Wedding Recap: The Reception

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After the ceremony, we had a few hours before our reception was set to begin. We used this time to take a bunch of fun pictures all around Downtown Detroit with our bridal party. Eric says this was one of his favorite parts of the day because it was so relaxed, and we just got to hang out with our best friends.

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After our picture extravaganza, we made our way to the Colony Club. We only looked at a few venues when we were wedding planning, but I could not have been happier with what we chose. The Colony Club has such an elegant, vintage feel to it and it made for an absolutely beautiful reception. We arrived as our cocktail hour was ending, so our Banquet Manager led us up to the two private “Bride” and “Groom” suites to enjoy some hors d’ouerves and champagne before we joined our guests. As I mentioned before, this was one of my favorite parts of the night. It was so nice to just spend a little extra time with my four best friends before all of the excitement of the reception began.

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Before we knew it, it was time to be announced as “Mr. and Mrs. Jones.” We had our band play Thunderstruck by ACDC as an homage to Michigan State Football, as this song is blasted through Spartan Stadium at the start of each game. Eric and I then cut our delicious cake. We had four different flavors scattered throughout the tiers: white cake with strawberry mouse, yellow cake with chocolate mousse, chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse, and my favorite: chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse

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Sadly, this was the only bite of cake I had all night! Having good food was Eric and my number one decision when picking a wedding venue, but oddly enough, the food was the last thing I thought about all day. We ate as much of our dinner as we could, but we were far too excited to really sit down and eat our whole meal. But from what I can remember, our duo plate of filet and parmesan crusted halibut was delicious!

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Eric’s brother, Mike gave a great Best Man speech, and LT gave the sweetest Maid of Honor toast that made us laugh and cry. She shared memories of our days playing dress up and watching Say Yes to the Dress, and how we have kind of been planning this wedding since day one. LT has been by my side for as long as I can remember and it was so wonderful to hear her share our memories of growing up and how it all led to meeting my groom. She is the sweetest, best friend a girl could have.

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Soon it was time for our first dance. I have been a huge music lover my entire life, and I always loved dissecting song lyrics and finding ones that fit specific moments in my life. So one of the nicest parts of wedding planning, was picking a first dance song that fit us perfectly. When we first met, we bonded over our mutual love of Frank Sinatra, so we knew one of Old Blue Eyes’ songs was a must. We listened to all of our old favorites, but when we stumbled upon an old version of “It Had to be You”, we knew we had found the one. Eric and I both didn’t date too much before we met each other. In fact, neither of us had dated anyone for more than a couple of months before we met. I like to think that we just didn’t fit with anyone but each other. Thus, “It had to be you” has become our song.

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Next, I had a special dance with my dad. My dad owns every single Jimmy Buffett album and made sure that my brother and I grew up as loyal Parrotheads. And though Jimmy Buffett is known for “Margaritaville” and “Fins,” he has some beautiful ballads as well. One of which is called Delaney talks to Statues. When I was 12 or 13 I remember going through a tough time with the common woes of middle school. To cheer me up, my dad wrote the lyrics of this song in a letter to me, and it is still something I cherish today. It surprised me how much a song that Jimmy Buffett wrote for his daughter could sound like my own dad had written it just for me. It has always been really special to my dad and I, so of course we had to use it for our dance. We danced and sang every word of our song, which made it one of my most vivid memories from our wedding day.

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Next, Eric danced with his Mom to “In My Life” by the Beatles. Eric and his mom have always been very close, and it was so nice to watch them share a special moment together. It is so easy to see that many of the wonderful qualities that make Eric who he is came right from his mom. You can’t help but love these two.

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After all of the official wedding activities were done, it was time to dance! We saw our band, Skyline and the Backstreet Horns, at a friend’s wedding and knew we wanted to have them at ours. They played a great mix of contemporary songs, Motown hits, and beautiful slow songs. And my mom and Eric were absolutely thrilled that they played their favorite song “Happy.” These two love this song so much and have deemed it “their song.” So cute! Everyone was up dancing late into the night, which was absolutely perfect.

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And with that, our wonderful wedding day came to a close. It was so full of amazing memories and fun and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.

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Wedding Recap: Our Ceremony

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Shortly after Eric and I got engaged, we decided to get married at St. Paul Catholic Church. I went to grade school at St. Paul Catholic School, and spent hours of my childhood in that beautiful church.It was the church I was baptized in, had my first communion and confirmation, and even had my 8th grade graduation. It was really important to me to get married there, and Eric was sweet enough to be on board with the idea. But in order to assure that both of our faiths were represented, we had Eric’s close family friend and pastor co-officiate the ceremony. It was perfect. Eric and I are pretty traditional and chose to not see each other before I walked down the aisle. It made me even more anxious to get out there and see my groom!

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Since the boys were already at the church, our limo went back to my parents’ house to pick me and my bridesmaids up. We saw the boys on the side of the church as we pulled up, but we were safely hidden inside. It was so fun to sit with my girlfriends and watch all of our guests arrive right before our ceremony was set to begin. Soon enough my Auntie Karol, who was helping pass out programs, came to get me and my bridesmaids and bring us into the church. I waited in the back of the church with my best girlfriends, my parents and Eric’s parents as the organist began to play the processional songs. I waited as Eric’s parents, my mom and then my bridesmaids, each went down the aisle one by one.

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And then Canon in D began to play, and I knew it was our cue.

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My dad and I have always been close so I had both looked forward to and dreaded this moment for as long as I can remember. I knew walking down the aisle arm and arm with my Pa would be incredibly emotional, and it definitely was. But as soon as I caught a glimpse of Eric, any nervousness I had vanished. I had known I was going to marry Eric only a few short weeks after meeting him nearly 5 years ago, yet it was hard to believe that that moment was already here.

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We reached the front of the aisle and my dad, Eric and I had a special moment to ourselves before my dad kissed us both and sent us the rest of the way down the aisle.

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Eric and I sat on the alter with Eric’s Best Man and brother Mike, and my Maid of Honor, LT. And then my cousins Lauren and Meghan  and Eric’s cousin, Katie read the scripture passages we chose for the ceremony. We were also lucky enough to have my cousin Kristen as our soloist for the ceremony. Kristen has sung at a number of weddings and was absolutely incredible with planning the music and singing for our entire ceremony.

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After the readings were done, Pastor Paul preached a beautiful sermon. And then the Deacon called us up to the alter as he blessed our wedding rings. It was then time for our vows.

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We chose to say the traditional wedding vows, because we both felt there was something really special about repeating the same wedding vows that our parents, grandparents and so many other couples that we look up to said at their own weddings. After we exchanged our rings, it was time for our first kiss as Mr. and Mrs. Jones.

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We then turned to face our family and friends sitting in the church and I was overwhelmed by all of the love in the room. It was wonderful to see all the people we loved sitting together in front of us, cheering us on. We then went down to the pews to hug our families as all three of my cousins sang “How Beautiful” from the choir loft.

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I vaguely remember giving my mom, dad and Grandma a hug, but one of my clearest memories from the day is when I made my way over to my brother. Sean is the type of older brother that every girls wants.  He is protective, caring and incredibly supportive. He has taught me so many things over the years and absolutely always has my back. And on my wedding day, just like every other day, he was my Best Man. We gave each other a long hug in that pew, and managed to squeeze out a quick “love you” before it was time for the final part of the ceremony. The Deacon and Pastor Paul officially announced us as Mr. and Mrs. Jones!

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Wedding Recap: Getting Ready

April 26th, 2014 was without a doubt, one of the best days of my life. I married the love of my life surrounded by family and friends. It can’t get much better than that! So in an effort to keep the memories from that day fresh, I thought I would share them here. I hope you all don’t mind a short break from the recipes, but I promise that the next few posts will be just as sweet!

I woke up bright and early that day because I was just too excited to sleep. My mom and I had hair appointments at 8:00am, but since we were both too excited to sleep, we had the chance to sit and chat over a cup of coffee. I loved that we could just sit and sip our coffee together and discuss the excitement that was to come. It was the perfect start to the day. I had my hair and makeup done, and eventually, my beautiful Maid of Honor LT, joined us at the salon to get her own hair done. The three of us then went back home to my parents house, and my other bridesmaids began to arrive.

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I was so lucky to be surrounded by my 4 best friends in the world. These girls all entered my life at different times, but they all are more like sisters than friends. LT, Annie, Lo and Leona are the best friends a girl could ask for and it meant so much to have them by my side for such a special day.

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I gave each of the girls a champagne glass with their initial, as we had to have a little something special to drink our mimosas from. We chatted and drank our mimosas as the photographers arrived.

Before I knew it, it was time to get into the dress! I had tried on 10 or 15 other dresses before I found the right one. It wasn’t anything like what I had initially looked for, but it was the first dress that I really felt like myself in, so I knew it was “the one.”

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For my shoes, I bought some satin peep toe wedges. But the finishing touch was a pair of emerald green clip on earrings that my mom found at an estate sale.

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My mom, LT and Annie had all accompanied me to my dress fittings and had watched the dress shop owner lace up the somewhat elaborate back.

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However, they couldn’t quite seem to get the ribbons to lay flat. So, as I mentioned before, my boys had to step in.

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I may be the only bride in history whose dad and brother got her into her wedding dress, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was such a funny moment, and something I will always remember. After I was ready, we took some family photos. It was important to me to take these pictures at my parents house, because I loved the idea of having pictures taken where we had had so many family Christmases, birthdays, and Monday night dinners. It was, and always will be “home.”

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My brother and I

 

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Our little foursome

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Me and my Pa

 

 

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My mom and I

 

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Next, LT and I took some pictures outside of our houses. We spent most of our early days running back and fourth between our two houses, and always joked that we spent more time in the middle of the street than at either of our houses. We even have a few pictures from grade school in our dress up clothes of old bridesmaid dresses, so it only seemed fitting to have a few pictures taken in the same setting, along with LT’s little sister Marybeth.

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LT, Marybeth and I

Meanwhile, the boys were already at the church taking a few photos of their own.

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Soon enough it was 2:30 and it was time to get married!

 

Breakfast Cookies

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I’ve never been particularly good with change. I was that delightful child who cried at the beginning and the end of every school year. My poor parents. I have always been someone who has thrived on a set routine, so any major life change typically throws me for a loop. When most of my peers looked forward to high school and college with excited anticipation, I was busy mourning the loss of the  current state of life that I’d just gotten used. And though I looked forward to the new chapters in my life, I still dreaded the changes that those looming graduation days brought. I hated the thought of saying good bye to precious parts of my life that encapsulated the current season of life- be it a hobby, a job, or a friendship, I was always scared of what would happen if that goodbye turned out to be permanent. Even when unhappy phases of life came to a close, I still feared what would happen next. When I left my first full time job, a job that was marked by stress and anxiety, I still left with a slight sense of regret. Because I didn’t know what would happen next. Yet here I am, only a a week away from the biggest life change I’ve ever experienced, and there isn’t a trace of sadness or dread in my temperament. I can’t wait to begin my married life with Eric. I can’t wait to experience the ups and downs and the changing tides of our life together. I’m excited to make plans for the future, but change them as we go. Because we’ll be partners in it all, and that is pretty fantastic.

But luckily, the best parts of my current phase of life, get to come with me in my next chapter as a “Mrs.”One of which is going over to my Mom’s house and spending the afternoon chatting and baking. We made these breakfast cookies last weekend as a nice little break from wedding planning, and I realized that baking with my mom has been something I’ve carried with me through each phase of life. From the time I was a 1st grader standing on a stool to help her make cookies, to the times I came home for weekends in college to cook dinner, time in the kitchen with my mom is ever present. And though I’m excited for changes to come, this is one thing I am so happy will never change.

These “cookies” are so healthy you could easily eat them for breakfast, but they are definitely sweet enough for dessert. They include entirely wholesome ingredients and are incredibly addicting.

Ingredients: Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, Makes 24 cookies

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 fig butter (The original recipe calls for apple butter, but since we couldn’t find any apple butter, we substituted with fig butter found at Trader Joe’s and it was delicious)
  • 1 large banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried raisins

Preparation:

  1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until just combined
  2. Place tablespoons of batter onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 for 15 minutes

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Chicken Parmesan Burgers

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Once the last present has been unwrapped and the last Christmas cookie has been eaten, I can’t help but feel a little sad. I look forward to Christmas all year, so once the season comes to a close I’m usually hit with a dose of post Holiday blues. But it always helps getting over the blues when you have something to look forward to. And 4 years ago, I had something pretty exciting to look forward to on December 26th. A first date. And not just any first date, but a first date with my good friend Eric. He came out to my hometown to see me and didn’t even ask for directions. I found this very impressive. And when he arrived at my house, he didn’t call or text me from his car, but he actually came to the door to pick me up. My dad and brother found this very impressive. I was so excited to be going out with Eric that I really didn’t put much thought into where we should go to dinner. So when he asked me where I would like to go, I picked the closest restaurant to my house. And the food was terrible. But Eric didn’t mind and we had a great time anyway. In fact, at the end of the night I had a feeling that it would be my last “first date.” And I was right. And this year, my post Christmas blues has been appeased by the fact that in a few short months I get to marry my best friend. So on this Friday after Christmas I thought I would share a meal that I recently made for Eric which far surpassed the crappy burgers we ate on our first date. I found this recipe for Chicken Parmesan Burgers on Courtney’s blog Sweet Tooth Sweet Life. And I gotta say, it is probably the best dinner recipe I have ever found on the blog world. The burgers are full of flavor and will definitely be a repeat meal for us. And they are also incredibly easy to whip up. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 4 burgers, Recipe from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life

  • 1lb. ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 4 Hamburger buns

Preparation:

  1. Place first 7 ingredients (chicken through Italian seasoning) in a large bowl and mix until well incorporated
  2. Divide chicken mixture into 4 equal sections and form into 4 patties
  3. Place each patty on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12 minutes, flipping burgers after 6 minutes
  4. Spoon 1 additional tablespoon of marinara sauce on each burger and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of shredded mozzarella cheese, and let bake for an additional minute, or until cheese melts

Engagement Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes

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Memories are a funny thing. Some fade away instantly, falling into the corners of the mind as soon as the moment is gone. Others come back as fragmented pieces, allowing you to recall an event or a time, but leaving the details behind. And then there are the memories that stick with you. Perfectly preserved, as clear as the moment they happened. Like everyone else, I have my share of all three of these types of memories. But it is those few perfectly clear ones that seem to have had the most impact. One of my clearest memories occurred three yeas ago. It was a small moment between my Grandparents, my cousins and I, but it’s one I recall nearly every day. My grandparents were more in love than any pair I’ve ever known. They have the type of love story that you read about in books, the type of story that everyone hopes to have. And I remember, as clear as the moment it occurred, a speech my Grandma gave to her five grandchildren about the bond they shared. It was Christmas of 2009 when my Grandma shared her hopes for us. She looked adoringly at her husband, like she always did and said “This is what I want for all of you. For you to find someone that you love this deeply, and have this much fun with. I hope each of you finds your best friend to share your life with. Because when you find this… it is when your life really begins.” Her small speech struck me. Because although I never really considered myself a romantic, the words she spoke resonated with me, because I knew that is what I hoped for too. And then, much to my chagrin, a friend came to mind. Someone I had just met a few months earlier, but was quickly becoming quite smitten with. His name was Eric and even after a few months of knowing him it was clear that he was one of the kindest people I had ever met. I had never really felt quite as comfortable or at ease than when I was with my new friend Eric. And it wasn’t long after that night with my grandparents that it became clear that he was that best friend that my Grandma had described. People always say that when you meet your match you just know. Before Eric, I wasn’t quite sure if I believed that. I thought those amazing love stories were just for a lucky few, and for some reason I wasn’t quite sure if I would find that type of love. But after mere weeks of knowing this kind, generous man, I just knew that in Eric, I’d found my home. And after three wonderful years together, Eric asked me to be his wife. On the Friday before Christmas, he took me to Campus Martius in downtown Detroit, and proposed in front of the biggest, most beautiful Christmas tree around.

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We were standing in front of the tree, and Eric told me to look up at the lights. When I looked back at him, he was down on one knee with a ring in his hand. I was shocked and elated and immediately said “Yes!” He then surprised me yet again, by having both of our families meet us downtown to share such a special night with us. It was truly a night I will never forget.

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And since every New Year’s Eve we often celebrate the new year with  bottle of champagne, I thought Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes would be the perfect dessert to celebrate this new step in our lives. The cupcakes have a subtle champagne flavor and are the perfect dessert when topped with a touch of cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 36 mini cupcakes, recipe from The Cupcake Diaries

  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1/2 cup champagne
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/4 cup milk

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a mini cupcake pan with 36 cupcake liners
  2. In a small bowl, soak diced strawberries in champagne and set aside
  3. In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients together (flour through salt) and set aside
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until soft and creamy
  5. Add eggs, one at a time to butter mixture
  6. Combine vanilla, vanilla bean seeds and milk in a large liquid measuring cup, set aside
  7. Add one third of flour mixture into butter mixture and beat until well incorporated. Follow by adding one third of the milk mixture. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk mixture into batter until all is well incorporated
  8. Drain the strawberries of excess champagne and pat lightly with a paper towel
  9. Gently fold strawberries into cake batter until well mixed.
  10. Scoop batter into cupcake pan and bake for 10 minutes
  11. To make frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together until well incorporated
  12. Slowly add powdered sugar to butter mixture until all is well incorporated
  13. Stir in vanilla
  14. Use a pastry bag to pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes

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Grandpa’s Cherry Chocolate Cookies

To me, every food seems to incite a certain memory.  When I smell my Mom’s beef stroganoff, I will always think of my brother and how we ate it for every one of his birthdays growing up. And when I … Continue reading