World's Best Wedding Video

Wedding videos should capture the celebration highlights and the story of the treasured love. Now, I may be biased as this couple are dear friends of ours, but this is HANDS DOWN the best wedding video I've ever seen. (Yes, it's better than my own.) The composition is impeccable, the shots artistic, the music is perfectly paired with the content, and truly embodies the emotion felt throughout this southern wedding weekend. And it didn't hurt that the Charleston-based crew were a pleasure to be around. Please enjoy. 

A Bachelorette Dinner Soiree

For a friend's bachelorette weekend, I was honored to host a 'welcome' dinner for friends and family in town. While I could have cooked and baked, I opted for an easier alternative. Having heard of Kitchensurfing in Chicago, an online marketplace where you can hire local chefs to come to your home and cook, I thought I'd give it a try. I emailed one of the Kitchensurfing managers and within hours, I was given chef options to choose from, all carrying glowing reviews. I landed on Chef Kristin and we quickly got to work on the menu development, and, after a handful of exchanges, we landed on "hearty appetizers" in addition to an extensive cheese plate curated by yours truly and a little crudite.

Check out the menu (that I designed/doodled) as well as some of the spread.

To ensure everyone kept in good spirits, I curated a selection of wine pairings and handmade tags to accompany each of the bottles, highlighting their characteristics with a tag hanging by twine. 

I set out on the decor to be romantic, yet rustic and elegant with shades of pink throughout - among the bride's favorite. I purchased antique hydrangeas, pink roses, baby's breath for floral arrangement accents and paired that with burlap textures, antique candleholders, mason jars and even painted canvas "W & V" letters in the evening's color tone throughout my kitchen and living room. 

As a takeaway, guests filled out a custom scrapbook to write, doodle or sketch their favorite shared memory with the bride. Stickers, markers, scrapbook items and more made a perfect page.  


Have any of you thrown a bachelorette dinner? 

Music City NAUptials - Part 2, The Wedding

The country love was felt all around at our friend's Nashville wedding. For the ceremony and reception, we ventured about 45 minutes outside Nashville to the charming Front Porch Farms also home to Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert's engagement party. The rustic, charming details made for a perfect country-chic wedding set against the 32-acre sprawling estate which boasts a barn, main house, pool, and a potbelly pig aptly named Bobby-Q.

Check out some of my photos:

Escort cards hanging in an antique frame.

Darling sitting area.

The bride and her country-chic dressed groom and their first kiss as Mr. and Mrs.

Bobby-Q the potbelly pig frolicking with the flower girls. 
Love this... all guests wrote well-wishes to the newlyweds on a guitar. 

When there's a pool, a bride and groom must jump in! 

A sparkler send-off.

Music City NAUptials - Part 1

Nahville, a.k.a. "'Music City" was the summer wedding destination for our two city friends and my was it a rocking time. My husband and I arrived a day early and did a little grubbing and exploring. Armed with numerous restaurant suggestions, we jumped right to it. Below are photos and details of our Nosh-ville journey, Part 2 of the Nashville wedding details to follow.

First stop was reknown Arnold's Country Kitchen in "The Gulch" area; a cafeteria-style haunt boasting classic southern comfort food (think pork BBQ, roast beef, chicken livers), collard greens, corn bread, mac n' cheese, banana pudding, pies, and sweet tea. Yup, I think I ate it all. Tourists, beware, this stop is only open Monday - Friday 6:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. And you know a spot is solid when it can demand these hours and turn away weekend visitors. 

After exploring "The District" downtown Nashville, perusing cowboy hats and boots (who knew cowboy boots cost $500?!), the evening started with a stop to cheers the bride and groom at Legends Corner on Broadway while enjoying some live music.

We then ventured to the Capitol Grille at the Hermitage Hotel, a historic five-star hotel with impressive classic and decor and easy going elegance.

The restaurant, downstairs from the hotel offers a southern-influenced sustainable menu all with local ingredients. The Executed Chef is aptly titled "Farmer" as well, growing vegetables five miles down the road.

The next morning, we ventured to the renown Pancake Pantry, a classic a Nashville tradition since 1961. After a waiting in a line around the corner (quite common), we dug in to the must-order pancakes, in our case, sweet potato pancakes with real sweet potato in the batter topped with cinnamon cream syrup. 

After the wedding (Part 2 coming), we needed one last - but needed - stop before returning home. I had visited McCradys in charming South Carolina and had one of my favorite meals and Husk Nashville is part of the same award-winning Neighborhood restaurant group. What a stop it was. I still dream about the biscuits and gravy. 

Check out the Nashville wedding details up next. 

California Love - Part 2

After our California tourist stint and grubbing (see earlier post, California Love - Part 1), we headed to Agoura Hills, where the wedding festivities took place. This is "the valley" and while the July Cali tempatures rose, the heat was especially felt here. Naturally, a quick dip in the hotel pool cooled us off a bit before the rehearsal dinner under a clear sky and filled with Kansas Jayhawk love (the couples' and majority of the wedding party's bad guests' alma mater).

The wedding was set at a winery boasting a Napa-esque feel, dripping trees, tall hills surrounding the ceremony and was complete with a charming barn. The Triunfo Creek Vineyards was a tucked away gem with many custom touches by the bride and groom. See some of my photos below, enjoy.

A sunny ceremony underneath a billowing tree.

Darling seating tags hung across a vintage farm door.

Game time! Oversized Jenga with custom pieces for guests. 

Low florals and country-chic decor.

A classic country-style southern meal complete with corn bread and mac-n-cheese.

Refreshing custom lemonade cocktail in fitting mason jar and burlap napkins. 

Dinner station clarity on a chalkboard within a gilded frame. 

A fitting wedding cake to coincide with the decor. 

A relaxing takeaway for the new couple.

Time to pop! 

A sweet delivery... ice cream truck!

Magical evening setting. 

California Love - Part 1

Last month, my husband and I traveled to Los Angeles where we attended a wedding of one of his good college buddies. We made it a bit of a small trip, flying in a day early to explore Santa Monica and drive around Los Angeles as my husband hadn't visited in years.

It was an incredible weekend filled with sun, friends, food and celebrations. While I'd love to cram the activities and wedding details into one, I'll spare you, hence Part 1 (our Los Angeles tourist stops) and Part 2 (the wedding)

First stop was Cecconi's West Hollywood, which came recommended by a friend. The plush blue seating against dark wood, the open air seating, and, perhaps my favorite, the sprawling marble bar, all were a welcomed backdrop to the impeccable people-watching that took center stage. The obligatory hand-crafted cocktails differed from like venues with their own vintage glasses providing that extra flair.

The next morning, we enjoyed a rooftop brunch at the Roof atop Hotel Wilshire boasting some spectacular views of the sprawling city and a faint, foggy view of the famed Hollywood sign. 

Next stop was a stroll along the Santa Monica pier (yes, quite touristy), but apropos given the celebration of our country's independence and celebrating... 

After afternoon shopping and exploring, we headed to the groom's childhood home for a classic BBQ hosted by his parents. Perhaps my favorite part of the evening (in between continuing college stories shared well into the evening), was the mother-of-the-groom's incredible backyard garden bursting with blossoming roses galore. 

And so our food journey continued the next day with yet another recommended brunch locale the next day at Eveleigh on Sunset in West Hollywood. This trendy, yet casual and charming spot felt nearly anti-LA with it's rustic decor, shabby-chic French open-air feel. The brunch farm-to-table menu, french press coffee and fresh ingredients made a perfect start to the day.

After brunch, we drove up to Agoura Hills, the location of the wedding, with a needed stop at the Getty Museum for a little afternoon enlightenment. The views and inspiring creativity flowed atop the mountain views.

Finally, we made a trip to Malibu to cruise along the coast, soak in a some rays and admire the surfer community. Unfortunately, while enjoying the surfing waves, my husband's sunglasses found their resting place. RIP Mr. Oakley.

All in all, a fabulous lineup of sunny activities separate from the wedding celebrations. Can't wait to share details of this Cali love winey soiree... coming up soon.

Romantic South Carolina Weddings

USA Today recently compiled a list of the most romantic wedding destinations in South Carolina, and to my pleasant surprise, an upcoming friend's wedding locale made the cut. I knew the scenery at Palmetto Bluff was beautiful, and cannot wait to head there in November where my husband will be performing the ceremony at the charming chapel.

Here's a snippet from the article: The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort - tucked into a curve of the May River, 40 minutes outside of Hilton Head, the Inn at Palmetto Bluff is a luxurious retreat set in the heart of the lowcountry where you and your guests can kayak with dolphins; ride horseback; hike; and indulge in massages and facials in a spa overlooking a quiet lagoon. Dreamy settings for weddings — inside an old-fashioned clapboard chapel, on a formal lawn with plantation ruins as your backdrop, under a canopy of moss-draped oaks — set an unabashedly romantic vibe that's only matched by a visually stunning landscape of ancient maritime forests and tidal creeks.

Check out some photos of our friends' engagement shoot at Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina:

Photo credit: Virgil Bunao, Charleston

Southern Charm: Savannah

A recent friend's wedding whisked me to Savannah, Georgia - a city on my "must-visit" list for quite some time. I love the south - the food, charm, rich history and I was thrilled to have some time to explore the city before the wedding festivities.

I instantly fell in love with Savannah - the cobblestone and brick streets, old churches, statues on every few blocks reminiscent of a European city and not to mention the shopping - it was everything I expected and then some. 

Check out some photos of my explorations - will post in a bit about this breathtaking, southern-chic wedding shortly!

A Traveling Event - Monday, May 12

Many of you know by now that I am a traveling gal, so when I was approached to help host a launch event Monday, May 12 of travel-inspired pieces designed and manufactured by a sister duo in my favorite city (Chicago), I jumped on board. The pieces are designed to pack in suitcases for any destination - so many of the pieces are super versatile and of course will pair seamlessly with added sparkle. I have my eye on the Cabana Dress

Check out the Buckley K website and invite details below. Even better, 10% of proceeds will benefit Girl Effect and guests will enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at the chic Hotel Lincoln (Clark Room). 

Hope to see you there! 

Cabana Dress in Ivory and Black

An Unconventional Wedding Gift

For one dear couple whose wedding was the week before ours, both us newlyweds opted for an alternative wedding gift exchange. Instead of gifting wine glasses or towels (which are still lovely), we set to create a lasting memory and share a meal together. And it seemed about right - we all like food and booze. Further, it would be a time post-wedding to relax, enjoy a talented kitchen and relive some of all of our whirlwind wedding activities.

We felt this route was more apropos than the former, and selected a top destination that none of our quartet had visited. And it wasn't just any meal - we selected L2O in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. 

Here's a snapshot of our menu and wine pairings (well the gals had the vino, the guys enjoyed scotch and whiskey.)

To top off the evening, we received a post-meal private tour of the pristine kitchen and experienced an inkling of the culinary passions behind the scenes. 

Indeed a gift to remember and I highly suggest investigating an alternative experience as a gift for a wedding. 

A Selfie: Bride Edition

Ok, I did it. I had this photo for ages and held posting it on social media for months. I've never been an avid selfie-taker, but it seemed so apropos. 

Which got me thinking... so many disclose photos and major life events on social media (guilty), so why would I shy away from sharing a selfie on one of the biggest days of my life? Perhaps I was feeling I should be sensitive to appearing too self-absorbed? Too into myself? Thinking no one cared to see it (likely the case)... 

Who knows, but in the end, I'm happy I snapped a rare moment of isolation post-wedding and embraced the social media fever (and word of the year) albeit in a wedding dress. 

With that, behold my wedding selfie. Would love to hear/see if anyone else has snapped one or if it's simply my own lonesome, photo-loving self?! 

A Sunny Bachelorette

My husband and I have many destination weddings in 2014, and bachelorette parties have followed suit. I was recently in Scottsdale for a college friend's bachelorette... sun, cocktails, games and food with friends ensued. And escaping the Midwest snowstorms made it so much sweeter. Below are some PG highlights of the weekend.

An appropriately-stocked fridge - bubbles, beer, mixers, and plenty of water for hydration. 

The humble condo for the weekend - stunning decor and design...

A serene poolside view for soaking up the sun...

Custom menu celebrating the bride in the private chef's table room Elements restaurant at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain...

...complete with rosé and roses for Valentine's Day.

The lingerie game with goodies for the bachelorette - what bride doesn't want some new undergarment goods as she becomes a Mrs?! Set a price limit for attendees, make sure those who aren't in attendance send along a gift and write cute unsigned notes for the bride to guess who it's from! 

Last night at Dominick's Scottsdale up in the rooftop poolside dining room... cheers to good friends and delicious seafood! 

Scottsdale sunset.

Elements - XII

Thank You Notes

Many overlook the importance of a quality, hand-written thank you note. And wedding "thank you's" should stand no different. 

However, no one tells you these puppies take forever... it seems as if it's a bottomless list! 

I went old-school in my approach (vs. digital), checking off a master printed spreadsheet when the stamps and letters were licked to ensure no one was overlooked. 

Some Suggestions:
-Quality over quantity. Add a personal touch to each and every note and have the husband sign. Hey, he reaps the benefits of the gifts too, no?! I received so many lovely comments on the thoughtful notes and the groom signature.
-Cards. Do you want your wedding photos as your card for guests to remember the night? Ask your photographer if they offer printing as part of your package. Or a simple initial of your new last name is always classic or consider mirroring wedding colors/prints/invitations to match your thank you cards. 
-Custom Stamps. Don't forget a custom return address stamp with your new last name or initial. Nearly all paper shops will carry these and try etsy as well!
-Stamps. Do you really want Lego-Man on your wedding thank you notes? There are lovely floral, love and wedding stamp options. 
-DIY. If feeling a little sassy or crave and added sparkle, put a small adhesive gem on your notes (found at Michael's, Jo-Ann Crafts, etc.)

My setup one snowy afternoon...