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Dig In: Delicious, Guest-Friendly Cocktail Reception Hors D’oeuvre

Photo: DW Photography
Photo: DW Photography

Nothing stokes the appetite like a wedding ceremony. All that pre-wedding preparation and gussying-up, all that pomp and circumstance, all that love being pledged and promised and celebrated. After sighing and smiling their way through your ceremony, you can bet your guests will be hungry. So give them what they need, Houston bride: sustenance, served up with special-occasion flair.

Remember, your cocktail reception hors d’oeuvre will be the first taste guests get of your wedding, and they need to set the right impression. Where presentation is concerned, elegance and artistry are de rigueur, but don’t overdo it—nobody wants to confront food they can’t identify or figure out how to insert into their mouths.

We suggest keeping things simple and delicious, with a focus on quality and handle-ability. As for cocktail reception hors d’oeuvre no-nos? They include messy items (save the Buffalo wings for a post-wedding poker night), bad-breath and heartburn inducers (raw onions do NOT make for pleasant close-quarters mingling), and a lack of choices for vegetarians or guests who observe religious food restrictions (maybe rethink that all-pork smorgasbord your fiancé fancies, Houston bride).

Here are some of our all-time favorite hors d’oeuvre items, any one of which your caterer is likely to be able to provide, along with unique signature specialties of their very own. Can’t decide just by browsing? That’s what tastings are for, Houston bride! Isn’t wedding-planning yummy?

•    Goat cheese tart with fig jam
•    Smoked salmon tartare on potato slices
•    Tuna tartare on crispy wontons
•    Tandoori or satay chicken skewers
•    Scallops wrapped in smoked bacon
•    Coconut shrimp
•    Stuffed mushroom caps
•    Crispy spring rolls
•    Baby lamb chops
•    Mini Beef Wellington
•    Mini crab cakes
•    Mini gourmet pizzas
•    Gourmet sliders
•    Assorted crostini (savory toasted crackers topped with cheese, vegetables or meat—make sure they’re not too crunchy or they’ll shatter when guests try to bite them!)

Don’t Forget the Ladies’ Room (or Gents’ Either, for that Matter…)!

If you’ve ever attended a wedding, Houston bride, you know that the restroom is usually one of the most heavily trafficked areas in the venue. For starters, there’s the little matter of all that wedding-day weeping, which naturally drives makeup-wearers into the restroom for touch-ups. More than that, the restroom—particularly the ladies’ room—is typically the scene of lively conversations, sometimes even of happy reunions (there’s often so much going on at the wedding, that the ladies’ room ends up being where gals go to catch up on gossip and reconnect with old friends).

Unfortunately, the restroom is frequently one of the most overlooked areas when it comes to wedding decor and floral. If your wedding site’s restroom is going to be a central gathering point, doesn’t it deserve a proper dolling up? Don’t your guests deserve to be immersed in the beauty and grandeur of your wedding even when they step off the dance floor and into the loo?

So, please pardon our toilet talk, but here are a few fantastic ideas for giving your reception restroom(s) the attention to which they’re entitled:

Petal Project: Carry through your wedding’s floral look by placing small arrangements, even just a couple of blooms, on the restroom’s sink counter.

Wax Works: If your venue allows, place votive candles on the sink counter, or incorporate them into the mini floral arrangements. Restrooms are the perfect place to use scented candles, which should be avoided in dining areas so as not overwhelm sensitive sniffers and conflict with food scents.

Sound Scape: If it’s possible to conceal a small sound system and set up speakers discreetly, have songs from your wedding playlist playing in the restroom—at a soft, conversation-friendly volume, of course.

Touch Up Stuff: If your venue’s restroom doesn’t already provide them, you should purchase items like hair spray, hand lotion, Q-tips, breath mints and Band-Aid Blister Block, and have your planner or venue staff arrange them attractively on the restroom counter (decorative mirror trays and glass sundry jars work well for this purpose, and can be gussied up with glass stones, floral and candles). For the men’s room, set out handkerchiefs, toothpicks, breath mints and hard candies. Your guests will be grateful, we guarantee.

Five Essential Tips for Including Kids in Your Wedding

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Photo: Nhan Nguyen Photography

If you’ve always envisioned your wedding as a strictly adult affair, this probably isn’t a blog post you need to bother with. BUT, if like many brides, you are considering including one, two or a bunch of children at your wedding, you’ll want to read on.

Whether or not to have children at your wedding is almost always a difficult decision fraught with potential offenses and possible (but certainly avoidable) catastrophes. If you happen to either have children in your family with whom you are very close, or have children of your own, then there’s a good chance you’ll want to include these little ones on your guest list.

Of course, it helps hugely if your wedding is scheduled to take place fairly early in the day (tantrums are much more likely to occur late, when children are kept up past regular bedtimes).

And, naturally, you’re more likely to be comfortable with kids at your wedding if you welcome the whimsical spontaneity that children often bring, and are OK with some things not going exactly as you had planned (perhaps your little nephew simply refuses to wear anything but his beloved green dinosaur T-shirt, or your best friend’s young daughter decides to belt out the ABC song during your ceremony!).

If you do decide to have wee ones at your wedding, here are five top tips for maximizing their (and your) enjoyment, and minimizing meltdowns.

1. Keep Them Occupied: Nothing breeds crankiness and chaos more than boredom. If you plan to have children at your wedding, make sure you have plenty for them to do. This may mean hiring a professional children’s entertainer to tell stories, paint faces, etc., or a childcare provider (or two) to take the kids on a “discovery stroll” or lead a scavenger hunt. If your venue has space, you may want to set up a separate “screening room” where you can play kids’ TV programs or movies on DVD.

2. Feed Them: Kids tend to be finicky eaters, and they tend to behave better when well fed. Keep their bellies full and their attention occupied by providing kid-friendly meal items served at low, easy-to-reach tables. Good choices include finger foods like chicken strips, mini burgers, cheese pizza, veggies and dip, and fresh fruit, along with juice boxes or milk boxes to drink. Try to avoid serving them sweet treats, which inevitably lead to sugar-fueled hyperactivity and the inevitable post-mania crash.

3. Give Them a Role: If possible, include invited children in your ceremony by giving them tasks. Sure, there’s usually only one ring-bearer or flower girl, but who says you can’t have three darling little girls holding tiny nosegays beside your bridesmaids, or two handsome boys handing out programs to entering guests?

4. Let Parents Prep in Peace: Try to provide childcare during the hours prior to your wedding to allow guests, especially members of your wedding party, to get themselves ready. This is especially feasible if you are getting married at a hotel or club where a room can be set aside for kids to eat, nap or play while parents get gussied up elsewhere on site.

5. Don’t Force the Issue: A wedding can be an intimidating environment for a small child. Don’t try to force a resistant child to leave his parents’ side, or to participate in activities if he doesn’t seem inclined. Most children need a little time to warm up to the situation and will naturally gravitate toward other kids who are having fun when he is comfortable and feels safe and ready.

Wedding Shoes that Wow

Think the selection of your wedding gown is just about the toughest choice you’ve ever had to make? You obviously haven’t gone wedding shoe shopping yet, Houston bride. Peep-toe or slingback? Flower or bow? High heel or ballet flat? The options are endless.

To settle on the perfect pair, consider your dress style. In general, narrower silhouettes are best paired with a show-off shoe, since it’s more likely to be on view. Ditto shorter dress styles, which look lovely with satin peep-toes, strappy sandals, sparkly wedges or even elegant ballet flats. Ballgown styles go well with platforms, slingbacks and pretty pumps.

While your shoes need not match your dress—champagne shoes are fine with a white gown; satin shoes go well with a tulle skirt—if you’re partial to embellishments, try to couple like with like (don’t mix heavily bejeweled footwear with a seed-pearl-encrusted gown, for instance).

A few more words of advice: Make sure you bring your wedding shoes (or a different pair of the same heel height) to all your gown fittings, to ensure your hem is the proper length. Also, you may want to buy two pairs of wedding shoes, particularly if you will be changing outfits between ceremony and reception. Even if you plan to party in your bridal finery, consider a comfier pair of reception shoes so you’re able to dance the night away painlessly.

And now, a few of our current favorite bridal shoe picks.

 

If your budget allows, you’ll want to have a look at these darlings from designers Christian Louboutin and Giuseppe Zanotti. Both are d’Orsay style, peep-toe, bow-accented and drop-dead gorgeous, but somehow they couldn’t be less alike. We love them both!

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Christian Louboutin Carnaval Nodo Satin d’Orsay Pumps


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Giuseppe Zanotti 80429 Wedding Shoe

Looking for something a little unconventional? Check out the Body Talk from Poetic License—a sweet satin T-strap with an adorable frill detail and sturdy, dance-friendly 3 ½ -inch heel.

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Poetic License Body Talk

A pretty wedge combines (relative) comfort with modern style. We love the exceptionally affordable Shanika Wedge from Touch Ups with its rhinestone-accented buckle closures and dyeable satin upper, and the T-strap Nina Gamma evening sandal, with a cool Lucite heel and just a touch of bling.

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Shanika Wedge

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Nina Gamma Wedge

No matter what shoes you take a shine to, they’ll get an extra bit of wedding sparkle from Wedding Things’ Bridal Bling shoe-sole initials—perfect for trying out your new last name!

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Wedding Flowers that Beat the Heat

Photo courtesy Wedding Flowers by Lisa

Photo courtesy Blooming Gallery

Doesn’t matter what the calendar says—summer is officially here. With today’s temperature looking to top 90 degrees, and the rest of the week, month and entire season likely to bring more of the same, it’s time to think about wedding flowers that can endure Houston’s notorious heat without a petal out of place.

If you’re planning a Houston wedding in the next few months, you’ll want to make sure you choose heat- and humidity-resistant blooms, particularly if any part of your wedding is scheduled to take place outdoors.

Among the heartiest, and loveliest, hot-weather floral picks, the intricate orchid is an enduring favorite. Despite their delicate, exotic appearance, orchids are extraordinarily well suited to maintaining their dewy appearance in even the steamiest weather conditions. Whether you choose clusters of six-petal dendrobiums or showy, dewy cymbidiums, you can’t go wrong with these sturdy plants in your bouquet or centerpieces. And for grooms and groomsmen, a single cymbidium makes a dashing boutonniere!

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Photo by D. Jones Photography, courtesy Events in Bloom

The elegant, attenuated calla lily is another great summer wedding bloom. Choose mini callas in intense, vibrant shades—choices typically include gold, hot pink, scarlet and purplish-black—and have your floral provider create a simple, unadorned, hand-tied nosegay, or an ornate, jewel-accented bouquet.

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Photo courtesy alovelymorning.blogspot.com

For centerpieces, you might try forgoing cut floral altogether. Succulent arrangements can be a stunning modern alternative to traditional tabletop floral. Succulents come in almost as many shapes and colors as cut flowers, but unlike conventional wedding flowers, they retain moisture in their leaves and stems, and can stand up to intense summer heat. Your floral vendor can create arrangements using floral foam and/or colored stones, bits of glass or other textured pieces for anchoring and additional color. Or use potted succulents that can double as guest favors when your celebration comes to a close.