DIY OUTDOOR GRILLIN’ WEDDING | Only a cookie bar + chalkboards + succulents dressed as cupcakes can help me and Bambino recover from last night’s Bachelorette.

Sigh.  Happy late afternoon, lovers…

What is it like 4pm EST?  Yeeesh.  Ahh, my Bachelorette recaps… they seem to take allll freakin’ day to write.  That’s right; I said “Bachelorette recap.”  The one I WASN’T going to write… remember?  Yeah, because it’s also the one a bazillion of you told me I HAVE TO write.  So, since it is impossible for me to disappoint… here it is, your recap, masters.  I hope you enjoy!

It always feels like I haven’t seen any previous episodes whenever a new Bachelorette episode starts, which is not very per-fact when you’re trying to write a comprehensive recap.  I’m always like, wait, where’s that other guy?  Who’s this guy she’s with right now?  And I’ve realized that it’s because I zone out right around the opening credits because it’s so, so bad.  Further evidence of this is how I’m constantly rewinding a scene – which Honey LOATHES and he actually ends up recapping scenes verbally for me so that I can recap them without watching them over again and burning even deeper holes into his retinas ever more.  Personally, these episodes make me want to donate my eyes to science, except before I pass away.  Like, last night around 7:59pm would have been per-fact, for example.

By the way, these guys need to stop saying “I don’t want to be alone forever” when they exit the show.  It’s getting on my nerves and an effortful reigning in of the emotions is in order here.  Also, thank goodness for that dog who took a leak on Ashley and Benstantine’s love lantern in that end-of-the-show-blooper.  Because otherwise, I might have felt like I had just wasted two hours of my life!  Oh wait. :|

Ok, here’s how we’re gonna do this… Honey and I like to play this car game whenever we go on road trips; it might be a little childish, but very fun and I’m actually convinced it’s helping our brains stay young so I’ll be starting it up when we’re in rocking chairs on our front porch in our 90s.  It starts with one person saying “I went on a picnic and I brought…” and then you say something you brought.  And then the next person repeats what the other said, but adds a new *thing* to the mix.  And so on and so on.  Anyway here’s what I think Ashley’s game would turn out like after about 15 minutes…

ASHLEY: I went on a picnic and I brought none of the guys who actually liked me, a complete lack of emotional intelligence, Bentley, Bentley’s family, tears, water heaters, no knowledge on how to work them because of this next one I’m about to say, a lack of interest in things people I’m letting go from the show say to me, wedding-themed dates like a wedding-pictures-group-date because it’ll be so fun and the guys will love it, all the sheer tops I could find with the wardrobe budget ABC allowed me, no bras because I ran out of money with the sheer tops, a lot of backless outfits to make sense of not having bras, a gift for Bentley’s daughter (with the last few dollars I set aside and on purpose didn’t use on bras), sadness, the sentences “are you happy/are you having fun with me?”, my purple crying comforter for when they say “no,” neediness, Emily’s high shoes (borrowed from Jessica Simpson), an extreme, crippling fear of being alone, inappropriate reactions to sentences that would seem easily understood by eight year olds, insecurity, self pity, dot dot dot.

And another thing, the only good thing about that wedding pictures date Ashely took JP, Ames and that other guy who wasn’t enough of a caricature of himself for me to remember his name, is the fact that it gave me something to write about in this sentence that’s actually relevant to this blog.  High kick, woot!  Ok that’s all I’m actually going to say about it.  Other than that, WTF is up with these overly marriage-focused dates she’s holding.  WTF.  She thinks they’re fun.  Why does she think that?  I have NFI.  I would love to know, honestly, how a “woman” (I quote woman because it’s hard for me to swallow that she’s a day over 13, but I digress) could think that dates with marriage themes where you play dress up like 4 year olds would be fun for men who are not Ames, and how crazy outfits – oh wait SPEAKING OF CRAZY OUTFITS — AGAIN, they humiliate Ames by dressing him in enough bling to decorate the entire Kardashian family’s blackberries AND landline phones.  Really, ABC.  It’s verging on a hate crime at this point.  And I do not use that phrase lightly, so I’m seriously not joking there.  It’s weirding me out how often they dress Ames in various bits and pieces of ridiculousness (whether or not they may be from his own closet).  Someone should look into that.

Want evidence that Ames isn’t a ridiculous full time?  Here you go – this is Bree Driscoll (not me) of NY1 with the man, the myth:

See?  Totally normal dressing guy.  Stylish, even.  Explain yourselves, ABC.

By the way, I love how Ames summed up his confused affection for Ashley:

I could not have possibly hoped for somebody as well rounded as you.“  Yeah, that sounds like Ames.  Like I said, life is a college application for this man; I dated a guy like this, remember?  Life is about accomplishments.  And hiding your truth, apparently.

Now, my FAVORITE worst part of the show last night – before I wrap up and do something out of the norm for these recaps because I’m really, really sick of talking about it – is when JP said this during his wedding pictures group date:

It’s been absolutely terrible.  I was not in a good mood today, yesterday, didn’t wanna talk and didn’t know what was going on.  And all I had was time to think about things… and, and it… it made me crazy.

Ashley: “Like… a bad crazy?

When Ash – I feel I can call her that now – responded with that, Honey said, out loud, “pssshh.  IDIOT.”  Because SERIOUSLY.  I’m laughing writing this sentence; how could Ash not realize that it was a bad crazy JP was describing?  No seriously, I’m asking.  Because JP’s words are achingly clear of the crazy he’s talking about being a horrific, painful crazy.  AMIRITE?  SIIIIIIGH.

Ok, since there are so many other things I wanted to address, but am so goshdarn SICK of writing about it, I’m glad tweeps had enough hilarious and/or poignant things to say on Twitter last night so I can wrap this thing up right.  OK, the tweets, here we go:

  • @CleverTitleTK: I think ABC needs to get Josh Groban to serenade these dates. EXCEPT IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE BECAUSE HE’S BEN AND CONSTANTINE #bachelorette
  • @AbbyDraper: #bachelorette time. Prediction: Ashley cries and asks 3 guys why they’re interested in her.
  • maryeliz84: bachelors be sure(whoever is chosen) you will have to reassure this girl daily for the REST of your life #insecuritiestothemax #bachelorette
  • @AngiexR: Emily is in tears now, but she’s talking to ABC about being the next #bachelorette… obviously she doesn’t care about the relationship.
  • @CommuniquePRNYC: Tabloids: Please find some of Ashley’s ex-boyfriends so we can determine if she was always pathetic or its just a TV thing.
  • @MarissajustMay: Annnnnd Ryan is back to describing his love as bursting from his chest. Care Bare STARE!!!! #bachelorette
  • @jenniferweiner: “Will he look cute in wedding pictures” is a very important question to ask before making a lifelong commitment. #notreally #bachelorette
  • @andilavs: The #bachelorette totally f*cks with my dude dating expectations. Like why doesn’t he do the hug/pick me up every time we see each other?
  • @AnalyzingAleece: Lucas is always so salty. I’m glad he left. Good choice, Ash. #Bachelorette

(… Sorry, I felt I had to put a positive one in there.)


FINALLY, I get to start in on today’s wedding, you guys!!!!!  HURRAH!  ‘Cause it’s a good one.  My girl Emily Heizer, of (aptly named) Emily Heizer Photography submitted today’s wedding and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been excited to blog one of her creations for a while now.  So I’m gonna stop talking and let you soak it up, NOW-style.  Ya dig?  Ok HERE WE GO!!!!

Here’s a quick bit on the special details from Emily, their photographer:

They used streamers instead of bubbles or confetti at the ceremony, and then people danced with them at the reception too, so fun.  They also had a cookie bar, cookies and milk, with the milk in tiny little containers for dessert at the reception.  All of the signage was drawn freehand by one of the bridesmaids, including a huge picture of cookie monster at the cookie bar.  They also used succulents extensively for florals and decoration.  They were put on the tables, and on accent tables in tiny pots as gifts, used in the boutonnieres, and within the girls’ bouquets.

↑ AAAAHHH!  That!  I love that!!!

Up next we have the detailed rundown from our beautiful bride, Melissa:

When Harley and I began the wedding planning process we knew right away that we wanted an event that was comfortable and casual, because that is who we are.  We wanted to include friends and family in our day as much as possible.  We were really hoping to create a sense of family and community for our day.  With that (and our budget) in mind we called in all favors!

We were beyond fortunate to use a friends Yountville, California vineyard property.  Our friends from Frida’s Mexican Grill put on a great show grilling fajitas onsite for dinner.  My regular stylist, Shaina Cook, came to help beautify me for my big day.  I dug up cast off succulents from a friend’s yard that our friend and florist Sal from Floral Expressions, used in my bouquet and in the guy’s boutonnieres. The list of favors is too long to share completely, but all contributors know who they are.  We honestly could not have pulled off the big day without the help of manual labor from our family.

Our photographer, Emily Heizer can attest to the fun that we had with our first look.  I am now such a huge advocate for this trend.  Harley was waiting for me out in the woods with his back turned.  When I arrived and he turned to see me it was truly a magical moment.  We both shed a tear or two and marveled at how the day had come together.  After our touching moment we decided that a little dance practice was in order.  Harley had been insisting that he wanted to dip me during our first dance.  I decided that if he were that serious about it we ought to test things out ahead of the crowd.  He came close, put his arms around me, I remember leaning back into his embrace and then…he dropped me, flat on my dolled up behind.  I was shocked and I had twigs in my hair!  Emily caught the entire sequence on film.  I’m still not sure if that is a blessing or a curse.  I’d like to think that I handled the fall with grace, but I am certain that my hubby- to-be received a befuddled look.  Thankfully this little nugget was one of few hitches that we encountered throughout our day.

Our ceremony was truly one of my favorite parts of the day.  I was so nervous before walking down the aisle and my nerves were squelched when I reached Harley.  My Uncle Marc married us and did such a fabulous job at it.  We worked hard ahead of time choosing just the right wording to make the moment meaningful.   We exchanged vows under a gorgeous old oak tree surrounded by those that are most dear to us.

I was never one of those girls who had planned my wedding day since childhood, but there was one detail that I knew I absolutely had to incorporate early on, a photo booth!  I had nearly given up on the idea.  The cost was just too prohibitive with our small budget.  That’s when Harley surprised me with Purple Monkey Photo Booth.  He was able to secure this vendor and they were an absolute joy to work with.  All of our family and friends enjoyed this entertainment.  The evidence is proof that some of our friends (we know who you are) are very naughty.

I spent hours on wedding blogs just like  I have many other brides who have wed before me to thank for their fantastic DIY ideas.  Using this inspirations I was able to piece together a day that was both beautiful and affordable.  It also helps to have an ace in your back pocket.  My bridesmaid and cousin, Rebecca, helped us by creating fun and clever chalkboards that we used throughout our venue and a dear friend, Katie helped us to design a logo that we replicated throughout our event.

I have to say that for all of the DIY’ers out there, please, for your own sanity find yourself a wedding coordinator that can assist you with all of the wedding day set up.  I thought that I had this covered with family and friends all lending an invaluable hand, but as I go back to pictures I see that there were details missed.  The singular thing that I would do differently given the opportunity would be to secure this vendor for the day of the event.

I had an absolutely amazing day that I would not change for the world.  I can only wish other knotty brides the same good fortune as they plan and execute their weddings.


Ahhhhh.  Love it.  So much.  Family togetherness is THE SHIZ.

Ok, so since this is such an epically long post, I’m slapping a single pic of Bambino McPuppyPants in your collective faces, maximum-adorableness-style.  This happens to be my favorite photo of him.  He’s relaxing on his day pillow at my feet:

Sorry; I hope you guys are ok with just one pic of him today.  I didn’t want to go overboard on the length.  Well, any more than I already did, anyhow.  Bleh.

So, thoughts?  Reactions?  Have at it, let’s discuss.  I’m game for Bach and/or wedding talk, because yes, I have endless opinions and things to say.

xoxo!  – Alison

Photography: Emily Heizer Photography / Flowers: Floral Expressions / Food: Freda’s Mexican Grill / Rentals: Classic Party Rentals / Photo Booth: Purple Monkey Photo Booth / Hair: Shaina Cook, Shine Salon / Make-up: Lacey Oneseti, Pure Skin Spa / DJ: Napa Valley Media / Officiant: Marc DeMatteo, Bride’s Uncle / Cake: Ethan Howard, Pastry Chef / Transportation: Napa Valley Tours and Transportation / Chalkboard Art: Rebecca DeMatteo / Cookies: Cindy Haberman, Brides Mother and Savannah’s Candy Kitchen / Guy’s Suits: Williamson and Company / Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal / Brides Dress: Mori Lee / Brides Shoes: Pink Paradox / Bride and Grooms Rings: Spinelle Fine Jewelry

Label(s): Blue, Color, Purple, {Real Weddings}

Love all of this...


  1. Jenna on July 12, 2011

    You can just feel the love in this wedding, from the details to the people in the photos. It’s making me a bit misty eyed.
    Also love the Sopranos/HBO style family shot. Bad ass!

  2. Shannon on July 12, 2011

    I’m having Bambino withdrawls with only one pic ;) haha j/k. Beautiful and fun wedding!

  3. Loe on July 12, 2011

    I looooove the DIYness of this wedding- it gives me hope that a DIY wedding it REALLY totes possible (as thats what I’m doing).

    Also your blog makes me want succulents in my office. SO BADLY. (and i loves the Bambino).

  4. Alison on July 12, 2011

    Jenna – lol, that IS Sopranos-ey!! Nice catch. And I love the love just as much as you do. So great!

    Shannon – Haaaa don’t worry, much more to come tomorrow :)

    Loe – Oh yes, it IS totes possible! For sure! As long as you keep in mind that it’s quite a bit of work, and you’re comfortable with that, it’s TOTALLY POSSIBLE, Loe! Good luck, I’m sure it’ll turn out grand!!!

  5. alicia@Charitywedding on July 12, 2011

    I am loving all of these fresh and lively looking succulents. And clearly the cookie monster is the best addition to a cookie bar sign since ever.

  6. Pam on July 12, 2011

    You are hilarious. I love your recap, dead ON!! That show is really getting out of hand in a bad way.

    And this wedding is absolutely perfect – excuse me, perFACT – in every way. It seems like it was so much fun, and I love the streamers in the fun colors! That’s something I haven’t seen before, which means I LOVE IT. :)

  7. kelly on July 12, 2011

    such a beautiful wedding. and i love that cake, too! mix succulents and wedding cakes and that’s it, you’ve got me where you want me. ;)
    a small note: you were talking about this being possibly your last bachlorette recap ever so i wanted to come back and say NOOOOOOOOOOOO. please don’t stop – where will i get my wedding/B-recap combo posts from if not from you? i’m about to cry. don’t make me cry!

  8. Alison on July 12, 2011

    Alicia – Seriously, a cookie monster chaperoned cookie bar? YES PLEASE!!!!

    Pam – Aww, shucks, thanksies :)

    Kelly – I know!!! Succulents and wedding cakes together make my heart sing :) So lovely.

  9. Lena on July 12, 2011

    Watching the Bachelorette=mind numbing.

    Reading your recaps=the only reason to tune in.

    Thank heavens there’s this gorgeous wedding to take my mind off of Ashley’s faux wedding photos (not even a little creepy, really), her wardrobe department full of backless tops, and Ryan’s uncomfortably sad and generic departure speech. There was no, “I love HER so much”, but “I want so much to love someone”…

    Oh, and I thought you’d appreciate this. I zoned out during Part II and couldn’t figure out how that guy had changed his shirt. Then I realized that I really can’t tell the difference between Constantine and Ben. That’s his name right, California wine maker? Crap, who are they?!?

  10. JenW on July 12, 2011

    I will accept giving up Bachlorette recaps but never quit posting Bambino updates. :)
    And the wedding — beautiful. Loved the photo of the dog chillin on the deck with all the ribbons, and the milk&cookies are an adorable idea!

  11. Rhiannon Nicole {Hey Gorg} on July 12, 2011

    Such a rad wedding!! I love the colours and the cookie bar and actually would love a cookie right now. Or four…just saying!

  12. Alison on July 12, 2011

    Lena – omg Lena. You really do keep giving me more and more reasons to adore you. Stop it. Stop. Enough. Stop that. I heart you, OBVS. *smooch*

    JenW – ok, I promise :) I can totally agree to that little arrangement. Thanks for freeing me of the recaps, MUCH APPRECIATED. I think I got like 6 votes permitting me to end my recap misery, but for every permission, I received a quadrillion ‘don’t stop’s. Siiiigh. We’ll see how this all turns out. :)

    Rhi – me want a cookie, too. :)

  13. Elle on July 13, 2011

    Seriously wanted to huggle Bambino through the computer. (ie hug/cuddle)

    Like seriously… how frackin’ cute.

  14. libby on July 13, 2011

    1. This wedding is so inspiring. So much love. I am dying to make a cookie bar now. I love that idea. The streamers are cute, too.
    2. As awful as it is, I can’t stop watching the bachelorette. Your recaps must continue!
    3. I missed the dog peeing on their love wish because I turned it off when Emily said dot dot dot.

  15. Cookie Monster CHAPERONED cookie bar? LOL OMG brilliant phrasing! I loved shooting this wedding, thank you so much for featuring it! I am just never goig to forgive myself for not having any cookies and milk!!! LOL

  16. The Perfect Palette on July 14, 2011

    Great recap, Alison! I feel like you’re one of my girlfriends, the way you go on and on about the show. These are seriously all of my thoughts.

    I do have a weird crush on Ames though – although you’re totally right, he’s super focused on accomplishments :)

    Anyways, enjoyed reading your rant + disgust for the Bachelorette.

    It was PUR-FACT!


  17. Ilana on September 13, 2011

    Oh Clover milk! That is a really odd comment, but the picture of the milk in the cooler reminds me of my childhood. Grew up on that stuff!

    I ALSO absolutely love the succulents and the cookies. And Bam.



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