Friday, December 25, 2009

Welcome, newly-engaged brides and grooms!

Congratulations on your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day engagement! Last night, as my husband and I celebrated our second Christmas as marrieds, counting our blessings and fielding many phone calls from family and friends wishing us a joyous day, I was also thinking about you, about the fact that you're just entering the exciting world of wedding-planning, and maybe this is the best holiday ever for you. Three cheers to your groom for a fabulous marriage proposal, and I hope you're waking up this morning beaming over how much fun stuff is ahead of you.

I know that wedding information world has gotten super-crowded and noisy with a ton of wedding sites and blogs, and of course all of the well-meaning suggestions from your own family and friends (and his mom!). And I know that the best, money-saving and stress-busting information you need can get buried by all of those fun quizzes and celebrity wedding stories, thousands of articles about wedding dresses and so on and so on and so on.

Consider me your sister in the wedding business -- I have the insider secrets to planning your wedding day, and I'm also going to make you smile and lighten your mood. I'll help you word that confrontation with your pushy future mom-in-law, jealous bridesmaid, and the groom who thinks he's supposed to just sit back and let you do everything. [It's not his fault...many grooms are just trying to let you have the fun, and they don't realize it's coming across as disinterest.]

You have my 35+ wedding books here to help you plan every element of your day, and -- most importantly -- avoid and handle some of the most common wedding mistakes. Visit my website to get your copies, and also reach me to ask your wedding planning questions.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Give a Bed and Breakfast gift card!

With the holidays speeding toward you, and all of your wedding plans speeding up as well, there might be some holiday shopping you've yet to do. So make it easy -- and give your guests something amazing to look forward to -- with a gift card that allows THEM to pick out WHERE they want to go, and maybe finance some extra treats while they're there! I love this gift for parents, letting them get away for a weekend, and how awesome is it to surprise your groom with a pre-honeymoon or a romantic weekend away, minus wedding talk! Here's your website to check out:! Happy shopping!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Megan McMorris guest blogs about the Bridesmaid Background Check!


By Megan McMorris

When you’re interviewing for a job, you provide references. When you buy a car, they check your credit. So why not dig into a friend’s background to make sure she's wedding-worthy? After all, there's nothing like a wedding to stretch friendships thin, even if you're the furthest thing from a Bridezilla, as my friend Dawn discovered years ago after getting engaged. When Dawn announced her engagement, her (soon-to-be-married) friend had her own news to share: she was dis-inviting Dawn from being a bridsemaid (!). Turns out, the bride-to-be thought that Dawn should have let her hog the spotlight until after the cake was cut. Yes, weddings can sometimes reveal an evil underbelly to those closest to you, when you least expect it. So before decide your wedding party, print out my super-scientific "bridesmaid background test" to make sure those who are standing beside you at the altar really have your back.

*she has friends from childhood: Is it just me, or is there something suspicious about someone who doesn’t retain any friends from years ago? I may be biased, since some of my great pals are those I met when I was five years old (hi, Andy and Diane!), and I don’t expect you to be besties with your entire elementary-school class, but I do think it’s important to have at least one pal who remembers when you wore braces and had sleepovers. I learned this the hard way with a certain Former Friend (F.F.). Let’s just say she made me wonder who any of her pals were before we met in our 30s. Is that a warning bell I hear?

*she isn’t afraid of one-on-ones: Invite her for a hike or Happy Hour? A true friend is one who agrees without having to turn everything into a group event. My F.F. was quick to invite her neighbors, roommates, people she met at the grocery store, stray dogs (okay, I exaggerate), to the point when I’d have to specifically ask “hey, this time I just want it to be the two of us, okay?” To my mind it’s hard to bond in a group of 10, but I’m just crazy like that.

*she doesn’t drop you for a boyfriend: I’ve always been one of them thar women who don’t change my female-friendship ways when I have a boyfriend. So imagine my surprise when F.F. cancelled plans, dropped our conversation when the phone rang, and just generally become one of “those girls” when she had a boyfriend. Ack.

*she’s there to share: When you spill the beans on your life struggles, she relates to you and shares some of her own. Unless she’s like my F.F., whose picture-perfect ways and Stepford Wife lack of emotion made you feel like a walking basket case even if your dramas were pretty average on comparison. A true friend is supposed to make you feel like you’re not alone, not try to one-up you in the game of “how perfect can we get” (ding ding! She wins!)

*she doesn’t pick and choose: The thing that always made me laugh about my F.F. was that she said (again in a Stepford Wife tone) “I like everyone!”. Hmmm, well, if you like everyone, doesn’t that cancel out your friends? I prefer my friends to want to hang out with me because they think I’m funny, cool, interesting or any of the above (just as I’m selective about my pal picks for certain criteria they bring to my life) not just because I happen to have crossed their path on the street. But that’s just how I roll.

Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer and editor Megan McMorris is the editor of P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, and she has many fabulous friends who pass this checklist. And she’s actually just kidding about giving potential friends background checks. Unless you want to, in which case let her know how your friend fared! Visit her book website at and view more of her work at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A rave review in Library Journal!

Library Journal, the authority for all libraries' new book acquisitions, has graced me with a fabulous compliment [I'm doing cartwheels] as well as a fabulous review of my book The Bride's Survival Guide.

See the review here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Crowd-pleasing sangrias

One of the smartest things you can plan for your drink menu -- for at-home parties, showers, rehearsal dinners, wedding-weekend events and other wedding parties -- is a collection of amazing sangrias for your guests to enjoy.

I've included sangria in several of my bestselling wedding budgeting books, and I thought it was about time I showed you where to get the best recipes! One pitcher of sangria is good for 6-8 guests, so there's your formula for how much you'll need.

Find amazing sangria recipes from your favorite Food Network chefs here, and stock up on great sangria cookbooks here.

It's a great idea to add sangria cookbooks -- as well as other cookbooks -- to your bridal registry, since guests LOVE to give these inexpensive, yet practical and much-loved presents to you for your future parties. From white sangrias to rich, red berry-based sangrias, even a hot sangria for those cold winter nights, the recipes are sure to please.

Monday, December 07, 2009

So thrilled to be president of NYC's Wish Upon a Wedding

This is one of the greatest honors of my long career in the wedding industry: I've been asked to serve as President of the New York City chapter of Wish Upon a Wedding!

Wish Upon a Wedding is the ONLY national organization that grants wishes for weddings and civil unions to couples who are facing a life-threatening illness. Since I spent most of the past five years caring for both of my parents during their long battles with blood cancers, and I had my own scary foray in the world of breast cancer with a Stage 0 that had to be lumpectomized and radiated away [I'm fine now!] I know how much it means to those who live in the terrifying world of medical treatments, waiting for test results, undergoing painful and exhausting procedures...and how much it takes out of loved ones and caretakers around them. So my reward for getting through all that in my own life, and since it's my soul's way to provide wonderful things for others, I am beyond thrilled to head up this terrific organization, create my board of advisors and start granting wishes left and right.

If you would like to be involved as a wedding vendor who can help grant wishes to NYC-area couples, contact me at

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mmmmm....Mushroom Risotto from Gorgeously Green

Oh, how I love my Gorgeously Green! Creating a healthier lifestyle is so easy, chic and fun with Sophie's terrific site, and her book is amazing!

Since we're focusing on foodie choices for weddings, I had to share the Mushroom Risotto recipe from the Gorgeously Green Diet -- not only is it perfect for your fall or winter weddings, it can be a fabulous part of your getting-fit-for-the-dress healthy regimen.

Here's the announcement from the Gorgeously Green site:

December is Mega-Giveaway Month at Gorgeously Green. We are giving away dozens of our favorite products that we showcased in 2009. Cosmetics, shoes, clothes, luxury skincare and more, is all for the winning. The giveaway will change every day and a new winner will also be announced daily. Simply visit Gorgeously Green, check out the Daily Giveaway and enter a short comment to WIN! And be sure to tell all your friends...

This is one of my favorite recipes for this time of year from THE GORGEOUSLY GREEN DIET. Mushrooms are in season, so go wild.

Remember when you’re making your holiday gift lists, making-your-own is the Greenest way to go. I’m crazy busy with canning, pickling and making jellies and jam. Despite a couple of mishaps, I’ve pretty much got the hang of it. Now for the fun part: labels and decorating the jars. What gifts are you making this year?

Mushroom Risotto
I love to serve this risotto with a fresh bowl of arugula leaves dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

1 package mixed dried mushrooms or 2 cups of fresh mixed mushrooms (chanterelles, porcini, and shitake are perfect).
About 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups risotto rice
2 wineglasses white wine
1 tbsp butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Put the mushrooms in a measuring glass and cover with 2 cups of hot water. Set aside.

Pour stock into a medium saucepan and heat gently. Keep warm over low heat.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the rice, turn up the heat, and stir until the rice looks translucent. Add the wine and stir until almost evaporated.

Now you are ready to add your first ladle of stock (you never leave a risotto—it needs to be nursed!). Keep stirring as you add more and more stock, waiting until each addition is absorbed until you add the next ladle. After 15 minutes, taste to see if the rice is cooked; if it needs a little more time, add a ladleful of the water that mushrooms have been soaking in. The risotto is cooked when the rice is slightly al dente. Take it off the heat and stir in the mushrooms and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste, spoon into bowls, and top with a generous dusting of cheese.

Serves 4 to 6