Elegantly Yours

Creating and Planning Events. Beautifully.

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


The Perfect Party Favors April 4, 2013

What a cute idea!

What a cute idea!


Party favors are supposed to be a favor. As in thanks for coming, hope you had a great time, and not as in “oh great a mini lint-roller” or something random that would evoke a similar response.


Party favors should be fun and reflect your personality. Even so, there are still a few guidelines you should follow when it comes to choosing the party favor for your event.


Practicality. If you’re having trouble thinking of something creative that won’t be a wash, think practicality. People like gifts that they can and will actually use. No knick-knacks. What am I going to do with a little pail full of confetti? Build a miniature sand castle? No, throw it out.


Ideas for practical favors include:

  • Measuring spoons
  •  Ice-cream scooper
  •  Luggage tag
  • Tea light candle holder


These items can be personalized with a date, name, or phrase. They can easily tie in with your theme or event if you tie a bow or ribbon on them in a color that matches the overall color scheme of your event.


Relevance. Granted, there is usually no way something like an ice-cream scooper could be completely relevant to the actual focus of the party, but if you do have a specific theme, definitely try to stick with the theme when it comes to the party favor.


For example, if you’re having an outdoor wedding, little jars of honey is a great idea. Or packets of flower seeds personalized with your name on them.

My aunt and uncle had these mini honey jars as their wedding favors. So sweet!

My aunt and uncle had these mini honey jars as their wedding favors. So sweet!

For a bridal shower, the attendees will mostly be female so winning favor ideas include:

  • Nail manicure set
  • Bubble bath
  • Hand sanitizer


Food.  Food is great. Always a winner. People like immediate gratification and offering food as your party favor will encourage people to take your favor and eat it right away. Whether you’re planning a sweet sixteen or not, candy bars or gourmet truffles in a cute box always end the night on a sweet note.


Some other food related favors include:

  • Personalized bottles of hot /BBQ sauce
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Mini bottles of ketchup
  • Fortune cookies
  • Breath mints
  • Little jars of spices, honey, or jam
  • Tea bags
Sauce it up!

Sauce it up!


Anything Related to Alcohol. This is not a joke. Think a personalized bottle opener, cork stopper, or a shot or pint glass. Assist your guests in getting that booze flowing!


A Personalized Pint

A Personalized Pint


Price.  Although you may spend an ample amount of time, effort, and money on planning and purchasing your party favors, the truth is that some people may end up leaving it at the party. This is a frequent occurrence at events, so just be wary of the amount of money you are spending on the favor. While it’s always nice to leave from a big event with some memorabilia, it is not worth sacrificing an awesome DJ or a killer cake for party favors.


Simple Ideas for a Tea Party Themed Event March 13, 2013

Filed under: Themes — dziminski @ 12:58 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


It’s a rather rainy Tuesday here in New Jersey and the rain always makes me want to just snuggle up with a hot cup of tea. Speaking of tea, a charming idea for a themed bridal or baby shower would be to host a tea party.


A tea party theme is a great option for a smaller-scale shower. This theme would be better for an in house-party; it will be easier to decorate and to create a cozier atmosphere with couches and comfy chairs as opposed to the banquet chairs that are found in a rented out space. Being in your own home will allow you to add more personal touches to the affair and you will not have to worry about time restraints. Plus you will save money by not renting out a banquet space. A tea party theme can also easily be incorporated into an outdoor garden party, so keep that in mind if the weather is going to be temperate!


Decoration Ideas:

  • Put flowers in old tea tins. Instant centerpieces!
  • Use the tea tin boxes to stack on tables. Or use them as stands where you can place the food dishes.
  • Find old tea cups at a local thrift store or garage sale. Or buy inexpensive ones at shops like HomeGoods. Put tea lights or votives in the cups and violá, tea cup candles!
  • String together dollies to make a cute banner to hang around the room.
  • Personalize tea bags to give as party favors or to use as place holders.
Tea Box Centerpiece

Tea Box Centerpiece



  • The classic mini sandwich. If you’re no cook, get those babies catered! They’ll still taste great and ordering them will save you time.
  • Melted brie and jam. Served with assorted crackers this dish is simply delicious!
  • Early luncheon? Quiche is a must. Eggs, cheese, more cheese, yum.
  • How about a mean gazpacho soup? Or a turkey barley soup if the party is in the winter months. Serve with a dainty side salad.
  • Anything mini. For some reason, people go nuts when food is “mini-ized”.” If you’ve already got mini sandwiches, why not go for the mini muffins, mini cakes, mini chocolates, the works. As long as the gifts for the bride-to-be or mom-to-be don’t become “mini-ized” too!



  • Ask each guest to bring a cookie, instant cookie swap. Guests can fill tea tins with cookies and take some for the road!
  • Scones. I’m not even remotely British, but I’m a sucker for a good scone. Not that you have to be British to enjoy a scone of course! Go for a twist on classic scone flavors. Try something new like cinnamon chip or pumpkin spice scones in addition to the classics like blueberry and lemon.
  • Nobody will ever deny the cuteness or the tastiness of petit fours.
  • Other elegant desserts that a Duchess would approve of include: macaroons, lemon squares, shortbread cookies, tea cakes. Think of what your guests will enjoy!
Tea Cup Candle

Tea Cup Candle


Of course no tea party will be complete without tea! Make sure you have sugar, cinnamon, honey, and milk available for people to perfect their teas. It’s also a good idea to have coffee for the non-tea drinkers.

  • English Breakfast Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Earl Grey Tea
  • Decaf Tea
  • Assorted Herbal Teas (chamomile, mint, lemon)
  • Any other flavors you think will be crowd-pleasers!

Dessert Discussion: The Declining Appeal of the Chocolate Fountain March 6, 2013

Filed under: Food — dziminski @ 11:43 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
The Classic Chocolate Fountain

The Classic Chocolate Fountain

If you’re like me, you start salivating at the mere presence of anything chocolate coated, chocolate dusted, or chocolate topped. While all this chocolate is appealing, chocolate-lovers will agree with me when I say that it is highly disappointing to bite into a lackluster, bland piece of chocolate. Unfortunately, this situation often occurs at events that have an aesthetically pleasing but tastefully disappointing chocolate fountain. Chocolate fountains grace their presence at many events including weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, and Sweet Sixteens, but their actual value to the event is minimal. Chocolate fountains may look beautiful; however, there are many downsides associated with this dessert.


  • It’s messy.  The treacherous 5 seconds of travel time from the fountain to your mouth or plate leaves many opportunities for you to drip melted chocolate on your party attire or for the table around the fountain to get drenched in sticky chocolate dribbles.
  • It’s rather unsanitary. There is no denying that some party-goers will breach chocolate fountain etiquette and double dip a piece of fruit or use their fingers to scoop up a glob of chocolate into their mouths.  Let’s be honest: I don’t care how many people you know or are related to at that event, it’s just gross.
  • The melted chocolate morsels used in the fountain tend to be low quality chocolate . Although a fountain may be more exciting than regular chocolate, it would be more beneficial to spend money on quality chocolate bars than a mediocre tasting chocolate fountain.
  • The chocolate may very well be re-used, yes re-melted and re-used, for different events. We all love to reduce, reuse, recycle, but not in this case.


There are many less messy and just as delicious, if not more delicious, alternatives to a chocolate fountain including the following:

  • A tray or party favor of high-quality handcrafted truffles.
  • Assorted pastries from a bakery. Think mini éclairs, napoleons, cannolis, and cookies.
  • Pre- dipped chocolate covered strawberries. Made with fresh strawberries and high-quality chocolate of course!
Decadent Dark Chocolate Truffles

Decadent Dark Chocolate Truffles


I’m not denying that a chocolate fountain can be pulled off at an event; just be wary of the ambiance you want your event to have and understand that the presence of a fountain could alter the aura of the party. In the end, chocolate is always a hit, so you can’t go wrong whether you go with a fountain or stick with other forms of chocolate desserts. Embrace your sweet-tooth!


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


4 Things to Consider When Ordering a Cake February 23, 2013

Filed under: Food — dziminski @ 2:34 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,
mmm cake!

mmm cake!

If you’re like me and have a pretty large sweet tooth then you won’t be alarmed by my assertion that a cake can make or break an evening’s festivities. The cake is often the attraction where guests gather around and shower well-wishes upon the couple, man, or woman celebrating their day. To make the celebration even sweeter, read these tips about ordering the perfect cake for your event!

  1. Price. Specialty cakes will require a lot of dough. The floury kind and the green kind. If you’re trying to save some of the green kind, it’s not too hard to find a cake that oozes elegance without spending hundreds of dollars in additional icing. Your cake does not have to be from a famous cake shop; many local bakeries create exquisitely decorated and deliciously tasting cakes.
  2. Appearance vs. Taste. Be cautious. An overly decorated intricate cake, while it may look like a work of art, might not taste that great. I think simply decorated cakes are the best; they are classy, beautiful, and taste delectable! It is easy for a baker to tie in a few simple elements of your color scheme or theme into the cake. This is a better option than having an over-the-top cake that tastes like plastic. Nobody wants to bite into mouthful of fondant.
  3. Guests’ Tastes. If you simply love the taste of pina colada and want your cake to be coconut flavored with a pina colada filling, think again. It’s best not to go with an unusual flavor. You do want everyone to eat the cake after all, so stick with the basics: vanilla, chocolate, marble, coffee, strawberry.
  4. Other Desserts. If you are having a lot of guests and think that the cake alone may not suffice, or maybe you just don’t want to admit that you have a lot of, let’s say, heavy eaters attending, then don’t be afraid to bring on the desserts! A cake is staple piece of any event but it does not have to be the only piece. A great idea is to have the cake and then also have a plate of assorted cookies or gourmet chocolates placed at each table. Now that’s icing on the cake.
A beautifully decorated cake from The House of Elegant Cakes

A beautifully decorated cake from The House of Elegant Cakes

 “Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people”

-Audrey Hepburn


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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