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Cricut Explore Air 2 Review + Gift Guide!

It’s no surprise to anyone that I love my Cricut machine. If you’ve gotten into a conversation with me about creating, I’m sure I’ve talked your ear off about how it’s A) amazing, B) will cut through almost anything, and C) will cut any SVG file. Logos, custom text, one-of-a-kind designs – this machine can do anything. A time machine would come in handy right about now so I could beam back seven years with my Cricut and my ipad to be in project heaven when I was a bride. All I had back then was an exact knife and a loving friend to help me cut out the die-cut hearts I needed on every. single. invitation. pocket.

Was I crazy? Probably.

Crafty couples of 2017! You can quickly, easily, and WIRELESSLY die cut your own invitations while streaming every single episode of The Mindy Project. Of course, a giant project like DIY invitations is not for everyone. I repeat: Not For Everyone. The crafty couple that is going to bond over DIYs might be slightly masochist, loves a challenge, lives for a tedious project, and doesn’t mind using every extra hour of their day to work on their wedding. This was me back in 2009. And it’s now what other people pay me to do. Dream job.

Cricut sent me one of their brand new Cricut Explore Air 2 machines for an honest review (and to give me a reason to start on my gift guides). Hand to God this is the best piece of equipment that a home creator can purchase on a small-ish budget. In about thirty minutes, I went from opening the box to designing a custom ornament on my ipad to magically bluetoothing it to the Cricut to having a custom made Christmas decoration in my hands.

IT’S MAGIC.

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And, here ya go, my first gift guide for the 2016 season. It’s not too early to shop. Get your shopping done now and then you can relax with a belly full of cookies and nog for the whole month of December. Sounds good to me.

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Gift Guide for the Crafty Couple:

  1. Golden Pen: Because all great crafters are only as good as their shiny, shiny tools.
  2. Weddings In Color book: Biases opinion here (I styled this book), but it really is full of amazing ideas for colorful, modern weddings.
  3. Metallic Vinyl: To use in the Cricut, you can cut out anything out of vinyl and basically personalize stuff to your heart’s content.
  4. Leather Pouches: To keep your supplies organized in style.
  5. A Tool Box: No plastic tupperware here – you will only be as inspired as your environment is aesthetically pleasing. This concept applies to storage containers too.
  6. Scissors: A must-have supply with a fun twist
  7. Cricut Explore Air 2: Seriously, you need this machine. My opinions are not swayed by free stuff. I use mine for client projects, personal projects, and gift making. The holidays are coming! Start your crafty gifts now!

 

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A colorful wedding at the Wythe Hotel

It’s slightly embarrassing how long it’s taken me to show you Lauren and Justin’s colorful wedding at the Wythe Hotel. They are having their 2 year anniversary in a few weeks. TWO YEARS. I’m sorry, I will never hold this much pinnable goodness from you again for that long. Dean, who also turns two soon, was just four weeks old at their wedding. Proof right here that anything is possible with the most amazing clients, over the top detailed preparation, and the hardest working team in the business.

The Wythe Hotel never disappoints with it’s amazing wallpaper, lovely terrace, and industrial vibe. Williamsburg is home to some of the coolest spots for wedding photos – which means that any Brooklyn-loving couple would be right at home here.

Brita Olsen Creative kept it all running smoothly while Karen Seifert Photography blew me away with her beautiful images.

My absolute favorite decor detail from Lauren and Justin’s wedding was their ceremony backdrop. Using watercolor paintings from the bride’s best friend, I used my textile design background to create a one-of-a-kind fabric backdrop. The pattern is custom and it was digitally printed onto a lovely cotton sateen. Now, that fabric backdrop lives on in the couple’s apartment.

These are the types of wedding decor details that I love: the tangible ones you get to live with everyday as heirlooms from your wedding.

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Is innovation limitless?

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image by chelo keys

My friend Rhi of Hey Gorgeous Events recently wrote a piece on how she’s been seeing a lot of sameness happening lately in the wedding industry – similar brand colors/fonts/graphics, similar website copy, similar websites, similar designs, similar instagram images, similar ways of describing what they do and why they do it. Same, same, same. Boring, boring, boring.

We’ve all seen it: the calligraphy logos, the photos of everything on marble, the composition of shooting from above, the white kitchens, the white studios, the white everything, fancy tiles with feet on them, latte art, fiddle leaf fig trees. The benefit of social media is that we get to see what everyone in every market around the country is doing with their branding and their creativity 24 hours a day. We see everyone’s innovation. Everyone’s ideas. Everyone’s designs. From all around the country. Trends spread like wildfire – being fueled by more and more creatives using the current aesthetic trends for their businesses. Her advice was to concentrate on being original in a world where we are drowning in a sea of sameness. Is it too much to ask? Is the limitless aspect of social media creating a bubble where we all start looking like each other, talking like each other, designing like each other? How possible is it to look original in a sea of thousands of other businesses? And why is there anything wrong with similarities between creatives if we are all making money? ARE we all making money? Because as much as we can all say “we just looooooove weddings”, I mean, we aren’t working for free.

Is innovation limitless?

So what if the majority of creative businesses follow aesthetic trends?

The chatter in the industry emphasizing each of us to be unique, different, and original is deafening. It’s not possible for every, single, one of us with a creative business in the wedding industry in the world to ALL be unique and different. It’s unrealistic.  A lot of wedding pros are going to come across as looking the same, as maybe even copying each other, but how many innovative, original logos, color palettes, websites can there be in this world? I’d like to argue that there will most definitely be a bunch of people who like watercolor calligraphy as their logo and super bright instagram images. Hey, nothing wrong with that.

Just like we’ve all worn skinny jeans with ballet flats and t-shirts, the majority of creatives, especially in the wedding space, are going to follow trends. The industry will always have a few people who are truly gifted at doing original work that really inspires me. And if they are really talented at business, those few companies even have couples hand over hard earned cash for outlandish creativity at designing a truly original wedding day including one-of-a-kind installations, weird shit, and all around crazy, never-seen-before event design concepts. For the other 90% of companies, their couples want blush, flowing ribbons on bouquets, natural chuppahs, and calligraphed tented escort cards. Those 90% of wedding pros producing this type of work (ahem, the majority) are still considered to be creative. They are still artists. They are still earning an honest living while serving their couples who might not want to take a chance on design for a celebration they only get to have (and pay for) once.

Jess Levin Conroy of Carats & Cake said in her newsletter last week that “being the ‘coolest business’ does not always translate into being a profitable one. There is often a gap between what the industry deems to be the next best thing and what consumers actually want (and pay for).”

I say that replace “coolest” with “most innovative”, “most creative”, or “most unique”, and the sentiment still rings true.

Consumers, couples (and their parents, let’s be real) in this example, often want what they see. What they see is what has already been done and is being pinned on Pinterest. It’s the work that we busted our butts to create, to get published, for prospective clients to hire us off of. They want it replicated. Dare I say, copied. There is nothing wrong with taking a couple’s pinterest board full of inspiration from weddings that happened all over the country and replicating it. It’s annoying to be the one being copied, of course, but if another florist wants to replicate my most popular pins then more power to them. I don’t own copyright on hanging carnations or giant teal balloons.

Is innovation limitless? Is it too much to ask, to demand, each and every wedding pro to constantly put out 110% original, never-before-seen, work? The quantity of weddings happening in this country every year and the number of original ideas to be had is not equal. When it comes to making money, a good living where you have a cushion in your bank account, being innovative, unique, different, original at every single creative opportunity is unrealistic, especially in the wedding world where the event is once and done. There simply are not that many couples on the earth (or in certain geographical markets) who will take design risks on their wedding day.

What’s my point here? Simply, you do you. Everyone worry about themselves. If another wedding pro seems to be replicating your website copy, instagram posts, the way you style your hair – take it up a notch yourself. Then, look at your profit & loss spreadsheet and give yourself a pat on the back for building a business that is giving you a flexible schedule, letting you do what you love, and affording you special treats (for me, that’s nail art and buying too many sports bras).

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