Monday, December 27, 2010

A Look Back: A Magnificent Indian Wedding

I can hardly believe that it has been a whole year since my amazing experience in Bangalore, India planning and designing Rushmi and Vikram's wedding. It was a project that was exciting and challenging in so many ways, from the solo international travel to learning the religious and cultural customs of a South Indian wedding to deciphering the services and talents of wedding vendors who had never pushed their own limits in the ways I was requiring. I know for certain that this whole project could have fallen flat had I not had the unwavering trust of the bride and groom and both of their amazing families. They took a risk by hiring a White, American, Jewish New Yorker who had never even been to Southeast Asia to plan a traditional Hindu wedding with a little Western flare, and I will forever be grateful. It was an experience that made me a better designer, a better planner and a better person. I eagerly await the next opportunity to explore a new part of the world and a new part of myself. You can read my original posts here(1), here(2), here(3) and here(4).

Take a look at this beautiful couple and enjoy...

This is the traditional entrance gate at the front of the property. Notice that in between the two doorways we hung a large mirror to ward off evil.

The venue is called The Tamarind Tree, aptly named for this magnificent tree just inside the entrance gates. We enhanced its beauty with strands of lights and hand-strung flowers.

This is the view of the front of the property from the entrance. The pond was home to hundreds of floating lotus flowers on lily pads and the steps were lined with varying sizes of pillar candles. The large structure was set for cocktails upon guests' entrance, but was later transformed into the dancing area.

The groom was escorted on the patterned petal aisle by the bride's brother and followed by her family. In the background, you can see the mandap created with gold, red and amethyst fabric and adorned with strands of jasmine.

During the traditional Hindu ceremony, the bride is showered with rice under the mandap.

This is the interior property at a glance. Because of the rain that followed soon after this photo was taken, we don't have any pictures of how this looked when the sun went down and the candles and the lights started to glow. The head of my Indian production team, upon first seeing it all illuminated, said it looked just like heaven. That was just one of many times that the amazing, talented, and earth-shatteringly hard working Geethanjali Santosh melted my heart. The structure on the right with the flower strands on the poles housed the dinner buffets. The rotunda in the center was where the band played and the structure on the left was the bulk of the dinner seating.

The long tables were adorned with a landscape of pieces... tall branch arrangements with hand-strung orchids and hanging candles, low vases with red mokara orchids, small glass with submerged orchids and floating candles and low pave'd collections of vibrant flowers.

Bangalore's first ever 6-tiered wedding cake was decorated with chocolate by Henna artists to create the authentically Indian motif.

The bride and groom's fathers embraced under a sky illuminated by fireworks. This was my first time ever facilitating fireworks at a wedding - and it was amazing!

Amidst 500 guests and a lot of excitement, this wedding was warm, intimate and full of love. Strangely enough, I found that to be true of my entire experience in India. Certainly, it is busy and crowded and a tad chaotic, but I cannot remember ever being embraced as warmly and openly as in my time in Bangalore. Now, it will forever hold a special place in my heart.

All photos by Sudhir Ramachandran

Happy anniversary, Rushmi and Vikram! And a very happy and healthy New Year to all of you!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday entertaining... LLE Style!

I think the difference between the art of styling and the art of design is often muddled... In my opinion, styling refers to taking existing elements that you are given and organizing them into an aesthetic whole that is more spectacular than the sum of their parts. Design, on the other hand, is about creating a look from the ground up, where you are the innovator of all of the elements.

I absolutely love doing both styling and design, so it was great fun to work with my good friend and genius businesswoman Amanda Allen, on behalf of her brainchild NewlyWish, an online alternative registry service for chic, sophisticated New York couples, to style a gorgeous seasonal tablescape. Design guru Isaac Mizrahi had approached Amanda to put together a stylish and contemporary holiday table for his weekly "webisodes" using tabletop items from her registry merchants on NewlyWish. Naturally, I was honored to be asked to enhance the style of the elements she wanted to showcase on behalf of her merchants.

Isaac's studio is a stylist's heaven as you would imagine! It was props galore! So, I was able to take the gorgeous tabletop items Amanda had selected from merchants like Bobby Berk Home, Fish's Eddy, Bowery Kitchen and Michael Aram and really enhance them with beautiful furniture and finishings to create a cool, but still homey holiday tabletop.

Mismatched plates set the scenes for a tabletop that is friendly, but still formal - an appealing alternative to uber-fancy china and crystal. Also, altering the purpose of tabletop and home items gives them fun new life - these sweet glasses hosted our "Bloody Mary" shrimp and a simple pashmina worked double-duty as a table runner.

Using hand calligraphy for any event or dinner elevates the style and adds a personal touch, so my friend, calligrapher Anne Robin, lent her hand to write these gorgeous place cards. Instead of stands, I used fresh dahlias to prop up the card which tied in perfectly to the simple centerpiece of dahlias, kangaroo paws and baby purple artichokes.

As a side note, this was my first time professionally styling food... and I loved it! I want to use food in every photo shoot from now on! Everything from finding the perfect angle at which to slice the bread to pouring the wine to the perfect level was great fun. And, as with all at home entertaining, adding food to the tabletop made it truly look and feel like a celebration was about to take place.

All photography by Sofia Negron

You can see the Webisode in which this tablescape was featured here.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Knot Gala at The New York Public Library

What an amazing honor to have been asked to plan and design The Knot's 15th Anniversary Gala at the right-out-of-the-movies, breathtakingly stunning New York Public Library. When I got the word I had been tapped to design a party for the best-of-the-best in the wedding and event industry, it did not come without it's share of pressure... not only was The Knot co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Carley Roney looking for the kind of party that would draw event and fashion industry celebs, but this is a crowd who knows about parties. I mean they really KNOW about parties.... and flowers..... and tablecloths... and music... and food. This was serious business, folks!

The first order of business was to assemble the team of vendors who would collaborate with me to bring this event to life. It was great fun to bring together a group of amazingly talented event pros - some old friends and some new - who all worked their butts off with me to make it happen. The list is extensive, but I must acknowledge some of my key partners in crime on this event, without whom, the great style, substance and buzz would never have been possible - Union Square Events, Party Rental, Ltd., Bentley Meeker Lighting and Staging, Generation Events, Luxe Event Rentals, Christian Oth and Elan Artists.

It probably goes without saying that the opportunity to work with the legend that is Preston Bailey was a highlight of this experience for me. While my style of design is certainly different from Preston's, I, like most event designers, am in awe of the scale in which he works and the precision of his artistry. I was, at first, a bit intimidated by being in the role of directing Preston's team as to how their amazing floral sculpture would be a part of the overall design, but his team was so gracious and truly respected my work on this project, so I felt both validated and invigorated. I generally don't doubt my own gut on design choices, but you better believe that I checked my work more than once before showing the PB team my floor plans and event specs. It helped me to work at an even higher, more precise level, so I am extremely grateful for this experience.

What can I say? The sculpture was ridiculously amazing! If you squint, you can see a peak at the navy and silver upholstered bar facade I created just behind the sculpture. Photos by Christian Oth.

So, onto the design. I was given some direction from Carley Roney as to what she wanted to see at the event... the colors were blue and silver and the concept was "Modern Victorian." Because that look is not in my general design arsenal, my goal was to make something that satiated her desires, but also was true to my aesthetic. So, the first thing I did was add an accent color - yellow. I felt that navy and silver would be swallowed up by the vastness and neutral tones of the space unless I provided contrast, and I think it worked perfectly. The second thing was to enhance the contrast with lighting. You know how much I love event lighting, so this was an easy one, especially since I got to work with the lighting superstars at Bentley Meeker. Finally, because I knew that Preston Bailey was designing a 12' tall floral sculpture that would be the major "wow" of the night, I wanted to create an atmosphere that was supportive of that centerpiece, so, as is often the case, much of the design work was left to the black-and-white of a great floor plan. I knew that, while my flowers were gorgeous (if I do say so myself!) they could never compete with what Preston was doing, so my job was to use my design abilities to build a great environment for the event and for the showcasing of the sculpture. Design is a lot of things when it comes to events, and it isn't always flowers and candles. That is one of my key principles of non-floral decor and it is crucial to the success of so many of my designs.

This was the Press/VIP lounge - it was a little oasis above the hub-bub of the main space.

Because of the nature of the event, branding was key. I sourced vintage picture frames, painted them silver, hung them on a custom-upholstered wall and filled the frames with recent covers of The Knot magazine. Also, I created custom iPad stands for this existing Library desk so that The Knot could showcase their brand new iPad app!

Guests could get cozy in the lounge groupings throughout the side wings of Astor Hall in the Library.

Some of my favorite details were custom pillows I had made for this event as well as the interlocking fleur de lis graphic I transferred onto some of the lounge chairs.

Mini chair caps and runners carried the navy through the party in a way that suited my design style and customized the rental furniture.

A really dreadful photo of me with The Knot's Carley Roney! :-) Photo by Christian Oth.

I will post more photos on the Lindsay Landman Events Facebook page as I get them, but for now, I hope you'll enjoy this peak into the event industry party of the season. It is no secret that the scope of this project far exceeded my original expectations, but, as is always the case, the pleasure and reward I received personally and professionally certainly made it worth every minute of it. And then some.

Sleepily yours,

All photos by Gustavo Campos, except where otherwise noted.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lauren and Nick: Romantic Blue and White Wedding

Lauren and Nick's wedding at The Woodlands Inn and Resort in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was a great opportunity for me to flex more of my "StyleFile" muscles as Lauren came to me with an assembled in-house team of vendors who needed just a little direction to boost this event from lovely to fabulous. Lauren's personal style is feminine, but simple and clean and she wanted her wedding style to reflect just that. It was her amazing Vera Wang wedding dress that inspired much of the wedding design: the white on white stripes with bow detailing said everything Lauren wanted to say.

My pride and joy from this wedding design is the escort card display. During one phone consultation, Lauren mentioned that she wanted to include some sort of floating flower component in the design. Since just flowers in a bowl were not stylized enough for what we were trying to accomplish, I dreamed up (by the way, until this very moment of spell-check clarity, I totally thought that word was dreamt, but evidently not! Who knew?) this gigantic water table as the focal point of the cocktail space. The total size of this table was about 7 feet square, with the center "pool" at 4 feet square. The beautifully calligraphed escort cards with custom designed monogram on top were arranged on a pave of white carnations surrounding the entire pool. Hydrangeas, gardenias and candles floating in the water were highlighted with soft blue light for some extra glimmer. It was pretty fabulous. I loved watching all of the guests explore this table, gently touching the flowers and the water to see if everything was real. It was spectacular!

Inside the ballroom, we channeled a little bit of Old Hollywood and a lot of classic elegance to create two styles of table designs: long ovals with a landscape of low centerpieces and traditional rounds with high arrangements. Accents of pearls, bows and tons of candlelight tied the design together with the dress inspiration and a sweet, romantic glow.

I was faced with a huge challenge in this particular ballroom because these ceilings were LOW. I mean lower-than-your-traditional-studio-apartment-LOW. So... some of the lighting and draping techniques that I often rely on and that drew Lauren to my work initially were out of the question. As a result, I needed to create focal points in a different way. The first thing we did was bring in an all-white dance floor and finish it with Lauren and Nick's custom insignia that I created as part of the StyleFile. I used a vinyl transfer to apply their logo and it looked amazing on the white floor. I had done it many times on traditional parquet floors, but never on white. Yum! It looked hand painted!

Also, my amazing lighting team installed 150 iridescent glass globes and candleholders into the ceiling tracks and then lit them with color changing LEDs to give the low ceiling an amazing glow all night long.

This project was a true delight because even though Lauren had a team of vendors already on board before she met me, she was so open to exploring new ideas and pushing the limits of what she had seen before and what these vendors had done before. The experience certainly helped me to better convey my concepts to vendors who had not tried some of these techniques in the past and I believe that it helped them to look beyond their comfort zones to see what is possible. I love jobs where I can teach a little and learn a little, and this definitely fit that bill!

The stripes and bows on the cake mimicked Lauren's gown; the design is also a great simple choice for an in-house baker to do when a specialty baker isn't in the cards.

All photos by Gustavo Campos

Wanna learn more about the "StyleFile" and how I can work with your team of vendors anywhere in the world to bring your wedding vision to the next level? Email me at lindsay[at]lindsaylandmanevents[dot]com.

'Til next time...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Inspired by: Kelly Wearstler

I have found my design soul mate. There's no one else I want to be with for the rest of my days. Kelly Wearstler: you are THE ONE.

I have long been an admirer of Kelly's work, but it was not until my darling clients Katie and James gave me the world's most thoughtful gift of a big ol' pile of design books (inspiring many more posts, I'm sure!) that I got to spend two uninterrupted hours with Kelly and her work. Page after page of Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style spoke to me... and in many ways echoed me. I heard myself in Kelly's words and saw my visions in the photos of her work. So, just like when you meet that special someone who can complete your sentences, I knew that my love for Kelly was here to stay.

By now you must know that I am endlessly charmed by language, so Kelly's crystal clear way in which she defines some of her basic design principles is amazing. I could list every pull quote from the book because so many of them are brilliant, but it is her focus on the key principle of unexpected style from so many different angles that I think is captivating:
"Eclecticism produces excitement through creative tension. Eclectic interiors may startle you at first, but its that surprising quality that hold you there and calls you back again." Two sentences that perfectly state what it took me two posts to convey (See: Unlikely Pairs and Mixed Media).

Now - I am going to say something bold here - and you are just going to have to live with it: every outfit, room, piece of stationery... you name it... is better with black. I thought that maybe I had been in New York too long because my love for black is so sincere, but after pouring over Kelly's images, I have found both a kindred spirit and a sense of validation. There is black in every room. Maybe a little or maybe a lot, but always black. I know it is not for everyone or every party (settle down, brides, I won't put black in your design if you don't want it!) but it excites me every time I see black in a good design and I never tire of it.

I could go on and on, but I'll just point out one more thing about my kindred spirit: Kelly says in her chapter on Color and Texture that "Living without color is like living without love." It seems overly dramatic, particularly in reference to event design, but her bold mantra spoke to me because of my daily interaction between color and love... weddings. Since Katie picked out this book for me, I will use her as my example (hope you don't mind, Katie!): early on when she and I were working on the design for her wedding and I had proposed a few color palettes, Katie called me one evening to say that she thought maybe she should just go with all white for her wedding. It was too hard to decide on a color palette and maybe going with white would be easier and safer so she wouldn't have to over-commit to just one shade. Katie was certainly not the first and will definitely not be the last to sing the song of white's safety to me... picking a color and using it as the main stamp on the key event of your lifetime is a BIG DEAL. Huge. Like picking your mate. You are saying to the world that you have one day to show off the essence of your life and this is the person you are picking, and this is the dress you are picking and this is the color you are picking. But here's the thing: the greater the risk, the greater the reward, in design, in life and in love. If you don't grab your chance, it will pass you by and you'll be sorry you played it safe. Please, take it from me... my wedding was white. My dining room is purple, though, so I worked it out in the end.

All photos courtesy of

In the forward of the book, famed editor Marian McEvoy says of Wearstler: "You can't enter a Wearstler environment without being challenged to inspect, touch, and wonder where she came up with her ideas." This moves me in a powerful way because when I think about the greatest compliment someone can pay me, it is to be asked "how did you think of that?" It implies that I have been creative, that I have imagined something that no one else has. And it makes me feel like I am at least a fraction of the designer I hope to be.

Get this book. It will not disappoint.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Katie and James: Beautiful Pennsylvania Wedding

I worked with Katie and James for more than a year on every detail of their amazing wedding in Katie's hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania (which is my hometown too!). This is not my first Scranton-area event so I am getting a little reputation back home for coming in and shaking things up a bit. Depending on who you ask, that may be a good thing or a bad thing...

My goal with the decor was to create a "wow factor" while remaining cognizant of the slightly more tailored sensibility of my clients and their guests. Katie picked this fabulous color palette of plum, raspberry and pewter from some paint chip strips I stole from the paint department at Home Depot (shhh!) and so that there would be a little something for everyone, I created three different tabletop looks on both square and rectangular tables. I just loved using these custom upholstered lampshades atop tall, shapely vases instead of a room full of flowers (non-floral decor at its best!) and to keep costs in check, I used tap lights (yes, from the info-mercials) to illuminate inside the shades. Peonies were in full bloom for this June wedding, but to give the lamps a lift, a pave'd box of hot pink carnations did the trick.

There were dozens of fun details at this Scranton Cultural Center wedding from the illuminated escort table to the monogrammed chair caps and the sweet drink straws to the surprise zeppole station at the exit. Here's just a peek at some of my favorite accents...

All photos by Rob Lettieri

It was a thrill to be part of a wedding day with so much life and exuberance. This room was exploding with energy, but also with love and warmth. Katie and James' wedding was a true collaboration with the bride, the groom and both families and it was amazing to see and feel how the end result was a reflection of all of them and their amazing connection to one another.

A special thanks goes out to Dorian and Eloise Butovich of Central Park Flowers in Olyphant, PA who were crucial to the production of this event and who helped make it a success.