Best Homemade Ravioli Alfredo You'll Ever Eat

Being only 1 month and 12 days away from the wedding, John and I wanted to go on a date but not necessarily spend the money to eat gourmet food. I was really craving Ravioli Alfredo from Olive Garden but that mean is easily $15 just for me, and that's IF I get a water.
Well Olive Garden, eat your heart out

What you will need:
  • Cheese Ravioli (although Lobster and Shrimp Ravioli would be quite delicious with this)
  • Aged Sharp White Cheddar
  • Aged Parmesean
  • Gouda Cheese
  • Unsalted butter
  • Heavy whipping Cream
  • Garlic salt, pepper and paprika
  John's Smoked Alfredo Ravioli

This recipe serves 4 people

Start by getting a large pot. Fill it with water and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, toss in the entire bag of Ravioli. We purchased the $2.99 Kroger brand bag of cheese ravioli. Keep in mind, once the raviolis start to float, that means they are finished cooking.

Next, get a large sauce pan. 
In the sauce pan, pour 1 pint of heavy whipping cream and one whole stick of unsalted butter,
Once the butter has melted, you can start adding the cheeses. 

We purchased:
Private Selection's aged New York Sharp White Cheddar
Private Selection's Can Gogh Gouda Cheese
Private Selection's aged and shredded Parmesan Cheese

**This is not the time to purchase cheap cheese, trust me. The extra $2 is well worth every bite.**

The White Cheddar and the Gouda came in little squares. Take 10 squares of Gouda and 8 squares of Extra Sharp White Cheddar. Tear the cheese slices into smaller pieces-- this will help with the melting process to make the sauce more creamy and consistent. Melt cheeses in medium/high heat.

Once the Gouda and Sharp Cheddar have been added, add 1/2 cup of the shredded Parmesan. It seems like a lot of cheese, but they compliment each other very well.

Next for the spices. You can apply to taste if you'd like. I would recommend adding the spices AFTER the cheeses. The parmesan is going to give it a salty flavor so of course you wouldn't want to add too much and ruin your dish.
1 teaspoon of Garlic Salt
1 pinch of Pepper
2 pinches of Paprika

Paprika? In alfredo?! YES. The Paprika really compliments the flavors in the Gouda and creates a nice, smooth, smokey flavor. Hence, "Smoked Alfredo Ravioli".

<---------Once all of the cheese has melted, how do you know you're done?
Well, leave it on the heat without stirring. Once you can starting to see a thin film covering the top of the sauce, tip the pan towards you and see if you can see the wrinkles in the film. This lets you know that the thickness of your sauce is perfect.


I'm telling you guys, this dish was phenominal. Who wouldn't appreciate a homemade Italian dish with aged cheese and deliciousness? That's what I thought.

Now go spoil your loved one, go!

What questions you SHOULD be asking your wedding venue

STOP! Don't sign that contract!

So you found the venue of your dreams, eh? Now you're ready to sit down, sign the contract, and start planning right? WRONG. You do not want to purchase based on emotion and I know most women do this. Heck, I do this. It's the same thing as having 8 million pairs of shoes in your closet you never wear or a bag you've never touched. It is 'just perfect' when your eyes see it but it goes unused because in the end, it just wasn't practical. This can apply to wedding vendors as well. I know you've all read this from me before but the wedding industry eats this up! They want to sell to you based on emotion!

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying you can't have that big, beautiful venue you saw last week. I'm saying there are questions you should ask before you sign the check.

Question #1: What do their prices include?
You'll find yourself really saving money on venues that include linens, tables, chairs, etc. A lot of unexpected costs start to surface after your 'love at first sight' reaction is gone and will only end up stressing you out. A lot of the time your caterer will provide dishes but some don't. Make sure you attack these costs before signing your name on the dotted line for a $5,000+ venue. Once you figured out your budget for the venue along with tables, chairs, dishes, etc. you can actually look at how great of a deal you're getting.

Question #2: Who will be taking care of everything the day of?
I got lucky. My venue is providing a wedding day coordinator. You want to make sure you have this sort of thing figured out before. The last thing you want to do is miscommunicate and end up signing your own vendors in while you have rollers in your hair. If they don't offer these services, either consider looking somewhere that does or budget in the cost of a wedding coordinator.

Question #3: Do they have a plan B?
What if it rains? What if it snows? What if you planned on a 50 degree day and it's 102? Having a plan B or a backup weather plan is crucial. You obviously can't predict what the weather will be like 4 months before your actual wedding day. If something goes wrong, make sure the venue has a plan B and make sure you like it!

Question #4: What is their maximum capacity?
If you have fallen in love with this venue, you want to make sure they will allow all of your guests. If you have 300 people attending and the maximum capacity is 125, obviously you've run into a problem and will either have to reconsider your guest list or your choice in this venue.

Question #5: Are you given time the day before for bridal portraits and the rehearsal dinner?
You're going to want to have a run through of the wedding sometime during the week of. Having your rehearsal take place at the venue will help you know how things should go the day of the wedding. I would definitely recommend it.

Question #6: What happens when the clock strikes 12?
Figure out if your venue has a curfew. A lot of venues, especially in the city, respect courtesy hours. Ask them when your time is up so you can plan your ceremony and reception accordingly instead of running into any surprises.

Question #7: Do they have mandatory/recommended vendors?
It is always good to ask if they have recommended vendors, but what happens if they don't give you a choice? Well that stinks, you had your heart set on that caterer downtown! This pushes you to make a decision. Do you want that caterer downtown or this venue?

Question #8: Do they have restrictions on glass?
You don't want to purchase cases and cases of bottled beer only to get to the door and realize you misread a line in the contract. A lot of outdoor venues have a restriction on glass. Make sure you ask questions about their restrictions before making major purchases.

This should get you started! Don't be afraid to ask questions and make sure what you wanted wasn't just a knee-jerk reaction. What questions did you run into when consulting with your venue?

5 Easy Steps To Start Planning Your Wedding

Being a college student and planning a wedding at the same time isn't easy. Money goes here, money goes there, and before you know it you're left with nothing but a crappy wedding dress and $20,000 in college debt. Let me tell you right now, it doesn't have to be that way! The wedding industry thrives on selling overpriced dresses and pushing the idea of a day you'll never forget. Truth is, you won't forget your wedding day so why spend $30,000 on a wedding like the average bride in America?

I am in my last semester taking 6 classes and planning a wedding in March. Crazy right? Well, not really. Most people would advise you to get married after you finish college. This isn't bad advice. However, if you're like me and don't like to play by the rules then you don't have to wait. Sure it may be easier but who isn't up for a good challenge during their college experience?

I have been engaged now for 2 years and let me tell you, you hear a lot of so called "advice" that isn't helpful. This industry thrives on brides who don't know what they're doing and the fiances that give them all the money they need to do it. There is your first mistake. Now I'm not telling you these 5 steps will automatically turn your wedding from drab to fab, but you have got to start somewhere. Now, before I begin. I am assuming you have all set a date and created a guest list? I thought so.

Step #1: As much as he may hate it, he'll thank you for it later. Sit down with your husband or bride-to-be and make a budget. That's right, I said it. The word every girl hates to hear. Get into excel or even get a piece of paper. List out all of the things you will need for your wedding and then write out to the side the maximum you're willing to spend. Once you add all of these up and realize you have a $40,000 wedding to pay for, you'll make cuts somewhere and find out what your priorities are. Easiest example is the dress. Is it really necessary to go to Kleinfelds in New York and spend $12,000 on a dress? Heck no! Take advantage of David's Bridal or Alfred Angelo. Most of them are the same dresses without the designer tag and you're spending WAY under $12,000. 

Step #2: GO TO BRIDAL SHOWS. I'm going to tell you right now, this is going to be overwhelming. Just do it. Take a pen and a notebook and write down everything you like and dislike about the vendors you meet. My personal experience was that I found the venue of my dreams for half the price it is now. How is that? Well, this particular bridal show was the first they had been to since they opened and their pricing was a steal! And guess what else? I won a free honeymoon trip to Cancun, Mexico after being entered in the grand giveaway. It really happens!

Step #3: Don't be afraid to ask friends to do things for you. Whether it be photography, cinematography, baking the cake or doing your flowers. Trust me. Even if you pay them it will be way less expensive than hiring a "professional" who doesn't know you or your taste. Not to mention, that just makes a good memory for the both of you.

Step #4: Create a competitive atmosphere with your potential vendors. When it all comes down to it, they want your business. Especially if it is a wedding for hundreds of people who can later brag to others about how good the service was. It is ok to nickel and dime. After all, you've really got nothing to lose like they do. The last thing they want is for you to rate them as too expensive or inflexible. 

Step #5: Make this about the BOTH of you. This isn't just the bride's day like the wedding industry says. If you work together to create the wedding you BOTH want, that just says more about the beginning of your marriage than a bride who cried her way into getting what she wanted. Plus, involving him lets him know you care about his opinion. 

Finally, stay away from wedding sites that just want to push sales at you. Most of the time, it isn't worth your money. Stick to plan, stick with your fiance and stick to the budget. You'll be just fine. 

Picking Out Tuxedos- Leave The Bride Speechless As She Walks Down The Isle

As you know, Sunday morning Stacey, John, and I went to visit our caterer and finalize our menu. This isn't what the post is about but let me just say, our food kicks butt.

At 12:30 we had an appointment to meet with Al's Formal Wear because they felt they could beat the deal we were offered at Men's Wearhouse. This offer immediately sparked an interest in both me and John. John the budgeter, me the bargain shopper.

We originally went to Men's Wearhouse because I had a coupon for $40 off the tuxedo rentals with the groom's tux free. I thought this was a great deal. However, when we met with Men's Wearhouse it seemed like loopholes were peeking through. The coupon was considered 'void' if the groomsmen did not rent shoes-- shoe rentals are not included in the price of the tuxedo rental. And get this, shoe rentals are $30. So turns out, my awesome coupon was really a coupon for $10 off a tuxedo rental. You could imagine my excitement when I found all this out. However, we played it up to Al's Formal Wear when they called John to ask if we were interested in their business. They said they could top Men's Wearhouse and provide us with a better deal so we thought it would be a good idea to check them out.

The salesman that helped us was very helpful. He listened to what our vision was and did exactly what we asked him to do. On the surface, their tux rentals seemed more expensive. However, their coupon was for $60 off the rental and did not have any loop holes like Men's Wearhouse. On top of that, the shoes were included in the price of the rentals. Best yet, John's tux is free and he is able to choose any one he wants with no limits on the price. We went ahead and signed up with Al's Formal Wear because they seemed much more helpful and acted like they truly wanted our business.

Next on the list was to get John's measurements. The salesman measured him and then went to the back to pull a jacket and check the fit. At this moment it hit me. I am not prepared for how handsome my soon-to-be husband is going to look on our wedding day. Everyone makes this huge deal about how beautiful the bride is going to look. I won't lie, I have never felt as gorgeous as I do when I put on my wedding gown. But because of this experience, I have no doubt that when all eyes are on me, my eyes will be locked on him.

The Night Before

As you have read from my previous post, my bridesmaids and I stayed up all night baking and preparing for my first bridal shower of the weekend.
I have made cakepops several times and I feel they get uglier with each attempt. Oh well, at least they taste good right?

The first item on our list to bake was the cake to make cakepops, next was red velvet cupcakes. Allison and Stacey are my baking companions back home. Clarissa, however, is more of the "taste-tester". Don't worry, we put her to work. While Allison and Stacey started on the cupcakes, Clarissa and I were working on preparing the cake balls. We had already cooked the cake and let it cool. Now it was time to do the heavy lifting.

Cakepops are fairly easy to make but very time consuming. You bake the cake, then let it cool, then you ruin it. Literally. Don't worry about your cake looking pretty coming out of the stove.
Once the cake cools, you smush it. That's right-- dig your hands in it and crumble it up like you did on your 2nd birthday. As you're crumbling it, add whatever icing you choose until the cake feels moist. We used German Chocolate Cake mix (Duncan Hines is THE best with the exception of cakes made from scratch). We also bought cream cheese icing, also Duncan Hines. Forget Betty Crocker, she's mediocre. Once we mushed and smushed the icing into the cake, it was time to roll them into little balls. I'm telling you, what better way to release your inner child than smashing a cake and playing with it?

Once the cake was rolled into balls, you stick the cake pop stick into the cake balls. Set them in the fridge for about an hour to let them harden a bit, this will make it easier later on.
About 5 minutes before taking the cake pops out of the fridge, start melting chocolate (preferably the candy melts that harden). Once you dip all the cake pops in the melted chocolate, set them to the side and attempt to decorate them. You should get something similar to this (unless you're Houdini).

Yes I know, they look ugly. But they were so amazing. Talk about melting in your mouth!

Once we got done with the red velvet cupcakes and the hassle we call cakepops, we made Clarissa her "Brookies", which is a combination of brownies and cookies in a pan. She basically stayed up all night helping us bake in hopes that we would make her brookies in return.

Bridal Showers Galore

Phew! This whole week has been crazy! School has started back up and I am happy to say I am in my last semester. The wedding is now 52 days away and trust me, I am counting the days. 
Last weekend was the start to the madness. I had the most wonderful time, don't get me wrong but boy was I tired. 

My girls and I drove into Georgetown Friday night after we all got off work and basically stayed up the whole night baking cupcakes, cookies and cakepops. The first shower of the weekend (thrown by my Maid of Honor) was on Saturday at 12:30.  Little chef decor was everywhere! I don't know if any of you reading this know me but EVERY TIME I go into Ross or Marshalls, I absolutely love to look at the "little chef" kitchen decorations. I think they are absolutelt adorable. Stacey created a 'kitchen' theme and advised guests to purchase kitchen goodies and provide their favorite recipe. Only two guests had RSVP'd so you could imagine the surprise when 15 people showed up! I had a wonderful time catching up with friends from high school and some of John's cousins. After the chit chat calmed down, Stacey directed everyone over to sit on the couches while I opened presents. Not only did I get a lot of items I registered for, some even went a step further and purchased the "upgraded" version of what I registered for. Needless to say, John and I are pretty set on kitchen awesomeness. 

After the bridal shower was over and all cleaned up, the girls and I went to my seamstress to try on my dress. Everything was perfect except for the bust-- it was too tight. I was a little upset and kind of nervous but she seemed optimistic about fixing it so I told her I would be back the following weekend. Next, pedicures, shopping and a movie just sounded fantastic. 
When we finished our night, we got home and crashed. It was a very long day.

I got up around 10 on Sunday morning. Stacey and I went to pick up John so that we could do our taste testing and finalize the menu as well as register at a tuxedo shop, whether it be Al's Formal Wear or Men's Wearhouse. Stacey and I got back just in time for my bridal shower at 3 thrown by my next door neighbor. She made an awesome "Tina" drink. Yes, I know you're curious, easy fix. It was Prosecco mixed with blue curacao liqueur. The color turned out Tiffany blue and may I add it was delicious? This shower started off with the guests telling a story about me, whether it be how they met me or just something funny they would like to share. This turned out to be a lot of fun and had everyone laughing. 
It was then time for gifts again! I got a lot of barware and I got my first table setting of fine china! I was really excited and it was even prettier than I remembered. I cannot wait to invite family over and dazzle them with my wonderful dishes and somewhat amazing cooking.

After this shower, we got to look forward to a 3 hour drive back home. I am so blessed with wonderful friends and family. My bridal shower weekend was everything I could have hoped for and more. By the time it was over, I felt spoiled and exhausted and went straight to bed.

Meeting With Your Caterer- Making Sure You Get The Meal You Want

Let me start by saying John and I have been incredibly blessed. John's first job was with Ralph, who has now become the events manager of a bar and grill in town. The awesome thing about Ralph is that he is an amazing chef so our options were literally endless.

Our scheduled taste-testing was December 27. Unfortunately, we did not get to taste test because he ended up having to cover an event with 1300 people and did not have the chance to cook us anything. However, this ended up working out for the better! Before our meeting, John and I looked over the menu online and what their packages include. After looking at their menu, we narrowed it down to three package choices. The first package was their basic Italian which included 2 entrees, a side, a veggie, and a salad. John and I were expecting this to be around $15 per plate because they include the serving ware, the dishes and other tableware, drinks such as water/tea/coffee/lemonade, and 18% gratuity for the waiters. The second package we decided on was their Premium package. This included appetizers, 2 entrees, 2 salad choices, a veggie, 2 sides, and bread. The Premium we were guessing would be around $20 per plate, which is over our budget but we were being hopeful. The third option was one that John and I customized. We wanted to combine the two packages because we liked select options from both packages. We asked that if instead of having 2 entrees, we could add an appetizer. After talking over what we wanted, we told Ralph that this is what we hoped for in our dinner and cocktail food:

An assortment of appetizers including Salmon Toast Points, Sesame Ginger Meatballs, and Parmesan Spinach and Artichoke Dip.

Casear Salad and Garlic Cheese Bread
Au Gratin Potatos
Chicken Alfredo
And the veggie dish is to be decided.

With our customized package, we expected it to be more expensive than the basic but cheaper than the premium so we expected around $18, which was still over our budget.
Now, it was time to talk numbers. Ralph quoted us $12.99 for the Basic Italian Package which was cheaper than what we guessed and budgeted for. The Premium Package was quoted at $28.99 which was way more than we thought it would be. This then had us worried for what our customized package would be. However, Ralph will do our customized menu for the price of the basic. At first, John and I were thinking it was such a great deal, why wouldn't anyone else do this? Since we budgeted way more, we were able to put more than half down that day. 

The reason that not having a taste-testing turned out to work in our benefit is that now we can taste what we will actually be having and not have to deal with tasting more than we need to. We will be meeting with him to taste our customized menu within the next couple of weeks.

After leaving the meeting, John and I both realized that there was no way that was the original quote for what we wanted. Ralph was definitely cutting some strings for John and we are so grateful.
I am really excited. How can the wedding be a little over 2 months away!?

DIY Wedding Invitation Inserts- Making It Easy On Your Guests

After finishing the invitations, the response cards, and finally addressing all of the invitations, I thought I was ready to send them off. Before sealing them, I tried to think back to other wedding invitations I have received-- what did they include that I am missing? I thought of two things- 1: inserts that give guests hotel options and directions to the venue and 2: pictures of the bride and groom to be!

The pictures I knew I could take care of quickly. I had been informed a couple of weeks ago that ShutterFly is running a special that allows new registered members to receive 50 free prints! This really came in handy especially because I also received a $20 gift card from ShutterFly for registering at Target. They should be here in a couple of days now.

As for the inserts, I did research on affordable hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area. I provided 3 hotels and 3 bnb's so that the guests have several different options, especially those that will be staying a week.

First, start off with Microsoft Word. Personally, I have OpenOffice but the instructions should cover the jist of how to make your own invitation inserts.

Most of you will want to click "templates" but this really won't help unless you already have something downloaded. Go ahead and click on "Text Document".

Next, you have several different options. When I did my inserts, I clicked on "Frame" which is under "Insert" at the top left corner.

After you select frame, click on the "Borders" tab up at the top. Then start playing around with what type of border you want. If you have Microsoft Word, you will probably have more options.

In this example, I chose a border that outlines the frame in bold. You can also change the color, the thickness of the border, and the size of the frame.

Here is the first border text box. You can adjust the size by pulling the corners. Place it where you want it and enter in your text. I would recommend choosing a font that everyone can read. Once you have it where you want, copy the entire box by pressing 'ctrl' and 'c' on your keyboard. Then to paste the textbox, press 'ctrl' and 'v' on your keyboard. Or you can "right click" on your mouse and select copy/paste.

After you place them where you want in your word document, print them out and get started! As you can tell from my previous posts, I love using backgrounds! You will need your prints, your background paper, scissors, and a glue stick!. I placed the directions on one side and the recommended hotels on the other side.

After cutting them out, you can glue them to your background. I would recommend not cutting the background paper until you have everything glued and placed where you want it.

After I glued all of the directions, I then cut the background paper to fit the size I wanted. Next, I glued the recommended hotels to the back!

Simple right? This takes a bit of time but it also saves your guests from getting lost finding your venue and having to struggle finding a hotel in an area they aren't familiar with.

Making Wedding Invitations Easy

I know that every bride dreads the idea of sitting down and personally addressing each wedding invitation. Especially those of you who have several hundred. Some of you may have been a little smarter than me and realized there is another option but for brides like me who feel they had other things to worry about, here is something VERY useful.

During my trip to Office Depot with Stacey, I was told about shipping labels. Why I didn't think of this, I have no idea.

On my trip home for Christmas, I had my mom help me with all of the addresses. I am really not good at keeping up with everyone's address unless I specifically ask for it. So, with that said, she helped a lot. I got the larger labels that were clear. This gives you the opportunity to set different fonts and make sure there aren't any mess ups. Not to mention, it really saves you time and frustration.

I purchased the 2" x 4" labels. A package of 100 was $10.99. It comes with really detailed instructions and a website you can go to in order to download the correct template. 
Once your template is downloaded, you type your address, print them off and stick them onto the envelopes.

I was really glad I was told about this and thought I would spread the idea to you.
Happy planning!

Do It Yourself Bridal Shower Invitations

No one can blame you for not wanting to spend almost $2 per invitation (not including the cost of shipping them). You can easily spend about $100 ordering them online. Why spend the extra cash when you can do it yourself?

My Maid Of Honor, Stacey, was about to go through the same thing. She found invitations online that she really liked but they were $2.50 per invitation. I came over to help her and recommended that she do the same thing I did with my wedding invitations--make them! Not only is it a simple way to save money but it can be a fun way to bond with your girls! Allison, one of my bridesmaids, eventually joined us.

Stacey showed me the template she liked and we got to work.
Microsoft Word can really be a life saver. How simple is it to find a picnic blanket pattern and a couple of bell peppers? Once you find it, copy and paste it into word. Have your picture of your desired template along side your draft on Word. Also, a small tip that is very helpful is to take advantage of It is great for photo-editing and it is actually free. I have taken several courses for Photoshop and there really isn't much difference between the two other than Pixlr being a little more user friendly. If you don't know how to use photo editing tools, Pixlr also offers a 'help me' option that will help you nail the basics. Once Stacey had her template on Word, she saved it as a photo so that she could edit it.

Once she was finished editing, we saved it to a USB and took it to Office Depot. I am not going to lie, Office Depot has been a life saver the past couple of months. It cost Stacey a total of $18 to print 30 invitations, and that is including the cream card stock we purchased from them. Also, they have several options for envelopes there. You can get a pack of 50 for around $6.
Let's take a small break here. If Stacey would have purchased 30 invitations from online for $2.50, she would have spent $75. Let's add in another $6 for tax and about $4 for shipping. That is already $85 not including what she would have to pay for in stamps to send them! Stamps for these size/weight invitations were $.60 which means Stacey would then have tacked on another $18, equally a total of $103 for bridal shower invitations. Now with our alternative solution, Stacey spent $24 at Office Depot, $10 Wal-Mart for construction paper and ribbon, and $18 for stamps. This is a total of $52 for bridal shower invitations which in the end saved Stacey more than half! You get the point. Now let's get back to how to do it.

Making the template and printing is the easy part. It doesn't take much time and I wouldn't consider it tedious. Now we get to the part that requires patience.
**Tip: When printing, try to fit more than one invitation per sheet. Office Depot charges by how many sheets you print, not how many invitations you are printing. On a standard 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper, Stacey was able to fit 2 invitations. **

Once you get home-- you should have your prints, your scissors, your ribbon, your glue stick, your construction paper, and a ruler. If you have a sheet cutter that already has a ruler, it cuts your time in half. You may want to stop by Hobby Lobby and pick one up. They run around $10 for a cheap one but it still gets the job done. (Don't forget, Hobby Lobby has a 40% off coupon online everyday!).

Cut all of your prints to the size you want. Stacey and I used black construction paper as a background for the invitation. It isn't necessary, but adds a little something extra. Once you've done that, you can glue the invitations to the construction paper. I would recommend using a glue stick because it goes on smoother and doesn't leave any bubbles or lines. Here is what it would look like so far.

Next, we were going to add the bows. We used a glue gun. If you don't have one, super glue would probably work. We cut each of the ribbons 10 inches. Stacey was in charge of tying the bows and I glued them on.

Finally, all 30 invitations were finished. All we had left to do was fill out addresses on the envelopes. 

There! It is a lot of work and it will take some patience, but it is a lot of fun! If you have a night off, you could easily do it, especially if you have friends around to help. Plus, who would argue when you can save?
Stacey got the exact same template but made them cuter by adding a background and a bow. 

Good luck with your planning! I'll be sure to let you know how the shower goes in a couple of weeks.

Here Comes The Bridesmaids: Cute Ideas For Your Best Girls

The good thing about finally getting the move on with the wedding means you finally get to have some fun with your girls!
Finally, all 4 of my girls have their dresses. Audrey had to order her's late but it came in! And no, it isn't hot pink, short and ugly like in my nightmares.
Towards the end of October, I took Aly down to Houston so we could pick her dress up. She was the first of my girls that I actually got to see try the dress on. I absolutely love the color and I can see it dressing up real nicely. I played around with the idea of a rhinestone brooch when we first ordered the dresses, just to add a little something on the side. However, when Aly tried on her dress, I noticed the rack of bridal sashes. "Hmmmmmm?" I thought. I went over and grabbed one that was the closest color to the dress and made her tie it on. I absolutely love it! It adds the perfect touch, not to mention now there will be a cute bow in the back!


Stacey, my MOH, is completely done. All she needs to do is get her dress altered. She has a dark shade called 'Beyond the Sea' just because I really liked the idea of the MOH being a little different than the rest of the girls. She and I took a little day trip the other day to find her shoes. I told the girls that they can pick out their own shoes just as long as they're silver. Stacey found a really cute pair at Payless. 

We ended up going to several different stores to try and find her size but eventually just ended up ordering them online. I finally got to see her in her dress-- she pulled her hair back and put on her jewelry. These girls are going to look fantastic and I absolutely cannot wait. 

I found a couple of really cute things to do for the bridesmaids on Pinterest. I also have a really neat gift idea for them to have the night of the rehearsal dinner! But that one I will have to keep to myself until a later date. 

I really want to do this "Meet The Maids" idea. This could be a really fun way to introduce them rather than the boring way of just putting them in the program. 

You provide a picture that best fits their personality. Next, you make a little note on the side telling a little about them and how you first met. This can be sweet, silly or even both!

Next are a couple of cute ideas FROM the bridesmaids. Stacey is throwing me a bridal shower in January. I also got a bit excited and very curious when I found out my bachelorette party is going to be an entire weekend. Everyone knows of the famous 'penis cookies'. Aly and I actually saw cookie cutters for this which I thought was pretty darn funny. However, these cupcakes are really cute and a little less awkward if you are inviting anyone other than close friends.

There are also some really cute cookie ideas for just a bridal shower. I loved the idea of champagne glasses and engagement rings. 

Another cute snack item for really any occasion is this! It looks so pretty and simple! I will most likely be doing this the morning of along with a glass of champagne for the bridal suite!

I have to say, Pinterest is my latest addiction. Funny thing is, I should be working. 

Picking The Perfect Flowers

I never in a million years thought picking flowers could be so much work. There are so many little details! 
Last time I was home (as mentioned in my previous post) I got a little wedding crazy. Which I guess that makes sense being that little details add up over a month or so. 
Needless to say, I am very excited about the arrangements I chose. 

My neighbor since we've moved to Texas has been such a huge blessing, not to mention an amazing florist. Some people just have that eye for putting things together. Sandy is one of those people. You can give her the most strange and ugly looking flower and she could turn it into something beautiful. 
She picked me up from my house and we drove down to South Austin. The whole way there, we talked mostly about college life and big changes. Her oldest has just started her first year and is one of the many who has an awful roommate (been there, done that). I tried to give advice where I could but I was mostly just interested in her story. Sooner than I realized, we were at a place called Bill Doran. When we walked in, it turns out it was way bigger than I expected. They had several freezers of different flowers as well as isles and isles of ribbon, vases, and accessories. I thought I was amazed but when I looked over at Sandy, her whole persona changed and I could tell this was her heaven. She was quickly pulled out of her personal awe and transitioned right into the creative "let's get down to business" lady I know. 

She grabbed a shopping cart and went flying. I had trouble just keeping up! She whipped up and down the isles, in and out of the freezers and back again. I had visions of petals and branches flying everywhere as she would bundle flowers together to give me an idea. By the time we left the second freezer, our cart looked like a flower arrangement all on its own. Then, I saw it. There was one special freezer isle FULL of orchids. She saw my eyes light up and knew we had to go in. This was the first time I actually realized how expensive they were. $25 a stem, not a bundle, a stem! But they were just so pretty! She picked up a couple of the smaller ones and one big stem just to "play". 

We finally made our way to the last freezer which was a majority of tulips, calla lilies, and garden roses. I absolutely fell in love with their calla lilies, they were in full bloom and so gorgeous. Not to mention, more affordable than the orchids. We grabbed a couple of bundles of callas as well as several bundles of the white garden roses (which by the way, smell AMAZING). 
She spent a very reasonable price on the amount of flowers she purchased. This made me realize how much money I was saving by using a friend and a wholesale flower shop.

The entire way home, Sandy was hitting me with ideas. I was trying to picture everything she was explaining but in the end, knew that whatever she would do would be beautiful. She dropped me off at home and told me she would cut the stems and water them so that they are all in full bloom in a couple of days when we would be sitting down to figure out arrangements. 

And finally, Sunday rolled around. I was so excited to see what she could do. 
My mom and I drove over together and were both discussing what we had in mind. When we walked in, the flowers were everywhere! She pulled out 6 or 7 vases of different shapes and sizes and put them on the table. I really liked the tall skinny ones. She pulled out a Tanzania branch and talked about draping crystals over the branches so the light will catch the crystals and having that on both sides of the iron doors in the entry way. I absolutely loved this idea. 

Since I loved the idea of the Tanzania branch, she decided to play around with the small orchids and the hydrangeas as well. She tied the orchids on each branch and the placed Hydrangeas around the bottom for a final touch. I did think this was very pretty, it just didn't fit the theme I wanted to go with. 

Next we moved onto a Hydrangea bowl. She had 3 different shades of Hydrangeas; one was white, one was light blue, and one was a deep blue. She put them all into this bowl and up lighted them. This was one step closer to the center pieces I wanted but not quite there. (Please excuse the poor quality of the photos, I used my phone).

Next, she pulled out the orchids. Half way through, we realized we would need taller vases but it got the point across. She submerged the tallest orchid in water and up-lighted it. There were 3 gold candle holders and 3 small skinny vases holding the tinier orchids around it. This was a very beautiful center piece. The garden roses in the background weren't with the orchids, we just liked the smell of them!

Last but not least, we pulled out the calla lilies. They are so elegant and pretty. Sandy took the bundle of callas and wrapped a brown ribbon around the stem, then carefully placing pearl pins in the back. Before she put the calla lilies in the vase, she put a light underneath a bundle of dark blue hydrangeas. She placed 3 gold candle holders around the vase as well as 3 little vases holding one white garden rose, one white hydrangea, and one "Dr. Seuss Poof". I absolutely fell in love with this center piece. 

In this picture, it is hard to tell that is it up-lighted, but it gives you a general idea. After we decided on this center piece, she cleaned off the table and made a place setting that would look similar to what we will have at the wedding. It was perfect. 
Sandy then sat down with me and we went over numbers. I asked her how much it would cost to do calla lily bouquets thinking it would be similar to what a florist at the bridal shower told me (which her quote was $250 for bridesmaids and $350 for bridal). Sandy said it would cost $15 for bridesmaids and $25 for me! Our bouquets will be a bundle of calla lilies and white garden roses! I could not imagine spending almost $400 on a bouquet, that's almost as much as my dress! Her estimated total including all the centerpieces and flower arrangements for both the wedding and the reception would be $600-$700. Which is amazing being that a florist would charge you $1800 for a very limited amount of flowers. 

After the flowers, she pulled out a really cute sign! I am going to place it right before the seats at the wedding ceremony. It will say "Today two families become one, pick a seat not a side" 

When it comes time for you to plan your flower arrangements, don't let "professional" florists charge you an arm and a leg for stuff that really isn't as expensive as they say it is.