Elegantly Yours

Creating and Planning Events. Beautifully.

Beat the Summer Heat July 11, 2013

Nothing beats Summertime!

Nothing beats Summertime!


The long days of summer are finally upon us! Summer is the perfect time for hosting outdoor events; however, beautiful weather means warmer temperatures. Whether the occasion is a graduation party, golf outing, wedding, or just a summer barbeque, there are a few things to remember when planning and hosting outdoor summer soirees.


Watch for bugs. Mosquitoes. Fruit Flies. Green Flies.  All of these insects can be considered our enemies when it comes to outdoor events. Fight back with citronella candles placed on the tables, on the food tables, or with tiki torches placed around the area. Don’t forget the bug lights and bug spray! Cute and stylish bug nets are a great way to serve food outside without insects contaminating the food.

Bug nets are a simple way to protect food from unwanted pests

Bug nets are a simple way to protect food from unwanted pests


Drinks all around. The heat easily dehydrates us. Make sure there are plenty of cold refreshments (beyond the alcoholic ones!) for all guests. We don’t want guests dropping like flies!


Watch the Sun. The sun is our friend, but only for so long. There must be shade; we’re not trying to send Grandma into another round of hot flashes! Try to find a location with shady trees, or a venue with a patio overhang. For instant shade, purchase pop up tents (Available at stores like Dicks Sporting Goods).  Also, a later start to the party, 3 or later, will save you from the sun’s strongest rays that occur from 10 AM to 4 PM.


Protect the Food. Warm weather provides ample opportunity for foodborne bacteria to thrive. Bacteria multiply quickly in the heat, and unfortunately for us this results in foodborne illness.  Prevent sickness by properly transporting, storing, and serving food correctly in the heat.

Cold food should be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth. Foods like salads and desserts in serving dishes can be placed directly on ice.                                            

Hot food should be kept above 140° F. Wrap it up and keep the food in an air-tight, insulated container until it’s time to chow down.


Whether hot or cold, food should not sit out for more than 2 hours. In temperatures above 90° F food should not sit out for more than 1 hour.

Outdoor Fun!

Outdoor Fun!


And lastly, Enjoy the Summer Festivities!


Maximizing Your Floor Space May 21, 2013

sports table top-white garden chairs-wheat grass-gold-events-planner-newport-ri


One of the most important aspects to planning any event is to Arrange Accordingly. Knowing exactly how many chairs, tables, and extra tables you need in the room can be a guessing game for some events, but these tables and chairs dominate the event space. It is important to set them up in a way that is conducive to the entire party environment. Not to mention arranging them in a way that doesn’t make the tables seem like a maze for guests.  Read on to avoid trapping guests in a claustrophobic haze of stylishly decorated chairs and tables!


Know your party size. And stick to it. Don’t continually fluctuate on how many people you think are coming.  We all know that for some events like a repast it can be hard to get a definite number ahead of time, and of course it is always good to have one or two extra settings  just in case, but try to have a ballpark estimate if you can’t get a definitive number.   It makes planning out floor space and table settings a lot easier.


Don’t overbook. If the banquet hall or room you are renting out says it can fit 100 people maximum, don’t  try to be sneaky and think you’ll be able to squeeze in an extra 40 people. Between tables, chairs, and potentially a buffet and/or dance floor, you want people to be able to move about. Nobody wants to be trapped in a corner table where they can’t move from their seat because the tables are so close together.


Be familiar with the venue. Take a look around your venue space/banquet hall prior to the event and familiarize yourself with the room shape. This will make it easier to visual where you want everything to go when you are planning out your table setup.


These tables are nicely spaced throughout the room

These tables are nicely spaced throughout the room


Account for additions. Having a dance floor? That takes up space. So does a  DJ/band, buffet tables, a gift table, any display tables, any tents, and a bar. Make sure you account for these additional aspects and that you leave ample space for your guests to access them. Trust me, you don’t want to block anyone’s path to the bar.


Draw a floor plan. Whether you are going to be the one physically moving the tables or not, it always helps to draw a floor plan and know ahead of time how you want the room to be set up. Draw in the tables, entrances, exits, and any additional elements like where the bar or DJ will be.


And lastly, some table arrangement reminders:

·         Never have a table directly in front of the entrance

·         Don’t place tables in front of exits or too close to any doors

·         Avoid placing tables directly under air vents. Nobody wants Grandma shivering the whole time!

·         Make sure tables are not too close to the buffet/bar/dessert station. Guests need to be able to mill about and linger (when deciding to go back for seconds!)


5 Crowd-Pleasing Hor’ D’oeuvers April 24, 2013



No matter what type of event you’re throwing, there are some hor’ d’oeuvers that are sure to be crowd-pleasers! Whether you are ordering these tasty treats, buying them, or making them from scratch, they are sure to win over your hungry crowd. While these hor’ d’oeuvers are rather simple, you want guests to eat the food, so sometimes plain yet tasty is better! The key to a great party is great food; get your guests’ palate’s yearning for more with these succulent hor’ d’oeuvers.




1. Mini Frankfurters. A classic. Simple and tasty, these mini frankfurters will please everyone from your 5 year old nephew to your 80 year old aunt. Everyone loves a mini-dog! Serve with a zesty mustard, honey mustard, or traditional yellow mustard.


2. Chicken Satay. Juicy meat on a stick? How could anyone resist? Go with a garlic-herb, teriyaki, or barbeque seasoning depending on the type of event you’re having.  Serve with peanut sauce or soy sauce.  Not a chicken fan? Go with beef satay. Both are delicious options!






3. Coconut Shrimp. Perfect for seafood lovers, this is a sweet, savory, and crispy alternative to the above meat options.




4. Vegetable Rolls. It is always a refreshing alternative to be able to spice up your hor’ d’oeuver options with a dish that may not exactly coincide with the rest of your appetizers and meal. Serve with classic duck sauce, spicy peanut sauce, or soy sauce.




5. Bruschetta. Crunchy and bursting with flavor, bruschetta is a great appetizer for Italians and non-Italians alike! A fresh alternative to bruschetta is a slice of tomato and mozzarella, and a basil leaf on a crispy piece of bread. The tomato and mozzarella combo can be done without the bread too. Drizzle with balsamic or top with fresh pesto. Delish!




A Butterfly Party April 18, 2013

Lovely Purple & White Butterfly Theme

Lovely Purple & White Butterfly Theme


As the weather gets warmer we await the beautiful butterflies that will flutter around us. These dainty creatures offer wonderful inspiration for a bridal or baby shower or for a young girl’s birthday party.


The Decorations: The whole butterfly theme really adds an element of fantasy to the party. Go for this look of whimsy and adorn fake butterflies to the seats, shelves, and even walls around the house.

So crafty!

So crafty!


Look on Bugs and Blooms website to purchase cute butterfly decorations. Craft stores like Michaels have them as well. Paper, fabric, plastic, and even wooden butterflies will all look great.


Pink and Yellow Theme!

Pink and Yellow Theme!


  • Cut out butterflies out of pretty card-stock and you can hang them across the room or vertically over the table
Hanging across the table

Hanging across the table


Great way to incorporate the butterflies!

Great way to incorporate the butterflies!


The Table: Usually the centerpiece of the party, the table is a great place to incorporate butterflies!

  • Tie ribbon around the back of the table chairs
  • Place paper butterflies or the costume butterfly wings on the back of the chairs
  • For a centerpiece: Place a bunch of small branches (real or fake) in a vase and adorn with butterflies
  • Another centerpiece idea: Place flowers and butterflies in and around a birdcage


Rustic-looking, yet still sophisticated!

Rustic-looking, yet still sophisticated!


The Food:  Butterflies can easily be integrated into many desserts!

  • Attach a paper butterfly to a straw and serve in drinks
  • Butterfly-shaped cookies, butterfly cupcakes, and you can probably guess the last one, a butterfly cake


Even if the party isn’t necessarily “butterfly themed” these creatures are still cute decorations to incorporate into any party!


Party Planning on a Tight Budget April 16, 2013


Everyone loves a birthday party!

When you want to plan a memorable party but your bank account seems to keep dwindling, don’t cancel you party plans just yet. There are a bunch of ways to conserve your cash while still being able to pull off a pumpin’ party!


Plan ahead. The cost of food, venues, and entertainment will be cheaper if you book them farther in advance. Know if the party is going to be themed; buy all the items needed in bulk.


Be cost-efficient. Do you really need to invite the cousins that no one has heard from in three years? I’m all about the more the merrier but excess heads means higher prices. Besides cutting back on the number of guests, some other ways to cut back on costs include:

  • Send out electronic invitations. Save money, save trees, everyone wins.
  • Make and bring your own food. Depending on what type of event you’re having and for how many people, it may be pretty simple to do a potluck buffet of homemade appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
Potluck Dinner. Yum!

Potluck Dinner. Yum!

  • If you need drivers to bring guests to and from the location, don’t hire a fancy limo or car service. Neighbors and friends make the best drivers!
  • No DJ? No problem! Create an awesome playlist ahead of time and everyone can jam out to those tunes all night, no need to pay someone to do it for you!
  • Look for less-expensive locations. Although a venue space is important, the atmosphere of the party will be determined by the people that are there. Places like Elks Clubs, Firehouses, and Parish Centers offer great prices for renting out the space for a night.


Stay focused. Ditch the extravagance. Although all the extra decorations and overly priced food seem like a necessity, they are not. Nobody needs all the bells and whistles to have a good time. Sure, if it’s your wedding then attention to every minute detail is important, but if you’re throwing together a birthday party, shower, or a just-because party, less is more. Some things that would not be considered a necessity include:

  • A photo booth or photo backdrop. A picture is a picture, whether it has a fabricated background or not.
  • Ice sculptures. It makes total sense to pay hundred for melting ice.
Looks cool, but it will be water in a few hours time!

Looks cool, but it will be water in a few hours time!

Know your guests. Spending money on filet mignon tips for a gaggle of girls at a Sweet Sixteen will be a waste of money. Stick with simpler (and thus usually cheaper) foods for younger crowds. On that note, parties with older crowds will probably want food service aspects like coffee, tea, and after-dinner drinks. Budget your food expenses according to the dietary desires of your guests.


Think about what you are willing to spend more money on, whether that be the food, an exquisite cake, or a DJ or band and make “budget cuts” among other areas of the party. Ultimately, try to find a happy medium in balancing, cost, quality, and style, but if this proves difficult and you have to make decisions, choose what will best suit your vision and plan for the party.


Springtime: A Time for Religious Celebrations April 11, 2013

Springtime flowers


Spring is definitely in full bloom. After a few absolutely gorgeous days, with the warm spring breeze rippling the trees, I can’t help but be reminded of the meaning of spring.


Springtime, besides the bunnies, flowers, and unexpected rain showers, coincides with renewal. Spring is a celebration of life, a return to joy after a dull, dormant winter. In correlation with the rebirth of life that occurs during the springtime, many religious ceremonies also occur in these months. Chances are that you are attending a Christening, First Holy Communion, or Confirmation within the next few weeks. Celebrations of these religious milestones reflect the journey into deeper faith and the sense of tranquility this brings along with the transition.

Yummy cross cupcakes

Yummy cross cupcakes


Planning and decorating for a Baptism or Communion can be a bit challenging because the atmosphere may be more subdued than a regular party. However, this serene aura serves as a great platform from where you can reflect the peace and innocence in these ceremonies through the party ambiance.


A great way to reflect this tranquility is to decorate using subtle and clean colors. A white on white color scheme will look fresh and is always in style. Tying in other pastel colors, like sky blue, a light pear green, lavender, will accentuate the table setting and emphasize the spring palate. White settings with a hint of silver or gold is a little more glam but still sophisticated for an affair of this nature.

The  sky blue tablecloths are a innovative alternative to traditional white

The sky blue tablecloths are a innovative alternative to traditional white


A refreshing combination of white and light green

A refreshing combination of white and light green


In terms of decorative food, sticking with subtle colors is the way to go. Religious-themed desserts are a cute idea; definitely a crowd-pleaser as well.

Beautifully decorated cookies

Beautifully decorated cookies


I have always loved the clean, crisp look of Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation parties. These celebrations have become a springtime commonplace and represent the beautiful blessings we all have in our lives. Embrace the serenity of the spring before the hustle and bustle of summer time arrives (and with it the height of wedding season)!


Spotlight: The Elan Catering and Events April 8, 2013

The Elan

The Elan

Can’t find a venue that offers stellar banquet rooms and an exquisite cuisine for your event? Look no further then The Elan in Lodi, New Jersey. The Elan, featuring catering and event services, redefines the traditional notion of a banquet hall.  Dedicated to exceptional service, The Elan has seamlessly integrated modern elements into its banquet halls and overall services to emphasize the celebrations that its guests gather to attend.


The Elan has recently undergone extensive renovations; it is featured in Wedding Wire’s  Bride’s Choice Awards of 2013 as an excellent venue in northern New Jersey. Whether you are planning a wedding, cocktail party, sweet sixteen, religious celebration, anniversary party, corporate retreat, or a class reunion, The Elan’s modern banquet rooms can easily be transformed into the look you want. The main event spaces at The Elan include:

The Grand Ballroom decorated for an event

The Grand Ballroom decorated for an event


Grand Ballroom: Features an expanded lobby and exquisite chandeliers. Room has two built-in bars, a marble dance floor, and a state of the art audio and visual system. Seats 400 for a sit-down dinner, 500 for cocktails and dancing.


Alessandra Room: A more intimate space than the Grand Ballroom, the Alessandra room includes elements that emphasize a classic style. Room has a dance floor and built-in bar. Seats 160 for dinner, 250 for cocktails.


Isabella Room: The smallest of three larger spaces available. Includes sound and audio and visual equipment, a built-in bar, and can accommodate a small dance floor or stage. Seats 50 for dinner, 75 for cocktails. Great for hosting small birthday parties, anniversaries, business meetings, and holiday parties.


Skylight Room: The glass dome-shaped ceiling illuminates the room and makes it a perfect location for a lovely daytime or nighttime event. Seats up to 90.  Perfect for ceremonies, wine dinners, or for use as a photo backdrop. Can host seated dinners up to 50 guests.

The Skylight Room

The Skylight Room


Beyond the gorgeous venue spaces, The Elan focuses on culinary excellence. They offer predetermined menu options that make planning your event even easier. Additionally, these menus can be adjusted to incorporate vegetarian, kosher, and gluten free options.


The menus offer specific options for the following types of events: Sweet 16s, brunches, corporate breakfasts, corporate lunches, mitzvahs, weddings, and cocktail parties. Each menu comes with the option of a buffet service or a plated-dinner service.


Many of the event packages also offer a cocktail reception that include hor d’oeuvres. Beyond cocktail hour, other cocktail stations include various options like a dumpling and wok station, a seasonal harvest station, and a Latin station. For wedding options, The Elan offers a four course dinner that include the following cocktail stations:

  • Carving station(s)
  •  Tuscan station, featuring upscale Italian favorites
  • Seafood bar with fresh and quality seafood
  • Succulent dessert bar with options including a smore’s bar, dessert shots, a cordial bar, coffee and tea service, an assortment of petite fors, and stuffed chocolate covered strawberries


The Elan is wholly dedicated to making your event memorable and offers wonderful options for all types of events. If you’re interested in planning your next event at The Elan contact them here!

The Alessandra Room

The Alessandra Room



Redefining myself. Trying to hold on to the best of the old and embracing the challenges of the new me.


life is always sweeter and yummier through a lens. bunnyandporkbelly [at] gmail [dot] com

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