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Will run for food, but only if you feed me first.


Honeymooning in Paris

Honeymooning in Paris

I’ve been trying to catch up with all of my photos from the past few months, and the next post that I need to write about its PARIS! Paris is an incredibly romantic city, but starting our honeymoon here might not have been the best choice… Despite the fact that the City of Lights is a place for lovers, it is also a very large, busy city and when you’re coming down from the wedding, you are going to need some time to recharge.

So, here’s my protip for future honeymooners: get yourself to a beach, and skip the city adventure until you’ve had some R&R with your sweetie.

Honeymooning in Paris

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After a very quick night in Copenhagen, we flew to Paris, where we’d spend the next 3 days.

When we arrived, Leo suggested taking a bus that took us to the Champs Elysees…. Can you imagine LEO ON A BUS? Me neither, but it was his idea and so obviously I jumped on the opportunity.

The Peninsula, Paris

Upon arriving to the Arc de Triomphe, we dragged our massive rolling bags to the Peninsula, where we were very confident that would be the best place to start our honeymoon. Regardless of the stress of getting around Paris, this hotel was definitely a highlight of the trip.

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The Peninsula is the most high-tech hotels I’ve ever stayed in. After getting upgraded to a massive suite, the porter showed us how each control tablet worked. There are touch screens in every room for lights, temperature, and music. Next to the bed, there’s a tablet on either side where you can book spa reservations, get recommendations of things to do in the area, research hotels, or do little things like draw the blinds, turn down the lights, or make a VOIP call.

Also, they have their own fleet of luxury cars like Bentley’s and the vintage Rolls Royce below. Each are colored in their signature Peninsula green.

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I was seriously impressed.

The other thing that amazed me was that everything was on demand – any movie you wanted to watch, you could get for free; any drink you wanted in the fridge, you could drink it for free. These things just came with the room, which is such a drastically different way of approaching a travelers stay in a hotel.

Oh, and not only was the toilet super high-tech, but every time you sat down, lightly scented air slowly was released into the room. Talk about extravagance!

L’Oiseau Blanc

For our first dinner in Paris, we headed up to the most epic, breathtaking views of the city, on the Peninula’s rooftop – L’Oiseau Blanc. From le Sacre Coeur to la Tour Eiffel, there are stunning views of the city. But, be sure to reserve in advance, as the tables get booked quickly 🙂

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We started with a glass of Ruinart, soaking in the awe of the city, and then headed inside for dinner. The restaurant itself is named after a plane that attempted to cross the Atlantic, but crashed, and inside everything feels as if you’re in a cockpit of a plane. From the stainless steel bathrooms to the curved windows with strong iron components, the room is small and intimate, and the service is impeccable.

And the food, oh my, the food…

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Sight Seeing

Oh mon dieu did we explore Paris! We walked through the Jardin du Tuileries, to the Pont Neuf, to the Picasso Museum, wandered the streets of Le Marais, to Musee D’Orsay, to the Notre Dame, to the Shakespeare Book Store, to Harry’s New  York Bar, to the St. Regis cafe behind the Notre Dame, and through the Latin Quarter.

Each day we walked about 10 miles, which could also explain the complete exhaustion!

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Hexagone

Wow was this another absolutely incredible meal! On our second night, Hexagone, a new Mathieu Picard restaurant, came highly recommended to us.

This French gastronomic gem takes the ultimate wine list and then offers a four course menu that offers unique and nuanced flavors with the most beautiful presentation. From the impressive staff and service, to the thoughtful details of the menu, I can say that this was definitely a meal to remember.

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Le Pavillion de la Reine

We spent one last night in Paris after our week in Saint Tropez, and we decided to check out le Pavillion de la Reine after reading an awesome review in the New York Times. Not only were we charmed by the courtyard that is covered in ivy, but we were also greeted with a bottle of Billecart-Salmon on ice in our room – nice touch!

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The rooms were cozier than what we had at the Peninsula, but they were beautifully furnished, and it had all of the nice modern amenities that are not always promised in Paris. Plus, they had an amazing “honest bar” that was open for you to drink what you want at night. You keep tabs of what you’ve had and you’ll be charged at the end of your stay.

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As far as the location is concerned, it’s centrally located in Le Marais, and just right outside le Place de Vosges.

Macaroons and Le Marais

To finish our stay in Paris, we couldn’t go without picking up the best macaroons at Pierre Herme. After picking up the necessities, we wandered le Marais and finished dinner with escargot and oysters.

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Until next time Paris… a bientot!

Wedding Planner Woes

Wedding Planner Woes

I wanted to follow-up with a few thoughts from the wedding, because I feel like it’s important to share the things that you might have done differently. I honestly don’t think there is much that I would have changed, but if I could have done anything differently it would have been to scrap the wedding planner – entirely.

I know. This sounds like a weird thing to wished I had done differently, but unless you’re hosting a black tie event at the Biltmore and you’re wedding planner shows up in flip-flops and yoga pants….. you would probably feel the same way.

Wedding Planner Woes

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Meeting #1

During the cross-country road trip that Leo and I did on our way back to the BEST COAST, we stopped in Thousand Oaks to  go through the timeline, wedding party, and flower arrangements. She was in the middle of moving her shop, so when we showed up, she was in pajamas and the entire place was a mess. I could not believe the disorganization and chaos.

Yes, I should have taken this as a first red flag, but I had faith that a move (which I, myself, was in the middle of, was stressful and chaotic). Because it is.

Meeting #2

The second time we met was during our final walk through of the venue to review tables, flow of events, etc. The planner (again) showed up in long Harem-style Thai pants. This was our second meeting where she was completely not dressed appropriately (or at least I would never show up dressed like that to a client). This was the second red flag, but at this point we were to far into the process to change the flowers or planning.

Mistake #1: Saving Money Doesn’t Mean You’re Saving Yourself from Trouble

Here’s the first mistake that I made. I bundled the flowers and the wedding coordination. She offered  10% off the flowers if I also got the day-of wedding coordination, which I got suckered into… and now in hindsight, that’s 20/20.

However, I made the decision because at some point you have to cut costs at a wedding, and I figured that all of the things you’d see, i.e. photos, the dress, the flowers, the venue are all things that would be remembered forever; whereas the wedding planner is likely to never be remembered. (Although I’ll forever remember how Maria at the Four Seasons saved my wedding!!!)

Yes, the flowers were gorgeous, and her Yelp reviews did not lie about her arrangements.  However, the wedding planning from top to bottom was an absolute, complete let down.

Mistake #2: Tardiness

She showed up late to the wedding. Yes. She showed up late to my wedding. I didn’t have flowers for myself or my girls for half of my photos at the Biltmore before the wedding. Luckily the gardens at the Biltmore speak for themselves, but showing up late is just NOT OK.

She called me around 11 am to let me know that she wouldn’t be there with the flowers for my 12 pm first look. (I know, hold back the shock).

Instead of panicking (because my goal was to be as calm, cool and collected as possible), I told her to go directly to the church, as to avoid any further delays.

The bottom line: if you’re driving from Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara, account for traffic. When I look back on the timeline that her and I had initially put together, I felt like she was cutting it too close to the deadline, and as a bride, I should have just cushioned time for the wedding planner to be late.

Mistake #3: Lack of Attention to Detail

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She didn’t provide the flower girls with petals.

Supposedly some churches don’t allow this anymore, which is fine; however, the planner told me this after the fact, and if you’re going to be a good planner, you could very simply ask, “Do you know if your church allows flower petals for the flower girls? If not, I’ll simply provide the basket for them, but this is probably a good thing for you to know.”

Nope. She didn’t tell me this until after the wedding.

Mistake #4: Attire

UGH! Rule of thumb: don’t show up to a black tie event in flip-flops and yoga pants.

I should have known this too, because in each of our previous meetings, she could never muster the effort to dress up in anything more than pajama pants or yoga pants.

Her assistant was also in a regular t-shirt and jeans, which just is not appropriate for any wedding – Biltmore or not!

I provided this feedback to her, and her excuse was that she was getting a vase out of the van and it broke on her foot so she couldn’t wear heels.

I’m still curious how the heel and yoga pants would look together.

Mistake #5: Inaccurate Number of Staff

Staff. She told me that she would have 3 additional staff with her to set up, coordinate, and manage the event.

She came with one guy in a t-shirt, with no other staff to be found.

Thank god we got married where we did, because the Four Seasons staff was absolutely incredible. Very quickly into the event, Maria, the Biltmore events & catering manager, saw that my planner was a disaster. She quickly had her staff on every aspect of our event – from top to bottom – and she made sure that her team would override anything that my floozie planner was trying to do.

Honestly, I kind of felt bad for my planner because it’s kind of like a tee ball team showing up to play the SF Giants.

Again, thank god for Maria. She is the best ever, and here is Ruben, who took care of Leo for the reception and the brunch the next morning. He’s been with the Biltmore for 33 years, and he was amazing to our families.

My goodness the staff at the Four Seasons is absolutely incredible!

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Mistake #6: Incorrect Timelines

She had the wrong timeline. A few days before the wedding I thought I had sent her the revised timeline that Maria and I had finalized. I never double checked the attachment, which I should have done, and apparently I sent the original that the planner and I had been working on.

Long story short, the planner had no fucking clue what was going on the entire night.

When I had emailed her the feedback about being completely off the timeline, she noted that she didn’t have the one that Maria and I had finalized. I checked my email and saw that there was the wrong attachment.

Here’s the problem. Because she had such a lack of attention to detail, she missed that I had not sent a different, or updated, timeline.

So, yeah, of course she had no idea what was going on.

Mistake#7: Lack of Attention to Detail, Round 2

This is on the smaller scale, but nonetheless important. Leo had gotten these beautiful Waterford flutes for the wedding, which we specifically wanted for dinner and for cake cutting. The planner was very nice to make sure that they got packaged away safely, but of course, she didn’t account for the fact that there was time between the dinner and cake cutting.

Long story short.

Picking a poor planner is like drinking that extra drink at the end of the night that you definitely don’t need, and you’re still paying for it. You’re going to actually pay for it, and you’re going to pay for it the next day because she is likely to be a headache.

She scrambled to get the flutes unpacked and filled with champagne for the toast, but if you look closely at the photos, there’s one photo with the standard flutes and one photo with the correct flutes.

Suggestions

If the Four Seasons Biltmore gives you a preferred list of vendors, then go with that list of vendors. They are guaranteed to do a good job, because they have worked with the Four Seasons before, and more importantly, the Four Seasons trusts and know they’ll do a good job.

I tried to go rogue and find a florist who had good reviews on Yelp. It just so happened that she had wedding coordination services on top of that, which I wish I could get my $1000 back at this point, because I’m still confused as to what I spent that money on.

If you don’t have a budget for a planner, and if you’re venue has amazing staff, then do your leg work to make sure that everything is in place and that you don’t need to bear the burden of the cost of a planner.

That is all 🙂

 

Cross Country Road Trip Round 2

Cross Country Road Trip Round 2

OH MY GOSH THIS HAS BEEN THE BEST SUMMER EVER! After weeks and weeks of traveling the country, unloading packages, planning a wedding, going on an epic honeymoon, I am finally dedicating some time to write about our cross country trip from ATL to SF, which up (until the honeymoon) has to have been the coolest trip we’ve been on.

Also, you might notice a complete re-do of my site. It was time for a refresh 🙂

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Here it is…. Cross Country Road Trip Round 2

ATL to Nashville
Our first leg was ATL to Nashville, which was by far one of the prettiest parts of our drive. Tennessee is absolutely beautiful – it is so green and the Smokey Mountains are very beautiful. We also learned that there are the most different types of trees in Tennessee than any other state in the US.

We spent two nights in Nashville. Unfortunately the weather stormed both days, so we didn’t get a chance to explore much, but we did have an opportunity to eat some amazing meals. When we were in Charleston for Thanksgiving, we missed a dinner at Husk, so we were lucky enough to try it in Nashville. Amazing food, and you know it’s going to be a good night when you top it off with some Pappy Vanwinkle!

Although we were tired, we made a quick pitstop to listen to some live music at 3rd and Lindsley Grill, which on Monday night has the Time Jumpers – a must see!

Nashville to KC

The next leg was from Nashville to KC. We passed through five states on this leg: Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas.

For lunch, e stopped in St. Louis for a quick bite and to see as much as you can in one hour or less. Who knew St. Louis was so pretty? We stopped in Forest Park, which has tons of parks, gardens, and even a lake!

When we got to KC, we stayed with my family, and I had to bring Leo to get his FIRST Kansas City BBQ. We got the whole gang together and headed to Jackstack. Leo was thoroughly impressed with the massive onion rings and burnt ends 🙂

KC to Vail

After what felt like a very short night of sleep, Leo and I were up and at ’em to get to Vail the next day. Most boring part of the trip: western Kansas. Dear lord, this is a boring state.  (No offense to my family who live here).

But, we made it to the Rockies, where we were lucky to spend 4 glorious nights at the Four Seasons. Yes!

I have a special place in my heart for Vail, so spending time with Leo and Rex is extra sweet.

Vail to Vegas

After a few days of down time in Vail, we headed to Vegas through the red, rocky terrain of Zion in Utah. Coming from the lush greenery of Tennessee through the Rocky mountains to the dessert-like land of Utah is pretty fascinating.

Once we made it to Vegas, we found ourself in 50th floor suite at the Vdara. Needless to say, we were A-OK with the situation.

After a night in Vegas, we realized we were exhausted and wanted to stay for one more night. We decided to catch a quick show at the Wynn, La Reve, which was one of the most incredible Cirque du Soleil shows I’ve seen! Truly incredible talent.

Restaurants we ate at: Sage at the Aria, and Mizumi at the Wynn.

Vegas to SB

Next up was our last stop of the trip: Santa Barbara. We decided that it would be a good opportunity to finalize all of the wedding details that are fairly hard to do from across the country. This included: meeting with the wedding planner, finalizing the flower arrangements, doing the menu tasting at the Four Seasons, finalizing the menu for the rehearsal dinner at the Canary Hotel, and all of the other crazy last-minute things that pop up before a wedding.

Highlight of the trip was not only our private cottage at the Four Seasons Biltmore, but the menu tasting was so much fun. I will have more details on this when I write my wedding post, but gosh darn it, it was good!

Also, we found this little gem in Montecito called Jeannine’s. Best breakfast ever.

SB to SF

Home sweet home! Although it was an incredible 2 week journey seeing so many things I’ve never had the opportunity to see, we were sure glad to be home.

Now that we are back home and settled, I’ll have a few new posts coming: the wedding & the honeymoon! Oh la la!

xx


My Diary

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A very summer bridal shower

 

After we got back from Vail (for the second time), my mother-in-law was kind enough to host a bridal shower for me! You probably wouldn’t know of Restaurant 3000, but my mom found this amazing little venue right off Sand Hill Road that hosts private events. We celebrated my parent’s rehearsal dinner here too, so we know they’ve got great food and a nice back patio that’s very private!

A Very Summer Bridal Shower

The food, flowers, and friends were all amazing. Take a look at the spread!

Thank you to everyone who made my shower so special – I was completely overwhelmed with love and being around my best family friends! Thank you, thank you, thank you! x