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A Crazy Week

This week has truly been a challenge. I lost a good friend of mine on Monday morning, and the week was a little off after that. My friend was a poet and friend who always made you feel anything was possible, and that usually it was just you standing in your own way. I know she wouldn’t want me to be sad, but it just feels a bit odd not being able to get my coffee with her and her quick wit. Starbucks trips won’t be the same without her, life won’t be the same without her. I’m so glad I had the chance to not only work with her professionally, but got to know her as a friend. One of the few I’ve gained as an adult.

I started working with a new bride this week also. It kept my mind busy for sure. Went to the first dress fitting and did a site visit in the bitter cold temperatures. Couldn’t see much of the site due to the foot of snow still on the grounds (the wedding is outside).

Wedding Reception Space
Wedding Reception Space

 

We have a short amount of time to get everything in place, but this is going to be fun for me and something to document for you all to see. Stay tuned for updates on this process. It should be really fun and eventful. The theme of the wedding is fiesta with a little Dia de los Muertos twist.

Papel Picado
Papel Picado

Taking the good with the bad this week, my friend’s “Legacy” is big in the community and in my heart. Live loud and bold, full of color and spunk. That’s advice we can all live by. To my friend Chantay “Legacy” Leonard, I’ll miss you.

chantay piece
Chantay “Legacy” Leonard

 

Staying Fabulous in 2015

January is almost over and I’m sure your resolutions are well under way. I don’t really make resolutions, but I do try to strive to be better than I was the previous year. Now, my goals are probably like many other’s: lose a few pounds, get more organized, and eat better.

meditation rocks

There are many things we can do to lose weight. I don’t like diets very much, so I try to just use better judgement and practice better portion control. Exercising has never been something I was good at sticking to. Mainly because as a kid I was in an African dance company, so I was always exercising three times a week with rehearsals and classes. These days I’m constantly moving around, but as we get older we have to work a little harder at weight loss. Walking is a great start to exercising. I walk pretty fast in general, but adding cardio somewhere in the week is something that I would do to break up the monotony of the walking routine.

Family Plan

Getting more organized is something I’m good at in general, but with keeping up with kid’s extracurricular schedules and appointments can cause me easily to get off track. One way I try to combat chaos is to regroup myself and my weekly tasks and schedule on Sundays to make sure I’m ready for the upcoming week. One thing I would like to implement is a weekly menu for dinners. It’s so hard to finally get home and try to figure out what to fix for dinner. Our schedule can cause us to get home late, but trying to find meals I can make ahead so all I have to do is heat them up will help that.

Whatever you do, stay on track and don’t stress if things don’t always go as planned. That will save your nerves and sanity.

Share with us your resolutions, tips, and experience. We’ll share ours as the year goes on.

Happy 2015!

Cara Delevingne and Pharrell for Chanel’s latest short film

I read about this yesterday and thought it was awesome! Can’t wait to see the whole film.

the CITIZENS of FASHION

Cara Delevingne and Pharrell for Chanel
“Reincarnation” is the latest Chanel film signed by Karl Lagerfeld that tells the story of the birth of the famous Chanel jacket .Starring Cara Delevingne, ethereal as Sissi in an Austrian castle with Pharrell Williams as her royal knight, playing Franz Joseph.

And with a leap in time the story takes us to 1954, to an episode in the life of Coco Chanel: when the fashion designer, on vacation in Austria, was enchanted by a jacket worn by the lift attendant at her hotel. That style, revised and updated, became the basis of the famous jacket by Chanel.

“It was time to show the origins of the Chanel jacket, inspired by the one worn by the lift attendant in a hotel near Salzburg in the 1950s,” says Lagerfeld. “Reincarnation is the story of a lift attendant’s jacket being reincarnated as a timeless piece of women’s wear.”

To celebrate the upcoming Paris-Salzburg 2014/15 Métiers d’art collection…

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The Chew-ish Sausage Biscuits and Gravy

The other week we were watching The Chew and saw a recipe Michael Symon demonstrated that piqued our interest. It was a challenge for me, because I’m not a big gravy person. The Andouille Sausage Gravy with Corn Biscuits recipe was something I wanted to attempt but make my own. On the show, the gravy looked too loose for my taste, so I wanted to make sure I modified the recipe to be what I wanted. I also don’t like corn meal biscuits, so I just bought some pre-made biscuits to just work on the gravy.

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The gravy was pretty simple, but I modified the recipe slightly. I don’t like spicy sausage, so I used a simple mild sausage without the casing. I also cut the amount of chicken stock I used because I knew it would thin the gravy too much for my taste. So, below is my version of this recipe.

 

Sausage Gravy

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 cup Onion (minced)
1 pound Mild Sausage (casing removed)
2 1/2 tablespoons Flour
1 cup Low Sodium Chicken Stock
3/4 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 tablespoon dried Parsley
Salt

Place a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a drizzle of Olive Oil and the Mild Sausage. Cook the Sausage, breaking it up into small bits as it browns. Cook Sausage until well browned, about 8 minutes. Add the Onion and a pinch of Salt. Cook until the Onions start to break down and become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the Flour, stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the Chicken Stock, and Cream. Simmer for 15 minutes or up to 45 minutes on low heat. The Gravy will thicken and reduce slightly.

To serve, slice the Biscuits in half. Spoon the Gravy over the Biscuits and garnish with Parsley

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I have to say, I don’t like gravy really and making it from scratch has always been somewhat intimidating to me. I’ve seen my great grandmother and grandmother make gravy so easily, but have never really tried it myself. In culinary school, I learned the concept and how to actually put those skills into practice, but I have never tried it fully on my own. This recipe was actually quite tasty and I would recommend it to anyone who likes sausage gravy and biscuits.

If you want to see the whole recipe from the show, including the biscuits, feel free to check it out here: Michael Symon’s Corn Biscuits and Andouille Gravy Recipe

Classic Timepieces

There are some accessories that are just for show, but others can serve functional purposes while also being fashionable. Finding the right watch is like finding the final piece of a difficult puzzle. When looking for the right watch, you have to step outside of the box and find something that will be a bit more personal. In men’s fashion, the watch is very essential to pulling a look together completely. Invaluable.com, an online auction house that has more than 30-million  bidders annually, has hundreds of  unique timepieces that are stylish and sometimes vintage.

Men's Rolex Watch
Men’s Rolex Watch

Sometimes there are moments when you feel you don’t have anything to wear, but you know you have your staple accessories that will pull together any outfit. For men, this is no different. In modern times, men have been known to take in consideration more what they wear and how they look when getting ready. And what better way to pull together a look than to find a great outfit to go with your statement piece: a rose faced steel Rolex watch.

j crew gray suit

The Ludlow tweed suit from J. Crew is one way to add to the rose faced Rolex watch. The gray tones help the face stand out and shine.

banana republic leather jacket

 

Even adding a leather jacket from Banana Republic, the watch still will hold its class and style. There is a timelessness to leather and steel.

banana republic navy pants

Whether it is casual or formal, the watch will still make this Banana Republic navy chino and Army green combo seem fashionable. Who doesn’t love a man in chinos.

j crew dark gray suit

Of course, the everyday working man needs a timepiece that will help him arrive in a timely fashion. Nothing says style and power like a Rolex. This Ludlow gray Italian flannel power suit from J. Crew will definitely show your style and class.

Using an auction site like Invaluable.com to find unique men’s watches is one way to ensure that your guy won’t walk into the boardroom or local pub to find someone wearing the same watch. He will definitely stand out and show his sense of style with the choice of watches on the Invaluable.com site. There are many options in any price range. With the holidays fast approaching, you are sure to find something for that dashing gentleman on your list.

Fall Paint Color Palettes

9.22.14

Fall is quickly approaching, and if you are like me you love to immerse yourself in the colors of the season. Decorating the house can be fun and choosing colors for the walls is like choosing a new nail polish. Color is important because it can change, enhance, or disturb your mood. Choosing wall paint is something that you should do with care.

welcome fall

There are a lot of things to consider with paint. What the room is used for? How much sunlight the room gets? Where are the windows? What color to paint the ceiling? Do you have moldings? Wainscoting? Chair rails? You have to think of the little things to make sure you choose the right color for your space.

Fall front door

No matter if it is indoors or outdoors, color is important. Always go with what goes well with your home and use of the spaces. No matter what, choose what is comfortable for you. You have to live with paint for a while, so be sure to make certain it is a color you can live with.

fall color combos

Color isn’t just for the walls. You can incorporate fall colors on your furniture and the accessories you choose to accent your room with. Upholstery can add an element of color as well.

benjamin moore Sioux paint

This Benjamin Moore color, Sioux, is calm and can enhance neutral and muted tones. The color on the wall is subtle but packs a punch as far as color. The off white furniture just helps the wall color stand out.

Fall Dining room

This neutral color on the wall helps to accentuate the floors and makes the white furniture pops. The piping that matches the wall color helps to connect the two colors to the space. I may not always be a fan of white furniture, but when paired with a bold and dark wall color, it works perfectly.

coastal fall colors

These coastal colors are muted and represent the fall season on the coasts. Our coasts in this country have different shades of green and blue, and paired with the muted colors of the foliage they create this wonderful palette.

Orange color schemes

Now the orange fall palette may seem a little bold for an indoor room, but there are ways to incorporate shades of orange effectively. Add orange accents to the room, paint an accent wall with a lighter and neutral tone. Paint a built in a bold color so that the books and accessories help break up the color, and that way the bold color won’t overpower your room. You can also take bolder colors outdoors.

autumn color journey

Darker colors are best done in small dosed inside. If you take these bold colors outside, use them on a front door, window frames, or shutters. Using such dark colors outside also will help your house look like it’s one with nature as the leaves change throughout the season.

fall preserve hues

Fall colors are also those you can find in some foods and preserves. These tend to be colors more suitable for inside the home and in most rooms of the house. They easily go well in any kitchen of course, with the exception of peaches and orange-like colors. Those don’t do well in conjunction with food.

fall vegetable palettes

 

Another interesting place to take color inspiration from is food, mainly vegetables. Fall vegetables are rich with color. Eggplant, tomatoes, squash and gourds, greens, and root vegetables. All have an array of colors that can work in any home.

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Use nature as a guide to choosing colors for your home, but use nature and the things around you as inspiration. Once you find a palette that fits your lifestyle and needs, you can get your paint and get started with transforming your home. Adding paint to a room will give any room a boost, and maybe even boost the use of the room.

So use the outdoors to inspire the indoors, and share that inspiration with your friends and family who come to visit your home. Add a little paint to your home to keep the fall feel all year round. Color can go from season to season, so be adventurous. Enjoy the colors of the season and Happy Fall!

 

Tomato Soup | Tasty Tuesday

9.16.14

Fall is here and my favorite comfort food is in demand with the chilly temperatures, Soup! I love a warm soup, no matter the season. They are simple, warm, and are served in one dish. But with the harvest of tomatoes I had enough to make a small batch of tomato soup with the tomatoes I had left over from my tomato sauce.

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I love tomato soup! It’s creamy and rich, and full of flavor. You can make your tomato soup with whatever flavors you like. You can be bold and add spices to punch up the flavor, or keep it simple with a few herbs and cream. The process is pretty simple really.

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Garden Tomato Soup

  • 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 small onion, diced
  • 4 whole cloves or 1 tsp ground
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dried basil, or 1 tsp of fresh basil finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream

In a stockpot, over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, cloves, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Remove from heat and blend in a blender in batches. You can use a food mill if you have one, and just run the mixture through the mill into a bowl. Discard any stuff left over in the food mill.

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In the stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is medium brown. Gradually whisk in the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Season with sugar and salt, and adjust to taste. 

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Temper the whipping cream by adding a little of the hot soup to the cream, and whisk together. This helps the cream reach the same temperature as the soup, and prevents it from curdling in the soup. Adding the cream finishes the soup and makes it creamy, also adding a little flavor.

Use the harvest of garden vegetables from the summer to make your fall soups, or use them as starters to add to some early fall vegetables for more complex soups and stews. Whatever you choose, love your fresh foods and enjoy the season.

Fall (Fashion) is coming!

9.8.14

The heat is cooling down and the summer season is winding down. Sweater weather is upon us, and I am super excited to pull out my scarves and sweaters. Drinking more tea and hot beverages, soups and stews, apple orchards, and a colorful leaf changes.

fall ombre

The accessories and fashion for fall is my favorite. The chunky sweaters and bulky scarves make getting dressed fun and full of choices. There are so many options and ways to mix up your wardrobe for the season.

Fall Outfit

This outfit is chic and simple. The black and white sweater under the wool winter white coat adds a little bit of class. The bag is simply everything and finishes the look.

fall suit jacket dainty shirt

This look is an example of using things you already have in your closet together to create a different look. You don’t have to buy all new clothes for a season. Use what you already have and make a new look. A cotton top paired with a jacket changes the look of everyday items.

casual outfit

This casual outfit is great for a fall outing to the apple orchard, or Sunday brunch. It’s versatile though and could totally work for dropping the kids off at school.

Accessories are always great. You can make an outfit new with accessories. Here are some of my favorites.

Dressing for fall is fun and relaxed and cozy. Not fussy, but still chic. Dress well, warm, and have fun with it.

Chicken Chili | Tasty Tuesday

9.2.14

With fall in the horizon, soups and chili will be a major dinner staple. One chili I tried out this summer was a chicken chili using some bone-in chicken breasts. Seeing as these parts weren’t easy to eat just cooked as they were, so I had to be a little creative in using it.

So, while watching one of my favorite chefs, Ina Garten, on television, I got inspired to make a chili. Although it was the middle of July, I still got the urge to create something good and warm. I found one of the Barefoot Contessa’s recipes for Chicken Chili and decided to modify it a little for my personal tastes.

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Chicken Chili

4 cups yellow onions, chopped (3 onions)
1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 orange bell peppers, diced
2 yellow bell peppers, diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
2 tbsp dried basil leaves
2 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes to the pot with the basil.I crushed my tomatoes by hand, but you can use a food processor if you like. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for about 35 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks.

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Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

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I enjoyed mine topped with sour cream and shredded cheddar, but you can use tortilla chips or chopped onions.

66th Annual Emmy Awards

8.25.14

Tonight the Emmy awards are on NBC. Are you watching? Stay tuned for updates. Who are your predictions for tonight’s winners?

emmy-wallpaper-2560x1440

Renewal Sunday | Extracting Flavor

7.13.14

I have shared my recipe for making vanilla extract before, but many don’t know there are many things that can be used to make extracts. There are so many flavors that can be used and extracted, but I found this recipe for one using lavender.

lavender fields

Lavender is a very hearty plant, and can grow in most regions. The properties of lavender are calming and soothing. That’s why it works well in teas and herbs. Lavender is something many see in open fields or bouquets and centerpieces. But lavender actually has some great uses in the kitchen. Many teas and rubs include lavender as a spice. There are other unique ways to use lavender, such as sugar and pepper. There are a few different types of lavender, but the most common is English and French lavender, but you may not know there are only a few varieties that you can cook with. The most common culinary versions are munstead, white ice, and hidcote. Whatever you prefer, however adventurous you are, this recipe may help you take your food venturing a little further.

lavendar extracts

Making extracts are simple. It’s a basic equal parts sugar and water, with a little of whatever flavors you want to add towards the end. This recipe is for lavender, and any other essences you want to try. Be adventurous with your options, but be conservative with the flavors until you know the exact results.

Makes one 1/2 liter bottle

  • 3vanilla pods or 3 handfuls of dried lavender
  • 2cups vodka
  1. Add the vanilla or dried lavender to a clean 1/2 liter bottle or jar, then add the vodka.
  2. Mix the bottle by inverting it a couple of times.
  3. Seal the bottle or jar and keep in a cool place for 1 to 2 months.
  4. Use your homemade extracts in all of your baking endeavors.

I would say to find some smaller jars from a home goods store to store your extracts. It makes things easy to store and just makes things pretty.

Adding lavender to any recipe will enhance the flavor. Be adventurous and enjoy the flavors of nature.

 

Throwback Thursday | 80’s TV Sitcoms

5.22.14

Ok, so I’m a sucker for the 80’s. It was a part of my childhood that I still reminisce about often, and I truly do miss that period. What I miss the most is the television lineups that we had then. Not to slight the television shows now, but the shows in that decade were meaningful, inspirational, and entertaining still. We had humor, drama, legal, and situational sitcoms that stayed on the air during the school year, and went on hiatus for the summer. The primetime lineup was diverse and very appealing to all age groups.

Jem

 

Misfits

Ok, so I know this wasn’t a primetime show, but I just have to express my fondness for Jem and the Holograms. I watched this show in the afternoons and still occasionally get the theme song in my head from time to time. The Misfits were wild and sneaky, but made good cartoon bad girls. Ok, now moving on…

the love boat

 

One of my favorite shows in primetime was The Love Boat. I would watch this show and drape a sheet around me to simulate the moment the belle of the Captain’s Dinner came down the ship’s sprawling staircase. Hey, what did most 8 year olds want to be besides the belle.

small_wonder

Now Small Wonder was one of those shows that didn’t last very long, but along with shows like Charles in Charge and Perfect Stranger, Small Wonder was a quirky and funny show about a robot girl who was discovering family.

Family Ties

A great family drama was. This show embodied a unique dynamic of characters who were well matched and showed the diversity of a family.

The-Cosby-Show

And the infamous Cosby Show...there are so many moments that still have meaning in today’s life and culture. This family (and show) truly represented the average American family makeup, and sent very powerful messages about growing up and learning through the process. Man, I loved Thursday nights at 8pm!

Exploring and creating shows with a variety of family situations was a common theme throughout the 80’s. There were also shows, mostly comedies, that showed a different kind of family situation. Charles in Charge, Who’s the Boss and The Facts of Life were shows that created a variety of situations that may not be typical, but we could still relate to their experiences. Plus, being hilarious helped.

Now, there were plenty of drama on television then. I think it was some of the best ever, but I’m biased.

There were a mix of cop and legal dramas, such as Miami Vice, as well as pure drama (ie. Dallas, Dynasty). These shows sometimes had a form of comedy to them, but they were all so cool and truly entertaining.

WKRP

Now there were also some slap happy comedies, as I call them, that were mostly funny but had the occasional lesson you can learn from their mishaps. One I still love today is WKRP in Cincinnati. The characters were hilarious, but their jobs were very meaningful for the times. There were a lot of story lines that I didn’t get as a kid, but it still made me laugh. Watching it today as an adult, I see how impactful some of the stories were, but it’s probably more funny now.  

So if this was how you changed the channel and found your viewing pleasure for the evening, let us remember the wonderful variety of our primetime lineup.

Happy #tbt

Tasty Tuesday | Twisted Fish (Sort of)

5.20.14

I love fish, but sometimes it can be a bit bland just baking it. So I decided to kick up the meal a bit by making a menu of Parmesan Tilapia, Sauteéd Green Beans, and Roasted Golden Potatoes.

Don’t get me wrong, baked fish is good, but pan fried Italian tilapia just has so much more flavor to a light fish.

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I decided since I was adding a flavorful fish, why not make the sides just as flavorful. So I decided to use my culinary degree skills and add some sautéed fresh green beans and oven roasted golden potatoes.

Since I’m not really big on following recipes to the letter as law, I’ll simply say this about the individual menu items:

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Italian Tilapia

2 fillets
Season with salt and pepper, or preferred seasonings
Plate of Italian breadcrumbs
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup of vegetable oil

Mix the breadcrumbs, cornstarch, and parmesan on a large platter, mix with fork. Place the seasoned fish fillets in the breadcrumb mixture, cover and pat both sides. Place gently into a pan of hot oil. I used my cast iron skillet to fry these in. Let the fish cook fully on both sides, generally about 5 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the fillets.

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Sautéed Green Beans

2 cups of fresh green beans
1 half of white onion, sliced
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a stainless steel pan and melt the butter. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the beans and turn heat down to medium. Sauté beans until soft, but not mushy. You can add a tablespoon of water if your beans start to stick or your pan gets too hot. This will help to soften the beans.

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Roasted Golden Potatoes

3 medium size golden potatoes
Herbs de Provènce
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven at 400°F. Cut the potatoes into small cubes. Season to your preference and coat with oil. A trick I learned in culinary school when cooking potatoes in the oven. Take the pan you will be using, coat with oil and put in the oven while its preheating. While you prepare the potatoes to cook, heating the pan will heat the oil, and when you add the potatoes to the pan it will sizzle. What that does is essentially quick fry the outside of the potatoes, and will give the potatoes a nice crisp on the outside. Cook for about 15 minutes. Remove and sprinkle a little kosher salt on top. Potatoes need a lot of seasoning.

Well, here was the final product:

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Wedding Wednesday | Weather Mishaps

5.14.15

Outdoor weddings are always beautiful and exciting. If the elements cooperate, the possibilities are endless to what you can do outdoors for a wedding.

beach_wedding_isle

 

But if mother nature doesn’t cooperate, there are ways to avoid a wash out…no pun intended.

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Mother nature can ruin or bless your special day. And with the many types of weather disasters that are possible, rain is probably the least of your worries. There are rising storms, such as dust and tornado storms, that are really taking over the weather patterns lately. So when planning your special day, there are some tips you can follow to avoid total disaster.

  1. Secure backup plans – make sure that the location where you are having your outdoor wedding has a backup location choice in case the weather does not cooperate. Check the weather patterns prior to make sure you can make a sound judgement.
  2. Ensure that your guests are comfortable – the heat can be brutal on your guests and make them uncomfortable, sick even. Make sure that there is ample water and cooling stations for guests to retreat to. Maybe your venue has a place for guests to come inside and get cool.
  3. Purchase wedding insurance – Wedding insurance has become more common with all the weather tragedies and random accidents that are becoming more prevalent. Accidents can be prevented, but when they can’t it’s always good to have a backup plan to protect you and your spouse-to-be.

So while you’re planning that outdoor wedding, be sure to take into consideration that the reality of uncontrollable weather patterns.

 

Wedding Day Dust Storm
Wedding Day Dust Storm

But, if you get caught with your umbrella blowing backwards, make the most of it…like these people:

Enjoy your day, have the breeze blowing through your veil, but be smart about it and make sure to protect yourself.