The Street · Wedding Planning Essentials · Weddings & Receptions

SURVEY SAYS … What Your Wedding Guests Care About MOST, a couple of things they say they DON’T … & three things to AVOID

Featured Image: Kellie Pickler, Steve Harvey & Lance Bass on Celebrity Family Feud

With 2018 wedding planning here, it is worth spending a moment considering WeddingWire’s 2017 survey results about what wedding guests consider most and least important.  It is your wedding, and you (and maybe your parents and future in-laws) are paying an average of over $35,000 for your *Best. Day. Ever.*, not your guests, so you might be tempted to ignore these findings.  I totally understand, but you want friends and family to have had a good time and leave feeling glad they made the effort to attend.  So while this one survey should not determine your every decision, I think it is helpful information when thinking about how to allocate your wedding budget …  and maybe your guest list!

The good news is that 68% of guests surveyed rank celebrating with the couple as what matters most about your wedding, followed closely by the opportunity to catch up with family & friends, with 63% checking that box.

HOWEVER…when asked about what your guest is paying the most attention to, the top attention getter is  — DECOR — the setting, furnishings, attire, colors & how these all work together.  Your guests are appreciating the aesthetic your wedding and reception choices create.

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Photo:  Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Aesthetic is that hard-to-define, but you-know-it-when-you-see-it vibe you feel when an event is cohesive, coordinated and pulled-off in a beautiful and tasteful manner.  Aesthetic is a sincere and focused expression of your personal style, completed with surprising details and by combining various components to create a unified whole.  And maybe most important, it’s not about how much you spend, it’s about how you spend it.  Style comes through best with a light touch, IT’s A PARTY after all, and it needs to be enjoyed and able to be messed-up a bit.

What Guests DON’T CARE ABOUT

Taylor Street is excited to report what landed at the bottom of the list in terms of guest importance – escort cards.  We happily report this because wedding favors are usually toward the bottom of the list as well, so it is with relief and some delight that we report this result. WeddingWire’s survey also reports guests found toiletry amenities as unimportant.  I’ve honestly got nothing more to say about that finding, however…I do have a few comments on favors.

David and I also absolutely understand that wedding favors naturally are not going to rank high on a list that includes blockbusters like food, drink and dance.  It also is well known that favor shopping is left to the very end of most wedding planning — which kind of guarantees a rushed, less-than-optimal outcome with a budget that’s already maxed out.

So while trying to not sound too defensive, we suggest that wedding favors can not only be something your guests could appreciate, they absolutely contribute to your wedding’s aesthetic and help to create an overall impression that guests will carry with them (literally!) back home.

We humbly observe that wedding favors are [way] down the the priority list because they are not a concern of any of the big-ticket vendors – venue, caterer, photographer/videographer, florist.  The wedding planner is the only wedding professional who may consider favors important enough to discuss with you, and she or he is also usually already trying to stretch a budget to cover a very long priority list.

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Capiz Shell Gold Trimmed Lotus Candle Holder | Taylor Street Favors

Enough on favors — if you want great favors that your guests will love, we know they exist.  If you want some ideas, check us out on instagram, our WeddingWire or the knot storefronts, or send us an email letting us know your aesthetic, your budget, your guest count, and your wedding date, and we’ll get busy.

TOP ANNOYANCES TO AVOID

Guests ranked what bothered them most at weddings as: (1) drunk guests; (2) not knowing anyone & feeling alone; and (3) bad music.

So, might this WeddingWire survey have any impact on you?  Maybe those friends you were going to send a stag invite to (so you could manage head count) will now receive “+1’s”, or maybe you’ll rethink the DIY DJ mix tape decision you already were feeling unsure about.  Maybe you’ll even carve out some $$$ for wedding favors!

Next post – Choose your aesthetic in 5 [mostly easy] steps.  Plan on!

Gifts · The Street · Weddings & Receptions

Gifts for the Newly Engaged

Engagement photo provided by Nadine Cheetah of Cheetah Photography

Most of us can find an ‘okay’ gift in a heartbeat, but finding just the right gift for a newly engaged dear friend — or friends — is hard.  Fold in equal parts of what-is-customary, what-is-wanted, what-is-so-NOT-me and what-is-affordable, add a lack of available time to shop into the mix, and there – you and a white elephant might meet.  Fear not, as Taylor Street is not just a wedding favors store.  We have awesome gifts for the newly engaged — for both guys and gals (!) — and couples too.

But first, be aware of these rules of the road.  There are different gifting moments, with different generally accepted gifts for each — beginning with the engagement announcement (engagement gift), then the bridal shower / bro-bath gift, and lastly the bachelorette / bachelor party gift.

Engagement Gifts

I try to celebrate a friend’s engagement with an out-to-lunch treat, or a heartfelt card, like this one…

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White Rose Love Is Love Card And Gift Box

But, if there is an engagement party, do you “have to” bring a gift you ask?  No, you don’t have to, but if your friend’s parents have put on a fairly wiz-bang catered event for the about-to-be-married, you absolutely will see other guests bringing gifts…so, yes, you ought to.  These gift suggestions range from $35 to $55.  Particularly if you know both of the newly engaged, think of gifts that a couple can enjoy together.  It does not need to be “wedding-y”.

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Etched Whiskey Label Crystal Tumblers
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Stoneware Sake Set by Viski
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Personalized Red Picnic Cooler Set

 

 

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Hammered Metal Ice Bucket

 

 

Bridal Shower / Bro-Bath Gifts

This is most definitely a party/gifting event, and is usually planned far enough in advance that the wedding registry is already available – potentially creating a dilemma – do you do your gifting based on the registry or gift “free-style”?  If you keep the registry gift costs at the lower end, I like to not only buy something from the couple’s list, but then give a smaller, personal item too, particularly if I have not yet celebrated the engagement with a gift early on.  These gifts ideas range from $15 to $150.

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Stacked Initials with Date Leather Travel Diary
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Script Monogram Journal
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Personalized Vertical Bar Necklace
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Thomas Bracelet: Wood With Gold Skull
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Personalized Gold Edged Ring Dish

Bachelorette / Bachelor Party Gifts

As the last “blow-out” event of a bride or groom’s single days, the emphasis here is on fun and friends.  Your gifts ought to reflect this. Depending on the cost sharing arrangement for this last party, your gift may have already been given – helping to pay for the event itself – a Las Vegas weekend can get pricey.  If a gift is in order, gifts related to the honeymoon or travel are always welcome.  These gifts can be priced all-over-the-place, but the ones I’ve noted range from $20 to $55.

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Monogram Trucker Hat
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Personalized Moroccan Hanging Cosmetic Bag
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Personalized Turkish Cotton Robe
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Dalmatian Dot Tote – Black on White
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Personalized Black Travel Dopp Kit
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Personalized Canvas & Leather Messenger Bag
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The Force Awakens 3 Pair Socks Gift Set
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Personalized Men’s Black Travel Tie Case
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Canvas Weekend Bag with Pink Stripe

There you have it – our selection of great quality gifts that are as nice to give as they are to receive.  Party on and get gifting.

 

DIY · The Street · Wedding Planning Essentials · Weddings & Receptions

Wedding Favor Table Ideas

Barn Wedding

Welcome guests with a charming outdoor display and stack personalized jam favors beneath an amazing floral arrangement.

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Beach Wedding

Send your guests home with a personal thank you message in a bottle.

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Rustic Wedding

Find an vintage dresser and fill it with jars of candy or kettle corn.

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Garden Wedding

Stack personalized handmade craft beer soaps wrapped
with a thank you message from the couple.

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Winter Wedding

Cover the table with a light dusting of “snow” and set out nests of Jordan Almonds.     Festive and fun.

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Vintage Wedding

Stacked suitcases topped with warm throws
for the guests to grab as the evening gets cooler.

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Bend the rules!

There is nothing wrong with sticking to traditions, just as there is also nothing wrong with bending the rules — just a little bit!

When planning a wedding it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your expectations that some details slip your mind. Just remember keep it simple and easy. An elegant visual of easy to grab favors is a sure bet and your guests will love the effort. This is your day. Have fun!

Your guests will leave feeling like it really was the best day ever!

 

How to's · The Street · Wedding Planning Essentials · Weddings & Receptions

3 Tips for selecting favors your guests will take home.

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Classic Baby Blue Gumball Dispenser | Taylor Street Favors

There are way too many party favors.  [We feel your pain every day]. Determining good value for the money is difficult, and even some of the better known industry names have wide variances in the quality of their products (we will not mention names).  And while some couples choose to go DIY, skill levels vary (!) and not everyone has the time or desire.

If you don’t want to make your wedding favors, we at Taylor Street want you know it is absolutely possible for you to purchase interesting or fun, well made, wedding favors.


Here are 3 tips to help make your favor selection process a success.

Tip #1:  Ask yourself the right question

Don’t start your favor search with the question: What gift would my guests be so impressed with / like enough to want to take home?

The mindset behind this question — that you must thrill your guests — is guaranteed to frustrate your efforts because:

1. you will never please everyone, and

2. you are allowing your decision to be dictated by guest preferences you can not influence and can not possibly guess correctly.

Better question:  What small gift/memento would I enjoy giving to my guests — a gift to thank them for coming that might remind them of my wedding day or make them laugh, and that I can afford — without stressing me/us out more than we already are?

Or turn it around — what small gift would I enjoy receiving if I were attending my own wedding?

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Tip #2:  Incorporate your Theme…

Since most guest favors are placed on individual tables or displayed on a reception table, incorporating your theme into the favor can help you narrow your focus.   One of the simplest, and often more successful, ways to to do this is with color, and/or texture.  Every wedding or celebration has one or a few predominant recurring colors or textures.  Use something you’ve already decided on as your inspiration, and you will have streamlined your decision making process.

Tip #3:  …But don’t replicate your entire theme.

Take elements from your theme and deconstruct them.  Do not recreate your entire event theme in miniature with your favor, but rather, take just one part of it.  If your wedding reception theme is the Great Gatsby roaring twenties – repeat a deco print or black and gold color combination with your favor or tag.

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Gatsby Matte White Chair Favor Box | Taylor Street Favors

…and a warning about Pinterest. It is invaluable, but it can overwhelm — too many ideas will have you second guessing yourself in no time.  Your objective is not to make your gift or favor “pin” worthy.  When you go to Pinterest – and you know you will – first set a goal and a time limit.  Get in, get out.

Your favor lets your guests know how much you appreciate them making time to celebrate with you.  It does not have to be a lasting souvenir, and it does not have to be handmade to be appreciated.  Keep it sincere, affordable – and have some fun.

Wedding Planning Essentials · Weddings & Receptions

Modernist

Causally arranged, repetition and simplicity are hallmarks of modern style showcasing minimalistic whites, dotted with shimmering votives, and enhanced with simple florals combine to create a table setting with a decidedly modernist vibe.

Accented with silver, white on white is a classic recipe for modern chic. Clean lines, unfussy elements create a setting that is both trendy and polished.

 

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City Style Tag, City Style Sticker, and XOXO Tin

To add an additional layer of personality, take traditional glassware and make it modern with a fresh new silhouette and custom message. A custom wine glass is perfect for giving to your guests as favors and adding a little something extra to your table decor!

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City Style Wine Label
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Personalized Stemless Wine Glass

Greet your guests with these impressive, and unique, twisted fork handle stationery holders placed at their seat. A perfect fit for a city style modernist theme.

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Twisted Fork Vintage Inspired Stationery Holders

Add an additional personalized layer to each place setting with these city style menu cards. Uptown flair with a subtle modern twist. The simple wrap of ribbon and a lavender detail finish off the look.

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City Style Menu Card, XOXO Tin with City Style Favor Tag
and White Satin Ribbon

Sometimes all a wedding reception needs is a little flicker of candlelight to set the mood and these glass votives with a reflective silver interior add the perfect glimmer.

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Classic Glass Votive Holder in Silver

Do what you love, keep it simple and remember this is your day. Each detail reflects you. A perfect balance of fresh and functional. Simple, neutral and anything but boring.

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City Style Menu Card, City Style Favor Tag
Wedding Planning Essentials · Weddings & Receptions

The “I Do Crew” …for those couples doing things a bit differently… .

Many newly engaged couples, gay and straight, are involving friends and family members in their weddings in more creative and personal ways, redefining traditional gender-based bridesmaids & groomsmen roles.


[And really, why can’t brides and grooms have their BFF’s stand with them at the alter regardless of gender?]


Increasingly, today’s modern couples — whether two brides, two grooms or a bride and groom — are choosing to co-create their wedding ceremony from the ground up, mixing cultural and religious traditions with unique elements, and creating new terminology to fit.

Whatever your reason – here are a few examples of interesting and modern takes on wedding rituals, and some fun alternative names for your wedding party too.

Wedding colors:  Couples are managing the all-to-familiar bridesmaid matching outfit and coordinating groomsmen tradition with a much lighter touch.  Couples are selecting a color (or two) and inviting a close circle of friends and family to wear the color(s). Sometimes instructions include a particular article of clothing (bow tie / socks / shirt or blouse color) and sometimes the request is simply to include that color in whatever outfit is chosen. Not only are couples able to involve more people than they might if the wedding color was limited to the more traditional gang up front, it looks awesome when it comes time for pictures.  David and I went this route, but in hindsight didn’t take the idea far enough.  We now wish we would have had his mom and my dad wear some “poppy orange” too [really – see picture!].

Non-traditional processional – rather than the 2X2, invite your closest friends, and wedding party participants to walk down the aisle at the start of your ceremony with their respective significant others and then sit in reserved rows at the front. This eliminates the need to have everyone pair up nicely…and means you can forget about requiring an equal number of attendants for each “side of the aisle”. Isn’t it more natural and enjoyable if a family with children move as a clump, or if you have a friend who is happily single, stride down your aisle individually?

Combined bridesmaid-groomsmen party – Why not!  Especially if you each already have both men and women as attendants, why not have a co-ed party involving both groups.  Not only do these people then have more of a chance to get to know each other, you can have some fun with your best friends while getting to know your future spouse’s best friends – win/win.

And now, a few alternative terms that are gender neutral and more encompassing too. 

The safe, tried-and-true choice:  “attendants” or “entourage”

Lighthearted:   team [fill in the name of groom(s) or bride(s)];

And these too:  party people, wedding squad, bridal brigade paired with groom squad.

idocrewMy personal favorite is the “I Do Crew” .  It’s catchy, gender neutral, and – for me – a little bit sentimental.

…and it makes a great hashtag.   #idocrew

Weddings & Receptions

Wedding Photos and Our Wedding Album – Advice from a Groom

 

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Wedding photos have [finally] arrived!  Now that bills are paid (ugh) and thank-you’s are mostly written (I know, I’m sorry) we must decide on whether and how to create a wedding photo album.

The “whether to” decision is an easy one for us – Yes.

Digitals are great, but digital images are never going to be discovered by your children or grandchildren in the attic.  You will never just happen upon your digital images while sorting through a stack of books left untouched for too long. There is nothing special and almost no intimacy involved in gathering around a device to stare at images that are too small to appreciate.  Wedding photos are best experienced as part of a narrative — a story that unfolds in a deliberate sequence with one image building upon and informing those before, after and around it.

So as David and I review our images, reflect on the day, and decide how we may want to remember the moments, the wedding album creation & production decision looms — influenced by budget, creative energy, available time, and technological know-how.

I’ve summarized our wedding album website alternatives into 3 price brackets.  All of these websites have beautiful wedding album examples to get your creative juices going.  Disappointingly, however, none have a same-sex couple prominently displayed in their gallery. Time for some new images everyone.

$$$$ – Custom design/print/bind service.  We select the basic layout and the cover, upload the images, provide suggestions for any copy we may want to include with particular images or on certain pages and then let someone else create and print.  Cost:  Wide range based on number of pages and cover type, but $600 to $1700 covers most of the options available.  Yikes.

Two companies we are considering: blendedmotion.net & storybookpages.com

Blended Motion is a turnkey provider, whereas Storybook Pages focuses on the design component and then allows you to select the print/bind vendor from a list of companies they work with.  Both of these companies work primarily with wedding photographers, but they have expanded their service to “retail” as well.

$$1/2 – DIY design using templates/print/bind service.  We select from a wide range of pre-formatted designs, most with some customization available, upload the images in the size and position and order we want, then let them produce based on the paper and cover we select. Cost:  $200’ish to $750 covers most options available.

This is a more competitive market space, and there are a number of companies.  Each of these 3 are worth considering – each with “a look” and particular software & production strengths.

  • Milk wedding focused, minimalist look, basic options, not a budget buster, quality product
  • Blurb oriented to commercial / professional productions, wedding albums as a side business, flexible design system with default templates for the novice
  • AdoramapixTemplate based with plenty of design flexibility, widest price range based on paper type, page count and cover material

Note:  We are not considering BrideBox. Why? There was no “bride” in our wedding.  Might be a clever sounding name, but it’s not very welcoming to my husband and me.

$ – DIY design using templates/print/bind service.  The primary difference between this price point and the category preceding is that these two providers are not providing a wedding specific product.  Their design flexibility is more limited and their production options far more limited. Their product, however, is considered high quality with very fast turnaround. Cost:  $100 and under

  • Apple Photo book we are an Apple family.  I was a reluctant convert, but have come to fully embrace (accept) the Apple way of life.  We have used this service before to make albums of family events and the results have been beautiful.
  • Snapfish & Shutterfly excellent for the novice/non-tech user, low cost, high quality, very limited design flexibility, quick turnaround.  You don’t have to own an Apple.

We are going to go-down-the-middle and use Adoramapix.  We will share the end result when we’ve got it to show.  For us, it’s a good balance of cost, time spent and design flexibility.

Whatever you decide:

Don’t overspend/overthink. Better to get your favorite photos printed in a scaled down book than have no book at all.

Do not let too much time pass.  Your wedding album project will get lost in the “to-do’s” forever…and the story you wanted your wedding photos to tell won’t be telling any stories at all.

Appetizers · DIY · The Street · Weddings & Receptions

10 perfect appetizers for your fall wedding reception

1. Brown Sugar-Glazed Turkey Meatballs

Because – meatballs and brown sugar. Perfect little mouthfuls of Brown Sugar-Glazed Turkey Meatballs! If you decide not to have these at your reception, save the recipe and serve them up at the next game event because Football season is coming – I think.

Get The Recipe

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Image: Diethood

2. Mini Quiche Florentine

Everyone [almost] will fall for these Mini Quiche Florentines. Filled with spinach and cheese   – Instant hit!  Who says real men don’t eat quiche!

Get The Recipe

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Image: Sam Anderson @ HGTV

3. Grilled Corn Salsa

This dish would be a perfect side dish to the mini tacos below. Serve with tortilla chips and you’ve got a southwest theme in the making. Screen ‘Blazing Saddles’ in the background of the dance floor and you’ll have the most talked about wedding in town – along with the Grilled Corn Salsa.

“Hello, handsome. Is that a 10-gallon hat, or are you just enjoying the show?” – Madeline Kahn

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Image: Cooking Channel

4. Maple Chili Popcorn

Feeling a little chili? – Warm things up with this perfect fall appetizer, or favor, at your reception. Food Network’s Jeff Mauro’s Maple Chili Popcorn is perfect for filling cellophane favor bags that guests can enjoy later or have on the tables for guests to grab and munch between spicy dance moves.

Get The Recipe

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Image: HGTV.com

5. Ropa Vieja Mini Tacos

First of all, these Ropa Vieja Mini Tacos are the cutest little appetizer out there – I mean, COME ON! With two types of chiles, these junior spicy mouthfuls are sure to keep the guests warmed up for the dance floor.

Get The Recipe

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Image: HGTV.com

6. Bruschetta With Caramelized Dates, Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Whipping yourself up a Bruschetta With Caramelized Dates, Walnuts and Goat Cheese appetizers is a snap. Just toast a fresh baguette, then top the slices with a soft cheese — like chèvre — plus any combination of savory ingredients — like caramelized dates — and finely chopped pistachios or delicious crumbled bacon. See, it’s a snap. SNAP!

Get The Recipe

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Image: HGTV.com

————

7. Taleggio Crostini With Apple, Thyme and Honey

These Taleggio Crostini With Apple, Thyme and Honey can be prepared with only a few simple ingredients and thyme – see what I did there? Spread cheese on toasted baguette slices, top with 1 or 2 apple slices, drizzle with a little honey and done!

Get The Recipe

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Image: Andrea Albin, CookingChannelTV.com

8. Sausage and Stuffing Balls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce

I found this one on I should be mopping the floor. These Sausage and Stuffing Balls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce are an awesome autumn appetizer –  say that 10 times fast – and a perfect departure form the norm!  Perfect for Thanksgiving too!

Get The Recipe

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Image: I Should Be Mopping The Floor

9. Autumn Leaf Wreath Cheese Platter

I love this one! How easy right? Cookie cutters and cheese and viola you look like a wedding catering DIY genius – I mean really, cookie cutters and cheese, WHO KNEW!

This Autumn Leaf Wreath Cheese Platter would be a fun one for the kids to be involved too.  Layer in some pretzel crackers and your favorite sweet-tart relish and fall has arrived.

Get The Recipe

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Image: The Yummy Life

10. Creamy Tomato Soup Shooters with Grilled Cheese Sticks

I love tomato soup! And, I love grilled cheese. Well, you might as well mix the two, right?

Our caterer, The Hitching Post, served Tomato Soup Shooters and they were a huge hit. Especially with the kids.

Get The Recipe

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Image: How Sweet It is

 

Weddings & Receptions

“Touch Me” it Said

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gifyyy machine ready for action

I have just received my impersonal-yet-irritating “happy one-month anniversary” reminder email from WeddingWire, requesting feedback on everything wedding.  And though I am not acting on their request, it did serve as a reminder that our thank-you notes are still not done. It also got me thinking about what stands out — after 30 days — as the best “unscripted moments” from our wedding day.

The GIF Photo Booth is a HUGE one – first on the list of happy surprises.  BTW – we get nothing from gifyyy.com for sharing any of this — nada.

When our photographer, Jeff Newsom, offered to set up his new GIF machine at our reception, we said yes not knowing anything about it. It sounded like it might be fun.  We already had decided not to have a photo booth, an idea that did not excite us and an expense we could do without.  The gifyyy, however, sounded like a fresh, social media-ready upgrade of the photo booth idea.  Why not.

It was a hit, with kids and adults alike.  Not only are the images hilarious, people had fun just watching other people interact with the device, take their GIF and then play it back.  Think of it as an ice-breaker exercise you don’t have to organize or push people to do.

 

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Good stuff to know:  Gifyyy’s website provides a good overview, though it is more oriented to wedding professionals who might buy the equipment rather than end users, but you’ll get the idea.

Five points worth emphasizing:

1.  The equipment takes up very little space – it really is just that tripod. The design is attractive & neutral enough for any setting, and the circle of lights on the perimeter naturally encourages guests to come check it out.  The iPad screen invites you in with a “Touch Me”.  Once touched, there is a slight delay and then 1-2 seconds later the GIF is created and immediately displayed.  Key in a phone number and the GIF is sent.  Ready for the next GIF, just like that.

2.   What it does require is plenty of space in front of it so that small and large groups can create their gif, and so that others can watch.  How much space?  We had a 10’ semi-circle available in front and that worked well.

3.  No need for a backdrop or props.  Guess you could, but you don’t need to.  Put the faux mustaches away.

4.  It does require a wifi or cell connection.  If your reception location has poor signal strength, you’ll need to figure out an alternative, because a big part of the fun is being able to share your gif on social media – immediate gratification.

5.  It is battery powered and self contained — no wires or cables to trip over or cover up.

And best of all, when your party is over you have a collection of all the GIF’s created for you to keep.

We haven’t decided what we’ll do with all of ours, but we are thinking that when our one-year anniversary arrives – we might just be sending out “anniversary reminders” of our own!

Weddings & Receptions

Wedding Planning Tips

Three Wedding Planning Lessons from the Other Side of I Do


We did it.  After lots of searching, appointments, joint decision making, and check writing, we are most certainly, legally, undeniably married.  What did we learn?

  1. Hiring a wedding planner really is worth the cost – really.

I am a recovering control freak and proud spendthrift [sounds much better than ‘cheap’], and thought we could do without a planner.  As the date approached I began to feel overwhelmed, so with about 90 days to go we found someone who would actively manage the last few week’s “crunch” time, especially the few days leading up to our wedding and the clean-up after.  Her suggestions with our timeline were invaluable, she managed the wedding & reception set-ups perfectly, and having her there as the go-to person for the other professionals was, I am sure, more helpful than we know.  It was not cheap, but worth it.

What we learned:  Having the first dance early in the evening, our planner’s suggestion, was a nice change-up and got the evening off to a great start.  Thank you Jazmyn Strickland at Love Always Weddings!

Our Do-over: Hire a planner from the start (it doesn’t cost much more than bringing someone in toward the end) and off-load more responsibilities, like managing contracts & deadlines, progress payments to vendors, running a list of “to-do’s”, and keeping the two of us on a schedule.

2.  Don’t leave as much time as the experts tell you for guests to RSVP

I did what we all do when faced with an unfamiliar topic – I googled it.  My question about lead time for mailing invitations and the RSVP generated an overwhelming number of responses.  Most read something like the advice from from the Knot, “make your RSVP deadline 2-3 weeks before your wedding date”.

What we learned Do NOT follow this advice.

Why send out invitations 90 days or more in advance — as is often recommended — and then give people two months or more before responding?  For us, anxiety set in and we sent follow-up emails to our non-responders about one month before our date.  Almost all of the replies at that point were “no”.

Most people know if they are going to attend your wedding from the moment they get the invite. More time to decide does not generate more “yes” responses, just more creative “no’s”. Might a shortened RSVP deadline mean a couple more last minute cancellations?  Maybe, but those are beyond your control regardless.

Our experience — despite sending save-the-date announcements 6 months in advance, invites 90 days in advance, and allowing people to RSVP up to 2 1/2 weeks before our wedding, we still had a table’s worth of guests cancel during the last week.  Shit happens.

Our Do-over:  Still send save-the-dates at least 6 months out and invites no more than 90 days out, but give people only a short window to RSVP.  Then, if you have that “B-list”, you can actually use it.

3.  Spend your time (and money) finding your photographer

Then spend the extra money to have an engagement session even though you really don’t want to (and as a groom, I can’t emphasize enough how much I really didn’t want to).  Why?  The time you spend with your photographer during the engagement session is invaluable in building a relationship that will make your wedding photography more fun, natural and successful.  We knew we found our photographer from the first meeting (and he did not disappoint!).  Despite that immediate connection we felt, we were much less comfortable during our engagement session than during the wedding and its seemed to us that he felt that way too.

We had a blast with our photographer at our wedding, loved our engagement photos and can not wait for our wedding day shots.

What we learned:  There are many wedding photographers, but there will be one that will BOTH meet your requirements AND feel right to both of you. Spend the time to find that one. We are so glad to have found Jeff.   Thank you Jeff Newsom.

Our Do-over:  None.


We are proud of what we accomplished and are really happy with the day.  We made our wedding our own – a goal we share with many couples.  It takes time and energy.   We hope our experience helps you manage your time so you have the energy for creating your wedding day…and some extra left for the dance floor.