Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bachelorette Bash on a Budget...How to Have Fun without Breaking the Bank

Best friend getting married to the love of her life…check. Beautiful bridesmaid gown that flatters your figure…check. Love spilling over for your friend and her soon-to-be perfect life…check. Wanting to show her that love by volunteering to throw the bachelorette party…check. Unlimited budget to throw the party of a lifetime…uncheck…uh-oh. Ladies, we have a problem! Dreams of a Las Vegas style soiree may be crushed as you realize the guests list is 20 people long, you have not received that promised raise and, to top it off, you live nowhere near Las Vegas or any town that remotely could act as a stand-in. What should you do? This is the time to channel you inner Martha Stewart and give that friend the party she deserves without busting the bank, taking up a whole weekend or having to hop on a plane. Here are some quick and budget friendly DIY and local hot spot tips to planning the perfect bachelorette bash on a budget…

Dinner: Rather than springing for a catered meal or a “fancy” dinner, ask your friend where she would like to go to celebrate. Recently, when I took on the task on planning a bachelorette party, I made it priority to remember my friend’s desire, which turned out to be for us to all go to her favorite local restaurant rather than worry about getting a reservation at a more upscale place. I did call ahead to inform them how many were coming and that it was a special occasion and also let each girl (except for the bride, of course) know their dinner would be there responsibility but dessert was on me! Former restaurant owner Amy Skills agrees with this low maintenance approach to dinner, “As an owner or manager you are willing to accommodate requests when you are aware that it is a special event. It is special for us too; we want to help you make memories!”

Transportation: Remember, this is not just another girl’s night out so make is extra special by hiring a driver or reserving a limousine for the night. Wes May, Owner of Platinum Limousine ( suggests chatting with the prospective company to make sure they have the type of services you are looking for. “We offer Lincoln Town Car Sedans, Stretch Lincoln Town Car Limousines (8 & 10 Passengers) and Stretch SUV Limousines (14 Passengers) as options for a night out. We encourage customer to “check out” the vehicles before deciding which best suits their needs. A smaller party may prefer the more intimate setting of a Town Car while a larger party may prefer the luxury and space of a stretch limo,” Wes also suggests checking the company’s credentials before signing on for a night of fun. “We are fully licensed and insured in and out of state, where as not all companies are. We are also USDOT regulated and are also Permitted by the City of Wilmington, NC. This means that a bachelorette party could start in Wilmington, travel to Myrtle Beach for dinner and then end up in Charleston for after dinner drinks!” Reserving a car or limousine can add an extra touch to the party and is reasonably priced for the services included.

Dessert: Keeping my friend’s love of chocolate in mind, I recently decided to let each guest make their own brownie sundae and keep the sundae glass as an added bonus. Turning my kitchen table into a good old fashioned dessert bar was a hit complete with three different flavors of ice cream, chopped nuts, multiple syrups, sprinkles and of course a hug platter of heart shaped fudge brownies. There is nothing like a pile of chocolate to bring a group of women closer together! If invading your own home with the likes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is not your idea of a good time, try contacting local bakeries or chocolate shops to set up a group lesson. Specialty shops such as Cupcake located in Charleston, Mt. Pleasant and Columbia, SC and Hot Pink Cake Stand in Wilmington, NC offer party packages that allow you to both make and eat a fun creation! Best of all, making your own dessert serves the dual purposes of appeasing your sweet tooth and creating great picture taking moments.

Activities: Planning activities for a bachelorette party on a budget will greatly depend on the personality of the bride and the guests. For some brides a night of dancing and JELLO shots is the perfect idea; however, remember that cocktails can range from $5+ per drink…not the more budget friendly option. As an alternative, invite the guests over for a make-your-own cocktail glass party and ask each to bring the ingredients to make their favorite drink and bring enough to share. Provide martini glasses, gem stones, glitter and glass paint to create a great activity and a memorable souvenir.For a more low-key approach consider a pedicure party at home or talk to a local spa about taking over their pedicure area for some girl time. Most spas and salons are more than happy to arrange a group rate and will often offer complimentary snacks and wine as well.Have a flashback party! Remember those days of Truth or Dare, Twister and all night movie gorges? Well, just because you are now an adult does not mean that daring your best pal to run around the neighborhood in her underwear will not still be fun! Invite guests over for a night of make-your-own pizzas and bedazzled t-shirts and be sure to document the experience with a video camera for more late night laughs.

Decorations: When it comes to decorating for a bachelorette party there are no rules! Décor can set the mood for any event so keep in mind that if you decide to cover your bride with giant blinking parts of the male anatomy then you are probably in for a wild night and a full day of cleaning up! Be sure to check with the bride before going too over the edge as some choices may make her or other guests (which are her friends) feel uncomfortable or left out. For a more “sweet” approach, consider the Steel Magnolias think of pink, pink and pink by covering the space in varying shades of the color. From cups, to sashes to, to banners nothing says love is in the air quite like the color pink.

Favors: As I mentioned before there is no better favor than one you made yourself or one that was made with friends! Most crafts stores, such as A.C. Moore and Michael’s, carry a wide assortment of unfinished photo frames, trinket boxes, signs and more. Personalize the favors by adding the date with a paint pen and including a token from the night such as a group picture for a frame or a movie stub for a trinket box. Try your hand at the business of pampering by purchasing the supplies for each guest to make their own lotion or bath gel and add a special twist by naming the concoction after the bride…such as Shelley’s Sumptuous Bath Salts. Easy recipes for bath products can be found online. To top it off, place the product in a small glass bottle complete with a personalized tag and ribbon.

When it comes to throwing a bachelorette party, or any party for that matter, on a budget you really only need a little creativity, possibly some hot glue and glitter and a ton of well wishes. While planning for your friends remember to keep their personalities in mind and feel free to ask them their opinion along the way. We all know that a happy bride makes for a happy party and that, ladies, is priceless no matter what your budget is!

For more information on the business mentioned in the article please visit:Platinum Limousine at:

Cupcake at:

A.C. Moore at:

Michael’s, The Arts and Crafts Store at:

*Special thanks to Wes May of Platinum Limousines for the information concerning safe limo transportation (picture top right).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Bridesmaid...A Friend First and Foremost

Every girl knows it is an honor to be a bridesmaid. The matching dresses, the flowers, the chance to walk down the aisle as one of the chosen-this is an important role. Even as a child you feel the weight and great importance of the first wedding experience as a flower girl. Gracefully you drop petals upon the church aisle all the while knowing you are the preamble to a beautiful goddess in white. As an adult you are thrilled to have a close friend tying the knot with Mr. Right and even more excited to be a special part of her Big Day. You attend the first dress hunt as it is your duty to offer your honest yet careful opinion; you begin a fitness routine with the bride because strapless is a must and even agree to throw the bachelorette party although that means dealing with a horde pink decorations strewn all over your house after a night of mischief. These are your chores, your assignments to ensure a happy bride and an even happier friendship. You are honored, excited and motivated to be the best bridesmaid that ever tried on a teal dress! You are honored, excited and motivated that is, until you learn that the dress your best bud has picked out is not only more than your rent, but is also oddly reminiscent of Great Aunt Mary’s kitchen wallpaper. The shoes, which you vehemently agreed were “simply lovely” add up to a month’s worth of groceries and the chosen salon is located in a chic area of town that makes Rodeo Drive look like a superstore parking lot. Suddenly, this honor becomes an undertaking that seriously threatens to wipe out your 401K, make you look like a kitchen wall from 1972 and create a fear of walking because God forbid you damage the bright yellow stilettos that match the God forsaken dress. Slowly a resentment as big as the bow on the back of the million dollar frock develops for the friend you once adored. How can you make this work? Could you skip eating for a month or sell all your furniture? What if you decided that up-do’s are against your religion and you must settle for a simple blow-out. Or, against every fiber of your being and your upbringing, could you politely inform your friend that you just cannot financially make it work?

Whether we like to admit it or not, most women have faced a similar situation. Bound by a love that only a flowered dress could destroy, we strive to be the reliable friend, the girl that comes through in a pinch and the bridesmaid that will go down in history. The truth is, however, that often times a bride is so wrapped up in choosing a cake flavor that bridesmaid costs are the last thing on her mind. And although you are clearly special to her, do not count on being spared the hideous price. A bride wants what she wants and any attempt to sway her decision may result in a meltdown the size of Texas. Rather than going the “That dress is ridiculous” route, try a more gentle approach. This girl is your friend first and foremost; try not to forget that. There once was a time when you and she talked about life’s little up and downs rather than her new mother-in-law’s split personality. Remember those days? Attempt to get back to that place with her; take her to dinner or go on a long walk. Find the friend that you so dearly love and then try out the best motto known to the human race: honesty is the best policy.
Seated over a couple sparkling cocktails give your friend what she deserves to know and what you need to say in order to still be able to retire before you are 100…the truth. Although you may be looking for a magic bullet to avoid actually having the awkward “I cannot afford it” conversation, the best way to appeal to your once sane friend is to simply spill the beans. Difficult as it may be at first, a true friend will understand your dilemma and let you off the hook. To help ease the blow offer to help out in other ways such as assisting with the guestbook, passing out programs or even ensuring that the groom actually wakes up on the wedding day. Disappointed as she may be, a dear friend will appreciate your efforts to remain a vital part of her most special day and will eventually grow to admire your honesty.

Charming as this scenario may be once all is said and done, it is important to remember that along with honesty, timing is also an important piece of the puzzle. Remember the bride is counting on you to complete her vision of the perfect wedding so delaying the delivery of bad news will only place undue stress on an already overworked friend. Exercise the rule of carpe diem when approaching the sensitive subject to avoid an unnecessary blowout with a friend and remember to state your gratefulness for the invitation as many times as you can possibly muster. In a perfect world I would love to tell you that is a foolproof plan, but as we all know, this world is not perfect and brides are typically not firing on all cylinders. Keep in mind that the preservation of a good friendship is the ultimate goal and that even if you are have to participate by folding 200 tissues into roses at least you can wear a solid color dress and not end up living with your parents again.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Thank you! Grazie! Mahalo! Gracias!

It was a sensational day. The flower girl did not cry and actually dropped petals instead of throwing them, the groomsmen showed up without mohawks and the top tier of your cake is safely wrapped and tucked away in your freezer. You sit dreamily in the warm tropical sand of your honeymoon destination and think to yourself, “Whew, I’m done!”

As a wave of relief slowly washes over you, a strange nagging thought begins to tug at the edges of your conscious. It seems to be reminding you that there is one very important task left to complete before you can completely settle in to married bliss. But what could it be? You slowly peruse your mind for a clue to this unfinished business… Could it be the caterer? No, your wedding planner gave them their final payment. Did you forget to say goodbye to someone? No, you specifically remember a teary farewell to your father; in fact you still have the clutch marks on your wrists. Do you still have gifts to open?

That is when it hits you. Gifts, the people that so lovingly gave them and the all important task that lies before you-Thank You Notes.

Although it may seem a simple thing, the art of the thank you note is one that should remain in place for all time. Thinking about tackling this may seem as daunting as facing your Great Aunt Rita (who has a tendency to pinch), but the rewards far out weigh the work. Ancient Roman philosopher, Cicero, said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” It is one thing to feel genuine gratitude towards those that showered you and your new spouse with gifts, but another to physically take the time to thank them. Showing your thankfulness not only reminds the giver why they love you in the first place, but also sets you up to avoid awkward situations in the future. Of course first and foremost the most important aspect is to express gratitude; however, remember that these people will more than likely be in your life for years to come and it is important to let them know how much you appreciate their kindness (even if you never actually asked for mustard yellow monogrammed towels).

As a child I can specifically remember my mother’s prodding words, “Say thank you!” as I received anything from a birthday gift to the opportunity to babysit a neighbor’s child. Gratefulness, as defined by, is derived from the word pleasing meaning that someone during the transaction of giving or receiving was pleased by the exchange. Now, typically, I would think of this through the eyes of the receiver and in most cases this would apply. However, let us go back to those mustard yellow towels. You are most certainly not grateful for this gift and you certainly have no intentions of ever removing them from your linen closet. Rather than writing a thank you note, your first inclination may be to actually write a what-were-you-thinking note! But, think of the sentiment behind the gift rather than the gift itself. The person that gave you the towels thought of you, is grateful for you and wanted to wish you well in your new life. As you sit down to write your note, keep those feelings in mind and remember that you are not just thanking them for their gift, but for the act of giving itself.

Starting off a marriage with an attitude of thankfulness is an excellent way to ensure a lifetime of grateful feelings.So say thank you, grazie, merci, gracias, takk, todo or mahalo. Any way you choose to say it be sure that it will warm the heart of the person it is intended for and in turn warm yours as well.