Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Planning a Stress Free New Years Party

While there is always some stress involved in planning any event, there are a number of steps you can take in reducing the amount of stress involved while you are planning your New Years Eve party.

There may still be a few areas which cause concern or stress but if you follow these tips, the event will likely be more enjoyable for you and the guests.

Consider making the dress for the event casual instead of formal to create a more stress free environment.

This simple step can be very effective for reducing the stress level.
First of all, if the affair is casual, the host will have to spend less time getting dressed for the party. This frees you up to deal with the last minute details not the formal attire.

It also helps to reduce the stress level because guests expect more elegant food for a formal party than they do for a casual party so there is less stress to prepare and serve an elaborate meal at the party.

Regardless of the type of food you decide to serve, preparing the food for a New Years Eve party can be a significant cause of stress.

Hiring a caterer is the most efficient way to minimize this stress. But this is not always an option. So stick to simple foods that can be made in advance. Or pick up party trays from the local grocery store.
Or one fun way to do food is to make the party a potluck event.

Having guests bring dishes such as side dishes, salads, appetizers, desserts and even main dishes or drinks greatly reduces the amount of work for the host.

In this scenario the host only has to worry about providing one or two items and coordinating the other guests to ensure they do not all bring similar items.

Another option is what I call the buffet bar. Set up a pasta bar with a few different pastas and a few sauces serve a salad and garlic bread and guest are happy. Or a taco bar with taco shells meat and fillings so guest can build their own. Both require minimal cooking and go a long way.

Another inexpensive option which can help to reduce the amount of stress typically associated with preparing the food for a New Years Eve party is to serve only appetizers, desserts and cocktails at the party.

This is significantly less expensive as appetizers are traditionally much less expensive than main course items.

It is also acceptable to do this because most New Years Eve parties do not start until 8:00-9:00 at night.

It is acceptable to assume most guests will have had dinner earlier in the evening but as a courtesy to the guests it is worthwhile to indicate on the invitations that only appetizers and desserts will be served.

Keep the guest list down, and know your guests. Limiting the number of people at the event will keep cost down and you won't have as much to plan for. Also know your guest. If they have children let them know in advance if this is a party for kids to attend or not. If children are welcome plan some things for them. Like movies and popcorn in a separate room. Be sure to have some sparkling grape or apple juice and plastic champagne flutes so they can toast in the new year as well. And provide lots of pillows and blankets for those that might fall asleep before the end of the party. In fact tell parents to bring the kids in the PJ's and slippers.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Stress Free Baby Shower

Planning A Baby Shower - Stress Free Success
Do you need help putting together a baby shower?
Because you're about to learn how to put together a successful party the expectant mom will remember fondly for years to come. A successful baby shower is easier to put together than you might think. Really? The secret to your success is -- all in planning a baby shower.

Waiting until the last minute is a recipe for disaster and is almost guaranteed to stress you out, give you sleepless nights and countless days in the panic mode. Not a pretty picture.

When to start

Since most baby showers take place a couple of months up to a couple of weeks prior to the babies due date, you need to start planning things about four months before the babies due date. That will give you about two months at least to put everything together and send out invitations early enough to give everyone time to put your party on their calendar.

What to do first

The very first thing you should do is to just sit down with the expectant mom and find out what kind of party she'd like. Ask her if she'd like a theme and if so what? What kind of cake does she like, who does she want to invite, women only or are you going to invite the guys too? And what kind of baby things does she need? And if she knows the gender of the baby, have they chosen a name?

Now that you know what the expectant mom would like, you have enough information to plan a wonderful party.

Decide on a theme

Planning a baby shower gets a whole lot easier once you've decided on a theme.Does mom have a theme in mind? If not, the sky is the limit. You can get very creative here. Prepackaged themes include everything from "Rubber Ducky" to "Baby Einstein" and everything in-between. Winnie the Pooh, Noah's Ark, Rainbow, Animals and the list goes on. But don't limit yourself to pre-packaged themes. I have done fun shower with a Peter Rabbit theme and one with a Nursery Rhyme theme.

Once you know the theme, you'll know what kind of invitations to send out, what kind of cake to put together, decorations, party supplies and games to look for.

Invitation wording

What's the reason for sending out invitations to any event?

It's not a silly question, or even a trick question.

The reason you send out invitations is to get people to show up. Because without invited guests your baby shower would be much more than a disappointment for your expectant mom. So you want your invitations to let everyone know that you're planning a baby shower they won't want to miss.

Be sure to include all the important information like the date, time and location. Also include the full name of the mom-to-be, and if you know it, the gender and name of the baby. This will help your guests when it comes to buying baby gifts and other things. Also include if possible where the mom is registered. This unlike weddings is proper.

Play up your theme. If your theme is "Rubber Ducky" you might want to pick up some cute little rubber duck thingies to include in the invitation. You can start off by stating "Rubber Ducky says you're the one... and you are! You're invited to attend our Rubber Ducky baby shower for... "Everything is going to be lots of Ducky fun."

Of course if you aren't feeling creative you can play it safe and pick up some preprinted invitations. I strongly recommend picking up your invitations, decorations, and party supplies online. It's convenient (no driving all over town only to discover they don't have what you need) the selection is wonderful and your choices will be shipped directly to you. It doesn't get any more stress-free than that.

Your baby shower cake

Oh the yummy thoughts!

Everybody loves a colorful tasty cake. And when planning a baby shower you want to make sure the cake is special. Now before you panic, you'll be very happy to learn that you do not have to bake a cake from scratch. Just visit your favorite bakery and pick up a delicious, pre-frosted cake (make sure it's the kind our expectant mom likes) and have the baker write something appropriate on it. But we're not through yet.

You can easily make this cake very memorable by picking up a theme appropriate cake topper. Just visit that online party store. You can even find edible cake art images. Now all you need to do is place the edible cake art and the topper on your cake and -- instant 3-D masterpiece.

I told you it would be easy! And don't forget to take lots of pictures of your cake.

But in case you want to be found on Cake Wrecks blog avoid cakes that look like babies or pregnant moms. They may look cute in the picture but who wants to eat the swollen belly part of the cake or the babies arms? Think it through.

Diaper cake

In case you haven't heard a diaper cake isn't a cake at all (but it sure can look like one). A diaper cake is a very creative "cake" made up of things like diapers, blankets, baby pens, rattles, bibs and just about anything else you can think of. Diaper cakes aren't there to replace your yummy cake, but a diaper cake is really a wonderful addition to any baby shower.
Just check out craigslist or ask around the office someone is bound to know someone who makes these, or there are online video's that will show you how if you are patient and creative.

Decorations for a fun party location

Get decorations to match your theme. Banners, streamers, posters, standees (a stork). Keep it fun, keep it colorful and don't be afraid to be creative. If the shower is for some reason being held at the home the new baby will be coming home to then keep the direction posters simple and not baby themed. It does not happen often, but putting out baby shower here signs and welcome home baby signs can be an invitation to sick people to break in and try to hurt or steal the newborn. So keeping signs simple are best. Better to include a map and not worry a bout street markers.

Baby shower games

You can find lots of fun printable games online. From baby word scrambles to baby bingo. These games are very popular and easy to play. You should plan 3 or 4 games. You don't want to wear everybody out -- especially our mommy. Also make sure she wants games. And what her comfort level in participating in the games is. For example she may not want to play guess what's in the diaper if she has been dealing with bad morning sickness. Or guess how big her belly is. That may be a sensitive subject for some women. But you can have fun without games as well.

Food to nibble on

Keep it simple - finger foods are best. How about a healthy veggie tray, finger sandwiches, fruit bits, party mix, chips and anything else mommy might like. Use paper plates and you won't have a big clean-up. Now pick up a fun guest book, some disposable cameras for the guests and you're all set.

Planning a baby shower well in advance makes all the difference. You won't get all stressed out and by shopping online you don't even have to drive all over town. Your mommy-to-be is going to love her shower, your invited guests will have a great time and everyone will be thanking you.

Now you've learned all the secrets to planning a baby shower that's going to be a big success. And all without stress, without a single sleepless night, or an "oh-no, I forgot ---"

Instead, you'll be able to sit back and enjoy the party. Planning a baby shower will make you a super star.

Have fun

Or you can call me and we can sit down and plan it all out and I can help make decorations and invitations and such.


Top 5 Money Waisters at a Wedding

Top 5 Biggest Wedding Money Wasters
Save Your Money and Avoid These Wedding Planning Traps
By Nina Callaway, About.com Guide
Regardless of budget size, brides of all kinds say that after the wedding, there were several things on which they wished that they hadn't wasted their money. For every person, this list will be different of course. But here is a brutally honest look at what I think are simply not worth it.

1.Meaningless and Expensive Wedding Favors Wedding favors can be a thoughtful way of saying thank you to your guests. But far too often they're a meaningless knickknack. Your guests don't need a candy dish, or a little silver bell. Don't think their cute place card holder doubles as a favor; what are they going to do with one place card? And do you really want a plastic Frisbee with your friends' wedding date on it?

You're going to spend a lot of money on things that will just collect dust, or end up in the trash. I think it's far better to not give favors, or to make a donation to a charity. But cute favors include ones that are personal to the bride and groom. You might give food favors from the city you live in, or a box of your very favorite chocolates.

One of my favorite ideas is a breakfast bag. Send guests home with some beautiful muffins, a couple of good quality tea bags, and perhaps a little pot of jam or honey. The next morning they'll be sure to enjoy your treat as they reminisce about everything that happened.

Money Saving Tip: Some of the most thoughtful wedding favors can be handmade. Put together a booklet of family recipes, or create a CD with an insert explaining why you chose each song.

2.Endless Bride and Groom Swag It may be fun to have a pair of track pants that say "Bride" across your butt, but how long are you really going to wear them? You certainly don't need to own multiple pieces of clothing that say "bride" or "groom" because they've got a limited shelf-life. And, you do have an identity beyond that of a bride. You don't own a sweatshirt that trumpets your profession, do you? So why would you want people out in public to see you first and foremost as a bride?

Perhaps the biggest money waster of all is giving your bridal party "bridesmaid" and "groomsman" gear. Do you really think that groomsman is ever going to wear that tacky hat ever again? Do you think he'll even enjoy wearing it the first time?

Money Saving Tip Buy a pair of pajama pants or underwear that says "bride" or "groom." Rather than feeling embarrassed about wearing a bride sweatshirt out in public, clothing meant for the home will remind the two of you of your wedding day. Leave the other bridal swag at the store.

3.Huge Wedding Cakes Some couples only invite 50 guests, but they still order a cake that serves 300. With cakes going for $2-$15 a slice, that extra size adds up quickly. While a large cake looks impressive, a small cake can be charming. If height is a priority, consider asking your baker to use a separator set, and adding fresh flowers between the layers. Or, use a large cake topper, such as this tiered floral centerpiece.

Money Saving Tip If you are having more than 100 guests, ask for a display cake that only feeds 100 people. Use inexpensive sheet cakes in the back to feed the extra guests. No one will know the difference!

4.Too Many Mementos The wedding industry loves to sell you goods by promising they will be keepsakes you can pass down to your children. Having mementos of your special day is a good thing, but you don't need very many. Put together a wedding album, and perhaps preserve your wedding dress. But deeply consider every other item. Do you really need a personalized pen to sign the guest book? Is preserving your bouquet worth the money and the space in your home? You don't need to have a wedding video, unless you will really watch it and enjoy it regularly. And not every toasting glass, picture frame, and photo album needs to be monogrammed with your wedding date.

Rather than filling up your house with tons of wedding mementos, leave room for creating new memories.

Money Saving Tip If an album is not included in your wedding photography package, consider doing it for yourself! That way, you can include the shots that are most important to you, as well as any mementos like your wedding program.

5.Too Many Bridesmaids and Groomsmen Have you ever seen a wedding with more than a dozen attendants? It starts to look like a wedding army. Of course, if you are inviting lots of guests, it makes sense to have a large wedding party. But before you start adding your friend who you haven't seen since high school, and all of your cousins, consider what the role of the wedding party should be.

Even if you're not paying for the wedding party's attire, each of those attendants requires a bouquet or boutonniere, a thank you gift, and an invitation to the rehearsal dinner and other parties. Tack on just a few unnecessary bridesmaids or groomsmen and you're potentially talking about hundreds of dollars.

Money Saving Tip Give some of your friends and loved ones different roles in the wedding. Consider asking them to read during the ceremony or give them a special role at the reception. You might even just thank them in the program for helping to support you during the wedding planning process.

Rachel and Erik 12/19/09

Rachel and Erik had a beautiful wedding. I was so thrilled to work with them on this very special day. There were so many great details that I think only photos will capture best. Their awesome photographer Any DeYoung will be getting photos to me soon, but in the mean time I wanted to let you all know that the details on this wedding are coming.
Until then let me list some of the great "cast of character's" that made this event happen
Venue: The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio
Caterer: True Flavors
DJ: Encore Entertainment
Photos: Amy DeYoung
Video: Distinct Video Design (dvdsatx@yahoo.com)
Centerpieces: True Flavors
Personal Flowers: Edens Echo
My Staff: Channin Young, JT Lauderdale, Andrew Lauderdale
Chuppah: Stress Free Events built by my great dad Tom Lauderdale
(and yes we still have this structure and it can be rented out, or borrowed under certain circumstances, just ask).
(Photos here are from Erin at Edens Echos of the flowers. They were stunning. More photos coming).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Slow to blog

Sorry I have been so slow to post to the blog. Its been that crazy busy time of year. I will have to try and get better about finding things and blogging for you all. I have a wedding this Saturday and I am looking forward to it. There will of course be a blog from that very shortly. Stay tuned and let people know we are here. We are ready to take off for a fab 2010 and need your referrals to keep up the momentum.


In the meantime Merry Christmas and enjoy this photo taken by Cari with Inked Fingers Photography of my family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stress Free Thanksgiving.

In surfing the net I came across an article about Stress Free Thanksgiving and thought hey that's right up my alley. So in reading it I have to agree with what was said. The articale was on iVillage and was written by Michele Capozolli. Here is where you can find the article. Here are her 7 steps and my notes on them.

Step 1 Extend the Invitation: What she does not include in this is that this is a time to think about and ask about special dietary needs of any of your guests. Like I have several diabetics on my husbands side of the family. They manage it well and don't require too much special preparation but I make sure to have a non-sweet tea available as well as a desert that is more diabetic friendly if they want it.

Step 2 Plan the Menu: If you do plan a little much make sure to invest in some ZipLock storage bags and containers so you can send some home with guests if you wish or can easy freeze for your lunches the next week.

Step 3 The Decor: What she does not mention is let your food be the decor for the table. Don't over crowd your table with decorations that are just going to be moved away once the food starts being passed around.

Step 4 Go Shopping: Also remember a frozen turkey takes about a week to thaw in the fridge so give yourself time to thaw it. Try to be done shopping the weekend before leaving only fresh items that need to be purchased the day or two before.

Step 5 Clean and Organize: Start with one section of one room at a time and get help. Husbands and Wives and kids can all have responsibilities. If it helps you look at each room and make a list of everything that needs to be done and check it off as you go.

Step 6: Set the Table.: Now if you are like me you use your table in the preparing of foods and this is not an option. But at least have everything out and stacked neatly and ready to go and check the table cloth and make sure there are not any stains on it from last year that you just assumed came out in the wash.

Step 7 start cooking: As for the day of give yourself plenty of time. Start things a little earlier than you think they need. Have several timers for the different things and label them so you know which one is timing what. Also have some easy to grab snacks for little ones and big ones that are just impatient. You may not want them to fill up on snacks but having them out of the kitchen while you are preparing the big feast is worth it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kids Party Favors

I know that most of what I have on this blog is wedding related. I do more then just weddings, so i thought I should share some other fun stuff, like this. Kids Party Favors. I love favors at kids parties, but I like favors that I know kids will want and parents might not hate the host for. Here is a list of some of my favorites.

Music Mix CD

It can be a mix of your child's favorite songs, or based on a theme. If you are having a wild west cowboy party fill the CD with great western songs. You can play the CD during the party so the kids will take home something that will always remind them of your child's party.

Fun Foam

You can buy foam visors and other foam items with foam stickers for very little. This can be an activity at the party where kids can decorate these and then take them home. Pre-School girls seem to really like this.

Themed Books

Find books at half price books or on Amazon.com with the theme of your party and send one home. Kids and parents love books. I will say that I usually try to pair it with something edible because not every child is as thrilled about a book as the next. This could include activity books with crayons.

Goodie Bags

Make these to fit the theme of your party. My kids wild west party I took red bandannas and put in a sheriff badge some Teddy gram's, a juice box, some cowboy stickers, and a quick little thank you note. wrapped them up and tied with twine. For a pirate themed party consider a treasure chest. For a movie party Take popcorn bags or boxes and fill with microwave popcorn and sunglasses (for the superstars), and movie candy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I get alot of questions about invitations and thought I would take a few of them and address some common questions.

No Kids!

This is not saying that you don't like your friends and families children, but your wedding is not really an event planned for them in mind. You want your friends and family to come and have a great time and not worry how far past bedtime it is for their little one. But how do you let them know? I have been asked can I write "No Children" or "Adults Only" on the invitation. Its best for a formal invitation not to include these works. What you have to do is address the invitation very specifically only invite those you want to be there. If they send it back with their kids names on it, then call them and let them know that your wedding is not the place for kids. Also let your wedding party and imidiate family know your wishes and they can help pass on the word.

When do I address and send out my invitations?

Start at least two to three months before your wedding with addressing your invitations. Especially when hand addressing the invitations for a large guest list. Send them out six to eight weeks before the wedding. Ten weeks is best for overseas invitations or APO military addresses. Also give a little longer if your wedding is on a holiday weekend and you did not send out a save the date notice. Also if you have a limited number of guest you are inviting you can send out the first set of invitations around that ten week time frame and as you get replies of some that can't make it, you can send out another invition to someone else that you might have wanted but space did not allow.

Thanksgiving Give Away

Alright all my faithful blog and facebook followers. All my past and present brides and friends in the wedding world I want to say Thank You, and let you know how thankful I am to you. I stole this idea from my friend Carli over at Inked Fingers.
I want to show you all my appreciation because without all of you Stress Free Events would not be where it is today.

So I am offering a Free Event to the winner of this Give Away. You get to pick I will help you plan a Bridal Shower, Baby Shower, Christmas/Holiday Party, Birthday Party (excluding quince and sweet 16). I will help with all the planning and vendor referrals for your event. I will help with a timeline for your event. I will confirm all your vendors, anything else I can help with I will. Depending on the date of your event I will also be on hand to help that day as well.
This is for all of you past, present, future, clients, vendors, friends, family, and those you tell about it.

To enter reply to this blog post or the post on the facebook fan page. And tell me one thing you are thankful for.

Winner will be drawn on Thanksgiving Day and announced no later than the next day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Silk Vs. Real

I will admit that I am a fan of the flower. I really love the look and feel and smell of real flowers. I will admit, also that I lean personally to real flowers. I have heard the various arguments over the years and I have seen some of the merit, but then would go back to my preference of the elegance of real flowers. I recently ran across an article on theknot.com that addressed this issue. Here it is.
Not one thing that it does not address is time. While with Silk you have time to play with the flowers over and over again and get them just right, you actually might end up spending a lot of time on making your flowers. At the same time with a florist you put your flowers in the hands of a professional and take them off your plate for one less thing to worry about.

The choice is yours, its your wedding and you know what you can handle and want. Don't let someone tell you that one way is the only way. Also before making the final choice get a few floral quotes, and search online and at your local craft stores and price out the flowers and other supplies you would need to make your own arrangements.

First Photo by Ron Parks and features real flowers
Second Photo by Jess Watson and features silks

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Deena and Eric

Deena and Eric were such a great couple to work with. And their wedding was just stunning. That is my word of the day with this wedding. First off they choose a venue that I have been drooling over for years and could not wait to do a wedding there, so I was thrilled with the back yard of all back yards in Austin. Then Deena and I when talking came up with a color that was bright and bold just like she was. Top that off with some other awesome vendors. Oh and then Deena was a striking old Hollywood starlet in her dress, and Eric was handsome and striking in his own way. It was a smaller wedding but they had a blast and I have to say their friends and family know how to have a good time. If more of them lived closer I think I would want to hang out with them. See Below for some of the Amazing Cast of Vendors.

Cater: Pink Avocado
Sweets: Sweet Tempered (who I sadly say are not taking new customers but they did wonderfully).
And I want to thank Nery Lauderdale for all her hard work.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Laren and Justin

This was another wonderful wedding. I have been working with Lauren and Justin from across the country with stop in visits here and there. They had a very definite idea of what they wanted and what they could do to get it. I loved helping them find the right elements for their big day.
Here is some of the cast that made this day happen:
Venue: Caswell House (Craig was a huge help with switching from ceremony to dinner and clean up)
Caterer: Pink Avocado. I have to say I am always impressed with these guys and their service and their food. The apple goat cheese quesidilla appetizers are a favorite now of mine.
Photos: The Nichols (these photos are mine I will post theirs when they get the editing done).
Cakes: Blue Note Bakery (And yes every bit of that grooms cake is edible).
Sound: Stretch Sound. Justin and Lauren knew what music they wanted so they put it all on an IPOD and then JT put together a great sound system that provided music upstairs and downstairs for the event. Oh and he was helping move tables and chairs when we were switching to the dinner time from ceremony time. Way to go above the call of duty.
Coordinator/Planner: Myself and new to the team Channin Young (thanks for all your hard work Channin).

Heather and Reid

Heather and Reid hired us for their Fall reception. Teresa and Nery were on hand for this event and handled everything beautifully, while I was a phone call away preparing for another event.
I loved the colors and garden feel that they achieved here. This was an afternoon wedding and a pretty laid back feel, just like this sweet couple. I hope to do another post soon with professional photos.
Some of the Cast:
Cakes and Cupcakes: Polka Dots
Caterer: Food Heads
Photos: Sarah Q (the ones in this post are by my staff)

A special Thank you to JT with Stretch Sound who stopped by when the sound system was not working properly on set up and did his thing and got it running without any troubles. What a great guy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Making it Personal

How many times have you heard in the wedding planning process that its your day. Do what you want? I am guessing tons. Especially from vendors they are all about you making things your way. Sometimes it just because they want the chance to do something new, and sometimes its because they think they can charge you more for those special touches.

Well first off don't let them talk you into something that will cost you more money. It is your wedding and you do deserve all the special touches, but make sure those are in your budget.

What are ways to make your day special?

Well think about it as more than your day, but as a day for you and your family. Are there ways to bring in your family and their traditions. At the last wedding the bride had a ribbon that was on her mothers bridal bouquet tied into her own flowers. Another bride took a charm off her mothers favorite bracelet and pinned it to her flowers. Yet another bride took a collection of photos from her parents wedding and her fiance's family and made a collage of family wedding photos. Another bride used the cake topper from her mothers wedding cake.

What are some other things that can make your day about you? Use your favorite flowers in arrangements. Plan your theme around something special to you. Books? Why not use antique and vintage books as the base to centerpieces? What you are not a flower person? That's fine. No reason to fill your wedding with them if they just are not you. Use candles instead. Feathers are also a fun alternative. Have bridesmaids carry fans, or lanterns or something other than flowers.

Favors: Forget the Jordan almond and the impersonal favor that will end up in the garbage anyway. Give your guests something that reflects your personal style. If you like to cook, measuring spoons or wooden spoons engraved with your wedding date and names are nice touches. For smaller weddings, jars of homemade jam, ingredients for cookies or your baking specialty along with the recipe could be a nice touch. Golf balls and tees with your wedding date and names reflect the golf lovers and will surely bring pleasure to your fellow golfers.

Instead of place cards with just your guests' name, take this opportunity to personalize a short note to a special guest on the inside of the card. While this may be impossible for larger weddings, those family members who are especially close to you would love to have a personal note to them sitting on their table.

Traditional reception events are another place to make things personal. Do them if you love them. But know that its okay to skip the cake and opt for general deserts instead. Don't dance? Its okay don't put yourself through that first dance. No one says you have to dance at a reception. If you love to dance then do it. Enjoy it.

Make your day about what you two are. Step out and enjoy the day.

Don't limit yourself. Don't be stuck with the idea that this is just how its always been.
(above photo by princess and outlaw photography)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jennifer and Jaron 10/3/09

See Below Photos for some details.

Well it was a wet day. We had rain off an on and a few downpours here and there. But you can't tell by the smiles on their faces. Jennifer and Jaron made this day exactly what they wanted it to be.
The ceremony was at their home church in Elgin (Family Worship Center). Jennifer wanted white on white decorations. The church itself was very pretty so that was not much we added some tulle and bows and a lot of candles and it was perfect.

The reception at Krystal Falls was just up the road. They kept the colors simple under the pavilion and it was just so nice. Below is one of the pics my assistant Nery took of the pavilion.

All the other photos here are by Mary with Princess and Outlaw Photography.

Others in the cast that made the day so special are Dagars Catering, Hill Country Events, DJ Fame, and the Elgin Fire Dept. Yep you see Jaron is a fire fighter and so after the ceremony when there was a let up on the rain Our happy bride and groom surprised their guest by arriving at the reception on the back of a fire truck. Check out my facebook fan page for more photos soon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Bouquet Toss

The question to include this old fashioned tradition is on lots of brides minds these days. The tradition started back years ago when a bride felt she was lucky in love to be getting married. The bride felt it her obligation to share some of that luck with her other single friends.

Now in 2009 this is not so much the case. There are woman that are single and very happy to be so, and the idea of being drug out to the dance floor to catch flowers is not their idea of a fun wedding. Also brides bouquets are so pretty now many brides what to hold on to their bouquets.

Toss bouquets are an option now. Many florist will make you a smaller arrangement of your flowers you can use to toss if you do still want to do this, but don't want to get rid of your flowers. Some florist will even throw this in for free since they will most likely have extra flowers to use.

What about giving it away to your parents instead. Thank them for being all they are in your life. Mom will love the flowers and Dad will appreciate the public thank you.

Or give them to the couple that has been married the longest. This can be determined by an anniversary dance, or your parents might know in advance and you can find a time to present the flowers to them then.

Give them to the person that traveled the farthest. Only trouble here is they might not be able to take them back with them, depending on travel restrictions.

Skip it all together. Just have a girlfriends dance. Get your DJ to play a song that fits you and your girls and just all get out there and dance no need to toss flowers at any of them. Not if you don't want to. This way you have your married and your single friends out there with you.

Give it to a newly engaged couple. Why guess who is getting married next. If you know that your best friend is planning her wedding already give her the flowers and wish her a happy planning.

What ever you do make sure its something you are comfortable with. Its your day you can follow the traditions or make it your own.

(photo by Jess Watson)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The First Dance

For some couples choosing that first dance song is easy. They have a song. They use that song. If my hubby and I actually danced at our reception our first dance would have been "My Special Angel" by Bobby Helms. This was our song, it meant something to us.

What if you don't have a special song, or that song that is special to you two, is not something you feel you would want to dance to at your wedding? Well there are lists out there to help you get on your way. The knot has a list of 50 top songs that are classics in the wedding world. And popular wedding songs. com has this list to share.

Amazed. Lonestar
From This Moment On. Shania Twain
At Last. Etta James
Because You Loved Me. Celine Dion
I Cross my Heart. George Strait
It's Your Love. Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
Wonderful Tonight. Eric Clapton
Have I Told You Lately. Rod Stewart or Van Morrison
I Swear. All 4 One
Unchained Melody. Righteous Brothers
I Knew I Loved You. Savage Garden
Always and Forever. Heatwave
The Way You Look Tonight. Frank Sinatra
True Companion. Marc Cohn
Endless Love. Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
I Do [Cherish You]. 98 Degrees
It had to be You. Harry Connick Jr.
Could I Have This Dance. Anne Murray
Here and Now. Luther Vandross
Truly, Madly, Deeply. Savage Garden
Everything I Do. Bryan Adams
I Could Not Ask For More. Edwin McCain
All My Life. KC & JoJo
Taking You Home. Don Henley
Beautiful in My Eyes. Joshua Kadison
When a Man Loves a Woman. Michael Bolton
Breathe. Faith Hill
What a Wonderful World. Louis Armstrong
Unforgettable. Nat King Cole & Natalie
My Heart Will Go On. Celine Dion

Just because its classic does not mean it is right for you. I love to see a couple use a song that really fits their personalities, oh and it does not have to be a slow song if you don't want it to be. I just say warn grandma your going to bust out in rap before hand, or have her heart pills handy just in case its too much for her. My thoughts on it. Have fun.

Photo by Now and Then Photography

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I have read on several of the bridal pages and magazines this same question. Who do I tip and how much? There are several things to consider in this. With some help from recent readings and popular trends I hope to help clear the air on this.

First you tip for service. This is service that goes above what you feel your contract required. For example I worked with a Bartender that not only cleaned and cleared their glasses from the venue, but they picked up trash and plates and got them to the kitchen as well. It was not part of their contract and not at all expected. Was it appreciated? Yes of course it was. This is a case where a tip would have been appropriate. Tip when you can and what you can afford for services worth tipping. Also if a contract includes tipping you will have to tip then (very common in caterers). So lets look at some of the people at your event and how to tip them.

Venue: This is a place not a person. So in general a tip is not required. If they have someone on staff at the whole event to open up and lock up and such you still are not required to tip them. If they act as a coordinator or help with decorations and arranging things and this was not expected in the contract to be provided then a tip is in order. $50 to $100 depending on how much they do for you.

Baker: The tip is usually in the cost of the cake.
Make up and Hair: 10%-15% is the standard amount to tip.

Photographer: In general another tipping rule is if you are working with the owner of the company you don't have to tip. In the Central Texas area you will find a lot of photographers that are their own boss. At the same time many of them hire and work with a second shooter. If they bring more than one photographer then its appropriate to tip the assistant or second shooter. Now if you love your photographer and all they have done there is nothing to say that you can not tip them even if they own their own company. This goes for any of your vendors that own their own company.

DJ: Tip $25 to $50 per DJ when possible. Again the if they own their own business comes into play but this amount is the accepted minimum for tipping on a DJ.

Band: Tip is often included in their contract. If not plan on $25.00 to $50.00 per band member (don't forget about their technician if they have someone running lights and sound for them).

Bartender: $50.00 to $100 per bartender is the common tip in the Austin area. San Antonio is running $25.00 to $50.00.

Caterer: Almost always the tip is included in the contract. It usually runs 15%-20%. If not find out how many people will be working and tip them accordingly. I recommend if you are going to tip 4 people $25 dollars each you make sure you write that on the envelope before its given to the caterer and have it divided out into $25.00 sets. Do not just put in 2 $100.00 bills and hope they can split it up later.

Video: Same applies as with photographer

Decorators: If you have a company you are going to hire just to decorate for you then you should again plan on tipping the staff (your choice on the owner). Depending on the number of people and the set up depends on the amount tipped.

Rental Company: Rented items, even when delivered are a set price and there is not need to tip.

Limo: If you have rented a car, unless the driver is the owner of that car then a tip of 10-15% is appropriate.

Clergy: Check your local area to make sure how payment can be made and what is appropriate. Some judges in some areas can not take anything financial for their services, or anymore than a set price. This is a case to ask the person straight up. If they say you can just make a donation then the going rate right now is $75-$200. Church ministers often will only take a donation and add on top any pre-marital counseling they may have done with you and this is not a large amount at all.

Planner/Coordinator: Again the if they own their own business comes into play. Remember their staff though. $25-$50 per staff is acceptable. Again if your coordinator does more than agree ed upon you can defiantly tip them.

It all comes down to your choice on all of these. Always check the contracts to make sure you are not over tipping, just in case the tip is included in the contract already. I recommend putting all tips and final payments in individual envelopes and label who they go to. Then give those to your coordinator if you have one. If not get someone close to you to do this. The best man (if responsible is a good choice). The father of the bride often finds he has the time to do this.

And finally can you tip after the fact? Yes. The wedding is over. You were in a daze and loved it so much. You hear from your mother that one vendor went above and beyond and you never even noticed. At that point you can still mail them a little something to thank them for that extra effort.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Casual Afternoon Wedding

These weddings are getting more and more popular. I am not sure if its the style or convenience of them. Guest don't have to go out and buy a new formal outfit for a formal wedding. Most any nice dress they have will work. Guys can get away without a suit coat for these and so you have comfy guests. You serve simple comfort foods. Nothing too heavy. How about a garden theme. tea and sandwiches to follow. Drinking is fine but usually lighter drinks. Brides opt for no veil and often no train. Grooms are going with simple suits or slacks and nice shirts. Some brides are even skipping the formal dress and going for something light a flowing. Cakes stacked to the sky are skipped for desert bars, or cupcakes. Don't get me wrong they are very nice. Nothing in a casual afternoon wedding means you can't have a beautiful wedding with a formal gown if you want it. Many afternoon weddings skip the dancing but its not unheard of for at least a few special songs to be played. Love does not mind the time of day and you will love the comfort of your guests.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Severed Ties with a recomended Vendor

I hate to do this but after some things have been brought to my attention I feel I need to say something to you all.
Back in February I highlighted the Cake Pan in a vendor spotlight. At this time I regret it. I don't make a habit of spotlighting someone and them not being awesome.
Dawn and I went to church together. She made these amazing cakes for several occasions at the church. They looked great and they tasted great. So when she told me she was opening her own shop I thought great. She asked if I would recommend her. I said from what I saw I would pass her information on to people. One of my brides booked with her. She did her cakes and they were great. She did everything she said she would and her prices were great. During this time my family and her family start to hang out together. Dawn was a friend as well as a vendor.
Another two of my brides book her.
The first of these weddings comes and I was stressing because I was not getting straight answers. She ends up showing up the cake is cute and what the family wanted. I noticed some things and called her out on them. Like the shape was not what the family had asked for but she told me that she discussed it with the family that this shape was better for the cake. It was not until months later that I find out that it was not discussed. But they didn't care.
The second wedding comes. I don't hear back from Dawn she is missing church and I am stressing about her getting this cake done. I knew she had just moved because I helped her. But figured she was out at the shop doing the cake. I drive out there to get something of mine and find the electricity was turned off. She said that with the unexpected move she forgot about it, but no big deal she was not storing anything out there and was working from home. Assured me cake was coming along as scheduled. The cake shows up and its just not right. It resembles what they asked for but its not it, exactly. Also there was no cake stand. It was set up and she was gone before I could question it. I ask the next day and she said the stand she wanted had broken in the move. I was upset because I could have gotten a stand if I had known. I asked her when she was sending money back for the rental of the stand that wasn't and she assured me it was on its way. I find out from my bride that she never got this money. I tried bringing it up and got a story every time and it changed every time.
Sometime before this her husband left her. I know that's hard but business is business. As a friend my husband and I were hearing stories from both sides of the marriage and we came to the conclusion that they were both telling lies. This is when I pulled all my stuff from her shop and decided not to send anyone else to her, but would stay on her about those last two. I really had no reason to think she would not do a good job.
Well when school let out and she had already closed the shop because she could not afford the shop with her husband gone. She would still call me. I decided that even though I could not work with her anymore I would at least still be there for her. Every call got increasingly hard for me. I felt used and taken advantage of. the times I would bring up the money she still owed my bride she would change the topic and blow me off. I couldn't trust anything she said. Then I find out she is moving. She is moving home to live with a family member. I figure this is the best for her and the kids. She tells me she does not have anymore weddings coming up so all is well.
At this point I feel that it was a good thing I washed my hands of her buisness. And even while she was moved I was getting emails that I can't tell the truth from a lie in them and decide to stop emailing with her as well. I never actually severed the friendship with her verbally just quit responding to things.
Now I find out from one of my other brides that she is leaving a bride hanging whose wedding is in three weeks. I don't know if there is any others out there that she has booked but she is no longer in the state and is not doing the weddings. Worst thing is I dought anyone is going to be getting money back at least not from her volentarily. I was so mad yesterday I tried to call her. See if she was going to at least make good or try to on any of these. Her number was disconected. Why am I not surprised?
What I hate is that I look bad for ever recomending her in the first place. I had good cakes that looked good at first. I don't know what happened, but I could not stop recomending her fast enough. One bad cake order and I quit telling people about her, but still others have herad about her from others. But they would not have heard about her still if it was not for me in the first place.
I have great cake experiances with several other bakeries and some of them have done multiple cakes with me, but I know other planners that have used them as well and so I don't hesitate to recomend them. I am willing to do what I can to help people get their money back, but know that its not much.
So officially I have severed my friendship with her and her buisness. I am deleating her from my facebook and myspace accounts.
Rest assured I am sick over this and no more recomendations just because they go to church with me and have a couple of good showings.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Casey and DJ

Casey and DJ were a cute and fun couple. He is active Navy and Casey will be joining him out East where he is stationed. Aren't they beautiful?
The Kiss Ahh.

The Rings. The wedding colors were yellow and pool blue. The cakes were great. They were done by Jason someone the family has gotten to know well. Interested in contacting him let me know I have his email. The grooms cake did have the Navy insignia on the top. Very Well Done
There were so may great people that made this wedding happen.
The Ceremony was at First United Methodist Church Round Rock
The Reception was the Wingate Hotel/Conference Center Round Rock
Cake by Jason
DJ: D and M Sound they did a great job. Great selection of music.
Caterer: Debbie Cole Catering
Decorations: Put together by Jimmie. I have her contact information if anyone is interested.
Rentals: A to Z rentals and Hill Country Event Planning.
Photos: Jess Watson Photography. You can see more of her work here
I have contact information for all of these vendors if you are interested. I have to say I really enjoyed working with everyone of these vendors. The family made the centerpieces themselves. Lots of DIY touches. Beautiful Wedding. I will post more photos as I get them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daytime Formal Wedding

Surprisingly this is not very different than an formal evening. One big difference is the time of day, obviously. But other things I see is that the cocktail hour has a different and lighter feel to it. Signature drinks, fruity drinks are popular during daytime. Meals are not as heavy. Lighter chicken and turkey dishes with steamed veggies are more often served than heavier beef dishes with heavy starchy sides. The dancing also is usually limited. Receptions often are shorter. Still very fun, elegant, and formal.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Traditional Formal Evening Wedding

The traditional formal evening wedding is a model of elegance. From a vast array of foods @ the cocktail hour, a gourmet dinner, fine decor, good china and crystal on the tables, a several-tierred cake, and dancing throughout the reception. It's the princess wedding for a princess bride- and it's also the model that the $27,000 national average wedding budget comes from. For some couples this is the wedding that they are trying to get away from in order to do something more personal more to their style.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back to School

For the past few weeks my kids have been going stir crazy. Its been too hot to go outside much, and they have played with all their toys and with each other until they just didn't want to any more. TV was not so interesting either. So picking on each other became the best option in their mind. I felt like I was playing referee everyday.
So today they started school and they were so excited and I have to admit that I was too. I have so many things to do and can do with them out of the house. This morning though I was not as ready to send them back.
Isaiah decided last night that he wanted daddy to drop him off at school this morning. He did not want to be walked in because he is a big boy. He is starting 2nd grade. Christina wanted me to walk her into school. So we take two cars to the school that is only 4 miles away from home. I park and walk Christina in. As I get in the door, Isaiah is coming in from the car pool line. He walks with us to the Cafeteria. I help Christina figure out how to pick out breakfast and sit with her and Isaiah as they have breakfast. As soon as Isaiah finishes he asks what to do next. This is a new school for both of them this year. So I tell him to ask the teacher that is helping. She takes him to the door and shows him to his room. I don't get a hug and kiss or a good bye. I hold the tears as my son is such a big boy. Christina finishes her breakfast and we ask where she needs to go. They tell us to her class. I ask if she is ready for me to go. She said no. So I walk her to her room. I help her find her cubby and put up her back pack. I tell her I can stay only one minute and then I have to leave. She sits with her class on the rug. A minute passes and a bell rings signaling that everyone not in class needs to get to class. I give her a hug and kiss and I walk out not looking back with a tear down my cheek. Her teacher handed parents that come into the classroom a few Hershey kisses wrapped in Kleenex and a poem about the first day. It was sweet. The tissues did come in handy. I know they have to grow up and I know I will learn to cherish this time at home without them. Until then I will keep myself busy with wedding and events, and various other projects I need to work on.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Grooms Cake

The grooms cake is making its comeback. Due to budgets there was a time they were one of the items that were cut out. When they were there the traditional grooms cake was a simple chocolate sheet cake. No imagination. Lets face it brides, you have all the fun at the wedding, you get to pick from a wealth of pretty dresses. You get tons of pretty cakes to pick from. You pick the color of the flowers and the linens, and all the other fun details. All that to say let him eat cake.

Not just any cake mind you but one that fits who he is. Here are some ideas

A soccer ball for the soccer fan or player

A football for the football fan or player

what about the golf fan getting a golf bag and clubs

A running shoe for the runner.

Doctors bag for the physician

Computer for the techie

Law books for the lawyer

Car for the Mechanic

And like the photo in the blog a cigar box with real cigars for the cigar loving groom.

Their cakes should reflect who they are. Don't worry about it fitting in with the rest of the decorations or the feel of the wedding. Also don't fall into the trap that it has to be chocolate. Let it be a flavor he likes. If he does not like chocolate don't make him choose that. Your guest don't have to have chocolate cake at your wedding. ( thanks Carli for the photo)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Favors were margarita jelly beans in margarita glasses. too cute.
this was a fab. cake look at all the work and is all icing. no fondunt and the flowers on top are icing too.

Cigar box grooms cake. So yummy.
Escourt cards

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