directional guidance

It has been a crazy busy summer already.  We’ve barely come up for air.  Honestly, a small cry from how we planned to spend our summer.  But someone once told me life is what happens when you make plans.  So true.  Less planning, more living.

So when we do get a minute to breath, we relish in reviewing our wedding photos over and over again. We notice something new every time and relive that perfect day when just about all of our friends and family were in the same place, just a few months ago.  Which, by the way, doesn’t help us select photos to frame and to put in an album nor determine which should end up on the cutting room floor, as they say.


Speaking of, there are so many hysterical dance floor photos that I am considering posting an outtake reel here…although I may be disowned by a few people.  (If you beg me, I will totally post it though.)  Signature dance moves, silly faces and all.

© Love Shack Photo

N-E-way, where did we leave off in the wedding DIY deets?  We talked about the cake and the must have cake table.

Dana & Ryan Cape May Wedding

We talked about the DIY trailhead highlighting where all of our friends and family traveled from.

© Love Shack Photo

I think that transitions nicely into the map thang we had going on…

© Love Shack Photo

I racked my brain over what to do with the table settings.  We knew right away that we would have food stations for dinner. This created a party atmosphere (which isn’t hard to do with our group) as opposed to a formal sit down dinner where people felt like they couldn’t get up and mingle as they please.  There is nothing wrong with that setting but it just wasn’t what we were going for.

© Love Shack Photo

With all of that said, I didn’t want the tables to be bare either since the food would be served at the stations.

© Love Shack Photo

Enter 160 atlas pages to the scene, my friends.  I found old and new ones.  The blue, green and yellow colors coordinated perfectly with our springy palette.  Each page served as a charger or place mat.  Also, a subtle nod to the “On the Way to Cape May” theme.  With a splash of burlap for good measure.  Oh and here’s a secret for you if this look is up your alley:  Take your atlases to FedEx/Kinko’s to have the pages cut in bulk.  It will save you hours upon hours of time tearing and cutting pages.

© Love Shack Photo

Bonus, everyone was encouraged to scribble notes to us on their map.  This ended up being totally entertaining for guests as they waited for dinner and an icebreaker at a few tables.

© Love Shack Photo

Plus, we jumped on the instagram trend and incorporated our own wedding hashtag (#recanize) and encouraged guests to share their candids.  It is a blast to relive them every time and we plan to make a little album of candids with maps as the scrapbook pages.  One of these days.

For brides-to-be out there, we placed note cards at each table communicating the hashtag info to guests…

instagram hashtag

Go ahead, take a look at the hashtag on instagram.  You know you want to.

And one more map for the road….ha, get it? Road? Ok.  Our guest book was a guest map which we framed.  People signed all over the country and of course Cape May had a little heart on it.  I found this on etsy.

© Love Shack Photo

I have to admit that I restrained myself from being an etsy bride.  I only ordered this map, which was made locally, and Wilson’s seersucker bowtie and leash which is just priceless as far as I’m concerned.


Next up…the centerpieces.  And why I might have been temporarily insane for doing them all myself just days before my wedding.  What was I thinking?  Come back on Friday to find out!

© Love Shack Photo

All professional photos shot by the talented folks at Love Shack Photo.

a DIY trailhead

Ryan and I will be celebrating a big ol’ 2 months of marriage tomorrow.  In honor, I’m sharing a wedding DIY.

Remember our big tent?

We popped up a party under that thing just like we pop up a shop under our 10×10 at various markets.  Except this was like 100×100 or something cray-zay big.

© Love Shack Photo

For someone like me, it was a dream to be able to build my reception setting from the ground up.  In the beginning, I insisted on not having a narrow theme as I thought it was too kitschy.  Our theme sort of evolved as we continued to plan details.  So did the color scheme.  I will give you one guess.

Yeah, aqua blue.

And the theme was a little more subtle with a nod to “On the way to Cape May, I fell in love with you”.  How could we not, seriously?

© Love Shack Photo

Once there was an established theme we conjured some fun details to deck the bare corners of the tent and tables.  With our guests in mind, we put together a trailhead highlighting all of the cities they had traveled from to be with us on our big day.  It was essentially a destination wedding since about 3 people invited (and, ahem, not invited. I haven’t told you about our wedding crasher yet, have I?) actually live at the shore.

The trailhead was also a subtle nod to Ryan’s love of hiking.

making a wedding trailhead (3 of 7)

I’ve seen a number of versions of wedding trailheads on pinterest pointing to the direction of the cake, dancing, drinks, etc. but never one quite like this.  We were pretty excited about our concept.  Feel free to pin it!

We started with an old coat rack since we wanted something that was freestanding and didn’t need to be staked into the ground or anything.  I don’t have a true before pic but it was a wooden coat rack with 4 brass hooks.  One was totally busted so it was super cheap.  I saved the 3 good hooks for a future project.  The base of the coat rack got a wash of milk paint in Ironstone.

making a wedding trailhead out of a coat rack

Here’s a roll of fencing that I’ve been hoarding.

making a wedding trailhead out of old picket fencing

I bought this at a yard sale a couple of years ago.  I share that because I don’t want you to think I stole it off of a sand dune that is now blowing away without the fence allowing the ocean to recede onto the road flooding everything in sight.  No.  Someone else probably did that and then I paid for it.  Or maybe it is actually just guilt-free garden fencing.

Anyway, I pulled each picket out after making a list of how far our guests’ home towns were in miles from Cape May.  With nothing more than a sharpee marker, I printed the city and miles shifting the orientation of the trail point somewhat haphazardly.  No one said it had to be exact.  We left the fencing color as-is since it gave some character to our trailhead and matched the Ironstone base pretty well.

making a DIY wedding trailhead

Enter Ryan.  The man with the power tools who assembled the project.

How to DIY a wedding trailhead

In the making, we had a bit of a duh moment.  We were destined to have white screws so they’d sort of blend in.  After searching the hardware store high and low for the right screws we turned to spray paint. Duh.  I paint everything else, how did I not think of that off that bat?  It took 2 seconds to pop the screws into a discarded box and lightly spray the heads.  Let that be a lesson to you my friends.  Spray your screws any darn color your choose because they pretty much only come in silver, black and brass.

poke screws in box to quickly change the color with spray paint

And of course, we couldn’t forget Cape May 0 miles, known locally as Exit Zero.  And known to us as Happily Ever After.  I’m so cheesy…

© Love Shack Photo

This was a lot of words for a 1-2-3 project.  But I’m chatty today.  I hope you like our version of the wedding trailhead.  By the way, don’t our friends and family live in some great cities?

© Love Shack PhotoDIYing a trailhead

All wedding photographs were shot professionally by Love Shack Photo.  All DIY photographs were DIY’d by me.

guest post: a shower fit for a bridesmaid

I’ve got a little treat for you today.  Something different anyway.  Last week I posted about my bridal shower, specifically the handmade gifts and details that went into it.  Well, today my MOH is here to rehash the behind the scenes DIY details that went into the event. Take it away Leigh…

As you may know from Dana’s blogging history, she’s been to a lot of weddings. Beyond just being your standard wedding guest, Dana takes what makes Circa Dee amazing and translates those talents into the fabulous, thoughtful events for her friends and family. A 10-time bridesmaid, 3-time reader, toast-giver, bachelorette party-planner, bouquet mastermind, you name it – she’s done it. So imagine the pressure when Dana asks you to be her Maid of Honor, which means planning an event for her!I jest. (A little.)In all seriousness, helping to plan Dana’s shower meant putting some of her favorite things, ideas, and people into one room. Here are a few aspects of the shower to highlight how we did that.The Theme – As a nod to Dana’s role in so many weddings, we went loosely with a 27 Dresses theme.  We incorporated dress and bridesmaid details throughout the day.
The Invitation – Designed by the lovely Poppies and Petals, we crafted a newspaper-inspired invite. Here, we asked that ladies wear a bridesmaid dress. (While I didn’t remember discussing this much in the past, Dana admitted that she checked her closet the morning of the shower to see if her bridesmaid dresses were still there! Without borrowing any of Dana’s dresses, we still had about a dozen ladies join in the fun of dressing up.)
27 dresses themed bridal shower
27 dresses themed bridal shower
27 dresses themed bridal shower

The Centerpieces – I fully admit to stalking Pinterest for this idea, but adding our own flare. We took a page from Dana’s vintage, rustic style, and used mini galvanized buckets as our base. We then added floral foam, some moss, and a few rocks to weight down the piece. Then, we added everyday kitchen skewers (hello, re-purposing!), stuck into the floral foam. Between the skewers, we strung a piece of yarn and a few mini-bunting flags. (We even borrowed Dana’s punch for this step, under the guise of Poppies and Petals custom card order.) We chose paper in sea-glass and vintage inspired tones, with a hint of pink because, come on, this is a bridal shower! Then, my favorite part, we found a template for mini dresses and cut them out on the Big Shot. Some twine was strung around the waist of the dresses for some extra detail and attached with a too-cute-for-words mini clothespin. I really love how quickly this project came together!

27 dresses themed bridal shower

Decorations – The room at the restaurant where we hosted the event didn’t need much adorning, but we added balloons in sea-glass colors. I also stalked Dana’s Facebook, blog, and emailed ladies who had included Dana in their wedding to find pictures. I had a  blast reliving all these amazing events, and Dana’s various haircuts over the years. Some photos for framed, and others were displayed out on tables. We also asked our guests to leave a wish for Dana and Ryan. These notecards and pens were displayed in a vintage planter I found at a local vintage shop.  I’m hoping to turn these photos and notes into a little book for Dana at some point.

The Favors – Dana already showcase the Ball Jar cookies, which she’d been dreaming of having. We also gave away little tokens to the ladies that wore bridesmaid dresses, of even-more-mini galvanized buckets, filled with candy, and adorned with another little dress.

ball mason jar cookie favors

The Food – No shower is complete without a great spread. Dana’s mom selected a variety of Italian dishes that included Dana’s favorite – Caprese Salad! While Dana unwrapped her mountain of gifts, we enjoyed homemade cookies baked by family and friends. Then, at the end of the party,we enjoyed not one but two cakes – one Tiramisu flavored and one from Alice Bakery (two more things Dana loves!)

bridal shower spread

Thanks for taking time to read about how to put on a party for Dana! I think we met this immense challenge in style and made a great day happen for our beautiful bride!

Thanks Leigh!  I have to admit that it felt totally bizarre showing up to a shower empty handed.  And you should also know that it took everything in me not to bring my camera and snap pictures or instagram the whole event.  After years of bridesmaiding (yes it is a verb), it was a blast to be on the other side!  I just wanted to live in the moment without social media…shocking.  And I bet you didn’t know that my blogging originally began in the wedding world, did ya?

the greatest show on earth

Happy Monday everyone!  I had a fabulous weekend and I hope you all did too.  Before I tell you about it, let me first announce the winner of the pair of tickets to Arden Theater’s production of Freud’s Last Session…drumroll…Karen M!  See you at The Scene for snacks, drinks & the show on Friday night!  For anyone else who is interested in joining us, you can purchase tickets for $30 each here.

Ok, now for the Greatest Show on Earth!  Seriously.  It was the greatest.

We hosted a circus theme birthday party on Saturday night and it was a blast!  It was everything I hoped and dreamed that a circus themed party could be…a little bit of vintage…a sideshow…creative costumes & styling.  Fire eating.  Yes, I said fire eating.


Let me just cut to the chase with some pictures.  Don’t try this at home!  This man is a professional fire eater.

There was also a real live strongman but unfortunately I didn’t capture pictures of him doing his thing which included tearing a phone book in half, bending a horseshoe and other metal objects.  Crazy stuff that you’d probably only see at the circus.  Or at my house on Saturday night.  We managed to transform our sunroom into a theater and cram about 50 people in for the show.


I encouraged guests to dress according to the circus theme and did they ever deliver!  I suppose we may have been a little Halloween deprived due to the storm.

Ryan was a lion tamer.

And so was our friend Leigh.  I was the bearded lady.

There were many clown variations including an entire family of rodeo clowns.

Followed by an entire family of circus gypsies.

Best costume went to the half man/half woman.

I had some bearded lady competition.

There were so many fun costumes and props.  I didn’t get to snap pictures of them all.  At some point I had to put the camera down and just enjoy everyone’s company.  Oh and there were lots of lions too.


I am guessing that if you’re still reading, you are thinking that a circus theme sounds like fun, right?  Yep, it is and it can be fairly easy to put together.  I planned a color scheme of red and blue with hints of white and pink.  No matter the theme pick a color scheme up front so the event has a consistent delivery.  Just like choosing colors when styling a room.

I wanted this circus to have a vintage look so I sourced an old poster, clown cornhole game, reproduction popcorn containers and more.  I also pulled out some mismatched vintage furniture from my inventory and used fabric remnants and linens within the color scheme.  You don’t have to buy all matching and new tablecloths when styling a party.  Always shop your stash first.  Again, just like styling a room – always shop your home.

You may have guessed that there was popcorn at the circus along with peanuts and animal crackers.  I also designed a few flower arrangements in the popcorn containers.  Half of the flowers came from my garden and the other half were purchased at the wholesaler.

When picking your color scheme, consider what the venue already offers.  Our dining room palette worked perfectly with the circus reds and blues.  I added a bunting that I had already made.

The circus theme is definitely all ages.  We had the aforementioned sideshow for the adults.  There was a pony corral for the young kids.  Ahem, rocking horses not really ponies.  Plus a pinata, hula hoops and some other games.  The fire eater also made balloon animals.

All in all, I have to say that this was a pretty great party.  Two days later and I am still smiling ear to ear!  I had so much fun celebrating my soon to be status as the big 3-0.  True story.  At the end of the month I’ll be 30 and I couldn’t be more excited.

Oh an I’m sure you are wondering where Wilson was for the festivities.  He was slinking around…

all that glitters

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree!  How I lo-ove thee! 
Our tree is trimmed and presents are starting to accumulate underneath.

We chose a tall, skinny Fraser fir that fits just right in the window space we carved out for it.  The tree is actually in our dining room.  Tonight we had dinner next to it and it was really quite nice!  Plus, it provides for a holiday focal in that room while the living room’s focal point is exclusively the oversized rustic mantel.  And  did I mention that the tree smells ah-mazing!

I tend to stick to a traditional color scheme when trimming the tree.  White sparkly lights and gold ornaments with a hint of holiday red.  This year the traditional decor was accented with our overall Christmas theme of galvanized, burlap and sheet music to coordinate with the mantel.

Burlap played a major part as the tree garland. 

The only new ornaments added to the collection this year are sheet music DIY balls.  I just inserted strips of vintage sheet music into clear glass balls.  And now we’ve got sheet music on the mantel annnd tree.

Did you spy where the galvanized comes in?  I skipped the tree skirt this year.  We put the tree and stand right in this big galvanized tub.  It keeps things tidy when watering the tree, looks awesome and seems to spare some space under the tree…for more gifts!

Yes, even the gift wrap follows the rustic theme.  Natural brown paper.  Burlap ribbons.  Sheet music wrapping and tags.  Plus hints of gold and red.

Consistency really pulls it all together.  It is easy to have a theme in your Christmas decor by simply repeating the core elements and colors.

What is your Christmas theme this year?

Linking to:


an affair to remember

Hey there!  We are in the peak of fall wedding season.  A few weeks ago we went to a lakeside tree themed wedding which you can read about here.  And just last weekend we attended another family wedding, this time in the neighborhood.

It is amazing how much you can customize a wedding to suit your style and personality.  I love to see what details each couple comes up with.  There were few commonalities in the recent family weddings.  Oh except for this bridesmaid who was in both and wore a deep purple bridesmaid dress to each.  (And she’s loving her Circa Dee cameo right now.  Hi Ali.)  Anyway, eggplant or deep purple seem to be quite the wedding trend for 2011/2012.

The bride wore a one shoulder strap gown with tons of detail on the full skirt.  It was a modern choice accented by a vintage style updo and a classic fingertip veil.  Gorgeous and quite complementary to the asymmetrical architecture of the modern church where the couple wed.

Speaking of church, it’s been awhile.  I mean it has been awhile since I have attended a wedding in an actual church.  The trend as of late has been to have a short ceremony/cocktails/dinner & dancing all in one venue.  I found it to be a refreshing change to witness the formality of matrimony.  It was a reminder that there is something bigger than us in this life and love regardless of an individual’s religious beliefs.

The bride and groom originally met in a college dorm years prior.  A few months ago they headed back to the meeting site and posed for engagements pics.  They incorporated the pictures into their save-the-dates and gift box pictured below.  I love the idea of taking engagement photos at the original meeting site unless of course it is less than memorable like a seedy bar, frat party or strip club (actual places some of my friends met their mates!).

The reception was held at the swanky Meadowlands Country Club.  Not only was the inside gorge but so were the grounds.  Ryan and I took a peek at the courtyard and gardens during the cocktail hour.  There he is posing.  The sun hid for their wedding day but at least it didn’t rain!

Back inside we feasted on tons of tasty hors d’oeuvres.  It was enough food to make a meal. 

I was taken back by this simple yet genius candle display.  Loving!  All it consists of his upside down stemware in various sizes with tea lights placed on top and slate tiles below.

It’s even kind of spooky in low light.  You might just see this again in my Halloween decor.

Ok so moving onto the dinner and dancing portion of the evening.  The couple’s first dance was to Better Together by Jack Johnson.  They were definitely the Prince & Princess of their ball!  Or perhaps King & Queen.  Either way, they looked like royalty.

Now let me tell you about the comedy that the bridal party brought to the party.  Enter the Maid and Matron of Honor.  They didn’t exactly look like Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince but they could rhyme.  I have to be honest, as these girls stepped up to the mic to give their toast I was thinking “oh not a girl speech”.  You know they can be sappy or sobby.  But not this toast.  They rewrote the entire Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song to reflect the bride and groom’s courtship.  It was hysterical and the beat was on point.  It could easily be a you tube sensation by now.  Truly legendary.

The flowers were also beautiful.  The tables alternated between low florist arrangements and tall branch arrangements with twinkling lights.  The flowers also met the color scheme in purples and whites.  Phalaenopsis orchids were intertwined in the branches and seasonal dahlias arranged in the low arrangements along with hydrangeas and roses.  Another classic and stunning choice.  Did you expect anything less?

Even the cake got the floral treatment.   Oh and that cake was good.  I am always left wanting more wedding cake!  The cake was followed up by a coffee bar.  In nearly 10,000 weddings that it seems I’ve attended, I have never seen a coffee bar like this.  I am talking a separate bar set up with top shelf liquors to mix with your java.  It was an extra special treat for guests.  I was so busy tearing up the dance floor that I almost missed the coffee bar.  Seriously, I was sore the next day.  We had a blast!

Best wishes newlyweds!

Now I’m off to get ready for another wedding.  The last of the fall wedding season for me.  Have a fab weekend friends!

for the love of trees

The wedding front has been quiet for me lately.  Just two years ago I would have found it unimaginable to go 3 months without attending a wedding but now that almost everyone I know is hitched, the wedding scene is slowing down.  Not totally though.  As I mentioned, we’ve got 3 weddings in 4 weeks and that started last weekend.  We went to the Pocono Mountains in PA last weekend hence our lakeside stay.  Friday evening was spent at another, larger lake known as Lake Wallenpaupack.  Say that 10 times fast.  Or just try to spell it.   

The ceremony and reception were held at Ehrhardt’s Waterfront Resort.

The couple developed their wedding theme around nature specifically starring trees.  Fittingly they said their “I do’s” under the huge trees next to Lake Wallenpaupack.  They stood under this beautiful trellis decorated with ferns and blooming purple and white stock.

I snapped this picture of the sky just as the ceremony was beginning.  Call me delusional but does that cloud formation look like a heart?  BTW after raining for 10 days straight, like hurricane type rain, it was sunny and gorge on their wedding day.  Somebody was lookin’ out!

Let’s talk about what they wore.  Starting with the guys…

The groom and his men were dressed to the nines in classic heather grey 3-piece suits.  The grey was very refreshing for a September wedding.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen this seemingly obvious look before.  Why does everyone go straight for the dark tux/suit? 

Grey is chic.  Very Mad Men if you will.  Who doesn’t want to channel a little Don Draper charm?

 Onto the ladies…

The bridesmaids defined the deep purple color scheme. Their dresses were strapless cocktail length from David’s Bridal in different variations. The girls can totally wear these dresses again. Really they can. They were a good choice giving DB some new credibility in my book.  Their dresses were exactly the color of the first one pictured.

The bride’s gown was the show stopper!  It was a drop waist sweetheart cut with a full train.  Covered in taffeta applique flowers. Love! Seriously gorge.  It suited the stunning bride to a tee.  This picture looks likeit came from a model photo shoot.  I know.  But it is the actual couple sporting their fashionable wedding attire.  Don who?

If this were my dress I think I would cut it up into ruffly pillow shams.  Because I’d want to sleep with it always.  And I mean that in a good/uncreepy way.  If that’s at all poss.  Love the flowers.

The cake.  Yum…

You didn’t miss the tree theme there, did ya?  Loving how these branches look like they were embroidered right on the cake.

Can we talk about the flowers?  A subject close to my heart.

The centerpieces fit right in with the theme.  The father of the bride made custom wooden planters that resembled the rawness of a tree’s bark.

Who said every floral centerpiece has to be created from fresh flowers?  Take a close look.  All of the flowers are blooming plants.  They included seasonal garden flowers like asters, kalanchoe & geraniums in the center for height.  And then pansies, impatiens, ivy & vinca vine provided depth and filler.  The planters added plenty of color and were a great DIY project that will keep on bloomin’ beyond the reception and even the honeymoon.

Hydrangeas cut from the mother of the bride’s garden decorated the sweetheart table.  Could they be any more perfect?

Seriously they don’t even look real.  Seasonal perfection!

The bride’s bouquet.  Simple, lovely and fragrant stock in purple & white with a touch of lavender statice.

Congratulations to my newlywed cousin and his wife!  Stunning details all around…