Monday, May 23, 2011

Bridal Gown Round Up - Amazing Dresses Under $2,500

So many designers are making stunning gowns that are not only ready-to-wear off the rack, but are affordable for every budget without feeling like a "budget bride". If you love it and feel like a million bucks, it doesn't matter if the price tags says otherwise. After all, we all know Mr. Louboutin or Mr. Choo has the perfect pair to upgrade any frugal find.

Check out some of my favorite ready-to-wear gowns for under $2,500.

BHLDN - Crepe De Chine Column Gown

Decadently rich, four-ply crepe de chine drapes, hugs, and cinches in all the right places to create this sashed and cap-sleeved BHLDN original. Effortless and classic, its simple, feminine silhouette hints at mid-century glamour, while the color blocking at its peach-dipped hem lends a modern twist.
Price: $2,500
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BHLDN - Panes of Lace Gown

Panes of Lace Gown
Walking the line between traditional and modern almost perfectly, Essere reinterprets all of the usual elements. French lace picks up where finely pleated cups leave off—scooping just below the collar bone, up and over the shoulders, and alongside a line of shank buttons down the back before finally stopping at the sash (just as beautiful bow-tied as it is left to hang loose) and double lined silk skirt with mini train.
Price tag: $1,200
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BHLDN - Tiered Tulip Gown

Tiered Tulip Gown
We're smitten with this flower-fresh silhouette. Its five floaty layers of organza playfully open at the hem to reveal a tulle flounce. Each tier is trimmed in black pearl-edge stitches for a bit of contrast, while a silk sash lends soft volume to the front or back waist. Fluttering ruffles at the sweetheart neckline accentuate the bust, and an interior corset and bra cups provide extra support.
Price tag: $2,400
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BCBG - Maggie Gown

Maggie Gown
Opt for modern elegance on your special day in this stunning tulle and lace gown.V-neck. Sleeveless. Slim fit. Lacy body. Tulle overlay with geometric pattern. Tiered tulle detail at shoulders. V-shaped back. Slightly flared hem with unfinished edges.
Price tag: $498
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BCBG - Marisa Gown

Marisa Gown
Layers of gorgeous silk organza with dramatic ruffled detail create whimsical beauty on your most special day. Strapless. Slim fit through bodice with flared full-length skirt. Layered detail throughout bodice. Ruffled embellishments at skirt. Boning at bodice.
Price tag: $1,048
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BCBG - Trudy Gown

Trudy Gown
Floor-sweeping silk chiffon in asymmetrical tiers makes an unforgettable entrance at your most special event. Strapless. Classic fit with full-length silhouette. Asymmetrical tiers at bust and throughout skirt. Pleated silk sash at waist.
Price tag: $578
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Marchesa - Notte Gown

Notte by Marchesa
An elegantly streamlined one-shoulder dress gets an added flourish with an oversized rosette. Front pleating starts at bust and drapes through skirt.
Price tag: $935
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Rachel Gilbert - Ava Gown

Rachel Gilbert - Ava Gown
Rachel Gilbert's white silk-satin gown with voluminous tiers of sheer organza is guaranteed to create an unforgettable bridal look. Show off the sweetheart neckline with chandelier earrings and maximize the stunning silhouette with your highest ivory heels.
Price tag: $1,820
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Temperley London - Liviana Gown

Liviana Gown by Temperley London
Gold bead embellishment lends Temperley London's elegant cream silk-chiffon gown a subtly exotic edge. Offset the delicate hue of this strapless bridal style with a metallic clutch and a striking cuff.
Price tag: $2,200
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Rachel Gilbert - Leticia Gown

Rachel Gilbert - Leticia Gown
A softly sculpted bodice and shimmering sequin embellishment make Rachel Gilbert's sheer white silk gown a breathtaking bridal choice. Wear this dramatic style with the detachable shoulder strap, or wear it without to reveal an elegant d├ęcolletage
Price tag: $1,290
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weekly Obssessions - BHLDN, Holman Ranch & Juliet Garden Roses

If you are a client, friend or an active reader of my BLOG, then you know I have an unhealthy obsession with wedding details, venues and fashion. How can I not? I get to see some of the most stunning venues, work with insanely talented and creative vendors and witness amazing brides walk down the aisle with grace and style. Tough life, right?

Well, here are this week's faves:

Gown: Millie Petal Gown by BHLDN

Millie Petal Gown by BHLDN

The weeks leading up to a client's wedding, I always try and make it a point to go to her last dress fitting. It's important for me to know the dress' mechanics so I can correctly bustle her before her reception and to see her complete style before she walks down the aisle. I like to see her final look before the big day so I can use her as a reference to fine tune any event decor details. After all, the bride is the most important wedding day focal point as she sets the tone and reflects her style throughout the entire event.

I'm already a big fan of all things BHLDN, so when one of my June brides stepped out of the dressing room wearing this Millie Petal frock, I swooned. Seriously, this dress is AMAZING and it fits perfectly for her summer garden wedding. I love the texture of the layered bottom and all the movement it will get in a breeze. With a price tag of $2,500, my bride got to splurge on some gorgeous Louboutin sandals without feeling any gilt at all.

If you haven't heard of BHLDN, check them out and thank me later.

Venue: Holman Ranch

Photo Credit: AJPhotographer

I'm a repeat offender when it comes to planning weddings at Holman Ranch. It's private, it's elegant and doesn't take or need much at all to make it wedding perfect. The venue is incredibly well-run, well kept and offers tremendous value for the overall cost. In my opinion, it's in the top five best places to get married in California.

Holman has sweeping views of the Santa Lucia Highlands, is on top of a mountain, has endless places to host a dinner reception, boasts sweet smelling fragrance gardens and is high-end without being stuffy. The rustic elements and colors of the adobes lend themselves nicely to any color palette and the carriage house is beyond charming.

I had a great time planning a fall wedding at Holman last year and look forward to working with the same amazing team of vendors for my clients from Houston next May.

Oh, and just because it's a ranch, that doesn't mean it hasn't seen it's share of Carolina Herrera, Monique Lhuillier, Vera Wang and Amsale. 

Flowers: David Austin's Juliet Garden Roses

As a wedding planner, I get to see and work with some of the most beautiful flowers Mother Nature produces, but there is only one flower in particular that I stop and smell almost every time I pass by it, the Juliet Antique Garden Rose.

This flower is a stand alone star. Whether it's part of a grand bridal bouquet or standing alone in a mason jar, it's amazing. It comes in various pastel colors and smells heavenly. This is a great outdoor wedding flower as it stands up to heat nicely and adds a special sophistication to any rustic fillers.

Request it on your wedding bouquet, you won't be sorry.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Celebrating The Kentucky Derby in Style

And they're off!! With only minutes left until the start of the country's biggest horse race, also known as the "greatest two minutes in sports", we hope you are watching in the spirit of this great occasion.

Whether you are lucky enough to be at Churchill Downs in Louisville, or in the midst of planning a themed soiree locally, here are some great tips on how to really get into The Kentucky Derby Experience. 

When it comes to horse racing's premier event, the competition isn't limited to the track itself. The Kentucky Derby and its sister event, the Kentucky Oaks, are the only sporting events that are also fashion events. Derby attendees spend as much time and money on their race-day apparel as they do at the betting window -- maybe more!  And Derby fashionistas are in a race to see who can be declared best dressed.

The Kentucky Derby stands for a lot of things — cash, money, hats — but not least among them is the unofficial beginning of seersucker season. Since the man behind heritage brand Haspel  began cranking out the crinkly fabric in New Orleans a century ago, the lightweight style of a particularly Southern gentleman — bright colors, bow ties, hats (straw ones) — has come to redefine how we catch sunshine and a breeze.

Check out these Derby Day Men's essentials:

Suit by Frank Stella

Tie by Ben Silver

Shoes by Ben Silver

Straw Derby Hat by Stetson

Last week it was all about the hats rocked by fabulous British women at the Royal Wedding. This week it's our turn here in the US - ask any Southern Bell.

Check out these Derby Day essentials:

Hat by Marc Jacobs

Dress by Eliza J

Shoes by Pencey

Check out some of these great hats from Kentucky Derby attendees:

The Official Kentucky Derby Drink - The Mint Julep
It's not a Kentucky Derby party without this traditional spirit. The Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. Early Times Kentucky Whisky has been privileged and honored to be a part of that tradition. The Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail has been "The Official Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby" for more than 18 years.


2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Sprigs of fresh mint
Crushed ice
Early Times Kentucky Whisky
Silver Julep Cups

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Have a great time!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Selecting a Summer Wedding Signature Cocktail

This past weekend I met with one of my June brides to put the final touches on her decor and talk logistics during our one-month-out planning review. I just have to say first off that I absolutely adore this bride - she's a total stunner with a fabulous style and is as sweet as sugar - you know, a prototypical wedding planner's dream. As a fashion stylist in Los Angeles, her vision and sense of color are fantastic and my team is super excited to pull it all together for her big day.

One of the final touches that we discussed was what to design for her Signature Cocktail. Since she loves the feeling of Hollywood glamor but her personality is bubbly and down-to-earth, it only fits that we would create one using champagne. Since her wedding is at the beginning of summer where the weather will be warm, we wanted to create something refreshing yet seasonal for her guests to enjoy. We decided to create a delicious sparkling cocktail using Blood Orange juice, sparkling wine and Mint. It's got glamorous effervescence from the bubbles, it boasts a gorgeous red edge from the Blood Orange juice and the essence of refreshing Mint. It's beautiful to look at, tastes delicious, feels glamorous and smells amazing - all bases covered. Check!

Signature Cocktails Are Important to Your Theme & Wedding Style
Though it doesn't seem like a big deal, it definitely is. A Signature Cocktail is an important component to your event theme because it's always a topic of conversation during the cocktail hour. It's about presentation, personal style and aesthetic - how can it not be important?

Signature Cocktail Misconceptions 
For some reason there is a misconception that if you aren't hosting a full-bar, you can't have a Signature Cocktail. So not the case! I always advise my couples who aren't hosting a full-service bar to create a Signature Cocktail using Champagne or wine as the base. That way if the cocktail does require a flavored liquor, it's not much more than 1/2 an ounce (splash) per serving so the small splurge won't break the bank.

If you are getting married in the summer months at an outdoor venue, more than likely your guests would prefer to drink something refreshing over something potent and strong. Try incorporating fruit from local farmers from the area to keep it delicious and seasonal.

Remember, Signature Cocktails are all about presentation so don't forget about adding great details such as custom stirrers, edible flowers and delicious garnishes.

Check out some of these great custom drink accessories on

Things to Think About When Designing Your Signature Cocktail
  • Color
  • Taste
  • Scent
  • Presentation
  • Name

Earlier this week I asked Martha Stewart Weddings via Twitter what this summer's hottest summer time cocktails were. Here are what they are loving this summer:

Blackberry Gin Fiz
With a burst of bright berry puree and just a tickle of effervescence, this warm-weather quencher -- a bold update on the old-fashioned gin fizz -- lets guests drink in the essence of summer.

12 ounces blackberries, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 ounces gin
15 mint leaves, torn, plus sprigs for garnish
1 1/2 cups seltzer
(Serves 6)

Put 1/3 cup puree, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 ounces gin, and 1/3 of the torn mint leaves into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake until cold. Pour into two 8-ounce glasses, and add 1/4 cup seltzer to each. Repeat twice. Garnish with berries and mint sprigs.

Electric Watermelon Lemonade 
A refreshing and cooling twist on lemonade. This recipe for watermelon lemonade is sure to be a crowd pleaser and is perfect to serve at a wedding during the summer months.

2 lemons, quartered
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 medium seedless watermelon (about 9 pounds), rind removed, flesh cut into chunks
1 cup vodka 
(Serves 6)

Squeeze lemons into a large pitcher; add squeezed lemon quarters. Add mint and sugar; mash with a wooden spoon until mint is bruised and sugar is dissolved. In a blender, puree watermelon in batches until smooth; pour through a fine-mesh sieve into pitcher (you should have about 8 cups of juice). Stir to combine. (Refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days.) Add vodka, serve over ice

Cucumber-Mint Gimlet
Serve the ultimate country-club libation: gimlets. Swap out vodka and Rose's lime juice for cucumber gin, fresh lime, and simple syrup tinged with mint.

4 1/2 cups Cucumber Gin (or 2 oz.), how-to follows
2 1/4 cups fresh lime juice (or 1 oz.)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Mint Simple Syrup (or 1/2 oz.), how-to follows
Cucumber peels, for garnish
Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
(serves 6)

In a 2-quart pitcher, stir gin, lime juice, and syrup. Refrigerate. To serve, pour into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and divide among ice-filled 10-ounce glasses. (For a single drink, mix in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake.) Garnish each with cucumber peel and mint.

Lavender Champagne
I adore this simple, yet beautiful cocktail using a sprig of fresh lavender as a garnish. Remember, use organic fresh sprigs for this drink.
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon dried lavender
4 bottles (750 mL) dry Champagne or sparkling wine chilled
Fresh lavender sprigs, for garnish
(Serves 16)

Bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in dried lavender. Remove from heat. Let cool completely. Strain out lavender. Refrigerate syrup until ready to serve (up to 1 month).

Pour about 6 ounces Champagne and 1 1/2 teaspoons syrup into each flute. Garnish each with a lavender sprig

It's all about the small and beautiful details, don't forget to create something that reflects your style, taste and venue.

Enjoy and happy planning!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Favorite Royal Wedding Moments

You have to hand it to the British Royals, no one does "pomp and circumstance" like they do and this week's nuptials of their Prince and newly appointment Princess was no exception. The fashion, the formality and the revealing of "the dress" had two thirds of this planet glued to their television sets to see it in all it's glory. In my opinion, it was everything I thought it would be.

Here are my favorite moments for this extravagant affair. Enjoy!