Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dinner for two!

So a gathering does not have to be a lot of can actually just be you and one other person.

Tom and I went over to a friends house on Saturday night to have a drink before dinner. Instead of going out to eat we decided to throw together "a gathering" of our own...a backyard date. We ran through the store grabbed a bottle of wine, some fish and a few other key ingredients and headed home. If you haven't planned a backyard date with your husband or wife this summer, do it!

Now, Now....don't cook dinner like you do every other night of the week, I mean pull out all the bells and whistles as if you are having a group of people over for dinner. Turn on the music, light the candles, set the table, pour the wine and cook together. If you haven't tried kitchen dancing, I highly recommend it! It is my favorite thing to do! I promise you will have fun!

Not bad for a last minute meal!! It was awesome!

Lay Kitchen Cooking string out into rows
Lay Bay leaves out on top of the string over lapping each other
Lay sliced lemons out on top of the bay leaves
Place your salmon on top of the lemons
Repeat steps again...lemons and then bay leaves
Tie the string tightly together to hold everything in place
Put the fish in a fish rack thing for the grill
I have no idea how long you should cook it...I didn't pay a bit of attention to the grill. I am sure your husband will know. If not, call me and I will ask Tom.

Grab the tablecloth out of the closet, snips some flowers from the yard, grab the candles from your dining room.....and you got yourself "a gathering."
(PS: I am warning you...It is HOT outside. You will need some ice water!)

Happy Planning!


Goodies For Your Guest!

The thing I love most about weddings are the details. One way you can really show your creativity is in the gift bags you leave for your out of town guest in their hotel rooms. Since I work at a hotel, I see wedding gift bags just about every Friday. I have seen some really cute ones and I have seen some not so cute ones. For the most part, this will be your guest's first insight on your wedding. Get them excited!!

Your goal should be to welcome your guest and give them a few little goodies to make their stay a more enjoyable.

Below is a check for things you should include in your gift bags:

1) Something to drink (bottled water, mini bottle of champagne, juices)

2) Something to nibble on (granola bars, chips, trail mix, cookies, fruit)

3) Something to help get though the morning after (Advil)

4) Something to incorporate your theme

5) Instructions, directions and details for the weekend

6) A "Thank you for traveling" note from the bride and groom

These pictures came from the new wedding book Tom got me this weekend....Jo Gartin's Weddings. J.Gartin's is an amazing planner who is all about unique details (I want to be her...shhh)! She accomplished our list above and did it in such stylish way!

You can definitely go all out with these bags by creating your own label (, and customizing the items you put in the bags.

This box is so simple and can be bought at any paper source store. I love the labels!

Both of these boxes have desserts. What if you had the hotel put these boxes in the hotel rooms while your guest are at the reception or the rehearsal dinner. I love this!

These gift bags can be use for any out of town event you are planning. I once planned a trip to Seaside, Florida for a group of 60 people. For the girls, I bought Seaside totes from the gift shop and filled it with bottled water, tanning oil, a beach towel, magazines and snacks. For the guys, I filled coolers with beer, bottled water, snacks, poker chips and cards......spoiled, I know...but fun!!

Happy Planning!

**There will not be any editing tonight...Tom is traveling for work.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Garden Genius

I got a email last night from my friend Randi's husband, Troy. He would like to have a birthday party for Randi in July at their home. Their home is not just any is the beautiful cottage on Euclid Ave. that you literally drive off the road trying to take in how amazing their garden is. I am so excited about planning this party. I have the best venue in town!! Let the fun begin!

Stay tuned to see how Randi's garden party comes together!
Happy Planning!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Career is official! I have started my own event planning company. This has always been a dream of mine and the doors are now open. I will give you one guess as to what the name of my company is.....gather, LLC...your right. It took me a bottle of wine to come up with the name of this blog and I am not going through that again.

I have a love for color, flowers, design, food and details. I have been fortunate enough to plan a wide variety of events ranging from seated dinner receptions for 400 people to weekend trips to Seaside, FL to rehearsal dinners for 70 people. During my 5 years in the event world, I have seen a lot and had a blast!

Since I am using this blog entry to toot my own horn, I think it is only fair to tell you about a situation that could have easily put an end to my event planning career. (If you are considering hiring me for your next event, please do not hold the below situations against me. The good news is, I lived to tell about it and every event has gone off just as the client dreamed).

It was summer of 06 and I was so excited about my idea for a family crawfish boil for a company outing. I had the dream of tents, moonwalks, snow cone machine, a back yard band and tables covered with crawfish and much fun, right. Mistake one... I continued to send out emails to the host calling the event a crawfish "broil." I was quickly corrected that "broil" is something you do with an oven and "boil" is what you did to crawfish. To tell you the truth, I let this little hiccup go by....surely the invitation shop would have corrected me if I had carried the word "broil" that far. Looking back, I am thankful I didn't depend on the invitation store to correct this spelling mistake...hell they let me pick out an invitation with a huge lobster on it instead of a crawfish. What can I say....I am not a "sucking the head and eating the tail" kind of was I suppose to know. Everyone got a huge kick out of my lobster invitation for a crawfish "boil" and my RSVP list was filling up. Last but not least, it was time for me to pre-order my crawfish for the event.....WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME YOU CAN NOT BUY FRESH CRAWFISH DURING THE MONTH OF AUGUST?? My crawfish/lobster boil because a shrimp boil after all...but all in all everyone had a blast! The host family volunteered to have the company outing at their house again the next year if I promised to plan it.

With all this being said, if you know of anyone who needs a full event/wedding planner, an event consultant or the day of the event/wedding coordinator, please keep me in mind. I am so thankful for the variety of experiences I have gotten from the many, many events I have planned and I cannot wait to hit the ground running with gather's first client.

Below are a few photos that inspire me as a planner. Enjoy!

Happy Planning!

Friday, June 19, 2009

City Stages!

As an event planner, I will plan just about anything that comes my way. However, I do like some events more than others. This weekend I coordinated City Stages festivities at The Redmont Hotel. This my friends is my LEAST favorite event to plan.

The Redmont Hotel is the hotel I am currently renovating. We have built a cool roof top bar that thankfully has been the happening spot during these hot summer nights. Given that the hotel is located in the heart of City Stages, we had events and specials for three days straight.

Besides the drink specials menu, the only creativity I had this weekend was how to handle guests who had too much to drink. As the planner I was responsible for the logistics of the weekend , ticket sales and marketing....a far cry from flowers and dessert bars, but the logistics of any event is truly more important. Your party has to flow!!

For those of you planning a big wedding, consider hiring a "day of " coordinator to handle the logistics. You want to be able to relax and truly enjoy every detail of your special day. The coordinator will meet with you prior to the wedding to get a sense of your vision and meet with your vendors to ensure that the wedding goes off without a hitch.

Top Ten Reason's you need a logistics/event coordinator for the day of your wedding:

1) Orchestrates your rehearsal and ceremony (organize bridal party, musicians & officiant)
2) Handles the set up and delivery management (rentals, linens, flowers, cakes)
3) Coordinates the vendors and hold them accountable for delivering what you expect
4) Coordinates the ceremony and reception (keeping your event on the cake, first dance, etc...)
5) Handling the needs of your guests
6) Serving as the one person who actually does know everything
7) Serving as your personal assistant (when else are you going to be able to have a personal assistant and not look like a complete brat!)
8) Putting out any fires (hopefully not a real fire) before you even know about it

9) Packing up all personal items at the end of the night (gifts, flowers, etc...)
10) Is holder of the 911 emergency kit (band aids, Advil, dress tape, safety pens, needle and thread).

Happy Planning!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cutie Petunia!

I attended a gathering that welcomed Hallsey Marsh into our social scene last night. Hallsey is my dearest friend Lucy's 2 month old "little petunia." Lucy was not in favor of the typical baby shower, so instead we all got together last night to love all over her little one.

This gathering got me thinking -- I haven't had the opportunity to plan a baby shower yet, but I would love to. A baby shower is a great excuse to go overboard on color, but I would pick one color and go with it. Too many colors and you are going to look like a crayon box!

Let's just pretend we have a baby boy on the way.....below is what I would want to do! (if you are planning to use these ideas at your next shower, you might need a few ain't cheap).

I like clean simple just looks classy to me!

I LOVE the idea of a seated lunch. There are not many opportunities to get to plan a seated meal for your guests, but this opens the door for the planners to use their imagination. You start with a fun centerpiece and place cards. A beautiful table setting always receives the "wow" from your guests.

Now, the tent and a million tables are not necessary, but all the blue linens really give it a nice touch.

If you do decide on a seated lunch, don't rush it. You need to have a mingling period before lunch begins. Plan your baby shower for 11:00 a.m., offer a fun punch as people arrive and possibly have an activity going on. Do not get me wrong - I am not a fan of the silly baby shower the tail on the diaper, steal the pacifier from whoever says the word baby.... If you do not know about the games I am talking about, consider yourself lucky!

I am obsessed with beverage canisters. You can buy them at Southeastern Salvage for nothing!

What about having a table designated for all the guests to write words of wisdom for the mother-to-be, or having plain white onesies for people to decorate with fabric pens. The baby might not ever wear the decorated onesies, but they sure would be cute in his baby book or framed in his nursery.

$3.99 at Dharma Trading Co.

Desserts are always fun when you have a theme. You can do a dessert bar like I talked about in my last blog or something as simple as a cute cake!

(Got to love Edgar's in Birmingham! They always get the theme right!)

These cupcakes were served at my favorite wedding A Bryan Photo did, but I would love to serve them at a shower!

Happy Planning!

Acknowledgments:;; edgar's bakery and in style home

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sweet Tooth!

I have chocolate on my mind. Could it be because I have decided not to eat dessert after ever meal and I am having a sugar with drawl as we speak; could it be because I really wanted to have a candy display at Jennifer's party last night and didn't or is because every website and wedding magazine I have looked at tonight has something to do with a candy display....whatever the reason, below are a few of my favorite displays!!

I have a new obsession...Amy Atlas Events. She is the dessert bar Queen!! Check out her website....If only I could be this cool!

I LOVE all white!!!!! Finding a white room with the white curtains might be my challenge. Anyone have an all white room in their house? If so, can we have a party??

Please do this at your upcoming baby shower! This would be so much fun and your guest would love it!!!

Alright, so I have convinced you to do a candy display at your next event, now you need to think about what to put the candy in. Try and come up with a super creative way for your guest to take the goodies home. I love these little jars. How cute are they!

Go the extra mile and have your initials or married name on the outside of the jar. If you have a really great wedding planner, have a logo that is used on the jars and throughout your entire wedding.

Don't like the popcorn idea, but love the paper cones. Pick any cool paper,roll it (or have your planner do the work) and you are done!

PS: Tom isn't into my blog tonight...Poor guy had a weekend filled of party planning and ideas. I think he had enough! If you catch a mistake, it isn't him, its me...oops!

Happy Planning!


The Morning After...

So, it is the Sunday morning after Jennifer's bachelorette party and I am hopeful my headache is a sign that everyone had good time! As I stated in my previous blog, I really wanted this "house" party to be more than just a gathering in my den. While there were still signs of a typical "house" party....girls dancing in the kitchen to Whitney Houston at 12:30 a.m., cabs pulling up to stumbling ladies in the front yard and new mom's looking through my four year old daughter's smocked dresses..., I am pretty sure I accomplished my "not yo average house party" goal.

Lets begin with the Chinese lantern that hung from the massive tree in my front yard. While Tom may be a brilliant lawyer and spell checker, he is NOT a handy man! Thank the lord for my soo, soo handy brother-in-law, Andrew, and father who risked their lives climbing a 25-foot ladder and some how running electricity through the wall of my house, across my yard and up into the tree for my little project. Tom has been wondering why our downstairs computer isn't working. Little does he know, but I stole the power strip and it is now up in the tree...oops.

Hint: every party planner needs to have a handy man on speed dial!

Everyone is strapped for cash these days and parties can get really expensive if you are not careful. While every party needs flowers, this little detail can blow a budget. Take a look at your yard before heading down to the flower store! Hint: Flowers are kind of like bra and panties. They have to match! Start by trying to find flowers that are all in the same color family. You want your flowers to be consistent throughout your venue. If your yard looks like mine, you may not have enough flowers that match. Don't force it....either clip a few and buy the rest, or find a yard you can steal from!

Everyone, meet Maw. She is my green-thumbed grandmother who has an amazing yard! The plan was for me to go to her house on Saturday morning and begin clipping. Due to the rain storm that was threatening the life of my lanterns......I drug my feet getting over to her house. I pulled up only to find my 84 year-old grandmother soaking wet with buckets and buckets of fresh cut flowers. She demanded I needed more, so Tom and I followed behind her with our umbrellas as she clipped away. This party was a true "family affair."

After clipping your free flowers, you may need to fill in the gaps of your arrangement with a few store bought blooms. Hint: You need to be familiar with a wholesale florist in your city. Davis Wholesale in Birmingham is literally my favorite flower heaven! Saturday was a quick trip picking up a few pieces of oasis and the most exotic blooms I could find (didn't want my yard clippings to look to matronly).

Not bad for a $14 flower bill!

Last, but definitely not least....The Bar! I had a feeling this would be a champagne drinking crowd, but I wanted the bar to look enticing and fun. You want your guest to walk up and, what should I have. Think of it this way, an ice cream sundae bar with just vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce is hardly any fun. Why not pull out the nuts, sprinkles, whipped cream, cherries, etc... You get my drift!
Five bottles of champagne, two bottles of Pinot Noir and a shot of Sambuca later....the bar did not look like this for long. If you haven't tried Sambuca before, don't let the overwhelming smell of black licorice scare you off. This stuff is awesome, but very well may be the reason why my head hurts.

Well, the bachelorette party is over and my mission was accomplished....A special night for our beautiful bride, Jennifer, and many surprises for her lucky groom, Ethan!

Happy Planning!


Monday, June 8, 2009

House Party!

One of my dear friends, Jennifer Pennington, is getting married on August 1st and I am hosting her bachelorette party at my house this weekend. We are starting the day off at Richard Joseph Spa, having dinner at Hot and Hot Fish Club and then ending the night at my house. The plan is to have Baby Bits from Pastry Art and champagne while we shower JP with panties...:)

(JP is the girl pretty in pink)

House parties are one of my favorite gatherings to plan. I have a tendency to go overboard when they are at my house...painting rooms, moving furniture and spending entirely too much time with a bottle of Windex!

As for JP's party, I believe everyone is expecting a typical house party, but I don't want that. I am envisioning more. I would love to see lanterns leading up to the front door with a grand entrance and cool centerpieces. I would like there to be details that she enjoys!!

I found this lantern at my favorite store, IKEA. They are only $4.99 and you could use them for a million different things. I like to keep things like this on hand. You never know when you will need lanterns.

Tom and I were just out watering our hydrangeas and he actually got the wild idea of hanging Chinese lanterns from the two oak trees in my front yard. The man could actually be on to something. I have an obsession with trees...too long to explain...maybe we will discuss trees in another blog. Anyway, this got me thinking. What if I hung lanterns from the trees?

It is going to take a tall ladder and some long extension cords to pull this off (not a project for Tom, but probably my handyman brother-in-law Andrew). We will trees aren't quite as cool as the trees in this picture, but you get the idea!

All I could think about today was Jennifer's party. I want it to be perfect, so I stopped by Hot House Design to get some decorating ideas. I was so excited to find a grapevine ball wrapped in flowers (see my last blog)!! I am going to try and find a place for a gv ball Saturday night! I don't know why, but I just love these fun little "balls!"

I need to stop imagining and get to work..only 4 more days!

Happy Planning!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Great Heights!

I attended the Ball of Roses last night. It is one of my favorite “flower” events of the year. The flowers were amazing as usual, thanks to Carole Sullivan. While the event takes up the entire Birmingham Country Club, the focus of the event is in the East Room. For those of you who have been there before, you know how massive this room is. If you ask a BCC bride what her biggest challenge is with using this room, she always says, “how will I afford to decorate a room this big??”

When you are dealing with a ballroom filled with hundreds of people, the focus becomes the ceiling! In order to have the jaw dropping event you have always dreamed of, you will need something above the heads of your guest.

Trying to cover a ceiling with flowers will get very expensive! Unless your wedding is going to be featured on
In Style Weddings, you might want to think of another alternative.

I loved the way these butterflies hung from the ceiling. While they were decorated with what seemed to be tissue paper (not really sure....) I think it would be really cool to decorate it with silk flowers such as orchids. I know, I know...I can't believe I said it either. I am known as a flower snob, but I will admit, if the height is right, no one will be able to tell. Do not waste your budget !

(Butterflies up close and personal... yes, I was the girl taking pictures with her iphone!)

I love these Chinese lanterns!! Is this not the coolest look! I am always going for a modern, yet classy look. The more lanterns the better!!

(In Style Weddings)

Last idea for the night... I will need you to close your eyes and use your imagination (couldn't find a visual photo for you). What do you think about hanging grapevine balls from the ceiling at different heights? You can weave tulips through the vines to add color. You would only need 10 tulips per grapevine ball. I have strung Christmas lights around grapevine balls before and it looked really cool...getting electricity to them was a different story!

Second confession of a party planner....It took me 5 hours and two trips to the HELP DESK to figure out how to post this blog. Like all things...practice makes perfect!

Happy Planning!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Confession of a party planner!

We might as well get it out on the table, I am a terrible speller and horrific writer. Everyone meet Tom, my super sweet husband ….AKA, my spell check! :)

(This is going to be a long adventure for Tom! I just had to ask him how to spell "super" and "sweet"...oops!)

Now that we have that confession out of the way, let’s talk parties.
WOOH! Fist blog entry complete!