Before You Say I DO, Don't Forget...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Two years ago yesterday! 

Based on scientific and unscientific research…okay, based on analytics and talking to some of you in person, I know that several of my readers are planning weddings this year.

Last year, a friend asked if I had any advice for her before her wedding. You know, the stuff they don’t put in the magazines or on websites. So I gave her some of these tips that I’ve decided to republish here. Please do let me know if there is something that my married readers would like to add!

Two bits of pre-wedding week advice:
1.     It’s a marriage between you and someone you love (I hope). It’s not a magazine shoot. Do things because they are “you” – not because People Magazine bought the rights to your nuptials for their next issue.
2.     Weddings are as only as stressful as you make them. Planning 35 craft projects and haven’t started a single one? Your fault.

·       Boxes, Numbers + Lists
o   Traveling from my parents’ house to the hotel, we had a lot of boxes and items for the reception. I’m a crazy organizer that loves lists, so I numbered every box and item and created a corresponding chart that listed what was in each box and what needed to happen to that item for the wedding coordinator at the hotel. For example, box 1 on the list contained the guest book, cake cutter, place cards, etc. The list on the chart said “box 1” and had a list of what was in that box. It helped keep myself and the coordinator organized and eliminated a lot of questions!
o   If you are getting ready at the hotel the morning of your wedding, include in one important box everything you need to get ready. I’m talking your earrings, bracelet, makeup, garters, shoes, something blue, extra copy of your invite for your photographer, etc.  Put everything in one box – there are so many little things to forget!

o   Another important list – your guest list. Print an extra copy in alphabetical order to help you and the coordinator set up the place cards. OR just in case your place cards are wine charms and bottle openers placed on a cork board with hand bedazzled push pins and someone knocks over the stand with all 200 names....

DON’T Call Me, Maybe
o   Assign your friends and family to be in charge of a vendor so that you aren’t the one dealing with them the day of the wedding. While my florist had a special contact number, she kept calling me, but my phone was nowhere in sight while getting ready!

·       After the party, it’s the hotel….
o   This is a silly and funny thing, but ask you hotel not to put you in a room next to your guests. The hubs booked a room for his groomsmen in his name, so some awful booking person put them next to our suite…with a joining door.

·       Money Shot List
o   Most photographers do this, but if they don’t, make a list of what are must have shots on your wedding day. Again, most weddings I’ve been part of, the photographer has this, but when they don’t, it can cause the newlyweds to miss shots that they wanted (i.e. bride and groom with grandparents, etc.)
o   Don’t forget to tell your family to stay behind if you want them in photos. For example, if you are getting married in a church and want a shot with your aunts and cousins, remind them to stay behind after the ceremony or list that in your program.

·       Run-of-Show
o   That’s a fancy word for what we in the PR business call an agenda. There’s nothing worse than not knowing what time you need to be where when you are in a wedding. Make an agenda for your guests and bridal party and email it to them the week of the wedding. Also share those details with the hotel front desk (or the place where your guests are staying) so they can direct people to the ceremony site if need be.
Run-of-show included in the welcome ice buckets

·       It’s YOUR Day
o   The hosts always sets the tone for the party. If you are dancing, others are dancing. If you are having fun, others are having fun. If you are drunk, others are likely getting drunk too. If you look nervous, others will feel nervous too. HAVE FUN.
o   Don’t freak out if you forgot the 210 menus that you hand cut and glittered (don’t worry, this didn’t happen to me). You will still get married, people will eat and have fun and likely, no one will notice!

For the record, the Smithkowski wedding involved 27 craft projects (not including Shot of Mom’s projects). The original list was probably 35 (as mentioned above).

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Sip Some Summer Shandy by the Sea Shore

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Say that title a few times - I dare ya! 

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, when it’s this hot outside, sometimes the only thing that quenches your thirst is an ice, cold BEER.

One summer beer that I’m LOVING is Leinenliugel’s Summer Shandy. Yes, it’s a weird name, and even weirder to try and slur out when you’ve had a few, but it’s DELISH.

The beer is a fresh summer ale with a hint of lemon. It reminds me of Bubba’s Lemonade, but without the grain alcohol of course! 

And snaps to the Leinenliugel’s website for including this AWESOME recipe for Grilled Shrimp Tacos
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Love At First Bite

Monday, June 18, 2012

Three decades ago when Shot of Mom was knocked up with yours truly, she craved ice cream. All winter long, she wanted ice cream. That craving must have had an influence on me because I love me some out of the womb.

So when co-worker and sometimes reader Brittnee told me about the Yonanas machine, I was hooked in like 2 seconds. Now that I have one in my possession, my life has changed.

This machine has an awesome name and awesome concept. It makes an ice cream or yogurt like substance with just fruit. No added sugars or milk!

You just peel and freeze some bananas and fruit for 24 hours, then put them down the Yonanas shoot and ta da! Looks, smells and taste like ice cream!!

Run, don't walk, to the store and buy this now. They sell them at Target and Bed,  Bath and Beyond - I say go to the triple B and use a coupon. Another plus? It's dishwasher safe!

The Yonanas site has a ton of recipes (some include chocolate and wine!). Yes, my life has just changed. 
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It's Friday, Friday

Friday, June 15, 2012

Do a happy dance because it’s the freaking weekend!! Whoo hoo!

·       I’m always looking for new ways to sneak alcohol into sporting events. Enter the flask SEAT CUSHION. Seriously, why didn’t anyone think of this sooner!??! This allows you to sneak in way much more than a flask or wine jugs!

·       Celebrity first dance songs via the Daily Mail – one is very ironic.

·        THANK YOU Mod Cloth for making my Friday more bright with photos from one of my all-time favorite movies – Troop Beverly Hills.

·       How GORGEOUS are these EK Thongprasert necklaces (via Moda Operandi via Ruby Press)

And ONE EXTRA one from Cup of Jo – seriously. How did I NOT learn this in college?! The meaning of the lines on your Red Solo Cup. Mindbottling.

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Heeling Stress

Do you ever get a little stressed at work? What do you do to relieve that stress?

For me, I relieve stress by looking at shoes. No, I don’t have some strange foot fetish (although my own feet were perved on in college. Yes, my piggy toes were Miss March! Ask me about it sometime).

Shopping is a horrible habit of mine, but my number one stress reliever. While I can’t leave my desk and shop, I like to take a brief moment to browse the shoe departments of my favorite sites. It’s my own little two minute escape.

So if you are feeling a little stressed at work today, let me bring some eye…I mean foot candy to you! (Bonus – some of these designer stilettos are on sale!!!! – said in best Oprah voice)

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Popping Bottles for Pops

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father’s Day is on Sunday and if you are looking for last minute drink recipes or gift ideas, I’ve got you covered this Thirsty Thursday.

The weather is going to be AWESOME here in Pittsburgh, so if you plan to do a little BBQing, here are some sippers for Sunday. I tried to find a base spirit that dad would enjoy simple (i.e. with some Ginger or Cola) and some recipes for the ladies to enjoy too. That way, you only need to buy one bottle and can please everyone with the cocktails!

·       My dad’s favorite spirit of the moment is Crown Royal. He drinks his with some Ginger Ale, but that’s a little too manly for me., a site run by the makers of Crown, have some more girl-friendly recipes like Crown Royal Black and Raspberry, Pomegranate and Crown, Royal Stretch, and Crown of Roses.   

  • This is a pretty crazy idea, but if you are having a big party, why not pull inspiration from a wedding featured on The Loveliest Day and create a Whiskey Bar. You and your family can taste different blends to figure out which one you may like best or at all!
  •  Bourbon is such a dad spirit, and they tend to keep it on hand. So a way to girly that up is this Fancy Bourbon Punch (yes, the name Fancy is in the title).
  • For dessert, how about a little Beerimisiu from Serious Eats. It would make any Irish-Italian man happy!

Don’t underestimate the power of the alcohol store for last minute gift ideas!
  •  Think Three Wise Men: Does your dad like Jim Beam, Jack Daniels or Johnnie Walker? Stick with an original bottle of that OR try a new flavor or more expensive bottle from the line.
  • One Word: Beer. Craft beers are so popular right now.
  •   Mini Me: Not sure what your dad likes to drink? Or does Daddy drink a lot? Buy him a variety of mini’s!
  • Cubans & Rum: Think Havana Nights. Go for some sugars, rum and a Cuban shirt!

Seriously, screw Macy’s. For last minute gifts, the liquor store has a lot of possibilities! 

Oh and if you aren't around your dad this year and you are looking for a boozy gift - just get wasted a drunk dial him. Bonus points if you sing him a song or preform a poem while intoxicated! 

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Laters, Baby. I'm Going To Meet Christian Grey.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Unless my lady friends have been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the 50 Shades of Grey book series. You know, guy friends probably know about this too. I’m guessing your wife has been obsessed with the book, but you don’t mind her attention elsewhere because it may be helping you in other ways. Meow!

I must say, this one had me at a relationship contract. Will she sign it or not? Then I was HOOKED.

Let me be honest – the writing is awful. I’m not a great writer, so when I call writing awful, it’s awful. And I wasn’t hooked for the raunchy sex scenes. Rather to just find out “how is this going to end.”

A co-worker mentioned that the first of the three books was the topic of her book club and a light went off in my head – this is a GREAT party theme for your next GNO (in honor of Miley’s engagement – that is short for Girls’ Night Out).

Here’s how I’d plan a PG-13 50 Shades of Grey party


  • ·         I mean the color theme of this party is more obvious than the fact that Reese Witherspoon was expecting – it’s a GREY party! Grey tablecloths, napkins, plates – you name it, a shade of grey is the color!


  • ·         In Christian Grey style, and email invitation will suffice. Don’t forget to sign it “Laters Babe.” Bonus points for securing a Christian Grey email address or creating a Grey Enterprises letterhead on your email : )


  • ·         Of course all of us ladies love it when Christian tells Ana that she needs to eat more (and wear designer shoes). So food is important at this party!!
  • ·         The book is based in Seattle, so how about so seafood. I’m thinking an oyster bar!
  • ·         Some “plain vanilla” ice cream with red Twizzle ropes.


  • ·         What about a Charlie Tango Mango Peach Sangria?!
  • ·         If you’re looking to party, maybe a shot of Christian GREY GOOSE! Or a BJ shot ; )


  • ·         I’m going there – this would be a sex toy party. I mean you’ve got to!
  • ·         And of course you need to discuss the books!
  • ·         Save up your celeb magazines and have guests make a collage of the actors and actresses that they would cast in the movie. My picks? Armie Hamer and Lily Collins or Lucy Hale.  


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Five Shots for Friday

Friday, June 08, 2012

What are your plans for the weekend?  The Smithkowski’s start our wedding season with some Pittsburgh nuptials! Whoo hoo!

·         Looking for something to do this weekend? 50 Things To Do in 50 States from Country Living

·         A fascinating story from the New York Times on how Target knows A LOT about you. After reading this, last night I looked way too into the coupons that I received!

·         I read about this site by a Pittsburgh person and I kinda love it – Epic Small. Rather than setting a long list of big goals for yourself, do one, small thing each week

·         I’ve been feeling a little uncreative lately, so I started reading Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. I’ll be sure to provide a full recap upon completion, but so far, it’s very intriguing.

·         If you are looking for a laugh, may I suggest the site “Bitches Be Crazy.” Full of women humor! 
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