Event Inspiration: The Black & White Wedding

With the dog days of summer upon us (where did the summer go?!) and Fall quickly approaching, I wanted to create a wedding that meshes these seasons together into one, perfect evening…

And an early Fall wedding can actually be a difficult one to plan. You’re still in the relaxed summer mindset but with that crispness beginning to touch the air, you just may want to insert that little bit of formal flair.

But there’s nothing a little black, white, and glitter gold can’t fix! Black and White Wedding 1

The black and white lends that touch of formality but added in polka dots and stripes, maintains that sense of summer fun. Throw in a bit of glamorous gold and a hint of Autumn rose and you’ve just found yourself true love!

Black and White Wedding 2

Speaking of glamour and true love, this venue couldn’t get any better! The Nottoway Plantation, located between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, is the perfect blend of bold and rustic.

With a few elegant touches…

Black and White Wedding 3

…a mixture of rose and wildflowers…

Black and White Wedding 4

…and some fun-loving finger foods…

Black and White Wedding 5

…and, well, you have yourself an amazing and glamorously playful wedding!

The only thing that could possibly top the décor is the bride herself…

Black and White Wedding 6

Va Va Voom!

Summertime Entertaining Made Easy.

There’s nothing better than sitting outdoors, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the company of friends and family. But actually getting to this moment can often be stressful, particularly if it’s an impromptu gathering. What should I serve?! What do I cook? Do I have time to run to the grocery store? Will everyone get eaten alive by mosquitos?! Aaack! If you’re anything like me, this then leads to a mad dash into the kitchen to desperately scour through the pantry, hoping that supplies are on hand.

Well, fret not my friends! As an extreme worry-wart myself, I’m here to tell you that everything is going to be ok. Really! Just a few simple supplies can transform a humdrum gathering into that perfect summertime soiree.

Garden Party 1 w watermark

Let me start by saying – summertime gatherings needn’t be fancy. This is a time of maxi dresses, flip flops, shorts, and tank tops. Create your entertainment accordingly! Pitchers of ice tea, water, and lemonade, a bucket of beer, and a carafe of wine spritzer should do the trick nicely.

Add to that just a couple more ingredients and you have yourself a party. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Flowers: whether home grown or fresh from the market, flowers add that instant pop of color. Again, you don’t need to get fancy here! Just a few wildflowers in an old tin can or mason jar, a bundle of tulips or sunflowers in a pitcher, or single flowers in a few empty wine bottles. Whatever you have on hand will work!

Craftberry Bush - Summer tablescape with free wild flowers.

Photography: Ashlee Raubach  Interior Design: Nicole Davisflower display

  • Fruit: I don’t know about you, but when I think of summer I can’t help but think of deliciously fresh fruit…peaches, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon – oh my! There’s nothing like biting into a juicy peach on a hot summer day. So be sure to set out bowls overflowing with seasonal fruits. Make a fruit salad. Add fruits to your ice tea and lemonade. Freeze them into your ice cubes. Whip them into a dessert. Do whatever you need to do to get as many fruits on the table as possible! Need some inspiration and a few recipes to get you started..?

Secret Fruit Salad: The secret is dry vanilla pudding mix. It combines with all the juices from the fruit & makes a scrumptious dressing that coats every bite. People will ask you for the recipe it's so good!

Secret Fruit Salad

Sweet Paul's Chocolate Chip Filled Raspberries

Chocolate Filled Raspberries

Raspbery beer cocktail

Strawberry Basil Lemonade Cocktail / Raspberry Beer Cocktail

Ginger Peach Soda

  • Veggies! Like fruit, fresh veggies are another summer must. Keep it simple with a veggie platter and other pop into the mouth options like this:

Tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto, basil

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella, and Prosciutto

Or, I suppose you can go a little fancier and go for something like this…

layered summer salad - shrimp, avocados, grilled corn, black bean salsa, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese, & creamy cilantro tomatillo dressing.

Delicious & refreshing!

  • Airflow. Glorious, cool air: not only does a fan keep your guests cool, but it keeps those little buggers away (I mean the bugs, not your friends)! Flies and mosquitos have a hard time flying in high wind so keep the airflow steady and directed at your food.

Vintage Fan

  • Foods fresh from the grill: Need I say more? Here are a couple amazing recipes to try:

Cheddar Jalapeno Chicken Burgers + Guacamole / whats gaby cooking

Cheddar Jalapeno Burgers with Guacamole (toppings make the burger!)

Chipotle chicken kabobs with avocado cream sauce

Chipotle Chicken Kabobs with Avocado Cream Sauce

Grilled Corn with Tequila Lime Butter #recipe

Grilled Corn with Tequila Lime Butter

  • Lighting: if you plan on partying through the night, make sure you have a few lights on hand. Tiki torches, tea candles, lanterns, or just a few lights strung through your trees or over your pergola not only create a dreamy glow, but they allow your patrons to see where they are going!

Poppytalk: Light it Up: Outdoor LanternsOld shutter doors as a backrop, strung with lights = gorgeous!

We need to do this on trees and columns. Just need to figure out electricity

You see? Not too hard is it?! And to make life as stress free as possible, here’s a grab and go checklist for you:

Summertime Entertaining – Grab & Go Checklist:

  • Ice
  • Beer & Wine
  • Vodka, Gin, and/or Tequila for Cocktails
  • Tonic and/or Mineral Water
  • Cooler, Bucket, Wagon, or Barrel for Drinks
  • Pitchers & Glasses
  • Plates & Serving Ware
  • Flowers & Containers
  • Lemons or Pre-made Lemonade
  • Tea Bags for Iced Tea
  • Fruit – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, watermelon, and lime (basil & mint to accompany)
  • Veggies – lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, onion, carrots, celery, cucumber, zucchini, squash (basil, mozzarella, prosciutto, shrimp, jalapenos, and/or ranch dressing to accompany)
  • Meat for Grilling (your choice of cheese/toppings to accompany)
  • Corn for Grilling (butter to accompany)
  • A Fan & Extension Cord
  • Tea Candles, Tiki Torches, Lanterns, or String of Lights

Now go forth and party!


With summertime officially in full force, I have no doubt that many travels, soirees and barbeques will ensue (ehem, Independence Day anyone??). And as those invites pile up, so will your need to find the perfect host/hostess gift that really expresses your heartfelt thanks. Of course, oftentimes a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer will do the trick! But what to do when you want to give your thanks that little extra oomph…?

Fret not my friends! I have teamed up with Hometalk to curate a little DIY gift giving guide just for you:


All of these projects are quick, easy, and can be created with what you may already have on hand – and most importantly, will leave your host feeling all tingly inside!

  1. Simmer Potpourri: A mason jar and a few household ingredients is all it takes to turn a house into a home – a good smelling home! Next time you head to a housewarming party, jar up this simple recipe and hand it over as a congratulatory gift. Just remember to make enough for yourself!
  2. Framed Chalkboard: I’m of the mind that one can never have too many chalkboards – especially if you like to host parties. Next time you head to a party, bring a framed chalkboard instead of a thank you card. Bonus if you pair it with flowers or a boxwood plant!
  3. Avocado Seed in a Jar: Remember those childhood days when you’d stick toothpicks in a seed and watch it slowly sprout over the summer? Well, now is the perfect time to go old-school and give the gift of life with this avocado seed! Perfect for a garden-themed or child’s party…and who doesn’t love a little guacamole?
  4. Natural Branch Coasters: After the recent summer storms, you may have a fallen branch or tree laying around in your yard. Instead of chucking it, put it to good use and create beautifully natural coasters! Tie up a set with twine and pair with a pitcher of lemonade or iced tea.
  5. Refinished Breadboards: I am in love with breadboards of all shapes and sizes. Not only are they incredibly useful when hosting a party, they also make excellent wall and table décor! Next time you’re invited to a cocktail party, bring a little added bonus to your gift of wine and cheese by including a baguette with a refinished breadboard (found on a dime at thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales, etc.).
  6. Book Page Rope Bowl: I am in LOVE with this easy-to-do project! All it takes is an old or cheap bowl, a bundle of rope or twine, misc. book pages (or you can use scrap fabric), and a glue gun and voila! Not only did you just clean out your cabinet of an old bowl, but you’ve made yourself an amazing gift for your host. Fill with seasonal fruit for a delicious thank you!
  7. Memo Board: Sometimes, a sweet and simple note is all you need to say thank you. Attach it to a handmade message board for a gift your host will use over and over again!
  8. Who doesn’t love decorative and delicious smelling soap?! With just a few ingredients and 20 minutes, you’ve got yourself a gift your hostess will love.
  9. Rosemary-Citrus Goat’s Milk Soap Bars: If you plan on crashing with friends or family over your summer travels, this is the perfect gift to pack with you. With just a few ingredients and 20 minutes of your time, you’ve got yourself a deliciously fragrant gift your host is unlikely to forget (and a batch makes plenty of gifts to go around)!
  10. Antique Window Signage: I come across antique windows of all shapes and sizes throughout my pickings – and most come at a super cheap price. Try to collect a few during your next antiquing session and you’ll have a guaranteed gift for your next party. Simply add a stencil and pair with flowers, or cookies, or, my personal favorite to go along with a “milk & cream” sign – gourmet coffee! Because your host will definitely need a little pick-me-up.

Have these ideas gotten your creative juices flowing yet? If so, head on over to Hometalk for much more inspiration! There are 10 more projects – you heard me, 10 more! – that will make those juices boil over. And you’ll never have to worry about heading to a party empty-handed again.


Today is just one of those days in which the world seems to have come together and everything has fallen into its perfect place…

Two years ago today, I married my best friend.

Ceremony 079

Formals 179

Reception 196

And in these two years we’ve traveled together…


Tom & KK on Boat

…laughed together, cried together, and had many a drink together…

Tom & KK Drinking

Croatia Wine

Tom & KK

…snuggled together, played together, and worked out together…

Funny Snuggles

…made a house into a home together and found a new addition to our family together…

Ollie 1 copy

…and now, at exactly 4 months today, we are expecting another addition to the family…

16 Weeks 1

16 Weeks 2

A little baby bump!

It’s amazing and thrilling and exciting to have shared in these moments together and to look forward to the many wondrous moments we have ahead.

Of course, the last two years haven’t always been easy – there’s been some heartache, a lot of screaming and yelling (at least on my part…), slamming of doors, and the occasional silent treatment, but it’s been worth every minute of it.

I love you honey – happy anniversary!


Easter is a family-filled time of celebration and festivities. And whether or not you’re religious, it’s next to impossible not to join in on the fun! If you’re planning an Easter event for friends and family, here are a few tips and suggestions:

1. Use your china. Play with your china. Mix and match your china!

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2. Florals and cupcakes. Need I say more?

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3. And lots of other mini foods…

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4. Hats. Especially for the kids!

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5. Speaking of kids, give them there own happy place.

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6. But don’t forget the adults…

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7. Simplify…

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8. But never let your guests go home empty handed!

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Of course, if you want to add a little extra pizzazz, I say go for the gold and add lots of bunnies! Preferably real ones….

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I couldn’t resist.

Hope you have a happy Easter ya’ll!


My Winter wedding boards have been such a hit on Pinterest lately that I’ve decided to make it a weekly inspiration. And frankly, the thought of creating a wedding gets my blood pumping and creative juices quickly flowing.

After two days of 65+ degree weather, I can’t help but feel Spring right around the corner. And this is exactly what inspired my board this week: the warmth of the sun, the blooming of the flowers, a clear blue sky speckled with puffy white clouds…


Of course, the perfect compatibility to these bright hues would be the cool, neutral tones of a western ranch.


Infuse this rustic ambiance with a little romance and…oh, be still my heart!



(Dessert is just as important as the decor!)


And of course, let’s not forget the beautiful bride!


Ah, love (and Spring!) is in the air.

(Photo credits: Inspire By Heart, Wedding Party Blog, Wedding Chicks, Burnett’s Boards here and here, So Cute Simple, Inspired By This here and here, Revel Blog, Etsy, The Perfect Palette, Pink Rubber Sole via Polyvore, Style Me Vintage, Pinterest, Style Me Pretty here and here, Twin Peaks Ranch, and Google Images)

Please contact me if you would like me to put together an inspiration board for you!


I love planning and styling events and one day hope to incorporate this into my business plan. For the time being, however, I love playing “party” and am constantly browsing for event ideas and inspiration. And with Winter in full effect (it is currently 13 degrees here in Charlottesville!), I felt particularly inspired to create a winter wedding board – because a little cold weather doesn’t stop love from happening!

For me, winter is a beautiful blend of muted tones; a canvas of whites, browns, and grays that merge together to create an undefined world. But in this monotony, life is emerging, love is unfolding, and I wanted to capture this emotion with a pop color.


Don’t you just love mauve? It’s not quite purple, it’s not quite pink; it’s not too bright and it’s not too dull. It’s the perfect porridge and just right for a little winter oomph!

To maintain the hardness of winter, however, I wanted to keep the venues naturally muted – an an old, weathered chapel for the ceremony and an industrial hall (with a vintage chandelier in lieu of the greenery and rustic farm tables in lieu of a clothed one.) for the reception – and add soft, romantic touches from there.


And now comes the pop of mauve with a vintage flair!



And what is a wedding without a beautiful bride? I wanted to give the lady of the hour the same soft, vintage detail – and a little bit of fur for some added warmth!image

And let’s not forget the dessert (and a little liquid courage…):


There’s nothing like love to warm the heart and soul!

(Photo credits: Pinterest here and here, Style Me Pretty here, here, here, and here, Annahi Navarro Photography, The Perfect Palette, Handmade Wedding Invites, Wedding Bee, Venue Safari, Roost Blog, Pretty Stuff, The Vogue Living Blog, Wedding Gawker, Martha Stewart Wedding, Wanelo, The Knot, Lover.ly, and Ocello)


I think I’m one of the lone bloggers out there that is still writing about Thanksgiving when the world has already moved on to Christmas. Perhaps I’m a little old school in my views – and trust me, I’m all about having the Christmas spirit – but I firmly believe that it shouldn’t be celebrated until after Thanksgiving. Break out the trees and the bells and the glitter the very next day if you will (I know I’m going to blast Sinatra’s Christmas album any day now), but give Thanksgiving the time it deserves!

Needless to say, I’m still all about the pumpkins and the fallen leaves and the naturalness of Autumn and that’s exactly the feeling I want to incorporate into my Thanksgiving tablescape – easy comfort. So I threw together a trial run to see how all of my serving pieces would fit together and I’m actually pretty pleased with the outcome! I’m also amazed that I have just enough serving dishes…

Thanksgiving Trial Run 2

Thanksgiving Trial Run 3

I’ll be adding a leaf to the table, more chairs, a couple more serving pieces, and simple florals, but this is the gist of it: simple, elegant, and realistic – with focus on family and food. And I love how the white ironstone will allow the food to speak for itself!

Thanksgiving Trial Run 4

Mmm, I can imagine these platters overflowing with delicious (and fried!) turkey, yams, slow cooked stuffing, green beans, glazed carrots, mashed potatoes smothered in gravy….

Thanksgiving Trial Run

And speaking of all this delicious food, I better get to the grocery store, and on to prepping, and cleaning, and stressing….

With family piling in tomorrow and the mad rush that will ensue, I’ll be offline for the next few days, but before I go I want to wish everyone a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I’m thankful for each and everyone one of you.

And when I return on Monday – the Christmas spirit will be in full effect!



My heart and prayers go out to all those affected by Hurricane Sandy. However, with the brunt of the hurricane now behind us and Thanksgiving charging ahead, I think it’s important to remember what we are thankful for.

For the first time, I’ll actually be hosting Thanksgiving for my family this year, and I can’t wait. I love the thrill of hosting, of creating something special for my loved ones, and basking in the conversation and laughter.

For my family, Thanksgiving is a casual affair; a lot of rest, relaxation, football, and food. And this is exactly what I want Thanksgiving dinner to embody: a casual family gathering with my own elegant twist.

So of course, I’ve been scouring through magazines, blogs, and Pinterest for recipes ideas and décor inspiration and here’s what I found:

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Bleu Cheese-bacon dip with crackers for pre-Thanksgiving, football watching snack. You can find the recipe here.

Perfect idea for dining room mantle!

Thanksgiving table setting

I love the natural neutrals of this table setting. It’s simple, elegant, and allows rooms for food on the table!

Pinned ImageCranberry Citrus Relish

Pumpkin risotto, Bread Stuffing with Pancetta & Figs, Cranberry Citrus Relish

Glazed Carrots with PistachiosCelery Root, Potato, and Pear Mash

Glazed Carrots with Pistachios, Celery, Potato, and Pear Mash

Green Beans with Shallots, Thyme, and Shiitake Mushrooms

Green Beans with Shallots, Thyme, and Shiitake Mushrooms

Buttermilk Cornbread, B. Smith’s Bourbon-Cranberry Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Mousse Trifle – delish!

Menu cards

Recipe cards for the family to take home – such a great idea!

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Simply adorable idea for buffet table.

Now, I’m sure many of you noticed my lack of Thanksgiving main entrée – the turkey! Well, this year I’ve decided to leave the turkey up to the boys. Yep, there’s nothing like a fryer and a 15lb turkey to bring together the testosterone…

I’m going to hope it turns out a little something like this though!

What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year? Will you be hosting? Travelling? I’ll be adding Thanksgiving inspiration to my Pinterest board for the next few weeks so feel free to share your recipes and ideas!


Last year, a client had contacted me for a bit of wedding inspiration and now that it’s October, I thought it would be the perfect time to share. She couldn’t quite afford a wedding planner, but I wanted to give her a little something to get her footing and lead her in the right direction. I inquired about some of her favorite colors (black, orange, purple, and green), theme ideas (a blend of Halloween, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Victorian-era), gown style preference (non-traditional and black – she also wanted a cocktail version for the reception), and a few other favorite items (art, outdoors, Shel Silverstein). She also stated that she would prefer to have guests already seated at the dinner tables as the ceremony takes place in the front or center of the room.

I researched a few venues, found an outdoor space that fit what I had in mind to a T, and this is what I came up with:

AJ Colors

AJ Inspiration

AJ Design

AJ Layout

AJ Dress

This was something a bit out of my realm of style, but I loved thinking outside the box! What do you think – hit or miss?

If you need a little inspiration of your own, feel free to contact me and I would be happy to help!