Love: Lakum Bridal

Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 in Style | No Comments

Ugh! I got an invitation to this event for Lakum, a new bridal line focusing on not just the wedding gown, but the entire wedding weekend look, and I fell so in love with their dresses I couldn’t wait for the event and had to post right away! FINALLY, wedding attire for the truly fashion forward! Listen, more traditional gowns have their place in the realm of fantasy, but I won’t hide under a rock anymore and pretend that weddings aren’t changing rapidly, and as goes the gala, so goes the gown.

For years now, weddings have been moving closer and closer to representing who a couple is on the day to day. The super casual couple, even of means, doesn’t want to pretend to be someone more formal or stuffy than who they are. The true indie-fashionista isn’t necessarily trying to emulate Sophia Vergara from a red carpet as much as the would prefer to channel the edgier stylings of The Man Repeller. And when I saw the Lakum look book, I thought to myself “These gals get it”. Founded by Sathya Balakumar and Heather Green, this truly modern collection aims to offer the bride a collection of looks for the entire wedding experience. It is NOT for every bride, but for the bride that it is for… wow do they do it right! Here are a few of my favorite of their “looks”.  (And an extra kudos to the ladies for using a woman of color as a model!  Wish we saw this more!)

Lakum Modern Wedding Dress

Lakum Glamorous Wedding Dress

Lakum Babydoll Wedding Dress

Lakum's Perfect Wedding Brunch Ensemble

Perfect Destination Wedding Dress from Lakum

Dreamy Rehearsal Dinner Dress from Lakum

Two Piece Wedding Gown from Lakum with Back to Die For

Sweet and Sassy Tea Length Dress form Lakum

WPW: The Dangers of Comparison

Posted by on Jan 28, 2015 in Business Advice, Strategy & Advice | 2 Comments

When our business was “young” and I was also unhappily married, I used to spend hours and hours combing through the ads on and the vendor listings on New York Magazine, obsessing over the competition. (this may or may not have been related to my unhappy life as a wife). If someone new popped on my radar, I would pour over their website (thankfully social media didn’t even exist at this stage of the game really…otherwise you can only imagine the Instagram/Facebook/Twitter rabbit holes I would have gone down) and then send semi-frantic emails to Mayra with weblinks saying things like “Maybe we should try doing this this way?”. Getting new issues of Bridal magazines was less an inspirational experience and more akin to being able to mark up my score card of who had gotten “Real Weddings” featured or any other kind of mention.

This extended to other things too. I obsessed over other bloggers blog traffic (even though they were TOTALLY different blogs really with totally different areas of appeal), I can openly admit to comparing my weight and size with other people’s and I’m sure 90 other myriad areas of points of comparison where I would either judge myself superior or decidedly inferior AND (here’s the worst part) try and keep up with what other people were doing.

The danger of this, of course, is that comparison makes you miserable. To quote Theodore Roosevelt “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.” because it distracts you from your unique awesomeness. This week on Besties in Business 2 Minute Topic, we talk about why you shouldn’t “Keep up with the Joneses” in business and how to stop- something I think is especially true in our industry where we can so easily “know” what’s happening with the photographer/planner/florist next store and how “amazing” their business looks…. (Another danger for another week… To quote Elaine Stritch, whenever you think someone else’s life is amazing “We all have our own bag of Rocks.”)

WPW: Are Habits Holding You Back?

We had a great meeting with one of our non-wedding clients last night. We helped them with an annual event that they have and it was our first year being involved as well as our client contact’s first year and in the aftermath the one thing that dawned on us- coming in with fresh eyes- is that a lot of things were being done because they had always been done… not necessarily because they were the most effective or efficient or creative ways to do them.

It got me thinking how often “habits” can hold us back… we might even go so far as to call them systems or processes. Personally speaking, we used to have a method of working with clients when we first started our business that worked for years- especially when we did a lot of NYC weddings at around the same price points. But as soon as we began attracting clients with double and triple the budgets and began traveling for work more frequently, attempting to adhere to our systems was actually making our lives a living hell. We didn’t notice this at first though, because we were “doing things “our way”” and sometimes it’s hard to admit that your way might not be working anymore.

Like people, businesses grow and change… it’s natural, normal and should be welcome. With growth comes needed change.

As you are booking your new season, it’s a great time to think “what happened last season that didn’t work for me and was that possibly the result of a bad habit”… Maybe you were always hunting down late payments b/c it’s time to change the way you manage your book keeping or Maybe it’s time to stop calling that same freelancer that you always call b/c they are always available and do good work but they winge and whine the entire job. Maybe it’s a bigger issue and your entire intake process needs to be overhauled b/c it’s outdated or based on a lifestyle you don’t want to keep anymore. Whatever it is, the time to change it has never been better!

If you haven’t been tuning into our Besties in Business Web Series, you will totally want to check out this week: we sit down with Courtney Ilarrazza- the co-founder of Baby Bodyguards- a child safety business she founded with her husband and has taken to franchise. How they turned the failure into a successful opportunity is truly inspiring!

#charmedbycaneel : Weddings & Honeymoons in Caneel Bay

As I mentioned last week, one of the ways that I managed to escape the month of January was by accepting an invitation to check out the beautiful Caneel Bay resort in St. John, USVI.   We were asked in advance to use the hashtag #charmedbycaneel and almost immediately I could see why.  After the relatively short flight down to St. Thomas, you hop on a 30 minute Ferry ride over to Caneel Bay.  The journey is stunning, and also equipped with Rum Punch… making everything just a little bit better!

The actual history of Caneel Bay is pretty fascinating (and long) and filled with tales of Slave Rebellions and Sugar Plantations (an old sugar mill is now a stunning restaurant on property, which would make a stunning rehearsal dinner location). And though the property is pretty vast, I was amazed at how much it felt like a campus and how easy it would be to feel that a group of even 20 or 30 would feel like they had the run of the place for a small destination wedding.

View from the Ferry (shot by @cecinewyork)

View from the Ferry (shot by @cecinewyork)

Because of the way the property is situated, most rooms have an ocean front view and a terrace. There are multiple beaches and one of the great “cultures” of the resort is that you can order picnic lunches or pack a cooler and “head out” to a different part of the island for the afternoon.
Yoga Studio at Caneel Bay Resort USVI

View from the yoga studio at Caneel Bay

Honeymoon Beach, which is probably the most “remote” of the beaches, is packed with water activities and tour guides who can take your group out on an excursion.. a pretty fantastic bonding experience if you want to reinforce that “destination” experience.
Ultimate Caribbean Vacation Mode

Floating in Caneel Bay

Our group did a cayak-hike-snorkel tour of the island/ resort, which has bunch of hiking trails and, even for me who is not a very strong swimmer (i.e., I almost drowned trying to make it to a swim up bar once) was worth the effort as there are a couple of small coral reefs around the property that are filled with the most stunning fish.
Underwater Yoga with @gypsetgoddess

@gypsetgoddess having fun with a @gopro

Water sports aside, what I really loved the most about the property is that it was luxurious in it’s service, but still approachable in it’s style, with a good mix of “beach” caribbean settings for weddings mixed with slightly more “polished” locations, so that you could have a beach front ceremony, but have your reception on a spanish tiled patio overlooking the ocean; or vice versa. There was a lot of variety to offer a couple hosting various events, including one of my favorite activities- a sunset cruise around St. John. It was a perfect mingling and photo opportunity, without a ton of intense preperation required.
Sunset Cruise around Caneel Bay for Guests (photo from @Carly)

The resort offers a lovely sunset cruise for guests

Truthfully, Caneel would be a wonderful location for a girls getaway before the wedding, or a place to kick it with your boo after the festivities were over… but it has a world to offer to a couple looking to host a full weekend of wedding leisure and bonding for their friends and family. The plus of not needing a passport to get there checks a lot of boxes on the convenience front and I was pleasantly surprised at how simple the travel in and out of the island was to coordinate. If you check it out, please let me know what you think? For more on Caneel, check out the hash tag #charmedbycaneel on instagram!
Sugar Mill on the grounds of Caneel Bay

@CeciNewYork posing by the amazing Sugar Mill on Caneel Bay

In totally other news… I think the blog needs a refresh… what do you all think? It’s a new year and I’m getting my blogging MoJo back… Rather than bug you all with a survey this year, I’m going to ask you the favor of letting me know what you’d like to see more of on here in either the comments section or via email at xochitl at

WPW: Want to Improve Your Social Media in 2015?

It’s 2015 and most of us have set some business goals for ourselves.  We often hear from people “I need to improve my social media” or “How did they get so many instagram followers? I need to do that.”  Social media can leave a lot of us being frustrated. We know social media it’s is a valuable marketing tool, we know it’s relatively low cost to implement, but somehow it leaves many of us feeling like we just “don’t get it.”

Today I’m going to help you “get it” so you can get better, by sharing some of what I learned recently from shining stars of social media while on a recent “influencers” trip to Caneel Bay in St. John, USVI (I’ll be offering a full recap on this lovely property next week) .

This talented (and really fun and lovely) group  included our amazing hosts as well as Gerald Graziano, social media marketer for Leading Hotels of the World, Design and Lifestyle blogger/author of Habitually Chic Heather Clawson of @habituallychic, star Fashion Blogger (The College Prepster) Carly Heitlinger (@carly), yoga guru and Instagram star Caitlin of @gypsetgoddess , trend breaking photographer @justinslens and off course our friend and industry colleague, Ceci Johnson owner of the couture stationer @cecinewyork.

Here are 10 strategy takeaways and 5 practical every day tips to help your social media improve in 2015.

How to Improve Your Social Media (image by @justinslens)

@cecinewyork @carly and @gypsetgoddess in a @gopro pic by @justinslens


1. Good Instagram (and all social media) requires frequency and consistency. Back at Engage! Brooke Keegan shared with me that she really grew her Instagram following by committing to posting 2 times a day. All my travellers confirmed this and said 3x is optimal… Per day and never less than 1x – even when you are on vacay.

2. But not too much. 4x a day was deemed too much and spreads out your potency too much…

3. Art direction matters. Amazing Instagram and Pinterest images/moments don’t just happen, they take work! And effort. Take some time to art direct your office or flowers or to stage the pic of you and your client against the nicest backdrop available. If you see something amazing while traveling stop and take the time to get the image…   I experimented with this while I was there and set a time limit of 5 minutes to get a shot I thought could be cool and picked up 15 new followers with the result.

4. Because if it’s your brand, nothing is neutral. Bad lighting, grainy photos, etc all can speak as much negative about your brand as a great image can convey something positive.

5. Be Authentic to Your Brand/Have a Point of View. Yes, some strategy is involved, but Your words and the style of images should be somewhat organic to who you (and your brand) are. Ceci is all about glamour and her Instagram reflects this, just as Carly is all about her love of all things luxuriously preppy-monograms and plaids and cross body bags. They stay on brand, but that isn’t too hard because their brand reflects themselves.

6. Don’t be afraid to be a bit personal.  Carly Roney had said at Engage that a great social media profile is 80% professional and 20% social. Your social feed should be like a snowflake- uniquely you. Show your work or product, sure, but Don’t be afraid to show your dog, a pic witor your new home or what you are reading or even your new look as long as…

7. You can post pics of yourself, but avoid selfies! Lots of discussion about selfies with my colleagues on this trip- the consensus being that a selfie comes across more as lonely than as showing off yourself.  Viewers see you less of being a “subject” of a photo than more of you being someone who couldn’t be someone else’s subject.  Think of the difference in authority of a fashion blogger being photographed in her outfit of the day and someone taking a selfie in a mirror.  They can be fun from time to time, but shouldn’t flood your feed.

8. You Don’t Have to Post Yourself At All.  Maybe you don’t like to be photographed, or posing for photos makes you quesey or makes you feel weird… you can still have a personal instagram without including your person.  Just be sure that your subject matter is personal and reflects your taste and style… and not just what you ate for lunch or dinner.   This is especially true if you put out a lot of photos of your work.  Don’t forget to also show images of things you love that inspire you (Matthew Robbins does an awesome job of this in my opinion)

9. Stay Consistent.  I’ve personally struggled with this as of late, but it’s important to stay consistent.  If you blog, try to not only try  with every day ( if that’s your thing) or the same two days a week, but the same time every day.

10. You Don’t Have to Master Everything.  Pick the mediums you find are the most helpful for you- Facebook or Instagram and or Pinterest and Blogging or Twitter and Facebook.

Practical Tips:

1. Tag Your Pics the Way People Search for Things.   If you did a wedding at Haiku Mill, don’t write (and I’ve done this) AAB Creates Wedding, tag it Haiku Mill Wedding by AAB Creates)

2.  Keep Your Most Common Hashtags in Your Phone’s Notes App. yes, hashtags should be funny, but they are also how new people find you, so all your pics should have some basic hashtags that go on all (or almost all) your photos , especially those that showcase your service/talent/product.  Save time and keep them on your phone’s notes app so you can just cut and paste them.

3. Hashtag things Practically. See tip 1 and tip 2, and combine- hashtag in ways that will help market your product for people who are LOOKING FOR YOUR SERVICES, not for people who are not. So a hashtag like #weddingindustry might help you get booked for a speaking gig at a conference or to market your seminar, but it’s not likely attracting a bride.

4. Silence the Noise.  A lot of the purpose of social media comes from meaningful engagement.  You may find that you have too many friends on Facebook and your Aunt Dottie clutters your feed with her pics of her pet bunny rabbit and you miss posts from the editor of Southern Weddings or you follow too many people on Twitter and don’t want to offend people by unfollowing them.  Use the “Hide” and “Mute” features to edit your landscape to help you engage in a more meaningful way.

5.  Go To The Dance.   Even if you aren’t active on all social media, at least attend social media. Have handles everywhere so people can tag you and include you in the conversation… it’s happening everywhere with or without you, so at least be available to be included and to direct people to your site or whatever social platform you ARE participating on.

If this seems like a lot of work, it is… but you also are using this as a tool, not a new job.  Your goal with this is not to become the next Instagram celebrity (or maybe it is), it’s to market your business to the right audience in a powerful way.  It doesn’t need to be a full time job, so don’t get overwhelmed, just pick one or two things you can do to get better.

If you want to see how great these pros are at managing their brands and voices online, check out our hashtag #charmedbycaneel