Monday, March 26, 2007

Welcome To Atlanta

I'll be heading down to the ATL for a whirwind weekend of wedding madness! Many thanks to V-103 FM in Atlanta for having me as their guest speaker during the Annual Bridal Affair. I'm on the stage at 3 p.m on Sunday, April 1st, chatting with all of the guests about "The ART Of The Fabulous Wedding - Amazing Nuptial Celebrations". You know, when you think about it - pulling together a great wedding is an art form..of which I'm proud to be a willing "artist".

So, for those of you in Atlanta - listen up on Friday, March 30th as I hang out with V-103's Frank Ski and Wanda Smith - hosts of the ATL's most popular drive-time morning show, followed by a bit of conversation with Jean Ross and Rick Blacock on WAOK-AM.

Final Four is happening this weekend and I get to be in the thick of it all....go Georgetown!!!!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Top Ten List

I am a fan of David Letterman - and one of my favorite parts of his show is the Top Ten. His are witty, goofy, downright side splitting - but alas, mine are a bit more sedate. In any case, these "picks" are locales, food and things that I think are absolutely wonderful - here's why:

The Wynn Las Vegas:
All I can say is WOW. This place is amazing - with gorgeous rooms, fabulous restaurants, shop-till-you-drop-and-spend-all-your-money boutiques AND incredible customer service. I had the pleasure of spending a few days there last spring along with some fellow wedding planners and believe me when I say, Steve Wynn got it RIGHT. Once you've stayed here - you will truly be spoiled for any place else in Sin City. I swear, if I ever decide to say "I Do" again - I'll make sure it happens in the beautiful Primrose Garden here at the Wynn. When I saw it during our tour - I instantly knew that it would be THE place for me.......

Dale And Thomas Gourmet Popcorn:
I have loved popcorn since I was a child and we made it over the stove in a cast iron pot with golden kernels and plenty of butter. But if you get one taste of this - you'll be putting the microwave stuff far up on the top shelf of your pantry. I got wind of this fabulous treat at the Special Event Show in Los Angeles this year....omigosh, it was soooooo good. My faves? The Original Kettle Corn (salty sweet) and the Southwest Cheddar Chipotle!! Both of them will make you "ixnay" your diet every single time............

Olivier Laudus Custom Ring Pillows:
At most of my weddings, there is a cute little boy who shyly (in some cases) walks down the aisle, ring pillow perched precariously on his hands. Well, Olivier's customized ring pillows are the stuff dreams are made of - meticulously hand crafted, embellished with crystals and pearls, they are just the thing to make everyone (ringbearer) included go "oohhh and ahhh"...

I love this place for so many reasons - too numerous to mention here. So, let's just say that as a wedding planner/designer - I get a ton of inspiration from just walking through the aisles of this retail giant. Great wedding design - or any design for that matter, comes from having the "eye" - the ability to look at something and then craft it into a masterpiece. From hardware to the bath aisle...I have found amazing ideas to help me put an original stamp on my work. And you can create stunning - without breaking the bank!!

So Fudgin' Good:
For all of you chocoholics and fudgeaholics out there - may I present to you, a source of nirvana.. This is good fudge - rich, decadent, eat-it-all-in-one-sitting, fudge. Everyone of my clients who has used it for favors, welcome baskets or as treats for the bridal party, has simply fallen in love with it. Handmade and lovingly packaged - this is a sweet thing, enjoy it responsibly!!

Flyboy Naturals:
Velvety soft, environmentally conscious and just plain beautiful - these freeze dried flower petals are such a wonderul way to add vibrancy and romance to any celebration. I've used them on many occasions and the effect is nothing short of gorgeous. AND - because they are freeze dried, they last a long, long time......did I mention, they are a great "green" alternative for weddings and other special events.

Half Moon Resort
On my very first trip to the sunny island of Jamaica - I stayed at this resort. And I thought I was in the Garden of Eden. Powder soft beach, immaculate grounds (over 400 acres!), luxurious villas - complete with a butler and maid, scrumptious food and the laid back, relaxed nature of the island all add up to an incredible vacation.

Toppers With Glitz
I like things that are different. I also am attracted to "shiny" objects, so these sparkly cake toppers are right up my alley. Owner Sari Watkins takes something as simple as letters, weaves her magic and voila! The result is a shining, glittering, eye-catching bauble that will be the finishing touch on your sweet confection. From simple to simply breathtaking, these one-of-a-kind items give just the right amount of BLING (and we all love bling, right??) to make your cake spectacular!

Wonderful Graffiti
You know, typically - graffiti is not viewed as a "good thing". But once you lay your eyes on this masterful script, I think you'll change your mind :). This is a great way to "think outside" of the design box and move away from the typical. Instead of hanging a picture on the wall - why not mount your thoughts, wishes and dreams? From a child's bedroom to your home office, this is a great way to keep the written word in full view at all times.....

Verdi Spumante:
I am such a HUGE fan of this inexpensive, yet deliciously sweet sparkling wine. So much so, that I keep a few bottles on chill..for me and for my friends :). Wines are really an acquired taste, so if you are like me and lean more towards things that will tickle your tongue and not make you pucker up - I think you'll appreciate and enjoy this varietal.
Sip it while you're fixing dinner, savor it in the bath with lots of bubbles and candlelight, enjoy it while you peck away at the keyboard of your computer, toast your celebrations in sweet style!
It comes in three delightful flavors - original, raspberry sparkletini and peach. Besides at $4.99 - $7.99 a bottle (depending on where you live), you can't beat the price!!!

Want more information on my Top Ten? Take a look at the links on the right!!

Why A Wedding Planner Is A Good Investment (Part 1)

And this will probably be an ongoing topic as I know for a fact that there are many good reasons to have someone like me on your nuptial celebration team!!!

I got an email from one of my clients - seems that there was an issue with the caterer that need to be straightened out. At the heart of this was the issue of money - so, off to the rescue I go! Turns out that the orginal contract we negotiated a while back, may not have been done so in the best interest of the vendor - they realized it and now wanted to up a few things. Word to the wise - never, ever try something like that with a client who has retained the services of a professional planner. We are not going to let you pass "go".

Yours truly got on the phone - and had a couple of "conversations". Bottom line for me - we have a signed and duly executed agreement on file - and we are sticking to it. The fact that you are now realizing that you didn't charge enough is not my issue - nor that of my clients. How did it end? The vendor agreed with what I stated and our pricing is where it should be. End of story.

Is the client happy? You bet! She and I spoke today - her words were this "I am so glad I have you, because that is not something I wanted to deal with". I agree - that 's what I am here for, that's why you retained me. Call me the bad cop, the hired gun...whatever. Can I make things magically appear and disappear? Make people bend to my will? Depends on who you ask :) Just know this - a great wedding planner can help you get through stuff that would otherwise be a proverbial pain in the behind. Our job is to make this journey as stressless as possible -and while we can't always make everything 100% A-OK, we do our darndest to achieve the closest thing to perfection as possible.

I know that there are folks out there who think people like me are a luxury - that they don't need us. Well, you are entitled to your opinion - and I respect that. BUT, I'm not your best friend who just planned her wedding and thought it was a blast...I'm not your Aunt Myra who always pulls together all of the family events and I'm not the sweet little lady at the church who has known you since you were 2. I am a professional - trained and able to ferret out stuff that most people don't even think about. I am a professional - well versed and very knowledgeable in regards to everything wedding. And lastly - I am a professional, paid to make sure that your "I Do's" are one of the most memorable moments in your life. I am your wedding planner - a veritable treasure trove of instinct, ability, creativity and style. And I am definitely, without a doubt, one of the best investments you'll ever make........

Friday, March 16, 2007

Enviro-Friendly Weddings

Going "green" has become a hot topic in the wedding industry as of late - so for those of you who are in the Los Angeles area, check out A Soolip Wedding's ultra chic, eco-conscious nuptial extravaganza this coming Sunday. Here are the details:

The Green Wedding
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Social Hollywood
6525 Sunset Bouleveard
Los Angeles, CA.
11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

This is a great way to see the latest in stylish, modern wedding trends AND help out in the fight to reclaim Mother Earth.......................

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rant Of The Day :(

You know - on most days, I am a fairly well balanced person. I am not the sort who gives in to ranting and raving - truly, it expends too much energy for me. Until today. This afternoon, to be exact.

A potential client of mine has contracted with a local venue to host her upcoming wedding and reception. During our initial consult, she mentioned that a fee was assessed for her use of the venue's outdoor area (the "garden") - and when I heard the amount (can you say four figures??), I was taken aback - simply because I am familiar with this location and I've never seen a garden there on property.

Soooooooo - my assistant, Robilyn and I took a little drive out to the venue - on the hunt for a "garden" that cost four figures to rent. When I arrived, I drove to where I was told the "garden" was located. I kept looking around for something else, because surely the back yard that I was looking at could not be the "garden" they touted and sold to this bride-to-be! *Sidebar - she has not toured this site, unfortunately - she went through all of the machinations with this facility prior to meeting with me. Discussion to follow*.

But seriously folks - it's a back yard. No landscaping of any sort, no potential of blooming florals, no type of tree coverage to shade guests from the unrelenting sun - nada. You got a plot of grass, a gazebo (I shudder when I think of that particular one - not pretty) along with your generic, I-can-get-these-from-my-local-discount-store-white resin-porch-chairs. That happen to be dirty and broken.

*Sigh*. I called her from the "garden" and told her what I saw. Now usually - I don't do this type of thing until a client is formally under contract with me. But as a responsible, caring planner - AND human being, there was no way I could not tell her. She and her fiance' are spending some $$ to host this party, it needs to work for them. I got a call from her a while ago, she was deeply appreciative of the fact that I even took time out of my schedule to look at the site. And she's formally contracting with my company to provide services for her special day.

Here's my "rant":
A) This venue should be ashamed of themselves for even offering something of this quality to anyone. Although I know that they probably don't give a foorah - I do.
B) This is a classic example of why you should talk with a professional wedding planning expert in the BEGINNING stages of the process. It's our job to help you look for the good, bad and ugly - to help you navigate the waters, 'cause they can be quite murky and very choppy.

I am going to do my level best to help her have a wonderful, memorable day - she and her beloved deserve it. But make no mistake, I will be their ally and advocate for the remainder of the planning process - and I don't play. If you've ever watched me on "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?", then you understand where I am coming from.......

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Body Beautiful

One of the things I hear a LOT of is brides wanting to "get in shape" for the big day. They have a vision of being slimmer, thinner (insert your own adjective here) so sliding into THE DRESS will be effortless. NEWSFLASH - it doesn't really work like that, not quite anyway. As someone who did the same exact thing when I got married over 13 years ago, I highly recommend a different outlook and process. We put so much effort into getting into that blasted gown - which, truth be told, will only be worn for 6-8 hours. We forget about life after the dress comes off. What is that life? It's the one you'll be sharing with your new husband, the one fraught with decisions, the everyday hustle of life and the one with - get this, no beaded, crinolined, bustled, lace embellished gown in sight. In most cases, the dress you fought with to wear - will be in closet, all packed away - only for you to gaze at on certain occasions.

So, what's a bride-to-be to do? Everyone (including all of the magazines, websites and gown shops) places so much emphasis on you gliding down the aisle to meet your beloved, a visually amazing dream in chiffon, satin....yada, yada. How about looking at getting fit as a lifestyle choice? How about sitting down and thinking carefully at the benefits of being in shape - and how that can transcend into your new life? Think about it - let's say you drop 25 pounds and that zipper just floats up, no problem. 2 months after you've said "I Do" - and you can't get the darned thing to even move. The problem? Life has set in and you are in the process of adjusting to be married. In college - they call it the "freshman 15" - for brides (and grooms!), I like to call it the "newlywed 20"!!

The decision to get in shape and stay there is an arduously hard one. I speak from experience. When people see my earlier episodes of "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?", they are seeing someone who weighed in 30 pounds heavier than I am now. And I gotta tell you - while television does add a few pounds, there is nothing like seeing yourself on the screen and thinking "wow - I have gotten fat". I used to be much smaller - but that was before work, 2 kids and marriage took over!!! So...I made a conscious decision to face my "issue", I started working with a personal trainer. That was by far, the very best decision I've made in a long time. Catherine is amazing....and she's very mindful of how her clients react to exercise. I'm not saying I love to work out now, but because of her - I now understand the science of fitness.

She's starting a bridal boot camp this spring - which should be very interesting. Being the inquisitive sort that I am, I told her to make sure that the participants understand that this is just the beginning of a very long road. The journey to the body beautiful has many twist, turns, forks and crossroads - and it's one that each of us has to make alone. But since you are about to say "I Do", you can actually have someone to coax you through the days when it's just rough, someone who will look at you and praise the new muscles that are starting to develop. And ladies - encourage your groom to do the same thing. Working out together is a great way to nurture your relationship - it's just one more thing you'll have in common.

My workout? I'm hanging in there :) This morning, as I was hoofing it on the elliptical trainer, I looked up and caught a vision of my upper body - working the heck out of those handles on the machine. And I saw trapezoids, biceps.....things that I never thought possible. I look much different now than 1 year ago when I started working with Catherine and at 45, I'm trying to have the best body possible, so I can sail gracefully into my 50's, 60's and beyond. Here's to keeping my ship on course......

Friday, March 9, 2007

Back In Time

I just returned from "Unity Day" at my alma mater - Western High School in Baltimore, MD. This amazing bastion of academia has the distinction of being the oldest all-girl public high school in the country - 163 years and still going...

A lot of who I am today harkens back to my years spent in the halls of Western High. This was a place where the notion of "girl power" was evident and practiced long before it was popular. We were encouraged, challenged and given the mission to be accomplished, stellar, powerful, educated women who would take on the world and give some back in the process. As I walked the halls today, headed towards the auditorium for the assembly - it was as if I traveled back 28 years to the time when I was a teenager, lugging the heavy history books, prepping for the SAT's, deciding who my date would be for the prom :) And during that moment of "travel", I realized just how far I had come - and what a tremendous influence Western High had been on me.

Many of my classmates have gone on to be successful in the areas of entertainment, business, politics and entrepreneurship. But we all still remember what it was like to be 15, 16, & 17 - with the world out there, waiting for us to make our mark on it. I had a chance - as many of my fellow alumnae did, to speak with the current crop of ladies who make up the student population at Western. I told a few jokes..but what I really wanted to do was inform and empower them with the notion of being the "best". Being the best means you always, without a doubt, do all that's within your power to make things happen - and make them happen at a level of excellence. I encouraged them to be free thinkers, to understand that at this point in their lives - they have the opportunity to begin the manifesto of their existence, to determine the pattern and direction of their own personal destiny.

Today - I took a few steps back in time and I saw the young girl who literally didn't know what her life was going to be like - but she knew that it would be something special. I stood by my old locker on the first floor (yes - I still remember the #1092!) and I touched the handle - at that moment, I was literally flooded with so many memories - good and bad. When I stepped away, I brought myself back into this moment and I smiled. The road traveled from Western High School to where I am now has been an exhilirating, frustrating, amazing, angry, suspenseful, paralyzing - but incredible journey. My years spent in those hallowed halls helped to shape the woman I am now - and I wish my "little sisters" who are just beginning their quest, all of the luck in the world........

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

As Seen On TV.....

There's a new show on Fox Television called "The Wedding Bells" whose first episode aired this evening. Well, since I am a wedding planner and this series is about wedding planners - I decided to have a "looky-look" to see how my comrades in arms were portrayed...

Can I just say "wow"? Um, first off - and let me make this perfectly clear, that show is fiction. Pure and simple. We (and this applies to most of the professional planners I know) don't exhibit behaviors that were shown tonight. Trust me on this one. We don't (take your pick):

1) Ask men in the bridal party by a "show of hands" who wants to sleep with us
2) We don't sabotage the wedding ceremony for a bribe of...$500
3) You won't catch of us chasing anyone down the street, driveway or road
4) And even though folks can "take us there", we don't:
Tell our clients off. Period. Flat out.

Now, I know that it's just television - but I don't think this is a good case of art imitating life. Do we work hard? Yes, indeedy!! Do we get pulled into our client's lives - the good, the bad and the ugly of it all? More than you will ever know. But at the end of the day - it's about making sure that our brides and grooms have the most amazing, wonderful event ever - which happens to be their wedding. We want to see the smiles, the laughter, the tears - actually, that's about the only part of the show that was "right". There was a part at the end, where the bride and groom were dancing and full of joy........That's also before the Cherries Jubilee "lit" the bride up......and she ended up showing her "private parts"...her words, not mine :)

So...take it all with a grain of salt, and know that in a day's work for a wedding planner - it's safe to say that it ain't like it is on television...................

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Channel Magazine

is a new publication available in the Baltimore metro area. And they featured me in an article for the "love issue"! I was tickled for the opportunity - and the story turned out wonderfully. Channel Magazine is an upscale publication that targets African-American families, singles and professionals with up-to-the-minute stories, features and information for our busy lifestyles.

I went to a "magazine distribution" event at Vino 100 last night (see previous post) and was warmly greeted by the publisher, Antoine Friend and the editor-in-chief, Lorna Hanley. They were both present when we did the photo shoot for the story layout and made that process so easy and enjoyable for me - the time literally flew by!

Many thanks to Antoine and Lorna - as well as my stylist, the wonderfully talented Carla Williams of Immaculate Impresssions. who did (and always does) a smokin' job with my hair and makeup! To see the article, visit and download the February issue. I'm on page 37!!!!!!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Marriage - is a lot of work.

I'm in the business of creating wonderful, magical, awe-inspiring wedding events. I am tasked with making everything just so, perfect, flawless, seamless. But, behind all of the beauty that is a nuptial celebration, the core factor remains. You are getting married - saying "I do" to a person, hopefully to be with them for the rest of your lives.

In my travels today - I spotted an elderly couple in the grocery store, they had to be in their 80's (I think). They were in the produce section, picking out apples - and I watched them as they debated red vs. green. There was a certain "flow" to their conversation - I got the feeling that the wife was a feisty something when she was younger and while she may have been up in years, you could still see the "fire" in her eyes. They decided on their fruit, placed it in the basket and started to move down the aisle. And as they did so, I noticed them helping each other manuever the grocery cart and the husband placed his hand over hers as she held on to the handle. There was something about that simple gesture that spoke volumes to me. For when he did that, she looked at him and smiled. That smile said so kinda went through the years. Back to the first time he saw her - and smiled. Rewinding time to the day she laid eyes upon him - and smiled.....

I watched them walk slowly down the aisle and the romantic in me just had to I followed them. They were at the section where eggs and butter are located - I walked up to them and said "Excuse me" - they both turned in unison to look where the voice came from. I smiled and said "I don't mean to be forward or anything like that, but I noticed the two of you in the produce aisle and was wondering - how long have you been married? You seem to be so in tune with each other". The husband looked at me and got the biggest grin on his face - and replied, "we've been married 62 years". That just blew me away!! "Sixty two years?" I said , "Goodness - I couldn't even get through 13!!". He leaned in a bit closer and said, "Honey - marriage is hard work, it can be a chore at times....believe me." I noticed that his wife hadn't said much - actually she hadn't uttered a word. She was looking at me quite intently - and then said, "He's right - it's hard, hard work and not everyone is cut out for it. But we managed to get through the good and the bad, just like the reverend said - for better or for worse".

They were such a handsome couple - and obviously still very much in love. When she talked, he tilted his head towards her, and vice versa. There was something about the way he looked at her that simply transcended the years they've spent together - I could tell that he didn't see the woman with the snow white hair (it was absolutely gorgeous - I hope mine will look like that!!) or the wrinkled fingers..he saw the woman he fell in love with, 60 some-odd years ago. And she didn't hear the slightly shaky voice..she heard that booming baritone that made her heart beat a little faster when he came a-callin'.

I said "I didn't mean to interrupt your shopping, but I was curious. It's really nice to see a couple who've been together for so see love that has lasted a while." I told them what I did for a living..and they both were unanimous in saying that I should tell "those young people" that marriage requires a big effort on both parts - that it takes time and that you have to trust each other, always. And that you have to be able to love - without reservation or hesitation.

I wished them a good day and made my way down the aisle. As I was turning the corner, I looked back and saw them again - deciding what to buy. Watching them brought it all home for me - while all of the "hoopla" that goes into the planning of a wedding is fine, it's not the end all to end all. Being able to live and love together for over a 1/2 such an awesome
accomplishment. But knowing that you have to hunker down and really, truly "work " at being much more important. all of you who are walking down that path towards matrimonial bliss (and those of you who've already made the journey) - it's about substance, about diligence and it's going to be hard. But so is anything worth having.......................

Vino 100

is my newest "discovery"! I visited this quaint wine emporium on yesterday evening for a wine tasting/magazine distribution event and WOW is all I can say! While Vino 100 is a franchised operation, the owners of this particular establishment - Tim & Sharon Patton, really make you feel at home.

I'll admit it - I know a little, teeny something about wine. But in my profession - knowledge is power, so I'm really trying to up my game when it comes to "everything of the grape". Vino 100 offers at least 100 varieties of wine for $25 or less...which is right up my alley! I know that there are vintages out there which cost an arm, leg and the rights to your firstborn.....but I don't necessarily need all of that :) I want a good wine which tastes great and is appealing to my "baby" tastebuds......

I kinda nailed down last night that I prefer a sweeter wine.....dry flavorings do nothing for me. I sampled a wonderful sparkling wine called "Moscato diAsti" - LOVED it. So much so, that it's now in my fridge, waiting for me to pop it open. The cost? $12. Vino 100 also has a nice selection of wine accessories (saw some cute wine charms that I'm gonna go back and purchase), as well as other gourmet "condiments" like flavored olive oils and mustards. I also bought a lime & roased chile mustard by Olivier Napa Valley..which I plan on experimenting with this weekend. I'm thinking it will be yummy on some grilled chicken or maybe sea bass.........

So - if you are in the Owings Mills area of Baltimore, take a moment out to visit Vino 100. Their website is .....