No, You Are Not the Exception To The Rule

Hey, is this you in this photo? Yes, I’m talking about the lady with the big ol’ tablet taking a photo or the guy across the aisle holding up his cell phone.

Photo by Tom Pumford. 

I say that in a joking matter, and no I am not going to spend this blog post bit…er…complaining about people who don’t follow rules. The purpose of this post is to check yourself. Are you being one of THOSE people? You might be and not even realize it!

The idea for this post came to me after I was coordinating a wedding this past weekend. The officiant opened the ceremony by welcoming guests and politely made a request in honor of the couple to leave the documenting to the hired professionals and to truly be present in the moment with them. Not event 30 seconds later, a guest sitting the very middle of the audience stood and started taking photos on his iPhone. “Ummmm hello….?” was what I really wanted to say outlout, but instead I just shook my head and glanced around as the other vendors and guests looked at the gentleman in horror.

Here’s another one of my favorites. The ceremony has just wrapped up, the couple is officially Mr. and Mrs., and the bridal party and family begin to congregate off to the side to take photos. Then all of a sudden, there’s a hoard of people heading in the direction of the newlyweds saying to the people they are with, “I just want to say hello to them really quick.” Can I be blunt with you? All 250 guests want to do the exact same thing. If they choose not to do a receiving line, there’s probably a reason for that (time, weather, etc.), and the couple will absolutely make their way around to socialize with you later.

Photo by Tim Mossholder.

Or for example, let’s say you’re attending an event that is taking place at a public location and only part of the venue is dedicated to the private event. It’s OK for you to ignore the signage about where the private event is located and help yourself to other amenities that are not intended for you, right? Probably not. That would be like someone from the general population coming into the private party and helping themselves to the complimentary appetizers. That wouldn’t be OK, now would it?

I’m not trying to sound like a Negative Nancy. It just baffles me how many people think they’re the exception to the rule. News flash: if you are asking for a special request, special accommodations or to be the exception, you aren’t the only one. Lots of people are doing it. You don’t want to be one of THOSE people that is being talked about after the event. Just tryin’ to help you out!

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Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies

Here I am sitting on my back patio as the sun is setting on the most beautiful day of the year: summer solstice. And with that, it means we are right in the thick of 2017 summer wedding season. Tonight, I wanted to touch on a few pointers I had for outdoor weddings.

Above photo compliments of Love Tree Studios

The trend for wedding ceremonies is definitely moving away from churches and religious affiliated locations, and lots of couples have their eye on a dreamy outdoor space. However, with this decision does come a few additional factors that you must include in your planning. Here are a few tips:

1. Always have a back up option.
In a perfect world, it’s going to be 75 degrees and sunny on your big day, but chance are (especially here in Missouri), you’re going to have some sort of weather to be leery of or that changes your plans all together. Even if there’s not a physical indoor space for you to move to, at least have tents rented if weather looks questionable that way. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

2. It’s the little touches that make the guests feel that much cooler.
More than likely if it’s June and you leave anywhere near me, an outdoor wedding means heat. And your wedding day is definitely one of those days you want to be hospitable to your guests. How about serving a refreshing cocktail or mocktail as guests make their way down to the ceremony site? Or if your budget doesn’t allow for pre-reception beverages, at least provide guests with a self-serve water station (throw in a few slices of sun summer fruit to add in some color and flavor!) If you have a program, most guests are going to use it as a fan, so why not make it a bit easier on them and get your programs printed on a fan? It’s functional as well as completely adorable.
Above photo compliments of engaFOTO compliments of Madison Sanders Events. 

3. Give guests a heads up.
On your invitation or wedding websites, make sure to warn guests about the outdoor ceremony or reception. First and foremost, it will help guide their attire for the event. Instead of a taffeta cocktail dress, ladies might opt for a breezy high-low number, and gentlemen might go for a shirt and tie versus a full suit. Plus, it warns guests to be particular about their shoe choice: wedges versus heels and loafers instead of dress shoes.

Above photo compliments of Silverbox Photography

4. Be OK with imperfections.
Inside, it’s easy to control all the variables. Doors can be closed, noisy air conditioning can be temporarily turned off, and crying babies can be escorted to the lobby. But when you’re outside, there’s so many additional variables that can play into your perfect vision: wind, the location of the sun, bugs, surrounding noises, etc. I often see brides get hung up on these details, but unless the weather is ungodly or the bugs are eating people alive, guests tend to not even notice these details. They are too focused on the sweet vows being recited or catching a glimpse of the adorable flower girl as she makes her way down the aisle. Just be prepared to be OK with the imperfections and embrace them as part of the day’s experience.

Wedding Registry Items: Party Style

I’ve recently had friends ask me items they should include on their wedding registries. And yes, I have some very practical answers: a good-quality knife set, a spare set of sheets, mailing labels, etc. But I also have some fun and oh-so-necessary ideas for entertaining. Plus, gifts are that much better when they aren’t something you would necessarily purchase yourself.

1. Mud Pie’s Salsa Spoon Set

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Because yes, tacos are always a good idea. My aunt got me and my sister a set of these adorable Mud Pie serving spoons. We love to get Mexican together when I am back in town visiting, so it was a fun and personal touch to have these for my own kitchen. Mud Pie has some adorable gifts, and you can find their seasonal products locally at Southern Rose.

2.  Personalized Barware


Well, I should warn you (in case you haven’t realized yet), I am a huge monogram girl, so when Ryan’s cousin had barware personalized for us, I was instantly in love. I unwrapped the gift to find a set of stemless wine glasses and a set of rocks glasses. It was a super sweet gift and perfect for us since I am a champagne girl and Ryan is a whiskey guy. But after we opened the boxes, we realized Jen had gone the extra mile and personalized them with an “R” etched on each of the wine glasses and an “R” and “Ruprecht” on each of the rocks glasses. So stinkin’ sweet! And they have by far been one of our most-used gifts (not sure what that says about us….)

3. Folding Chairs & Table

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I know, I know. I sound like your mom. But really, especially if you’re in an apartment or a small starter home, it’s nice to have the option of additional seating. Folding chairs might not be the cutest things, but they are completely practical and super important for hosting a house full of guests. Plus, you never know when an additional table will come in handy (garage sales, crafts, gift wrapping, etc.)

4. Kate Spade Food For Thought Placemats

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Very few of these designs go with my normal day-to-day kitchen decor, but I love having these animated placemats to pull out for special occasions. The “Eat Cake For Breakfast” mats are perfect for a brunch or friend’s birthday, and I somehow manage to keep the “Be Merry Be Bright” placemats out around the holidays, even though glitter and Ryan don’t get along very well. I tend to have the most luck finding Kate Spade houseware items at Dillard’s here in Columbia.

5. Liar’s Dice

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The possibilities are endless for registries! Think outside the box, especially if you already live with your future hubby. Games are a great addition and offer an affordable gift option as well. One game that our family has become particularly fond of is Liar’s Dice. It’s similar to the card game BS. It’s the perfect ice breaker for a party, and it gets even more fun when drinking and higher-stakes betting is involved!
Side note: Amazon offers wedding registries, which allows you to broaden your items a little bit more than sticking to department stores. 

6. A Drink Tub

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If you and your guests are outside enjoying the patio, it’s great to have a way to serve and chill your beverages without having to run inside to the fridge constantly. There’s tons of freestanding, table top and various metal drink caddies and tubs. I registered for a beautiful hammered metal tub like this one from Pottery Barn. True story: I had to leave the majority of my shower gifts from my Wisconsin shower at home with my mom until she drove down to visit me, but I was so excited about the drink caddy that i actually put it in my suitcase and packed my clothes inside and around it just so I could get it home to use it. Ultimate packing challenge accepted!

Free, Convenient and Totally-Worth-It Workouts

Well, let’s state the obvious: no, I am not a fitness coach. In fact, I have a hard time keeping myself motivated to workout and eat healthy. But I’ve recently become obsessed with some online workouts, and I wanted to share them with you!

popsugar-6When my husband and I were on our honeymoon, I grabbed an easy-read book at the airport titled “Power Your Happy.” It gives insight into Lisa Sugar’s life and how she created the online pop culture source PopSugar. If you’re a go-getter girl who is searching for success, life balance and the opportunity to have a family all at the same time, I definitely recommend the read.

Anyways, I dabbled a bit on PopSugar’s website, but I had never really considered it a go-to. That was until I discovered their workouts. They are amazing! First and foremost because they are free. I had recently contemplated paying for Beach Body workouts, but these online workouts kicked that idea to the curb.

Now you’re probably wondering why the heck I’m endorsing a workout website on an event planning blog. Well, let’s be honest. It doesn’t matter what event you’re attending, everyone wants to look their best! Whether you are the bride who is the center of attention, headed to a high school reunion where you haven’t seen people in years or just want to look back at the photos and be proud of your shape, working out is a necessity.

And if you’re anything like me, time and money are two of the things that get in the way of having a killer body. So, these are the reasons that I love PopSugar workouts:

1. They’re completely free!

Yup, you heard me. Zero dollars. All you need is a laptop (which i often hook up to my TV through an HDMI cord) and yourself. There are some workouts that require a small set of weights or a mat, but for the most part, they use your body weight for effective workouts. They even have some workouts that you can adapt or take to the gym to utilize while on an elliptical machine or treadmill. So if you already have a gym workout, you can still use them to mix it up and keep muscle memory guessing again.

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2. The workouts are quick yet effective.

Even if you just Google “PopSugar workouts,” before getting to the site you can click on the timeframe you’re looking for.

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When you have a hectic schedule or just not feeling the hour and a half commitment to get dressed, drive to the gym, workout and drive home, here is your answer. My favorites are the 30-minute workouts, or I like to mix a 20-minute strengthening workout with a 10-minute cardio blast.

3. The variety.

There’s a little bit of everything on this site. There’s high-intensity, fat-burning workouts that will leave you dripping in sweat. These are my favorite to do when I’ve eaten my energy-packed foods all day and work hasn’t completely drained me.

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There’s yoga and Pilates videos that are a little bit more low key. I love doing these workouts in the morning when I want to get some fitness in prior to work, but I don’t have the energy to jump around (did I mention I’m not a morning person?)

popsugar-4And lastly, there’s tons of celebrity trainers that know how to kick your booty while keeping the workouts exciting and different. My personal favorite is the workout with Selena Gomez’s personal trainer. No wonder that girl looks so good!

So if you find yourself saying you don’t have time to workout or you don’t have the money to spend on a gym membership or a subscription to a workout program, the PopSugar workouts are the answer to your prayers. No go knock ’em dead at your next event, and I hope you feel your absolute best!

Note: All photos in the blog post are images from the PopSugar website. 

The Seasons of Weddings

It was quite a busy year of weddings in 2016, and I had the pleasure of attending weddings all 12 months of the year. For today’s post, I pulled some of my favorite weddings from this past year’s archives. Using the seasons as a guide, I wanted to share with you some snapshots of these weddings that so beautifully fit into the seasons:

Spring
Bride & Groom: Jill Elder & Josh Smith
Wedding Date: June 4, 2016…Ok, so I stretched this “spring” wedding. It really was at the beginning of summer, but with all the beautiful colored blooms, I couldn’t help but include this in the spring section because it’s a great inspiration for spring brides.
Ceremony Location: Columbia Country Club Event Lawn
Reception Venue: Columbia Country Club
Photos compliments of Silverbox

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The Pre-Wedding:
Jill and her bridesmaids were dressed in beautiful matching robes during their wedding preparations and started the day off with floral accents from the beginning!

 

 

jill-josh-2The Color Scheme:
Everywhere you looked were bright, beautiful flowers. From the ceremony archway to the reception tables, pops of purples, pinks, yellows, greens and oranges were all complimented with gold accents. The bridal party wore greys, whites and blacks, which allowed the flower colors to shine.

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The Dessert:
A five-tier cake had the spotlight as guests entered the ballroom for the reception, which of course was also dripping in flowers. Edith Hall worked her cake magic once again!

 

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The Sweet Touch:
Josh proposed to Jill while the two were on a camping trip. So, guests were given “S’more Lovin'” as their favors, which were individually packaged s’mores supplies.

 

jill-josh-7A Unique Detail:
One of my favorite details was incorporated into this wedding. TooRooster Artistry was at the reception live painting each and every detail of the celebration. If you haven’t checked out Cindy Scott’s work, definitely do! It’s entertaining for the guests, and a great memory for the couple to take home with them.

 

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The Wow Factor:
I know I’ve talked A LOT about these flowers, but Kent’s Floral Gallery really outdid themselves. The show stopper? This gorgeous archway that the couple stood under as they said their “I dos.”

 

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The Seasonal Touch:
With warmer weather and a large guest list, the couple utilized the country club’s veranda for outdoor seating in addition to the indoor seating.

 

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The Perfect Ending: 
This reaction. Doesn’t every groom want a bride who is this happy?

 

 

Summer:
Bride & Groom: Alex Weishaar & Zachary Kluesner
Wedding Date: June 25, 2016
Ceremony Location: Church of St. Mary’s in Fulton, MO
Reception Venue: Sorenson Estates in Columbia, MO

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The Pre-Wedding:
Alex is a huge fan of monograms…ok, that’s an understatement. She LOVES monograms and was super excited to be able to change her monogram to her new last name. It did not surprise me one bit when the bridemaid’s gift were adorned with each girl’s monogram.

 

 

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The Color Scheme:
Keeping in tune with the naturalness of the outdoor reception, the wedding decor was full of ivories, creams, golds and forest greens.

 

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The Dessert:
A simple yet elegant three-tier white cake adorned with flowers coordinating with the bouquets and centerpieces. Plus, there was a nod to the groom with his own groom’s cake.

 

 

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The Sweet Touch:

Since the reception was outdoors and there was lots of dancing to be done, Alex and Zach offered their guests flip flops to be warn when the party got started.

 

 

13533086_10153833626035914_1982605932848900480_n 13537789_10153833625935914_4660732316999410563_nA Unique Detail:
If you live in Columbia, you are aware of the downtown staple: souvenir plastic cups. Because the couple met at Harpo’s where Alex used to work and manage, they served their guests drinks in personalized Harpo’s cups.

 

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The Wow Moment:
When Alex and her mom came down the aisle holding hands, I couldn’t help but tear up. it was evident how strong their relationship was and really represented them standing by each other’s sides through life’s endeavors.

 

 

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The Seasonal Touch:
It wouldn’t be a summer party without a game of bags! During cocktail hour, guests were able to socialize outdoors with a little friendly competition using this personalized game of bags.

 

 

 

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The Perfect Ending:
The bride and groom along with their guests danced the night way under the stars, moon and this gorgeous arrangement of Italian-style string lights designed by SW Productions.

 

 

Fall
Bride & Groom: Emily Milford & Tom Stevenson
Wedding Date: November 5, 2016
Ceremony Location: Mary Queen of Peace in Webster Groves, MO
Reception Venue: Forest Park Visitors Center in St. Louis, MO

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The Pre-Wedding:
The crisp, fall air and the early rising for the bridesmaids coupled so perfectly with the mismatched flannels worn during hair and makeup.

 

 

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The Color Scheme:
Red was the obvious bridesmaid dress choice for Emily’s love of the color, and rich dark and pastel florals created the perfect contrast for the fall festivities.

 

 

 

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The Dessert:
A classic beauty in white adorned with coordinating flowers, it was simple yet elegant just like this couple.

 

 

 

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The Sweet Touch:
Each of these bridesmaids and all of their mothers have been friends since these girls were in elementary school…talk about long-lasting friendships! The ceremony also took place at their elementary school.

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A Unique Detail:
Both Tom and Emily have a true love for beer. Tom works for Anheuser Busch, and Emily has an immense knowledge of craft beers. So instead of stuffy, posed photos, the couple decided to have the wedding party enjoy beers at Urban Chestnut Brewery during photo time for more candid photos.

 

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The Wow Moment:
Although my favorite moment of the night was when the groom swept Emily off her feet (literally) and spun her around during the first dance, we also were very appreciate of this firey sunset that was a gorgeous backdrop for the perfect day.

 

 

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The Seasonal Touch:
Guests were greeted by a table of small white pumpkins, which were not only great seasonal decor but also doubled as escort cards.

 

 

 

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The Perfect Ending:
Tom and Emily said goodbye to their guests as they exited through a (rather long) sparkler aisle lined with all of their guests. It was truly a magical part to the evening.

 

 

Winter
Bride & Groom: Carroline Kirtley & Michael Stoll
Wedding Date: December 17, 2016
Ceremony Location: Rocheport United Methodist Church in Rocheport, MO
Reception Venue: Columbia Country Club

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The Pre-Wedding:

A nasty ice storm the evening before made travel into Columbia a little crazy and changed the plans around for the rehearsal. But a little inclement weather cannot stop true friendship!

 

 

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The Color Scheme:
We saw lots of shades of red this year, and of course a winter wedding wouldn’t be complete without it! A mixture of burgundies and pinks popped from the flowers, and lots of wintry greenery was incorporated on the mantels, in the bouquets and as part of the centerpieces thanks to Addie Jane Originals.

 

 

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The Dessert:
A naked cake. Whimsical and perfectly fitting for this bride’s style.

 

 

 

 

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The Sweet Touch:
Although I wasn’t at the church to witness this precious moment, this photo of the bride and her flower girls is one of my favorites of the day!

 

 

 

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A Unique Detail:

Carroline enlisted the help of Courtney Canine with the rental company Pretty Little Things to add beautiful antiques to compliment the 1920s venue. My personal favorite was the pairing of a vintage table, an old window turned into a sign and and old mailbox used for the card box. Adorable!

 

 

15578487_1124212824358654_1220016279465755869_nThe Wow Moment: 
The best man’s speech was great! I wish I had a video of it, so I could share. I’ve seen lots and lots of speeches, and his was definitely up there as one of the best. He was witty, showed emotion but held it together and truly summed up the relationship between himself and the groom.

 

15542053_1124212697692000_828034969302906938_nA Seasonal Touch:
At each place setting was a thank you note from the bride and groom expressing their gratitude for all of their guests attending their big day. And laid right on top of that was a small piece of greenery. It was such a small detail but really tied everything in together.

 

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The Perfect Ending: 

Just after the bride and groom swayed to their first dance, a light sprinkling of fluffy snow began falling and made for one epic photo! Photography compliments of Catherine Rhodes Photography.

Tis The Season of Giving

We all know it’s that time of year for gifts wrapped in beautiful paper and adorned with practically perfect bows, that time of year when it feels especially good to sit fireside with a cup of coffee and when schedules start to get a little hectic balancing family time and Christmas parties. In my pre-holiday haste, I always try to stop and remind myself what the season is really about: giving.

This past weekend I was reminded of that as I helped to put on Pancakes With Princesses, a fundraiser for Columbia Jaycees and an initiative to raise money to send kids with disabilities to Camp Wonderland. And as adorable as it was to see giddy little girls dressed in princess gowns and see their eyes light up as they met Elsa and Anna while enjoying a plate piled high with pancakes, it was very special to see how many people came out on a Saturday morning to support a good cause.

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Through lots of the events I’ve helped coordinate, I have seen people get awfully creative with how they raise money. There is the ever-popular silent auction or live auction that I’ve seen at galas and high-end events, but I think some of my favorite ways that people have given back are by small, individual gestures.

Over the summer, I worked with a bride and groom who were getting married a little later in life and in lieu of household supplies they already had or personalized items that were a bit over-the-top for their modest style, the couple asked that each guest donate to a charity in their honor. It was a way for guests to still show the couple their appreciation but in a way that meant a little bit more than a beautiful cake plate.

Another idea that I love seeing is gifting a donation in someone’s honor. Similar to a donation in lieu of gifts, it can often be a sweet surprise to drop a card in a card box that explains you have made a donation to an organization in honor of so-and-so’s 50th birthday. I’ve even seen it spark annual donations with couples who were gifted a donation in their honor for their wedding, and it continues to be something they do each year on their anniversary.

So how can you get involved and give back this holiday season? Well, maybe start by reading this adorable story I saw on Facebook yesterday. Grab the tissues first because this heartwarming story will not only pull at your heart strings but also jumpstart your want to do something good this season.

Locally, there’s a great opportunity that is called COMO Gives. It has evolved and grown over the past few years to now include 92 nonprofits that you can donate to with just a click of a button. It really is amazing to see how much money our community can earn when we join together and create a little competition for each other.

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Personally, I’ve made my New Year’s Resolution around philanthropic involvement. Since 2016 was a year that I felt Ryan and I were particularly blessed and often times the center of attention, I decided I wanted to give back in 2017. Together, we are making it our resolution to participate in a philanthropic activity once a month for all 12 months of 2017. It might be volunteering at the food bank or cooking meals for Ronald McDonald House. And some months that are crazy busy might just be a clothing or monetary donation to a particular organization. But after the blessed year we’ve had this year, I know those donations will help others feel a little more blessed. So I challenge you to do something good too. Whether it’s donating time or money to an organization special to you this holiday season or joining Ryan and me for our 12 Months of Giving, let’s start to better our community because every little bit helps.

The Infamous Question

As I kicked up my feet tonight after a 14 hour day, I started reflecting a bit. And as I poured myself a bowl of cereal and a cocktail (I swear I don’t eat like a college kid when my husband is home), I started thinking more about my job in general.

Almost every event I work, I get asked, “How do you work such long days?” or “How do you just never seem to stop moving?” or my favorite, “Why do you work so hard?” I used to always respond so simply: “I hope on my wedding day, I have a me.” And that was true. All the energy I put into each wedding and event was because I knew that on my wedding day, I wanted someone to work just as hard on my big day.

But now that our big day has come and gone, nothing has changed. I still buzz around work exactly as I have done before. I still have a stash of flats under my desk for those unexpected busy days. And I will do anything to see a genuine smile. To be fair, I feel like I always go above and beyond. Well, now why? What’s my reasoning for not accepting good but always striving for great?

I think what it comes down to are two simple things. First and foremost, I’m real. When a guest tears up during a speech, I tear up right along with them. And when something is not going as planned, I want to make sure I pull out every trick in the book to make sure it’s taken care of. And secondly, I think this world is really lacking a little bit of love. Now more than ever, I feel like more people need to respect and take care of other people. Now don’t worry; I’m not going to go into some political rant (unless it’s promoting this awesome video by Kid President).

Our world lacks humility. Everyone always puts number one first. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for putting yourselves before others, but I feel it happens all too often now. People are too worried about what’s best for them. All I’m saying is if people spent a little more time making sure other people are comfortable and taken care of, it would help everyone out.

I did have the tiniest bit of hope when I was on my way home tonight. I swung by the grocery store since I haven’t been shopping all week (like I said, my husband has been out of town). When I pulled into my parking spot, I turned to grab my purse, and I witnessed a young man running around the car to open the door for his girlfriend. Ahh chivalry isn’t dead!

So I am going to leave you with this: If we all just gave a little bit of effort to focus on others’ happiness instead of our own, the world would be a better place.

Nighty night!

 

Make An Impression

As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes the weddings I help coordinate do blur together. When you are averaging a wedding every other week (and then some) in the same room with roughly the same setup and roughly the same guest count, some things do tend to get a little repetitive.

And this is why I love the small, or sometimes, rather big touches that brides and groups incorporate into their big days. It adds a little personality and uniqueness to their day.

“Friends” Theme Photo Booth
I loved this idea in particular because it was actually a surprise for the bride from the groom (precious, I know). As a huge fan of the show “Friends,” Rachel (not Green :)) included a few “Friends” references into their wedding day. I picked up on it as soon as I saw their cake topper, which read, “You’re My Lobster.” So when Trever asked me to help pull of a surprise photo booth for Rachel, I was all in. And thanks to the creativeness and help of J. Kelly Photo & Photo Booth, Trever was able to surprise his bride to be and even brought her to tears of excitement.

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Photos courtesy of J. Kelly Photo & Photo Booth.

fullsizerenderOne of my personal favorite additions to a wedding is the talented Cindy Scott, owner and painter at TooRooster Artistry. I was initially introduced to Cindy at a wedding show last year. And to be totally honest, I was a little skeptical of her idea. I guess I had to see it in action for myself. This year, I have had the pleasure of experiencing her multiple times at weddings live painting. And wow, was I blown away! It’s such a unique and cool addition to the big day not only for the guests but for the couple as well. While the reception (or whatever event you would like her to depict) happens, she paints away and creates a masterpiece throughout the entirety of the event. Guests find it cool to check in on the piece as it’s being created, and the final product is a beautiful memento for the couple to take home with them!

Here is an example of her finished product completed at a wedding last weekend:

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Photo courtesy of Cindy Scott. 

Sometimes there can be special loved ones missing from a big wedding day. It can be a difficult thing on not only the bride or groom but also their family and guests. At a recent wedding at the club, Kylie had lots her mom to cancer. As a big part of Kylie’s life, her and her now husband, Evan, put a lot of special touches into their day to honor Kylie’s mom. This “Sandy Special” was probably one of my favorites.

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Although not a super popular drink, it was a lighthearted way to remember Sandy and have guests enjoy her favorite cocktail. Cheers, Sandy!

And last is a fun little idea that I actually have to give total credit to my husband for. When we were making our wedding plans, the topic of cake kept re-emerging as a detail we just weren’t putting that much emphasis on. Turns out, neither of us thought the cake was that special beyond the traditional cake cutting.

However, my husband knows how much I LOVE ice cream, so he ran into Jason Holbrook, owner of Eagle Scoop in Ashland, at a festival and asked him a small favor. And walah! We had an ice cream truck roll up in the park lot for our guests after dinner was finished. It was a huge hit and a fun added touch!

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Now this would normally be where I would add in a cute photo of my husband and I feeding each other ice cream in front of the truck on our wedding day, but unfortunately we don’t have our wedding photos back. Just giving you a hard time, Casey. I know you and the rest of the D Squared crew are working hard 🙂

Romantic Winery Wedding

Above photograph compliments of Kristel McCoy Photography

Clearly, it’s been a while since I have written a post. I have been extremely busy with all of the celebrations happening in my family. And one of the most important events my family has recently celebrated was my sister, Alyssa’s, marriage to her long-time boyfriend, Tony.

Initially, I wasn’t quite sure what to think about when my sister told me she would be getting married in Temecula. Of course I had heard of it since Tony had spent two of his six-month rotations for his current job in Southern California. But I had no idea where to begin with a destination. Because quite honestly, I had never attended nor been involved in planning a destination planning.

aly wedding 1But as I stood next on a step next to her during their intimate winery ceremony, it all made sense. That place was not only breathtaking but it represented such a powerful time in their relationship. It was a time that the two of them were living halfway across the country from each other and yet their dedication to each other allowed them to get past the distance and built a stronger foundation for love….and marriage on July 15, 2016.

And of course the day was as picturesque as I could have ever imagined from start to finish.

manorIt all started in the bridal suite of the Wilson Creek Manor (thanks for the pictures, Alex!)…

And let me tell you, it felt as if we were on the set of “The Bachelor,” and I was continually waiting for Chris Harrison to come around the corner clinking a champagne glass. The accommodations were incredible, and not only was it the perfect space to get dolled up for the big day, but it also served as a mingling venue for the wedding party and guests throughout the weekend.

The Dress
I had seen it before in person and in pictures, but there’s nothing quite like seeing your sister in her dress on her wedding day. Not to mention Amanda did a beautiful job of creating the perfect balance of glamour and classiness for Alyssa’s look. And ladies,  can we talk about that train? Shout out to Gina for killing it in the MOH department.

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IMG_4336The Venue
Right after seeing the winery, my initial was why this one? (Side note: I thought wine country was in Northern California, but Temecula has 45+ wineries!) Her answer was simple: Wilson Creek is based on family values. And not only do they have family values covered, but the owner even hand-delivered a wedding present to Alyssa and Tony during their reception.

The ceremony took place in front of a gazebo in the courtyard of the winery, and cocktail hour and the reception followed in the breezeway and the winery’s barrel room. The room glowed with a romantic ambiance thanks to candlelight uplighting, and the room was filled with whimsical flower arrangements from Sweet Petals Floral Design Studio.

IMG_0039My favorite part of the intimate reception was the table layout. Bride, groom, Maid of Honor and Best Man sat at the head of the table, and the rest of the guests were seated perpendicular to the honored guests. It made for easy conversation and created a family-style atmosphere even in such an elegant setting. Different shades of purple and gold accents adorned the table covered with beautiful calligraphy place cards and menus made by Blue Poppy Lettering.

The Party
The only part of the celebration Alyssa was worried about was feeling awkward during the dancing portion of the evening. But there was no need to worry! The DJ from Pacific Entertainment kept Beyonce, JT and ’90s hits bumping all night long. I did have the best dance partner if I do say so myself 🙂 The DJ basically had to stop the music from playing for guests to go and enjoy the cake. But oh, was the break necessary!

The Cake
Almond champagne cake. Enough said.

Well, Cakes To Celebrate really does deserve a little bit more attention than that. It was effing delicious for lack of a better weird. Wilson Creek Winery is known for its almond champagne, so it was only appropriate to incorporate it in the cake flavor.

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And now that I’m back home and back to my normal routines, I can’t help but be missing that gorgeous California weather, the simple celebration of life and more importantly, seeing the love that Alyssa and Tony had for each other on that day and I know they will have every day. Lucky for us, there’s a Milwaukee reception in a few weeks! Until then….

The Great Debate: Kids Attending Weddings

They’re cute, they’re funny, and they’re probably just as mature as some of your drunk adult friends, but do you want kids invited to your wedding? This is a debate I know many couples and parents of couples struggle with, including some of my friends and family. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way to help you with some of the kids vs. adult issues.

1. Should children be invited at all?

Some couples are totally open to kids being at their wedding. It’s the perfect spot for both little ones and adults can enjoy themselves. I mean, come on, there’s cake AND dancing. Youngsters and old folks love both! However, my first suggestion would be to look at your venue. Is it at a kid-friendly place? If your ceremony and reception are at a park with wide open spaces and areas to play, why not invite them? If you’re planning a cocktail party in the downtown of a city at nighttime, I probably wouldn’t recommend it. Parents will make the ultimate decision, but if your venue isn’t kid-friendly, don’t feel pressured to invite kids just because you don’t want to offend someone.

2. Communicating to your guests.

There’s a couple suggestions I have for adult-only ceremonies and receptions.

-First, a guest should look at how the invite is addressed. If the invite says “The Smith Family,” that is a cue that both the adults as well as the children are invited. If the invitation is addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith,” that’s an indication that just the adults are invited and not the kids.

-If you don’t feel like guests will particularly pay attention to the way an envelope is addressed or you are worried guests are going to bring their children regardless, make it very clear on the invitation. A suggestion would be: “While children are a blessing, we ask that this be an adult-only celebration.” See? Nice but direct.

Kids' Buffet3. Directing adult guests away from a kids’ buffet.

Now let’s switch things up a little bit. When kiddos are invited, sometimes adults are tempted by kid-friendly foods. If you are serving younger guests a separate meal from adults and it isn’t plated, I always suggest put the kids’ buffet in a different area from the adults. Adults do love chicken fingers too (especially this girl)! It might help to post some signage with something along these lines: “Although we love kids at heart, this buffet is reserved for those guests ages 12 and under.”

Regardless of what you decide, is completely up to you. It is your day after all. Kids can both add to and take away from the day’s celebrations, so maybe keep in mind nap time of the younger ones!