Cocktail Series: Turtle Doves

We knew there was a reason we loved Yahoo! Shine. But this month they gave us a dozen new reasons with the article "12 Days of Cocktails." Here's one we think you can whip up to toast the new year, even though the "second day of Christmas" has passed:

Turtle Doves

2 oz Van Gogh Vanilla Vodka
2 oz Hazelnut liqueur
1 oz Amaretto
1-1/2 oz Cream or Creme de Cacao

What to do:
Rim martini glass with cinnamon and sugar crystals (or white chocolate flakes) and set aside. Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into the martini glass.

And before you ask- yes, there IS a Partridge in a Pear Tree. Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Wordless Wednesday: Dazzling Destination

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Courtesy of Vision Photography

Destination: Bouquet Inspiration

Floral designer Minoo Hersini created this bouquet using blue hydrangea, leucocoryne, marianne blue anemone, sea shells, starfish, panicum fountain grass and french ribbon. Perfect for a beach or destination wedding.

Caribbean Splendor on the Chesapeake

- by Lisa
This year, I have been blessed with lots of firsts. This was my very first beach wedding – and it was fabulous! What a beautiful site on the Eastern Shore - light filled, airy, spacious and beautiful – the most perfect setting for a most perfect wedding! This sophisticated bride wore the most perfect gown for a beach wedding – it was a nice, light and simple - ivory in color. She finished off her look with a simple yet sophisticated cage veil.

Celebrating her Caribbean heritage she walked down the aisle to the sound of steel drums. She looked absolutely stunning as she exchanged vows overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. The ceremony was short but meaningful - the highlight being the Sand ceremony – which not only represented two souls being joined as one, but the coming together of two families.

While the newly married couple took pictures on the beach, their guests enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres, and the sounds of steel drums, as they watched the sun reflect from the water’s edge.

As their 150 guests moved from the cocktail hour which was draped in pink, to the light filled reception which was draped in crisp ivory, they were treated to a robust meal and live music.

The festive evening moved quickly (as it always does) and before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. As they did at each moment of their wedding day, the couple said their goodbyes in grand style – waving from a yacht which brought them to their wedding night hotel.

Photography by

Wedding Gown of the Day: Mori Lee

by Mori Lee
Style #3036
This gown is made of delicate chiffon with lace and comes in ivory or white.

Preston Bailey Invitations

One of the country's premier event designers is now a top-notch invitation designer as well. Preston Bailey recently launched his first invitation collection exclusively at . Much like his wedding decor, the invitations are bursting with flowers, joy and color.

The invitations range between $2 and $4 each. Get more information by visiting . So what do you think, so far? Tell us now by clicking on "comments".

Thanksgiving Rules 0f 2009

Just for Chuckles. Mostly.
Submitted by HitOrMiss65

1. Don't get in line asking questions about the food. "Who made the potato salad? Is it egg in there? Are the greens fresh? Is the meat in the greens turkey or pork? Who made the macaroni and cheese? What kind of pie is that? Who made it?"

2. If you are in any way physically challenged, sit your self down until someone makes your plate for you. Dinner time is not the time for you to be independent. Nibble on those pecans and walnuts over there to hold you over until someone makes you a plate.

3. If you have kids under the age of twelve, I will escort their little behinds to the table and direct them where to sit. They are to sit in the family room watching television until I tell them it's OK to move.

4. There is going to be one prayer for Thanksgiving dinner! JUST ONE! The time limit for the prayer is one minute.

5. Finish everything on your plate before you go up for seconds! If you don't, you will be cursed out and asked to stay your greedy self home next year!

6. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD CONTAINER!! Don't let me catch you fixing yourself a plate in my CONTAINERS knowing that I will never see it again! Furthermore, if you didn't bring any FOOD over, don't let me catch you making a TO GO period or WE will HAVE A BIG misunderstanding.

7. What you came with is what you should leave with!! Do not leave my house with anything that doesn't belong to you. Don't let me catch you rolling in a Coleman cooler to take more than your share. EVERYBODY WILL BE SUBJECTED TO A BODY SEARCH COMING AND GOING OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!

8. Do not leave your kids so you can go hopping from house to house. This is not a DAYCARE CENTER! There will be a kid-parent roll call every ten minutes. Any parent that is not present at the time of roll call, your child will be put outside until you come and get him or her. After 24 hours, I will call Child Welfare Services.

9. BOOK YOUR HOTEL ROOM BEFORE YOU COME INTO TOWN!! There will be no sleeping over at my house! You are to come and eat dinner and take your self home or to your hotel room. EVERYBODY GETS KICKED OUT AT 10:00 pm. You will get a 15 minute warning bell ring.

10. Last but not least! ONE PLATE PER PERSON!! This is not a soup kitchen. I am not trying to feed your family until Christmas dinner! You will be supervised when you fix your plate. Anything over the appropriate amount will be charged to you before you leave. There will be a cash register at the door. Thanks to ________ and his greedy family, we now have a credit card machine! So VISA and MASTERCARD are now being accepted. NO AMERICAN EXPRESS OR DEBIT CARDS... YET!

Receiving Line Etiquette

-by Lisa
The receiving line is a lovely tradition. It gives the couple, their parents and wedding party the opportunity to great all guests. In a large wedding, this may be the only opportunity for guests to offer their congratulations to the newlyweds. The receiving line traditionally takes place at the reception, but can also take place at in the Church vestibule or on the stairs right outside - time permitting. A church is the ideal location to hold your receiving line, if all guests are not invited to the reception. As an alternative to the receiving line at the Church, the Bride and Groom can re-enter after the processional to greet guests as they exit the church - which eliminates awkwardness if the parents are divorced or do not wish to participate in a formal receiving line.

Participants of the receiving line are as follows:

Receiving line without fathers

1. Mother of the Bride
2. Mother of the Groom
3. Bride
4. Groom
5. Maid or Matron of Honor (if you have both, the Matron of Honor comes first)
6. Bridesmaids (in order of age)

Receiving line with fathers

1. Mother of the Bride
2. Father of the Groom
3. Mother of the Groom
4. Father of the Bride
5. Bride
6. Groom
5. Maid or Matron of honor (if you have both, the Matron of Honor comes first)
6. Bridesmaids (in order of age)

Who you include in your receiving line is up to you. I often suggest that you eliminate wedding party members (Bridesmaids and Maid/Matron of Honor) to save time. Ultimately, your guests want to speak to you and your parents. It’s totally acceptable not to include Fathers, and instead they can circulate amongst the crowed. If Mothers are remarried, Stepfathers can be included if you wish.

Just as some line tips.

1. As stated above, only include the essential members - so that your guests do not face a long and tedious wait.

2. Serve refreshments to your guests while they wait.
3. Conversation should be brief but pleasant.

4. The Bride (and Bridesmaids if included) should keep the bouquet in their left hands, or place it to the side while in the line.

5. Any accessories worn during the ceremony should be worn in the receiving line (hats, gloves, etc).

6. The Bride can kiss those guests which she knows well; otherwise a handshake is appropriate.

Some couples elect to eliminate the receiving line, instead, circulating with their guests throughout the reception. If you choose to eliminate the receiving line, you have the responsibility of greeting each and every guest at the reception.

Need Vintage Inspiration?

-by Erica

If so, look no further than the blog of B Vikki Vintage. Vikki is a young researcher working on an entire series dedicated to vintage black weddings - a girl after my own heart! She already has two jubilant, ultra-inspiring and beautiful posts that make you want to locate all those forgotten family photo albums. Be sure to check her out.

Seasonal Centerpieces: Part 1

- by Brittiny

Silver bells...
Silver bells...
It's Christmas time in the City...

In honor of the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, I'm planning a series of inspiration boards dedicated to Christmas. Let's begin with the centerpieces, which in my eyes definitely lay the atmosphere for your tablescape.

Here, I have chosen to go with apothecary jars because they can do double duty as your candy buffet for your wedding! However, if you have received three billion four hundred eighty six million two candlesticks as wedding gifts, why not keep a few and use them as holders for a few well appointed ornaments to create the eclectic and sophisticated centerpieces pictured on the upper right? The same look can easily be achieved by hunting (or "stalking", like me) the Dollar Tree, Goodwill, or thrift stores in your area. The branch centerpiece can also easily be replicated by going to your yard or the park and gathering great branches. Hang a few ornaments from it, stick it in a glass vase and you're done. You can dress it up with a ribbon and a vintage brooch if it suits your taste. Happy Hunting! Next week we will focus on finding luxurious table linens for an affordable price.

Planning Your Wedding: Indoors or Out?

by guest blogger Aurelie

When the weather is warm, an outdoor wedding can seem very appealing. One advantage is that renting space outdoors is cheaper and easier than renting space inside. There's also more room for guests, entertainment and activities. Receptions can range from casual cook-outs in the park to elaborately catered outdoor galas.

Another benefit is flexibility. You don't have to reserve space months in advance, and there's little competition for space. You also have more choices for your setting. Beaches, gardens and mountain tops are just the beginning. And outdoor weddings give you the option of interactive games like volleyball or baseball in place of dancing.

Although outdoor weddings can be subject to bugs, sun, rain, and uninvited guests, these problems can be minimized by renting a large tent or canopy sufficient to shelter food, tables and guests who prefer shade. Tents can also save the day in case of rain. A private or secluded spot will eliminate uninvited visitors, while bugs can be minimized by placing citronella candles around the wedding area and providing insect repellent for guests.
Outdoor weddings are a good choice if you are spontaneous, like to improvise, and are open to surprise. Just don’t drop the diamond wedding rings, as they will be much harder to find in the grass! But if you want a meticulously planned wedding that goes like clockwork, you may want to stay indoors.

Indoor weddings have the advantage of providing reliable shelter from bad or cold weather. If your wedding will be very large, it's probably best to hold it inside. Indoor weddings give you the option of formal dress, and you get to have dancing and a band. For very stylized and choreographed weddings with lots of structure, indoors is best. Indoor weddings are also more private. And some clergy will only perform ceremonies in a house of worship.
You can also have it both ways. Hold the ceremony in a church and have the reception outside. Some churches and chapels are situated on land you can rent for an outdoor reception. Guests can dress up for the ceremony and bring a casual change of clothes for the reception.

Or have your ceremony outdoors and hold the reception at an inside venue nearby. Parks and beaches often include or adjoin sites that can be rented for special events, and are close enough so guests can walk from one location to another.

Band Versus DJ

- Lisa
This is not about whether a band or a DJ is better. When it comes to this topic, there is not one that’s better than the other. It’s about making the best choice for you, your wedding and your guests.
The entertainment portion is extremely important to the success of your event. If your reception is one where music and dancing central, you will find that this will be the most important decision that you will make. It is clearly apparent when your guests are not being entertained because it becomes awkward if your band or DJ cannot get people on the dance floor. You will soon see that your guests become bored and begin leaving – en mass. Not good. So, I want to address some of the items you need to think about when you are debating between hiring a band or a DJ.

1. You need to think about you and your fiancĂ©’s musical tastes. Are both you and your fiancĂ© similar? Do you like one musical genre over the other, or do you like music from all across the board? Do you like hearing the music in its pure form (from the artist)? If you enjoy the music and are inspired to dance, your guests will follow suit - even if it’s not exactly their taste. It’s amazing how your guests will follow your lead. If you are not on the dance floor, it’s more difficult to motivate them to dance. If you are not motivated y the music, you will not dance.

2. What are the ages of your guests (average) or is your crowd mixed? If they are older, perhaps music from an older era would work better than the new stuff. Younger people might enjoy 90’s music, while an older crowed might not have as much appreciation. Depending upon your crowd, 80’s music might work for everyone.

3. Ethnicity – is our crowed mixed or largely one ethnic group over another? For instance, at a Korean wedding, one might have a higher percentage of Korean guests. Therefore, you might need someone who knows Korean music and is familiar with Korean customs.

4. What is your budget? Do you have an entertainment budget of $1,500.00 or $6,000.00+? Bands are significantly more expensive than DJ’s. It’s just not the outright fee. It’s more expensive to feed 7 people than it is to feed 1 or 2. Band contracts often require that beer/alcohol be available to band members, which is unheard of for a DJ (make sure you read those contracts closely). In the Washington DC and New England areas, you should expect to pay at least $5,000.00 for a good 5-6 person band. The cost goes up as you add pieces and also the popularity of the band.

5. There are pros and cons to both set-ups. There is something totally cool about live music. A band really puts people in the partying mood. I have never had an unsuccessful reception when there was a great band. A band lights up the room.
But bands are also less versatile than DJ’s. You have to find the band that best fits you and your guests. They come with playlists, and you must choose songs off the playlist. If you have a special song that’s not on the list, be prepared to pay the band (above and beyond their fee) to learn it. If you want an obscure version of a song played, you might have a hard time. Bands can always play CD’s, and do during their breaks between sets. Bands have finite time for playing. If you are extending – be prepared for pricey extension fees.

DJ’s are wonderful too. I love a great DJ who knows how to read a crowed and therefore, knows what to play! With a DJ, your possibilities are only limited by your imagination – and iTunes. If you have a special song, it can be downloaded. Not to worry about obscure versions of your first dance song. A good DJ will know how to find it! With a DJ, you can also go across the board with music. You can play a little rap, a little light rock, R&B, and big band – whatever. You are not limited to defined playlists.

In my humble opinion, the best of all is to have both. The band plays and the DJ plays during the band breaks and after the band ends (if you are extending late into the evening). They work together beautifully!

Wordless Wednesday: Shani & Lakai

- by Erica

Shani and Lakai Worrell
Brooklyn, New York
Courtesy of Becky Holladay Photography

Inspiration: Taste of Spring 2010

- by Brittiny Mays

It's cool right now, but Spring will be here before you know it. These florals are fresh, fun and flirty, and the sky is as blue as the sea. Kelli Magliucca is gorgeous fresh and pretty in a tea length gown from Gabrielle's salon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The only things missing are the mint juleps!

Stay tuned next week when we will take a departure from the usual bridal fun and elegance and delve into holiday soirees.


CC.Elaine: Bridal Gowns for the Curvies

- by Erica
This week, we chatted with designer CC.Elaine about her new line of bridal gowns designed specifically for women with curves. The collection is called Femme Luxe and includes sizes 12-32. In addition to being made with sumptuous fabrics and details, each gown also has a corset-style body shaper built right into the foundation. The entire collection will be available just after the new year. But take a look sneak peak at what's in store from this Indianapolis-based designer.

Flower Power

- by Lisa
Ah… floral arrangements. One of my favorite subjects! I just love to decorate with flowers. Fresh flowers make a wedding so romantic. The right blooms in the right amounts can also make your wedding stand out from all the others.
When I plan a wedding, I could go on and on and on with flowers! The right flowers can really enhance a theme. Of course, decorating with flowers alone, can be, and is – a very expensive proposition. I am going to talk about how to use flowers to your advantage to set off the feeling and theme of your wedding – without breaking the bank.
We cannot talk about flowers without talking about theme because everything must compliment the theme of your wedding. This would include flowers, linen, food, invitations, number of guests –everything. If everything does not compliment, your event becomes jumbled and non-cohesive. You also must look at your budget realistically. A black tie wedding with heavy- upgraded linens, 5 course meal, and elaborate flower arrangements for 200 people – is not going to work with a 30K budget – at least not in the DC/Baltimore area. Also, you must realize that you do not have to have a black tie wedding to have something extremely nice and elegant. Any themed wedding can be very nice and elegant – as long as it’s cohesive from beginning to end.

For a more casual fun affair, think about fun arrangements in vibrant colors. Some flowers choices that may work would be Sweat Peas, tulips, Baby’s Breath, lily of the valley and a variety of grasses. Think about Gerber Daisies to add some color, and Peonies, Hydrangea, Dahlias to add some girth. Put your blooms in fun containers (a basket for a country affair, a seashell for a beachy theme, a fresh pot for a springy theme) and feel free to play with different shaped containers, tables and the like. For instance, submerge cut fruits and other tropical fruits in glass vase, with some lighter blooms protruding out of the top. Opt for a floral headpiece rather than a formal veil. Keep things light, airy, fresh – but always coordinated throughout.

For a Fall affair, I like to use darker flowers, with vegetables, husks, wheat, and hay – to honor the harvest. For winter, try some Manzanita branches, or curly willow, hypericum berries, holly, wreathes with white and blue florals – or maybe red and orange for the holiday. For spring, wild flowers are great for a fresh wedding. Tulips are beautiful fully blown open and make a stunning presentation. Peonies are great. For summer, try something colorful, but more formal – like roses of all varieties. Gardenia is very nice – would work well as a floating bloom – but also offers lots of fragrance. If you are sensitive to smells, then this bloom is not for you.

For a more formal affair, try roses, ranunculus, all varieties of lilies (calla, etc), orchids, stephanotis and the like- in darker more subdued colors. Hydrangea also looks very nice as its size makes arrangements fuller. For a formal space that could use some height, think about tall or tall and short more formed arrangements (less airy – more roundy moundy) and incorporate elegant and elaborate candlelight.
I have total respect for floral designers. I wish I had the creativity and ability to work with, arrange and store flowers properly. Make sure you find a floral designer who has the ability to work with lots of budgets. I say this lightly, most designers I know work on the same principle – the more you get, the more you pay. The less you get, the less you pay. You have to be realistic.

Flowers are expensive- but much of the expense comes in the design and handling. I can see very clearly the difference between professionals and amateurs in the way the flowers are designed, and the way they last through the day.
The additional cost is worth it. With the right choices, you do not need a lot. Do you want my opinion? Flowers are a pain to work with-I know from experience. Leave it to the professionals.

Floral arrangement is designed by Randy Woods of Wicked Willow.

Wordless Wednesday: Rebirth of Cool

- by Erica

Courtesy of Kari and Carlton Mackey
VISION Photography
Atlanta, Georgia

Wedding 2010 Color Scape

- by Brittiny Mays

I know that the Northern winds are blowing in, but that means proposals and new engagements will begin! In anticipation of summer weddings, I'm introducing my twist of the colorscape that Martha modernized:aqua and poppy. The center tablescape is my own. Remember, don't be afraid of color, you can always tone it down with a basic like black or white if it's too modern for you! This is a fresh and new version of the traditional summer garden wedding!

(Click image to expand.)

Kellie Williams Ties the Knot

Sure, most people know her better as Laura Winslow of TV's "Family Matters." But if you needed any more proof that Kellie Williams is all grown up, read on. Last month, she married Hannibal Jackson at Ebenezer in Fort Washington, Maryland. The couple is just now release images of their special day, but what a story they have to share!

Get more details about Kellie's nuptials at the

Wordless Wednesday: Paradise

Photo by Monica Z Photography
Jamaica, West Indies

Wedding Gown of the Week: Priscilla Costa

This dress is called "Bella Fuxico". It is handmade with silk taffeta, organza, and swarovski crystals by Priscilla Costa of Brazil.

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