Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wedding Trends for 2012

At the beginning of every year all of the wedding magazines, blogs, and websites come out with their take on wedding trends for the upcoming year.  While many are spot on with their predictions for the coming year, there are also many that I read and just think to myself, "They have got to be kidding!"

Being in the thick of it, I think I have a pretty good perspective on what you can expect to see in the 2012 wedding season.  I thought now is a good time to give you my take on 2012 wedding trends and to give you links to other resources that I think offer a good perspective as well.  Here are my predictions for the top trends of 2012.

1. Vintage is in.  Brides see this look as simple, but romantic.  With decor, I like to convey the vintage look with apothecary jars and floral that gives you the feel it has just been picked from the garden.  Simple, beautiful and definitely romantic.

2. Tied to the vintage feel is the extensive use of lace.  This clearly started with Kate Middleton's dress at the royal wedding, and is continuing into 2012.  Bridal gowns are using more lace and the look is even carrying into wedding cakes and decor.  Perfect examples can be found at TheKnot.com.

3. Bouquets will also feature a more natural, textured look, a belief that is echoed by the Washington Post.  Classic orange, coral and purple are being combined with natural elements to give bouquets a garden feel.

4. Add a pop of color.  Brides are moving toward adding color to the decor as opposed to all white or ivory.  Peach, tangerine, and raspberry are very popular as colors that are added to wedding centerpieces and bouquets.

5. With all of the options for invitations there has been a shift toward more personalized invitations that offer more character than the traditional invitation.  There is also more use of texture that helps give an invitation that unique look and feel.

6. Smaller is better.  There is definitely a trend toward smaller weddings and, with the continued uncertainty in the economy, it makes sense.  Couples I speak with want to have a beautiful wedding but need to find a way to cut cost.  The easiest way to cut costs is to cut the guest list.  You can still have the wedding of your dreams without the big price tag.

7. Another change in the reception is the move away from a formal, seated dinner to a cocktail style reception.  Of course, couples still want to make sure their guests are fed so they are combining substantial passed hors d'oeuvres with food stations.  The result is a more casual wedding that invites guest to mingle with each other.

In the end, remember it is not about any trend, but rather a special day for the Bride and Groom that reflects their personality and love for each other.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Brides Magazine - How to plan a wedding and still have a life

I want to share a great article in the new issue of Brides Magazine.  It is in the March 2012 issue currently on news stands.

I always say that it is important to have fun when planning your wedding.  It should not be a difficult or stressful time.  It should be a great experience leading up to the most important day in your life.  Check out the article where I, along with a couple of my planning colleagues, give suggestions on how to avoid stress and have a great experience with the planning process.  

I hope you all find this useful and...


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Should Wedding Planners and Designers be wary of Pinterest?

 Like Facebook and Twitter, I recently jumped on the latest internet craze, Pinterest!  Fellow planners, designers and even clients were all raving about what an amazing tool Pinterest is.  In short, it allows us creative types an outlet to show the world the things we love.

Brides use it because it allows them the ability to "pin" ideas they can later show their planner, designer, mother and friends.  Designers and planners use it because it allows them to archive fabulous ideas for later.  Ot it allows them to "sell" their ideas to their clients.

For both sides it is a win - win!

Or is it?

While skimming through Twitter yesterday, I happened on a tweet from someone I follow.  Her tweets are to the point, she knows what she's talking about when it comes to social media and how it can affect your business.  So, when @bevisible, aka Betsy Kent, tweeted the following, I took notice:

"Pinterest's Terms of Service: have you read them?  Terms of Service"

Honestly, I was in such a hurry that I didn't carefully read the terms of their agreement.  So I went to the article (you can too - just click the link above) for the International Business Times Tech & Trend and it carefully points out two very scary clauses in Pinterest's terms agreement that immediately made me reconsider joining the site.

In essence, you must own the content you pin, or you must have permission from the person who owns the content, to pin it.  It further states that once an item is pinned on the site, Pinterest or its creators then own the content which they can then sell and make a profit from.  Basically, they hold themselves harmless of any copyright infringement...You, the pinner, are responsible if you break the law by not seeking permission, and better yet, you cannot profit from the pin, only Pinterest can.

This raised a HUGE red flag for me because as I continue to build my brand, there is no way I am going to give someone else the right to profit from my images and ideas.  It's that simple.

So I caution my fellow designers, planners and even brides from "pinning" until Pinterest can rework their agreement whereby it works for everyone, not just the site.

Until next time -


Planning an Oscar Party?

I love the Oscars and think it is great to get together with friends to watch the Awards.  If you are like me you are always looking for new ideas to make the party unique.

If you need some new ideas for your Oscar party tune in to Fox Live today at 12:45PM to get my ideas about  food and cocktails for this year's awards.  You can also find my ideas at Celebrations.com.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wedding at The Pierre

I was looking back at the archives of my favorite weddings and realized that I have never blogged about one of my very favorites, Helena and Svet's fabulous nuptuals at The Pierre, an iconic New York hotel.  I had a great time planning the wedding with Helena, and we added so many special touches that created a beautiful and meaningful celebration.

I have mentioned before that I love planning and designing weddings where I have the opportunity to blend cultures.  In this case, Svet is Serbian and Helena is Cuban.  It is certainly a mix of two very different cultures that really made me put my thinking cap on when planning this wedding.

The day began with a ceremony at The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in New York City.  This is a beautiful old church and set the stage for many traditional Serbian customs to be carried through the wedding.  Following the traditional ceremony the Bride and Groom were greated with a hail of Flutter Fetti as they exited the church.

The Bride wanted an elegant wedding yet wanted to have fun and add some non traditional elements.  One of these was the New York Checker Cab that they chose to get them from the Ceremony to the Reception.  Rather than using a standard limousine, we contacted Silver Star Limousine to use an original Checker Cab instead.

The elegance of The Pierre created the perfect backdrop for Helena as she entered in the first of her gowns for the evening..

As guests entered the spectacular ballroom they were wowed by the stunning floral display consisting primarily of blown open casablanca lilies, calla lilies, orchids and roses in the colors of white and pink. The arrangements were accented with crystals and the tables had alternating high and low arrangements to create a flow in the room.  Additionally, I used a combination of long and round tables as part of the overall design.  To give the room and the arrangements the perfect glow, Frost Productions was brought in to handle the lighting and Fred Marcus Photography was hired to capture all of the special moments.

While guests dined on an incredible meal they were entertained by Synergy, a combination of a DJ and live entertainers, provided by On the Move Entertainment.  In addition to Synergy, guests were treated to a traditional Serbian band which really motivated the guests.

To top off the evening was the perfect wedding cake designed by the amazing Sylvia Weinstock.  I worked with Sylvia to incorporate my inspiration for the event design into the cake and the result was nothing short of amazing.  See for yourself.

It was so exciting to see how beautiful the end result was and to see how happy Helena and Svet were with everything about the wedding.  It was a perfect day and an amazing couple.

Until next time...


Monday, February 20, 2012

The Knot Real Weddings

I am so excited to be featured in Spring / Summer 2012 issue of the Knot Magazine

If you have a chance to pick-up the magazine just turn to page 110 to see the photos by Lindsay Flanagan of this beautiful Winter wedding that took place in the ballroom of the W Union Square Hotel.  Elizabeth and Benny were a pleasure to work with and we are excited that the Knot chose their wedding to feature in the magazine.

Until our next featured wedding...

Friday, February 17, 2012

40 and Fabulous

Your birthday only comes once a year - a great excuse to celebrate with family and friends over bottles of wine, tasty hors d'oeuvres and, of course, decadent decor!  For Andrew's 40th birthday, we headed to Aretsky's Patroon, a classic restaurant on the East side of Manhattan with event space that was perfect for this party.  I also must say that their staff and food were exceptional.

Guests started with a lively cocktail hour with great wine, cocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres before moving into the spacious dining room that was decorated with beautiful yet masculine arrangements. 

Since the birthday boy is a wine afficianado, and loves the Sonoma California wine region, we added a special twist to the decor by nestling a wine bottle on top of each arrangement that also had the table number.

The wine/champagne theme was not missing a beat that night!  At the center of attention was the 3D champagne bucket cake designed by the creative Pink Cake Box.  It was complete with black and white fondant streamers and labels of only the very best bubbly brands and featuring vintages from the year of the birthday boy's birth.  The silver and black color palate complimented the theme for the evening that went back all the way to the Save the Date and Invitations, all of which were designed by Alpine Creative Group.

The ice cubes and bottle were solely made of poured sugar - who knew!  These days, with cake design, the sky's the limit.

A party isn't complete without great entertainment - something that captivates the crowd.  Laughing, singing, dancing...whatever works!  For this celebration it was a trio of amazing Broadway performers who we brought in to entertain the crowd.  The beautiful Bianca Marroquin, Chicago's "Roxie" on Broadway, lit up the room with her song/dance combination.

Michael Marcotte, a tenor with the New York City Opera, serenaded the guests and, accompanying both performers was the talented Broadway performer, Dan Miccichi.  All of their performances were captured on camera by Jen at Fifth Avenue Digital who always does such a great job.

All of the special touches, and warm wishes of family and friends who traveled from around the country for Andrew's birthday, created so many lasting memories.  As guests left, we offered them a thank you gift with the strawberry / champagne flavored birthday cake and classic New York black & white cookies.  Who doesn't love a little treat on the way home.

A happy birthday to Andrew - thanks for letting us celebrate your 40th!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Are Facebook and Twitter the best ways to announce your Engagement?

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are fabulous for getting your message across en masse.  So when you're newly engaged should you use these online tools to announce it to the world?  I think not....and here's why:

1. - Think about who follows you on Facebook or Twitter.
Will they be invited to the wedding?  If not, then you could potentially hurt feelings.  Also, do you really know who your Twitter followers are?  Chances are your don't.  So, just like you wouldn't invite every Tom, Dick or Harry you meet on the street, you shouldn't send out an announcement about your engagement to people you don't know.  Besides, something this precious is meant to be shared with only those you intend to invite to the wedding.

2. - Both Facebook and Twitter were developed to create quick, informative messages to those that follow you.  Although quick, it's also very impersonal.  For example, a friend of mine recently made the mistake of telling a friend she was pregnant before she was able to connect with her parents.  The friend she told then posted on Facebook that she was so excited for her.... Can you guess how her parents found out the special news?  Although she took precautions, her loud mouthed friend didn't, and thus ruined the special moment between her and her parents that she can never get back.

3. - Should you mail an announcement or send one via email?
I tend do be an old fashioned guy and, if you ask most seasoned planners, we will all say the same thing...Mail it!  Plain and simple, it's proper etiquette.  I don't know about you, but personally I enjoy getting something other than a bill or solicitations in the mail.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy...And if you are worried about the expense of creating and mailing a wedding announcement, don't!  There are plenty of fabulous on line sites that have amazing finds such as FineStationery.com.  They have pages and pages of beautifully designed wedding announcements, wedding invitations, save the dates and much more.  They even have a fabulous team of people you can call and speak to if you get stumped.  So, before you say no to mailing an announcement, check them out.

4. - Should I blog about my wedding planning experience?
If you have the time to write, and you feel you are going to help others who are going through the same experience as you are, then I say yes.  If you are going to use that "forum" to complain, be a Bridezilla, or trash the wedding professionals, then I say no, you shouldn't.  There are plenty of amazing wedding blogs out there that were started by brides such as yourself and they have evolved into extremely informative tools.  But, there are also plenty of blogs out there that , honestly, I can't respect due to the lack of information, tone and content.  I say only write the blog if you can update it at least once a week.  You need to offer a take away; whether it be advice, great resources, or even mistakes you have made.  Also, you should write it only if you plan on phasing your newlywed experience into the blog after the wedding by posting your honeymoon experience, blogging about your first home together and even transitioning it when you're expecting your first child.

While the internet is quick and at our finger tips, you really need to stop and think before using it to announce those important moments in your life.

Until next time...


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top mistakes newly engaged couples make.

Mazel Tov if you're one of the lucky couples who just got engaged! And, if you are like most newly engaged couples, you are overwhelmed with where to start when it comes to planning your wedding. The feeling of being overwhelmed is normal, but there a few things you can do to ease any stress you or others might put upon yourself in the beginning stages of planning your nuptials.

I know you want to scream your engagement from the rooftops and rightly so; it's an exciting time in your life and you want share it with friends and family. But I caution this because you should take the time to embrace this moment with your fiancé, close family and friends. The next 9 to 12 months are going to go by so fast, and will be filled with so many decisions, that you can get caught up in unnecessary drama and not enjoy what should be a special time in your life. Take a week or two and ease into letting those around you know your engaged. Hold off on announcing it on facebook, twitter or email blasts. By taking the time to enjoy the engagement glow, it will allow you to keep a level head when moving forward with the planning.

One of the biggest mistakes I see couples make is that they rush to try to plan everything at once. They want to book the venue, shop for the dress, pick the attendants, book the flowers, and all in the first month of their engagement. They become so overwhelmed with all the choices they actually have a meltdown. They run away, sometimes crying, fighting with their parents or future in-laws that the process is no longer fun. Rather than rush into the process, take your time…and most of all communicate with whoever is helping to pay for the wedding. Sit down and actually write out what is important and what isn't important. Brides, although this is your wedding it's also his wedding too. So be sure to include him in some of the choices even if he seems completely disinterested. Chances are the music, the food and the drink are important to him so let him have a say too.

If the parents are helping to pay for the wedding they do have a say in some of the choices. So be prepared to compromise. That is what any relationship is about; especially marriage. Don't put your blinders on and insist something go your way. So often brides come into my studio insisting they must get their way. They actually revert back to being little girls rather than grown women. Listen to everything people have to say and take everything into consideration. Don't get me wrong…this is your wedding and you are entitled to get what you want, but also be reasonable. If you don't like something, that's okay, but remember there is always a solution whereby everyone can be happy.

Another unfortunate mistake newly engaged couples make is that they don't do their research. They rush to sign contracts for fear they might lose the venue, the photographer or the band. This is a huge no, no! Do your research before signing. See what things are going to cost. There's good information out there on the web, but truth be told, some of it is completely misguided. It's like getting a second opinion from another doctor…it's best to not jump at the first opinion and to get several quotes from vendors in the same category. Try to get apple to apple comparisons when shopping for your wedding vendors.

When shopping for vendors, be honest with them. Vendors want to help you and they know you're shopping around, so the more information you provide the better they can meet your expectations. For example don't call or email a floral designer or flower shop and say I need 20 table arrangements, 4 bouquets and a chuppa, what will it cost? There are many different factors when it comes to flowers such as what look are you going for? Do you want sleek or do you want huge and full? Do you want gardenias and stephanotis in your bouquet or do you want tulips? And there's always budget…There is such a variety when it comes to cost that you need to help them manage your expectations by providing as much information as possible.

Another mistake couples make is they try to do everything themselves. DIY (Do It Yourself) has become so huge in recent years, due in large part to the state of the economy. But couples often take too much on and that's where the stress starts and mistakes happen. Wedding planners are there for a reason. This is what they do day in and day out. You wouldn't try to perform surgery on yourself or cut your own hair, why plan your own wedding. Hire the experts. And if you are afraid wedding planners are too expensive you have to ask yourself; “Is the money spent worth the peace of mind?” Knowing you have a professional that can help you organize, navigate and manage your needs along with the vendor's needs can be worth its weight in gold. SO when you go shopping for a planner understand that the cost is most certainly worth it.

And finally, I think the number one mistake couples make is that they forget to have fun. They get so wrapped up in the planning they forget what the wedding is really about. It's about joining their lives with the person they love. It's not about the future mother in law or sister in law they don't get along with. It's not about the fact they can't get the 2,000 white doves to fly overhead…it's about your marriage, your love and your commitment to your fiancé. Couples often lose sight of that and as a result they don't have fun and they don't enjoy the process. 

So take your time, have fun and...

Courtesy of Craig Paulson Studios

Monday, February 13, 2012

Destination Weddings - The Finger Lakes Region of New York

Having grown up in Rochester, New York, the Finger Lakes area never really seemed like a big destination for me.  It was not until I moved to New York City, and then opened an office in the Finger Lakes, that I grew to find what a popular destination area the Finger Lakes have become for weddings, vacationers and wine lovers!  With so many beautiful settings at the wineries or on the lakefronts, the Finger Lakes really have become a prime location for destination weddings.

Throughout the region there are some amazing lakefront venues for weddings.  You may recall a previous blog about the wedding of Leah and Tommy at Bristol Harbour on Canandaigua Lake.  With the beautiful views of the lake, Bristol Harbour was the perfect setting for a fall wedding.  Red Stone Studios was able to capture all of the rich fall colors that the Bride wanted for her wedding.   

The Finger Lakes do offer some other beautiful venues for weddings.  Geneva on the Lake located on Seneca Lake is one of my favorites.  It offers a European feel for a more elegant affair. 

Other venues to consider for a wedding ceremony and reception include Sonnenberg Gardens and Belhurst Castle in Geneva

When planning a wedding in the Finger Lakes don't forget about all of the amazing wineries.  I enjoy going on wine tastings with my family when in the area and in our travels we have had not only tremendous wines, but also have found some beautiful locations for weddings and events.  For example, if you are holding a larger wedding you may want to look at Wagner Vineyards which is in the town of Lodi on Seneca Lake.  If you are planning a smaller wedding I would consider Glenora Winery in Dundee, NY or Zugibe Vineyards in 
Geneva, NY.  

There are so many options in the region you are sure to find the perfect venue and have some great wine while looking.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Tired of the same old birthday cake - try something new!

Last night the amazing staff at Ardesia Wine Bar surprised me with this great treat for my Birthday.  I thought it was so amazing that I had to share it with you.

Since they know I absolutely love Chef Casaus' deviled eggs, it was a real treat for them to bring out a plate of them instead of a cake.  While I am a huge lover of sweets and desserts, I know others who are not.

So, the next time you are out with your friends and you want to add a twist to the birthday celebration, take a cue from the fabulous folks at Ardesia and put a candle in an appetizer and sing Happy Birthday!

And thank you again to the wonderful, warm staff at Ardesia for making my birthday celebration so special.

Until next time - Cheers! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ceci New York, The Birthday Issue

I am excited to have some of my favorite recipes featured in the Birthday Issue of Ceci Style on the Ceci New York website.  Ceci New York is a company focused on producing luxury invitations and corporate identity design.  Ceci has taken her unique sense of style to become a true trendsetter and spokesperson for the wedding and event industry.

Check out Ceci Style for not only my recipes but also great tips from some of my favorite event industry colleagues including Ron Ben-Israel Cakes, planning advice from Mindy Weiss and Xochitl Gonzales and design by David Stark.

Until next time.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Valentines Day

We all know Valentine's Day is a made up Hallmark Holiday but let’s be honest, it's nice to have one day to spoil your loved one. But, do we really need to make reservations months ahead, buy that bad box of chocolate and the dozen roses (you've paid too much for) from the corner store all to show you love your mate? I think not…personally I think you can create your Valentine's Day with a touch of elegance and sophistication right in your own home.

I think you could send your love one a note in the mail (there's still time) to tell them to reserve the 14th for something special. Give them the date, time and place. If you have kids, see if the in-laws or neighbor kids can take them out of the house for a bit.

I recommend keeping the menu simple and easy. The last thing you want to do is spend your evening in the kitchen slaving over a hot meal. Therefore, why not prepare a fondue paired with a good bottle of wine or champagne. Or why not purchase bite sized treats you can pick up from your favorite restaurant on your way home from work.

Candle light is a great way to add ambiance and warmth without spending a lot of money. Simply turn down the lights, light the candles and dot your home with a few blooms you can pick up from your local florist or grocery store. Stay away from roses around Valentine's Day as they are common and tend to be more expensive. Think of a stem of orchids where you get multiple blooms that you can separate and float in bowls around your home, or even something large and bright like stems of pink and red amaryllis.

Remember, keep it easy and simple, because sometimes less is more and it often says I love you…

Happy Valentine's Day and cheers!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Destination Weddings - Charleston, South Carolina

While there are many great, exotic destinations for weddings, one of my personal favorites, and one of the most popular, is right around the corner in Charleston, South Carolina.  I had the pleasure of planning and designing a wedding in Charleston and want to share the history and beauty of this charming Southern city.

Given that the Bride was living in London, the Groom in New York and most guests were from either North Carolina or New Jersey, this was truly a destination event.  Travel logistics aside, we also had the challenge of bringing the Groom's Greek Orthodox heritage into the Wedding.  While it was a lot of work, the result was a beautiful, fun weekend in the perfect setting.

Guests arriving to Charleston were greeted at the gracious Mills House Hotel in Charleston's Historic district. 

The Mills House was perfect not only due to the fact that it is so close to the many wonderful sites in Downtown Charleston including exceptional restaurants such as Magnolias and SNOB.  I must say these are my favorites in Charleston and I definitely had to add a couple of notches to my belt after this visit!  The other great feature of the Mills House is that it was directly adjacent to the Reception venue, Historic Hibernian Hall.

After guests arrived they were transported to the rehearsal dinner at Middleton Place Plantation along the Ashley River.  If you ever get to Charleston a visit to the old plantations along Ashley River Road is a must.  You really do get a feel for the grandeur of the old south.  Guests for this dinner were treated to traditional southern cuisine courtesy of Duvall Catering and able to stroll through the magnificent grounds of the Plantation.

The day of the wedding was the type of warm, sunny day that you expect in the South.  The wedding began with a traditional Greek Orthodox ceremony at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.

The Bride was stunning in her Oscar De La Renta gown and the happy couple and their bridal party were able to take advantage of the beautiful weather and all of the gorgeous parks and spectacular settings for photos that can be found throughout Charleston.  From the waterfront to all of the historic buildings, Charleston provides ample photo opportunities that are perfect for a wedding.  For Cate and Mike, Shannon Michelle was the perfect photographer to capture all of their wedding images.

Following the ceremony guests were escorted to their white trolleys, provided by the terrific staff at Absolutely Charleston.  They were then taken back to Hibernian Hall for a grand Southern reception.  The Bride wanted to keep the floral and decor simple and traditional.  With a beautiful historic space we did not want the decor to be overpowering and kept the colors light, and the atmosphere garden like.  Light pinks and green were the dominant colors and the room looked beautiful yet simple, just what the bride wanted.  

East Coast Entertainment provided the band and the 200 guests kept the party going well into the night. 

Overall it was a beautiful destination wedding in a truly charming city.  Thank you Charleston for being so accommodating!

Until the next great destination..........