Elegantly Yours

Creating and Planning Events. Beautifully.

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.


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


Having a Private Affair in a Public Location March 25, 2013

Dancing in the Street

Dancing in the Street

This past weekend I was down in New Orleans for a conference and while walking around the picturesque French Quarter on Saturday I noticed a bunch of blushing brides and their wedding parties around the town. (In addition to all the Bachelorette parties having a blast on Bourbon Street!)


These bridal parties were all posing for pictures around the historic and gorgeous St. Louis Cathedral and the quaint side streets. The unifying theme between these brides was that these women and their wedding parties were thrust into the public eye when weddings are usually a private affair.

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans


A couple laughing and spontaneously dancing to a jazz band playing in the street

A bride leaning in to whisper something to her father in between photos

A bride and groom holding a sweet, endearing pose for the photographers while the city rushed around them


These charming, personal moments and others like them are private occurrences that are generally tucked away inside a person’s memory. But when an event occurs in a very public location, these moments are projected before the public. A closed, private moment easily transforms into a public show for all; like a movie still the passing pedestrians can glimpse into your life’s celebratory moments.


The night before I saw all these weddings, there was a private party for Microsoft occurring at the Riverwalk along the Mississippi River. This event was closed off to the public. Trust me, I tried to sneak in to get close enough to see Matchbox 20 (who was performing at the event) but I was stopped by security guards. If the security option is out of the question for your event or if your event plans take you out and about in a public area, just know that there will be onlookers.   If you are rather shy and don’t like the idea of outsiders being able to peek into your special moments then it might not hurt to consider having your event at a more remote location.

A bridal party posing for pictures adjacent to the cathedral

A bridal party posing for pictures adjacent to the cathedral


Feel weird with a crowd of people staring at you and your hubby taking pics? Don’t! People love to rejoice and often find the beauty of weddings and other cool events irresistible. You may feel like you’re being thrust into an undesired spotlight, but c’mon, we all know everyone loves to ham it up now and then! Bask in your celebrity moment and appreciate the passersby’s’ well-wishes!


In all, be aware of the potential for onlookers and don’t be alarmed by them. If they take you by surprise, roll with it and embrace the moment!




Rent a Private Estate for Your Wedding February 27, 2013

Filed under: Venues — dziminski @ 12:49 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
A lovely outdoor wedding

A lovely outdoor wedding


If my life was like Diane Lane’s life in Under the Tuscan Sun then I would love to host weddings and other assorted parties in my backyard. Unfortunately my backyard is not a picturesque Italian landscape. But don’t worry, the reality of the tri-state landscape teaches us a wonderful lesson about the location, location, location of an event. While there are many stunning venues, hotels, museums, and ballrooms in New Jersey and New York, there is something warm and enticing about hosting an event in a more private location.  If you’re looking for an atypical wedding atmosphere, look no further than someone else’s house. Seriously. An emerging trend in weddings is to rent a private estate for a week or weekend to have your wedding. I have been hearing more talk about renting out wedding properties and found this article on the topic from the NY Times rather interesting.


Homeowners of private residences and estates have been listing their properties on event and wedding websites to attract brides who are looking for something a bit different than the average venue. Many of these estates are in the Hamptons, and they offer an elegant, natural location for weddings (they often include beach access as well!). These venues present the perfect background setting for creating your own version of an upscale backyard wedding. They are an intimate alternative to the sometimes forced, stuffy atmosphere of a typical indoor wedding. These residences are rented out and their privacy enables you to add special touches that will transform the location into the feel you’re going for on your big day.

Oheka Castle in the Hamptons

Oheka Castle in the Hamptons


A quaint estate offering an airy and lush backyard atmosphere would be an absolutely lovely location for an outdoor wedding. My friend Stephanie has a blog about sophisticated and chic outdoor weddings called True Blue Wedding. She offers creative tips about adding those personal touches to make your outdoor wedding truly memorable. Check out her blog here!


Oheka Castle Backyard

Oheka Castle Backyard


Grounds For Sculpture Offers a Unique Location for Events February 16, 2013

Filed under: Venues — dziminski @ 7:34 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
The Nine Muses at Grounds for Sculpture

The Nine Muses at Grounds for Sculpture

Picking the venue for your event can make or break the style and feel you are going for. While the Jerz and the surrounding tri-state area offer a plethora of event locations and banquet halls, Grounds For Sculpture is a marvelous location for your wedding or corporate event. Who doesn’t want their wedding photos adorned with a bunch of oddly placed and naked sculptures lingering in the background?


Of course I am kidding! Located in Hamilton, New Jersey Grounds for Sculpture is often recognized for its consistency in hosting beautifully decorated and flawlessly executed parties and corporate events. The combination of contemporary art and natural elements spread across its 35-acre separate Grounds for Sculpture from the traditional banquet facility. The stylish, modern hanging lights and the open and airy rooms make Grounds For Sculpture a unique location for a fresh yet elegant event.


One of the great aspects of Ground for Sculpture is the variety of rooms and halls they have available. There is a place for every type of event.

  • The Main Hall: The largest indoor space, the Main Hall can fit 150 seats with a dance floor and 220 without one. The Main Hall offers stunning gorgeous park views and opens to an outdoor terrace.
  • Rat’s Restaurant: Rat’s boasts a country-feel with a stylish interior. Great food, great atmosphere.
  • Toad Hall Gallery: A small gallery space perfect for intimate, sophisticated events.
  • The Nine Muses: An outdoor plaza; the most popular location for wedding ceremonies at the park. Simply stunning.
  • The Gazebo: Can you say cocktail hour?! The Gazebo overlooks the Lotus Pond and is in the heart of the park.
  • West Lounge: Think corporate events. The open bar area is just right for a mingling crowd.
Interior of Rat's Restaurant

Interior of Rat’s Restaurant


Grounds For Sculpture is receptive to your needs and offers a large assortment of catering choices and venue options. If this nontraditional blend of art, style, and nature appeals to you then peruse the Grounds for Sculpture website at http://www.groundsforsculpture.org/rentals.html


P.S. If Grounds For Sculpture isn’t what you’re looking for in a venue, it’s still a great place to go for the day and have lunch! Tour the park and frolic with the peacocks. Admission is $12.



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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