And just like that, it’s wedding season already! This summer, we have 3 weddings on deck and we’re thrilled to attend all of them. That said, we’ve developed some strategies ahead of time to make sure we don’t go broke, get sick or resentful of our lucky-in-love friends. Here at Monogamy Wines, we’ve pulled together some ways to prepare for the wedding season for your budget, your body and your feelings to make sure love is at the front of the day.
No doubt, weddings are expensive affairs to attend. From the pedicures to hotel and tux rental, weddings can be filled with surprise costs that could land you in some serious debt. But as much as those expenses seem surprising, you can actually plan a most of the costs ahead of time.
Before wedding season even begins, set aside time to plan a budget for the gifts, the prep, the new frock, and cash for tips, drinks, babysitters and transportation. We have a separate bank savings account where put money for wedding season. By planning ahead, you won’t find yourself in debt by celebrating love.
Wedding season can take a toll on our exercise routines and self-care. From overindulgence at the bar to late nights with your best friends, consecutive weddings take a toll on my health. Just like with my budget, I can plan ahead to save my health.
Whether it’s a bachelorette party or a rich rehearsal dinner, you can plan a lower calorie, veggie-rich breakfast to balance the load. When it comes to alcohol, go drink for drink with water for every glass of champagne to save yourself tomorrow’s headache. Schedule recovery naps ahead of time if you know you’re going to be out late. Take a look at the choices you have to make ahead of time and map a plan – your body will thank you!
With all that family, all that past and all those new people (not to mention, those drinks), wedding season can bring on a host of emotional ups and downs. Weddings are often rich with ex-relationships and the pain that comes with seeing an old flame is real. Weddings are rife with expectations and when these expectations meet reality, fireworks ensue.
If you’re a natural introvert, make sure you plan some alone time for the day before and after the wedding. Remind yourself why you’re there, who you’re celebrating and who you love. Just like with your body, it’s important for introverts to schedule emotional recovery time – socializing can be hard work! Often weddings come with a little feeling of loss – they signify change and that can come with a little grief. Be kind to yourself if that happens – and don’t forget the tissues!
I’m always astonished how far a little planning and preparation can take me. By spending a small amount of time preparing my budget, my body and my feelings, wedding season doesn’t have to land me in a financial, physical or emotional hole. I can be fully present to celebrate the love of the people I love.
It’s spring, which means that the weather is even more unpredictable than usual. We’ve pulled together 20 rainy day date night ideas for at home date nights. You don’t even have to leave the house to be kinder, more attentive and a better all-around companion.
1. High Stakes Board Games
You have a stack of them in that cabinet. Time to dust off the board games, but this time, you’re going to make it interesting with some stakes. Whether it’s sexy, financial or potentially embarrassing, up the stakes of the board games with a friendly wager.
2. Indoor dancing lesson
Hire someone who will give you an on demand dance lesson or you can learn from the magic of YouTube. We’ve had a blast learning the Tango and how to waltz from free online sources.
3. Photo Shoot
We’ve all seen the Instagram Husbands video - take inspiration from that to have a two-person photo shoot.
4. Dinner and Movie (with a twist)
Take direct inspiration from the movie and serve cannoli with a viewing of the Godfather, a Timpano from the movie Big Night or a viewing of the movie Chef with the perfect Cubano sandwich.
5. Pretend Power Outage
No electricity allowed (except the sparks between you). Pull out the candles, the ready-made snacks and the intimate conversation for a cozy, enlightening evening.
6. In the Car
This isn’t technically an indoor date night, but close enough. Head out to the car for conversation or action (or both, parked right in your own neighborhood.
7. Eating Contest
Although you could compete on who can eat the most hot dogs, we’ve had fun playing chubby bunny or seeing how many crackers we can eat without drinking water.
8. Crossword Puzzles
There’s something about a shared puzzle that brings two people closer. Tackling a crossword puzzle together can make you feel like there’s nothing that can keep you down.
Build a grownup fort with all the classic amenities.
With tons of techniques - my absolute favorite rainy day date night activity is giving or receiving a long, free massage.
11. NY Times Questionnaire
There’s a reason that the 36 questions are so popular. Spend the time asking each other these questions — alone or with a couple friend for even more inspiration.
12. Indoor S’mores
Making fireplace s’mores is easier than making them outside. Plus, you get bonus points for feeding them to each other.
13. Short Story Club
Much like a book club, you get to read a piece ahead of time and discuss it. Since time is of the essence and you know that your what’s on her bookshelf anyway, read a short story and come prepared to discuss. My favorite list of short stories is here:
14. Make an art project together
When my now-husband and I were dating, we spent a lot of time finishing each other’s doodles on the back of bar napkins. Take inspiration by each of you drawing one line at a time until you have a completed drawing. You’ll surprise yourselves with your abilities!
15. Science Project
How long has it been since you did a science project? This ingenious list from Buzzfeed is the perfect place to get started.
Try a cheese tasting, fig tasting, fruit tasting, cake tasting. There’s something so fun about buying all the kinds to find out what you want.
17. Wine tasting
This one’s one of our favorites! Each of you comes home with two surprise wines. Cover all the bottles with brown paper bags and get tasting. Themes could be Italian wines, Cabernet Sauvignon or New World. Make notes of what you like and what you don’t about each wine — you’ll surprise yourselves and your taste buds.
18. Listen to an iconic album
When was the last time you listened to an album, from beginning to end? Get started list of Rolling Stone’s 500 best albums and listen, really listen to it together.
Try a new game together on your console. You’ll have a blast competing on level ground.
20. Go all in
We love to choose a different culture and learn everything about its food. Planning the menu, the timing and the ingredients becomes the kind of project that can create wonderful memories.
Next time you’re facing down a date night in, you’re prepared to make the most of it — let me know your favorite indoor date night activities in the comments!
Did you know that the rules for thank you notes have changed? You have 3 months to write a thank you note. In a perfect world, you’d write the thank you note the day that the gift appears – and trust me, writing 2 or 3 out every day is a lot more tolerable than sitting down to a stack of 100 a few months after the big day. No longer will 1 year suffice – you need to get to it.
Thank you notes are less painful when you keep meticulous track of the Who. Open a spreadsheet and make sure that for every gift, you have captured the person or people who have given it to you, and that you have their address from your master invitation list.
The Six Step Guide
Years and years ago, The Morning News posted a life-changing article about how to write a thank you note that offered some easy-to-remember points. Late internet treasure Lesley Harpold offered six basics for writing the perfect thank you note:
Greet the giver.
Express your gratitude.
Mention the past, allude to the future.
Grace (one more thank you)
This six step guide to writing thank you notes delights the recipient and keeps things easy.
The plainer, the better
On the aesthetic side, you want your thank you notes to reflect the theme of your wedding. That said, you’d hate to be stuck with hundreds of extra thank you cards that could only be used for one specific gift-giving reason. So many sites allow you to customize your stationery, you can stick with a more basic theme to use these thank yous for anything.
When I ordered my engraved invitations, I ordered a set of 200 plain cards with just the representative image from my wedding (lily of the valley) on the front, so that I could use those for any occasion. In fact, I just used one last year to thank my mom for an anniversary gift!
Handwrite your notes
It’s a shame if your handwriting is atrocious, you still have to write your thank you note by hand. Typewritten, or electronic thank you cards still can’t substitute for the mailed, hand written card.
Involve your partner
There’s no reason that only one part of the couple should be responsible for thank you note writing. In 2016 it is expected that good couples divide and conquer thank you note delivery.
Make thank you note writing fun!
We at Monogamy wines always recommend opening a bottle of Monogamy Cabernet Sauvignon before settling down to appreciate the generousity of friends and family. Other options include writing them while listening to your wedding playlist, watching your favorite show or going to a favorite restaurant or coffee shop to fill them out. There’s no reason it has to be boring or punishing.
Reward yourselves for thank you notes well done – make sure there’s a special treat planned for when the big job is done.
The holiday season kicks off this week. With all the family, events, eating and family, it can be easy to take your partner for granted. We at Monogamy wines have pulled together five ways to let your partner know how much you appreciate them – with tips specially geared toward the sometimes stressful holiday season.
This is my default way to show my husband my love. Whether it’s a note taped to the mirror when he’s in the shower, or a note taped to his rear view mirror, I delight in showing him how much I appreciate his love and support by surprise notes.
A secret signal
Come up with a secret word or gesture to let your partner know, “I see you. I love you.” This tip is especially helpful during the holiday season when you can find yourself separated by friends and family at crowded events.
Rub it out
Neck, back and all kind of massages are free and delightful. Watch how the professionals on YouTube do it and use your new skills to relax the heck out of your beloved. We love this totally SFW neck massage video tutorial https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTfPf6mnFe4 and this one for backs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aliKjIcDMQ0 – my favorite way to be shown love!
Take over a chore
Does she usually clean the toilets? Does he always unload the dishwasher? Sneakily, quietly take over a few chores for your partner and do it with love in your heart. Never, ever mention it, even if they don’t say anything about it.
Avoiding saying negative things about your partner is a given. But during this holiday season, go the extra mile and actively share all the things you love about them. Does she have a cousin who likes to pick on her for an innocuous habit – defend her! Does his mom remind him of a mistake he made long ago? Step up and say that you’re way past that. Speak up with love to show your partner how important they are to you.
How do you share your gratitude for your partner during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments!
It’s no small feat to choose the perfect wedding appetizers. Not only do you want to choose something that reflects your shared background, you also can’t forget the season and the location.
We at Monogamy Wines have pulled together eight cozy appetizers to bring both comfort and taste to your wedding guests.
Taste of Home
Are you and your partner from a part of the world known for specific cuisine? These appetizers reflect tastes from the Midwest, South and West United States. They’re innovative, but still familiar enough for less adventurous palates.
This Beer Cheese Spread from Brown Eyed Baker could reflect a Midwestern, German or beer-loving background.
It’s not that sexy to look at, but this Boiled Peanut Hummus from Hugh Acheson and Garden and Gun is the perfect appetizer for your Southern family.
After all the dress up, expectations and nerves, put your guests at ease with these amped up versions of comfort foods.
Macaroni and Cheese Canapes
These Macaroni and Cheese canapes from Leite’s Culinaria will delight even the pickiest eaters on your guest list.
I’ve yet to meet anyone to turn down Chicken and Waffles. This mini version from Apples and Onions is comfort food in the palm of your hand.
Little Spice Jar made these amazing loaded mashed potato balls from Thanksgiving leftovers that will make your guests feel like they’re at home (but better).
Choose recipes that reflect experiences the both of you had — mini burgers and hot dogs could reflect a shared love of baseball or chicken wings from the bar where you first met.
Asian Barbecue Chicken Wings from Rasa Malaysia are an updated take on a pub favorite.
There is a world of gorgeous appetizers to reflect your love, your history and put your guests at ease. Tell us in the comments, what have your favorite appetizers been?
There are fewer things we at Monogamy Wines love more than DIY wedding décor. We adore how clever brides and grooms make their space beautiful while being resourceful at the same time. We’ve collected our favorite 11 décor DIYs to share with you:
Save money, delight your guests with a polaroid wedding topper. Images of the two of you? Timely and lovely.
It might not be the most challenging DIY in the world, but we adore these personalized Kraft paper placemats for the bride and groom in Gold and Bloom’s DIY wedding.
Over at the Elephantine Blog this DIY ring pillow is sweetly soft – perfect for any ring bearer – four legged or two.
Perfect for fall weddings – and economical too! – We love these pumpkin signs from A Fabulous Fete blog.
Whether you’re in love with the rustic wooden wedding arch or the vintage rugs that define the aisle, this wedding décor both enhances and blends into the gorgeous backdrop.
These stunning paper roses from Avanti Morocha have us looking for spare walls to beflower
Style Me Pretty shows us how to DIY this glamorous cheers sign – the perfect backdrop for your cocktail hour bar, your champagne table or your cake
In wine country, the barrels grow on trees… wait. Wine barrels make the perfect height for tables at your cocktail hour are the same.
Some projects are easier than others, and this one lands on the super easy side. These DIY giant stars cost less than $5 and are made of yard sticks and holiday string lights.
Martha Stewart does it again, these stunning light columns were made with dowels, a 50 bulb string of lights and paper lanterns.
Lovely, these charming color dipped place card holders (and wine corks!) from Real Simple could be colored to fit any color scheme you can dream up.
Have you DIYed any of your wedding decor? We’d love to see it!
Cocktail hour at a reception serves several purposes. It gives the couple and their friends and families time for some post-ceremony photos. A cocktail hour gives the guests a chance to meet and mingle with other wedding guests as well as share a snack and a drink before the big reception meal.
A cocktail hour sets the theme for the rest of the night – it’s a relaxed moment, which allows the newly married couple highlight their creativity and fun side. Cocktail hours take place anywhere – but most people hold it at or near the reception site.
Although cocktail hours can serve whatever food you love, traditionally, you’ll want to have both hot and cold appetizers as well as different options for guests. Usually three hot and three cold will do the trick. You can 2 passed meat dishes, one or two seafood choices, and a few cheese hors d’oeuvres – don’t forget vegetarian options.
Each guest will most likely eat 5-6 pieces per hour. If you’re hosting 80 people for an hour, you’ll want to make sure you have roughly 500 pieces of appetizer. Limit back up by limiting food stations – either have 2-3 set spots for guests to pick up snacks or have servers circulating through the party with passed hors d’oeuvres. Keep it finger-friendly – avoid picks and tails and shells – food that needs to be discarded.
Snacks are wonderful, but most people will be eager to get a drink. Some guidelines for serving drinks during the cocktail hour:
- Generally, you can assume each guest will consume about 2 drinks per hour.
- You don’t need to spend your money on top-shelf liquor unless it’s a splurge for a special guest or parent – mid-level booze can save you hundreds of dollars on your ceremony.
- If you’re hosting an open bar as well as wine and beer, consider hosting one main bar for all drinks and two smaller bars with only wine, beer and non-alcoholic drinks to keep the lines short and the mood celebratory.
- Serving a signature cocktail? Aim to have drinks with no more than 4 elements – you can get fancy with juices and syrups.
- Serving wine? Keep it simple! It’s not a tasting, so one white and one red can go a long way.
- Beer is a great, budget-friendly drink. Save your bartenders time by offering local microbeer in the bottle.
- Don’t forget a great non-alcoholic drink. Guests who don’t imbibe shouldn’t be limited to just water and soda.
A great party layout can make or break your event. Create an open layout – leaving the ceremony to move directly into a long drink line can ruin the great mood everyone’s in from the ceremony.
Another way to ease bottlenecking is to make sure you have at least one bartender for every 75 guests. To make the party vibe more open and relaxed, make sure the space has been cleared of possible speedbumps. A great way to do that is to have servers stationed at the entrance of the cocktail area — as soon as guests enter the room, guests can get their drink and move through.
For entertainment, consider including games like bocce, corn hole or croquet for guests to entertain themselves. Live music is always a welcome touch – but a pre-made playlist can add just the right personal touch.
During cocktail hour, guests are more focused on relaxing and meeting each other – so you can save on décor. Tables to set drinks down are a must – plan for some low and some high tables to mix up the space
And don’t forget to list the cocktail hour on the wedding invitation. It’s a good idea to let guests know that cocktail hour will follow the ceremony. If the location’s different, make sure you let the guests know that as well. They’ll want to celebrate with the happy couple and share the love of the special day.
Few events are as intimate as a wedding. When you’re pledging your life to someone in front of all the people you love, well, that’s about as personal as it gets.
We’ve collected ten of our favorite personal touches for weddings — bring your family, your friendships and your love to the forefront of this once in a lifetime event.
One of our favorite ways to personalize your wedding is to start off with a drink by throwing a short cocktail reception before the ceremony. This gives guests a few extra minutes to socialize and can set the mood
Hashtags may feel like one of the least personal touches to your wedding, but when all of your guests’ photos, thoughts and social media updates are organized in one clear stream, you’ll be grateful you did it.
Favors are your ultimate opportunity for personalization – include your Mexican heritage with end of the night churros and hot chocolate – or your Midwestern roots with seeds of wildflowers from your home town.
Consider a personalized wedding cake topper. It’s a sweet and memorable way to share your personal style with your guests.
Serve wines from the years you met, or when you were born. You could also just pour wines that are important to the two of you. You could explain in a note to the guests at their table, or you could keep that knowledge between you and your beloved.
A more sentimental suggestion is to carry a bouquet with the same types of flowers that your mom carried as a bride.
Have pets? If well-trained and good with crowds, consider having your dog carry the rings down the aisle. Keep the treats with your officiant.
Number or name tables for the reception after places important to you both — consider favorite songs, where you’ve lived or where the proposal took place.
Personalized M&Ms are always a good idea. You can even personalize with images — your faces, places important to you or a beloved pet.
Have you seen any wonderful personalized wedding ideas? Share in the comments!
Small jars of granola are an adorably budget friendly favor to consider for your wedding. They’re a favor the two of you can make together, and guests love that you did it yourself. We used the standard labels for our granola, but you could customize your labels with your wedding colors or design.
Wedding Favor Granola Recipe – recipe makes enough to fill 12 small jars.
4 cups oats
2 cups almonds
1/2 cup canola oil (or light olive oil or your favorite neutral oil)
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried peaches
1 cup flaked coconut
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Put the almonds in a large plastic bag or between two dish towels. Smash them with a hammer until they are the size of little pebbles — I like them broken into roughly four pieces each.
In a large bowl, mix the oats and almonds together.
In a small saucepan, heat the oil, honey and vanilla together until they’re bubbly.
Spread the whole mixture out in one layer on a rimmed baking pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes.
While the mixture is baking, cut up your peaches into thin strips. I like to use a clean pair of scissors.
Don’t forget your coconut flakes!
Pull the granola-filled rimmed baking sheet from the oven and stir through the peaches and coconut. Bake for another 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, stir through and let cool.
While the granola is cooling, get your jars ready for filling. Make sure they’re clean before you start filling.
Fill each jar up with your granola and treat your guests with something you made!
It’s the season for hot, hot weather. Monogamy Wines wants to keep you super cool. Add in a big emotional event like a wedding, and you could have a recipe for definitely un-cool heat stroke and sunburns. Help keep your guests comfortable and add to your décor with these chic shades.
And don’t forget, if you have pregnant or elderly guests, it may be worth looking into an indoor/outdoor location where people have the option to escape from the heat.
Hand held shade
Hand held shade like parasols look absolutely adorable in baskets and buckets or hanging from the back of chairs. Plus, they double as favors – keeping guests cooler and giving them something for attending.
With parasols, you’ll want to take some things into consideration. You’ll want to make sure that the opened umbrella won’t block anyone’s view of the big event. As well, some men aren’t comfortable twirling a parasol overhead so they may be kept uncovered.
Instead of parasols, we’ve also seen buckets of sun hats available for guests to take with them. By having all kinds of hats for men and women, you create a fantastic icebreaker for guests to get to know each other.
When thinking shade, the first thing we think of are tents. The only drawback? The price. Some tents can require significant investment in both a deposit and the rental fee. That said, there’s nothing else that can protect your guests from the elements.
Clear tents are another option, letting your guests see the beauty of the area, while protected from the elements, add shade through draped fabrics.
The Natural Route
Cheap, widely available, cool, have you thought about trees? Nature’s original chic shade provider could help protect your guests and keep them comfortable throughout your event. If you’re getting married in a park or a field, consider other areas of the land to take advantage of natural shade.
More budget-friendly shade can be DIY’ed. Provide shade with poles and light weight fabric to keep the sun off your guests. You’ll definitely want to do solid research before you get started to make sure that no poles will tumble down during the event and that the fabric is light enough for wind to not catch the fabric. Avoid parachute fabric — its whole job is not to let air through – and could pull down any structures you’ve built.
Our favorite shade is also the most impractical – but comes from Gustafson Porter at the Venice Biennale. Tethered to the ground, these helium weather balloons create creative, innovative shade for all your guests. Bonus! When the balloons run out of helium, you know the party’s truly over.
How are you planning to keep guests cool on your special day?