29 October, 2010

Green your Halloween: Some Words of Wisdom from Cream City Green

So as you may or may not know, a new Greenie blog has hit the scene.  Written by MKE smarty pants (and friend of mine), Rachel Nadasdy, Cream City Green serves as a guide to help us get off our wasteful little tushies and join the fight to save Mother Earth.  My favorite part, you ask?  CCG encourages us to look at the small things we can do to clean up our own little corners of this wonderful world.  She reminds us that all our efforts are important and worthwhile.  For me this is HUGE, because by cramming huge, abstract ideas down our throats, some Greenie blogs can make helping out feel daunting and improbable. 

Needless to say, I love this blog and am so excited to watch it grow!  Now.  What does this mean for you?  Well, there's a brilliant little post over there today about Greening your Halloween.  It's smart, fresh and really helpful.  Not to mention her tips and tricks can be easily suited to your Spooktacular Soiree.  Give it a read and I'm sure you'll be as inspired as I am.

Here's the link, cupcakes, I hope you use it!

28 October, 2010

Rue the Day? Yes, Please!

Well dolls, I hit the style motherload the other day with the new Rue Magazine.  First of all, its totes brill.   This online mag is the real deal, y'all!  Stunning photo shoots, incredible color palettes and engaging articles are just the tip of the fabulous iceberg!  Also on the website you'll find recipes (hello!) and a photo gallery (that's yet to come, but can you imagine?).  So why share this with you?  Other than trying to drown you in the chic?

I'll tell you.

If there's one the thing that will tip the event design scales in your favor, it's possessing the ability to draw inspiration from anywhere.  Life is unbelievably, spectacularly beautiful and we are lucky enough to be smack dab in the middle of it.  All we have to do is look around.  Seriously!  I want my clients to know the keys to creating an unforgettable event are hiding in their houses, the building down the block, the curve of a musical instrument!

Don't know where to look?  That's okay too,  because publications like Rue Magazine can help you!  You can find your wildest party dreams in the pages of that magazine.

Okay.  Enough silly gushing!  Get your fantastic little behinds over to that wonderful magazine and check it out for yourself.  You might also want to follow them on Twitter.  I am.

Photo Credit: blogcatalog dot com via Rue Magazine

Bring Me the Funk

My friend, Miss Kate Funk, Milwaukee's own little design diva has done it again!  It's finally here!  Yay!  I cannot WAIT to get my paws on it.

That's right, this is a picture of the 2011 Kate Funk Cat Calendar.  Starring Kate's fashionable feline, AC the 2011 calendar pays homage to twelve of America's most beloved movie classics.  I have last year's calendar and let me tell ya, I didn't think anything could top it.  I am a HUGE movie geek, so this calendar is a perfect 10 for me!

Now for the recap:  1.  Kate Funk is my awesome friend.
                                   2.  She has a website and her cat has a blog (and a Facebook page).
                                   3.  There's an Etsy shop.
                                   4.  You should do yourself a favor and check it out!

13 October, 2010

Lowering the Bar: Remixed Part Deux

Here you go, darlings.  Part two of my answer on saving some green at the bar...Sorry for the delay y'all!

In my last post, I described three general rules couples should follow when attempting to control the liquid cost of their reception. So, what's to be done when you've chosen a venue? While it can be hard to avoid some expense, especially with soda and coffee, there are always things that can be done. Here are a couple of tricks I routinely employ to save a few clams!

1. Never underestimate the beauty of the signature drink. This is a great way for couples on a budget to save a little money while kicking the personal touches up a notch. Choose a drink you and your SO really like, give it a fun, flirty name and voila! A signature drink is born. Then, serve your guests soda, coffee, champagne for the toast and your signature drink. Also, consider making a colorful sign to announce your drink at the bar. Here's a drink idea* to get you started!

Love's First Kiss
Cranberry Juice
Ginger Ale
garnish with Lime, serve over ice in a cocktail glass
*This is one of my favorite drinks. I happen to really like Cape Cods, though. Great for summer!

2. Limit the free stuff to a few choice items. This works well for couples who would like to have a few free items on the menu, but maybe don't want to give away the farm. I suggest paying the corkage fee on a limited number of wine bottles and ordering a keg or two of beer. Also, if your venue will allow it, have them put any partially used bottles of the toasting champagne on the bar for the guests.

3. Consider the password. This can be used like a drink ticket/token, but less obtrusive. Perhaps you'll want to limit the number of free drinks for the entire guest list (two or three seem to be most common). Unlimited drinks for a small group of people (think bridal party, parents and a few close family and friends) are completely acceptable as well. Make the password simple and relevant to the wedding (like last names, dates, or something extra clever). Whatever you do, make it fair. Do not choose a group of people who, to a guest outside that group, seem to be chosen at random. Make the group and the reasoning behind it crystal clear. Confusion is usually not an element of an unforgettable wedding.

4. Keep an open dialogue with banquet staff. Inform the wait staff(preferably the Banquet Captain or Catering Manager) that you and your SO would like to be kept in the loop when deciding to open more bottles and tap more kegs. Timing is everything, so use your best judgment. If you seem to be running out and it's only 10pm you may need to rectify that problem, tout de suite. Is it 11:15pm and you have to be out by midnight? That's a different story-maybe you only refill wine. It's your call. Also, let the bartenders know not to open any bottles they don't have to. If you have Ketel One on the bar and no one asks for it, send it back unopened. If it's open, but unused, you will still pay for it. A little diligence goes a long way, trust me.

5. Get to know the menu and ask questions. I saved this for last because, in my opinion, it is the most important. Get cozy with the corkage fees and drink charges. The sooner the better.

Can you bring in your own alcohol? Is there a corkage fee? What percentage is the service charge? What is the general price difference between rail and top shelf liquor? What do "rail" and "top shelf" mean? These are all questions you should be asking. Get answers to them. Don't sign anything until you do. For beverages that come in bottles, but are charged by the glass-ask how many glasses count as a bottle (at our venue, it was six). It may be cheaper to buy a set number of bottles beforehand at the bottle price. This goes double for champagne. If you want an open bar, find out if they have any packages (3 and 5 hour packages seem to be the most common). Also, check to see what the price per hour is. You may save money by limiting the open bar to just one or two hours.

All in all quite a few money saving options exist when it comes to the bar. You just have to know where to look. If you are without a planner, it can be difficult. The best advice I can give you is to always remember that the vendors work for you. Not the other way around. Getting what you want can be tricky with weddings. Getting what you want at a price you can afford is trickier still.

Photo Credit: marthastewart.com

12 October, 2010

Lowering the Bar: Remixed

 From a reader:

Help, help help.  We want our reception to be memorable and we want to provide some free booze opportunities.  Everything is just so expensive.  Any tips?

Yikes!  If I had a dollar for every time I get asked this question, honey I'd be a millionaire.  I thought I might remix a little two part post I did on this before.  I think it answers your question rather precisely....

Liquid costs are sometimes the last thing on a couple's collective "wedding mind".  I'm not going to lie to you, the navigation of liquid cost is a tricky business. Luckily, I have a few tips and tricks at the ready.

1. Do your homework. Get familiar with any literature you have from your catering and/or venue candidates. Go to their websites and check out references. Talk to people who've used them.  Ask a local wedding planner for recommendations.  In other words, know as much as you can about the place you will be visiting before you get there. For instance, we searched for, like, six weeks before we committed.   It's a lot like dating. You gotta let 'em work for it awhile, before you go giving it up.

2. Ask Questions. I cannot stress this enough!  Take a list of questions with you on the hunt.  List everything you want to know, no matter how small.  Take it from me, there are no stupid questions when it comes to money.  Sample topics: Bartender fee, gratuity, tax, drink price and per bottle prices. Make sure you ask what bottles are included with your bar and how much upgrades are. For instance, Stoli may come in the bar, but it may cost $10 to upgrade to Grey Goose. Do not leave that venue until all of your questions have been answered.   

3. Consider your options and do the math. This is a bit complicated only because today's couples have so many. Once you've gathered all your info, work it out. Maybe it saves money to go with a venue that allows you to bring in your own bartender. Or perhaps it makes more sense to choose a place that has bar service and limit the "free" stuff. You'll have to decide, what's best for you.

So, after you've done all that what's next?! You've got some concrete decisions to make that will, perhaps, vary greatly depending on your choice of venue. The above three tips are general ones that can be used to effectively determine difference in cost and fees between all venues. Once the venue is chosen, the hard part begins. That's another post entirely.

Photo credit: marthastewart dot com

07 October, 2010

Happy Hallowedding...Etsy Style!

So, it's October, y'all!  My favorite month.  It's my favorite mostly because Halloween is my favorite holiday and October just happens to be the gateway to my birthday month.  If you know me or can read then you know that.  But, not only do I LOVE Halloween, I love Halloween themed weddings.

I also have a thing for Etsy.  So, on my morning cyber stroll, I stopped by to round up some lovelies fit for a spooky soiree.  I've decided to let you have a little sneaky peaky at my upcoming Hallowedding Roundup. 

1.  How freaking cute is this?!  This little ring bearer box comes to us from the fantastic, Bragging Bags.  I think this is pretty adorable, too.

2.  I'm loving this invitation design by Kindly Spoken.  The shop is full of ridiculously wonderful invites and designs.  With all the amazingly delicious papers out there, I'm sure this could be spooktacular (You might as well get ready for the cutesy Halloweeny words.  They aren't going anywhere, y'all!)

3.  This is one of my favorite things in the history of ever.  I have a huge crush on this ultra-charming Day of the Dead cake topper. This wonderful LA based design house infuses the rich Mexican and Italian cultures to create their fantastic wares. Visit DNA Creations, won't you?

4. Loving the loveliness of this luscious ensemble.  I found this little darling at Frigid Couture.  Based in Las Vegas, the design house has a really eclectic mix of skirts, dresses and fascinators.  Speaking of which, I am a huge fan of this.  Love!

5.  Oooh, these!  The gift tags come to us from Gypsy Eye Studio.  I love the fantastic Boho-Victorian vibe I'm getting!  The shop is great and I'm kind of having covetous feelings about this.  Mmmm, vintage-y looking things.

I hope I've given you enough to get your Halloween wheels a-turnin'.  I have so much more to say about Halloween and its innate awesome-ness, so stay tuned!

Photo Credit:  All photos belong to the corresponding designer.  So don't be a jerk.