We Alchemists love flowers. There really isn’t a flower we don’t love. It makes us sad to hear someone disparage Carnations – we say Dianthus – because we love their smell and en masse they are frilly fragrant gorgeous things. We love to create with Baby’s Breath – we say Gypsophila – because it’s light and unexpected and can be unpretentiously chic.
There is, however, one thing that can get florally tricky for us – the color blue. Blue is just tough… Scientists say that the color blue reduces stress, creating a sense of calmness, relaxation and order. That may be true when we ladies are on a beach looking at a clear sunny sky, but when a bride wants her wedding’s signature color to be blue, we tend to take a deep breath…
If not done well, we Alchemists feel that blue flowers can look “forced” and sadly a bit FTD. Truth be told, there aren’t a lot of gorgeous blue options in the flower world. There are certainly Hydrangea and Delphinium – tried and true – in a variety of shades, but other than these two blue beauties, it’s seasonal slim pickings…
So, what to do when blue is the request and it’s time to change it up from the usual? How do we make the client happy and keep from singing the blues at the same time? How can you use blue when it needs to be more substantial than the last “something” in the famous rhyme that begins, “something old, something new, something borrowed?” Well, sometimes you look elsewhere…
We are currently designing a wedding for which we have purchased a good deal of beautiful blue Transferware vessels and accent pieces. Ask Alchemist and Warehouse Master Ashley how she feels about ALL of the new inventory! Blue and white pottery has been popular since way back when and it’s still fresh and on trend today. It will never go out of style. For this upcoming event, the beautiful color and classic look of the porcelain allow us the opportunity to open up the floral playbook while still delivering that blue “message”…
Sometimes we can best bring blue into an event with linens or stemware. Whether in a gorgeous tablecloth, pretty napkins, or a statement water glass, a little blue can go a long way. With amazing purveyors like Party Tables, I Do Linens, BBJ Linen Rental, La Tavola Fine Linen Rental, Wildflower Linens, Southern Vintage Rentals, and more, there is something for everyone’s taste and budget to let the blue shine through.
Requests for blue weddings are never going away and why should they? A company named Spoonflower conducted a long term study which determined that blue is by far the most popular color in the country, despite the last election results. It is here to stay, and when we Alchemists get requests from excited and eager brides who want their wedding to reflect America’s favorite color – their favorite color – we take our cue and find that “something blue”.
Can one underestimate the importance of coffee and tea in the life of event folks? We think not. It starts the day, it’s a much-needed boost during event set-up and strike, and party guests always request it when clients have said there’s absolutely no need whatsoever to have coffee on hand! It’s heaven when it’s good and it’s a headache – literally – when you don’t have it.
The days here at Alchemy Event Studio always start with either coffee or tea and sometimes both. Baristas Olivia and Ashley have been honing their craft with our sassy Tassimo machine, but when their coffee stylings just won’t do, we love a run to uber delicious Dancing Goats Coffee Bar. We can’t recommend their coffee highly enough…
Atlanta also has a number of companies who provide upgraded and delicious coffee service at events. Bean in the Borough is one such company who can cappuccino with the best of them. Add branded coffee cups and sleeves and your event experience is that much more personalized. We Alchemists love the idea of a mobile barista ready to assist guests at the valet line as they retrieve their cars after a great party. People often talk about providing an exciting entrance for parties. Don’t forget to also make a memorable exit!
Let’s also not forget that even in this world of Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, the most popular beverage on the planet is actually tea. From Afternoon Tea at The St. Regis Atlanta to icy cold sweet tea at our favorite barbeque places, tea in the South is not playing second fiddle.
Marietta’s Vintage English Teacup pays homage to the world’s most popular beverage but their beautiful china, platters, and stands will add a pop of color and pattern to any tabletop. Their Instagram hashtag is #jewelryforyourtable and we couldn’t agree more. Don’t equate tea with fussiness. We have a tea drinker among us at AES – a heavy duty tea drinker – whose presence is often signaled by a trail of green tea and oolong cans left in her wake. Now that these little cans of unsweetened tea can be ordered on Amazon Prime, lives have been made easier and anti-oxidants abound.
Years ago the Florida Orange Juice Growers came up with the slogan, “It’s not just for breakfast anymore,” to promote their signature beverage. The same can certainly be said for OJ’s caffeinated cousins. Coffee and tea are for any time of day, make everything easier to muddle through, and should be given the fanfare they’re due. And if your day starts to drag and there’s no caffeine in sight, you may try another Alchemy Event Studio pick-me-up. It’s “Coffee Or Tea” by songstress Lisa Gail Allred. Enjoy. And don’t say we never gave you any good advice!
“Elvis has left the building,” is that fantastic, now famous phrase used at the end of Elvis shows to alert concertgoers that The King had departed the premises and they shouldn’t be far behind. It’s also what we jokingly say when a wedding reception is over and the bride and groom have made their exit. These days the newlywed getaway can certainly be as unique and creative as the couple.
Many venues lend themselves to dramatic exits down beautiful staircases with petals tossed and friends lining the walkway. You’d be hard pressed to find a more spectacular shot than one taken of Four Seasons Atlanta’s grand staircase. The St. Regis Atlanta is another wonderful option for the photogenic staircase petal toss. We Alchemists are natural born fallers – sad, but true – so we passed on this type of exit for our own weddings. We do, however, love the look of it for those more graceful than ourselves!
In recent years, the confetti exit has become a fun way to send a couple off into their brave new married world. The photographs convey a real sense of energy and excitement and if your wedding has a particular color palette – say, blush and bashful – you can now even choose confetti in only your favored shades. We happen to love the fun whimsy of a real multi-color burst after a night of cream and bridal white, but it’s not up to us. Either way, do check with your venue first to see if they will allow a confetti exit. Confetti clean up can be a bit drastic!
A few years ago we participated in a wedding where the groom was an avid sportsman and hunter. At the couple’s send-off, beribboned duck calls were distributed to the guests. The bride and groom were not met with confetti as they departed, but instead they were met with cacophony. Duck calls are not inexpensive things – look at what they’ve done for the folks from “Duck Dynasty” – and this was an investment by the bride’s family to celebrate their new son-in-law. That evening we also learned that duck calls are things that take practice. The sound created was nothing that would attract a curious bird, but it did attract an unhappy visit and chat from hotel security. Live and learn!
Once out the door, the last step in a bride and groom’s picturesque departure is their choice of getaway vehicle. Some couples choose vintage Rolls Royces or Bentleys, some choose to get into adorable balloon dressed pedicabs, and still others may opt for more Elvis-like vehicles in which to make their departure. Either way, when it’s time for Elvis to leave the building, brides and grooms should always do it in their own style. Duh!
It’s a glamorous job, this event planning and event designing. Every day is different and every day is nothing like what we thought it would be! It involves hanging out alongside nasty reeking dumpsters and grease pits on venue loading docks. It involves crawling on all fours in ballrooms, backyards, and boardrooms. Sometimes it even involves scraping dirty dishes in hastily rigged prep tents and then frantically searching the scrap bins for lost client jewelry. That being said, we also have to speak with clients and potential clients while looking like professional women and smile as gorgeous brides float down aisles. It’s yin and yang. So, what to wear for such dichotomous duties that often times mix the sacred and the profane all in the same day? Well, it can be a conundrum.
We Alchemists have a few “uniforms” but our on-site style is still evolving. All black is the gold standard, but we wanted to mix it up a bit. We took the advice of our clever friend and fashionista Sanders Hulsey with Party Tables when he suggested we get shirts with our “Class Of” on the back. People often ask what the numbers on the back of our shirts mean, and here’s the scoop – each Alchemist’s number is the year she first got into this business. Now you know. High numbers mean old knowing event hands at work. Low numbers mean youthful energy!
Now, those in the biz know that nothing can cramp your style on event day quite like when your dogs are barking. We don’t mean when Stella and Samson are barking like they do at the FedEx driver, but when your feet really hurt. Working a party you can easily log 10,000 steps before lunch. Smart and comfortable footwear is a must. We love our teal colored Converse. We love simple black Yosi Samra flats. We even love our black Frye boots in winter and a super sassy pair of Birkenstocks with a good pedicure in summer. Variety is the spice of life, but comfort is our watchword and everyone’s feet are different. Kate would also remind everyone about arch support. She has arch issues…
Once the body and the feet are covered, the remaining details for our on-site dressing are really all about semi-stylish task efficiency. We Alchemists used to carry a bag with many MANY pockets for all we thought we might need on-site. The bags looked OK, but we were forever misplacing things inside the bags. You might be shocked at how many times you can you lose your phone while actually having your phone. Our new on-site tool belt – a small black Baggallini – seems to have helped a bit with that issue. The bag is very lightweight and can carry our pins, laser measurers, gaff tape, etc., but is it our last stop? Will this change again? Very possibly. Probably. If you have ideas for something else, the suggestion box is open!
So, are there any other Alchemist demands for on-site preparedness? In the end, it all comes down to the honest and cheesy truth that the best thing to wear on event day is a smile and an air of confidence from knowing that you’re prepared for whatever might come your way. The only way to get those things, however, is to do all the work beforehand and behind the scenes. You have to walk the nasty crusty loading dock before you get to welcome the client into the gorgeous atmosphere you created for them. If you do it right your feet won’t hurt in the process.
We Alchemists love our job for all the wonderful moments. You really can’t beat watching a bride’s father as he sees his daughter in her wedding gown for the first time or that moment when a groom sees his bride for the first time. It’s great stuff. But what about when things just don’t go as planned? That’s what separates committed and experienced teams – the real Planners – from what the great Marcy Blum calls “The Planettes”.
We can recall a wedding weekend with relentless rain. Really. It was a non-stop, canoes in the streets, Noah-like, deluge. Thank goodness there was a well thought out rain plan in place. That forethought provided the bride and groom with one of the most romantic ceremonies we have ever seen. We can also recall – still with a shudder – a ceiling treatment that seemingly didn’t want to be raised to the ceiling at all. It was just stubborn (and heavy). A ladder here and a hoist there, just a few more muscles, and we got it done. We were simply not going to be denied and experience taught us how to troubleshoot the challenge. Tablecloths on fire? It has happened. Medical emergencies? Check. A guest arriving with a large cooler of breast milk that needed to be stored? That too… Seen it, done it, waiting to resolve the next one!
Prospective clients often ask us to explain our pricing and many of them ask if they need a professional planning and event décor team at all. We always want to answer those questions with our own question, “What happens when things don’t go as planned?” It’s how those unanticipated issues are actually anticipated and fixed that earns event teams their stripes and that’s why the best teams may cost a bit more up front. We can save the day. What’s that worth to you?
Our Alchemy dogs are so important to us that we can’t imagine a special occasion without them. Actually, we can’t imagine a general run of the mill Tuesday without them, so here at the Alchemy Event Studio we have a “Dogs Welcome” policy. Samson Gray Stone and Stella Saltzman are in the office everyday greeting and growling at visitors, stealing each other’s toys, and generally keeping us happy and calm as we design our events. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we love when pets are part of a bride and groom’s big day.
The question we always ask when a couple wants Fido in on the fun is, “How does your dog respond to strangers – lots of strangers – all at one time?” Some dogs love the attention and some pooches just have eyes for their biped parents so they don’t even notice the other guests, but for some dogs a wedding is a very stressful occasion. If that’s the case, perhaps you’ll want to find other ways to include your pooch in the festivities.
Planner Lindsay Sims of Toast Events worked with the geniuses at Hinote to design beverage signage to honor her clients’ dog. What about personalized canine coasters or take-home gifts for the guests’ pets who missed the party? The only limit is really your imagination!
However you choose to include your four-legged loves into the “Big Day”, know that the ladies of Alchemy are in full support. Samson Gray and Stella dig it too…
All respect to those teetotalers out there, we Alchemists like a cocktail. Accordingly, we love when clients embrace upgraded bar designs, interesting beverage packages, and clever bar accents and garnishes.
At a recent event, we were excited to debut the new oversized bar created by our friends and event partners at Collection Event Furniture Rentals. The bar made a serious statement – it’s more than 16 feet in diameter – and we knew that no one would ever have to wait for a cocktail. You may consider it Event Planning Rule #1, “Guests Shall Not Wait For Their Libations.” To that end we have used rustic carts, barrels, and even old doors to create fun and functional bar experiences for guests.
So, what to serve from these sassy bars? We have to say that the “signature beverage” at weddings and galas often tends to be too sweet for us, but that certainly doesn’t have to be the case. One bar-venturous couple with whom we had the pleasure to work had a beer brewed specifically for their big day. A heart on the bottle’s label marked the spot where the two tied the knot. Another client had their venue’s mixologist create something tasty with a boutique whiskey, which was decidedly delish and not at all cloying. Add a cute straw or garnish and who wouldn’t have a great time?!
For liability reasons and things our lawyers tell us, we have to go on record as saying that happiness can’t be found in a bottle (blah blah blah) but a great cocktail hour or a great cocktail party certainly can go a long way to creating a lively atmosphere. Take the edge off, put the edge on, relax from your work – whatever the case – at Alchemy Event Studio we fully embrace bellying up to the bar! Cheers!
How many times have we met with a beautiful, excited bride and her mother and listened to them describe their perfect day – something that is uniquely them, memorable, different – and then heard the request for a wedding in white, cream, and blush? More times than we can count. And while those colors certainly make for a gorgeous and classic soft color palette and you can’t go wrong with them, we have to admit that we get very excited when clients are open to other interesting color possibilities.
Color is powerful. Science has shown with certainty that color can change moods. Colors have their own perceived personalities. Yellow is “happy” and red is “bold”. Frank Sinatra said, “Orange is the happiest color,” and it’s our favorite citrus fruit, but I digress…
Recently, a group of scientists deemed Pantone 448C the ugliest color in the world, while also naming “Greenery” 15-0343 the color of 2017. That being said, when color is used properly and combined thoughtfully – any color – it can make a wedding truly memorable.
This past summer we worked with a wedding couple who referenced the rich tones of Dutch master paintings for their reception. It’s not your usual wedding request – the Dutch masters often evoke dark moodiness – but once we decided to embrace the look we really ended up loving the rich and romantic results. The centerpieces really “popped” in the soft St. Regis Atlanta ballroom and we are eagerly awaiting the next couple wanting daring deep colors.
Color is just one more tool in your bag of tricks to create a mood and make your wedding or event quintessentially you. Don’t fear color. To paraphrase FDR , there’s nothing to fear but fear itself !
Excuse us while we revel in the spotlight for a quick moment, but we can’t help but enjoy our five minutes of fabulous in print.
We were honored to be included in the latest Connect Corporate feature on what’s trending in event design along with such rockstars as Justin Bolognino (founder and creative director of Meta) and Revelry Event Designers’ president and CEO Edgar Zamora. A few tidbits to share:
It’s All About AR, Not VR
“Everyone is in a tizzy over virtual reality, but augmented reality is the real game changer,” says Justin Bolognino. As you may know, AR is projecting digital information through a device, like a smartphone or iPad, so people can engage with each other. “You use your community to connect, and it’s way more powerful and ultimately the end goal,” he says. For more techie wisdom from Bolognino, click here to read more.
Old is New Again, But Only in Good Taste
Zamora stresses the art of presentation and the use of classic trends paired with something new, like a neon sign from the ‘80s with custom floral designs to create a sexy, moody affair. “You can have an event [with] the most expensive and luxurious [decor] in the world, but if you don’t display it correctly…forget it,” he says. Zamora shares a few other design mantras here.
When It Comes To Food, You Can Go High and Low
Although one of our favorite party moments involved a 6 ft.-tall fir tree made from dowel rods filled with hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts, we also love to customize our menus to fit the occasion. For Krug Champagne president and CEO Maggie Henriquez, we asked the chef to create a lobster arepa, a nod to the classic Venezuelan dish. Why? She’s a fascinating woman from Venezuela who went to Harvard, lives in Paris and runs a classic European vintner, and this was her first visit to Georgia. It wasn’t a place for collards or pimento cheese. Want more? You know you do, so click here.
And the beat goes on…
It has been a doozy of a week and it doesn’t seem to stop, which is exciting and a great deal of fun for us ladies of Alchemy Event Studio. Sleep ? Who has the time for that ?
This past week allowed us Alchemy gals to wear so many different event hats ! For our client who asked for “classic and traditionally pretty,” we created a gorgeous wedding prototype with our friend and uber-planner Helene Popowski. On the other end of the spectrum we were proud to be part of the team that put together a small 1500 person affair for the Atlanta Hawks. The weekend then finished up with a combination of hip food trucks, Dennis Dean Catering, an amazing eleven-piece Cuban orchestra, and a lot of wonderful people contributing to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in a never before used warehouse which needed a big facelift to get her ready for her party debut.
With just three of us in the AES office none of this could be done without our amazing friends and partners who literally do all of the heavy lifting… literally. What do you do when you need almost 600 linear feet of black taffeta hung from the 40 foot ceilings of the United Distributors beer well ? We called our sweet Sanders Hulsey with Party Tables who said, “no problem”. When we needed multi-dimensional graphics with built in light elements, Cross Creek stepped up and made amazing things happen for us and for our clients. Looking for creative menus, fun and talented bartenders, and delicious sweet and savory treats ? Dennis Dean Catering made our clients so very happy… All in all, this week alone allowed us to partner with sixteen different companies in order to make our events exactly what our clients expected. That’s a lot of organization, but that’s also the result of a great deal of relationship building and nurturing. Thank you everyone !
This week we’re taking the Alchemy magic on the road to execute events for another of our fantastic clients. We’re very pleased to have the business. We’re also pleased to be able to make connections with other event professionals and expand our circle of partners. It’s what allows our events to be ever-changing and exciting. It also keeps the Alchemy life interesting. We’ll sleep in August !
We throw parties. We love things that are fun and pretty and shiny and we thrive on creating events for clients that mark new phases in life – weddings, Mitzvahs, baby showers, anniversaries, new business ventures… The work involves long hours and stressful situations, but we love what we do and we create very tight bonds with our fellow eventologists. We laugh deliriously together at 3:00 AM with happy successes and we support each other when the worst case scenarios happen. The phrase, “the strongest of steel is forged in the hottest fire,” could easily have been written for the families we event producers create with one another…
This week have we have lost a dear friend who was deep in the event trenches with us and we are faced with marking a different phase of life. Bebe was kind and funny and always there to help. She’d reflex roses or lay table linens or light hundreds of candles with horribly faulty flame throwers. She kept great secrets and she told you what you needed to hear and she was tough as nails. She would also just sit with you to be there when things got crazy. That’s what friends do and that’s what we’ve been focused on doing for her these last few weeks – being with her when the next phase started to get very crazy.
In all the happiness of what we do we shouldn’t forget why we love this business. We love our fellow event producers. We’re all in the same weird tribe. We should try to remember that more often.
We know that Sunday night was Superbowl Sunday and we certainly enjoyed the nachos and the sliders and the cheese dip and the pigs in a blanket and the empanadas — BUT Monday was something else… It was Chinese New Year and the Year of the Monkey!
We take lunch very seriously here at Alchemy Event Studio. How can one be expected to be creative and detail focused without a healthy and delicious meal come mid-day ? That is why each day we begin discussing lunch around 10:30 AM. As we select linens and talk through color schemes and floral designs, lunch suggestions just get seamlessly woven into the event design chatter. When all is said and done we very often pile into Kate’s car and make a big dumpling run…
We love Polish pierogi and Russian pelmini and Japanese gyoza and we LOVE Chinese dumplings of all shapes and fillings. Have you had the soup dumplings on Buford Highway at Chef Liu? Amazing. How about shrimp filled Hargow at Canton House? Delicious. Steamed pork buns almost anywhere? Perfect. We love them all. And we love them all with a good dose of hot chili oil.
It’s never too late to wish everyone a Gong Xi Fa Cai (gong-zee-fah-chai) and suggest you all do what Alchemy did – go eat some dumplings to celebrate. We enjoyed them with one of our favorite industry peeps, Sanders Hulsey, from Party Tables at another one of our favorite dumpling spots, Hong Kong Harbour.
Cheers to Chinese New Year and all tasty foods stuffed into delicious wrappers!!
Because of last week’s interview with uber talented Shawne Jacobs of Anne Barge, we missed an installment in the ongoing chronicles of life, love, and event design at Alchemy Event Studio. It was a busy week with prototypes and new client meetings, but the most remarkable part of the week may have been a dinner we helped to orchestrate for the founding men of hip-hop. We’d love to share the VIP guest list with you, but we don’t take confidentiality lightly here at AES ! Nevertheless, the host did give us permission to write about the evening.
Guests for this never-to-be-duplicated gathering came from California, New York and points beyond. While everyone knew one another, an evening like this has never before taken place. Everyone was treated to a delicious Southern-inspired meal by Dennis Dean Catering and over food and drink amazing conversation (and rhymes) started to flow.
The banter that night ran the gamut from the artists’ early days – friendships, rivalries, and the like – to current projects, favorite songs, and vivid memories of the beginning days of hip-hop and at around midnight, the discussions really started to deepen. Guests didn’t get back to their suites at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead until the wee hours of the morning. A Peabody Award winning film crew from the Big Apple shot the entire evening so our fingers are crossed that one day everyone will hear what we heard. Our lips are sealed, however. These little birdies don’t chirp the chit-chat.
In the spirit of sharing — see Dennis Dean’s family recipe here — we continue our knowledge quest with Shawne Jacobs, President and Owner of Anne Barge Join us as we delve into her world, from the latest trends to her perfect date night…
But first, a bit of background… Armed with a fashion education and a passion for eveningwear, Shawne joined the renowned bridal company in 2002. Wearing two gorgeous dresses at her own wedding, Shawne and her husband recently took over Anne Barge maintaining a close working friendship with Anne Barge herself.
Both of Shawne’s Beautiful Wedding Gowns
Alchemy Event Studio: What are your top three bridal tips?
Shawne Jacobs: Don’t be afraid to add some color — you don’t have to keep it traditional with white or ivory. Try adding blush, greys, or blues. Find a style and cut that flatters your body type and make sure it’s timeless. You don’t want something too trendy and “Ready to Wear!” Twenty to thirty years from now, you want to still love your dress and not ask yourself, “What was I thinking?”
AES: Who is your dream bride?
SJ: I love a bride that has an opinion and speaks up. It is hard to guide someone in the right direction when you don’t know how you can help them. My ideal bride to dress would be Taylor Swift. She is refined, elegant, and classic, yet she still remains modern. She isn’t afraid to take risks and defines the Anne Barge bride.
AES: What is your favorite accessory for a bride?
SJ: There is something magical about putting on a veil for the first time. Even something so simple can make a bride’s face light up and make it feel real.
AES: What is a new trend that Anne Barge is buying into?
SJ: Removable overskirts. We are seeing more and more of those on the red carpet, and that translates well into bridal gowns. For example, Sophia Vergara wore an overskirt on her wedding day. I think we’ll also see an abundance of better necklines. The bridal industry is moving away from making JUST strapless dresses.
AES: What is a trend you would recommend a woman stay away from?
SJ: Lingerie inspired wedding gowns. A dress can still be sexy, yet refined and not look like lingerie.
AES: What is the most popular gown you ever designed and what made it such a great seller?
SJ: The LF161, which is also known as “The Pocket Dress.” It was a part of the Spring 2008 Bridal Collection. It had architectural pin tucks in silk taffeta that worked for many venues, and it looked really great on brides from size 0 to size 22.
AES: So now, some questions about you. What is your idea of a perfect date night?
SJ: My husband and I book a room at the St. Regis for a “Staycation”. We try a new restaurant in town, go to see a movie, and sleep in the next morning. We try to do it about 3 times a year.
AES: What are three things you never leave home without?
SJ: My Erin Condren Calendar, my phone, and baby wipes!
2016… What will it bring for Alchemy Event Studio? Well, who really knows but here are our thoughts on year two of the little event engine that could.
We welcome our first employee, sweet Alchemist Olivia Yocum, to the office. With her big smile and engaging personality we’re all very pleased! War Damn Eagle!
We are already hard at work creating “pretty” with some wonderful brides and we’re soooooo happily partnering with amazing and talented coordinators like Helene Popowski, Louise Hanlon and Ashley Baber in 2016.
We are all going to lose a lot of unwanted fat and inches and look a lot like we did four or five years ago. Guaranteed. Healthfest 2016 has already begun and we are sure we already look longer and leaner!
We are not going to drink bad wine in the new year. Ever.
2016 will be a year of better time management – 74 events was a lot for us!
We are going to read more and watch a little less Bravo TV…just a little less…
2016 will be another year of smiling, laughing, and quality beach time. Kate is very pale.
Did I already say we are going to be fit and healthy? We’re also going to have lustrous hair.
Cheers to all of the above and to your 2016 becoming exactly what you want it to be!