Category Archives: Food & Drink

The Very Last Project…

Our Favors!

So, I was a bad blogger and in the crazy week leading up to the wedding, I must have misplaced the photos I took of our favor-filling process.  If you’ll remember, we decided to give popcorn favors!  Lucky you, though, I was smart enough to take a video, so you get to hear my voice and see me looking less than stellar (Dudes, I was tired.  Forgive me.).  So, here’s a quick peek at us putting together our favors!  Shout out to my sister and my bridesmaid Beezus for helping me with these. 

And here’s what they looked like on the tables:

DSCN0734
Our guests loved them and they were a huge hit.  It only took about 3 hours to get everything put together, so it was definitely worth the effort!

Did you or are you DIYing your favors?

(All photo/video by me, friends, or family).

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Filed under Food & Drink, Gifts

What’s for Dinner?

Or, the post about our menu cards!

I love the way these turned out.  Here’s a quick tutorial!

DIY Menu Cards
Materials:
Cardstock or decorative paper for the actual menus (I used the same shimmery gold cardstock as our table numbers and other paper products) 
Cardstock for the backing
Paper Cutter
Double-sided Tape
Rhinestones or other decorative element

First up, you’ll want to design your menu in Microsoft Word.  I sized mine to be just under the 5×7 size, so that when they were backed with cardstock, the menus were about 5×7 total.  Print two to a sheet (or more if you are doing skinny menus!)

Menus, etc 001

Next, you’ll need to cut your menus out.  When designing, I used a light gray line to give me the boundaries of each menu, so I would know where to cut and they would all be the same size!

Cut

Cut, cut, cut some more, until you have a pile of menus (240 to be exact) that look like these…

Menu Stacks

…and a piles of scraps that look like these!

Scraps

If you’re lucky, you’ll have a helper to help you cut:

Helper(Mom, seriously.  Aren’t you done with this wedding crap yet?) 

Next, you’ll need to mount your menu to your cardstock backing.  I used basic black.  Using double-sided tape or the adhesive method of your choice, again mount two menus to each sheet.

Tape

Cardstock

Then, you’ll cut, cut, cut those, until you have a stack of completed menus.  Now it’s time to embellish!  I bought this pack of rhinestones at JoAnn Fabrics.  We will also be using it for our escort cards…there were 700 rhinestones on this one sheet! 

Rhinestones

Place a rhinestone just under the “Menu” designation on each menu…

Up close

And voila!  A completed dinner menu.  I love the way they look!  The fonts I used were Chopin Script and Copperplate Gothic Light, which were both used throughout our paper products.

Finished

And here’s what guests will see when they pull them out of their napkins:

Full Menu

So, what is for dinner?

First Course:
Bibb Salad – Boston Bibb lettuce, roasted roma tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan cheese, served with Italian herbs vinaigrette

Entree:
Tuscan Chicken – one-half chicken, crisply roasted in the traditional Tuscan style with rosemary & garlic, served with French green beans & roasted potatoes

OR

Shrimp Cavattapi – gulf shrimp tossed in light pesto cream sauce, with zucchini squash & cherry tomatoes

Dessert:
Wedding Cake – Spice cake with vanilla bean pastry cream & cream cheese-white chocolate buttercream

YUM.  Can’t wait!

Did you do menus for your wedding?  Are you planning to?

*All photos by me!

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Filed under Decor, Food & Drink

Let Me Eat Cake (Again!)

Over the holiday weekend, Brad and I attended a second cake tasting.  If you’ll remember, he did not attend the first one, and I really wanted him to have the chance to experience a cake tasting for himself.

This time around, we went to Simma’s, a local bakery with a lot of history.  They’ve been named one of the top 25 bakeries in the United States, and they are definitely a staple in the wedding cake industry here.

001

Whereas the first baker I visited with is strictly a cake baker, open by appointment only, Simma’s is a full-service bakery, complete with coffee shop.  We walked in and surveyed the scene:

002 Nice and clean with some beautiful display cases housing delicious treats!

We helped ourselves to some coffee and awaited our cake samples.  When they were brought out, we were shocked at how much cake there really was:

003
(Starting from the top left and going clockwise:  Chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and buttercream frosting, genoise cake with raspberry chambord mouse and white chocolate ganache frosting, Simma’s signature cheesecake with chocolate ganache frosting, red velvet with cream cheese mousse and buttercream frosting)

Pretty much two full pieces of each kind of cake, one for each of us (except the cheesecake—I think that’s way too rich to give two pieces of!).  It was A LOT of cake and we took a huge box of the leftovers home with us.

The wedding coordinator came out to meet with us, and was able to quote us right away.  I liked that we got to see how the cake would actually look when served to our guests, but I gotta be honest and say that I was a bit put off with how they did things.  It’s sort of impersonal and not really the customer service I was expecting after my first go-round…but I guess that’s what you get when you go from “cake baker only” to full-service bakery. 

All in all, the cakes were really delicious and we will have a big decision to make!

And because you rarely ever see him on the blog, here’s the Dr. enjoying his post-cake coffee:

004 As he says, “I don’t smile for the blog, HA!”

Cake tasting round two, complete.  How many cake tastings did you go on?

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Favoring Our Guests

I follow a lot of great peeps (tweeps?!) on Twitter.  One of them is the fabulous Liz Coopersmith.  If you don’t know who she is, check out her website & blog—basically, she’s a super awesome wedding planner based out in California.  She also contributes regularly to The Broke-Ass Bride, which is a hilarious wedding-planning-on-a-budget blog created by Dana (some of you may know her as Mrs. Meatball!). 

Anyways, yesterday Liz tweeted this:

Tweet

This is SO TRUE, guys.  Think about it!  I immediately tweeted back at Liz, saying this:

Tweet 2

So what’s the point of me sharing with you our Twitter conversation?  Well, if you read my guest post on Burning River Bride yesterday (or if you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time!), you’ll know that my wedding planning mantra has been “Stay Ahead of the Game.”  Liz’s tweet was so timely, as we are starting to think about favors!

Now,  a lot of things have been said about favors.  Some people think they’re not necessary…while others?  They’re a must.  Some people like to give food, some people like to give donations to charity, and other people like to give little tchotchkes.  I’ll be honest—I know that favors are often the first things to get cut when brides are working on a budget, but I get so disappointed when I attend a wedding with no favor.  It might sound dumb, but I just love them—I think they are a nice way to thank guests for coming, and I miss them if they’re not there!  So, let’s get real for a second about them.  Those tchotchkes are cute, but guess what?!  Likely, they’re going to end up in the junk drawer…and THAT is the point of Liz’s tweet yesterday. 

Food is definitely my most favorite favor to receive—and the ones that your guests will appreciate the most, too, me thinks.  Some of the most memorable favors I’ve gotten have been beautifully wrapped and equally delicious cookies & candies. Naturally, we’re leaning towards food as a favor, since we’re such big foodies as it is.  I like charity donations as well, but to me, no matter how noble the cause, they’re not as tangible as giving your guests a sweet treat to eat on their way home. 

Here’s some ideas I’ve found lately that I absolutely LOVE:

popcorn
(Source)

Popcorn!  One of mine and Dr. Groomy’s favorite foods.  I am HEAVILY leaning towards doing cellophane bags of popcorn tied with a bow as our favor.  We LOVE this stuff and eat it at least three times a week.

truffles  (Source)

Truffles.  Always a great idea, and there are so many cute ways to package them!

local products
(Source)

Local or homemade products…think jams and jellies, honeys, homemade dill pickles, and other local favorites. 

If you want to do a charity donation, that’s an incredible and giving idea.  Let me be clear: I think charitable donations are AWESOME.  That being said, not everyone on your guest list is going to be so into them.  May I suggest tying a tag with information about the donation to a sweet treat your guests can also enjoy?  For example, these Truffles for a Cause are adorable!

truffles 2 
(Source, via TrufflesforaCause.com)

So…those are my thoughts on favors.  Thanks to Liz for sparking a great blog topic!  I’ll keep you posted as to what we decide to do, but in the meantime:

What are your thoughts on favors?

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Filed under Food & Drink, Gifts

Let Me Eat Cake!

So, I just got back from my first cake tasting, and aside from the fact that I have a giant sugar hangover, I had an awesome time!

Little known secret about Dr. Groomy:  He hates him some sweets.  Yes people, the man does not like chocolate.  Or cake.  Or ANY of that. 

Not-so-secret secret about me:  I love me some sweets.  And my taste buds have a special affinity  for wedding cake.  People, I have run the gamut of wedding cakes at various weddings and I’m just going to go ahead and say it:  I will judge a wedding by its cake.*  Not the way it looks, necessarily,  but definitely the way it tastes.  In order to win me over and have me say your wedding was awesome-sauce, the cake must be DELISH, peeps…DE. LISH. 

[As an additional side note:  This is dumb, but I get really annoyed when I see couples cutting the cake “incorrectly.”  Take note, brides:  YOUR hand should not be separated from the knife.  According to various cake traditions and superstitions, this is very bad luck.  The bride should always hold the knife, with the groom’s hand over hers.  When I see the groom cutting the cake, me no likey!  I ALWAYS notice this in wedding photos.  What can I say?  I told you I am serious about this wedding cake business!]

All that being said, now that it’s come to the time where we need to nail down a baker, I am MORE than happy to take the reigns on this task.  And take those reigns I did!  I made an appointment with a local bakery that caters pretty strictly to just the wedding crowd.  My bridesmaid KDoc accompanied me, and we had a blast! We met with the baker, Karen of The Cake Lady, discussed options, looked through photographs, laughed, drank coffee, and of course, ate cake!  Karen was very knowledgeable and I felt right at home with her.  And with cakes like these, I knew we were in good hands!

Cake 2    Cake 3

Cake 4   Cake 5
(Source for all cake photos)

We tried the following:

001  (Photo by me)
From left to right, top row:  chocolate ganache, chocolate cake, raspberry preserves, lavender cake, lemon curd
From left to right, bottom row:  red velvet cake, white chocolate cream cheese buttercream, spice cake, vanilla bean pastry cream, vanilla cake
And that white blob in the middle is The Cake Lady’s signature vanilla buttercream

All I have to say is:  TO. DIE. FOR.  The cakes were so good and the fillings and frostings?  Fantastic!  I am very particular about my buttercream, and I am happy to say that this stuff was delightful.  The perfect amount of sweetness and buttery goodness.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

My favorite combinations were the spice cake (bottom row, middle) paired with the vanilla bean pastry cream, and the lavender cake (top row, right) paired with the lemon curd.  As The Bowie Bride would say, it was AMAZEballs in my mouth. 

In terms of cake styles, I found myself consistently drawn to cakes that had elements like this one:

Cake 1
(Source)

I love the mostly plain cake paired with the fondant ribbon and the gumpaste bows.  Classic and elegant, me thinks.  Karen sketched out an idea for our cake, which I will reveal to you all if we end up booking her.  She also sent me home with the rest of our samples, so that Dr. Groomy could have a taste of them too!  She’ll be sending me a quote in the next few days, so let’s all cross our fingers that the price is right.

And for those of you who were worried (ha, right):  I’ve got another cake tasting with a different baker  lined up for Dr. Groomy to attend.  I think he has to experience that at least one time, right?

Are you a big wedding cake fan?  Tell me about your bakers and cakes!

*Ok seriously, I am not really going to get all judgey judgey about your wedding if you have a not-s0-good cake.  But I DO love wedding cake and it’s the weddings that had fab cake that I always remember!

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Showering Jill with Love

First, my apologies on the lack of posting thus far this week.  Normally, I like to write and schedule my posts on my lunch hour, but this week I have barely taken a lunch hour due to some stressful situations at work.  Things have slowed down a bit now, thankfully!! 

This weekend, Dr. Groomy and I headed to Chicago to visit some friends of ours who are also getting married this year.  The reason for our trip was two-fold, however—Jill, one half of the couple we went to visit, was having her bridal shower!  It was really fun to attend and so I thought I would share some pics (with her permission, of course!).

The shower was held at Marcello’s Father & Son, in Lincoln Park, and was hosted by the groom’s sisters, mother, and aunt.  It was a great location—we were in a little sunroom that was perfectly appointed for a party like this, with grapevines and white Christmas lights tastefully decorating the room.  The set-up was gorgeous as well, with white tablecloths and napkins, and beautiful centerpieces that were hand-made by the groom’s sister!

003 

We started the shower with some mingling and a glass of wine, and then sat down to lunch.

006  Place setting.  Our favor was candied nuts in a little bag, with tag that had our names on it to act as a placecard.

Lunch was an absolutely delicious family-style Italian meal. 

012  Minestrone soup to start…

013
Salad and asparagus as sides…

014  And a chicken dish as the main course.

Everything was delicious…and then, there was cake!

007  Yum!

After we had cake and coffee, it was time for gifts.

005

Jill got some really cool items, and I got some great ideas for our own registry!  After that, the shower wrapped up while we all sat around and visited some more.  All in all, it was a very fun time.  Here I am with the bride:

010  Jill on the left, me on the right (duh).

Congratulations, Jill and Noah!  Dr. Groomy and I are so excited to celebrate with you at your wedding in June. 

Have you had the pleasure of attending any bridal showers lately?

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Filed under Decor, Food & Drink, Just For Fun, Shower

Rehearsal Dinner: Fiesta!

If you’re here for a Fitness Friday post, I am sorry to disappoint!  Unfortunately, the person who does my fit evals no longer works at my gym—something I just found out last night.  So, I have to make an appointment with a new guy to do an eval and I won’t be able to get in until next week.  In the meantime, however,  I wanted to talk a little more about our rehearsal dinner.

As a reminder, my “goal” for wedding planning is to have absolutely nothing to do during wedding week, ala Miss Star on Weddingbee.  As such, I have been trying to tackle everything and anything I can ahead of time, to continue to stay ahead of the game.  Since we booked our rehearsal dinner last week, I decided why not go ahead and plan the food, decor, and invitations right away, so that it’s all out of the way and done…so this week, I’ve been doing just that!

When we were exploring different options for our dinner, one idea we tossed around was to hold the dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  Dr. Groomy is WELL KNOWN among our friends and family for his love of insanely spicy foods (I swear, he has no taste buds), so Mexican is one of his favorite meals to eat out.  We ended up nixing the idea, as we were afraid that authentic Mexican would not bode well for some of our guests.  When we booked our dinner at Flannery’s, though, we were delighted to see that they had an option for a taco bar!  Perfect…everybody loves tacos, and guests can customize them how they like.  Once we decided that, it was very easy to pick out a “theme” for the dinner:  we’re having a fiesta!

I was very inspired by this rehearsal dinner seen on Style Me Pretty.  Here in Milwaukee, we are very lucky to have Broadway Paper, a lovely paper and stationery store in town.  I immediately hopped over there to get my creative juices flowing, and ended up picking a color palette we both really love!  Then, I set about designing invites and other stationery to go with the theme.  Let’s start with the invites first, shall we?

I fell in love with long envelopes and decided they would be perfect for these invites:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 006
(Front)

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 008
(Back)

I created a wrap around label thanks to some help via Twitter from these lovely ladies.  Em is even going to send me some of her labels to use—thanks girl!  Close-up:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 007

Let’s open it up!

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 010 I am seriously in love with this color combo—it’s like an aqua and a deep red.  Perfect for a Mexican fiesta, I think!  And here’s the actual invite:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 012

You may notice the wording is a bit different from most rehearsal dinner invites.  Well, we did this on purpose.  Since we are hosting the dinner, it felt funny to have the invite read as though we were honoring ourselves (Example of more traditional wording:  “Please join us at a rehearsal dinner honoring Bride & Groom.”).  Instead, we decided we wanted to use this opportunity to really thank—and honor—our family and friends.  We are keeping the guest list small for this party on purpose—just our immediate families & wedding party (and anyone else who is involved with the wedding, like readers and gift attendants)—because  we really want to take this time to celebrate and appreciate THEM.

You may also recognize the monogram and fonts I used:  yep, they’re from our Save-the-Date!  What can I say, I love the motif!

[Random side note:  I am thinking about rounding the corners of the invites.  What do you guys think?  Can anyone give a recommendation for a good corner-rounder?]

Because we will be giving out our gifts to the wedding party and family at this event, I decided to make a banner for the gift table.  I still need to string it with ribbon, but the letters look like this:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 003 

Cute, no?  I also read somewhere that to make rehearsal run more smoothly, it’s a great idea to have nametags for everyone…so your officiant or coordinator knows who everyone is and can better run the rehearsal.  Most people at this event will know each other, but I still decided to make nametags so people like my grandparents can get to know our friends.  Here’s what they’ll look like (I just used my mom’s and dad’s for example!):

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 005

I still have to laminate them and attach a pin to the back, but at least you get the idea!

And here’s the whole shebang thus far, all together:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 013

I am so excited—this project has been really fun so far and it has brought a lot of joy back in to my wedding planning.  Not that I wasn’t enjoying it, of course, but I have been feeling really stressed about other parts—namely registering and our invites for the actual wedding.  These projects and planning this dinner have been a welcome change!  I have a lot more tricks up my sleeve for this party, including cute table decor (hot sauce bottles, anyone?!), menu tents for each table, and a super awesome idea for a cheap and easy—yet totally awesome—favor.  Stay tuned!

Are you having a themed rehearsal dinner?  What are you doing for invitations, decorations, and the like?

*All photos by me!

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Filed under Decor, Food & Drink, Rehearsal, Stationery