These Are A Few of Molly’s Favorite Things

Most likely, I will be singing that “Sound of Music” song in my head all evening now! But how cute is that for a bridal shower theme? As a bridesmaid in my friend, Molly’s, wedding we were enlisted by her Maid of Honor to help put on a shower including all of Molly’s favorites eats and treats.

The menu selections included a vast array of options:
-Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp
-Cheesy Gordita Crunches (yes, I was super pumped about this one!)
-Red Vines
-Swedish Fish
-Cheese, Crackers & Meats
-Popcorn
-Yogurt Parfaits
-Chicken Salad Sandwiches
-Etc.

And let me tell you, this preggo girl really appreciated the green smoothie shot in Molly’s honor instead of the typical alcoholic toast…celebratory and healthy!

Yes, it was a little random but totally Molly, and I loved each and every item. Since we used to be roommates, I had a great time looking through all the options and remembering Molly enjoying all of the food and drink selections at various times.

In addition to the cute theme, I have to give our girl Kaitlin a huge shout out because invitations and signage for the shower were beautiful. She’s a graphic designer by trade and even has her own side gig (check her gorgeous designs out at Flan De Vida Designs).

Molly and Chad’s wedding is incorporating lots of lush greenery and a neutral color palette, which is a trend I am so on board with! Kaitlin incorporated that as well as threw in a fun pop of pink to add to the shower color scheme.

It was such a fun afternoon getting to celebrate with girlfriends, enjoy delicious food and see an abundance of monograms (because what St. Louis girl doesn’t love a good monogram?). Getting excited for the wedding in October! #younglove

Photos compliments of Kaitlin Carratero & Morgan Flannery. 

 

Advertisements

An Uncorked Celebration: Gender Reveal!

We’re poppin’ some bottles around here! OK, so more like non-alcoholic beverages, but we sure are celebrating the exciting news around here. Ryan and I are welcoming a little baby girl into the family!

Bring on the bows, tutus, dance competitions….can you tell I’m on cloud nine about this? Coming from a family of three girls growing up, it just seemed fitting to have a little girl as the first grandbaby on that side of the family.

So for today’s post, I decided to share how we told our friends and family about the exciting news from the beginning and then again when we found out the gender.

The Initial Baby Reveal:
Ryan and I both knew we wanted to start sharing the news with family as soon as we could. Luckily, Easter fell right around the timeframe that was the “safe zone” for sharing the news. For this particular reveal, we knew that his parents have an Easter egg hunt each year for our two little nephews. They had also shared with us that this year in addition to all the fun treats for the boys that the “big kids” (that’s us) would have the opportunity to hunt for the golden egg.

A few weeks prior to Easter, his mom showed us the golden egg, so we all knew what to look for. That week while doing my usual Target walk through (and by walk through, I mean wandering each and every aisle looking for any excuse to purchase their adorable products), I spotted the golden egg. Bingo! I thought. That’s exactly how we were going to share the news with them.

So for Easter morning, we filled our version of the golden egg with fake grass, a pacifier and a little note that said “Baby Ruprecht Arriving November 2017!” We made sure to hide is somewhere that was much easier to find than the original golden egg and patiently awaited the adult hunt time.

Our little nephew actually found the golden egg prior to the adult hunt (because we wanted to ensure it was extremely easy to find), and I wish I could have videoed my mother-in-law’s reaction to the whole thing. It was absolutely priceless! First, her face showed sheer horror because she was angry that my father-in-law had not hid the golden egg in the spot she told him to. Next, was confusion because when our nephew opened the egg, the contents that fell out confused her. And lastly, was instant tears because she was putting it all together. Keep in mind, these all took place within about 20 seconds of each other. We couldn’t have asked for a better reaction. It was perfect!

The Gender Reveal:
As I mentioned a few posts ago, we ended up having a gender reveal party because we all know Kristi can’t do nothing about something this exciting. It was actually really great because it took place the weekend before the 4th of July when my family happened to have time off as well. We were able to find out the gender of our baby along with most of our family and lots of friends.

For the theme, I ran with a Pink, White & Blue Baby-Que theme where all the decorations were shades of pale pinks, whites and light blues. We grilled out traditional BBQ food to keep with the summer theme. And we decided to go along with the Independence Day celebration and shoot off a firework, which would let us know the gender of our little baby.

Not shockingly at all (because people find ways to make money off of everything!), there are gender reveal fireworks, which we purchased for the big reveal.

Right before we shot off the correct firework (keep in mind not even Ryan and I knew if we were having a boy or a girl), I handed over the Fort Knox envelope from our ultrasound appointment to my trusty brother-in-law, and he took both fireworks down the street.

The video from the reveal is quite funny because there was so much confusion when the firework finally went off. First, it looks much pinker in the video than it did in person. And toward the end of the pop, the color changes from a pink to a green, but we were all thinking at the time that it was blue. So, forewarning to anyone who purchases these fireworks, the pink firework fades from pink to GREEN not pink to BLUE 🙂

It was such a fun day, and although Ryan is a little bummed our first born isn’t a boy that he can take out hunting and fishing with him (although I assured him you can do that with girls too), we are both counting down the days to November 14th when we get to meet our new little bundle of joy.

Making the Best of Small Spaces

Sometimes renting out a venue for an event really just isn’t in the budget, and that’s OK! Hosting an at-home soiree can be just as exciting and just as beautiful. Usually, the biggest issue when it comes to hosting an event at home is space because let’s be honest, most people’s homes are not made for 30+ people.

So for today’s blog post, I’ve pulled together a few tips and tricks for making your home a little bit more conducive for hosting a crowd.

1. Create a two-tier food display.
In lots of modern-day kitchens, there is a center island or peninsula that serves as a small breakfast bar. With other counters being used for clean up, food prep or beverage service, it’s nice to be able to have more space to serve from. My suggestion? Move your bar stools and replace that area with a 6-foot or 8-foot table depending on the length of your counter. By doing so, you’ve now created a two-tier serving area that has more surface area without taking up too much more space.

2. Maneuver your furniture.
I know it sounds crazy! My husband always looks at my like I am slightly off my rocker when I ask him to help me shuffle the couch to a different room or move our kitchen table, so it’s off centered in the room, but moving your furniture can improve the flow of the entire event. Plus, sometimes it makes way more sense to spend a few dollars renting or borrowing chairs that take up less space, so all your guests can be in one area at a time versus trying to cram in extra chairs around your pre-existing furniture.

3. When in doubt, move guests out.
I know I talk so frequently about not relying on the outdoors events, but if the weather is nice and you have the yard space, use it to your advantage!

3. Invest in a few folding tables and chairs.
They don’t even have to be pretty folding chairs and tables (although, that always does help the look of an event). Just having a few tables on hand that provide space for food service, gift tables and additional eating areas plus a few extra chairs can tremendously help ease your stress in having guests over. I promise that you will use them for birthdays, holidays, bridal showers, BBQs, etc. They make a great wedding registry gift!

4. Create decorations that are multi-purpose.
Use snack food as a way to fill and decorate your tables. Fill cute color-coordinated pails with munchies, so they add accents to the table while serving as food dispensers, or hang a monogram letter that doubles as a guestbook. It not only helps for small spaces but keeps your budget down as well!

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.

Be Bold With White

For anyone who knows me, I am all about color! The bolder and brighter, the better. In fact, it’s not shocking to see me adorned in neon workout gear or a bold nail polish color on my toes, and I might have slept in a room growing up that was painted “Taxi Cab Yellow.”

But over the years, I have slowly embraced a more neutral side and become totally OK with the color white, and I strongly encourage you to utilize white or another neutral when planning an event. I know all my designer friends out there are cheering right now because they’re all huge fans of “white space.”

Take this for example. Never in a million years did I ever think I would own white dishware. You want to know a secret? I now have not one but two cabinets FULL of white dishes. When Ryan and I started registering I put up a huge fight to not have white dishes, but in the end we compromised on a textured white pattern that was designed by the one and only Kate Spade. See? I still won there. The best part? She has all sorts of different accent plate designs that can be mixed and matched within the white dishes.

And when it comes to throwing a dinner party or putting appetizers on display at a get together, I am so glad I have all those white dishes. They are the foundation to the tablescape that allows other dishes to pop or guests to really appreciate the colors of food that are situated on their plate.

 

Photo by Scott Patrick Myers Photography

For a wedding, a classic ivory base palette can really allow for greenery to pop or touches of gold to couple with it to create a clean and glamorous design. I even surprised myself with choosing to use all white flowers at my own wedding with only greenery to accent the soft palette. I did, however, incorporate a fun, bold stripe that acted as my accent “color,” even though it was black and white.

Photo by D-Squared Designs

Now for those of you who are the complete opposite and own a wardrobe full of black and white clothing, you might want to embrace color a bit more. Maybe try a fun tassel earring in a bold color coupled with your LBD to make a statement at your next party. Or, make a bright bouquet of tulips the centerpiece at your next dinner party among the other neutrals on the table. And keep in mind, prints can be a neutral! Yes, my girl Stacy London confirms that. Think about it: leopard print is full of browns and blacks…yes, neutral colors.

Photo compliments of Redbook Magazine. 

So I am challenging you now! If you have incorporated the entire color of the rainbow into your home decor, try embracing the neutral side of things. And if color completely scares you, take a few baby steps by adding in one pop of it at a time.

Long Lost Blogger

Yes, I have become the blogger I promised I wouldn’t be who fell off the face of the Earth. Some of you may know but others of you may not that the reason blogging has taken a back burner is because Ryan and I have some very exciting news! We are expecting our first baby this November!

We shared the news with our families over Easter weekend and on social media two weeks later. The catch is I am just now finally getting around to blogging about it…sorry guys.

We are over the moon excited for our new bundle of joy! I will be 19 weeks tomorrow (almost 4 months for all of you non-baby people). That always drove me nuts that people having babies measured everything in weeks when I used to to not be able to easily comprehend that. It was similar to military time; I could compute it but would rather they just said it in standard time. Now I totally get the week thing with babies. If you ever have one, you will understand!

Of course we will be throwing a gender reveal party, which will happen in two weeks. Yes, that means I will have an envelope disclosing the gender of our baby at my house for 5 full days before we get to find out, but sharing that moment with family and friends will totally make it worth it! Ryan thinks it’s a bit over the top to throw a gender reveal party, but I quickly reminded him who he was married to 🙂

Now my nights have consisted of putting together registry lists, researching the latest and greatest baby products and pouring over mommy blogs. Hens the lack of blogging. But on top of that all, we are in the thick of wedding season, so I have tons of new content coming your way over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for the next post!

Here’s a little peek at the bump progress (10-18 weeks!)

The Knot Workshop: Kansas City

You guys! I had the coolest opportunity a few weeks ago to attend one of The Knot Workshops, which was in Kansas City. If you get a chance to go to one, I HIGHLY recommend it!

Not only did I learn a ton of information and how to utilize social media and digital platforms to grow a business, but there was lots of networking, gorgeous event details and beautifully catered food. Here are a few of the talented speakers we got to hear from throughout the day:

Jesi Haack, Owner & Creative Director of Jesi Haack Design
If you are arsty, love a good loud print and have ambition for big things, this girl will be a huge inspiration to you! Check out her work: @jesihaackdesign
Plus, she’s a mama of four kiddos, so she knows how to balance a kick ass career and being a family woman!

Brian Leahy, Owner & Lead Photographer at Brian Leahy Photography
Not only is this photographer crazy talented, but he has the networking game down to a science. He highly encourages digital stalking, which we all know I excel at, so I was loving his presentation! My favorite tip of his? Don’t drive to a networking event. Instead, Uber there, so you can spend valuable time looking at your potential contacts. Driving is a waste of time.
Check out his work: @brianleahyphoto

Stacy Stahl, Director at How He Asked 
Ok, this girl is simply a genius. Basically, she took my down time activity at work and created a successfully huge business idea out of it. She started the website HowHeAsked.com where they feature proposal stories, proposal advice and everything you could need for the perfect way to pop the question.
Follow her and all her proposal stories: @howheasked

The workshop took place at the beautiful Gallery Event Space in Kansas City and was adorned with beautiful pops of green, texture and bright flowers that created an urban garden party feel thanks to Ultrapom and Blue Bouquet. And catering was provided by the venue. Everything was creative and bite-size, and we all know I love mini everything! And of course the fabulous Madi Sanders from Madison Sanders Events flawlessly executed the entire day. Way to go, girl!

Booze Blowing Your Budget?

Let me start this blog first by saying what I tell all of the couples that I work with: Whatever alcohol you host for your guests, they will be grateful for and enjoy it. All hosts/hostesses stress about the bar; it’s inevitable. But stick to your budget, and don’t stress yourself out.

In a perfect world, yes guests would be able to order and enjoy whatever type of alcohol they would like or would normally order and have it taken care of. However, don’t force the open bar if that means you are going to have cut other details of your event that are important to you. Guests would much rather be offered beer and wine and be able to tear up the dance floor than having a full open bar and no entertainment.

My suggestion is find a happy medium. For example, offer guests beer and wine with a fun signature cocktail. The signature cocktail can coordinate with the theme of the event or represent the likes of the guest of honor. And you can control the price of the signature cocktail by using a well-grade or call-grade alcohol instead of top shelf. Unless you’re offering a drink on the rocks, guests are not going to be able to tell the difference between a cocktail that has 5 ingredients including well vodka or a cocktail that has 5 ingredients and Tito’s.

Another option is to mix and match when you offer specific types of alcohol. For example, if your venue or caterer offers a beer and wine package, a house bar package and a premium package, that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to offer one of those packages the whole time. Ask them if you can create your own customized package. Most likely, they will be willing to do so. For example, you could offer beer and wine during cocktail hour and throughout dinner and then open it up to a house bar for the remaining of the event. Keep in mind most guests are going to be eating during dinner and not up at the bar (for the most part).

Other things you want to keep in mind when selecting your alcohol menu is the price of mix-ins and garnishes. If you have a cocktail that has a blackberry-infused simple syrup, that is going to cost more than a cocktail with a simple lemon twist.

Lastly, make sure to ask your caterer or venue about service fees. There will be a bartender fee whether it’s combined into an overall service fee, a per hour price, etc. And if you are simply offering your guests a cash bar option, make sure to check if there is a minimum that must be achieved.

If you follow these tips and tricks, you will be able to host a fun and enjoyable event for all without breaking the bank!

Catering Questions

Above photo compliments of Pop Wedding Photography.

As much as I love all the decorations, fluff and creative details that are involved in each event, at my current job I most regularly give catering advice. For individuals who don’t throw parties or events for large groups, catering and food quantities can be overwhelming.

Now if you’re doing a plated dinner, catering is usually pretty straight forward because the chef and the kitchen take care of quantities, food ordering, etc. But what about those parties that offer more of a mingling, snacking atmosphere? Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way!

1. If price is a concern and your event is over a regular mealtime hour, go for the full meal.
Lots of hosts/hostesses automatically decide to offer appetizers instead of a full meal because it seems like it will be the cheaper option. In all honesty, it’s usually not. If you’re inviting guests to an event, for example, from 5:30-8:00 PM, that’s over a normal dinner hour. Guests will have the same appetite they would at a meal. Therefore, you are going to have to opt for heavy hors d’oeuvres, which a lot of times will come out very similar in price as a full meal.

2. Per piece, per person, by the dozen…this language is so confusing!
Above photo compliments of Pop Wedding Photography.  
Yes, each catering company will have their own way of pricing appetizers. Per piece and by the dozen are easy to quantify in your head, but how much do you order?

Per person pricing is easy to decide on because you figure your food out by your total guest count and don’t have to worry about how much each person will eat individually.

Most per person appetizer pricing is usually roughly 2.5 pieces per person. That accounts for those guests that take an average serving, don’t eat at all and those who load up their plate with appetizers. The more variety you offer, the less of each item you will need order. I

3. Passed hors d’oeuvres are always a good idea.
As long as your group is large enough, I always suggest the idea of passed appetizers for a few reasons in particular. First, it’s a simple way to class up an event and create a fancier atmosphere. And although you usually have to pay more for the service of appetizers versus on a self-serve table, guests are more likely to eat less. And ultimately, that will save you some money. It’s true. When someone is watching you, everyone takes less food.

4. Know your guests and their dietary restrictions.
If there is one individual in a group of 50 that has a dietary need, don’t completely alter your menu for that one person. But it is polite to take allergies and dietary needs into account. I always recommend offering a wide variety of options, especially when it comes to appetizers. Offer a vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free and shellfish-free option.

When it comes to more formal meals, obviously it is a little bit harder to dodge all allergies, but it’s always polite to include a notation spot on an RSVP card or make a note on the invitation for guests to voice dietary needs when RSVPing. Most individuals who have these needs are usually pretty good about letting you know and/or avoiding them on their own at the party itself. Most catering companies will offer specialty meals for one-off instances like this.

5. Label, label label!Whether it’s a menu card at each place setting or labels on a buffet table, make sure to include ingredients or warnings about ingredients. For buffet tables, I love to use porcelain labels, such as these ones from Amazon, because you can write on them with dry-erase markers, and they can also double as place cards for smaller gatherings.

6. Opt for a dessert bar.

Dessert bars have been trendy at weddings for a few years now, but they are the old faithful when it comes to hosting an at-home event. Whether you’re filling your table with homemade treats, miniature cheesecakes or doughnuts, guests love to be able to pick and choose. And it’s another fun element to add in something that’s customizable, for example a build-your-own sundae bar or a cupcake decorating bar.

Now I am going to be honest, booze is a whole other topic that usually has THE MOST questions, but I will be tackling that in my next post. For now, happy tasting!

 

Turning Heartache Into Happiness

Photo compliments of NBC.com

Timing is rather ironic. Last Friday, I worked with a member who unfortunately had planned a visitation and memorial in honor of someone very special in her life. What I expected to be a particularly somber event turned out to be exactly the opposite.

Guests drank, ate, shared stories and celebrated the lost life of the individual in a rather boisterous way. And looking out into the sea of guests, I couldn’t help but think it was the perfect reason to celebrate. To celebrate the memories, to celebrate the good times and to celebrate a full live well lived.

*Spoiler alert: If you watch This Is Us and haven’t watched Tuesday’s episode, DO NOT read on.*

As I nestled in on my couch to watch This Is Us, the plot unfolded as a memorial for William that he had wished to be planned by his two granddaughters. Why you might ask? Because he knew that it would be a happy celebration filled with all of his favorite things. Pretty sweet if you ask me!

The day was called a “fun-eral,” not funeral, because it was to be a day filled with fun. They ate breakfast foods because that was William’s favorite, they shared stories of their fond memories and even took a celebratory walk just as William used to through the neighborhood all wearing their “old man hats.”

It’s been so refreshing to be surrounded by happy thoughts associated with funerals and celebrating life instead of mourning it. Now if you ask me, that’s quite a nice way to be remembered, don’t you agree?