Life is a special occasion

TOTW : Important Rental Questions

There seem to be an endless list of important questions that must be asked when renting items for your wedding or special event. Most of those questions focus on the rental items, set up and pricing, however. There is another aspect often overlooked, which is break down. It's extremely important to find out exactly what is required of you after the event is over. Below are six key points to discuss with your representative. Keep them on hand when booking your rentals because overlooking them usually results in additional charges and nobody likes that!

• Do the dishes need to be separated, rinsed and / or washed?
• Do the tables need to be broken down and / or stacked ?
• Do the chairs need to be stacked and / or bagged?
• Do the linens need to be folded?
• How do I maintain the fountain?
• Do I need to gather all the rental items in one single location, or place them in a certain area for pick up?

Photo courtesy of Encore Party Rentals

Norm 06 Puzzle Light

feel more human looks in the obvious places, peek around corners and turn over the unassuming stones for products, information and resources that support a modern lifestyle. They put it all in one place, and let you poke around and shop for new products that turn heads and open minds. One of these products is the Norm 06 Puzzle Light. Inspired by nature, lilies and water lilies, Norm 06 is a sculptural lamp shade with its own expression. It's easy to assemble without the need for any tools or glue and would be a unique and head turning addition to use as decor for a special event.

Real Events : Rebecca Thuss

You might not know her name but you certainly know her work. Rebecca Thuss is a ten year veteran of Martha Stewart Living, an award winning photo-stylist, a creative director, wedding designer and crafter who is responsible for the breathtaking work everyone swoons over. Yeah, she can literally make people sigh out loud; or maybe, quietly to themselves. Either way, she is an amazing talent who inspires people like me. If you are in need of some event inspiration you should visit her website and view her portfolio right now! You will not be disappointed.

TOTW: Count Yourselves

Do you want to eat at your reception? Then don't forget to include yourselves in the guest count. Seems to obvious, right? Well, what appears to be a funny thought -the guests of the hour not having something to eat- really does happen.

It's not that difficult to figure out how. Picture this, the bride and groom have diligently worked on their wedding spreadsheets for twelve months. They have made sure to dot every i and cross every t. They can tell you who is having steak, who is a vegan, how many vendor meals they ordered and who is sitting at table ten. Their spreadsheets are perfect, not even a typo in the bride's college roommate's new boyfriend's last name. That's right, it's all perfect except they didn't include themselves in the final guest count. Okay, maybe the bride and the groom will eat but someone might be eating the leftover stuffed mushroom caps from the cocktail hour for dinner.

Now in a perfect world where everyone has hired fantastic vendors, this is a non issue because these fantastic vendors are prepared, however. The bride and groom who had worked so diligently on every single detail, also have a tight budget where every penny is accounted for in the beautiful, 98 person, garden reception they've planned. When they didn't hear back from Uncle Joe, Aunt Beth, cousin Steve and cousin Drea, they assumed they were not going to make it to the wedding; and, when the groom never heard back from his father's old golf buddy who just remarried and moved across the country, again they assumed they were not attending; and they never imagined the photographer would end up bringing two extra assistants to the wedding to cover even more angles of the event. So, three days before the wedding, they called the caterer and gave them the final head count of 98, accidentally leaving themselves out of the final count.

Ta-da, this is how easy it is for there to be a food shortage at a wedding. So make yourselves count!

Photo bride and groom chocolate caramel apples courtesy of Beau-Coup

DIY: Scratch Off Ticket

The name says it all. And Art Mind -who also has a shop on Etsy- teaches you just how to make a scratch off lottery ticket. There are about one million and one uses for this: baby shower, dinner party, wedding, birthday party, cards, promotional tool. This is just the coolest tutorial I have seen in a while and you can change it up to suit your event. Enjoy!

DIY: Pendant Lamp

I was reading a posting from The Estate of Things on making a pendant lamp. Immediately, I thought this would be a perfect piece to decorate an event. The original idea comes from Crafty Nest. She used a large bouncy ball, clear drying craft glue, hemp string and a light fixture. The size of the ball and the type of string and light fixture used can be tailored to fit the decor of the specific event. Previously, I wrote a post on this same type of project, however. It appears that Ready Made has since taken that project down, so enjoy!

Wedding Gowns Under $250

Here is the second dress in the Wedding Gowns Under $250 series, featuring gorgeous finds for your wedding attire priced under...$250. Chadwicks, yes, Chadwicks is where I stumbled upon this gorgeous pleated charmeuse dress complete with a intricately beaded bodice. The dress features an empire-waistline, which is figure-flattering; sweetheart neckline; spaghetti straps that place an emphasis on the shoulders; and a long, pleated skirt in silky charmeuse. To me, this dress evokes a beach wedding but to each bride is her own! The cost of this beautiful dress...$134.99, proving beautiful can be affordable.

TOTW: Special Events At Home

This article marks the half way point of the five part TOTW series on hosting special events at home. The first entry in the series explored many of the logistical issues associated with parking. The second entry focused on household capacity. Today the focus turns to the not so pretty but boo hoo because it's imperative to think about topic of restrooms and cleaning.

Two of the most common areas overlooked when hosting any special event at home are restrooms and cleaning, starting with restrooms. Can your home support 150 people going to the bathroom between one and three time over the course of a four or five hour period? I'm going to go out on a limb and say no, unless you have mighty toilets and a super septic tank. And even if you do have mighty toilets and and a super septic tank that can withstand constant flushing, the average house has only has two or three bathrooms, which is just not enough. The magical number of toilets should be at least 1 toilet for every 35 guests.

If this is not sufficient support that provisions need to be made for additional restrooms, how about this: are all your bathrooms located on the first floor, right next to one another? Probably not. They are more than likely spread out throughout your house. Meaning, guests will have to walk into your private bedrooms to access the restrooms. Hmmmm, no thank you!

Okay, still not convinced? What happens if one of the toilets malfunctions? Besides creating a mess -literally and figuratively- you'll be out the money that should have been spent on the additional restrooms anyways since you'll have to hire a plumber to fix the problem. So cut to the chase and make the right provisions by renting additional restrooms.

And there is NO need to be embarrassed by having port-o-potties trucked into your gorgeous wedding because they have gone glam. Seriously, check out Kholer's luxury restrooms. This is a luxury restroom that provides an upscale environment for events such as concert tours, sports tournaments, corporate events, birthday parties, and weddings. The multi-user restrooms features individual male and female suites, and porcelain KOHLER® sinks and toilets, chrome faucets, and luxurious trim and finish materials available in cherry wood and marble. Tasteful artwork, music, air-conditioning, and full-length mirrors are also present in all restrooms, to make participants feel comfortable in their bathroom-away-from-home. Okay, maybe this isn't in everyone's budget. But the port-o-potty has evolved from the blue constructions workers stalls of the past. There are upscale options available.

The second portion of this entry focus on cleaning. Hiring a clean up crew is another must for an at home special event. Of course, your caterer will help to clean up the event, however. The caterer will probably not be cleaning your luxury restrooms throughout the evening, or picking up anything the guests may have dropped, tidying up the house, wiping down the floor or table tops, emptying ashtrays, keeping trash cans empty. After all the guests have left, the crew can also do a sweep of the street picking up any mess left behind. This is something you will not want to do after the party, or even the next day. But left unattended could result in a costly fine from your neighborhood association or the town where you live. Don't worry, the clean up crew doesn't need to be an army. Certainly one or two helpers will suffice.

Remember, hosting any special event is all about being prepared. Hosting a special event at home means you have to go above and beyond to ensure your event is a success.

This is a five part posting. Check back next week for tips on Rental Needs.

Photo Courtesy of Atlantis Home

DIY : English Trifle Table

The Bride's Cafe is a fun blog that I like to check in with when I have a few free moments. Today I came across DIY : English Trifle Table (courtesy of Off White Wedding), which is a perfect idea for many types of events. A baby shower shower came to my mind first but it would work as a dessert table for a birthday party, or even for a wedding. Not only does she give great tips on putting together the best trifle table but she also shares her recipes for Chocolate KahlĂșa Trifle, Lemon Trifle and Strawberry Vanilla Trifle.

Signature Drink Club: Honey Deuce

The Honey Deuce was created by Nick Mautone, Grey Goose's Master Mixologist and NYC Restaurateur, to serve as the official cocktail of the 2009 US Open Tennis Championship.

The cocktail is a great mix of simple flavors and is perfectly refreshing. It is also up for interpretation and opens up nicely with a variety of Chambord substitutes with a suggested blackberry cordial or cherry brandy being two of the many amazing possibilities. You may also be tempted to skip the melon ball garnish, but it is the perfect finishing touch and almost necessary.

Honey Deuce
by way of About.Com

•1 1/4 parts Grey Goose Vodka
•fresh squeezed lemonade
•1/2 part Chambord or premium raspberry liqueur
•crushed ice
•honeydew melon balls for garnish

•Fill chilled highball glass with crushed ice and add GREY GOOSE Vodka.
•Top with lemonade to just below the rim and then add Chambord.
•Garnish with honeydew melon balls.

Photo and recipe courtesy of About.Com

L | D Finds: Laura Hooper's Emotional Maps

What an incredible idea! Laura Hooper has created emotional maps, which maps details of a couple's journey to each other and then together to their wedding day.

The example above is about a bride and groom who were both born on the East Coast, shared their first date in Massachusettes in 2004, and also shared their second "first date" in 2006! You can see the dates and trips that are important to them, such as their summer trip to Maine, date to the Science Museum, and winter trip to New York City.

The emotional maps are a great way to let your friends and family know what events have shaped your relationship with your soon-to-be bride or groom - and they make a great keepsake for you to cherish forever!

DIY: Light Bulb Vase

Design Sprout posted this adorable alternative to CB2's teardrop hanging vase, which costs $4.95 each. This would be a great way to decorate any party. The vases could have ribbon wrapped around the top, flowers hanging out or floating inside. There are a lot of individual twists you could use to make this even more fabulous!

via Isn't She Lovely

•A metal saw
•A light bulb
•2 screwdrivers (small and large)
•A round file
•Metal wire (beading or fishing wire should work)

translated to English from Esprit Cabane

•Saw the base of the screw cap with a metal saw, turning the bulb regularly, so you remove the electrical contact part.
•Once the base of the screw cap is cut, insert a screwdriver and break the glass tube that sticks out (be careful).
•Then, place a larger screwdriver in the cavity of glass, pushing down firmly, so the filament is separated from the bulb.
•With a round file, enlarge the opening and take out the filament. The bulb should be empty now.
•To create suspended vases, drill two holes by hand on both sides of the screw cap with a drill bit. The aluminum should pierce easily.
•Slip metal wire (or fishing wire) through the holes that you punched and tie a knot on each side (like a purse strap).
•Then suspend the vase from a hook, or wherever you like.
•Put a little water in the bulb and then some flowers.

DIY : Decorating The Plate

Colin Cowie posted a great article titled decorating the plate on his website. The idea is simple yet sophisticate and is easy to duplicate. Basically, you are turning the rims of your oversized dinner plates into your own personal canvas. Frame any appetizer, salad, or main course with a “confetti” of the following:

•Minced herbs such as chervil, Italian parsley, or chives
•Finely cubed peeled tomatoes and torn ribbons of basil
•Chopped red onion
•Cracked pepper

Dessert plates can be decorated with the following:

•Powdered sugar
•Cocoa powder
•Finely ground coffee
•Fruit coulis
•Fresh fruits
•Shaved chocolate

For The Menu: Baked Brie

I had a few minutes to myself this afternoon and chose to flip on one of the best channels ever...The Food Netowrk. Luckily, one of my Food Network favs happened to be on, Ina (a.k.a., the Barefoot Contessa). She was whipping up a classic, baked brie. One helpful tip she shared is to serve the cheese on top of fig leaves for a beautiful display. If fig leaves are not available any flat leaf will do, such as hydrangea leaves or lemon leaves. Any of these can all be picked up at your local florist.

1/4 wheel brie
4 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the brie on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper and drizzle with the honey.
Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it starts to ooze but not melt.
Serve with crackers.

Cake Inspiration

Real Simple posted a new article on 6 gorgeous wedding cakes and I fell in love with this cake created by Cakegirls intended for a garden wedding. Their dainty confection is comprised of hexagonal tiers of lemon zest butter cake with layers of cappuccino mousse covered in soft ivory fondant. Handmade edible fondant flowers perch atop piped chocolate branches. Simple, sweet and sounds absolutely delicious!