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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Risky business

We've all heard those cliché phrases: Life is short. Carpe diem. YOLO. Then there is the counter idea that life is the longest thing you'll ever do. Which do you live by? Is 80 years long enough for you? None of us are guaranteed 80, 90, or any amount of years on this earth. I believe that life is fragile, that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, and therefore we should seize the day. Not to say that we should make horrible or selfish decisions and blame it on living life to the fullest, but why not take a chance and train for that half-marathon (or a full one!)? Or travel to Venice before it sinks under the sea (I'm not sure if that's a rumor I believe or not)? Or attend a cooking class? Or try that new Greek restaurant? Life doesn't have to be monotonous where you wake up at 5, go to the gym (or snooze and wake up again at 6:30), work from 8-5, make dinner, kiss your kids good night, and start it all over the next day. To me life isn't about how much money you make or what kind of car you drive or how big your house  is or how nice the clothes that hang in your closet are; life is about making memories, taking chances, and doing new things that might scare you a little (ordering a falafel or skydiving: both scare me). When I'm 80 I want to look back at my life and think "what an adventure!" instead of "geez, I wish I'd done that." So I encourage you to get out there and try something new! I think I'll start with a falafel for lunch.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Backyard BBQ Fun

Here in Oklahoma we've been having some record-breaking high-temps, but don't let that deter you from entertaining some friends with good food and drink. Throwing a BBQ is easy and fun, and if you're in the middle stages of wedding planning, it'll help you to relax and enjoy some down time with your fiancé and friends.

Food and drink calculator:
For the food you'll want to get about 1 1/2 servings of the main dish per person (burger, hot dog, sandwich). You'll also want 1 1/2 cups of each side dish per person (salad, coleslaw, beans).
For every 25 people you'll need to have 2 big platters of pre-cut fruits and veggies plus a few bowls of chips for extra munchies.

For the drinks you'll need 1 1/2 drinks per hour per guest (if the math is getting too crazy, you can always just round up to 2 drinks--always assume people will drink more).
For every 25 people you'll want 2 gallons of water/lemonade/iced tea/soda in addition to the alcohol. If you're not serving alcohol then you'll want to do 4 gallons.

Now it's time to set the scene:
It seems like mosquitoes have deemed Oklahoma their breeding ground, but they can be defeated. The week before the party get rid of any standing water in the garden and gutters (shouldn't be hard since this summer we've hardly had any rain). Plug some fans in the day of the party. If you're serving the food on your deck set up two or three fans around the perimeter and even a small one near the food. You can also set up tiki torches that repel bugs and have some bug wipes on hand (be sure they're the kind that don't smell) for guests.

If your deck doesn't have a lot of lighting already then you'll need to add some so guests aren't left in the dark. Put strands of light on the deck, the fence, and in the trees. You can also put tealights on the tables and around the deck.

We've mentioned Oklahoma's crazy summer heat a few times, but what happens if guests complain? Have some handheld fans on hand (in a nearby basket) for guests to grab if things get too intense. You can also buy some cheap washcloths, roll them up and secure with a rubber band, and throw them into a cooler full of ice water. When a guest needs to cool down after tossing the frisbie with Fido they can grab one and put it on the back of their neck or on their wrists.

Ah, now for the music. If you're using speakers have them spread out and at a lower level (no one wants music blasting right at ear level). If you have a boom box or an iPod dock turn it toward the house, make it a little louder, and sound will carry better. As for the type(s) of music think about who you're entertaining. If you all like the same genre then you know exactly who to play, but if you have an eclectic mix of people then sticking with the classics is a safe and smart bet. Who doesn't like a little Rolling Stones, Beatles, Michael Jackson, or Stevie Wonder?

So get to planning, drink plenty of water, and show your guests a good time!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I know I'm forgetting something, but what??

Obviously with the hundreds of other things on your mind you're bound to forget a few things that might have people feeling left out or could leave you in a bind so we've compiled a little list of the top things brides tend to forget amongst all that wedding planning.

1. What are you doing right after the wedding?
Most newlyweds aren't boarding a flight directly after their reception so where do you plan on spending the night? Do you want the party with all your friends to continue at a club? Or do you just want to get a good night's rest? Make sure to plan this in advance so you aren't wasting time planning in the parking lot outside your reception venue.

2. Pack an overnight bag
If you're flying out the next day, you don't want to mess up everything in that luggage (especially if you folded everything neatly according to our ___________ blog) by digging in it for a travel outfit. Pack a separate small bag, and see if your maid of honor or a friend can drop it off at the hotel early so you don't have to worry about it being in the getaway car, etc.

3. What are you doing the day after the wedding?
Where are you going? Flying? Driving? Do you need your passport? Make sure everything you need is packed in advance, and that your bag is already at your hotel. If you're not going on a honeymoon right away, enjoy the weekend, and tackle thank-you's the next week.

4. Who's taking care of your presents, toasting flutes, extra favors, leftover food, etc.?
Have a plan set for your parents or whoever to take home the extra food and maybe have a get-together the next day to eat it up, or have someone drop it off at a local shelter or soup kitchen. And make sure whoever is taking your presents and memorabilia has a key to your place. Also, most importantly, have someone pick up your dress from the hotel, or if you changed before you left the reception have them take it home and get it cleaned and preserved, if you choose to do that. The sooner the cleaners works on any stains the better.

5. Decide where everything goes
When you meet with us, we have a detail meeting where we discuss exactly how you want the room set for your big day. We'll discuss options for the bar, your favors, your departure item (anything but sparklers), etc. so that way we both know what's happening the day of and can keep things flowing smoothly.

6. Extra decorating
We take care of the centerpieces for you, but if you want to add something extra to the cake and food tables (shells and net for a beach-themed reception?) bring it in to use early, and we can set it out for you! Our bathrooms each have a nice vase filled with silk flowers, but if you want to add some mementos (framed pictures, signature candle scent, etc.) you can.

7. Gifts for the wedding party
These people have dedicated a lot of time, energy, and money of their own to help in your special day so it's nice to honor them with small gifts of thanks. Typically the bride buys for her bridesmaids, her parents, his parents, and the groom himself. Then the groom buys for his groomsmen, his parents, her parents, and the bride. Just something small that says "I love and appreciate you" (for the girls it can be the jewelry they wear in the wedding, a clutch, a personalized picture frame--your budget, your friends, your choice).

8. Marriage certificate
Different states have different laws about how far in advance you can request a marriage license as well as when and where you can pick it up. Make sure you, or someone you trust, is in charge of picking it up and getting it to the wedding venue so you, your groom, your officiant, and your witnesses can sign it. Generally your officiant will mail this off for you, but if they won't, make sure you know where it's going and that it gets there so everything is legal.

9. Confirm everyone's timeline
One week before the wedding check with your venue, your limo company, your caterer, your baker--everyone involved. Make sure they're all on schedule and on the same page. Also check with your bridal party; make sure they know what time to arrive to the wedding venue, what time pictures start, when the ceremony begins, etc. Day-of wedding coordinators can be miracle workers; if your venue doesn't provide one consider asking/hiring one of your organized friends to perform the task. That way they're keeping everyone on schedule, and you can worry about looking beautiful.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Take a sip

Alcohol is the obvious drink of choice at wedding receptions, but how about trying something different like a soda bar or a lemonade station? These can be done on a budget and can be set up as self-serve stations so no one has to be hired to oversee it.

1. Soda bar
Buy a bunch of soda either in your wedding colors (grape and orange?) or do a multitude like in this picture. If you have more money to spend you can get personalized bottles and once the drink is gone guests can take them home as their favors. Find some cute striped straws (online you can buy in bulk and save money), and there you go!
Soda Bar

2. Custom lemonade station
Perfect for an outside summer wedding, you can use either pink or regular lemonade (or both!) then have either bottles of flavors or fresh fruit (or both!) to add to the drinks. Even better is serving them in canning jars with, again, striped straws. Super cute and super refreshing!
Lemonade Stand

3. Coffee bar
Now, this can be done a few different ways, depending on your budget. There are companies that provide a coffee bar with custom drinks (you pick how many you want on the menu), and a barista makes them on site. To do it yourself have coffee brewed and in urns then have add-ins available: cinnamon sticks, chocolate shavings, vanilla, honey, whipped cream, flavored creamers, and anything else you can think of. If you want to get really overzealous you can buy an espresso/latte machine and have milk and coffee beans out for guests to make their own lattes. Then you'll have the machine to take home and use!
Coffee Bar

4. Tea bar
Have hot water available and several options of tea flavors out. You can have spices, honey, sugar, and creamer out also for guests who want to experiment and need to sweeten their tea.
Tea Bar

As always, have fun and create something that reflects your style and your wedding's theme.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Engagement pics

There is at least one friend who posted their engagement pictures on Facebook, and you were in shock over how gorgeous they turned out. Now it's your turn to start thinking about your own engagement pictures, and you're ransacking your closet (and his) to find something perfect so you too can be the envy of girls on Facebook.
Here are a few tips we've gathered from looking at our own friends' pictures and separating what worked from what didn't:
1. Pick out colors that go well together. Your outfits don't have to be matchy-matchy (two black shirts with jeans and black Converse...snooze), but if they look well together in person then they'll look well together in photos. (Still worried? Ask your fashion major friend or ask your artistic cousin to come over and help coordinate.)
2. Don't be afraid of bold, bright colors. Black is slimming and safe, but it tends to be drab in photos. If you want something safer think about a pink top and have him neutrals (gray or tan). I have also seen a few where couples have worn white (she's in a white dress and he's in a white shirt with jeans or khakis), but white can be just as drab as black so be careful.
3. If you're having someone do your makeup on your wedding day, have this day set up as a practice session. You'll want extra makeup on anyway, and makeup artists are trained to understand good lighting and help bring out your natural beauty for photos.
4. Have a cute dress but it's covered in tiny sailboats? Why not wear it and have your photo shoot down by the lake? Print can be just as fun as the bold colors, but make sure it's the right kind of print for your body shape. To balance out the patteren have your man in something solid.
5. Going with the sailboat dress and having it by the lake is called having a "theme." It's cute and will help your photos looked planned and well-thought out; last thing you want is for friends to look at your photos and "disaster" is the first word that pops to mind.
6. Options! What girl doesn't like a few options? Bring at least one other outfit, if not two or three, to show your photographer and get his/her opinion on set before changing.
7. Have fun with accessories. Pick ultra-feminine options to soften a casual look, and again, try out bright colors. I have seen couples get away with minimalistic shoots, wearing white and no jewelry, but, again, that can be a risk.
8. Try out some layers. Put a cardigan or a blazer over that dress. Have him wear a button-up under a sweater.
9. Above all, wear something you like! Don't try to be someone you're not and don't try to stick your fiancé in a suit if he prefers jeans and t-shirts. People viewing your photos will be able to tell you're uncomfortable, and you'll have these around forever so you want them to look good and reflect who the two of you really are.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Packing for the Honeymoon

If you're planning on leaving for your honeymoon soon after the wedding, packing might be the last thing on your mind. So there you are the morning of your flight, throwing as many clothes, shoes, and necessities will fit in your suitcase, leaving you stressed and struggling to pull the zipper shut. Because we hate the thought of you stressing out more than is necessary (stress-free is our motto!), here are some great tips to make packing for your trip easier.

  • Pack three tops for every bottom. It's easier to wear skirts and pants more than once, and when you change your shirt no one will really notice.
  • Stick to a certain color scheme so everything can easily be mixed and matched. Have a few neutral shades and then throw in some fun darker shades. Darker colors hide stains (you might not have time to go back to the hotel to change after spilling BBQ on your shirt) and can easily be worn from day to night.
  • As for shoes--don't grimace; it's not as bad you think!--you should pack three pairs: sneakers (for random hikes, all-day sightseeing, etc.), flats or sandals (are you going to Colorado or Hawaii?), and heels or wedges (wedges are more versatile and comfortable, but heels are more formal). Again, stick with neutral colors and black; they'll go with everything!
  • Try to avoid bulky clothes; (obviously) they take up more room. If you're going somewhere chilly or with tempermental weather, bring clothes you can layer: tanks, tees, cardigans, thin sweaters.
  • Bring versatile items. Tanks that look well with jeans and skirts so they can be worn all day (or multiple days).
  • Adding fun accessories will also help change up your outfit (for those of you worried about being "outfit repeaters"). They'll draw everyone's attention away from your clothes and will make your outfit look fresh.
  • Think about how each clothing item will hold up. Is this blouse going to come out of the suitcase crinkled after a five hour flight? Just in case you can always bring a travel-size Downy wrinkle-release spray.
Now we need to figure out how we're folding all this stuff. The rolling concept is awesome if you're trying to fit everything into a carry-on bag ($50 to check a bag?! That's dinner for two!).
Tops:
  • lay the shirt facedown and flat
  • fold each sleeve across the front so arms make an X and the shirt is now a rectangle
  • fold the shirt vertically (hot dog-style, anyone?) and smooth out the wrinkles
  • roll tightly from the hem to the collar
Pants:
  • fold in half lengthwise so pockets are on the outside
  • roll from the hem to the waistband
Skirt/dress:
  • if the dress has sleeves, fold them across the front (like a shirt)
  • fold garment in half lengthwise
  • roll from the bottom hem up
Winter jacket:
  • zip it
  • roll it like a top, squeezing out all the air
  • put a rubber band around it so it won't come undone while you're packing the rest
  • bonus: put it in a pillow case and it makes a nice headrest on the plane
Try zipping that suitcase now. Much better!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Inspiration

Inspiration can come from many places. A trip you took to Hawaii as a kid may have left you loving coconuts and hibiscus and wanting to incorporate those into your reception. A piece of fabric at Hobby Lobby or your grandmother's china pattern. Anything and everything can be inspiration. One of our couples this month met at a Starbucks, though neither of them are big coffee fans, and that inspired many things incorporated into their reception.

Since meeting at Starbucks had left both of them changed forever, Bill planned a surprise proposal for Tosha at the same Starbucks. Starbucks gave him special permission to lead Tosha to their special table with a trail of rose petals. As she sat in the chair where she had sat on their first meeting he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. Another customer in the shop caught the whole thing on video! For the reception they wanted coffee beans in all the vases, at the base of the flowers and encompassing pillar candles. The groom's cake was even a giant Starbucks cup!

Let your life inspire you.