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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WWC's Lukemia Lymphoma Benefit

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of attending a benefit dinner for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society that was held at the Rustic Hills Country Club in Medina and organized by a networking group I'm a member of, Working Women Connection. Being that cancer has personally touched my family in more ways than one, I'm always more than willing to participate in cancer benefits. The theme of the evening was "An Evening to Remember", and it was definitely that....

 With almost 100 guests, the event raised over $3,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society!

There were balloons with raffle tickets inside, and every balloon won a prize! The fun part was popping it go get your prize!

The bar served themed martinis called Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Rat Pack.

Raffle tickets were sold, and the winning tickets won these hat boxes filled with goodies donated by the Working Women Connection chapters. 

This hat box was donated by our chapter (Avon Lake) and won the prize for Most Beautiful!

There was a wonderful Frank Sinatra impersonator on hand for entertainment.

Each guest got to take home a packet of Forget Me Not seeds as a favor.

Me and my husband, Jamie, at the LLS event.

Jessica (Marketing Director), Bonnie (Co-Founder) and Tami (Co-Founder) of Working Women Connection.

Photographs by WWC member, Becky Workman of Becky's Photography.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks...

I'm sitting here in the early morning hours while my husband is still sleeping....just catching up on some blog posting and plans for upcoming events. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I was starting to get sad that I'm not going home this year to see my mom, grandma and brother. I have too much work and too many appointments to take the time off this year.

I've learned that when I feel down, I need to step back and look at the big picture. Looking back over the year, I realize just how much I have to be thankful for....

I'm thankful to have my Mom. She was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in October of 2008, and I took several months off from my business to go home to Texas to stay with her. Her cancer was in an advanced stage and she needed surgery to remove the tumors, followed by months of painful radiation and chemotherapy. For a long time I wasn't sure what was going to happen....but just last month, she had her 2 year CT scan and is still cancer free. She is now officially in remission, and that's the #1 thing I'm thankful for this year. Love you Mom!

I'm thankful for my husband, Jamie. He is my best friend, my business partner, my rock. I have never felt more at ease with anyone in my entire life, and I still get giddy-excited like a school girl when I think about our future together. He's right next to me working hard to grow my business....and he's even become quite the event decorator. He can tie a chair sash with the best of 'em! :) He really is the love of my life, and I'm thankful for all the wrong paths I took in the past that ended up leading me to him.

I'm thankful for my intern (and soon to be planner/coordinator), Whitney. She has made great strides in helping with our events and marketing since she came aboard. My business has grown and was beginning to become overwhelming, and she walked into the picture at exactly the right time. I can't wait to make her a permanent part of the team and watch her grow into an amazing event planner!

I'm thankful for Stacey, my new business partner. She has given me the opportunity to open a second studio, which has been a dream of mine since I began this business. She is a strong, goal-oriented woman, and together we'll be a powerhouse team that can't be stopped! We're helping to inspire each other and grow each others businesses, and the future for our new studio looks amazing!

I'm thankful for the wonderful business women (and friends) I've met at Working Women Connection; Angela, Becky, Michelle, Chris, Shelley, Stacey, Mary, Maya and Hillary. Every Wednesday these ladies inspire me personally and professionally. They have kept my spirits up this year and reminded me on a weekly basis how important friendships are. I'm blessed to be a part of such a wonderful and intelligent group of women!

I'm thankful that my business is becoming more and more successful. We won TheKnot's pick for Best Wedding Planner this year, and we're growing in so many directions now. I'm thankful that my business mind has been stimulated this year and the ideas just don't stop flowing.... every week I think of a new project to work on, and I hope the ideas keep coming!

I'm thankful for my clients. This year (and next year) we're working with the most enjoyable people! Having great clients makes my job that much more enjoyable, and I appreciate the fact that I have the best clients in the world right now!

I have so many things to be thankful home, my family, my business....there are days where I feel down and like the world is out to get me. All I have to do is stop and think about all I have to be thankful for, and I realize the world has given me more gifts than I deserve.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Be sure to take a moment to think about all you have to be thankful for....while it's still around to appreciate. :)

Thanksgiving Centerpiece Floral Class

Our floral class on November 21st was a blast! The ladies did an amazing job on their arrangements and learned lots of tips on the basics of flower arranging. We used a pumpkin basket as the vase, and we filled it with fall colored blooms and feathers. We even did a quick "Bow Making: 101" class to learn how to make bows for the sides of the pumpkin basket. The finished product was beautiful! Can't wait until next month when we do the Holiday Evergreen Centerpiece floral class!


Monday, November 22, 2010

LaCentre Open House

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an open house at LaCentre Banquet Facility and Conference Center in Westlake. This place is....for lack of a better word.... grand! The chandeliers are my absolute favorite aspect of this venue. They look so regal and sparkling! I also have to mention that I love the carpeting there. So many venues have that loud multi-colored paisley print carpeting (because they don't show stains, in case you ever wondered)....but LaCentre went for a toned down darker version of printed carpeting that looks great. Their overall color scheme is neutral, which makes it so easy for a designer like me to incorporate any theme or color scheme without conflicting with the venue decor.

I didn't get any photos of the banquet rooms, but I did get some photos of the main foyer. Definitely check this venue out if you're looking for a space for a wedding reception, banquet, party, etc... on the west side!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Winter E-Session Ideas

Being from Texas, trudging through the snow isn't my all-time favorite thing to do....but that doesn't mean that I don't think it's beautiful! Couples native to the Midwest and the north (who are undoubtedly more accustomed to snow than I) have the option of having their wedding or engagement photos taken in the winter snow. So bundle up and come on the journey with us as we explore the wonderful world of winter engagement session ideas!

Ice skating is always a popular winter activity. You can even find indoor ice skating rinks in the south, so this isn't limited to areas with outdoor winter conditions! It's a fun and romantic way to spend the afternoon with your honey, and you can get some fun photos at the same time.

Photo by Stone Photo

Sledding isn't only for kids, it's fun for grown ups too! Take a sled ride (or even a "staged" sled ride) with your sweetheart in the woods.

Photo by Stacy Able

If you'll be making your engagement announcement with your holiday cards, a great idea is to have an engagement session in a tree lot. Whether there's snow on the ground or not, you still get that winter holiday feeling, and the rows of trees in a tree lot make for great photo opportunities!

Photo by Digital 504

Skiing is another fun thing to do when there's snow on the ground. There are several places right here in northern Ohio where you can rent skis, or you could take a weekend vacation somewhere else for some skiing. Who doesn't like a romantic weekend away sometimes?

Photo by Digital 504

Snowball fight! This would of course be for those ladies who don't care about their hair or makeup getting messed up with a cold splat of snow to the face. I wouldn't be in that category, but some ladies don't mind! :)

Photo by Julie Faith Photography

If you get engaged this winter, be one of the brave souls and go for winter engagement photos! There's something so serene and beautiful about the snow covered ground...

Have some great examples of winter wedding or engagement photos? Share them with us and we'll share them on the blog!

Friday, November 12, 2010

What's involved in being a Groomsman?

Being a groomsman entails a monetary commitment, a time commitment, and a support commitment. It's not just partying all night with the bridesmaids and single ladies! Use this list as a guide to prepare yourself for what will be expected of you when you accept a groomsman position in your friend's wedding.

 Photo by Trejo Photography

  • Attend fittings and pay for a tuxedo. More than likely you will be asked to rent a tuxedo for the day (unless you already own one that would be acceptable). In that case, you'll probably have to buy/rent a matching tie, vest, cummerbund, or other accessories. Be prepared financially to pay for your clothing ensemble for the day. Also, be prepared to do it well in advance. Don't wait until the week of the wedding and give the bride added stress. :)
  • Help the Best Man organize the bachelor party. The Best Man and groomsmen are responsible for paying for and organizing the bachelor party. Offer your help to the Best Man to assist with the planning and clean up of the party.
  • Prepare a toast/speech (if needed). Sometimes with a large wedding party, only the Best Man and Fathers will give a toast. However, if the groom wants you to say a few words, you should be prepared with something charming to say.
  • Participate in all pre-wedding functions. As a groomsmen, there are several pre-wedding functions you'll need to be present at including (but not limited to) the bachelor party, the ceremony rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner.
  • Rent a hotel room. If the wedding is not near your home, you may need to reserve a hotel room for the night of the night before and night of the wedding. If you're friends with any of the groomsmen who live nearby, staying at their place might be an option for you, but be prepared to reserve a hotel room in advance if you need to. You may also be able to share a hotel room with another groomsman to split the cost. Make sure to ask for a room with two double beds. :)
  • Buy a gift. Start saving your extra dollars to buy a wedding gift for the happy couple. It is acceptable to partner up with another groomsman (or two) and combine your funds to get a more expensive and bigger gift!
  • Be on-time! The most important thing is to be on-time. If you have trouble being on time, then pretend everything starts half an hour earlier than it really does. Fittings, parties, dinners, and ESPECIALLY the wedding ceremony.
  • Escorting during the ceremony. Sometimes groomsmen are asked to act as ushers when none are available. This means escorting the female guests to their seats at the ceremony for both the bride's side and the groom's side. You simply ask them which side they'd prefer (bride or groom), offer your arm, and walk them to the next available row of seats. You will also participate in the ceremony processional by walking a bridesmaid down the aisle.
  • Dancing! You may be asked to dance with a bridesmaid during the traditional wedding party dance. Sometimes the bride & groom will choose to have everyone dance with their wives or dates instead, but be prepared to dance at some point in time during the evening! You may also want to coax others to dance and help to liven up the dance floor.
  • Decorate the getaway car. You may need to enlist the help of the rest of the wedding party to decorate the bride & groom's getaway car. Check beforehand to see if this is acceptable because some rentals or limos won't allow you to do anything to their vehicles. If they say it's ok, make sure to have the necessary items ready and sneak out mid-reception to do the damage. :)
  • Return your tuxedo. If you rented a tux instead of purchasing, make sure to return it on time. The groom could be charged a late fee if he organized the rentals, and that's not the parting gift you want to leave for him!

If you know in advance that you can't afford it or can't commit to everything being a groomsman includes, don't be afraid to graciously decline. Simply say that you're honored to be asked, but that you're unable to commit to the duties for financial reasons. He may opt to help out in some way to make sure you're included, but you should always be up front with him if you think there will be issues. Nothing is worse than a groomsman who accepts and later "resigns" at the last minute!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trunk Show Road Trips!

If I had my weekends available this month, I'd be taking some weekend road trips to see these fabulous dress sales and trunk shows! Even though I'm not in the market for a dress, I LOVE going to bridal shops and seeing the gorgeous gowns....especially two prestigious shops such as these! Cleveland brides, plan some weekend road trips! :)

Vera Wang Sample Sale
Saturday, November 13th

(New York, NY is about an 8 hour drive from Cleveland)

. . . . . . . . .

Nicole Miller Spring 2011 Trunk Show
Saturday November 27th & Sunday November 28th

(McLean, VA is about a 6 hour drive from Cleveland)

What's involved in being a Bridesmaid?

Bridesmaids play an important role in weddings. If you've been asked to be a bridesmaid in a wedding and it's your first time, you may not know all of the duties that are attached to having that prestigious title. If you have been a bridesmaid before, use this as a refresher course and a reminder of what your gal pal needs from you to prepare for her big day.

  • Assist with pre-wedding tasks. Planning a wedding involves a lot of details, and a bride can easily become overwhelmed with the list of small things to accomplish before the wedding. As a bridesmaid, you should ask the bride how you can help. Suggest things such as helping to pack for the honeymoon, alphabetizing escort cards, tracking RSVP's, help to stuff and mail invitations, and of course, offer help when she's shopping for her dress and the bridesmaids dresses!
  • Assist with planning or co-hosting the bridal shower and bachelorette party. Whether you spearhead the planning process, or offer to handle one specific aspect, the bridesmaids and MOH (Maid of Honor) should handle the bridal shower. This includes sending invites, planning games and activities, decorating, and contributing funds to buy the supplies and food.
  • Pay for your bridesmaids dress & accessories. Part of being a bridesmaid is paying for your ensemble. Dress, shoes, accessories....keep that in mind and start saving as far in advance as you can, if need be. Of course, as they always can get more use out of it by wearing it again! ;)
  • Buy a shower gift and wedding gift. While you're saving, budget in buying a couple gifts. A good idea is to partner with one or a few other bridesmaids and combine your funds to get one really amazing gift!
  • Attend the ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. As a member of the wedding party, you'll be required to be present at all pre-wedding functions, most importantly the ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. 
  • Participate in the receiving line. These days some brides choose too nix the formal receiving line for a more relaxed type of guest greeting at the reception. However, if your bride is doing a formal receiving line at the church or reception, be prepared to stand in the line and greet guests with a smile (maybe a hug) and introduce yourself. You should also be prepared to tell your story of how you know the bride and/or groom, because it will be asked!
  • Lend a helping hand on wedding day. Helping to wrangle the train, bustle the dress, bring the bride a drink, or anything else to help the MOH make sure the bride is comfortable and happy.
  • Dancing! You may have to participate in a wedding party dance with one of the groomsmen. Some brides opt for a more modern option of allowing you to dance with your own husband or date instead of a groomsmen, but be prepared to dance either way. It's also a good idea to coax others onto the dance floor, because some people may need some encouragement to get started!
  • Keep the complaining to a minimum. This may sound harsh, but when a bride has six ladies complaining about the color of the dress, or the expense of being a bridesmaid, or the headache of planning a shower, it takes all the wind out of her sails. Try to keep the complaining to a minimum, make constructive suggestions instead.
 Photo by Z Media

If the bride has a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, they will also be watching these small details and making sure they get done, and assisting to make sure the bride has everything she needs. If this is the case, your to-do list may not be as heavy. However, you should still offer the help and be there for emotional support. You want to make yourself available and accessible to your friend for anything she needs, even if it's as small as finding her a tissue when she reads a note from her husband-to-be before the ceremony. Have fun being a bridesmaid!
Up next......What's involved in being a Groomsman. We haven't forgotten the guys!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Planning Advice & Tips

Now that wedding season is winding down, and we're working with a whole new crop of brides for next year, we have the time to concentrate on offering advice and tips on the blog. We read the articles in every wedding magazine, follow dozens and dozens of wedding blogs, and every year we learn something new from our events and experiences in we're going to start sharing what we know and what we've learned with our readers.

We're going to offer advice and information for everyone, not just the bride! Of course the bride is our main focus, but we don't want to forget about the family, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, ring bearers, and of course the groom.

Our first feature tomorrow will be advice & tips for bridesmaids. If you've never been a bridesmaid before (or even if you have) you should know what's expected and the "etiquette" involved in being an honored participant in your friend's wedding. From parties to gifts, from dresses to wedding day duties, we'll be covering it all! Check back tomorrow for all the bridesmaids details!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Convertible Wedding Dresses

I'm loving this trend in wedding dresses - - the convertible wedding gown! It's tough to dance the night away at your reception in a huge ball gown, but not all brides can afford the extra expense of buying a second "party dress" to change into. In comes the convertible wedding's both in one! You can have the long flowing dramatic dress or ball gown for the ceremony, then convert it to a fun party dress to enjoy dancing later in the evening. Here are a few of our favorite designers and their take on the convertible wedding dress....

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