Monthly Archives: February 2011

Simple Ideas For A Fun Kid’s Party

I had a Spa Party when I was eight. It was simple, and I loved it.

Like Valentine’s Day, today I am going to take another short break from weddings to talk about kid’s parties – a topic which may interest you a couple years after getting married.

Growing up, my birthday parties were never extravagant; however, each party was usually held somewhere outside of my house. Choosing where I wanted to hold my party each year was the best part, that and picking out my invitations.

However, the years of the simple kid’s party – held at home or at an outside location – seem to have partially gone by the wayside. Now it seems that extravagant parties are all the rage. On a recent Good Morning America segment, Gracie and her mom were highlighted because Gracie’s mom spent $32,000 on her daughter’s birthday party. According to The Knot, the average wedding in the U.S is $27,800. If Gracie’s parents spent that much for her to turn seven, how much will they spend on her wedding?

Instead of being extravagant, why not simplify the party? My parties were never extravagant, but I loved them. More importantly, I remember them. Below are some of my favorite kid’s party ideas.

  1. Hollywood Walk of Fame: Have your child choose his or her favorite movie or play, or allow your child to make up a story. With that idea in mind, ask guests to bring some of their favorite dress up clothes. At the party, allow each child to choose a role in the movie or play and reenact it. You can tape their show on a video camera, download it onto your computer, and burn CDs of the performance to give out as favors. Not only will kids enjoy watching the video now, they will love watching it again years down the road.
  2. Chef For A Day: First, allow guests to decorate their own apron to wear while cooking. Then create your own pizza from scratch (most grocery stores carry premade dough, cheese, and sauce separately and provide directions). While you are cooking up their creations, allow guests to mix and decorate their own cupcakes or cookies for dessert. Kids love to help in the kitchen, and most kids love to be creative with food too.
  3. Pottery Party: Paint-your-own pottery is a great way to spend a birthday party. Most towns have at least one privately owned pottery place, and stores such as Color Me Mine have locations throughout the country. Guests are usually able to choose a piece to paint from among a selection of birthday party pieces. Then they can pick their paint colors and have fun being creative. Most places also allow you to have cake while you are there too.
  4. Pool Party: A summer staple and one of the easiest parties to throw! Play pool games and make tie-dye t-shirts. Then have a barbecue for lunch or dinner followed by cake. If you have access to a projector and a clear, blank side on your house, it’s also fun to show a movie once the sun goes down.
  5. Spa Day: Go to a salon and allow guests to have their hair done – french braids or cool twists are easy and inexpensive. Then allow guests to have manicures done too. Although going to a salon can be easier, you can also throw these parties at home with the help of willing family, friends, and babysitters. (I had several of these parties when I was younger, and my friends still talk about them years later!)

A couple other popular ideas are bowling, ice or roller-skating, or a sleepover (or under – it has all the elements of a sleepover, but most end by 10 p.m.). For more ideas, check out Disney’s Family Fun magazine’s website.

Whether you decide to plan your child’s birthday party around one of these ideas or another one, my best advice is to keep it simple. Why spend $32,000 on a birthday party? My parties were simple and relatively inexpensive. Most importantly, I had a blast with my friends, and I remember so many of my special days. Plan, relax, and have fun!

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Product Spotlight: The Dedication Company

One of the best finds over the past couple weeks has been the online store Etsy.com. The entire site serves to promote people who sell handmade products. The best part is that because everything is handmade, each piece that you purchase promises to be original and unlike anything you can find in a store.

During my first Etsy scouring mission, I happened upon The Dedication Company. I couldn’t have been more excited. I love simple things that stand out in their own way, especially in terms of jewelry. That is exactly what Rebecca Tollefson, the New Hampshire based designer behind The Dedication Company and Maizie Designs, creates: simple jewelry that happens to be perfect to give to your bridal party.

Through combining silver, pearls, or brass together, Rebecca creates simple pieces (choose from long or short necklaces as well as bracelets) that make a statement and each includes a monogram. Although the pieces look expensive, whether you purchase a necklace, bracelet, or both, all of The Dedication Company’s jewelry is reasonably priced. Necklaces are between $28-$34, while bracelets are $35 or $37. Rebecca also offers special pricing for brides ordering for her bridal party.

Check out some of my favorite pieces from The Dedication Company and visit Rebecca’s Etsy shop to see more. Although perfect to give as gifts to your bridal party, jewelry is also a perfect treat for you. Enjoy!

*all photos courtesy The Dedication Company

Sterling Silver Monogram Initial with Floral Brass Teardrop Pendant - Limited Edition Dedication Necklace

Monogram Handforged Horseshoe Pendant with Sterling Silver Initial Charm - Dedication Necklace

Monogram Birthstone Bracelet - Sterling Silver Initial Charm with Vintage Brass Locket - Dedication Bracelet

Sterling Silver Initial Charm with Pearls - Dedication Bracelet

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The Royal Wedding Invitation: Boring or Beautiful?

One of the hallmarks of a wedding is the wedding invitation. It allows invitees to gage what to expect for the ceremony and reception. Will new trends be infused, or is the couple leaning toward more traditional elements?

Today, the first pictures of Prince William and Kate’s invitations were released, which have been sent to 1900 guests. As a result of their royal status and the spectacular venue (the ceremony is being held at Westminster Abbey), I was expecting to see a much grander invitation. After all, one would imagine that an invitation from the Queen would be remarkable. However, I think I’m suffering from invitation design letdown. I understand that the invitations must remain formal; however, there are so many interesting formal invitation designs today. I was hoping theirs would be a bit more exciting.

Take a look at the invitation below. What do you think? Is the royal wedding invitation boring or as beautiful as you imagined?

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The Running of the Brides

As a child, everyone dreams of having Christmas come in July. Who wouldn’t want to wake up on a warm summer morning to find some of your top things from your summer wish list waiting for you? While kids wish for Christmas in July, some adults wish for the rush of Black Friday for just one more day during the year. Yesterday was Black Friday for brides in New York City.

Every year, the department store Filene’s Basement opens its doors at 8 a.m. for brides and their friends and family to sprint into the store. Why would anyone want to sprint into a department store on a day other than Black Friday you ask? For none other than “The Running of the Brides.”

At the yearly “Running of the Brides,” Filene’s Basement stocks its aisles with rack upon rack of discounted designer gowns. We aren’t just talking about a small percentage off either. All of the dresses at Filene’s during the event are $249-$699 with many of the dresses having started at over $9,000.

In order to say yes to an inexpensively priced dress, brides arrive hours beforehand. Many arrived as early as 4 a.m. Friday morning with most wearing handmade t-shirts – a theme at “The Running of the Brides.”

Once inside, brides dash through the aisles grabbing as many dresses in their size as they can find with the help of family and friends. After trying on their favorites, dresses are returned to the racks or exchanged for others. When a bride has found the one, the running continues, except instead of running into the store, the bride is running to the register. What takes some brides hours, others can do in minutes because once you find the one, it only takes a split second to say, “Yes!”

Although “The Running of the Brides” is complete chaos (I’m not talking about the organized kind), the amount of money a bride can save makes experiencing another Black Friday rush in the same year totally worth it.

Check out this video from Brides.com to experience the chaos yourself.

If you want to run for your dress, click here to find tips from Filene’s and an event in your area.

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21 and Getting Married: A Q&A with Meghan Eells

 

Meghan and Sam right after getting engaged at the Moshulu. (photo courtesy Meghan Eells)

Have you ever tried to plan a wedding and attend college courses at the same time? Your answer is probably a resounding, “NO!” You are not wrong in saying no because the average age for couples to get married in the U.S is 28 for men and 26 for women, according to an article published in USA Today. However, enter Meghan Eells. At 21, Meghan is preparing to graduate from college in Philadelphia while also planning her wedding eight hours away from her home in Meadville, PA.

Meghan and Sam became fast friends during Sam’s first afternoon on campus as a freshman when a mutual friend introduced them. Three years later, Meghan and Sam went on a “back to school” date at the Moshulu, a restaurant aboard a boat docked along the Delaware River in Philadelphia. Sam proposed during dessert in front of other dinner guests. Obviously, Meghan said yes.

Going to the Chapel: Where are you getting married?

Meghan Eells: We are getting married in a small town called Meadville, Pa. It’s where I grew up. Although we’re not getting married at the Church I’ve gone to all my life (it’s way too small), we are getting married in a Church that’s been around Meadville forever. The pastor at this Church has also agreed to incorporate any Jewish traditions that we would like into the ceremony to make our “big day” the best it can possibly be. (I’m Christian, Sam’s Jewish.)

GTTC: What is it like to plan a wedding at such a young age?

ME: It’s hard. It’s not only hard because so much more work goes into planning a wedding than you would EVER think, but it’s hard because I have college classes, a full-time internship, a part-time job and I’m eight hours away from home. Just thinking about my schedule makes me tired. However, I don’t really think of wedding planning as “work”; it’s more of a getaway for me.

GTTC: How would you describe the process of planning your wedding? What has been the hardest? The easiest?

ME: The easiest part: my dress. I knew the SECOND I put it on that it was meant for me. More about that later. The hardest part: making a list of people that we want to be there for the most important day of our lives thus far and making it a realistic size. For the most part, I have such a strong “team” helping me with everything else in this process. My Mom is making our wedding cake, a groom’s cake, the silk flower bouquets and SO much more. She’s so artsy it’s ridiculous (and I inherited NONE of those genes). She has done more than I could have ever asked for and the wedding is still a little less than six months away. My Maid of Honor [MOH]/cousin/best friend since birth is always ready to shop as well as do research. Sam’s Mom (Mom S.!) and sister Michelle have been my “East Coast Team” in helping with everything that can be done away from home. I know I couldn’t do this on my own, and I am so very blessed that our families are so close (both with us and each other).

GTTC: You are so far away from home while you are at college. Has it been hard to plan your wedding?

ME: It’s hard to plan some things here (we went bridesmaid dress shopping in Yardley) and some things at home (we researched DJ’s, reception sites, Churches, etc.). I want to be there when all of the “big decisions” are made but that doesn’t always happen because, during the school year, I live eight hours away from where the wedding is taking place. I let my Mom know which bouquets I wanted via picture messages she sent me of them. The same thing goes for the groom’s cake and the idea of the actual wedding cake. We sent MULTIPLE pictures of bridesmaid dresses across PA to all of the bridesmaids to find out which one we agreed on. We’re definitely making it work, but I think it would be easier if we were all in the same place.

We also are trying to plan “wedding events” on both sides of PA. Sam’s family threw an engagement party for us in Yardley in late October. The bridal shower, wedding and reception will be in Meadville. We have thought about having a small get together in Yardley after the wedding to celebrate with those who may not have been able to make the trip for the actual day.

GTTC: What was is like to say YES to the dress?

ME: My Mom, MOH (Erin) and I went dress shopping Thanksgiving weekend. I was definitely NOT planning on buying a dress that day, and it was honestly the first time I was looking in person; I brought in some pictures from magazines. However, when I put on MY dress, I just knew. I can’t even explain it. I tried on less than ten dresses. I didn’t cry, but I don’t cry too often. The dress fit perfectly and doesn’t even need any alterations. I was 100% sure when I found every excuse I could to keep the dress ON and just walk around the store in it. The dress honestly mirrors my personality and is exactly what I was looking for.

GTTC: Because you are younger, is planning your wedding more about what you want or more about what your family wants to see happen?

ME: My parents are paying for the whole entire wedding and reception. With that said, the thing I’ve heard my Mom say the most throughout this whole planning process is “Meghan, it’s your wedding, make sure you get what you want. Don’t let anyone choose for you or push you around.”…or something along those lines. My parents want to see me happy. My Mom comes to me for even the smallest decisions and wants them “OK’d” by me because she wants it to be my day.

I also am very diplomatic. Even though I will be the first one to announce my opinion, I don’t want to MAKE anyone do anything. I had the bridesmaids vote (via text!) which dress they liked the best. I also think that I should point out that for the area I grew up in, 21 isn’t actually all that young to be married. A handful of people I graduated high school with are already married and even have children. My Mom and Dad were 21 and 22 when they got married. I guess because it’s always been around me, I don’t really view myself as being “too young to marry” (which I’ve been told by people around Philadelphia when they heard I was getting married).

GTTC: How do you think it would be different to plan your wedding if you were older?

ME: I’m not exactly sure how different it would be. I think that as people age, they become more independent of their parents and the community/support system that helped to raise them. I can’t even imagine planning a wedding with my family and friends not so actively involved. I also think that it wouldn’t be as nice. I won’t have the money that my parents are shelling out for the wedding for a VERY long time. I think that sometimes, older brides are often expected to foot the bill themselves because they are so “independent” and “grown-up”.

GTTC: Is there anything else you would like to add?

ME: I love Sam more than anything. If money was a problem (which it can be for couples who are so young and still dependant) and our parents were unsupportive (which is a possible problem for young and old couples alike), I would marry him at the courthouse in a heartbeat. However, I can’t express to you how thankful I am that both of our families are so willing and ready to help as well as so supportive of our “young wedding”. I think both sides see how hard we have fallen for each other and would never want to stand in the way of that.

Surrounded by family and friends, Meghan and Sam will marry during a traditional ceremony followed by a reception in Meghan’s hometown on August 6, 2011 – less than three months after they graduate from college. Congratulations to you both; all the best

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The Wedding Party Hosted By Jenny Orsini

Hey New Jersey brides! Did you just get engaged? Are you looking for a cool wedding planning event? Jenny Orsini, one of the hosts of the Style Network’s Whose Wedding is it Anyway?, and the Meadow Wood Manor in Randolph, N.J are here to help!

The Wedding Party will be hosted by Jenny Orsini at the Meadow Wood Manor on February 27, 2011 from 3:00-6:00 p.m. During the event, brides will be welcomed into the simulated wedding of their dreams by vendors representing each element of a wedding as they circulate from room to room.

Once a couple is engaged, the first step for the bride-to-be is to find her dream wedding dress. Therefore, while enjoying mimosas at The Wedding Party, brides will be immersed into wedding dress shopping in the first room while also enjoying consultations with make-up and hair experts. Next, brides will move to the second room where they will taste some of the cocktails that could be served during their cocktail hour. In the final two rooms at The Wedding Party, brides will taste culinary and dessert creations perfect for their unique day.

Allow expert wedding planner Jenny Orsini from Whose Wedding is it Anyway? guide you in planning your dream day during The Wedding Party, which promises to be a unique, interactive event. One bride will even win a $20,000 grand prize-wedding package. The package includes a wedding reception at Meadow Wood Manor, complete entertainment, photography, flowers and a limousine.

Tickets for the event are $25 per couple or $15 per individuals and can be purchased through The Wedding Party’s website with a portion of the net proceeds being donated to Wish Upon A Wedding, New Jersey Chapter.

 

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Be My Valentine

photo courtesy Hillary Style

According to History.com, “Approximately 141 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.” As a result of this greeting card holiday’s popularity, today’s post is in honor of Valentine’s Day, which is much more of an event than a holiday alone.

In the lives of many, Valentine’s Day has such simple beginnings. In elementary school, Valentine’s Day, along with Halloween and Christmas, is celebrated with a party. Students run to grocery stores to pick out a box of Valentine’s, which they sign and place into each classmate’s Valentine’s Day card box or bag. Usually these pint-sized Valentine’s depict a child’s favorite television star, such as Selena Gomez, and are not so much about love as they are about friendship. The main idea is that everyone gets a card – no one hopes to have a special someone for a day.

As we all know, life gets much more complicated as time goes on, and elementary school Valentine’s Day parties are simply not enough. They are as the school is called: elementary. Valentine’s Day suddenly becomes a day of hoping someone will say, “Be Mine.”

For some, Valentine’s Day is the day couples choose to say, “I Do.” Each year, the Empire State Building opens its doors for one huge day, or weekend, of weddings around Valentine’s Day. In fact, it is the only time the famous New York City landmark holds weddings. Through a partnership with the popular bridal magazine “The Knot,” 14 couples were chosen through its Wedding With A View contest to walk down the aisle on the actual holiday. This year, one couple will actually get married in the 86th floor Observatory, while the other 13 couples are married on the 61st floor. During last year’s event, couples enjoyed cakes provided by TLC’s Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro, in the Observatory following the ceremonies. As a result of the Empire State Building’s wedding exclusivity, these weddings will definitely be ones to remember.

If you are not looking to get married on Valentine’s Day, why not help the holiday to regain some of its elementary school simplicity? No one ever said you had to wait for someone to say, “Be Mine,” or even ask someone that question yourself. Instead, why not spend the holiday with friends? Spend the day wandering around your favorite city; go to a concert; or share dinner with some of your closest friends at a cool restaurant. Valentine’s Day should be about everyone you love – friends and family included – not necessarily about one person…unless you are at the top of the Empire State Building wearing a white dress.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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