Saturday, July 31, 2010

High Profile Step

It is a BIG weekend in Rhineback, NY, Chelsea Clinton (daughter of former president Bill Clinton and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ) is to marry her long time boyfriend Marc Mezinsky. 

This wedding has been the talk of the press for weeks, and is now finally here.  I can’t wait to see the photos from this one, I feel like we have watched Chelsea grow up and are part of the family.  So I began wondering about other high profile weddings and which ones I love.

A wedding that can NOT be left out when thinking of high profile weddings or notable weddings is that of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and (then Senator) John F. Kennedy.  There were over 800 guests at the September 12, 1953 nuptials.  Of course there was also that classic stunning Jackie O style.


When talking about Kennedy weddings, the wedding of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette must be mentioned.  The wedding was small (40 guests) yet elegant.  The September 21, 1996 wedding was held on Cumberland Island, Georgia.


John F. Kennedy Jr wedding

Sticking with presidential weddings, was the marriage of Jenna Bush to Henry Hager on the sprawling 1, 600 acre Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas.  Jenna was the 1st presidential daughter to marry in 16 years while her father was still seated.

Jenna Bush Wedding

As for non-presidential, yet still note worthy weddings:

Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, the bride still managed to get her iconic style into the wedding.

Gwen and Gavin wedding 

Another favorite stylish bride, Christina Aguilera (to Jordan Bratman), held a 3 day long wedding extravaganza that had to make my list.

Christina Aguilera Wedding

Congratulations to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezinsky!  Here’s to many years of wedded bliss! 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Showering Step

So you have either stepped into the role of bridesmaid or maid of honor, now what?  Put your party planner hat on because there is much to do.  You have a bridal shower and bachelorette party to plan, as well as any wedding duties the bride has for you. 


Make sure you consult with the bride as to when would be the best time for her shower (she has a lot going on, there is a little thing called wedding planning that she is in the process of).  Once you know when you will be holding the shower, weather it be 2 weeks before the wedding or 2 months, invitations should go out a month prior.  Be sure to ask what other showers are going to be held for your bride-to-be, you’ll want to have a different theme and try to keep separate guest lists (although there will be some over lap).  You also want to make sure that you and the other bridesmaids have discussed a budget and what everyone will be responsible for.

Once you have your date and venue, its theme picking time.  A traditional bridal shower normally follows the early afternoon tea party theme, think cucumber sandwiches, and crumpets.  But it is okay to think outside the box, really take in to consideration the guest of honor.  Some fun ideas:

1.  A Honeymoon theme: decorate towards the destination, use maps from their planned trip, music, food, let guests know to bring gifts that the couple will use on their honeymoon (great gift ideas would be a couples massage at the resort or day trip passes) you can still sneak in those when the sun goes down items.


2.  A Cooking Class: is your bride-to-be a real foodie or perhaps she has a thing or two to learn about cooking, either way this could be the theme for her, have guests bring a family recipe or favorite dish and create a bridal cookbook for the happy couple, gifts can range from kitchen/baking items to more classes, or steak of the month clubs.


3.  Charity Theme: perhaps your couple has lived together and has everything, or they’re very philanthropic, guests can bring food, clothing, or cash to donate to the brides favorite charity in lieu of gifts.

Whatever theme you choose make sure it speaks to the bride-to-be and not the party you would like.  Keep the bride-to-be in the loop but do NOT add to her chaotic schedule.  The more bridesmaids or friends you can get to help the better, just make sure everyone has a specific task.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Friendship Step


You’re best girlfriend has just gotten engaged, duly noted by the shiny piece of hardware she is now sporting on her left ring finger, and waving excitedly in your face.  She now utters those words you knew had to be coming… “Will you be my bridesmaid?”.  You of course respond with an immediate “yes” but what exactly does this mean?

The tradition of the bridesmaid was started to ward off evil spirits, in the time of the Roman Empire.  Bridesmaids were dressed similar to the bride (and likewise the groomsmen akin to the groom) as to keep evil spirits from being able to easily identify the happy couple.  Times have changed though and many brides choose to have their back-up dressed much differently.  The primary role of today’s bridesmaid is to be that shoulder to lean on during the planning process, and be a stress detourant. 

Things you should expect once you have taken on this role:

1.  D.I.Y. guru- this may mean giving up Friday nights to stuff envelopes or a Saturday at the beach to hand make felt flowers for all the wedding flowers.  Put in your glue-gun time and do it with a smile, remember you may someday need her help at your own wedding.

2.  Personal Shopper- you may be loading up your car on your already too short lunch break with a 100 mason jars, which you happily had to drive across town to pick up.  It also means scouting out bridesmaid dresses (use this to your advantage, email the bride that great J. Crew dress you found before she finds a more impractical dress) and picking up any other wedding necessities the bride may need.

3.  Party Planner- get things rolling, there is after all the shower and the bachelorette party to plan, team up with the maid of honor and get the process rolling, don’t leave details until the last minute.

Remember to do everything with a smile, yes you can voice your opinion (when it is asked for), and know the bride asked you because you are important to her.

Things one should not do as a bridesmaid: being a bossy bridesmaid (this is NOT your wedding and it is not your way or the highway), a Debbie downer (if you do not want to be part of the wedding politely decline when asked, don’t sulk your way through), the jealous bridesmaid (your day will come, but this is not it), you are there (I repeat) to make the brides life easier NOT add to the stress.

“ Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Historical Step

So right down the street form me is this little museum that you may have heard of, the Chicago History Museum.  I have been here for over 3 months and until today had still not visited. (Crazy since it is just blocks away)  Another little known fact about the museum is that it is free on Monday’s.  Finding myself with little to do today I decided to take advantage of “free Monday” and check out the “I Do, Chicago Ties the Knot” exhibit.  I am so glad that I went and took in this little gem.


From May 22, 2010 until January 3, 2011 the history museum is featuring the “I Do, Chicago Ties the Knot” exhibit.  Unfortunately I have no photos I can share, as you can not take pictures in the exhibit, but I can tell you about all the beautiful things I saw and learned.

One of the first things I saw was 3 beautiful fans from the 1800’s.  Flirting in those days was something far different then it is today.  Women actually used fans to convey messages; by simply placing a tip of the finger on the fan a woman was saying she wanted to speak with a gentlemen, however if she placed the fan by her left ear it meant that she wanted that man to go away.  I may have to invest in a fan and see if this still works.

There were so many beautiful gowns, bridesmaids dresses, and other wedding attire.  It just amazes me the detail put into these gowns, the construction is just awe inspiring.  If you get a chance to go check it out be sure to look for my three favorite gowns:

1.  A stunning gown from 1916, worn by Katherine Keith.  The gown is made of  silk satin, lace, chiffon, ribbon and flowers.  When I think wedding dresses this is what I envision.  A wide skirt supported by a boning structure (known as the pannier), a square (just low enough) neckline, a pointed waistline and pleated embellishment.  This gown just screams wedding  other then its beige coloring.

2.  OMG, how incredible this 1927 dress worn by Mary Louise Wright is.  This one will certainly grab your attention upon entering the room, just for its rich blue color.  The flapper style dress was made of delicate silk crepe with glass beads and a heavy silk embroidery.  The heavy embroidery helped to weigh down the crepe so that it did not blow around. 

3.  This final dress I want to bring to your attention, I could not take my eyes off of.  If planning my own wedding I would very much want a dress mirroring this amazing piece.  My wedding gown twin, was worn by Louise de Marigny Dewey in 1934, in what was said to be “THE social event of the year”.  A gorgeous silk satin, that looked like butter, with lace, rhinestone and pearl accents.  This dress reminds me of old Hollywood, with its long sweeping train and bias cut.  One had to feel nothing but glamorous in this gown!

Throughout the exhibit they also had “wedding songs” of today and yesterday playing. 

I was reminded how much I love this song and how much it speaks to what a wedding is all about.

If you can, go see this in person, you have until January 3, so there is still plenty of time.  This is definitely one that should be experienced for anyone planning on getting married or just has a love for fashion.  Grab your bridesmaids and go get inspired!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Leaping Step

“May you never steal, lie, or cheat, but if you must steal, then steal away my sorrows, and if you must lie, lie with me all the nights of my life, and if you must cheat, then please cheat death because I couldn't live a day without you. Cheers!” ~Bride

What a touching sentiment!  I just finished watching Leap Year staring Amy Adams and (the new love of my life) Matthew Goode.  The movie is riddled with great quotes and beautiful scenery (and I mean Ireland, not the good looks of Goode).  If you have not see this one, pop up some popcorn, grab some girlfriends and get ready to want to plan a trip to Ireland (thanks to Leap Year and P.S. I Love You, Ireland is high on the places to go)

“When my 60 seconds came around I realized I had everything I ever wanted... but nothing I really needed and I think what I need is here and I came all this way to see if you maybe think so too. If you do, well... I don't really have plans past that, which is new for me. So, Declan O'Callhan, and I should probably learn your middle name, here is my proposal; I propose we not make plans, I propose we give this thing a chance and let it work out how it works out. So what do you say, do you wanna not make plans with me?” ~Anna (Amy Adams)

It’s movies like this that make me love  the idea of love and the planning that follows.  To help express the love that two people feel for each other is a great honor and a joy.

For the single girl in me, this gives hope that there is a Declan in my future.  Someone who, despite my flaws, sees something beautiful and someone who makes me finally stop and want to make plans.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A World Traveler Step

Prior to moving to Chicago, I had rarely been off the east coast.    This being the case, I spend portions of my day dreaming of far away places.  I have a long list of dream vacation spots, which hopefully one day I will get to.  Moving further and further up that list,  as I read more about it, is Siem Reap, Cambodia. 

What a great place to escape to on your honeymoon too, there are many great deals to be had.  I believe your honeymoon should be a dream location that you would not be traveling to once you have kids.  Cambodia being about a 20 hour flight, I am sure few couples are bringing along the kids, before starting that family visit this beautiful wonder.

Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

You can find some great deals on hotels in Siem Reap.  One to check out would be Kool Hotel (How can you not check it out with that name?),  This hotel offers great value (average price being $34-45), spectacular hospitality (eager to please according to ALL reviews) and has a great location.  In the morning fill up on their 5-star breakfast before heading out to tour temples and ruins.  After a long day exploring they do have a pool to relax in.  Another hotel to look into the Viroth Hotel,  Hotel Viroth brings lots of style with large minimally decorated rooms.  They have a rooftop pool and jacuzzi, along with a rooftop bar lit up with fairy lights at night.

Viroth Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia

An architecture geek at heart, I am dying to see the majestic temples that have been standing in Cambodia for over a millennium.  Sunrises are supposed to be a thing of beauty, glowing in reds and oranges while the sunset is supposed to be stunning, putting on a spectacular show at Angkor Wat (famous temple).    For about $20 you can take an elephant ride to see the views from Phnom Bakeng.  On the romantic side, you could also take a ride with Angkor Balloons, for $15 you get a 10-minute venture 820 feet into the sky.  A little on the pricier side you could also take a helicopter ride around Angkor Wat for about $90.

The local food is said to be a must while there as well, as is the local shopping.  This is definitely worth a mention to your honey and off the beat and path of your typical honeymoon jaunts.

Photos From: and

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Swimingly Good Step

The heat is on here in Chicago and across much of the country. My next birthday inspiration has a way to keep cool in the hot hot sun while still having fun for the little one's birthday. This is one, my "little fish" would surely love, hope his parents will too.

You can rent out a local swim center, if the majority of the kids are little see if you can rent out a wading pool instead. Fill the pool area with lots of beach balls and some blow up fish (tried and true Oriental Trader is a good place to find these). The majority of your time will be spent in the pool so games or crafts are not neccessary.
Chicago Pools:
1. Hayes Park, (312)745-2200
2. Hamlin Park, (312)742-7785
3. Holstein Park, (312)742-7554
or if you are a member East Bank Club ( has a kids pool as well.

For table decorations (for the gift table and the food table) hang fish netting around the tables, you can place blue table cloth underneath for an ocean look, then place plastic crabs, lobsters and seashells throughout table. You can once again keep food simple for this party; have "Octopus Hot Dogs" - make these by slicing a hot dog in four or more(depending on how many tenticles you want), but not all the way through, then boil it until the ends curl up, serve fresh fruit in sand pails and use the shovel for a spoon, and "Oceanade" fruit punch (get blue fruit punch and freeze ice cubes in a fish shaped ice tray, you can add food coloring to give the fish life).

Send kids home with their own sand pail (you can personalize each pail with the child's name, with t-shirt paint), a beach ball, some Goldfish, gummy sharks, and kiddy sunglasses (all inside the sand pail).

Photos From:(top to bottom, left to right),,,,,,,, and

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Princess's 1st Step

The first batch of little kiddies I call myself a proud aunt to are all beginning to turn one. I may not be able to be there (again) but I can imagine what the parties would be like. This party is designed around my favorite little princess.

Of course the princess party is filled with all things princess, starting with the rolled out pink carpet to greet her highness's guests. A fun game to have kids play upon walking in would be to have them guess how many kisses it will take to turn the frog prince. Have a photo of the frog prince set up next to a bowl of Hershey Kisses, have each guest write down how many kisses they think are in the bowl on a piece of paper as they enter the party. Make sure you have the proper princess pen for the royal guests to write with. At the end of the day the guest who is closest wins the bowl. After making guesses you can have the kids decorate their own foam tiaras (and pirate hats if there are any boys), with the help of mom and dad of course. Have plenty of colorful gems in different sizes and colors and glitter pens to make those tiaras shine. During the party you can also have the kids play "Find Snow Whites Apples". Hide plastic apples in the yard or house for them to find. Use plastic apples from Oriental Trading Co. that can be filled with little trinkets (age appropriate).

When planning food keep it simple, pb&j sandwiches, or cheese sandwiches (if there are alergies, check with parents beforehand), cubes of watermelon and/or cantaloupe, and princess fruit snacks. You can also use a cookie cutter to cut your sandwiches into fun shapes like tiaras and stars. For this little princess's party I would also jazz up her high chair, get different colors of tulle fabric (pink, purple, and silver) attach to the tray portion of the high chair using double sided crafting tape. It may also be a good idea to get her highness her very own cake (a mini cake) to destroy and eat on her own. That is one of the best parts of a 1st birthday party, getting pictures of the little one covered in cake.

If you're having the party outdoors another great source of entertainment would be to have a castle shaped bouncer, kids can spend hours in a bouncer, giving adults time to socialize too. You could also rent a princess to come to the party, many will read a story or make-over your little ones.

Chicago Princess Rentals:

If you are having many guests you may want to hire a professional photographer or designate a family member to take some pictures for you. You surely will not be able to see everything and this is a day you will want to remember.

Photos From: (top to bottom, left to right),,,,,,,,,,,,,, and

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Monkeying Around Step

As I said yesterday, I have several friends that are now pregnant. Yesterday's rocker baby shower, prompted requests for more shower help. Being here in Chicago I can offer ideas and make suggestions. I would love to see my creations come to life myself but take pride in the fact that my friends look to me for guidance on these matters.

The shower today is based around the theme "Monkeying Around". I actually have two inspiration boards going with this one, as I could not decide between the traditional monkey or the modern sock monkey. The monkey theme can also be carried over to the baby's first birthday; "Our little monkey's turning 1".

Photos From: (top to bottom, left to right),,,,,,,,,,,, and

For the first inspiration board I went with a classic jungle monkey feel. I would cover tables in jungle animal print fabric (zebra, giraffe, cheetah) or do solid brown with animal print runners. I would also fill the space with LOTS of hanging plants, and various stuffed monkeys (which can later be used in the nursery). As a favor for guests, I would give out mini-Chunky Monkey ice cream from Ben & Jerry's.

While coming up with ideas for the above inspiration board, I began staring at my beloved slippers...the sock monkey slipper (thank you Target). This led me to begin compiling ideas for a sock monkey themed shower, equally as cute but a totally different feel.

Photos From: (top to bottom, left to right),,,, same,,,,,,, and

This theme is much more modern. I would hang lots of red and white paper lanterns or balloons, in the venue hall, to give it that modern feel. Since the sock monkey is a childhood classic, I would also incorporate some other classics, that actually tie into the red and white theme. To hold the beverages use red and white galvanized buckets. I would also purchase old fashion style Coke bottles instead of cans. Make sure you also include striped straws with your drinks. To hold gifts, and add a little more old school charm to your gift table, get a "Radio Flyer" and place it on the table, stack gifts in and around the wagon (the wagon will come in handy for the proud parents to be). As a favor give boxes of "Red Hots" or package up red jelly beans and place a sock monkey sticker on each bag.

I am still unsure which baby shower I like more for this happy couple, I can see both sooo clearly in my mind. Which would you go with? If help is needed putting together your "lil monkey" baby shower feel free to drop me an email at

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Rockin' Baby Step

It seems baby fever is once again in the air among my friends. While I hold my breath in these times, I do love all things baby, just not for me YET! And with so many baby's on the way to make me a proud auntie, I have begun thinking about shower ideas. When it comes to the baby shower, I do not think they need to be all frilly and dainty to signify a girl or blue driven for a boy. I have a a couple friends in mind with this Rock 'n' Roll theme shower, these girls themselves are too bad a** to follow along with a cookie cutter shower.

Some fun decoration ideas: To really get that rocker feel, talk to a local club about holding the shower there. Get 3 guitar cases (used), if the interior is gross, get some fabric that matches your party decor and tack it to the inside of the case, in this case pink or zebra print, then set 2 of the cases open on top of the gift table to hold gifts, in the middle of the two, place the third case upright and have the baby's name airbrushed to the outside in a coordinating color. On your table tops another fun rock decor idea would be to scatter guitar pics over the table. If you can get your hands on a baby picture of the proud momma-to-be and papa-to-be, photo shop them in white and black and add fun colored mohawks to them, you can blow these up big and put them on the venue doors like rock posters.

I am not a big fan of shower games, but do see how they can be good icebreakers in a crowd of strangers. Here are some, not too corny, game ideas:
1. Match the celeb baby name with the celeb examples: Coco Riley (Courtney Cox and David Arquette), Apple and Moses (Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin), Harlow Winter Kate (Nicole Richie and Joel Madden, you get the idea.
2. Take the label off of baby food jars and see who can guess the most correctly.
3. The tried and true game of guessing the mom-to-be's belly size with a yarn of string.

Another cute shower idea is to have a diaper raffle. Ask guests to bring diaper packages ranging in size from Newborn-2, for every package they bring guests will be entered into the raffle. For raffle prizes you can buy a set of movie tickets and/or gift certificates to area restaurants. This is a great way to get the proud parents a good supply of diapers, which they will greatly need!

And like any great rockin' aunt I had to pass along these shower gift ideas, tooooo cute!

Photos (from top to bottom-left to right),,,,,,,,,,,,,

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bargin Step

Since 1947 brides-to-be have been flocking to downtown Boston, to find a steal on their bridal gowns. While Boston still remains a hot spot for "The Running of the Brides", you can now find this event at other Filene's Basement's.

This Friday, July 23rd, 2010, Chicago is hosting its "Running of the Brides". If you are a bride-to-be on a budget this is the place for you; gowns will run from $249to $699, normally marked $900 to $9000 plus. Do make sure you love that purchase though, all gowns are bought off the rack and are NON-returnable.

Be warned ladies bring a friend (or two), the more hands the better. Arrive early, many line up the night before to score that once in a lifetime deal. Leave your self conscience at the door, unfortunately once dressing rooms are full many are forced to try gowns on right there on the sales room floor.

"Chicago Running of the Brides"
Filene's Basement
1 North State Street
Chicago, IL 60602

Photos from:(top to bottom),,and

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Tastey Step

I have got a HUGE sweet tooth, however in this summer heat I do not want to bake. I thought I would pass along some of my summer favorites, that don't involve being stuck in the kitchen. These would each be a welcome addition at your next BBQ.

Strawberries with Cream Cheese
32 Strawberries
11-12 ounces of cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons semi-sweet or milk chocolate, grated

To prepare- cut a thin slice from the stem end so the strawberry can stand up upright, place strawberry cut side down, cut the strawberries into 4 wedges being careful not to cut all the way through, carefully fan the wedges out being careful not to break them, place aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and the almond extract until it is light and fluffy, fold in the grated chocolate.
Using a teaspoon fill the strawberry towers with the cream cheese mixture (for cleaner presentation use a decorative bag with a decorative tip to fill the strawberries). Top with a little more grated chocolate.

Frozen Butter Pecan Crunch
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 packages instant vanilla pudding mix
1 quart butter pecan ice cream, softened
8 ounces frozen whipped cream topping, thawed
2 Heath bar candy bars, crushed

To prepare- In a bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter, once combined press mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 baking pan, chill in the freezer.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the pudding mix with milk until blended, then fold in the ice cream and whipped cream topping, then spoon over the crust.
Finish by sprinkling with the crushed Heath bar and freeze. Remove 20 minutes prior to serving.

Grilled Pineapple with Mascarpone Cream
1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts
1 lemon juiced and zested
2 (8 ounce) containers mascarpone cream
3 tablespoons honey
8 slices (or more depending on party size) peeled, fresh pineapple 1/2 inch thick

To prepare- heat the grill to medium heat and lightly oil the grates.
Place the hazelnuts in a small saucepan over medium heat, shake pan until nuts are golden (about 3 minutes), remove from heat and set aside.
In bowl mix the lemon juice, lemon zest, mascarpone cream, and honey, set aside.
On heated grill place pineapple slices on grates till they get score marks (about 3 minutes each side).
To serve, plate 2 pineapple slices on plate and top with a generous dollop of mascarpone cream, then sprinkle with hazelnuts.

Hope these recipes satisfy your sweet tooth as much as they do mine.

Photos from (top to bottom): and

Friday, July 16, 2010

Smiling Step

I wanted to pass these along, I feel that they have come in handy and would like to pass some inspiration along:

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo F. Buscaglia

“Smile, even if it's a sad smile, because sadder than a sad smile is the sadness of not knowing how to smile.” ~unknown

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” ~Mother Teresa

“You can gain more friends by being yourself than you can by putting up a front. You can gain more friends by building people up than you can by tearing them down. And you can gain more friends by taking a few minutes from each day to do something kind for someone, whether it be a friend or a complete stranger. What a difference one person can make!” ~Sasha Azevedo

A simple smile or just a little encouragement can really make a person's day. In your day to day activities see how many people you smile at, or see how going through the day with a smile makes you feel. If someone pays you a compliment pay it forward and see where the day may take you. Today while going to a meeting I was stopped by a stranger who simply wanted to tell me how nice and well put together I looked, I walked into that meeting with a sense of confidence and smiling, and don't you know that I got positive feedback from that. That one stranger's kind words made my day and I plan on paying it forward and giving someone else that sense of satisfaction. See how many smiles you can inspire today!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Favorable Step

So we have all been to a wedding, and if like me, you put some thought into the gift to give to the bride and groom. So how disappointed were you when walked away with a key-chain photo of the bride and groom, or small bottle of bubbles? Most of us walk out of the wedding wondering what to do with these trinkets or just leaving them behind (signifying that the bride and groom could have spent the money more wisely). So what would be a good a wedding favor you ask?

The most practical way to go may be the edible favor. You've been boogieing on the dance floor, consuming alcohol, and now you're on your way back to your hotel room. Instead of spending a fortune diving into the mini bar wouldn't it be nice to have that treat you walked away with? Instead of serving cake at the reception, have individual slices of cake boxed up for guests to take with them(this will also save you money because you can just slice cake from a sheet cake instead of spending money on an elaborate cake).
You could also do candy covered apples, with the theme "apple of my eye". When it comes to edibles just be aware of where you store them or the climate conditions...nothing worse then your beautiful truffles becoming a bag of melted chocolate.

There are other unique and fun options you can choose if you do not want to go with an edible favor:
~chapstick..."sealed with a kiss"
~playing cards..."perfectly suited" or "two of a kind"
~removable tattoos with your names, imagine getting a picture of your great grandma donning your brand, and guests will have fun with them at the wedding but be able to wash off once home
~in colder months a nice idea is heart shaped hand warmers, guests can slip them into their gloves when leaving
~a charitable donation..."spreading the love", guests don't have to worry about taking home a favor they don't want, and can leave feeling good because money was given to a worthy cause in their honor

With a little thought you can give your guests a small trinket they will enjoy, instead of leaving behind. After all, no one wants to end up on the worst favor list!
Photos From: (top to bottom),, and

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A French Step

HAPPY Bastille Day!!! How are you spending this French national holiday? If you are like me this 14th day of July, commemorating the storming of Bastille in 1789, which marked the beginning of the French Revolution, you too want some French food. I can feel the foie gras melting in my mouth or the buttery saltiness of escargot, I'd even be happy with a baguette and some goat cheese.

New to Chicago, the french restaurant is one I have not experienced yet, so straight to Google I went to locate some options. What do you think?

1. FireFly, 3335 N Halsted St, billing itself as a funky, intimate bistro, it is supposed to have GREAT martinis in big over-sized glasses.

2. La Creperie, 2845 N Clark St, casual french fare specializing in...can you guess...that's right crepes.

My first two choices were chosen primarily on location, as the are both in my neck of the woods but I did decide to see what else was out there and found a few more that have my tastebuds yearning for some french fare.

3. Cafe Matou, 1846 N. Milwaukee Ave, the reviews seem consistent f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s french food, cozy atmosphere.

4. KiKi's Bistro, 900 N. Franklin St, french country decor, the crowd a bit on the older side BUT supposed to have THE best french onion soup in Chicago; get into this bistro soon they will be closing down on August 28th to reconceptualize.

5. Les Nomades, 222 E. Ontario St, the MOST formal of the above (note: a jacket is required for men), offering 4-5 courses, having been in business for 32 years you can expect expertly prepared dishes.

The French side of me is dying to dig my fork into any of the amazing dishes I have read these restaurants offer. Now to decide who to choose for my Bastille Day celebration.

Photo From:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Step Along the Nightmare Side

"For it is plain, as anyone can see: we're simply meant to be.", with those words Jack Skellington and Sally sent my mind racing last night. Nightmare Before Christmas has been one of my favorites since its release in 1993 after watching it last night I thought how fun it would be to design a wedding around. While pondering what would make the perfect Nightmare Before Christmas wedding I thought of the perfect bride, my girlfriend who was born on Halloween and loves the day and all things macabre. So with her in mind, Jack, Sally and I began our journey to Halloween Town to plan a perfectly nightmarish wedding....

The key to this wedding is outlandish decor and lighting. Picture walking through a replica of the Halloween Town entrance, inside you are greeted by black clothed tables with dark candelabras or black lamps, set with white and silver place settings, surrounded by white poppy flowers. The walls are splashed with varying eerie colors of green and purple, the dance floor is patterned after the Nightmare Before Christmas scroll design. Hanging from corners and around the bar, large cobwebs, with over-sized spiders, pumpkins of varying faces and sizes give off a warm glow. For an added effect you can have bartenders add dry ice to peoples drinks.

The bride herself of course would not be caught in a white dress, (how fabulous is the black dress in the storyboard?) and her bridesmaids in a Gothic inspired number (for this wedding I would try to find the dress in gray/black or purple/black not the red above). The groom and groomsmen would be head to toe black, with either gray or purple ties and black converse. If you really get into the Halloween idea, then you could have your guests come in costume.

You could also have a projector showing a slide-show of movie scenes, and a live Jack and Sally mingling among guests. The first dance can be to "Sally's Song", I prefer the Amy Lee version. This wedding can take place anytime of year BUT of course the perfect time would be in October. Enjoy your trip into Halloween Town and if you need help diving in further I am always around for suggestions.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

"Chicago Style" Step

The new 432 page information filled bible of Chicago brides made its debut at The Sax Chicago last Thursday...and much like its cover had a modern yet classic feel to it. If you have not picked up your copy of Chicago Style Weddings I really suggest you do. This issue is jam packed with style ideas and Chicago vendors.

The launch party took up the 4th floor, and was jam packed with all of Chicago's fine talent. Upon walking into the venue you were greeted by a huge media screen; great to project your monogram onto for the modest or display photos of your love story. All the walls where up-lit with a red glow, giving the party a real seductive feel.

In one of the side rooms, cakes provided by Bittersweet Pastry Shop were on display, along with mini fruit tarts being passed around on trays. Judy Contino, Bittersweets cake designer, was on hand to answer any questions and show off three of her delectable treats. (Judy- I am still looking for you and your dog on my walks in Lakeview)

I also had the opportunity to talk with the photography talent at Duron Studio Photography...check them out at

A fun idea for bachelorette parties or a wedding gift for your special guy, the lovely ladies of Bombshell Beauties want to turn you into a pin-up. Looking forward to seeing more from these ladies!

Towards the end of the evening I found I great secluded corner complete with round cubby hole couches in the wall and a soothing waterfall, where Jennifer Valentino and I were able to talk about the great ideas she had for her 2012 wedding.

Thank you to Chicago Style Weddings for a great evening!!! Go pick up your copy today !

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Thankful Step

An apology to my blog readers, I can't believe it has been 5 days since I have updated or shared any new information with you. We all have hectic lives; a bride with a 40 hour work week trying to plan her wedding on her own; a mother with soccer practice, ballet class, and piano lessons, on top of running a household; or the new entrepreneur, like me, taking on extra work to make ends meet while starting up and still finding time to work on the new business. While living our lives on overdrive, we should still take a little break to appreciate the things around us. Pour yourself a cup of tea tonight, sit in a quiet comfortable place, and really think about all that you have to be thankful for....

Things I Am Thankful For:
1. a truely supportive family and friends who offer guidance, shoulders to cry on, and a laugh when needed.
2. a warm comfortable bed to come home to after those long grueling hours.
3. a beautiful city to open my eyes to everyday...from the lake, to the skyscrapers, to the hospitality of its inhabitants, Chicago you are my home!
4. the ability to learn and grow, growth and change happen all the time, I choose to embrace it, I never want to be blinded by the ignorance that I no longer have to learn or need to learn. I am thankful for the chance to grow from that new found knowledge.

I could continue but today I am thankful for these. And as I close my eyes after this long day, I can go to sleep with a smile; having these things to be thankful for gives me a sense of fulfillment.

Check back for more blogs to come: CS Weddings launch party wrap-up, Father-Daughter Dances, some new inspiration boards (w/some interesting twists, Transformers inspired and a little camo too), and the rising trend of engagement sessions.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Step to Cool Things Down

Wow talk about a heat wave, temperatures around the country in the upper ninety's even breaching the hundred degree mark. All this heat actually has me thinking about some winter fun. Snowflakes, snow globes, beautiful ice sculptures....

Create a winter wonderland for your guests...have a gingerbread bar, serve crowd favorites such as hot chocolate and warm apple cider. When choosing a signature cocktail stick with your winter oasis and go with an eggnog martini.

Crushed graham crackers, optional for garnish
1 1/2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce spiced rum
1/2 ounce vanilla vodka
3 ounces store bought eggnog
1/4 ounce simple syrup
cinnamon stick, optional for garnish
1. Dip the rim of a martini glass in water and then into the crushed graham crackers.
2. Combine dark rum, spiced rum, vodka with eggnog and simple syrup in an ice-filled martini shaker. Shake well, strain and pour into a prepared glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Just a little reminder that while sizzling in this summer heat right now, the brisk days and nights of winter are only around the corner.

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"There is no limit to what you can imagine. And with commitment, with effort, what you can imagine you can become. Put your mind to work for you. Believe that you can do it. The world will tell you that you can't. Yet, in your belief you'll find the strength, you'll find the ability, to do it anyway." Ralph Marston

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do." Eleanor Roosevelt

A few words of inspiration for my fellow entrepreneur's or anyone who may need a little extra strength!

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Little Country Two Step

So I grew up in a small town, a town with two stoplights and my horses in the backyard. Being that small town girl weddings that really speak to me are the rustic country filled events. I envision a barn in the back drop, hay bails used for ceremony seating, a rustic horse carriage filled with presents. I think a good country wedding imparts a casual relaxed feel on its guests, the uniting of two families feeling more like a family reunion.

Adding to the casual charm, good ole southern cooking...fried chicken, corn on the cob, strawberry shortcake favors. As with any wedding, if this is the theme you are going with, you should take in to consideration the seasons. Make sure to provide guests with proper necessities, if the temperature will be sure to drop at night provide wraps, if its going to be real sunny provide parasols,or if it has been buggy make sure to have plenty of bug spray on hand to go around.

If you are in the Illinois area, a few locations to check out would be:
1. Byron Colby Barn,
2. Walnut Grove Farm, (They also have a cozy B&B on site)
3. Veha Barn Rental,
4. Carpenter's Country Barn, (They offer to set a bonfire-think s'mores round the campfire with all your guests instead of traditional cake)

Good luck "Gettin' Hitched"...hope you have found some inspiration here!

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Freedom Step

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I hope everyone is enjoying their fourth of July, whether with family and friends BBQing, taking in a fireworks display or sending prayers to the men and women fighting overseas, may you all have a happy and safe "Independence Day".

Today marks the day commemorating the "freedom" of America. On July 4th, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed asserting our separation from Great Britain. The declaration gave us the meaningful statement that "All men are created equal.".

A few fun facts for you this holiday:
The great "Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest" on Coney Island in New York was believed to have begun in 1916 as a dispute between four immigrants who were trying to prove who was more patriotic.
The Boston Pops Orchestra has been setting music to a great fireworks display on the Charles River since 1973.
And the Macy's fireworks in New York City has been televised on NBC since 1976.

July 4th, 1979 also marks my independence day, I was released from the hospital after being born over a month early. Today I choose to celebrate that independence and be thankful for all those who have supported me and helped me grow. I am still growing and learning that independence does not mean going it alone, but rather surrounding yourself with those who believe in and support you. Thank you!!

I would aslo like to just send a BIG thank you to all the men and women that are still fighting to keep America the land of the free and helping others attain their freedom, you are truely the heroes of America! May everyone have a safe and happy fourth of July!

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

More Musical Steps

When making your play list of music, don't forget older guests. You may actually find yourself smiling while going through the classics, this is when music was true. Believe me, your older guests will appreciate that your play-list included more then Lady GaGa or B.O.B. Here are a few I would include:

A little Otis Redding-

Of course Billie Holiday-

The sounds of Sarah Vaughan-

Just a few selections, hope you enjoy them as much as I do...just imagine Great Aunt Thelma getting up to dance when she hears a few of her favorites.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Family Step

Are you deciding what kind of dining experience to have at your next event?? Can I make a push for my favorite?

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The "family-style" service. This is a great mix of the classic formal sit down and the buffet, a way to serve up casual elegance. It can also be cost effective, reducing the amount of servers needed and is often times less expensive than an individually plated dinner.

Most times guest are seated to a chef plated salad...I can see all the farmers market summertime think bright tomato salads or winter think Roquefort pear salad. When salad plates are cleared plattered entrees and sides are brought to the table, for guests to pass. Your guests are then able to serve themselves, taking as little or as much as wanted.

When properly executed I think you will find that many of your guests will feel more welcomed with this service. It also induces more interaction between your guests. After-all when was the last time you had a speechless dinner at home?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A "Funny Face" Step

I am a huge fan of classic movies and the belief in true love. In 1957, Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn made "Funny Face"...a love story that inspired the below story board. From the opening number of "Think Pink" and the backdrop of grand Paris how can one not be inspired to think of a perfectly pink parisian party.

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