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Sophisticated Engagement


Four(4) years ago today, Keno Brown, my husband, popped the big question and of course I said "YES!!" It was definitely a day to remember. Keno put a lot of thought into the proposal and made sure everyone and everything was in place and on schedule. He involved my parents, family and friends! I was definitely surprised.
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Here is a recap of what happened....
While dating, Keno asked me the following question, "If I propose to you, how would you want it to happen?" Right after he asked, the commercial where the guy flew his family to Rome and surprised his wife with a second marriage proposal had just gone off of TV. So I said, "I want a proposal just like that!!" Well, that's exactly what I got, except for the Rome piece.
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The evening of the proposal, we were going out on a date to a comedy show and my parents were headed out to the Symphony, so they said. When we arrived downtown we realized that we had time to stop and get something to eat before the show and Keno had just gotten a call from his friend Myque to meet him at the Harbor Place. As we walked over to meet Myque, I said to Keno, "I wonder what all of those people are reading. It must be an interesting article." We then walked by the band, and as we walked by, Keno tipped them and they started playing. I immediately started to take a seat to listen, but Keno pulled me to the center of the circle and he got down on one knee and he asked me to marry him!!!!! At the same time, our friends dropped their newspapers and said SURPRISE!!!!...and my parents stepped out from behind the Santa House smiling and clapping.
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This engagement was definitely one to remember. I often thank my husband for making the proposal special and for putting a lot of though into our day.


Brides Can Be Cheap, But Not Tacky

Today my partner sent me this article to post on our blog. It's very good for the Recessionista Bride!
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(OPRAH.com) -- Planning the celebration of a lifetime during the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression is a daunting task, so it's no secret that many brides are cutting back. The average amount a couple is spending on their wedding this year is down more than $5,000 from 2008, theweddingreport.com estimates.

There are ways to hold a wedding without breaking the bank or breaking etiquette rules.

Etiquette author and expert Anna Post, the great-great-granddaughter of queen of correct behavior Emily Post, assures brides that thriftiness is tasteful. "It's okay to cut back right now," she says. "Economizing isn't something to apologize for so long as you're not doing something that's hurtful to your guests."
Still, there are a few cutbacks Post suggests you avoid. "I don't like seeing cash bars," she says. "I find that inconsiderate to your guests." Other don'ts: Asking guests to help pay for wedding costs on the registry and inviting guests to the shower but not the wedding.
Here are some unique (and Emily Post--approved) ways to save:
Think outside the cake
A large wedding cake can run hundreds of dollars. Add in the delivery and cake-cutting fees, and your confection may burst your budget.

As an alternative, the bride and groom of a wedding Post attended in Vermont opted against tradition and created a make-your-own sundae bar.
"So instead of cutting the cake, they had 'the first scoop,'" she says. "Everybody there had a great time with that."

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The Center of Attention
When choosing the flowers for your centerpieces, Post says to always choose blooms that are in season. For a big display on a small budget, more greenery and fewer flowers will give you the look you want for less.
Or, keep the display simple with a single statement-making flower. "I went to a wonderful wedding for a friend of mine who was from Hawaii. They did one beautiful, huge stargazer lily in the middle of each table," she says. "It was very fragrant, and there were about 20 tables, so 20 lilies are not incredibly expensive."
Oprah.com: How to make your own floral arrangements
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Recycle, reuse
At a friend's recent wedding, Post says she was one of the last people to leave the church and noticed the bride's family taking the flower arrangements from the ceremony to be reused at the reception. "I love flowers and I hate the thought of them going to waste, so I thought this was a great idea."

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Digital don't
E-mail invitations are fine for shower or bachelorette parties, but weddings are a different story.
"Even if you're having a really casual wedding, I think -- call me old-fashioned -- this is such a huge day in your life that you don't want to send the wrong message to your guests -- that you don't take it seriously." We may live in an online world, but Post says the printed invitation will never die.
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Let's eat
When it comes to food, your guests' expectations will be high -- but that doesn't mean you have to serve filet mignon. "There are fabulous things chefs can do with pork, chicken and with fish," she says. Serving your menu buffet-style will also cost less than a plated dish.
A past trend that Post likes is the wedding breakfast or wedding brunch, which Emily Post wrote about in her first etiquette book published in 1922."This could be a great tradition to revive and could save a little bit of money," she says. "I'm starting to hear about it more again."
If you're set on an evening affair, Post says there is nothing wrong with a hors d'oeuvre and cake-only reception. "This has always been okay," she says. "It's safe to say that most people want to treat their guests to a wonderful day. If this is the way they can afford it, I think it's the absolute right choice."
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Cheers
If you are serving alcohol at your wedding, Post says it's better to save by limiting the choices, not the amount. "It's okay not to have hard alcohol. You could serve champagne, you could serve red wine, you could serve a signature drink," she says. Just please skip the drink tickets. "If you want to limit, limit what's available to people rather than charging them for it or rationing it out ticket by ticket."
Post says to remember that budget cuts are nothing to worry about as long as you keep your guests in mind. "When it comes to etiquette, for me and this was the same for Emily Post, weddings are very much about the people in your life."
Oprah.com: How to throw a party on a budget

Signature Wedding Cocktails


Here's another Money Saving Tip for your special day. Instead of an Open Bar, offer one (1) or two (2) specialty cocktails. Align your specialty drink with the theme of your wedding and add a personal touch to your reception. The best thing about this is that you can limit your guests drinking habits while saving a few $$$. Even better, only offer your specialty cocktails during cocktail hour, and beer and wine during dinner. Now, don't leave out your guests who are underage or don't drink. For these guests, you can offer a non-alcoholic version of the alcoholic cocktail. It usually entails eliminating the alcohol portion of the drink and adding more mixer.

The Sophisticated Affair Photo Montage

Twitter Me Thursday!!!!



Follow your Sophisticated Planner on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/NicoleMBrown and read about my daily adventures. While you're there, share your thoughts, words of inspiration or just say "Hello!" I will be sure to tweet you back!

Twitterfully Yours,
Nicole

Washington Bridal Show Case


The Washington Bridal Showcase takes place THIS SUNDAY, October 4, 2009 at the Bethesda Marriott. The LAST Bridal Showcase of the year!

When you attend the Washington Bridal Showcase, you will find more fashions, more new ideas and more choices than you can imagine. With spectacular runway fashion shows and aisle after aisle of displays from the Washington area's most trusted wedding professionals, you will find everything to make your wedding day extraordinary.

See the latest bridal fashions, taste samples from caterers and cake bakers, audition musicians, view the work of numerous photographers and videographers, discover new ideas and find expert advice. Many exhibitors offer show specials and money-saving discounts for show attendees. Everything for your wedding is here!

If you are among the first 500 brides to attend you will receive a one year subscription to Modern Bride Magazine included in your ticket price. Plus, every bride can register to win thousands of dollars in gifts and prizes, including a honeymoon cruise.

The Washington Bridal Showcase is THE bridal event of the season. Miss it and you will have to wait months until the next show. Whether you are just starting your planning, finishing up the details, or anywhere in between, you will find exactly what you are looking for. Come early and spend the day!

Healing Heels Event Recap

The Healing Heels Dance Event hosted by LaQuisha Hall, Mrs. Maryland Galaxy 2009 and The Sophisticated Affair was a successful event. Special thanks to Mrs. Daphne Hicks, owner of Fitnance, for coming out and teaching us some very nice line dances and a big thanks to Adrienne Watson Carver, Mrs. Maryland International 2009, for donating her studio, Studio A Dance Studio. We had a fun time line dancing while raising money for Stop the Silence:Stop Child Sexual Abuse.

Tips for Buying Your Wedding Dress


Most brides are very eager to purchase their wedding dress right after their boyfriend pops the infamous question, "Will You Marry Me?"; however, buying a wedding dress is something that you should take your time with. Try to visit different bridal shops to see what they offer. Do not feel obligated to purchase your gown during your first bridal shop visit. As you look for that perfect wedding dress, keep these four(4) tips in mind:

1. Just because a wedding dress doesn’t sport a designer label inside doesn’t mean it’s any less beautiful or special. Discount wedding dress shops can be a gold mine for spotting gems and unique designs for less.

2. Take bridal accessories with you as you shop to see how your dress will look with shoes, bags, jewelry and other bridal attire items you plan to wear the day of your wedding.

3. If you just have to have a designer wedding dress, but you're working with a limited budget, find a skilled seamstress and take her a photo of your dream dress to replicate.

4. No designer uses the same size chart. Therefore you should always try on a wedding dress before you purchase it. This may seem like a no brainer, but it is an important detail nonetheless. At some events like Filene's Basement's Running of the Brides, you cant take your time like you would on a less-hurried shopping excursion, so keep that in mind before shelling out your hard-earned money on a designer gown.

Twitter Thursdays

Follow your Sophisticated Event Planner on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NicoleMBrown and find out what she is doing on Twitter Thursdays. Tweet her and she will be sure to tweet you back.


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Technology has really made it easy for event planners to connect with customers, vendors and other event planners. It also makes the job a lot easier at times. When I reflect back on the planning process of my first destination wedding, I say to myself, "What would I have done without TECHNOLOGY!" I was able to communicate with so many vendors outside of the USA without having to leave several voicemail messages or listen to the phone ring thousands of times in my ear before someone answered. I was able to send a quick e-mail and receive a response within the hour. Technology has truly become our best friend!

Football Themed Garters

For all of my brides who are marrying Football Fanatic Fiancés, here is a little something that will make him smile even more and be a big score at your reception...Football Themed Garters. Order his favorite team and give him a big surprise when he goes to remove it from your leg. You may want to order a second garter to throw away, because he may not want to part with it. Below are pictures of Sports Garters from Garters by Kristi (http://www.gartersbykristi.com/) and she sells the Garter Keepsake/Toss Set.





The Groom's Cake

In the past, the groom's cake was actually called the wedding cake, and what we now think of as the wedding cake was referred to as the bride's cake. Over time, the terminology was reversed, but superstition surrounding the groom's cake was not lost. According to an old myth, if a single woman sleeps with a piece of the groom's cake under her pillow, she will dream of the man that she will marry. The first groom's cakes were reserved for guests to take home as a memento of the wedding. For this reason, they were usually made of dark, heavy fruitcake since it is durable and keeps for a long period of time. Contemporary groom's cakes, however, are not bound by old traditions. In fact, the groom's cake is a perfect opportunity to express creativity. Many grooms like to have the cake decorated or shaped into something that reflects one of their hobbies, or something the couple enjoys doing together. Check out these Grooms Cakes:





Healing Heels Dance Fundraiser


The Sophisticated Affair has partnered with Mrs. LaQuisha Hall, Mrs. Maryland Galaxy 2009 in a fundraiser for Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse.

Location:
Studio A Modeling, Etiquette and Dance Academy
http://www.studioa-modelingetiquetteanddance.com/
3520 Brenbrook Drive
Randallstown, Maryland 21133
(Inside the Shopping Center)

Time:
6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Ticket Cost:
$15
(Proceeds to benefit Stop the Silence:Stop Child Sexual Abuse)

Ladies wear your Hottest Heels and Gentlemen wear your Smoothest Dancing Shoes!!!

Support an important cause while learning line dances and enjoying refreshments. Prizes will be awarded to the ladies with the "Hottest High Heels" and to the Best Dancer. If you cannot attend this event, consider giving a donation. RSVP in advance at LHalla@stopcsa.org.

The Candy Buffet

Candy Buffets will always add a sweet touch to your event. Whether you're providing the service as your favor or just a bonus for your guests, the Candy Buffet will definitely be the hit of the party. This past December, I planned my church's Annual Christmas Celebration and provided a Candy Buffet for the guests and they absolutely loved it!!! The Candy Buffet consisted of Hershey's Kiss, Twizzlers, Blow Pops, Peppermints and Jolly Ranchers. By the end of the evening, there wasn't any candy left. I received several compliments on the idea. TSA has now added this service to the list. Please visit us at http://www.thesophisticatedaffair.com/ to schedule your free consultation.

Below are some pics of Candy Buffets that I found while perusing the web.













Personalized Aisle Runners

Looking to personalize your wedding even more?!? Add a personalized aisle runner with your monogram or your favorite quote. Below are samples of personalized aisle runners that can be purchased from various sites:
http://www.ebay.com/
http://www.idoweddingdetails.com/
http://ebweddingfavors.com/




Wedding Reception Brunch


Here is what The Knot has to say about hosting a Wedding Reception Brunch:

Reception Food: Throwing a Reception Brunch
Are you a morning person? Looking for a unique wedding twist? Consider a brunch reception. Be it a sunrise ceremony, your passion for breakfast, or a way to get a jump on your honeymoon, a brunch reception can be a delicious, low-key, and inspired choice.

Timing Is Everything
A brunch reception usually takes place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you'd like it to be more of a breakfast, 9:00 a.m. is usually the earliest starting time to consider. According to Rosemary Howe, a New York City caterer, your guests' stomachs may not be ready to handle heavy food right away. She suggests serving juices, coffee, and cocktails along with some light, fruity nibbles before moving onto the main course, to avoid overwhelming guests who may still be wiping sleep from their eyes. Then, of course, comes coffee, dessert, and wedding cake. Brunch is best served buffet style or as a seated meal (or a combination of the two). The other alternative is a cocktail brunch, where guests enjoy passed delicacies hors d'oeuvres-style (think scrambled egg tartlets and mini French toast) and cocktails (such as mimosas, bellinis, champagne, and punch) as they stand and chat, cheer, and celebrate.

Festive vs. Formal
Morning naturally sets a more mellow tone. A brunch can still be festive (think brightly colored flowers and mimosas), but it's probably not going to contain any rock star-style partying. Satisfy friends and family with a bountiful buffet and fresh juice bar. Fancy a formal atmosphere? Go for fine china, champagne, and a three-course meal. Also consider the time of year. If your big day falls during leaf-turning season, choose an ideal space where windows frame the colorful mosaic of gold and red hues. Planning a winter wedding? Consider a cozy brunch by a roaring fire. A tented springtime soiree in an English garden is a beautiful way to celebrate nature. When choosing a brunch spot, remember to see it during the time of day you are planning your reception -- ask yourself, is it dark and depressing due to a lack of windows? Does the sun beat down during the day, making the temperature inside boiling? It's important to see all of the room's blemishes.

Brunch Budgets
A brunch is one of the most cost-effective receptions you can have: Brunches can range in price from $17 to $85 per head, depending on the menu and the site you choose. Your liquor costs will be much lower than an evening affair (guests drink less alcohol in the morning); you won't have to shell out money for a band (although a string quartet is always nice in the early morning hours); and oftentimes reception sites are less expensive to rent in the daytime.

Brunch Food Trends
One word: Frittatas. According to Rocco DiSpirito, the chef at Union Pacific in New York City, this Italian vegetable-and-egg dish is all the rage. "The frittata feels lighter yet substantial without being rich. It's full of vegetables so it appeals to the health conscious and can be prepared with delicious cheese and herbs." Want to forgo the eggs altogether? Grilled veggies are a tasty alternative, according to Word of Mouth catering in New York City. Another hot brunch bite? "Smoked things," says Dispirito. "Not just salmon and sable -- but tuna bacon and salmon bacon, smoked tuna and smoked meats, and even smoked vegetables, which are great for late morning or early afternoon." Asian foods are invading the brunch bash as well, with delectable dim sum. "People like these well-seasoned bites of food with a surprise inside," says New York City caterer Karen Lee, who serves up these steamed buns and dumplings on stylish bamboo steamers. To add some spice to the soiree, some caterers are serving up familiar foods with a twist. Word of Mouth offers creative variations such as grilled chicken salad wraps, open-face sandwiches made on homemade dill sponge bread, and smoked salmon wraps instead of the traditional bagels and lox. Another hot trend is food stations, a lively (and less crowded) alternative to the standard buffet. One recent brunch reception we heard about featured an omelet station, a French toast station, and a crepe/pancake station (both with various toppings and syrups).

Tasty Tidbits



  • When planning the menu, be certain to have more than just a fruit salad as the only vegetarian or healthy offering. These days, with so many people watching their cholesterol and fat intake, scrambled eggs with cheese and sausage shouldn't be the only dish on the buffet table. Consider fruit yogurt, egg-white omelets, gourmet pizza, poached salmon, vegetable tarts, grilled veggie sandwiches, and salad nicoise.

  • To add a little flair, think beyond the ordinary. Instead of muffins and croissants, feature orange-scented scones and walnut banana bread.

  • Can you serve wedding cake in the morning? Sure, why not? You may opt for a lighter cake, such as carrot, lemon, angel food cake, or cheesecake, rather than a heavy fudge-covered cake. Or cut into a Mexican wedding cake -- a lighter confection made with nuts and powdered sugar. Another way to lighten up the mid-day wedding cake: Top it with fresh fruit.

Think Drinks


Go light on the liquor -- it may not even be noon! If you'd like to serve wine, consider offering it after some food has been eaten. And don't forget morning-time cocktails like bloody marys, mimosas, screwdrivers, mint juleps, punch, tequila sunrise (grenadine, tequila, and orange juice), bellinis (fresh sliced peaches or peach juice and sparkling wine or champagne) or champagne with a few raspberries dropped in. And, of course, include delicious non-alcoholic breakfast beverages such as coffee (think American, cafe au lait, espresso with lemon zest, cappuccino, Thai iced coffee), tea, (think black, green, mint, spiced, chamomile, Earl Gray, English breakfast), fresh juices (watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, or a grapefruit/orange/cranberry blend), hot chocolate (Mexican, cinnamon, marshmallow-drenched), and fruit smoothies (blueberry, banana, strawberries mixed with apple juice or non-fat yogurt). For a southern affair, think iced tea with lemon, peach tea, fresh strawberry or watermelon lemonade, and raspberry ginger ale punch.

Feathers, Feathers Everywhere

Don't want to use flowers for your reception centerpieces? Want to try something different? Try using Ostrich Feathers. Yes, I said Ostrich Feathers. They are the hottest trend in weddings these days. They are gorgeous and elegant and every Bride-to-Be is looking for them.

This morning as I was doing my daily Internet browsing, I ran across a site that had a lot of information about Ostrich Feathers, http://www.smileyme.com/. Here is what they had to say:

There are three types of Ostrich Feathers that you can use: Drabs, Floss or Femina

Drabs
Ostrich Drab Feathers are fluffy & light. They create a soft alluring atmosphere in any room & can be used in flower arrangements & craft projects.




Floss
Ostrich Floss Feather are good for a darker Victorian look. These are also perfect for shorter vases & ideal for the small party, decorating in the home or creating an elegant office look.



Femina
Ostrich Femina Feathers are a favorite for wedding decorations with a fuller appearance. These are very beautiful in vases & perfect for the elegant palm tree look.

GOBOS

Want to add a nice personal touch to your wedding reception? Try using a Gobo with your personalized monogram. This piece of eye candy will definitely get the attention of your guests. You can either design your own monogram or you can ask a lighting specialist to design one for you. Below are some Gobo pics from various lighting specialists.




Hydrangea Centerpieces

I absolutely love Hydrangeas. They are one of my favorite flowers and they bring such elegance to a room. During my daily Internet browsing, I ran across several pictures of Hydrangea Centerpieces that I wanted to share with you. Some are simple arrangements and some have very intricate detail. Enjoy!




 
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