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).