Thursday, March 31, 2011

Deflowered by Emily Thompson (sigh!) and the Gray Lady

Not unsurprisingly, my exquisitly talented floral designer is featured in today's New York Times. Nothing pleases a bride more than knowing she got the best, of-the-moment, toast of the city vendor. My recommendation is that you book her now before she flies away into the stratosphere of greatness like a very expensive balloon. I'm just exhilirated to be able to say she was my first and only. That I was deflowered by the greatest when we were both so young and hot (winky wink face).

Here are some excerpts from the equally extreeeeeemly long and positive article:

"Emily Thompson, a sculptor who has become New York’s surprise floral designer du jour"

"'Fabulous!' gushed Reggie Darling, the art de vivre blogger, on the Web site of Emily Evans Eerdmans, the biographer of Madeleine Castaing who has also come out for Ms. Thompson. 'Watch out, Plaza Flowers; watch out, ZezĂ©,”' he continued. 'There’s a new girl in town.'"

“'Emily’s a wizard,' he wrote in an e-mail. 'Her store is like a floral curiosity cabinet, with shells, wax lobsters and feathers mixed in with the most unusual flowers. When I picked up the bouquet of hyacinths and bluebells for my room at the Winter Antiques Show, I walked to the F train like I was carrying raw eggs.'”

"...the power flower arranger of the moment"

And just a taste of her uber-fabulous future plans....

"Party decorations are more ephemeral than fine art, and so Ms. Thompson was already turning her attention to ideas for the wedding of Bridget O’Neill, the daughter of Ellen O’Neill, a former vice president of Ralph Lauren Home, in the family’s East End 1864 'farmette' in June.

'We explained that it’s a very un-Hamptons house and that we wanted a very un-Hamptons experience,' Ellen O’Neill said. 'It’s dinner on the forest floor versus the V.I.P. tent at the Hampton Classic. When we described the aesthetic to other florists, the catalogs of bark containers fell off the shelves. Emily gets that it’s not Anthropologie or the Gift Show — that it’s more authentic.'

The deal was sealed, Ms. O’Neill said, when she and her daughter learned that the florist herself forages — 'what we do when we decorate,' she said. 'There are things on-site Emily will use — lacecap hydrangeas, Russian olives. It’s not easy to find an event planner who grasps this level of dialing down.'”

For the full article click here

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wedding Wrap Up! (And under budget!)

So what does a $10,000 wedding in NYC look like?

Here's the hair. I went to Blondi's on the UWS on a groupon for $50. Got two more for my bridesmaids. Did not do a trial and it came out great. Olga was very patient and made sure I got exactly what I wanted.

Shoes were $40 on piperlime or zappos, I forget. I got them because I didn't want a crazy high heel.
The dress was less than $2,000 from Cymbeline.
Here is my GORGEOUS bouquet from Emily Thompson Flowers. She also did the wedding party and got the greens for my reception.
Bridesmaid die for!
Cab to the church...$6.00 plus $4.00 tip because he fit five of us in...
The church was a suggested donation of $350. My school's chorus provided the music: "Stand by Me" for the processional, "Hallelujah" and "Faithfully" for the ceremony. So CUTE!
Bridal Party: The bridesmaid's dresses were on sale at Nordstrom Wedding's website for $98. Tuxes by Men's Warehouse for something around $150 each.
Here's a pic of some of the vintage bar glasses I used for the tables. I filled the tall one's mostly with water and let the tea lights float.

Here are some pics of the venue. The glasses I got from Fishs Eddy and used for the rehearsal dinner I wrapped in galax leaves as per the recommendation of Ms. Thompson. The wine bottles were also from the rehearsal dinner and form the wine I had been drinking ALL MONTH.
107 West cleans up great. The 5 hour reception including 3 courses and unlimited wine and beer for 90 people was $5,000.
 I ordered dry erase material online and created these "thought bubbles" for people to write on and stand next to. It was a great hit with the kids.
Cupcakes were abot $400 from baked in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I ordered a cupcake tower online and hot glue gunned ribbon around it, zebra print as a hommage to our meeting in South Africa. Flavors included: pistachio, citrus passion fruit, chocolate peanut butter, salted caramel and chocolate.
We had the restaurant string raw bulb lights in the glass enclosure used for dancing in the front. It really set the mood and created some magical lighting. We used our iPod for dancing and the restaurant had an amp set up for us to make speeches and such.
We bought some English Christmas crackers on sale after Christmas in England for about $50 for 100. They were decorated very spring like with floral wrapping and inside included a "prize," a fortune and a paper crown and "popped" when you pulled them. The kids loved popping them and everyone loved wearing the red crowns.

All that you see cost no more than $7,500. Rehearsal Dinner was $800 and the next day we had a bagel breakfast for 20 at our apt. that included delicous strudels from Zabar's that cost $50. Total cost of wedding: $8,350. Rings were additional and so were the $5,000 or so we paid in immigration costs (no Congrats! card from the U.S. government). I also did a few more groupon deals like mani/pedi and massage beforehand that all together cost less than $150. I'm sure I'm forgeting some random stuff I bought. But still I am amazed at all we could accomplish with what resources we had. Special thanks to Nick at 107 West and Emily Thompson. Without those two special ingredients I could not have pulled off this wedding! I am eternally grateful.

Rehearsal Dinner for Less

When throwing a wedding for less than $10,000, one place where you can get totally thrown off your budget is with the rehearsal dinner. We had 24 guests, same as my sister, who's prix fixe dinner in Brooklyn, that was supposedly a deal, cost about $2,000. $2,000 is 1/5 of my budget. 

I thought I could out smart the whole rehearsal dinner deal.  I thought I had a great idea one night while dining at a local family style Italian restaurant. Once we had tallied out the bill it had accounted to about $15 each including tip and tax (but no drinks). I thought, this is it! So I walked in one day a few weeks later and started talking prices with the manager. First of all, she took out a menu for about $65 pp without tip and tax. Tip and tax by the way, if you don't know is going to increase your price per head by about 30% and take a somewhat reasonable price and make it ridiculous. I said I couldn't do that price and as if by magic Lady McManager takes out another pricing menu. This exchange happens about 4 more times until she finally brings out the cheapest menu which is still about $30 pp and not including alcohol which is another $20 pp.

I kept researching but every restaurant I looked at was not going to be less than $50 pp which with 24 people amounted to $1,200. This price still looks better than the original numbers, but would not include a private room. I'm going to save you the story of how many restaurants I called. But eventually I came down to two options:
1) Non-traditional: A friend of mine took me to see the Story Pirates at the Drama Book Store. Tickets are $15 and they provide free wine before and after the show.  The show itself is hysterical. For an hour you look at sometime irreverent, always hysterical riffs on stories actual elementry school children write. They are used to hosting events and will even let you order in food. I thought I could order pizza (cheap I know, but most of our guests are from out of town/out of the country and love the idea of NY pizza), pay for the tickets and Story Pirates could handle the alcohol. Ultimately that would bring prices down to at most $25 per person. The cons to this scenario would be the limited seating and cheap food.

2) Traditional: I spoke to my priest about renting a room at the church. We got the "music room" for nothing. Just had to pay a teenager to help us with the set up. I was generous and when he showed up with a friend paid them both $40 for the night. It ended up being well worth it. They set up, paid the caterer, lit candles, timed the right music playlist and even asked me if I wanted my napkins folded "fancy-style." Yes, thank you!

The room itself had 3 large arched windows, mahogany paneling and wall shelving. The overhead lighting was soft enough to forget you were in a school and we set up the tables to form a U-shape, covered them in linen and took the 24 cut glass rocks glasses I got from fishs eddy for $1 each and used them as wine glasses (for the wedding the next day they would be turned into votive holders. We used the vintage gold etched bar glasses I got at Scavengers up in Inwood for the tea lights (reused those the next day too). Buster's Cafe catered with fancy chafing dishes and all for a total of $550.00. That included delivery, tax, salad, two main courses of Salmon and Pork Loin with roasted vegetables and rice, fruit, plates, napkins, cookies and the piece de resistance: Guava Pastelitos. They were located just a couple blocks away on Amsterdam and W 103rd so it was so easy. We ordered wine by the case which meant 20% off and free delivery so we were able to have really good wine for $12-16 a bottle. I think we served about 12-14 bottles or so, which totalled to about $175. The white wine bottles we later stripped of their labels and reused as centerpieces filled with ferns and tropical folliage or candles for the reception the next day. We brought over my iPod dock for music.

We had the room for as long as we wanted, we just walked up from the rehearsal itself in the church. It was an absolutely fantastic time and because we saved so much on the space and tips, we were able to get AMAZING food for $23 pp and really great wine. All in all the night cost us about $800 and we were able to reuse so many things for the wedding. (We even reused the plates and napkins for the morning after breakfast).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Celebrity Highlights = Worst Hangover Ever

I made the almost fatal decision to get highlights this past Saturday after fannying around about it for weeks. My friend Alison, a single mom who shares my low maintenance philosophy in regards to appearance decided that she would bite the bullet too and so we searched for something we could both agree on. I wanted to go the cheap route and poured over lifebooker offers, cross checking them with yelp. She got referrals from her friends for colorists that cost no less than $225 a pop. Now I know that you shouldn't fuck around with your appearance too close to your wedding but I just could not rationalize spending that much on my hair. Eventually we settled on this guy named Ayman who owned his own salon on W 80th. He wanted to meet me for a pre color consultation and I talked him down from $180 to $140.

Now Jennifer Aniston may be alone and 40, but she also has what I have come to believe as being the best highlights on the planet. After an hour an a half with Ayman, I emerged with similar tresses. "Oh my God, Ayman! I look like Jennifer Aniston!" I screamed as I hugged him. I burst out of his salon checking myself out on every reflective surface. I went home to my fiance, swooshing my hair in his face, and said, "So, do you want to do me or what?! Well you can't because there is no way I'm getting this hair sweaty!" We got dressed and went out to meet up with my sister and her husband at  Valhalla in Hell's Kitchen where we promptly drank 4 beers each that unbeknownst to us, had an alcohol content of 9%. By the time we got to the Josh Ritter concert at Terminal 5, I was properly shitfaced, but it didn't matter because I had HIGHLIGHTS. When we got into the concert and couldn't find a decent view, I told my posse to to wait a minute. The false self-perception that the combined efforts of alcohol and highlights had given me lead me to talk our way into the VIP area where half the cast of The Office were enjoying the show. I practically knocked over Emily Blunt and introduced myself to John Krasinski by saying, "Hi John, you have to meet my brother in law, he's the best soccer player in the world." To which he surprisingly obliged and was very happy about. The rest of the night is pretty much a black out and I can't believe I blew the my second chance to chat up a man in my top 5 fantasy "If I could have sex with a celebrity" men (the first being Ryan Reynolds who I ran into jogging and to whom I said, "Ryan Reynolds! ....I'm a big fan" winkety wink wink). Seriously, how many more chances am I going to get?!

So the moral of the story is: getting Jennifer Aniston highlights does make you a celebrity, but if by any chance you get to pretend for a night, don't blow it by getting wasted and hitting on the husband of an Oscar nominee in front of your fiance with the lamest line of all time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Celebrity Rings and a serious compulsion....

Ever since I got engaged I have become like a frenzied magpie when it comes to checking out other people's rings. This is not something I would necessarily own up to outside of my close circle of friends. But it doesn't change the undeniable fact that I am a rabid comparison shopper. For years I read the New York Times Style section just to aggregate my own romantic prospects as if I was gambling on oil futures. How far could I leverage the letters after my last name? How could so many people have gone to Ivy Leagues schools? Was I the only one not to sport the crimson of  HBS? Have I accomplished enough in my own life? Is my significant other a proper reflection of my own socio-economic aspirations?

Listen I know this sounds horrible, and I love my husband, but this is a blog and the rules of blog mean that I just can't lie about how shallow and materialistic I can really be. Tell me I was the only one at NYC pre-cana with her jaw on the ground due to the amount 2 carat + diamonds floating around????

90% of the time I love my ring. I wouldn't dream of having another ring. I'm aghast at the ridiculous prices people pay for rings. We got mine from an antiques dealer for 1/7 the appraised value. I'm very proud of that fact since the same gene that compels me to compare also allows scoring a deal  to be synonymous with romance. Seriously, I think the perfect proposal would be, "Darling, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife and place on your finger this ring that I saved $3,000 on?"


This leads me to this next blog in which I allow my jealous streak to run amok and then satiate myself with some horrid monstrosities sported by the most coveted of creatures: celebrities.
 Salma Hayek
salmahayek Here we have my new obsession--OVAL diamonds. Not only do you have huge boobs and flawless skin, you get this 4 carat rock to wave in people's faces!  Damn you Salma. My only consolation is that you have to hump that old French frog at night.

 Katie Holmes
katie-holmes-ring.jpg I feel much better about this one because I don't think there is anyone in the world right now who would trade places to be Katie Holmes. Also, her husband wins the award for cheesiest proposal ever. Do you think he fucks her with that ridiculous steroid smile of his? CREEEEPY!!!!

 Mariah Carey
mariah-carey-ring.jpgNick Cannon- need I say more?

Carrie Underwood
carrieunderwoodHer husband Mike Fisher looks like a comic book hero, but at least her diamond looks like a petrified booger.

Katherine Heigl
katherine-heigl-ring.jpgI used to think Katherine Heigl lead a rarefied life....until I saw this monster! I don't care how big it is (3 carats)'s PEAR shaped!! Or should I say tear shaped like the tears I cry when thinking of this waste of a rock.

Khloe Kardashian
khloe So please don't judge me, but I actually have a soft spot in my heart for this Kardashian. I get the feeling that she knows this whole thing is a fucking joke. Plus she does not go out of her way to hide her drinking and raunch behavior. What a coincidence too that she married someone else that has the same exact, "Do you smell something stank?" smile. Like Elvis in fart factory.

Jennifer Aniston
aniston-ring.jpgBrad Pitt DESIGNED this one. No wonder Angelina doesn't want to marry him. It looks like a sparkly asshole.

Scarlett Johanson
scarjo-ring.jpg Two words: YELLOW GOLD!! But hell, if Ryan Reynolds proposed to me with an onion ring I'd say yes.

Ivanka Trump
ivanka Ok, this is nice. And I have a major Jew crush on her husband. At least her father in law is in jail and her dad looks like he's forever suffering from a bad enema.

Giselle Bundchen
giseleFuck you, Giselle. You fucking suck.

Ellen Pompeo
ellenpompeoI'm sorry, do we even care about you anymore McWhiny?

Zoey Dechanel
zooeymmmm, I heart asscher....also I could never wear bangs since my hair is curly...I want to be quirky and cool! aaahhhhh!!!!!

rebecca-romijn-ring.jpgHow many rings do you want Rebecca Romijn Stamos O'Connell??? One for every name????

Adriana Lima
adrianaAt least I am consoled by this classic example of a beautiful woman marrying an ugly man...

Brooklyn Dekker
brooklyndeckerPuke. It still doesn't make your chin look smaller.

Katherine McPhee
katharine-mcpheeHer husband is like, a million years old.

Anna Pacquin
anna-paquin Rustic can be very nice, especially if it comes from the Clay Pot in Brooklyn. But this ring totally SUCKS (get it?!) Ok.

Ashley Simpson-Wentz
ashlee-simpson-ring.jpggetting a divorce

Elin Woods
elin-ring divorced

Eva Longoria
eva-longoria-ring.jpg Divorced

Sandra Bullock
sandy Divorced

Christina Aguilera
christina-aguilera-ring.jpgDivorced and unpatriotic

I'm seeing a pattern here....

And the award for the ugliest celebrity goes to Fergie:

fergie-wedding-ring.jpg That is downright pukealicious.

Alright. The catharsis is over. I can happily go back to my half carat now.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mild-mannered pedagogue by day.....The Best Officiant in NYC by night!

The great thing about working in a school is that all other teachers have a secret identity.  It is true.  Math teachers double bill as stage managers for independent theatre companies and moonlight on reality TV dating shows while social studies teachers spend Saturday afternoons jamming with alt rock tribute bands.  The most wondrous alter-ego I have ever encountered involved a septuagenarian English teacher, eyes all soft and wet with senility and who baked cakes shaped like bunny faces. After a year or so of encountering his morning pleasantries I discovered through a friend he had offered a lift home, that this little oversized sweater wearing grandpappy had a secret stash of whips and chains in the trunk of his crown Victoria and a fully equipped basement of leather daddy delights.   When not reciting the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by day, this Martha Stewart-cum-masochist was popping rubber balls into the mouths of his objects of desire.
But I digress…
The objective of this post is to tell you of a remarkable discovery I made while at a work retreat last year.  A few of us pedagogues were chatting around the morning breakfast table at a Stamford hotel, when a friend mentioned she needed to get married within the next month or her marriage license would expire.  Another teacher casually mentioned that she could be her ordinant.  “You can marry people?” we gasped in delight.  Turns out she was ordained through that internet church and had married two friends of hers before. So we took out our smart phones and began to schedule this wedding in from soups to nuts in the matter of 10 minutes.  Not only was my friend Susannah a fantastic ordinant, she was so good I recommended her to my sister, a notorious micro manager who is not easily pleased.  After one phone call, my sister and her husband were raving about Susannah and how she listened so well to what they wanted and gently suggested some other pieces to add to the ceremony that were so endearing in others she had participated in.
The day of the wedding, there were so many compliments on the day, but especially for Ms. Susannah Conn.  I whole heartedly approve her—so much so that I’m having her do the music at my Catholic ceremony in February. She even has a CD coming out soon!  She is pretty, smart, articulate and talented and will not go off on some ridiculous rant as some crazies do and takes the time to truly know the couple. Here are her prices for officiating, you’ll have to email her for her music fees:  standard non-religious ceremony would be $300 a custom built one would be $500. Includes phone consultation, rehearsal, ceremony and copies of paperwork.” Her email is 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Homemade Invitations for less than $1

My friend Danielle (see the link to her blog on my page) and I made these invites in September for less than a $1 for everything. The base of the invite is made from ironed out brown packaging paper and all the signage and pictures were printed out on a standard printer. The outside map is a copy of one from the 16th century. I loved the little angels in the corners. We had my sister superimpose the travel markings and plane on top, I think she used photoshop. They mark the two cities where we lived and the one where we met to form a heart shape. The reception card was made from a 1930s subway map and we used a cross and two crossed champagne glasses to mark on the map where the mass and reception were happening with information on hotels, nearby tourist attractions, etc. on the back. The RSVP card was my favorite. We downloaded the "Keep Calm and Carry On" image and Danielle graffittied it up to say "Marry On" and rescanned it. Once we had both sides mocked up she had the postcards made through an online company. Even the postage inside featuring the Chrystler Building was printed. My mom caligraphied the addresses.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

City Hall Wedding a must do

Two weeks ago I eloped down at city hall in order to make an honest immigrant of my betrothed. I had heard from another Brit friend in similar circumstances that it was a thoroughly functional affair devoid of romance. What a wonderful surprise when it turned out to be just the opposite. I would go so far as to say that every couple should make it a must do stop on their to do list of love. We arrived around 9am (it opens for biz at 8:30)and got our liscence in a matter of minutes. We were even approached by a documentary film maker/photographer who offered his services gratis. We arrived the same time the next day with our two witnesses (you only need one). They sell their own flowers at the shop there, as well as rings, head pieces, etc., but we brought our own. We did however drop a cool 20 bones on my fiancee's wedding ring and I bought a fanciful little white feathered headband to add a little something special to my nuptial denim. The best part by far was the city hall background provided for posing infront of-the closest thing to a little vegas kitch There was so much good natured excitement in the air with all the giddy couples and their loved ones. We helped each other take pictures and even the city hall staff suspended their jaded natures. There was an actual ceremony in a questionably decorated chapel and we were left with way too much time to take ridiculous pictures, but the opportunities to giggle helped alleviate the surprisingly high levels of nervousness. The ceremony was brief, like a love punch to the face, but perfect all the same and left me inexplicably bawling. We celebrated by going to Kitchenette and ordering lumberjack specials. The staff even let us choose a free wedding cake- we went with the key lime pie. With the aid our iPhones we had our first dance and filmed a bouquet toss in which the waitress's were happy to oblige. On the subway ride home I let my feathered head sink into the shoulder of my new husband and bouquet rest in my lap - the smiles followed us home. It was just perfect.