Friday, September 30, 2011

Death on the Aisle {Chapter Fifteen}

My deepest apologies for taking such a break from posting chapters. The next time I try to write two novels simultaneously (in addition to planning some pretty big weddings and spending enough time with my family so they don't forget what I look like), please someone shake me!  I hope you enjoy the newest chapter in the latest Annabelle Archer mystery. Happy Friday!

Chapter Fifteen

         “So what’s the scoop on Jeremy Johns?” Kate leaned closer to Mack and Buster, ignoring the fact that both men looked pale under their tattoos and piercings. Our revelation that we were working with the dramatic New York designer Jeremy Johns on our yacht wedding had not gone over well with our favorite D.C. floral team.
            Buster fanned Mack with a legal pad, not noticing it was upside down and the yellow paper dangled in Mack’s face. “He is a thief and a liar.”
            Mack swatted the legal paper away from him and sat up. “Not to mention, a talentless charlatan.”  He sank onto a metal stool, looking spent.
            “Wow,” Kate whispered to me. “ I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to like Jeremy less than Richard does.”
            I put a hand on Mack’s arm. “It sounds like you know him well.”
            “And personally,” Kate added.
            Before Buster and Mack could elaborate on how they knew so much about the despised floral designer, Debbie and Darla Douglas swept into the shop in a cloud of expensive perfume and top shelf vodka.
            “Darlings,” Darla cried, running over on pink kitten heels to exchange air kisses with everyone. Her daughter, Debbie, followed her and I got a flash of red from the soles of her impossibly high Louboutin pumps. I’d always been impressed with their ability to balance on heels while staying in a state of perpetual intoxication.
            Buster and Mack perked up instantly, recharged by the sight of clients in expensive clothes and carrying big checkbooks.  After we all kissed and hugged without actually touching, the mother and daughter duo settled in at the table, and I couldn’t help thinking how at home they seemed on bar stools.
            Buster opened the thick file he had on the Douglas-Grant wedding and clicked his pen. “So, are we ready to finalize details and quantities, ladies?”
            “The wedding is only a few weeks away.” Mack tapped his finger on his oversized black rubber watch and smiled.
            Darla and Debbie exchanged conspiratorial looks and my heart sank. We’d changed their wedding look as often as they’d gotten their roots done, and I didn’t know how much more indecision I could handle. I pulled my small blue leather wedding journal out of my bag. This was going to require notes.
            Well,” Debbie began. “I’m just not sure if we’ve personalized the wedding enough.”
            “The wedding cake will be hand painted to match your antique floral china pattern, which was also replicated for your letterpress invitations,” I said.  Darla and Debbie were from the upper echelons of the Deep South and their family’s antique china pattern had been passed down from Southern belle to Southern belle and was central to the wedding design.
            “And the wedding cake designer is coming over from Scotland just to do your cake,” Kate reminded them.
            “We’ve sourced the perfect heirloom flowers in the pattern so your bouquets will be identical to the china.” Mack held up the order from the flower grower it had taken him months to track down.
            “Not to mention you have four signature cocktails and a bourbon tasting bar,” Kate said.
            Darla’s face lit up. “Don’t get us wrong, we love all of it.”
            “Especially the bourbon bar,” Debbie said. “Turner’s daddy is tickled pink about it.” She leaned in and gave us all a wink like she was letting us into a big secret. “Grant men are bourbon men through and through.”
            “Then this is a match made in heaven,” Kate muttered only loud enough for me to hear her.
            “We’re just worried we might have given up the magnolia leaves too easily,” Darla said.
            Buster flipped through the file, and I knew he was looking to see which revision had included the swags of magnolia leaves.  Luckily, Buster and Mack were sticklers for keeping paperwork so they had every revision we’d ever done. It was the sign of seasoned professionals and a team used to working with brides prone to change their minds.
            “Here it is.” He produced a sheaf of papers from the massive stack. “Revision 7. Swags of magnolia leaves draped along the banisters and balcony of the museum with floral catch points.”
            “What about the wall of magnolias behind the bar?” Debbie asked. I was impressed she could remember details about something so many revisions ago.
            “Which one?” I asked. “You’re doing five bars.”
            “The bourbon bar,” Darla and Debbie said in unison.
            “And we should have two of those,” Debbie added to me as I hurried to make notes about the bars.
            “So we’re adding the magnolia leaves back in,” Buster said, one eyebrow raised like he didn’t quite trust that the decisions were final. “But we’re not removing any of the other floral décor, are we?” He eyed the specialty floral order waving in Mack’s hand.
            “Remove?” Darla laughed. “Of course not. We’re going for a serious ‘wow’ factor here.”
            Mack stopped waving the floral order and sighed. “As long as we aren’t changing my heirloom rose order.”
            “Since you didn’t let us do the miniature ponies during cocktail hour,” Debbie said. “We just want to make sure the wedding is special enough.”
            I wasn’t sure whom Debbie was accusing of nixing the concept of livestock as décor, but I was happy to take the blame for what I felt confidant was the worst wedding idea ever.
            “Don’t worry,” I looked up from my notes. Six bars, four signature cocktails, two magnolia leaf walls, several hundred feet of garland, a five-tiered hand-painted cake created by a designer we were flying in just for the occasion and letterpress invitations so thick we’d had to mail them in individual boxes. “I think you’ve got serious ‘wow.’”
            Darla put her hand over her daughter’s hand and squeezed it. “My friends are just going to die.”
            “So are those the only changes?” Buster held his pen over revision 12 where he had added back in the magnolia leaves.
            Debbie slipped off her bar stool and smoothed the front of her Lilly Pulitzer print dress. “That was it, wasn’t it, Mother?”
            “That’s it.” Darla looked at her diamond-encrusted watch as she stood up. “My word. We don’t want to be late for drinks at The St. Regis bar with Turner.”
            Kate glanced at the metal clock on the wall and shot me a look. I knew without looking that it wasn’t even close to happy hour. After another flurry of air kisses, Debbie and Darla were out the door and well on their way to afternoon cocktails.
            Mack put a hand to his heart. “What just happened?”
            “They just doubled the cost of their proposal, that’s what happened,” Buster said.
            “Better that way than the other,” Kate said.
            Mack gave her a friendly push. “You know that’s the truth.”
            I took out my Blackberry. “I need to call Richard and tell him about the extra bars.”
            “Do you think he’s back at the office by now?” Kate asked. “He wouldn’t still be at the boat, would he?”
            Buster looked up. “Richard’s working with you on the yacht?”
            I nodded. “Unfortunately for him. He and Jeremy Johns are about to kill each other.”
            “Well, if he needs help killing Jeremy, tell him to give us a call,” Mack said, his expression dark again.
            “Okay, spill it,” Kate said. “What did Jeremy do to you?”
            Mack bit the edge of his lip and looked almost ready to cry. “He ruined us.”
            Buster patted Mack on the shoulder. “We used to have a shop up in New York.”
            Kate looked at me and I shook my head. This was news to me. As long as I’d known Buster and Mack, they’d run their flower shop, Lush, in Georgetown.
            “When did you work in New York?” I asked.
            “Over ten years ago,” Mack said. “Before you came onto the scene, darling.”
            “Before Jeremy Johns ruined our business and ran us out of town,” Buster said, one fist clenched by his side.
            I rubbed my head. “Richard’s problems with him seem pretty small compared to yours.”
            “Trust me,” Mack said. “No one hates Jeremy Johns as much as we do.”
            Kate looked at me with wide eyes. “The ‘I hate Jeremy Johns club’ seems to be getting bigger by the moment.”
            My Blackberry beeped and I read the text message that had just come in. I groaned. “And so do our problems with the wedding.”


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pear and Elderberry Martini {Signature Cocktails}

After being totally entranced by the elderberry and pear martinis at The Park Hyatt party the other night, I thought I'd hunt down a recipe and share. This is such an amazing combination!

Fuzzy Devil

1/2 oz Elderberry Flower Syrup
1/2 oz  Pear Juice
1 1/2 oz Vodka

Combine everything into a martini shaker with ice and shake and serve!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Match Made in Heaven {Food & Drink Pairings}!

Photo: Ryan Szulc Photography for BizBash

I love the trend of pairing small bites with small sips, an hor d'oeuvre with a mini cocktail. Although this isn't new to catering in DC, I love some of the pairings featured by BizBash this month!

Above is brulée cinnamon French toast with seared fois gras, ice cider gelée glazed with choice of cape gooseberry, bing cherry, blackberry, or apple coupled with Antolino Brongo Cryomalus ice cider from Kindred Spirits Catering in Toronto.

Photo: Béatrice Peltre for BizBash

I love Indian flavors so this harissa shrimp with mango dip paired with a shooter of mango lasse from East Meets West Catering in Boston is right up my alley.

Photo: Bridget Kenny for BizBash

Talk about a perfect Fall duo! Arancini de riso with butternut squash, sage, mascarpone, and brown butter pancetta vinaigrette paired with a pumpkin martini with cream liqueur, vanilla vodka, pumpkin spice syrup, and garnished with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick from Choura Events in Long Beach, California

Photo: Elizabeth Renfrow for BizBash

How gorgeous are these cocktails?! Roasted calabaza and chorizo tartlette with spiced goat cheese and candied walnut served with a “Not Hot” toddy with sparkling apple cider, Maker’s Mark bourbon, orange, lemon, fresh mint, a touch of honey, and a dash of cinnamon and clove from Creative Tastes Catering & Event Production in Miami.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Inspired by Regency England!

My bride from this past weekend's stunning wedding wore a wedding gown inspired by the Regency period. Her breathtaking gown featured an Empire waist, delicately embroidered and jeweled sleeves that didn't quite reach her elbow and layers of embellished organza (plus a 16 foot veil). Although I don't have images of her dress yet, I wanted to share a little historical wedding gown inspiration.

To finish her look, my bride carried an antique silver tussy-mussy holder filled with lily of the valley down the aisle and had a white beaded bag to hold her lipstick for later in the evening. Not to mention the white parasol she used to keep dry during the day, also a classic Regency style.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blue Martini!

In honor of last night's always fun Blue Martini Party for the DC event industry hosted by Blue Sky Video and Chris Laich, we thought we'd post a recipe for the yummy blue cocktail.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Indian Weddings!

We were pleased to be able to help out with the creation of the book Indian Weddings by sharing some of our past Indian weddings. We have been lucky to plan some spectacular Indian weddings at lots of stunning DC locations from The Mayflower Hotel to The Mellon to The Reagan Building to The Building Museum. We love the energy and colors and joy of Indian weddings!

Photos from one of our favorite weddings were featured in the book. Check it out at Amazon or B & N online!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sneak Peek of Liz and Mike {Mellon Extravaganza}

Just a quick sneak peek at Christine's gorgeous wedding at The Mellon last weekend. I was lucky enough to be on-site and see the fabulous trees tucked among the ceremony chairs (a la Kate and William, though our brides had the idea way before the royal wedding). And her wedding gown from Love Couture Bridal-- ooh, la la!

 More images from Douglas Benedict Photography to come!  Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

MadeUpArt by Noor Kazoun {Vendor Love}

Photo by Holland Photo Arts

Today I wanted to showcase a supremely talented DC make-up artist: Nour Kazoun. Nour did the makeup for our end-of summer party and, as you can see, she made us all look better than we ever have before.  Nour has such a way of making everyone she touches look sexy and glamorous, and I have never seen anyone do eyes the way she does.

 Photo by Julia Clark MacInnis

We love Nour! Not only does Nour make our brides look stunning, she is so lovely to work with and be around on the wedding day.  Check out more of her amazing work on her website and Facebook page!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Photo Booth Fun!

Photo booths or photo stations are always a fun way to capture your guests. Here are some shots of the photo booth from our end-of-summer party. Photos courtesy of Holland Photo Arts. Goofiness courtesy of  DC's finest wedding professionals. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

A fitting title for a wedding after the week we had.  Also, the song the bride and groom walked back up the aisle to for the first time as husband and wife.

Brett and Darren were a perfect couple to start my fall season with.  After the week of rain we had, unlike any other I have ever experienced, I'm not sure any other bride would have been as calm and unconcerned by the weather with an outdoor ceremony and cocktail reception planned as Brett was.  And as my lucky track record had it, the sun finally came out 3 hours before the rehearsal Friday afternoon and stayed out all weekend long.  The wedding was held at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.  A special thanks to my wonderful team:
Design Cuisine
Yellow Door Floral
Paul Morse Photography
Sprites INK!
Blue Sky Films
Hair by Susie Rucksthul
Make up by Pattie Martin

Enjoy the show!


Monday, September 12, 2011

End of Summer Garden Party {Gatsby meets DC}

Not even two weeks ago, when the weather was still warm and dry and the mornings hadn't yet become crisp, the Engaging Affairs team was privileged to co-host our annual end-of-summer cocktail party for the wedding professionals in DC.  Guests received beautiful invitations courtesy of The Dandelion Patch, which set the mood for the stylish soiree. 

Dumbarton House in Georgetown, which is known for its stunning lawn and terrace, hosted the party and it was the absolute perfect evening to be outside enjoying the gardens.  Party Rentals and Rose Rabin provided us with lovely linens and equipment.

The party's decor and ambiance was inspired by The Great Gatsby era with guests dressed in white, feathers in floral arrangements and even our own version of Prohibition bathtub gin iced down in an old fashioned claw foot tub.

Guests sipped on cucumber lemon chillers and ginger switchel with berries--yum!

In typical lawn party fashion, we had lawn games!

A rustic antique hutch draped with lace and doilies held miniature boxes of pies for guests to take home at the end of the evening.  The Pie Sisters' charming old-fashioned treats were a huge hit!

Elan Artists provided the 1920's inspired ensemble, Carte Blanche, for the evening's entertainment. What a perfect choice for the party!

On the side terrace, we set up a more masculine vignette reminiscent of a prohibition speak-easy with a wooden bar and a cigar lounge.

Nick Perez of Multiflor provided all the floral decor for the party and used lots of chunky glass and pale blossoms.  Gorgeous, as always!

Steve Dunn and Ric Marino of Well Dunn Catering provided a creative and delicious menu featuring grilled peaches with prosciutto, zucchini gazpacho, farm market verrines in glass, crab cakes and spiced chickpeas.  The evening was topped off with passed truffles and balsamic blackberry creme brulee. Heavenly!

The co-hostesses decked out in white and dolled up by Elegant Hair by Giselle and MadeUpArt by Noor Kazoun: Pam, Laura and Jamie!

Guests enjoyed chatting and basking in the late summer evening.

We took a moment to present Kelly and Patrick with a cake (provided by the talented Kendall of Kendall's Cakes) to celebrate their 20th anniversary.  Kelly and Patrick (and Justine and all the Capital Decor crew provided the fabulous furniture for the event).

Everyone enjoyed the photo booth (and fun props) provided by Holland Photo Arts!

Thanks to all the partnering vendors who made the party a huge success. These are some of our very favorite people in the business and ones we love to work with and can't recommend highly enough:

Capital Decor and Events
Capital Party Rentals
Dumbarton House
Elan Artists
Hair by Giselle
Holland Photo Arts
MadeUpArt by Noor Kazoun
Pie Sisters (OB Sweet)
Party Rental
Pretty Mail Calligraphy
The Dandelion Patch
Unipark Valet
Well Dunn Catering

My deepest thanks to Bill and Anne from Holland Photo Arts for sharing their amazing images and to my lovely and talented cohostesses, Pam Barefoot and Jamie Sears. It is always a delight working with these creative and fun women!