Two years ago, Heather Noss left her gig as a foreign-service officer at the State Department in order to tap into her artsy side. She was looking for a less bureaucratic career, and when she learned how to letterpress, she knew she’d found her niche. Shortly thereafter, she and her husband opened their Cleveland Park stationery shop, Digby & Rose, which sells whimsical yet elegant custom paper goods. We asked Noss to give us her top tips for ordering wedding stationery and getting in touch with your inner Emily Post.
What etiquette mistakes do you see people make most often, and how would you suggest avoiding them?
Most people have questions about what they should be doing—and that’s part of what you’re paying for by working with a stationer. You should ask your stationer how to word and address invitations in a way that is clear and courteous to guests such that they know who is invited and feel their stature has been acknowledged.
The Expert: Bill Moran
Merrill Lynch senior vice president and senior financial analyst
Okay, Bill, let’s say a client has come to you who has just gotten engaged. Where do you begin?
My budget advice would be the same as my marriage advice: Keep the lines of communication open at all times. Talk about your goals and aspirations, what you imagine things looking like for the wedding, and decide what each of you wants most from the day. The couple will also need to decide how much emphasis (and money) they want to place on this one day, versus other goals they may have for their future together, like buying a home or starting a retirement fund. We will also need to discuss where they individually stand financially, so we can figure out where they stand as a collective unit.
What are some potential pitfalls couples need to watch out for when it comes to planning a wedding?
The biggest issue I see is when a couple is not on the same page, whether that’s about finances or the wedding in general, and they aren’t communicating about it. If you have one partner who is an ultra-long-term planner and thinking about how to retire comfortably at 65, and the other isn’t looking past the immediate future of desperately wanting a 20-piece band and roses on every table, we are going to hit a speed bump.
By Erin Keane Scott
This summer seems like one never-ending heatwave, and while the Fro-Zen-Yo on M Street has been getting more play from our offices than we’d like to admit, it also got us thinking: What similarly cool treat could couples serve their wedding guests, especially during nuptials that take place during this sweltering time of year?
Enter Alison Reed, pastry chef at Ripple in Cleveland Park and the mastermind behind sister store Sugar Magnolia’s creative and tasty ice cream sandwiches. In variations such as maple-bacon pressed gently between homemade waffle cookies, or coffee ice cream surrounded by delicate and flavorful macaroons, her sweetly packaged, innovative desserts are the perfect after-dinner treat to impress, and cool down, party-goers. We caught up with Reed to chat about wedding desserts and what’s new at Sugar Magnolia.
You’re not quite known for doing weddings . . . yet. What can a bride expect if she wants Sugar Magnolia treats served at her wedding?
I would probably try to follow a theme. I can do a smaller cake, we could do a couple of flavors of ice cream sandwiches, sugar cookies with piped initials, and personalized fortune cookies. My recipes that are a little more homey would be well-suited for a dessert bar.
I always dreamed my daughter would get married in our church. Now she tells me a friend is getting ordained online and will conduct the wedding ceremony. I just feel terrible. What can I do?
Welcome to the club. My son got married on a jogging path in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. He did agree to honor our Jewish heritage by breaking a glass at the end of the ceremony—but he neglected to tell us that he would be wearing flip-flops. Thank goodness the glass was well wrapped and we didn’t have to go straight from the wedding to the emergency room! Hard as it is to accept our children’s choices sometimes, maintaining our relationship with them is more important than any wedding venue.
My wedding budget is really tight. Do we have to entertain out-of-town guests for the entire wedding weekend?
Many weddings now seem to last as long and have as many events as coronations. But there is no requirement that you plan multiple activities—particularly if you are getting married here in the Washington area. I don’t mean to sound self-serving, but I’d suggest getting each out-of-town guest a copy of the Washingtonian Welcome Guide (to order, call 202-331-0715), or directing them to our one-, two-, three-, and four-day itineraries online, and letting them loose on the city. With so many free museums and monuments to visit, they should find plenty to do without you. And you’ll have more time to relax and prepare for your big day without the added pressure and expense of planning and attending multiple get-togethers.
By Erin Keane Scott
Welcome to a new feature on Bridal Party. We'll be meeting some of our area's very best wedding dessert connoisseurs every other week with "Take the Cake."
There’s a new recipe for creating beautiful cakes. Mix a lifetime of classical ballet training with a French pastry education and an apprenticeship with superchef Charlie Trotter’s dessert genius, Della Gossett, and you’ll reach something pretty close to perfection. Maggie Austin brings exactly that delectable résumé of accomplishments to DC, whipping up innovative flavor combinations and beautiful decorations. We caught up with Maggie to talk trends, her favorite flavors, and how baking is like ballet.
Who is the “Maggie Austin” bride?
Brides who are doing their research, who are on Pinterest and reading blogs looking for ideas.
And what can a couple expect at one of your cake tastings?
I definitely have a distinct style, but I get inspired by my clients. I don’t ask them to bring anything along to the consultation; rather I ask them to talk about the aesthetic they’re going for. I won’t re-create the dress in cake form.
By Kate Bennett
My daughter is a vegan, and she wants a strictly vegan menu for her wedding reception. I don’t think our elder relatives are going to eat tofu. Do I have to go along with her wishes?
Vegan choices, yes. Vegan only, not necessarily. Sometimes a bride needs to be reminded that wedding guests are not extras in her personal movie but are valued participants invited to share her celebration. Also, guests who don’t eat much tend to make up for it with liquor consumption, and that can create more “celebration” than any bride would welcome.
I’m getting married next year. My parents went through a nasty divorce a year ago. My father wants me to make his new wife a part of the wedding plans; my mother says “No way.” I’m caught in the middle, but I understand how my mother feels. What can I do?
Sounds like the divorce and the wedding are too close for comfort. Your dad isn’t being Mr. Sensitivity, so you’ll have to provide a not-too-gentle hint. Of course your new stepmother will be invited, will sit with him, etc. But you can assure him you and your mother already have the wedding well in hand and no additional help is needed. He should get the message.
Planning the perfect wedding is no easy feat. Between coordinating the endless details, wrangling your eccentric relatives, and making sure you’ve got something old, new, borrowed, and blue to wear on the big day, it’s quite the undertaking. So it’s perfectly understandable that you wouldn’t want the day you coordinated so carefully to be ruined by your cousin’s little rugrats running amok and wreaking havoc during the ceremony.
Children, no matter how adorable they are, can be a bit of a wild card when it comes to big events. So as you journey toward your wedding day, you have to decide: Do you include them in the festivities? And if so, how do you keep them happy through hour after hour of scheduled events?
Wedding planner Jennifer Stiebel of SoCo Events has used several tricks over the years to avoid near-disasters when it comes to kids and weddings. Below, she shares a few tips for how to incorporate pint-size attendants into your big day and still pull off the glamorous adult affair you’ve been dreaming of for so long.
Kids in the Wedding Party
We understand you’d love for your bestie’s adorable two-year-old to totter down the aisle amid hundreds of “awws” from your smiling guests. But the more likely scenario is that he or she will end up a) crying, b) falling, c) coming down with a paralyzing case of stage fright, or d) all of the above. Stiebel recommends choosing attendants between the ages of four and nine if you want to be able to “breathe a sigh of relief.”
By Kate Bennett
When it comes to shopping for the perfect vintage engagement ring, Matthew Rosenheim is one of our area’s go-to jewelers. As president of Tiny Jewel Box, the multi-story, family-run jewelry emporium and upscale gift shop on Connecticut Avenue in downtown DC, Rosenheim sources the largest selection of vintage jewels and unique antique engagement rings in town. (As for the “Tiny,” in the shop’s name? Even though the current incarnation is anything but small, the original storefront was a mere 600 square feet.) For Rosenheim and his team of retail specialists, working with a couple to find that ideal ring is as important as breathing new life into a time-treasured piece of sparkling history. However, shopping vintage isn’t the same as shopping new; there are several factors to consider, such as condition, style and fake vs. real. Rosenheim breaks it down:
Obviously, vintage rings aren’t mass-produced, so what are the odds of finding our perfect piece?
Shop often. Vintage rings are typically one-of-a-kind and tend to sell quickly. Communicate with your jeweler about what you’re looking for, and check back often.
By Washingtonian Staff
Brides! We’re turning to you to help us ask a roomful of wedding planners your every question about the big day. On Wednesday, June 6, Washingtonian Bride & Groom editor in chief Kate Bennett will host a Q&A with dozens of the best wedding planners in the business during a dinner at Seasons Restaurant inside the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC. We’re hoping you can help us come up with the perfect questions—food and beverage ideas, what to do about favors, how to devise the perfect guest list, the ideal budget breakdown, and more. We need your guidance, so tell us what’s on your mind.
E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow the conversation on Twitter, starting at 8 PM on June 6, hashtag #LuxBride.
The Expert: Eric Michael, co-owner of Occasions Caterers in Washington, DC
Let’s say I’m a bride who just got engaged and I have no clue where to begin. What are the first steps when starting to plan?
First, enjoy every minute of being engaged; it’s such a special and happy time! Then set the date, set the tone, and set the budget. Once you’ve picked the date and the tone, whether formal, casual, or black-tie, it’s time for an honest discussion with your parents, if they have offered to pay, or with your groom, about how much you would like to spend on each aspect of the wedding and reception. Don’t take on more debt than you can handle.