How to Host a Simple Bridal Shower

Hi friends! I recently had the honor of hosting a bridal shower for my sister-in-law. Knowing that my SIL isn’t a traditional gal, I knew I wanted to keep it sweet and simple with minimal fuss. But of course, I wanted to make sure the day made her feel special! In today’s post, I will be sharing all of the details on how to host an affordable, beautiful, yet simple shower.

It’s All in the The Details

Thoughtful decor will have a huge impact on any event that you host. Keeping with a consistent, well planned theme will be eye catching and more of a reason for your party to be memorable one. After searching through Pinterest for a bit, I decided on a black, white and pink color scheme. My SIL loves bright colors, so I knew the decor needed to have a bit of pop. For the table, I ordered a black table cloth and a black and white stripe runner. To dress the table up a bit more, we ordered a large pink and white center piece from a local florist and added a few photos of the bride-to-be. If I could do it again, I would have added a little table confetti scattered down the table.

I ordered affordable printable decor from Etsy and also used a few things left over from my shower. I chose the ‘He Said, She Said’ game and the ‘Who am I” game which ended up giving us all a few laughs. I placed each game at everyone’s place setting which also dressed up the table. Anytime I order printables from Etsy, I have it printed at Staples. It’s fast and easy. You can also opt to a little extra to have all of your items cut to size, which I highly recommend for a wedding. We also played a 3rd game that did not require stationary; How Well Does the Bride know the Groom? I asked the groom about 15 questions (some made up, some found on Pinterest). For each question the bride answered different than the groom, she had to put a piece of bubble gum in her mouth. Luckily for this bride, she knew her groom and only ended up with one piece of gum.

For favors I opted for mini champagne bottles decorated in sheer pink bags and tags also from Etsy. I re-purposed the tag template by using it for welcome signs and had it printed on 8×10 card stock. The tags can also be printed on full sheet labels and applied directly to the bottle. When choosing a party favor, I suggest going with something that the majority of your guest will use. Same goes for game prizes – we use little bags of Hersey’s kisses. To add an extra touch, I played wedding themed movies on low volume in the background since the shower was hosted at my house.

Food and Drinks

To keep the afternoon as stress-free as possible I kept our food menu simple. Disclaimer – the menu was not exclusively gluten-free.

  • Scrambles Eggs
  • Croissants
  • Muffins
  • Chicken Salad
  • Cheese Board
  • Cesar Salad
  • Wraps (sliced in pin-wheels)
  • Gluten-Free Pastries
  • Cupcakes
  • Brownies
  • Cookies
  • Coffee, Tea and Mimosas (cranberry and orange with fresh strawberries)

Pre-Event Prep

Regardless of the event, planning ahead of time is super important. Once I had my decor, games and menu set, I planned out the afternoon. I planned out the seating, table scape and where I would place my decor throughout the house. Pinterest is a great resource for gathering ideas on how to arrange your decor. I also created a very loose timeline in my head of how the day would flow {welcome chit-chat, mimosas, brunch, games, dessert and a final game}. Then from the event start time, I planned backwards, so I knew what time I would need to start setting up and still allow myself enough time to get ready.

The morning of the shower I started by setting up the table and placing all the decor. This was an important first step that I did not want cut short on time because I knew the decor would really make the day feel special. Next, I laid out all of my platters throughout the kitchen {without food} to ensure everything would fit and flow nicely. I also created a designated area for mimosas, coffee, tea and juices. One of the guests was bringing a cheese platter, so I made sure to leave room for that as well. About 20 minutes before the guests were to arrive, I placed the food on the platters and cut up fresh strawberry slices for the mimosa glasses.

Invites

For this shower, I chose to use Evite over traditional invitations. It is a great way to save on the cost of paper goods and mailing invitations. Most invitations end up in the garbage anyway! Since I only had about 3 weeks to plan this shower, Evite made it possible for me to get the message out quickly. Evite allows you to send your invitations by email or text message to your guests individually. Personally, I love the newer text message option because I feel like guests tend to respond quickly.

Evite has a wide variety of invites to chose from, so it is a great option for showers, engagements, weddings, birthdays, retirements and celebrations of all kinds. Many of the invites are free, but you can pay for premium options as well. My friends, family and I have been fans of Evite for years. It is also the invitation I chose to use for my wedding rehearsal dinner.

I know that many people like to incorporate traditional invitations into the event decor. As you’re reading this, you many be thinking that you lose out on this detail with Evite, but you don’t have to. To get a similar affect for my SIL’s shower, I selected a template that complemented the pink, white and black theme. The template I chose also allowed me to add a photo, so I chose one of her in a pink dress. I printed and framed this photo which allowed me to incorporate her invitation into the decor.

I hope I have provided some help tips! Check back soon for my next blog!

Baha Mar Travel Guide + Gluten-Free Tips

Hi friends! It’s been a while, but today I am excited to share a recent trip my husband and I took to the Bahamas. This was our first visit to the Bahamas and we stayed at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar. Prior to booking the trip, I didn’t know anything about the new Baha Mar area. Once I booked the trip and started sharing our plans with friends and family, I was surprised how much hype this area was getting. All of the positive feedback plus the details found in the blog world made me even more excited for this trip!

From NY, the Bahamas is a three hour direct flight which makes the Bahamas a great option for a long weekend. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt for 4 nights, but due to our flight times, we were able to enjoy just about five complete days at the resort. I booked our reservation directly through the Hyatt to make sure we earned Hyatt rewards points. The main reason that I chose the Grand Hyatt was due to the great experience we had at the Andaz Maui last year. The Andaz resorts are actually owned by Hyatt. 

I booked us a ‘king view room’ which ended up being upgraded to a suite. We didn’t ask for an upgrade, so we were pleasantly surprised when we opened the door.  Our suite had a full kitchen, living room, bedroom, washer/dryer and two balconies. It was brand new and beautifully decorated. I think the change of rooms was a result of us arriving at the resort well before our check-in time. The only downside to this room change ended up being the location of the room. We were on the 20th floor, which mean that both balconies had great views of the ocean, but also a  parking lot and the water park that is in early stages of construction. Our room was on the far west side of the West Tower. I suggest keeping this in mind when you check into the hotel, especially if the view is important to you. Also, be sure to remember that Baha Mar is a large resort. You will not be able to hear the ocean from your balcony at the Grand Hyatt, as it is set the farthest away from the beach.

Overall, we were very happy with our stay at Baha Mar. The resort is new and kept very clean. The Grand Hyatt also offers perks you may not find at other hotels. Similar to our stay at the Andaz, complementary flavored ice water and Sun Bum SPF were provided at all towel stations throughout the resort. Personally, I think this is such a nice touch.

We were only staying in the Bahamas for five days, so we new that we wanted to stay at the resort to max the relax. We at breakfast, lunch and dinner on-site. When you are planning your trip, I would recommend doing some research on the restaurants – they are not cheap. However, although food and drinks are expensive at Baha Mar, we felt that the portions were appropriately sided and the quality was excellent. We definitely felt like we got our money’s worth.

Before diving into the gluten-free travel guide portion of this blog, I will share a bit about the resort itself. Baha Mar is about a 10-15 minute car ride from the airport. It has three hotels on the grounds; Rosewood, SLS and Grand Hyatt. Each hotel has its own vibe and all are beautiful in their own way. The Rosewood is the most expensive and exclusive of the three. The pool is reserved for only Rosewood guests, but we were able to walk around the grounds. It is so beautiful and serene! The SLS appeared to be the smallest of the three hotels and appeals to a bit younger crowd. Also keep in mind that the west side of the SLS will face the waterpark which is currently under construction. The SLS pools are exclusive to SLS guests with loud music at all times. On Saturdays, one SLS pool hosts a pool party from 11am – 5pm complete with a blaring DJ, champagne and fog machines. If you couldn’t tell already, this is not my scene. The music from this pool party could be heard three pools away at the Grand Hyatt. But hey, if pool parties are your thing, you go girl. If they’re not, I suggest going to the beach on Saturdays where the music can’t be heard. The third resort is the Grand Hyatt. It is the largest of the three and has the most amenities. All Grand Hyatt pools, spa and casino are available to Baha Mar guests. Additionally, the bars and restaurants throughout all three hotels are available to all guests. 

We had some delicious dinners on this trip. I have to mention how well trained all of the waitstaff was at each restaurant. Each restaurant has is own unique cuisine, bar menu and all around vibe. The staff at each restaurant {or bar} was very knowledgeable on the menu offered. We also felt that everyone who helped us was happy to do so and very friendly. Great service just made the trip that much better. I would recommend making reservations ahead of time {and possibly before you arrive} because the restaurants book up quickly. Our room had a tablet that allowed us to easily book dinners reservations. This was actually a really nice touch because it was Baha Mar guide at our fingertips.

On to the food! In my research prior to this trip, I had a pretty tough time finding gluten-free recommendations. With Baha Mar being a new resort and the Grand Hyatt being a higher-end hotel, I was pretty confident I would have a positive experience on my search for gluten-free meals during our stay. Although not all restaurants have gluten-free options on displayed on their menu, everywhere we went was accommodating and welcomed my questions.

Must Eats at Baha Mar

  • 3 Tides: The Salmon was delicious and they offered gluten-free bread with honey butter.
  • Fi’ Lia: AMAZING! I had one of the most simple yet delicious pasta dishes ever; Cacio e Pepe with gluten-free penne. I have been trying to re-create it since we got home.
  • Carna: Mary’s Organic Chicken with a side of fries (be cautious of the fries).
  • Cafe Mademoiselle: Very limited gluten-free options, but great coffee.
  • Drift Bar and Pool: Gluten-free buns for burgers and sandwiches, salad and pizza (although I would skip the pizza).
  • El Jefe: Guacamole, salas and chips

Must Drink – Rosewood, SLS, Library Rosewood

  • Costa: Located on the grounds of the Rosewood and has the most serene outdoor dining area. We enjoyed a glass of wine in the outdoor bar area and agreed that it was one of the best locations at Baha Mar. The restaurant is surrounded by coy ponds and tropical trees. Although we didn’t dine here, sitting at this bar made me 100% feel like I was on vacation. A MUST see!
  • H20: A great swim up pool bar at the Grand Hyatt. My husband suggests traveling with a beer coozey to keep your drink cool at the pool.
  • Manor Bar: Located in the Rosewood. This bar has an cozy, old school feel and every liquor I could think of. The bar tender on the night we visited was top notch, and was able to make great recommendations on the wine as well.
  • Monkey Bar: Located in the lobby of the SLS, which is beautiful! There are tons of seating areas for large or small crowds. Have a drink here to start or end your night.

The only restaurant we were not happy with on our trip was The Swimming Pig. We felt that the service was slow, the food wasn’t great and overall it wasn’t our kind of atmosphere. I would recommend skipping this restaurant on your stay because there are many other excellent options.

Thanks for stopping by! If you visit Baha Mar, let me know in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest and Instagram for new updates.


Between our trip to the Baha Mar and putting together this blog, the Bahamas was significantly impacted by hurricane Dorian. From resort staff to the sweetest taxi driver who took us to the airport, so many people made our vacation a great one. We are sadden to think that many of them had homes, friends and family impacted by the hurricane. If you would like to donate, you can do so directly through the Baha Mar website (click here).

One Year Puppy Update!

About one year ago we brought home our F1b goldendoodle, Henry! He has been a handful at times, but we love having him as our dog. We saw his litter the week before we actually took him home and were not sure which puppy would be ours. I had my heart set on a girl pup, but Henry won us both over. I will always remember the day we brought him home. It is one of our most memorable moments during our 1st year of marriage. Becoming puppy paw-rents was kind of a big deal.

Taking Henry home!

Rewind to our puppy planning. Around Christmas of 2017, Mike started throwing around the idea of getting a puppy. Although I had grown up with a dog, I wasn’t really sure I wanted another. Don’t get me wrong, I think dogs are great, but with our busy schedules, I wasn’t sure it would work. We had also recently renovated the majority of our house, so the thought of it being destroyed by a puppy made me cringe. That feeling didn’t last too long because soon enough I was researching puppies.

I knew that if we were going to bring a puppy into our home I wanted to be overly prepared. My research included carefully considering breed {including size, health and temperament}, crate training and house training. I even took it as far as calling local vets and training facilities to get an idea of 1st year expenses. I also asked friends and family if they could recommend any dog walkers. We are fortunate that Henry now has the best dog walker ever! She walks him every weekday and it is so comforting to know that he is getting extra love and play time.

Henry’s first 4th of July

I loosely narrowed my search down to three breeds; goldendoodles, cockapoos and wheaten terriers. We were hoping to find a medium sized dog that would not shed. We were open to both adoption and breeders, but we went down the adoption route first. I signed up for petfinder.com and joined dozens of local Facebook and Instagram groups. In the spring of 2018, we found a few great dogs that we attempted to adopt, but none worked out. Honestly, the process was a little discouraging because one of the organizations I tried to adopt through made us feel very unworthy and unfit to own a dog. We knew that was far from the truth!

As summer quickly approached, I started to lose hope and thought we would wait until the following year. Mike is a teacher, so were hoping to bring a new dog or puppy home at the start of summer vacation. One of my cousins remembered that a friend of hers had gooldendoodles that happen to be from a local LI breeder. I debated calling for a few days because I just thought a puppy wasn’t in our cards. On my way to a work event, I figured I would just try calling the breeder. I wasn’t sure if she would have any puppies available or if she was still breeding at all. To my surprise, she lived in a nearby town and expected to have puppies in need of homes by the following week. My jaw dropped! After all this time, there was a puppy 1) near by, 2) available and 3) fit our criteria. At the end of that week, Mike and I planned to meet her and her puppies. It all seemed too good to be true, so I figured that once again our puppy plans would unravel, but I was wrong.

The woman we got our dog from was very friendly and kept a tidy home despite raising puppies and a few dogs of her own. There were nine puppies in Henry’s litter. We looked at each other and immediately knew one of them was going to be ours. We decided to leave a deposit and went straight home to start getting our home ready for a puppy. To read more about our puppy planning click here and here. I cannot stress enough how important it is to prepare yourself for bringing a puppy home. It is a big commitment.

We went back to the breeder’s home on a Sunday {it was actually Father’s Day}. There were three puppies left to choose from; 2 boys and 1 girl. It took us a little while to decide, but Henry ultimately won us over. I couldn’t believe after dreaming of a girl puppy, we were taking home our little guy. I’ll never forget having him crying on my lap the whole car ride home. When we got him home, he settled into his new house very quickly.

After being home for about an hour, we knew that we needed to decide on a name for the puppy. My husband and I met while at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. We always knew that if we were to ever get a dog her or she would be named after our school, which is located on the Hudson River. After making a list of potential names from around the campus, we narrowed down our puppy name options to Henry or Hudson. You all know which one we chose.

Now jumping into where we are today. Looking back on the last year, I can’t imagine life without a dog. There’s nothing better than waking up or coming home to a happy pup wagging his tail for you. However, it has not been easy. In fact, there were many times it has been more difficult than we expected. I grew up with a dog, but she was a fraction of Henry’s size. He is currently weighing-in at 43lbs. Most people assume he weighs 15-20lbs more than he does based on his size. When we were looking into getting a puppy, I thought 30lbs would be a good size, but I knew Henry would be bigger. Big dogs have also intimidated me a bit because I grew up with a 15lb shih-tzu. His size has definitely made some of the typical puppy traits like jumping and biting more of a challenge.

Since the day he came home, he’s been very mouthy and thinks his mouth is how he shows affection or gets attention. Honestly, this was not the behavior I expected from a goldendoodle based on everything I’ve read about the breed. We’ve tried many different approaches to correcting this problem, but none have yet to resolve the issue. I have also worked with trainers on correcting the behavior. Mouthing aside, he’s also very tall and can swipe things off our counters. He has also recently started jumping up on guests. To work on this problem, we always keep low calorie treats in our pockets and constantly ask him to “sit.” Henry knows this command, so that is where we try to focus his attention. A trainer told me that focus is actually Henry’s #1 issue – he doesn’t have any! He’s 100% still a work in progress when it comes to obedience.

In addition to a behavioral issues, Henry has had a few health concerns. Henry was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at 6 months old. Fortunately, he has responded extremely well to daily joint supplements. Our vet said that joint supplements could be all he needs for a long time. We will focus on keeping him at a healthy weight and active daily. His only limitations are that he is not allowed to go to dog parks (potential rough play could injure him) and he can’t run on concrete. Since taking the joint supplements, his progress has been amazing. He has become very strong and has excellent control when he turns and pivots (disclaimer: I am not a vet or an animal expert).

Henry was also diagnosed with a few dental issues early on. He didn’t show signs of pain or discomfort, but our vet kept a close eye on the development of his teeth. Without getting too much detail, Henry’s bite was off and his dental development was slow. Our regular vet actually sent us to an animal dentist who we saw for check-ups over 3 months. Henry had surgery to remove 2 adult teeth that were misplaced and a few baby teeth that were not falling out on their own. The vet also “opened up” his gum were an adult tooth was impacted which helped it drop down. Since that surgery, he’s been totally fine in the dental department. Now, I am trying to get him used to me brushing his teeth.

On the positive side, Henry took to both house and crate training really well. He hasn’t had an accident in our home since August or September. Overall, he really didn’t have many accidents. We were very focused on following a strict schedule to house train him — and it worked! He also still sleeps in his crate when we’re not home and at night. Even when we’re home, he goes in on his own to nap. Henry picks up on new commands quickly. Most recently we’ve taught him how to “catch” toys or treats and to go to his “spot” (outside bed) and his “bed” (living room bed). I am hoping by the end of this summer I can teach him how to catch a Frisbee. Overall, he’s an extremely happy, goofy pup. He loves to play, run around and snuggle once he tires himself out.

Henry requires a fair amount of exercise which includes at least 1 walk per day and play time in our yard. We also keep a variety of toys for him, including puzzles, for him to have in the house. He has a ton of thick hair, so I comb and brush him every week. The Safari brand brush and comb are my favorites for keeping his coat knot-free. If you want to keep your doodle’s coat on the longer side, it does require a fair amount of upkeep. We take him to the groomer every 6-8 weeks because his hair grows fast and it’s difficult to bathe him at home. I am really happy with our groomer! The first time I brought him in, I showed her pictures of goldendoodle cuts that I liked and a few that I did not. I always ask to keep Henry’s nose/snoot full and round, not trimmed and pointy.

Now that we have Henry, I can’t imagine having a small dog! I love Henry’s size. He is the best snuggler and fun to play with. I am so happy to be Henry’s puppy mama.

If you recently brought home a puppy or are thinking about it, be sure to follow me on Instagram, Pinterest and read my previous puppy blogs! And, if you have any questions about Henry or his training, leave them below.