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Q. My husband and I were recently married in a very small ceremony in Hawaii and afterwards spent our honeymoon visiting a few islands. Now that we’re back with family and friends and starting our lives together, we want to throw a big backyard party that’s casual and inexpensive as our substitute reception. Please help us with ideas.
-Party Potential

A. Extend the environment you enjoyed at your wedding and have a luau party with your friends and family. Send out invites that show the theme and ask guests to dress for a Hawaiian party. (Of course, be ready for plenty of bad, loud shirts on the men, but that’s part of the fun!)

Create a menu that is easy to prepare. Look for foods you can make a day or few days ahead of time and marinate pork, chicken and other meat the night before; it will be a little less expensive than serving fish. Put someone in charge of the BBQ duty so you and your new husband can enjoy the party. For dessert, carve a large watermelon into a basket shape and fill scooped out space with fresh fruit like pineapple, mango and of course watermelon. Instead of cake and pie, serve fuss-free cupcakes. If you choose to make the food yourselves, rather than hire a caterer, then consider hiring a bartender/server(s) to help serve food and drinks. They can usually be found at local cooking or bartending schools for about $20-25 and hour.

Have games like a limbo stick ready and give the girls and guys fake grass skirts to wear while dancing. There are plenty of string lights, tiki torches, servingware and party accessories to pull together a fun, affordable luau theme event to help extend the celebration of your wedding. Create a music play list of beach songs, traditional hula music, and add in the theme of Hawaii 5-O.

The invites (from

Checkerboard SanLori Designs

For the table (from

hula honey' cocktail napkins multi-colored plastic palm tree glasses - set of 6  Merchant2 Graphics Products Large 15198

Set the scene (umbrella cover from

Nylon Umbrella Cover

Hang tiki lights and hand out leis and hula skirts to complete the luau atmosphere. And have fun!

Q: I love your site and know that since my question involves your home city, you will have all kinds of great ideas. I will be in New York City for my honeymoon from November 11-16. My fiance and I would appreciate any ideas on what to wear. We plan to do some shopping while we’re there, but want to look fashionable and still be comfortable and weather-appropriate while shopping and touring the city. What would work for walking around Central Park/the city? Going to the theater? We would also love any particular recommendations you’d have for wear to go, eat, etc. Thanks!
- New York Bound Bride-to-be

A. These are my favorite questions to answer since they have to do with my favorite place in the world-my home, New York City. Since it’s November, the weather can sometimes be unpredictable. I am usually enjoying my last days of playing tennis outdoors and still riding my bike with a fleece pullover. So bring a jacket, some sweaters and pull out your chic low heeled boots for walking around the city. Skip the athletic sneakers and pack a stylish pair of Pumas, Adidas or Converse for days when you’ll really want to explore the city. Add peep toe heels or a fab pair of pumps for evening. Pack dark jeans, a few sweaters, a jacket (not a coat-it’s too early) or a belted trench that hits just below the knee so it’s perfect for dresses and skirts (I love my Burberry trench-it was a well-worth-it investment piece), a few pairs of pants, a dress for dinners out, a day dress that can be worn with tights and low heeled boots for a day of shopping around the city, a skirt that will work with several tops and layering pieces, a white button down shirt, a great belt to wear with pants or belted around a dress, and accessories like an Hermes scarf (or something like it) and jewelry. Your husband should definitely pack a sport coat for some dinners and to wear to a Broadway show or other events plus a few sweaters including one he can wear under the sport coat.

For shopping:

Uptown/Midtown - Check out the high prices and finesse of New York’s favorite department stores with a stroll through Barneys on Madison Avenue and Bergdorf’s on Fifth.

For a short shopping spree and lunch, head to the Meatpacking district and weave up and down 12th through 14th between Gansevoort and Washington. Stop by Stella McCartney and Jeffrey’s. Have lunch at Son Cubano, Nero or Markt for mussels and Belgium fries or a piece of pie at the Little Pie Company. Or, have a drink at the chic Hotel Gansevoort.

SoHo is easy to navigate and has become the closest we get to an outdoor mall with everything from boutiques like Scoop and Olive & Bettes to known shops like Anthropologie and Prada. Stop at Dos Caminos for margaritas and made to order guacamole.

NoLIta and Lower East Side are the “of the moment” places to shop (although we New Yorkers have known about it for years) so head east from SoHo and wander into the little boutiques in search of something hip and chic to purchase.

Q. My husband and I moved into a new house with a great yard this past Spring. We’re planning our first party and we want it to be outdoors since it’s summertime and we love to BBQ. I want to impress my guests with a sit down dinner outside, but want them to mingle around the yard as well. I need ideas! I’ve been unpacking boxes for so long I feel like my head is full of cardboard. Oh, and I’d like to give a party favor as well.
-Destination Outside

A. I’ve got several ideas to help get you started with your party planning. Whether you have a clambake, grill the usual burgers and hot dogs or create a signature cold summer drink, there are a few extra touches to help complete the success of the party. Why not bring a beach feeling to your backyard with these ideas:

Serving food like ribs or a clambake can be messy so use an oversized striped beach towel as a tablecloth. We love the ones from

Decorate for your clambake with lobster corn holders and a lobster pot to cook lobster or corn. The lobster pot can also double as a beer cooler. (both items below from

Le Creuset® 16-Quart Lobster StockpotLobster Corn-Pick Set, Set of 4

Set the scene with beach themed accessories like ‘pectin shell’ party lights and a clam shell toothpick holder with seashell toothpicks:

'pectin shell' party lightsclam shell toothpick holder

 Images Colorized 72037202 0051Q. I have many questions as the mother of the bride. October 20th wedding in New England - 3:00 pm - bridesmaids will wear cocktail length sage green dresses with chocolate sashes. Groomsmen will be in navy blazers and khaki colored dress slacks, white shirts with green Vineyard Vines ties. My daughter will be in a beautiful non-embellished ivory satin gown. Reception will be at a lodge-like venue. Not black tie but certainly not informal. I’ve posted the dress that I have ordered through Talbots. It also comes in midnight blue (which I’ve also purchased). I won’t decide between the 2 colors until I see what mink brown actually looks like. First, do you think the dress is dressy enough - the fabric is silk dupioni - the fit is great for me and I do not want to wear full-length. If so, what would you suggest for the color of the shoes and clutch for the brown dress? For the midnight blue dress? And what would you suggest for jewelry for that neckline? Wrap or should I have a jacket made while in the church?

-Color Quandry

A. As mother of the bride, you are clearly making good choices for your dress even with your multiple questions. It’s smart to have purchased both dress colors so you can try them on and determine which color is most flattering. For the brown, consider a bronze or coppery gold heel. And for the midnight navy you can probably get away with black, but a muted grey silver, gold heel or deep blue would give it more sass. As for coverage at the church, I’d suggest taking your final dress choice with you to department stores to see if you can find a jacket that works, but otherwise a lightweight wrap will surely work since it’s not a black tie affair. We love the lightweight ones from Love Quotes.

For jewelry, keep the pieces light, not chunky. For a necklace wear something pendant-like for the v-neck of the dress and choose earrings that are slightly larger with a possible drop effect. And consider thin bangle bracelets on one wrist. If you’re concerned about skipping hose to wear a peep toe, then I’d suggest indulging in a spray tan on your legs a day or two prior to the event. I’ve picked out several suggestions for shoes and jewelry as a guide.

Stick with golds, bronze and copper for the brown dress and silver and pewter hues for the navy dress:

BCBGirls LymaNine West HaelliReport Dione

1. BCBGirls Lyma, $92.95 at (also available in pewter)
2. Nine West Haelli, $82.95 at (also available in silver)
3. Report Dione, $178.95 at

Anna Beck Floating Circle NecklaceJulie Sandlau Smokey Quartz and Cubic Zirconia Drop Necklace Julie Sandlau Clear Cubic Zirconia and Champagne Zirconia Flower Drop Earrings

4. Anna Beck Floating Circle Necklace, $238 at
5. Julie Sandlau Smokey Quartz and Cubic Zirconia Drop Necklace, $127.99 at
6. Julie Sandlau Clear Cubic Zirconia and Champagne Zirconia Flower Drop Earrings, $198 at

Q. I’m in a real tangle here- I’ve been scouring the web for advice on the type of jeans I should be buying for my figure, with no luck! I have pretty skinny thighs (not skinny, skinny though) and I’m smallish on the hips. When I tend to buy jeans my butt always looks so flat. What type of jeans should I be buying to make my end look a little bigger? I know jeans with pockets on the back help, but what else?
-Flat Booty

A. You are among the majority of women who don’t like their butts, but you’ve got the right start. Look for jeans with patch pockets, meaning pockets put on top of the jeans, or seek out jeans with angled pockets and seams like James Jeans that are meant to give a curve to the rear. Pockets should be centered on your rear since pockets spaced farther apart will make your bottom look wider, and lower placed pockets (the ones that are longer than your butt) will make it look flatter. Some trouser jeans with no pockets at all can make your rear view instantly rounder. Also, skinny jeans will give the illusion of a slightly larger hip area and are a great option for someone with slim thighs.

Another tip: if you intend to buy jeans with Lycra or spandex, then be sure you don’t buy ones with too much stretch as it may lead to the unflattering condition known as “saggy diaper.”

Be ready to try on up to 20 pairs until you find a pair that satisfies your butt enhancing needs. Here are a few flattering styles to start with:

James Jeans Decker Darted Trouser in BisazzaJames Jeans Hector 5 Pocket Highrise in VenomTaverniti So Sergeant Pepper Skinny in RinseHudson Tucker Pin Ankle Jean in EternalTrue Religion Billy in Urban Cowboy

left to right, from James Jeans Decker Darted Trouser in Bisazza; James Jeans Hector 5 Pocket Highrise in Venom; Taverniti So Sergeant Pepper Skinny in Rinse, Hudson Tucker Pin Ankle Jean in Eternal; True Religion Billy in Urban Cowboy

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