Sunday, November 24, 2013

Local Venue: The Empress Estate - Empressive!

As a coordinator, I spend a lot of time looking at different venues & vendors so that I can confidently match my clients with the best people, products, services, & places to meet their needs.  There are so many great providers in & around Portland!

Yesterday I visited The Empress Estate in Woodland, Washington.  It was a nice drive out that ended on a gravel road.  I was driving slowly since I’d never been there before & I was so surprised when I turned the corner & saw it!  It’s like finding a castle hidden at the end of a country road.  Plenty of room for parking, which is one less thing to worry about for your guests.

Photo from The Empress Estate Facebook page - William James Photography

I talked with Zoe & Stevie Saleem, who own the Empress.  Their goal is to provide a venue that provides convenience, class, & versatility.  It’s truly a getaway from city life & almost like you’re transported to a dream home.  I love the privacy of the location & all the choices there are for using the space they have.
First you walk through the winged lion gates & down to the entrance.  As you look up at all the details, you know that this place is special!  There’s a small balcony above the front door, which would be a great place to take pictures.  I had so many ideas already running through my mind! 

Photo from The Empress Estate Facebook page - William James Photography

Once you walk in the doors, you’re greeted by a beautiful entryway that’s surrounded by the most beautiful staircase coming down on the right & left side in a semi-spiral – another awesome photo opportunity that has so many possibilities. 

Photo from The Empress Estate Facebook page - Entrance with Beautiful Staircase - Powers Studios

The next room we went in had a dancefloor…on water!!!  There was plexiglass over the top & lights underneath that can be set to colors you like.  The lights reflect off the water & it’s just surreal.  Next to this dancing area is a nice dining area.  The Empress has their own tables & chiavari chairs, so that’s another thing you don’t have to worry about (paying to transport rentals).  They can also provide some décor items & linens for the tables.  There are French doors that go out to the paved patio, so your reception seating can be inside & outside.  They also have a nice tent that can be set up out there with drapery & a chandelier.  They’ve truly added things to their venue to make it easier for those planning events there!  They even have a chef on-staff, so you can avoid catering transport & reheating.

Photo from The Empress Estate Facebook page - Water Dancefloor

Photo from The Empress Estate Facebook page - Chiavari Chairs, banquet tables, linens, decor, & more availlabe onsite
Outside of this reception area is a grassy area surrounded by beautiful views of rolling hills.  This is a potential ceremony area…of the many potential ceremony areas available.  Next we went to the other side where there was a piano & lounge area with a huge fireplace!  Next to that was another dining area.
All of these areas are so versatile!  Furniture can be moved in & out to accommodate what you’d like to use the space for & you can really get creative!  The walls are all a white color, so you can easily bring in your theme & color scheme & not have it look awkward. 

Photo from The Empress Estate Facebook page - Large Grassy Area

Photo from The Empress Estate Facebook page - Lounge room with many possibilities - William James Photography

There are 3 restrooms downstairs for guests to use & several suites upstairs for those who may like to stay overnight.  There is a beautiful bridal suite & a groom suite for getting ready & both are very spacious & nicely decorated.  The bridal suite even has a vanity & a large bathroom with lots of mirrors. 

Photo from The Empress Estate Facebook page - Bridal Suite - William James Photography

Photo from The Empress Estate Facebook page - Lounge room transformed to ceremony space

There’s so much more to say about the possibilities of The Empress Estate, but I think you just have to go there & see for yourself…tell them Allison at Reverie sent you J

460 Empress Lane, Woodland, WA 98674
T: 360.225.5555, M: 503.866.0970

Thanks for visiting & reading,

Friday, November 15, 2013

Steampunk Wedding Showcase...on a boat!!!

Last Saturday I was part of the Weddings on the Water showcase hosted by Portland Spirit River Cruises.  The cool thing about this show was that each boat was assigned a theme and was set-up to look the way it might for an actual wedding.  This gave vendors a chance to show what they can do and those who attended the ability to see it firsthand. 

All photos courtesy of Paul Rich Studio

Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler - Steampunk Showcase Venue

I was the coordinator for the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, whose theme was steampunk!  I worked with 3 local companies to pull it off: Something Borrowed Vintage Rentals, Swoon Floral Design, & Artisan Cake Company.

Me with the Reverie vendor table

For this showcase, the goal was to create something truly unique & fun for guests to look at...not something that would be glanced over & passed by.  To accomplish this, there was a different mini theme at each table. 

There were 4 tables set & decorated.  The thing all table had in common were the maroon linens &  mismatched place settings which added so much more intrigue & made the look more authentic & unique.  Each table was truly a feast for the eyes!

Table 1: Literary Table

This table featured torn out old book pages acting as a runner, vintage typewriter, vintage books, & floral arrangements in tarnished silver goblets. 

Table 2: Aviation/Travel

This table featured scraps of leather acting as an overlay, vintage suitcase, vintage cameras, steampunk goggles, brass candelabras, & floral arrangements in tarnished silver creamers/sugar bowls & vintage brass vessel.

Table 3: Tea Party

This table featured a toffee colored runner, vintage (mismatched) teacups & saucers, & floral arrangements in vintage teapots.

Table 4: Time

This table featured a toffee colored runner, a variety of vintage clocks, large & small cogs scattered throughout, & floral arrangements set on silver platters & topped with large glass cloches. 

 The cake table featured a fondant covered, tiered cake topped off with the top hat & goggles that are signature to the steampunk style.  There were also cupcakes with little cogs decorating the top & cog shaped frosted cookies. 

The ceremony area featured a wall of vintage suitcases to act as a backdrop with some floral accents mixed in.

Throughout the boat there were lots of vintage accents…skeleton keys, trunks, sewing machine, dress form – the list goes on!

Reverie vendor table - goggles from

Menu designs I created for the event

Reverie vendor table

Something Borrowed Vendor Table

Something Borrowed Vendor Table

Something Borrowed Vendor Table
Swoon vendor table
There were so many people involved in making this event a success & it was so amazing to see it all come together after all the planning.  It definitely wouldn’t have been so amazing without the contributions of each & every person & the open line of communication between our 4 companies & Portland Spirit.

Our steampunk bride!

You can visit the following sites of contributors for this showcase: - Coordination – Vintage Rentals – Photography - Truffles included in the reverie contribution to the swag bags - Decorated Mini Top Hats & Jewelry – Steampunk Goggles – Venue & Host – Hair & Makeup (Bride)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

5 Budget-Conscious Wedding DOs & DON’Ts

It’s completely okay to be on a tight budget for your wedding…you just don’t want it to appear that way to your guests!  It’s like the saying, “Champagne style on a beer budget”; well you can do it!

I’ve compiled a list of DOs & DON’Ts for wedding planning on a tight budget based on trends I’ve seen recently.

1. DO – use lots of candles if it’s appropriate for the time of day, lighting, etc.  Candles are an inexpensive way to add to your décor and are especially great when you have other décor elements that reflect the light.  It gives a magical feeling!  My philosophy on candles is that you can never have too many and they can fill in those gaps in décor as well as set the mood.

DON’T – use tealights with the tin bottom unless they won’t be seen.  A clear cup looks best when the entire candle is visible.  Tealights that are removed from the tin or come uncontained will not burn long because the wax spills outward and will not keep the wick burning.  LED candles are another enemy of mine.  You can’t beat the radiant light that comes from a real candle, and I have an issue with anything fake.  LED candles should only be used if you have to or if they will not be seen directly.  There are some exceptions…I’ve seen some great looking LED candles with real wax and a “flame” that is held lower within the wax so you don’t see it easily.  These are better when the candle will be high enough that people can’t see right in and know that it’s fake.  It’s always good to test any ideas you have…a show doesn’t go as well when there’s no dress rehearsal!

You can purchase large quantities of tealight or votive candles and they typically burn for at least 3 hours.  Small glass cups to hold the candles also come in quantity packages at affordable prices.

2. DO – purchase real flowers!  If you cannot afford to pay a floral designer for all your flowers, consider getting quotes on the most important floral (like the bridal bouquet) or even coming up with several ideas for your floral arrangements to see if one will work better with your budget.  There may be somewhere you can purchase flowers yourself and just do simple arrangements on guest tables, etc.  Before resorting to this, I would check with several floral designers and see what can be done with your budget and also ask for suggestions from them for cutting costs.  Floral is SO important, so I wouldn’t give up on professional arrangements very easily.

DON’T – please DON’T use artificial flowers!  The only time that might be considered ok is if they are used on something not within eye level where anyone would ever recognize they aren’t real.  Artificial flowers and plants are tacky and may cost more than the real thing. 

With some research and planning, you should be able to pull off real floral on a tight budget.  There are also some alternatives that will cut down on the amount of floral you’ll need to purchase…just no plastic!!!

3. DO – ask for help!  Doing everything on your own is overwhelming and exhausting.  Having a planner/coordinator will save you!  On a tight budget it may make sense to just have a day-of coordinator to make sure everything goes the way it should. 

DON’T – try to do everything without help outside of your family and close friends.  Every bride has a vision of their wedding day and when people we love get involved it can get ugly.  They may have their own idea of how your wedding should be which can cause tension if you don’t like their input or they may flake out which can have permanent effects on your relationship.  You don’t want to add drama or hard feelings to your day!

4. DO – pick a color theme(s) that is easy to match.  Some specific color shades are very difficult to match and can make it difficult to find appropriate décor items within your price range.  When items that should be the same shade are close to one another and obviously not the same shade they can look tacky. 

DON’T – be inconsistent with colors and textures.  If the décor is a mish mash of random stuff you found it can be overwhelming to take in.  You and your guests should feel calm and not overloaded by a bunch of random crap that fit the theme.

Be picky about what you purchase for your décor.  If the look you end up having is minimalist, that’s better than a busy thrift store type of feeling and spaces can always be filled with candles or other small accents that fill in those gaps.  White, gold, and silver are some go-to colors that are easy to match and can easily be mixed with any colors.

5. DO – look fabulous!  Invest in hair and makeup at least for yourself, as well as alterations for your dress.  You want to feel like a million bucks on your wedding day!  You shouldn’t look like you do every other day and you shouldn’t have pressure on yourself to do your own hair and makeup.  Your dress should also fit and flatter you in all the right ways.  You don’t want boob spillover…or spillover of any kind for that matter!  Your dress should also be the proper length.  Bridal gown consultants can help you find a gown that does all of this!  I would avoid ordering online or based on how you saw someone else look in the gown (in a magazine, etc.)  Your gown should be unique to you and it’s worth the time and money investment to make sure it’s right.

DON’T – have Susie next-door do your hair and makeup…unless she is a professional!  Just because someone has a talent for doing their own hair and makeup does not make them capable of making you look your best on your wedding day.  It’s only one day, but it will live on through photos and memories forever.  Why be stuck with unprofessional results when there are affordable options for quality professional services?

It’s a good idea to do run-through of hair and makeup.  It may be more flattering to have your hair up or down depending on the dress style and makeup may look better a little understated or more dramatic.  You can experiment with different looks and have proper time to decide what you like best.

That’s all I have for now!  There are so many more DOs and DON’Ts I can think of…so maybe a part 2 is in order for the future.

Stay positive and remember to put yourself first sometimes -

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Wedding and Event Lighting

When you’re helping create the wedding of someone’s dreams, it’s important to be educated on all the details.  This week I’ve been so captivated by lighting and the ways it can transform a space….kind of like how the right lighting in a photo can make something ordinary look absolutely beautiful.  Without the right lighting, the recipe for the look you want is incomplete…you gotta get it right!

You can't tell the walls are yellow any more!

A venue may be used to host hundreds of weddings, but it doesn’t always have to look the same!  Your wedding should reflect your personal style and the lighting can serve as the perfect complement to the space, décor, and the overall feeling you want to convey.  I recently looked at a venue that had, what I consider to be, the ugliest wallpaper known to man.  Everything else was great…but overshadowed by those nasty walls!  With the right lighting, this wouldn’t be an issue.  That’s important to keep in mind…a space may have some undesirable features, but you can downplay those or even make them disappear with the right lighting.
As part of my mission to be an educated planner, I paid a visit to Hollywood Lights here in Portland.  Ed (the rental manager) and one of his associates gladly took the time to show me around a bit and further educate me on different aspects of lighting.  They demonstrated by turning their warehouse space into a nightclub dance floor, which was complimented by one of my favorite songs by The Cure and a fog machine.  These guys are passionate about what they do and they have fun with it!  Ed talked about the different emotions that lighting can invoke not just in the space itself, but also in the pictures taken within the space.  He provided me with a nifty swatch book of different colored light filters to assist me in finding what will be good for a space.  I asked him what he would say in one sentence about lighting and here’s what I got, “Lights can convey any mood.”  It’s so true!  The lighting in a space can completely transform how you feel when you’re in it, or when you see pictures of it.  Though the day will end, it will live on through memories and photos.

So I found that there is a science to lighting and I can’t be a complete expert on the topic, but I am now more educated and know I can turn to Ed and his team for consultation…and lights! 

I found the photo above on the site for J&M Entertainment...they also had this great video:

Also, check out my “Lighting” board on Pinterest

I hope this has inspired you!

Thanks for stopping by J

Monday, September 30, 2013

Table Settings

One important aspect of a reception, or other event that includes meal service, is the presentation of each place setting.  The place settings can set the tone for the event & their design & color also act as a part of the decor.  Below is an image I found on Pinterest that shows informal vs. formal place settings.  I personally prefer something in between.  I like the look of a lot of glassware on the table because the glass in reflective & I just love clean clear glass :)

A great way to spruce up a place setting is the addition of a charger plate...

You may see these at Michael's or other craft stores for around $1 each (prices vary depending on design & quality).  The charger plate has a long history & has been used as an under-plate for food bearing bowls & plates to keep spillage from getting on the linens.  A charger plate IS NOT TO EAT OFF!  I absolutely cringe when I see people make this mistake.  Charger plates are not a money-saving alternative to plates & they are not manufactured to be eaten off of & can contain very harmful substances that may be absorbed into your food.  That being said, charger plates ARE a great way to incorporate color into your place setting & to really amplify the wow factor of your tablescape....especially if your serving pieces are muted or kind of boring.  Event rental companies should offer chargers for rent, but if they don't have the color you want you can always order your own (you can also check on in the classifieds section to see if anyone is selling any or sell the ones you buy on there afterwards).  There are literally hundreds of different places to buy or order chargers.

Like I said before, I prefer to go with a place setting somewhere between formal & long as it looks fabulous I'm happy!

For more helpful information check out my "Helpful Wedding Information" board on Pinterest...even if you're not into following guidelines, it's good to review & pull from it what you want. I'm also working on a charger board now that I'm all excited about chargers!

Thanks for stopping by!