Monday, May 30, 2011

Bearing The Financial Burden of Being A Bridesmaid

The 27-year-old Brooklyn resident declined the invitation to participate in a fifth wedding, after noticing very early on that the bride didn’t seem to understand the sort of sacrifices she was asking for. Her sorority sister Stephanie went straight from her parents’ home to her fiancée’s apartment, never having to pay bills on her own. “I was particularly annoyed when she told me that her $150 hostess dress wasn’t “that much money” after I had just been laid off from my job. Because she wasn’t used to “real” bills, she forgot to add in the plane ticket, shoes, wedding gift, and other wedding and travel essentials I would have had to pay for. While I was considering dipping into my savings to attend her wedding, I quickly retracted that thought after her comment.”

Stephanie failed to consider Sasha’s financial state, which is a big ‘no-no’ when selecting a bridesmaid. If a woman is close to you, but doesn’t seem to have the cash to take on such a big role in your wedding, consider alternative ways of having her participate or work to minimize the burden on her pockets (i.e. select dress and attire that aren’t over the top expensive and make costly bridal party events optional).

Bridgette Bartlett, founder of, advises that brides take time to think about what is going on in a friend or relative’s life before asking them to take on the responsibility of her wedding. “A bride should be considerate of the other things that might be on a bridesmaid’s plate before delegating responsibilities. Are any of your potential bridesmaids working full-time while completing graduate school? Did your matron of honor just have a baby? Plan accordingly.”

Ashley, an attorney in Washington, DC, has been a bridesmaid “countless” times and is typically excited to help her friends and family members celebrate their special days. However, she’s been hit with a laundry list of crazy expectations from brides over the years: “I’ve been asked to purchase everything you can imagine, from weaves and color contacts, to four-inch-heels and arts and craft projects” she said. Her worst experience was with a friend who created bridesmaid’s budgets that are “more than she and her fiancée make in a month…maybe two!”

Bartlett has many anecdotes about women who go a bit overboard when it comes to their demands. “I have heard stories of brides requesting that all of their bridesmaids grow their hair to a certain length by the wedding day for a particular hairstyle or asked that bridesmaids lose weight or maintain a set weight for the wedding. I even know of a bride who gave all her attendants large pink cups specifically to drink water from eight times daily so that their complexions would be clear by her wedding day.”

Bartlett provided the following estimated costs for bridesmaids, suggesting that a maid of honor should add about 10 to 15 percent more for her contribution; geographical location, scale of the wedding and time of year will also have an impact on a bridesmaid’s bottom line:

Dress: $200-$250 (including alterations)

Shoes: $75-100

Hair, nails, makeup: $200-$250

Travel (gas, tolls, etc.): $200-$250 (this number will be much higher if the bridesmaid lives in a different state than the bride or if nuptials are a destination affair)

Shower/bachelorette gifts: $50 each

Contribution to shower and bachelorette events: $200

Misc. activities (bridal party tea, spa day, “girlfriend getaway”, etc): $50-$1,000

Before saying ‘yes’ to an anxious bride, Bartlett advises women to be honest with themselves about their ability to participate in a wedding. “While most people immediately consider the financial obligations of being in a wedding, they fail to also factor in the amount of time and emotional support that is expected of them. Women should evaluate all of these things before agreeing to be in a wedding.”

“If you decide that you cannot take on the responsibilities to be a bridesmaid, let the bride know as soon as possible,” said Bartlett. ” She might feel slighted at first but ultimately she’ll appreciate you being honest early in her planning process.” If you find the bride’s needs to be more than you can handle, but you feel that you can’t decline her request, she suggests that you approach her directly, but warns “be sure to offer solutions and not just complaints. If she has asked all the bridesmaids to wear pricey designer shoes, show her a similar less expensive pair you found online.”

In order to prevent serious damage to post-wedding relationships, Bartlett has this advice for brides: “Go easy on your girls! Even if you don’t intend on drifting into ‘bridezilla’ land, it can be hard to forget that the entire world isn’t going to stop because you’re getting married. Remember that your bridesmaids still have their own relationships, careers and families to maintain.”

There are plenty of ways for brides to make the work of their bridesmaids less frustrating. Considering the cost of a bridesmaids dress, Bartlett advises that brides choose dresses that their bridal party can wear again. Consider picking a color and have everyone choose a silhouette that is most flattering to her body type. No one wants to drop $200 on an unflattering dress that will collect dust in the back of her closet, nor do they want to feel like their bride only took her own glamour into consideration.

“Most makeup artists and hair stylists offer group rates for bridal parties” said Bartlett. “Why not pay for your attendants to get their hair styled or makeup done by the same professional that is tending to you on the wedding day? Their wallets will be extremely grateful and you’ll ensure a bit of uniformity in your pictures.” This is a great way for brides to decrease bridesmaids’ costs without breaking her own budget, while ensuring that her girls are being styled by people that she trusts.

A wedding can be a wonderful experience for a bride to share with some of her most trusted girls, but it can also cause irreparable damage to relationships if both parties aren’t honest and reasonable about their expectations. There are few times in your life in which you can reasonably expect someone to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in order to make sure you have a memorable celebration. And if a bride isn’t both considerate with her demands and grateful for those who work to meet them, she may find herself with a few less friends to call upon after the wedding.

Article Posted by The Atlanta Post by Jamilah-Asali I. Lemieux,
Article Sponsored by Wells Fargo

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wedding Asia - A Three-day Exhibition

Wedding Asia, a three-day exhibition, will showcase wedding trends for the coming season and also provide an opportunity to interact with leading brands from the fashion and lifestyle sector. It will begin July 22.

‘Wedding Asia is not about exhibiting the best from the world of the quintessential Indian wedding, but also a platform for the young and talented designers to exhibit their creativity viz-a-viz the collections they will display. Our endeavour is to create a luxury event that will encapsulate various flavours of Indian trousseau and bridal wear,’ said Wedding Asia director Maninder Sethi.

The event is coming to capital after doing well in Ludhiana, where it started in 2006 and has been an annual event since then.

‘Wedding Asia will be a podium where all the connoisseurs of luxury will get a chance to interact, network and buy the brands that have been hand-picked by our team. After Delhi, we have plans to go to Mumbai and then to Macau, Bangkok and Dubai, thus percolating the Indian flavour at a pan-Asian level,’ he added.

The exhibition will see participation from some of the leading players from the lifestyle and wedding sector.

‘When it comes to a wedding, every bride in the world goes through unprecedented emotions, and it is this anxiety, unbound happiness and a bit of nostalgia that binds every bride in the world together. Wedding Asia is one such platform where would-be-brides will get every possible thing under one roof,’ Sethi told IANS.

Some of the apparel brands that will participate are Monapali (Kolkatta), Mayyur & Rimple (Gurgaon), Rashita Sehra (Delhi), Amit Talwar (Delhi), Ashi & Parul (Lucknow), Ethnic Attire by Himanshu and Meeta (Delhi), Amadi by Khalid (Delhi), Awadh by Kamal Lakhmani (Delhi), Excelsior Creations (Lucknow), Mandavi by Punit Balana (Jaipur), Dream Collection (Delhi), Prayaas (Hisar), Sancia Creation (Delhi), Reshma Fashion House (Mumbai), Sapna’s (Mumbai), Trendy Diva (Delhi), Mehak Creation (Delhi), Geeta Designer Studio (Punjab), Mangat Boutique (Punjab), Sonam Zayna (Delhi) and Srijak (Jaipur)

From the jewellery sector, Jewels Emporium (Jaipur), Sehgal Jewellers (Delhi), Dillano Luxury Jewels (Delhi), Vikas Diamond (Delhi), Samaira Jewels (Delhi), Kritika Gems (Delhi), Sparkling Jewels (Delhi), Shirin Narula (Delhi) and Sunflower (Mumbai) will participate with some of their exquisite ornaments.

Rasberry (Delhi), Spazio (Mumbai) and Aakarshan (Delhi) will showcase home decor, while Fidaa (Mumbai) and Shilp Crystal (Delhi) will put up accessories’ stalls.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

GHM targets Luxury Travel Market in India

With the extension of its global marketing network in India, Asia-based luxury hotel and resort management company GHM is targeting the rapidly growing luxury travel segment from India. GHM’s primary focus in India is high-end individual and honeymoon travellers. Apart from this it is also targeting the MICE segment, with a special focus on corporate think tank meetings.

GHM also looks at tapping the opportunities presented by Destination Weddings that are catching the fancy of many Indians who now want their marriage to be held at exotic locations.

GHM’s India representatives, Sartha Marketing headed by headed by hospitality industry veteran Sheema Vohra is working extensively in conjunction with the Indian travel trade and wedding planners to promote GHM’s portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.

To further enhance the understanding of the unique products offered by GHM, Sartha Marketing will also be conducting workshops for the management and counter staff from these organizations.

GHM is currently also offering some niche and interesting packages to attract and create excitement among the well heeled travellers. Packages like The Datai Golf and Spa Journey cater to the specific interests of travellers while offering them a perfect luxury escape.

GHM has an unrivalled reputation for conceptualising, developing and operating exclusive and stylish hotels and resorts worldwide. Its current portfolio of award winning and unique hotels and resorts is set to expand over the coming years with a number of new openings in the pipeline including two properties in China: The Chedi Club Suzhou and The Chedi Taiping Lake. Also under development are resorts in Jordan, Switzerland, Morocco and Malaysia.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oprah has $25,000 for 8 brave couples – “Don’t Tell the Bride” casting call

Have you ever wished that wedding planning was the groom’s responsibility and not the bride’s?

Well, here is your chance to make that wish a reality. Oprah’s new television network OWN is now casting for a reality TV show called “Don’t Tell the Bride” that is set to premier this fall with eight episodes.

Each episode of “Don’t Tell the Bride” will feature a different couple who has been given $25,000 to plan their wedding. But before you get too excited maybe it’s time to consider that you should be careful what you wish for: The bride will have ZERO input during the entire wedding planning process. The groom on the other hand will be exclusively responsible for planning everything: The bridal gown, the location, the music selection (do I hear the theme song from Star Wars?!?), the invitations, the reception, EVERYTHING!!!

Now, Oprah wasn’t born yesterday. She knows that brides will want to give their input and will try to offer guidance to their overwhelmed guy. That’s why all communication between the couple will be stopped for three weeks before the ceremony.

So, if you consider yourself to be a brave, adventure some couple who aren’t afraid to try something unique (and probably a bit scary) for your wedding – along with $25,000 to help make it possible, here is how to apply to become one of the eight couples cast in OWN’s “Don’t Tell the Bride” reality TV show:

Casting Requirements:
Must be over 18 years of age
Currently engaged
Willing and able to get legally married between July 2011 - September 2011
Have a few groomsmen and bridesmaids with big personalities willing to be on the show with you
No long distance or destination weddings. You must be willing to marry within driving distance of couple’s residence(s).

Please email with the following information:

Bride’s name and Groom’s name
Bride’s phone number
Bride’s email
Bride’s resident city
Groom’s phone number
Groom’s email
Groom’s resident city
A few sentences about you and why you are an ideal couple for the show
Wedding status – where you are in the process
Current photo of bride and groom (make sure we can clearly see you both)

Since the producers of this show have just begun actively searching for their eight couples who not only meet all the above requirements but are also brave enough to give this a go, you should apply right away if interested before these eight slots get filled up. When you apply, tell them you found out about the casting call from Good luck and have fun!

Georgia Bridal Show - Gwinnett Center


Jun 26 2011 , 12:00-5:00pm


6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy
Duluth, Georgia

Cost $10 cash at door or discounted tickets through website

Join us for the South's Elite Bridal Event since 1990! Brides are able to meet face to face with wedding professionals and find everything you need to create the wedding of your dreams! You can see a photographer's pictures, taste samples of cakes and foods from the caterers, see your future gown and the tuxedo of your groom on the fashion show runway, listen to the music of your DJ, visualize the flowers that you will be carrying down the aisle, get ideas for your bridal registry, plan your honeymoon and so much more! In addition to getting lots of great ideas and seeing the latest trends, you will be able to save time and money while also having fun! Registered brides will also be eligible to win an all-inclusive honeymoon trip!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Food & Wine Events: East Bay and Beyond

Bay Area News Group

Moe's Cookbook Series -- 7:30 p.m. May 25. Bay Area pop-up chef Suzanne Drexhage will discuss her favorite cookbooks during this new discussion series, moderated by Stanislaw Sobolewski, a Moe's cookbook buyer for the last decade. The series includes guest speakers, featured books and food samplings. 2476 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley. 510-849-2087.

Olson's 15th annual Cherry Festival -- 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. May 28-29. This annual festival at historic Sunnyvale cherry stand features orchard tours, cherry pit-spitting contests, cherry pancakes and live music. "The New Green Grocer" author Pete Carcione will sign books noon-2 p.m. May 28. Birthday cake at noon May 29. Free. C.J. Olson Cherries, 348 W. El Camino Real.

Rocks and Rhones Festival -- 11 a.m.-4 p.m. May 28-29. Plan a fabulous weekend of gourmet food and wine pairing with the winemakers and owners of four family owned and operated wineries in the heart of the El Dorado appellation wine country. Choose one day to visit all four wineries, Holly's Hill, Miraflores, Narrow Gate and Sierra Vista. $30-$35. 530-344-0227,

Jamaican Jerk Cook-Off -- Noon- 5 p.m. May 30. Jerk Masters will compete for the winning title, with live entertainment, music featuring New York's DJ Winston, and a Kids' Zone. Libations from Linden Street Brewery, New Belgium

Brewing Company and Periscope Cellar. Feed your inner fashionista with stylish gear from Oaklandish. Linden Street Brewery, 95 Linden St., Oakland. $10 per entry includes two tickets for wine, beer, or jerk tasting. Limited tickets available for entry, advance tickets can be purchased online at. Additional food and beverage tickets sold at the door. This is a family friendly event, free admission for children 12 and under.

Pasta Shop's Third annual Festival of California Extra Virgin Olive Oil -- Noon-3 p.m. June 4. Enjoy tastings, panel discussions, cooking demos and conversations with olive oil producers. In addition to tasting the oils, recipes will be prepared using different oils to show how flavor profiles directly change the taste of the finished recipes. And not to be missed on the patio, The Ice Cream and Olive Oil Bar, offering a variety of combinations, such as vanilla gelato with a robust olive oil, topped with sea salt. Tasty snacks made with olive oil will be offered including signature recipes from The Pasta Shop -- olive oil brownies, olive oil cake and challah. 1786 Fourth St., Berkeley. 510-250-6004,

Le Vin Au Jardin -- 12:30-5 p.m. June 4. This wine and garden party celebrates the release of Rodrigue Molyneaux Winery's new Château Molyneaux label. Stroll the gardens, enjoy music by Les Farrington and savor elegant French food created by executive chef Tracy Flores. $10. 3053 Marina Ave., Livermore. 925-443-1998,

Wine Rodeo -- 4-8 p.m. June 11. Pair Rock Wall's handcrafted wines with some of the best barbecue from award-winning barbecue chef Ray Green, while enjoying great country music entertainment. 2301 Monarch St., Suite 300, Alameda. $30-$45. 510-522-5700.

Taste of Mendocino -- 1-5 p.m. June 13. Sip, sample, taste and buy "all things Mendocino" at this exclusive marketplace-meets-showcase event. The marketplace will include more than 60 wineries, organic beer, artisan olive oil, preserves, eggs, cheese and grass-fed beef and lamb producers as well as favorite dishes from local restaurants. Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center, Buchanan Street and Marina Boulevard, San Francisco. $35-$45.

Truckee RibFest -- 1-6 p.m. June 19. This casual event will offer folks the chance to sample delicious ribs prepared by the best chefs in the Tahoe area -- a perfect afternoon outing for hungry dads and their families. 12047 Donner Pass Road, Truckee. $10-$15. 530-550-2252,

Chocolate Extravaganza -- 6:30-9 p.m. June 25. Taste delicious chocolate treats and enjoy the chocolate fountain during this benefit that features entertainment by the musicians of the Pinole Valley High School West County Conservatory of the Arts. 592 Tennent Ave., Pinole. $20-$25. 510-724-9141.

Connoisseurs' Marketplace -- 10 a.m.-6 p.m. July 16-17. Enjoy chefs' demos, festive food and drink, microbrews, margaritas, mojitos and more. Santa Cruz Avenue between El Camino Real and Johnson Street, Menlo Park. 650-325-2818,

SF Chefs 2011 -- Aug. 1-7. This weeklong celebration highlights Northern California chefs, winemakers, mixologists, farmers and artisanal food producers. Enjoy the Grand Tasting Tent and savor tastes at smaller, special events all week. $25-$150. San Francisco Union Square;

Millbrae Art and Wine Festival -- Sept. 3-4. Two sun-splashed days of festive food and drink, live music, art exhibits, Chinese dragon dance and taiko drum performances, and children's activities. Broadway Avenue between Victoria and Meadow Glenn, Millbrae. 650-697-7324,

Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival -- Sept. 9-11. Lake Tahoe's premier gourmet event includes chef battles, outdoor grilling demonstrations, a celebrity chef luncheon, gourmet marketplace, grape stomp and more.

Mountain View Art and Wine Festival -- Sept. 10-11. A massive multicultural celebration featuring festive food and drink, live music and an action-packed Kids' Park. Castro Street between El Camino Real and Evelyn Avenue, Mountain View. 650-968-8378,

Lake Tahoe Restaurant Week -- Oct. 2-9. Enjoy three-course, prix fixe menus at more than 60 participating restaurants throughout the Lake Tahoe region for $20, $30 or $40 per person;

Brunch, lunch, dinners

Dine About Town San Francisco -- Lunch and dinner June 1-15. Diners may select from more than 100 San Francisco restaurants offering a two-course lunch menu for $17.95 and/or a three-course dinner menu for $34.95, excluding tax and gratuity.

Cooking Matters Brunch -- 10 a.m.-noon June 12. Fresh Approach's "Cooking Matters" program teaches free cooking and nutrition classes to low-income families around the Bay Area. Share a delicious farmers market brunch in the beautiful new market building at Jack London Square. $10. Webster Street and Embarcadero, Oakland.

Festa del Papa -- 11 a.m.-8 p.m. June 19. Celebrate Father's Day with a special three-course, summery brunch. There's a children's version, too. $68 for grown-ups; children younger than 12 pay their age. Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley 2050 University Ave., East Palo Alto. 650-566-1200.


Foster Farms Second annual Fresh Chicken Cooking Contest -- Deadline to enter is May 31. The winner will receive a grand prize of $10,000 plus a one-year supply of Foster Farms fresh chicken. Submit your favorite, original chicken recipes for consideration. Recipes must feature Foster Farms fresh chicken and should be inspired by ingredients grown on the West Coast as a testament to Foster Farms' commitment to foods that are fresh, locally grown and always natural. Contest will culminate with finals Sept. 30 at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena during National Chicken Month.,, Foster Farms, Cooking Contest, P.O. Box 306, Livingston, CA 95334.

Bake On and Give Back with the Duncan Hines 1 Million Cupcake Challenge -- July 24 deadline. Duncan Hines invites bakers across the country to join its 1 Million Cupcake Challenge to help end childhood hunger. Working with Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale, Duncan Hines hopes to inspire passionate bakers with a national baking and fundraising movement.

So You Think You Can Cook With Garlic -- An all-comers cooking competition on Facebook and culminating before a live audience July 29 in the Cook-Off Theater. The contest is open to amateur chefs age 18 and older who post a video of themselves preparing their recipe, on the Gilroy Garlic Festival Facebook page at Contest rules are available on the festival Facebook page and at The winning chef will receive $810 in cash from KGO radio and the runner-up a $250 gift card from Raley's/Bel Air Markets/Nob Hill Foods.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Conference center officials: This means business

May 18, 2011 6:57 PM
Ragan Robinson

Gastonia’s city manager says the first event to contract with the Gastonia Conference Center — to the tune of $42,000 — is exactly the kind of affair the city wanted.

“We’re still five months from opening and they’re booking quality events,” said Jim Palenick.

Wednesday, the center’s manager and director of sales presented him a signed agreement for a bridal show to be produced by At Your Best Special Events.

The show is scheduled for April 20, 2012. Because it is a three-day affair, sales director Carol Queen says it should bring business to downtown restaurants as well as hotels and shops in Gastonia.

She estimates the occasion could attract 500 to 600 over the weekend.

Queen says the show itself could also open doors for companies such as florists and caterers that supply wedding services.

“Local vendors may capture events that would have gone to Charlotte,” she said.

Such events attract brides-to-be, who are prepared to spend money, according to Palenick.

Catered meals for the show’s vendors will also mean business going directly to some local operations, says Tony Swainey, the general manager for the conference center.

Eleven Gaston-area caterers have already contracted to provide food for conference center events, he said.

Swainey said it’s rare for an unfinished building to have bookings. He expects having a marketing and sales team in place early will help bring in events more quickly when the center opens in the fall.

Swainey says the staff has 18 proposals for different events. He anticipates landing more than half of them.

Among the interested parties are individuals who have celebrations to host, corporations who need training space, nonprofits and fraternal groups.

“It helps that there was a desperate need,” Swainey said.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jumping the Broom Sweeps in $24.5 Million at Box Office in Two Weeks

Box office estimates for the second week of Jumping the Broom are estimated at $24.5 million in two weeks. More than quadrupling its $6.6 million production costs, “Jumping the Broom” debuted with $15.2 million at the box office, received a rare CinemaScore rating of “A” from moviegoers, and finished the weekend as the top-ranked comedy in America.

The second film from T.D. Jakes’ TDJ Enterprises “first look” partnership with Sony Pictures, “Jumping the Broom” landed in third behind big-budget films “Thor” and “Fast Five,” managing to outperform expectations despite heavy competition which included another wedding-themed romantic comedy. The film also marks a diversity milestone as what is likely the first major studio release featuring a predominantly African American cast, creative team and shepherded by an African American studio executive.

“We are ecstatic with the performance of ‘Jumping the Broom,’” said DeVon Franklin, vice president of production, Sony Pictures. ”This is the second film under our tremendous partnership with T.D. Jakes and TDJE, and there will be many more to come!”

The successful opening weekend dispels misconceptions about the PG-13 rating and films with family-friendly themes, both widely viewed as box office hindrances for adult movies. At the same time, “Jumping the Broom” introduces Jakes and TDJ Enterprises as a new force in Hollywood to share a stake of the Black family film market.

Leveraging a plethora of pre-existing relationships and social media networks to create a savvy, non-traditional marketing strategy helped this film to reverse trends and drive increased audiences to the theater, outpacing early estimates.

“I have known T.D. Jakes some 20 years, first in book publishing and now in film,” said Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment. ”He never ceases to amaze me with his ability to succeed in every forum of media. It is a privilege and an honor to share this success with him in the film business.”

Boasting an all-star ensemble cast that includes Angela Bassett, Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Loretta Devine, Meagan Good, Tasha Smith, Julie Bowen, Romeo Miller, DeRay Davis, Valarie Pettiford and Mike Epps, “Jumping the Broom” explores the cultural and spiritual challenges of abstinence, motherhood, family, and relationships alongside themes such as forgiveness, family secrets, and misperceptions.

“When DeVon Franklin presented this opportunity to inquire about my level of interest in the project, I read the script and became excited about making this movie under our ‘first look’ deal with Sony. It was clear that we had something uniquely special,” said T.D. Jakes, CEO of TDJ Enterprises. ”It has been an incredible blessing to work together with Tracey Edmonds, Glendon Palmer, Elizabeth Hunter, Curtis Wallace and Salim Akil in developing and producing ‘Jumping the Broom,’ a movie for which we are all very proud.”

Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman, who graded the film with an “A-” described “Jumping the Broom” this way: “You’ll laugh – a lot – but you’ll also shed tears of recognition at this funny, salty, strife-torn look at the agony and ecstasy of family.”

“Jumping the Broom” is the third film produced by TDJ Enterprises. The two prior projects included the independently financed and produced “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” based on the national bestselling book and annual women’s conference, and “Not Easily Broken,” the first film under the company’s partnership with Sony.

Friday, May 20, 2011

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Working the Wedding: 8 of the Best Black Names in the Industry

Wedding season is upon us. It’s a charged time period, and that’s not just a reference to the tears of joy and panic attacks – upwards of $80 billion is spent each year on crafting the perfect day. The Atlanta Post takes a look at eight black-owned businesses that have managed to distinguish themselves in a crowded industry. From world-renowned dressmaker Amsale Aberra to baker extraordinaire, Margo Lewis, these proprietors are upping the wow factor for weddings.

Amsale Aberra’s business was born of necessity. The year was 1985 and after a few expeditions that yielded nothing but poofs and fussiness, the bride-to-be decided to craft her own gown. Soon thereafter the Ethiopian native took out an ad in a bridal magazine and began to see clients. While her devotees include some of the biggest names in Hollywood – Halle Berry, Julia Roberts and Salma Hayek – she’s also popular among fictional characters. Aberra’s dresses are featured in films Something Borrowed, 27 Dresses, and ABC Series Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Brothers and Sisters. Next month the cameras turn on her as she opens up her Madison Avenue boutique to WE TV in a reality series, “Amasale Girls”.

Diann Valentine started planning weddings in high school. She took a detour, heading up worldwide production for Warner Home Video, before the nuptials of film director Antoine Fuqua and actress Lela Rochon pulled her back to her calling. Featured in InStyle magazine, the ceremony opened a floodgate of opportunity as Valentine contributed to multiple media outlets and coached Usher, Nas, Kelis and Toni Braxton through their big days. A TNT reality show didn't last, but her brand remains strong with a book, Weddings Valentine Style, and line of wedding stationary in circulation.

At the very least Preston Bailey is an event designer; at most, a creative genius. Born in Panama, he relocated to New York some thirty years ago, initially taking up fashion. At a friend’s prompting he started designing floral arrangements for 5th Avenue clients and in a one-thing-led-to-another-fashion, secured his first wedding commission. In the intervening years Oprah, Bill Cosby, Jennifer Hudson and Laurence Fishburne have called on him to make their celebrations memorable. Some of his best work and ideas are collected in four books, one of which is entitled Fantasy Weddings.

When Therez Fleetwood was thirteen years old her parents enrolled her in a sewing class. After high school she continued her studies at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and found work in the industry. By 1999 it was time to hang out her own shingle. Now based in Atlanta, Fleetwood specializes in African-inspired wedding gowns customized for each client. Her designs have been featured in magazines like Instyle and The Knot, as well as museum exhibits. Brides who need help thinking through dress and accessory options can refer to her book, Afrocentric Bride: A Style Guide.

Margo Lewis churned out her first wedding cake at the age of twelve. The $75 commission set the stage for what would eventually become Cake Bliss. Voted one of “America’s Most Beautiful Cake Decorators for 2010″ by Brides magazine, the company boasts a broad clientele, among them, Spike Lee, Essence magazine, The Knot, Carnegie Hall, Williams-Sonoma and Crate and Barrel. Home base for the operation is Ms. Dahlia’s Café, a Brooklyn shop opened in 2009. Building on her brand, Lewis recently broadened her services to include floral design and event management.

Having studied music and art in college Charmaine Jones was always going to do something creative. But it wasn’t until she prepared a cake for a friend that she truly found her medium. In 1992 she launched Isn’t That Special Outrageous Cakes. Nowadays the business and the lady are known as CakeDiva. One of her long-term gigs started with a wedding. When she heard that an African-American couple was set to marry on “All My Children” she campaigned for the job and was eventually appointed designated baker for both that show and “One Life to Live”. Jones’ work for higher wattage stars include Beyonce, Denzel Washington and Michael Jordan, though she’s happy to accommodate regular folks too.

When Regina McRae started out, weddings were not on her radar. She was making pies in her kitchen and selling them for $10 each to her running club. Word of mouth brought more orders and in time Grandma’s Secrets was operating at full tilt. For years the bakery has been a favorite among New York brides, attracting the endorsement of O Magazine, New York Magazine, The Food Network and MTV. In 2008 she released Taking The Cake: The Ultimate Wedding Cake Guide for the Ethnic Bride, touching on everything from design to dietary restrictions.

Anybody can start a blog but it takes real dedication and vision to make it stand out. Over at The Bride’s Café Janie Medley seems to have happened upon the right formula. Started as a vehicle for promoting her Virginia-based floral design business, the blog is bursting with breathtaking images and resources for every nuptial need. Named a favorite by InStyle magazine, there’s bound to be more accolades as long as she keeps up the good work.

Article Provided by The Atlanta Post.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

LET YOUR Dream Wedding PAY FOR YOUR Honeymoon

Celebrate your destination wedding with Starwood Hotels and Resorts in Mexico. Breathtaking resorts on Mexico's Pacific or Caribbean side will give guests an array of activities allowing the bride to relax for her big day. If you are looking for culture, nightlife and some of the best food in the world, look no further than Mexico City, where your guests are sure to go home with a memory that will last a lifetime.

Allow our wedding specialists to help you in planning your perfect wedding. With 5 brands to choose from, Starwood Mexico has the perfect location for the wedding you have always imagined.

Reserve your wedding at a participating hotel or resort in Mexico and earn bonus Starpoints®, which can be redeemed for free nights at any one of over 1000 Starwood Hotels worldwide. Book your wedding in Mexico and use your points to pay for your dream honeymoon!

Earn one Starpoint for every $1 contracted for your wedding, up to 100,000 Starpoints
Starpoints are awarded at contract signing, so you can plan your honeymoon right away

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do You See Any Resemblance

A friend sent this to me - I thought it was a cute picture...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bridesmaids The Movie "Now Showing"

Want something different and funny to do with your bridal party checkout Bridesmaids The Movie.... it is a funny comedy... "Compare Notes..."

Paul Feig

Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo

Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Rose Byrne


Annie (Kristen Wiig), is a maid of honor whose life unravels as she leads her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), and a group of colorful bridesmaids (Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper) on a wild ride down the road to matrimony. Annie's life is a mess. But when she finds out her lifetime best friend is engaged, she simply must serve as Lillian's maid of honor. Though lovelorn and broke, Annie bluffs her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals. With one chance to get it perfect, she'll show Lillian and her bridesmaids just how far you'll go for someone you love.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

10 Signs Of A Healthy Relationship

By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

"My parents had a very good relationship," I often hear my clients say.

"What do you mean by good?" I ask.

"They didn't fight. They spent a lot of time with each other."

That may have been the definition of a good relationship years ago, but now most people want more. Following are ten signs of a healthy relationship.


Is kindness more important to each of you than having your way, being in control, or being right? Do you each receive joy out of being kind to each other? Being kind rather than controlling with each other is essential for a healthy relationship.


Do you and your partner well up with warmth and fullness of heart for each other and express it with affection? Are you each able to see the beautiful essence within each other, rather than just the faults? Are you able to get beyond the
outer to the unique inner Self of each other? Do you enjoy sharing affection? Warmth and affection are vital for a healthy relationship.


Can the two of you laugh and play together? Do you appreciate and enjoy each other's sense of humor? In the midst of difficulties, can you help each other to lighten up with humor? Can you let down and be playful with each other, letting
yourselves be like kids together? Laughter and fun play a huge role in a healthy relationship.


Are you both each other's favorite person to spend time with? Are you motivated to set aside time just to be together? Do both of you have friends and interests that you enjoy doing? Are both of you fine when you are not together?

Some couples spend a lot of time together because they really enjoy it, while others spend a lot of time together out of fear of being alone. It is important for a healthy relationship for each person to have friends and interests, so that they are not dependent on each other. Dependency is not healthy in a relationship, particularly emotional dependency.


All relationships have some conflict. It is not the conflict
that is the issue, but how you deal with it. Do you have a
method for resolving conflict, or do the issues just keep
getting swept aside? If fighting is part of how you deal with
conflict, do you fight fair, or are you hurtful when you fight?


If one or both of you get angry, do you hang on to it, punishing your partner with it, or can you easily let it go? In healthy relationships, both partners are able to quickly move on, back into kindness and affection.


Do you each trust that the love is solid, even in very difficult times between you? Do you each know that you can mess up, fail, disappoint the other, emotionally hurt the other – and the love will still be there? Do you each know that the love is
about who you are, not what you do? This level of trust is essential for a healthy relationship.


Do you each feel heard, understood and accepted? Can you share your secrets with your partner without fearing being judged? Are you each more interested in learning about yourselves and each other than you are in controlling each other? Is listening to each other with an open heart and a desire to understand more
important than judging each other or defending yourselves?


Is your sexual relationship warm and caring? Can you be sexually spontaneous? Can you talk with each other about what brings pleasure to each of you?


Do you each feel free to be all that you are? Do you each feel supported in pursuing what brings you joy? Does your partner feel joy for your joy?

While some people may naturally be open, kind, affectionate, accepting, and emotionally responsible for themselves, most people need to heal the fears and false beliefs they learned in their families. Healthy relationships evolve as each person evolves in his or her ability to be loving to themselves and each other.

About the Author: Margaret Paul, Ph.D., best-selling author of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You" and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course:

or email her at Phone Sessions.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wedding - Azie and Wale

As promised, here is the white wedding of Azie and Wale. This couple spared no expense with this wedding including a Pnina Tornai gown (gowns by this designer start at $5000). Enjoy!!!

Photography by Threshold Visions

Traditional Clothing: - Azie: Mrs Akinwande’s Scissors, Lagos, Nigeria. - Walé: Deola Sagoe, Lagos, Nigeria.
• Wedding Dress – Pnina Tornai at Kleinfeld Bridal NYC

• Bridesmaids Dresses – Pnina Tornai at Kleinfeld Bridal NYC

• Grooms Attire – Gieves and Hawkes, Saville Row, London

• Groomsmen Attire – Buckleigh of London

• Florist and Décor – Newton and David, Lagos, Nigeria

• Wedding Invitations – Ceci, New York

• Wedding Planners:
- Michelle Mays, New York
- Franicole’s, Lagos, Nigeria
- Eventful, Lagos, Nigeria

• Traditional Nigerian Engagement Ceremony and Receptions Sites – Landmark Village, Victoria-Island, Lagos

• Church Wedding – Church of the Assumption, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Why Every Couple Needs Estate Planning-Now!

by: Helga Hayse

We take life on the road for granted. The oncoming car will stay in its lane. The driver behind us won't ride our rear fender. The grazing deer won't run out on the road. The driver in the weaving car can handle his tire blowout. The bridge will hold; the levee won't break.

Outside, the storm wasn't supposed to hit until evening. "I'll only be gone a few hours," her husband had said. " I have to meet this client before the weekend. We'll review the lawyer's papers when I come back."

The storm hit early. The bridge held; her husband's heart didn't. The conversation they needed to have didn't happen. He had resisted signing the papers for giving his wife durable powers of attorney for health care and financial decisions in case he was incapacitated.

When she got to the hospital, he was hooked up to life support. His eyes were closed; he couldn't talk. His sons consulted with the doctor. They ignored her. Even after ten years, the boys still resented their father's remarriage after their mother died.

Feeling invisible and helpless, his wife sobbed. If her husband survived, he would need heart surgery and extensive rehabilitation. His outdated estate plan, with provisions tailored for his first marriage, appointed his sons as holding durable powers of attorney. She would have no say in the matter. She knew the sons would not include her in their decisions. If her husband died, his previous will, still in effect, would benefit the adult sons from his first marriage.

They had had consulted an estate attorney a few weeks before his heart attack to bring the plan up to date and reflect their ten years of marriage. The draft of the revised plan was on the living room table. That's what they were planning to discuss when he returned. They would review it and get it back to the attorney for final signatures.

She had been so relieved when her husband finally acknowledged how frightened she was not to have financial protection in case something happened to him. He was the optimist in the family, always expecting the best, looking for the silver lining around every dark cloud. She loved that about him; it balanced her own tendency to brood and worry about things she couldn't control.

Neither of them had seen this coming. He was in good health; he'd quit smoking a few years ago, watched his weight, had some wine with dinner, exercised - all the things that they'd learned over the years would help them stay healthy longer. He certainly had not been a candidate for a heart attack.

If you're married to an optimist, he'll tell you not to worry, that everything will be fine. He'll point to the wonderful life you have together and reassure you that he understands your fears and concerns.

But if you're married to an optimist who is also a procrastinator, beware. He'll postpone taking action about things he doesn't like to think about, often until it's too late. You have a choice - Create an estate plan, make sure you've signed the durable powers of attorney and know that you've done what you need to do about things you can't control.

The other choice? Hope for the best.

Helga Hayse is author of "Don't Worry about a Thing, Dear" - Why Women Need Financial Intimacy. She teaches women about participating and understanding their marital finances and speaks to financial planners and estate planners about how to encourage crucial conversation between generations. Take her free financial intimacy quiz and read her frequently updated blog at