Event & Wedding Planning

Just plain pretty bridesmaids gifts

Oh, how I adore Wedding Wednesday! This week, I thought I’d focus on the bridesmaids! Choosing the perfect bridesmaids gifts is no easy task. I spent months going back and forth between different ideas, unsure of whether or not they would be well received. I ended up going the traditional route of earrings, bracelets, jewelry cases and treating to the makeup. I wanted to make it a bit more special by giving each of the girls a different bracelet, depending on their own personal style. They all appreciated the gifts, as I’ve seen them wear their jewelry since, which is a sure sign that it was a good gift, but I still to this day wished I had come up with something a bit more creative.

When perusing wedding websites (I am not afraid to admit my addiction to Style Me Pretty) prior to my big day, I came across some darling shots of a bride and her bridesmaids getting ready in coordinating silk bathrobes and immediately fell in love. I searched high and low for these robes, but couldn’t find anything that came close to the adorably chic, classy ones I’d seen…until now!

Darling Jardin Bleu, Knee Length | $65 (image courtesy of Plum Pretty Sugar)

Finally, I stumbled across the perfection that is Plum Pretty Sugar. The colors, the prints, the feminine details; I am just gushing over it all! Can’t you just imagine your nerves calming when you slip one of these stunners on your big day? You and your bridesmaids will look gorgeous while getting gorgeous.

The line offers beautiful printed robes in both silk and cotton voile. You can choose from five different prints and the robes come in sizes XS, S, M, L and XL. The knee length silk options are $124 while the same length cotton robes are $65. Pick one print for all of your bridesmaids or a few different ones to outfit them in coordinating styles. Robes can be purchased individually, or in sets ranging from 2-10 robes.

Pink Love Poppy, Knee Length | $65 (image courtesy of Plum Pretty Sugar)

Robes just aren’t your thing? Plum Pretty Sugar also offers what they’ve dubbed the “Lil’ Dress” which is an adorable strapless dress, with pockets (yay!), an elastic waist and a step-into style to protect your up-do, in coordinating prints. Wear it to get ready for your big day and then let it make an encore performance as a cover-up on your honeymoon.

The Lil’ Getting Ready Dress | $62

Both options are just plain pretty, or, I guess we’ll say just plum pretty, sugar!

Which is your favorite print? Did you and your bridesmaids wear coordinating looks when getting ready?


Monique Lhuillier at Carine’s Tomorrow!

Le sigh, Monique Lhuillier is a woman after my own heart. The woman can do no wrong. Her lovely, lacy, luscious creations are a sure bet for a jaw-dropping jaunt down the aisle. Lhuillier has somehow managed to find the exact balance of gorgeous between dress and bride, ensuring the bride is always wearing the dress, never the other way around.

If I could play dress up with any bridal designer, I would without a doubt pick Monique Lhuillier. Why? Check out her Spring 2013 Collection and you’ll see why. The collection will be making a debut at Carine’s Spring 2013 Trunk Show starting tomorrow, Thursday, August 23 through Sunday, August 25! Brides, you do not want to miss this! Save 10-12 percent and be among the first to try on this new collection at one of DC’s best bridal salons. Make your appointment asap – call 202-965-4696 or email info@carinesbridal.com.

In the meantime, let the oohs, ahhs and omigawd’s commence:

This is absolute perfection.

Texture, ruching and details. Reminiscent of her iconic Sunday Rose Dress.

A la Kate Middleton, illusion sleeves, lace and classic beauty.

This shorter version makes for a reception dress any girl would die for!

Strapless, sweetheart, lace. You just can’t go wrong.

So, about that appointment…did you make it yet?


DIY Wedding Signs!

I believe in DIY everything. From decor, to arts and crafts and yes, even weddings. DIY not only saves you money, but with the right attitude and accomplices it can be a darn good time.

For my own wedding, I had to make DIY a major part of my wedding details since my budget did not allow for every precious little detail my heart desired. Some of my best memories of wedding planning involve crafting with my best friends and bridesmaids in preparation for the big day.

One of my favorite projects was the series of signs we used to welcome and direct our guests. I was going for a rustic, home away from home feel for our wedding, so the homemade look fit right in with our venue, a 200 year old manor house. We were using almost all parts of the grounds for different parts of our wedding, so directional signs were not only a special detail, but kind of necessary. Yes, necessary – if your extended family is anything like mine you’d find half of them lined up at the bar while vows are being exchanged and the other half on the reception dance floor, sans music, dancing to their own beat.

Never one to stick to what’s been done, I wanted to come up with fun, creative text for the signs instead of the traditional ceremony, reception, cocktails, etc. So, I came up with…

For the ceremony:

(photo courtesy of Paul Morse)

For the cocktail hour:

(photo courtesy of Paul Morse)

For the reception dinner, since our dinner was separate from our dancing:

(photo courtesy of Paul Morse)

For the reception dancing, which was on the portico in front of the manor house:

(photo courtesy of Paul Morse)

And of course, in front of the manor house to welcome guests in case they forgot what they were there for or something (crazier things have happened):

(photo courtesy of Paul Morse)

The final product turned out exactly how I wanted – and cost less than $30! A similar custom designed sign would run you more than $100 – in some cases a few hundred. You don’t need to be the next Frida Kahlo to make these signs look good, here is what you’ll need:

  1. At least 2 paint colors, one light and one dark. I purchased two of Home Depot’s test color cans for $3 a pop. If you want to do more colors, go for it! Just make sure at least two are contrasting light and dark.
  2. A set of paintbrushes of varying sizes, with at least one detail brush. If you’re recruiting help, buy two sets.
  3. One or two (depending on how many signs you have) 8 foot 1×6 piece of non-pressure treated, pine lumber. Have the store cut the lumber into 2 foot pieces. If you need more than 4 signs, purchase 2 pieces of wood. If you think you’ll have a lot of text, you can also buy a 1×8 piece of lumber to give you more room.
  4. Wooden stakes to act as the post for the signs.
  5. Wood glue
  6. 1 tarp (newspaper will work fine too, but I am a renter, so I didn’t want to take any chances with the floor!)
  7. A pencil
  8. Letter stencils if you aren’t comfortable writing freehand

Optional – a bff, bridesmaid or other acquaintance who shares your love for weddings and DIY crafts. I was fortunate enough to recruit the help of my crafty friend, Nicole.


  1. Lay out the tarp (or newspaper) and your materials on top of it. Have everything out of its packaging and laid out in an organized manner. This will make the entire process easier.
  2. Begin testing your different phrases/text on the signs. Make sure what you want to say fits on the sign and that your text is large enough.
  3. Once you’re satisfied break out the paint and paintbrushes!


  1. Begin by painting each sign and the sides their designated color. You may want to mix up the colors, as I did, keep them all the same or paint the sides a different color, too. Whatever you want – have some fun with it!
  2. Time to watch the paint dry, literally. It shouldn’t take more than 30-45 minutes.
  3. Once the paint is dry, use a pencil to lightly outline your text on the wood. Don’t press too hard with the pencil as you don’t want it to show through the paint. If you purchased stencils, stencil on your letters. If you’re confident with your freehand painting skills, you can forgo this step entirely.
  4. Paint over your pencil using your alternate color and a thinner paintbrush. I found using the side of a smaller 3 inch brush was the most effective.
  5. Watch your paint dry, again. It shouldn’t take more than 30-45 minutes, but test the paint to make sure it is dry because in the next step, you’ll be flipping the wood over to paint the back. You don’t want the paint on the front to smudge.
  6. Making sure your paint surface is dry, flip over the sign and paint the back your color of choice.
  7. Once that coat is dry, put some wood glue on a stake and affix it to the back of the sign. You can align the top of the stake to the top of the sign, or move the sign down the stake a bit if you prefer that look. Be generous with the glue because the wood is heavier than you might think.
  8. Repeat this step with all of the signs and put a textbook or other weighted item on top of each sign where the stake meets the wood to help the stake affix to the sign.
  9. Leave overnight to try, test the glue in the morning to make sure the bond is strong enough to withhold some movement.
  10. Voila! You’re signs are ready to go for your big day!

A few tips – pack the wood glue with you on your wedding day in case you need to do any quick repairs. If transporting the signs might be an issue, you can always wait to glue the stakes to the signs, just make sure you will have at least 8 hours to let the glue dry. You can also paint the stakes if you like. Quite frankly, I ran out of time for that step, but did like the way the unpainted wood came out.

Here was the final product, prior to applying the stakes!

20120814-223230.jpgIf you want to try this project out yourself, feel free to leave your questions in the comments section!


Wedding Dress Date: Liancarlo Bridal Trunk Show at Carine’s

Calling all DC brides: if you are on the hunt for the perfect dress, you want to get yourself to Carine’s Bridal Atelier. You really want to get yourself to Carine’s this weekend. Why, you ask?

To get exclusive access to the Liancarlo Bridal Spring 2013 Trunk Show this week, August 2-4th! Liancarlo designs can be summed up in one word: glamorous. These gowns make a statement with either intricate beading, dramatic trains or stunning silhouettes – or all three. Liancarlo’s designs are unique in that there is something for everyone. While designer Carlos Ramirez maintains a distinct style throughout the collection, he still offers enough variety in silhouettes, fabrics, details and accents that every bride can find something that makes her feel gorgeous.

Just look at the range of my favorite selection of the Liancarlo 2013 Spring Collection:

Photos courtesy of Liancarlo.

Known as DC’s luxury bridal boutique, Carine’s is not one to disappoint. Last night they posted a sneak peak at some of the dresses you’ll be able to slip on at the trunk show. I am dying over the back views of these two dresses:

Look absolutely stunning during your entrance and your exit back down the aisle! Photo credit: Carine’s Bridal Atelier.
Delicate, classic and glamorous all in one. Photo credit: Carine’s Bridal Atelier.

You do not want to miss this one, beautiful brides to be! Appointments are required and are fill VERY quickly, so email info@carinesbridal.com or call (202) 965-4696 to make your’s today!


DC Bridal Sample Sales Alert!

Following on yesterday’s wedding-related post, I wanted to share a quick roundup of some fabulous Sample Sales happening at some of DC’s best bridal salons this weekend. Sample sales are not for everyone, but if you’re in the market for a wedding dress and don’t cringe at the idea of your wedding day garb being tried on by others, then you need to get your butt to one of these sample sales.

Hitched Sample Sale Soiree – TONIGHT from 5pm – 8pm
As one of DC’s most popular bridal salons, Hitched features gowns from the industry’s top designers. You can snag a gown for 40%-80% off, from brands of the likes of Anne Barge, Amsale, Christos, Judd Waddell and my own personal favorite, Modern Trousseau. My wedding dress was Modern Trousseau’s Mika, which is incidentally available at the sample sale! Hitched takes all of the risk out of the sample sale process because all of the available gowns are on their website. To RSVP, email info@hitchedsalon.com.

I purchased my Modern Trousseau gown from Hitched! (Photo by Paul Morse)

Carine’s Bridal Atelier Sample Sale – also TONIGHT from 5pm – 8pm
Talk about competition! Carine’s is hosting their sample sale this evening at the exact same time as Hitched. Since both are located in Georgetown, if you’re quick -and determined, you might be able to pull double duty and make it to both! If you have the slightest inclination that you want to don a luxury brand such as Oscar de la Renta, Monique Lhuillier or Marchesa, Carine is your girl. Gowns will be discounted up to 50%-75% and no appointment is necessary. Give the salon a call at 202-965-4696 or check the salon out on Facebook.

Some of Carine’s Marchesa dresses in for the sample sale! (Photo courtesy of Carine’s)

The Bridal Salon at Saks Jandel Sample Sale – July 20th & 21st from 10am – 6pm

“Saks” is synonymous with luxury and glamor, so expect nothing less when you attend the Bridal Salon at Saks Jandel Sample Sale. This is THE place in DC to get your hands on some Vera Wang, so if you want to be a Vera gal’ this is your destination of choice (Reem Acra and Oscar de la Renta, too). Gowns are reduced by 30%-75% and prices will range from $690 – $13,890. You’ll want an appointment for this one, so call 301-652-2250 to see what’s left!

Sample sales are the BEST way to get a designer gown for a steal. So if you’re a bride with champagne taste on a beer wine spritzer budget, you might as well try your luck at a sample sale. You may find nothing, you may find a dress that surpasses your wildest dreams, but either way you will be spending a few hours trying on pretty, frilly white dresses. There are worse ways to spend your weekend, after all!


Wedding Decor on a Budget

Weddings are expensive. Seriously, incredibly and unnecessarily expensive. If you fail to closely manage your wants, needs and budget, you will start your happily ever after with some massive credit card debt.

Wedding decor is one of the most effective areas to search for potential cost savings. I had to get creative with several aspects of my wedding decor in order to keep our costs down. There is a wealth of DIY projects out there for anyone with the slightest creative inclination. Arts and crafts aren’t your thing? What about introducing some personality to your venue by decorating the ceiling. Yes, the ceiling.

We hosted the dinner portion of our wedding in the Carriage House at our venue, Rosemont Manor. The space had wooden floors, dark brown wood walls and the most beautiful white rafters. The open space was perfect for our wedding, but I knew I needed to add something to soften the space and jazz it up a bit.

The Carriage House at Rosemont Manor. Photo courtesy of Rosemont Manor.

Since I didn’t have a wedding planner, coordinating any type of draping or additional lighting would be a huge hassle – and more than likely cost a fortune. So, armed with a $200 budget, I invested in an assortment of white and off-white lanterns in 3 different sizes from online decor site Luna Bazaar and some clear fishing wire, and with the help of my in-laws, MOH and mom, created this:

Photo courtesy of Paul Morse

I purchased 100 lanterns in varying size and used the fishing wire to string the lights through the rafters. It took a few hours, but was well worth it considering the end result and the cost-effectiveness! Luna Bazaar offers all sizes, types and colors of lanterns, paper, plastic and metal. I stuck with the neutral colors since I chose colored linens and flowers.

Last week, I came across this gorgeous picture on Style Me Pretty which used paper poms instead of lanterns, which are another cost-effective decor option.

Image from Style Me Pretty by Jon Schaaf Photography

These colored paper poms add some warmth to an otherwise stark, white space. They add just enough color, depth and femininity to create a perfectly romantic ambiance and are significantly cheaper than some other decor alternatives. It is amazing to see how much simple, tasteful decorations can add to a wedding. Budget-friendly doesn’t have to mean cheap!

This is just one idea to save yourself some cash without sacrificing on your wedding style. I’ll be posting more of my “DIY” wedding projects in the future, so check back soon or if you have questions, comment below!


Tea Party Themed Bridal Shower

Bridal showers are becoming a more regular occurrence as I slowly approach the big 3-0. I was at a friend’s shower on Saturday at the University Club in DC. One of the things I love most about bridal showers is their uniqueness. Sure, they all typically involve the bride opening gifts, playing at least one silly game involving rings or toilet paper and answering random questions about the bride. However, the details surrounding these traditions are what make each shower so special.

This particular shower was a more formal affair than others I’ve been to. The invitation called for a bridal tea and the details did not disappoint! Tea sandwiches in all varieties were served as well as petit fours, macaroons and fruit tarts for dessert. Of course, there was tea available but most of us chose champagne!

While all of this was prepared by the University Club, it is a fantastic DIY theme too. Tea sandwiches are easy to make and the desserts can be found at your local supermarket.

Focus on keeping the details ultra-feminine and allow yourself to be inspired by the theme. Give guests teas as favors, have everyone bring a recipe with tea as an ingredient (green tea ice cream, for example) or feature the bride’s favorite desserts in fingersized portions.

Check out the flower arrangements and noshables we were treated to on Saturday. You can also get some great ideas from Martha Stewart!



A Few of My Favorite DC Venues

I have been planning (and attending) events for a while here in the District and without a doubt have a few favorite venues. As I mentioned, there are several defining criteria for a venue. With regards to size, here are two of my absolute favorite DC venues for very, very large events (more than 500):

The Mellon Auditorium

This hidden gem is located off of Constitution Avenue features romantic, classical architecture complete with marble and columns. The auditorium is colossal and the building can seem intimidating from the outside, but the detailed structure and open floor plan provide a beautiful blank canvas. The building was constructed in 1934, so there are some issues that are familiar to older venues (most events will require additional power voltage, all A/V will have to be outsourced; the third floor balcony seating is not usable and in pretty shabby condition) but despite all of that the venue is a perfect choice for a large-scale event, social event.

The National Building Museum

This is my absolute favorite large-scale venue in DC. Just walking into the building takes your breath away! This is another traditional event space – after all, this is DC – featuring marble and columns. The architectural designs make the space feel less expansive than the Mellon Auditorium, but it still is an extremely large space. The neutral but warm color palate is favorable for all color schemes and the location is great for Metro-ers and city dwellers. There are a few smaller scale event spaces within the venue, but the Great Hall is by far the most impressive selection. To do it right at this venue, you will need more lighting and decorations than some other venues, but if you have the budget for a large event and venue – don’t miss seeing this option!

*Photos courtesy of Event Emissary – http://www.eventemissary.com and the National Building Museum – http://www.nbm.org.


Wedding Inspiration from Unveiled 2012!

A few weeks ago, I posted about Washingtonian Bride and Groom’s Unveiled Event on January 22nd at the Mandarin Oriental. Having gone to my fair share of wedding planning events and perused plenty of wedding mags, I’ve seen enough to the know that Washingtonian Bride and Groom is a cut above the rest.  And, by the looks of the vendor booth pictures they recently released, boy was I right!

How absolutely stunning is this booth from Amaryllis Designs? If you are dreaming of a rustic theme, here is your inspiration – and your florist!

Amaryllis' booth at Washingtonian's 2012 Unveiled Bridal Showcase. Photos courtesy of Holland Photo Arts.

Does your dream wedding exit involve a vintage car? How about a 1933 white Rolls Royce from Linder & Associates?

Linder & Associates booth at Washingtonian's Unveiled event. Photos courtesy of Holland Photo Arts.

Searching for more of a modern decor for your wedding day? Multiflor is right up your alley with these orchid lamp centerpieces.

Multiflor's original orchid centerpieces - Photos courtesy of Holland Photo Arts.

Every girl dreams of Vera! Vera Wang, that is! The Bridal Salon at Saks Jandel has a gorgeous selection which they had on display at their booth. Vera has something for every bride with gowns ranging from traditional white and ivory, to non-traditional blush, champagne, caramel and even black!

gorgeous dresses from The Bridal Salon at Saks Jandel - Photo Courtesy of Holland Photo Arts

Searching for a great party favor idea? Candy buffets have been a big hit since they arrived on the scene a few years ago. Show off you and your sweethearts’ style with your favorite candies and sugary treats in your wedding colors. Ridgewells catering set up a gorgeous, and yummy, spread!

Ridgewells candy buffet at Unveiled - photo courtesy of Holland Photo Arts.

Your invitations set the stage for your wedding. Check out all of the latest and greatest trends from the Dandelion Patch. They have such a wide range of invitation lines to choose from that you can find anything you want; and plenty of things you didn’t even know you wanted! They had some options on display at their booth:

Dandelion Patch shows off some of their invitations at Unveiled 2012 - Photo courtesy of Holland Photo Arts

Spend a few minutes clicking through Washingtonian Bride and Groom’s entire slideshow from the event to see more. All of the gorgeous pics from the event were shot by Holland Photo Arts, a couple based out of Charlottesville, VA. Who better than a happily married couple to document your love story? They call themselves “love junkies” – really, see how adorable they are on the “Meet A&B” section of their website.

I know you are drooling with anticipation! Find your inspiration – and start gearing up for Unveiled 2013!


Party Planning Superbowl Style

What a game, right? Talk about the longest minute of your life – I wonder what Tom Brady is thinking right now. At least he has Gisele to wipe away his tears! Can’t win them all, my man!

At our respective places of viewing, I’m sure we all noticed the Superbowl spreads. Football is synonymous with many things; beer, wings, burgers, nachos, insert any fried food here. When throwing a superbowl party, guests expect great football, great friends and, of course, great food!

I was fortunate enough to attend a party this evening that did not disappoint. The menu consisted of hoagies, finger foods, chips, salsa, taco dip, buffalo chicken dip and, my personal favorite, some old school dirt. The dessert kind, not the garden kind. Want some more yummy superbowl party suggestions? You’re in luck – I’ve posted some ideas below that will leave your guests – and your bank account – full and happy! Check them out!

Chips and queso are always a hit! Check out this recipe from Food.com.
Buffalo Chicken Wings courtesy of Food Network's Alton Brown
Meatballs and bbq sauce? Why not?


A good old fashioned hoagie can feed tons! You can be creative with your fixins' so guests can make custom sandwiches
A Superbowl isn't complete without chili. Do double duty with this menu item and throw it over some tortilla chips, add cheese and some fixins, bake for 10 minutes and you've got yourself some nachos!
Beer is always a must, but surprise guests with a signature drink!

Just a few ideas courtesy of Food Network, Food.com and Martha Stewart. Add in some storebought items like salsa, assorted chips, hummus, and a veggie platter and you are no longer in danger of throwing a boring bash!


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