Friday, November 15, 2013

Ask Ady: Budget Convo Advice

Dear Ady,

My fiancĂ© has recently proposed and we are in the very early stages of planning our wedding.  Both sets of parents have previously alluded to contributing financially to the wedding, but since we have been engaged, neither has brought up the topic.  I know I need to establish my budget, but I have no idea what they are planning to give.  

I am feeling a little bit shy about asking for and discussing financial help for our big day, especially with my fiance's parents, and I was hoping you could give me some suggestions.  Do you have any recommendations on how to initially bring this topic up with our parents?  Is this a meeting that we have with both sets of parents together, or should we have separate conversations?  Thanks, Ady!  Any advice will help!

Meghan J., Columbus, Ohio

Dear Meghan, 

Ah yes, the dreaded budget conversation.  This topic is tricky on many levels, but especially tricky when you have to bring it up!   Your first step will be to do your due diligence and put together a budget for what you THINK your wedding will cost.  Make some initial venue calls and put down some preliminary numbers on paper.  Be thorough - don't forget little details like tuxedo rentals, save the dates, and transportation.  Smaller budget items tend to add up quickly.  

After you have established your preliminary budget, talk with your fiancĂ© about what the two of you can afford to contribute, IF you need to.  

At that point, it is best that you have individual conversations with your parents rather than a group conversation.  If you are uncomfortable about being included in the conversation with your fiance's parents, there may be a good reason for that.  You should each be prepared to speak to your parents privately and independently of each other.  

It is "tradition" that the bride's parents host the bulk of the wedding day activities, while the groom's parents host the rehearsal dinner and the "day-before" details.  It is important to ask your parents what their expectations are before launching into what you expect of them.  If the two expectations do not coincide, you will then need to have a deeper conversation about what you actually need.  

A few further bits of advice:  

Until you know how much you have to spend, refrain from making big planning decisions.  You don't want to blow a large chunk of your budget on a designer dress or super expensive venue if you can't actually afford it.  

Embrace your budget.  Whatever it is, is what it is.  You must work within it.  It does not make sense to go into debt to host a party more lavish than what you can comfortably pay for.  

Be grateful that your parent's are contributing to the costs, no matter how much that amount is.  Be sure to show them your gratitude.  

You can do it!  You aren't the first and won't be the last bride to find herself in this predicament.  It WILL work out!

xo, Ady 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: What to do with that big blank wall?

Dressing up a naked wall is a great way to add visual interest, intimacy, and cool decor to your space. 
Use a blank wall to exhibit personal photos!  Whether canvas prints or gorgeous frames, personal photos will create visual interest for your guests and bring a truly personal element to your wedding decor.

Blank walls are also a great area to display a cool guestbook or out-of-the-box seating chart.

 Consider create a photo moment!  Whether you have a back drop (or any actual booth!), put some props on display and let your friends and family go at it!  These pictures make a fun guest book or, just give you some really great candid memories :)

Tip:  Be sure to talk to your venue manager about their rules regarding affixing items to their walls.  You don't want to be surprised when they say nails are a "no-no."

Photos Courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings and Esty

Another idea… play home videos on your blank wall.  This can create a wonderful background ambience and you can make it a classic, timeless piece when family movies are projected in black and white.
Tip: Make sure the wall is either not placed in a major thoroughfare or be sure to project from high enough up that guests won't constantly be standing in the projector light.

Play around with lighting!  Ambiant lighting can easily fix a blah space and using a GoBo for walls or makes your monogram larger than life!
Tip:  Be sure to test the hues before making a final decision.  While pink lighting may sound like a great idea, when translated into a large space, it might be overkill.  

Photos Courtesy of Peak Styles, Rent My Wedding, The Bridal Detective, and Aves Photographic Design
Draping blank walls with fabric gives the most luxurious results (but it is also the most costly)!  Fabric can also be used to hide open ceilings that may not be the most attractive.

Tip:  Fabric does not work well when done sparsely.  If your budget doesn't allow you to drape the room appropriately, then opt for a less expensive decor option.  Lighting does wonders to transform a space. 

Photos Courtesy of The Knot and Pix 2 Brix

Friday, November 8, 2013

Happy Hour with AE: Spiked Cranberry Apple Cider

Surprise guests this Fall with a new twist on an old classic by adding cranberry juice to your hot apple cider.   The blend of apple and cranberry is sweet and tart and the addition of cranberry turns the cider a beautiful red color, making this a perfect beverage to carry through the fall and right into your holidays! 
Photo Courtesy of Betty Crocker

Serves 24

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp whole Allspice
4 sticks cinnamon 
1 bottle (48oz) apple cider (6 cups)
1 bottle (48oz) cranberry juice cocktail (6 cups)
4 sliced navel oranges
1 orange cut for garnish 
1 bottle Clear Creek Apple Brandy
(spiced rum or whiskey can be substituted) 

Mix all ingredients, expect the Apple Brandy, in your medium-large slow cooker.  Heat on low 4-6 hours.  With a slotted spoon, remove allspice, cinnamon and orange rinds before serving.  Add a shot of Apple Brandy to individual mugs, throw in an orange garnish, and fill with cider.  Voila!  

AE Tip:  This recipe freezes beautifully.  Double or Triple this recipe and make a nice big batch this fall.   Freeze in smaller individual containers and serve all throughout the season!  Note - any cider that has brandy already added, will not freeze well, so save the liquor for serving time!