Pineapple Crush | Summer Decor Must Have

Pineapples are a summer staple, to eat and to decorate with. This season pineapples have burst into the scene as a summer trend. Sweet Thymes has created a line to showcase our crush on pineapples

Our head designer, Camille Smaby inspired the line after some tasty design research. 

Canvas + Gold = Pineapple Bliss

Monique Smaby is obsessed with anything that glitters with gold. We have been expanding our line of canvas home decor. Monique designed a funky pineapple print to hang in your home - coming next month we will have super cute tanks too! (email info@sweetthymes.com to get on the pre-order list).

Clip, Sip, Party

The most popular party item in Sweet Thymes shop is our fun and bold clothes pins. They can be used as drink markers, to hang photos, baby showers, wedding favors, and clip on invitations. The uses are endless. This summer gold, teal and bright yellows are on trend. Get your party stared with these lovely delights. 

Decorate

Nothing says tablescape like confetti. Toss, throw, and decorate. Gold is a no brainer, adding a touch of glam to your low key summer celebration. Welcome guests with a bold and bright burlap pineapple sign

Little Gifts

No party is complete with out a gift or a favor for your guests. Fill these festive bags with treats, trinkets or a small gift for the birthday girl or a wedding favor. You can catch us by the pool handing these out for our 4th of July party. 

 

You can catch all these summer finds in the Sweet Thymes Etsy shop. Need a custom color? We love to create custom designs just for you! We source nearly all our supplies from america made companies and hand craft our creations in Southern California.

Event Planning Coast to Coast

We have a big announcement at Sweet Thymes and can’t wait to share it! We now offer event planning services in both Washington, DC and Southern California. Owner/ Designer, Monique Smaby, now lives in Southern California full time after spending the last three years in DC. As Sweet Thymes is expanding we are adding full service event planning and will continue to offer event services, in person and remotely, in DC (home away from home).

With our love for décor and all things festive, we naturally have dabbled in event planning for some time, constructing individual themes and parties for our clientele. The Sweet Thymes team is excited to announce our expansion into event planning services. From DC to LA we love any event that embraces our love to style, plan, and create a memorable event. Traveling is one of our passions and we will go just about anywhere to plan your dream event. Our new selection of services include weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, conferences or any event that has a story to tell. This exciting development expands our goals of servicing our client’s needs with more than just décor and building lasting memories for all your life events.

Stay tuned for our craft and event planning workshops coming in the second half of 2016.

Don’t forget to check out all our decor and event rentals, and much as we love to plan we also spend every spare moment designing.

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Cheers to planning!

You're Invited: Dream Defined Events Launch Party

I'm excited to celebrate with Jamie Garcia to launch her new company, Dream Defined Events next week! Come join me at the celebration in Washington, DC on Monday, January 11th, 6pm at Provision 14.

Dream Defined Events focuses on you guessed it, event planning, and seamlessly coordinating your most important life events so you can enjoy your special day with friends and family. You might have seen Jamie recently at the DIY Wedding Conference on Nov 15th. We got to see her amazing event planning talents as she helped make this fun filled day run smoothly, thinking of every detail. We caught up this week with Jamie to hear more about Dream Defined Events and her love for event planning.

How did you first get into event planning and how did you decide to launch Dream Defined Events?

I always loved to entertain people! This is probably because of passion and background in dance. I grew up performing anything from ballet, ballroom, hip hop, to even traditional Filipino dances. In high school and college, those performances eventually led to coordinating elaborate shows. Friends often came to me for guidance and direction when planning their parties. After gaining experience in organizing meetings and work conferences at a desk job, I figured why not make this my career?

What type of services do you offer?

For weddings, Dream Defined Events offers full, partial and month-of packages. I also provide consultation, event design, and day-of assistance for a variety of social affairs. From intimate soirees to grand birthday bashes, any event deserves the same amount of attention to detail.

What do you love most about planning an event? 

The reactions of the clients and their guests  – when they’re good of course ;). The faces of awe and wonder when they first walk into a venue. The laughter and tears during toasts. The nods and smiles in a crowd as a speaker gives a speech. Glimpses of sincere bliss make the endless email threads, spreadsheet drafts, and timelines worth it in the end. I’m also a sucker for the first look and first dance of every wedding. They never get old!

What is your most memorable event you had a hand in planning? 

I helped organize and coordinate logistics for NextDayBetter + Washington DC. NextDayBetter is a creative food and speaker series for diaspora communities and I was lucky enough to be part of the planning committee for their DC chapter. We brought together bold and innovative local leaders, entrepreneurs, and creatives in one space to discuss what inspires them and why they do what they do. Nani Coloretti (Deputy Secretary, US Department of Housing and Urban Development) and Erik Bruner-Yang (Chef/Restauranteur/James Beard Nominee, Toki Underground/Maketto) were some of the speakers. It was incredibly empowering not only as a coordinator but a participant. I felt the attendees’ energy and knew I helped motivate and invigorate the next generation of leaders.

What are your top inside tips for planning events? 

Ask anything and everything from event professionals and vendors. There is no such thing a dumb question. Better be safe than sorry! Keep (paper) copies of everything. Don’t let the budget discourage and dictate you. Always remember your overall objective. It can be as simple as having fun, eating good food, or bringing family together. Decide and prioritize the top three or five things to focus on to achieve that objective and always keep those in mind so you don’t get bogged down with options, numbers, and deadlines.

What are some tips for hosts to think about or decide on before bringing on an event planner?

Do your personalities mesh well together? You and your planner don’t have to be best friends right from the start, but having a good, solid rapport with them is essential. You will be communicating with your planner constantly so getting along with them makes the work much easier. Conversation that comes naturally leads to less headaches and miscommunication. Make sure the planner really understands not only your event and goals but also your personality and preferences. Sometimes you may not know exactly what you want or how to explain your vision. If the planner can get that out of you, then I strongly suggest hiring them.

Do you do any corporate or non-profit events? 

As of now, corporate and non-profit events are not my main focus, but I make myself open to ideas. If you need assistance in an event, whatever it is, I’m available for conversation to see how I can provide assistance whether it’s through month by month guidance, an email full of suggestions, or just acting as a soundboard for brainstorming!

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We are so excited for Jamie and the Launch of Dream Defined Events! Come meet her next week! If you can't make it to the launch be sure to check out her adorable website.

25 Irresistible Gifts For Your Advent Calendar

Fall is in the air and the Holidays are approaching quickly. The Sweet Thymes shop is stocked with Thanksgiving and Christmas decor. This year our favorite item is  the advent calendar drawstring bags. Count down the days until Christmas with a small gift tucked inside the cotton drawstring advent bags that are numbered. These bags can be stored after Christmas and refilled for years to come. Until Friday November 27th all advent calendars in the Sweet Thymes shop are 10% off with the code JINGLE.

Advent bags can be filled with all type of small gifts, chocolates, jewelry, figurines, or ornaments. The creativity is endless. We searched through the online shops and gathered 25 of our favorite advent calendar gifts from the coolest small businesses.

So You Want to DIY Your Wedding? Tips to get started.

Planning your own wedding can be exhilarating, but having the know how to put on a gorgeous event takes a few tips and tricks. That is where we come in, as savvy DIYers at Sweet Thymes we will give you the inside scoop. DIY is not only about saving money, an equally important part is using your creative talents to bring your personality into every aspect of your wedding.

Photo Courtesy of The Loft at 600 F

Choosing What to DIY: Start with your timeline and guest list. This will determine how much time you can dedicate to planning your own wedding. The guest list will help to determine your budget and how many DIY projects you want to take on. If the wedding is small you likely can manage more on your own or delegate to bridesmaids. If you want a large wedding, consider consulting a wedding planner early on in the process to keep you on track and budget the right amount of time to complete the DIY details that matter to you most.

Photo courtesy of The Loft at 600 F

Wedding Planning: Planning your wedding should be enjoyable whether you want to plan then entire wedding yourself or focus on a few personalized details like invitations or decor. If you want to plan it all, opt for a day of or month of coordinator to help you with last minute details and manage the wedding day events. Remember you are the star of this day and don’t want to be stressed out directing the caterer or photographer. If you are not a fan of details and organization but love to design and DIY, hire a full or part time wedding planner to handle the planning and work with them to incorporate your vision.    

Photo courtesy of Petals and Hedges

Floral Design DIY: Designing your own floral arrangements is a fun DIY project that can also cut costs. Choose a simple centerpiece that you and your bridesmaids can recreate yourself to save on your budget. We recommend you have the bridal bouquet made by a local florist, the bouquet is what will be in the majority of the wedding pictures and is the best place to splurge on flowers.

DIY Crafts: Decor and design is for many the most fun part of planning your big day. Start with your theme and mapping out possible design projects. If you are on a budget, pay attention to how much materials costs and how much time it will take to create your vision. Always give yourself extra time on DIY crafts and start on them early.

Photo Courtesy of Sweet Thymes

Utilize the Bridal Party: Designing favors and table top decor is fun, but it can also be time consuming if you are creating 200 of them. Enlist the wedding party to get together and work on DIY items. This is a great way to spend some quality time with the ones you love and give you a lift from overwhelming projects.

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Lane Photography

While DIY can be cost effective and add a personal touch, a bride must know where her limitations are and how many DIY projects can be accomplished. Stay sane by picking the details that matters to you most. When choosing what to DIY, evaluate what will save your budget, what you enjoy doing, and what you realistically have time for. These tips and tricks will help you get started on planning your dream wedding.

Want to get the 101 on how to plan your dream DIY wedding? Sweet Thymes is hosted the DIY Wedding Conference on Nov 15th in Washington, DC. Check out the blog for top DIY tips.

Something That Sparkles and Something Tulle

I had the pleasure to stop by Fabulous Frocks in Alexandria. Located in the Del Ray neighborhood. This quaint shop is a must to go if you are engaged and wedding dress shopping. Great prices, amazing dresses, and my favorite part - stunning jeweled belts. Store manager Margaret, showed me around the beautiful showroom and sat down to give me her bridal shopping tips.

Tell us about Fabulous Frocks and where you are located?

Fabulous Frocks is a luxe consignment boutique selling sample, new and once-wed gowns.  We carry a wide array of designers, styles, sizes, and price points. We cater to every bride and every vision!

We pride ourselves on providing a personalized experience for each bride. Our flagship store is located in Charleston, South Carolina with the second corporate store nestled in the heart of the quaint Del Ray area of Alexandria, Virginia. In 2012, Fabulous Frocks started franchising with locations in Charlotte, Nashville, Anchorage, and most recently Shreveport.  

Come visit us! We can be found on:
1901 Mt. Vernon Ave.
Alexandria, VA
(703) 683-2306
www.fabulousfrocksbridal.com
alexandria@fabulousfrocksbridal.com

What should brides think about when going wedding dress shopping?

While first-time dress shopping can be overwhelming, we want our brides to relax, let us do the work and enjoy the bridal experience with family and friends! Even though most brides have been dreaming and researching about their dream dress from the moment they became engaged (or maybe even longer), we encourage brides to keep an open mind while dress shopping. You never know what you might fall in love with until you try it on! Explore different silhouettes, necklines, accessories, and materials. Also, feel free to bring a bottle of champagne with you to celebrate finding "the one"!

What are some budget tips you can recommended?

Social media can be a valuable tool to help brides keep abreast of trunk shows, sample sales and recent discounts. We use Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook regularly to stay connected to our brides and all potential brides.

We recommend preparing a gown budget before beginning shopping. Researching ahead of time for average pricing and designers offered at various boutiques allows brides to find the perfect gown at their unique price point.

Does Fabulous Frocks have any favorite places to look for wedding dress inspiration?

We are constantly inspired by the incredible gowns received from designers across the nation.  Not only are there endless designers, wedding blogs, and styled shoots, but some of the best inspiration can come from our local area. We love following other DC area wedding professionals to view their content and keep up to date on current trends. Looking at the gown as part of a larger picture allows us to draw inspiration from flowers, cakes, decor, and hair and makeup!  A few of our favorite resources range from Washington Bride and Groom to Southern Weddings Magazine. 

Who should you bring with you when going wedding dress shopping?

Every bride has different relationships that are important to her. Some brides prefer having an intimate group of just family, while others prefer the company of 4 or 5 special guests. There are even brides who prefer to shop alone and do not want to be swayed or influenced by other opinions. Facetime or Skype are great both great resources to speak with your loved ones who are far away and include them.

Want to learn more about DIY weddings? Sweet Thymes will be hosting the the DIY Wedding Conference on Sunday, November 15th. Join Sweet Thymes for a day of DIY planning and designing!

The Real Dish on Finding the Perfect Wedding Menu

Choosing the right wedding menu for a diverse group of guests is a common challenge for engaged couples. How can you satisfy everyone’s palettes? How do you accommodate people’s dietary restrictions? Are you trying to fit a certain theme or incorporate an ethnic cuisine? Engaged couples need to think of these questions while trying to stay within budget. It’s difficult to make everyone happy. So why try to? Remember, this is your wedding! Try not to stress out about catering to every single guest’s tastes. If you need some direction, think about what you like to eat! Let that be the inspiration for your wedding menu and bring in your personality.

Don’t forget to have your food, venue, and decor complement each other to provide a cohesive experience that doesn’t confuse your guests. A couple aiming for a fun and casual reception in a rustic barn, may go for buffet service with their go-to comfort foods. Another couple who booked their reception at a majestic hotel might prefer entrees with sophisticated ingredients and artistic plating to showcase their love of fine dining. Let your favorite dishes, flavor profiles, and ingredients reflect your personality and preferences. Just some food for thought!

Here we shine the spotlight on a local caterer, Eat & Smile, that will be sharing their tips for creating the perfect wedding menu at the DIY Wedding Conference on November 15th.

Tell us about Eat & Smile Catering?

Eat & Smile is a boutique catering company that focuses on sustainability, both in our sourcing of local ingredients and green business practices, as well as having a family environment and pay living wages to our staff. As the first locavore caterer of DC, we work hard to support area farmers and fisherfolk, and since 2007 we have maintained high standards in sourcing quality ingredients, creating things from scratch as much as we can, and partnering with like-minded local small companies when needed. We also work hard to embody the "smile" portion of our namesake, just as much as the "eat" part!

How would you describe your culinary style?

We take a "slow food" approach, which means we create things from scratch as much as possible. While our chefs are well-versed in classic cuisine, we do love to focus on fusions most, where we can incorporate various flavors in each dish.

Do you have any favorite ingredients?

Sriracha, kimchi, homemade apple cider vinegar,  house-made "super" soy sauce, and items put in our smoker make a lot of appearances in our kitchen, among many others, but really most important to us is seasonality of ingredients and working with super fresh products.

Meet Chef Oliver Friendly of Eat and Smile at the DIY Wedding Conference on November 15th. Join Sweet Thymes for a day of DIY planning and designing!


Bluemont Vineyard - Selecting A Memorable Wine For Your Wedding

One of the most anticipated and heartfelt moments of a wedding reception is the toast. Choosing a memorable wine for the toast and your reception meal can be overwhelming.

Allow us to introduce the wine experts and wedding venue hosts, Bluemont Vineyard. Birthed from a love affair between agriculture and wine, Bluemont Vineyard delivers for couples seeking a breathtaking vineyard that not only offers great options for wine, but a scenic venue for couples special day as well.

Bluemont Vineyard shared their story and tips with us as we get ready to hear them speak on November 15th at the DIY Wedding Conference, leading a tutorial on picking the right wine for your wedding.

Tell us about Bluemont Vineyard and the history of how it got started?   

Bluemont Vineyard is a small Virginia Farm Winery located on the first ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western Loudoun County, VA. The winery was started in 2007 and produces 6,000 carefully hand-crafted cases of wines each year. The tasting room boasts a commanding view of the Loudoun Valley and the farmland that yields the grapes and fruits cultivated for each vintage.

What type of wines are produced by the vineyard?  

Our winemaker, Jen Sailor, strives to bottle a little something for everyone. We offer both single varietal and blended wines that appeal to the diverse palates of individuals who visit our tasting room. Each of our wines have been named with the farm winery image in mind. Our most popular wines include the Farm Table White, the Vidal Blanc "The Cow" and the Farm Table Red Blend. In the recent Loudoun Winey Awards Competition we were excited to medal three of the five wines we entered! The Epicurience Blend won Best in Class for Bordeaux Blends and our 2013 Merlot "The Ram" took Best in Class in the Merlot category as well as the Chairman's Reserve award.

What should couples expect when doing a wine tasting at your tasting room?

Our goal is for each couple to choose wines for their wedding that have broad appeal yet enable each couple to share the wines they love the most with their guests. We include a complimentary wine tasting for couples during their venue selection process so they are confident that Bluemont offers a great selection of wines for their event. After their menu tasting, we follow up with a specific tasting focus on connecting the wines to the custom menu each bridal couple selects.

Do you have a top tip when choosing a wine for the wedding reception meal?

We guide our couples to select the wines they like while encouraging them to keep it simple.  We recommend no more than 2 white wines and 2 red wines for their event.  We find that too much choice is confusing for guests.

When is the best time of year to have a wedding at a winery and how far out should the venue be booked?

We are a 3-season venue and each season brings with it a unique atmosphere for wedding guests to enjoy.  Spring is highlighted by blooms in the orchards and cherry tree lines lane.  Summer is filled with lush greenery and fresh fruits and vegetables for farm to table menus and Fall provides a gorgeous backdrop of colored foliage well into November. Guests looking for specific dates and Saturdays should plan 12-15 months in advance while Friday and Sunday options are typically available 9-12 month out. We have booked and hosted weddings in 3 months or less as well for clients with rapidly changing timelines and our professional team is here to guide all clients through the planning process.

Want to learn more about pairing the right wine with your wedding meal? Bluemont Vineyard will bring their passion for grapes and sommelier knowledge at the DIY Wedding Conference on November 15th. Join Sweet Thymes for a day of DIY planning and designing!