Who doesn’t love a backyard wedding?? It is intimate, family oriented, and most of all its usually in a home that already holds so many memories. Use these tips to ensure that you backyard wedding… More
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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???
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.
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!\
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 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).
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.
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.
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
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.
Bake at 425° for 45 minutes
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
“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!
For me the holidays are made extra special by scents and food. Just catching a whiff of fresh pine, warm spiced cider, 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.
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
**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.