Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gentry Gala Pics Continued

More pics

Gentry Gala

In conjunction with La Honda Winery, Silver Creek Country Club, Hunt Littlefield Floral Design, and Marlowe Berglund Events, we presented a wine tasting dinner last night at the Gentry Gala at the Sheraton in Palo Alto.  The event was well attended by over 600 people.  Our table looked awesome and we raised some great money for local Peninsula Charities with our presentation of a Winemaker dinner.  

Thanks for all those that helped make this possible.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Silverado Country Club

I went to a networking event last night at the Silverado Country Club in Napa.  I hadn't been there in quite some time.  It is really an awesome and unique venue for Napa, with the grove setting under heritage oaks with a patio reception illuminated with paper lanterns.  Truly gorgeous.  Site fee is a bit steep, but it is made up for with really great menu prices.... Making this a very reasonable Napa Valley site.  Plus they have capacity for parties over 300 making it an even rarer gem.  Check out the pics.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mod and Retro Cake Design

I met Krista from Sugarcoat it Studios at an ISES event last fall. I was lucky enough to see her work in the flesh a few weeks ago and taste her delicious work and I want to pass on her information. She works mostly in fondant and produces mid-century, retro, and modern design cakes that are amazing to look at and taste wonderful.

If you have a uniquely modern style you should definitely visit her and see her work.

Monday, February 9, 2009

On Vacay

The Alchemist Bride will be offline until the end of February.  Enjoy the rest of the month!

Shower Etiquette

I feel that in this modern world, sometimes we need to remind ourselves of what social etiquette is all about.  Most of it is based on solid ethical ideas about what is right and wrong and what is just plain tacky.

Bridal Showers-
Bridal showers should NEVER be thrown by members of the bride or grooms immediate family.

REASON- a member of the immediate family throwing a shower is tantamount to your brother asking for gifts for you, or your mother telling your friends to give you stuff.

an immediate family member may provide the location or funds to support the shower but should not be the formal host of the event.

HOSTS- invitations should always clearly state who the host of the event is at the top of the invitation, another person may be the recipient of the RSVP.

NEVER! place where you are registered on the invitation
NEVER! insert those cards they give you telling people where you are registered

is on your website or provided to people RSVP'ing to an event by phone or email upon their request.....

NEVER- have a shower with gifts of a different nature presented to you.  i.e. if you are getting married and having a bridal shower the only acceptable registries are those of a honeymoon, domestic, or lingerie nature.  If you plan to have kids soon you can' t ask for kids stuff.  That is what a baby shower is for once you are actually pregnant.  You cannot ask for stuff to pay off your student loan debts.  You should not ask that people pay their way to the wedding by buying items for the wedding itself.

More than one shower is acceptable if thrown by different groups, etc.

Bridal party members of the same sex regardless of the side of the aisle they are on and regardless of their ability to attend must receive invitations to EVERY shower.  Also parents and grandparents again regardless of their ability to attend should also be invited to EVERY shower.

Statements that no gifts are to be received are appropriate where requested on an invitation.  Offers of charity donation in lieu of gifts are marginally acceptable on invitations, but should really be placed on a website instead. 


Yes really, this is the rule.  Same as above, immediate family cannot host the shower and regardless of what sex child you have first last or anywhere in between, it is only appropriate to have one baby shower.  O.k. I mean one baby shower per friend group and only for the first child.
Reasoning- if everyone had a shower for every kid it would be ridiculous.  Showers help you get established with the basics, these are functional regardless of the sex of the child, enough friends without you asking them will provide you with opposite sex gifts if you have a second child of differing gender.

Invitations to showers etc. should really be on paper by formal invitation.  I know, it is the modern era and email rocks, so does saving paper and stamps.  However, this occasion occurs rather infrequently so it is worth paying a few bucks and making formal paper invitations if you can.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Award Dresses- and inspiration for gowns

Most of us can't afford a truly custom designed gown, but we can take inspiration from the designer gowns worn during awards season.

This year we have seen lots of interesting necklines on dresses and I think this trend is definitely transitioning into bridal.

So fashion forward brides, look at one shoulder, one shoulder on, off the shoulder, and other more unusual necklines. Necklines that are asymmetrical are surprisingly flattering on most people with the exception of women with very large chests which lead to them spilling out the sides.

Check out Anne Hathaway's gown in Bride Wars for an awesome neckline,
also note Christina Applegate's SAG Gown, Evan Rachel Wood's SAG Gown

See link for photo slide show.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Target Alert- Visual Design Elements

Target has their Design Studio items currently heading out the door in the seasonal section of your local Target.
In the design section they have some great items for event decor.
Check them out!

A great idea is that they have large wall murals and wall paper that are very chic, graphic, and modern. Placing these large murals at your event on walls, or use them as screens to create more intimate spaces.

You can use the wallpaper as table runners, place mats, or as screens hanging from the ceiling, draped, or on basic frames that you can make out of 1x2 inch molding and assemble on site with relative ease. The wall paper is running around 20 dollars a roll which is a screaming deal. Check out your local store though, they have much more than is available online.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Letterpress invitations make a statement

Letterpress for those of you who don't know is actually one of the oldest types of printmaking. Back in the day people would hand scrape lettering on metal or wood blocks, ink the blocks, and press them into paper under pressure in a "press" hence- letterpress. The image yields a highly textured bold print technique that has been seeing a resurgence in popularity for the past 10 years or so. Letterpress is for the most part still a cottage craft run by smaller local print shops. The process has changed so that now high grade plastic press sheets are often molded by machine instead of the hand scraping, and it makes the process significantly more time efficient, and over the years it has come down in price some. Letterpress however remains the most expensive in general of the paper invitation types.
In addition to the labor intensive and highly custom nature of making the plates, the paper remains hand pressed, each by hand (generally) and in addition, letterpress is produced on a higher grade thicker paper stock which is also more costly.
The results however are spectacular. While I often comment that the additional cost will not yield the wow result for everyone, if you are picky about paper invitations, letterpress should definitely fit into your consideration.
Note however that the nature of letterpress is such that highly detailed multi-tonal prints are not available, feasible, or appropriate for the letterpress process, much like screen printing, minimal color changes make the pressing process much more economical. In fact most invitations are a single or two tone process, as each color requires the creation of a separate plate.

I want to draw your attention to a few local (SF Bay Area) presses that are producing excellent commercial and custom products at reasonable prices:

1. Hello Lucky!

2. Milkfed Press

3. Sky of Blue Design

Good luck!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Modern Trends in Floral- Clumps

The newest trend in floral is a modern take on zen and Asian inspired floral themes.

The floral material is arranged by type, arranged into groups and then placed into a mixed container which displays impactful texture, color, and style.

This isn't for everyone, but if you like fashion forward, modern, and bold floral statements consider this look.

Check out.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dress Fit and Finish- very important

Dresses should be tailored properly to your body. A well tailored dress either for the bride, the mother of the bride, celebrant or attendee, a good fit makes everyone look thinner, more shapely, and much better in pictures. Here are a few tips to tell if your dress fits you right.

1. Strapless height-
Everyone has a different breast shape, size, placement, and height. Strapless dresses still constitute a statistical majority of all bridal gown sales. Just because the seamstress says the dress should fit a certain way does not mean that it should fit YOU that way. Here are some tips.
a. comfort- if you aren't comfortable with the height, hit, and cut of the strapless line, ask that it be altered, you should adjust, shift or ask that extra material such as a detail strap be placed in the area of concern.
b. shapeliness- many peoples breasts topple under or over strapless dresses. If the dress is too large in the top it should not be adjusted just at the sides (which is the easiest and hence most common approach). The dress should be taken in at the front seams as well to accommodate a smaller bust. Similarly large busted girls should order a dress a size larger than you normally would. Then take the center over the bust seams and contour them appropriately over your bust taking it in at the top of the bust so that the dress cups the breast rather than causes it to spill and prop over the gown.
This may alter how the dress sits on your waist, but again a good seamstress should be able to make these modifications.
Please note that I highly recommend that if you have a disproportionately large bust that you try and find a gown that makes dresses in cup sizes, see Augusta Jones, for a moderately priced range of exceptionally crafted gowns ($2000-$4000)

2. Waist- The waist of your gown should be fitted so that you are snug when standing and even snugger sitting, but never too loose. Loose waists begin to stretch and pooch after some wearing, creating an appearance of waist fat on even the thinnest woman.

3. Hem- a properly hemmed dress should be adjusted to your shoe height and your interest in showing your feet. Regardless, a dress should never puddle on the ground nor sweep the ground in the front to avoid stepping on the gown.

Those are my best tips for dress fit.... Make sure you find a good alterations specialist, and make sure that you have good communication with them, many alterations can be made to a gown and they will turn an average dress into extraordinary.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pearls are the hot jewelry for bridal 2009

Pearls go in and out of fashion in general (some may disagree) but in bridal they generally have a consistent following.
However this year... the trend is definitely towards pearls.... Diamond sparkle will always hold a place in my heart but larger pearl jewelry pieces are definitely making a statement in bridal.

1. Many layered ropes- super chic
2. Asymmetrical pearl ropes with diamond or accented asymmetrical pieces- awesome!

They have to be- layered... more than one strand.
look great i.e. not the cheapest fakes, but good news, real and fake pearls can look fabulous as low prices!

Another great tip- buy a single long strand 60 -100 inches. Then find a brooch. affix the brooch to the strand on an angle, this keeps the strands locked in a graduated fashion, and it is also awesome looking.... if they slide around, you can actually attach the brooch to your dress, keeping the pearls in place, and the brooch at the right angle.

Hint- if you go with a huge necklace, tone down the earrings and vice versa.

Here is a good start!

this is the style, but not the chains. although this is a cool necklace

Monday, December 15, 2008

Great Coupon Website

This website has saved me tons of dough over the past year. Before you make any online purchase be it bridal or personal, check RetailMeNot first.

Simply put the store you want to search in the search box, and viola, you get coupon results. Sometimes they don't work, but most of the time they do, and it only takes about 30 extra seconds to save sometimes tens of hundreds of dollars.

Happy Shopping

Hot Trends in Bridal for 2009

Here are some hot new trends in Bridal for 2009

1. Dresses with sleeves! It's a miracle after years of just strapless dresses, I am starting to happily see the off the shoulder and halter make a major comeback this year.

2. Fit and Flare Dresses- They don't look great on everyone, but they are fabulous if you have a great body. See Anne Hathaway's dress in the new bride wars movie.

3. Trumpet Vases- Big bold trumpet vases are hot in a big way in floral. The style is finished with a clumping texture to floral instead of mixed floral varieties, creating a very bold statement.

4. Big Hair Pieces- Instead of a veil, large flowers, floral arrangements, jeweled arrangements, and combs are coming in style in a big way.

5. The Blusher is out- the blusher is out... Try a simple single layer veil.....

6. Comfy Shoes- Maybe I am biased, since shoes don't like me very much, but the reality is no one sees your shoes, and you stand all day... Try wedges or non-traditional light colored shoes.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Budget Christmas Decor

So we are all scrimping a bit this season, and I ran across a fabulous idea for Christmas decorations all at Costco, one of the greatest stores!

Costco has the greatest handmade gift tags. They are so adorable, and really add an elegance to any package. They are approximately 8 dollars for 64 tags. I think you would be hard pressed to beat that price for the quality any where else. But, I came across a great idea. If you are really on a budget and wanted to add some pizazz to your tree but couldn't afford to shell the dough for whole new ornament sets, add these tags onto your tree. They have real ribbon holders attached and add flair and beauty to any tree.

Costco also has the most awesome ribbon selection. The ribbon is 6.95 for a 50 yard continuous roll of wired ribbon. I wrap all my packages in real ribbon instead of the sticky bow back types. People always comment on how beautiful my presents are and I really attribute it all to the extra 50 seconds and 10 cents I spent by using real ribbon....
They are super fab!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Glamour Closet San Francisco Huge Sample Sale- Great Designer Gowns, low prices!

Hi Brides,
If you were looking to buy a designer gown and don't have much to spend, or just want to get a great bargain and you are a street size 4-10, check out the Glamour Closet Sample Sale in San Francisco next weekend, the 13th and 14th.

Get there early, there is normally a line out the door by the time it opens, and it isn't for the modest, people just start stepping into gowns in the middle of the store, so bring your own bra, etc.

Dresses can normally be altered 1 size up or down no problem but be careful that the dress is alterable before buying because all sales are final.

Glamour Closet is an awesome store that miraculously finds sample gowns that haven't been worn and sells them at amazing prices. At the sample sale, dresses are even less expensive than normal- from $400 to $1400 for dresses that are normally 1500 to 8-10,000 dollars! There are some fabulous designers.

Note- at these samples sales most dresses will be 8 and 10 bridal sizes, and some 12's but generally there are no 14, or 16 dresses, which again to reiterate means street sizes, 4, 6, 8, and borderline 10.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December- time to plan and get a planner even in a tough economy

I know the economy is tough, believe me.  I just wanted to point out a few reasons all you freshly minted engagees should think about hiring a planner if anything for the day of the event.

1. A planner can typically save you as much money if not more than what they cost-
What you may say? How could this be?  But the reality is that a good planner has good connections and a good sense of value, what things should cost, where to get them, and who to get them from.  In addition a good planner can tell you what is a waste of your money and what is not, and in the end even a pretty high end planner like myself can definitely save you their fee in discounts, good bets, and better purchases.

2. Relax!-
A planner at your event means that you or someone you know who isn't really qualified isn't running around on the day of the event making decisions and scuttling everyone around.  The fact is planners especially on the day of make the bride more calm and the day more enjoyable for not just attendees but you as the bride, groom, and bridal party.  

3. They Bring your vision to life-
Let's be honest with ourselves for a minute.  Do you ever think you want to make this cool outfit and you look back and think what a bust the ensemble really was?  The reality is that a qualified and talented planner and designer provide you with stylistic consistency, assistance, and fulfillment.  They bring your visions to life in a way you hoped them to be, but better, and you didn't have to worry about it! It's like a mini-miracle.

So, even if your budget is meager, consider hiring at least a "day of" or as I say Abbreviated wedding planner. They will save you time, money, and give you a lot of peace of mind.

Cautionary Note-
Please note that in order to get a qualified planner, you have to research and spend some time finding the right personality fit and stylistic fit.  Not all planners are really qualified to provide all the services you may want, and no planner offering to show up only on the day of the event without any preparation should be hired.  To do a competent job they must be briefed on the event in full and spend a few hours getting to understand the event to provide flawless results.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mascara, how I love thee.... a bridal necessity

Mascara is a must.  If you are getting married and don't normally wear it, or fear the twisty wand that brings such wonderment to your eyes, get ready, you need it for your wedding day.  Nothing completes the face more than mascara.
I am one of those folks who buys all the newest mascara and gives it a good college try.... at least 5 applications.  
You need at least 5 applications because many brushes take a while to break in, and work correctly as well as the mascara finally gets properly primed on the brush.

The number 1 rule!!!! You must wear waterproof mascara.  I have heard numerous times, but I won't cry and my favorite isn't made in waterproof..... No! waterproof is demanded.  All those brides were really happy they went with the waterproof.  Even if you don't think you will cry, 1. you might anyway, 2. what if something gets in your eye and you start to tear? 3. what if it rains spontaneously (clearly the dress and your hair will also be in disrepair in this situation) ;).  4.  Sometimes you touch your face and waterproof doesn't smear! Its a miracle.

Here are a few mascaras I have found lately that I love and are worth a try.
(in no particular order)
Volume and length
1. Voluminous by Loreal- It is a good standby, thickens and lengthens simultaneously, can be a bit clumpy.  The trick is to brush on the mascara. then clean the brush by drawing the wand through tissue paper, (read t.p. or Kleenex) then brush back over the still wet lashes to avoid clumping.

Volume and Definition
2. Max Factor Volume Couture-  Plastic brush creates excellent definition, the trick is to break this brush in and you have to get used to the plastic brush, you may poke yourself in the eye the first few times, but it is worth it! A great product.

Volume, Length, and Curl
3. Max Factor Lash Lift- I think this is my all around favorite, replacing he pink and green tube staple.  It is a fabulous all around mascara, it creates definition, lift, and length, it coats well for night time, comes in waterproof and is inexpensive. 

Volume, Length, and new brush
4. Rimmel Eye Magnifier- Interesting plastic brush, requires that you twist while applying the mascara, but creates amazing lengthening, and almost false lash look. 

Volume, Length, and Fabu Smell
5. Dior DiorShow Mascara- I add this not because I love it, because honestly I think the brush is stupid big, but it is a good mascara and so many people love it.  I think it is good for people with huge eyes or something, I do however love the rosewater smell, and actually use an old Volume Couture (Max Factor) brush in mine and really like the results.

Volume, Length, funny name
6. Imju Fiberwig-  This is the new "it" product in mascaras.  Lengthening fibers create good overall balance of length and volume.  Like Rimmel, can create false lash look, created for the Asian market.  Asian eyelashes tend to be straight and shorter, so if you  have longer curvier lashes, expect very visible results. (Sephora exclusive)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Asian Art Musem, private events highly recommended!

We held a small private event in the Asian Art Museum's private dining room this weekend.  The staff at the Cafe' were exceptional in both setting up and serving and attending to the event.  The private dining room off the main cafe, is smallish, and can seat up to 30 very comfortably.  The dining menu was very affordable for the 3 course meal we served and the service was well, excellent.

I highly recommend this location for small parties, showers, small weddings, corporate events.  I know that you can rent the entire museum out in the evenings for private events and weddings.  It is a spectacular location and a great place to economically hold small events.  Renting the whole museum is obviously more costly, but in my opinion the setting is well worth the cost.

We also got a chance to see the Afghanistan exhibit which is truly a special exhibit of articles not duplicated in any other collection.  If you get a chance you should take a look.

Awesome Bridal Shower- Le Meridien

I just wanted to share that I was lucky enough to plan an awesome Bachelorette/Bridal Shower in San Francisco this weekend.
I wanted to thank everyone for attending and having such a great time.

Some cool things we did.
1. Toilet Paper Bride- I am bringing this game back..... You break up the party into teams, each gets two rolls of t.p. and about 5-10 minutes to construct a gown on a live model.  The bride then judges the best composition.  Someone from each team ala. Project Runway, has to explain their design inspiration, and how they feel this suits the bride.
The bride chooses a winner

2. Love Letter Mad Libs- 
There are a few of these online, you write a letter with fill in the blanks, they can either be non-sensical or thematic, such as cleaning products, food items, etc.  When the answers are put into place the letter reads smoothly, some creative results ensue that are hilarious.

Some Great Things-
The Georgetown Suite at the Le Meridien in San Francisco was an awesome room for a small gathering.  I was pleased with the location- right in the heart of the Financial District, and the awesome front office staff.  The room had two plasmas, a desk, and a big sitting room, unfortunately it is on the city view side, but things could be a lot worse.

Also note.... Travel Zoo ( offers screaming weekend deals a lot for this property.  It is also a Starwood associated resort, so you get your miles too!