Wedding Gift Ideas

Wine Rack with Occasional Wines:

This is idea is great as a group gift from the bridal party. Buy a wine rack and fill it with bottles for special occasions that will come in the couple’s first year of marriage. Tag them so they know when to use them. They’re first New Year’s Eve, Valentines Day, religious holidays, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Anniversaries, etc.

Recipe + Ingredients and Utensils

Lots of bridal showers these days will send recipe cards in the mail along with the invitation. For me, this is an instant gift idea. I almost always will give a recipe for my mother’s ice cream cake which can’t be made with a spring form pan. Add a gift card to Ben & Jerry’s, a few candy bars, a serving plate and you are good to go.

Custom Champagne Bottle:

Great idea for a shower gift or a wedding gift for the couple’s honeymoon. You can DIY or go to sites like mymoet.com  and have the couple’s names, wedding date, or cute phrase added to a celebratory bottle.

Jewelry Travel Bag

Clearly the bride has gotten a few new jewels recently. Why not upgrade her travel bag too? Spend a little more on a brand that will last. Luggage in general is a nice thought, but the jewelry bag has an extra intimate touch for this occasion. Even if she’s not going on some exotic honeymoon, the bride will deserve to at some point!

Family Tree:

If you are attending a wedding of an immediate family member consider a giving a family tree. It is one of those thoughtful gestures that you think about doing for yourself but never quite get around to. There is also the symbolic gesture associated with adding the new bride or groom to the family. Photo frames, handwritten or printed texts, or actually illustrated trees will work.

Family Recipe Book:

Another thoughtful idea for a family member or close friend-of-the-family is a recipe book. Yes, it can be done on a budget and it will likely turn out to be the most coveted and useful books in the kitchen. Using a book printing site like snapfish will add a touch of class and professionalism that the average recipe card box lacks.

Photo Album:

I got this ingenious idea from a frugal wedding post. With six weddings on my plate this year I have been looking for all of the creative help I can get. I think this one might be a winner. The idea is not your average photo album. For those of you who have been married you know that wedding photos can take weeks or months to get back to you. Albums can come up to a year later. Ok finally the idea – attend the wedding, take photos, and have an album printed for the couple ASAP. Even if you’re not the best photographer (which shouldn’t matter, that’s why they paid for one) they will be thrilled to have an album in front of them to show off to the throngs of people who will be asking for pictures.

Honeymooning

If you know where the happy couple will be honeymooning, buy them something for their trip. If they are going to a resort or on a cruise check out gift packages that their host might offer. I’ve done dinner packages and drink tickets at all inclusive resorts and cruises. Excursions are also great ideas, but make sure you know the couple’s taste or ask them first. If they’re going to a foreign country why not give them a wad of cash in the foreign currency? These gift are extra-thoughtful and can be a great surprise!

Registry

You can’t go wrong with the registry. You might think it’s impersonal but it is what they couple wants after all and if everyone ignored the registry you would have one bummed married couple on your hands! If all else fails, you know it… CA$H is king.

NYC Bachelorette Party How-To

Ashley’s recipe for a New York City Bachelorette party.

Ingredients:

1 Bride
1 Bridal Party
*Optional friends and family of the Bride

1 Hotel (see hotel room variations)
1 Guest room package per hotel room
1 Set of party favors per guest
1 Ice breaker
1 Case of champagne
1 Case of water
*Optional additional beverages

1 Dinner venue or caterer (see dinner variations)
1 Party venue
*Optional toasting venue with a view

Time line

6 months in advance: Discuss location (NYC) and date with bride and bridal party. If you want the event to be a surprise for the bride, that’s just fine, but of course make sure she will be available for the date you are planning. It is also a good idea to discuss expectations with her. Does she want it to be a surprise? Where on a scale of trashy-phallic-sloppiness to classy-sophisticated-soberness does her idea of fun fall?
4 months in advance: Book hotel rooms and set estimated budgets. Send save-the-dates.
3 months in advance: Book party venue. Send invitations.
1 month in advance: Book dinner venue or caterer. Require to be RSVP’s returned and collect any up-front costs.

Hotel

I have used three different kinds of hotels for three different parties and they have all done the job. Hotels can consume a big part of the party budget, so it is best to book rooms as soon as possible. During planning I usually book at multiple hotels on different dates, checking to make sure there are no cancellation fees. Consider sleeping arrangements when forming the guest list. Also, do your hotel research. You are not going to want to stay at a family-friendly hotel for this kind of event, even if you don’t plan on being rowdy. Multiple people in one room will be a cause for noise complaints that will put a huge damper on the party.

Standard Hotel Rooms:
In most cases you will be working with groups of women who know each other and wont mind sharing a room or bed for the night. Fitting four into a double room will be cost effective and these rooms are available at nearly every hotel in the city. I booked double rooms in Times Square for a group of mostly out-of-towners. The excitement of Times Square outside of the window makes for an instant party.

Extended Stay Rooms:
Some hotels, like the Residence Inn near Bryant Park, are meant for the extended stay traveler. These rooms come with full kitchens, dining area or living room and a pull out sofa. Again, a great option for out-of-towners who need a place to stay and to entertain.

Suites:
If you are looking for the most bang for your buck (people per room) suites are probably not the way to go. They most often come with one king bed and living area and are very expensive. They are however a great place to kick off the party. If you are working with a smaller group or with city dwellers, consider springing for a suite for the bride and start your party there.

Favors & Extras

I love the element of surprise in event planning. Your guests will mostly likely know that they will be paying for a room, dinner and drinks for the night, but add some extra money into your budget for party favors and extras. Gift bags in the hotel rooms or offering to pick up the cost of a limo ride is a great surprise for all of the guests. (Ask your hotel about limo rides, they are surprisingly reasonable in the city ~$5/person).

Fun ideas: Make-up bags filled with overnight essentials, toiletries, chocolates, undies, costume jewelry, champagne glasses, hangover cures.

Ice Breaker
It’s a good idea to have at least one game planned. Depending on the audience,  you can go with anything from an “I’ve Never” card game to the classic “Pin the Junk on the Hunk.” Whatever you choose should be light-hearted, casual, and a fun get-to-know-you game for all of the guests to participate in. I encourage the first bottle of champagne be popped at this time if it hasn’t been already.

Dinner

I’ve done dinner three ways. Dine-in catering, heavy hors d’oeuvres and late night snacking, and sit down reservations. These options have a lot to do with time and budget. Dine in catering (delivery) works great if you have people who will be arriving at all different times and will need time in the hotel to get ready to go out. Hors d’oeuvres are another flexible option for those on a budget. This option works best at the extended stay hotels that offer a kitchen. Sit down dinners take time and can be more expensive, but they also give everyone the option of ordering their own meal a la carte.

Party Venue

I don’t care if you are a New Yorker born and raised. With the amount of turnover that New York City nightlife sees you are going to have to start this task by asking around. If you aren’t from New York and don’t have anyone to ask, start with Shecky’s Party Aid. I have used this tool a lot as a starting point to my venue searches. They offer a lot of variety and package deals that will cater to your group.

If you have the time, I highly recommend stopping for one drink (a toast) at a roof top bar with a view. It is a great photo opp for the night and will get everyone in the New York state of mind.

Last words of advice…
If you can, work out a per person all-inclusive budget. My most successful parties are the ones where money is no object (because everything has been pre-paid)! Calculate the cost of the hotel room, the catering, the bottle service, the tax and tip and the extras and ask for the money up front with the RSVP. The bridal party can pitch in to cover the cost of the Bride (and any other expenses that they might be able to handle) to keep the event at an affordable cost for everyone.

5 Free iPhone Apps for 20-Somethings

1. Kik Messengerbecause you miss BBMKik

Text  in Real Time

The beauty of BlackBerry Messanger was all in the delivery. Now you can have it back. Toss your BBM pin and grab a Kik username.

Kik Messenger tells you when a message has been sent , delivered, read, and even when someone is typing back, turning regular texting into real-time conversations. Texts are unlimited and also work on iPods and Android platforms.

2. Urbanspoonthe dinner date decision maker

http://acdn-media.tecca.com/2010/11/01/jf-300px-usslotmachine-300w.jpg

If food is your goal and decision making is not one of your strong points leave yourself in the hands of Urbanspoon’s mobile apps, a kind of restaurant slot machine.

The app is location based and wide spread so it is perfect whether you are traveling or in your own neighborhood.

You can customize your choices based on the neighborhood, cuisine and price you are interested in. Keep spinning until you get a restaurant you want to try. If you don’t like the luck of the draw slot machine, you can search or browse restaurants, or use your current location to identify the nearest restaurants to you.

If all that wasn’t cool enough, Urbanspoon allows for customer reviews and menu previews so you can be sure your selection will be a good one!

3. Real Simple Listsbecause you don’t know where to start

As a 20 something you are going to be faced with some new tasks you have not been faced with in your early years… like cleaning your house top to bottom. This app contains more than 30 popular Real Simple checklists, which you can customize, including:

http://img4.realsimple.com/images/work-life/app-main_300.jpg

  • 10 cleaning and organizing lists
  • Home inventory & safety lists
  • Moving list
  • Get out of debt list
  • Vacation packing and planning lists
  • Wardrobe basics list
  • Beauty care list according to time of year
  • Party planning lists
  • Baby shower planning list
  • Christmas countdown list
  • 6 Wedding planning lists

4. To-Do Tomorrowfeel good about procrastinating

This is essentially verbatim from their site… and it’s perfect.

Do you love procrastinating? Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow? That’s the spirit!  Planning out your entire week is a bummer – To-Do (Tomorrow) lets you give yourself reminders for today, but makes it really easy to push things off to tomorrow. Party today, do tasks tomorrow!

This app is really simple, sharp looking, and fun to use. You can add items quickly and get the satisfaction of crossing them off or pushing them to the next day.

iPhone Screenshot 2iPhone Screenshot 1

 

 

5. Instagrameverything is beautiful

Instagram

If you have an iPhone without this app on it, you are behind the times. Instagram is an amazingly fun and simple social photography app.

Instagram’s photo filters will take your lame cell phone photos and transform them into frame-ready works of art.

You can take, change and post as many photos as you want, for free. The social side of the app also allows you to find and follow friends who are using the app. Built in sharing allows for posts to Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Posterous, Facebook and Foursquare.

Here are a few of my own: