Q&A With New Orleans Florist

For as long as I can remember, my mother would tell me "you should be a floral designer." What a dream! I love flowers ...flowers of ALL kinds. I love making wreaths and arrangements. When I got married there were two very important things on my hierarchy list of I MUST HAVE THIS, probably higher up that my own gown: the stationery (of course) and the flowers!

The problem with my mother's suggestion that is my green thumb, well, it's not green. It's more of that olive green/brown where I get real excited about spring time visits to the nursery. I buy pretty coffee table books like The Cut Flower Garden, by Erin Benzakein, with sole intensions of having a cut flower garden one day (it's in my retirement plan).

As long as my sprinkler timer is set, we are good. If it's up to me to keep the pretty flowers thriving, well, let's just say I'm better at other things. Thankfully, there are New Orleans artisans like Sarah Perez Ekanger with Antigua Floral to rescue table-scapes and flourished scenes that make your eyes turn in to cartoon hearts.

I recently interviewed Sara and what a typical day looks like for this New Orleans floral designer! 

Kristen Soileau Photography

Kristen Soileau Photography


As a flower child at heart, it's only natural to be drawn to your floral design. Can you tell me more about how you begin work in your field? How long have you been in the floral design business? What's your background with floral design? 

Growing up my mother had a garden and we had so many plants and flowers around the house. Because of my mom, I fell in love plants!  When my husband and I moved to New Orleans as newly weds,  there was a flower shop around the corner from our place. At that flower shop, I learned so much much floral design and started freelancing around the city for about 4 years.  Fast forward to present day and Antigua Floral became a reality and is over a year old! Woo!


What does a typical day look like for Antigua Floral?  

It honestly depends on the day! Ha! From Monday -Tuesday its office life. Wed-Friday is going to the wholesaler, processing flowers and designing. Saturdays are meant for final touches and set ups. Then Sundays we sleep! 


What type of hosted event does your work primarily cater to? Moreover, what does Antigua Floral's ideal project look like? 

We do weddings, events and photoshoots, but primarily weddings. No matter what we do, we want people to walk into a space and smile when they see our florals. Flowers always makes a difference and I love making people smile! 


When you work, do you work alone, with company, to music? What's gives you motivation? 

We have a team of AMAZING  ladies! When we design, we range from listening to podcasts, listening to old school 90s rap and no matter what, we watch Ellen at 3pm. I feel most motivated when we see all of the florals and colors come together when designing. After all of the planning, it's an amazing feeling seeing all of the florals in person. 


Can you explain your process of design? ...whether for a client or personal use. How do you start?  

For a client, we hear what they are envisioning and we create a proposal for them based on that conversation including florals selection, colors and a description of each item. Once we have a set proposal and we are closer to their date, I will order the flowers and even go to the wholesaler myself to make sure we have a beautiful selection for their event. Then we will design and create floral arrangements based on the proposal making sure everything looks fresh and stunning! ( hope that I answered this one correctly!) 


Because we absolutely have to ask, what's your favorite floral?

Oh, it honestly changes almost every week! From Cafe Au Laits dahliahs, kiera garden roses to a classic white peony, they really do vary! Ha!


If you had to critique, what would you say the biggest eye sore in a floral arrangement? Is there a typical flower that's just considered a bad choice? Is there a design or arrangement concept that makes your nose cringe? Let's hear the do's and the dont's! 

I'm not too sure if there is a correct answer for this one. I would say that a "pet-peeve" would be when an arrangement looks tired. No matter the budget, you put your effort and creativity in each arrangements fulfilling your clients request. Flowers make people happy and every client should enjoy their arrangements. Also, I don't like baby's breath. :) 


What other creative areas do you spend your time on? Further, what other arts do you follow for personal or inspirational purposes? 

I really wish that I can say that I do other things! I do enjoy working out and I've been running lately. When I run, I feel like it clears up my mind and even get my best ideas after! True story! 

Kristen Soileau Photography

Kristen Soileau Photography

Katie Osgood Photography

Katie Osgood Photography


Sun + Life Photography

Sun + Life Photography

Sara's work has been featured on Borrowed and BlueExpertise,  Kate Osgood, Sun + Life, and 100 Layered Cake!

If you're in route to New Orleans to tie the knot, reach out to Sara and let her working hands do some magic for your big day!

Marriage Lessons from The Gaines

What I learned about myself after reading The Magnolia Story, by The Gaines ...and how surprised I was.

A few years ago, during my little one's nap time, I tried to listen to all of the veteran moms that barked the repetition: "you should nap when they nap." On a Wednesday afternoon, I attempted to rest as I flipped through the channels stumbling across the newly popular show, Fixer Upper. You know, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Jo Jo (my long lost half sister). I'm slightly embarrassed to admit, but I cried once I finished the episode. It was THAT beautiful. 

Now, I should state that I was newly pregnant with baby #2 at the time, so emotions (and maybe hormones), were heightened. But nonetheless, I was just overwhelmed with excitement that someone got me. Finally, someone understood the value of character and charm and how it alone could tell the best story. It was a show about how chasing the next big thing wasn't the answer, it was the it's always been right here that was so beautiful. 

Soon, the world would have the same epiphany as white washed shiplap became in high demand. The highly sought out Farm House look was Pinterest's most searched terms. I grew up in a house built in 1911. There were transoms above every door, large based boards and crown molding, and all the charm a house that old comes with. The show became a natural attraction for me.

I was anxious to read The Magnolia Story and dig deeper in their story. I was actually scared to read it. I'm an extremely ambitious person, almost to a fault. I jump high when I jump and often catch too much air. You see, there are constant battles I face daily. I often find myself constantly reaching forward before finishing what's in front of me.

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So I carved out some time over the course of a week to read the book ...that I finished in two days. It was honestly exhausting ...in all the wondrous ways. It was challenging, it was inspiring, it was eye opening.

I learned some interesting things about myself and how I may relate to the story plus three astonishing marriage revelations.

I AM MORE LIKE CHIP THAN JOANNA.

What now!? That's right. Anyone who knows me knows I have an eye for simplicity, for that sweet primitive farm house appeal. But after reading The Magnolia Story, I realized I am much more like Chip in so many ways. Joanna was the safety net and Chip was the risk taker and entrepreneur. When I was 18 years old, I saw this property that had plenty of road frontage. Young and full of ambition (and nothing to lose), I thought "I could subdivide this and make two pieces of land out of this one and double my investment." ...and that's exactly what I did. ...and I did it a few more times. By twenty, Michael and I were replicated this 1800s historic Acadian style home that we live in today ...with four extra feet gracing the hallways.

...but I'm still a Joanna, designer at heart.

Aside from the obvious delight in The Magnolia Story, there became a series of elemental lessons I learned through my reading that have cleared some fog that seemed to have acculumated itself on my heart's windows.


Choosing Humility. Throughout the book, you see an unleveling trust in a higher power. There's an unbreakable faith in The Lord as He moved disciples of His, through the graces and not-so-graceful moments of life. It's easy for individuals to long for the future and what it holds (guilty). Paul David Tripp writes in his book "Awe," [people] never really understood God's agenda between the already and the not yet, and because they didn't their faith didn't rescue, encourage, protect, comfort, or guide them. Tripp's book is a series of intense lessons of the value of what humility can do for your soul. Applied here though, it's the same lesson. The same exercise of portraying pure humility for yoru life, both the good, the graceful, the bad, and the learning experiences ...all to sum up in trusting your story. The already. And the not yet.

Grace in a Marriage. There's a certain level of unsafe territory when your spouse is an entrepreneur, twice the carry-on baggage if BOTH partners are entrepreneurs. You never know what the times will bring, you never know what the economy will present, and you never know when that wild card will lay itself on your table as your spouse brings home yet another great idea. What I love about the Gaines is their indestructible devotion towards their marriage. It's a very real representation of "in the good times and the bad." There's a graceful trust umbrella they hold together over their hearts and marriage. I found I admired that deeply as I realized my husband and I hold the same umbrella, holding it hand-in-hand together. I write this not long after my husband comes home with our third fixer upper of the year. There was one line in the book early on from Joanna that basically said "well, I married him, so I'm in it..." Something along those lines. That kind of grace really acts as a daily glue in a marriage, and I'm in it. Good times and bad.

Faith & Risk ...and the difference between the two. When you accept and follow the ministry of your heart, your life will present itself to you ...by Him. You are not promised or guaranteed greatness. You are not assured financial security or a worry-free career or a get-out-of-jail-free card. You are will be tested to jump off of what seems like an impossible cliff. You will hear His voice lead you towards doors to close and doors to open. You may hear that voice urging a career change, a leap of faith, a jump. You will be guided, at every moment ...but only if you listen. I learned the great difference between faith and risk after reading The Magnolia Story. Having faith means you are listening to Him as you are lead through life's journeys and roads, even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense on paper. Taking risks, un-calculated ones anyway, means you are listening to You as your lead yourself through your life's journeys and roads.


So go find a cozy corner spot and read The Magnolia Story. You won't regret it. It's just a heart-warming and inspirational story of a very relatable journey, whether you're an entrepreneur, mother, father, creative, non-creative, or in any walk in your life. 

...and if nothing else, it'll surely make you want to plant a garden and find an old 20's fixer upper to flip!

Summer Tea Cocktail Recipe

Summer is well before us, in all its glory. The locust sing their songs well in to the evening. There are swimsuits hanging to dry. The freezer is full of homemade popscicles and the days simply aren't long enough. 

I'm a natural born summer lover. With a May birthday, I'm a bit forced to love the summer. Now, May is technically spring, yes, but in Louisiana, we go straight from winter to summer around this time and I'm always itching for that first sweat first thing in the morning heat. Don't get me wrong, that heat becomes overbearing, but that's when you just need to find some water to dive in to.

There's no pressure during those summer months. Kids are out of school, vacations are in the works, usual bedtimes seem to be just a little later... My favorite part of summer are all the impromptu get-togethers that inevitably happen. Friends end up piling together as the little kids wear themselves chasing fireflies and the grown ups talk about the same ole' high school stories we always talk about. There are summer infused foods, lots of ice-cream (with way too many sprinkles), and beat-the-heat cocktails like this tasty one from Ashlyn Holmes of Shirley and Eadie, a blog about food, fiber arts, homemaking, gratefulness, and love.

Ashlyn is just the best thing on earth and on a mission to soak up the littlest simplest moments of our everyday and give thanks for them all. If you're not a follower of her blog or instagram, you should be! I reached out to Ashlyn for a sweet summer cocktail and as usual, she didn't disappoint. 


SUMMER TEA COCKTAIL

Serves 4

Ingredients
4 tsp. Piper and Leaf Sweet Dixie Tea (or your favorite summer loose leaf tea)
Fresh Mint
Vodka
Lemons
Agave


Directions

1. Place loose leaf tea in a pitcher or teapot and add 3 cups of water. Place in the fridge and allow to brew for at least six hours.

2. Place 2 to 3 mint leaves in the bottom of each glass a long with the juice of half a lemon and muddle.

3. Add an ounce of vodka to each glass.

4. Using a strainer, top each drink with tea leaving a bit of room in the glass for ice.

5. Add ½ tsp. of agave to each drink and stir.

6. Top with ice and serve.


THE little BLUE CHAIR - summer cocktail - Shirley & Eadie Featuring Piper and Leaf Tea Co.-1.JPG
THE little BLUE CHAIR - summer cocktail - Shirley & Eadie Featuring Piper and Leaf Tea Co.-6.JPG

Another fantastic reason why I love Ashlyn and all that she stands for: she knows all kinds of great things! ...like this company, Piper & Leaf. Local to Huntsville, Alabama, this tea artisan tea company has some amazing products, from subscriptions, to locally foraged tea blends, to wedding favors to ...YES, a traveling wedding tea bar service! Can you imagine how charming a tea bar at a wedding would be? I can't get enough of that thought.

Check out more about Piper & Leaf's wedding catering (and all of their lovely goods) HERE and check out Ashlyn's blog HERE and add them both to your arsenal of amazing things. 


THE little BLUE CHAIR - summer cocktail - Shirley & Eadie Featuring Piper and Leaf Tea Co.-2.JPG
 

A little bit more about Ashlyn. Ashlyn has curated the blog, Shirley and Eadie, named after both of my sweet and strong grandmothers. ...a space to share her love of fiber arts, good home cooking, and southern traditions which she is inspired by the two lovely ladies mentioned above. 

Ashlyn lives with her husband in their 1920s farmhouse and for that reason alone, I'm a big fan and follower. I'm a sucker for charming old homes.


Check her out on instagram (click here).

Handwritten Notes

Do whatever you think would be pretty! I like neutrals. 

That's what this bride of mine told me when it was time to plan her wedding stationery. Now granted, this bride is one of my best friends on the earth. Her and I go way back to first grade, where we did not like each other, but nonetheless our friendship has tested time and won. So here I am, bridesmaid/planner/friend/stationery designer. 

Amber and Shane. Shane and Amber. Shamber? No, let's not. These two though are the sweetest example of God's work in the series of waiting for THE ONE. I have never seen this woman smile as much as I have in these last few years. 

I was honored to host a fun holiday themed bridal shower with an Italian menu, since they were planning an Italian honeymoon. It rained. It POURED actually. I was so upset because I had my outdoor area decorated for the holidays, but we couldn't use the space. In turn though, it forced everyone to the porches and house in a beautiful way. The entire day quickly turned to intimate conversations, good food, and traditional southern hospitality. You can see more of that here. In exchange for helping inspire some planning aspects, maybe living vicariously through her, I got to see her wedding dress before all of the other bridesmaids. ...which was a terrible idea because I'm the WORST secret keeper. I told Amber I needed to see it for stationery inspiration, which was a slight fib on my part. I just wanted to see her dress. When I found out Shane was going to propose, I avoided Amber for months.

PS: sorry if you thought I was mad at you

photo by Collin Richie - Baton Rouge

When it was time to plan the wedding, she pretty much let me hold the reins, at least for her stationery. 

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THE little BLUE CHAIR - custom stationery _neutral colors_4.jpg

NEUTRALS + FLORALS + VINTAGE STAMPS
...always a winner. 

One of the things I really regret with my own weddings is not writing my own vows. Maybe it's in hindsight, because I know my husband would be full of giggles displaying his emotions up at the alter, but I still wish we would have written them for each other. However, what I do treasure are all of his handwritten notes over the years. I have a sticky note on my computer, the computer I'm typing from now, that says "hey! you are beautiful." 

I adore the moment before a wedding when a bride is reading a note from her groom. Tradition calls that you are not to see your bride or groom on the wedding day. But that note. It's like they're there, right there in your ear, whispering all the words you'd want to hear on such a day.

Handwritten notes are said to be falling in to the dying art category, but OH I disagree. There's a heightened revival of handwritten notes. I believe that this current generation is craving tradition, hoping for intimacy, and longing for the tactile keepsake to fill that hope chest of theirs. In a world of reproductions, quick response time, and energy spread so thin, it's barely seen, having a moment to stop time and read will pause your heart and mind. In this world and for this next generation, we need more and more of that.
 

photo by Collin Richie - Baton Rouge

photo by Collin Richie - Baton Rouge

Margaret Shepherd published the book "The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication." In her book, she exclaims that the handwritten note is NOT in fact a dying art, that it's alive more than ever. In her introduction, I love how she writes this simple explanation of the power of the handwritten note:


...it certainly is an art, because it brings out the best in both the person who creates it and the person who looks at it.
— The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication

Could anything be more true? I am that person that keeps EVERYTHING. I have paintings and drawings from my childhood (that my mom thought I should keep at my house) and have started to create a hefty collection of notes and drawings from my own kids. I have every note I've written my husband ...and every one he's left for me. I have notes my great-grandfather sent my great-grandmother. I have handwritten grocery lists from my grandparents. You just can't throw that away. That's gold. I don't see our children's children scrolling through old text messages of their ancestors, reminiscing about these days. Let's leave them something to hold. 

If my dear husband would have texted me the same message I have written on this sticky note, "hey! You are beautiful," I would have smiled, yes, and continued on my day. It's written down now. I see it every day. It's a constant reminder of his most honest and bare heart from the day he wrote that simple little note.

So maybe you're not the express your own vows at the alter type, but that doesn't stop you from getting your message to your loved ones. Leave a sticky note, leave a message in the front seat of your love's vehicle. Leave a written note of encouragement in your spouse's sock drawer. Leave special notes out for your kids. Write more. ..and write ALL the time. It's a practice and an art.  

I guess that's why I love stationery so much. It's sort of like a handwritten note to all of your loves ones that witnessed your big day. I have a boxes and boxes of notes, a boxes of evolving pictures from my little ones, and yes. I have a box of wedding invitations from friends and family. 

What's going to fill your hope chest?

Pure Vintage Rentals - a must have Louisiana wedding vendor

The south. The south brings with it a wedding scene like no other. From antebellum plantation homes to the second lines in New Orleans, it's always a magical existence when you are greeted and graced with the formal hospitality of a southern gathering such as a wedding. The wedding industry in South Louisiana is tailor made to style nothing short of a the perfect alluring garden soirée or the captivating panorama of the Mississippi River as it gracefully mantles the city of New Orleans. There are so many hidden gems.

Ashley Smith of Pure Vintage Rentals is one of those hidden gems. Not so hidden actually; featured on many national publications, such as Style Me Pretty, Once Wed, Ruffled Blog, Junebug Weddings, and Artfully Wed, to name a few.

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

PV Rentals has a timeless meets boho meets industrial aesthetic found through out their pieces and when mixed together, always create a beautiful mesh of an experience for her clients and their guests.

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Ashley has curated a jaw dropping collection of antiques, architectural pieces, accessories, and furnishings. She and her husband find her rentals traveling the gulf and east coast, from New Orleans to North Carolina. Her husband, being the handy man he is, has also built many of their pieces.

Ashley's ideal client has a keen understanding over the overall wedding vision, entrusting PV Rentals and their experience to execute the design. An intimate and organic backyard wedding, marked with candle light, floral infused table-scapes, and a cozy lounge area makes a good day for PV Rentals.

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans


Note from TLBC:

I've worked with PV Rentals both personally and commercially and Ashley is nothing short of remarkable. She has a fine eye for detail and has a homey, organic feel to everything her designer heart touches, and she's adorable.

You won't regret adding this gem to your wedding vendor list.

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Don't forget to look...

When you're my age, it's probable that you've witnessed a marriage ceremony or two, both as a guest or a bridesmaid. I was recently a bridesmaid in TWO weddings this past spring. It's been a very active wedding season for me. I will say though, these two weddings were probably my last to attend as a bridesmaid. I'm pretty sure most of my friends are married. My sister is still left, but no doubt she will elope. I found myself super emotional actually. I mean, I was married before I could legally drink. Fast forward almost a decade later, I have learned how much I've grown as a designer and person. I wondered what our wedding would have been like if we had met later in life and married closer to thirty rather than barely twenty. 

I digress. When it comes to attending a wedding, I think men and women have different perspectives. When I open up that pretty wedding stationery, I'm instantly giddy. I mean, who doesn't love a reason to dress up, a heartfelt ceremony, followed by a dance floor? ...well, not that part. I can't dance. Men. When my husband learns one of his weekends is booked up, he grumbles at the thought of putting on decent clothes and a pair of matching socks. I can physically feel his eyes roll as he lets out the most dramatic, award winning sigh. 

Inevitably though, as the wedding day comes and the excitement fills the air, you can't help but feel the love. A few years ago, Michael and I stood by two of our best friends as they tied the knot. As we stood up at the alter, him next to the groom and me next to the bride, we made eye contact. Like any true female, I was probably hoping for a wink or smile with a rush of emotion swept across his face as he looked in to my eyes thinking "this was us, I love you so much." Maybe even a teary eyed gleam. Nope. He did send an expression my way, but it was a goofy, crossed eyed silly face. No tears, that's for sure. Except the ones I was holding back with laughter. 

Men and women may look at weddings with a complete opposite perspective. At least my husband and I do, but emotions are unavoidable. Despite his silliness, Michael and I have never attended a wedding were our own emotions were not heightened with joy and nostalgia as we realize how much we've accomplished as a couple and how much we have grown in love, from two teenagers to newlyweds to parents. 

photo by The Picture People LA

photo by The Picture People LA

Look your loved one in the eyes, smile (or make a silly face). I mean, if you could shed a tear or two, that would be great too. More importantly though, that look must be shed far more often than across the crowd at your next wedding. 

That look, in its most sensible form, is paramount whether its across a dance floor or across the kitchen table. 

an old favorite from Quaint + Whim

an old favorite from Quaint + Whim

A few weeks ago, Michael and I sat down for dinner and we felt like we were on the outside looking in (with a possible reality show on our hands). The dog had sped through the front door covered in mud and took a slight curve to make sure she could use the couch for a sling shot of momentum out the back door. The kids were two steps behind her, the girl had no clothes on, except for some fairy wings, the boy right next to her, fleeing out the back door. Michael and I just gave each other this widen eyed glare like "what in the world" as we noticed the scattered trucks and baby dolls around the house. We both immediately smiled as we silently gave each other the "this is our life" look ...and we savored that moment. 

spring wedding season selfie

spring wedding season selfie

the previously mentioned wild ones

the previously mentioned wild ones

Those looks will change throughout the years. Marriage is a series of tidal waves, coming and going with ease and hardships. It's a balancing act of faith and patience, of grace and grit. Before you know it, you're hand in hand with your husband, wondering how 7+ years got here so quick; wondering how in the world people make it to 30 and 50 years. I can hear Michael saying "oh Lord, 50 years" right now. Trust me, if we've put up with each other's antics this long, we're in it for the long haul. 

I pray simply that I will always give and get the look ...be it a teary eyed gleam or a goofy laugh induced face. 

Dinner napkins, dollies, and southern women

Hosting at home is just something my family does. ...and it's usually to the nines. For a while, I didn't know the difference between napkins and dinner napkins. Paper plates, my grandmother would have a heart attack. You use glass plates. ...and a different type of glass plate depending on what you're serving. A few weeks ago, I was out and about and I get a frantic call from my mom, "are you going to town?" 

Side Note: I (along with everyone I've ever known) live in a small town near Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is just NOT that far away, maybe 15-20 minutes from our small town. So I always laugh when my mom asks "are you going to town?" like it's a huge day-long endeavor.  

She needed cream dollies, not stark white, not too beige, CREAM. I'm not sure if this is a southern thing, but dollies are the small, ornate mandala looking lace paper circles that you'd place under a plate of sweets. My mother and aunts are obsessed with them and it's become a family joke. 

My dear cousin will soon be wed this April and at the end of March, the family threw her a bridal shower to celebrate. My mother, grandmother, and aunts put their hosting genes together to host nothing short of a good ole southern brunch for the bride to be. 

I'm the girl with the sweets. If you have a cookie up at the register I can buy, you bes' believe I'm leaving with it. Open my purse, you'll find something with sugar to eat. My sweet mom had in her mind to have these hand painted cookies for the shower, no doubt something she saw on Pinterest in the middle of the night. So I tried my hand at them. Don't judge, they are so ...rough. But GOODNESS they tasted good.

My other cousin (we have lots of cousins) is the baker behind The Bakery Bar in New Orleans and when I asked her for a solid sugar cookie recipe, I knew she wouldn't disappoint. The fondant and watercolor tutorial was my own Pinterest find. You can check that out here.

Fondant with pretty flowers or not, the sugar cookie recipes is below, passed on with love.

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CLASSIC SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE

you will need:
-
8oz of butter (two sticks)
-8oz of sugar (about one cup)
-1 large egg
-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-12oz of flour (about two cups)
-1 teaspoon of baking powder

instructions:
Combine your butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a standing or hand-mixer. Once combined evenly, mix in the remaining ingredients. That's it, seriously. 

It's best to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until it is completely chilled, but once chilled, you can roll out the cookies, wrap the dough in a cylinder shape, or shaped in to round balls. The world is your oyster. 

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

For the cookies above, I shaped about 3 tablespoons of dough in a round ball, flatted out the ball with the bottom of a glass drinking cup, and baked for 10 minutes. I wanted the cookie and the fondant to be the same size for more of a biscuit affect, so I took a cookie cutter to the cookie after it was baked.

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I love encouraging at-home hosted parties, on the occasion of a bridal shower or as simple as a porch party. Our family loves a good porch party. ...you know, the ones that started as a simple visit, but then you end up on the porch well in to the night telling the same ole stories you've heard 1000 times! Those are the best. 

...and I always encourage cookies.

I still blush when he introduces me as "His Wife"

The wedding has passed. You are home from your honeymoon. You have hit the one year ...then somehow, the eight year anniversary. 


Years of marriage will surely unavoidably change you, as a person and as a couple. I remember saying to my high school self, "I will never NOT have mascara on in front of my future husband." I can hear my husband laughing now. Hilariously naive, right? High school sweet hearts and what feels like a century later, we are in bed by 8:00pm, no make up on this face, and kids begging for five more minutes. Five or six years ago, I couldn't tell you what we did in our pre-children days. I suppose we stayed up late. Maybe we went out ...or stayed in watching our shows and not Curious George reruns or Frozen (for the 100th time). 

On the contrary though, I recently told someone, in the midst of I'm sure a yawn, that I still feel like I'm in the honeymoon phase. It's certainly ...different. It's definitely not room service for a Mexican platter of snacks and mojitos. It's more like left over mac and cheese and recorded Nick Jr. shows. In many ways though, it's the same. I am loved in so many of the same ways, plus loads more. 

Everyone has their things, right? The little things you do for each other. My parents, I know if my marriage yields half the return theirs has, I'll consider mine a success. Every morning, my dad brings my mom coffee. I don't know that I've ever seen my mom fix herself coffee, in the morning anyway. They drink coffee ALL day. They'll make a fresh pot at 5:00pm before dinner. These things though, every couple has their own set of idiosyncrasies and mannerisms. I think these sentiments are what almost subconsciously keep the honeymoon phase present. 

Michael, bless his heart, doesn't get enough credit for how wonderful he is. I recently started to take note of our own mannerisms and things that haven't changed in our near eight years. ...and I hope they never do. 

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10 things that haven't changed since we've said "I do."

1) It's a rare car ride if my husband doesn't hold my hand.
2) As much as I hate it (but secretly love it), I am still serenaded with music in the morning ...but with replaced, goofy, sometimes inappropriate, made up lyrics.
3) I go by my middle name. Jessica is actually my first name, but no one calls me Jessica. ...except for Michael, who refers to me as Jess sometimes. I like it. 
4) When I'm home and the hubby is out of town, I can't sleep. Neither can he. We always end up texting "are you awake?" in the wee hours of the night, then start up a conversation. 
5) In a crowded room, if we make eye contact, I get a wink.
6) I know if my husband happens to read this post, he will probably feel like I'm displaying his man-card for grabs for being too mushy. He's a pretty sentimental guy, but no one would know it.
7) When I'm fixing dinner, I make sure he gets the plate the looks the best. 
8) He still dances with me ...even when I'm being stubborn and "too busy," he will force me until I put down the laundry and stop. It's really annoying and endearing. 
9) There is a pure trust we have in each other. I trust him when he's driving, he trusts me with child raising. We trust our plans and our faith. ...and I can always trust that he knows how to fix/assemble the random furniture or projects I bring home.
10) I still have this inner giggle, the butterflies I guess, when I hear him introduce me as his wife. I remember the first time I was introduced with such a title. I know my face turned red. Still to this day, there's a flutter inside when I hear his country voice say the word wife.

- - -

I don't think there's ONE secret key in a marriage. I don't think it's at all possible to avoid the change that will materialize over the years. Marriage is a tide of easy waves, then hard waves. It's a constant ebb and flow of happiness, hardships, challenges, adventure, excitement, and every emotion in the book. There are no promises it will be easy, but nothing worth it in life is, right? 

Now that I'm a big mess of tears as I write this, I'll go take this mascara off, because ...well I mean we've been married for a while. Mascara is for leaving the house. 

Make a list of ten things in your relationship that haven't changed. Safeguard that list and bring it to life. You may be surprised at how much hasn't changed (in a good way). I'd love to hear the silly little things you and your spouse do for each other!

PS: Thank you ThePicturePeopleLA for capturing these sweet moments.

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES | part four

PART FOUR: Mailing & Postage Requirements

One of the most overlooked expenses, not just within the wedding stationery, but the overall wedding planning budget, is postage! You will be mailing save the dates, wedding invitations (don’t forget the postage for the response card), and likely lots and lots of thank you notes. Stocking up and planning for postage is definitely something you’ll be doing very soon.

DID YOU KNOW POSTAGE RATES INCREASED IN 2017?

How Much Postage Will I Need?
Postage rates will vary and depend on a few factors: weight, size, and thickness.
-0-1 ounce | $0.49
-1-2 ounce | $0.70
-2-3 ounce | $0.91
-3-3.5 ounce | $1.21

Other than size, weight, and thickness, other factors may cause a surcharge or $0.21, like rigid or unevenness, perhaps a ribbon tied around the suite, a wax seal located on the outer envelope. The best thing to do before investing in all of the pretty stamps is to take a completed suite to your post office and get a professional postage quote.

STANDARD MAILING STAMPS:
You can purchase standard rate, face value postage from your local post office or on USPS.com. Face-value postage means that the postage you pay is the postage represented for that stamp. So if you need a $0.70 stamp, you are paying $0.70 for that stamp, face value, unlike custom and vintage stamps which are not face value.

CUSTOM STAMPS:
You’ve probably seen or received a wedding invitation that had a custom postage stamp with a cute wedding monogram with the bride and groom’s initials. These custom stamps do not come at face value. They are typically about 1.5-2 times the cost of a face value stamp. For instance, if you need a $0.70 stamp, you’re probably going to actually pay about $1.30 per stamp. This comes at a sticker shock for many brides, but when you do the math, it’s about another $60-70 for every hundred invitations. It’s a slight increase in your investment, but can really change the look of your presentation.

VINTAGE STAMPS:
The old phrase “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” holds true here. They just don’t make stamps like they used to and the recent frenzy with vintage stamps is one I am definitely on board for. Vintage stamps are collected and purchased through small businesses and shops and available in an array of really intricate and colorful designs. The same value holds true with a custom stamp, you are paying 1.5-2 times the actual value. Again, this can often detour couples away, but vintage stamps, a row of two or three or six can really create a beautiful added touch to your stationery. Although it’s in increase in your investment, it’s often one that’s worth the push.

Like I stated above, the best thing you can do when mailing off your wedding stationery is to have a completed sample quoted by a professional mail service vendor. If you have some extra time, have your stationer print a couple of extras with your own address to test how they deliver before mailing your entire batch.

BIG IMPORTANT TIP:
Make friends with the postman (or woman) and ask them to hand cancel your wedding stationery. Have you ever gotten mail with that black barcode line at the bottom of the invitation? No one wants that on their wedding invitation. I believe every calligrapher and stationer would die a little inside. Asking your post office to hand-cancel your envelopes will prevent your wedding invitations from becoming machine sorted (yay for no black lines). Hand-cancelling is literally taking that cute little round circle stamp and “canceling” or marking paid your postage stamps by hand. This is a much safer route as well, as many wedding envelopes are more delicate.

- - -

TLBC TIP:
A great way to get the vintage stamp look without spending too much on postage is to combine a face value forever stamp to cover the bulk of your postage, then have your remaining postage reflect in vintage stamps. Let's say your total postage cost is $0.70, use a $0.49 forever stamp and make up the $0.21 extra in two or three vintage stamps. This will give you that same vintage look and save you a few dollars. 

My favorite USPS Forever Stamp is the "Classics Forever," portraying images of different presidents that were once illustrated or engraved by different artists. Plus, they have that vintage look! These are great for response envelopes as well. 

BONUS VENDOR TIP:  
They certainly don't make stamps like the used to, so I gather different vintage stamps from an array of stamp collectors. If you want to grab some of your own vintage stamps, reach out to Virginia with Verde Studios on Etsy. She can curate a specific collection for you based on a design you're looking to create, a color scheme, etc. or you can buy small batches right off of her shop. 

- - -

Helpful guidance from the US Post Office found here

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES | part three

PART THREE: Envelope Addressing & Etiquette

Probably equally importantly as the stationery itself, you have your envelope addressing. Without this step, those pretty envelopes will go nowhere. Plan ahead if you wish for your envelopes addressed by hand by a calligrapher. Calligraphers often need several weeks, at least, to complete certain types of calligraphy, but more time is always better.

ADDRESSING ETIQUETTE:


CLOSE FAMILY & FRIENDS. Outer envelopes are always addressed with full names. Inner envelopes are addressed with familiar names and titles for close family members and good friends.

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Scott Landry Miss Carrie Faye Landry
INNER ENVELOPE
Uncle Michael and Aunt Norah Cousin Carrie

MARRIED COUPLES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN. If you know the children personally, you can address the inner envelope with first names only. Otherwise, you would use the children’s full names without titles. You generally would not include the children’s name on the outer envelope.

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. and Mrs. Tyler Lee Cliburn
INNER ENVELOPE
Mr. and Mrs. Cliburn Benjamin and Lisa

* If there are several siblings in the home, you can address the inner envelope to “The Misses Cliburn” (for two more more sisters) or ”The Messrs. Cliburn (for two or more brothers); or both

TEENAGERS IN THE HOME. Children aged 13+ should really receive individual invitations. If this isn’t possible, include them in their parents’ invitation with courtesy titles. Teenage girls are “Miss,” but the title “Mr.” is reserved for young men 18 years old and older.

COUPLES WHO LIVE TOGETHER. As long as you know that two people at the same address live together as a couple, you can address one invitation to both.

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. Colin Lane McGee Miss Cara Emily Holmes
INNER ENVELOPE
Mr. Colin and Mrs. Cara

AN INVITEE & GUEST. If you are using an inner envelope, do not include “and guest” on the outer envelope. If you use a single envelope, address as followed:

OUTER ENVELOPE (no inner envelope)
Mr. Matthew Dean Henson and guesT

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. Matthew Dean Henson
INNER ENVELOPE
Mr. Henson and Guest

- - -

PROFESSIONAL TITLES. Professional titles are written out in full on both the wedding wording and on the envelope addressing. “Doctor and Mrs. Tyler Grant Howard.” If both the husband and the wife both carry professional titles, you would address the envelope as followed: “The Doctors Kleinpeter” -or- “Doctors Timothy and Emily Kleinpeter.”

MILITARY TITLES. When the bride and/or groom or the parents of the bride or groom are members of the military services or serving active duty, their military titles are used. All military titles are spelled out and not abbreviated on the invitation, mailing addresses, or any other stationery. 

ABBREVIATIONS. You should not abbreviate "Doctor" as you would on other phrases (Mr., Mrs., Ms.). You can abbreviate Sr. and Jr. if wished. You should spell out any other words, like the state, road, street, etc.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IF I DON'T WANT TO INVITE CHILDREN?
If you wish to have an adults only ceremony and reception, you simply would not include the children's names on the inner envelope. 

WHAT IF I DO WANT TO INVITE CHILDREN?
If you wish to invite children to your ceremony and reception, you would include the children's name on the inner envelopes following the etiquette above. Teenage children living in the home should receive their own invitation. 

DO I INCLUDE THE LAST NAMES FOR CHILDREN?
For young children, you do not need to include the last name on the inner envelope.

HOW INFORMAL SHOULD THE INNER ENVELOPE BE?
The inner envelope should dictate the more casual version of the outer envelope; however, there are several acceptable options:

Let's say your outer envelope reads "Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dean Johnson," here are some inner envelope variations:
"Mr. and Mrs. Johnson" (formal)
"Mr. Michael and Mrs. Hope" (formal)
"Michael and Hope" (semi-formal)
"Uncle Mike and Aunt Hope (personable) 

Have a specific question? ASK AWAY:

- - -

Stay tuned for part three in this four part “Building Your Wedding Suite Series”
part three | postage & assembly

- - -

CATCH THE FIRST TWO POSTS FROM THIS SERIES:

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES: part two

PART TWO: Wedding Invitation Pieces & Parts

The Basics
The invitation is a key piece of the puzzle during your wedding planning. It essentially invites your nearest and dearest to witness the big day, it will let your guests know the expected attire and formality, as well as prepare remaining decisions like menu selections and guest invitees. Perhaps most importantly, the invitation becomes one of the first keepsake heirlooms from your wedding. In a world of digital revolutions, having the tactile keepsake to fill that hope chest is and should be treasured dearly. However it is that you invite your guests, the invitation should collect the following information:

-name of the bride and groom to marry
-date and time of the ceremony
-location of the ceremony
-reception details (unless the reception details are accommodated on a separate card)

What All Should I Include?
Any standard wedding invitation may clearly include the invitation and its corresponding envelope as well as a response card and its corresponding envelope. In addition to these two pieces, you may include a separate card for the reception info, a map, or an accommodations card.

WEDDING INVITATION
The Wedding Invitation will clearly represent the most important information. This is typically the largest and hierarchy of the pieces that will build your suite. The invitation will let the guests know who is hosting the wedding, who is getting married, and the details about the date, time, and venue.

RESPONSE CARD
Also known as RSVP or reply card, the response card gives you an opportunity to request specific information from your guests.

-Accept or Regrets
There is a range of ways you can ask whether or not your guest will be in attendance. A more formal version would be “happily accepts” or “regretfully declines.” You can use an alternative, more playful version like “be there with bells on” or “sending happy thoughts.”

-Specifically WHO is invited
Commonly found on a response card is the indication requesting how many total guests will be in attendance. The phrase “____ number of guests in attendance” may be used. For a more specific list, many couples opt for requesting a written list of each attendee. If you are having an adult-only wedding, requesting the written list may be a great option for you to prevent any misunderstandings. 

-Meal Choice
In the South, the more common buffet style wedding is what you will observe. However, in my experience with couples who are hosting a formal sit-down meal, you may want to include the meal choices on your response card. This means that you will have to have those selections finalized BEFORE sending out your invitations. It’s best to ask your guests on the response card to place initials by each guest’s selection rather than a simple tally mark or number. Meal selections are of course not necessary, but generally coincide with the formality of the wedding. You (or your wedding planner) should have those meal options set and noted before meeting with your stationer.

-Fun Details Requested
A less formal wedding may include some fun options on the response card, like a song request: “I promise to dance if you play _____________” or a “words of wisdom” section. If this becomes an option for you, have fun with it. You can make a keepsake book of all your responses!

RECEPTION CARD
A reception card is a separate card dedicated to the reception details that will follow the ceremony. Reception cards are used for both on and off-site receptions. A reception card may have details that provide the reception time and location: “reception to follow at Il Mercato). For off-site receptions, it’s typically not necessary that you include the city & state on the reception card, as it is never very far from the ceremony venue. For on-site receptions, there is often a cocktail hour in between the two. This is usually the time that the bride and groom are taking photos and will often provide a social activity before they are announced. This information may be included on the reception card: “join us for cocktails in the courtyard immediately following the ceremony dinner & dancing to follow at seven o’clock”

ACCOMMODATIONS & DETAILS CARD
An accommodations or details card may be used to list out any and all details regarding to the wedding festivities. This may include hotel accommodations, wedding website information, wedding weekend details, or post-wedding gatherings.

MAP CARDS
Map cards are used both subjectively and objectively as a general or specific reference to the location of either the ceremony venue or reception venue, or both. Map cards present a great illustrative contrast to wedding suites that generally display lots of text. In a world of digital revolutions, with Google Maps at our fingertips, map cards are a fun way to bring back a nostalgic impression for your guests to enjoy. They make great little art prints as well (pre-wedding wedding favor? ...maybe!).

ASSEMBLY DETAILS
How do I stuff all of this in an envelope? There are a number of things to consider when thinking about assembly. If you have several pieces that build your suite, you may want to house everything in an inner envelope or think about using some pretty ribbon or band to “house” it all together. Here are some common assembly options:

pocket envelopes:
A pocket envelope is a small folder of sorts with sleeves that house each card that build your suite. You may have your invitation mounted on the left side of the open “folder” with the left side housing the add-on pieces. This pocket envelope would then be placed in its outer envelope (the mailing envelope).

inner envelopes:
An inner serves two purposes. The inner envelope may house all of your pieces simply stacked on top of each other in its proper order as well as entail who is invited. The outer & inner envelope is a formal and traditional practice where the outer envelope would state the more formal “Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dean Johnson” guest name and address, with the inner stating “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, Miss Norah, Henry.” (see more about addressing in part three)

ribbons or bands:
Using ribbons or paper bands is also an excellent way to house all of your pieces together. Ribbons are a great way to add some color, texture, and mood to a more traditional piece. It’s a happy balance between the two and is my personal favorite. Embellish the ribbons with a wax seal and dried greenery and you have yourself a simple, but showcase-worthy piece.

- - -

Stay tuned for part three in this four part “Building Your Wedding Suite Series”
part three | envelope addressing & etiquette

- - -

DID YOU MISS THE FIRST POST? Catch up here.
 

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES: part one

PART ONE: Timelines, Budgets, and Printing Method

A wedding is, every time, a lovely expression of a couple’s story. Following the engagement is a series of tasks and to-dos that can pile quickly. Wedding Stationery, and all its moving parts, is one of the key factors during your wedding planning journey. Here are some things to consider when you are ready to tackle your wedding stationery:

IMG_5464.JPG

TIMELINE
Mentioned above, the wedding invitation is a key piece of the puzzle during your wedding planning. It will entail several essential factors for both you and your guests to discover. Before deciding which route you’d like to take with your stationery, a general rule of thumb timeline will be a good tool to abide by.

Save the Dates:
-mailed 6-9 months prior to the big day
-entail the couple getting married, wedding date, location of the wedding (city & state, venue if booked)

Wedding Invitations:
-mailed 8-12 weeks prior to the big day
-entail the couple getting married, wedding date & time, location of the ceremony, and details about reception, responses, and/or accommodations (more on series two)

BUDGET
There are lots of different sources that will give you an estimated budget you should allocate for stationery. Many budgets often exclude the afterthoughts wedding stationery can incur once you reach that planning mode. Here are some factors you will want to consider when planning your stationery budget:

The Nuts & Bolts
save the dates
printing method
envelope addressing or calligraphy for save the dates
postage for the save the dates
invitation suite
printing method
envelope addressing or calligraphy for wedding invitations
main postage for the wedding stationery (often higher than a typical letter)
response card postage
day-of stationery (rehearsal dinner invites, programs, menu cards, etc.)

Quantity & Guest List:
One of the first questions I ask my couples before issuing a proposal (different than the one the bride was issued) is “how many pieces will you need?,” and that is when I often receive back an “ummmm.” The general rule of thumb is to account for roughly 2/3 of your guest list. If you are inviting a total of 300 guests, you will probably need about 200 invitations.

Guest List:
You’ll want to start working on your guest list right away. If you are going to have your envelopes digitally printed, download this address template here. If you are going to have your envelopes hand-written by a calligrapher, it’s best to contact your calligrapher to ask what format you’d like your addresses. There is nothing worse than working so hard on that spreadsheet to find out the format is all wrong!

PRINTING METHOD:

flat printing

flat printing

letterpress printing

letterpress printing

Flat Printing
Flat printing is the simplest and most affordable route for printing. Your design can be printed from professional digital printers producing a highly desired look. Flat printing is great for cost reasons, but also yield certain mediums that are not achievable using other methods. Flat printing is great if you have any sort of graphics, like watercolor or various colors. Whereas letterpress printing prints opaque, solid colors and appeal best to more line art, sketch type of graphics.

Letterpress Printing & Foil Printing
Letterpress printing, contrasting from flat printing, is considered a high-end printing medium. Letterpress printing is more labor intensive and costly than flat printing, but appreciated for its tactile impression it leaves in its textured, thicker papers. Like Letterpress Printing, gold foil is also a high-end printing method, as its labor and set up is more intensive and costly. Gold foil can be mixed with letterpress printing and flat printing and comes in various colors (black, gold, rose gold, silver, white, and more).  

- - -

Should I Send Out Save the Dates?
Save the dates can be extremely helpful to those who have large wedding parties, wedding parties located in several different cities or states, or for the couple wanting to set the tone and formality of the wedding early on.

Save the Dates include the following information:
-the couple to marry (last names included)
-the wedding date
-the location of the wedding: if the venue has not been decided, you can include the city & state) -wedding website: wedding websites are often included on the save the dates to inform guest about the upcoming event (wedding websites are NOT included on the main invitation)

- - -

Stay tuned for part two in this four part “Building Your Wedding Suite Series”
part two | the wedding invitation basics

Holiday Hosting for a Christmas Bridal Shower

So my family ...we host. Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's the fine china and the place settings. It's the toast and the prayer. We are by no means "fancy" people, but hosting and gathering has been in our blood, whether it's a formal meal at the dining room that we are otherwise not allowed in or a simple back porch party. We host. We gather. 

THE little BLUE CHAIR_Noel Bridal Shower_19.jpg

I recently hosted a bridal shower at my home for my best friend. You know those friends of yours that you've had your whole life prior to now and know you'll have from here on out? ...she's one of those. So I wanted this day to be special. 

THE little BLUE CHAIR_Noel Bridal Shower_14.jpg
THE little BLUE CHAIR_Noel Bridal Shower_15.jpg

The shower fell out around the Christmas holidays so I was in overdrive making sure all the halls were decked. I wanted to incorporate an "Italian Greenery" theme, as the future Mr. and Mrs. will visit Italy for their honeymoon ...and because yes, greenery!

My holiday cheer started way before the holiday season began prepping for this fun day. The bride-to-be was surrounded by good food, good company, and good cheer. 

We topped off a good day with cheers to the bride.
Hit of the day: Spiced Apple Cider
(recipe below)

SPICED APPLE CIDER

Ingredients:
6-8 lemons
1/2 cup of honey
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
64 oz of apple cider
16 oz of caramel vodka

Step One:
Pour 64 ounces of apple cider and 16 ounces of caramel vodka into a large glass jar or container.

Step Two:
Add the juice of 6-8 lemons (to your liking).

Step Three:
In a small bowl, mix your 3 tablespoons of sugar with equal parts water until well blended. Then pour into your glass jar (a simple syrup or vanilla bean syrup would be a good substitute).

Step Four:
Add your honey and cinnamon (if you have local honey, even better).

Step Five:
STIR ...then stir some more. Use a strainer spoon or strainer funnel to get any clumps of honey or lemon seeds out.

ENJOY.
You can serve this hot or cold! Feel free to embellish it with a lemon wedge or apple slice! 


Wishing you all the holiday love and season. I hope you find some time to rest and read a book. I hope you indulge in some good food (or some cake) and bake so many different types of cookies.

...and ON to the New Year!


event photography |  Darian Kacey
rentals (porch farm table, love seat, candles, table runner) | Pure Vintage Rentals

Magnolia Flora + Gold | White Oak Plantation | styled shoot

Is there anything better than that first fall breeze of cooler air? It pulls in a cleanse of the new season's freshness and the upcoming months of warm-seeking colors in the air. This styled shoot by Southern Celebrations did nothing less.

With a mix of oatmeal, grey, burgundy, and touches of gold, you couldn't help put feel the upcoming crispness of autumn. 

Southern Celebrations Magazine hosted this inspiration shoot in early fall and I was honored to ride along as the shoot's stationer along with an array of amazingly talented wedding vendors (meet the team below). ...and a southern celebration it was. White Oak Plantation is one of South Louisiana's highest ranked venue locations for weddings and events. The day was filled with Louisiana magnolias & warm touches of gold.

Stationery should never stop at the wedding invitation. We all fell in love with the custom made vow books to inspire brides and grooms to keep that handwritten note alive. 

The reception's menu cards mimicked the aesthetics of the wedding stationery to inspire those to really create a cohesive experience for your guests. Letterpress printed in a muted burgundy ink on deckled edge paper, adorned in gold foil ..you are sure to leave a lasting impression. To continue on the visual experience, we had laser woodcut chair signs made for the Mr. and Mrs. and a gold mirror cake topper for what should simply be the BEST day ever.


SHOOT'S HOSTESS | Southern Celebrations Magazine
VENUE | White Oak Plantation

SHOOT'S PHOTOGRAPHER | Rachel Erin Photography
GOWN | Magnolia Mariée Bridal Boutique
HAIR & MAKEUP | Verde Beauty Studio
STATIONERY & ACCESSORIES | THE little BLUE CHAIR
CAKE & DESSERT | Baking on the Bayou
FLORAL DESIGN | Attention to Details Weddings & Events Flowers LLC
FURNITURE RENTALS | Distressed Rentals & Revival
LANTERNS | Truly Haute
MISC DESSERTS | Chef Schonberg's Sweet's
CUTLERY & PLATES | Event Rental Baton Rouge
STYLING | Mise En Place Events, Poppy Lane Events, LLC, Swoon Creative


Boho Bridal Shower DIY Garland Hanger

For the flowechild, the bridal shower, the photo backdrop (or home decor because this is definitely going in my house or studio), this DIY Garland Hanger has me smiling over its whimsy.


WHAT YOU WILL NEED

-floral of your choice (preserved or fresh)
-floral wire
-branch (this one is approximately three and a half feet long)
-twine of your choice
-clear or floral tape
 

STEP ONE

Sort Your Florals
For this hanger, I used three different florals per strand. On the middle one, I added a pop of color. You can use the same floral per strand or be creative and mix them up. Your preference.

Prep Your Wire Strands
Take your floral wire and twist the ends together like the photos below. You can make this as long or as short as you'd like depending on the amount of floral you have.

STEP TWO

TIE YOUR TWINE
Take the twine of your choice and tie the hanger. You can alter the length of your twine hanger by adding more or less length. Tie a secure knot on each end of your branch. 

SPACE OUT YOUR STRANDS
After you've twisted your wire strands out, space them out across your branch to your liking. Loop the wire strands around the branch like in the photo below.

START ADDING YOUR FLORAL
I used a combination of floral wire and tape to fasten my floral stems to the wire strands. Towards the top of the branch, I stuck to floral wire since it was the start of the strand and may show. As the strand got fuller as I continued down, it was easier to hide the floral wire and/or tape.

STEP THREE

TAKE A STEP BACK
Step back and evaluate the fullness of your garland strands. Make sure the colors are balances and the fullness is even. You may need to go back and add more floral stems to some of your strands.

I wanted the middle strand to pop with some color, so after I got my main greenery in place how I liked it, I added a blush floral to the center strand.

THAT'S A WRAP

Now you have this dreamy little wall-art piece for a feminine and bohemian photo backdrop! 
 


I would love to see your DIY Garland Hanger projects! Try it out and tag #thelittlebluechair so I can see your work! 
 

my (pre)pinterest wedding

I have to admit something that I'm kind of ashamed to admit. My best cousin and my best friend are both getting married next year and I'm secretly (or not so secretly) living vicariously through them. See, I was married before wedding blogs were as popular as they are now. I was married before Pinterest was invited. I was married before Anthropologie launched their wedding line, BHLDN (I'm still upset about that one). However, I couldn't be more thankful. 

My husband and I have been going to the same school together since kindergarten. I wasn't particularly fond of him. He was the class clown. Fast forward to circa 2009, we were married at the young age of 20. We were crazy, but all we knew is that marriage was our next step, no matter our age. 

On August 8th, we have hit seven years together, twelve years total, and have added two little ones to the mix. Looking back at some old wedding photos, I am so fond of the special little moments and experiences we had. You know why? Because they were OURS. 

We had no idea how to plan a wedding and to be honest, we really were not concerned with the aesthetic details. ...not like I would be today, that's for sure. Maybe that's why I'm living vicariously through others. Because I'll be the first to admit that if I was married today ...we just won't go there.

The most important thing to us was the experience. ...we wanted smiles and laughter, we wanted candid moments with our nearest and dearest, we to begin our marriage.

We inadvertently curated these memories and these moments that we simply could not replicate if we wanted to. Up at the alter, my super soon-to-be husband handed me this little gold chest. I had no idea he was going to give me this. He gave me this little "I'll explain later" look, so I simply smiled and held the gold chest during the ceremony. 

After the ceremony, he explained that these coins came from his mother's side of the family. There were thirteen coins. The custom of the giving originated in Spain and is usually associated with Hispanic culture. My husband's mother's family is from Mexico and still carry many of their culture's traditions. The coins were filled with symbolic meaning signifying the grooms willingness to support his bride. The bride's acceptance symbolized trust and confidence and unconditional love. The thirteen coins recognized Christ and His twelve apostles in recognition of the newfound marriage. I'll never forget the shaky voice as my husband of ten minutes explained where this came from after the ceremony.

There were heaps of moments like this that just kept popping up. There were certain smiles that were candidly caught on camera. There were certain moments I'll never forget. Maybe I'm just a little nostalgic since my anniversary just passed, but I'm so thankful for the simplicity that meaningful choices can make in a wedding. Because at the end of the day, it's all about the marriage that will follow. That's the real story. 

PS: 

When we were engaged, I was (at the time) in college for Business Management. It wasn't until the semester after we were married that I was an art major. Although I have always had my hands in creativity, I did not know the process of letterpress printing. I did not know what my personal style was. I was not a designer. My invitations were very traditional. Oh and I just thought they were the greatest thing ever, and they were beautiful for what they were. I simply cannot imagine designing my own wedding invitation if I were to marry today (to the same Beau of course).

Maybe I'll have to renew my vows one day to find out!

 
The Proper Etiquette to Invitation Wording

Your wedding invitation displays one of the most important messages, that you want to share your celebration with your nearest and dearest family and friends. It will tell your guests where you will marry and indicate the religious or nature of your ceremony, as well as the formality (or informally) of the big day. 

All wedding invitations should honor the tradition of serving the role in telling your guests the proper information, allow a timely response time to arrange for potential travel, and preface the proper attire for the nature of the ceremony. 

Stationers can supply an endless amount of paper options, text assortments, colors, etc. for you to select from. Only then will you move on to the next step: WHAT SHOULD IT SAY?

Invitations are customarily written in third-person, ranging from formal to informal, including wording for different situations. 

When the bride's parents issue the invitations:

Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wayne Henson
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Madeline Claire
to
Mr. Thomas Lee Anderson
Saturday, the sixth of August
two thousand sixteen
at a half past three o'clock
First Baptist Church
New Orleans, Louisiana

When the bride's parents issue the invitation & include the groom's parents:


Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wayne Henson
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Madeline Claire
to
Mr. Thomas Lee Anderson
son of

Mr. and Mrs. Steven Anthony Anderson
...

 

*The words "honour" and "favour" ("the favour of your reply is requested...) are traditionally written in the British style for a more formal invitation. The American spellings "honor" and "favor" are also accepted if the couple or parents prefer.


Modern day, it has become more customary that the couple issues the invitations. 

When the couple issues a formal invitation:

The honour of your presence
is requested at the marriage of
Madeline Claire Henson
to
Thomas Lee Anderson
...

- OR -

Madeline Claire Henson
and
Thomas Lee Anderson
request the honour of your presence
at their marriage...


 

In many weddings, the bride's families are both involved and may be listed on the invitation in "lump sum" with the couple:

Together with their families
the honor of your presence is requested
at the marriage of
Madeline Claire Henson
to
Thomas Lee Anderson
Saturday, the sixth of August
two thousand sixteen
...

 

 

There are many different situations that may cause a revision or alteration of any of the above wording formats. Perhaps the parents are divorced, but are still acting as co-hosts. Perhaps the bride or groom has a step-parent that is acting as a co-host in place of the bride or grooms natural parent. Here are some guidelines below for those types of situations to consider when working out the wedding invitation wording. 

DIVORCED PARENTS
If the divorced parents are co-hosting the wedding together, the formal wedding invitation would read both parent's full names (the mothers current name if remarried). The mother of the bride would appear first, following by the father.
Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Bates
and
Mr. Raymond Henson
...

STEPPARENTS
When the bride is been raised primarily by a parent and stepparent and the other natural parent is not co-hosting the wedding, the appropriate wording would be to include the formal name of the mother's new last name, but to use the full name of the bride if different than the mother's last name (if she decided to take the stepfathers last name).
Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Bates
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of her (or his) daughter
Madeline Claire Henson
...

MILITARY TITLES
When the bride and/or groom or the parents of the bride or groom are members of the military services or serving active duty, their military titles are used. All military titles are spelled out and not abbreviated on the invitation, mailing addresses, or any other stationery. 

ABBREVIATIONS
You should not abbreviate "Doctor" as you would on other phrases (Mr., Mrs., Ms.). You can abbreviate Sr. and Jr. if wished. You should spell out any other words, like the state, road, street, etc. 

DATE & TIME
Formally, the date is written out "the twenty-second of April." The full date of the wedding, including the year, is always included and the year is formally written out "two thousand sixteen."

RECEPTION INFORMATION
The invitation to the wedding may be combined with the invitation to the reception, or you may send a separate reception card. If you are hosting a reception afterwards, a RSVP card is traditionally included. 

 

 

MISTAKES TO AVOID
-Triple check the spelling of your invitation & have your venue confirm the address of the ceremony & reception
-Do not include any mentioning of gifts or registries on your invitation. 
-If you do not wish to include children, you do not have to invite them. However, you should never add "adults only" or "no children" on your wedding invitation. You simply do not include them on the addressing of the envelope. 
-If it's important that you have the dress attire on the invitation, you would simply state "black tie" on the reception card.

 

HOWEVER...

With ALL of that said, do not hesitate to think outside the box. You do not have to conform to tradition if a more off-beat whimsical design is more your suit. This is your big day, and at the end of it, you are inviting your nearest and dearest to celebrate along side you and your future spouse. ...your way.

Before your Save the Dates go out...

Wedding planning can be stressful. You often run in to a task that requires a handful of prerequisites. You can't book a venue until you have a wedding date. You can't pick out your florals until you know what color your bridesmaids dresses are. ...and you can't have your save the dates created until you tackle these five to-do's.

 

PICK A DATE AND LOCATION

 

This may seem obvious. They're not called "save the approximate time of year." They're called "save the dates." So you of course want that date on there, but it's also important to have the location of your wedding. This can either be the city or the venue itself. 

tip: Be mindful about sending save the dates before booking a venue. If your ideal venue is booked on the date you've already set, you may want to make alterations & would certainly want to do so before sending out save the dates. 

WEDDING WEBSITE

Wedding website are extremely beneficial through out the entire wedding planning. Introduce yours to your guests as early as possible. This will ensure that your guests always know where to find information about the big day, hosted events, registries, etc. 

tip: BUY A DOMAIN NAME. Most wedding website platforms allow you to create custom domain names in place of the computer generated one you will receive when signing up. You can purchase a domain for about $10/year and www.MichaelandHope.com looks infinitely more appealing than www.weddingblog.com/us/17382/michaelandhope, don't you think?

PHOTO SESSIONS

Save the dates come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. You may want to include a cute photo of you and your beau. So before tackling the save the dates, you'll want  to think about this question and if you're opting for a photo, reach out to your photographer and get those engagements scheduled!

TIMELINE

For an approximate year long engagement, I personally recommend sending out save the dates around 9 months prior. For shorter engagements, 5-6 months prior to the wedding is appropriate. Ask yourself the following questions to help gauge whether you should allow more or less heads up:

1) How many of my guests will be traveling from out of town?
2) How many of my guests will be making accommodations?
3) Does my wedding fall around the holidays where schedules are often busy?

If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, you may want to allow an extra month or so to ensure your guests have ample planning time. 

WORDING ETIQUETTE

Setting the stage with your save the dates is important when creating a cohesive aesthetic mood through out your wedding planning. Photo save the dates can be fun and whimsical for a more casual wedding ceremony and reception. If your big day is on the more traditional & formal side, you may want to stick to a more formal layout & wording structure. 

FORMAL:
Jessica Hope Couvillion and Michael Dean Johnson
are getting married on August 8th, 2016
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
formal invitation to follow


WHIMSICAL:
Michael & Hope are tying the knot!
08-08-16
in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
invitation to follow

There are 1000 in betweens. It's perfectly acceptable (and encouraged over here) to think outside the box. There's a definite right way to combine whimsy and romance. Setting the stage with your save the dates will give your guests a preview for what's to come. 

 
 
Floral Inspired Wedding Stationery

Meet Ali & Ryan. How cute are they? When Ali reached out for wedding stationery earlier this year and referenced her save the dates she created herself, I knew I already loved her. Ali's stationery style was floral inspired and nothing sang to my heart more than a fellow flowerchild. 

Photo taken my family member, Audra Ruane.

Photo taken my family member, Audra Ruane.

 
left | dresses from showmeyourmumu   center  | calligraphy by judith brown  right | cake by cypress grovers

left | dresses from showmeyourmumu   center  | calligraphy by judith brown  right | cake by cypress grovers

Ali's wedding will take place this fall in a small-town church, followed by an evening barn & farm reception.

Ali and her calligrapher friend/soon-to-be sister-in-law designed her DIY save the dates. They were printed on deckled seed paper & stemmed much of the inspiration for her wedding stationery. The calligraphy was done by Judith Browne. You can find this lovely handmade seed paper from the cutest little etsy shop, White Dragon Paper.

 

it was easy to find inspiration from Ali's inspiration. The combination of textures really compliment her handmade, rustic-meets-whimsical mood! 

IT'S TIME FOR AN ASSEMBLY PARTY

cotton paper
hand deckled edging
letterpress printing
watercolor
jute cord
preserved lavender

I cannot wait to see this remaining touches I know Ali will give to this big day of her and Ryan's. Only a few more months and this Ms. will be a Mrs.!

 

 
 
Organize your Wedding Planning in JUST THREE STEPS

So he got down on one knee and popped the heart warming, jaw dropping, tummy tumbling question. YOU'RE ENGAGED! ...and that requires a happy dance. Within the next 48 hours, you will have excitedly celebrated with those dear to you. 

Have you taken a ring selfie yet while pondering potential wedding hashtags? 

You begin to turn some of that excitement's energy in to productivity and begin actually planning the wedding, BUT WAIT, DON'T START YET! Follow this model below to ensure that the entire wedding planning journey is as blissful as the day you said YES! 

Breaking down the planning in to three simple steps will allow you to stay organized and scratch off your tasks in the right order while keeping a meaningful mindset to your decision making. 

STEP ONE: INSPIRATION
STEP TWO: SHORT TERM TASKS
STEP THREE: LONG TERM TASKS


STEP ONE: creating your wedding style & inspirations

Inspiration is constantly flooding our social media feeds. It's easy to become inspired, but equally easy to become influenced. Word of advice: Be meaningful & intentional. When using wedding blogs and Pinterest for inspiration, use intentional references for YOUR wedding day, not someone else's. 

Challenge: Try to pick six photos that represent you and your personal style, but only include TWO (three if you must) wedding related photos. Be VERY intentional about your photo selections. You must love everything in the photo, not just one little portion. Someone should be able to look at that photo and say "YES, that's so you."

Here's mine:

You can see from the combination of home & living photos that I love simplicity and organic textures. I'm a fan of whimsical greenery and flowers. I love paper & stationery and seem to be gearing towards a light and airy, but with a touch of warmth mood in regard to wedding style. 

You can tell much more than you think from your every day life. 

After you narrow down your style to six images, try to use three words to describe your personal style and keep those three words with you through out your decision making and wedding planning. They'll come in handy. 


STEP TWO: short term to-do's and tasks

There's a top five tasks list you'll want to tackle early in to the wedding planning. Keep those three words with you through out these to-do's.

Have a few tentative dates on hand before selecting your top five. Depending on availability, you may have some wiggling to do. 

1) Wedding Planner | First things first, hire a wedding planner if desired. Wedding planners are amazing and take SO much of the weight off of your shoulders.

2) Venue & Officiate | Selecting a venue is probably the most important decision in regard to how you want to represent your big day. Think about those three words of yours. Does your potential venue compliment those three words well? Maybe you've always imagined an outdoor wedding. Maybe you'd love an urban, rooftop wedding in the middle of the city. Are your three worlds clearly represented here? 

Once you book your venue, you'll want to find an officiate to marry you. 

3) Photographer and/or Videographer | A picture is worth 1000 words, right? ...and a wedding video even more. As soon as you confirm one of those tentative dates after booking your wedding planner & venue, tie the knot with your photographer. 

4) Band or DJ | By this point, you have a venue. You have a date. You have a photographer. Let's dance! ...to either a band or DJ. 

5) Catering | I hope you're hungry for some food tastings! Catering companies will generally take on one venue a day. So if you're set on a certain caterer, get them inked in! 


STEP THREE: long term planning

This is the step where EVERYthing else falls in to course. To keep things working in a smooth and graceful manner, make a list be separating your remaining engagement in to quadrants. 

For example, let's say you now have twelve months until the BIG DAY. Make a list for things do accomplish between 9-12 months out. Then another list from 6-9 month out, 3-6 months out, then a more detailed list of tasks to complete during those last 3 months. 

This way, NOTHING sneaks up on you and no time gets lost in this busy world of ours. 


Last but not least, (and probably most important), ENJOY THIS TIME. This is a magical segment of your life. It's the preface to your story as one and there will be no other time like this one. 

I will be sending you smiles at every dress fitting, food tasting, make-up test run, and of course on the big day! XOXO