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 

Wedding Trends: What's in and what's out for 2018

I always get excited this time of year when planners and florist start announcing upcoming wedding trends. Wedding trends can stick around forever (remember the Tiffany Blue?). This year, it’s purple (Ultra Violet), floral is going bold and couples are opting in for a new season to tie the knot. Keeping up with all the trends can be tough but also fun to play into the unique ideas that will be popping up in 2018. Take a peek below. Love to hear your comments!

In: Fall Wedding Dates

The verdict is in, more couples are leaning to fall wedding dates. It’s looking like September and October will be the most popular wedding months in 2018.

Out: The 2 Piece Wedding Dress

I personally loved this look in 2017, but it looks like it’s on the way out for 2018. Sad to see it go. 

In: Tropical Floral Themes

You will see this look a LOT in 2018. From place settings to full arches to the bridal bouquet. It will be big, beautiful and in full force!

Out: Succulents

Very beautiful in years past, but floral designers are moving away from the succulent décor this year.  Again, another one I am sad to see go.

In: Bold & Moody Color Tones

Like I said, Ultra Violet is the wedding color of 2018. So expect to see florist using bold colors, texture and moodier color tones like: purple, blue and grey. 

In: Romantic Boho Theme

This trend really shinned in 2017 and it is sticking around for 2018. This trend was really all about the laid-back romantic look: the flowy gowns, floral crowns and beautiful vintage furniture.

Out: Mylar Balloons

These were always my go-to décor piece for so many events, but I have to admit they are a little played out. Bye-bye big shinny balloons (fingers crossed it comes back in… 2022?!)

In: Vintage Table Décor

Yup, still in for 2018. I love seeing couples mix and match their table settings with vintage pieces. It really adds some dynamitic and timeless touches. You might see softer vintage pieces this year like lighter colored glass mixed with colored candles.

In: Smaller Weddings

Have you heard the new term, ‘Microwedding’'? Seems like couples might be opting into hosting a more intimate gathering rather than a 200 person shindig. The microwedding guest list will consist of family, close friends and the bridal party. Think 30 max, tiny. Learn more at PureWow.com.

Out: Donuts

We saw tons (and ate tons!) of donuts in 2017. Cake anyone?

In: Cakes too pretty to eat!

Okay, so this was in last year too. But you will see more of it and even more delicate cakes popping up. I personally love it, I love a traditional wedding cake and why not make it too gorgeous to eat!

In: Long Sleeve Wedding Dresses

You might have guessed that from the fall wedding trend but you will see more brides in long sleeve this year. Some of my favorite designers are playing into the trend: Sarah Seven, Hayley Paige and FLORA.