Browsing Tag



French 75

July 18, 2014


When I think of weddings, one of the first things that come to mind is champagne… the toasts, the bubbles, champagne flutes – so romantic right?  In honor of wedding week, I wanted to provide you with a classic champagne cocktail recipe – the French 75.  The fun of champagne with a dangerous little twist!


French 75

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2-3 oz champagne or sparkling wine
  1. Combine gin, lemon juice and simple syrup in an ice filled shaker.  Shake for a good 30 seconds until frosty.
  2. Strain into chilled champagne flute and top with champagne/sparkling wine.
  3. Garnish with lemon twist.






*The key here is dry champagne and ice cold ingredients – the colder the better!



How to Make a Wedding Binder

July 16, 2014


After last year’s Wedding Week, my most asked question was – where did you get your wedding binder?  After multiple tutorial requests, I figured one was long overdue… so here we go!

  1. Get a binder. Bigger is better. I think I upgraded binder sizes 3 times. Save yourself the hassle and start with an 1.5 inch (at least).
  2. Create tabs. These will/can be different for everyone, plus they will evolve throughout the planning process (details on my tabs later).  I also created a table of contents at the front of my binder to help with navigation.
  3. Organize as you go. Whether you are half way through the planning process, or just beginning, take the paperwork you have (anything from magazine clippings you like, to the guest list) and give them a home in the binder.  I used plastic sleeves to hold loose clippings or smaller pieces of paper.  I also made sure that an extra copy of the invitation, program, etc. were all kept safe in the binder (my binder turned into a type of scrapbook by the end of the wedding!).
  4. Have a wedding Excel file. I had an ongoing Excel file up at all times to track RSVPs, wedding gifts, and attendance to various weddings events… I HIGHLY recommend you do the same.
  5. Keep current. I made sure to have updated lists, contracts, etc. filed and threw out old ones, as to not be confused.  Make sure that all inspiration is aligns with your final vision.  Started with a garden party theme and now want a more city chic approach? Get rid of anything that doesn’t match the final product.


Ok so now onto the fun stuff… here were my tabs and what I included in each of them (please disregard any confusing tab names/contents… this is just what worked for me and my organization process):

Guest List

  • RSVP Guest List Spreadsheet – included RSVP tracking for all events (wedding, hotel, friday reception, welcome bags, etc.)
  • Gift Spreadsheet – kept track of all gifts and whether a thank you note had been sent yet or not
  • Address Spreadsheet – I kept track over everyone’s addresses and weather or not invites were sent out


  • CVR Contract – our copy of the contract (good to have at the front of the binder to review throughout the planning process)
  • BEO (Banquet Event Order) – our timing, menu requirements, room set-up, etc. were all listed here
  • Final Invoice – CVR’s final invoice statement
  • Budget Spreadsheet – I broke our budget down accordingly, and also tracked estimated, adjusted and actual costs, deposit amounts, payment due dates, fixed/fluctuating costs, etc.
  • Agenda – I had our itinerary overview listed out for the weekend
  • Vendor List – from ceremony location to our band, all vendors were listed in one place


  • Checklist – CVR (our wedding location) provided a check-list that I stored here
  • Wedding Follow-up – I saved our list of notes/questions that we came prepared with for our last planning meeting, and tracked their changes/progress



  • Timeline – I had a minute by minute timeline prepared that included each and every detail – from when each vendor was arriving, to when the DJ would start playing for the reception.
  • To-Do List – I had every app known to man, but it was helpful to have an old fashioned to-do list (that I created/didn’t download) that had specific tasks I needed to do (i.e. order ice cream sandwiches, finalize welcome letters, get eyelash extensions)
  • Bridal Party Agenda – this was distributed to the bridal party at the beginning of the weekend and was a simple one sheet that contained where they needed to be for photos, event start times, and bridal party phone numbers
  • Checklist – I had a good ol’ downloaded off the internet checklist that broke things down according to time frame (12 months out, 9 months out, 1 day out, etc.)


  • Brochure/Pamphlet – I included a pamphlet from our venue (helpful in shopping various vendors our space)
  • Map – Venue map
  • Photos – enlarged photos of the space to help navigate our ceremony and reception locations

Friday Activity

  • Agenda – our wedding was a weekend affair, so I made sure to break down the activities for each day (including headcount, menus, etc.
  • Welcome Bag Count – I created a spreadsheet (SURPRISE) to pass off to the front desk for distribution with guest name/what the room was booked under/hotel name/etc.
  • Welcome Bag Collage – I used Publisher to create a collage of all of the items in the bag for an easy visual (pretzels, Advil, sunscreen, Shout wipes, Fruit Snacks, Pop Chips, etc.
  • Financials – I made sure to include receipts, contracts (for Friday’s dinner space), party bus invoice, etc. all in one spot


Saturday Activities

  • Agenda – Saturday’s activities listed all in one place
  • Inspiration Collages – I used Publisher to put together images from my Pintrest boards all in one place.  I found this super helpful when working with vendors (florists, etc.) to help give them a vibe of where I wanted to go with decor


  • Clippings – I used this space to save my favorite magazine articles (favor ideas, honeymoon tips, etc.)
  • Collages – I also stored random inspiration collages for favors, bouquets, cake ideas, etc.
  • Honeymoon Itinerary 



  • Details – Stored all ceremony details (officiant, favors, marriage license, program vendor, cocktail hour drinks, etc.)
  • Ceremony Decor Inspiration Collage
  • Favor Inspiration Collage
  • Program Design Collage – as well as program design, invoice, mock-ups, etc.
  • Favor Invoices

Cocktail Reception

  • Drink, Food & Decor Collages – Pintrest inspiration

Dinner Reception

  • Seating Chart
  • Reception & Table Decor Collage
  • Reception Menu 


  • Floral Inspiration Collage 
  • Florist Bid/Quote



  • DJ Survey/Planner
  • DJ Contract


  • Photo Contract
  • Photo Schedule 


  • Bridal Party Collage
  • Dress/Suit Invoices – alteration slips, etc


  • Invitations – mock-ups, final copies, etc.
  • Programs, Menus, etc.


Once everything has a home, add a fun cover (I used Photoshop to create one that matched my invitations) and you will be ready to go! Happy planning!



Anniversary Party – Planning and Prep

August 8, 2013

I believe preparation is key.  My sisters and I were fully able to enjoy the day and even spent the afternoon poolside – and not running around doing last minute errands (for the most part :)!

30th Anniversary Party 243

This is the first event where I delegated more tasks, and although financially it may not be the most sound choice, I HIGHLY recommend it for special events (ie. a cleaning lady, a caterer). But we did take on a lot of tasks ourselves, but with 3 helping hands and months to prep we were happy with the turnout.

Here was our checklist and preparation schedule:

To Do List

Prep Timeline

I also created a binder for this event (surprise! surprise!) with tabs for the following:

  • Menus (contained dinner menu, appetizer menu and grocery/shopping lists)
  • Rentals (contained contracts, rental invoice for tables, flatware, linens, etc.)
  • Invitations (contained invitation, guest/RSVP list)
  • Timeline (contained to-do lists, timeline, schedules, checklists, etc.)
  • Inspiration (contained Pintrested images of ideas we wanted to implement)
  • Layout (contained backyard layout of stations, tables, etc. and seating chart options)

Having everything in one place (contracts, images, lists, etc.) is super helpful to me and something I REALLY recommend.  Plus after your party is complete you have a guide on how to replicate your event!

I also wanted to share some little details that we were proud of!

Place Cards – we searched long and hard for a clever, fun idea on place cards and couldn’t find one we liked!  I had read in Lisa Vanderpump’s entertaining book (don’t judge) that she uses little framed photos of her friends for place cards and I thought wouldn’t Polaroids be a fun, contemporary spin on this!? When each guest arrived we had them pose for a quick photo and then we added the image to their seat before dinner.  It made for an amazing conversation starter and a great keepsake! (I recommend letting guests grab a cocktail or two before… makes for better pictures 🙂

Personalized Details – I love the idea of a few personalized details at an event and I felt for this party, a modern, metallic monogram would be just the thing.  I found a website called Society Social which makes very high quality, custom items and we were excited to grab up the matchboxes and napkins for the party!

30th Anniversary Party 154Menus: I’m also a huge fan of printed menus.  Whether that is a large sign, or individual settings, it makes it much easier than explaining which each course is.  I downloaded a fun font via and printed the menu on some gorgeous, heavy stock. I cut it down to plate size and used it as part of our table setting. Menus: I’m also a huge fan of printed menus.  Whether that is a large sign, or individual settings, it makes it much easier than explaining which each course is.  I downloaded a fun font via and printed the menu on some gorgeous, heavy stock. I cut it down to plate size and used it as part of our table setting. 30th Anniversary Party 366Flowers: I will go to my grave repping Costco flowers… all it requires is a little planning and you will save oodles on gorgeous blooms!  For the party I bought 200 white roses, 100 calla lillies and 100 hydrangeas for under $400! I mean you can easily spend $200 for a couple dozen roses at Valentine’s Day! Such a joke. Anyway… You have to order them precisely a week and a half before your event date, but you can pick which date you’d like them delivered in a two day window and once the blooms arrive channel your inner Martha and get to designing.  I have been collecting glass vases the past few months, so I made sure to follow my flower prep guide and make arrangements accordingly!

30th Anniversary Party 322

With a little planning, some preparation and a few little details I believe you will have a slam dunk party every time! Entertaining is a love language, and what better way to share the love than going the extra mile? Happy planning!


30th Anniversary Party

August 5, 2013

My parents will be celebrating their 30th Anniversary this week, so we thought what better way to mark this major milestone than with a party?! My sisters and I have been working on this for quite a while…  so I wanted to share it with you all!


Throughout the week I’ll be highlighting some of our favorite parts of the planning process – what to wear, what to serve, details not to miss! But today I wanted to focus on food and the menu… and better yet a great new company for those of you who live in the Bay Area or LA – Kitchit!  The company provides private chefs that can accommodate any event type – anything from a 5 course menu for 2, to a causal family style feast for 30.  Another feature I found really cool is you can split the bill online, so you can book as a group!

30th Anniversary Party 391

We were lucky enough to have Chef Anne help us out – her food is amazing, she’s super nice/professional/fun/accommodating and we definitely are looking forward to hosting another event that she can help us with!  Here is her fabulous family-style menu for us (my mom is gluten-free, she created a menu that would reflect that… and make my dad happy at the same time!):


Heirloom Tomatoes, Burrata & Basil with Cornbread Croutons

Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches, Marcona Almonds, Ricotta Salata and Shallot Vinaigrette

Tuscan Dry-Rubbed Chicken with Chimichurri

 Summer Fruit Shortcakes with Whipped Creme Fraiche

30th Anniversary Party 210Recapping the event today, my sisters and I couldn’t have been happier with the party – from great wine and food, to some memorable toasts and stories, and finishing with Fireball and a dance party, it definitely was one for the books… looking forward to the 50th anniversary party! Love you Mom and Dad!


Wedding Week – Top 10 Tips

July 12, 2013

Whitney's Camera 044

Here are a few things I wish I would have known before the wedding planning process (I wish I wrote this list a year ago when everything was fresh, but here is what still sticks with me… 52 weeks later…):

  1. Go with the flow.  Something is bound to go wrong (not in a pessimistic way… it just most likely will).  So if there is a typo on your invites or a groomsmen gets sick the day of the wedding, just roll with it… because in a year you will forgot all of those life shattering “hiccups.”
  2. Don’t forget about tax and gratuity. When creating our budget Jeremy and I forgot about a little thing called gratuity and tax that they tack on to your bill.  This number can be anywhere in the $100’s to $1000’s of dollars, so be aware when budgeting.
  3. There are no rules.  Luckily our generation is figuring it out and learning that you don’t have to have your wedding “a certain way.” J and opted out of a first dance, throwing the garter or anything we weren’t excited about/comfortable with.  Some people may look at you funny, but at the end of the day it’s your day!
  4. Hire a videographer.  Every advice column I read said to hire one and I ignored their advice… and now I regret it.  I would love to watch our vows again or listen to my dad and sister’s speeches… there are so many fun memories that a picture can’t fully capture.
  5. Keep an eye out for hidden fees.  We had to negotiate our way out of fees for everything from bread rolls (vs. sliced bread) to extra heaters.  Be aware of these ahead of time, so you are smacked with a giant bill when you get back from your honeymoon.  Also, be aware of little things you may forget to put in your budget – postage for invites/thank yous/RSVP cards,
  6. Splurge on open bar.  This obviously is down to personal preference/budget, but I would advise cutting in other areas to make this happen.  It is a nice touch and ensures that everyone is having a blast on the dance floor 🙂
  7. Don’t forget other events.  If you are having a destination wedding of any kind, don’t forget to include the rehearsal dinner, activities, brunch/lunch, etc. into your budget.  Welcome bags are also a nice touch for out of town guests. We bought these cute bags (our last name is Beaver), and filled them with treats we bought of Amazon (sunscreen, Pop Chips, Fiji water, candy, Advil, etc.) as well as an itinerary and welcome letter.
  8. Timelines.  Everyone says how fast the day goes (which is does), but we made sure to take in the little moments (all your loved ones sharing a meal with you, dancing to our favorite songs).  I also made a timeline (ahead of time), to have a better idea of what needed to get accomplished when.  I also made a chart with all vendors names and contact info, as well as the time they’d be arriving.  It was helpful to know when and where someone would be should an issue arise.
  9. Pick your battles. No matter how close you are to a family member/friend, something will come up that will not have the easiest solution.  Maybe it’s guest list additions, or your mom wants you to wear her (very 80’s) wedding dress.  Take a deep breath, hear them out and pick your battles.  It isn’t worth getting into a giant fight over a plus one.
  10. Enjoy your day!  You just spent a huge chunk of your (and your parents, and your husbands, and your husbands family’s) savings, so make sure to try every appetizer, eat your dinner, dance with your family and laugh with your friends!  This is your day!

For more of wedding tips/suggestions check out the following:

Planning and Prep

Venue and Vendors

Decor and Dresses

Gowns and Garb

* Images by John Plus Louise Photography