Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Royal Wedding: Our Recap

It seems the Royal Wedding went off without a hitch.  It was exciting, romantic and awesomely memorable.  Throughout the weekend there's sure to be continued coverage of the day's events from different points of view and varied outlooks.  But for us, the stand-outs were the brothers, the ritualistic pomp and circumstance and the dress!

The Brothers
While touched by many of the special moments surrounding Prince William and Catherine Middleton's wedding, my personal tear-jerker was the departure of Prince William and his brother, Prince Harry, from Clarence House riding together to Westminster Abbey.  The love between the two princes is obvious, as is the spirit of their mother, Princess Diana, who continues to shine through them.  Also, their uniforms were impeccable ... not at all pretentious, just exuded genuine pride.  William was dashingly handsome in red - wearing the tunic of an Irish Guards officer, as he holds the honorary rank of Colonel of the Irish Guards.  Although he is a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force and could have worn that uniform, he chose to be a bit bold.  His mother would have been so proud.
The Pomp and Circumstance 
One of the elements of British culture admired most is their respect and preservation of tradition and history.  There is definitely something to be said of properly honoring the past and kneeling humbly to it.  As expected, each action was carefully choreographed and most every gesture, abundantly meaningful.  When my husband and I traveled to England, we marveled at the focus on intricacy.  We felt like kids in a candy store, touring the city of London as well as the English country-side.  There's much to be said about attention to detail.  It really makes a difference.  So, it was not at all surprising this Royal Wedding would follow suit.

The Dress
A few weeks ago I attempted to guess what style gown Catherine Middleton might choose and it turns out 3 of my choices weren't all that far off!  I had a feeling "sheer," "lace" and "non-poof" would collide when I selected styles by Collette Dinnigan, Yolan Cris and Priscilla of Boston.  I must admit, however, I was thrilled to find Kate's gown came out of the house of McQueen - a breathtaking choice, in more ways than one.

Sarah Burton, creative director for the late Alexander McQueen, dazzled the world with her design for Catherine Middleton.  What's more, the gown paid sweet and subtle homage to Grace Kelly's lacey waist-cinching bodice with voluminous skirt.  Finally, for their evening reception at Buckingham Palace, Kate chose another stunning Sarah Burton design.  Her evening ensemble - a soft, strapless, embellished gown which  felt classic yet young.  We loved, loved, LOVED both!
CONGRATULATIONS to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! 
Wishing you many years of happiness and blessings.

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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fab Find: Mini-Paper Sculptures

Check out a new and unique way to "discover the fine art of your celebration."  Paper, Gowns & Glory!  This wonderful studio specializes in custom cake toppers and paper sculptures of brides, grooms and those snazzy gowns."  All tiny sculptures are made with acid free paper and archival glue ... miniature keepsakes to enjoy your dress long after the day is done."  What could be cuter than a mini-you?

And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, floral designs and tablescapes are available too by way of Japanese, Italian, recycled and local handmade papers.
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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Here Comes The "Fascinator!"

As the world awaits what is arguably the "wedding of the year," Prince William's bride-to-be has already successfully influenced several interesting trends. Not only are hairstylists being inundated with "I want the Kate Middleton," but a new love for hats (particularly fascinators) has also been awakened. And when it comes to brides, women everywhere are lucky to be able to incorporate both the long-layered Kate cut AND stunning fascinators to their once in a lifetime ensemble, if they so chose. Feast your eyes on a few of our favorites below. Quite frankly, these pieces will ensure your walk down the aisle is nothing short of AH-MAZ-ING!





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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bed, Bath, Beyond & INVITATIONS!

Guess who has partnered with Rexcraft to offer wedding invitations, save the dates, personalized favors, wedding party gifts and more online?  None other than Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Click below for a closer look!

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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ask Rashana: Is My Budget Doable?

Dear Rashana,
I just got engaged and I am super excited!  I want to do this right, so I know hiring a wedding planner is important from the start.  I want a 'David Tutera wedding' and I'm confident you can help us achieve this.  Our budget is $11k.  That's doable, right?

- Engaged & Excited
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Dear Engaged & Excited and the thousands of other newly engaged out there,
First, thank you for your confidence in THE BRIDAL PARTY to pull off a 'David Tutera wedding.'  What a compliment!  And yes, it is definitely doable to have a beautifully memorable wedding within a budget of $11k.  HOWEVER, your "My Fair Wedding" dreams may need to be ... let's say ... tweaked.

Just as brides and grooms have different tastes when it comes to venues, flowers and entertainment, there are also many levels of spending that fluctuate from couple to couple.  One of the most common of questions I'm asked by prospective clients is "my total budget is $XX,XXX - is that doable?"  And my answer always begins with, "it depends on a number of factors ..."  Let's face it, a father-of-the-bride who spends $250k on his daughter's wedding is going to produce an event quite different from a couple spending $7k for their own nuptials.  And while it's possible to have a lovely event on any budget, it's imperative that all parties involved (no pun intended) understand there will be and must be limits.

According to, "on average, US couples spend $24,066 for their wedding. However, the majority of couples spend between $18,050 and $30,083 (which does not include cost for a honeymoon or engagement ring)."  Keeping this in mind and considering your own budget, take a deep breath and accept where you stand.  Being mindful of what you can and cannot afford is crucial!  The last thing any couple should want to do is bite off more than they can chew, embarrass themselves or dig a deep hole of debt.  Quite frankly, most non-married people really have no idea what type of wedding they can afford upon becoming engaged.  This is why, as a wedding planner, it is my job to be honest, knowledgeable and well versed on all things weddings - and more often than not, I've had to offer cheaper alternatives to my brides to make it all work without sacrificing "wow factor."

Let's take a look at 3 hypothetical weddings scheduled to take place in New Jersey this year (an Intimate 'I DO' at $10k, an Exquisite Event at $39k and a $125k Parading Pageantry).  This should shed lots of light on what it really costs to get married:

WEDDING #1: Intimate "I Do"
BUDGET: $10,000
*  # of Guests - 50
* Wedding Party - Maid of Honor, Best Man, Flower Girl only
* Bridal Gown - Purchase off-the-rack (J.Crew, Ann Taylor, etc): $1500
* Tuxedo - Rent a low-end designer ensemble: $200
* Beauty -Treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure, but ask a friend to style your hair or do it yourself: $45
* Ceremony - Rental fee / Donation for place of worship: $600
* Ceremony Music - If the place of worship does not include an organist, ask a family member or friend to play the piano: $0
* Reception - 3-course family-style dinner, with 4-hour open bar and champagne toast at a reputable restaurant: $50 per person
* Reception Music - 4 hours of basic DJ service: $1,000
* Photography - Select a standard package through a wedding-planning center, including 6 hours of coverage, 3 photo albums and 1 11"x14" print: $1100
* Cake - Buttercream-covered 2-tiered cake from a family owned bakery: $175
* Flowers - Skip centerpieces.  Just buy bouquets of roses from Costco or Sam's Club to create 2 bouquets, 2 boutonnieres and a basket of petals: $45
* Stationary - Purchase DIY Invitation/Program/Escort Card sets from Staples: $62
* Transportation - Rent 1 car, to get the bride to the ceremony and then the married couple to the reception (let everyone else transport themselves): $1000
* Favors - Make $5 donations to your favorite charity in the name of each of your guests: $250
*Wedding Planner - Hire a reputable day-of-coordinator: $1500

WEDDING #2: Exquisite Event
BUDGET: $39,000
*  # of Guests - 125
* Bridal Gown - Purchase a mid-range designer gown: $2500
* Tuxedo - Rent a mid-range designer ensemble: $350
* Beauty -Make arrangements for hair, nails, makeup: $325
* Ceremony - Rental fee / Donation for place of worship: $600
* Ceremony Music - If the place of worship does not include an organist, ask a family member or friend to play the piano: $0
* Reception - 5-course plated dinner with open bar, buffet hors d'oeuvres, champagne toast, and wedding cake in a ballroom: $175 per person
* Reception Music - 5 hours of professional DJ service, plus an MC and a light show: $2000
* Photography - Select a premium package including unlimited wedding-day coverage, wedding-album design session and an image CD: $3,000
* Cake - 4-tiered fondant-covered cake w/ classic dots design: $600
* Flowers - Limit ceremony flowers to 2 large altar arrangements.  Use in-season blooms for all bouquets, boutonnieres, etc. and alternate between high and low centerpieces for the reception: $3000
* Stationary - Purchase ready-made invitation/program/escort card sets from an online retailer: $1000
* Transportation - Rent an antique car for the bride and groom, along with a stretch SUV for the wedding party: $1750
* Favors - Treat couples to 2-piece Godiva chocolate favors: $338
*Wedding Planner - Hire a reputable day-of-coordinator: $1500

WEDDING #3: Parading Pageantry
BUDGET: $125,000
*  # of Guests - 250
* Bridal Gown - Purchase a runway designer gown: $7500
* Tuxedo - Purchase a designer ensemble: $1300
* Beauty -Make arrangements for hair, nails, makeup and a pre-wedding facial: $425
* Ceremony Music - Hire a string quartet: $800
* Ceremony/Reception - Outdoor garden ceremony, 4-course plated dinner with open bar, passed hors d'oeuvres, champagne toast: $265 per person
* Reception Music - 4 hours of live music by a 13-piece band: $11,000
* Photography - Select a deluxe package from a photojournalist with 20 years of experience, including two hours of rehearsal-dinner coverage, unlimited wedding-day coverage plus assistant, DVD presentation, online gallery, and 30-page bridal album: $11,100
* Videography - Select an enhanced edited package including unlimited wedding-day coverage: $2295
* Cake - 5-tiered fondant-covered red velvet cake with sugar flowers: $1,750
* Flowers - Incorporate flowers and candles throughout the ceremony and reception spaces.  Include a special crystal/candle dripping tree for the escort card table.  Place individual orchids at each place-setting.  Adorn each dinner table with classic candelabra centerpieces: $7500
* Stationary - Hire a custom designer to produce a complete wedding suite:  $4775
* Transportation - Rent an antique car for the bride and groom, along with a stretch SUV for the wedding party and vintage trolley for out-of-town guests: $3250
* Favors - Treat guests to gourmet chocolate and caramel apples: $1875
*Wedding Planner - Hire a reputable full service designer: $5200

And there you have it.  But don't let all of these figures scare you.  Just be realistic, keep and update a budget log throughout your planning process, be creative and have fun!  After all, all you really need is a license to get married ... and that'll only cost you about 40 bucks (wink)!

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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY

Monday, April 18, 2011

David's Bridal + Vera Wang = WHITE

We, along with wedding "fashionistas" worldwide, were so excited to learn Vera Wang had teamed up with David's Bridal to produce a modestly priced line of exquisite wedding gowns and accessories. The WHITE collection debuted in 150 stores in February and has received rave reviews, for its beauty as well as its affordability. Yes, ladies, now you can have Vera for $1500 or less. So if you haven't included David's Bridal on your gown shopping itinerary, you may certainly want to reconsider. And here's why ...

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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY

Friday, April 15, 2011

2011's 1st Wedding Movie: An Ode to Bridesmaids

If you've ever been a bridesmaid OR you've ever selected bridesmaids for your own wedding, you will likely be able to relate to much of the foolery depicted in this upcoming release. Yes, it's a movie about BRIDESMAIDS and it looks to be quite a doozy! Hits theaters next month.

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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Random Relay: February/March 2011

Once upon a time, I NEVER used the camera on my BlackBerry and couldn't fully understand why others did.  But that's all in the past now ... a dream of days gone by. Nowadays, I find myself snapping away at anything personally intriguing for a multitude of reasons.  So, I thought, why not share? After all, part of this blog is about "the journey" to creating fabulously flawless events.

Here's my random relay of spontaneous pics from February/March 2011.  Let us know if you're able to make any sense of it.  Ha!

"'Diamonds And Pea-rls' ... perfect Sunday afternoon music. 
Prince is simply timeless."

"Waaaay too excited to have just purchased my first batch of baby food.
Babies change everything!"

 "Beautiful day in the BK
... heading to meet with our 'Brooklyn Bride!'"

 "... thinking my closet may need this trench.

"Always love seeing this collection by philosophy during my visits to Sephora 
... nice homage to THE BRIDAL PARTY LLC!"

 "Our West Orange offices/planning studio on a dark, snowy night.
Love it here!"  (thanks, Maria)
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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Barbie Wears Her Last Vera Wang

Vera Wang's final Barbie "bride" doll goes on sale tomorrow, the Vera Wang™ Bride: The Traditionalist Barbie®.  A true collector's item, 2,500 dolls were made worldwide but only 1,000 are available to purchase.  Vera always does such a magnificent job each and every time Barbie decides to marry - her Romanticist Barbie® was our favorite until we laid eyes on this year's Traditionalist Barbie®.  It's gorgeous!  Based on the impeccable "Dovima" gown (pictured at bottom), this "doll captures the luxury, impeccable detailing, and superior workmanship that define Vera Wang."

The gorgeous beauty goes for a hefty $159.95, but if you have a mature and gracious little girl in mind for this little treasure, she's likely to cherish and preserve it for years to come. I know my flower girls LOVED the Barbie brides I gifted them for participating in my own wedding. Plus, has announced its first-ever personalization program, so you are able to personalize the Vera Wang™ Bride: The Traditionalist Barbie® doll's package if you like at no additional charge.

Enjoy Barbie lovers!

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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY


Chances are, you've already met us and we've wow'd you with ideas, design suggestions, advice or even came to the rescue on those last-minute wedding day errands.  But just in case you haven't met all of our acquaintance, we'd like to introduce our fabulous core team!  After all, what's a wedding without THE BRIDAL PARTY?

Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director

Professional Bridal Consultant™
As a wedding singer-turned-wedding planner, Rashana Anderson brought 11 years of experience in marketing, project management, film and television to the event planning industry when she founded THE BRIDAL PARTY LLC in 2007.  She is a seasoned Professional Bridal Consultant™, graduate of Rutgers University, an active member of the Association of Bridal Consultants as well as a Distinguished Graduate of their prestigious professional development program and the proud mother of boy/girl twins.

  • Two people Rashana would love to have as guests at a dinner party:  Marilyn Monroe and President Barack Obama. I'd love to sit and talk candidly about both their life experiences.
  • Rashana's favorite ice-cream flavor:  Maple Walnut
  • The one food Rashana could eat for the rest of her life: Cheeseburgers & Fries
  • Rashana's favorite part of weddings:  Those final seconds before the bride walks down the aisle, because it's the actual gateway between her old life and her new life.  Such a priceless moment.

Jocelyn Norman
Associate Bridal Consultant
Jocelyn has worked with THE BRIDAL PARTY since it first opened its doors in 2007, helping design one-of-a-kind weddings and events.  She is a proud graduate of Temple University and the mother of a beautiful little girl.
  • Two people Jocelyn would love to have as guests at a dinner party: Phylicia Rashād (my favorite tv actress; personification of beauty, elegance & sass) and Stevie Wonder (my favorite musician)
  • Jocelyn's favorite ice-cream flavor:  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • The one food Jocelyn could eat for the rest of her life: Jerk Chicken
  • Jocelyn's favorite part of weddings:  The introduction of the new Mr. & Mrs. at the wedding reception; the first time they are addressed, publicly as husband and wife!

Jennifer Salyga
Assistant Bridal Consultant

Jenn has been planning events for 7 years and loves every minute of it. Jenn holds a bachelor's in Business Economics and a master's in Human Resource Management from Rutgers University.  She joined THE BRIDAL PARTY in 2010.
  • Two people Jenn would love to have as guests at a dinner party: Bethenny Frankel and Hillary Clinton
  • Jenn's favorite ice-cream flavor:  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • The one food Jenn could eat for the rest of her life: Nachos!!!!!
  • Jenn's favorite part of weddings:  When the bride first walks down the aisle.  Makes me tear up every time.

Farrah Pate  &  Latoya Norman
Assistant Wedding Coordinators
 Both Farrah and Latoya bring such style, grace and professionalism to THE BRIDAL PARTY.  Farrah has worked with us since 2008, Latoya since 2009.  They are excellent assistant coordinators and stop at nothing to make sure each and every detail of any event is executed flawlessly.

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We've also had a wicked group of interns work with us throughout the years that we are so grateful to.  Many thanks to Glenis, Danielle, Shanise, Melissa, Katie and Chavonne.  With each wedding season, they bring fresh ideas and higher levels of dedication to learning/growing in the event industry. 

So, there you have it!  And, WE'RE ALL VERY PLEASED TO MEET YOU.

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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY

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