A Coffee-Inspired Bridal Shower Gift Basket

This post is made possible by the delicious chai latte from Starbucks I’m drinking. I’m at the keyboard early this morning, having a little Me Time before heading to Indiana to celebrate the beautiful bride-to-be. It’s wedding season! I love Spring because it is the mark of hitching season. And there is absolutely nothing I love more than celebrating marriages of those who have found their special One.

It is so fun to put together creative DIY gift basket ideas to give to friends and family getting married. I *clap* just *clap* LOVE *clap* it! Today I am sharing a bridal shower gift that is coffee-inspired for the couple who loves mornings together over a tasty brew.

I put together this cute coffee themed gift basket for G’s cousin Kelsey and fiance Nathan in mind. This adorable couple had engagement pictures taken centered around steaming mugs, and are all about traditional home-style delights. Seeing a request for Trader Joe’s Dark Roast on their registry and running across this set of coffee mugs while at Meijer, I put my thinking cap on and started piecing other coffee bar necessities together into the basket.

I was aiming for a visually-pleasing aesthetic to the basket apart from finding key pieces. Picking up my personal favorite Trader Jones blend as well (mmm French Roast), I decided the coffee bags themselves did not fit the look of my basket in mind. So I found some simple brown lunch bags, and made two cute labels to better fit. I apologize for the blurriness of this picture; I must be too hyped on caffeine in the final photoshot.

One label reads, “Love is Brewing” beneath the names Nathan & Kelsey. The other, “The Perfect Blend.” I found three earthy pictures to compliment the packages as well, and used Canva to create the labels. The pictures are of palm leaves, succulents, and coffee plants in rows.

Not pictured separately, this basket hides the remainder of the two Trader Joe’s coffee bags at its base, with six kitchen towels laid on top of them. A pure white sugar bowl and creamer server sit nestled between the couple’s mugs, and a Wood Wick Vanilla Bean Candle will provide a gentle back noise to those early mornings shared together. All in all, pretty much everything newlyweds would need for a bright morning rests in the basket.

The final two pieces in the basket were hand crafted by yours truly. I bought a Cricut Explore Air 2 after Christmas, and opened the box for the first time to complete this gift. Thankfully, Cricut supplies you with a few pieces of cardstock and instructions to teach you the very basics of Design Space prior to letting you go create on your own. The card created was a minimal little diddy that read “Enjoy” on the front. I couldn’t think of a better excuse to utilize that card than with this gift, and finished the message inside by writing, “Wishing your Happily Ever After begins with a good morning…”

After mastering the greeting card design, I decided to try something more difficult. I found the perfect blank chalkboard at Michael’s, and knew I wanted to add a cutesy saying to it as a decor piece for Kelsey’s home. I scoured Pinterest for ideas and fell upon this: “Good days start with coffee and you.” Could that be more perfect?! I fiddled with the fonts, liked what I saw, and decided to add a bit of color as well — a gold foil mug and coffee beans were the best additions.

I am so happy with how this basket turned out. I popped in a few fake flowers to add some texture to it (flowers from my own wedding’s arrangements.) The towels are stealthily placed so the porcelain pieces will not hit one another as I make the drive to Indiana, and my car already smells amazing after having the basket inside for only a few minutes. Oh! And the basket itself was a good find at TJ Maxx last autumn that I expected to use as a gift in the future. So the planning process all kind of fell together!

Do you have any weddings coming up? What are your favorite things to gift for the bride-to-be or to the couple at the wedding?

Good morning, friends,

Little Black Dress Meets The Bridal Party

A few weeks ago I was honored to stand beside one of my best friends when she married her soulmate. The wedding was one of the most beautiful celebrations I’ve ever been to, and I couldn’t get over her color choices. She has such an eye for elegance and the day radiated class and romance. Weddings with black dresses were not new to me, but it was new to see one done in the warm month of August. So today’s topic is all about a wedding color palette centered around this sophisticated color.

There is no doubt that the Little Black Dress is a fashion staple for a reason. True to its fashionista of a sister, black bridesmaid dresses can be amazing assets to any wedding also. It’s a classic, sleek look that almost every woman can pull off because it’s flattering for every body type. Plus your girls will actually be able to wear a LBD again! Not saying she won’t want to wear that lime green dress in the future but… you do you, friend.

My friend accented our black dresses with gold jewelry and red rose bouquets.

It seems to me that the LBD can be chic enough for any wedding, given care put into the rest of the ensemble. However, there are complaints all over the Internet that black does not belong at a wedding because it is a color of depression. Personally, I disagree completely. Weddings are, of course, supposed to be happy ordeals! That means the depressing attitude surrounding black-dressed parties needs to be made cheerful. An easy route to take is adding splashes of color along with your girls LBDs. Choose accent colors that really POP! to make the wedding party’s clothing an entertaining and exciting one. Maybe this can be accomplished through fun heels, statement jewelry, or bouquets. There is always a way to accent a color that fits true to your style.

Another option to make black work in any setting is fiddling with textures. Whether you choose lace sleeves, flamboyant ruffles, or loud flowers, texture can make a big difference in the attitude of your wedding. Without even focusing simply on black, any color can be increased with a new texture. Plus, is there anything better than mismatched bridesmaids dresses for a modern and trendy wedding? You know my answer to this question already.

The dressed differ in style and texture, and the flowers offer unique style in both size and color.

When it comes to seasons, black CAN be worn year-round: think reds and oranges for fall, blues for winter, pastels in spring, and bright, bold choices for summer options. My friend chose deep red and took most of our pictures outside. Against the rocky walls of the venue and the fresh greenery, the red definitely made a statement!

For a more comfy feel at outdoor summer weddings, stay away from floor-length dresses; tea or knee lengths are the most ideal. Fortunately if your wedding is indoors, long dresses work with any season though. This idea also falls in line with the main reason why LBDs are so great for weddings: they can be worn again! Try choosing dresses that are fit for your wedding but also classy without the “bridesmaid” air about them. Our dresses came from Azazie and had fun halter necklines which tied in the back. They also had a sexy slit which provided air movement while outside taking pictures.

 

Finally, my last piece of advice: be different! To reiterate: pick a bold flower bouquet, choose adorable and unique accent necklaces, don colorfully-loud heels, etc. There is nothing better than a bride who has fun with her girls during her wedding planning by helping express her relationships (those with her fiance and with her best girls) through special methods. The LBD might be a classic, but there are so many possibilities to put your own spin on the idea and make it yours.

Go bold with printed black and white dresses, a truly modern and chic look.

How would you wear black at a wedding? Brides, would you ever choose black for your bridesmaids? I would love to hear (and see) your ideas! Please DM me on Insta @uncorkingpeonies or comment below.

Happy planning,

Side Note: Sorry For Being MIA

Hey friends,

I just wanted to send out a quick note to apologize in advance for my lack of posting over the next week or two. With being under 10 days to the Big Day, I am on crunch-mode and that means all my evenings are taken with wedding preparation. I have a to-do list that is three pages long with new bullet points being added on an hourly basis — don’t want to forget anything!

Overall, I am not too stressed though. The day most likely will not go off 100% perfectly, but by this time in 9 days I’ll be the new Mrs. G and that’s all I truly care about. If you do wish to pray for sunny weather that Saturday, then I won’t stop you. 😉

Following June 16th, G and I will be heading down to Tennessee for our honeymoon. While in Gatlinburg, we have an amazing cabin overlooking Pigeon Forge (complete with bear accents, full kitchen, and a hot tub on the back porch) and plan to enjoy our first week as newlyweds exploring the beautiful scenery in Tennessee. Then we will continue Nashville for the weekend and celebrate down Broadway and with a show at the Grand Ole Opry.

I cannot believe I’ll be marrying this amazing man in less than ten days; I am truly one blessed girl.

So with that, I say adieu for a few weeks. I’ll be back to posting as soon as I return home and catch my breath. Promise!

xoxo, 

Calculating Drinks For Your Wedding Or Party

Whether you are hosting a party or planning your do-it-yourself wedding, it is a universal no-no to run short on food or drinks. As G and I busily plan the remaining two weeks before our wedding, many of our thoughts are geared towards the plates and glasses of our guests. For a couple catering their entire wedding themselves — yep, you just read that correctly — it is one of our worst fears to think any guest may be shuffling around in his or her seat with no option of seconds.

Today I’m going to strictly discuss how to calculate drink numbers in order to buy the right amount of beverages for your party. Luckily I have a bit of experience in this arena due to my past work experience in the wedding industry. And also because I used to sell wine cases to large parties while at the Winery. So I definitely have wine down pat… Calculating beverages is both a science and art as you can never estimate the exact amount of drinks being drank at your event, but you can get close.

If you’re like me, then you don’t have an extra fridge sitting around to pack with wine, beer, mixers, soda pop, water, and all other possible beverages your guests might fancy. And if you’re like me, you also have a strict budget to purchase all those said beverages under. Don’t panic though! We’re going to get through this together.

Before jumping straight into a bunch of formulas, you need to ask yourself a few important questions:

  • What kind of beverages do you want to serve at your wedding/party?
  • How many adults and children will be attending?
  • How long will your wedding/party run?
  • Will the party be indoors or outside? What is the weather going to be like? (i.e. cool and breezy, hot and muggy, etc.)
  • Will you have a bartender serving drinks or will it be self-serve?

Also: are you planning to serve a variety of alcoholic beverages at your event or non-alcoholic only? This question is something you should decide before moving forward with other decisions.

Let’s discuss non-alcoholic beverages first. If you are opting to choose non-alcoholic beverages only, a good rule of thumb is to have 4 gallons of drink per every 25 guests. Luckily, most brands of water, tea, lemonade, and punch come in gallon sizes.  Keep in mind hotter temperatures or more active events will require this number to increase because you will want your guests to stay hydrated.

For easier calculating, use 4 gallons of water converted to 512 ounces of water, meaning you can get 32 16oz servings.

A 2-liter bottle of soda typically offers five 16oz servings. (Conveniently, this is the average size of red solo cups.) And a 1-gallon container  of other non-alcoholic drinks will yield eight 16oz servings. I estimate one drink per person per hour of my events, in addition to one extra “safety” drink to give a little wiggle-room. In other words, if your wedding/party is four hours long, plan for each guest to have five servings of non-alcoholic beverages.

If you are serving alcoholic beverages at your event as well, then you can expect to cut the above numbers for non-alcoholic beverages in half. Meaning 2 gallons of water, lemonade, punch, and tea for every 25 guests, and a half drink per person per hour. For events involving dancing or other activities, I would increase your water count. Also, buying water by the gallon/jug is a lot more budget-friendly than bottles of water. Bottles tend to be left half-empty by guests and forgotten. I know I’m guilty of forgetting where I left my bottle and grabbing a new one rather than track it down.

Now onto alcoholic beverages. You will want to estimate one and a half drinks per person per hour of your event. Meaning for a 4 hour wedding/party, plan for 6 alcoholic beverages per guest. Thankfully alcohol tends to come in standard sizes be it beer, wine, or spirits so calculating is a bit easier than with non-alcoholic drinks. Here is the break down on sizing and servings:

  • Beer: one bottle of beer offers 1 serving (who knew!)
  • Wine: one 750ml bottle of wine serves 6 glasses. A case of wine is 12 bottles meaning you can get 72 glasses of wine per case.
  • Spirits: one 750ml bottle of spirits serves 17 drinks.

If you are offering a full bar, calculate one alcoholic drink per guest per hour. (This is still in addition to your non-alcoholic beverages.) For a hot day or a food menu offering salty foods, I always bump my estimate up by 25% as well. I also would highly recommend staffing a bartender in the case of a full bar for obvious reasons.

Another key piece to think about is the mix of beverages in terms of the mix of your guests. If you are having kids at the event, stock up on juices, soda pop, and water. If you opt for spirits at the bar, you might want to go with one or two signature alcoholic beverages to manage your budget a bit more.

 

DISCLAIMER: All amounts in this post are estimates. This does not mean each person will have the stated amount of drinks; some will have more and some will have less. YOU know your guests best and may need to tweak estimates to fit your wedding/party better. Are your attendees big beer drinkers? Will the majority of your attendees drink one glass of wine and then sip water the rest of the night? You know those answers better than me. The hope is if you can figure out an average, then you should have plenty to go around. 


Personally, G and I did not follow any of these “rules of thumb” when we planned our own wedding bar, but that is because we have a lot of outliers which throw wrenches in these calculations. We have chosen to have a beer and wine only wedding. Our guest list is 200 guests and our wedding reception will last for 4 hours. G’s family, which is about 25% of our guest list, do not drink alcohol. The remainder of our guest list of my family and our friends are not heavy drinkers by any means. We anticipate those who may drink to have 1 drink during our cocktail hour, 1 during dinner, and 1 after dinner. (We also know a few of our guests are bringing their own drinks apart from our beer and wine choices so there’s that too.)

With that thought in mind, here are our calculations for our wedding:

Alcoholic beverages:
200 guests – 25% non-drinkers = 150 guests may drink
150 guests may drink * 3 drinks = 450 drinks

We have opted to host a self-serve bar with two beer bottle options (simply Bud Light and Miller Lite) and five 5-liter  boxed wine choices. (Franzia is incredibly pleasing to my girls which made this decision simple and inexpensive.) We purchased twelve 24-pack boxes of beer for a total of 288 bottles and the five boxes of Franzia which account for 33 bottles of wine making for 198 glasses. In beer and wine, we have approximately 486 drinks available for our guests who choose to indulge.

Non-Alcoholic beverages (alongside alcohol):
200 guests * 1/2 drink * 4 hours = 400 16oz drinks

Knowing an outdoors June wedding in Michigan will most likely be hot and muggy, we purchased ten 2.5 gallon spring waters with spigots which accounts for 25 gallons of water. We also have 5 gallons of iced tea and 20 2-liters of soda. So with these counts, we will have approximately 240 16oz glasses of water and tea, and 100 glasses of soda pop for a total of 340 16oz drinks in addition to our alcoholic beverages.

1/2 drink per guest per hour * 4 hours = 2 16oz drinks
30 gallons =  3840 ounces = 240 16oz drinks
1 2-liter = 5 16oz drinks / 20 2-liters = 100 16oz drinks


My last nugget of advice if you are calculating beverage numbers at your wedding or party is to round up your estimates. Like I said at the start of this post, it is a hosting fail if you run out of food or drinks for your guests. Consider that the more variety in your beverage offerings, the more you should increase your estimates because you can never be sure what will be most popular.

Happy planning, friends,

6 Steps To The Wedding (And Budget) Of Your Dreams

Figuring out your wedding budget is one of the worst parts of wedding planning. Finances are difficult alone, but now you’re taking the first steps into merging your lives together and things may get sticky. You might have lavish dreams, but are they realistic for both your and your future hubby? According to Brides American Wedding Study, the average wedding costs $26,522! If that doesn’t make you bat an eye, then hey, have at all those details you’ve always dreamed about. But if you’re like me and are wanting to cry into a bottle of wine while analyzing that down-payment on a house/one year’s worth of student debt/brand new car then I have some advice for you.

Like nearly half of the couples getting married this year, G and I are covering the majority of expenses for our wedding. However, did you know that one in three couples actually goes over their wedding budget? This was not an option for us so we opted for setting a solid budget before doing anything else in the planning process. We began by tallying up all assets, listing our must-haves for the day-of, creating and maintaining a detailed spreadsheet, and being realistic throughout our engagement when it came to costs. It was hard work, but was so worth the time and energy to be wedding-debt free come post-nuptials. Here is exactly what we did on setting up our wedding budget:

Step 1: Add up your cash

When you are considering how much you have to spend on your wedding, there are two big sources to consider: you and your fiance’s individual savings accounts and the amount you can set aside over your engagement from your current income. Communication is key to a happy marriage and that communicating should begin now. Discuss with one another monthly expenses, monthly allowances, and what each can realistically contribute to the “wedding fund.”

G and I opted to open a joint wedding account to begin pooling our funds into for our wedding. After necessary payments for rent, student loans, and groceries, we decided on a set amount we each would directly deposit into this account for wedding expenses. We could not rely on the fact of having our wedding fund be a “catch-all” for any leftover dollars each month; instead we made a pact to contribute every month and held one another accountable. Sometimes this meant being unable to partake in a specific event or not buy a certain item, but we have met our budgeting needs and will have that peace in mind come our wedding day.

Step 2: Any contributions from loved ones?

One of the greatest pieces of advice I can give you is to never assume your parents (or any loved one) are able to help cover your wedding costs.  While some couples’ families may still pick up the entire tab, The Knot’s 2017 Real Wedding Study revealed this is not the case. On average, the bride and groom now contribute at least 41% of the wedding fee and 10% of all couples cover all the costs themselves.

So what does that mean for you and your fiance? You need to ask your families if they are willing to assist you in your budgeting. I know, I know, that is not a fun subject to cover with anyone, especially your parents. (Trust me, our pride was strong on this front too.) But knowing an exact dollar amount is crucial and will help you determine your total budget. Some parents may prefer to cover specific parts of the wedding (such as the food or photography fee), and other sets may give you a set amount of dollars as a gift. No matter what your loved ones can or cannot contribute, be grateful and courteous of their gestures.

Step 3: List your priorities

Before finalizing our final budget, G and I sat down and listed our top three aspects of the wedding we felt were make-or-breaks for our Big Day. For me, I wanted a good photographer, good food, and a fun reception. For G, a church ceremony, family-oriented theme, and “as cheap as possible” were his criteria. (Yes, we had to have a long conversation on why a $100 wedding was simply not feasible in matching our dreams.)

In the same respect, we also discussed things that weren’t so important to either us. Knowing what mattered most allowed us to set priorities when it came to researching vendors and customizing a budget to fit BOTH our needs.

Step 4: Create a budget spreadsheet

Next came the creation of our budget spreadsheet. I am an Excel-ohlic and honestly loved this part of the budgeting process. My own personal budget is a colorful, detailed masterpiece and I made sure to make our wedding budget similar. To keep it simple for those who not as enamored by spreadsheets, there is an easy rule-of-thumb you’ll find across most wedding budgeting templates:

  • Title three expense columns: Estimated Budget, Modified Budget, and Actual Costs
  • Amounts under Estimated Budget will be driven by researching the costs associated with your total budget — here is a little diagram of typical wedding averages I created off of the Bride’s 2016 report:
  • For Modified Budget amounts, the proposals you receive from vendors and/or estimated costs pertaining to costs in your area should be used. Be sure to include taxes as well!
  • Actual Costs are pretty self-explanatory

For those who prefer to skip the hassle of setting up their own spreadsheet, please feel free to use this one by Uncorking Peonies: Wedding Budget Template

I’ve included Payments Made and Gifted Amount columns as well. These both came in handy for my own budgeting needs. If a down payment had to be made, I could track that amount and still know how much was owed. (I always placed the final due date in the Notes column.) Tracking our monetary gifts from family was also useful when we had to narrow down exactly how much we still needed to contribute come crunch-time.

Step 5: Start tracking

With your total budget, research on local vendors, and priorities in hand, it is pretty easy to start putting everything together for your customized wedding budget. You’ll need to tweak the budget to fit your needs throughout planning, but overall you now have a goal to work with which fulfills your needs. Stick to your set budget and aim to set aside a little extra money for last-minute expenses.

Step 6: Be realistic

My last nugget of advice is to be realistic as you move through your budget. You may have always dreamed of having steaks served at your wedding, but can you realistically afford $40+ per plate with your 200 guest list and $10,000 budget? Probably not unless you have no other priorities. Some of your “dreams” may have to be eliminated to make way for some unexpected surprises that throw a little addition sign into your budget. Small expenses can add up quickly! So if the total of a line item isn’t in your overall budget, you need to either cut it or cut somewhere else.

All in all, I’ll resort to my usual saying: your wedding is only eight hours of your entire marriage. Don’t start your marriage on a rocky foundation with wedding debt. Instead, focus on saving during your engagement (like limiting your weekly spending to save more in the wedding fund) and begin putting aside as much of your income as possible. If you don’t use your entire wedding fund, then great! You have a nice little chunk of savings to move into married life with now.

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There are a lot of sources out there which can help with ideas on how to cut costs and stretch your wedding budget. USE THEM! G and I are huge proponents for these — we ended up dropping our $12,500 estimated budget to $10,000. And I am so proud of us for looking past the wedding and wanting to be best prepared for a happily ever after.

Do you have any savings tips or budget stretching advice for my readers? Please share them below in the comments area or DM me on Instagram. I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,