Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Coffee: getting a jump-start on your guest list

We know that just the thought of starting your guest list for your wedding can make anyone shudder. Unfortunately this is one area where we really can't help our clients too much, but we would love to share our Top 5 Tips for getting started:

1. be sure to have some budget parameters laid out so that you have an idea of how many guests you can afford to invite and have attend.

2. don't over think. Simply start writing down names of your family (moms, dads, grandparents) and dearest friends and work your way out from there.

3. please take note; do not count on someone not attending and send them an invitation! If you feel obligated, send someone an announcement after the wedding. We have seen so many brides and grooms think that a dozen distant family members aren't going to trek cross-country and send out invitations. Surprise when they RSVP yes!

4. be mindful of whether your parents will be inviting guests and be sure to lay out a clear number of how many you will all be inviting so that your lists mesh.

5. possibly my favorite piece of advice that Nick gives to our clients: do not invite someone to your wedding whom you would not feel comfortable taking out to dinner. Simple as that. By the time the total budget is calculated, each invited guest can cost several hundred dollars to feed, entertain, and give cake and favors to. If you don't know this person well, consider skipping an invitation. Try to imagine your wedding with and without the guest in question. If you wouldn't necessarily miss them at the wedding, do not feel obligated to invite them.

Happy Planning! Aleah + Nick

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Floral forecast from Ariston Flowers in New York

When we were in New York in January we attended Bridal Bootcamp from the Wedding Salon and met Christian from Ariston Flowers, a floral studio providing gorgeous creations for over 30 years. We asked her to provide us with a spring floral forecast and love her predictions!
"I have to admit that I think the times of modern sleek design are waning as the demand for more garden styles are increasing, that is still within good design. Pave, or low and compact will always be in demand because of it's classy and elegant form. It's simple and best kept that way, with just a few elements to let the flowers do the talking.

That isn't to say that people are interested in bringing traditional English garden style of arranging back either, as that is what our grandparents would be proud of. And most of us don't want the type of arrangements found in Renaissance paintings.

I feel this is the year of bringing flowers back into flowers! No more outrageously priced minimal sculptures out of flowers, but more of an elegant use of what the flower already provides."

Thank you so much, Christian! We are thrilled spring has sprung!
Cheers! Aleah + Nick

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Tips: Lighting with candles

At most weddings we see our clients use candles of some sort to illuminate the ceremony and reception, giving a warm and romantic glow. Here are few tips and ideas to remember when thinking about using candle light:

1. try to stray from using tea lights in containers with moss or anything really flammable. We've heard stories about things catching fire! Floating candles have a unique effect and are much safer.2. if your venue doesn't allow for a real flame, you can use LED candles; though not the real thing, if you have them hanging or clustered together they can emit a glow
3. if your wedding is outdoors, hang tea lights from trees in mason jars secured with wire or ribbon. Talk about a magical effect!4. if using taper candles, be sure they are not close to any part of your floral! Trust us; we've seen a near disaster with a candle that was placed too close to a centerpiece. Also be sure you have something to catch the wax so it doesn't drip and ruin the expensive linens!
5. purchase candles that have at least a 6-8 hour burn; you don't want the flames going out mid-party!6. get creative - scatter various colored vessels (like glassybabies) down the center of your family-style table for a pop of colorHappy Planning!
Aleah + Nick

Images 1: from Emily + Ryen's wedding by Amore Studios 2. from 3. from 4. studio nine photography 5.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Invitation Etiquette with the Lovely Emily Ley

Today we turned to owner of Emily Ley Paper and talented stationer, Emily Ley, for some honest invitation etiquette answers to those sometimes unclear etiquette questions.

1. What is the key piece of advice you'd like to lend to brides and grooms when starting to design their wedding suites?
Look for designs that fit your personal style - designs that when you look back at them with your children and grandchildren one day, you see a "love story" unfolding, instead of "whatever was trendy" for the time being. Look for colors and layouts that are functional first - and convey the information you're sharing. Remember that your invitation is your guests' first glimpse at the biggest day of your lives thus far.

2. Do you prefer traditional wedding invitation wording or something a bit more modern?
These two styles can be mixed together in beautiful ways - I once worked with a bride who was very traditional but FULL of personality. Her invitation and response card were very traditional - but at the bottom of the response card we inserted "DJ play my song __________________" to add a fun element and bring her personality into the pieces. The guests LOVED this and the bride passed the song requests on to their musicians at the reception.

3. We were brought up to write a thank you note for most anything and know how important they can be. What might you recommend for those who aren't akin to writing thank you notes? What is the proper timing etiquette for writing thank you notes for wedding gifts?
Always, always, ALWAYS write thank you notes. Always. For your wedding and shower gifts, its customary to have your thank you notes mailed no later than one month after the wedding. I was once told (and never forgot this...) to never underestimate the power of a thank you note. Your thank you notes don't have to be long and verbose, just sincere messages of thanks to someone who took time to do something special for you. Write thank you notes not just for gifts, but to the vendors and special helpers who played a roll in your big day as well.

4. How do you propose a couple deals with an uninvited guest whose name shows up on the response card (i.e. a cousin's girlfriend when it was only the cousin's name on the actual invitation)?
This is why all my wedding suites come with double envelopes. This is hard to avoid without an inner envelopes. The outer envelope is used for the mailing address and the inner envelope bears the name of the person (or people) to whom the invitation is directly addressed. But generally, when these things happen, my advice is to "roll with it." If this only happens with a few guests, it wont put you too far over your guest count. If you do happen to push past your limit of attendees, politely and informally discuss the situation with the guest. Perhaps the "plus one" can join you at the reception if the ceremony venue is past capacity?

5. Can you please explain what's appropriate to include and not to include in wedding invitations?
In your suite, you want to include
- the hosts' names
- the bride and groom's names
- date and time
- venue address

I start to itch when wedding websites and registry information find their way onto the invitation. Enclosure cards are perfect for bearing website information. Registry information is not appropriate anywhere in the suite. Look at your suite as if you were a guest attending another wedding. What kind of questions might they have? Do they know where to be and when? How to RSVP?

Wedding invitations should introduce the biggest day of your life thus far - remember to keep your verbiage minimal and special. Additional information can be tucked in welcome bags, included in the ceremony program or listed on the wedding website. Choose a design that is timeless and special. Add personality with special touches like calligraphy, vintage postage stamps or envelope liners. Above all - choose something that will be representative of your love story. And work with a stationer who will take those things to heart when designing your suite.

Thank you so much, Emily! We appreciate your expert advice! *Be sure to visit Emily's sweet website and her informative blog!

Aleah + Nick

Something borrowed, something blue

Muted icy blue is my favorite color and is just so magical. We even incorporated the tone into our own wedding. My dress sash was icy blue, as were my bouquet accents and hints of our invitations. There's something so elegant, timeless, and unique about this color. So in sticking with the old adage, Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, why not wear a pale, icy blue wedding dress?
1. Dress from JLM Couture 2. Image from 3. Image from BridalwaveTV
Pair your gown with any of these statement pieces from Stella and Dot jewelry - 1. Bardot Flower $39 2. Glitz flower earrings $39 3. St. Tropez statement necklace $178
Cheers! Aleah

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Coffee: our Top 5 Tips for staying calm, cool + collected during planning

We can't stress enough: it's so important to have fun during your wedding planning process. We aim to make each and every meeting with our clients refreshing and lighthearted, whether we're tasting cake or talking logistics.

1. Stay organized. This tip is so important -Google has some great budget, layout, checklist, and other spreadsheets (here) to keep you on track. Buy some sort of notebook or filing system where you can store fabric swatches, paper samples, and magazine pages or photos you like. *this notebook is from Mindy Weiss2. Don't micromanage. If you have a coordination team, let them manage the major details; after all, that's why you hire them. Any good coordinator won't take over your wedding (it will always be your!) but rather will keep you informed, keep you on track, recommend high caliber vendors, and help you bring your vision to reality. If you don't have a team, be sure to break up your planning in months, rather than one long TO DO list. If you have friends or family who would love to help, by all means let them - it can be lots of fun! ---but see our last post about not taking advantage.

3. Trust your vendors. We've said this in previous Monday Coffee posts and we mean it. If you put off a calm, cool + collected vibe and hire on great vendors, their talent and creativity will really shine through. Give them some room to whip up some samples and show off their amazing ideas rather than putting them in a box and holding them to just one design. You'll likely say "wow; why didn't we think of that!"

4. Don't take on too much. Letting DIY projects get out of control can create so much stress. While lots of our clients have fun and take pride in creating invitations or other handmade goodies, trying to do it all could be the end to having a great planning process. Know when to stop and turn your projects over to the pros.

5. Share the fun with your bride or groom to-be. We're also big proponents in sharing the tasks; let your groom surprise you with a funky play list or take on planning cocktail hour or a down-home late night menu.

We hope that you take heed to our advice and stay calm, cool + collected. You'll be sure to enjoy your planning process!
Cheers! Aleah + Nick

Thursday, March 4, 2010

For the ladies: Aleah's Top 5 Tips for involving your family and friends in your wedding

As coordinators, we often act as act as a sounding board to our clients, giving advice on how to include loved ones while still keeping the wedding "theirs." Today I wanted to share my Top 5 Tips for including mothers and friends:

1. Bring your mom along to try on wedding dresses. Do NOT bring an entourage of moms, bridesmaids, aunts, and cousins. This just complicates the process and you'll have conflicting opinions. Moms usually do know best and I'm sure your mom would be honored to join you.

2. If you have some DIY projects, like assembling favors or stuffing invitations, make it a fun party with your bridesmaids. Have a caterer drop off some ready-to-serve hors d' oeuvres and have some champagne on hand. Make these projects fun and upbeat and involve your girls at the same time.

3. Don't stick your friends who aren't in the wedding party with odd-ball jobs at the wedding to "honor" them. We've heard feedback over the years that it's not really an honor to man the guest book table all night or instruct guests on utilizing the wedding shuttle. Instead, ask them to perhaps do a reading at the ceremony - something that truly means something.

4. If you have a really artistic or talented mother-in-law to-be or friend, ask them to create something for your big day. Keep in mind the fine line between taking advantage and the honor of being asked to create something. Unless it's offered, do not assume someone will create 150 wedding invitation suites or 30 centerpieces for free if that's their specialty. Instead, maybe ask your florist mother-in-law to create your personal bouquet - tell her you'd be honored to carry something she creates.

5. Be kind. Have fun with your ladies and make sure they don't regret being involved with your wedding. Surely you've seen the show Bridezillas - don't boss around your loved ones. Be the sweet bride you know you are and see how much fun the process can be!

Happy Planning! Aleah

*photo from

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Truly Amazing Cause: Wish Upon a Wedding

Today we wanted to shed a spotlight on an amazing new nonprofit - Wish Upon a Wedding. You've surely heard of the Make a Wish Foundation, well this is similar but grants wedding wishes to those who have a terminal illness. Truly incredible.
Here are some important details:

• Was founded in San Francisco, CA, in January of 2010, by a group of wedding and business entrepreneurs.
• Is America’s FIRST nonprofit wedding wish granting organization, producing weddings and civil union ceremonies at destinations across the United States for individuals facing terminal illness, regardless of sexual orientation.
• Boasts twenty chapters nationwide, headed by some of the industry’s most renowned leaders.
• Presidents:
• Sasha Souza, National
• Kevin Covey, LA/Orange County
• Stella Inserra, New York
• Ivy Robinson, The Carolinas
Eliana Baucicault, Atlanta
• Mary Alice Sublett, Tennessee
• Heather Hamilton Sims, Houston
• Shelby Tuck Horton, DC
• Elisa Delgardio, Orlando
• Ali Phillips, Chicago
• Daniela Fageอด́t, Seattle
• Other chapters opening soon: Colorado, Arizona, Portland, Miami, St. Louis, Ohio and Nevada.
• To qualify for Wishes, applicants must be unmarried legal citizens of the United States, over the age of 18, who have been diagnosed with less than three years to live.
• Simply apply online to request one of three wedding types: URGENT (Up to 10 guests, in hospital or at bedside); BOUTIQUE (up to 25 guests, in home town of applicant); ROMANTIC (Up to 50 guests, at any WUW destination)
• Wish Granters needed in all locations. Please apply online today to start helping us make Wedding Wishes come true. Photo of the first recipents by Stella Sweet
Please pass this message along!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Coffee: our top 5 tips for picking a wedding reception venue

So many of our clients don't know where to begin in the wedding reception venue search. On the other hand, some of our clients have pre-picked a venue (their favorite restaurant, the hotel where they were engaged) before hiring us on and we have to go back and fix or clarify contract terms.

Here are our Top 5 Tips for picking + booking a reception venue:
  • make a list of your favorite places in your wedding town. Have a favorite hotel that has an amazing view of the ocean? Love a little inn overlooking a romantic lake? Were you engaged at a swanky restaurant? Check out these places and see what they can handle in regards to your estimated guest count. Ask them how they can accommodate, say, 100 guests, and how they typically run receptions. Ask them what the timing of your wedding will be - some of the best locations might have a 9:30 pm or 10:00 pm cut-off time!
  • talk budget. There's almost always room to negotiate the minimums - ask the catering manager what they can throw in (chivari chairs/waive the cake cutting fee) and if they can knock $1,000 off of the minimum. Some will waive the ceremony fee if your reception is at the same place. You'll be surprised by what just asking gets you.
  • talking about minimums - be sure you understand what a food + beverage minimum is. Several of our clients have assumed their minimum is grand total of what they're bill will be (plus tax + gratuity). It is not. The minimum is simply the minimum price you agree to pay. Say your minimum is $15,000 but your guests/food/drink count only reaches $12,000. You are responsible to pay that $3,000 difference (plus tax/gratuity). You can do so by making your dinner a 5 or 6-course dinner, offering top shelf liquor, or having a late-night menu. Be sure you are clear how many guests and what type of menu/beverages you need to account for to reach your minimum. If your budget is tight, be sure you know how many guests will push you over your minimum.
  • location, location, location. Be sure your location is close to hotels for our of town guests (or a quick taxi ride away). Are you having a marathon of wedding activities over the weekend? You'll especially want to make sure that either A) your venue has restaurants, lodging, and activities or B) restaurants, beaches, parks, and other activities are nearby for your guests - especially if they're coming from afar.
  • check with the venue - how many weddings do they have going on at one time? You'll likely want to feel like your wedding is special and don't want to run into three other couples on your big day. This really happens - some venues have up to 10 or 12 weddings going on at one time. This should be a red flag - remember; it's all about the entire experience of your wedding!

Happy Planning! Aleah + Nick

Photo by Montestigliano, Italy