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

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courtesy of

#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 :)

Raise Your Glass: How-to Write the Best Wedding Speech Ever

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courtesy of

Every wedding has one.  Some are given by the best man; some by the maid of honor, and still others by the bride or groom’s parents.  They may make you laugh; they may make you cry, but one thing they certainly should NOT do is make you cringe.

Wedding speeches are perhaps one of the most memorable aspects of your big day.  It is, or at least it should be, an interesting insight to your relationship as a couple, a wish of goodwill and a toast to your love.  And because whatever the speech-giver says is generally amped across a sound system, it’s important that it’s worthy of amplification!  So, here are a few tips on how to make it count:

First, let’s start off with what you should avoid at all costs.  Humorous anecdotes are wonderful, but keep in mind that embarrassing does NOT always equal funny.  Reminiscing about senior year spring break’s less than savory moments or the devastating choices in ex-girlfriends may make some (namely the bride, groom and Great Aunt Edna) uncomfortable.

While leaving humiliation out is key; you don’t want to leave out the fun.  Therefore, Don’t.Be.Boring.  An easy way to find a compromise is simply by giving a speech that is genuinely sincere.  Try taking the emotional high road.  Whether you choose to be humorous or sentimental, just make sure that any stories or memories you have about the couple are relevant, sincere and stay on topic.

Another thing to consider when beginning the speech-writing process is time frame.  It’s difficult to wax poetic about a couple’s love in five minutes, but any longer than that and the natives will generally start to get restless.  Trust, they will be eye rolling and hoping for an out.

That being said, another crucial rule:  do NOT go in unprepared!  No matter how skilled you think you are at impromptu, even the most brilliant “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” stars can stutter after a couple drinks.

Finally, be sure to structure and deliver your speech properly.  Every speech needs a beginning, middle and (most importantly!) an end.  Begin your toast by opening strong.  Introduce yourself.  Break the ice.  Give a quick factoid or quote — just something breezy and easy to gateway into the meat of your speech.

The Middle.  This is where your original content should come from.  Memories are great, but too many inside jokes will leave those on the outside unsettled.  So, stick with subjects that will personalize your toast and maybe garner a few laughs and tears.  Having the best of both worlds will create a well-rounded speech. So for every joke you tell, balance it with a genuine, maybe even tearful, sentiment of love. **Please Note: try to avoid hard subjects and harsh language.  No one cares about your stance on the economic depression (well, at least not in this context) or that you can swear like a sailor.  Again, not the time, not the place.

Finally, finish with a bang!  If you’ve racked your brain for more perspective only to come up empty-handed, it’s time to bring in the experts. Quotes, whether they’re spoken by a famous author or a member of the family, serve as the perfect standby conclusion. Some great examples of touching quotes:

  • “Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner.” Amy Bloom
  • “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, and always with the same person.” Mignon McLaughlin
  • “Kindness is never wasted.” Sylvain Reynard
  •  “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu
  • “A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” Andre Maurois
  • “A happy home is one in which each spouse grants the possibility that the other may be right, even if neither believes it.” Don Fraser
  • “To laugh often and love much… to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to give one’s self… this is to have succeeded.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

At this time, you will cue all of the wedding guests to join you in a toast to the bride and groom by raising their toasting wedding flutes and wishing them eternal joy and happiness. And hopefully you’ll hear cheers and clapping, not crickets.

Top 10 Must See Wedding Movies for Today’s Modern Bride

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Who doesn’t love a romantic comedy… and ones featuring weddings??  Fuhgetaboutit.  Even dudes have to admit there have been at least a handful of “chick flicks” that made them lol on more than one occasion.  So, while preparing for the day you say “I do,” why not revel in some cinematic gems that will get you in the spirit of things?

1. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Okay, seriously, this one’s the BEST! Humorously combining the outrageous nature of bringing two families together as well as the joy true love can bring, this is movie fun for all!

2. The Wedding Planner

Ahh, this one brings me back to the college years when it played in me and the BF’s dorm room one million times :)  Men can love it because of Jennifer Lopez; while us ladies get to feast on the man candy that is Matthew McConaughey.

3. Father of the Bride (Parts 1 + 2)

Good enough to denote a sequel.  Need I say more :)

4. The Princess Bride

Stop rhyming and I mean it!!!… Anybody want a peanut??  Haha, this is one that I loved just as much in my youth, as I do now –  pretty much every part is quotable.

5. Sex in the City: The Movie

Fair warning, you have to get through some serious rough patches before you can get to the happy ending, but like all good things in life, it just takes time. Be sure to watch this one with girlfriends!

6. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Anyone care for a sing-a-long? Is so, look no further than this Oscar winning classic! Set in rural Oregon in 1850, this feature film has it all! From singing and dancing to adventure and comedy, you’ll be glad to watch this one again and again!

7. Wedding Crashers

If raunchy humor is your humor, than you can’t find a much more erfect fit than Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn.

8. My Best Friend’s Wedding

Love love love this one! Any movie that makes America’s Sweetheart

9. Mamma Mia!

Here we go again!! My My! (Yeah, yeah… don’t act like you don’t sing it every time you hear it too! Hehe!) For cereal, everyone… join in the chorus!

10. Funny Face

Okay, I’ll admit it… Audrey Hepburn is a dream! Arguably one of the most pristine faces ever to grave the silver screen, this drop dead gorgeous lady is ahhhhmazing in Funny Face! Not only is it a love story for the ages, but part of the movie is set in Paris!! Ooh la la! Za City of Lights!

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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courtesy of

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 :)

courtesy of, and

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 :)

Wedding Invitation Trend: Foil Stamped & Fabulous

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Metallics.  Both classy and flashy, bold golds and sterling silvers are two trendy accessories a bride can count on to never go out of style.  From jewelry and shoes to clothing and headpieces, details dressed in metallic bling take on level of fabulous that simply goes unmatched by most accessorizing counterparts.

And when this stylish sass is added to wedding invitations, brides and grooms the world over are learning just how ahhh(to the)mazing their opening statement can be!  For cereal, I just received one of these metal-stamped musings in the mail this past week, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was WOW’ed when the initial reveal took place.  The foil stamped invites had just the right amount of three dimensional shimmer and truly created an ooh-la-la factor without a lot of fuss.  *Fridge-worthy for sure!

In fact, it was the simplicity of the design itself that caught me by surprise the most.  The actual invitation used to set the background for the foiling was nothing spectacular or out of the norm… just plain, crisp white 80# cardstock.  And yet, the entire look was utterly fab!

It doesn’t take much to give a lot of drama when it comes to metallic-infused invites; so, brides and grooms can go with a very simple, very basic invite – which, plus side news flash! means they start off significantly cheaper than overly ornate versions! – and still get an expensive look with both sophisticated and inviting features.  Not only that, but the metallic look doesn’t have to stop with the typical brassy-colors generally associated with precious metals… you can pretty much foil stamp whatever color your little bride-to-be heart desires!  Yay!

There is one thing, however.  While I can’t deny the DIY nature that most wedding invitations create, I also can’t help but foresee the trouble a do-it-yourself’er may encounter when it comes to foil stamping on their own.  There are several sites – not to mention YouTube videos – dedicated to delivering brides how-to info on foil stamping from home… I can’t really see how this is feasible unless you have an extra $500-$1000 just lying around.  Legit, the pressing machine is nothing short of a pretty penny!

And who wants to spend their money on a foil press machine when there’s a dress and accessories to buy!??  Pfffffttttttttt!

But as far as the trend goes, it’s nothing short of hot! Hot! HOT!  And while buying a foil press machine for your home may not be on your Top 10 wedding needs list, it’s still something that’s totally doable for the professionals and looks absolutely incredible when complete!

AND! even if you’re a bride a dead set on doing your invitations, don’t want to buy a foil press machine but still want the look it creates, try stamping instead!  Custom stampers and metallic looking ink pads are incredibly inexpensive and can still give you that same look for waaayyyy less!

Check out below for some foil stamped inspiration OR go to our simply chic invitations and get started stamping today!

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

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

Marryoke: That’s my JAM!

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If you’re a music geek (like me!), chances are you’ve seen a few music videos in your time. Well, how would like it if you could look back on your wedding day, TRL style? Ta-da! Here ya go!

Marryokes (pronounced marry-o-key), a company out of Belfast, Ireland (no worries, they travel everywhere in the world!), have made their name on putting that MTV twist on wedding videography. I know there are a lot of fun loving couples who have filled the web with videos of their musical grooves down the aisle (I still can’t get Chris Brown’s “Forever” out of my head!), but this, my friends, is something completely different! It’s not just the bride, groom, and wedding party that get to throwdown their dance moves, and mad karaoke skills; they get all of your wedding guests in on the act too!

It may kinda seem like it would be a big production at first glance, but Marryokes husband and wife team assures the process is completely painless for every guest, and most importantly, the bride and groom! God knows you don’t need anything else to stress out about (did someone say wardrobe malfunction?).

Now, because I’ve done karaoke before (The Temptations are my fav!) my big question for Marryokes was, “Are there only a few songs that a couple can pick from?” Their response: “No way!” You get to pick, because let’s be honest, who would want to have to lip-synch a song they hate?! They do say you should pick a song you know the words to though, because the truth is we all have friends that “know the words” to songs and mumble their way through the whole thing. You know who you are! :)

With all of the pieces of the Marryokes puzzle pieced together, I think I would have to say this is one of the coolest ways to capture a wedding day I have seen in a second, but like I said, I’m a music nerd! If the music video thing isn’t really your scene, they also do a gorgeous job at giving you a straight forward wedding day video too….but who would want that when you could have this!……

video provided by

Oh No He Didn’t: Get Your Wedding Day GangSTAR On!

For serious, I just about DIED when I saw this tickle-me-pink treat this morning!  Sent to me from Ms. T (wad up, Lauren!), via, this one of a kind wedding day detail is just about as unique as they come.  Why? One may ask.  Well, to put it frankly, it’s because it’s about the groom!

All too often when it comes to wedding planning, grooms are rarely (if ever!) mentioned.  Falling to the wayside after the proposal, soon-to-be-hubbies almost always become props in their bride’s wedding day plans.  But the most amazeballs part is how gladly said grooms assume their role in the way, WAY back just to please their queens.  (Sigh)  Whether they don’t really care about the details or they simply care about her too much, I always seem to warm from the inside out at the thought of the notion :)

With that said, however, I also absolutely la-Louvre when a groom takes matters into his own hands (without roughing the bridal waters) and provides his lady with a special surprise, unique to his personality, as well as their love. 

Set up as anniversary present for his wife, Denne, Dan made a “slammin” rap mix for their one year celebration.  With the help of, Dan was able to put his lyrics to music and accompany it with photos from their wedding day.  Haha!  Too and much.  Check out below and see what I mean.

My only concern now is… who am I gonna make one of these treats for??  It’s not like you have to have a good voice to rap; you just have to have a voice!  Therefore, it’s something open for all!

Bridal Shower Alternative: Give the Couple a Proper Toasting

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Recently, a friend of mine (holler for a dollar, Candice!) had her “bridal shower” here in town, and I couldn’t help but get a kick out of the theme.  Thrown by her mom and aunt, they decided to do a “Wine & Whiskey: Stock the Bar” themed celebration, and I gotta admit… I thoroughly enjoyed it :)

Instead of bringing your typical BB&B / Target / Crate & Barrel / fill-in-the-blank-of-your-fave-registry gift, friends and family were requested to bring their favorite bottle of booze (be it beer, wine or otherwise) and / or their favorite barware accessory to stock the couple’s latest home remodel: their new bar!  Now, before anyone starts calling the authorities for potential abuse, I think it’s important for me to state their case :)

Candice is everything but traditional.  Since moving to Chicago six years ago with her long term beau, they’ve really already built a life together.  Candice is the kind of girl, if she wants a gravy boat – for whatever reason one would want a gravy boat – she’ll buy it.  If she wants to drop everything and take a trip to the Canary Islands next week??  Well then, by golly, she’ll book her plane ticket that day at lunch.

She really is one of a kind, and after already living together for such a significant time anyway, they really did have mostly everything they needed to make their house a home, which generally includes all the appliances, dishware, kitchen accessories, towels etc. that would normally be put on a registry.  Therefore, her mom came up with the brilliant bar themed idea to complement their newest renovation, as well as their love for entertaining!

I mean, how can you not love that??  After attending such a celebration and seeing all the fun, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the fabulousness of such an event… but what’s even more amazing is the practicality of it all too!  Candice and Jared (or her gentleman caller, as C refers to him, haha!) love to entertain!  With the majority of both their families living in Indiana and them posting up shop in the Windy City, they highly encourage their “open door” policy and vow to never turn away a wearisome traveler or friend from their welcoming embrace.  Hence, the theme becomes even more amazing!

Heck, even for the less open / more closed door couples, I still stand by this being a good idea!  While I may have hung up my party hat after an incredible four year stint at IU, there are still the throw back occasions that cause for toasting.  And while I’m country born and bred and will always have a taste for brew-ha-ha, it’d be nice to be able to offer something for the classier pallets that come my way when need be… especially without spending half the grocery budget to do so!  Haha, booze is expensive!

In the end, it’s OBVS up to every individual couple on what will work best for them, but this was one I knew I had to share!

Cheers to C and Jared and many. MANY years of happy toasts!

C+J (courtesy of Candice)

Grown Up Advice from Not So Grown Up Kids

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I love kids for a number of reasons. 

  1. They’re fearless.  They haven’t lived long enough to know true heartbreak or ache, making them far braver than any adult counterpart. 
  2. (An extension of one) They love recklessly and unconditionally.  They’re pure spirits, yet untainted by the worries and stress most people know all too well.
  3. They’re hilarious.  Dead sere, no one makes me laugh like my 3 year old nephew and 2 year old niece. In a word, they’re riotous.
  4. But most importantly, they’re honest.  While they learn the difference between what is right and wrong, they still have the innate ability to give responses that both refresh and revive the soul.

And when you combine points 3 and 4, you generally have some severely comical moments.  I recently received an email forward from my crazy Aunt Julie – holla AJ! – and I thought I would share it all with you.  So, so funny!


You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and be sure to keep the chips and dip coming. – Alan, age 10  

-No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with. – Mary, age 10 


-Twenty-three is the best age because you’re old and practically known the person FOREVER by then. – Camille, age 10

-Once I’m done with kindergarten, I’m gonna find me a wife. – Bert, age 6 (Who says only older men want to commit?) 

-No age is good enough to get married.  You gotta be a fool to get married. – Isaiah, age 6 (He must not know Bert.) 


-You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids. – Derrick, age 8 (Brilliant!)

-Both don’t want any more kids.  — Lori, age 8


-Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough. – Olivia, age 8 

-On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date. – Martin, age 10 (Seems logical enough – hehe)


-When they’re rich. – Lucy, age 7 (Pam’s my favorite so far – haha!)

 -The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that. – Curt, age 7

-The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It’s the right thing to do. – Howard, age 8 (And who said chivalry was dead?  Look at Howie here… so incredibly noble!)


-It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them. – Anita, age 9 (bless you child )


-There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn’t there? – Kelvin, age 8 (Sooo cute!) 

But the best answer by FAR…


-Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck. – Oscar, age 7 (Haha!  Amazeballs!)

Wedding Trend Alert: Comic Book Inspired Invites

designed by Tony Fleecs, courtesy of

Zap!  Boom!  Whoosh!  Bamf! POW!

That’s right.  As geek chic becomes more and more popular, so do all the nerd-tastic trends it represents!  And brides and grooms everywhere are learning just how fun incorporating these once less desired details into their big day can be!

As a lifetime-achieving, self-proclaimed nerdy bird, I’ve got to admit, I love this… especially when it comes to the comic book themed invitations.  My brothers and I were raised on comic books and continue to little-kid-at-Christmas excited every time the latest Marvel or DC dream is released to the silver screen!

But I’m not naive enough to think that everyone will delight in this trend as much as me.  In fact, I’m sure the more traditional and classic-minded folks out there might even turn up their noses to it… but even the most cynical comic book critics have to admit… they are one of a kind at the very least!  And when done appropriately, turn out pretty amaZING!

Check out below and see what I mean

Designed by Tony Fleecs for Heidi Atocicco and Chris Ryder’s wedding, this 5 page invitation was nothing short of a page turner :)

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Hello Kitty meets Archie Comics for this couple’s ‘happily ever after’ invite :)

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Get super literal with a comic book cover invite, captioned with all the big day details and custom illustrated just for you :)

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Take it even a step further by filling your invitation with graphically inspired inserts and super fun details :)

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Or simply pop in thought bubbles with your favorite photo and BAMF! you’ll have a one of a kind invite like Jay and Anna :)

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No matter how they do it or choose to showcase it, there’s no denying these original invites stand out and leave audiences (err, guests) hoping for the *To Be Continued…