Honeymoon Hotels

Friday, February 26, 2010

Yesterday I was looking at my wedding checklist, provided by my wedding coordinator. I seem to be on schedule with most of the items that are listed for the 4 month out mark: Order Stationary Components, check, Reserve Florist, check, Reserve Wedding Day Transportation, check, Finalize Registry, check, Order Favors, check, , Review the Budget, (yuck) check. One item was still left for January/February 2010 and that was this:

REMINDER: B & G, all honeymoon arrangements need to be finalized!!

That is a fun one! So after I got home from work, I got busy so that I could put a big fat checkmark next to it. Without further ado…I just booked our hotels for our honeymoon!!! California, here we come.

In case you are wondering why that hotel(s) has a plural at the end of it, let me explain. I couldn’t pick just one, so we will be moving around a little bit during our week long honeymoon. We are staying two nights in San Francisco, two nights in Calistoga and two nights in Napa. I know, I know, it is not the typical tropical honeymoon, but that just isn’t us. So instead, we will get a little city life, a good amount of wine country and many many bottles of wine.

All of my hotel selections came from online searches, so I hope that none of these are flops. I had a horrible experience a few years back when I travelled to Italy. I booked all my hotels through a travel site (to remain nameless) and when I got to Venice, the hotel I had booked and had paid for had been closed for months. No one knew how it was even possible to get a reservation at that hotel since no one had been inside since they shut. So there I was, in a foreign country dragging my bags through Venice trying to find a phone to call the US 800 number to change my reservations.

Live and learn. For our trip, I booked all the reservations through the property websites and I will be calling to confirm with a person before we go. Here is where we will be spending the first week of our marriage…..

Hotel Union Square - San Francisco



Pink Mansion Bed & Breakfast - Calistoga



Napa River Inn - Napa


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The most interesting thing that I found when booking these hotels was that each one of them listed “luxurious bathrobes” as an amenity. I don’t know that I have ever been to a hotel that had luxurious bathrobes in the rooms. This is going to be a big splurge. The best part will be the pink bathrobes at the Pink Mansion Bed & Breakfast. Evan might look a little something like this…

No Knives Allowed

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

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When we first started planning our dream wedding, Evan and I both agreed that we did not want a seated dinner service. The formality of an assigned seated affair where dinner is served by waiters in white gloves just isn’t us. We also agreed that we didn’t like the idea of a buffet style dinner. We are both great table fillers since we are very social, so we have been to many a wedding where we were sat at the mixed table which is always last to be invited to the buffet line. So if we don’t want a waiter served dinner and we don’t want a buffet where does that leave us? Unfortunately, it leaves us in a gray area.

We want there to be food (obviously), and we want the food to be good, but we don’t want the food to be the focus of the event. This alternative request is causing quite a question mark with many of the caterers that we have met with so far. They are calling our request a “cocktail-style” reception. I am also being told that this type of reception is becoming more and more popular. Where we are getting stuck is that every caterer we met with has a different idea of how to manage the catering for this type of event. The food options that are being presented just wouldn’t work for this type of event. Carving stations, chicken, steak or pasta dishes just aren't going to cut it. What I have come to learn in many meetings trying to explain my vision is that we do not want any food that must be eaten sitting. If we are keeping people moving, some people will be eating while standing, so that means NO KNIVES!

How I envision the food service is: waiters with trays of mini-bites strolling for at least the first hour of the reception and 3 stationary tables of food that can be eaten while standing throughout the reception space. This way people will have to walk through the space in order to find all the food options and be more adept to mingle with each other. We will have a mixture of high-boy tables and seated tables in order to encourage guests to keep moving and mingling. We will not have as many seats set up as there are guests so that everyone will not be tempted to sit down. There will be no assigned tables (which is kind of sad, since table numbers are so fun to DIY). This could be great or it could totally backfire.

The food selection is particularly important to ensure the success of this style of reception. We need items that can be eaten while standing, items that are savory and satisfying (since they are replacing dinner) and a variety of items so that there is something for everyone. We are coming upon our final catering meeting and some decisions are going to have to be made. Here are some of the options we have and the pros and cons of how they will work for our “cocktail style” reception.
Mini Crab Cakes - crab cakes are a must for this Marylander, easy to eat in one bite and perfect for passing


Steak Bites on a Skewer - could work if the bites are small enough, no knife needed but you still have steak!

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Mushroom Tartlet - a good vegetarian option and still savory

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Tomato Soup Shots with Grilled Cheese Minis -could be really cute if done well, but is tomato soup could be too cozy for a summer wedding

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Spring Rolls - could be a fresh and savory addition, might need a knife for these unless they are pre-cut

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Bruschetta - a personal favorite of mine, but could get messy

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Mini Cocktail Meatballs - another savory option, could be messy, but could be nice on a skewer

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Blue Cheese Stuffed Grapes - definitely yummy, but not too savory


Anyone else getting hungry?

Like Webster for Flowers

Monday, February 22, 2010

Flowers are a crucial part of wedding decor, but I am just no good at picking (pun intended). I am certain that I want floral centerpieces, but after that, I have no idea what I want. I have never had a favorite flower or a flower I didn’t like. I have no strong feelings about them either way. This proves to make deciding on flowers a really big challenge. I have scoured the internet to find the perfect centerpieces for our tables and I keep coming up with nothing.

We have met with (and paid a deposit to) a florist who seemed really willing to work with us. During our first meeting, she made some recommendations that I was really happy about. But a few weeks after our meeting, I wasn’t sure that I liked the idea that we chose. She said we had plenty of time to alter the plans, that this was a good starting point and I can agree with that.

I decided that maybe if I look further in the “meaning” of different flowers, the definitions would help me pick which could work for our wedding. So I searched the internet and found this site that had definitions of popular wedding flowers. I was very surprised by what I found.

Current Picks recommended by my florist:

Hydrangea: Vanity, Frigidity
Lily Orange: Hatred, Disdain, Wealth, Pride
White Lily: Majesty and Purity
Orange Rose: Enthusiasm, Desire
White Rose: Charm, Silence, Reverence, Humility, Innocence

My goodness. The flowers that we chose to start with have some pretty ugly definitions. Vanity, Hatred, Disdain. This is no good. I know that the most wedding guests are not looking too far into the centerpieces for symbolism, but my goodness.

Here are some other flowers that are pretty (with way better meanings):

Hibiscus: Delicate beauty
Orchid: Magnificence, Love, Beauty, Refinement
Peony: Healing, Live, Happy Marriage
Tulip: Love, Symbol of the perfect lover

Now that I understand the “meaning” behind these popular wedding flowers, I fear that I am in the same place that I started. I know there are other factors that could help in deciding such as, price, seasonality and color availability. I guess I am back to the drawing board.

I'm with the Band

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Some bride’s are spoiled, but I am like 10 week old onion dip in the back of the refrigerator with a half eaten potato chip still in it. What I mean by this is, some days I look at our wedding planning spreadsheet and think to myself, “How did we get this lucky?” We not only will be surrounded by friends and family on our big day, many many elements of our day are being contributed by said friends and family. I know it sounds snobby, but we are associated with some amazingly talented people.

The music for our reception is just one of the amazing things that are being provided by family members. Evan has musicians on his side and even before we were engaged we used to talk about how we wanted his cousins’ band to play at our wedding. Even though they are not performing together on a regular basis these days, they agreed to stage a reunion show at our wedding!

We have asked the band, Potato Moon (formerly known as the Lonely Jones), to play an hour set after the “cocktail hour”. As fans of the band, we want them to play their original music and as wedding customers we think some cover songs thrown in would get everyone movin’ and shakin’. They have played weddings before, so we pretty much want to let them do what they do. At this point, we need to provide are some “must-have” songs to put on the set list. This is going to be more difficult than we originally thought because we love ALL their songs. Fortunately, Evan is on music detail, so he has to make the tough decisions.

Here are two videos, one live performance and one home-movie-style music video. You will know what I mean, when I say they are gooooood.

Any recommendations on must have wedding songs?

Hey Yeah, Live


Old Jones Road

Accessorizing the Ladies

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Since I have been spending a lot of time thinking a lot about the styling of our wedding party, I figured I would continue my search for the perfect bridesmaid look by picking out accessories. I don’t consider myself an expert on accessories, but I do know that they can make or break an outfit. Necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, pendants, shoes, bags, scarves…the list goes on. How much is too much or too little?

For the moment, I am leaning towards gold accessories, earrings and shoes to start with. I think the gold accent will look nice with the teal/turquoise color of the bridesmaid dresses. I like a dangling earring, but studs look nice when hair is pulled back. I am planning to let my girls decide how they want to wear their hair, so we may have to have a few options and make final decisions last minute. Should everyone wear the same earrings or can they be different? This is a decision I think I will have to make on my own. My lovely ladies are much too sweet to give a real opinion. They love everything! I like a delicate earring. Not anything too heavy that will be uncomfortable or distracting.

Some of my favorite Internet finds came from Banana Republic, Athropologie and on Etsy.

Hoop Golden Shadow Swarovski Crystal Earrings
$27.00 - Etsy

Coin Earrings
$29.50 – Banana Republic

Room To-Grow Earrings
$32.00 – Anthropologie

Baca Hoops
$28.00 – Anthropologie

Gum Paste Earrings
$24.00 - Anthropologie

Did you pick out jewelry for your girls, or did you have them accessorize themselves?

Things to Do: Go to Greektown

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Greektown is a small part of Downtown Detroit with BIG personality. The Greektown casinos are your basic on land casinos. Free drinks while you are gambling, slot machines, card tables, buffets and more. It’s not Vegas, but if you are a gambler, it will work just fine. The restaurants in Greektown are really the hotspots. We went to Pegasus during our last trip planning trip and had a blast. We sat at the bar and enjoyed some house wine and some flaming cheese!
Photo by me
There are so many great spots it is sometimes hard to choose. I wish I could personally review them all, but our last trip was a quick one, so we will have to do with some internet reviews from Metromix Detroit.

New Parthenon – This old-school Greek-themed restaurant is open until 3 a.m. and attracts a big after-bar crowd throughout the week. The decor is 100% Greek for those who enjoy surroundings that match their meal. The flaming cheese is always a hit with groups and families

Pizza Papalis – Michigan-based pizza chain takes a stab at bringing Chicago-style pies to the Great Lakes State and does it well. The first Pizza Papalis opened in 1986 in the Greektown area of Detroit and now offers the same great pizza at nine locations statewide. The menu also features lasagna, chicken wings, salads and desserts.

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Astoria Pastry Shop - The original Astoria Pastry Shop opened in the Greektown district of Detroit more than 30 years ago. Since then it has been serving some of the richest, European desserts to city residents, and more recently many guests of the Greektown casino. Have your pastries boxed to enjoy at home or take pleasure in the charming surroundings and enjoy your pastry with a gourmet cappuccino in the bakery's delightful cafe.

Runway to Bridesmaid

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Not only had my wedding dress come to be questioned at Fashion Week, my bridesmaid dress decision was starting to flutter in the back of my mind. There were so many amazing dresses walking down that runway, I kept thinking to myself, “Could that be a bridesmaid dress? Would that look good on the girls? Should I wear that to the rehearsal dinner? Would that one look good in white or orange or teal?” Sometimes it is tough being the sister of the designer. I don’t want to be greedy or difficult, but if there was ever a time to be demanding, my wedding would be it. I am seriously torturing myself with the possibilities.

This dress was a WOW when it walked out. It is very similar to one of the bridesmaid dresses I already chose from a previous collection with the obvious added fabric bundle on the side for an added style factor. It is a beautiful dress, but would this bundle drive the girls crazy when they were trying to let loose to Love Shack?

This one strap dress is also very stunning. I love it in this navy color, even though that would never work for my summer wedding. This is the Fall collection after all. I could totally see myself wearing this dress to a fancy dinner in Napa on our honeymoon.

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My final favorite for possible bridesmaid dress was this little flouncy number. Again, love it in the blue and love it with my flounce wedding shoes. I think this dress would look fabulous on the girls, but I don’t know if it would be a bit much. My mother always warns, “Don’t make them look too good, it will distract from the beauty of the bride.” I want my girls to look their best, but the flounces might be distracting.

Although it is fun to fantasize, I think I will stick with the original picks for the girls. This dress from the Spring 2009 collection in the teal/turquoise color and the strapless side gathered dress in the same color. The girls will look beautiful no matter what, but it is fun to see the dresses come from runway to wedding aisle.

For the Love of Bubbly

Monday, February 15, 2010

When planning our special day, there were a few things that we were certain we wanted to splurge on. One of those things was a full service bar. Both Evan and I like to drink fancy drinks and many of our guests are famous for antics that occurred during a full service bar event. I don’t want anyone to get too crazy, but I do want to encourage people to loosen up and mingle. From my experience, the best way to do that is to POUR THE DRINKS!

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A full service bar was never a decision. Where I struggle is, deciding what to do about a Champagne toast? I have been to so many weddings where half full bottles of Champagne sit on the tables after the toast. I have seen full glasses get poured down the drain when not all the guests take a glass during the beverage pass before the toast. This absolutely breaks my heart and must be a big drain on the budget to pour out such deliciousness. This isn’t Scotch. You can not re-cork it!


I think part of the reason I feel so strongly about the waste of the Champagne toast is because of my love for the bubbly stuff. I don’t discriminate when it comes to sparkling drinks. Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Prosecco, I love it all. And I don’t need a special occasion to drink it. I’ll order it as a splurge when we are out, I’ll have it in a mimosa with a cold cereal breakfast or pop a bottle in celebration of Thursday. I fear that I am starting to sound like a lush, but really I just prefer Champagne as my drink of choice over a beer or a mixed drink. Some people splurge on fancy wines, imported beers or aged scotch, and I love Champagne. It is not a crime!

One idea that I am toying with is using a Champagne cocktail as a signature drink that would be passed during the cocktail hour. This way, I can incorporate my favorite beverage without fearing that it will go to waste. Guests can raise what ever glass they happen to have in their hand during the toasts and I will still be sure that we have enough Champagne on hand if any of my guests share the same love of the Bubbles as I do. There are a million and a half recipes for Champagne cocktails, but I’d like to narrow them down to “pink” drinks. Why, you ask? No good reason, I just think a pink cocktail is pretty and it will be a nice accent to the orange d├ęcor of the reception.

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Here are a few of the top contenders:


Orange/Pomegranate
1 shot Grand Marnier
1 shot pomegranate juice
Champagne or sparkling wine

Grenadine
2 shots orange juice
Dash of grenadine
Champagne or sparkling wine

Chambord
1 shot glass Chambord (French raspberry flavored liqueur)
1 tsp sugar
Champagne or sparkling wine

Fashion Week Tried to Kill Me

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New York Fashion week is a dangerous place for a bride to be. I am usually a very decisive person and rarely second guess decision I have made quickly. I thought I had the whole female side of the bridal party taken care of. I picked out the bridesmaid dresses without effort during the last visit to New York. I knew the dress that would inspire my wedding dress from the moment I saw it in Bride Magazine. All of these things were certain, until I saw this…

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It was sitting in a lump on the cutting table in my brother’s studio the night before his fashion week show at Bryant Park. I saw this pink mass of a dress just in a pile and thought to myself, I bet this one is an incredible piece. Then they unfolded it and hung in on a hanger. Oh my goodness! My mother said, “You should get married in that.” Then my brother’s head designer and long time friend, Sam, said “I’m getting married in it.” Sam, this might be war.

After the quick visit to the studio, we went to the hotel and went to sleep. I didn’t dream about the dress. I really didn’t think about it at all. I was excited for the show. Excited to see all the clothes come to life on the runway.

The day of the runway show is always a whirlwind. We got up, wandered around the city and then got dressed to go early to hang out backstage. All the clothes are lined up around the perimeter of the backstage area and everything looks beautiful on the hangers, but there is still a lot of anticipation to see the clothes on the girls. The pink dress was getting a lot of interest from the photogs, but I didn’t pay much attention as photos are snapping all over backstage as the celebs arrive. It wasn’t until that moment that it came down the runway that I was certain I had to make a plea for it. I heard Mike Meyers from Wayne’s World whisper in my ear, “it will be mine, oh yes, it will me mine.” Here is one more photo to oogle….

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This dress is not a realistic option for a wedding dress. First of all, it is really heavy and difficult to walk in. The model who wore it in the show, Sessilee Lopez, is a super famous couture runway model and even she had a tough time getting down the runway and back in this monster of a dress. Second, there would be no way that I would be able to move in this dress other than down the aisle and back, meaning it would probably take more hours to make the dress then I would actually be wearing it. I would definitely need a second party dress to switch into immediately after the ceremony. And finally, this is a very difficult and time consuming dress to make. Sam already said he wasn’t making it again, so just forget that I ever saw it. That would mean that either I/my brother would have to force him, or I would just have to wear the pink one. This dress will definitely be the death of me.

Would it be totally insane to consider just wearing it as is?

Double Dress Dilemma

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I know it sounds extravagant, but I am seriously considering having two wedding dresses. Having two dresses may be something often seen on Bridezillas, but I just can’t help wanting a formal dress and a party dress.

I am 100% wearing a long dress for my ceremony and for pictures. I must have the traditional long white dress. What I am still debating, is having another short party dress (still white) to change in to in the middle of the reception. This poses a lot of extra things to coordinate. At what point during the reception do you make the change? Who is responsible to bringing the party dress to the reception site? Who is responsible for bringing the long dress back from the reception site? We aren’t having a seated dinner, so do I change right after the ceremony, after the cake cutting or after the first dance?

I have come across some really adorable short wedding dresses, or as I like to call them, wedding cocktail attire. These are not helping. I just love the short sweet styles of Amsale, Oscar De La Renta and Casablanca Bridal.

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I am a very spoiled Bride and I know this. Not many people get to have a wedding dress custom made for them by their little brother who happens to be an up and coming fashion designer. For this reason, I wonder if I am getting a little greedy wanting to have two dresses. I have gone back and forth on this decision a number of times, so I’ve decided to list the pros and cons of having two dresses in order to make a final decision. Also, I need to figure this out with enough time to have said little brother make me another dress. And to answer the question that I’m sure you are thinking, “No I don’t care if he minds making two dresses, he is my little brother and he has to do what I tell him or I will put him in a headlock.”

Pros to having two dresses:
:) You don’t have to decide on long vs. short, you can have both!
:) It is easier to dance all night in a party dress.
:) A costume change can be impressive to the guests.

Cons to having two dresses:
:( You have to take time away from the party to change.
:( It might not seem like enough time in the formal dress if the ceremony is short.
:( I will have to designate someone to help me change and make sure the long dress gets home safely.

Ok, ok, so this little exercise hasn’t lead to a conclusive decision on whether I should have one or two dresses. Did you think about more than one dress? How did you decide?