Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lost in Translation: Attire

Rule Three: Dress for the Occassion.

This should be a no-brainer. It's just that I have seen two ends of the spectrum. On one end, we have a bride who thinks that the fashionable parade of bridesmaids and the obsessively "vintage" decor are mutually exclusive--- her maids will daunt uninspired strapless A-lines with a color-coordinated sash... and assume that her job is done an all is cohesive. On the other extreme, the maids can come off a little costume-like with period pieces. If you are looking for a Jackie or Audrey or Grace affair... then dress the gals accordingly with pieces that are inspired by the same things you are.... Pieces that feel as though they belong at the event that you are creating. Style the bridal party as though they are an extension of your wedding decor... use them to your advantage. THEY can be that amazing accent piece that you are needing... they're the most under-used accessory in event design (in my humble opinion)

Teri Jon does such a lovely job of this. I LOVE her line. Couldn't you see yourself wearing this? Couldn't you see it on the cover of Vogue? Couldn't you just imagine some lovely dame from yesteryear sporting this? And can't you just see the generations to come drooling over these pieces? That- is-timelessness... the ability to endure the changes in fashion, trends, and ideas...

Lost In Translation... Decor.

Rule Two: Don't force it.

There is nothing worse then being slapped in the face with indicators that this is what the party "theme" is over and over. It's like sitting next to a talkie at a movie who wants to tell you that "oh this is a funny part coming up, watch"... if you have to tell someone it is funny then you are belittling their humor-radar... the same holds true for weddings and events. If you feel that the substance of the event is not enough on its own and you have to keep reiterating the fact that there was a distinct vision in this design (i/e: over prop-ing or mega-styling the event) then chances are that your original vision was not carried out to its fullest potential.

You want to create a unique experience for your guests unlike any other. You want it to draw inspiration from great design and you want it to be pulled together- but you don't want it to be one-note. Great, meaningful events (reguardless of budget) are formed from a series of complex layers that work together to form a complete thought... a well rounded story. There needs to be emotion. There needs to be a little drama. There needs to be something unexpected. Events, in my opinion, are an extension of you. The way you entertain is NOT mutually exclusive from the way you live.

When styling a room in your home or putting together an outfit what are the things that you first consider? Is it color selection or patterns or an overall "feel" that you are trying to convey? Do you find yourself falling in love with a one piece and then building around it or do you try to match like-minded pieces together to form a whole? Are you into making a statement through a focal piece or do you tend to design through accessories? These are questions that I encourage brides to explore.

Use your own aesthetic and design method to allow the event to unfold. I believe that inspiration boards are very powerful tools. I encourage every bride to have a cork board that they can add and take away from throughout the process. I usually suggest that brides have a second board next to the wedding board. This board is specifically for items that are non-wedding related. Throughout the process, be sure to cross-reference and see how closely your vision for the day matches who you are outside of the wedding world.

When faced with an amazing idea in a magazine, ask yourself the relevance of that element to YOUR wedding. It is okay to admire someone else's creativity and wit, but know that your wedding is indicative of YOUR story and thus it is unnecessary to "keep up with the Jones". The most endearing events are not those that try to do EVERYTHING... they are the ones which keep moderation and restraint in mind. When you feel as though you are being torn in a dozen directions with the style of the wedding, distance yourself from the design. Don't allow over-saturation of ideas to be the driving force behind your To-Do List.

Lost In Translation... Venue

Firstly, it is important that I state that I love drawing inspiration from the past- but that is where it must stop.... inspiration. You don't want your wedding looking like your grandmother's living room any more than you want it to look like those "dated" weddings of tulle and mirror centerpieces. So let's examine a few rules that I have for creating a vintage- err- timeless affair.

Rule ONE: Don't make it LOOK like something, make it BE something....

This is an important one. You see, I completely agree that you need a VISION and a COHESIVE THREAD.... but sometimes we can take this a little too literal and the party looks over styled and like a kid in a costume. You don't want it to resemble a Hollywood Glamour Feel- you want it to emulate that feeling on its own.... One of the easiest ways to fall into this catagory is by bad venue choice. If you want a lavishly grand event, then opt for a lavishly grand environment. Go for Architecturely Interesting Spaces. In truth, your money is better spent in finding a space that sets the tone rather than trying to make another space into your ideal setting. Dressing up a banquet hall in hundreds of flowers doesn't make it have a "garden feel".... slapping a few palms into a museum doesn't make it tropical.... embrace the space you are in and make sure that every decision you make is indicative of the overall vision you have.
Find beautiful spaces that will not need so much to enhance them. Rather than look at their price tag and think - Oh no, but what about everything else? - Think... well in reality there won't be as much "something else's" because I won't need to bring in all the other "stuff"... A gorgeous space will be gorgeous for decades to come- it is my firm belief that some of these "platinum, over the top affairs" will seem a little dated in the coming years. Your space needs to make you feel something... and that something should be the same feeling that you are trying to acheive with the overall design. (This is the ceremony site of my upcomming nuptuals.... we chose the oak for so many reasons- this massive tree makes you feel as though you are in the prescence of something so much greater than you- something that has sustained so much and something that you want to understand. We are going for a warm, approachable, but still very moving event. I think that this tree hits all of our marks.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lost in Translation.

So when does vintage become a little played out? Yes- I am really saying that. As someone that drools over early Vogue, obsesses over Old Hollywood, and holds Burlesque Queens in high regard.... I never thought that the day would come when I would say that I am a little over the whole "vintage is cool" movement. The reason that all of the before mentioned resonated with me was because of their timelessness... Now I am faced with wide-eyed brides brining in kitschy flea market finds by the bus load, hoping that we can work it into their wedding and make emulate the same feeling.... The truth is, I just can't. I won't. I'm sorry. It's just that throwing up a few Vogue posters and naming the tables after Silverscreen Starlettes isn't going to transform your affair into a timeless piece of art.

It is time that we come to terms with reality... we need to discuss what makes a MODERN wedding timeless, and understand that VINTAGE elements of style are wonderful, but in moderation- and only when it assists the design.

Over the next few posts, hopefully I can clear up what my version of a "vintage" wedding is ... and more importantly, what it is not.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sliding back in under the radar...

I was just over at Perfectbound where I saw this....

and it reminded me of an event that I did a couple years back. I had a bride with a really challenging color concept.... royal purple, grass green, sunshine yellow... and just a hint of coral here and there....

At first I was a little frightened by the hodge-podge of colors, but in the end- the bride's enthusiasm told us to just go for it....

When you decide to go with such a BOLD color choice, then it is important that it is done in such a way as to appear effortless and not forced- otherwise you run the risk of coming off too strong and much like a child's birthday party. Bold colors are fun, but often can loose their elegance in translation.

So our recipe for that day went something like this:

1. Hold the wedding at MOCA, a modern art museum downtown... which provided a blank canvas of white walls and steel so as to not compete with the color choices. It is very important that brides realize that their choice of venue must dictate the design- and if the design or colors are chosen first, then the venue must follow suit... there is nothing worse then walking into a ballroom that is trying to be a tropical wedding.... or walking onto a beach where the beautiful shoreline is littered with trellis and garden arches. So remember.... you want it to flow naturally and effortlessly- don't force it.

2. We shipped in really vibrant flowers- keeping it simple. Using granny smith reindeer moss, tulips, mini callas, orchids, bear grass, bells of ireland, and wire we created arrangements that weren't (as the bride said) "fluffy". Playing with submerged pieces and free-form design, we sought to bring the contemporary sculptural art from the museum into the flower arrangements as well without getting too strange for the bride's somewhat reserved taste.

3. Next, we took a space that was very open and disected it. When the ceremony, cocktails, and reception are taking place in one location it is very important that you consider the flow. Just like a fine story, an event should have a beginning, a climax, and a denouement. We acheived this by seperating the space using white sheer voile fabric, hung loosely over the exposed piping... creating a backdrop for the ceremony- adding a little lighting caused a really dramatic effect and brought in the coral... later in the evening, the fabric was tied into oversided knots to reveal the buffet, stations, and cake. We also used lighting to our advantage. Due to the fact that the guests would be able to view the galleries at their leisure during the cocktail hour and later on, we could not give the space that low lighting effect, so we had to bring in bold uplighting to shoot up the 20+ ft walls... in doing this, we were able to seperate the spaces by color and then coordinate it with the linens to further give a distinct spacial layout.

4. From here, we began adding those special little details that brought together the overall design and made it personal to the bride and groom.... having an arts and crafts table for the kiddies... serving "MOCA" covered coffee beans.... passing the food on artist palettes, having signature drinks named after the couple's hometowns, a little of the couple's personality on the napkins and program (with a quote from their fav. movie Patch Adams)... a family friend played the violin prior to the ceremony and during the processional...she walked down the aisle to "Groovy kind of Love"- gave him a drum set grooms cake, and they danced to the Beetles....

This particular design was successful in its execution because we kept in mind several things:

1. Keep it simple. Don't over design or try to be too ambitious in your design.

2. Keep in mind your timeframe. For this design, we only had a few months and we knew that we would have a very strict and limited schedule for set up and break down at the museum. Because of this, we opted to keep it basic but impactual.

3. Keep your budget in mind. Sure, we considered doing Andy Warhol-inspired floral portraits of the couple... but let's be realistic.... this was a young couple in love and the last thing we wanted was to send them off into the great big world with a mound of debt- so we kept the outline figure in mind throughout the process... they opted to have a couple of stations but mainly passed trays throughout the reception. They cut back on flowers by working with us to have minimalistic designs in mass and single groupings. They chose basic bengaline linens, but chose to keep the tables minimal and provide lounge seating and a tent for overflow. They didn't go crazy with decor or trying to fill the big space- rather, they used inexpensive lighting techniques to their advantage. This allowed them to focus their budget on a live band, the museum galleries for their guests, and the venue. I love that we were able to illustrate how a designer can help you stay within budget, not bust it.

4. Don't compete with the environment. Playing off of the art, we were able to make this crazy color scheme work. We allowed the museum to speak for itself and allowed the decor to unfold around it seamlessly. Our overall concept was to just "dress up" the space- taking a stance that if one were to go to a lavish afair, they would keep their own sense of style but just jazz it up a little... and that is what we saught to do with the space- put it in its sunday best......

Monday, March 3, 2008

One Stop Shop: CB2

Who doesn't love CB2? They are my "other Ikea"... and much of my own wedding is inspired by their line of lab-vases. What I love about CB2 is that they often assist in illustrating to my brides how a white wedding can be modern and crisp and clean. When I have a bride that is struggling to find her voice in a sea of viable color options... I like to suggest that she not choose one or two or three- rather go with an all white canvas and add punches of colors in her desired intensity. If she decides to go muted, it will come off feminine- bold, it will come off modern, patterned and bold- very ecclectic..... and so- here is my version of a tongue-in-cheek swanky soiree for a young couple that don't take themselves too seriously.... enjoy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One Stop Shop: Ikea Formal

When I enter Ikea, I feel a sense of excitement that is far different than my other favorite stores- mainly because when I enter, I do not have to calculate the total in my head or decide whether I can afford the single picture frame or the candleholder... no my dear friend Ikea allows me to shop as though I were in the financial state I dream of being in.... Ikea is my little shot of champagne on a beer budget- and for that I am grateful.

I turn to Ikea often when designing weddings. It is great for bulk small vases or textiles- especially for my more modern brides. The first in this little trio is for the gal that wants to go highly sophisticated but stay well within her means... thus the color scheme is black, white, and chartreuse- very modern, yet decidedly timeless. My thoughts were of this bride being practical and opting for a cocktail reception with passed hor deurves rather than a seated dinner or buffet... I imagine this in either an art gallery or a loft space or even a raw urban setting (perhaps a rooftop garden?) The idea is to keep it simple yet refined....

Even when hosting a cocktail reception, it is important to still have an evolution throughout the evening... which can be a little tricky when everything is taking place in ONE location. The way to do this is by building up the story through the use of lighting, menu, and entertainment. Perhaps have a dusk wedding (see eachother before the wedding and get the pictures out of the way, also opt for a day-after photo session)... keep the ceremony simple. I love the idea of the bride wearing the signature chartreuse and her maids in black- skipping the tux for the guys and keeping them in cool and sleek cocktail attire.... The maids carrying callas, the bride carrying phaelenopsis orchids with beargrass loops.... tons of candles everywhere....I love the idea of taking the unity candle concept a bit further (esp at dusk weddings)... by having tapers at all guests' chairs... then during the ceremony, having the bride and groom take their unity candle and light the MOH/Best Man's candles- letting this one flame slowly go down the line and then extend to all of the guests... the symbolism is so moving to see this small flicker make its way thorughout the entire wedding-

Guests are lead to the cocktail reception by luminaries- signature chartreuse drinks, an agressively ecclectic menu cleverly displayed, and a live musician (piano soloist- think Nora Jones or Kate Nash) will set the tone. I really love the idea of having a polaroid station- and at this wedding having clotheslines overhead with tiny black pins to display them "gallery style" works well... just snap, write a message, and then pin it up to display (have someone collect them at the end of the night)

It is always a good idea, if you are going to do something like this, to have SOME SEATING for those elderly guests, pregnant guests, etc. I suggest having a "reserved table" for parents/grandparents/couple... as well as extended seating for about 1/3 of guests. Keep the tables SMALL (about 4-5) to encourage mingling and emphasize the cocktail feel.... As the night draws onward, you can have a couple of stations (pasta, sushi, etc) open for an hour or so... do this tactfully so that not everyone is rushing to the limited seating at once. Keep the hor deurves comming, getting a little heavier now-
***For a wedding of 100, that means about 30 should have a firm seat at a table- which also means that you can splurge a little and get decor for these that you really love, to later transition into your home.

Once the group has mingled and the stations have lost their pizzaz... it is time to get the party started! I LOVE LOVE LOVE a band- but if you must have a dj- opt for lounge/house music for this particular affair. The passed selection should move into lighter and perhaps dessert selections... there should be a change in lighting (from candlelight to bold color shooting up the walls, plants, etc)... Lounge furniture is always a great compliment to your limited seating.... and simple arrangements which use open-bookcases as dividers really make an impact! (Fill the shelves minimally with items from your courtship, framed photos of your guests' weddings, etc)... Hire a performer to keep the energy up (think cirque du soleil or have a sand-artist onsite.... Have stretch fabric overhead here and there, projecting black and whites of your engagement... and end the evening with an unexpected parting gift in leui of favors (think espressos at the valet, individual morning-after packets (aspirin, earplugs and a bottled miniature of the "sig drink" labeled "hair of the dog") at the coatcheck)

The idea with this design is to keep everything manageable.... by cutting the portions, the seating, and perhaps the guestlist- you will save TREMENDOUSLY... less flowers, less linens, less food= less money. But, more importantly, it is about taking a concept and keeping all of the elements in line with that rather than focusing too much on keeping it "wedding-like or bridal"...

Friday, February 22, 2008

One Stop Shop: Anthropologie Offbeat

The last in our little trio on Anthro. will be for the gal who loves this store not only for its gorgeous inventory... but also for its inspiring displays. Lets face it, part of the way that we justify their somewhat hefty pricetags is because of that warm fuzzy feeling we instantly get when we step in- the space is just so inspiring and unexpected...

So while you can definately justify purchasing many of these items for your wedding and then reusing them for your home- a little part of you wants those creative projects that all the brides around the blog-scene drool over....

I suggest that you look towards Anthro's gorgeous window and product displays for inspiration when styling the event.... by mixing highs (beautiful tea cups, platters, and select furniture pieces) with lows:

straw chandliers

straw chargers

mason jar lighting

newspaper (or love letter)space divider/definers

sticks- lots of sticks

You will be able to stay within budget, keep it indicative of YOUR STYLE, and even have a mound of useful pieces for your married life. Perhaps you could have one of the art directors at your local Anthro commissioned to be a part of your team??

Good luck! And for all you IKEA gals- check back later as that will be our next stop in the series....