Feb. 11 2018
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.
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
Feb. 11 2018
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.
Feb. 9 2018
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
Nov. 6 2017
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
Oct. 16 2017
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!
Oct. 16 2017
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 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.
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
Sep. 19 2017
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.
Aug. 16 2017
Awe, this little man…he certainly has captured my heart. I never knew having a little BOY could be so amazing, especially after being a mama to my twin girls. But today I thought I would confess something to you all…losing the “baby weight” after having him has been HARDER and a much SLOWER process than losing the “babies” weight after his sisters. If you’ve been following my blog for a few years you may remember that I was able to lose a total of 49lbs after my twins using the Weight Watchers program. Well, I’ve been back at again after having Hunter (granted this time I have less to lose, thank goodness.) So far, it’s been a super slow process, but I have lost 15lbs with 12lbs more to go~ to get to my desired goal weight.
During this process, I’ve had to allow my mind to work really work through this again. I’ve had to remind myself that I am a different person now than I was before. I am now the mama of twin four-year-old's and a one-year old baby boy. My business is continuing to grow as are my many responsibilities and I had to rediscover a way to make losing weight and getting to my goal a priority again in my current stage of life. In doing so, I’ve learned some honest truths so I thought I would share with you to hopefully help in inspire you in your own goals.
Here’s the deal. You absolutely, 100% CAN do this. The math works, especially when you’re using the Weight Watchers Program. It’s super basic…all you do is “track” the food you put into your body and “track” your daily exercise. At the end of the week, so long as your points aren’t in the negative…you will lose weight. You just have to do it.
If you’re a people pleaser, this may be harder for you. You have to force yourself to take care of YOU first, and give yourself the permission to do so. You may struggle with feelings of “guilt” at first but over time, once you start feeling the results, you’ll realize that you can now give even MORE of yourself to others because you FEEL so much better.
We are constantly changing, evolving humans. We are not the same people that we were yesterday. Just because something worked or didn’t work in the past doesn’t mean that you’ll have the same results today. You must acknowledge where you are in your current stage of life, figure out how to make your goals work and push forward.
Big goals take time, they don’t happen overnight, there’s no quick fixes. You just have to keep going even when you don’t necessarily see results or experience setbacks along the way. Don’t give up, little efforts to equal big sums.
It’s okay to share your goals (if you want to). In fact, by you doing this you’ll inevitably help others along the way. Here’s the deal, we all have goals and we all have challenges, some people talk about it, and some don’t ~ that’s the only difference. I’ve found that by sharing a little about my journey along the way, it helps me to stay accountable. And in all seriousness, we’re kind of set up in the country to be overweight. Just look at the giant portions that are served at restaurants, look at all the complicated labels in the grocery stores. We have take responsibility for ourselves and navigate healthy decisions despite all the excess everything that’s constantly presented to us.
One of my favorite quotes is “Be stronger than your excuses” Reminder: we all have incredible capabilities. We just have to fight through those weak moments.
In closing, I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert in this area. I just know that the points listed above have really helped me. I truly think that health and wellness is a constant work in progress. But it does blow my mind how by putting this first, has helped my productivity and overall happiness. Cheers to good choices and achieved goals.
P.S. Here's a few links to past posts from my old blog on this topic:
J.Starr Stylized Weddings
Aug. 9 2017
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.
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. 5 2017
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
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 Came From: Party City
Mar. 21 2017
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
Feb. 14 2017
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!
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.
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.
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.
P.S. Hunter, you better stop being SO CUTE!!!
Feb. 10 2017
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.
Feb. 7 2017
(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
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
(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,
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
(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.
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.
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
Nov. 21 2016
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,
J.Starr Stylized Weddings
Oct. 21 2016
Photo: Still Life Studios
Let’s talk about regrets, uggh such a sad word but yes regrets do happen after the wedding day. I’m thankful for those couples who have shared their regrets with me so that I can share with you today in hopes that you DO NOT end up having the same ones!
Not eating any food
Sounds silly right? But it’s not. Couples get so caught up in the momentum and excitement of the day, that they don’t eat much, if at all. The truth is a wedding day is exhausting mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s very easy to start feeling ill if you’re under-nourished. I always encourage couples to be sure and eat a good breakfast and lunch, even if you don’t “feel hungry”. It’s imperative that you keep your energy up.
Getting wrapped up in small things that don’t matter
There are a million details that go into a wedding day. Chances are one or two things may not go exactly as you had planned. The cake may end up looking different than you imagined, maybe your sister is running late and holding up photos… whatever the case may be, try to relax. You only get ONE wedding day, don’t let little surprises ruin your day.
Not hiring a videographer
The day goes by so incredibly fast. And while the photos help to tell the story, video captures an entirely different way of storytelling. Having video captured of your most treasured times is truly invaluable. Being able to hear voices, laughter, see emotions and movement are beautiful memories.
Not having a moment to take it all in
If at all possible be sure to “plan” for this moment. Request to step into your reception space before the ceremony. Walk thru the room, look at the all the fine details, peek out at the crowd of guests awaiting your entrance down the aisle.
Not hiring a wedding planner
It truly breaks my heart when I hear brides say “I barely saw my mom the entire day because she was so busy coordinating the day and setting things up”. This day is not only special for the couple getting married but also for their loved ones. Hiring a professional to ensure that all your special moments are carried out the way you dreamed, is the best investment you can make for your wedding.
Until next time,
Jennifer Starr J.Starr Stylized Weddings
Oct. 14 2016
Photo: Still Life Studios
Dear Lovely Couples Planning a Wedding,
You deserve exceptional service, period. I often hear couples say that they’re afraid to ask vendors a question, nervous to speak up and express an option, or hesitant to request a change. I’m here to tell you, that’s nuts! Please remember that just because wedding planning details can become overwhelming and sometimes intimidating doesn’t mean that you’re not in charge. Here are three things you can do to regain control when you’re feeling lost.
1). Review you Wedding Checklist
Sometimes just simply checking items off of your list (physically checking off, with a paper and a pen) can reassure you that you are getting things done.
2). Consult an Expert
If you’re feeling unsure about a specific area, ask a professional (that specializes in another area) for their opinion. Vendors love to offer their suggestions and know a lot more about other areas of the industry than you might think. An example: If you feel uncertain about some of the ideas/activities that your DJ presents to you, ask your photographer for their opinion. Photographers have been a part of multiple receptions and will definitely give you honest feedback.
3). Take a Minute
If you don’t like something, that’s okay. Trust your gut. Don’t feel pressured into making decisions on the spot. If you need time to think over something (for example “First Meeting” vs. “Traditional Timeline”) that is okay. Your hired vendor will respect your uncertainty and should allow you time to think over your options.
Until next time,
Jennifer Starr, J.Starr Stylized Weddings
Oct. 7 2016
Photo: Still Life Studios
A Bridal Party Member drops out
It happens, it happens all the time. Try not to let this upset you too much. Being in a wedding is a big commitment, time wise and financially. Just because someone can no longer be involved, doesn’t mean that they don’t love you and cherish your friendship.
Having Equal Party Members
Remember, your bridal party “numbers” (amounts on each side) don’t have to be equal. There are no set rules. It is much more important that you do what “feels” right, it is not necessary to worry about what you think will “look” right.
Rain in Forecast
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it can really rock a couples’ world on a wedding day. This is why it’s extremely important to always make sure that the venue you choose has a contingency plan for bad weather. Try and keep this in the back of your mind while planning. Sometimes “indoor” spaces can look quite romantic, especially with the rain falling outside. Just know at the end of the day, you can only control so much. Your day, becomes your story.
Being Over Budget
I’ve never once heard a person say, “oh wow, planning a wedding is less expensive than I thought it was going to be.” Weddings are expensive and there are a lot of expenses that pop up along the way. It is critical to lay out your budget ahead of time before you book anything. This will save you a lot of time and heartache along the way.
Until next time,
Jennifer Starr, J.Starr Stylized Weddings
Sep. 30 2016
Photo: StepOnMe Photography Venue: Grayhawk Golf Club
Allotted Hours on Property for Set Up:
It’s an industry standard that most venues allow your vendors to arrive and set up two hours prior to the start of the ceremony. Yes, it’s true. It sounds like a minimal amount of time, but remember you’re working with professionals who set up events every single weekend. They know how to set up a room like well-oiled machine. This includes not only the venue, but also the florist, the dj, etc. This is the case when you’ve truly hired professionals. This only becomes problematic if you’re attempting to go the DIY route.
(A great reason to hire a Wedding Planner!)
Catering Managers Leaving:
Yes, it’s true. While yes you have a contract with the venue, you don’t have a contract with a person. It is common for catering managers to transfer properties, have babies, and even leave the industry. This can often times be upsetting when you learn “your person” is no longer going to be at your venue.
(Another great reason to hire a Wedding Planner!)
Your Officiant Not Attending Your Ceremony Rehearsal:
This is very common. Often times officiants will charge an additional fee if you want them to attend your rehearsal. But don’t worry, it’s not necessary to go over your entire ceremony, in fact in my opinion this takes away from the wedding day. The most important part of a ceremony is the lining up, walking in, standing in the right place, and walking out. These are things that your officiant is not responsible for doing.
(And again another great reason to hire a Wedding Planner!)
Until next time,
Jennifer Starr, J.Starr Stylized Weddings
Sep. 30 2016
1) CHOSE A VENUE THAT YOU LOVE
Yes, your venue will serve as the foundation for your wedding day. Choose a place that simply makes you feel good when you walk the property. Think about the entire experience, how you felt upon arrival, the grounds that you walked, the overall views, the service, and overall ambience. Often clients are “sticker shocked” by the price of their most desired venues, but guess what? If you choose a venue that you love, with lovely natural built-in features, you won’t have to spend a fortune transforming it.
People tend to choose linens toward the end of the planning/design process when they should actually be the second thing you do, once the venue is selected. Linens are the second major part of your foundation. Pick colors that work within the space and with your color-scheme. Upgrading to floor length linens (meaning the table legs are covered) always give your reception a clean, polished, luxury look.
3) KEEP IT CLASSIC
Be cautious not to follow the current trends too heavily. Reason being, “trends” don’t often age very well. You don’t want to look back at your wedding one day and say “Wow, what was I thinking?” Now this doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate touches of fun trends, but when it comes to your overall design, “going classic” is always a safe way to build an overall beautiful and timeless look.
4) REPURPOSE BIG FLORAL PIECES
Pre-arrange with your florist and wedding planner to have your gorgeous large ceremony florals smoothly transported and reset into your reception during the cocktail hour. Yes, you can use the same floral arrangements and your guests will never know.
Yes, up-lighting, bistro lights, and tons of candlelight can completely enhance any space. Include candlelight everywhere and in unexpected places to create a luxury experience. Up-lighting your reception walls can transform your event and really help to set the mood.
Sep. 23 2016
Photo: Ben & Kelly Photography Floral: Avant-Garde Floral Design
When a planner gets the chance to work with vendors that they’ve worked with before it definitely creates great synergy, not only on the wedding day but throughout the entire wedding planning experience.
As a planner, you have to trust in an entire team (venue, photographer, florist, dj, etc) to do their job correctly on the wedding day. If something goes wrong it’s a reflection on the planner regardless of the situation. Not only is it a reflection, it is also the responsibility of the planner to then “fix” the problem on the spot the day of, making things behind the scenes very stressful. This is a huge source of concern when a planner goes into an event without established trust for the other vendors.
A planner is going to select their preferred vendors based on similarities. This is in regards to their artistic abilities, their communication styles, and usually their experience levels. These shared styles then blend together very nicely to create an overall aesthetic look and feel.
Until next time,
Jennifer Starr, J.Starr Stylized Weddings
Sep. 23 2016
Let’s talk Entrée Tastings....
Often when you have booked a venue or a catering company, a complimentary Entrée Tasting is included. This is your chance to come in and sample the cuisine options for your wedding day and make your culinary decisions. This can often be a confusing time, so let’s dig in:
Photo: Still Life Studios
FAQS AND UNDERSTANDING THE LINGO
Q: How many hors d’oeuvres should we choose?
A: For a full cocktail hour, industry standard suggests five to six pieces per person.
Q: What is the difference between butler-passed hors d’oeuvres and a stationary display?
A: Butler-passed hors d’oeuvres are hand-passed and presented to your guests. Stationary displays are presented on a table that allows guests to help themselves.
Q: Can we offer both butler-passed hors d’oeuvres and stationary displays?
A: Absolutely! It is very common to offer both.
Q: What is a hosted bar package?
A: A hosted bar is when you pay a per person/per hour price for drinks.
Q: What is a hosted on consumption bar?
A: A hosted on consumption bar is the same as running a tab – as guests order drinks, they are then added to the total bill.
Q: What is a cash bar?
A: A cash bar is when your guests purchase their own drinks on a cash/credit card basis.
*Please note bar options can differ from property to property depending on the type of liquor license that they have.
Prior to attending your tasting, you’ll need to know a few things...
- What is your required Food and Beverage Minimum (your contract should included this figure)
- How many guests will be attending (best estimate)? Out of those guests, how many will be 2 and under? (Typically they are free) and how many are between the ages of (2 & 12) typically they qualify for kids pricing.
- Go through your list and determine how many of your guests will be drinking alcohol.
Additional Questions to Ask:
- Will there be a tip jar at the bar?
- Will your staff pour wine or champagne during dinner?
- What Vegetarian options do you offer?
- What do you offer for children’s meals?
- Do you charge a cake cutting fee? Will your team cut and serve our cake?
This portion of the planning process can be a bit overwhelming. Remember if you’ve hired a wedding planner, consider asking them to attend the Entrée Tasting with you. Otherwise try your best to really study the menu options ahead of time and don’t be shy to ask your Catering Manager or Chef many questions during the tasting.
Sep. 16 2016
1.) "I don't think I need a Wedding Planner."
"I think I'm a fairly organized and creative person...I can plan my wedding and whatever I can't do on my own, I have friends and family to help."
Everyone needs and most importantly deserves a Wedding Planner. A Wedding Planner is the central nucleus of your Wedding Day. Without one, there is no guarantee that your wedding will run as smoothly as it would with a Wedding Planner. Plus, you want to enjoy every minute of that day. You don't want to spend your day answering questions from vendors or family members or guests. An experienced Wedding Planner has planned hundreds of weddings and that wisdom is invaluable. Your family and friends also deserve to enjoy the day and not running around stressing about every detail. Let the expert take great care of all of you.
2.) "I can't afford a Wedding Planner."
"Weddings are expensive enough, why would I spend more money hiring a Wedding Planner?"
While Wedding Planners can be expensive, you will never regret the investment. Wedding Planners will often times save you immense amounts of money in the long run. Planners are well aware of the average price of all vendors and all things wedding related. They can advise you on making wise decisions and educate you and your choices and options along the way.
3.) "I'm afraid a Wedding Planner will take over my Wedding".
"I want our Wedding day to be our vision, not someone else's."
A Wedding Planner will only help to best enhance your vision and serve as a huge resource. Wedding Planners can help you to funnel through all your many ideas and stay on track so that you don't become buried and overwhelmed in all the details.