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Thursday, July 31, 2008


To finish off the month I couldn't resist this little quiz about chocolate. I mean, who doesn't love chocolate!? Chocolate is also one of Natalie's favorite things to work with when baking her fabulous cakes. Mine too, actually! In fact, below is the results of my chocolate test. So try the quiz for yourself and then let us know--What kind of chocolate are you?

You are Milk Chocolate
A total dreamer, you spend most of your time with your head in the clouds.You often think of the future, and you are always working toward your ideal life.Also nostalgic, you rarely forget a meaningful moment... even those from long ago.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Vandiver Wedding

Some of you who have read the first few books have asked why the Vandiver wedding was canceled and what happened to the bride, Liz Vandiver, so…projecting into the future, here's the background and the rest of the story:

Liz Vandiver, child of extreme wealth, had grown up being told that Vandivers were perfect, they were entitled, they were different from everyone else, and she deserved the very best in life. So, when she decided to get married, she steered away from the wedding planners her friends had chosen and opted for The Wedding Belles (our heroines in the series).

This was, of course, a coup for the Belles, a chance to make their mark in the world and expand their business, but…Liz Vandiver proved to be a very difficult customer. She (the perfect, entitled one) became a total Bridezilla. She wanted what she wanted, and what she wanted changed on a daily, sometimes an hourly basis. Eventually, she grew bored with her decision to choose a local wedding planner and canceled out on the Belles. She didn't even bother telling them why she was canceling. She just dropped them. After all, money was no object to the Vandivers. Unlike more ordinary people, they could easily afford to lose a deposit, and who cared if the world wondered what the Belles had done wrong? Who cared if the Belles lost business because Liz Vandiver had dropped them? Certainly not Liz. She was too important to worry about mere mortals.

In the weeks and months that followed, the story of the Belles went on in The Wedding Planners series, but…what happened to Liz once she had dropped out of the story?

She becomes more Bridezilla-like. She wants more. She demands more. Her special day has to be perfect. She has to be the center of her guests' attention. Then she decides she has to be the center of the public's attention (why not? She's a Vandiver).

Liz looks for a more prestigious wedding planner and pushes the wedding back six months. But…some of her friends and colleagues end up signing with that wedding planner, making her day less special. So, she cancels again. She decides that the wedding has to be in Paris. She pushes the ceremony back another six months in order to effect the change. Her obsession with having the wedding of the century leads her to mistreat every wedding planner she encounters along the way.

Unfortunately, for Liz, all of this delaying and abuse begins to take its toll. Her fiancé takes a long, hard look at his bride-to-be and realizes that he is just a player in the Liz Vandiver wedding show. While he waits for Liz to make up her mind, he meets someone, a woman who cares about him not for his ability to accessorize the bride, but who loves him for himself. And then…he cancels on Liz. He drops her just as quickly as she had dropped the Belles.

Suddenly, Liz doesn't have to think about planning a wedding. She has no wedding to plan. Except…she does. In her fear and confusion and loss, she immediately gets caught up with another man, falls hard, marries him and almost just as quickly discovers that her new husband married her for her ability to accessorize him. He wants her money and her social standing, but he really isn't all that interested in Liz. A divorce follows.

Liz's world collapses. Suddenly, she's a laughing stock. She isn't perfect. She isn't sought after. Circumstances force her to face herself and what she sees isn't pretty. With nothing else to take up her time, she can't run away from her own shortcomings. She realizes that her ex-husband may have broken her heart and her trust, but he treated her no differently than she had been treating others all her life.

Thereafter, becoming a better person becomes the driving force in her life. She distances herself from the poisonous attitudes of her family and is disinherited.

Then, one day, five years after having treated the Belles so callously, she wanders into The Wedding Belles shop, intent on apologizing profusely. By now, she's visibly down on her luck, and the Belles take pity on her and agree to hire her as an assistant (because their business has grown so much). At first it's a painful experience for Liz, because some of the customers are former friends, and she has to dance attendance on the people she used to socialize with, but she digs in and does what has to be done. She's determined to be a credit to the Belles…and she is.

Eventually, she meets Stephen Chase, a nice and very ordinary man. She tries to resist falling for him, because she knows he must have heard lots of bad things about her (and she worries that he might still be looking for money she no longer has). But Stephen persists. He's interested in who Liz is now, not who she used to be, and he loves the woman she's become. They end up married with three children and very little money, but they are deliriously happy. The Belles, of course, plan the wedding (and foot the bill for a lot of it). Only this time they're planning a wedding for a friend.

And that's what (eventually) happens to Liz Vandiver.
Of course, none of this is in the Wedding Planner books (this is a bit futuristic, since I've written us five years into the days-yet-to-come), so it isn't written in stone. What do you think? Do you envision a different future for Liz? What would it be


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Groom's Cakes

Can I share a secret with you? My favorite type of cake to make is not the wedding cake itself. It’s the groom’s cake! To me, there is more opportunity to be creative with a groom’s cake because the sky is the limit. Whatever the groom’s interest, hobbies, tastes, or lifestyle is, I can create a cake to go with it. So I thought today, it would be fun to post some fun, creative cakes, all in honor of the man of our dreams—the groom!

Apparently this groom is a zoo keeper. Either that, or he and his bride do a lot of monkeying around!

Is your man a lawyer or in law school? This is the perfect cake for him.

Some folks take their favorite sports' teams very seriously.

Musicians will love this one. I've also seen drum and piano cakes. How fun is that?

How's your golf game? Eat your heart out, Tiger,

Even though he's a gambler, you'll always be his queen of hearts.

A groom's cake for the more intellectual man...
Mate and checkmate

I spared you the Elvis, the Home Depot, the armidillo, and the beer can, but believe me, they're out there! Many brides go for the more traditioinal, elegant offerings such as the one at the top of the post, so whatever your tastes, talk to your cake fairy. I'll bet she can fix you up!
Until later,
Natalie, the cake fairy


Monday, July 28, 2008

Natalie's back with Wedding Cake on a Budget

Okay, so you can’t afford to hire The Wedding Belles to plan your wedding. I completely relate! Being on a budget is a pain but a reality for many of us. Since the twins’ father died, leaving us with a pile of debt, I have great empathy for those on a tight budget. But you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here are some money saving ideas:

I do not advise baking your own cake. You have enough to do without that! Of course, if you really want to, you can always have a bridesmaid party and have them help you. Hmm. That might be fun. Imagine all the Belles getting together over Friday night poker to whip up a wedding cake. On second thought, maybe not. After a few margaritas, some of those girls get a little goofy.

But you could check around your area for individuals who bake cakes from their home. Many times these bakers do a lovely job at much less cost. I personally know such a baker and she does phenomenal work at an affordable price. She’s even helped me out in a pinch.

Another money save is to be sure and ask the right questions. Some bakers charge extra for delivery and setting up. With a Wedding Belles wedding, this is included, but not everyone has a planner to make those arrangements. So be sure to ask. This can substantially increase or decrease the price of your cake.

To save money on the cake topper, cake knife and toasting glass, you can borrow from a friend or family. You need “Something borrowed” anyway! Or if you want the keepsakes, list those items in your bridal shower registry.

You can also buy your own pretty plates, forks, and cups at a bridal or party stores. No one will die if you use pretty plastic. I promise.

Anyone else have any great ways to cut costs and still have a terrific wedding cake?

Before I go, I’ll leave you with one more pretty cake photo. I just love this. Don’t you?

Natalie, the cake fairy

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What's Coming Up This Week

The month is coming to an end and I'll be turning the blog over to Susan Meier on Friday. We'll have a visit this week from Myrna Mckenzie and Natalie, the cake fairy, as well as others, so be sure to stop in.

Remember to leave comments to be in the drawing for this month's prize, a $25 gift certificate to any online store of your choice.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed

The Wedding Belles' three-story townhouse in the heart of Boston was always a flurry of activity, but that Friday, the number of people and the noise level they created had hit new heights. Brides—accompanied by their attendants and clucking mothers—filled the offices and spilled into the hallways. The scent of chocolate cake wafted through the air. A rainbow of color flowed from gowns through flower arrangements and favors for the reception dinner tables. Sequins on white bride dresses and veils caught the morning sun pouring in through the windows and sent flashes of light through the foyer, into the corridors, up the stairs.
Audra Greene, accountant for Wedding Belles, worked her way through a gaggle of giggling bridesmaids, creating a rustle of satin and lace. She edged around the wedding party considering various shades of blue and the party trying on dresses in pinks and lavenders, smiling politely and saying, "Hello," and "Excuse me," on her way to her third-floor office.
Finally there, she closed the thick wooden door and leaned against it with a sigh.
The Belles' copper-haired, pixie-featured general assistant, Julie Montgomery, laughed. "It's a jungle out there."
Removing her navy blue coat, Audra strode to her antique desk. "How many weddings are they working on?"
"Let's see. The weddings for June of next year are in the initial planning stages. September brides are finalizing details."
"And April brides are panicking?" Audra hung her coat in the closet before she slid onto her tall-backed brown suede chair in front of the billowing yellow silk drapes that gave the room the rich, elegant feel that she loved.
Julie tilted her head, considering that. "The Belles like to think of it as maximizing last-minute opportunities." With a chuckle, she went back to inputting invoices into the computer to pay that month's bills.
Audra's chest tightened as she watched Julie. The as-sistant—and the Belles for that matter—had no reason to check into the most recent deposit in the business account and discover it was actually every cent of Audra's savings. Or that the estimated income taxes they'd sent in wouldn't cover this year's bill. Paying the difference would drain the Wedding Belles' coffers and they wouldn't have enough money for the wedding they'd promised to Julie. But Audra knew.
Still, she didn't immediately turn on her computer and begin writing the e-mail to the other Belles about their dire financial straits. She needed to tell them—this morning—before Julie's wedding plans went any further. But she couldn't do it in front of Julie.
"Julie, would you do me a favor?"
Always eager to please, Julie quickly glanced up. "Sure."
"I should have grabbed a bottle of water from the kitchen, but I have something I have to do right now. It can't wait—" Loath to ask the Belles' assistant to run this kind of personal errand, Audra had no choice. She needed a few minutes of privacy, and when Julie entered invoices for payment she shared Audra's office. "Could you get me a bottle of water?"
Julie sprang from her seat. "I can't believe you'd hesitate to ask me! I'm so indebted to you guys. I'd do anything for any of you."
At the gratitude and affection she heard in Julie's voice, Audra winced. "Please, you don't need to say that."
Julie smiled radiantly, her pretty blue eyes shining. "Are you nuts? That's like saying I shouldn't be grateful! There isn't enough gratitude in the world to show you how much I appreciate what you're doing for me."
Disappointment tightened Audra's chest, squeezing her heart. Julie was the kindest, most unselfish person Audra knew and life had treated her abysmally. The Belles weren't paying for her wedding because they were wonderful. They had made the decision because Julie was wonderful. Sweet. And she deserved the kindness. Audra felt as if she, personally, were the one letting her down. After all, she was the one in charge of finances.
At the office door, Julie turned with a smile. "I'll be back in a second."
Heartsick, Audra said, "Take your time."
Julie left the room, and Audra sank into her chair, turned on her computer and was about to begin composing the e-mail to the Belles explaining that they couldn't afford to pick up the tab for Julie's wedding. But with Julie's appreciation still hanging in the air, she couldn't do it. The words simply wouldn't come. The most she could write was a request for an emergency meeting in the conference room. She hit Send, then shifted over to a word-processing program to try to compose a few lines she could say in the meeting to tell the Belles they couldn't afford Julie's wedding.
Once again, she couldn't think of a way to soften the blow of having to break a promise. So, instead of typing on her keyboard, Audra reached for her phone and tapped out the numbers for her mother's cell phone.
"Are you busy?"
"Always," her mother said with a laugh. "But you never call me at work, so you must have a problem that's more important than the blueberry pies I'm baking."
"I do."
"What's up?"
Worried that Julie would return in the middle of her story, Audra said, "I don't have time to explain, but we're out of money."
Her mother gasped. "Wedding Belles is going bankrupt?"
"No, we have enough money to make it through the next few months if we're careful. The problem is we promised our assistant a wedding. If we give her the wedding we've been planning, we'll end up over our heads in debt. If we don't, we have to go back on our word."
"Oh, honey. That's terrible."
Audra glanced at the door. "I shouldn't have called. Julie's going to be back any second and I can't talk in front of her. But I feel awful and I don't know what to do. I can't even think of a way to explain our problem in an e-mail to the Belles. I'm a mess!"
"Wow, for you to admit you can't organize or plan yourself out of a situation, things must be bad. Dominic's gone," she said referring to Dominic Manelli, the youngest of the Manelli children, current CEO of Manelli Holdings, only resident of the family home and Mary Greene's employer. "Left as if his feet were on fire. So why don't you come over? I'll make coffee. We'll talk. Two heads are always better than one. Maybe together we could come up with something?"
The prospect of getting out of the office relieved some of Audra's stress. Even thinking about staying in the same room with Julie while she entered invoices and chatted happily about her wedding sent a dagger through Audra's heart. And her mother was smart. Analytical. That's where Audra had gotten her own logical thinking ability. Maybe together they could figure a solution to this problem? Or if nothing else, maybe they could find a way to soften the blow, not just for Julie, but for the Belles who would be devastated at not being able to keep their promise.
"I'll be over in about twenty minutes."
"I should have pie for you by then."
Audra laughed. Her mother always knew how to make her feel better. "Just make a crust and lots of chocolate pudding."
Her mother chuckled. "Should I have whipped topping?"
"Yes!" She sighed. "Thanks, Mom."
Audra hung up the phone and rose from her seat just as Julie entered the room. "Here's your water."
"Thanks." Audra set the bottle on her desk, then pulled her practical coat from the closet and shrugged into it. "I need to go out. I'll be gone for most of the morning. If anybody's looking for me, they can reach me on my cell."
Looking a bit perplexed, Julie said, "Okay."
Audra slipped out of the office. In the corridors and on the stairs, she once again battled brides, bridesmaids and sparkly gowns to get to the door and out into the fat fluffy flakes falling on Boston.
Traffic prevented her from making it to the Manelli estate in twenty minutes as she'd hoped. Almost forty minutes had passed before the guard at the gate let her onto the property. The heavy snow that had been falling steadily clung to the lush evergreens that lined the long lane and the bare branches of stately oaks in the front yard, making the Manelli estate a winter wonderland.
Audra drove around the circular driveway to the servants' entrance, and was surprised to find a pretty blue Mercedes parked in front of the kitchen door.
Getting out of her car, she noticed a man dipping into the backseat of the car. Dressed in a black suit and topcoat with a white scarf around his neck, he looked as if he could have stepped off the cover of a magazine. Except, when he pulled out of the car again, he was wrestling a baby, a diaper bag and a bottle.
The baby, a boy if the blue snowsuit was any indicator, wiggled out of the extra blanket wrapped around him. It landed in a puddle in the driveway. Then the bottle fell. Then the diaper bag. Even the baby slipped a bit.
"Damn it!"
Audra ran over. "Here," she said, stooping down to gather the soaked blanket, bottle and diaper bag.
Recognizing the voice, Audra snapped her gaze upward. "Dominic?"
He looked down. "Yes?"
Baby items in hand, she rose. She'd last seen Dominic Manelli when she was twelve, attending her final Manelli employee Christmas party with her mother. That would have been fourteen years ago. The teenage Dominic she remembered from her childhood had grown into a tall, lean man. His black hair was as short as he could possibly wear it, making his wide brown eyes his most prominent feature. His once boyish grin was now a sexy smile.
"It's me. Audra Greene. Mary's daughter."
"Oh, my goodness! Audra!" His gaze rippled from her blond hair, down her simple coat. "Wow. Look at you. All grown-up."
"Yep." She laughed, but having Dominic notice her as a woman made her tummy flip-flop. She'd had a monster crush on him most of her childhood. "Time didn't stop just because my mother wished it would."
Dominic chuckled, juggling the baby, who appeared to be about six months old. Wisps of yellow hair peeked out from the pale blue hood of a one-piece snowsuit. Curious blue eyes studied Audra.
"Whoever decided babies' winter wear should be made of slippery material needs to be shot." He jostled the baby again.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bridal Showers - Decorative Theme Ideas

There must be a billion different theme ideas for bridal showers, so if you’re doing the planning, it’s hard to narrow down to one great idea. For starters, think of your bride and groom, their personalities, favorite activities, colors, etc. and try to work a theme around that. For a jump start, try any of the following:

1. Tea Party Your setting can be indoors at a home, in a restaurant or hotel, or outside on a patio, in a park or an actual garden. Invitations could be in the shape of a pretty teapot. Any colors will work but the bride’s colors are a good choice. If you are doing the tea and food yourself, you’ll need pretty tea cups and plates, several flavors of brewed tea, and a selection of fingers foods such as tiny sandwiches, teapot shaped cookies, or bakery tea cakes. A lovely silver tea service is the perfect centerpiece. Ask your guests to dress accordingly, in dresses and hats, if they can. When the fun is over and the gifts unwrapped, send your guests home with a small packet of herbal tea as a party favor.

2. Pink Poker Party – I found this cute party idea online and since the Wedding Belles are known for their weekly poker games, I couldn’t resist including it. There are many ideas here and a video showing how to make a darling invitation on your computer. Pink is the word and everything, including the drinks which can be pink lemonade or pink martinis. Consider a shower cake like the one shown, only made in pink and decorated with playing cards, a pink and white chocolate cheesecake or any of the other recipes included at this great site: http://www.celebrations.com/article/ladies-only-pink-poker-party

3. Fiesta, Luau, or Asian garden party – Cultural themes are very popular and you can find all the info and paper decorations online or at your party store. All three can be set around a swimming pool if that’s available, or anywhere outdoors or indoors. An Asian party, especially would be fun and unique. Incorporate paper fans and lanterns and parasols as part of the decor, eat with chopsticks and serve sushi, mini egg rolls, fortune or almond cookies, or even Chinese carry-out. Small, colorful take-out boxes would make terrific favor containers.

4. Cowboy – Invite your guests with a cowboy boot design or even better, create ‘wanted poster’ invites for each of your guests. Use hay bales for seats, burlap for tablecloths or the country look of red and white checked. Decorate with anything western – photos of horses or cowboys, horseshoes, bandannas. Wanted posters of the bride and groom are especially fun and easy to make on your computer. Your food can be a full out barbecue or simple fare like pretzels, chocolates in the shape of hats and boots (available online from Oklahoma Chocolatier BedreChocolates.com), or have a cake or cookies in the shape of a wagon wheel or boot. Yee-hah!

5. Wine and Cheese Shower – Provide a variety of cheese and wines for guests to sample. Include the label beside each one. Party favors can be s wine glass. Invitations can be computer generated on Word with a wine glass art. Decorate with elegant flowers, lace table clothes, etc.

6. Music, Music, Music! – Plan your shower around a particular music theme. The 50’s are always fun but consider, too, the big band era, disco, the psychedelic 60’s or even a classical evening in fancy dress. Your taste, your choice!

Most of the showers I’ve attended have been simple cake and punch or finger food showers with decorations of wedding belles or photos of the bride and groom as kids. At one shower that stands out in my mind, the bride brought a large painting of her and the groom. She asked all the guests to sign the blank areas around the painting. Today that painting hangs in her home as a sweet reminder of a very special time.

So how about you? Have you seen any sentimental or unique things done at showers? Can you brainstorm any other cool theme ideas?

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Samoan Bridal Toss

I grew up listening to the songs from "South Pacific", especially the haunting tune of Bali Hi, so it's really fun for me to bring you a blog from that colorful, fascinating region of the world. Today our blog takes us to the exotic and romantic South Pacific island of Samoa, off the coast of New Zealand to listen in as Nicole reminisces about some of the fascinating wedding customs of her adopted culture. Unfortunately, the photos never arrived so I’ve substituted some generic pictures of Samoan weddings. Enjoy!

As a missionary to New Zealand, I wasn't too surprised when I met the man of my dreams on the mission field. Jarrett is a native of Samoa, one of the beautiful islands of the South Pacific. I am an All-American girl from the great state of Kentucky, so I guess our relationship has been anything but traditional. I was living in South Africa when we met, but I moved to New Zealand when I realized he was the man I was meant to marry.

We opted to get married in New Zealand, mainly because his family is very large. Jarrett has six siblings and I only have one. Transporting a handful of Kentuckians was by far the simplest solution.

As a little girl, I had planned and dreamed about the ‘perfect’ wedding day, but marrying a Samoan altered my pre-conceived ideas in a hurry!

The wedding ceremony itself was quite American--the church, the dress, the bridesmaids. When it came to the reception I originally wanted a small, intimate gathering, but nothing about a Samoan wedding celebration is small. So I relinquished my "wedding planning duties" to the groom’s family and let them do the reception their way.

I quickly became aware that invitations do not have to be sent for guests by the hundreds to line-up for a fully catered meal (complete with roasted pig). In America it is not kosher for someone to come to a formal wedding uninvited, but my wedding included over 300 uninvited guests! My new in-laws, of course, knew this would happen and were well prepared.
During a wedding ceremony, Samoans believe in honoring the bride and groom, not just once, but over and over again. There are dances and songs and other interesting traditions, including the ‘bride toss’. When the reception began I was hoisted into the air and bounced and bopped around while the family sang and cheered. After a wild ride, Jarrett's brothers came to my rescue and lowered me back to safety.

Later, Jarrett's aunt came out to honor us with a Samoan dance. She laid flat on the floor and began gyrating her body in ways I didn't realize were possible. I was informed that Jarrett and I were to take turns putting a foot on her back as a way to honor our wedding vows (I'm still not really sure what it all meant). I made it through the serenade without laughing or crying...but it wasn't easy.

Next, the groom and all the native Samoans changed out of their "church-appropriate clothes" and put on traditional Samoan clothing. My husband and the groomsman (all of Jarrett's brothers) dressed in something that looked like a sarong and danced for me (It was very sweet)...but they were jumping around like frogs and slapping the ground with their hands. I thoroughly enjoyed the dance but it was one of those moments where I thought, "This wouldn't happen in America...unless there was alcohol."

It is also customary for the Samoan bride (that would be me) to do a traditional dance for her new husband. So, the spotlight and all eyes fell on me and I fought through the embarrassment and did my best impersonation of a Samoan hula. Half-way through the dance my father is suppose to join me in the hula...but being the shy Kentuckian he is, he just couldn't do it. Later, I did get my dad on the dance floor, but it had no association to hula dancing. During our father-daughter dance, my dad and I interjected a little "Kentucky flare" as we cranked up an Alan Jackson tune. I was later told by my Samoan family that this was the highlight of the day!

When the time came to cut the 29 layer cake (Yes, really. twenty-nine layers), the Samoan custom is to first acknowledge family, pastors, and others who had played an instrumental
role in my and Jarrett's relationship. Each person was individually honored and then everyone at the wedding was served a pinky-size sliver of cake, not the big slices like we get in America. Even I was served the pinky sliver! Thank goodness we saved the top layer for our one year anniversary so I can finally get a bigger piece then.

When Samoans do a wedding, they never want to stop. Our wedding started at 10am and the festivities continued until around 11pm. The thirteen hour extravaganza was nothing I could have imagined or dreamed up as a child. It was far greater and certainly more unique.

After one year in New Zealand I'm still learning the culture and adapting to my newlywed life, but I'm more in love with my Samoan husband today than the day I said "I do". And I am happy to say I not only survived my Samoan-American wedding, I can truly say it was a day I will never forget!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When I Planned My Wedding...

Nearly two decades ago, when my husband first proposed, I had no idea how insane it was going to be to plan my wedding. For one--and the biggest reason it was insane--my husband-to-be was in the Navy (like Ben in the online read I wrote for eHarlequin) and he shipped out shortly after proposing. That meant the bulk of the planning was on my shoulders, with him pretty much unavailable for questions (in those days there was no e-mail, only good old snail mail). We tried to think of as many things as we could before he left, but there were about ten thousand things we didn't :-).

Still, we did pretty well. It wasn't until the very last days that things got kind of hairy. We were getting married on the naval base, and the day before the wedding, the captain of the base called and said he wanted the driver's license numbers and license plate numbers of every single guest coming to our wedding.


It would have been nice for him to tell me that back when we booked the base chapel, so that I could have asked for that info when I sent out invitations. Or even as I started receiving response cards. But the day BEFORE? We had lots of out of town guests who were already on the road (in the pre-cell-phone days) and no way of getting this info. Eventually, my dad, who was in the army, talked to the captain of the base, and we managed to get around the license plate/license thing.

Most everything went off without a hitch. The details that had seemed SO important for months and months of planning suddenly became moot points once I had that man I loved on my arm :-) and we were dancing to the band. Now, 18 years later, I can tell you the color of my bridesmaid's dresses but doubt I could name all the flowers in my bouquet or all the songs they played at the wedding. I just know we had a wonderful time and danced every second we could.

And I remember one thing...probably my favorite memory of the day. My husband, who isn't much of a singer, sang along to one of the slow songs, just murmuring the words in my ear (it was just so sweet), and then at the very last moment, dipped me, and kissed me. That moment was captured on video and on film. If I remember nothing else about my wedding, that's the minute I want to hold onto--him holding me tight and singing love songs just to me.

Now that's romance :-)


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Interview with Bride, Kristin

Bride: Kristin
Groom: Robert
Wedding Date: June 14

Before her wedding Nashville bride Kristin graciously shared her thoughts. Enjoy.

1. Did you decide to go with a big wedding or a smaller one? Why?
I guess you would call mine a pretty big wedding. Before I got engaged, I swore I wanted a small wedding with just close family and friends. However, I attended my sister’s fairly large wedding shortly before my engagement and my mind was quickly changed. I wanted the chance to be a princess for a day.

2. What has been the most difficult part of planning a wedding?
All the decisions!!! The hardest has been deciding who to invite and not to invite. You don’t want to hurt feelings, but it’s hard to invite EVERYONE.

3. What has been your favorite part of planning your wedding?
Picking out my dress. I feel so wonderful in it. I’m so sad I only get to wear it for one day!

4. How did you make this wedding celebration uniquely yours? (And unusual or interesting touches you chose to go with)?
My fiance and I are ballroom dancers, so we are having our reception in a ballroom with a live band. I’m making everything very classic, which is very much who I am.

5. How many attendants do you have? Describe the dresses you've chosen (or would like to choose).
I am having 5 attendants. Their dresses are celadon green. They are silhouette dresses, tea-length. Beautiful!

6. Any favorite songs you’d like the wedding band to play?
Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder
At Last by Etta James

7. If you could go anywhere you wanted to, describe your perfect honeymoon location.
We are lucky to get to go on our perfect honeymoon which is a Caribbean cruise. I can’t wait!!! We are going horseback riding on the beach, snorkeling, and dancing every night!!!

8. Have you received or requested any unique wedding gifts? What are they?
I’m pretty classic in my registry…I am thinking about a tent J

9. If a millionaire dropped by and offered to pay for the wedding of your dreams, what additions/changes would you make?
I would have my wedding at one of the cathedrals downtown (Nashville) and my reception at the Opryland Hotel. I would have Michael Buble be the entertainment.

10. Have you chosen any interesting/different places for wedding photos?
Not really. I want a lot of outside photos if the weather is right.

11. A wedding is a bride's opportunity to act out a fairy tale for a day. What stands out as the most special part of your wedding?
Since we are going to take our pictures before the wedding, my fiancé and I are going to meet in the church alone to see each other for the first time. I can’t wait for that moment! It will be a very emotional and wonderful time!

Thanks, Kristin. Congratulations to you and Robert. The Wedding Belles wish you a lifetime of joy in your new marriage. By the way, you look amazing in that dress!

(Today’s blog is being switched with Thursday’s blog while I await photos from the Samoan wedding. Sorry for any confusion.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Natalie, the Cake Fairy, stopping by

Hello everyone,

Natalie here again, talking about a sweet topic. Hee-hee. Pun intended.

But before we talk wedding cakes, let’s talk kids. Particularly my kids, Rose and Lily. Last week, they sneaked into the kitchen and made a mess but they were so proud of trying to help that I could barely scold. They both know the kitchen is serious business, though, so I hope that doesn’t happen again.

Now, let me catch you up on some of the odd goings-on around the offices of the Wedding Belles. Regina, my very close friend and the Belle’s photographer is glowing brighter than some of the shoes she wears. I mean, even brighter than she did when she and Dell realized what all of us knew anyway-that they were madly in love. I’m starting to get suspicious that something really, really important is going on.

Secondly, my boss and mentor, Belle is spending a lot more time with Charles Wiley than it takes to sell off an old car. She swears she could never love another man the way she loved her late husband, but Charlie’s a pretty nice guy and Belle is kind of glowing herself. Hmm. The love bug is sure busy around here. Glad I’ve been immunized!

Okay, now let’s talk cakes for just a minute while I’m waiting for a scrumptious Italian Crème to finish baking. (The twins are in their room playing restaurant. Guess which one owns the place?) One of my favorite things to do is cruise cake designers online. Do you ever do that? For brides who are on the look-out for that perfect wedding cake design, this is a great way to get ideas. Many cake fairies have photos of their work, along with the descriptions. Some even include price, a great help in making the right decision, because the cost per slice can run anywhere from $3.00 to $22.00 or more! No wonder the ‘average’ wedding costs $15,000.
Pink and brown are very hot wedding colors right now. Isn't this gorgeous? What colors did you or will you have at wedding?

Off to check my blood sugar.

Until next time, “Let them eat cake!”

Natalie, the cake fairy

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What's Coming Up This Week

Prize of the month - Every comment is an additional chance to win a $25 gift card to the online store of your choice!

Monday – Stop in for more cake tips and gossip from Natalie, the cake fairy.

Tuesday – An American bride, a New Zealand groom. Don’t miss some hilarious wedding customs from our friends down under.

Wednesday – New York Times Bestseller and all around funny lady Shirley Jump, author of “Sweetheart Lost and Found” blogs.

Thursday – A Nashville Bride blogs and shares photos.

Friday – Linda Goodnight, author of “Winning the Single Mom’s Heart”, (available right now) drops in with more ideas for throwing a great wedding shower.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wedding Movies

I've been on a movie watching binge lately. Unfortunately not all the DVDs I've rented have lived up to my expectations which means I'm picking the wrong movies. I started thinking about what kind of movies might give me the happily ever after endings I'm seeking and the answer seemed obvious...movies about weddings!

Here's the list I came up with along with movie trailers for those I could find so I could see what wedding movie I might want to watch next:

1. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

2. Wedding Crashers

3. Runaway Bride

4. My Best Friend's Wedding

5. American Wedding

6. Father of the Bride

7. The Wedding Singer

8. 27 Dresses

9. The Wedding Planner

10. Four Weddings and a Funeral

11. Made of Honor

12. License to Wed

13. The Best Man

14. The Wedding Date

15. Mamma Mia! (In theaters this summer)

Are there any movies on that list you've seen or might want to see?

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wedding Flowers on a Budget from Tori

Tori Shelton is a talented homeschool Mom whose side business is wedding flowers. Her specialty is making gorgeous arrangements for brides on a budget. Listen in to some great ideas:

Wedding flowers are, in my opinion, one of the most creative ways to express yourself in your matrimony planning.

Maybe you’re simple and elegant, and dream of clean lines and pure white calla lilies. Maybe you’re colorful in actions and in words, and have a preference for loud, bold displays of many textures of poppies, hydrangeas, and berries. Maybe you’re classic, and have always hoped for a beautiful blushing bouquet of red roses. Maybe you’re perfectly sweet, and you dream of that ideal mixture of peonies simply because their meaning is “happy marriage”.

Whoever you are, being a bride allows you the opportunity to express that beauty in the display of your own unique arrangements of flowers. “Unique” sometimes sparks the thought of “expensive”, although it doesn’t always have to. There are many ways to make your wedding flowers all yours without breaking the bank.

✿ After accumulating several ideas, decide what’s most important: always allow for your favorite flower, even if only in small quantities.

✿ Visit your local florist, but don’t be discouraged by price. Sometimes, they can assist you in figuring out what is in season and what can be substituted for your wedding day, which will save you immensely.

✿ After precisely deciding what you want, it is often very much worth the trip to visit your local farmer’s market to contact the florist there. Most of the time, it will cut your cost at least in half.

✿ Go by referrals. If a friend raves about a florist, at least give them a shot. Take your budget, and be clear about what you can spend… then allow the florist to do what they do best… and often, together, you can create arrangements that both fit your budget and live up to your expectations!

✿ Add something to your bouquet. It doesn’t have to be costly, just special. If your personality allows, maybe you could add feathers or twigs. Polka dot ribbon adds character to a bouquet, and doesn’t spike the budget. A bride I knew recently added a small picture of her mother to her bouquet. Although it only cost her a few more dollars, it was priceless that she had a reminder of her mother, who had passed away two years earlier, with her on her wedding day. She made her bouquet uniquely hers.

✿ Remember that small pops of color and variation of flowers add dimension, and texture. And, monochromatic bouquets speak loudly when in contrast to a dress. Bouquets of simplicity sometimes make the most impact, and cost the least.

The most important thing for all brides to remember, is to enjoy the planning and preparation. Spend evenings with your mother or your best friends finding pictures of those perfect flowers. Make memories, be yourself, and give purpose to all you do. A wedding is a grand event, but it’s also so much more. It is the beginning of a marriage… and that, is even more beautiful than any floral arrangement known to man.

Now it's your turn: What is your favorite flower? Tell about your bouquet? Did you do anything special or have you seen some unique use of flowers at a wedding?

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Quality-Time Engagement...

Am I going crazy? I’ve been wondering lately. My fiancé, Matt, is the absolute man of my dreams. I’ve never known a man like him, so deeply responsible, so caring and always determined to do the right thing by others. I love him so much it hurts, and have since the day I literally fell at his feet –
And he loves me the same way. At least, I think he loves me the same way. We fell in love so fast, and were engaged so soon, I thought I'd found a miracle: that a wonderful, handsome, caring man like Matt truly loved me…me, plain, red-haired Julie Montgomery, who in no way fits into his socialite world…
But then his father died, the family business went on the rocks – and he had to save 400 jobs. Of course he did. He’s making something he hopes will revolutionize the boating industry – he’s a marine engineer, but really, is more of an inventor. It’s some sort of water converter for boating engines, I think – he kept it a secret even from me, in case of competitors. He’s had to work really long hours on it, early morning to late at night. I understand it, I really do. But since it was patented and was a success, pulling McLachlan Marine Industries our of the red, and the media took an interest, he’s still working the same hours. He comes to see me, of course, and it’s always wonderful while it lasts…but when I only see him for an hour, and then nothing but the occasional phone call or a fly-by visit for days, and he keeps promising, I'll make it up to you…
I guess the simple truth is, I'm beginning to wonder if he ever truly loved me at all.
And now my darling friends at The Wedding Belles are taking turns finding men of their own to love, and spending their time with them as I do - did - with Matt, when we fell in love. It's only natural, and I’m so happy for them; but I guess the only way to put it is, I’m feeling lost.
It wouldn’t be so hard if all my family wasn’t 10,000 miles away in Australia. I wouldn’t be feeling so lonely, or crying myself to sleep at night, if just sometimes, he would not thank me for being so understanding as he has to go back to work or to a press conference; if he’d just look at me, and know I’m not always as strong as he thinks, and hold me…
But how can I tell him, when he’s being so selfless? How do I say to him, Matt, please look at me and see I’m trying not to cry? Please stay with me, just this once? Matt, I feel so alone, without family or even friends now, and I need you? I can’t say it. I just can’t.
Especially when he’s throwing me the Engagement Party of the Season in two weeks.
I just wish the media wasn’t taking such an interest in me. As if I didn’t already feel unworthy of my wonderful man – now I have to be gentle and gracious and dignified, all the things I’m not. I’m kind of a free spirit, you know? And Matt loves – loved – that in me.
I hope he meant what he said: that he’ll have more time for me soon. After the engagement party. Is it so wrong to want him to put me first, just once in a while?

Julie, general assistant at The Wedding Belles

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Bachelorette Party

It was two days before my close friend, Kristen's wedding..... and it was time for the Bridesmaids to throw the Bachelorette a party she wouldn't soon forget! The meeting spot--the Target parking lot. The mission--to give a big farewell party to Kristen's single days! As we gathered in the parking lot Kristen was getting a little concerned because two of the bridesmaids were late for the party. But what she didn't know is that the bridesmaids had a surprise for her. A few minutes later a stretch limo came driving through the parking lot and the two "late" bridesmaids jumped out of the limo and ambushed Kristen . We placed a princess sash and tiara on the bride and the seven of us piled into the "diva" decorated-limousine, complete with boas. All the single-bridesmaids (one of whom would be me) wore gargantuan, matching, costume wedding diamond rings (in Bridal party style). The limo was packed with champagne and long-stem glasses, as well as chocolate-covered strawberries and we all gave a toast to the bride (I, in t-totaler fashion, chose water for my toast)! Glammed up and ready to party, our first stop was the Spaghetti Factory in downtown Nashville. We enjoyed a great dinner and, of course, we got the "scoop" on all the wedding details. Kristen shared her favorite and least favorite qualities about the groom....and the married women were quick to give Kristen some honeymoon tips (and, for your sake, I'll leave those out of this G-rated blog) :))! After a wonderful dinner, the limo driver escorted us through downtown Nashville and we stopped at the Parthenon (some big Greek historical building) to take some group photos. As we got out of the limousine onlookers wanted to know who we were. I must add--we all did look famous!! I was tempted to say--"the Dixie Chicks"--but refrained. :) The bride is a professional ballroom dance instructor and an incredible singer, so we felt the best way to complete this party was in Nashville's historic Printers Alley at Kelli's Karaoke. The club was not really hopping, until---well, we came in! The DJ at the karaoke club was quick to get the bride and bridal party up on the stage to sing "Like a Virgin"! It wasn't long after we showed up until the karaoke club was booming with business! Though we were having tons of fun, all the bridesmaids were looking at our watches because it was past 10pm and we had only rented the limo until 10 O'clock (life is never perfect)! So, we ended our party at Kelli's Karaoke and used our womanly powers to get the limo driver to give us a little extra time. It worked.... we spent the remaining time in the limo reminiscing memories of Kristen's single days, finishing off the chocolate covered strawberries (can't let good chocolate go to waste), and singing at the top or our lungs. Just a girls will be girls, all brides need a bachelorette party......and I must say this one was a lot of fun!

Okay, everyone, time to confess. Have you attended a bachelorette party? If so, where did you go? What did you do?


Monday, July 14, 2008


The winner of Liz Fielding's blog prize, drawn from the comments on that day, is Robyni! Robyni, please email me with your contact info so I can pass it along to Liz. linda@lindagoodnight.com


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Rose and Lily, The Twins, Stop By with Mouse Cake

Shh. Mommy’s taking a nap. Her blood sugar went crazy again. That’s why my sister, Lily and I are here today. My name is Rose. Rose Isabella Thompson. Mom says my entire name a lot. She must really like it. Maybe better than Lily Alexandra. She doesn’t say it as much.

Anyway, Mom wanted to blog real bad today. She’s says it’s good promo, whatever that is, for the Wedding Belles. That’s where Mom works. The Wedding Belles. She’s a cake fairy, you know. She makes the best cakes in the universe and people come from all over Boston to buy them. She works real hard since Daddy died. That’s why Lily and me are going to help her today. But don’t wake her. It’s a surprise.

I think my mom has a new boyfriend. I don’t like him. He’s trying to take my daddy’s place. Mom says he’s not a boyfriend, but I’m eight years old. I know about that kissy stuff. Yuck! Lily likes him, too, but she’s just a dumb kid. She’s a whole five minutes younger than me! Mom’s boyfriend is Doctor Cooper Sullivan. He knew my daddy. I have this puppy named, well, Puppy, but he’s invisible, see. And he’s going to bite Dr. Cooper Sullivan if he doesn’t stop coming over here.

Okay, sorry. I have to get busy. Lily gets nervous when we work in Mom’s kitchen, so I have to take charge. Mom left this chocolate mousse cake recipe out on the counter. Lily says it’s weird to put a mouse in a cake. I guess it’s a surprise for the bride when it pops out, but I don’t know where to get a mouse. Except I have a toy one. I’ll put that in with the eggs and sugar.

What do you think? Isn’t beautiful? Won’t Mom be surprised?

Rose Isabella Thompson

PS Last week Mommy forgot to post the goth cake. She couldn’t find the picture. I know why, but I’m not telling.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What's Coming Up This Week

REMEMBER THIS MONTH'S PRIZE: Leave a comment for a chance at a $25 gift certificate to any online store.

Monday – A visit from Natalie’s dynamic duo, Lily and Rose. Don’t miss what they’ve been up to while Mom was not looking….

Tuesday – Hear about a good time at a bachelorette party and share your own night on the town experiences

Wednesday – Melissa James, author of book 6, “The Bridegroom’s Secret” blogs.

Thursday – Come and hear expert advice about “flowers on a budget”.

Friday – Our other Melissa (McClone), author of book 3, “SOS, Marry Me” blogs.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wedding Gifts that Make a Difference

So often when couples get married, the bride and groom have already been out on their own for awhile. They have the dishes, the sheets, the towels, the salad spinner. Sometimes they have two sets of those items. Yet, guests expect to give a wedding gift to show their love and appreciation for the couple.

As a result, some couples are finding innovative ways to incorporate traditional gift giving with charitable donations, either by enclosing cards in their invitations asking guests to donate to their favorite (or the bride and groom's favorite) charity or by setting up a charitable guest registry. Sites such as www.changingthepresent.org, www.heifer.org, www.justgive.org and www.idofoundation.org make it easy to do just that.

Of course, some couples, even couples who may have been living on their own, really do need toasters, dishes and sheets. Various companies have gotten on board. Amazon, JC Penney, Target and Linens & Things (to name just a few) will donate a percentage of purchases to charity.
But it doesn't stop there. Some other ways couples are injecting philanthropy into their special day include: donating leftover food to soup kitchens, donating the bride's gown to either be sold for charity or donated to another needy bride, giving to charity in honor of guests and/or attendants in lieu of the traditional table favors or attendant gifts (some charities provide cards or scrolls for such purposes), planning to make their wedding more eco-friendly or by planning a honeymoon that involves volunteering for a cause.

Obviously, this is a "to each his own" proposition, one that wouldn't work for everyone, but I find the creative ways people come up with to expand their wedding day to "a wedding day plus something more" incredibly interesting.

Have you attended such a wedding or heard of other ways people have incorporated giving into their ceremony or reception?

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