Monday, November 8, 2010

CT Bridal Event - a recap

Bridal shows rock!

There's really no other way to put it.

Over the past year and a half or so I've participated in several as a vendor, and I've loved each and every one. But I have to say that being able to participate both as a vendor and as a blogger is simply awesome.

For the past four years, Kia Martinson-Wenzel of ESTOccasions has organized the CT Bridal Event. So far it's always been Fall affair - but, based on the popularity of the event, that is set to change. A Spring show is being added in 2011, and can I just say ... I think it's a splendid idea!

Yesterday's event was held at UConn's Alumni Center in Storrs, CT. In a reception hall filled with the most wonderful natural light streaming in from countless windows and a really great staircase. Talk about making a grand entrance coming down these stairs!

Alumni Center

Julie Sweeney (below) oversees events at the Alumni Center.

Julie Sweeney

Networking has taken me in exciting directions over the past several months - and I am happy to report that yesterday's vendors were among the most interesting I've ever met. 

Tiff's Wicked Cakes
Must say I was extremely glad that my children were gone by the time Tiffany Flanagan arrived with the Groom cake featured above. I suspect that despite the sign, they would have had a hard time staying away from those whiskers! I had a hard time myself, truth be told.

Creative Cookies by Jennifer
I spent a fair amount of my time familiarizing myself with the products on offer but, alas, my photo-taking skills need serious honing. I can't give all of the vendors present pictorial representation in this blogpost, but you should get an idea. I'll be showcasing many of them in more details as the weeks roll by, too.

Mary Kay

I was thrilled to discover that the people behind Chocolate Covered Affair not only have plans to open up retail space, but they are planning to offer gluten-free treats. We'll be catching up with them very soon!
HGK Designs
As I traveled between the various rooms and displays, something jumped out at me. There was a sense of camaraderie between strangers that is not easy to come by  at shows. Kudos to Kia here - because she clearly knows her vendors. It certainly made the whole experience that much more pleasurable!

London and Hartmann Photography
AIS Audio Media Solutions
UConn Department of Dining Services

Cam Fogg
Now while the rest of us were manning our tables downstairs, the ladies from Love Me Two Times were upstairs ...

... attending to brides-to-be at a wonderful trunk show. 

There were dresses, shoes .. and bling!

Love Me Two Times

Pre-loved designer dresses at absolutely fantastic prices! Imagine getting your bridal gown for $49 or $99!

Sandi from Love Me Two Times with brides

And because I know you are all dying to know just who the Soon-To-Be Mrs. Turner really is, I'll end with a photo of her .. in her prospective wedding veil.

Meet ... Ashley.

Soon-To-Be Mrs. Turner

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Invitation Week: Praez Occasions

Cake by JCakes

Last year I was a rookie in the industry. Although I'd made jewelry for weddings, I hadn't spent much time in the presence of other wedding professionals. 

That changed in early December 2009 - when I was invited to a networking event by Connecticut Perfect Wedding Guide.

It's no understatement to say that the course of my life changed that night.

I caught the bug.

And since blame needs to be laid somewhere, I'll credit these two lovely ladies, who were introduced to me by ... my husband! He came along as my guest (handholding at its finest) and did his fair share of networking on my behalf.

You know how people say that the conversation flowed like wine?

It did that night!

Architecture, ceramics, and the Old World (which is where I was headed a few days later) in the space of a few short hours. And we parted with a promise - that I would bring back a piece of the Old World in the form of lace from my homeland.

I am happy to say I kept my promise, and that when we met again in February of 2010 I was given a personal introduction to the world of Praez Occasions.

What a world!

Praez Occasions is a full-service design firm with an unconventional flair for making lasting impressions.  

The focus is on helping clients announce their affairs with exceptional quality and sophistication; expressive of their distinct vision, style and persona.

Praez Occasions was birthed in 2004 - as an extension of its mother company Praez Media; to provide couture, bespoke invitations to brides, corporate and individual clients alike.

Rae Boykin and Zeb Powell came from corporate backgrounds in business administration, marketing and accounting, but were disenchanted by the mundane, cookie-cut, customized invitation companies available to them. Thus began a journey, through their innate passion for graphic design, font and paper, to unite their two passions into what is known today as Praez Occasions.

Design for Therez Fleetwood Bridal of Dallas, Texas

Zeb and Rae have this to say about their art. 

Inspired by everything around us, we design and hand-craft custom creations that entail rich tones, textures and unique embellishments from around the world.

Authentic Swarovski crystals, beautiful jeweled brooches and pins, imported Thai silk boxes, folios, wraps and pouches.


Save the Date cards, invitations, programs, escort and menu cards are all fabulously handcrafted to the clients' specifications (including use of different languages) and shipped all over the world.

Today's luxury events require a higher level of detail and impeccability than beautiful paper and fonts, Rae says. We answer the call with exquisite options that take your stationery to the next level.

Photo by Dina Rudick for the Boston Globe

They are certainly getting their point across.

Not only are they signature partners of Chad Michael Peters - the renowned floral and event guru from Boston - they have also been featured in several high end publications and websites.

Grace Ormonde

Well Wed   

The Ritz-Carlton        

Luxurious Weddings        

I have to add here that - upon request - Zeb and Rae can also service your event with sustainable specialty papers that are eco-friendly, FSC / SFI certified, and even tree-free.

If you're looking for people you can trust to take your vision and bring it to life, I can't recommend Praez Occasions highly enough. And as you can see - their work truly does speak for itself.

Experience the difference Praez Occasions makes – and see what gorgeous things they can do for your next event!

Visit their website, email them on, follow them on Facebook, or call them, toll-free, on 888.697.7239.

Alternatively you can talk to them on Skype using praezoccasions.

If you are in Connecticut, you can visit them (by appointment) at their studio.

60 Connolly Parkway
Suite 10C
Hamden, CT 06514

This Sunday, November 7th, Zeb and Rae will be at the Perfect Bridal Extravaganza at The Woodwinds in Branford. The first few brides to visit their table will get $100 gift certificate towards their invitations - so make sure you get there first!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Invitation Week - a short historical overview

The first installment of Cake Week went down so well that I thought I'd go thematic again this week - and talk about the history of wedding invitations.

There's so much to say that it's likely we'll revisit this theme more than once - but lets kick off with a bit of historical perspective, shall we? Lets look at the people and the inventions that shaped the invitation as we know it today.

The Town Crier played a pivotal role in days gone by.

Mostly because people were illiterate.

Anything of importance - including weddings - was announced rather loudly. Consequently this meant that anyone within earshot was invited to the wedding.

This may have worked for the population at large - but the nobility had a rather different view of things.

Religious monks were known for their beautiful work, and it was very fashionable to pay monasteries large sums of money to create hand-drawn and illuminated wedding invitations when sons and daughters of the upper crust were being married off.

These invitations were then delivered  by a specially-appointed courier.

As the Middle Ages wore on, changes swept across Europe. Between the birth of printing and the Protestant Reformation, literacy became something to aspire to.

Basic printing did not produce high quality invitations, however. Mainly because the ink was merely stamped on the paper.

By the mid-1600s, metal-plate engraving had been invented. A carving tool allowed words to be engraved in reverse onto a plate - and this gave invitations a more sophisticated look. 

Smudging, however, was still an issue.

So a piece of tissue paper was placed over the invitation. This is one of the traditions carried over from the early days; although today the effect is purely decorative and for the most part vellum is used.

Another important milestone of the 1600s was the newspaper - and the tradition of announcing one's upcoming nuptials started gaining popularity.

early newspapers

The next big invention to impact wedding invitation design was lithography.


Not only was the result crisp, it also eliminated most of the time constraints that metal-engraving had placed on design.

Things remained pretty much unchanged until the end of World War II. People's lifestyle changed fairly dramatically as incomes increased, and the 1950s ushered in a stylized way of looking at and dealing with matters.

Thermography (in this case the use of heat to create raised ink lettering) lent itself beautifully to wedding stationery - and most important, it was within the budget of the average couple.


Over the past few decades wedding stationery has really taken off. The days of sterile wedding invitations are over - and everywhere you turn people are infusing themselves and their personality into their creations. Suffice it to say that you can truly get anything these days.

On Wednesday we'll be talking to the fabulous ladies of Praez Occasions; a full-service design firm with an unconventional flair for the fine details. Till then I'll leave you with a photo of an invitation I am partial to.

It isn't what you might expect, though. This is not an invitation to a wedding, but an invitation to be in the wedding party. 



Web Design by JoyfulRose