The First Steps to Take When Planning Your Wedding

So as some of you probably know, my “real” job (in addition to being a mom) is as a wedding planner/coordinator. I have been coordinating weddings for the past six years, and went full time about six months ago. I own and operate Falon B Weddings in the LA area, and have traveled all over to help brides and grooms make their wedding visions a reality. As we are smack dab in the middle of engagement season, I thought I would share some of my wedding planning tips with you over the next couple of months. These are just the basics, but hopefully they will help any of you future brides and grooms out there get a good jumpstart on planning. More detailed tips and tricks will be coming your way soon, but for now, here’s what to do as soon as you get engaged!

wedding planning first steps
1.  Jump up and down, squeal, cry, call your girlfriends, send out lots of pictures of your ring, call your parents, call his parents, call your siblings, stare at your ring for a few hours, buy some wedding magazines, drink some champagne.  Got that out of your system? Now it’s time to jump in to the actual planning!

2.  As unromantic as this sounds, one of the first steps is to determine your budget.  Who is going to chip in and how much are they going to contribute?  You really can’t make actual plans until you know exactly how much you have to work with.  Once you have the amount you can spend, work out a rough outline of a budget (note that this will probably change over the course of the planning process).  Figure out what is most important to you and your betrothed and dedicate the majority of your funds to those areas.

3.  Once you have a budget and know about how much you are going to spend, make a first draft of your guest list.  This by no means will be your final invite list, but before you can approach venues or caterers, you need a rough guest count.

wedding planning first steps
4.  Think about how you want your wedding to feel.  Decide on some of the basics.  Indoor/outdoor?  Time of year?  Formal/informal?  Get some general details figured out (make sure you include your spouse on this!).

5.  Decide on your “must” list.  Every couple with have their own list of non-negotiables.  Want to get married on your anniversary?  Your date is a non-negotiable.  Have to have your bridesmaids in pink?  That is a non-negotiable.  Always dreamed of a live band?  Non-negotiable.  Try to keep this list to two or three things or your planning is going to be difficult!

6.  Start researching venues.  Your venue is going to determine many other factors of your wedding–caterers, vendors, music, feel, look, etc.  It can also influence your colors, your date and your guest count.  Keep those non-negotiables in mind. If you have to have a live band but a venue you like has noise restrictions, you might want to consider another location.

7.  Once you have your venue picked out and reserved, the fun stuff really begins.  Now you can think about cake tasting, flowers, photographers, music and all the other details that make wedding planning fun.

wedding planning first steps
This is juuuuust the beginning of the wedding planning process friends, but don’t worry, more tips for planning success will be coming to you soon. And if you are in the LA area and want to work with an awesome coordinator (that would be me ;o)) hit me up at!

Let me know if you have specific wedding planning questions you want me to answer, just drop them in the comments!

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Book Review: Girl in Pieces

Book Review: Girl in Pieces

This post contains affiliate links. In addition, I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Ugh, you guys. This book was soooooo good. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow is about a seventeen year old girl named Charlie who is a cutter. She is sent to an inpatient clinic, but is released after just a few weeks because she can’t pay the fees (so many thoughts on that subject). She ends up traveling to Arizona to meet up with an old friend and she starts to get her life on track. She gets a job, finds a place to live, and seems to be doing okay. Then she meets Riley West, a former one hit wonder rocker with a serious drug and alcohol problem and things start to take a dangerous turn. Charlie has to figure out what kind of life she wants to lead and what kind of person she wants to be (and think about how hard that is to do as a teenager, now couple it with a mental health issue).

I loved this book for so many reasons. One, the writing is beautiful. This is Glasgow’s debut novel, which is actually hard to believe because the writing is so powerful and well-crafted. Two, this is such an important topic and I am so glad that so many young adult literature authors are handling it in such an authentic way (see my review on All the Bright Places if you want another awesome book on teen mental health). I spent eight years of my life working in junior highs and high schools and I can personally attest to the fact that there are so many teens struggling with self harm and the majority of them do a really good job of hiding it. When books like this come out and gain popularity it can have such a tremendous impact on kids who are in a similar situation. It makes my heart happy to think that there are kids out there reading this book and seeing themselves in Charlie. If nothing else, they know that they are not alone.

The main reason I think this book resonated so much with me is that all of the characters are so real. Charlie is the kind of character that makes the reader feel her pain along with her. When Charlie struggles, you want her to be okay. When she succeeds, you cheer on her achievements like you would your best friend’s. The supporting characters are equally as strong and well-developed, and are a diverse and interesting group of people who seem real and authentic.

Whether you are a young adult literature fan or not, Girl in Pieces is the kind of book that everyone should read. Mental health issues are a huge problem in our country (mainly due to the serious stigma that goes along with them) and we need to start the conversation, especially with teens. Books like this can do so much to help that conversation along and I truly hope you will take the time to read it soon.

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Top Ten Posts of 2016

Holy moly folks, can you believe it is time for another year end round up? I can’t believe that we are already looking back on 2016. Personally, a lot of good came out of 2016 so I’m going to focus on that instead of some of the other atrocities the year had to offer. Let’s accentuate the positive, shall we? Here is what you loved on Falon Loves Life the mostest this year:

10. A look inside the very carefully planned contents of my Disneyland bag. My motto? Be prepared!

What's Inside My Disneyland Bag

9. Over the summer we stayed at the Grand Legacy Hotel in Anaheim, and y’all were interested in what I had to say about the local Disneyland property.

grand legacy at the park

8. I love how these DIY recycled bottles turned vases came out, and apparently so did you!


7. AP Days at the Disneyland Resort is always one of my favorite times, and this year’s event was pretty good (though not as good as some years have been, not gonna lie).

AP Days

6. All the Bright Places was one of the best YA books I have ever read, so I’m not surprised this review made the list.

all the bright places book review

5. Frozen Live at the Hyperion opened to mixed reviews from Disneyland diehards, these were my personal thoughts on the subject.

frozen hyperion theater

4. Anaheim’s only rooftop bar, the Fifth, had it’s grand opening this year, which I was happy to get to attend. I offered you a sneak peek at one of the best fireworks viewing locations there is in the city.

the fifth oc

3. It’s hard to believe it has only been a year since I made my first pair of fabric covered ears. I have since made many more, but these Star Wars ones were my first, and your faves.


2. Another popular craft this year was this super cute Harry Potter tote bag that I still love and use all the time.

harry potter tote bag

  1. And my number one post of 2016…..drumroll please! These adorable BB8 Minnie Ears!!!!

bb8 ears

Well everyone, it’s been real! Thank you for all of your support and comments and love and sharing this year! Bring it on 2017!

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Best Books of 2016

The Best Books I Read in 2016

This post contains affiliate links.

2016 was an interesting year to say the least. I could say many things about the year in general, but I don’t want to be a downer. Instead, I thought I would share with you some of the best books I read this year because reading is always a good thing. This year I was really able to get back in the swing of things book-reading wise and I am so happy to finally have some time for one of my favorite passions. I hope to read even more books next year, and I think I am going to need to start keeping track because I had a hard time remembering everything I read. But these are the books that stood out the most to me in 2016.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: You can read my full review here. This is one of the best books I have ever read and I feel like this is such an important story to tell. Everyone should read this book ASAP.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Not going to lie, I only picked up this book because my version has a pink cover and it’s so pretty. But I really enjoyed reading Fangirl and I’m definitely going to add the companion book, Carry On, to my 2017 reading list.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: So I guess I discovered this year that I really like Rainbow Rowell! I picked up Eleanor and Park because there was a piece in one of my Owl Crate boxes designed around it and I was so happy I did. Definitely a fun and easy read, but also one with a lot of substance.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: I actually read the first four books in the Throne of Glass series this year (still waiting for the last one to come out in paperback), but Throne of Glass was my favorite. I haven’t loved the other three as much as I did the first one.

Cress by Marissa Meyer: So the Lunar Chronicles series is one of the few series where I think I equally enjoyed all four books. I read them all this year (if you haven’t read the series yet, make sure you start with Cinder) and I LOVED them. It was hard to pick a favorite, but Cress and her love interest were my favorite couple so I decided to go with her story as my choice.

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern: Flawed was in my first Owl Crate subscription box and it is one of my favorite books I have gotten from Owl Crate so far. I loved this dystopian novel and I really enjoyed Ahern’s writing style. Can’t wait for the sequel!

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Look, I read adult books too! So at first I had mixed feelings about Night Circus, but really the writing is just so beautiful that I had to put it on my list. This is one I really want to go back and reread, so I just need to make it through my TBR list so I have time!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: OMG, another adult book! So Girl on the Train is not in my normal vein of what I like to read, but it was one of those books that everyone was talking about so I figured I had to check it out. It was a fast read for me, and it was entertaining. And even though it was kind of weird and creepy, it didn’t give me nightmares, which I appreciate.

Overall, 2016 was a great year for books in my opinion. I’m currently working on my reading list for 2017. Any recommendations for me to add to my list? Let me know!

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The Easiest Lemon Cookie Recipe Ever

Alright homeys, time to get real. Christmas is this week y’all. If you are anything like me then you tend to save a lot of your holiday prep for the last minute (ask me how many presents I’ve wrapped…hint, it starts with a z and ends with an ero). Luckily, I discovered the best way to make cookies in about the shortest amount of time possible. Seriously, the only thing faster than this recipe is buying premade dough or store bought cookies (and I feel like you gotta at least try to do homemade, just for effort’s sake). Plus, you only need four ingredients for these bad boys so set up and clean up is super fast.

Here’s what you need: one box of lemon cake mix, two eggs, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, and powdered sugar.

First, mix the cake mix, oil, and eggs together. This took me about two minutes. The longest part of this process is the refrigeration. The dough needs to sit in the fridge for about an hour before it will be ready to bake. But the nice thing is that you can get other shit done during that hour while you wait. Toward the end of your hour, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and then get a small bowl ready with some powdered sugar. Once the dough is nice and firm, roll it into small (about one inch) balls and douse those puppies in the powdered sugar.

Place on a baking sheet and then bake at 350 for about nine minutes. Please note during the entire process, powdered sugar is the glitter of baking and it will be everywhere by the time you are done. Luckily, it cleans up nicely with a wet paper towel.

These lemon cookies are super tasty and legit easy to make. About two minutes of prep and nine minutes of bake time and you have yourself some delicious homemade cookies. One batch made about 30 cookies, though you could get more or less depending on the size you want.

Alright, so please tell me I am not the only one who waits until the last minute to get my holiday baking done. Anybody out there with me? Make me feel better about myself in the comments!

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Read, Reading, Up Next

This post contains affiliate links. I was provided with a free copy of some or all of these books in exchange for my opinion. All thoughts are my own.

Hello book-loving friends! I have been doing a lot of reading lately and I have read some really great books that I want to share with you! Here is a look at what I recently read, what I am currently reading, and what is coming up next.

Read: I recently finished reading Winter, which is the fourth and final book in the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. This was bittersweet for me because I loved reading this series and I was so sad to see it come to an end. However, I really enjoyed Winter and I thought it was an awesome ending to the series. No spoilers, but I really, really liked how this ending differed from a lot of other YA series. I’ll leave it at that. If you haven’t read the series, get all four books because you are going to want to read them all!

Reading: Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson is a little more serious than what I usually like to read, but I was drawn to it because it is a Shakespeare adaptation and I am all about my main man Wills. This book is part of a collection of novels based on Shakespeare plays. This one takes the Merchant of Venice and gives it a bit of a modern spin. I love how the author has made the characters relatable for a modern audience and his spin on the plot is interesting. Definitely not as light and fun as many of my reads, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless.

Up Next: Today I posted some of my to be reads on my bookstagram account (@coffeebookswinerepeat) and asked my followers what I should read next. It was a pretty close vote between Red Queen and The Raven Boys, but TRB won out. I’m excited to start a new YA series and see what this one is all about!

What are you currently reading and what’s up next for you? 

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holiday cocktail

Recipe: Fun and Festive Holiday Cocktail

Well, folks, it’s Monday, which means we are all in need of a little cocktail, am I right? Today I have a super simple and delicious holiday cocktail recipe for you. This would be great for a party, and you could even make a big batch in a punch bowl if you wanted to serve it as an alcoholic punch. Here’s the ingredients you will need: vodka, cranberry raspberry spritzer (this particular one is from Trader Joe’s, but I have seen similar drinks at most supermarkets), and an orange. How pretty is that orange? I sent Matt to the market and told him I needed a photogenic orange (exact words) and he delivered this beauty!

holiday cocktail

For the drink, mix two shots of vodka and two shots of the cranberry raspberry spritzer. Then squeeze the juice from half of the orange into your drink and mix together. I don’t recommend shaking since the juice is carbonated, just give it a good stir. If you are not a huge vodka fan, you can always add more of the juices to mask the flavor. Adjust to your taste! You could also add ice if you so desire, but since I always keep my vodka in the freezer and the juice was refrigerated, I didn’t need it.

This cocktail is super yummy and super easy to make, plus it came out to be the perfect color for a holiday drink! I would definitely serve this at a party, it would make a great Christmas cocktail!

holiday cocktail

All the decor in these pictures can be found at Target. The gold polka dot glasses and the mini Christmas trees were in the dollar bins, and the light up “Cheers” sign was in the party section (and it was only $12, total score in my opinion!).

Happy holidays friends! What are you going to be drinking tonight?

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