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We are all on the go so much now. Work, family, friends, worship and repeat. Add in planning a wedding and it’s easy to see how you can you can lose track of time and even people! Just yesterday it was January 1st and now we’re planning for Christmas, it seems.

While such a jammed packed schedule has become the way of life for most, it’s important that we don’t let our obligations keep us from those we love most, especially spouses or spouses-to-be. Date nights are more important than people realize. They help solidify the bond that you have created and allow time for you to remember each other as people and not just “husband/provider/protector” or “wife/helpmate/mom”.

Now that you’ve decided on getting all dressed up and hitting the town, what’s there to do? Well, thankfully for those of us in Southwest Louisiana, there’s never a dull moment around here! There are lots of options for entertainment to fit just about any couple’s interests and budgets.

1.Take a Class:
One of the most wonderful things about Louisiana is the role art plays in our culture. While it doesn’t run in everyone’s genes, there are some great local spots that provide the chance to awaken your inner Picasso.

WATERCOLOR CLASSES by Sue Zimmerman
November 7, 2017 – Recurring weekly on Tuesday until December 19, 2017
Times: From: 09:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Location: Gallery by the Lake
Address: 106 West Pryce St. Lake Charles, LA Lake Charles

PAINTING WITH A TWIST
Prices vary by night, but they have tons of great offerings in November.
Nov 16: “A KING IS BORN”

Nov 20: “NUTCRACKER”

Nov 25: “PAINT YOUR OWN BLUE DOG”

Paint Studio #16
4421 Nelson Rd
Lake Charles, LA 70605

 

2. Enjoy the Art (instead of making it)
There are some great exhibits going up in SWLA and now’s a great time to grab you fiancé and maybe get some ideas for that future home!

Walnut Grove INSTITUTE ART EXHIBIT: Kim Allison-Hebert & Sarah Trahan
November 7, 2017 – Recurring daily until November 25, 2017
Times: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: Walnut Grove Post Office
Address: 1490 Market Street Lake Charles, LA 70601

JONATHAN MOORE EXHIBIT
November 7, 2017 – Recurring weekly on Mon., Tues., Wednes., Thurs., Fri. until November 22, 2017
Times: M-F 9:00AM to 5:00PM Saturday by appointment
Location: Black Heritage Gallery,  809 Kirby Street, Ste. 207 (In the Central School Arts & Humanities Center) Lake Charles, LA 70601
Phone: (337) 488-0567

 

3. Get in the Game
It’s that time of year! Football is in full swing, basketball is just getting underway and the weather is perfect to be outdoors.

MCNEESE FOOTBALL vs. NORTHWESTERN STATE
November 11 6 PM at Cowboy Stadium

MCNEESE MEN’S BASKETBALL
November 13 7:00 PM at Burton Coliseum (v. Ecclesia College)

November 22 3:30PM at Burton Coliseum (v. Champion Christian College)

November 25 at 3:00 PM at Burton Coliseum (v. Southern University New Orleans)

MCNEESE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
November 12 2:00 PM at Burton Coliseum (v. Southern University New Orleans)

November 19 2:00 PM at Burton Coliseum (v. LSU-A)

November 22 at 1:00 PM at Burton Coliseum (v. Grambling)

 

4. Get Into the Holiday Spirit
Christmas is rapidly approaching and there’s a few date night ideas that will help make you both merry!

MOSCOW BALLET’S GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER
November 10, 2017
Times: From: 07:00 PM to 09:00 PM
Location: Lake Charles Civic Center
Address: 900 Lakeshore Dr, Lake Charles, LA 70601
Phone: 1-800-745-3000
Admission: Tickets start at $28.00

Crave Gourmet’s “HOLIDAY PAIRING AND SHARING”
November 11, 2017 – Recurring weekly on Saturday until December 23, 2017
Times: From noon – 3 p.m.
Location: Crave
Address: 2801 Ryan Street, Suite 100 Lake Charles, LA 70601
Phone: (337) 421-0040
Admission: FREE

November is clearly jam packed and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can check with the Arts & Humanities Council, The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the Central School for more ideas and events.

Let us know what fun Date Night Adventures you had this month in the comments below – Happy dating!

 

Before my husband and I got married 6 years ago, I basically told him “Hey, I don’t believe in divorce okay? I’m in this ’til death do us part’. We can either work together and make this a happy ‘for the rest of our lives’ or we can make it miserable. I just want you to confirm we are in this together.”

Basically, what I meant was either we can work together as a team to make this marriage work for the long haul, or we can make things 10 times harder by making poor decisions that will cause us to push through situations of anger, hurt and trust issues for years to come.

I knew we wouldn’t like each other 24/7 and having been in a long relationship prior to meeting my husband, I knew the “goo goo eyed” love phase wasn’t permanent. Eventually we would have arguments, and eventually we would discover little ticks that work our nerves, although they never did before.

However, I think it makes a significant difference in the long run when you look at your marriage as a definite instead of something temporary. If you have the mindset “oh if he did this I would do this” and “if she did that then I’d leave”, then you aren’t thinking of your relationship as a true commitment. Til death do us part, is exactly what it says and it’s up to both of you to work through and make things function as one. It’s team work. It’s HARD work. But when you focus on each other and overcoming obstacles life throws at you together, you grow stronger together.

If you are planning your wedding, and more importantly working to build a solid foundation for your marriage, I highly suggest you both sit down and have a similar conversation to the one I had 7 years ago. Make sure you both agree that this is important and that you want to work together as a team from here on out!

I’m rooting for y’all!

 

Lovely lovely friends. I am SO EXCITED to share this beautiful gem with you all! I have been a fan of J.Lynn Designery for a while now, so when I saw that the newly married lady in charge collaborated with Ribbon Events to create this beautiful wedding planner, I just had to check it out.

So here it is! I went through each section of this planner and wrote down all the cool features I think you will love and find super helpful! Plus, I included plenty of images for you to take a look at all the gorgeous details!! 🙂

Let’s do this!

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The first impression – I LOVE that there is a spot to write the couples name on the opening page! We all know how much we love to write our name on that first page of the planner and this little touch helps draw the focus from planning a wedding all by yourself, to the fact that this special day is for the both of you! Also, I really like that there is a small section to write down a few things about you as a couple (like your engagement story!! This will be so fun to look back on!) and what you are looking forward to on this journey. Also, there is a nifty pocket up front to keep things you get over the course of this wedding planning journey.

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Engagement Timeline – This section is broken up into things to do to prepare for your big day! I love that it is set up as a checklist so that you can check off things as you get them accomplished – plus, there are a few lines to add in your own random “to do’s” that come up along the way. One small detail that caught my eye was the “book hair/makeup trials” – which we think is super important to do and best to schedule with your bridal portraits! That way you not only get your hair and makeup just how you like it, but you also get to put on and wear your dress around for a couple hours – which is THE BEST run through to make the wedding day getting ready process go smoothly!

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The Planner – I have two very favorite sections in this wedding planner and this is the first one! This section is the largest section of the planner, and breaks down into many important “mini-sections” for things like Budgeting, Venues, Stationery, Attire/Beauty, etc. I am so excited to share with you how super helpful these are!! Just like your wedding, the good stuff is in the little personal touches 😉 I also love that at the end of each of these sections there is a spot to write the information for the vendor you ended up booking per that category!

  • Budgeting – I love the breakdown for the budget. It covers all the bases, but isn’t overwhelming. There is also room for you to add on things specific to your budget!

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  • Venues – This mini section has spots for certain details about both the ceremony site and reception venue, so when you bring this perfectly sized planner with you to meetings (or keep in next to you as you search online) you have an idea of things to ask/look for!
  • Stationery – This section is super helpful! It has a section with invitation essentials and a list of things like programs, signage, table number, etc. so they aren’t forgotten and are planned for in advance!
  • Attire/Beauty – Oh my, checklists are so very nifty! This section makes sure you have all the things you need with you on the day of your wedding (gown, veil, garter, day-of bag, something old, new, borrowed and blue, etc.) AND it also has similar checklists for your bridesmaids, groom, and groomsmen!
  • Catering and Bakery – Okay, so the beginning of this section is set up lovely just like the rest of the categories, but I did not understand what exactly went in the meal/menu purpose so I got clarification that this portion was “designed to be a place for couples to write in their menus for the wedding day/weekend; for instance, at a more traditional wedding, this would include the Rehearsal dinner menu and Reception lunch/dinner menu; but I know couples often do a morning-after brunch or maybe another wedding meal event during the weekend, and so we included multiple slots for this info so it could be as flexible as possible for recording the finalized menu.”
  • Additional sections – Music (has cute activity suggestions as well!!!), Photography/Videography, Florals/Decor, Honeymoon (great place to keep your flight/hotel/car rental info)

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  • Then another great section is the Wedding Day Timeline, Roles, and Transportation – This section includes a page with timeline essentials and a space to add in a time and details about that specific thing! SO helpful to have this handy when you are planning your timeline to make sure you don’t miss anything important as you lay it out! Other things I love in this section include: Day-Of Duties – which is a great reminder that it is SO important to delegate duties for the day of the wedding (and before) and let people help you! This section helps you think of tasks to delegate people to, as well as keep track of who is supposed to be doing what. On that same thought, the Day-Of Contacts in addition to the Day-Of Duties is a great way for someone like the Maid of Honor to help delegate things on your wedding day so you aren’t stressed!

wedlove-wedding-planner-getinspiredguide-louisiana-weddingGet Inspired – This section is so cool! First, I have to say I LOOOOOVE the detail of the information here – you learn a lot about the different areas but you aren’t overwhelmed with text. In the photo above you can see what I mean a little bit with the Color Palettes – but the Floral Guide ya’ll – this section has not only a painting of the flower but the season its good to find that flower in, the name of the flower, the price point, and color spectrum for that flower!

Other mini-sections in the Get Inspired portion include: Modern Etiquette (helpful for addressing envelopes, setting up your registry (GREAT suggestions in the notes for this!!), setting the table (with a chart that tells you how to know what size cloth you need for what size table…ya’ll I told you this planner is super helpful!), centerpieces (DESSERT CENTERPIECES – yes please!), wedding websites and hashtags!

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Then our last lovely tab would be The Notebook section, and ya’ll one of my FAVORITE features is the fact that there are so many (but not TOO many) blank notebook pages throughout this planner, in each section, for you to write down notes about that particular area. But in the back there is a whole section for you to write down ideas, sketch things out, or questions to ask vendors, etc.

BONUS – Hidden in the back of The Notebook section is a super cute mini-section called Let’s Get Married, where you get to wrap up your wedding planning journey with your favorite photo from your wedding day and write some prompted favorite memories from your wedding!

Over-all
This wedding planner has a beautiful, clean design that helps you plan without being overwhelmed with text and information! You fill things in, instead of reading through pages and pages of info. It is also a PERFECT size to keep with you in your purse or on your desk. I highly recommend bringing this with you to work (in case you get a call from a vendor or family member with questions about the wedding), or in case you need to stop by for a meeting with a vendor throughout your day. Last, like I mentioned in the notebook section, I love that there is plenty of space to write things down so you don’t have to have a separate notebook for additional things – everything just stays there together!

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We love these beautiful wedding planners so much that we will now be selling them here on our site and over at our studio downtown! Head on over and pre-order yours today and receive a special gift from us, until September 28, 2016!

We know you will love this wedding planner just as much as we do!

As you begin planning your wedding, one of the very first decisions that you will need to make is selecting a wedding date. When you go to reserve your wedding venue or photographer, having a date selected will be pretty important for them to confirm they are available to work with you.

Now, if you have a date that is special to you and your honey then selecting a date is one of the easier wedding tasks. If not, however, well….it’s honestly still not that hard of a task, but might seem like a random shot in the dark without a bit of help.

When I was planning my own wedding, I remember riding in the car with my new fiancé (that is so fun to say huh? Go ahead, give your ring finger a wiggle…you know you want to!) and reminding him that we actually had to pick a date to have the wedding on, so of course he literally just started throwing out dates from the top of his head. The first date was some time in May of the following year and that was a no go because I would be in the middle of my college finals and graduation at that was not going to work. So he suggested June…the month after graduation. With graduation over by then, June seemed like a good enough choice. But June what? He randomly throws out June 12. Sounds good, but is that even a Saturday (which for as much I knew was when weddings typically occur)? It was! So June 12 became our date. That was it. We literally just pulled a date out of thin air. Later, we found out that June is probably the most popular month to get married and if we lived anywhere else, I might have had trouble securing a date with some vendors.

I share all this to say, I want to put 5 years of wedding experience to good use and help you select your perfect wedding date with a little bit more information than a random luck of the draw.

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8 Tips To Select Your Perfect Wedding Date in Southwest Louisiana

  1. Figure out how long you realistically need to get this wedding planned.
    Here are some things to keep in mind:
    – If you are planning a huge wedding that you have been dreaming of since you were 4 years old and are planning on inviting a lot of guests, you will probably need a good amount of time to plan. But if you are more of a “lets get married in my parents backyard and boil crawfish after” type of couple then you might be able to swing a shorter engagement period.
    – Typically the average length of an engagement (your wedding planning timeframe) is about 12-6 months.
    – In the example I gave previously, I mentioned that I was finishing up my final semesters of college when we were planning our wedding. Factoring in future events like my graduation, we planned our wedding for 9 months ahead. Look ahead a bit and see what events you might need to plan around.
  2. Narrow down your choices. Is there a time of year that you prefer more than others? Is there a time of year that you absolutely know won’t work? Write these down.
  3. Remember, we live in Southwest Louisiana. Generally, the most popular months for weddings are May, June, July, August, September and October. Majority of these months are summer months and it gets HOT in Lake Charles, LA during the summer. So keep our local weather in mind when planning your wedding. To do so, I found this awesome and very helpful chart that gives yearly averages for the rain amounts and temperature. In Lake Charles, according to the chart, February, March and April are the months with the least amount of rainfall and have the nicest temperatures. The temperatures drop again during Fall of course, but the average rainfall is still consistantly pretty high. When I was first searching for this chart I was thinking “You only need to know the weather if you plan an outdoor wedding” but then I realized, no…it’s good to consider it even for an indoor wedding since you might want to take photographs outside and need to travel to and from as well. With that said, remember – it’s Louisiana and our weather is crazy unpredictable.

    Just pray for beautiful weather and don’t stress about things we can not predict or change.

    weather-in-lake-charles-louisiana

  4.  Avoid holidays. If you would like to have your wedding in April, take an extra step and check when big holidays like Easter fall that year. A lot of times families are traveling out of town for holidays, and some churches may be booked up with holiday related events around that time. While you are considering the surrounding holidays, remember that some of your venues may be decorated for holidays – is that a plus or a minus for you?
  5. Weekends generally mean more people are off work, but weekdays might be cheaper on your pocketbook. Since the majority of couples book weddings on a Saturday, or weekend in general, there is more flexibility with vendors to offer a weekday wedding at a discounted rate.
  6. Honeymoon prices may be cheaper during the “off season.” If you head off on honeymoon after the holidays, or during the winter, your travel prices might be lower. This however, isn’t the case if you are planning on going somewhere tropical in the winter since a lot of people who live, you know where they actually have snow and stuff for winter, will actually be traveling to warmer weather for a break from the frigid weather. Chat with a travel agent if you plan on traveling for your honeymoon and need an idea of the best times to travel there.
  7. When planning the time of day for your wedding ceremony, take meals into consideration. If your reception is going to fall around lunch or dinner time, then you might feel obligated to feed your guests a full plated meal (and they will be hoping for it since they will most likely be hungry). Scheduling your wedding to fall around these meal hours can help save some money as you serve hor d’oeuvres or brunch, instead of a whole plate.
  8. Consider the time of year it will be and what time the sun sets. With Daylight Savings time, depending on the time of year you choose, the sun may either set super early (around 5 pm) or later in the evening (around 8 pm). When the sun is setting earlier, you will want your ceremony to finish between 1-2 hours before sunset to make time for formal family portraits, as well as the very important newlywed portraits of you as man and wife. When you are planning a wedding where the sun is setting later in the evening, you have more flexibility to come back outside and get those couple portraits after your reception has started, which is a bonus.

So basically, we broke this down from time of year, to month, to choosing a day of the week, and finally time of day. We took upcoming events into consideration, as well as weather, any holidays, and personal preferences. With these tips in mind, you and the love of your life should have an easier time selecting the perfect date for your Southwest Louisiana wedding!

So, did you get a date picked? What tips did you find most useful in selecting your final wedding date?

Is It Bad Luck To See Each Other Before the Wedding? - The Louisiana Wedding

With the option of a first look becoming more popular, more and more brides want to know whether it really is bad luck to see each other before the wedding. If you are new to the whole wedding scene, you might not have even heard of a “first look,” but chances are you have believed, or do believe, that it is bad luck to see each other before the wedding. It’s not surprising to find out that the soon-to-be-wed couples parents are the number one supporters of hiding out before you walk down the aisle. But you might not be so convinced when you find out where this wedding tradition comes from.

The Tradition

Let’s get right to it! The custom of waiting to see each other when you walk down the aisle actually comes from the days of arranged marriages. When marriages were arranged, it was primarily a business transaction between two families, and very common for the bride and groom not to meet each other until they said “I Do.” In fact, the brides veil would cover the her face as well, ya know, just in case the groom decided to hit the road running instead of going through with the deal.

Sidenote: This totally makes me think of the story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah found in Genesis 29 of the Bible. Jacob had actually met both Rachel and her sister Leah previously, but he fell in love with Rachel and agreed with her father, Laban, to work for 7 years to have her hand in marriage.

“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.” – Genesis 29:20

*Swoon* Romantic right? Then the drama comes…..when the big day finally rolls around, Laban sneaks Leah (the eldest daughter) in to consummate the marriage instead of her sister Rachel. Obviously, Jacob was pretty upset about this, but Laban was like “Hey, no biggie finish out your week of marriage festivities with Leah and then you can marry Rachel as well, if you agree to work for me for 7 more years” (which he did of course because he was so smitten).

The First Look

Is It Bad Luck To See Each Other Before the Wedding? - The Louisiana Wedding
Photo by Emily and Daniel Photography – www.emilyanddaniel.net

Okay, so what is this “first look” thing? This is that special moment when the bride and groom first see each other in all their wedding day glory. Custom has been that the first look happens when the bride walks down the aisle, which of course has to do with the whole “bad luck to see each other before tradition”. But more and more couples are choosing to select a time to first see each other before the ceremony.

What are the pros and cons of seeing each other before the ceremony?
Okay, I’m going to be honest. I can not think of any cons except your parents might get upset, or you just might feel very strongly against it. What one might assume to happen, would be that the surprise factor is gone, or your groom might not get as emotional when you do walk down the aisle. But the moment when the bride walks down the aisle really is the emotional climax of a wedding and its hard not to grin and tear up no matter who you are. 9 times out of 10 the groom STILL gets emotional when the bride walks out even if they got to spend some time together before that moment.

So the pros: The biggest pro is that you get to spend some quiet time together before all of the wedding activities begin.

“..many brides and grooms deliberately seek an opportunity to be alone in the hours before the ceremony. A few quiet moments together can be wonderfully refreshing, and a lovely new tradition to adopt.” – Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, Edition 6, pg. 78

This is such a big thing! Once the ceremony begins you will officially be swept up into a whirlwind of wedding activities, and depending on how social you and your guests are, you honestly might not get to spend a long amount of time even looking at each other. Spending 30 minutes alone (in the company of your wedding photographer and videographer of course), is such a precious time on such an emotional and exciting day. It’s like a breath of fresh air.

In addition to some precious time together, the first look is a perfect time to get some beautiful portraits of just you two. These are the images you will cherish most. These are the images you will want to hang on your wall! Don’t get me wrong, these portraits can be captured after the ceremony as well and they are just as special – but the significance of photos before is that you will spend less time taking those portraits later. This helps you go from ceremony to reception nearly just as quickly as your guests. In fact, after you have some quiet time and get some photos taken together,  you can invite your bridal party in and get photos with taken as well. [Usually, its quite difficult to wrangle all the family together before the ceremony, so these usually work best taken immediately after.]

All in all, the decision is up to you and your soon-to-be spouse. It’s best to take some time and discuss your preferences as far in advance as you can, since this will help you finalize what your wedding day timeline will look like. To help you discuss this topic, we have included a special download for you to print out and write out your personal pros and cons about first look photos!

In the meantime, we’d love to know what your initial thoughts are on the first look and/or waiting to see each other until you walk down the aisle? Let us know in the comments below!

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Date night adventures Lake Charles,La - September 2015Please tell me I am not the only one in shock at how fast this year is flying by? I am blessed to have friends from all over the United States, and it is such a tease to see that they are already posting photos of autumn leaves on social media! All the same, I am so thankful to welcome September this year and hopefully some cooler weather for the Lake Area very soon. As the weather gets a little less warm (or ridiculously hot), we have compiled some great date night adventures for you all to get out and participate in this month!

1. Beginning Watercolor by Theresa Dewey – Okay, I’ll admit I’m an artist at heart so these opportunities to get creative stick out to me! This opportunity in particular sounds like a fun way to get creative with no pressure as local artist, Theresa Dewey, gives a beginning introduction into watercolor. If you aren’t usually an artistic couple, this is a great way to step out of your usual “box” and try something new together!

When – Recurring weekly on Tuesdays, upcoming dates September 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Where – Gallery by the Lake – 106 West Pryce St, Lake Charles, LA
Contact – alaartists@yahoo.com
More information – http://lakecharlesartists.com/

2. McNeese Faculty/Guest Artists Series: Lina Morita, piano and Lin He, violin – For a relaxing weekday evening date, why don’t you and your favorite someone stop by McNeese to catch a piano and violin performance? I am always so impressed by musicians. I know they spend hours upon hours practicing and perfecting their craft, but it still blows me away to watch them perform in person! This seems like the perfect date to follow up with a dinner date out on the town.

When – Thursday, September 3, 2015
Time – Starting at 7:30 pm
Where – McNeese State University – Department of Performing Arts
Tritico Theatre – 4205 Ryan St, Lake Charles, LA

Cost – Free
More information – http://www.mcneese.edu/performingarts/performing_arts_calendar

3. Calca-Chew Food Festival – What a great way to get in touch with the French heritage of the Lake Area! The Calca-Chew Food Festival is an alcohol free festival featuring yummy Louisiana favorites like boudin, etouffee, jambalaya, and fried fish, dancing, a live and a silent auction.

When – Sunday, September 27, 2015
Time – 7:00 am – 3:00 pm
Where – St. Margaret Family Life Center – 2500 Enterprise Blvd, Lake Charles, LA 70601
Cost – Free
Contact – mrothermel@suddenlinkmail.com or (337) 439-4585
More information – http://www.stmargaretcatholicchurch.com
 

4. Sax in the City: Dinner & Concert This event is another opportunity to enjoy some good music and enjoy dinner out – but this time all in one place! This event will be featuring Grammy-nominated Mickey Huber Smith, Jr. and Lafayette sax-sensation JB Saax and Friends, and it will be a tribute to the elements earth, wind and fire.

When – Sunday, September 27, 2015
Time – Catered dinner at 5:30 pm and concert at 7:00 pm
Where – Chateau du Calcasieu, 932 Enterprise Blvd, Lake Charles, LA 70601
Cost – $30 (must be purchased in advance – includes preferred seating, dinner and the show); general admission (6:30 pm at the door) is $15 (does not include a meal); tickets can be purchased at Swicegood Music – 308 E. Prien Lake Rd and Bearden’s Music – 202 Cities Service Hwy
More information – http://www.usa-links.com/mickeysmithjr/

 

 

I can’t wait to see which date night adventures you will be adding to your calendar for September! What other date night adventures do you have planned?

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Since day one, I have been itching to share this beautiful Southern Weddings Planner with all of you! I truly believe it is one of the best tools you can have along with you during your wedding planning journey! So much so, that we gift each and every one of our own wedding clients with this planner to help them as they begin planning not only their wedding, but their lives together.

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The Southern Weddings Planner was created by the beautiful ladies behind Southern Weddings Magazine.

The mission of Southern Weddings is to inspire brides to cultivate a life full of love — celebrating their families, the culture of the South, and what matters most to them — and then to draw from that rich well to create a meaningful beginning to married life.

With that same purpose in mind, these lovely ladies have created a very meaningful wedding planner to encourage brides to plan marriages more beautiful than their weddings.

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This wedding planner is full of wonderfully helpful tools to help you plan every aspect of your wedding. One of my favorites being a handy checklist with suggestions of what to take care of 12-9 months before your wedding, 9-6 months before your wedding, 6-3 months before your wedding, and 3-0 months before your wedding. Ya’ll, this thing is not only helpful it is absolutely beautiful! So much love and thoughtfulness went into every detail.

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Southern Weddings Planner Highlights

I wanted to share a few highlights from the planner with you as well, so I will briefly go through each of the 10 tabs and share just some of the handy things you can find inside:

1. Gathering Inspiration
What a beautiful place to start…dreaming. This section includes a brainstorming worksheet and many places for gathering visual inspiration. This is one of the many places for you to grab those bridal magazines you have laying around (or coming to your doorstep) and build a real life Pinterest board of your wedding. We always find such great ideas on Pinterest, but there is nothing like cutting and pasting together by hand your own dream board of ideas!

2. Budgeting – This is something that needs to be tackled very early in the wedding planning process because it sets the stage for so many questions and decisions to come. This wedding planner helps you sort through and decide your priorities for your wedding, gives you a budgeting spreadsheet, a vendor pricing guide (so you have at least an idea of what certain vendors charge), and lots and lots of tips and suggestions!

3. Working with Vendors – One of the most intimidating parts of planning your wedding can be choosing your vendors. It is so important that you are well informed about each person you work with and we can’t suggest enough how important it is to meet them face to face and make sure that you feel comfortable working together. The Southern Weddings Planner gives you the tools to prepare for those meetings with tips for working with different vendors, general tips for finding and hiring vendors, and a place to keep track of all your meetings and the information you gather. One of my other favorite parts of this section is that it includes sample wording for your stationary such as Save the Dates, your invitations, reception cards and response cards.

4. The Look – Yes, the dress! The dresses, tuxes, hair, makeup, shoes, and jewelry – this is another spot for you to dream and plan! Some of the things this section includes are an inspiration guide for dress types and spots to collect important measurements and notes about each of your bridesmaids and groomsmen.

5. Planning Your Ceremony – The ceremony will be one of the places where you might have to make a lot of decisions and answer a lot of questions. Some of the things the Southern Weddings Planner includes in this section are a basic ceremony structure (so you have an idea of what all a ceremony could include), common rituals and traditions that go on during the ceremony, questions to ask, tips for writing vows (with examples!), and a place to plan out a timeline.

6. Planning Reception – Usually you get to relax and enjoy the party a bit more during the reception! This section includes tips for choosing your meal, seating arrangements, traditions that go on during the reception, and song selection for those significant parts of the evening (like your first dance, father-daughter dance, bouquet toss, etc.)

7. Gracious Southern Bride – In true Southern Weddings style, they have included a section on southern hospitality, sending Thank You notes, and gift suggestions for your spouse, bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, and vendors.

8. Logistics – This section includes information you will find super helpful for building a timeline for your wedding day, booking transportation, booking room blocks, and getting your marriage license. The little things that must be taken care of! (We also highly suggest checking out our recent post with specific information for getting your marriage license in the Lake Area!)

9. Marriage Planning – Okay, this is my favorite section of the whole Southern Weddings Planner, and honestly it is one of the most important parts of the whole wedding planning experience. This section is all about you and your spouse-to-be and how you can make your marriage even more beautiful than your wedding day. This is so important, because this is what it is all about! The wedding is the celebration of your marriage, and your marriage is the beautiful life you are beginning together. This section includes fun questions, suggestions of things to do together (to just enjoy each other and take some time to relax during this whole process), 10 hints for a happy marriage, a name changing checklist, and an anniversary gift guide.

10. Appendix – This is the last section and are the final useful tidbits for planning your wedding. Some of the things this section includes are southern traditions, a rehearsal dinner guide, registry tips and a list of sources that the ladies from Southern Weddings highly recommend checking out.

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Hands down, we believe this is a must have for every bride! Whether you are a bride who stumbled upon this post, mother-of-the-bride, or know someone getting married, we highly suggest checking out the Southern Weddings Planner and all the fun things the ladies of Southern Weddings have going on. We started the Louisiana Wedding blog to help Lake Area brides plan their weddings and build beautiful marriages, and we believe that Southern Weddings is doing that for couples all over the south as well!

If you would like to find out more about the Southern Weddings Planner (or purchase one for yourself, or a bride you know and love) you can do so here.

The links in this post have been updated to affiliate links.

Image by Tademy Photography - www.tademydandp.com
Image by Tademy Photography – www.tademydandp.com

What do you think of the Southern Weddings Planner? Do you want one for planning your own wedding? Do you have one already – what do you think? We can’t wait to hear how the Southern Weddings Planner has helped you!

I am going to be honest and say we have been having a lot of mini dates this month as we just got back from Washington D.C. a few days back and my husband prepares for another business trip. Most of our dates have been visiting local restaurants that we haven’t eaten at before, which has been both delicious and fun! But this date night takes the cake! It was a totally different experience to work together to prepare our meal.

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The Culinary Date
Here is a quick run down of the Culinary Date….
If you are both foodies, you likely won’t need much prompting to give the Culinary Date a shot. If, however, one of you is a stranger to the kitchen, you may be a little reluctant. In that case, whoever is more experienced may need to serve  as a mentor of sorts to the other. As long as that mentoring is given and received with a good attitude, you shouldn’t have a problem. You’ll find that cooking together involves no small amount of cooperation and teamwork. The Culinary Date should give you a pretty good idea of how well the two of you work together. (“Set The Scene” excerpt from 52 Uncommon Dates by Randy Southern, pg. 113)

Before your Culinary Date, spend some time in prayer together. Thank God for the abundance of His blessings. Thank Him for supplying your needs every day and ask Him to help you maintain a spirit of gratitude for what you’ve been given, ask Him to bless and watch over those who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and that He bless your efforts to work as a team – during the Culinary Date and beyond. (“Take It To God” excerpt from 52 Uncommon Dates by Randy Southern, pg. 116)

You can take your Culinary Date in one of a couple different directions. The first option is to prepare and enjoy a meal together. Obviously, the meal should require a little more effort than opening a jar of tomato sauce and a box of angel hair pasta. Beyond that, though, you can decide how complicated or time intensive you want your meal preparation to be. After you’ve decided on a menu lineup – appetizers, main dish, side dishes, and dessert – come up with a plan of attack. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Do the shopping together – there are no solo ventures where this meal is concerned. Every step along the way should be taken together.

2. Work as a team until the job is done. This is not a place for the more kitchen-savvy of the two of you to do all the substantial work while the other person is relegated to table-setting duty.

3. Do the cleanup work together. Remember, the date doesn’t end when the food is consumed. Cleanup time is a great time for conversation. If you are married, how would your household change if you started doing daily tasks together? Other questions you can discuss might be: What qualities did God see in us when He decided that we would make a good team? What are some of the challenges we face when it comes to working together?

Option two is to enroll in a one-day cooking class together.  The Get Your Kitchen in Shape healthier cooking class hosted by the Nutrition and Food Science Program at McNeese State University is offered two classes this month (July 11 and 18 from 5:30-8:30 pm). But keep an eye out for more classes coming up here.
(“Make It Happen” excerpt from 52 Uncommon Dates by Randy Southern, pg. 114-115)

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Our first stop was the grocery store. A tip I highly suggest, is bringing your recipe along with you so you make sure you do not miss anything. We decided to cook vegan lasagna, which is something I have cooked before for our family but I have never had my husband help me.  Even though I have cooked this recipe a few times before, I needed the recipe along with me to make sure I didn’t overlook simple ingredients that we were just out of (which has happened too many times to count!)

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We started off preheating the oven, prepping the ingredients for the lasagna and making the salad. One of the reasons I chose this dish is, although I have cooked it many times before, it is quite a process – especially when I make it with fresh ingredients instead of frozen. (I am a mom of two little ones, so I have figured out  how to shorten the cooking time of our meals!) Our game plan was to assign jobs according to our strengths. My husband makes salad for us every other day, so he made us a beautiful (and delicious) salad. I got the veggies cut and started assembling the ingredients in their appropriate layers. Then, a special treat – my husband steamed the veggies, which is something I never take the time to do but really made a difference in the finished product! Another star of our meal was the Abita Root Beer. When we were in Washington D.C. last week we tried a homemade root beer from a local restaurant there (Capitol City Brewing Company – delish!), and when my husband saw this Louisiana made version at our local grocery store he had to give it a go!

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The meat and potatoes…if you will. As I mentioned, this date was definitely a fun experience for us! We rarely cook together, and even more rarely are we cooking as a team. It is nice to have an opportunity to work together and produce a delicious finished product. To be honest, this was the most delicious vegan lasagna made in our house hold to date and I think that has a lot to do with the fun experience we had. One of the definite bonuses of cooking with my husband was he made sure all of the dishes were washed as we were cooking. It is such a relief to eat your meal and look at an empty sink when you finish! It is always nice for my husband to see how much work goes into cooking a detailed meal like this one. Both of these things, help us appreciate one another so much more and this time we got to spend working together.

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So my dad loved to cook. He loved to watch cooking shows and experimenting in the kitchen on his days off. One of the number one things my dad taught me about cooking was to follow the recipe 100% the first time you cook a dish (how else will you know what you like and what you don’t??) After that you can can tweak the recipe and change it to suit your own tastes. That is exactly what I have done with this vegan lasagna recipe. Over the two years or so of me cooking it, I have tweaked it to suit my families taste. So for this post, I will share both the original recipe and our personal tweaks!

[kindred-recipe id=”1496″ title=”Raise-the-Roof Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna”]

If you tried the Culinary Date (or would you like to) let us know what you ended up making and how it turned out! Does this recipe look like something you would like to try and make for yourself, or your family? We look forward to reading your comments and checking out your favorite recipes!

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