Charlotte Wedding Planner :: Bow Tie Bonkers

I grew up in New Jersey. People just do not wear bow ties up there. A bow tie? Why in the world would someone wear a bow around their neck? Well, now that I live in beautiful North Carolina I can tell you that all sorts of stylish gentlemen are sporting this neck wear! Dress it up in a tuxedo or dress it down with a checked shirt and converse sneakers! Either way, the bow tie is seeing a revival with today’s stylish men. To me, it is the epitome of southern proper attire. Put a handsome groom in a bow tie and you have a magical combination. Check out these neck adornments and swoon over how dapper your groom can look too!

xoxo,
Laura

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Charlotte Wedding Planner :: Kimber & Joshua’s Wedding

Check out our new Mr. & Mrs! Kimber and Josh are such a sweet couple! The two tied the knot on September 22nd with a high energy and gorgeous reception at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Kimber’s shoes were her something blue, the couple loves their dog Tini, and boy, do they know how to dance! Check out these amazing shots by Irresistible Portraits!

Venue :: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Florist :: Carey Roberts Design Co.
Photographer :: Irresistible Portraits
DJ :: Split Second Sound
Wedding Cake :: Cheesecake Etc.
Wedding Dress :: Priscilla of Boston
Lighting :: Total Event Production
Transportation :: Rose
Caterer :: Best Impressions

Charlotte Wedding Planner :: Wedding Welcome Bags

There is no better way to welcome guests to your wedding weekend than with a little piece of your personalities all wrapped up!  A trend that more and more couples are following today is providing welcome bags in each guest’s hotel room. It’s a nice way to let them know how excited you are to have them at your special day! So let’s talk about what goes into that clever little chinch…

1. A versatile vessel – All that cool stuff needs a home, so pick a bag that goes with your theme, colors, or personalities. Maybe you’re the clean and sleek kind of couple, then go with a solid and modern shape. If you’re the traditional kind, grab a bag with fun florals or maybe a canvas tote you personalized your self!

2. Toss in some edibles – What are your and your future hubby’s favorite snacks? Throw in some treats that your guests can identity with you! Love those old fashion coke bottles? Getting married in New Jersey like me? Include some salt water taffy. Think about your location and what kinds of things it is known for!

3. Pampering products – After a long night of dancing in heels and throwing back some champagne, there’s nothing more that I want than an aspirin and a bottle of water in the morning! Make sure you provide items that traveling guests may not have thought of. Aunt Lisa spill some wine on her new dress? She has a handy Tide Stain Stick in her welcome bag!

4. The Big Event – Provide guests with a timeline fore the weekend’s events. Include info on the rehearsal dinner for all that are involved and make sure guets know where and when they have some place to be! If you’re doing a brunch or luncheon that day after, make sure all your family and friends know the location. We don’t want that crazy college buddy walking into the ceremony 30 minutes late…

5. Play tour tuide – No one knows the area better than you! If you’re doing a destination wedding, make sure to scout out the area so you can provide guests with a map of local attractions, restaurants, drug stores, and any other place you think they may want to venture during their down time.

6. Thank You note – Your guests know how much you love them, but it’s always nice to hear it! Include a thoughtful Thank You card letting them know how much their presence at your special day means you. Make sure you also use this space to describe any sentimental meanings or stories behind the contents of the bag. Did you include your Grandma’s homemade jam? Let them know about all the love you poured into that little jar.

xoxo,
Laura

Charlotte Wedding Planner :: Monogrammed Bridesmaids Gifts!

As a bride, having your best gals standing by your side on your big day means more to you than they will ever know. Having their love and support, from getting that shiny engagement ring slipped on your finger to the big “I do’s”, is such a meaningful thing! You want to show your sistas how much they mean to you with a token of your affection. Bridesmaid gifts are just a little way for you, the bride, to show them how much they rock and how much help they have been during your bridezilla phase. Making each gift personal is what it’s all about…and every southern bride knows she can never go wrong with a MONOGRAM! I would monogram everything I own if I could, so why not give your ladies something special that has their signature mark on it too?

xoxo,
Laura

Charlotte Wedding Planner :: Two for Tuesday

HOLY MOTHER OF CHEESE. I made this Cheesy Broccoli with Chicken and Rice Casserole yesterday and OH LAWD. It was seriously delicious. My fiance’s (southern) grandparents came over for dinner last night and I knew I had to make something scrumptious. I found this recipe and it just screamed southern comfort food. Needless to say, his grandmother was throughly impressed with my cooking and made sure that I emailed her the recipe today! This recipe can serve 8-10 people so I cut it in half like I do with most recipes. We had just enough left over for the two of us to have lunch today! Perfect!

Bread Crumbs:
2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter, melted; plus two tablespoons chilled
1 garlic clove, minced

Casserole:
2 pounds broccoli (about 3-4 medium heads of broccoli), florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stems chopped
4-5 Cooked and shredded chicken Breasts
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups long grain white rice
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9X13-inch baking dish.
2. Pulse bread, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and melted butter in a food processor until coarsely ground. Add garlic. Set aside.
3. Microwave broccoli florets (save stems for later), covered, in a large bowl until bright green and tender, 2 to 3 minutes (no need to add water). Be careful not to overcook or they will become soggy and discolored.
4. Melt remaining butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onion and broccoli stems until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, half-and-half, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Off the heat, stir in cheddar cheese, cayenne, remaining parmesan, broccoli florets, and cooked chicken.
6. Pour the mixture into prepared baking dish and top with bread crumb mixture. Bake until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Serve.

Charlotte Wedding Planner :: Wedding Cake Alternatives

I enjoy a piece of cake every now and then but if I’m craving something sweet and scrumptious, cake is not where I turn. And I know I’m not alone in this! Of course I am going to have a wedding cake at my upcoming May nuptials, but my fiance and I are also doing something a little more unorthodox…A PIE BAR! I love the way wedding cakes look (ours will be all white with fresh flowers cascading down) but I would rather stuff my face with an ooey gooey pie! So for all you nontraditional brides, or brides with a love for sweets, here are some alternatives or additions to your cake table.

Charlotte Wedding Planner :: Two for Tuesday

This week’s recipe is not a full meal but rather a snack or side dish. When I was in college I would go to this amazing little Greek restaurant in Burlington, NC called Mykonos. It was right on Church Street and had an unassuming exterior but inside waiting for you were mouthwatering Gyros and my all time favorite finger food: Zucchini Sticks! I have yet to get back there and am having a serious craving for those little sticks of joy. So I found this recipe on Pinterest and WOWZA. Not only are they baked (aka healthier than fried) but also delish. They do involve a bit of prep work, but it will be worth when you are scarfing down these things like hot cakes.

Zuccini Sticks
3 Zuccini 9″-10″ long
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Pizza seasoning or mixed Italian herbs

Dipping Sauce
1 medium sweet onion, caramelized
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 cup mayonnaise

Directions:
Cut each zucchini into 3″ sticks about the diameter of your finger. Cutting each zuke into 9 sticks lengthwise, then cutting into 3″ lengths, works well. Place the zucchini sticks in a colander over a bowl, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt. Let them drain for 1 hour or longer.

While the zucchini are shedding their excess liquid, make the dip.

First, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium-sized frying pan over moderate heat, and add 1 medium sweet onion (about 1/2 pound), sliced. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, then caramelizes. This should take between 20 and 25 minutes, at medium-low heat. The lower the heat, the longer it takes, but the less likely you are to burn the onions.

When the onions are medium brown, remove them from the heat.

Place the following in a small food processor or blender:
all of the caramelized onions
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon prepared mustard

Process until fairly smooth. Remove from the processor, and stir in 1 cup mayonnaise.

Rinse the Zucchini thoroughly; you want to get rid of any excess salt. Then pat them dry.

Next up: the bread and cheese coating. But first, preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and spray the parchment with olive oil.

Combine the following:
1 cup Panko break crumbs
scant 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Pizza seasoning or mixed Italian herbs

Mix until thoroughly combined.

Beat 2 large eggs; or pour 1/2 cup egg substitute into a dish. You’re going to dip each zucchini stick in the egg and roll it.

Place on parchment paper on the baking sheets. Bake the sticks for about 12 minutes, until they’re starting to brown. Remove from the oven, and turn them over; you may actually need to do this one by one, or you may be able to turn several at a time using a spatula. Bake for an additional 12 to 16 minutes or so, until golden brown and crisp. Bottom line, bake until the sticks are a speckled golden brown.

xoxo,
Laura

Charlotte Wedding Planner :: Succulents…Your Bouquets’ New Best Friend!

One of the hottest flowers right now is the succulent! These flowers have this amazing leathery and buttery skin. The green color is the perfect balance of rustic vintage and modern elegance. It works in a ton of different schemes and styles. Here are some of my favorite uses of succulents in bouquets, centerpieces, boutonnieres, and more! Maybe you should think about adding this gorgeous flower to your wedding!

Charlotte Wedding Planner :: Two for Tuesday

What do get when you combine Marinara sauce, Alfredo sauce, and a dash of some red pepper? This amazing Spicy Chicken Rigatoni! Carbs and I are very very good friends. I could eat pasta pretty much every day and this dish totally hit the spot. I made with my boo one night a couple weeks ago and we scarfed it down! It was easy and delicious ..I think you should try it tonight!

Ingredients
1/4 cup oil
1/2 Tbs crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbs chopped garlic
6 oz chicken, sliced
3/4 cup. Marinara sauce
1/2 cup Alfredo sauce
2 tsp butter
1/4 cup peas
1 lb Rigatoni pasta, cooked according to package directions
additional 1/2 t crushed red pepper (for garnish)

Directions
In a sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add crushed red pepper, salt, black pepper and garlic and sauté just long enough for garlic to caramelize and red pepper to release flavor into the oil. Add sliced chicken and sauté briefly to coat in spices and garlic.

Add Marinara Sauce first and then Alfredo Sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce thickens slightly and chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°. Turn off flame, add butter and peas and incorporate into sauce.

Drop cooked pasta in boiling water for 3 seconds. Let drain for 15 seconds. Toss with the sauce. Place pasta and sauce in pasta bowl, reserving the majority of the chicken to be placed on top of the pasta. Using a rubber spatula, scrape any remaining sauce from the pan to the pasta. Garnish with crushed red pepper and serve.

Charlotte Wedding Planner :: Wedding Favors

I love weddings. This is not news. I love everything about them from the moments before the bride walks down the aisle to the grande send-off with sparklers. I love all the creativity and hard work that goes into them and I love the look on the couple’s faces when they see their reception for the first time. I especially love it when our couples have unique and fun wedding favors! I have favors in my apartment that collect dust and others that I have long forgotten about. But there are some that I look at with fond memories because I use it everyday and then there are others that I ate on the spot with a huge grin on my face. Having a way for your guests to remember your special night is nice gesture and there are so many fun and new ways to do it! Here are some of my favorite and unique favors:

xoxo, Laura