Ball Before the Chain

Ball Before the Chain is a boutique travel and event planning service focused on Bachelor and Bachelorette Party outings.  Ladies and Gents, can sit back, relax and have a BALL… Before the chain.

The Story of Us

Given the profession (and the simple fact that I'm engaged and tons of other people are too), I hear a LOT of engagement stories from people.  I figured, in the nature of sharing, I would post mine as well.  Below is the story of how we met and how we got engaged as featured on How He Asked.

How We Met:

The short version?  At a dive bar in Scottsdale, in the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday.  The longer version: I had recently moved back to Phoenix after living in Miami for a few years and one of my best friends (now my Maid of Honor) was in town from there to visit me.  She and I went to a Spring Training baseball game and were walking around Old Town Scottsdale thinking of our next step for the day.  I saw a very divey bar that I hadn't been to since college and took her in there as a joke.  About 10 minutes after arriving, we were approached by Zach and his friend.  Zach's opening line? "It's really not that cold…".  As I mentioned, I had JUST moved back from Miami and my tolerance for cool weather had waned significantly which is why I was wearing a jacket and a scarf in 57 degree weather.  Apparently the snarky opening line worked and we spent the rest of the day and evening together... then the next day… and the next day… and now, a couple of years and a cross country move later, we'll be spending our lives together!

How He Asked:

Zach told me his mother needed "to talk to us about something important" and that the plan was to meet her for dinner at our favorite resort in Phoenix…  When we arrived she met us at valet and Zach ran inside.  She and I stood outside the restaurant and chatted briefly then she looked over my shoulder and pointed out my brother.  It wasn't out of the realm of possibilities that he might be there because he lived in Phoenix as well, so I didn't have any idea that something else was going on.  He asked to speak to me and we started walking and talking.  Around the corner we found my mom.  At that point I was starting to think something was up.  My brother passed me off to her, she walked with me a bit and we saw Zach's father who had flown in from Michigan.  Another hand-off and Zach's father walked me to the restaurant door where we found my two best friends.  Zach had flown them in (one from CA and one from FL) to be there with me for this hugely special day.  My two girls, tearing up, handed me a glass of champagne and promised that despite living so far away we won't miss each other's big events.  They open the doors and hand me off to my father - who was barely holding it together (tears right at the brim).  He offered his blessing and walked me to the door of the Private Dining Room/Wine Cellar where Zach was waiting.  My father knocked, then opened the door and Zach had candles lit and "our song" playing in the background.  The proposal was behind closed doors - just the two of us - which was perfect and we wrapped up the occasion by having dinner with our family and closest friends immediately afterward. I still can't believe he pulled off something so elaborate, involving some of my closest people without me knowing a thing.  Incredibly well done!

 

You can see the story with photos on HowHeAsked.com

The Perks of Being Engaged

Ok, ok… Sure, of course being engaged is wonderful all on it’s own.  Blah, blah soulmates, blah blah, eternal love.  Cue some birds chirping and a rainbow off in the distance.  We all know that an engagement is significant and meaningful and marks a transition in your life with your partner.  While I am not discounting that, I’m also not talking about that.  What I’m finding out recently is that it can be FUN!  For starters, how many occasions in your life do you get to say that shopping is mandatory??  And during an engagement there isn’t just one totally essential shopping trip; there are a bunch (and a couple that you could probably slide in there without anyone judging you)!  Then there’s the gift registry, and the bachelor & bachelorette parties, and some more shopping, and cake tasting.  The list goes on!

Most girls love any excuse to shop.  Assuming you have a little flexibility budget-wise, you can really take this occasion to the limits.  First, there’s the obvious shopping trip to find The Dress.  You’ll likely gather a small group to join you as you search for the one and only dress you’ll wear that you KNOW will never be outdone.  The entire point of that dress is to blow everyone else out of the water and that in itself is fun!  During an engagement, though, you can find quite a few other reasons to buy a new outfit.  For example: your bachelorette weekend.  For this extra special girls trip, you’ll need a minimum of 2 new dresses and likely at least 1 new bikini if your destination calls for it (and, why wouldn’t it?).  Then we have your other, smaller but no less special occasions like your engagement party, bridal shower, and rehearsal dinner.  That loosely translates to: new dress, new dress and another, even better new dress.  For the final shopping extravaganza, we have: the shoes!  A bride MUST have some killer wedding shoes.  Sure, maybe you’re getting married on a beach and you’ve opted to go barefoot, but in my opinion, that’s the only acceptable exception (if that).  Haven’t we all heard the phrase “Life is short, buy the shoes!”? I support the implementation of that quote into your life and your wedding planning wholeheartedly. 

The registry.  To be honest, I didn’t enjoy registering for gifts.  I do love getting presents, like anyone else, but I don’t like having to ask for them.  Anyway, the fiancé and I were urged to register and noticed that there are a few things we could use around the house so we gave it a shot.  All I can say is, despite not loving the act of registering (though the little registry gun they give you makes it more entertaining), I do absolutely LOVE drinking the espresso from our new Nespresso machine and toasting to, well, anything, with our new Riedel wine glasses.  Presents = love.  :-)

Another perk of being engaged is the food!  There’s food at every occasion in general – engagement party, rehearsal dinner, wedding, etc –, which is always a good thing if you belong to either of our families.  But the coolest part is that it’s your job to make sure the food is delicious and up to your standards for feeding your wedding guests.  Therefore, thou shalt taste!  Tasting and selecting the menu, then tasting and selecting the cake were such fun tasks (and so so yummy!!). 

My obvious choice for a top perk of being engaged is: you guessed it… The Bachelor & Bachelorette Parties!  It’s a great excuse to get together with the friends that you consider the closest and celebrate your past and future life.  I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s rare to have all of those ladies in the same place at the same time.  My fiancé and I have each lived in multiple states over the years so our friends are spread out all across the map. My suggestion is go big! Make a weekend of it.  Take a trip or make it a staycation, but take your time and soak it all in.  Your friends have been there with and for you, likely for years.  If you’re like us and they don’t live as close as they once did, you will want to spend as much time together as possible.  Additionally, this can be a great way to bring your bridal party together if they don’t already know each other well.  Finally, if you make a weekend of it, you allow for multiple activities.  You can still have your big, sloppy, drunk night out but that doesn’t have to be the entire event. You can spend one or more nights partying and still have some time (that you’ll actually remember) to hang out and enjoy together at brunches and dinners.  It may be hard to wrangle your entire group of friends together for your trip but it’s worth it.  And if you need some help, that’s why my business exists.  You pick a destination and I’ll handle the details.

Cheers!

~J

Why you should take your Bach to Vegas

Because… Vegas!  This city was built for these types of occasions.  You can party with your friends any time, day or night.  The pool parties are amazing and the nightlife is like nowhere else.  Las Vegas is generally pretty easy to navigate for a group of girls OR a group of guys.  Finding things you want to do isn’t particularly difficult and actually getting to do them isn’t either.  There are promoters everywhere – crawling the streets and hotel lobbies, late afternoon and early evening, looking for people to go out later that night. The only issue is that you can then be obligated to follow their schedule, sit at their table (most likely) and hang with whomever else they enticed to come along as well.  This is a perfectly acceptable way to get into the clubs if that’s what you want.  If you’re a group of guys, you’re likely going to need to put forth a teensy bit more effort.  Oddly, nightclubs and promoters aren’t begging groups of Average Joe’s to pass the line, come in and drink bottles for free.  They should work on that.  But, until that’s all sorted out, here are some tips: 1 – Split up.  A group of 8 guys is going to wait MUCH longer than sets of 2 or 3.  2 – pool your money and splurge for a table with bottle service.  This has a few benefits.  First, you will reduce outside wait time considerably.  Second, you’ll avoid having to go to the bar and wait AGAIN for drinks that are $20 a piece.  Third, girls like bottle service.  Unless you’re total jerks and/or are hell-bent on dancing just amongst yourselves, you will have some girls who will be interested in joining you at your table (SOME of these women can be referred to as “bottle rats” and we can go over that topic another time if necessary).  3 – if neither of the afore mentioned tips suit you, consider finding some ladies who will walk in with you.  I don’t know why groups of men in General Admission are sometimes seen as club repellant but it happens.  Sorry, I don’t make the rules.  Anyway, Las Vegas has pretty much everything.  You can make it whatever kind of trip you might like.  You can focus on food – there are some world-renowned restaurants there.  You could make it a relaxing trip and go to some of the great spas.  You could always catch a show – Cirque du Soleil or otherwise – the entertainment is top notch.  You can ride rollercoasters. Or you can party! 

Cheers!

~J

 

The 5 Guys You Meet at a Bachelorette Party

The 5 guys you meet at a Bachelorette Party…

 

It seems odd to mention guys when you speak of a bachelorette party, but given the nature of the gathering it’s inevitable to encounter them.  Having just celebrated my own bachelorette party I can confidently break down the types.

1 – The ego

This guy is pretty easy to spot, but if you don’t see him first, he’ll definitely find you and your girls.  He’s going to spend the majority of the time talking about himself – what he does professionally (which is probably not what he really does), how he lives, how much money he can spend, etc.  On our trip, this particular guy did all of the above, including a very shady reference to his marital status (*MARRIED* but said single at first – YUCK!!!), and then “bought us” a bottle of champagne that he made sure to say was “not the cheap stuff”.  2 things: 1, we’re at an all inclusive, buddy – you didn’t splurge for this bottom shelf bottle. And 2, I’ve seen this particular brand for $8.99 at the grocery store.  But thank you, nonetheless.  NEXT!

2 – One of the girls

This guy is likely more comfortable hanging with your clique because his guy friends are just raunchier than he is.  He’s great for a chat and to people watch and gossip and he’ll be a great buffer for the rest of the guys who will try to approach.  He’ll also tell you when your bikini label is hanging out or that you need to fix your hair before your next photo.  We like him – keep him around.

3 – The Bachelor

Somehow, without fail, there’s always another bachelor party around (it’s probably the nature of the destination), so that’s how we get this guy.  He comes in 1 of a few potential packages.  1 – The unsure guy.  He loves her but he sweats when he talks about the upcoming nuptials.  He’s having a good time in between the nightmarish flashes in his mind of walking the plank with sharks and crocodiles below.  2 – The one who’s sewing his wild oats.  You’ve seen him.  He’s all over the place and likely motorboating and flirting with the girls in the area.  There’s no telling if he’s spending that night alone (and I don’t mean with his fiancé).  3 – The guy who’s just happy to be there.  He loves a vacation just like anyone else but this one talks happily about his fiancé and would probably have invited her had it not been frowned upon by his boys.  Threat level zero.  Amen!  He does exist!!

4 – The creep

Ok, ok, this guy is obviously not exclusive to the bachelorette party scenario but as you know, he’s everywhere, which means this is no exception.  There’s always one.  This guy is usually not hard to pick out of the crowd but in case he sneaks up on you, he’ll be the one talking to you, being nice, and then casually finding a way to graze your butt during the convo.  Walk.  Away.  Immediately. 

5 - The married guy

This guy comes in 2 forms as well.  Neither is particularly fun for your group, but whatever, you’re not going to talk to him forever.  Version 1 – The one who wants to give you advice.  He’s pretty harmless, likely respectful and probably has some words of wisdom but let’s face it, he’s here without his wife soooo… We can’t decide if he's worth listening to.  Version 2 – The scorned one who wants to advise you against tying the knot.  He’s visibly unhappy and it’s kinda irritating.  Passing your depression and loss of interest in life off as a joke isn’t remotely funny.  Asking “if I’m sure” while chuckling makes me sure of one thing at that moment – I’m going to find ANYTHING else to do right now besides chatting with you.  Thanks but no thanks!

If you have the right group of friends with you, you’re gonna have a great time and these people will not make an impact.  These weirdos will just be a funny add-on that you can laugh about when you recap the crazy things that occurred during the celebration. 

 

XO

~J

"Do you feel like a bride?"

I’m engaged!!  It happened awhile ago actually… Things are going well. The wedding is nearly planned. Things are generally “all good”.  However, everyone I encounter goes crazy over the fact that I’m not, well, crazy.  I think it’s beginning to concern some friends, family and even strangers I encounter.  I suppose I’m not your average bride.  It’s exciting, don’t get me wrong, but it’s all pretty technical at this point.  Check lists, guest lists, timelines, et cetera, et cetera.  Granted, some things - like cake tasting - are FUN! Anyway, a friend of mine very typically asked me the other day if I feel like a bride yet.  Apparently she’s one of the many people anxious to get more enthusiasm (I’m guessing rainbows and tiaras) out of me.  My response was that, so far I feel more like an event planner than a bride.  I figure that’s ok...  It’s what I’m doing (though not without the help of a truly awesome real wedding planner) and it also happens to be something I actually like to do.  But the sugarplum fairies aren’t dancing… Maybe they need some liquid courage first?  I can’t wait for the actual wedding weekend.  It’s going to be a blast.  Vegas. Yep, Vegas!!  Not cheesy Vegas but luxe Vegas – with a view.  It’s gonna have all the essentials: Champagne. Friends. Family. Parties. Dancing. Champagne. A hair and makeup squad. Good food. Champagne. The WHOLE nine.  But, you know what oddly made this nonchalant wife-to-be feel “like a bride”?  The Bachelorette Party!  It’s been way too long since all of my girls have been in the same city at the same time (Ok, technically this hasn’t happened ever with this group).  It’s going to be so much fun!  I’ve even considered allowing some of the typical bachelorette accessories and activities though I will not waiver on my strict NO PENIS STRAWS policy.  Maybe it feels bridal because it’s the first event since the engagement that says “You’re getting married – this is why we’re all here.”  So let the festivities begin!  We’re fleeing the country and staying at ME Cancun where we’ll have fun and sun and ocean breezes and the occasional cocktail if we get around to it.  I’ll, of course, update you later as to what really went down.  I already know it’s gonna be awesome AND it also means the countdown is officially on. Tick tock, tick tock…  The big day is coming in October!

~J

 

Why does Ball Before the Chain exist?

Hey Friends!  In case you were wondering how this all came about, this is it...

Ball Before the Chain was created when I stumbled upon the age where my peers and I were getting married and planning all associated events.  Not to mention, I just love a good party and RARELY turn down the chance to celebrate something. And let's be honest, sometimes you’ve gotta celebrate just getting through the weekend and waking up for work on Monday, right?! That’s a hell of an accomplishment for some people if you ask me.   

Having been in the concierge and travel planning business for years I am always a resource for my girlfriends and even my fiancé’s friends when they are planning their Bachelor and Bachelorette getaways.  It’s no secret that a lot of Best Men and Maids of Honor are excited to be a part of the wedding festivities but let’s face it, party planning isn’t their forte.  They also often have jobs and families to think about.  Then, you tack on planning for an entire group of people and the absolute necessity of creating an itinerary that Can. Not. Miss. (or you’ll go down in history as the guy or girl who dropped the ball) and the MOH/Best Man can get overwhelmed.  As luck would have it, I LOVE planning things like this!

Catering to the discerning wedding party looking for a bespoke experience…  My goal is to help groups of great friends enjoy an unforgettable celebration getaway without having to stress over the details.  Ladies and Gents can sit back, relax and have a BALL… Before the chain. Cheers!

~J