Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Vintage inspired, Rustic Country Wedding

This wedding is the epitome of rustic, and vintage country charm, designed collaboratively by the bride, her mother, and Donna Putnam of Forget Me Knot Events.  The bride and groom were married at the groom’s parent’s ranch in Fallon, NV where horses normally graze on local alfalfa, and a variety of fruits grow in the family orchard.  Countless handmade, detailed special touches, and heartfelt tributes punctuated this affair that made nearly 300 guests feel welcome, comfortable and like part of the extended family.   With Kendall Price Photography behind the lens, we are able to see the day unfold from a sunny, afternoon Ceremony into a lovely evening, touched by country breezes, twinkly lights and a crescent moon.   

For a warm and welcome entry into an otherwise dry field of alfalfa and horses, the bride’s father created a set of rustic doors, flanked by lavender, hay bales, and alfalfa.

Lanterns lit the way to the Ceremony site, over the irrigation ‘river’ and through the orchard ‘woods’, where re-purposed, hand painted barn wood signs greeted guests.   

Custom program paddle fans created by No Ordinary Day of Rocklin, CA helped keep guests informed of the day’s events, and cool in the over 90 degree heat. 

Happy tears hankies were tied with jute twine and available for the taking as guests viewed photos of those who are gone, but not forgotten hanging in the orchard trees on the way to their seat.   

First look photos were taken in a wooded piece of property that has been in the family for generations.  Here among tall trees, a groom sees his lovely bride for the first time and tender moments are spent whispering to one another while seated on a fallen tree, and later on the bumper of a vintage truck.

For the Ceremony, the bride wanted the natural beauty of the Orchard to be accented only by mason jars filled with hydrangea blooms on shepherd hooks, and a sprinkling of rose petals lining the aisle of wood chairs.  

Bridesmaids wore a dress of their choosing in variegated shades of lavender to create an ombre effect, with what else but cowboy boots, of course.  Floral designs by Florabella of Reno, NV continued the ombre theme through to the hand-tied posy bouquets with lace wrapped stems.    

The bride’s bouquet  featured primarily yellow roses – a nod to her late grandfather who played an integral role in bringing her and her groom together.  Charms with his photo, and that of lost others encircled the stems. 


The groom and his men wore true Ranch attire with boots, black hats, black jeans and buckles, complimented with the Bride’s preferred color of purple. 

And how else should the flower girl distribute rose petals but by using a cowboy hat to hold her precious cargo, of course! 
The touching Ceremony, officiated over by the bride's cousin, brought tears to even her eyes and use of those hankies by most in attendance.  

A cocktail “lounge” was created in front of the tent by CamelotParty Rentals of Reno, NV, complete with quilt covered hay bale seating, barrel bars of appetizers, and decanters of self-serve refreshments with mason jars and purple striped straws.  

Guests were able to write a love note to the bride and groom on wooden hearts to be placed in a custom engraved box, and place their gift on a table adorned with a vintage picnic basket for cards with a handmade bunting trim, and a custom Thank you print.  The Fallon Elk’s Lodge provided all bar services as a nod to the bride’s father’s membership in his local California Lodge.  

A hearty, country buffet dinner of Tri-tip and Chicken by A Perfect Pear Catering, Reno, NV was served to open seating tables bedecked in beautiful satin linens of eggplant purple, and lace from Creative Coverings, Reno, NV.  Burlap runners trimmed in lace were lovingly handmade by the Bride’s grandmother.   

 Local wine with the appropriate title of “Purple Cowboy” served as a convenient accent to table décor provided by Florabella of Reno, NV.  A mix of rustic centerpiece designs were complimented by pops of yellow from locally grown sliced lemons.   

Handmade items and touching moments continued to punctuate the Reception, especially with a custom song, written and recorded by the Bride’s father.  His gifted vocals and touching lyrics brought tears to a typically stoic crowd and created a tender moment between Father and daughter, to say the least.

 This touching moment was followed by an equally poignant tribute to the bride and groom’s grandparents in the form of a Dessert bar of their favorites.  Homemade and hearty country pies in lieu of cake were handcrafted by the Courtyard Café of Fallon, NV.  Each was brought in by a son, daughter, or member of the bridal party and placed on a barrel bar pre-set with vintage scales, colanders, antique plates, rustic pedestals, and burlap trimmed custom signage. 

Not to be outdone, the delicious wedding cake also served as a feast for the eyes in its purple ombre layered interior.   

As a sweet ending, guests later received favors of lavender jelly, homemade by the Bride’s mother.   

As the sun set on this charming evening in late June, the bride and groom stole away to enjoy a solo dance in the alfalfa fields, as the headlights of their ranch truck lit the path of their new lives together. 

A special thanks to all of the incredible Vendors who helped make this day a reality, and to Kendall Price for the phenomenal photography provided here. 

Wedding Planner/Event Designer:   Donna Putnam - Forget Me Knot Events, Ltd.
Photographer:  Kendall Price - Kendall Price Photography
Assistant Photographer:  Heidi Huber
Bar Services:  Fallon Elk's Lodge #2239
Bridal Gown: Swoon Bridal 
Catering:  Sarah Russell -  A Perfect Pear Catering Co.
Chalkboard Signage:  Donna Putnam - Forget Me Knot Events, Ltd.
Dessert Bar: Deb Nelson - Courtyard Cafe
DJ:  Robert White - Auditory Sensations
Florist:  Nisha Hallert - Florabella Reno
Garter:  BellaSposaCouture 
Hair/Make-up:  Edin Carpenter - Edin Carpenter Make-up Artistry
Invitations:  Invitations by Alecia
Linens:  Nancy Stoltz - Creative Coverings 
Program Fans & Printed Signage: Jenn Hugunin -  No Ordinary Day
Ring Bearer Box & Guest Book:  My Swedish Farmhouse
Tent & Rentals:  Deisi Gonzalez & Douglas Barrera -  Camelot Party Rentals 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A kid's "Chopped" themed birthday party

My daughter turned 8 in March and specifically requested a "Chopped" themed birthday party.  Of course, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree...Realizing she was serious, I began mildly panicking inside thinking - "but they are trained CHEFS on Chopped - and you're EIGHT."  Never one to shrink from a challenge, I donned my chef hat, and opened my own basket to whip up some fun for this one.  To prepare, we diligently watched the show, Chopped on the Food Network, and took copious notes on how to structure our event. Thank you Ted Allen.

Determining the menu proved the biggest challenge - given the inability by most to cook, and the intentional decision by me not to have anyone handle hot items from the oven, toaster, or the like, and/or cut or spear anything, this vastly limited our options.  Nonetheless, we came up with some doozie ingredients to go in the baskets.  The idea was always to have the "mini chefs" eat what they created.  That idea quickly went out the window....

We decided to create teams vs. individuals competing, and to color code our teams.  We selected Green, Hot Pink, Blue, & Purple for the teams, with Red & White reserved for the Pantry.  Each team was comprised of four girls with aprons to match their team color.  Yes, for those doing the math here, that's 16 mini chefettes!  Talk about putting yourself in hot water!

Each girl was able to select their team color upon arrival and then head to their team table bedecked in their signature color for utensils, plates, cups, bowls, baskets, balloons, and pens  - just so there was no cross 'contamination' or cheating!  The "Secret Ingredients" were pre-stocked in three pre-set baskets, adorned with team color Poofs, but tied shut so there were no sneak peekers!  Next up was decorating their chef hats in their team color pen.  I was so impressed with the girl's creativity when it came to these hats.  This one was the most creative IMHO  - she wrote on every fold of the hat something unique and fun. 

Next, each team was assigned an adult lead Chef to ensure safety, and offer assistance and ideas.  All were briefed on the rules of the game, and asked to watch the introduction to the actual show Chopped.   

I could not believe how INTO this event the girls (and the adults!) were. The minute the time was set on the clock, it was pure, exhilarating bedlam!  Ingredients were flying, the pantry items fought over, and creativity was in a whirl! 

Appetizer Round 1:
  • Vanilla Yogurt
  • Flax Seeds
  • Bananas
  • Cheerios
For this round, I thought surely the girls would work with their Adult chef leader and make a smoothie using the blenders in the "pantry".  Their creations were anything but your basic, easy Smoothie.  Time was soon up and it was time to reveal the Winner of Round 1 - The Purple Team! 

To avoid tears flying - and not just kitchen utensils, we decided to award prizes for each of four categories we created, such as erasers, pencils, stickers, jelly bracelets, or temporary tattoos.
  • Most Creative
  • Best Taste
  • Best Presentation
  • Chopped Champion 
The "Chopped Champion" for each round would win an extra prize of a Victory medal, and a Candy Necklace to wear and enjoy.

My daughter served as "Ted" (she insisted her name tag even said "Ted") and announced each winner's plate, color coded and placed under it's corresponding tureen.

Our suckers, errr....judges, were three poor souls who had to taste and sample these 'creations'.   Needless to say, I bought them dinner later.  They especially enjoyed the spray cheese mixed with whipped cream - on every dish, supplied by the Crazy fun girls who made up the Hot Pink team.

 For the alleged 'dinner' round, the creations were again astounding.  Inedible, but astounding.   Pink team kept their signature ingredient of whipped cream involved, and not to be one trick ponies, they added chocolate sauce and mini-M&Ms to their noodle and cheese creation.  Judge #1 needed replacing after this round! :)  

Dinner Round - 2
  • Mac n' cheese (noodles cooked only - not mixed)
  • Pickles
  • Pretzels
  • Cooked Bacon
The Chopped Champions of Round 2 were declared as the Green Team!

Round 3 - the Dessert Round brought more fun to the table with a basket full of more crazy ingredients:
  • Cupcake - unfrosted
  • Frosting 
  • Sprinkles
  • Peeps - in matching team colors, of course - for Peep's sake! 
Blue Team triumphed here for their BLENDED cupcake shake, complete with Peep floating in a 'chocolate hot tub', if you will.  I loved Purple team's creative head piece for this round.  And, is that a wheat thin on Pink team's creation??? 

The mess took 6 garbage bags and lots and lots of cleaning wipes!  My vacuum jingled for days with the stray sprinkles and various bits that had flown about the house.  And, I never want to see a can of whipped cream again!  Nonetheless, the girls had a blast, and we ended the evening with pizzas, games, and birthday cake.  Adult Chef helpers were awarded with a basket set, their apron and a bottle of wine as a thank you.  Judges were given antacid tablets and a dinner gift card.  The party officially ended at 8pm, but kids were here until 10:30pm. Now that's a recipe for a successful event! 

Advice to future kid's Chopped party organizers:
  • Have plenty of food for your main course because you can in no way eat their creations.
  • Rotate the items in the pantry per round, vs. set them out all at the beginning
  • Allow only 5 minutes for Round 1, 10 for Round 2 and 5 for Round 3.  
  • And, by limiting your cooking time, have more fun games to play in-between so there is more time to clean between rounds.  We had scavenger hunts for fake food items, and games outside.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy 15th Valentine's Wedding Anniversary to all my Mohegan Sun Brides

In 1997, I entered the world of event planning in a way I had never imagined.  While working as the Director of Advertising and PR at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, I was approached with an idea by a local radio station (WKSS 95.5FM) to conduct a mass wedding in the central lounge of the Casino on Valentine's Day.  Here, 95 couples would simultaneously say "I Do", having been married and blessed by the tribal chief and medicine man.  I thought they were nuts.  Then, I thought I was nuts that I agreed to this massive promotion and undertaking.  In the end, I would have been nuts not to agree to this idea. 

On that day, I watched so many couples come forward - some to renew their vows, and others to tie the knot for the first time.  Regardless, all came forward with excitement on their faces, and love in their eyes as they shared in a truly magical experience.  Yet our goal was to make them feel like the event was just for them, even though it was en masse and even though we were not bonafide wedding planners either.   My staff and I had such fun creating their individualized receptions with Brunch for the couple and their invited guests, and individual mini wedding cakes created by the masterful pastry chefs.  As most planners specialize in, we stretched the minimal budget and turned the ordinary into an extraordinary for a stress free and memorable afternoon.   The wedding bug bit me big time that day. 

So when people ask me how I got started in this business, and can I handle a large wedding filled with lots of emotion and details, I wryly smile and think back on this day and think, "Yes, I DO believe I've earned my planner badge". 

Now fifteen years later, I often wonder how these couples are doing.  I wish I would have taken a photo!  Alas, these were the days of the brick sized cell phones...and as a Casino Director and a very young one at that, I was more worried about what my boss thought of the PR & marketing, then of a future blogpost (blogs weren't around then either).  So alas, all I have is this news article written by the Hartford Courant re: the very same event we did the following year on Friday the 13th.  95 Couples simultaneously marry

Happy 15th Anniversary to these special couples!  And thanks to all my Mohegan Sun pals (you know who you are) who helped me pull this event off.  I could never have done this without you.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

2012 - Year of the "Blog"

My New Year's Resolution - okay, so I'm a month behind give or take - is to get back to my blogging which nearly went the way of the dodo last year.   And now with our new found love in Pinterest, this could be a dicey commitment.   Yes, an event planner with commitment issues - doh!
One of the hurdles was the time it took to post everything in separate spots.  On the blog, link to site, link to Facebook, now Twitter, etc. etc.  But now I do believe I've stumbled upon the key to having it all update automatically.   Ah, the power of apps on Facebook.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fun Bits and Bites

Since today is Tax Day and paying taxes, well, 'bites' why not take the bite out and enjoy a little yummy like these that are not only beautiful, but can really add visual variety to your dessert offerings.  Better yet, they're portable!
Brownie Bites as featured on

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Banners are a Banner idea!

Banners are a banner idea!  How cute are these on Etsy?  They can work to decorate the gift table at the wedding, the car when driving away, and later be hung over your new home's fireplace.  Awwwwwwwwww.