Using Food for Fun Gifts

We’ll be trying some more of these out this weekend (the husband and I are celebrating 10 years – 10 YEARS! – of wedded bliss) because they sound fun and will inspire the children to cook more with us and try even more unusual foods.

If you and your friends, bridesmaids, groomsmen or family are big into food…or there’s only a small tight-knit group of you in your wedding party, consider trying out some of the pre-packaged ingredients that make for some super fun cooking experiments with the heavy lifting already done for you.

So picture this: some crisp beverages, a campfire (or fire in the fireplace if you’re so inclined), some good music, and you and your besties hanging out in the kitchen with some aprons, grilling tools, and an inexpensive but highly hands-on memory making experience.  It may not take the place of a bachelor/bachelorette night, but it’s definitely something you could do as a group, or in lieu (or during!) a bridal shower.  Plus, you get the food of your labors to boot.

Favorite Organic: Green Chef (meals start at $11/per person)

Favorite Easy Meal Option: Terra’s Kitchen (meals start at $10/per person)

Smoothies!: Greenblender


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Best Experiential Wedding Gifts: Spring 2016

It’s fashionable, these days, to have an “experiential” wedding – you know, those couples who rock climb and exchange vows on the top of an obscure narrow peak of rock in the middle of a desert.  Which is killer awesome, but totally not always something someone can do.  Budget, for one.  Or physical ability.  Or maybe the 347 relatives would be mightily upset if they couldn’t attend the nuptials.  Not enough space on that spindle of rock.

It’s also becoming in vogue to give couples something experiential for their wedding gift.  In the age of acceptance, when many pairs co-habit before wedding bells, many couples already have the trappings of household necessities, making shower and wedding gifts inconsequential, or, at best, unneeded.  There’s something a bit deflating about gifting a set of fluffy white towels to a bride, who demurely says, “why thank you, now we can be rid of our old set!”

When I was married, the idea of an “experiential” gift was still quite novel, and involved a gift card to a bed and breakfast a few hours away from our new home.  Which was a stellar gift, mind you.  A weekend away meant we’d actually hang out, watch movies, and go out for dinner instead of working on yet another frustrating house project.  So it was fantastic.

But now, there are actual companies who specialize in creating one-of-a-kind experiences for people.  Across the globe, you can find irresistible ways to gift a view of a lifetime to the couple who already has nearly everything material necessary.  From caves filled with glowing algae to the breathtaking panorama on a glacier, if you’re still thinking about what to ask for on your registry or to use that wedding money toward, consider a few of these spectacularly awesome offerings, and go live a little larger!

Glamping at the Ranch on Rock Creek in Montana

Learn about and interact with dolphins at DolphinLab in Grassy Key, FL

Get certified to be certified scuba divers with Aquatic Adventures

Become a cheese aficionado with a class at Murray’s Cheese in New York

Take in a yoga retreat at San Francisco’s Zen Center

Get serious about pure and organic food and cooking with classes at Rooted Nutrition in Vancouver

And there are many others, of course.  The best thing is – whatever a couple is into…there’s something for everyone!

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Cute Little Headdress

We have been falling for adorable headdresses – both brides and flower girls alike!

But these are our current favorites.  Check them out and dream!

(PS – all photos are property of the person(s) / shop owners!)

Blushy Ivory and Gold

And this really cool vintagy one with a whole different vibe!

And then there’s this more Traditional option:

And we think this Dried Flower option is quite unique:

Or something more Fairytale

Seriously, there is something for everyone…and every girl.  Have fun with this wedding detail!


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Jazz for a Lazy Wedding Day

After almost ten years in the biz, we hear a lot of music.  Ok, not nearly as much as the DJ’s, but enough that we have seen many of the same songs played…not for first dances, no judgement there…but during dinner!

Yes, this is an article about dinner music.

That mundane, background sound that carries you through cocktails, salads, entrees and the start of dessert – that stuff.

We know that some classics are meant to be used, but I think Frank Sinatra would be a little shocked to realize how much his voice is used as a soothing, barely-heard backdrop to the clink of silverware and light roar of wedding dinners.

This is our call to think outside the box.  You don’t need to be blasting ’80′s rock, by any means.  Your guests still need to hear each other talk across tables.  But try something else on for size.  Instead of yet another rendition of “It’s a Wonderful World” why not tap into some more unique soundscapes to eat by?

Some new favorites (if you don’t have to Google these people, bravo!):

Bradley Leighton, a flutist, for some upbeat yet soothing jazzy swing.

Anything from Kevin Spacey in his turn in the movie Beyond the Sea

Dianne Reeves for some sultry vintage crooning

Diana Krall.  The woman’s deep vocals and amazing piano is awesome

And then there’s blues and jazz.  Think Chet Baker and Herbie Nichols.  If you want to try someone even more obscure, look to Hugh Laurie.  Yes, he’s an English actor.  Also an amazing blues artist.

For a little international flavor, key into some classic Coralie Clement, Charles Trenet or Eartha Kitt.

These should get you checking out iTunes.  Just remember – even though it’s half-way subliminal, you can create a unique atmosphere during dinner as well as the dance.  Give your DJ’s something a little new to play, and your guests will take note.  Pun intended.

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Top 3 Types Wedding Veils

Everyone who wears a veil, headpiece, hat, comb, clip or scarf on her wedding day has oodles of different sizes, shapes, hems and fabrics to choose from when it comes to how to decorate our hair.  It’s well known now that traditionally brides were “hidden” from evil spirits under those long veils, and the bridesmaids were there to “confuse” the spirits on which woman was the real bride.  Still, regardless of the tradition’s roots, there’s nothing quite like donning one of the ethereal head pieces to make one feel just a tad more magical.

Over the years, we have seen countless breathtaking choices from our brides – each one somehow fits the style of the wedding and the bride herself, whether it’s an heirloom piece or a small nod toward the veil in the shape of a comb.  We’ve narrowed down the three styles that are most easily discernible – knowing that many other styles fall somewhere around each of these – but likely you’ll find yourself drawn to one of the categories below.  And whatever your notions that you “only” want a short veil – we always stand by our recommendation to try on everything and anything.  You really only plan to do this once, right?  Live it up!

The Small:

This category includes everything from combs and headbands to flower crowns, sparkly combs, fascinators, bubble veils, and anything that stops short at the shoulder.  These are excellent for traditional brides (especially in terms of the bubble veil) or trendy ones (flower crowns, fascinators, vintage combs) or those who just want to show off their gorgeous hair style.  This also seems to be a favorite of second-time brides or brides who are past their blushing twenties.  But thankfully with weddings, there are no real rules.

Photo credits by Hanle Productions and Jennifer Johnson Photography

The Medium:

These are the veils that are from the shoulders to the end of your hands (otherwise called fingertip veils) and what we love about these is that they are elegant but still serve some good practicality.  They are not so long that you have to wind them up when you walk, and they still have some good drama for photographs.  They are often a great length to be edged with lace, appliques and lots of sparkles if you are so inclined and work for pretty much anyone.  This is a good place to start looking for veils if you don’t want to worry about making a trend statement (like vintage combs can) or be overly traditional (like the long length veils are).  And they can be as chic as all can be!

Photography by Front Room

The Long:

Any veil that goes past your knees is a long veil – and these can be floor length, chapel length or cathedral length.  (The cathedral lengths are for those who like to go all out!  Those are amazing!)  The drama of these in photographs is heavenly, and the traditionalists can grab the ones edged with lace of varying thickness.  We love that these can make a young woman look “all grown up into a bride” or wreath the bride in a glorious haze of tulle as she walks down the aisle.

Photograph by Spottswood Photography


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Best Dessert Tables

Dessert bars are still the rage here and there.  Actually, we have seen some pretty fun twists on the dessert table from couples who prefer not to have cake (whether because they want something different, don’t like cake, or a mix of the two).  Of course, there’s always cupcakes, or mini cupcakes, which are fun not only because of a cuteness factor but because guests can try many different flavors and go back for seconds – both of which are Really. Good. Things.

But what if you want to go a step beyond that?  What if you want to do something a little special that’s still delicious but maybe a little more “you”?  Thankfully, caterers can handle pretty much anything these days, from pie to cake and beyond, so here are a few of our favorite notions:

1. Donut Bars

Whether it’s just a few types of your favorites, or a “make your own bag of donut holes” or sixteen different types of miniature donuts covered in your five wedding colors, there is nothing more fun, a little nostalgic, and a little luxurious than donuts.  We are fans of using clear acrylic displays and doing anything a little interactive – whether it’s letting your guests pick their own sprinkles or their own toppings completely, or even having a pastry chef on hand to custom create (bacon? extra sprinkles? rock candy? of course!) – it’s sure to be a smash.

2. Mini Desserts

This is a new french-inspired trend often seen in fancy coffee houses or fine restaurants.  It’s more than just some bars and cookies – we’re talking serious “aw” factor – from tiny delicately decorated petit fours to a full blast of flavor in perfectly designed tiramisu and creme brulee.  You can seriously customize this, and be sure your caterer’s pastry chef is fully involved to help with the flavors, design and presentation as well as help you if you have a tighter budget (these can add up fast due to the labor to make them look so fabulous).  But it will create a completely delectable ending to your night.

3. Carnival Frolicky Fun.

Ok, we made up that middle word.  But think about it.  Hand spun cotton candy (maybe done on-location), hot flaky elephant ears covered in cinnamon sugar, cold icy chocolate covered bananas.  We’re talking super old school carnival that evokes the long lost memories of even your oldest guests, who might shashay up to get a hot ear in sequins and then relive their childhood at the county fair.  Candied apples, ice cream and snow cones all fit the bill.  You could have one large station where people can order their dessert of choice, and get ready to have everyone on the dance floor an hour later with a sugar high.  It’ll be a highlight for sure.

4. Gelato Bar

We had a couple – oh, back in 2010 – who took us up on the idea to serve gelato in three flavors for dessert instead of cake, and the guests devoured it.  It was served in frosted tall glasses with a bit of mint, which is a perfect option if you want to keep it all easy and clean cut.  But if you do want to splurge a little, plus make it super exciting for any children at the event – have your caterer bring out a gelato station (heck, rent a little Italian type decor for the table) and hand scoop (with the proper gelato scooper, of course) anywhere from 5 to 10 different flavors to guests.  They can have cones or a dish, and maybe a cherry on top.

So there ya have it!  Some good eats, and serious treats, and desserts that will definitely have guests talking about the bottom of the menu even before the dessert course comes around.

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Wedding Math

It’s that time of year again for us – investing lots of time and resources into booking brides for 2016 – 2017.  It’s always an exciting (and a little nerve-wrecking) time, because we always get to meet a lot of really lovely people while at the same time we are making the same case, over and over, on why a planner is important.

First of all, most couples are contacting us because they are already overwhelmed with the planning process.  They know they need assistance – which is great, and a first step to making the whole experience easier for themselves.  Some are coming because they’re halfway through and are just coming to recognize that it’s another part-time job just to manage their big day.  Or they’ve been married before and definitely do NOT want to re-live the stress of planning again.  Or they are not sure where to start, and the barrage of options on, weddingwire, Pinterest, and the like are too much to wade through. Or perhaps they’ve just figured out that there is no way they can manage their wedding day without putting themselves or a parent or loved one in the stressful role of coordinator and don’t want to do that to themselves or family.

Regardless of why people contact us, we are always excited to help them wherever they are at in their planning, but inevitably they always ask us how much.

Of course, there are planners of all stripes out there – and some really do ask for a small amount of money for their hours and hours of work (or they don’t give you hours and hours of work and do a poor job, but that’s a case of getting what you paid for).

Being a successful, efficient, and proper wedding planner is a learned trade.  It’s why less experienced planners charge a bit of money, and ones who have national recognition charge a lot more.  We all went through our learning curves, our apprenticeships, and handled our hard ball clients.  We know how to navigate almost any pitfall before it happens, give sage advice that comes from years of unbiased experience, and have the connections that have taken 5, 10 or 20 years to cultivate.  We ‘get married’ every weekend alongside our couples, constantly honing our skills to be even more successful, efficient and proper.

That experience and professionalism costs money.  I recently asked my husband why people seem to have no question paying a plumber $90/hour for his experience and knowledge in his learned trade of cleaning out pipes, but abhor paying an event planner $75/hour for her experience and learned trade on managing a multiple-hour, many peopled event.  Considering a plumber has the opportunity to fix any mistakes while a planner gets one shot at making a perfect wedding day, a planner should be able to charge over $100/hour for that type of service and expectation.  But I have a feeling that kind of charge would put us out of business in short order.

I understand, of course, that not everyone has the same type of budget.  And that’s what is so wonderful about having different prices, packages and planners out there – there really is something for almost anyone.  And of course, not everyone needs a planner or wants one.  My case is for those who do want a planner.

But my issue is with those who expect to have champagne service on a beer budget.  They want a lot of help, in fact, full-service planning where we’d be working with them daily, weekly, monthly, for a year or more, but expect to pay only a few hundred dollars.  That works out to paying $1-$5/hour, which is a ridiculous expectation.

So, with numbers in my head today, I wanted to break down a few things, just to put in perspective how much some people pay for things, and why paying $45/hour or $75/hour or $90/hour for a planner (or paying a package price for a full year or more of work) is not exorbitant.

These are just price point examples all jumbled together, weddings and beyond.

DJ: $1500 for 1-2 hours of prep, up to 3 hours load in and out and 6ish hours of playing time ($136/hour)

Band: $10,000 for 2 hours of load in, 2 hours load out and ~6ish hours of playing time ($1000/hour – 8 piece band means each band member is making roughly $125/hour)

Event Venue (not including catering or bar, just use of their floor, ceiling, and air): $4000 for 6 hour event, plus up to 5 hours of prep and clean-up time ($364/hour)

Officiant: $500 for 1-3 hours of prep, 30 minute ceremony: ($143/hour)

Wedding ceremony music: $700 for 1-2 hours of prep, assuming no new songs and 1.5 hours of playing, assume a trio: ($67/hour per person in trio)

Plumber: $90/hour

Electrician: $80/hour

Heating guys: $100/hour

Lawyer: $250 – $500/hour

Consultant, depending on the industry: $100 – $500/hour

Of course, a photographer and videographer invest a ton of hours on your day – the difference is that they provide a long-lasting product at the end of it, which is why I have not included them here.  These listed are all people providing an “intangible” service – they “do” something that results in an experience, or a final fix, or a smooth transition, or they handle or take care of things that you yourself cannot do.

We love our couples, and we treat them to dinners in our home, drinks on the town, and lots of coziness.  That’s our approach, and it works for some people and not others.  But regardless of the extra trimmings that we do, or any other planner does, we still are a specialized trade, and we’ll give you the stars…but probably not for free.  :)

Anyway, that’s my case for the month.  I would welcome any thoughts or input or opinion.

Photography courtesy of Craig John, J.Be, Front Room, Spottswood and Craig John again.

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Holiday at Home

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Going out to parties, hosting parties, and having a really good couple of meals.  We feel half the fun of throwing a dinner party is, of course, the designing of it!  Which is why we’ve invested in a few key pieces that make any meal look festive for pretty much any holiday (but they are best used during the December ones!) and pull them out with a few other decorations to make the tablescape really glow and glimmer.  I’m looking forward to using some of these yet again for the New Year (we’re having friends over and doing carry-out fancy sushi…because we all have kids and are currently boring…but we can still make it look awesome).

Here’s a few key pieces that will make your kitchen or dining table shine throughout the rest of the week:

1. Gold chargers or gold plates.  I found mine on One King’s Lane and they’re these lovely glass pieces made in Turkey and lined with gold leaf.  But Target usually has them online, as do other sources like Party City, where they are made from a good hearty plastic and are painted silver or gold with varying designs.  I’ve got silver ones that I use when I don’t feel like hand-washing the gold ones. In my opinion, the plastic ones are worth investing in a few colors for a handful of dollars, especially if you like to entertain!  They can always double as serving platters.

2. Interesting shaped goblets for water or wine.  The stemmless ones are pretty overused, so I’ve been looking for vintage glassware (happened to be lucky enough to lately inherit my husband’s grandmother’s), more uniquely shaped pieces such as these goblets from Pottery Barn, or glassware with a metallic rim, or even colored glassware (get something smokey colored to go with a lot of holidays or a color that matches your home decor for starters).

3. Cloth napkins.  These are awesome.  Nothing dresses up a table more than cloth – it’s vintage, yet modern, and can completely transform the personality of your table from somber and formal to whimsical to festive.  I have some hand-made ones (courtesy of me and my mom), some vintage ones (thanks, Grandma!) and then, of course, there’s always Pier1.  They’re not horrifically expensive most of the time, so you can always have a solid 8 of each kind of holiday on hand if you have the preference and the space.  Worst case, super cute paper napkins are available everywhere, so have fun at your local boutique that stocks ‘em seasonally!

4. Splurges.  My dad loves loves loves his holiday Wedgewood plates, platters and the like.  To the point where we’ve bought him like cake stands with his preferred pattern.  I myself got the Joy plates shown below at Crate & Barrel this year.  (have fun, they’re currently half the price of when I bought ‘em!)  But I don’t buy for every holiday.  Sometimes it’s just some chocolate gold and green streamers for St Patty’s Day, or chocolate eggs for Easter.  By the time I’m in my 60′s, I’ll likely have specialty items for every known holiday, but for now, it’s fun to slowly accumulate things I fall in love with.  And the search is half the fun!

Have a lovely, sparkly party!

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Happy Holidays

Happy holidays from all of us at Golden Chic to all of you!

See you in 2016!

Photo by Front Room


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Getting Shredded before you’re Wedded

We have posted about fitness and health options before because, well, I’m all about exercising, eating right and being healthy as a lifestyle.

But I understand that not everyone is super into fitness, or doesn’t have time, inclination, ability, or interest in doing it as a lifestyle.

So I wanted to show you a list I’ve curated once again, that I’ve used and can offer on experience because I hate to tout something I haven’t tried.  And the rule of thumb for any of the advice below is to actually follow it – at least for the time it is supposed to be followed.  I’m no exercise guru or nutritionist or fitness expert, but I do know that results come from your personal accountability to the program and being regimented enough to follow it.  It’s creating a habit that might actually last longer than the weeks before your wedding – if anything, use one of these to battle the Newlywed Five – those dreaded couple of pounds that seem to pop on after the wedding thanks to wedded bliss, and maybe a lot of honeymoon cocktails.

1. 21 Day Fix or 21 Day Fix Extreme.

I did this to jump start my body after Baby #3 / Pregnancy #6.  What was so great was that the exercises were not extremely strenuous and everything was between 30 – 35 minutes long.  You do have to exercises every day for 21 days in a row, but it goes quickly, and is very easy to follow.  It will ask you to have the following things in your home (because, thankfully, this can be done in your house in front of the TV as long as you have at least 5 feet of space): 5lb, 10lb and maybe 15lb dumbbells, a yoga mat and a water bottle.  Easy and they show someone doing modifications for every single exercise.  I’ll admit my first day, I turned it on pretty skeptical on the difficulty level because I was used to doing some sort of crazy Insanity work out while pregnant, but I broke a sweat and was seriously sore for a few days afterwards.

The additional part of this is the portionology that the program introduces – you receive color coded containers explaining what goes in each and how many you should eat of each every day to get results – the goal is to teach you what is really and truly a serving of protein or vegetables.  I’m a good one for the kitchen, and this took a little bit of training myself how to put together meals, but they give a lot of examples and by the second week, I was totally able to put together hugely hearty meals that satisfied the requirements of the program and my husband ate without questioning.

This is a good one for a fast fix, and for quick results, and if you stick to the food as well, you should see results in time for the big day.


2. Insanity Max :30

I don’t mean to tout Beachbody products, but I’ve been using them since 2009, so I’m likely a little biased.  I know I’ve discussed Insanity before, but this is a newer one – Max :30.  You guessed it – every exercise tape is 30 minutes long exactly.  This program is designed to make you fail at some point – if you don’t stop exercising you are either the guy running the program or not doing it hard enough/right enough.  It’s awesome tough and melts fat, especially belly fat, pretty fast as long as you eat along the lines of the 21 day fix – a lot of protein and vegetables.

This is a hard program, but you won’t need anything other than yourself and a water bottle – everything is done using your own body weight.  You do get into pretty nice shape in 60 days, and you also get some days off on the weekend.  I use this program as a nice way to whip off any surprise body fat or fluff from a long weekend eating kinda stupid and if I don’t have any program I’m following.


3. Precision Nutrition (PN)

Since July, I’ve been trying Precision Nutrition, a program based in Canada.  It is a year-long program and is likely one of the more pricey options out there, but it’s very involved every day with a very hands-on coaching program and focuses on weight / strength training as well as habits that you are supposed to learn for life to sustain a healthy lifestyle far beyond the year of the program.  I’m only halfway through this, but it’s certainly really helped with muscle tone, definition, and I look more shredded than I ever have, so that is something.  The hardest part is having very little guideline on what to eat early on, but as it’s a long program, they don’t slam you with the exercises and the food all at once, it’s very slow and steady.  Perfect for those who get overwhelmed quickly.

The downside to this is that if you want to get in shape (or look in shape) quickly, then this is not for you, but it’s a wonderful program to do in tandem with your sweetheart the year before your wedding, or afterwards to stay in shape together.  The exercises say they take 60 minutes, and I suppose if you milked it, it could, but I am generally able to bang them out in 20 – 25 min.  You get weekends off, as well, which is nice – with kids, I like to have the option to sleep in of a Saturday.


4. Diet That is Not a Diet.

I know that this is not the popular thing to say ever, but seriously, vegetables and protein are going to be the first thing you need to be eating every day – sometimes if you just cut out almost all carbs except like a bit of a sweet potato or some beans and even cut back your fruit intake (and no soda, no juice, no lattes – just black coffee or water or a protein shake) you’ll see results.  And it’s not a diet.  It’s eating super clean, and super healthy because you’re taking out most of the sugary carbs.  You’d likely see results in a week if you just eat pretty darn clean.  I miss the booze most when I focus on eating like this, but I totally love my results in a matter of days.  It’s like the belly fat just starts to disappear.

Anyway, it’s totally possible to get shredded (or in better shape than you are now – whatever shape that is!) before that wedding day, but it does require some time, focus, and regiment.  Still, those photos are going to last forever, right?  It’s worth it to feel your best (because if you feel your best, you’ll likely look your best!)…and who knows?  You might enjoy it all so much, the exercise and eating becomes your lifestyle and you’ll be able to feel awesome about yourself every day beyond the wedding.

Photo of me…courtesy of Front Room Photography

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