July in CHICAGO!

As summer approaches, I wanted to share our visit to Chicago last summer.

When hubby’s cousin announced her 4th of July weekend wedding in the Chicago suburbs, we just knew we had to make a trip of it to see the city! With his college bff as our tour guide, we had a trip with a mix of the best touristy spots and A LOT of food.

Day 1:

First priority was good food. Our destination, Butcher & The Burger. We were all so busy eating that none of us took the obligatory foodie pic, but just trust me on this one..you won’t regret it!

After entering into a food coma, we decided to check into our hotel. We stayed at the Comfort Suites on Michigan Avenue. It was a great fit for us because we were only in the room to change clothes or sleep. The rooms were huge! Included a kitchen and a sitting area. Our room also had a great partial view of the river! Highly recommended!

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Dinner reservations were for Girl & the Goat. Usually am unimpressed by restaurants with such high yelp reviews (am I the only one who finds yelp can be unreliable lately??) but wow..we loved this place! We could not find a dish we didn’t enjoy. The place was packed and we received great service. We would definitely go back on our next trip!

12We were so busy eating, the only pic I have is of the napkin! oops!

Day 2:

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We had a very early start with plans to visit the Field Museum. I am personally not a huge fan of museums but I actually enjoyed this one. Lots of great exhibits! We arrived right when it opened which was the best decision ever. As we were leaving, the museum was packed with families and strollers. (Don’t get me wrong..there’s nothing wrong with families and strollers, but its just not my idea of fun to deal with on vacay.)

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After exploring the museum, we headed to Rick Bayless’s XOCO for lunch. Yum, yum yum!! The food, drink and sweets were all delish!

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Our evening plans included seafood and oysters at Kinmont followed by a laugh filled night at Second City. I’ve never been to a comedy club so I really wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, but I loved their improv! So glad we checked it out!

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Day 3:

After grabbing a dirty chai from Intelligensia, college bff’s gf and I had a spa day with mani/pedis and massages.

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Then we met up the fellas and headed to the Navy Pier for the Architectural Boat Tour. This was another thing I was hesitant about at first, but so glad we went! The tour guides were entertaining and informative. Also some great photo-ops too!

6The skyline from the boat tour

On our last night in the city, our “tour guides” suggested Roka Akor for dinner. This place did not disappoint. Our table of 4 decided to do the Omakase Decadent meal. Basically a meal with 7-8 courses, with the most luxurious and creative dishes possible. From raw tuna to wagyu beef, this meal had it all! Our hearts were hurting just a bit after we saw the bill, but it was probably one of the best meals we ever had.

               

After dinner, we did a quick stop in Millennium Park to see the famous bean. I refused to leave Chicago without seeing it! It was after hours, and after about 5 mins we all (yes there were other tourists with the same brilliant idea too) were bombarded with flashlights and security asking us to leave. I didn’t get the best pics, but I was happy I got one without a ton of people in it.

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We were sad to leave our friends and this fabulous city! Until next time Chicago!

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What are your favorite Chicago spots??

xoxo – Fify

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Christmas In Dubai

In December, hubby and I were able to spend 10 fabulous days in Dubai. This was the trip of a lifetime. From a wooden boat ride along dubai creek to lunch at the luxurious Burj Al Arab we were able to see it all!

We started our journey from Houston with plans to fly to southern india to spend a few days with family and then to Dubai for approximately 10 days. When we arrived at check-in, we decided to splurge and upgraded our seats to Emirates Business Class. This move definitely was a splurge, but it was the best.decision.EVER. It was only for the first leg of our journey, but it was absolutely wonderful.

From the moment we were on the plane, we were greeted with warm towels, mineral water and beverages galore.

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We were served a 3 course meal which included this amazing tuna. (We were so busy eating I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the food. oops.)

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Just look at all the leg room! The seats were SO spacious and they reclined into a twin size bed!

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Okay so enough about the flight, let’s talk about all the fun we had in Dubai.

Day 1:

Our first excursion in Dubai was an abra boat ride along Dubai Creek at sunset. The view was spectacular. I would definitely recommend taking a scarf and a light jacket because the temps were chilly once the sun set.    

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Once the boat ride was done, we spent some time in the famous spice souk. The area is filled with all sorts of shops! Spices, souvenirs even clothing!

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Day 2: The next day was dedicated to seeing Dubai Mall. This mall has EVERYTHING you could imagine.

First on our list was a visit to the indoor aquarium.

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The aquarium is home of the famous King Croc, the largest crocodile in the world. He was HUGE!

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Also The Waterfall

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The reason why most people come to this mall is to visit At The Top. This is the sky deck to the Burj Khalifa. Always purchase tickets in advance to save money.. it gets super pricey to buy them at the entrance.  

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Once you have your tickets, you wait in line to go through security. For us, the line was about 45 mins long. When past security, you take the obligatory tourist picture and wait in another line to board to elevator. At the top (ha, get it?) you have an unlimited amount of time to enjoy the views.

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The views from the sky deck were breathtaking. Once you decide you have seen it all, you exit through the gift shop and are also able to purchase at those obligatory pictures you took before you entered.

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After At The Top, we stopped at the food court for a coffee break. I highly recommend the afogatto from Morelli’s.

Cappucino + Gelato = Heaven.

After our re-charge, we strolled outside to see the Burj Khalifa. Wow..that building was talll!

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You are also able to get a good look at the water where the famous Dubai Fountain show occurs. The fountain show occurs on the hour starting at 6:00pm. After strolling the outside, we went inside to wait for the show. We were back on the promenade at 5:45 and the place was PACKED. We could barely find a place to stand! The fountain show was wonderful (atleast the part I could see), but I would recommend claiming a spot extra early if you want to get a good view.

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 Back inside the mall we went to see the dinosaur..yes..there is an actual dinosaur in the mall.

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At the end of the day, we spent almost 10 hours at the Dubai Mall and probably didn’t see everything.

Day 3

This day was the ultimate splurge as we were able to have lunch at the famous 7 star hotel Burj Al Arab. The only way to see this hotel is by booking a room or having a lunch reservation.

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The Burj Al Arab is shaped as a sail boat, and its neighboring hotel is shaped a wave. Pretty clever!

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The lobby was SO luxurious. The entire hotel was filled with holiday decor!

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    Lunch reservations were at Al Muntaha. The decor, service, food and especially the view were all 5 star. You also have a great view of the famous Palm Island from your table.

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After stuffing ourselves at the Burj Al Arab, we drove to the Madinat Jumeriah.

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Here, we were to got even better views of the Burj Al Arab. We did another abra boat ride and were able to take the spectacular shots below.  This was a great way to see the entire area without having to do a lot of walking. Highly recommended!!

If you look closely you can see a helicopter landing on the heli-pad at the Burj!

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There is also a spot in the Madinat Jumeriah where you can take a pic which a great view of the Burj Al Arab behind you. There is a professional photog waiting there, but you can stand right next to her and take pictures with your own camera. That’s what we did =)

Day 4

You can’t leave Dubai without doing a Desert Safari. I was weary at first because I get ridiculously car sick, but I made it through our ride without any problems.  A driver picked us up from our home and we informed him to take it easy on the drive in the dunes so it was great.

When you arrive you are given ample time to take pictures.

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I wore my Hunter boots to the desert and was SO happy. I was the only one able to climb the dunes and take some awesome pics because my shoes could handle it. If you have the room, I would take some sturdy boots!

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You spend about 20 minutes out on the dunes with a stop to take pictures after.

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You are then taken to an area where you can see camels.  The camels they plan for you to see are contained, but this one happened to be roaming free. (I forced hubby to get real close to get a good pic for me).

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After seeing the camels, we were taken to the camp site. There we were able to ride camels, drink arabic coffee, take pictures with a falcon and also have someone draw mehndi. There was also dinner with a belly dancer show too! When we were ready to leave, our driver dropped us home.

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Day 5:

After getting a glimpse of the Palm Island from the Burj, I knew I wanted to see the Atlantis Resort. Just like the Burj, we made lunch reservations to gain access to the property.

This resort is gorgeous!! We spent hours walking around just admiring it! When you enter you are greeted by this beautiful Chihuly sculpture.

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They also have a HUGE aquarium..and its free!

We enjoyed this one much more than the Dubai Mall aquarium.

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                        Another thing to do is to ride the Atlantis Monorail. This is a cheaper way to enjoy the sights of Dubai. We were able to get some great views of the Dubai Marina and the actual resort.

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The Atlantis is also home to the Gold ATM’s Dubai is known for. If only I could afford to make a withdrawal.. =)

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We also were able to spend some time at the Dubai Creek golf course. Hubby’s uncle is a member there so while he was paying his annual dues, we enjoyed a few mocktails.

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 Even after all this, there is STILL more to see! We did not see the Miracle Garden, Dubai Museum or spend time shopping in the Souks. Oh well, that just means we will have to go back again =)

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Are there any places I missed?? I would love to hear your comments!

-xoxo, Fify

Purple & Teal Wedding – 04.20.13

In April of 2013, I said “I do” to my fabulous hubby. For today’s post, I thought I would share all the wonderful DIY projects we were able to incorporate in our special day. A BIG thank you to our photographers from Khloe Madison Weddings who took the amazing photos below.

First, my “Will You Be My Bridesmaid” Box. I opted to go “indian traditional” and chose sari’s for all my bridesmaid to wear at the wedding. Since all my bridesmaids were so close to me, I wanted to ask them in an extra special way. I decided to use printed boxes to hold the sari’s and then tiered cards to not only ask them, but provide them with the information about the day. The tiers were labeled “Our Day”, “My Girls”, “Your Sari” and “Your Role”.IMG_0793 copy

“Our day” informed them about the wedding date, time and location.

“My Girls” listed all the bridesmaids. The group included high school friends, college friends, a sister in law and future sister in laws, and since they did not all know each other, I thought it was important so they could all meet and greet prior to the big day.

“Your Sari” gave the girls info that I would like them to wear gold/copper shoes and other information about their fabulous ensemble.

“Your Role” let them know how much I appreciate them standing by my side and that I wanted them to enjoy the day as much as I would.

The girls absolutely loved the boxes and I did too!

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  In high school I took a graphic design class..little did I know that I would be using those skills to design my wedding programs! Using photoshop and with the help of a fabulous local printer, I was able to print these beauties.

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The reception menus were another DIY stationery. The reception was a seated lunch with 2 meats so the non-vegetarian guests were not asked for their meal preference prior to the meal. (I highly recommend this as it made seating at the reception A LOT easier) Since the guests did not know the meal, I thought it would be a nice touch to let them know details about the meal.  On the back of the menu, we included a “Thank You” to all the guests.

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We all know that it’s sometimes stressful to be in a bridal party. Our wedding was a morning wedding, so the entire crew was up at 4am the day of to start the makeup and hair process. Since I knew they would be not only exhausted, but probably missing a few essentials, I surprised the entire bridal party (guys and girls) with gable boxes filled with a ton of goodies. The boxes not only included snacks, but lotion, Burt’s Bees, hand sanitizer, oil absorbing sheets, a mini nail file and mints. Guys of course got more “manly” items.

I thought this was a great to show our appreciation and the guys and gals absolutely LOVED them.

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While I can’t take credit for my beautiful bouquet (Thank you Christian!) I can take say that I hand picked the brooches. I just LOVE the idea of brooch bouquets.  From Macy’s to Hobby Lobby and Charming Charlie, I spent a lot of time searching for the perfect brooches. It wasn’t easy but I was SO happy with the results.

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After seeing cardboard card boxes sell for almost $150 online, John and I decided to take on the project of making our own box. This box is 100% custom. We cut the wood, sanded, painted and added all the embellishments. We were SO proud of the final result. It has now become our “family” card box and has been used in 2 other weddings.

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From the chair covers to the blue drinks, I picked EVERY detail of the reception table settings. Our decorator Perfect Touch Linens did a wonderful job having my vision become a reality. When John and I saw the purple vases at Z Gallerie and knew we wanted them for our reception. We ordered EVERY one they had. On top we added Baby’s Breath centerpieces. Then we added charger plates with menu cards as well bling votives on every table. I also made custom table numbers! I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these tables!

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And finally, our cake.. This was something that I was a little worried about when i designed and ordered it, but when I saw it at the wedding, I was so happy. This cake is actually a fake cake! Only the second tier is real. It looks all real doesn’t it?? Our baker did a wonderful job with this. The orchids looked so beautiful and went perfect with our purple and teal decor.

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Our wedding was a wonderful day we shared with our family and friends. I am so happy we were able to use DIY skills to add our special touches our big day!

                                                                                                                                                                               – xoxo, Fify

Vendor Credits:

Wedding Planner – Soiree Bliss

Venue – Bayou City Event Center

Decorator – Perfect Touch Linens

Photographer – Khloe Madison Weddings & Charles Edward (family friend)

Florist – Flowers By Nino

Cake – Le Duc Gourmet Bakery

Chevron Bridal Shower

When my party planning best friend got engaged and told me she didn’t want bridal shower I decided I just had to throw her one! It was extremely difficult to plan this one because she’s the one I usually bounce ideas off of but this time I was on my own. We decided to throw a couples shower so that John could be spoiled too 🙂 The colors were navy blue, mint green and some peach and chevron was the pattern of the hour.
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Instead of a normal guest book, guest signed the matting around a framed picture of the couple.

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Cake Pops

I couldn’t believe what an amazing job my friend and coworker did on the cake pops that were used as party favors. My cousin helped make these cute tags!

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They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach…that was the motto for the food table. The spread included pulled pork sliders, grilled cheese, drunken meatball sliders some veggie sticks displayed in glass vases.

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The groom-to-be loves glass bottled sodas so we made sure there were plenty of those on ice.

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Guests enjoyed their drinks in milk bottles (thanks etsy) with paper straws. Tags were custom made for the occasion – my cousin does amazing work 🙂

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The dessert table included an oreo brownie truffle, chocolate covered strawberries, fruit skewers, oreo truffles

and a donut tower

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We played games, opened gifts and celebrated the soon to be married couple. My best friend who didn’t want a shower had a fabulous time. The moral of this story? Never take no for an answer :p

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                                                                                                                                                                               – Rubina

30th Birthday Party!

In the 7 years I have known my husband, we have never celebrated his birthday. Not one time. If you ask him, he would say he hates celebrating his birthday, doesn’t want a party, and doesn’t want gifts. I know..who doesnt want gifts, right? Well once we got married, I decided I was going to throw him a party any way…to celebrate the big 3-0.

After some brainstorming, I decided the only way to pull it off was to make it a surprise. My husband is a foodie at heart, so I made sure the house was filled with all his culinary favorites.

IMG_5573  The appetizer table had homemade veggie skewers, stuffed mushrooms, pita chips with hummus, olives and indian samosas. In the background I made a large collage of his childhood pictures to display.

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We catered gyros from his favorite greek restaurant, Niko Nikos. The spread included gyro meat, pita bread, falafel, yellow rice and tzatziki sauce. YUM! Now I’m craving gyros!

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The party also featured a fabulous dessert table with gold number balloons and white giant balloons.

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The sweets were a white chocolate raspberry bundt cake, fruit in paper cupcake holders and mini cupcakes from CRAVE cupcakes in Houston.

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The mini CRAVE cupcake toppers were customized to match the navy and black color scheme and were personalized with the number “30” and “Happy Birthday”.

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One of our signature party features: Milk bottles with matching paper straws

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A galvanized metal tub was used for bottled drinks – hubby’s favorite. A drink dispenser was an easy way to serve the famous Irma’s Lemonade.

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The Keurig was a great way to serve coffee for the few guests who wanted it. Olive oil dispensers were used for the cream and sugar. I also made sure the K-cups were Dunkin Donuts (hubby’s favorite coffee).

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Planning this party in secret was EXHAUSTING, but I am so thrilled with how everything came together. From the napkins to the custom cupcake toppers, everything came together perfectly! Now, to start planning for next year…

 -xoxo, Fify

Brunch Time Baby Shower

I’m not really an emotional person, but when my bff told me she was having a baby I definitely got choked up. She’s having a little girl and I couldn’t be more excited. I got right to work.. she had to have a fabulous baby shower!

I decided to host a brunch time affair. There was no specific theme, but the colors of the day were pink and gray with magenta accents. Her newly renovated home was a wonderful venue to display all the fabulous crafts and DIY projects we made to celebrate the mom-to-be and her little one.

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A DIY yarn wreath greeted guests as they entered.

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A onesie guestbook, inspired by this, was a perfect way to leave the mom-to-be and baby messages of love and happy wishes. The tissue garland was another DIY project.

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Tissue Poms Poms, lanterns and DIY glitter letters were used to decorate the mantle and fireplace.

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From the due date to first kick, the Ikea UNG frame was the perfect way to display all of mom’s pregnancy milestones.

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We avoided the typical poopy diaper and guess the baby food games and opted to set up activity stations where guests could enjoy at their leisure. The first game was a onesie cookie decorating contest (inspired by this fabulous baby shower). We made onesie sugar cookies ahead of time and had a variety of sprinkles and icing. Once everyone was done, the parents-to-be picked their favorite.

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The next activity station was baby block decorating (and again, thank you pinterest for showing us this idea!) So sad I didn’t get a picture of the entire table! We used 2 x 2 wood blocks. (Just a helpful hint..buying blocks are EXPENSIVE. To save money, hubby bought a long 2x2x8 from the hardware store and cut them by hand.) The table had a mix of scrapbook paper squares, stickers and markers to decorate.

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Guess Baby’s Stats was one of the other games we played. Since the name was a surprise, everyone had fun trying to guess the baby’s name! A few other games included He Says, She Says: Baby Edition, an All about Baby Quiz where guests answered questions about the parents-to-be, and bingo while the gifts were opened.

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The ladies enjoyed brunch with raspberry yogurt parfaits, chicken salad sandwiches, frittata, nutella berry bruschetta, french toast casserole and donut hole skewers.

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Our favorite part was the pancake cake!

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The drink station include a “Mimosa” station with Mango nectar, grapefruit juice, orange juice and pineapple juice. There was also water and sweet tea, of course! All were served in milk bottles with paper straws.

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I LOVE this dessert table! We enjoyed a 2-tiered nothing bundt cake, fruit cups, flavored popcorn and cake pops! We used striped paper bags from amazon as our popcorn bags.

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As a thank you, all the ladies had a bottle of Gwen Stefani OPI nail polish waiting for them. The pink was  “Hey Baby” and the gold was “Love. Angel. Music. Baby”.

We had so much fun at this shower and I can’t wait to meet this sweet baby girl and spoil her rotten!

At Home Engagement Party

2 years ago this today, hubby and I celebrated our engagement by throwing a fabulous party with our closest family and friends. Traditionally, Indian engagement ceremonies can be large gathering (almost as big as a wedding!!). However, hubby and I opted for an intimate party instead.

We decided the best location would be his parents home. It’s a charming open concept one-story home that  was perfect for this special occasion.

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Chairs were covered with white chair covers and plum satin sashes. This was an extremely cost effective way to transform  plain black chairs into elegant seats for all our guests.

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The fireplace was the focal point for the entire party.

This area was later used as our backdrop for group pictures with the guests.

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We used beautiful aubergine vases from Z-Gallerie to display the large arrangements from a local florist.

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Since it was a brunch time affair, we had a coffee bar for the guests. I used olive oil dispensers for the creams and sugars. (As you can tell from my previous posts, we use these dispensers A LOT.)

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One of our signature details for any party: Bright, colored napkins.

Just mix solid with prints and you have a great way to add pops of color without breaking the bank.

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I come from a family of bakers, so when my cousins brought dessert, they did not disappoint! Check out all the fabulousness! The spread included oreo truffles, chai cupcakes, lemon bars, chocolate covered strawberries, dessert pizza and much more!

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 The lace wrapped labels were used on the dessert table. This was an easy DIY project.

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 All the desserts were displayed on a set of opulent treasures gold cake stands.

Not only were we full of delicious food, but our hearts were full from all the love that was showered on us by our family and friends 🙂

xoxo-  Fify