WPW: In Honor of Eric Langlois

Posted by on Jun 19, 2013 in Business Advice | No Comments

Over the last two years as Mayra and I have decided to take fewer clients each season, the only downside that I feel is that I miss the frequency with which I could see my “vendor family”. I love them. I love them for being outside the NYPL at 4AM alongside us excited for our “team” to tackle this venue for the first time together. I love them for sleeping in teeny tiny stone cabins and shady motels and weird VRBO’s with us because they all signed on to come with us to a job in the middle of no where. I love them because they care so very much about what they do and doing it well. I love them because they always want to get better at their art and craft. I love hearing about their business and babies and marriages and divorces and loves. I love that they’ve seen our business grow and that we’ve seen their businesses grow. I love them because we create things together. It’s hard to explain that love to people not in this kind of work…

So, it was with a very heavy heart that I first heard about Eric Langlois going missing last week via the facebook streams Carla Ten Eyck and Beth Chapman, whom I had just met at Engage… For one week I followed their heart-wrenching updates as they, Eric’s wife Amber, Candice Coppola and other colleagues, family and friends searched for his body around a river in Connecticut. Sadly, I heard last night that his body had been found and his soul has moved on, leaving many, many loved ones behind.

Very special people are drawn to work in weddings. I don’t say that lightly. I’ve worked in other industries and, the thing that stands out for me is the quality of the people I meet. The quality of human beings. It attracts people who love to create, who love to witness love, who are generous of spirit. It’s a last bastion for artistic souls to earn a living. It’s always ironic to me that “the media” portrays the wedding industry as conniving or advantageous when in reality, I know that’s far from the truth. Eric’s vendor family (which included his wife, with whom he’d started Raw Photo Design) clearly had all of those qualities- but can I say, So did Eric.

I’d never met Eric, but I’ve visited his website and his blog several times in the last week as I’ve gotten more and more familiar with his image and heard about his life via his friends. He was a passionate photographer, he was committed to improving his art and his business, he was a collaborator and he was kind. He was also a loving husband and a dear father. All of this was very clear to see in his work and in his writing. He was the kind of person we’d love to know. He seems like the kind of person we do know.

A fund has been established to help his widow Amber and their children get through these next months. Please Donate whatever you can via this link. People ask often what it’s like to work in weddings. The hardest part is not anxious brides or difficult venues. The hardest part is when you need to go to work and it’s difficult to personally feel joy. It’s difficult when you need to grieve and there isn’t any room to do so because your contracted to help with the happiest day of someone else’s life. If you can help give Amber and their kids a bit of space, that would be amazing. If you can pray for Eric’s wedding vendor family as they seek the strength to feel joy as they head out to work this weekend, that would be amazing.

We didn’t know Eric, but on behalf of both of us, we want to offer our deepest sympathies, because he seemed a man who knew how to live.

Stationery Trends: A Return to the Classic?

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Decor & Details | 4 Comments

So, I will never say that Mayra and I are wedding trend forecasters, per se- we don’t see the kind of volume of clients that would require. However, what I can say with confidence is that we definitely work with taste maker types of clients: fashion designers, Creative Directors, film directors…. so I’m always curious about what it is that they are drawn to when it comes to weddings, and specifically the bold, printed, statement of “who we are and what this wedding will be about” that IS the wedding invitation.

Last year, if I could sum it up in Art History terms, I’d say that we had a Baroque into Roccocco period of stationery with our clients. Highly stylized, intensely detailed , layer upon layer of meaning and, dare I say, intense printing processes.
Some AaB Client invites from 2012
And then… there are the outliers. I’d say that Teresa and Jonny October wedding paper definitely started the trend towards a more pared down look. Below, their program and menu card- which pretty much mimicked their invitations, which were letterpressed onto a water marked linen-esque paper. It was all about typeface and typesetting, plus the quality of a thick, linen paper.
Clean, elegant paper pieces AaB creates
So, perhaps, as the restraint and elegance of Dutch Art and Neoclassicism were responses to the flourish of Baroque; Brides and Grooms are leaning towards more clean and classic invitations and accessory pieces. This season, I’ve seen our clients gravitating increasingly towards Sans Serif fonts, rich letterpress, blind embossing and even engraving on the thickest, most delicious papers. Below are three invitations that our clients have used as “inspiration” just this calendar year.
The Austin Traditional from Bella Figura with edge painting or foil edges.
Austin Traditional from Bella Figura
The Legendary Julie Holcomb, who is in many respects, the godmother of Letterpress, has never been more referenced by our clients. Especially with her mixes of blind embossing and her custom made, ultra thick papers.
Julie Holcomb
Even the classic idea of engraved invitations has a new elegance to it- as well as the heirloom-creating appeal of keeping your invitation plates with your motif or monogram to pass down to your children. Of course, no need to go any further than Dempsey and Carroll for timeless, engraved elegance.
Dempsey and Carroll Engraved Invitations

There is something elegant, regal and understated about these pieces. Is it cute? No. Is it whimsical? Not necessarily. Yet, as weddings are becoming increasingly personal, it’s interesting to see timeless stationery becoming increasingly appealing: after all, who doesn’t want their love to be timeless.

In Case You Were Considering… A Sunday Brunch Wedding

Posted by on Jun 14, 2013 in Decor & Details, Recent Work | One Comment

Happy Friday Everyone! This is a Re-post from Nov. 3, 2010 with video added. Molly is now the fabulous creative Director of Stone Fox Bride (a gown and styling shop here in NY) and it was a pleasure to plan and design her wedding to Mike a couple of years ago. I still love the look of this brunch, even nearly 3 years later! Brunches are fantastic ways to create a more cozy atmosphere, save a bit on alcohol and lighting, and have breakfast for wedding dinner. Yum. Daylight needn’t be a fun killer- guests will party the afternoon away if you let them, just ask the founders of Everyday People.

When I met Molly and Mike (no TV show relation) we had a great conversation about what they liked doing together and with their friends. The one thing that kept coming up again and again was how much they love hosting and attending brunches. From the food to the relaxed company to the idea of a leisurely Sunday afternoon, the entire thing had a warmth that appealed to them. Factor in to the fact that they had a guest list comprised largely of out of town friends and family, and that they weren’t big dancers, it seemed that a brunch wedding would offer them an opportunity to host a reception that reflected their personalities while simultaneously giving them a chance to really catch up with their guests.

We had the best time designing this event with them. First, was the venue. The Metropolitan Building is a popular location for night time parties, but with the skylights and the large windows, it was the perfect place for a midday gathering. We utilized the French inspired 2nd floor for a simple, but rustic looking ceremony with a chuppah made by the groom and embellished with ferns and leaves. The aisle was lined with pots of marigolds. The interfaith ceremony began with a chant in sanskrit and the procession stepped off with Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic performed by a guitar duo. The service included readings of the bride’s grandmother’s words of advice to married couples, a poem written by one of the guests and of course the exchange of the couples personal written vows. As two writers, their personal vows really marked the ceremony.

Chuppah during the rehearsal

After the ceremony guests headed upstairs for the amazing brunch menu that we created with Creative Edge Parties. Passed hors d’oeuvres included mini fruit and yogurt parfaits, virgin bloody mary shots with mini grilled cheese and deviled egg pastries. Once guests were seated they were met with an abundance of food set family style on a casual farm table set with succulents. There were scrambled eggs and caviar, bacon three ways, black bread and salmon, benoits and biscuits with clotted creams and jams, fruit salads, etc.

We wanted the feeling to be organic and airy and rustic, and filled with some delightful details. We’ll have more to come, but, to replicate the feeling of Freeman’s Alley and Marlow and Daughters. We used bistro style chalk boards for tables and escort display and filled the tables with succulents and pomegranates. Run of the mill napkins didn’t seem to have that edge that we wanted, so we had these awesome napkins made out of ticking stripe and tied them with twine. Custom napkins are a bit of a splurge, but, they make such a nice take away for the bride and groom’s linen closet when they entertain. Finally, the unfinished strawberry shortcake made by a friend of the couple. We supplemented that with some delightful desserts from Cheryl Kleinman. More pics to come!

Check out the gorgeous, moody video from Kiss the Bride films here:

Molly & Mike’s Brunch from Kiss The Bride Films on Vimeo.

WPW: Engage! Recap (Fixed vs. Mutable)

Posted by on Jun 12, 2013 in Business Advice | 2 Comments
Trapped on the Plane with the best company (image courtesy @MichelleLRago)

Trapped on the Plane with the best company (image courtesy @MichelleLRago)

Happy Wednesday everyone!  It’s hard to believe that 1 week ago I was sitting in the Asheville Airport with the likes of Marcy Blum, Harriet Rose Katz, Michelle Rago and David Beahm (amongst several fabulous others) drinking Bloody Mary’s and talking shop while we waited – for several hours- for our teeny tiny Delta Plane to take off. And that is part of the magic of Engage!, it’s about the  knowledge that you obtain from the workshops themselves, but it’s also about the knowledge and connections you make while hiking a trail or sitting in the lobby or even riding a shuttle bus to the fabulous gala.  I was trying to run it in my mind, but collectively in the room, there must have been at least 1,000 years of experience in luxury weddings.  Now, THAT is something.

I have been noodling what my biggest take away would be for this Wedding Pro Wednesday post, because I learned so very much and am eager to share. What most struck me though- and it came up again and again and again throughout the 4 days- was the importance of change. Change, Adaptability, Growth, Enhancement.  These words came up again and again as lessons learned from the speakers in the room.  Marcy talked about the need to continually educate yourself. Colin spoke of the need to continually refine and adapt your approach.  David Beahm spoke of knowing what you need to do to change and deciding to do it. Jasmine spoke about it in her talk and Lara encouraged it in hers. We spoke about it at length on our panel.

If we don’t like it, we can fix it. If we aren’t happy, we can change it.

There are things that are fixed about us- our height, our skin color, our age.   We can invent ways to change them, and spend effort and time and money on that, but genetically they are so.  Then there are things that are mutable: our state of mind, our state of business, our level of knowledge, the way we interact with clients, the way that we interact with our family and colleagues, the way we interact with ourselves.  Those are all massively mutable things.  With the power of our minds, we can effect enormous amounts of change in the way we manage our businesses and our lives.

What struck me most from all of the speakers, in their talks on stage and off, was the acknowledgement that when things weren’t going well (and going well is a self-defined state, right?  One persons version of successful could be a living nightmare for someone else), they STOPPED for a second to breath, reflect, revise the vision and then forged ahead.  They adapted themselves and their businesses towards greater happiness.  They took the step to say “This isn’t working for me, so let me try something new.” Change can be small, and yield huge returns.  Small change can be the tiny step towards big change.  But change is inevitable and should be embraced. To often, we don’t examine things for fear of what we’ll find or see re-adjusting goals as a sign of defeat, but to paraphrase Sean Low, no one is upset when their baby no longer wears a onesie- it’s a signfier of growth.

One of my FAVORITE pics from the gala at the Biltmore with friends Old and New!

David Beahm, Me, Ceci Johnson, Brian Worley and Annie Lee (Ceci brilliantly art directed!)

David Beahm, Me, Ceci Johnson, Brian Worley and Annie Lee (Ceci brilliantly art directed!)

DIY Glitter Vases and Votives

Vintage bottles from Flea Market "before"I get bored easily, so while I love finding things at the Flea Market (like old perfume bottles, and vintage flasks), once we use them at an event one time, I find myself feeling like they are yesterday’s news… who cares? What’s so interesting about that?
So, I thought that we could glitz them up a bit with not too much effort. I of course forgot to take a before photo, so this is from the google, but we started with some vintage bottles and flasks that we found at the Flea (more can be found online for quantity, should you want to “borrow” this idea).

Elmers Glue
Aluminum Foil wrap
German Glitter
Cheap Paint Brush
Vintage vases
DIY Glitter Vases and Votives
Step One:
One Aluminum Foil create an area for glue and separately for glitter.
Step two:
Using paint brush, coat the vase or votive completely in glue
Step three:
Cover the glued area thoroughly with glitter
Step Four:
Optional- coat with a clear spray paint as a seal- (important if transporting)
Voila! The final result!!!
aaB Creates Glitter Vases