The Invite Site You Need to Know About

bgd_basicinvite

In my experience, one of the most “real” moments of wedding planning came as I slipped the stamped wedding invitations into the post office mailbox. It was like all at once, our dream day – which had lived inside our brains and in wedding documents on my desktop – had morphed into an event of its own. An event that would go on friend’s kitchen calendars, and that a babysitter would be hired for … an event that was suddenly just a little bit out of my hands. It was a feeling of excitement, and maybe a bit of trepidation, too.

But mostly, it was the formal introduction to our “Big Day.”

Our invitations were much more than notification of the wedding date and time. They were the first glimpse into the whole look and feel of the day we were planning. And, not surprisingly, many of our other materials (like our guestbook, thank-you cards, ceremony programs and menus, for instance) carried through in the same theme. That’s why one of the most important things that I can stress is finding a vendor that can offer you consistent-looking products of all types. Trust me; it makes life easy!

Recently, I learned about BasicInvite.com, a site that lets you build your own color theme (this is genius!) and then use it to customize products exactly as you’d like. As in, choose-the-color-of-the-flowers-on-the-card specificity. Not only colors, either. You can also select your own script fonts, paper type, the list goes on.

We’re talking COMPLETE customization. Had I known this when I was spending hours DIY-ing my own invitation suite, I would have probably danced with joy. No, really.

I’m not sure that you need an excuse to head over to the site and check it out, but just in case you do, I’ll give you one: Free Printables. (Yeah, I knew that would work.)

A couple of designs that we love …

bgd_basicinvite_1

New + Noteworthy in “The D”

Otus Supply in Ferndale | Image courtesy of Eater Detroit

Happy 2017, ladies! I hope that the first few weeks of this year have brought you some post-holiday relaxation and recuperation. If you’ve been holed up with family and friends the past month, now is the perfect time to venture out and check out some of the city’s newest goings on.

Here, I’m rounding up a few highlights that remain top-of-mind to me:

  • For a bachelor / bachelorette party stop, we’re digging the vibe at Ferndale’s new Otus Supply at 345 E. Nine Mile Road {Open 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.}
  • I’ve dined at Campus Martius’ new Parc restaurant a few times since the holidays began. With the exception of a large-party snafu, the experiences have been good ones. The food is well done, the wine menu is plentiful and the atmosphere is tres chic. Brighten your next dreary Monday with happy hour here.
  • The much-hyped Bad Luck Bar is open and accessible via the alley behind Capitol Park’s “The Albert” building. Fancy {read: rare} cocktails start at $18 and seating is limited, but it’s worth checking out. Just call ahead for seating on a busy night.
  • Just next to Cobo, the under-construction Foundation Hotel – housed in the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters – seems to be coming along nicely. It’s due to open in 2017 and feature 100 guestrooms… perfectly sized for weddings, me thinks.
  • A stroll through Shinola this week has me thinking I need to add to my current watch case; and if money were no object, I’d drop a cool $2,000 on the palest pink Canfield with Diamonds option, which would make the most beautiful wedding day gift, IMHO.
  • Anthropologie’s wedding site, BHLDN, is one of my go-to shops for formal wear, even long after our wedding. I just ordered this insane steal of a lace skirt for an upcoming event at the DIA … only $50 {originally $230}.
  • I drool over the luxe arrangements dreamt up by Maison Farola Detroit florists – found at @Maisonfarola on Instagram – and you should, too. Someday soon I’m going to treat myself to a bouquet.
  • After a week of working the North American International Auto Show floor for press days, it took every last energy to get dressed up, slip back into heels {the horror!} and make it to Charity Preview, but we did it. It was an awesome evening. If you live in the Motor City, consider visiting Public Days to check out the gorgeous vehicles while they’re here.

Detroit’s Maison Farola La vie en Rose “signature box”

Best Wedding Reception Templates

Here in the Midwest, we’re getting our first real snowfall of the season, which means that I’ve been holed up in what is essentially a human snowglobe, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows in our condo … staring out into the blizzards of downtown Detroit. It’s beautiful, really.

I thought that now – as I’m curled under a blanket and slowly sipping on a second glass of wine – would be the perfect time to highlight some of my favorite wedding reception templates over on Etsy.

If you’re prepping for a wedding and haven’t considered the digital template approach yet, let me take a moment to share a few pros and cons in the process. (Spoiler Alert: Templates are awesome.)

  • SAVE MONEY: Having custom place cards and menus created for your wedding, whether by a calligrapher or a local print shop, can cost quite a bit of money. I found that with some savvy template purchases, I was able to sink far less money into my paper products so that I could focus on the purchases that were far more important to me (gorgeous florals and wedding party gifts).
  • THE LUXE LOOK: Just because you’re saving money, doesn’t mean that it should be obvious. These templates are designed to look high-end and chic (with designs that mimic gold foil and marble, for example), and once they’re customized by you at home, no one will be able to tell that they weren’t designed and printed at a fancy shop.
  • REUSABLE: Yep. You can reuse digital templates well after your wedding for dinner parties, baby showers (you read that right 😉 and more. Additionally, I’ve found that some of the inexpensive tools I purchased to make using templates easier have come in handy several times since my wedding. I use my “paper slicer” from Michael’s more than I’d care to admit…
  • NO CRAFTING SKILLS NEEDED: Skilled crafters need not apply! No, really. This doesn’t take creativity, folks. It simply takes a printer, some card stock from your local Michael’s or Staples, and a pair of scissors or a paper slicer. Is your bridesmaid or mother-in-law-to-be asking how they can help? Here’s your chance.

Now that we’ve covered what makes templates easy, let’s look at some of our favorites:

best-wedding-templates

LINKS (Top to Bottom): Gold Foil Style Place Cards | Marble Menu Template | Simple Black Border Place Card Template | Gold Foil Style Menu Template | Merlot Watercolor Place Card Template | Set of Gold Wedding Reception Printables

Have you used templates and printables as you prepare for your Big Day or surrounding events? If so, I’d love to hear from you!

Planning A Detroit Bachelorette Party

detroit-bachelorette

I might be bias, but Detroit is where it’s at right now. This blog targets brides that are living in or getting married in the Metro Detroit area, but I’d be amiss if I didn’t point out that one of the very best bachelorette ideas right now is a staycation.

Don’t you agree? For the bride or bridesmaids that live outside of the city and Uber in from time to time, this is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the best way possible.

I’ve been to what feels like a billion bachelorette parties, from the freaking Chateau Marmont in Hollywood to The Library Pub in Novi (you know exactly the spot that I’m talking about, don’t you?). So when it came time to rally my own troop for a night, er, day out, I just wanted to stick around town and soak up the energy.

Where to go when you’re bacheloretting in Detroit? Let me share a few of my own ideas…

WHERE TO STAY

  • CASINOS: I’m not a huge casino fan, but the rooms are far more fun than any existing Detroit hotel and there’s also plenty of drinks to be had at any time of day on the gaming floor. Hungry? Just head to a restaurant downstairs. Bonus: You don’t even need to request an Uber to hit the nearest bar. Consider MGM, MotorCity or Greektown casinos.
  • HOTELS: Go with the Westin Book-Cadillac if you can. Their restaurant Roast has an amazing happy hour, and the digs are pretty luxe. Otherwise, check out Aloft Detroit, which is within walking of distance of some nice spots (including Wright & Co. for small plates and craft cocktails in a very cool setting).
  • AIRBNB: For larger groups, go big and rent a lofty space downtown where everyone can stay and the party can begin. Make sure that you can get in ahead of time to decorate the space – ahem – appropriately.

WHERE TO START

  • IMMERSE SPA: Ommmm. My girls and I began at MGM’s Immerse Spa and it was nothing short of heavenly. We had all booked appointments around the same time and arrived early to nab spots by the indoor pool for loads of lounging before ordering lunch. The setting is gorgeous; and who doesn’t love a good rub-down?
  • BRUNCH: If you’re not hitting the spa, start the day with a solid brunch. If your crew is rowdy, head to Eastern Market’s Vivio’s (request a long table upstairs) for the city’s best Bloody Marys. If you’ve got a chill group, consider Dime Store or Bobcat Bonnie’s in Corktown.

WHERE TO DRINK

  • TASTINGS: Go big or go home, right? Get your party started by ordering up a round of flights for all the ladies. We like Detroit City Distillery in Eastern Market for a relaxed vibe, as well as Two James Distillery. The Royce just opened up in Grand Circus Park and is a lovely wine bar with an inexpensive corking fee that’s perfect for sharing a few bottles among a group.
  • CRAFT COCKTAILS: Sugar House in Corktown is a staple and it’s perfect for a small group of gals. Townhouse Detroit has a lovely bar and is also good for dinner (food isn’t phenomenal, but the atmosphere is stellar).

WHERE TO DINE

  • Nab the long (sometimes communal) table at standby Selden Standard for delicious and forward-thinking small plates; consider new fine-dining space Parc in Campus Martius; or for a more informal affair, try El Barzon near Mexican Village, a great hole-in-the-wall that offers both Mexican and Italian fare (this was where I opted to celebrate!)

WHAT TO DO

  • SHOP: No, really. Check out Shinola (Midtown) for leather goods, watches and bikes, City Bird (Midtown) for paper and home goods,  Kit and Ace (downtown) for clothing, and many other hidden gems in Eastern Market, along Woodward Corridor and in Midtown.
  • FOWLING: Have you tried it? A big ol’ group of girls might be a bit of a mess, in the funnest way possible, here. You’ll throw footballs at large wooden bowling pins in this indoor game, created by a local. The Fowling Warehouse gaming venue / bar is located in Hamtramck.
  • LOCAL SHOWS: Check out what’s happening at The Fox, The Fillmore, or any of the other smaller venues (Saint Andrews Hall or even Hopcat…)
  • OUTDOORS: In the summer, head over to Belle Isle for picnics, wading in the river and plenty of local events; consider renting kayaks for a tour of the river, too.

What have I left out? Let me know in the comments …

A Detroit Opera House Rooftop Wedding

When I saw the the photos of Greg and Kristin’s wedding by Amber Marie Photography, I had to share them with y’all. Not only did they marry on the Sky Deck rooftop of the fabled Detroit Opera House, they leveraged the venue for some stunning, traditional photo opportunities, before hosting a reception in one of the cooler, brick-wall spaces on an upper floor.

What I appreciate most about this special wedding is that the couple chose one of the city’s most iconic venues … but made it completely their own.

Take a look at a sampling of photos below, or see the full photo gallery here.

img_6870
img_6869
img_6868

Such a gorgeous backdrop! Love the ornate details of the Opera House.

img_6867

A fresh perspective on first photos, above.

img_6866

That skyline! Those views!

img_6865

img_6864

The brick walls and hanging twinkle lights … so good. Dress it up, or keep the lovely casual vibe.

img_6863

Thanks to Amber Marie Photography (visit Amber’s Facebook page and Instagram account here!) for allowing us to share snaps from this lovely day.

Interested in vendors? Here’s Greg and Kristin’s rundown:

detroit-opera-house-wedding

November Link Love

november-links

Get caught up on the latest in love, life and happiness with a few of my favorite (mostly local) links this month …

  1. Irma and Jas Wedding Photo Gallery | Kristen Taylor and Co.
    A beautiful blend of a traditional Indian and conventional American marriage ceremony, with some gorgeous Michigan Train Station shots in the mix {side note: those invitations though!}
  2. Tantalizing Taste Buds | Neighborhood SEEN
    Have you heard of Annabell’s Catering Co.? Get the full scoop on this Troy establishment – and the gooey baked goods above – in this profile piece.
  3. The Most Important Piece of the Intentional Living Puzzle | Cait Flanders
    Relationships, duh. This thoughtful blog post serves as a useful reminder on we can best nurture and deepen our most important relationships.
  4. Cristina and Cody’s Up North Engagement Session | Marek D.
    A perfectly seasonal shoot at Lumberman’s Monument in Oscoda; and can we talk about that dress? If you’re considering a wedding or engagement in northern Michigan, take a peek.
  5. Michigan Made in the Kitchen | HOUR Detroit
    A bevy of beautiful home goods made locally, which just happen to be perfect for a Michigan bride’s shower, or some early Christmas shopping …
  6. Romantic Riverwalk Marriage Proposal | CBS Detroit
    Don’t you just love a good, hidden camera? This couple’s engagement on the Detroit Riverwalk was caught on tape, and is now live, along with an interview.

{Finally} Creating Our Wedding Album

img_6799

It’s taken me six months, but I’m happy to report that our wedding album is complete, and enjoying its new home on the living room coffee table.

Shortly after I had received the digital image files from our awesome photographer, Alyssa over at Studio Phrene, I began researching websites that would let me create a high-quality album online, and on my own.

There are a handful of options – MyPublisher (which I used for our guest book and loved), Milk Books, Pik Perfect – but I kept coming back to a site called Zno for what I felt was the best looking product, offering the greatest value.

By crafting an album myself (versus paying our photographer to create one), the control-freak in me had free reign. Of course, I also spent WAY too much time debating and replacing images … but it was a project that I enjoyed, and the Zno site was actually quite simple to use in comparison to other publishing software I’ve dealt with.

For roughly $300, which is still a ton of money to pay for a – ahem – book, we received our final product less than two weeks after ordering it. And it turned out beautifully. I snapped some photos of the final result to give you an idea of the size, page thickness and paper quality that I selected, but there are plenty of options available for the other picky wives among us.

Most important to me was finding a company that offered large sizes (ours is a hefty 11″ x 14″), and lay-flat, extra thick pages. However, I’ve seen some gorgeous leather and suede covers, and even metal covers, that look equally impressive. All this is really the beauty of tackling an album yourself – ultimate freedom in terms of design.

Would you create a wedding album yourself? Or have you already? I’d love your feedback in the comments!

Note: This post is not sponsored and is completely based on my own opinion and shopping experience. 

img_6800

img_6801

img_6802

img_6803

Fall’s Best Bridal Accent Colors

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Wouldn’t you say? All of those sunny summer hues mellow into a palette of ripe golds, and the natural seasonal transition provides an entirely new opportunity to celebrate our surroundings.

For most brides, by the time that their wedding season actually rolls around, all of the planning – including color schemes – is largely complete. But we can’t help but try to convince you to further weave some of our favorite fall shades into your decor.

Whether you’ve selected traditional accent colors in warm browns, harvest oranges, cornflower blues, or rich eggplant hues, we encourage a complementary pop of one of the below colors, which will work magic in creating a perfectly seasonal balance.

  • Rich creams and off-whites 
  • Deep and texturized jewel tones
  • Icy and warm metallic accents

Here, a few examples of how you may easily add an accent color to your fall wedding:

fall_bridal_colors.jpg

Sources: Off White Mesh Pump | Blush Faux Fur Wrap | Jewel Tone Bouquet | Rose Decor Wedding Cake | Metallic Nails | Metallic Leaves | Gold Accented Wedding Cake

Looking for ways to add that pop without reworking the plan? Consider:

  • Additional decorative embellishments on your cake 
    {think graphic pops of pearlized or metallic fondant}
  • Small-scale tabletop elements 
    {think DIY metallic-painted leaves or gold glitter dipped votive holders}
  • Creative nail paint for the bride and bridesmaids
    {we love the mirror french manicure pictured above!}
  • A pop of color in the form of the groom and groomsmen’s socks
    {Go for bold argyle or plaid prints in the fall}
  • Wedding shoes with some serious kick
    {Have your soles custom painted or add color with clip-on embellishments}
  • Metallic faux tattoo jewelry and body accents
    {Think outside the box with matching bridal party rub-ons}
  • Add natural harvest hues to your floral with real fruits and veggies
    {Pomegranates, eggplant and heirloom corn add depth and fun}
  • A photo wall or backdrop shapes the look and feel of your entire space
    {Metallic balloons, a foliage-filled wall, chalkboard style…}

What other suggestions do you have? Leave your comments below!

Michigan-Made Bridal Shower Buys

MI shower
Whether you’re creating your own bridal shower registry (see my suggestions here!), or picking up a little something extra for the bride, we’ve rounded up our favorite made-in-Michigan wares for the happy couple.

From warm wool blankets to home state art, the makers of these fabulous finds hail from the west coast, east coast and even the U.P. And in our humble opinion, their adorable products are the perfect way to celebrate the newlyweds to be as well as the fine state they’re taking up residence in.

{Descriptions: Top left to bottom right}

Detroit Denim: DD Co. No. 1 Candle ($30)
Made in Detroit, exclusively for Detroit Denim Co., this 100% soy wax candle gives off a woodsy scent featuring undertones of coffee, tobacco, cedar and citrus.

Paper and Honey: Hand Lettered Art Print ($15)
This pretty print is ideal for framing whether your favorite couple is living here at home or remembering their home state from afar. The 8″ x 10″ print is made by a Brighton-based artist.

Corbe Company: Michigan Shaped Baking Dish ($80)
Bake, and serve in style with with these sweet porcelain dishes, crafted in Detroit’s Corktown. (7.5 × 12 × 1.5 in)

Lake Superior Woolen Company: Lap Blanket ($129)
Michigan’s cool fall weather won’t be a worry with this warm blanket, made of 100% virgin wool in Rudyard, Michigan. (48″ x 60″)

Mawby: Domaine Leelanau “Northport” Brut ($27)
Who doesn’t love bubbly? This pick, fresh from the Leelanau Peninsula is an aromatic sparkling wine with bright fruit flavors and just a dollop of Michigan maple syrup in the fermentation process.

Etsy’s Geometrikos Design: Marble Hexagon Coasters ($25 / set of 4)
Dark gray veining runs through these mod coasters, crafted in Grand Rapids, featuring a unique marbled look on every custom creation.

Revisions Design: Porcelain Light Bulb Candle Stick ($50)
From Marquette, these clever bulbs burn the candle at both ends. You can choose a gold or silver luster tip, and the bases are designed to hold a standard candle stick.

Shinola: Luggage Tag in Slate Blue ($75)
Made in Detroit of American pressed leather, this sweet luggage tag will come in handy for a honeymoon, featuring the high quality touches that Shinola is known for – hand-painted edges, secure snap closure, and stainless steel buckle.

Wedding Budget Hacks

Money Savings Image

I’m always looking for ways to save a few bucks when I’m shopping online (hello, promo code box!), and so it made considerable sense – and cents! – to keep a strategic eye open for discounts when it came to shopping wedding websites.

I’ve included some of my favorite tips below, which become more useful the further in advance you’re planning:

Before You Buy Anything Online…
Head on over to Ebates and create an account for yourself. I’ve saved more than $1,000 in the past 10 years by simply clicking through to the sites I shop on via Ebates. Just type the store you’re planning to shop at in the top search bar and then click the link within Ebates to earn a percentage back on your purchase. (Trust me; it’s too easy not to use!!)

Invitations and Paper Products
Fairly regularly, flash sites like Gilt City and Ruelala will host 50% off sales for online invitation sites like Wedding Paper Divas and Tiny Prints. Meaning, you can purchase a $100 e-gift card for $50, oftentimes paying $750 for $1,500 worth of product! Even considering the frequent sales these invitation sites offer, an even 50% is quite the steal.

Bridal Party Gifts and Goodies
I’m venturing into serious deal-seeker territory with this suggestion, because it creates a bit more complexity for the shopping experience. But, for shoppers who are looking to make big-dollar purchases, buying unused gift cards at Cardpool, which you can purchase at a discount. (Think 14% off Anthropologie gift cards for bridal party earrings or clutches; 7% off Nordstrom gift cards for your bridal makeup; and up to 20% off of restaurant gift cards for your rehearsal dinner costs!) Don’t forget to click through Ebates first for even more savings when using your gift cards.

Flowers and Favors
Did you know that you can buy floral packages for weddings and events through … drumroll … Costco?! Choose from a six-pack of centerpieces made with mini black Calla lilies and white roses, or a 16-pack of boutonnieres and corsages, all very reasonably priced and shipped directly to you. Of course, warehouse stores like Costco are also a great destination for fun favors in bulk. (Not a Costco member? Sam’s Club Wedding Flowers is also an option!)

Table Linens and Fabric
The coordinator who assisted us at our wedding venue suggested purchasing the black-and-white stripe table runners that I wanted to use given that renting them would likely cost the same, if not more. Crazy, right? Instead of dishing out several hundred dollars, I searched for wholesale options and picked up 25 runners (in the perfect, extra-long length) for a mere $75 using a promo code at CV Linens. Even better? I turned around and sold the 15 unstained runners after our wedding for a cool $50 on Craigslist – making my total table runner investment $25.

Share your favorite money-saving tips in the comments!