Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Early Bird Catches The Worm....

is an old, old saying I'm sure many of you have heard - and said!, that expression was proven to be a wonderful wedding held earlier this morning. As a planner - I must say that I'm truly a fan of daytime nuptial celebrations. Don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong with dancing the night away, but saying "I Do" when the day is in it's beginnings..has a certain quality to it.

For one - you (generally meaning the bride, groom, wedding party and guests) are perky (well, after a couple of cups of Starbucks - some of you may be!), bright eyed (refer to that Starbucks thing again) and bushy-tailed.....which can bring a wonderful energy to everything!! Yes - I know that you have to get up early...but you do that anyway, right? Just think - let's say you exchange vows at 10 or 11 a.m - enjoy the company of your family and friends for a couple of hours, have great food, some good music....and by the afternoon, everyone has had the chance to eat, drink (more on that in a minute) and make merry with you and your beloved.....

That's exactly what happened today for my latest couple who jumped the broom into the land of matrimony! Candice & Mark hosted a fabulous morning wedding for 125 of their nearest and dearest at one of Maryland's beautiful mansions - the garden, complete with a sparkling water fountain, was the backdrop of their event. The sun was shining while some of the local animals (seriously - like Bambi and Thumper!) stood on the sidelines of the forest to watch them pledge everlasting love and committment to each other. When the ceremony was complete, everyone adjourned inside to a sumptuous BRUNCH. And when I say sumptuous - I mean it. On that menu were no less than 10 items for guests to enjoy - including omelet & waffle stations, country ham, marinated shrimp served up fiesta style in a martini glass, applewood smoked bacon, southern fried chicken, potaoes served 2 ways, salads, sweets - ahhh..the guests were just THRILLED with all of the delectable choices spread out in front of them. And judging by how many times I saw folks amble up to the stations...I'm thinking that not one soul left hungry!

What's the point to all of this? The bride and groom opted to have an event that was gastronomically fulfilling, elegant, warm....and dollar saving!!! In essence, the guests received 2 meals for one - breakfast and lunch. Because it was an early-day wedding, the bar was minimal - save the yummy tropical mimosas made with your choice of Verdi (on my Top 10 list!) spumante, a thirst quenching assortment of juices, sparkling waters and sodas rounded out the beverage options. Alcohol is the number one way to spike up your per-person cost...and this event really helped the couple save TONS. Let's face it - at noon, most folks aren't really going to want to hit the Jack Daniels.........

The guests enjoyed the festivities, the bride and groom were able to spend time with their guests - and by early afternoon, Candice and Mark were on their way to beginning a much awaited honeymoon! This early day shindig was a great way for everyone to celebrate such a happy occasion, yet have time left in the day to catch up with each other or just go home and chill....

So - don't let your fear of the sunrise squash the possibility of having a morning wedding! You may be pleasantly surprised at how being a part of those early rays of light - can offer a simply wonderful alternative to the tried and true nightime bash, while saving you some serious dollars in the process......

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fashionable Tips For Wedding Guests

As I am neck deep in wedding season - I've noticed a few interesting fashion "occurences" that I'd like to comment on. Mind you, while these "observations" are clearly my would be prudent to note that most fashion experts pretty much feel the same way....

1) Be mindful of the "dress code" for a wedding:
If the event is being held at 12 noon - ditch the sequinned dresses and tuxedos. Such attire is appropriate for a formal, evening bash. I don't care what the tux rental shop guy tells you - white tie and tails are for after 6 p.m.!!!! Ditto for moms - that beautiful, flowing chiffon creation you've got your eye on? Great for dancing the "night" away, not sipping on mimosas at 11 a.m.

2) Know Where You Are Going:
Wedding in a house of worship? Dress appropriately. Ladies - while strapless, halter or skin revealing dresses may be pretty, you might want to consider taking a light shawl or coverup to wear in the church or temple. Once you've left the ceremony - whip it off and get your party on!

Gentlemen - you are not off the hook, either. Unless otherwise specified within the invitation that it's a casual event - leave the t-shirts, jeans, leisure outfits and sneakers home in the closet. Why not pull out that nice, dark suit and crisp shirt, along with the cufflinks and well polished shoes? This is one of those times where being a sharp dressed man is a very good thing.

3) Sunglasses:
Belong on OUTDOORS. If the wedding is being held in a garden during the afternoon - by all means, sport the shades and don't forget the sunscreen! But if you are inside - take the specs off. The only celebrities at this party are the bride and groom....

4) Communication accessories:
This means cell phones and other assorted electronic sundries. On 99% of programs I create for my clients, there's this little sentence: "Please mute or turn off all personal communication devices". Nothing like listening to the bride and groom recite their vows only to hear "Party Like A Rock Star" (or some other ringtone) blazing out...but what's worse? The recipient answering with "I'm in a wedding - hold on".

5) The wearing of white:
Is for the bride ONLY. Unless she and her groom have decided to do a "snowball" or "white-out" affair where everyone wears this color....the rest of you need to check your outfits before leaving home. Let's face it - she's been planning this for a minute, and in that respect - honor her role as the bride.....the only woman in the place wearing white. Trust me - you won't be able to miss her, she'll be the one with the dazzling smile on her face :)

Pet Peeve #2

Would be people who R.S.V.P to a wedding - but don't show up!

Just a small f.y.i. for those persons who do that - receptions cost money!!! When you tell the bride and groom that you will be in attendance to celebrate with them, they tell the caterer, who then charges them accordingly - PER PERSON, for all of the folks that are supposed to be in the house. And guess what? They can't get a "refund" for NO SHOWS!!!

I understand that stuff happens - heck, life is a constantly changing vista. But, please - for the sake of that couple who's shelled out some dollar bills for you to come and be with them, be a courteous and responsible guest and let them know (even if it's the night before) that for whatever emergency reason - you can't make it. As a wedding planner - I absolutely cringe when I see empty tables!! I always feel horrible for the couple, as I know that they've taken so much time and effort to pull together a wonderful time for their guests - and they've got "no shows". If the reception was $75 per person and you have 20 people who don't attend - well, you do the math.........

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Because I LOVE It!!

That's why I do - what I do! I left a really, really good corporate gig over 10 years ago to pursue my dream...intrinsically, I knew that was the move I had to make in order to fulfill my own personal destiny. You should have heard some of the comments folks (who in their own minds - meant well!) made to me about doing that!! But I knew in my heart and soul that I was being led down this road - so I struck out on faith and marched on.

You know what? That was one of the smartest moves I've ever made in my life! It's kinda hard to explain to people the extreme joy and passion that I have for my calling - I think it's best exemplified in my work and how folks react to it. I have always said - and will continue to say, in order to be good in this business - you gotta have much LOVE for it. You have to want to continue in the imaginative quest, to immerse yourself so deeply in all the sectors that relate to the field, to feel the incredible rush when an event comes off so well...I liken that "rush" to a surge of adrenaline - when it hits me, I'm all guns blazin'!!!! As one of my assistants puts it - we get into the "zone", where all we know and all we do is focused on making stuff happen.

But at the end of the proverbial "day" - I love being able to help brides and grooms realize their love for each other in a very public way. Seeing the looks on their faces as they say "I Do", that first kiss, the looks that they give each other all a major, major thing for me. I'll give you the analogy I like most...I'm like a midwife - there with you during labor (the actual planning process), right in the room at delivery (when you take those vows) and once the "birth" of your marriage has occurred - I'm there with you to celebrate the "glow" and joy of this new chapter in your life...pretty powerful, don't you think???

Can You Make It Go "WOW"??????

I get asked that question a zajillion times - and my answer is pretty much always the same: Yes.
But my definition of "wow" and yours....may be a smidge different :) For those of you that have watched my episodes on "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?" - I have to tell you that making those events come to life is no small feat. It requires a lot of brain power - and trust me when I say that what you see, that finished product - is probably not what I started out with.

To me - making an event pop out of the woodwork requires some sleuthing on my part, I have to play "design detective" and ferret out from a client the things or situations that move them. It could be something as simple as a song or more intense like an emotion - whatever the case, that's the initial parameter I try to work with.

All that other "stuff", the lighting, linens, florals - they are a part of the big picture. I really do consider all of my creations to be sensual in nature in that I do my darndest to capture our 5 senses into the overall flow of a celebration. Hey - anyone can put a white tablecloth and napkins out and call it a day.....but for me, I prefer to let you and your guests actually feel the vibe you are trying to show off. That's my definition of the "wow factor"...and so far, so good :)

Everything In Moderation

I have come to learn that when most brides get engaged (mind you - this is just my own observation!), they want to jump out of the gate and ramp up the wedding planning process. Actually - depending on where you live & what time of year you want to be wed, securing your venues is in your best interest because the "popular" places book very quickly. But what about the rest of the things you'll need to pull off your celebration? My advice - start small and work towards big.

Line items such as attire, invites and favors....believe it or not - can wait a minute. Since the designers of bridal attire have two seasons, you can take a breath and look around to see what you like - and order your dress about 6 months out. Invitations and favors kinda work the same way - you need to really ascertain who's coming and define the guest list BEFORE you even look at anything paper related. Ditto on favors.......

Planning a wedding is amazing - and stressfully tedious at times, but if you remember to keep everything in perspective and not try to do it all in the'd be surprised at how much simpler the process will be.........

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ice, Ice, Baby......

Forgive me for the Vanilla Ice reference - but it's highly appropriate for this post! I had a chance to do a fabu ice bar at a reception this weekend and just as I had promised the bride and groom, it was an absolute HIT with all of the guests. They kept that bar hopping and popping all night long! With double luges and 7 (yes, seven) martinis to choose from - what's not to like???

Having a signature drink is almost the norm now at most receptions - but it's how you serve it up that will make all of the difference in the world. As I told one of the vendors at the event - "it's all about the details", cheers!!!!!!!

Ultra Chic Lounges

So...I am recovering and recouperating from my rounds of weddings this weekend - many congratulations go out to Sarah Rosensteen & Rob McCracken along with Mobola Kadiri & Joe Kingston as they said their respective "I Do's" and headed off into the land of matrimony!

I wanted to share some cool pics from Sarah & Rob's celebration - because I created a lounge for their guests during the cocktail hour. While the lounge effect isn't necessary a new thing - it's a growing trend at many wedding receptions. It gives your guests a nice place to chill out, hang out and enjoy wonderful drinks, tasty noshes and fabulous conversation - which to be perfectly honest, is what can define the mood and ambiance of your party.

Many thanks go out to Dave Fritz and the fine folks at Cort Event Furnishings for the wonderful "Diva" line of white leather ottomans, benches and couches. Yes - it's called "Diva", appropriate - don't you think? :)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Associated Black Charities

I was asked to help out this wonderful group during their annual fundraising gala. A guest at a wedding I planned 3 years ago recommended me to them - and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been of assistance. being the resourceful chica that I am - I came up with the idea or concept of "Sponsor's Row". There are a few, select companies and corporations who graciously donate significant dollars to this group's cause - so I thought it would be a good idea to honor them with special seating. Good idea is not the word - as it turns out, it was a FABULOUS idea!!

The sponsor's loved it - the other attendees loved it and it was the talk of the evening! Everyone wanted to know how they could sit at one of those "pretty tables" and the answer was quite simple - give $$$$!!! I think that I've started something for this group - and I'm thinking that they'll repeat it at next year's gala. It was truly beautiful and I had a blast dreaming it up and executing it to perfection. Many thanks go to the following folks for helping me bring the dream to life:

Linens & Specialty Rentals
Select Event Rentals

Floral Design
Richardson's Flowers & Gifts

Custom Table Signage & Calligraphy
Karron Minor
Diamond Minor Designs

And, I've got to give some big "shout outs" to my team of dedicated interns who tirelessly worked with me on that event to make things happen - ladies, you know I love you!! Many thanks to Denise McCormick, Hazel Woodson, De'Pree Hugh, Bridgette Crawford, Sheris Hunt and Tia Paul for being on point and fabulous!
P.S. Double shout-out to Bridgette for the photos in this post!

Roller Coaster Weekend

Is probably the best way to describe the past couple of days. My son graduated from high school on Saturday, I did some design work for a very large charity gala that same night and to cap it off, we had a graduation party for my son on yesterday afternoon. I think that maybe I had a total of 8 hours of sleep over a period of 2 days. And I'm exhausted right about now :)
I made it my business to take today (Monday) off....I've got 2 weddings coming up on Saturday and I'm going to need that energy!

Sidebar - the graduation was one of the most memorable moments in my life. I was so proud of him and I cried. Not a whole bunch, not uncontrollable sobs - but tears that just flowed down my face. It started on Thursday afternoon when he brought his cap and gown home - I hung it up on the door in my office for some reason, and looking at it made me realize that his time was finally here. I was good on Friday - but when I woke up on Saturday, that was it! As he walked down the stairs in our home, dressed so neatly and handsome - my mind flew back 18 years as I brought him home from the hospital, with so many wishes and dreams for his young life.

I was sitting on the aisle at the commencement and I got to see him as he processed down to his seat. He saw me with the camera and stopped for a moment so I could take his picture - and he had the BIGGEST grin on his face! When he came off the stage from getting his diploma, he came back to his seat and turned around looking for me - luckily, I was sitting 4 rows behind him. When his eyes met mine, he held up the diploma and smiled again - and I took another picture. I watched with pride when the principal asked the class to stand and switch their tassels to the opposite side - and when she made the statement, "Ladies & gentlemen, may I present to you the graduated class of 2007", I lost it - for a minute and sobbed big, heaving tears. What a day that was for me - and for him.

I'll post pictures as they become available.....

Another "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?" Update

So.................looks like my latest installment will be airing on June 12th at 10 p.m. Check it out if you can!!!!!!

When People Don't RSVP....

As a wedding planner - one of my pet PEEVES is when folks don't bother to respond to the invitation a couple has sent for their event. I mean - let's be for real, shall we??

If someone takes the time and effort to think about YOU and put YOU on their guest list, and pay good money for YOU to attend their wedding so YOU can eat, drink and be merry - don't YOU think that YOU can take a minute out of your busy schedule to simply check off "yes" or "no" on the pretty card, place it back in the envelope (that does have a stamp on it) and drop it in the mail, by the deadline specified? Is it that hard? Is it really rocket science to complete this small, but highly important task?

Okay - I know we are all busy, but weddings are not cheap. The bride and groom are exerting much effort into carefully crafting a group of guests that they wish to share this day with. Along with that "crafting", comes the financial portion - which generally revolves around the reception. Speaking as the planner - I NEED to know who's coming, and who's not. Because in order for me to make it pretty - there are certain factors where numbers come into play. And since the per-person cost is averaging around $70 minimum (in the Baltimore area), the bride and groom need to know so they can govern themselves and their checkbooks accordingly.

To all of you who do the right thing and send back your responses in the allotted time period - let me say "Thank You!!".

But, for those of you who think that the couple will somehow "magically" know that you plan on attending, just because they "know" you...think again -they are not psychic mind readers who can conjure up your thought processes. And - there are some folks out there who think that a phone call to the bride or groom's (or parent's) voice mail on the morning of the wedding is a sufficient response. Newsflash - it ain't!!!!!!

So when you show up at the reception and your name is not on the "list", don't get upset. And please, don't beat up (or try to) myself or my staff because you are not listed. See - that's why you send back that little card which comes in the you can be accounted for! Being rude or impolite to me will get you absolutely nowhere..actually, no - that's wrong. For 99% of my clients, they have given me authority to only seat and accomodate those persons whose names reside on the guest list...the rest of you, well - that's a "no can do". So...being rude to me will, indeed, actually get you "somewhere"..outside of the door looking in.

And please understand this - I'm really a nice person. I just don't like seeing my couples being slammed and sideswiped by inconsiderate people. I'm protective of my brides and grooms - and they know that. This is their special day - which they've carefully crafted to be memorable. Folks who just decide to "show up"...are not a part of the vision.

Okay....I'm off my soapbox - for now.

Wedding Season

is truly upon us!! One of the main reasons I haven't been able to blog as much as I wanted to is because I'm literally inudated with weddings. Back to back, front to front, my existence right now is truly centered upon making sure that my brides and grooms get down the aisle in style and celebrate like nobody's business!!!

I want to extend my congratulations and heartfelt "thank you's " to the following couples who most graciously allowed myself and my fabulous team to be a small part of their wedding events:

Mr. & Mrs. Bernard and Doreen Hogans
April 7, 2007

Mr. & Mrs. Marc and Tia Diggs
May 5, 2007

Mr. & Mrs. Shannon and Takeitha Lawson
May 12, 2007

AND congrats go out to these couples whose special day is right on the horizon!!!
Sarah Rosensteen & Rob McCracken
June 9, 2007

Mobola Kadiri & Joe Kingston
June 9, 2007

Neshelle Nelson & Charles Cortez
June 23, 2007

Candice Smith & Mark Wilkerson
June 30, 2007

Tameka Murdock & Kevin Chatmon
July 7, 2007

Kay Patterson & Tom Shaw
July 7, 2007

Truly - it has been a pleasure working with all of these wonderful couples in helping to bring their wedding to life!!!

The DIVA Returneth...

back to blogging - that is! Ah....things have been soooooo busy as of late and I've been remiss in my blogging responsibilities! I sincerely apologize - trust me, I've got plenty of stories, pictures, observations to share with all of you..give me a minute and I'll be writing at warp speed!!!!!