Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Inn at Hudson Gardens

One of my jobs in college was catering at the University Club. It's where I first realized my love of events! After college I found a full time job but continued to cater on the side for a Denver based company. I got to work a variety of events in venues throughout the Denver metro area and earn additional income!

When we settled on Colorado for our wedding (although I'm not sure there was ever an actual discussion) I had some really good ideas of where I'd like it to take place. We love the great outdoors, specifically the mountains, but I knew logistically with lots of out of town guest that would be tricky. I also knew, thanks to my catering days, there are tons of gorgeous outdoor venues in the Denver area.

From the beginning of the search my first choice was Hudson Gardens. I love the beautiful, well maintained gardens and that there are three unique reception and ceremony sites to choose from. I looked online at several other venues as well, but in my mind, I kept picturing our wedding at Hudson Gardens.

Over Memorial Day weekend we made a trip to Colorado for our friends Sara and Andy's wedding. We made the most of our time by also celebrating our engagement, spending time with friends and family, and venue shopping! We only visited two venues, the second being Hudson Gardens. When my mom and B liked it, I knew we were sold!

Of the three sites at Hudson Gardens, we chose the Inn, which is a historic log cabin nestled within the gardens.
{Charlotte Geary}

Our ceremony will take place behind the Inn, as seen below, in the backyard. I've always been drawn to the backyard weddings shared on blogs, so it seems extremely fitting to be married there! I also laugh when I picture Steve Martin's "backyard" vision from Father of the Bride. It won't be that kind of a backyard wedding!
{Hudson Gardens}

 Here's a peek inside the Inn where the reception will take place. I love high wood beams and the white lights. A huge perk to Hudson Gardens is that all tables and chairs are included in the cost of the venue. Another perk is the option to hire a cater from an extensive catering list and bring in our own alcohol (potential for huge cost savings on both items!). 

{Andrew&Jessica Photographers}

We picked the Inn based on its charm, but another plus is the option to hold the ceremony inside if there is inclement weather (it is Colorado, after all). If it does happen to rain, we can simply set up indoors and still have a completely charming ceremony much like this wedding

{Andrew & Jessica Photographers}

It makes me happy to know that we'll still have the Colorado rustic feel, with easier to manage logistics of being in the Denver area! Now I can start envisioning and planning all the lovely details for the Inn and backyard (hooray!).

Engaged? Check!
Photographer? Check!
Venue? Check!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Greetings from San Diego!

{All Posters}

I'm here in San Diego for a work conference, but came a few days early with B to enjoy the sites, sunshine and sea! Over the weekend we soaked up as much sun as we possibly could (with SPF, of course). We had a great weekend exploring the city, going to a Padres game and some beach time on Coranado Island. I've decided San Diego is a slice of heaven!

B headed back to the bay this morning and it's on to business for me too. This conference has been a big project over the last few months. I'm so exited to see it all come together and I'll also be releaved to cross it off the list. I hope to have more opportunities to plan big events like this, but until the next work event I hope to focus on another special event...our wedding!

Although I haven't been blogging lately, I have been busy with wedding plans. I have several updates to share, so get ready :)

XOXO from the beach my hotel room.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Betty Boop Bars

Prior to the Cotton's wedding we attended a backyard BBQ at their home. I offered to bring something and was assigned a sweet treat. Baking is not my strongest suit, so I went to the tried and true online cookbook of Smitten Kitchen

I was planning to make brownies but the description of the Hello Dolly Bars caught my attention: These are sticky, gooey and both chewy and crunchy and seriously, intensely sweet, but you won’t mind, especially when you find out they take 30 minutes to make. If the description and hands-on time didn't catch your attention, perhaps the photo will. 

Smitten Kitchen
I decided to give the bars a whirl and am happy to report they are just as delicious as their description!
When we arrived at the BBQ I was sharing with other guests what I'd brought. When I called them Hello Dolly bars and gave a brief description of their ingredients I started hearing "Oh yeah, Magic Bars...7 Layer Bars...etc". I've never known a dessert to go by so many names! 

Towards the end of the evening one of the guests asked me if there were any more of the Betty Boop Bars. When I first tried the bars I knew I'd make them again. When I heard that final name, I laughed and knew that's what I'd call my version: Betty Boop Bars.

Betty Boop Bars

 Adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Hello Dolly Bars recipe
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, cut into large pieces
3 cups graham crackers crumbs (approximately 20 graham crackers, pulsed in the magic bullet)
  1 bag (approximately 3 cups) chocolate chips
1 bag butterscotch chips
  2 cup shredded coconut
2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (small can)

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt butter in microwave until just melted when stirred. Add graham cracker crumbs. Mix and then press evenly into the bottom of a baking pan. (I used a large rectangular glass baking dish.)
- Layer coconut, pecans, butterscotch and chocolate chips on top of graham cracker base. Pour sweetened condensed milk over whole mixture.
- Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is light brown.


Debbie & Jeremy's Wedding

While the world was enthralled with the Royal nuptials across the pond, a very busy bee was wrapping up her own wedding details in California. On Saturday, April 30 Debbie and Jeremy tied the knot in front of 450 of their closest family and friends in Turlock, California.

Leading up to the wedding I kept telling people how excited I was for the Cotton wedding. Maybe because it was the first of this year's wedding season, or now that I'm engaged weddings are that much more exciting; but I think it was because I knew firsthand all the time, energy and creativity Debbie had put into making this day amazing!
The Cotton's ~ April 30, 2011
Turlock, California

Highlights and my favorite details:

Although it may be a little hard to see from the photos above, Debbie wore a gorgeous strapless gown. For the ceremony at the church, she had a lace bolero made (as seen in photo on the left). It was so classy and coming the day after the Royal Wedding, its like she knew lace sleeves were the next big thing!

Classic white Adirondack chairs, with button monogrammed d & j pillows, greeted guests as they arrived at the reception. If you look carefully at the flower pot you'll see the ampersand, sweetly tying the whole thing together. The chairs reside in the couples backyard!

In honor of the groom's favorite hobbie, the guest book was custom surfboard! Guests were invited to sign their names in the white space around their custom logo. See the completed surfboard here, which will now hang in the couple's home.

This charming chalkboard sign pointed guests in the right direction to dinner. I especially loved the flower arrangement in the bucket at the base of the sign. See how they were made here.

Throughout the reception there were gorgeous flowers everywhere. Below are a few of the different arrangements, with the bottom arrangement being the highlight. These lanterns were made by Debbie's talented brother. Take a closer peak to be further impressed with his handiwork (clearly craftiness runs in the family!). I loved how the flowers spilled out of the sides of the lantern.
{click to enlarge}

When it came time for toasts, we were handed a glass of champagne complete with floating blueberries!

In addition to making all of the centerpiece lanterns, Debbie's handy and thoughtful brother surprised them with this heart shaped sculpture with their initials. This sculpture will be placed in their backyard.

In addition to cake, there was a full dessert bar filled with candy, cookies, cupcakes and traditional Portuguese sweets homemade by the Mother of the Bride. Treat bags and boxes were available for guest to take treats home!

Who doesn't love photo booths? We took a few turns in the booth, but here we are on the dance floor posing with a few of the props. See my guest post here  if you want to learn how to make your own props!
When we checked into our hotel, we were handed a well crafted Out-Of-Town gift bag. I appreciated the large bottle of water and Portuguese sweets, but my very favorite was this personalized door tags.

Congratulations Mr & Mrs Cotton! Wishing you a lifetime of happiness. Thank you for inviting us to be part of your big day and allowing me to share my favorite details here.

Sign I made for Debbie & Jeremy's hotel room. The MOH added to the decor by creating a trail of cotton balls from the hallway into their bedroom!