Winter Wedding Lounge

Looking back on our events, this one at Studio 450 was most definitely one of our coziest!
Studio 450 is another one of our FAVORITE loft venues.  (And you might not know – I have a soft spot for this NYC loft because I was married there a little over 12 years ago) SO many things I love about this loft space like its size, the room layouts and the fact that it has two floors and a really nice size deck.  But most of all I love its shinny whiteness (yes I think I made that word up but it perfectly describes the space)Studio 450 is on West 31st St at 9th avenuewhich I would best describe as a fairly non-descrpt (and kind of always gray) area of the West Side.  There’s usually scaffolding of some sort on one of the buildings in the vicinity.  I know I’m not ‘selling’ why this ‘great’ venue is so great very well but honest, I’m getting to my point, which is this.

There’s something wonderfully magical about going to this dingy gray part of New York City, riding up a huge metal freight sized elevator to the top floor, not knowing what in the world to expect from a party in a place like this.  Having the elevator doors open and arriving into a truly lovely, bright, spacious, glossy white venue with sunny (or sunset) views of New York City in all four directions.
What I absolutely love about this space is that its a large open white pallet.  Its urban chic.  It’s a space where you can truly create ANY type of environment.

I’ve been lucky to work in this venue dozens of times and have had the opportunity to do a lot of very creative themes.  But since I first stepped into this venue, I have ALWAYS wanted to do a cozy ‘ski lodge’ event!  I have done lots of other ‘winter’ environments but I finally got the chance to do my cozy ski lodge here at 450!


























Looking forward to a cozy New Year!!!

Cheers to your next event

xoxo Maya

Unique Wedding Venues: Hempstead House on Sands Point Preserve




If you’re looking for a truly unique and breathtaking venue for your wedding….a venue that “all your friends and family haven’t been to hundreds of times already” then Hempstead House on the Sands Point Preserve in Port Washington may be a perfect match.
Only 30 minutes out of NYC, this little know Gold Coast Estate is one of my MOST FAVORITE venues to share with clients who are looking for Unique, Private, Indoor-Outdoor option and Views of the Water.

This venue has A LOT of Pro’s:
• Its close enough to the city that busing guests is a viable (and generous) option
• Sprawling grounds make for a beautiful entrance on to the property but also for fabulous photos throughout your big day.
• A huge manicured lawn with sweeping views of the Long Island Sound give you an outdoor ceremony and or cocktail hour option but also tenting area if needed.
• Amazing architectural details.
• Gorgeous and spacious rooms for lots of different party configurations

• A wonderful staff of people on the property who make it a pleasure to work with
• The ability to bring in your chosen caterer

• A breathtaking (clean palate) which makes it a perfect foundation to create a multitude of wedding styles!

A few Cons:

The space is NOT HUGE so based on your expected guest list the smart decision may be to add a tent to your plan to make transitions from ceremony to cocktail hour to reception as smooth as possible.

There are two spaces where the dance floor makes the most sense but both have small obstacles. A sunken floor with a fountain and an area with a fireplace cutting the room in half could be obstacles or can be beautiful elements its all how you look at it.

Keep in mind, this an OLD ESTATE and while it has been updated and very well maintained by the preserve it is a historic building and so it is drafty and cool in fall and winter months and certainly can be warm in the summer. Heaters, Air Conditioners and a Generator are all definites to add into the budget. A restroom  would also be advised for outside ceremony and cocktail hour because of where the bathrooms are located inside.


All in all I cannot say enough wonderful things about this venue! Gorgeous, Vast, Elegant without being Stuffy, Traditional but Timeless.


Take a look at our photo gallery and the creative board of how we were inspired to produce our Great Gatsby Wedding at Hempstead House and keep your eyes out for our ‘Sleepy Hallow’ HALLOWEEN Wedding at Hempstead House (soon to be featured in Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine) !

Do you have a favorite “unknown” venue?!  Let me know! I’d LOVE to hear about it!

Cheers to your next event!

10 Ways to WOW your Wedding Guests!

Yes, the cake, the gown, and the centerpieces are all important, but these 10 ideas are not only super-simple — they’re also guaranteed to make your wedding rave-worthy.

1. Create a Welcome Video

Most likely you won’t be able to greet all of your out-of-town guests when they arrive, so consider arranging a virtual welcome. Talk to your videographer about creating a brief video of the two of you welcoming them to your wedding location, and provide tips for things to do in the area along with what they can expect for the rest of the weekend (or simply create your own with a digital video camera!).2. Don’t Underestimate the Welcome Bag

Another easy way to impress? Give each guest a welcome bag. Fill an inexpensive basket or canvas tote with bottles of water, a bottle of wine or locally brewed beer, something salty, something sweet, and a piece of fruit. Don’t forget to include a welcome letter (or video) as well as a detailed itinerary for where the guest needs to be and when. Leave the whole thing with the hotel concierge for the guests to pick up when they check in. And be sure to provide them with maps and lists of local restaurants, museums, and other attractions in case they want to explore on their own.

3. Keep Them Entertained — Not Overwhelmed

You don’t want to stress your guests out with too many activities, but a few entertainment options before the wedding will really show them how much thought you put into their visit. Suggest group activities like area hikes or tours for your guests to mingle and get to know each other before the main event. Lay out planned weekend activities for guests in a timeline so that everyone is in-the-know.

4. Ditch the Boring Ceremony Aisle

It’s probably the one detail of wedding planning you forgot about, but it’s also one of the simplest to take to the next level. A creative DIY runner, rustic pew arrangements in Mason jars, or even a quirky patterned rug can all dress up a plain aisle — and make a major impact on your guests.

5. Make Inventive Escort Cards

The escort card display is the first thing your guests see when they walk into your reception — so make it good. Have your calligrapher write guests’ names on pretty vintage mirrors, print names on horse show ribbons, stick the cards in cupcakes, or attach each card to a tiny can of champagne with a note that reads, “Do not open until the wedding toast.”

6. Add Music to the Transitions

Hire a bagpiper, a drum line, a gong player, or even a strolling guitar player to lead guests from one space to the next. If you’re not set on an instrument, localize it: For a tropical setting, hire someone to blow a conch shell, or in the mountains, hire an alpine horn player to announce when it’s time to move.

7. Rethink Wedding Transportation

Okay, you’re probably not going to have a parade float, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with your transportation. Your guests will gape when they walk out of your ceremony and see an awesome antique car or retro school bus waiting to pick you up! Or choose transportation that pays homage to your wedding venue, like a hayride for a country ranch wedding or even a Snowcat for a winter mountain reception.

8. Give Them A Say!

Use your RSVP cards or wedding website to let your guests have an opinion on something other than chicken or fish. Let them request a song, create Mad Lib-style return cards you can then display at the reception, or have them vote on the top-tier flavor of your wedding cake! Guests will love seeing the details that they helped choose come to life on the wedding day.

9. Serve Food You’d Want to Eat

Think about what foods make you happy — whether it be ice cream sandwiches, mac and cheese, watermelon, donuts, or tacos — and add them to the menu. One of our favorite new ideas: a potato chip bar complete with all the dips. Talk to your caterer about putting together a truly personalized (and delicious!) menu. Then watch your guests chow down.
10. Send Them Off with Breakfast 

Even if it’s not an all-out postwedding brunch, plan to give your guests a little goodbye breakfast the day after. Rent out the hotel conference room and talk to the staff about creating a breakfast buffet. Or simply arrange for bagels and coffee to be delivered to your guests’ hotel rooms before they depart.
– Justine Lorelle Blanchard – The Knot & News Channel5Special thanks to: Maya Kalman of Swank Productions in New York Cityand Kelly Karli of Frosted Pink Weddings in Colorado.

Baby’s Breath. YES Baby’s Breath

There are a few flowers that in my opinion get a really bad rap. (*more of this list to come)
Baby’s Breath is probably at the top of that list.

The poor bodega flower has built a reputation of being the “cheap filler flower”
BUT the truth is if you use ANY FLOWER (en mass) by themselves they are always breathtaking! And Baby’s Breath is no different (and to most a surprising reality!) used in the arrangements you’d get at a grocery store, bodegas and unfortunately still some flower shops. ( And because its primarily used as a way to mask the small amount of flowers they are bundled with it always makes me think of a cheap date. )

If you look at Baby’s Breath up close you’ll see it’s actually a beautiful, delicate and very romantic grouping of flowers. To me there’s something ethereal and kind of effervescent about them. They feel almost cloud like. Really perfect for a modern romantic wedding.

So the next time you see Baby’s Breath give it a closer look.  I am here to attest that Baby’s Breathe (done right) CAN be elegant, gorgeous and unforgettable!
*And Yes Baby’s Breath does have a strange (un flower like) scent however in a large open space such as this one it was completely undetectable.

Something Blue and The Ring Bearer Pillow

I’ve been a wedding planner and designer for over 10 years now and I’ve always been baffled as to why the ring pillow ALWAYS seems to have to be the same boring satin square pillow.

So in recent years I’ve made it my mission to make sure that I suggest really unique ideas for the “forgotten last minute bridal items” like the ring pillow and the something blue tradition.

Viola! These phenomenal Rose Pillows answers both problems in a simple and chic way!

While they do come in two styles ( I happen to LOVE the felt one!) they also come in different colors one of them being a GORGEOUS BLUE!

So rethink that boring Ring Pillow and opt for something that not only will make for beautiful photos but will also look SUPER SWEET in your new home as a throw pillow!


Get Kate Middleton’s Chic Wedding Style

Since news of her engagement to the prince broke, Kate Middleton’s name has been everywhere. And it’s no wonder – she’s stylish an obtainable way and that gorgeous ring is definitely worth emulating.

Kate Middleton’s white Reiss engagement dress may be sold out everywhere, but you can get the look with Temperly London’s Silk Jersey Dress ($895).

Kate’s blue Issa dress is also a sell-out piece – but you can grab your very own on eBay – you’ll look completely royal (various prices).


Don’t forget the ring. This sapphire stunner is a guaranteed home-run – and totally Kate-worthy. has all the best wedding shopping. Check out our guides to more great sapphire ringsbridal hair accessories and we’ll even help you out with your wedding invitations. 

Alice in Wonderland Invitations

Alice in Wonderland and Mad Hatter themed events have become more and more popular and here at SWANK we LOVE them!  SO many different ways to be creative and it’s a design theme that really works for ANY age group.

Right now we’re working on an AMAZING Bat Mitzvah with an Alice in Wonderland / Mad Hatter theme.  And when it comes to invitations I strongly believe that the invitation “Sets the Tone” of what guests can expect to come at the party itself. So for this client we wanted to pull out all the stops!

The invitations we created in house have been causing a HUGE stir with not only the teenagers but also the adults who have all been finding this masterpiece in their mailboxes.
They came out so cute we wanted to share them with you! (but changed the info to keep their privacy)
Guests received a large white box with customized label that went over the entire top of the box and led them down to the open side.

When they open the box and opened the beautiful deep purple tissue paper they found the mad hatters hat invitation!

On the tag is the invite information


And on the bottom of the box guests found their (double sided) RSVP card and envelope!

 We’ve been getting a lot of “OMG’s” and “these are amazing!” messages from the clients and their guests.  And the Bat Mitzvah girl is now being inundated with people who want to be invited just to see what else we’ve come up with! (which of course we LOVE to hear!)

Whats most important about the invite (in addition to all the important information being on it!) is that it creates excitement in the guest.  After all you want them to come to your event right?
So next time you’re doing an invite think out of the box – or in this case, think about what cool stuff you can do in the box!

Tell me about the best invitation you’ve ever received I’d love to hear about it!


Winter Wedding Accessories

But its warm and fuzzy in the bridal salon as you prepare for your final fitting.

So you’re having an amazing Winter Wedding. You’ve thought of everything. The veil, the rings, the jewelry, the bag, the shoes. You’re all set, right?

Well not yet. While its warm and cozy inside, it’s FREEZING outside! And on your wedding day you will inevitably have to go outside in your gown at some point. When that happens what will keep you warm? (and no, the love of your fiance will not cut it!)Make sure you plan on some sort of a jacket or wrap. Fur (faux or real) is my personal favorite. But the style and materials are really up to you. Take a look at the style of your gown, your body type and how much time you plan on being outside (are you taking photos all over the city or just going from the limo to the venue?)

Whatever you choose realize that it will be in your photos forever so you want to love it. And while white is the most common, color is also very cool! Whatever you choose Just make it your own.

AND…don’t forget to give the same advice to your mom’s, grandmothers and bridal party.

 I cant tell you how many bridesmaids I’ve seen shivering on the streets of NYC waiting to quickly rip off their every day coat to snap a few shots.

Make sure everyone is prepared and you will insure that everyone has an amazing day!

Cheers on your upcoming wedding!

Cupcake Alternatives!

I am loving these awesome alternative to the now (TOO typical) tiered cupcake display!

***Come on Brides….lets start a much needed NEW TREND!

Here are some ideas I Love:

Sprinkles Custom Cakes just introduced Cake Shooter, a push-up pop with three layers of cake and icing. The shooters are available in four flavors: Yellow Raspberry Swirl, Pina Colada, O.M.G. (a mix of raspberry swirl and chocolate buttercream icing), and the Sprinkles Signature (vanilla Bavarian cream and white icing). The label on each pop can be customized with a company logo or message for no additional charge, though a week’s notice is required They also have a super cute and interactive Sprinkles Mobile

Another cute (and local) idea is your very own Ice Cream Truck like this one we did outside of Gotham Hall in NYC.

Cake Pops are decedent little cakes on a stick that are as yummy as they are cute. Each Cake Pop is made to order so you can make it any cake flavor, any color fondant on the outside and any design detail on top!

And if you’re not into cake at all…how about Ice Pops or Shaved Ice!

Peoples Pops transforms local sustainably grown fruits and herbs into Popsicles (they do pretty awesome shaved ice too!)
What are some of your new ideas to do for dessert…. instead of the Cupcake? I’d love to hear!xoxo~Maya

Summer in the City means Weddings in the Hampton’s!

This weekend marked the beginning of summer… and in New York City the official exodus of New Yorkers out to the Hamptons! And while I love having such a beautiful vacation-land so close to home…. in my world this weekend also marked the beginning of wedding season in the Hamptons!

The Hamptons offer New York couples the ability to have a true ‘destination wedding’ while still being extremely close to home. There are beautiful beaches, quaint churches, acres of farm land, vineyards and don’t forget the magnificent mansions all available for rent for your special day! (or week if you want to really make it luxurious!) There are also a bevy of private yachts, yacht clubs, dance clubs and charming bed and breakfasts to choose from as well. Each has its own allure and offers your guests a different glimpse into the often talked about Hamptons experience!
There are so many great reasons to choose to have your destination wedding in the Hamptons.
· It makes for a great mini vacation weekend for your friends and family.
· There are great pre and post wedding activities to keep your guests busy. Shopping, Wine Tastings, Antique Shops, Biking, Water Sports….the list goes on and on!
· And when it comes to your wedding design concept, there are a ton to use as inspiration! From beachy, to shabby chic, to nautical, to rustic barn, the options go on and on!
But before you set your sites on getting married out there -there are some things to strongly consider.

· Traffic. When you try and take thousands of people in cars from a 4 lane highway gradually down to a 1 lane country what you get is TRAFFIC…a lot of traffic. As new yorkers we may be used to this concept but many of your guests will not be. So it’s really important to prep them. Make sure that you mention the length of time it may take to get out to the Hamptons on a Saturday morning (if they are not planning on staying out there the night before) Nothing makes for a grumpy guest quite like the panic they feel when they see they are going to be late for the ceremony or even worse miss it all together because they didn’t plan enough time for travel.
· Accommodations. The Hamptons is certainly not known for being “budget friendly”. So what you may think is an “affordable” option for a hotel or B&B night stay – your guests may think is a portion of their life savings. You need to know your guests and try and set their expectations or plan accordingly to make sure that everyone feels they have an option.

· Heat. You may have been dreaming about your beach wedding for months now, but make sure you consider your guests. East Coast beaches aren’t exactly like the palm tree lined beaches of the Caribbean. Rarely is there any type of coverage or shelter from the sun. So make sure that you provide sun & sand comforts in advance for your guests such as parasols, hand fans, ice water and even a shoe valet so guests don’t have to walk in the sand with their shoes!

· Transportation. While most of your guests will be driving and will have their car to get out to the Hampton (taking the train or the Jitney is also a great and convenient way to get out to there) Most party hosts worry about “getting” their guests to their event but not “leaving”. The Hamptons can be very dark and desolate at night. Lots of small winding country roads. Not the kind of place you want any of your guests driving after having partaken in your very generous open bar! The police in Suffolk County take drunk driving very seriously! So you may want to consider a bus or car service for the end of the night to help get your guests home safely.

· And last but not at all least…Noise. The biggest issue when planning a wedding in the Hamptons. While music is obviously an integral part of an amazing party, the Hampton’s are primarily residential areas. A lot of flat land and large open masses of water equals noise traveling FAR! It’s pretty amazing just how far the sound of amplified music and people having fun carries, and thus The Hamptons have instilled Noise Ordinances that are strictly adhered to. Most areas require that you substantially lower or completely shut off any amplified music by 9:30-10pm. And for most people who want to have a sunset ceremony and a late Saturday evening reception, 10pm is EARLY to be slowing the party down! And trust me, from years of experience, there’s nothing more stressful to a bride or groom than to have to deal with the police on the night of their wedding to discuss shutting the party down! Unfortunately there aren’t many ways to get around this other than to plan an early event that can wind down around that 10pm hour. One of the ways I have found to ‘pre empt’ the call from your neighbors to the police is to send a note in advance. Whenever we rent a home for our clients we usually send a hand written note (with a bottle of wine or champagne) to all of the neighbors explaining that we are having a celebration on this particular date and that while we will try and be mindful of the noise we produce, that they also please understand that this is a once in a life celebration. Inviting them to stop by for a drink and a dance is also a generous way of enticing them to celebrate with you instead of complaining about you.

All in all, the Hampton’s is an amazing place to throw an unforgettable “Destination Wedding” weekend. But like any other even, planning the details for the pit falls ahead of time is what ensures a flawless event that was enjoyed by all!

Here are some of my favorite Hampton Wedding Details!