Monday, December 29, 2008

Contest: Bluefly's Bride War Stories

The movie Bride Wars, starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, won't be out until Jan 9th, but you can enter Bluefly's Bride War Stories Contest now! Just submit your crazy mother-in-law or bad taffeta tales to win a $1000 shopping spree.

There's also a Bridal Beatdown game where you upload your face to the body of either Liv (Kate Hudson) or Emma (Anne Hathaway) and duke it out against the other bridezilla - the perfect distraction from Monday work.

May the best bride win!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This Week In History: Hot Registry Adds, Gowns Under $1K, Diamond Ring Engagement Theme, Create-A-Cake

Your After "Yes," Before "I Do" & Everything In Between blog archive reminder has arrived! Take a look back at what we were discussing this week, one year ago.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Peace and Joy

 (photo courtesy of Gabriel Boone Photography)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Shakira & Jason: Autumn Candlelight

Today, I got to view another one of my couple's professional photos!  As always, the photographer, Airlangga Wattimena, did an awesome job and I'm so excited to share a few shots here.

I appointed Shakira my Autumn Candlelight bride for two reasons: 1) She set out to create an intimate candlelit event that exuded love and warmth; 2) She and her groom chose Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) to exchange vows, right in the thick of Fall.  So, we started with an inspiration board and through careful planning it all came together.  Shakira and Jason's primary concerns were their spirituality being acknowledged and celebrated throughout as well as lots of details to create a romantic ambiance.  Thus, Jason's father and uncle (both ministers) officiated and right before the bride walked down the aisle, a pair of praise dancers performed as a prelude to her entrance.  Other creative touches included a personalized aisle runner (designed by the groom), a wishing well in place of the traditional guest book, a Swarovski crystal adorned canopy and custom menu cards (designed by The Bridal Party).

The wedding was poetic...a cozy Friday-night fête held at The Richfield Regency in Verona, New Jersey.  Congratulations again guys!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ask Rashana: Cost Conscious

Dear Rashana,
What would be the best way to make your client feel he/she has maximized their funds correctly?

Cost Conscious

* * * * * * * * * *

Dear Cost Conscious,
I generally take 3 steps toward making sure my clients are at ease and confident that their funds will be maximized. The truth is their decision to hire and work with a planner/consultant already puts them 10 steps ahead of the game and the rest depends on proper research/education, realistic estimation and risk identification/management. My process usually includes the following:

1. Research/Education - After a couple has decided on a budget, it's very important to take it a step further and research exactly what wedding costs are in their area. Depending on what style or type event is to be planned each spending category can vary widely. For instance with food, a couple looking to hold a small gathering could find a lovely restaurant offering a family-style dinner with open bar and a wedding cake for $50 per person while a couple looking to host their guests at a historic estate with beautiful gardens and first-class service could expect a $250 per person price tag.

2. Realistic Estimation - One should never assume that it's impossible to host a large guest list without an equally large budget. There are many ways to keep costs down, but careful planning is crucial. I develop estimates of all wedding costs for my clients so there are clear benchmarks set to work toward. Managing priorities will be very important as well. For instance, if photography is an important aspect of the event, for preservation reasons, and the couple also insists that the food be an area of "splurge" then it will be important to know that up front to scale other services accordingly.  Working with a wedding planner will REALLY come in handly here, as they are equipped to offer clever and creative ideas for achieving grandeur on a smaller budget.

3. Risk Identification/Management - After a budget has been set, developing and maintaining it is key. I work together with my clients to scrupulously update and organize their budget.  It's imperative that the planner and client are always aware of what has been spent, what balances exist and what the areas of risk could be. During the last month/weeks before a wedding there are usually huge sums due to vendors and venues, so if a couple is not prepared this could cause lots of unnecessary stress. Proper management alleviates most surprises and surprise debt.

Best of luck to you, Cost Conscious

Monday, December 15, 2008

What a Sweet Way to Ask, "Will You Be My Bridesmaid?"

I came home today to a small package marked "FRAGILE." After glancing at the return address and seeing the word "wedding" I assumed I had received another communication or sample from a wedding vendor interested in working with me. But to my surprise, the boxed contained a large cookie with my name printed up at the top. I was being asked to be a bridesmaid on a cookie! Wasn't that sweet?

Check out WeddingStand for other edible card options. There are tons of designs and embellishments to choose from as far as their selection of edibles, but there is also a plethora of favors, bridal accessories and gifts to browse.
- - - - - - - - - -
by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Flavor of the Month: December 2008

This month we're highlighting an essential nutrient that makes up 70-75% of the human body ... water! The bottled water trend is still very much alive, and for some, carrying just any bottle of water is just not cool. Luckily, there are a few much more favorable options.

Our FlAVORs of the Month for December 2008 are ...

Christian Lacroix "Prêt-à-Porter"
2008 Limited Edition Evian® Water

Evian® dressed in Christian Lacroix! The bottle comes decorated with glittering snowy crystals that charmingly symbolize the purity of this natural spring water. The coppiced lace pattern provides the bottle with a classic frosted feel and is reminiscent of the flora that can be found at the French Alps. Distinguished, understated and so very Lacroix, it will add that final touch of chic and elegance to every festive table.

Bling H2O Crystal-Encrusted Bottled Water

More than a pretty taste ... calling itself “the Cristal of bottled water,” Bling H2O is pop culture in a bottle. It comes in limited-edition, frosted, corked bottles (the size and shape of wine bottles), hand-decorated with Swarovski crystals. The best thing is the bottles are recyclable, perfect for those interested in refilling the Bling bottles with regular supermarket spring water later. (wink)

This unique treasure succeeds at ensuring your special occasion is decorated with elegance. The bottles are fully decorated with stunning Swarovski crystal stars and shiny crown caps. Natural spring water inside comes from Kobe, Japan, the premium location famous for Japanese wine - SAKE. The perfect complement to any gorgeous table setting.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Holidays, from The Andersons

I came across OfficeMax's Elf Yourself last year, and again I just couldn't resist! I had to join in the fun this year as well. So, here's to a good chuckle all the way from Central New Jersey.

Happy Holidays!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Love This Place!

A good wedding planner and perhaps a healthy budget can transform even an old musty barn into a magical romantic setting for the beginning of the rest of your life. But, if by chance the stars don't quite align, it's all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! The decor of certain venues and the character lying within certain historical sites can serve as the ultimate spring-board to the perfect ambiance for your event. Here are my favorite locations for weddings in our area:

The Pleasantdale Chateau, West Orange NJ
Beautiful estate, situated on 40 acres of formal gardens, rolling lawns and shaded ponds. Features a round grand ballroom, indoor pool and handsome honeymoon suite on the premises.

The Palm House at The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn NY
Victorian setting that is a replica of the original Garden Conservatory, surrounded by 52 acres of gardens. Conveniently located just 3 miles from New York City.

The Imperia, Somerset NJ
Only about 3 years old and allows for whimsical or sophisticated needs. An outdoor stone patio is also available for ceremonies and garden settings.

Private Park - Hudson Hotel, New York NY
In the heart of the Hudson Hotel's elevated lobby is an enchanting Private Park with towering 45-foot trees, ivy-covered walls, and an inspired assortment of antique and modern garden furniture.

Dolce Basking Ridge, Basking Ridge NJ
The ideal destination for memorable celebrations. The property boasts several ballrooms as well as a phenomenal bridal suite and stunning outdoor courtyard.

Gotham Hall, New York NY
Here, events are staged against awesome turn-of-the-century architecture...especially that of the seven-story gilded ballroom. A remarkable New York City catering hall that combines the style of Manhattan’s Broadway with the sophistication and tradition of New York’s finest architecture.

The Newark Museum, Newark NJ
The Museum offers a variety of spaces for entertaining, including the elegant Engelhard Court, the richly decorated Ballantine House, the beautiful Alice Ransom Dreyfuss Memorial Garden, and the Billy Johnson Auditorium, as well as spacious art galleries.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Labor Of Love

Along with my mother and cousin, I'm planning one of the most important events of my year...the celebration of my great-grandmother's 100th birthday! My great-grandmother, who our family affectionately calls "Nanny," was born in 1908 and she's one of the most strong and beautiful women I know. She is the eldest of 23 siblings, mother of 3, grandmother of 7, great-grandmother of 8 and second great-grandmother of 7 and on December 27th (1 day after she becomes a centenarian), we will gather for lunch, music, reflection, fellowship, love and prayer to honor and celebrate her.

I designed invitations of a delicate brown and pink (pictured above) that are being mailed today and I am really excited. Even though my business is party planning, this is undoubtedly a labor of love. Her "Bubba" (the nickname she gave me as a baby and still fondly uses 30 years later) wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rashana Anderson & The Bridal Party featured on The Smart Planner™ Blog!

The day I discovered The Smart Planner™ blog I was elated. It is brilliantly written by Arizona wedding planner Liene Stevens, owner of Blue Orchid Designs, and is a wonderful resource for wedding/event planners. I'm happy to say The Smart Planner™ blog has stretched my outlook on the business of wedding planning, therefore, I am so honored to now have been featured in the "Meet The Planners" series.

"The Smart Planner™ is committed to raising the bar and to providing
business resources to wedding and event planners who share our core philosophies of professional excellence, generosity, integrity and good old-fashioned common sense."

Thanks Liene ... for featuring me as well as for providing such a phenomenal tool, challenging and coaching us wedding/event planners to never allow ourselves to stop growing, studying and serving.

Read the interview now.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This Week In History: Groom's Cakes, NJ Wedding Costs, Warm Save-The-Dates, Old Hollywood Glamour

Your After "Yes," Before "I Do" & Everything In Between blog archive reminder has arrived! Take a look back at what we were discussing this week, one year ago.

(photo courtesy of RedBliss)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Job Well Done

The Bridal Party's Autumn Candlelight Bride tied-the-knot this passed Friday night at The Richfield Regency. The bride and groom worked together with me for 10 months planning this romantic and intimate celebration which featured a chocolate/dahlia palette and loads of special touches such as a personalized aisle runner (designed by the groom), a wishing well in the place of a traditional guest book, a Swarovski crystal adorned canopy, custom menu cards and candles, candles, candles! This couple was such a pleasure to work with and all involved did an outstanding job.

Below are a few snapshots of the day ... but professional photographs are coming soon! Stay tuned.

Also, special thanks to Jocelyn for assisting (always an absolute life-saver).

P.S.  The groom is a graphic designer and decided to design and print the wedding programs himself, which came out beautifully.  When I saw the final version the night of the wedding, I noticed the couple added the following passage to the thank-yous on the back cover:
"Last but definitely not least, we would like to thank Rashana Anderson of The Bridal Party LLC for being the phenomenal wedding planner that you are.  It is because of you that this wedding will indeed be a success, by shedding valuable insight and creative ideas that we would have never though of, and for that we thank you so very much."

... and that's why I love what I do.  Things like this make it all so worth it!

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