Thursday, January 31, 2008

Strike A Pose

My dear readers, you know I'm always on the lookout for the next best thing when it comes to party planning and today's post is no exception. I've found the cutest invitations from PosePrints. This mother-daughter team based in California brings a new twist to personalizing invites, a customized model. Their selection includes a variety of backgrounds and styles which include skin tone, hair color/texture/length, clothes and even jewelry. After you've created your custom digital image and wording, the invitations are printed and delivered in a matter of days. Everything from baby showers to graduations to cocktail parties are covered, even personalized note cards. Can't wait to host my next party!

For Your Upcoming Bachelorette Party
Chic Personal Note Cards
Adorable Baby Shower Notices
Elegant Surprise Party
Happy Birthday to You!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Afternoon Delight

There are some days when you need a little afternoon pick-me-up to get thru the rest of the day or something extra special to cap off the evening. In my opinion, that something special should be not only comforting but decadent and sinfully good for the soul. Dear Readers, rest assured I have two things that fit the criteria perfectly.

May I introduce to you the heavenly macarons of Petite Bouchees. This newly formed company is only currently offering these goodies in Richmond and more importanly on a limited basis. So please get your orders in early!

These lovely little french bites will pair perfectly with the deliciously rich Belgian chocolate from Petrossian. What's so neat about this chocolate is that when swirled in a steaming cup of hot milk, it becomes the stuff of which legends are made.

Both treats could also be a wonderful end to special dinner party. Enjoy!

*photos courtesy of their respective companies

Monday, January 28, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

In the days following a wedding you'll find me decompressing with friends and inevitably one of the top questions I'm always asked is: "So, tell me about the cake?" When it comes to weddings, the cake is a big focal point of the reception. It has its own table, atop a pedestal surrounded by candles and flowers. Spectacular wedding cakes are practically worshipped and photographed almost as often as the bride and groom. The cake not only has to be visually appealing, but also be a little slice of heaven. I'm of the opinion cake bakers have to be some of the most creative people around. These geniuses do much more than whip up tasty confections, they create works of art and often times they have little more to go on than a client's dream. One of the best Richmond has to offer is Kara Buntin of A Cake To Remember. If you're getting married this year and have yet to secure her services, good luck finding an opening on her calendar, she's already started taking dates for 2009! I was lucky enough to have her answer a few questions for my reader. Ladies and gentlemen (yes, I know grooms-to-be visit here also!), may I present cake baker extraordinaire, Kara Buntin...

Please tell us a bit about your services and how you got started in the industry.
My services include custom wedding and groom's cakes, and that's it. I'll do smaller special-event cakes for my wedding cake clients, but I don't do them on a regular basis because I focus on wedding cakes alone...I'm not the Walmart of cakes! I think of myself as a baker first, so I bake everything from scratch and never use a boxed mix, or "pre-weighed dry ingredients," as they're sometimes called. I have a background in studio art and costume design, so I like to incorporate different designs into my cakes whenever I can. I make everything from scratch, including my gumpaste flowers and my rolled fondant. Most people in this area buy their rolled fondant and gumpaste flowers pre-made, but I prefer to make everything myself because I can make more varieties of flowers than you can buy pre-made, and my fondant tastes better than the kind that comes in a 10-pound tub! I can make special-diet cakes, such as vegan and reduced sugar formulas, because I'm not relying on boxed mixes. I do all of the work myself, from baking to delivery, so I don't hand off the responsibility to someone else. Because of the attention that I give to each cake, I only do a limited number per week.

I got started in wedding cakes by going to culinary school at Newbury College in Boston. I have a Master's degree in counseling psychology and had been working with children when I was thinking of making a career change. Newbury had just started a Pastry Arts program, so I did that and received a certificate in pastry. When we moved to Richmond 9 years ago I got my Virginia business license and started doing cakes. I like doing wedding cakes because I can incorporate my interest in baking and my interest in artwork to make a beautiful centerpiece for each client's wedding.

What should a couple expect during a cake tasting and design consultation?
During the consultation, you'll take some time to discuss your ideas with your baker, look at pictures of cakes that they've made, then taste some samples. Couples should get ready for a cake consultation by thinking about what type of cakes they've seen and liked or not liked. If you've chosen colors for your wedding you should have samples if you can, and if there are specific design elements (monograms, etc.) that you'd like to use, bring a picture of those. The more information you have for your baker, the easier it will be to get exactly the look that you want for your cake. This is also the time to ask the baker about specifics such as whether they're licensed, what their specialties are, who actually decorates and delivers the cake, and if the pictures that you're being shown are cakes they've actually made. You should also ask about whether they bake from scratch or use cake mixes, how their cakes are priced, and what types of fillings and cake flavors are available. One of the most important topics to bring up, and one which a lot of people try to avoid, is your budget for the cake. If you have a budget and tell your baker what you're aiming for, it can help to narrow down your options.

What are a few of the most popular flavor pairings?
Wedding cake flavors have really changed in the last twenty years or so. It used to be that you could get white or pound cake, and that was about it. The options now are limited only by the baker's ability to produce different flavors. A properly constructed wedding cake can be made from any number of flavors, from pound cakes to a softer butter cake. Some of the more traditional flavors are almond cake with an amaretto Italian meringue buttercream, Lemon cake torted with raspberry buttercream and preserves, and a dense chocolate fudge cake with fudge filling. Some non-traditional flavors that are popular with my clients include a lime cake that's torted with lime curd and a lime meringue buttercream, a chocolate cake with peanut butter meringue buttercream, and an orange cake with a chocolate truffle filling.

For the couple who doesn’t necessarily want a large wedding cake, what are some of the alternatives?
If you're having a smaller reception and don't need a huge cake, you can still do a smaller one that will serve your guests and look like a wedding cake, as opposed to a large birthday cake. You can do either a small two or three-tiered cake, and as long as the diameters of the tiers are small you can keep the number of servings down. If you just don't like cake and are planning on not having one at all, I'd rethink that...A lot of guests expect to see a cake being cut, so it can get a little strange to ignore the tradition. You could have a small cake just to cut for the photo op, then serve different desserts. You could also do something like a cheesecake wedding cake if you don't like regular butter cake. Some people get a fake tier on their cake to make it look bigger, but keep in mind that that isn't going to save you a lot of money if you're thinking about doing that to help your budget. Decorating the cakes is what takes a long time, and decorating a fake tier doesn't take any less time than decorating a real one.

It seems when it comes to the groom’s cake, the sky’s the limit. What have been some of your favorite designs?
Groom's cakes are a lot of fun to do, and my favorite ones are the 3-dimensional cakes that look like something other than a cake, because they always present a challenge. I did an Xbox recently that was fun, and soon after that I did a 3-D mounted deer head. I think that funniest one was a fish that was mounted on a plaque...It was the groom's prized possession, and the bride told me that she'd bring me a model to look at. The day she brought it, I opened the door and saw her standing there with the actual mounted fish, so I could work from the real thing! That was kind of a surprise, but the cake looked great when I was done with it!

Thanks Kara, your cakes are awesome!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Weekend Happenings

TGIF! This has been a fun but busy week and I am so looking forward to the weekend. For those of you in the area, Vow Bride magazine's wedding show is this Sunday at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. This year's guest is bridal designer and Project Runway's Heidi Elnora. Doors open at 11:30am and the $10 admission benefits the Samaritan House for battered women.

Also, New York Magazine's Weddings Showcase tickets go on sale Monday, January 28th. This ultra-exclusive event features the best industry experts together under on roof. This year's date is Wednesday, April 2nd (yes, I know it's in the middle of the work week, but trust me, you don't want to miss out!) and it's a sold-out affair every year. Last year's show included the fabulous Colin Cowie, famed wedding cake creator Sylvia Weinstock and complimentary facials courtesy of Clarins Skin Spa.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Color Me Beautiful

Hi again guys! I met with a wonderful couple last week who is getting married late this summer. The bride-to-be is Indian and the groom-to-be is American. While the bride doesn't want a traditional Indian ceremony, she did want to incorporate the striking use of color into their celebration. After our meeting, I did a bit of brainstorming on what was most important to the couple and came up with a beautiful inspiration board to give our ideas shape. Let me know what you think!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Are You Ready For Your Close-Up?

As an event planner, I am always on the lookout for creative people who are able to bring my clients' vision to life. So you can imagine my excitement when I received a wedding movie from Bill Gaff of humanstory. His work is so unlike the average wedding video, humanstory's films are more like documentaries of your love story which definitely makes him Gold List worthy. I had the opportunity to speak with Bill about his work recently. Dear Readers, I have the pleasure of presenting a wonderful film maker, Bill Gaff of humanstory.

Please tell us a bit about your services and how you got started
in the industry.

Humanstory creates custom wedding films. These film runs about an
hour in length depending on the needs of the story. We combine footage shot at the wedding with interviews of the couple and potentially their families and friends. The interviews are a great way to tell the story. They add context and emotion to the visuals from the wedding day.

There is no question that when dad sees his daughter in her dress for
the first time, it is an emotional moment. However, if you add to
that the daughter talking about how dad used to work fourteen hour
days to pay for her ballet lessons, well... you know what I mean.
Beautiful, honest stories.

Before getting into the wedding industry, I was in the film and video
industry in other areas such as documentary films, television
advertising and corporate and non-profit films. I originally wanted
to make family biography films and quickly discovered that weddings
were the perfect setting for this type of storytelling. I was ready
to move into this kind of work. It's good for the soul.

How soon should couples being looking for your services?
I think most people book wedding video 8 to 12 months out. There
are always some exceptions. The more time you have available, the
more you can research your options and choose the videographer that
fits your personality and your style. There is a limited number of
weddings each videographer can work and popular dates go early.

What questions should they ask?
Ask to see the work preferably a recent video in it's entirely.
The main thing is to determine if the work and the videographers
personality is a good match for you. I would recommend deciding what you want in a wedding film and having the videographer write up a custom proposal based on that. You can always add or remove things to make it work in your budget.

There are many different videographers with different types of
talent to offer. Find out where the true talents and interests are
with each videographer you interview and see if they are right for
your wedding film.

Please give us an overview of the movie-making process. How is the theme developed?
The three steps in filmmaking are planning, shooting and editing.
The success of each step depends on the success of the one before
it. I usually plan shots and write out interview questions ahead of
time. During the event I try to look for the subtle moments that
often can tell the best story.
In post-production, I watch all of
the footage, which can amount to 7-10 hours worth and begin to build
the narrative.

I try to have a rough idea of the theme based on my initial meetings
with the couple so I can look for moments that support that on the
day of the wedding. Sometimes, however, the story shows itself on
the wedding day or even later during the editing process. I try to
be on the lookout for story at each stage and be sensitive to
different kinds of stories that emerge.

The interview really helps me to understand what is really important
to the couple
. For example, last year I was interviewing a couple
several days before the wedding. During the interview I was asking
them about which family members were attending. The bride went
through the list of people describing all the funny and loving
details of each family member. Once, she got to the topic of her
grandmother, she stopped for a moment, and I noticed her fiance turn
and looked knowingly at her when she teared up. It turns out that
her grandmother had been the most influential person in her life and
had almost raised her because her mother worked full time. However,
because of her grandmother’s age, the bride was never 100% positive
her grandmother would be able to attend the wedding. Fortunately, not only was Grandma there on the wedding day, but I was also able to interview her and got plenty of footage of the two of them together.

I put a phrase on my website "These are the stories worth telling"
and I really believe it. In many cases, this is the only opportunity these families might have to tell them. I really love being a part of that.

How much time do you need to spend with the couples and their
families/friends when making a wedding film?

Most of my time and effort is devoted to finding the couples story, a
process that actually begins at the initial meeting before the client
has even booked. Once they book, the couple fills out a questionnaire which gives me their background information and plans for the day. Then we meet and talk more about their families and their stories. Throughout this process I am looking for a theme for their film. Most interviews take 1 or 2 hours. When I shoot day of interviews
I usually try to keep them to about 10 or 15 minutes for each interview. Editing usually involves about 40 to 60 hours of work.

*Images courtesy of humanstory

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's All In The Bag

I received an email from one of my readers about what type of handbag she should carry on her wedding day. I know, I know brides don't walk down the aisle with a clutch under their arm or a hobo slung over the shoulder but there will times throughout the day when you need to have a place to put that white gift envelope filled with cash from your Aunt Stella. So, I've put together a few options that might work for you.

Here's a little Kate Spade. Love the double rings, very symbolic, yes?

This wedding dolly by Henry Kaye is ideal for holding your makeup for touch-ups during picture time.

For the fashion-forward bride, this clutch by Oscar de la Renta is perfection.

This demure clutch by Serenity Fair has a beautifully detailed clasp.

I love, love, love this foldover clutch by Dune. This is a handbag that will definitely be used long after the wedding is over. Perfect for sophisticated cocktail parties.

For the Indian bride or those whose wedding dress isn't the traditional white or ivory, this beaded bag is a gorgeous option.

Australian designer Susie Lema does wonderfully dainty beaded clutches. The floral design is breath-taking.

The truly avant garde will love this box clutch made of mother-of-pearl available at Via Vivre. This bag is a definite show piece, take a look at the oversized clasp.

When you want something fabulously extravagant and one-of-a-kind, take a cue from Eva Longoria, who has these snakeskin minaudieres custom made for her bridesmaids and herself from Rafe. They were even monogrammed with their initials on the back. Tres chic, dahling!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Remember To Just Breathe

With all of the excitement around planning the perfect wedding, couples (okay, brides) tend to zone in on the party and lose focus on the real reason behind it: the relationship. It is very easy to get carried away with all of the necessary appointments and decisions to be made. Party planning is a stressful business which is why you need professional help (pun very much intended) to ensure you don't become overwhelmed. My suggestion to anyone in the throes of planning who is beginning to notice the strain it's creating in their lives: create a wedding-free zone. What is that you ask? It's a block of time, say every evening from 8pm until bedtime, where there is no discussion of your big day. No magazines, no emails, no phone calls and definitely no "honey, what do you think about this...?" questions. If you just can't manage doing this every day, I implore you to have one weekend a month (yes, Friday THRU Sunday) where the focus is on you and your fiance and not your I-do's. Sneak a weekend away to your favorite bed and breakfast or take in a concert. This is my wedding gift to you, trust me, you'll thank me for it later! Now, close your eyes and just breathe.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Weekend Update and The Start of Something New

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend as much as I did. As promised, I attended the Hampton Roads Magazine bridal show on Sunday afternoon and I had a wonderful time. There were tons of great vendors in attendance and lots of great products to sample. Naturally, I was in full mogul mode and networked until my Chloe bag was overflowing with business cards and my little hand was worn out from shaking. The festivities were definitely worth the trip down. Now, on to the something new...

Conde Nast Traveller is one of my favorite magazines and after participating in their annual Gold List survey on the world's best hotels, I realized the idea of highlighting the best vendors and service providers in this industry would be perfect for this blog. While the magazine's focus is international, in the beginning I will bring to you local vendors who truly stand out from the rest of the marketplace. Most of these creative talents I have either worked with previously or attended private events they've been a part of.

Introducing uber-stylist, Celena Gill of Style DC. You definitely want to enlist Celena's expertise not only when deciding which dress to choose for your big day but how to present a strong, stylish image in all areas of your life. In between styling movie sets, fashion photoshoots and her private clients, Celena was gracious enough to give me a few moments of her time and share her thoughts with my readers.

Please tell us a bit about your services and how you got started in the industry.

As a professional image consultant, I style, develop, and coach my clients in
creating a visual image that aligns with their personal and professional goals.
Through my trademarked Phase to Style program, I guide my clients from start to finish in creating, transforming, or upgrading their image. I also provide wardrobe styling for special events, editorial photoshoots, and television/film productions. In addition, I provide corporate seminars about image, business etiquette, and social etiquette. I have always had an interest in fashion and style, but didn't pursue it until my second year of law school. At that point in my life, I decided that if I was going to spend a lifetime in a certain career, I might as well enjoy it to the fullest. I underwent training, reached to my contacts, developed a website and a blog, printed some business cards, and told anyone who would listen that I was an image consultant. Soon after, I was working with clients and my business is growing day by day! For more information, check out

What's the most important thing a bride-to-be should know about finding the right gown?
A bride to be needs to keep a few things in mind when looking for the perfect gown, but I rank these among my top 3:
A. The style of dress that suits her own personal style, body shape, and setting (of the wedding, i. e. beach vs. church vs. backyard)
B. Silhouette of the dress should be the most flattering to the bride's shape, i.e. A-line, ball gown, sheath, mermaid, empire waist
C. Fabric and color
The fabric of a bride's dress is usually determined by the season. Spring and
summer weddings dictate lighter, cooler fabrics (for example, silk, chiffon, satin, linens), while fall and winter weddings dictate heavier fabrics (think brocades,wools, even denim). Although a white gown is the traditional western custom (started by Queen Victoria when she choose to wear a white dress instead of a silver one; prior to this historical occasion, brides simply wore their best dresses), there is no mandate that brides must wear a white dress. Brides can wear any color of their choosing: red, yellow, lavender, pink, peach, green, etc. Many brides choose an off-white, ivory, or cream color because it is softer than white and easier to survive a dry cleaning disaster (imagine sending your white dress to the cleaners only to have it returned as an ivory one?)

What styles are best suited for mothers of the bride and groom?
Should they wear the same colors as the wedding party? What would you consider off limits?

Dresses for the mothers should be selected according to the theme, colors, and style of the wedding. Most mothers want to be elegant and beautiful on this special day. I suggest the bride go shopping with the mothers to ensure that the dress meets all of the requirements above AND is suited to the mothers' body types. Just like bridesmaids’ dresses, their dresses should fit properly and match the wedding's theme. Traditionally, the mothers' dresses usually match the colors of the wedding party, but if the bride and mother(s) agree to a different color, it is perfectly acceptable. I would consider experimental designs or dresses off limits. Also, overly revealing or ill fitting clothing should be completely avoided. Remember, the bride should always be the center of attention at her wedding. I would encourage brides to be in complete communication with the mothers to ensure no wardrobe malfunctions.

What are some of your favorite designer looks for the Spring/Summer 2008 season?

Vera Wang (a wedding mainstay), Reem Accra and J. Crew

What suggestions would you make for the groom who wants something different for his suit other than tie/cumber bund/vest option? How can he spice things up a bit?

I would suggest that if the groom doesn't opt for a tux, he could wear a 3 piece
suit as an alternative if he wants to remain in the traditional realm. He could
also do a linen shirt and pants set for an ultra casual look or go tieless suit look
if he doesn't want to be too bold.

If he wants to spice it up, do it with accessories: ornate cuff links, pendants,
pocket squares, bold ties, shoes (for some odd reason, snakeskin boots come to
mind!) and even hats (fedoras, news boy caps, top hats, etc.) If the bride and groom are having a destination wedding or a wedding with a special theme, the groom could be a little more experimental.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Weekend To-Dos

If for some reason you missed the bridal show last weekend, here's a chance to redeem yourself. Hampton Roads Magazine is having its first bridal show of the season at the luxuriously chic Founders Inn and Spa in Virginia Beach. As this will be my first visit to this venue, I am very much looking forward to a tour and meeting the area's best vendors.

The Founders Inn and Spa

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Feel The Burn

Every bride wants to look her best when she's walking down the aisle. Whether you feel your shoulders need sculpting, you could stand to lose a couple of inches from your waist or you want to tones those lovely gams, I thought I'd give you a couple of options when creating your body beautiful. Richmond Balance offers a 12-week Bridal Boot Camp. Be sure to take your bridesmaids along for moral support. For those of you who'd like more personal attention, certified personal trainer Ricky Martin at Fit To Go will come to you. Now c'mon ladies, let me see you sweat!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

So, Where Are You Registered?

Every couple must do them and every couple procrastinates until the last possible moment: the dreaded registry. Well Crate and Barrel has decided to make the process a little less traumatic. I went with one of my couples last year and we had a great time (yes, even the groom). Food, music, picking out fabulous houseware and champagne! RSVP with your local store.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Calling All Foodies

First on the agenda, I had a wonderful time at the Richmond Bridal Show this weekend. I had the opportunity to reconnect with some great vendors and meet a lot of exciting new talent whom I am already looking forward to working with. Then it was off to dinner with my parents. You'd be hard-pressed to find two cooler individuals.

Okay, so I'm thinking of having a small dinner party for my birthday in a couple of weeks. I'm surfing the net in an attempt to find some great new recipes to try out on my friends when I stumble across TasteSpotting. I love this site! It's different from other cooking sites as the dishes featured are submitted by every day folks. Plus, with a truly international flair, all tastebuds are sure to be satisfied. There is so much to explore, I'm sure you'll find a reason to have a dinner party of your own. I hope you brought your appetite.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Weekend Happenings

If you're anything like me, you are so happy today is Friday. While this is a rare free weekend for me, I will be attending the Richmond Bridal Showcase this Sunday at the Richmond Convention Center. I've attended the show in previous years and am looking forward to finding that certain something to offer my clients. Tickets are available online as well as the day of the show. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Art of Living Well

Lifestyle expert (and my professional guru/mentor) Colin Cowie has done it again with his latest book, Colin Cowie Chic, the ultimate guide to living life and entertaining graciously. When I learned the book was available for pre-order, I quickly secured my copy. Needless to say, when it arrived this afternoon, I was totally beside myself with excitement! As expected, Mr. Cowie does not disappoint. I love his thorough tips on organization, (can you say "couture ice cubes"?) and the decor ideas for entertaining at home. The tablescapes and florals are totally translatable and real-world practical. I am so trying out one or two for my next private party. Don't think this book is only for the party-throwers among us, there are plenty of tips and reminders for guests that will ensure you'll be invited back again and again. The photographs and step-by-step instructions alone make this book a must have, so be sure to pick up your copy pronto!

Until tomorrow, dear readers...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Congratulations, Now Let's See The Ring!

Photo courtesy of Asprey

One of my favorite things about the start of a new year is working with all the couples who became engaged over the holidays. Congratulations to all the lucky ladies out there and the even luckier gentleman! Richmond Bride Magazine's newest issue has just hit the stands and I encourage the newly engaged to pick up a copy. Its best feature is the comprehensive listing of the area's reception sites.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Here's To Growth

2008 is about growth. My wish for all of us is abundance in all facets of life, both professional and personal. So here's a toast to the New Year 2008 and may growth be yours. Cheers!

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