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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!

Beach Wedding Tips

The sun on your face and the sand in your toes are wonderful additions to any wedding day.  Part of what makes a beach wedding so fantastic is that your guests get to go on a mini-vacation with you, whether it is a destination wedding or a local beauty.  There are many aspects that require attention; public vs private beach, bare-feet vs sandals vs heels if you are adventurous, and how you are going to keep your guests from melting in the sun.  If you are looking to have a beach wedding, I hope these tips help with the planning of your special day!

1. Time it Right

If you are planning a beach wedding please have the ceremony take place during the day.  The view is the reason you picked this gorgeous backdrop, right?!?!?  Avoid busy times; take into account the time of year, especially if you are planning to get married on a public beach.  Also, try and avoid the heat by planning an mid afternoon to early evening ceremony.  Track weather and prepare for the instability of an outdoor event; wind, rain, tide and heat.  Always have a backup plan!  When combating the sun, some options to offer guests for protection are sunscreen, handheld fans, decorative umbrellas, or a covering so your guests can focus on your wedding and get a break from the heat.

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2. Beat the Heat

Take the heat into account when planning your wedding decor.  From your food to flowers, it is important to utilize heat resistant items.  Flowers like plumeria, orchids, and succulents are beautiful and will withstand the heat. Also consider using local floral; this will add to the authenticity of your wedding decor and is a great way to highlight local sources. Be sure to avoid hydrangea and roses, both will wilt in the heat and require a lot of water to maintain their beauty.  Using heat resistant candles, such as outdoor or flameless candles, is a great way to transition from ceremony to reception.  For dessert, try fondant in place of cream for your icing; it is less likely to melt.

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3. Be Heard

Crashing waves and that salty breeze are a big part of why the beach is so magical. However, the waves and wind make it hard for other sounds to travel.  Use a microphone for the ceremony so that guests can enjoy your ceremony, and have a sound system set up so your ceremony music can be heard.  If you plan on having live music, mic them as well.  Be sure to use a wind screen on your mic to spare your guests the sound of wind overpowering your vows. You can easily find a wind screen online for under $10, typically made of foam. Just place it over the mic to ensure your ceremony is heard by all.

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Feet in the sand

4. Dress the Part

Beach weddings tend to be more relaxed, especially with the sand, bare-feet and sunshine.  It is important to dress appropriately and comfortably so that you both can enjoy your day.  Silhouettes like an airy sheath cut work well with a beach setting, especially in fabrics like cotton, linen, and crepe.  Dresses in a blush or pale blue will pop against the beach background and work well for a wedding gown or bridesmaids dresses.  Be wary of elaborate veil styles; you don’t want it to end up wrapped around your face courtesy of a lovely gust of the ocean breeze.  If you have your heart set on a veil, save it for dramatic wedding shots with it blowing in the wind.  It will be easier to control in that setting as opposed to when you are walking down the aisle.

There are many factors to consider for a beach wedding including weather, clothing, and flower and food spoilage.  Seasoned vendors are sure to help you ensure that your day runs smoothly and beautifully.  No matter what, enjoy your day alongside the crashing waves; it’s your wedding day!

Weeknight Spaghetti Squash

Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone, and I am still struggling to wake up from my food coma. After inhaling all of the holiday southern food I am looking far something different for my tastebuds.

I love Italian food!  It’s a fantastic comfort food, that is great for a mid-week dinner.  As a gluten intolerant individual it is not always easy to fulfill my craving.  Thankfully there is spaghetti squash to help create gluten-free friendly Italian dishes.  One of my favorite ways to prepare this miracle squash is with pesto and veggies

1 Spaghetti Squash

1 7oz container of pesto

1 container heirloom cherry tomatoes

2 yellow squash

3 garlic cloves or 2 tsp of minced garlic

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Garlic Powder (a pinch)

Preheat oven to 400°.  Cut the spaghetti squash in half, make sure that cut away from yourself (safety first!).  Drizzle olive oil on each half, about a tablespoon per half, lightly sprinkle salt and garlic powder on squash.  Place on pan and roast at 400° for 45 minutes, or until tender (to check poke with a fork).

While the spaghetti squash is cooking, halve the tomatoes and dice the yellow squash.  Sauté the tomatoes and yellow squash, for about 7 minutes so veggies are al dente, with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Place pan to the side until spaghetti squash is done.

Allow the spaghetti squash to cool somewhat and get ready to shred!  It is easier to use a kitchen towel to help grip the roasted squash while holing the squash at an angle and shredding it with a fork into a large sauté pan.  Sauté the shredded spaghetti squash with a teaspoon of olive oil and the minced garlic for a minute, and then add pesto.  Cook until all flavors are incorporated, which should only take about 5 minutes, then mix in sautéed veggies.  Top with parmesan and enjoy!

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Holiday Togetherness

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”  Holiday season is here!  Christmas decorations are everywhere the Thanksgiving fixings have been picked over and the busiest traveling, shopping and eating season is upon us.  Sometimes with all the lights and presents we lose sight of what this time really means.  One of the challenges of this season is combining holiday traditions. Whether its friends, family or colleagues every group has its own way of celebrating and staying connected.  I have learned that by speaking up, compromising, and making a genuine effort to trying something new you can have a fulfilling and stress free season.

When I began dating, my now husband, I immediately was introduced to the world of sports and the outdoors.  At first I was extremely self-conscious of how I sounded when I tried to talk sports, or how out of shape I was. Being exposed to their family traditions allowed me to awaken a side of me that I had not to fully develop.  During our last visit to Colorado I opened myself to each experience, letting go of any self doubt.  I was able to knowledgeably support my husband’s alma mater, rush the field, and shoot a gun and loved every second of it.  When those opportunities for a new experience pop up grab onto them!

 

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For me the holidays are made extra special by scents and food.  Just catching a whiff of fresh pine, warm spiced sider, or fresh pumpkin pie transports me to childhood memories. So when I found out my husband is anti-tree murder, I was crushed.  While the adult in me understood that cutting down trees simply to decorate and then throw away is incredibly wasteful and bad for the environment, the child in me wanted to throw a tantrum and scream “you cant have christmas without a real tree!”.  Thankfully the adults in us have found a solution!  Fill the house will soy spruce and pine scented candles and have a fake tree.  We both were able to speak up and say what makes the holidays special to us without ignoring the other’s viewpoint.

It is really easy to get caught up in self imposed or assumed societal standard during the holiday season.  When it comes down to it the real purpose of the holidays is to enjoy each other to the best of everyone’s ability.   The best part of combining traditions is creating new ones, and celebrating the life that you have created with the people you have chosen to spend your life with.  As a new sports enthusiast and food obsessed individual I love when we can create ways to honor both of our backgrounds and traditions. Remember that the holiday season is about being together, and however you chose to celebrate it.

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Trader Joe’s Holiday Hacks

Sooo its that time of year, when you have a ton of gatherings, parties, and family dinners and you almost always need something to bring.  Year round I have a serious obsession with all things Trader Joe’s.  When it comes to hosting or attending  seasonal festivities TJ’s helps make everything bright.  These are the five ways that Trader Joe’s has saved my holiday season.

  1. So much holiday gluten free goodness! I am currently hooked on their new Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread/ Muffin Mix which is $3.99.  These babies only require 2 eggs, water and oil and in 22-25 minutes you have a fall celebration in your mouth!  They are super flavorful and seasoned to perfection.  They are so yummy and easy that my husband started baking them, and then ate the fruits of his labor…..
    • If you need other GF friendly holiday staples try their GF Cornbread Muffin Mix, Stuffing, and Pumpkin Pancake Mix.  All of these have been tested by gluten intolerant and gluten tolerant alike, and loved!
  2. Silk Almond Hazelnut Creamer $4.99 + Houseblend Coffee $13.99= a great start to your day.  Finally there is that autumn chill in the air that makes a morning cup of coffee extra rewarding!  I love sharing coffee and conversation when guests are visiting.  Whether it is a mid-day pick-me-up or an aid for early consciousness this combination is a fall hug from the inside out.
  3. Looking to roast your turkey with fresh organic herbs?? Organic Thanksgiving Herb Bouquet, $3.99 to the rescue!  Use this enticingly scented bundle of sage, rosemary and thyme for turkey, stuffing, or even butternut squash soup.  These savory herbs are also great for earthy aromatic table settings.
  4. Wanna be the hostess with the mostess?!  Keep on hand TJ’s Cranberry Chevre Log $3.99, Erath Pinot Noir $12.99, and their Fig & Olive Crackers $3.99, and you are sure to impress any friends and family that stop by unexpectedly.  The tart cranberries, atop the flavorful crackers, paired with the smooth fruity red is a well balanced combo that certain to leave everyone satisfied.  If you do not drink alcohol warm up some of their yummy Apple Cider which is $2.99 and throw in a fragrant cinnamon stick in for extra cheer.
  5. Carrot Souffle, is it dessert or an addition to dinner?  Thankfully this versatile deliciousness can cover so many bases you will be prepared for dinners and potlucks all season long.  This pre-made side-dish is great for those who don’t have time to cook but still want to bring a crowd-pleaser.  Only $4.99 TJ’s Carrot Souffle is a steal.

I hope these tips will help you enjoy your holidays to the fullest.  Being prepared can help this season filled with memories and not stress.  Be sure to check in often for more hosting tips to ensure all of your events are beautiful and go smoothly.

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**I have included the  prices of these items at my local Trader Joe’s, sorry if they do not reflect the pricing in your area.

What My Wedding Taught Me

So, as a planner I thought doing my own wedding would be so much easier.  I knew a lot of vendors, I had done multiple events, I knew what details were important, basically I thought I could do it in my sleep.  Then I got engaged… And everything became real….

I realized that I couldn’t control EVERY detail, I could only plan and hope for the best.  As a perfectionist I thought I was the only one that could handle all the tiny tasks.  I learned to compromise, prioritize and most importantly breathe.  No wedding ever goes perfectly; somebody doesn’t show up, people are late, items are missing and you might even spill something on your dress…

The most important part, I realized, is that I had found my person, and I was able to be surrounded by a great group of family and friends.  My wedding was perfect, it showed me how blessed my husband and I are to start our life together.

So no matter what mishap occurs on your wedding day know that it is perfect because its your day, and its the start of something beautiful.  Cherish the day, every moment, it goes by in a flash.

Sarah & Dawood

Sarah and Dawood got married on August 28th, in Huntington Beach, California.  They were surrounded by 267 family friends to celebrate the the beginning of their new life together.  We were so happy to have be a part of their wedding day, they were such an amazing couple to work with.