Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saima Says Design giveaway!

When Saima Khan opened her own design studio in Georgetown in 2006, there wasn't an event planner in town who didn't sit up and take notice. Combining flawless taste with impeccable technique, Saima Says Design has rightfully earned a heap of praise from wedding industry insiders, bridal publications, and of course, happy couples. Saima is truly an artist with paper, and a lovely person to boot! It's always a thrill watching her work with clients, turning their dream of an invitation into gorgeous reality.

And now it's your turn to be thrilled: one fortunate Bridal Bubbly reader will win 50 thank-you cards and envelopes from the Saima Says Design Letterpress Signature Collection. There are twelve designs to choose from (I'm partially to the Bloomsbury Chic collection myself, but go find your own favorite!)

This is truly a fantastic value, and we couldn't be more grateful to Saima for the fabulous opportunity for our readers. She was also nice enough to sit down and answer some questions about her studio.

How did you develop your business?
After earning a degree in graphic design from Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore, I worked for top design firms in the Baltimore-Washington area. I created designs for such fashion names as Saks Fifth Avenue, Little Me Childrenswear, Harriet Kassman and Alan Furman Jewelry. In the process I gained experience in all aspects of design – from concept to execution to production.

But it was a special occasion, the marriage of my brother Sami, for which I created my first wedding invitation. The distinctive design captured the hearts of family and friends alike, igniting my passion for custom stationery.

Soon after, I was able to quit my advertising job and focus on creating beautiful wedding suites for clients nationally and internationally as well. Here I am, almost five years later, loving every minute of it! 

Where do you get your inspiration?
My designs have compelling concepts that take inspiration from a multitude of sources – architecture, fashion, history, nature, my cross-cultural background and of course striking design and typography. 

How would you define your style?
Stylistically my work is defined by it's rich visual appeal. All of my designs, whether custom or Signature, are adorned with a variety of motifs and pattern that convey the look and feel of that event. The strong and bold use of color is also something which I consider unique to my style. 

As a designer, I am able to apply these design elements to any theme–from more formal, ornate designs for a wedding at The Willard to a clean, sleek, crisp look for an event at Long View. 

What one thing in your business could you not live without?
My sketchbook and pencil! (I guess those are two things, but you get the idea.) Both go with me everywhere! 

What trends do you see in color, texture or detailing?
A lot of different mediums, other than paper are being utilized in wedding stationery these days. For instance, we use silk, linens, plexi-glass, bamboo, wood veneer, embroidery and other surfaces to accent our invitation ensembles. This makes a very unique invitation, and also adds dimensionality to the conventional paper invite. The silks and linens can be added with boxes and folders that showcase the paper invite, still keeping the overall look very formal and elegant, while the bamboo and wood surfaces can be used to print directly on or used as a backing to an invite, creating a modern, fresh look. We also use crystals and embroidery to decorate our designs.

Also, letterpress printing seems to be very much in-demand these days. Letterpress allows the graphics and text to be pressed into the paper, making a lovely impression on the paper and your guests! 

What colors do you love?
I love combining dark and light colors so that there is a lot of contrast and depth to play with! My favorite color combinations are canary yellow and charcoal gray, Aqua and Navy and the very classic black and white!

What is one piece of advice you'd give a bride or groom?
Always think big picture. What is this all really about? I think we often get too caught up in the smallest things and forget what a wedding is really all about. Enjoy your special day to the fullest.

Thanks, Saima! To enter to win the thank you-notes, drop an email to weddings@engagingaffairs.com with "Saima Says" in the subject line and your name and a quick note in the email.  The winner will be announced next week. Good luck!


Winner of Carlo Fellini Clutch!

Thanks to everyone for voting on our Mother of the Occasion dresses last week! The winner of the fabulous Carlo Fellini clutch from Designer Apparel is Kristen J who loved Sara's Black and White inspiration board and the black one shoulder gown.  Congratulations Kristen!  Shoot us an email with your snail mail address and Designer Apparel will get the clutch out to you lickety-split!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mexican Destination Wedding Invitations {Ceci Style}

We just had to share this great article by one of our favorite designers, Ceci, on destination wedding invitations.  Ceci creates such amazing paper products and her advice is spot-on.  Thanks to Ceci for great tips and endless inspiration. Check out more Mexican wedding inspiration at her magazine, Ceci Syle.

The Art of Destination Wedding Invitations

When you decide to plan a destination wedding, your invitations take on a whole new meaning. Instead of just simply communication the time, date and place, you are informing your guests of an entire “mini vacation” you are planning for them.
So how do you go about inviting people to your destination wedding in style?
Here are my top five tips:
  1. Think about your timing: Book your invitation designer as soon as you book your venue and wedding date. You want to make sure they’re reserved for your wedding date and you have plenty of time for the creative process. Typically a couture invitation designer works with you for the entire process, starting from creating your save the dates (which should be mailed 6-8 months before your wedding date) to the invitation suite (mailed out 2-3 months before your wedding date) to your day of accessories like menus, escort cards and favors. Remember with couture invitations, the entire design process can take up to 3-4 months (lead time) when you add in calligraphy and printing (and that timing is to be worked backwards from your desired mail date!). A real expert will assist and manage every step of the way for your mailings, and make it a stress-free, enjoyable experience.
  2. Find inspiration in your chosen destination: Look to the culture of the place, the patterns of the local artwork, or the history of your venue for ways to bring your wedding to life, via your invitations. Think about what drew you to that location and play that up through artwork and make that the inspiration for your design theme. I love to hand draw cultural patterns for my destination clients. There is so much history and meaning to build off of from your worldly locations. For example, when I created Katharine and Kent’s invitations, I looked to the Otomi patterns of the traditional Mexican embroidery fabrics.

  3. Word your invitations clearly and make it easy on your guests: Make sure you include all travel details, recommended hotels and a complete itinerary of your wedding weekend festivities in your save the dates so guests will know when to book their travel. Reiterate that, along with any new details, when you send your invitations. You don’t want your guests taking the first flight home and missing your farewell brunch, because you forgot to include that information for them.
  4. Create continuity in your communications: Consider your guests’ experience of receiving a beautifully designed, cohesive package all at one time. I recommend thinking about your whole weekend lineup and sending out an exquisitely-designed set that informs guests of all that they’re invited to do at your destination wedding. You don’t want to confuse their experience by sending too many different-looking mailings. It annoys your guests and ends up being more work and money for you.

  5. Choose unique details for your invitations: When you think about your guests receiving your invitation in the mail, think about how much more impactful yours will be if it really stands out in the pile of ho-hum mail. That’s why I love to create my own envelope shapes. Try them in 3D form, with bright colored papers and always unique shaped flaps like Katharine and Kent’s the four ‘petals’ unfold to reveal the brightly colored Mexican print I created for them, that really packed a punch! It’s especially important for destination weddings. View more Destination Ceci Style invitations.

Spotlight on Save-the-Dates

This week Bridal Bubbly is all about paper goods. In the next few days we'll interview an exceptional invitation designer, chat with an outstanding stationery provider, and offer some phenomenal paper-related giveaways. To kick things off, here's an Etsy roundup of creative save-the-dates that are sure to have guests marking their calendars for your big day.

Love the sleekness of this typography inspired announcement (Source: Blimp Cat Studio).

Do you think Chelsea Clinton used this top secret save-the-date for her wedding?  (Source: Jamie Konet at JK Design)

Everything about this exudes charm: the colors, the font, the playfulness, and of course, the perfectly sharpened pencil. (Source: Melangerie, Inc.)

We've seen the bookmark save-the-date before, but rarely done so beautifully (Source: Kemba Celebration)

A save-the-date in the shape of a record promises a reception with fabulous music! (Source: Ello There Invitations)

I can't even articulate why I adore this light-bulb announcement. Maybe the genius is in its simplicity? (Source: Ello There Invitations)
Now it's your turn: what's the most creative save-the-date you've ever seen?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Exotic Elegance {Designer Apparel Giveaway}

Photo credits: Tablescape (Brides.com), bamboo centerpiece (Brides.com), paper cranes (The Knot), sushi (Martha Stewart), fortune cookie (Asian Inspired Weddings), paper lanterns (Banquet Events.com), program (IDFavors.com), place settings (Banquetevents.com)

I went onto the Designer Apparel website with an open mind, having no idea what kind of dress or wedding I wanted to build an inspiration board around for the giveaway contest. Then I saw this incredible print silk gown, and everything fell into place. The mother of the bride who wears this dress, besides being incredibly chic, is the effortlessly cool presence you'd want on your wedding day. She's the hip mom in the car pool group, the one with the best closet for playing dress-up and the most fabulous costume jewelry.

The wedding itself is an Asian-inspired affair with a primary color palette. To vote for my entry and get a chance to win a Carlo Fellini clutch, just leave a comment below. Good luck!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lavender and Lavish {Designer Apparel Giveaway}

Photo credits from top left: tablescape (Style Me Pretty), Palm House, bridal gown (Utterly Engaged), cake (Magpie's Cakes) earrings (Partyideapros.com), desserts (Utterly Engaged), Christian Louboutin shoes), flowers (Style Me Pretty)

When I worked at a bridal shop, "mother of the bride" dresses were usually called MOTO, which besides standing for the more inclusive 'Mother of the Occasion,' is a ton of fun to say. (Go ahead and try it: Mow-tow. Fun, right?)  During my time at the shop, I saw firsthand how challenging it can be to for moms to find MOTO gowns that are flattering and stylish at the same time. That's why a site like Designer Apparel is such a fantastic resource. 

My MOTO dress entry was actually inspired by a real-life mother of the bride: Ryan's lovely mother wore an absolutely stunning lavender dress at her daughter's country club wedding last June. The hue stayed with me, and I jumped at the opportunity to build an inspiration board around a similarly colored dress. As for the wedding itself, I'm picturing an elegant spring affair in the city that fuses ballroom opulence with garden lushness. 

So if you love sparkly lavender dresses and the weddings they inspire, vote for my dress and inspiration board by leaving a comment on this post, and throw your hat in the ring to win an oh-so-fashionable Carlo Fellini clutch. Good luck!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Slate Gray Sophistication {Designer Apparel Giveaway}

Photo credits clockwise from top left: MSW, MSW, MSW, Bride.net, MSW, MSW, MSW, MSW, Designer Apparel

My Mother of the Bride inspiration board features the color palette of gray, red and pink.  I just love red and pink combined and the gray adds a sophisticated polish to the palette.  I envision this event taking place at an art museum with gorgeous details like pink and red invitations and the gray escort cards.  Then add in whimsical punches of color like the red and pink bridesmaids' gowns, the bride's blush gown with the back floral detail, and pink flowers. The Mother of the Bride (or Groom) will look smashing in her formal, yet not frumpy gown. Top it all off with a fabulous pink, red and gray wedding cake and this wedding is nothing short of stunning!

Check out Designer Apparel for more great options for Mother of the Bride dresses.  I love all the Adrienne Papell gowns!  And be sure to leave a comment to vote for this gown and get a chance to win a fabulous clutch!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Black and White Chic {Designer Apparel Giveaway}

It has to be said, I have some hot moms.  No, really, over the past three years I have had more mothers of the bride come to me complaining that they DON'T want to look like the traditional "mother of the bride" or groom.  Moms today are seeking the same stylish, chic threads their children and their children's friends are wearing-- age appropriate of course.  Before the trend caught on, some of my moms were even shopping the bridesmaids section just to avoid looking matronly!  Moms, you've been heard.

There are so many fabulous stores now carrying age-appropriate, stunning dresses and gowns that you would be proud to wear.  We love the Mother of the Bride dresses on Designer Apparel. For instance, the one shoulder dress can be stunning at any age in an array or colors, fabrics, lengths and details.  So go out and spoil yourself on a great, feel good dress.  Just remember, while it's the bride's day, (i.e. don't wear white or cream unless the bride asks you to, she gets to shine) you still deserve to sparkle.

So if you love my black, one-shoulder look for moms, vote for my dress and inspiration board by commenting on this post and you could win a fabulous clutch.  Yes, you can vote for more than one dress if you happen to love them all.  We hope you do, of course. Good luck!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Magpie's Cakes

We have a new cake crush (and anyone who knows us, knows we're serious about our cake)!  Today we were fortunate enough to meet with the creative geniuses behind the stunning Magpie's Cake and taste the delectable cakes.  Sisters Jessica and Maggie are as charming as they are talented, and we had such fun getting to know them.

Maggie is the pastry chef and culinary artist who moved from a career as a professional dancer into the culinary world after going to the French Pastry School and working at Charlie Trotter's under the executive pastry chef.  She has just relocated to the D.C. area and engaged her sister Jessica's PR skills to launch her couture cake venture, and they are taking the city by storm.

Since we like to sample a product before we endorse it, we had the most delightful cake tasting. The mini cake samples were served on long rectangular plates with antique linen napkins (such a lovely presentation).  And these were not your mother's wedding cake flavors.

The flavor combinations were sophisticated and complex and revealed Maggie's experience at Charlie Trotter's: lemon scented white velvet with elderberry and St. Germaine elderflower cream, Fiori di Sicilia chiffon with strawberry and champagne preserves, pistachio with apricot jam and white chocolate butter cream, Mexican vanilla cake with Earl Grey ganache, Vietnamese cinnamon cake with hazelnut praline and cappuccino butter cream, and double chocolate espresso cake with Seville marmalade and La Belle orange cream. Although I don't normally love pistachios, the pistachio cake was my favorite (which is really saying something for Maggie's skills), and I also loved the spice of the cinnamon cake and double chocolate espresso. But picking a favorite is like choosing a favorite child: impossible because they are all so unique!

I adore her mini cakes: perfect for an elopement or an intimate wedding!

Maggie and Jessica also brought us a box of their unbelievable painted cookies. These cookies are something serious and would be the perfect favor for a really exquisite wedding. The detail of the hand-painting is incredible. Like all of Maggie's creations, they look too gorgeous to eat but you simply must because they taste amazing!

Another fun thing to know: Maggie creates sketches for her brides that incorporate design details and color swatches. Kind of like a cake inspiration board!

A huge thank you to Jessica and Maggie for visiting us and sharing their amazing cakes.  We are blown away by the designs and flavors and can't wait to have them create a masterpiece for one of our brides!
Laura and Amy

Mother of the Occasion Dresses {Designer Apparel Giveaway}

We have another fun contest for our readers with a week-long series of inspiration boards to go along with it!

Sometimes one of the toughest parts about planning your wedding isn't about finding the perfect wedding gown but finding the perfect gowns for the mothers of the bride and groom!  Until recently, moms were relegated to a few typical "mother of the bride" styles and there were very few options.  But now our mothers are much more stylish and want to look just as fabulous on the big day.  We were lucky enough to find the website Designer Apparel, which has a section of Mother of the bride dresses.  It is so easy to find a fabulous gown on this site and can save your mothers hours of running around!

So for the rest of the week, we each have selected a Mother of the Occasion gown and designed a wedding inspiration board to go with it.  So check out our dress picks and fabulous design boards and vote for your favorite by leaving a comment on that post.

The winner will get a Carlo Fellini Satin clutch in silver (check it out below)!  How cool is that? We can all use a silver clutch for evenings out (or for your wedding day). We will select a winner randomly from all the comments next Monday.  Good luck everyone!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beat the Heat {Tips for Hot Weather Weddings}!

Since here in D.C. we've had a sweltering summer, we thought we'd share some fun tips for keeping your parties cool.

- Cool towels soaked in lemon or cucumber water offered to arriving guests. Waiters with rolled up cool towels on silver trays is such a deluxe way to welcome hot guests to an outdoor party.

- Likewise, pass cool drinks right off the bat so guests don't have to wait in line to cool off. Something refreshing like rosemary lemonade or flavored sparkling water can be offered along with champagne, mojitos or mint juleps.

- Fans. Lots of fans. Big ones. Especially under tents but even outside.

-If guests will be sitting for a ceremony, consider offering parasols (if people will be in direct sun) and paper fans (your programs can even double as fans if you get the old-fashioned wooden paddle kind).  The parasols make for great photos!

-If it's hot it's probably sunny.  Put sunscreen towelettes in the restrooms for guests so you won't have anyone taking home a sunburn as a souvenir. 

- Ice, ice everywhere. Try bug silver buckets of ice filled with champagne bottles as a decor element. Just the visual of so much ice will cool people down!

- Keep the lights low and the colors cool. A bright room full of vibrant reds and oranges does not keep the heat in check.  Think dimmed lights and cool colors like blues, greens and lavender. 

- Serve lighter fare. Don't load guests up with hot, heavy food when it's equally hot outdoors.  Chilled soup shooters, watermelon and feta skewers and crab salad on cucumber rounds are some of my favorite hot weather nibbles.

- A cool treat to pass around the dance floor. We've done mini ice cream sandwiches, milkshake shooters, snow-cones and itty-bitty ice cream cones.  These are a great way to cool off hot dancers!

- Something cool for the road.  Give departing guests cold bottled water to go.

Stay cool everyone!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bella Bridesmaid Comes to DC!

Looking for a place to take your bridesmaids where you won't be shuffled off to the corner to look at a single rack of dresses while the salon bustles with brides? Bella Bridesmaid to the rescue!  This spacious, airy salon in Bethesda is dedicated to bridesmaids' dresses and they have lots to choose from. When Sara and I went to visit recently, we found ourselves longing for several of the styles for our own closets (hello, little wrap dress, we're talking about you)! 

 Check out all the lines of dresses they carry:
Alix and Kelly
Lynn Lugo
Coren Moore
Joanna August
Lula Kate
Two Birds
Ardour Collection by Chloe and Reese
The dresses range from short and sassy to long and flowy and several lines are mix-and-match so each girl can select her design but the fabric is the same. There is absolutely something for every wedding in this shop! They also carry some fabulous evening bags and gorgeous ring pillows (and a small collection of beach-friendly wedding gowns).

Perhaps my favorite part of this shop is the serene atmosphere (aided by the soft blue everywhere). No rushed craziness here!  The owner, Lacey Campbell, only does one appointment at a time so your girls get plenty of attention and the dressing rooms are nice and large. It is appointment only at this stylish salon so be sure to call ahead (502-836-4829)!  I can't imagine a nicer way to treat your bridesmaids than with an outing to Bella.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Engaged Magazine Hits the Stands!

Just when you were in need of some wedding eye candy and inspiration, Engaged Magazine comes to the rescue!  We always love Engaged for the planning articles written by real wedding professionals and the gorgeous real wedding spreads. 

We're so excited to have one of our weddings featured in the latest issue: the wedding of Kendall and Nick at The Willard Hotel.  This Fall-themed wedding had so many fun details like a dessert trio featuring cotton candy, funnel cakes and mini candies apples.  Check out the entire wedding in the magazine!

And be sure to read the amazing article by the Catering Director at the Four Seasons DC about why brides should hire a weddding planner and what mistakes to avoid with planners.  It's a really honest look at why your mom or best friend shouldn't be tasked with the role and why your hotel catering manager really won't do everything a real wedding planner will.  I love seeing this issue tackled by someone who sees lots of weddings and wedding planners and plenty of weddings without planners.

Thanks to editor Doreen Tisone for another great issue!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

(Chocolate) Diamonds are a Bride's Best Friends {Chocolatier Goossens}

Are you a chocoholic who's looking for something really unique as a wedding favor? We just have to share our latest sweet find: unbelievably delicious chocolates made in the shape of diamonds from Goossens Chocolatier!  Not only are the chocolates intricate and gorgeous (they really do look like a multifaceted diamond and even glitter like one), they are sinfully rich and velvety.   We devoured the sample box in about two seconds and wanted more!

The diamonds are filled with rich chocolate ganache and coated with crystallized sugar (the outside of the chocolate is white) and are made in Belgium and flown over to the U.S. (or anywhere you'd like).  The box with three diamonds is a perfect favor or part of really fabulous welcome bags!  They also have heart-shaped chocolates in milk and dark. Gorgeous and delicious!

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Wedding Workbook giveaway!

Today's giveaway contest is for a free, 2-year subscription to My Wedding Workbook Premium, the total online wedding planning system that's the next best thing to hiring a wedding planner and can save you tons of time.

What is My Wedding Workbook? Basically, it's a complete system that is your planning partner, offering you the resources you need every step of the way to stay organized and sane while you're planning your big day. No other wedding tools or software compare to it, and their Premium Package includes:

• A Wedding Website with online RSVP, a blog, photo galleries, guest books and lots of other cool features.
• A Wedding Organizer that lets you easily and quickly manage your guest lists (including out-of-town guests and hotels), venues, vendors, budgets, appointments, payments, tasks/to-dos and much more.
• An Ideas-and-Inspiration Board for managing all your thoughts, pictures and Web links so have a place to record all your big ideas.
• An Email Communications Center for easily reaching out to your guests in bulk (plus it plugs right into your master guest list so you can create custom email lists).

To enter to win, just email us with "My Wedding Workbook" in the subject line. We'll pick a winner at the end of the month so check back! Good luck!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A New Wedding Destination {Summer Camp Weddings}

As the dog days of summer are beginning to wind down and kids start recording phone numbers and addresses of their summer camp friends, camps sites all over the east coast are apparently gearing up for a different kind of session.  That's right, spring and fall, the time just before and after children occupy bunk beds and dining halls, ropes courses and bon fire sites, summer camps are becoming the new weekend wedding destination site.
Here are some interesting points to consider.
  • Cost: a weekend at Lake Bryn Mawr Camp costs $30-50,000.  A 5 hour reception in Washington DC would cost the same if not more.  
  • Bonding:   With most DC area weddings having 50% or more of their guests coming from out of town, there is never enough time to spend with those people, even when you include the Friday night dinner and the farewell brunch. 
  • You don't have to worry about who is sitting together, but you do have to decide who is bunking together!
  • Fun group activities could include horse back riding, "color war", and kayaking.
  • The views surrounding some camp spots can be a stunning backdrop for amazing pictures.
  • Don't worry!  You can bring your favorite planners with you.

    To learn more about some of the camp site locations offering this option and about couples that have taken the leap into the lake during their wedding weekend, check out summer camp wedding.

    Don't forget the bug spray!  Guest welcome bags will take on new meaning here (how about including these cool s'mores packets?) :)