#ColorPopWCW: New York Wedding Branding (and Stationery) Expert, Alex Rogerson of Suitesmith

The first time I had the pleasure of working with Alex, it was, admittedly, not paper related. I was in need of a real couple to model for a styled shoot I was working on, and knowing that Alex used to be a dancer and a model (she actually has quite the portfolio of wedding shoots she's modeled for), I decided to see if she and her husband would be game to play dress up for a day. And they were! (The photo below is from that shoot.) The first time I worked with Alex on something paper related was the Lisa Frank holiday party shoot I organized last September, and the experience was amazing. She used the same process for that shoot as she does with clients, and I remember being so incredibly impressed with how she presented everything at different stages. First came an inspiration board and color palette. Then I got to see preliminary sketches. From those sketches we chose the direction we wanted to go in and she then prepared initial proofs. We made minor tweaks here and there until we arrived at the final product. I just loved how organized and transparent she was with the whole process, and I immediately referred her to one of my couples, whose rainbow-themed wedding I cannot wait to share after it goes down this August. Since then, Alex and I have collaborated on a pop art-inspired styled shoot as well as the Out of the Box Challenge for Catalyst Wedding Co. Alex has recently re-branded her design company from Arobesque to Suitesmith and I could not be more excited to help spread the word. Below Alex shares the details on her new company and explains why she's not just a stationer, but more of a wedding branding pro. 

Tell me about the decision to rebrand from Arobesque to Suitesmith.
When I started Arobesque, I still had sea legs and was a bit unsure of what direction to take. I had accounts designing print collateral for small businesses, and was also creating wedding invitations. While I loved many of the projects I was working on, something just didn’t feel right. The name Arobesque had a deep connection for me, but wasn’t serving my dream clients. I’ve grown and my business has grown, and I wanted a new name to reflect that.

What's the meaning behind the name Suitesmith?
“Suite” refers to a set or sequence of things- we also commonly see this in reference to a luxurious room that has a connecting bathroom. In the wedding industry we typically refer to all of the pieces of an invitation set as a suite (ceremony card, reply card, reception card, inner/outer envelope, etc.). I think it should include all of the connecting design elements that will enhance your event, both digital and print- not just an invitation. Smith is my maiden name, and is an old English word referring to someone who works with metal (like a blacksmith). I might not spend my days with an anvil, but I do consider myself a maker. Whether I’m spray mounting and tearing down paper, tweaking typography, or sketching all of the necessary design elements, these hands are hard at work and nail polish is typically chipped! My hope is that Suitesmith will translate as someone who creates or makes a suite of designs.

For you, what are the distinguishing factors between the two companies? What makes Suitesmith different?
The biggest difference is that we no longer take on one-off projects for small businesses. We are event-specific and feel we can offer the most value and expertise to clients by figuring out what materials are needed to engage their guests before, during, and after an event. We’ve begun doing this with our current clients and I look forward to enhancing our services and streamlining the process moving forward. We don’t design wedding invitations, we create visual communication systems. Part of that is graphic design and illustration, and part of it includes art direction. An event planner, event designer, or the host/hostess themselves might offer the creative direction and the big picture. They’ll tell us that a bold and modern look is desired- I’ll show you what typeface and imagery can accomplish that.

What made you decide to start designing paper goods for special events?
My first inspiration probably came from watching my mother and Kelly (our close family friend) turn our basement into magical safaris, tea parties and other “environments” time after time for birthday parties. It was always the details I noticed most- glitter placecards with puffy paint roses and my FULL name? So fancy- I was hooked. In the days when computer paper was still attached with a perforated line, I took it upon myself to be the resident banner-maker in the family. If it was your birthday or anniversary, I was busy making bubble letters to celebrate you! It wasn’t until my oldest brother got married and let me create his invitation that I officially thought about applying design to events. When I got married in 2012, I really began to see all of the possibilities.

What sets you apart from other stationers?
To me, stationery refers to paper correspondence or writing materials. That is just one part of what is needed for an event, so I’m not entirely a stationer. Suitesmith takes a broader approach: I like to think of planning the design details from a marketing perspective. Traditional branding and marketing materials aim to sell a product or service. Suitesmith design packages use similar strategies, but with a mission to create engagement and involvement between a host or hostess and their guests. I want to know what apps you use, what your friends use, if your party will be full of dancing or intimate conversation; basically, what materials can we design to best support the activities you have planned. Everything we do is custom, and worked around the host's or couple’s preferences. I typically work with clients to build their suite for anywhere from 6 months to a year, so I truly get to know their likes and dislikes.

How much does it drive you crazy when people spell "stationery" with an "a”?!
I like to joke that if you spell it with an “a”, you won’t get very far… You know, because you’ll be stationary… It is cringe worthy to read, but the truth is…I definitely made that mistake when I first started! Ergo, I didn’t get very far.

Looking back at your own wedding, is there anything you would do differently?
Yes and no! If I knew then what I know now, I would have approached planning the paper details much differently. I designed our invitations and I love them, but my typography skills have improved tenfold since then. I would have been able to step back and figure out which details were really important, and which were the result of my unhealthy relationship with Pinterest at the time (it was still sort of new!). Other than that, it was an unforgettable day. Our parents, wedding planner, and vendors made everything look positively gorgeous, and my husband and I were able to drink champagne, dance, and spend time with our most favorite people in the whole world.

What's the most memorable event you ever attended?
So many! As mentioned, the birthday parties that my parents threw for me and my brothers were truly magical. Except for the one with the clown…didn’t like that one. I was a flower girl for the first time in my cousin’s wedding when I was 9, and that to me was like being in a movie. Another wedding I went to as a child had an Orange Julius stand and absolutely blew my mind (#iheartthe90s). As an adult, I find more and more that the most memorable events are the ones where you feel included or part of something bigger. My favorite weddings that we’ve been to aren’t necessarily the largest or most formal, but the ones that feel warm and inviting, that make you want to dance like a fool and talk to the other people at your table (even if you don’t know them!).

What's your favorite color?
I’d call it situational, but I have always been drawn to muted and pastel blues, greens, and pinks. Do I have to pick just one?!

What advice would you give to other women starting their own businesses?
Take and implement lots of advice from people you trust and admire, but also learn to trust your own gut above anyone else. Seek a support system. Owning a business is difficult and can be isolating and lonely, but I do not believe in the phrase “one woman show.” Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time.

Do you have any daily routines that you think are critical for having a successful and productive work day?
It’s actually something I try NOT to do that I’ve found most helpful! I spend many, many, many hours on my computer working in design programs. I have to set certain times when my email is just off. It’s tricky because I need to be available for clients and potential print emergencies, but if I don’t occasionally turn in off when I’m in the middle of a project, I would literally be answering messages all day long. One routine I miss dearly is dancing- I think movement is so important for your body and mind, and am trying to figure out how to reincorporate this into my week.

What other business women do you look up to?
While there are many, my mom is at the top of my list. She and my father started a protective packaging business when I was very little, which has definitely impacted my life. I’ve seen them have struggles and successes and learn from them every single day. My mom and I are in some ways extremely similar, but I look up to her a lot as a woman in business because of our differences. She has a brain for numbers and is a super strong, yet elegant, presence both in the office and in the world.

What's your favorite business book?
I’m currently on round three of reading “Brand Seduction”, by Daryl Weber. Even if you’re not interested in branding/design, it’s such a good read!

What's one question you'd like to answer that I didn't ask?
I’d love to share the top three things I’d love to see people incorporate more of and less of in their design details!
More of:
1. Clean, minimalist typography  
2. Deep, moody, and unexpected colors
3. Cohesive and simple wedding websites, with digital RSVPS
Less of:
1. The same scripted typeface (or anything) your friend used- let’s talk about the vision you have first and then decide how to support it.
2. Blush- how about a powdery gray-blue to mix things up?
3. Any extra, out of the ordinary apps one would need to download in order to participate in the fun. Aunt Cindy wants to hashtag too!

COLOR POPping in Palm Springs - A Venue Spotlight on The Saguaro

Since Color Pop Events is now offering destination wedding planning services to New York and New Jersey-based couples who want to get married in Palm Springs, what better way to kick off this new adventure than with a little spotlight on one of my favorite venues there: The Saguaro!

I mean, could there be a more perfect venue to go with the Color Pop brand?!

This colorful wonderland offers beautiful space for indoor and outdoor weddings, and best of all, if you can’t choose between the two, you can have both with their newly renovated Sago Ballroom. The Sago Ballroom (which can accommodate up to 200 guests for a seated dinner with room for dancing) extends to a terrace, so you can enjoy your ceremony in the beautiful Palm Springs sunshine with gorgeous pool and mountain views, while still experiencing an indoor reception with good food, music, and company.

The Saguaro also has numerous other event settings including lawn spaces, patios, another indoor ballroom, and even its very own “Hammock Village,” complete with canopies, sofas, and hammocks.

Each space at The Saguaro has tons of potential for the perfect place to tie the knot but the benefits of a wedding at The Saguaro go well beyond just the location. First, there’s the food. The Saguaro has amazing menus (a guacamole bar, hello!) for plated, family style or buffet dinners, all of which can be customized with the executive chef. If the food at the on-property restaurant, El Jefe, is any indication, the food for your wedding will be top notch.

In addition, if you live in the Tri-State Area, your wedding budget will stretch so much further at The Saguaro. The hotel charges a very reasonable site fee, which varies depending on time of year (peak season in Palm Springs is October, January, February, March and April), and pricing for food and beverage packages is extremely affordable (compared to NYC prices).

On top of all of this, the hotel amenities cannot be beat. You and your wedding party can sip fruity margaritas poolside or take advantage of the hotel’s spa. There’s even free daily yoga classes to relieve those wedding-day jitters.

I simply cannot say enough wonderful things about The Saguaro and how it is the epitome of the Palm Springs wedding experience. The Saguaro will make your wedding one to remember with its bright colors and mid-century vibes, while still providing all of the basics a wedding location needs. The Saguaro still has some availability left for 2017, so consider making this colorful paradise the perfect spot for your perfect day! And let Color Pop Events help make it happen!

Color Pop Is Expanding - Let's Plan Your Wedding in Palm Springs!!!

I’ve had a new project in the works for a few months now, and today is the day I finally get to share what I’ve been working on! I am so excited to announce that Color Pop Events will be offering destination wedding planning services for Tri-state area couples that want to get married in Palm Springs! Warm weather and desert air, here I come!

All photos by Mikkel Paige Photography

Why Did I Choose Palm Springs?

  • Size. Palm Springs is small enough that I have a solid grasp on all the venue and vendor options there, and it’s a place where I can integrate myself into the wedding community. Unlike a larger city like Los Angeles, there’s a limit to the list of local venues and vendors, and it’s my job to be the expert on those venues and vendors for my couples.
  • The best months to get married in Palm Springs are less-than-ideal months to get married in New York. Because New York and Palm Springs have practically opposite wedding seasons, the weddings I take on in Palm Springs will be the perfect balance to my seasonal calendar. Planning weddings in Palm Springs won’t detract from the number of weddings I’m able to take on in New York or significantly impact my availability for my couples getting married in New York.
  • It’s an amazing city. Palm Springs is one of my favorite places to visit in the United States and what’s not to love? The weather. The mid-century modern architecture and décor. The overall vibe. I can’t think of a city more consistent with the Color Pop brand to work in. Not to mention how much there is to do there. For the outdoorsy couple, Palm Springs itself is perfect to bike around and there are lots of opportunities for hiking in the nearby mountains. And let’s not forget its proximity to Joshua Tree. For the couple that prefers to spend their time indoors, there are tons of great restaurants and shops to check out.

Why Should You Choose Palm Springs?

  • You can escape those frigid NY winters! We all want to get away during the winter months, so having your wedding in a place where it will be warm and sunny in February is a perfect way to accomplish that.
  • You’re not limited by weather. In New York, a lot of couples don’t want to get married November through February because they want to have an outdoor component to their weddings and are concerned that it will be too cold during those months. You definitely don’t have to worry about that in Palm Springs!
  • It’s more affordable. Now, I’m not saying that weddings in Palm Springs are going to be cheap, but your money will definitely go further in Palm Springs when it comes to venue fees, food and beverage costs, flowers, etc.
  • It’s something different. If you’re like most people in their late twenties/early thirties, you’ve probably been a guest at close to a dozen weddings. At this point, they may all start to blur together. Heck, some of them may even have been at the same venue! Here’s a chance to stand out from your group of friends and plan a wedding that is truly unique.

Why Hire Color Pop Events Rather Than a Palm Springs-Based Planner?

  • In-person meetings, Part 1: Being able to have in-person meetings with me, in New York, is huge! As someone who planned their own wedding in Atlanta while living in NYC, I speak from personal experience when I say that, if you hired a Palm Springs-based planner, you would see them in person maybe twice before you arrive for the wedding. Spending time in person with my couples is one of the most valuable assets to being able to execute a flawless day for you. It gives me a chance to get to know you, to get a sense of your vibe and style, and likewise, you get to know me and see how I work. On the day of the wedding, everyone knows what to expect.
  • In-person meetings, Part 2: Want to meet up during your lunch break or after work one day? Because I’m here on the ground with you, I have flexibility and more availability for scheduling in-person meetings.  
  • We’re in the same time zone. You won’t ever have to double check what time zone I’m in to figure out if it’s too early or late to call or if I might be out to lunch.
  • I work on NYC-time. No offense to my Palm Springs folks, but people in New York City are accustomed to a faster pace of life and I work at that same pace. I understand the need for responsiveness and the sense of urgency that New Yorkers have and I work accordingly.  

How Will It Work?

We can work together one of two ways:
1.    You already know where in Palm Springs you want to get married—either from having been there before or seeing photos online—and don’t need/want an initial venue search trip. In that case, once the venue is booked, we’ll start the vendor search process and meetings can take place via phone/Skype/Google Hangouts, etc. At some point during the planning process, we’ll take a trip to Palm Springs to meet all of your chosen vendors in person and do a walk through at the venue. The goal of this trip would be to take care of any in-person meetings so that you don’t need to make a separate trip (unless you want to, of course!) before the wedding.

2.    You aren’t sure where in Palm Springs you want to get married, so you want to tour venues before making a decision, in which case we’ll take an initial venue search trip, which will also include in-person meetings with vendor candidates while we’re there. We would then do another trip during the planning process for a walk through at the venue and in-person meetings with your selected vendors.

I’m incredibly excited for this new venture for Color Pop Events, and I can’t wait to start working with new couples who are as in love with Palm Springs as I am!

A Sweet Bumblebee-Themed Baby Shower on Long Island

Over the summer, I dedicated one of my Woman Crush Wednesday posts to Jackie Mangiolino, owner of Sincerely, Jackie and a wedding invitation and paper goods designer based on Long Island. One of the many reasons I adore Jackie is her unwavering strength, optimism and hope, even in times of great difficulty. Last May, Jackie gave birth to her son, Richie, at just 26 weeks into her pregnancy. She documented her journey on Instagram and showed so much resilience, determination and love when faced with such a challenging situation.

About a month after Richie was born, Jackie’s friends and family came together for her baby shower, honoring a baby that had been born at just two pounds, two ounces, and supporting the proud parents who had been spending every day of the past month in the NICU by their son’s side. It was a beautiful, emotional and amazing day, and I’m excited to be able to finally share the details with everyone!

All photos by Photography by Leandra

Jackie selected a bumblebee theme for her shower, which turned out to be a fortuitous choice given the bumblebee details at Plattduetsche Park Restaurant where the shower was held. They even had bumblebees on the plates!

Of course Jackie designed her own paper goods, which included the invitation, escort cards, menus and labels for the mini bottles of honey that were given out as favors. 

Jackie’s friend and stationery collaborator, Charmaine of Everly Calligraphy, created a custom crest for Baby Richie that was included on the invite and also brought to life in the form of a laser cut crest, complete with greenery and bees. Charmaine also created a darling watercolor print for the escort card display. 

Beautiful floral arrangements by Sachi Rose Floral Design Co. throughout the room provided colorful accents against the blue linens. 

Sprinkled throughout shower were papier mache bees, each one handcrafted by Gina Paola Design, who also helped style all of the décor. 

The star of the party, other than Jackie of course (looking simply radiant with her hair and make-up by Perfectly Polished Faces), was the honeycomb cake created by Nine Cakes, which had the most delicious strawberry lemonade cake inside. To highlight the cake, Gina created a backdrop of greenery and floating bees for the dessert table. 

Leandra of Photography by Leandra captured every detail of this beautiful day so perfectly. Her photos show not only the intricacies of the shower that Jackie planned, but also the love and joy that filled the room that day. For more details on Jackie’s shower, pop over to her feature on Martha Stewart Living

The Hasbrouck House - A Hip, Brooklyn-esque Wedding Venue in the Hudson Valley

In search of a place for a quaint winter getaway? Or how about a venue for your wedding where family and close friends can stay on property? Then look no further than the brand new Hasbrouck House—a hidden gem tucked away in the small town of Stone Ridge, New York.

All photos by Emma Tuccillo

All photos by Emma Tuccillo

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of touring the Hasbrouck House during a recent trip upstate. Knowing that the Hasbrouck House is owned and operated by the Gowanus Hospitality Group (the same owners of some of my NYC favorites, 501 Union and The Green Building), I admittedly had high expectations going in (especially when it came to the wallpaper). I’m happy to report that the Hasbrouck House did not disappoint.

Promoting itself as an inn that is more than just a wedding venue, the Hasbrouck House is poised to become a popular destination for city dwellers. For people looking for a getaway, the Hasbrouck House offers a variety of accommodations from single rooms to suites to carriage house apartments (hello, gorgeous soaking tub!). 

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The inn’s on-site restaurant, Butterfield, is also sure to attract foodies from near and far. I should mention that the wallpaper in the bar and club room adjacent to the restaurant is on point—right up there with the amazing wallpaper at 501 Union (one of the reasons why I fell in love with that venue in the first place).

And now for the nitty gritty on hosting a wedding at the Hasbrouck House. For small weddings with less than 50 guests, hosting the ceremony and reception at Butterfield is an option, using the indoor and outdoor spaces of the restaurant. But for larger weddings, everything will take place outdoors, with the ceremony and cocktail hour being held on the lawn and dinner and dancing taking place on the bluestone patio under a tent. The ideal capacity for a sit-down dinner on the patio is 150 guests, with up to 180 guests being able to be accommodated for a cocktail-style, floating supper reception. 

One of the benefits of a wedding at the Hasbrouck House is that Butterfield is the exclusive caterer, so that’s one less vendor for couples to source and coordinate. And when hosting a wedding at the Hasbrouck House, a buyout of all of the rooms for the weekend is required. But who wouldn’t want to have the entire property to themselves and their guests? 

Hasbrouck House still has good availability for Fall 2017 weddings, so if you’re recently engaged and hoping for a 2017 wedding, then do not miss the chance to tour the Hasbrouck House. And since they do require that all couples hire a third-party coordinator, yours truly can help you plan your wedding to perfection!

Liz and Adam's Movie-Themed Wedding at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria

Now that 2017 is upon us, I, like many business owners, like to take time to reflect on the events of 2016. One of my favorite parts of that process is flipping through photos and catching up on last year’s weddings. One wedding in particular that stands out is Liz and Adam’s movie-themed wedding at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

All photos by Chaz Cruz Photographers
All photos by Chaz Cruz Photographers

What made that wedding special (aside from taking place at one of my favorite wedding venues in all of New York City) was the level of detail that Liz and Adam put into the day, making each and every part of it their own. Every detail had a purpose and a meaning. And the result was a night that their guests will not soon forget.

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Liz and Adam started their day at The Paper Factory Hotel, getting wedding-ready with their bridesmaids and groomsladies, respectively.

After a sweet first look, portraits galore (The Paper Factory Hotel has infinite spots for cool photo opps) and a quick smooch sesh in the phone booth, Liz and Adam departed for the Museum of the Moving Image with their ladies and families in tow. 

Wedding party portraits included a recreation of a James Bond movie poster, tossing of inflatable emojis, and perhaps one of the best wedding party photos ever inside of the movie theater, complete with 3D glasses. 

For the ceremony, Liz and Adam created custom graphics and mini-movies that ran before they entered in order to get guests into the true movie spirit. The ceremony itself was one of the most honest, raw and beautiful ceremonies I have ever witnessed. There was literally not a single dry eye in the house. 

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Following the ceremony, the newly minted bride and groom departed the theater to the soundtrack of “Let’s All Go to the Lobby,” officially kicking off the night’s festivities. At dinner, guests were greeted with their own tub of popcorn, stunning and colorful centerpieces by Sachi Rose Floral Design Co. and James Bond film table names.

After lots of delicious food, heartwarming toasts and a surprise acapella performance by some of the couple’s friends, the party moved to the museum’s café and lobby where Liz and Adam’s meticulously planned playlist had guests dancing for the remainder of the night. My two favorite parts of the reception were the candy concessions (who doesn’t want to snack on Twizzlers all night) and the cake table, which was packed with Momofuku Milk Bar cakes and Star Wars-themed cake toppers.

Every inch of Liz and Adam’s wedding was documented beautifully by Chaz Cruz. I don’t think there would have been a more perfect photographer to capture the love, attitude and spark of Liz and Adam and their memorable day.

To see more photos from Liz and Adam's wedding, along with the full list of amazing vendors that helped make it all possible, pop over to their wedding gallery.

#ColorPopWCW: NY Wedding Stationery Designer, Jackie Mangiolino of Sincerely, Jackie

Get out the tissues, folks, because today's Woman Crush Wednesday is a bit of a tear jerker (but happy tears, I promise!). I met Jackie of Sincerely, Jackie just about two years ago after Jaine from Brklyn View Photography suggested we meet. We immediately bonded over our past careers in Corporate America and how, as a business owner, there's no one to pat you on the back any more except yourself. Over the last couple of years, Jackie has been a sounding board, a confidant, a creative partner and a dear friend. And most recently, Jackie became a mom. To make a very long story short, Jackie was admitted to the hospital in May with severe preeclampsia and potentially HELLP syndrome. A week later, her baby boy, Richie, was born at 26 weeks old, weighing 2 pounds, 2 ounces. Over the last few weeks, I have watched Jackie exude endless strength, courage and optimism. I am happy to report that Richie is doing well so far and growing stronger everyday! I recently got to meet him and immediately burst into tears when I watched Jackie hold him. You can follow Jackie's and Richie's journey on Instagram

When did you start Sincerely, Jackie?
Sincerely, Jackie was launched in 2013, and was the result of a rebrand from a different business (also in the stationery field) that I had since 2008. 

Why did you decide to start your own business?
At first my "business" was something I did part time as an excuse to learn as much as I could about stationery and invitation production. I dove into all of the technical details behind invitation design - etiquette, print methods, typography, calligraphy, fonts, paper quality, etc. - all while working full time and attending graduate school. In 2014 I made the decision to leave my full-time job to focus on Sincerely, Jackie. That was a difficult decision, because I loved my full-time job, but ultimately I knew having my business would offer me more flexibility and freedom, especially when starting a family. 

What sets you apart from other wedding stationery designers?
I don't just offer pretty designs, I offer my expertise in all aspects of invitations, including etiquette. In my years working with couples, I have found that they really rely on their stationer to give them guidance on the invitation "rules". I always advise my couples when it comes to proper wording, grammar, addressing, and nuanced details - while still making sure the invitations look beautiful. It's so frustrating for me when I see non-Sincerely, Jackie couples send invitations that aren't done correctly because the guests might blame the couple, but really it's their stationer that should have advised them better! 

Photo by Whyman Studios

Do you have an all-time favorite invitation suite that you designed?
That's like asking a parent who their favorite child is! I don't think I have any one particular favorite design, but I really love any design where my clients allow a little room for creativity - in color, paper choice, print method, etc. I love taking a simple, classic design and making it completely unique through details that fit my clients.  

What's the most memorable event you ever attended as a guest?
An intimate farm-to-table dinner in Italy. It wasn't a formal event, but I'll never forget it! 

What advice would you give to other women starting their own businesses?
Just do you, and focus on being the best you there is. Also, try to be smart in your spending - I've seen so many businesses fail in the first few years because they can't get themselves to turn a profit after years of spending too much. 

Do you have any daily routines that you think are critical for having a successful and productive work day?
Coffee! I also make sure I actually get dressed every day. Even if it's just jeans and a tee, being properly dressed helps me be more focused and feel more professional during the day. 

What other business women do you look up to?
I would say Mariam Naficy, the founder and CEO of Minted, is one of the most remarkable business people I know. She's creative, innovative, and incredibly business-smart. She is also a mother, an advocate, and manages to keep a HUGE group of independent designers feel loved, heard, and appreciated. I don't know how she does it all! 

What's your favorite business book?
I really enjoyed Tina Fey's "Bossypant". But, to be honest, I'm not a huge reader of business books. I tend to read a ton of novels and feel-good beach-type books. I think it's important to find an outlet that isn't business related, and for me, that's reading.  

What's one question you'd like to answer that I didn't ask?
You didn't ask about my biggest business mistake/lesson learned, and I'd be happy to share! learned the importance of having a set process for all of my clients early on in my business, and I later learned the importance of never deviating from that process no matter who the client is. Eventually you're going to find a routine in how you operate your business, and getting away from that routine opens you up for all sorts of mistakes and problems. I don't care if your client is your mother, father, sister, or your celebrity idol - be sure to treat them (and apply the same process) as you would any other client. The last thing you ever want is to go above and beyond for somebody (read: give them "special treatment" that is outside of your normal process) and have it backfire horribly. Even if it feels a little awkward at first, it'll be worth it in the long run! 

What's your favorite color?
Light aqua

You can see more of Jackie's work over on her site and be sure to follow Sincerely, Jackie on Instagram!

The Scoop on "She Got Scooped Up"

Inspiration is a funny thing and can hit you at the most random times. The inspiration for this shoot presented itself over a year ago when Jackie, of Sincerely, Jackie, and I were prop shopping for a shoot she was doing at the time. We happened upon a shelf of vintage ice cream sundae glasses in an array of pastel colors, and we both immediately thought, we HAVE to do an ice cream theme styled shoot with sweetly fun, feminine details! Naturally, wedding season arrived and the shoot idea was put on the back burner.

But this winter, when the wedding world got quiet and creativity started to flow again, the ice cream shoot seemed to make perfect sense. Especially because the main pastel colors we were envisioning for the palette were the new Pantone colors of the year, Rose Quartz and Serenity. Then, the cutest tagline popped into my head on a walk one day: "She Got Scooped Up!". And that's how this NYC bridal shower styled shoot was born! I mean, what bride-to-be wouldn't love to celebrate her upcoming wedding with sprinkles and ice cream?!

Going into the shoot, I was clear on two things: One, that Jaine from Brklyn View Photography MUST be the one to capture it. I knew that the vision in my head would be a perfect match for Jaine's style, and her variety and attention to detail when photographing a styled shoot is like no other. And two, I wanted to cast friends as the models. Partly because I didn't want to go through the hassle of finding professionals who would flake out on me at the last minute but also because I thought it would be fun for my industry friends to get all dolled up and play dress up for a day. I was super excited to have Bethany of Twenty Something Plus as our bride and Kate of H&H Weddings, Eileen of Eileen Meny Photography and Jaclyn Weisenbeck as her bridesmaids. They could not have been more picture perfect!

For something over a year in the making, I am over the moon with how this inspiration was brought to life. Erin Braun Design took charge on the florals and styling, and hand painted a beautiful water color back drop that we used for the ice cream sundae bar. Sincerely, Jackie created the cutest waffle cone patterned place cards, a charming pink watercolor invitation and a "She Got Scooped Up!" print. FCI Catering and Events not only provided the home for the shoot, but also whipped up the signature Berry Cloud cocktail, which was perfectly topped with a tuft of cotton candy that melted when topped off with champagne. 

One of my favorite parts of the shoot was the discovery of Sweetapolita's designer sprinkles. We found the most perfect mixes and, admittedly, I bought a total of five pounds of them. I guess I was afraid we wouldn't have enough! There's also a story about how the sprinkles traveled to the shoot from Long Island City in their very own Uber, but I'll save that story for another day. For now, you can enjoy all of the light, bright and girlie bridal shower inspiration over in the Gallery

#ColorPopWCW: NYC Wedding Photographer, Mikkel Mihlrad of Mikkel Paige Photography

It's sometimes hard to remember exactly how I first meet people and it took me a little while to backtrack to figure out how I first met Mikkel. And then I remembered. Ah yes, I Instagram stalked her. I had been a fan of her work and following her on Instagram for a while when one day she posted a photo that showed her wearing one of my favorite Kate Spade bracelets (the black Goreski glasses, in case you were wondering). I commented something to the effect of "I have that bracelet too!" and we decided that it was fate that we should meet. We met up for coffee in Long Island City (when she was still living in Astoria) and the rest is history! What I love most about Mikkel is her energy, upbeat spirit, photography talent, and, of course, her love of color! I also love that she asked to reciprocate the #wcw love and feature me on her site. You can find all of that goodness here.

photo by Cassi Claire 

photo by Cassi Claire 

When did you know you wanted to be a professional photographer? 
I fell in love with photography years ago when I was a project coordinator for a creative team in Orlando, who also became the unofficial construction progress photographer. It was around that time I was getting more involved in the pro photography community and decided I wanted to second shoot weddings, which parlayed into me photographing my own. 

When did you start your business? 
2008

What sets you apart from other photographers? 
I have a style that seems to be uncommon these days: vibrant and true to color. I joke it matches my unique, colorful personality! I also sincerely love what I do, everyday, not just the good days. A lot of other vendors, from the band to wedding planners (not just guests) at weddings I photograph, continuously come up to me to compliment me and tell me they've never seen such a happy photographer. They say, "We can tell you love what you do!"  

Do you have an all-time favorite photo that you've taken? 
It's a photo from a styled shoot of a bride holding a beautiful bouquet. It's a crowd favorite! I adore the story behind it more than the photo, even though I love the photo. It was a really low key shoot in a friend's wedding dress startup headquarters (her Brooklyn apartment) that I planned. Again, it was low key. The concept was one bride, four looks. My friend Sachi, of Sachi Rose (one of my favorite florists and good friend) had a vision of this bouquet and spent a lot of personal funds to create it. I asked the "bride" (Sachi's best friend) to lean over the back of a cool chair so I could get a unique angle on the bouquet. Well, I'm happy to say I've lost count of how many times that bouquet's been featured in both online articles and print. It kind of went viral and I'm proud of it - we worked hard to come together to create that photo! 

What are some of your favorite locations to shoot?
I love new locations because I think they're really challenging. I love urban graffiti and beautiful parks. 

What advice would you give to couples who may be a little nervous about getting in front of the camera?
If you find the right personality in a photographer - not just the actual photos they take - you'll be comfy and the camera will melt away.

Are there any go-to jokes you tell to get people to smile in photos?
If you're not a well practiced photographer, don't try this at home, folks! It has to be the right couple: I get a kick out of telling a bride to grab her man's butt or a groom to go ahead and grab a boob it he feels inclined. It always makes them smile and immediately puts them in a playful mood.

What are your go-to wedding day shoes?
Flats I buy at Target!

When your couples decide to work with a wedding planner, how does that impact you?
If it's a good planner, it's amazing. I know the details will be plentiful and the schedule will be on point and he or she will work with me to succeed for the couple. If it's not a great planner, it unfortunately hinders my success. So make sure your planner is a team player with vendors, not just someone who's going to police your wedding day.

What's the most memorable event you ever attended?
ANY event? The Bloomberg company party in 2002! Wedding I've worked? My destination weddings come to mind, whether it was a small vineyard in California, a destination all-weekend wedding in Jamaica, or "local" nuptials in the north of Norway

What other business women do you look up to?
My sister and Oprah (no joke - she's incredible - she's the original successful "boss lady" in my head).

What advice would you give to other women starting their own businesses?
Patience, perseverance and sincerity. I hear people complaining their success isn't happening immediately and they want to ride on other people's coat tails for it. Have patience and persevere - and be genuine and gracious. 

Do you have any daily routines that you think are critical for having a successful and productive work day?
Every day is different for me. I try to reply to emails as fast as possible though. Communication is really key to me. Not just in business but personal relationships too! 

What's your favorite business book?
The Leadership Challenge.

What's one question you'd like to answer that I didn't ask?
Question: Why are some photographers expensive and others seem more "affordable"? (insert: planners, florists, etc.) 
Answer: They're REAL professionals doing their craft full time with expenses you probably don't consider from insurance, to equipment, to digital storage, time they spend on their couples, and more. Hence, they cost more than newbies or part-timers. I was once a part timer - so I have nothing but love for them...but their associated costs reflect their skill level. As years go on, they gain more experience and strive to be the best in their field. Hence, there are associated costs with that, just like a doctor or lawyer at the top of their field. 

What's your favorite color?
Yellow! (Hard to pick though - I love color in general.)

For more on Mikkel, check out her site and both her Instagram pages, here and here.

 

Mikkel, this one's for you, girl.

Juli and Josh's Super Colorful NYC Wedding

When one of your dear friends who also happens to be one of your favorite floral designers asks you to be her wedding planner, you jump at the chance. When Juli, of Juli Vaughn Designs, told me she wanted to plan an intimate wedding in NYC with her closest friends, I knew that it would be nothing short of magical. And it totally was. 

Juli and Josh's venue of choice was Cata, a tapas restaurant on Bowery, which proved to be the perfect home for their wedding festivities. To set the mood, Gina Paola Design covered the entire ceiling in the dining room with hanging ranunculus and installed an enormous string installation in the bar area that spanned the entire length of the bar. Juli's Atlanta friends and floral assistants assembled and decorated a copper chuppah Juli crafted and which was so stunning that we decided to leave it suspended for dinner.

Following the ceremony, Juli, Josh and all of their guests hopped aboard a double decker bus for a mini-tour of Manhattan while the restaurant prepped for cocktail hour and dinner service. The candlelit cocktail hour was the perfect mix of smiles, laughter and delicious signature cocktails. Then, sitting down to dinner, guests were treated to an array of colors with Juli's florals, colorful napkins, and hand-calligraphed agate place cards. That dining room was like my dream come true!

With their bellies full from an amazing meal, guests moved back into the bar area for cake and a visit to the ice cream sundae bar before dancing the night away. 

To see all of the amazing photos by Haley Sheffield and for a full list of all of the vendors, pop over to Juli and Josh's wedding gallery.