KOWE’s Favorite Things – 2020 Edition

‘Tis the season for holiday gift guides and finding the perfect presents for friends and family! To celebrate the season, we’ve gathered all of our favorite things to share with the KOWE Crew. From fuzzy slippers and nail polish to gifts for children, we think we’ve got some great options for everyone on your list.

And don’t miss Mr. Katie O’s picks including some awesome luggage and a kitchen gadget that’s on everyone’s list this year.

These are a few of our favorite things…

Favorite Things 2020

Katie’s Favorites

1. Vionic

As an event planner who has tried every single pair of shoes imaginable to comfortably make it through 12+ hours on her feet these answered all my prayers. I started out wearing them for wedding day only flats but then they expanded their product line and have some adorable boots, heels and wedges!  They are the most comfortable and supportive shoes out there, trust me I have tried them all.

2. Able Bag

I have a small (ok a big) problem with having “too many” bags.  I have my “big bag”, my “on the run bag”, my “going out bag”, etc….  I finally realized I needed an intervention and had to commit to ONE bag for everything.  I was so excited when I saw this amazing company Able partnered with a favorite not for profit run by Lauren Atkins (wife of Thomas Rhett for all my ‘country girls’) and created a super cool bag that can literally “do it all!”

3. Cuddle + Kind

This is our “go-to” gift for new families and we truly love it’s mission and the adorable, cuddly creatures they design!  Grace loves her  Chloe (“Chlo-Chlo”)  and Charlies loves his (Benedict) “Benny” bunny.

4. Raventos i Blanc de Nit Rose Sparkling Rosé

I had to share my favorite sparkly beverage of course!  I tasted this for the first time at dp in downtown Albany and I was hooked.  It is light, crisp, not too sweet and easy to drink.  I will toast with anyone, anytime with this bubbly!

5. Essie Gel Polish

I have not had a manicure in a salon in almost over a year!  I was a loyal gel manicure customer until quarantine times hit.  I was gifted this set and fell in love.  It is easy, quick and lasts almost a week.

6. Amazon Slippers (A fave of Katie and Casey!)

These have been a major bridesmaid gift trend the last couple of years as a “getting ready” gift so of course we had to get ourselves them! They keep your feet comfy and cool at the same time. A serious winner.

Casey’s Favorites

7. Pawz

As a new dog mom/ dog lover I love wearing cute t-shirts and sweatshirts that support  both awareness and money to help save these dogs’ lives, and find them loving homes. 

8. Old Navy Joggers

The perfect sweatpant for lounging, errands or brunch!

9. Dermalogica Intensive Moisture Balance 

I have very dry skin but this face moisturizer makes my face feel like an oasis in the middle of the desert. I HATE spending a lot of money on anything really (haha) but this is the one beauty product I splurge on. 

10. Shop Forward

Buying gifts that are also helping a good cause is a win-win in my book. The shop forward has so many unique products that each raise money for a cause. The cause changes depending on where the need is (natural disasters relief funds, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and many many more).

My favorite items from their website would be the 4 Things Tote, Cool Mom/Dad apparel and anything Pimpin Joy! 

11. Sephora Perfume Sampler

I have always wanted a “signature scent”. One that I can spray on everyday that makes me feel a little fancy and special. This perfume sampler was AWESOME. I was able to “try on” 13 different scents multiple times to really finalize MY signature scent. This is a great gift for any lady in your life (or gent- they have a cologne sampler as well).

Nate’s Favorites

12. Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer 8 Quart

This Instant Pot has both the traditional lid for pressure cooking and slow cooking but it also has the air fryer lid. One pot, two lids.  The 8 quart capacity is great for cooks who like to make enough to eat now and freeze some for later. I am using it 3-4 night a week to cook dinner.  It’s easy to use, with touch button controls and safety features that traditional pressure cookers don’t have. No worries about explosions, the lid is locked down until all the pressure is released.  I am using it for everything from chili to pot roast to beef, veal and pork ragu.  Taco Tuesday is a breeze, I just add meet, beans, diced peppers and onions, and sauce to the pot; lock on the lid and 10 minutes later it’s all ready with no mess.  Crispy chicken tenders without breading?  Yep, the fryer lid can help with that in 12 minutes. I guarantee, the Duo will stay on your counter all winter long. 

13. Maldon Salt by the Bucket!

The distinctive shape and taste of the soft crunchy sea salt flakes make any dish look and taste like it came from a professional chef. The oversized flakes standout on that perfectly grilled steak or on top of freshly sliced tomato and cucumber salad.  Forget getting wimpy  1.9 oz bottle or 8.5 oz box. . .go for the 3.1 pound bucket on Amazon!  You’ll be happy you did! 

14. Wyze Cameras, Sensors, Light Bulbs, and Plugs.

These are effective, user friendly, inexpensive products that work with Amazon Alexa.  The cameras are good for general home security as they send a notification to your phone if there is motion or sound near them.  They make an effective baby monitor too.  The sensors can detect when doors and  windows opened or closed. They can be programmed to send an alert if a door or window is left open for a specified amount of time.  The light bulbs work with Alexa. If you’re trying to make your home smart a few bulbs and plugs are a must.  We can control lights around the house using Alexa but they can also be programed to turn on and off at specified times.  The plug is useful to power up items that are  not easily accessible.  I have a fan in my office on a Wyze plug that is connected to Alexa I can easily turn on and off as the room changes temperature. I’ve pre-ordered the new Wyze Doorbell due to arrive in January!

15. Away Luggage 

Away Luggage is the best I’ve owned. . . and as a serious traveler, I’ve had a lot of luggage over the years!  There are four base sizes to choose from plus each size also has an “expandable” option. There is a size perfect for every type of traveler: The Carry-On, The Bigger Carry-On, The Medium, and The Large.   I opted for the Aluminum Edition Set for its ruggedness and classic aesthetics. . .they are like a piece of art not to be stored away in the attic!  I particularly like the design because I can often pack all my clothes on one side and any work related materials on the other I didn’t ship in advance.  I am looking forward to traveling again so I can pack these beauties up again! 

Introducing the Kenmore Ballroom!

Today we are introducing you to the new, beautiful Kenmore Ballroom!

We welcome this brand new classically modern event & wedding venue to Downtown Albany on North Pearl Street!  The transformational investment in Albany by Redburn Development Partners to create new residential and commercial spaces from historic properties was the perfect opportunity to reintroduce a glamorous event space that once was hosted by stars like Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman & the Dorsey Brothers! We are beyond excited to be a part of this restoration and can’t wait for you to see it for yourself.

THEN…

Built between 1876 and 1878, The Kenmore was one of the finest hotels in Albany, NY. The Rain-Bo Room, where our ballroom is today, was a favorite spot of Babe Ruth and Legs Diamond and had some infamous legends enjoy its time!

There is nothing richer than being able to restore history, and the Kenmore Ballroom is just that!  This renovation was much more than a fresh coat of paint or a set of new furniture.  There’s a defined purpose behind every beam, chandelier, gold detail & fixture. Historic Kenmore’s modern design, combined with its rich, 100+ year history provides an authentic, yet contemporary canvas for your momentous wedding or intimate affair.

VS. NOW

The new Kenmore Ballroom is a modern setting of remarkable luxury, warmth and elegance with architectural details that lean towards the 1920’s and 30’s in attitude and aesthetic. 

The Historic Kenmore Ballroom oversees Albany’s famous North Pearl Street, giving that city street curb appeal and elegant touch.  With over 15,000 square feet, there are so many unique photo opportunities such as the breathtaking grand staircase descending from a generously sized mezzanine level to a parquet covered ballroom fitted with natural colors and soft lighting. 

The beautiful staircase & chandelier are just one of our favorite areas that provide a one-of-a-kind backdrop for the reception of your dreams!  Take a look at some sneak peeks of this polished & one-of-a-kind venue!

The bridal suite features a gorgeous, floral wallpaper perfect for getting ready photos! The rooftop terrace overlooking downtown and the Hudson River is the ideal setting to share your first look, or a romantic toast after the ceremony with your loved one.

The lounge welcomes guests with an indoor fountain (be sure to make a wish!), a sophisticated 26-foot quartz and leather bar and ambient lighting . Additionally, there is a boardroom available for smaller private meetings. The kitchen is accessible via lift from street level on the Chapel Street side of the building.  The Kenmore Ballroom will be an “open-house” for preferred caterers vetted and approved by the management. Our current list includes: Mazzone Catering, 2Shea Catering, Nicole’s Catering & Old Daley Catering.  The capacity across the two main levels total 300 seated & 500 cocktail style. 

The Katie O’ team is available for planning and coordination services on-site at the Kenmore Ballroom for an additional fee. We are offering special “introductory” pricing for couples who book services at the Kenmore Ballroom for remaining 2020 dates and through 2021.

We are so excited to welcome back this historic venue to Downtown Albany and create memories that will last a lifetime in this new space! For more details on hosting your wedding or event at our venue, visit https://thekenmoreballroom.com

5 Takeaways from our First COVID-19 Wedding

If you missed our last blog post, we recently shared our first 2020 wedding  since COVID-19.  When Heather & Nate  began planning their 2020 wedding with 150 guests, they couldn’t have known that a global pandemic would change their plans.  Yet after over 7 years together (and a 2 year engagement!), these newlyweds were determined to make their love official on their planned wedding date, despite the circumstances. They decided to make the best of their situation by pivoting to an intimate ceremony at June Farms, where they would share a dreamworthy day they will forever remember. Talk about one wedding story for the books.

How we made the sparkle happen:

  1. We first scouted a new location where we could create a magical, compliant environment for the couple and their guests. We were so lucky to work with June Farms and their dreamy, secluded, outdoor vibe felt like the perfect spot for Heather & Nate to share their special day. All of the vendors we worked with were so accommodating, and June Farms was able to ensure safety measures with hand sanitizer all over the grounds, plenty of outdoor space to accommodate guests and tables spaced out appropriately to make everyone feel safe.  
  1. Their original guest list had over 150 guests which we were unable to accommodate based on COVID-19 guidelines.  With the new number of allowed guests being 25 per NY state, we cut the list to immediate family and close friends and advised the other guests that we were downsizing.  The couple’s friends and family that couldn’t join us were extremely understanding and even provided sweet video messages for the couple to enjoy on the eve of their wedding. Although Heather & Nate would have loved to see ALL of their guests there, the intimacy of the day was just perfection.  Our awesome photographer and friend JP Elario took more than enough fabulous and beautiful shots (and sent them extremely fast) that Heather & Nate can now share with all of their loved ones who weren’t able to join.
  1. Don’t forget about the details!  With COVID-19 in mind, you have to think about all the intricate details to protect your guests. Staff will most likely be in masks so be prepared for things to look a little different.  Talk to your vendors if you don’t have a planner and try to think outside the box & get creative. For food alterations, we recommend handing out passed hors d’oeuvres to safely share food to your guests during cocktail hour. Placing them in small containers or individual plates/forks is a great way to keep your guests safe and make it easy for everyone to grab.  Remember, things are changing daily so check with your venue or caterer for tips on how to execute everything safely. 
  1. Due to maintaining safety guidelines, there is no dancing allowed at weddings at this time in NYS. Fortunately, Heather & Nate had the Silver Arrow Band to entertain their guests which made an interactive experience for their guests.  It almost felt like we were at a concert, and the band did a killer job!  You could always set up a “touch free” games station near a secluded area on a couch or table for those who want another option.

KOWE TIP: If dancing is not allowed during your wedding, you might consider adjusting your dinner menu and adding a course or shortening the overall timeline by one hour.  Check with your venue to see if this is possible as it may save you money and make the night a little sweeter if timed appropriately.

  1. We know this may not be the day you planned but try not to sweat the small stuff and let it all sink in that you’re getting married to the love of your life. Enjoy the day the best you can and take in every beautiful moment.  As a married couple, you’ll have to learn to navigate through all the ups and downs in life and this is just one story you’ll be able to cherish forever!

Want to learn more about how to navigate your wedding during COVID-19? Head over to our Q&A!

The details: 

Venue / June Farms

Photographer / JP Elario

Florals / Fleurtacious Designs

Hair + MU / True Beauty 

Wedding Gown / Something Blue Bridal

Music / Silver Arrow Band

Caterer / Mazzone

Cake / Cake Street Sweets

Heather & Nate’s June Farms Elopement

When you get married, you have to learn to navigate through all the ups and downs in life…and on July 11th, 2020 Heather & Nate proved that their LOVE was not CANCELLED!  Faced with the same decision as thousands of other couples in the world, we helped our KOWE couple plan an intimate, Covid-19 compliant, sparkly wedding. We are over the moon excited for them and couldn’t have asked for a better couple (and vendors) to work with.

This gorgeous couple started planning their wedding over 2 years ago and didn’t let a little (OKAY…BIG) pandemic get in the way of their original wedding date–the loved the “luck” that “7-11” would bring.  In just over one month, we helped Heather & Nate shift their plans, downsize their guest list from 150 to 30 guests and move their original wedding location to one of our favorite local spots…June Farms.  

Covid-19 isn’t just a bump in the road and for many, it can seem like a mountain. However, for this KOWE couple, there wasn’t anything that could keep them for celebrating their big day! Once they learned about the recent changes with COVID-19, they reached out for help to “reimagine” their wedding plan. Heather & Nate had to have some really tough conversations & make some decisions that altered their original plans, but they were extremely positive about everything and truly made the best of it.

Check out a few of our favorite shots from their special day!

KOWE TIP: Want to remind your guests about your Hashtag? Put your unique # in a frame!

Our team is beyond flattered to be able to share their love story with you and be a part of their day.  Our hearts are bursting out of our chests over how wonderful their personalized elopement turned out.

Heather + Nate, we can’t thank you enough for having us be a part of your day. Congratulations sparkly friends!

Check out what Heather had to say about her special day! 

“Katie & Casey worked their tails off for us and were always available for us whether it was for a pep talk or a debrief phone call or email.  Honestly, I believe that things happen for a reason and we ended up needing each other at just the right time.  No regrets here that our plan A didn’t come to fruition because plan C was nothing short of magically perfect.  We worked with a team of total professionals who rocked it. “

–Heather, KOWE Bride 2020

The details: 

Venue / June Farms

Photographer / JP Elario

Florals / Fleurtacious Designs

Hair + MU / True Beauty 

Wedding Gown / Something Blue Bridal

Music / Silver Arrow Band

Caterer / Mazzone

Cake / Cake Street Sweets