Thursday, November 16, 2017

Amanda's Magical Bachelorette Weekend (aka "The Best Harry Potter-Themed Bachelorette You'll Find Online. Period.")

When my cousin/best friend first asked me to be her Maid of Honor almost two years ago, we immediately began discussing the bachelorette party. We bounced around locations like Miami (which rekindled my love of Will Smith bops for a good week), then we considered something all-inclusive like Mexico, and eventually we landed on...Orlando. Universal Studios. More specifically (as if the title of this blog post didn't already clue you in): Harry Potter-themed. This party was going to be a total nerd-fest, and as an interior designer with a knack for crafting, I was determined to make it the best goddamn nerd-fest that ever landed in the state of Florida. Thus began my two month party planning spree.

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The problem with excessive planning is that it's really hard to keep it all a secret. So before I continue with more pictures, I want to thank my mom again for listening to all my brainstorming phone calls. I also want to thank my friends (and fellow bridesmaids) for keeping up the lie that my flight into Florida was arriving five hours later than it actually did, which helped me set everything up for the big reveal. They didn't let the bride catch on to anything, and that made the surprise that much better. Was the bride beyond the point of hangry when my plane finally fake landed? Yes. But did it all turn out flawlessly and better than I had ever envisioned? Also, yes.

I first announced the trip to the bridal party with the below invite, which was posted to our group's Facebook page. Little did they know (or, they did know because they know me), this was only the beginning.

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As the trip got closer, I set up a special surprise for the bride and bridesmaids. After waiting all these years, the ladies finally got their Hogwarts letters (cue the adult girl squealing).  The letter came complete with a supply list, ticket to Platform 9-3/4, and Minerva McGonagall's handwritten signature in emerald ink - shit, I even wrapped that envelope in twine because I don't do anything half way. The only thing I couldn't manage was authentic owl delivery.

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Then came the fun part: the partayyy. When the girls arrived to the room (and the bride at this point still had no idea that I had been there for half the day already), they first encountered the Fat Lady and had to provide a password to get into the room. My creativity had run dry by this point, and the best I could come up with was "Alohomora." Then came the room reveal, and my months of planning finally got the surprised reaction I had been anticipating.  

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The room itself was a family suite at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which I booked because it was not only big enough for our group, but it also had a nice bar situation for our party spread.

As part of the Welcome Feast, I got a mix of regular and gluten-free bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes (which our gluten-sensitive bride quite enjoyed) and I embellished them with some Harry Potter glasses cupcake toppers. The spread also included Golden Snitch truffles and green mimosas. It turns out that the green mimosas not only related back to the wedding color scheme (navy blue, white, and pops of lime green), but they also looked pretty potion-like. You gotta love when things work double time like that.

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The bar menu was a result of my pun-loving self waking up in the middle of the night, and giggling like a crazy person as I got all the jokes out of my brain while still in a state of half slumber. It read:

Mad-Eye "Mule"-dy
Similar to a Moscow Mule, just more constantly vigilant

Avada Ke-"Vodka"
A traditional vodka soda, but deserving of a warning. The bartender makes them strong, so one too many may leave you lifeless on the floor.

Wingardium Mimosa
This specialty mixture of orange juice and Felix Felicis infused champagne will make you feel like you're floating on air.

Expecto "Patron"-um
Dementors got you down? One shot of tequila and a happy thought is all you need.

Elf-Made Wine
No house elves were harmed in the making of this product. We are proud members of S.P.E.W. here at the Three Broomsticks.

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The Elf-Made Wine was stored next to our bridal party version of the Weasley family clock (hand painted by yours truly) and some "Accio Wine" plastic cups.

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Adjacent to the bar and leading into the bedroom, I had made a variety of "Missing Wizard" posters featuring our bride's very own fiance (now husband). Thanks to his limited stock of selfies available on Facebook, I really had to dig deep for some of those photos...but I'm still pretty pleased with how it turned out (and the bride lurved it - major plus).

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Hiding in the bedroom were the only boys allowed to the party: Horny Harry and Ron Sleazy. These ab-tastic wizards were a big hit for photo ops and a point of envy of all the ladies when we took them to the beach later in the weekend. A particularly bold woman may have even straddled Ron at some point and stolen his innocence, but I will neither confirm nor deny that.

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As we all know, bachelorette parties tend to be a no holds barred rollercoaster of debauchery...so it only made sense that I had to lay some ground rules first.  I did so under the guise of Dolores Umbridge and her infamous "Educational Decrees," which were posted outside the bathroom.  Additional bathroom fun included Moaning Myrtle in the vanity mirror, Ginny Weasley's Chamber of Secrets message (written in smeared lipstick, not real blood...I do draw the line somewhere), and a "Ministry of Magic This Way" decal on the toilet seat lid.

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The Umbridge Proclamations read as follows:

Educational Decree #3 - (The Bride) has been appointed to the post of Hogwarts High Inquisitor.

Educational Decree #10 - There will be no lewd behavior permitted in this room.

Educational Decree #16 - All members of the bridal party will submit to questioning about suspected illicit activities.

Educational Decree #15 - Any bride or bridesmaid found to (not) be in possession of alcohol will be expelled.

Educational Decree #26 - The bride is hereby banned from working, worrying, stressing out, and partaking in thoughts and activities that are not strictly related to subjects of fun, relaxation, and lack of sobriety.

Education Decree #5 - Those wishing to join the bridal party for a good time may sign up in the High Inquisitor's office.

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Circling back to the living room, I had made the girls a "Daily Prophet" newsletter that provided the itinerary for the weekend, hashtags for the party (#MuggletoMontez #SheWhoMustNotBeTamed #TheWitchisGettingHitched #AmandasMagicalBachelorette), as well as a couple of challenges and party games.  One of those challenges was a scavenger hunt game, where the girls could complete certain tasks to earn House Points.  I had outlined the task list inside of - you guessed it - a Marauder's Map.

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Prior to the party, I had all the girls use the Pottermore website to sort themselves into Houses and discover their Patronus identity. They had no idea, but I was using this information to customize the front of our maps, which read "Madames Speedy, Splashy, Misty, Flipper, and Stealth are proud to present the Maurader's Map" with each nickname being inspired by the animals we matched to. I also created a custom map graphic of the hotel property and Universal Studios grounds for the inside. The finishing touch was aging the paper by baking it in the oven with wet coffee grounds. Side Note: I hate the smell of coffee. Not just hate, despise. A simple whiff of the stuff is enough to send me dry heaving, so ultimately, my apartment was uninhabitable for weeks.


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Once all the excitement had worn down and the girls had absorbed all the surprises I had hidden throughout the room, I presented them with their gift bags. When putting the bags together, my goal was to curate items that the girls would use throughout the weekend and on the day of the wedding while we were getting ready. I also made the choice to personalize everything with each girl's name or initials rather than "Bridesmaid" or "Bride" so that the items could be used after the wedding, if they wished. The contents included:
  • A navy blue and white striped beach bag with rope handles (very on brand with the nautical wedding theme), personalized with each girl's initials in silver
  • A blue beach towel with lime green embroidery, personalized with each girl's name and the hashtag #SheWhoMustNotBeTamed
  • A set of blue and silver hair ties, wrapped around a card that read "To Have and To Hold Your Hair Back" (perfect for when we were riding rollercoasters the next day)
  • A personalized shot glass
  • A personalized drink tumbler
  • A "Mischief Managed" hangover kit that had items like dramamine, tylenol, mouth wash, and breath mints
  • A personalized keychain fob with ID holder and coin purse (these were great for the park as well, so we didn't have to carry a bag or have things in our pockets)
  • A personalized drink badge, that had the name of each girl's favorite drink to order at the bar
  • A bridal party t-shirt, to wear to the park
  • Custom bridal party tattoos

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One of the bridesmaids helped provide some additional special gifts for the bride, as well. Because let's be honest...is it really a bachelorette party if lingerie didn't come into play at some point? No. The answer is no.

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As we explored The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the second day of our trip, we could be found wearing matching navy blue t-shirts that read "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good," and I must have done one hell of a job designing those because we were asked at least a dozen times what gift shop we had found them in. It wasn't until we turned around that people realized the shirts weren't a gift shop purchase at all.

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The number on each bridesmaid's shirt represented the number of years that she had known the bride, while the bride's shirt had her wedding date on it. Our bride got many congratulations from well-wishers throughout the day, and while we ran into many other bachelorette parties that day, I have to say that I think we were the best dressed (no bias here).

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While it was definitely humid that day - as is to be expected in Florida during the month of June - we really couldn't have asked for more perfect weather while we roamed and played throughout the park. That is...until we were preparing to leave.

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Just as we had made the decision to head towards the shuttle and go back to our hotel, the heavens opened up and slammed us with one of those crazy Florida storms. And that was when I realized how much I love these girls that I call my best friends, because rather than bitch and moan about the situation, we embraced the craziness and casually walked through the rain like it wasn't even happening.  Sure, we got absolutely soaked to the bone (and yes, the bus ride was freezing as a consequence), but we got a really good story out of the whole deal. No complaints here.

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Thanks again, ladies, for embracing the madness and helping me throw one hell of a weekend celebration. It made all the stress and crafting carpal tunnel worth it! You girls are the best.

Always,

- K

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