Happy Small Business Saturday! I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving and you are out shopping and supporting LOCAL!

I was flattered to be an invited guest on the Fat Cat Cooking Show, which aired today on #iheartradio WCWA1230 at Noon. As promised here are my tips for entertaining at home during the holiday season:

  • Set your table the 2 days before. Whether it’s a buffet or sit down dinner. Pull out all your serving dishes and mark each one with a post-it of its corresponding dish and serving wear. By doing this 2 days before you realize if you need to polish something or borrow something and this gives you a day to prepare.
  • Clean out your fridge and your medicine cabinet. People are noisy. Make sure your fridge doesn't have left over food dripping down the side and is not stocked to the brim (after all where are you going to put left overs). Also make sure when guests go to the bathroom your medical or personal secrets are stashed away.
  • Set boundaries. If you are having a large party and friends are bringing a 'plus one' who you are meeting for the first time, it might be a good idea to put a lock on your bedroom door. Keep your money, jewelry and other personal items safe and private. This is also a great place to stash those little projects you didn't quite get to. Behind the couch doesn't work. If its reachable - it can be seen.
  • If budget allows, hire a helping hand. There’s nothing better than using your china and not having to do the dishes. As I say, "Use the good stuff if you have it". If you have someone managing the kitchen during a party – sit down dinner or mingle - having someone to keep up on dishes, make sure bottles of wine are open and ready, etc. If its not in your budget, then don’t spend your evening doing dishes when you should be entertaining friends. Instead stack them neatly next to the sink. As long as food is not sitting on them, fine china can be cleaned the next day, no harm done.
  • Buy some take home containers for guests. Like most hosts you are going to over buy, over cook and have left overs. Send guests home with their favorite dishes
  • Make sure you have a great flow of traffic with your furniture. You may have to remove some items and bring in standing bistro tables to allow more areas for guests to set their drinks. This is inexpensive rental and worth it.
  • If your event is not a formal dinner, prepare a menu that has bite sized food or easy to eat with just a fork. Guests cannot juggle a glass of wine, eat with a set of silverware, and manage their plate. Besides smaller items allow for easy bites and easier conversation.

  • Forget the ice. People often rely on the ice maker and it just can’t pull its weight. You need ice to chill down drinks prior to and also serve at the bar.
  • Neglect your bathroom. People are going to frequent the bathroom so stock up on toilet paper. And if you are on a septic tank, use the cheap stuff (were you wondering where I was going with that on air - now you know!). Nothing is more expensive than the amount of champagne you are going to serve than calling a plumber at 10pm and having him clear your pipes. Check the waste basket always make sure hand towels are available. 
  • Overwhelm your guests with scented candles and plug-ins that fight with the delicious smells of your home cooking. Keep the smelly candles for the bathroom.
  • Get too comfortable. Work the room. Introduce new people. Therefore you probably won’t each much. So be sure to help yourself to your food while preparing it.

I think the best holiday decor is some of the easiest. Real, fresh evergreen foliage and Christmas bulbs are some of my favorites. I have listed several ideas on my Pinterest page. You will find an eclectic collection from traditional to playful. 
Enjoy, and happy planning!


CROWNING CELEBRATION: Intimate Bridal Shower

Having known my bride for over 20 years, I have come to appreciate her love for monograms and traditionalism. Visiting her hometown from Manhattan, it was important that the bridal shower included her favorite little luxuries.  

I designed her bridal shower in the home to give an intimate atmosphere with fineries such as Francis First flatware, Waterford crystal, Aynsley Pembroke china, lace linens from Italy, antique silver vessels for flowers and touches of gold in the chargers and chairs. 

As a surprise, I monogrammed all the Battenberg napkins with her new monogram along with a chair drape, which was then re-created into a table runner for the newly married couple. 

Antique silver vessels were filled with garden flowers and fresh herbs. 

Guests were served beverages with monogrammed coasters during lunch, followed by coffee and tea with macaroons and desserts. 

The couple has a mutual love for Polar Bears - an inside love joke of sorts between the two of them. So I dressed up these two bears and placed them at her placesetting as a surprise.

Vendor Recognition:
Bartz Viviano Flowers & Gifts
Toledo Chiavari Chairs
Meredith Party Rentals
Sylvania Country Club
KF Sweets


CROWNING CELEBRATION: Bridal Shower at Toledo Museum of Art

I love it when clients let me design for them and then totally let me run with it! And its even more fun when its a break from the usual and plan an intimate party such as this one. 

This bridal shower for 12 lovely ladies at the Toledo Museum of Art was designed around the bride's profession as a profession art auctioneer at Sotheby's in Manhattan. The hostess, the bride's sister, wanted to use coral and touches of turquoise and gold.

Great events deserved to be photographed by a professional. Thank you to Mary Wyar who captured my tablescape design, along with the entire event. 

 Don't you just love the gold flatware - totally completes the look!!! I luckily have a connection with fabulous taste and really good estate sale shopping skills. Thank you, Dale, for loaning us your fabulous finds!


Sneak Peak: Gretchen & Matt

How cute is our couple from last weekend's wedding at Nazareth Hall?! You would never know it, but the groom is almost 2 feet taller than the bride. Choose a photographer that knows the tricks to a good photo! 

Eventista: First Impressions

Eventista: First impressions

Written by Brittany Craig | | brittany@crowningcelebrations.com
It’s said that first impressions are everything. The same can be said for love at first sight. So why is the wedding invitation — the first impression guests receive — becoming substandard?
Craig,-BrittanyAs a planner and an occasional wedding guest, I can understand both sides of the playing field. I know many couples have budget concerns and that often one of their first ideas is to cut cost on invitations. On the other hand, as a guest looking forward to a fun night out, there is nothing more disappointing than flimsy card stock, a rushed handwritten address and Scriptina font. There, I said it. Scriptina font. Don’t do it.
“They just end up tossing it anyway” — I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. But actually, the wedding invitation often gets hung in the kitchen or tucked into a daily planner. It’s looked at repeatedly with anticipation. As stationery designer Kim Collins of Fiddle Stix Boutique at Levis Commons says, “The wedding invitation sets the tone for the entire event and helps give the guests an idea of what to expect. If a bride is having a gorgeous, extravagant wedding but sends something that looks less than impressive … guests are not going to anticipate something as extraordinary as they should.”
Beautiful is more affordable than you think. “Brides and grooms do not have to skimp on these details; they just need to find the right fit,” said Kelly Henry, stationery designer and owner of UpperCase Designs in Toledo. Thanks to sites like Pinterest, brides can find a plethora of ideas. But by working with a local stationery designer, you can make that “pin” come to fruition. For an invite with a lot of color go for digital printing versus off-set printing, suggests Henry. Referring guests to a wedding website for more information cuts down on clutter and costs, Collins suggests. Postcard response cards are another cost-saving tip. By working with a local designer, you can give that postcard a unique, upscale look that will compensate for its ease and convenience.
What’s felt in the hand is just as important as what’s seen by the eye. Oftentimes invitations ordered online use a lighter weight of card stock. Always request to see and feel a sample. Lighter stock in both the invite and the envelope do not mail well. They are often eaten up by the postage machines and arrive to your guests torn or marked. One way to avoid this is to also handstamp each of your invites at the post office. While you’re there, double check to make sure you have enough postage on your envelopes, if you haven’t done so already. Always bring a completely assembled invite when buying stamps.
Carrying consistent fonts, colors and design for your wedding programs, escort cards, menus, table numbers and signage gives the event an overall appearance that is more memorable and enjoyable. But don’t be afraid to assemble these items yourself. “This takes a little bit more time for the bride, but it saves on the cost of the vendor’s assembly process,” Collins said.
The wedding invitation is one of the most traditional parts about a wedding, but you can still have a little fun while being socially appropriate. One way to do this is with the RSVPs. “One of the most requested RSVP responses is, ‘We’ll dance if you play this song.’ Newlyweds want to see their guests out on the dance floor having a great time. One of my favorites is ‘We’ll have to miss all the fun’ and ‘We’ll be there to dance and dine,’” Henry said.
Finally, don’t forget the attention to detail when it comes to addressing your invitations. “The smallest of details really stand out throughout the entire event, starting with the invitations!” Collins said. Calligraphy is the most popular way of addressing envelopes. If you cannot afford hand-addressed calligraphy, opt for having a stationery designer print the addresses on the envelopes with a font that matches the invitation suite, suggests Henry. Then dress it with beautiful stamps. Buy a collection of vintage stamps on Etsy and include four to five different kinds in your color scheme to reach your required postage.
The wedding invitation doesn’t have to be a budget-bleeder. And it doesn’t have to be dull to be affordable. With a little personal style and attention to detail, you will be sure to excite your guests!