Friday, November 20, 2009

Venue Spotlight: Trump Int’l Hotel & Tower

My job allows me to visit some of the most fabulous venues in Chicago… and I thought I’d start sharing them with you!

Chicago recently received a shiny new skyscraper to add it its world famous skyline: Trump International Hotel & Tower. This hotel is the epitome of contemporary luxury and elegance, and the Grand Ballroom is equally spectacular.

Trump Exterior

Ballroom 2 Ballroom 1

Grand Ballroom North view0023_9940{Above images courtesy of Rosalind Wedding; Wedding Consultant: Engaging Events by Ali)

Grand Ballroom full room view  IMG_7564

Capacity for seated dinner: 269 
Capacity for cocktail reception: 269
Ceremony space: Skyline Room (up to 175 capacity, theater style)
Package starting price: $220 per person (+ tax & gratuity)
Food & Beverage minimum: Yes, may vary depending on day/season, inquire with contact below

Unique attributes: Everywhere you turn, this hotel has STUNNING wrap-around city views! Everything is simply first class: the food, the service, the attention to detail, and of course, the space. Did you expect any less from The Donald?!  I especially like that the furnishings are modern, and the decor neutral – perfect to dress up any way you please!

Address: 401 N. Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Contact: Aristene Aurand
Phone number: 312.588.8062
Email: aaurand {at}

Monday, November 16, 2009

DIFFA: Tablescape Inspiration

A friend and (former client!) recently invited me to check out the DIFFA Dining by Design event at the Merchandise Mart with her. DIFFA stands for Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids. According to their website, “DIFFA’s Dining By Design brings together the best talents in the design world to create breathtaking three-dimensional dining installations. This unique fundraiser on behalf of DIFFA/Chicago has raised more than $5.5 million since the event’s inception, and returns to Chicago every November at the celebrated Merchandise Mart.” Apparently, part of the fundraiser is that bidders can bid to actually DINE at one of these magnificent tables! Love it!

This amazing event was right up my alley: it just OOZED fabulous tablescape inspiration! There were so many, I may just have to break this into two posts full of eye-candy. I wish I had kept track of the designers (sorry!) but there were SO many!! 

I just love the yellow Billy Buttons combined with the green moss.

I would LOVE one of those lighting installations in my dining room! Also digging the purple and yellow color scheme in the background.

Organic wood table top, green spider mums, a very Zen feel… not sure about the beta fish in the glass vases though!


IMG_5248 The place settings here are absolutely exquisite (hard to see) and I adore the two-toned purple and fuchsia glassware!

fuschia rose carnation ball orchids

Sexy lounge areas, the fuchsia and black is so dramatic!

green goddess pink orchid willow centerpiece

I’m normally not a big fan of ALL rose centerpieces, but when done in a dramatic long row like this, it makes for a very striking centerpiece. Imagine some long feasting tables with these arrangements! Divine…

IMG_5326 IMG_5330

To be continued…

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sylvia Weinstock: The Importance of Wedding Cake

One of the presenters I was most excited to see was Sylvia Weinstock! THE Sylvia Weinstock! She is a wiry, spunky, practical lady… it’s too bad she didn’t bring some cake for us to try. Or hand out some sugar flowers… would that have been asking too much?! haha, j/k.

Sylvia Weinstock official image Sylvia Weinstock ABC Conference

She took us through some of her favorite cakes over the years, the inspiration for some of them, as well as the difficulties of shipping her cakes around the world. Why (in her opinion) is wedding cake so important? Because cutting the cake is often the first thing a newly married couple does together to celebrate their marriage. So cake shouldn’t be an afterthought!

When asked about the whole cupcakes-replacing-wedding-cake trend, she responded along the lines of, “Cupcakes are not elegant. A bride wears a long white dress. She is setting a formal tone, and cupcakes are not formal.” (So lesson learned: never ask Sylvia Weinstock for a cupcake cake!)

And when asked, “How do you get the tops off of those REALLY tall cakes?” She replied, “You have the banquet captain stand on a ladder and make a really big SHOW of it! It’s entertainment!”

And by the way, if you are ever lucky enough to get a slice of her cake, save the sugar flower!! If kept clean and dry, it will supposedly last forever. It’s hard to believe, but each of her meticulously crafted sugar flowers is anatomically correct!!

Anyways, what is a post about Sylvia Weinstock without some cake p0rn? Her cakes are seriously over-the-top masterpieces! I wish I could find pictures of the cakes she actually talked about, but alas, I guess those were the more obscure cakes that were not splashed across the blogosphere!

Sylvia Weinstock white cake sugar flowers

Sylvia Weinstock all white cake sugar flowers

Sylvia Weinstock basketweave cake yellow pink flowers

Sylvia Weinstock cake blue purple sugar flowers

Sylvia Weinstock orange yellow flowers

Sylvia Weinstock red orange cake

(Sorry for lack of photo credits, I found these same images on multiple sites!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Peggy Post: Advice for Peaceful Planning

I am back from two intense days at my very first Association of Bridal Consultants Annual Conference! It was inspiring and invigorating, and I am SO excited to take what I learned and make 2010 one heckuva fabulous year!

One of the highlights of the conference was keynote speaker and etiquette guru, Peggy Post, great granddaughter-in-law of Emily Post, THE original etiquette expert. Peggy now serves as the spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute.

Peggy PostPhoto by Kurt Ackerman

Peggy Post Wedding Etiquette ABC Conference   
She was literally 20 feet in front of me, how cool is that?!

Her topic focused on Peaceful Wedding Planning, and she really drove home a few key points (excuse me for the obvious paraphrasing below). You would think that much of this is common sense, but I’m sure we can all attest to the lack of good manners in the world these days! We’re all guilty of it too at times… and could use a reminder!

What is etiquette? Etiquette helps us figure out solutions to situations. It is more than table manners, it is what we do in life. Etiquette is simply how persons lives touch one another's.

Etiquette is about three main principles, and how we live the principles:

- Consideration
- Respect – interest in others as they are
- Honesty – sincere, truthful and tactful

Consider these ‘guidelines’, not ‘rules’, as they are fluid and ever-changing.

Peggy’s advice to handle wedding conflict:

Compromise. Listen with an open mind and love every idea for 5 minutes as you allow others to voice their suggestions.” 

I really thought this was a great tip: love every idea for 5 minutes. Haven’t we all been in the situation where two people are at odds and one person immediately shoots down the others’ idea? This is especially pertinent in the world of wedding planning when say, the bride wants one thing, and her fiance/mother/father want another thing. This could potentially lead to WWIII in some situations. Instead, Peggy suggests,

- Stay Calm
- Listen
- Stick with the facts
- Don’t get personal!
- Propose a solution
- Be willing to negotiate

And on another note… YES, in this age of technology, a hand-written THANK YOU CARD is still pertinent! Don’t just email/Facebook/Twitter your Thank You!  Because Peggy said so :)

What a great speaker! My only regret was not bringing her book for her to sign afterwards!!

Peggy Post Wedding Etiquette Book