#MyBestFriendsWedding Final Chapter – The BIG Day!

Guys, can you believe it?! Just over a year ago, I began this series of posts following the journey of my best friend’s road to the altar, from the proposal & the surprises I gathered for her, the engagement party & proMOHsal, saying yes to the dress, the bridal shower, the stamp serendipity, the bachelorette, rehearsal, all leading to this: the big day.

Michelle’s vision was absolutely beautiful and cohesive, and it came to life to perfection (as perfect as possible considering something ALWAYS happens when it comes to parties or big events). Of course, that was to be expected, given that she’s a kick-ass event planner for her job, but corporate and social events are very different, and she managed to pull off a gorgeous wedding in the middle of back to back big work events and constant travel. So let me start off by saying: congratulations biff! You did it, you did it real good!

From the moment the planning began, she made me part of the process and I was so happy to be there every step of the way that she’d let me – everything except whatever had to do with the bridesmaids, because obviously she wanted me to be somewhat surprised with that part. Originally, there were more things that I would make/do, but as time went by, she wanted to focus on big pieces and the rest either got done a different way, or was scrapped altogether (for example, I really wanted to make hotel “do not disturb” signs for guests that came out of town, but it ended up not making sense to do it because of the logistics). All gorgeous pictures courtesy of Melissa Perez from   @SimplyCaptivating!

In the end, this is what I did make:

  • Custom Champagne Flutes for the Bridesmaids: even though we ended up not using them because we went from having all the time in the world to rushing out of the house, so the rosé just sat there, poured in our custom glasses as we made our way to the church in the party bus… they’re still cute ❤

     

  • Bride Jean Jacket: I made this literally the night before the wedding during our sleepover because Michelle forgot to give me the jacket after the rehearsal dinner, and it was a mission to get the vinyl to stick (and I cut it wrong, but we won’t talk about that because no one could tell, and you can’t either 😉 …)
  • Cake Topper: inspired by one Michelle found on Pinterest and made out of layered rose gold card stock (and I had to cut it several times, but we won’t talk about that either…), it looked so stunning at night, especially in the background of the picture where Michelle’s parents are giving their speeches!
  • The Seating Chart: since I can’t put into words the stress, amount of time, anxiety, logistical work, glue, and panic attacks this caused me, I’m just going to say this is probably my proudest accomplishment TO DATE. EVER. I’m pretty sure the two months of insomnia I had leading up to the wedding were over the seating chart alone. Also, because I messed up my table (on purpose, trying and erroring as usual) I literally finished the seating chart AT THE VENUE, during cocktail hour. But, it came out PERFECTLY ❤ Also, I may or may not have spent time taking pictures of people looking at the chart… First, the process:

 Some action shots from my phone

And the final result, with STUNNING shots by @SimplyCaptivating 

  • “I Do” Shoes: I love Pinterest. But also Michelle’s shoe soles were ribbed so I have no idea how long the vinyl stayed on… It was all for this shot!

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  • Signage: a Welcome sign adorned with flowers from @EverAfterFlorist, a wedding sign to let guests know they were at the right venue, and a social media sign that never made it out to the party… has there been any item without mishaps? HA!

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  • Table Menus: 15 tables. Two menus per table. 30 total. Incredibly tedious and long process to make them. Gorgeous outcome ❤

Seriously, I cannot believe that it has all come and gone so quickly since the day Brian texted me to let me know he was proposing. It’s been such an incredible experience to be by my friend’s side through this huge milestone moment, and I’m so happy to have been able to help and put a personal touch to so many aspects leading up to and during the big day. Thank you all for following the journey!

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#MyBestFriendsWedding Chapter 5: The Bridal Shower

Ok guys, so by this point I’ve shown you the invitations and the place tiles, and I’m going to try to make this as short as possible so – welcome to my best friend’s Moroccan Bridal Shower!

AH! The first big event I’ve been preparing for for MONTHS as Maid of Honor finally came and went and I have to say, mishaps and all, it went so well and the most important part is that Michelle loved it and had an awesome time! Michelle’s mom and I planned it together and she was a crucial part in all of it turning out as nice and great as it did, so thank you Marta for all of your help and support with it! Some behind the scenes info:

  • Michelle had mentioned she wanted a Moroccan themed bridal shower before she was even engaged, so I knew that would be the theme, BUT it usually comes with an extremely colorful scheme. When I started my Pinterest board, I tried to focus on the ideas that had the most white, orange and pink to make it more bridal. And then, Michelle fell in love with rose gold, so that became the main accent color next to the white.
  • A few months into the planning, Michelle said to me: “you know I want people to actually come dressed in Moroccan attire, right?” and I was like no, I did not know that, but we can absolutely make it happen! And so we did, as almost everyone came donning their best kaftans and headpieces ❤

With this all said, let’s split the party in sections so that I don’t keep you reading for three hours:

  • Custom Glasses: when Marta and I were looking into tableware, I didn’t want to have plastic cups because they would cheapen the look, and then I remembered the acrylic stackables I used for my Friendsmas party a couple of years back. The problem was, people don’t usually keep track of their cups at parties, so I decided to use vinyl to put their names on it, solving the missing cup issue and also adding a favor they could take home! Win, win!
  • Décor: all I will say here is that I depleted Home Depot of their rose gold spray paint (but good thing rose gold/copper is in because I was definitely able to find TONS of things that were already rose gold, and in some cases, Moroccan too!)
  • Favors: I found these jumbo tea lights from IqraMehndiDesigns on Etsy. She was so great to work with and made the order to fit our color scheme beautifully. Did I mention she’s all the way in Bulgaria and thank God for planning with due time, because it takes two months between making and shipping these to arrive?!?! After the timely arrival, all we did was put them in boxes with filler, a ribbon and a tag 🙂
  • Food & Desserts: Marta took care of ordering the food from a Mediterranean restaurant and it was very yummy! I also asked the groom’s mom, Mayda, to make her infamous Greek salad which is always a hit at parties, and it absolutely was! For dessert, we ordered baklava, and also had some delicious “bundtinis” from Nothing Bundt Cakes, as well as some Ferrero Rocher chocolates, which you guessed it, we sprayed them rose gold too 🙂

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  • Games: I asked the rest of the bridesmaids to help me figure out games that were fun, and we came up with: wear the ring and don’t say bride/Michelle, how many kisses in the jar, Michelle trivia, and find the groom (a picture of Brian hidden somewhere in the party, which he hid himself and it was hilarious!) The prizes were baskets filled with a small bottle of Rosé, a picture frame, a notepad, and a pen – all rose gold of course.
  • Guestbook: since Michelle didn’t want to have a traditional guestbook at the wedding, I thought it would be cute to get her a photo book with pictures of her whole relationship with Brian, and ask guests to fill it with advice for her. She absolutely loved it and it wasn’t a big expense since Shutterfly constantly runs free album offers, so all I had to cover was shipping (plus a few extra bucks for a specific theme that had rose gold, of course).
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The digital proof of the guestbook cover ❤

  • Setup: from the moment I started thinking of the party, I knew that I wanted it to be in my backyard because I had a very specific vision of the table setting around the pool, with a tent for the weather + vibe. It all came together so nicely and Michelle kept telling me she thought the layout was genius, and she loved it all! With a little math figuring out table sizes and organization, it all worked out great!
  •  Snapchat Geo-filter: after Michelle’s engagement party, her sister Andrea was like “we forgot the filter!” and ever since then, I had a mental note to do it for the bridal shower. I worked with DesiPaperThings on Etsy to bring it to life, of course, in white and rose gold.
  • Welcome Sign: I had spray painted my silver easel to make it rose gold for Michelle’s wedding, so I figured we could use it for the shower as well. And because repurposing is queen, I recycled a canvas from a “Paint With a Twist” party that I didn’t like by using gesso to flatten the surface, and with the stencil I created for the failed backdrop I turned the whole thing into a welcome sign 🙂

Of course, I also made props, including a big frame. Marta brought over a portable speaker for the music (we used a Latin music Spotify playlist). We made frosé as the signature drink of the event, and everyone genuinely seemed to have a great time ❤

Because I really try not to make everything seem perfect as we tend to do in social media, here are some of the things that didn’t go as planned (but of course we didn’t let it tamper with the day):

  • Restaurant forgot falafels, which Michelle was looking forward to the most
  • The weather: the amount of wind we got that weekend, we’ve seen only for tropical storms. It was INSANE. The setup was a mission, the tent people got there late because they had to buy sandbags for everyone they set up that day, and it was madness. We also got some rain the morning of while we were setting up the linens, but thanks to the unruly wind and the sun that came out later, everything dried off in time for the guests’ arrival.
  • A table flipped: the wind was so crazy that one of the tables flipped AFTER we had set it up with plates/place tiles/cups (and we used bottles of water and the tiles as weights to prevent things from flying off, but this entire table fell into the pool). Michelle’s dad helped us fish everything out of the pool, but a couple of the place tiles remained under water until the next cleaning… Action shot of the fishing out!

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ALL IN ALL – amazing time, so happy with how it all turned out, and I know Michelle enjoyed it so: Mission – ACCOMPLISHED!

Check out this 1-minute video slideshow that showcases the whole event in just 60 seconds 🙂

5 Settings to Use on VSCO to Improve Your Pictures!

Hello shutterbugs! This post can be useful not only for product pictures but also for shots of humans and landscapes and really many types of photography! I’m a huge fan of the VSCO app for editing all kinds of images on my phone, and I’m going to share the top settings I play around with to get my pictures to look almost professional.

I remember when I first started taking pictures of my products for my Etsy shop, I thought I was killing the game, and now looking back I realize how lost I was. What helped? Things took a turn for the better once I took Hilary Rushford’s “Instagram With Intention” free online workshop, where she introduced us to VSCO (I’m a big advocate for taking any and all free seminars you see offered, there’s always something to learn and you have nothing to lose, especially when they’re free. If it just so happens that you like what you hear, you can subscribe or get a membership to keep getting useful content). Without any further ado, let me share the very basic but completely life-changing tips I learned from Hilary and immediately implemented to my picture-editing game. Let’s keep this interesting with a step by step example: pizza picture please!

  • Natural light: this is an obvious one for many (and not a VSCO setting, but I got you guys with a bonus later) but the perfect foundation for good pictures is to take them in natural light – aka, not being hit by direct/yellow light, but placed where it would receive a diffused, indirect “bath” of light. Check out this original shot of a yummy pizza in what looks like natural light. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s definitely not Instagram ready. Yet!

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  • Exposure: exposure is the vert first setting option, and it stands for the amount of light you want to add or remove from your picture, or how much light you’d want it “exposed” to. I usually move the dial to the right on average to +2-3.5 as shown in the picture, so that it looks like it was professionally lit, and that sometimes helps diminish imperfections as well. Play around with the button and always start off small, because there is such a thing as “overexposed” pictures. This is going to make the pizza look a little pale because there was already light, but the combination of edits is what does the magic.

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  • Contrast: the contrast feature strengthens the properties of each color, making the light tones lighter, and the dark tones darker. This one is also good to keep at +2-3.5.

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  • Saturation: saturation is here to make your colors look extra alive! Now, this one I’m super extra careful with, because it usually brings in a strong yellow/orange aura to the picture. So you can play around it and keep it around a +1.5-2.5. The pizza is ready to pop off the screen, but it almost looks like it was under a lamp light to stay warm. Not good yet!

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  • Temperature: to the left, to the left! The solution to most of your yellow/orange problems is to make the picture colors “cooler” in tone, so literally lowering the temperature will bring on the blue hues. Don’t go too far, just enough to see yellows turning white is perfect. A -1 or -2 usually does the trick.

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Now those are the ones I use pretty much for almost every picture edit, but not all pictures are created equal and there’s no one size fits all edit. These are not filters, these are enhancers that work under your guidance to get the tones jussssst right, on an individual basis. But this picture is not perfect yet. The light colors are now a little too light, and it has lost some of the detail. Since I’m more used to playing with the app now, I know exactly what to do next. In this case, I’m going over to the “Highlights” feature. I moved this one up to +10, but I really have no parameters for it since I seldom use it. See how now there are more spots in the cheese? All the colors garnered strength again.

 

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And now, our pizza is ready to get all the glory of Instagram and make your followers salivate. Let’s see the before and after, side by side. Shall we?

Now, the first picture almost makes it look like the pizza was in the oven for a little too long, but the second one literally has me ready to #TBT in real life and go back to that magical moment before having it.

Anywho, I’m no foodie blogger or expert picture taker, but I definitely saw a huge improvement in my pictures over time, and my feed got much, much prettier. The other secret for me has been the white background. That’s a product photography staple, and as much as I tried to fight it at first, it’s simply perfect. I hope these tips help elevate your picture game and if you have any suggestions on other features to use, please drop them in the comments below!

Photography Corner: Max Turns 1

Max Turns 1

Time sure does fly! A little bit over a year ago, my friend Silvia and I were planning her beautiful and memorable “Ahoy it’s a boy!” nautical-themed Baby Shower for little baby Max, and here we are, celebrating his first full turn around the sun!

She chose an adorable circus theme for the occasion, and executed every detail impeccably! The weather wasn’t playing along too nicely at the beginning of the day with some serious wind gusts that kept knocking things down, but it ended up being a good thing because the South Florida heat can be very unforgiving, and we were all refreshed with the breeze.

Max had an absolute blast, playing with all the props, trying all the delicious foods (and boy did he love the sugar rush!), and more than anything else, dancing the day away! Turns out, Max has quite the moves and dances along to any genre – and he happily entertained his guests with some smooth moves all day long.

Silvia came to me a few weeks back about capturing the day for them, since she read quite a few mommy blogs that mentioned their regrets for not having enough pictures to look back on it, and she didn’t want to fall in that category. She made my job easy, with absolutely beautiful details at every turn, and I’d like to highlight a few in particular:

1. The First Birthday Stats Sign – our talented friend Karissa at Kustom Kreations by K put together this STUNNING first birthday stats sign that listed all of Max’s physical and personal characteristics. The attention to detail was unbelievable, and the board was the perfect complement to every single space of the party. Can’t say enough good things about it! The sign was also used for Max’s first birthday shoot, and the pictures were part of the decor too. Amazing job Karissa!

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2. The cake – you could say Silvia and I are huge fans of our friend Hector at Cakes, Desserts & Beyond (he made my Modern Ariel birthday cake that I’m still dying over, and also this Star Wars-themed cake for Silvia’s husband’s 30th birthday) and who can blame us?! His cake creations are not only beautiful on the outside, but truly delicious and worth every bite on the inside. Max’s beautifully detailed circus-themed cake had a nutella and strawberry filling and I’m going to stop the description right here because I am getting a sugar rush just thinking about it. It was soooo good!

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3. Centerpieces/Decor – Silvia put together the most adorable centerpieces using photos from Max’s first year photoshoot, and some allusive circus items for each table. There were also lots of details throughout the party like Max lollipops, popcorn, cotton candy, souvenir cups, clown noses, admission tickets, bubbles, circus signs, a mini tent – the list goes on and on. Everything was so fun and had the circus feel all around.

The party was a total hit, and Max had an absolute blast. Here’s the full gallery –

Happy birthday Max!!!!!

Photography Corner – Taty & Jorge’s Wedding

Within the realm of event planning and all related activities, one of my favorite things to do is photograph the occasion. I’ve always loved photography and even though I have no schooling in it, it’s a beloved hobby of mine. I closed off my 2014 event photography portfolio with an unexpected opportunity to shoot a wedding in a beautiful location in the coast of Santa Marta, Colombia called Los Alcatraces. The bride and groom – Jorge and Taty – seemed just so happy to take this step in their relationship, and I am so honored to have been asked to capture this huge moment for them. Here are some of my favorite shots of the day:

Little Mermaid Takes Vegas! 25th Birthday Pool Extravaganza

I cannot begin to tell you all how excited I am to FINALLY be able to share this here. I worked on this party non-stop for two months – which was honestly way too long for me, because I kept having more and more ideas and it almost got too crazy – and I’m just so happy with the way everything turned out! Here are some insights to how this all came together:

1. This party was originally supposed to happen in the summer, as a Vegas-style pool bash with my friends. It never happened, and I needed an idea to celebrate my 25th, so it just fit.

2. One night in the shower (where the best ideas just come right?) I was thinking about my love for all things Little Mermaid and then – BOOM – epiphany! Pool party + Little Mermaid = perfection. Obviously, as a 25th birthday, the concept became more of a “Little Mermaid Grew Up and went to Vegas” theme, and all the innocence went out the window.

3. Everything started coming to me right then and there. I went on Pinterest and created a secret board called “Mermaid Party” (now public) with lots of ideas to keep in mind, and my event planner self went into overdrive, creating Word docs, Excel Spreadsheets… the works. I started going to thrift shops and bought a few things for super cheap, which gave me room to spend more on the important things.

Now, here are the top 10 party items:

Cake WCB1. The Cake: instead of starting off small, I have to just go for it – this cake was everything I wanted and more! I would’ve  been 100% happy with just the cake, and no party at all! I found this cake on Pinterest, and did the research and saw that the original artwork was from Tim Shumate, and the cake artist was located in… WALES… halfway across the world! Sigh… As a huge perfectionist, I just wasn’t sure anyone would be able to replicate that masterpiece by Fabricake South Wales, but then I remembered visiting Cakes, Desserts & Beyond earlier in the year for my friend’s baby shower, and I thought if someone could do it, it would be them – and boy did they deliver! I was so obsessed with the final result, I almost cried when time came to cut the cake, and I actually saved the Ariel art, and I’m working on framing it now… More on that later. Anyways, here it is:

2. The Slide: I had thought of getting a slide, but then dismissed the thought for fear it would be too expensive. Then my friends brought it up, and they helped me find this one from Miramar Party Rental, which just fit the theme perfectly!

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3. The Favors: my friends at ETK Enterprises took care of ordering these punny “She Wants the D” koozies for me. I got the idea after browsing online (I wanted to find something that both genders would enjoy and want to take home), and everyone asked if I had extra so they could share with their friends! Total hit 🙂

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4. The Props: This was probably one of the first things I started doing. I practically made everyone’s hair/heads (even Grimsby!), and a few inappropriate sayings to go along. “Darling it’s better down where it’s wetter” – I mean, how could I not?! Making photobooth props is probably one of the things I enjoy doing the most, and I discovered some pretty good drawing skills I didn’t know I had.

All Props WCB

5. The Bathing Suit: of course with all of the theme decor in place, I had to look the part! I found these high waisted mermaid bathing suit bottoms (even better, ready to ship) from Alicia Zenobia’s Etsy shop, and the top is originally from Tommy Bahama, but I purchased it for half price at 6pm.com. I also wore this Ariel top from Hot Topic to cover up.

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6. The Dessert Table/Backdrop: I saw this backdrop on Pinterest/Etsy, and in an effort to save money wherever I could, I decided to make it myself (no cricut!). The dessert table also had these Cake Pops (I had never made them before, and I must say, they came out pretty good for my first time) some Brigadeiros (a Brazilian truffle my coworker taught me how to make), white and purple sixlets chocolates (like M&Ms), and some shiny teal gumballs to complete the color scheme.

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7. The Face-In-Hole: this was one of those things included in the “i had way too much time to plan this party and kept coming up with more things to do” category. I had a huge cardboard cover from my Ikea desk, and I started thinking it was a good potential face-in-hole canvas. I made it a little raunchy to keep up with the adulthood level of the party, and my friends had a lot of fun with it!

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8. The Mermaid Lagoon Sign: once again, let’s thank Pinterest for existing and running my life. I pinned this sign to my Mermaid Party board, and I just knew I HAD to make it myself. I bought a long plank of wood from Home Depot, sawed it into 3 chunks (there was actually a 4th smaller piece I ended up using to make a bathroom sign so my guests knew which door it was) drilled it, painted it, and voila!

Mermaid Lagoon Sign WCB

9. The Drinks: I have to thank my brother for coming through as a mixologist last-minute. All I knew is that I wanted a blue drink and a purple one to stick with the theme/color scheme, and he just mixed the right amounts of everything. We used Blue Curacao Liqueur and Blue Fruit Punch to give the color to the blue drink, and cranberry and grape juices for the purple one. I labeled them “Mermaid Water” and “Ursula’s Purple Haze.”

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10. The Decor: obviously, what tied it all together! Lots of small things that helped this very adult party stay true to the magic of the Little Mermaid (Fun Fact: the Little Mermaid came out in 1989, same year I was born! Coincidence? I think not.)

**Tutorial on how to make the Chinese Lantern Medusa/Jellyfish here, or you can buy them directly from my Etsy shop.

Anddddd that’s it. Again, I am beyond ecstatic to finally get to share this, I hope you get some good ideas for your own events, and feel free to comment below and leave your feedback! I will be posting some of these items on my Etsy shop for anyone who may be interested in buying them for their own parties.

Event Planning – Jill & Jorge’s Beach Proposal

2014 is definitely the year that brought me back to doing events – and I’ve loved every single one. I’ve planned/crafted for/set up a baby shower, a bachelorette, a few birthdays, a baptism, and a couple of other things here and there, but one of my favorites definitely has to be this proposal. I’ve known Jill and Jorge for about five years now, and they’re one of the most adorable couples ever. They have been together for eight years, and a lot of that time was spent apart, living in different states or cities. Once they were finally in the same zip code, our group of friends jumped for joy.

At some point in late February, Jorge reached out to me with an idea for a beach proposal, and he had a date: April 12th (because Jill’s grandma would be in town). He drew up a sketch of what he envisioned, and let me run wild with it. He originally wanted to propose at Sunset Pointe or Ft. Lauderdale beach, but there was an event that weekend, and we had to look into other options. I had been to the Anglin’s Fishing Pier at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea once before, and I thought this would be the perfect place for the event, so we had a “site visit” and he was on board.

Since this proposal involved our whole group of friends, I held a crafting session for the girls so we could work on the signs and other props we would need. Everything was exactly what Jill wanted. Her cousin was also in on the planning, and she helped us refine the details to make it perfect for Jill. I also had the very nerve wracking duty of capturing every moment, and I definitely felt the pressure to capture everything and not miss a single beat. Without further ado, here are a few shots from one of the most emotional proposals ever!

And finally, our whole group got together for a pic with the newly engaged couple!

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Congrats Jill and Jorge, and thank you for letting me be a part of this beautiful moment ❤