. She lives right here in the D.C. area and designs gorgeous jewelry inspired by the sea and the city. She will also work with brides to custom-design jewelry for their bridal party. What could be more fun than designing the perfect necklace to go with those darling Lilly Pulitzer bridesmaids’ dresses? Check out these pearl bracelets!

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention perennial favorite site Etsy for fabulous design ideas and details to pull any wedding together. You can find designers to customize wedding logos and monograms that you can then put on anything that doesn’t move. From welcome bags tags to programs to favors, a chic wedding logo can pull your whole look together. I love the one below, although I’d put the bride’s name first. It’s all about the babe in the white dress.

Another great Etsy find are these pink and green dotted favor boxes! Fill them with pink and green candies or uber-deluxe pink and green French macaroons for a perfect wedding favor.

I hope you enjoyed tip-toeing through the Spring tulips with me. Is that snow I see outside my office window? I think I need a warmer sweater!


January 22,2009

And the Beat Goes On… (and the planning continues)

So, while I didn’t bore you with the preliminary stages of arguing over guest lists, budget and details on dates, we’re moving into the fun of choosing a venue. While both my fiance’s and my parents live in New Jersey, we decided the DC metro area was the natural choice for our celebration location. Here is just a flavor, in no particular order, of what we have discussed.
Of late, many of my brides have the desire to use more than four walls of a hotel and wish to bring their guests to a location with more “character” as they put it. One location of interest is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Located at 1615 H Street, NW, the building sits right across the street from Lafayette Square and the White House and shares a block with the Hay Adams Hotel (the location of our engagement). While the building has plenty of rooms for a ceremony, cocktails and reception, the Hall Of Flags, most often used for receptions, is an interesting mix of traditional and regal with ceiling detail you would only find in a building nearing a century old.

Choosing a hotel as your venue can sometimes be the most practical choice given expected guest count, amount of out of town guests and convenience. First class service and impeccable hospitality can surely contribute to easy decision making. The Park Hyatt located at 1221 24th Street, NW, offers all of these things. The recent renovations done throughout this hotel and covering all of the guest rooms will allow your guests to feel like they are on a vacation retreat instead of a quick stop into town for a wedding. Four walls of a hotel ballroom easily become a blank slate with the stunning drapes that can be hung around the room.
And finally, if you take a trip outside of DC, we have entertained a meaningful yet unexpected venue for both of us. While it would be too cliche for me to get married at the brand new Alumni Center of our Alma Mater the University of Maryland, the thought did cross our minds, Terps sports enthusiasts that we are, to get married at Cole Field House, the one time men’s basketball arena where we cheered on the National Championship Team in 2002. The arena stands as it did in that day although the floor has been stripped and it now hosts a number of indoor sporting events and galas. Would attending a wedding surrounded by 14,000 bleacher seats be too strange for our guests who have no significant ties to such a distinctive venue?
I guess we’ll see.


January 18,2009

See and Be Seen

With another fabulous wedding season fast approaching, we decided to get out and about these next few months and take part in the upcoming bridal festivities! There are going to be a few events taking place here in the District for brides and vendors alike to come together and snag ideas to bring a fresh new spin to weddings this year.

The launch of the New Washingtonian Bride & Groom Magazine, to be held on Sunday, January 25, 2009, is sure to be a huge gathering of Washington’s most talented vendors. Doors will swing open promptly at 11:30 am at The Park Hyatt – Washington, DC. The Washingtonian is known for their discerning taste when choosing their “Best Of” Vendor Lists proving very useful to the Washington bride. Surly an event not to miss!

Not long after the Washingtonian Launch, we will be attending the Engaged! Magazine 2009 Vendor Showcase. Our good friend, Doreen Tisone, Editor, has pulled together Washington’s finest vendors and placed them all in one room at The Willard Intercontinental Hotel on Sunday, March 1, 2009. Engaged! Magazine is known for it’s inspirational pages and this is the annual event for Brides to meet these fabulous vendors in person. Champagne bottles will be popped at 11:oo am so don’t be late. Come and be inspired!

Don’t forget to pick up the Premiere issue of Bride & Groom at the Launch. Both Sara and I are ecstatic to showcase two of our weddings in their first issue!

Hope to see you sipping champagne with us at these events!


Amy Lorraine