Celebrate!

Ideas for Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties and Other Celebrations

Who doesn’t love to celebrate?!?! I enjoy any chance to bring the people I love together, to eat, drink and be merry.  With any successful event, planning is key! When bringing a group of people together its important to factor in participation costs so everyone can partake.  Many of the following ideas are more geared towards bachelor and bachelorette parties but can be used for birthdays, random acts of bonding, and just because days. Wether you are planning to celebrate the end of your single era with your friends the day before or months advance, its always good to have the particulars figured out as early as possible.

One Day Celebrations

When celebrating a birthday, engagement or connecting with friends it is always great to have an activity. Some fun interactive activities are  going to a local sports game, attending a painting class or craft night (drinking and creating? yes please!), having an arcade night, or hosting a cookout.

If you are into a craft night like Cocktails and Canvases it is always helpful to check Groupon or Living Social since they are almost always have deals available.  Before buying any deal make sure you check what classes they offer to ensure you will enjoy the subject, and check the dates against everyone’s calendar.

When planning an outing to a professional sports game to minimize costs it is good to try and go to soccer, baseball, or rugby games. These are typically the least expensive professional sports in most areas.  You can typically get tickets under $15 at most baseball stadiums, if on a budget stay away from Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium they are some of the most expensive tickets in the league.  Fun facts; the cheapest tickets in the league, Angels at $9.80, parking Tampa Bay at $0, hot dogs Cincinnati at $1, and the cheapest beer in the league is a tie between Cleveland and Arizona at $4.  Also if you are looking for atmosphere and not the big name athletes take in a minor league game or look into off-season

Something like a potluck or game night is also a great way to have fun and be budget conscious. When hosting an event at your house, don’t be afraid to ask for a little help, small things like bread, salad, beverages, and side dishes add up.  If one person doesn’t have to take care of everything the host/hostess is more likely to enjoy themself and not be ridiculously stressed.  Unless you are me; and then you will probably be stressed no matter what, but love every minute of it.

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Cocktails and Canvases in Denver, CO

Budget Friendly Trips

A trip is a fun way to “trap” people you love into a location and force them to do all the lame things you love, right? Or it could be a great time to have an adventure with some of the most important people in your life.  When planning a budget friendly trip for a group of people keep the following tips in mind.

Find Local Beauty

Instead of going to Las Vegas or Miami, try somewhere else just as beautiful and exciting.  Most people live close to a local beauty or a water source like a beach/lake, camp site, or mountains that will provide a wonderful backdrop to a trip filled with great memories.  If most of your people are in the same state road tripping is a convenient way to make it accessible to a lot of people. Also who doesn’t love a good road trip?? Another positive is that people can carpool which helps with keeping costs low.

Rent a House

Look into borrowing a friends second home or look into renting a house thru Airbnb, VRBO, Home to Go, Home Away or other house-rental sites.  Renting a house and splitting the cost between all guests can help make a weekend stay cheaper than one night in a hotel.  Another way to save is to rent a house during the off-season, also there will be less tourists around to photobomb your pics.

If you haven’t guessed it I think the best way to save money on a trip is to find ways to split the bill multiple ways! I was lucky enough to have a friend let me use her family cabin in Idaho to host my bachelorette, it was the perfect backdrop for relaxing, being silly, and enjoying the outdoors.

Food

Eating and drinking out can really make a trip or outing expensive.A good rule of thumb to ensure you don’t spend a fortune on eating out is to plan meals ahead and stock the fridge.  Eat out for one night only and savor it.  Partaking in nibbles and drinks at home really help with costs and saves everyone from taking taxis!  I love those intimate moments when you stay in with friends and create a meal together, no rush, just having great conversation and yummy food.

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Friends Family Cabin in Idaho

So, remember, when gathering your loved ones for a celebration, it’s best to start early to give everyone time to plan. Get creative with budget friendly options; everyone will be grateful for this! Plan activities that everyone can enjoy and partake in. Don’t be afraid to delegate small tasks when people ask if they can do/bring anything. And most importantly, remember to have fun and don’t sweat every single, minute detail. Your friends are there to celebrate, not to judge you for buying a pie crust rather than making it by hand!

New Wedding Trends of 2017

It’s a new year, which means it is time for new wedding trends!  It is always great to see the different takes on weddings that emerge with each new season. From decorum, to color palette, to food, these are some of my favorite trends that are happening in 2017.

Let’s get inspired!

Local Fare

It’s your day to celebrate you! Why not also celebrate your local area by highlighting local vendors and talent? The farm to table movement has taken the culinary world by storm; what’s a better time to indulge your taste buds than your wedding?  Supporting your community is a great way to show off your town and maybe even get a discount ( locals only). Local food is almost always much tastier because it’s been harvested at its peak, handcrafted, and created with love. Have I sold you yet???

Metallics

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Metallic bridesmaids dresses, so much glittery goodness

Whether it’s gold, copper, silver, rose gold, or bronze, metallics are sure to add an extra dimension to your affair. Great for accent pieces, bridesmaid dresses, and accessories to add a sparkle. Metallics are extremely versatile, shimmery goodness that work with multiple color palettes and lend themselves nicely to many different styles. From casual to black tie, metallics will help any event pop.

Neutral Colors

Nothing says understated like a neutral palette. Whether it’s greys, nudes, or creams a natural palette helps to create a classic feel for your event.  An all white wedding is always romantic and airy and works for all seasons. By keeping the color scheme in the nude, grey, white, or cream range for your decor, you and your partner remain the focal point and gives your day a touch of modern elegance. A neutral bouquet can also add a lightness to your day that lets you and your joy shine through.  If you are looking for a way to make the focus your venue, or if you simply love a clean look, a neutral color scheme will work great for you!\

Drama

Who doesn’t love at little drama?? At least when it comes to decor 😉 . A fun way to add some drama to your wedding, that doesn’t involve tears, is hanging floral arrangements.  They give a room a sense of flow and are sure to be a conversation starter.  Adding height and points of interests at different levels keeps your guest engaged with the decor.  

Another great way to add some drama to your wedding is to add a bold color to accent your special day.  A vibrant color can bring brightness and playfulness to your wedding.  A splash of brightness works especially well as an accent color to offset a neutral palette. A bright color is sure to keep you guests captivated throughout your wedding.

Tiered Cake

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Tiered cakes are back!!!! And, I love a tiered wedding cake! This doesn’t mean you have to give up your s’mores bar or other yummy goodies; it’s just a great center piece that, to me, screams wedding.  This classic wedding staple has gone from intricate, to simple, to simply forgotten.  While I love a great wedding cake, it doesn’t need to be towering, pure white, or super fancy; there are great versatile wedding cakes these days.  Some of my favorites are an almost-naked cake or one decorated in floral and greenery that creates a textures. Both of these styles are great for garden, vintage, and rustic themes (just to name a few). 

Photography

Photobooths have come a long way. Now you can do slow-motion, green screen, digital prints, and even animated GIFs.  If you don’t want a fancy booth, or it doesn’t fit into the budget, you can always supply props and a backdrop.  No matter what kind of photobooth you decide on, they are a great way for guests to interact with each other and create extra fun memories on your wedding day.

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Another great way to make your photo memories more unique is to try a new angle; photographers are starting to take photos from great heights.  Pics from way way up create these fun images that are great at capturing the celebration!

If visualizing your wedding is hard, look to to other sources, such as Pinterest, blogs, and weddings you have attended for inspiration. Just remember that this is your wedding, and it should be tailored to you and your partner. Don’t try to replicate other people’s weddings, because you both deserve a day that is unique and special, just like you.

Yes, I Hired a Planner

Part 2 of What My Wedding Taught Me

I like to think of myself as someone who thrives under pressure.  As a hospitality professional, I love the adrenaline rush that accompanies providing a service; I flourish during the toughest of situations.  However, I learned, while planning my own wedding, that one person can only do so much.  It was impossible to be in 15 places at once, make a million decisions by myself, and be my own day-of-coordinator while also getting married.

While trying to be a bride, fiancé, planner, and work full time I lost sight of the whole process.  After realizing I wanted to be present during my wedding, not running the show from behind the scenes, things came into perspective.  So I decided to take my wedding joy back with these 4 steps:

Step 1-Ask for help

Step 2-Learn to delegate

Step 3-Find a day-of-coordinator

Step 4-Take time to breath

Having someone handle the execution of our nuptials and the flow of the wedding day allowed me to take a step back.  Since I had handled most of the early details, when it came time to hand over the reins, our planner simply had to make sure the venue didn’t burn down.  She also gave me peace of mind that if any emergency did pop up she would handle it.  A planner does more than calm pre-wedding jitters; they fight for your vision, cover your day-of-coordination, make your wedding stress free, and ensure a venue flip is successful.

On my wedding day I was allowed to be present in the moment and not stress about each detail being perfectly executed.  This early wedding gift to myself saved my sanity and freed me, along with family and friends, from working my wedding.

**Keep an eye out for Part 3-What Planner Really Does

Yummy Quiche

Whenever my mom comes to visit she makes quiche, which always makes me very happy.  Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this versatile dish is always a crowd pleaser!  I hope you love my mom’s Mexican inspired vegetable quiche as much as I do.  For this recipe we use a frozen gluten free pie crust that you can find at Whole Foods or Sprouts (FYI the gluten free crusts tend to be a touch smaller than average glutenous sized pre-formed pie crusts).

1 cup of broccoli florets, or zucchini

1/2 onion caramelized

1 small can diced jalapeño

1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cup pepper jack

Salt and pepper to taste

4 eggs beaten

1/3 cup milk

3 dashes of nutmeg

Caramelizing the onions takes about an hour, including prep, but the process is totally worth it in the end!  Dice half an onion and caramelize onions, heat about a teaspoon of oil in a pan on medium heat, add sliced 1/2 onion to the pan and cook on low for 45 minutes, stirring constantly.  Take off the heat once tender and place in bowl.

Sauté the broccoli, or zucchini, and the can of jalapeño until tender.  Make sure that the juices are fully evaporated so that your quiche has the right consistency, be especially careful if you use a wet vegetable like zucchini or mushroom.  Combine vegetable with the caramelized onions.  Pre-heat oven to 425°.

Add the cheese to bowl and mix thoroughly.  Take the mixture of vegetable and cheese and put in pie crust.  Mix eggs and milk in measuring cup so that it is easy to pour.  Make a hole in the center to add egg and milk mixture.  Wait until the egg mixture reaches the side of the crust. Do not fill to the top of the crust edge, it will overflow.  Top with a sprinkle of nutmeg, prior to popping into the oven.

For a nice even bake place quiche on the middle rack.  You will know your quiche is done when it is golden brown on top and there is only a slight jiggle in your filling.

Enjoy!

Bake at 425° for 45 minutes

Rhea & Nick

Rhea and Nick were married on October 29th, 2016, in Jiquilillo, Nicaragua.  Rhea was escorted by her father down a picturesque beach to the sound of a mariachi band, walking to meet her soon-to-be husband under a  handmade canopy, the high tide lapping at the bride and groom’s feet.  They were surrounded by 30 friends and family members at the intimate sunset ceremony as they exchanged handwritten vows.  As the sun sank into the horizon, the bride and groom were surprised with a wedding bell piñata and started their marriage with a bang.  The ceremony was followed by music and dancing until dawn.

So many details in Rhea and Nick’s wedding clearly illustrated their individuality, from the barefoot ceremony and the map of Nicaragua in place of a guestbook, to the blue hearts encircling the ceremony site surrounding everyone in love.  Each unique detail allowed the guests to be a part of the love story that is Nick and Rhea.  A moment that brought tears to every guest’s eyes was the blessing of the rings, a part of the ceremony during which the couple’s rings were passed to each guest for them to say something about the couple, marriage, or simply to hold the rings to their lips.

Being a part of their special day was such a blessing.  Their tranquil destination wedding was filled with so much love from friends and family and was an adventure that brought together an amazing group of people from around the world in celebration of their marriage. Their wedding was a beautiful start to their lives together and bearing witness to this beginning was incredibly special.

 

 

Lets Pick a Venue!

You have just gotten engaged, congratulations!  Now that you have found your person, how do you start the process of getting married?  Almost everything about your wedding revolves around the venue; your date, color scheme, vendors, style of dress, and decor.  Of course you are going to have a tentative date set in mind but locking in the venue means you have a starting point for which the rest of you plans take-off from.  The most important factors that will help you decide your venue choice are price, location, amenities, and style/vibe.  So get out some paper and lets starting comparing venues!

When looking at a venue you gotta see whats included in the fee!  Budget is the most important factor when planning any event, so be realistic when deciding on your venue.  You may find the most amazing location but if you can’t afford to feed your guests it is not a practical choice.  When looking at a venue price it is important to consider what is included, because additional costs can add up.  Basic chairs and tables are usually included but if you find a venue that includes set-up, clean-up, linens (that you actually like), it is extremely helpful to a budget friendly wedding.  Since budget usually runs the whole wedding its essential to ask questions and know all the costs included.

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Venue in Huntington Beach, CA

Location! Location! Location!  Where do you want to get married??? In the mountains? On the beach? Downtown?  So many options!  Your location will most likely fit into your style of your wedding, if you are thinking rustic you will probably lean towards the outdoors.  If you are thinking outdoor or an unconventional location, remember that you may have to create a venue yourself and rent table, chairs and even tents.  You should also consider how accessible the site is for your guests, looking into providing a shuttle or locating hotels nearby the venue is super helpful for your guests to have the best time possible.  Having shuttles to where the majority of our guests stayed was important to us because our venue was located off a windy unlit road and we didn’t want to endanger our guests leaving our wedding.

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Monty’s Beach Lodge, Nicaragua

Besides looking great a venue needs to give you a little more!  Seeing what a venue have to offer can really sway one’s decision on whether it is going to work for your special day.  Amenities that you need to be on the look out for are parking options, venue capacity (gotta be able to fit your guests), DJ set-up  (do they have an installed sound system?), kitchen options, ceremony space vs. reception space vs. flip options (sometimes you can save costs by only using one site and flipping the space from ceremony to reception), getting ready space (its more efficient for a bride to ready onsite), and most importantly all these amenities need to come in the form of a site that you love!  It is important to find a venue prior to finalizing other vendors because some venues charge extra if you use caterers, photographers, and DJs that are not on their preferred vendor list.  We almost changed our caterer because of extra fees (they were not a preferred vendor) in the end we kept them because finding great gluten free Italian food is hard to come by.  There is a benefit to using preferred vendors, they know the location inside and out.  No matter what venue you choose you need to make sure that it provides the services that you need to have a great wedding day!

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Boettcher Mansion in Golden, CO

Wedding decisions are emotionally based, I mean this is a big deal and its going to be an emotional filled day (all good emotions I promise).  When you walk into a venue how does it make you feel?  What are the feelings that you are hoping to evoke from your guests?  Keep these answers in mind when choosing a venue.  If your wedding is suppose to be modern, a cabin will definitely work against you.  You can always take a blank space and build on it, but it is incredibly hard to turn a a rustic cottage into a classic elegant space.  I am not saying that it is impossible to do but it will take a lot of cost, decor, and time to switch up the space to work for you.  Your wedding should feel like you both as a couple, so be honest about who you both are and the experience you want your guests to have on your wedding day.

Your venue sets the mood and is a huge deciding factor for your wedding.  Now that you have your partner, make a list together to prioritize your wants for a venue so that you are both on the same page.  Once you both have an idea of what you want, research your little hearts out!  This will make it easier to compare each venue focus in on the perfect place.  Good luck! May the best venue win!