An intimate dinner party in a glamorous Chicago apartment was the perfect night out for bride Nancy before her destination wedding in Cancun. The bride’s girlfriends—and one close guy friend—hosted her Chicago bachelorette party at DL Loft, a stylish apartment event space in the heart of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood decked out in Parisian chic decor, including twinkling chandeliers and fluffy white throws. The guests arrived early to have their hair and makeup done, and then enjoyed delicious appetizers and dinner prepared by a private chef. The friends shared old stories and their favorite memories of the bride over flutes of champagne, while Angela Garbot Photography captured a few snaps.
For this tropical bachelorette bash, the ladies headed to Wekiva Island, a riverside oasis just outside of Orlando, Florida. With kayak rentals, private cabanas, a sandy beach and a waterfront bar, this location is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with your girlfriends. Heart and Arrow Event Planning decorated this cabana with pineapples and flamingos and served the ladies refreshing watermelon popsicles and pineapple mango salsa. We love the laid-back vibe of this tropical beach party and the gorgeous moments captured by Tara Libby Photography.
The first week in August, I traveled to North Carolina for my friend Jae’s wedding. Jae got engaged in April and pulled off an amazing wedding in only four months (and on a budget too)! Now, she has specifically asked me to clarify that a four-month engagement does not mean the bride is pregnant!! Since both she and her now-husband Jason are teachers, she really wanted to get married during summer vacation when she would have a lot of time to devote to planning and could just enjoy the event. And waiting over a year just didn’t seem right for her. Planning a wedding in four months seemed impossible to me, but Jae absolutely made it look easy. I was blown away with how easily she pulled everything together. But I shouldn’t have been—Jae is like the most organized, proactive person in the universe. Her wedding was beautiful and everything came together perfectly.
But Jae’s short engagement did mean that we didn’t have time to dedicate a full weekend to bachelorette festivities…so we decided to pack everything into her wedding weekend! That meant a bachelorette on Saturday, a bridal shower on Sunday, and the wedding on Monday! (One of Jae’s pro tips for getting married on a budget: Have a Monday or Friday wedding!) At first I was nervous about trying to do so much in one weekend. Honestly, I was worried that I would be totally burned out by the wedding reception. But it turned out to be fantastic! I think the key was that each of our events had a very different energy: we had relaxing spa time, a high-energy bachelorette night, a classy tea party. All of the events were so different and I thought we had the perfect balance of relaxing, socializing and fun!
I started the weekend with a plane delay that made me about an hour late for our bachelorette spa day. I have to give credit to the amazing team at Balance Day Spa in Greensboro. I had basically missed my massage time slot, but they were able to move some of their appointments around to make sure I got a 30-minute massage. And after a rough morning of air travel, I SO needed it! The spa is lovely and relaxing, with a peaceful lounge area in the women’s locker room where we set up a mimosa bar and other refreshments. After our massages and manicures, Jae surprised us with thoughtful bridesmaid gift bags. Each bag included a monogrammed silk robe to wear on the morning of the wedding, monogrammed clutches and (my favorite) a personalized framed memento of our friendship, in which she shared some of her favorite memories with each of us. The gifts were so thoughtful—there were definitely a few tears shed!
Afterward, we headed to dinner in downtown Greensboro at Liberty Oak, then back to the hotel for a bachelorette slumber party. Jae wanted a low-key night with her girlfriends with lots of laughing. We tried to incorporate a lot of Jae’s favorite things into the weekend—for instance, Harry Potter and FRIENDS. For her bachelorette favors, I found these awesome House Bride Harry Potter themed tank tops. Not only did they look great, they were also super comfortable—and the seller even rushed the order to get them to me on time. They were perfect. We started up a marathon of FRIENDS wedding episodes (half of the wedding party can quote FRIENDS on command) and played a few bachelorette games, including the fiance quiz, a bridal mad lib and a wedding version of 5 Second Rule (stay tuned for more on that).
The next morning, we hosted a tea party shower in the lobby of the O.Henry Hotel, which was also the venue for Jae’s wedding and where we were all staying. I cannot compliment this hotel enough. The service was superb. The night before, I must have called the front desk 10 times for different things—could we have a DVD player brought up, could we have a wine opener, oh no one of us is locked out of our room, oh no we can’t figure out how to make the DVD player work! Seriously, if I had any problem, I just called the front desk…and they fixed it for me. They were so generous, thoughtful and helpful. They really made our stay perfect.
For the shower, we served an afternoon tea for Jae’s friends and relatives, and played a “how well do you know the bride” game. Each guest left with a sprinkle party favor with a handmade tag you can download here. We also asked all the guests to bring Jae a recipe on a personalized recipe card and it was so fun to see the different recipes she got. They completely matched the personalities and tastes of the senders, from quinoa salad to ice cream bar cake. (My own contribution was a spice blend I use on everything…and yes, it’s Whole30.)
Channeling Queen Bey, bride Tori and her squad made it their goal to be drunk in love…or just drunk for her bachelorette weekend. The ladies kicked off the drunk in love bachelorette weekend with a Beyonce concert. For their second night, they met up with photographer Katie Burnett in her Edmonton studio for a fun night of glamour and passion. The ladies got their hair and makeup done while enjoying champagne and cupcakes. After their makeovers, Tami of Pure Romance stopped by with racks of lingerie and a few other unmentionables for a “passion party.” The girls ended their session with a sassy photo shoot. Who runs the world? Girls!
Remember when slumber parties were like all you were about? Your Little Mermaid and Lisa Frank sleeping bags would be lined up in the living room with bowls of popcorn and M&Ms scattering around the room. You’d paint each other’s nails and experiment with eye shadow while dishing about your latest crush at school and alternate screaming and laughing hysterically. Why can’t we do that as adults?! Answer: We totally can! This bachelorette slumber party features plenty of champagne, jewel-box donuts for snacking and comfy-cozy robes and slippers for lounging—we just replace the sleeping bags for feather beds at a darling bed and breakfast! No replacement needed for the dishing and laughing!
Photography: Kalyn Mann Photography | Venue: The O’Neil House Bed & Breakfast | Styling: Caitlin Stewart | Makeup: M Kleinman Artistry | Hair: Studio H | Wardrobe: The District Boutique | Calligraphy: Lovely Little Layers | Donuts: Peace, Love & Little Donuts
I recently celebrated my bachelorette weekend in Charleston with my best girls and I am still buzzing with excitement. It was absolutely the perfect bachelorette for me, full of relaxing beach walks, classy specialty cocktails, delicious Southern cuisine, a little bit of dancing and hours talking and laughing with the ladies I love most. You can find my complete list of recommendations for a Charleston bachelorette at the bottom of this post.
I met up with my MOH Meryl and bridesmaid Michele at the Charleston airport Thursday evening and we headed straight to dinner at Leon’s Oyster Shop, a cool, eclectic space downtown that specializes in oysters and fried chicken. After a delicious meal, we made a pit stop at the grocery store to stock up on the essentials—aka copious amounts of wine, an entire watermelon, and breakfast foods—while we waited for the rest of the ladies to arrive. (Side note: We ran into what was clearly a bachelor party on the boy version of our grocery trip, filling one cart with beer and a second with canned chili.) Our home for the weekend was the Wild Dunes resort on the Isle of Palms. Meryl’s aunt and uncle own a three-bedroom beach cottage there and were so, so generous to offer to let us use it. It was absolutely perfect—gorgeously decorated in beach-chic blues and whites and the perfect size for our group. They even had party cups and a stuffed shark to act as our weekend mascot!
Meryl put together adorable Charleston-themed gift bags for all the guests and Michele was almost instantly dubbed art director for the weekend when I found her artfully arranging the items for a photo. And she did an amazing job styling our photos for the rest of the weekend! Personalized cup in the sand? Her idea. Constantly shifting us around to get good light? She was on it. Though assistant art director Lexy is responsible for the sand writing 🙂
Friday morning, after sleeping off way too much wine, the girls made an amazing breakfast at home and we headed out to the beach for a stroll, followed by pool drinks and snacks at the Wild Dunes Grand Pavilion. It was just a little bit too chilly for sunbathing or swimming, but it was still lovely and the perfect time to catch up, which is just one of the best parts of a bachelorette weekend. Fellow bride Jae and I got to compare notes on our upcoming weddings. I’m pretty in awe of her—she planned her wedding in four months whereas I will be coming up on a year of planning! Definitely more to come from her summer wedding soon!
After a very important power nap (what, we’re old!), we started the evening at Poogan’s Porch, which serves modern twists on Southern classics (I had the crab and shrimp linguini because, hi, learned my lesson from wine on night one: carbs needed!). All of Meryl’s restaurant choices and the schedule she planned for the weekend were amazing and spot-on me. This is probably the only vacation I’ve ever taken in my life where I haven’t planned one thing, Yelped one restaurant or pulled up Google Maps once in a fit of “where the heck do we go next.” It was heaven! Next, we had drinks on the roof of the Vendue and then headed to Trio for some dancing, where the DJ was spinning 90s jams as if he knew we’d be there (plus, JT’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” because I’m obsessed right now).
Saturday was my bridal shower brunch, and beforehand my friends planned a scavenger hunt for me in our beach house. Each clue was written by my bridesmaid Amanda, who is the queen of cute poetry and emoji usage—she created the poems for our popular wine basket shower gift. The clues led me to the shower gifts, which were all travel-themed, referencing places Andrew and I have visited together. The last clue led to my shower, hosted by my amazingly generous friend Nichole, in the back garden of Eli’s Table in Charleston, where we enjoyed a hearty brunch and some much-needed mimosas in the Charleston sunshine. I was so touched by the thought that everyone put into the shower—it was so personalized to Andrew and I and resulted in me making many silly faces while opening my gifts!
After our outdoor brunch, we were in need of a little AC time. Luckily, Nichole had wisely made a midday reservation at The Gin Joint. Because what’s the best thing to do after you finish two pitchers of mimosas? Have a specialty cocktail, duh! The Gin Joint makes cocktails for you based on a selection of words on the menu, so I asked for a “fizzy and refreshing” drink and received an awesome combo of gin, muddled strawberries, lime and ginger beer. Maybe one of my favorite spots we stopped in Charleston!
Next, we took a stroll along the waterfront of downtown Charleston and through the historic quarter to get a look at Charleston’s rainbow-colored homes. The city really has so much charm and there’s a gorgeous garden or wrought-iron gate around every corner. To end our weekend, we headed over to nearby Sullivan Island for a dinner of wood-fired pizzas and on-tap cocktails at the Obstinate Daughter. I cannot believe how fast the weekend flew by, and I already miss my girls. But I’m even more excited for my wedding this October!
My Bachelorette Guide to Charleston
Wild Dunes: We were lucky enough to have access to a house, but Wild Dunes has tons of vacation rental properties as well. The beachfront community has tons of pools, a golf course, tennis, dining—it’s a really wonderful home base with a lot of Charleston charm.
Eat & Drink
There are so many amazing restaurants in Charleston—you can hardly go wrong. We loved:
- Modern twists on Southern classics in a historic Charleston home at Poogan’s Porch. Try the shrimp and grits and the fried green tomatoes.
- Brunch in the back garden of Eli’s Table. Their hearty meals and pitchers of mimosas are perfect the day after a night out.
- Fresh oysters and fried chicken at Leon’s Oyster Shop. We loved the eclectic vibe of this joint.
- Wood-fired pizzas at Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island. Try the Old Danger pizza topped with pancetta, mozzarella, a white sauce and a farm egg and one of their cocktails on tap.
- With creative cocktails like The Studmuffin and The Debutante, The Gin Joint makes for a perfect happy hour stop. We especially loved the “bartender’s choice” option.
Thank you a thousand times…
Meryl Dann: COO/Team Captain | Michele Fogel: Art Director | Amanda Leith: Creative Director | Jae Haley: Stylist | Lexy Harrison: Medical Advisor/Asst. Art Director | Nichole “If You Won’t Do It, I Will” Burnap: Chief Instigator
A night in the iconic Madonna Inn has been on my bucket list for awhile, so I’m seriously crushing over this bachelorette weekend. The landmark inn is known for its elaborately themed rooms and kitschy, whimsical decor, with suites decorated in styles ranging from Swiss chalet to African safari (indoor waterfall included). This bride asked each guest to bring an outrageous and colorful dress for a photo shoot by Brandi Lopez Photography on the hotel grounds. Many chose to finally get a second wear out of an old bridesmaid dress or their prom dress, while a few ladies channeled the 80s with thrifted frocks. The Madonna Inn bachelorette weekend included a night out in downtown San Luis Obispo and a Saturday afternoon wine tasting in Paso Robles.