WPT: Selling to Grow

Posted by on Apr 17, 2014 in Industry Advice | No Comments

So, if blogging Wedding Pro Wednesday on a Thursday is any indication, things have been a little bit crazy here lately- but in a totally good way.  April is a busy month for us and last week we wrapped up what I would say was the biggest project of our careers thus far: the NYC Gala for Brown University’s 250th Anniversary at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.  Being Brown alums, this was not only an amazing opportunity, it was a real honor.

I wanted to write a little bit about the genesis of this project as I think it relates a lot to creative business growth in general.  In anticipation of the 250th Anniversary Year, a steering committee of alumni and faculty volunteers were put together to brainstorm ways to honor this legacy of education. So, for instance, the Brown Wind Orchestra created a new piece of music to commemorate the occasion , Betsy West and Oren Jacoby (Makers) created a short documentary about Brown, and 50 alumni authors were tapped to write memoir pieces about their time at Brown for a book Simon and Schuster published this month.  And of course, parties.  Being the Rah Rah Joiner that I am known to be,  I was asked to be on the committee to help give input on a NYC event and then, while at a brainstorming lunch with a representative from Brown, the conversation went something like this:

“We don’t know exactly what we want the night to be, but we know that we want an elegant, thoughtful celebration and a theatrical program of some sort in addition to screening the Brown film.  If we brought your firm on more formally is this something you could do?  Do you have any thoughts about what it could be?”

And this is where we get to the point (Yay, I love when I get there more quickly than I thought): For a split second, I felt a kind of wave of fear- because this wasn’t anything like what we had done before- party? YES, got that! Unknown Theatrical Presentation?  Like, a little bit Yikes.  This weird narrative started very quickly in my brain “But we really do weddings, and this is so not a wedding, and it’s kind of a lot of pressure and we aren’t show producers, so maybe I should refer her to those people I used to work with at The One Show and…..” And then I thought to myself- “Oh My God, Mayra would KILL you.  This is SUCH an amazing opportunity, this could open us up to doing SO many more creative and awesome things and who KNOWS what else and we are really great at our jobs and can totally do this.”

And then I opened my mouth, and said Absolutely Yes.  I explained that while we hadn’t done anything EXACTLY like this, we had cut our teeth producing award shows, and references some other projects we’d done that married some of what we would need to do here.  I asked some questions, got some answers and threw out a ton of ideas, and then Mayra and I proceeded to put together a proposal as well as a showcase of more out of the box projects that we’d done that highlighted our creative ability and our production ability.  They said yes and we and got on board for a really great ride.

We are all creative people, and the truth is if you are creative, you are always seeking to grow and evolve. It’s in our blood.  Sometimes there is something we want to do with our businesses (or didn’t even know we want until the opportunity might present itself): like perhaps it’s Destination Weddings or you Plan but you really want to Design and when the opportunity comes and  the bride or groom says “Have you ever done a wedding in ______________?” or “Do you have experience just desining ____________?”  Often when the answer is no, we just say so and this ends the conversation.

We are all really good at selling more of what we’ve already done, but this experience made me realize that there is actually a way to Sell to Grow.  It involves two things- first, not giving into your fear of the unknown (Honestly, I was proud of myself for not giving into fear at that initial meeting) Second, it involves identifying what you already do that makes you qualified for this new opportunity. “I’ve not done something exactly like it, BUT, here is what I have done AND here are the unique skills we bring to the table because of it.”     On the small scale, we’ve all done this a million times- the bride asks “Have you ever worked that venue before?” and you know the answer is no, but that it doesn’t matter so you say “We haven’t, but I’m very familiar with it and it’s similar to working _______ and I know we would do something STUNNING there.”

Everyone has a wheelhouse, but if you feel the desire to get beyond what you already know that you’ve mastered, it’s important to not just WANT something, but to understand how you are already prepared for it and be able to confidently articulate that to a potential client.  Sometimes they say no, but sometimes they say yes and that’s where the fun stuff happens.

The Brown 250th Celebration in NYC

Spring 2015 Bridal Market Recap

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 in Style | No Comments

This past weekend was Bridal Market for Spring 2015- I know, we have barely wrapped our heads around Spring of 2014 and we’re already looking forward to next year… Unlike mainstream fashion, Bridal tends to move more slowly, with a trend lasting seasons, even years, after causing an initial sensation… The strapless dress, for instance, seemed to be simply Glacial- seemingly permanent and insurmountable- reigning from about 2003-the Royal Wedding when Kate Middleton changed everything with those long lace sleeves.  The lace sleeve is still hanging strong, but what struck me most about this season’s market offering where the wide variety of intriguing necklines currently available to brides.   Truly, I remember shopping for a wedding gown in 2005 wanting some kind of a shoulder strap and being shown about 2 dresses that met my requirements.  Now (or I should say come Spring 2015) you can have off the shoulder, mock neck, cap sleeves, plunging V’s and more… Here some of my favorite growns whose necklines were fashion forward.

Love this romantic “off the shoulder” look of this Marchesa Ballgrown.  Do NOT love her hair that looks like she is going to clean the bathroom. Have you noticed two things that real brides do that runway brides do not?  1) Smile. 2) Their Hair.  The Undone look is in.. the unkpempt look, I’m not so sold on.

Marchesa Spring 2015


Absolutely love this DEEP plunging V from Galia Lahav.

Galia LahavAND also really digging this casual, semi-halter style with illusion sleeve.  It seems crazy, but it’s working for me.. Also from Galia Lahav.  SO very 70′s Wedding Glamour.

Galia Lahav


The T-Shirt Sleeve was really big this season, showing up EVERYWHERE.  Here a glam, illusion version from Marchesa as well as a more casual, going to City Hall fashion-forward number from Houghton.

Marchesa ilusion top with T-Shirt Sleeve

HaughtonSpeaking of Houghton, this is a great opportunity to talk about the OTHER emerging trend on the Bridal Runways… a trend I’ll call the Stone Fox Bride effect.  The truth is not every bride wants to look like a glamazon or a princess or an open and shut case of Sexpot.  Some gals want to look like Pamela Love or Yoko Ono or some other low key, no fuss, beautiful-with-love-not-a-glam-squad kind of look.  Molly has been fostering that look with her @Stone_Fox_Bride instagram, more than 40K brides are stalking this look and it seemed clear to me that some of the design houses are listening.  Check out this barefoot bride with floral crown in a cotton eyelet at Oscar de la Renta.

Oscar de la Renta Spring 2015

Or, another fashion forward look from Houghton 

Houghton Two Piece


The “low-key” look, semi inspired by the 70′s even permeated more mass-market lines like WToo!

Wtoo Of course… there is always room to be a GLAMAZON on your wedding day… I’m just talking trends here.   One final bit to note, a HUGE kudos to all of these designers, not only on turning out another season of gorgeous dresses but for really, truly improving on runway diversity with your models.  Finally, we are acknowledging that women of all races and ethnicities get married!  If only we could show some models with boobs and butts so we could see how these dresses would look on the other 90% of the population who might wear them.     All images today courtesy




Sensational Millinery by Katie Burley

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Style | 2 Comments

I know that this will sound super random, but when I was a younger girl what I REALLY, really wanted to be was a milliner. I used to make all of the hats and hairpieces for the costume shop in college and was just obsessed with what could be done with the art of a hat. So, it’s really lovely to see when someone doesn’t just make veils and barrettes for brides, but truly takes the title of Millinery seriously.  I simply fell in love with Katie Burley!

I love this half cloche, half veil!

Katie Burley Birdcage Veil


I love floral crowns and I love Frida Kahlo and I love Jewelry, and this has ALL three!!Screenshot 2014-04-03 06.21.57

Speaking of floral crowns… what about making that your “something blue”

Screenshot 2014-04-03 06.22.48


For the girl who wants to channel her inner Daisy Buchanan!

Screenshot 2014-04-03 10.40.06Not everyone likes to be so bold, so for the gal wanting a soft and sweet flower child look:
Screenshot 2014-04-03 06.19.46

Or maybe it’s a nice crisp fall day outside and you are just running off to City Hall together…. don’t forget your hat!

Millery by Katie BurleyHow FASCINATING!  What about you? Would you rock a bold headdress or keep it more demure on yoru wedding day?



Inspiring Ideas: Custom Printed Fabrics

My constant quest for the unique, the one of a kind and the TRULY personal has led me to a near obsession with Spoon Flower and ALL things Fabric Printing.  Essentially, sometimes (for me, most of the time) the pre-fabricated just ISN’T cutting the mustard, and, what would really tie things together is a fabulous pattern on a throw pillow, bar linen, table cloth or Chuppah Cover.   For most projects that involving simply needing yardage (table linens, pillows, drapes) Spoonflower can be a fantastic way to deepen your design with a personal touch.

For our November Food Styling and Photography workshop with Karen Wise, I was inspired by the idea of the Still Life (which is essentially what great food photography is).  I turned to Katie Fisher Design to create a still life graphic that I then tiled on Spoonflower to create this fabric which eventually became the table linen for our family style luncheon table at the workshop.

Graphic from Katie Fisher Design made into a tablelinenKatie Fisher graphic as a linen for a Karen Wise stilllifeIn September, we were designing a cocktail party where space was limited, eliminating a lot of opportunities for personal detail we might otherwise infuse into a tabletop.  So instead, we turned to patterns and graphics that had personal meaning to the couple AND that were incorporated in their invitations. Here an escher inspired pattern and a pattern taken from the bride’s childhood home as they appeared on their couture Regas stationery AND later, reinterpreted as fabrics that became bar and cocktail table linens.

Patterns Created by Regas for a Client

Fabrics AAB Created from patterns taken from clients stationeryOf course, as great as Spoonflower is, it does have it’s limitations… Luckily for large scale graphics, there are regionally LOTS Of fabric printing specialty shops that largely cater to artists and interior designers that you can reach out to for a special project.  For the same clients last fall, who adored vintage maps, we took a vintage map of New York State and had it printed on fabric that acted both as their chuppah cover, and later a keepsake to take home.  (we kept the chuppah poles clear to not interfere with the stunning  views). Image courtesy Dave Robbins Photography.

Fabric Printing made the custom chuppah cover possible for an AAB Creates client


And, in case this didn’t spark your imagination enough yet- check out this amazing tent draping created for a wedding in UK (not by us) and printed by Crescent Moon in the UK.   How awesomely dreamy are the beautiful Flying pigs and of course, i LOVE the scale of this!

Flying Pig fabric custom created by Crescent Moon UKWe’re so lucky that so much technology- fabric printing, 3-D printing- is becoming available to make even our most outrageous or unique creations come to life!  What idea would you bring to life if budget were no object???



WPW: Tech Tools That Make Life Better

Posted by on Mar 26, 2014 in Industry Advice | No Comments

It’s been a while since I’ve done a digital round up of tech tools that make life better… mainly because there has been a shortage of them. BUT, lately I’ve been marveling at some simple apps, and web interfaces that have seemingly made my life so much better and… mobile.

1. Dropbox If your business hasn’t adopted this yet, you are officially late for the Tea Party, but don’t worry, it isn’t over.  It’s like google docs on crack, and since it exists on your desktop, online, your ipad and your phone, you literally can access everything, everywhere at anytime.  You can even link it so that your photos go in there AND so that your screenshots do too.

2. Roomscan is an app that allows you to tap your phone on walls and create a scalable floorplan… so no old barn, pre-war convention center, abandoned warehouse or any other freaky locale needs to be Guestimated again!  yay.

3. Moodboard. Though I’ve written about this before, when I was speaking at Chapel Planners last week I realized a lot of people still hadn’t heard of it, so I continue my evangelism about this amazing app that lets you take images from the web or your camera roll and drop them into a moodboard, while sizing the image with your fingertips as large (important) or small (unimportant) as you would like…..

A board made using mood board!


4. Lately I feel as though I don’t know how I functioned before Social Tables.  There are a lot of things that could improve (it’s definitely geared more towards hotel planners and corporate planners than social/ raw space designers) BUT, I have been getting creative and overall LOOOOVING IT.  And I realize I don’t even take advantage of all of the features… but it’s still pretty great. It’s a little funky on Mobile, but overall, what I’d been looking for.

5. This is the new NEW (as a matter of fact, I think I’m kind of beta testing it) but keep your eyes out for Brojure… Imagine if you could put together a client proposal with beautiful imagery and have it look like it was professionally designed in about 15 minutes…. And it could easily be emailed to them for reference AND totally visible on mobile online for them to share with their families…   It’s the hotness and it’s actually improving daily and only getting better!

What tech tools are you using that’s helped you work bigger and better???