Meet Woods & Company

Happy Monday! Today, I'm sharing on wedding stationery and a vendor that you need to know!

Last week, I dished about my experience at the Grace + Ivory preview a few of weeks ago. Well, I not only learned about their great gowns, but was also introduced to stationery company, Woods and Company. They had such a lovely display at the event, and I immediately wanted to learn more about what they can offer for my sensational couples and clients. I reached out to the owner and designer, Sarah Tarantino, who is sharing today about wedding stationery and her amazing company. 




Tell us about you and your business.

My name is Sarah Tarantino, the owner of Woods&Company. I create luxury wedding invitations and stationery, and I LOVE what I do!

I am an interior designer by education and trade, and have always had an eye for design and details. As my career in corporate interiors went on, I found myself drawn to the more graphic design aspects of my job. I also wanted to "own" my own projects. I became really drawn to all the beautiful work that was being done in the wedding industry, particularly with wedding stationery, which was beginning to get very interesting, not the same old black script font on cream card stock! People were getting creative and I LOVED it! So, I started designing invitations and stationery on the side. Really wanting to help people "embellish" their events, I took the leap in 2012 and left the world of interior design behind. I now devote my time to my passion, which is designing beautiful, custom, luxury wedding and event stationery. I help couples get the exact invitation they want. After all, the invitation is the first impression your guests will have of your wedding, it should beautifully reflect your style and personality!

BM Wed-12.jpg

What are the various types of stationery products your offer?

Almost anything you can think of! Invitations, Place Cards, Escort Cards, Seating Charts, Menus, Programs, Signage, Thank You Cards, Save The Dates.

I work with couples on all aspects of their wedding stationery, and I strive to meet all of their needs. If they have an idea of a piece of stationery that they would like for their wedding, I do everything to make it happen.

For example, last year, I had a couple who really wanted their escort cards to be a coaster. So, we designed a really sturdy double thick coaster that had the guest's name and table number on one side, and a message from the bride and groom on the other that said "Trust Us, You Can Dance!", to urge guests to cut a rug when the band started. I LOVED that idea and had such a fun time working on it!


When should couples reach out to you for their wedding stationery and what's the process like?

Couples should reach out about 6 months prior to their wedding. I recommend sending invites 8 weeks prior to their wedding date, and printing usually takes approximately 2 weeks. That leaves ample time for the design process, and so you can get exactly what you want. I want couples saying, "Oh I LOVE it, it's exactly what I had in mind!", and not, "Yeah, I like them."

As far as process goes, there are a few steps:

First, I like to have a really nice conversation with my clients. Whether it's in person, on the phone, or via FaceTime or Skype, I really like to get to know my couples. We talk, of course, about their event (i.e. colors, theme, flowers, setting, etc.), but I also like to really get to know my clients. I want to know their personality, what things they are interested in, what their personal style is. All these things give me a much better picture of who they are and what they will be happy with. Couples are more than their wedding, and I like to produce stationery that reflects who they really are, not just their wedding day.

Second, after our chat, I write up a quote and send it along to the couple. Upon approval of the quote, we are ready to go! At this time, I require a 30% deposit and the preferred wording for their invitations.

Third. The design process!!! The fun part!! WE begin designing, and my clients receive PDF files of what we've been working on as we go through the process. I do not limit how many rounds of design a client can go through, I want everything to be just right. As long as we are still going to meet our deadline, we can revise as much as necessary! Typically, however, the design process is 3-4 rounds. Everything I send can be finessed and adjusted to suit my client's desires. We begin by sending 3-4 design options of the invitations. Once a design is chosen, we finesse the design, and bring the design elements through to the other elements of the invitation suite (rsvp cards, envelopes, liners, etc.). When all is worked out and approved, my client checks it one last time for spelling and correct names, places and times, and then we send to print! Once the suite is printed and QC'd by me, I package it with love and send it along to my clients!


Do you provide addressing as well for invitations?

Yes! Woods&Company can provide printed addresses for both the return addresses and guest addresses.

What are some new stationery trends couples should know about?

What I am seeing a lot of right now are large, classic florals, and florals mixed with bold graphics. Also, neons, dusty rose hues, caliente red, silhouettes, and mixed media (i.e. soft floral images mixed with almost magazine like graphics and bold fonts, letterpress elements mixed with digital printing, etc.).

But, most of all, what I like say to couples is just be YOU!!! Yes, get inspiration from what appeals to you, but if you have an idea of your own, GO FOR IT!!! This is your day to express yourselves, don't do something just because Pinterest says it's cool. BE YOU!


How can couples find you?


Website: (you can sign up on my site for news and events to stay informed of what I'm up to)




Phone: 510-967-5916


Thank you so much Sarah for sharing with us today! Also, special thanks to The Light & Co., Jackie + Jay, Lauren Carnes Photography, and Stephanie Kamerman Photography for the lovely photos of Sarah's work. I can't wait to work with Woods&Company for a sensational wedding. Share in the comments section some new stationery trends you love.

Sensationally yours,




Meet Grace + Ivory

Happy Monday! Today, we're dishing on wedding gowns, and I have a special treat for you. 

I had the pleasure of attending the Grace + Ivory preview event in D.C. a couple of weeks ago, held at Bureau Studio and styled by Elizabeth Carberry. I went with the intent of learning about this amazing bridal company to share with all of my sensational brides. After leaving the event, I was so sold on Grace + Ivory, their stunning, affordable gowns and equally important, their mission. I immediately reached out to Tina Zysk, the Founder and Creative Director, so that she could share more about her amazing company here on the blog. She graciously accepted, and today I'm happy to bring you all the 411 from our conversation about Grace + Ivory and why brides should totally choose them for their wedding gowns.


Photo Credit:  Stefanie Kamerman

Photo Credit: Stefanie Kamerman

When should brides reach out to you for their wedding gowns and what's the process like?

We recommend reaching out to start the process about 5-6 months before your wedding. You can learn more about setting up a design consultation, ordering a dress, measurements, shipping and the overall process here.

When designing your gowns, where do you find inspiration?

I like to think of myself as the Creative Director when selecting gowns for the Grace + Ivory collection. I work directly with a designer/dressmaker and she has the technical details and expertise when it comes to designing and dressmaking. I select dresses that I think represents today’s metropolitan modern bride – hip, on-the-go, hardworking, and kicking butt. I like having a variety of dresses ranging from pretty, soft tulle dresses with lace to a sophisticated, sleek look with hand-beaded details.  

Photo Credit:  Stefanie Kamerman

Photo Credit: Stefanie Kamerman

What is the starting price of your gowns?

Our dresses range from $695 to $1,595 plus tax. 

Do you also do custom work or customize gowns in your collections at the request of a bride?

Yes, we offer custom options to the gowns in our collection. If you love one of our dresses but would want to change something about that particular gown, contact us for a design consultation and we can discuss over email or over the phone about the custom options and any other questions. This is all before your dress purchase (if you decide to move forward).

Photo Credit:  Stefanie Kamerman

Photo Credit: Stefanie Kamerman

When patronizing your company, tell us more about the worthy cause customers are also supporting?

One of my biggest reasons for starting Grace + Ivory is to merge an awesome business making wedding dresses and being able to contribute to helping others who may not be as fortunate. As our mission is about women helping women, a portion of every dress purchase goes to helping women and girls in need. We’re currently supporting Plan International’s Because I am a Girl (BIAAG) Program, which runs programs in countries around the world focusing on girls’ health, education, empowerment, and community involvement. BIAAG’s call to action raises awareness about girls’ rights and the need for justice and equality. Grace + Ivory supports Plan’s belief that gender equality is central to achieving long-term change and the BIAAG call to action to ensure girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive.

I love your dresses done differently slogan and that your gowns are made to measure. Tell us more about this.

I founded Grace + Ivory with the intent to do dresses differently by giving brides another option with a socially conscious approach providing beautiful, quality, made-to-measure wedding dresses. During the search for my own wedding dress, I felt that wedding dresses were overpriced and I wondered why. After doing some digging, this gave me the idea of partnering directly with a dressmaker, cutting out a middleman, which allowed me to offer gorgeous dresses of the same quality of those from other designer brands at a fraction of the price. Every dress is made-to-measure saving a bride on alterations costs and giving her a beautiful, custom-sewn dress made just for her.

If a bride has an eye on a dress, we encourage her to reach out for a consultation with us over email on our website. We can answer any questions about measurements and custom details all before you buy and no commitment is expected.

We start each individual dressmaking process once an order is received. Our personal design stylists are there to provide the best customer experience. Our design stylists work with a bride from initial inquiries, to helping with dress purchasing, custom requests, follow-up questions, and shipping and receiving. With our dress process, the made-to-measure and custom aspects, and being able to help women and girls in need, we’re doing dresses differently. 

Photo Credit:  Stefanie Kamerman

Photo Credit: Stefanie Kamerman

How can brides find you?

Visit us at and feel free to email us at

Thank you so much Tina for sharing with us today, and Stefanie Kamerman and Paca Lee for the lovely photos! If my hubby and I renew our vows, I definitely know who I'm calling! Brides, I hope you check out Grace + Ivory for your wedding gowns, and tell them I sent you! Share in the comments section the type of silhouette(s) that you love for wedding gowns.

Sensationally yours,




DC Wedding Planning: 3 Things To Consider Before We Start Planning

It's Tip Tuesday! With so many newly engaged couples and folks planning for epic events, I decided it was so important to share some tips to help you as you consider your planning services.

Photo Credit: SC Stockshop

Photo Credit: SC Stockshop

Sensational Soirees is of course here and ready to help you with your beautiful soirees and weddings! We're literally one click or call away. Before or after you hit the contact button on our site, here are some great questions to ask yourself as you prepare to start planning:

1. What are your initial wants?

Rest assured, as planners we are here to assist you with shaping the vision of your event and executing the details and plans so you don't have to do it alone! But before we can present you with a proposal of service and make your event dreams come true, you have to share with us your initial wants.

Now, before you go running to Pinterest to figure out your wants, I would encourage you to grab a pen and paper first, and then sit and imagine your event or wedding. How do you want it to look? How do you want to feel? How do you want your guests to feel? What things would make you happy if they were incorporated in your event? What are your priorities - good food, beautiful decor and/or guest experience? Bring these answers (and your Pinterest board or inspirational photos, too) to your initial planning consultation. I also send all prospective clients a questionnaire, so this is a great place to elaborate on everything you're dreaming up.

2. How much CAN you realistically invest in your event?

While the role of a planner is definitely to help event hosts and couples to navigate budget and all the categories and factors that go into it, it is first good for you to consider how much you can or will financially contribute to your event. This is key whether you're working with a modest or big budget.

When I ask "what's your budget", I would recommend trying to avoid saying that you don't have a budget (even if in your mind you really don't have one yet). Perhaps you're really saying "I have no idea how much events cost" or perhaps "whatever the important things costs, I'll just be willing to pay for it". In either scenario, try to come up with the max amount you believe you are able to invest as this is so helpful. During the planning process, this number may change after I share my expertise and insight on the average costs of the things you want. However, coming to the table with a number is so beneficial, so that I can better advise you upfront based on your budget. 

3. What are you looking for in a planner?

I remember when I was planning to get married 9 years ago, and although the planner in me was being birthed during that time, I 100% knew I needed a professional planner - not a hobbyist. My planner was there every step of the way to cheer me and my husband on towards the aisle, provide expertise on vendors and everything that went into budget, and fully managed the wedding day and my stress level. She was someone who I relied on and someone I valued. To this day, I'm grateful for the investment we made in hiring a planner.

My wedding day was very important to me and required a certain level of service that only a professional planner could provide - again not a hobbyist or venue appointed coordinator. For weddings, I completely recommend hiring a professional planner; otherwise, it will be challenging to ensure your vision is executed and for you to relax on wedding day. For those of you who were like me 9 years ago and know there's no way you alone could plan the type of event or wedding you desire, I encourage you to share how my team can best serve you.

We would love to work with you, but truly believe it's all about making the right match for us both. Therefore, the things you are looking for are so helpful to communicate in your inquiry, questionnaire, and/or during your consultation. Additionally, our planning guide is an added asset, as it highlights the different levels of service we offer. Beyond service offerings, some of things our clients have mentioned that they love about us are: our personalities, background in weddings and special events, responsiveness in communication, creativity, great vendor connections, and being able manage it 'all' so they can relax. Maybe you need someone to help you stay on budget or an assuring voice that the day will go off without a hitch, whatever it is share it with us. When it comes to that over the top party for your child's first birthday, or your corporate holiday party or the day you say I do to the love of your life, we work hard to get to know you, and are eager to provide value to you and your event.

Photo Credit: Rhea Whitney Photography

Photo Credit: Rhea Whitney Photography

I can't wait to learn more about your upcoming wedding or event! Share in the comments section 1 thing you look for in a planner, and stay tuned for a future post where I'll be outlining WHY you should hire a planner.

Sensationally yours,




DC Event Planning: 2 Recent Roll Outs You'll Love

Happy Thursday!

With it being back to school season, it's also a back to blogging season for me. Although it's been pretty quiet on the blog this summer, I was making noise with our amazing summer wedding season! Our July and August couples were so much fun to work with, and I also enjoyed some fun with my family and friends too - so a great summer indeed! How about you? How was your summer? Share in the comments section - I'd love to hear.

With my return to the beloved blog scene, I'm excited to share some news about 2 new roll outs that I hadn't mentioned before summer...and I'm pretty sure you're going to love them:

1. A New Wedding Service

While full service planning remains to be our most popular wedding planning service, I do still have couples who fall in love with partial planning and month of coordination. In the past only full service and partial planning have included design services. Well, I'm pleased to announce that I've restructured our month of coordination to include design - and with this new service, comes a new name: Wedding Execution and Design. 

So what does that mean exactly, you say? This means the couple who has or plans to do all of the wedding planning, but still needs a professional planner to manage the wedding day PLUS "the look" and design details of the wedding, can now have BOTH through our month of execution and design. We step in a few months before the wedding to map out the design of your day and needed vendor partnerships (florals, lighting, rentals etc.), and then 1 month before the big day we go over all the wedding plans and details you executed and step in as the leader for your wedding day, so you can relax and enjoy your special moment.

Why risk being stressed those last months leading up to the big day when a professional is waiting and equipped to give you the assistance you need. This new service will help to make sure your wedding day is absolutely beautiful and that your nerves are calmed just in time for the big day. And guess what?! I have ONE more 2017 slot available, and I'm booking now for 2018 weddings, so let's chat about your big day soon! Shoot me a note here.


2. A New Client Portal for Events

Planners are hired for our ability to make event dreams come true, manage event logistics while keeping everything organized. With that in mind, I've naturally worked so hard to make sure the systems I have in place help to keep both me and my clients organized and in sync at all times. A couple of years ago I fell in love with a client portal site that I use with my wedding couples, and it gives us 24/7 online access to all the details I've added for that specific wedding. The system is so user friendly, and has revolutionized the way I manage event details.

Well this system is now customizable for events and other projects and not just weddings! That's right, whether we work together on a styled shoot, corporate launch party, first birthday soiree, or ladies luncheon you now get the benefit of my fabulous client/project management site. I've customized each client site so that me, my team and clients have:

  • Ease of finding contracts and important event documents

  • Ability to manage guest lists, rsvps, and seating charts

  • Comment/messaging style of communication that keeps conversation strings associated by category, task or vendor that can be referenced historically

  • Access to our customized task list, that is checked off as tasks are completed

  • Calendar to keep track of client and vendor meetings

  • Categorized Budget System that the client and my team have access to update, along with an invoice manager that tracks due dates for all vendor invoices

  • Design Studio to upload photos of event ideas, with the ability to add comments, which limits the need for being inundated with Pinterest

  • Categorized Notes section to house important details

  • My personalized list of vendor referrals and contact list for booked vendors

  • And so much more!


In short, not only do my clients get to enjoy phone chats, coffee meetings and other forms of traditional communication essential for the planning process, but they also get an enhanced experience through this online tool that I customize for each event. Imagine being able to see the important details I notate and upload in ONE place (instead of searching through tons of emails or papers) on our personalized, password protected site for you to easily access at any time. Talk about a godsend right?! My wedding and event clients have been raving about it so much.

AND FOR MY PLANNER FRIENDS - You know I love sharing my tools and tips with you, so if you haven't already, you can integrate this fabulous tool into your business by signing up here.

Tell me if these new enhancements sound like winners to you in the comments section below.

Sensationally yours,




Ready, Set, Go!

August is here!!

This happens to be my favorite month. Why you ask? Aside from a pretty awesome person being born this month (cough, ME!), I love that August represents new beginnings as the 8th month. For the past few days, I've been compelled to take action on some things to launch me into where I see myself in the future, personally and professionally, and what better month than my birthday month to kick things into high gear.

As many of you know, I'm a woman of faith, so I've been in prayer over some big goals and dreams I have.  With 4 more months left in the year, you may have some goals you haven't reached yet too, so I figure we could all use some motivation to finish the year strong, right?! We can do it! I received this text message and photo from my mom this morning out of the blue that I believe is a testament that August is going to be amazing not just for me, but for you, too:

"It's a brand new month."

"It's a brand new month."

As soon as I read it, I had the biggest smile on my face, and was overwhelmed with such renewed optimism. So let this be encouragement to all of you, whether things are going amazingly well or there's some things you really want to achieve - it's a new month and an opportunity for bigger AND better. As I face this new month, I'm also reminded of the message shared by my youth pastor on Sunday, "I'm Next - Ready, Set, Go"! I used to run track, so I'm channeling the former sprinter in me and my laser focused instinct to push out of the blocks and cross the white line as a champion. We all have our own race to run and dreams to achieve, so I hope you win, too! Even if things aren't happening as fast as you want them to, be confident in knowing you're next :)

What's one goal that you've achieved thus far this year? Share below, so I can celebrate your win and your many wins ahead. I'll go first, one of my goals was to do 2 styled shoots this year, and I'm happy to share I have already done both which were amazing! I may even surpass this goal, as I have more inspiration burning in me that I have to let out in design. Hope you have a great start to the month!

Sensationally yours,