Hair/Make-up by jcLuu Makeup Artisan

For my recent wedding I was referred to jcLuu Makeup Artisan for my hair and make-up. Now, I rarely wear make-up or spend more than 10 minutes doing my hair on a normal day, unless of course my mother is yelling at me that I look “so plain”. So when it came time to planning the details of the wedding, hair and make-up never really crossed my mind, but alas, it had to be done. I was referred to jcLuu (aka Jenny) and I made an appointment for a trial. From the moment we began communication she was extremely professional and knowledgeable in her field, and since I knew nothing on the topic she had her work cut out for her. We chose a date for the trial and Jenny directed me to a very handy checklist on her website for me to review before the trial.

On the day of the trial, I had my dress with me so that Jenny could get an idea of the colors I was looking for. My dress was not a traditional white wedding dress, it was a colorful Indian two piece outfit. 4255614562_667f18de5e_b For my hair, I didn’t want a traditional updo, I wanted a more playful and comfortable look. I also didn’t want to have a thousand bobby pins digging into my brain. First, we did a half-up style with long curls for the rest of the hair, but after moving my head around in my top I realized that my hair was getting caught in the beading of my top and pulling the neat curls apart. p1010672

As an alternative, Jenny suggested a side-swept style that still allowed my hair to be down but didn’t get caught on my top. It was perfect! p1010948

Since I don’t normally wear make-up, I wanted to be ambitious and wear a bold pink and blue on my eyes, something out of a magazine, to match my outfit. Jenny did one eye with this bold look before I realized that, although it looked great, it was not for a wedding. She then gave me two looks to choose from, more neutral earthy colors and a light pink and silver.
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Both looked great and were definitely more my style. I decided to go with the light pink so I can still get that “stand-out” affect I wanted. The colors matched my dress perfectly and the make-up didn’t feel heavy or overdone. My skin looked even and all the dark spots on my forehead and chin had disappeared. It was like magic. Jenny used a light pink gloss on my lips which I absolutely loved, maybe more so because it tasted like cake :)
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During the trial, Jenny was very organized and she even had a timer to make sure she stayed on track while still allowing me to change my mind every 5 seconds. She was adamant about making sure I absolutely loved my look and kept encouraging me to speak up when I wanted to change something. I felt very comfortable with her as she took the time to talk to me and explain all of her steps and color choices. She took note of all the products and colors we used as well as the time it took such that on the day of the wedding everything would be perfect.

On the day of the wedding, Jenny arrived promptly at 4:30 a.m. as I needed to be ready by 8:30 a.m. for the formal pictures. She arrived with her make-up assistant since they were doing hair and make-up for me as well as my two sister-in-laws. They were not only on time, organized and ready to go, but they were wide awake, something I definitely was not. It took them not more than 10 minutes to set up their equipment and rearrange the chairs and tables in the hotel room for us to get started. Jenny did the hair and make-up for me and the hair for my two sister-in-laws while her assistant did the make-up for my sister-in-laws. Even with a very strict time schedule, Jenny was patient with with the other two ladies on their suggestions for their own hair and was able to craft updos that looked fantastic. My sister-in-laws were very impressed and extremely happy with the way they looked. 4255642422_5c12af2fbc_b
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I ended up loving my hair and make-up more so than at the trial. I was making changes to my hair at the last minute and Jenny was so accommodating, she truly meant it when she said “I just want you to be absolutely happy with it”. And I was.

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It truly was a pleasure working with Jenny from trial to wedding day. From the first email I could tell she was professional, knowledgeable and genuinely cared about how I looked on my day and that carried through until the moment she left my hotel room on the day of the wedding. I think the best part of the entire day was having people come up to me, or tell my husband, that they literally didn’t even recognize me. People would just stare at me in shock. I loved it! Thanks Jenny!

I’m throwing in a picture of all the lovely ladies!
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Wedding at Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA

On November 21st, Alex and I had wedding #3 at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA. We are finally done getting married! It may seem unnecessary, but it had to be done for various reasons. I felt the need to blog about this particular experience because I found the entire process with the staff at Hawthorne to be absolutely exceptional. For my experience, I have been a guest at several weddings, 3 of them just last year, and have had 3 of my own (to the same person!)

From the first meeting, almost a year ago, I knew that Hawthorne was very experienced as a wedding venue. My correspondence was primarily with Christine Turner who is the Assistant Director of Catering. After securing our date, Christine suggested I read Hawthorne’s Wedding Blog to get ideas and read about other wedding experiences. Even though we had already had two weddings, neither of them were as organized and structured as this one and I could use all the help I could get. The weddings on the blog were so creative and they all looked beautiful. I knew Hawthorne was a great choice. Over the course of the year, we had a total of 4 meetings with them, the initial meeting to set a date, the tasting, the initial details meeting, and the final meeting before the wedding.

In early August we had our dinner tasting and I was told to bring an empty stomach, that couldn’t have been more true. The tasting was essentially a mock wedding where the guests were couples like us who had upcoming weddings. They had several stationed and passed hors d’oeuvres along with a few upgraded items such as warm apple cider, which I ended up getting for my wedding. Also around the room were sample center pieces and napkin folds and each table was set up differently to display different chairs, tablecloths, napkins and centerpieces. Seated at each table with us was a member of the event staff to answer any questions that may come up during the tasting. They offered two samples each of the appetizer, salad, and dessert and the entree had 5 samples along with several sides served buffet style. There was so much food, I could barely try a bite of everything. They were so accommodating with Alex’s lactose intolerance, they gave him a salad without cheese, and a raspberry sorbet for dessert instead of the ice cream they had on the menu. The food was delicious, although I think I enjoyed the hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour more than the actual dinner. I was completely sold on the crab cakes as soon as I tried the first one. After the tasting, we knew exactly how we wanted our reception set up down to the napkin folds, and we were able to confidently choose our meal options.

The next meeting was for the initial preparations. We made our food and drink selections, gave an approximate head count, discussed any personal details we wanted to include and we received our “homework packet” as they called it, which we had to fill out and bring to our last meeting. Christine was very organized and thorough and was able to answer any and all questions we threw at her. She was very patient with our indecisiveness and our lack of knowledge of the process. She also informed us that she would be going on maternity leave a few weeks prior to our wedding and that we would see no interruption in the excellent service we had been given thus far and the transition to her replacement would be seamless. And indeed it was.

At our last meeting, I brought the somewhat completed homework packet along with all of our wedding favors and other items that would be included in the ceremony and reception. We were greeted by Lindsay Otis and Liz Dube who would be taking over the rest of the planning. They knew exactly what we had discussed with Christine and walked through the timeline of the entire day of the wedding with us. Literally, starting from 9 a.m. when our photographer was to arrive straight to 5 p.m. when the reception ended. Every detail of every event (lining up the bridal party, when to walk, where to stand, when to leave, where to go, first dance, cake cutting, bouquet toss) was reviewed, and it only took an hour! Liz continued to tell me that she would be the single point of contact for Alex and I during the entire event. If we needed anything at all we would just need to tell her and she would work with the appropriate people to make it happen. Seriously, Liz should be working for the secret service. Going into this meeting I was extremely stressed out and nervous about the details of the day, after leaving the meeting I was so relaxed I wasn’t worried about a thing. I was amazed.

On the morning of the wedding, Liz gave me a brief rundown for the ceremony and let me know that everything was ready and on schedule. She was smiling, confident and genuinely happy to be helping me on my day and I have to admit, seeing her made me instantly less nervous.

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After the bridal party photos were done, we had a half an hour to go before the ceremony started and no guest had arrived. Like none. 11:00 rolled around and still we had maybe 10 of the 90 guests. Liz was still calm and said it was no problem we could just push back the ceremony. It’s almost like she’s done this before. Finally after 20 minutes of Liz reassuring us that everything will be fine, we were able to start the ceremony. She gathered the bridal party and gave them their instructions, lined everyone up and orchestrated a great beginning to the ceremony. Luckily, our ceremony was super quick (considering that we were already married, we could skip most of the details) so starting 20 minutes late didn’t have much of an effect on cocktail hour.

After the ceremony, Liz instructed the guests to enjoy cocktail hour while the bridal party took some final group photos in a room off to the side which had its own table of hors d’oeuvres and champagne. Meanwhile, the waitstaff brought in trays of the passed hors d’oeuvres and my beloved warm apple cider. The treatment that the bridal party received was fantastic, the waitstaff was extremely accommodating and friendly and would go out of their way to bring us any specific item that we were waiting for (for me it was the apple cider).

After mingling with our guests, pushing the crab cakes on everyone I saw and enjoying 3 glasses of cider, Liz brought the bridal party back to the photo room and instructed the guests to make their way back to the ballroom for the reception.

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We had our introductions, began our first dance and had everyone join in. While most guests opted for the open bar instead, we had a good group out on the dance floor. The reception carried on with Liz always around when we needed her, yet somehow invisible. She’s like a ninja. Dinner was absolutely delicious; better than the tasting. Again, the waitstaff was amazing. They introduced themselves to each table and made sure that everyone was getting what they ordered and even made sure to point out specific ingredients in the food for anyone with allergies.

When I was finally able to relax, mingle, eat, drink and enjoy a cupcake, the dance floor was my new home.

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The reception was everything I could have imagined and we had an absolute blast. I actually, didn’t want it to end. But alas, 5 p.m. rolled around and it was time to clear out. Hawthorne did an amazing job clearing out the ballroom quickly and efficiently since there was another wedding right after mine. They saved the leftover cupcakes, favors and centerpieces and everything was delivered to our suite for us to take home the next day. The suite was beautify set up with chilled champagne and two of our cupcakes for us to enjoy.

Overall, my experience with the Hawthorne Hotel from beginning to end was exceptional. The attention to detail and professionalism was above and beyond what I expected. Christine, Liz and Lindsay did a fantastic job of preparing us, answering our questions, holding our hand when needed and guiding us through the entire process. My brother, who was my default “wedding coordinator” for wedding #2, had such high praise for Liz, we couldn’t have pulled it off without her. So, I just wanted to say thank you to Christine, Liz, Lindsay and the entire staff at Hawthorne for giving us a truly memorable day!

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Ever heard of this site called YouTube?

Yes, I know I’m a bit slow to the game but I finally created my own channel on YouTube. I guess I never really had a reason to have my own channel but lately I’ve been taking a lot more video with my little point and shoot camera. My (sort of) new Panasonic Lumix takes HD video which is pretty sweet. Now I just need to learn how to edit since I tend to film extra stuff that can be a bit boring. Maybe strangers will find some of our antics funny, but in the very least at least my friends will appreciate it. Here is one of my creations:

Go check out my channel for more.


Vegas – What I learned, Part II

I learn a little more each time… when going with a large group of people, limos are the way to go. People told me this but I didn’t believe it until I experienced it for myself. Depending on the amount of people you have, it does come out to the same if not cheaper than taking cabs. It’s best to inform the concierge or doorman of the hotel you are staying at of your plans for the current and following evening. They will be able to get you a limo when you need to be picked up as well as be able to get you on guest lists for various nightclubs you may want to visit. Sadly I learned this too late, but know it for next time. Also, make sure to ask and remember the name of the doorman or person that is helping you, and be sure to tip them, they will be more likely to bend the rules or give you preference over other guests. A little kindness (and money) goes a long way.

This time around we got to go to Mix Lounge at the top of THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. This lounge has 360 degree views of Vegas and one side where you can see down the entire strip. I’m not sure if this lounge is not as popular as the others or if it was an off night, but we were able to find tables to sit at and getting drinks at the bar didn’t take too long. For THEhotel guests the cover is $10 but we got in for free somehow. If you’re staying at THEhotel or Mandalay Bay, it’s definitely worth checking out.

We also hit up O’Sheas again and it was way more fun than last time. We turned a beer pong table into flip cup madness, and 20 games later we won 16-4. I’d like to point out that this was my very first time playing flip cup, and I think I did a pretty good job, nevermind that I spilled half my beer all over myself. Most of the fun was having a great team, and fun opponents.

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