Weekend Recap – 21st Night of September

I may or may not still be recovering from the weekend! For nearing the end of September, the weather was toasty warm and full of sunshine – it was perfect for porch hangouts, two year old bday parties, a wedding and even a nap outside on the patio.  Yup, that was the flyover recap of the weekend, but the highlight was definitely K&J’s wedding on Saturday.

Funny enough, this was the first wedding we’ve been too in almost 2-years, the last wedding we went to was ours! So we were feeling a little rusty with the whole wedding guest game. K&J’s wedding also happened to be the 21st night of September – queue the Earth, Wind & Fire’s song September.  The ceremony was intimate as it took place in a wine cellar with friends and family gathered around. In addition the the intimate setting, the vows were personal and special to the couple with plenty of laughs for all to be had – it was the perfect mix of what makes up K&J.  The reception was full of dancing, laughs, pictures, catching up with coworkers and bonding with the bride and grooms family. It was a beautiful night for the newlyweds, not to mention the bride was simply stunning!
Weekend Recap - beelife(1)
Other highlights from the weekend included getting a Saturday workout in and enjoying a homemade breakfast afterwards on the patio with B as we enjoyed more of the beautiful weather and sunshine.  We did some housework, cleaned up the house and just enjoyed the day being home.  On Sunday we celebrated our nieces second birthday with her big party! The theme was minnie mouse and the weather was absolutely perfect for an outdoor party – the girls even got me into the bounce house for a bit. I also got a major nap in on Sunday after the birthday fun, we had a late night from the wedding so apparently I needed it.
Weekend Recap - beelife(2)
It’s hard to believe we’re in the last full week of September with one more weekend left.  Where did this month go? Not to mention, Monday was officially the first day of Fall – but the weather definitely doesn’t feel like fall just yet, so I am still clinging onto Summer!

What were your weekend highlights?

bee (1)

3 Unique Wedding Gifts to Give

Guess what! Wedding season is all year round – so if the Save the Dates are starting to fill up your fridge, here are a few ideas to stash away, or better yet – order ahead of time to give as the perfect shower or wedding gift this season.  Trust me, I’m not one to promote veering away from the wedding registry but after receiving a few of these ourselves I was shocked and taken aback by the thoughtfulness!
Unique Wedding Gifts - the bee life
Okay – let’s get to the good stuff!

  1. Custom Family Cross Stitch – We got this as a wedding gift, and I nearly cried when I opened it and saw our little family stitched into a beautiful frame.  Yes, it even included MOZ! which I think is what made me the most happy – upon further viewing behind my tears I noticed that the outfits B and I wore were the same from our engagement pictures! It was seriously one of the most thoughtful gifts and we have it hanging it a prominent spot to swoon over it.  Here is a similar one on Etsy. This could also be done as a custom painting or portrait of the couples new/first home or engagement picture! Better yet, if you’re crafty enough you could make this yourself!
  2. Monthly Wine Club Subscription – This could even be a food box service for a few months (while they’re adjusting to married life) or some other beverage/cocktail service that the couple can enjoy and experience together.  Giving them a few months free is a great way for the couple to get excited about something new and make a new married tradition.  Check out Winc, Clubbubbly or Home Chef.
  3. Honeymoon Help – A lot of registries, like Zola allow couples to add a Honeymoon Fund to their registry.  This is something to keep an eye out on! Another way to help a couple on their honeymoon is with a gift certificate to a restaurant for a dinner date on their honeymoon!  We greatly appreciated this as it helped us plan a special night out and around the rest of our trip. Does this couple love traveling? This 50 States Photo Map on Etsy is also another great gift and keepsake to help traveling couples document their travels!

The important thing when giving a gift is knowing the couple! And if you’re just not sure, but want to give something a little different talk to a closer family member or friend to gut check or figure out where they’re honeymooning.  Cheers to wedding season!

bee (1)

The Truth: Weddings & Registries

It’s that time of the year again, wedding season! And with every wedding season, comes the cycle of bridal showers, multiple registries to review, and the actual wedding gift…  As a bride-to-be this upcoming fall, and a guest to four-weddings before then, I feel your pain! But here are answers that will help ease some of those questions and help you conquer all your gifts with success this wedding season!
Weddings & Registries Guide - the bee life
The Gift. If you’re like me, you’re often conflicted with wanting to give the couple something unique and not on the registry.  But I’ve also heard from many past brides/friends say; “I just want the stuff off my registry!” I always thought buying off the registry was boring! But, news flash, it’s not about you or me!

Ultimately it comes down to knowing the bride/couple.  Will they like something specific and personalized if you stray from the registry? Or are they picky and have a specific style, so it’s best to just buy off the registry?  When in doubt, buy off the registry.

Money. Yes, it is tacky to talk about money, but it’s a topic many people struggle with, myself included! How much is enough? Especially if you’re attending four or more weddings in one year!  So I did a little research, and asked my friends and fellow brides-to-be. The consensus for a bridal shower gift was around $50. Although, there is an exception if you’re in the wedding party/close family friend.

Okay, so now how much for the wedding? The going response was basically covering the cost per person/per plate. As you can imagine, this could vary depending on the city, venue, type of food, but a low, but safe baseline is about $50 per person. So between you and your hot date, grand total/minimum of $100. But again, this all depends if you’re in the wedding party, family, or simply just a guest!

The Wedding. So back to that $100 for the wedding gift.  Do you just write a fat check? Or do you head back to that registry for more goodies?  Well consider this; a box of envelopes is much easier to transport after the wedding for whoever gets stuck with gift duty vs. 50+ different sized presents. Also, logistically as the guest, lugging around a gift during the ceremony and cocktail hour might not be the most enjoyable! The couple will most likely buy items they didn’t get off their registry (with a discount) with that cash anyways. So when it comes to the wedding, stick with cash/check.

Before I dived into all my registries, I jokingly talked about creating an online fund for our kitchen remodel! But I found something better, Zola Registry! Zola is a one stop shop for planning the big day, registering for your standard gifts from a number of known/unique brands, but also allowing couples to register for experiences, trips, and personalized cash funds for a kitchen remodel or honeymoon!

As a bride-to-be that has spent many hours searching for the perfect pieces, I’m learning a new found respect for gifting off registries and knowing when it’s okay to just gift with cash.

Happy Wedding Season!

Travel: Denver Recap – Part 3

The true reason for our long weekend trip to Denver was to celebrate B’s cousin’s wedding! The bride, Lauren is from the Denver area, and they recently moved there within the last 2-years, so most of B’s family had to travel in for the nuptials.

Wedding festivities kicked off with a welcome reception hosted at Tivoli Brewing Co. the outdoor patio space was the perfect spot for a warm night with gorgeous views of the city. This was the first time we got to see a lot of B’s family since arriving Thursday morning.  So it was good to see everyone and start celebrating Lauren and Jensen. The food and beverages were flowing and we easily helped shut the night down, being literally the last two to leave. *smiles*

Saturday, July 9 – the big day was finally here! We were taken to the ceremony location by commercial buses from the main hotel.  The setting for the ceremony was a beautiful, Grecian Parthenon found surrounded by trees in a park in the center of the urban setting, in Cheesman Park. It was a toasty afternoon and the sun was shining bright by the time the ceremony was supposed to start. The setting was beautiful and the decor elements were simple yet made a statement. Their officiant was a close family friend, which made the ceremony personal and unique to Lauren and Jensen’s relationship.  They also shared their own vows, with a blubbering groom. You could see how happy they both were.

The reception was at a venue called Mile High Station. It was an old warehouse/depot like place that was refurbished with a modern industrial feel. The introduction of the parents, bridal party, and newlyweds was a unique one – allowing the guests to get a birds-eye view of everything from the happy hour space above the main reception area. Dinner was family style BBQ, mac n’ cheese, beans, salad, and portabella mushrooms. Desserts were mini cheesecakes, a salted caramel brownie and an original strawberry flavor and a doughnut wall I resisted! Pretty soon the dancing commenced! B was showing off his dance moves, apparently his family hasn’t seen him dance much! Luckily he danced the night away with me!!

Lauren was a beautiful bride, there was so much love not only between Lauren and Jensen but all of their friends and family that supported and were involved in their special day. This was our last wedding of 2016 and it sure was a good one, it was a reminder that our planning is going to start kicking up soon, and it’ll be B and I on our big day before we know it! (crazy!!)

 

Wedding Plans – An Update

Now that it’s officially June – I figured I would start sharing and writing a little more about our wedding planning (or lack thereof).  If you remember, I wanted to wait awhile before we started planning since I feel like a lot of couples rush into it, and don’t actually enjoy being engaged or take advantage of it! (I might be taking a little too much advantage of it :])

Venue
Source: Style Me Pretty

So here is the thing I’ve learned with the tiny bit of “planning” aka research I’ve done so far… EVERYTHING IS SO MUCH MONEY.

Period, end of story, done.

But seriously, I truly can’t believe or fathom spending that kind of serious cash on ONE DAY. Granted it’s a day of celebration and the start of a new journey, but it’s just crazy to me, there are SO MANY OTHER THINGS, I would much rather spend that money on. Don’t even ask what, because the list will be endless. I don’t even want my parents to spend that much money on our wedding either – it’s crazy! Unless Donald Trump wants to pay for our wedding, it’s hard to reason it all.

Long story short, there has been no wedding planning, just a lot of chats to try and figure out what sort of direction we want to go in (small, large, or half-half).  We were set on one direction, but the more I started researching and vetting out options, the less interested I’ve become, mainly because it doesn’t seem like it’ll save any money, and would be more involved from planning. So I truly just don’t know what to do. B and I have a few more chats that need to happen, I am thinking an evening or afternoon with some continuous beers will help make some decision, and then of course sticking to it.

One of these days, I’ll actually have something solid to report back on. The only thing we have planned right now is our engagement pictures… so stay tuned for a first look at those in the next few weeks!

 

#CoakleyEverAfter – Part 2

Ready for Part 2?!

Katie was one of the most beautiful brides. Her dress was perfection and she was glowing. We made our way to the venue after everyone got ready at the hotel, the rain was starting to pick up on and off as we got to the venue, so came the decision of keeping the ceremony outside or setting up inside just in case. It was touch and go for awhile, and it got set-up inside just in case. About 15-minutes before the start of the ceremony, Katie decided to make it happen outside. The venue was beyond accommodating and made it happen, sprinting to clean off the wet chairs and getting everyone from inside to the outside location.  After all, her vision for the last year+ was having an outdoor wedding, and it was going to happen, rain or shine!

Katie and Travis wrote their own vows, which were very sweet and touching, in fact that was one of my favorite parts – it was truly personal and unique to them and their relationship. And the rain held off! Woo!!

From the ceremony we went and took pictures while the rest of the guests enjoyed a cocktail hour before the festivities got started around 7.  We were announced and quickly got into the speeches, Katie’s dad spoke, then the best man, and then myself. I was surprisingly so nervous, like shaking nervous! I think it was the setting, and I wanted everything to be perfect. I was told it sounded great! Phew.

After dinner, was the cake cutting, first dances, and then real dancing! It was such a fun night, and like I mentioned before completely surreal to see Katie and Travis married, yet so awesome because they’re completely meant to be. My family was at the wedding too, so it was great to hang out with them, and B once all my official duties were finished (although they never seemed to be, we had to get Katie ready with a new up-do after all the key moments).  There was also a photo-booth, which is always fun to take a few photos with everyone. Enjoy some of my favorite pictures from the night!

The night was just perfect mainly because it was Katie’s wedding. I can’t wait to see her professional photos from the day, not to mention her photographers were awesome. We helped shut the place down and clean up. By the time we got back to my parents it was probably 2AM. It was strange saying bye to Katie with no future plans in hand like we’ve had for the last few months, which I’ve truly enjoyed. But I know we will be seeing each other soon. Hopefully they’ve landed safely for their honeymoon!

Cheers to the bride + groom!

 

 

5 Unique Wedding Gifts

With wedding season quickly here, I wanted to share some unique gift ideas for the bride and groom.  If you’re like me and in the wedding party, you seem to bring gifts to every occasion you go to, so coming up with fresh, unique ideas without just buying off the registry can get hard after awhile. Wedding Gift Guide - the bee lifeAlso to clarify; these gifts could be for any of the many wedding festivities from the bridal shower, bachelorette/bachelor parties, rehearsal and day of the wedding.

Make Something. Find a local shop/studios were you can create and make you’re own ceramic pieces, whether it be from scratch or painting a pre-made piece. My future MIL, owns a studio (Studio Clay) where you can create plates, bowls, dishes, ornaments, figurines… you name it, out of clay.  Visiting a place like this, not only gives you a fun experience but also allows you to create an original piece for the couple.

Remember Memories. You may need to get a little creative for this one, but this will help the couple remember all their memories, especially as they start their journey as husband and wife. You can make the couple a custom jar (decoupage), a box, or basket with instructions for the couple to fill it with love notes or memories throughout the year. Then on New Year’s Day each year, instruct the couple to take turns and read them to each other reflecting over the year. This is low cost, genuine and something the couple can use year after year.

The Honeymoon. Think about the honeymoon, especially if your in the bridal party, buy some special necessities or gear for the bride and groom. Whether it be matching swim suits, sunglasses, or even a honeymoon survival kit with sunscreen, condoms (or not!), lingerie, lip balm… you name it. Or just focus on the bride, a cute carry-on, new make-up bag or even a fun purse she can rock.  Just think of things that they couple may not be thinking of, but want/need!

Pitch-In. If you know the couple is saving up for a house, or big home renovation, find some family and friends to help pitch-in on a fund for their future projects as they start their life together. When you tie a meaning to the money, it can add that much sentiment and use for the couple. To make it a little more personal, accompany the money with a gift or trinket, like a toaster (if the couple desperately wants a new kitchen).

Photo Gifts. Here is a little plug for Shutterfly, simply because I just love them.  They’ve expanded their offerings immensely, you can customize table runners, candles, ornaments, mugs, pillows, blankets… shall I go on?  Use pictures from the couples engagement session to help customize these pieces for a unique and special gift for the Mr. + Mrs. (Not to mention there are always a few good promos going on to take advantage of!)

I think it’s easy to get lazy and just buy the couple a gift card or something off the registry (guilty), especially when you have multiple weddings to attend in one year, but going the little extra step will not only create something memorable for the bride and groom, but will also remind them of the special time you took for them.

Cheers to Wedding Season!

DIY: Bridal Shower Decor

The fun thing for every party or event, at least in my opinion, is in the details! It’s the little things that make an impact and can really elevate the look and feel, every little thing, from the signage to the centerpieces to the activities and photos. You may remember a few of my inspiration ideas for Katie’s Bridal Shower from THIS POST, back in January… well now you get to see the spin I took on them and even how to make these yourself!

Photo-Booth Ribbon Wall

You will need…
1) About 5-6 different types of ribbon (different thickness, patterns, colors) and about 2-spools of each type (total of 12 spools; try and go when it’s on-sale or you have a coupon!)
2) Rope or cord long enough for 6-ft length (can vary based on your need)
3) Hot glue gun and glue sticks
4) Measuring Tape
5) Scissors

I cut my ribbon pretty much at the same length and did a little over 4-ft, again you can customize as you please but this may affect how much ribbon you buy.  I did a little over 4-ft to accommodate for a fold-over in the next step.  So, the purpose for my ribbon wall backdrop, was to simply serve as that, a back drop for a make-shift photo booth that the shower (not intended for full body picture taking!)

Once I had all of my ribbon cut I began to start a pattern of how the ribbons would be organized, I did a little mix-matching too because I wanted to make it look more organic.  I tied the ends of my rope, so that it would be even, and then I started gluing the ribbon by folding over the edges and gluing these tight.  I would suggest doing this on a surface you don’t mind getting sticky and hot glue residue everywhere.
CAUTION: You will burn your fingers, it might be smart to use a utensil of some sort to push down the folded ribbon, unless you don’t mind burning your fingers (like me).
CAUTION #2: Be careful where you put your hot glue gun down, and to not rest your hand on it and burn your pinky (like me).

So hopefully you can finish this with only minor or no burns, and have a beautiful backdrop for your special day!

A few other tips: knowing where you’re going to hang this banner ahead of time (and the color of the walls) may be helpful, as I mentioned in the post about Katie’s shower I had never been to the venue, so I was hoping and praying it would all workout. Luckily the venue didn’t mind tacking things to the wall (but other venues might not!) and the tacks were a bit tricky with the thickness of the rope.

Mimosas & Bride-to-Be Banners

So you can buy these on Etsy for $18-20 each or you could make these for a grand total of $6-8 each and a little bit of your time!

You will need…
1) Scrapbook paper sheets (you should be able to get 4-letters out of one 12×12 sheet – buy a few extra is you think you might mess up! I would also recommend the heavier card-stock pieces too, usually solid colors.
2) Roll of ribbon of your choice (at least a half-inch thick)
3) Paint/stencils or markers
4) Hole punch and scissors

I fold the scrapbook paper in half, and cut and then cut halves of the half’s, to get four squares.  For the mimosas banner, I used different patterned paper and for the Bride-to-Be banner I used a darker, burlap like color to mimic the inspiration I found on Pinterest, aka Etsy. You can then start lettering on the squares, again for these two banners I did a mix of markers and then paint with stencils to do a more rustic look. Once everything is dry, I use the hole punch to cut two holes at the top corners of each square and then I thread my ribbon through and cut appropriately for length. These both worked out perfectly for a little something extra at the shower!

IMG_1133IMG_1113A few other pieces that help top everything off where mason jar centerpieces with ribbon glued around the center, with baby’s breath and carnations filling the jars! Adding something fresh to the tables, definitely made an impact. I also had mini-chalk boards that were signs for a table with goodies and even for the photo-booth.

The cost to make these vs. buying them definitely saved money and I was able to create completely custom pieces that fit a theme to have everything match, while incorporating her bridal colors when and where I could.

Four Weddings.

The wedding season is officially over for 2014. We attended four beautiful weddings over the past seven months, each couple different and each wedding beautiful in its own way. The bride’s were gorgeous and the drinks were a plenty…And no, I am not going to judge these on, dress, venue, food, and overall experience… but I did think about it!

Wedding #1 – 5.23.14
The Bridal Party

Location: Silver Lakes Country Club, Stow, OH
Colors: Navy + Grey
Hashtag: #ChechakWedding
Standout: The Steak! YUM

Our first wedding for the season was our dear friends, and B and I were both lucky enough to be in the bridal party! The day was special, and a long time coming for these two high school sweethearts. The night was beautiful and we sent the couple away with a sparkler send off.

Wedding #2 – 8.30.14
Vermilion Getaway”

Location: The Rose Cafe, Lorain, OH
Colors: Navy + Seersucker
Hashtag: #IdTrappThat
Standout: Campbell’s Popcorn at the end of the night

Next on the tour was B’s coworker and now friend’s wedding. This may have taken place on one of the hottest days of the year, but we were excited for a little getaway in Vermilion, a cute little water town.  With views of the lake at the venue and a DJ crankin’ up the tunes, we helped shut down the reception.

Wedding #3 – 10.18.14
“A Hampel Wedding

Location: Woodcliff Hotel & Spa, Fairport, NY
Colors: Navy + Grey
Hashtag: #allyouneedisloveSC
Standout: Pumpkin Centerpieces + Homemade Chocolate Covered Apples

This was my cousins wedding… and my Hampel family weddings are always a crazy good time. And this wedding did not disappoint.  The ceremony was heartfelt and tear-jerking and the reception was full of drinks and dancing, it was an awesome time (not to mention my whole family was there and they are pretty fun!)… we definitely paid for it the next day.

Wedding #4 – 11.1.14
“East Side Wedding

Location: Nighttown, Cleveland, OH
Colors: Navy
Hastag: #TheyDidntHaveAHashtag *frown face*
Standout: Carmel Apple Cupcakes

My brother’s best friend from high school and also best man tied the knot this past weekend.  He was also a second brother to me growing up, and ironically we both moved out to Cleveland the same year for school.  This wedding was not your traditional wedding, but was effortlessly sweet with touches of fall throughout.  It was nice seeing old friends, plus my brother and sister-in-law for the weekend!

Wedding season is always a fun and busy time, but I am happy to have the 2014 wrapped-up, with the next wedding season already in sight.  My best friend since freshman year in high school got engaged last week and asked me to be her Maid of Honor this weekend! I am so excited and happy to be able to be by her side on such a special day, like we’ve both been for each other, for over a decade now. It will be a bit of a long distance, but that just means more weekend trips in to see her and help plan her big day!