7 Handy Wedding Guest List Tips for the Perfect Event

August 4, 2020

Ever since that glittering engagement ring made its first appearance, you've been hearing wedding bells in your head. It's easy to daydream about that amazing day on the horizon. Getting through the to-do list that brings you to the big day is another matter.

There are plenty of sources of stress while planning your wedding, and they vary from couple to couple. Making the guest list tends to be one of the top contenders for most people, though.

As you build and refine your list, start with these wedding guest list tips.

1. Start With a Max

First things first: before you jot down a single name, you need to know your maximum. What is the top number of total guests you can have at your wedding?

There are a few ways to do this. Your ceremony venue and reception venue will tell you their maximum numbers but don't take them at face value. That maximum number might come from cramming in guests more closely than you'd like.

Start by creating your ideal layout for each venue. Map out space for the bridal party and all the tables that fit comfortably. This will give you your top number.

Don't forget to take your budget into account, though. Think about how much each guest's food and drinks will cause. You might be able to fit 200 people in your venue but your budget might argue that 150 is better.

2. Divvy Up the Guests

Your wedding is a celebration for those who love you, those who love your fiance, and those who love you both. Before you start making a guest list, you need to know how to divide your numbers.

If you're inviting 200 guests, you might decide that you and your fiance can each have 75 guests, plus 50 guests who are mutual friends.

It doesn't always work to divide it evenly, though. If one of you has a far larger family than the other, you might need to skew the percentages.

Regardless of how it ends up, you need to decide on this from the beginning so it doesn't turn into a fight later.

3. Create Tiered Lists

You might not want to tell your guests this, but it's a good idea to categorize your potential invitees.

Start with a list of must-have guests: close friends and family members who you can't imagine excluding. Next, have a second-tier list of people you'd love to have at your wedding if possible. Finally, have a third-tier list for people you'd like to invite if you have space.

Fill your guest list first with those on your must-have list, then fill the rest with your second-tier list. When guests from your initial list start to RSVP that they can't attend, it frees space for guests from the next tier.

4. Know How to Estimate

There's a difference between the number of people you invite and the number of people who come to your wedding. Estimating your attendees will help you plan more accurately.

There's no singular percentage that is reliable, but there are guidelines. For invitees who live in the same city or area as the wedding, estimate that 85% of them will attend. For out-of-town guests, estimate closer to 40%.

Take those percentages with a grain of salt, though. You know your guests better than anyone, so tweak the percentages based on what you expect.


5. Take a Stance on Kids and Significant Others

As you go through your guest list, you'll probably focus on the adults you want to invite. What about the extra guests that may come along with them, though: kids and "plus ones?"

Make your rules about this early in the process. Some couples love seeing kids at their wedding, while many couples today have kid-free weddings. It may depend on how tight your guest list is.

Consider "plus ones" as well. Do you allow every single person you invite to bring a guest? Or will you limit them to those who are in long-term relationships?

Your rules on these topics could double your guest list, so it's important to decide where you stand from the start.


6. Consider the Atmosphere You Want

Your wedding is your wedding; it's a day for you and your fiance to have the celebration of your lives. You deserve to have the atmosphere that you want on your wedding day.

Take that into account when you're creating your guest list. Do you want a fun, lively atmosphere? If so, consider whether you want to skip guests who tend to be negative or who may add stress to your day.

Perhaps you want your religion to be a cornerstone of the wedding day. If so, you may want to focus the guest list on those who share your faith or, for guests who don't, give them a heads-up about what to expect.

7. Choose Your Seating Chart Wisely

Creating your guest list goes hand-in-hand with developing your seating chart. You want a wedding where guests are seated with people they'll enjoy so everyone is comfortable.

The easiest way to get started is to use a templated wedding seating chart you can customize. This way, it's easy to rearrange and adjust the chart as needed.

Group guests based on who gets along best with who, and who might have the most in common. It's a good idea for you to do the chart for your guests and your fiance to do the chart for their guests. After all, you each know your own guests best.

To avoid creating more work for yourself, though, wait until the RSVPs are in before you create your seating chart. Otherwise, you'll be re-working it every week until you know who's coming and who isn't.


Using the Top Wedding Guest List Tips to Your Advantage

Your guest list can be a stressful part of wedding planning. You're worried about excluding anyone but you also have limits and budgets to maintain.

The wedding guest list tips above can help you create a well-proportioned list with everyone you love, all with as little stress and work as possible. To bring that same effortlessness to your other planning tasks, check out more articles on our blog.

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Meal Planning Monday

August 2, 2020

Meal Planning Monday is taking a different spin this week. I've largely given it up, while still actually meal planning, during this pandemic. 

To be honest, I've grown sick of cooking. I don't want to decide what to eat or cook. 

Slap on top of that the traditional "we moved 10" that I like to gain, and it's time for more than just MPM. I need to get back to being that health nut I was oh so long ago... roughly 21 months ago. 

Pre-pregnancy, although I did great during that last pregnancy. 

Primarily, pre-move. This past year was rough on me, just like when we first moved to New Iberia. The only issue with the New Iberia move was that I got pregnant after gaining my "sad weight" and never got rid of it. Here we are now, two kids, second move, and I got winded going up stairs at work. 

You might be saying to yourself "Emily you're skinny." That I am - ish. 

But 5 months of pandemic and not eating well the past 12 has not been my friend. 

So tomorrow, Monday, we getting back to healthy around here. 

Here's my way too elaborate meal plan: 

It's the brick system from Christmas Abbott, I'm not saying the name of the book because I don't like the name of the book. However I had a friend do this before her wedding (while I was steading gaining baby with Elliot) and she looked incredible. 

So we gonna kick start it with this, then go back into the Faster Way macros I really loved before/during pregnancy. This isn't flexible. It isn't even that exciting. 

I'm having two "cheat" meals a week, dinner out Saturday and then our traditional Trader Joe's Chinese freezer meals. It'll slow things down a bit, but sometimes that "re-feeding" idea from my Keto days works. Jeremy will do better with two meals a week off. I don't really plan to kill the man for his 36th birthday. 

At the moment I'm baking the egg muffins from the book, they're actually a snack, but I'll be adding fruit and calling it a grab and go breakfast. I think I want to grill the turkey burgers, but ole Jeremy needs to do that when he gets home. 

I won't lie to y'all, meal prepping for yourself is one thing... meal prepping for your husband who won't eat all the health nut food happily is another. One of the first arguments we ever had as a married couple was over whole wheat pasta. 

I'm a former gym rat who lived and breathed by that Abs Diet in college. I'll dive into a crunchy health food rabbit hole quick, see also my kombucha habit. (my primary motivation to live healthy is my family's propensity to diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and weight gain) 

Jeremy is naturally thin, he comes from thin people. 

Anyway, I'm rambling and the kids are getting up from naps. I'll update if we died or not next week. 

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Prepping for Virtual School... just in case it happens again.

July 27, 2020

As I've been preparing my own classroom for this upcoming school year that could potentially consist of weeks doing virtual school and weeks in the actual school building something hit me, I need to also have home prepared for just in case my child is in virtual school. 

My plan for the summer was to begin working on Kindergarten things, making sure he was as ready as possible when he began. With Reading/Language not being his favorite subject, my plan for this summer was to hit letters and sounds hard. 

So I organized myself a little three drawer corner of the dining room and plopped a Kindergarten style calendar on top. I even stole my basket I use to drag back and forth from intervention/computer lab in Louisiana. 

Here's a peek at what's inside and what I'm keeping on hand incase we end up in virtual school! 

Magnetic calendar from Target - lists day, month, weather, seasons. 

In my basket: twist up crayons, markers, dry erase markers, a dry erase board and eraser, reward stickers, glue sticks, scissors, permanent markers for me, water color paint, stylus, and pencils. I've also got pencil grips.

Drawer #1: Small treasure box type rewards for days he might need one, My 4 Weeks to Read reading program, a zippy bag of the magnetic parts from my calendar. 

Drawer #2: Bible lesson book, handwriting practice book, clear page protector for dry erase on worksheets (I've got math and handwriting in there now), Fun I Spy activity book, Dry Erase Letters and Numbers practice book, alphabet cards, Summer Brain Quest for his age group. (My plan is to get the Brain Quest workbook for his grade as well as the flash cards when we complete the summer workbook. They actually have a set of flashcards for kids starting at age 2, and I'll be getting it for Elliot on his birthday.) 

Drawer #3: Plain sticker dots for activities (matching letter or numbers), Letter and number puzzles, dry erase board, blank books I found in the Target dollar spot as a reward (he loves illustrating a book), his hand me down Mobi-Go and Leap Pad. The Leap Pad can be used whenever since it's all learning but the Mobi-Go is just games and it used as a reward. 

I've also got paper on hand and I need to restock my construction paper. We also practice on Khan Academy Kids. ABC Mouse, and Duolingo ABC on my iPad, hence the stylus. 

This is all super simple and paired down. I just like keeping everything organized and in one place. As soon begins I'll probably print out worksheets that his teacher uses in virtual school. I also know my reading program isn't the one being used in school, but in the event he is needing extra help I have this on hand to help me teach him. 

I know Louisiana and Alabama are both doing this, but your local PBS stations will be airing lessons. I saw the lineup for Louisiana on Facebook, so surely the Alabama one is floating around somewhere. If PBS is doing this for these states it is very likely others are as well. 

If you have students in other grade levels, just think of having a set of their school supplies on hand. It also wouldn't hurt to have some sort of workbook for each subject they take to help as extra practice. There are also many websites that offer extra practice, trust me your teachers are pulling worksheets from there as well. Teacher stores and Amazon are great resources for finding workbooks. If all else fails... some teacher somewhere taught that lesson and posted it to Youtube or TeacherTube. 

I realize I don't have craft materials in here, I'm just not that mom and recognize it. If you are, go for it. I'm not crafty for a whole host of reasons. 

Anyway, I hoped this help if you are trying to think of how to organize a school work station. You really don't have to have a whole room or area for school work, you can just keep it organized in one space and pull out what you need. Honestly, I might keep this up over the years for homework too. I'll just need to add a pencil sharpener. 
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Why Your Home's Appearance Matters

July 23, 2020

Even if you are not selling your home in the near future, or you are not particularly interested in home design, your house's appearance is incredibly essential for several reasons. This article will cover everything that you need to know about the impact of its appearance and how you may be able to improve this.

Does it increase the selling value of your home?      

Your home's appearance matters on a financial level because a good design can increase the sale value of your home and encourage potential buyers to put in reasonable offers for it. For instance, buyers will pay more for homes that have the latest appliances, have little repair or maintenance needs, and that have features such as fireplaces and hardwood flooring.

Additionally, it can also allow your home to sell much more quickly than if you avoid freshening up your décor. Although most potential buyers will want to renovate your home anyway, by ensuring that it has excellent décor, you will be able to grab the attention of visitors at viewings, show you home in a good light, and enable buyers to imagine themselves living in your house.

How can it enhance your quality of life?

However, the appearance of your home can not only increase the satisfaction of buyers, but it can also help to improve your quality of life and mental health. If you are living in a well-decorated home, it is likely to have a positive impact on your mood, allowing you to be more productive and to be happy with spending time at home. This is the case if you focus on creating relaxing spaces, with features such as pleasing aromas, bright light, and comfortable sitting areas. Some of the best home features to increase your quality of life include investing in plants and flowers and pinning up treasured photos and memorabilia. You should try to keep your home clean and tidy for the ultimate positive impact on your mental health and your home's appearance.

What are some of the best ways to improve your home's appearance?

One of the best ways to improve your home's appearance is to install new windows from timberwindows-direct.co.uk. Their range of high quality and durable window features will enable you to increase your home's curb appeal with minimal maintenance or upkeep required. You might also consider switching your door for a newer option, as this is one of the first areas of your home that guests interact with.

You should also concentrate on the exterior of your home by curating your garden space. For instance, you should repaint and fix your fencing, varnish your outdoor furniture and decking, and weed your paths and flowerbeds to ensure that these can stay neat and professional. You might also consider adding outdoor furniture to your garden or landscaping features, such as fountains or ponds. Other popular options include installing window boxes, creating a path up to your front door, and painting your home's exterior walls.

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Our Trader Joe's Bi-Monthly Haul Must Haves!

July 22, 2020

In the past year of moving, now juggling a toddler on top of our big boy, and the biggest time thing that I saw coming but you don't know until you are there... full time ministry. 

I've had to learn to reorganize my time, or better plan it out. And y'all know I'm a loon when it comes to planning anyway. On Wednesday and Sunday nights when I am on my own with the kids I need something easy, generally Wednesday is leftovers to make it super easy. 

But Sunday night is the night I live for... Trader Joe's freezer meals. 

We are fortunate enough to live close enough to a Trader Joe's to justify making this haul now. In the past I just grabbed a fun item or two when we would be in Baton Rouge. 

Let me tell y'all why I love their freezer meals though, they are by far the best quality and taste I've had from any grocery freezer meal. 

I just can't deal with hum drum tolerable, otherwise I'll just tough it out and actually cook. But Trader Joe's, especially their Asian style freezer items are on par with our favorite Chinese takeout... if not better. 

So let's go down the list of my favorite go-to items, as well as a few fun ones I picked up this month. Since their stock rotates so often the fun items tend to change. 

First up is the Chicken and Pork Gyoza, I buy a bag of stir fry veggies to go with each and serve it with the Island Soyaki Sauce (not pictured because I still had some in the fridge). 

I picked up their premade Acai bowl this time as well, one for each of us, for a night we want something lighter. Jeremy loved the Acai in Brazil last summer so it's always worth a shot to try. 

Two more regulars are the Steak and Stout Pies and Pepperoni Pizza Mac and Cheese Bowl. Both are delicious and not even remotely healthy. But that isn't the theme of Sunday night. The theme is fun and easy take-out-esque food, not macro counting friends. 

I also grabbed two Butter Chicken with Rice & an Aloo Chaat as a side for that. I could eat all of the Indian all of time, but Jeremy isn't so hot on Tikka Masala so I'm often on my own here. 

A friend of ours swears by the Brown Rice Fusilli Pasta and I finally jumped on board... it's every bit of amazing. You can't tell it's gluten free. So I got two bags this time. 

I also grabbed, but I'm not sure you can see it two of their pizza dough bags, pizza sauce, pepperoni, and mozzarella. The plain crust (I also got the garlic herb) was great, this was our dinner this past Sunday night. Harrison loves to make pizza. 

Fun items you see here - Jalapeno Limeade (holy amazing-ness), Everyday seasoning (loving it), Pineapple Carbonated Spring Water (I always treat myself to a flavored bubbly water when there), Dark Chocolate PB cups (a now staple), and Popcorn in a Pickle (best pickle flavored item I've ever had). Oh yeah, the gummy lobsters. They were gummy lobsters... I need sour or something. 

Aww, here's the Mozzarella, pepperoni, and pizza dough! By the way the Trader Joe's Mozzarella is the best shredded mozzarella I've ever purchased. It cost more than I want to spend on the regular (about 4.99) but it actually had taste. Unlike everything I've ever bought from Kraft. 

I grabbed a few kombuchas while there too, we started using Shipt and only get Winn-Dixie and Publix where we live. Y'all they price their kombucha like it has gold in it. So I've been getting it from Sam's Club in a case or pick some up elsewhere if I can. And as a long time Bucha lover can I just point out that I love that this has become more mainstream and I don't have to go to a health food store to buy it. 

Who else remembers the great kombucha crisis of 2010-ish? 

I also grabbed a Vit-C juice shot - fun food category, my allergies have been bad with the trees flowering at the house. 

Also, baby spinach & a shallot because I needed another side this week and I have a great recipe for a warm spinach salad. 

More of the big gun items! 

BBQ Chichen Teriyaki, Mandarin Orange Chicken, Beef & Broccoli, and Kung Pao Chicken - all with a bag of the vegetable fried rice as a side. The Orange Chicken is my FAVORITE! 

I got us each a Bibimbap Bowl too, spicy and yummy. 

Finally a new item (to me) I thought I'd take for a spin - Chicken and Mushroom Pelmeni. It's Russian, we haven't had it, and I'm always up for a good time. 

That brings me to SIXTEEN meals. Plus a side or two and some snacks. 

I spent $145 this time and this will actually get us through 3-4 months of Sunday nights. 

Because of snacks this comes out to about $9 a meal (but isn't really... snacks) and even at that it's cheaper than if we were to order takeout on Sunday nights. Plus I can whip this up quick and everyone is happy. 
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Coping Tips for Long Travel Plans

July 15, 2020

Traveling is an exciting and fun time, no matter the length of the trip, whether it’s a big family getaway or a more intimate couple’s vacation. No matter how exciting, however, that doesn’t mean that travel can’t take its toll, especially when you’re moving from place to place with exhausting itineraries.

To be better prepared, here are some helpful tips for best coping with extensive travel.

Think Carefully About Transport

Whether it’s a plane journey, a hire care, public transport, or all of the above, how you choose to plan your journey is going to make a significant difference to your energy levels and state of mind.

Try to plan your flight for a time that is going to fit in best with your routine, especially if you have young children. It may be wise to book an early morning flight rather than a flight at 2 a.m., for example.

It may also be significantly easier (and less tiring) to hire your own car rather than depend on the schedule of public transport, especially if this will mean many stops and changes.

Remember to Pack Pain Relief Items

Traveling is going to be more difficult if you end up suffering with pain. Even something as simple as a headache can be disruptive and uncomfortable if you’re out on the road without any pain killers, with stores many hours away.

Be sure to pack a small pain relief kit with you for long journeys, with emergency items like pain killers or even cooling relief gel, which may help with sore muscles if you’re planning a lot of physical walking or movement. It’s always better to have everything on hand just in case, even if you don’t use it.

Sleep and Rest is Important

Naturally, you want to make the most out of your trip, which means you might want to spend less time sleeping and more time doing. However, you shouldn’t neglect a good night’s sleep and a chance to rest between demanding activities.

Especially if you’re traveling long-distance and will be suffering from jet lag, setting aside a day or two initially to catch up on sleep and adjust to the time difference will be key for your energy levels and wellbeing.

If you have a packed itinerary, be sure to give plenty of time between activities for rest and for downtime, instead of rushing from point to point and risking burn out.

Think About Personal Entertainment

If you’ve any form of long travel, whether it’s a long flight or car journey, then think ahead regarding what to take to keep yourself (and everybody else) entertained. You may think you’ll be able to cope with a few hours in a car without anything to do but enjoy the scenery, but this can quickly become uncomfortable, especially if younger children are involved.

Be sure to take books, electronic devices, music or anything which will keep everybody entertained. If you don’t end up using it, at least it was always there as an option!


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