Thursday, December 17, 2009

Real Weddings: Lynn & Jonathan Part 1

Today I have some beautiful photographs from Lynn & Jonathan's September wedding to share with you. All the photos were taken by Tracy and Gary at Priore Photograpy & Video. The great thing about Priore (besides their awesome photos!) is that you can book both your photos and video through them, which works out really well because they work together as a team, and let's face's one less vendor to worry about!

Lynn's dress was made by Sposabella, and she was a radiant and carefree bride. Here is a photo of Lynn and her Dad entering St. Joseph's Cathedral...

The minute the service was over, it started pouring! The photographers had to go with the "rain plan", which was photos at the brand new Embassy Suites in the Avant Building downtown. It was the first time Tracy had taken photos there, and look how beautiful they turned out!

Lynn's bouquet featured ivory roses and blue hydrangea. It was wrapped with an ivory ribbon, and we tied an heirloom pearl necklace around the stems.

Stay tuned...more photos of this lovely wedding to come!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Confetti: Win an Engagement Ring!!

What are you doing New Year's Eve? If you are the lucky winner of my client's contest, you could be proposing marriage on stage at the party of the year - The Ice Ball! In addition to being an awesome party, they have just announced a fabulous contest - The Ultimate New Year's Eve Proposal Contest. The Ice Ball has teamed up with Mills Jewelers in Lockport and the Hampton Inn and Suites Buffalo Downtown to present one lucky winner with an engagement ring and the unique opportunity to propose marriage on stage at Midnight. This contest offers a grand prize of:
  • $2,500 towards the purchase of an engagement ring from Mills Jewelers in Lockport
  • A Jacuzzi Suite at The Hampton Inn and Suites Buffalo Downtown (valued at $500)
  • Two Dinner and General Admission tickets to The Ice Ball (valued at $250)
Entrants can submit their stories online and will be judged on content, creativity, and originality. Full contest details can be found here.

How's that for saving some money on your wedding? :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Confetti: The Wake Wins an Outstanding Event Award

Last February, we coordinated The Wake - an annual fundraiser for the Irish Classical Theatre Company. The event recently won an outstanding event award for 2009 from the Buffalo Niagara Event Professionals! This was the first year Distinctive Occasions had the privilege to be involved with the event. Thanks to a fabulous committee, dedicated staff and volunteers the event was such a success!

Over 500 people turned out on a cold February night to bid a raucous, Irish-style farewell to our dearly departed friend, Aidan Doogood. Tickets included wine and beer, food, live music by Penny Whiskey and Stone Row, and interactive entertainment. A funeral procession led by a bagpiper kicked off the evening’s festivities, complete with Irish dancers. The deceased’s coffin was processed out of a hearse parked outside the entrance. “Mourners” participated in the “Reading of the Will” (live auction) the “Estate Sale” (basket raffle), and mingled with with Aidan’s bereaved “family and friends” (local actors).

This was an outstanding event because all of the elements aligned in a seamless way which led to its success. The theme of the event was carried through in every aspect of the evening. The marketing campaign, the choice of venue, the activities, the food & drink, the entertainment, and the décor all supported and enhanced this unique theme. The venue, the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, fit the event perfectly. The building, with its expansive space and stained glass windows actually looks like a church. The marketing campaign by Crowley Webb created buzz and anticipation, setting the tone for the event. Posters featured cartoonish depictions of Aidan’s “family and friends” who were then played by actors at the event. Beer coasters were distributed to local pubs and taverns offering discounted tickets, and the website cleverly incorporated the dark humor of the event. Attendees arrived expecting a great party, and they were not disappointed. The unique nature of The Wake encourages interactive participation, and attendees participated wholeheartedly. They served as pallbearers, gave toasts, danced, and sang songs to the departed, all under the direction of Father Malarkey who presided over the event. There was strong community involvement from local businesses, who gave both monetary and in-kind donations. Buffalo’s own Flying Bison Brewing Company brewed a signature oatmeal stout, Irish Tears (“Stop yer cryin’ and drink.”), especially for the event. The Gourmet Store created delicious Irish themed foods, and used clever names such as “Deadly Dessert Bar” and “Blarney Stone Bruschetta” for the food stations. Décor included Irish beer bottles used as vases with farewell messages to the departed written on them. The fresh approach taken by the committee helped draw new attendees and encouraged a festive and spontaneous atmosphere. This was the fifth year The Wake was held, and revenues increased despite the economy. It was well organized and well run, and attendees celebrated in true Irish fashion.

Don't miss this year's party to die for! Save the date for Friday, March 12th, 2010 at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum. For more information, visit

Monday, November 9, 2009

Money Mondays: Double Duty

A great way to save some money on your wedding or party is by having items, such as place cards, work double duty.

These snowflake place cards holders can double as favors for a winter event. You can even use a longer ribbon and tie them around napkins at each place setting.

Blumebuds from Blumebox are so cute, and come in 12 different styles. They hold one stem, and add to the table they can serve as place cards and favors!

So instead of spending money on place cards, favors, and table decor - try to find one item that serves all of these purposes!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Weddings: Halloween Wedding

I recently received a call from a local magazine who was doing a story on wacky weddings. They wanted me to dish the dirt on all my wacky weddings. I was quite disappointed that I couldn't make any additions to their story. I have never had a couple with a themed wedding or anything wacky enough to speak of. How boring am I?! Calling all wacky wedding couples - I know you are out there...this is your invitation to give me a call!

Speaking of wacky, Halloween Weddings can be wacky, but they can also be romantic and chic. Here is some inspiration for a chic Halloween themed wedding...

{Clockwise from top left: Invitation available on Etsy; Candy Corn martini from Food Network; Halloween Dessert Buffet ; Adorable bat place cards from Martha Stewart; Custom stamps available at Zazzle; Photo from The Knot; Chandelier; Boo; Orange Tulips and Calla Lilies; Mask; and my personal favorite in the middle - a gorgeous black gown.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Confetti: Pantone Spring 2010 Color Trends

Pantone, the global authority on color, recently released its Fashion Color Report for Spring 2010. If you are searching for colors for your next event, this may help provide some inspiration!

According to Pantone, "Designers bring splashes of sunshine to the runway for spring 2010. Vibrant brights add a sense of excitement to the color palette, while practical neutrals provide a safety net for cautious consumers."

Check out these lovely colors...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Weddings: Lynn & Jonathan

Last weekend we had the pleasure of working on the wedding of Lynn and Jonathan. Their ceremony was at St. Joseph's Cathedral and the reception took place in the Statler Towers Terrace Room. Lynn and Jonathan are a fun couple who are very easy going, and their love for life and one another definitely shined through the whole day. The crowd of mostly out of town guests enjoyed all the fabulous things Downtown Buffalo has to offer...including the brand new Embassy Suites in the Avant Building on Delaware Avenue. You should definitely check out this beautiful hotel!

Really sweet story...I was pinning on Jonathan's boutonniere and I asked him if he was nervous. He said "Absolutely not - I have never been more prepared for anything in my life." What a guy!! Here is a photo of the happy couple after they took their vows.

The set up at the Statler Terrace Room was just gorgeous. Their colors were "Carolina Blue" and Chocolate Brown. We incorporated a subtle star theme into the design, as one of their dates involved gazing at constellations (so romantic!). The centerpieces had tiny blue lights hanging off the branches, and the tables were named after constellations. The ivory floor length linen and mahogany chivari chairs enhanced the elegance of the room with its grand windows and high ceilings. Professional pictures will follow, but here are a few I managed to snap...

Guests enjoyed a candy buffet which coordinated with their chosen colors....

It was a beautiful wedding and I feel honored to have worked with such a wonderful couple and their families!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chic hair accessories

A great way to add some personality to your wedding attire is with a hair accessory. We have had a couple brides this year who wore the traditional veil for the ceremony, and then removed it for the reception and added a unique accessory. Check out these pretty looks...

Chic hair

Monday, August 31, 2009

Money Mondays: Teaming Up

A great way to save money on your wedding is by teaming up with other brides. The Wedding Bee Classifieds has an online listing of used wedding items such as paper lanterns, charger plates, card boxes, gowns...basically anything you can think of. There are some pretty good deals to be found.

You can also ask wedding coordinators for help. I have a pretty extensive inventory of rental items that are available for rent to anyone, not just coordination clients. In addition, I deal with many brides on a daily basis, and may be able to help you share things with them such as vases, candy buffet jars, place card holders, table numbers and more. When you are planning a wedding, you want it to be uniquely yours - I get that. It's my job to take the same items and make them work for both of you. What could be better than two happy brides who paid half the price for their wedding decor!

Here's an example of the same container (a hurricane vase) used for two different events...

A wedding centerpiece designed by Distinctive Occasions for a Fall wedding.

A centerpiece designed by Distinctive Occasions for a New Year's Eve party.

With a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can save money without sacrificing the overall look of your wedding!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Real Weddings: Amy and Patrick

I recently worked on a gorgeous wedding with Amy and Patrick. Their ceremony was held at St. Joseph's Cathedral, and the reception at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. The Hyatt recently underwent some major renovations, and it definitely shows! If you haven't been there since your High School Prom you should check it out - I promise you won't be disappointed!

It was a beautiful day (no rain for once!), and everything about this wedding was exquisite. Amy has fabulous taste (check out her stunning gown!), both families were wonderful, the couple had a great time, and the day flowed so smoothly. We did have the occasional "blip" (Patrick's dad lost a button before the ceremony, we were asked to convert some of the women's pin on corsages to wrist corsages, we finessed a couple of issues with decor and cake at the reception site, etc.), but that is our job - and the bride and groom never knew. The benefit of hiring an experienced team of professionals for your wedding is that we gracefully handle all the little things so that you can relax and enjoy your day. Plus, we manage the flow of the day, communicate with all the vendors, and make sure that everything proceeds as it should. Here are some photos of the day taken by Robert Knight of Knight Photography, who I highly recommend:

The beautiful bride.

St. Joseph's Cathedral is a lovely location for a ceremony - it didn't even need any extra decor.

Could this family be any more good looking?!

Wow - what a great photo!

The little details truly make a difference. Amy chose to do all purple orchids at the reception, and the effect was breathtaking!

Amy & Pat - best wishes for the future and thank you for letting us be part of your day!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Money Mondays: DIY Wedding Stationary

It is easier than you may think to create your own wedding stationary. If you don't have the skills to design the items yourselves, you can hire a designer to create a monogram and other stationary pieces for you to use. You can use a monogram on programs, menu cards, water bottles, place cards, table numbers, favor tags...the possibilities are endless. Check out Etsy for affordable graphic design services.

Envelopper Inc. is a fantastic site where you can order blank card stock, table tents, favor tags & more already cut to your preferred size. They offer a large variety of colors, and you can usually run the cards right through your home printer.

When all your stationary is coordinated, it gives your wedding a more polished look.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Money Mondays: Signature Drinks

No doubt about it - an open bar at any event can put a strain on your wallet. Rather than offering a full open bar, you may want to consider limiting the bar to a few signature drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) for guests to choose from. You can match the colors & names of the drinks to the theme of your event. If it is for a wedding, you can design it based upon your honeymoon location, the place you met, or a name it after a shared interest. The possibilities are endless! You can ask your caterer for suggestions in your color scheme, or you can search online.

Guests love having fun drinks to choose from, and you will save money without making it look like you are skimping.

{Source: Brides}

Check out this adorable custom cocktail menu card designed by Belletristics.

To add even more personal touches, you can design customized stir sticks at For Your Party, or make your own flags for stir sticks like in this photo from Style Me Pretty.

Instructions for these DIY stir stick flags can be found here.

Signature drinks are easy on the budget, and add stylish touches to your event - I'll drink to that!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Money Mondays: Adorn Brides Fine Jewelry Rentals

Want to look like a million bucks on your wedding day without the high price tag? Consider renting a beautiful piece of jewelry from Adorn Brides. We are pleased to announce a partnership with Adorn Brides, allowing you to bring some "red carpet" elegance to your big day at a fraction of the cost. Simply reserve your rentals online at Adorn Brides, and they will ship the jewelry to your door a few days before your wedding. When you're done, all you have to do is ship it back - it's that easy!!

Use our exclusive promotional code below, and save 10% on your jewelry rental!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eye Candy: Cocktail Napkins

Don't you just love these adorable cocktail napkins from Harvey & Strait? They would be the perfect addition to a lovely summer party table! With so many colors and patterns to choose from, there's sure to be one to fit your party!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Money Mondays: Make the most of your wedding flowers

A great way to save money without sacrificing the overall look of the wedding is to make your flowers work double duty.

At a recent wedding we designed, we used the same flowers at the church and reception. Check out these gorgeous vases flanking the altar at the church. Flowers by Johnny did a beautiful job on the flowers for this wedding at a reasonable price.

Then at the reception, these same vases framed the sweetheart table.

We purchased silver julep cups with detachable pew clips, and had the florist fill them with hydrangeas and roses. They looked beautiful on every other pew at the church.

After the ceremony, the clips were removed and the julep cups used on the guest tables and on the windowsills at the reception.

When the wedding party arrived at the reception, we took the girl's bouquets and placed them in vases on the cake table and the sweetheart table. The vases were accented with ribbon and fastened with antique broaches.

{All photos by Michael Alan Photography}

If you don't have a coordinator to transport all these items for you, just ask your florist. For a small fee, they should be able to set up the flowers at the ceremony and reception sites.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weddings: Rebecca & Jason

We recently had the privilege of designing and coordinating the beautiful Spring wedding of Rebecca & Jason. They met on an airplane, and their wedding theme was "love is in the air". The reception was held at the Marcy Casino at Delaware Park, and we transformed the venue into a beautiful space for them. The cocktail hour was held on the second floor, and the decor was fun and whimsical, utilizing apple green and aubergine as the main colors. Here are some photos from the cocktail hour taken by the very talented Michael of Michael Alan Photography.

We utilized potted plants that came with the venue, and wrapped them with fabric. Green fugi mums served as simple centerpieces for the cocktail tables. If you want to save money on your floral budget, these fugi mums are large, inexpensive, and really make a statement.

We had two logos designed for the couple - the one above for the cocktail hour, and another for the reception. Their signature cocktail was a "Marry Me Margarita" which, in addition to being yummy, also matched the green and purple color scheme!

We created a chandelier with tissue paper pomanders from PomLove. This photo doesn't capture the whole room, but it looked AMAZING! They really transformed the space.

And finally, an adorable floral arrangement for the hors d'oeuvres table.

I'll share some more photos from this lovely wedding in the upcoming weeks.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Money Mondays: The Cost of Weddings

Given the current state of the economy, I have been finding that one of the things engaged couples are most worried about is the wedding budget. Let's face it - weddings are not cheap. The good news is there are many ways to save make smart choices. In the upcoming weeks, I will be posting money saving tips on Mondays. I wanted to start out with a great post by Liene Stevens Blue Orchid Designs that gives some insight into how wedding costs can add up so quickly.

Original post from Blue Orchid Designs - August 9, 2007 and printed below...

Yuck. Money. The subject no one wants to talk about but we all have to deal with, especially when it comes to weddings. And it's no secret that weddings are expensive - even an intimate, backyard ceremony with a handful of guests can stretch the wallet fairly quickly. I wanted to get into the reasoning behind some of the common pricetags and help put some of the sticker shock at ease.

But it's just some pretty paper: Invitations
A good rule of thumb when budgeting for invitations is this: a decent (read: nice quality, but not necessarily elaborate) invitation should cost around the same price as a greeting card. While we may buy greeting cards here and there as the occasion calls for it, you normally don't purchase 150+ greeting cards all at the same time. If you want a custom invitation, you can expect to pay more because you are compensating the artist for her designs, proofs, revisions and edits, assembly and general labor.

All you're doing is pushing a button: Photography & Videography
If all you want from your wedding are pictures that look like snapshots your slightly inebriated Uncle Frank took, then there are plenty of moonlighting hobbyists-who-call-themselves-professionals to choose from. If you want art and photographs that will capture the emotion of the day, then realistically you need to expect to pay more. Photography can easily be one of the most spendy parts of the wedding and for good reason - when all is said and done, that is what you will have left (well, that and your spouse of course!). I have met many, many married women who regret going cheap with their photography. Also, the final product usually doesn't come out of the camera ready to go - a lot of behind-the-scenes editing and design goes into producing great photos. If you're having video, you can count on hours of editing, including finding the right moments to splice things in, cueing the appropriate music to match, etc.

So you're like JLo in that movie: Wedding Planners
No, I'm not like JLo and wow, did she make my job look easy! Hollywood has a knack for doing that though, don't they? The biggest thing you are paying the planner for is her time - the average wedding takes more than 250 hours to plan and there are only 52 weekends in a year. Both of these facts limit how much we can take on and commit to. It may seem like you are paying the planner for one day, but in reality 250 hours translates into more than six 40-hour work weeks. And that's just for your normal, run-of-the-mill wedding. If you want something unique and special, even more time is involved.

They are just going to die tomorrow anyway: Flowers
Even flowers from the grocery store can be pricy - that is just the nature of a live element. When purchasing flowers, you are paying for so many things - the grower's cut (planting, growing, watering, feeding, harvesting), the packaging and shipping of them in a manner that they will not wilt or die on the way to your location, and then the florist's fees (design, watering, prepping them with special concoctions that prolong their lifespan, arranging, delivering, etc). Yes, a lot goes into those pretty bouquets.

It's just some fancy chicken: Food
Hands down, food is usually the most expensive item on the budget, and again quantity plays a big role. A nice dinner for two can sometimes be a splurge and when you're feeding 150+ mouths - well, I'll let you do the math. It is also important to look at quality when you are choosing your menu, and quality costs more, just like it does in every other part of life.

There are lots of areas of weddings that I didn't cover here, but I wanted to give a quick overview of some of them. The time-tested adage "you get what you pay for" has been proven over and over again with weddings. You don't need to break the bank on your wedding or try to keep up with the Joneses - but it is important to go into the wedding planning process with an understanding of where your money is going so that you can best prioritize its use.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Weddings: Jillian & Patrick

I had the pleasure of working on a July 4th wedding with Jillian and Patrick. They are a gorgeous couple (hopefully I will get some photos to share soon!), and the wedding took place at Shanghai Reds on the Buffalo waterfront. Shanghai Reds is a wonderful location for a event, and has multiple indoor and outdoor spaces depending on the size of your event and your particular requirements. Jillian and Patrick held their ceremony right on the lawn - the setting was so picturesque.

Holding the ceremony and reception in the same location is convenient for guests, and a great way to save some money, too. These chairs served double duty - we used them for the ceremony and then moved them inside for the reception while the guests were enjoying cocktail hour on the outdoor patio.

Here are some photos of the Skyline room, where their reception was held...

The primary color was royal blue, and Jill added some green accents with the table numbers and favors, which were boxes of mints. There were many decorative highlights of interest. I wish I had taken better photos, but I was a busy bee! They rented custom linens with silver sparkles that looked like fireworks, royal blue glasses, napkins and chair sashes added color in a classy way, blue uplighting around the room looked fantastic once the sun went down, and the chandeliers were decorated with lanterns and strands of orchids. Escort cards were matchbooks, which guests used later in the evening to light sparklers during the fireworks. Fireworks at your wedding...what could be better - it was beautiful!

Jill's sister made these lovely centerpieces for the guest tables...

These centerpieces are budget friendly, and not too difficult to make. She used curly willow and tealights, with gel that looked like water at the bottom of the vase. The florist glued fresh orchids onto the branches. Simple and elegant - I love them!

It was a beautiful wedding, the weather cooperated, and Jill & Pat and their guests danced the night away. I am grateful to have been a part of their day!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Confetti: Fun with towels

Over the weekend, I attended a bridal shower for a friend who is getting married soon. It was a lovely shower with teal and pink accents. The bridal party and the hosts dressed in pink - too cute! I bought towels off her registry, and made this towel cake with them.


-Take 4 bath towels, 4 hand towels, 4 washcloths
-Roll them together and secure using fishing line on the top and bottom of each layer (you can also use pins if you prefer)
-Stick a dowel through the middle of the cake for support
-Cover the fishing line with two layers of ribbon
-Hot glue silver jewels onto the ribbon (or anything else you want)
-Thread crystal flowers through the fishing line and behind the ribbon
-Take silk flowers, cut off most of the stems and leaves with wire cutters, and stick them in between the layers of towels and on the top
-Finish it off with a pretty bow on top

This was a really fun project, although it definitely took a lot of time!

Playing with towels reminded me of this great company....Le Viette makes towels to resemble desserts, and you can use them as favors, gifts, etc...

{source: Le Viette)

How adorable are these?!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Party Time: US Navy Retirement

We had the privilege of coordinating and decorating a retirement ceremony and celebration for a Chief Petty Officer of the US Navy that I wanted to share with you. It was held on the fantail of the USS Little Rock on the Buffalo waterfront. This is truly a unique location to host an event! They allow you to hold anything from a casual party to a wedding right on the fantail of the ship! Here's a photo...

{Photo by Klaus Brink at}

The location did present some challenges (including the famous Buffalo waterfront wind and ladies walking up the grated stairs in heels), but I think we rose to the occasion! It was a beautiful day and a beautiful ceremony. Here are some detail shots of the decor...

The decor was simple and affordable, and everything was decorated in the colors of the Navy. Blueberries in a vase with a single red gerbera daisy is simple and striking! I purchased a stamp with the Petty Officer symbol and stamped the symbol on each cocktail napkin. Finally, tables centerpieces were galvanized pails with American Flags and stars that held photos of the Officer's family. It was important that she honor her daughters, and we used photos of them at different stages of their lives and attached them to foam stars. An inexpensive, yet creative way to personalize the decor.

Other centerpieces were galvanized pails with blue hydrangeas in them...

Navy blue paper lanterns were hung to add a festive flair...

All in all, we really transformed the ship into a unique and classy space for this celebration! A great time was had by all!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Confetti: Women's corsages - pin it on or slip it on?

I wanted to address the subject of corsages for the females involved in your wedding. Customarily, corsages are ordered for the Mother of the Bride, Mother of the Groom, and any other females you would like to honor such as Grandmothers, Aunts, Godmothers, Ceremony readers, Sisters, and so on.

While this may seem like a trivial thing to worry about in the scope of your wedding, it is one of the many details that I come across on a daily basis and I wanted to bring it to your attention.

Traditionally, women wore pin-on corsages, and some florists still suggest these. However, I find wrist corsages to be much more practical. You can even order pretty bracelets to enhance the look if you don't like the plain elastic. As someone that pins on corsages for multiple weddings, I find the pin-on's for women to be particularly problematic. If the woman's dress is not made with a substantial material, the corsage doesn't always sit straight on the dress. So I am forced to poke multiple pin holes in the dress, or pin it all the way through to their bra, and sometimes the corsage still doesn't sit straight - especially when the dress is made of a lighter weight fabric. The woman is left to worry about their corsage all night, when they should be focusing on the wedding and having a good time.

At a recent wedding, I had two women who were unhappy with the pin-on corsages the bride had chosen for them. They asked me to convert their pin-on's to wrist corsages on the spot. Being the resourceful planner that I am, I was able to do this and everyone was happy! But you may not have these resources at your wedding, so it is best to plan ahead. Please take into consideration what the women are wearing, and it doesn't hurt to ask them which type they would prefer to wear. That way everyone will be happy and be able to enjoy the day to its fullest!

{Source: Pin-on corsage, Wrist Corsage}