Mirror Mirror On the Wall – Who’s the Cheapest of Them All?

Madonna_Money_by_Madonna1250 (this might be all you get from the Material Girl)

I know the story about President Obama’s choice for Attorney General is way, way more important than  “Hollywood’s Best and Worst Tippers” on the MSN homepage, but….

I couldn’t help myself. There’s something so addictive about finding out just how generous (or not) the rich and famous can be. I won’t ruin it for you, but if Rachel Ray or Madonna or Bill Cosby walk into your section, don’t start planning that fancy beach vacay.

Parker Presley, our favorite pooch-about-town, wrote a blog on this very subject a few years ago. I dug it up to share with you because the weekend is here – go forth and eat and drink!  Happy Friday!

submitted by Stephanie Blackford

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Celebrity Weddings – Even The Rich and Famous Keep It Sweet and Simple

Lauren Conrad celebrates her husband's infamous name by adding red, ripe apples to her centerpieces. Easy and inexpensive!

Lauren Conrad celebrates her husband’s infamous name by adding red, ripe apples to her centerpieces. Use another favorite fruit to highlight the ‘Perfect Pair.’

A recent issue of Us Magazine features celebrity Lauren Conrad’s wedding photos. As hard as this is for me to admit, I don’t really know who Lauren Conrad is or why she is famous. I am over 40, you see. Barely over, but over. The only reason I saw the magazine was because I was getting a manicure; a manicure that included polish in a nice, subtle, tasteful shade of pale pink. The teen-woman next to me was getting blue glitter on every other nail. Betcha she knows all about Lauren Conrad.

Still, the piece on Conrad’s wedding caught my attention because it highlighted her small, sweet, personalized wedding. I’m a sucker for personalized anything. I take after my grandfather who, for reasons unknown but appreciated nonetheless, wrote his name (Norman Babor) on everything, including his (corded) phone.

Conrad was lucky because she married a man named William Tell; so personalizing with apples and arrows was obvious. (According to folklore, the original William Tell was a peasant who defied Austrian authority and was forced to shoot an apple from his son’s head in order to avoid being killed.) But even if you don’t marry William Tell – and you shouldn’t, because he’s taken – you can put your stamp on your own wedding or special event or telephone. Conrad made a freezer-full of apple pies for her wedding day. Over the (many) years, Epicurean has re-created signature dishes for brides and grooms; most recently a hand-tossed fig pizza as part of the cocktail hour eats. You know Larry DiPasquale must really believe in love if he is game for using another man’s pizza recipe.

Here is some celebrity inspiration that will make you shine like a star:

Lauren Conrad and William Tell sealing it with a kiss.

Lauren Conrad and William Tell sealing it with a kiss.

Amal Alamuddin had cufflinks custom made for husband-to-be George Clooney. His name was engraved in Arabic to reflect her her heritage.

Amal Alamuddin had cufflinks custom made for husband-to-be George Clooney. His name was engraved in Arabic to reflect her her heritage.

When Dawn O'Porter and Chris Dowd married in 2012, they put their names in lights. DIYers could pull this off in a weekend.

When Dawn O’Porter and Chris Dowd married in 2012, they put their names in lights. DIYers could pull this off in a weekend.

Katie Couric and John Molner’s  skipped the traditional white concoction for their favorite Lemon-Strawberry Cake

Katie Couric and John Molner skipped the traditional white concoction for their favorite Lemon-Strawberry Cake.

When Angelina married Brad, she had their children's artwork embroidered into her dress. Too colorful? Have children's artwork screen printed on a handkerchiefs for the bride, groom, and other special guests like grandparents. Sweet and sentimental.

When Angelina married Brad, she had their children’s artwork embroidered into her dress. Too colorful? Have children’s artwork screen printed on handkerchiefs for the bride, groom, and other special guests. Sweet and sentimental.

Speaking of dresses, Beyonce's mother made hers.

Speaking of dresses, Beyonce’s mother made hers. This is a big ask. This could make your mother into your “something blue” depending on her sewing skills…

Miranda Lambert wore her mother's wedding dress when she said 'I Do' to Blake Shelton.

Miranda Lambert wore her mother’s wedding dress when she said ‘I Do’ to Blake Shelton. She also shot the deer that was served at dinner. At Epicurean, we’ve done a lot of custom menus…but…wow.

Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth included a s'mores station at the reception. This Epicurean specialty continues to be on the menu for many of 'our' couples.

Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth included a s’mores station at the reception. This Epicurean specialty continues to be on the menu for many of ‘our’ couples.

Princess Diana's famous sapphire and diamond engagement ring was the same one Will used to propose to Kate.

Princess Diana’s famous sapphire and diamond engagement ring was the same one Will used to propose to Kate.

 

 

submitted by Stephanie Blackford

Weddings: It’s Personal

Personalized weddings? We'll drink to that. Then again, we'll drink to anything.

Personalized weddings? We’ll drink to that. Then again, we’ll drink to anything.

 

If weddings should be anything, they should be personal, right? After all, it’s the one day you are pronounced husband and wife. The only other times you are pronounced something it involves words like ‘guilty’ or ‘dead’  – and that’s not nearly as much fun.

With sites like Etsy and tools like Pinterest (what would life be without you, Pinterest?) and caterers like Epicurean, each and every wedding can – and should – be unique. If you are going to celebrate becoming part of a couple, you might as well splash your new coupled name over everything. This is your one shot to be the center of attention (besides the guilty and dead days mentioned earlier, of course).

I love monograms and nameplates and initial jewelry and business cards and Sharpies that leave a permanent mark on pretty much anything. It may be because my mother called me ‘Amy’ for the first three weeks of life, though my birth certificate and every subsequent document since clearly states ‘Stephanie.’ True story.

There are fancy ways to personalize a wedding, and there are simple ways. So if you can’t swing a skywriter, try these tricks instead:

 

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A personalized send off.

Table numbers with personalized photos.

Table numbers with personalized photos.

Stir sticks from the newly married.

Stir sticks from the newly married.

A new twist on the guest book.

A new twist on the guest book.

Fun place cards!

Fun place cards!

Custom wine labels are savvy (and a sneaky way to serve less expensive wines).

Custom wine labels are savvy (and a sneaky way to serve less expensive wines).

Table runners with the couple's monogram is simple and sweet.

Table runners with the couple’s monogram is simple and sweet.

The traditional matchbook with a non-traditional look makes this keepsake more modern.

The traditional matchbook with a non-traditional look makes this keepsake more modern.

 

Get Comfortable

NewYorker_Sweaters Needs Crop
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on – get ready for groundbreaking news here – cozy clothes for winter. Some designers have even taken it upon themselves to create sweaters that look like sweatshirts.  Making an overpriced cashmere sweater look like a beat-up sweatshirt takes some serious work. Sadly, some people just have really, really difficult jobs.

And while comfy and cozy never really go out of style, both seem to be appearing in new places all the time.  Even brides are cuddling up to this trend; cooing over anything that marries simple luxury and effortless indulgence.

Anne Hathaway and Blake Lively recently spent beaucoup dollars on this very concept for their own wedding(s). I mean SEPARATE weddings – they didn’t marry each other. (Sad.) How much fun would Anne and Blake’s wedding have been? The photos in People Magazine alone would be amazing. Can’t you just SEE IT?  I can, but I digress.

The point is, anyone can take this trend and snuggle in.  Farmhouse tables laden with organic dishes and twinkling votives, vintage décor, rustic linens (dishtowels from those most rustic Swedes at IKEA are my personal fave) and an abundant dessert table and who even needs a groom after that? So how does one achieve this high-end, no fuss, homegrown-but-still-super-savvy wedding reception on a non-celebrity budget? It’s easier than you think. Here are five simple tricks:

Vintage Photos
Vintage Photos

Got copies of your grandparents on their wedding day? Baby pictures of you and your betrothed? Copy significant photos onto card stock in a black and white format and string them over a buffet. Or add photos to menu cards on guests’ tables. If you are serving a signature family dish at your reception, this is a wonderful way to put a ‘face with a name’ – for example: Aunt Bertie’s Lemon Chicken is even more meaningful if a vintage photo of Aunt Bertie is literally staring guests in the face (not the real Aunt Bertie of course. That would be scary considering she died in 1997).

Twinkle lights

White Twinkle Lights

Seriously the easiest and least-expensive way to add sparkle and shine to virtually anything (even dead Aunt Bertie). White lights are readily available throughout the year – and strung amongst trees and shrubs, they make any outdoor wedding feel romantic and intimate.

  Family Style
Family-style Fare

This is such a hot trend right now – maybe because it’s delicious, simple, and sweet.  Tables can be topped with something as plain as brown butcher paper.  Then add some beautifully designed dishes such as fruit and cheese trays, pastas, whole beef tenderloin, or even cold shrimp and salads. Meals accompanied by bottles of custom-labeled wine put guests at ease and takes the pressure out of entering and exiting a buffet line.

Prosecco

One Signature Cocktail

Try Prosseco.  Never heard of it?  Prosseco is champagne’s hipper, younger, edgier and – I mean this in the nicest way – cheaper cousin. Add an old-school sugar cube and voila!

naturaltable top

Natural Décor

Wildflowers, gourds, apples, lemons, tree branches, pinecones, seashells, nuts, leaves – the list in endless. Fall and winter weddings lend themselves well to this trend and if you don’t want to do the heavy lifting (or cutting or trimming or picking); any florist worth their weight in pumpkins can make this vision your reality.

Whatever you decide, don’t forget to keep your celebration true to you. And don’t forget your sweater sweatshirt…it’s getting cold outside!