Friday, February 27, 2009

The Corcoran is Back!

The past couple of years haven't been so good for wedding venues. We lost The Corcoran, Evermay, The Red Cross and now Halcyon House is on the market. So I was thrilled when Allie Gallo from the events department at The Corcoran emailed me to let me know that they will be taking wedding receptions again!

The Corcoran was always one of my favorite spots and over the past thirteen plus years I've done dozens of gorgeous weddings there. I love the dramatic columns, the fabulous galleries and the great staff. Although the Corcoran has rules like all museums, they are always so easy to work with. And for wedding planners, that goes a long way!

Here are some photos of my last wedding at The Corcoran, courtesy of the fabulously talented Bradley Hanson from Seattle, which was also the last wedding the museum did before stopping weddings. This year I had the last wedding at The Red Cross so I'm glad to know The Corcoran is back on the wedding market. I was starting to feel like the grim reaper of DC wedding venues!

So a big welcome back to The Corcoran! I know I'll be bringing brides there as soon as possible.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Capitol of Chic

There's a new staple coming to town and it promises to blow all our socks off. Earlier today, the ladies of Engaging Affairs got the hard hat tour of the new W Hotel coming to Pennsylvania Avenue. Check out the stylish headgear!

The fabulous Mariam Karim, director of catering, showed us the ins and outs of the historic bones that once was the Hotel Washington and will soon become the place to see and be seen in. The buildings solid structure and traditional detail will be combined with the modern, chic appeal of the W signature. Think "pinstripes and lace" as we discussed the DC power men and women will now have a place to feel sexy and glamorous. But let's get down to the details. What does it have for us?

The building boasts 4 event spaces that can accommodate 90-480 guests banquet style. Three of the spaces achieve that ever so difficult to find- event space with windows to the outside. One of those three spaces just happens to be Altitude, the ballroom conveniently named for it's location on the rooftop of the building. Space like this cannot be built anymore. If you are just looking to gather for happy hour, meet your friends at the rooftop bar, or go one step further and grab a table on the rooftop terrace and get a first class seat viewing the White House lawn. Trust me, you'll never want to call it a night.

I could go on and on, but just a few more points. The establishment runs by their whatever/whenever philosophy attending to their guests every need. Their state of the art fitness center Sweat and the only Bliss spa in the area are sure to please. And of course, no W Hotel would be without a signature restaurant as world-acclaimed chef Jean-George Vongerichten will join the ranks of Washington's best.

Of course, this is all a tease. The hotel it set to open in August and has already packed their fall full with events. We can't wait to see the finished product and start planning events of our own within the fabulously traditional building with a colorful, modern twist. Stay tuned!!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Engaging Affairs in The Post!

Check it out, everyone! Your favorite sassy wedding planners are in today's Style section of The Washington Post. We had so much fun doing the photo shoot at Hitched last week (as you can probably tell) and you can see our tips in the article for saving money on your wedding, going green and looking fabulously stylish. We had a great time chatting with Post reporter Holly Thomas and photographer Susan Biddle. And it's always fun to look through the amazing gowns at Hitched and get inspiration. So run out, buy the paper, paper your walls with it. Oh, no, wait
. . . that's what I'm going to do!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Trunk Show at Hitched!

The fabulous ladies at Hitched Bridal Salon in Georgetown are hosting a trunk show of Anna Maier/Ulla-Maija gowns on Friday, February 27th and Saturday, February 28th. Our brides love these gowns and we think you will, too!

At the trunk show, you'll have the opportunity to try on the latest collection and talk with the designers about any customizing the gowns. The designers will be offering custom measurements and muslin fittings during the trunk show, which is so cool. Getting a gown made-to-measure for your figure is an amazing luxury. This trunk show is sure to book up quickly, so be sure to make an appointment today.

Call 202-333-6162 or email

The Greatest Show on Earth!

Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 1st from 11 am until 5 pm. The Willard Hotel and Engaged! Magazine will host the bridal event of the season! Featuring style guru Clinton Kelly, the event will also have stylists from Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salons doing consultations on-site and gowns from three top area bridal salons. Everyone fabulous will be there (including us) so be sure to get your tickets by registering online at

Monday, February 16, 2009

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Happy President's Day! This holiday Monday kicks off a special series in the Washington Post Style section on line and in print; Wedding Week 2009. That's right ladies, it's here. And if my brides are any indication, 2009 is flying by so it's time to get going if you are planning nuptials this year.

The series begins on line today and covers the topics of ring shopping, planning your wedding for the perfect day of weather and finally movie proposals (to be followed up at the end of the week by readers true stories of proposals) A quick note on that. This past Saturday, yes, Valentine's Day, I was with my man at a Maryland Terps basketball game, die hard terps fan that I am, and of course they played the "kiss me" song and showed couples kissing on the jumbo tron. Well, wouldn't you know a couple kissed and the camera stayed put as the nervous sports fan got down on his knee and popped the question to his unsuspecting girlfriend. The crowd went wild and as one sports reported said, "the Terps held up their end of the deal and won the game". All I know is if I were that women, I wouldn't have been able to sit through the second half. Did someone upgrade these two kids to court side?? And just a quick note on planning your wedding with perfect weather in mind. Don't sweat it! And do NOT check the almanac and tell me there has been prefect weather the past 4 years on this date so you are doing it. That is your ticket to ruin. Last year I had a beautiful August day erupt into stormy chaos minutes before a wedding and a cold rainy week in October bloom into an 81 degree November first afternoon. You can't predict it so don't try!!
I leave you with this- Don't forget to check the Post's wedding series on Thursday. Yours truly and the other ladies of Engaging Affairs met at a favorite bridal shop Hitched in Georgetown last Wednesday to play around and talk weddings with one of the reporters. Find out what we had to say about the economy, the environment and fun things to help set your wedding apart from the others. You can find on on line or in print. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

LA style and a DC wedding

Our dear friend and colleague (and amazing photographer), Justine Ungaro, married TV producer Gary Kordan this Fall. We were privileged to be a part of her wedding planning and to be included on their guest list. We go to a lot of weddings but rarely are we on the guest's side of things so it was a fabulous treat to be able to dance and eat along with everyone else!

Justine and Gary had a perfect day and some of the most gorgeous light I've ever seen. Before the ceremony and reception at Halcyon House in Georgetown, they got ready at The Hotel Helix and did lots of photos at the hotel and around town. Check out the amazing vintage pink convertible they bopped around in! The supremely fabulous photographer, Greg Gibson, shot over 9,000 images of the day. With a couple this gorgeous and cool, can you blame him?

Let me say, first off, that Justine has got fabulous style. Her dress was stunning--very Hollywood glamour. We also loved her birdcage veil and bright red shoes. Even the groom was sporting hightops instead of dress shoes! Her flowers by Janie Medley Flora were sleek and fabulous. We love mini callas and the eggplant ones make such a great statement.

The ceremony was outside Halcyon House at the base of the steps leading up to the house. They were so smart not to worry too much about dressing up an already striking backdrop and simply placed hot pink lanterns up the staircase.
The sun was setting during the ceremony and the light was unbelievable. One of the things I loved most about the wedding how much it was personalized. The bridesmaids each wore a different black cocktail dress; the flower girls wore frilly, hot pink tulle skirts; and Justine and Gary's dog, Oliver, was part of the processional. Bucking tradition, they had a DJ from Chris Laich Entertainment play ceremony music. The groom walked out to "Here Comes Your Man" by The Pixies and the bride walked to "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds. Justine and Gary's good friend, Lisa Loeb, performed a solo and brought everyone to tears. And to prevent things from getting too mushy, at the end of the ceremony the couple recessed to "Back in Black by AC/DC!

The party was just as hip and fun as the ceremony. Syzygy Events and John Farr Lighting transformed the Halcyon House studio into a sultry nightclub with fuchsia uplighting and cool lounge furniture instead of lots of tables. Black chandeliers were suspended from the ceiling and even the bar was tufted with white fabric. The cake, created by Fancy Cakes by Leslie , was as cool as the setting with modern fuchsia and black designs.
Justine and Gary wanted to avoid the typical Washington wedding with a seated dinner and instead had Well Dunn Catering pass fabulous small plates and set up amazing stations featuring everything from sushi to crab cakes and corn pudding. Since I did get to eat, I can attest to the fact that the food was amazing! Another culinary delight was the donut station from Smoothie Time. The cart was set up on the outside patio and made mini-donuts fresh on-site. The idea was to put them in bags with a custom stickers with Justine and Gardy's initials so guests could take them home. They made it to the bags but not many made it home. They were so delicious that we were all eating them on the dance floor!

The donuts weren't the only cool touch. Justine and Gary had an old-fashioned photo booth from PhotoBooth Scrapbooks on site. We all had so much fun goofing off and then putting the photo strips in a guest book for them. I love this idea so much more than the traditional guest book. Who reads those other kind anyway?
As you might have guessed, Justine and Gary are tight with the LA music community so the music at their reception rocked. Local band (and one of my all-time favorites) Gonzo's Nose played 80's hits and kept the dance floor packed. They only took breaks to let some of the bride and groom's friends perform. For most weddings that means a cousin plays an awkward guitar solo but for Justine and Gary it meant that songwriter and American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi took the stage to sing "Pieces of Me." Pretty cool and pretty amazing singer, too.

Justine and Gary definitely had one of the hippest weddings that Washington has seen and that I've been involved with. It was such an honor to be included among the amazing team of wedding vendors they put together. Sara and I had so much fun helping out during the day but we also had a great time actually attending the wedding as guests. For more details about Justine's wedding and her planning, check out her blog, The Unbride.
Big smoochies to Justine and Gary for letting us be a part of their amazing day and for letting us share their pictures!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Party for the Party People

Every year at this time event professionals in DC scurry to put together a portfolio of sorts of their best event, or events, of the previous year. DC ISES, the International Special Events Society, hosts their annual awards Gala in March or April to recognize the year that was and to celebrate another 12 months of creative party throwing.

For the past two years I have dared to enter one of my events in the "Wedding Events" category and to my surprise and delight, my hard work paid off. Both years my weddings have been nominated amongst the many that entered, although I have never come home with top prize. Last year, my fabulous colleague Laura took home the award for an amazing February wedding she did at the Mellon Auditorium. For this year, I am hoping the third time is the charm.

Besides a gruling, competetive awards ceremony, the party people actually get to party themselves! We surround ourselves with fabulous decor, cutting edge lighting and amazing floral designs. We are entertained by a host of musical groups, dancers and theatrical players. The food is top notch and the bar gets some use as well. It's a great time to enjoy our amazing efforts and have a little fun together before the craziness of the 2009 spring begins. This year, the Gala will take place on March 29th. Stay tuned to see how it all turns out!


Friday, February 6, 2009

Lisa Loeb Gets Married!

Who doesn't love celebrity weddings? And who doesn't love a celebrity wedding when you've actually met the celebrity involved? We were so excited to hear that fabulous singer Lisa Loeb got hitched to Roey Hershkovitz and even more excited because we had the opportunity to meet her (and help her adjust the mic set-up before she sang a solo) at our dear friend Justine's wedding back in October.
Justine and Gary's wedding was pretty star-studded, especially for D.C. We mostly get political big shots in the Capitol City so a little does of California glam is always welcome. I'm happy to report that Lisa was charming and easy to work with as we got her set up to perform during the wedding ceremony. I love it when famous people are as cool as you imagine them to be!
Justine Ungaro, photographer extraordinaire and creator of the Unbride blog, jets between her new home in LA with her husband, Gary, and D.C. to shoot weddings. But a couple of weeks ago, she got to jet up to New York to shoot Lisa Loeb's wedding. Here is one of the photos from the wedding courtesy of Justine Ungaro and Sota Dzine.
We think the dress is fab and Lisa's signature glasses are even more so. What a deluxe couple!

Let It Snow!

Although I'm not a huge fan of winter weather (I might have mentioned that before), I do love the look of winter weddings. Admittedly, we do the vast majority of our weddings in the warm weather months but the winter weddings I've had over the years have always been an infusion of fun during otherwise quiet months.
My most memorable winter wedding took place in early February about eight years ago and featured a fabulous snowflake theme. The cake was adorned with intricate gumpaste snowflakes, the flowers were in icy shades of blue and white, the table linens were an irridescent blue and the escort cards were hung with crystals from a centerpiece of white birch branches. It really was a winter wonderland!
The only problem was that we had a warm snap the week of the wedding (sound familiar?) and it was over 70 degrees on the Thursday before. This was the one time I've actually seen a bride upset by good weather! I have to admit that the monogrammed cups of hot chocolate for guests to take upon departure weren't going to be quite so comforting. Who wants hot chocolate when it's beach weather? Luckily for the nervous bride, the weather dropped again and wedding guests were glad to get hot cocoa and warm bags of donuts as they left the wedding and ventured out into the cold night.

You certainly don't have to go with a winter white theme for a winter wedding but here are a few of our favorite ideas for cold weather affairs.

A fabulous, fluffy white gown from Oscar de la Renta. Just looks perfect for when there are piles of fluffy snow on the ground, doesn't it?
And we love this Bob Evans gown because who says brides have to wear white?

The following ceremony designs by Preston Bailey are the ultimate winter wonderlands. I personally love the white lights but the blue is certainly dramatic (it was for Melissa Rivers' wedding so what do you expect?).

We're working on a wedding now with a version of the Preston Bailey winter wonderland trees but for a Labor Day weekend wedding. White is always in season. It should be spectacular!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy (Chinese) New Year!

Last evening, we had the good fortune to be invited to the fabulous Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C. for their annual Chinese New Year celebration. Let me first say that the Mandarin is one of our very favorite hotels. We absolutely adore working with the catering team over there. The Director of Catering, Michael Deltette, is uber-deluxe, and Eric and Bobby are so much fun. They all make our job a breeze.

Brides, if you are looking for a fabulous hotel for your wedding, be sure to check out The Mandarin. Aside from amazing service and gorgeous decor, the hotel also has garden space for cocktails and a bridge leading over to the water. So you can park your yacht and walk right over to your wedding!

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Mandarin Spa. I consider myself to be a spa aficionado and have tried just about every spa in the city. None compare to The Mandarin. Sara can back me up here because we are both serious Mandarin Spa addicts. I could spend all day just relaxing in the amethyst steam room and the soaking pool but, on top of that, every masseuse I have had has been really great. The spa would be reason enough for me to get married at The Mandarin. It is that amazing.
But back to the party. Celebrating the Year of the Ox, the event was held in the private Tai Pan lounge on the 8th floor. We were greeted with pomegranate martinis and a series of delicious passed hors d'oeuvres. There were stations set up throughout the space serving sushi, Peking duck and small plates of caviar atop apple risotto. As a vegetarian, I was pleased that there were plenty of options for me (I occasionally lapse for seafood). The Peking duck looked amazing and I almost went off the wagon for a taste. Luckily, I was distracted by the divine desserts. I love a good cupcake and these were wonderful!

A magnificent paper cutter from Cast of Thousands impressed everyone with lightning-fast silhouettes and a spectacular dragon dancer topped of the evening. Check out a couple of photos courtesy of the amazing Regeti's. Love them! And a big thank you to the Mandarin for a fabulous evening!