nrw – the imperial

earlier this month we finally got around to resurrecting nrw after a brief hiatus and kicked things back off at the imperial in decatur.  eric, claire, kari, phillip, and i met up at this local spot after being inspired by good day atlanta’s coverage of the restaurant during atlanta burger week.  buck langford was lucky enough to get to meet with owner aj and try the winning mac attack burger live on camera, and it was then i knew we just had to be there.

the imperial is located in what appears to be a somewhat tucked away and quiet part of town, but when we actually got to the restaurant, it was quite alive with customers of all kinds, from families with kiddos and dogs to singles enjoying half-priced bottles of wine to friends just catching up over good food.  it really feels like a “come as you are” place.

our group was seated just inside the main entrance, which gave us a great view of each other and our surroundings.  the imperial is nice and open both inside and out on its patio.  the bar is well-stocked and would be a perfect place to belly-up for a beer, some eats, and tv watching.

after being served a few pints of local drafts, the poutine eric and claire ordered for the table arrived.  now, i don’t know about you, but i’ve never in my life heard of poutine, and to the ears it first sounds like maybe a fancy french dish, right?  wrong, lol!  no joke, i looked up what poutine is and the definition i found was “a dish of french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy.”  not so fancy after all!  😀  however, a dish doesn’t have to be fancy to be delicious, and that could not have been more true of the imperial’s take on this dish.  their poutine actually has pimento cheese in place of cheese curds because, you know, in the south pimento cheese is quite the staple.  and our order of poutine was even more delectable because we opted to add the diced up bacon because if you’re going to be bad, why not go all the way?

POUTINE.

in fact, eric and claire were so happy with the poutine that they ranked it first out of everything they ate that night!  in their words it was simply “AMAZING.”

claire & eric.

we hungry kids scarfed up that poutine in no time, leaving some room for our actual dinners.  making the rounds, we’ll start with kari who ordered the plain burger and topped it with cheddar cheese and bacon.  as far as a basic burger goes, she said it was very good and a “SOLID” choice for those of you who prefer to build your own burger.  all in all, she enjoyed a great meal that night.

Continue reading

the wedding chronicles | decisions #25 – #32

for those of you who over the past year have been keeping up with the wedding chronicles, you might have wondered where i went for the past couple of months.  well, i went right into the busiest part of wedding planning, that’s where i was!  as such i neglected my posts but am choosing to catch up now.  and even though we are now happily married (for two whole weeks in fact – wooh!), better late than never.  🙂  thank you for joining us on this journey!

decision #25 – the engagement session

after we decided on our photographers for the wedding, the next step with them was to schedule our engagement session.  now, i originally had no desire whatsoever to do an engagement photo shoot, and many of you probably are asking “why?”  well, i personally have never loved getting my photo taken, and the thought of being dragged around for hours and being placed and posed for lovey-dovey photos by someone we don’t know sounded quite undesirable in all honesty.  however, many former brides in my life told me that my reasons for not wanting an engagement session are the reasons exactly why we should have an engagement session.  come again?

see, everyone’s logic (that i ended up accepting as truth after going through it all myself) was that the engagement session is an opportunity to get comfortable with your photographers and start getting to know them.  after all, they do follow you around your entire wedding day, so developing a relationship with them isn’t a bad idea.  another reason an engagement session is worth the while is because it provides a chance for you and your significant other to get used to being all “lovey-dovey” in front of a camera and having someone there to capture that moment.  okay, i guess i can get on board with that reason as well.  and the final reason?  well, for us it was included in the cost, so why the heck not.

so back in november one early saturday morning we met up with our main photographer lisa at ponce city market.  pcm wasn’t too crowded just yet, so lisa worked with us quickly to take advantage of the typically busy and bustling scenery.  the first several photos on the staircase, as it would turn out, were a bit awkward.  i more so than phillip really didn’t understand how to pose and be cuddly with someone else there, and i wasn’t crazy about the first probably 20 photos in the portfolio, which is exactly what worried me in the first place.

thankfully, though, i’d say we hit a better spot as we walked along the beltline and acted more naturally towards each other.  those photos i could look at all day.

and then we had some more close-up, intimate shots now that we were in a bit of a groove.  i think phillip favored these more than me, but i’ll admit there are several i do like.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

my absolute favorites are from when after we had an outfit change and were now really enjoying ourselves.  mm, what a good looking pair!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

all in all, i’d say that even though i was first very skeptical about the engagement session, phillip and our photographer helped me see the value and fun in it.  and even though i wasn’t too sure about the results at first, i have come to love these high quality results and the sweet moments they captured.

Continue reading

the wedding chronicles | decisions #23 and #24

THE REGISTRY & THE WEBSITE

as you may already know, phillip and i have big plans for our honeymoon in punta cana, and considering we are in major crunch mode (only twelve days to go!), the thought of being on a beach with a margarita and guacamole within reach is sounding utterly divine.  now, although all our family and friends won’t necessarily be joining us on the honeymoon, many of you are still a part of it because of your generous contributions to our honeyfund, and we cannot thank you enough!

now, there may be some folks out there who are unfamiliar with exactly what a honeyfund is.  well, a honeyfund is a great traditional registry alternative for those couples who either already have everything they need or simply want to be a bit unique.  i first heard about a honeyfund when my cousin kate married kenny last year, and what you can do is donate funds to their dream honeymoon.  kenny and kate are currently on a northwestern roadtrip of california, oregon, and washington and, as i understand, are having a fabulous time.  so, instead of needing new pots or pans or plates, for example, guests could donate money to, say, their gas fund for the trip or maybe a night in a nice hotel.  kinda make sense?

well, if any of you know phillip and me, you know that our condo is pretty much filled to the brim with everything we need.  as a couple in their late 20s and having lived together for over two years, we’ve acquired many of the home goods that are necessary in our lives.  as such, i was quite hesitant to get the price gun out and start shooting up all sorts of random knick knacks and kitchen tools at the local department store.  now, the wedding, the registry, and certainly the marriage are not only all about me, so phillip and i had several discussions and eventually were able to compromise in this regard.

first, he was fond of the idea of still registering for some actual gifts.  so, we took two sundays to visit the local bed bath & beyond store and build a registry that i think and hope is not too demanding or over-the-top.  we tried very hard to be practical but also kept in mind that certain items could be added to the list since we hope to be a growing family sometime in the future.  and even though it isn’t easy for me to ask people for gifts, eventually i was able to agree that a registry is a convenient opportunity to upgrade some older items.

after completing our traditional registry, phillip also spun up our honeyfund site where our guests, if they feel so inclined, can contribute any amount to our honeymoon in the dominican republic.  although “writing a check” may not feel as personal to our guests, believe me when i say phillip and i are just as appreciative of this kind of gift.  we will certainly be in desperate need of fun and relaxation after all the planning and preparation, and we couldn’t do it without you all.

after phillip created the site with the basic information, he asked if i’d like to update it with all sorts of fun and interesting facts, like where phillip and i met, how he proposed, how i said “yes,” who our bridesmaids are, who our groomsmen are, so on and so forth.  i paused in contemplation and then as politely as i could i replied, “you know, we’ve got so much else to do for the wedding.  can we put that on the ‘b’ list of to-do items?”  i think phillip could hear what i wasn’t explicitly stating (which was that embellishing our honeyfund site was very low on my priority list), and so he thankfully took it upon himself to add a few details about the wedding, update the template to something tropical, and call it a day.  in my opinion, sometimes less is more and i am grateful i have a partner who can help me focus on the things that are most important.  🙂

the wedding chronicles | decision #22

THE TABLE & SEAT ASSIGNMENTS

now that most everyone has mailed back their rsvp cards, it’s time to get crackin’ on those table and seat assignments!  i’ve been to receptions where there have been assigned seats, assigned tables, or no assignments at all, which i think covers the entire gamut of what is available.  i personally prefer at least assigned tables, because the last thing i would want for our guests is them scrambling to save a seat or fighting to add another chair to an already full table.  no one wants that kind of animalistic discord at their reception, right?  right!  especially when it is avoidable with a few simple seating charts.

it actually is working out in our favor for the reception because the venue requires that each guest have at least a table assignment and, if we so choose, a seat assignment.  how nice when things fall into place like that!  there are a few tables that will intentionally have assigned seats, but all other guests will simply be assigned to a particular table and then can choose their seat from there.  part of the reasoning behind the assigned tables is simply to keep organized.  the other part, which i like most, is that if someone doesn’t have a table assignment card and isn’t on our guest list (aka they didn’t rsvp at all or rsvp’ed “no” and then decided to make a guest appearance), then they so nicely get to stand aside and cannot enter the reception until the “authorities” get permission to let them into the ballroom.  this is why sending your rsvp in a timely manner is important, people!  we brides and grooms have a lot on our plates in these last few weeks before the big day, and the more we can do ahead of the time, the saner we will be.  so, if you’d like a spot at the dinner table, you better let us know!

anyway, now that i’m off that soapbox, the next thing to do is figure out who is going to sit where.  our guest list naturally has certain categories like immediate family, extended family, childhood friends, college friends, work friends, family friends, so on and so forth.  for many of those groups, it makes sense to potentially sit people with people they already know.  that would be easy, right?  but don’t you think that, for example, your work people see each other all the time and might like to get to know other guests at your big day?  i think so!  i certainly think the table assignments are a great opportunity to mix things up, so don’t be surprised if we seat you with someone you might not know.  now, if this doesn’t really sound like it is up your alley, please keep two things in mind.  first, it’s our wedding and we’ll seat people wherever we like.  🙂  second, you won’t be at your table all night.  dinner is only part of the party we have planned for you, so you’ll most certainly have the opportunity to visit your friends at the bar, on the dance floor, etc…at the end of it all, what we want more than anything is for our guests to have a unique, fun experience on our wedding day, and we look forward to bringing all of that to you in just 25 days.  can’t wait to see you there!

the wedding chronicles | decision #21

THE FOOD

Hello, all!  It’s Kelsey’s dad again, back to share with you thoughts of the recent menu tasting for Kelsey and Phillip’s upcoming wedding.

First of all let me start with this:  I was honored and flattered to be invited to this event.  Since Kelsey is my only daughter I have never been to a wedding  menu tasting before.  As such I had no idea what to expect.  From my position, though, everything turned out terrifically!

Setting the Stage

As you might know, the wedding is going to be in Peachtree City, GA.  There were three of us at the tasting, Kelsey, Phillip, and me.  Prior to the actual tasting I suggested that the two of them “narrow the field” of what we would be trying, and for the sake of this post I am going to focus on the entree options.  At the beginning I believe there were approximately 20 entree options.  This is way too many options for me!  Kelsey and Phillip narrowed the entree options down to six.  Thank you, both!  Phillip designed, printed, and brought “score sheets” for us to rank the entree options.  Thank you, Phillip.  This helped me greatly to focus and stay on course.  Jena at the Manor, for lack of a better description, runs the Manor.  Jena’s dad owns the Manor.  She was at the tasting and provided descriptions of each dish, sharing various dining etiquette protocol, for example, for each sample.  Thank you, Jena.  However, I have been sworn to secrecy and will not share any specific details for any menu items you will enjoy at the reception.

Entree Tasting

Jena brought out and shared ingredient information about each entree option.  She also shared the preparation details for each.  This was very, very helpful.

My Role

I saw my role as a sort of “tie-breaker.”  If Kelsey and Phillip were tied on an entree, then and only then would I share my vote, comments, etc…In my opinion, the menu selections were ultimately Kelsey and Phillip’s decisions.  The only point that I would have stepped forward on was the type of entree selection.  I thought options would be a good idea.  I would have said “no” to two chicken entrees.  I would have said “no” to two meat entrees, etc…As it finished, Kelsey and Phillip decided on two different types of entrees, and you will love them both!

Suggestions

I have never been part of a wedding menu tasting, so I learned a lot.  Jena had a great sense of humor that really, really helped.  If you are planning or have scheduled a wedding menu tasting I would STRONGLY suggest the following, which Kelsey and I have talked about on many occasions:  INVITE/TAKE THE FEWEST NUMBER OF PEOPLE POSSIBLE.  You don’t want an entire posse with you for the menu tasting.  The bride and groom are under enough pressure already and do not need 10 different tasting opinions to muddy the decision-making process.  The fewer people the better.  My suggestion would be the bride, groom, and father of the bride.  🙂

Speaking of father of the bride…Jena, bless her heart, during the tasting mentioned that on the wedding day the father of the bride (that would be me) “is a celebrity at the event.”  Guilty as charged, this is the last thing I needed to hear!  Kelsey has already given me very strict instructions as to what to say, what not to say, etc…And even though I will have a microphone at the wedding, I promised Kelsey that I would not do anything to offend or embarrass her.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the menu tasting and hope that this blog helps you if you are invited to a wedding menu tasting.

the wedding chronicles | decision #20

THE DRINKS

a lot of folks say there are three key things that make a great wedding:  the music, the food, and the drinks.  with the music already covered and the food chosen as well (more on that later), the beverage situation also had to be discussed with the reception venue.  now, i’m not saying that in order to have a great reception that alcoholic beverages are a must, but the general culture of our family and friends is that we like our drinks and we like to keep ’em comin’!  so the question on this one wasn’t “are we going to have drinks?” – it really was “what kind of drinks and how many shall we have?”

after deciding adult beverages were a must-have for the reception, for us it really came down to what we could afford.  now, i think we’re luckier than most in that we are getting exactly what we want as far as the drink menu goes, and the reason i say that is because alcohol can get expensive, and very quickly!  what you will find out if you haven’t already is that many venues have a drink (and also food) minimum, and that number is often higher than you’d expect.  some venues might have a reasonable beer and wine menu (which i think these days is more than enough for your guests), but the second you throw in hard liquor that cost can jump up, which is understandable if you think about it.  if your venue doesn’t offer beverage services, another option you might encounter that i think is intimidating at first but actually pretty cool is the venue that is byob.  the reason i say intimidating at first is because it might be hard to fathom how you will figure out how much booze to buy for your guests.  it’s never happened to me, but i imagine the bar running out of booze could be a quick buzzkill for any reception.  however, do not worry because there are several ways you can “calculate” how much each guest will likely drink and from there determine how much to buy in total.  i’ve even heard that if you buy, say, a case of beer from costco but don’t open it that you can return it.  well, that’s pretty awesome!

my overall suggestion in this regard to any couples planning their wedding would be to only do as much as you want and as much as is comfortable in your budget.  sure, what guest wouldn’t want top shelf this and barrel-aged that?  but if the feel of your reception is something more casual (think a backyard bbq with coolers of local brews) or unique (i’m still hoping i’ll get to go to a brunch reception with bottomless mimosas and bloody marys), then do you!  remember, your wedding day is a reflection of you and the things that make you happy, which might not necessarily jive with all your guests.  but at the end of the day, it’s not really about the drinks anyway, right?  😉

the wedding chronicles | decision #19

THE GIFTS/FAVORS

to an extent it feels almost impossible to properly thank the people who will attend your wedding.  they’ve likely known you and your fiance as individuals but also together as a couple, and they have hopefully been a positive influence in your lives.  more than moral support and late night phone calls, these folks are taking time out of their busy schedules to spend their hard-earned money on flights and rental cars and hotel rooms and gifts and new outfits so that they can be with you to celebrate on your big day.  and when you put it that way, it only seems appropriate to figure out a way to thank them for all they have done.

having been to my fair share of weddings, i’ve undoubtedly seen a wide variety of guest gifts and favors.  one of the more popular trends these days is a packed gift box you receive upon checking into the hotel for the wedding weekend.  these parcels typically include a sweet note, favorite treats of the bride and groom, handmade tokens, and sometimes even souvenirs from the couple’s most beloved local spots.  i have been the fortunate recipient of a few boxes and bags such as these and am quite grateful and flattered when i unpack the generous contents, especially after a long night of dancing and drinking, at that most critical moment when a hand-picked goodie is just the ticket!

when phillip and i first started brainstorming favor ideas, this one seemed like as good an idea as any, and we were very quickly able to put together a list of items that would perfectly represent us to our guests.  however, there were two big hurdles we just couldn’t cross.  first, although it might not be a large cost to put together one bag with, say, five items, think about multiplying that cost by 100 or even 200.  and there isn’t just the financial cost of what it takes to get the supplies.  you think all those cute little tins and baggies get stuffed in those boxes so neatly overnight all by themselves?  you wish!  i bet it could be fun if you were to put together a charming assembly line with your bridesmaids and champagne and favorite playlists, and if you have time for that, more power to you.  me, i’ve got enough on my plate, so in this regard simpler is better.  the second hurdle?  the second hurdle is the little-known fact that sometimes a hotel will charge you to pass out those bags to guests as they arrive at the check-in counter, no matter how cute they are and regardless of how big your new monogrammed initials may be.  and as i have said many times before, planning a wedding necessitates the art of compromise, and sometimes something’s just gotta give.

so, since we won’t be able to give each of you a wooden box engraved with your initials and turtle doves inside (because who wouldn’t want to figure out how to pack that in their carry-on), phillip and i got creative.  now, we threw in a little tradition with a little quirkiness but don’t want to spoil the surprise!  what we have picked out for our guests is something we hope will bring a smile to your face and warm memories to your minds after you return home and fondly think back to our wedding many days later.  get ready!  only 52 days to go!

the wedding chronicles | decision #18

THE HONEYMOON

Hello!  Phillip Davis here.  By now I am sure that everyone knows who I am:  Kelsey’s fiance, “other half,” photographer for our NRW (New Restaurant Wednesday) excursions, vacation planner aficionado, and finally significant other.  It’s great to finally guest blog on her website, and for that reason I am honored to begin my blogging quest with wedding decision number 18, the honeymoon!

This decision came to me as a surprise because I did not know where to begin.  I have envisioned lots of different places and ideas that could all be very unique to our traveling experiences thus far.  For instance, we could travel abroad and visit new countries over in Europe and make it a week-long excursion by “Euro” hopping around.  We could keep things simple and do a domestic road trip around the Atlantic coastline with food and drink stops along the way.  Or, we could make it a nice getaway to a Caribbean island and relax on the beach.  It was very difficult and challenging to decide because my dialogue with Kelsey for the past year has been something like, “So, honey, where would you like to go for our honeymoon?”  She’d respond, “Oh, it doesn’t matter…as long as we are together.”  This made the decision more difficult in my mind because I would have hoped she could have envisioned the ideal spot for us to land for a week or two.

With the help from our AAA agent Renee, we decided to give her a visit during one of our vacation days away from work and grab some suggestions from her.  Now Renee came highly recommended by our siblings Kyle and Kari since they used her to plan their two-week European excursion a couple of months ago.  The family mentioned to us that “prices were good, “she was the best agent at AAA”, and “you won’t be disappointed.”  Seeing that family is almost always right about these kind of decisions and ideas, Kelsey and I gave her a try.

When we arrived at the AAA office, the entire staff was very friendly and welcomed us inside.  Renee, who was diligently typing away at her computer and finishing a phone call with a prior client, smiled at us and said, “You must be Kelsey and Phillip; please grab a seat.”  Immediately Kelsey and I sat at the two seats at her desk and introduced ourselves.  Renee’s first question to us was “So, where do you envision going for your honeymoon?”  Kelsey began by responding, “Anywhere that is adult-friendly and has no kiddos around.”  I nodded my head in agreement but wasn’t quite sure what to say after, so I let the ladies continue in conversation.  Shortly thereafter Renee grabbed a large AAA destination handbook that literally looked like the Bible for vacationers!  She flipped through the pages and came across some highly recommended resorts in the Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, and the Cayman Islands.  Notice the pattern?  I may have mentioned to Renee that a Caribbean resort wouldn’t be such a bad idea, so she went on to peruse the typical spots that most adults had traveled to.  Now I was excited and wanted to see which resorts would be nice for a relaxing time.

Of the countless options we saw in the book, Renee did in fact recommend a few resorts in the Dominican Republic (specifically the Punta Cana area) that would suit us perfectly.  The options were adults only, all-inclusive, provided easy beach access, and included amenities and activities to do.  Shortly after hearing the details of these resorts, Kelsey and I decided to leave the office and think about it together.

I did some more research on my own accord while Kelsey was traveling for work and came to a final decision that would be ideal for our needs.  I decided on the perfect resort in the Dominican Republic that would an ideal spot for our first week as newlyweds.  Besides, I wanted to ensure that Kelsey gets a massage or two while there and that we can go on a snorkeling excursion, which by the way is included in the resort package!  To me it’s a win-win situation and I am sure that Kelsey will enjoy it, and that is all that matters to me.

the wedding chronicles | decisions #16 and #17

HAIR & MAKEUP

probably two of the more important decisions to make for many brides, your wedding hair and wedding makeup can make all the difference in helping you feel your absolute best on your big day, and this is coming from a girl who pretty much never wears makeup nowadays and considers it a small miracle if her hair manages to stay presentable from sun up to sun down.  the trick to it all, as several past brides have told me, is to let the stylists create a wedding day look that simply enhances, not masks, what the good Lord already gave you.  well, when i look at it that way, i’m much more open to the idea.

now, the question regarding hair and makeup is where do you begin your search?  as far as things go for me, i first started with what i knew, which was who my sister-in-law kari hired when she and kyle got married back in 2014.  she happily gave me some contact information, and i quickly turned around to send the first of many e-mail messages.  kyle and kari got married in roswell, georgia, which meant most of their vendors were local to the greater atlanta area.  therein was a bit of a problem for me:  with our wedding being in peachtree city (practically on the complete opposite side of town and definitely outside the greater atlanta area), i would have to pay travel fees per mile for the stylists to get to me.  now, if we were having a remote destination wedding, i’d understandably bite the bullet and pay, but before committing, i decided to investigate and see if we had other options.

as it would end up being the case for many of our vendors, i asked the director at glendalough manor if they had any preferred recommendations for hair and makeup.  what do you know, they did!  as soon as i was able, i booked the trial appointments and invited the crew to come along for the fun.

now, if you aren’t in “the know” in this regard, oftentimes you do a trial or dress rehearsal for hair and makeup before your actual wedding day.  i know, i know.  among all the other things on our to-do list, you might not feel like you have time for this sort of thing.  i used to think that way, too.  however, i highly encourage you go through with the trials and here is exactly why.

Continue reading

the wedding chronicles | decision #15

THE TABLE & ITS SETTINGS

in the grand scheme of things you might not really care about the table settings.  you’re probably even asking “kelsey, who really cares about the table settings?  why do i need to spend time worrying about this?  don’t i have more important things to decide?”  well, the answer is because if you are having a traditional sit-down reception (maybe a buffet or family-style dinner or a plated three-course meal) where your guests will be at a table, you will have options.  your caterer will bombard you with all sorts of linen colors and designs, standard table settings options and upgrades that are available, the chairs that come by default and then the fancy ones.  believe me when i say it can become a big blur very quickly.

my initial thought was “people are just at the tables to eat and then they’re on the dance floor and up and about after the meal is over, so why wouldn’t the regular options suffice?”  for us and our venue they wouldn’t suffice because they looked just a little too plain and needed a little something extra.  thankfully we had room in our budget to do a little upgrading on the tablecloths to elevate the whole picture a bit.  i could have gone really crazy with chair covers and gilded plate chargers, but the more i thought about it the more i realized that sometimes simple is better.  a little glitz and glam goes a long way, and as far as the table goes i had to remind myself that our homemade centerpieces with the upgraded tablecloths, tealights, silverware, favors, and napkins would be more than enough because folks are going to have purses and clutches and other items to place on the table and we don’t want the tables feeling too cluttered.  you certainly don’t have to do any upgrading at all if it isn’t for you or if you don’t have the funds, but the good thing is that if you are wise with your choices, you can get a big bang for a few bucks more.