Saturday 30 June 2018

Iowa City, IA Indian Fusion Wedding

Where there is love, there is light." This expression has been spinning in my head as I started to revel through all the images captured by Emily Crall Photography of Maharani Melanie and Dan's fusion Indian wedding. This doting story can only be serialized as romantic and whimsical, so come with us darlings, as we divulge into all the details. Just like all other weddings, a fusion wedding is full to the brim with rituals and traditions. Melanie knew the importance of fusing her family's background from Chennai into her big day. She opted for an elegant bridal look that channeled a South Indian bride; a raw silk red and gold saree with complimenting gold jewelry and a long braid infused with fresh flowers.

With hair styled by Eden Salon and subtle makeup emphasizing bold, red lips by Susie Morales, this bride flawlessly executed her dream look. The outdoor Indian ceremony was charming and exquisite, accented with my favorite spirit animal - elephants.

With bold floral, a unique mandap and a setup that was just as exhilarating as the bride, Adam Covington Signature Studio certainly knew their way behind a pair of shiny shears. The garden at
The Celebration Farm is the perfect outdoor area for a fusion event and it was a beautiful day in Iowa City which made for the photos captured by Emily Crall Photography that much more enchanting. Coordinator for this fusion event was spearheaded by LOLA Event Productions and you can find all the images floating in the gallery ! 

Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!

I was so excited. I had seen a couple of months ago that Once, a movie I loved, had been made into a Broadway show and it was coming to the Kennedy Center in DC. I had asked my then-boyfriend, Dan, if he'd like to go with me and he said a casual "Sure!" Since then, though, I had forgotten all about it and started planning other things to do for the summer. Then, out of nowhere, Dan said nonchalantly he had gotten tickets for the show and I was pleasantly surprised and so glad he had remembered.

We had a chance to relax and get a drink before the theater doors were opened so we enjoyed sitting at the outside terrace of Kennedy Center. It was a comfortably warm, summer evening and it was perfect.

I've always tried to catch celestial happenings when I could and I had heard earlier in the week that the Perseid Meteor shower was going to happen and the East Coast had the perfect skies for it. I had told Dan we should try and see them after the show. As we walked out, Dan said "Hey, want to check out those meteors??" But, I was tired after a long day and said we really didn't have to even though I had mentioned it. Needless to say, Dan insisted and I agreed thinking it was a good opportunity after all and I really shouldn't miss it.

Dan said the National Mall would be a perfect place to see them so we parked and walked towards the Lincoln Memorial. In between each column, we peered out, looking to see if we saw anything until we got to the last column and then my right hand is taken and I'm swiveled around and Dan is on one knee!

I gasp and my head is kind of dizzy and I'm processing what is happening. But when I hear "Will you marry me?" I said "Yes!" and it was the most perfect moment. After a few minutes, Dan points out in the dark in front of us and I see one of our friends had been there taking pictures! I thought I had seen a familiar figure but was distracted just in time. I could not stop smiling or laughing and was truly in a daze. I could not be more happy, excited, and how the heck did you do this surprised and it was great. Still is!

How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?

I always knew I loved the classic South Indian bride look being our family is originally from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. I wanted to wear a red and gold sari with all the traditional temple jewelry and found a picture beautifully capturing that and showed this to one of my bridesmaids, Mira Bedi, who also owns a boutique and was helping me with all the outfits for the wedding. Using these ideas, we found the perfect look!
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?

One of my favorite parts of the planning process was settling in with my iPad and noting all the ideas I've had in my head as I've dreamt of my wedding day. I had envisioned so many details such as the floral elephants, the colorful drapery and flowers, the wands adorned with bells to wave as we celebrated our pronouncement of husband and wife. I was very happy I was able to take what I was wishing for and put it together with my great vendors. It was worth all the hours because the day was perfect and so beautiful and exactly how I had pictured it! The photos capture the colors, greenery and whimsy I wanted for the special day.

What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?

The most important thing to Dan and I was to make the entire wedding weekend an extension of our personalities. Down to the decor, the ceremony details, the outfits, the food and drink, and the music, we had a big hand in it all to make it as personal as possible. We wanted an explosion of color wherever we and our guests looked which was exactly what the day turned out with the beautiful flowers, lights and amazingly colorful Indian outfits we all wore. Since this was a fusion wedding, we wanted a mix of American and Indian culture, so we offered both cuisines at our reception so everyone could enjoy their familiar foods but also try something new! Dan and I have a common love of dancing and so we knew we wanted that to be a major part of our reception and so we mixed some Bollywood in with all of our favorite songs. Dan and I brainstormed to make it all lively, colorful and most importantly really represent us! Our family and friends told us they loved all the personal touches which made it all the more special for us!

Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?

Before our wedding, we held a Mendhi Karaoke night after our rehearsal dinner and our closest friends and family took the "stage" with Dan and I to belt out all of our favorite classics. It was such a memorable way to kick off the wedding festivities and the hilarity that ensued still is one of our favorite things to re-collect and laugh over. 

Since our wedding was a fusion wedding, I wanted all of our friends and family to have a chance to have mendhi designs on their hands since it is such a beautiful custom of Hindu weddings. My friends running up to show me the fun art they had gotten done is a great memory I have!

Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?

Always remember that "Where there is Love, there is Life"

By Emily Crall

Iowa Holidays and Festivals

It's no surprise that nearly all of Iowa holidays and fairs take place during the summer and fall months. From the big cities to little towns along the Mississippi, there is a music, art, food, or family event every weekend. The Iowa State Fair is a huge gathering, and one of America's oldest and biggest. But you'll find jazz, culture, and all kinds of other fun throughout the summer.

Des Moines Art Festival

Each June, the Western Gateway Park in downtown Des Moines is the venue for one of the state's top arts and crafts fairs. More than 150 artists set up stalls to show off and sell their creations to the public. The fair runs for three days and is free to enter. Three stages hold daily concerts and there are special activities to keep the kids occupied.

Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival

One of the big parties in the state occurs each June and July to coincide with America's Independence Day celebration. From June 21 to July 4, downtown Cedar Rapids enjoys daily parades, outdoor concerts, barbecue competitions, and more than 75 different family activities. This is Cedar Rapid's big event, and worth planning a trip around.

Burlington Steamboat Days

This all-American town along the banks of the Mississippi River holds one of Iowa's most popular music festivals every June. Outdoor stages are set up along the water, hosting a broad range of musical acts from jazz and blues to country and golden oldie groups. A parade, fireworks, and lots of kid-friendly events make this a fun festival for everyone.

Jazz in July

Iowa's top jazz fest happens in Des Moines every July. Most of the concerts are free, held indoors and outdoors at venues around the city. Dozens of musicians come to this respected event including world-renowned legends in the genre.

Iowa State Fair

Running for over 150 years, the Iowa State Fair is one of America's oldest and is widely considered the best in the country. And in a state that values farming as much as Iowa, are you surprised? From August 9-19, the fairgrounds of Des Moines are transformed into a massive carnival. There are amusement rides, live concerts, a livestock show, a huge arts show, plenty of hearty food, fireworks, and more.

Clay County Fair

Another strong contender for the best fair in Iowa happens every September at the Clay Country Fairgrounds in the little town of Spencer. Established more than a century ago, it's regarded by most locals as the must-see event of the year. It's a massive production with live concerts, chuck wagon races, rodeos, arts and crafts stalls, carnival food, and much more.

*culled from

5 wild food adventures in Indiana

• Jet boat dinner excursion
• Venison tacos
• Chefs foraged feast

Ready for a culinary adventure? Maybe some venison tacos or whole fried perch with a side of melted butter? Whether you want to eat persimmon pudding all day or take a jet boat deep down Kentucky Rivers for barbecue, you'll find it in Indianapolis or just a day trip away:

A Taste of the Wild Cookout

Arrive no later than 11 a.m., when the food stations open at this annual Indiana State Fair lunch. Food is usually gone within an hour to an hour-and-a-half, according to cookout insiders. This year expect venison sloppy joes, wild turkey kabobs, venison tacos, deep-fried Asian carp and barbecued beaver, among other dishes. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources puts on the event with help from the Indiana Wildlife Federation, Indiana Deer Hunters Association, Northwest Indiana Steelheaders and the National Wild Turkey Federation. Wildlife Federation stages the event to help educate the public about the state's vast array of wildlife.

Foraged feast

Wild ginger, evening primrose, purslane, chanterelle mushrooms, elderberry, amaranth, stinging nettles, wild grapes, jewelweed, Queen Anne's Lace, horsetail, goldenseal, burdock, lamb's quarters, chicory, wild yam, spicebush, pawpaw. If you made a grocery list of wild foods that grow during late summer in Indiana, that's what it might look like. A trio of seasoned foragers supply chef Neal Brown and his team at Stella for a dinner showcasing edible treasures from Indiana's forests. All proceeds benefit the Indiana Forest Alliance, whose mission is preserving and restoring Indiana's native hardwood ecosystem for all to enjoy.

Jet boat river adventure

The quaint town of Madison gets wild down by the Ohio River. That's where Rockin' Thunder jet boat rides treat thrill-seekers to spins, slides and fishtails, but you can chill out on these mighty boats, too. A 90-mile Sunday dinner adventure takes you down Kentucky River, through two of America's oldest functioning locks. Along the way, you'll see bald eagles soaring over the wild shore and hear the captain's captivating, sometimes scary, river stories of men who prospered and perished along the waterway. The trip includes a few relaxing hours at historic Blue Wing Landing, a former peach plantation owned by Kentucky's first U.S. senator. 

Kentucky barbecue and luscious 

Indiana sugar cream pie have been on the menu. The 75-mile lunch excursion follows Ohio River to Captain's Quarters Riverside Grill on Harrods Creek.

Fish and frog legs

Fridays bring a big menu of fried fish and frog legs at Chuck & Irene's, a family business that dates to 1947. This is one of the few places where you can still get whole lake perch, on the bone, with a side of melted butter when the fish is available. Walleye, smelt and whole catfish are listed on the $9 to $14 menu.

Persimmon Festival

Every year since 1946, folks have been coming to downtown Mitchell to celebrate persimmons for an entire week in mid-September. Forget the Japanese hybrids you see at the supermarket. This festival honors the native American tree that grows in Southern Indiana. Persimmon pudding is the dish of the day throughout the weekend. Someone is always serving it somewhere. Cooks compete in a persimmon recipe contest. Find their persimmon pie, mousse, cake but mostly pudding recipes at the festival website.

*culled from

Friday 29 June 2018


Amanda and Tyler's intimate Christmas wedding was gorgeous! Think sparkly gold with a splash of red. It was so elegant and added to the beauty of the Indiana Historical Society, which was already decked with Christmas trees. 

One thing is for sure…I absolutely love all the extra lights during holiday weddings. It's so warm and cozy! They invited their closest family and friends, which made it quaint and intimate. I also love that Amanda and her mom both had their hair swagged similarly on the side. It was a sweet little touch of the day.

Leading up to the wedding, it was so fun for me to watch Amanda's excitement on Facebook as she prepared for all the little details of the wedding. Together her and Tyler made the decor and signs and they added the perfect personal touch to their special day.

I loved that their guests were able to sign a wooden swing as the guest book along with writing their favorite bible verse on Jenga blocks for the couple to play and pray together for years. One of my favorite moments of the night was something I've never seen before. While the guests prepared for the sparkler exit, the couple had their own private last dance. The ballroom was all to themselves! It was a really sweet moment just for them.

Amanda and Tyler…thank you for allowing me the privilege of capturing your wedding day and allowing me to celebrate your love with you! I wish you many years of joy, laughter, and dancing!

Every Corner Tells a Story in Honest-to-Goodness Indiana

Many know us as basketball fanatics, and we do love our hoops! In fact, sports of all kinds reign supreme, so we're a great place to visit for professional, collegiate, high school or recreational sports. Indiana is the 15th most populous state in the nation. Our residents make their livings in manufacturing, agriculture, education and other industries. The terrain varies greatly from the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan to the rolling hills in southern Indiana and the lush farmland in between. Between those borders lie areas both urban and rural, with plenty to do from amusement parks and hiking to wine trails and nightlife.

Proud Home to All Four Seasons
No matter what time of year it is, you'll find something fun to do outdoors thanks to our Midwestern location. It's often mild enough that golfers can play into late fall or early winter, but snow skiers can still hit the slopes in the winter. Hiking is fun whatever season, and when the summer sun shines brightly it's a great time to hit a water park, baseball game or zoo.

Average Temperatures

As you might guess, January is typically the coldest month and July the hottest. While kids do get to enjoy snow days in Indiana, the summer months bring the most precipitation.

The Not-so-usual Indiana Info

Want to impress people with your Hoosier knowledge? Looking for something to Tweet about? Then this is the page for you. We hope you enjoy these little nuggets about Indiana.

Back Home Again In Indiana

Sung annually during the opening ceremonies of the Indianapolis 500 race over Memorial Day weekend, this song is perhaps the best-known song about Indiana. It was composed by Ballard MacDonald and James F. Hanley and first published in 1917. The composers' inspiration was "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away," the official State Song.

Mail Call in Santa Claus

Santa Claus, Indiana, receives more than a half million "Dear Santa" letters at Christmas time every year. And Santa's little helpers are sure to get them to the North Pole in time for Christmas.


Indiana produces more than 20% of the United States' popcorn supply. In a typical year, almost half of all cropland in Indiana is planted in corn.

The Slippery Noodle Inn

During Prohibition, the Al Brady and John Dillinger gangs were patrons of The Slippery Noodle Inn in Indianapolis, one of Indiana's oldest bars, established in 1850. The gangs used the rear building (originally the horse stable) for target practice. Today, several bullets remain embedded in the lower east wall.

The Indiana Dunes

The Indiana Dunes region on the shore of Lake Michigan provides habitats for many unusual plants, including prickly pear cactus, lichen mosses, bearberry and more than 20 varieties of orchids. Mount Baldy, the largest of the sand dunes, is a living dune that moves away from shore a few feet each year.

Odd Indiana Laws

Before you go fishing, check your gear because it is illegal to catch a fish with dynamite, firearms, a crossbow or your bare hands. And don't go to a liquor store really thirsty, because it's illegal for them to sell you a cold soft drink or water.

The Big Peach

If you're traveling on U.S. 41 just north of Vincennes, look for the famous "Big Peach" in front of the produce market near Bruceville. It's 20 feet tall and stands next to a Washington Monument replica.

Greensburg's Tower Trees

In the 1870s citizens of Greensburg noticed a small sprig growing out of the corner of their courthouse tower. Somehow a tree had taken root in the crevices of the roof some 110 feet above the ground. Other sprigs sprouted, as well. All were removed but two, and one grew to 15 feet tall and five feet around. While that tree died, another two trees made their appearance and have now been there for over a century.

U.S. Vice Presidents

There have been six men from Indiana who have been elected vice president: Schuyler Colfax, Thomas A. Hendricks, Charles W. Fairbanks, Thomas Marshall, Dan Quayle and current vice president Mike Pence. They have earned Indiana the nickname "Mother of Vice Presidents."

Grave in the Middle of the Road

When Nancy Kerlin Barnett died in 1831, her family had her buried in her favorite place on a small hill near the village of Amity overlooking Sugar Creek. A small cemetery was then formed in the area. When Camp Atterbury near Edinburgh was being formed, several small cemeteries were uprooted and moved – all except for Nancy Barnett, whose son objected. Later a bridge over Sugar Creek was being planned and this time a grandson came to Nancy's rescue, camping out with his shotgun and refusing to let her be disturbed. So, the county built the road around it and placed a concrete slab on top of the grave. It won't be moving now, because it was granted a historical marker in 1912.

Stolen Profits?

In June 1972, Lowell Elliot of Peru was said to have found $500,000 in cash on his farm. It appeared as if the money had fallen from the sky. And in fact, it did! A skyjacker parachuting out of a plane had dropped his stolen profits over Elliot's farm. Elliot returned the money to the authorities.

Raising Goldfish

The first successful goldfish farm in the United States was opened in Martinsville in 1899.

*culled from

Thursday 28 June 2018

Incredible Indian Wedding Celebration In Chicago, Illinois

Egyptian mummies are not typically associated with bold, romantic gestures, but that was just the case for Sheeba Chacko and Satish Patel. After dating for seven years, Satish was ready to propose. He planned a romantic day for his beloved, beginning with a morning of pampering at her favorite spa followed by a visit to the "Opening the Vaults: Mummies" exhibit at Chicago's Field Museum. With the help of the museum's staff, Satish planted a diamond ring in a glass exhibit case. "I saw a plaque within the case that said my name at the top, some words in the center, and Satish's name at the bottom," the bride joyfully recalls. "I could not read all the words at the time because my eyes had filled with tears!" Needless to say, Sheeba said "yes."

The couple married at an awe-inspiring celebration in their hometown of Chicago, saying their "I dos" among more than 500 friends and family members. Incredibly, the show-stopping affair was planned in a mere four months. Sheeba and Satish, both Indian but from different cultural and religious backgrounds, designed their ceremony to include a diverse array of customs. "We felt that we needed to make our wedding ceremony best represent us," the bride explains. "[We wanted to] represent ourselves as a blended cultural couple, and maintain our religious convictions."

The ceremony began on a bright Saturday afternoon, with the groom arriving in traditional Gujarati fashion – by horse. The baraat custom sees the groom leave his home and travel to the wedding location with his family members, all the while carrying a petite bouquet and enjoying festive music. Upon his arrival at the wedding venue, Satish was lifted from his horse-drawn carriage by relatives, as custom dictates that the groom's feet must not touch the ground. After receiving a blessing from his soon-to-be mother-in-law, Satish headed into a candlelit room and prepared to say his vows.

Bridesmaids, groomsmen, and Satish donned intricately crafted traditional Indian attire. The bride, clad in a breathtaking off-the-shoulder trumpet gown adorned with sparkling metallic embroidery and beading, stunned her groom as she made her grand entrance. "When I saw Sheeba for the first time in her wedding dress walking down the aisle towards me, my jaw dropped!" Satish gushes. "She looked beautiful." Sheeba was just as taken with her groom: "Moments before I saw him, I remember trying to peer through the curtains to see the room's décor, but as the curtains opened, all I could see was Satish."

After sharing emotional vows, the couple exchanged wedding bands in addition to other symbols of their commitment. Satish bestowed a necklace upon Sheeba, comprised of a thaali – a gold chain accented with black beads – and minnu, a small pendant containing seven raised dots (representing the couple, both sets of parents, and God), which hung from Sheeba's thaali. "We had our jewelry designer custom-make a more modern version of the thaali and minnu, which was then given to me during our ceremony," the bride reveals.

The jaw-dropping venue was flooded with deep burgundy and violet light, creating an incredibly romantic atmosphere. High above guests' tables, atop clear acrylic centerpieces, candles flickered, emitting a warm, inviting glow and drawing eyes up to the venue's stunning cavernous ceilings and the red rose-strewn pièce de résistance suspended from the ceiling. "We also set our tables in an 'X' pattern throughout the room," Sheeba adds of guest seating, which was a suggestion from the couple's event designer. "This allowed our guests to talk to more people than just those at their own tables."

Both Sheeba and Satish agree that their day was perfect. "I can honestly say that I was able to enjoy each moment as it was. The day was not a blur to us and we remember every moment," says the bride. "We spent many years praying that despite our differences, those who came to our wedding were those that were truly happy for us – and we wanted to celebrate with them!" Indeed, it was a day filled with love.

By Stephanie Hallett

Illinois Holidays and Festivals

The historic river valley towns of Illinois have plenty of fun cultural festivals throughout the summer and fall months. These are mainly low-key family affairs based around local food, wine, music, and heritage. The really big events in Illinois occur in Chicago, which has a superb schedule of festivals, concerts, and conferences throughout the year. Illinois holidays are celebrated throughout the state with observance of national events like the 4th of July and Memorial Day.

Chicago Air & Water Show

Every August, two fun days of air and water excitement come to Chicago's North Avenue Beach. This free event is really popular as Lincoln Park's waterfront shows off all kinds of cool water craft and aerial tricks. The highlight is the US Navy Blue Angels jet formation flight and the Golden Knights parachute team from the US Army as they somehow weave through the city's skyscrapers to land at the beach.

North Michigan Avenue Art Festival

For three days in July, Chicago's Pioneer Court transforms into an outdoor art gallery showcasing the works of both famous and unknown Illinois artists. Works by more than 200 painters, potters, sculptors, and photographers are on display with artists ready to sell their unique creations.

Ravinia Festival

This hugely popular music festival extends for three solid months from early June until early September. It is held in Highland Park, a 30 minute drive north of Chicago and features a constant stream of live outdoor concerts that range from hot bands to classical symphony music and everything in between. Picnic on the lawn and enjoy music in the balmy summer evening. The park is easily accessible via Metra train from downtown.

Viva! Chicago Latin Music Festival

Each September, this major music and culture event takes over Chicago's Millennium Park, attracting around 150,000 visitors. Latin bands from across the Americas come to take park in this famous festival, supported by hordes of Latin food and drink vendors and the whole thing is free to the public.

Chicago Jazz Festival

Another major musical event each September is the free jazz festival, which attracts big names and up-and-comers to Illinois alike to the outdoor stages at Millennium Park and Grant Park. Sit on the lawn and enjoy the free moody tunes, and if you're a real jazz fan, be on the lookout for hot after-hours jazz sets at all the city's top bars and clubs.

Chicago International Film Festival

America's longest-running competitive film festival, the Chicago International Film fest began in 1964. More than 100 flicks in all genres are screened at theaters all around the city every October. There's a big emphasis on international films, bringing some rare treats from around the globe to the city's screens. Famous actors and directors also make appearances at premier events.

Chicago Thanksgiving Parade

Started way back in 1934, this is one of America's oldest Thanksgiving Day parades and only New York's parade even comes close. Illinois actually has more floats, balloons, and marching bands. The parade romps up State Street for several blocks as 350,000 people watch on the sidewalks in the nippy November air.


For three days the first weekend of August, Chicago's biggest musical event of the year rivals fests around the country like Bonaroo and Coachella. Started twenty years ago by rocker Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction, major acts and headliners make their way to Grant Park. Spread out over 115 acres and multiple stages, 130+ artists a year run the gamete from pop, rap and alternative to an especially rocking DJ tent.

*culled from

Wednesday 27 June 2018

Traditional Wedding: Three-Day Event for Muslim Couple, Family

Ali Khan and Nida Mannan, center, of Pocatello are joined as husband and wife during a traditional Muslim wedding late last month.The event took place at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Event Centerin Fort Hall.

Getting married is a life- changing event, and a Pocatello couple recently marked that milestone with a three-day celebration.

Ali Khan and Nida Mannan were joined as husband and wife during a traditional Muslim wedding late last month. The event took place at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Event Center in Fort Hall.

"Many Muslims still have traditional weddings," Nida said, adding that they feel it's important to continue the traditions that create strong bonds and good memories, and build on a family's identity. "Family traditions bring a sense of belongingness, commitment and familiarity with each other."

Nida said traditional Muslim weddings include three-days of activities focused on family bonding and unity.

On the first day of their event, a Rasm-e-Hina ritual meant to bring good luck and longevityto the couple took place, Nida said. The pre- wedding celebration included a fun song competition between the bride and groom's side along with other musical, acting and dance performances, she said.

On the secondday, the bride's family welcomed the groom during a Baraat procession; they gave flower garlands and threw rose petals, Nida said.

The Islamic wedding ceremony, known as Nikkah, also took place. The bride and groom signed a marriage contract at that time.

On the final day of the wedding celebrations, Mr. and Mrs. AliKhan hosted their first dinner as a married couple.

Nida said she loved having time to spend with their guests during the events.

"We really enjoyed having our family and friends fly out to Idaho for our wedding. We had family and friends from Montreal, Toronto, Dubai, New York, Florida, California (and other locations)," she said. "We also really enjoyed having a wedding weekend where we could really spend a lot of time with our family and friends."
As most brides would, Nida described the wedding celebration as unforgettable.

"For us, we were blessed to have the opportunity to share our culture and our traditions with our friends and community here in Idaho," she said.

By Kendra Evensen

Idaho Holidays and Festivals

Idaho holidays really showcase the state's culture and often overlooked charm. The state comes alive during its brief summer and fall season as nearly every region hosts a range of fun festivals. Many of them focus on music or western themes like the rodeo or traditional state fairs. There is also plenty of art and food involved, most of which take place in the big city of Boise. Even the tiniest towns of Stanley and McCall have their own big events that transform the normally sleepy mountain towns into open-air parties.

Idaho Shakespeare Festival

Proving they know their culture, the residents of Boise have been hosting this special theatrical event since 1977. Set in the lovely outdoor amphitheater along the Boise River's banks, right in the heart of town, the Shakespeare Festival is so popular it runs from June all the way through September, with different plays performed in each month.

Riverfest Music Festival

The small town of Kamiah puts on a fun and family-friendly music event every June for two days. The riverside park right in town is the perfect venue for this low-key, gala of local food, great bands, and entertainment.

McCall Summerfest

The mountain town of McCall holds its big annual event at the end of July. For five days, the quaint town features a series of jazz and classical chamber music concerts at venues around the region. It's a rather famous event in its genre and regularly attracts some big names to this tiny Idaho village.

Festival at Sandpoint

The big event each summer in the northern town of Sandpoint is an 11-day extravaganza every August that takes over the entire downtown. The scenic War Memorial Field is the site for several stages featuring music from various genres, ranging from classical to jazz, pop, and world beats. There is also the Food Street, lined with tasty festival fare and ticket prices vary depending on who is performing.

Western Idaho Fair

Idaho's official state fair is held every August at the Western Idaho Fairgrounds outside of Boise. This is one of the state's primary events, running for 10 days. Experience Idaho in its purest form, with everything from cowboy competitions and carnival rides to music and awesome food.

Art in the Park

To celebrate the arrival of fall, Boise holds its annual art festival each September in the town's lovely Julia Davis Park. Craftsmen from around the western half of the country come to show and sell their wares. The event also features live music, plenty of food and special children's activities in the park. It runs for two days over the weekend and is free. 

*culled from

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Hawaiian Wedding Ceremony

Minister explains significance
 of exchanging leis
Hawaiian Wedding Ceremony

Opening with Hawaiian Chant and special Hawaiian ring blessing
Onaona i ka hala, E ka lehua, E hale lehua oia na ka noe O ka'u no ia, e ano'i nei, Ea li'a nei, ho'i o ka hiki mai, A hiki mai no ou kou, a hiki pu no me ke aloha Aloha e Aloha e...
The "Oli Aloha" is a chant, which offers a word of greetings. It says, in part, " that, this is the sight for which you have longed. Now that you have come, love has come with you.

There was a seeking of a loved one, now she is found. A mate is found. Someone to share the chills of winter with and the warmth of summer. Love has made a plea that you are to become united here in Hawaii, Hawaii is a perch, a perch in the Heavens. You two are now to become one. For the Day is here at last! You are to be wedded.
Aloha and E komo mai
which means welcome


At this time I would like to have you present to each other these leis.
In Hawaii we exchange leis as a symbol of our love. The beautifully crafted lei with its hand picked flowers and twine, carefully bonded together with love, is a reflection of your love and Aloha for one another. As you exchange these leis you will begin to weave your lei in life together with love. And now, with loving aloha (island style) please present your leis to one another with a smile and a kiss upon each other's cheek.

Gathering Words:

We gather here today to celebrate and dedicate the joy and deep meaning0 of the union of —————and ————– in this sacred commitment. The essence of this covenant is the acceptance of each other as Lover, Companion and Friend. It is therefore a decision which is not entered into lightly, but rather undertaken with great consideration and respect for ourselves and each other.

This ceremony can set the tone for your entire life together. It is the visible symbol of the ongoing wedding process in which the two of you grow in love and union. It represents the welding of two souls as one. It is also a demonstration of the bonding which will strengthen and free you to each grow in your unique way but yet still together.

(optional) PRAYER:

We give thanks for the coming together of ————— and —————– for the many blessings they enjoy and for their happiness. We know that as we reach out to another being as we pledge ourselves to give and share that we allow ourselves to accept more of the gifts of life. We invoke the Spirit of Our Heavenly Creator to join us as we commence this ceremony, this bonding of ——————and —————– and we open our hearts, minds and spirits to that of our Creator. We focus our thoughts and unite all those present, and all those loved ones (friends and family) who could not be with us today, but are in our thoughts in this union of love. Amen!

(The Vows – contemporary)


Please repeat after me:

I,—————– receive you, —————– as my partner and love. Beside me and apart from me, in laughter and in tears,
in sickness and in health, in conflict and serenity, asking that you be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you and trusting what I do not know in all the ways that life may bring
You have vowed your love to each other. Are you now ready to confirm that love in the responsibilities of marriage?

If So answer, "WE ARE"

(optional) Hawaiian Ring blessing (beach weddings only) Rings are placed in a Hawaiian Wood bowl, bride holds the bowl while the groom holds a conch shell filled with ocean water. Minister blesses rings dipping a ti leaf in the salt water… (Please notify us at least one week prior to the ceremony if you would like this to be part of your ceremony.)

"Your rings by their very shape are symbols of eternal unity without beginning or end. They are the emblem of the love that exists between you and characterize your devotion to one another. Let them always remind you of the commitments you make today."
(Each person places the ring on the other's fourth finger on the left hand)
( Groom repeats) —————-, with this ring I promise to grow with you, to build our love, to speak openly and honestly to listen to you, and to love and cherish you for all the days ahead. From this day forward you shall not walk alone My heart will be your shelter and my arms will be your home.
With this ring I thee wed.

( Bride Repeats)

Final benediction and pronouncement:
I would now like to end this celebration with this very special blessing.
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth for the other. Now there is no loneliness for you. Now you are two persons but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your togetherness and may your days be good and long together.

And now by the power vested in me by the State of Hawaii it is my honor and privilege to pronounce you husband and wife. You may seal this covenant with a kiss.

*culled from

Top 5 festivals In Hawaii

The best celebration events of culture, food and entertainment in the Islands, as voted by HAWAIʻI Magazine readers.
The can't-miss Hawaii festivals worth traveling for this year allow the Islands' vibrant cultures to unite and bond over a shared experience. Whether a legendary hula festival or a island-hopping blitz of food and wine events, in our "2017 Readers' Choice Awards," these favorites speak to its people's unique way of life and spirit, with gatherings you wonʻt find in any other corner of the world.

1. Merrie Monarch Festival

Wahine (women) compete during a night of auana, a modern-style of hula. Hilo, Hawaii Island. The energy, the suspense, the hula! Considered "hula's Olympics," this annual festival held in April turns Hilo town into the epicenter of the honorific and artful dance. Founded in 1963, the highly-anticipated event is named after Hawaii's last reigning king, Kalakaua, nicknamed "The Merrie Monarch," whose love of Hawaii's vibrant cultural traditions helped spark hula's artistic resurgence.

Today, the Merrie Monarch Festival is a weeklong affair that kicks off with a hoolaulea (parade and public celebration), Hawaiian artisan craft fair and live music and dancing, all leading up to the three exciting nights of hula competition. All eyes are on the trained solo dancers, women's and men's halau (groups) who have been training all year long to take the Edith Kanakaole Stadium stage in three categories: Miss Aloha Hula, hula kahiko (ancient) and auana (modern). By the end of the festival, the winning halau and dancers take home prestigious trophies and awards, but all participants exit with a renewed pride and appreciation for hula and Hawaiian culture, the audience taken for an artful journey through Hawaii's beautiful stories and legends and everyone leaves Hilo a winner.

2. Aloha Festivals

Aloha Festivals parade through Waikiki. The largest Hawaiian cultural celebration in the United States is an event worth traveling for. Created "to foster the aloha spirit through the perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture and the celebration of the diverse customs and traditions of Hawaii," each Hawaiian Island, from Kauai to Hawaii Island, hosts their own weeklong events that highlight the unique history, pastimes and figures of its respective island. On Kauai and the Big Island, you may find activities with a paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) slant; on Maui, there is a carnival celebrating all things associated with Hana.

Oahu's celebration is the biggest of them all, with people from all islands coming together in the bustling streets of Waikiki for a hoolaulea with gourmet and street food sizzling in rows of food tents, and plenty of games and live local entertainment to keep the crowd on its toes. The colorful floral parade down Kalakaua Avenue showcases elaborate floats, a procession of pau horseback riders and marching bands.

3. Waikiki Spam Jam

The scene at Spam Jam Hawaii; plate of spam Musubi:
Nowhere else in the world will you find the love Hawaii's local people have for Spam. Cans upon cans line supermarket shelves here (and in a mindboggling spectrum of flavors—jalapeno and tocino spam, anyone?) so it's only fitting that for one night a year, a celebration of Hawaii's favorite lunch meat spills out onto the streets for this grand old time. Kalakaua Avenue is shut down for a free block party that includes souvenir stands and food vendors, including several prominent Hawaii restaurants, cooking up surprising, creative dishes that showcase the local comfort food.

4. Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

Hawaii Food & Wine Festival event in Honolulu:
Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island, Kauai: It just keeps getting bigger and bigger—and more delicious, too. The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is a three-weekend long extravaganza of local fusion and crafty culinary flair. Unlike its contemporaries in the continental U.S., Hawaii's festival is all about highlighting fresh locally sourced ingredients from land and sea. In years past, creative cooking themes have focused on everything from piping hot bowls of ramen to modern interpretations of luau staples. Knock elbows with Hawaii's hottest chefs, top international talent and Food Network TV stars with events that span four separate Hawaiian Islands.

5. Lantern Floating Hawaii

A sea of lanterns at the Lantern Floating Hawaii tribute at Ala Moana Beach.
Honolulu, Oahu. Every Memorial Day, the waters of Oahu's south shore glimmer with 7,000 floating framed lanterns, small paper and wood shrines, many inscribed with names and personal messages, that each represent the memory of a loved one lost. The poignant community tradition unites more than 50,000 people from all over the world to reflect and remember as the sun sets on Ala Moana Beach Park.
The cross-cultural ceremony also includes a Japanese taiko drum performance and Hawaiian oli (chant) and prayer. When the ceremony concludes, the lanterns are gathered for reuse the following year.

By Matthew Dekneef

•culled from

Monday 25 June 2018

Hawaii Holidays and Festivals

Hawaii is a dream destination with plenty of fascinating landmarks and activities to fuel the tourism engine. Nevertheless, the archipelago is home to variety of incredible festivals. Without a doubt, the Aloha Festivals are the most prominent across the islands, showcasing everything that makes Hawaii's culture unique. When it comes to numbers, the Merrie Monarch Festival gives Aloha a run for its money as the most popular. Whenever you come, there are plenty of cultural, historical and sporting celebrations to experience throughout the year.

Merrie Monarch Festival

Hula is an art form in Hawaii. To celebrate its importance, the Merrie Monarch Festival is held each year in April. Visitors from all over the world come to showcase their dance skills in various competitions. The Ho'olaulea Music Festival and Merrie Monarch Royal Parade are two other events during this time.

Aloha Festivals

Throughout the months of August, September and October, the Hawaiian Islands play host to the Aloha Festivals. Held each year since 1947, this long and fruitful event incorporates a range of important cultural activities including musical performances, dancing, costume displays, art exhibitions, and local cuisine. Almost one million people attend annually, which is celebrated across the state.

Molokai Hoe Canoe Race

The Molokai Hoe race is among Hawaii's longest traditional events and attracts more than 100 teams to compete in an open-sea canoe race that spans the water between Molokai and Waikiki. Every October, canoes cross the Kaiwi Channel with teams facing challenging natural obstacles along the way.

Coconut Festival

Celebrate the importance of coconuts with locals at the Coconut Festival every October. Held at Kapaa Beach Park, this surprisingly popular and interesting event includes games, handicrafts, food, and contests. There is even a marketplace that sells coconuts in all their glorious forms.

Hawaiian Ironman World Championship

In October, sport lovers and fitness fanatics from across the globe flock to the Hawaii Ironman World Championship. Known as the most grueling event in the world, the ironman course is one of the only places on Earth that allows amateur and average athletes to compete with the best in the business. The race attracts thousands of spectators in addition to 1,800 athletes.

Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

Held every November, the Vans Triple Crown is the pinnacle event on the world surfing tour's calendar and brings only the best in the world. Other famous competitions like the Billabong Pipe Masters and Reef Hawaiian Pro are also held during this time on the famous North Shore of Oahu.

Hawaii New Year

While the Hawaii holiday celebration of New Year's Eve is held throughout the islands, the Aloha Tower Marketplace in Honolulu is where many locals and tourists find themselves on New Year's Eve. A spectacular fireworks display is held over the harbor, while performances, giveaways, and carnivals lead up to the midnight extravaganza.

*culled from

Weddings In Georgia

The celebration of weddings abroad is the best opportunity to keep memories of a romantic trip for many, many years. We offer loving couples to hold a wedding in Georgia. You will ask why? There are many reasons for that: Georgia is a bright hospitable country with beautiful mountain landscapes, the delicious variety of national dishes, ancient temples, and unique wedding traditions. Furthermore, the marriage registered in Georgia is valid throughout the world.

In this article, we will tell you in detail about the most interesting wedding traditions, as well as how and where you can get married in Georgia.

Weddings in Georgia: Wedding traditions

The real Georgian wedding is a bright bustling colorful event during which many of old traditions are respected. Traditionally, a huge number of guests is invited to the Georgian wedding – their number may exceed several hundred. And the refusal to come will not be accepted – this is a big insult to the host side.

Of course, not all modern couples follow all the old national traditions of their ancestors. But most of the young still prefer traditional weddings. Before the ceremony, the couple must go through three stages: the courtship, engagement and wedding ceremony. Earlier in the old days, parents were involved in the choice of the bride or groom. Now the young choose their life partners, following their hearts. The only important point is that marriage must be approved by the parents of both sides.

On the day of the wedding, the beautiful ceremony of entering to the grooms house is held. First, the groom goes up to the roof of the house and releases a white bird. Then he goes down to the bride, and they are treated to the glass of wine. The groom makes a sip and then puts the engagement ring to the glass of wine and passes it to the bride. At the end the groom gets the ring, hands it to the bride and says beautiful words of love and fidelity.

Georgians are very religious people that's why they consider the ceremony at church to be necessary. Almost all couples get married at church and register their marriage the same day. The feast is often held in a restaurant because the house can not fit such a huge number of guests.

During the celebration, the table burst from a variety of dishes and drinks. Tamada says beautiful toasts – the first in honor of the bride and groom. The guests present expensive presents or money to the newlyweds.

Of course not each family is able to arrange such a rich feast. Therefore, some families in Georgia organize so-called "bride kidnapping". But do not be afraid – it all happens with the consent of the bride herself and parents.

In general, the Georgian wedding is a colorful fun-filled memorable spectacle. If you manage to take part in it, you will definitely have a good time. In recent years, many foreign couples prefer to celebrate their weddings in Georgia – to get married in beautiful churches, make great wedding pictures on the background of the Georgian nature and celebrate on Georgian traditions.

Weddings in Georgia: How to register marriage in Georgia

In order to register your marriage in Georgia, you will need only a passport and two witnesses. A registration can be held either in the Houses of Justice or in the Houses of Marriage, which are available in all major cities and some other towns of the country. And which town to choose for marriage we will tell you below.

The House of Justice in Georgia unites under one roof the whole range of services – obtaining a passport, and marriage registration, and registration of real estate and more. Just keep in mind that here, unlike the House of Marriage, will not be a ceremony in a beautiful room under Mendelssohn's march. And one more thing – if you choose to register in the House of Marriage, you will still need to visit the House of Justice for apostilling the marriage certificate issued to you.

Weddings in Georgia: Where to spend the wedding ceremony

There are lots of beautiful places for wedding ceremonies in Georgia. Especially popular are regions of Kakheti and Kazbegi, towns of Mtskheta, Batumi , and Vardzia. Each of these parts is very beautiful, have their own unique atmosphere and architecture, their history and traditions.

If you want to have a ceremony at Georgian church keep in mind that Georgian church is Orthodox and the Sacrament of Matrimony is done only if the bride and groom are of the Orthodox faith and have been baptized.

The most popular town among lovers is, of course, Signagi located in the beautiful region of Kakheti. That cozy little town, built in the style of southern Italian classicism, is called the «town of love». There are town reasons explaining this name. The first one is connected with a beautiful story about famous Georgian painter
Niko Pirosmani who hailed from Signagi. He became famous not only for his talent but also because of his strong and unrequited love for the beautiful French actress Marguerite. Pirosmani sold all his possessions and bought all the flowers in the town and ordered to cover the yard where lived his beloved with flowers.

The other reason is that in Sighnaghi is located the Marriage House which operates around the clock. All couples can register here their relationship without any problems! At the entrance, you will be met by a guard, who will politely explain the daily routine, what documents are needed and how much the ceremony costs.

The atmosphere in Sighnaghi is also very romantic – narrow cobbled streets, houses with beautiful balconies, cozy restaurants, and cafes with delicious Georgian dishes. The town itself is surrounded by greenery and by a fortress, which you can climb and enjoy the views.

For the perfect wedding the couples often choose St. George's Cathedral located in the village of Bodbe (2 km from Sighnaghi).

The other no less beautiful town is
Mtskheta . It is the oldest town in Georgia founded in the 5th century BC, the first capital of the country. Here you can get married in the most revered temple in the country – the Cathedral Svetitskhoveli, which is the object of UNESCO World Heritage. You can also climb the highest hill to the monastery Jvari, which offers a beautiful view of the confluence of the rivers Kura and Aragvi. This is a great place for a photo shoot. For marriage registration, you can go to Tbilisi which is located at a distance of 24 km from Mtskheta.
If you want to hold a wedding ceremony by the sea, then the sunny seaside town of Batumi will be an excellent choice. The theme of love and romance is found everywhere here – the sculptures of lovers with bright heartс, the composition «Love», the famous statue of Ali and Nino (local Romeo and Juliet).

*culled from

Sunday 24 June 2018

Nauru - History and Culture

Although Nauru's isolated location kept the island free from European contact and influence for several centuries, very few of the old cultures and traditions remain. However, Nauruans still perform traditional rhythmic singing and dance on special occasions. Many local crafts are made from materials like kokosfasern and kokospalme.


Very little is known about Nauru's history prior to its first encounter with the Europeans, but the island's original residents were Micronesian and Polynesian people who lived on pandanus, coconut and fish raised and caught from the Buada Lagoon (Aiwo District, Nauru) about 3,000 years ago. Trained hawks and canoes were the preferred methods of catching fish. The 12-point star on Nauru's modern flag represents the 12 ancient clans who ruled centuries ago.

In 1798, the British became the first Europeans to encounter Nauru and name it Pleasant Island, but the island's first known permanent settlers were two escaped Irish convicts who arrived around 1830. One of these men, John Jones, killed or disposed of all other visitors to the island until his own expulsion in 1841.

The arrival of guns and alcohol to the island ended the peaceful relationships between its 12 tribes, who entered a 10-year civil war in 1878. The fighting lasted until the island became a German territory called Nawodo or Onawero in 1886. In 1900, a prospector named Albert Ellis discovered the phosphate which would become Nauru's main export during the next century.

After WWI, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand gained joint control of the island and its lucrative phosphate reserves. The natives, on the other hand, suffered serious tuberculosis and influenza epidemics. Both Allied and Axis forces wrought further damage to Nauru during WWII, when phosphate production was brought to a halt. A communications bunker the Japanese used during their WWII occupation remains at Command Ridge (Aiwo District, Nauru), the island's highest point.

In 1947, the United Nations established Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand as the island's official trustees. When Nauru became an independent republic in 1966, they gained control of their own phosphate reserves and became the developing world's second-highest gross domestic product per capita during the mining boom of the 1960s and 1970s.

By the 1990s, the island's prosperity and phosphate both virtually disappeared. The country has only started to recover from its large debt and borders closed to most international visitors during the infamous "Pacific Solution" when Australia sent many of its Afghan asylum seekers to the island.


Sadly, not much of Nauru's ancient culture has remained, despite centuries of isolation from Western influences. Christianity has replaced goddess worship as the dominant religion and Australian Rules football is the official national sport. Many island weightlifters have successfully won medals and beaten competitors from much larger countries.

Although most elders can no longer understand Radio Nauru's collection of local songs, traditional reigen music and rhythmic singing are still performed on special occasions. Fishers still use trained birds and small light boats to gather their catches, and traditional materials are used to make many arts and crafts. These include kokospalme wood, kokosfasern fans and screw tree sheets.

*culled from
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