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Expert Advice

Ask the Expert: Using Sustainable Flowers for Your Wedding

Local florist Tobie Whitman of Little Acre Flowers shares her tips for choosing locally sourced arrangements.

By Jordan Muto Photographs courtesy of Tobie Whitman.

Despite asuccessful career in international development and women’s empowerment, Tobie Whitman felt like something was missing. “I wanted more creativity in my day,” she says. So in 2010, she began working at Allan-Woods Flowers, an upscale florist in DC, doing floral design and marketing. She soon began to think of a way to combine her interest in sustainability with her desire for a more creative career. “Being interested in the local food movement, I began to wonder why more people didn’t ask where their flowers come from,” she explains. This notion inspired her to start Little Acre Flowers, DC’s first completely locally sourced floral-design studio.

Whitman launched Little Acre Flowers this past Valentine’s Day, and creates arrangements using only the freshest locally available flowers at the time. Little Acre Flowers creates two floral designs daily—one arrangement and one bouquet, wrapped in Mayorga Coffee burlap sacks—which can be delivered throughout the Washington area. As of now, there is no retail shop, so clients must order online, where arrangements and bouquets start at $40 and are available in three different sizes.

We recently chatted with Whitman about Little Acre Flowers and the possibility of making these local arrangements part of a wedding.

How did you decide to enter the floral business?

I have always loved flowers from when I was a little girl—I’m from California and grew up in a major growing area. I love that my job helps bring joy into people’s lives. I decided to start a local-only floral business because I think a lot of changes need to be made in the industry.

What makes you unique in comparison to other florists in the area?

Little Acre Flowers is DC’s only 100-percent locally sourcing florist. By staying local, we provide fresher arrangements, minimize our environmental impact, support nearby farms, and promote seasonality. It’s an extension of the “eat local” movement—freshness, variety, and sustainability. We are a perfect choice for brides and grooms who are interested in a sustainable wedding.

Why did you decide to use only locally sourced flowers?

I wanted a more sustainable floral industry. Did you know most flowers are stale and shipped from thousands of miles away? They arrive soaked in chemicals and packed without any water. Through cultivation, many unique characteristics, including fragrance, are gone. Delicate, local varieties are being lost in favor of hardy options. As with the food I buy, I started to ask more about the flowers I was bringing home.

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Expert Advice

Ask the Expert: The Photo Booth Trend

Daniel Nakamura, owner of Booth-o-Rama, shares the benefits of having a photo booth at your reception.

By Irina Grechko Photograph courtesy of Booth-o-Rama Modern Photobooths.

What Daniel Nakamura, owner of Booth-o-Rama Modern Photobooths, loves about photographing people is the moments they don’t notice the camera, when they are purely in their element. “I thought the best way to capture people being their most real and genuine selves was to remove the photographer and put guests behind a curtain so no one could watch,” says Nakamura. “I liked the concept of a traditional photo booth, but I thought just two heads squeezed together was not fun.” So in 2008, he designed and created a large photo booth, equipped to fit up to 12 or 13 people, and launched Booth-o-Rama. We caught up with photo guru, who shared why a photo booth is worth the wedding investment.

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Expert Advice

Ask the Expert: Getting Healthy for the Wedding Day and Beyond

Local dietitian Carlene Thomas shares her tips to help brides look and feel their best.

By Irina Grechko
Photograph courtesy of Carlene Thomas.

With so much pressure to look their best in time for the big day, brides sometimes forget about wellness, and many embark on extreme diets. Enter Carlene Thomas, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and the voice of reason behind the health-oriented lifestyle blog Healthfully Ever After. A self-proclaimed foodie, Thomas got invested in wedding wellness while planning her own wedding in 2011. “As I met with my vendors, many remarked that they wished they had someone like me to send their brides to. They were seeing dangerous crash dieting behaviors in the name of being skinny,” says Thomas.

Thomas now works with brides (and also does remote Skype sessions for those not local) to cheer them on to make healthy changes before and after the the wedding. The personalized sessions can include anything from what to order when you get takeout to where to host a healthy bridal shower, depending on the bride’s individual needs. The only thing Thomas won’t say “I do” to is diets. Instead, she encourages brides to stand tall and smile. “Confidence and positivity are a major part of how you look. Even just standing up straight with your shoulders back will help lengthen the way your body looks,” she says.

Read on for Thomas’s nutrition and wellness tips.

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Expert Advice

Ask the Expert: The Importance of Premarital Counseling

Relationship consultant Glennon Gordon shares the benefits of addressing issues before the wedding.

By Irina Grechko
Photograph courtesy of Glennon Gordon.

When it comes to the should we/shouldn’t we question of getting premarital counseling, a growing number of couples are choosing to sit down with a psychotherapist to discuss what “for better and for worse” really entails. “It is an opportunity for the couple to think together about questions they may or may not have thought about, as well as an opportunity to hear answers they may not have heard before. Even the most communicative couples end up learning something new about their fiancé[e],” says Glennon Gordon, a relationship expert and consultant at the Learning Space who works with couples to prepare them for marriage and the challenges that can sometimes arise after the honeymoon is over.

Gordon offers three one-hour sessions with soon-to-be newlyweds, wherein she teaches how to become effective communicators and avoid common pitfalls of relationships; she also touches on past relationships to help troubleshoot problems that might come down the road. “We talk about all the ‘hot topics’ in relationships, such as sex, finances, faith, parenting, and roles in and around the house. These topics become hot because people don’t learn how to talk about them from the beginning. Over time, the conflict or the distance that these issues create becomes increasingly difficult to undo,” she says.

Here, Gordon shares her tips for surviving the stresses of wedding planning and being the best partner you can possibly be.

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Wedding Jewelry and Accessories

Q&A With Emily Martin of Bride’s Head Revisited

We caught up with the designer behind DC’s couture veil brand.

By Irina Grechko Bella and Florence veils are some of the designer's favorites. All photographs courtesy of Bride's Head Revisited.
Emily Martin.

With so much focus surrounding the search for the perfect wedding dress, finding a veil to match may seem like a daunting task. Thanks to Bride’s Head Revisited, a couture-quality veil company, walking down the aisle just got a whole lot easier.

Known for their custom services, Bride’s Head Revisited works with brides to create an individualized headpiece, from length and volume to the trim, detail, and color. And it gets better—the custom bridal veil couturiers, whose wares were previously only available at Hitched, have relocated from New York this winter to open up a studio in Capitol Hill. “We love working directly with brides to create completely custom designs in our Washington, DC, design studio,” says Emily Martin, the designer behind the brand.

We caught up with Martin to learn more about her new studio and get a few tips on choosing the perfect veil.

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Expert Advice

Ask the Experts: Getting Fit for the Big Day With the Bar Method

The studio will whip brides-to-be into shape with new wedding packages.

By Irina Grechko All photographs courtesy of The Bar Method.

After only one Bar Method class in Chicago in 2009, Kate Arnold was hooked. “I immediately fell in love with it. I was amazed at the changes I saw in my body, my posture, my alignment, and my endurance,” she says. Based on fat-burning interval training and principles of dance conditioning, the body-sculpting workout incorporates barre, floor, and light weight exercises combined with muscle isolation techniques.

In 2010 Arnold and her husband returned to the District, and she was surprised to find there were no Bar Method studios in the area. The career attorney decided on a big life change—she left her law job and opened the first Washington-area outpost of Bar Method. “I couldn’t imagine my life without a [Bar Method] studio. I contacted Bar Method headquarters and began to inquire about opening one,” she says.

Three years later, the Bar Method has expanded to Chinatown and Bethesda and has earned some loyal followers—so loyal that the instructors know most of their fitness enthusiasts by name. But the DC franchise doesn’t stop there. It will now offer brides-to-be and bridesmaids a get-in-shape wedding package. We caught up with Arnold, who told us about the new wedding workout and her tips on looking your best in time for the big day.

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Expert Advice

Ask the Experts: Registering for Dinnerware

Choosing pieces is a breeze with the help of Four Seasons “china specialist” John Flynn.

By Irina Grechko All photographs courtesy of Rosenthal Sambonet.

For a newly engaged couple, setting up a wedding registry for table settings may seem like a daunting experience. There’s the patterns, the styles, the number, the pieces—the list goes on and on. This is where John Flynn, director of stewarding at Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, comes in. Flynn, dubbed the “china specialist” by the Four Seasons, holds a complimentary consultation with every couple planning a wedding at the hotel in order to help them register for china, silver, crystal, and glassware pieces.

“Whether it’s ornate and vibrant or simple and understated, our priority is helping busy couples find a pattern for life,” says Flynn. We caught up with the hotel’s resident china whisperer, who shares his top tips for bridal registries, the season’s hottest china patterns, and the best ways to care for your tableware in the years to come.

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Expert Advice

Ask the Experts: Home for Two

The challenge of blending two domestic spaces into one gets a little easier with help from Lori Graham of Lori Graham Design and Showroom 1412.

By Kate Bennett Lori Graham's own line of custom furniture, LG Place, includes this sectional, which is a timeless addition to the family room.
Designer Lori Graham.

Whether you opt to cohabitate before the big day or after, moving into a cohesive marital home presents a unique set of challenges, from dual couches to a fiancé overly attached to his La-Z-Boy recliner. We checked in with some of our favorite interior designers to get their advice on how to soothe stressed-out moving woes and seamlessly shift to domestic bliss.

What’s the best way to tackle moving in and combining homes? 

A good first step is determining each person’s “non-negotiable” pieces—the ones that MUST be incorporated into the design plan of the new home. These are pieces that carry a great deal of sentimental value or are simply loved for one reason or another. Then assess the pieces as a whole and determine what they say about you as a couple. Even better, use the “Venn diagram approach.” Where do the pieces overlap? This will tell you the tastes you have in common. Equally as important, which pieces seem to stand out as different from the rest?

While keeping the non-negotiable pieces in mind, develop an overall design plan for your new home. Decide together how you want the home to look—modern, traditional, eclectic, sophisticated, casual, etc. Start determining ways to incorporate the pieces into your new plan. Keep in mind that pieces may go in different rooms and that furniture sets can and most likely will be separated.

This bedroom showcases how different side tables and lamps, not a set, work well because of the harmony of the wall treatment, chandelier, and other elements that ground the room. 

Finally, when developing the plan, make sure to account for each person’s personal habits and quirks. Does one of you need a reading chair in the master bedroom? Do you hate putting your toes on a cold floor in the morning? Does your partner prefer bright overhead lighting rather than soft mood lighting? Take the time to discuss these quirks and preferences and make sure to incorporate them into your design plan. You want the home to be comfortable for both of you and cater to each of your daily living habits.

After a couple has taken those steps, what next? 

Depending on budget, combining households can be a great opportunity to get rid of worn or tattered pieces that are not worth refurbishing, refinishing, or retrofitting. Donate these items, try to sell them, or simply call a junk removal service. We rely on Junk in the Trunk.

Also get rid of any pieces that do not fit into the design plan you’ve decided on together—pieces that don’t fit space- or style-wise. Pay attention to room dimensions and continuously consult your new plan while asking yourself if the piece conveys what you’re trying to accomplish in the combined spaces.

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Expert Advice

Expert Tips: Wedding Planning Essentials from Pineapple Productions

Whether it's avoiding trendy tones or sticking to solutions, one planner weighs in with her top five must-dos for couples-to-be.

By Kate Bennett One of Allison Jackson's tips is to edit your ideas - which often results in a solid theme that's easier to translate into your wedding. Photograph by Jacqueline Campbell Photography.

We once again inquired what the area’s top wedding planners would advise if they were to map out the essential “wedding resolutions” for 2013.

This week we hear from Allison Jackson of Pineapple Productions.

1) “I resolve not to let the Pantone Color of the Year determine my wedding color palette.” The Pantone Color of the Year might be nice inspiration for your next cocktail dress purchase, but it shouldn’t drive your wedding style decisions. When considering colors, look to what exists in nature and know that those color combinations will not only stand the test of time but will also work aesthetically. (Basically, Mother Nature knows best.) Examples of recent wedding color palettes inspired by nature: golden apricot, rosy coral, smoky lavender, and grayish blue, inspired by late summer sunsets; woodsy brown, olive green, and berry pink, inspired by a woodland scene; cobalt blue, seaglass turquoise, and sand white, inspired by an island beach; and coral, butter yellow, and tropical green, inspired by a parrot tulip.

This floral color palette was inspired by nature. Photograph by Jacqueline Campbell Photography. 

2) “I resolve to love my Plan B as much as my Plan A.” Whenever I am working with a bride who is planning a wedding with outdoor elements, my goal is to get her to love her Plan B as much as her Plan A. In order for that to be possible, all contingency plans must be thought through and detailed to the Nth degree to allow for as much beauty, creativity, and ambience as your “good weather” scenario. At the end of the day, rain, strong winds, unseasonably chilly weather . . . everything must be considered. Talk to your wedding planner about how decor elements might be repositioned or even reworked in the event of bad weather. Embrace the possibility of bad weather, and make sure your tent is as weather-proof as possible. Have resources identified for supplies that might come in handy—cute umbrellas, towels, golf carts, tented pathways, pashminas, planks or stepping-stone-type walkways, and outdoor heat lamps. The only way to deal with weather anxiety is to love your Plan B!

A tent is often a solid Plan B option when selecting an outdoor venue. 

And don't let a windy day spoil a joyous occasion. Both photographs by Patricia Lyons Photography. 

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Expert Advice

Ask the Expert: Farm-to-Table Weddings

La Prima Catering & Events' Dave Evans shares tips for planning a sustainable, locally sourced menu.

By Natalie Grasso Photograph by Lauren Cunningham of Lauren C Photography.

La Prima Catering & Events’ first Seeds to Celebrations wedding reception went off in September without a hitch. We spoke with La Prima’s president, Dave Evans, to learn more about the company’s sustainable approach to catering, see photos of “pioneer” bride and groom Jessie Greger and Jeremy Solt’s mouthwateringly fresh menu, and find out how you, too, might plan a farm-to-table wedding.

The expert: Dave Evans, president of of La Prima Catering and Events

Jessie and Jeremy’s wedding was in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and La Prima partnered with Open Book Farm, near the reception site. Are you able to team up with other farms to cater weddings in different locations?

Yes, as long as the farm is within a two-hour drive of one of our five kitchens, we can team with farmers in a wide geographic area. On this wedding we partnered with Open Book Farm, but we could have easily executed this wedding at a venue anywhere in the metropolitan area.

Photographs by Kim Haines, Marketing Coordinator, La Prima Food Group.
Photographs by Kim Haines, Marketing Coordinator, La Prima Food Group.

How far in advance do a bride and groom have to start planning with you for a farm-to-table reception?

Planning for this “grown to order” wedding began in February. To plan a farm-to-table event, the time frame should be similar to any other event. The primary difference is the menu. Clearly the summer growing season gives us the most variety and options for a grown-to-order event. But we catered an all-vegetarian bat mitzvah in December, and because of the mild winter, we were able to incorporate fresh-from-the-garden greens, herbs, and root vegetables into the menu with superb results. A December event will not have tomatoes and melons but can be built around greenhouse greens and root vegetables.

What gave you the idea for the Seeds to Celebrations arm of La Prima?

Over the past few years, the possibility of working with smaller, sustainable farms has been more of a focus for us. The inspiration for this was my daughter, who decided to become a farmer and is now operating her own sustainable farm outside of Rutland, Vermont. In 2010 we opened a sustainable urban garden at our headquarters in College Park, Maryland. We now cultivate and harvest fresh tomatoes, basil, Swiss chard, braising greens, oregano, thyme, parsley, mint, and other herbs. In fact, last summer we harvested more than 800 pounds of tomatoes and more than 300 pounds of basil—enough to make our own pesto throughout the year.

The garden and our other efforts—recycling, composting all our food waste, converting our kitchens to wind power, and developing partnerships with local sustainable farms—all led to the idea for this type of fully sustainable farm-to-table event. After having talked with Jessie and Jeremy and learning of their commitment to the environment and desire to use locally sourced products, the idea of Seeds to Celebrations came into focus.

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Preferred Wedding Vendors