A place for help, advice, and ideas

Monday, August 30, 2010

Food- Part III Desert

Lately desert has become so much more than wedding cake. I'm going to focus on desert hours (yes, you read the right an hour of desert).

If you want to learn more about wedding cakes, go read this post by F.

To desert we go! There are so many great options out there right now for desert hours.

Candy Bars are a pretty great trend! They can be done pretty inexpensively and can leave a big impact. Candy bars can be done in your wedding colors and the canisters can be picked up from major retailers like Target. Think outside of the box for canisters, try using pillar candle holders. Buying candy at wholesale is also key. In addition, most candy has a long shelf life so consider buying at the end of different holiday seasons when candy goes on sale. Bonus if you pick colors coordinate with a holiday, red (Christmas & Valentine's Day), green (Christmas), blue (Hanukkah), pastels (Easter), pink & red (Valentine's Day).

Most sources suggest 3-8 ounces per guest, but even with that figure you want to make sure that your candy buffet has a presence. If you are placing it on a large table you don't want it to look slim. So it's important not only to consider the amount of candy per guest but also the size table you are using.

Make sure to include bags or boxes so that guests have someplace to put their candy goods! Also consider making fun labels for the candy which will not only make it easier for guests to pick what they want, but is an inexpensive way to spruce the table up.

Tip: Candy Bars are great for showers too!

Another option for desert hours are cookie bars. Similar to the candy bar idea cookie bars are arrangements of cookies. In addition you would be shocked about how many major grocery chains have great cookies. Cookie bars also can include homemade cookies by moms, grandmothers, aunts, and friends! Try combining both the cookie and candy bars for little something extra. I recently heard that cookie bars are very famous in some areas of Pennsylvania.

Simple plated desserts can't be forgotten about either. I always feel they are the most formal of all the options and usually include your wedding cake and another desert.

Recently, I attended a wedding where their was passed deserts. Treats were passed (by the waitstaff) around the venue for an hour. They had ice cream, cupcakes, sorbet, cookies, and so much more! It was delicious.

I'm curious what are you doing for desert?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Crazy Week!

It's been a crazy week over in our house. We returned form our belated honeymoon in Costa Rica and it's been such a struggle to get back into the swing of things! I left my food posts hanging without any desert. I'm hoping to finish that I'm this week.

P.S. Belated honeymoons are amazing and Costa Rica was such a perfect choice.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Floral Inspiration

I am a big fan of simple bouquets consisting of one type of flower, especially for bridesmaids and I found these white anemones to be so unbelievably beautiful, especially with the bright pink dresses that I was inspired to share them with you this morning.

(Image via Style me pretty)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Perfect Moments XX

No Words Needed. Perfection. Happy Almost Friday.

A special thanks to Meghan Sorel Photography for this inspiration

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


While weddings tend to be filled with happy emotions, they also seem to highlight the sad reality that people gone before us will not be able to attend and be part of the celebration as we wish they could. While we always miss those who have passed, on celebrations like weddings it becomes harder to ignore the fact that certain very special individuals are missing. For some it is a good friend, a parent, close grandparent, mentor, aunt, uncle, etc., but whoever it may be, the void cannot be filled. Rather then attempt to fill or ignore it, I suggest commemorating those individuals in a way that allows them to be close to your heart.

This is something I had to give much thought to when planning my own wedding as my husband unfortunately lost his father when he was 19 years old. It came to mind recently as I tearfully (and proudly) watched this now man escort his sister down the aisle 9 years later. 2 years ago I watched him give away his other sister's hand in marriage. With the planning of all three of our weddings within 3 years, each of the children commemorated their father in different ways, all of which were touching and in celebration of his life and all that he contributed to each of them. It was clear that He watched proudly from above on each of these days.

Along the years of attending weddings, I have seen many people pay tribute to those who have gone too soon in different ways and after this weekend, thought I would share some ideas with our readers. Some choose to make their memory something public, others more private,but however it is done, the important piece is to know that they are in your hearts and watching over your big day every step of the way.

-A memory candle: We chose to have a candle made and lit throughout the reception. As guests entered, they would find the memory candle lit, surrounded by flowers and a framed list of the names of those who gone before us whom we wanted to pay tribute to. Some choose to add poems, quotes, song lyrics or pictures surrounding the memory candle.

-A piece of clothing: A dear friend of ours lost her mother and on her wedding day, she had a piece of her mother's wedding dress sewn into the bottom of her own. It was a simple gesture that I found incredibly beautiful and touching. This can be done with any important article of clothing or something that was significant to that person (hankerchief, pocket scarf, etc)

-Jewelery/Other Significant Articles: Wearing significant jewelery is a way to keep them close in your heart, as is other things that were important to them. For instance, rosary beads around a bride's bouqet or something symbolic that the individual adored at the bride and groom's table.

-Pictures: Too many pictures of the deceased can be morbid, but one or two with the bride/groom can be a wonderful tribute. My sister in law wore a beautiful locket with her father's picture enclosed in it which brought tears to my eyes everytime I saw it

-A moment of Silence/prayer/reading:whether it be quietly amongst family prior to the hoopla of the big day, during the ceremony, or during a best man/maid of honor speech-it is an excellent, brief way to give rememberance to someone who cannot physically be part of the celebration.Using music, like their favorite song, is another idea that can be used.

-Programs: Many individuals who choose to have programs at the ceremony include brief dedication to someone who has passed

While these are only a few of our favorite general suggestions, there are many more ideas that we have seen other bride and grooms use that are individualized for the person who is so deeply loved. Making sure that the focus isn't on the saddness, but rather as a dedication and rememberance is key in order to continue on with the celebration of your marriage.

What other suggestions have others used, planned to use, or seen that helps to keep those who have gone before us close during the actualy wedding day ? We would love to hear.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Food- Part II The Dinner

After cocktail hour comes dinner. There are two main ways to do dinner at a wedding, sit down dinner and a buffet. There is also a third option while less common is still very practical. Let's break each one down.

Buffet: They are more casual and usually less expensive. They require far less wait staff for the guests which is key if you are staffing your own event. Buffets are great for early weddings because brunch items usually are very adaptable to buffets. Buffets should always offer at least two different types of entree. One of the best parts of a buffet is that you can offer more than one or two entrees. If you are only doing two types of meat I would stick with chicken and beef. However, I've seen fish substitute the beef and it works as well. The buffet should also include a choice between two vegetable and two starches. Think about it this way it's just like dinner at your house you want to cover at least three food groups. You also want to coordinate foods. If you are doing a filet, rosemary roasted potatoes would work well. You don't want to do beef tenderloin and Jasmine rice. The image below is an amazing buffet display. Notice the coordination and the table decor. I love the chalkboard menu too!

image via studio foto

As far as a salad or first course there are two ways to do this. You could have a plated salad. A waiter or waitress would bring each of your guests a salad or the salad would be placed at the seat while your guests are at cocktail hour. Below is a great example of what a simple plated salad would look like when the guests enter the room. Pretty right?

image via Mary McHenry

You could also include a salad in your buffet. Placing a salad bowl before the other food works well. I think it's best (if budget allows) to have a waiter or waitress at least manning the meat portions. Here is a great example of the salad portion of the buffet table.

image via Anna Kuperberg

Setting up your buffet is crucial. I love when buffets are accessible on both sides. I also think it's easier if silverware is at the end of the buffet. At least make sure that the buffet is off the dance floor you don't want food spilling and people falling and make sure that it's easy to access. If you have a wedding over 100 people having two buffet stations may be necessary (over 175 you may want to avoid a buffet all together). Creating risers is also really helpful and it adds depth to the food presentation.

Waitstaff or a DJ or can direct which table to go by either having the DJ announce it or a waitress or waiter stand at the table when it's their turn. You really don't want all your guests jumping up at once to grab dinner.In the image below you'll see a great example of a buffet that can be accessed from two sides.

image via Natalie Watson

One last tip on buffets they have a shelf life of about 2- 2 1/2 hours for both health and taste reasons.

Sit down: The more formal of the two options and usually (but not always) more expensive. You usually give your guests at least two options or serve a main dish that has two main components. If giving your guests an option try to include at least one menu on the table as it is often hard to hear servers over the other guests and music. As far as a salad or first course often times there is not an option and every guests gets the same plate. The image below shows a typical beef presentation at a sit down dinner.

image via Style Me Pretty

Some caters will request a rough estimate of how many people will want beef, chicken, or fish at your wedding. This can be done rather simply by including the three choices on the RSVP card. Again, guests can usually change their mind the day of the wedding as it's just an estimate.

Sit down dinners usually take more time than buffets so if you are both large party animals and don't want to spend time enjoying a full meal you may want to skip the buffet.

Family Style: In my experience this is the least common of the three dinner services, but offers some definite benefits. Cost wise this falls in between buffet service and sit down. It gives you a bit more formality (but still on the casual side) than a buffet service, but keeps the cost lower than a sit down meal. Family style basically means that two to three different dishes are presented on each table and divided between the guests at the table. Guests will either serve themselves or waiters and waitresses can serve the table. The salad could be plated individually or could also be added to the table. There are a few things you want to be aware of here, make sure your table arrangements are minimal as the food will take up a large portion of the table and you don't want things to get to stuffy. For the very same reason I'd also suggest keeping the amount of people at each table to a minimum as well. You also want to be careful with the foods you pick to serve. Typically Italian food is a great family style. Greek food and cornish hens also work out great. You want to avoid foods that require carving.

In both buffet and sit down dinners food during the dinner should not be crazy. You want something that most people will eat. Even if you and your fiance are big foodies Grandma Ann may not want to try foie gras at your wedding. Also, try to be somewhat respectful of dietary restraints and if possible offer vegaterian options.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Food- Part I The Cocktail Hour

This is going to be a series of three posts covering the three basic "food" parts of your reception, Cocktail Hour, Dinner, Desert.

Up first is Cocktail Hour.

Now, who doesn't love a good cocktail hour. Seriously, I think I do most of my eating during this part of the wedding. What can I say I'm a really big appetizer girl which means that cocktail hours are right up my alley.

Food: Most likely your caterer or venue will suggest items in which case head their advice, but ask for a tasting before the event. Go with things you love and that taste great. Often times people will say pick foods that compliment each other, but I'm going out on a limb and saying pick foods that are fun (and delicious). The cocktail hour is the time to pick foods that are fun!

Likely you will have either stations of food manned with wait staff, food on tables, passed appetizers, or some combination of all three.

If you are having manned stations you can include things that are made right in front of guests (great presentation). Items that work well on manned stations are pasta with different sauces, made to order sliders, quesadillas, mashed potato bars, sushi, and carved meat. Below is a great example of what a manned pasta station would like like.

image via Carla Ten Eyck

Unmanned tables should include easy self serve good. Items that are great simply placed on tables crudites, seafood, antipasto, cheeses, and fruit. Below are images of a simple tables with appetizers that are very easy to self serve great for tables. Notice the use of height in the first image (such a good way to add something to a simple table).

image via Carla Ten Eyck

Passed items that usually are fan favorites include pigs in blankets, mini potato puffs, sliders, bruschetta, and dumplings. The images below are creative and fun passed appetizers (I bet they taste good too!)
image via Laura Novak

You want to make sure all of your food can be eaten fairly easy, avoid very messy items and try to include at least one or two meat free options.

You may want to think about including regional foods that are special to you or your fiance. Marrying someone from New Orleans, Southern style grits, mini shrimp po-boys, etc. Love Mexican food think about including mini tacos or a quesadilla station.

Let's not forget the drinks!

Beverages & Alcohol: Each wedding and each couple is different. In general if you are going to do an open bar then guests will help themselves to what they choose. You could also have a few drinks to show off like a blushing bride or your grooms favorite beer, but please try to avoid beer can wedding pictures.

If you are not doing an open bar, but rather a few signature drinks this is a great time to show them off. Think about having a little fun. Infused vodka, margaritas, or spiked tea. Great presentation goes a long way think about large glass containers are always pretty and could be self serve. I'm not going really discuss cash bars. In my opinion if you are inviting people to a wedding you really can't do a cash bar. If you feel like you must then I would at least two beer and wine and then cash for only hard liquor, but really even then I think it's a no go.

Weddings without alcohol don't necessarily mean you can't have fun with your beverages too. Think about flavored lemonade, sweet tea, or cider. Again presentation goes a very long way. Below is a picture of a great non-alcoholic beverage presentation.

image via Ashley Garmon

Weddings are all about personalization. There are so many options when it comes to cocktail hour including having it before the ceremony.

What kind of cocktail hour are you planning?

Friday, August 6, 2010

One Year Later

"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrong doing
but rejoice with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."

Everyone always warns you to stop and smell the roses the week of your wedding because the whole affair becomes a whirlwind and before you know it, you are Mr. and Mrs. with months of planning behind you. Rarely though, was I warned about how the days after turn into weeks which turn into months and you land at your one year wedding anniversary in what seems like a blink of an eye. I can recall our wedding and all of the anticipation and excitement as if it was yesterday, yet so far away.

Last weekend, my husband and I woke up to a calm, cool, July morning without a cloud in the sky and as we sat outside we compared the day to the day we were wed. This led us into a conversation of reminscing about the day and all of what has happened since then. We laughed, smiled, and loved that morning a little more then an ordinary day. It is my vow in our marriage to make sure days like that are not few and far between. Life is short and it goes quickly, just like weddings, and embracing whatever it is you are experiencing in the here and now is vital.

So while we would normally be celebrating 11 years on August 6th, this year, we start back at one and celebrate our first anniversary as husband and wife-a very new and exciting journey. I look forward to what is to come and toast to the future.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Guest Post- Family & Vendors

This post comes from one of my very best friends. Carroll Anne and I have been friends since we were clad in braces with frizzy hair (trust me we have come along way). She got married right before I did in 2009 and thankfully provided me with so much advice, inspiration, and sanity in the months and weeks before my wedding. Carroll Anne offered the following advice about using family members as vendors.

If you're lucky enough to have a family member in the wedding planning business or even one who has always dreamed of being in the business, my bridal advice to you would be to...LET THEM HELP!

Planning a wedding is an enormous task, and having someone whom you know and trust guide the way during any aspect of your planning is a huge asset! In getting ready for my March, 2009 wedding, I was fortunate that my uncle is a florist. He's worked for a bunch of different companies and currently works for 1-800 FLOWERS. He is a natural at designing arrangements and has done so for practically his whole career. While using him to design my centerpieces and bouquets was a no-brainer, I did have some questions and/or hesitations when it came down to meeting with him "formally" for the first time.
1.) Will he understand what I want?
2.) Will his style clash with mine?
3.) How much do I pay him?
4.) What if I don't end up liking his work?
While these questions brought me a bit of anxiety, the first meeting with him went well and I was feeling relatively calm until the day he brought over a sample of the initial arrangements for the centerpieces. Unfortunately..I HATED THEM! The vision I had in my head was NOT displayed in the sample he presented to me. I felt awful, but I had to tell him I wasn't happy. He was initially a bit hurt (as I imagined he might be), but I simply told him that "this was not what I was picturing." He ended up re-vamping the design and worked tirelessly for two full days before my wedding re-constructing the twenty centerpieces that I needed for the dinner tables (don't think my neighborhood florist would have taken that time or effort to make sure everything turned out the way I wanted it to).
On my wedding day, the centerpieces turned out looking gorgeous! The bouquets were equally as beautiful--my uncle was proud, and I was a thrilled bride! To this day, my uncle and I are closer than we've ever been because of our "business arrangement" regarding my wedding flowers. And of course...my flowers were a fraction of the cost, had my uncle not taken care of them.

Word to the wise: Definitely let the family help out if they are willing to do so! In the end, you'll be happy you did. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Black tie? Blue tie?

It's pretty crucial to state the dress code on your invitation or you will likely field questions about attire. There are so many different types of dress codes and every bride seems to have a different idea about what each one means. I'm going to try and clear it up for you.

White Tie: Is not frequently used today, but you may (if you are royalty or travel in that circle) see it on an invitation from time to time. This is the most formal of all options. Men it means tails and you guessed it a white tie. Ladies long gowns only and you may want to break out gloves.

Black Tie, Black Tie Required: The most common of formal attire. Men it means a tuxedo and for the women it really means formal. Ladies will wear long gowns, but a formal cocktail length dress is acceptable. Brides keep in mind if you are requiring that people wear black tie your groomsmen must be in tuxedos. Maids should be in long dresses, but I've seen the rule broken.

Black Tie Optional, Black Tie Requested, Black Tie Invited: This is also very common for formal events. Men it means tuxedo if you have one or can rent one, but if not, a black suit is acceptable. Unless you are in the immediate family and will be in formal pictures in which case you should wear a tuxedo. Ladies it's the same as above, but more women may tend to wear formal cocktail length dresses. This is my suggestion if you are having a formal wedding. It may be a really big hassle to have guests go out and rent a tuxedo. Brides if you are using this dress code it's reasonable to assume your groomsmen should be in tuxedos, however, you can be a little more flexible with the tuxedo (i.e. leaving out elements like a cummerbund or vest). Maids can wear cocktail length dresses, but I'd still do long if possible.

Note: Formal and Black Tie Optional mean the same thing.

Semi-Formal: This is the most common of all wedding dress codes. Men this means suit (jacket and tie). Ladies cocktail dresses, leave the sundress and formal gown at home. Brides your groomsmen can wear suits.

Informal: This is typical for an afternoon wedding. Men it means trousers (not jeans) and a collared shirt. Most etiquette books would suggest a suit (dark or light) with or without a tie.

Destination Weddings: In general I'd make sure to consult the bride or host of the event. For the most part men can wear linen pants and a collared shirt and ladies can wear sun dresses. This is going to vary depending on the event and the place.

In general if you are confused about the attire consult the host. If you are going to be included in formal pictures be sure to ask the bride and even then always be on the formal side.

Did I leave something out? What was your dress code?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Invitation Formality

You never realize how much goes into those wedding invitations that usually arrive and get stuffed in a drawer or placed on the fridge until the date approaches. Once you are a bride you realize that there are so many questions to ask when it comes to invitations and what to write, but my take on it is to know your event before even attempting to cross that bridge. What I mean by that is make sure you and your future husband have an understanding of what you want the affair to be. Are you expecting guests in tuxedos? long gowns? beach dresses? khakis?.

The invitation is the first piece of the wedding that your guests are getting a taste of and so the formality, or lack thereof, should be sensed when they recieve it. For black tie and formal affairs, font is typically in a black font, embossed or engraved, lined envelopes and limited designs outside monograms. The words are written in proper etiquette form, ie " Mr and Mrs Smith request the honour of your presence" and the font is something classic and easy to read. For more laid back affairs, for instance backyard events, the words can be more casual. Think -rhymes, poems, etc. The color can vary and the design on the invite can also be more colorful and playful.

These are both extremes, but if your affair falls somewhere inbetween you can take bits and pieces from both to form the perfect invite. The font can be dark, but not necessarily black, their can be a bit more creativity with the addition of some form of design, and the wording can be proper but not completely out of your Emily Post etiquette book. The cardstock doesn't have to be the best, but shouldn't be flimsy either (FYI-110lb card stock is the standard, average card stock for those of you like me who had no clue when we began this process)and the font can be something a bit more exotic.

There are no real right or wrongs when it comes to invitations as long as they properly convey the type of event, and inevitably, the two of you as a couple. Going forward, I would save the invites that come in the mail so they can help spur ideas and inspirations.So what were/are your greatest invite questions? We'd love to be able to help!

Save this Seat

If you are having a large and or long ceremony you may want to consider reserving seats for your immediate family and bridesmaids.

There are several different ways of doing this. First, is simply to make your bridesmaids and immediate family aware that they are to sit in the first two rows, bridesmaids in the first row family behind them. In some churches maids will sit on the altar or to the side of it. For short ceremonies the wedding party may stand next the bride and groom. You would want to simply put a reserved sign on the first two or three rows.
image via Karen Wise

Another way of reserving seats is to send out within the ribbon cards to immediate family and close friends. These cards would match your invitation suite and be sent with the invitation to the family members that you wish to reserve seats for. In this case the first few rows (or however many you will need) will be ribboned off or have a sign that says reserved.
image via crane.com

image via brides.ca

Both of these cases work well if you have pews or rows of seating as you would not specify the order in which people sit.

In cases where you have individual seats that make up the rows and not one pew you may want to specify order. In which case signs on each individual chairs is a nice idea. Signs can be placed directly on the seat or on the chair back.

image via Aaron Delesie

Image via brides collection by Anthony Vazquez

If you love the idea of signs but don't want to specify order simple signs like these could be used.

Reserved seating may not be a required item in a ceremony by any means, but it does add to church decor and is a very easy and low budget DIY item.

I want to know are you reserving seats?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vendor Spotlight- Makeup by Melinda

This vendor spotlight comes from my favorite makeup guru. I met Melinda when she was the manager at Blue Mercury in Woodbury, NY. She has such a way of making people look like a better version of their natural self. She is a featured vendor with LIWEDDINGS.COM and have my own private portfolio of wedding makeup I have done over the years. You can contact me Melinda Sarabia @ (516)650-9340 orMelstar72@aol.com.

Here is our interview with Melinda:

SB: Tell us a little about yourself?

M: I fell in love with doing makeup over 13 years ago. I first thought of it as a "job" to get me through college. I didn't realized how exciting it would be and that it would become apart of my life and much less of a just a job. Clinique gave me my start and I built a good foundation, from there on I worked with some leading brands in the industry including in depth experience with MAC, Laura Mercier, and NARS. After my first bridal makeup experience, which happened shortly after I started doing makeup, I became hooked. I immediately fell in love with the process and began doing them regularly. Now years later I am proud to say I am a successful makeup artist here in Long Island, NY that services brides. I enjoy every aspect of doing makeup for the bride and her entourage and feel lucky when she chooses me among the rest. It is always a privilege. I assure all ofmy brides when they choose me, that she is hiring a professional individual that cares about her ideas and feelings. It's ok to open and honest with me because I will be your beauty bud every step of the way!

SB: What inspires you?

M: I am inspired all the time. nature, music, moods and fashion inspire me most. When I see a face I'm immediately thinking what features I would enhance without looking like makeup. What alterations can I make to this person makeup.

SB: You are one of the first people around when the bride is getting ready on the big day, how do you handle this?

M: With a smile, sense of calm, and a little humor. I tell my brides relish in the moment because before you know it the last swipe of lip gloss will be gone.

images from bride's personal collection via Anthony Vazquez

images from bride's personal collection via Anthony Vazquez

SB: What is the biggest makeup mistakes that brides tend to make?

M: Not understanding that you can't fake good skin and that you should address skin concerns from the beginning. Do not wait a week before the wedding and (if possible) have a makeup trial during the season in which you will be getting married.

SB: Oh, about Makeup trials do you always suggest a makeup trial before?

M: Yes!!! I have had the occasional "my friends makeup was amazing and I trust you" which is great and flattering, but I like to know what your beauty needs are, the textu
re of your skin, the color of your eyes. I like to set the stage for the day of.

SB: Would you rather a bride bring in an inspirational photo for makeup or come up with what looks best on her ?

M: Whatever the bride is comfortable with. I work it either way. As long as I know the level of makeup she is comfortable with we are good.

SB: For the brides that decide that a professional makeup artist isn't in their budget what advice would you give them?

M: I would suggest seeing a professional before hand. I have had many brides who get hitched on an island and come to me for a lesson and beauty must haves. If you comfortable with your skills and interested in learning more then go for it.

images from bride's collection via Anthony Vazquez

image from bride's personal collection via Anthony Vazquez

images from Melinda's personal collection