Friday, October 29, 2010

A 'Big Apple' Halloween

Happy Halloween, everyone! This weekend, I'm off to NYC with my sister, who's visiting all the way from California, plus Stephen and his best friend. It will be our first Halloween spent in the Big Apple, and we're definitely hoping it will be fun and action-packed.

To help kick off the weekend, here are some spooky and kooky Halloween wedding ideas I've read and heard about over the years.

• At an outdoor wedding, incorporate a haunted house or haunted maze as part of the fun.

• Create bouquets of black, white and red roses for the bridal party.

• Feature a candy buffet serving classic Halloween favorites, such as fun-sized chocolates and caramel apples.

• Serve a Halloween-themed drink, like a Bloody Mary or pumpkin-spiced apple cider.

• Host a masquerade-themed reception, giving each guest a mask.

• Mix carved white and orange jack-o-lanterns as centerpieces.

• Hold your ceremony in an old, rustic church.

• Invite a fortune teller to set up a booth at your reception.

Have you ever attended a Halloween-themed wedding? What are your plans this weekend?

(Photo Credits: Google Images)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sugar Rush: Candy Table Tips From A Pro (Part Two)

Candy table guru Frances has so much good advice, I decided to spread it out over two days. Enjoy the second installment of her helpful tips!

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in putting together a candy table, and how did you deal with it?

The biggest challenge I've faced is the weather. Chocolate melts easily, and it can be hard to have a candy table during the summer or even outdoors on a nice day. In these situations, I load up on hard candy and items like popcorn or Rice Krispies treats, while trying to minimize the chocolate's exposure to the elements.

What are some of the most unique candy table items or ideas you’ve seen used? Are there any specific treats you’d recommend for guests who aren’t able to consume sugar?

When planning out a candy table, I think it's important to include choices that the guests of honor like. It is, after all, their celebration. If you're trying to limit the sugar level, include sugar-free candy and popcorn, plus yogurt-covered items and candy-coated selections like pretzels.

Do you have any other advice or comments you’d like to share?

Remember that the point of a candy buffet is to provide variety. It also isn't Halloween, where you have to send your guests home with pounds of candy. Use small bags or boxes so that guests don't overstuff, and use small scoops with your candy. In my experience, while you should make sure you have enough candy overall, remember that most people won't take one of everything. Rather, they'll choose a few of their favorites. For example, there is no need to provide 100 candy bars for 100 guests. You can get away with 75 bars, because some people might not like that type of candy and will pick something else from the table.

What do you think of Frances' tips? Are you ready to go out and create a candy table for your next party?

Want even more inspiration? Check out Amy Atlas' fabulous blog, where Frances gets a lot of her great ideas!

(Photo Credits: Lollipops & Paper)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I’m Going To St. Maarten!

I guess it must be my lucky day, because although I’ve won a giveaway here and there in the past, imagine my thrill this morning to find out that I am the winner of the biggest and best giveaway ever – a week at the beautiful Westin St. Maarten! Stephen and I are SO excited, and so grateful to The Relentless Bride and Weddzilla for hosting this awesome giveaway.

Of course, I’ll let you know just when we’ll be going, and I'll also be sure to blog all about it. For now, here’s a little preview of what I have to look forward to! Happy Wedding Wednesday!

(Photo Credit: Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa) 

Sugar Rush: Candy Table Tips From A Pro (Part One)

Who doesn’t love walking into a wedding reception and seeing a beautiful table just loaded with delicious treats? I know I certainly do, and that’s why I’ve invited the talented Frances from Lollipops & Paper to share advice and inspiration about this fun and popular trend. Just in time for Halloween, let the cravings begin!

You’ve designed beautiful candy tables for events ranging from kids’ birthday parties to weddings. What’s your experience been like, and how do you feel a candy table can enhance an event?

I started out making just my customized chocolate candies and lollipops, but eventually, I was making several types of candy for parties. Then, candy tables came into fashion, where you actually designed a setup instead of just handing out sweets or throwing candy into a pinata. I loved the idea and gave it a try the first chance I could.

The great thing about candy tables is that guests of all ages can find something they like. You can include sour candy, chocolate, and even sugar-free choices so that there's something for everyone. We often focus so much on what kids like that we forget adults are there, too! Candy tables are especially great for weddings, because they give guests something sweet to munch on while taking a break from dancing or to enjoy again after the reception.

What are the most important things to keep in mind when deciding just what types of candy to use and what the setup should look like?

I think a good candy table has a wide variety of selections. Try to include something for every taste palate. Start with one choice of chocolate, hard candy, sour candy, and even something salty. And don't forget about your guests who are watching their sugar intake. Be sure to include sugar-free candy, as well.

Also remember that a candy table doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, I think it saves money, because there is less waste. With a candy table, guests choose only the candy they like, leaving behind the rest for someone else. How many times have we gotten candy in a favor box only to throw it away because it isn't the candy we like?

When creating the setup, keep in mind that a well-designed table is simple and balanced. For most tables, plain clear vases and simple white platters work best. When laying out the table, it's best to start from the center and move outward. Putting the cake, a flower arrangement, or even a large jar of candy in the center will draw the eye. Accents like a coordinating tablecloth and runner can help pull the look together. Details like ribbons and labels for the jars and platters are also a nice touch.

Many venues offer a candy buffet as a wedding package add-on, but is this also a project the bride and groom can take on as a DIY, maybe with the help of a relative or friend?

If a candy table is something you want to do yourself, there are a few things to consider. First, if you are buying all the platters and jars, you have to factor that into the cost. Of course, you can use the jars again after the wedding, but some types of jars can cost upwards of $10 each, so it might not be as cost-effective as having your reception site provide these items.

Second, it takes time to set up a table. If this is going to be a DIY project for a friend or relative, make sure that person can set up early and still make it to the ceremony. And just like with any other aspect of wedding planning, preparing ahead of time is key. Adding personalized labels or bows can be done months ahead of time, and if you can buy your candy in advance, you can take advantage of sales or special wrapper colors, such as red during the Christmas and Valentine's seasons, or pastels during the Easter season. Candy is always on clearance during the few days after Halloween, so this is also a good time to stock up. And what if you don't like the preexisting candy design or wrapper? You can always cover it with paper or packaging to match your color scheme.

What do you think of the candy table trend, and what are some of your favorite treats?

(Photo Credits: Lollipops & Paper)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You Must Remember This…

…a kiss is just a kiss. Maybe it’s because Stephen and I are dressing up in 1940s Casablanca-inspired Halloween costumes this year, but I’ve been thinking a lot about our all-time favorite movie lately.

Though we both truly love Casablanca, and watched it together during one of our very first dates, it surprisingly didn't play any part in our wedding celebration. Yes, we did briefly consider planning a 1940s-themed reception, but our “California romance” idea ultimately won out in the end. And while “As Time Goes By” also made it onto our shortlist of first dance options, the faster and more upbeat “Fly Me to the Moon” ended up taking the cake.

But a kiss? Now that, we did share.

What’s your favorite romantic movie of all time?

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography; Video Credit: Max MacIver Videography)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: When Brides Compete

Choose any random Friday night, and you’re most likely to find me entirely exhausted after a long week, relaxing on the couch with one of my favorite reality shows, Four Weddings.

If you’ve never watched the show, it features four brides who attend and score each other’s weddings as they each compete to win a dream honeymoon. Every aspect of a bride’s wedding is put on display and is open for critique, including her gown, the venue, the food, and the overall guest experience. This show is utterly entertaining and fun to watch, and I’m the first to admit that I’m hooked. But at the end of the day, I also worry that shows like this perpetuate the strong pressure many brides feel to be the “best” in the eyes of family, friends, and even strangers.

As for me, I’m as guilty as anyone. From the very beginning, Stephen and I told ourselves that our day was not a competition, and that as long as we stayed true to ourselves and to our desires, the wedding would be perfect. But after months of planning, blogging and reading, a bevy of competitive thoughts slowly began creeping into my head. Would our photos be as beautiful as some of the others I’d seen on my favorite blogs and websites? Would guests who'd previously attended weddings with much larger budgets and at more elaborate venues consider our celebration “cheap”? Would I look thin and fit enough in my gown?

Admitting these moments of weakness was embarrassing and difficult, especially since I am someone who strives to live in a very positive and accepting way. But let’s be honest. These types of thoughts often come with the territory in the wedding world, and I bet just about every bride has had them at one time or another. Recognizing them and trying to get past them is half the battle, but sadly, some brides never seem to reach this stage.

For example, just a couple weeks ago, my colleague told me the story of a friend who had moved up her wedding date so that her celebration would be sure to outshine that of a friend getting married later in the year. And everywhere I turn, I hear more stories about brides who undergo plastic surgery, liposuction, and any number of other crazy procedures in a struggle to appear beautiful in the eyes of others. Stories like these make me very sad, and that’s why, given the chance, I would never want to appear on a show such as Four Weddings.

Planning a wedding that pleases the bride and groom while also providing a great experience for guests is already challenging enough, without the added pressure of having every aspect scrutinized by TV cameras and accented with catty comments by brides who are quick to rattle off everything they "hate" about the gown, venue, vows…you name it. Instead, I would much rather remember my day just as I perceived it – as being beautiful, authentic, and true to our personalities, finances and beliefs.

What do you think, ladies? Do you view your wedding as a chance to compete with friends and relatives, and have you felt pressured to make your day “the best”? Would you ever want to appear on a wedding reality show?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography) 

Friday, October 22, 2010

We’ve Been Wedding Glossed!

Happy Friday, friends, and special thanks to the fabulous Wedding Gloss blog for featuring Stephen and I this week! As I’ve often shared with you before, one of the main reasons I started blogging was share ideas and inspiration with others who are also passionate about weddings. Looking back, I feel so fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to do this not just here, but also on some other truly great websites.

Since I don’t say it nearly enough, thank you all so much for reading and sharing your experiences with me! I still have more wedding recaps, interviews and topics to share in the coming weeks, and I’m thinking long and hard about what the future holds for this little site of mine. Have a great weekend, everyone!

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography)

A Party Planner Gets Hitched!

Whether she’s inspiring me with her latest DIY project or getting me pumped up for the weekend with her newest "Happy Friday" post, I always look forward to reading the latest from one of my all-time favorite bloggers, PartyPlannerGal. And very soon, I’ll be enjoying her wedding recaps, because this lucky lady is getting hitched tomorrow!

If you don’t already read her blog, The Perpetual Party Planner, you’re definitely missing out. I just love her friendly and positive tone, not to mention her mad DIY skills and incredible sense of style when it comes to fashion.

Congratulations, PartyPlannerGal! I hope your wedding day is entirely amazing in every way. Of course, given the love and talent you’ve poured into it, it’s impossible for it to be anything but stellar. See you on the other side, girl!

(Photo Credit: The Perpetual Party Planner)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Expert Advice: Choosing The Perfect Wedding Favors

Our edible white chocolate boxes were the hit of the reception, enhancing our theme and leaving guests with a delicious memento as they headed out the door. But with all the options out there, how do you choose just the perfect favor for your event? What are the most fun and affordable options available, and what’s especially hot right now?

Here to answer these questions and more is The Favour Shoppe’s own award-winning blogger Caren Chorlton-Richardson. Check out her advice, and be sure to leave any questions in the comment section below!

In what ways do you feel favors can enhance a wedding, shower or party? What are some of the best ways to present them to guests?

If your budget allows, I think you should definitely show your appreciation to guests by having wedding favors available. Guests will feel appreciated and can enjoy the favors after the event, while these items can also enhance your table d├ęcor and theme, and are simply a great way to say “thank you.”

Presentation, as well as the favors themselves, should reflect you as a couple. Thoughtfulness and creativity can speak volumes. One fun and creative idea is to hang your favors from the reception chairs. This is such a unique way of showcasing them, and it can also add some flair to the chairs!

With such a wide variety of favor options available, from the edible to the practical, it’s easy for a couple to become overwhelmed with choices. What are your top tips for helping a bride and groom narrow down their options and make the best decision?

Choosing that "perfect" favor can be a daunting task due to the abundance of options that are now readily available online. I first ask our brides to think about the ambiance or theme of the event. For extra help, we offer a great tool called "Favour Finder Express," where the buyer will answer a few questions, and one of our trained representatives will then send over a list of favors that meet the criteria.

Overall, when choosing your wedding favors, make sure they suit you as a couple and are meaningful. Remember to give yourself plenty of time to choose the right favors for your day. Research the options avilable at different brick-and-mortar stores, as well as via the online sites that are available. Favors add that finishing touch to any wedding or special event, and it's the little details that count.

With budget-savvy couples looking to save while still providing a great experience for their guests, what are some of your favorite fun and affordable favors that won’t break the bank?

When it comes to favors that aren’t too pricey, you can’t go wrong with our eco-friendly items. You can purchase most of these favors for under a dollar, and they are perfect for the eco-conscious couple!

Which favors or types of favors do you consistently find to be the most popular for weddings? Does it vary widely depending upon the season or month of the year?

During the spring and summer months, I've found that paper fans are a top choice among our customers, along with sunscreen favors. Our fall favors are normally purchased as early as August, and now, as Christmas is approaching, I find more customers are already asking about our winter-themed items.

What are the trendiest options in the favor world right now, and what are your predictions for the coming year?

Our Damask-patterned items have been very popular, since they can be great for any occasion, fit any theme, and work during any time of the year. It’s hard to predict the favor trend for the upcoming year, as it is all dependent upon the individuality of the brides and grooms, as well as the creativity of the favor designers. However, we do anticipate that the Damask pattern will stand the test of time.

Do you plan to give out favors at your wedding? How did you decide which items to choose?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The First Look: A Groom's Reflections & Video Recap

I've already shared my thoughts about our "first look" at Gardens of the World, but what does the groom have to say? Here's the story from my husband's perspective, along with a short video clip capturing that special moment, along with the rest of our pre-wedding photo shoot.

Though we initially went back and forth about whether to do a first look, this moment ended up being truly special and a lot of fun. My preconception was that I shouldn't see Heather in her gown until she came down the aisle at the ceremony. However, as Heather explained more about what the first look entailed, I warmed up to the idea.

In the months leading up to the wedding, I took great pains to avoid learning any details about Heather's dress. If I was using the digital camera, I couldn't look through the saved photos. If there was a phone conversation regarding the dress, I had to make sure I was in a different room. Most difficult of all, I had to carry the dress through the Chicago-O'Hare airport and try not to backlight the opaque garmet bag or pick out any details. (Although I did quickly learn that the dress was REALLY heavy). Even though it made life a bit more complicated, I'm glad the details were unknown to me, because it made the first look very exciting.

The setup our photographer devised was really simple. I stood in the entranceway at Gardens of the World with my back facing the direction from which Heather would come. As soon as I was in place, I realized that I was facing a glass door through which I could not only see my groomsmen waiting inside, but also the reflection of anyone coming up behind me! I quickly averted my eyes so that I wouldn't spoil the first look.

The funny thing is that when Heather did come up and lightly tap me on the shoulder, I turned around, and the first thing that blew me away was just seeing her face. Don't get me wrong, the dress was fantastic, but that split second of recognition and joy to see her meant everything. Only after that first embrace did I truly notice the dress. At that point, I was especially glad I hadn't seen the it ahead of time, because it made for such an awesome surprise.

Would I have had the same reaction if we'd waited until the ceremony to see each other? I would like to think so, but it definitely would've been different standing in a large church surrounded by a crowd of people. Personally, I think the first look before the ceremony allowed for a more intimate and personal way to see each other. I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to other couples.

What are your fiance's thoughts about doing a first look? Do his views differ from yours?

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography; Video Credit: Max MacIver Videography) 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Calling All Bloggers!

Fellow bloggers, we at Wish Upon a Wedding DC need your help!

Our biggest fundraising event of the year, the Blissful Wishes Ball, an evening of food, fun and entertainment, will take place Nov. 17 at Baltimore’s fabulous Tremont Grand, where all proceeds will go toward helping couples in need. Similar balls are taking place across the country, and we can really use your help in spreading the word by blogging, tweeting and telling your friends all about it this week, while tickets are still available!

Can’t make it to a gala, but still want to help? Wish Upon a Wedding is also hosting a silent auction where couples getting married can plan an entire wedding from virtually any city in the United States. It’s easy to bid, and the auction features everything from invitations to flowers, catering to DJs, plus photographers, wedding planners, honeymoons, and more. Not getting married? The auction even offers other items, including dinner at top-rated restaurants, and admission to entertainment and sporting events.

Thank you for reading, and for supporting Wish Upon a Wedding in making couples’ dreams come true!

(Graphic Credit: Wish Upon a Wedding)

Getting Ready: Time Flies…

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and I guess it must be true, since the morning of our wedding seemed to speed up by the hour!

Starting out, we kept things running well ahead of schedule, thinking we’d be ready to go with plenty of time to spare. I felt calm and relaxed as I took it all in and savored the moment. Everything was moving along according to schedule.

But they also say that all good things must end. As the hour to leave drew nearer and nearer, all that extra time we’d gained suddenly vanished, and we found ourselves scrambling to get dressed and still allow time for photographer Damien to snap photos before we left for the “first look” site. Bridesmaids’ dresses needed last-minute pressing, and the girls hunted for their shoes, which were almost forgotten in all the last-minute excitement.

In my corner of the house, my chrinoline had to be secured at just the right height, and I needed help putting on my garter and shoes. As I slipped into the gown at last, Damien captured my mom zipping it up and fastening the back. Was the dress adjusted just right? What about my veil? Was my stylist ready to attach it for me? Could someone call Stephen to let him know we were getting ready to head out?

Everything blurred together into a wonderfully crazy whirl. For the first time all day, I started getting nervous, and feeling like I was really getting married in just a couple hours. It was as if a light suddenly popped on in my head, telling me, “You’re the bride…remember?!”

A few pictures and one bathroom stop (thanks, Kellie!) later, we loaded into the van we’d rented, running half an hour late, but luckily not so far behind as to ruin my plans for a “first look” at one of the most beautiful spots in town.

LESSON LEARNED: While you’re getting ready, designate a bridesmaid or family member to announce the time about once every half hour, so that you don’t lose track. And be sure to start getting into your dress with plenty of time to spare, including enough time to capture all the photos you and your photographer want. Not only do you want to avoid rushing this special moment, but it will likely take longer than you think! The same goes for bridesmaids and anyone else on hand. If you need to travel to another location, also allow time to use the restroom and get situated in the car, which can both take a surprisingly long time when wearing a wedding dress.

At what point did or do you think you’ll be hit with a case of the jitters and the realization that, oh my gosh, you’re about to get married?!

(Photo Credits: Damien Smith Photography)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Getting Ready: A Little Glitz & Glamour

Our hair and makeup session was my maid of honor Kellie’s favorite part of the entire wedding day, and it’s no mystery why. From the pampering to the photo shoots, these hours of girl time were just plain fun.

Right from the start, I had no doubt that hiring a pro to handle my hair and makeup was absolutely the right decision, as was doing a trial run a couple months in advance. Not only did having a pro on-site ensure the perfect camera-ready look, which can be tough even for a bride who’s a total makeup guru, but it also gave me a chance to relax and enjoy a little extra attention at the start of my day. Having done a trial run also made the wedding day much less stressful, since I knew exactly what to expect.

My only regret? Things got so hectic as the day went on that never once did I have a chance to reapply my lipstick! Just when I was about to do this at the church, the processional began without me, causing me to rush and throw that plan right out the window. Then, the reception was so fun and crazy that I didn’t even think about it once.

Though I certainly don’t think this “ruined” our photos in any way, it’s yet another reason why doing a “first look” and getting the most important photos taken early on was a major plus!


• If your budget allows, hiring a pro you trust to come right to you on the wedding day will definitely not disappoint. While going to a salon is also perfectly fine, the less running around you have to do, the better.

• Don’t forget to schedule a trial run, and be sure to line up a manicure and pedicure for the day before the wedding. If possible, choose a more upscale salon to ensure top-quality products and the longest-lasting results. My pedicure lasted nearly three weeks, even after being in Hawaii and swimming in the ocean!

• Don’t overlook your eyebrows. Two days before the wedding, I was sure to have my brows plucked (my skin is too sensitive for waxing), and it made a huge difference in improving my overall look. Just don’t schedule a session any closer to the wedding than 2-3 days in advance, in case of irritation. Is it your first experience with professional tweezing or waxing? Allow even more time.

• Lastly, designate a bridesmaid to remind you throughout the day to steal a quick moment here and there for makeup touch-ups. Chances are, you’ll be so wrapped up in the experience that this will be the last thing on your mind!

Are you hiring a pro to handle hair and makeup on your wedding day? What are your top tips for brides-to-be?

(Photo Credits: Damien Smith Photography) 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Photography At Its Finest

You've heard me rave about our photographer, Alex Neumann, who helped make our wedding day fun and memorable, while beautifully documenting every aspect. Well, I was thrilled to learn last week that our stellar photographer took first place for wedding photography in the Channel Islands Professional Photographers Association awards!

Though the photo that won isn't from our own wedding, it's so gorgeous that I just have to share it with you. Is this guy good, or what?

If you're looking for a fabulous Southern California photographer or just want to be inspired by beautiful images, head over to Alex's website and blog, where he has tons of stunning shots on display, including these three.

Which one is your favorite? Can you choose? Congratulations, Alex, on your well-deserved win!
(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography) 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hair & Makeup: Trial Run vs. Wedding Day Reality

You ladies already know how big a fan I am of hair and makeup trial runs, which allow you to work out with your wedding day stylist just the look you want, without any time constraints or jitters, long before the hectic and crazy nature of the day itself is upon you.

Are they pricey? Usually. But worth it? Totally.

I’ve recently heard a few brides ask whether the stylist always replicates the look perfectly the second time around. While there will always be slight variations, a good stylist should definitely be able to handle this, especially if he or she takes pictures and makes notes during your trial run.

To judge for yourself, compare my trial shots and wedding day photos below.

Trial Run

Wedding Day

What do you think? Did stylist Jana do a good job? Are there any dramatic differences you see in the photos?

LESSON LEARNED: Whether you do a trial run or not, be sure to speak up if you have any concerns about your wedding day look! You’ve likely paid good money for this service, and there’s nothing wrong with asking the stylist to tweak or change something, even if that means throwing out the window one or two decisions you made during your trial.

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography & Personal Library) 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Budget Bride's Feature

Planning a long-distance wedding on a budget was certainly a challenge, but one that Stephen and I were able to mange by prioritizing our desires and most importantly, working together and communicating.

This week, you can take a closer look at our budget breakdown and strategies, including the tips and tricks that helped us get the most for our money, over on The Budget Bride's Handbook, where we're being featured!

What are the top budgeting strategies that have helped you along the way?

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Riddle Me This: Our Puzzle Challenge Success!

Though different couples have varying views about whether or not to include games during the wedding reception, our crossword puzzle challenge was a big hit with guests of all ages!

As you may recall from my pre-wedding post, Hannah from A Very Gator Wedding inspired me to use Discovery Education’s free template to put together a twelve-question crossword, with questions involving fun facts about Stephen and I, our relationship, and our wedding. The guest at each table who finished first had the option of taking home the centerpiece, or giving it away to someone else who wanted it.

Not knowing beforehand just how popular these would be, I was beyond thrilled to see and hear our guests chatting and laughing as they worked to complete their puzzles throughout the dinner hour. A few who got stumped even asked us for hints as we made the rounds! All in all, this was one DIY project that was definitely worth the time and effort, both of which were minimal.

LESSON LEARNED: If it meshes with your theme and vibe, a low-key game like this can be a great way to keep guests entertained and get them interacting. Plus, since participation is not mandatory and doesn’t demand everyone’s attention, guests are still free to spend their time however they wish. Thinking about creating a word game, like we did? Don't forget to provide small pencils or pens, since most guests won't already have them on hand!

Will games be a part of your reception?

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Real Wedding Inspiration: Homespun Elegance

To kick off the week, my sister Kellie, the blogger and photographer behind Playing Dress-Up, shares a little backyard wedding inspiration!

Prior to this summer, as odd as it sounds, I'd never been to a single wedding. It was always on my to-do list, since wedding receptions tend to incorporate three things I really enjoy admiring/critiquing fashion, free food, and most importantly, free CAKE. Luckily, this summer, I finally got to attend not just one, but two very exciting weddings – my sister's (obviously), and my cousin Sierra's.

But while Heather's wedding was a meticulously-planned and somewhat formal affair, my cousin's was a simple, relaxed event held in a friend's backyard. Now, I don't have much of a frame of reference, seeing as I'm not exactly a wedding regular, but overall, I was really impressed by how well she and her family transformed a plain grassy yard into the perfect ceremony and reception site.

The small details enhancing the decor really caught my eye. The makeshift aisle was especially cute, with rose petals creating a pathway in the grass, and traditional pew bows replaced with handmade jars filled with flowers.

The favors were another adorable addition! Since I enjoy anything that involves free food, when I got an empty jar and instructions to, "Fill me with candy at the candy table!", I was sold. Plus, this is a simple and fun DIY that would work at almost any event.

After dinner was served (another DIY effort, since the family helped make a potluck buffet), the bride and groom shared their first dance amid the glow of sparklers that had been handed out to the crowd just moments before.

All in all, it was a great day, and it proved to me that backyard weddings can be every bit as fun and beautiful as bigger-budget events. The make-or-break factor seems to be all in the details, and this wedding was definitely a success.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes. The cake was delicious.

What do you think of this wedding, and what part of the experience is always your favorite when you're a guest?

(Photo Credits: Kellie Warren) 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gifting The Groomsmen

Today, my husband shares his unconventional gift choice for our groomsmen, plus the reasoning behind it. Enjoy!

When it came to choosing gifts for my groomsmen, I wanted to go for something unique that also had some semblance of practicality. Of course, the quintessential gift for groomsmen is a classic set of cufflinks.

There are many great varieties available to match the guys’ tastes and impart some of the groom’s personality at the same time. At one end of the spectrum are cufflinks molded from gold and silver, which can truly be considered jewelry. At the other are fun and quirky picks that may not be crafted from precious metals, but feature the insignias of colleges or sports teams that have special significance to the groom and his friends. Of course, there are also cufflinks that span the entire spectrum, being at once stunning and fun, such as the ThinkGeek set below, which features photomicrographs of caffeine molecules.
However, unless your groomsmen are 007, cufflinks are often doomed to sit unused in a drawer full of socks. So, instead, I opted for a gift that would hopefully be more useful, if not a bit out-of-the-ordinary – lock-picking sets. Though this may sound like an unusual choice of gift, these kits are actually very handy should you ever lose a key or face a broken door lock in your home. Also, for those who enjoy solving hands-on puzzles such as Rubix cubes, lock-picking can be quite the challenge.
In the end, no matter what gift you may choose, try to pick something that reflects who you are. In my case, I’m an engineer who loves puzzles and the joy of solving them, as do the rest of the guys I chose to have at my side throughout the wedding.

What's your fiance's style when it comes to gifting the guys?

(Photo Credits: ThinkGeek & SouthOrd)