Eight Design Websites I Love

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Want to know a secret? I spend a lot of time on the internet. I do a lot of research for my clients as well as my business and when I’m not wrangling contracts and following up for the gajillionth time with a vendor, I’m sneakily perusing the online design world for inspiration on wedding décor and hosting ideas.

So why keep it all a big secret? Here’s where you’ll find me most of the time (unless I’m at a cake tasting or a walkthrough or a design meeting or…)

Design Sponge

Surprise! Am I blowing your mind yet? If you haven’t taken a look at Design Sponge’s gajillions of archives, you’re missing out. Geared more towards homes décor, I still love how the bloggers and designers there can take a space that is pretty yuck and turn it into beautiful. Definitely a good one when I’m presented with a challenging décor job or an unconventional room layout.

Wedding Lovely

This website has gorgeous photography, but it also deals a lot with the more practical side of planning a wedding. If I’m looking for inspiration on how to tighten up a clients’ budget or read lovely stories from first-hand brides, I head here.

Style Me Pretty

Well, duh. I’ve been featured twice (here and here) on Style Me Pretty and it’s probably because the design aesthetic over there is exactly what I bring to my weddings. Elegant, classic, yet modern and organic, with a twist of fun and lightness.

Apartment Therapy

Again, this website has lots of beautiful spaces so sometimes, I’ll go to see what color trends are popping up and how people have creatively used decorating ideas to make small spaces look larger or large spaces look more cozy.

The Knot

I love the Knot, not only for its great advice, but for its fantastic community. The comments on some of the posts are enough to keep me clicking back there for inspiration all the time.

Green Wedding Shoes

Oh my goodness, if you haven’t seen this gloriousness then you are missing out, sister! Made for brides who trend toward fashion-forward and even a bit edgy (they’re in Southern California. Of course they’re gunna have a little edge!)

Bridal Snob

This one is solely pictures, so when I’m looking to do some vision boarding or create an inspiring color palette, Bridal Snob is my go-to. (Also, the language is hilariously colorful!)

Rustic Wedding Chic

Since I’m in Montana, this blog has some gorgeous wedding eye-candy, with a real down-home rustic feel. Perfect for brides who are looking for that country-style wedding, but still sophisticated enough to please anyone.

What are your favorite places to get wedding inspiration? Leave them in the comments below so that I can find more places to get inspired!

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Dear Leslie: Do You Have Ideas for Wedding Favors?

Useful wedding favors

Dear Leslie,

I’ve been scouring the internet forever and I can’t seem to find favors that I really, really love. Do you have any suggestions?

I’ve totally been there. Spending hours and hours online, looking at Pinterest, trying not to spend an arm and a leg while making it elegant, classy, and fun. If I could get back the time I’ve spent doing this, I would in a heartbeat.

Well, why don’t I just make it easy for you. Here are some ideas for that I absolutely love:

Edible favors (with a personal twist)

I love all things personal, which is why I encourage guests to create favors that have a bit of their personalities. I’ve had brides who come from beekeeping families buy little mason jars, fill them with honey from their hives, and stick on a little label (tied with a raffia bow and mini-honey dipper, of course!). If you’re Italian in heritage (or love all things travel), why not give a little jar of your favorite olive oil, or jam from berries you canned last summer (if you’re planning way ahead!).

A warm pastry

This works well for colder weddings, or weddings where guests have a bit of a drive or cab ride back home. Imagine the weather turning chilly, your guests have danced and drank all night, and now it’s late and the party’s over. What do they want? Short of a piece of pizza, they probably want a gooey treat to keep the warm or curb that late-night hunger on the way home. Sticky buns are my favorite, but you can also do chocolate croissants or danishes. Planning tip: have them served on a tray for people to grab on the way out with a little sign that says “For the ride home. On us.”

Things that are useful

We do a lot of outdoor weddings in Montana and in the summer? It’s hot and can be buggy. One of my favorite ways to say to guests “We’re thinking of you!” is to place out a basket of fans that guests can grab on the way to their seats. They can fan themselves and then take a little piece of the wedding home with them (bonus points if you get the favors monogrammed or have a cute message put on them). Other ideas are flashlights (for those stumbling in the dark after an outdoor wedding) or lightweight pashminas for chilly nights (easily sourced inexpensively if you’ve got good Googling skills!)

Donation to your favorite cause

I love giving back on wedding day. Plus, by the end of the night, guests are wined and dined enough that they might not want another thing to take home with them and eat. I’ve had couples who will create 3″x5″ flyers with faces of different animals from a local shelter, saying that a donation was made on their guests’ behalf to keep them safe and warm. Maybe donate to a cause abroad or locally. or buy handmade goods from artisans living in a country you’ve traveled or  where you want to travel.

Anything local!

This is a total plug for Montana because huckleberry products and local bison jerky are definitely rampant in this part of the country. If you’re planning a destination wedding (or have lots of folks from out of town) a simple nod to the local culture can be a great touch, but also a treat for some of the in-town guests who may not go out and buy a local product for themselves. Sourdough bread from San Francisco! Magnolia cupcakes from NYC! Deep dish pizza bites from Chicago! Saltwater taffy from the coasts! The options are limitless!

Nix the favor altogether

Wait, what? I thought you said that this was a post on how to pick great favors, Leslie!

Okay, you’re right, but take a second and hear me out. Why are you wracking your brain trying to decide on a favor? Is it because you think you have to have one? Is it because all your friends had one at their weddings? If the answer to either of the latter questions is yes, then I’d say spend your money elsewhere. In Montana, we do LOADS of destination weddings, so we carefully plan welcome bags for out of town guests and often forgo a favor. If it’s not that important to you, then stop wracking your brain and move onto the next task on your (likely very large) to do list. (and if your looking for other ways to trim your budget fat, I’ve got you covered).

I’d like to start doing this as a regular series. If you have any questions about your wedding that you’d like me to answer on the blog, send me an email at info@leslielukas.com

Winter Weddings–Rocky Mountain Elopements!

Have you been wishing to elope with your fiance to a beautiful destination in the Rocky Mountains?  We have helped several brides and grooms reach wedded bliss in Yellowstone National Park to Big Sky and beyond….

Here are some fabulous clicks from Lauren Brown Photography of a winter wedding elopement…that we helped plan and created fabulous florals for!

An intimate celebration can be an incredible journey for you and your partner.  We can help….

Our favorite and most romantic getaway is to Big Sky, Montana…with a stay at Moonlight Basin.  There is so much to do and see.  A down-hill skiers paradise by visiting Moonlight’s terrain, Big Sky Resort’s terrain or Bridger Bowl ski areas.  Down-hill skiing not your thing? There is plenty of opportunity to snowshoe or cross-country ski at Lone Mountain Ranch.  And don’t forget to take a romantic sleigh ride with 320 Ranch to dinner one eve.  Luxurious spas, apre ski, and award winning restaurants abound.

Yellowstone National Park also offers a playground of activities… snow-coach tours, snowmobiling, and historic lodging all within driving distance of Big Sky.  If you’d like to plan the perfect winter wedding, give us a call…or shoot us a line.

Summer activities in Montana: Spotlight on Madison County

Summertime in Montana is filled with many opportunities to experience history, explore nature and try new things. Whether you are planning activities for wedding guests or just visiting for the summer, Montana has unique offerings for everyone. Madison County, located in southwest Montana, is one of my favorite areas for recreation because of its natural beauty, small town feel, historical roots, and exciting adventures for all ages.

Here are just a few notable places and activities that will give you the true Madison County experience!

Big Sky

Big Sky is a small, but growing community that shares a respect for nature and a passion for outdoor recreation. Along with its world-class winter sports, Big Sky also offers many great summer activities in a breathtaking setting.

  • Let your inner thrill seeker loose with Big Sky Resort’s Basecamp. Fly over the slopes and trees on the Zipline. Connect with your inner acrobat on the Bungee Trampoline. Other activities include disc golf, golf, paintball, lasertag, hiking, scenic lift rides, archery, and much, much more. This is truly fun for everyone!
  • Listen to Music in the Mountains every Thursday at the Town Center Stage. Oh, did we mention that it’s free?!
  • Become a member and play the RESERVE, a Jack Nicklaus signature par-72 course at Moonlight Basin. Don’t worry, the course provides bear spray just in case you get a close encounter with the wildlife!
  • Pamper yourself with a seaweed body wrap at the Moonlight Spa. Afterward, enjoy the breathtaking slope side view in the heated outdoor pool and hot tub.
  • Hike, Bike, and BBQ on Tuesdays at Moonlight Basin. Explore 16 miles of scenic trails with a complimentary guide or on your own, followed by live music and slow roasted BBQ. Rentals available.

Ennis

At the heart of Madison Valley you will find a small community of avid anglers and hunters in what looks like the set of an old western movie. This is Ennis. Beyond the famous fishing holes, and unique shops and delicious eateries on Main Street, there are many activities in Ennis for the whole family.

  • Attend fly fishing school at the Madison River Fishing Company. If you are already a skilled angler, then book a trip with MRFC or any one of Ennis’s many outfitters, including Montana Trout Stalkers and fish a blue ribbon stream or two!
  • Ride horses in the gorgeous backcountry through mountain trails and wildflowers. Book a trail ride with Wolfpack Outfitters or Adventures Outfitting.
  • Celebrate a famous patriotic Ennis tradition: Ennis Rodeo, live music and dancing, and 4th of July Parade!
  • Nab some fresh produce and handmade goodies at the Madison Farm to Fork farmer’s market.
  • Escape the summer heat and float the majestic Madison River with inner tubes and coolers. Please float responsibly!
  • Play the most challenging par 5 in the state of Montana at Madison Meadows Golf Course.
  • Lounge on the Kobayshi Beach at Ennis Lake. Take a boat or jet ski down the beautiful canyon and try out the rope swings!

Virginia City and Nevada City area

Virginia City was the site of one of the most successful gold mining claims in Montana history. Now, Virginia City and Nevada City are ghost towns that come alive every summer with living history, live entertainment, tours, and unique shops and restaurants.

  • Ride the steam engine and pan for gold.
  • Get a belly full of laughs at the Brewery Follies. WARNING: The humor can be raunchy, so I suggest maybe leaving the kids at home!
  • Enjoy a night of authentic 19th century melodrama with the Virginia City Players at the Opera House.
  • Go on a Ghost Walk Tour starting at the Bale of Hay Saloon.
  • Stay in one of the preserved historic cabins in Nevada City.
  • Immerse yourself in the rich history of Boothill Cemetery, where the Road Agents (outlaws) were hanged by the Vigilantes in order to restore justice in Virginia City.
  • Try one of the many flavors of homemade salt water taffy at Cousin’s Candy Shop.

Harrison, Pony, and Norris area

Harrison, Pony, and Norris are three small communities all located within 17 miles of each other. This area’s offerings largely include family-run diners, dive bars, lake outings, and other homegrown fun.

  • Visit the Pony Bar on Memorial Day for the famous Duck Races. Live music on Friday & Sunday Nights.
  • Soak in the Water of the Gods at Norris Hot Springs. Enjoy organic food, beer, and wine along with live bluegrass on the weekends.
  • Go boating on Harrison Lake. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
  • Hop on the Madison River in the Beartrap Canyon outside of Norris for a fun day of floating!

Sheridan and Twin Bridges area

  • Attend the Madison County Fair in Twin Bridges in August and enjoy 4-H shows, rodeos, and barbecues.
  • Get a true feel for Montana fishing with Four Rivers Fishing Company located in Twin Bridges. Be sure to pack the bug spray!
  • Visit Silver Star, the third oldest town in Montana, where Lewis and Clark passed through in 1805.
  • Stop by Chick’s Bar in Alder (between Virginia City and Sheridan) for a round of beers and some shuffleboard!

The bottom line: There are many great ways to enjoy Madison County, so get out there and start exploring, and help your wedding guests have the total Montana experience!


Wedding Transportation

Transportation is an essential part of your wedding day as is transporting guests to your wedding.  Also, don’t forget to think about transporting the Bride and Groom to the ceremony, to the reception and off to the honey moon.

It’s important to have this all lined out well in advance so you and your guests can sit back and enjoy the day.

If your guests are flying in you need to think about HOW they will be getting from the airport to the hotel or resort.  Here in Bozeman, Ennis and the surrounding areas there are shuttle services available.  Using a shuttle can help your guests relax as they won’t have to know where they are going, they will just be delivered there!

Car rentals are a great option as well of course.  Especially if your guests are adventurous and would like to explore before and after your wedding.  Having friends and family help shuttle guests around is another option.

Transportation for the Bride and Groom can be elaborate or simple depending on your personal taste.  Often destination weddings are held outdoors, in a big field, at an old barn, etc.  If this is  the case you may want to consider a horse and buggy.

If you are getting married in a church and then heading to your reception, consider renting an old fashioned car or truck to add a vintage feel to your day.

You can also go the traditional route and rent a limo for your special day.  So get together with your wedding coordinator to talk about ideas.  She will know which transportation route works best for your destination wedding!

Montana Wedding Cakes: Cakes by Jenn

I am always amazed at the talented vendors I find living in the far reaching corners of Montana.  Here is a sketch by little known dessert artist and cake baker, Jennifer Regester. She lives just up the road from my home town of Ennis–near Harrison, MT.  Her cakes and desserts taste amazing….and I can’t wait to work with her this coming year!  Who doesn’t get excited about dessert!  And, like me, she travels all over southwest montana delivering her yummy goodies.  She is also a designer at Big Sky Carvers and has a generous design background. 
There are few cake designers that take the time to sketch their ideas, but Jenn is one of them.  If you would like more information on her work or how to find her…just look at FaceBook!  She has some great photos of things she has been working on lately! 
This is a sketch that we are working on for a Bride of mine for next August!  Enjoy! 

Montana Destination Wedding: what you would do for friends

I was priveledged to be a part of Kristi and Josh’s wedding in a very partial, yet, wonderful role.  Amazingly enough, I have never met Kristi in person, but I know her sister Jeni Fleming, a local jazz artist, very well.  I have worked with Jeni for years in the industry and with her non-profit Hand Me Down Some Silver. Whenever Jeni calls, I am happy to help!   
Kristi sent me a few photos of what she was looking for for flowers, and since she has such an amazing sense of style, we just helped pull together a few details behind the scenes and the family took charge of the rest!
So, to be completely honest, I only created the bridal bouquet and boutonnier, purchased the flowers for her friend Kathy to put together, and provided the linens.  The rest is a complete effort by the family from the dessert tower, place-settings, and everything in-between.  I did have several converstations with Jeni about set-up, liquor amounts to order, among other things….but this is what friends do for each other.  I am so glad I got to be a part of something so beatuiful! 
PHOTOGRAPHER:  Audrey Hall
LOCATION:  Deep Creek Grange
FLORIST:  Leslie Lukas and Kathy Koelzer
RENTALS: Montana Party Rentals

Invitations, Business Cards, Graphic Design and a beautiful lady

I had the privledge of doing Bri Davey’s flowers for her wedding a couple summers ago.  Her family owns The Rainbow Valley Lodge in Ennis, MT.  At the time of her wedding, she was working for Fancy Flour’s doing marketing and web for them!  She is an amazing designer and has a keen eye for detail.  She currently lives in Portland, OR and has bought a letterpress!  I can’t say enough about Bri’s energy and style….and as you can see by these gorgeous designs and the quality of her work, she is going to take the market by storm! 

She recently aquired a letterpress, and if you are in the market for letterpress anything, don’t count out this talented woman!  Here are some fabulous styles that I took from her blog to share with you that she has already created for some lucky clients….enjoy and be sure to visit her online to see more of her work– {www.creativelabpress.com}

This rustic invitation suite is one of her flat-print (digital) designs (not run on a letter press) really caught my eye…and would be perfect for a late summer/fall wedding or party! She has

Dynamic Color Combo–Young and Fun

A friend called upon me to do the flowers for her daughter’s wedding just outside of Livingston, MT at a ranch on the Wine Glass Mountain.  The event barn where the reception was, is a family party spot where many country stars have performed for their private parties. 
I called on my friend Angela of Fresh Designs to help do the planning, so I could concentrate on the flowers.  Here is a sample of what came about!

Photo Credit:  Morgan Lamare Photography
Planning:  Fresh Designs

The Cake…Oh, MY!!!!

I have planned and attended so many weddings, and really, the cake to me is still the super star next to the bride!  I get so much joy in sharing my favorite cake designers/bakers with my clients, and even more joy out of the tastings!  Seeing what design my clients choose is always fun, and to see what the designers come up with is always AMAZING!!!

The dessert of all desserts, the wedding cake, just can’t be replaced by using a dessert bar–which I also love and will put in a future blog, but always splurge for a CAKE—your grandmother will expect it!   Here is my ode to the Montana wedding cake and some of my FAVORITES from weddings past….

Cake by Rebecca Nicklin, Bozeman, Montana

Cake created by Mother of the Groom
photo credit www.photoartamy.com

Cake by Rebecca Nicklin, Bozeman, Montana
photo credit www.nashan.com

Cake by Mother of the Groom
photo credit www.photoartamy.com 

Cake by Blue Moon Bakery, Big Sky

Cake By Chef Sarah White, Bozeman, Montana
Town and Country Foods

Cake by Rebecca Nicklin, Bozeman, Montana
Cake by Blue Moon Bakery, Big Sky, Montana

Cake by Rebecca Nicklin, Bozeman, Montana

Grooms Cake!!!  Rebecca Nicklin, Bozeman, Montana

Cakes by Jenn, Bozeman, Montana
photo credit www.photoartamy.com 
Cake by Chico Hot Springs, Pray, Montana
Cake by Van’s IGA, Bozeman, Montana
photo credit www.nashan.com
Cake by Rebecca Nicklin, Bozeman, Montana
photo credit www.nashan.com
Cake by Rebecca Nicklin, Bozeman, Montana
Cake by Rebecca Nicklin, Bozeman, Montana
photo credit www.nashan.com
Cake by Rebecca Nicklin, Bozeman, Montana
photo credit www.nashan.com
Cake by Rebecca Nicklin, Bozeman, Montana
photo credit www.nashan.com
Cake by Rebecca Nicklin, Bozeman, Montana
photo credit www.nashan.com