Category Archives: ADVICE

How to Throw a Bridal Shower: The Perfect Party on a Budget

ADVICE, WEDDINGS | | | 5 Replies

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Written exclusively for Pottery Barn by Christy Hulsey, Colonial House of Flowers + Camp Makery
Photography by Izzy Hudgins

I’ve totally reached that part of the year where every single person I know is engaged — and that means bridal showers and parties aplenty. When it’s my job to host one of these parties, I always aim for something effortless, intimate, and relaxed that anyone can do on any budget.

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The secrets to styling party perfection on even the eenciest allowance are right here in a way that’s stylish, chic and easy. Which is no surprise, since Alva & Austrie and The Glitter Life, joined Colonial House of Flowers to illustrate the fine points, with Izzy Hudgins capturing every whimsical, fun and beautiful element.

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Flowers. Want to get a dream bridal shower look for less? Save on fancy decor and stock up on flowers. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy — pick some from your backyard, or pick them up from the grocery store. Arrange them yourself — even make garlands from backyard clippings. That’s what we did here!

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Or use a favorite object to create a centerpiece with your friends. This colorful number on the Pottery Barn Vintage Wood Carved Cake Stand is handmade with a bunch of girlfriends. Darling, right? Plus it can be a hostess gift.

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Decorations. There’s no need to buy new decor — find stuff you have around your house for your perfect  party. Forget stressing over matching china. Instead, mix and match plates, bowls, glasses, vases and votives. The effect is a totally approachable kind of charm that’s warm and inviting.

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Signage. Adding signs gives a crisp, modern and refined element to your party environment. Everyday items like Kraft paper and paint offer an artistic flair that doesn’t break the bank.

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Dress up things by putting the writing on the wall and accenting with cut plants from your backyard — we loved displaying them in the Riddling Rack Succulent Stand, here.

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Drinks. Alcohol is a major expense. Instead of buying bottles of different varieties, pick a signature drink for the night. That way, you only have to purchase one or two types of alcohol that are within your budget. I love Cameron Hughes Wine for exactly this reason — exceptional price and high quality that’s appealing to everybody.

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Side note: cocktail parties are less expensive and versatile compared to sit-down affairs that require meals, dishes, flatware, linens and serving pieces.

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Food. Filet of beef? Please. Instead of serving full size entrees, try offering an array of small size eats — you’ll save a lotta dough on your food budget. Consider labeling the party a “recipe exchange” where guests bring salads and desserts while you provide the main dish to limit costs.

By using these tips for your own, getting creative with food, decor, friends and flowers you can throw party a that is all that of a pricier fete!

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Vendor Credits:
Photography: Izzy Hudgins Photography
Location Selection & Hand lettering: Alva & Austrie, https://www.facebook.com/alvaandaustrie
Flower Selection: Mark Jackson, Cutflower Atlanta
Flowers farm: Rosaprima Roses
Flower Garland, Centerpiece & Halo: Amanda Currier & Christy Hulsey Colonial House of Flowers
Floral Supplies: Syndicate Sales
Hand poured candles: Southern Soy Candle
Models: Maggie Buckley, Marley Jones, Halei Jo Sessum, Ashley Usry & Misty Williamson all of Georgia Southern University
Wardrobe:  Cobbler’s Bench
Wardrobe Styling: The Glitter Life
Ribbon: Lion Offray
Wine Glasses: Dish
Wine: Cameron Hughes
Small Bites: Brownie Brittle

Cold Weather Dos and Don’ts from Lizzie Post

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Are you attending or hosting a cold weather winter wedding this season? Take a peek at etiquette expert Lizzie Post’s winter wedding dos and don’ts before you do:

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Serve hot drinks before the ceremony and/or during cocktail hour. “My cousin had an October wedding, where they served hot cider with cinnamon sticks and orange right before the ceremony,” says Lizzie. “It was the perfect way to start the afternoon.”

Consider all of your guests’ comfort. “Take your oldest and youngest guests into account first so you don’t bust your budget,” says Lizzie. “Make sure guests know to come prepared for cold weather, too. Get the word out to your guests as soon as you know how the weather will be.”

Have a backup plan. Whether it’s a heated tent, an indoor option, or just plenty of blankets, you’ll want to have all of your bases covered. “Make sure you have some kind of company of facility on call in case of inclement weather,” Lizzie says.

Note appropriate attire for guests on your wedding website. “It really is okay to dress for a cold weather wedding — you don’t have to wear a summer dress,” Lizzie says. “You can be in a dress with long sleeves, you can bring a jacket — whatever makes you comfortable.”

Need more advice? Pick up the 6th Edition of Wedding Etiquette by Anna Post and Lizzie Post. Be sure to check back in with us for more etiquette tips from Anna and Lizzie, too!

Bridal Diaries: Engagement Party Cocktail Must-Haves

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‘Tis the season! Summer isn’t just for weddings — it’s prime engagement season, to — which means there will be plenty of engagement parties this fall.

We spoke to Lynnette Marrero, New York City-based Mixologist and consultant with DrinksAt6, to get her expert opinion on how to get engagement party cocktails right this season. Lynnette is also a co-founder of Speed Rack, a global female bartender competition that raises funds for breast cancer research.

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Read on for Lynnette’s tips!

Use your drink menu to show off your personality. “Until the wedding day, this is the first time when it’s really all about the union of the couple and the fact that these two individuals are coming together. It’s really a celebration of who they are. It’s a little more casual, and more about what they like.”

Start things off with a punch. “Serve a welcome punch, and give it a fun name or twist that has something to do with the couple, and tells the story of who they are. Hawaiian punch is great if they’re getting married in Hawaii — you can serve it with an orchid garnish. Drink dispensers are also great because they’re easy, and easy to maintain. Guests can serve themselves. Spice things up a bit with your own ice molds or special garnishes.”

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Stay true to your vibe. “If you’re a laid back couple doing a casual and comfortable engagement party, you might want something with bourbon served in cute little mason jars. If you want a classic brunch, you might be looking at classic wines and sparkling wines. Or, if it’s a surprise party, pay homage to the couple and serve a drink they both love.”

Don’t forget non-alcoholic options. “When you have a varied group of individuals, you want to make sure you have a lighter cocktail and some kind of mocktail, too, for those who would rather not drink but still want to have something fun to sip on.”

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Stock the bar. “Make sure you have a bunch of really good mixers on hand, so you have a range of what people like. Elevate your bar for a broad crowd and give it a customized feel with really nice, high quality mixers. You might consider buying something local, that pays tribute to the couple’s hometown. Or just have several fresh squeezed juices on hand.”

Don’t forget the finger food! “Finger foods and snacks are the best things to go with cocktails. A nice meat and cheese board goes really well with spirits — things that have a nice acidity to it complement cocktails nicely. It’s also not an accident that cocktail nuts exist in bars. They’re nice and filling, easy to eat and the saltiness complements the sweetness of cocktails. You could also have fun with something like customized deviled eggs or a bacon or jerky tasting — something that honors the couple’s taste.”

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Need a few great cocktails for an upcoming engagement party? Take a look at Lynnette’s top suggestions, below:

Endless Love
1 1/2 oz Ketel One Oranje
1/2 oz raspberry liquor
1/2 oz pomegranate juice
Top with Stellina di Notte Prosecco
Garnish with and orange twist and a dried rosebud

French 75
1 1/2 oz Tanqueray No 10 Gin
3/4 oz lemon Juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
Top with Stellina di Notte Prosecco

Blushing Bride Punch
1 1/2 pints Bulleit Bourbon
1/2 pint Creme de peche (peach liqueur)
1 pint Almond Tea*
1/2 pint Prosecco
Garnish with fresh fruits.

**Peel zest from 8 lemons and combine with 1 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Press out air and seal. Rub zest and sugar together to release oils. Leave at room temperature until sugar dissolves, about 6 hours. Strain, pressing on zest. Makes ⅓ cup.

*Brew tea twice as strong as directed

Place all ingredients in a cocktail dispenser. Float fresh fruits on top.

Honeymoon in Capri Punch
1 pint Stellina di Notte Prosecco
1 pint grapefruit juice
1 pint Tanqueray No 10 Gin
1/2 pint aperol italian liqueur
1/2 cup sugar dissolved
1 pint Perrier Sparkling water

Mix in a punch bowl. Add large piece of hard frozen ice. Garnish with raspberries, sliced strawberries, and sliced oranges. Add sparkling wine and sparking water just before serving.

 

 

 

Easy, Bohemian Wedding Style: DIY Succulent Headband

ADVICE | | | 1 Reply

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Written by Christy Hulsey, Colonial House of Flowers

I’ve really developed a weakness for succulents — they make everything so interesting and show-stoppingly gorgeous. Plus, when I think about how the plants will live on long after the arrangement is made, I get excited by all of the new energy.

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I teamed up with Kaitlyn Baxter to show you how our little shop made this succulent bridal headband. We’ve become the best of friends — we’ve worked on weddings side-by-side for forever, and I’m excited to tell you she thinks these little sprouts are as ridiculously awesome as I do.

Let’s get started!

Materials
Ribbon
Clippers
Floral Glue
Succulents
Brunia

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Steps

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1. Choose and cut ribbon. I’m in love with double sided satin ribbon because with its high thread count, the color stands out and has an elegant feel that is versatile. It’s beautiful on both sides.

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Tip: Choose a color like pewter for an artistic look that compliments your dress.

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2. Trim the succulents. Begin attaching them onto the ribbon with glue, one at a time. Tuck them here and there to add texture and interest. The excess leaves or blooms may be trimmed.

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Note: The glue — this stuff is sticky. You’re gonna get it on your fingers. It’s easily rolled off as it’s harmless.

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3. Once you have the halo covered all the way around, add in a few special pieces that are different sizes or colors. A few snips of silver brunia were added to give the design sophistication.

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This DIY is proof that BIG wedding day style can be easy. This is a great project that can be done with a family member, at a bridal shower or one afternoon over a glass of wine with a sweet fun lovin’ friend — just like I did.

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Credits:
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Project: Camp Makery
Succulent Halo: Colonial House of Flowers
Photography: Izzy Hudgin Photography with Rachel Strickland Photography
Event Styling: French Knot Studios
Hair & Makeup: Jessica Duthu
Venue: Cohen’s Retreat
Dress: James Gunn
Succulents: Windham Greenhouses
Wine: Cameron Hughes
Ribbon: Lion Ribbon

PS: This halo is also featured on Ruffled!

 

Q&A with Lizzie Post: Making Travel Arrangements and Plans for Wedding Guests

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No matter where you’re hosting your wedding, there will inevitably be some guests that have to travel. The more people that travel, the more complicated arrangements will become. Although it’s easy to get caught up in all the details of your big day, it’s important to help out the people who want to be there to support you, too.

“People forget that when you’re having the wedding, you’re the host,” says etiquette maven Lizzie Post. “And being a host is all about making your guests comfortable in your presence.”

Take a look at Lizzie’s tips for dealing with traveling guests, below!

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(Photo from A Secluded Seaside Rehearsal Dinner)

Make It Clear

  • When providing information and resources to your wedding guests, you’ll want to really think about your audience. Are most of your guests technologically savvy? Then it might make sense to put most of the information on your website, and just give Grandma and Grandpa a call to fill them in on the details.
  • Note: Above all, keep this separate from your invitation. “None of your planning information should end up in your invitation, or even as a separate thing in your invitation. It should be a separate package that arrives later, or is simply put on your website,” Lizzie says.

Where to Stay

  • “If it’s not a destination wedding, it’s really important to provide a wide range of hotels and lodging,” says Lizzie. “When possible, when appropriate, find a place for your guests so they don’t have to worry about the costs of hotels. You want them there, so make it easy for them to get there.”
  • Never recommend something that you wouldn’t stay in — no matter how good the deal is.
  • If you’re hosting your wedding during a particularly busy season, make sure your guests know they should book a room well in advance.
  • If many guests are traveling, and there are accommodations available, you may want to reserve a block of hotels. “Obviously you’ll want to let people know where you’ve reserved the block,” says Lizzie. “Make sure to include that on your website or wherever else you’re providing information.”

Going to the Chapel …

  • Is your ceremony or reception location difficult to get to? You may want to provide transportation for guests who will be drinking. “Always choose safety over budget,” says Lizzie. “It makes it a lot easier as a guest, to enjoy yourself. And the host won’t have to worry about people either.”

Extracurricular Activities

  • “Technically you’re really just obligated to host a ceremony and a reception for guests,” says Lizzie. “But more and more, people are hosting extra events to give out-of-towners something to do. The next day brunch is an option, a welcome cocktail hour, etc. But for a lot of couples, it really just makes sense to keep it simple.”
  • Whether or not you’re hosting additional events, provide activity suggestions for guests on your website or information packet. “This is especially important when children are involved,” says Lizzie. “It’s a good idea to suggest things to people and provide places to go and look forward to.”

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Need more advice? Pick up the 6th Edition of Wedding Etiquette by Anna Post and Lizzie Post. Be sure to check back in with us for more etiquette tips from Anna and Lizzie, too!

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Simply Beautiful: An Easy, DIY Wedding Centerpiece for Fall

ADVICE | | | 2 Replies

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Written by Christy Hulsey, Wedding Florist, Colonial House of Flowers

My passion for flowers and weddings is no secret! So when the girls of Paprika Southern asked me to teach them how to create a simple, floral autumn-inspired table accent, I dove into my treasure trove of beautiful, meaningful and easy ideas for fall.

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To me, the perfect autumn day means flowers on a table alfresco – for anything. That’s what I took to heart when creating this easy, DIY wedding centerpiece. Roll up those sleeves, this floral lesson is a cinch!

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Materials needed:
• Your favorite vessel
• A bucket of your favorite blooms
• Clippers

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1. Choose your vessel. Something simple that with a pedestal is perfect. Grab something from your cupboard.

Tip: Choose a vessel that’s versatile, beautiful and makes you happy. I chose a beverage dispenser stand from Pottery Barn because it’s got so much Old World charm. Plus I love how you can use it separately from the dispenser itself, before or after an event. The possibilities are endless!

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2. Choose your favorite blooms. I recommend 3 – 5 different types in hues to match the event. Be sure to include flowers of different textures and style to make it interesting and artistic. Feel free to forage from your garden or visit your local flower shop.

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3. Place flowers on the vessel. Be creative. Start with the largest bloom to create a focal point and move out from there, balancing size, color and shape so that the entire arrangement feels balanced and cohesive. But don’t worry too much! These arrangements work best with a natural approach.

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This makes a great gift, favor and centerpiece — it’s personal, sustainable, and looks stunning on top of every single al fresco table.

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Flowers: Colonial House of Flowers
Photography: Sweet Tea Photography
Project: Camp Makery
Venue: September Oaks, Charleston, South Carolina

Wine Country Wedding Dessert: Chocolate Cabernet Cake

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Text written exclusively for Have & Hold by Christy Hulsey
Produced by:  Salted & Styled and Camp Makery

Making your own wedding cake isn’t exactly easy. And it’s definitely a task that’s outside my area of expertise. So, when I arrived at the venue for our wine country wedding inspirational shoot in Georgia to see this gorgeous dessert whipped up by the talented Libbie Summers, I had to get the step-by-step guide to making this stacked cake.

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Although this cake looks just as delicious as it tastes, the styling geniuses of Salted & Styled and photography by Chia Chong make these photos look even more luscious. Long after the cake is devoured, the memories of making it will stand. The whole thing is actually pretty awesome. Without a doubt, its one of the treats I loved the most from our incredible Vineyard Wedding Tabletop shoot.

Chocolate Cabernet Naked Cake
Recipe by Libbie Summers
Serves 12

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Ingredients

For Red Wine Syrup:
3⁄4 cup Cabernet
1⁄2 cup brown sugar

For Cake:
3 1⁄2 cups cake flour
1⁄2 cup high quality cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons butter (2 sticks), room temperature
2 1⁄2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 cups Cabernet or other full bodied red wine
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (can substitute vanilla extract)
Red food coloring (optional)

For Frosting:
6 egg whites
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
6 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1⁄2 tablespoons vanilla paste

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Directions:

For Red Wine Syrup: In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the sugar and wine and whisk together until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

For Cake: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray three 8-inch round baking pans with nonstick cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and spray the parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the butter and sugar. Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated. Mix in the flour mixture and wine, alternating with each. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla paste and mix until combined. At this point if you want your cake to have a more prominent red color, you can add a little red food coloring.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean (about 30 to 40 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans completely.

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For Frosting: In a medium saucepan over low to medium heat combine the egg whites and sugar. Stir constantly until the egg whites reach 160 ̊ F and the sugar has completely dissolved.

Transfer to a standing mixer fitted with a whip attachment. Whip on medium speed for 1 minute. Slowly increase to high speed. Whip until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.

Add in the butter 2 tablespoons at a time. Add in the vanilla paste. Continue whipping until the buttercream is light and airy.

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To Assemble: When cakes are completely cool cut each in half lengthwise with a serrated knife (your making 6 layers). Working one layer at a time, place it on your chosen cake stand (cut side up). Brush with a very thin layer of the cabernet syrup and allow it time to seep into the cake. Place about a 1⁄2 cup of frosting in the center of the cake layer and spread it out evenly all the way to the edge. Don’t frost the sides, this is what makes it a “naked cake.”

Continue this process with the next 5 layers of the cake ending with a thicker layer of frosting on top of the cake. Decorate the top of the cake with grapes and flowers if you like.

Store cake at room temperature.