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cake gazing

I am in love head over heels in love with this cake! Taken by the always wonderful Jen of JK Photography, I saw this cake pic earlier this week, and haven’t been able to take my eyes off of it! It has such a subtle vintage beauty, and is dramatic, while so simple. Love it!

rings & registries {green carat}

(all images via Green Carat)

I am absolutely in love with Green Carat (also known as Green Karat)! The site offers rings and other jewelry pieces made from recycled gold, titanium, and gem stones. They have a ton of information on how mining and other jewelry practices impact the environment (and people involved with it) and how you can help.  Also, I love that each of their pieces is so unique, and each offers a short snippet of information about its meaning. They have an especially fabulous selection of men’s rings, if you’re looking for something a little different for your wedding bands!

Also, check out the Green Carat Registry. No, you’re not registering for jewelry…well, not exactly! You can setup a registry that will let your friends and family donate their old gold jewelry (think dad’s old high school ring and mom’s gold necklace) which will be used to make YOUR custom wedding jewelry! Also, the donations are used to offset the cost of your pieces. Such a great idea, and a fabulous way to keep a part of your friends and family with you! If you’re not in the market for a new ring, pass this along–I love finding companies that have a sense of responsibility, and produce unique products!

Personally, I’d have to get the Binary ring (on the right, 3rd down) which actually spells out your own message in binary (computer language)—for my computer loving, website programming hubby!

diy {sisle runner}

Earlier this week I posted about the fabulous custom runners available at {Fairytale Runners} Now, for those of you DIY gals out there who can’t (or just don’t want to) spend $200+ on a custom runner, here is the step by step for making your own! People assume this is difficult, but it’s SO easy!


  • Aisle runner (size and width depend on your preference) but for these directions it should be a sheer material. Available for $29.99-$49.99 at stores like Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, JoAnne Fabric
  • A poster printer or access to Kinkos, Staples, or a local printer (we used a family member who blew it up at work for us!)
  • Paint (pick a color, any color! to coordinate with your wedding palette)
  • Brushes (a variety of sizes depending on your design)
  • Fabric Tape or Paper weights
  • Time (2+ hours depending on the complexity of your design)

First, Decide what you want to put on your aisle runner. For ours, we did a very simple monogram, which we had also used on our invites. Also, head down to your local craft store, and pick out the perfect paint color. The color tends to look much different on your fabric, so I suggest buying a variety of colors in your hue to try on a scrap of fabric (and at $1-$4 a bottle, it’s sure to be a worth while purchase!)

Using a poster printer (or heading down to your local kinkos or staples), blow your image up to fit on the aisle runner, with at least 6 inches of white space on each side. The size will vary, depending on the width of aisle runner you purchase.

Be sure to measure the aisle at your church or ceremony location, to determine where the design should be placed on your aisle runner.

Next, it’s time to start tracing….lay your aisle runner on top of your print out, and secure it with fabric tape, or paper weights. I suggest you use a large hard surface such as a large table or your floor, but I used the coffee table in my living room, so it’s personal choice! Use a fabric pen (or permanent gel pen) in a color that will blend in with your paint (ie. don’t trace with blue if you’re painting in yellow!)

(above) This is the worst picture in the world, but if you squint, this is what your aisle runner should look like after tracing–Now, it’s time for painting…the fun stuff!

Depending on your design, you’ll need to buy a variety of brushes to meet your needs. I had to use some very tiny brushes to fill in the delicate tails on my “J.” Squirt some paint on a plate (the palette of champions) and get going!

Keep painting (I painted for about 2 hours for this simple design)….. If you’re using multiple colors, make sure to paint in layers, painting each color, and letting it dry before moving on to the next colored section. Your finished product should look like this….

Ta Da! For the cost of a runner, plus $10-$20, and a few hours of your time, you can add a custom touch to your aisle! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment, or email me at jessica {at} Stellaeventdesign {dot} com! Happy Painting!

the secret to a perfect wedding

As a wedding coordinator, I’m often asked by family and friends, “What if something happens at the wedding? or “What if something goes wrong? Aren’t you worried the bride and groom will blame you? Or be angry?” My simple reply: “Something will happen at the wedding, and they will be happy I’m there to handle it!”

Couples who enlist the services of a planner {either for full planning or day-of} often do so because they are realistically aware of the fact that there are many things that they will be unable to control on their wedding day: the weather, unexpected illnesses, lost guests, forgotten items, incorrect linens, vendor mishaps, etc. As a wedding coordinator we also cannot prevent all of those situations, but we are able to trouble shoot them, so that even though there may be an “issue,” the birde and groom can still go on enjoying their day. The trick is not to expect that there will be no problems, but to relax in the knowledge that you have put a team in place to ensure that any situations will be handled, and that you can go on to enjoy the day!

I, on many occasions, have helped brides and grooms to trouble shoot their wedding “issues.” I have often been the runner-of-errands, making runs from the reception to fetch forgotten cake servers, a missing guest book, or a more comfortable pair of shoes. I’m a giver-of-directions, opener of locked buildings {when the venue doesn’t do it themselves} and a finder-of-the-bestman’s-tie. When the bakery delivers a sheet cake far too small to feed the group, I’m off to the bakery to pick something up!

Here are some more real-wedding examples from other coordinators {who were nice enough to share their stories!}:

April{Blu.Sky.Designs} Check out her blog for a real-wedding example of how mother nature sometimes has her own plans!

Emilie{Chere Amie} Read about how one MOB was MIA for the wedding due to an unexpected illness!

Melissa{Masterpiece Weddings} Melissa shares her stories of a Florist Faux Pas and a ‘Maids Jewelry Fix

Emilie also shared this great story with me:

Once, the bride and groom forgot to mention to me that they had decided to get a shuttle for six of their spanish-only speaking guests. The shuttle got lost, and these out of town guests missed the wedding (by about 45 minutes). The bride was quite upset, but this gave us the opporunity to take 15 minutes out of cocktails to have a short, private ceremony for the missing guests … in spanish! The bride and groom were TOTAL troopers, and the day was a success because they went with the flow!”

I love that story! What a special moment they had, because someone was there to offer a solution to a not-so-great situation! If you’re tying the knot soon, one of the most important things you can do to ensure a great day, is to have realistic expectations. Picture perfect would be ideal {who wouldn’t love that!?} But it’s not realistic. Remember what the day is all about—remember the person, the love, and the commitment you’ve joined with friends and family to celebrate. And, whether it’s a professional coordinator, a family member, trusted friend, or mistress of ceremonies—make sure you have someone in place to take care of any issues, so you can sit back and enjoy your day–you’ll be glad you did {and you probably won’t hear about any of those little wedding “issues” until after it’s all said and done} which is exactly how it should be!

Do you have any wedding “issues” you experienced {or helped to trouble shoot?}

{fairytale runners}

I absolutely LOVE custom aisle runners! Even if it’s one of the only things you do to spruce up your ceremony site, it’s such a fantastic way to make your wedding feel like a custom event. Fairytale Runners was started by a former bride, who got such rave reviews on her own runner, that she began making them for family and friends, and then went into business! I saw this on Emilie Duncan’s Blog and just had to share after checking out the web site!

I’ve seen lots of places you can buy custom runners—ebay, etsy, other websites—but what caught my eye about Fairytale Runners is that they actually use canvas to make the aisle runner. This means no snagging, no poking a heel through the runner, and canvas is heavy enough to hold it’s own in the aisle, and not wrinkle up as much. Anyone who has painted on canvas knows what a difference it makes!

The website it amazing—you can select all of your preferences online, starting with the width and length of your runner, all the way to the monogram, saying, font, and picture. One thing I especially liked was that you can send in a custom color by going to a Benjamin Moore paint store, and giving them an exact color code of what you want! No guessing, no hoping they can match the swatch from your ‘maids dress! Check it out—and later this week, look for a DIY post on doing it yourself (I did, and you can too!)

All pictures copyright of Fairytale!

forky fun {paper+cup}

I love these adorable and customizable wooden utensils from Paper+Cup. They would be absolutely fabulous for a casual barbeque rehearsal dinner, a shower, or a birthday party! Spruce up your table with a fun table cloth, vintage bottles or vases, and some fresh flowers, and you have a simple, but adorable setting for fun with friends or family!


a southwest michigan wedding with 30’s style

Saturday I had the pleasure of coordinating for Claire+Chris, a fantastic couple from Washington, DC who tied the knot in New Buffalo! The ceremony took place at St. Mary of the Lake, and the reception was held at the beautiful Barker Hall in Michigan City, Indiana. They took from Barker Hall’s 30’s style, and wove it into a beautiful wedding with charm and personality.

I missed the first dance as I was running some errands for the bride, but Leda of LVL Photography captured it beautifully—aren’t they stunning!? They opted for live music, and Me and the Boys kept the night going with big band hits! I can’t say enough good things about the band–all 8 pieces! They were all super nice, and they did an absolutely amazing job–such a unique touch!
The amazing floral arrangements were provided by Flowers with Jazz (how appropriate) and they did an absolutely amazing job–the bride incorporated Bells of Ireland into almost all of the arrangements, as well as peacock feathers.

The dinner selection was out of this world, and Matt Kis of Great Lakes Catering did a phenomenal job with the presentation. Check out their “window display” of fruit–I love it! The menu consisted of chicken breast with an apricot honey mustard glaze, roasted prime rib, glazed salmon, an amazing salad bar, and green beans and potatoes that were delish. Not to mention Matt was so easy to work with, and bent over backwards all night to help us out!

The lovely Leda and Sasha of LVL Photography were on hand to capture all of the beautiful moments at this truly personal and fun celebration. They were a pleasure to work with, and you can check out more great pics at Leda’s blog! Thanks Claire+Chris, for letting me share in your special day, and hope you enjoy your honeymoon in Hawaii!

*All images copyright LVL Photography

fundraisers that rock {a wedding for alex}

(A Wedding For Alex)

If you haven’t heard about Alex’s lemonade Stand, you are missing out on such an amazing cause! I first heard about Alex when I did a Google image search for “Lemonade Stand” (for a wedding project). What I found was an endless list of pictures of lemonade stands dedicated to this wonderful cause. Alex’s Lemonade Stand was started by a little girl with cancer. She didn’t live to see her ninth birthday, but in her short time, she managed to raise over $1 million towards the fight against cancer—I’ve lived almost 3 times longer and can’t even begin to think of how much she accomplished in such a short time!

Now, the charity lives on, and people continue to raise money in the name of Alex and her Lemonade Stand. Now, as a bride, you have a chance to make your dreams come true, while also helping this amazing cause. Omni Hotel at Independence Park has put together a wedding package to rival all wedding packages. For $20,000 (or more) you can bid on this amazing dream wedding on EBay, and have a five star wedding fit for royalty. You’ll get a wedding for 135 guests at the Omni, a couture gown, a honeymoon to Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa (my husband and I honeymooned here, and it is AMAZING!)…you also get a rehearsal dinner, and so much more! Check out the website for full details on all that’s included (jewelry, hair, cake, photo, video and entertainment, and more!) Bidding begins today, and runs through June 7th! Bid Now!

setting your wedding date

(image source)

Picking a date can be very exciting. Often, couple’s pick a date without too much consideration, which can lead to trouble down the road. Before you pick your date, consider the people and places around you—do any of the “key players”—you know, the important people like your parents, bridal party, and siblings—have prior engagements? You don’t have to completely rule out a date because one potential bridesmaid won’t be able to stand up, but if she’s really important to you (or 3 or 4 of your bridesmaids will be MIA) then you may want to consider another date. Will you have relatives unable to come because you’ve chosen a date that correlates with high school or college graduation, or because their kids are finishing up school?

Secondly, consider the places around you. Do you live near a major university, sport facility, or festival location? Here in St. Joseph we are roughly 40 minutes from Notre Dame—however, many couples are surprised to find that on home game Saturdays, a hotel room in the greater St. Joseph area is extra expensive, if not elusive all together. The same goes for the annual Venetian Festival in July, which brings in more than 100,000 tourists to the town and hotels. So if the venue you love is booked for the entire year, and has ONE hot date available….take a closer look, and make sure that you’re not missing an important event or activity that will throw a wrench in your plans. On the other hand, if you’re willing to battle crowds, and subject your guests to limited or pricey accommodations, you may be able to negotiate some great deals on these weekends!