Brides and Grooms: It's YOUR Day

To every soon-to-be bride and groom,

When I first meet with engaged couples, I am always so interested to hear about their proposal story - how it happened, where, who was there, etc. - and I love how every story is its own - so unique and personal.

As the conversation continues, I learn about the overall vision for the day,  the couple's plan for how they'd like to day to play out, and what they are looking for in a wedding coordinator. I share my experiences, guidance, and suggestions to help them carry out their vision for the day to make it their own - unique and personal just like them and their story.

And then, like clockwork, the questions come: "What are we supposed to do for this? What are the rules on this? Do we have to do this?" Here's the thing: the only rules that apply are those that pertain to religious ceremonies and cultural traditions. Other than that, what the couple says goes.

It is at this juncture in every meeting that I feel compelled to remind the couple that THEIR wedding day is about THEM. Yes, their loved ones are a huge part of their day of course, but at the end of the day THEIR day is about what they want (and it is my hope that their loved ones respect and appreciate that). After I remind them and reassure them that their day is just that - theirs - I can actually see the worry disappear from their faces and the stress roll off their shoulders.

The wedding day, an incredibly special milestone in the couple's life, is a day to celebrate the couple's love, their commitment to each other, and the beginning of their relationship as a married couple.

So, to all my soon-to-be brides and grooms out there: if you're feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and lost throughout your wedding planning, step back, look at each other, and remember why you are planning YOUR beautiful day in the first place and remember to enjoy every moment leading up to YOUR day.

XOXO,

Amanda

The Unplugged Wedding

The unplugged wedding. Have you heard of it? It's catching on, and I really love this trend.

An unplugged wedding happens when the bride and groom ask their invited guests to disconnect from the outside world and to also put their cameras down for their ceremony (and maybe through the first dances) and refrain from taking videos or photos of the wedding leaving that work to the couple's hired professionals. 

We live in a world where we are constantly connected. Don't get me wrong, it is incredibly convenient and wonderful to have the world at our fingertips. But on the day that the bride and groom have envisioned and planned for SO long, it seems rather acceptable that they ask the people they love the most to be present as they take their vows to love each other for the rest of their lives. 

There are two vendors who LOVE this trend: the photographer and the videographer. During the planning process of a wedding, the bride and groom labor over who they will trust to document one of the most important days of their lives. They research and place such a priority on these vendors, and these vendors also command a sizable investment for the couple (rightfully so!). They're talented and work to perfect their craft.

Many perfectly lined up shots are compromised by guests eager to snap a picture of the bride walking down the aisle or of the first kiss as a married couple. Without even noticing they're doing so, guests may be getting their phones or cameras (and their flash) in the way of the perfect shot of the new Mr. and Mrs. Many of my own wedding photos have guests in the background with their cameras or phones covering their faces. I've made it my own personal rule to put the camera down unless I am specifically asked to take pictures by the bride and groom and, even then, I am mindful not to get in the way of the other hired vendors.

It goes without saying that everyone in the bride and groom's world is already at the wedding. If someone couldn't attend to share in the day, the photographer, videographer, and the couple will be eager to share the beautiful pictures and video clips of the wedding day. Wedding guests are SO excited to share that first glimpse of the bride and groom on their social media channels, but doing so may cause them to miss happening at that very moment in time.

Weddings are beautiful. The day truly goes by SO quickly. Before you take out your smartphone or cellphone the next time you're at a wedding, take a moment and remember why you're there and simply enjoy.

The Red Letter Occasions Baby Sprinkle

What is a "sprinkle" anyway?!

Baby sprinkles are becoming increasingly popular. These events are lighter than a full baby shower and "sprinkle" moms and dads that are expecting subsequent babies, and celebrate the new little one's (or more than one!) upcoming arrival. What could experienced moms and dads need? Essentials, of course! Guests "sprinkle" moms and dads with items such diapers and wipes, and any other necessities for bringing baby home. 

I had the pleasure of planning and hosting a "sprinkle" for my sister-in-law a few weeks back. She and my brother-in-law are adding two tiny miracles to their crew. While the birth of my first two nephews changed their lives in the most amazing way, these twins will double the love in their house and that is definitely something to celebrate. 

We chose a Sunday afternoon in October to host the at-home sprinkle creating an event was relaxed and intimate -- the way the guest of honor wanted it to be. 

I chose simple decorations for this twin sprinkle and I was so happy with how everything came out. Little Pumpkins was the theme, and I kept the color palette neutral and fitting with the season. My sister-in-law loves sangria (non-alcoholic for this event!) and her favorite dessert is anything chocolate so, I made sure to work both into the menu. I am not a baker but I had so much fun making her this decadent, chocolate cake (it was pretty tasty!). And, the sangria was a party favorite! Email me for the recipes; I'm happy to share both!





Amanda Dudley Comments
Celebrate the Holiday Season

It's hard to believe that October is coming to a close. Halloween is a week away and soon after all of the costumes are put away and all of the goodies are enjoyed, most people begin to think about what's to come.

The holiday season spans three months and many events occur during this time. If you haven't started your November, December, and January event planning, now is the time to start thinking about how you want to wrap up 2015 and welcome in 2016. 

Celebrating with Friends and Family

I know that my personal calendar is starting to fill up quickly with friends and family get-togethers. Sometimes it's tough to plan a party AND execute it on the day of the party leaving the host feeling like they haven't enjoyed the party that they spent so much time preparing for. If you're like me, you know this is par for the course. Make this year different. Allow yourself to enjoy YOUR event this year. Red Letter Occasions can make that happen. Contact RLO today to see how we can help. 

Corporate Holiday Events

Maybe you want to celebrate the end of the year and your employees'  hard work with a low-key cocktail party, or perhaps you're looking to host a five-course dinner and dancing event. If you have an idea of how you'd like to close out the year but need help with the details, contact Red Letter Occasions. We focus on the event allowing you to focus on what's important to you - your business. RLO provides full, partial, day-of coordination, and event consulting services to help your event go off without a hitch. 

Red Letter Occasions hopes you enjoy your holiday season, and would love to be a part of the celebration.

Contact Red Letter Occasions today. 

 

 

 

 

Amanda DudleyComment
A True Red-Letter Day

It's October. Fall is (finally!) in full swing in New England. And, I'm reminded of one of the best red-letter days in my life: Saturday, October 3, 2009.

After breakfast at an old-fashioned diner, my soon-to-be fiance brought me to a day spa for some pampering. It didn't seem out of the ordinary to me; I always ask for neck and shoulder rubs so I just figured he just needed a break from being my personal masseuse. 

I was welcomed into the room and I STILL had no idea what was about to happen. Rose petals covered the massage tables; my favorite champagne was on ice; chocolate covered straberries were waiting to be eaten; my favorite Trish McEvoy candle was burning; and a beautiful deep purple, Winston Flowers Calla Lily arrangement completed the room. Still, I didn't catch on. I was oblivious.

After a relaxing spa treatment, I was getting ready to leave the room. I turned around and my guy was on one knee asking me to marry him. I don't even think I could hear straight because I was surprised, in shock, and so happy all at once. When I could finally speak, I let out an overwhelming, "YES!"

 PHOTO CREDIT: BRIAN AMBROSE PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO CREDIT: BRIAN AMBROSE PHOTOGRAPHY

We had plans for friends to visit from out of town that night. Upon arriving at the restaurant for dinner in the South End of Boston, I was surprised AGAIN. My family came from out-of-state to share in the celebration, and close friends joined us later that night to raise a glass in honor of our engagement. 

Six years later, I can still remember that day SO vividly. October 3rd will always be one of my most favorite days. How could it not be? It's the day that led to so many other wonderful, red-letter days in my life. 

"And I'll look at you and say, and I thought I loved you then..."


Amanda DudleyComment
The Red Letter Wedding: Day-Of Wedding Coordination

I've got a thing for weddings. I always have and I don't think that it's going away any time soon. I'm a sucker for a sweet proposal story, a gorgeous gown, the flowers, the first time the bride and groom lock eyes, the vows -- I can go on and on. And what I love most? I absolutely love, love, love seeing a wedding brought to life on the big day, and seeing the bride and groom have the time of their lives. 

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of bringing the bride and groom's vision for their special day to life. The weather was on my side -- it was mid-September and the weather felt like summer! It made for a beautiful day and evening. 

Like many brides and grooms, this couple knew exactly what they wanted and embraced the planning of their day as a project they could do together. They had many DIY components and each one was so beautiful! The venue they chose for the ceremony and reception was a private club and because of that, they didn't have a coordinator available to them to coordinate the events of the day. 

So, how did I help as a day-of wedding coordinator?

Weeks before the wedding, I met with the bride and groom to discuss and finalize the details of the wedding day's events, how they envisioned the day playing out, and how I could make it all happen. The night before the wedding we rehearsed. I ensured all bridal party and family members knew where they needed to be, and we completed a run-through of the ceremony. Then, it was go time.

On the day of the wedding, I set up all wedding decor provided by the couple: flowers, centerpieces, candles, signs, table numbers, the dessert display, etc.

I particularly loved the ceremony site. It was so different and beautiful, and was perfect for their rustic, beach wedding. Set far away from the house overlooking the water, two ladders were connected by a third and the two standing ladders were adorned with green, yellow, and white floral arrangements in mason jars with smaller mason jars filled with Baby's Breath on the steps in between. Look at that view! 

As guests arrived, they were invited to take a drink with them to the ceremony site for a special toast (more on that below); the tables were set with multi-sized hob-knob vases with floating candles, San Pellegrino bottles with flowers, and centerpieces; and the bar, complete with decorative whiskey barrels, overlooked the water.  

Instead of lighting a candle or pouring sand in a vase, the bride and groom came up a way to unite the two of them that suited them as a couple. At the end of the ceremony, the bride's uncle (who also performed the ceremony) shared an Irish blessing and all guests toasted to the new Mr. and Mrs. with bubbly. It was the perfect way to transition from the ceremony to the cocktail hour.

During cocktail hour, the bride and groom took pictures on the rocks (they're brave!), enjoyed hors d'oeuvres, and visited with guests. Take a look at this gorgeous bride against the Boston sunset. 

After cocktail hour was over, it was time to get the bridal party ready to be introduced. As the band announced the bride and groom's families, the guests gave everyone a very warm welcome to the reception tent. From there, the new Mr. and Mrs. shared their first dance as husband and wife. You could tell how much fun they were having; smiles did not leave their faces for a minute!

After the first dance, the Man of Honor (brother of the bride) and Best Woman (sister of the groom) gave heartfelt, sweet speeches that kicked off the night. The dance floor was packed before dinner was through and the bride and groom danced the night away. 

Andrea and Ben, thank you for inviting me to be a part of your day and trusting me to carry out your red-letter day. I hope the day was everything you imagined. I wish you both a lifetime of love and happiness! 

XO, Amanda

Tuesday Shoesday: Wedding Day Shoes Edition
You can never take too much care over the choice of your shoes.
— Christian Dior

It's Tuesday Shoesday! Yes, there IS a day of the week devoted entirely to shoes. Jump on Instagram and search its hashtag #tuesdayshoesday. There are close to 30,000 pictures tagged. 

What is it about shoes that makes girls weak in the knees? And, more importantly, how does a bride pick just one pair of shoes for the day she says, "I do?"

Check out any wedding photographer's blog posts and you're sure to find some pictures focused on the bride's shoes from the highlight reel of the couple's big day. 

For me, choosing my shoes was just as important as selecting my gown. I agonized over finding the right shoes for my big day. There were SO many beautiful shoes to choose from. How was I supposed to choose just one pair? I wanted something that was classic, fit my personality, matched my gown, and that I could wear again.  For me, the Jimmy Choo Logan Glitter d'Orsay Pump was the shoe that would get me down the aisle. 

If you're having trouble picking out your wedding day shoes, check out the collection below that Red Letter Occasions has put together for some inspiration. 

Classic Wedding Shoes: White, Ivory, Blush, and Neutral

A bride simply cannot go wrong with a beautiful shoe in classic hue. Badgley Mischka has a dedicated bridal shoes page and the color selector in the left column makes it easy to shop by color. I'm really loving the Thora Silk Ruffle Evening Pump in pink. It's sweet and classy and suits any bride going for classic style with a touch of personality. The coveted, red-soled Louboutin You-You peep-toe pump in white satin truly makes a statement, and the Simple Pump in nude patent leather is perfect for the walk down the aisle and can also be worn long after the big day is over. 

Shoes that Glitter and Sparkle

For the bride who wants to add a bit of sparkle to her bridal style, shoes adorned with glitter or rhinestones are the perfect accessory. 

Jimmy Choo's Addison d'Orsay Pump combines metallic and lace for a really romantic, pointed-toe wedding shoe. It adds a beautiful vintage touch.  

The Kate Spade New York Charm slingback pump comes in three colors: multi (with a satin pink foot bed), silver, and silver grey (which is close to white). It's like a party for your feet!

Badgley Mischka makes such beautiful wedding shoes (so I have to mention this brand again!) and adds a bit of sparkle to many of its bridal shoes. I love the simplicity of the Sugar d'Orsay Pump and it comes in ivory, pewter, and gold. 

Something Blue

The iconic Manolo Blahnik worn by Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw influenced the movement of brides wearing their something blue on their feet. It's a great way to add a pop of color and it makes for really great pictures. Earlier this year Sarah Jessica Parker launched a bridal line as part of her SJP Collection. You'll find some designs that are inspired by the shoes she wore on the show but with a slightly less expensive price tag. 

Not sure where to find your something blueNordstrom and Zappos have great selections of blue wedding shoes. 

Shoes to Match the Bridesmaid Dresses

Another trend I love is wearing shoes that match the color of the bridesmaid dresses. It truly ties the color scheme together and looks great against the white or ivory gown. Nina has an entire shop devoted to adding a touch of color to the big day, and the shoes are very comfortable and affordable, too!

Comfortable Shoes: Sneakers, Flats, and Boots

Remember the movie Father of the Bride? Steve Martin, the father of the bride, played the owner of an athletic shoe company and created a special sneaker for his daughter to wear on her big day. I could be wrong, but I think this is where the trend of the bride wearing sneakers (or comfortable shoes) began, and I think it's adorable. Converse manufactures their classics in an array of colors (even Tiffany blue!) and metallic hues. TOMS, an amazing, philanthropic company, makes comfortable slip-on shoes in crochet, neutral tones, pinks, and blues for brides, grooms, and other members of the wedding party. Check out the wedding collection. Winter bride? No problem. Ugg Australia's "I Do" Wedding Collection has you covered -- literally!

Have a favorite wedding day shoe to add? Red Letter Occasions wants to know! Comment below or contact me at adudley@redletteroccasions.com. 

Happy Tuesday Shoesday!

Preferred Red Letter Occasions Vendor Spotlight: Antea Amoroso Design

I met Antea a few years ago at The Energy Barre and quickly learned of her talents as an artist. At that time, she had an Etsy shop which she launched as a result of planning her own dream wedding. While planning each beautiful detail of her wintry wedding, she fell in love with DIY crafting and knew there were other people just like her that wanted beautiful event decor but didn't necessarily have the time or artistic ability to bring their vision to life. I am one of those people. As Antea's Etsy business grew and people in the Greater Boston area needed event decor design help, Antea Amoroso Design was born.

When I helped my sister plan my niece's first birthday and wanted a first birthday memory board to add to the party decorations, I immediately contacted Antea. She hand-painted (yes, by hand!) a personalized board with all of my niece's stats and firsts. It was the perfect addition to the gift table and my family and friends are still talking about the beautiful canvas that hangs in the birthday girl's room. 

Now let's fast forward to this year. Antea created two amazing boards for me to celebrate my baby's birthday as well as my second niece's first birthday.

She puts so much time and thought into her designs and it truly shows. She carefully matches each of her designs to the theme of the event.

Photo credit (photo on right): Nick Rezendes Photography

I mentioned The Energy Barre earlier. Antea helped owner Julianna decorate her beautiful studios (Stoneham, MA and Beverly, MA) with canvas art hung around the rooms with inspirational sayings, quotes, and song lyrics. She also hand-painted the business logos, signs, and calligraphy on the walls. If you haven't been to the studio, go try a class! You'll be so happy you did! 

Photo credit: The Energy Barre 

I have been to weddings where I've spotted Antea's designs without knowing she had helped the bride and groom with their wedding design. I remember asking one bride how she learned of Antea and she told me that her aunt recommended Antea to her, and that Antea made it so easy to rent the items she needed for her big day that she didn't need to buy such as table numbers. Every item matched her wedding style perfectly. Check out the photo gallery of Antea's work on her site. 

Photo credit: Antea Amoroso Design

Her beautiful storefront is located at 8 Brande Court in Reading Center, and she hosts events like "Girlfriends' Guide to DIY" nights there where she teaches you how to craft. How fun is that? Follow her shop on Facebook to catch the next one! This Sunday, September 13th, is The Reading Street Faire; be sure to check out her booth there- you just may spot some Red Letter Occasions logos hand-painted by Antea!

The First Birthday Party

365 days. 12 months. 1 year.

A baby changes and grows so much in that amount of time. It's quite amazing when you think about it, and it's definitely a reason to celebrate. 

The beginning of the season was the inspiration behind this vintage, baseball-themed first birthday party for a sweet, little, April baby and it was so much fun to plan! 

The invitation, found on Etsy, help set the tone for the event and inspired the beautiful stars and stripes; red, white, and blue cake created by Vida Doce. The cake was the focal point of the table and it was displayed on one of three natural-wood boxes. No baseball game is complete without Cracker Jacks so this had to be a part of the party design! Also part of the table display: popcorn in old-fashioned boxes; peanuts and baseballs; the birthday boy's name spelled out in white letters with hand-painted, red stitches to look like those found on a baseball; and an old glove filled with double-bubble bubble gum crossed with a small wooden bat. We also tied in a bit of history to the display table, too. The birthday boy's dad saved all of his baseball cards from when he was a boy and we hung them on the front of the table adding a special touch. Antea of Antea Amoroso Designs created a beautiful, first birthday memory board highlighting all of the milestones from the baby's first year.

Guests enjoyed typical concession fare; sausages, hot dogs, and burgers made everyone feel like they were out at the old ballgame! 

All of the little details combined to make a very memorable day celebrating one very special year.

Gratitude

I believe that people come into your life for a reason. As I set out on this business endeavor, I was reminded of how lucky I am to be surrounded by supportive, loving, encouraging, and helpful people. These people know my passion for the perfect event as well as my dream of turning that passion into a service to help others with the best days of their life, and have encouraged me to pursue that passion head-on. So, today I am bursting with gratitude.

To my husband, who unconditionally supports all of my dreams and ideas, thank you. Thank you for loving me always -- even on my craziest days.

To my mom and sister, my go-to people for honest advice, I literally don't know where I'd be without you. Actually, yes I do - I'd be lost without you.

To my dear friend, Colleen (my Corporate Ballerina), thank you from the bottom of my heart for your brilliance and passion for all things design, and for creating my beautiful branding and website. You are worth your weight in gold. Thank you for being my sidekick. I can't wait to plan your wedding one day.

To my strong, small business-owning girlfriends, thank you for your patience while I navigate the newness of running my own business, for answering my many questions, and for so graciously offering so much help as I build my brand.

Today I feel loved. My heart is happy. And that is a very, very good feeling.