Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Yummy Yummy in my Tummy

Ha it popped in my head and I went with it. Sue me.

Disclaimer: this is a long post about food, I recommend you eat before proceeding. 

When it came time to pick out the options our guests would be chowing down on, Mr. Farmer and I were a little disappointed to find out we wouldn't be able to sample the menu. The Florian Gardens doesn't offer a menu tasting. WHAT?! Yes, I know it's horribly disappointing. 

A sad Barn I was...

Image via Hartwood Roses

Sad Barn, get it?! Oh I am just on a roll today. 

Anyways, since we were unable to have a menu tasting I turned to Collette, our wedding coordinator, and had a slight panic attack. How do we know if it's any good?! Thankfully they have two events annually and at each event they offer a small sampling of their menu. Sadly they don't disclose what foods they are serving until you get there. 

We attended this event in February of this year and used the trip as an excuse to celebrate Valentine's day (I know this is a little out of sequential order). I originally referenced this event when I talked about our cake vendor, Take the Cake. Creating Lasting Memories is a wedding show where all the vendors that The Florian Gardens has worked with before, or have some sort of relationship with, set up a booth for you to check out. We wanted to attend this event to find a few vendors - cake (check), florist (check), ceremony music (check and coming up) and so we could sample some of the food. 

Midwestern weddings (at least the ones I've been to) typically have the same food from venue to venue. Roasted chicken or steak tips. It's typically served with mashed potatoes & gravy, and some vegetable most commonly beans. The food is almost always served family style, it's just the way things around here work. It's always good but we wanted to mix it up a little bit. The Florian Gardens has a pretty awesome menu (ok like totally awesome menu) so we went in wanting to try a few things:

Hors D'oeuvres
Caprese skewers - cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls & fresh basil with a balsamic vinegar drizzle
Caesar Salad Parmesan Crisps - roman lettuce inside a crisp shell with Cesar dressing
Herb Filled Vegetables - peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and peas filled with herb cream cheese
Gourmet Deviled Eggs - Mr. Farmer's favorite thing ever

Petite Crab Cakes - with dill tartar sauce
Baked Brie - topped with brandy, brown sugar, nuts & raisin honey glaze
Swedish meatballs

We knew that we would be having hors d'oeuvres during our cocktail hour. Mama Barn is diabetic and so is grandpa Barn. We also have quite a few people who are hypoglycemic so I knew we would need to have some food available for them during that time. 

Braised Breast of Chicken - prepared with Riesling Sour Cream Sauce (my favorite wine, I had to)
Chicken Cordon Bleu - breaded and stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese with hollandaise sauce
Chicken Saltimbocca - baked and stuffed with prosciutto and provolone served with a white wine sauce
Pork Loin Vermouth - seared and simmered in a light sauce accented with olives, capers and onions
Pork Prime Rib - slow roasted and served with bistro sauce
Prime Rib - slow roasted and carved to order with horseradish sauce

We decided long ago that we would have a plated dinner option. We went that route for a few options. We have way too many people to coordinate a successful buffet line. By the time the first table was finished eating the last table might not even have started and we wanted to avoid that at ALL costs. Family style really crowds the table and I don't want anything extra cluttering the tables for our guests. Plus I like the idea of everyone staying seated for dinner. I wouldn't want to get up and risk spilling something on myself or trip walking back to my seat. 

personal photo - taste testing, yummy!

We were only able to sample:

Swedish meatballs (pictured - middle plate)
Prime Rib with horseradish sauce (pictured - middle plate)
Caesar Salad Parmesan Crisps - (pictured - middle plate)
Chicken Cordon Bleu (pictured, top plate) 
Pork prime rib - (pictured, bottom left plate)

-loads of other things we didn't consider or had no interest in serving

The pork prime rib was by far one of the most amazing things I have ever put into my mouth. Mr. Farmer agreed that the pork prime rib will be what he wants. The bistro sauce was delish! 
Ultimately we decided on butler passed:

Petite Crab Cakes
Swedish Meatballs
Caesar Parmesan Crisps
Gourmet Deviled Eggs (Mr. Farmer's request)

Garden Mixed Greens tossed with creamy house dressing
Braised Breast of Chicken with Riesling Sour Cream Sauce or Pork Prime Rib with Bistro Sauce
Herb Roasted Baby Red Potatoes
Sweet Kernel Corn (we had to, Mr. Farmer wouldn't be a farmer if it weren't for corn)
Hearth European Rolls

We also have a children's option which consists of: chicken tenders, cheesy potato bites and applesauce

Mr. Farmer and I have also decided that we are going to serve a late night snack at about 10 pm consisting of sandwiches and all the fixings, with an additional cracker and cheese display. We anticipate with all the dancing and partying going on that we are going to get hungry so Mr. Farmer wanted something late at night. 

I have heard a lot of good reviews about how wonderful the food is at the Florian Gardens (our Reverend agreed it's awesome and they give decent serving sizes). I can't wait to eat on my wedding day, because gosh darn it, if it's the last thing I do I will eat on my wedding day! I know it's a little scary not being able to taste everything we have on our menu but we feel confident that it will be good based on all the other tasty morsels we ate during their event. There wasn't a bad thing we ate and that makes us feel better about our choices. 

 What do you think? Did anyone else not have a complete tasting of their wedding food?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Floral Delight

Let's talk flowers shall we?

I love flowers. I love receiving them, I love sending them, and I love planting them. I couldn't get married without some sort of floral presence in my wedding. In my dream wedding flowers are everywhere and I mean everywhere but sadly, reality kicks in and shatters my dream. Flowers are freaking expensive! As I mentioned before there isn't room in our budget to do floral centerpieces but we are still doing the bouquets and boutonnieres. There are all kinds of alternatives to the real deal but they just don’t do the trick for me.

Since I am getting married in a garden I would feel weird walking down the aisle with fake flowers – doesn't really work for me. I knew my bouquet would have to be real and that’s when I went “ummm”.

gif via Giphy - quite possibly my favorite ever!

  I like flowers but I don’t know a danged thing about them! All my planting comes from whatever my mom suggests or what I think looks good. Mama Barn has the best green thumb of anyone I have ever known. So when it came time to book a florist I was conflicted because I always wanted my mom to arrange my bouquet. It’s one of those things I have envisioned since I was a little girl.

The hold up? Our semi-destination wedding.

As much as I really wanted to do them myself and have my mom arrange my bouquet, there were several factors that stood in our way:

1. Nowhere to store flowers
2. Limited space to arrange said flowers
3. Transporting the flowers can be tricky
4. No time
5. I don't know anything about picking which flowers to use

Mr. Farmer and I will be arriving in Eau Claire with the kids the Thursday before our wedding. By the time we get there it will be fairly late and we would like to spend some quality alone time as a family before things start to get crazy, which means we just don’t have time to arrange anything and neither does Mama Barn. So to the professionals I turned, which bummed me out a little bit until I met my florist. Lacy from Allure Premiere Event Florists is amazing! I contacted her based off the suggestion of our wedding coordinator, Collette, and one quick conversation with her and I knew she was the one for me.

She is incredibly attentive to what her clients' wants and needs are. We spent 45 minutes on the phone for my initial consultation, since I couldn't be there physically, and I hung up feeling totally confident that she understands what it is we want. Since I was unable to find a picture I wanted to recreate, I was worried I wouldn't be able to give her enough information. I didn't know what kinds of flowers I wanted, but all I had to do was show her a few arrangements I somewhat liked and she took it from there. 

Erin Volante Floral, Photography by: Boutwell Studio photo via Erin's Blog

  I love the texture of this and the fact that there are several different kinds of flowers present in it, however I'll be adding more roses and will be using fuchsia instead of plums and purples. Mr. Farmer loves roses and gets them for me quite often but I wanted more than 1 type of flower in my bouquet so his recommendation was out (he suggested doing all roses).

Flowers via Best Blooms 

I love the look of this and the colors are pretty perfect. I knew for sure that I wanted both white and fuchsia in my bouquet and that I wanted my maids' bouquets to be all fuchsia. I think it will look pretty striking against their navy dresses. For those of you following along who remember that my matron of honor will be wearing fuchsia instead of navy, fear not, hers will be fuchsia with soft pinks and slightly larger than the others. That way it will contrast with her dress and won't blend in completely. 

Once we figured out the bouquets we turned to the boutonnieres. Mr. Farmer said he wanted a rose, since they are his favorite, but both Lacy and I agreed that it would be best to use something other than a rose. They wilt like crazy so she suggested using calla lilies. According to Lacy it's pretty impossible for them to wilt and I am all about using something that will stay nice for the duration of the evening. Plus as a fun fact they are the first floral arrangement Mr. Farmer sent me while we were dating. 

Image via Etsy shop Songsfromthegarden

Something like this, without the embellishment and silver wrapping. Oh and real since this is an image of a silk flower.

There are times when you have to turn to the professionals and seek their expert advice and opinion, that's what they are there for. Giving up control has me a little freaked out because I don't know for sure what my bouquets are going to look like, but I just keep reminding myself Lacy knows what she is doing and she knows the look I am trying to accomplish. Plus for as pretty as flowers are, there really aren't any "ugly" arrangements that I have come across.

Did you have to give up an idea because of logistics? Does anyone else struggle with not being able to visualize something? 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Barn Breakdown

It’s that time folks! The Barn guest list break down. Who the heck do we have coming to this shin-dig? 

Well let me first start by saying we didn't want to have such a tight budget that we couldn't invite who we wanted. Our guests were one of the most important parts of our wedding, so we made sure to accommodate for a large group. At the present moment we have 368 people on the guest list! I know, just let that process for a moment,

Photo via: Memecrunch

 Now that you have absorbed the gravity of how huge the Barn wedding it is, I am here to tell you that number is highly inflated. Every person who wasn't already part of a couple was granted a +1 and we counted every child as a person as technically they will be seated in a chair. I wanted to know what my number was when it came down to worst case scenario. I do most of my planning for worst case scenario and wedding planning was no different. It’s the same thing when you do work on your house **, there is always something that comes up, so I was making sure we had a cushion.   
So, if I take away the 11 babies (so many babies!), I have 357 people left. If I go further and take off the 37 children who will most likely be ordering off the kids menu I am left with, 320 adults. Now if I remove the 26 courtesy plus ones, I am left with 294 (I know some people feel very strongly about plus ones but our guests are important and we wanted them to have a good time and be comfortable, so if bringing a date does that, the more the merrier).
I could take that even further and remove the handful of people I know or guess won’t be coming and I would be left with 238. We have our wedding planned and budgeted for around 250. There are all kinds of equations and formulas that can give you an estimate but you know your guest list the best. You should be able to calculate an approximate number. Mr. Farmer and I know that we could get insanely lucky and have 300 people show up and we would welcome them with open arms, however we are realistic and know that since we are getting married in Eau Claire, not everyone is going to be able to make the trip.
As long as we can get close we are A-OK with that! Just to be on the safe side, I played around with some numbers and equations from various websites and came up with these answers:
Here Comes the Bride - they suggested that about 80% of your guest list will show: 295, however they say if you are having a destination wedding that 30-40% won't show: 258
Smooth Wedding - has a formula: # of guests invited x .66 x 1.15 = Total approximate # of guests who will attend - 368 x .66 x 1.15 = 279
Weddings - states that 85% will show: 295, however for a destination wedding they say 55% is a safe estimate: 202
Being an accountant, I decided to take the average of the three and came up with: 246. Not bad at all when our estimate was 238. What did I tell you? You know your guests the best. You should know who is most likely to come and most likely who won’t show up or be able to attend. I understand there will always be a few surprises but Mr. Farmer and I have built that into our budget and have prepared ourselves mentally for it as well. 
How does your guest list break down? Did you inflate it for worst case scenario too?

**Mr. Farmer and I are also in the process of building an addition to our new house we will be moving into this fall, so we know all about "house construction surprises"

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Smell the Roses

The Barns are in the double digits folks, let the celebration ensue!

gif via Mashable

Ok so maybe not; anyways, moving along.......

Hi Hive! So this past weekend Mr. Farmer and I celebrated our anniversary in the city where it all began, Minneapolis. It’s a little over a three hour drive for us so what do we do to help pass the time? We normally pick up a magazine and I read the articles out loud as Mr. Farmer drives. It makes for a quick car ride and it opens the door for some pretty interesting conversations, not to mention amazing memories. (I once read a Cosmo and Mr. Farmer had tears coming down his eyes he was laughing so hard. Good times!)

However before we stopped to fill up and grab said magazine, I saw a post on Facebook that really made me stop and smile to myself. Mr. Farmer seeing that I was looking at my phone smiling inquired as to what I was looking at and I responded, “How did we get here?” Mr. Farmer being the funny guy he is responded with, “I took a left on Hwy 14 and merged from the two lane into the one lane, that’s how.”

Not exactly what I meant but thanks Mr. Farmer! I was referring to how we got to the place where we knew we wanted to be married to each other and take the next step. He smiled and wanted to know what some of the other people on this particular post were saying. The top three answers in no particular order were:

1. My partner makes me a better person.

2. We respect each other.

3. The thought of that person not in their life is devastating.

 We happen to agree with all of these and added a few of our own. Rather than grab a magazine we spent our car ride talking about all the reasons we knew we wanted to be married. It really got us remembering all the things we love about each other and our relationship. How did we get here? That’s how we spent our anniversary weekend. Taking a hiatus from wedding planning and remembering why we wanted to get married in the first place. We agreed not to bring up the wedding all weekend and it was so refreshing you guys!

I think every bride gets to a point in their planning where they throw up their hands and just toss the plans to the back burner. I obviously enjoy planning our wedding but sometimes taking a step back and remembering the whole reason why you are doing it is such a great reminder and the perfect planning pick me up (trust me). At the end of the day you will be married and it will be fabulous even if planning it is a pain in the ass, frustrating and sometimes soul sucking.

 Take a break and don’t feel one ounce of guilt that your to-do list is a mile long and you have check marks that need checking. Stop and smell the roses, you might be surprised to see just how enlightened you feel when you return to thinking about the wedding. The plans will still be there tomorrow and the day after, this I can promise you. It’s ok to take a break every once in a while, it might be something you didn't even know you needed. I didn't know I needed a break until I took one.

How did you get here? Did anyone else take a break from wedding planning to smell the roses?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wedding Makeup

**So I must apologize for being M.I.A for the last week. Things at the Barn household have been crazy! Designs for a huge addition to our home as well as a new job for Miss. Barn have kept us so busy, sadly wedding planning (and blogging) have been pushed aside. But I am back!

So let's move on shall we!

Since I just covered my search for a great hairstylist let's cover the other side of the wedding day look, MAKE-UP!! One of my favorite things in this entire world! I love everything about make-up and doing it on other people is something I am very passionate about.

Photos from my personal make-up artist portfolio:

Photo credits- Studio 816/Albert Ortega/Albert Ortega/Scott Johnson Studios for Airwave Angels/Scott Johnson Studios Hot Legs USA/ Brushes editorial magazine submission/model requested for portfolio-Scott Johnson Studios (make-up Xtreme MUArtz)

Now, despite my love for make-up and my experience with a set of brushes, I will not be doing my own make-up on my wedding day. Shocking I know?!? For once I want to be the one pampered, so I am going to have Jez do my make-up as well as my hair. Mr. Farmer also doesn't want me to have to worry about doing it either; I am thankful he sees the need for it in our budget.

Jez obviously won't be staying for the duration of the wedding so I anticipate having to do a few touch-ups. I can't hear you all now "Well then just get airbrush so it stays longer." I won't be doing airbrush for a few reasons and the number one is that my skin is UBER sensitive to airbrush make-up. If you want to know the story message me it's a good one.

I am lucky though because Jez doesn't do airbrush which is A-ok with me (and my wallet). I have been told they work with mineral based products so we shall see how the staying power is after my trial. I have done wedding day looks for other people however now that it's finally my turn I am kind of drawing a blank. I have no concrete idea what I want.

(thankfully unlike my one and only hair inspiration photo, I can find the appropriate credits to my inspiration make-up photo)

Photo: Smokey Eyes Artistry via Theknot
I love the dramatic eye. I love playing up my own eyes so it's the one element that I know for sure I want to accentuate but that's about it. The only real difference is that I would choose a nude lip or a softer pink. Since the eyes are so dramatic I don't want a powerful lip either. It's best to pick either one or the other and I pick eyes.
THIS is the only photo that I keep coming back to when Jez emails me for photos though. I feel like it shouldn't be this hard to pick something that I like and then it totally hit me like a ton of bricks. DUH Miss. Barn it's because you can't imagine your wedding day look on someone else! (not to mention most of these photos are airbrushed)
I can look at pictures all day of pretty make-up (and I love to) and pretty features but until it's on my face I just can't see the end result. I can search high and low for green eyed, brown haired, bridal make-up photos but I am just not going to get a sense of something I like until I try it. So I am going into my make-up trial pretty blind. Jez is totally open to collaborating together and playing with different styles and colors together to create something that I am 100% in love with.
She is a lot like me and a perfectionist so I am confident we will be able to work together well.
So that's what I am doing for my bridal make-up. We are winging it. I am either totally off my rocker, and bride brain has officially taken hold of my life OR I have set myself up for the path of least disappointment. Sometimes pictures just don't work; you have to as Nike says, "Just Do It".
Did you have a set idea when you went into your make-up trial? Or did you just wing it too? Do you think I am crazy!?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Not a Ponytail Day

Let's talk about hair shall we? I am just like my mother, I wear my hair in a ponytail just about It's easy, it's out of my face, always stylish and oh yeah it's easy! I cannot do my own hair to save my life, so I can't do anything too complex, (I have no patience). If I have some place to be where I need to look nice, I typically straighten it (which typically only lasts a hour or two before I tie it back) or spend 2 hours attempting to curl it, then get pissed and throw it in a ponytail anyways. So when it came time to envision my wedding day look, I knew without a doubt that my hair would not be down. Nope not happening. There are a few reasons that lead to my decision though:

1. It's just not me to wear it down. 
2. I have REALLY long hair and it easily gets tangled if left down. 
3. It's going to be too hot. Remember hottest month and hottest time of the day for our ceremony.
4. I have naturally curly hair and in July it can get a little (or a lot) unruly if left down.    

So now that I knew I wanted to keep my hair back I had another important decision to make. Who would be the lucky lady to work on taming my mane?!?

Photo via Shrek found Tall Skinny Kiwi

I have worked with quite a few hair stylists however, I don't live in Eau Claire and don't know any stylists there. Originally I wanted to use a really great stylist that I have worked with before from Milwaukee but her travel fees made her outside of my budget, which made me incredibly disappointed. For anyone in the Milwaukee area check out Nola Kahn with, The Beauty Factory. Her team is amazing! 

So needing to find another option I took to Google. Knowing that I wanted to do both hair and makeup, I searched for makeup artists first to ensure I found a place that could do both. I emailed the first couple options that came up on my search and the first one to email me back was In-Style Salon. Colleen called me almost immediately after I sent her my email and was able to accommodate my requests. 

As I do not live in Eau Claire I knew that scheduling my trial could be very tricky. I will be in Wausau, Wisconsin for my bridal shower and since Wausau is an hour and a half away (the closest I will be to E.C anytime soon) I needed to find a stylist that would be willing to travel to Wausau for my trial. Another requirement that I needed met was someone who was comfortable working with hair extensions/hair pieces as Mama Barn has insanely thin hair and would need some added "oomph".  My final requirement was that the team come to us. The Florian Gardens has a bridal suite for us to get ready in so I wanted to be able to utilize it (with such a large bridal party it would be hard to coordinate everyone).

Knowing that I secured a salon that worked best for my needs, I had to send Colleen my inspiration photos to see which of her stylists would be the best fit for me personally. 

Photo via The Knot/Kelly Brown Weddings/Hair by Janelle Bunn/Hairpiece Bridal Accents Couture

I will be wearing a veil and a hairpiece so this style would need to be changed a bit to accommodate those things but it's the exact feel that I am going for. My veil will be worn UNDER my hair style as opposed to over. 

Photo via Brides/Ken Keinow Photography


Photo via style-hair-magazine found

I prefer the veil clipped/combed(?) underneath. If I am going to go through with having such an intricate design done, I would feel bad covering all that work up, ya know? In my opinion a simpler 'do would be perfect for an over the hairstyle veil, much similar to Mrs. Bicycle's first inspiration photo

Thankfully after a few phone calls back and forth Colleen was able to assign me to a stylist she thought would be able to handle the job best. I have my trial scheduled for the morning of my bridal shower** in about a month and am super excited to get to meet Jez. We have been emailing back and forth and she seems like a perfect fit! She was able to offer me the level of service I required and I couldn't be more thankful. Sometimes you just have to ask, you might be surprised to see what your vendors will do to accommodate your needs. You don't get what you don't ask for. 

 Did you have any trouble finding a stylist to best meet your needs? Did you have any needs that were a little out of the ordinary?

P.S I would recommend getting your hair and makeup trial done when you have somewhere to go or something to do. If not, then I would recommend scheduling a lunch date with the girls or a date night with your intended. It doesn't seem right to let all that work go to waste.