Featured Vendor: Aria Style

Aria Style has talent beyond your wildest imagination!  If you can dream it, they can produce it!  John Gardner and his team at Aria Style have won a number of awards over the years and most recently Seattle Bride awarded them All Around Best Wedding Vendor!  This award says it all.

Aria Style was initially inspired by flowers, but has blossomed into so much more; creating tasteful and unique designs customized lovingly for each client. Aria Style not only delivers perfectly designed spaces, they are also friendly; always listening to what I and others need and always getting it just right.

John Gardner, Aria Style’s founder, is a man of many talents. He’s assembled a successful business with an elite group of skilled and affable designers. They love what they do and it shows! They can deliver a complete look in any style, from whimsical to traditional or contemporary. I always look forward to working with Aria Style!

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Vintage Wedding Trends

Vintage fashion will never go out of style. Fashion designers like Lanvin, Valentino and Chanel knew how to design and construct a beautiful dress in the old days and they’re still doing it today. Even though a great design is timeless, I think it’s always best to seamlessly blend modern design with vintage.

Dresses aren’t the only way you can go vintage on your wedding day; and you should spend some time thinking about which time period you identify most with. For me, it’s the 20s and 30s. What a romantic time, filled with big changes and fluctuating hemlines! Art Deco was born and still influences all areas of design today. I’ve found a mixture of true vintage and modern vintage-style pieces to share with you. Enjoy!

Dresses designed by Valentino for Fall 2011.

Art Deco vintage jewelry from Isadora’s in Seattle.

Christian Louboutin clutch.

Christian Louboutin pumps.

Brooch bouquet by Croska at Etsy.

Wedding cake by The People’s Cake and Save the Date by Ceci New York.

Crystal and feather chandelier by Aria Style.

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Real Wedding: Amy & Parker

Amy and Parker’s wedding was truly magical! Amy and I clicked right away when we first met. Her warm, animated and sparkling personality, combined with her dream of being a princess in her fairytale wedding, began the inspiration for this design.

Amy’s parents’ property in Custer on the Canadian border was gorgeous and the perfect location for this romantic wedding. With crystals hanging from trees and bridesmaids dressed as Disney characters as they floated down the aisle to their character’s theme song, you couldn’t help but feel like you were being transported to an imaginary place filled with fun and love.

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Honeymoon Harmony

You’re determined to have an adventurous, fun-filled honeymoon. He wants to get massages, take naps and be spoiled with excellent service. Before you start planning your honeymoon, take a look at these destinations that offer the best of both worlds. You can each have the honeymoon you’ve always dreamed of!

Camargue: The Camargue is the region located south of Arles, France, between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône River delta. Wild white horses and bulls still roam free in Camargue. With close ties to Spain and the Ziganes, flamenco music and bull rodeos are part of life. Go horseback riding through the beautiful countryside.

Check into Mas de La Fouque, a hip hideaway set in a natural park with fantastic views of the wilderness. With strong Moorish influences, the romantic rooms are all uniquely decorated with antiques and four-poster beds draped in mosquito netting. At night a different set menu awaits with a main course cooked in the fireplace! Take a trip in a private boat and land on a secluded beach for a leisurely afternoon picnic.

Belize: In Belize, honeymooners can tour the jungle, swim under waterfalls and explore ancient Mayan ruins. Belize is an active destination and guests at even the most luxurious resorts invariably come to dive one of the world’s largest barrier reefs, explore some of the Maya world’s most awe-inspiring ruins, and paddle and hike Belize’s protected wildlife areas. If you’ve been searching for a uniquely intimate and nature–heavy honeymoon, look no further.

Nestled on a hilltop in a 11,000-acre nature reserve, Machaca Hill is one of the best Central American upscale jungle lodges. It blends excellent service and great facilities with amazing opportunities for nature watching and adventurous activities.

Croatia: With its Roman ruins, medieval castles and gorgeous coastline, Croatia is a great honeymoon destination. Fly to Zagreb and spend a couple of days exploring before you head to the coast. From Zagreb fly to Dubrovnik, the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” and spend the remainder of your honeymoon on the beautiful Dalmatian coast. Stay at the luxurious Bellevue, a clifftop hotel with spectacular views of the city and sea.

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2011 Cocktail Trends

I love discovering new, interesting and beautiful cocktails. I thought it would be fun to do some research on new trends in fancy drinks and I found some mouth-watering delights to share!

Kentucky Bourbons:

Kentucky Bourbon

Well, OK, I wouldn’t describe this first one as fancy, but this traditional drink deserves it’s propers. The Kentucky Derby has spurred some new drink trends like Kentucky Bourbons and Kentucky-style Negroni (for those who prefer a bitter drink). The best bourbons out there? It’s up for debate, but here’s a list of some of the greats if you’re in the mood to mix your own:
Buffalo Trace
Eagle Rare Single Barrel
Knob Creek
Corner Creek Reserve
Maker’s Mark
Old Rip Van Winkle

If you’d prefer a professional to mix your perfect Kentucky Bourbon, check out this Seattle speakeasy: Bathtub Gin & Co.

Negroni with floated orange zest

The traditional Negroni is a concoction of Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth. But if you change it out with bourbon, it loses its trademark acidity and becomes a little warmer. A little more Southern. Licorous makes an irresistable House Negroni.

Unexpected seasonal fruits and vegetable creations:
Think fresh and organic everything! Instead of pomegranate juice, the best mixologists use pureed, strained pomegranate seeds. Of course, pomegranate season doesn’t start until September, but if you’re planning a fall or winter wedding, you might want to think about offering this beautiful martini at your reception!

Sliced Pomegranate

Perfect Pomegranate Martini

Perfect Pomegranate Martini Recipe:
• Pureed, strained pomegranate seeds
• Lemon vodka
• Cointreau Liqueur
• Crushed Ice
• Splash of mineral or sparkling water
• Splash of fresh-squeezed lemon

For fresh and artfully crafted cocktails, you can’t beat Tavern Law on Capitol Hill. The bartenders here are real professionals with an old-school approach to crafting the perfect cocktail.

If you like your cocktails more veggie than fruity, hit the farmer’s market and make your own Green Mary. Or if you happen to be in NYC for the weekend, Rouge Tomate gives this classic Bloody Mary a green twist.

Green Mary Drink at Rouge Tomate

For more fresh cocktails, pick up Market-Fresh Mixology: Cocktails for Every Season by Bridget Albert and Mary Barranco.

Market-Fresh Mixology

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Vendor Tipping: Clearing Up the Gratuity Grey Area

There seems to be some confusion about gratuity when it comes to vendors. Who should you tip and when? First, let’s take a look at the definition of gratuity.


  1. a gift of money, over and above payment due for service.
  2. something given without claim or demand.

Please keep in mind that tipping is something you do to show appreciation for a job well done. Let’s take a look at the standard gratuities for wedding vendors.

I like to work very closely throughout the planning process with the parents of the bride, or the couple themselves if they are the financial support. About two weeks before the wedding, I’ll talk to them about vendor tipping. At that point, if they are comfortable with it, we put the tips in envelopes and mark them for each vendor. Sometimes people like to wait until the rehearsal to do this.

Wedding Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist
You wouldn’t have your hair cut and colored and not tip your stylist would you? Your wedding day is no different. 15-20 percent is the standard tip.

Wedding Delivery and Set-up Staff
The workers delivering your fragile wedding cake, flowers and any other gear needed for your big day should be tipped. $10 per person is standard. I keep cash in my pocket on the wedding day and hand it out to anyone who is helping to make this important event perfect.

Ceremony Officiant
If you’ve hired a nondenominational officiant, no tip is required, but I think it’s nice to give something. In my opinion, a tip doesn’t need to be in the form of cash. How about thanking your officiant in person and after the ceremony sending a beautiful thank-you note? If you know your officiant personally, I think choosing a gift that he or she would like is a great way to express your gratitude. If you’re more comfortable giving cash, then $50 – $100 is the standard.

You should make a donation to a church or synagogue if your officiant is associated with one. In this case, the standard gratuity is $500 or more.

Wedding Ceremony Musicians
A tip for musicians is not required, but if they worked on something original for your wedding, I would definitely give something. $15-$20 is customary and it feels good to support your local musicians.

Wedding Photographer/Videographer
A tip is not expected unless the photographer doesn’t own the studio. In that case, $50-$200 would be appropriate.

Wedding Reception Staff
This type of staff includes the on-site coordinator, maitre d’, and banquet manager and is usually already laid out in a contract. Normally, the gratuity would be built in at around 2%. If gratuity is not built-in, tip as you normally would when going out to dinner (15-20%).

Wedding Reception Attendants
This includes bartenders, wait staff, parking, bathroom and coat room attendants. Again, this would normally be in your contract. The standard is $20-$25 for each wait staff and $1 per guest for coat room and parking.

Wedding Reception Band or DJ
Again, tipping the musicians is optional, but certainly appreciated. As always, gratuity depends on quality. If your DJ decides to follow his own playlist instead of yours, odds are he’s not getting a tip.

Wedding Transportation
Normally gratuity is included in the contract, but don’t forget to check. If not, the standard is 15-20%.

Please keep in mind that the amounts listed here are just a guideline to give you an idea about industry standards. I think a hand-written thank-you note goes a long way in showing your sincere appreciation for a job well done, whether you decide to tip or not. And if you can, take a minute to personally thank each vendor throughout your wedding and reception.

Wedding photography by Imagine Fotographie.

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Elena and Jim: Easter Wedding

I thought this would be the perfect week to share Elena and Jim’s wedding. They were married a year ago on Easter. When I asked Elena why they chose to marry on Easter, she explained that 2011 was a rare convergence of Orthodox and Catholic faith. This is significant as the Gregorian calendar, used to honor Orthodox tradition and religious significance, came into rare alignment. Christmas, as the date is fixed instead of the numbered Sunday, as is the case with Easter, can never be on the same day for the two religions. Orthodox Christmas always falls on 7th of January and Western Christmas is on the 25th of December.

We had an Easter egg hunt in the park prior to the ceremony at Columbia Tower and the adults loved it just as much as the kids. And the fun didn’t end there! We also had a magician mingling with guests during the cocktail hour at the reception.

Elena’s parents presented traditional karavay bread to the bride and groom prior to the ceremony. Doesn’t it look delicious?

Every detail of this wedding at Columbia Tower was stunning, from the emerald green and pink color combination to Elena’s haute couture dress, designed by Sergei Ermakov especially for her.

I’d like to thank all of the vendors who made this beautiful wedding happen:

Erin Skipley, Hair and Make up
Pastor John Green
Jim Garner, J. Garner Photography
Aria Style, flowers and linens
Dale Dunning, Wall Street Clothiers
Bonnie Lyons, New Renaissance Cakes
Cookies and Hot Chocolate in the park, Ravishing Radish Catering
Photo Booth at the Reception, 3.2.1. Photo
Grand Event Rentals
Fairmont Hotel Seattle, all guest sleeping rooms
Columbia Tower, Ceremony and Reception
Parsons Garden, Seattle for the Egg Hunt
Pacific NW Limo Service for all our transportation

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Fitness for Your Wedding: Mind, Body & Soul

It’s time to get in shape for your big day. But physical fitness isn’t the only thing brides should focus on before their wedding. Maintaining balance during one of the most exciting times of your life not only makes you healthier, it makes you more attractive.

Try this great mind exercise: Practice visualizing yourself walking down the aisle, completely calm, gorgeous and SMILING! Notice that everyone watching you is in awe at how radiantly beautiful you are, inside and out.

Meditation is wonderful for quieting the mind and reducing stress. It’s not as hard as you might think. It just takes practice, like everything else.

Getting in shape probably won’t take as long as you think if you’re committed to exercising on a regular basis. Invite your mom, aunts and bridesmaids along to make it more fun. I’ve got some great recommendations for getting in shape fast.

Boolates at Sassy Fit. Boolates combines the non-stop intensity of a boot camp class with the fluid, graceful movements of Pilates. After a warm-up, light band work is incorporated with standing and mat exercises to tone and define your arms, shoulders, legs, and core – without adding bulk. The ballet-inspired cardio bursts and continuous flow of exercises focus on lengthening, stretching, and utilizing the breath. This movement creates a dancer’s physique that you can’t accomplish from straight cardio or weight training workouts.

If you’re looking for a top-notch personal trainer, please give Shannon Gowens a call. She works at the Pro Sports Club in Bellevue and she’s the best I’ve found. Phone:425-869-4757 x7536.  Or you can email her at:

One of the new crazes in fitness right now is called CrossFit. It takes less time, about 20 minutes a day, and people are seeing great results. CrossFit Seattle can help you get in shape, fast.

Have you seen the new reality competition Shedding for the Wedding yet? If you haven’t, you should. It’s really inspiring and a nice, entertaining break from a stressful day. The contestants not only work out to lose weight, but also work to change their eating habits under the supervision of celebrity nutritionist Ashley Koff.

Speaking of nutrition, I’ve seen excellent results with the Weight Watchers program. Right now I have two clients who lost 15 pounds each! Jennifer Hudson is their new spokesperson and she looks amazing!

Don’t forget to do the things you love. Whether it’s painting, gardening, reading or people watching, do not neglect what you’re drawn to. Doing what you love makes you happy and happiness is beautiful. Are you thinking you don’t have time? That’s one more reason to hire a wedding planner. You deserve to sit back and really enjoy this process.

Maybe you’ve forgotten that you used to love playing tennis? Think about the physical activities or sports you loved as a kid and try them again. It’s much easier to get into shape when you’re having fun!

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Plan Your Wedding Day In Style

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Aisle Runner Trends

Aisle runners are really popular this year. My trusted vendor is Original Runners in New York. Let’s take a look at what they have to offer.

Hand Crystaled Aisle Runners

Hand Crystaled Aisle Runners

These beautiful runners are not only custom designed, but each Swarovski crystal is placed by hand! Talk about getting the royal treatment for your wedding!

3D Petals Aisle Runners

How about a 3D Petals aisle runner? Original Runners builds these by hand too and will match your wedding colors.

Monogrammed Aisle Runners

Of course, there’s the monogrammed aisle runner. You can go with a modern look, like the hot pink and black design, or traditional, like this beautiful brown damask monogram.

Seasonal Aisle Runners

If you’re planning an autumn or winter wedding, you might want to go with a seasonal design.

Religious or Symbolic Aisle Runners

You can also create a custom religious or symbolic aisle runner.

Quote or Sayings Aisle Runners

Is there a certain quote that you and your fiancee love? Maybe it’s a bible verse, your favorite poem or song? Have a custom aisle runner made and have a keepsake that you’ll cherish forever.

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