Thursday, July 30, 2009

A White House Wedding!

Before you get too excited, the wedding didn't take place at The White House (how cool would that be?) but the bride is the President's Director of Domestic Policy so it seemed like most of The West Wing turned out for the event. This is a continuation of the original blog I posted right after the wedding when it appeared in the Post and the NY Times. Now I have photos!

The wedding of Melody and Marland capped off an amazing Spring/Summer wedding season for me. I have had the most amazing clients and truly wonderful events all year long and this wedding was the cherry on top. First off, I adored the couple and had the best time working with them. They were both funny and fun and knew exactly the type of wedding they wanted (which makes my job so much easier). They were also fast decision-makers and had exquisite taste (two more big pluses in my book). Plus, they were very conscious about being as eco-friendly as possible and insisted on sourcing as much locally as possible.

Melody and Marland wanted a beautiful and joyfully reverent ceremony followed by an elegant yet fun reception, both with some surprises for guests and plenty of WOW factor. And that is exactly what they got!

June 13th was a gorgeous day and everything was going well: the set-up at The Mellon was buzzing right along, the bride was calmly having makeup done by Carl Ray and we were on schedule. We knew that the Gay Pride parade would be blocking off streets between the hotel and church so we had already rerouted every limo and shuttle to avoid hold-ups. With the help of the amazing Park Hyatt staff and security and my fabulous assistants Alison and Grace, everyone was loaded smoothly into cars and made it to the church early and before any roads were closed.
The ladies at Peoples Congregation United Church of Christ helped ensure that the ceremony went off without a hitch. The church looked stunning with flowers coordinating with the stained glass windows and the ceremony music was gorgeous. At the end of the ceremony, we surprised the guests with the St. Martin's Catholic Church gospel choir singing "Rejoice" from the balcony as the bride and groom kissed. Guests were clapping and singing along with the choir's amazing energy. I've never seen people come out of a ceremony smiling so wide! Another special detail about the gospel choir: they use all proceeds for community outreach in the city.

After the ceremony, the couple took the wedding party and did some shots at the monuments with Greg Gibson while guests enjoyed cocktails at The Mellon.

As you probably know if you've been following the blog, I love The Mellon! Each wedding I have done there has been so different. What I loved about this wedding was the simplicity of the decor. The bride and groom love a clean modern look so Jeff with Capital Decor and Events created three different tablescapes that incorporated orchids, river rocks, bamboo and water. We used a mix of steel gray linens on rounds and long rustic wooden tables with rock runners. Then John Farr Lighting made everything look sultry and amazing with just the right lighting.

For a fun detail, some tables had a single orchid tucked into the napkins, some had a smooth black rock on top and some had crisscrossed bamboo across the plate. The natural elements mixed with the modern created a fabulous look! We even clustered couches and mirrored cube tables around the dance floor to create a sleek lounge environment.

Carolyn Bushmeyer designed the wedding cake with scrollwork taken from the bride and groom's custom invitations. The couple chose carrot cake for the inside (yum!) with one layer of plain vanilla for those less carrot-inclined. The unflappable Joel with Occasions Caterers worked with us to create an amazing menu (the bride and groom are true foodies) and one that was completely locally sourced. Nothing came from more than 100 miles away! The couple wanted the dinner to be memorable; we even served the entree in black bento boxes. After dinner, waiters passed mini ice cream cones and tiny cherry cobblers. I am a huge cobbler fan (as is the bride) so this was right up my alley!

After dinner and some lovely toasts and dances, local celebrity hip-hop DJ Chuck "Dirty Hands" took over and kept the dance floor hopping.

When guests needed a break from the hip-hop scene, they could retreat upstairs to the balcony lounge we set up with funky furniture and lighting (and some low-key jazz). The weather was perfect and what view could be better than looking out at the monuments?

This was truly a magnificent event and one I was honored to be a part of. Thanks to Melody and Marland for letting me be a part of their gorgeous wedding day.
A huge thanks to the amazing Engaging Affairs team who helped me throughout the day and night: Christine, Ashley, Maeve, Grace, Erica and Alison. Big shout-outs to the fabulous vendors who make my job fun: John Farr Lighting, All Stage and Sound, UniPark Valet, makeup artist Leah McKay (who took care of all the bridesmaids), American Sedan who provided all the transportation and successfully navigated around a parade, Sugarplum Tents for the catering tent at The Mellon, and The Park Hyatt and Amal Zaari for taking great care of the guests and hosting a flawless rehearsal dinner and brunch.
And lots of hugs and kisses to phenomenal photographer Greg Gibson, who graciously maneuvered around lots of newspaper paparazzi to get the most amazing shots so he could share them with us. Thank you!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Fairfax Hotel Affair

My spring started off with a bang back in April and it would only be fitting if it ended that way. It was an amazing season that led up to an evening of absolute fun. Lauren and Nessim were planning their wedding from Boston and I began working with them about 14 months before the big day. I packed their trips to town with venue visits and vendor meetings and the cast of characters they used for their dream team was nothing short of the best. The always wonderful Scott Button from the Fairfax Hotel had the venue end taken care of. Along with their in house av team from SWANK, the ceremony and reception sparkled with two totally different looks in the same space.

Philippa Tarrant of Philippa Tarrant Floral Designs created a spin on the brides inspiration images from the pages of Grace Ormonde. The ceremony tone was soft and romantic with pink lighting around the room and on the white taffeta draped chuppah with lots of twinkling candle light. The swags of the chuppah legs were pulled back with ties of white cymbidium orchids that had deep pink centers to match the bride's bouquet.

After the ceremony, guests then made their way up the stairs to the balcony for a taste of the groom's family flavor. A little Latin music and a mojito in hand, and the party could get started. Downstairs, crews worked hard to turn and transform the ballroom space. The mood for the evening was going to be big energy and the guests were treated that from the first pull of the curtain.

Once the reception space, shaded in Carribean Blue lighting and deepened by Indigo Blue linens from Party Rental Ltd. was ready, the curtains of the balcony above were pulled away to reveal to the guests the party was about to begin. Guests raced to the edge of the balcony when they heard the band strike up and while gazing down were met by the eyes of the wait staff below lined up on the dance floor ready to serve. Candles continued to twinkle on the guest tables all through the evening and DJ Carlos from Bialek's Music and Spectrum from Washington Talent had guests on the dancfloor all evening.

The personal touches ran all through the evening. The bride surprised her groom with a wedding gift. We commissioned a painter to attend the wedding and paint the event in progress for the couple to keep as artwork on the wall of their new home. The wedding cake was made of beautiful white sugar flowers in the shape of the same cymbidium orchids Lauren carried down the aisle. Dessert consisted of more than just wedding cake as the couple had a coffee station and fresh donut machine on site. You could gain 10 lbs. just by the smell! Finally, a sweet dreams treat was provided for guests on their way out. The bride's sister made, boxed and stickered chocolate cupcakes with blue frosting to send home with the evening's guests.

Thank you to the fantastic photography provided by Jenni Green of Studio Diana.

I'm upset to see these clients and the season go, but sitting here I realize, it has been a month already and I have three weeks to get in shape for me big August. It has been a wonderful spring with some of my favorite events ever. I can't wait to see what the fall will bring!


Friday, July 17, 2009

Eastern Shore extravaganza!

The unfashionable June rain has now long since past. For many, it is a distant memory. For a handful of my brides, it was a looming curse that could have ruined their perfect day. But, it didn't. I don't profess to control the weather, but after my almost brush with a storm back in May, you may remember I chronicled Nicole and Nick's outdoor nuptials at the Mandarin Oriental, I thought my luck must have been up. I was wrong!

On Friday, June 19th I headed out to Easton, Maryland for the wedding of Laura and Ben. The event was taking place on Ben's family property that boasted a natural grove and aisle lined by trees and shrubs for the ceremony, expansive property for guests to roam during cocktails and a perfect nook for a tent to be set in the space between the water and the pool. This particular week it rained EVERY day EXCEPT Friday, it was absolutely perfect, and Saturday wasn't looking positive. Although the tents had been erected before the rain, the wind was so bad that there was huge concern about the puddles that had formed under the reception tent. Luckily, Friday was nice enough to dry them out. I arrived at the home for the rehearsal on Friday and everyone was talking about getting everything going that day. Only minor details kept us from changing the date. We got through the rehearsal with positive spirits and I told them all would be fine. When you have a rain plan, it usually is.

Fast forward to next next morning when I woke up and it was dreary and dreadful outside. And then, it started raining. With an outdoor wedding, the focus them becomes, "I don't care if it's raining now, it will stop. But what will the ground conditions be like for the guests?" I wouldn't know until I got to the property. By the time I got over these, black dress complete with black galoshes, the rain was misting away. The property was,not terrible, it would be important for my assistants to direct guests to walk in a certain direction when they arrives to avoid the large puddles. The flip flops the bride was providing guests with anyway were a big help.

I decided to call the ceremony for outside. Once all the chairs were in place and we had an hour to go, we got our last shower, lasting about 5 minutes. The rest, is history. The skies opened up, the sun came out and everything was beautiful. The horrible humidity we could have had coming off the water was nowhere to be found. The breeze was cool and refreshing and the party lasted to the wee hours of the morning.

I would be holding out on you if I didn't mention the fabulous details that made this wedding special or the amazing vendors who helped make it all possible. The event was made comfortable and casual not only by the setting but by the personal touches the bride and groom incorporated. Guests found their way to their seats by checking the giant chalk board outside the tent for their assignments. Towards one end of the tent, provided by Sugarplum Tent Company, a clothes line held pictures of the bride and groom and their families, old and new. Guests were seated at long tables that allowed for the fun family style cuisine, catered by Beth Hughes, to be passed down the line. The tables were set in crisp natural colors with linens and settings from DC Rentals. Phyllis and her crew from The Enchanted Florist completed the look with wildflowers and greens running down the center of the table in eclectic mason jars and funky little containers.

Earlier in the evening John Knudon and his string group entertained guests during the ceremony and cocktails and Gonzo's Nose took it home all night long. After a heartfelt speech, the bride presented the groom with a custom cake from Fancy Cakes by Leslie of the green Hulk Fists and a handful of comics. Before the sun went down, the couple, followed by their guests made their way over to the peacock pinata the two had crafted and broke it open for their everyone to enjoy. The night was made complete with festive sparklers and a bonfire by the water for guests to make s'mores. Thank you to Mary Gardella of Love Life Images for capturing all the fun.

This wedding was full of personality and fun. Thank you Ben and Laura for making it exactly what you wanted!