Winter Wedding Reception Trend Alert: Bring the Outside In

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This past weekend I attended a grand wedding (congrats again, Joey and Megs!) at the Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.  Part of the historical Union Station, this black tie optional, evening event was nothing short of opulent and amazing!  Truly, it was a dream :)

I could go on and on with things I found interesting and appealing, but rather than bore the blogosphere with my rampant ramblings, I’ll focus on one trend that really stood and has been supported by the likes of David Tutera and Martha Stewart… and that’s to bring the outside world into your indoor celebration!

With outdoor and rustic weddings becoming more and more popular with each coming year, it’s no wonder that this kind of decorating detail is nothing short of HUH-UGE to winter wedding settings.  Sure, every one loves the extravagance of crystal chandeliers and dazzling icicle designs for winter’s wedded bliss, but there is a warmth and richness that comes from bringing in the beauty of nature to your big day!

While the Crowne Plaza in Union Station – a majestically reformed old train station – is already a ahhh(to the)mazing setting in and of itself… see for yourselves below :)

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Joey and Megan did a spectacular job at bringing the outside in with grand scaled centerpieces and rustic details, which paried perfectly with the old train station charm.  It was the kind of eye-catching beautiful that you would normally see in the movies.  And I mean that in the most literal sense possible: my eyes were caught and feverishly dancing from detail to detail in mad procession.

While J & M decided to bring the outside in with rustically matched decor, that’s not the only way winter brides can exploit this trend!

Consider dangling icicle lights to create either an outdoor crystallizing effect or rather, a wintery starlit sky, like below…

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Bring in branches, and create a look that has storybook fairytale written all over it.  You can even do it in HD color like a David Tutera dream…

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…orrr keep it simple, sleek and chic in all white…

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Combine one of the looks above with lots and LOTS of candles, and you’ll create a wintery look that is both merry, bright and bound to delight!

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Fill your space wisely with snowflake lighting that not only looks spectacular, but also functions seamlessly:

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But no matter what you do, just be sure to have fun with it!

Statement Bracelets for Statuesque Brides

courtesy of, photographed by Shoot in Love Photo

courtesy of, photographed by Shoot in Love Photo

Okay, I’m about to admit something that I know may hinder my street cred in the fashion world, but in keeping with our open AND judgment free (I might add) platform, I’m just gonna go for it…

<pauses for effect, and engages…>

I, Mary Amanda, have never been a girl who’s been big on jewelry.  There.  I said it.

<pauses for gasps and guffaws to subside, and continues…>

I know.  I know.  It goes against girl code, and I’m sure puts me on some anti-fem hit list.  But alas, I digress.  Because while I’d love me pair of killer Louis Vuitton pumps or a trendy Fendi just as much as the next girl, I’m afraid my passion for fashion takes a bit of a lull when it comes to the section that leans towards the more sparkly side of life.  In my defense, though, it’s mostly because I enjoy telling people it’s because I sparkle enough, hehe ;)

Now, with that said, it doesn’t mean I’m devoid of spotting a spectacular, bridal jewelry trend when I see one.  And after coming across the idea of statement bracelets for the bride on, I was nothing short of SQUEE-lighted!  In fact,  I was borderline kicking myself for not reporting on it sooner.

When you consider how many brides have taken on a more romantic, Bohemian approach to their wedding day and are utilizing dreamy down ‘dos and an assortment of more sophisticated necklines, it’s easy to see why statement bracelets are even more of an asset than before.  With giant bangles or metallic cuffs complimenting their overall look, a bride is able to avoid a necklace or earrings that may compete with their long, flowing locks or illusion neckline.  I’m telling you, it’s a win / win in every sense of the phrase.

Not only that, but statement pieces are just that… statements.  So, for the more adventurous bride, you could really play it up with your color themes or even use at as your “something blue!”  Check out below to see what I mean :)

photos courtesy of,,,,,,,,, and

photos courtesy of,,,,,,,,, and

And don’t forget about your lovely ladies-in-waiting!  Why not gift your bridesmaids with a piece of wrist bling personalized just for them!?  It’ll double as both a charming attendant gift, as well as a sentimental keepsake from your big day :)

The After, After Party: Because Reception Halls Might Shut Down, but the Party Doesn’t Have To

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#wecantstop #wewontstop

Well, at least that seems to be the M.O. when it comes to a modern day wedding celebration.  Because these days, most matrimonial milestones are all about the After Party – duh!

Trending toward the wedding world for several years, the formality of wedding after parties is more than likely the genetic offspring of their previous, less formal counterparts.  And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, please let me reassure you… you do.  In fact, you’ve probably been a part of one yourself!

Because be it the low hum from one or the loud roar of several, there always seems to be a stable group of guests that long to keep the party going well after the curtain closes on the reception.  This is most often times represented by the incessant, borderline frenzied streak of “Hey!  Where are you going!!?!” questioning.

Several months back, I attended a wedding in Chicago – shout out to the Groesbecks, whoop whoop!…

Mr. + Mrs. Groesbeck - cutest! (courtesy of Taylor Groesbeck)

Mr. + Mrs. Groesbeck – cutest! (courtesy of Taylor Groesbeck)

- and I have to take my hat off to them both. The day was absolutely GOOORRRRGEOUS and to date, contained the best wedding speeches and toasts I’ve ever heard – excluding my own of course, but that could be me just being partial :)  But alas, I should’ve known their day would be epic when I received their invitation in the mail, containing detailed instructions for the  following 3 wedding ingredients:

  1. The Ceremony
  2. The Reception, and (drum roll, please)…
  3. The After Party!

That’s right, y’all: a formal invite to a party after the party! Um, can you say LOVE?!  Alex and Tay (aka. the Groesbecks) did such an amazing job making their wedding day an event for everyone.  It was clear from the start that this wasn’t just a day for them, but for all their friends and family; which after being fortunate enough to be included in that list, I can honestly say I felt honored to be included… and mostly because they made it their honor include everyone.

The G-becks truly relished in the excitement of having all their friends and family – many of who traveled from out of town – in one place celebrating; so, it was obvious they wanted to make the most of it.  Because when you think about it, how often do we get bogged down by conflicting schedules, growing (or declining) careers, doctor’s appointments, ballet recitals, play rehearsals, sport’s team practices or “I gotta go here’s” and “Can’t make it there’s??”   My guess is pretty often, which makes it even harder to gather and rally the troops whenever the mood strikes us and even better when we can.

Then, it dawned on me (ding!); of all the weddings I’ve been to – and there’s been a few ;) - this was the first one I’d ever attended where the invite included a formal declaration of where everyone could go when the DJ’s done spinning and the caterer’s done serving!

Which is fitting, considering the majority of receptions I’ve rocked, there’s always a good amount (if not the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle) of guests who aren’t quite ready to pack up and head home at 11.  In fact, I can think of several off top where the night ended with a frantic shuffle in the parking lot of people getting in and jumping out of cars, trying hard to conjure makeshift plans through broken texts and interrupted phone calls, all to (fingers crossed) end up in the same spot.  I’m sure some of you reading this right now have been a part of such shuffles yourselves.

After parties by no means are essential, but they sure can be fun!  Because let’s face it, the terminology “let’s dance the last dance” doesn’t always apply to everyone, and sometimes, it’s really nice to have an encore :)

Dreaming of a Destination Wedding?: You Name the Price, They Do the Work

Because who wouldn't want this has their backdrop? (courtesy of

Because who wouldn’t want this has their backdrop? (courtesy of

Brides looking to do destination weddings on a budget have one more reason to cheer… for Paradise Maui Weddings is here!  Recently, a girlfriend went through this very same site to book her nautical nuptials , I couldn’t be happier with how smoothly everything has gone.  And while her actual day – October 12, 2013 – has yet to arrive, all the prep work has been a dream!

“So far, so good.  Everyone I’ve worked with has been super friendly, and super helpful.  I like the whole ‘name your own price tool.’  It always reminds me of Flo from Priceline… and I’ve always liked her, haha!” (Abby, Indianapolis, IN)

All joking aside, however, Paradise Maui Weddings is the self-proclaimed, very first “name your own price” wedding company that is looking to create a once in a lifetime experience for all of their once in a lifetime brides.

With wedding packages starting as low as $400 and ranging to as high as your budget will allow, there’s really no limit to what you can do with your destination wedding besides the ones set by yourselves.  Their packages include everything from in room hair and makeup professionals, authentic Hawaiian floral bouquet and lei arrangements, professionally edited photos and videos, as well as limousine services, pre-wedding planning, in-cred-i-ble ceremony locations and on-site assistance.

Seems pretty much perfect, right?  It’s no wonder this type of event planning is more appropriate than ever!  Even though our country may still be in a recessed state, destination weddings have continued to remain on the rise the past few years.  While most couples think of destination weddings as an expensive splurge, it’s not always the case.

In fact, brides and grooms doing the destination scene more often than not report they actually save on overseas excursions!  Because both the guest list, as well as the bottom line details are often cut for destination weddings, the final pricing can be significantly lower than the more traditional, hometown honey “do’s.”  And according to “not-from-around-here” newlyweds it’s easier and more fiscally responsible to travel for nuptials than to stay at home and throw a big friends and family bash.

You know what?  I’ll take their word on it, because Maui seems like a more than ahhhmazing place to set your wedding scene!  So, if any of my beautimous brides-to-be out there are planning on diving head first into one of these destination dreams, don’t forget where you got the idea… and feel free to send said inspiration station an invite!  I love Maui!  Haha :)

And don’t forget, here at Marilyn’s Keepsakes, we have all the perfect Beach & Destination Wedding Finishing Touches to really make your day a dream come true!

Celebrity Status: Wedding, Hot Hollywood Starlets Who’ve Found Their Leading Men

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux at the 2013 Academy Awards got engaged on his birthday last August, but are in no rush to "rush" down the aisle. (courtesy of

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux at the 2013 Academy Awards got engaged on his birthday last August, but are in no rush to “rush” down the aisle. (courtesy of

Recently, I did a post about famed celebutantes who took a backseat to their nuptial-toting friends in Celebrity Bridesmaids: Which Stars Have Stepped Out Of The Spotlight & Into Second Place.  But there must be something in the water among the celebrity elite, because it seems as though more and more of our favorite staaahhhs are saying “Yes!”… yes to the dress… yes to the I do’s… and yes to everything else that a wedding day ensues — looky there, I’m a regular Poet Laurete.

Legit, you can’t turn on a TV without hearing of the next celebrity who recently took the plunge into pre-wedding planning!  (Okay, well, maybe you can, but for someone so openly obsessed with celebrity gossip?  It’s borderline impossible – ha!)  And while I do my fair share of gardening, reading and concert going during the summer months, you best Trust(&)Believe I still take time to catch up on all finest news of the famous this side of the E! Network :)

But regardless of where you fall on the celebrity stalker scale, there is no denying the pull Hollywood has over the world.  Between their star studded, red carpet events to their over the top celebrations, vacations, threads, digs and plans, stars are constantly in the spotlight, and as such spotlighting demeans, at the forefront of trends!

So, while all the ladies below are still “in waiting,” I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m already dyin’ to know who will be the most jaw dropping, knock down, drag out, over-the-top bride of the bunch!

And while only time will tell such truths as above, you can be for darn sure, in the interim, I will be anxiously awaiting my all but guaranteed invite by the mailbox.  Ladies, my address is still the same :)

So, without further adieu, here are some of the Soon-to-Be “Mrs.” of the rich and famous:

Name: Jennifer Aniston
Age: 44
Her Hubby-to-Be: Justin Theroux

photos courtesy of Terry Richardson via

photos courtesy of Terry Richardson via

Name: Olivia Wilde
Age: 29
Her Hubby-to-Be: Jason Sudeikis

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Name: Kelly Osbourne
Age: 28
Her Hubby-to-Be: Matthew Mosshart

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Name: Sofia Vergara
Age: 41
Her Hubby-to-Be: Nick Loeb

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Name: Miley Cyrus
Age: 20
Her Hubby-to-Be: Liam Hemsworth
**well, at least some days they are :)

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Name: Kate Bosworth
Age: 30
Her Hubby-to-Be: Michael Polish

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Name: Angelina Jolie
Age: 38
Her Hubby-to-Be: Brad Pitt
**yes. still :)

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Name: Amy Adams
Age: 38
Her Hubby-to-Be: Darren de Gallo

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Name: Kelly Clarkson
Age: 31
Her Hubby-to-Be: Brandon Blackstock

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And for more engaged celebutantes, check out


A Return to Formality: Serving Sit Down, Plated Dinners after the I Do’s

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Alright, ladies and gents, let’s point the pinkies outward and get classy for a moment, shall we?

<sips champagne from her Waterford crystal… and go>

While weddings have always been and will continue to be an affair for every bride and groom to plan as they see fit, there has been a definite resurgence of refinery as of recent years… and the pip pip cheerio of it all has me pleasantly surprised :) Sure, this kind of a sophisticated splendor never really went away, but one way that it’s really made an impact of late is in plated dinners at reception hall feasts.

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Talk about decadently delightful :)

During an interview with Bridal Guide, Elizabeth Creasey of an LA based catering company, WHOA, Nelly! stated one of their current, biggest requests from Hollywood A-Listers in reference to these plated feasts is for gold silverware, suggesting a “more sophisticated” affair.  Check out below for some examples of this golden boy appeal :)

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courtesy of, and

And if adding entree choices to your buffet free meal is an option, might I suggest you consider adding a dish that showcases either yours, his or both your cultural culinary?  This is an extremely popular take for brides and grooms cross all cultures, and it adds an additional touch of sentimentality to an already beautiful occasion.

But if you’re wondering what to offer that will have mouths watering for more, why not try 2013′s go to dish wish: pork!  ‘Tis true, kiddos.  Apparently pork has become the go-to meat for today’s modern wedding settings.  While it is one of the oldest and most commonly consumed meats all over the world, it also has the ability to be transformed into sooo many delicious dishes… so, forks up, porks up!  Ha, I couldn’t resist :)

But no matter what you decide – buffet styled, plated meals, pitch in or otherwise – just be sure you make it your own :)

Old Soles & Young Love: How the Wedding Shoe is Changing

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Like everything else in today’s modern weddings, the shoe selection has also taken on a less traditional approach.  No longer are the days of white and ivory pumps and black tuxedo shoes –  oh no, my friends!

Today’s modern brides and grooms are opting on the side of trendy and leaning towards shoes that showcase their personalities.  Sure, sure, everyone knows that wedding shoes with color have been around for a minute, but I’m not just talking about color.  I’m talking about e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g from color and comfort to crazy and charismatic.

Chuck Taylors are now the new fashion forward flats.  Cowboy boots are the edgier Manolo Blahniks, and trojan sandles are the cutting edge of slip-on’s. 

I’m telling you what, there just doesn’t seem to be a limit to what brides and grooms will wear… and I la-LOUVRE it!!  While I was all over the idea of colored shoes years ago, I can’t help but smile when I see this trend put into action.  Don’t believe me??  Just check below and see what I mean :)

photos courtesy of (from top to bottom, left to right),,,,,,,, (insert) and

Winter Wonderland Weddings with Snowflake & Icicle Inspired Décor

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There is just something so magical about winter weddings.  The crisp weather.  The sparkly icicles.  The slow falling snow.  The dazzling night skies.  It’s a perfect setting for romance, snuggling up and dancing the night away with the one you love the most.

And after looking through several of these Frosty the Snowman inspired designs – featuring intricate lighting, crystallized ice sculptures and baby’s breath centerpieces – it’s super hard for me to believe that Old Man Winter remains the least popular season to say ‘I do.’

Below are some of my favorite wintry wonders.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

A dash of twinkling baby’s breath can make all the difference.

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Sprinkle in snowflake lighting to really make ‘em ooh and ahh.

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Drizzle your decor with draped crystals and create the look of poshly lit icicles.

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Sculpt an impeccable setting with ice, mini floras and fur (yes fur!!)

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Cover up with a chic cardigan and take your gown to celebrity status.

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Or for the super sassy, try a frisky fur wrap!

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Make your cake top pop with Old Man Winter’s prettiest creations.

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Surround your guest with chilling-inspired love from floor to ceiling — this is by FAR my fave!!!

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Let Your Guests Keep on Truckin’ with Late Night Meals on Wheels

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These days, a wedding isn’t just a brief moment in time… it’s a monumental event for the ages!  In fact, I’m often reminded of a quote from Wedding Date - the 2005 film starring Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney (dream!) - when I think of just how epic some weddings have become.  Shortly after Kat Ellis (Messing) arrives in London for her sister’s wedding, her mom (played by Holland Taylor) informs Kat that:

“This is a marathon, not a sprint.  We’ve got welcome cocktails today.  Then, tomorrow’s Young People in the Park and Stags and Hens.  Friday’s the picnic, then the rehearsal dinner, and since you left you no margin for jet lag, I need you to hydrate.” 

Of course not everyone goes that over the top when planning their big day, but that doesn’t mean their day feels anything less than a marathon.  From sun up to sun down, a bride, her groom and everyone else in between have a lot of ground to cover… and while some might say the key to duration is hydration… others are more lenient towards sustenance of the chewable variety.

And in big cities like New York, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, grub is precisely what they get!  These big time metro poles are famous for their food truck industries, which they are becoming all the rage in wedding day agendas!  In LA, for instance, mobile grub doesn’t get much bigger than In-N-Out Burger, which has been providing years worth of service to brides and grooms looking to keep their guests full and focused well into the night.

It’s also a great way to talk to guests you may have missed!  One bride (pictured below) used In-N-Out Burger at her reception and said, “We didn’t do a receiving line at the reception, but while everyone was lined up to order their food my husband and I went down the line and greeted everyone while they waited.  It worked out really well and helped fill the time that people were just standing around.”

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Love love love.  Of course, there are so many other ways to keep on truckin’ even if there are no trucks.

At my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding a couple years ago, there was a break between the ceremony and reception for the bridal party to get pictures; so, while everyone else was enjoying a wide assortment of hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, the bridal party was schlepping through a park trying to capture the perfect shot.  Matt and Jess (the SIL and BIL) didn’t want their favorite people to suffer however and provided all of us with White Castle burgers and fries to go, as a tied-me-over ’til dinner.

You might also consider:

  • Food Carts
  • Hot Dog Stands
  • Popcorn Machines
  • Goody Bags
  • Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
  • Late Night Pizza Delivery
  • Midnight Snacks
  • Homemade Treats

Real Life Wedding: Falling in Love is BEST Packaged by Family Fun

The gorgeous bride and her handsome groom. (courtesy of

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of not only attending but also rockin’ it out as a bridesmaid at my cousin Kimberly Lynn’s wedding.  Marrying the man of her dreams, the former Ms. Kidwell wed Brian Mitchell during a b.e.a.uuuutiful fall fiesta ceremony in the heartland of the Midwest.  Surrounded by their closest 450 - give or take – family and friends, the duo said “I do” at Kim’s childhood parish, St. Barnabus Catholic Church on October 15, 2011.

It was a celebration for the ages, sprinkled with all things fabulous, and to say it was a joy to be a part of it all would merely be the tip of the excitement iceberg!  As many weddings as I’ve attended (Kim and Brian’s marking the 50th the Mister and I have attended together alone!), it never ceases to amaze me at how original each one is… how the individuality of the bride, her groom and their families seem to take the same occasion and mark it with something genuinely unique, something uniquely them… I’m telling you, it’s something nothing short of amazeballs.

And because it’s always such an honor to be included in a celebration, I like to glorify the creativity of each by sharing it with the masses (you’re welcome, haha!) and posting it for all to see!  Below are some of my favorite parts… feel free to be inspired:

Post Rehearsal / Pre-Wedding Slumber Party.  Kim had all the girls over for a final Girl’s Night In after the rehearsal, and in a word, it was fantastic.  Giving one of the best attendant gifts ever, we celebrated the evening by watching one part of the gift,  Bridesmaids and secretly “ooh’ing and aww’ing” the other… unique bridesmaids’ jewelry – picked out by the bride herself – for us to where on the occasion.  Love love love!

How much do you la-Louvre those colors together? (courtesy of Google Images)

Killer Color Combo.  As sampled above with the bracelets, the colors were purple, orange and green.  The mother of the bride, my fabulous Aunt Gail, is a DIVA when it comes to decor; so, there was no doubt that the wedding would be nothing short of F.I.E.R.C.E. when it came to its overall layout… and I have to admit, just looking at the floral arrangements alone, you can see just how fierce it was… Tyra Banks, eat your heart out!

And yes, that would be my bouquet barely peaking in on the right and me totally cut out. Yep, haha! (courtesy of

The Bride wore Purple Pumps.  Keeping in theme with the wedding day and the trendy modern bride, Kimmi sported her best plum pumps for the occasion, and showed off her boogie shoes in style!

I wanna put on, my my my my my Boogie Shoes, and boogie with you! (courtesy of

Crowd Pleasing Priest, personalized by friendship.  Being graduates of the local Catholic high school (Roncalli, what?), Kim and I had the pleasure of seeing one of our former classmates (and prom kings!), Dustin Boehm, reach the high honor of joining the priesthood.  Kimmi decided no other priest would do, and Dustin, errr, cough cough, Father Boehm was the one chosen to oversee the whole newlywed nuptials!  He did such a Tony the Tiger GRRREEEAAAT job!

Father Boehm in person and in action! (courtesy of yours truly and

Father of the Bride Speech, marked with Love.  So, being a complete sentimental nut, one of my favorite parts of a wedding day is always the time honored father of the bride speech, and my Uncle Rich did not disappoint!  One of the best parts was when he totaled to the years of marriage Kim and Brian had backing them between the families, and because the Kidwell side is such a force to be reckoned with… he had all of us stand up and officially welcome Brian to the fam… all 900 and couting.  Haha! 

Kim giving her Papa a hug after his speech, so sweet! (courtesy of yours truly!)

Ceremony Shoes + Reception Runners.  Kim’s nephews, Jackson and Austin, rocked it out as ring bearers and were both equipped with wedding shoes for the ceremony and running shoes for the reception.  Genius.  I also like how they took it upon themselves to ditch their jackets, ties and tuxedo shirts as well.  Ahhh, boys :)

Work it out, Jackson! (courtesy of yours truly)

Glorious Groom’s Cake.  Vastly becoming one of my favorite parts of the reception, their Groom’s Cake was one of the best I’ve ever seen!  Courtesy of Cheryl Blessing of, K+B’s groom’s cake was representative of their hometown pride and their fanatical love for the NFL.  Kim, being a born and raised Indy girl, loves the Colts, and go figure, she falls in love with a Illinois native / Chicago Bear extremist.  Yep.  I can hope their kids are smart enough to make the right choice ;)

Touchdown perfection! (courtesy of

Epically assembled with dance circles, laughter and all kinds of greatness, I could go on and on (and ON!) about Kim and Brian’s wedding, but sadly, like all good things, this post has to have an ending.  So, here’s to Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell…

As you sit side by side on the roller coaster of life, remember to scream at the peaks, hold hands through the dips, laugh through the loops and enjoy every twist and turn!  We love love love you and cheers to many years of happiness!