Welcome to the Bella Signature Design Blog!

We are so happy that you came to visit our blog! Bella Signature Design focuses on creating a custom, stylish event that is highly personal, with details that synergistically come together to create an atmosphere that is a direct reflection of you. My passion, as a designer, is to infuse your event with all the little things that speak to who you are, and to share that with your guests in a stylish, unexpected way. Our blog will be changing in the next few weeks to reflect our vision and our passion, so hang on for the ride and enjoy!

Feel free to peruse the posts, look in our archives for some great advice and be sure to leave comments on what you like. We love hearing from you!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bella Signature Design featured in Seattle Bride Magazine~

Seattle Bride Magazine has always been a fabulous read for Seattle Brides, but I love even more how much the visuals have evolved over the years. Although always stunning, they have become more fashion forward over the last few years. We were excited to be invited in this issue's feature, which was described to us as "Elegant Decay" - edgy, fashion-forward florals to go with a stunning model and fabulous setting!
We picked a few different designs - the one pictures above was a super edgy black and chartreuse bouquet that featured calla lillies, "green success ranunculus", spider mums, Celosia, fern curls, brasilia berries, kangaroo paw and hanging amaranthus, as well as feathery Eucalyptus. The Photographer Jim Henkens did a fabulous job with the photography, his images are clearly better than mine! (below)

One thing I have learned over the years about doing magazine photoshoots - be prepared to lose control over your designs! This particular design was meant to be held down, cascading, towards a brides feet, very casual - as in, "I'm so edgy I don't even care about my bouquet" ;) but the image with the bride holding it upright was chosen - gorgeous picture, even if the bouquet is upside down! The composition of the photo above totally works.

The bouquet (shot by me - a photographer, I'm not!) cascading down...

Details of the "Green Success" Ranunculus - (love this flower!), fern curls and kangaroo paw.

Details of the Ribbon treatment
The photoshoot involves so many things, from the great make-up and hair artists, the gown designers, the stylists, the setting, photographer, the lighting, and of course the designers.
At the last minute I made an extra bouquet just because I saw the most gorgeous magnolia blossoms on a tree - alas, there were already too many bouquets to shoot at the photoshoot, but the stylists ended up using the blooms in the model's hair - perfection, no?

The Magnolia Bouquet

As a floral designer, we have to buy in bulk. So even in a floral shoot where we may only have 5 flowers of one kind, two of another, etc, we have purchased bunches of all of them! (The glorious editorials are totally worth the cost!) So, when I had extra flowers for this shoot, I made a beautiful centerpiece - ironic, since Bella Signature Design is mostly known for 'lush modern' work - but we can do romantic garden too! ;)

This would look fabulous at Jessica and John's August 1st wedding this summer! This fabulous romantic garden wedding in a tent by a pond will be stunning - I can't wait!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Paper lovers, unite!

What happens when four fabulous paper companies combine their loot and overstock?? Paperlooza!
As Real Card Studio says on their site:

"For paper-philes in Seattle (and Portland, Everett, Bainbridge Island, anywhere within road-trip distance), your paper dreams are coming true! Four local stationery and invitation designers, Brown Sugar Design, Ephemera Custom Letterpress, mmm... paper and Real Card Studio, are banding together to unload all of their fantastic and new-to-you overstock. (And we've going to do our best to not just get together and trade goodies, hard as that will be to resist!) We've been stockpiling beautiful paper and envelopes for years, and it is time to part with some of it. This is the real deal. Amazing prices on incredible designer paper goods."

These companies have some serious paper - I can't wait!



Thursday, July 2, 2009

Definition of a Wedding Designer

As a wedding designer, I was really excited to meet other wedding and event designers at the luxury wedding summit, Engage09, last week. (see engage09 recap 1 and Engage09 Recap 2). Not only because most of them were warm, fabulous and inspiring, but just to be at a place where people 'get' what I do everyday! In Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and even Florida, "Wedding Designer" is a familiar term. There are wedding coordinators, wedding planners, wedding designers, florists and rental companies. There is some overlap at times between some of these, but for the most part, these titles or designations explain what their roles comprise of for a wedding. Even in Italy and Germany where I grew up, the idea of a designer for an event is commonplace. In Seattle, however this term is not used much, most likely because there aren't many people doing it!

Often when I try to explain what I do, I still get "so are you a florist or a planner?" After a great chat with Michelle Loretta (who is originally from L.A.) from Mmm...Paper and SageweddingPros, I realized that since Seattle is a different market it just takes someone to explain the difference - so here goes!

On-site Venue Coordinator: This is a person paid by your venue (mostly at hotels, or other high volume wedding venues) to oversee the wedding from the venue's perspective. They can be very helpful in putting out programs or escort cards (about 50% offer these services), and in discussing ahead of time what the lay-out will be or how long it will take from Salad to Main Entree. Their main job, however, is to make sure the venue's rules are followed, and that the couple is happy within the venue's guidelines. They can be helpful as a contact at the venue, but don't expect them to lay-out your favors exactly the way you want or to help you pick a color scheme, as they also have to coordinate the staffing for that day, show potential clients the venue (yes, usually during the set-up of you wedding) and make sure guests needs are met. They often are in charge of several weddings per day.

Wedding Coordinator: A wedding "Day of" or "Month of" Coordinator typically gets involved within a month to a week before the wedding, and is there to confirm the vendors and guide the couple through their wedding day, putting out any fires and troubleshooting issues on the spot. I find a Coordinator indispensable for a stress-less wedding! I can not tell you how many things have gone wrong at weddings that the bride and groom never knew about because those issues were secretly and quickly taken care of by a good wedding coordinator. As ElizabethAnne Designs pointed out on their blog post on the same subject matter (I just saw that they posted about this subject a while back as well!), some Coordinators are also Planners, ie, they have higher level packages beyond just Coordination. Almost all planners also coordinate your wedding day, but some coordinators have not yet worked themselves up to planning the entire wedding.

Wedding Planner/Consultant: I find these two terms almost interchangeable, although some consultants can be hired on an hourly basis to consult with, whereas planners typically offer only full packages. A wedding planner is there to guide a couple through the process of planning their wedding - from venue selection, matching up of vendors to the couple's style and budget, managing that budget, negotiating of contracts and advising the couple throughout the planning process. Almost every Wedding Planner I know coordinates the rehearsal and wedding day as well. Most charge flat fees for the amount of hours they think they will need to spend on planning a couple weddings, while some outline how many hours or interactions with the couple their fee includes. Some still base their fees on the percentage model (a percentage of the overall budget). I've never seen this work for me, because I don't think I should earn more money just because the budget is higher (and often low budget weddings are more difficult to plan, because you have to find high quality vendors that are still affordable within those budgetary restrictions.) Most Wedding Planners do not get involved with the design on the wedding, although some love (and are great at) helping out with color scheme selection, tying in the look of favors, menus, etc. In Seattle, I've seen quite a few planners good at adding in a few fun design elements into the wedding, from candy buffets in the couple's color scheme to fabulous parasols from Bella Umbrella. A wedding planner is perfect for the bride who knows exactly how she wants every single item to look and wants to carry a lot of these items out by herself, but needs guidance on how to get the best return on her investment in terms of vendors and overall planning (when to do what and where to get it).

Event/Wedding Designer: A wedding designer creates the wedding in its entirety. They are experts at helping a couple define a point of inspiration, and designing the entire event based on it, while interweaving traditions and the character of the couple. Whenever guests leave saying "that was SO Johnny and Suzie" you can bet there was a wedding designer involved! Wedding designers usually help a couple articulate the vision for their day, and then find a way to design and produce that vision, usually in a unique and unexpected way. Wedding designers are responsible for the entire vision, so almost always create their own floral, as well as being well versed in linens, draping, lighting, and other decor items. At Bella Signature Design for example, we also offer to sit down with the cake and invitation designer to help create a complete vision from start to finish. We provide all vendors with color swatches, inspiration boards if necessary, etc, so that all vendors work as a team for the couple, versus many parts coming together at the end trying to finish the puzzle. Weddings with a designer tend to be high-style, customized weddings, and attract couples who are design-oriented (often in the design industry themselves, such as interior, graphic or fashion) or have a high appreciation, but difficulty in defining, their sense of style pr how to make that come to life.

Florist: A wedding florist may or may not have a retail shop, but the better wedding florists tend to just focus on event work (versus on walk0in retail customers). They are well versed in floral design, and many offer rentals such as Chuppahs or candles. Some of the wedding florists now also will help with table linens and small accent lighting.

Hopefully that helps all those brides confused with all the terminology. As said, some of these certainly overlap, so decide what is the best for for you in terms of your vision and your budget, and be honest with yourself with what you are buying. Be sure to read the contract carefully to see what you are paying for!