A Halloween Table Setting

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Here’s to a spooky, but fun day of frights to you and yours! I’ll keep this one short and sweet because I know you’ll soon be finishing last minute preparations for your Halloween party, getting together the final details of costumes, and making “WEFORGOTTHECANDY?!” 11th hour grocery store runs. Before the madness begins, let me treat you to some ghoulish table-setting eye candy, courtesy of the Thomas house.Halloween Table

A little bit of creepy crawly, a little bit of “blood” and candlesticks. One thing you should know about this- it’s super easy and you can whip it up using only things you find around the house. Need some last minute decor for that party tonight? This is all you, baby! Let’s break it down:

Halloween Table Setting 001

I started with a plain white table cloth and added my “spiderweb”, which I made using a black garbage bag and these instructions.Halloween Table Setting 002After that, I broke out the white dishware, stuck a woven placemat underneath, and called it a place setting.Halloween Table Setting 028Oh, and for some scare factor, I just crisscrossed the silverware to make an X (something about that seemed scary to me… go with me on this) and topped it with a name tag made with scrapbook paper and a red sharpie.Halloween Table Setting 006

Want to add another easy “squeamish” detail? Serve some sort of red beverage to your guests- could be red wine, punch, whatever! I vant to suuuuck your blooooood. 🙂Halloween Table Setting 008 Next came the centerpiece. All this took was a large gold plate, topped with three silver candle sticks and some basket filler. These also made an appearance in this spooky post about pumpkins.Halloween Table Setting 022To fill out the rest of the table, I added a few small white pumpkins, a silver candle holder, a few votives, a glass science-y looking thing, and a gold bird.Halloween Table Setting 009Light the candles and you’re all set to go!Halloween Table Setting 017Halloween Table Setting 021

Have a happy, happy Halloween!
Halloween Table-Leslie







9.21.13: Details, Details, Details…

Hip, hip, HOORAY, it’s Wedding Week! This week, we’ve covered how we celebrated one year, the timeline of the Wedding Day, how we asked our friends and family to be a part of the experience, and today we’ll be diving into the tiny little bits that made the day so special- the details! Consider this your backstage pass to the WhoWhatWhereWhen of September 21, 2013. You’re thrilled, I’m sure. 🙂LM-_R7A5853

Before you read on, you should know what our goals were going into this. One: We wanted the process to be as stress-free as possible. Of course there was some, as with most weddings, but by the end of it we could look back and say, Wow- that was a fun time. Two: We wanted to save money wherever possible so we DIYed anything and everything we could. Three (and the most important): We wanted people to get to know us better through the experience. It was important to us that every detail would reflect who we are so that by the end of the night, our guests would feel as if they knew us better than when they got there. We wanted them to feel like they are a part of our story- because they are!  So with that in mind, here we go…_R7A6965-115

WHERE: We were married at Shelemiah United Methodist Church and had the reception at Elk Manor Winery , both in the Chesapeake Bay area in Maryland.new phone 022There is a reason (and a story!) for why and how we landed where we did. The Chesapeake Bay has always been a special spot for both of us. Growing up, I spent every summer at my grandparents house “down by the bay”. After we met at college and began dating, Mitch came with us one weekend to the bay and we realized that every 4th of July, my family had been watching fireworks at the same marina that Mitch’s family always docked their boat! Here we are, the first time Mitch came to visit, watching the fireworks at the place we had both grown up visiting:1937127_114259447497_3341386_nIn the end, we figured it would only make sense to start our next adventure there. Elk Manor, our reception venue, had two available locations- the Manor house up on the hill, and the Beach house and tent down by the water. We were all over that water/beach house/dock combination.Beach HouseBeachDock

WHEN: No, we did not choose the date because of the EWF song… that’s just a happy accident. Actually, the only reason we chose 9/21 is because originally there was supposed to be another wedding at the Manor House that same night and the father of the bride owned a fireworks company. Their plan (as told to us by the venue director) was to shoot off a ton of fireworks from a boat in the water and we figured, hey, why not jump on the chance to be the “other” party who gets to reap the benefit? And so, our date was chosen. The other wedding ended up getting cancelled, so we didn’t end up with any fireworks, but it still makes for a funny story. Even funnier- my favorite numbers are even numbers and growing up I always wanted my wedding to be on an even numbered day. Well, we were married on 9/21/13. Go figure. 🙂invites 005

STATIONARY: We chose to save some moolah and do all of the wedding stationary ourselves. The other benefit to this was that we got to custom make our Save the Dates, Invites, and Programs. Remember that bit about the details reflecting who we are? Well, this was true down to the littlest things on the stationary. My mom designed the Save the Dates- she did a watercolor (she’s an art teacher so it makes sense that she can just whip up a design) of a lighthouse to represent the Turkey Point Lighthouse at the bay.invites 009

As for the invites, we continued the “bay theme” with rope and wave decals- drawn by mom. Our favorite part of the invites was the return card because we gave guests the chance to make song requests even before they got to the wedding. It was so much fun to see what they wanted to hear and was very helpful when we went to communicate with our DJ about music-y stuff!invites 006 (2)

The programs were another favorite part of the day… we wanted them to be personal, but more importantly- interesting! We’d been to enough weddings to know that there is a lot of sitting and waiting for things to get started- especially before the ceremony. For this reason, we wanted to give our guests something interesting to look at and read while they waited. And again, to get to know us better in the process. LM-_R7A6977Our programs included the Ceremony Order, some fun facts about the wedding party, some fun facts about Mitch and I, and a thank you to our guests. We heard from many people that it was fun to read some “behind the scenes” stuff while they waited for the Ceremony to start.

THE DRESS: This was one of the most special elements of the wedding for me because I actually wore my mom’s dress! We DIYed a lot of this wedding, but not even my mom and I could have predicted that we would make the dress too… and out of her wedding dress! Here she is, wearing the original, as I’m wearing the new version:LM-_A4A0569

Making the dress might deserve its own post someday, but the gist is that we used the body of it, did some re-structuring, and added some elements to make it reflect me too. Here’s what it looked like when my mom wore it:

Mom's Dress

And after we finished (now, when I say “we”, I actually mean she did all of the work and I was the cheerleader/observer/pin holder/try on-er) it looked like this:

DressShe did a great job and words cannot express how special it was to be able to wear her dress on my wedding day. I literally could not have had her any closer to me that day.


THE BRIDAL PARTY: The goal with our bridal party and what their attire was to have them get something that they could wear again if they wanted- there’s nothing worse than having to shell out a lot of money for something you only get to wear once. The girls wore mint dresses and platinum (I still don’t fully know what color this is- just ask the girls) shoes and the guys bought gray suits. Will they wear them again? You’ll have to ask them that. 🙂LM-_R7A6372 LM-_R7A6452 In terms of jewelry, the girls all had the same earrings, but anything else was their own choosing. We bought the guys matching ties (and fun socks!) to wear. The flower girl wore a darker turquoise (that matched Mitch’s tie) and the ring bearer had gray pants, suspenders, and a navy bow tie.LM-_R7A6889  In the end, we loved how it all came together.Bridal Party

THE FLOWERS: Another DIY piece- my mom did all of the bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres. She watched a few YouTube tutorials and then just gave it a shot- and they came out great! I’ll have to get her to give me some of the tips she learned along the way. We stuck with mostly whites and greens, but tied in the blue fabric from the table centerpieces. Couldn’t have asked for prettier arrangements…LM-JA4A0384LM-_R7A6828THE CEREMONY: From the beginning, we agreed that we wanted the Ceremony to be focused around worship. We purposely ordered the service to include prayer and worship right after the pronouncement of husband and wife so that the very first things we did as a married couple were to pray and worship alongside our family and friends.

LM-_R7A6693My Aunt Jennie and Uncle Steve officiated our wedding and they did such a wonderful job. We had family members read Scripture and close friends lead worship. I just remember feeling so peaceful- there were no nerves, no anxiety, no worries- just peace. God was at work in those moments and what a joy it was to share that with so many people that we love.LM-_R7A6873At the end, the pastors asked everyone to remain seated after we exited because Mitch and I wanted to come back in and dismiss each row individually so that we could hug and thank each person. This was our version of a receiving line. That way, folks could start heading over to the reception site right away instead of having to wait in line to see us.

LM-_R7A6955During the dismissal process, we had a slideshow of baby and childhood pictures of each of us, photos from our time at Eastern, and a few Engagement shots for our guests to look at as they waited. Again- keeping it interesting and giving them more chances to get to know us and our story.

THE FOOD: We hired a caterer by the name of (well, this is what we called him) Chef Riley. He is a retired police sergeant who decided to take up his passion in life: cooking! Catering Solutions is based out of Philadelphia, his food is awesome, and his philosophy is that people should not have to pay inflated prices for a product just because it’s a wedding. We liked him from the start. 🙂 LM-_R7A7615Riley was a lot of fun to work with and took into consideration our personalities as he worked with us to create a menu for the wedding. We wanted the food selection to reflect us (do I sound like a broken record yet?), so we chose some of our favorites! In the mix was crab dip (holla, Chesapeake Bay), wings (one of Mitch’s favorites), macaroni and cheese (my favorite), and salmon (a top choice for both of us).LM-JA4A0994Neither of us have ever had a wedding cake that left us wanting more, so we chose to go a less traditional route.cheryl 034 I love pumpkin pie and Mitch loves apple crisp, so those were our dessert options… and they were a hit! I am still bitter about the fact that I never got to have any more than the bite we fed each other after cutting the pie.LM-_R7A7731We had lemonade, iced tea, water, beer, and wine for guests to drink and later in the night, hot chocolate and apple cider. It was fun to pay some tribute to the season while we were at it. Oh, and the toast? A favorite of ours… sparkling apple cider. 🙂LM-_R7A7499

THE DECORATION: We focused most of our decorating energy on the reception venue because we would be there for the majority of the time. Everything that we used was chosen to reflect elements of the bay. We painted wooden crates white and had them stacked around the tent, gathered TONS of glass jars in a variety of shapes and blue tones, and laced the perimeter of the tent with white Christmas lights.IMG_0362

My mom saw this in an episode of The Middle, so we stole their idea: We gathered large branches, cemented the bases into pots of concrete, and spray painted the branches white. These frosty “trees” flanked the main entrance of the tent. LM-_R7A7114

To highlight the dance floor, we wrapped rope tightly around the four center poles to create a large square in the air and hung yarn globe lanterns that we had made beforehand. LM-_R7A7138As for outside of the tent, we kept it simple (and good thing, because it poured rain!)- a few tables and chairs for cocktail hour with blue vases, baby’s breath, and a few stones to keep them in place.


Along the water, we lined glass jars with white candles for a simple, but elegant feel.LM-JA4A0403

TABLE SETTING: Each table got a white table cloth, a patterned turquoise square of material in the center, and a glass hurricane/vase/lantern with a candle for the centerpiece, and five votive candle holders.IMG_0366The votives were just baby food jars (thanks to the many people who helped to collect them for about a year before the wedding!) wrapped in twine and filled with sand from the bay and a battery-powered candle (no real flames allowed).new 058The candles inside the centerpieces are actually cut, sanded, and painted pieces of PVC pipe (a stroke of genius from my mom), filled with sand and a battery-powered candle. No flames in the tent that night! She even used a hot glue gun to create the “dripped wax” effect… no one was any the wiser!cheryl 038For each place setting, we had a dark turquoise napkin topped with the silverware. Guests’ places were marked with stones from the bay (authentic, no less!) that had their name painted on with paint pen. For the table numbers, we ate, cleaned, and painted lots of crab shells and added glittery numbers.

new house 001Each guest got to take a large chocolate covered pretzel (a Christmas classic at our house) home as a favor with a tag that said: “Thanks for helping us tie the knot! Leslie and Mitch, 9.21.13″ How’s that for a nautical/pretzel-y play on words? Hah!cheryl 036

THE RECEPTION: We just wanted people to kick back and have a great time- whatever that looked like for them. If that meant exploring the beach and dock (there wasn’t a whole lot of this due to the rain), chatting with friends and family, or dancing til they could no longer walk- that was cool with us. Both of our families LOVE to dance, so we wanted to give them as much time to get their groove on as possible. We opened the dance floor right after the first dances, even before we ate! Everyone took a break for some food and toasts and then we got right back to partying. We had a blast the whole night and hope that everyone else did too.LM-_R7A7798Whew! That about wraps it up, I think. Hope you enjoyed your backstage pass to the wedding madness… gosh, memory lane is fun. I’ve been listening to “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire on loop while typing up all of these posts… makes me want to get married all over again! Thanks for hanging out today (and the whole week, for that matter)- we’ll be bringing this Wedding Week home tomorrow with our Honeymoon adventure to Mexico! See ya then… 🙂

Asking the Maids

Bridesmaids, that is. If you’re checking in for the first time this week, welcome to Wedding Week here on the blog! We’ve been having fun throwing back to last year’s partayyy. On Monday we covered how we celebrated one year of marriage and yesterday’s post was a play-by-play of the big day itself. File today under “preparation for the celebration” if you will.LM-_R7A6404

We had five bridesmaids and five groomsmen in our wedding and I asked my five cousins to join me for the special day. I’ve never had any sisters, but these five girls have been just that for me, so I didn’t think twice about asking them to be my bridesmaids.

Now, about how I asked… I wanted them to have something special that I put thought into, taking each of their personalities into consideration. I landed on a box filled with some goodies and the question itself:10728852_882176625128421_760400536_nIt was a pretty simple project from start to finish and it was a lot of fun- Mitch even helped! I grabbed a few white cardboard boxes from the craft store, a variety of scrapbook paper in the wedding colors (various shades of blue), and some small wooden letters- one for each of the girls’ initials.new phone 008 We added scrapbook paper to the top and inside lid of the boxes and glued the letters on top to help identify whose was whose.new phone 007

See? I told you Mitch helped! And, well, this happened:new phone 006After the boxes were dried, I added the “Will you be my bridesmaid?” cutout (I just typed it up and printed them from the computer) to the inside lid. The idea was that it would be the first thing they saw. Inside the box was a glass jar full of sand from the bay with a tag saying where the wedding would be, a list of some of the basics (when the wedding would be, what they would wear, a personalized note, etc.), some chocolate, nail polish, and a pair of earrings. Capture (2)Oh, and a few paint chips in different shades of blue to represent the color scheme of the wedding. While the gifts were fun, surprising them was the best part.

Jess, my maid of honor, was the first to get hers. Jess actually married into our crazy family (she married my cousin, Chris) and we went to the same college and became good friends there and later… family! She and I had already arranged to meet up at Barnes and Nobles to look through wedding magazines. Little did she know, I had plans to ask her a question of my own! I slipped a note into one of the magazines that said “Jess, look in the box.” The confusion on her face when she found a random note in a magazine addressed to her… it was hysterical and I wish I had gotten it on camera.new phone 025 I then passed her her box and… she said YES! The funny thing is that she had no idea anything was coming and said she’d never been more surprised. So fun. 🙂 Here she is standing by my side on the day of- thanks for all you did for me, Jess! Love you!LM-JA4A0529

I asked the rest of the girls on Thanksgiving that year. I mailed Ashley her box (she lives far away), saying it was a “special Thanksgiving treat” that I wanted everyone to open at the same time… what a load of nonsense. 🙂 We got all the girls together after the meal, put Ashley on Skype and they all opened it together. I did not anticipate any tears, but when I tried to tell them how much it meant that I got to grow up with not one, but five sisters, well, tears were shed. Happy tears, of course. Here is the box all put together on the day they opened them:DSCN0814The message inside said:

Girls, Truthfully, I don’t know a lot of things about this wedding. I don’t know exactly where or when but for a long time I have known who I want there with me… YOU! I am not even sure of all of the “hows” yet, but I do know that at the end of the day, as long as I am standing at the altar marrying Mitch, with you next to me, I will know exactly why we did all of this. I love you!

In the end, they all liked their gifts and best of all, I got to share the day with the five of the best “sisters” I could ask for. Love you girls!LM-JA4A0387And that’s it in a nutshell cardboard box- how I asked the maids. But what about Mitch? He just point blank asked the groomsmen… there were no crafts involved. 🙂 #realmenmodpodge

Until tomorrow, have a great day!