Friday, July 29, 2011

What's Cooking: Fried Chicken

A few weeks ago I was visiting my family in Southern California and my mom warned me before I flew down, "Linda's making fried chicken on Saturday, so stop eating now."  When I was a kid, probably once a year my mom's friend would make a big, traditional southern dinner -- fried chicken made in her family's original cast iron skillets, mashed potatoes, fried okra, fresh tomatoes and of course pie for dessert. 

Linda is from Alabama and was actually Miss Alabama in the Miss America pageant, so as far as I am concerned she's the authority on southern food! Until recently, I probably have not had one of her fried chicken dinners in 10+ years, but luckily I recently got my fix. I just hope it isn't 10 years until the next one! The best part of the evening was as we were leaving, my 5 year old niece asked Linda if she could have a piece of chicken for the road, and she proceeded to eat it in her car seat before we even made it home! I think Linda has a new fan....

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rainbow cakepops

I saw this picture on Brides's home page the other day and couldn't resist sharing this rainbow hued cakepop display! I am hoping to recreate this look at an upcoming party -- how adorable would this be for a kid's party?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Five Quick Wedding Planning Tips from Carolyn Gerin, Creator of Anti-Bride

Photo credit: Laurent G
Carolyn Gerin is the the creator and co-author of the bestselling 3-book Anti-Bride seriesThe Anti-Bride Guide -- Tying the Knot Outside of the Box, The Anti-Bride Planner -- Hip Tips and Tools for Getting Hitched, and The Anti-Bride Etiquette Guide -- The Rules and How to Bend Them.

Spotlighting the alternative side of weddings, along with the diversity of brides, budgets and wedding styles, is a one-stop plethora of information for brides who want to go outside the "norm" when planning their wedding!

Here are Carolyn's five quick tips:

1.  Wear the colors and fabrics that make you feel gorgeous. Your comfort will be reflected in how you look, and how the day goes...If you are not comfortable, it will show up in photos and you will come across as stiff....not to mention you will not have as much fun on your big day....

2.  On W-day, eat a Bacon Cheeseburger as soon as you wake up....Brides forget to eat, have not slept sometimes, and have frazzled nerves...pour champagne on that (and a 12 hour day) you’ll be lucky to get to the wedding night. If you are a vegetarian, eat something comparable: lots of protein, lots of bulk. You need to coat your stomach with lipids, the hamburger, cheese and bacon gives you the protein, and the bun gives you the carbs. Steel yourself against that champagne induced headache from an empty stomach, and low blood sugar.

3. Drink gallons of water the week before your wedding. It will show up in your skin and help you look rested.

4. Even if you don’t think you’ll need them, get your doctor to write you a small scrip to help you sleep, (that is, if Melatonin doesn’t work, the week before the wedding). Your brain is one big TO DO list and won’t turn off. It won’t kill you to force it to temporarily. Melatonin and Roobiboos sleepy tea works for me. But Lunesta might be a good backup plan if insomnia kicks in (which can cause breakouts and stress) for 3-5 days before....I could say, try meditation, but if you are anything like me, you’ll start meditating and then you’ll run through your To Do list...Don’t schedule too many pre-events before the big day. No hen parties or bachelor parties the night before. And although it may be tempting to relive old times with your out of town friends the night before the wedding, resist the urge to imbibe and stay up late. You need all the rest you can get.

5. Use EVERNOTE as a ubiquitous capture tool to grab every little scrap of info, menu concepts, photo of cool flower arrangement, or random passing thought. Use the DOXIE Scanner to scan all wedding related documents (contracts, concepts, photos, vendors) into Evernote. The program is free, but I have the Premium version which is under $50/year and allows you to store PDFS that are word searchable. It changes how you capture information and allows your brain to get free of the “stuff” - it’s all handled and captured in your IN BOX ready for processing, and scrubs your mind down into a perfect state of zen (that is, until you see your IN BOX!). Evernote has changed the way I run my business, write magazine articles, develop iPhone applications, and organize vast amounts of information that need to be slotted into buckets for processing.... It truly rocks.....

Carolyn shares some unique aspects of her big day...

What was your favorite thing about your wedding?
The quality time I was able to spend with my family and friends because we didn’t have a monster truck show, rather, a wedding tour! We had three very fun, curated, intimate, quirky, dress up cocktail parties which allowed for plenty of quality time:

One reception was on the outskirts of Washington, DC my home (college friends, immediate family, my parents best friends, my best friends). My husband is French, so many of his friends were in Paris, and SF. We had a fabulous, intimate little cocktail party at my parents' home for immediate family and was catered with passed hors d'ouevres, two bartenders, and cocktail attire... I got to talk to everyone, and the size was very manageable. The people I really wanted there were there...

One was in Paris, where I got to meet Laurent’s amazing, funny, and very large French family at their gorgeous flat in the 7th District with a view of the Eiffel tower. It was on Halloween night, and very misty and spooky, almost like a Goddard film. Although the French don’t really celebrate Halloween, Laurent’s mother, (who is the epitome of French glamour and humor) plopped a pumpkin right next to the Louvre-sized pâté on the main serving table, right after she gave me two solid gold engraved pendants from Russia.

One was in SF at a tony little cocktail lounge in North Beach, lots of homemade treats, some from Trader Joe's, some from the Italian bakery up the street, wine from my friends vineyard, 2 DJ friends who have radio shows at KUSF, flowers from the flower mart. I wore a gorgeous couture 60s-inspired cocktail dress and silk swing coat with faux fur. Laurent’s bespoke suit and huge smile... Hand mixed cocktails, lots of laughter, not a lot of to do’s on the list.... easy and breezy...

NOTE: the way we did our wedding was the impetus for the Anti-Bride series for Chronicle Books... not a lot of people were really injecting a lot of personality into their weddings in the late 90s. Even in California, it’s either a wine country wedding or something urban and hotel oriented. My mother didn’t understand why I didn’t want to have a reception at the Naval Officers Club in Bethesda. But we weren’t about dragging everyone to one location, it made more sense for us to travel to them.

Also, a collateral upside (although we did not ask for it) was that we were mobile, so couldn’t drag a lot of gifts around. A lot of gifts came in envelopes... just what you want, but can’t exactly request. So we bought surf boards, wet suits, a couch, some very “us” vintage Steelcase furniture from the 40s (we’re both trained art directors, so have a great love for good industrial design). We went on a honeymoon in Morocco...and didn’t have to return anything....

If you could change one thing about your wedding, what would it be?
Nothing, we really did what we wanted, didn’t compromise, didn’t overspend, everyone was happy, and after we did it, everyone thought what we did was a great idea...We are happy that people responded positively, and because there wasn’t a lot of hyperbole and stress, everyone enjoyed themselves more. Moving forward, it turned into a book series that made sense to people as well....It’s not revolutionary, it’s not even that novel of an approach, but it does take a bit of moxie to go up against tradition. And this is where you need to be the change agent....

Thank you, Carolyn, for those wonderful tips! 

If you would like to be featured in our Five Quick Tips column, please contact me at info AT amynichols DOT com.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chanel Cookie Favors, Gorgeous Cake with Fresh Berries & Peonies!

At a recent event, the guest of honor loved fashion, so the perfect favors were these Chanel purse cookies! I worked with a new baker, Roxanne from Sugar Mama Cookies and I loved the results! Scroll down for a few more photos from the event taken by photo diva Angie Silvy. I've also included a cell phone pic of a wedding dress cookie sample that Roxanne dropped off for me as well (super cute, and tasty too!) -- perfect for a bridal shower!
Cookies were made in ivory, light pink and black. Love the details, down to the gold chain!

I lined the table with peonies & votives in Fleur de Lys glasses

Gorgeous cake topped with fresh blueberries & raspberries, wrapped in dark Chocolate by Cakework.

Phone photo of the wedding dress cookie -- yum!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Little Details: Macarons on a Stick

In May I traveled to Chicago to attend one of my best friend's weddings. While there, a couple friends and I went to the Four Seasons Chicago for their legendary brunch.

While eying the dessert table, I spied these macarons on a stick. Macarons are of course very popular right now as wedding favors, but I haven't seen them served on a stick, like a light & fluffy lollipop.

This is a fun idea and one I hope to replicate someday!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Five Quick Wedding Planning Tips from Jen Campbell - Editor and Creative Director of Green Wedding Shoes

Jen Campbell is the founder of the wildly popular wedding blog Green Wedding Shoes, which draws its inspiration from Southern California weddings, but features weddings from elsewhere too! Jen also offers event design and styling for weddings, photo shoots, and social events. Here are Jen's Five Quick Tips (I especially love #5 - she's dead on!):
Photo credit:  Caroline Tran

1. Do First Look photos with your photographer. You get to spend time alone with your almost husband/wife before the ceremony, you will get lots of great portraits (without missing cocktail hour!) and you don't lose anything special when walking down the aisle -- it was still the most exciting part of the day for me, but I was relaxed and excited, not nervous!

2. Hire vendors you can completely trust -- you don't want to have to worry about anything on your day.

3. Do what YOU and your fiance want to do. Try to ignore all your relatives who are questioning your ideas for a wedding -- it's your wedding, right? :) Do want feels right for the two of you.

4. If a lot of people are coming from out of town, consider a more causal rehearsal dinner where you can invite everyone. The wedding day goes fast, so it's great to have more time to spend with family and friends, especially if they traveled far to be there for your day.

5. Don't worry if something you are doing is trendy right now and you see it on all the blogs -- I'm guessing most of your guests don't read wedding blogs or magazines, so those ideas are new to them. And if you love it, that's all that matters!

Jen answers a couple questions about her wedding...

What was your favorite thing about your wedding?
Spending the weekend with all my closest friends and family

If you could change one thing about your wedding, what would it be?
The food -- I would have had a wood oven brought in and had grilled pizzas with some yummy appetizers. Oh, and a photo booth - would have LOVED to have one of those.

Thank you, Jen for sharing those great tips!

If you would like to be featured in our Five Quick Tips feature, please email us at info at amynichols dot com.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Horned Dorset Puerto Rico Wedding with Pink and Orange Decor

I have been dying to share pictures from my clients Kim and Bryan's wedding that took place earlier this year at the beautiful Relais & Chateau property, the Horned Dorset in Rincon, Puerto Rico. Well, that day has finally come, thanks to the fabulous feature Style Me Pretty posted yesterday. The wedding was photographed by the talented Studio 12O8 team, who are based in England. The bride, Kim and I had quite the planning whirlwind -- we pulled the whole thing together in just over four months! In February I traveled with Kim and Bryan to the Horned Dorset so we could hire vendors, get inspired and make sure everything was secured for their big day, which took place in late April. Upon meeting Kim and Bryan, I felt like they were old friends and I know they'll stay friends for many years to come.

The fashion for this wedding was off the charts gorgeous, from Kim's Oscar de la Renta dress and jeweled belt, to her Marchesa late night party dress, and of course those silver Jimmy Choo shoes. And the guests were equally well dressed too -- Rincon definitely got to see everyone's finest!

The hotel's decor is Moroccan-inspired and we wanted to enhance the natural beauty there, and the owners of the hotel even let me scour their supply of gorgeous authentic Moroccan lanterns which I lined the aisle with (below), and added pink and orange ribbons on the back of the chairs which blew in the wind throughout the ceremony. 

We used succulents for the escort cards and asked our floral designers, Arquetipo, to spray paint succulents in the colors of the wedding, and I tucked escort cards in each succulent (above).

When I first visited the Horned Dorset, I fell in love with the dining room at the hotel which we used for the dinner reception. Kim and I both felt very strongly about enhancing the hotel's existing decor, and not fighting it. The black and white checkered floors were breathtaking, and the hotel had an assortment of white and dark brown chairs that are very reminiscent of Jonathan Adler's Chippendale chairs.  They didn't have enough of the chairs in all white or all brown for the wedding guests, so I just decided to mix them and use both. We had Arquetipo make custom white cushions that were piped with a black border. The flowers I designed with the room in mind, picking large white arrangements in silver and mercury glass vessels, with pops of flowers in pink and red in between. Because of the red light fixtures in the room, we chose to use red there instead of the orange used during the ceremony. Tables were topped with black silk linens, and then we added a black and white runner from La Tavola which we shipped from Northern California.

I could go on and on, but I'll leave it as this for now -- something tells me you might hear more about this wedding in the future! Be sure to check out Style Me Pretty for many more pictures of this wedding -- including the infinity pool shot which is such a stunner! Also check out the vimeo video clip from Studio 12O8 that's included in the story!

Monday, July 18, 2011

New York City Engagement Shoot - City Hall by Belathee Photography

Earlier this year, two of my clients chose to get married quietly at City Hall in New York City before traveling to Puerto Rico where they celebrated their wedding with friends and family. There to document the City Hall wedding, and to do an engagement shoot was Annabel from Beltathee Photography. To see more images of the shoot, visit Belathee's blog here for this beautiful, crisp New York City spring day. Based in New York City, the Belathee gals will gladly travel for weddings on the West Coast!

I am looking forward to sharing my clients' rehearsal dinner and wedding -- the images are stunning! For a sneak peek from their wedding at the Horned Dorset in Rincon, Puerto Rico, click here.

Congratulations Kim & Bryan!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Little Details: White Hydrangeas

It's no secret that my favorite color is blue (take one look at my website and it's pretty obvious) and most of my friends and clients have learned that my favorite flowers are hydrangeas. Blue hydrangeas are of course one of my ultimate favorites, but I have another favorite -- one that's pretty rare.

I absolutely LOVE pure white hydrangeas, I think because you find them so rarely. Sure you can find ones that are tinged with green, or slightly pink, but I always stop in my tracks when I see the whitest of the white hydrangeas. The other day I spied some in my local flower shop on Chestnut Street and had to share.

What's your favorite flower?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Five Quick Wedding Tips with Tara Guerard of Soiree in Charleston

Tara Guerard Soiree is an event planning and design firm headquartered in Charleston. With a New York office and a team of four event planners and a graphic designer, the Tara Guerard team is powerhouse of event designers! Tara is known for pairing the traditions of Southern style with a modern aesthetic and flair. Check out Tara's blog after reading her Five Quick Tips!
Photo credit:  Liz Banfield Photography

1. Have fun. If you have fun, everyone will! Don't forget you set the tone.

2. Wear gorgeous shoes that are comfortable so you can wear them all night long.

3. Don't forget to thank those who paid for your magical evening.

4. Try not to have a day filled with too much to do so you have time to remember every detail and be calm.

5. Remember the wedding ceremony is the most important and the reason for the day... be extra kind to the groom -- he is nervous too!

We had a few more questions for Tara...

What was your favorite thing about your wedding?
The dancing!

If you could change one thing about your wedding, what would it be?
Only one thing? I would change lots! But number one, would be when the minister said "you may kiss the bride." I turned for my husband to kiss my check like we had rehearsed. Not kidding, it was so embarrassing!

Thank you, Tara, for sharing your tips with our readers!

If you would like to be featured in our Five Quick Tips feature, please email us at info at amynichols dot com.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gorgeous San Francisco Wedding Featuring Blue and Yellow Wedding Decor

On Friday I had the honor of having a client's wedding featured on the new California-dedicated page of Style Me Pretty!  My client had such clear and beautiful vision of what she wanted on her wedding day and incorporated many personal touches -- much of her family participated or were involved in the wedding (hunting for the salmon served that night, making the wedding cake, and bringing cheese from Wisconsin for fondue)!  Natasha donned her grandmother's wedding dress (over 50 years old) and her veil was one that her husband's grandmother wore on her wedding day! I wrote a blog post several months ago that includes some other fun pictures from Nick and Natasha's wedding -- take a look for more inspiration from this lovely San Francisco wedding. Be sure to check out her stock certificate and map inspired wedding invitations -- they're incredibly unique.

The day was punctuated by a fresh blue and yellow color scheme, including lovely flowers by Branch Out Floral Design. Natasha and I both share a love of ribbons, and you can see she adorned them on her tables and throughout the reception.  Also impressive was the beer pairings she and Nick planned for each course during the reception.

Thank you Nick and Natasha for letting Style Me Pretty share your wedding day! Be sure to check out Natasha's blog where she writes about life in Hong Kong.

Friday, July 8, 2011

San Francisco Outdoor Wedding on Style Me Pretty - Blue and Yellow Color Palette

We're on Style Me Pretty's new California destination page today! Style Me Pretty recently launched regional editions for California, New York, Florida, and a few other select areas. I haven't seen the post yet (it launches at 7 am Pacific) but I will report back later today with more details about this beautiful wedding full of personal touches!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What's Cooking: Ahi Tuna Poke with Mango and Avocado

It is summer and who wants to cook on a hot day (who are we kidding, it's never that hot in San Francisco)!

If you're in the mood for takeout, one of my favorite takeout dinner options is simple, full of flavor, and pretty darn healthy (not to mention very pretty).

The dish in question is the tuna mango poke with avocado and toasted almonds from Ace Wasabi. It's topped with a spicy and sweet vinaigrette giving it a little kick.

What's your favorite healthy takeout go-to dinner?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Five Quick Wedding Tips from Stephanie Frazier Grimm of Couture Parties

Photo credit:  Dugan Photography
Stephanie Frazier Grimm does it all! After starting and selling Mama & Bambino, a baby gifts and accessories line, Stephanie began Couture Parties. Stephanie takes pride in becoming her client's right hand and confidant, which her Couture Wedding Parties clients especially love. Check out Stephanie's blog and follow her on twitter (@coutureparties) -- you'll be amazed by this party girl!

Here are Stephanie's Five Quick Wedding Tips:

1. Be open about a venue. Don't think that you can not have a tent wedding "if it is going to rain." Lighting, fabric, and other design elements can change any white canvas to the venue of your dreams....even in your own backyard.

2. Decide what is most important to you first. Food, entertainment, decor, photography, location. Once you have locked in that favorite vendor, the rest of the decisions seem easier, because subconsciously all your energy is focused on the "favorite" element. Personally, photographer was my priority.

3. Don't follow trends or copy someone's else wedding you saw in a magazine. Get inspiration and change it into YOUR day, make it about you as a couple. Remember you are doing this to join as a family, not what everyone else has done in cyberspace.

4. Remember to switch your engagement ring to your right hand before you walk down the aisle. Your band should always be closest to your heart.

5. When you are looking for ideas for flowers for your wedding, print out things you DO NOT like. Hand them to your florist so they are sure not to create that design.  It is much easier to look at something visually then trying to describe it,  Two people can interpret designs completely different. Your idea of "romantic" may really mean "contemporary." Proper communication, equals a happy couple.

We have a couple more questions for Stephanie...

What was your favorite thing about your wedding?
We had a Band AND a DJ. The DJ started playing at the end of the night when the dance party really started. I remember my two friends getting on the mic sing the Humpy Dance by Digital Underground. Yes, my fancy wedding had rap music....and I would not have changed it for the world! We also had an ice cream bar, people still talk about it eight years later!

If you could change one thing about your wedding, what would it be?
I would have had the guys wear blazers, Lilly Pulitzer ties and khaki's. That is more Paul and my style, but we thought we had to be "fancy and formal," which is SO not us!

Thank you, Stephanie, for those great suggestions!

If you would like to be featured in our Five Quick Tips feature, please email us at info at amynichols dot com.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sparkling Wine Guide: Champagne, Cava, Prosecco

A wedding guest enjoys some bubbly (credit: Jose Villa)
Living in Northern California, you tend to learn about wine just by osmosis -- whether from a friendly sommelier, or your wine snob friend, you're sure to pick up a few wine tips along the way.

While most people refer to anything with bubbles as "champagne," only grapes from the French region of Champagne can truly be called "champagne." Everything else should be called sparkling wine, though some sparkling wine can be made in what's referred to as the méthode Champenoise.

The other day, I was editing a timeline and had crossed out the word "champagne" and wrote something above it. My assistant who is not from this area asked what this (odd) word was that I had written above it. I had written the word Prosecco, which is sparkling wine from Italy. She'd never heard of Prosecco, which is what inspired this blog post. Another sparkling wine to know about is Cava, sparkling wine from Spain. Those two are the most well-known Champagne siblings, though both Germany and Austria make a sparkling wine called Sekt which I personally haven't tried.

What's your favorite type of bubbly?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...