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29 Sep

Election Party Must Haves

election party

Y’all, the election of the century is weeks away, and you know I’m already planning a small soiree with some bipartisan besties so we can watch the returns while stuffing our ballot boxes with savory bites and bubbles. Regardless of which direction you’re leaning, I think we can all reach a consensus that the shops are stocked with festive political-themed party goods. I’ve collected some of my favorite finds ranging from eye-roll inducing items to stuff so funny you’ll fillibust a gut laughing. (And laughter is definitely something we all support in 2020). So look, click, buy … and VOTE. It’s not just Facebook suggestion, the future of our democracy actually depends on it.

24 Jun

Plan the Perfect Girlfriend Getaway in Six Steps

I HAD to plan the perfect girlfriend getaway because if Beyoncé has taught us anything it is that girls rule the world – my world, at least. I’ve always been a girls girl. I am a daughter, a mother, a sorority sister and a diehard appreciator of and believer in women. If the Pink Ladies were real, I’d be wearing my pink satin bomber jacket every. single. day. 

So when I decided to throw a party to celebrate the girlfriends that supported me in my SoFortWorthIt journey, I went all in. My idea: Hosting a girls-only getaway at our family lake house on beautiful Lake Texoma. Thank you to Captain Merle for driving this boat of boss babes. 

The goal of the weekend was to have fun, of course, but I also wanted it to be a ginormous “Thank You” to my girlfriends  — the ones who have been by my side. The one who have always shared, liked and followed, the ones who have cheered my successes, wiped my tears and welcomed me into the blogger world. Since my love language is acts of service and gift giving – I am the daughter of Next Level Hostess Carol Dunaway, after all – you know I had to make it EXTRA.

The weekend getaway I gifted to my girlfriends may have been a tad over-the-top, but the steps I followed to plan it could not have been more basic. No matter your budget or your timeframe, if you want to show your own squad some love, I share with you six easy steps to create a foolproof party plan.

1.  INVITATION

I have always believed that the invitation sets the tone for a party. And depending on the occasion, this is one place I love to go all out, because I get to express my love of entertaining and being creative. Hell, I’ve got to put that SMU art degree to some use every once in a while!

When designing a unique invitation, the first thing I do is figure out how to create my look as inexpensively as possible, so I hit the dollar store to gather ideas and to buy the necessary budget-friendly party items in bulk.

For this invite, everything revolved around the idea of a straw bag filled with beach gear. Thanks to the dollar store, I picked up a collection of vibrant totes, colorful flip-flops, fluffy towels and fun sunnies. I added little bottles of bubbles, tubes of sunscreen and glitter paper tags with satin ribbon and a little assist from Byrd + Bleecker and voila! An unforgettable invitation that’s useful, too!

2. GOODY BAGS

You can’t invite people to spend the weekend with you and not have some sort of gift for them. It doesn’t have to break the bank – it’s the thought that counts. My favorite spot to place a gift is on the guestroom pillow. Even high-end hotels know that even something as small as a mint on the pillow makes people feel appreciated.

For my girlfriends, my pillow treat was a goody bag filled with fab things. I worked with Mulholland and Company to design Wave Hog sunglasses straps and T-shirts, and of course I added some beauty products to the mix. My amazing friend Autumn brought the “Oh Shit Kits” for the guest amenity bags. Everything you needed for a weekend of drinking was in that bag! (will list items) –which is a great segue into the next topic.

Girls_weekend-goodies-6-lo-res

3. GIRLDFRIENDS WARDROBE

Lord knows I love a party with a theme. Whether you tell your friends to wear something specific or give them a prop or even a custom T, nothing gets guests into the mood quite like party wear.

Thanks to fashion entrepreneur Sheridan French we were almost all matching. Caftans are the ultimate in cocktail couture, but they’re also amazing as après-swim coverups. Perfect for a weekend on the lake!

4. YUMMY FOOD

While some people put an olive in a martini and call it dinner, my girl gang loves to eat (and let’s get real, so do I!). Food is always the heart of any celebration, and I always like to go the extra mile for my guests, whether it’s serving something special like Marky’s Caviar, Champagne (my favorites!) or just putting the Oreos in a crystal bowl.

It’s always a challenge to provide for a group, and for my party, I took the easy route and brought my chef to the celebration along with a local server.  This took the burden of prepping and serving off of me and gave me the ability to relax with my friends and truly be present. For me, it was all about an effortless weekend, even though there was a ton of effort that went into it.

The menu Chef Marissa created was incredible, and since it was my party, you know I made it “Christy-Dietary-Restriction-Friendly.” (Think Vromage vegan cheese on the cheeseboard.) Chef Marissa prepared so many tasty vegan options, that I caught many of the ladies partaking in “my food” versus the “real food.” Which just proves that if you do plant-based food right, no one will ever notice.

Girls_weekend-61-lo-res

I am a superfan of party theme cookies, and I love having edible creations at each of my events. For my best girlfriends, I called on the ubertalented Karen Wade of the Velvet Crumb to create hand-stenciled painted cookies that were not only yummy, they were helpful – I used them as place cards.

5. EVENING ENTERTAINMENT

Drinking is fun, but at some point, you have to have a plan that goes beyond popping a cork. Evenings are the perfect time to unveil that plan, and after-dinner activities are my jam. It helps the evening last a bit longer and it staves off any kind of after-dinner lull. Here are the activities I planned for our days at the lake:

Left Right Center

This gambling dice game is action-packed and always results in oohs, aaahs and screams. It doesn’t hurt that someone ends up with a big pot of money at the end! To smoothly orchestrate this game, I asked everyone to bring $20 in cash (or Venmo! I’m a modern girl after all!). I came prepared to turn all those crisp ATM bills into stripper cash – meaning $1 bills, y’all. Thinking through the process in advance allowed for an organized game of LRC. We play this every Christmas with our family, and it has now become a Smith Family tradition.

Merry Christymas (Get it?)

I thought it would be fun to host a “Merry Christymas” gift exchange as a way to show my appreciation to my friendships with this great group of women and to also, I won’t lie, have a little shopping fun myself.I scoured my gift closet, the ‘net and even did a little local shopping to curate a collection of treats that ranged from really funny to really luxe. I provided all the gifts, and everyone drew numbers, just like a traditional holiday gift exchange. If you know me at all I do like a splash of dirty in my martini, with my girls of course! Here were a few of my favorite sussies I scooped up for my crew. Warning: There’s a hint of dirty in this martini! 

6.  GIRLFRIENDS DANCE PARTY 

“All right stop/Collaborate and listen … !” That Vanilla Ice ditty is timeless, and IMHO it never fails to get your girl gang going. It’s all part of a kick-ass playlist – a must-have at any party. I always go for the Old School, but if you’re a Belieber and your friends are, too, I say go for it. 

Girls_weekend-243-lo-res

I loved pulling out every stop to celebrate my girlfriends at our epic Thank You Weekend Lakehouse Getaway, but I hope you know it doesn’t matter how much you spend or how much time you can afford to take, what is in your heart and who’s close to it is what matters. We as women spend so much time criticizing ourselves. It’s time we gave ourselves some love and shared our appreciation with the women who support us, guide us and give us life. It’s about sisterhood, uplifting women, giving back and loving on each other. Satin jackets or not, we are all Pink Ladies!

SoFortWorthIt GIVEAWAY!

To all my Girls Girls out there and the Mrs. Ropers, too – who wants to win a Sheridan French caftan?

Enter below for your chance to win!

3 May

Celebrating 20 Years of Marriage: A Look Back on Our Wedding Day

Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000

April 8th marked our 20th year as Mrs. & Mrs. Jason Smith. It’s been a whirlwind two decades for sure. While some days have seemed like they’d never end, mostly the years have joyfully flown by with unrelenting speed, despite my valiant efforts to slow everything down to savor every drop of love and laughter as my boys grow up.

Now that we have all been on lockdown during this global pandemic for the last two months, the one bright spot for me and my family is that I finally got that slow-down I’ve been craving. During these weeks, with the big parties, playdates and endless school sports gone, it’s just been me and Jason and our boys, all day, every day. And even though it’s been positively crazy adjusting to the new norm, it’s been manageable, and I have Jason to thank for that.

Jason is my rock and the glue to our family. He has a consistent, even-kill personality that exudes positivity, even during the most stressful times, he is calm and looks to the bright side. He isn’t controlling and he gives me room and space to be 100% me, including putting up with the messy piles of projects and stuff that accumulate in our home. As I reflect back to our wedding day 20 years ago, I’ve been thinking more and more about how much he means to me, not just as an amazing dad and the head honcho of our home, but as a person. As my husband. I can’t imagine doing this life without him.

The Early Years

It was 1992 when we first locked eyes at a stoplight right in front of Hulen Mall. You can read the full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article on how we met HERE. We were friends first because – obvi! I was 17 and a sophomore in high school, and he was 25 — an old fart man with his own apartment and his own business. Although it wasn’t love at first sight, we did become friends, and we’d meet up for lunch or dinner every once in a while, always in a group with my friends.

Then one day, just after New Year’s in 1996, he called me out of the blue. I was now a student at SMU and living in my grandparent’s guest house in Preston Hollow. I just so happened to be planning a dinner party at Sipango in Dallas, so I invited him to join. At the time, I had a boyfriend that I had been trying to break up for a while because the relationship wasn’t going anywhere. But I wasn’t thinking about that when I invited Jason to join us. I really was just being nice!

I still remember the moment I opened my door. I forgot to mention this, but when Jason and I first met in the early ‘90s, he had this long hair – I mean, middle-of-the-back long. I am a pretty preppy, conservative girl, and dating someone who seemed separated at birth from Kid Rock was NOT my jam. But here he was, four years later, standing at my doorstep, looking totally clean-cut and hot with his big green eyes and megawatt smile. I remember thinking, “Holy moly, I have to fast-track my breakup – this guy is YUMMY!”

By the next month, Jason and I were officially a couple. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing to the altar. For the next two and a half years, I had to date every eligible bachelor in Dallas and Fort Worth before we could be exclusive!

Christy Dunaway's 21st Birthday at Sipango Restaurant in Dallas 1996
Christy Dunaway Smith SMU Delta Gamma
Christy Dunaway Smith SMU Delta Gamma
Christy Dunaway Smith SMU Delta Gamma

Let me explain. I was a Fort Worth Steeplechase debutante, which required me to attend countless events and parties from October 1996, to May 1997. My mom wanted me to attend every other party with someone other than Jason. Then, I made my debut as a Dallas Symphony debutante, which started the entire process over again, but this time, I couldn’t bring Jason as my date to anything. For more than two years, I was living this surreal double life, not as a spy but as a deb! Some days I attended two and three parties, back-to-back! It was a good thing I turned down the opportunity to make my Idlewild presentation in Dallas in 1998 (I sometimes regret in hindsight), and my presentation at the International Debutante Ball in New York City. Becoming a professional debutante was not high on my list.

1996 Fort Worth Assembly presentation with Bryan King and Christy Dunaway
1996 Steeplechase Debutant Ball Christy Dunaway
Steeplechase Debutant Ball 1996 Carol and Jim Dunaway Christy Dunaway

For Jason to be able to put up with my extreme social schedule, well, it was just phenomenal. He was never jealous, and he never made me feel awkward. He never criticized my decision to debut, he just stood by me, secure in himself and in us. I knew he was the one after he passed the crazy societal test with flying colors! 

The Proposal

After more than three years of dating, he proposed to me, at Golden Eagle Inn, our favorite restaurant, while we were vacationing in Beaver Creek, Colorado with friends and family. As he read these wonderful words to me, all I could think about was: Cue the wedding planning! My mom and I went into hyperdrive mode to plan an unforgettable celebration for our closest family and friends, with the ceremony at University Christian Church and the reception at my parent’s home. 

Marriage proposal at Golden Eagle Inn Restaurant in Beaver Creek, Colorado
Marriage proposal at Golden Eagle Inn Restaurant in Beaver Creek, Colorado
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000

Just two weeks before we were scheduled to tie the knot, the epic tornado of 2000 ravaged the Westside of Fort Worth, plowing through Monticello and down 7th Street and eventually slamming into downtown. The tornado had actually touched down across the field in front of my parents’ house and tore through the neighborhood, but for some reason, it lifted up just before reaching their property. It was an absolutely devastating moment for many people on the west side of Fort Worth, and I don’t know what we would have done had our reception zone turned into a disaster zone, but thanks to God’s Grace, we were able to keep moving forward with our focus on the Big Day.

Getting Ready on the Big Day

So many memories flooded in while I worked through all our wedding pictures. It was an all-day production for me and my bridal party, beginning at the home of one of my parents’ best friends. Kim Rozell of Dallas, makeup artist to the stars, and her assistant made the entire wedding party look camera-ready. And Christy Michaelis, who had been doing my hair since high school, got everyone coifed in no time flat. After brunching and beautifying, we all headed to the church to get dressed, final touch-ups and pre-ceremony photography.

Dallas designer Michael Faircloth made all of the bridesmaid’s dresses, the flower girl’s dress, my gown and my mom’s. Also, that is Karen Briggs with Lilly Dodson retail store in Highland Park Village in Dallas helping me with my veil.

Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Michael Faircloth and Karin Briggs with Lilly Dodson of Dallas helps Christy Dunaway on her wedding day
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000

The Wedding Ceremony

Three, two, one … The doors opened to the sound of Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary — aka classic bridal music — being played on the University Christian Church organ.  Because both my parents were such an equal and integral part of my upbringing, I wanted my mom to walk me down the aisle, too. Dr. Scott Colglazier and Dr. Ted Kitchens officiated our ceremony, and during the 30-minute ceremony, I cried tears of sadness (not having my maternal grandmother be alive to see me get married) but also – and mostly — tears of joy.

Christy Dunaway wedding 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Morris Gene and Charlene Smith Family Fort Worth Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
James R Dunaway Punkin and Sally Dunaway Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Francis Warren Winn Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Ted Kitchens Scott Colglazier Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000

The Reception

It was 8:30 by the time our wedding party arrived at my parent’s home for the reception. I remember being completely surprised and shocked by the most amazing sight. The side of their yard had been transformed into a tented wonderland, complete with floral candelabras, chandeliers and footmen dressed in 17th-century attire in powdered wigs.

Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000

Just when I thought I could sit down and enjoy myself for a bit, I had to snap back to the demanding schedule of standard wedding traditions before I could relax and cut loose. First thing’s first: the important dances. We kicked it off with our official first dance as Mr. and Mrs. Smith. And then, of course, came the father-daughter dance and mother and son dance and so on.

Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Jim Dunaway Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Charlene K Smith Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000

Next on the wedding reception timeline was the cake cutting and the Champagne toast. And let me tell you, this might have been one of my favorite parts of the evening. For years I had dreamed of having Sylvia Weinstock – called the “Queen of Cakes” by the New York Times– make my wedding cake. I mean, if her gorgeous wedding gateaus were good enough for Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, one would work for me, too! I told my mom about this dream, and she thought it was a great idea. We booked a flight to NYC and met with the legend herself. She listened to all our ideas, and my mom and I sampled a lot of cake. Just that experience alone was such a treasure.

When it was time to cut the wedding cake and enjoy our first bite as husband and wife, a plate and forks were nowhere to be found. So in true Christy fashion, I didn’t want to wait, so I didn’t: I ate the slice of cake right off the cake knife!

Sylvia Weinstock Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Sylvia Weinstock Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Sylvia Weinstock Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000

Jason and I thought it would be fun to have the groom’s cake shaped like our first house, which was still under construction. It was fitting since, at the time, Jason was the owner of Jason Smith Custom Homes and he was the contractor building our home. We shipped off a set of elevation plans to New York City so the “Queen of Cake,” Sylvia Weinstock, could build our home out of cake and buttercream. (Weinstock’s made cakes for Kim Kardashian and Martha Stewart and has appeared on Netflix’s Nailed It!).

Fun fact: Sylvia sent an assistant to accompany our cake on the flight from New York City to Dallas. Each section had its own box and its own seat on the plane. When the plane landed at DFW, my parents had a rented refrigerated truck waiting to pick up the cakes and the assistant. They drove to my parents’ house, where she began the assembly process and made some final decorating touches – she then flew back to New York City, all in the same day!

Sylvia Weinstock Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Sylvia Weinstock cake for Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Sylvia Weinstock Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Sylvia Weinstock Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000

One of these things that were really important to us on our wedding day was to still have everyone at the reception when it was time for us to leave. I knew that if we stayed until the very end to enjoy our own wedding, there would be a skeletal crowd left. So as soon as we cut the cakes, we prepared a “faux departure” so we could capture all of the excitement on camera and on film.

We loaded into a horse-drawn carriage and did a champagne toast as our band positioned themselves behind the carriage to perform, “When The Saints Go Marching In.” Everyone at the reception had been given silver mint julep cups filled with rose petals (which doubled as their party favors). Amidst the rose petals and the music, we began our journey from one end of the circle drive to the next – right back to the reception, where we got out of the carriage and partied the night away!

Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000

Ahhh, now that all the boxes were checked off our “I Do To-Do” list, it was time to have some real fun. I finally got to take my veil off and my wedding coat. Yes, I was wearing two dresses! The coat was actually my train, which I didn’t want to bustle for the reception. After removing the wedding coat, I had a more simplified floor-length dress underneath, which allowed me to cut loose on the dance floor!

T-Byrd Gordon rocked the reception and we danced until midnight – until, in true Christy fashion (yet again) — I grabbed the mic and, as the last notes of the last song faded, I yelled, “I’m ready to consummate this marriage!” The expression on Jason’s face was priceless!

T Byrd Gordon Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000 T Byrd Gordon Band Jim Dunaway
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000 T Byrd Gordon Band
T Byrd Gordon Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000

NEVER BEFORE SEEN BONUS FOOTAGE:

Ok, I know this is the longest blog post ever. It was actually supposed to end here, but while I was going through my wedding box and digging through my parent’s storage for photos, I came across some never before seen photos. There were just a few of them. I flipped one over and found a photographer’s name and number from Dallas on the back. I called and gave her all the info I had for the wedding. She was doubtful she could find these in her archives.

Within twenty-four hours she got back to me in total excitement. She told me that our wedding was one of the first digital shots she had done and still had the photos. All forty-four of them. I was so excited, I could hardly stand it. I’ll spare you by not posting all of them, but here is a wonderful selection that captures the moment before people arrived.

Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Sylvia Weinstock Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000
Dunaway Smith Wedding Fort Worth 2000

Growing up, my mom gave me an invaluable piece of advice. Actually, two pieces of advice. One: Marry a nerd. Two: Marry someone who loves you more than you love them. Well, I definitely didn’t marry a nerd, but Jason was by far the freshest breath of fresh air compared to all the poop heads I had wasted my energy on. The love scale has definitely balanced over the years, and I just feel so blessed to still be in love with him. He makes being married so easy.

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into our wedding day, as much as I enjoyed sharing it. It’s hard to believe this precious day was twenty years ago. I prayed since I was a little girl that one day I would find a Godly man, a good man, a kind man, and the right man. Jason is that man – in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. Then, now and always.

SoFortWorthIt GIVEAWAY!

Speaking of brides and wedding dresses, I have something very special to share with you. During these unprecedented times, many businesses have switched gears to develop innovative ways to keep their businesses afloat while also helping our community.  That’s exactly what Stanley Korshak Bridal has done. “Hopeful Heart” is the beloved bridal boutique’s new venture, and owner Mackenzie Brittingham launched the nonprofit to produce elegant-yet-essential face masks for the general public and front-line workers.

Sewn by the boutique’s talented seamstresses, Hopeful Heart offers three different styles: a fleece one-piece with ear holes, a pleated cotton mask with elastic loops and space for you to add a filter, and a cotton double-layer design with a wire sewn inside so you can shape the mask to your face and also space for you to add a filter. Prices vary by design from $6.30 to $25, and they’re sold in multipacks. All masks are black, and all have a precious little red heart embroidered at the bottom corner (a perfect touch!). But here’s the best part: For every mask pack you purchase, Hopeful Heart will donate a box of masks to medical workers, police departments and other front-line workers. It’s the very best of bridal, beauty and BoGo! To order, go to www.mackenziebrittingham.com

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