Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An "Animal Crackers" Wish Tree

Wish trees are a popular alternative to the traditional guest book these days and often, paper tags are used to adorn a manzanita branch. Manzanita branches are pricey ($20-45) and I wondered how well the paper tags would hold up after the wedding.

Initially, I thought ceramic ornaments, where guests could write on the back would be the solution. But, I couldn't find them at Michael's. What I found online cost $2+ per ornament, plus shipping. Then, I dug deep into my childhood memories: salt dough ornaments! 

Guitar Fred and I made a batch (4 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup hot tap water). Super cheap. We let it rest for 12 hours (half a day) and then rolled it out and used cookie cutters to punch out the ornaments. I only have a hippo and dog cookie cutter and I'll need to buy some more. We'll need to paint them with colored paint and then clear varnish to preserve them before guests can write their recipes for a good marriage on the back. They're still a work in progress, but I'm pretty happy with the direction we're going in so far. Ultimately, I can see the theme of our wish tree turning into "Animal Crackers." Super cute!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Sweet Engagement Shoot by Jerry Yoon

Swoon! My former colleague, Bethany, is getting hitched and she and her fiance are working with one of my favorite photographers, Jerry Yoon, for their wedding. Both Jerry and Bethany were kind enough to let me share their engagement shoot with you all. Congrats, Bethany and Bryan!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Inspiration #70: The Newlywed Game

I recently coordinated my first wedding of the 2010 season (see photos by photographer Nancy Rothstein here) and the wedding party coordinated a fun newlywed game involving their shoes! The bridesmaids set out two chairs back-to-back and seated the bride and groom facing away from each other. In each hand, the bride and groom had the other's shoe and their own. For each question, such as "Who is the better cook?" or "Who spends more money?" the bride and groom raised the shoe (representing themselves or their better half) that best answered the question. The game elicited lots of chuckles and I thought it was a great way to lighten the mood.

What are variations of the newlywed game that you fancy?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fiddling with my centerpieces

Our reception hall has doors that open up to the garden outside and I wanted to bring a bit of the garden inside. While Guitar Fred and I don't have a garden, we do have lots of succulents in pots and glass vessels at our apartment. 

I've always loved the look of succulent terrariums. I planted these succulents in October and they're beginning to bloom. The plant on the right is a trailing oregano. What's missing in the photos are the vintage white milk glass -- which I'll fill with a head of hydrangeas.

I've been looking at orange pintuck linens for the tables. For your centerpieces, are you going for a single, tall/short vase arrangement, or something clustered like below?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wedding Insurance

Most wedding reception venues require that you get special event insurance ($1 million liability coverage). I was searching for that and I came across "Protect My Wedding." I was surprised that in addition to liability, there's a whole lot more covered for only $360 (according to the premium calculator on Travelers Insurance):
  • Ruined attire (dress, suit)
  • Lost deposits
  • Lost rings
  • Severe weather
  • Transportation shutdown
  • Ruined photos
  • Stolen gifts
  • No-shows
  • Accidental injury or damages
According to Claims Magazine, 40% of wedding insurance claims were because of vendors or venues going bankrupt. Twenty-two percent of claims were a result of key family members not being able to attend due to sickness, untimely death and travel delays.

So, did you consider wedding insurance or did you actually buy the premium? 

With all that could potentially go wrong, it seems like a small price to pay after all -- even for this bride on a budget.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

How rude!

Just saw this post on Wedding Wire
Sorry for this mini rant, but has anyone else had any problems with some vendors on here being very rude?
I put out a "match me" for reception location only (catering was to be separate), and one vendor declined and then bitched at me, telling me not to send out low budget leads.


I'm sorry I have a budget, all you have to do is decline and then say "not a good match" instead of saying in a round about way that I'm a cheapskate! 
Posted On: Mar 7, 2010 at 6:20 PM
Here's another one from the Wedding Bee boards:
We attended the Bridal Extravaganza a few months after booking our venue.  Since our venue package included our cakes from a vendor, we went over to her booth and introduced ourselves.  She was RUDE!  Horribly rude and acted as if we were wasting her time.  The sad part was that we didn't even ask any questions or really take any of her time.  We decided that she won't get a PENNY of extra money from our package.  I'm dragging my feet on booking our appointment with her.  Even though her attitude is bad, her work is beautiful. At least the cake will be pretty! Querida    10*10*10   Sugar Land, TX
It boggles my mind that a vendor in the wedding SERVICE industry would even consider acting impatient, condescending, and pushy.

Have you had any encounters with rude vendors? Would you still book them because their work is stellar, despite their dismal client relation skills?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Me on E! House of Brides?

I know we're all wary about Craigslist -- it's good for finding a free couch, but not so good for finding a date (believe me, stay away from it). A couple years back, I answered a vague Craigslist ad in the "gigs" section looking for people who wanted to be audience members for a cooking show. It sounded fun, so I emailed the anonymous email address and a week later I found myself on Bobby Flay's Throwdown (yep, that's the back of his head, haha).

So when I saw an ad for House of Brides on Craigslist, I applied just for fun. The premise of the show is that you compete with other brides for the wedding of your dreams and a chance to get an "amazing" makeover by a celebrity stylist, doctor, makeup artist -- whatever you decide you want done for your big day. 

I didn't hear anything back for a few weeks and I started to get worried that some prince in Nigeria had all the details on my wedding dreams.

But instead, the casting associate emailed and called me to schedule a meeting in San Francisco -- today! I had to complete an 8-page questionnaire in advance. Some of the questions included how do I picture myself on my wedding, would I be willing to change my date for the sake of filming (no! 10/10/10 will never happen ever again), how competitive are you, what do you want done for your wedding (plastic surgery was one of the choices) and describe your dream wedding if money were no object.

I won't tell you my answers just yet. Not until I hear yay or nay from the casting director. I better run now or I'll be late!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Inspiration #69: The Hollywood, the Bruiser, the Hero

I'm planning a party in a few weeks and we're going to have a "red carpet" photo area (thanks for illustrating, Zac Efron, hehe) because a dinner I threw in January is going to be on a new show called "Extreme Eats" on the Fine Living Network (watch at 7pm on April 10).

As a test run for the photo booth props I'm making for our wedding, I thought why not make some for this party and see how the DIY process goes. I think all have to do is print these shapes out on cardstock and mount onto thin sticks/dowels. If they don't turn out nicely, I'll buy them. A real bride (Eunice Moyle of Hello!Lucky) used McPhee's "Stylish Mustaches" as her inspiration and I thought it was pretty clever. Here's the McPhee version and below follows Eunice's (drool over her fantastical wedding in the Martha Stewart Spring 2010 issue):

{Photo from McPhee)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Friday Find: Le Petite Flea

I've been following Victoria of sfgirlbybay for more than a year now and was totally psyched she launched a new etsy shop called le petite flea to sell her vintage wares. 

So, look what I scored for only $10!

Yep, a vintage cake topper. Now, I know we considered using the glass Mickey Mouse ears for our cake topper, but I'm a little worried it might be too heavy for the top of the cake (I'll still incorporate the ears somehow).

What d'ya think? I had been dreaming of buying a Lollipop Workshop cake topper, but at more than $135 and up, I'd rather put the extra $125+ somewhere else (like gifts for the bridesmaids -- mas importante).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gorgeous and Green

Succulent Wall Gorgeous and Green Events

I was on my way to rendezvous with Guitar Fred, when I walked by a cute store that beckoned to me with a wall of succulents. Yes, a wall. My jaw dropped and I wandered in and to the right, I saw a wall of jewel-toned vintage glass and plenty of fine white milk glass (which is what we're using in our 10/10/10 wedding). I then realized that this was the new retail shop for Gorgeous and Green Events by Pilar Zuniga that I had heard about from three of my bride-clients!

I have admired Pilar's work from afar and I was excited to get up close and personal. Brides -- if you're looking to bring inspiration you see on Style Me Pretty or 100 Layer Cake to life, you must stop here. If you decide to DIY, you can purchase or rent pieces from Pilar. Or, just hire her! The following is my interview with Pilar.

Q. How did you get started?
A. I've always been crafty and creative and grew up doing floral design with my Aunt, but I really jumped in to wedding and event design with my own wedding. My husband and I wanted to plan a celebration that would be sustainable and not as polluting as most weddings and events. So, I did a lot of research and started to become my own green wedding expert. After helping a few friends, I decided to start a business.

Q. What do you love most about designing events? What inspires you?
A. I love being creative. A full day of work will go by and I won't realize it, because I get to use my brain and make things with my hands, it's what I love. I try to get inspired by the people I work with and their stories. Of course, I also get inspired by living things, plants, flowers, animals, the forest, etc. I also like most things vintage, so I'm partial to the 1940's and 1960's and everything kitchy about old eras, like Candy stores from Willy Wonka or Diamonds, Pearls and Silk and Black and White movies from Hollywood.

Find out more about Gorgeous and Green and what surprises Pilar most about being married at the Bay Area Bride Guide.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

DIY Projects in Progress

On Oscar night, I was inspired to take on some DIY projects. Guitar Fred and I headed to Michael's. I bought him a 3-D wooden to keep him busy while I glittered photo frames and played around with the birdcage. More pics to come!

What I did:
I wanted to glam up the $1 frames I had bought from Target in early January, so I used Martha Stewart's glitter to make it sparkle. Last week, I had purchased a few hundred blank teal pricetags for only 85 cents total! I stamped the tags with our initials in teal embossing ink and slipped one into the birdcage I bought at TJ Maxx for $7.99. I'll probably end up using the tags to go with our wedding favors. Inside the birdcage is a bird candle ($1 from Smith and Hawken) next to a mason jar with mini daffodils and Spanish moss.

Hmm...so what should I use as a table number inside the frame? Regular numbers or perhaps a fun photo like this from Brooklyn Bride?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How to Bustle

If you're debating what kind of bustle you want for your wedding dress, here's a great introduction to the three different kinds of popular bustles. {By the way, mine's a French bustle!}

Monday, March 8, 2010

Inspiration #68: Take your seat

Very cute escort card idea (library card catalog) from Ginger + Adam as shot by One Love Photo. The bird motif works very well too!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Inspiration #67: Hydrangea Centerpieces

Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers and they're super easy to make into lush arrangements. They'll go perfectly with my vintage milk-glass compotes.


{Source: Sprout Flowers; Arrangement by Martha Stewart}


Wednesday, March 3, 2010


 {Moi and Guitar Fred...aww!}

Last Friday, Guitar Fred and I met up with Rev. Mauricio Wilson, our officiant, at St. Paul's Episcopal to take PREPARE/ENRICH, a 165-question assessment (basically a scantron) of what we think of each other and our roles and duties to each other. I heard from a friend that she and her husband took theirs in separate rooms, but Rev. Wilson trusted us to take ours in the same room as long as we didn't look at each other answers.

We had to rate how strongly we agreed or disagreed to statements such as, "I think the wife should take the main responsibility for chores." or "When my partner touches me, I think they are making a sexual advance." (Sorry, those are the ones I remembered!)

Rev. Wilson mailed off our responses and now we're awaiting the results. We'll spend the next 6 months leading up to October 10 working on areas of improvement, such as communication, conflict resolution, sexuality, finances and spiritual beliefs. I am wondering what ours will be. I have to admit I glanced over at Guitar Fred's scantron and he rarely put down a strongly agree or strongly disagree, whereas I did. This won't make or break us, just make us stronger, right? ;)

Monday, March 1, 2010

DIY: A 100% Organic Dinner Party

Originally uploaded by emilie raguso
Yesterday, I threw yet another dinner party, this time for 42 guests, in an empty Victorian in West Oakland. The menu was  100% organic and "farm-to-table" which included courses like green garlic soup and shaved asparagus with lacto-fermented beets. In line with the organic theme, I wanted to have an earthy, yet cheery centerpiece for each table. Daffodils immediately came to mind -- they're springing up everywhere -- we saw lots blossoming along the highway from and to Mendocino a couple weeks ago and grocery stores are brimming with unfurled daffodil blossoms.

I bought potted mini daffodils ($3.99 for 3 bulbs in a pot) and cut daffodils ($1.99 a bunch from Trader Joe's) and put them in vintage pots and mason jars a friend had donated to me. I scored a huge box of Spanish moss from the Center of Creative Reuse for only $4 (a teeny tiny bag at Pottery Barn would've cost me $10) and placed freshly foraged chanterelles on top so that the table looked like a forest floor. Khaki colored gift paper from IKEA (3 rolls for $1) served as a table runner to finish the look (see photo above by Emilie Raguso, reporter at Oakland Local).

Here's how we set the glasses. I found sheets of "Organic" labels donated by Whole Foods to the Center of Creative Reuse for $1. I wrote each of the guests' names on the labels and set them next to their wine glass. We held cocktail hour in the backyard underneath blossoming fruit trees. My yellow Nantucket lanterns ($7 each from a Smith and Hawken closing sale; originally $39 each) played well with the yellow daffodils!

My total cost was $42!
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