Subject: See Attachment, YOU’RE INVITED! E-Invitations For the Modern Couple

The tech age has certainly changed the bridal industry and the traditions surrounding the big day. A lot of things have been made easier: you can browse for your dress, preview venues, research caterers and wedding planners, even thoroughly vet your bridal party’s progress all from the comfort of your sofa. The online marketplace has also opened up some new phenomena that are certainly altering tradition— namely, online invitations.

No, I am not talking about those silly JibJabs your uncle or co-worker is obsessed with. As of 2014, there are a number of sites that specialize in wedding e-vites. These are sophisticated, high-class designs to fit any theme and are perfect for international or large weddings, eco-conscious and new-age couples. The sites are virtually stress-free and make it easy to save time for other elements of the wedding, like cake tasting.

Here are the top three:

1. Paperless Postpaperlesspost.com

This site is the pioneer in online invitations. It’s perfect for the creative bride who has an idea and needs an easy way to put it into fruition. Offering a number of gorgeous motifs, the site has everything from save the date to bachelorette party and rehearsal dinner invitations, allowing you to match the invitations or pick from a few variant designs. The aesthetics of these invitations are so realistic and beautiful you will feel like you can pick them up off the screen. Perhaps the best thing about Paperless Post, however, is that you can personally create and edit invitations online in a matter of minutes. You can choose from over 50 font types, alter the alignment, sizing and color. If you have some family that require more tangible invites, the site will allow you to create a mixture of online and print cards.

2. Evitepostmark.com

Similarly, Evite offers several types of invitations in an array of styles and with equal flexibility. When you select an e-vite, you can choose the color, whether or not you want it to come in an “envelope,” choose the liner and stamp, customize the font, wording, and size. What’s particularly unique is that you can insert text cards for additional information as well as up to 6 photo cards to include, perfect for the couple who’s taken engagement photos and wants to show them off. The site also allows you to easily import your contact list and save drafts — in case there are too many options to choose from immediately.

3. Celebrationscelebrations.com

Need a bit more direction but want to know you’re getting a great design? While there is less editing potential here, Celebrations allows talented artists to post unique invitation designs for a variety of wedding-related events. You can narrow your search by color and style, from “hand drawn” to “textured” or “retro.” The site also allows you to choose from one or two image ports as well as offering the ability to send print in addition to digital invites with RSVPs included. With hundreds of options to choose from, you certainly won’t feel limited.

DIY vs. Don’t Even Try: Let’s Talk International Destination Weddings

 

There are no rules with a destination wedding.  Not today, not anymore.  Freedom and style, especially for international brides, trump conventional ‘rules.’  The way it was done before still holds some merit, the only difference is that now it’s connected to deeper cultural traditions, the merging of different backgrounds and a real respect for new multi-cultural traditions. That said, it is pretty important when jumping into an international meeting with real brides about destination wedding plans to really get to the heart of what a bride needs to know must be established. Recently speaking to real bride Faz Abdul Gaffa, who intends on having a ceremony in Singapore and also one in New Jersey, it was important to break the ice and give her sound advice that can help her make a decision she feels good about.
So, at 10:00am EST and 10:00pm Singapore time, Faz greeted me on our first Google+ Hangout session with a bright and open twinkle in her eye with that blazing question that every bride-to-be should ask herself and someone else: do I really need a wedding planner? The answer is YES, an overwhelming yes. With limited time for our first e-meet-and-greet, we had plenty of territory to cover. As Faz had already decided on a private yacht in the Singapore harbor overlooking its skyline as her first wedding location, we moved on to the save the date announcements. I suggested that these be sent out as soon as possible, 9-12 months are ideal. The formal invitation should be sent out anywhere from two to three months ahead of your wedding date. Let’s not forget to list your URL on your invite so guests can go online to your wedding site and find out information on places to stay, special rates, location maps, airport transport, etc. Ceremony locations and timelines of your multiple events should be listed among other guest information. As you can see during the second part of our conversation I literally had so much to squeeze in to ensure she knew all that happens during wedding planning that you may notice Google+ Hangouts simply stopped switching the camera between us both and just focused on my attempt to fill her in.  With weddings, there is simply so much to consider.  Imagine, if one 24 minutes Google+ Hangouts session seems to be a lot, what happens once the ball gets rolling with vendors, flowers, guests, accommodations, officiants, etc.
Faz has a vision of a stylish, intimate to medium sized wedding and is considering inviting the same wedding guests to travel to both international ceremony destinations.  I felt compelled to let her know that what actually sounds like one wedding, in this case, is actually two and that this is why getting those save the dates out the door sooner than later was very important. Multi event locations can become very costly and time consuming for your guest and can take a lot of planning on their side as well. We do admire her pazazz but from experience we know that planning has frustrated countless brides in the past. Brides should be free of this burden because the level of stress is literally the opposite of what our bride should feel on her wedding day splendor. It’s a conversation that marks the beginning of a trusting relationship.
To hear Faz tell the story of how she met her fiancé, John, at a Halloween party shows the joy she feels about her approaching nuptials and the love she has for her partner, but I find it’s pretty important for brides to understand that there is a craft to wedding and event planning. Our job is to incorporate your personalities, vision and dreams into your wedding and to take care of every detail, so you don’t have to. Whether it’s day of coordination, partial planning or full planning, for anyone planning a memorable event, let alone planning a wedding (or two!), we don’t only create for the sake of the host or bride and groom to look their best amongst their family and friends.  We become the creators so that couples can enjoy guests and the magic they envisioned. Though the decision making process at this stage can cause some anxiety, it’s not as black and white as many think.  For brides who are reconsidering planning their own event (in lieu of articles like this), who don’t have access to a gratuitous budget, we actually created Weddings in a Box package, an all inclusive must-have kit for those deciding to elope or who prefer to have an intimate ceremony with a special touch but without the ongoing details of a full scale wedding.  With this option brides can keep a close relationship with an upscale planner but from a consulting perspective.  Ahhh, the power of choice.
Faz is a young professional in love, who should be absolutely hassle free on her big days.  Directing her own multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-destination wedding when she’s never done it before is like refashioning the engine of a rare car without all of the parts.  With one year from her weddings, Faz will now have to decide if she will weather the DIY wedding planning storm or if she’ll consider other options.  She can pick up where we left off once she chooses a date. Well, two dates.

About Marc Wilson:

Marc Wilson is the Guest Lifestyle Editor of World Bride Magazine, a 2013 Big Apple Award nominee and the Founder and Creative Director of Weddings by MWD Lifestyles.  Marc’s company, MWD Lifestyles (formerly Marc Wilson Design), is a full scale wedding, event design, production and planning company with destination partnerships and capabilities and has grown to be the name in the decor and events, weddings and destination industry it is today.  Marc’s fifteen years within the events industry has resulted in national and international recognition and, to date, MWD Lifestyles has worked with Rolex, Hugo Boss, Martha Stewart Weddings and MGM Metro Goldwyn Mayer.  Marc’s work has been published in Grace Ormond Wedding Style, Design Bureau, New York Weddings, Manhattan, Essence, Weddings by Design, The Knot, Brides and Town&Country. FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.

Destination Weddings: 101 Class Is in Session with Marc Wilson

 

Dashing down to meet destination partners in from the Mayan Riviera and then onto the Four Seasons before meeting about a wedding back at the House of MWD, leaves me little time for creative luxuries.  Even on days when the weather is perfect, time is of the essence.  So many details go into the planning and presentational meetings with our brides. From our studio trove of various style, size and colored vases, like the standard clear glass bowls or the elegant blown cylinders from Poland to wonderful mirrored glass cubes that sparkle, to even the colored glass in luster finishes. Our team pulls from in-house stock of party wares to reviewing style boards created just for our bride and groom to review.  On perfect days, I arrive to the House of MWD only to find I’m not satisfied with the color swatches and realize, I have to go all the way back down to the fabric district for swatches to my liking.  With beads of sweat and one eye on the clock, I snatch the swatches and dash up to greet the bride-to-be.

I’d liken this presentational meeting with our bride (and sometimes the mothers of the bride) and groom to a shopping spree, of sorts, down elegant Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. It’s where we begin to talk about how the overall theme is interpreted for the event.  It should be a feast for your eyes and a tactile experience – which allows the bride to immerse herself in this experience.  Items usually tucked away in our display cases are now laid out on sample linens, to be picked up, sorted, discarded, coveted – now all a part of the decision making process.

Here’s some of what to expect at a planning meeting:

  • First – do your homework!  Pull photos of both your likes and dislikes from magazines, Pinterest, weddings blogs, etc.  Create your “look book” – keeping in mind sometimes what you don’t like is more important than knowing what you do…
  • Arrive with your questions in hand.  Your planner will have already given you a checklist to review – this will help streamline some of your concerns and needs.  Be forthright about any uncertainties related to selecting and styling your wedding.  Be willing to talk about the nagging or difficult issues that could become stumbling blocks later in the planning process, even if they seem small at the moment.  Once you actually identify them, fun begins.
  • Take notes during the meeting – and bring your calendar!  It will be imperative you and your planner stay on the same page throughout this process.  You’ll want to be sure those antique Moroccan vases arrive on schedule.
  • Be prepared to discuss your budget. The budget is a key element in the design process – providing direction and guidance for both you and your planner.
  • Anticipate change. Your favorite flower may not be in season on your wedding day.  Your “look book” color palate may clash with your venue. All of your co-workers respond YES to the RSVP.  Changes start with the first planning meeting.
  • Be ready to spend time at the meeting.  Once needed conversations are had about creative aspects and the overall design, it’s time to delve into the matter at hand – shopping!  This is literally a time to select as our team notes which items, textures, styles and shapes seem the most appealing to the bride.  Don’t be surprised to spend 2 or more hours.  In my case recently, 3 and a half hours later.  It was worth it because what the bride said she felt matched with how she looked: crystal clear.

We encourage every bride to be herself – everyone has their own sense of style, let us help you develop yours!  From our first conversation, we stress how the planning and design process is here to support the bride – and groom!  Don’t let weddings “over-exposure” keep your personal style from coming through.  Equally challenging will be all of the family and friend’s expectations for your special day.  Your planner is here to help and may often be the first line of defense.

So you’ve finished your first planning meeting… what’s next?  Expect to have some homework.  And remember, until you’re married to your husband, you’re married to your planner!

About Marc Wilson:

Marc Wilson is the Guest Lifestyle Editor of World Bride Magazine, a 2013 Big Apple Award nominee and the Founder and Creative Director of Weddings by MWD Lifestyles.  Marc’s company, MWD Lifestyles (formerly Marc Wilson Design), is a full scale wedding, event design, production and planning company with destination partnerships and capabilities and has grown to be the name in the decor and events, weddings and destination industry it is today.  Marc’s fifteen years within the events industry has resulted in national and international recognition and, to date, MWD Lifestyles has worked with Rolex, Hugo Boss, Martha Stewart Weddings and MGM Metro Goldwyn Mayer.  Marc’s work has been published in Grace Ormond Wedding Style, Design Bureau, New York Weddings, Manhattan, Essence, Weddings by Design, The Knot, Brides and Town&Country.

Havaianas Pop Up Has Landed

Summer has arrived in the Big Apple. This means it is time to bring out those big floppy hats, beach shorts and flip-flops! Before you purchase a pair of ultra comfy thong sandals, think Havaianas. For my summer beach bride these are especially for you.

We did not forget you gentlemen, because they also have the ultra comfy sandals for your beach nuptials! We were able to preview the Brazilian flip-flop collection at the pop-up shop in New York City at 74 Gansevoort in the Meatpacking District. The pop-up shop has been there since May and will be in business until September 3rd, featuring a grand assortment of flip-flops and rain boots for women, men and children.

Havaianas are perfect for my beach brides; the store is featuring a “Make Your Own Havaianas” station. The station is a great idea that allows guests to create their own flip-flop! The sandals are perfect for gift bags; you can switch up the straps or customize a pair with cute pins. Many celebrities such as Nicole Richie, Natalie Portman and Ke$ha have had their Havaianas customized to fit their individual styles.

For my beach bride planning a destination wedding, custom flip-flops are great gifts for bridesmaids and guests. Get your pair now before the shop disappears or go to us.havaiana.com for more information.

 

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Y Li Factory

Do you possess an undeniable sweet tooth but have a sophisticated palate? Then the Y Li Factory is for you. Senneca is not your average baker. As an artist and owner of the company, she specializes in gourmet cupcakes. Y Li offers more than your ordinary vanilla and chocolate cupcakes; because the CEO is an artist, she uses her imagination to challenge your palate.

Each cupcake is sweet and savory because they are organic. Y Li Factory prides itself in using only the freshest ingredients. Y Li uses unconventional ingredients like tea, wine and other liquors. This special bakery is known for constructing its own butter and flour blends. Y Li is known for having flavors you cannot find anywhere else, and a new cupcake is added to the collection every week. The classic Red Velvet is definitely a fan favorite followed by the Oreo Inception cupcake, which is a reconstructed Oreo. It consists of an Oreo cake filled with cream and topped with an Oreo. The presentation of these “babies” is remarkable and YES they taste as good as they look.  To get all the deets (details) visit Y Li Factory at ylifactory.com.

Mint Julep Cupcakes - fresh mint infused boozy, bourbon cake topped with fresh mint and bourbon buttercream

Mint Julep Cupcake – Fresh mint infused with bourbon cake and buttercup topping.

 

 

A little clothes off action 😉

Oreo Inception Cupcake – Oreo cake with cream-filled center topped with an Oreo.

 

Chicken and Waffles Cupcake - buttermilk cake, topped with maple pecan buttercream, a maple butter waffle, and buttermilk fried chicken drizzled with maple butter sauce

Chicken and Waffle Cupcake – Your favorite southern breakfast over a yellow cupcake.

 

Toasted Sesame Crunch Cipcakes - toasted sesame vanilla cake, topped with local Spring honey cream cheese buttercream and a triangle of sesame crunch candy

Toasted Sesame Crunch Cupcake – Toasted sesame vanilla cake topped with local Spring honey cream cheese.

 

The “La Bodega” Cupcake - buttermilk cake with orange zest, coconut, and nutmeg, and topped with an EXTREMELY boozy coconut cream buttercream, and a pineapple flower

The “La Bodega” Cupcake – Buttermilk cake with orange zest, coconut and nutmeg topped with PRYM rum coconut butter cream and an edible pineapple flower.

Best African Restaurants and Caterers: Thanks African Restaurant Week

 

In most cultures feeding the one you love is the ultimate sign of affection. Your wedding day is one of those occasions where the meal is one of the most important things and comes out in abundance. In the African culture, food is something that is taken very seriously, and you will have plenty of. So if a feast is what you want, then journey with us as we take you back to the motherland where food is the gateway to happiness.

New York African Restaurant Week kicked off April 29, 2014 at Suite 36 in Midtown Manhattan.  The venue was filled with patrons from near and far to sample amazing delicacies from some of the best African restaurants and caterers of New York. Barbara Food Creations, Pierre Thiam Catering, Mombassa Dishes, Farafina, Madiba and Panla Catering were all in attendance with mouth-watering dishes. Let’s just say I went in on a diet and came out craving more of the White Hennesy infused donuts by Sweet Dreams. If you missed out this year I got you covered. Below I have a list of the cuisine I was obsessed with. These caterers will be perfect for any bride looking to add a few African entrees to spice up her menu. Visit nyarw.com to attend their next event!

BARBARA NAADJIE of Barbara Food Creations dishes were Ghanaian inspired, each dish was flavorful and savory. I could not get enough of her stewed fish that was blended with tomatoes and boiled eggs. We were also treated to the infamous Jolof Rice which consists of onions, carrots and peas. The dish that stole my heart was the grilled shrimp that was seasoned to perfection with garlic, thyme, curry, black pepper and tomato paste. They were a little difficult to peel but after the first bite you will agree it was worth the struggle. Barbara can be reached via email and is ready to serve your reception no matter how big or small. nbewere@gmail.com.

Dining with Grace was simply an experience. She offers a full catering service including hors d’oeuvre, entrees and dessert! She has everything to satisfy that international palate of yours, such as savory steak with fresh vegetable toppings. Catering by Grace also offers full roasted chickens. You can reach out to Grace for additional information at www.diningwithgrace.com.

Sweet Dreams! Needless to say I have been dreaming of these sweet bite size donuts since I left Suite 36! The chef Todd Jones is a genius! I’m convinced he put a little bit of heaven in these tasty treats. These miniature donuts are perfect for any event, especially a wedding. He makes them fresh for you on the spot and adds a tad of powered sugar to each one. Think funnel cake meets mini cupcake. The taste is absolutely orgasmic! He even infuses them with different premium liquors, for this event he used Pure White Hennesy. These little treats are definitely worth the calories. Go to http://www.sweetdreamsminidonuts.com for additional info.

Now that our mouth has led the way, our belly is full. The continent of Africa has once again filled us with the wealth of our culture, the gift of our ancestors and has brought us plenty of happiness. We invite you to have your own experience on your wedding day. Bon Appetite.

 

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Choosing Who Captures your Wedding Memories Will Cost You One Way Or Another

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The ability to get to work on time, whether you’re in NYC, LA or Dallas, is based solely on your experience of the commute. You know that by leaving just three minutes earlier, you would avoid the high school kids, but still allowing you to weave in and out of traffic while still obtaining your coffee without being late. Allocating your time throughout the day, especially if it’s a routine task, becomes second nature and efficiency becomes key. Regardless if it’s a job, or your routine to put your kids to bed, you become an expert due to your daily lived experiences. Nothing could be more in the event you’re hiring your first expert photographer; whether fashion or wedding.
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As a working fashion/portrait photographer, I often mind myself in the same scenarios of trying to explain to prospective clients why they should hire a wedding photographer for their big day. I had the privilege of talking to Erica Camille and Kristin Reimer, both expert international wedding photographers based in NYC, and the main point all three of us would agree on is knowing how to be efficient with your time when the date of the shoot arrives. When speaking to Kristin she mentions, “Having a background in how to navigate around problems while still thinking on your toes to be creative and get the shot can be tricky if you aren’t used to them. Family dynamics, dealing with restrictions in a church or other venue, understanding the timeline intimately.”
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Family dynamics are definitely not something I think about when walking onto a set, nor is that something that comes into consideration when planning a shoot. When shooting a wedding, you’re shooting at minimum 10 people, which is a seldom scenario in the world of fashion photography. In fashion, you become meticulous about detail, about each strand of hair, about the correct foundation to match the lighting set-up, and every wrinkle that the untrained eye would never catch. Knowing how to please your client, which at many times – unlike the wedding realm – is a recurring client – and being aware of what details to be conscientious about to cater to that specific client. As a fashion photographer, my sole focus is to make the clothing look impeccable and to draw customers into buying the product.
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On the contrary, you hire a wedding photographer to capture the emotion and the spirit of the day. “Documentary-style wedding photography” is how Erica describes her aesthetic and are the exact key terms I would recommend any bride-to-be to look for when hiring a wedding photographer. As Erica continues to state, “the ability to capture a moment as it unfolds vs staging them” is the biggest difference between wedding and fashion photography. You hire a wedding photographer for the entire day to capture everything from the prep to the first dance. You want someone to know where to position themselves, at the exact time, and know exactly what to focus on to get those images that grab your attention for that one extra second, just because the wedding photographer becomes an expert at blending into the background to capture moments like the first tear you’ve ever seen your father shed. Those images are the ones that will grip your heart years down the line and bring you back to a specific moment, just as impactful as your favorite song in high school that draws the memory of your first crush within a mili-second.
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The expectation between the two photographers should be drastically different. A fashion photographer may shoot an entire wedding and you may get 40 images in return, because they’re used to narrowing down selections to just the top images, as what’s repeated in our minds is that you don’t need repetitive images of the same situations in the same clothing. On the other hand, both Erica and Kristin agree on an average of 800+ edited images and unlike a fashion photographer, they’re able to provide albums and online gallery settings, as well as printing packages for those quantities, which would never cross my mind. After realizing everything that a wedding photographer is responsible for and how diligent they have to be in order to capture so many situations, with such restrictive lighting scenarios, the prices for their services are not just to capture one of the most important days in your life, but to make it seem as easy and effortless so that you don’t have to worry about missing anything to be able to share such an exhilarating day.
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Our contributing writer Toni Smalilagic is a New York City based fashion and style photographer that travels extensively to capture the most amazing people in the world through the use of the camera.  To view his work please visit :

To book the amazing photographers that WBM had the honor of interviewing please go to the following: