The Ultimate Bridesmaid Checklist: 3 Things The Bride Will Forget To Ask But Definitely Will Need

By Guest Blogger

Being asked to be a bridesmaid is a huge honor, regardless of whether you’re a friend, family member, old classmate, sorority sister, or co-worker of the bride-to-be. My sister recently became engaged, and while that news alone made it a great day when she told me, it became even more special when she asked me to be her maid of honor. So many emotions filled my mind, but love and joy were the two that rang the loudest. I wanted to do everything I could to help make my sister’s big day as special as possible, which is exactly what every MOH and bridesmaid should do. I’m not in it alone!

 

Plan with Boundaries

 

We all know that weddings, as beautiful as they can be, are a very hectic occasion to plan.There are so many tasks; choosing a coordinator, finding the perfect venue, deciding on the menu and entertainment for guests, the list goes on and on. As a bridesmaid, you’ll need to take as many of the menial tasks as possible off the shoulders of the bride, all while making sure to not intrude on the planning process. Remember that this is the day of the happy couple, not you.

Give the bride-to-be your thoughts, but make sure you cater them to her, not you. For instance, if she loves a specific film or color pattern, suggest that she incorporate that into her wedding theme. If she decides to pass on an idea, don’t take it personally. This is a memory that your loved one will have for the rest or her life–she wants it to be her way, and that’s okay. In fact, you should always reiterate that the day is hers, and she should do whatever she likes.

When choosing a gift for the bride-to-be, make sure that it’s personal, memorable, and thoughtful. As I was shopping around for the perfect gift for my sister, I landed on this RedEnvelope page with gift ideas that completely fit her personality. Websites like this allow you the option for personalization, which can go a long way toward making a gift memorable. At the same time, they can be used purely to generate ideas and as inspiration.

Make the Time

 

Everyone has a life and schedules that they follow. Even so, you need to make time to be at as many pre-nuptial events as you can. If the bride-to-be wants you to attend a wine or cake tasting, do it. She’s asking you to be there for these special moments, and you should make the time to do so. You can let her know your schedule, and ask that she plan around it, but let her know that you definitely want to be there for her. As the MOH, I wanted to be everywhere, all the time. That was impossible, but I attended as many pre-nuptial outings as I could. This alleviated some of the stress from my sister. She didn’t have to worry about looking at flowers, or finding the perfect dress alone; she knew that I would be there for her.

As a bridesmaid, you should always make time. You don’t have to put your life on hold, but make sure you clear some time for the bride-to-be.

 

 

12 DIY Thanksgiving Centerpieces

mini pumpkin jar
Photo Credit: Midwest Living

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. After the turkey is picked out and the menu planned, the next step is often creating the perfect table settings.

A lot of time is spent eating, drinking and talking at the dinner table, so the experience should be enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing. Aside from the food, what makes a great Thanksgiving table is a beautiful, seasonally appropriate centerpiece. Here are a few ideas for DIY Thanksgiving centerpieces that create a cozy atmosphere for your guests.

1. Mini Pumpkin Bell Jar

For a quick and easy centerpiece in a pinch, grab a glass bell jar and a plate. Pile miniature pumpkins, gourds or pine cones on top of the plate and cover with the bell jar. Add some glitz by painting the pumpkins with metallic paint or dipping the pinecones in glitter.

Find the tutorial here.

 

harvestpiece

Photo Credit: Martha Stewart

2. Harvest Centerpiece

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for what you have and sharing in a great meal or harvest.

Bring some of the traditional meaning of the harvest back to the table with this wheat centerpiece. Combine stalks of wheat and dried grasses with some floral tape and tie a lovely satin or jute ribbon around the bunch.

Find the tutorial here

 

burlapandtwine

Photo Credit: Love of Family and Home

3. Rustic Burlap and Twine Centerpiece

This centerpiece combines a lot of elements, but most of the items are cheap, free or recycled.

Create a tiered look by using glass jars of differing heights. Wrap with burlap and jute string.

You can stencil a monogram on the jute or attach a paper rose or leaf, which there are tutorials for. Just add some acorns and a mini pumpkin to complete the whole look.

Find the tutorial here.

 

logtealight

Photo Credit: Jenna Burger

4. Log Tealight Centerpiece

To create a high-end centerpiece for less, it’s always a good idea to scour your neighborhood for natural finds.

For this tea light holder, a cut log was rescued from curb pickup and holes were drilled with a 1.5” bit. Depending on the season, other natural elements can be added for more of a dressed up look.

Find the tutorial here.

 

winecorkpumpkin

Photo Credit: My Gourmet Connection

5. Wine Cork Pumpkin

All you wine drinkers out there will love this pumpkin centerpiece made from old corks.

Paint both ends of the corks orange and hot glue together in rows of varying lengths to create the shape of the pumpkin. Create leaves from felt and tie jute string or raffia ribbon for an on-the-vine appearance.

Find the tutorial here.

 

sugaredfruit

Photo Credit: Cake Events

6. Sugared Fruit Centerpiece

A classic still-life centerpiece straight from a master painting, sugared fruit is both beautiful and edible.

Assorted fruit, both cut and whole, are brushed with dissolved gelatin and sprinkled with superfine sugar. After standing at room temperature for 24 hours, the fruit is then arranged on a plate, cake stand, or other food display piece, adding edible or silk leaves if desired.

Find the tutorial here.

paintedacorntree

Photo Credit: Better Home and Garden

7. Painted Acorn Tree

Create some quick table art from the trees where you live.

Paint acorns in warm tones and attach yarn or string. Hang them from a jagged branch placed in a vase of a contrasting color. You could also ask your guests to write something they’re thankful for and hang their responses from the branch.

Find the tutorial here.

 

copperleafgourds

Photo Credit: Martha Stewart

8. Copper Leaf Gourds

Metallics are in this season and copper is a great choice for a country inspired setup.

Seasonal gourds are brushed with water-based glue to create a smooth surface. Then, copper leaf is draped around the gourd and smoothed over gently. Wear cotton gloves to avoid smudges on the copper surface.

Find the tutorial here.

fall floral vase

Photo Credit: Woman’s Day

9. Fall Floral Vases

Flowers are always a nice touch during a dinner party.

These vases are made from recycled tin and plastic cans, which are then covered with corn husks and decorative ribbons. Grab a bunch of seasonal blooms in warm fall tones and arrange within the cans. Arrange them along the table or cluster vases of different heights for a charming centerpiece.

Find the tutorial here.

 

cheeseandcharcuterie

Photo Credit: Food & Wine

10. Cheese and Charcuterie Board

Another edible centerpiece idea is a meticulously arranged cheese and charcuterie board.

Use garnishes and seasonal additions like dark leafy greens and roots, olives, pumpkin or pomegranate seeds and cranberries. Cheeses and meats of differing sizes, textures, and flavors are best used for palate variety and aesthetics. Display on wooden boards, bowls or baskets with crackers and crispy bread.

Find the tutorial here.

 

legumehurricanevase

Photo Credit: Hy Heart’s Desire

11. Layered Legume Hurricane

For a quick centerpiece using candles, try this layered legume hurricane idea.

Place a pillar candle (preferably apple pie or pumpkin scented) in a glass hurricane. Pour a layer of red or green dried lentils at the bottom.
Repeat with dried beans of varying colors or un-popped corn kernels. Tie a pretty ribbon around the hurricane for an extra bit of decoration or leave as is.

Find the tutorial here.

paintedpinecones

Photo Credit: Oh How Posh

12. Painted Pine Cones

Pine cones are classic holiday decorations that are free and easy to find.

For this centerpiece, grab a bunch of pine cones varying in size and dip them in paint. Jewel tones, whites, and metallics are all festive color ideas that will really pop on a Thanksgiving tabletop. Sit the pine cones on a wooden tray, in a bowl or in a glass hurricane for display.

Find the tutorial here

 

 

 

6 Party Chandelier Ideas

finals

Pin It

 

One of the easiest ways to make a memorable impact on an empty space is to fill the ceiling. A chandelier is the perfect solution to filling this space. For a wedding, surprise your guests with something large and in charge. Here are some ideas:

  1. Floral chandelier
  2. Pom pom chandelier
  3. Ribbon chandelier
  4. Paper tube chandelier
  5. Lace hoop chandelier
  6. Paper lantern chandelier

by Brittany Jepsen of The House that Lars Built

 

Christmas Wedding Ideas

Above all, the holiday spirit of togetherness magnifies what’s already supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life.

These amazing photos from real weddings submissions really speak for themselves. Enjoy—consider them a gift from us to you. Good luck to all of our holiday brides!

 

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Bridal Looks

Dramatic lashes, scarlet lips, and a high neckline with just the right amount of skin (keyhole backs are on-trend): This bride pulls it all off effortlessly.

Photo Credit: Bethany Ann Photography

Float down the aisle in a gown with textured tiers that are light as snow.

Photo Credit: Jessica Svoboda Photography

A gilded gown with intricate embroidery is a regal choice for Christmastime brides.

Photo Credit: Sarah Crowder Photography

It’s hard to say what caught our attention first—the ruched bodice-embellished skirt combo or those unexpected pine cones! I call a tie.

Photo Credits (from left to right): Jason Kaczorowski Photography and Rachel Pearlman Photography

Put the finishing touch on your gown with a ribbon belt featuring clusters of crystals.

Photo Credit: Ashfall Mixed Media

Or, if you prefer a more understated look, consider this chic floral sash. The silver beads give it extra flair.

Photo Credit: Maria Angela Photography

Darling bows add a girlie touch to these red-hot heels. Display your accessories on a gold object to make them really pop in photos.

Photo Credits: Rachel Pearlman Photography

According to ancient folklore, the Druids regarded holly as a sacred plant and believed it had magical powers of protection. What better plant to include in your groom’s boutonniere?

Photo Credit: Bethany Ann Photography

Does your groom have a quirky sense of style? A patterned vest or tie helps him stand out from the groomsmen.

Photo Credits (from left to right): Bethany Ann Photography and Robin Nathan Photography

Personally, I’ve always thought that red bridesmaids dresses would be tough to pull off, but this photo converted me. The cherry shade looks ultra-flattering on all of the ‘maids skin tones.

Photo Credit: Bethany Ann Photography

Live in a warm climate all-year round? Consider a light, breathable fabric for all of your bridal party attire. The tucked-in hair flower is a carefree touch.

Photo Credit: Life’s Highlights

I can envision my feisty flower girl, Viviana, refusing to take off this dress (pictured at right) at the end of the night. Adorn the most adorable member of your bridal party with a floral sash or back-tied bow. A faux-fur bolero keeps them warm and toasty!

Photo Credits (from left to right): Hoffer Photography and Katie Stoops Photography

These little guys stole the show with their knee-high socks, suspenders, and a hat Grandpa would wear.

Photo Credit: Jason Kaczorowski Photography

If you prefer a darker color palette, add some holiday cheer with matching red pumps.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Cocktail-length bridesmaids dresses for Christmas? The glittering cuff and bold bouquets make it work.

Photo Credit: Rachel Pearlman Photography

If you’re blessed with a White Christmas where you live, blow some snow into the camera for a memorable photo, like this one! (Save the hijinks until after the ceremony, so that you don’t get any wet spots on your dress).

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Midnight blue tuxes are made all the more dapper with plush scarves. We’re loving how easy it is to spot the groom.

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Ceremony

One of the biggest perks of being a Christmas bride is that if you’re getting married in a church, it will already be decked out in all its splendor, so you don’t have to order as many flowers and other décor.

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Photo Credit: Shoreshotz

Light up your walk down the aisle with festive pew decorations (alternate them on different rows to cut costs).

Photo Credit: VP Studios Photography

At this evening wedding, each bridal party attendant carried a pillar candle as they made their way towards the altar.

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Buy hurricane candle holders in bulk and fill them with sparkling votives and crystals.

Photo Credit: Shoreshotz

Recreate this stunning backdrop with massive candles in different shapes and sizes.

Photo Credit: Bethany Ann Photography

Reception

This intricate and budget-friendly centerpiece is proof that you don’t need to go overboard with flowers to transform your reception space into a Christmas wonderland.

Photo Credits: Rachel Pearlman Photography

The garland-wrapped staircase makes a picturesque room even more breathtaking.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Display your invitation on a mantel, surrounded by thick garlands and ornaments. Next Christmas, you can display the photo of your invitation on that very same mantel, as a fun reminder of your wedding day.

Photo Credit: VP Studios Photography

Whether your Christmas style is more subtle (patterned snowflakes) or bold (green calligraphy and wax seals), there’s invitation options for everyone.

Photo Credits (from left to right): Shoreshotz and Sarah Crowder Photography

Rhinestone-encrusted roses and evergreen make this low-lying centerpiece a standout.

Photo Credit: Rachel Pearlman Photography

Give rustic pillars an upgrade by wrapping them in twinkling lights (ask your venue for permission first). A fleet of reindeer is a fun addition to any party. The ones shown below are whimsical without being too literal or over-the-top.

Photo Credits: Rachel Pearlman Photography

Make a dazzling first impression on your guests when they walk into your reception space. Stack gift-wrapped favors underneath a towering Christmas tree. Or, if you’re not planning on giving out favors, you can gift-wrap empty boxes to create the same scene.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Miniature snowflake frames guided guests to their tables.

Photo Credits: Rachel Pearlman Photography

Fun Details

Include your favorite holiday tunes in the music playlist for a rollicking good time. One New Year’s Eve bride we interviewed recently had her first dance to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Pinpoints of light make for an extra-memorable first dance.

Photo Credit: A Magic Moment

A snowflake placemat enhances the shine of your new wedding ring.

Photo Credit: Shoreshotz

If only rings grew from pine cones and trees…

Photo Credits (from left to right): Rachel Pearlman Photography and Kristen Hornberger Photography

Even the most reserved elderly relative won’t be able to resist cracking a smile in these holiday-themed getups. Rudolph ears, anyone?

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Dash away, dash away, dash away all. If we can’t have Santa’s sleigh, then we’ll settle for a colorful trolley or bus to transport guests, instead.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Holiday Treats

When an all-white cake is illuminated with light, it’s easier to spot patterns and delicate details that might be missed in a darker setting.

Photo Credits: Shoreshotz

A five-tiered dessert masterpiece with its own VIP area isn’t in my budget. However, anyone can steal this trick and enhance their cake with a lush tablecloth—no six-figure digits required.

Photo Credit: Jaxon Photography

Make a basic cake look more ornate by placing it on a decorated crystal stand. You can rent the cake stands from a wedding rental shop, bakery, wedding coordinator, or website (check out RaisetheCake.com). Or, make it a fun DIY project and create your own with craft supplies and rhinestones.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Learn how to recreate a similar optical illusion here!

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Photo Credit: Rachel Pearlman Photography

Which photo is your favorite? How are you celebrating Christmas with your loved ones this year?

How to make white pumpkin centerpieces

Pin It

An autumn wedding does not need to be associated only with orange, red, and brown. I found some lovely white pumpkins that can create the perfect vase for an all-white wedding. They are so easy to make that you’ll want to use them all year round.

Materials: white flowers of your choice, white pumpkins, knife, flower clippers

Pin It

Step 1: Like normal jack-o-lantern, cut a circle into the pumpkin. Don’t make it too small or too wide. Too small might look a bit funny with flowers in it, and too wide might make them fall out.

Step 2: I left all the seeds inside so it would be easier to stick the flowers in.

Step 3: Put some water into the pumpkin for the flowers.

Pin It

Step 4: Criss-cross the flowers so they hold their shape like above.

Step 5: Keep on criss-crossing until the pumpkin has a nice shape of flowers.

Pin It

Done! Aren’t they just the cutest?

Project and photography by Brittany Watson Jepsen of The House That Lars Built

Useful Resources for Designing on a Budget

 By Matt Slabaugh

“Mom, can I have a cookie?”

“Sure thing honey.  Here you go.”

“But this is oatmeal; I wanted a chocolate chip one.”

“Well Sweetie, beggars can’t be choosy.”

That was the first time I heard the phrase “beggars can’t be choosy,” though it certainly was not the last.  Of course my mother was teaching me that if you want something for free then you need to be willing to take what you’re given even if it’s not exactly what you wanted (though today oatmeal is one of my favorite cookies).

I’m a Graphic Designer, and like most in this profession I do not create ads for Nike, event signage for Red Bull, or page layouts for Wired Magazine.  I do not have access to star athletes, big budgets for helicopter aerial shots, or the luxury of being on-site at a photo shoot explicitly for my cover design.

Though, today I generally have a stock-photo budget, I try to use it as little as possible.  In part to keep the cost of my projects down and I always prefer to use “real” shot whenever possible over a staged one.  So I’ve developed a toolkit of sorts composed of go-to sites, handy tricks, and other resources for designing on little to no budget.

All of the sites in this post offer free design resources but always triple check the copyright information before using something in your project.  Now that legal is out-of-the-way, let’s get to it.

The One Stop Shop

If you have time to visit one site Smashing Magazine  is a fantastic catchall.  From Photoshop brushes and icon sets, to tutorials and best practice articles, this site has everything you need to keep your skills sharp and your tool box full of goodies.

Fonts:

Font Squirrel is my personal favorite.  Not only is everything free but all of there fonts are available for commercial use.  This is a great resource where everything is professional grade and ready for you to use.  Don’t forget to tip the staff and donate to the author.  Even if it’s a $5, it helps them continue to provide you with a high quality products and require nothing in return.

Dafont.com  is another good site; however you need to be sure to read the copyright information carefully because some of their fonts are labeled for Personal Use Only.

Sometimes you have a design that’s almost there, buy you feel it just needs that one extra little element, or ornament to be more precise.  Briar Press has a section where they offer over 700 free ornaments for you to use, and might be that piece you’re looking for. 

Photos:

At this point you should know that just about anything you can think of has a Wikipedia page, and that most of the Wikipedia have at least one photo.  But, did you know that many of those photos like the one below of a locomotives roundhouse (original size 11.5×9 inches at 300 dpi) are available under public domain?  Even  the ones are still under copyright are usually only under Creative Commons (i.e. as long as you attribute the author you can use it however you’d like).  All the photos shown on wiki pages are stored at Wikimedia Commons, a great resource to check when looking for something specific.

locomotives-roundhouse-wikimedia

Speaking of Public Domain, the Library of Congress has done a great job of converting and making available a ton of their images in digital format.  Going for an Americana look?  Want the original city plans of a major city for background?  The Library of Congress might just have what you need.

If you need more recent photos of a particular city, their Convention and Visitors Bureau site is worth a glance.  Just about every city has a CVB, and a quick e-mail asking for permission to use their photos will usually be met with a Yes reply.

Vector Images:

Vecteezy is a good site if you’re in need of vector illustration.  I have found many backgrounds and one-off elements that would have taken me hours to create otherwise.

Need some icons but want a little personality to go with them?  You could do a lot worse than The Noun Project  Everything is free, but just like most of these sites you’ll need to check attribution requirements.  This is an open community where anyone can submit an icon but, event with the multitude of authors you can mix and match to create entire sets that work together seamlessly.

I check at least one of these sites every time I need something, but always keeping in mind the words of my mother: if I want something for free I need to be able to work with what I’m given.  Though with these sites, more often than not I find the oatmeal cookie is what I wanted after all.

Don’t see your go-to site on the list?  Let me know in the comments. I’m always on the hunt for great resource sites and interested in what other designers use.

Choosing Your Wedding Party

By Real Simple  

The how-tos of picking your perfect attendants.

Maid of Honor

Pinned Image

Whom to choose: Sisters trump friends, but otherwise go for your oldest and most loyal pal―the one who knows when to tell you what you want to hear and when to be brutally honest.

Job description: As chief ringleader, the MOH plans the shower and the bachelorette party and is also responsible for keeping the bridesmaid machine running smoothly by staying on top of fittings and other tasks the bride has delegated. May be asked to make a toast at the rehearsal dinner. Gets bonus points for bringing safety pins to the bridal dressing area.

Caveat: Since organizing and motivating are key duties of the MOH, choose your lovable but scatterbrained best friend only if you’re prepared to do a lot of the heavy lifting yourself.

Best Man

Whom to choose: A brother or the best friend who won’t party too hard after the rehearsal dinner―you do want him to make it to the ceremony, after all. In some parts of the country, it’s customary for the groom to choose his father.

Job description: Takes care of all bachelor events and provides support to the groom. Keeps track of wedding rings even if there is a ring bearer (you don’t want to assign that task to a four-year-old). Kicks off the toasts at the rehearsal dinner.

Caveat: Picking someone who gets along with the bride is a plus.

Bridesmaids

Pinned Image

Whom to choose: Fun friends who will still be in your life long after you’ve thrown out that last chunk of frozen wedding cake. Negative, needy dramatic types need not apply. Once again, sisters and close cousins beat out friends for bridesmaid status. Don’t forget your fiancé’s sister.

Job description: As members of Team Bride, bridesmaids participate in all prewedding events. They are also required to smile while purchasing their dresses, no matter what those dresses look like; dance enthusiastically to “Shout” at the reception; run errands; attend any tastings, site visits, or meetings that the bride asks them to; and stay until the end of the reception.

Caveat: Out-of-town bridesmaids get a pass on most parties, but they still must send a gift for the shower.

Groomsmen

Groomsmen

Whom to choose: Old friends, cousins, and both the bride’s and groom’s brothers.

Job description: If necessary, seating guests, helping the best man throw the bachelor party, and dancing with the bridesmaids.

Caveat: If you’re having a large wedding, you can also have ushers, who will help with seating but won’t walk down the aisle.

Flower Girl

Pinned Image

Whom to choose: An adorable moppet, such as a cousin, a niece, a godchild, or a stepchild between the ages of three and six. Not to be confused with junior bridesmaids, who are older and wear tween versions of the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Job description: Scattering flower petals as she walks down the aisle. May be accompanied by the ring bearer.

Caveat: Prepare to deal with disruptions, such as crying or not making it all the way down the aisle.

Ring Bearer

Whom to choose: A boy young enough to wear knickers, saddle shoes, and long kneesocks, but who won’t turn the velvet pillow into a projectile. (Watch out, Grandma!)

Job description: No surprise―bearing the ring. Accompanying the flower girl down the aisle.

Caveat: Be sure to secure the rings to whatever they’re being carried in or on.

International Weddings in Black & White Photography

Wedding at Mardan Palace in Antalya Turkey.  The Mardan Palace is considered as Europe’s and the Mediterranean’s most expensive luxury resort! Wedding photography by Manuel Meszarovits — Wedding photography at Château Eza one of the most enchanting locations on the … Continue reading

A PHOTO ALBUM FOR THE SENSES

By Cheryl Fish

I’m beginning this photo album at the end…dessert! Joann Roth-Oseary loves doing dessert trios, so I thought I’d offer the designdawg pack three tasty ideas for events for the Winter-Spring season. Designing dessert presentations is like designing events. First you need a focal point and then you can create the “fluff” around it.

This delicious dessert trio was designed for an automobile corporation. The goal was to design a dessert that had unique form and structure. The plate became our “showroom floor” that beautifully showcased the latest dessert delicacies.

 
Sweet and Structural Desserts
From bottom to top: A chocolate bombe encircled with a necklace of mini macarons; a white chocolate and blood orange creamsicle; an almond tuille filled with a cannoli.
 

LUSH AND LOUD   Lush, and loud…by loud I mean an event that speaks its mind with strong design and culinary statements. Here are three that don’t pull any punches!

 
The Big “B”
The decor and menu for this event revolved around a retirement party for a film executive. It was imperative to brand the send-off party with details that defined the honoree. His last name began with “B” so that was a natural, but better yet, upon retirement he planned to focus more on his hobby — bee keeping!
 
The theme came in loud and clear. A walk-around library with “B” book ends was a nod to the film libraries the executive had developed at the movie studio. A dramatic 12-foot high, three-dimensional bee hive creation sat in the center of the large comfort food buffet in the Bee Hive Lounge where guests could enjoy “Hot-from-the-Hive” honey spreads consisting of creamy mango, lemon, cinnamon and cranberry honey.
 
 
Caviar Chic
The inspiration for this event color palette originated from the Pantone colors of Honeysuckle, Regatta and Silver Cloud. The caviar station was presented on a custom sculpture of four vertical Plexi colonnades faced with a brushed platinum patter that was illuminated from within. The columns provided the framework for the elegant display of caviar, toast points, blinis and baby new potatoes that were tiered on varying level upon large, glass platforms. Bundles of monochromatic flowers were placed in a collection of modern vessels.
 
 
And the Envelope Please!
It was loud and clear who the nominees were at this event. VIPs entered the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foreign Language Film Awards through a hallway that literally spelled out the titles of the nominated films. Each was vibrantly lighted in rotating LED hues.
 

REFINED SUGAR   Refinement doesn’t have to mean bland. Here, is sweetness that doesn’t cloy; a taste of sugar that adds no calories…with the exception of a few teeny calories in this first example!

 
An Out of This World Dessert
At SITK, we meet with our pastry chef to discuss possibilities for outrageous desserts that reflect the themes of events. For a Seventh Heaven theme, our chef created a chocolate bombe surrounded by a flurry of white cotton candy topped with a white chocolate, gold-embossed angel.
 
 
Seventh Heaven
At that same event, tablescapes on the six, 32-foot sprawling tables were embellished with mirrored stars, translucent vessels, glistening candles and huge poofs of white hydrangea, roses and dahlias, sky blue napkins and white, fluffy table linens swathed the tables in powder pink, sky blue and light lilac.
 
A French Boudoir
We created a sensual vibe by introducing a color palette of passionate purple, ravishing red and bold black. The central buffet was swathed in black satin and etoile flocked fabrics. A dramatic cornice box, constructed with recessed lighting, was supported with upholstered columns. The buffet offered an array of appetizers that were beautifully embellished with rose pomander balls and unusual vessels. The spectacular structure was drizzled with hundreds of crystal orbs that cascaded over the station. Clusters of violet rose patterns bathed the ceiling and surrounding walls in light.
 
 
Flying High
A sleek plate designed as a runway starter course. From the top: a lobster martini with citrus vinaigrette and candied pistachios; cucumber avocado soup with chive oil; a Vidalia onion hay stack; watermelon beet soup with creme fraiche; and a chanterelle mushroom pancetta and Crescenza cheese tart.
 
 
Up, Up and Away
At that same event, two 100-foot long, runway-like dining tables were precisely positioned inside an airplane hangar with the unexpected placement of a vintage JU52 plane in the background. It felt as though the plane was actually circling inside the hangar, intensifying the vibe of the event. Metallic platinum linen, sleek candelabra and dollops of clustered floral conveyed the beauty of this feat of engineering.
 
 
Night Cap Lounge
After a dinner party, guests were surprised when French doors opened off a dining room to reveal a late night lounge. The outside patio had been tented which was then draped and pleated with white fabric. Dramatic black chandeliers and a flickering fireplace added a warm glow that complemented the glow of friendship in the setting.

You’re Engaged! Now What? The 12 Things You Need to Do Right After You Get the Ring

by Lexi Petronis

Call Your Relatives (Even the Ones You Never Really Talk to)

Engagement DOs and DON’Ts start almost the second you say yes. Your first task? Sharing the exciting news with the world. And how easy would it be to do so in 140 characters or fewer or with a quick status update? No matter how tempting, it’s an engagement no-no to not pick up the phone and call your family members and friends. All of them. No one likes to be the last to know—and getting the news via mass e-mail, Twitter update or Facebook is especially rotten. So set aside a few hours and plow through your phone book (you can enlist your mom, sister, aunt or another family representative to help you out).

Get Your Ring Sized

Your stunning sparkler is perfect in every way, except for the wiggle room (or maybe it’s a little tight and turning your fingertip a not-so-Tiffany-blue). Get it resized ASAP—after all, you’ll be showing it to everyone and the last thing you want is to lose the thing an hour after you get it. The process can take just a few hours or, at most, a few days.

pick-a-ring-h724

Get Your Ring Insured

Nothing can replace the sentimental value of your ring, but if something happens to it, at least you can get your (or his) money back. If you have home owner’s or renter’s insurance, call to add the ring to your policy. You may need an official appraisal before you can officially add the ring, so call the insurance broker to see what paperwork is required. If you don’t already have renter’s insurance, it can be cheaper to buy it (you should have it anyway) and then add the ring. Your broker will be able to help you find the right option.

Set a Date—Even If It’s Not the Date

After “congratulations” and “let me see your ring,” here’s the first thing people will ask: “When’s the wedding?” It’ll save you lots of headaches if the two of you come up with a vague-yet-specific answer, like “We’re shooting for early 2011” or “We like the idea of next fall.” People appreciate feeling like they’re in the loop, and they’ll also put the event into their mental datebooks. Plus, it’ll give you and your guy a little direction as you start planning.

Create a Wedding Blog

Now that you’ve told everyone the good news (on the phone, missy—see step No. 1), set up a wedding site or blog to keep everyone apprised of your nuptial news. Post photos, write your “how we met” story, have a guestbook—make it as personal and interactive as you want. Get the bare bones up first; later on, you can get fancy with wedding details, hotel advice, maps, quizzes, daily thoughts and whatever other wedding whimsies you want to share. Send it around to those who ask, but be prepared for the fact that your mom and your BFF may be the only ones who want to read it.  

create-a-wedding-blog-w724

Daydream (a Lot)

Get a bunch of wedding magazines, watch Father of the Bride for feel-good tears, look at maps for honeymoon ideas, blog-stalk engagement sites and Glamour Weddings. Give yourself permission to let your brain turn into its own wedding channel. If you haven’t been planning your wedding since you turned five, that’s OK; now’s a good time to collect ideas that inspire you and to learn what you want—and don’t want—in your wedding.

Plan a Night Out With Just Your Fiancé

Until the celebrations and parties and wedding are finally over, there’s not going to be much “just the two of you” moments. Get in some good face time with each other now—and make it a point not to talk wedding details. Yes, there’s a ton to do, but for now, it’s perfectly OK to hit the town and celebrate—just you and him.

plan-a-date-night-w724

Get a Wedding Planner

No, not a wedding planner person—at least not yet. Get an iPhone app, a datebook, a calendar or some other kind of keep-organized device to help you create a timeline for major wedding-related tasks. While you’re at it, pick up a wedding-planning binder to keep all those inspirational ideas you found in step 6.

Think About Whether You Want a Wedding Coordinator or Want to Go It Alone

Review the elements of your wedding that’ll take a little planning—negotiating with bakers and caterers for the best prices, finding the ideal venue, organizing party favors—and figure out if those are tasks you want to tackle alone or if you’d rather hire a wedding planner (stress reduction and a little time-saving sounds nice, right?). Keep in mind that a wedding coordinator will cost extra money, so make sure the option fits into your budget before you give it serious consideration.

find-a-wedding-planner-h724

Start a Wedding Savings Account

Remember that even a simple, small wedding costs money (and sometimes a lot more money than you would ever imagine). A wedding savings account is an easy way to keep cash accumulating for the big day, so you don’t have to rely on plastic to bear the brunt later on. Open a basic savings account at any bank—or look online for higher-interest accounts at sites like ally.com and etrade.com—then deposit a set amount every paycheck that’ll go toward wedding-related expenses only.

 

wedding-savings-account-h724

Ask Your Parents (and His) for Their Ideal Guest Lists

Before you start putting a number on how many guests you want, it’s time to ask both your parents about whom they’d most want to invite. Be sure to tell them this is just a preliminary list and things might change—it’s on paper, not set in stone. After you have their “dream” lists, you can add and edit and trim. Helpful hint: Ask them to help prioritize their wish list by breaking it into tiers—it’ll help you make cuts later on.

Chill Out and Have Fun!

Take time to relax—get a massage, sleep in when you can. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event purely about you and your fiancé. You are allowed to enjoy it!