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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Fashionable Comfortable Bride-able

I was recently lucky enough to get the Reebok catalog in the mail (never had received one before – I must have bought something that put me on their list).  It showed up with the back cover facing up, so it was the first thing I saw, and I think I about drooled.

Their copper sneakers?  I covet them.  Please, Santa baby, put them under the tree for me!

But then I got thinking that their lovely silver, gold, copper or even plain white would be just enough dressy for under a bridal gown.  Not necessarily for those glamour shots or walking down the aisle (though you could totally do that too) but with so many metallics popping up in wedding design, they’d definitely fit right in, plus let you brides enjoy the day in comfort AND style.

Though, word to the wise, if you plan to spend most of the day or evening in these, take them to your fitting and make sure your hem will clear the floor when you’re wearing them.  If you go from 4in heels to these, you’ll be tripping over your dress the rest of the night…or holding onto it, instead of your honey.

(PS – Reebok totally has no idea I’m posting about them, so this is no ad for them…but it would be cool if they sent me a smiley face for the shout out! hahaha)

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Something Eerie for Halloween

I adore Halloween.  Like I am obsessed.  I think it’s the candy.  Or maybe the Fall weather.  Definitely the orange (my favorite color).  Or the excuse to dress up.  Or the marketing.  Those marketers.  They have me buying more Halloween stuff every year.  Thankfully now I can excuse my purchases because I want to “create an experience for the kids” and my husband is kind enough to pretend he believes me.

Anyway, I decided to post about something completely unconventional this Halloween season.  No wedding pumpkins, no receptions under fall foliage.  Nope.  Something a little more strange and eerie.  Something just plain weird.  Something fun AND educational.

I met a conchologist on vacation.  Yes, someone who knows all about molluscs.  And it was like sitting in the middle of National Geographic.  I learned so much I just have to share because it’s downright interesting and also kinda sounds like zombie wars in real life, under the sea.

So, enjoy a little Halloween grossness on me.  :)   You’re welcome.

This gorgeous shell, called a Trumpet Triton,  is actually small.  Yes, they grow much much bigger.  They live on the seafloor and hunt in packs of 50.  The snails inside grow to be 45lbs or more (that is like two of my 3 yr old daughter) and they move along and EAT lobsters.  Like they move over the top of the lobster and suffocate them, and then completely absorb them, shells and all.  Yikes.  I didn’t know huge snails hunted in packs before.  I would not want to be a lobster in Indonesia.

This gorgeous shell has done absolutely nothing, visual-wise, in 500 million years.  The oldest known fossil is of THIS shell – they are the longest living animal we have ever found as a fossil.  Insane, right?!  They are called Harp snails, and their oldest enemy is a crab – these days, the Boxer crab.  Well, after millions of years, these guys got smart.  They sense a crab is coming along, right?  So they have evolved to have this little piece of themselves they can kinda do a “woops, did I drop that?” and leave it behind.  The crab, who is just thinking “FOOD!” goes right to this little piece of purposefully dropped meat and starts to eat it.  Now, does Mr. Harp go off and hide?  Oh no.  He circles on back, comes up behind the crab, grabs hold and climbs on the crab’s back, sticks a straw-like appendage into the crab’s shell and SUCKS THE CRAB’S GUTS OUT!!  Disgusting, right?!  But kinda wickedly cool…

I saved this guy for last.  The famous Leopard snail.  This guy is not big.  He’s about the size of your palm.  But he is the craziest, meanest hunter out in the ocean.  When he sees prey (which is anything from a crab, lobster or another huge snail, like that Trumpet Triton above), he shoots out this harpoon-like appendage with a piece of shell-like sharp end and pops it onto the victim.  Then he injects poison to paralyze it.  Then he drags it down under the sand to suffocate the prey…then he eats it by absorbing it.  During the day, this bugger sleeps 3 feet under the sand, under a rock, under 600 ft of ocean water.  Thank heaven they’re not easily found to be handled alive, because these suckers have been known to kill 15 people already with their poison.  Yup, they’re that deadly.

So, there’s your daily lesson in conchology.

Now, back to figuring out how to use shells for wedding decor…

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Bill & Steph {Aug 29 2015}

Bill and Stephanie were married on what was likely the foggiest day of August, but that certainly did not dampen their spirits, nor their vivacious wedding party, super fun guests, and made for some beautiful photography around Milwaukee.  They were a lovely, gracious, poised and wonderful couple who were so happy to be getting married that it was obvious every step of the entire weekend.  It was our pleasure to help design their day and make it a reality!  From the bright colors against a navy and gold wedding, to the great travel touches in the cake and amazing groom’s cake, the guestbook and their Chinatown style late-night Chinese food buffet, complete with lanterns from San Fran, this couple did it right every step of the way.  I was especially happy the bride let me try a new head table arrangement.  We had 3 “sweetheart” tables on the riser – one for the couple, one for the best man and brother, the other for the maid of honor and a bridesmaid, and the rest of the part was on a long table below.  It looked super awesome, allowed for movement for the wedding party, and gave the couple just a tad bit of privacy.  They rocked!  Mazel tov!

Photography: R&R Photographic Imaging

Room Artist/Plein Air Artist: Julie Jilek

Cake: Eat Cake

Videography: David Schulta Videography

DJ & Lighting: Double Platinum

Venue: Milwaukee Athletic Club

Ceremony Trio: Lakeside Strings

Chinese Food: Emperor of China

Linen: BBJ

Floral: Esther Fleming


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Vintage Train Birthday

Well, for all of you who adore Pinterest, watch out!  I’m coming in full force with a very cool vintage train birthday party theme for the firstborn, who happens to have been born on 9/11.  We’ll be doing something casual – a little “hey classmates, show up at this park for two hours, run around and eat cake!” as we’ll be taking him on the Hiawatha for his birthday present, and a trip to Chicago to run around the parks and eat…his usual Greek yogurt.

But, stay tuned!  I’m dreaming up some very fun invitations and might even wax a little poetic on them!  Hurray for trains!

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Our new favorite videographer

Milwaukee doesn’t have a lot of wedding videographers.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe because it’s a time-intensive job that requires hours sitting with earphones on, watching, clipping, capturing, editing, coordinating, and referencing, and that’s all AFTER the hours spent actually filming the wedding day.

Maybe because there truly is a bit of an intense passion, beyond an artistic eye, that comes with doing a fabulous wedding video.  There’s the question of being a tad traditional for the parents and using newer technologies for the couple; who can mesh both qualities together?

I (Sara) have known David since 1991.  We’ve gone to homecoming dances, worked on 7th grad math problems, and shared drinks on Milwaukee rooftops with our significant others.  He’s hung with my kids and hubby, and I am counting the weeks before we all can barge in on his brand new baby.  I know that from the beginning, David has loved video.  He made the best Huckleberry Finn video for sophomore English class, and has made countless home movies of excellent quality while we were growing up.  And now, he’s become this fantastic videographer for weddings in Milwaukee.  His passion shows.  His eye for art shows.  And I know he cares about every video he makes, and that, right there, makes all the difference.

He’s done the videos for many of my couples, and I believe they are all thrilled with the final product.  Check him out here: and maybe he can capture your day in motion too!

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Hello Kitty Success!

Well, more than anything, we were lucky with the weather – the 3 yr old’s birthday party was able to be held entirely outdoors and with over fifty people in attendance, it was successful and a blast!

We grabbed most of the food from the local Costco, and the ingredients for mimosas for the adults, a candy stuffed Hello Kitty pinata, and had the huge bounce house delivered and set-up in the bright sunlight of a Sunday morning.

Gorgeous linens, a beautiful cake that was doubly delicious, and a lot of fake tattoos, bubbles and chalk meant a lot of happy kids and a very thrilled little girl.  Happy Golden, my daughter!


Cake:  Cakes by Erin Salerno

Flowers:  La Tulipe

Linens:  Elegant Touch


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More Gorgeousness {Megan & Chris}

Some more shots of the gorgeous May wedding of Megan and Chris!  Thanks Craig John Photography!

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Megan & Chris {May 22 2015}

It was about 1.5 years of planning, some meetings, design thoughts, and honestly lots of laid back decision making.  Megan and Chris are sweet – on each other and with others – and they wanted a wedding day that was not only all about the actual “getting married” part, but something vintage and classic, rustic and elegant.  We created that vibe, and their 260 guests enjoyed delicious food, excellent music, and a warm, thoroughly joyful evening.  Megan and Chris – many many cheers!

Ceremony and Reception Venue: Pritzlaff

Photographer: Craig John Photography

Floral: La Tulipe

Cake: Simma’s Bakery

Linens: BBJ Linen

Transportation: Badger Coaches

All Music: Front of House





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The Gala of the Year

We helped with the Port Catholic School annual fundraising Gala in April, and it was out of this world gorgeous!!  (Plus it raised over $110,000!) With a delightful Alice in Wonderland theme, we were able to produce a lovely evening for all who attended.

Guests arrived and walked through the Rabbit Hole, registered, and were immediately greeted by the option to have a delicious Moscow Mule served in copper mugs (and the guests got to keep the mugs!).  They could buy raffle tickets, or choose a gift card off the “Dine and Dash” wall, before walking through a lovely hallway draped in red with gold frames and red roses suspended in mid-air to the silent auction tent.  The tent was filled with over 400 items on black crushed taffeta linen, while playing cards and red fabric hung above.  Tables draped in red with paint cans filled with red and white roses completed the Queen of Hearts vibe.

The ballroom was out of this world – hundreds of china teacups and teapots were suspended in mid-air amid swathes of white gossamer draping.  Icy blue uplights gave the room a little other-world vibe, while the white and silver linens were piled high with many types of eclectic centerpieces – branches dripping with keys and piled with teacups and flowers, teapots, cups and saucers laden with fresh floral, birdcages adorned with butterflies and filled with moss and flowers and little blue caterpillars, and lots of old books and candles.  There were details everywhere, from the menus to the little corporate name tags on the backs of chairs.  The creme de la creme was both the extraordinary cake to celebrate the school’s 25th year, and the Couture Table, which was a lovely vintage table surrounded by old chairs, covered in lace and more floral and china with white butterflies dangling above.  The Mad Hatter himself (an actor) headed the table in full costume.

It was a fun-filled evening for all the guests and parents, which could not have happened without an ARMY of volunteers, and we cannot wait to see how 2016 unfolds!

Design help: Little Shoots Photo House

Cake: Cakes by Erin Salerno

Lighting in Ballroom: ACME

Lighting and sound in Tent: Accent Events

Linens: Elegant Touch of Cedarburg

Rentals: Relics Vintage Rentals

Venue & Caterer: Country Inn & Suites with Saz’s

Tent: Arena Americas

Costume: Miller & Campbell

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