“Cape May” is Here!

cape may novel

Valentine’s Day hasn’t even started yet, and I’m over the moon with the e-arrival of Cape May, by Chip Cheek, sent to me by NetGalley for review. You know how you’re not looking for the perfect book, but you wander into a honeypot of an online book club and completely lose your mind with all of the fabulous book suggestions? That happened. Ashley Spivey DM’d me an invitation to her Facebook book club, and I have been on a book-getting spree for the past week. Buying ’em, buying ’em on sale, so very gratefully getting some from NetGalley.

My love of reading is back. You might now that my mom passed away a few years ago, and after so much time selling her house, settling her estate and THEN blooming back into life (as much as you can with such a huge, huge loss,) I wasn’t able to stay with a book…until now. I tried. Couldn’t get hooked in, and now I’m a happily bookish girl. I’m happily STOPPING reading, for those books that just don’t bubble my bubbly. Don’t like it, don’t have to finish it.

Mom would love that the book I just received is Cape May. She loved going there, loved the quiet morning walks on the beach, all of our favorite restaurants, looking for dolphins. It kind of feels like she’s in on this book showing up today.

Now, I’ve read the description, and I know this is NOT a story about a mom who loves walking on the beach when it’s quiet. I hear this is a sexy story, with pulse-quickening passion, and I’m here for it.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all, and may this day bring you book scores of your dreams, a TBR pile for the gods, and some really great people with whom to book-chat. Thank you Ashley and NetGalley and thank you Celadon Books for this day’s joy.

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Something New! Ayesha Curry’s “The Seasoned Life” for Your Registry

Bridal shower guests LOVE giving cookbooks as gifts! You simply can’t lose with a buzzy, beautiful cookbook that captures a celebrity chef’s sparkle and skill and whichever kind of recipes you’re hungry for now — keto, GF, quick, comforting, southern, and so on.

Here’s my pick:

blog books ayesha curry seasoned life

How lovely is Ayesha Curry? She’s got that fun-girl energy, excellence in the kitchen, family-friendly dishes, and always a mix of inspiration. I set her TV show to record even if it’s going to be all reruns all day. Don’t care. Love it that much. Recipes to die for, intros to kitchen gear, family visits, al fresco dining, and those cutie kids. All of this great energy, sparkle and great taste comes through in “The Seasoned Life,” and here are my picks for some of the best dishes in this cookbook: Smoked Salmon Scramble. Seriously. Made easy, and finished with a mastery of garnishing that creates a wish to get better at the garnish. Delish, and a fab pick for any bridal brunch or the wedding morning breakfast. Love this one.

Her Making Dinner Happen is one of the warming chapter openings, inviting you into Ayesha’s kitchen with her family, and you just have a seat at the table, or giving her in-progress recipe a taste. “Dinner is also the meal that draws in the most memories” gets you in a reminiscing mood with Ayesha, and this is a great time to look back with gratitude on all of the family dinner memories you have with your inner circle. And White Chocolate Bread Pudding at the end of this book with the desserts (many of them impressively low in sweet stature) completes the equivalent of a great meal. Fabulous finds happen everywhere in this cookbook, on so many levels and in so many categories, with helpful charts and lists like the mix-ins salad chart that’s going to send you right to the crisper. This is a good one, sure to get lots of ooohs and ahhhs if you’re among the brides who open their bridal shower gifts in front of the shower guests. (Not everyone does. We didn’t. People lived. Cake was had.)

I’m excited to open the doors of my book reccs starting with Ayesha’s gorgeous book, for your wedding registry or for a self-bought treat to stave off wedding stress. Books can always rescue you, so I’ll share more of my favorite registry books coming up here!

Hey, as always, thanks for following me here on the blog, and on my social media spots. Many of you know that I’ve been dancing with grief the past few years, and no one tells you that it’s going to take a long time to not just get back to normalcy but to see some slivers of color in the clouds where new joys are coming through. I haven’t really enjoyed a book club novel for years, understandably. I’ve started a few, then put them down, picked them up, then put them down and fired up Netflix. I just couldn’t connect, just couldn’t be there. Then I chanced upon Ashley Spivey’s Book Club and a DM from Ashley led me to her bubbly, energetic, kind, and generous circle of readers. It was exactly what I needed. Exactly exactly. So I am re-reading those sputter-stop novels (Tea Girl?! Really?! I couldn’t get into Tea Girl?!) and jumping into the big names of now (Where the Crawdads Sing, etc.) with my love of reading — and reviewing and recommending — all shined up with a vibrance even my husband has noticed. I’m sure there’s some kind of article out there somewhere on how reading fulfills the soul, in part helping to add extra light to a relationship. Don’t need an article on that. It’s just true.

So if you’re hurting in your wedding planning season, or any other kind of straining season, grab a great novel, crack open a cookbook and some farm-fresh eggs, and just breathe in all that new energy. That’s what I’m going to be doing here on the blog for a while. I published by 38th wedding planning book, I’m turning 50 in about 3 months (!!!) and I’m navigating a post-grief life. Book titles are popping up in my mind, and I’m editing my next novel, so this is a coasting with sea air blowing my hair around after a loooong pedal up that hill.

Happy reading, and hugs to you and yours!

Ways to Honor Family and Friends at Your Wedding — Pt 1: Photos and Video


ellis island centerpiece

Today starts a new series on the blog — 100 Ways to Honor Your Family and Friends at Your Wedding. Yes, this is a freebie from my e-book, so enjoy!

First up is ideas for your photo and video display at your cocktail party or reception:

Family Photos and Video

  1. At your engagement party, set up a table filled with photos of your own courtship and engagement portraits – guests love to see those – and also display photos of your parents’, grandparents’ and siblings’ courtship and engagement photos, with a sign saying, “We come from a long history of love.”
  2. In addition to framed photos of your engagement and courtship photos, set up a digital photo frame to play a slideshow of those family photos.
  3. At your wedding, fill your family photos table with framed photos of your parents’, grandparents’ and siblings’ wedding portraits, and again set up that digital photo frame to play a slideshow of those gorgeous all-wedding pictures.
  4. Do a treasure hunt of those fabulous, old black-and-white wedding photos from your great-grandparents’ era. Ask relatives if they have any way-back wedding pictures in frames or in photo albums, and you’ll likely find some amazing treasures in the family. Take those photos, and – here’s the secret! – bring them to a professional photographer or qualified photo shop to have them digitally-restored. Marks and spots can be erased, the shade can be freshened to provide better contrast, details such as the lace of your great-grandmother’s dress will stand out. Your new and improved old-time photos go on display at your wedding, and – surprise! – you give copies of the new-and-improved photos to the relatives after the wedding.
  5. At your bridal shower, create a Lovely Ladies photo table with amazing pictures of you and your mom, grandmom, your sisters, favorite aunts, your mom with her sisters…it’s a table tribute for all the fabulous women in your life. You can also do a separate table of framed or digital photo frame slideshow images of you with your best female friends.
  6. On the family photo table, mix up framed family wedding photos with framed printouts of each relative’s wedding song lyrics or their vows. If the color scheme works, using parchment paper gives an elegant look for all the print display items, or choose a colored paper like blush blue or blush pink to coordinate with flowers that will be displayed on the table as well.
  7. Add to your family photos table framed quotes about family, love, and marriage. They might be the same quotes used in your parents’ wedding, or simply quotes that remind you of them. Visit www.quotegarden.com to get inspiration, or look for quote memes on Pinterest.
  8. Of course, if you have children, create a family photo table featuring great pictures of you with your kids, and just of the kids themselves. They might be your self-taken photos, or you might schedule a professional, styled photo shoot to take all-new family and kid photos. They might be the classic everyone-dressed-in-the-same-colors group shots on the beach, or they might be themed like a 1920s-era costumed photo shoot, even something fun and playful like all pictures at the zoo.
  9. Line an entryway wall with fun photos of your extended family, with a budget display method: suspending them at different heights from a hung rod via colorful ribbons. Be inclusive, though…line the opposite wall with photos of your friends and their spouses, or solo photos as the case may be. It’s best to ask permission from everyone, and have them submit photos they’d like shown, rather than grabbing pictures from everyone’s Facebook albums.
  10. Prior to the wedding, take photos of relatives, especially kids like your nieces, nephews or your own children, holding up DIY’d signs saying ‘Reception This Way,’ ‘Ceremony This Way,’ or ‘Welcome to the Wedding’ and then enlarge and display these photos as a great twist on the classic wedding signs that direct guests to the different locations for your celebration. Having the little ones in those photos is an adorable way to give them a spotlight in what would otherwise be just another wedding décor item.
  11. This one is more for the engagement party or for the rehearsal dinner. Send out an email asking all of your relatives to respond with the story of how they met their spouse, and send you a photo of themselves. You can then scan these to make an inexpensive photo book at Shutterfly or other budget-friendly site, and put it on display at your family-attended party…with your ‘how we met’ story right up front.
  12. I love this idea I saw on Pinterest: as aisle or pew décor, hang up pretty, 4” x 4” framed photos of your relatives, not as seating chart markers but just as pretty and personalized family-centric ceremony décor. If you wish, make them all black and white to suit your all-white floral scheme and black-and-white aisle runner, or use colorful photos in all matching frames tied on with a wide ribbon and bow.
  13. Use that digital photo frame to show family photos at the rehearsal dinner; showcasing photos of the family and best friends at this VIP event is a great tribute to them…way better than showing just photos of yourselves.
  14. Guests who cannot attend the wedding due to distance, illness, pregnancy, deployment or other situations can tape and send video greetings to you, and you can play them during the rehearsal dinner. Skyping one close relative might be an option, but keep it as a plan for just one or two close relatives. If you have a dozen, your party gets taken over by a lot of on-computer time.
  15. I love this idea! If your ancestors arrived in this country via Ellis Island, go to www.ellisisland.org to run a search on your ancestors by last name. You may find amazing views of their signatures on the arrival records or ship list, as well as a photo of the ship on which they arrived. These too can go on display on your family photo table, or as a fabulous display of its own at the cocktail party.
  16. Within family keepsake treasures, you might find your great-grandmother’s journal with an entry about her upcoming wedding, or her sweet feelings for her suitor. With family permission, you might scan and enlarge these priceless hand-written entries and display them in your entrance hallway, above the guest book, and or even at the bridal shower. It’s easy and inexpensive to take written family heirlooms, scan and process them and put them on display for your wedding celebration.
  17. Instead of a book of ‘how they met’ stories with photos, consider putting together a photo book that pairs family wedding portraits with copies of their wedding vows. It could be a scan of their original, hand-written vow notes, or you might type them up in pretty font and in a coordinated layout style for a sentimental keepsake that can be built upon in the future by other relatives and maybe your own children someday.

Freebie! Ways to Honor Family and Friends at Your Wedding — Part 4: Celebration Moments

Photo courtesy of Westminster Hotel Weddings

Photo courtesy of Westminster Hotel Weddings

We continue with freebie tips from my ebook on honoring your family and friends at your wedding. Today is all about celebration Moments:

Celebration Moments

  1. Serve some of the same menu elements that were served at your parents’ or grandparents’ weddings.
  2. Serve the same vintage of champagne that was served at your family members’ weddings.
  3. Serve family favorite recipes within your engagement party or rehearsal dinner menu, or perhaps as choices in your cocktail party or reception dinner.
  4. Include in your dessert hour the same type of dessert that was served at your parents’ wedding, such as the now-hot retro bananas flambé.
  5. Create signature cocktails, and name them after your relatives, such as ‘Stephanie’s Strawberry Margarita’ or ‘Maria’s Chocolate Martini.’
  6. At the start of your reception, perhaps even in place of your first dance, propose a toast to your parents, grandparents, relatives and guests. You can also make this toast right before you cut your cake if you don’t want to miss out on the first dance magic.
  7. Dedicate a song to your parents during the reception’s dancing hours.
  8. After your spotlight dances, surprise all sets of parents by having them dance to a song you’ve chosen for all of them (too many individual dances makes this opening to the reception drag a bit, so keep it shorter with the one song, or even a partial song that other guests are then invited to dance to.)
  9. Musically talented relatives can perform a song during your reception, perhaps during the dinner hour.
  10. If there’s a song that’s special to you and your siblings, request a song dedication to them as well. Or, request a song that all of your siblings on both sides of the family can dance to.
  11. The last song of the evening can be dedicated to your families…each and every member of them.

Why Stop Taking Fabulous Photos of Your Engagement Ring and Wedding Rings?

Who says that taking styled photos of your engagement ring and wedding rings only happens at your wedding? This adorable image got me thinking: if our wedding photographers can place our rings inside roses — and inside this cupcake! — for Big Day ring close-up photos, so can we on any day! We love our rings even more over time, so styling fresh and fun photos like this one should be a Thing. Especially on anniversaries.

I hope you’re inspired to slide off your rings — carefully, of course! Not near a sink! — and snap some Insta-worthy images of your sparklers!

 

8 Wedding Planning Tasks the Moms REALLY Want to Work on Now

A kiss for the moms out there!

A kiss for the moms out there!

Wedding planning just got fabulous again for the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom (and step-mothers of the bride & groom!) After going through a few years of the wedding couple hip-checking the moms out of the way, so that they could plan everything and pay for everything, wise wedding couples are inviting the moms to join in the fun of planning the wedding (as well as bunches of events around the actual wedding day!)

Why is mom back in the picture? Here’s why:

* Wedding couples don’t want to miss out on the experience, and the memories, and the photos. Brides and grooms who planned without their moms, and are now among those whose moms are no longer around, or who don’t live nearby, have lots and lots of regrets on missing out on that wonderful mom-adult child bonding time.

* Moms are awesome at event planning, and are really well-connected. They may have a friend who works at Bergdorf’s and can snag you a friends and family discount, or they might work with someone whose caterer or floral designer is amazing. Or, they might rock at negotiating contracts.

* Honestly, it’s an extra wallet or two. Moms have money to spend, which adds to the budget.

* Enough time has gone by, and we now know that couples who left the moms out of the planning have often experienced long-lasting resentments, and perhaps some drama. You know, the old sigh at the holiday dinner table in which Mom talks about her friends who were ‘lucky to be invited to plan’ their daughter’s wedding. Add in another sigh. Some moms can be that way. If yours isn’t, be happy every day.

Now, here are the top wedding planning tasks that moms REALLY want to work on:

1. Picking their own designer dresses, and shoes, and accessories. Duh.

2. Planning parties. The mother of the bride wants that engagement party (which is SO back in style, by the way!) and the mother of the groom wants the morning-after breakfast…but they’re also planning welcome cocktail parties for guest arrival day on the wedding weekend, after-parties for their own friends, and — this is the big one — moms are now 100% etiquette-okay to join the bridesmaids and maid of honor in planning the bridal shower. Everyone’s so busy and cash-strapped, and many of your friends love hanging out with your mom, and the shower might turn out so much more elegantly if mom’s connections, ideas, style, and money are in it. So party-planning it is!

3. Going to tastings. If they can’t score a place at the caterer’s tasting event (as some venues limit it to just the two of you,) they want in on the cake tastings. And dessert tastings if you’re doing pies, dessert bars and other trendy things.

4. Site touring. Moms love joining in on the walk-throughs at potential reception halls, pointing out what’s excellent and what might be a challenge for guests. It always helps to have an extra set of eyes.

5. Attending your gown shopping trips. They want to be there for That Moment when you find The One. Which is why warring or icy moms and step-moms really should try to peacefully co-exist during this time, so that both can be there if you so choose, and you all avoid the taking turns plan that slows down your progress or creates a situation in which your mom wasn’t there when you found The Dress; ‘she’ was there. Drama!

6. Styling the room. They’re all over Pinterest, too, and the moms want to participate in choosing lighting effects, rentals and other things to make the place amazing. They’re not choosing your vintage marquee lights and floral halo over the dance floor. They’re just getting links sent to them from you, as you share the looks you’re finding. So this one might not be planning as much as it is getting a look!

7. Guest list etiquette. Everyone likes to be known as the one who’s ‘in the know,’ so Moms are set up as the guest list etiquette gurus: answering questions about how many kids cousin Clair has now, how to spell the kids’ names, if cousin Kate is remarried to that guy she met at speed dating, if great-uncle Ed is still alive. That kind of stuff. Oh, and titles! Like the current rank your military aunt is, and how to write it on an invitation envelope.

8. The fun stuff. Like sending an invitation to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and baby Prince George, and checking out celebrity wedding dresses and their aisle runners. Watching reality show weddings with you, and more.

For help with wedding tasks, get my books The Mother of the Bride Book and Mother of the Groom.

motherofthebridelargest

 

Fab Find! Shashi Socks for Bridesmaids’ Wedding Morning Wearing

shashi 2 shashi 3 shashi 4 good shashi 5 good

The Shashi Socks folks were kind enough to send me a collection of Shashi Socks, and the easy slip-on, traction-grip and sparkly socks struck me as a great little gift for bridesmaids, to wear on the wedding morning during those getting-ready hours. Especially if you’ll all get ready in a hotel and have seen enough of those investigative reports with their blacklight revelations. Even in the best brands of hotel, these are still not your carpets nor your bathroom tile floor, so sock-wearing may be your bridesmaids’ preference. With matching, cozy Shashi Socks, they get a keeper gift as well.

Slip resistant grippers on the bottom add stabilitiy and traction. Shashi socks are availabe in S (5.5-7.5) ,M (8-10),L (10.5-12.5) and retail from $15-$18.

www.shashionline.com