the wedding chronicles | decision #21


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!


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


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


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


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


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.

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the wedding chronicles | decision #15


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.

the wedding chronicles | decision #14


shopping for wedding bands was one of the most fun afternoons for phillip and me.  we returned to the same shop where phillip found my engagement ring and spent a couple of hours browsing rings, putting on rings, taking off rings, the whole enchilada!  the jewelers were patient with us as they explained everything and helped us narrow down our “styles” among the seemingly endless sea of options.  did we want something traditional?  did we want to be trendy?  did we want our rings to “go together?”  did we want yellow gold or white gold or a more non-traditional material entirely?  you see how it can be easy to spend lots of time trying to decide, yes?

we started the day off by looking for a band for me first.  i felt like i was in a dream as i examined case upon case of beautiful diamonds and designs.  i was so lucky to just be there browsing and even more fortunate that one of these gorgeous creations would be mine!  the owner melanie pulled some styles that were good pairings with my engagement ring, ones that matched nicely and others that were a little different but still complementary.  melanie made a good observation, saying that nowadays it’s very common for the wedding band to not necessarily match the engagement ring at all.  sometimes a “set” can be very beautiful but there really are now no rules for what the wedding band must be.  i liked that very much!  there are some things in life about which i am very old school and traditional, but i found that my eye was being drawn to some of the more modern band designs.  how about that!  i could have searched for hours more, but at some point the process gets a little overwhelming honestly.  i found i was stuck between one traditional band and one modern band.  not wanting to rush me, melanie suggested i wear both of them with my engagement ring in between while phillip searched for his ring.  she said that after having them on for a little while i would likely be more drawn to one of them.  well, i cannot argue with an expert, so i kept them both on as we switched gears to look for phillip’s band.

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the wedding chronicles | decision #13


once you all figure out how many people are going to be coming to your wedding, you then have to figure out where to put all of them!  how you go about figuring out accommodations depends, i think, largely on where your wedding is.  if you are having a destination wedding, your options might be very specific and limited.  if your wedding is going to be in a rural part of town, you may need to consider if there is lodging nearby or if guests will need to drive a little to get to the ceremony and reception.  luckily for phillip and me peachtree city has a good number of options for where our guests can stay, so based on his local knowledge and his mother michele’s recommendations, we (along with grandma lorraine because she was in town from ohio) began the hunt for the perfect hotel for ourselves and our guests.

the first place we looked was the crowne plaza.  michele mentioned it is a popular spot in town for conferences and of course visitors but is maybe best known for their Easter brunch.  well, any spot that serves a good brunch sounds like it’s worth a look!  we all piled into the kia and drove to the plaza and were initially in “like” with it because of the beautiful landscaping and tucked away feel.  so far so good.  after parking we then walked into the lobby and unfortunately were very underwhelmed.  per the front desk employee (who was very nice and informative), the plaza was undergoing renovations and, for us, was in too much of that “renovating” state for us to see past it.  not wanting to write the plaza off too soon, we took some time to walk the grounds and check out everything.  the plaza does have a picturesque water feature that is overlooked by the dining area, but this pro could not outweigh the biggest con for us, which was that the guest buildings felt very spread out and disconnected.  i truly think it would take you almost ten minutes to walk from one end of the property to the other, which would be unfortunate if our guests weren’t all booked in a block of rooms close together.  so, just like that we hopped in the car and carried on to our next destination, the hilton garden inn.

hilton garden inns tend to be one of my preferred lodging choices, mostly out of habit from work and also because i have a hilton rewards account.  🙂  the hgi in peachtree city is located off highway 74 and is easy to find, two things that seemed like positives to me.  just like at the crowne plaza, though, i was disappointed in the hgi right upon walking through its doors.  its lobby is tiny!  with a guest list of at least 150 and assuming maybe half of them stay at the hotel for the wedding, there would be no way people would be able to gather comfortably in their downtime.  in addition to a small lobby, the dining area for breakfast and the bar area were pretty tight as well.  out of courtesy to the employee who was showing us around, we still took a look at their larger gathering spaces (which of course come at an additional cost) and their rooms (which were pretty standard).  if i were visiting peachtree city on my own or with a small group of people, the hgi would be a great fit.  but for an event where nearly half of the guests are out-of-towners, the hilton garden inn wouldn’t work at all.  shall we press onward?

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the wedding chronicles | decision #12


based on my wedding planning experience, i think it’s a safe thing to say that the guest list very easily goes hand-in-hand with the venue.  as such this post probably could have come much earlier in the wedding chronicles, but better late than never.  🙂  i think it’s possible to think of it this way:  either your guest list dictates your venue or your venue dictates your guest list.  do we think this assessment is fair?  in my opinion it is because if you are in love with a particular space but it only can hold 100 people, then the guest list is 100.  on the other hand if you and your fiance(e) have humongous families and you know at least 200 people will be there, well then you’re going to need a ceremony and reception site big enough to fit them all, and that requirement in and of itself may eliminate certain locations.  again, sometimes your wedding decisions can be very logical.

as far as things go for phillip and me, we do have larger families and lots of out-of-town guests but also lots of locals since the event is taking place in phillip’s hometown of peachtree city.  so me?  i’m hopeful that most of the folks who received save-the-dates (and have invitations on the way in january) will be able to join us.  for our venues we’re paying for a minimum number of guests, so if at least that many if not a few more show i’ll be quite happy.  with that being said, i have heard from other couples who are recently engaged/married a statistic that about 30% of your guests won’t be able to make it.  well that’s just too bad, right?  but it also is a fact of life and is what it is.  regardless, understanding that a certain percentage of people won’t be able to join you in your big day can sometimes cause a little uncertainty as far as choosing a location.  do you pick a place that will fit a maximum of 70% of your guest list (if we’re going off this statistic) or do you book a venue that will hold 70%+ in the wonderful event that most of your guests can come?  that decision i leave up to you.  we are okay with having a minimum and then, if necessary, paying extra if we go over that amount.  however, if that is not your style, you’ll need to be more mindful about the venue you choose.  make sense?  i think so, too.

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the wedding chronicles | decision #11


figuring out the flowers for our wedding has been an exciting process.  now, i may not have inherited my mother’s green thumb (at least not yet), but i do recognize and appreciate beautiful bouquets and buds and arrangements when i see them.  i can honestly say i had nearly as many floral magazine tear-outs as ones for the wedding dress!  and if the sky was the limit as far as the flower budget goes, you would see fresh flowers everywhere.  they would be on the church pew ends, they would be on an arch over the entrance to the reception, they would be the centerpiece for every table in the room, they would be fragrant and lush and in sight no matter where you look.  but, fresh flowers everywhere come at a steep cost, and as i have expressed previously, unless you have an unlimited budget, you will have to compromise at some point.  with all this being said, i am not at all discouraged about what my budget is for the flowers.  you just have to get creative with what you pick and where you use them and no one will be the wiser.  🙂

let’s take the centerpieces for starters.  big, blossoming centerpiece bouquets are often so beautiful and picturesque and certainly wedding day appropriate.  however, when you have a guest list of over 150, you’re going to need a lot of tables which of course means you’d then need a lot of centerpieces.  as much as i wish i could work fresh centerpieces into the budget, i also recognize that fresh centerpieces often cannot be repurposed, which means their beautiful lives are very short-lived.  you see how things start to come into perspective?  with this being known, it’s actually kind of a neat thing because then your centerpieces can be whatever you want them to be!  you could of course do silk flowers if you still want something floral, but just hop on pinterest and you’ll find thousands of floral centerpiece alternatives, many of them which you can do yourself.  i’m sure you’ve been to receptions where a picture of the newlyweds is in the center and surrounded by tealights galore or even where other common interests of the couple are used to depict one table from the other.  think maps of where the couple has vacationed together or pieces of music from their favorite composers.  really the options are endless!  i’m very excited for our handmade centerpieces and cannot wait for them to be revealed to our guests in april.

now, as far as flowers go elsewhere in the wedding (bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres), i decided real flowers were my heart’s desire, because where would the world be without real flowers!  many of the magazine pages i came across depicted the popular styles of today, which include lots of faded eucalyptus and soft pastel colors and even a few succulents here and there.  and although something like that would be perfect for our spring wedding, i wasn’t emotionally moved by them and didn’t feel they fit into our overall theme.  so, when my mother came in town for some wedding errands one weekend, we looked through all my ideas together and, thankfully, had the perfect luck in finding the combinations of greens and pinks and whites that would fit in just right for our big day.  the bridesmaids will hold some beautiful bouquets of greenery; the mothers’ and grandmothers’ wrist corsages will be simple and elegant; phillip, his best man, and the groomsmen have boutonnieres with ingredients inspired by my croatian heritage; and last but not least, my bouquet is going to be a fabulous combination of varying shades of pink with lots of different flower shapes and, in my mind, is going to be a spectacle in and of itself!  i can hardly contain my excitement!