Friday, July 29, 2016

4 Old School Bridal Shower Rules You Can Forget About

Having a bridal shower is a great excuse to gather together the key women in a bride's life for a pre-wedding celebration. If you're hosting a bridal shower for your daughter, BFF or other engaged lady in your life — or just a bride helping out with the shower itinerary — you might be wondering how much "tradition" you have to stick to with this party of yours. What do you absolutely have to have at this bridal shower?

The answer: Nothing. Nowadays, a bridal shower can truly be whatever the bride and her host want it to be. Perhaps you're keen on having a classic fête with tea and sandwiches served on silver trays, or you're more into a ruckus bottomless mimosa brunch full of good food and tons of laughs, or you want to do something active, like an afternoon of bowling or a paint night. If you're wondering what rules you can forget about, to make the shower less formal, here are six old fashioned guidelines that you can totes throw out the window.

1. Opening Gifts
One of the main events at any bridal shower is when the bride-to-be opens up her gifts. But this can be such a long process and, sometimes, even make guests feel weird, since they may not have spent as much as the person next to them. If you want to leave this classic activity off the agenda, go for it — just let guests know that the bride will open the gifts with her fiancé at home.

2. Playing Games
You (or the bride) might not want to have a bridal shower where guests play games like guessing facts about the bride and her fiancé. We get it. Opt for a fun alternative to those worn out shower games, or just skip the games all together. Just make sure you have some other activity to entertain guests — otherwise you might end up with some impromptu requests for bridal shower bingo.

3. Making It Girls Only
Gone are the days of "no boys allowed" bridal showers. If the bride isn't too thrilled at the prospect of a pre-wedding event without her future hubby, extend an invite to relatives or even your best friends that just so happen to be males.

4. It's for Wedding Guests Only
There are a slew of reasons why this rule can be thrown out the window. The bride might have some friends she wasn't able to invite to the wedding because of a small budget or venue, or she and her fiancé made a blanket rule like "no coworkers" that prevented her from inviting some of her nearest and dearest. Regardless of the reason for their lack of wedding invite, feel free to loop these folks in on the bridal shower guest list — they'll likely be thrilled to have been included, and the bride will still get a chance to celebrate her wedding with them.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

6 Easy Ways to Tell If Wedding Planning Has Totally Taken Over Your Life

  • stressed couple
  • Photo: Getty Images
    Planning a wedding is no small task. In fact, according to Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Events and cofounder of The Poppy Group, many couples spend no less than 200 hours organizing their big days. But in addition to being a huge time commitment, "wedding planning involves budgets, family relations, emotions, etiquette dos and don'ts, not to mention hundreds of decisions," she points out.

    Of course, it all must get done and addressed. But, "while it's perfectly normal for wedding planning to become a big part of your engaged life, it becomes a problem when it's all a bride thinks and talks about," warns Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. "Often, brides don't even realize that they've become wedding-obsessed."
    Worried you might have crossed the line into wedding-crazy? Then look for these six signs, our experts say.

    1. You can't stop researching.
    According to Nichols, "The internet, plus Instagram and Pinterest, are a blessing and curse for brides, especially when you're trying to find the best deal, the best vendor, or the perfect dress." After all, unending inspiration can lead to unending indecision, leading you to research and research and research some more, without making a single selection or booking a vendor. "If you're agonizing over choices without making any decisions, planning has taken over your life, and you're going to drive yourself and everyone around you crazy," warns Fisher, adding it's time to step away from your computer or smartphone and get to work.

    2. The only things you post on social media are updates on your wedding.
    You hired a wedding photographer, and everybody knows because you had to post the exciting news on Facebook. Thanks to your social media feeds, they also know your menu items, your RSVP date, and the beef you've got with a bridesmaid. "While your friends and family want to share in your engaged excitement, they don't need the play-by-play of every planning task and emotion you're feeling along the way," says Fisher. "It's OK to post planning updates here and there, but save some surprises for the big day."

    3. Your social media feeds look like a wedding magazine.
    We're the first to admit it: Connecting on social media with wedding brands and vendors is a smart way to snag serious inspiration and even products. We want you to follow @BRIDES on Instagram, after all. "But when your news feeds begin to look like a wedding magazine — one without interesting updates from friends — you've probably taken planning a little too far," Nichols warns.

    4. There's nothing on your calendar except wedding-related meetings.
    While wedding planning will take up a lot of your time, there should be room on your social schedule for a date night or night out with the girls. "If everything in your calendar is a wedding-related meeting, event, or errand, it's safe to say that you have become wedding-obsessed," Fisher says. "Don't forget who you were before you had a ring on your finger. A bride should take time for her interests, hobbies, and things that she enjoyed doing pre-engagement. Remember that there is more to who you are than a bride-to-be."

    5. You're losing sleep over wedding plans.
    Your long day is over. You should be exhausted. But instead of catching up on much-needed Z's, you're lying awake in bed, adding up your wedding budget lines and your last-minute to-do list items. "You're having dreams about the things you forgot on the wedding day," Nichols describes. "Even worse, you're having nightmares about the cake falling over or something terrible happening during the wedding. When you can't sleep peacefully you know it's time for a little break from wedding planning."

    6. You talk more about the wedding than your marriage.
    Of course you have to talk wedding to your partner. But your wedding lasts one day. Your marriage, on the other hand, will last a lifetime. "Don't forget why you're having a wedding in the first place," encourages Fisher. "It's not to impress your friends with a gorgeous gown and Pinterest-worthy details. It's to celebrate your love and the start of your married life together. Make sure your partner doesn't feel forgotten. Tell him how much you love him and how excited you are to be his wife. Schedule a surprise date night. Be the woman he fell in love with."
    If you fear you've become wedding-obsessed, there's an easy fix, Nichols says. "Preventing major bridal overwhelm is all about moderation," she says. "Don't forget about your friends, family, and your partner. Take time to go out with the girls without talking about the wedding. Go for a date night with your fiance and just enjoy each other's company without making any wedding decisions. Don't stop your exercise routine or whatever makes you feel fabulous."

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016

    You’ll Never Guess What This Gorgeous Gown Was Made From

    Tablecloth wedding dress
    Photo by Emily Gude Photography
    When Goodwill-hosted an event called "Second Runway," giving secondhand linens and clothing new life by upcycling them into entirely fresh designs, you wouldn't necessarily expect to see a wedding gown worthy of a runway. But that's exactly what was accomplished by Stephanie Hyder, artisan, fashion and costume designer and the craftswoman behind the UnicornNature Etsy shop.
    Oh... and all with a tablecloth, no less.
    Tablecloth wedding dress
    Photo by Emily Gude Photography
    "I've always been a fan of lace, so when I saw a dingy old lace tablecloth balled up on a shelf, I was immediately inspired to make something feminine and delicate," says Hyder, who had a vision in mind once the tablecloth was washed and bleached. "I knew I wanted to keep the silhouette simple, letting the intricate patterns of the lace speak for themselves. It would have been a shame to cut the length at all, so I left it as a long train, though it can be bustled or redraped to be functional."
    In just a couple of hours, Hyder finalized the design into a bridal masterpiece. The gown features a boat neck, which allows for maximum area to highlight the texture of the lace, while princess darts and bust darts in the bodice create a sophisticated tailored fit. The backless details allow for an elegant show of skin, creating a complete contrast to the front being completely covered.
    Photo by Emily Gude Photography
    When Hyder's friend Emily Gude of Emily Gude Photography caught sight of the tablecloth dress, an inspiring image by photographer Tim Walker came to mind. "Specifically, Walker has a photograph where the model is wearing a gown on the top of a spiral staircase," explains Gude. "Her gown flows all the way down to the floor. It's so dreamy! So I wanted to use that playful element in my work as well, creating an optical illusion that my model is the 'tallest bride in the world.'"
    Working with Hyder as a stylist, as well as Hair and Makeup Artist Audrey Lefevre and Model Lauren Berkebile (represented by THE Artist Agency), Gude concepted a wedding shoot that focused on highlighting all the beauty of this bridal look. She chose a place she knows best: her father's greenhouse, which Gude says has great soft lighting and a perfect color palette of soft greys, whites and creams, as well as green from the plants to allow the model's bright red lips to pop against. She also wanted to play up the juxtaposition of photographing the ethereal model and delicate gown against an industrial background.
    "My work will hopefully inspire brides to step outside of the box," says Gude. "Trends are great, but picking a dress based on who you are creatively will always win."
    Hyder agrees. "I always tell my brides to envision their future selves looking back on their wedding photos," she agrees. "Whether it is a custom-commissioned gown or off the rack, every bride should feel like royalty when she wears it. A bride should go for the gown that complements her body type, reflects her individual style and is comfortable to dance the night away in."

    Monday, July 25, 2016

    23 Tweets That Perfectly Sum Up The First Year Of Marriage

    1. When you don’t even know your own name anymore.

    When you don't even know your own name anymore.

    2. When the honeymoon phase is in full force.

    When the honeymoon phase is in full force.

    3. When you find creative ways to share special moments.

    When you find creative ways to share special moments.

    4. When people assume you have that baby fever.

    When people assume you have that baby fever.

    5. When your mom LEGIT has that baby fever and is not subtle about it.

    When your mom LEGIT has that baby fever and is not subtle about it.

    6. When you have to decide whose family you’d rather have mad at you.

    When you have to decide whose family you'd rather have mad at you.

    7. When sharing a sense of humor matters.

    When sharing a sense of humor matters.

    8. When you’ve still got that honeymoon glow.

    When you've still got that honeymoon glow.

    9. When you just don’t get some traditions.

    When you just don't get some traditions.

    10. When “thank you” notes become a dangerous game.

    When "thank you" notes become a dangerous game.

    11. When you have to share EVERYTHING.

    When you have to share EVERYTHING.

    12. When you get to make the rules.

    When you get to make the rules.

    13. When your new spouse starts getting comfortable and lazy.

    When your new spouse starts getting comfortable and lazy.

    14. When you realize you married a monster.

    When you realize you married a monster.

    15. When you really get each other.

    16. When you have to put your HGTV dreams on hold.

    When you have to put your HGTV dreams on hold.

    17. When you have a daily identity crisis.

    When you have a daily identity crisis.

    18. When the bed is suddenly smaller than you remember.

    When the bed is suddenly smaller than you remember.

    19. When you are a house divided.

    When you are a house divided.

    20. When you realized you also married their family.

    When you realized you also married their family.

    21. When even grandpa knows what’s up. ;)

    When even grandpa knows what's up. ;)

    22. When it’s time to make the really tough choices.

    When it's time to make the really tough choices.

    23. When the honeymoon is over, but some things just linger.

    When the honeymoon is over, but some things just linger.

    Democratic National Convention Staffer Proposing to His Girlfriend Will Give You All the Feels

    democratic national convention marriage proposal
    Photo: Getty Images
    Love conquers all! Amid some Democratic National Convention news-worthy controversy before the start of the event, a marriage proposal showed that not everything political is in turmoil. Case in point: DNC staffer Andrew Binns proposed to fellow colleague Liz Hart on Sunday night, in an adorable proposal on stage at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

    democratic national convention proposal
    Photo: Getty Images

    Binns, who is the Chief Innovation Officer of the Democratic National Convention, planned this epic marriage proposal to happen the day before the start of the convention, according to the The Daily Mail. His unsuspecting girlfriend and DNC staffer, Hart, was on the stage while a video played — which finished with a picture of the sea and sand. But it wasn't just any photo of the beach; on the sand was the question every girl in a loving and happy relationship wants to hear: "Will you marry me?" Behind Hart was her soon-to-be fiancé who had knelt down on one knee with a ring, as she stood stunned with surprise. The two embraced, and the couple walked off stage with Hart still in total disbelief.

    DNC proposal andrew binns laura hart
    Photo: Getty Images

    Her crafty hubs-to-be had invited their friends and family, who were there to embrace the newly engaged couple. Most of the DNC staffers were there to witness the engagement as well — some of whom had also been instrumental in producing the event.

    democratic national convention marriage proposal kiss
    Photo: Getty Images

    "It was the one event, every four years, where we have so many friends and colleagues all in one place at the same time," Hart shared with NBC Philadelphia. "I thought we were just taking another photo together, but it turned out to probably be the best photo that we'll ever have!" she exclaimed happily. "We've been working on the convention for a long time; it's a historical point for our country, and now a historical point for us," her groom-to-be added.

    The key to pulling this off without a hitch (especially with the MAJ Secret Service security presence for the main event starting Monday night)? The groom noted that telling as few people as possible to make sure it stayed a secret — which we'd have to agree is pretty sound advice — but quite difficult to do at a political convention!

    The couple works on Studio 2016, the live pre-show for the convention. They met in 2013 in Mumbai while both serving on the team for Vice President Biden, The Daily Mail reports, and their first date was actually at the Taj Mahal. Talk about setting the bar high! The couple moved to Philadelphia this year so that they could work on their first event together with the DNC Committee.

    Regardless of the election outcome, one thing is for sure: this guy just won "Proposal of the Year" in our book, and we're sure there will be an epic wedding celebration to follow!

    Friday, July 22, 2016

    6 Things Happy Couples Do Differently

    Whenever my husband and I tell others we are married with two kids, they are usually really surprised. Mostly because of our age and because we live in a time where true commitment and healthy relationships are a rarity. The average age for marriage in the 1950’s (aka our grandparent’s generation) was between 20-24 years old. Today, people who marry between those ages have the highest rate of divorce. How did we get to this point?
    People’s expectations of relationships seem to be set by Hollywood and social media’s standards, blurring their perception of reality. Because of that (and other factors, like not having an example to follow), those same people don’t know how to have or maintain a healthy, happy relationship. Sometimes people learn how to have one after going through a bad relationship (I touched on my experience briefly here) but more often than not the cycle continues. Read on to find out 6 things happy couples do differently and why you should be doing them differently, too.

    1. They aren’t petty.

    When I say petty, I mean that if the other person hurts them in some way, they don’t try to hurt them back. They don’t seek out revenge or feel the need to “get even”. That kind of behavior is mildly acceptable in high school, for the simple fact that you aren’t mature enough to know better, but not in an adult relationship. No one is perfect and there is always room for improvement… for every one.
    People in happy relationships can also admit when they are in the wrong, instead of always blaming the other person for any problem that arises. When there is an argument in a happy relationship they figure out a way to resolve it, forgive each other and move on.

    2. They don’t break up left and right.

    After I went through a relationship that was constantly on and off, I realized how stupid it was to have gone back after the third, fourth, fifth…. sixteenth time we broke up. How did I expect that relationship to last if we always wanted to leave each other? What was the point of getting back together if in a week we would be done again? People in happy relationships don’t break up over small things. They value each other and will do anything to avoid losing what they have.


    3. They know that love is not enough.

    Sure, the idea of love is great. But saying “I love you” is only a phrase if there are no actions behind it. In order to do that, both people need to be unselfish. From praising them to others and writing love notes to being a shoulder to cry on and never abandoning them in their time of need, happy couples show their love for each other often and in many ways.

    4. They appreciate what they have in front of them.

    They don’t focus on the things the other person doesn’t have or doesn’t do. They don’t compare their relationship to others, asking “Why can’t he/she be like so and so?”. This doesn’t mean they don’t ever get annoyed of each other. Trust me, that’s expected every now and then. Happy couples are grateful and feel satisfied overall with who they chose to be with. They don’t want or need to be with anyone else, even during the rough patches.
     There’s a Difference Between Who We Love Who We Settle With And Who We’re Meant For..png

    5. They respect each other.

    Respect is defined as, “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” It is the most important factor in any relationship. It is something that everyone deserves and without it, your relationship is destined for failure. In a happy relationship, there is no physical or verbal abuse and no one has control over the other. Everything is mutual.

    6. They grow together.

    Happy couples build each other up, they set goals and push each other to accomplish them, all the while cheering them on. They care about their futures, as they may be aligned one day. They want to see each other succeed and do everything they can to support each other. They hold each other accountable and don’t let each other quit. They are a team working with each other, not against.
    True happiness comes from within, so you won’t be able to be in a happy relationship if you aren’t happy with yourself.  If you don’t know how to love yourself, how could you possibly love someone else?

    Thursday, July 21, 2016

    Las Vegas Bachelorette Party Planning: Everything You Need to Know Now

    Vdara hotel whirl pool
    Photo: Courtesy of Vdara Hotel & Spa

    With its reputation for revelry, Las Vegas has long been a favorite destination for bachelorette getaways. What's not to love about a weekend out of town with some of your favorites in tow, with any number of leisure pursuits at your beck and call? From luxe retreats to around-the-clock eats, Las Vegas delivers any time of day or night — and it's constantly upping the ante with new offerings. Thinking about having your bachelorette in this famously fabulous destination? Here's what you need to know right now:

    the cosmopolitan beauty & essex
    Photo: Courtesy of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
    The Cosmo Is (Still) a Big Deal. Landing on Las Vegas Weekly's "Best of Vegas" list yet again for 2016, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is not resting on its laurels as being one of the hottest properties on The Strip. Instead, the resort is adding to its cache, having recently opened a 10,000-square-foot outpost of the New York City speakeasy-style lounge and eatery, Beauty & Essex, as well as the first outpost of Los Angeles cult fave Eggslut, which will be open overnight on select nights to feed the late-night crowd. The Juice Standard, a local micro-chain for cold-pressed juices, offers an additional menu of "cold-pressed cocktails" exclusively at The Cosmo location; a Momofuku project is also slated to open later this year.

    t mobile arena
    Photo: Courtesy of T-Mobile Arena

    Vegas Has a Huge New Stage
    In addition to the multitude of entertainment offerings up and down The Strip, the city this spring inaugurated the T-Mobile Arena, a state-of-the-art venue that will host both pro sports games and blockbuster concert tours, including Gwen Stefani, Drake, Kanye West, and the Rolling Stones. Cross-check the schedule before you set your bachelorette dates — a concert here could be a highlight of your weekend. The Park, a huge outdoor plaza dotted with art installations and open-air restaurants, now connects the arena with the New York-New York and Monte Carlo hotels; a 5,000-seat theatre venue is opening soon, too.

    Get Your Culture On — No, Really.
    The local art scene is having a moment. First Fridays in the 18B Arts District of Downtown Las Vegas are a mash-up of gallery openings, open studios, street vendors and dining and imbibing specials at other local establishments (definitely stop by the Velveteen Rabbit). Additionally, the Las Vegas Contemporary Arts Center this year moved into its new permanent home; for a bit of vintage Vegas, don't miss the Neon Museum, which collects retired signs from casinos, hotels, motels, and wedding chapels. What could be more perfect for an Instagram bachelorette group photo opp?

    delano pool
    Photo: Courtesy of The Delano

    These Bespoke Offerings Are Pretty Suite
    From the Nobu Hotel inside Caesars Palace to the Delano, a South Beach offshoot located on the upper floors of Mandalay Bay, resorts are getting creative with bespoke offerings that often come with VIP amenities. In addition to having a private elevator entrance, guests of the ARIA Sky Suites have exclusive use of ARIA's Sky Pool and its spa-like treats including chilled towels, frozen grapes, smoothies and more. Nearby, the Vdara Hotel & Spa, an all-suite, non-gaming property that connects to the ARIA and the Bellagio via walkways, is tucked far enough away from the bustle of The Strip to have a totally different vibe, yet is never too far from the action.
    Think a penthouse suite is beyond any reasonable stretch of the imagination? The LINQ Hotel, a new Caesars offering geared towards Millennials that opened last year, features two penthouse suites for rates that start at $700 per night. The hotel also offers poolside cabana rooms that walk out onto the pool deck and include waitress service from the pool bar during daytime hours because, well, they can — it's Vegas, baby.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2016

    These Are the Top 10 First Dance Songs in the World, According to Spotify

    Some brides and grooms opt for a first dance song that is uniquely tailored to their love story. As adorable and thought-provoking as that may be, for some other couples, they just simply don't have a go-to love song to call their own. While there's no right or wrong first dance choice for your wedding, if you're struggling to pick a tune that'll blow all of your guests away we suggest taking a look at Spotify's recently released Top 50 First Dance Songs.

    After analyzing thousands of playlists named 'first dance,' the music-streaming service found that Ed Sheehan's Thinking Out Loud came out on top as the most popular first dance song (in the entire world!). And with lyrics like, "When my hair's all but gone and my memory fades and the crowds don't remember my name...when my hands don't play the strings the same way, mm I know you will still love me the same" is that really that much of a surprise?! Before the most romantic song of our ~generation~ was released though, Etta James' 1960's hit At Last consistently topped the first dance charts.

    Can you guess the rest of the top ten first dance tunes? Check them out below:

    1. Ed Sheehan — Thinking Out Loud
    2. Etta James — At Last
    3. Ray LaMontagne — You Are The Best Thing
    4. John Legend — All of Me
    5. Christina Perri — A Thousand Years
    6. Adele — Make You Feel My Love
    7. Jason Mraz — I Won't Give Up
    8. Michael Bublé — Everything
    9. Jack Johnson — Better Together
    10. Lonestar — Amazed

    And if you need a little more music inspo for your wedding reception, look no further than Spotify's Top 50 Wedding Reception Songs. Obviously Don't Stop Believin' by Journey is number one. Hey, ya can't mess with the classics, brides!

    Tuesday, July 19, 2016

    4 Sexy Items You Can Add to Your Registry (And Not Be Embarrassed)

    sexy items for wedding registry
    Photo: Getty Images

    As Gloria Brame, Ph.D., sexologist and author of The Truth About Sex: A Sex Primer For The 21st Century, says, "the more sex loot, the merrier." That's true even when it comes to your wedding registry, where you can safely add sexy items while saving face — seriously.

    Of course, adding items to your wedding registry that are meant only to enhance your sex life can be tricky. After all, "you may not want Aunt Matilda to know what kind of sex toys you prefer or your brother to know what brand of lube you use," says Brame. These items are best added to a secret registry you share with only your closest, most trusted friends. "Or maybe you'd rather get your groom involved and create a wish list together with items for both of you," Brame suggests.
    But if you can think beyond sex toys to some safer options, you can give your sex life a boost without your guests being any the wiser. Here, Brame says, are four sexy items you can add to your registry without feeling embarrassed.

    1. G-Rated sleepwear.
    You might not want dear ol' Aunt Matilda to buy you a see-through teddy. But she and your other guests might also be happy to help you splurge on plush robes, boudoir slippers, or even a lace-trimmed nightgown. "Things like good quality robes do not come cheap, and are something you and your groom will appreciate for years to come too," says Brame.

    2. Silk sheets.
    You don't want your wedding guests to know what you're doing in bed. But adding silk sheets to your wedding registry doesn't obviously point to sex — though it will make the act more pleasurable, Brame promises. "You will feel good and so will they, knowing that you are both wrapped in luxury on your wedding night," she points out.

    3. Body care products.
    Brame recommends adding skin cream, hair oils, massage oils, aromatherapy kits, personal grooming kits, candles, specialty pillows, "and other small luxuries that will make your bedroom a sensual palace." Why? Because, as she says, "pampering yourself will make you feel like a sex goddess."

    4. Hotel amenities.
    Calling all brides and grooms with an alternative registry, such as a honeymoon registry: If your hotel offers amenities like an in-room couples massage or other spa indulgence, feel free to add these services to your registry. "These items will pump up the romance and intimacy during your honeymoon," says Brame, "and keep your sexy hormones on high."

    Monday, July 18, 2016

    BRIDES Southern California: 5 Unique Los Angeles Rehearsal Dinner Venues

    royce room
    Photo: Courtesy of The Royce

    One of the most important dinners before your milestone wedding weekend happens even before all of the festivities begin. There's no better way to make a first impression, with your personal wedding style, than to take your guests to dine in a one-of-a-kind rehearsal dinner venue. We've gathered a list of LA's most exclusive rehearsal dinner venues, that feature an ambiance like no other.

    wilshire patio
    Photo: Courtesy of Wilshire

    1. Wilshire
    With a menu developed specifically around organic, local, and peak seasonal ingredients it's no surprise that this experienced group of culinary aficionados has mastered the art of original dishes inspired by diverse farmers markets. The beautifully casual atmosphere of this California venue emits colors of orange and amber through soft candlelight, brick walls, and rich leather couches. Read real brides' reviews here!

    Photo: Courtesy of Perch LA

    2. Perch
    This French inspired rooftop masterpiece engulfs all elements of Southern California with panoramic views of Downtown Los Angeles, and indoor, and outdoor, table seating. Fifteen floors above the bustling city streets, this one-of-a-kind venue comes equip with antique inspired furniture, detailed woodwork and live jazz inspired music.

    See More: Amazing Catering Companies in Los Angeles for Your Big Day

    Photo: Courtesy of Bouchon

    3. Bouchon
    Renowned Chef, Thomas Keller, returned to Los Angeles after 20 years to open one of the city's most celebrated eateries located just two blocks from Rodeo Drive. The grandeur of the high-ceiling interior transports guests into a tranquil urban oasis highlighted by design elements of mosaic floors, antique light fixtures, and a pewter bar. An ever-changing seasonal menu keeps things fresh and innovative all year long.

    royce room two
    Photo: Courtesy of The Royce

    4. The Royce
    Featuring only the finest selection of USDA Prime Cuts, Australian Wagyu, and Japanese Kobe Beef, it's safe to say that this acclaimed steakhouse sets the bar high when it comes to Los Angeles cuisine. With breathtaking garden views, a Chef's table experience, and a pre-and post-dinner Red Wine Room, the once-in-a-lifetime possibilities are endless.

    Photo: Courtesy of Nobu

    5. Nobu
    Designed by celebrated architect, David Rockwell, this famed restaurant in West Hollywood has become frequently praised for it's unique atmosphere and world-class cuisine. Separated by three dining spaces, the main dining room (which features a one-of-a-kind sushi bar), the atrium, and the terrace, it's no surprise that this Hollywood hangout has become a major Los Angeles hotspot. Read real brides' reviews here!

    Friday, July 15, 2016

    The Ultimate Wedding Cocktail Hour Guide

    Think of your cocktail hour as a souped-up version of your favorite happy hour. Here, some basic cocktail hour must-haves, plus a few extra-genius was to wow your guests.

    It's early in the evening and all your loved ones are together in a stylish and romantic atmosphere, complete with your favorite drinks, food, seating and music. There's really nothing better. Here's what you need to pull off a fabulous cocktail hour at your wedding.

    1. Knock-Out Signature Cocktails

      signature wedding drinks
      Photo by Eric Kelley Photography
      Whether it's a classic or totally new, you can match your signature cocktail to your color scheme, let it reflect your personalities (as a couple or individually) or honor your favorite hometown or cultural flavors. Maybe your go-to sip is whiskey lemonade, while your spouse's is gin and tonic. Feature both cocktails on the menu and give them creative names to reflect your personalities. Why stop at just one? Name drinks after your bridal party or serve favorite cocktails from both sets of parents.
    2. Comfortable Seating

      seating during a wedding cocktail hour
      Photo by Mirelle Carmichael Photography
      You'll want to give people room to mingle easily, so don't crowd the room with chairs. Instead, provide enough seating so your older guests have a comfy place to rest and anyone who's soldiering in high heals can take a break. A combination of low chairs, coffee tables and higher tables with bar stools will give your cocktail hour a different feel than your sit-down reception dinner. Want a cozier vibe? Build a virtual outdoor living room with overstuffed armchairs, rugs and vintage wooden end tables.
    3. Mood Music

      wedding musician
      Photo by Eli Turner Studios
      Since you're not at the dance party yet, keep the volume turned down and the vibe mellow so people can chat with ease. This doesn't mean you have to play cheesy elevator music, but matching your music to the mood is a good idea. Maybe you've planned a lively DJ to keep you dancing throughout the reception, but for the cocktail hour, slow it down. Hire a jazz trio, quartet or acoustic guitarist to set a distinct mood.
    4. Stylish Setting

      Photo by Milou + Olin Photography
      Sure, you've spent ages choosing your reception decor, but don't let the cocktail hour go by the wayside, especially if it's in a separate space. Small centerpieces and extra votive candles can be a great way to finish off the room. For example, if your cocktail hour's outside, but your reception will be inside a ballroom, don't be afraid to vary the decor. Take advantage of the natural foliage and string wide ribbons and colorful banners with lights from the tree branches, or set up floral installations near the entrance.
    5. Decor Theme

      Photo by Joseph Lin Photography
      Your centerpieces and table settings will set the theme for the reception, but if the cocktail hour is held in a separate room or outside, maybe try something different. You don't need to make your guests wear leis and Hawaiian-themed shirts, but you could serve tropical cocktails out of coconuts, and chips with fresh papaya and mango salsa. Take your theme to the next level by expanding it to your music and decor. Hire a mariachi band and set up handmade guacamole and churro stations. Or hire a jazz pianist and singer to perform and decorate with Art Deco-style chandeliers and a bold black-and-white color palette.
    6. Open Bar

      Photo by Onelove Photography
      We've said it before and we'll say it again: Having a cash bar at your wedding is not a good move. If you're on a tight budget, skip pricey liquor and serve only beer and wine, or simply offer one signature drink. Looking to liven things up? Set up a specialty bar, like a cognac bar, microbrew bar, bubbly bar (with sparkling wines) or a tequila bar. Ask your caterer about keeping an expert on hand during cocktail hour to give suggestions and tasting tips.
    7. Scrumptious Bites

      Photo by Leah Fisher Photography
      We know it's your menu, but make sure it's diverse enough so all of your guests can enjoy at least one appetizer. If you're at a loss for where to begin, touch on the major tastes: Serve something slightly salty, sweet, bitter and savory, and provide several dishes to complement to your signature cocktails. Don't forget to ask about any special diets or allergies ahead of time to ensure everyone has something to enjoy (and so anyone with allergies knows what to steer clear of). Something you might not have considered is to go ahead and give your guests something sweet before they sit down to dinner! You don't want to spoil their appetite for what's to come (so save the chocolate ganache for later), but offering a seasonally sweet treat—like a fruit tart or lemon sorbet—could be the perfect palate cleanser before dinner. You can also forgo typical utensils entirely by offering all bites on edible spoons or in mini crispy cones.
    8. Personal Touches

      Photo by Austin Gros
      Little extras, like monogrammed napkins or barware, can go a long way in making your wedding feel totally personalized. Plus, stemless wine glasses with your wedding date or initials make an instant keepsake for guests. Fun tip: Don't wait until the end of the night to give out your favors. Instead, have a special wine or beer brewed ahead of time in honor of your wedding you'll serve during cocktail hour. Let guests sample it then, and offer them each a bottle to take home at the end of the night, complete with a customized label.
    9. Nonalcoholic Options

      Photo by Ian Joseph Jones Photography
      Make sure you've got a few drink selections for non-drinkers, especially if it's an outdoor summer wedding. For hotter months, try water infused with cucumber, melon, mint and lots of ice. During cooler months, serve something cozy and seasonal, like hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks. Give guests more than just water and soda by having at least one mocktail on the menu. Work with your caterer or mixologist to come up with something inventive like a mix of grapefruit and orange juices, or a little coconut milk and a small scoop of orange sherbet on top.
    10. Games & Activities

      Photo by Brooke Images
      Give your guests something extra to do during the cocktail hour, even if it's just breaking out the guest book a little early to give them plenty of time to sign it. If your wedding is outdoors, set up lawn games like bocce ball, lawn croquet or a beanbag toss. These types of games are also a great idea if you'll have be lots of kids at the reception. You could also rent a photo booth and provide fun props for guests to pose with.