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Host a Tea Party-Themed Bridal Shower

afternoon-delight
Photo credit: Elegant Affairs

Andrea Correale, celebrity caterer and president and founder of of Elegant Affairs, gives us the inside scoop.

When planning a tea party, what’s the vibe to strive for?

"These affairs are feminine and elegant, with a fun, girly element. Picture an English tea, with beautiful teacups and scones and pastel colors. Very proper and dainty. Set the tone with your invitations: Choose a formal, feminine font on heavy paper."

What should you serve?

"The great thing is that tea foods won’t break your budget. You’ll want to feature light, delicate fare and a selection of desserts. Often, I suggest that the girls and the mother of the bride try their hands at making tea sandwiches — of course you don’t have to do that if you don’t want! Think cucumber sandwiches, for example. You take thin-sliced cucumbers (seeds removed) and arrange on pressed bread with a little butter. A favorite cost-effective idea: deviled eggs. Yes, just the way they served them at cocktail parties in the 1950s."

You can also do deviled eggs in a salad; spice them up with gorgonzola and bacon or go southwestern with diced onion or chipotle. Carry the theme through with chocolate-accented cookies shaped like tea bags for a festive finish (see recipe, below).

And the "proper" beverages to serve?

"Hot teas, of course, as well as chilled lavender or chamomile teas. A bellini cocktail made with peach nectar and prosecco (less expensive than champagne) is wonderful. I also like a traditional kir royale, made with prosecco and raspberry liqueur, topped with a fresh raspberry. Put out sugar cubes, not regular sugar, and rock candy sticks to use as stirrers."

Must tea parties be small? And what time of day is best?

"You can have groups of 50 to 100 people, or you can keep your shower very intimate. For a larger crowd, do a fabulous tea buffet on a dining room table. Use three-tier tea stands on which you can arrange your sandwiches and pastries. Traditionally, tea is served at 4 p.m., but noon or 1 p.m. is just as good."

What about décor?

"If your mom has a silver tea set, go for it! Or maybe someone has crystal goblets or a cake stand you can borrow. Use a nice linen or a lace or floral design for a tablecloth — nothing that looks contemporary. Tie each napkin with a beautiful ribbon bow. For centerpieces, fill antique-style teapots or teacups with one type of flower (a few pink or white tea roses, for example). For single use, silver-plated is an inexpensive option. Another affordable idea is to go to an event rental company for vintage-style three-tier stands and dishes (plastic or paper are fine) for an appropriately old-world effect."

What about favors?

"Small individual boxes with a variety of teas, or little potted plants in teacups, are perfect. The ladies will love them!" 

Another idea: Make these adorable tea bag cookies ►

Time Crunch: How to (Quickly!) Plan a Wedding

Although many brides and grooms take up to a year and a half to organize their weddings, other couples want to make it snappy. "I'm getting more calls from brides who would like to get married in a couple of months," says event planner Julie Pryor of Pryor Events in Los Angeles. 

There are plenty of reasons for having a wedding in a hurry-from a job change or military deployment to just plain eagerness to tie the knot. Here, some pros' tips to ensure that even with fast-and-furious planning, your wedding goes off without a hitch.

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1. Make the first month count. 
Wedding timelines usually start a year before the big day. So what’s a bride to do when she’s just six months out (or less)? "First, set your budget and make all your major decisions and purchases," recommends Christine Paul of Christine Paul Events in New York City.

"That means booking your ceremony and reception sites, purchasing or ordering your gown and the bridesmaids' dresses, hiring a photographer and deciding on the honeymoon."

You'll also want to sit down with your fiancé and set your priorities. For example, your top three might be great jazz music, authentic Italian food and a first-rate photographer. "Once you’ve done all that, you’ll be right on track with brides who’ve been at it for months," says Paul.

Tip: Enlist the help of your friends. Give them jobs they'll feel comfortable doing, like managing the RSVP list. You'll be glad you did.

2. Be flexible and creative. 
You may find that some of your first choices aren’t available. For example, many popular wedding locations are reserved a year in advance. So learn to be flexible; a fabulous venue could be a place you haven’t yet imagined. "Instead of the more obvious choices, perhaps a friend has a beautiful beach house, or you could get married in a local park," says Paul.

Open your mind to different dates and times as well. Sometimes it’s much easier to find and secure a place for a Friday or Sunday — or earlier in the day. The better able you are to come up with creative alternatives, the happier you’ll be with the end result.

3. Ask for help. 
Event planners may be hired to do the entire wedding, or simply to handle a few tasks you can’t fit in or even just to manage things on the big day itself. Researching vendors to learn who’s right for the job is time consuming, and a good wedding planner with a network of reliable vendors can figure out the logistics quickly and easily.

4. Enjoy yourself!
Remember to take time to soak it all in. Sure, you’ll be in a hurry, but taste-testing dishes and listening to bands is still fun. Luckily, you’re already on top of this. "Brides who’ve gotten their weddings together in six months or less have told me they actually enjoyed the process," says Paul. "They had less time to stress out and found the preparations surprisingly exciting."

5. But will it cost more? 
In many cases, you’ll receive the same treatment — and fees — as any other bride. In other words, giving shorter notice to vendors and other service providers doesn’t mean you’ll be getting a higher fee. And, says Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event in Chicago, "Don’t assume you should refrain from negotiating prices just because you’re on a short timetable. Negotiate whenever and wherever it seems reasonable."

Although there shouldn’t be rush fees for booking your venue, your band, your florist or most other vendors, Lilly notes, "You can expect to pay extra for hurrying your and your bridesmaids’ gowns and maybe the invitations or favors." So try to make quick, smart decisions. You really don’t have time to be fickle about the colors of your bridesmaids’ dresses or about whether to have roses or white orchids for your bouquet. Chances are, you won’t regret your choices — especially when you find you’ve eliminated costly "rush" fees.

Photo Credit: Mango Studios

How to Choose Your Wedding Colors

By: 
David Tutera

Ever since you announced your engagement, you’ve probably been repeatedly asked this question: "What is your wedding color scheme?" It is important, and it’s also one of the first questions I ask when I meet a bride. 

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Photo Credit: Marring Visuals

Color is actually an extension of you, as a bride, and the hues you choose will affect everything — from the ink and paper choices of your invitations to your bridesmaids' dresses to your bouquets and floral centerpieces to your tablecloths, your specialty cocktails and even your favors. And oh, yes, the cake!

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Photo Credit: Marring Visuals

OMG! This is a huge decision. So let’s step back a minute and think about color in everyday life. Color can create a mood and affect the energy of a space. When you paint a room in your home, the choice of color will evoke a feeling. Yellow is happy and exciting, and it makes me think of the morning sun, so I love it for a kitchen. Red is associated with passion and adventure, while blue is calming and peaceful. In my home everything is splashed with color — from a red kitchen to a purple bedroom, and everything in between. For some people that may be too much, but for me different colors create different experiences — and isn’t that what life is all about?

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Photo Credit: Marring Visuals

So color is a very personal choice, but when I ask brides about their color schemes, most tell me that they want all white or shades of pink. Now these are safe, but less daring than I’d like. My advice is, add personality — your personality — by choosing a splash of color. Together, consider your favorite colors as well as your season and style.

What do certain colors mean to each of you? (The pink of the peonies in your mom’s spring garden? The blue of the summer sky at the beach?) Now purchase inexpensive paints, brushes and paper and start splattering. Be a little crazy, a little Jackson Pollock! Or pick up paint chips at your local home improvement store, and play with different combinations. You might be surprised by what you both like.

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Photo Credit: Marring Visuals

Shades of the Seasons
I try to avoid color schemes that are too predictable. For example, a fall wedding that’s orange and brown makes me think of Halloween and pumpkins. "Harvest" colors are too clichéd; you don’t want your wedding to be too "themey." Instead, consider taupe or burgundy with copper and a hint of lavender. Fall is perfect for being fashion forward with unique colors.

Spring: Spring colors are usually all about pastels, but change it up a bit by adding deep splashes of plum or coral.

Summer: Go for bold yellows, purples, reds and blues. Or select different shades of a color: Coral, salmon and a deep burnt orange would be stunning.

Winter: All-white is gorgeous, but add a splash of lavender for warmth. Or go for a metallic, like pewter, silver, copper, bronze or gold, for depth and richness.

Your wedding is a blank canvas just waiting for you to paint it in your special colors. Have fun creating a masterpiece!