Venue Spotlight: The Westin Colonnade

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a venue spotlight, and what better way to welcome back this segment than by spotlighting where I got married, The Westin Colonnade Hotel in Coral Gables. When we first got engaged, one of the first things the Mr. and I agreed on was that we did not want a standard hotel ballroom.  We researched every unique wedding venue in Miami that we could find, at one point even considering renting out a night club.  Then one afternoon, while perusing Facebook, I happened upon a picture of some happy wedding guests.  I couldn’t tell where they were, but it looked spectacular. I had to know where this wedding was taking place.  As it turns out, it was the Rotunda ballroom at the Westin Colonnade.  I was crushed.  A hotel? Just what I didn’t want.  Nonetheless, I requested more information from their page, just in case.

When I flew down to Miami to scope out venues, I conveniently forgot to make an appointment to go see the space.  But the catering manager called me during a break between venues, and I decided to just do it.  The moment I walked into the Rotunda, I knew that was where I was going to celebrate my wedding reception.  Here are some shots of it from my photographer, Santy Martinez.

RotundaIf you want to have your wedding at the Westin Colonnade, you can do so in either the Rotunda (above) or in their Merrick Ballroom, which is a more traditional ballroom (but it has windows!).

Merrick

There are 3 standard packages you can pick from, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.  At least a couple of years ago, these ranged from $110 p/p to well above that.  In order to have your reception in the Rotunda, you will need to meet a $20,000 minimum before tax and services charges, which means that you’ll likely need to spring for the Gold package.  This will include butler passed hors d’oeuvres, choice of entree, wedding cake, open bar for 5 hours, specialty linens, chiavari chairs, the honeymoon suite at the end of the night, Starwood points, and other goodies.

You can also use the Galleria space outside the Rotunda for your ceremony.

Just beware that notorious staircase!

Overall, this was a great choice for us. It had all the benefits of a hotel wedding without the typical hotel ballroom feel. I highly recommend taking a look, even if you are anti-hotels. You might just have a change of heart!

Xo,

Mrs. M

Let Them Eat Cake!

Ah the wedding cake.  So many flavors, colors, and designs to choose from.  Truthfully, I’ve never been a big fan of cake, but I felt I had to have one at my own wedding.  Among many reasons, my mom is a cake designer.  Not having a cake at the wedding would break her little cake maker heart.  While she didn’t make my cake, she did make my flowers.  Check it out.

Wedding cake

Had it been up to me, I would have had a Carvel wedding cake, as both my husband and I are big fans, particularly of those little chocolate crunchies.  But Carvel wedding cakes are highly impractical- especially if you’re having a wedding in Miami.  Not to mention, they’re not very cute.

These days, many people are branching out from the traditional wedding cake and setting up dessert tables (sometimes even entire rooms!) full of their favorite treats. More on that another time.  But, if you’re sticking with cake as your primary wedding dessert, here are a few designs that I think are pretty awesome.

Chalkboard Wedding Cake

Chalkboards are a huge hit at weddings with brides using them for welcome signs, place mats, and cups.  And now, the chalkboard wedding cake!  How cool is that?

Chalkboard Cake

 Naked Wedding Cake

If you’re having a more rustic wedding, a naked wedding cake is perfect.  They’re a bit more casual, but still make a big statement.  This particular cake was made by my very talented momma at Fun Fiesta Cakes.  You can check out more of her cakes here. Not to be biased, but she’s pretty awesome.

Naked Cake

Cupcake Wedding Cake

Yes, cupcake wedding cakes have been around for a minute, and I’ve seen only a handful that I truly like.  But I love a combination of a tiered cake with cupcakes.  The best of both worlds!

Cupcake cake

Ruffle Wedding Cake

Ruffles have really broken into the wedding cake scene.  I love them because they’re airy and light, always elegant, and can fit into pretty much any wedding style.

Ruffle-Wedding-Cake-Cream-with-Roses

Multiple Wedding Cakes

I’m not talking several 4 tiered cakes.  That might be a bit much.  But if you’re having a large wedding (or if you just like cake) grouping together a few 2 or 3 tiered cakes makes for a pretty wedding dessert table.  I like these because they incorporate the words used in traditional wedding vows.  Adorable!

calligraphy cakes

What cake designs are you loving?

Xo,

Mrs. M

Summer Wedding Favorites

It’s finally summer!  For this displaced Miami girl, it couldn’t come soon enough, as this winter was BRUTAL.  For my friends in the 305, I know it’s gone from hot to hotter, but summer is still a fun time filled with parties, beach days, and – you guessed it – weddings!  Here are some of my favorite ideas for a summer wedding in Miami.

Beach Ceremonies

Since summer days are so hot in Miami, I’m loving the idea of an early evening, candle lit ceremony on the beach.

Wedding Favors

If you opt for a day beach wedding, personalized sunscreen makes for a great wedding favor for your guests.

Summer Wedding Flowers

Summer is all about bright flowers.  Here are some summer flowers you can incorporate into your bouquet and centerpieces.

PicMonkey Collage

From top left: chrysanthemums, amaranthus, hydrangeas, lisianthus, sunflower, aster, freesia, cockscomb, carnations

Printed Bridesmaid Dresses

Colorful bridesmaids dresses are perfect for summer, but who says they have to be a solid color?  A pretty summer print can add a lot of fun and whimsy to your bridal party, while keeping it classy and elegant.

Print bridesmaid dresses are here to stay at @Amsale Bridal. Click through for more Bridal Fashion Week coverage on the blog!Signature Cocktails

Signature wedding cocktails are always a good idea, but they’re especially refreshing on a hot summer day.  For a different take on this, try signature wedding shots.

 Tents

Warm summer nights are ideal for outdoor weddings.  Consider adding a tent to your outdoor reception for some added glamour.  Here are 15 beautiful tent weddings.  I particularly love the look of a light, ethereal tent like this one.  Coupled with those chandeliers- perfection.

tent wedding decor

 

What are some of your favorite summer wedding ideas?

Xo,

Mrs. M

The Case for Day Of Coordinators

When I first got engaged, I was so excited to start planning.  Even though there was A LOT to do, it was (mostly) fun to put my dream day together.

Because of this, I didn’t initially think I would need a wedding planner or coordinator.  But when I thought about it a little more, I realized that while I was good at planning, I really didn’t want to deal with any of that nonsense the day of the wedding.  I wanted that day to be as relaxing as possible.  That’s when I made the wisest investment: a Day Of Coordinator.

My girls at Wedded to Perfection were the bomb.com.  Though I’d only hired them for day of coordinating, they were actually super helpful throughout the entire process, giving me recommendations for vendors, setting up meetings, and coming with me to taste lots and lots of cake.  Not every day of coordinator will be so generous with his/her time, but most will start working with you about a month before the big day to tie up all the last minute loose ends.  They’ll confirm with all of your vendors, coordinate arrival times for everyone, create a timeline of the day’s events, and make sure everything gets done while you’re sipping champagne and getting pretty with your girls.

If you can fit one in your budget, do it.  You can find some wedding planners and wedding coordinators in Miami here.  If you don’t feel a wedding coordinator is within your means, see if there are things you can skimp on and use your savings to pay for one.  I guarantee it’s worth more than those small details nobody will notice and you’ll soon forget about.  If you really don’t have a penny to spare, many venues have catering managers and coordinators that will make sure things run smoothly.  Clarify with them what they will take care of, and then assign someone from your bridal party or a trusted family member or friend to handle anything the catering manager won’t be able to do for you.  Basically, you’ll want to master the art of delegation because this is YOUR day, so sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Xo,

Mrs. M

 

Bridal Party Picture Time

You will likely spend a year or more planning for a single day.  And this day will probably be the fastest day of your life.  I’m talking, blink and you missed it.  And when all is said and done, the only thing you’ll have left are your memories… and your pictures.  We’ve talked about the importance of selecting the right wedding photographer.  But making this choice is only step 1.  Your work isn’t quite done.  You will work closely with your photographer to get those perfect shots you can look at for the rest of your lives.  Of course you need the obligatory formal shots with your family and new husband; but I’m also a big believer in getting silly, fun shots with your nearest and dearest.  Here are some of the more creative, funny bridal party pictures I’ve come across.

11. A Leap of Faith

Did you do any funny bridal party pictures on your big day?

XoXo,

Mrs. M

Wedding Colors: Mint

Before we begin with our wedding madness, let’s take a moment to thank our military, veterans, and their families for their sacrifices.  It’s because of them that we are able to enjoy this and every Monday in freedom.

Now on to the topic of this post- I am loving mint green as a wedding color.  Pair it with corals, pinks, golds, and creams and you have all the makings of an elegant, vintage inspired wedding reception.

Add yellows or bright pinks for a more springy feel.

Or throw in some red, for a more retro wedding feel.

Get clever with your favors.

Use mint tea.

Incorporate your colors and mint flavor into a signature drink.

You could even include mint in your bridal bouquet.

As you can see, mint is a versatile wedding color you can use during any season and with a variety of styles.  There are also a whole range of ways to creatively incorporate mint into your decor.  How do you feel about these mint inspired wedding looks?

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

XoXo,

Mrs. M

Venue Spotlight: The CocoPlum

Situated in the wedding capital of South Florida, Coral Gables, the CocoPlum is an extremely popular wedding venue in Miami.  If you’re looking for an old world, Spanish feel, this may be the venue for you.  And with a virtually all-inclusive package, it’s one of the more affordable wedding venues in Coral Gables.

From the outside, the CocoPlum fits right into the Coral Gables landscape with it’s Spanish inspired architecture.

The nice thing about this venue is that it has both outdoor and indoor space.  The outdoor space probably won’t work for the reception, but could definitely work for your cocktail hour.  Add some lounge furniture and you can definitely create a sexy, Miami feel to the space.  However, note that the space does look larger in the picture than in person.

The best part of the venue is the reception hall.  I was a little concerned about the pink flooring- something they’re actually quite proud of- but it actually looks pretty nice in person.  With the right draping and uplights, I can see this room being very romantic.

As I mentioned, the wedding package at the CocoPlum is almost all inclusive.  For $115/person you get your standard tables, chairs, linens, and glassware, as well as flowers, a cake, DJ, and photography or video services.  You also have open bar with premium brands and butler passed hors d’ouevres, salad, and 2 entree selections with plated dinner service.

This all sounded perfectly fabulous, but there are a couple of things you should know.  The CocoPlum is an older venue and it’s obvious in certain spaces- particularly the entry way into the venue where you would likely have your gift table and guest book.  You also are limited to using certain vendors when you use this package.  The photographer is Marcio Cavalcanti ,the DJ services are from DJ by JP Productions, and the flowers are by Martha Villar.   You may also need to upgrade some of these services as only the basic packages are included in the $115/person price.  You may be able to negotiate using different vendors, but I’m not sure how/if that would affect the package pricing.  You will also have to pay a rental fee of $2,340 for 4 hours.

Overall, I found this venue to be a little dark and a little too old for my particular taste, but the catering manager, Rosie, is extremely sweet.  I’ve also seen lots of pictures of weddings that have looked truly gorgeous.  For the price, it’s hard to beat.

Have you seen The CocoPlum?  What are your thoughts?

XoXo,

Mrs. M

Back as a Mrs!

Profile pic

I guess it’s been a hot minute, huh?  As you’ve probably noticed, planning a wedding can be time-consuming.  Between finalizing plans and getting a new job, this blog got lost in the shuffle.  But now the wedding is done, and I’m free to devote much more time to making this blog awesome!

To tell you a little bit about my wedding, it was amazing.  Hands down- best day ever.  Mission accomplished! Now that I’m a wise married woman,  here are a few pieces of advice I can give all of you soon to be brides:

1) First and foremost- LET GO!  By the time your wedding day rolls around, you’ve done everything you can do.  There is no sense in wasting this once in a lifetime experience being all stressed out and flustered.  You’ve paid people to do that for you!  Spend that day relaxing with your friends and family over champagne and enjoy the celebrity treatment you only get on this one day.  You’re only a bride once so LIVE IT UP!

2) Things will go wrong.  Oh, but you’ve meticulously planned every last detail, you say?  Something will still go wrong.  For me, it started raining precisely as I walked out of the church, the cocktail music sounded like bad 80s porn music (even though we specifically asked for string versions of our favorite rock songs), and some of my bridesmaids’ flowers were peach. PEACH!  And let’s not even get into the calla lilies in my church flower arrangements.  But then I remembered my first piece of advice, and I let it go.  Because honestly, it doesn’t matter.  Nobody knows I didn’t choose porn music and a lot of people probably loved the calla lilies.  And most importantly, this day wasn’t about all that.  It was about getting married to a very cute boy.  So try to keep it in perspective if you start to feel a freak out coming on because your cocktail tables are 3 cm shorter than promised.

Peach hydrangea- blech.

3)  As the great Lee Anne Womack said, I hope you dance!  Being the star of the show, everyone will want to talk to you, take your picture, hug you, and tell you everything they felt when they say you walking down the aisle.   As the bride, it’s your duty to oblige.  That said, start rehearsing your exit strategy because the one thing you don’t want to miss is dancing at your own wedding.  Of course you want to make sure everyone is having fun, but not at the expense of your own fun!  If you haven’t kicked off your shoes before the night is over, you’re not doing it right.  And definitely make sure to dance with your new husband- and none of that first dance rehearsed crap.  Something fun and dancey.

These are my top 3 insights for now, but I’ll follow up with any more thoughts I come up with.  Until the next episode!

Venue Spotlight: Ancient Spanish Monastery

In a new series I will call “Venue Spotlight”, I want to highlight some wedding venues in Miami.  You’ll recall that I had a post about hosting your wedding in a mansion.  And today, I want to introduce you to another unique wedding venue in Miami- the Ancient Spanish Monastery.

Located in North Miami Beach, the Ancient Spanish Monastery has become an increasingly popular wedding venue for brides looking for Gothic, old world romance.  The monastery itself was originally built in Segovia, Spain, and through a series of events, ended up being rebuilt in Miami using the original stones.

Things You Want To Know:  This space will work for both your ceremony and your reception.  Your ceremony can take place in the main chapel (up to 150 guests), the chapter house (up to 80 guests) or if you want something truly intimate, the French Altar (up to 10 guests).

Monastery Chapel

Chapel House

French Altar

If you always dreamed of an outdoor ceremony, you can also hold your ceremony in the garden area.

Your reception will likely be held in the Cloisters, which are the covered passageways that surround the courtyard. You could elect to have it in the garden area, but I can tell you that the lay out isn’t exactly conducive to this kind of reception.  Rental of the Cloisters for 3 hours is $2,400 for 200 people.  The garden rental for 3 hours is $1,800.  Additional hours are charged at $300 a pop.  If you want to have your cocktail hour in the garden, that will run an additional $500.  You can rent tables and basic chairs from the venue, but you’ll have to bring in your own caterers and upgraded furniture.  Below are some pictures of past wedding receptions in the Cloisters:

Things You Need to Know: I checked out this venue in person and while it’s obviously very pretty, there were a couple negatives, which I feel an obligation to share with you.  First, you have to walk in through a gift shop to get to the monastery, which is a little strange.  Second, the dance floor is very, very small.  If you’re having a large party, you may need to invest in renting a dance floor.  Third, the hallways of the cloisters are narrow, so the tables have to be lined up in a row, and there isn’t a whole lot of space to move around.  Fourth, the tables also go around a big square so that your guests our bound in by the walls and far, far away from the guests on the other side of the courtyard.  Finally, the music is supposed to be turned down at 11:00 p.m.  Even though I was assured that nobody had been asked to turn down their music in over 10 years, it’s something to consider.

That said, the Ancient Spanish Monastery is a really beautiful wedding venue, and if you’re looking for something different from the traditional ballroom, I would recommend you check the space out yourself.

What do you think of the Ancient Spanish Monastery?

Get Your Dream Designer Dress at a Fraction of the Cost? It’s Possible!

If you’re like me, you’ve spent a good portion of your engaged (and non-engaged) life flipping through bridal magazines, looking for that perfect wedding dress.  In fact, even though I found mine several months ago, I can’t help perusing the creations of Pronovias, Monique Lhuillier, Lazaro and Vera Wang.  Wedding dresses are just so beautiful, and like many brides, I dreamed about my wedding dress for a very long time.  I was lucky enough to get my dream dress at the right price, but not everybody is that fortunate.  Some girls have to make a heart wrenching decision –  forego the dream dress or eliminate another important aspect of the wedding to stay within budget.

Well, two lovely ladies in Miami think no girl should ever have to make that choice.  That’s why they created La Vie En Blanc, a luxury bridal retail and resale business that gives former brides a place to sell their wedding dresses without the hassle of having to put it up for sale themselves.  It also gives new brides the chance to purchase designer gowns for their own big days at a lower price.  La Vie En Blanc carries bridal gowns, veils, shoes, ​accessories, and w​​edding tradition pieces. All items are new or in like-new condition and have been carefully selected by their team. You can either purchase your pre-loved pieces online or at one of their trunk shows across South Florida.

If you’re a bride on a budget, or a former bride looking to recoup some of your wedding costs, La Vie En Blanc might just end up being your bridal wear soul mate.