Rene'John Designs

Blogging Beautifully For Today’s Brides

Blair Phillips Photography – Vendor Spotlight

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Blair Phillips Photography


I want to feel like a “Rock Star”.  Well Blair of  Blair Phillips Photography will grant you your wish!   Photography on the edge with grit and style is how I would describe this photographer’s style.  Each picture is a work of art that delivers so much emotion.  When viewing his work, you look at the faces of his clients and wonder what their thinking as Blair seems to bring out parts of their psyche that they are not even aware of.   I am a huge fan of this photographer and I know that you will love his work as well !

Meet Blair Phillips and Enjoy Beauty!


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RJD:   Blair do you have a background in fashion photography?  Your pictures are sleek, modern and sophisticated like a New York City fashion shoot.

BPP:  I do not have a formal background/training in any particular style of photography.  I am self- taught and I seem to have a natural talent.  However, my photography style has been described as eclectic elegance.  I feel that there are too many photographers photographing the same things.  Blair Phillips Photography  likes to be different!   Our company has been recognized as an international award-winning photography studio.  I am also a national speaker/educator to other photographers.  And we have been featured on a nationally syndicated Lifetime wedding television show.  We are very excited!  

RJD:   How long have you been photographing brides? 

BPP:  We have been in the business for 4 years now and photograph between 40-60 weddings per year and 200+ studio sessions per year.  It’s a lot but we love it!

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RJD:   What would you say is your work ethic?

BPP:  Work hard and play hard!  Giving brides something different and edgy.  Our new studio is a couture studio and we like to give a posh, high-end, unforgettable experience to each client.


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RJD:   Tell us about your favorite wedding experience?

BPP:  Well, we had a bridal couple that planned something pretty spectacular!  The groom was raised by his stepfather, but still had his biological last name from his father.  The bridal couple had their last name legally changed to the stepfather’s last name on their marriage certificate.  So, at the altar after the preacher announced them as bride and groom, he said “I now present to you, Mr. and Mrs.  and the new last name (of the step father).   None of the parents had any idea.  They were blown away…still gives me chill bumps!

RJD:  Wow, that’s amazing!  What a beautiful story!!

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RJD:  Where do you see Blair Phillips Photography  in 5 years?

BPP:  HUGE!!  I expect us to still be in the area, but traveling to major cities as our destination wedding division expands. We hopefully will still be educating other photographers on a national circuit (as I am doing now).   And still giving our bridal couples the experience of a lifetime!

November 2, 2009 Posted by | Local Flava, Vendor Spotlight | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vendor Spotlight


Who’s your cake boss?  My cake boss is Gail Ciriello of Cheesecake Etc. .  I have known Gail for about seven years now and what most impresses me about Gail is her tireless work ethic.  She works very hard at what she does and I have watched her business grow as a result.  Gail cares for her clients and wants them to have the best on their special day.  Her cakes are amazing! And they taste as good as they look!


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Peninsula Yacht Club - Charlotte, NC


Meet Gail Ciriello and Enjoy Beauty!


RJD:  How long have you been making these amazing wedding cakes?

Gail:  I have been making wedding cakes for eleven years.


RJD:  Why does cake baking give you so much joy?

Gail:  I grew up in an Italian family where we lived to eat instead of eating to live.  Baking was a daily occurence but the sweet stuff was a special treat.


RJD:  Do you have a nightmare story about a wedding cake that you totally turned around in time for the wedding?  How did you handle it?

Gail:  Anyone who has been in business this long has at least one nightmare story to share.  My worst was when I had to make a delivery in downtown Charlotte for a Friday wedding.  The cake was a huge 5-tier with white icing and intricate dark brown scrolls piped all over it.    A city bus pulled out in front of me and when I hit my brakes , the sections of the cake slid into one another.  So much for my  beautiful brown scrolls.  As I often transport my cakes in sections and assemble them onsite, I was prepared with extra icing for such an emergency.  So when I pulled into the parking deck of the venue, I set up my delivery cart right there in the parking deck.  I scraped off all the ruined icing and re-iced the cake.  When I delivered it, it was perfect and the ordeal was invisible to my bride!


RJD:  How do you help your brides with the cake design process?

Gail:  I meet with all my brides for an inital consultation that includes both a tasting and design session.  I ask her questions about the venue, the style of the wedding, the food they are serving, the time, and what she wants her “dream” cake to look like.  Many brides already have definite ideas.  For those that don’t, I have tons of pictures for them to look through to get them inspired.  I try to make each cake unique for that bride and her special day.  I am NOT a fan of “cookie cutter” cakes.  Basically – I LISTEN!


RJD:  In this economy how do you work with budget conscious brides?

Gail:  There are many ways to work with a budget conscious bride.  We can limit the flavor and filling choices, make the cake a bit less extravagant or the most popular way is to create a smaller cake that is exactly what the bride wants and supplement the extra servings with a sheet cake.


RJD:  What do you feel is your best contribution to your couples?

Gail:  I am passionate about what I do!!  I believe that most bakeries can make a cake look good but not all can make them taste good too!  Brides do not have to settle for one or the other.    When a bride books with me, she can be confident that her cake will be made from scratch and that I understand exactly what she wants.  I bake the cake AND decorate it so nothing is lost in communication with other employees.  The buck starts and stops with me! 



August 25, 2009 Posted by | Local Flava, Tastebud Treats, Vendor Spotlight | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vendor Spotlight

OOH La-La, Tuxedos!



Sandra & Dwight Hailstock

I have been blessed to know some professionals in this business that will lend a hand without you even asking.  Sandra and Dwight Hailstock, owners of  The Formal Touch are two such people.  When I arrived in Charlotte some 8 years ago, I met Sandra and Dwight and they were so nice to me.  They offered their studio as a place that I could advertise.   They are always there if you need them.  This same altruistic attitude is shown in the excellent service offered to their customers.  Your experience with The Formal Touch will be one that is enjoyable and informative in a warm and friendly environment where service is first.


Meet Sandra and Dwight and Enjoy Beauty!


RJD:  How long have you been in the formal wear business and why do you love it so much?  

TFT:  We will celebrate 10 years in the formal wear business on August 2, 2009.  We love it so much because it is such an honor to be a small part of such a special day in someone’s life.  We enjoy working with the bride and groom to get just the look they are hoping for with the coordination of colors and style.


RJD:  What is your favorite style of tuxedo and why?

TFT:  Well, the style is different from the groom to the groomsmen because typically we are trying to make the groom stand out with his coat style, while with the groomsmen, we are trying to show color with the vest and tie.  Based on those reasons, our favorite tuxedo for a groom would be the Trilogy II by Oscar de la Renta and the one button Notch Tuxedo for the groomsmen.







RJD:  What wedding experience touched you the most? 

TFT:  Probably when Chancellor Adams was the ring bearer in a wedding that we provided tuxedos for.  As you know, his mother was shot while pregnant with him and subsequently died and he sustained some challenges in life.  He was such a delight when he was in the store for his fitting and he would have been such a joy to his mother had she lived.


RJD:  In this economy, how do you work with budget conscious brides?

TFT:  We have the ability to give them options because we have so many styles of tuxedos and accessories.  They can choose a more expensive tuxedo but choose to select a less expensive style of shoe or vice versa to keep the cost down.  We also offer a ring bearer special which helps to keep the cost down for any children in the wedding.



RJD:  What do you feel is your best contribution to your couples?

TFT:  We sincerely hope that our best contribution is to provide the very best not just in selection but most importantly, EXCELLENT SERVICE and the confidence that they can count on us to come through for them even when their guys don’t quite do what they’re asked to do.

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Local Flava, Vendor Spotlight | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vendor Spotlight

Tommy McCart

Gracious, humble, and extremely talented.  These are words that describe Tommy of  Tommy McCart Photography.  His style of photography is fresh and original exhibiting a photojournalistic styling that enables his clients to relive their special day over and over again.  What a pleasure it has been to work with Tommy and to know him as the kind and truly caring professional that he is. 



Meet Tommy McCart and Enjoy Beauty!


RJD:  What made you become a photographer?

Tommy:  I always had a love for photography. I was given a camera  as a Christmas
gift at the age of 8 from my parents.  As a child I used to set up scenes with
my toys and photograph them.  It was so silly.  I later realized that I loved
photographing people, capturing their emotions, etc.  After that I was
hooked and I have never let my passion die!


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RJD:  What is your favorite style of photography and why?

Tommy:  My favorite style of photography is what I call natural photography.  It is
telling a story with images.  It captures my client’s special day in their
style, while telling their story.  I love when  my clients tell me that they had no
idea that I had captured all of those special moments.  They didn’t  even remember me being in the room.   I was totally unobtrusive!


RJD:  What wedding experience touched you the most?

Tommy:  I  had a bride about a year ago that had  survived brain cancer. The bride and
her mother were wonderful, strong people. They looked at life in a whole new
light and her wedding so embraced that! It was a wonderful celebration and
I felt honored to be there to capture such a wonderful time in all of their


RJD:  In this economy how do you work  with budget conscious brides?

Tommy:  In today’s economy , couples are still getting married, they are just on
smaller budgets.  We custom create wedding packages to work with many budgets.  We are a team of four photographers willing to work with you and address your particular needs!


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RJD:  What do you feel is your best contribution to your couples? 

Tommy:  My photography is of course my best contribution to my clients’ special day.  But beyond that I feel that our customer service ranks really high.  This shows  in our level of service and excellence in photography.  This is what I have been told by my wonderful clients.  Their needs and vision for their day is our first priority!  I approach each and every wedding as if it were my first.  With each wedding I demonstrate the same drive and creative determination that I have shown in every wedding that I’ve done before.

August 14, 2009 Posted by | Local Flava, Vendor Spotlight | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment