Aug. 3 2017
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.
Jul. 2 2017
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
Jan. 30 2017
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
Nov. 21 2016
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
Nov. 21 2016
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
Aug. 31 2016
How's everyone doing? Welp, here I am...determined to someway, somehow get back to blogging on the regular. I've missed it. This year has certainly been a wild one but definitely an amazing ride. And guess what? Everyone in my home is napping right now....shhh. (don't jinx it!). And guess what else? It's September! This is especially exciting if you live in Arizona, like myself...because this summer has been a HOT one. And having to keep three teeny tiny ones primary inside is NUTS. So cheers to better weather ahead, YES.
Today I thought I'd share a few ways that have helped me, especially recently in the past few months. Adjusting to adding a new baby to mix, while running a business and household has been an adventure thus far...but I think my biggest struggle has been the sleep deprivation. At times I get frustrated with myself and with life...and ask myself how I am going do everything I want to do? And that's the time when I usually do the following things:
1.) Brain Dump.
Don't worry about making it pretty, or keeping your thoughts organized...just get them out of your head and on paper. This helps immensely and takes the stress away from trying to remember everything.
2.) Turn the Music Up.
Blare it. In the car, in the kitchen, in the shower. I find some of my best ideas in the middle of songs.
3.) Shake Up Your Space.
Rearrange your desk area, buy a new piece of art for your wall, treat yourself to a fresh floral arrangement to sit in the middle of your dining room. Finding new appreciation for places that you see on the daily, definitely helps.
4.) Move It.
Exercise, even if it's a simple as walking. Those endorphins are real things and can be instant mood boosters. Did you know that there a few indoor walking tracks in Arizona? Yes, they do exist.
I have a list of 8 people that hangs on my wall next to my computer. These are people who inspire me for different reasons...as business owners, as wedding planners, as moms, as writers, and in the health/fitness industries. All of these people have blogs, webinars, and books. When I need feel some extra inspiration I turn to my list and find myself listening to one of their videos. Sometimes just listening to another human share their struggles and successes can be very inspiring.
P.S. How cute is the little boy?
And there ya go peeps, I hope you were able to find something helpful above. My goal is to continue blogging twice a week moving forward on Wednesdays and Fridays ~so hold me to it :)
Chat Again Soon!
Jennifer StarrJ.Starr Stylized Weddings
Feb. 3 2016
Full disclosure, one of the hardest things for me to do is “be normal,” when it comes to hosting special gatherings. It’s a huge challenge for me and really places me SMACK dab in the middle of the “professional” me and the “personal me.”
You see as a Wedding Planner I work with beautiful details, extraordinary images, and magical moments. I’m in the business of making people’s most expensive day come to life. Often times it’s hard for me not to put this pressure on myself when it comes to my personal life events (birthdays, dinner parties, themed events, etc). But yet, at the core of who I am…I believe so strongly in entertaining and celebrating with family and friends on a regular basis. The struggle is REAL, ask those that know me well.
Nowadays, we’re about to have child #3, and I’ve been making big investments in my growing business. This makes our “entertaining budget” more limited. But you know what? …that’s where the real creativity lies…it’s just about digging for it.
I often hear from my sweet clients a similar story. They’ve invested so much money into their Wedding Day, that they feel stretched when it comes to their Bridal Shower, Bachelorette Party, and Rehearsal Dinner. Yet, they still feel huge amounts of pressure about making them look so beautiful.
Please allow me to share:
J.Starr's 5 Secrets:
How to Host a Creative, Yet Cost Effective Party.
(Me and My Lumberjack Crew)
1.) Choose a FUN Theme.
Choose a theme that automatically lends itself to creating a fun atmosphere. This takes an enormous amount of pressure off of providing lavish and grand décor. A theme forces you to really pin point your direction, and allows you to get silly with your ideas
For our Baby Shower Celebration, I chose the theme, “The Great Outdoors." Not only was this a fairly easy concept to pull off, the theme also "hints" at the name of our Baby Boy to Be.
All in all, I believe we spent a total of $150.00 for the décor. That includes the invitation, signage, the rope and twine, and the paper products for the food. Everything else you will see in the post was borrowed or we already owned. (like I said we do a lot of entertaining).
2.) Be Resourceful
I love a fun entryway. I think it really helps to enhance the guest experience. Again, you don't have to be "glam" by any means...you just have to "paint the picture."
Think about borrowing items for your décor. Who can you ask? We borrowed a ton of décor from my parents. My dad is big time camper and hunter, so he had tons of gear. Have fun with this part of the process, it's amazing how many options there are for event décor once you start thinking of ideas.
I love a good "Warm Welcome." From the moment your guests step foot onsite at your event they need to feel welcomed and excited. A simple way to do with is with signage and props. It's a great way to get your guests excited about what's to come next!
And yes, that's a "real" bear's head. Just one of my Dad's many hunting trophies.
This pretty display was one of my favorite areas of the party. It hung in our front "formal" room that guests first walked into. Between my mom and myself we already owned all the wood balls, the wreath, and framed signs. The only thing that I bought was the prints of the plaid deer heads which we found online and had printed at Costco. The boxwood greenery that was tucked into the wreath came from my mom's backyard.
We did preset a mini photo area (predetermined by where the "best light" would be in our backyard at the time of the day). We had a prop table set up with various props from my dad's camping shed. My mom had found the cute wood sign at an antique shop and I added the "Happy Campers" saying to it with...get this, white out.
3.) Make it Personal
I'm a big fan of photos and storytelling. We hung a plaid and burlap banner in our front room. The banner included photos of my pregnancy. An ultrasound photo, the photo we snapped just moments after finding out that we're having a boy, the photo of the moment we revealed "the sex" to my parents, the photo we snapped right after I broke the news to Justin...and so on. Guests love knowing the stories, behind the story. It's a fun way to share your most special moments with your loved ones.
We also decorated using framed photos of my Dad and my Brother's hunting "wins." Along with many props from my Mom. A very simple tablescape greeted everyone as they entered.
Yep, you guessed it. Those are our tents and our Christmas trees. (yes, I display three each year ~ just love me, okay?) And those wood stumps were found on the side of the road, and the pinecones came from some neighborhood yards.
Also, as much as I LOVE dressing up for theme parties...sometimes guests do not. Choosing a theme that doesn't require your guests to have to go out and buy something specific for the party, makes it easier. I'm quite certain most of our attendees, sported some camping wear that was already found in their closets.
The food was so much fun! At least for me, as I didn't have to prepare any of it. Yes, we hosted our Shower Celebration, but a group of my best girlfriends + my mom Co Hosted. They provided all of the food and beverages. And yes of course, it was all "on theme."
4.) Create an Experience
And with some white twinkle lights, ropes strung with burlap and plaid, and a few more camping chairs and props...we felt like we were at a real campout. For our party we wanted to be able to invite all of our close family and friends of all ages...and this concept made for a fun and family friendly environment.
One of my favorite quotes:
"May this House Always Be Too Small to Hold All of Our Family & Friends."
5.) Have Fun
Have Fun! Yes, isn't having fun what it's all about? I think as a host it's important to always include a few "activities" to keep your guests attention engaged. Have you heard of the "Newlywed Game?" It's often a big hit at Wedding Receptions...this was the same idea, but with the twist being "Parenthood." "Who's most likely to lose a child?", Who's the better disciplinarian? Who was ready to have the 3rd Child first?".
The Desserts! One of my creative Co Hosts made these darling little desserts and the kiddos went NUTS for them! They were practically knocking down the baby gate trying to get to this display as she was setting it up. It was such a fun way to continue the theme.
So again, to recap....it's not always about having a huge budget, or having loads of time to plan and decorate...it's just about making it happen!
1.) Choose a FUN Theme
2.) Be Resourceful
3.) Make it Personal
4.) Create and Experience
5.) Have Fun!
Don't put too much pressure on yourself. I know this is often the reason why people don't like to "host." Just remember at the end of the day it's about creating memories with people you love. People simply enjoy good times and being together.
With Style and Sincerity,
J.Starr Stylized Weddings