Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It is not about the wedding.....

I was slammed today working on several different wedding and in the mix of an email overload, Tom sent me something he found in The New York Times that made me take a deep breath and count my blessing.

"Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled."

I am a wedding planner, not a marriage counselor...but this was too good not to share!
Happy Planning!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Invitation Design

I have been spending the last two weeks working on save-the-dates, invitations and wedding programs for a few different clients. Four out of the five brides are using a independent graphic designer, while one ordered everything she needed from The Scribbler in Crestline Village. With THOUSANDS (and I do mean thousands) of options, how do you know where to start this process? I thought it would be helpful to give you a few thoughts that will make this process a little easier for you.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1) How much time do you have before you need to send out save-the-date cards and/or invitations?
  • Remember, save-the-dates are supposed to be sent out 4-6 months before the wedding date while invitations are supposed to be sent out 6-8 weeks before the wedding date.

  • If you are pushed for time, you might want to take a look through the design books at your local invitation shop and order that day. It usually takes about two weeks for the invitations to come in.

  • If you have the time, research different designers and find one that fits your style. DESIGNERS CANNOT READ YOUR MIND! You can send inspiration photos to give him/her an idea of what you are looking for.

  • Do not give up or settle on something that you are not 100% happy with. However, if you are a picky, indecisive person, you may need to settle at some point. There is nothing worse than a bride who always finds something wrong with every draft. Give constructive guidance and you cannot go wrong.

2) Are you looking for a customized invitation design for all of your "paper" (save the dates, invitations, etc.) or are you going with the more traditional format?

  • If you are envisioning a personal monogram or logo, typically you will need to work with a independent graphic designer.

  • The books at your local invitation store will have invitations that are unique and different, so do not feel like you have to hire a designer to get anything other than the traditional ecru card stock. To sum it up...the books are typically a "get what you see" deal, but you can still find some unique designs.
3) Do you know the look/design/feel you want for your "paper"?
  • If you have no idea of what you want your design to be, I would recommend starting with your local invitation store. How will a personal designer know what direction to go in if you don't know!

  • Start looking in magazines and online. Pull anything you like and send it to the designer and tell him/her what you like about each one. Nine out of ten times, the designer will be able to pull it all together and create something you really like.

A happy medium is definitely a new invitation vendor I met a few weeks ago.....A+Z Ink. They offer an amazing variety of high quality/uniquely designed invitations. The below pictures are from their collection.

The other outstanding graphic designers I love to work with also include Rice Designs, Catherine Currie Designs and Razzle Dazzel Creative Design. Each of them are a pleasure to work with and do a great job.

Happpy Planning!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Groomsmen Gift Ideas

I am working with a precious bride and groom who would like my help in selecting the perfect gift for their groomsmen. After all the expenses of putting on a rehearsal dinner and treating his soon-to-be wife to a romantic honeymoon, the groom has asked to keep the price down without taking away from the quality of the gift.

If you have been looking for groomsmen gifts yourself, you are well aware of the enormous selections you have in the bar category. While most groomsmen do enjoy a good drink, there are some guys out there that would rather have something else. It is usually pretty easy when all the groomsmen are into hunting or sports, but when you have a group of guys who are all truly different, it gets a little tricky!!

Below are a few gifts I found that could make just about any guy happy.

The L.L. Bean Travel Messenger Bag for $24.95 would be a great gift. It might even come in handy the weekend of your wedding!

A traditional money clip is always a nice gift. This one can be purchased and personalized at Red Envelope for $14.95.

Slice of Bread Notebook

"You are the greatest thing since sliced bread"...isn't that how all grooms feel about their groomsmen...maybe??

I know this is something very unique and it might not go over as well with the guys as it did with me....but it was too cute to pass up!!

This is package contains 12 single notebooks that are all in the shape of a slice of bread. Each notebook is numbered 1-12 so that you can have one for each month of the year.

Maybe the groom was a journalism major and all of the groomsmen are deep thinkers that need a place to catch their thoughts....Unlikely I know, but still clever!

A leather catchall tray is something a guy might not know he needs, but the minute he tosses it onto his dresser it will begin to change his life (or maybe his wife's life).

This little tray will be the new home for keys, loose change, collar stays, golf tees (hair rubber bands and fingernail clippers at my house) and much more.

This personalized leather catchall can be ordered from Red Envelope for $29.95.

These 2oz double wall thermo glasses are a lot cooler when you see them in person. Tom and I were having brunch at Avo with his parents a few weeks ago and his step-mother was served coffee in one of these. It was so neat that the conversation stopped in mid-story and all attention was devoted to how unique the glass was.

This gift is unique, while also useful! It can be found at for $11.89.

Every guy needs a weekend tote or gym bag. These bags can be found just about anywhere at any price point. I found this one while cruising around What a great gift for only $24.95.

We have this coffee cup at our house and I secretly hurry to the kitchen each morning to make sure that I get this mug before walking out the door. (Editor's Notes: Do not let her fool you, I fix the coffee every morning and know not to think about using this mug)

For all coffee lovers, this is the PERFECT to-go mug! I am not sure why I love this mug so much, but I do. For a simple, yet unsalable, groomsmen gift....visit for your
"I am not a paper cup..."
(only $12.50)

Happy Planning!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brunch with Bromberg's

I attended The Perfect Wedding Guide's Bridal Market two weeks ago to check out different wedding vendors while also enjoying a wonderful brunch put on by Brombergs. During the brunch we heard from Melissa Rycroff from The Bachelor and Dancing With The Stars about her wedding planning experience. Her one recommendation was to hire a wedding planner!!!

(I promise, I had nothing to do with what she said!!)

BTW, we all need to go on Dancing With The Stars! Melissa has the best looking legs I have ever seen!

This is Melissa's groom Tye Strickland. He didn't have much to say about the wedding planning process, but is 100% supportive of his new wife.

If you or any of your girlfriends are engaged, be sure to register at Brombergs. They are giving away a weekend trip to Watercolor to one lucky bride who registers in the next few weeks. The trip also includes a spa visit and dinner at Fish Out of Water.

Brombergs is also hosting a Diamond Dash! If you are interested in winning a $15,000 engagement ring, check out

I will blog about the different vendors I found at the bridal market, stay tuned!

Happy Planning!


Monday, March 8, 2010

Gather's First Event At Architectural Heritage

I am so excited to report that Gather's first event at Architectural Heritage was a raging success! I would love to say that it was the many hours of planning that went into it, but that is not entirely the truth. I had plenty of help from the amazing hosts who like to put on a party as much as I do!

Along with the great hosts, there were others that made this engagement party an extraordinary event for the bride and groom!

Roy Morton and his co-workers at Architectural Heritage - Venue
Cafe Dupont - Food
Alex and Warren with A.G. Lighting - Lighting
Tables, Chairs and Pipe/Drape
BBJ Linen - Linen
Razzle Dazzle Creative Design - Invitation

We pulled the colors from the invitations for the lighting -the building was covered with purple and turquoise lighting.

I was a little worried about the flowers given that my entire flower order did not come in due to bad weather. This was a last minute creative project. I am so grateful for my friend Martie Duncan with Martie Knows Parties. She came to the rescue with flower advice and tips.

Simple, but elegant centerpieces.

This was one of the 3 food tables. One of the fun perks about using AH for your venue is that centerpieces are already in place when you arrive (These statues weigh more than me and were not going anywhere. I am so glad I happened to love them!)

We cleared out a portion of the store and created a catering kitchen for Cafe Dupont. The pipe and drape kept guests from knowing the chefs were even there.

The food was out of this world! Cafe Dupont outdid themselves as usual. If they can pull this off without a kitchen, just imagine what they can do at your home. Don't forget to hire them for your next event.

We set up 6 ft. tables inside the store for dinner.

Since there is only one bathroom at AH, we rented a port-a-potty for the guys. I will say, I only saw 2 people use it all night. I couldn't bare the fact that guests were going to see a blue potty at the party, so I bought a drop cloth from Home Depot and draped it.

Happy Planning!


Monday, March 1, 2010

Off The Beaten Path

I was hired last week by a Washington D.C. resident who wants to get married in Birmingham on May 30, 2010. Like my wedding, this bride is hoping to create a personal wedding that gives off a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. She would like the ceremony and reception to be in the same venue and is thinking she will keep the guest list to a 100 of her closest family and friends.

With a short engagement, I do not have a moment to spare....
....Where, Oh Where, will this wedding be???

The outdoor patio is a perfect area for a cocktail reception. If you are counting on this space for your guests, make sure you have a tent on hold in case of bad weather. You will also need to bring in your own chairs and tables.

The sound stage is an additional area that can be used for a seated dinner or reception. The space is small and I wouldn't recommend using this alone unless you are having a very small wedding. If you are into the theater...this would be a fun rehearsal dinner venue!!

Rent: $1450 for these two areas.
Catering Requirements: You can use whatever caterer you would like and you can bring in your own bar.

The Cantina
The Cantina is a great restaurant in the Pepper Place area. I have been hosting parties there for years so I stopped by to see how it would be for a wedding venue. The one downfall for this venue is the word "Cantina" on a wedding invitation. What do you think about calling it by its address instead of it's name??

The outside of the building has a good look to it and the name of the restaurant is not plastered across the front in a neon light like most Mexican restaurants I know.

The patio is cozy and clean and it will definitely fit 100 chairs (rented chairs) for the ceremony.

First view of the big would be perfect for a reception or seated dinner.

Second view.....the opening (where the man in all denim is) is another room that can be used for a party.

Rent: $350
Caterering: Cantina has a great catering menu for you to select from. You must purchase the alcohol through them.

I had never been out to Mt. Laurel so I was excited to make the trip down Highway 280 (actually, I wasn't that excited about the 280 part, but excited to see the town that had gotten so much hype a few years ago).

The Townhouse is a small two story building that is a tea room by day and an event venue by night.

This is the front of the Townhouse. Everyone meet Darlene...lower left corner. She is the super sweet lady who runs the Townhouse.

One of my favorite things about The Townhouse is that they can close the street off for your event at no additional charge. For this wedding, I would want to tent the street and let the reception flow from the street into the main floor of the Townhouse.

Lets go inside and take a look.....

This is the main floor of The Townhouse. It is a small room that would be a good location for a few tables and the food. This room, as well as the street, is ipod adaptable in case you didn't want to hire a band.

The upstairs of the Townhouse is more like an upstairs apartment. There is a small kitchen, living room, den and billiards room. It is open for events, but I am not sure it would be a good fit for this wedding.

Rent: $950 (may be more on Saturday nights)
Catering: You can either use their catering or get drop off from another caterer. You MUST bring your own alcohol. They do not have a liquor license.
I hope you enjoyed you tour of the "off the beaten path" venues I visited this past weekend. Keep them in mind for your upcoming events!!
Happy Planning!