July 21

Sock it To Me, Groomsmen

Details are a double-edged sword. On one hand, “attention to detail” is something to be admired. You have to hand it to a couple who goes the extra mile to make their bash sing from head to toe. On the other hand, “the devil is in the details,” and if you think long and hard about every little piece of the puzzle you’ll drive yourself up the wall.

I just used a dozen idioms in that opening paragraph and I’m not sure that I know what all of them mean.

This is a story about socks.

Beautiful Day Photography via Jet Fete Blog

Wedding socks, to be specific. As brides and bridesmaids, we meticulously put together wedding day looks with perfectly coordinated accessories—no shoe sole goes un-turned. But I love it when the groomsmen are equally on-theme, even down to the tips of their toes. No surprise then that I recently began searching for socks for Roo’s three groomsmen that match our color palette and coordinate with their black suits and black polka dot ties.

Man feet (I’m sorry) via Happy Socks

Good news: I found the perfect socks! They’re black and green to match our palette. Plus I love how they look like a more modern version of classic argyle.

I also found the same socks in pink in photos from another wedding, so I know they would look great with the guys’ suits. Would look great. Would.

Cory Ryan via 100 Layer Cake

The bad news? When I pulled up the perfect socks, I made the mistake of also showing Roo this pair of socks from my search, featuring Detroit Pistons Bad Boys superstars Isaiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer (his favorite! natch!).


Once Roo saw those Pistons socks, there was no going back to the perfectly coordinated wedding socks of my dreams. But you know what? It’s better this way. Do they perfectly match the wedding? No. Do red and blue socks even go with a black suit? Definitely not. But will the guys love them? Absolutely.

I decided this is one of those details that doesn’t need to be thought over a thousand times. So four pairs of mismatched NBA wedding socks are on their way to our mailbox right now. We’re going to put them together with the ties and some other presents as groomsmen gifts.

Beautiful Day Photography via Jet Fete Blog

And yes, I’m still going to make the guys pose for a photo with their pant legs hiked up. C’mon, they’re wearing Pistons socks! How cool is that?

Categories: Attire, Wedding Party | Leave a comment

July 18

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Serving Champagne at a Wedding

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our bar lately (see here, here and here), but I don’t want anybody to get the wrong impression about our boozy bash. Today, I’m going to flip the script and talk about what we’re not going to drink at our wedding: champagne.

Katie Parra, via Style Me Pretty

Roo and I are not having champagne or a sparkling wine at our wedding. We’re not big champagne drinkers in general; when the flutes come out for toasts at a wedding, I usually have one sip and let the rest get flat at my table. I feel horrible letting perfectly good bubbly go to waste, but there’s not much I can do in that situation. It seems rude to refuse when weddings and champagne seem to go so hand-in-hand. So at our reception, Roo and I decided that we prefer to let everyone toast with whatever they’re drinking. Champers is an easy expense for us to cut out of the budget, and hopefully nobody will miss it at our laid-back bash.

Even though we’re not doing it, I know it’s pretty much the most common wedding tradition next to the white dress. Along our journey of wedding planning, I have picked up some good tips for people who are doing a champagne toast. If I can’t use them, maybe one of you brides out there can.

On grapes…

From Huffington Post:
The wine grapes most commonly used in the production of sparkling wine are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and/or Pinot Meunier. If the particular sparkling wine is made from all white grapes, the label will read “blanc de blancs,” and if it’s made from Pinot Noir, it is labeled “blanc de noirs.” 

On picking the right champagne…

From The Plunge:
A mistake people make is getting brut sparkling wine for toasting…. and then toasting when the cake is cut. Why have a sweet frosted wedding cake with a dry wine (bruts are meant for serving with buttery seafood and chicken in cream sauces, or drinking on their own), it makes the cake seem cloying. Get a demi-sec (fairly sweet) wine instead, so it matches the sweetness of the cake! Or toast with no food.

Adam Barnes, via Southern Weddings

On the un-champagnes (Cava, Prosecco, etc.)…

From The Plunge:
You can toast with anything — at my best friend’s wedding we toasted with an excellent semi-seco Cava, a semi-sweet sparkling wine from Spain. I’m almost embarrassed to say it was only like $8 a bottle… but I had people coming up to me all afternoon telling me how much they loved the bubbly, and how it was so much better than Champagne usually is. You can also toast with Prosecco (between $10 and $30 a bottle); these tend to be just a hair sweeter than a brut Champagne, and they’re not nearly as yeasty/toasty, which can be good for people who don’t drink a ton of bubblies. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of most California sparkling wines. At the low end, they’re not terribly good — for technical reasons, the acidity is too low, and the grapes are over-ripe. 

On how much to get…

From DexKnows:

Determine if you will be serving champagne just during the toasts or throughout the reception. If you plan to have it available throughout, the amount you need will be considerably larger. With a full champagne flute, you can get about six glasses per bottle. You can double that by serving half flutes. You can estimate one glass per toast and then one to two more every hour [if you serve during the reception].

From HubPages:
Champagne is available in a range of bottle sizes. If a couple is looking into buying sparkling wine for a crowd, it will often be a better price per litre to purchase the largest size available, as long as it will be poured quickly enough so that the bottle does not go flat. If a bride and groom’s reception venue permits them to bring in their own alcohol, buying Champagne by the case may be a better value than by the individual bottle. A split of Champagne would be the right size if the bride and groom wanted to each have one glass of a very pricey vintage to share for toasting. 

From DexKnows:
When you’re shopping for a champagne supplier, ask if the stores will accept returns of unopened bottles. Stores with liberal return policies will give you some flexibility with the amount you buy.

On choosing the right glass…

From HubPages:
Speaking of serving Champagne, it is best done in classic tall slender flutes which are specially designed to enhance the sparkling wine. In addition to looking elegant, the long stems of Champagne flutes keep the holder’s hand away from the beverage, allowing it to remain icy cold. The other commonly used style of stemware for sparkling wine is the coupe glass, which has an open saucer shaped bowl. Though once popular, the coupe glass has fallen from favor for serving Champagne because it makes the sparkling wine go flat more quickly. Besides, the wide bowl makes for more spills, and who wants to lose even a drop of the precious wine?

Cameron and Kelly, via Southern Weddings

On toasting and serving…

From DexKnows:
People will drink more if they are allowed to serve themselves. Have the venue staff fill the flutes and serve the champagne for the toast.

Prom A Practical Wedding:
For reasons mysterious to me, a lot of people seem to dislike champagne, and so when passed a glass for toasts they will take an obligatory sip, and then abandon their almost untouched glass. Where do you think that champagne (and the money you paid for it) goes? Down the drain, my friend. There’s a simple solution to this: let people toast with whatever they have in hand, and offer champagne at the bar all night. (If you really want to pass drinks before toasts, just send wait staff around with red, white, and sparking. Done.) That said, if you want to do a champagne toast, because you just can’t imagine your wedding without one, make sure that the bar staff only pours 1/3 or 1/2 full glasses, and calculate eight glasses per bottle instead of five for buying purposes.

…and finally…

On not stressing out about it…

Prom A Practical Wedding:
My golden rule of alcohol at weddings: If your guests complain about the type of free alcohol you’re serving them, they are free to go elsewhere.

Amen! What’s your plan for popping bubbly?

Categories: Food & Drink | Leave a comment

July 15

Sip on These Signature Beer Cocktails

I love a signature drink for an event. Whether the goal is so save on spirits, add a personal touch or just to keep the wedding theme going, I think signature cocktails are a fun experience for guests. I know I’ve tried a few themed drinks at events that were totally different from what I usually sip, and I loved them. Being that our wedding theme has been driven by our location, and the fact that our location is a brewery, we thought it might be apt to suggest a menu of signature cocktails at our bash that were all made with beer. That’s right, signature beer cocktails.

For the uninitiated, beer cocktails are certainly “a thing,” and for the most part they’re incredibly delicious. Across the board, there’s no standard template for beer cockail recipes. Some combine a beer with a mixer, some mix beer with a liquor, and some just mix beer with other beer. Some popular beer cocktails you may have heard of or tried are the Moscow Mule (ginger beer + vodka), Michelada (beer bloody mary), Shandy (beer + lemonade), Snakebite (beer + cider) and the Black and Tan (Guiness + an ale/lager).


A pic of my usual easy Summer Shandy a few summers ago; just Bud Light and lemonade.

As soon as I suggested doing a menu of beer cocktails, Roo was totally on board. Monday Night beers have great flavors that I knew we could build a cocktail around. In fact, I’ve even had a Monday Night beer cocktail once, at a local bar here in Westside Atlanta called Ormsby’s. It was a Drafty Kilt (MNB’s scotch ale) mixed with a 12-year scotch and Drambuie. Really good, but really strong. So last weekend, Roo and I decided to tackle a really tough wedding task: Drinking (tough life, I know). I wanted to take him to Ormsby’s to sample their Drafty Kilt cocktail and determine if it was a good fit, plus spin our heads on some other cocktail recipes. We sat down at the bar, ordered some Pimento Cheese Fritters and got to chatting with the bartenders.

Our wedding bar scouting trip went incredibly well, mainly thanks to the man behind the bar that day, Gavin. A few weeks fresh off his own wedding celebration, he was eager to chat about our wedding plans and help us out with some great beer cocktail ideas. He’s da real MVP of our beer cocktail menu, since two of the three drinks we’re settling on came from him.

The only thing left to do? Come up with cute names. I need some help from you, hive! Tell me which ones you like, or let me know if you have better ideas. (For reference: Roo’s from Michigan, I’m Cuban and Ernest Hemingway loved Cuban rum, Roo and I met in Atlanta, our last name will be Williford, and the neighborhood near the brewery is is called “West Midtown.”)

The Williford Wedding Shandy or The Michicuban or Hemingway Apple Shandy
Michigan apples meet Cuban rum in an Atlanta craft beer cocktail.
The recipe: Fu Manbrew Belgian Wit + Berentzen Apple Liqueur + Domaine De Canton Ginger Liqueur + Bacardi Spiced Rum

Images: MNB/Berentzen/Domaine De Canton/Bacardi


West Midtown Mule or Southern Mule
A classic Moscow Mule made with MNB’s ginger-spiked Fu Manbrew wheat beer.
(I’m debating adding Peach Scnapps or Sweet Tea, like this recipe I found.)
The recipe: Fu Manbrew Belgian Wit + Tito’s Vodka + a squeeze of lime

Images: MNB/Tito’s

ARRRgarita (because, Eye Patch) or The Georgiarita
A twist on the classic margarita, with Indian Pale Ale.
The recipe: Eye Patch Ale IPA + El Jimador Tequila + agave nectar + a squeeze of lime

Images: MNB/El Jimador/Madhava

I think these are all pretty delicious. While there’s not a ton of variety (they’re all very similar crisp, refreshing cocktails), I think this menu is a great add-on to our full bar. There’s going to be plenty of beer, wine and mixed drinks available—these signature beer cocktails are just meant to be a fun option for anyone who wants to sample the local craft beer and try something new.

After our trip to Ormsby’s, we ventured to a liquor store to stock up on all the spirits we’ll need for the wedding. Now all that’s left to do is create a cute sign for the bar, right?

Mint Love Social Club
Laura Murray Photography
 and Love this Day Events via The Knot
Sign by Tomoko Kuwahara, shot by Corey Ryan via 100 Layer Cake

Did you have a signature drink at your wedding? How did it go? Were people into it?

Categories: Details, Food & Drink | 1 comment

July 8

Bridal Style Icon: Olivia Palermo

Most people consider me a really creative person, so they’re always surprised when I share my number one maxim on thinking in new ways: “Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

It sounds like Albert Einstein is endorsing plagiarism with that quote, but this is actually a perfect how-to guide for how an artist—or a DIY bride—should make use of their inspiration. Your thing shouldn’t look just like somebody else’s thing. Take the influence and transform it enough that nobody could think of your original inspiration. Pablo Picasso had a similar opinion: “Good artists borrow; great artists steal.” A good artist will copy an idea that belongs to someone else; a great artist will take it and make it his own, doing it even better in his own style.

Needless to say, I spend a lot of time finding and thinking about inspiration in my day-to-day life, and the wedding is no exception. I think it’s especially important to source inspiration for the areas of a wedding you don’t know much about. For me, that’s bridal beauty.

If you remember, Olivia Palermo’s laid-back look was one of the inspirations for my hair trial. Olivia graced the cover of the June/July 2014 issue of Brides magazine just before she was set to wed model boyfriend Johannes Huebl, and I sat around for longer than I’d like to admit admiring her perfectly imperfect hair.

oliviapalermobrides2Brides Magazine

I just about died when I read that she decided on a whim to layer a white oxford over the ball gown the shoot stylists put her in. I love unexpected choices like this and I think its great when brides feel comfortable enough in their own style to do something totally un-bridal.


We got a few tastes of what she might look like on the big day from Brides, but the fashion icon kept pretty hush-hush about her wedding style in the issue.

Well she’s married now, so the secret’s out.

Girlfriend wore a pair of shorts.


Olivia Palermo

Carolina Herrera shorts, but still. It’s pretty out there as far as bridal fashion goes. My bridesmaid W and I may have shared a few OMG‘s and excessive exclamation marks over email when these photos came out.

Olivia paired the shorts with an also-unexpected cashmere sweater and a high-slitted tulle skirt overlay by the same designer. Obviously this look isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I am in love. If there was any debate about my bridal icon before, let me clear it up: I want to channel Olivia Palermo on my wedding day.

Not that I’m going to return my dress and go shopping for white shorts. I love the way Olivia played with tradition in both the shoot and her own day by bringing in something totally un-bridal (take your pick from the messy ponytail, trenchcoat vest, oxford shirt, sweater or those effin’ shorts). I’ll keep her daring style in the back of my mind when I need a little bravery to go against what’s expected at a wedding and do my own thing. That’s the real inspiration here.

The other lesson? Let’s get all over some bridal separates, wedding gown designers. OK?

Categories: Attire, Style | Leave a comment

July 7

Honeymoon Redeux, Part 2

Until the flights are booked, dream honeymoon plans exist only in your dreams. Rooster and I had big hopes to make our fantasy trip to London a few weeks after our wedding to watch our two favorite teams play in the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium (talk about serendipity!), but it wasn’t meant to be. Money woes and a very important wedding planned for the same weekend de-railed our plans.

We determined the best thing to do, both for our schedules and our wallets, would be to take a honeymoon someplace closer and cheaper right after the wedding. But we still really wanted to (irresponsibly) go to London, too, even if it meant we’d miss the game. It was like a devil and angel were on our shoulders, telling us where to take our first trip as newlyweds.

Figurine from The Cake Creator

So we did what we usually do when we’re faced with a tough decision: Not make one.

Yep, we’re doing both.


Wikimedia Commons

Right after the wedding, we’ll head to Chicago for a mini-moon. We’ve both been there before, but we love spending time in The Windy City. Roo’s sister owns a vacation condo (in an awesome location near Divison Street) and has generously offered to let us stay there while we dine and play all over the city. Taking a domestic honeymoon with a free place to stay allows us the freedom to play for a whole week and spend our honeymoon budget treating ourselves with a trip to the spa and really nice dinners (with really nice cocktails to go along). If we’d splurged on a trip to Europe right after the wedding, it would have been short (like, 3 days) and we would have had to watch every penny. I’d rather relax after the wedding than rush around London with no money.


Wikimedia Commons

Then next spring, we’ll take our dream trip to Europe. With fresh vacation days and some fresh paychecks, we’ll have more flexibility and a bigger budget to take the overseas trip we’ve truly wanted to take all these years. The plan right now is to take a couple of weeks and hit up London along with Amsterdam and Brussels, but we’ve got plenty of time to decide how we want to spend part two of our honeymoon.

Now that the decision to take a two-part honeymoon is behind us, we can really see that it’s the right thing to do for our budget and our schedule. Plus this way, we get two honeymoons for the price of one! (You’re still newlyweds after 6 months, right?)

Where are you going for your honeymoon? Anyone have any recommendations for me in Chicago?

Categories: Honeymoon | Leave a comment

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