Friday, November 27, 2009

Top 10 Alternative Entertainment Ideas for Your Event

Who says the entertainment for your event could only be a DJ or a Band? Here's my top ten "out of the box" ideas for entertainment at your next event.

  1. A Comedian or Comedy Troupe: I've been to several events in New York where part of the entertainment was a stand-up comic. One thing that's nice is depending on the comic, you can prepare them with material prior to the event. This is great especially for a surprise birthday or something if you want to "roast" the honoree (granted they are the type of person who would appreciate it).

  2. Acrobats: Depending on your budget and where you are located, a Cirque du Soleil inspired performance may be an option. Acrobats can perform in a variety of venues and can range from hand balancers, silk trapeze, jugglers, and more. Acrobatic performances are ones your guests are sure to soon not forget.

  3. Dancers: Professional Ballroom dancers or ethnic dance troupes make for an interesting evening. Better yet, get your guests involved with a dance demonstration and then a lesson at the event.

  4. An Impersonator: I have seen some phenomenal impersonators at events. One of the best I've seen wasn't an impersonator per se, but a singer who sang all Frank Sinatra and sounded exactly like him.

  5. Bands with a "Schtick": I personally am not a big fan of bands and usually prefer DJ's. When I worked in a catering hall a while back, one of the best bands I've ever seen perform, and at a wedding at that was a band fronted by a drag queen who impersonated all the great Diva's better than any woman could. She was amazing! Band's with a "schtick" are always ones your guests will remember as opposed to the same old band everyone gets for their event. Cover and Tribute bands are also crowd pleasers.

  6. A Palm Reader: Palm readings are one of those things that everyone loves but won't admit it and won't pay for it themselves. Why not treat your guests to a glimpse into their future?

  7. A Caricature Artist: Send your guests home with a personalized gift!

  8. A Magician- Magician's aren't just for children's parties. Liven up dinner hour with some table side card tricks.

  9. Mind Reader/Mentalist/Hypnotist- Hire a mentalist to read your guests minds or hypnotize them. Makes for interesting dinner conversation afterwards.

  10. Dueling Pianos- Have music and guest interaction with this option.

What was the most memorable entertainment you've ever experienced at an event?

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    The Easiest Way to Assemble Your Own Invites

    Guess what? Assembling your own invitations does not mean hours and hours spent gluing layers of paper together and waiting for it to dry. Many party hosts don't consider that the best materials for assembling and creating your invitations are readily available at your local craft store... in the scrap booking section!

    Here are some of the items I suggest and how to use them:

    Dot/Tape Adhesive
    I prefer HERMA Dotto Adhesive but there are tons of dot/tape adhesives out there that all work great. This adhesive works well to not only adhere paper to paper, but it also works well if creating ribbon belly bands, since it will allow your guests to remove and reattach the belly band easily.


    Curvy Cutter Cutting Tool
    If you like the look of rounded corners, a simple tool like this could do the job for you. And being it costs a little over $10, makes it very DIY and budget friendly.


    Decorative Punches
    Most craft store scrap booking departments are chock-full of decorative punches. You can either punch out items to then adhere to your invitations as a 3D element, or you could punch out designs on your invitations for an added design element. The latter would look exceptionally cool on a layered invitation.


    Guillotine Paper Cutters
    Did you know you can save money on your DIY invitations buy purchasing card stock in 8.5"x11" sheets, printing two invitations a sheet and cutting then down to size? Guillotine style paper cutters make it really easy to do this at home.


    Monday, November 23, 2009

    A Bouquet/Garter Toss Alternative

    The bouquet toss way back when must have started off as an innocent tradition. The bride tossed her bouquet to all the single ladies at her big event, and hopefully the girl caught it would be the next single lady to get a ring on it. Totally harmless and cute.

    I don't know where from there the whole garter toss thing came into fruition. The whole idea reminds me of an idea a bunch of guys came up with while drunk at a bachelor party. "Hey, it's not fair she gets to toss something... let's figure out something we can toss!". And the best they could come up with (because of their dirty, intoxicated minds) was to take the garter off the bride and toss it. Did anyone ever think what the father of the bride would think about it? Never mind the FOB is usually trying to get over the fact his little girl is now all grown up, now he has his new son-in-law reaching his hand up her dress in front of all their family and friends to remove the garter and toss it to a bunch of men. Eeek!

    Fast forward to around when my wedding was. I knew, no matter what I wanted nothing to do with the garter toss. After working in catering for so many years I've seen it go bad way more often than go well. Not to say I didn't trust my husband would do it tastefully, it does overall kind of bring out the worst in men in attendance at weddings (i.e. hooting and hollering, etc).

    What really surprised me though was when my bridesmaids came to me and asked me not to include the bouquet toss.

    Why would they ask me that? I personally had no aversion to the bouquet toss, though at weddings I usually would never participate myself. After they explained it to me it all made sense. What single woman would want to be publicly singled out and paraded in front of a large group of people who would then know they were single? Especially in this day and age where it's well known how hard it is for working professional women to find a man in NYC (hello Sex and the City!). It's like an announcement to everyone that they've failed at relationships to date and therefore their last hope is to catch the bouquet and meet their perfect mate! Yuck!

    So my challenge then was to try to come up with a solution to still maintain the tradition of giving away my bouquet without putting my girls on the spot. What I decided to do instead was an Anniversary Dance.

    All the married couples are invited to the dance floor to dance to a song of your choice (mind was "In My Life" by the Beatles). Then little by little, the DJ asks how long the couples have been married (5 years, 10 years, 15 years, etc) and those couples leave the dance floor. The last couple standing who has been married the longest would then get the bouquet.

    I loved this idea because instead of honoring future marriages (which may or may not happen for that bridesmaid, LOL) it instead honored a long standing marriage, which my husband and I of course imagine for ourselves. I also liked how this honored marriage as a whole, and wasn't a boy vs. girl thing as the bouquet/garter toss often implies.

    What are your thoughts on the bouquet/garter toss?

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    What We're Bringing for Thanksgiving

    My husband and I this year are visiting his mother in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving. Being my family is based out of New York and I see them all the time, I especially love being able to visit my husband's family when we can for the holidays since he doesn't often get to see them. Also since Philly isn't a very long drive from Brooklyn, only about 2 hours, it makes for a nice long weekend vacation.

    Last year we visited my mother-in-law as well, and I cooked the entire Thanksgiving dinner (my first!). This year we decided to split up the work a bit and instead my mother-in-law is handling the turkey, and my husband and I handling all the side dishes.

    I really want to avoid having to cook anything the day of, being we all know there's only room for one cook in any kitchen. So my goal is to create my menu around all make-in-advance recipes that can all be warmed up in an oven at the same temperature. Also, I want everything to be relatively healthy as well as delicious.

    All the below receipes are currently in the running. Not sure which we'll bring but they all look delicious!

    Zesty Broccoli Casserole via Cooking Light

    Sourdough Stuffing with Pears and Sausage via Cooking Light

    Are you currently hosting Thanksgiving? What are you making this year? I love to share good recipes so feel free to send some my way!

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Tips to Organize Online Recipes

    I created a system recently that works really well for me for organizing and planning meals. I've been so excited about it, I just had to share it!

    Like many folks, instead of clipping recipes out of magazines or looking them up in cookbooks, I've recently instead utilized the Internet to find new ones to try out. Though I loved the limitless number of recipes you can find on the Internet, I found it difficult to organize the tons of printouts I would make of these recipes. I'd always have to go back to searching the Internet to find a recipe I like who's print out I had misplaced.

    Enter Evernote. Evernote is a fantastic, free online service that allows you to easily "clip" and store items of interest you find anywhere. So you can take a cell phone photo of something you like and upload it to Evernote. You could also upload voice notes (via your phone) or highlight items of interest from the Internet and using a bookmark tool have them uploaded to your Evernote account.
    When viewing your "notes" in Evernote, you can then search, tag and organize them. This has worked great for me because I can now easily tag my recipes. Some tags I might use include:
    • QUICK (I like meals that take 30 minutes or less to prepare)
    • and whatever else makes sense to use as a tag.
    Using this tag system makes planning meals a breeze now. I've been making a conscious effort shop more from my pantry in efforts to cut down my grocery bills and use up everything I stock up on at Costco (yes, we do have Costco's in NYC). So if I see in my pantry I have a ton of pasta and some garbanzo beans, i can now do a search in Evernote for those tags to find recipes I've stored that I've wanted to try that use those ingredients. Then I only have to buy a few small items to complete the recipe.
    Evernote also has smart phone applications. I've recently been using the iPhone application. This makes it really easy to access the recipe without having to either print it out or lug my laptop into the kitchen. Also, let's say my husband gets home from work before me and wants to start dinner for us (isn't my husband a sweetie?!), I can easily email him the recipe from the Evernote iPhone app so he can get a head start on it.
    My hubby and I are huge foodies and like to cook and find new recipes ourselves, and this system has been working really well for us. How do you plan your meals?

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Invite Couture on Elegance and Simplicity

    During Bridal Fashion Week in NYC at the Get Married Magazine Launch Party I had the pleasure of meeting Katie Martin of Elegance and Simplicity Wedding & Event Designers. Elegance and Simplicity is an event planning company with a green, ec0-friendly focus based out of Washington DC.

    Katie was nice enough to do a feature of Invite Couture on her Elegance and Simplicity blog. You can check out the article here.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Whimsical Custom Note Card Stationery

    When most folks think of what stationery they'll need for their big event, the first thing that comes to mind is invitations. So when a previous client contacted me that she was interested in creating some additional thank you cards to send out after her 50th birthday party, I was so impressed she was not only thinking that far ahead, but would consider having a custom note card made as opposed to buying a generic pack at a local pharmacy or what not.

    After a quick phone consultation, we both determined she'd most likely get more use out of personal stationery note cards. That way she can use them for both personal and business correspondence as well as thank you notes.

    The design I created for her mirrored a lot of similar elements from her birthday invitations (which were the Fall Inspired ones here). She wanted something fun and not too serious. My favorite part about this design is how the design carries from the back to the front of the note card.

    Do you have personal stationery? If so what do you use them for?

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    My Own Gatsby Inspired Wedding

    I've been meaning to post photos from my very own wedding for the past year. When it's your own wedding it's so hard to try to edit down the photos, you just want to include them all! I've finally edited down my photos to what I thought were a reasonable amount so here it finally is!

    I was married at Oheka Castle in Huntington, Long Island on the most beautiful, picture perfect day on October 4th 2008. Oheka Castle is the 2nd largest (originally) private home in the U.S., ranked behind the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. It's a classic, Gold Coast home whose owner was the inspiration in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby". For my husband and I, we love NYC area architecture and history and we wanted to choose a venue that reflected what we love about NYC art deco style. Being a 1920's mansion, we felt Oheka was the perfect place to hold our big event.

    In the event you've seen the WE Channel special "Unforgettable Wedding Venues", Oheka was ranked number one, and my wedding is the one featured on the show. It was a pleasure to be a bride planning a wedding and be featured on the WE Channel without having to be a Bridezilla (haha). You can see me and my husband being interviewed at the end of the video clip below.

    The wedding was a wonderful, yet laborious process. I did not have a wedding planner, so my mother (a VERY talented interior designer) and myself handled planning my wedding for 300 guests ourselves. Every single detailed I dreamed of and imagined for my wedding we created by hand. For example, I sketched out a centerpiece idea I had where I wanted to create a tall centerpiece where the top resembled a crystal chandelier, and a 1920's inspired palm arrangement was nestled inside the chandelier. My mother located these great garden planters which we then spray painted gold and hand beaded the top to create exactly what my sketch looked like. Each centerpiece took us around 6-8 hours each to make, so we were both happy once we had them all completed!

    I also personally designed my own wedding cake. I created yet another sketch to provide our pastry chef who executed my vision beautifully! The cake features the same design elements as the invitations I had designed for the wedding, which has now become a signature design for my invitation design company Invite Couture.

    We also wanted our wedding to be one our guests never forgot, so we were sure to include lots of unique activities to keep the evening exciting. Our guest book featured a photo booth where our guests to take photos, insert them in our guest book and write us a message. During dinner, we kept the guests entertained with a cirque du soleil inspired hand balancing performance. We also ended the evening with White Castle's (NOTHING is better after an evening of drinking!), cigars and karaoke. Overall it was an amazing day and one our guests are still talking about even a year later!

    What was my favorite moment of the day? It was standing on the alter/stage with my husband, holding hands and reciting our vows to each other. The weather was beautiful, the setting even more gorgeous and there I was standing with the man I love in front of all our friends and family, professing our love to each other.

    What was your favorite moment of your wedding? Or if you haven't gotten married just yet, what was is your favorite part of the planning process?

    All photos by Silk Studio Weddings.

    My Wedding Vendors:

    Invitations: Designed Myself (now Invite Couture)
    Priscilla of Boston
    Bridesmaids Dresses:
    Priscilla of Boston
    Floral Design:
    Fleur de Florissima
    Silk Studio Weddings
    Event Production and Entertainment (Props, Musicians and DJ):

    Friday, November 6, 2009

    Dietary Restrictions and Event Menu Planning

    With all the friends and family we all have, many of us do not get the opportunity to dine with everyone at any given time. When planning an event, especially when you are allowing your guests to bring a guest, it's important to consider people's dietary restrictions when planning the menu.

    One item that is often overlooked is a vegetarian menu item. Considering there are almost 4.7 million adult vegetarians residing within the U.S., there's bound to be a few you were not even aware were vegetarians attending your event. Speaking to your caterer to be sure they offer an off-menu, by request option will be appreciated by guests. The fact they have an option besides side dishes they can dine on makes a great impression as many events they attend will not have this consideration.

    Vegetarian guests will often not bother to notify you of their dietary preference mostly out of politeness as to not be a hindrance to the host of the event. For guests who have severe allergies (nuts, gluten, soy, etc.) they if attending will more than likely contact you in advance to let you know what they are allergic to, or will be sure to ask waiters, etc. to ask the chef about what items they can safely eat. In either case it's a good subject to broach with your caterer in advance as to what items are available for guests with allergies or what their policy is so you are prepared in advance. With food allergies being so prevalent nowadays it's better to be safe than run the risk of having a guest hospitalized later.

    Have you ever been to an event where the host has taken dietary restrictions in account? If so was it something you appreciated or didn't feel was necessary?

    Wednesday, November 4, 2009

    What Determines Stationery Costs? Part 4: Design Method

    In the final part of my four part series, I'll discuss how your invitation design factors into the cost of your overall invitations.

    In general there are two different ways you can purchase invitations.

    First would be to purchase from a studio, designer or stationery shop a pre-made design of which you have your own information inserted into it. For example, if you go to a local wedding shop they might have catalogs of invitation samples in which you can choose a design you like. This will always be less expensive because most of the work (i.e. the main components of the design, which is the most time consuming) is already completed. All that's left is inserting your info and producing the invitations for you. These invitation designs are usually purchased in a pre-fixe manner. For example, each invitation costs $3/ea so 100 invitations would run you $300.00

    Custom invitation design would be your second option and will always come at a higher cost. Using this option, the design is completely customized to your own needs and standards. So with this in mind, many hours go into creating this design for you from scratch, hence the higher cost. Depending on how the designer works, they may offer pre-fixe pricing or may charge a separate design fee aside from the cost of production. All designers work differently so check with designers you like for a pricing information or a price quote.

    Hopefully this four part series was helpful to learning what cost factors impact the price you are quoted on your event invitations and stationery. Don't forget no matter what your stationery budget may be, there are always creative ways to create exactly what you are looking for by simply prioritizing which of these four elements are most important to you and working from there.

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    Spooky-Elegant Halloween Party Invites

    One of my best friends decided to throw a Halloween Party at the Norwood Club in New York City, and contacted me to create her invitations for her. One thing that excited me designing these is it was one of the first parties besides my own wedding that I'd actually get to attend the party I'm designing the invitations for. Yay!

    Mariana has a fantastic sense of style, especially when it comes to fashion. So it was really important to me to create invitations that I felt suited and reflected her and her sense of style as well as the venue (which is pretty ritzy). Also being they were for a Halloween party, I wanted to be sure they were still sort of quirky and spooky at the time. My favorite elements of these invitations was the torn edge black backer and the great handwritten script font used to highlight the important details.

    What were you for Halloween? I love hearing people's creative Halloween costume ideas, so be sure to leave a comment!

    Blog Widget by LinkWithin