Guide for the Newly Engaged

Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 in Practical Planning | One Comment

Happy New Year and a WELCOME to all of our newly engaged readers who are visiting! Excited to be back to work after a nice holiday break.

Please enjoy an engagement gift from us to you! The Always a Blogsmaid “Getting Started Guide”- a digestible, easy to read, 22 page guide for the newly engaged to teach you all of the above and then some.  A MUST before you pick up the phone or hop on an email to start your planning.  You can download it here and I think it works best on an ipad, but you can view the PDF pretty much anywhere.  Enjoy, share, and of course, you can always visit here for more guidance and inspiration.

10.10 Weddings for Smartiescover


7th Annual Resolutions for the Newly Engaged

Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 in Practical Planning | No Comments

We first put this post up in 2008, and, with a couple of add-ons over the years, I am happy to say that we’ve felt good about RE-posting it year on year.

Happy New Year Brides to Be!!! Rather than take any questions today, I wanted to take a chance to share good wishes and hopefully, some good advice.  There are a lot of you newbie engaged ladies out there, and as you start a new year as the future Mrs. So-and-So, here are some Bridolutions for you to consider adopting in 2008 2009 2010 2011  2013 2014  2015 to keep wedding planning FUN in those moments of STRESS.  Congratulations!

1. Resolve to not lose sight of the Day After the Wedding. And I’m not talking about your post wedding brunch! You are marrying the most amazing person! You are lucky to have each other.  After the cake is cut, the gifts are packed the the adorable favors taken home, you guys will have one another. So while the wedding is important, remember the next day is the real start of your new lives!  If you keep that in mind, you’ll inevitably have MUCH more fun planning it all.

2. Resolve to be a gracious bride. 

Oh, these people will MAKE YOUR CRAZY at times.  Bridesmaids WILL be selfish at times and guests will sometimes pull some CRAZY, wacky stuff (what do you mean you want to bring your cousin and her 3 kids?????) BUT, if you keep your head above the fray and remember to be GRACIOUS and thankful, your memories of your engagement will be MUCH sweeter. No one likes a Bridezilla, not even herself! (Seriously, I can’t tell you how many past bridezillas have called me months later to say “I’m not really like that!”)

3. Resolve to Compromise (Sometimes). It’s your day your way, but when arguments arise with Mom or In-laws or DH, sometimes its better (and easier) to stop, drop and roll.  No, you don’t want to hire a band that your MIL loves or wear a dress just because your mom picked it out, but would it KILL you to have a menu card?  Probably not. Would a monogrammed napkin totally ruin the aesthetic of your wedding? Not really.  Don’t sweat the totally small stuff, and you’ll be able to put your foot down when it REALLY Matters.

4.  Resolve to Trust your Team. Do your due diligence before you hire a vendor (Recommendations, ask around about them, look them up in magazines or online, check on insurance, etc) and then STOP DOUBTING them.  If you have hired a true professional, they will care about doing an amazing job almost as much as you do.  Energy – Negative, draining energy is constantly wasted fretting over vendors who are already contracted.  Remember, every vendor is a pro, but also a human, and negative questioning has never extracted top performance, in my experience.

5. Resolve to Stick to Your Schedule. I have to go to the gym 5 or 6 times a week not to act like a crazy Rhymes with Witch around the office.  I know that about myself, so I have a schedule and I discipline myself to follow it.  If you (or your planner) has set up a schedule for planning tasks and chores for your wedding, STICK TO IT.  It’s easy to let work and life derail you, but the more you spread out the TASKS of planning the wedding, the easier it is to NOT BE OVERWHELMED. Hire people in a timely manner, don’t drag out the process and stay on top of thank you notes and your registry.  Work is very important, but you MUST prioritize your wedding as well.

6. Resolve to See the Big Picture. Read item 1, read Item 2 and combine.  If you find yourself freaking out 6 months from now over a ribbon trim, stop, walk around the block, or your desk, and ask yourself why?  Maybe it’s not about the ribbon, and your annoyed that your fiance doesn’t care about the details you care about. Maybe you’re exhausted of making decisions.  Maybe you need a little break. But remember, a ribbon is still a ribbon. It’s one tiny element that helps make the picture of your day: a painting stroke in the masterpiece of your wedding.  It will not RUIN the image.  Step back, see how great everything else is and move forward.

7.  Resolve to Accept Possible Setbacks. Don’t take this as an omen, or as a “wait for shoe to drop”, please ladies, but sometimes there are random setbacks.  I’ve had a wedding that needed to be relocated 8 weeks before the big day.  Once, they put up a scaffold in front of a client’s venue the DAY before the wedding without anyone (even the venue) knowing.  A friend’s MOH was put on bedrest and she wasn’t able to be at the wedding.  They sound like horror stories, but ultimately, none of these things RUINED anyone’s wedding.  And remember that, girls and boys. Sometimes, life’s complications sneak into wedding world. But they will not and cannot ruin your dream day!

8. Resolve to Do What You Can Afford. You aren’t going to win any awards by having the world’s largest wedding that you go into debt for. Assess what you can afford and commit yourself to having a reception that fits into that goal.  Don’t be afraid to re-think what the wedding needs to be: maybe it’s a breakfast or brunch instead of dinner, or dessert reception with dancing.

9. Resolve to Celebrate who YOU guys both ARE. This doesn’t need to conflict with resolving to compromise, but listen, you only do this once…. If you guys are quirky, don’t be afraid to be QUIRKY. If you are formal, be FORMAL.  Celebrate Culture, Celebrate Faith, Celebrate the things that made you love one another.  If you are enjoying your party, so will your guests, so make it something you would love to attend. Resolve to have it be the kind of celebration that you guys would ACTUALLY host.  If you would never have a sit down formal dinner, no one is telling you that you have to…. AND if you would NEVER have a low key cocktail party… well, consider cutting your guest list until you can have the kind of fabulous celebration you can swing…

10. Remember, PERSONAL is not generic and INSPIRING doesn’t mean replicating. Somewhere, personalizing a wedding (making it seem reflective of your personalities and unique to the two of you) got confused with slapping a monogram on anything that was imprintable and replicating every cute idea seen around the blogosphere.  Use blogs to INSPIRE, but try, really try to make it personal. It will pay off. If you are doing a photo booth, what are props you could use say something about the two of you?  Maybe a handle-bar moustache speaks volumes about the two of you, but maybe two hockey sticks might say even more. :-)

Enjoy this special, magical time in your lives!!!!  Enjoy this wonderful year where you wave your ring finger around and get constant manicures!!!! It’s special and FUN!  Happy 2014 Looking forward to getting your questions this year!  Remember email for advice, getting started tips, vendor recs, or whatever, to info at  or check the archives to see if we may have hit your question before!

What do you resolve as you embark on 2014?

WPW: Charging What Your Worth with Ceci Johnson

Posted by on Dec 10, 2014 in Industry Advice | No Comments

One of the biggest challenges for not only women business owners, but for creative professionals generally, is finding the confidence to charge what you know that you are worth… particularly if you provide a highly couture and time intensive service or product.   As part of our most recent Besties in Business interview, we sat down with stationery legend, Ceci Johnson, founder of Ceci New York to talk about some of the lessons she’s learned building her brand in the past 10 years.  Here is a highlight from the full interview, available on our Besties in Business You Tube channel. You won’t want to miss her tips on delegating responsibilities, digital marketing

Pink Stripes and Floral: Inspired by and Engage! ing Moment

One of the best parts about Engage! is that there is some built in down time that allows you to really meet new people and reconnect with ones you might already know but not get to hang out with that often. I had one such moment by the beach with our beloved Marcy Blum, Liene Stevens and the super talented David Beahm, who I don’t actually get to spend much time with even though we are both based here in New York. I snapped this shot of he and Marcy looking oh so pretty in pink and I just got so much feedback on Facebook and Instagram. A lot of people of course just love them, but some people who aren’t in the wedding industry loved this shot so much and I finally decided it was because of how effortlessly dashing they looked with their chic floral and stripes.
Inspired by Stripes and FLoral

I found their palette and mixed patterns so compelling and inspiring I had to show you other occasions where it was a resounding success!
I am so digging this tabletop! (Via Oiide)
Pink stripe and Floral (with a pop of orange)
For a more country look, check out this dining room via Lush Home.
Screenshot 2014-12-01 15.04.21
However, it can also get quite sophisticated! Love this more masculine take in this dining room.
Mod and Masculine PInk stipes and floral
Of course, as far as eclectic glamour goes, this amazing living room just takes the cake! Love the mixed panel curtains! Bold and Beautiful!
Pink Stripes and Floral
In fact, I know it’s busy…but I love it and had to show it twice.. (via Jen Gooch)
Pink stripes and Floral
Remember, mixing and matching patterns can make life a whole lot more interesting… but not nearly as interesting as an afternoon the beach with David and Marcy.

WPW Engage!14 Cayman Recap and being Thankful

Posted by on Nov 26, 2014 in Industry Advice | 3 Comments

It’s the eve of Thanksgiving and in addition to the fact that I think I have some of the greatest Framily on the planet (my chosen family) I am coming off of two of possibly the biggest/craziest/most amazing weeks not only of this year but in a long time. I left my apartment on Nov. 11th for San Francisco, where Mayra and I were meeting up to pursue a pretty exciting business opportunity. On a more personal note, the trip was a bit last minute and came up hours after I had declared that next year I would make a point to head to the bay to see my father- from who I’d been kind of estranged for the past 15 years. Since it seemed like I had called this opportunity in from the Universe, I took advantage of we had dinner with my father and his wife before our big day of meetings in SF. Immediately after I was bound for Providence, RI where I had the honor of being asked to sit on the Brown University President’s Leadership Council alongside some truly remarkable alumni. We spent a weekend hearing about and giving feedback on some super exciting stuff happening at our Alma Mater and coincidentally my good friend Caryn was up at Campus as part of a Career Day talking about her kick ass career in music journalism… so we got to do things we could never do as college kids: mainly pay for steaks and martinis on federal hill and laugh about some of our college era shenanigans. Quite literally I flew from PVD to Grand Cayman where I was so grateful and delighted to be able to attend and speak at Engage!14 at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman.

My first Engage! ever was back in 2010 in Grand Cayman and it was amazing and exciting to see all that Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce have done to grow the brand and the EXPERIENCE for the attendees. It’s a unique setting to be able to not only learn from industry experts but also to relax, connect and engage! with your peers. This time around I noticed two major themes showing up- from the Main Stage- where editors, founders and heavy hitters in the business offer up concise insights over a 22 minute span, the theme that emerged was Authenticity. Carley Roney spoke about the importance of being real with your clients and how the millennial couple doesn’t just want to hire you, they want to feel that they know you and that you know them: that it was an authentic experience. She suggested using your social media to promote your work about 80% of the time, but to not fear using the other 20% to share a bit about your life and your interests. Marcy Blum spoke from the heart about having her best year ever (LeBron James’ wedding, anyone?) but the conundrum of being too busy to market herself for the following season. She spoke of the dangers of comparing yourself to others while you are feeling down, but remembering that the solution comes from taking true stock of your business and how it operates and good old fashioned pounding the pavement. Simon T. Bailey inspired as usual by speaking to us about embracing our true worth and being authentic to our unique value and commanding the dollars required instead of price cutting to get jobs. And finally David Beahm spoke out about the need to cut the bullshit in this business and embrace our authentic selves.
IMage courtesy the Engage!14 Photography  team
In the breakouts, the emerging message was refinement: Of Processes, of Marketing, of Hiring and Firing practices, of how you position yourself. I was blessed with the opportunity to take the stage and talk with a roomful of amazing attendees about managing client relationships and implementing boundaries as a strategic tool for a better business. I’ll expound more on my session later, but Engage! is the kind of wonderful environment where even in the midst of my own chatter someone asked a question and I thought “Wow, we got the external, client stuff into a good place, but now we need to work on the internal stuff.” Luckily, the amazing Amy Zaroff was on hand to speak about just that- advising us entrepreneurs to come up with standards that we not only hire by (such as believing in the value of reputation and selling expertise), but that we evaluate and fire by as well. The elegant Lynn Eastman gave a sensational seminar on managing your brand message in PR and how to expand your reach via your visual work, while the incomparable Michelle Rago gave an awesome workshop/talk about refining your client and selling true luxury.

As though that all weren’t enough excitement/opportunity/honors to be excited enough about, we also produced two pretty sweet events including an amazing fundraiser for the Seeds of Peace Young Leadership Council at Terminal 5, I flew to Chicago to speak at Toss the Bouquet AND, most excitingly of all, Mayra and I launched our newest Venture, Besties in Business. Besties is a site I hope you will all check out as it’s a place for women who mean business… their own businesses that is. Each week we are sitting down with a fabulous woman business owner and talking shop – how they came to be, what advice they had to offer and what they can share with you. Please check out our latest interview with Linsey Snyder, the founder of Face Time Beauty Concierge and general awesome lady for some inspiring advice.
I am so thankful for my amazing business partner that is on this wild ride with me, all of the amazing clients that give us new opportunities each year, and for the support of all of you wonderful people in this industry! Wishing you all a happy thanksgiving!