Cinderella-Inspired Vintage Concept Table

The invitation

The invitation I created for the "wedding" concept, featuring hand-drawn artwork!

I am so, SO proud of this design.  Seriously I’m in love with it.  And I’m so excited to share with you!  I realize I owe several blogs (including the end of my “Any Ideas?” series, which I promise is coming!) but I finally had a few minutes to check over my photos from the last week and I am thrilled with the results!

Today’s post is dedicated to the Cinderella-Inspired Vintage Concept Table I put together for Alfred Angelo’s “Girls’ Night Out” event.  It was a small evening where vendors were invited to showcase their talents, and I’m so very glad I could be a part of it!  The store’s assistant manager and I go way back (he helped my sister find her Maid of Honor dress for my wedding three years ago!) and I was so excited to be able to participate in this event with him and his excellent staff!

As for the table…

I saw this fantastic brown metal “birdcage” while browsing around at Ross a couple of months back.  It’s in the shape of a pumpkin carriage, but it’s not frilly or overly princessy.  I fell in love with it and, despite putting it down and walking away three separate times, finally had to buy it and bring it home.  Seriously.  Love.

I actually had been planning a pretty concept shoot or two around it, but when this opportunity came up at Alfred Angelo I jumped at the chance to have an “excuse” to create my table.  I was lucky enough to get connected up with the incredible Melissa at Pow Wow Vintage Rentals, whose incredible finds have me drooling.  When I mentioned the event (and the manager’s suggestion to bring a “small round” table) to her, she suggested instead a beautiful rustic dark wood piece.  I immediately said “YES!” without even seeing a photo (I saw it later on her site and was giddy about it!).   What an incredible combination with my pumpkin carriage!

Then my good friend Jessica from Sweeter by the Dozen created the adorable cake for me.  I just said my colors were pink and white and she came up with the design.  I love the beautiful fondant rose!  And the flavor?  SO amazing!

I was originally planning to skew a little less pink and a little less frilly than I actually went with this event (despite the Cinderella theme, I didn’t want it to scream “princess”, but as I was picking out pieces to use (almost everything on my table is from my inventory – I’m so behind updating my event rentals catalog!) I kept being drawn to frosted glass and milk glass, and lots and lots of pink.  I just decided to go with it (and bring in some pretty browns and greens to help create that vintage feel) – after all, Cinderella is a princess!

I tried, in this table, to demonstrate what I do.  I included a printed invitation, a card “box” with tag, a sweet table setup, some pretty florals, and some fun details, so that you can get the “flavor” of what such an event would look like.  Obviously this particular table is nothing you’d actually have at an event – no one would be eating dinner at your sweet table, and your cards would likely be elsewhere – but I think it’s a great demonstration of what I can do.  I even made about six yards of bunting by hand for the event.

This event is a great example of why I say that I prefer having a long lead time for event design – especially if I’ll be shopping for new pieces – because I had just over a week to plan it out and it was a major marathon at the end (I wanted a small table to complete the look and went to every thrift store within 25 miles, only to find the one I did at a shop less than a mile from my house).  I love ordering items online and just barely received the glass slipper with hours to spare before the event.  And because good design takes time, I was making changes to my table up until setup (which is normal), including buying ivy at the store less than an hour before leaving my house (not normal).  I also wish I’d have had more prep time because the taffy were really supposed to be pink French macaroons that I simply ran out of time to make or order.

I really was wishing I had another few days to prep!

But despite the short prep time, I’m seriously seriously adoring this whole table.  I sort of want to create one for each fairy tale princess now (someone hire me to do that for their wedding, please?).  I love the whimsical and unexpected details (like the mouse – people couldn’t get over him!) and the fun vintage feel.  I can definitely see Snow White’s table with a big dish full of apples and bunting made with antique blue fabric with little red flowers.  And a mirror of course.

But I digress.  And I should just post the photos already and let you see what I’m so very proud of!  I hope you like it just as much as I do!  Oh – and obviously I’m no photographer – so some of these may be lacking in composition points.  Please don’t hold it against me! 🙂  And for more photographs, visit my Facebook page!

My pumpkin carriage

My pumpkin carriage, which inspired it all!

A last minute detail

A last minute detail - ivy in frosted glass!

Pink rock candy in milk glass

Pink rock candy in milk glass

A mouse!

A mouse! 🙂

More ivy and Cinderella's shoe!

More ivy and Cinderella's shoe! (this was the ivy I was buying at the store just before the event!)

The full display, including table and place setting by Pow Wow and cake by Sweeter by the Dozen

The gorgeous full display, including table, lace cloth, and place setting by Pow Wow Vintage and cake by Sweeter by the Dozen

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Happy Anniversary Lynn + David!

One year ago tomorrow was the backyard wedding of Lynn and David!  I’ve known Lynn for a looooong time and was actually an invited guest.  But, when a series of unfortunate events happened that made the wedding preparations that much more difficult, I was honored to step in as her Day-of-Coordinator.  Lynn and David’s family and friends really came together to make this homegrown wedding a happy day.  It included homemade everything (wedding gazebo, ring pillow, bouquets, cake, oh – and wedding DRESS, not to mention a potluck dinner, a serve-yourself bar, and an iPod music selection).

Potlucks are the most difficult thing to pull off at a wedding, but these two and their friends had it perfectly orchestrated.  Backyard weddings, too, are so tough – because your venue isn’t actually a “venue” at all – and stepping in to Day-of-Coordination within a week of the wedding is something I prefer not to do under most circumstances.  But the awesome guests at this wedding really did make my job easy!

While I love weddings dripping with details, this simple, relaxed wedding was a real celebration of love.  This is still one of my favorite weddings ever, because you can just see the love between these two!!!

All of the photos below were taken by myself/my husband with my camera; you can see more of their photos, taken by their friend/photographer, David Bean, on my website!

Sammy, the Ring Puppy!

Sammy, the Ring Puppy!

Married!

Married!

Cutting the cake!

Cutting the cake!

No cake-smashing here!

No cake-smashing here!

The First Dance!

The First Dance!

Dancing with her daddy to "I Loved Her First"

Dancing with her daddy to "I Loved Her First"

The garter - and that million-watt smile!

The garter - and that million-watt smile!

Myself with the bride!

Myself with the bride!

Lynn and David, Happy Anniversary!!!  Here’s to many, many years of happiness in your marriage, and love!

My San Diego Home Registry

Are you planning a wedding?  Are you sick of registering for plates and pans and things you already have?  My San Diego Home Registry can help.

This free service offers you the ability to set up your registry so that your wedding guests can help you and your new spouse to become homeowners.  You pay no fees to the Registry, and neither do your guests.  It’s a win-win!

I heard about this awesome new service through my cousin, Charlene, who started the registry as a way to help brides and grooms turn their wedding gifts into real estate.  She is a licensed Realtor and loves what she does – and, being a bride-to-be herself (in fact, her fiance and his brothers are all engaged right now!), she knows a thing or two about registries.  I hope you’ll take the time to check out how My San Diego Home Registry can help you to turn your wedding gifts into a new home!

Any Ideas? – What Will Our Activities Be?

This sort of ties in with the audience question, above.  What activities are you planning for the guests at your event?  This can be a big space consideration, especially at a wedding, where dancing is typically expected. Do you have enough space for your activities?  Do you have a clearly defined space for them, or will you have to clear away one part of the party to make room for another?

Whether you’re throwing a wedding, birthday party, or shower, how will you entertain your guests?  Board games?  Charades?  Shower games?  Scrapbooking?  Photo booths?  Will you make a wishing tree, or use a traditional guestbook, or paint onesies?  Will you start a massive game of capture the flag, or decorate cookies, or play beer pong?

When you start thinking about party themes, your party activities may or may not heavily feature in the planning process.  But unless you know how your guests will spend their time, the details of your theme will be murky.

Again, I like to use examples, so here goes:

Sack Races

Sack Races

Say I’m asked to plan out a party.  The honoree likes my “Born on the Fourth of July” inspiration board, so I’m working with a red, white, and blue palette and going for an old-fashioned feel.  If the activities for the day included a sack race and a game of Blind Man’s Bluff, the party would have a very different overall feeling than if guests spent their time creating ice cream sundaes, or if they pulled taffy by hand or played a Tiddly Winks tournament.  These would all be pretty standard Victorian-era party activities, consistent with the theme of the party, but would yield dramatically different results with your overall party theme.

Tiddly Winks

Tiddly Winks

Even at a wedding, a careful planner will consider what the guests will be doing.  Will there be a large enough dance floor for everyone?  Is there a photo booth?  A fun guest book?  A sweets table or candy bar?  A slide show?  Trading card favors?  Or are your guests more of the “stand around and enjoy each other’s company” variety?

Keeping guests busy at a party is one of the hardest jobs for any planner; it involves a thorough knowledge of your party space and your audience, and (hopefully) a good deal of thought.  We’ve all been to parties where we were bored to tears (or worse, uncomfortable with strange getting-to-know-you games that didn’t make a lot of sense).  Tying your theme and your activities together helps you to have a clearer picture of what your guests will be doing, and helps your guests to better enjoy your careful planning.

Photo credits: Book Drum, Object Lessons.

Life is a Highway…

And right now I’m speeding!

Road Centerpiece - Events by Elisa

Road Centerpiece - Events by Elisa

No, seriously between some rush jobs and crafting/designing/shopping for my upcoming events…  I was so busy this week that my blogging suffered!  But next week I’ll be back with the conclusion to my “Any Ideas?” series, and some pretty things to show you!

In the mean time, the picture above is one of the things I finished this week.  For my May bride’s Cirque-themed cocktail hour, she found a ceramic VW bug with flowers all over it.  We’ll be pairing it with this sparkle-adorned foam road for a fun candy-holding centerpiece!

Any Ideas? – What Does the Honoree Really Like?

Forget for a minute that vintage-inspired weddings are “in.”  Forget that sweet tables are the hot thing, or that jewel tones are “so last year.”  What does your honoree like?  If you’re the bride and groom planning a wedding, what is your style?

My wedding cake table - Events by Elisa

My wedding cake table - Events by Elisa

I got married in 2008.  This was the very beginning of the mismatched table decor trend.  In fact, the first magazine article I saw mentioning putting flowers in various china vessels was published a month or two before my wedding in Martha Stewart Weddings.  But my husband and I – both avid swap meet goers, both in love with vintage looks, both more at home with mismatched and homespun than slick and modern (our house is a great example – we’ve furnished almost the entire thing secondhand) – decided early on in our planning process that we’d enjoy picking out vintage china pieces to fill with mismatched flowers and decorate our tables.  This theme – a whimsical vintage garden – was born when we first visited our venue (a vintage-themed restaurant) and was the perfect mixture of our taste with distinct, inexpensive details.

If you are more couture than campagne, a mismatched garden look is probably a mismatch for you.  Likewise, if I’m planning a birthday party for a 4-year-old-girl who is obsessed with monster trucks, I probably won’t be dressing her up as a princess (unless she’d like a princess-at-a-monster-truck-rally party, in which case I’m all for it!).  Trends are trends – but just as in fashion, if a trend doesn’t fit you, don’t wear it.  Skinny jeans or cutoffs may be in vogue, but I look like a tree stump in them – so I consistently choose long bootcuts.  Don’t reach for the “in” thing if it’s just not you.

Likewise, if a trend does happen to be you, don’t be afraid to embrace it.  You may remember my peacock bridal shower invitations.  What I didn’t say in the original post was that my friend, for whom I’m throwing the shower, originally wanted peacock feathers to be featured at her wedding.  But when she realized that they were a hot wedding trend, she decided against them.  She didn’t want to follow the crowd.  I understand and embrace the creative spirit – but no two parties are identical, even with the exact same printed materials.  Just because something has been done a hundred times doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing again – if the theme is something you love.

Photo from my website.

Inspiration: Enchanted Unicorn & Rainbow Birthday Party

I have to admit that this board was inspired by all the gorgeous rainbow cakes I’ve been seeing lately!  I thought I’d take a day off of my how-to series and give you some pretty pictures to look at!

This birthday party was designed for a seven-year-old me.  It’s got second grade Elisa all over it!  In fact, at that age I used to use my grandfather’s typewriter and Xerox machine to create “newspapers” for my family, with poems I’d made up or stories I’d written.  At the bottom of each one was a hand-drawn rainbow with fluffy clouds at each end and a big star and the name of my “publishing house” – Elisa Press.  I was obsessed, too, with unicorns (I was for years) and collected a ton of LisaFrank folders!  I dug up this picture from inside one of my old binders (a Lisa Frank one at that!).  I think I was about 9 when I drew it (the paper is so yellow!):

 

An Events by Elisa original (no idea why the pony's name was "Carol"). :)

An Events by Elisa original (no idea why the pony's name was "Carol").

Anyway, this inspiration board is for you, Little Elisa! 🙂

Enchanted Unicorn & Rainbows Inspiration Board - Events by Elisa

Enchanted Unicorn & Rainbows Inspiration Board - Events by Elisa

Photo credits (clockwise, from top left): Broke-Ass Bride, Babble, ArtNectar, Inspired Parties, Juicy Bits, Love to Know, The Wedding Queen, SmugMug, Hostess With the Mostess, The Cake Blog, Creative Genius Printables.

Any Ideas? – How Many People Will be in Attendance?

How does this play into the theme, you might ask?  What does it matter if I’ll have 10 people at my event, or 100?  Well, unless your budget and your space is unlimited, the number of guests in attendance is crucial to the planning of your event.  You may have your heart set on a fancy sit-down dinner for 200, but if your backyard only has enough room for half that many seated, you may have to plan on serving cocktails and appetizers instead, or cut your guest list in half.  Similarly, if your budget is only $1000, you can invite 10 people and spend $100 on each, or 100 people and spend $10 on each.

Not surprisingly, the less people you expect to have, the more elaborate a theme you can have.  Consider favors – just a small part of a wedding or other event.  With a $250 favor budget, you can give 200 people a handful of jordan almonds wrapped in tulle, or 10 people personalized sterling silver charms.

You can still have the same general theme – say, bohemian wedding – if you have 15 guests or 150.  You may still have the same basic costs – like DJ, coordinator, photographer, lighting, and paper goods – but your per-person budget will determine how many beautiful themed details you can include.  The more guests you have, the less you can spend per person.

Your expected guest list also helps determine your exact venue – if you absolutely must have room for 300 wedding guests, the back room at your favorite restaurant probably can’t hold them.  But if you’re having a small wedding celebration with just a dozen close family and friends, there’s no reason to rent a ballroom.

If your venue is set – say, your home – you’ll need to know the number of guests early on for planning the flow of traffic.  In our living room and kitchen, we typically can’t fit more than four comfortably.  But for my husband’s board game birthday party, we removed all the excess furniture, set up a bunch of small chairs, and transformed our kitchen into an appetizer serving space.  It was tight, but we enjoyed the company of eight of our closest friends (and could have probably fit another couple or two!).

One of my favorite recent examples of the importance of knowing your guest list is the Cinderella-Inspired Birthday on Hostess with the Mostess.  The party host admits that cutting down the guest list was hard – for her daughter’s previous birthday she’d invited over sixty kids – but was able to make a beautiful, lavishly-decorated party with elaborate gift bags for just ten guests.  “This year, ten girls was just perfect!” she says.  Had she tried to plan the same party for even twice that many guests, it would have turned out very differently; from the setup of the party space to the gift bags, she would have had a completely different party.  This is not to say it wouldn’t have been lovely – or that you shouldn’t invite every last one of your friends to your next bash – but the number of people you invite will always be a consideration for your space, your budget, and the scope of your party.

Any Ideas? – What is My Audience?

The part audience plays in the planning process may not be as obvious as the type of party you’re having, or the when and where.  So I’m going to use examples heavily here.

Glam Rockstar Birthday for a Young Girl - from Shannon Baily Photos

Glam GirlRockstar Birthday - from Shannon Baily Photos; cupcakes by O'Cakerie

Say I’m planning a rock star birthday party.  What do you think of for thematic elements?  Posters on the walls?  Guitar Hero on the Wii?  A cover band?  Big hair?  Safety pins?  Now let me suggest that this party is for a 7-year-old girl.  Suddenly there are sparkly pink microphones and glam makeup a la Jem and the Holograms, a fun photo session with dress up clothes, and Disney karaoke on the Wii.  If the party is, instead, for a 30th birthday, I might insist that all attendees wear their best grunge-inspired clothing and play endless Nirvana.  For a 40th birthday, the theme might be based around Spinal Tap.  That is, unless the birthday girl has dreams of being Joan Jett (or Jem!).  What’s appropriate for a 7-year-old girl and her friends may or may not be what’s appropriate for her mother or her older brother and their peers.

Take another example: the tea party.  Now, I could easily plan a tea party for that same 7-year-old girl (of course, if she’s more of a rock star, she might not be too happy with me for planning her such a sedate theme!). There would probably be lots of ruffles, some pretty tea cakes, a princess dress-up box, and plastic tea set favors.  If that little girl grew up and was having her bridal shower with a tea party theme, I’d focus more on soft floral accents, cucumber sandwiches and scones, perhaps some great hats for her guests to wear, and tea bag favors.  If she were celebrating her eightieth birthday with a tea party (as my grandmother did nearly a decade ago), the food and favors might be the same – but the party activities would be distinctly different (can you imagine a room full of eighty-somethings playing a risque game of shower charades?  okay, maybe you can…).

Heavy Metal Birthday Cake - from Hostess With the Mostess

Heavy Metal Birthday Cake - from Hostess With the Mostess

Too much estrogen for you?  How about a party with a casino theme?  For a teenager’s birthday, they might enjoy dressing up, “gambling” for prize tickets, and drinking fancy non-alcoholic beverages (think slushy virgin margaritas and muddled mint and club soda “mojitos”).  For a 21st birthday, though, the drinks are alcoholic and guests are learning real gambling techniques.  For a bachelor party, poker dealers and bartenders are beautiful women and the beers flow freely.  For a 40th birthday, the guests come in their nicest attire (think Monte Carlo) and the martinis are shaken, not stirred.

Know your audience – age, gender, and likes/dislikes – and you’ll be able to tailor your theme to fit them.

Photo credits: Glam Girl Rockstar Birthday, Heavy Metal Birthday

Any Ideas – When and Where?

When and Where?

This question may also sound like an obvious one, especially if you’ve already chosen a time, date, and place.  But any themed ideas you come up with should have as much to do with the timing and location of your event as with the type of event.

For example, if I were planning a wedding and needed to come up with a theme, I’d first want to know the season in which the wedding will be taking place.  This will help determine what flowers are seasonally available, what decorative elements will easily be accessible, and what the bridal party should wear.  Then I’d want to know the basic characteristics of the location where the wedding was taking place.  If I’m planning an outdoor wedding in the dead of winter in a snowy locale, it’s not very practical to put my bridesmaids in yellow cotton shifts and give them bouquets of rannunculus and lily of the valley.  But that very same bridesmaid dress-and-flower combination would be perfect at a summery outdoor ceremony.  And a fur wrap with a long burgundy brocade and a bouquet of roses and mistletoe – or pinecones! – would look a little strange on an eighty-degree day.

Sometimes it’s all about the details – the same color of bridesmaid dress might be just as perfect during the winter as the summer, but you’d pair it with different accessories.  For example, both of these weddings (one summer, one winter) use gray bridesmaid dresses – but the winter one pairs the dress up with a white fur while the summer one uses a pop of bright yellow.

Winter Bridesmaids in Gray from The Knot

Winter Bridesmaids in Gray from The Knot

Summer Bridesmaids in Gray from Snippet and Ink

Summer Bridesmaids in Gray from Snippet & Ink

Likewise, the time of day of a wedding plays a big part in the planning.  A sunset ceremony and candlelit dinner will have a distinctly different feeling than a morning ceremony followed by an informal bunch on the lawn.  You’ll want to have different food, different fashion, and different decor.

 

Even for non-wedding events, such as showers and birthday parties, timing plays a huge part.  A bridal shower brunch will serve different food than a bridal shower tea or a bridal shower dinner (think quiche and mimosas, versus cucumber sandwiches and iced tea, versus a pasta dish with wine).  You may be planning your party in a different locale based on the time of day (that patch of lawn might be lovely in the morning but without some shade may be wiltingly hot at 2 pm; likewise, the seaside bluff may be perfect midday but have a chilly breeze in the evening).

Think about the basic when and where of your event before finalizing thematic details and you’ll be able to ensure that all the elements work together.