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Bristol RI Engagement, Amy and John

I had the privilege this past weekend to photograph my friends Amy and John for their engagement portraits. We had a wonderful day walking around Bristol, RI, and we able to get some good shots despite the pouring rain! I can’t wait to attend their beautiful wedding in June! Congratulations Amy and John!

Bridesmaid “Ask” Bags

It’s official – I now have a wonderful set of ladies to help me celebrate our big day! I’m so excited and happy that they all said yes! The special group consists as my cousin as my maid-of-honor (I was hers two years ago for her gorgeous winter wedding), my future sister-in-law, and three of my closest friends.

Because they all mean so much to me, I wanted to find a special way to ask them if they would do me the honor of being by my side next September. I thought that a nautical themed bag would be the perfect touch!

I bought 5 canvas tote bags at my local craft supply store, as well as some navy fabric paint. I’ve always loved Sea Bags, particularly the ones with large numbers, and thought it would be a cute way to easily remember our wedding date! Typography and numbers will be a very important part of the aesthetic for our wedding, so the large numbers start to help enforce this theme.

I printed templates using the same typeface used on our Save the Dates, and cut out stencils. I then traced and hand painted each of the bags. A tiny “2014″ demonstrates the date, but I think that the bags have a more abstract numerical look – unless you knew they were meant to represent a wedding date, perhaps you’d never guess!

I attached the little note above to the top of each bag with a poof of turquoise and swiss dot tulle.

Inside each bag I included a bridal “cheat sheet” which had all of the information each lady would need, as well as a few simple rules. I also put together a set of swatches of preferred dress colors to choose from. I thought it would be an easy reference to bring out shopping!

The soft grey-green, white, and navy are our core wedding colors, with a punch of bright coral every so often. I love the coral envelopes I was able to find at the Paper Source, and am moderately obsessed with the little turquoise brads used to create the book and swatch package.

Overall, I’m really happy with how the bags turned out, and thrilled that everyone said yes!!

Bridal Shower Menu

When asked to be my cousin’s maid of honor, one of the first things on my mind was throwing the perfect bridal shower. I knew I’d have to find the right blend of classic and modern, comfortable and elegant, and of course – plan the perfect menu to please all of the guests. In a wonderful stroke of luck, the “classic” element took care of itself, after locating the perfect historical venue in the small New England town we both grew up in. With the addition of some clean and modern decorations, and some personal touches, the location and ambiance were taken care of.

Then came the food.

Clearly, I wasn’t about to let control of the event be handed over to someone else, so I took on all of the menu planning, food prep, and presentation myself. I wanted everything to be perfect.

It was an afternoon shower, so I wanted to serve “tea-type” food, with a seasonal twist. It was important to me to make the menu personal and add an element of comfort, rather than sticking with a very traditional high-tea menu.

The savory dishes included the following:

  • Harvest Chicken Salad sandwiches with toasted pecans and dried cranberries, served on mini croissant rolls

    Chicken salad is always featured at our family gatherings, so it was a must-have for the shower. I used my grandmother’s usual recipe, but dressed it up with toasted pecans, dried cranberries and celery for crunch. The mini croissant rolls ended up being the perfect size, and I thought they were a little more elegant than traditional rolls.

  • English Cucumber Sandwiches with herbed cheese spread

    Again, a must-have for afternoon tea. These were a favorite, and I thought they came out really well. The two key steps for success with this simple sandwich: buy the right bread (I got this “very thin” white bread after trying three different ones) and slicing the cucumbers thin enough. I also mixed Boursin cheese with plain cream cheese and my own blend of spices to get the spread just right.

  • Cranberry Apple chutney with golden raisins, served with triple creme brie on water crackers

    I made my own chutney with fresh apples, cranberries and golden raisins, cooked down with a little brown sugar, a splash of orange juice and some cayenne pepper for heat. With the triple creme brie, it was the perfect combination of sweet and tart, creamy and crunchy.

  • Roasted butternut squash and pears with honey goat cheese, served in phyllo dough cups

    These simple treats we so pretty and colorful, and a perfect nod to the season. I roasted off small cubes of butternut squash and pears, and filled toasted phyllo dough cups with the mixture, finally topping them with honey goat cheese.

On to the sweet stuff (clearly the favorite):

  • Spiced pumpkin bread with cream cheese and candied walnuts

    Another nod to the season – I made my family’s favorite pumpkin bread, filled with lots of cinnamon and ginger, and baked it in a jelly roll pan to get the right thickness. After cutting small rounds out of the cooked bread, I piped cream cheese in a lovely swirl, and topped each off with a hand-caramelized walnut half made with brown sugar and cinnamon.

  • Carrot cake with cream cheese icing

  • Raspberry shortbread bars

    This was actually one of my favorites, and was a new recipe which I’m surprised to say I found on the Land o’Lakes website of all places. It was buttery (shocking) and sweet, but not too crumbly. And so easy!

  • Chewy butter toffee cookies

  • Snickerdoodles

I thought that the presentation was almost as important as the food, so I used modern white platters with variable heights. Multiple sizes of cake stands were very helpful for this, and also made it possible to fit all of the food in the allotted space on the rather small table. I used mixed patterns of family china for guest dishes to again add an element of comfort and elegance, with a but of whimsy.

For drinks, I set up a coffee and tea bar, with an assortment of choices, and also provided a signature bellini made with pear and cranberry.

Printed cards with a visual motif pulled in from the stationery and signage for the event helped identify the dishes, and fluffy tissue paper flowers added a modern touch to the space.

Overall, it was a lot of work to pull off the event, particularly the food, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. It turned out beautiful, and everyone seemed right at home the entire time. A very happy celebration for the bride!

Bachelorette Weekend Invitations

To continue the wedding events review, I thought I’d share the invitations I created for my cousin’s bachelorette weekend. We decided that a weekend away with the girls would be a perfect way to celebrate, and had a wonderful few days on the Cape in September. As I mentioned previously, we wanted to throw her a surprise shower while we were away, so the invitations I sent contained a little note to indicate this as well. I wanted the stationery suite to hint at the colors and overall theme of the event, which was preppy, classic New England, and a little modern.

 

The little Swiss Dot tulle bow helped add a touch of whimsy, and printed envelopes revealed the overall message before being opened. I used mixed typography to continue the playfulness through the rest of the invitation. I knew that the designs for her bridal shower invitations were going to be far more classic and reserved, so I felt like this was the opportunity to really have some fun. I got all of the paper and envelopes at the Paper Source (which is I am slightly obsessed with) and designed and printed them at home.

I chose a coordinating envelope liner, helping to tie the teal, navy and gray theme together. I carried this color scheme through the rest of the event, and I felt like the colors really spoke to a weekend by the sea. How fun!

 

 

Bridal Headband

It has been a very busy and exciting holiday season for my family! My cousin got married at the beginning of the December, and I was lucky enough to be included in her wedding as her maid of honor. I had a wonderful time putting together all sorts of fun accessories, invitations and packaging for her various events, my favorite of which might be the headband I made for her bachelorette weekend.

Because many of her bridesmaids traveled long distances to help celebrate, and weren’t able to attend her official bridal shower, we put together a surprise shower (more on this later!) during our girls’ weekend away. I wanted to give the bride something fun to wear, but knew she wouldn’t go for anything covered in rhinestones, glitter, or pink satin. We both have a penchant for rather silly, oversized hair accessories, so I knew a bridal themed headband would be perfect.

 

 

For the bow I used a wide band of white ribbon, and sewed it into large, abstract layered loops. When I was done with the main bow, I added in pieces of the Swiss dot tulle I used on her bachelorette invitations to help tie the whole thing together (also I just LOVE the tulle). To attach the bow to the headband, I cut two small pieces of white felt, sewed the bow onto one, and then used hot glue to sandwich the headband between the felt. A the end, I added a swath of light weight tulle towards the front, which I thought was a fun reference to a little birdcage veil.

Overall, the headband was a hit! The bride wore it to all of the pre-wedding events, and I thought it looked so pretty on her. And so fun!