Next month I will be heading back to Italy for my good friend Annie Lawless’ wedding in Positano. Excited is a major understatement! Having been a destination bride myself, I know how exciting the events leading up to the big day are & how much they get you in the mood to get married. Of course, I was an extremely hand-on bride and refused to let a single detail be planned without my approval. I was NOT a Bridezilla by any means, but I had to be involved. When Annie allowed us to throw her a Positano themed bridal shower (no questions asked) it was my dream scenario–an easy-going bride with a to-die for theme & an intimate guest list that gets it!
Sophie & I dreamed up the bridal shower in about 15 minutes, as we drove up to Santa Barbara together. It all just came together SO easily. It also helped that her & I had just been to the Amalfi Coast the previous summer so all the beautiful Italian details of the city were fresh in our minds. Literally the conversation went something like this, “OMG Positano theme!!” “Yessss” “Sprîtzs!” “Lemons on the table!” “All white with some simple, wild florals” “A couple games but nothing cheesy” “I’ll do the chair!” “I’ll handle the tablescape” “We’ll order yummy healthy food & desserts” “DONE!”
And just like that the shower was planned. I couldn’t let the bridal shower happen without some DIY, though. Taking cues from my own shower (which seems like 1 million years ago), I decked out a ghost chair with a bunch of faux florals that I picked up at Michaels & added a little doily “Wifey” sign for Annie to sit in. Sophie designed the cutest invitations with rose gold detailing & also handmade a trivia game, which is by far the most fun game I’ve ever played at a shower. Someone should go harass her & force her to do a blog post on it 😉 Love ya Soph!
Here are some more snaps from the beautiful Positano-themed day:
Here is a breakdown of all the details:
-The tablescape: Sophie somehow had the perfect plates with the floral detail (very Positano), as well as the linens. We made place-cards for everyone and added the invitation as decor on everyone’s plate. We kept it pretty simple & bright. I brought over my ghost chairs since they go perfectly with any table setting.
-The flowers: The Bouqs graciously created these beautiful arrangements for us, which were modeled after Annie’s wedding invitation. We also deconstructed some of the arrangements to create smaller ones since tall arrangements can sometimes block guests across the table. To elevate the table, we scattered fresh lemons all over the table to really tie in the theme.
-The food: Since most of us like to eat pretty clean, we stuck to a very simple menu of baked salmon, a yummy kale salad, angel hair pasta, roasted veggies, & fresh bread. We ordered from Coral Tree Cafe, which makes the yummiest food!
-The drinks: We decided a sprîtz bar was in order so we had all the fixings spread out on the table. We also wanted some crisp rosé, which Winc provided for us, in case someone wasn’t into a sprîtz.
-The dessert:Belen managed to find a gluten & dairy free bakery for the desserts, and let me tell you, it was incredible! I usually scoff at “fake” desserts but this was v impressive. All the desserts (unicorn donuts & pink lemonade cake) were from Karma Bakery.
-The games: As I mentioned above, Sophie created a trivia game that had fun categories like: Italy, Iconic Celebrity Relationships, Things about the Bride & Groom, & Weddings. Of course my embarrassing competitive side made an appearance and I was screaming the entire time. We also played a fun game as Annie unwrapped her gifts. We didn’t let her open cards & she had to guess whose gift belonged to whom based on the wrapping & gift.
-The details: I made some flower-infused ice for the rosé to chill in. The place-cards were all hand-written with a little flower glued to each one. The bridal chair was a major DIY undertaking but so cute in the end.
-The photos: All photography by the talented Felicia Lasala, whom we all use for our own blogs 🙂
Last week I had the pleasure of staying at The Cape Hotel in Cabo San Lucas and I wanted to give you guys my review of the place, as many of you were interested hearing about my experience staying there. This is a fairly new hotel in Cabo, and while there I learned that it was designed by a local Mexican designer who infused a strong European feel to the property. Before arriving I had of course looked up images of the hotel and thought it resembled something out of a Slim Aarons photo, and you guys know how much I love Slim-inspired places!
I went with my good friend Sophie for a fun little girls trip to explore The Cape and work on our tans. You should know that Sophie and I are very much on the same page about the pace of life–we love to have fun and cocktail it up, but we need to remain equally hydrated as we are drunk. We love to go out for a yummy dinner, but equally love staying in, ordering room service, and watching a movie. Most nights lights are out between 10 & 11PM. I guess you could say we are pretty low-key girls.
Our days were spent hanging out in a cabana overlooking the ocean, alternating between bottles of wine and water. Balance, I’m telling you. Around evening time we would swing on our balcony watching the sunset while FaceTiming with Paul so he could watch it with me. You know how much he loves a sunset! After sun down we would head to the rooftop bar for a cocktail and some photos in the cute Moroccan-inspired lounge before heading back down for dinner, and of course, dessert. The fried banana with marshmallow cream is a MUST at Manta, the restaurant!
The food was all around impeccable, but if I had to pick something that stood out to me the most, it’s the banana-crusted french toast. Like, the food was almost too good since this was a bikini-only trip. I didn’t step foot in the hotel gym but I saw a picture online and it looked super nice (LOL).
Ready for my one complaint? There was this massive iguana that was obsessed with me. In fact, I’ve decided that I was a lizard in my past life, which is why all reptiles love me and always come after me. The iguana was straight up STARING at me for half an hour and when I went into the ocean and came back……it was laying on my lounge-chair……and then…..it peed!!!!!!! To say I caused a scene is putting it lightly. I was screaming. Of out fear, of course. Thankfully everyone (guests and the staff) found me amusing and laughed rather than throwing me out of the hotel.
Some of you asked about The Cape as a wedding venue, and I definitely think this would make a beautiful setting. And hey, it’s SO much closer and easier than Europe (if you’re in Southern California, obviously). I loved the rooftop and cliffside vibes, I definitely hope to be back soon.
Recently I hosted my first (of many to come) DIY Donuts + Champagne Soiree. Since a lot of my girlfriends have asked if we can make donuts together I decided to invite a handful of girls over and do it all together. I figured with the holidays approaching it might be a fun break from all the hectic events and work we are all drowning in to just take an afternoon to be domestic.
I set up a donut decorating station, where each girl had her own drying rack of donuts to frost and embellish with gold and silver glitter (edible, of course), and festive sprinkles. It turned out to be a very relaxing and therapeutic process, according to some. Even better!
After decorating donuts, we headed to my dining table, which I converted into a DIY marbled ornaments station. I discovered this easy craft last year and was so addicted to making these ornaments I wanted more! Since this craft is relatively simple, it gave us an opportunity to chat and discuss everything from our plans for the holidays, our proposal stories, relationships, etc. This was a verrrrry girly day, but we all needed it.
Following DIY ornaments, we attempted to take a little holiday photo since none of us are exactly the Christmas-card type, but thought it would be fun to do one of just us girls. The dogs photo-bombed, of course.
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I absolutely LOVE dressing up and take it very seriously. Funnily, my best friend has the same affinity for Halloween so we have always made it a priority to hand-make our costumes, and to try to outdo ourselves year after year. Since we put so much effort into our costumes it’s nice to have somewhere to celebrate that doesn’t include a club, a line, an expensive ticket, dealing with traffic (and Uber surcharges), etc.
I’m learning that a lot of people don’t really love Halloween the way we do, so I’ve assumed the responsibility of changing everyone’s minds by throwing really fun Halloween parties. Last year, since my backyard wasn’t finished yet, I had a more intimate Murder Mystery party (so. much. fun.), but this year, since it’s my last year in my 20’s, I decided to go all out. And yes, since my birthday is always 5 days after Halloween I decided to combine the two. After all, partying 2 weekends in a row gets a little exhausting. I knew in early September that I would be throwing this party so I had almost 2 months to prepare–this is key for throwing a kick-ass party.
In my opinion, what makes a party special are all the details that go into it. The reality of attention to detail is as follows: it take TIME, money, research, planning, and patience. Often it requires assistance from others, as it is nearly impossible for one person to tackle everything unless you have absolutely NOTHING else to focus on. I consider myself a pretty good multi-tasker / planner so I was able to juggle my work and party prep by making endless lists and the beauty of delegation. Of course, delegation only works if you can relinquish control by finding someone you truly truly truly trust.
In my case, my mom is an absolute genius when it comes to desserts. She is the most creative person I know…and she will work tirelessly until her masterpieces meet her standards. I don’t even have to think twice when she is in charge of dessert. Of course, I had some inspo I sent her way, but that’s pretty much all I had to do. My sister, a budding pastry chef was also very much involved in the creation of my dessert table, so between the two of them I was all set. Sidenote: my 2 closest girlfriends, my mom, and my intern are THE only people on Earth that reallllllllly know what I’m talking about without having to explain. Pinterest people, you know? I had a pretty good team to help me put this party together.
My vision for this party was haunted mansion with a black, white, and gold color-scheme with red roses as an accent. I didn’t want gross–no zombies, not too bloody–just lots of fog, lights, roses, skeletons, ghosts, and bold stripes. Simplicity really goes a long way when you have the right tools. Below I am outlining everything I do to make my parties super special and memorable. Since these tips specifically pertain to my Halloween / Birthday party, feel free to leave questions below for different themed parties.
TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR PARTY SPECIAL:
–Start a [secret] Pinterest board: You need inspo, and the best place to start is Pinterest. You don’t want your friends / guests to have too much insight into your event so keep it secret until all the details have been decided. Go to town adding pins, then once you’ve covered all areas of the party (food, drinks, decor, details), edit the shit out of it. Remove pins that no longer fit the theme, seem excessive, expensive, etc.
-Pick a theme / motif / color scheme: Ok, so not every party has a “theme” per se, but, it’s super important to have some sort of vibe / vision. Otherwise you’ll be all over the place and your planning will drive you crazy. You have to refine your vision so 1) others can get on board and help and 2) things make sense. It’s very easy to get carried away.
-Have an activity or attraction: At this point in life we have all been to countless parties–some amazing, some mediocre, some I don’t even remember. You want your party to be memorable and entertaining. When I put so much effort into my parties the last thing I want is for people to view it as a party to just “drop by for a drink, say hi, then bounce.” You know? It’s kind of a disappointment after you’ve poured all your energy into your event. For my party I hired a real fortune teller and it was a big hit, sadly she was so busy all night I didn’t even get to talk to her! But that’s to be expected when it’s your own party. Just like how you never get to eat at your own events.
–Put flowers everywhere: Sorry if this doesn’t apply to anyone that isn’t in Los Angeles, but we have the most amazing resource for flowers in Downtown. They are super inexpensive and well worth the drive (at 5AM to avoid traffic). Flowers are often time the only decor I have when hosting parties, as they make such a statement when arranged effectively. Think: interesting vases, varying heights, put them everywhere. Between flowers and candles, that’s often all you’ll need.
-Buy fabric in bulk: Again, another Downtown LA suggestion, but I refuse to buy fabric anywhere else. If I need to cover multiple tables, rather than buying table cloths I’ll purchase fabric in bulk in downtown to use for table covers, runner, and backdrops.
-Simplicity goes a long way: People often think they need to be extravagant to make a statement at a party. Depending on your style, that might be true. However, for me I prefer to stick to the simple details (think: quantity over quality) and put them everywhere. I’ll have tons of flowers, candles, golden details, lights, etc. and when put all together they make a great presentation and statement.
-Shop at unconventional places: I’ll hit Party City for disposable forks or plates, but honestly, every time I drove by Home Goods, TJ Maxx, or Ross I would drop in quickly to scour the Halloween sections. I found THE cutest plates, napkins, and bowls that are unique, so cheap, and have a much more rich look than generic party store supplies. I also got straws, drink stirrers, doilies, table runners, and gold decor that I can reuse for years to come.
-Create a timeline: This part tends to be the hardest. I always want to start prepping way in advance to make my life easier the week / weekend of the party, but when an event is outside you have to consider the weather (see this post to read what I was dealing with), so often times set-up has to take place later than I would like. While that might be the case for many events, there’s still plenty to get done ahead of time whether that’s crafting, meeting with your “team” to ensure they understand their roles / responsibilities, booking vendors (bartender / DJ / entertainment), and of course purchasing all the necessities (cups, plates, utensils, fabric, decor, etc.).
-Map out the food, desserts, and drinks: This part is usually the most stressful, as it usually happens the last. You don’t want food getting cold or stale so typically I’m running around like a crazy person setting up my cheese plate as people arrive despite all my efforts planning. What I’ve learned is there will always be people arriving early so get the food set up and DONE an hour and a half in advance. Thankfully I always have my mom to fill in for me so I can greet guests rather than cut up those lemons for water last minute.
And just to give you my go-to menu for parties, here is what I find people actually eat rather than throwing away tons of food at the end of the night. 2 large salads, a cold pasta salad, a cheese board with charcuterie, fruit, hummus + pita, olives, and mini sandwiches. I’m not big on chafing dishes so I stay away from hot foods if the party is after dinnertime. You MUST feed guests, especially if they are drinking, but keep in mind the time of your party. Mine started at 9 so snacks were acceptable, however, if a party starts between 7-8 often times dinner is expected.
For drinks: beer, wine, vodka, tequila, and whiskey are my standard alcohols. I always like 2 signature cocktails, and this time I had a spicy vodka lemonade and a tequila mojito. Both were a popular choice among the ladies.
For dessert (it’s over the top because of my mom): red velvet cake, gold-dipped chocolate covered strawberries, stuffed chocolate covered strawberries, caramel apples (+ individual slices), brownie bites, cupcakes, cookies, and macaroons by the super talented Jonathan Caleb Cake.
-Send out a physical invitation: I love this old-school tradition (read more about it here). It sets the tone for your party–in my case I was letting people know it’s a big deal to me, and guess what, everyone showed up so dressed up it was hard to recognize people! I absolutely LOVED all the effort people put into their costumes for my party. I know at this point in life we don’t get too many physical invites so I like to give my friends a rest from wedding invitations and bills and surprise them with a fun party invitation instead.
-Don’t forget personal touches: In other words, get your DIY on and craft! You don’t want your party filled with details that everyone / anyone can buy so get creative and make some of your own decor–signs, framed menus, special balloons, tablescapes, etc. The creme de la creme DIY for my party was my custom donut wall, built by my dad. I (obviously) had to make my donuts and wanted to display them in a fun way. He took his job very seriously and added effects to be in theme for the party. Fog, sound effects, lights, a custom rose-lined sign with gold details…the wall took my donuts to another level!
-Make a custom Snapchat filter: I created mine on Photoshop and went directly through Snapchat to upload it. It cost me $5 and was a fun little detail to encourage people to snap more of my party so I would have more footage later on.
-Test out lighting: Since my party was outside it took Paul and I all month to figure out lighting. I never want the lighting (whether inside or out) to be too bright. We want mood lighting that fits the theme. I didn’t want millions of extension cords running everywhere so I had to find some battery operated lights, as well as string lights, to get the job done. It was a serious mission, but between all the lighting we put in mixed with all the candles we set a pretty good mood.
Now let me share some of my fabulous guests’ costumes:
I’m not really into bragging about my “squad” and all that Mean Girl stuff, but I do want to talk about a few lovely ladies that I had the pleasure of spending time with during NYFW last week. I’m starting to see a trend whenever I travel for the blog–I always meet really great people. I mean, I’ve also met some not so great people, too, but overall I love coming home a few friends richer.
There’s something very comforting about recognizing a friendly face at events, which to be honest, can be very clique-y and uncomfortable. Somehow the universe has connected me with some smart, funny, and approachable women that I now call friends. I feel especially lucky since I had come to the conclusion a few years back that since I’m done with school and don’t work in a traditional work environment with other people I’m pretty much never going to make any new friends (LOL). Might sound kinda extreme but it’s kinda true, too. Working from home, I spend most days talking to my dogs and emailing, which doesn’t really have the same effect as speaking to a real-life human.
Ironically, most of the girls I bonded with in NYC are LA natives (even better)! However, I did meet some pretty awesome east coast ladies, too. Since I’m all about supporting and empowering my peers, here are some bloggers you should definitely check out:
-@SophieElkus: One of the sweetest people I’ve met. Ever. Sophie is the creator of style blog Angel Food Style, and offers major outfit inspo you’ll want to steal. Oh, and she’s just as picture-perfect IRL!
–@AnnieLawless: Talk about beauty + brains. Annie is the founder of the lifestyle blog Blawnde and also the founder of Suja Juices. Annie pretty much had me laughing my ass off the entire trip.
–@SavvyJavvy: Her name is actually Javvy, and she balances her blog and “real” job full-time, pretty much making her superwoman. Javvy has big personality and balls (she made her way front row at Marchesa like it was nothing!), and I admire everything she stands for.
–@Kattanita: Kat is based in NYC and the creator of the style blog With Love From Kat. She is super beautiful inside and out and has a no-bullshit policy about the blogging world. She tells it like it is and to me that is everything!