Budget + Guest List Before Venue Selection

The best way for a Bride to completely overwhelm herself is by trying to choose the venue BEFORE she has come up with a budget estimate and the guest list.

That's because looking at venues and getting excited about all the creative aspects of wedding planning is more fun than number crunching and deciding who you like and who you just kinda like.

But believe me as a former bride myself and as a Wedding Planner who has had heart to heart discussions with several brides....I'm telling you...You MUST establish your budget and guests list FIRST.

Ask Yourself These Questions:
(Budget Related) What is your ideal wedding budget?
(Budget Related) What is most important to you? 
(Budget Related) Is it having all of your friends and family there? 
(Budget Related) Is it being able to put a lot into the design and décor?
(Budget Related) Is it being able to have your dream dress?
(Budget Related) Is it being able to have it at the venue of your dreams?
(Budget Related) Is it being able to host a bar for all your guests? 
(Budget Related) What are areas that you're flexible on?
 
(Venue Related) Where do you want to get married? Location in terms of city and state?
(Venue Related) Will your Ceremony take place in a Church or the same location as the Reception?
(Venue Related) How many guests do you plan on inviting?
(Venue Related) Out of those guests how many do you anticipate actually attending?
(Venue Related) Out of those guests how many are children?
(Venue Related) Out of those guests how many are under 21?

Then ask your Wedding Planner is this a realistic budget?  Your Wedding Planner (hopefully yours truly) will explain to what your options are, where you need to increase and decrease. Your planner will then be able to give you a list of optional venues that match what you are looking for...Your planner will then help you determine areas that you're willing to possibly cut back in order to make room for other areas that are more important to  you.  Your Planner will save you tons of time and heartache (from getting your hopes up on aspects that might not fit into your budget).  Your Planner will be able to help you set realistic expectations and help you start to see the vision of your wedding day more clearly. 

 

My Top 5 Romantic Reasons to Visit the Royal Palms

Recently I had the chance to stay at the lavishly romantic Royal Palms Resort and Spa.  After holding many weddings here for my amazing clients, I finally had the opportunity to enjoy the resort myself, and let me tell you~ it was truly heavenly.  I was treated to a "Wedding Planner Fam" (meaning a "Familiarization Stay") at the property. From the moment I stepped foot on property I was wined, dined, and oh so spoiled.  The first night included a "Royal Luau" complete with an over the top canopy of greenery, lanterns, and white floral.  The evening was paired with an amazing four course dinner and a live fire dancing island performance. 

The next morning we were treated to breakfast in the Alegria Garden, a spot where I've walked a good handful of my clients down the aisle.  There was a beautiful low table, stunning flowers, live musicians & even more delicious cuisine and flowing cocktails.  After brunch I was treated to a massage at the beautiful Alvadora Spa, and afterwards I finally felt 100% relaxed.  Then it was time for the pool party complete with yummy food and endless antioxidant mojitos and the chance to relax and chat with many of my fellow Wedding Planner friends. 

The evening ended with a cocktail reception out on the Palmera Patio with again...plentiful food & drinks.  By that time my husband had joined me on property and we stayed an additional two nights and soaked up all that the incredible Royal Palms Resort offered. 

 

This experience inspired me to share some of my top reasons why you need to visit the Royal Palms~ especially if you're looking for a unique experience for your upcoming wedding reception, anniversary dinner, or next staycation.

 

Let me share with you some of my romantic discoveries~

 1.) The Entrance~ The moment you pull into the Royal Palms Resort, you feel the magic. The resort sits at the base of the majestic Camelback Mountain and when you first pull in you are greeted by the original "Royal Palms Mansion" that was built in 1929.  You feel as if you're driving into someone's Spanish Colonial private estate rather than a resort.

You are instantly greeted by the most friendly valet attendants and bellmen.  The resort's front desk feels nothing like your traditional corporate hotel...it's nestled in a small cozy room with beautiful furniture, a fireplace, and a display of signature beverages and cookies~ you instantly feel at home.  

2.) The Love Story~ Oh the Royal Palms Love Story, I may be a sucker for romance but the tale of this beautiful place is really quite special. Did you know that it was built out of an act of love by a husband whose wife was ill and her health required warmer climates?  This couple (Delos & Florence Cooke) were garden lovers and used the majority of their household budget to include rare plants and over 900 palms trees from Egypt, many of which are still standing there today.   

3.) The Hidden Twists & Turns~ Of the many times I've worked at the Royal Palms and even after my recent visit, I've noticed a common feeling ~privacy.  The unique layout of the resort has so many different twists, turns, pathways, patios...that you never really see many people at the resort.  You almost feel as if you have the entire place to yourself. 

4.) The Service~ Many of the staff members have worked at the Royal Palms for years and they always remember me.  Talk about making you feel special and welcome!  This is especially important on Wedding days. It's very apparent that the teams realize how incredibly special these days are for couples and treat them with top notch service!

5.) The Overall Experience ~From the cuisine, the spa, the pool, the rooms.....the entire experience is so romantic and refreshing.  It was honestly hard for me to leave, but thankfully I'll be back soon for some upcoming fall weddings.

 

A special thank you goes out to Emily Anzalone & Nora Narkevic (Event Sales Managers of the Royal Palms Resort) for treating me and my husband to this extraordinary extended weekend.  Thank you for making me fall in love with the Royal Palms Resort even more.

 

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. Gagliano

Christina and Anthony began their romance while in college.  They went to high school together but never dated and reconnected on Facebook.  Anthony "liked" one of Christina's photos and soon after they began chatting regularly.

In high school, Christina said her first impression of Anthony was that he was quiet but was the popular guy in every single sport. Later, she saw him as handsome guy that she wanted to know more about so she dropped by his work (Papa Johns) for a few minutes to see how cute in person he still was!

Christina and Anthony started officially dating when he asked Christina for her number on Facebook.  She responded with it and said "I don't play games" so he texted her right after that.  Anthony asked her to be his girlfriend when they were outside his house one evening. He had an upcoming family get together and asked if he could introduce Christina as his girlfriend.  And of course she said yes!

During their dating relationship, the pair spent everyday with each other!  Right around the time they started dating, Christina's childhood friend, Lakota (a guy), came to live with her for a year. Anthony was skeptical at first due to the fact that his girlfriend had a boy living with her and her family but thankful, Lakota and Anthony became best friends instantly. Christina and Anthony eventually moved to Arizona together after just over a year of dating and continued their relationship for three and a half years.

Christina knew Anthony was "the one" about two weeks in when she remembered thinking "there's something different about this one" and had a feeling she was going to marry him one day.  

The couple's engagement took place at a beautiful castle in Germany.  One month before they went on the trip, Christina asked Anthony when he was thinking about taking the next step with her.  She wanted to be sure they were on the same page.  He said he wanted to wait two years so he could finish paying off his car and a few other items before buying a ring.  Christina understood but told her family and friends that she had to wait another two years.  Little did she know, Anthony had already finished paying off his car and had had the ring custom created.

On the trip to Germany (for Anthony's family vacation), the couple went to tour a castle. While they were taking photos on a bench in a courtyard, Anthony turned to Christina and said "I love you" with a smile on his face.  She replied "I love you too." He said "do you love me a lot?" and she jokingly said "I love you a little." He smirked and said "would you love me more if I told you two years would come sooner?" Confused, Christina replied "no?" He replied "would you love me more if I told you two years would come today?" Still confused she answered "I wouldn't believe you." Anthony then turned and said "would you believe me if I pulled the ring out of my pocket?" At this time Christina was in shock and exclaimed "no!" He reached into his pocket and pulled out a little black box. He stepped off the bench onto one knee and while opening the box asked "will you marry me?" She said yes! They hugged and kissed for a minute and then Christina realized that Anthony's mom and step dad had got the whole thing on camera.  They have some amazing photos of this moment!

Christina said that the most special thing about the engagement was that Anthony wanted to spend his life with her. Out of all the people in this world somehow they had found each other and he picked Christina to be his wife. 

Christina then began planning her special day.  Being that she is in the wedding industry herself, she had seen a lot of trends.  She still went on Pinterest (a lot!) to find what they really loved. The couple knew they wanted it to be outdoors with bistro lights for that romantic starry look. They chose their special day due to the fact that it had the best ratings for good weather. Their "theme" was Fun-Romance and they planned their colors to be Marsala, blush, champagne, gold and ivory.  They had Italian stations for dinner and the couple is still getting compliments on how great it was! Christina and Anthony also chose to have a DJ and MC and then, as a surprise, had two T-Rex's come out on the dance floor during the reception! They also had lawn games such as giant Connect Four and giant Jenga along with corn hole and a ring toss. 

For the couple, the moment that stood out to them the most about their wedding day was the vows! Christina and Anthony read their own vows out loud. They both had a line in their own that was similar to the other's.  When looking back 50 years from now on their wedding day, Christina cherishes the memory of an amazing day with her husband and the special dance with her dads.  She also wishes to remember seeing all of the couples on the dance floor swaying to slow songs and being surrounded by such love.

In their next chapter in life, Christina is most looking forward to traveling for three upcoming weddings in the next year (St Augustine, Orlando and Columbia) and then the couple's own honeymoon in Hawaii.  They also hope to buy a home soon! At the end of it all, Christina said her favorite part of the day is crawling into bed, turning on the TV and cuddling with her HUSBAND.

Photographer (images as shown above): Steph Wahlig Photography | Photographer: Lennon Photography | Venue: Seville Golf and Country Club | Florist: Designs by Jen Colvin  | Beauty: Courtney Ness | Wedding Cake: Crumbs Cake Boutique | Cinema: Amoroma Productions | Photobooth: SnapBooth | Entertainment: Got You Covered | Lighting: Arizona UpLighting | Games: Curtis Whipple | Dress: Stella York via Bella Lily Bridal | Groom/Groomsmen Attire: Mr. Formal | Officiant: Uncle Bret | Rentals & Décor: Material Girls | Rentals & Décor: Native Events | Wedding Planner: Jennifer Starr & Team

3 Tips on Keeping It Real~ for Birthday Celebrations


There I was on a Sunday morning, sitting at my desk weeping. The emotions of life just overtook me for a moment. Here it was the morning of my little guys 1st Birthday Party. I had just come off of a very busy wedding season and I had just wrapped up a huge industry event a few days before. Needless to say, I hadn’t been able to spend a lot of time putting together plans for my son’s 1st birthday… and the “mom guilt” was hitting me hard.
Luckily, my husband recognized that I just needed a moment of calm, and took the kids out for a drive. And there I sat, taking deep breaths and trying to remember the BIG picture. Even being a professional event planner and now a mama of three there are still things that I needed to remind myself of and today I thought I’d share those things with you…..

1.) Give Yourself Permission
Give yourself permission to do whatever you WANT. If you want to throw a big gathering with all your family and friends, do it. If you want to keep things small and intimate with your immediate family, perfect. If you simply want to spend the whole day snuggling, well that sounds pretty amazing too.
Bottom line, do you boo. Your child is happiest when YOU’RE happiest. All that matters to them (especially at age one) is YOUR smile. It’s not about the cake, the gifts, the party décor…it’s about the love that they feel.

2.) Keep Something Simple

Decide what matters most to you at the time and focus on that ONE thing, and go simple on the others. For me, I always LOVE the design/décor aspects of parties. It’s just something that ignites me and I simply can’t fight it. Even if I do something super duper simple, I still want a certain area of the event to have some kind of wow statement. So with this….I focused on one table~ that’s it and for the first time ever (kinda sad, I know) I made a birthday cake. I do believe it was the first cake I’ve ever made in my entire life, like ever. Apparently, my little boy owns my heart. But that’s all the food I prepared. A family member picked up catering (Sub Sandwiches) on the way over -simple.


3.) Enjoy the Small Moments

Once the event actually starts happening. You MUST let go and enjoy. Don’t stress over silly things. The moments that you don’t actually plan for are always the most fun and memorable ones. But you have to let go of your expectations and let the moments take their own course. (it’s taken me years to learn this.) Laugh, smile, take a few photos, and soak in life, because you DESERVE to ENJOY.

It was a "roaring" good time!

 

 

* All Party Supplies Come From: Party City

 

 

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Davies

For Megan & Zach it all started shortly after high school, when they both attended a friend's graduation party.  Zach, being the smart guy he is, made the first move by asking a friend for Megan's number.  It didn't take long for them both to realize that marriage was in their future.  After a couple months in, they knew that what they had was extremely special. 

Zach and Megan dated for five years before getting engaged.  What really sealed the deal for them was being thrown into a long distance relationship and becoming even stronger because of it. Zach's baseball career was taking off and Megan was completing her studies at Arizona State University.  Although there were many trials of being in a long distance relationship, this only strengthened them all the more.  Megan was committed to being Zach's biggest fan and enduring the travels and joys of being immersed in the baseball world. 

Zach proposed in Seattle, Washington.  There, he took Megan to Alki Beach during the sunset.  Zach, had cleverly arranged to have Megan "FaceTime" with her best friend.  Her best friend had dressed Megan & Zach's dog's up, and even had a sign behind them that said “Will You Marry Me?”  This, was a surprise to Megan.  Though she had an idea that Zach could be proposing soon, she had no idea when. Zach's proposal meant so much to her because he involved their beloved dogs; Zooey and Penelope.  Megan herself is a huge animal lover and their dogs are considered their children, so having them a part of the engagement was very special to her. 

Megan and Zach chose El Chorro in Paradise Valley for their wedding location. The moment they stepped foot onto the property they both knew they wanted to get married there.  Their wedding date of December 3rd, 2016 was chosen because it was "off season" for baseball.  Megan tends to "freeze" quite easily and was concerned about it being too cold, but as it turned out they were delivered a gorgeous 70 degree wedding day.

Megan really wanted her overall look for the wedding to compliment their chosen venue.  They chose El Chorro because of it's incredible desert landscape and view of Camelback Mountain.  Her main focus when planning the design elements was to make sure that they weren't drawing their guests attention away from the natural beauty of the venue but still giving it that extra touch for a more romantic feel. 

Looking back on the wedding day now, Megan and Zach both agree that their most special day was genuinely perfect and felt like a dream, the best dream you could possibly ever imagine.  They had many out of town guests that flew in for their wedding day.  Zach and Megan say that "knowing that so many people from all over the country came to be there for our wedding day was very special for the both of us."

The newlyweds are now most excited about "being together, especially during his baseball season ~ no more long distance!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographer: Daniel Kim | Venue: El Chorro | Florist: Sarah's Garden | Hair: Ashley Petty Hair | Make Up: Amanda Bland | Wedding Cake: a Bakeshop | Cinema: Cineprose Films | Entertainment: Bolt Entertainment | Entertainment: Emotion String Quartet | Photo Booth: Foto Booth Bus | Stationary: Freed Hands | Travel & Accommodations: JW Marriott Camelback | Brides's Gown: Hayley Paige | Groom's Suit: Magro Clothing | http://magroclothing.com/ | Wedding Planner: Jennifer Starr & Team, J.Starr Stylized Weddings

 

 

A Love Note to My Valentines...

Dear Justin, Hannah, Emma & Hunter,

 

 Happy Valentine's Day My Loves!

Wow, how did I ever deserve 4 Valentines?  You all fill my heart with more joy than I ever imagined and today I thought I'd share with you a few reasons why....

Hannah & Emma~

At age four, you two are really something else.  And to see you two together, as best friends....laughing and scheming everyday is quite a sight.  The love you have for each other is a relationship that is like no other.  One minute you two are in your own little world, deeply entrenched in whatever kind of imaginary game you are playing, the next minute you're completely enraged at each other for often time situations that I can't ever really figure out....only to be best buddies again moments later. 

Currently your favorite things to do are: color, paint, play outside in the backyard, help us to cook meals, and you LOVE to decorate for the holidays with me.  Your favorite toys at the moment are: your remote control dinosaur, your "dolly" house, STICKERS (they're currently all over nearly every wall of the house), and your puzzles. 

Funny things you say...Emma, whenever you get mad (like really mad) at your sister, I hear you call her "an old lady" in your meanest most serious voice.  "Awe, come here you old lady!"  I have NO idea where your heard this or WHY you say this but it makes me laugh so hard!

Justin,

Forever my valentine.  Just when we thought life couldn't get any wilder.....Hunter Dean came along and rocked our worlds.  Little did I know I would fall in love with you even more deeply.  Seeing you become a Dad has been one of the most heartfelt things that I've experienced.  Seeing you with them....seeing you all happy...is my ultimate joy. 

You my love, are an incredible husband and an amazing father.  Our family is happy (and functional) because of you.  Thank you for loving us. 

My Little Hunter,

Where in the world did you come from and where have you been all my life?  YOU little boy, have completely stolen my heart.  I melt every time I see your smile.  And your SMILE is one in a million. People stop in their tracks anytime I take you anywhere and you flash your GIANT smile. 

You are the happiest little guy and our family is so much more complete with YOU.  You have  captured the heart of not only me, but also your sisters and your daddy. 

Hannah Jane,

My little HJ, my little Nanna.....

You remain so "tough" yet so "Intense."  Your personality still reminds me so much of your Daddy.  You are so focused, patient, and determined at whatever the task is you're working on.  Yet, when you wrap your arms around me, bat your eyelashes and say "I love you Mommy" your "toughness" melts away.  I love the way you run, I love to watch you concentrate when you draw.  You're quite the little artist...in fact your entire room currently has your "art gallery" displayed in it.  You still hold tight to your "Piggie" and every night when you go to bed you have "Piggie" next to you and you rub his soft ears.   

Trikes and Tutus...my dainty little rough and tough girls.

Emma Louise,

My Emmie Lou, my little Lou Who.....

YOU are such a goofball.  Honestly little girl, I never understood myself as much before until I met YOU.  Granted I don't think I've been as naturally goofy as you are, but you definitely have similar personality traits as your mama.  You love people and parties.  You always want to know "what are we gonna do next?"  and then you say "OH, that would be so FUN, I so excited!!"  When you get your mind set on something....LOOK OUT world, you're not  giving up on your idea easily, that's for sure.  You always care about others...especially your sister.  You're always making sure that if something is given to you, you always ask "for Hannah's too?"  Me and your Daddy never really know what you're going to say or do next, you keep us on our toes that for sure. 

On Sunday we kept our Valentine's Day tradition.  This has been something we've been doing since Hannah and Emma were born.  Emma at first was terrified of the "baboons." She once saw one float away and has yet to recover from that tragic accident.  But despite the fear of the "baboons" she eventually warmed up to them. 

Hunter just went with the flow. Just like he always does.  He was born into a loud, constant family and just fits right in quite perfectly. 

 

 And my little tornado twosome...loved every moment. They're always excited for fun times and new adventures!

Happy Valentines Day to my Sweet Little Family,


Thank you all for being MINE.  I love you all so much and feel so lucky that I get to spend every wild and crazy day with all of you.  I love you all more than my heart can handle, you are my everything.

LOVE, Mom.

P.S. Hunter, you better stop being SO CUTE!!!

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Sabouneh

Misty was completely relaxed on her wedding day and ready to marry her best friend.  She'd been awaiting this day for a long time and the day was finally here!

Misty's bridesmaids were quite stunning and all wore long beautiful gowns by Bill Levkoff.  Misty's gown was by Katie May and looked like absolute perfection on Misty.  All the beautiful floral details were the creative work of Avant- Garde.

Ryan looked very dapper and handsome.  He was so excited to see Misty.  He had actually proposed to Misty nearly two years in the same garden at the Royal Palms where they would now get married. 

Not only was Misty relaxed and happy she also looked luminous. 

Misty and Ryan's color choices paired so nicely with the beautiful twists and turns of the enchanting Royal Palms Resort.

Finally it was time for Ryan and Misty to have their "First Look."

Misty was ready and Ryan couldn't wait any longer. 

Finally, it was time....time to as Ryan would say "lock down this unicorn."

Once they saw each other for the first time they both seemed all the more relaxed and ready. 

And right about this time...the weather started getting a little crazy....

The wind was blowing, lightening was striking, and few raindrops had started falling. 

We were either going to proceed with the scheduled ceremony time, or do a "reverse" cocktail hour and let the storm pass.  Misty made the final call and said "let's do this, and let's do this now."

At that time Misty had changed out of her dress and shoes (to be comfortable) and all of her Bridesmaids were still dressed. 

Misty got back into her dress and shoes, while her girls were doing touch ups, looking for shoes, and packing up their purses and such.

All of a sudden with olympic speed, Misty comes walking through the doorway, completely dressed, before all of her girls and starts walking towards the Ceremony Site.  At that time her girls in record time came chasing after her.  It was quite an impressive thing to witness.

Misty was all smiles and ready to marry Ryan. 

As the wind welcomed her down the aisle, Misty was handed off to her best friend.  The Ceremony was performed by one of Misty and Ryan's dear friends. 

Everything about their ceremony was personalized, so meaningful, and yet so fun.

They were now "official."

It was time to celebrate!

They were so relieved and so happy. 

The guests enjoyed cocktail hour the newlyweds snuck a few romantic photos. 

The Royal Palms was so perfect as it has so many romantic twists and turns. 

Everything about the resort felt so private and special. 

These two had been waiting a long time for this moment. 

As their relationship started as friends, and grew into best friends. 

The night continued with a delicious meal.  The main course was a duet entrée of petite beef tenderloin paired with a butter roasted jumbo shrimp. 

At the end of the night they even surprised all of their guests with a late night fare display of house made pizza, (pizza is a big deal to Misty & Ryan) tenderloin sliders and potato fries. 

It was quite evident how loved Misty and Ryan are by their family and friends.  It's safe to say that these two will continue dancing through life and laughing together every step of the way. 

 

 

 

 

CREATIVE PROFESSIONALS INCLUDE:

Photography By: Chard Photographer

Hair & Make Up By: Michael Franco

Floral By: Avant-Garde Floral Design Studio

Bride's Gown: Katie May Collection

Venue: Royal Palms Resort

Planning: J.Starr Stylized Weddings

3 Steps to Build a Beautiful Foundation for Your Reception

 (Photo By Rachel Solomon Photography)

 

Steps to Build a Beautiful Foundation for Your Reception 

Yeah, you've officially booked your venue and your wedding date! Congratulations, that is a huge check mark on the "to do" list! What do you do next?  Well, often times after a venue search things can be left very scrambled in your head.  But please don’t start overwhelming yourself by jumping ahead…let’s start with your foundation.


1.)    Confirm what’s included.
Read thru your venue notes and your contract.  Make a list of everything that’s included with your venue.  What do the chairs look like for the ceremony, what about the reception?  What type of existing furniture does the venue already have in place?  What type of linens are included?  Are they lap length or floor length? What colors do they come in? What about napkins?  Does the venue offer any type of centerpiece options?  What about vases?  Do they offer candles?  Uplights?  What are the table options? Really understand everything that is included and everything that is not included, before you move forward with any of your décor decisions. 

2.)    Decide on Your Colors
Really consider your venue, the season, and your overall personal style.  It’s important that your colors work with your venue and not against it.  It’s important to consider the season due to weather and your floral options.  And of course you’ll definitely what your colors to reflect you and the style that speak to you.  


3.)    Select Your Linens
Start by choosing your linens.  This will be helpful for you do even before selecting your bridesmaid’s dresses or invitations.  Decide on whether or not you’d like to use the linens that are provided by the venue of if you’d like to upgrade to specialty linens.  Linens make a HUGE impact on the overall look of your reception, and the options are endless.  I recommend making an appointment with a rental company to visit their showroom in person.  Once you’ve selected your linens, your foundation for your reception will be laid and you can then begin building on top of it with all the other beautiful layers (floral, beautiful menus and paper products, and candlelight.)


With Sincerity & Style,
        Jennifer Starr, J.Starr Stylized Weddings

6 Tips for Turning Your Grind into Accomplished Goals

 

 

 Hi Friends!


How's it going?  Today I thought I would share some insight into turning goals into reality.  I'm no expert in this area, but I'm definitely a big believer in setting yourself up for a life that you love, because you DESERVE it.  Often times, I think we all get caught up in the hamster wheel of the daily grind....running, running, running but not necessarily feeling like we're actually going anywhere.  I've  been caught in this hamster wheel myself at times, but today I thought I would share ways that I fight through the daily whirlwinds to actually make some stuff happen.
The best news, it's not too late.  Honestly, I think the whole "New Years Resolution" sets people up for failure.  I mean think about it....right after you come off of the holiday extravaganza you're suppose to start off the new year on day one having goals set?  I just don't think this is realistic.  In fact, I have taken this entire month to set my goals and schedule them into my calendar. (more on that in just a few.)

 

LET'S DIG IN


1.) Set Goals
Sounds easy right?  But yet only a few amount of people actually do this.  By setting goals your have to take some serious time and write them down.  They must be specific and measurable goals with a deadline. 
2.) Be Vulnerable
Share your goals with someone.  Depending on what your goals are...this could be a fitness expert, a business coach, your spouse, or even a friend.  It's okay to have big goals and it's okay to say them out loud.  Because guess what?  It's so encouraging to be able to have some support along the way. 
3.) Make Them Visible
Post them in a place where you see them often...your planner, your desktop screen saver, your wallet , print them out and tape them to your bathroom mirror ~whatever works best for you. 
4.) Be Gentle with Yourself
Don't expect perfection and certainly don't give up if you fall off step a bit.  Life happens.  People get sick, relatives come into town, pop up meetings occur....give yourself a little grace and little blank space once in awhile to recollect yourself. 
5.) Schedule Them
This makes all the difference in the world.  Once you've set your goals, then you have to break them down into action steps and schedule them.  Blocking time in your schedule for each goal, makes them a priority in your life and at the same time visually shows you that yes, you do actually have time to work on your goals. 
6.) Celebrate Your Successes
When you accomplish something, celebrate! Tell someone, treat yourself to a massage, go on a vacation, do anything.  Life is hard and hitting goals you set for yourself is a BIG deal!  People want to celebrate YOU in your happy moments!
 
NUGGETS OF INFO THAT HAS HELPED ME RECENTLY:


Make It Happen/Intentional Goal Planner:
This has become an incredible tool in my life lately.  I've always been a goal setter but I've never "dug in" so deeply before.  The mind blowing thing that happened to me was, after working through the initial worksheets....my goals actually changed a little.  They definitely become more clear in some areas.  Honestly I was hesitant to purchase the "2017 Make it Happen /Intentional Goal Planner" at first, but so far it's been making a big difference in positive ways. 
*Here is a link to some free downloads to give you an idea of what using the powersheets are like
 
Marie Forleo's Video on Goal Setting
This video was impactful for me.  There are the people who don't set goals at all, and then there are people that set way too many goals (that's me!) I loved how this video suggests pruning down your goals...I needed to hear this in a BIG way.  If you're not use to Marie's quirky style...give it a minute, you'll be inspired. 


The Day Designer
This was a Christmas gift that I bought myself.  I've always been a pencil/paper kind of girl when it comes to "planning."I spend way too much time at the computer already, so I really prefer to keep my planner as a physical product.  I love being about to map things out, erase things and I especially love crossing things off.  Using this, paired with the Make it Happen /Intentional Goal Planner, has definitely been my jam lately and I'm loving it. 


Emily Ley Free Printable Library
I also use these worksheets quite often as well.  I print out  the weekly calendar each week to list out our family schedule and tape it to the kitchen cupboard.  This is a great way to quickly reference life.  It may be a little redundant but it works for us.  This is the calendar that Justin (my husband) looks at.  I use this same planner for meal planning.  I use the monthly calendar when paying bills. 
 
Bottom line, you just have to find what works best for you, and do it!  I hope this information was helpful for you in some way. 
 

SPEAKING OF VULNERABILITY:

Maybe in the coming weeks, I'll share with you the nine recent goals that I'm currently working on...stay tuned.

 

 


I'm cheering for you over here,  
Jennifer Starr,  J.Starr Stylized Weddings
 
 

Honest Ways to Alleviate Stress in the Final Stages

(Photo By: Brooke Photography)

Hello Friends ~

Especially those friends in the middle of planning a wedding...

First of all, please allow me to give you a virtual hug and a pat on the back. I understand planning a wedding is hard, it’s time consuming, and it never ends. It really is like having a second job, especially if you haven’t hired a wedding planner. So let’s talk about ways to alleviate some of that stress in your final stages, shall we?

 1. You can skip the cake tasting
It is a fun part of the process, but if you don’t have time, skip it. Request a phone appointment, email over some design ideas that you have, and select your cake flavor without actually tasting them. Chances are they’ll still be delicious, if you’ve chosen a reputable company.

2. Surrender the Party Favors.
Honestly, most of them end up being left on the tables at the end of the night and get tossed out anyways.

 3. Allow the DJ to Select Your Music.
Inform the DJ of the genre of music you like and let he/she do the rest. They know the songs that get dance floors moving.

 4. Let go of the seating chart and paper products.
If you didn’t hire a professional to design these for you (and you were planning on creating these items yourself) let it go. Open seating will be just fine.

 5. Stop looking at Pinterest!
Remove that app off your phone until the wedding day is over. The colors you have chosen are perfect, your dress is perfect, your guest book is perfect. Seriously, please do not torture yourself by flooding your brain with every wedding idea in the world.

6. Ask for Help.
Again, if you didn’t already hire a wedding planner, you still have time. Many planners (myself included) offer a “Final Planning” service. This will save you loads of stress and worry and will be an investment that you will never forget. This is meant to be a fun time in your life, let a professional help you bring this beautiful day to life for you.

Until next week,
Jennifer Starr
J.Starr Stylized Weddings

The Best Parenting Advice Ever Given to Me...

I have three little tiny teeny people.  Yes, I’m the proud mama of my twin 3 ½ year-old girls and my 3-month little boy and they rock my world.  Truth be told, there was a time not so long ago, that I ached to be a mama so bad I feared that it might not happen.  You see, my husband and I were married for 8 years before we started our family. 


Looking back now, I’m incredibly thankful for the years we had together alone before having kiddos.  During those eight years, my husband completed a lot of schooling, a lot.   Also during that time, we endured the sudden loss of my mother in law.  These factors kept postponing (and understandably so) our timing to start our family. 

Finally, my husband completed his program, and our hearts were slowing healing.  It wasn’t too long before we realized we were pregnant, with TWINS (yes, naturally)!  As soon as that happened the flood gates opened and I was bombarded with “the baby world.”  I received tons of mail, magazines, emails, unsolicited advice….it was truly information overload for this girl.  And if I’m being completely honest, there was a part of me that was really scared about losing “me”.  Don’t get me wrong, I wanted this more than anything and I was overjoyed that we were having twins…but at the same time, I was worried.

I was worried that being a mom would take over my identity. 

It wasn’t until one day I was talking to my OBGYN (I believe we were discussing breastfeeding at the time) and she looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Whatever makes YOU the happiest, will make YOUR children the happiest.”

I tell you what, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t repeat those words to myself.  Those words are applicable in nearly every aspect of parenting life.

Breastfeeding moms, corporate moms, stay at home moms, and freaks like me = Mamaprenuers. 

The truth is, being a parent is hard.  And the hardest part…is how critical we can be of ourselves when it comes to parenting.  Because raising children doesn’t stop, it’s constant and continuous.  And “mom guilt” is the WORST.

I should be home right now; my kids miss me.  We shouldn’t go on a stay- cation, we should use that money towards swim lessons, uggh the house should be cleaner and more organized for my family.  The thoughts go on and on. 

But at the end of the day…it goes back to the question “Was I a happy mom today?” Sure, not every day is always YES…but I think if most days can be YES…then I feel like I’m doing alright.  And the best part, this has definitely helped me immensely with “finding myself in being a mom.” I didn’t lose myself afterall.  Sure my responsibilities of being a mother require the largest part of my life, but I’m still able to be me and do the things I love to do.  Though, they may be limited, planned out way in advance, and require some budgeting tweaks… but all in all my little people continue to help and challenge me become a better person. 

So to my fellow mamas or soon to be mamas….ask yourself “what makes YOU happy” and continue to do it, it’s “okay.”  I’m sending you a virtual hug,  and I’m here if you need a sitter too…heck it’s already a circus around here J  

3 Advantages to Doing a "First Look"

(Photo by Chard Photography)

Today let’s discuss one of the first questions your photographer is likely to ask you:
Do you want to do a First Look (sometimes called a First Meeting) or do you want to do a Traditional Timeline?
What does this mean?
A First Meeting = You see each other before the ceremony in your formal attire.
A Traditional Meeting = You wait and see each other at the ceremony.
What are my thoughts? Bottom line, you must do what feels right in your gut. Yes, there certainly are many advantages to doing a First Meeting but you must be comfortable with this idea.
Advantages Include:

1. Calming the Nerves
Every single wedding I’ve been involved with, always includes lots of nerves before the couple sees each other for the first time. The very moment they set eyes on each other and embrace, you can instantly see the nerves fall away, they relax their shoulders, loosen their smiles, and breath. It’s as if in that moment they remember what it’s really all about.  Often times seeing each other before the ceremony helps the couple to enjoy more of their day because they are relaxed.
 
2. More time with Family and Friends
Great news, once you’ve done your “First Meeting” you can then take your family and bridal party photos BEFORE the ceremony. This is a huge PLUS. Everyone has fresh hair, make up, attention spans and they’re still SOBER (hopefully).
 
3.The Golden Light is Spent Just on YOU!
With all of the family and bridal party photos done, this means the Photographer gets to spend a nice chunk of time with you two during the best lighting of the day! Just imagine how beautiful your wedding photos will be! Your family and bridal party will actually get to enjoy the cocktail hour while you get in some alone time together (along with your photographer). Having your VIPS be a part of the cocktail hour definitely creates a better overall energy with all of your guests. Your family will love being able to mingle with all of your guests and your bridal party will definitely appreciate being “off duty” during this time.


Happy Planning
Jennifer Starr

J.Starr Stylized Weddings

How I Find Appreciation in the Daily Chaos

We now live in a time period of fast, instant, and digital.  For many reasons this is great, and other for reasons not so much.  A few years ago my belated sweet Granny said “I don’t like those digital camera things, I never get photos from you anymore.” Uggh, those words tug at my heart so much. 
It wasn’t until recently that I learned how to infuse my digital brain with my memory keeping heart. This is where “Project Life” comes into play. 

There’s a few different ways to use Project Life, but my favorite is by using the Project Life App. The app is super easy to use, very user friendly. 


Every week I spend some time going through my weekly photos and putting together a few layouts.  Then I journal about my recent thoughts, cute things my little ones say, and listing out our day to day happenings.  This app makes doing this super quick, like maybe only 30 minutes per week, it’s almost therapeutic for me in some ways.


This helps me to appreciate my life so much.  You see, there are so times when I go to bed each night feeling exhausted, frazzled, and a little defeated.  But when I take some time to reflect back on my day or the week…I feel so much better! It makes me realize how many wonderful moments that happened, even the crazy, stressful, wild moments become sweet when reflected on later. 

Then the best part is printing out the pages, slipping them into page protectors, and inserting them in an album for my family to enjoy.  I love this because it’s not a bound book, it’s an ongoing process.  You also have the options of inserting tangible memorabilia if you want to. (like concert stubs, kid’s drawings, love notes, etc.)

Then I display in our album in a place in our home (opened up) for our family to be able to flip through it easily as they pass by.  I love moments when I catch my girls glancing through it.  It’s really cool hearing them point out loved ones and reflecting back on fun things that we did. 

I simply love that we have a physical album of our memories.   Our sweet memories aren’t just sitting in files on our computer never being shared or appreciated.  I hope this is something I can keep up with for a long, long time.  I hope one day to have a big beautiful bookcase in our family room filled with albums of our special times. 

If memory keeping is special to you, I highly, highly recommend you check out Project Life, I’m quite sure you’ll love it. 

With Sincerity & Style, Jennifer Starr
J.Starr Stylized Weddings

3 Small Items Most Couples Forget on their Wedding Day

Photo: Still Life Studios, Bouquet: Wild Child Floral Design

1. Card holder
Yes, something to “hold” your cards (which most likely will contain money). Consider a basket, a bird cage, a decorative box—basically anything that can serve as a holding device to keep all your valuable cards from floating all over your gift table. This doesn’t have to be a tacky white box, it can certainly be something stylish that blends nicely with the rest of your décor. It’s a good idea to assign a family member or best friend to look after this item.


2. Specialty pens
Consider what type of pens you would like your guests to use for signing your guest book (or guest book alternatives). Couples often spend time and money on beautiful keepsake materials but forget about the pens, guests often end up having to use a ball point pen from the resort’s front desk.


3. Remove all the wrapping and price tags
Remove all the wrapping/packaging and price tags ahead of time. This will save you, your wedding planner, or the catering staff tons of precious time on the day of your wedding. Consider these items and anything else you might have incorporated; photo frames, favor boxes, unity candle, champagne flutes, dress, jewelry, garters, etc. Have all of your personal items “show ready."
 

 


Until next time,
Jennifer Starr
J.Starr Stylized Weddings