i have a little fun challenge for you this weekend. want to try it out? ok!

when you find yourself in the drive-through for coffee today/this weekend (you know you will, right?), ask the cashier window guy/girl if you can pay for the person’s coffee behind you (unless of course they’re stocking up for their company holiday party and buying 10 dozen donuts and coffee, etc haha). a friend of mine told me yesterday that she was getting her coffee and was surprised to find out that her coffee had been paid for by the car in front of her, with a message “merry christmas!” she was so touched by the thought that she decided to do the same for the person behind her and asked the attendant how long this had been going on. the coffee attendant replied “oh, this has been going on for the past 2 and a half hours straight!”

i mean how awesome is that? something as simple as paying for a coffee can not only make someone’s day, but can also get you in to the giving spirit right off the bat. it’s not big, but it’s something. give it a whirl this weekend and see if you can start a 2 and a half hour trend. i’m off to do that this very minute :)

have a great weekend everyone!

{all images by marianne wilson photography}

i just returned from 4 days of engaging with the best of the best in the wedding world and my brain is on overdrive with ideas, new thoughts, and inspiration. i promise to fill you in on my experience soon, when my head is ready to put my thoughts in to words (read about my first engage here), but in the meantime, just got some photos back from n+c’s october wedding in wine country and wanted to share with you. i just loved working with this couple, and how n said “just do your thing”. there are few better words that can be spoken to a designer, don’t you agree? here are just a few sneaks. i’ll share everything (including centerpieces) soon!

and some bout action:

hope you are all doing well - see you back here soon with lots more :)

{all images (c) julie song}

or maybe i should call this “reason 4,563,692 why i love julie song ink!”

julie song is an amazing designer based here in the bay area who i am so excited to be working with on several weddings next year. i love her work so much that i wanted to see if she could do my LLD holiday cards this year. i asked her to do her thing and come up with something that’s LLD, but also reflects her whimsical style. oh, and i asked for some gold. do you see the magic she created above?? she nailed it. and when i posted a sneak on instagram, everyone was asking where they could get some cards too… so julie designed some more for you guys!

aren’t they amazing?? head on over to julie’s etsy shop to see them all, and enter LLDHOLIDAY10 at checkout for 10% off :)

isn’t holiday shopping so much more fun when you support local artists and small businesses? that’s what i thought too!

{i love this shot stacey hedman captured onsite at erika + andrew’s wedding this past october in cape cod. i was taking in the sight of the bride and groom in their infinite level of happiness (while moving the ceremony florals to the reception!)}

2012 was an amazing year full of weddings, events, shoots, and personal trials and tribulations. LLD had 15 weddings (there are so many weddings you haven’t even seen yet, so i’m excited to get to submitting away and share with you soon), a graduation/birthday, several editorial shoots + features, and a new website launch. oh, and i took a pretty big leap and left my corporate job to take on LLD full time. i learned so much this year, and wanted to share my learnings with you today. i tried to narrow down to my top 10 11, if you will. here goes:

1. the internet is a great resource for all of us. without it, many of us (in the online world) likely wouldn’t have found each other. it is a great way for me to share everything i do via my blog, facebook, twitter, pinterest and instagram. it’s a great way for me to promote my business through features. but the internet is also a place where you can find others who are similar to you. people you never knew existed. people who act and say and do so many of the very same things you do. this can be a hard thing to deal with, when you are told your entire life to “just be you/there’s only one you” and yet you come across so many others who are so very similar, it’s scary. it’s frustrating, it’s disheartening, and it’s even downright annoying sometimes. you see words put out by others that you would have said yourself, you see projects being put out by others you just recently completed as well. but rather than thinking “why is that person copying me”, you need to remember that a) those people might not even know you exist, and b) while there is only 1 you, the internet will surface those who are similar, and you just need to deal with it and move on. or call a fellow industry friend who understands, get it off your chest, but regardless, move. on. so what if someone else gives out bridal bags with their company logo? so what if someone else chose to spray paint their entire garden gold for events this year? i need to remember there are so many creative people out there, with similar ideas and just because i thought of it, doesn’t always mean it’s original and the more time i spend wasted on worrying about trivial things like that, the less time i have to focus on the important matters at hand.

2. saying no is a hard thing to do, but once you master the craft, your work/life balance improves immediately. 2011 and 2012 were my years of yes. 2013 is my year of no. my year of no means a saturday morning here and there at the farmers market with my husband vs. back to back to back to back weddings all summer. it means partnering with amazing vendors and awesome clients who totally appreciate and understand how i work and what i do, and a shared mutual respect from me to them and them to me. it means not jumping at the gun for every opportunity that comes my way and instead, weighing the pros and cons before responding for each and every one.

3. while i may be able to find a four leaf clover on command, i do not believe in luck. not one single bit. i believe in right place, right time, but when it comes to work and my business? there’s no luck involved. there’s a hell of a lot of hard work that goes in to producing “luck”, and when people make comments saying “lucky” it kind of drives me crazy because it feels like there’s a hint of bitterness associated with it. that, or i might just be hypersensitive :). i’ll keep finding the 4-leaf clovers but i won’t give up the work ethic that’s gotten me this far!

4. finding amazing vendors to partner with makes me so happy. i have a few of my absolute faves who i am blessed to be working with this year and next - people who understand me and my creative process, people who appreciate that, and people who’s work i just adore. as i’ve said time and time again, this is a craaaazy industry and unfortunately, not all people have the best of intentions. when you find the ones that are a fit for you, who you can pour your heart out to (and who can do the same to you), it is such a blessing. really. and discovering new vendors who i haven’t worked with yet, but who i click with immediately? that’s just the best. really, it’s my clients who benefit in the long run, with an A-team who gets along and works hard towards the ultimate goal of a flawless (and pretty) event.

5. remember the meaning behind every wedding. this is a commitment of love and honor and a sacred event not only to witness, but to plan, style + floralize (new word, ok?). i need to step back from the lovely little details once in a while and remember what this event means to each and every client. i need to take that feeling and apply it to my own marriage. this is the most important date in my couple’s lives, and though the pretty gold spray-painted pineapple will definitely add some flair, it’s about more than that. remember this.

6. allow time to breathe and be ok with doing so. simple as that.

7. fall in love with my job over and over again. take that rush i get from showing my couple the venue all set up for the first time, or delivering the bridal bouquet to my special recipient, and remember that feeling every time i feel a bit overwhelmed or disheartened. remember why i left my corporate job to blaze a trail on my own. these feelings and memories and thoughts will keep me on the right path even on the rainiest of days. oh, and working with a dog by your side can turn that frown upside down in a heartbeat. :)

8. aim to inspire and delight in everything i do. sometimes you have a bad day. we all do. but the world doesn’t need to know that. instead, inspire others by keeping your head high. always aim to evoke a feeling of delight from all of my clients, whether it’s through my LLD bride bag filled with planning surprises and favorite items from etsy vendors, or walking through a site visit and pointing out ideas of placement for decor, sending along a design plan for review filled with colors, ideas, and inspiration, or answering emails promptly with plenty of enthusiasm and exclamation marks :) treat each interaction with existing clients, potential clients, and vendors as a special opportunity to inspire and delight.

9. be grateful every day and don’t take a single thing for granted - health, happiness, and peace are things we should count as our blessings, not permanent fixtures in our daily life.

10. “i did it my way” - frank sinatra. my way might not be the right way for others, but it’s my way. use the resources all over the web and take them all with a grain of salt. attend the wedding conferences (if any) that make the most sense for me, and will offer me the most ROI. go in there like a sponge and take it all in, but allow myself time to digest all the information and do it my way. my clients aren’t paying me to do it like someone else. remember that.

11. make time for the people and things that count. shut down the computer when i say i will, and go watch the end of the baseball game i could care less about to be with my husband. make date nights happen, even if it’s just thai takeout eaten out of boxes on a blanket in our living room. leave the iphone at home when i go out with family + friends. they’re all there, i don’t need to be plugged in. and the world doesn’t have to see every single thing i do on instagram to prove i actually exist. actions prove that, not pressing a “like” heart :)

with only 1-2 openings left for new clients, 2013 is shaping up to be a busy and exciting year, one that i can hardly wait to start. and i can only imagine the things i will learn and take away in this next 12 months. anyone have anything to add that you took away from this year? are you as excited for the holidays as i am? bring it on 2013, we’re ready for you!

tis the season! it’s been busy over here but for good reason - family QT! we had an amazing time back east for thanksgiving and i shut down the computer for almost an entire week, can you believe it? neither could pat! well, we’re back in SF now prepping for the holidays which means a few garland deliveries and putting my holiday packages + cards together to be sent this week. you guys - i cannot wait to show you the holiday cards julie song designed for LLD. i just about fell off my chair when i opened the box and saw that pretty golden foil letterpress peeking back at me from inside. i’ll share those with you next week, for sure! in the meantime, hope you are all taking time to unwind during this very busy holiday season - see you back here next week :)

{painting by norman rockwell}

well we made it! after a redeye flight from san francisco to boston, then driving from boston to hartford to guilford - we made it back east! we haven’t been home for thanksgiving in a few years and i gotta tell ya - nothing compares to thanksgiving at home. know what i mean? especially in new england, where the temperatures are dropping and the trees are bare - it just feels like the season!! we also have a wedding and bridal shower to attend this coming weekend, so things are extra fun at the moment :)

LLD is closing shop for the week as i’ll be paying visits to friends + family and spending QT away from the computer, so from my family to yours, have a wonderful, healthy and happy thanksgiving! see you back here next week :)

besides the “how did you get in to this industry email” or new client inquiries, the most frequently asked question is “where did you find that {insert detail here}?” today i wanted to give you a quick snapshot of a few of the details i get asked about most:

1. berry baskets :: i’ve used these babies for floral arrangements, favor boxes and gift packaging. i am a HUGE fan of berry baskets for decor, and get mine at shop sweet lulu.

2. tea towel napkins :: one of my absolute favorite details for weddings, these pretty, simple, natural napkins just bring such an organic feel to your overall event, and are a less expensive option to renting. of course, you will have hundreds of napkins left over from your wedding, but i’ve used these for dinner parties galore, gift wrapping, and shoots along with weddings, and they never get old to me. i get all of mine at hunt textiles.

3. glitter baker’s twine :: you can’t go wrong with a bit of glimmer, even in the most natural of settings. this pretty baker’s twine adds just the right amount of sparkle to place settings, gifts, and little details. my go-to spot for sparkly bakers twine is knot & bow (they also have about a million other details i’m in love with, too!)

4. gold spray paint :: this year’s biggest theme? spray it gold. when in doubt, just spray it gold :) my trusty paint of choice is usually krylon metallic - i’ve used it on pumpkins, picture frames, pineapples, tiny plastic animals, gelato spoons, pears… you name it, i’ve sprayed it. you can get this at most art stores and of course your neighborhood hardware store ;).

5. gold glitter belt :: you guys. get it now. just get it now, ok? j.crew just brought back their gold glitter belt and no joke, i bought another one even though i already have one because there’s always a chance i might lose mine. it’s my favorite go-to accessory for any outfit. it adds just the right amount of subtle sparkle to party dresses, skirts, and even shirts. just get it. it’s $35 well spent. *and no, j.crew isn’t paying me to say this. i wish!

6. oxford bow flats :: you don’t have to get the white ones with coral laces, but i happen to love mine. they also come in all kinds of colors and i’m pretty obsessed with them. you can snag a pair from nordstroms online.

7. tulle party skirt by alexandra grecco :: might be my favorite purchase of the year. i will be rocking this baby with plaid, sparkle, chambray, and maybe even a tank top under a cute little cashmere sweater. who knows. pat may think i look like a fairy godmother but i happen to love the thing. i haven’t bought new clothes in months so i had no qualms over getting something fun, different, and a little bit of a splurge for the holiday season. i got mine at anthropologie.

have any fun finds you’d like to share? let me know! :)

{sugarboo designs. i dare you to spend less than 5 minutes on her site. she’s amazing!}

 have a great week, everyone :)

{then there was the day i spray painted a pineapple gold. yes, it’s real. it was kind of awesome}

“babe, i think you’re going overboard”, said pat.  ”what makes you say that?”, i asked, surprised by his remark as i looked up at him from my spot on the floor in my office, surrounded by glitter paper and my embossing heat gun as i embossed 14 custom menus for our sunday supper with friends, and applied glitter paper to the back of cheese labels for the cheese plate. me - overboard? never always. :)

with wedding season over for the year, i still have a few projects coming up but things have definitely slowed down a bit. but the eternal planner in me is always looking forward to the next event - whether it’s dinner with friends, a road trip, or 2013 wedding prep - so a few weekends back we decided to host a get together with some of our friends from the area, to celebrate the end of one season and the beginning of another, and toast to kindred spirits. i guess i did go a little overboard, but the freedom to plan my own party got the best of me and i wanted to show our friends how much we truly appreciate them, through a pretty but comfortable tablescape, homemade food, and good conversations {oh, and plenty of champagne, of course}. if there’s one thing i’m a stickler for it is serving good champagne. life is too short to serve andre at a party, unless that party happens to be a 9am pregame party in your college years. that’s the only time when it’s kind-of ok to serve andre. but i’m getting away from the post now and talking about champagne….

so anyways - we had 6 couples over for a sunday dinner. i set up 2 8′ tables in our front “patio/yard” area and hung cafe lights to create a warm ambiance. the tablescape was relaxed and super easy to replicate - here’s how you can achieve something similar on your own :)

{instagram shot, obvi}

1 :: cinnamon stick place cards :: i tied golden bakers twine around a single cinnamon stick, with a place card i printed with each guest’s name in my new favorite font. by pre-placing name cards for guests, it takes the awkward “where should we sit?” question out of the equation, but does add a little more prep work in the beginning. i tried to spread the group out evenly so no one felt like they were in exile away from their closest friends, and the conversation and laughter was constant from all angles of the dinner table. the cinnamon sticks were used as stirrers in the homemade apple cider that came later in the evening. so yummy (and the house smelled awesome!) the place cards set the tone for the fall theme i was going for, and were place on top of tea towel napkins, folded and filled with the before-mentioned menus.

2 :: golden coasters :: i had a ton of extra coasters lying around and thought they could make for a perfect pop of gold if i sprayed them and added them to the tablescape. they were super easy to do - and of course i had a ton of leftover gold spraypaint lying around from this year’s gilded weddings - all i did was put down a sheet of cardboard, and sprayed each side of the coaster, leaving about 10 minutes in between each side to let them dry. super easy and super cute.

3 :: kraft paper runner :: this was a total “whoa i have this lying around in my craft closet?” score. i didn’t even realize i had some but as i was cleaning up from the wedding season, it emerged from the shadows, just in time. i used simple white tablecloths and added double-sided table to the bottom of the kraft paper, asked pat to hold one side while i ran it across the entire length of the table, and cut the other end. it added just the right amount of natural color to the tablescape and provided a space for the decor items in the middle.

4 :: golden pineapple :: this heavy fruit is the symbol of hospitality and was my latest canvas for the gold spray paint. i loved how they came out, though, and two of our guests took them home as the “prizes”. it was pretty funny actually - everyone was like, is that a real pineapple? i’m totally going to spray a few more and put them on our mantle or on our doorstep for the holiday season. i also added a few artichokes and lots of tealights to keep things natural and not too overdressed.

{i totally snagged this from edyta’s instagram}

{see, we didn’t even take any professional pics! i love that the only documentation was via instagram}

as our guests headed out for the evening, i handed them each a little treat - a little berry basket with a few muffins to enjoy for breakfast the next day (or on the way home as a few guests did haha). it was a fun surprise for everyone and i was thinking it could be a really cute wedding or shower favor idea, especially for fall/winter weddings to add to the cozy atmosphere.

all in all it was just a nice night, know what i mean? i was talking to one of the guests the next day and we agreed it was nice to not have it be a “shoot” for once. we could just enjoy the company, eat the food and be ourselves without having to “retake” a shot of someone putting down a place card or eating a bite or laughing. not too fussy, maybe a little overboard (hehe), but overall it was just a real, authentic, good time with great company. with all the craziness in the world, nights like these are what bring me back to reality and remind me of what life is truly all about. thanks to everyone who joined us!

{photo (c) minted, tablescape design by jessica of lovely little details}

we’ve been busy bees over here between the wedding season coming to an end and a few extra projects here and there, like the west elm palo alto launch party a few weeks ago, an upcoming collaboration with the dry bar (more info soon!), and in between it all, a holiday decor shoot we were thrilled to design for minted’s new holiday line that just launched! see the tablescape above? yep, LLD was behind the design, from selecting all the sweet treat vendors (thank you again sweet lauren cakes and sift bakery for saying “yes” to joining the fun!), to pretty placement of all the lovely little details (huge thanks to jessica for stepping in for the day-of installation!).

i love love love love love weddings but it’s also fun to partner with such amazing companies to help with prop styling, florals, and photo shoot design. take a look at all the festive holiday goodies minted recently released, just in time for the season! thanks again for involving LLD in this fun shoot!

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