Wedding Table Decoration Ideas - The Lab Event

Hi honeys! We've missed you! It's been a while since we've posted but we're back from the wonderful Holidays and ready to rumble into 2013.

We couldn't be more excited to be planning for many beautiful couples this year! To get inspired, we attended The Lab in Sonoma this past weekend. What a wonderful event! If you are a bride-to-be (or soon bride-to-be!) you should definitely plan to check it out next year.

Here are some wonderful wedding table decorations to feast your eyes on!






Happy Honey & Twine Tuesday!
- Hannah

Wedding Budget Advice

Today, we're tackling budgets. Do you know "Mo Money Mo Problems" is one of my favorite songs? I digress...

While this isn't the most glamorous part of wedding planning, it's certainly one of the most important. I received this email from a friend recently:

"I'm trying to come up with a budget... I looked quickly at some venues but those prices vary A LOT from place to place. I know there's food / drink costs involved. The dress. The photographer. Arghh! That's when i started to panic because I really have no idea where to start..."

Here are some of my top tips.



1) Prioritize and be flexible: When you begin the budgeting process, all couples (no matter how big or small your budget) should sit down together and place the following list into three categories: "Very Important," "Negotiable," and "Not Important At All." By laying this out on the table, you can agree ahead of time that you won't mind spending more on important items if it means cutting back on others.


  • Venue
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Live music
  • DJ
  • Other guest entertainment
  • Wedding gown
  • Bride’s accessories
  • Hair and makeup
  • Groom’s attire
  • Groom’s accessories
  • Bridal party flowers (bouquet, boutonnieres)
  • Flowers / centerpieces
  • Ceremony decorations
  • Reception decorations
  • Lighting (lanterns, candles, monograms)
  • Cake / Dessert
  • Stationery (invitations, table signs, programs)
  • Transportation
  • Favors


2) Venue Shopping: Your venue is going to be one of the biggest contributing factors to the look and feel of your wedding. Coincidentally, it is going to be one of your biggest costs. Start shopping and doing price comparisons early. Consider location, amenities and complimentary benefits. If you are set on getting married at a winery but have a limited budget, consider Livermore instead of Napa. If you want a ballroom wedding, look for hotels that include a honeymoon suite in the wedding package.

The Palace Hotel, San Francisco


3) Keep an Eye on the Guest List: Keep in mind that some costs are fixed (your photographer and dress will cost the same no matter how many people you invite) and others are charged "per guest" like food and beverage (F&B). When it comes to "per guest" costs, a growing guest list can really put you over budget.

For example, say I have $10,000 to spend on F&B. I invite 100 guests and sign a contract for a catering package at $100 per person. If my guest list grows by only 10 people, I'm already $1,000 over budget!

While it can be difficult, it's important to be strict with your guest list!

Courtesy of Martha Stewart
4) Budget for "hidden" costs: Many couples forget to include sales tax, delivery charges, and service charges in their budget estimates, which can be automatically added to your bill. With 8.5% sales tax in San Francisco and 20% service charge, that's almost 30% more than the original price tag!

We hope you find this helpful, honeys! Feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

Happy planning!
- H x

How to Plan Thanksgiving Dinner

Happy Turkey week! It's time to dig out your stretchy pants!

I moved to the US in 2002 and immediately fell in love with Thanksgiving. The food, the family and friends... the food.

Ever since then, I look forward to this Holiday all year. People ask me how I plan Thanksgiving dinner without breaking a sweat. The secret? Just like planning a wedding, the key to a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner is organization and preparation.

This is my foolproof plan.


Tria and I setting Thanksgiving dinner table last year

2 - 1.5 weeks ahead - Menu Planning / Reserve Your Turkey

Write out your menu. Tip #1: keep it simple! People won't have a better time if you have 20 dishes. My menu is:
- Turkey
- Stuffing
- 2 starch sides - mashed potatoes and candied yams
- 1 vegetable side - my fav is green bean casserole
- Gravy (yes!)
- Cranberry sauce
- 2 Pies - pecan and apple (Tip #2: if you have locals coming for dinner, ask them to bring pie! Less work for you, all the same deliciousness)

That's it! I always make cornbread stuffing but this year I think I'll try this variation with pancetta, apples and mushrooms.


Also reserve your turkey. I usually buy a fresh, range grown, organic turkey. Tip #3: Allow 3/4 pound per person. Schedule pick-up for the Monday before Thanksgiving.

1.5 - 1 week(s) ahead - Make a Shopping List / Go Shopping, Review Serveware

Make a grocery list of everything you'll need including quantities. I like to go shopping 1.5 weeks ahead of Thanksgiving. You could go the weekend before, but the grocery store will be CHAOS. I avoid it like the plague.

But will everything stay fresh, you ask? Keep celery crisp by wrapping in aluminum foil. Everything else should keep just fine.

Tip #3: Pull out all your serveware and use sticky notes to map out which dishes will go in what. If you are short on anything, you still have time to go buy it!




1 week ahead - Make Food Ahead of Time

Tip #4: Break cooking into stages. It's reduces so much stress! Make a list and check things off as you go. This is my schedule.

5 days ahead - Make pecan pie and pate brisee for apple pie. Pecan pie keeps very well if you wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge. Make 2 pate brisee discs, wrap tightly and store in fridge. Active prep: 1 hour.



4 days ahead - Make cranberry sauce. This is an easy do-ahead. Store in an air-tight container. Active prep: 20 mins.



3 days ahead - Pick-up and prepare turkey. Brine or marinade (whatever your recipe calls for) and store on bottom shelf of fridge. Use neck to make turkey stock. Store in air-tight container. Make mushroom béchamel for green bean casserole. Store in air-tight container. Active prep: 1 hour.

2 days ahead - Trim/peel/cut all vegetables. Assemble green bean casserole, place in casserole dish and refrigerate. Store rest of veggies in individual air-tight containers. Cut potatoes and yams into cubes, cover in water and refrigerate separately. Dice bread for stuffing. Bread can sit on counter overnight to dry out. Active prep: 30 mins.

1 day ahead - Make stuffing using vegetables you pre-cut day before, place in casserole dish and refrigerate. Make apple pie using 2 pate brisee discs you made ahead of time. Once cooled, cover lightly with plastic wrap or cake dome. Active prep: 1 hour.

The Big Day!

5 hours before dinner - Take turkey out of fridge and let come to room temperature for 45 mins. Set the table.

4 hours before dinner - Put turkey in oven! A 12-14 pound turkey will take 3 - 3 3/4 hours to cook. Take pecan pie out of fridge and let come to room temperature.

3 hours before dinner - Cook potatoes and yams. Mash (or whatever your recipe calls for) and keep warm over low heat.



2 hours before dinner - Make gravy using turkey stock. Keep in thermos until ready to eat. 

1 hour before dinner - Take turkey out of oven and let rest for 20 mins. Put stuffing and green bean casserole in oven to heat. Transfer yams to casserole dish and place marshmallows on top.



20-30 mins before dinner - Broil marshmallow topping on candied yams casserole. Pour gravy into gravy boat. Put cranberry sauce into serving dish. Take stuffing, candied yams and green bean casserole out of oven. Put mashed potatoes into serving bowl. And carve the turkey!



Tip #5: Don't forget to enjoy yourself and be thankful! I'm thankful for a wonderful year, my amazing husband, my family and friends, our amazing couples, and of course, my wonderful business partner, Tria.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Planning!
- Hannah x

Photos courtesy of foodnetwork.com, designboom.com, simplyrecipes.com, savorysweetlife.com, smittenkitchen.com, thepioneerwoman.com, marthastewart.com, myrecipes.com

How to Plan a Kid’s Birthday Party

My gorgeous nephew turned 2 last week! In true Wong fashion, my sister and I started planning his birthday party months ago - I mean, planning is fun, after all! We realized quickly that while there would be a few kids at the party, most of the guests would actually be adults - family, friends of my sister and her husband, the babysitter etc.

So we wanted to make sure we planned an event that was catered to children, but that was elegant and fun for adults too!

Here are a few tips…

1) Pick a theme and let it guide your food, decorations and favors. This makes planning easy and will even give your guests an idea of what kinds of gifts to bring (they’ll thank you!) Our theme: Planes, trains and automobiles!
“Wheel” lollipop favors for the kids. We made this into a little centerpiece
Plane and train pumpkins centerpieces
Homemade birthday cake. The plane, made by my talented sister, is carved rice crispy treats covered in fondant

2) Choose one brightly colored decoration you can use in multiple places for big impact.  We found automobile foam stickers and stuck them onto construction paper cutouts. They are super cute and you'll see we used them everywhere! We also made and hung paper chains from the ceiling.
Red and green jello "stoplights." To add pizazz to food, we glued the stickers and cutouts onto toothpicks

Paper chains and helium balloons make any party festive!
3) Offer foods both kids and adults will love. Everyone loves pigs in a blanket, but it’s nice to offer something just for the adults too, like a beautiful cheese plate. If you’re offering PB+J sandwiches for the kids, offer a more grown-up turkey club for the adults.
Pigs in a blanket served with mustard and ketchup
Cheese platter for the adults
Milk for the kids among beverages for the adults
4) Make three dishes; assemble and buy the rest. This will keep you sane and remember, your friends won’t have a better time if you make everything from scratch! We made: chocolate pudding, pigs in a blanket and jello stoplights. We assembled: vegetable crudité with hummus, PB+J sandwiches, a cheese platter, and fruit salad (using pre-cut fruit). We bought: sandwiches for the adults from the local deli. Easy and delicious!
PB+J sandwiches in airplane cutouts
5)  Get creative with presentation! Even something as homey as chocolate pudding and PB+J sandwiches can be food for a fancy occasion. We served the chocolate pudding in elegant individual cups (found at any party store) and made airplane cutouts from the PB+J sandwiches.
Individual chocolate pudding cups for kids and adults!
Your family and friends will have a blast and you will too!

Happy planning!
- Hannah