Before there was a wedding venue, a farm and a family - I baked. A lot.
Back then, I actually had time to be "bored", and baking was my solution. My co-workers enjoyed it because I would often show up with cookies or other goodies.
Christmas was the main event. I made buckeyes, molasses cookies, chocolate chip meringue cookies, cinnamon roasted almonds and s'more cookies. I'd bring in a huge platter to work and everyone would reach for their favorite.
After Cale and I were married, s'more cookies became his favorite. Those have become our Christmas tradition cookie (Santa looks forward to them every year)!
This year, I am sharing the recipe for our favorite cookie - hopefully it will become one of yours!
S'more Cookie Recipe
1 3/4 c flour
1 c graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c butter softened
3/4 c white sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 c mini chocolate chips
1 1/2 c mini marshmallows
3 regular Hershey bars, chopped
In a stand mixer, combine butter and sugars and mix until fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla until combined. Add flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt and baking soda and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 375. Take a tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball and drop onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 6 - 7 minutes. Remove from oven, push 2 - 3 marshmallows and pieces of Hershey bar into each cookie. Return to over to bake for and additional 2 - 3 minutes until golden brown and marshmallows are toasted.
Cool on rack.
Enjoy warm with a glass of cold milk!
Planning a wedding that's perfect for you and your fiancé takes a lot of time, money and stress! DIY might seem the answer to everything (especially if you spend too much time on Pinterest). Is it really the right answer for you, though?
Here are our top list of DIY wedding planning categories and what you should or should not attempt on your own.
Airbnb or Backyard Wedding
The wedding venue can take up a large portion of your budget, and that might have you thinking a backyard wedding is a great way to save some money!
Even better, find a gorgeous cabin or beach house and use that location!
It may seem a less expensive option than a wedding venue, but is it really? Probably not - and here's why.
That gorgeous, blank canvas space doesn't come with tables, chairs or linens - of course, you can always rent them.
It also doesn't have a covered area large enough for you and your wedding guests in case of weather - so add a tent to the rental list.
If it's hot or cold, that tent isn't going to offer much to help with that. You can rent portable AC or heat (which can be expensive) and do you have a place to plug them in?
Speaking of plugging in, what about lighting? And electrical for the DJ?
That perfect space (which may not be looking quite as perfect now), probably doesn't have enough parking for your 100+ guests.
And, what about restrooms? Your house or Airbnb may have a few restrooms, but are they convenient for guests and do you have enough for all of your guests? You could always rent a portable restroom trailer - that rental list is getting pretty long now.
Oh, and if you do rent all those items, who is setting them up and taking them down? Yep, add some hired staff to the list.
A wedding venue will have these items covered for you and will probably come in much less than the rental list you just created. So, we're going to have to say No to DIY Venue.
The next largest portion of your budget is the food. Your guest count drives the overall cost and a delicious, catered meal for all of your guests can get expensive.
Should this be an item you DIY? What are some options for DIY on the meal?
If you know someone with a smoker and you are a fan of BBQ, you might consider that option.
You might visit Costco and stock up on finger foods in the frozen food section - some just need to be defrosted to serve.
But, again, there is more than just the food.
Who will be setting up the food and making sure items stay filled?
Do you have chafing dishes, sternos, large serving trays?
What about ice, ice containers and drinks?
Most importantly, who is in charge of making sure the food stays at the right temperature so no one gets sick?
It takes a lot of work to make sure the meal is set and served well. It can be extremely stressful (just think about trying to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for 12 people!)
There are lots of options for caterers to find a meal that fits your budget and is prepared and served professionally.
We're going to put the wedding meal in the No category for DIY.
Elaborate wedding cake, pies, donuts, mini dessert bar - there are so many options for dessert at your wedding.
If you aren't set on a large, multi-tier wedding cake, a DIY option for dessert could be pretty simple.
Pick up a few dozen of your favorite donuts and pile them on plates or stands.
Choose a few favorite kinds of cookies, brownies, etc. from a local bakery and display on a table.
We don't recommend trying to transport a multi-tier cake, but a few different small cakes from a bakery can be set as a cake bar. Keep the design simple to reduce issues with transport.
We're voting Yes for DIY on dessert - there are a lot of options!
Flowers often make up a big part of your wedding decor - and a big part of your budget.
The bridal bouquet, bouquets for bridesmaids, boutonnieres for the guys, corsages and boutonnieres for family members, arbor decor, centerpieces - there is a long list of items for floral.
Could you DIY the flowers? Possibly. It definitely takes design skills to pull the items together - not all of us have that talent!
If you are just doing bouquets and centerpieces, you could pick them up from a florist and set them up at the venue. That could save on the setup cost if you have a good team of family and friends to help.
What about silk flowers? Silk flowers that look as beautiful as real flowers are probably going to cost about the same. They don't die like real flowers, but do you need 8 bouquets and 20 centerpieces after your wedding?
If you want to include flowers on the arbor, ceiling, etc. you are going to need someone who knows how to attach the flowers and stay within the guidelines the venue has for installation. (We all know that person in our life who can make anything stay with the right amount of screws and duct tape, but the venue probably doesn't allow that.)
A professional florist brings much more than the flowers to your wedding.
They have access to more types of flowers than what you can pick up at Costco or Trader Joe's. That makes it much easier to get the color and type of flowers you are dreaming of.
Florists have the design skills. It's why they do it! The bouquets, centerpieces, etc. will be gorgeous.
Florists also have access to lots of vases, centerpiece bowls, candles and more to put together gorgeous tablescapes.
They bring the team to set everything up (while you enjoy time with your bridal party) and they come back to clean up the floral at the end of the night.
If you are planning more than just simple bouquets or centerpieces, we recommend a NO to DIY for flowers.
Your wedding decor is often made up of more than just the flowers. Candles, lanterns, welcome table decor, favors, seating charts - there are lots of places to add personal touches to your wedding.
The tables for your reception are usually the main focus for decor. Are there options for DIY decor? Absolutely.
You can purchase lanterns, votives, candles and more to decorate your tables. Make sure you have a great team of friends and family to help set all the decor - it can take much longer than you think!
Purchasing your own decor can give you more options to truly customize your decor - especially if you want to showcase some color.
With access to Canva or Vistaprint, it's become much easier to create beautiful signage and seating charts for your wedding.
Make sure you think through the details of who is setting up, where boxes will be stored during the wedding, who is cleaning up and that you have all the easels, candles, etc. you need.
With a good plan, we vote Yes to DIY for decor.
Do you need a DJ for your wedding?
Maybe you have a friend who is good with music.
Could you just put a playlist on your phone with a speaker?
A DJ does a lot more than just play music for dancing.
They provide the speakers and mics for the ceremony - not just for their music, but for the officiant and anyone else singing or speaking during the ceremony.
They are experts at timing music as you walk down the aisle and have access to instrumental versions of tons of songs. That lets you customize your ceremony.
They provide music throughout cocktail hour, dinner and dancing.
They also help with announcements to keep the flow of the day moving.
Because a DJ provides much more than just music, we vote NO to DIY music.
Hopefully this list will get you started with your wedding planning and knowing what you want to DIY vs. hire a professional.
If you are looking for some great North Georgia wedding vendors, check out some of our favorites here.
Pleasant Union Farm is a family owned wedding venue in North Georgia, about an hour north of Atlanta.