February 10, 2018
Today was a thrilling day – our Atlanta shoot at the historic Swan House was featured on Magnolia Rouge!
This was such an inspirational project, one that definitely fueled my passion and reminded me why I love what I do. I thrive working in new places with fresh faces and this team was one for the books. Everyone brought so much heart and creativity to this shoot to introduce something different to the wedding market. I think it sparked something special inside each of us…and it is such a treat to have it showcased by Magnolia Rouge.
From the article:
We have the most wonderful colour explosion on the blog today with this vibrant and non-traditional Indian wedding inspiration by SANSAARA PHOTOGRAPHY. Styled by EVENTS BY REAGAN and captured at the exquisite venue SWAN HOUSE AT THE ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER it features an unexpected colour palette of coral, blue & yellow.
Bijal & Anul of SANSAARA PHOTOGRAPHY tell us, “We approached this idea from a perspective of respecting traditions, honouring the past, while reaching for something different, more in the present. Weddings in the present day aren’t one dimensional anymore, they’re much more. They are a blend of cultures and traditions, highlighting what they have in common rather than differences. It’s that essence that we wanted to speak to. Traditional Indian weddings have lots of gold and burgundy tones, and whilst those colours are beautiful we wanted to introduce an unexpected blend of colours and textures that speak to the modern, sophisticated bride & groom.
We teamed up with the incredibly wonderful Reagan Barnes of EVENTS BY REAGAN who shared our enthusiasm and helped us bring this passion project to life. Keeping with the idea of past and present, we chose the Swan House in Atlanta, Georgia for its history, we chose the south for it’s traditions, and infused something new. We brought together fresh colour palettes with lively hues of corals, blues and yellows in the dress; untraditional blooms with interesting textures and hints of gold in the shoes and jewelery. We mixed metals and glassware with fine vintage china and more rustic silverware. Through our incredibly talented team, our aim was to show the possibilities of the unexpected.“
Click here to view the full feature and for more lovely images here’s a link to the full gallery!
Thank you for the incredible team of vendors who made this possible:
Photography: Sansaara Photography | Venue: The Swan House | Florals: Ginger Rose | Printed Materials: de Plume | Calligraphy: loveletter studio | Cake: Cake Envy | Rentals: Crush Event Rentals | China: Vintage English Teacup | Linens: The French Table | Make Up: Teri-Lyn Hiroshige | Hair: DG Hair Artistry | Bridal Shop: Ladlee
February 6, 2018
For the last five years, I have been positioning myself more and more as a destination wedding planner. In truth, it began out of necessity when my husband was in the Marine Corps which took me away from my full time home of Charleston. While work always brought me back “home” to Charleston, I leveraged my new traveling role into one that served my clients…and it worked.
Each year I add at least one new town to my list of destinations and my goal for 2018 has been to expand to new international venues (read more about my international plans and journey here…). Having just booked a wedding outside the Loire Valley in France, I am reminded of my passion for travel as well as of all the things I’ve learned along the way.
So today I highlight the four lessons I’ve learned as a destination wedding planner…
1. Research, research, research.
If planning destination weddings was easy, everyone would do it right? Planning a wedding, especially one internationally, involves immensely more work than a wedding in your own town (see my blog post on destination weddings and all the work that goes into it for more on this…). You are charting new territory and more than likely have limited personal referrals to rely on if the wedding is abroad.
Start vetting your vendors by asking your venue for referrals of previous clients. Contact them and ask them about their experience. Knowing that every wedding and budget is different, ask if they would mind sharing a few photos so you can get an idea of the scope of their wedding and how it may compare to yours. While their experience is highly valuable, it is equally important to ensure that your expectations and theirs match up.
After identifying a few vendors in each category, become an investigative detective. Scour their social media accounts, read client reviews (particularly reviews hosted by Google, Facebook, or TripAdvisor, as the vendor cannot control or manipulate these), take note of publications they’ve been featured in, and pay attention to the dates of posted work and reviews to ensure they are actively involved in the market and currently creating events.
Feel like you’ve reached a dead end on one vendor but have really hit it off with another? Ask the vendor you’ve found for their recommendations. They have assumedly done many events in the area and can prove to be an incredibly valuable asset in helping you complete your vendor list. In many ways, vendors are better references than previous clients because they have worked with other vendors in many different capacities (venues, budgets, formats, etc.).
Once you’ve decided to inquire with a vendor, ask for referrals of past clients again. Likely they will send you happy former clients however usually clients are willing to be candid and share things that they may have done differently had they know X, Y and Z.
At the end of the day, if you have thoroughly done your homework and still have a feeling one way or the other, I’m a big believer of trusting your gut. Never go into your wedding with an uneasy feeling. Do everything you can in advance to wipe away any nerves by booking vendors you trust!
2. Budget thoroughly.
This point can be true for any wedding, domestic or abroad, however we dig a little deeper when dealing with destinations and foreign markets.
First thing’s first. Get a complete picture of the overall event before pulling triggers. Before contracting your venue, signing on the dotted line with a photographer, or loosely promising guests an invitation to the fabulous destination wedding you’re planning, do your due diligence. This means:
– Crunch the numbers.
– Obtain sample budgets.
– Look at budget minimums of vendors. If their minimums are too high for your budget, don’t contact them.
– Consider travel costs of vendors.
– Will you incur any shipping charges for getting supplies to the destination?
– Thoroughly investigate the venue’s contract for any additional services that they require and do not provide (i.e. lighting, sound, restrooms, security, transportation, cleaning services, trash removal, etc).
– Consider exchange rates! This point may be the most important. Ignoring exchange rates may add up to thousands of dollars that you otherwise did not budget for. Keep tabs on what the current rate is and continuously check it throughout your engagement. To be safe, add a contingency budget line item in case the exchange rate changes against your favor.
Doing all of this will shake out any potential surprises and hidden fees that may otherwise back yourself into a financial corner.
As eager as you’ll be to book everyone and everything that you want, practice a bit of patience so that you don’t put the wedding of your dreams at risk. Be smart, do your homework.
3. Timeline = Lifeline
As with budgeting, this is true for any wedding but more so for one that involves traveling. Even as you begin initial discussions of your wishes, begin a timeline and start mapping out the sequence of events. It will help give you a realistic picture of what is feasible as well as a guide for contracting your vendors.
Your thorough and comprehensive timeline must begin from the moment of your arrival through the event weekend and your departure.
If you are unable to visit the destination before arriving, allow plenty of time the week of the wedding to conduct site visits, view rentals, and troubleshoot if need.
Planning on sourcing your reception wine locally with your beau? Or would you like to purchase regional delicacies to package as favors? *Wink, wink to my French bride if you’re reading this.* Consider the size of your rental car and be sure that you allow ample time to not only accomplish the tasks but to savor each as well. You are building an experience of a lifetime. Don’t rush it!
Building in time to solve any unforeseen problems will give you the cushion you need to make things right while still allowing yourself time to relax and enjoy your guests in the beautiful location you’ve so carefully chosen.
4. Have back up plans.
Have as many back up plans as possible. This goes beyond planning for rain. Lost luggage? Trouble with customs? Issues with your credit card? Did something you shipped weeks ago not arrive?
There are numerous things that could go awry when traveling. Knowing this and maintaining a laid back attitude help but planning for them is the best thing to do.
Plan to carry on the most important items you’re traveling with such as the wedding dress and rings. I would add the printed materials to my carry on as well as any other custom details we worked so carefully to design.
Notify your banks not only of your travels but of your higher than usual spending. There’s nothing like a $30,000 overseas catering bill to set off all of the alarms at your credit card company!
You get the gist. Be the savvy traveler you surely already are and recognize that you must be extra diligent when traveling for a destination wedding you have so carefully planned.
All photos in this post are amateur behind-the-scenes snaps from my working travels!
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December 15, 2017
The question has been popped, you have a sparkly new addition on your left hand, and your mind is a flurry of excitement and decisions yet to be made. Being the go-getter that you are, you create a planning notebook, get vendor recommendations from recently married friends, and start making your first few inquiries. You’ve got this, right?! And then the swarm of questions start hitting you from every angle, you have another full time job that is not wedding planning to stay on top of, and things start piling up. Slowly but surely, stress starts to slip into the flirty fun process of planning your wedding and suddenly this endeavor doesn’t seem so easy anymore. That’s where I can help! If you find yourself in this position or are contemplating whether or not you need a wedding planner, here are my top reasons to hire one (now).
1. Streamline your ideas
While ideas are not something you’re short on (have you seen your Pinterest page?!), making sense of them and turning them into reality can be a challenge. One of the greatest things a wedding planner can do is help you sift through your thoughts, identify priorities, and establish order that will lead to the cohesive look you’re after. It is the job of a wedding planner to listen, decipher, and assist you design. Not only do we hear your wishes and desires, your thoughts are often incredible springboards for greater ideas better than you ever imagined…and who doesn’t want that?
Rose Garden Romance
2. Keep you on track
Now that you have a direction, who is helping you stay on track? You have decisions to make, deadlines to meet, and a budget to stick to. So you decided to splurge and add some brass to your band (always a great choice!), that means some shifting needs to take place within the budget so you don’t go over. I always tell my clients that I am their greatest advocate for sticking to their budget and will be the first to point out any time we are faced with a decision to stretch the limits. I weigh pros and cons and advise on what decisions are worth it and which will go unnoticed if you don’t go the extra mile. Your decisions need to be impactful (and timely) so that you achieve the greatest bang for your buck and don’t waste unnecessary funds on rush fees or late penalties.
Al Fresco by the Sea
3. Eliminate the pressure
Weddings and the pressure that inevitable comes along with them tend to bring out the best, and sadly sometimes the worst, in those involved. Maybe you never knew that your fiancé has this thing about sweating and refuses to have any aspect of the wedding outside, or your future in-laws insist on inviting every third cousin and their children, or better yet, your mother tells you this is her day and you can plan your wedding when you have a daughter? Ahh! So much emotion swirling about the biggest day of your life and suddenly you feel like everything is teetering on thin ice. In steps your wedding planner… Let your wedding planner serve as a mediator to ensure that everyone’s wishes are heard and a solution is found that makes everyone happy. Remove yourself from the equation and any potential stress. Enjoying your engagement and not losing site of why you are planning your wedding is my number one goal – that and allowing you and your family to feel like guests at your own occasion. No one has time for stress. Save yourself the headache, protect your relationships, and hire a wedding planner! (Read my post “Enjoying your Engagement” for more encouragement!)
Al Fresco by the Sea
4. Vendor connections
You have tons of friends who will hook you up with all the vendors you need, right? Wrong! This is quite possibly one of the most undervalued reasons to hire a wedding planner! Maybe your friends had very different budgets than you, had other priorities, and opposite tastes? While vendors can be versatile to meet everyone’s needs, wedding planners can place you with vendors who are a perfect fit and not someone who is adjusting their usual practices to make it work for you. You wouldn’t see a plastic surgeon who specializes in facelifts to get a nose job, would you? So why go with a wedding vendor who does not specialize in the style of photography or floral design that you are after? A wedding planner will help identify which vendors make the most sense for your vision and your budget. Utilize our well-established, veteran vendor relationships to your advantage!
Rose Garden Romance
5. They make it happen!
There’s paperwork, confirmations, invitation assembly, welcome gift delivery, set up, breakdown, orchestration of vendors, troubleshooting, execution, and much much more behind the scenes activity. At the end of the day, do you want to be the one juggling the 50+ hats that a wedding planner wears throughout your engagement but, most importantly, on your wedding day? When you are reading a heartfelt note from your groom, do you really want to be the point of contact for the band that’s calling to let you know they’ve broken down on the side of the road or for the hair stylist who is trying to call in sick? Leave the interruptions and problem solving up to your wedding planner. If there’s a glitch, it can be handled without ever having to worry you. A wedding planner makes your life easier as well as those of all vendors involved. If you had to identify one reason to hire a wedding planner, this is it!
Floral Island Romance
While I could go on and on with more reasons to enlist the professional help of a wedding planner, I leave you with this: this is a once-in-a-lifetime event and you deserve the best. A wedding planner will ensure that you have the wedding experience you’ve always dreamt of and leave you with memories to cherish for the rest of your life.
Recently engaged or know someone who is? Pass this post along and send them my way! My team and I are ready to assist near and far, where ever your dream wedding may be.
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December 4, 2017
It’s the season of giving and who is more giving than the serial hostess in your life? We all have someone who comes to mind. Beyond hosting the annual parties, it’s the person who always invites you and the children over to make Christmas cookies, trim the tree, or just share each other’s company over an expertly crafted charcuterie board and wine.
One of the most fun parts of entertaining is getting creative with your serviceware. Maybe it’s a signature cocktail glass or an interesting plate choice that bring your hostessing game to the next level. So if you want to give your favorite hostess a gift that is sure to make her smile, consider some of these pretties!
La Double J. Plates, 6 for $250
1. Patterned dessert plates
Color, color, color! Everywhere you turn, color and pattern are trending and people are not afraid to use it – finally! These Italian imports are making me green with envy.
Vietri Regalia Glassware, 4 for $260
2. Statement glassware
In keeping with the current love of color and pattern, how great are these Vietri glasses? I’m all about the vibrant, mid-century modern look these convey. It’s like instant decor in the hands of your guests!
Side note: I have been finding tons of mid-century modern glassware in vintage antique stores for a tiny fraction of the cost. If you like treasure hunting, hit up your nearest vintage store and stock up! I have more than I know what to do with…
3. Gilded dishware
Metallic accents are everywhere and I’m loving it. They add a touch of glam to an otherwise blah piece. These four gilded pieces particularly caught my eye. Oh how I’d love to add these to my table!
Muriel Grateau Brazilia Porcelain Tableware
Anna by Rablabs Dual Bowl, $85
Ripple Bowl by Me Speak Design, $65
Tom Dixon bowls, 5 for $100
Consider yourself inspired! Now go treat that special hostess in your life to a gift that’s particularly thoughtful and one she’s sure to love.
December 1, 2017
‘Tis the season! May the whirlwind of holiday parties and cocktail chatter begin. As the anticipation builds for some of the best annual parties in town, today I’m sharing some of this season’s entertaining must-knows along with every day simple tips so that your holiday party can be a seamless success.
The overall theme of what I’m seeing in entertaining these days is a no fuss approach. It’s less about formality than it is about presenting a comfortable environment that’s conducive to a good time….which brings me to trend #1.
1. Bring out the bar carts
As a hostess, the first thing you should ask your guests after welcoming them and taking their coats is if they would like a drink. In a perfect world, you would be able to ask and serve every person however the realist in you knows that unless you have ten clones of yourself, this is not possible. If you can’t attend to everyone, ensure that a drink is within reach anywhere they may go.
Position a bar cart or designate a table in each room with easy access to select wines, beers, and spirits. Since space is limited on bar carts, consider designating those as a build-it-yourself specialty cocktail stations with cute finishing instructions to accompany your perfectly planned glassware and garnishes.
Just remember, the ability to grab a drink easily is a quick way to put your guests at ease and start any party off on the right foot.
2. Eclectic for the win
Nothing says laid back, relaxed like an eclectic mix of serving pieces…which surely works in your favor because chances are you don’t have enough matching plates and glassware for everyone. So embrace the imperfect and settle on a theme such as color palette or metallics rather than getting caught up on having the same Christmas tree china pattern throughout (besides, that’s boring!).
Lately I’ve been inspired by a San Francisco champagne bar that has a vast collection of vintage champagne buckets collected over time, many found at flea markets. The bar tailors which bucket is served to guests based on what their perceived style may be. Such a personal touch, don’t you think? Dust off that old champagne bucket you never use and bring it to life! Add some personality to your party.
3. Embrace color
Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean that everything must be red and green or silver and blue. Color is alive everywhere you look in decor, so embrace it this holiday season! Are you a hot pink personality? Well then tie your wreath with a stretch of fuchsia velvet ribbon to make things merry and bright. Think brights are better left for the summer but still want to branch out from the classics? I love how Monika Hibbs styled the second mantle with various shades of blush pink and ivory. So fresh!
4. Moscato and sardines…
Excuse me? Dear Food & Wine, I love you and look forward to my issue every month but I think we may be missing the mark here.
According to Food & Wine, the hottest trend in holiday hors d’oeuvres is canned seafood – sardines, smelt, octopus, you name it. The magazine claims this salty shelf item will be your new secret weapon. Hmmm…I have yet to be convinced.
The magazine is also backing moscato, an endorsement I was surprised to see considering the varietal’s perpetual bad rap. If I had to guess, it may have to do more with the fact that there is now an American version of the wine created by a handful of LA restaurateurs and not so much its “complex” character. 😉
5. Ginger, apple, bourbon cocktail
While this may not be trending, when is bourbon at holiday parties ever out of style? Nothing quite warms me up on a cold winter’s day than a nice bourbon cocktail. Add this ginger, apple, bourbon cocktail to your build-it-yourself specialty bar cart drink and consider yourself done. It is composed of fresh cider, ginger beer, and bourbon in a 2-2-1 ratio. It is sure to be a crowd pleaser and will have people coming back for more.
For more holiday cocktail ideas, here’s a link to more!
Want to stay in the know on the latest trends in entertaining and receive monthly tips and updates from me? Join my “Monthly Musings” mailing list – click here!
Happy holidays, y’all!
November 23, 2017
As I sit here waiting on the dressing to come out of the oven so I can pop in the pumpkin pie, I thought I’d share with you what I’m really looking forward to this Thanksgiving: tomorrow’s leftovers!
I’m talking about a turkey sandwich on white bread with cranberry sauce, lettuce, mayo, and just maybe some of the dressing that’s in the over right now…yum!
This year thanks to Bon Appétit I have a new twist to try: Gravy Mayo. Mayo + leftover gravy + a few fresh herbs, miso, and lemon juice…are you drooling yet?
Here’s a link to the must-see recipe. You can THANK me later. 😉
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
November 8, 2017
Photo credit: Ester & Erik
For the last several months, I have been crushing hard on taper candles. Tapers started off as the candle I loved to hate…just the wrong positioning too close to the path of an air vent and the entire candle would be gone in no time, leaving a waxy mess behind and a ruined tabletop. For those who know me, you know I can be stubborn…so I stubbornly gave tapers the cold shoulder until I couldn’t any longer. Now it’s a full on taper love affair.
Oh, the colors! The widths! The textures! I love them all!
The thing I love the most about tapers is that they are a quick and easy way to make a statement on a table without going overboard with much else. Simple dinner party for four? Whip out a new box of colored tapers to send your everyday dining table over the top. No time to pick up flowers? Cluster an array of bright tapers on your table and voila! an instant centerpiece.
The other great thing about tapers is that they are not as pricey as the pillar candles I have loved for years. With shorter lifespans, you can treat tapers like accessories and change it up with the season or even just your mood (why not?!).
I just used these rust tapers from Williams-Sonoma for a styled shoot at The Swan House in Atlanta. These thin, delicate beauties looked like dynamite in the small iron candlesticks we placed them in. This would be a great color to spruce up your Thanksgiving table! (Images from that shoot coming soon…)
Recently I planned an incredible 60th birthday celebration for one heck of a woman. We used sleek black table candles with colorful florals on top of this dramatic table at R24 Studios. To me, black candles were were the only way to go in this space!
These mercury taper candles from World Market may be on my short list for holiday decor. I have a zinc dining room table and love mixed metals. Imagine how these tapers will glisten with their reflective surfaces!
Looking for a great hostess gift as we go into this holiday season? Who wouldn’t love these thin 12″ beeswax taper candles? Such a chic gift, eight for just $30.
Now what excuse can I find to use these dramatic and sexy Ester and Erik tapers? Talk about a show stopper! …and if you haven’t heard of Ester and Erik, follow them on instagram…you’ll get lost in the colors and styles they offer!
So much eye candy, so many reasons to host a gathering! Below are more inspiration photos I pulled from Pinterest that have my mind reeling with ideas.
I hope these inspire you as well. Happy decorating!
November 1, 2017
Kansas City Wedding Videography – Brooke and Sean – Sneak Peek Wedding Trailer from creative films on Vimeo.
One of the best parts of concluding a wedding is receiving the film from the videographer! You can often find me curled up by my desk with the goofiest smile on my face, usually crying happy tears…who am I kidding, this happens every time!
This one is no exception! Creative Films delivered and boy-oh-boy I cannot wait to see what she has in store for their full length film.
If anyone in KC (or beyond!) looking for a fabulous videographer, this is your gal!
Want to see more beautiful images from Brooke and Sean’s big day? Click here!
October 27, 2017
Last weekend Brooke and Sean were married in downtown Kansas City and celebrated with pomp and circumstance fit for royalty! 57 caterers, 12 bartenders, 20 florists, 3 lighting technicians, 4 photographers, 2 videographers, 4 event planners, 5 band members, 1 cake designer, 6 hair and make up artists, 8 bridesmaids, 9 groomsmen, 7 ushers, 6 flower girls, 3 ring bearers, and 440 guests. To say “it took an army” couldn’t have been more true.
Kansas City Wedding Videography – Brooke and Sean – Sneak Peek Wedding Trailer from creative films on Vimeo.
Thank you to the incredible vendors who helped make this day happen:
October 25, 2017
The air is crisp, leaves are turning, and it finally feels like fall! So what better way to welcome the season than with a feature in Wedding Chicks?
They’re calling it “How to have a Moody Modern + Rustic Fall Wedding Day.” This shoot was a ton of fun to design and I had the best time spearheading it with dear friend and talented photographer, Leigh Miller. This is for the texture-loving, color-loving bride. Go bold or go home!
Link to the full feature here – and more images here.
Excerpts from the article below. Enjoy!
So Fall is upon us, and what better reason to get your moody modern vibe on is there? Deep maroons and burgundy color palettes and mixing minimalist style with cozy textures just makes us want to curl up near a roaring fire as we clutch our coveted seasonal PSL.
This gorgeous shoot took that rustic barn style and classed it up to a level we weren’t even aware of! To see more just keep scrolling and don’t miss out on a single detail, we have a full gallery that is packed with stunning fall decor thanks to the talents of Leigh Miller Photography and Events by Reagan!
Venue + Candles
This boho barn shoot is full of inspiration for the bride who is not afraid of deep, rich colors and one that had the cattle rancher doing a double take. Our setting was the most unassuming of locations: a historic 1879 barn on an operating cattle ranch in. The barn’s interior was filled with unbelievable textures of exposed stones and weathered wide plank floors, expansive barn doors, cathedral heigh ceilings, and towering windows that let sunbeams shine through. Once inside, you felt as though you had discovered a hidden treasure, a portal back in time. It was the perfect setting for our shoot.
Ceremony + Barn
We focused on color and textures to create a moody and romantic setting, mixing custom elements with easily accessible store bought items. The wine colored velvet linen, plum feathered pillows (Target purchase!), mixed metals, and lush florals really popped against the natural textures of the old, worn barn. Toss in lots and lots of candles and (voila!), a dramatic ceremony setting.
Good Earth Floral knocked the florals out of the park and must have jumped inside my mind when I said we wanted a moody, dripping candle ceremony setting. Ashley truly brought my vision to life…and if you only knew the fear that coursed through our veins as we lit all of those little candles on wobbly 137 year old barn planks.
Table + Pillow
The dinner table was set under a low lying branch of an old oak tree. Wooden benches with pillows tied in the formal table to the more rustic barn setting. Marble tiles (from Home Depot!) with gold calligraphy atop a patterned napkin served as place cards for each guest and colorful jewel toned and pink pastel votives littered the center of the table.
Flowers + Calligraphy
Florals of deep burgundy and peach with trailing greenery loosely draped over their brass containers created a bohemian yet sophisticated setting.
Loveletter Studio’s dramatic modern calligraphy was striking in wine colored ink against our sultry florals and velvet table linen.
Bride + Groom
The bride was dressed in a form fitting gown with a free flowing skirt from Altar Bridal. She was accessorized with a fur shrug and striking burgundy velvet heels. Her real life groom wore a gray plaid suit with plum accents and their chemistry was off the charts!
It takes passion and (sometimes) guts to get the job done! After sharing a toast of sparkling rosé in gold etched champagne chalice and a piece naked wedding cake, the couple was sent off under a shower of gold confetti! This shoot was the marriage of many unexpected design elements, resulting in a bunch of sexy inspiration!
Much love to all of these lovely vendors!
Photography: Leigh Miller Photography
Venue: The Historic Taylor Barn
Florals: Good Earth Floral Design Studio
Bridal Gown: Altar Bridal
Groom’s Attire: Banana Republic
Hair & Make Up: Magdalena Styles
Calligraphy: Loveletter Studio
Cake: McLain’s Bakery
Linen: La Tavola Fine Linen
Glassware: West Elm, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn