How to Choose the Right Venue Style for Your Wedding

Happy Wednesday Friends!

Let’s jump right in…. after you become engaged the first BIG decision you will need to make is selecting your Wedding Venue. This can often times be the most stressful part of the planning process, because there are so many different variables to consider. With all of these things to consider, this part of the process can be very emotionally draining.
Here are some tips for making this process a little easier on yourself before you even start to begin looking at venues!

1. Consider hiring a Wedding Planner. Wedding Planning is overwhelming, no doubt about that! But did you know that many valley planners offer an initial complimentary consultation? Take that time to meet with a Professional to best understand what services are offered. It will be well worth your time and possible investment.


2. Finalize (best guess) your estimated Guest Count. This is very important as each venue has a different capacity.


3. Agree upon an overall Wedding Budget that you both feel comfortable with. (again consult with your Planner to educate on you on overall average Wedding Expenses.)


4. Decide logistically what part of the valley you desire to host your wedding in.


5. Have an ideal date in mind…at least the year and month.

Once you have your foundation laid then you start talking about your desired style. Please do not torture yourself by wasting your precious time touring venues that don’t match any of your needs. I think it’s common that once a couple gets engaged they instantly start touring venues (because naturally you’re excited) but that is not a good use of time or your emotional energy.  The good news is…Arizona has SEVERAL venue options…and now that you have grasp on your guest count, budget, demographics, and ideal dates…this process will be much easier for you!

 

A Royal Palms Wedding, Full of Romantic Ambiance

Hello All, I'm so excited to share this Royal Palms Resort Wedding with you today! This extraordinary day took place five months ago and viewing this photos is such a refreshing reminder of how beautiful this day truly was. 

There is no doubt that this wedding tugged at my heart a little more being that the beautiful bride Emmy, has a twin sister Jenny.  And being that I have twin daughters myself~ this was a special experience for me to able to witness that twin sister bond on a wedding day.  Seeing the happiness they had for each other was truly endearing and when Jenny the Maid of Honor delivered her speech she had me in tears. 

Emmy had impeccable taste.  She new wanted to keep her wedding day looking simple, refined and classic~ while adding in personal uniqueness of their style and personality.  She was incredible wise to make her design decisions based off the naturally beautiful existing ambiance of the Royal Palms property.   Additionally, she incorporated the Spanish wrought iron elements and added in touches of gold and loads of candlelight.  

Additionally, their dinner reception took place outdoors~ under the palms trees and hanging bistro lights.  The guests were able to watch the sun set over Camelback Mountain as they dined.  It was truly an exquisite experience.  Emmy shined throughout the entire day with her calm demeanor and classic beauty.  And Dwain just captured all of our hearts that day.  There's no doubt how much he loves his Bride and he let that be known as he toasted her the most heartfelt speech in front of all of their guests.

This day was nothing short of true dream.  And I was so completely honored to be a part of it.  

 

Thank you so much Emmy and Dwain, and congratulations on your recent move the Valley of the Sun.  What a beautiful way to continue your love story.  

Venue: Royal Palms Resort and Spa | Photography: Katrina Wallace Photographers | Planning: J.Starr Stylized Weddings | Florals: Avant Garde | DJ: Starz Entertainment | Guitarist: Miguel de Maria | Hair & Make-Up: Linda Valenzuela | Stationary: Freed Hands | Officiant: John Holton | Transportation: Ollie the Trolley

12 Ways to Add Meaning to a Milestone Celebration

Grandpa Jim’s 90th Birthday Party

This past November all of my family members (on my dad’s side) gathered to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th Birthday Celebration! In planning this party with my family, I keep a few things in mind and implemented them into our planning process that helped to really add meaningfulness into this joyous occasion. Today I’m sharing those helpful ways to inspire you for your next milestone gathering.

 

Private Facebook Group for Communication/Include Family Members/Delegate Tasks

Creating a Private Facebook Group is smart way to keep your entire family members (well at least those on FB), involved and included in the planning process. Then they can decide how involved they desire to be or they can simply turn off the notifications and only tune in once in a while. This is extremely helpful when deciding upon the date, the time, the venue, the overall theme, and delegating tasks.

Have A Theme.

Yes, all “great” celebrations truly need a theme of some kind. This is really a sneaky (SMART) tip at being able to keep your budget in check. You see, if you give the party a “relaxed” theme to begin with, this automatically saves you from feeling like your décor needs to be over the top. The theme should make sense and really be true reflection of the guest of honor.

Incorporate your theme into the décor.

The theme should be communicated through the invitation first and foremost. Next it should be carried through on your tables and any other fun areas that can use a little décor and personalization such as the chairs, high top tables, welcome area, and the cake.


Display family photos and memorabilia, and signage.

Nothing make a milestone event more heartfelt than being able to view old family photos. This is such an easy way to add meaning. And signage is a big deal. Having a welcome sign is great way to greet guests into the experience.


Have a Plan for the Timeline.

Having a timeline for any type of gathering is a must. Never assume that you’ll make plan during the actual party, that’s not possible. You’ll be too busy chatting with guests to make any sort of on the spot decisions. This doesn’t mean you need to plan for something happening every minute of the gathering, but a simple timeline creates a flow that is needed when gathering people.


Plan for Family Group Photos.

If possible (especially with large families) arrange for your family members to arrive early, before the party begins. At this time everyone will have fresh faces and attention spans. It’s more realistic to plan for your family to arrive a preset time before the party, then scrambling trying to group everyone at the tail end of the event.


Involve the guests.

Plan for the guest of honor to have something meaningful to take home. Consider setting out a box of note cards, envelopes and pens. Encourage them to jot down their favorite memories for the guest of honor to read later, after the party. It’s a little melancholy when a celebration is over, this is nice way for the guest to have something else look forward to and enjoy.

 

Arrange for a Master of Ceremonies.

If you’re budget will allow, hiring an emcee/dj will make your job as the host, much more enjoyable. Once you’ve planned everything out, turning over the timeline to the Emcee is HUGE. Now, they become in charge of the flow, and lend a real “voice” (which is needed) to the event.


Be thoughtful with your music selections.

The music needs to make sense. If you can arrange for live music during cocktail hour, there’s nothing better. Next, create a playlist that the guest of honor will appreciate, music that they love. Also, choose some “feel good” classic party songs that help to fill a dance floor.


The cake is a big deal!

A great way to incorporate your overall theme is in the cake, especially when it comes to a milestone (like 90!). And be sure to make this a big part of the celebration. Arrange for the guest of honor to be brought out in front of everyone for this momentous moment.


Slideshows, always.

Never underestimate the power of a slideshow. Make sure it’s located in a visible area and preplan when it will scroll. Remember to turn it off during the presentation part of the celebration so it doesn’t distract from the happenings. The best time to showcase a scrolling slideshow is during cocktail hour and again after the planned festivities have concluded, during the dancing reception.


Involve Loved Ones.

Arrange for those closest to the guest of honor to be involved in some way. This could be through a planned speech, a family trivia game, really any kind of sentimental delivery. These are usually the moments that mean the most to the guest of honor and are the parts of the celebration that stand out the most to the guests in attendance.

5 Tips for Selecting the Members of Your Bridal Party

Hello Friends,
Let’s talk about choosing your bridal party. I’ve had many brides and grooms express their many concerns when it comes to this task. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, because there are a lot of emotions and expectations involved. Today I’ve put together a few thoughts I would like to consider before selecting your “tribe.”


1.) The Honor
Who really deserves it? Often time people base their bridal party selections on obligation (well, I was in their wedding, or I have to all of my sisters) rather than selecting people who simply feel right. Really think about who you turn to in times of joy and trouble. Ask yourself who makes you feel special; who do you have fun times with?


2.) The Time Commitment
Being involved with a wedding involves a lot of time. There’s the dress shopping, the fitting, the accessories, the bridal shower, the bachelorette party, the rehearsal ceremony, the rehearsal dinner, of course the wedding day. Really think about whether or not this person has the time to commit. If you’re uncertain, feel free to ask them directly. To some friends, it might not matter how much time is involved, while others it might place great stress upon.

 

3.) The Expense
Being involved in a wedding can be quite expensive. The wardrobe, the possible travel, the alternations, professional hair and makeup, plus possible requested time off of work. Not to mention gifts along for each celebration….it can be a lot. Again, if you’re uncertain ask your friend and try to best estimate an amount ahead of time to share with them.

 

4.) The Great Expectations
Really think about whether or not this person will meet the expectations you’ve created in your mind and heart. Are you expecting the members of your bridal to be able to attend all the functions (bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner) or are you okay with them possibly needing to skip some of these times? Will this person be excited and joyful about your wedding day or will they be negative and voice their complaints along the way?
5.) The Fun Factor
A great ingredient to a great wedding day is a fun and active bridal party. Some of the best dance floors are being rocked out by the bridal party. Members of the bridal party feel special, they feel honored, therefore they are more likely to cut loose and have a great time supporting you and your most special day.

Classic Gainey Ranch Winter Wedding

Greetings All!  I'm so excited to share this beautiful Gainey Ranch Golf Club Wedding with you today! This lovely day took place on December 16th, 2017, closing out the year in a big way for Sarah and Jordan.  

One thing I knew for sure, right from the beginning, was that this wedding was truly going to be a family affair.  From the very first phone calls that came in to discuss wedding planning services~ first a phone call from Cindy ,the Mother of the Groom, then followed by a phone call from Berta, the Mother of the Bride.  My first in person meeting was with both sets of parents, while Sarah and Jordan were busy working.  I was so touched and amused by the true friendships between their parents. They were a wedding planning team~ that knew who to handle all the stressful wedding planning details and decisions through laughter.  

I actually didn't get to meet Sarah & Jordan until the tail end of the wedding planning process and I was impressed with their partnership and laid back approach to embracing the wedding day.  It was also apparent that they were a true team and were ready to make everything official.  

The wedding day took place at the always enchanting Gainey Ranch Golf Club.  The wedding day was filled with delightful touches of ivory and flowing greenery~ matching the natural elements of the setting so perfectly.  To bring in touches of winter and sophistication, a strong shade of navy was highlighted in both the gorgeous wardrobe and table linens.  But most importantly what stood out was the humorous tone not only among the parents and family but also the bridal party.  This group was very comfortable together and knew how to have fun.  

One of most memorable moments from this day was witnessing the reactions from Sarah's bridesmaid and family when she initially  walked out in her wedding dress for the first time. As a Wedding Planner, these moments are some of the heartfelt perks.  Shortly after, I helped Sarah down the elevator and led her to the spot where her handsome groom was awaiting her arrival for their "First Look."  There I witnessed their entire bridal party and immediate family members gathered at the windows in awe of watching this special moment.  There was so much joy and sweet tears shed by all that love Sarah and Jordan.  And this was just the beginning of their magical day. All that followed was truly spectacular~ from the personalized ceremony, to the confetti cannon grand entrance, followed by the surprise firework display.  This was wedding day to remember.  


Sarah, Jordan, Berta, Bill, Steve & Cindy~  thank you for allowing me to join your wedding planning process at the tail end.  I know that decision involved a great deal of trust.  Thank you for allowing my team  and me that honor.  What an amazing way to begin a marriage~ here a few of my favorite moments from your day! 

View Jordan and Sarah's Wedding Day Highlight Video: HERE
View My Candid/Personal "Behind the Scenes Clips" : HERE

CREATIVE PARTNER TEAM

Venue: Gainey Ranch Golf Club | Wedding Planning: Jennifer Starr | Beauty: Kensington Makeup | Cinema: J&P Media Group | Entertainment: Got You Covered | Florals: The Wildflower AZ | Photography: Robert Godridge Photography | Rentals & Décor: Tremaine Ranch

Our Honest Survival Tips for Parenting Small Children

I sat across from Justin last Saturday in a small Thai restaurant eating lunch.  We were alone, we were in public, we could have a real fluid  conversation ~this was rare.  I told him about my goals for blogging moving forward, explained to him how much I missed blogging consistently (as I had been able to do in years past.) 

He of course encouraged me keep to pushing forward through the thick of all the responsibilities and daily tasks because he knows how much joy writing, sharing, and creating brings to me.  Yet, we also recognized that we are still in the "thick" of parenting small children, and with that comes exhaustion and endurance.

You see it wasn't that long ago that Justin and I had many conversations about whether or not to have a third child after having our twin girls. Justin being the realist and me being the dreamer talked a lot about this, a lot.  I knew shortly after having my twins, that I was meant to have another.  I remember so many people telling me "yeah, twins....you only have to go through this one time."  

My heart would sink each time I would hear this.  ONE time!?  One time experiencing pregnancy, one time experiencing birth, one time experiencing newborn cuddles, one time going through each phase....smiles, words, steps. One time starting pre-school, and on and on.  Granted YES, these "one times" were multiplied but still.  That's a lot all at once.

Justin knew it too, deep down I think he was always on the same page as me, he's just too logical to admit it.  He would tell me many times "Jennifer, having a third child will impact our lives greatly.  All of our other goals will take longer, life will be harder, and this will most definitely impact your business, you will have to be okay with continued  slow yet, steady growth."  Okay, we both decided~ we "knew" what we were in for and we decided to add another child to our family. 

Within (no joke) a few weeks after having our "final" deciding conversation about both wanting this~ BOOM.  I was pregnant, and Justin was shocked.  So shocked that when I told him over a fancy dinner lakeside at the "Chart House" he couldn't even eat his meal.

 Fast forward nine months.... our little blonde burst of sunshine: Hunter Starr entered our world full of tiger cat growls and great big smiles.  And after the amazing months of newborn magic, reality set in.  LIFE WAS HARD, damn hard.  

Everything that Justin had pre-warned me about was happening.  Life was busier and more challenging than ever.  We had had 3 children in 3.5 years.  And it took (and is still) taking some big adjustments.  But throughout this journey and phase in our life we've learned and come to realized a handful of things that I thought we would share with you today.

Survival Tips for Parents of Young Children: 

1.) Weekly Date Nights, whatever it takessomething that has been amazing is going on a weekly date night.  At first the idea seems kind of silly.  Once a week?  Who has time for that, the budget for that, is once a week really needed?  That's what we used to think until we realized that we were no longer able to have actual conversations unless all the kids were sleeping.  Now we look forward to them so much.  They are short and fairly simple, but it's weekly reprieve that we can always look forward too.  Even if it means that we are both exhausted, at least we're together.  We feel so fortunate to have found someone we trust be able to watch our littles once a week.  This was a challenge before, as both Justin's parents have passed away and my parents live 50 minutes away.  But someway, somehow we found someone and we've been able to carry on with weekly date nights (for the most part) for the last 13 months.  

2.) Consistent Communication about finances, scheduling.  We have busy lives.  Justin works about 50 hours a week, and I run my growing business and I'm the primary caregiver to my children (twin 5 year old girls & a 1 year old little boy.)   And then, I'm a sucker for all things fun. If there's an event of any kind, I'm always going to try my hardest to get us there.  While I'm still working on creating more "white space" in on our calendar, there are a few things we've learned to help keep us better in sync.  Once a week (usually on Sundays) while our little guy is napping and the girls are supposedly in "quiet time" we try and crank out our schedule and pay bills.  I use an old fashion, super simple paper calendar planner (with monthly view) paired with our shared google calendar.  I prefer to use the handwritten planner first (I'm a visual person) and then insert everything in our google calendar next.  We've realized that it's nearly impossible to remember everything on a day to day basis (especially with my diverse schedule) so chatting it out on a weekly basis helps immensely. And money, we've found that in order for us to be on the same page with our budget and financial goals we have to sit down together and pay our bills and plan. 

3.) Staycations.  Prior to having children "Staycations" seemed lame.  But now, oh how the tides turn....because "Staycations" are GOLD.  We try and manage 2 to 3 a year.  They are easy, relaxed, and amazing.  We've realized that any time we get "away" from the kiddos is meant to be for guilt-free relaxation.  We've learned that these escapes aren't meant for adventure and outings...they are meant to do nothing~ and nowadays we even make it goal to never even leave the resort at all.  

4.) Individual Time.  Truth is, I think I get more of individual time than Justin.  But that's probably because I'm with the crew more than him and he fears my sanity more than I do his. But yes, from time to time I've found that I function best if I can get a little time completely to myself (and not work related.) My escape is usually a reflexology place down the road where I never have to make an appointment at.  I also think a weekend get-away is in my future to visit one of my best girlfriends.  

5.) Adult Meltdowns.  And knowing that adult meltdowns are a normal part of having small children.  (so long as you don't have more than your children do.) It's intense, like way intense and so constant.  I think feeling like you're losing it once in awhile (or once a week) is totally normal.  

6.) Acknowledgement that this stage isn't forever.  "The days are long, the years are short." No better statement could be truer in this stage of life.  Now that my twins are five I have more perspective on this, the years seem to be flying by faster than ever, although sometimes the day are painstakingly long.  

7.) Recognition of differences, strengths and weaknesses. I rarely share about "parenthood" stuff and I've always been terrified to join a "Mom's Group."  I think the reason being because "parenthood" is the hardest role ever.  It's so easy to beat yourself up about not feeling like you're doing a great job.  But one thing I've learned is that everyone parents totally differently and there's no wrong or right way to do anything.  I think the secret is to try to do everything you can to make yourself a happy person and ultimately your happiness is the greatest gift you can give your child.   

8.) Choose what to surrender, and being okay with that.  For us, we've surrendered our home.  Honest truth, sad but true.  What I mean is that we haven't done a single home décor project in five years.  Yes, it pains me, because I LOVE everything design related and I'm a big believer in your surroundings having a big effect on your mood.  But this truth is, like Justin always says....when you have twins (followed by their active little brother) constantly picking up our home is much like trying to books on the shelf during a earthquake. For me, I like to say having three children, 3.5 years apart and cleaning the home feels a lot like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreo cookies~ kinda impossible.  And anytime that my children are sleeping (aside from my regularly scheduled work days, when I have our sitter), I'm working on my business ~ before they wake up, during pre-school/nap time, and sometimes after they go to sleep at night.  And I'm so grateful that Justin totally supports this.  Now as the girls are older, and we only have one toddler...I'm starting to notice a difference, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I know that one day I will have a pretty home again, but I also know that I'll miss my children no longer being babies even more.   

9.) Endurance, progress and motion.  I'm constantly reminding myself just to keep going.  It's unrealistic to think that I'm going to get a BIG job done in one setting.  It's more realistic to always making small steps that eventually turn into achieving big goals.  I think giving yourself a true "block of time" and giving it all you got within that block is a huge game changer.  Sure at the end of the night I don't feel like I've aced my daily to do list, but it does feel great to know that I was able to "touch" on all the areas of my life that are important to me.  

Bottom line, it's just about surviving and remembering that *this* stage of life is hard on everyone.  Try your best to be strong, be happy, and remind yourself that you're doing an amazing job.  

 

 

Venue: SoHo63 | Photography: Matt Wheeler - Owner of Still Life Studios | Make Up: Makeup By Diana

8 Questions to Ask When You Are Interviewing Wedding DJs

Hello!

Lets delve into the entertainment world! What do you want to know when looking for your DJ? Below are 8 questions I recommend asking when you’re interviewing DJs.


1. How long have you been a DJ and how many weddings have you done?
It’s important to make sure that you are hiring a seasoned professional. The DJ has a huge responsibility in the success of your reception. It’s important to make sure that he/she is confident and fully able to provide the exact vibe that you are looking for.

2. Have you played at my venue before?
You’ll want to make sure that your DJ is familiar with your venue. This is important in terms of load in, set up (where the outlets are, what areas extension cords can run through) and how to set up the equipment to provide the best overall sound for the evening. If the DJ hasn’t played at your venue before, that’s okay. Just make sure that he/she is willing to do a walk thru of the venue space prior to the wedding day.

3. Will you serve as my emcee (master of ceremonies) during the reception? Do you have a video of yourself in action that I can see?
Some companies offer djs and emcees separately, while other companies offer a DJ/Emcee service (same person). Make sure that you have hired a “voice” of your evening to handle the flow of all of your important moments: grand entrance, first dance, toasts, cake cutting and all the other special events throughout the night. The next step is to make sure you “like their voice”. They will set the tone for your entire evening and it’s important that you like their style, how they sound on a mic, and handle a crowd.

4. Are you insured?
You want to make sure that you are hiring a legitimate company for your most special day. Because the truth is anyone can purchase equipment and call themselves a “DJ”. It is incredibly important that this company carries business liability insurance, pays taxes, and has insured equipment.

5. What attire will you wear at my wedding?
Don’t be shy, this is a must ask question! Your DJ must be dressed appropriately; all eyes will be looking at him/her from time to time.

6. Can I select my own songs?
Often times DJs will allow you pick up to a certain amount of songs to give them a good feel as what your music taste is like. They might even ask you to provide them with a “don’t play” list. This could contain the Macarena, the chicken dance, or maybe is past “songs” of your old boyfriends and girlfriends.


7. What is included in your services? What are items (if any) do you offer?
Do they provide a set up for the both the ceremony and reception? What about the cocktail hour? Do they bring back up equipment (just in case)? Do they provide their table(s)? Do they offer uplighting? Gobo light? Photobooths, etc?

8. What is the back up plan if you get sick or have a pop up emergency and you are unable to be at my wedding?
Does he/she work with a team? Do they have other professional djs they can call upon that offer a similar style and service to themselves? Has this ever happened before and how was it handled? Be sure that this person has your most special covered in a worst case scenario.

 

 

Romantic Seville Golf & Country Club Wedding

Oh, friends, I'm so excited to share this Seville Golf and Country Club Wedding with you today! It’s hard for me to believe that this wedding actually took place 4 months ago! I think time flies extra fast during Arizona's most beautiful months.


This wedding was especially endearing to me, as it was the first time I actually started imagining what it would be like to be the "Mother of the Bride" myself one day.  And the reason for that was because of how extraordinary the relationship was between Jessica (the Bride) and Terri (the Mother of the Bride.) So close that Jessica wore her mom's very own wedding dress (with a few modifications.) And when it was time for Jessica to have her dress bustled for the reception Terri had her very own Maid of Honor helping Jessica, along with Jessica's Maid of Honor. It was such a beautiful full circle meaningful moment to witness.


Additionally, Jessica and Bryan's (the Groom) families were so warm and fun. The entire day was filled with laughter, joy, and fun moments. And I think that was a largely because of Jessica and Bryan's relationship, it was quite obvious that they were very best friends, who truly treasured their time with their family, friends, and also each other.


The wedding day took place at the always romantic Seville Golf and Country Club. Every part of their day was filled with a personal touch of some kind and paired with gorgeous florals by Blume Events. But what stuck out to us most was the humor and sincerity of Jessica, Bryan, and everyone around them.


The second our team walked onto property, we were greeted with a huge hug and smile that made us feel like family. As a Wedding Planner, there is nothing you want more than for your clients to truly surrender all their thoughts about planning and details and enjoy and really savor the day.  In that moment, I knew, we had gained Terri and Jessica's trust and allowed them to step into their roles 100% ~as Bride and Mother of Bride and experience one of life's most beautiful days.

 

Jessica, Bryan and Terri, thank you for allowing us to be part of your family for the day. It was truly an honor, and we’re so excited for you to see a few of our many favorites moments!

View Bryan & Jessica's Wedding Day Highlight Video:  HERE 

View my personal "Behind the Scenes Clips" :  HERE 

 

CREATIVE PARTNER TEAM

Photography/Cinema : Steponme Photography | Planner: Jennifer Starr | Florals: Blume Events | DJ/Emcee: Matt Richardson | Officiant: Ryan Centers | Cake: Sue Jacobs Cakes | Linens: Southwick Linens | Venue: Seville Golf and Country Club

 

 

Best Wedding Websites to Share with Your Guests

Recently we were asked by one of our clients, which was the best Wedding Website to use? And let us let you in on a little secret, sometimes us Wedding Planners don’t necessarily have the answers to everything. But when questions like this come up, we always do our research to deliver our best findings to my clients.

For the most part, all of the wedding websites offer the similar features: rsvp section, event schedule area, and a spot to link registries, where they really differ is their customization abilities.

Let’s dig in shall we…..

Websites with a Fee:

Riely Grey ~ (sign-up & wedding website editing is free ~ publishing + sharing = $35/mo or 12 mo. package for 40% savings)

The Details: 40+ gorgeous wedding template design options, multiple color options, personalized domain names, RSVP collection, and the ability  to change your theme anytime after publication.

AppyCouple ~ ( $49 Appy Boutique basic package or $149 Appy Luxury full package - one time payment each) 

The Details: A new alternative to a traditional wedding website, AppyCouple creates a personalized smartphone app for easy access to all things about your wedding.  Users can chose from several design options and the features available within are close to limitless.  Video/photo sharing, guest list and RSVP manager, travel concierge service, customized countdown, multiple language capabilities, access to gift registries, address collection services are just to name a few.  Once created, your app will be available to all your guests as a free download and has the ability to be accessed anywhere even without wifi!


Wedding Woo ~ ($49 year/$69 two years)

The Details: Fully customizable wedding website templates with editable fonts, colors and backgrounds.  Couples can choose to add on fun, interactive "widgets" such as a wedding day countdown, personalized SoundCloud app for wedding music, and Bing Translator services so all guests can feel included.  Other highlighted features include a customizable visual dashboard, domain name, unlimited photo sharing, song request submissions for the reception, and virtual RSVP guest responses.  


Free Websites:

Wedding Window ~ (completely free or upgrade for $14.95/mo or $79.00/yr)

This wedding website service offers 20 free customizable photo themes and 16 free video themes for your website. These templates come with options to add information about wedding day festivities, ceremony details, RSVP service for guests, links to your gift registries, photo albums, guest list information, and a blogging option for the couple to use.  


The Knot ~ (free!)

The Knot is one of the most popular wedding websites that offers 100+ templates with beautiful designs to please every style.  Features within each template include information about the couple, engagement photos, links to registry sites, RSVP features, and a personalized guest book.  PLUS, many of the wedding site designs also come with the option to create matching wedding invitations of the same style through Shutterfly, Wedding Paper Divas, Minted Invitations, and Paperless Post.


Aisle Planner ~ (free!)

This popular wedding planning site now gives couples the option to create simple & straightforward place to share all your wedding details with your guests. 

 

OUR FAVORITE PICKS!!! : 

Websites with a Fee:  "AppyCouple."

After reviewing all of these wonderful websites the paid option that really stood out us was AppyCouple.  Creating a personalized app for the big day is such a creative and unique feature to offer to your guests.  Since we all look at our phones multiple times during the day, having an app that is readily accessible and easy to use like the one offered here has the potential to create more interaction and visitations to your wedding information!

Free Website : "Aisle Planner

Our favorite free website would definitely have to be Aisle Planner! As a J.Starr couple, you will get a wonderful perk in the form of access to Aisle Planner technology and the ability to create your own wedding website.  This is a great feature that lets a couple be connected to the planning process and have access to all aspects of the day

 

**Special Thank You Contributing Writer & J.Starr Intern: Annamarie Gansheimer

8 Simple Tips for Hosting a Home Party


Happy Sunday Friends.

Today begins a new feature on my blog, please allow me to introduce “Sincerely Saturdays.” My goal is to share a lifestyle-based blog post each Sunday, sharing some personal stories and hopefully providing you with some tips, insights and inspirations.

Let’s dig in shall we. On the very last day of 2017 we hosted a “Noon Year’s Eve Party” at our home. This party was a combo of a few different themes. “Noon Year’s Eve” + our little girls: “Hannah & Emma’s 5th Birthday” paired with trying to continue our tradition of our annual gathering, making this our “14th Annual.”


So yeah, we had a lot going on, the truth is we always do ~ especially in the current season of life. It was probably too ambitious for us to host a party, especially right after Christmas…but I had to fight through that way of thinking.


I was determined for my littles to have their 5th Birthday Party, and dang it I wasn’t going to let go of our “Annual Gathering” and what the heck, let’s just tie in New Years at the same time okay?? Additionally, you would think that me being a professional Wedding Planner would make throwing a personal party easy peasy right? Umm, no. I think sometimes this actually makes things harder. I always want MORE, MORE, MORE when it comes to celebrations and entertaining, but it’s just not realistic when you’re raising babies and growing a business. And, every gathering ISN’T a wedding! Nor should I put that kind of pressure on myself nor should YOU!


In the grand scheme of things life isn’t all about the glitz and glam, it’s truly about celebrating with those you love and simply enjoying each other’s company. Often times I think people get completely paralyzed by the thought of hosting parties because they think in today’s world of “pinterest” and “Instagram worthy” posts that everything has to be PERFECT. I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true. And putting that kind of pressure on yourself isn’t fair to yourself. All that matters is that you’re providing a time and place for sweet memories to be made for yourselves, your families and your friends.


So sweet friends, today let me share with you my simple tips for hosting a home party that is meaningful, fun, yet realistic.


1. Over Invite ~ Yes you heard me right. Over invite and don’t be scared. The truth is people are BUSY. Chances are a good number of guests won’t be able to come and that’s okay. They still appreciate being invited. And having a large guest list allows you a better chance of having a decent actual turn out. 

2. Set a Realistic Budget and Stick to It. ~ This is a hard one for me. But I need a budget when it comes to party planning, otherwise I most certainly will go over the top. But parameters are a good thing. Limitations require you to really think creativity and also relieve the stress and pressure of feeling overspent and remorseful after all is done.

3. Surrender to Perfection ~ You do not need to have the “perfect” home before you allow guests into it. If that’s they way you feel, I beg you to re-wire your thinking. People want to visit with YOU and your family, not your home. Do the best you can with what you have at the time. Keep things tidy, decorate a few areas, but don’t think you need to buy all new furniture.

4. Warm Welcome Area ~ The easiest way to put your guests at ease is to welcome them warmly from the moment they set onsite. Decorate you door, pop out a welcome sign, and if you’re really rocking things, set out a welcome beverage station.

5. Music ~ I truly think a lot of people underestimate the power of music. Music can change up the overall mood instantly and hello….it’s so easy just to turn it on. Make sure that the volume is loud enough to hear but not a competition with being able to have conversations. Also make sure that music is scattered throughout the house (not just in one area.)

6. Accessible Food & Beverage ~ set up your food and drinks in a central area. Make sure that you have your food station equipped with every possible thing that your guests might need: plates, utensils, napkins, condiments, ice, etc.

7. Add in some kind of wow factor ~ guests need to be surprised with some kind of element that they weren’t expecting. For us, this go around it was a Bounce House. (bonus, it kept the kids occupied for hours and kept the noise outside.) Additionally, we had a simple homemade photobooth along with some confetti poppers when we counted down to noon.

8. Set a Schedule ~ Have a set plan in mind ahead of time. A time for a toast, cake, gifts, games, etc. Don’t go into hosting blinding. Take lead and keep your guest's attention flowing from one activity to the next.

Bottom line, don’t let the opportunity to celebrate pass you by just because you’re afraid of not making things perfect. There’s no such thing as perfect ~ anything! Life’s meant to be celebrated, so grab a few party hats and carry on! You deserve to have as much fun as your guests.

 

 

**And lastly, here's a little video of some clips I captured this day, fun times :) 

 

 

 

 

Bounce House: A Child's Joy | Silly Party Favors & Fluff: Party City | Welcome Sign/Letter Board: Hobby Lobby

Modern Luxury Zen Wedding at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain

 

In the spring of 2017 Arizona's Finest Wedding Sites Magazine offered me the opportunity to design one of their covers and 4 page editorial spreads.  I was especially excited when I learned this shoot was taking place at the majestic Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa. This location has truly the best views of the valley as it's nestled atop of Camelback Mountain.

 

After touring this property and climbing up and down the mountainside with a then (very pregnant) Ashley Lopez, Assistant Publisher of the publication (such a trooper) I immediately had a concept in mind.  Something I tell all my clients is to first and foremost, chose a venue that you LOVE.  Secondly, always strive to chose designs that work with your venue, not against it.

 

With that said, I knew that the astonishing views of the Sanctuary needed to be highlighted in a big way.  I also knew that the feeling of tranquility needed to be represented.  You see, the moment I set foot on this property I instantly feel completely relaxed.  And yet, with the natural desert views, and feelings of calmness, the Sanctuary still feels extraordinarily fresh and modern.   And "that's where my concept of "Luxury Modern Zen" was born.  

 

But how do we bring this to life?  It wasn't easy, but with some incredibly talented creative collaborators I think we pulled it off quite well.  For our color palet we decided on green to bring in the ZEN (as greenery was Pantone's color of the year in 2017), along with white and silver to add in elements of MODERN and lastly natural browns/woods to bring in the DESERT and MORE ZEN. 

 

Back to those incredible views....here enters the wild idea of setting up scene on a somewhat slanted side of a mountain.  Yes, we actually set up an entire lounge set with heavy furniture (as the sky teased us with rain clouds.)  But once you see that shot with the praying monk rock formation in the background, you'll realize how much it was worth it, right?  

 

All and all I couldn't be more proud of this shoot. The collaborating creative team was incredible and the freedom yet immense support given by the team at Arizona's Finest was perfection. Thank you again for the amazing opportunity. 

 

Creative Partner Team:

Publication: Arizona's Finest Wedding Sites Magazine | Venue: The Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain | Floral Design: Flowers By Jodi | Photography: CWLIFE Photography | Cake: Kick Ass Kakes | Hair and Makeup: Babydoll Weddings | Bridal Gown: La Bella Bridal Boutique | Jewelry: Syd Jewellery | Paper Details: Posh Invitations | Furniture: Inspired Environments | Groom’s Attire: Mr. Formal | Linens: Southwick Linens | Event Design & Planning: J.Starr Stylized Weddings 

Beautiful Desert Wedding at Troon North Golf Club

Oh Kim and Billy, where do I even begin?  I struggle to write this blog post because it's my last check mark on their wedding file, which makes me kind of sad....as I don't want their wedding planning process to be over.

Because the truth is, Kim and Billy were really special to me.  They hired me to handle their planning along with all of their designing, so we got to spend a lot of time together, therefore Kim and I became really close.  And as much as my clients think I do for them, the truth is they do so much for me, especially Kim.

Let me rewind a bit.  The first time Kim called me to seek out wedding planning services we chatted for about an hour.  At the end of our call I told her I would be out of the office this coming week because "tomorrow I'm having a baby."  Kim gasped "what you're having a baby tomorrow and you let me keep you on the phone this long!"  I explained that talking to her about Wedding Planning was actually helping me to relax. 

The next time I spoke to Kim was a few weeks after having Hunter (my little boy) she officially booked my services.  It was truly a celebratory moment of reassurance for me. Because when you have a new baby there's this process you have to go through trying to "find" yourself again....as a mama, as wife, as a women, and as a business owner.  Kim was the first "J.Starr Bride" I booked after having my third child.  In a way, as I look back it's almost as if she was more a gift to me than I was to her.  I needed to prove to myself that yes, I can still do this even after having my third baby.  And Kim's belief and trust in me was exactly the push I needed at that time in my life.  I couldn't have asked for a bigger client cheerleader than Kim. 

 

Now let's talk about Kim & Billy...

They've been together for nearly twenty years. Though they knew they wanted to marry a long time ago, life experiences with loved ones pushed back their plans.  First, Kim's son got engaged, and Billy wanted to wait to propose so that their engagement didn't overshadow Kim's son's wedding plans in anyway. (meanwhile, Billy already had the ring the entire time.)  Next, their beloved sister in-law last her long battle to cancer.   Billy again postponed the engagement as the family grieved.  Finally, after a very long courtship, these two lovely people married on April 28th, 2017.  It was finally time for them to allow people to pour the love back on then that they most certainly deserve. 

 

The most important thing to Kim and Billy was providing a nice wedding for all of their guests to enjoy.  The majority of their guests where flying in for this event and it was very important to Kim and Billy that all of their guests felt comfortable .  With that they provided a Welcome Reception at The Inn at Eagle Mountain, the Wedding Ceremony and Reception at Troon North Golf Club, and a day after Wedding Brunch titled "Brunch, Bocce & Bags" at the El Chorro Lodge. 

 

The second most important thing was the "look" of the wedding feel natural to Arizona's desert beauty.  Alas we came up with the concept "Desert Elegance." The ballroom of Troon North Golf Club has some stunning views and it was necessary to really let all the natural beauty shine through.  Our entire color palette was based off the belt embellishment on Kim's wedding dress, containing jewel tones and then we complimented them with soft, muted, desert tones.   

The outcome of the day turned out absolutely beautiful.  But honestly, the true beauty came from Kim and Billy.  They are truly two of the kindest, most giving, incredible people.  They make everyone around them feel important and special.  It was truly an honor to be a part of their wedding and it was an experience that will forever remain special to me.   

 

Photography: Jacqueline Hanna Photography | Venue: Troon North Golf Club | Florist: Wild Child | Invitation: Idieh Designs | Music: Sarah Vanell | Cake: Ruze Cake House | Hair & Make-Up: Vidogi Salon | DJ: Rose Bud Entertainment | Groom & Groomsmen Suits: Celebrity Tux & Tails | Bridesmaid Gowns: Suzanne's Bridal Boutique | Wedding Planner: J. Starr Stylized Weddings

Meet the J.Starr Weddings Team

JENNIFER STARR: OWNER, DESIGNER, SENIOR LEAD PLANNER

Meet Jennifer ~ She's an Arizona Native who loves anything and everything about the creative process, a music lover, and completely addicted to being an entrepreneur.  She's truly obsessed with any reason to celebrate, even though cooking is one of her struggle area~ although she's improving. This is mostly because she's the wife of Justin and the mama to her four year old twins Hannah & Emma, and her one year old son Hunter.  Hunter's appetite is the size of football team, forcing this girl to get better in the kitchen.  Her favorite wedding moment is sneaking the couple into their reception room right before their wedding begins and allowing them to see a glimpse of their wedding day vision come to life.   Jennifer's been working collectively in the wedding industry for 12 years & started her company in February of 2011. 

APRIL WARNER: SENIOR LEAD PLANNER

Meet April ~ She's a transplant from Michigan who is a musical fanatic, TV  junkie and intense lover of Disneyland. She makes lists for almost everything she does, even though she's the only person who can read her handwriting. During football season, she never misses a Michigan game.  Her favorite wedding moment is right before the bride walks down the aisle.  She's married to the most incredible man and they have the sassiest little 2 year old...who 100% gets her sass from her mama. She's been working collectively in the wedding industry for 12 years & has been rockin J.Starr Weddings since 2016, and was even a J.Starr Bride herself!

MELISSA BAILEY: LEAD PLANNER

Meet Melissa ~ She's a helpless romantic, married to her hot shot fire fighting husband and mom to two adorable boys and beloved kitty cats. A girly-girl country girl that can still hang with the boys that loves God, her family and friends. In her spare time you can find her watching one of her many favorite movies with a bowl of popcorn by her side or finding something to organize in her home. She loves a great margarita, believes chips and salsa should be served at every meal, and every night looks forward to her coffee the next morning. One day when she tires of this dream, she will be a Professional Latin Ballroom Dancer. Melissa has be rockin' J.Starr Weddings since 2011.

MEET RENATA HODL: LEAD PLANNER

Meet Renata~ "This girl is on fire!" would be her favorite lyrics to sing at karaoke~ that is *if she could* sing ~so instead she'll just rock out in her car. She is a European transplant and has lived in several different states here in the USA. She loves traveling with her young son as he is her favorite travel buddy. Her favorite recent adventure included traveling to Thailand and visiting with the little tigers. If she's not jumping out of a plane, hiking, or lifting some weights she's pursuing her dream in the kitchen of participating on the Food Network's "Chopped" show. Renata has been working with Jennifer Starr since their earliest days in the Wedding Industry ~ a combination of 12 years. Renata loves the excitement and beauty of wedding days and especially loves all things design & floral related.

MEET CHRISTINA GAGLIANO: LEAD PLANNER

Meet: Christina ~ She's a newlywed, fur baby mama, Disney lover and Arizona native who loves the desert and all the unique features it brings. She loves traveling, daily adventures and cuddling up next to her new husband to watch documentaries. During the week Christina enjoys rock climbing at a local gym and trying new restaurants. Her favorite part of the wedding day is telling the couple " it's time" to head to the ceremony~ as each couple have such sweet emotions at that very moment. Christina has been loving working in the wedding industry for 6 years. She's been rockin J.Starr Weddings since 2016, and was even a J.Starr Bride herself!

 

 

Photography: Annie Randall Photography | Venue: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale | Rentals: Glamor & Woods | Hair & Make-Up: Linda Valenzuela | Coffee Truck: Gypsy Cup | Cinematography: Nate Ethington

WIPA Wanderlust Adventure

Recently, I was asked to be the Event Chair for the May WIPA (Wedding Industry Professional Association) Event.  I gladly said YES.  I knew this would be an amazing opportunity for me to be insanely creative, have the chance to work with some incredible people, and put together something really special for my industry peers. 

The Overall Concept:

Two key factors were already in place before I was assigned as the "Event Chair" for this event:  the location and the time.  Knowing that this would be a morning event, I wanted the overall theme to feel fresh.  I also wanted to take into account the venue that it would take place in.  After touring the Hyatt Scottsdale Resort, I felt that it gave a strong feeling of a "Desert Oasis."  I started brainstorming and designing inspiration boards~ I knew the "look" I desired but didn't have the right "name." I then sent over my design board to my BFF, who lives in LA (and happens to be a little bit cooler than me) and asked her...."What is this look?" she replied back with some perfect wording/concept ideas and the "WIPA Wanderlust Experience" was born. 

Next I got busy curating my Creative Team.  I tried selecting team members who I knew could NAIL my vision and who would be easy to work with.  I always try not to get too fixated on everything initially ~ as these types of events tend to flourish themselves when you pick the right people and show them your inspirations.

The Look:

The first place I started was working with Tami from Posh Invitations on  the "Save the Dates." I especially appreciated Tami's amazing patience as there was a ton of pressure on creating the "Save the Date" as it served as the first "visual" into the event.

I worked with "Glamour & Woods" for all of the rental and furniture pieces.  I actually had the opportunity to tour their showroom and warehouse firsthand and was blown away with all of their amazing inventory.  Next we actually all walked and "space planned" the entire venue along with Amy Dressor (Event Sales Manager Extraordinaire of the Hyatt.) The space we had to work with was quite large and we really needed to "fill" the space appropriately yet still make it feel causal and cozy.  The Glamour & Woods team knocked my concept out of the park with the pieces they offered, it truly took my vision to a whole new level.  They also were able to work "with" the venue, not "against it" and I was especially impressed by how in sync their pieces worked with the carpeting in the ballroom~ seamlessly.

Next, I knew I needed to work with Floral Designer that was truly "different." One that could pair a "high end" vibe with a "ultra cool" twist.  Mandy of Butterfly Petals is known in the industry as a true creative.  I can always spot her work out of a crowd because their is always some really interesting element to it. 

For the linens I worked with Laurie & Shelby of Southwick Linens.  They provided all the linens for the high top tables in the cocktail area, and the tables and napkins for the reception.  I always trust Laurie to suggest which linen colors will really work to compliment the look and not overpower or take away from the concept.  We always were very creative with the table layouts (not the normal) so Laurie new exactly how to make the linen sizing "work" with our unique room set up. 

When Crusin Photo Bus agreed to be on board, my beach loving spirit did about ten somersaults, and when Amy (from the Hyatt) agreed to allow us to drive the van INTO the ballroom and serve as a MAIN décor element nestled next to the stage, my Wedding Designing heart jumped for JOY.  I knew that would be key factor in the "WOW" element.   

Jesse Jo, the talented owner of Freed Hands  provided acrylic signs with her signature hand calligraphy that were placed throughout the event, truly telling a "story" as guests experienced each area. 

I brought Karma Lighting onboard to provide the uplighting~ something to really "set the mood." They also provided a beach projection scene of rolling waves on the side wall, giving the entire room a sense of movement. 

Lastly, I needed a true artist to capture this event~ and that's where Andrew & Jade Photography stepped in. Known for their natural & intimate style of photography, I knew they would capture the overall sense of beauty and softness that I needed for this rather untraditional look and feel. 

Additionally, our friends over at Serendipity Cinematography captured our event on video for us.  (see video link below)   

 

Bringing in the Elements of FUN!

Now that I knew the event would look beautiful, I had to ensure that it would be fun!

The talented Linda Valenzuela and her team not only provided the hair & make up for our bride model, they also offered a "Boho Braid Bar" for all of the guests to get their "Wanderlust" look on. 

Dave from Desert House Productions made the party~ "a party" as he played the perfect mix of jams.  I was so thrilled when Dave (a yogi himself) agreed to lead the group in some yoga stretches before we opened the doors for the Reception.

Gypsy Cup~ a traveling café was another WOW piece that I was so thankful to have be a part of the event.  As guests finished their initial passport led tour of the Hyatt, they we greeted by owners: Linsay & Neil's amazing coffee truck.  Each guest was treated to a personalized cup of coffee before they entered the "morning cocktail hour."

I was so thrilled to work with the Champagne Creative Group, they are known for bringing key SUPRISE elements to take any party from an event to an EXPERIENCE.  They provided a strolling carousel with two "wanderlust greeters" to walk through the party serving fresh berries and Greek yogurt parfaits to all of the guests.   

Dane Sanders , author and speaker truly inspired our crowd with his very personal and motivating presentation. 

 Lastly, with this much beauty and excitement I just knew that we had to add a Bride & Groom model into the mix.  I was so happy when my intern: Annamarie and her boyfriend Vinny said YES to modeling.  (special thank you to Annamarie's mom for saying it was okay for her 19 year daughter to ROCK out a wedding dress ;) Annamarie's beautiful gown was provided by Labella Bridal Boutique.   Mary Zarob, of S.W. Wilson Bespoke Clothier has a custom suit created for our Groom model. 

 

The Outcome:

If I can be totally honest, this particular event was an exhilarating total booty kicker for me.  Whenever you host an event for the "Industry" it's completely different than working with my clients.  Don't get me wrong, I put an tremendous amount of energy and love into all of my events...but industry events involve a lot of PRESSURE.  Reason being, the guests attending these events aren't as necessarily easy to "WOW" because they work/live/breath in this wild world.  This means I have to try and find ways to impress and entertain them with things that they haven't seen or experienced before.   

But the really cool part about hosting an industry event, is the outcome.  These people KNOW how much work goes into all of these moving pieces.  I was so appreciative for all the amazing feedback that I received.  Thank you so much to the WIPA Board for asking me to be the Event Chair, thank you to all of the incredible CREATIVE partners that collaborated with me on this, and thank you so much to my team members: April, Melissa, Renata & Christina who showed up at the crack of dawn that morning to SUPPORT me and help me with this event.  This will go down in history as one of my favorite events of all time. 

Link to event video: https://mediazilla.com/ios0ftxb0

 

Photographer: Andrew + Jade Photography | Venue: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch | Florist: Butterfly Petals | Stationary: Posh Invitations | Calligraphy: Freedhands | Rentals & Décor: Glamour & Woods | Hair & Make Up: Linda Valenzuela | Bride's Dress: La Bella Bridal | Groom's Suit: SW Wilson Bespoke Clothiers | Speaker: Dane Sanders | Event Chair: Jennifer Starr | Cinema: Serendipity Cinematography | Linens: Southwick Linens | Lighting: Karma Event Lighting | Photobooth: Crusin' Photo Bus | Entertainment: Desert House Entertainment | Entertainment: Gypsy Cup | Entertainment: Champagne Creative 

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Long

This past winter I had the joy of working with Steven and Lora on their gorgeous wedding.  They choose the incredibly romantic Royal Palms Resort to serve as their wedding location.  I worded mostly with Emilla (the Mother of the Bride) she was so funny and had great taste and I could have listened to her accent lovely accent all day. 

Lora and Steven also had amazing style and true admiration for each other.  One of my favorite memories of that day was getting a glimpse of the slideshow that Steven had made to surprise Lora.  When Lora entered her Bridal Suite guestroom that day, Steven had a slideshow pre staged on her television along with a card. I especially appreciate Steven's sweet gesture as I think he chose the perfect time to have this presented to Lora.  You see, as a Bride the morning and afternoons are filled with so much hustle and bustle as nerves and emotions are high.  But once Lora was onsite at the gorgeous property and she able to relax for a moment in her room, that's when she was presented with the thoughtful gift from her groom, absolutely perfect. 

I also admired how Steven and Lora wanted to take a moment to themselves before joining their cocktail to simple relax and be together for a few moments.  They both just seemed so in tune with the moments that really matter, I really admired that about them.  Visiting all of their guests at their tables during dinner was also very important to this couple, they wanted their guests to feel welcome and appreciated. 

The reception was like a dream, complete with floral chandeliers,  beautiful linens and endless candlelight.  Steven and Lora's Wedding Day was beautiful and meaningful, my most favorite combination.  Congratulations again Steven & Lora, I hope you are enjoying your first year as Newlyweds. 

 

VIEW: Video Highlight

 

Photography: Katrina Wallace Photographers  | Venue: Royal Palms Resort | Florist: Avant-Garde Floral Design Studio |  Cinema: Serendipty | Entertainment: Got You Covered | Officiant: Matt Nathanson |  Wedding Planner: Jennifer Starr & Team