Friday, July 25, 2008

Ever Heard of a Gift Wedding?

I am so excited to share with you one of the neatest wedding stories I’ve ever heard. And I get to be a part of it! Seriously, a movie should be made out of this…

Stevie and I have some good friends, Kelly and David Russell. When we first met them, they told us the story of their courtship and that, when they intended to marry, their parents gave them no support or encouragement. You see, Kelly and David are an interracial couple (like me and Stevie! I’m proudly Mexican in my heritage!) and their relationship simply wasn’t accepted by their families. So, with maybe five people in attendence, they eloped. They didn't get to experience all the fun and hoopla surrounding a wedding (this makes me sad!). Can you imagine? No wedding gown (that all little girls dream of wearing one day), no tuxedo, no photographer, no registry gifts, no flowers, no music, and no cake. And the worst thing, to me, is that their families and close friends were not there to celebrate THEM—their relationship with each other. Terrible, right?

Well, that was eleven years ago, now. David and Kelly have a beautiful, loving family, with two boys, Mac and Bodie. We’d always said to other friends of theirs, “Someday, we’re throwing those Russells a proper wedding. There was just too much robbed from them in not getting to celebrate each other via a wedding. This has to happen someday…”

Well, it’s happening. Nine of the Russells closest friends have conspired, strategized, chipped in, and are making this thing happen! Yes! And guess who gets to plan it? Why, viva bella, of course! We are sooooo excited for them. I get giddy thinking about it!

I’ll be telling you more about this amazing story, but I’ll include some photos and a video from Tuesday night, when we presented a custom-designed invitation to them at dinner. Do you think they were surprised? Ya think?

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Man Among Ministers

Today I'm writing about a very special man in my marriage. (It's not my husband, though he helped to make my husband who he is.)

His name was Allen Stickney and not only did he mentor Stevie for several years while we lived in Dallas, he also performed our wedding ceremony.

I've mentioned my & Stevie's pre-marriage relational woes (see post on How I Got Engaged). Allen and his wife, Alice, were some of the few who always believed in our relationship, despite our constant efforts to mess it up!

I know that, whenever it's left up to me, I always try to secure the best possible minister for my brides and grooms. I want a presiding minister who can truly offer a significant blessing. Marriages are "holy unions", as the saying goes, and having the right minister matters.

Well, I believe we had the right minister. Allen loved on the lowly, duplicated his passion in many, many men, and lived a life devoted to God. Sadly, Allen passed away on July 6. He leaves behind his wife Alice (who still is a mentor for me!). Stevie and I will be heading to Dallas this week for Allen's memorial service.

So today I'm celebrating the life of a great man who blessed our life and marriage immeasurably! Here's to Allen Stickney!

Above is a photo of Stevie & me with Alice & Allen Stickney on our wedding day 6 years ago.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chic new site!

I've always loved how fashion informs style for events.  Many people think that one has nothing to do with the other, but where do you think patterns for cakes come from?  Or table linens?  Or color palettes that communicate "contemporary, edgy, and stylish"?  I'll tell you:  fashion.

So I've always got my eye open, looking for what's hot in the world of fashion, or what's just around the bend. It helps me stay on top of the game, so that my designs and ideas don't become passe, like plastic shoes and twist-a-beads.

And that's why I felt like a champ when I uncovered Chick Downtown (cleverly, both and will get you there).  It's an all-comers party of the best designers: everybody's at one spot!  And they don't just do dresses, they've got shoes, accessories, and bags, too!  If you're too into fashion, this site might not help your illness, but if you just like to keep abreast of the fashion world, this will help.  

I've added Chic Downtown to my 'beautiful sites' list to the right.  Okay, everybody!  Back to work!  Have a beautiful life!

Serious Romance!

I wish everybody could see and hear what I’m exposed to every week.  I just heard a CRAZY story from Angie, one of my brides, that included this turn of events:
“Right after he told me he was engaged he said, “But if you want to stop this wedding, you’ll go out with me next week”!

What?  Her fiancĂ©e (Michael) was engaged when he first asked her out!  Now that’s being smitten! Wow.


I'm always interested not only in the weddings of my clients, but in their marriages.  However glorious, the wedding is just a short-term event; the marriage, however, lasts a lifetime.  Pre-marital counseling is always a good idea, as an aide for dealing with all the intricacies of two separate people becoming one entity.  I also like this piece of advice for newlyweds:  make getting away together, alone, a priority for your first year. Allen Stickney, a mentor of Stevie's from Dallas (and the man who married us), instructed us to get away once a month for our first year.  Seems like a lot of trouble (and money), but it's worth it.

If you're anywhere in Cincinnati's tri-state area, you might be interested in some of our favorite getaway spots.  We still like to retreat from the city whenever we can, and we've found some gems over the years.  I'm just going to mention one at a time, and I'd like to start with Glenlaurel Inn in Hocking Hills.  If you've never been to 'the hills', they're just about 2 hours northeast of Cincinnati (maybe 45 min. southeast of Columbus) and include 9 State Parks and Forests.  It's a scenic, remote-feeling place to spend time with the most important person in your life.  

We love Glenlaurel (which I first heard about from my friend Mary) because, in addition to the main inn (which houses 5 private suites), they have a series of private cottages on their property.  The cottages have private hot tubs that face the forest (yeah!), and are completely self-contained.  They also have an amazing chef named Shawn who makes incredible 5-course dinners (7 on the weekends!), and indulgent breakfasts.  Glenlaurel has also added a spa recently; on our last visit in May, Stevie and I both got fantastic full-body massages.  (I'm a little more comfortable getting them than he is, but he enjoyed it, too.)  

So listen up, people who want your marriage to last!  Get some time away together!  Do so regularly!  And may all our marriages stay as romantic as Angie's.  Or did you not think Michael was completely taken with her when he offered to stop his wedding on her account?  Okay, how about this:

Their first date (he picked her up in the morning, and told her to bring a passport) was to... the Bahamas.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Quest for the Cake to End All Cakes

I like cake.  When it's done right, it's rich and moist and sweet and delicious.  Cake is good.  I like it.  But I don't love it.  I learned the difference this week...

I'm working with some fantastic clients, Angie & Michael, producing a dream wedding for them next year.  I'm very excited about it. I remember in our initial consultation, Angie told me about her deep LOVE AND PASSION for cake... in her list of wedding element priorities, cake trumped them all. I don't guess I fully realized what that meant.... until now.

Angie began to describe to me what she was after, and it sort of blew my mind.  But I love tall, audacious requests!  So I tenaciously set about finding someone to help our Cake Dream come true.  Lo and behold, after some scouring, I found the perfect bakery in Columbus, Ohio. They're taking on the incredible challenge to create Angie's piece de resistance: an elaborate, over-the-top eight-foot wedding cake. 

Yep, you heard me... EIGHT FEET TALL.

Jan Kish with la petite fleur has risen to the challenge. She took one look at the inspiration photo we brought (I love having a load of inspiration photos, swatches, music pieces, and anything else that will convey a feel, a style, or a vision) and said, "No problem, I can do it."  This idea, mind you, had stumped every other baker I'd shown.  Wow.  Jan Kish don't mess around.

So, here's our cake inspiration photo, from the none-greater-than Colin Cowie (I'm a bit obsessed with Colin Cowie's design ...not his ego :) --see my Beautiful Sites list to the right).

Keep in mind, now: our cake will be even more wonderful, more fabulous, and more elaborate... but you'll have to wait until September 2009 to see a photo of it!

la petite fleur's cakes are as delicious as they are beautiful. Jan even has a particular wedding cake that runs up to $45 a slice. Yowza. That's some kind of cake, baby.  (At that price, it should shape your tummy and buns for you and produce natural mascara from your eyelashes!)

So the story of the King of the Cakes is unfolding.  I had my moments of doubt about this one, but it's still true: viva bella's never seen the request or dream we couldn't produce!  Bring on the cake!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Shaedyn & Alex in the Press!

News flash! viva bella clients Shaedyn & Alex had their beautiful wedding published in Cincinnati Wedding Magazine! The wedding was last summer, and I remember it well (they are a TERRIFIC couple). It was a Navy/New England themed wedding. Below are some additional photos and details that didn't make the magazine...

The escort cards were placed in sand, reinforcing the New England theme.  A really elegant touch that communicated refinement.
Cake cutting with a sword is less frightening when you're marrying a Navy man.
As Shaedyn and Alex exited Armstrong Chapel, they were given the 'Oar Detail', which is a corridor of oars from Navymen.  A unique, stylish, and memorable moment!Some other great ideas from their wedding:

-Their guest favors were custom painted tiles with New England images of lobsters & crabs (We placed them at each setting and tied organza ribbon in a square knot that draped perfectly off the table).

- As guests departed the late reception, they received a New England nightcap of milk & sugar cookies to go! The cookies were made by Shaedyn herself, and were lobster shaped with red icing.  

On another note, this was the first wedding I can remember where the groomsmen's bowties weren't pre-tied, with a hook-and-loop closure... these had to be hand tied, old-fashioned-style. Ever tied a bow-tie? Yeah, no one else had either! I did my best to communicate with the wedding party just how to tie those darned things. It's much harder than you think! But we made it through, as always, and my men looked like Royal Officers at the last!

Congratulations to Shaedyn & Alex for having their beautiful wedding celebrated in print.  I know it's gratifying for them, and it's certainly fun for me.  Have a beautiful life, guys!
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