Venue Shopping!

Looking at venues an be an overwhelming process; I get it. It took me around 3 months to research when I finally decided on something. The site that won my heart was a garden.


Here’s to hoping that your venue process will be smooth!

The size of your guests list will impact your venue. Have you decided on your list of guests? Get on it! Once you’ve estimated how many attendees you might have for the big day, it’s time to venue shop. Depending on the size of your guest list, this will narrow down many different ceremony or reception sites. Smaller parties tend to have a more intimate setting with many options, whereas if you have a large party, only a few venues can hold over 200+ (at least in the Bay Area).


Don’t set your heart on a specific date. Many venues only have a few dates available because people book in advance. Your venue may be the one choosing your wedding date! Be flexible.

Other things to think through when choosing your venue.

Do you want your ceremony and reception to be at different locations or all in one? Because MG and I also had a Chinese tea ceremony before our traditional ceremony, we wanted our families to be at one place throughout the day. This also saves money because you’re paying for one place! If you decide on two different places, ask yourself, do you want something indoors or outdoors? Church setting? Garden setting? Barn? Golf course? Winery? Antique reception hall or a conference center (like the Bentley Reserve in San Francisco)? Your style also needs to sync up with your venue. For instance, we wanted something rustic so we looked at barns in the beginning. When we realized barns only hold about 100 people, we had to brainstorm again what else we would like, and we settled on a garden theme. 

Tea Ceremony

Think about venue lighting for photography. Many people forget about this. Sometimes the light can be too harsh. Maybe the ceremony backdrop is directly in the sun. This could give the photographers a challenge. Sometimes sunlight can creep through the trees and make your face splotchy with shade. If it’s indoors, make sure there’s enough lighting. Ask your venue owner if you could see some pictures and Google some images from the venue that you’re looking at. See if you like those pictures before booking the site. The lighting and the scenery on these venues from barn wedding venues cheshire are astounding and Instagram-worthy.


Keep in mind that the venue may look different in different seasons. This is especially true when looking at outdoor sites like those Flagstaff wedding venues. When we looked at venues, it was in the winter. Because it was a garden, it was dull, grey, and everything was brown. We had our wedding in the Spring, and everything had bloomed so it was a totally different scene. Lighting could also change. Try and see the vision! Take a look at our Winter vs. Spring pictures!



First look





Find out if the venue serves food or alcohol. This is especially important if you are on a tight-budget. If the venue serves food, wonderful. I’m sure you can negotiate a reasonable price for the night. If they do not serve food, ask what types of food can be catered. Some venues only work with specific food vendors. If the site does not serve alcohol, you’ll need to also find an alcohol license, which is an additional fee. Fortunately for us, our venue had a buffet. Thankfully we didn’t have to pay per person, and we paid one flat fee for our party.

Ask if there’s a food-prepping room. If you do go the outside catering route, ask if the venue has a food-prep room. This is really important! Think about a catering business having to make so many different platters of food. If there’s a prep room, they are able to put it all together right before serving vs platting and delivering, which could cause the food to get cold or melted.

Wine, specialty cocktails, and open bar? Really important to ask about alcohol options if you have a budget. Open bar is pricey! Other options can be that there are a few specialty cocktails for the night or  you can simply pay for house wine and champagne. If your guests want other drinks, have a cash bar. We only paid for wine, champagne, and beer. Liquor was based on a cash bar. We decided on this because our family doesn’t drink much so an open bar wouldn’t have made sense for us.


Ask if your venue has a coordinator. Most of the time there is a ceremony coordinator and a primary reception contact. These are the people that ensure your wedding is on schedule and things are running smoothly. The ceremony coordinator will be working with your officiant to make sure the wedding party knows what they are doing day-of. The reception contact usually make sure your food is being served to the right people first, cake is cut at the right time, and the lighting/sound is just the way you want it. However, do not confuse your venue coordinators with a day-of coordinator. I highly recommend a day-of coordinator for all the details that you worked so hard on.


I did research on venues at (great resource!). Once I narrowed down how big of a space I needed for the venue, there were only a few pages to choose from (vs in the hundreds). I found Wildwood Acres and made an appointment the following weekend to look at it. When I got there, I immediately loved it. The venue owners were great to work with, and we synced up right away. I knew this would be the place for my tea ceremony, ceremony, and reception.

Tell the venue your budget. Most of the time, they want to work with you. Negotiation is key here. To our surprise, the venue owners worked with us and our large party. We even got a great deal! Work with the venue, and I’m sure they will provide you with the best. Our venue owners even threw in a coffee cart for mochas, cappuccinos, and lattes. They also provided grilled cheese sandwiches as snacks at the end of the night. Both were surprises to us, and our guests loved it!

In the end, if you walk through to doors and you can picture yourself with your gown on (or tux/suit), pick it.

Married people, any advice that you want to include? Share!

Fun Fact: We chose this site because it was different from other weddings that we’ve attended. Truthfully, people forget about weddings since they go to so many in their lifetime. We just wanted people to remember this venue so we chose it. Good tip, decide what you want people to remember and spend your budget accordingly. The best part? This venue had tiered seating for the tables, which means that people could overlook the dance floor.


All wedding pictures by Orange Turtle Photography


It’s summer vacation time! Do you have any travel plans coming up? Cause I do! And I’m going to Europe!

On Friday I’m flying to Austin to attend my baby sister’s graduation. Guess she’s not a baby anymore… I’m so proud that she has gotten into her dream Master’s program at the University of Texas in Houston. \m/

To celebrate, WE’RE GOING TO EUROPE! I’m leaving on Friday to attend her graduation and then we’re going to Rome for our first stop. During our three weeks on vacation, we’re going to Rome, Florence, Venice, Barcelona, Dublin, Paris, and London. Whew… you can catch your breath now!

With summer vacations coming up, I put together a packing list. I’m usually the girl that packs half her closet for a 2 week trip. My thoughts – you want choices and decisions and multiple outfits! 6 pairs of shoes for a 2 week vacation sounds right to me but perhaps crazy to some.


If I could, I would bring this guy ^^^

BUT traveling to so many different countries in Europe means I’ll need to pack light in order to fit one carry on in those small cross-country planes. I’ve put much thought into what I should bring, and I want to share what I’m going to bring. Hopefully this will be super helpful for you if you’re going somewhere this summer too!


1. Stick with the same color scheme!

There’s a reason why neutrals don’t go out of style. If you want a pop of color, bring a scarf. Keep your colors simple and you won’t regret your style decisions 10 years down the line.

2. Bring pieces that will match all items!

One shirt that matches all three bottoms gives you three outfits. One bottom that matches all your tops gives you 5 outfits. Possibilities are endless which means you can pack light.

3. Accessorize to change up from day to night.

Wear a fedora for day time with a dress, and switch the fedora with a chunky necklace for night time with the same dress. It’s as simple as that! Black shorts with a blouse for the day and switch to a clutch and wedges for a night look.

Take a looksee to find what I’ve put together. Links to purchase these items are found below, and they are extremely affordable! My splurges are on shoes, Gema & CO jewelry, and purses. I believe that those are items that should last.

Travel Light

Light anorak from GAP // Chambray cover-up from JCrew Factory // Black blouse from H&M // Lace shell from Piperlime // Short sleeve t-shirt from Target // Vintage V-neck t-shirt from Target // White tank from Target // Jacquard Mini from Zara // Black shorts from H&M // Skinnies from H&M // Striped dress from Nordstrom // Khaki dress from H&M // Swimsuit from Target // Floral scarf from Target // Hat from H&M // Aviators from Zappos // Necklace from Madewell // Statement necklace from JCrew // Braided belt from JCPenney // Clutch from Asos // Crossbody from Madewell // Converse from Nordstrom // Cole Haan wedges from Zappos // Salt Water sandals from ModCloth

Bringing less also means shopping more! What do you think of my collection? Do you have any advice on how to travel light?

While I’m on vacation, I’ll be taking a hiatus from this blog for a bit. I’ll post pictures of my trip when I come back!

Becoming practical cause I’m old,

Baking Tip – Flour the Pan

Now that we’re getting into the Fall season, there will be a lot of baking involved! If you rarely bake, I challenge you to make some goodies this season. Your friends, family, and coworkers will love it. They get sweets, and you get compliments. Win, win situation!

Did you ever notice that sometimes when you grease the pan, it can still be difficult to get your baked good out? It’s so annoying, and the bottom of your cake looks so ugly! Here’s a tip that I learned from a good friend.

I use a bit of oil, spread it around, and then sprinkle some flour. A little bit of flour goes a long way. It helps the baked good come off the pan easily. Give it a try!

Oil and sprinkle flourGrease the pan and sprinkle flour so your baked good comes off clean and easy! 

It works great for cakes, bunt cakes, and breads.

Clean pan
I just flipped my chocolate cake upside down. Look how clean it comes off!

Have you heard about this before? What kinds of things do you do to get a clean baked pan?

Get to baking those yummy treats!