Visos Tie the Knot: Practice Makes Perfect

The day of the wedding rehearsal was spent tying up loose ends and packing things up for the big day. Truthfully, I didn’t end up having that much to do the day before, which I completely attribute to my overly detailed and ridiculous timelines. Even my wedding coordinator laughed at how much I loved my spreadsheets. I started with the awesome resources found here and adapted them based on the specifics of our wedding. One thing that completely saved my sanity during wedding week was this: in all of the planning I did, I pretended that my wedding was on Wednesday, not Saturday. So, even though things inevitably got pushed back a bit, I still spent most of Thursday and Friday doing fun things like getting my nails done and visiting with out-of-town family and friends and only had a few wedding details to finish up. Once Friday evening rolled around, we were all packed up and ready to rehearse!

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Another thing that really helped everything run smoothly was my amazing day-of coordinator, Kathy. Even though I felt confident in my ability to plan everything going into the wedding weekend, I cannot even begin to express how nice it was to be able to hand everything over to Kathy once the big day came. Not only did this allow me to relax and soak in the day, but it also allowed my family and friends to do the same, which made everything that much more special.

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We chose the church where we were married because it is my family’s home parish and we have a good relationship with the priest there. Jacob and I loved working with Father Gerald during our marriage preparation sessions, and because of his guidance we felt completely ready to become husband and wife. We were also lucky that the church itself is absolutely beautiful!

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Even though I felt at-ease with how everything came together, and thrilled to be marrying Jacob, it was about the time of the rehearsal when I started to feel the nerves. There wasn’t any real reason to be nervous or scared, but I think that all of the emotions of the day and the family and friends gathered around hit me all at once. Thankfully, having such dear friends and sisters in my bridal party carried me through the butterflies I felt, and they helped me to stay excited and joyful throughout the whole weekend, instead of letting my nerves get the better of me.

Reh11 Reh7 Reh5After we finished rehearsing, we made our way to the rehearsal dinner! Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures of this, but Jacob’s parents graciously threw us a wonderful party at a local seafood restaurant. After dinner, we all said our goodbyes, then Honora, Halley, and I checked into the hotel room and all snuggled up in a big king-sized bed. Although I was too tired to stay up for much, it meant the world to me to share my last night as a single woman with two of my favorite ladies, who had both been so supportive and wonderful throughout the whole wedding planning process. Thankfully, I was able to get right to sleep and got a good night’s rest – I would need it for the big day ahead!

Up next – push ups, sit ups, squats, and a hair appointment!

Visos Tie the Knot: It’s a Wolfpack Party.

WEDDING PICTURES ARE IN!!! I can’t wait to share all of the beautiful images of our wedding, but first let’s recap the pre-wedding festivities. The celebrations officially kicked off on Thursday night with a fantastic bachelorette party planned by my bridesmaids, especially my drop-dead gorgeous MOH/Sister:
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My Cousin/Bridesmaid Mary graciously hosted us at her apartment in Ann Arbor, which was the perfect setting to relive college memories and celebrate the upcoming wedding with so many of my favorite people. I am so grateful for all of my friends who traveled from near and far to support me and celebrate with me. I hadn’t seen many of these girls in over a year, so it was amazing to catch up and spend some time together before the big weekend.

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The party had a subtle Hangover theme, and Honora did a great job with getting tons of fun props and decorations, including those awesome “Wolfpack” pins. She also put together some really fun games, though unfortunately I don’t have pictures of me guessing who bought which pair of underwear for me (my competitive nature really came out during that one, and I think I guessed around 75% correctly).

One of the best parts about the wedding weekend was getting to see two of my best friends, Allie and Gab. The three of us spent tons of time together throughout college: laughing, dancing, watching Friends, going to UM football games, and quite often stuffing our faces with chicken wings and pizza rolls. For some bizarre reason, one of our favorite things to do is to have photo shoots with increasingly strange poses/faces. Even though we hadn’t seen each other in quite a while, we picked back up right where we left off with this string of gems:

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After the games were over and snacks had been consumed, it was time to head out for the night! But first, we had to take a group picture:

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And Honora and Halley had some selfies to take:

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A big reason why this party was so special was because of how personal Honora made the events. She knew that the thing I would want to do most on the night of my bachelorette party would be to reminisce over all of the wonderful times I’d had with my friends. Since many of the attendees were former UM dance majors, we traipsed over to the Dance Building on campus for some pictures and lots of laughs about our time in college.

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When it’s my turn to plan Honora’s bachelorette party, I will definitely take a cue from her and do my best to think of events that would be personal to the bride and her friends. The dance/wolfpack/photo shoot party was perfect for me, and was an awesome opportunity to create even more memories with all of my wonderful friends.

Next up: We act a bit more civilized as we rehearse for the wedding!

Broccoli, Brussels, Pecorino and Sausage Bowls

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For you paleo followers  out there, you can eat this every day. This may be one of the healthier meals you’ll eat this fall. This is very green.

I have made this twice. The first time went undocumented, and I used better sausage the first time, so I’m sorry, but this documented sausage wasn’t as good. However, you can use any sausage your little heart prefers.

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Never in my life have I bought a brussels sprouts stalk before, but this gigantic thing was $2.99 at Trader Joe’s, the same price as a tiny bag of Brussels, so i decided to go for it. Besides, it whittled down to a reasonable amount once I broke them off the stalk.

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Cut them in half, then set them aside and cook your sausage.

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While your sausage is cooking – make sure you cook it until it’s extra crispy because it gets lots of juices into the pan and tastes great that way – chop your broccoli.

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Drizzle with olive oil and garlic, toss lightly, and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes.

When your sausage is done, get it out of the pan, set it on a plate with a paper towel, and crumble it in small pieces.

Then cook your brussels in the sausage grease pan.

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When your broccoli is almost done, take some of these bad boys and put them on top, then back in the oven for 5 more minutes:

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And voila. You have a very green feast ahead of you.

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We like to eat this out of bowls.

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Serves: 2 extremely hungry big eaters, with leftovers for one big lunch

Ingredients:

Two heads broccoli

One stalk (1.5 bags?) Brussells sprouts

1/3 jar of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil

1-2 lbs sausage

Pecorino or parmesan cheese to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil to taste

Minced garlic to taste

Directions:

  1.  Cook your sausage on the stove on medium heat until extra crispy. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Meanwhile, wash your Brussels sprouts, cut off the butts, and slice them in half.
  3. Cut the stems off your broccoli until you are left with bite-sized portions, mainly crowns. Drizzle with olive oil, add minced garlic, and toss lightly. Put in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  4. When the sausage is done, take it out and place it on a plate with a paper towel. DO NOT THROW AWAY THE GREASE. Place the brussells sprouts face down in the grease and let them cook a few minutes, covered, before tossing and finishing. They should have some brown spots. If you have two many Brussels to fit in the pan on the first load, add some olive oil and do a second round. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Pull your broccoli out of the oven and put some of the sun-dried tomatoes in various places around the pan. Bake another 5 minutes or until golden and crunchy. Add salt to taste.
  6. Assemble your bowls and top with pecorino or Parmesan cheese.

Questions? Comments? Want to try a variation? Comment below.

Halley Chavey halley@eventsbythebackyard.com

Halley Chavey
halley@eventsbythebackyard.com

Grain-Free Pumpkin Chip Bread

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I could not be more cliche when it comes to my love for fall. Give me all the sweaters, all the scarves, all the boots, all the football, all the changing leaves, and especially all the pumpkin! Between pumpkin candles, homemade pumpkin spice lattes, and this delicious pumpkin bread, I’ll have turned into a pumpkin by next week. And I don’t even hate it.

Although I love all versions of pumpkin bread, this one has the added benefit of being grain-free, so you can even pretend you’re being healthy as you scarf it down! Enjoy it hot out of the oven with a cozy mug of tea (I love this pumpkin tea – I’m nothing if not predictable!).

Grain-Free Pumpkin Chip Bread

Ingredients

2 cups almond flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

6 eggs

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease large loaf pan.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients until blended.

3. Add pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and eggs and blend until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth top.

5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

6. Cool completely on wire rack.

Enjoy! What are some of your favorite fall recipes?

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Michaela Visovatti

Visos Tie the Knot!

So I know I didn’t exactly blog about the whole wedding planning process. I’m sorry. Bad blogger. Can I blame moving across the country a month before the wedding? Either way – I’m back! And married! Our professional pictures should be in any day now, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with a few guest photos and a promise to be back with some of the planning madness details!

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Michaela Visovatti (!!!) Michaela@eventsbythebackyard.com

Introducing: Mr. and Mrs. Alejandro Treviño

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of being day-of coordinators for the lovely Amanda Werley and Alex Treviño at their beautiful wedding. The ceremony was at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the reception was at The Stonegate Mansion in Fort Worth, Texas.

Amanda and her mother Debbie had done a great job of planning and organizing in the months leading up to the wedding. They came equipped with spreadsheets, labeled everything, and directed tons of great helping hands our way. That being said, this was no small wedding, so there was lots of work to do getting the reception set up!

We came ready to work, in t-shirts and shorts!

We came ready to work, in t-shirts and shorts!

Mrs. Werley and her awesome helpers

Mrs. Werley and her awesome helpers

Slowly but surely, it started to come together. Amanda wanted each table to be different, with a variety of different bird cages, lace linens, candles, tea lights, lanterns, and flowers. Her colors were deep red and purple, with white accents, so we had a nice palette to work with and each table took on its own character.

HUGE windows!

HUGE windows! This venue is gorgeous.

Centerpieces - sketching out the arrangement

Centerpieces – sketching out the arrangement

The Stonegate Mansion is aptly named, because it’s truly a mansion. There was so much going on in the rest of the rooms, outside the dance floor and dining room area.

Sign in table: Amanda and Alex have the same exact initials now that they're married!

Sign in table: Amanda and Alex have the same exact initials now that they’re married!

The "family photo nook" off of the fireplace room

The “family photo nook” off of the fireplace room

Back half of the Bar room

Back half of the Bar room

Engagement photos lining the Bar room

Engagement photos lining the Bar room

Fun for guests during the cocktail hour

Fun for guests during the cocktail hour

#AMThappilyeverafter

#AMThappilyeverafter

Meanwhile, back in the dining room, Lauren was in charge of the flower arrangements.

The artist at work

The artist at work

I was in charge of the candy table – which was to be revealed and set up after the guests had started eating dinner.

Caught red-handed

Caught red-handed: Mrs. Treviño and I love our candy

Monogrammed dance floor!

Monogrammed dance floor!

Part way through the day, we took a time out to grab a snack and check on the bride, who had just finished getting her hair and makeup done. She was very relaxed and full of smiles – the opposite of bridezilla!

with Mom and her brother Michael's girlfriend, Jessica

with Mom and her brother Michael’s girlfriend, Jessica

All eight together, in their very sweetly monogrammed shirts

All eight bridesmaids with the bride, in their very sweetly monogrammed shirts

Shortly after, both cakes arrived:

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Made by a family friend

The flowers were all real: the baker added them when she arrived at the mansion!

The flowers were all real: the baker added them when she arrived at the mansion!

Groom's cake, made by another friend of the bride (such talented friends!)

Groom’s cake, made by another friend of the bride (such talented friends!)

And, as always happens at weddings, the photographer arrived, the bride got into her dress, and everything started moving very quickly! There was a lot of rain, and in fact flooding on some of the roads around the mansion, making it difficult for the limo drivers to arrive. However, the photographer turned the library into a beautiful room for the photos while we waited for the rain to die down, and everyone got off to the church in plenty of time!

Sneak peek: the groomsmen getting their photos taken

Sneak peek: the groomsmen getting their photos taken

They left for the church, and the bride and her bridesmaids came downstairs for theirs

They left for the church, and the bride and her bridesmaids came downstairs for theirs

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Sitting pretty!

Sitting pretty!

After everyone left for the church, Lauren and I had our work cut out for us, dashing around lighting candles, letting the DJ come in out of the rain, making last minute adjustments. Of course we had time for quick pitstop at the photobooth, just to test it out:

Stunning, as usual

Stunning, as usual

The Stonegate Mansion owners, Craig and Michelle, were great hosts and helped us finalize everything in preparation for the guests arriving – from moving plants to adding extra place settings to providing some emergency candle holders. With their staff setting up the food, the candles all lit, and the lighting adjusted, the mansion took on some serious elegance.

Table with the photo slidewhow, which will later be converted to the candy table

Table with the photo slidewhow, which will later be converted to the candy table

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Alex’s mother brought the rosaries you see on the table, as gifts for the guests

Bridal party table

Bridal party table

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Dining room

Dining room

Entryway, complete with bridal portrait which was a surprise for Amanda's dad

Entryway, complete with bridal portrait which was a surprise for Amanda’s dad

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My favorite engagement photo

My favorite engagement photo

Family photo nook

Family photo nook

And then the wedding was over and the guests were arriving! Amanda wanted to make sure she and Alex got to eat, which was extremely smart, so we closed off the library and let them eat before any more photos.

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Hallway leading to the dining room, lined with tealight candles

Hallway leading to the dining room, lined with tealight candles

Since there were about 300 guests, the dining room was quickly packed.

Love the lights hanging from the ceiling.

Love the lights hanging from the ceiling.

 

First dance, happily married

First dance, happily married

After dinner, we set up the candy table.

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Lauren and I both have a weakness for hot tamales

The DJ, known as The Violin Guy, had lights attached to his violin bow, which created some green ceiling light and some crazy moving lights on the dance floor as he came out of his booth to perform.

So many dancers, the floor was overflowing!

So many dancers, the floor was overflowing!

Last, but not least, Alex’s family had arranged for a mariachi band to arrive at midnight and surprise everyone. They took the dance floor to another level!

Sorry about the terrible photo quality here!

Sorry about the terrible photo quality here!

Getting ready for the sparkler exit

Getting ready for the sparkler exit

It was a beautiful wedding and Lauren and I were so fortunate to be a part of your big day. Amanda and Alex: a huge congratulations, and many blessings on your married life!

Halley Chavey halley@eventsbythebackyard.com

Halley Chavey
halley@eventsbythebackyard.com

Kentucky Derby Party Shenanigans: Grandmom’s 75th Birthday

This was the party of the century for my family. My mom is one of eight, and we’re a loudly laughing group of 44 kids and grandkids who love spending time together. This Labor Day, we celebrated my Grandmother Sally McGrath’s 75th birthday party. She loves horses, and grew up in Louisville, KY, so we went all out on the horse theme. It was a blast.

This lovely couple is the anchor of our family.

This lovely couple is the anchor of our family.

To set the stage, we lined the walls of my parents home with photos from Grandmom’s childhood – researched, formatted, and designed by my aunt Molly. In chronological order, you could walk around from the mudroom and end up in the dining room with a fabulous photo story of her life.

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I have never seen my parents house so festive, as they went all out with the classic streamers and balloons in Grandom’s school colors, blue and white.

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The kids contributed festive homemade signs, which we taped to all the doors.

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My aunt Kelly took the cake with her Kentucky Derby vegetable display: look closely, and you can see horses running through the beans. She and her daughters drew the grandstand backdrop and had the brilliant idea to put vegetable people in the stands too.

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In case anyone’s wondering what’s for dinner…

Kids' table centerpiece

Kids’ table centerpiece

My favorite part of the whole party was the games, though. Everyone had to pick a horse name and Grandmom picked the favorite for each race based on the names.

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The Preakness race was the littlest cousins. They had to run around the house.

At the starting line

At the starting line

The Belmont was the older kids, and they had to run around the house twice – which seemed to go by way too fast.

Lining up

Lining up

Finally, the Santa Anita handicap was the adults, including people recovering from surgery, and pregnant aunt Molly! We all had to balance an egg on a spoon while running around the house, which added a lot of laughs.

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After dinner, we were entertained by a beautiful play about Grandmom’s life (written by aunt Kelly) and a fun “Dress the Jockey” game where she got all sorts of great new wardrobe pieces, some of which she donned immediately: see cap and glasses below!

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Also, we all had matching “Sally’s Sluggers” t-shirts, harking back to the Louisville Sluggers back home.

 

 

The original 8 McGrath children

The original 8 McGrath children

With a few additions

With a few additions

Two little sluggers

Two little sluggers

Grandmom's includes a roster on the back

Grandmom’s includes a roster on the back

We had a blast, and everyone got to take home a favor bag with a beautiful, brief autobiography of Grandmom’s life, complete with great stories of her childhood that nobody had heard before.

 

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Grandmom also got to take home a picture book of Churchill Downs, signed by each one of her children and grandchildren, as well as this great binder full of customized illustrations of horses for her to enjoy.

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This one is mine.

This one is mine.

It was a wonderful Sunday and this was a very happy celebration of a beautiful and inspiring woman. We love you, Grandmom!

Happy 75th Birthday, Grandmom!

Happy 75th Birthday, Grandmom!

Halley Chavey halley@eventsbythebackyard.com

Halley Chavey
halley@eventsbythebackyard.com