Our Wedding

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for so long and I’m so excited to share all the beautiful details with you all. It is difficult to explain how magical the experience was – hence the timeline of this blog post! Regardless of the timeline, the day was perfect and everything I dreamt it would be. I had an amazing vendor team, all our favorite people in one place, all our details came together perfectly, and I got to marry the man of my dreams – Seriously, the list could go on and on. 

My only complaint, it went by way too fast. #sayseverybride 

Being in the industry and submerged into the hustle of event planning as a full-time gig, I knew how fast the day would come and go. I prepared myself early on – I tried not to get too wrapped up in the details or let the planning consume me. Truthfully, I did feel pressure to have the most picture-perfect wedding. Whether that was from being a wedding planner myself or being one of that last single ladies in my crew to tie the knot. Either way, I tried to keep it light and enjoy the planning process. I also had the most incredible support from my vendors, bridesmaids, family and fiancé. Again, regardless of the pressure to have an insta-worthy wedding. I can say, after it is all said and done, no one can prepare you for how incredible it is to marry ‘your person’. All the little details flutter to the bottom of the priority list once that first look happens.  

Our Wedding Week

The week of our wedding was an even mix of relaxing and hectic as I'm sure most people experience. Jay and I decided to road trip down to La Jolla from Seattle. We had 22 hours together in a Toyota 4Runner, jam-packed with wedding decor. We passed time with murder-mystery podcasts, country music and Starbucks drive-thrus (hitting several along I5).

We spent the first few days in La Jolla organizing wedding details. Picking up alternations, stuffing welcome bags and finalizing details for our pre-wedding events. 

Once our families arrived the whirlwind began! The first gathering was on Wednesday night, two eve's before the big day. My mom hosted a welcome happy hour on that Wednesday, which happened to fall on Halloween. The following day, we had our rehearsal in the afternoon and dinner at George's at The Cove. After dinner, Jay and I hosted a welcome party at the La Valencia Hotel for all our guests. I know, it sounds like a lot of 'pre-wedding events' but I do suggest hosting a welcome gathering of some sort if you are planning a destination wedding. All the pre-wedding gatherings gave everyone a chance to meet and mingle. But most importantly, they gave Jay and I the opportunity to see all our guests before the big day.

The Wedding Day

The day started bright and early! Hair and makeup was done by Beauty by Stacey. I decided to go with a modern look with a little glam. I went with a dark lip and my hair slicked back, I kind of felt unstoppable. Ha. Once the photographers and videographers arrived the villa filled with a good chaos.

Jay and I had our first look at the hotel and that moment was everything – Like a giant rush of energy. Jay and I keep a running list of moments we have together - You know the moments when you feel butterflies or your heart skips a beat, a first kiss, the first date - You know the lovey-dovey stuff. Well, that 'first look moment' tops our list. You spend a year planning a wedding and at times, I think you get swept up in the details. The dress, the flowers, picking the colors, the party favors, the music, etc. the list goes on and on. But the moment you see the person you’re soon to marry it is so surreal and amazing all at the very same time. 

After our first look, the bridal party hopped on a historic white trolley to take photos around La Jolla. I remember taking mental photos when we were riding around on the trolley. It was so fun to have all our best friends together, dressed up and all sharing rose out of classy black solo cups!

When we arrived at the The Darlington House, I saw the hustle happening in the back of the venue. Our day-of planner and florist had it all dialed in and calmly under control. I can't explain in full appreciation how nice it was to be able to relax and let the day happen - and actually enjoy it! 

Just before 3 p.m. we lined up outside the venue, like we rehearsed the day before. My younger brother walked me down the aisle. That was a very surreal and emotional moment for me – I kind of felt like I was walking on air as I walked down the aisle to Jay. As soon as our eyes connected all my emotions were at ease. Our officiant told our love story and blessed us as we started our new chapter. We shared our vows and we had a tribute to my father played by Gemini Strings. 

After we said I do, the rest of the evening flew by. We sat down for dinner around 5:30 p.m. and enjoyed a family style menu. Our cratering team was a dream to work with. I had told them I wanted dinner to feel like a long-romantic Italian dinner party. They nailed it. The sunset fell between our last bite and starting speeches and I remember both our faces hurting from smiling and laughing so hard.

Since we had spent so much time with all our guest leading up to the wedding, I felt like Jay and I were able to actually enjoy the reception - our dinner, the drinks (specialty his and hers cocktails to be specific) and the band! To be honest, I didn’t eat any cake (other than a bite when we cut the cake!) and or a late-night slider. I guess I was too busy dancing to notice! 

We didn’t make it to the after-party, but I will say it was a day I will never ever forget.

The Dress

I wore a dress by Sarah Seven, Hotel Living. I have to note, and my bridesmaids and mothers will agree, I tried on hundreds of wedding dresses. I was almost convinced that I wouldn’t find the one, then I retried-on Hotel Living at the Dress Theory in Seattle. I knew the second I put it back on it was the dress I was searching for – classic and elegant, modern but sexy. I dropped the back and added buttons down the back of the dress. Everything else I left as is. I loved it. I wore Jimmy Choo blush sued heels. My hair piece was from BHLD and earrings from a local consignment shop in Kirkland. My day of jewelry was custom made by Rachel Brooks Jewelry. Jay surprised me with a gold band and gold bracelet with a single diamond pendant as a wedding gift. He had the gold band engraved with our wedding date 11.2.2018. One last fabulous item, I wore a pink fur cape. It was the perfect tone of pink to tie in the old Hollywood glam that I was going for. 

Jay was dressed in Hugo Boss tuxedo pants and wore a midnight blue tux jacket, and he was SO handsome! My bridesmaids wore Show me Your Mumu and Groomsmen were all in Tuxedo's from A Better Deal Tuxedo.

Our Vendors

Our day ran so smooth, thanks to all my vendors. I have such a new found respect for all wedding vendors. I can't thank ours enough for all the hard work they put in the months leading up and on our wedding day. We are forever grateful. 

Holiday Hosting Tips

It’s the holidays and the hustle and bustle can make people crazy and holiday hosting can get even more crazy. Below are some easy tips to help with holiday hosting to make sure your guest and YOU are merry!


It's All in The Details

The key to any party is nailing the details. Sometimes it's fun to twist in a theme to help create details your guests will remember. Last year, we hosted a holiday party and I decided to go with a ‘Whoville Christmas’ theme. I found bright colorful décor and decorated the main areas of the house: entryway, kitchen, bar area, living room, guest bathroom, etc.

Play into the holiday decor, have fun with it! I set out holiday candy throughout the house and make some custom signage for the bar area. Extra Christmas ornaments are always an easy way to create a decorative piece. I like to drop them into empty hurricane vases or large candy jars. Fresh garland is a nice touch as well, it makes your home smell great too. You can find fresh garland at most local trees farms, it's usually $5 per foot. The garland helps bring color and texture into the space. And it makes the whole room smell like Christmas!

Additionally, it's always fun to throw some surprises at your guests. Have someone dress up like Santa and greet everyone as they come in or bake some cookies as to-go gift on their way out. 


Make The Bar Easy

Sometimes it can become overwhelming trying to please everyone. So my best is advice is to keep the variety and selection simple, (which makes it easy on your guests as well). 

  • Wine - I try and stick to one red and one white. You don't want to over complicated it. If you are serving an appetizer that goes well with a bold red, you can always add another red to the line up. But for the most part, guest tend to stick to red blends and chardonnay. 

  • Beer - I keep things super simple here too. Select one light beer and one dark beer. Two options make it simple for everyone.

  • Spirits - This is totallypreference and it's good to know your crowd. If your hosting a larger group, it might be easiest to pre-make a cocktail. I did this one last year, it was a hit! Jingle Juice (a recipe from Baked Bree). The recipe calls for Gin, but we used Vodka and it was delicious!

If that seems like a lot, you can always cut it down and serve wine and beer. Oh, and don’t forget a few water stations or bottled water.


Communication 

Communicate with your guests! Whether it's through a digital invite (my preferred method is Paperless Post or Evite) or an old-fashioned paper invite. Make sure your guests know what is going on. Don't forget the main details like: date, time, location, parking info, attire, options for plus ones, etc. The more prepared your guests feel the more comfortable they will feel in your home. 


Don’t Forget The Snacks

Rule of thumb, if you serve booze you have to serve food. Again, I keep it simple here too and timing being key. If your party starts earlier in the evening your guest might arrive hungry or assume you are planning to feed them. If your event starts later in the evening, plan for lighter and sweeter snacks assuming guest will arrive post dinner. Either way, mixing in festive snacks are always a crowd pleaser!

Enjoy The Party

As a host, you want to actually enjoy the event. So pre-planning is very important. Complete all your details well in advance and ask for help if needed. Don't wait until the day before your event to get all your errands done. Tip: I pull together a checklist of everything I can think of, and start checking off my list five days before the event. That way there is less stress the day-of and you have more time to get ready and enjoy the party!

Happy Holidays!

Kayla

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

I love the holidays, for so many reasons. The décor, the parties, (the party planning!), the fun festive outfits and of course the holiday shopping. I’m trying hard this year not to shop for myself as I’m shopping for others – wish me luck! There are so many great things out there!

Below is a fun gift guide for all the special people in your life. All items are links so it should make shopping this year fun and easy, enjoy!

xo, Kayla

For Her

Whether you're shopping for your mom, sister or best friend these gift ideas are so perfect this year. Some of my favorite things are: Slip Silk Pillow Case, 2019 Planner and custom jewelry by Rachel Brooks Fine Jewelry.

For Him

Any male - will love these gifts! Jay wears a lot of Ted Baker and I like it because it dresses him up but it’s still casual and comfortable for him. My top picks for the guys: Ted Baker Apparel, UGG Slippers and Lululemon underwear.

The Travel Buff

These are all fantastic gift ideas for anyone who has a travel bug or lives on a plane!

The Beauty Queen

I’ve been obsessed with skin care this past year, so this was a fun category to shop for! Skincare can be tricky, since you don’t always know someone’s routine or skin type. But all the gifts below are great for all skin types! My current favs: Mario Badescu, Herbivore, Tata Harper and Bobby Brown Beach - Such an amazing scent!

Home Gifts

These items are an easy way to cozy up the house this holiday season. All great housewarming ideas too!

Holiday Decor

Again, my favorite stuff to shop for. Michaels and HomegGoods have been my go-to’s for years. But this year I’ve been finding great stuff at Crate & Barrel, Cb2 and Pottery Barn.

Hostess Gifts

These are fun and so thoughtful! Many of these little gifts are perfect for year-round hostess gifts. My personal fav - Pink Wine Stones!


Stocking Stuffers

I love shopping for stocking stuffers! I always enjoy finding cute inexpensive gifts for the people I love.

Thanksgiving Hosting Tips and Ideas!

Thanksgiving is upon us. We aren’t hosting this year, but I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes and hosting tips from last year. We are spending Thanksgiving over at Jay’s parents house, can’t wait to eat all the things! Follow my Pinterest board here for more tips and ideas.

Thanks to Woman's World, I found this cute idea for our table setting. Our house decor is pretty modern, so it was fun to twist in some traditional pieces. We set the menus at each table setting and asked our guest to write down what they were thankful for. It was a fun post-dinner activity to read them together.

I had a blast with my table setting, maybe my favorite part from last year! I mixed in fresh florals in a harvest color scheme and used a mix of modern and traditional decor - lots of gold! I found some great stuff at Crate and Barrel, CB2 and HomeGoods.

Idea inspiration from Woman's World.

Table Decor Designed By: Kayla Cook Events

Table Decor Designed By: Kayla Cook Events

Whether you're doing buffet or family style, this setup from 100LayerCake is perfect for the bar, desserts or a stationed buffet. I really like the mix of fall decor, wood and gold ascents.

Inspriation from 100layercake and their Friendsgiving shoot with Crate & Barrel.

Sparkling Cider Sangria is a great starter cocktail for your guests. It is refreshing and it's a super easy to make, which is always a perk and it looks very pretty too! (The recipe calls for cognac but we did whiskey instead and it tasted great!)

Another amazing recipe that I made last year (and will be making again this year!) is an Apple Sausage & Cranberry Stuffing. It’s not a traditional stuffing recipe. It has a ton of flavor and was pretty simple to make - You can make it gluten free as well!

More next year, happy Thanksgiving everyone!

xo, Kayla 

Recipe By: Kitchn

Recipe By:  Wicked Good Kitchen

How to Try and Stay Sane While Wedding Planning

I wrote a blog post earlier this year about the importance of hiring a wedding planner, if you haven’t read it and your engaged, start there – and then continue here. 

I hired a day-of planner and looking back I wish I would have hired a full planner from the beginning. (Again, read the post, I have a full list of reasons why). Planning a wedding is super overwhelming. For a long time, I felt like I couldn’t say that because, well – I am a planner. But the reality is, it is crazy stressful! Planners help smooth out the details and let you enjoy ‘being a bride – planning all the fun details’ part while they are the ones finalizing the contracts, organizing vendor details and juggling the logistics. Wouldn’t you rather sit back sip champagne and shop for the zillion white dress you need? Um, yes. My hand is raised. 

After we got engaged I took a few months to let it all soak in and then I jumped into planning. I felt ahead of the game, I knocked out some of the big stuff way early - I booked the venue, hired the catering team, found my florist, locked in an amazing photographer and landed a killer band. Then I over thought everything. Did I make the right decision? Did I pick the right vendor? Are my save the dates going out too late? I hit a point where I needed to stop and reflect on it all. 

I Hit Pause

After hitting pause, I let the details rest. I’ve heard rumors planning a wedding is like a part-time job (again, another reason to hire a planner). It’s crazy how many hours you can spend on Pinterest or Instagram, just scrolling thought countless wedding ideas. What I did realize early on, even with the over load of choices, I liked the feeling of doing a little at a time. That way it gave me more time to focus on the details that were important to me. It helped make the planning process feel a little less like a daunting to-do list.

Write Love Notes

Then, I wrote love notes. I loved falling in love with Jay, and I loved retelling our love story. So I started writing down little memories and giving them to Jay. It help me kick up those butterflies and give him a little love too.

A Little Spa Time

After that, I sat down and scheduled out my beauty appointments. Sounds high maintenance, but if you know me well, you know I can spa like a champion. So I made sure to schedule out a few facials and massages to gear up for the wedding but also chill myself out. 

Plan A Girls Night

I scheduled a couple girls nights. I feel like we (brides) ask SO much of our besties the year of the wedding that sometimes it feels good to go out and throw back a few cocktails and let the girl chat take over. 

Sweat

I started committing to my workouts. That ultra-thin bride body your supposed to have – Okay, I 100% feel the pressure. I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t have this feeling like everyone is expecting you to drop 10 pounds and look fabulous. Well, F. How I am I going to do that and balance work, my hectic schedule, life and all the random stuff along the way. Well, I haven’t figured out how to balance this, nor have I have dropped the 10 lbs or I am I trying too. But I have enjoyed mixing it up and committing to my workouts. I’ve been doing a lot of different classes (Class Pass is amazing for this!) and sticking to them. Helps me reduce stress and makes me feel accomplished and a little more toned. 

Listen to Mom

Lastly, advice from my mom – relax and enjoy it. She also always tells me - Life is about choices. You will realize quickly there are so many choices to make while planning a wedding. I think if you try and slow it down and really enjoy it (don’t overthink it, don’t stress about it, do a little at a time) you will be a lot less stressed along the way. 

Good Luck!

xo, k

Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping

Okay, so you found your soulmate and you set the date. Now you have to find “THE” dress. I didn’t realize how much pressure goes into finding “THE” dress, (thank god they serve champagne!). I tried on several dresses before I found my dress. I seriously lost count of how many I tired on or bridal shops I visited. I went into the whole process pretty blindly, I thought that was a good strategy. In hindsight, I wish I would have done a little research beforehand. I had a rough idea of designers and styles from working with past brides and friends but I didn’t really consider what I wanted. I’ll say one thing, finding a bridal gown can be as stressful as you make it (try not to overthink it, even though it might feel like there is a giant mountain of pressure). Below are a few friendly tips from my journey, I hope it helps you in your quest to finding “THE” dress. 

Go Early

People say you should order your dress 6 months prior to your wedding to give the designer 12-16 weeks for production and then time for alternations. It seems like a long time, but you may not find ‘THE’ dress on the first round, so doesn’t hurt to start shopping early. (Also, keep in mind you can rush order dresses but it will cost you some extra $$).

Set a Budget

This is really going to help you in your search. You can also be very upfront with all the bridal shops and ask them price ranges for their dresses. It’s good to upfront in this department both for you and the stylist. 

Request a Senior Stylist

This helped me a ton! I felt like their knowledge was on-point and very helpful when I was deciding between designers, fabrics and just overall style. 

Do Your Homework

Like I mentioned above, I wish I would have done a little research before jumping into dress shopping. There are so many types of dresses – Trumpet, Mermaid, Ballgown, Sheath, A-Line, Mini, etc. If you kind of know the style you like or look on your body it will be easier when you arrive to start picking through dresses. Also, try on dresses that you’d never typically try, some might surprise you! 

Keep the Viewing Party Small

Yes, it’s so fun to get all the bridesmaids and the mothers together but it can quickly get overwhelming with opinions and extra thoughts. Choose the group wisely!

Eat

Don’t starve yourself before your appointment. Trying on dresses is weirdly exhausting and no one loves shopping when your starving. So make sure to eat a healthy breakfast or light lunch and bring some water to wash down that champagne. 

Glam It Up

Since you will be trying on so many pretty gowns throw on some lipstick or a fun sparkly earring. Doesn’t hurt to play the part a bit. I wouldn’t recommend a full face of makeup, just a little glam to get you in the mood.

Bring Heels

I wish I did this at every appointment! Bring a pair of shoes that may be similar to what you will wear on the big day. It helps give you a little lift and idea of height in the dress. (and I think you always feel a bit sexier in a pair of heals anyways!)

Nude Undies

This is a big one, grab a pair of nude panties. You don’t want bright red or black undies showing through. Here is a great pair: Commando Thong 

Be Comfortable and Feel Fabulous

If you made it this far, here is the best tip of all and might be a bit clique but it’s soooo true. Find something that is you. Find something you feel comfortable in and something that makes you feel fabulous, sexy and like a bride. It’s an interesting combination to find, but stay true to that gut feeling. 

To help in your search, here are some of my favorite bridal salons here in the Northwest:

Good luck!!! 

Xo, 

Kayla 

10 Reasons Why Hiring a Wedding Planner Will Change Your Life

I’ll start here, I just hired a wedding planner for my upcoming wedding and I am wedding planner.  It was honestly the first thing I realized I needed when I started planning. I too felt overwhelmed with the deadlines, decisions and countless ideas. My fiancé, bridesmaids and both my mother and future mother-in-law were all extremely supportive but even with the world’s best support system I needed a direct sounding board and voice of reason – I needed a wedding planner. 

I mentioned this in a recent blog post, (read here if you missed it: Newly Engaged Planning Tips) the foundation of your planning should be focused on your guests list, budget, date, and venue; but hiring a wedding planner is a very important piece as well. 

Sure, you might have all your vendors nailed down and a rough timeline pulled together, but who will be onsite with you to help to make sure all those little details come together and everyone stays on schedule? Wedding planners are really the glue to your day. No matter the scale of their involvement, they are hired to help your wedding day and details run smoothly. 

Below are some reasons why I think hiring a wedding planner is 100% worth the investment and truly can change your life, or at least the 12 months leading up to your wedding :)

1.  Organization

A wedding planner keeps the planning process organized and stress-free. It’s our job to be detail-oriented and organized. Our main task is to keep you organized and finalize all those little details. And trust me, there are a lot of little details. 

2.  Money  

Wedding planners can save you money. (I mean, who doesn’t love saving money when planning a wedding!) Planners can offer vendor discounts, they can review your contracts and help find hidden fees and negotiate pricing. 

3.  Industry Knowledge

 Wedding planners have the connections and industry knowledge. Again, it’s our job to network with other vendors and bring you the best of the best. Whether it’s in floral, table décor or the 10-piece band. Most A-list planners will offer you their preferred vendor list with their planning package. 

4.  Experience

 Wedding planners have the experience. Planners know what they are doing. Make sure to do your research before hiring one. Look for testimonials from other couples on their website or reviews on their wedding accounts. 

5.  Personal Enjoyment

Wedding planners allow you to have life outside of planning a wedding. Everyone has a friend that planned their own wedding – remember all those tears? Planners help you enjoy the planning process and again help take the stress out of it. 

6.  Leadership

Wedding planners take the lead onsite.We are the boss day-of. Planners will take charge day-of and answer any question, solve any problem and tackle any conflict with ease. When your wedding day arrives, you will feel confident that you planner has details wrapped up and is ready to execute.  

7.  Timing

Wedding planners make sure everyone sticks to the timeline. Planners help keep everyone on schedule. Have you ever noticed a wedding planner onsite? Mostly likely not, because they are 100% behind the scenes making sure every detail from your hair & makeup being done on time, to the cake arriving on time, to policing the groomsmen’s whiskey intake to the timing of the first dance – They are they to keeping everything on schedule. 

8.  Creativity

Wedding planners help with ideas. Having someone to bounce ideas off throughout the planning process is invaluable. Especially if it’s someone who has the connections and expertise to advise you. 

9.  Vendor Management

Wedding planners can help with vendor management. Planners can handle all the communication with your vendors leading up to the event and onsite. I mean, how nice is that?

10. Budgeting

Last, but very important, wedding planners can help manage your budget. Planners can help breakdown the budget and suggest how much funds should be spent on each category. They can also help with recommendations to help you get the most bang for your buck. 

Happy planning!

Xo

Kayla  

Spring Design Ideas: Michaels New Home Décor Line

Earlier this month Michaels launched a home décor line. If you're unfamiliar with Michaels, it has been the go-to arts and crafts store for decades! Michael’s is one of my guilty pleasures for seasonal décor and crafts and this new décor line takes Michaels to a whole new level. I’m excited to share some of my favorite items. The line features everything from home décor to outdoor furniture and party supplies.

If your like me, 'spring cleaning' is on my to-do list for April so this is really perfect timing - out with the old, in with the new! (But don't tell my fiancé!)

Oh and the best part, most items are on sale and they are currently offering free shipping for orders over $49. (Visit the full store here)

Boho Desert Vibes 

For everyone that is into the uber trendy desert boho theme, they have a Desert Road Collection that offers some really great pieces to freshness up a space. I love all the accent pillows, shelving options and decor pieces. 

Fav Furniture Finds 

For furniture buffs, they have some great smaller furniture pieces. They are cost-friendly and perfect for a minimal accent piece. I really like the modern pieces and I think some gold can add a little glam to any room. 

Outdoor Party 

With spring around the corner they have some great stuff to really spruce up the outdoor patio area as well! Love the grey adirondack chairs, they have a few color options too. 

Enjoy! And happy spring :)

xo,

Kayla