Oh Happy Day!

Hi Friends!!

I am overjoyed to announce that our new website and blog have launched! We will no longer be posting here, but will be sharing new and exciting content centered on our ‘why’ as a company over HERE!

 

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Thank you for following along the past year plus and we hope you’ll join us at our new online home!

xoxo,

Jenn

New Look!

Happy Monday Lovelies!

I know it’s been quiet over on the blog lately and we miss y’all. However, this is all because we have been busy bees in the HHE office working on some updates to the website and the blog. Not to mention our timing falls right over the start to a busy wedding season!

We so greatly appreciate your patience while we work out all of the kinks and get everything running smoothly for you over the next few weeks. In the mean time, head on over to our social media to keep up with all of our daily happenings!!

Here’s a little sneak peek of what’s to come:

HHE SPLASH_2

 

Gilded Baroque Romance

Oh, my heart lovelies! I cannot express how excited I am and  how incredibly blessed I feel to do what I do and to love it so darn much! Last Friday, an inspiration shoot I styled with an amazing group of vendors was featured on Swooned blog- over here!!!

Yes, I’m exclamation happy, doing my happy dance and beaming with smiles right now! Who would have thought that a cup of coffee and a mutual love for romance and all things lovely would lead to something so full of passion and gorgeous? This shoot was born out of a discussion of at least ten other ideas and my love for music, tradition and ball gowns. Oh, and the color blue! With the idea to do a “Something Blue” shoot with a twist, the obvious choice was to go with the “old, new, borrowed, blue”, but I wanted to dig into that and figure out what that really meant to me. I came across some Baroque inspiration and history of the rhyme, then my mind went crazy– blue like the sky; gold like the sun highlighting gorgeous gilded architecture; romantic flowers and a drop dead gorgeous bride all dressed for a ball. Sounds like a great basis for a wedding design to me!

Grab something to sip on and stay a while, this one gets pretty long darlings. There’s just too much pretty to share!

carolynannphoto025The Veteran’s Memorial Ballroom was the perfect venue, with floor to ceiling windows, neutral walls trimmed in the most amazing hand carved detail and finished in crisp white – so swoon worthy! It was a match made in heaven. Oh and did I mention, the views of downtown add that perfect modern urban touch I love?

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An invitation suite is the first impression guests have of your wedding. The suite Andrea at AC Design created was so stunning! The hand painted watercolor on acrylic paper with gold details are more than I envisioned. The silhouettes are so fun and a bit of a modern twist, if you look closely at their hairstyles. Andrea also made the table numbers. We decided to have a combination of numbers and names to mix things up a bit. Why not name tables after favorite Baroque composers?  Another detail to add an extra luxe touch was gold wax seal. The nostalgic details just speak to my heart.

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Spielman’s Event Services provided the linens and other rentals to pull the design together. Kelly and her team are such a joy to work with and always have what I need. Candles are always romantic, so we gathered some gold leaf pillar candles for our alternate centerpiece and accented them with vintage candleholders. Imagine that ambience as the sun sets!

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There were so many layers to the table settings to add that opulent and luxurious feeling. One of my favorite elements is the place cards with handmade sheet music tags and calligraphy by Genevieve at Blush Papier.

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Alason at Vintage Farmhouse Rentals had the perfect collection of antique goblets that added to the collected elegance of the tablescape. The design was created with the idea that some of the pieces, like the glassware and candlesticks, were passed down from family and were that older touch.

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The beautiful floral centerpiece was the finishing touch on the table and added extra romance. Angela from the Flower Shop at Cedar Memorial worked magic. I actually found her two days before the shoot, believe it or not. She understood my vision and made it come to life even more beautifully that I could have imagined. The arrangement and bouquet included Hydrangea, Roses, Wax Flower, Stock, blue Delphinium, Anemones, Tulips, Seeded Eucalyptus and Italian Ruscus. Adding the gilded apples and some gold painted greens added just enough glamour.

View More: http://carolynannphotography.pass.us/somethingblue

Anne at Classic Cakes by Design is such an artist. I showed her my inspiration boards, which she then combined and improved upon to create the absolute perfect cake design for this shoot. I audibly gasped when she sent me a photo. She is one of those people that can see a picture or hear a slew of adjectives, et voila- she designs something better than I even dreamed up myself.

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Speaking of beautiful goodies. Berries and fruit tarts were common desserts and knew that I needed to have some of those as details and a pop of color. That’s where Julianna at Sweet Satisfaction Bakery came in. Her baked goods are always so delicious and beautiful. I knew this would be no exception and called her right away. They were the perfect accent and tasted absolutely amazing.

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The jewelry and accessories were provided by Hope’s Bridal. The jewelry is designed by Meg Jewelry. They were perfectly ornate and felt like they were family pieces, while still adding a bit of a modern day flair.

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Redhead Salon’s Morgan and Lindsey did hair and make up on our lovely model, Megan. WOWZA! I asked for romantic and editorial- well hello! I sure got it. They were so much fun, brought the music to the party and had amazing energy all day. We were lucky enough to be able to work in two looks. Going from romantic to sleek and modern was so fun and they made it happen effortlessly!

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As usual, the staff at Hope’s Bridal was amazing and provided two gorgeous gowns. The looks both worked with the design, but were totally different. We used the amazing Essence ball gown for a soft, romantic look, my personal favorite. The other was a sleek, modern, and curvy fit and flare dress by Martina Liana.

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There wasn’t a moment of this process that didn’t get me fired up! A big thank you to every, single vendor and friend that had a hand in making this a reality. Carolyn, thank you for capturing this so beautifully both on digital and film! Last, but certainly not least, thank you, thank you, thank you to Swooned for loving this little piece of our hearts and sharing it with your readers!!!

Happy Wednesday my lovelies!

xoxo- Jenn

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PHOTOGRAPHY: CAROLYN ANN PHOTOGRAPHY // LOCATION: VETERANS MEMORIAL BUILDING // EVENT DESIGN AND PLANNING: HARPER HADLEY EVENTS // FLOWERS: THE FLOWER SHOP AT CEDAR MEMORIAL // CAKE: CLASSIC CAKES BY DESIGN // DESSERTS: SWEET SATISFACTION BAKERY // LINENS AND RENTALS: SPIELMAN’S EVENT SERVICES // VINTAGE RENTALS: FARMHOUSE VINTAGE // BRIDE’S DRESS: HOPE’S BRIDAL // HAIR: MORGAN HOLTZ OF THE REDHEAD HAIR SALON // MAKEUP: LINDSEY FABER OF THE REDHEAD HAIR SALON // JEWELRY: MEG JEWELRY // PAPER GOODS: AC DESIGN // CALLIGRAPHY: BLUSH PAPIER BY GENEVIEVE //MODEL: MEGAN SNYDER

Heart & Soul

Today’s inspiration is a departure from what you normally see from me. I have always been drawn to art in all of its forms. Not just pretty images, but the kind that make you stop and really feel something — they have been grabbing me lately. So, for any of you seeing this, I hope it makes you feel something wonderful, as this ballerina did for me.

Ballerina Bride Art

{ Dust Jacket Attic tumblr | Matchbox Magazine | Magnolia Rouge }

True art awakens the soul and speaks for itself. Enjoy darlings and have a fabulous Tuesday!

xoxo- Jenn

Fave 5: Business Edition & a Feature!

Happy Friday indeed, loves!

We are so humbled and excited to be featured on Swooned today. I will post more about that next week, but take a look here!

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With everything we’ve been doing in the HHE office lately, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tools and references to keep me organized. There are so many things that are helpful in staying organized, but these are my mainstays. Some of these tools are even contributors to some big changes coming up!

Fave 5 Biz

Powersheets: I’d be lost without these lovelies from Lara Casey! They keep me on track and constantly remind me of my core and why I do things. When I feel overwhelmed, these are the pages I turn to, in conjunction with the Word.

Planning Pod: Y’all, I can’t even express how much I love this software/app! I’ve been using it for 3 weeks and every single day it proves more amazing. It keeps everything in one spot, connects my clients with the same information without umpteen email attachments, helps me manage my backend (finances, invoices, proposals, etc.) and even has electronic signature contracts that connect to PayPal! Once I’ve delved in further and have been using it longer, I’ll likely write a full post about it. Serious nerd alert on this one!

Spotify Playlists: You know I love music, it inspires me, helps me focus and is just plain fun. This week I’ve been head over heels for the new Sara Bareilles album, particularly this song, here.

Emily Ley printables: Between the client notes and daily schedule pages, I am able to plan out my days and agendas for meetings with a completely simplified approach. These are wonderful for me to take to consults and client meetings. Along with my Simplified Planner and Planning Pod on my ipad, meetings are so much more organized. The daily planners are so helpful on days I need to stay on schedule. I can allot myself blocks of time to tackle my list and when time is up, I move on. Emily, thank you for these!

B is for Bonnie “Navigating Entrepreneurship” series: Last, but certainly not least, this series on Bonnie’s blog is amazing! If you are a small business owner, you should go read this now! She covers everything from your ideal client, dreaming, and community to boundaries, time management and general tips for good business. Some of it is common sense that you just need to hear sometimes and other bits are new perspectives. Either way, all of it is helpful!

Do any of you use some or all of these tools? If so, I’d love to hear any tips or comments on your experiences!

xoxo- Jenn

 

disclaimer: all of these tool/product reviews are unsolicited and Harper Hadley Events received no sponsorship or payment to discuss them.

Anatomy of a Welcome Bag

Imagine traveling 12+ hours to a wedding, in a city you’ve never been to, and arriving to a thoughtful welcome package in your hotel room. Amazing and personal, right? Wedding Welcome bags are not a new idea, but they are certainly getting more extravagant and almost a checklist must these days. So how do you know what to put in one or how lavish to make yours, if you choose to do so?

Have no fear my darlings, it’s really quite simple and completely dependent on your wishes, as with most anything regarding your wedding!

When compiling your welcome bag, think through the experience you want your guests to have and what is vital for them to have that weekend. Similarly to how your invitation sets the tone for your wedding, as the first thing guests see, a welcome bag will set the scene for the weekend. It will be the first part of the experience they get when they arrive in town.

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After a long day of travel, a snack and fun beverage is always welcome, so they don’t have to worry about where to get a snack later in the evening. A map from the hotel to both your ceremony and reception locations will save time and confusion for anyone driving themselves around town. Also be sure to include a list of restaurants and fun things to do around town. Even though the hotel staff can help advise your guests, you know them best and might even have some local spots that the desk staff won’t recommend. It’s always a great idea to include contact information and information for the wedding day, such as timeline and any traffic reminders, etc. that will help the day run more smoothly.

When it comes to personal details, the options are endless. A handwritten note, deck of cards, sunglasses, homemade cookies, a post card for them to keep, a local delicacy, your wedding favors, your favorite beverage, flip flops if you’re on the beach, a puzzle book or mad libs. If you are all staying on a property, maybe a directory of guests’ cabins, a scavenger hunt, a list of activities you might have planned and a whole host of other ideas.

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{ Jenny Steffens | Martha Stewart Weddings }

As you can see, champagne can have a more casual and simple feeling. These miniature Prosecco bottles are packaged in a clear cellophane bag with a  printed top enclosure. On the right, a grocery store water bottle was personalized to match the wedding colors with a simple printed sleeve. For the water bottle sleeve, you could also just cut wrapping paper to size and use double sided tape. Many of these packaging items can be purchased a the Dollar Store and dressed up to give your guests a very special welcome.

We had very simple bags for our wedding and guests raved! We included water bottles, pretzels, assorted candies, 2 decks of cards and an information envelope with each piece of paper printed on color coordinated card stock. They loved not having to go out for a snack between lunch and the wedding and really enjoyed having an activity to do in the hotel. My family are BIG card players, so they all congregated in the community room and went at it.

Casual and Personal Bags

{ Pinterest | Tara Guerard Soiree | The Bride’s Cafe }

Next, we can get a little bit more elaborate, but still very casual. If there are a lot of  local hot spots and special items that were created in your town, make a themed bag. If you’d like to dress up your information, get welcome bag stickers and paper goods that are ‘branded’ to your wedding. Maybe a beach or lakeside wedding would include playing frisbee for the two of you and you’d like to share that with everyone.

Canvas Luxe Bags

{ Southern Weddings | SMP }

Now, if you really want to go above and beyond, getting personalized canvas totes for your guests is a great way to go. You can get as themed, branded or personal as you like with welcome bags. The thought that goes into them, just like any aspect of your wedding, should have your personalities infused throughout.

It is worth mentioning that this is not a requirement or expectation, simply a nice gesture if you find you’d like to offer something like this to your guests. If you have a small percentage of guests arriving from out of town, this may not be the best place to distribute those funds. However, if the majority of your guests will be venturing in, it might be something you’d like to extend to them in the form of hospitality. Think of it this way, you won’t be able to give them a hug and welcome when they arrive in a hotel, like you would if they visited your home. It’s just a warm and personal touch as an additional thank you for coming.

xoxo- Jenn

Summer Lovin’

Oh summer, how I love thee and your beautiful, bright colors! I need some firefly inspired summer nights, surrounded by my nearest and dearest, every now and then.

Today, we are going to talk about celebrating as a couple before the big day. After all, this is about both of you, not just the bride, right? I absolutely love and advocate for bridal showers and gal pal time, but why not throw a couples shower or engagement party to celebrate this momentous occasion, too?

SummerCouplesEngagementParty{ SMP Pinterest | Completely Delicious | digibuddhaPaperie | Exquisite Weddings Magazine | Green Wedding Shoes }

 This bright and glittery palette just makes me so excited for Summer! The joy of celebrating your love with family and friends as you navigate planning and prepare for the rest of your lives should be palpable and what better way to express that than a cheery, dance worthy afternoon? Those tangerine sorbet champagne floats- just take those four words in, slowly…… That just screams summer cocktail and the citrus deliciousness has me craving one now. I bet it would be great with ginger ale too, if you need!

I love the idea of both, because I love parties and celebrating love. That said, we didn’t host or attend either fete when we were engaged. How many of you had, or will be having, an engagement party or couples shower? Would you recommend that others do so?

xoxo- Jenn

Hearts on Fire

Well hello, strangers! I am so excited to get back to blogging, I’ve missed y’all! There have been so many projects and moving parts going on in the HHE office lately, but it is time to get back to regularly scheduled posting.

Here’s a little sneak peek at one of the project that will be debuting early this summer! AJP and I spent the morning on Saturday with the lovely Carolyn Ann Photography and I am just bursting at the seams to share everything with you. We all know I love surprises, but have a terrible time keeping things a secret that fire me up. So here’s the first teaser, since I will definitely be releasing a few more along the way.

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{Print via Emily Ley}

This photo is my absolute favorite!!! AJP is unquestionably at the top of my “what matters most” list and this image just makes me swoon, smile, cry happy tears, dance, and so much more!

Happy Monday lovelies! Make today amazing, do at least one thing that fires you up and sets your heart ablaze — life is too short not to!

xoxo- Jenn

Bridal Luncheon Inspiration

As the trend for unique ways of announcing every milestone in life gains momentum, it only stands to reason that asking your best gals to stand by your side is no exception.

Inspired by a photo of striped flats and pink tulips, I love this board and the ideas of hosting a luncheon to ask your bridesmaids if they’ll be in your party. This springy palette and bold pattern says stylish girl time to me.

Bridesmaids Ask_Shower{ 100 Layer Cake: Freixenet Setting Garden Deck | Style Me Pretty | Burnett’s Boards | Southern Curls & Pearls }

How adorable are those ask gift bags?! I’d tote that beauty all over town and to the wedding the morning of. As you know, I’m a big fan of gift giving and adding a personal touch to each ask bag makes your girls feel that much more important to you.

For some, you’ve had your bridal party chosen since you were six and it’s never changed. For others, this is a very big decision, so why not treat it as such and celebrate?! Maybe even make it a surprise at your favorite restaurant after a day of shopping. These are women who helped shape who you are and have stood by your side for years. Why not take an afternoon to shower them and show them how important they are to you? After all, the next party or two are on them!

Would you consider throwing a small fete to ask your besties to join you at the altar? Cheers lovelies!

xoxo- Jenn

 

Happiness Defined

“Contentment is the essential, basic and spiritual focus on my relationships and joy found in what matters most. To spend time and energy living a life that truly aligns with every good and authentic idea.”

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{ Nicole Franzen }

Days 1-9: Personal purchases (0), Gift purchases (2), Material cleansing (0), additional hobby time (1)

That is a report card “C”, as in fair but not at all stellar.  I need to hunker down and am publicly committing to hand made gifts. Ah. In my self pity party over here, I was also behind on my power sheets. Ya, those didn’t happen until last night. It was just the focus, honing and kick in the tush I needed.

As soon as I saw this photo, I was mesmerized. Not only is it a quiet, beautifully captured piece of Rome, but it immediately brought to mind the thought of planting seeds. I realized that in all of my material preparation, I hadn’t taken the time to define what contentment is to me aside from less stuff. Just like setting goals, starting a big project, saving for something and any major decision, seeds of thought and true understanding need to be planted and nurtured. This photo was my visual wake up call to do just that.

What does “contentment” mean to me? Let’s start with the dictionary definition: (from dictionary.com)

“adj. 1. Mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are; 2. assenting to or willing to accept circumstances, a proposed course of action, etc.

verb 3. to make oneself or another person content or satisfied

noun 4. peace of mind; mental or emotional satisfaction”

Well, that just screams authenticity and spirituality to me. Of course, simplifying and minimizing the material possessions and focus will allow for a renewed mental and emotional happiness with true needs. However, for me, this also means nurturing and investing. These were my two words for 2014 and this just brings them to the forefront once more.

The title of this post might lead you to think that I am trying to define happiness and contentment synonymously. That isn’t entirely true. As a self proclaimed type-A personality, I’m learning more and more that the best laid plans aren’t always the ones with the most desirable outcomes. Nor can you truly plan and define your life. True life and love are meant to ebb and flow. You have to continually grow, learn and be flexible. Bear with me here. I’m literally working this out as I write, partly out of ‘done is better than perfect’ mentality and partly so you can see how I arrive in this mental space.

Seeds. Someday I’d like to plant  a big garden in our yard. Why?  So that we can be self sufficient to an extent, learn to be grateful for the bounty of the Earth we are guests on; to pour love into a little plot and nurture it to grow and provide for our family. How does this same logic not instantly and naturally apply to every single aspect of life, especially contentment?

The true simplification of life is to have priorities, what matters to you, and forget the rest. So, to me that is God, Family, Love and Service-  done. Though I might twist things to fit in a pretty box that falls into one of those categories sometimes, in their most basic forms they are absolutely all I need. For the next two and a half months, this is the definition I will personally be referring back to:

Contentment is the essential, basic and spiritual focus on my relationships and joy found in what matters most. To spend time and energy living a life that truly aligns with every good and authentic idea. To be fully happy and fulfilled by the simplest of wonders, ideas and whispers to my heart. To listen, be still and trust that the simple life, complete with white space and abounding in Love and service, is the path to true unlimited happiness.

Living by that definition will help these seeds grow into a new self. Help me invest in my relationships and all aspects of life.  How do you define contentment? I’d love to hear from you!

xoxo- Jenn

Vendor Spotlight | Sweet Satisfaction Bakery

Happy Spotlight Thursday lovelies! I am so excited to tell you about my sweet and insanely talented friends Jeri and Julianna today, from Sweet Satisfaction Bakery in Keota, Iowa! They are some of the most authentic, passionate and fun people I’ve ever met. They are always dreaming and scheming ways to be more innovative, learn new things and make every single client experience, no matter how small, an outstanding one. Oh yeah, and their baked goods are heavenly!

Here are a few words, ok a few many, from these two awesome women!

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Tell us a bit about yourselves, what makes you tick? What are your backgrounds?

Julianna: All my life I’ve definitely gravitated toward creativity and creating things with my hands. Ever since I can remember I’ve been getting out the glue, construction paper and glitter to create my works of art, ranging from some funky holiday cutouts to glittering my phone. It seems I’ve always got a project going that I’m excited about. I definitely don’t want to leave out volleyball. I began playing in the 7th grade along with most other sports and when I hit the 9th grade everything seemed to come together and click. I absolutely loved volleyball and I couldn’t get enough of it. So I basically gave up everything else in order to focus on volleyball because I was incredibly passionate about it (and I still am). All my hard work paid off. After high school I had the opportunity to play volleyball at the collegiate level at the University of Missouri. I learned so many invaluable life lessons that no doubt apply to my everyday life and there are times I look back so thankful to have gone through those experiences because they make me a better person today. Without volleyball I wouldn’t be doing what I am today.

Jeri:  I’ve always liked to cook and bake.  Being older than Julianna (I’m the mom), my career path has been very different.  I had a long a rewarding career as a Registered Nurse.  A graduate of The University of Iowa, I spent my time as a nurse, mom, and wife on the farm.  Ok, so I didn’t really do any day-to-day activities on the farm but we lived on the farm.  I spent the last several years of my nursing career in hospice.  This I found to be the most rewarding and meaningful “work” as a nurse.  I really loved this area of healthcare and had very mixed feelings when I left the work force for what I thought was retirement.  I had busied myself with buying and selling vintage jewelry and building a new home.  And, we were blessed with our first grand child who I helped to babysit for.

How did Sweet Satisfaction Bakery come to be your reality? Why did you start the business?

Julianna– Well it really all began with volleyball. After college I had the opportunity to travel to Europe to play professionally. I knew I at least wanted to give it a try and I am so glad I did. I ended up in a tiny town in northern Finland called Kuusamo. And when I say northern Finland I mean northern Finland. (look it up on the map- it’s WAY up there!) We could actually see Russia from our town and we were just a couple hours from the Arctic Circle. I know because we went there. Also, Santa is from Finland, did you know that? He has his own little village up there at the Arctic Circle. I learned so many things about Finland and their history and culture.  Also, reindeer are real. Not the magical kind but the live animal kind. For some reason, I thought they were mythical creatures that you only see in the movies. (you know how as a child when you somehow make things up in your head to be true and for some reason never stop believing it is? this is one of those cases) I mean I had never seen one in real life until Finland when I was happily surprised to find out that yes, they are in fact real. You can laugh at me for that, it’s warranted.

Anyhow, back on track…I had no idea what to expect when going to play professional volleyball on a completely different continent. I knew I was going to be playing a lot of volleyball but that was about it. Aside from learning the culture, I did a lot of napping, Internet surfing, and cooking. We had a ton of down time, and we were in a small town that was somewhat isolated so there wasn’t much to do in town– that’s when I discovered that I really wanted to bake. I love all things sweet, candy and pastry related and I knew then that baking was my calling. As soon as I discovered that, I was so excited and it hasn’t changed since.

Jeri:  Julianna actually has baking and cooking in her blood.  My mother-in-law was well known as a top-notch cook and baker. Julianna spent time when she was young helping Grammy knead and bake bread.  After visiting her and taking a trip through Europe, we’re back in Iowa and Julianna has decided to make baking a career. In May, 2011 Julianna worked on a business plan, while I spent my time enjoying our beautiful new home with its large top of line gourmet kitchen. Julianna named her business “Sweet Satisfaction.”  The business was entirely Julianna’s baby and I, the assistant.  We set up shop in my kitchen and were quickly filling up the garage with all things baking.  We participated in area farmers markets and found that yes, our products were in demand.  We held on tight and we were off!

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What sets SSB apart from other Corridor area bakeries?

Julianna– There are a lot of things that set us apart from area bakeries. We put a lot of effort into what most would call customer service or customer satisfaction. We go out of our way to make it easy for our customers and provide them with a really great experience (as well as tasty treats). We deliver in our area for free and we really try to cater to what the customers want. When they place an order, we try our best to customize it to exactly what they want, even if it’s not on our menu. We try not to be too “cookie cutter” or “run of the mill”. That’s probably the biggest thing that sets us apart. Of course I am biased, but I think that the quality of our products really sets us apart. We spend so many hours perfecting our recipes and making them just right. And if something isn’t right, we don’t stop until it is. Striving to be the best we can be is very important to us.

Jeri–  We work hard to make sure our customers are satisfied, often thinking outside the box. We deliver for free, even if it means enlisting the help of the husbands.  We don’t nickel and dime our customers either. For example, we’re happy to pre-cut wedding sheet cakes and cheesecakes, no extra charge.  We offer free consultations for all of our wedding customers, including samples of flavors they are considering.  We not only have  pictures of weddings we have done but we also help them realize what they cake may look like by using Styrofoam cake forms.  As a “cherry on top” we also offer a 5″ round 1st Anniversary Cake to our couples. This, of course, is FREE.

Many of our recipes have been handed down through the generations in our family.  Another thing that I believe sets us apart is our own sourdough starter.  It was developed in 2011 in our kitchen without yeast and has proven to be a customer favorite.  It is robust and strong.   And, of course our pies are winners all around.  Home made flaky crusts with fillings made from scratch using fresh fruit or fresh frozen fruit.  No canned pie fillings for us!

{Is your mouth watering yet?!}

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Do you do fondant and buttercream cakes? What types of creations do you offer?

We do both fondant and buttercream cakes. And although fondant cakes looks beautiful and polished, we often suggest our customers stick to buttercream. It is more budget friendly as well as fluffy, creamy and delicious. We do anything from a small 6″ round cake to multi-tiered wedding cakes. Nothing is too big or small for us to tackle. We can also promise that the cake you get will be customized to your liking. No two cakes are ever the same!

What are your most popular flavors and orders for weddings and other special occasions? (ie. cookies, pies, tarts, cakes, etc.)

Julianna– That’s a hard question to answer and I don’t really have a great one. For weddings, we generally do some variation on a tiered cake and then it’s usually either cupcakes or sheet cakes. There really seems to be no rhyme, reason or magical formula for what a bride wants. It varies from event to event and it’s never predictable. As far as flavors go, we get a lot of requests for the usual white, chocolate & red velvet but one of our other most popular flavors is definitely the raspberry swirl. It’s a white cake with raspberry filling and buttercream icing. Heavenly if you ask me.

We’ve also been able to provide desserts for some other big events and usually those require some sort of single serving dessert that is very visually appealing. I really enjoy doing the types of events where they say this is the event we’re having, I want this type of product and I want it to look fancy, just do whatever you think will be the best. Of course it’s different for each event, but I love it when I’m allowed some creative based on some criteria they lay out. Very similar to a styled shoot where there’s a vision and everything comes together to complete it. I love that!

Jeri– As far as pies go, wedding favorites are tart cherry, blueberry, apple and peach.

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What is the most creative wedding you’ve ever been a part of as a baker/cake artist?

That can be a tough question to answer because every wedding is so unique and some weddings are definitely more traditional than others. But in the fall of 2012, we were asked to do the cake for a steampunk themed wedding. It was fantastic. The bridal party went so far as to wear costumes for the wedding. It was so unique and fit the couple so perfectly. I love it when a couple does what they want for their wedding and doesn’t worry about what others think. The cake turned out very cool too. It was a vintage suitcase with some really cool hollow books on that, then a top hat and an adorable cutout of a couple to top it off. It all came together so perfectly. It was so neat.

We also have a 1920’s Gatsby themed wedding coming up this summer that I’m so excited to do. It’ll be a big tiered cake with lavish decorations like pearls and feathers. I absolutely cannot wait to see how the cake turns out and how they have their venue all decorated for the special day. I’m really looking forward to it!

As both a guest and a vendor, what is your favorite part of a wedding?

Julianna- As a vendor, of course I love to see how the cake comes together and I also really enjoy getting to set it up at the venue,  seeing all the decorations and the finished product. It’s so rewarding to see a vision come together. It really takes a team to put on a wedding and it’s so cool how so many different individuals (sometimes complete strangers) each play a role in making things happen and work together to make it perfect. I also really love to see the photos when everything is said and done. It’s kind of the behind the scenes stuff that guests and vendors aren’t privy to seeing on the wedding day. Wedding photos are really such a treasure.

As a guest to a wedding there’s so many things I love. Of course I love to see what they chose as their meal and I definitely love eating the cake (whether I made it or not). Just that “love is in the air” feeling that I like at weddings. Everyone is so happy and it’s such a special occasion for so many people- especially the bride and groom. I just love to see everything come together and fall into place just the way it’s supposed to – just the way the bride and groom dreamed it would.

Jeri- I love to see the finished product on display for everybody to see.  We take pride in setting up our cakes at the venue and we take a lot of time to get this part just right.  We always take lots of pictures of not only the cake but also the venue in general. I think the pictures are nice for couples to see how different venues look and what kinds of decorations were used.

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Anything else you’d like people to know about SSB? 

Julianna– Gosh, I just want people to know we take a lot of pride in what we do and we really do strive to make everything we do the best it can possibly be. We are passionate about providing really great products and services.

Jeri– We will be participating in the Cedar Rapids Farmers Markets on these dates, 6/21, 7/19, 8/16 and 9/20.  We will also be participating in farmers markets in Washington and our home town of Keota.  Come on out and get to know us.  As far as weddings go, we do still have a few dates open for 2014.  We are now accepting bookings for 2015.

{ Website | Facebook | Also find them on Instagram @SweetSatisfactionBakery }

Ok, so I didn’t edit a ton out of this one. Can you not tell how passionate and amazing these two are just from their answers?! Even if you just need a birthday cake or bread for dinner on Tuesday (or any night), give Sweet Satisfaction a call. I have worked with them on numerous occasions and not only am I wowed every time, but I always leave having had a great conversation and many laughs. I cannot recommend SSB enough. Hugs gals! You are the best!

xoxo, Jenn

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NOTE: All photos courtesy of Sweet Satisfaction Bakery

Reconnect

strikingtruths018_get-offline{ Striking Truths }

Update your state, not just your status. There is going to be a whole lot of this going on this weekend! It’s stock pile time and purge time for Contentment Challenge and I am so excited! Sometimes one needs to be reminded, not so gently, to get that time back and live. Message received. See all you darlings next week.

xoxo- Jenn

 

To Theme or not to Theme?

Do I need a theme for my wedding?

This is a question I hear a lot. Simply answered, no. Your wedding should portray your love story, what makes the two of you tick, your relationship. If there is an aspect to your love story that brings a theme to the forefront, then yes, why not run with it and have fun? If not, don’t worry or grasp at straws to find one. The point of your wedding is that it represents you and your fiance, not someone else.

You mean not every girl plans her wedding when she’s 8?! Well, even if we do, thoughts and priorities shift. If you are looking for direction, you’ve come to the right place. So where do we start, you ask?

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{ OnceWed }

Try making a list of places and memories that tell your love story. If you’re ambitious, write the whole thing. When you go back through photos and reminisce, there are often elements that truly mean something to the two of you. Those are the pieces that you want to showcase and share with your families and friends.

These elements do not have to take center stage either, but can be accents. For example, if you are sports fans, maybe use a frosted team logo on glasses or wear a themed garter. If you enjoy crosswords and coffee on the weekends, make a crossword puzzle about your relationship and give away small bags of your favorite brew as favors. Was your first date at a local pizzeria? Consider ordering a few pies from them later in the night to share that with your guests.

Maybe you enjoy travel and, if you were so lucky, got engaged on a trip. Using cities you love or places you’ve found connections in are good for inspiration as well.  If your focus is on family, maybe  you treat yourselves and  guests to family recipes, homemade salsas and jams from Grandma’s garden, home movie entertainment, have your brother’s band play a set at the reception. Whether it’s a feeling, time period, song, place, movie, whatever – make sure your hearts are all in.

You don’t necessarily have take everything literally either. Get creative, use online resources, talk it out with your inner circle. Be careful not to solicit too much input, though. This can get very confusing and overwhelming, making a final decision much more difficult. I promise, it will be more momentous and joyful for all involved when your ‘theme’ has some significance to who you are as a couple. Everyone has a unique story and I could go on and on with ideas for days. My hope is that you can use some of these ideas as jumping off points to make your wedding truly yours, no one else’s. Who wants a cookie cutter wedding anyway? A well curated and bespoke wedding is a memorable wedding that everyone will be talking about for years to come.

Happy planning my lovelies! Stop back and share some of your stories, will you?

xoxo- Jenn

Southern Orchid

The warm Spring wind has not graced us with her presence yet in the Midwest, but our glimpses into sunny days and wonderful afternoon walks have me daydreaming, as always. This weekend, I was desperate for bright colors and warm memories. So, I figured it was my turn to use this year’s Pantone Color of the Year- Radiant Orchid.

How much more cheery and bright can it get? I have to admit, I was not a huge fan of this color choice – I’m still partial to that amazing Emerald from last year. Old habits and loves die hard darlings. However, after giving it a chance and doing a little brainstorming on elegant touches without being over the top, its beauty has grown on me!

southernorchid.jpg{ Prima Seadiva | Intimate Weddings | Polka Dot Bride | SMP | Jet Set Wed | Bridal Guide }

 This amazing door was my inspiration photo this time and it reminds me so much of the beach houses and Rainbow Row in Charleston, but with an orchid twist. When I think warm and relaxing elegance, summers at my grandparents’ is where my mind wanders, so the Palmetto lined ceremony aisle and beachy feeling brings that to life for me.

Have any of you considered using the Color of the Year in your wedding colors? If so, is it a key player or accent?

xoxo- Jenn

 

Taking The Challenge

In preparation for the Contentment Challenge, I’ve decided to, once again, tackle Lara’s Challenge. Seems like I am really into challenging myself these days, huh? Why not?! Life is meant to be lived and if I can take action to make that my reality, I will DO it!

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Did you notice I said “once again”? I have done this process so many times and each time it baffles me how much more mental, digital and physical clutter builds back up. For me, this is a process I go through every 4-6 months. The first step is Downloading- my favorite part. If things don’t get written down, they are repeated in my head so I don’t forget them. One of my favorite quotes from the e-book: “If something in your head [or in your office or on your desk or in your car or in your purse] doesn’t have a place and a purpose, it’s clutter and it will swim in your head till you take care of it. It’s taking up energy and brain power that you could be using to act on your dreams.” YES!!!!

The next few steps require ACTION, so be prepared. Also know, that like many other things, this is not meant to happen overnight. It normally takes me at least three days, if not a week, to work the process. Taking your time will help optimize your return and truly put you in a great space. Some of the suggestions Lara makes are sort of ‘duh’ ideas, but then why aren’t we all doing them? [enter excuses] It’s all about making a concerted effort to make it your routine. This does not always happen around here, but even a few days a week are better than none.

At this point, I’m only on step four, resting. This one is really hard y’all! I’m someone who is constantly doing something. Forcing myself to sit and read a new book or take time for myself to relax or go for a run- earth shaking stuff. One of my goals this year is to take a night for myself every week and a date night with AJP every week. Last night, we went to a movie. Having a night away from my phone and computer (ie- work) was amazing. DO IT!

This is not necessarily something that will work for everyone, but if you are looking for a little bit of extra time and more white space in your life, I highly recommend you give this a try.

xoxo- Jenn

p.s. If you prefer a more visually stimulating and all in one place option for Lara’s Challenge, here’s her E-book she so generously made for all of us! This is what I use and I love it!

Legends | Audrey Hepburn

Audrey + Ramona.

How on Earth can it get any more romantic and wedding worthy than those two women? Audrey Hepburn is one of my favorite women of all time! Now, couple that with the fact that Ramona Keveza designed one of the gowns in the 2014 Legends Collection based on Audrey’s iconic Givenchy Oscars gown, it is too perfect.

The gown is timeless, elegant, classic and feminine. All things  a wedding dress should be. Also, it is a style that can be worn in any season. So fun! With that said, I’m in the mood lately for Spring. Shocker, I know. So here is my take on the perfect Audrey wedding.

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{ Kristin Newman Designs | Jose VillaSouthern Weddings | Legends by Ramona Keveza Style L509 | Ruffled | SMP | Emmaline Bride }

Audrey loved to garden, so an outdoor venue seems only fitting. This beautiful backyard tented reception is exactly what I envision she would have loved to host at her home for her nearest and dearest. Simple, feminine and intimate. Using pinks, mint, slate blue and neutrals is a way to add soft color without getting too loud and keeps things so very romantic.

Who is your favorite style icon? Would you design your event with them as inspiration?

xoxo- Jenn

Contentment Challenge

When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes – I already have everything that I really need’.”  – Dalai Lama

In this season of grace, renewal and fresh starts, I have decided to participate in Nancy Ray’s Contentment Challenge beginning April 1. The remainder of this month will be used to read, prepare my closet, office and heart for big changes. This is something that I’ve been thinking of doing since last  year and it is time!

Now, if you know me at all, you know that my love of pretty is accompanied by a weakness for Target, online boutiques and anything that catches my eye anywhere. However, the busier I get, the less I’m shopping and the happier I am with what I have. Gratitude truly changes everything. I’m so aware of the excess we have and the BIG difference between true needs and blatant wants.

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{La Boheme}

Notice, that does not say your home, clothes or possessions… Hmmm. I’m not posting this to guilt anyone who loves shopping or material goods. We all do, let’s just be honest about that. This is for my accountability and to invite anyone who would like to join me.

The Challenge is absolutely a personal decision and a journey that I am so looking forward to. I’m not naive enough to think this is going to be easy. After all, I’ve decided to do this smack dab in the middle of a busy social schedule, including my branding shoot and some fun and flirty fashion seasons. Not to mention, 80% of my current wardrobe is at least 4 years old. What am I thinking? Honestly, the fact that it’s hard is why I am doing this. The best things in life are not often the easy ones. I know this will be a season of growth and self discovery – that is beyond scary and exciting.

We will give up shopping for clothes, accessories, household decor, and “stuff” for 3 months, to focus our hearts and minds on the root of true contentment. We will actively pursue fulfilling activities that will replace our addiction to material things.”

I’m not good at subtle change, it has to be all or nothing, so here it goes. I’m diving in and getting excited! My replacement activities will be exercise and writing. I might even pick up some other hobbies along the way, who knows. I’m getting so fired up about this, who’s with me?

xoxo- Jenn

Two for One

Happiest of Birthdays to two of my sisters today!

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Tori- you are such a fabulous, beautiful and caring person. I’m so proud of the woman you’ve become. You are doing wonderful things in your life and there are even better days to come. Yay! I wish I could be there to celebrate with you, but know I am thinking of you today and always.

Laura- you are so amazing and constantly surprising me in our conversations. I so love your visits home and watching you as you navigate school and what is to come. Proud of you LB! You can do anything you set your mind to and with such awesome style!

Wishing you both many more years of happiness and better days ahead. Cheers loves!

Love you always!

xoxo- Jenn

Gorgeous Green

How is it already Irish week again? It seems like just a few months ago I was looking for my best pinch saving wardrobe. I’m not sure about y’all, but I love Patty’s Day. Using some Irish fun and gorgeous greens as inspiration, here is a bit of a fresh, springy wedding board for you.

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{ GWS | Loverly | Southern Weddings | Inspired By This | Victoria Austin Designs }

This Sage and peachy pink color combo just says romance to me. The outdoor venue and natural elements add such a warm, welcoming and elegant touch to the whole vision. Ok, those flower girls, how beautiful they must feel in those darling skirts (and they certainly look stunning)!! If you are planning a green hued wedding and have not perused Southern Weddings V4 Polo shoot, you are missing out. Go check it out, will you?

I don’t know about you, but nothing screams home, romance and luxe to me like a ceremony aisle lined with blooms and greenery. Those pews just remind me of Sundays spent with family and the love that is bound to surround you in that setting. I could go on forever about this little board. Happy dreaming loves.

What are your favorite colors or holidays for inspiration?

xoxo- Jenn

Au Revoir for Now

Oh distance, you fickle thing, you. This week, my best friend is moving across the country. This is not a sad thing, well mostly. I’m BEYOND EXCITED for her and her husband. They have been talking about California for a long time. Though they have lived four and half hours away for the last three years, this is going to be much different. No more weekend trips to visit each other without shelling out for a plane ticket. This is going to be their greatest adventure and there is nothing better than that, right?

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{Dust Jacket Attic}

Before saying ‘au revoir’, I put together a little bestie package for her and thought it might be something others would enjoy. Anytime that a loved one will be away for a long period or moves, this is a great way to consistently let them know you care and add a little ‘vintage’ handwritten thought to it. Without further ado…

I researched the area they are moving to and made a list of things that I know she’d find interesting or that we would typically do together. Next, I wrote on the envelopes what feeling might accompany going to a certain area or just a pick me up. She has no idea what is inside each envelope, nor will she until she opens it. Now, for another fun twist, there is a 48 hour rule on each note. She and whomever is noted inside, must complete what is on the card within 48 hours of opening it.

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{iphone photo of a few bits}

Now, since she will read this, I can’t share much more. However, I also threw in a few “just because” and “homesick” notes for days that a little encouragement is in order! Of course, Skype and Face-time will be in regular use, but this is just another little touch to make someone feel special and missed. Lastly, we got a bottle of Champagne and a bottle of her favorite wine. With the Champagne, we toasted this exciting next chapter- Celebration is in order!! The other will remain unopened until AJP and I make it out to the West Coast for all four of us to enjoy together on the beach.

Cheers to your next adventure Jilli! Enjoy every moment!

What are some special going away gifts you have either given or received?

xoxo- Jenn

Fave 5 | Happiness

Happy Friday Lovelies!

This week has been an amazing start to refocusing after the whirlwind that last month was. My fave five this week are making me more anxious for Spring to arrive than ever! First on the list, leftover blooms in my office. I cannot wait to share more of our styled shoot with you soon, but these fragrant blooms make my office the best place in the house. Opening the door is like Spring welcoming me into the Secret Garden. Dramatic, maybe, but it’s the best feeling!

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By refocusing, I’m able to spend time each day with my actual Bible, not just my app when I’m on the go. That, my dears, is a blessing in itself. Nothing can ever substitute the joy and nostalgia of any paper book, but especially this family Bible of mine. Warms my heart.

Other faves include beautiful snail mail that brightens my desk and my favorite on the go breakfast, Luna bars! Oh my gosh, they are sooooo good and our local grocer finally has more than 2 options. Lastly, I’m declaring that part of my faves will always be a song to dance to because music is such an integral and important part of my daily life. This week, I’m jumping on the Pharrell train! How can you not be HAPPY when this comes on???

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend full of happiness, love and refueling your tank.

xoxo- Jenn

Spotlight | Bread Garden Market

Are you looking for a very specific menu item for your wedding? Want to use Grandma’s recipes for your entree? Think there is nothing different in the Corridor for catering options? Wrong.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of a personal tasting at the Bread Garden Market in Iowa City with their lovely Catering Director, Cara. I have to tell you, I was blown away! The amazing Hummus Wraps and Salmon Pate Cups would have been enough to have me singing their praises. But there was much more! Rotisserie chicken to die for, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, Roasted Red Pepper Tomato soup, and oh the bread… To top it all off, Chef made us some cake and I had to force myself to put my fork down.

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The tasting included their most popular dishes, but those options are the tip of the iceberg for this vendor. Let me tell you, anything you envision they can make happen. Whether you are looking for your engagement party, shower, rehearsal or reception, you definitely need to meet with BGM. Without further ado, here’s a bit from Bread Garden Market’s Cara.

Bread Market

Please tell me a bit about Bread Garden Market and what sets you apart from other caterers in the area.

Bread garden started 15 yeras ago in the location now occupied by Hot House Yoga. We’ve always been a community hub for fresh, made from scratch food and pastries, supplying a very large number of Iowa City restaurants with their breads, pastas, and/or desserts. About 5 years ago, we were given the opportunity to take over the now market and expand our restaurant services into a full scale gourmet grocer and large scale caterer.

Our experience not only branches from the 15 years in business, but from the other restaurants in our group, “Fresh Food Concepts”, which now include Mondo’s, Joseph’s, Saloon and formerly Givanni’s and Micky’s, giving us a heads up on working with different styles of foods and wants from our patrons. We are able to cater ANY type of meal; we are not a place that is limited to our menu. We will cater to any palate and customize for each and every client.

Do you specialize in any particular genre or style of food?

We pride ourselves on being able to provide our customers with any type of meal or cuisine that their heart desires. We never want to limit ourselves as a one style place. That being said, we could say that we love Italian food around here. We make all of our own fresh pastas, sauces, cannolis, tiramisu, Italian sausage and much more. Of course, we also have a large selection of daily fresh baked breads.

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Many wedding guests these days have food allergies, are you experienced in handling those?

Absolutely. We have prepared meals for gluten free, nut free and many others.

Are you open and willing to use a family recipe provided by the couple?

Yes and we are happy to do so! BGM has even used a client’s farm fresh eggs and produce to prepare dishes for them. How awesome is that?! Talk about personal!

Of course, your chefs use fresh ingredients. Are they primarily local or do you source from anywhere?

We buy local whenever we can and during primary growing season (May – October), we are fully stocked with local ingredients. During the winter months, our sourcing is not always available locally for our high volume needs, but we get what we can. Also, as a gourmet grocer, we source from overseas for our international products.

Do you provide alcohol and bar staff? Wait staff also?

Yes, we have a full liquor license and a full wait staff and bar-tending staff. We only sell wine and beer in the store, but can cater liquor offsite.

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As a caterer, what is your favorite part of a wedding?

From a catering standpoint, I love seeing guests take a first bite of food and then nod their head yes. That’s when I know I’ve done a good job. Along with that, the rapport I build with the bride and groom is so rewarding. I always get hugs from my clients after the wedding because they feel so happy and taken care of.

What is the most creative wedding that you’ve catered?

Last year we did a wedding with “His” and “Hers” buffets. They were two completely different styles of food on each buffet and it was really fun to see the guests enjoy both types. Plus, it makes it even more personalized for the bride and groom.

We can provide any experience you want. Want a casual picnic style wedding? We can do it. Want a top of the line porterhouse steak and fresh seafood bar? We can do it, and actually are in September! Want a mashed potato bar? Already done it, can do it again! The sky is the limit with us.

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Website | Facebook | Email: Catering@BreadGardenMarket.com

If you are looking for a completely personalized menu and one on one experience with your caterer, please call Cara Viner at the Bread Garden. I promise you, it will be as simple or extravagant as you want, plus some. They truly have amazing food and wonderful staff. Not to mention, they also do desserts and wedding cakes if you envision a dessert bar and want a one stop shop for all of your food and beverages.

xoxo- Jenn

Why Hire a Wedding Planner?

As promised last week, here are a few reasons to hire a wedding planner. First of all, why not? Doesn’t every bride DESERVE to fully enjoy her engagement and wedding day to its fullest? YES, YOU DO!!

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{All Things Elegant}

So many people think they can’t afford a planner and if they can, “my family and I can pull this off, we are crafty”. I was in that boat too. While you might have an army of helpers around you, there are things that Designer/Planners can offer that your family cannot. Not to mention, don’t you want them to be able to enjoy the day and not get stressed either? Why not hire someone to take all of that off your plates so you can enjoy each other’s company?

From a design perspective, planners can help you take an idea to a level you never thought of and stay within budget. They often save you money even. They can present to you something creative and out of the box, incorporate what you know you want and do it all with an elegant cohesion. The wedding industry is very much about networking. Though you might do a lot of research online, a planner likely has connections and knows someone who won’t be in your top five search results, but would fit your budget and be perfect for your event.

Even if you have a vision and know exactly what you want, that doesn’t mean you don’t DESERVE a wedding planner. You are still going to be an integral part of the planning process, but primarily in the fun parts, guiding the design and details that matter to you. Not in the phone calls, timeline creation, follow-ups, reservations, research, execution, etc.

The biggest thing a planner offers- TIME!! That was my biggest enemy as a bride. I enjoyed the fun things, but I certainly didn’t have the extra time in the evenings or over my weekends to get it all done. Enter my mother and many breakdowns. All of the moving parts and stress- I would have gladly paid someone to do that. Also, you don’t want your family and friends missing you getting ready or not being entirely present in the festivities because they are setting things up. I missed that with my mom and it’s one of my only regrets. Planners take care of all of that for you, so you can focus on the joy, not the work. 

b3716da5631b8ed1340dd638552ea1d2 {SMP}

In addition to everything above, which is NOT a comprehensive list, by any means, your wedding planner will be an addition to you support system. They will hold your bouquet, fix your stray hair before you walk down the aisle, execute to perfection the standard you have set for your day, act as a mediator when needed and be there as a friend through the whole process. With that in mind, it is important to ‘click’ with your planner. In my book, a bride and groom that become friends long after the wedding are the best kind!

Taking all of that into account, I truly believe that your wedding is not just a party. It is the beginning of the rest of your life. That life includes both of your families and your wedding is often times the first time you all meet and get together. That is something not to take for granted. Let a planner help you, in whatever capacity you are comfortable with, to allow your attention to be given fully to building your family and getting to know everyone in it. They are what matters, not the trivial things. That’s a planner’s job.

Consider letting them give you that, it’s kind of why we love our jobs! I promise it will be the best investment you make in the whole process.

xoxo- Jenn

 

Spring in Bloom

New beginnings, fresh blooms, romantic colors, lovely picnics, the smell of spring rain and the sound of birds chirping. How do all of those things not make you excited about a Spring wedding? Today’s inspiration is all about the feminine softness and romance that becomes new every time the world thaws in Spring.

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{ Loverly | Cashmere Gyrl | Estate2 – sold | Ceci New York | SMP }

I could just live in that light and smell the blooms as if they were surrounding me. This is romance, my darlings.

xoxo- Jenn

Lessons from a Bride

I have learned so much since I was a bride in 2012. Even though that’s not a lot of time in the big picture, the lessons are exponential the further I get into building HHE. So many people ask me what a planner can offer them, but before I delve into that (it’s another post), I thought I’d start with sharing what I’ve learned as a bride.

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{KT Merry}

A venue planner is NOT an event planner!  A lot of brides say, “My Venue has a planner”- that’s what I thought too. Though they seemed helpful throughout, it really was only concerning the venue. This is not to sound ungrateful, that is all they should be concerned with. Venue planners are there to facilitate their staff and organize the day from their perspective. It is unfair to fault them for that. That being said – please don’t put all of your eggs in that basket.

I had no help with calling around to other vendors, set up (which my mom had to check as she rushed over after our ceremony) and it wasn’t even what I envisioned, because they didn’t follow my notes and no one was there to ensure it was all done right. This is where even a month of coordinator would have been a Godsend! I say month of, because that’s how long that coordinator should be working on getting up to speed and putting things in order. No one can just show up that morning and get it all done right.

Doing your research can get you 90% or more of what you really want. I did research on my big budget pieces, but didn’t take the time up front to truly plan it all out. By that I mean, there were so many details I wanted and when it came down to it, I either didn’t have the budget or didn’t plan far enough in advance. A wedding planner could have been so helpful there for resource and brainstorm help. There are so many more rental options that I’m aware of now and just more local vendors, in general, that were there at the time. I just didn’t know. If I had done more deep research, that could have been part of our reality.

Don’t Stress! Yeah, I know, that’s impossible, but hear me out. I spent so much time being worried about when things would get done and what people would think, giving my guests the best experience, spending money we didn’t have just to out do something I’d seen online. WHOA! This was where AJP and parents came in (almost daily). Even the simplest of weddings requires attention to things you’d not even thought of before, like what if someone has an allergy (to food or a building!), which china do you want- so many options for decor and registry, favors or no favors, cocktail hour or snack table, what to do about lunch, the best undergarments and so, so, so much more.  I was so wrapped up and stressed about all of that, that I allowed myself to miss enjoying the trips my Mom made to visit and the daily joy there was to be had.

There is really no end to the trivial things. But that’s just it, they are truly trivial. At the end of the day, the ONLY thing that matters is that you are married to your best friend and that your nearest and dearest are able to be there to celebrate with you. The rest of the details are just icing on the cake. (Insert plug for a planner here- they do all of this trivial stuff for you!)

In addition to all of that, there are also so many more avenues, just in the past year and a half, for brides. So much, that it can sometimes  be more overwhelming than not having many options. Wading through all of the wedding content, blogs, pins and such can be downright mind boggling. Focus on your love story and make your day yours. It’s all in the details that let your personalities and relationship shine, trust me. That’s what your guests want to see- not a Pinterest board. For more post-wedding thoughts, head over here.

What are some lessons you learned from either your wedding or a friend’s? Things you’ve noticed as a guest that you would or wouldn’t do at your wedding?

xoxo- Jenn

Olympic Metals

I’m not sure if it’s due to the Winter Olympics or just an emerging love for all things shiny, but I’m really loving mixed metallics as a wedding palette. Gold, silver, bronze and rose gold are such beautiful colors and are all neutrals. Why not mix them? Neutrals beg to be combined into absolutely elegant affairs.

OlympicMetalsInspiration.jpg{GWS | Mindy Rice | Oh Such Style | Utah Bride | Plum Pretty Sugar | Southern Weddings | Elizabeth Anne Designs}

Keeping the flowers and other accessories in the lighter family allows those metallics to pop and bring an element of glamour to everything. I absolutely love this trend for this year. What do you think darlings?

xoxo- Jenn

Spotlight | Carolyn Ann Photography

I have been hard at work in the HHE office these last few weeks and cannot wait to share more with you. Before I do, I want to introduce you to my dear friend Carolyn of Carolyn Ann Photography. One very cold day in January (and surprisingly the warmest of the month), we met for coffee and went on a few adventures. Who knew that we would end up scheming amazing things for our clients and pushing ourselves creatively in the process? Please pour yourself a warm cup of your favorite bevy and meet Carolyn!

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You are going to graduate school for counseling, what drew you to photography?

Oh you hear this all the time from photographers, but its true “I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I can remember!” Its true, I am getting my masters in school counseling, but I honestly see these two paths as symbiotic.  My counseling background helps me work with people- which is really what this is all about! My photography let’s me dive into something and really get lost in it, which is an amazing type of self-care.  On a more basic level, the two work quite well together schedule-wise.  School counseling gives me summers off, and when is wedding season? I am a firm believer in “work to live NOT live to work.” I honestly, don’t feel incredibly bound by picking one career or path for myself in life, right now I am following what I am passionate about.

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What sets you apart from other photographers?

I don’t like to assume I’m all that special, but I am proud of the fact that I actively shoot film (yes load it up, develop it, etc.) for sessions.  I learned to manually shoot on a Canon SLR 35mm camera while traveling abroad and then quickly starting photographing people as well.  Knowing how to shoot with film, made the transition to shooting fully in manual (as opposed to a setting/program mode) on a digital camera much smoother.

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What advice would you give to newly engaged couple, both when looking for a photographer and in general?

There are a few things I would suggest couples keep in mind when searching out a photographer:

See a whole wedding: Often photographer’s sites will feature the best of the best.  Don’t be shy, asking to see a whole wedding before booking.  They may not hand over a disc or walk you through 600 photos, but they should feel comfortable showing you an album (print or digital) that features more than one photo from each part of the day.

Do you want the digital printing rights? This is becoming more popular for couples, but its a question to ask yourself.  If you’re booking with a photographer that only provides an album and digital proofs for purchase ask yourself honestly, “After the wedding is done, are we going to want these photos?” If you answer comes even close to yes, be sure that buying those rights fits into your budget. If this sounds annoying, just look for photographers that include them in all packages! I remember feeling overwhelmed by all my options as a bride, so I needed some way to narrow down my choices!

Do you click? You have a right to pick a photographer based on whether you “click” with him or her. Do you like their personality? When looking through their portfolio do you see those as your wedding photos too? Choosing a photographer is really about fit above all else. This is someone that will get to spend time documenting very intimate and personal moments in your life and at the end of the day, their style and approach will represent your wedding in photo form.

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What is your favorite part of a wedding to photograph? Why?

I really love sunset portraits! For anyone that hasn’t heard of those, its after the ceremony, often after dinner and its just the couple and the photographer(s).  Sometimes its hard to fit this into the schedule or couples are nervous they will be too stressed for them, but they can be so lovely.  The light is often just right and the couple is more relaxed and coming down from that ceremony high.  During my own sunset portraits, I remember feeling such a sense of relief and comfort.  It was nice to get away from the buzzing reception to enjoy the property where we got married.  If you love those sunny, hazy photos or gorgeous silhouette shots- its likely your photographer was shooting around sunset!

What are 3 aspects of your dream wedding to photograph. (ex. Location, theme, design element)

Honestly, I just love couples and weddings that are focused on what its all about. Emotion, love, connection, family- all those things are my ideal wedding.
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(I’m slightly obsessed with that tree and dress – breathtaking!)
Ok, so you should all just email this lovely gal to say “hi”. Head on over to her Facebook and give her some love. She is one of the most genuine and fun people I’m blessed to know. Oh yeah, and her photography skills are pretty rad too! I can’t say enough. Really. I hope you enjoyed getting to know my friend  a bit.
Stop back every few weeks to meet more of the amazing vendors that the Corridor has to offer. I might even throw in a few surprises!
xoxo- Jenn

Fave 5: First Glimpse

A very wise woman once told me, ‘your website is your handshake, but your blog is your hug’. While I am no where near the writer that she is, this blog is a glimpse into my world, the behind the scenes, the dreaming that goes on over here in HHE land and it’s time I take that more seriously.

In an effort to let you get to know me a bit better, darlings, I am going to be sharing my favorite things every few weeks. I hope that you will all share some wisdom and pretties as well. We all have to stick together when it comes to simplifying, feeling beautiful and encouraging some fun, right?

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Gasp! I know, you can’t believe that coffee didn’t make it on this list. With this cold, tea is just so much cozier after 11 am, which accounts for the majority of my day, so there you go. I’m finding my love of journalling again and this lovely hardcover makes it so much more fun. In addition, part of less screen time is finally catching up on my Real Simple magazine reading. So much relaxation! Hot tea, reading, journalling, oh my!

I’ve also found a new obsession with snacking on pineapple. Ok, so not entirely new, but I rediscovered the yummy frozen bags this week and they have been the best go-to snack. Especially when I crave something sweet at night. YUM! So there are only 4 things in that picture, but my other essential – having a dance party at least once a day. This week’s default jam is over here! It is so fun and sometimes it’s good to break up the day to refocus and remember what uninhibited joy feels like! It fuels my heart and that is the best!

What are some of the things you are finding make your day to day more enjoyable and allow you to find time for yourself, even if it is just 5 minutes to dance it out?

xoxo- Jenn

Everyday Joy | 2014 Vision

We are almost a full week into February and I think it’s time I shared my vision for this year. Visual reminders and inspiration always help me reign in the chaos and focus on my core. Last year this was particularly helpful in discovering my core. That is some hard work, to be completely honest and vulnerable with yourself. I highly recommend it though.

2013 brought so many blessings and wonderful memories. I started my blog, decided to launch my business, had my first two weddings, celebrated our first amazing year of marriage, dipped my toes in the Caribbean, met new people, surprised my Mom (thanks AJP!), and officially became the owner of Harper Hadley Events, LLC!! 2013, you were fabulous and taught me so much.
2014 inspiration board

{for sources and more of my vision, see my 2014 board}

This year started off with a bang and has only gotten better in the last four weeks. I’ll share my goals later, but some of the things I’m saying ‘yes’ to this year are: more reading in print, more star gazing, getting into an exercise routine and sticking to it, more breakfast in bed, writing more often, being silly and dancing, marriage joy, creativity, feeling more glamorous, dressing up for everyday occasions and celebrating the simple and joyful moments.

What are you looking forward to in 2014?

xoxo- Jenn

Bohemian Romance | Bridal Shower Inspiration

This month we all have a heightened awareness of and lust for romance. We are simply bombarded by it and cannot help but think about it more than usual- I kind of love that! In that spirit, I decided to put a slightly different event spin on it. Why not focus all of that romance, femininity and love into a bridal shower?romantic boho{ Southern Weddings | SMP | Elizabeth Anne Designs | Burnett’s Boards | Haus Design }

This twilight bohemian inspiration is so dreamy. What woman wouldn’t love to feel like she walked into a fairytale garden, complete with twinkle lights and oodles of garland and blooms? A frothy floral crown for the bride and intimate evening meal would be a fun twist on the luncheon or brunch showers. How many of you would opt for an evening shower?

xoxo- Jenn

Cozy Recipes & Snowy Adventures

Happy Friday darlings!

This week was filled with visits with my Dad while he was in town, homemade dinners, de-cluttering, and making big plans. I cannot wait for more of that this weekend! Before signing off though, I want to share a few of my favorite things from the week with you. First up, my favorite new quick and healthy dinner recipes.

We are committing to healthier, home-cooked, no fuss meals in the Pocho house this year and it has been so fun trying new recipes! The front runner so far has been Slow Cooker Garlic & Brown Sugar Chicken. Who doesn’t love a dish that you can leave in the Crock Pot all day? I just steamed some rice and broccoli for sides and it was just as good as takeout, if you ask me! This is a 30 minute meal at its finest.

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{photo credit: Makin’ It Mo Betta Blog}

Since I’m a carb lover, I also recommend this healthy 3 Cheese Penne Bake recipe- only 198 calories per serving (5 WeightWatchers points)!! Perfect with a side salad. Isn’t this single serving just darling? It’d be great for a dinner party too and I promise, no one will notice the calorie difference.

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{photo credit: Skinny Mom}

Next, I don’t know if you’ve heard that this Olympics thing is starting next week, but I’m pretty pumped. So pumped, that we are going to be hosting an Opening Ceremonies gathering- Yay! So, in between visits and HHE work, I’ve been obsessed with the NBC Olympics website. More on this as the games begin and progress, but fair warning, I might disappear until February 24th. (p.s. aren’t the pictograms gorgeous?!)

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Lastly, my winter commentary. As someone who lives in the Midwest, “snowmagedon” is somewhat of an interesting thing to watch my Southern friends cope with this week. The traffic and stresses that come with unusual conditions can be downright frustrating, I know. White stuff falls from the sky- school is closed, grocery store shelves are bare and everyone is a five year old experiencing ‘winter weather’ for the first time. Don’t read this the wrong way my dears, I too was overjoyed that snow was falling when we lived down South. I’m so grateful that, even in its novelty, snow brings such joy and happiness to so many. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of our annual snow walk photos with you.

As you might remember, AJP and I take a snow walk in the first blanketing snowfall each year to experience the peace and beauty that is around us in those first few hours. Ok, maybe it’s a me thing, but he’s so sweet to play along and enjoy it with me. Yes, we also goof around and have races to the bridge on the trail (the result of which sometimes may or may not be me slipping and wiping out ‘gracefully’).

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So, while some people really dislike snow and this ‘polar vortex’ phenomenon, let this be a little reminder that there is still fun to be had and joy to be found in the little things. With that, I wish you all a very happy, cozy and relaxing social media free weekend with your loved ones.

xoxo- Jenn

Warm Thinking | European Inspiration

I don’t know about you, but I am getting geared up mentally for warm weather. So of course, I couldn’t help dreaming about an exotic and romantic, warm wedding this week.

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{Burnett’s Boards | Ventana Photography | PinterestMagnolia Rouge}

The warm colors and romantic details in this Spanish inspired board just have me wishing for a vacation to Calvià with friends. The delicate artistry in the paper cuts of that stationery suite by Alexis June Creative are to die for and that blue tile has me thinking of great conversation as the ocean breeze wafts into the reception.

If all of your nearest and dearest could attend, where would your dream wedding destination be?

xoxo- Jenn

Stepping into Fear

Happy Friday my darlings!

This week has been such a rollercoaster. I don’t know how many of you have been working on Power Sheets and attended the webinar on the 15th, but it just lit my heart on FIRE! The thought that keeps coming to mind is to LIVE ON PURPOSE. Like Lara noted, life- real, down and dirty, hard working, meaningful and fulfilling LIFE- begins at the end of your comfort zone.

How amazing is that?! I have heard that many times over the years, but it wasn’t until this season in my life, in the waiting, that it is finally making sense. This week I have stepped into so many fears and put things off that I thought had to happen, in order to focus on the things that I KNOW are more important. That is so FREEING.

I put myself out there and jumped into a whole new community twice this week. I was so nervous in both circumstances, and you know what, I was welcomed by such warm hearts, encouragement and smiles. I am finally connecting with people on a more personal level, getting face-to-face time and branching out. It feels so AMAZING!

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{Leggy Legend}

The other night, on my way home from one of these community gatherings, this song came on the radio and the lyrics just fit so perfectly:

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing”

So amazing. YES. I have found this song so uplifting and comforting so many times in the past few years. It amazes me how there is a different and just as profound application to so many different situations.

This weekend, I get to spend some good, focused time making dreams happen, having fun with new friends and truly making what matters come to life. I am so excited to see what is ahead and so incredibly grateful for the people in my life. Y’all are so amazing and supportive- even if I haven’t met you in person yet, thank you.

A little shout out to my two besties, both of whom have BIG changes on the horizon in the next few months: You are both amazing women and I know you are going to do marvelous and awesome things in these new chapters in your life. Never forget that I am always here to have a Skype dance party with and tell you how FABULOUS you are!!

That goes for any of you. Use that contact page– I want to encourage and truly connect with more people this year. Don’t be afraid to take risks for your dreams. Sometimes, the things you are most afraid of are the most rewarding when you dive in.

xoxo- Jenn

No Doubt

Well, hello my loves!

Yesterday was my one year blog-iversary and I cannot believe it! There have been so many changes and improvements in that short amount of time, not just for the blog, but in other areas of my life. It is just a little wake up call, that when you are enjoying what you do and it comes from the heart, there is no room to doubt progress. Let me tell you, that is something that is resonating with me so much this month. I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely say it again, but patience is definitely not my strong suit. I am constantly reminding myself to focus on the positive, make the best happen with what I have and not hide from the world until my circumstances are “right”. (p.s. who defines ‘right’?)

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Do any of you ever get bogged down and in the dumps because of the pretty lives we see on social media- of people with more than we have making things happen and  the seemingly perfect life portrayed by photos on Instagram? Let me tell you, it is far too easy to slip into that negative mentality these days. There is no fault in putting your best self out there, but we have to remember that everyone is human and no one is perfect. We are all doing the best we can, with what we have. I stumbled across this quote the other day while working on my MTH2014 board, and it just stuck with me. It almost jumped off the page, screaming at me to STOP!

Stop doubting and comparing myself and the dreams on my heart. Why do I have those days where I let one downer thought work its way into every tiny corner? When so many people believe in and support me, why don’t I do the same for myself? It’s awfully silly, isn’t it?

Today is the day. The day that I start having more faith in myself, my dreams and my talent. I just typed that I have talent- whoa…. Yes, I do and so do you! I might be psyching myself up a bit here, but I truly believe in my heart of hearts that we all have amazing talents that are made to be shared with the world. Don’t be the reason your talents are hidden and stifled. Let them take center stage and shine! DO NOT DOUBT. Your dreams are far too important for you to defeat yourself or let anyone rob you of that joy.

Now, make a list of 5 things that you love about yourself, your talent, your life and focus on those this week! We can do this darlings! Life is going to happen and it’s going to be marvelous!

xoxo- Jenn

Oh Deer, Hello 2014!

I don’t even know where to begin! These first few days of the year have been so full of blessings. If this is a sign of what is to come, bring it on 2014!!

“Oh Deer” indeed. Y’all, this post has been a long time coming and I’m welling up and shaking as I type this. As some of you know, a dream that has been on my heart for years has been in the works. Though there is still a long way to go and these are small and humble beginnings, it is with pure and unbridled JOY that I show you a peek into the dream.

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This past year, I took a leap and started the process of becoming a small business owner. Just typing that gives me chills! This fall, I had the pleasure of organizing my very first styled inspiration shoot. The team that we gathered are truly amazing people and many are now friends. I honestly cannot express in words how grateful I am to every, single one of them and their open hearts and support! More on that later, I promise, but the reason for this timing is that our shoot was FEATURED yesterday, over here, on Love and Lavender!!!!!!

This shoot has so much meaning for me, not only for HHE, but also personally. There are so many little details that hold so many memories for me. There are pieces of my family and friends scattered throughout- pieces of my heart, out in the universe. Without further ado–

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I designed the shoot around her love for feminine touches and sparkle, mixed with his love of hunting and nature. The plaid is a subtle nod to my Scottish heritage, which was the original spark of inspiration for me. Though this was a winter inspired shoot, I didn’t want it to look too ‘Christmassy’, so we kept the palette neutral with pops of color in the floral design and details. Weeds Florist did a fabulous job with the beautiful arrangements. The textures and organic shapes were so fitting and absolutely gorgeous!

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View More: http://emilycrall.pass.us/ohdeer

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For the table settings, we were able to find some antlers to use for a masculine touch and added dimension. The beautiful linens, wooden chargers, hammered silverware and gold-rimmed china were so perfect from Spielman’s Event Services, among other lovely details.

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Tori of Victoria Austin Designs crafted the paper suite. She is such a dear to work with and her designs were perfect for the vision I had in mind. The gold envelopes, calligraphy and wonderful textured edges were to die for. Also, how darling are those favor bags? Not only did they contain delicious cookies from Sweet Satisfaction, but they also served as escort cards! I love when details serve double duty.

View More: http://emilycrall.pass.us/ohdeer

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One of my favorite details was the gold deer! I spray painted figurines found at the craft store. This was so simple, yet they added such an elegant and whimsical touch throughout the décor. We used them everywhere- on the cake, the guestbook and favor tables, place settings and even as place card holders.

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View More: http://emilycrall.pass.us/ohdeer

Our models are a real life couple that I am blessed to call friends. They were such a joy to have on the shoot and I couldn’t have imagined doing this without them. They are good people, y’all!

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Can we please talk about the amazing and enchanting Martina Liana gown from Hope’s Bridal? I had an illusion neckline ball gown in mind when we went dress shopping and this one just took our breath away! The simple and debonair look of a classic bow-tie tuxedo is one of my favorites and added an elegant touch to the other rustic details.

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Sorry this was so long darlings, but there were so many amazing photos from the fabulous Emily Crall that I had to share! Emily- thank you for these beautiful images and late night texts and support. To everyone who was a part of this, thank you from the bottom of my heart- you ROCK and I could not have pulled this together without you!

View More: http://emilycrall.pass.us/ohdeer

Cheers to dreams and everything your heart desires in 2014!!

xoxo- Jenn

Photography: Emily Crall //  Hair: Kailee Seward // Make Up: Salon Luxe // Gown & Accessories: Hope’s Bridal // Tux: Milroy’s Tuxedos // Florals: Weeds Florist // Paper Goods: Victoria Austin Designs // Treats and Cake: Sweet Satisfaction // Rentals and Linens: Spielman’s Event Services // Prints: SS Print Shop

She Leaves a Trail of Glitter

Happy New Year’s Eve Darlings!!

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{ SMP | Lily & Val| Burnett’s Boards | Pinterest }

As we ring in another year, I hope that you are enjoying some amazing festivities and looking forward to a better and brighter 2014! While we will be spending the night in, enjoying some family time and delicious homemade mac-n-cheese from our warm view of the fresh fallen snow, I couldn’t resist dreaming up a glitzy fete!

What a fabulously fresh and bright color palette to ring in the new year! It is joyful, fun and clean– all things that new beginnings represent. That ‘Bubbly Bar’ print from Lily&Val is so fab, I must have one! Of course, you cannot have a NYE party without making some noise and I absolutely adore those gold noise makers, and those mint menus– so pretty. Of course, some bright blooms are necessary to liven things up and accent that amazing glitter gown! How are you celebrating the amazing things in 2013 and welcoming next year?

Let’s do this 2014! You are going to rock!!

xoxo- Jenn

Make It Happen!

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As 2013 draws to a close, it is time to start goal setting and making my #powersheets work for me! Do any of you have plans to sit down, refocus on your core and Make It Happen in 2014?! Whatever “it” is for you, I know you will make it a reality. There is no room for doubt when you dream big. Don’t be afraid to dream and DO bigger, crazier, more outlandish things this year! They are only so until you do them!

With Christmas festivities this past week and New Years coming up, life has been hectic, but finding time to take for ourselves is so important. I am locking myself in my girl cave this weekend for a big chunk of the day to do whatever my heart desires and really dig into my goals and dreams for this coming year. This is also something that AJP and I like to chat about– goals for us, not just my personal goals. I really encourage you to discuss your dreams and goals with your family, spouse, besties and anyone who will listen. You’d be surprised how even the most unlikely of listeners can help you hone in on your goals and encourage you.

If you need a little kick in the pants and some guidance, head on over to Lara’s blog today. Don’t think that it all has to happen now, baby steps will help you realize your dreams little by little. Are you going to get a jump start this weekend? Are you going to make 2014 the best year yet!? I would love for you to leave your goals in the comments as well, so we can support each other and be held accountable.

I adore this beautiful print (above) by Lara– it will soon sit atop my desk as a daily reminder! Go ahead and dive in, Make Things Happen in your life- you won’t regret it!

Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend loves!

xoxo- Jenn

Sugar Plums & Waltzes

Happy Christmas Eve darlings!!

In this season of grace, love and miracles, I couldn’t think of a better inspiration than my favorite holiday ballet- The Nutcracker! The fantastic imagination, beauty and wonder that it evokes are perfect elements to infuse into your wedding as well.

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{ The Knot | Style Me Pretty | Kiss The Groom | Creature of Comfort | Pinterest }

This is definitely a departure from what you would typically think of when the Nutcracker comes to mind, I know. For me, it’s all about the elegance and colors of The Waltz of the Flowers and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies; they have always been my favorites. Maybe because of the beautiful, bright colors and the amazing pink tutus; maybe because of the pure femininity of everything; the happiness and pure joy that I always see on the ballerinas faces- I am always completely mesmerized. What is it about the beauty and artistry of dance, combined with such amazing, soul-stirring music that just gets us to jump into the experience with all our hearts? That is the kind of enveloping and compelling feeling that I hope everyone feels at their wedding (or watching any ballet/performance).

I hope you all have an absolutely blessed and love filled Christmas surrounded by those you hold most dear.

xoxo- Jenn

Cookies For Santa

How is it that Christmas Eve is tomorrow?! Where did the season go? If you are like me, you’ve lost track of time and are just now getting to your holiday baking at the last hour. Or maybe you want to just keep baking up until Santa arrives? Either way, I’ve got you covered!

As you read over here, there are some traditions that always happen in our home, including baking Spritz cookies. Other than that, I usually make a variety of whatever our hearts desire. This year, that meant 5 delicious batches. You can find recipe sources linked at the bottom of this post.

First up were Peanut Butter Cookie Truffles and Peppermint Twists for my coworkers. The Truffles are, hands down, the most requested year round and they are so easy! This recipe can be adapted using any of your favorite cookie recipes- just sub in some milk for moisture in lieu of the eggs. I did just that, with my favorite Peanut Butter cookie recipe!

For the Peppermint Twists, you can make them into candy cane shapes or sticks. I usually end up doing a combination, depending on time and  how well I split out my dough for coloring. You can also top these with crushed candy canes, but I opted for simple this year.

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You didn’t think I’d deliver them in a tupperware container, did you? I found this darling box at the Dollar Store (yes, you read that right!). Along with some kraft crinkle paper and some goodies, this is a simple, pretty and thoughtful gift for anyone on your list.

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Next up, Spritz balls (I couldn’t find my cookie press this year…) , chocolate chip and drop sugar cookies. Normally I prefer cut out sugar cookies, but with so much more to enjoy this year, we just went with drops. They are just as delicious and simply melt in your mouth, I promise!

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Recipes: Truffles | Peanut Butter Cookie DoughPeppermint Twists | Spritz | Chocolate Chip | Sugar Cookies

Happy baking lovelies! Wishing you the yummiest and happiest of Christmases!

xoxo- Jenn

Just Being

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{Lauren Ledbetter}

I don’t know about y’all, but as we near the end of 2013, I’m finding myself focusing on everything I’ve not gotten to or not accomplished this past year. What a downer outlook to have on what truly has been a great year. Are you in the same camp? Instead, we should be looking at all of the baby steps, strides and leaps that we have taken toward big dreams and making what matters happen. Really HAPPEN!!

I’m already getting so excited about it just typing right now! In the midst of the holiday hustle that is upon us and the promise of a new chapter in 2014, let us remember to focus on the good, positive and blessed pieces of your life.  Now, go press play on your own dance party and toss some confetti in the air, because you deserve it and are going to do amazing things! And remember loves, that “Just being is FUN!”

Happy Thursday!

xoxo- Jenn

Brown Paper Packages

Tied up with string…

One of my favorite parts of gift giving is the wrapping. Every year, I choose a different aesthetic and completely coordinate my wrapping bits and pieces. This year, I’m using patterned craft paper and washi tape with red and white ribbons. Sadly, I forgot to snap a few photos before shipping, so here are a few of my favorite inspiration looks, if you are still searching for some fun ideas.

gift wrap 1

{SHE Paperie | SMP | Sugar Paper LA | Emmaline Bride}

If you like to be a bit more bright and girly, one of these might work. Or maybe try some combinations! The most important and fun thing is to be creative and show your personality.

gift wrap 2

{Odessa May Society | PaigesOfStyle | Pinterest | Paper Crave}

What are your favorite gift wrap go-to’s? Do you like to go the traditional route or spice things up? Happy gift giving lovelies!

xoxo- Jenn

Holiday Treasures

“Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34)

I know I have been a bit absent on the blog the past week and a half y’all. That is due to some holiday cheer, daily grind and this amazing surprise of a week my darling AJP planned for me!

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw our adventure unfold as we waited and held our breathe through 2 days of flight delays, cancellations and stand by options. We finally arrived in Dallas on Monday night to visit my family!! The best part- my mom had NO clue that we were coming. I didn’t even know until right before we left. The look on her face and the smiles that followed were unforgettable.

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about town

{iphone photos: a few lovelies from our escapades around town this week, including some gifts from a dear friend}

We’ve been able to spend a lot of quality family time this week and my Maw-Maw is in town to boot! We may be celebrating a bit early this year, but it’s the best Christmas gift a girl could ask for. There have been so many belly laughs, delicious meals (both homemade and at our favorite spots), shopping and so much more. One of the trivial highlights for me was to walk through Anthropologie and see all of the pretties in person. Not to mention how amazingly they decorate for the holidays!

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{The moment I saw this Rifle Paper Co. card, I stopped dead in my tracks!}

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{can I just move in please?!}

I hope that all of you have the opportunity, not just during the holidays, but all year to spend with those who matter most to you and focus on the time and conversation with the people around you. This week, more than ever, I have tried to stay relatively social media free and participate in #PresentDecember. I cannot tell you in words how amazing it has been to be in the moment and truly enjoy everything going on around me- including conversations between my parents about Chihuahuas and Blizzards from DQ. These are very important topics in the Tate household and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Happy weekend my dears and don’t forget to turn  your phone over, go outside and partake in some winter wonderland fun! We sure will be savoring every moment for the remainder of our trip this weekend! Cheers to some Gigi’s cupcakes and cocoa while we take in a Christmas movie with my family.

xoxo- Jenn

Fervently Festive

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{Gabba Gabba Gorgeous}

No matter how many years pass, I will always get excited about Christmas. Every year, I wake up the Friday after Thanksgiving ready to launch into decorating and gift wrapping, singing carols and baking delicious yummies. There is an excitement and fervor that is unmatched the rest of the year. I may not be the person with the most holiday cheer, but I bet I’m right on up there!

So, in the spirit of Christmas, here are a few things that we always have in the house for the holidays.

holiday festive

{White Christmas | Wreath | Cozy Pillows (via Target 2012)| Spritz Cookies | Snow Walks | Cocoa Mugs}

Ok, so snow walks aren’t in the house, but since I was little, the peace and majesty of the first snowfall of the year will always be special to me. Every year, we take a walk in the snow and enjoy the smell of the crisp air, the blanket of glistening and serene white and good company. So, it should be no surprise that my all- time favorite Christmas movie is White Christmas. We watch it at least once a year and I almost always have Bing Crosby serenading our holiday.

A wreath to welcome visitors, family and friends into our home. When we get our own front door (not one in a hallway), I plan to have a wreath for every season. They jazz up the entrance into our home and are a first impression of sorts; plus, who doesn’t love some Holidazzle out front? The cozy deer pillow above is one of many that we scooped up at Target last season. They are so cozy, soft and fluffy. We like crisp and rustic lodge holiday decor, so these fit the bill perfectly. Sadly, it looks like they are no longer available.

These last two pieces go hand in hand- Almond Spritz cookies and our darling Lennox cocoa mugs. We always have cocoa and cookies while decorating our tree and dancing to Christmas music. Spritz cookies are my weakness, they don’t last very long in our house.

When it comes to the wonder and magic of the Christmas season, I will always be a five year old waiting to decorate, spend time with family and, of course, wear my pretty, twirly Christmas dress to church!

What are your Christmas staples? I cannot wait to see how ours evolve in the years to come!

xoxo- Jenn

Thankful Table

I hope everyone was able to spend some quality time with family and friends  yesterday! I am so beyond thankful for laughing, face time with distant family, games and the simple fact that we are blessed enough to (over) indulge with delicious food made with love and full of tradition.

That is what our tablescape was all about yesterday. Ever so simple, but full of meaning and love. We made a table runner out of brown packing paper and listed a word at every place setting that is a pillar of Thanksgiving and a gratitude focused life. Each member of our family wrote what they are thankful for, fun quotes and memories from the day and anything they had on their heart. With our family, that meant a whole lot of goofy notes.

The cornhusk pilgrims were hand crafted by Adam’s great grandmother and how beautiful are those red glass goblets that our Babi Elsie had?! They elevated the settings so much. My favorite thing, of course, was the group of people around this table- priceless!

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We didn’t forget our younger guests. Their table was covered with the same kraft paper and we gave them free reign for creativity and crafting their own little Turkeys!

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In a later post, I’ll share how we are going to turn this into a very personal and meaningful Christmas gift for our grandparents this year. Now that it’s officially the Christmas Season, I cannot wait to share more with you about my favorite things!

xoxo- Jenn

Gobble, Gobble

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{Martha Stewart Living}

Happy Thanksgiving my dears!

I hope that you are spending your day with those you love. I can’t wait to share more with you about our simple and family centered table scape! We are making it kid friendly, getting some Christmas gifts out of it and keeping it ready for games and shenanigans at the drop of a roll. Happy eating, gratitude sharing and blissful moments today and always!

xoxo- Jenn

Thankful Tuesday

This week’s inspiration is a bit different. Instead of inspiration for parties or home decor, I wanted to share with you the inspirations in my life that I am beyond thankful for!

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Not only have I been blessed with an amazing family, but last year I officially gained an equally fabulous extended family. Combine that with the unmatched circle of friends, my chosen family, who make up my support system and that’s enough to be overflowing with GRATITUDE. We are some of the silliest people and always have fun when we get together, but they are also who I can be my broken self in front of, my sounding board, and a soft place to land after a hard day.  I’m also continually pinching myself that I’ve had the opportunity to make friends all over the globe. Every, single relationship in my life fills my cup to its brim and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This group of people inspire me in so many ways to better myself and reach for the stars. I can never thank them enough for what they add to my life.

family thanksgiving

{disclaimer: there is not enough room for me to get everyone in my life onto this board, so I’m sorry if I missed  you}

Then, on top of that, there are the beautiful and marvelous things we see and experience in our daily lives. Flowers, water, animals, sunsets (let’s be honest, I’m rarely up to see the sun rise), freshly fallen snow (as of late), cozy coffee dates, the power and beauty of the written word, music (oh, how it fuels my soul), grace, Love, dance parties, random moments and just being blessed to live each and every day in this wonderful LIFE!

This year, I have been making a concerted effort to focus on the positive and the blessings. Our Joy Jar is filling up and we have another full month to fill it and then look through it on New Year’s Day!

What are some things, big or small, that you are thankful for every day? Not just in this time of Thanksgiving?

xoxo- Jenn

Cozy Days Ahead

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!

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{Kinfolk}

I cannot believe it is already Friday! This week has flown by and been so packed full of life that it doesn’t even seem like last week happened. I’m so looking forward to a weekend with no social media, family and friends, getting glammed up for our first holiday card (EEK!) and so much more! Hopefully relaxing with some cocoa will find its way into our days. After all, cozy weather is upon us and I cannot wait to get a fire going and fill the house with holiday cheer (only one week left)!!

Happy weekend lovlies!

xoxo- Jenn