Category Archives: Weddings

A Bicycle Built for Two {Couple’s Shower}

My good friends, Lane and Craig, are getting married this September so my friend Angela and I  threw them a Bicycle Built for Two, couple’s shower.  They love the outdoors and are avid bikers, so the theme was a perfect fit for them!

The adorable invitations were created by fellow HAP blogger Katie.

Bicycle  planters and red balloons on the front porch welcomed guests to the party.

Guests were treated to White Sangria, vintage soda and a variety of beer.

The gift table had a bicycle basket for cards and a personalized print, created by one reverie,  for the couple.

A personalized cake topper, handmade of twisted metal by Heather Boyd, was a perfect touch.

For dessert, guests had vanilla cupcakes with cake toppers created by Lemon and Lavender.

As party favors, guests were asked to grab a bottle of personalized wine as they left.

The adorable labels were also created by Katie.

It was the perfect shower for a perfect couple.

Congratulations Lane and Craig!



Filed under Entertain, Weddings

A Vintage Summer Wedding

A couple weekends ago my family and I traveled to St. Louis for our cousin’s wedding.  And boy was I glad I remembered to bring my camera.  I know wedding month has ended, but I just had to share this adorable wedding!

Matt and Candace were married at the St. Louis Zoo in the reptile exhibit.  Then we went over to a local brewery for the amazing reception.  You could really see Matt and Candace in all of the details.

Matthew Jay Photography

When guests walked in they were greeted with a lovely table decorated with pictures, favors and other personal artifacts.

Pictures of their parents and grandparents on their wedding day were hung with clothes pins.

As party favors, guests were asked to take small birdseed treats home to feed the birds.

Instead of using a traditional guest book, Matt and Candace had a tree outlined.  Guests were asked to put their fingerprints on the branches and sign their names by the “leaves.”

Table cards were hung with clothespins on an old vintage window.

Each table had a gorgeous arrangement of wildflowers in old blue mason jars and table numbers adorned with hummingbirds.

Matthew Jay Photography

Congratulations Matt and Candace!  Thanks for letting us share in your special day.

1 Comment

Filed under Weddings

Haute Wedding: Rachel & Shaun

Alas, wedding month has come to a close. We hope you’ve enjoyed the little detour as much as we have! Today we’re throwing in one last wedding (a destination one!) from reader, Rachel, over at The Avid Appetite. Check out her “island elegant” affair:

Bucking the Jersey tradition of lavish factory-type affairs with everyone we’ve ever met, my husband Shaun and I decided to go our own way and got married in Aruba at the Westin Aruba Resort, a family vacation spot for years. We planned a long weekend filled with fun activities and of course, a sunset beach ceremony. And since we have such wonderful family and friends, we had a whopping 80 guests in attendance, one of the biggest weddings Aruba has seen. To plan from far away did mean relinquishing the power of options (minimal photographers and bands to choose from), but just because we got married in a far away place didn’t mean sacrificing an ounce of style or personality.

Since it was a beach wedding, it was easy to carry my favorite color through each and every detail, starting with the invitations which were dark blue, light blue and white.

The week kicked off with the rehearsal dinner that Shaun’s parents hosted for everyone. It was a beach BBQ complete with twinkle lights, bare feet and a DJ. For an extra twist, they handed out pirate gear – bandanas, eye patches and fake gold hoop earrings. After all, nothing says ice-breaker like pirate paraphernalia! Even our dads joined in the fun. By the end of the night, everyone pretty much knew everyone else – a wonderful way to kick off our wedding.

Since we were getting hitched in a foreign country, the powers that be demanded that we make it legal at the county courthouse. The morning of our beach wedding, Shaun and I taxied over with only our parents and siblings for a private ceremony at a gorgeous building in town. My dress for the ceremony was classic, simple and crisp white by Sophia Tolli while Shaun wore a light brown suit. Bonus: I got to rock not 1, but 2 wedding dresses throughout the day!

The theme of the wedding was casual…or island elegant, as I like to call it. It meant no suits but also no shorts. We tried to keep some sense of formality while still taking to the elements. The beach was set with white covered chairs with blue and silver sashes along with a flower-crested archway at the end of the aisle.

I chose shiny, strapless light blue dresses by Jim Hjelm for the bridesmaids while the groomsmen wore dark blue Tommy Bahama shirts with light blue details. The guys wore dark brown boat shoes and the ladies ditched their shoes at the top of the aisle for a barefoot beachy vibe.

Inside the reception, the beach theme carried through to all the details. The flowers were a mix of coral, blue, white and purple, the perfect complement to the girls’ dresses. Table assignments were written on sand dollars and each table featured flowers reminscent of the girls’ bouquets plus blue and white starfish that I had shipped down for the occasion. We even did the matchbook thing, once again showcasing starfish as the signature icon of the night.

The cake was fun and playful in our signature colors. The top was adorned with an H monogram, signifying our last name. The flavor? My favorite chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream.

We knew that a simple favor just wouldn’t do the trick to thank all of our fantastic family and friends for not only attending our wedding, but spending more than a couple of days with us in paradise. In welcome gift bags, we supplied custom t-shirts (which everyone dutifully wore the morning after), bottles of Arubian water and a framed photo of an Arubian Divi Tree, which is a signature icon of the island.

1 Comment

Filed under Weddings

Bridesmaid and Groomsmen Gifts

Many brides and grooms give their wedding party special gifts at the rehearsal dinner to thank them for all of their assistance in planning and participating in the big day.

It was tradition to give the girls jewelry to wear with their dresses and the boys something related to their hobbies.  But why not step outside the box and get your bridal party something they can use on your wedding day and beyond?

Here are some fabulous ideas for your maids:

It is true, you can never go wrong with jewelry, buy why not get creative and go for a fabulous cuff or statement necklace that can also be worn to a day in the office.  If you are getting married in the fall or winter, your girls will surely appreciate a cute shrug, shawl or scarf that they can pair with jeans another day.  Or, get creative and give them a purse or tote filled with fun items for the big day like lip gloss, a hair pins and perfume.

And for the boys, try to get a little creative:

Get the men each a pair of cuff links in a design or pattern that relates to them or a fun pair of argyle socks that express their personality.  Go traditional them each an engraved flask and then go the extra mile to fill it with their favorite liquor.  If you have a slightly higher budget, you could get each of your men a designer watch to wear on the big day.  Or, if you want to give them a gift that they can enjoy all year, get them each a magazine subscription or book that relates to their hobbies and interests.

For all your bridesmaids and groomsmen do for you on your big day, it is only appropriate to reward them with something special!

Leave a comment

Filed under Weddings

Bride on a Budget: DIY Wedding Projects

When someone says sale, I come a-runnin’. Haggling and bartering are not my strong suites, but I can sniff out a good deal from a mile away. And in my opinion, your wedding should be no exception.

I can hear some girls already. “But it is MY big day! The day I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little girl!”

True. But that doesn’t mean that you or any other family members monetarily contributing to the big fiesta need to pawn family heirlooms or sell a car just to make it happen. Now you might not find a coupon in the Sunday paper to take 50% off of your wedding, but if you know where to look for deals and how to save money, you can cut your costs significantly. Saving money is all in the planning and preparation. If you are prepared ahead of time, you can save yourself some money and maybe that gold locket from your Great Aunt Esther.

While I could spend hours writing up advice on how to plan and save money, I thought it would be more fun to share some ideas from around the web. With a little inspiration and a little elbow grease, you can knock out some beautiful and affordable DIY wedding projects and shave hundreds of dollars off the bill. Better yet, your wedding will have your own personal style and you get the gratification of knowing you did it yourself!

Make your own personalized favor tins using this template from The Inspired Bride.

Create covered vases like the ones seen on DIY BrideAllergic to flowers? Fashion fabric wedding pom-poms like those seen on Once Wed.

Add a little extra character with a string art typography wedding sign as seen on The Sweetest Occasion.

Brighten up the evening with luminaria centerpieces a la Martha Stewart.

Other fun ideas?

Go technological and make a creative Save-the-Date video as seen on Broke Ass Bride.

Rent a cake? Seriously, rent a cake. Check out Cake Confidentials.

IPod over a DJ? Deal of the century or disaster? You decide!

If you have any fun DIY wedding projects or fun ways to save some dough for the big day, let us know!

Also, if you are interested in my droning on for hours on how to save money, I’m available if you have the time.

1 Comment

Filed under Weddings

Haute Wedding: Erin & Andy

Today we get a behind-the-scenes on HAP reader, Erin’s, ultra-glam wedding.  Erin, who is also a wedding blogger over at Holy Matrimony! and event artist extraordinaire, also shared her insider tips on enjoying the big day:

On February 27th, 2009 “I” became part of the most spectacular “we”. Finally. Operation Taffeta. The day was crisp, bright and absolutely perfect. I felt a distinct chill in the air as I moved from place to place, a ball of wedding nerves. I felt as if I were floating. My wonderful bridesmaids and my very favorite person in New York City kept me alert and on time. They handed me water when I needed it, an apple when I was hungry and my phone when my Mom called to get a status report. My wedding day was a whirlwind of feelings, satin, laughter, tears and Chanel No. 5.

I am so happy to share a few of my favorite moments with you and a few tips as well!

Andy and I were married at the Astor Hotel here in beautiful Milwaukee. This is, by far my favorite moment of the day. Before the people, before the noise, before the monumental moment I was about to have, this is what I saw. My soul was quiet here, serene. I could breathe.

Tip: Before your ceremony and/or reception starts, let your planner {or venue staff} know that you and your significant other would like some time to be alone in the space, before the guests arrive. Take that moment together and really sink in to your day. Just a few moments of relaxation on such a busy day will go a long way.

Oh the beautiful orchid trees. These were custom designed for us by the geniuses at Milwaukee’s Urban Sense. We decided on an art deco theme. We pulled inspiration from movies, architecture, photos and advertisements of the age. I had seen calla lilies numerous times in my research and was simply dying to use them. Little did I know that an orchid fiend was living inside me. After about 30 minutes at Urban Sense, Dan said “orchid trees” to me and I was in love. As I walked down that aisle, clinging nervously to the arm of my father, I felt as though I was walking through some of my favorite old movies.

Tip: You can find inspiration in all aspects of life. All you need is a little vision and guidance to help bring it out. Choose vendors that you trust. Take a little time to get to know them and, in addition to helping bring your vision alive, you just might find a friend.

All of our paper goods were custom designed by my very good friend and bridesmaid. My orchid obsession grew exponentially during the planning of the wedding. They were everywhere – bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, you name it. Allison took our flower and incorporated it into our wedding suite. Our program held a quiet beauty for me. It’s an oft forgotten piece that for me, was therapeutic. I dedicated our day to my grandmother. I lost her the summer before the wedding and was struggling with it more than I ever thought possible. I wrote a short piece for her and included it in the pages of the program.

Tip: Choose an invite suite that is uniquely yours. Let the paper elements of your wedding help create the atmosphere. Everything from the save the date to the thank you card should help you convey the feeling of your wedding.

This is part of our “guest book”. As a child, my father built a wishing well on our farm. It was amazing. Every year, my Mom would fill it with impatiens. I would play by it for hours. I imagined jumping into it and collecting all the wishes at the bottom and making them come true, mine included. So, I made “wishing well” and we asked our guests to write wishes on pieces of wrapping paper and throw them in. We were wished the most beautiful things! The whole thing including the pictured tray cost me twenty dollars and was easily the best twenty dollars I spent.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to bend those wedding “rules”. The moments and memories of our lives shape us into the fabulous people we are, so it stands to reason that our weddings should be a celebration of those people and not a time to conform to stodgy rules. Your wedding is the biggest party you’ll throw so have fun with it!

The Dress. I swear my mom and I stood there staring at it for hours. I asked her about a hundred times if she liked. She told me at least a hundred times it was the most beautiful dress she’d ever seen. I chose a dropped waist, halter top gown with a modest three-foot train, a total bargain with designer Mori Lee. My heart nearly stopped the first time I slipped it on. I knew. I just knew.

Tip: Be sure to order your dress at least 6 months prior to the wedding. A quality dress takes at least two to four months to finish. And ladies, I cannot emphasize enough, the importance of alterations. Trust me. That dress has to be beautiful and comfortable. Most importantly, remember that you are perfect just as you are. When you look in that mirror, find only good things.

This little work of art from Eat Cake! is….well, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever eaten. Or shoved in my Husband’s face, for that matter. Layers of red velvet and spice cake separated by vanilla buttercream frosting and raspberry filling. So good!

Tip: Make time to eat. It may sound silly but with all that schmoozing, dancing and general living it up, you will get hungry. You have a long night ahead of you and a little time with your new Hubbs will be just what you need to get that second wind.

Here they are, the five most gorgeous girls in that room. I’m sure every bride says this, but my bridesmaids really were the best in the history of ever. I asked them to wear black but that is where my involvement with their attire ended. They each have such a spark and a unique beauty that I never could have turned them into carbon copies of each other.

Tip: Brides, try letting your bridesmaids choose their own day of attire. Give them a color, brand or type of fabric to maintain some order, but let them run with it. You chose them because they mean the world to you, right? Why not let your guests see their wonderful personalities mirrored in their style?

And finally, me! We chose Front Room Photography and couldn’t have made a better choice. I am self-conscious about my body and appearance but Neil was so gentle and caring I was able to forget everything and just felt beautiful. My birdcage veil and fascinator were made by Brenda’s Bridal Veils, and my stylist/hair-goddess used clip in extensions to give me some length. I gave retro a go and I think it turned out all right.

Tip: Do a hair and makeup trial a couple of weeks before the wedding. Make sure it’s exactly want you want and can withstand the day. A word about makeup…make sure it looks like you, just an ever so slightly more fab version of you.

Our wedding was incredible! I am so lucky to be Andy’s wife and I am so excited to be on this journey with him. From the moment the prelude started to the last dance, it was the best day of my life…so far!

Photos: Front Room Photograpy

1 Comment

Filed under Weddings

Saying ‘I Do’ to a Destination Wedding

In a former day-job life, Colleen researched, worked and helped to develop a destination wedding blog for a travel company. Although she’s recently switched gigs, she’s still got a lot to share on the subject. For more general travel recommendations and creative inspiration, you can check out Colleen’s blog, flee fly flown.

He popped the question, you said, “Yes!” you both decided on a destination wedding, what next? A traditional beach wedding somewhere warm with friends and family? On a vineyard in Napa? A private affair across an ocean?

Photo by Maurice Ramirez, based in San Francisco,

When it comes to destination weddings, the world is your oyster. When deciding on where and to what scale yours will be, here are a few things to consider:

* Guests: While choosing a destination wedding may seem cheaper for you as the couple getting married, consider your guests upon determining when and where you’ll be having your nuptials. When guests plan on attending a destination wedding, they’re committing more financially than they might have if attending a wedding closer to home. If planning a wedding at an all-inclusive resort somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean, chances are your guests will plan to get a little relaxation time in, along with the festivities. Finding the balance between an action-packed wedding getaway versus time for guests to relax and get to know each other should also be considered.

* Cost: A destination wedding is often cheaper for the bride and groom to put together. Many beach destination hotels and resorts have wedding planners on staff that will put all of the details together for you, no matter how large or small the wedding. When determining which hotel, resort or other venue in your destination of choice, inquire into their wedding planning services and costs.

Planning something a little more off the beaten path? You may not find as many venues with on staff wedding planners, but wedding planning services are most likely available in some shape and form. Consider a wedding planner who specializes in destination weddings or work with a travel agent who has put together other destination weddings.

Also, consider the cost of what your guests will be paying. By having a destination wedding, it’s often cheaper for the bride and groom, but the cost for your guests jumps up. Also, be sure to invite your guests further out from the wedding that you would at home. This allows for better planning and budgeting for your guests.

* Time of Year: You’re planning to escape from the cold and snow, to a warm and sunny destination to get married. Great! But not all warm climates have the same warm seasonality. Consider things like hurricane season in the Caribbean (typically June through November) or the rainy season in Hawaii (typically November to March). Note: There’s no guarantee the weather will be perfect even if you avoid the inclement seasons, but it’s good to consider as you’re deciding when and where to have your wedding.

* Scale: Just an intimate wedding for two built into the beginning of your honeymoon? Or a big beach bash with 150 of your closest friends and family? When deciding the scale of your wedding, consider how you’ll manage the outlying factors. Maybe you and your husband-to-be really want to keep it a private affair, but want to find a way to celebrate with friends and family as well. Consider having a lower-budget reception or celebration upon your return. That way, the two of you get the best of both worlds. Also, consider the amount of people you are able to reserve rooms for at the resort or hotel at which you’ve chosen to block rooms.

* Besides the wedding: When traveling for a destination wedding, your guests are all in one place for more than one day. Consider what other activities you’ll be providing for your guests to make the trip even more special. Will everyone be invited to the rehearsal dinner? Will there be a day-after brunch? What about a special guided tour around the island? How about welcome gifts and buttons for guests to identify each other so they know who else is attending the wedding?

* Travel: It’s not expected for the bride and groom, or their families, to pay for their guests’ flights or hotel rooms when hosting a destination wedding. However, do consider the price that they will have to pay when working with a resort and definitely consider flight schedules, cost and accessibility to your chosen destination when determining your wedding spot.

Also, be sure your wedding party plans their arrivals with plenty of wiggle room. A destination wedding can wait for no one. If the groom or a bridesmaid plans to arrive just a few hours before the wedding and has a flight canceled thanks to weather, there isn’t much that can be done about it. Of course these things can happen no matter where you get married, but when everyone is traveling to a destination, it’s best to plan for extra travel time for just in case of unexpected delays.

* Wardrobe: There are definitely a few things to consider when determining both yours and your wedding party’s destination wedding day wardrobe. For one, heat. Are you going to make the groomsmen wear a heavy 3-piece suit or coat and tails in 95-degree weather? Are your bridesmaids expected to wear heels on the beach? Are you planning on carrying a heavy, ball gown-style wedding dress on the plane and squishing it into the overhead compartment?

If you’re the no-frills, keep-it-simple bride, some of these issues may not even be a problem, but for those of you who want it all, keep packing logistics and temperatures in mind.

Photo by Laura Grier, of Beautiful Day Photography, Venice, CA,

Of course this is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planning a destination wedding. For much more detailed and far more expert advice, start with these resources and determine what works for you and your groom:

* Destination I Do
* Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Magazine
* World Weddings
* The Europe Wedding Guide
* Dresses designed for destination weddings
* 40 Destination Wedding Dresses for Any Budget
* Ultimate Destination Weddings

Also, be sure to check the Tourist Board of the destination you choose, chances are they have local planning resources available on their website.

Photo by Serena Lee of Serena & Jason Photography, based in Santa Barbara, CA,

Congratulations on your engagement and happy destination wedding planning!

– Colleen

1 Comment

Filed under Haute Destinations, Weddings