Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One of Our Own

One more comment about the Alzheimer's Association 2009 Memory Ball: One of the dancing stars is wedding and event planner Linnyette Richardson Hall. Please go to the Alzheimer's Association website and cast your vote in dollars ($ 1.00 = 1 vote) for Linnyette.

Linnyette and the other dancers volunteer their time and their talent to this very worthy cause and they appreciate your votes so much. Even contributions of ten or twenty dollars certainly add-up so cast your votes today!

You can also support the organization by attending the Memory Ball on Saturday, April 18th. The black tie event promises to be a great time for a great cause. Please join our "Dancing Stars," and celebrity emcee Steve Rouse and order tickets here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Oh My Gosh

Did everyone know about these but me? How did I miss them? Sweet Treat Cupcakes at Cold Stone Creamery. These should be illegal. $ 9.99 for a six pack!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The trees are blooming and the annual Cherry Blossom Festival is now in full swing in Washington DC through April 12th.

Several DC area restaurants are participating in the “Cherry Picks” program with special cherry blossom inspired cuisine. Menu offerings include cherry cocktails, cherry salad, and salmon with cherry-basil sauce.

The festival commemorates the gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the people of Tokyo to the people of Washington in 1912. The many activities include boat rides, film showings, the Freedom Walk, bike rides, and a kite festival. Most of the festival events are free of charge.

Go to www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org for a complete schedule of programs and activities.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Very Cute Bridal Shower Gift

I came across the website Heavenly Hostess recently and spotted these oh so cute aprons. They would be perfect for a new bride to wear with her little black dress (or even jeans!) when entertaining. There are many styles on their site including full aprons.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

So Generous

A big thank you to one of my favorite deejays Carl Brashears from Classic Disc Jockeys. Carl has agreed to donate his services to The Alzheimer's Association 2009 Memory Ball taking place on April 18th at The Baltimore Hilton.

Since the theme of the event is "Dancing with the Stars", the role of the deejay is very important as he plays the music to which the dancers have been practicing for months. Their carefully choreographed routines depend on the accuracy of the cued music and I can't think of anyone better than Carl to be in charge of that task.

In this economy it is especially important to support the hard hit non-profits. The mission of The Alzheimer's Association is especially important in our aging society. They have made such great strides towards treatment and a cure for the devastating disease.

Please support The Alzheimer's Association by logging on to vote for one of the dancing stars or by attending The Memory Ball. It is always a fun event for a good cause. Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Heel Savers

I've written about this before but with the new season of outdoor weddings coming up, just a reminder about SoleMates High Heeler. This ingenious little add on to your highest of high heels keeps the heel from sinking into the grass and keeps heels looking good. They can be purchased on line at SoleMates for just $ 11.95 per pair. They are reusable and fit most heels.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Prima Bridal Show

The Prima Bridal Show is shaping up to be our best ever. As of yesterday, over 50 wedding professionals have registered to exhibit at the bridal show which is taking place on Sunday, April 26th at Green Spring Station in Lutherville.

The caterers are Baltimore's Best: Classic Catering, Linwood's Restaurant & Catering, Chef's Expressions, Sascha's Catering, Zeffert and Gold, Innovative Gourmet and The Brass Elephant Restaurant & Catering. These fine companies will offer samples of their fabulous food.

Also represented at Prima will be linen rental companies, entertainment agencies, photographers, videographers, calligraphers, floral decorators, and much, much more.

There is plenty of free and easy parking at Green Spring Station and the cost is only $ 15.00 for each bride. All guests are free of charge. The first 100 brides registered will receive a cute canvas Prima tote bag filled with goodies.

Go to the Prima website for more information.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meet The Planner!

I am honored to be featured on Liene Stevens' very popular website The Smart Planner. The Smart Planner has a section called Meet the Planners and I was chosen to be the featured planner on March 13th so please take a look. Many wedding and event planners turn to the website for advice, inspiration and a dose of reality.

In addition to The Smart Planner, Liene is the founder of Blue Orchid Designs which is a wedding planning firm with consultants in Arizona, New York, and Washington DC. My favorite sentence from the intro to the website is: "The Smart Planner is committed to raising the bar and to providing business resources to wedding and event planners who share our core philosophies of professional excellence, generosity, integrity and good old-fashioned common sense." I love that Liene and couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you for raising that bar.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Logo Love

Check out the I Do Originals blog for wonderful inspiration of logos and monograms. They have fun, fresh and creative ideas for just about every wedding. I certainly know who I will turn to for my next company logo design.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Everyone Loves A Deal

Are you getting married in 2009? If so, there are wedding bargains to be had. Just about every day I receive an email or a phone call from a vendor who is having a "sale". Photographers, videographers, florists, deejays and venues are just some of the categories of vendors who are discounting or enhancing services for dates that are still open this year.

Before you get too excited please note: if you have already booked with these vendors, you likely have a popular wedding date. The bargains are for brides who have choosen a date that is less popular this year so please don't call all your vendors who you've already booked and ask for a discount.

Email your request and let me know which particular service you are looking for and I will be happy to respond with vendor names and contact information. If you are a vendor and have something to offer during this year of the "stimulus" economy, let me know about you too. You can do so by sending an email or by posting a comment for all to see.

Together, we'll do our own little part in getting the Maryland economy going again.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Virtual Martini with Brian Slanger

Let's have a Virtual Martini with Photographer Brian Slanger.

Business Name:  Brian Slanger Photography Inc.
Name: Brian Slanger
Phone Number: 410-262-7604
Email Address: bslanger@mac.com
Website Address:  www.brianslangerweddings.com 
Blog Address: www.brianslangerweddings/blogspot.com  

How did you get started in the business?  
I have a fine arts background, and my family are all creative types, and my step brother, who is 
a theatre professor was getting married, and so he asked me to photograph his wedding.  I had never done a wedding before, and that was about 14 years ago. 

How would you describe your style?
The way I like to work is behind the scenes, observing, catching peak expressive and emotional moments.  I like to work to catch personality and essence.  Largely this happens as people interact with each other, but sometimes these peak moments can be in quieter times, when the person is reflecting, thinking, or generally letting their inner self be free. 

How many people are part of your company?
I do have interns help with basic office things, but I have found that I am a bit of a perfectionist, so I often like to have my hands in most things, so often it's just me.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?
I photograph commercially, and artistically as well as weddings, so that's a multi part answer.  For weddings, I don't know that there is a highlight, other than that I like to hear how much people are enjoying the photographs I took for them at their wedding.  I feel good knowing that they can re-live those special moments for years to come, and that in doing so I have in some small way shaped their lives for the better.  Commercially, I have photographed top models in NYC, presidents, senators, famous news anchors, etc, and while at some point that was a rush, what I am focusing on now is refining my artistic vision, and am working on a number of series of fine art projects, and that is great for me, to keep pushing the envelope, and forging ahead. 

Give us your favorite wedding or event planning tip.
I've found over the years, and observing hundreds and hundreds of weddings, that there is really no use in getting upset or worked up, or stressed out the day of the wedding.  In some ways you just have to let go, and sometimes there are minor set backs, but if someone is so worried over little details, they miss the joy of the day, and that's unfortunate, and can reflect in the photographs. 

What is your favorite part of the wedding day?
In general, my favorite part is just when I have lot's of expressions and emotions to catch, when people are having a good time, and the play of things shows in their faces, and I can get those peak moments. 

What is the best compliment you've ever received?
Someone one called me the 'Ninja Photograher' because they felt that they almost never saw me the whole day, yet were overwhelmed by all the photographs of every thing, all the people, emotions, expressions. 

When you travel, what is the one thing you cannot live without?
One thing?  Probably the iPhone with GPS built in.  Or my new mini portable camera, the Lumix LX3.

If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?
A mixed media artist. 

Share a fun fact about your home life.
I currently live on a 26 acre house farm in Hunt Valley.  There are about 8 horses right in my front 'yard', and when they run, it's really something.  

What was the last thing your purchased?
Oh man, I've been quite the shopaholic, as I'm a gadget freak.  I'm also pretty addicted to riding bicyles, so my last big purchase was a carbon fiber Trek Madone bike, with Dura Ace components.  It was a splurge, but then again, it's an investment in my health and well being, and should last for many years, so that's my 'justification.'

Tell us some of your favorite places to shop both local and out-of-town.
Well, I have pretty much everything I need now, so it's just food at Wegmans or Whole Foods, or Amazon.  I'm trying to be a bit less consumer oriented, with the economy, and the need for less consumption in general, given the way things are now. 

And we must know your favorite local restaurant.
If it's day to day, I would say the Flying Avocado deli in Owings Mills - All organic.  And every once in awhile, the Ambassador.

Let's say you have a day off and you are able to do anything at all for 24 hours (money is no object).  What would the day look like and who would you be with?
It would have to be two days.  One day for 'me', and another day for giving back in some way.  The 'me' day might be sleeping in, having a massage, exploring a small village in South East Asia, and photographing the locals.  The second day might be helping someone less fortunate fix a bicyle, or help fix a house.  I've been a volunteer in the Big Brother/Big Sister program for 12 years.

Share some favorite images from 2008:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Your Two Cents Worth

The cost of mailing your wedding invitations is increasing by (at least)two cents on May 11th. First class mail will be .44 for the first ounce and .61 for a two ounce envelope.

If your response cards are scheduled to be returned to you anytime in May or June, be sure to use a .44 stamp on the response card envelope.

Most wedding invitations weigh in at the two ounce rate although you should always take it to the post office to be weighed before making a stamp purchase. When I am assembling and mailing wedding invitations for a client, I visit two or three post offices to get the fully assembled invitation weighed and sometimes get three different answers!

Based on experience I can tell you that the selection of .44 stamps will be slim when the increase first goes into effect. It might be a better idea to have a custom stamp made at Zazzle in order to get something "invitation worthy". And before you ask -- the "forever" stamp is not invitation worthy.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Really Says It All

Jennifer Fitzsimmons, a wedding planner in Tampa, Florida recently blogged about her frustration regarding "in house wedding coordinators" and their lack of understanding as to the job of an independent wedding planner. In her post she really expressed what many of us in the wedding industry feel so if interested, read the March 3rd post "Burning Up" on Jennifer's Blog.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Freakin' Fabulous

We had the best time at The Engaged Magazine Bridal Event earlier this week. The event was held at the magnificent Willard Hotel in Washington DC. There was a wonderful first impression of the event as guests entered the lobby and were greeted by the sounds of 6 musicians from Crystal Strings playing beautiful music. At check-in, brides and their guests were given a bright red bag from Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon and then made their way to the Crystal Ballroom to visit with some of Washington's best wedding vendors. It was nice to see our friends from Engaging Affairs, Thomas Bowen Videography, Janet Flowers, Steve Canning Photography and Betsy Robinson's Bridal Collection.

We always love to meet new vendors and at this show we got to chat with the folks at Digital Lighting, Patty Cakes, and Blushing Bakeshop.

The wedding brunch was held in the Grand Ballroom which was set with lovely, long tables decorated by Plants, Etc. and Select Event Rental. The menu from the talented chefs at the Willard included Chilled Seafood Amuse Bouche, Brioche Breakfast Pizza, Quail's Egg Benedict, Smoked Salmon Mini Bagel, and Hash Browns with Applewood Smoked Bacon. The dessert was amazing: Lemon Thyme Bread Pudding with Wild Strawberries AND Belgian Chocolate Beignets with Caramel Sauce. Yum.

The highlight of the day was listening to speaker Clinton Kelly from TLC's most watched show, What Not To Wear. Clinton spoke about his four main components of style and how they relate to dressing for the wedding day. He was humorous, warm, and willing to talk with anyone who had a style question or who just wanted to meet him and say hi. After his speech, he signed copies of his new book Freakin' Fabulous which outlines his rules of life to become a "better you".

Pictured above are two of my wedding assistants with the star of the day. From left to right: Claire DeRose, Clinton Kelly, and Caroline Bailey (who was very excited when Clinton declared her shoes "fierce").

Thank you to Steele from The Willard and Doreen from Engaged Magazine for planning a great event for brides and their guests.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Interesting Candle

Just when you thought you've seen every fragrance of candle there is, here is one to bring back memories of your college days.

This candle captures that special scent of a yeasty beer and won’t make your house smell like the morning after Saturday night’s frat party!

Available at www.patinastores.com. $ 16.95

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cute Wedding Favor

These adorable cookies are from Etsy seller cakeboxcookies. They are $ 45.00 per dozen and available in a variety of colors. I think they would be a really great bridal shower favor too.

According to the seller: The wedding cake cookie favors are made with our much adored shortbread sugar cookie dough and "hint of lemon" royal icing. They come individually wrapped in a cellophane bag and tied with a quality, coordinating ribbon. These cookies are quite large, measuring 4 x 4.5 inches and almost 1/2 inch thick.

Cookie favors are sold by the dozen. This listing is for one dozen cookie favors. Discounts available for orders of two dozen or more. Contact us for details. Large events (3 dozen or more cookies) should be ordered at least two weeks in advance. Otherwise, a one week lead time is usually enough.

We're happy to customize these cookies for you. Contact us with your cookie dreams!
To order a sample cookie, see our shop. There is one thing you should know about our cookies, everybody loves them! Overwhelmingly our customers say they are amazed that such a pretty cookie tastes this good. They are soft and sweet (but not too much) with a hint of lemon in the icing. You will not be disappointed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wedding Hair Styling Special

The hair styling wonder women at Up Dos for I Dos are having a special promotion for some wedding dates coming up this Spring:

Book 6 (including Bride) Bridal Party Members for Hair and the Bride will receive
50% off her hair service. Bride also receives one FREE hair trial on a Wednesday
evening with the hair stylist that will travel to the bride and bridal party on the
wedding day!
Bridal Wedding Day Hairstyle $87.50
Bridesmaids $75 each (minimum 5 ladies)
Special applies to the following dates:
Friday, March 13th
Friday, March 20th
Saturday March 28th
Friday, April 17th
Sunday, April 19th
Sunday, April 26th
Friday, May 1st
Saturday, May 2nd
Friday, May 8th
Saturday, May 9th
Sunday, May 10th
Sunday, May 17th
Booking quickly! Inquire today about availability!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Virtual Martini with Victoria Clausen

Let's have a Virtual Martini with Floral Designer Victoria Clausen

Business Name:  Romance of Flowers  
Name: Victoria Clausen        
Phone Number:  410-526-7252 
Email Address:  Victoria@RomanceOfFlowers.com  
Website Address:  www.RomanceOfFlowers.com 

How did you get started in the business?
I’ve always loved flowers … About 12 years ago I got a job at a flower shop while taking some college classes. I absolutely fell in love with the event business and found out that I had a gift for design I wasn’t aware of. In a couple of years, with the encouragement of my husband and a few dear friends I took a plunge of starting a business and never looked back. I still love even every crazy thing about it!

How would you describe your style?
It is hard for me to describe it in one word. I love doing things that reflect my clients’ style, personalities, taste. If, walking into the room guests say “Oh, this is Romance of Flowers work!”,  we wouldn’t do our job well. I’d rather be known for creativity and ability to translate our clients’ style into the events, not my own.

How many people are part of your company?
I have a core of four incredibly talented and dedicated people and, depending on the event, bring on board as many as needed to do the job well (10, 15, 20…).

What has been the highlight of your career to date?
Without a doubt, it is the time when my team helped me to perfectly execute a huge wedding 9 days after I had my second son (well, they did most of the work, obviously...). It was an incredible feeling to know that they can understand so well to recreate the vision without me being on site. What a gift they all are! On the other side, having clients who trust us with the most special events of their lives make my life full and rewarding.

Give us your favorite wedding or event planning tip.
Strive to find vendors that can ‘read your mind’. And, if you have a level of trust and comfort that they have your best interests at heart and mind your budget, let yourself be amazingly surprised on your special day. It is the best treat to be a guest at your own celebration.

What is your favorite part of the wedding day?
Oh, I don’t have to think a second on this one! It is the immediate reaction/feedback of my clients: a bride holding back tears looking at her bouquet; parents looking at the setting, speechless and emotional; guests pausing lively conversation with a look of amazement and excitement while entering the celebration’s venue ….. – these moments make it all worth it.

What is the best compliment you've ever received?
This one, believe it or not, is a hard one – I am blessed to receive so many heartwarming notes from my clients. But if I have to choose, I’d like to share two.

This one is from a Bride:  She told me: “How could you read my mind so well when I couldn’t even express in words what I wanted? This is exactly what I was hoping for! Oh, no! This is so much better!”

This one is from a father: “I never thought that I could spent this much on flowers, but I have to tell you, that what you created here today is worth every penny!”

When you travel, what is the one thing you cannot live without?
My camera.

If you weren't a floral designer, what would you be?
A professional traveler (if there is such a thing)… but, more realistically, I’d become a photographer – life and people fascinate me.

Share a fun fact about your home life.
Let’s put it this way, when you have two young boys and a dog at home, life is full of ever-changing fun. This week our family fun activity is “What items can we save from the trash cans after our 13-month old is done with house cleaning?”. Today was a shoe and a cheese-grader.

What was the last thing your purchased?
Six boxes of Dark Chocolate Almond Bark from Trader Joe’s. It was a seasonal item this year and my whole family got addicted to it…  - so, I was stocking-up on last boxes to hold us through another week or so….

And we must know your favorite local restaurant.
Restaurants are tricky for us at this stage of life. When we go out as a family we prefer places that are a bit on the loud side (where noise made by our children blends in with the background sound). As for a place to enjoy a nice dinner and a good conversation, we recently had a great experience at Micho’s (relatively new place on Main Str. in Reisterstown). They specialize in Mediterranean cuisine: really enjoyed the food, loved the service and the atmosphere. Look forward to discovering more things they have to offer.  

Let's say you have a day off and you are able to do anything at all for 24 hours (money is no object).  What would the day look like and who would you be with?
It really depends on WHEN I’d be given such a treat. Right now spending a quiet day with a good book and meals served in bed sounds like a dream… Tomorrow if might be shopping and enjoying the sites in Paris with my girlfriend… Yesterday, I wished I could go scuba diving with my family in the Coral reef off Australia coast….