Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Hour with AE: Dessert Cocktails

Consider serving dessert cocktails in lieu of a dessert spread at your next party or wedding.  There are endless DELICIOUS options out there!   They look adorable, will keep the party going (!!) and will cut down on the waste of desserts that tend to get overlooked since most people are usually on the dance floor by dessert time!   Here a few ideas and remember, presentation is important! 

Almond Joy
2oz Godiva chocolate liqueur
1/4oz Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
1/4oz Malibu coconut rum
1/4oz vanilla flavored vodka
1/4oz of half and half

Shake all the ingredients cold and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of cocoa powder. A decadent dessert cocktail, but delicious.  No need for cake!

Butter Cream
1 oz butterscotch schnapps
1 oz Bailey's® Irish cream
2 oz milk
1 oz crushed ice
Mix butterscotch shnapps with Bailey's irish cream then pour milk over the mixture. Add crushed ice.
Let it sit for just a minute to mix well.  This is a very rich drink and is cute in a shooter glass with a little straw.  A little bit goes a long way! 
Peppermint Creme
3/4 oz creme de menthe
3/4 oz white creme de cacao
3/4 oz Frangelico® hazelnut liqueur
3/4 oz Bailey's® Irish cream
1 oz milk
Pour the creme de menthe, white creme de cacao, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur and Bailey's irish cream into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well, and strain into your glass. Top with milk, to taste. Garnish with a mint sprig, add a straw, and serve.   Very cute in a mini-beer mug or milkshake cup.  Again, you can make this a mini - a little bit goes a long way! 



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Creative Guest Book Ideas

Guest books can be an extremely special heirloom from your wedding.  They can also be slightly impersonal and confusing (what do I do with this thing now that the wedding is over and why did everyone just sign their name??), but don't fear - here are some cool ideas for guest books that will be fun for your guests and fun for you to revisit after your BIG DAY.

One of our personal faves is the Wishing Tree.  This does take a little bit of work and you will need to coordinate with your florist, but it makes a great decorative statement at your reception and the wishes will be personal and touching (or humorous at the very least)!  Have your florist put together branches and find beautiful paper to have your guests write wishes on.  Etsy is a great resource for these.  We especially love these from Artful Beginnings. 
A really cool take on this is to have the wishing tree as your centerpiece on your tables.  The guest's place card can act as the wish card.   Simply have a smaller wishing tree placed on each table (2 birds, 1 stone)!

We also love a coffee table book as your guest book.  Find an interesting coffee table book that you and your fiance both like and have that displayed as the guest book at your wedding.  Your guests can flip through and find a page they like and sign directly on the page.  Every time you look at the pretty pics in the book, you will also read kind words from your guests.  Taschen has GREAT books that would work with just about any destination or theme. 

This same idea will work with children's books (we love The Veleveteen Rabbit and it can double as a reading at your ceremony) and cookbooks (try Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home - the fried chicken is AMAZING).   If you can find a vintage book, all the better!

This is a little harder to pull-off, but if you have a polaroid camera (you can still find them on ebay), it is very fun to have guests take polaroids and write a note on them or in your book.  Be careful though, if you don't have someone "man" your polaroid station, the pics do have a tendency to walk-off.  It is best if you have a pretty photo album right there to affix the picture in.  Guests can then sign their page with their picture. 

Photobooth companies are also doing their take on this idea.  The photobooth will print two copies and the guest keeps one and one immediately goes in your album which the guests accompany with a note.  Bonus, a lot of times they send a staff member to manage this for you.  

If you are hosting a destination wedding, a good guest book idea is to provide postcards for guests to write notes to you.   You can then stamp and mail those right back to yourself.  By the time you return from your honeymoon, you will have fun reminders of your wedding weekend.  This cuts down on having to lug a guestbook home while providing a sweet keepsake.  Tie them up with a pretty ribbon and read them when you like.  We love vintage postcards but any will work (after you have had them for 20 years, they will be vintage!).  Even better if you can include a charming mailbox at the reception for guests to drop them in!

Be creative!  The options are endless! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Friends of AE: Cheek By Lindsay

Thank you Lindsay from Cheek By Lindsay for being the first guest on our new blog series:  Friends of AE!!  Lindsay is an incredibly skilled makeup artist in Columbus and is bringing you two simple tips for party-perfect makeup.  We thought this could only be achieved by sitting in the makeup chair for a couple of hours (and as busy planners who has time for that??)  Lindsay breaks it down and brings us these easy-to-handle techniques.  Read on and ENJOY!

Party Perfect Makeup

There are two typical party looks- smoky eyes or bold lips.  Both can be perfect for a special night out or party.  The trick is to keep the focus on one feature on the face.  With both looks it is important to have defined brows (they help frame the face like a picture) be careful not to have drawn on brows, just defined. 
Smoky Eyes
Dramatic eye makeup can be rock ‘n’ roll or refined.  This is a great option for nights when you are tired and want to look fresh because the eye makeup will help distract from the bags or shadows under your eyes.  I love the look of a sheer gold shadow all over the lid (just to the natural crease) and heavy dark black eye liner.  Keep the eyeliner thicker toward the outer corner of the eye on the top and bottom lash lines and smudge it.  The last step is at least two coats of mascara, minimum!  I like Hypnose mascara in deep black by Lancôme.
Keep the rest of your look simple, perhaps a soft shine nude lipstick.

Bold Lips
This look is great when you want to look dressed up but not made up.  Pick your signature color, if you don’t have one here are some color suggestions:
·         Red is great for holiday parties, try MAC Viva Glam I
·         Coral is a bright option for spring and summer, check out Clinique colour surge butter shine lipstick in Ambrosia
·         Bright Pink is fun for a night out with the girls, try NARS pure matte lipstick in Carthage
Line the lips with a lip liner that is a more natural shade of the lipstick color you choose.  Be sure to use the side of the lip liner, not the tip for a smoother outline and then blend in the color.  Then fill in lips with your choice lipstick.
As with the smoky eye you want to keep the rest of your look clean.  A bold lip is paired well with a simply lined eye and of course, two coats of mascara!

Lindsay is available for personal consultations (we have one set up already!), party makeup and wedding makeup.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wedding Wednesday! Writing Your Own Vows

Writing your own vows is very very special, but unless you are a writer or a public orator, it can seem daunting to write and speak them.  Here are a few helpful tips to get you comfortable before the BIG DAY!

Start finding inspiration a few months prior to your wedding.  You can find inspiration ANYWHERE!  A friend's weddings, a favorite song, poetry, a children's book, your parent's vows, the list goes on and on.

Start with an outline.  This will be the hardest part, but once you have your thoughts organized, it will be easier to write the vows. 

Don't be afraid to ask a creative friend (best case scenario, creative copy-writer friend) to read through your vows and make suggestions. 

Once you have your vows written, be sure to start practicing them.  Reading them out loud to yourself in the mirror is the oldest trick in the book, but it works!  You can also practice reciting them to a trustworthy group of friends (like your bridesmaids, of course!)

Don't worry about memorizing them.  Transfer your vows to a pretty book and read from there.  Your officiant can keep your vows safe for you as you walk down the aisle. 

Do not share your vows with your spouse-to-be!  Save the words, emotion, and surprise for the BIG DAY!

It's OK to incorporate humor into your vows, but be careful not to get too carried away.  Your vows are after all the most serious moment of your BIG DAY.  Leave the slapstick to the speeches. 

Quick tip:  be sure to consult your officiant before deciding to write your own vows.  Some houses of worship don't allow it. 

Good luck!  You can do it! 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Hour with AE! Skinny Girl Margaritas

So, of course we love Bethenny (she makes us feel almost normal) but we have been skeptical of the Skinny Girl margarita.  How good could it possibly be?  We have had mixed cocktails in a jug before (hey - who hasn't been on a budget) and although the price is nice and the convenience is even nicer, we just can't stomach them like we used to.  College is long in the past!  All of this being said, we put Skinny Girl in that category, even though the packaging is adorable.

HOWEVER, we are drinking our words!  Tried this yummy little mix yesterday for Cinco De Mayo and were so pleasently surprised!  Not only is it made with all natural ingredients, it's also very refreshing and has a lovely little taste.  Not to sweet, not too strong and the tequila actually tastes like it is quite high-end. 

Good work, Bethenny, we highly recommend!  Now, if she could just package up Jason and Brynn Hoppy (alright, and Cookie) and sell them, too, she would really be sitting on a goldmine! 

Try it!  And enjoy!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Tipping Etiquette

We get a lot of questions regarding tipping etiquette and it can be tricky to decipher!  Here are a few guidelines and tips, as well as, a list of how much to tip whom. 

You are not obliged to tip

Tipping is meant to be an expression of appreciation for especially good service. That said, unless the servicewas terrible, would you walk away from a restaurant table without leaving one? The same applies to weddings and events.  It is customary to show your gratitude by tipping many of the people involved in making your special event a success.

Check Your Contracts

Many gratuities are built into the price quotes for major items like catering, transportation, etc. so it's not necessary to double-tip a full 15-20%, however, for the banquet captain or the onsite limo driver, it's a lovely gesture to give them a little extra.  It also ensures good will on their part. 

Reward Exceptional Service 

This goes beyond wedding and party etiquette, when someone does something special for you, be sure to reward them!  Beyond their customary tip, be sure to give your baker, florist, hair stylist something special if they have gone above and beyond their normal call of duty for you.   Anywhere between $50-$100 is sufficient, or if you have a personal relationship with the vendor, you can give them a personal a gift or a gift card to their favorite shop.

Ceremony Tipping

Find out if your congregation has donation guidelines.  Typically, if you are marrying in a church, you can expect your donation to range from $100-$500 depending on how active a member you are, the more active, the more you should probably give.  This can be given directly to the officiant.   If a justice of the peace, friend or other non-denominational person performs your ceremony, it is customary to tip them around $100.  Again, if you have a personal relationship with them, and ESPECIALLY, if they are not charging a fee for their services, it is customary to give them a gift around $250.  Just think, they have saved you officiant fees and made your day extra personal. 

Get your tips ready and put someone in charge of distributing them on your big day! 

This is something that your wedding planner will handle for you, however, if you don't have a wedding planner, be sure to put someone very trustworthy in charge of handling the day-of tipping.  Father's are a good option, or your Maid of Honor or Best Man.   The best way to handle this is to pre-write thank you notes and seal them in the envelope with the tip, clearly mark on the envelope the name of your vendor and their service so that the delegate can easily identify which envelope should be given to which vendor.  For example:   Daniel, Hair Stylist. 

We recommend handing out the envelopes at the beginning of your wedding, or as soon as the vendor has arrived.  The extra little something will ensure that they go above and beyond. 

Guidelines to Tipping: 
Bartenders*: 10 percent of the total liquor bill (to be split among them). 
Bathroom attendants: $1 to $2 per guest
Catering manager: $200+ or a personal gift
Chef*: $100+
Coat check attendants: $1 to $2 per guest
Hairstylist: 15 to 20 percent
Hotel chambermaids: $2 to $5 per room; $10 to $15 if you used a suite as your dressing room
Limo or bus drivers*: 15 percent
Maitre d’hotel or headwaiter: 1 to 3 percent of food and beverage fees
Makeup artist: 15 to 20 percent
Musicians: 15 percent of fee for ceremony musicians; $25 to $50 per musician for reception
DJ:  $50-$100
Photographer/videographer: $100
Valet or parking attendants*: $1 to $2 per car; 15 percent for valet parking
Waiters*: $20 and up each (distributed by the catering manager or maitre d’)
Cake Baker:  At your discretion, if they have gone above and beyond or given a great deal, be sure to thank them with a handwritten note, flowers, or even a thank-you gift card.  The promise of referrals is a great gift, too.
Wedding Dress Provider: same as above
Florist:  same as above, however, instead of flowers, give cupcakes from your baker! 

*If a 20% gratuity is included in the bill, it is not necessary to tip additionally.   The exception to this rule is your limo or transportation drivers.  Tip them regardless, they will be more likely to overlook that extra 1/2 hour or the spilled wine on the bus, resulting in savings for you in the long run. 

Lastly, there are a few cute ways to put together your thank you tip cards.  You can use leftover envelopes from your invitations or save the dates.  They will most likely have your monogram or names on the return flap and it ads an extra something. also has cute envelopes that are long and thin (perfect for bills) that can be purchased and used especially for your tip cards.  Or!  This is a great first-time to use your brand new monogrammed stationery. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring Soiree DIY Tips

We had the best time at our recent DIY Spring Soiree party with Rowe and Smocks (the cutest aprons EVER). 

We set up three sample tables:  A Mother's Day Brunch (bird theme!), A Birthday Party and a Baby Sprinkle. 

Here are pics from the event:
Mother's Day Brunch. 

Baby Sprinkle. 

More Mother's Day. 

More Mother's Day

Baby Sprinkle.  We love using mason jars for decor! 

Baby Sprinkle

Fruit in a vase always makes a colorful and neat centerpiece.  Birthday time!

Rowe has great birthday party favors, like this scented candle. 

We had tips hanging in the windows. 

Full shot of baby sprinkle.  You don't have to go over the top with baby items to make the decor feel soft, sweet and baby-like.  It can still be sophisticated!

Look at all of those adorable Smocks!   We bought 5 and already have 2 at home.  Love! Makes amazing gifts. 

More tips. 

Birthday Soiree!! 

Bakery Gingham cupcakes.  Beautiful to look at, even better to eat!

We like using fruit for placecard holders, too. 

Lastly, here are DIY tips to help you throw your next party: 

The most important elements of your at-home soiree are:  food, drink, ambiance and a welcoming environment for your guests. 
Pretty fruit in a clear vase makes an impactful centerpiece.
Candles add so much to ambiance, even for daytime parties.
Don’t try a new complicated recipe.  Stick with a dish you are comfortable with.
Choose one item to base your color scheme around.  Like a beautiful tablecloth or colorful vase.
If you are serving a sit-down meal for more than eight, it’s best to have placecards. 
A fully stocked bar is not necessary.  Know your crowd and offer three choices.  For example:  punch, sparkling rose and white wine. 
Iced tea and lemonade are always a charming addition to any day-time soiree.   Guests can spike these drinks at their leisure.  
Presentation is important, but spending a lot on décor is not. 
Wear a pretty apron to not spoil your pretty dress while making last minute preparations.   We love Smocks for aprons and Rowe for pretty dresses.   
Dress up for your party!  After all, you are the hostess with the mostess. 
Sending your guests away with a memento from your party is a beautiful addition.  However, if this addition requires you to cutback elsewhere (food or drink), it is ok to skip it. 
It is very important to have a conversation with every guest at your party.  Even if it’s brief.
As the host of the party, you must give a welcome toast. 
Don’t do it all alone!  It’s ok to ask a good friend for help.  But be sure to have a plan and specific tasks for her to help you with. 
Ribbons on champagne or wineglass stems are an inexpensive and eye-catching décor element. 
Almost anything that can hold water can be a vase.  We love pitchers, mason jars, and votive holders.
You will be too busy hosting to also be the photographer for the party.  Ask a guest to take on this role. 
Be sure to play music that fits the vibe of the party.  Make it soft enough so that people can easily speak over it. 
As a general rule, balloons should be reserved for children’s parties.