“ Unveiling ” the Latest Trends in Bridal Headwear 

This wedding season brides are taking a step away from tradition by opting for headwear other than a long white veil. If you’re up for trying something a little unconventional check out my favorite wedding veil alternatives below: crowns and flower halos, both perfect for a summertime fairytale wedding.

Crowns

An actual crown is the latest trend in bridal headwear, and a chic alternative to a traditional veil or a tiara (which really only works if you’re Kate Middleton). While this look may not work for every bride, it’s a sure way to set yourself apart from the rest.

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Floral Headpieces

Floral headpieces are no longer just for the flower girl anymore. These whimsical and bohemian floral halos are a versatile alternative and can be worn with an array of hairstyles: wavy curls, a braid or a simple updo.

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Timeless & Trendy Beach Wedding Inspiration

As we approach August, (it feels like just yesterday we were freezing, doesn’t it?) I wanted to take a moment to look at these beautiful and unique beach wedding trends.

Whether you decide to get married on a secluded beach in the Hamptons or on a private island in the South Sea, these looks are sure to inspire a memorable summer celebration.

Anklets

Just because you’re getting married at the beach and opt to go barefoot, doesn’t mean you cant accessorize! These anklets and a pretty pedicure will do just fine as a substitute for heels.

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Shell Bouquets

Shell bouquets are are a fun non-floral option for a wedding on the water, which can be easily customized to match any color scheme.

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Escort Cards

Escort cards are one of the first things your guests will see when they arrive at your reception. So be sure to select a unique card, like these lovely sand dollars below.

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Lounge Areas

Beach receptions allow you to create inviting spaces with couches, hammocks, canopies and lounge chairs to give guests a chance to relax and wiggle their toes in the sand.

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Invitations

I love this passport invitation. It’s a sure way to get your guests excited for the big day!

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Ron Ben-Israel Master of Cakes for Events and Weddings

Ron Ben-Israel with one of his creations

Ron Ben-Israel with one of his creations

Ron Ben-Israel is truly a master of his medium: cake. Some might say (understandably) that his creations are too beautiful to eat, but they’d be missing out, because this dancer-turned-pastry virtuoso creates cakes as delectable as they are visually stunning. Declared the “Manolo Blahnik of wedding cakes” by The New York Times, Ben-Israel is known for his shop’s breathtaking and sculptural sugar flowers. Ron was recently featured in the paper of record, which captured him shipping an oversized commission to Palm Beach, Florida.

When he’s not crafting the perfect custom cake for a client’s special occasion, he’s training the next generation of confectioners as Guest Master Pastry Chef at the International Culinary Center in New York, or donating his time and efforts as a member of the non-profit City Harvest’s Food Council. You’ll also find him hosting his sugar smackdown show, “Sweet Genius,” on the Food Network.

Clearly, he’s busy. But Ron was generous enough to chat with me about his work, his influences, trends in weddings today, and so much more. Enjoy!

When did you realize you wanted to be a pastry chef? And what did you do about it?

Honestly, I didn’t. I never made a conscious decision. I was always involved in baking and pastry. I started in my mother’s kitchen and I was always fascinated by the process. I loved watching. My first passion was Jell-O; it was miraculous to me…My mother is from Vienna and a lot of our family and friends are from Hungary, Germany, Eastern Europe, and they all used to make those amazing tortes and cakes. But I didn’t pursue it; I went to art school then I became a dancer. But over the years I always made cakes and people where so excited and said to me, “Could we hire you to do that?”

Whose work has had an influence on you?

When people started asking me [to make cakes for them] I realized I needed to put some thought and direction into it so I sought a mentor. I didn’t go to pastry school but I found a wonderful woman named Betty Von Norstrand. She teaches at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and I met her in a cake shop when I went to buy some cake pans. I started taking classes with her in a little shop in New York and later I would travel and study with her privately. [We would] discuss all the possibilities and the history of decorating cakes. It happened very organically.

One of my other mentors was Rose Levy Beranbaum…I never thought of making cakes as a profession partially because the cakes I would eat at catering events and weddings tasted so vile. It’s a little bit better now but there was conflict between “pastry chefs” and “cake decorators.”…So-called “cake decorators” would make cakes that were practically hard on the outside, that would sit at room temperature and were not edible at all. Meanwhile, you had [pastry chef] people who made good cakes, but those had to be refrigerated and didn’t have all the decorations. There was a big conflict between them and I to accomplish in my cake [both] the inside — the flavor — and the look. So the person who influenced me a lot [in that respect] was Rose Levy Beranbaum, who wrote a few best sellers, among them is The Cake Bible…I had Betty [influencing me] on the decorating side and my work was really to put together those two worlds.

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How do you know when a project is a success?

Because I am an artisan, I do work for hire. It’s not like an artist who decides to make something — it’s a different process. I serve a purpose. I am a servant in a way, and I humbly accept the title, so the success is the client being happy. Ultimately it’s about the celebration. It’s also a relief because my work is not hung in a museum; it’s not designed to reflect my inner soul… I also work in a community. All the venders that work on an event — the florists, the people who bring the tables and chairs, the lighting, the fashion, the other food — all these are part of what you would call a “good event.” I realise that I am part of a bigger whole and it’s not all about me. People have suggested that I should sign the cakes or have a logo on them. I want the style to speak for itself.

How long does it take to make one of your cakes?

It’s an interesting question because on the one hand, we have to complete everything within 24 hours for a cake to be fresh and delivered on time and so forth, and we are working to deadlines that come one after the other, so there is no way for us to make a cake too long in advance. But on the other hand, it takes a long time. For instance, the process really starts when we meet the client and we start to discuss the initial project, that happens a month in advance, sometimes it’s years.

When we start the design process there may be sketches back and forth, a process which I call “collecting the evidence.” We will get swatches of the lace and the beading from the dress designer. I will speak to the floral person. [We may look at] textures of the furniture, invitations, stationery, any special lighting. We recently did a wedding cake which was inspired by the streams of light over the dance floor…Once we have all that we also internally have to work on scheduling and figure out how to do it…A lot of the stuff can be made in advance because it’s not that perishable. All the cakes have an internal architectural structure that we can start working on: cutting boards, shaping cake stands. In the confectionary room we can start making flowers, leaves, decorations, ribbons, and bows — things that will last for months and actually take a long time to shape — which then allows us to approach the baking and assembling of the cake while it’s still fresh.

How big is your staff? Does it expand and contract according to the seasonal work?

I wish. But because the staff is so valuable, it really takes years to develop. We have eight people including me right now. Everybody went to pastry school. After school they come to me as interns and the internship can last between three to five months. If they do well as an intern and there’s an opening then they will be hired and work their way up.

What does it take for someone to have the stuff to work in your shop? What do you look for?

It has a lot to do with personality…When [applicants] send in their resume they go on about their passion. The requirement is much simpler: we need to see if the person really wants to learn and has the ability to do that and to adapt. So amazingly enough, the people who work best have no previous background. We’ve found that people who were athletes are really good in the kitchen. People who were dancers or performers, because they have the natural ability and need to rehearse and do things again and again. People who look for perfection…You can’t be so cocky that you would drop a cake because of over-confidence, but you can’t be so scared that you will never attempt to lift it. So it’s really about personality and of course talent…Sometimes you have talented people who can maybe draw but they’re not necessarily going to have a sense of urgency which is required [when working] with perishable media like cake…The reality is in order to get to the fun part — which is decorating the cake — there’s so much more going on and it’s very hard to get there by yourself.

What are some of the biggest challenges in your field now and what are some of the most exciting developments?

You can buy so many different tools online now and there are so many companies that produce tools that make cake design more accessible. I want to say it’s wonderful and it is, but on the other hand it’s less challenging…Everybody can make the same work at home, but that’s what happens — it all looks the same because people are not making their own tools…That’s a big pitfall. It’s wonderful that the industry is developing but you see a lot of copycats…Even when I find a recipe in a book I still work and develop it to make it my own; I won’t just keep repeating the same recipe…But there is a strong tendency with Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram to just see something and then do it exactly the same way.

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What are some of the big trends you’re seeing in cakes now?

Our trends are organically grown in collaboration with all the other vendors. For instance…a few years ago Vera Wang did a wedding dress that had a black satin ribbon around the waist of the bride. It was a big scandal on the runway to see a bride with black but it was the hottest thing, so we started doing cakes with trims of black and they were very successful. Then I had one bride [who asked us] to do her cake in black icing with white details. The wedding was in the Gramercy Park Hotel and the dance floor there is all black and white and it was the perfect setting for the cake. So now doing cakes in black is almost a signature for us. They’re still very delicate and very bridal, they just have a strong contrast.

Then last season I started working a lot with grey…I started seeing bridal dresses that are grey, more and more grooms were wearing grey suits…It’s definitely a trend.

Swiss dots never go away — that’s little dots on a grid — but usually it gives you a very cute feeling, like an apron. But if we are doing the wedding in a very contemporary location such as the Mandarin Oriental, I would suggest we increase the size of the dots to be like buttons, and then the whole thing becomes super contemporary.

The past couple of years: metallics. The movie The Great Gatsby was a great example, so everybody had more metallics in the decor, in the outfits, and definitely in the stationery and registry, so that was a natural thing to bring to the cake.

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How has reality TV impacted what you do?

I think it helps tremendously…People realise that it takes a lot to make a cake. I’m very happy about that….It gives people a glimpse into our industry. Some of my colleagues believe that maybe those shows make people believe things are easy but I don’t see it like that. I think it exposes the drama.

Scroll down to see more of Ron’s amazing work, and check back here soon for Part Two of my interview him!

Ron-Ben-Israel-Cakes-4-blog Ron-Ben-Israel-Cakes-14-blogRon-Ben-Israel-Cakes-9blogRon-Ben-Israel-Cakes-11blogRon-Ben-Israel-Cakes-13blogAll photos courtesy of Ron Ben-Israel Cakes

Matthew David Celebrations Launches New Studio

360 design office party, Tuesday, May 6, 2014Exciting news here at Matthew David Celebrations! We’ve moved into our new studio space at 237 W. 37th Street and couldn’t be happier. After a year of searching, designing, and building, it feels great to be settled in!

We celebrated the occasion — and the arrival of warm weather to New York! — with an open house.

Clients, partners, and friends came out on a gorgeous spring night and enjoyed delicious bites and refreshing custom cocktails by Sonnier & Castle; our friends at Luxe Event Rentals and Décor provided chic seating and additional furnishings for the soireé

Another reason that we’re so excited about our new home is that we share the floor with bespoke evening and bridalwear studio Guillermo Couture. Our vision is to be the ultimate full-service private event studio, offering personalized and one-of-a-kind design and planning, from the perfect, customized dress to exceptional, unforgettable décor. In other words: we’re a one-stop shop that makes creating the perfect event unbelievably effortless!

360 design office party, Tuesday, May 6, 2014 Guillermo Molina and Matthew David Hopkins: We created our studios on the same floor – with shared reception and conference rooms.

360 design office party, Tuesday, May 6, 2014Luxe Event Rentals carries a gorgeous inventory and they graciously partnered with us for the evening.

360 design office party, Tuesday, May 6, 2014Anthony Latorella, Tiffany Green, Susan Schroeder & Karla Crespo, part of the Matthew David Celebrations Events Team.

360 design office party, Tuesday, May 6, 2014Douglas Hood, part of the Matthew David Celebrations team chatting with guests.

360 design office party, Tuesday, May 6, 2014Sonnier and Castle showcased their stylish and delicious savory canapés and Spring themed spirits.360 design office party, Tuesday, May 6, 2014 360 design office party, Tuesday, May 6, 2014 360 design office party, Tuesday, May 6, 2014

360 design office party, Tuesday, May 6, 2014 Cocktails ready to go on our signature video trays with embedded iPads.

360 design office party, Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Special thanks to:

LuxeEventBLK

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Shine On! Metallic Wedding Decor and Accents

Metallics are having a moment. These shiny accents are popping up in fashion, home décor, and yes, wedding celebrations. Special occasions and metallics are made for each other — there’s something intrinsically festive about all things shiny and sparkling. 

Metallic elements can be big and bold, or sophisticated and subtle, it just depends on how you use them. Here are a few ways to incorporate metallic pieces into your special day, whether you’re a romantic rose gold, suave silver, or captivating copper kind of bride. 

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Luxury Destination Wedding Ideas: Scottsdale, Arizona

Destination weddings deliver a special kind of magic. The combination of close friends and family, a remarkable setting, and a personal ceremony and celebration make for an unforgettable experience. They’re kind of like the adult version of the best slumber party ever, with sleeping bags swapped out for queen size beds and an expertly mixed cocktail in place of Diet Coke.  

If the idea of a destination wedding appeals to you, the big question, of course, is where to hold your event. I’ll be considering some of my favorite destination wedding locales here on the blog, complete with decor ideas inspired by the setting, and thoughts on what you and your guests can do in the days before or after the matrimonial main event.

Scottsdale, Arizona

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image via sedonabride.com

A southwest wedding can strike many moods, from sophisticated and spare to relaxed and down-home. I’m thinking of the beauty of the desert landscape and red rock formations (the perfect foil for a white wedding dress); willowy grasses, cacti and succulents, as well as the rich Native American and western ranch culture of the region.

For an unforgettable and elegant rehearsal dinner, consider Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, the famed architect’s winter home and apprentice training facility. Set within the McDowell Mountain range, the collection of Prairie-style buildings is surrounded by plantings of native species and offers a stunning view of Paradise Valley below. It’s Southwest sophistication at its best.

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If you’re looking to create a more rambunctious celebration before the big day, I recommend the Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse in nearby Cave Creek, AZ. The western-themed venue offers a full menu of hearty barbecue and comfort food fare, as well as live music, dancing, and bull riding. (Yes, bull-riding.)

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When I designed this private event celebrating the region’s Native American tribes, the decor directly reflected the evening’s theme. An over-sized tipi served as the venue, with projections of Native American symbols decorating the walls. A carefully designed “view” of a clear night sky filled with the moon and stars was visible when guests looked up.

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The Phoenician Resort is a wonderful choice for a ceremony, as well as accommodations. The property offers several locations for hosting weddings, from ballrooms to lush gardens with mountain views.

There’s nothing quite like The Canyon Suites at the Phoenician, a boutique hotel located within the resort. In addition to luxury accommodations and personalized service, guests also enjoy a private infinity pool the resort’s world-famous golf course. Other diversions include a daily wine tasting, The Phoenician’s $25 million art collection, and a menu of treatments at the property’s Centre For Well-Being Spa.

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Beyond the resort, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is home to a permanent public art piece by James Turrell, and Fashion Square  is a fun stop for those wanting to engage in a little retail therapy. 

Do you know of a Scottsdale area gem I missed? I’d love to hear about it!

7 Inspiring Table Décor Ideas From DIFFA’s Dining By Design

The Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, or DIFFA, which supports organizations working on prevention, treatment and education in the fight against HIV/AIDS, recently hosted its 17th annual Dining By Design event. Held in conjunction with the Architectural Digest Home Design Show for the sixth consecutive year, the fundraiser celebrates three-dimensional dining installations created by both internationally celebrated designers, and promising local talent. Every year produces a new crop of inspiring tableaus and design ideas, each one wildly different from the next. (And yes, people actually dine in these unique environments, at the organization’s Gala Dinner.)

While of course I feel that designing a large-scale celebration is best left to the professionals (most importantly, so the host can relax and enjoy!), I think there are many ideas at DIFFA to appreciate and even borrow for your next intimate gathering.

Here are few of my favorite tables at DIFFA’s 2014 Dining By Design. Did you have a favorite? I’d love to know which one!

Ralph Lauren Home

This romantic display from Ralph Lauren Home incorporates plenty of elements you could replicate for a spring al fresco gathering: large hurricanes with white pillar candles, cherry blossom branches in bloom, and café string lights.

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Calvin Klein Home

This table from Calvin Klein Home is pared down, natural, and so pleasing, with neutral tones, natural materials, and the fresh accent of a bright green moss “runner.”

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2Michaels for Beacon Hill

This table designed by 2Michaels for Beacon Hill has a distinct Japanese influence, thanks to elements such as the simple light fixture, abstract mountain print, dark wood stools, and bamboo enclosure.

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Marc Blackwell New York

I don’t expect you to construct a sculptural enclosure for your dining table, as Marc Blackwell New York did, but you could arrange a collection of single stemmed, monochromatic blooms in individual bottles to create a striking centerpiece.

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Arteriors

This stunning tableau from Arteriors is a wonderful mashup of an eastern sensibility and Hollywood glamour.

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Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s table is a sophisticated mix of industrial and modern in black and gold.

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Uxe Interiors + Design and Fendi Casa, Designed by Philip Gorrivan        

I love the combination of sleek black seating, proper white china, and a burst of romantic color from a central bouquet in this table by Uxe Interiors + Design and Fendi Casa, Designed by Philip Gorrivan. The walls featuring sketched architectural details and an oversized photo of a grand hallway, almost transport you to Versailles.

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7 Rustic Spring Wedding Ideas From Flowers to Décor

You don’t get much more classic than a spring wedding. There’s a reason: it’s a beautiful time of year to get married, in no small part due to the glorious floral display nature rolls out after the long winter months. One of the enduring wedding trends of late is that of rustic décor, and you’ll see it everywhere at weddings this spring. Here are some ways to interpret rustic wedding décor, from flowers to little details — and only one of them includes a mason jar.

Refined Rustic

Not all rustic décor requires weathered wood, chalkboards and wildflowers, as shown in this rehearsal dinner I designed. This is what I like to call “sophisticated rustic.” Just a few elements in the form of fresh herbs, natural wood containers, and the slightest bit of rough twine give this gathering a cozy, but still elegant feel. 

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Classic Rustic Decor

Blue mason jars? Check. Weathered wood? Check? A lovely arrangement of roses, hydrangea, miniature daisies, and heather in hues of pink, white, and ivory? Check, check, check. And it really is lovely, without being too precious.

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Rustic New York Wedding

I love to play with texture when creating pieces for rustic weddings. Some of my favorite details from this New York wedding I designed are the flower girl basket crafted from natural bark and draped with delicate greenery, the table markers made from dried grape vines and natural wood discs, and a ring bearer’s “pillow” incorporating moss, natural twine, and succulents. 

(Photography by http://www.dreamlovephotography.com)

Rustic Flower Power

Don’t think that rustic means your flowers must be gentle pastels. Here’s an example of flowers in punchy orange, chartreuse, and saturated pink from a party I designed, that would be stunning at a rustic wedding celebration. 

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An Aisle With Style

At this rustic wedding, a simple arrangement of natural sticks and flower blossoms frame the aisle.

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Rustic Signage

Here’s a mashup of two rustic décor trends that looks great: a tree slice with natural bark edge and chalkboard finish.

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Rustic Wedding Cake

The cake, and how you display it, are a great opportunity to showcase the rustic theme. I love the look of this clean and simple cake displayed on a slice of natural wood, with assorted wildflower blooms providing pretty but unfussy accents.

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Yes, it’s finally here! Happy Spring!