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Posts Tagged ‘wedding favors’

Hotel Welcome BagsI’ve always enjoyed a personalized welcome bag when I’ve gone to weddings out of state. When we made ours, we chose items that represent us and the wedding.  

We shared plant-able confetti, limoncello from Italy (where I lived for four years), marionberry jam (from the groom’s home state of Oregon), an art cube with photographs by my mother, water bottles and helpful maps. 

I was excited to have the opportunity to share my mother’s art with our guests. A professional photographer, Melabee Miller has had her photographs on four art cubes. The cubes are built like ancient Chinese puzzles. You open up the cube and discover more images inside. While we chose the white cube for the wedding, you can watch the pink one being opened up on this Youtube video. If you are interested in purchasing cubes, you are welcome to contact her directly at mmiller95(at)aol(dot)com.

Our wedding had a bit of a green theme (some potted herbs at the wedding) and we decided to re-use shopping bags for the welcome bags. Similarly, the confetti, made by Botanical Paperworks, had seeds in it and could be planted. 

We started planning for the welcome bags early by ordering the various pieces and having them shipped to my parents’ house in New Jersey. To drop them off at the hotels, we called a few days ahead to ask how many rooms were booked and then dropped them with the necessary labels. We tried to choose items that would travel easily if they weren’t consumed immediately. 

What was your favorite treat you found inside of a hotel welcome bag?

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cake tastingToday was a sweet, sweet day. It started off with cake tasting at our venue and ended with chocolate making.  

The Mother of the Bride and I were each given a plate with four different generous slices of cake. The venue made four cakes total and we took home the rest of the four cakes. I had no idea that we would not only taste the cake, but be able to eat it for the rest of the week. That’s what I call preparing for the wedding. 

Our meeting took about an hour, since we discussed many of the final details of the big day (seating, order of the day, etc.) How does time fly by so quickly? It seems just yesterday we were taking off our winter coats and meeting with the same people in January. I’m both overwhelmed by everything that has to be done at the end and amazed by how much we’ve already done. 

I spent the afternoon making the chocolates for the wedding favors. I had planned to make 3 per person, but I ended up making 5 (apparently an odd number is good luck for a bride. I think any amount of chocolate is good luck for anyone!) It was fun, but I could use a massage on my lower back after leaning over for three hours. The Mother of the Bride and I still have to package them in little bags.

Chocolate favor making

To prepare to make the favors, I had experimented with various flavors and techniques for chocolate making in Michigan. I thought that I’d try using squeeze bottles this time, but that proved to be a disaster yesterday. I kept melting the chocolate on low in the microwave and the chocolate wouldn’t melt. When it did, it wouldn’t flow nicely through the very small tip (even after I gave the bottom a good slap.) Finally, I microwaved the bottle some more and it imploded. The bottom was sucked inward and the chocolate was mixed with the melted plastic. That is not something you want to serve to your most beloved family and friends. I threw out the dreaded bottles and bought a new double-broiler on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond yesterday. So today, I knew what I was getting myself into and was ready. 

If you plan to be a DIY bride like I am, I recommend practicing making the items ahead of time (especially if it is food!) I was able to practice in Michigan and then order everything that I needed to have it ready for me at my parents’ house when I arrived last week. I did overdo it a little; there were twice as many bags of chocolate than I needed and I even made more chocolates than I thought I would (see how important math is?) Anyone need a bag? Or seven?

Yesterday was a busy day, too. I finished packaging the hotel welcome bags and wrapped the presents for the Wonderful Women. (More on that after the wedding. Can’t ruin any surprises!) After shopping for the double-broiler (called a “bagno Maria” in Italian – literally, Maria’s Bath?), I bought some special wines to share with our guests at a wine pairing station. We’ve made sure that my fiancé’s home state and our current state (Michigan) are represented. A friend told me that there is New Jersey Exit Wine. Perhaps I’ll look for that. Am I allowed to make the joke about what exit I take for the store? I didn’t think so. 

Tomorrow I’m off to pick up the wedding license, meet with the DJ and visit with my great aunt before going to a dance class with my parents. Somewhere in between then, I might have a slice of cake and a chocolate or two that went awry and wasn’t counting. Luckily, there are more than a few.

Chocolate favors

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Melabee photographing in Puerto Rico, January 2009We probably won’t do formal introductions at the wedding (no one is invited who doesn’t know us…) I would like to take this opportunity introduce you to my mother, Melabee M. Miller.  An artist, she’s inspired me since I used to borrow her Sharpie pens and draw under her desk in a NYC industrial design firm as a child.

A few quick facts…

She is an architectural photographer who was recently the principal photographer for the book, Can’t Fail Window Treatments. Some of you in New Jersey might have attended her book signing at Barnes & Noble in Springfield.

Her botanical images have found their way onto art cubes and floorcloths. We have an art cube of every color and three floorcloths in our house. I love standing on the one by the sink.  

I bet you are wondering if Melabee is involved in the wedding industry. She recently joined Weddings by Artists,  a group I founded for like-minded artists involved in the wedding industry. Her white cubes would make perfect favors.

She recently started blogging and you can see monthly pictures (replacing her once-bi-monthly calendars). My favorite is the artichoke she is growing in her backyard in a Manhattan suburb – from a seed packet I brought back from Italia!

Keeping with the art theme, my mom and I have collaborated on a number of projects. We created a manuscript of paired photographs and poems that narrate our family’s emigration from the small town of Sala Consilina in southern Italy to New Jersey in the 1800’s. We have published a number of poems and been invited to present the project at a number of academic conferences, but we are still looking for a publisher for the manuscript as a whole. 

She is also the photographer for the personalized wedding poem roses, if you choose to have your poem printed with flowers. Look up to the top of the page to see one of her roses (again, grown in her garden.)

If that isn’t enough, she is also the most helpful MOB (Mother of the Bride) ever. Considering how far away I live, she has had many things to do locally. Tomorrow, she is off to visit with the florist.

Our next adventure? A mother-daughter trip to Santa Fe next week before I start a weeklong residency at the Ghost Ranch through the wonderful organization for women writers, A Room of Her Own. Stay tuned.

Mom and I having drinks before the Sex in the City Premiere in NYC

Thank you for everything, Mamma Mia!

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Truffle making @ Sweetgems (final product)If you’ve been reading my blog, then you know how much I love to cook and search out food-related events. At a recent (free) wine pairing discussion at the gourmet grocery store Morgan and York , I saw a sign announcing that Sweet Gem Confections has truffle making classes. I knew immediately that a class would be in my future.  

Sweet Gem Confections is a chocolate store run by Nancy Biehn, the chief executive chocolatier. She makes the most perfectly paired flavors, from Pear with Pink Peppercorns to Balsamic Vinegar in Milk Chocolate to Deep Dark Ginger with Vanilla. The list goes on and on. I don’t tend to like “fussy” food, but these combinations are delightful. (You don’t have to be in Ann Arbor to try them. You can order online, too.)

Nancy offers classes to groups of four to six. For $70.00, your group will be provided with the finest quality chocolate, learn how to temper chocolate, create ganache centers and decorate your truffles. Wouldn’t that be a fun bridal party gathering? (If I were a bridesmaid, I think that would be a fine thank you instead of the traditional piece of jewelry.) The final chocolates could be great gifts or wedding favors, too.

I quickly emailed everyone I’ve met in Ann Arbor and gathered together a group of people. For two and half hours, we worked together in Nancy’s space inside of Morgan and York and made truffles.

Nancy prepared the ganache fillings the night before (dark chocolate and Grand Marnier) and was melting the untempered dipping chocolate when we entered. The smell was what I imagined when I used to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The class started with a quick lecture on the history of chocolate. Then we turned to working on tempering the chocolate by mixing in a seed – tempered chocolate.

Stirring the chocolate, I wanted to become a tiny fairy and swim in the bowl of warm chocolate.

Nancy patiently showed us how to shape the filling, dip our creative shapes in dark, milk or white chocolate and then decorate them with the various options she spread out before us. There were large grains of blue sugar, little chocolate balls, heart shapes and then a box of transfers. Transfers are mini-sugar tattoos for you chocolates. You press them into your wet truffles, wait for the chocolate to cool and then peel them back. Voila! Your truffle has a beautiful design on top. (I always thought those designs were hand painted. Silly me.) She also had fine colored sugar that we could use to paint onto our truffles to give them a slight iridescent glow (red, silver or gold.) 

When I grow up, I want to be a chocolatier.

Thanks, Nancy!

 

Truffle making @ Sweetgems (pre-dipped chocolates)Truffle making @ Sweetgems (dipping chocolates)Truffle making @ Sweetgems (decorations)

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BravoBrideI first came across BravoBride in a New York Times article . It is an online marketplace *just* for weddings. Perfect. I’ve been scouring the website weekly since I learned about it. Everything from dresses and diamond rings to favors are for sale, used and new.

 

Why pay full price in this economy?

 

Founder and recent bride Susan Alexander Shapiro tells us more.

 

 

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Susan Alexander Shapiro, founder BravoBrideHow did you come up with the idea for Bravobride?

 

I got married this past July 4th and when I was planning the wedding I found it frustrating to pay for expensive wedding items that I’d use once and only for a few hours.  I looked on Craigslist and Ebay but there wasn’t anything focused on just the bridal industry.

 

What is/was the most “out there” item for sale on your site? What is the most common item for sale?

 

We have a pair of ‘wedding boots’ on the site that are really unique. Our most popular items are definitely wedding dresses.

 

How is your site different from Craig’s List or other similar lists?

What sets me apart is that you won’t find fish tanks and bicycles on the site, we only focus on wedding products. Craigslist and Ebay are probably my biggest competitors but you have to search through so many things on Craigslist to find what you are looking for and it’s only for certain regions. Our site is nationwide and we have an advanced search so you can quickly find what you are looking for. The site is also broken down into different categories, such as dresses, jewelry, items for the ceremony and reception and more. Unlike Ebay is completely free to list items and there’s never a sale upon commission. There are a few other sites that that sell used wedding dresses but we are the only site that doesn’t charge a listing fee or take a commission upon sale.

 

What can the “unbride” find on your website?

 

The “unbride” can find everything from non-traditional wedding items, like these blue shoes to a Guide for the Groom book so you’re soon-to-be husband can help with the wedding planning.

 

What guarantee does a bride have that the product advertised is indeed what the seller says it is? In particular, I’m thinking about the rings and the more expensive items?

 

That’s a good question. Like Craigslist, we follow the buyer beware rule. We can not offer a guarantee since we are only connecting the buyers and seller and don’t stock actual merchandise. For more expensive items you may want to deal only locally or use a payment service where your transaction can be protected.

 

It is wonderful that you support the Go Red campaign. How did that relationship begin?

 

I wanted to support a cause that was for women since our site is geared towards brides. The Go Red campaign is near and dear to me because both of my Grandmother’s had heart disease and if effects more woman than cancer.

 

What was the best part of your own wedding?

 

Honestly the whole day was wonderful but I think the ceremony was the most special part. My husband’s aunt married us and they meant a lot to me.

 

 

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Read a little more about the history of BravoBride here. You’ll get to see Susan’s husband Mark, too.

 

Have you bought something on BravoBride? Tell your story here.

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Personalized Wedding Poems by Chloé Yelena Miller can be given or read in a number of ways. Here are some suggestions:

 

Y Read the poem as a toast at the rehearsal dinner or during the reception

 

YIntegrate the poem into the ceremony

 

YInclude all or part of the poem in the vows

 

YPrint and frame the poem as a gift for the couple

 

YUse the poem in the invitation or save-the-date

 

YDisplay the poem during the reception or cocktail hour.

 

YAdd the poem to the ceremony program

 

YInclude the poem on the wedding website

 

YHave the poem printed on wedding day favors

 

YInsert the poem into the thank you cards

 

YGive the poem later as an anniversary gift

 

YOffer the poem to your partner as a part of the bride or groom present

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(Thanks to The Ann Arbor Chronicle for mentioning this blog post!)

 

 

I attended my first bridal show this weekend at V2V , a lovely boutique in Ann Arbor, MI.

 

I was smitten with V2V and their dresses when I saw a silk gown with a gathered front hanging in their window recently. Last week, I tried on a few dresses and spoke with Julia and Tracey. They told me about the “Bridal Event” this weekend. It sounded good, but I had no idea how much fun it would really be to attend.  

 

My friend Shasta kindly drove up from Indianapolis to help with wedding plans and we went together. Saturday, we had an appointment to try on dresses from the trunk sale. There were some beautiful Jenny Yoo and Siri that we loved. I haven’t decided on a dress yet, but I have a better sense of what I might like to buy.

 

Sunday was the Bridal Event. Shasta and I arrived at 2:30, a little before the second fashion show of the day. When we walked in, the woman gathering the tickets said that we had to try the meatballs right away. I wasn’t sure what she meant until we walked up the stairs and saw the vendors sharing samples of their foods. Who knew we should have come on an empty stomach?

 

We wandered around the tables of vendors. After tastes of almond cake, raspberry chocolate truffles, meatballs, apple cider and more, we felt like we were at an exclusive party dedicated to crafting original and sincere weddings.

 

Here were some highlights:

 

TeaHous is a Kerrytown-area store that specializes in tea and tea products. They had sample earl gray lollipops that would make wonderful favors.

 

Cakes by Rubina  offered a pure almond chocolate cake bite. It tasted like a true Italian dessert.

 

Decadent Delights  shared moist chocolate cake with us. They make custom cookies and can even make cookies that match your cake.

 

I had walked by Schakolad , the chocolate factory, a number of times in Ann Arbor and never stopped. That was clearly a mistake. I tasted a raspberry champagne truffle and wanted to create a distraction so Shasta could steal us the entire silver tray of chocolates.

 

When we found Zingerman’s, we found the meatballs. At this point I was too full to want to squeeze in extras, but it was delicious. Shasta enjoyed some of the apple cider.

 

The ultimate high point was the ten minute chair massage by Bellanina I was a new woman after that (why did I have to get up?)

 

The fashion show was great fun. The models walked down the runway in the dresses carrying lovely bouquets of flowers. Here are some pictures from the show:

 

 

V2V white dress

V2V group

V2V Show 3 I highly recommend attending future shows there. The cost was $8.00 in advance, $10 at the door. This was exactly the place to be for a bride who is looking to create an authentic wedding day without the excess of impersonal, commercial vendors.  

 

Thanks to V2V and Shasta for a wonderful weekend. I’m brimming with good ideas and cake.

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