If you are anything like me and realized late last night that you haven’t bought any Christmas gifts for anyone and that tomorrow is Thurdsay and Christmas Eve is Tuesday, you are probably feeling a LITTLE stressed out right now. If you are anything like everyone else in my family, you are wondering why I always wait until the very last minute and get myself so stressed out. Keep your thoughts to yourself. Thank you.
The worst part about Christmas shopping for the procrastinator is that when faced with the stress of the deadline, the mind seems to draw a complete and total blank on what are cute/sweet/fun presents. Don’t worry procrastinators/work-a-holics and all you other hapless holiday gift givers, I’ve done the creative thinking for you. When it comes to gift giving at the holidays I always say to avoid whats needed, and go for something that would simply be a joy to receive! Small, stylish and memorable. Here are chic presents for any number of potential recipients… and you can still get them all by Christmas Eve (some of these sites will even let you slack off for another 2 days if you feel like living really dangerously!)
For the girl who loves a bit glam in her life: J‘adore this Dior Glam kit! at Nordstrom. Fiesty Red lipsticks and a hot red polish that make you want to go GRRRR! $55!
For the guy who has an overstuffed wallet: Get him one of these bad boys from Shinola Detroit and he can lighten his load… at least on the weekends. I love these card carriers and all Shinola goods are made in Detroit, USA. $80 Shinola.com
For the friends who just got a new apartment: If you haven’t heard, Agate is about to be EVERYTHING in decor, period.. So get them ahead of the curve with these fantastic Agate Coasters… and then you can tell them about how Agate is about to be everything and imply that you, and your thoughtfulness put them ahead of the curve. From Rablabs at Saks $68
For the Friends Who Are More Excited About Gifts for their Pets Than Gifts For Them: Put this luxury chew toy in a box and wish everyone Peace on earth! Jaw and Bone From Barneys… $12
For the Your HighBrow/LowBrow Friend Show has a Secret Crush on Graydon Carter: The Vanity Fair 100 book celebrates the magazine that has mastered Snarkiness at both the highest and lowest brow with images the likes of which only Vanity Fair can provide. $33 with Amazon Prime.
For your precocious Niece or Nephew: A ”Where the Wild Things Are” Crown made form Alpaca, of course. $48 at Barneys. And, because there is nothing more fun than reading to kids before bed when you are the Titi visiting, bring a copy of the book while you are at it! ($15 via Amazon)
For the World Traveller: A chic and stylish passport case. A few years ago Mayra asked her husband to buy one for me as a present and this is what she had in mind… but not quite what he came back with. Bless his heart. Anyway $45 on Net a Porter.
For Your Co-worker Who You Always Travel with Who is Always cold on the Plane and Then Tries to Huddle with You in Your Limited Seat Space For Warmth: Not that I have any experience with that of course… but if you have had that happen, maybe you buy Mayra this faux fur travel blanket. $95 at Neiman’s
For the aspiring writer… A stylish journal! From Barneys, $35
Of course, when all else fails, you can always get them socks. As a kid, I’d say, “I don’t know what to get _____ ” and my grandfather would say “Get them socks” and I thought it was the dumbest thing… until I became an adult and realized that I can never had enough…. especially Luxury socks… A box of Cashmere socks from Neiman Marcus on sale for $38
Hope that helps everyone! Merry Christmas and may you get all your shopping done in a jiffy so that you can go back to enjoying what the season is really about : people, not presents!
My, my, my, where has the time gone??? I feel like it was just last week that I wrote this list for 2012! While this year has seemingly gone by in a flash, I have to take a moment to acknowledge 2013 Wedding Industry Movers and Shakers: some of the people in this business who are making news, breaking rules (in a good way) and expanding how we’re perceived as professionals. In short, to Industry Peeps who have had BEYOND banner years and who’ve inspired us here at AaB! In no particular order:
Preston Bailey: The man, the myth, the legend. For him, 2013 was a banner year of not only insane press, but amazing, beautiful, innovative work. Let’s see: he started the year off getting married at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day. Next up he created one of the most beautiful weddings that I’ve ever seen for Sean Parker, which combined his unapologetic Over the top style with the current, naturalistic, woody trend. Then that wedding went on to be featured in Vanity Fair. As if that weren’t enough, he went on to do decor for Lebron James’ wedding.
Carla Ten Eyck, Candice Coppola and Beth Chapman: Individually Carla is an accomplished photographer, a planner and designer and the owner of renowned Connecticut bridal atelier, The White Dress by the Shore. Collectively they are the authors of The White Dress in Color, a book of wedding inspiration that is, to my knowledge, the first book conceived and executed by a creative collective to incorporate great imagery, styling and bridal fashion. An exciting development and proof that three heads is better than one.
Marcy Blum: Is on this list not simply out of friendly nepotism. Rather than explain her 2013, I turn to the New York Posts’ Page Six. This quote was under the headline George Soros Ties the Knot: Guests included World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and foreign leaders, including Hendrik Toomas Ilves, president of Estonia; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia; and Edi Rama, prime minister of Albania. Also on hand were Gov. Cuomo, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, as well as hedge-fund titans Paul Tudor Jones and Julian Robertson, British businessman Jonathan Adair Turner, also known as Baron Turner of Ecchinswell, and Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino. Wedding speakers included former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Columbia Professor Anya Schiffrin, wife of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. A source told The Post, “There was no expense spared on the wedding party. Tamiko planned everything down to each tiny detail.” We are told that she was helped by wedding planner Marcy Blum, who also worked on LeBron James’ San Diego wedding just over a week ago….” We’ve all had two doozies back to back, but when your back to backs include one of the wealthiest philanthropists in the world and a sports phenom… well, that’s a mic drop.
Christian Oth was on this list last year, but he made it again this year because in addition to becoming a go-to photographer for celebrity portraits for the New York Times, he was tapped to shoot the aforementioned Sean Parker wedding. While a real wedding in The Knot or Martha is always a thrill, an exclusive with Vanity in book AND online sends a shiver of excitement down my spine.
Other KUDOS this year go to: Lindsey Hite of ReadyLuck was named to Rangefinder’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography, Anne Chertoff is using technology to create a new kind of talk show for brides with her revamped From I Will to I Do. It’s a ton of fun and is only growing, Alison Hotchkiss launched her very savvy Event Space Consulting business to help turn so so venues into must-book locales, Ceci Johnson was named by the Tory Burch Foundation as a Woman to Watch (she is!), Matthew Robbins launched a line of beautiful vases with Teraforma, Karen Tran blew the industry’s socks off with her stunning tent at Engage13 Biltmore, while Todd Fiscus wowed the crowd with his stunning decor at Engage13 Montelucia.
Always inspiring to see what our industry is up to!
As has been well chronicled here, I’ve been a well travelled woman over the past 6 weeks or so. Most recently I was invited to experience all that Jamaica has to offer by way of wedding by their very hospitable tourism board. Having worked on a wedding in Jamaica nearly 7 years ago, I knew what Jamaica has to offer by way of service and hospitality and value. The surprise came however by what Jamaica can offer by way of luxury, bespoke experiences for couples seeking to have a destination wedding. Yes, there are plenty of giant resorts in Jamaica where you can buy a “package” and get married on a beach with chair covers and tie-backs, but there are also a myriad of options of venues brimming with a rich history, outstanding cuisine and hand-crafted, locally made details… and good service. It all almost sounds too good to be true… but it isn’t.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of a destination wedding in the Caribbean, but don’t want to go “generic”, Jamaica is a great place to start and here is a good road map of where to look when you get there.
For the Blow-Out Bash with Glamour: If you are looking at a destination wedding in Jamaica that is low in stress, but high in glitz, look no further than Half Moon, a Rock Resort in Montego Bay. Built on the grounds of a shipping pier and an old sugar plantation, Half Moon has been in operation since the 1950′s and has hosted Queens, Princes (Harry most recently) and even American Royalty….. it was a favorite of Jackie Kennedy’s and she wrote her will there. It’s not only rich in history, it’s almost ridiculously rich in amenities… from a MAJOR kids club (they also offer nanny services… from University trained child care providers) to an out of this world spa to a golf course. Though they can work on weddings of any size, I think the property is a playland for a larger group. Half Moon offers you both hotels for guests to stay in or Villas… which is a lot of fun if your guest list includes several groups of friends who know one another. Talk about luxury services: each villa comes with a cook and a butler and a private pool, though you are just steps from the beach… and the privately owned Dolphin Experience. The hardest part about it is allowing yourself to let them do stuff for you (or maybe that was just me). The food was creative, fresh and outstanding… particularly the Jamaican fusion dishes and, most amazingly and excitingly, all of the furniture on the property (and signage at weddings, etc) is handmade on site. For the right budget lounge can be built and custom upholstered to your liking… if that isn’t bespoke, what is? And while, yes, you can totally have a wedding on the sand here, but one of the things I loved best about Half Moon was that though totally Jamaican in spirit, it never lost the glamour of it’s founding era… as evidenced by one of my favorite wedding locations on the property- this beach front Pavilion offers ocean views and GLAM decor from days gone by (no wonder it was chosen by Forrest Whitaker as his wedding location). Half Moon isn’t for the bride on a budget…it’s still a luxury resort… but it is a great option for the couple seeking luxury service who wants to see their money buy them and their guests an experience beyond just a few hours.
For the Laid Back, Shabby-Chic Couple Doing the “Intimate” Thing: If you love slow food and raw diamond engagement rings and the Stone Fox instagram feed and packing only bathing suits and cover ups when you go on a vacation, and imagine yourself in something beautiful and simple with your hair flowing set against a tropical sunset surrounded by an intimate group of people who know you and matter…. start and possibly end your venue hunt in Negril. While Jamaica has an international reputation of being a laid back pleasure paradise, it’s really the moment you drive into Negril that things slow down, nature takes over, smaller is better and you get the sense that everybody really is irie. Set amongst cliffs overlooking the ocean, there aren’t really proper “beaches” in Negril, but there is no lack of swimming, dramatically beautiful waters and intimate small resorts where you can eat well and laze about drinking red stripes around a stunning pool. If you are looking for something intimate, homey and au-natural, look no further than Tensing Pen, a small cottage-esque hotel where everything from the beds to the decor is hand-made in Jamaica. For a wedding of 20-40, the venue offers a laid back vibe and breathtaking ocean view from their yoga studio/ ceremony pavillion. Their famous “bridge” is the perfect place to meet for a first look and many couples “take the plunge” there. The caretakers three fabulously friendly dogs will come and pay a visit while your watching the sunset and you and your family and friends will have the run of the beautiful waterfront lush grounds and pool. Of course, for the couple whose a bit more Rock and Roll than Hippie Chic, you can head down the road to the famous Rock House where laid back Negril style gets a bit of an edge to it. With a fully equipped holistic spa and and renowned cuisine, the Rock House has long been the go-to spot for jet setters and rock stars looking for a laid back getaway.
For “New Yorker” Types Seeking a Getaway Wedding: Round Hill is another resort hotel with a long legacy in Jamaica. Also founded in the 1950′s, it’s got a similar legacy glam factor to it as the Half Moon, but with a decidedly chic take on tradition. Founded by an entrepreneur and his socialite wife, Round Hill has long attracted artists and literati to it’s lush tropical campus, which is a mix of beachfront hotel rooms and amazing well appointed villas… all of which have been personally decorated by Ralph Lauren. Intimate, glamorous and decidedly sophisticated, it’s a great mix of private and public spaces. The staff (some of whom have been there for 40 years!) are attentive and the glamorous pool, beaches and restaurant offering the perfect gathering spots for groups there to celebrate. All of the award winning cuisine is locally sourced and sustainably grown and there is seemingly nothing they can’t make happen there: the bride and groom getting married while we were there had a 20 minute fireworks display.
For the Couple Seeking Something “Off the Beaten Path”: There are hotel people and then there are “non-hotel” people. I see it all the time… couples who want something.. unique and homey that a hotel can’t always offer… For those couples, I present Villas by Linda Smith. An INSANELY unique Villa Rental concierge service that has an inventory of some of Jamaica’s most unique and stunning private estates ranging from 4 bedroom beach front villas to 6 Bedroom estates nestled on a tropical hilltop overlooking the beach. Each home is reviewed and intimately known by Linda, the owner of the service and she has a ground team of concierge services, butlers, cleaners and cooks who are at your service immediately. Villas that are equipped to host weddings can accommodate up to 100 for dining and accommodations can be made at “sister villas” for your guests stay. Linda also has a network of local planners and decorators should you not be bringing Mayra and I with you.
For the Couple Who Wants the Ease of “All-Inclusive”, without the Cheese of All-Inclusive: Sometimes when having a destination wedding the all-inclusive resort simply makes things….easier.. Your guests know exactly what it’s going to cost them and a few days of life without a wallet or a care always make things extra relaxing. Usually though, all inclusive comes with giant building complexes, huge pools, generic landscaping and all you can eat of so-so food… Get ready to be wowed. The All-Ocean Front, All Butler Service Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios will completely redefine your idea of what is even possible at an All-inclusive resort. From one of the best French restaurants in the Caribbean to the charming Piano bar and afternoon tea service, Reggae Yoga on the pier and personal letters from the hotel manager, it’s a luxury resort with a boutique hotel feeling. It’s no wonder this venue has attracted the likes of Ian Fleming and Noel Coward.
Of course, the best way to learn about destination weddings in Jamaica is to go there yourself… what better time to book a warm getaway than while watching the snow fall! For more images of my AMAZING trip, head on over to my instagram page and start planning your itinerary!
In this line of work, if there is one trend you are up on, it’s what’s hot in Engagement Rings. From October to March, it’s like a Ring Parade of what’s the hottest in engagement rings. This year, nothing has been hotter than the trend of Colored stones and timeless vintage settings. Sapphires, Rubies and Emeralds, OH My! I love that we’ve gotten away from thinking that only a diamond will do. Sure, they are a girls’ best friend, but a gemstone can be a lover like no other!
Here are some of my favorite rings with colored stones that I’ve seen on the market lately….
From Moda Operendi via Refinery 29, this Ruby ring is a bargain at under $5,000.
My second husband will know to propose with a Sapphire Ring from McTeigue and McClelland because I write about them incessantly. Dying over this one…
It’s a little bit less of a bargain, but worth every cent of it’s $46,000 price tag.
Sapphires aren’t everyone’s thing, of course, so for the girl who loves something Sunny and Yellow the gents at McTeigue have this gorgeous yellow diamond ring.
I’ve always been a sucker for Emeralds, and this charming and delicate Emerald ring from Doyle and Doyle is surprisingly affordable.
This Ruby and gold ring is so understated in it’s simplicity, it seems to me almost regal.. I could imagine an Italian Princess of the Renaissance wearing just this sort of thing.. (McTeigue and McClelland, $12,500)
As far as knockout rings go, this Diamond and Sapphire Ascher Cut from Doyle and Doyle is a heavyweight!
Which is your favorite ladies? Be sure to Pin it, and accidentally leave the window open when you run into the other room this evening…
Last week the New York Times published an article in their economics column of the magazine that was a new take on the old “evil wedding industry” label that has been in the recycling bin of news stories for the past 5-10 years. For some reason, when a publication like the NY Times runs a story like that, and slaps an “academic” label on it by having it written by an “economist” it has an even more harsh sting… because it’s not only exhausted material, it’s one that comes with absolutely no practical examination of the wedding “industry” as a whole.
I wrote a response piece that the Huffington Post was gracious enough to run. Many of you have certainly read it (and I thank you for the Feedback and the RT’s and Facebook shares and likes), but if you haven’t, you can read it here.
In the week since I wrote it however, I’ve been doing some thinking about what it is that rubs authors like Ms. Rampell the wrong way. As an industry (an expression that I’m more and more loathe to use since it plays into this idea of a massive, churning complex of intertwined business endeavors drumming up schemes for money…So I think I will adopt Liene Stevens “Wedding Market”). As Marketplace as a whole, we’ve done such a great job of marketing our abilities as creatives, that we have in many ways hidden from view the fact that we are actually businesses created to generate profit.
We’ve hidden this fact from the public eye so well, that couples get downright disgruntled when they discover that your time, creativity and products cost money… more than they could have imagined.
Part of this is because numbers make brides and grooms nervous. Prices are the fork in the road between fantasy and reality. This is true generally, but it’s doubly true of weddings. We’ve been conditioned as a market to keep the bride happy, and in many ways that’s created a culture that’s ironically shy to talk about pricing… not because we’re trying to cajole anyone into something they can’t afford, but because we don’t want to be the person that tells a bride to be that she has to reverse the vehicle on fantasy lane, go back to the fork and bear right onto Reality Road.
I’m wondering if we shouldn’t rethink some of this.
We have to be less shy about introducing the reality of money, budget and price to our prospective clients, particularly in the Luxury segment of the market. We need to be clear from the beginning on how we charge. We need to be as upfront as possible on what our “starting rates” are.
“Average” wedding budgets make BIG news in the media… but those press releases never come with a look book. Don’t be shy to explain to a potential bride or groom what YOUR average client spends. Be knowledgable about statistics and realistic about the differences between a luxury wedding and an “average” wedding. Educating the customer about the business of weddings can actually be an effective part of your sales pitch…. it has been for us for years.
YES we are fantasy makers, but YES we are business owners too and hosting a wedding is a milestone, but it’s also part of a commerce exchange. Shielding a couple from this fact doesn’t make the reality any easier…it just makes the inevitable band-aid removal more painful.