6 Tasty Signature Cocktails For Your Summer Wedding

There’s nothing better than a summer wedding, but boy it can get hot! Make sure your guests stay nice and refreshed by offering a signature drink to keep them cool. Read on for 6 different options to include on your special day!

 Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography

Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography

1. Rum Orange Sizzle: With the sweet taste of orange juice and rum, a summer favorite, your guests will have a sweet drink to sip down.

 Complete Recipe found  HERE

Complete Recipe found HERE

Are some of your guests under 21? Forget about the liquor, your underage guests will feel just as ‘cool’ by keeping these ingredients on hand: Sugar cube, Maraschino cherry and ice.

2. Blueberry Ginger Mule: Putting a creative twist on a Moscow Mule, blueberries can be added for both flavor and a touch of color. Try putting the drink in a frosted glass to keep it cooler longer!

 Complete Recipe found  HERE

Complete Recipe found HERE

Are some of your guests under 21? Forget about the liquor, and add lemonade, frozen blueberries, zest and juice of orange and lemon, sugar, white vinegar and vanilla flavoring. 

3. Flor de Cana Pina Colada: A typical summer drink, your guests will have this cocktail and feel like they are on a tropical vacation. Don’t forget a pineapple wedge on the rim of the glass for a nice, simple garnish!

 Complete Recipe found  HERE

Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Simply take out the liquor, allowing your underage guests to enjoy a nice, refreshing coconut delight.

4. Tropical Negroni: A classic drink but with a twist. To incorporate even more of the tropical feel, serve the drink inside a pineapple!

 Complete Recipe found  HERE

Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Forget about the liquor while still keeping these simple ingredients: crushed ice, strawberry simple syrup and pineapple juice

5. Dragon Bramble: A unique cocktail will keep your guests on their toes, while also incorporating you and your significant others unique relationship! With a nice pop of color, this drink would be perfect with anything millennial pink.

 Complete Recipe found  HERE

Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Forget about the liquor while still keeping these simple ingredients: dragon fruit puree, blackberry simple syrup, lemon juice and ice.

6. Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade: With a twist added to regular lemonade, there will be an sweeter punch when mixed with lemon and sugar.

 Complete Recipe found  HERE

Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Forget about the liquor while keeping these simple ingredients: lemonade, sugar, lemon sugar, grated lemon rind, muddled raspberries and ice.

What is your favorite signature cocktail? My favorite is an oldie but a goodie...vodka tonic. ;-)

San Diego Elopement

Living in the midwest, it is not everyday where I can go to a beach and create a luxury experience for two people in love. This past February, a luxury beach elopement is just what I was able to do! Joy Bijedic, Being Joy Photography, and I styled and planned this luxury elopement experience for Malwina and Shane. This happy couple was originally from the midwest and both relocated out to San Diego due to their jobs. Everything turned out beautifully and Joy and I could not be more proud of this experience. We had a rock star team of vendors that was able to come together and pull off a romantic dinner on the La Jolla Cove beach. 


Vendor Love
Planning: Ashley Nicole Events Inc
Photography: Being Joy Photography
Bridal Gown: Alyssa Kristin
Floral: Wyld Blooms
Edible Place Cards: Nat Sweets
Stationary: Studio M Creations
Hair & Makeup: Flora Makeup & Hair
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals
Linen: BBJ Linen
Venue: La Jolla Cove
Bride: Malwina
Groom: Shane

My Ultimate Guilty Pleasure: Bagel Bites

If you have learned anything about me, from following along in my social media accounts, is that I am absolutely OBSESSED with the classic childhood favorite: Bagel Bites! I have no idea why I love them so much, but I think they are a great quick snack, tasty dinner option or even in a pinch, really good for breakfast. Really, in my mind, there is no wrong time to eat a bagel bite. I could even conceive of hosting a dinner party strictly on Bagel Bites alone. 

I recently had my good friend, Joy, from Being Joy Photography come over to my house to photograph the proper techniques to prepare this tasty treat. Follow along as I share with you my undeniable guilty pleasure! 

So, nothing crazy to see here! Just a girl who loves her bagel bites and can not wait for them to come out of the oven! I am pretty basic, and like the plain cheese the best. I think the sausage and pepperoni simply do not do bagel bites any justice. 

Here is how to make them extra amazing: 1. Cook in the oven at 425 degrees for about 13-15 minutes 2. Place them on parchment paper so the cheese can get crispy and easily peel off (also makes clean up a breeze! 3. Add extra cheese, like good gourmet cheddar, the more the better 4. Cook until nice and bubbly golden brown 5. Remove from oven 6. Let cool, (learned the hard way more often than not!) 7. Eat and enjoy 8. Repeat as often as necessary! 

Vendor Spotlight:

Location: Private Residence
Photography: Being Joy Photography
Hair and Makeup: Glamtique Blow Dry Bar
Food: Ore Ida Bagel Bites

Supporting Your Spouse

This past week, Adrian and I celebrated our 4th Wedding Anniversary! I can not believe how fast time flies! The thing with getting married, is life keeps moving after the wedding day. A marriage is simply not one day, it is a lifetime of constantly choosing that person. Every day, we choose to make it work and we choose to laugh. We also choose to cry and support each other when times are not easy. Choice, that is the thing that makes it all work. 

 Photo Credit: Authentic Adventure Co

Photo Credit: Authentic Adventure Co

Today, in this next phase of life, I am choosing to celebrate with Adrian while he is in Dallas getting a promotion for work! He has worked many long years in aviation and he is finally getting a well deserved transfer to international flying at American Airlines! We have been very lucky and blessed in our lives. It is important to realize the good things that happen in life and being able to work through the tough parts. 

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Supporting your spouse does not mean that you obsess over every move they make, every meal they eat and how much sleep they get. Sometimes supporting your spouse means trying not to smother them in their sleep when they are snoring loud enough to wake the dead (not that I have ever contemplated this)! Supporting, means allowing them to be their own person while working together on shared goals and passions. When two become one, you do not stop living your individual life. You now simply have a 24/7 cheerleader and support system. You do not have to face the world alone.  

 Seriously, I have to deal with this on a daily basis! Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography

Seriously, I have to deal with this on a daily basis! Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography

 Finally, a semi-decent photo of us! LOL Thanks @Beingjoyphotography!

Finally, a semi-decent photo of us! LOL Thanks @Beingjoyphotography!

Everyday, we try and be a better version of who we were yesterday. Some days we fall short and other days we thrive. Having the desire to make it work and stick it through NO MATTER WHAT has served us well these past 4 years. I can not wait to see what the next 70 years has in store. 

In what ways do you support your spouse? I would love to hear in the comments below! 


Vendor Spotlight in the Images Above:
Planning: Ashley Nicole Events Inc
Videography: NightOwls Media
Photography: Authentic Adventure Co
Hair & Makeup: Tamara Hair and Makeup Artistry


For the full feature of a Wedding Planner's wedding, click HERE!

ANE Real Wedding: Kayla & Kyle

Every once in awhile, a love comes along that you know will stand the test of time. Kayla & Kyle have that love. This past Sunday, they celebrated their 1st Anniversary! I can not believe how time flies, when you are young, in love and having fun. 

I met Kayla and Kyle and immediately fell in love with Kayla's spunky personality. We had a lot in common and it felt like we had known each other for years. Kayla, 100% trusted and believed that I could turn her dream into reality which makes my job so much easier. What I love about Kyle is his passion and clear adoration for Kayla. He loves her SO MUCH! This wedding was filled with COLOR and lots of sunflowers! Kayla found these fun bridesmaid's dresses at JcPenny of all places! I was obsessed! I have a feeling, the girls will certainly re use these dresses. Their wedding was filled with so much love, laughter and smiles. It was hard for them to contain their excitement. Outdoor ceremonies can be tricky in the spring, however, the day was perfect and they were able to get married along the Fox River in Elgin, Illinois. 

Happy Anniversary Kayla & Kyle! Thank you for allowing Ashley Nicole Events Inc to be apart of your big day!


Vendor Spotlight:

Planning: Ashley Nicole Events Inc
Ceremony Venue: Walton Island, Elgin
Reception Venue: The Haight, Elgin
Florist: Town & Country Gardens
Hair & Makeup: Tamara Makeup & Hair Artistry
Catering: Evantastik, Inc
Cake: Delish Cakes
Photography: Love & Ink Photography
Rentals: A-Z Rentals
DJ: DJs For You

Party On, Folks!

Are you looking to provide your guests with a late night snack? This trendy food option provides your guests even more delicious (though, much more casual food) later in the evening. This food, helps soak up some of the alcohol and keep the dancing going full steam ahead! Here are 8 fun, creative and tried & true options!

Chicken & Waffles: A little bit savory, a little bit sweet. This is becoming quite the crowd favorite! If the idea of mixing chicken and waffles doesn't make your mouth water, you could do a full size chicken tender with different dipping sauces. Think Ranch, BBQ, Honey, etc. 

 Credit and Original Recipe, click  HERE

Credit and Original Recipe, click HERE

Nacho and Salsa Bar: I think that Mexican is by far one of my all time favorites. Every time I get to eat nachos is a really good day. Having a build your own nacho bar at a wedding makes a fun, interactive activity for your guests to enjoy. Having a variety of toppings makes sure that everyone is a happy camper! Ole! 

 Photo Credit Click  HERE

Photo Credit Click HERE

Did I mention how much I love Mexican? Having food trucks can be a huge wow factor at your wedding. Logistically, it needs to be thought through. If you are getting married on the rooftop of the swankiest hotel, it might not make much sense to have a food truck sit on the street. Your guests will have to leave the venue, head down the elevator and hang out with locals on the street also indulging in your *free to them* tacos. If the venue can accommodate a food truck, I say go for it! 

 Photo Credit:  Salt & Pine  

Photo Credit: Salt & Pine 

Ice Cream Cart: Basically, everything is better with Ice Cream. I may be a little biased (my parents own an ice cream store) but nevertheless, ice cream is filled with happy memories. Why not bring those happy times to your wedding...an already SUPER HAPPY event! You could do ice cream sundaes, ice cream bars or have a cart ready to scoop out your favorite flavor. 

 One really great local option is  Cooks Ice Cream  in Elgin, Illinois 

One really great local option is Cooks Ice Cream in Elgin, Illinois 

S'mores Bar: Give me s'more love! Who doesn't love a good, hot gooey s'more?!? No one I know! Create a fun, interactive childhood favorite for a late night snack at your next wedding or event! 

 Photo Credit and Original Story  HERE

Photo Credit and Original Story HERE

Bacon Bar: Some people believe BACON IS LIFE...and I would not disagree. This yummy breakfast staple is good any time of the day or night. Bacon dipped in peanut butter and chocolate takes the tasty treat to a whole new level. 

 Photo Credit:  Authentic Adventure Co

Pizza: Late Night Pizza...enough said. Gosh, I am getting hungry!

 Photo Credit and Original Story  HERE

Photo Credit and Original Story HERE

Donut Wall: This trend can stay around forEVAAA if you ask me. 

 Photo Credit and Original Source  HERE

Photo Credit and Original Source HERE

I'm not sure about you, but I am super hungry right now...I better go eat a salad from indulging in all of these delicious (but not so healthy) options! ;-) If you have a unique and creative late night snack idea, send it my way! 

Need a Bridesmaid Gift? Look No Further!

Are you struggling to find something to gift to your bridesmaids? If so, keep reading!

 Photo Credit: Dave Pavlina Hair and Makeup: Gold Plaited 

Photo Credit: Dave Pavlina Hair and Makeup: Gold Plaited 


If you have been a reader for a while, you might remember that a few weeks ago, I was sent a groomsmen gift to review. The gift was completely free and I was only responsible for providing my honest feedback. If you missed the review of gifts for guys, you can click here. After I wrote my review for the Bleacher Buddy, Joe asked if I wanted to test out some gifts for the ladies. Of course, I would be interested! Did I mention, I love getting free swag?!?  I reviewed the website Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique and selected my item to review. Below are my honest thoughts for purchasing gifts for your best girlfriends from Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique.

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Here are my thoughts:
 

Website: Very easy to navigate, constantly making updates and adding additional products to their site. Their products range in price from $11 to $285. Personalization is key with this company as your can put a name, monogram or face on pretty much anything they sell. Their selection of gifts at this point is not vastly different from other companies, but make it easy to select gifts that can be personalized. In conjunction with Groovy Guy Gifts you can find something for just about everyone in your bridal party.

Shipping: They have the standard 8-12 business day shipping but also provide expedited shipping (5 business days) for those couples who forgot that they need to get something sooner. These types of purchases can slip by without even thinking about it! Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique is currently running a sale for FREE personalization and FREE shipping on orders over $75. If you have a medium to large party, this will not be difficult as items can add up quickly. I love taking advantage of sales whenever possible!

Product: I selected the Timeless Collection Floral Kimono! The site offers several types of floral robes, but something about the navy option really spoke to me. I also know that robes are STILL a very popular bridesmaid gift. For me personally, when I get gifts like these at weddings, I am not a *huge* fan of personalization...some of your friends might be single or in the process of changing their name. A lot of people love doing this, so just take my opinion as that, opinion. You can also of course order the gift without personalization. I wanted to get the full experience, so I got my first name embroidered. 

 

floral kimono

When I ordered the item, I requested a navy robe with a navy inscription of my first name. I received a navy robe with my name embroidered in pink. I reached out to the company and they noted the error. They are in the process of shipping me out a corrected robe. I understand mistakes happen and we are all human. Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique gets bonus points for owning the error and immediately setting into motion the solution. *Another reason to not wait when you are getting gifts personalized.

Packaging: The box came very quickly! I was quite surprised. It was wrapped up in a nice gift bag. I rank the packaging a 10!
 

Review of Product: The Timeless Collection Floral Kimono in Navy is in general a good quality robe. The colors are vibrant and the garment is professionally sewn. Despite the embroidery color issue, they embroidered my name nicely and is of  good size. The robe fits well and states that it will fit most people. Even if you can not tie the robe, keeping it open will still be a nice option.

Overall Ranking out of 10: I rank this item and the website an 8.5 out of 10. Overall, great packaging, great design and excellent customer service from Bridesmaid Gifts Boutique. I did remove 1 star because of the unfortunate error in the color of my name. I am also removing a half star due to the common items on their site. I have been surprised at the improvements to the site since I last visited and look forward to seeing a wider selection of unique bridesmaid gifts. It is a brand new site, so in time, they will have as a unique selection as the Groovy Guy Gifts. I will add one star back once the corrected robe gets delivered! In general, a good way to buy gifts for anyone in your bridal party. I look forward to seeing where they take gift giving in the future.

If you know of other great gift ideas for the ladies in your life, send me a message and I will get the item and write a review of it for you! 

 

How a Former Chicago Film Star Turned Me Into a Wedding Planner!

Life often has a way of surprising you. You might have a job that is just a job, truly a means to an end... A stepping stone. Nothing is wrong with these types of jobs. Stepping stones lead you to bigger and better things. It takes vision and determination to know a stepping stone vs. the mountain.  When you lose sight of the grander picture, those stepping stones become boulders, weigh you down, and then you fail to reach the peak. I’ve had my fair share of stepping stones. I have waited tables, delivered food, I even worked at a nursing home. All of these were great stepping stones and taught me things that I still use to this day. One job in particular carved the path that I am still walking down.

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I met George Bozonelos, the owner of Gaslite Manor Banquets, through one of those stepping stones. I waited tables at a restaurant and my manager (Patrick) happened to be George's cousin. I began telling my coworkers my passion for weddings and my desire to one day be a wedding planner.  Patrick knew I was terrible at waiting tables. He almost fired me on more than one occasion for dropping a platter of food. What he saw in me was potential. Patrick saw a drive and determination that was greater than waiting tables. Patrick connected me with George and I began a college internship at Gaslite Manor Banquets. I was able to experience every aspect of an event from the sales and logistics to placing food orders with vendors and managing a staff of 20 people. I got to work an event from beginning to end and see it truly come to life. Sure, I had to do some not very glamorous things like helping do the dishes but in those menial tasks, I saw true importance and then delighted  in the fun tasks like linen and cake selections.

Eventually, the internship turned into a summer job  and I was offered my very first full-time position right out of grad school. I could not have been more excited. The hours were long and I learned the meaning of “working weekends” but I would not have changed a thing. I consider George to be my mentor. I learned how to plan my very first wedding from watching him. He taught me to NEVER run in front of guests, even if there is a fire in the kitchen! If a guest sees you run, they know something is not right. “Walk with purpose” is what he used to tell me. Hurry, but don’t run. I can hear his voice in my head every time I casually walk with *intense purpose* across a room.

He taught me that there are busy seasons and slow seasons in the wedding industry and eventually it will all work itself out. He taught me that funerals can be just as entertaining as a wedding, and that when you sit in your office with the lights turned off, you will see people do the darnedest things as they exit the bathroom and think no one can see them.

 

 

Please enjoy this very candid interview with the man who put me on the path to my personal mountain, George Bozonelos. I owe this man everything.

Tell me how you got started in the wedding business.

 I've been working in the business since I was kid, started with folding napkins and peeling potatoes.  Then in September 2000 we bought Gaslite Manor Banquets, and the rest as they say is history.

How did your Venue come to be? Are there any interesting facts about the space? What was the space before it became a wedding venue?

Gaslite Manor Banquets has been in this location since 1968.  We completely renovated the space in 2001, and again in 2008. Our crowning achievement is the addition of The Gaslite Chapel, which accommodates all weddings that we host at all 3 of our banquet facilities.  Lincoln Inn Banquets in Batavia and The Courtyard Banquets in Warrenville.

How long have you been at Gaslite Manor?

We have been at this location over 17 years.

How many people does the space fit for a cocktail reception? Sit down dinner? Can you accommodate Ceremonies?

We can accommodate as few as 100 people to as large as 900 people.  The Gaslite Chapel can seat 160 people for the ideal wedding ceremony.

What do you love about the job?

Best part of the job, by far, is watching a couple come in nervous and scared at the first consultation, to then a ball of energy and pure joy the night of the wedding.

What do you not love so much about the job?

My biggest gripe is when family members try to take over the coordination of a ceremony & reception.  We have people in place to make sure that everything goes according to plan, and family tend to input their 2 cents and try to convince the bride that we aren't doing things properly.  We have been doing our job for way too long to not know how to cut a wedding cake!

What is something you wish all couples looking at Gaslite Manor considered or asked when booking a venue?  

The best questions to ask us, or any venue for that matter, What keeps your repeat clients coming back?  Why do they trust Gaslite Manor Banquets with their important events? (Editors Note: Gaslite Manor has done baptisms, birthdays, weddings and funerals for many repeat families in the Chicagoland area)

Besides your venue, what other venues do you respect or refer clients to if you are booked?

We have 3 facilities, so we keep our referrals in the family.

What is your favorite wedding trend for 2017 or 2018?

We have seen more and more weddings going back to live music for their receptions.  It really is a treat to not have to hear the same songs, every weekend.

Tell me one thing no one knows about you or your venue

Very few people booking Gaslite Manor Banquets know that I was an actor in college, and have a movie credit to my name.  If you see me around, go ahead and ask. I'm not shy about telling you the details of filming a movie in Chicago.

On a follow up note, being a wedding planner, I see tons of venues. Really cool industrial spaces, chic barn venues and luxury city ballrooms. I chose to get married at the place where it all began because I know the passion George and his entire staff have for each and every wedding. I chose to get  married and celebrate my special day with the person who gave me a tiny spark of his own passion. If our big brother/little sister relationship tells you anything...I stopped working there years ago, and I still have a key to the building. You should totally stop in and ask him to tell you the story of filming a *very famous* Chicago movie. the stories of the other *very famous* actors are pretty amazing. But really, if you are getting married or know someone getting married and you want an awesome experience with an affordable price tag, please stop in and visit George and the rest of the talented staff. Gaslite Manor Banquets will not disappoint. 

 

San Diego Love Fest

Stephanie was interning at the Wide World of Sports complex in Disney World and Alex was working for a marketing company on special assignment.  One day at work, Stephanie was scheduled to work security... Don't get me wrong, Stephanie is a strong girl, but not very intimidating!  Sometimes, the universe conspires to put you in direct path with your future spouse. In this case, it put Stephanie on a direct collision course with her future husband, Alex! Stephanie, having been originally from California moved to Florida for the Walt Disney internship and Alex was currently living and working in Florida. After Stephanie finished school and Alex applied for a new position, he followed her and his dreams across country as they made a new home in Sunny San Diego.

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Joy from Being Joy Photography captured their love as we visited some of the most iconic locations in San Diego on an unseasonably cold and windy day. Stephanie proved to be a complete bombshell in the custom Alyssa Kristin bridal gown and her flowers were provided by Wyld Blooms. Stephanie’s hair and makeup was provided by Flora Hair and Makeup. Stephanie and Alex, you both were such troopers braving the cold and wind! You deserve a lifetime of love and happiness and I wish you nothing but the best!