Thursday, February 26, 2015

Engagement Pictures Should Tell A Story...

Well Christmas has happened, New Years has happened, and Valentines day was a few weeks ago.  This means that we now have a bunch of couples who have just recently become engaged.  Of course, couples are creating budgets, checking schedules, looking over colors, and trying to get a handle on the big life choice to get married.  One decision is absolutely impending, and may put you in an expensive contractual agreement.  I am talking about the photographer.  Photographers will tell you that the quality of pictures is important, because after you are married, only the picture and the person you will share residence with are the only thing left after a wedding ceremony has passed.

So let's get down to it!  Your engagement shots are maybe one of the first large decisions after engagement.  If you do it right, you will ultimately find the photographer who will do the wedding...and have end up with a set of flattering pictures for all things pre-wedding.  

Most people don't think about it enough, so they take pre-determined pictures in matching shades of black and white, often times at the urge of an uncreative photographer.   In my opinion, those pictures often don't say much about the people in them.  To me, those kinds of engagement pictures lack...well...personality!

When I'm working with couples for their weddings, I often tell them to let the wedding begin with the engagement pictures by sharing pieces of their personality in those shots. Even if you aren't sure of a color scheme, there are still ways to to tailor your engagement pictures to share the story of who you are, and what friends, family, and colleagues might experience.

In my planning life, I advise couples to let their engagement shots have a point of view.  In the past, I've done a bunch of different shots. For an early morning, I had a couple take pictures intimately sharing a morning cup of coffee.  For a couple who met in college, and had planned a wedding during their homecoming, the shots featured their alma mater.  For the couple who loved church, we had to do their shots in a church.  For my wedding, we decided on a few settings but the pictures from our carousel shoot really shaped what people would experience at our reception.

A note of caution: make sure the shots aren't cheesy or inappropriate.  I've seen quite a few ridiculous shots, particularly involving sports activities.  I do believe there is a way to do sports well, so I would tell that couple to ere on the side of iconic or romantic, rather than a little league football game.  It may be appropriate not to make the pictures so very literal.  Instead of wearing jerseys of your favorite sports theme, why not use the colors in either a casual, preppy or upscale set of pictures...even if you choose to take them on the field, track, or court.

Seek to tell a story about your love creatively through the visual media.  That way, people are more likely to connect to your vision.  Too, creative visual media make it easy to be used

Share your passions, tell your story, and start with your Engagement pictures!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Black History Month Events Don't Mean Tacky Events...

I love Black History Month!  Every year, I discover something I didn't know I need to know.  Also, in my line of business, there tends to be tons of programming and events.   I love that too.  However, what I don't love is how many people plan events related to Black History.  Too often, event organizers, either throw a ton of mismatched African fabric on tables or they pull out a tried and true black table cloth.   All of this is terribly problematic because it doesn't seem to embody one of the major principles of Kwanzaa...Kuumba - Creativity!  I don't understand why people with so much "swag" would just handle Black History Month without the nuance or class it could have...and ultimately deserves.

The solution isn't to throw all the African fabric, mudcloth, kente cloth, and cowerie shells on the table.  The solution isn't to dust off the one black table cloth.  The solution is to consider who fabric shells or heritage can be a metaphor for your events.  

For me, this starts with a color scheme.  I don't abandon my good tastes because of Black History Month...I infuse them into Black History month.  So, I will often pair patterns that are similar in nature to provide for me a genuine color scheme.   One time I used peach, purple and tan to for a reception after a talk.  I based the color scheme on one of the multi colored fabrics I had at my disposal.  Rather than pulling out all of its' 'cousins,"  I chose to use simple colors that played on the rich fabric.  As you can see here, even the flowers spoke to fabric.

Another time I used Red, Black and Green.  Rather than being literal in translation.  I sometimes approach an idea by deconstructing it.
In the case of the red, black and green, I asked could I use the colors in interesting ways that would both provide a black aesthetic, but also show nuance?  I think the metaphorical X in red fabic (alluding to Malcolm X), the use of bright lime florals, and black water in vases at several sizes create the necessary elements for alluding to the Black National Flag without saying it.

In any case, when using African fabric or a common Black history month theme, seek to make the element live in a way that is artistic and unexpected.  This way, you'll never be short on ideas when it comes to literally using Black Heritage as a way to see the world...and plan events.

Besides, people of African descent have made much impact on the world culture!  Let's not reduce our people's contributions to the "one black tablecloth!"

Wrapped with a Beau,

Sean P.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Planning for a Valentine's Day Mixer...

So my wife's favorite color is pink, and when we were dating, I surprised her with an epic birthday party that I remember now.  The color scheme was classic Valentine's day colors...Pink and Red, and I used the metaphor of a high heel as the object to carry the theme across.  Needless to say, everybody loved it.  And, I think my wife loved it the most!!!!!!

As I think about Valentine's day, I'm reminded that you can have a lot of fun with these two colors, Pink and Red, without being so literal with the holiday.  So let's put up the hearts and mushy stuff...let's leave that for the kids.  And, let's take this upscale birthday party, and translate it into a great Valentine's day mixer.

First, think about the metaphor?  Do you like shoes? Dresses? Lingerie? Ties? Jewelry?  Seek to use that as the way to tell the story of the event!  Before you ask, yes, your event is a story!  It will be a story...and it ultimately will become a memory!  I used red shoes...thinking about what one might find in a women's wardrobe or house.  So I also used pink coffee books, martini glasses, shoe boxes, and bags filled with tissue paper as props!

Down to the cake cutters, I wanted to tell the story of a very girly girl who loved color (which weren't very expensive at all).  I also love when the cake you eat can go along with the color scheme.  So I had the baker make red velvet cake with pink cream cheese icing (yum)...I than stacked three cakes on varying heights of shoe boxes.

For the women who just want to mix with friends, in a season that might make you feel lonely...think about celebrating yourself and inviting friends to ditch the heart shaped cards, and enjoy the beauty of the season of love.

Celebrate the possibility of love.  Celebrate your passion.  Celebrate your friendships!

Wrapped in a Beau,
I am,


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Start With The Dream...

My wife and I are very different people, even though we share similar ideas and thoughts.  She's much more practical than I am.  For her, it always comes down to how much does it cost.  I, on the other hand, like to dream unfettered by the realities of money.  It's not that I don't think that money is important, but I don't think you should let it stop you from dreaming, even if your dreams have to be tempered by the reality of finances at a later stage. 

When we were planning our wedding, I had to stop her, and remind her that she needed to dream before she put an idea in the air.  I wanted my wife to think about what she really wanted before she began talking herself out of things before we even tried.  As the planner of our wedding, I invited her to dream with me...and then we got down to money.  Actually, any really good planner is going to tell you to dream and describe, and dream some more.  Dreaming is the greatest feeder of creativity...and creativity isn't limited by price point.  In fact, the more narrow the price point, the more you have to empower creativity.

So before you start with how much money you have in your pocket, begin with a dream or an inspiration for your event.  Ask yourself how you want to engage each sense.  Ask yourself what you want people to remember.  Ask yourself what will make you smile. 

I have had several couples walk into my office and tell me that they didn't think they could afford their wedding...but we made it happen!   We stayed in budget, we dreamed, and we worked to execute that dream.

Start there!

Never start with the amount of money in your pocket.  As a believer and minister, I'm often reminded that God can turn much water into wine.  And, God's people are capable of helping make dreams come true.

So as you begin to plan the next to dream whether or not you think it can come true.  I stand as one with a testimony of having witnessed dreams become real life.

Wrapped Up,
I am,

Sean P.