Cinco de Mayo-a holiday I find myself celebrating on an almost weekly basis at the Belair Cantina located conveniently two blocks from my house.
Tonight I’ll still be celebrating, but I’ll be hosting it at my digs instead and adding a little twist to tradition. While I’ll still be mixing up the expected tequila based margaritas (fresh watermelon to be exact), I’ll also be serving something(s) with a kick!
Last week we had a happy hour showdown with Absolut Texas vodka and three of their cocktail heavy hitters.
First off, before I continue, I know you’re already asking Absolut Texas? The state needs one more thing dedicated to its namesake? It ABSOLUT-ely does.
The serrano and cucumber infused spirit is both refreshing and packs a little punch. It can be mixed with something sweet or something on the more savory side. We tried the following: Tejano, Rodeo Ride & Pineapple Martini.
TIP: While we didn’t concoct a Bloody Mary, we could find the two being a perfect pair and accompaniment to your Saturday morning.
TEJANO-Easy and breezy
2 parts Absolut Texas
3 parts Grapefruit Soda
Build over ice in a highball glass, and garnish with a lime wedge and a chili-salt rim.
This cocktail is easy to throw together when you’re in a pinch! I definitely suggest adding the garnishes or it may be on the plain side.
PINEAPPLE MARTINI-Perfectly punchy
2 parts Absolut Texas
2 parts Pineapple juice
2 leaves fresh Cilantro
Optional (but suggested): add 1-2 dashes Tabasco-we used chipotle!
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass, and shake with ice. Fine-strain into a chilled martini glass, and garnish with a cilantro leaf.
This was my favorite between the trio. I’m drawn to spicy pineapple cocktails in any and all forms and this one is a winner. Both refreshing, but not overly sweet, with a smoky aftertaste. You can’t go wrong!
RODEO RIDE-Hold on to your hat!
2 parts Absolut Texas
1 part Lime juice
1 part Honey syrup (1: 1 Honey: water)
1 slice fresh Jalapeno
Pinch of Salt
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass, and shake with ice. Fine-strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a slice of cucumber and jalapeno.
This is as close as you can get to a true margarita without pouring in a shot of tequila. Amanda favored this one and we could both see it being perfect served over ice. The addition of the jalapeno takes it to the next level. Keep in mind this cocktail is strong when served up!
After taste testing, we were happy that we put all of our sips in shooters glasses. We suggest serving the trio in petite proportions instead full sized. To truly get that Tex-Mex/Cinco de Mayo feel, don’t skimp on the chips and salsa!
We’ve all heard of the term ballin’ on a budget, but have you heard about bridin’ on a budget?
Check out these tricks to keeping costs down-or at least in check, when it comes to planning out your wedding.
I bet you didn’t even think of some!
Skip signature drinks. There are a lot of additional costs when having these served at your reception. If your signature drink includes alcohol that is already in your package, you will end up paying double for that type of alcohol. It seems like it should already be included, but that’s not normally the case. If you plan on doing a signature drink, we suggest using liquor that isn’t already included in your package, not technically having a signature drink, but suggesting to guests what to order from already supplied ingredients or taking advantage of using a complimentary champagne toast and adding a fun garnish, like raspberries.
Check the chairs. Sometimes banquet chairs can be downright ugly; examine the chairs while you’re taking your venue tour to see what is included. If you have to end up ordering chairs or covers, this could cost you.
Tax and gratuity-per guest. Something couples fail to factor in is guest tax and gratuity on dinner and bar services. Sure, $30 per person seems like a steal, but chances are you haven’t received the true total per guest. This will come as a surprise when your total balance is due.
Leave out custom linens. Look into what your caterer or venue offers as a linen package. Many vendors have this included into the contract and this will save you a chunk of change, especially if the linens are floor length. Want to add a specialty touch? Doing custom colored napkins will jazz up each place setting, without costing you as much.
Guest lists-this is the number one indicator of what your overall budget will be. This is the hardest place to cut, but will give you the largest return on your dollar. Even cutting 10 guests will impact your budget largely. Not only are you cutting out meals, but you are cutting out bar costs and possibly chair, table and linen rentals.
Forgo the favors. This is an easy one; if you’re not sold on giving something to your guests, don’t. Keep in mind that unless they’re edibles, they’ll often times be left behind or thrown in the trash at the end of the night.
Pricey Paper Goods. Paper goods are something I can definitely find myself splurging on, but if you’re trying to keep spending to the minimum, go with a simple, lightweight invite. Postage costs add up if you send something with layers a bulk-something I’m sure wouldn’t cross your mind until you’re checking out at the post office line.
To put everything in perspective, take a peek at this handy chart breakdown of what you should expect to spend.
We see a plethora of bridesmaids each year. Most are sweet, supportive and oh so helpful to the bride, but others are, well…not. Sometimes I like (and hope) to think this may be because they just haven’t been in a wedding and aren’t sure what to do so take it from me ladies- here are a few helpful tips on how you can be the best bridesmaid that ever walked down that ceremonial aisle.
First and foremost, just do what the bride asks. Sure a Belle inspired dress complete with puffy sleeves may not be your style but it’s not your wedding- so as harsh as this may sound my advice would be to suck it up buttercup. Just wear the dress, after all it may come in handy for Halloween sometime.
Stay calm and carry on. Do not, under any circumstance, freak out. The day is as stressful as they come already and the bride doesn’t need her ladies upping the ante on crazy that day. If something goes wrong, ask the wedding planner to fix it, calmly, especially if you are in front of the bride. If you have a question, you know who your go to is-the planner. The bride is already focusing on keep herself calm and composed-a flurry of questions will only add to the frustration.
Come prepared. We bring an emergency kit, more like an emergency tool box, but do your due diligence as a maid. Take your dress out of it’s package prior to the week, let alone day of. Make sure your dress fits; I can sew on buttons, but I am certainly no seamstress. Bring snacks if you are worried about being hungry or getting tipsy. Most of our brides are prepared and have us bring snacks on the day, but if you follow a special diet I would bring a little something to make sure you have an emergency plan.
Be a dancing machine. Your number one duty on the day is to make the bride happy. Most of our brides want guests dancing above and beyond any other wish for the day. I always tell brides if they are dancing the guests will be dancing. So be her wingwoman and help get the party started! Even if it is something cheesy!
Lend a hand. Especially at the beginning and ending of the evening. Make sure she has all personal belongings she came with. If we haven’t already taken her bouquet back to her hotel room, snatch it before leaving the venue. As a planner we will check in to make sure she is staying hydrated (or has one of her favorite cocktails) and has had the chance to grab a bite in between making rounds with guests, but playing double duty and doing the same can only help!
All in all, our best advice?-Keep a smile on your face and the bride will do the same!
-AF & JM
We always touch base on certain details when going through our wrap ups with brides. Are you doing a bouquet toss? Cake cutting? Toasts? When it comes to your wedding, there are tons of traditions to follow. Every little “tradition” has a rhyme or reason to it. You’ll be even more surprised to find out that many of the reasons boil down to superstition.
Check out some of my favorite and most surprising reasons behind traditions we see in weddings-maybe it’ll make sense as to why so many people are skipping or changing tradition!
Diamond Rings: This may be my favorite tradition debunked-while I’ve seen some brides dangling other jewels on their ring fingers, diamonds still reign supreme. But it started out as an advertising scheme! Diamonds are indeed a luxury, but their popularity came to the well known De Beers needed to revamp their image and sell their product to the rich, the poor and everyone in between. “A Diamond Is Forever” was born and a tradition was formed.
Bridesmaids Dresses: These days, you’d drop dead if you showed up at an event matching another guest (perhaps I’m taking that too far, but I know I’d prefer to have my own style) While some people are horrified, to Romans you were to be cursed with bad luck if ten of your guests weren’t wearing matching attire to your wedding, hence, bridesmaids playing the matching game. We’ve come a long ways from the scary maids’ fashions from the 80s, and mixing and matching is now a popular trend. I vote to keep the trend over the tradition-I love when brides have their maids in assorted attire. If it still falls in the same color palette, then I feel like the Romans can bend their rules!
Garter Toss: It is solely pure opinion, but I’m happy to see this one less and less! Having any piece of the newlyweds clothing was originally deemed as good luck. In more conservative times, the bride was suggested to wear the garter tagged loosely to the bottom of her dress, so males guests could more easily retrieve it. I think we can all agree we’ve come across that really awkward, less than conservative garter retrieval before….
Clinking of the Glasses: A tradition that I’ve seen most couples get shy from is having to kiss after your guests clink their glasses at you; while some find it to be a “sweet” gesture, the clinking of glasses dates back to medieval times when many hosts spiked their guests’ glasses with poison! To signify that they were being a jovial host, they toasted with a clink, splashing drops of their wine and then taking the first sip to ensure their guests that they were in good hands!
There must definitely be something in the water because lately I haven’t been able to log into Facebook without seeing a new engagement on my home feed, but no complaints here- congrats to all of the lucky couples out there that I have the privilege of knowing!
SO you got engaged-NOW WHAT?
After calming down from the initial shock, excitement, tears, et cetera, there are a few things you should really do to kick start the planning process. Take a few tips from the pros and do these things first (after calling your mom that is!)
1. Create a list of the items which rank most important to you
It is important to me to have good food and good music alongside my good company. What is most important to you on your big day? Do you have a dream venue? Do you want your tables flowing with flowers? Will open bar be your biggest expenditure? Write it down, it will come in handy when you are cutting costs on your budget, which trust me-will happen.
2. Book your photographer
Photographers book up quickly, especially during prime season. Checking your photographer off your list is one of the first steps to being prepared for your big day. Be prepared to be turned down, while some vendors can technically duplicate themselves, photographers unfortunately cannot; have a list of your top three photographers to inquire with.
3. Follow your vendors on Social Media
Namely your photographer, florist and planner. You are going to become close with them throughout the entirety of the planning process. Get to know their style, find out what you like about them, use their posts as resources for planning out your day. Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram are your friends, even when you’re trying to get through your work day and you think social media is just an evil distraction that sits on your shoulder calling your name.
4. Utilize Pinterest
Chances are you already use Pinterest and chances are your (dream) wedding board is filled to the brim. Create a new board and tailor down your choices to create something more along the lines of calm, cool and cohesive instead of a multi-colored confetti explosion on the floor. It might take you awhile, but its time (or a weekend) well spent.
TIP: Name your board something other than “Wedding,” especially if you’ll be sharing it with vendors. Having to fish out a board in a sea of “weddings” gets time consuming.
5. Set a (realistic) Budget
Weddings ARE expensive. The average cost of a wedding in Milwaukee is over $25,000.
While there are ways to cut down on your budget, be wary of booking something just because it is “cheap” and you “don’t really care.” You’re setting yourself up for disaster.
While it isn’t necessary to bring in specialty linens, do favors, extravagant invites or blow up that bouncy house, be prepared to spend a pretty penny on a few items-namely food and beverage which around 50% of your budget will go towards.
TIP: Thinking of having your wedding at a private residence will cut your costs? You may want to think again. Keep in mind that instead of going to a venue, you’re basically creating one yourself. Not only do you have to bring in a structure, but chairs, tables, flooring, lighting, bathrooms, garbages…the list goes on and on, all has to be brought in.
One last piece of advice that I cannot help but stress is to stay ahead of the game instead of falling behind. Remaining organized and checking items off your to-do list in a timely fashion will not only help you keep track of your budget along the way and not incur unplanned charges at the end of the day, but it will help ensure that you get your “dream items” and above all else, help keep you from becoming a frazzled bride.
The city of Milwaukee, as well as surrounding suburbs, has countless options for a great rehearsal dinner spots.
Whether it be casual or upscale, there is a guaranteed spot for any couple.
We’ve compiled a list of favorites among past clientele and ourselves-for groups big or small. Regrettably, as our list is pages long, we haven’t been to all of them-yet.
We’re starting on a mission to try out some favorite Milwaukee restaurants so we can give you the tried and true details.
Last weekend I decided to check out Wine Maniacs after setting up a tour for a client. Their manager, Rik, was more than accommodating and informed me of a specialty pre-fixe menu that couples have the option of doing for their dinner. (Now I’m wishing I had an invite to attend!)
I recruited some friends, both ladies and gents alike, to join in on the venture.
We were sat at the main level, the upper level overlooking the river is definitely a space that I would recommend to brides and grooms planning their rehearsal, and noted that it was a pretty quiet evening as there were only two other couples dining with us. I was very self-conscious at first as I’ve got a voice that carries very loudly, so I had to keep that in check.
TIP: Not planning a rehearsal dinner anytime soon? This spot is great for date night!
We got a bottle of wine for the table, which was so hard to choose from as their list is extensive, and shared a cheese plate as well. Something I would definitely recommend doing for starters.
TIP: Our group went through the crackers like crazy, kindly ask your server for additional if need-be and I’m sure you’ll receive them with a smile!
The house risotto of the night was recommended by our friendly waitress. I opted to go for the goat cheese and beet pizzette that was also a featured special and was beyond happy with my decision.
TIP: I suggest ordering each pizzette on the menu and splitting throughout your group. Everyone who ordered one was satisfied at the end of the evening.
Wine Maniac’s menu is great for shareables, something I love in a restaurant as I like to try EVERYTHING.-although I had my eye on the lobster mac that upon a return visit, I don’t know if I’d like to or be able to split it.
If you’re interested in a more formal atmosphere with a killer view and countless bottle to choose from-Wine Maniacs would definitely be for you!
Interested in planning an event? Contact: Rik at email@example.com
Reservations Welcome: 414-278-WINE (9463)
Address: 106 Seeboth St. Milwaukee, WI 53204
Street Parking, Parking Structures, Valet service on Fri. & Sat.
50 Wines available by Glass
Full Bar Service including a hand picked selection of beer
Patio seating and lounging with upper level outdoor seating. (Great view of the River and Firework Displays)
Private Events available in “The Cool Kid” Loft
Dress Code: Semi-Formal/Dressy Casual
TRY IT OUT: Here!
Some of our brides walk into the florist meeting knowing exactly what they want and others have no clue. Flower meetings are one of my favorites to be a part of and whether a bride has had her bouquet picked out since kindergarten or if she has no clue what a rununculus is, I love working with the bride and the florist to come up with a cohesive and of course beautiful vision.
If you’re a bride who couldn’t tell the difference between a carnation and a peony, I have put together a few tips on picking out your bouquet.
The first decision I would make when designing your bouquet is if you want all white flowers or if you would like a colorful bouquet. There are some that fall in the middle with a mix of both but for our purposes I would still classify those as colored.
An all white bouquet doesn’t have to be totally pure white, and if you want it to be it will be hard to find since most flowers have a true creamy ivory hue.
This style of posey could also be all light neutrals with some soft taupe colors and a pretty blush mixed in here or there.
TIP: There isn’t a ton of contrast with this selection though.
The pros of a white bouquet include its classic appeal, it feels a little more timeless than the colored options. Possibly because wedding color fads come and go but neutrals are always in style. They are always soft and romantic and fit with any venue or decor which is another added bonus.
TIP: Light colored flowers, especially the white and cream flowers do tend to yellow pretty easily. We can usually snip edges of flowers but it is a minor draw back of picking this option. If you select a natural bouquet I would ask the florist what flowers hold up best and if you are worried the slight browning will ruin your wedding day bliss I would go with a more colorful option.
With a colorful bouquet you typically use your wedding colors and sometimes some accent colors as well. There is almost always greens in flowers (they are a plant after all!) so even if green isn’t one of your colors it typically works its way in. This type of bouquet could be all one color, a kaleidoscope of mixed colors or a mix of neutrals with some pops of accent colors.
Colored bouquets are fun, bold and a little more unique. Sometimes neutral bouquets can start looking very similar but colorful bouquets tend to stand on their own and look more unique. They can be romantic, playful, elegant or wild take your pick.
On the other hand colorful bouquets aren’t always as effortless, you may worry that it won’t turn out how you are envisioning or that it will clash with other colors in your wedding palette. It is a little easier to miss the mark with these since they are more of a statement.
With colored bouquets I would suggest avoiding dyed flowers, if your wedding colors don’t come in natural form, incorporate color in other ways like the ribbon wrap on the bouquet. Otherwise, you may regret the dye when it gets all over your white dress, your hands, your husband’s black suit and the flower girls dress to boot.
TIP: Whether you go colorful or neutral make sure the florists understands the shape, size and style you are going for. Picking cohesive pictures is a great way to ensure that you are all on the same page. If you have an exact vision in mind make sure you convey that with them and have fun picking flowers!
Lucky for you once your bouquet is picked out the bridesmaids flowers will be much easier. In general, you have two choices there too. More on that in an upcoming blog.
It is hard for me to not get excited with each season’s change, especially when the new season holds sunshine, warmth and new wardrobe updates…or at least that’s what I’m wishing for!
I stumbled across the Spring season’s Pantone color line up and I’m pretty sure it was made specifically for me.
I thought I’d share the wealth or at least my recommendations for some springy new accessories/upgrades to your wardrobe.
Flexibility in each piece is something that I can’t stress enough. Having an item that can be transitioned from day to night, work day to weekend, only makes it that much more worth the purchase. Especially if it is a pricier piece.
TIP: Saving and splurging can be a difficult decision. Splurge on an item if you can get daily wear out of it. Save it for later, when it goes on sale, if it isn’t something that will be often utilized. This is something I’m constantly reminding myself.
Especially on wedding days where I can be found in a uniform of black or at the very least neutral, I like to add just a pop of color.
Here are a few of my favorite things that are a surefire way to create a sunny disposition in your closet, even when we are still caught in between seasonal mood swings outside.
Aquamarine: Dreaming of a tropical vacation? At least you can wear the ocean on your sleeves! Or in this case, around your neck and fingertips.
ESSIE Polish in Rock the Boat
Lucite Green: The color I wish was on every tree outside; Green is a color that I find to be universally flattering.
LEVEL 99 Trousers
Tangerine: Just juicy; like a drink I’d like to be sipping pool side.
MUSTARD SEED Blazer
Toasted Almond: This color isn’t made for popping, but it does tie together nicely with almost any color you may have in your closet! The bowtie details are cute to boot!
When it comes to “good workout”, your mind automatically imagines dripping sweat, being out of breath and really feeling the burn. When it comes to our next adventure in the workout world, I learned that there are a variation of “good” workouts. After really getting into yoga the past few months we decided to switch it up and continue on our journey through Milwaukee’s best workouts.
Next up: Sport Body Pilates
Located in the Third Ward in a window front shop at 159 N. Jackson Street, the studio has sprawling windows that you can’t help but smile in on sunny days. And in the recent frigidness, the studio is still nice and warm.
You may be thinking, “Oh my gosh, everyone can watch me work out!” but that isn’t the case. Random passersby may see you after parking their cars in the Italian Community Center parking lot, but they’re probably envious of you.
Pilates was a whole new experience for both Amanda and myself and our teacher, Krista, was so accommodating to ease our jitters.
A lot of yoga moves are implemented in pilates, but where you used to rely solely on your body and a mat, there’s now this carriage involved. A carriage with springs and straps and bars…how do I even approach this thing? Kind of intimidating at first.
Krista warmed us up and took us slowly through different moves and reps of each. She wanted us to get a feel for the carriage and being able to rely on our body for balance.
You see, I’m NOT coordinated and my balance is always off kilter. I have to admit that my biggest feat was being afraid I was going to fall on my face on a few of the moves which I’m still learning the names to. But low and behold, if you trust your body and really concentrate, it won’t fail you! I succeeded through class, class number two after this week, and still have all my teeth..
After class, I remember thinking to myself that I must not have been doing it right as I didn’t work up a huge sweat that I’m used to. Not to say I didn’t sweat…I did, but it was a girly sweat (if there is such a thing). I didn’t even drink out of my water bottle until after class…I must not have been doing it right.
The next morning, I couldn’t have been more wrong. That’s when I learned that a “good” workout is subjective and doesn’t fit the gym industry’s standard.
My abs burned like NEVER before…even thinking back to highschool volleyball when our coach made us go through bootcamp at two-a-days. We joked in the office that it hurt to breath.
After my second class last past week, my lats and inner thighs still have a twinge of soreness to them and that was two days ago.
What I loved: The class sizes stay small, like 2 to 3 people small. Krista is hands on and watches your form, she is able to give everyone attention to make sure their bodies stay in the shapes they are supposed to; she doesn’t want anything strained, nobody getting hurt. It also allows for a little bit of experimentation. We recently tried out the chair, where you balance yourself sideways on your arms and lift your legs off of a loaded spring with your abs. Sounds about confusing as it is, but Krista walked both Amanda and I successfully through it.
What I didn’t: This changed after I got out of bed the next morning, but first thought after leaving class was my lack of sweat, therefore I didn’t get a workout in. Like I stated above, that definitely was anything but the case.
What to bring: “Grippy” socks come in handy for some moves. If you don’t have them, Krista has gripping clothes she can put down on the bars for you. No mat needed.
What to wear: Form fitting clothes-like you would wear to yoga.
Parking: Two hour metered and unmetered parking available on the side streets. Both Amanda and I have driven separately each time and haven’t had any issues with finding spots.
Try it out!: These deals are a steal and hard to pass up http://www.groupon.com/deals/sportbody-pilates
When it comes to working out, the hardest part is branching out and trying something new, but take it from me, the workout and payoff is worth the risk!
Signature drinks are always a fun touch at wedding festivities; they are all over Pinterest and wedding magazines and add a personalized touch to the day. The thing the magazines don’t tell you is that they are pricey. You may think you have open bar so it will all be included, right?
Unfortunately, that isn’t usually the case and it surprises a lot of our couples. Typically a signature drink costs extra. You can usually pay per drink that guests order or have a bunch made and ready to go, but you will pay for unused drinks that way. Either way it can add up to an extra chunk of change you didn’t plan for, so we have some tips to have your signature drink and sip it too.
First, if you are doing a wine and beer bar and not offering liquor, a signature drink can be a great way to give your guests a hard alcohol option. You can do a his and her favorite drink or a drink that has special meaning to you. This will give guests insight into your story as a couple and give them something tasty to sip on during cocktail hour.
Make sure to explain your pick in a sign or on cocktail napkins. You can say something like “Sip on a Moscow Mule, the drink Tom introduced Anna to on their first date!”
Second, to make sure you aren’t paying double for an open bar and a signature drink you could pick a drink that isn’t included in your bar package. We always think it is a good idea to have a table with drinks or passed libations at the beginning of the cocktail hour. This is when your bar will be the busiest, it is when most of your guests want a drink and they usually don’t want to wait. If you have an option to free up the bar, believe me, your guests will thank you. It also adds another level of sophistication to the event.
One of my favorite go to’s is a glass of champagne with a fresh raspberry for garnish. It looks pretty and who doesn’t love a little bubbly? It is also something that isn’t included in most wedding bar packages so you aren’t paying twice.
TIP: If your package includes a dinner toast you can usually use it for something like this, it will depend on your venue though.
Third, another option is to save the signature drinks for the rehearsal dinner or brunch if you are having one. Those events are smaller and sometimes those locations will offer a signature drink within your package. One of our couples did an Old Fashioned menu for their guests at the rehearsal dinner. They had a bunch of out of town guests and they wanted to showcase a true Milwaukee drink. The menu included a classic old fashioned, a honey old fashioned and a cinnamon old fashioned. Friends and family loved the offerings and it didn’t break the budget either.
The day after wedding brunch is another great time to offer a signature drink. Since you won’t have a full bar a mimosa bar or bloody mary bar can be a nice added touch to send guests off on a high note. After all the best cure for too much fun on the wedding night is more fun the next morning.
So before you get too pumped about your unique signature drinks with adorable personalized straws consider your options and what might work best for your wedding.