Hi everyone!! So we are officially down to the 2 week countdown! Can’t believe how fast time has flown between the last time I wrote. So to get a little update…I ended up having my bridal shower on April 7th, exactly 2 months before the wedding day. I had it a little early because one of my bridesmaids was going to be having her first child at the end of April, so we wanted to play it safe for her! It worked out wonderful because baby CJ decided to wait until May 5th instead!! Both mom and baby are doing great!
I had the best time at my shower which I give all the credit to my three AMAZING girls!! Carly, Chelsea, and Clarissa
They surprised me with everything, and I was blown away by everything they did. The theme was “Cupcakes and Cocktails” which of course was pink and very girly! Even the cupcakes were girly! We held it at the South Park Club house in South Park, PA. They did an amazing job as well and the room was perfect! If anyone is looking for a place to host or plan a shower/party, I highly recommend them!
Since then Bill and I have been just finishing up last minute details for our big day. I submitted our planning sheets and head count to The Willow Room today! So for the most part I am hoping for smooth sailing until the 7th! We shall see
If I don’t get a chance to write again before our wedding…then I’ll sign off now for the last time as Lisa Lucas!!
Mrs. Cole here we come!!!!
Less than 5 months to go! Joe and I have tackled wedding bands, our dinner choices, honeymoon location, and favors. The current items on my plate were/are bridesmaid dresses and heels, invitations, and flowers! There has been a lot of indecisiveness and double-guessing on the following items, but once all of the pictures are placed side by side, I am really excited about how everything is finally coming together!
Bridesmaids: Besides looking fabulous on your big day, it is important that your best girls look just as good! After many hours spent in Alfred Angelo and Bridal Beginning, one of my bridesmaids, Dana, and I found the perfect bridesmaid dress! We decided on strapless dress from the Dessy Group sold at Bridal Beginning in a flat gray color called Chinchilla to let the yellow flowers pop! My Matron of Honor, Jen, will wear a smoky rhinestone sash that will perfectly accentuate our choice of heels!
Groomsmen: The gentlemen will wear a gray Calvin Klein tuxedo from Men’s Wearhouse with a gray vest and a yellow tie. Joe, my handsome soon-to-be groom will also wear this tuxedo with an ivory colored vest and tie to match my dress.
Invitations: After being referred to many wonderful websites/vendors, my fiance and I have finally decided on a vintage theme invitation and postcard RSVP from www.emDOTzee.com. The prices are very reasonable, and I instantly fell in love with one of the designs! Even better, Melody created invitations for my best friend’s wedding back in 2008, so I have personally seen her amazing work!
Flowers: My favorite type of flower is a peony, so I am working with a florist, Elizabeth, from Botanical Emporium, to find a similar flower that will be in season in October. Elizabeth recommended a bouquet of English tea roses and garden roses which display the same fluffy, soft feel of peonies. For the bridesmaids, Elizabeth will put together an assortment of soft, yellow colored flowers to match the groomsmens’ yellow ties. I am in love with the idea of curly willow branches and soft yellow hydrangeas for centerpieces! They are a bit pricy, so to help cut some of the cost, I will only use those centerpieces on half of the tables. I am on the hunt for an idea for the rest of the tables! Pinterest has proven to be wonderful!
Favors: Joe has two nephews born with Cystic Fibrosis. Because of the impact this has made on their lives, we have decided to make a donation to the CF Foundation on behalf of our guests. We are working to create a beautiful sign to apprise our guests of the donation which we will set on the front table along with the guestbook and place cards.
In the next month, Joe and I will have finalized invitations, flowers, centerpieces, cake/cupcakes, cookies, tuxedos, and our honeymoon to Aruba! I am feeling extremely accomplished, and definitely have a new respect for party planners!
It’s just a little more than a month away and finally starting to feel like crunch time! I wish brides got to do a trial run at what it feels like to plan a wedding before you ACTUALLY plan a wedding! Had I know how time consuming all the littlest details would be, we would have had them done sooner! So, because I didn’t know these things and would love to help any future brides, here is a list of things I wish I would have done sooner if I could do it all over again!
- Do NOT wait until a month or two before your shower to start shopping for a shower dress and accessories – especially if you are having a spring shower. Get these as soon as possible! I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find a dress for my April shower when I started looking in January/February. No spring dresses were out yet, so I had to wait until the month before the shower. I ended up spending my weekends leading up to it running store to store to complete the outfit. Yikes!
- Registering takes SEVERAL visits to the stores! Make sure to do this enough in advance so that you have time to add/change anything. It’s easy to forget a lot the first couple times, and you’ll want enough time to search around for what you really want, rather than just putting things on there in a hurry.
- Get all your jewelry and wedding day accessories well in advance. Hunting around at the last minute is stressful, especially because you most likely won’t have your dress with you at all times to try it all on, since it will be with your seamstress or kept at the bridal salon. If anything, the shoes are definitely the best thing to have early, so that you are prepared for your first dress fitting! The longer you wait to finish your jewelry, hair piece, etc., the more stressed you’ll be in the weeks leading up to your big day.
- Tedious tasks take time! Invitations took FOREVER to stuff, address, and stamp! Either get an assembly line of your closest friends and relatives, or get this done early! If you plan on starting the week before you want to send them out, chances are you may get behind schedule. Something as minor as not knowing many of my fiance’s long-distance relatives’ first names to put on the inner envelope held up finishing off his side’s invites until we got spellings and whatnot double checked.
- If you buy things to start a DIY project, finish the project as soon as possible! Some of the things you buy may not end up working out the way you had planned or you may have over-bought supplies. Those items may already be past the date they’re able to be returned. This happened with a giant frame I bought at PatCatan’s, a DIY invitation kit from Office Max, and specialty paper that I ended up not using! Such a waste of money that no bride has room to spare!
- Keep a running “Must Play” list for your reception throughout your entire engagement. If you sit down one night to make a giant list, chances are you’re not going to remember all the ones you want!
- Pay things off as soon as you’re able to and SPACE. IT. OUT. It’s a tough pill to swallow writing check after check the month or two before your big day! The Willow Room does a fantastic job spacing out your payments for the reception, however, other vendors usually just make you pay a down payment and don’t require the rest until 2 weeks or so before the wedding. Just because they don’t require it doesn’t mean you have to wait until that time!
Hope that helps! Good luck!!
A new feature to the blog is our staff spotlight. We will talk to those that are behind the scenes at The Willow Room. Our staff really does make the magic of our events come to life. This month we meet: Renee Gillie, our resident Bridal Butler.
1. You were one of the first employees at the Willow Room. How have you seen the wedding scene change over the past 9 years?
Weddings have definitely changed over the past 9 years. It seems couples are choosing more contemporary weddings, rather than traditional ones. I’ve seen very unique and creative weddings. Like the wedding cake to having cupcakes, candy tables, uplighting, photo booths, themed weddings, and having a wedding on a Friday night!
WR Note: We have special pricing and menus for non-traditional Friday/Sunday weddings, or even a wedding brunch!
2. You are the Bridal Butler for many weddings at The Willow Room. Explain a little bit about what that entails.
Before the guests and the bridal party arrives, I go over the details with our Banquet Manger, Linda. Then I will review all of the instructions pertaining to the brides wishes, things like centerpieces, place cards, cookies, favors, etc. Usually I will set up the bridal suite with food and drinks. Then I meet the bridal party on the second floor entrance and will get them ready to be announced. I serve dinner to the bride and groom, along with the bridal party. I also set up and serve for the money dance. I clean and break down the bridal suite after the money dance. Finally, I help pack the cookies, cake, centerpieces, gifts, etc. and take them to the appropriate vehicle.
WR Note: The Bridal Suite is a separate area just for the bridal party, complete with storage for purses and makeup, mirrors, and a private bathroom. By having wonderful people like Renee act as a Bridal Butler, we offer a dedicated staff member to truly take care of the bride/groom and their bridal party. Even if you choose a package that doesn’t include the bridal suite, you can add it on! Pic of the suite below.
3. Do you have a most memorable moment that happened at a wedding or event you were working?
Every wedding or event are all memorable! I have many good memories, I have met lots of very nice people in the 9 years I’ve been working at the Willow Room!
Renee lives in the area and in her free time she enjoys biking, walking on trails, reading books, and cooking!
Thank you to Renee for sharing a bit about herself with us! And stay tuned for many more staff spotlights in the future!
Also, if you are interested in joining our team, we are currently hiring servers, bussers, dishwashers, and a banquet captain. Send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
Potato latkes or potato pancakes are a Jewish treat usually enjoyed by the light of the Chanukah menorah but are great anytime and are very easy to make. – Chef Haberle
5 large potatoes
1 large onion
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 cup oil for frying
1. Grate potatoes and onion using a food processor or box grater.
2. Strain the grated potatoes and onion, pressing out excess water, and then add eggs, flour, garlic and seasonings.
3. Heat oil in skillet. Lower the flame and place 1 large tablespoon of latke mix into the oil and fry on each side for approximately 5 minutes until golden brown. Repeat process until frying pan is full but not overcrowded.
4. Remove latkes from pan and place on paper towels to drain. Continue with remaining mix until it’s all used up.
5. Serve with applesauce or sour cream, and chives on the side.
This past weekend, my Matron of Honor, Jen, and I worked on Save the Dates. Since Joe and I are thinking that somewhere between 250-275 people will be attending our wedding, we are trying to cut costs wherever we can. Jen and I decided that making Save the Dates cut a portion of the cost. Since Joe proposed at a Penguin game last March, he had the idea of a Save the Date ticket. We were able to morph the slogan “A Great Day for Hockey” into “A Great Day for a Wedding”. The barcode at the bottom of the ticket is our actual wedding date, and we added specifics such as the date, church and reception location, and our wedding website.
Jen, consistently being one of the most generous people I have ever met, offered to have her sister-in-law create the ticket based off of the actual tickets Joe and I had the night of the proposal. After the ticket was created, Jen shopped at Staples for all of the necessities- photo paper, envelopes, and magnets. Her husband was able to print all of the tickets at work, and Jen and I were able to take care of the rest.
First, we bought a paper cutter at Michael’s. We used one blade to cut the paper and the supplemental blade to cut the large magnets in half. (The magnets were intended for business card size, but they worked perfectly for our purpose when cut in half.) While I addressed envelopes, Jen (with the help of her almost 3-year-old daughter, Addy) cut the tickets from the photo paper. All that was left to do was stick magnets to the back of the ticket and stuff the envelopes. Once the return address stamp is delivered through the mail, I will add our return address to the back of the envelope, purchase stamps, and send the Save the Dates off in the mail!
The entire process took about 5 hours, but of course some time was spent trying on bridesmaids’ shoes, looking at the guestbook pictures, and planning centerpieces.
Next order of biz- centerpieces, flowers, and cake/cupcakes!
Shrimp Spring Rolls
These spring rolls are great as an appetizer or party food! They are easy to make and full of flavor.
3 cloves garlic
2/3 cup shredded cabbage
¼ cup shredded carrot
5 shiitake mushrooms, julienned
1 TBSP fresh grated ginger
3 green onions, biased cut
1 cup cooked, diced shrimp
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped basil
3 TBSP sesame oil for sautéing vegetables
1 package of spring roll wrappers
3 TBSP corn starch
¼ cup water
Stir Fry Sauce
4 TBSP Tamari
2 TBSP fish sauce
2 TBSP lime juice
1 TBSP Black bean paste
1 TBSP brown sugar
- Put 3 TBSP of oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add cabbage, garlic, mushrooms, ginger, carrot and shrimp. Sauté for 2 minutes, add stir fry sauce, then sauté for 1 more minute. Vegetables should be al dente and shrimp cooked. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Add green onion, cilantro, and basil.
- Take the spring roll wrappers and lay out on a clean work surface.
- About 2/3 of the way down on each spring roll wrapper, place 1 heaping TBSP of filling.
- Fold the left and right sides of the wrapper over the filling. Lift up the end closest to you and tuck over, rolling upwards.
- Mix corn starch and water
- To secure spring roll wrap, dip your finger into the corn starch and water, then wet the end of the wrap and gently press shut.
- In a small stock pot, fill with oil until about 2 inches high. Heat oil. To test oil, dip one corner of a spring roll into the oil. If it begins to sizzle and crackle, the oil is ready.
- Carefully place one or two spring rolls into the oil and fry about 1 minute on each side. Spring rolls are done when they turn golden brown.
- Remove spring rolls from grease and drain on a paper towel.
Favors – Out or In?
As most of my friends are all getting married now, many of us have questioned whether or not to do favors. Favors in the past were always a must for any wedding. Most of our parents question the decision NOT to do favors. However, with so many people forgetting to take their favors at the end of the night, and knowing that most favors ultimately end up in the garbage, a lot of my friends are now substituting the favor for a donation to a meaningful cause or charity.
My fiancé and I have been teetering back and forth on the idea, as we have a handful of charities that are very important to us. Yet, we also don’t want our guests to leave empty handed. My mom came up with a great favor idea that believe it or not, was pretty inexpensive. Wine bottles!
Wine is definitely not going to go to waste, whether all guests remember to take their bottles home or if it’s left at the hall for our families to take home…..A win/win! My mom went to a wedding where they tied the guests’ place cards to each wine bottle, so it worked as more of a decorative place card as well.
We are still deciding if this is the right choice for us, since we would also love to donate to a charity that means a lot to us. But hopefully this could be a potential idea for you! The front U-shaped table would look ultra classy with wine bottles decorated on it as the guests come in. Just remember, The Willow Room does not allow these bottles to be opened, so make sure your guests don’t pull any wine openers out of their pockets and start gulping one down! I’ll be posting a picture of whatever we decide soon!
This is a great, hearty winter dish. Enjoy!!
Roasted Root Vegetables
- 1 pound Idaho potatoes, peeled and medium dice
- 2 small carrots, peeled and cut on the bias
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and medium dice
- 1 medium sweet onion, skinned and diced
- 2 oz. olive oil
- 2 oz. goat cheese crumbles
- 1 oz. Kalamata pitted olives
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a small sauce pan place potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots. Cover with water and simmer until al dente. Drain and pat dry. Next in a medium size skillet or cast iron pan, heat olive oil until hot. Next, place onions in first, to start browning, then put the blanched root vegetables in and let brown really well. Last but not least, add in olives and adjust with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, serve and finish off with the goat cheese sprinkled over the top.