Two Days in Brussels, Belgium

Next stop on our one-year anniversary road trip through Europe was Brussels, Belgium! Although we weren’t staying there long, we still had an amazing time exploring the city. We were mesmerized by the beautiful architecture, ate delicious foods, learned about the history, and were so pleased that we added Brussels as a stop on our trip!

In case you missed it, we already wrote several posts on the Netherlands, and our most recent post covered fun attractions along the drive from the Netherlands into Belgium.

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Our Hotel

When booking our hotel, we looked for the best rating for the cheapest price. We ended up finding the four-star Crowne Plaza Brussels – Le Palace for an affordable price, and that was the winner!

Having never been to Brussels before, we should have done a little more homework before we booked. It wasn’t necessarily a bad location, but it reminded me of the financial district in Manhattan versus the heart of Times Square. We were in a sleepy area of town where everything closed early and wasn’t open on the weekends (it seemed like a business district), and though it was walking distance from everything, it was a little far from the main attractions. Having been to Brussels now, I know we should have not cared as much about four-stars and rather selected a hotel right in the heart of the city. We were hardly in the room anyway, so it didn’t matter how nice the room was.

And on that note, the hotel was very nice! The lobby and common areas downstairs had a 1920s art deco vibe. Our room was plenty spacious and nicely decorated. We were impressed with the lobby and décor as well. For the little time that we spent in the hotel, there was nothing to complain about.

Activities

Planete Chocolat – When in Belgium, I think the most important activity is to indulge in Belgian chocolate. The Planete Chocolat chocolate shop was a place we had just stumbled upon as we were exploring the city. They offered an amazing demonstration of how to make pralines, and then the chocolatier asked for an assistant. You know I threw my hand up and was selected first 😊 It was so fun. I think my husband had just as much fun watching me make pralines as I had making them. I highly recommend you investigate the demonstrations. Not only was it entertaining, but we were gifted a baggie of chocolate that I made, and it was delicious!

Grand-Place – The heart of the city is the Grand-Place market square. This was one of the most gorgeous city centers I’ve ever seen. The buildings were intricate and spectacular during the day and night. Every day we found ourselves at least once walking through admiring the architecture. All of the most popular attractions, dining, and tours were surrounding this square.

Guided Tour – Right in the Grand-Place square, you’ll find locals offering donation-based tours of the city. We hadn’t planned out our day, and when we made it to the square and realized this free-ish type of attraction, we were on board with it. We circled around a local woman with a group of tourists, and she explained how the tour would work. We would follow her around the city, she would point out all of the most impressive and famous spots, we would have ample opportunities for photos, and then at the end we can offer her a tip for what we think the value of the guided tour was worth. We loved this tour. The highlights were a history of Grand-Place, the Manneken Pis statue, the most famous waffle shop, the most famous chocolate shop, a beautiful church, and Monte des Arts garden plaza. There were so many more places she pointed out, but those were my favorite. As a local, she had a wealth of knowledge, and we learned a lot about Brussels on this tour. In the end, we tipped generously, because the value of the tour was awesome! We kept busy for hours, and this was the best attraction we experienced while in Brussels.

Manneken Pis – One of the most disappointing monuments that we ever saw was the Manneken Pis. I know, I know… why is it making my list if it was such a disappointment? Because Manneken Pis is the most popular statue in Brussels and among the most iconic in all of Europe. The only reason it was such a disappointment was that based off photos we’d seen before our trip; I expected the statue to be so much larger or grander than it is in person. The statue ended up being so teeny tiny, that had there not been crowds around it, you would have walked right by and not even noticed it. But when in Brussels… you see Manneken Pis. Ironically, even though it was nothing to write home about, our souvenir ended up being a crochet Manneken Pis Christmas ornament haha!

Comics Art Museum – If you enjoy comics or cartoons, then this museum may be fun for you. We didn’t plan to go here, but when we walked by, my husband remembered a cartoon from his childhood (Tintin), and we decided to stop in. It was actually really cute. Some of the comic strips weren’t in English, so the jokes went right over my head, but I still had a nice time. We weren’t there very long, because it was kind of small, but this was a nice attraction to just stumble upon.

Dining

Dandoy Restaurant – This restaurant was recommended to us by our tour guide. They are well known for the liege waffles. A liege waffle is a thick rounded-edge and chewy waffle that contains little clumps of sugar. These were heaven!!! I highly recommend these snacks while in Brussels. We’ve actually looked up how to make these at home in NYC, and though they don’t compare, they are so tasty!

Nüetnigenough Brussels – When we had stumbled upon the Planete Chocolat shop and learned they offered demonstrations a few times a day, we decided to stop by a local restaurant and kill a little time before the demo began. This restaurant was just down the street, and we sat at a cute table, grabbed a beer, and I ordered a very delicious beef and fried dish.

Drug Opera Restaurant – The Drug Opera was a large two-story pub style restaurant. They were very busy when we visited. One of the main reasons we chose to eat here was because the hubbs had a craving for moules frites (mussels and fries), a classic Belgian dish. He was very impressed, so it ended up being a wise choice for dinner. I really liked that the menu was extensive with many options.

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Brussels, Belgium, was a really awesome city. I know we were just driving through Belgium to get from Netherlands to France, but I’m so glad that we decided to stop for a few days and experience this amazing country. Ever since we experienced a long road trip, I feel stronger than ever that it’s not only the destinations that matter but also what happens along the way. We didn’t plan most of what was going to happen in Brussels. We flew by the seat of our pants but stumbled upon the greatest finds and really enjoyed ourselves.

DISCLAIMER: Any brands listed above are not sponsors.

The Best Bachelorette Party Games

Disclaimer: There is one image in today’s post that may be offensive to some readers.

Getting all your favorite people together for a bachelorette party is a time in your life when you’ll feel overwhelmed with love. It’s hard to put into words the adoration you’ll feel for friends and family that would be willing to shower you with so much joy and possibly spend a vacation’s-worth of money to do so. The cool thing is that your favorite people may be from different times and places in your life: Childhood friends, college roommates, study abroad groups, and siblings will come together, and by the end of the weekend, they too have a new level of connected friendship they all share.

Photo Credit: Goodtomicha.com

This post is inspired by a bachelorette party I’m attending this weekend in which I’m Matron of Honor for my Sister-in-Law and helped come up with all of the party games. Being that some attendees will only know the bride, it’s imperative to have the weekend include group games to bring everyone together and feel welcome. Below is a list of the four top party games to get your group ready to mix and mingle.

Photo Credit: Printify.com

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Photo Scavenger Hunt

On the last cruise I went on, our large group did a scavenger hunt, and it was the most fun I had the entire vacation. We ran around the cruise ship taking group photos in front of the items on the list. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder, and I was with a group of near strangers. A scavenger hunt needs to make your list of games regardless of where you are having your bachelorette party (though cruises are an excellent choice). Below is the prep required, how to play, and some tips.

Pre-Game Prep:

  • The scavenger hunt needs to be a long list of tasks ranked with points. The easiest and most achievable items should be worth fewer points, and the most challenging tasks should be valued with the highest points.
  • Make the list LONG. It should be nearly impossible for the teams to get everything checked off before the end of the game. You only want one winning team in the end.
  • The tasks should also incorporate the destination. For example, our scavenger hunt is in Key West, Florida, so we have included iconic murals, bars, and attractions like Mile Zero (that are only in Key West) for teams to take pictures in front of. This allows the group more exposure to the fun city they are in, and those photos will be valued.
Photo Credit: Etsy.com CreativeUnionDesign

How to Play:

  • Split up the group into teams (you don’t want anyone to be running all over town alone).
  • Explain what Photo Scavenger Hunt is. Since each photo needs to be the full team, they won’t try to cheat and divide and conquer to complete more tasks for more points. “Photo Scavenger Hunt is a game where each item on the list will be something you need to take a photo in front of. Your entire team must make the photo, otherwise the photo does not count towards points.”
  • Set up the parameters such as an end time, end location, and what happens if your team is late. “Regardless of if you are finished with the scavenger hunt or not, everyone is to meet at Señor Frogs by 4pm. If you are late, you will get docked one point for each late minute.” This allows the game to be fair and provides a clear end time where you can move onto the next activity, even if that’s only dinner or bar hopping. Afterall, you can’t do the scavenger hunt all day, regardless of how much fun that would be.
  • Optional: You could also incentivize teams by saying the first team back to the end destination gets a bonus 5 points.
  • Provide everyone with the list. You can do this in two ways: The first could be an actual paper, and the second could be a digital list you text to everyone right before the game begins. For our trip, we’ve opted for the text option so we don’t have to worry about losing the papers. Everyone will already have their phone on them for pictures, so digital won’t be an issue.
Photo Credit: Angieaway.com

Some Unique (non-location specific) List Ideas:

  • If you gifted everyone sunglasses, ask for a team selfie wearing the sunglasses. If a girl had left her glasses in the hotel room that day, they would either not be able to take that photo or have to run back to the hotel to take it.
  • Ask for a team photo in the hotel shower fully clothed. They asked for this on the cruise scavenger hunt I did, and it was hilarious ramming a group of 6 women into a TINY cruise shower.
  • Video advice to the bride from a stranger
Photo Credit: Pinterest.com Megan Moschell

Lingerie Party Bingo

Pre-Game Prep:

  • Tell all the girls to bring a lingerie gift for the bride. You should share the bride’s sizes with them in advance.
  • Get lingerie bingo game cards (there are downloadable ones online, you can purchase from Etsy, or make them yourself for near-free) that include a good amount of clothing items as well as colors and then the bride’s reactions.
  • Clothing: thong, lace panties, push up bra, babydoll
  • Colors: something black, something cheetah print, something red
  • Reactions: mentions the groom, says “love!”, gets embarrassed
Photo Credit: Shopstagandhen.com

How to Play:

  • Distribute the game cards and pens
  • The bride will open gifts, and as she opens them girls will cross off items on their grid. First girl to get a line wins!
Photo Credit: TaraMetBlog.com

Lipstick Pictionary

This game is crazy fun for an evening-in. If you’re familiar with traditional Pictionary, then you’ll find this Pictionary game that’s played with lipstick instead of pens to be very entertaining.

Pre-Game Prep:

  • You’ll need a lipstick for each person. You could ask the girls to bring a lipstick they don’t love, or you could purchase lipsticks for everyone. For our game, we purchased a lipstick for everyone. We found very reasonable options on Amazon.
  • There is a really fun penis-shaped lipsticks (probably meant as a gag gift), but it would be more funny to play the game with that. I had looked high and low for it online but couldn’t find it from a website that would ship in time. If you have time, plan that out.
  • You’ll also need a lot of blank paper so you can play several rounds of the game.
  • Think of funny Pictionary silhouettes for everyone to draw. Consider that lipstick will be thick lines, so nothing too intricate.
  • Pro Tip: Maybe in the final round, make it a little more exciting by starting off with one Pictionary drawing and midway through their time limit you add an additional aspect to that drawing. It will make it more challenging for everyone to add it in. For example: “Draw a bride in her wedding gown…30 seconds later …ok, now you must make that bride in her gown riding an elephant… you have 30 more seconds”
Photo Credit: Amazon.com – Grown Folk Party

How to Play:

  • There are many ways to play. Consider who will tell everyone what to draw, and who will be the person that selects the winner. You could either have the Bride or Maid of Honor fully run the game and be the caller and winner selector for each round. Or the Maid of Honor could start the game off, then the winner of each round would be the next caller and winner selector.
  • To keep the game moving quickly, keep the drawing time to either 30 or 60 seconds. This will make everyone frantic to draw as quickly as possible. To make it even more fun, since this is lipstick Pictionary, all the girls must put the lipstick in their mouth and with hands behind their backs, they draw the picture.
  • A single winner will be selected each round. This is a not a group game.
Photo Credit: Mywedding.com

Prosecco Pong

Another fun evening-in game is prosecco pong. If you’re familiar with the party game called beer pong, then you’ll love this elevated fancy version with classy glasses (as fancy as plastic could be considered haha) and prosecco as the drink of choice.

Pre-Game Prep:

  • Prosecco pong games can be purchased online and come with the plastic prosecco cups and balls.
  • You’ll need to ensure you stock up on several bottles of prosecco, as the alcohol isn’t included with the game itself.
  • Also consider if your home or hotel room has a suitable table you could use to play. If not, consider bringing one.
Photo Credit: Amazon.com Talking Tables Store

How to Play:

  • The game goes as follows: Each player takes turns to throw a ping pong ball with the aim of getting it in your opponent’s cup. If the ball lands in the cup, your opponent must drink what’s in that cup. Whoever makes their opponent drink all their cups first wins, so if you’re left with no booze then you’re a loser.
  • This game could be played in teams, and if everyone is into it, you could even make it an evening tournament where everyone hangs out and chats and drinks while those whose turn it is play.
Photo Credit: Modernmoh.com

Prizes

The games will be fun enough, but it’s also nice to provide prizes for the winners, because it’s incentive to really play to their fullest. You don’t have to spend a fortune on prizes. Get creative and think about what you already have on hand. For example:

  • Use leftover supplies: For the bachelorette party I’m helping plan this upcoming weekend, we are 16 people. Upon arrival, each girl will receive a welcome bag chock full of goodies like hangover recovery supplies, fun wearables, and edible treats like candy and custom cookies. When we shopped for items to go into these bags, we found a bunch of amazing things that were usually sold in packs of 20 or more. In all the cases where we had leftovers, those leftovers made it into the prize bag. Who doesn’t love an extra face mask or pair of fun earrings?
  • Shop your house: I work in events (no surprise there haha) and always receive free branded merch that are perfect for the prize bag. I shopped my house and came up with a whole grocery bag full of incredible brand new unopened items like sunglasses, dish rags, luggage tags, portable speakers, and portable phone chargers. You name it, I feel like I had it. I think the girls are going to be really impressed with the quality and variety of the gifts, and it was totally FREE!
  • If you weren’t going to do welcome bags and have extra goodies to give away, and you shop your house and come up with nothing, you could also do prizes like winning extra time on the next game. For example, if you keep the same teams, the winning team from the night before could gain an extra 15 minutes for their scavenger hunt. That is totally free for you to offer, and the winners will be psyched to gain that time and have another chance to win, and the losing teams will work that much harder to not let them win again. And then maybe that game’s winners just wins a round of shots. Easy!
  • Pro Tip: If you can spring for it, have tiebreaker prizes too. If two groups end up with the same number of points in the scavenger hunt, they both win.
Photo Credit: Goodtomicha.com

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Photo Credit: Partyslate.com

I hope you enjoyed this post on the top five best bachelorette party games! I am so excited for this upcoming weekend’s bachelorette party! Maybe after I experience how everything plays out with the games and prizes, I’ll update this post with tips. Definitely stay tuned for an Amarvelous Honeymoon post covering Key West, Florida! This destination is incredible, and if you’ve never been, you’re missing out!

One Amazing Day at Rotterdam’s Maritime Museum & Antwerp’s Chocolate Nation

While on a road trip, you could easily stop at a gas station to refill the tank and stretch your legs, but why not plan something more adventurous? Continuing our road trip through Europe, today we’re driving from the Netherlands into Belgium for quite possibly the most surprising and delicious day of our trip! Road trips aren’t just about the destinations—the drive itself and random stops along the way help make the trip and build long lasting memories. For us, the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands and Chocolate Nation in Antwerp, Belgium fit the bill on the two best sites to see that day, and I can honestly say that we had an awesome time.

When investigating unique attractions to possibly stop at along your driving route, one of the key factors should be to not deviate too far off the highway. We would have loved to have seen The Hague, Netherlands. Although the highway did pass through the outskirts of this large city, for us to drive to any attraction in the city center, it would have taken a long time, and we’d likely have hit traffic, extending that day’s trip for us. Also consider the duration of time that it takes to fully experience an attraction. After all, you paid to get in, so you might as well enjoy it to the fullest. Museum or attraction FAQ pages often let you know approximately how long visitors spend on site. We ended up selecting two attractions we felt we could fully experience without being rushed and still make it to our hotel in Brussels by a respectable time to check in and grab dinner.

In case you missed it, this post is a continuation of our one-year anniversary road trip through Europe. We already wrote about the charming town of Volendam here, the best places to see tulips in the Netherlands here, the infamous Amsterdam Red Light District here, the best Amsterdam food here, and the best Amsterdam attractions here. Now, let’s drive from Netherlands to Belgium!

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Maritime Museum – Rotterdam, Netherlands

First stop along the drive was to the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This museum was right off the highway, and we easily found street parking, making it a very convenient stop. From our hotel the night before, it was a short 45-minute drive, but it was our last attraction in the Netherlands and allowed us an opportunity to see this city we would have otherwise driven right through.

As you’ve probably gathered from reading other Amarvelous Honeymoon posts, when the Hubbs and I visit coastal towns with rich histories of trade and commerce via the sea, we always investigate if they have a maritime museum. In general, we love cruising and boating and find the histories of sea voyages really fascinating. However, Rotterdam took “maritime museum” to the next level.

We’ve been to many maritime museums, so we have a good sense of what they typically offer. Most all museums of this kind offer to-scale ship models, marine artwork (featuring captains, boats, and maps), and then real parts of the ship (old anchors, captains’ wheels, figureheads, portholes, and diving gear). The unique part about Rotterdam’s museum, though, is that they offered all of the typical stuff mentioned above, plus several interactive experiences and exhibits that engaged you into a deeper understanding of what working on or near the sea is really like. Below I’ve outlined our three favorite exhibits:

The Offshore Experience: The focus of this experience is energy from oil, gas, and wind and an in-depth opportunity to experience what the offshore employees’ jobs are really like. This interactive exhibit begins with a background video to set the scene and some participants put on costumes to play their role. They immerse you in a few projected and in-person rooms. One looks like an oil rig, and the other looks like you are 3 kilometers (just under 10,000 ft) under the sea. Hubby is an energy nerd (he actually does energy for work!), so he really enjoyed this experience.

Dealing with Drugs: Let’s face it… Drug trade plays a heavy role in illegal port activities. This interactive experience takes you through a few perspectives—the port employees, customs officers, drug dealers, and the judge. You start off sitting at a small bistro table in a creepy and desolate setting, then you get called to enter the next room. I won’t spoil anything else, but there are several opportunities where the choices that you make change the outcome of your drug dealer’s fate. In one of the pictures below, you can see me pushing a button that ends up “electrocuting” the dealer in a pre-recorded scene.

Cruise Ships Through the Ages: As I noted above, we love cruising. Our first cruise was in 2010, and since then we’ve traveled the sea to many countries and on many cruise lines. This exhibit was a series of several rooms that showed all different areas on a cruise ship throughout time, the types of extravagant clothing that people used to wear on ships, and the types of old and modern entertainment offered on the ships. As avid cruisegoers, it was interesting to see the history of cruising. I don’t believe that this exhibit is still in the museum unfortunately.

An adult admission to the Rotterdam Maritime Museum costs €14.00 ($16.46 USD), and I’d say that it was definitely worth the price.

An hour and fifteen minutes further on our road trip journey, and we made it across the Netherlands border into Belgium and to the heart of Antwerp. It was fairly easy to find a paid parking garage in the city center.

Chocolate Nation – Antwerp, Belgium

Belgium is world-famous for its chocolate industry since the invention of the praline, a chocolate shell with a soft center, so I’d say that a trip to a chocolate factory or shop is a necessity. “When in Belgium,” am I right? The Chocolate Nation (https://www.chocolatenation.be/en) chocolate museum was one of my favorite parts of our Euro road trip and one of the best values. Adult admission costs a mere €16.95 ($19.93 USD) and includes access to the museum, a chocolate demonstration, and LOADS of Belgian chocolate to eat while you’re at the museum. Note the new health precautions below however

Upon arrival, every guest is provided with a museum headset, so as you walk through the museum you can press the corresponding numbers and listen to the audio tour history of chocolate. During part of the experience, you are walking through with a group, and then towards the end you are at your own pace. There is a unique “le petit chef” room where everyone sits at a table and a projection overhead creates a scene right on the plates and table in front of you.

My favorite part was all of the tasting opportunities. Near the start of the tour, in one of the first rooms, they actually had walls lined with candy machines. These looked like the types of machines you’d normally put a coin in (except these didn’t require money), turn the dial, and a whole bunch of candy would pour out the bottom opening. These machines were full of small milk chocolate pieces. There wasn’t a limit to the offering. We filled our hands and then ate the scrumptious chocolate pieces as we walked through the museum.

Another tasting opportunity was in the middle of the experience. It began as a demonstration on how pralines were made. The chocolatier held up a mold and filled it from a machine pouring chocolate. Then he used a tool to maneuver the chocolate and ensure all the gaps were filled. Then he flipped over the mold to run off the excess chocolate. This left a coating of chocolate in the mold which would become the outer shell of each praline. From there, he inserted a filling piece into each praline, then began the process again of pouring warm chocolate over the mold. This time he ran his tool over the edge to ensure each praline cup was filled, and then the mold went into the fridge to set. Once he put the fresh warm mold in the fridge, he surprised us by pulling out an already chilled and finished product and banging it on the counter to reveal other pralines that he had made that day. We were all able to taste a praline.

The final tasting opportunity was right before the exit. The most glorious of rooms was filled with machines of warmed churning chocolate in all the flavors imaginable. Flavors ranged from white, milk, dark, ruby (a new red-colored fruity-tasting chocolate), and then multiple shades in between those most common flavors. The various brown chocolates come from different percentages of milk, sugar, cocoa butter, and cocoa beans, as well as different origins across the globe. Everyone was given a plastic spoon, and we had free rein to walk around and turn the dial at any machine to fill our spoon with warm chocolate and eat it. As much as you want. Serious chocolate heaven overload.

Right after that room, you walk through what looks like a vault door into the gift shop. The whole experience is an opportunity for them to show you just how good their chocolate is, so much so that you need more before you depart. And though we had already had our fill of chocolate by this point, we did pick up a few souvenirs for family. We visited in April right before Easter, so they had a bunch of chocolate bunnies and eggs.

We visited in 2018 when health restrictions were not as strict. Below are the new Covid-19 precautions that Chocolate Nation has listed on their website.

How to have safe enjoyment as a visitor?

  • Buy a ticket online and stick to the chosen time slot
  • If you already have a day ticket, please contact Chocolate Nation ([email protected]) to reserve a time slot
  • Wait times will be respected for your own safety
  • Limit the number of personal items so that you don’t have to use the lockers
  • Stick to the safety guidelines that are communicated in the museum
  • If you feel sick or have symptoms, please stay at home

What is Chocolate Nation doing to ensure safety?

  • Plexiglass is provided at all contact zones, and our employees always wear a mouth mask
  • Upon entry, through the museum, and at the exit, there are disinfection stations to disinfect the hands
  • High touch areas such as sanitary facilities, banisters, and doorknobs are cleaned regularly
  • There is signage throughout the museum to guarantee adequate social distancing
  • At the end of your visit, you will receive a goodie bag so that you can taste the delicious Belgian chocolate at home in safe conditions. So you don’t have to miss any of the delicious chocolate!

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I hope that this post inspired you to do some investigating on fun attractions while on your next road trip. Especially on long stretches of the trip, it’s a lot more fun to have something small to look forward to and a stop to get out and stretch your legs for a bit. Not to mention, if you can learn something unique about the town that you’re in, or taste some of the local cuisine, then that provides you with more memories, and you’ll actually remember the drive and cities where you stopped along the way. Also, if you’re ever in Rotterdam or Antwerp, then you MUST check out these two great attractions!

DISCLAIMER: Any brands listed above are not sponsors.

20 Ways to Incorporate Your Dog Into Your Wedding

There’s good reason why dogs have been dubbed “Man’s Best Friend.” They’re loyal, they’re loving, and they treat you like you’re part of their pack. According to the World History Encyclopedia, some of the earliest known evidence of domesticated dogs dates back to 12,000 B.C. in Turkey. That’s an ancient history of friendship between mankind and our pups!

Here is my hubby at the Göbekli Tepe archaeological site in Turkey, where some of the oldest known evidence of domesticated dogs from 12,000 B.C. was found. Stay tuned for future Amarvelous Honeymoon posts on the fabulous nation of Turkey!

So it’s no wonder why this photo went viral on Reddit late last month and became the inspiration for today’s Amarvelous Wedding blog post! The reason behind the piqued interest? The best flower girl that any newlywed couple could have asked for: their dog!

When you love your dog(s) like family, how could they not be integrated into your special day? There are many ways to include your fur-baby in your nuptials, including pre- and post-wedding inspirations, determining your dog’s day-of-event role, capturing the moments with them, and incorporating their likeness if they can’t attend the wedding. Check out the 20 adorable ideas below for inspiration for incorporating your pup into your wedding.

Before we get started, I think it’s worth noting a few key questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Does my venue allow animals? If your venue doesn’t, then some items on the list below simply won’t be feasible to pull off.
  2. Is my dog well trained/well behaved? If you have a new untrained puppy, or a trained but rambunctious pupparoo, then it might be challenging to keep tabs on them during your wedding day and could add more stress to the situation than it’s worth having them on site.
  3. Do I have something to keep them entertained? We included our dog in our ceremony, and though she is incredibly well behaved and chill, I knew the best way to ensure she was comfortable for our beach ceremony was to have a carpet down on the sand with a juicy bone waiting for her arrival. Once she walked down the aisle with the Hubbs, he passed her off to a groomsman whose role was to handle her throughout the ceremony. This was an easy task since she laid there and went to town on her bone for the full 30 minutes.
Photo Credit: dreamlifewedding.com

If you answered “no” to questions 1 or 2, then don’t let that discourage you, because there are still loads of ways to include your four-legged friend, even if they can’t attend in person. Keep reading to learn more.

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Pre & Post-Wedding Dog Inspirations

1. Dog Engagement Photoshoot

We included our dog into our engagement photos and do not regret it. The one tip I have is that if you want photos of just the couple, you could ask a friend or family member to come along, so after the dog photos are done, your friend can babysit while you go off and finish the shoot.

2. Dog Save the Date with a Dog Wax Seal

If opting to send a save the date, incorporating a family photo from your engagement shoot is a sweet way to include your pooch. I also love the idea of a custom wax seal. Don’t forget that this seal can be used over and over again, so it’s a great investment.

3. Featured on the Wedding Website

There are many companies that now offer a free wedding website. A few places that would be fun to include your dog on the website would be on the homepage with a family photo, on the bridal party introduction page, or adding a caricature.

4. Send Thank-You Notes From all Three of You, With a Family Photo

Our wedding thank you note included two photos: One side of the card was our favorite wedding day photo of us with our dog, and the other side was a photo of just us. I personally signed all cards from our little family of three, so why not also sign your wedding note the same way?

Determine Your Dog’s Day-Of Event Role

5. Dog of Honor / Best Man’s Friend

For a dog that’s literally your best friend, give them one of the most prominent roles of the day. It’s sweet for a bride or groom to walk down the aisle with their dog.

6. Flower Dog / Ring Bearer

You could pair up your flower girls and ring bearers with your dog, or you could have no children and only the dog walks down the aisle as this role themselves. Talk about stealing the show!

7. Honored Guest with Assigned Dog Handler

If you don’t think your dog will walk nicely down the aisle alone, then you could have them waiting at the alter so they can still be in a prominent position for photos. Assign a friend or family member to be the dog handler and care for your pup while you say your “I Dos.”

8. Videographer

I am by no means recommending you let your dog be the sole videographer of the day, but it’s definitely a silly video to have in addition to your real videographer. We attached a Go-Pro harness onto our dog’s back for the entire lead up to ceremony, ceremony, and cocktail hour. The dog’s-eye view is so sweet. You get the see people come up and give your dog love and your dog’s viewpoint from the day. Some things to be mindful of are:

  • Ensure the angle of the camera is high enough. You don’t want their head or ears blocking the camera view.
  • You want to be sure the harness is tight enough so if they shake or walk with pep in their step the camera harness doesn’t slide to one side.
  • Ensure the camera lens doesn’t get misty or foggy and blur the video. We were on the beach, and somehow at the end of the ceremony the camera lens got misty, so the cocktail hour footage isn’t nearly as clear as earlier in the day.

Photo Credit (Left): dreamlifewedding.com | Photo Credit (Right): amarvelousevent.com

9. Dogs Instead of Bouquets

This has gone viral a few times on the internet, and I love the idea, though logistically it is a challenge. A few ways this could happen is if all your bridal party brought their own dogs. You could adopt a whole litter of puppies, or you could foster a full litter of puppies. Bear in mind if adopting or fostering that this is a lot of excess work in your wedding week that you likely hadn’t planned for. But maybe you’re willing to do it for the ‘gram? haha

10. Wedding Gift

The video below is a husband giving his wife exactly the gift she always dreamed of. Definitely a sweet idea if you’ve been talking about a dog for that next chapter of life. Set up a game plan for someone to watch the pup after the gift giving though. A loud and chaotic reception dancefloor could be stressful for a dog.

Capture the Moment

11. Dog Getting Ready Photos

I kept my dog in the ladies’ getting ready room, and one of my favorite pictures is me in the chair getting my hair done and my dog simply sleeping by my feet. Another is my dog when she was awake, giving me her paw while I was getting makeup done. Sweet moments captured. Don’t be afraid to assign someone in the bridal party to give your dog walks during the morning and afternoon so you can be stress-free.

12. Bridal Party Photos

I love full bridal party photos that include dogs. It’s a picture with all of your favorite people and your favorite furry companions.

Photo Credit: dreamlifewedding.com

13. Just Married Walk Photos

Right after the ceremony, if you and your new spouse can escape for a bit to have a few moments just the two of you, bring along your dog. This is the perfect time of the day for more bridal portraits, to catch a breath, and just relish in the fact that you are finally married. A sweet walk around the property with your dog makes for lovely pictures.

Incorporate Their Likeness

14. Dog-Inspired Human Accessories

There are a bunch of ways to have a photo of your dog, or a cartoon of their likeness, incorporated into pocket squares, socks, cufflinks, jewelry, dress embellishments, small photos hanging on the bouquet, etc. Get creative here!

15. Dog-Inspired Place Cards

It’s the small details sometimes that bring a wedding together. Of course, you could have a boring white place card, or you could add a little pizzazz with a drawing of your pooch.

16. Dog-Inspired Cookie Favors

Custom individual cookies with your dog’s likeness in icing would be a darling addition to the day, not to mention edible favors are the best kind!

17. Cake Topper

The sky is literally the limit when it comes to cake toppers. Nowadays, you can design nearly anything custom off Etsy.com and have it shipped to you in a few days’ time. I’ve seen adorable cake toppers with the couple and dogs at the top, with just the dogs at the top, and with a formal-looking cake in the front and in the back a special surprise where a statue of the dog is eating into the cake. Adorable.

18. Signature Drink

If your venue or caterer allows you to do a signature drink, then it could be cute to name it after your dog in a “punny” way. You could also get dog drink stirrers, or you could have the sign for the drink or cocktail napkins have your dog’s image printed on them.

19. Picture on Display

Often on the gifts table, the couple will put a photo from their engagement with a sign for gifts and cards. Couples sometimes also use framed photos for table numbers. If your dog couldn’t be a part of the day in person, either of these options could be sweet to incorporate them.

20. Dog Biscuit Bar

If you have a “Pets Welcomed” reception and you booked a block room at a pet-friendly hotel, or if your guests have dogs at home waiting for them, then it would be so adorable to do a small dog treat table with little cellophane bags, so guests could take home a treat to their dogs. Be sure to pick cookies that look like bones to alleviate confusion from the human treats. Also post a sign that notes that these are for the fur-babies at home. If people can have candy or dessert bars, then why can’t the pets have wedding snacks too?

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As a fellow dog lover, I hope that this post brought you as much joy to read as it did for me to write. When your dog is like your family, you can share the most special day of your lives with them, or at least have a piece of them there to honor them as a cherished family member. With so many awesome ideas to include your dog, I’m sure it’ll be hard to choose just one!

DISCLAIMER: Any brands listed above are not sponsors.

Best Attractions in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Today we’re taking you on a rollercoaster ride through the best 21 attractions that Amsterdam has to offer. Through our four days in Amsterdam, we experienced a lot, but there’s so much more to see that we’re already making another must-see attraction list for our next trip. Come along as we explain the best attractions, when you should book your tickets, and how to avoid making some of the mistakes that we made.

In case you missed it, this post is a continuation of our one-year anniversary road trip through Europe. We already wrote about the charming town of Volendam here, the best places to see tulips in the Netherlands here, and the best food in Amsterdam here.

Due to Covid-19, access to Amsterdam is currently limited. All public venues and non-essential shops are closed until March 2, 2021. Some of the attractions listed below may continue closure and open later this spring with a reduced capacity. If you’re interested in a particular attraction, then I highly advise you to visit their website and reserve tickets. We visited pre-Covid-19 and had a difficult time acquiring tickets to some attractions. My best advice for this exciting tourist destination is to plan your trip as early as possible and purchase all of your attraction tickets in advance too. We didn’t do that, and some attractions were totally sold out when we arrived in the country. I can only imagine how much more difficult it will be when attractions open with less tickets available than before.

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A’DAM Lookout

We had a lovely time visiting the A’DAM Lookout. This observation deck towering high over the city landscape provides a panoramic view of Amsterdam. We spent a lot more time at this attraction that I thought we would. The rooftop offered multiple photo opportunities and a bar with large beanbag chairs where you could lounge with the best view in the city overlooking Amsterdam Centraal. I could have probably stayed up here all day if we didn’t also have tickets for the This is Holland attraction next door. This is definitely not an attraction to miss.

Anne Frank House

I am most saddened that I did not get to experience the Anne Frank House on our trip. This was the number-one attraction I was interested in seeing. Months before our trip, I began looking into tickets, and they were already sold out. Though we booked our flights a couple months before I started looking up attraction tickets, it hadn’t occurred to me that they would sell out. It makes sense though. This attraction is the actual house where Anne Frank went into hiding in 1942. It’s a regular house, so the flow of people moving through a home-turned-museum can’t be that much. Book this the second you book your Amsterdam trip. It is one of the most desirable and coveted attraction tickets.

Photo Credit: annefrank.org

Artis: Amsterdam Royal Zoo

ARTIS is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and sits in the heart of Amsterdam. ARTIS isn’t just a zoo though; the ticket also includes access to an aquarium, planetarium, arboretum, and a large collection of art and sculptures that also reside on the ARTIS campus. I wish we’d have had one more day in Amsterdam, because I’d have loved to have seen it. Adding this to my next Amsterdam must-see list!

Photo Credit: dutchamsterdam.nl

Bike Rentals

Amsterdam is a very bikeable city. InfactBicycling is one of the ways locals commute and travel around most. You’ll see in front of transportation hubs such as Amsterdam Centraal that there are what seems like thousands of bikes chained up on bicycle racks. In fact, there are bike rentals on many streets. So, this isn’t necessarily a recommendation on any particular company to book as much as a suggestion that a bike ride would allow you to explore like a local, take in the sights, and enjoy the waterfront canals.

Boat Tour

Just outside of Amsterdam Centraal, you can find many boat companies that offer guided tours of the canals. Since we didn’t select a hotel along the canal, we knew that we wanted to experience the water via a boat tour. We booked our day tour with Stromma Canal Cruises and had a great time. The tour included headphones that you plug right into your seat and then select your language to learn as you ride through the waterways. Don’t miss the photo of the Seven Bridges. It’s quite impressive, and you only have the vantage point to capture it from inside a boat in the river.

Dam Square & National Monument

The National Monument and Dam Square are two sights you could easily see for free as you are walking from one attraction to the next. They sit conveniently in front of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam and only an 11 minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal Station. The National Monument is in remembrance of the casualties of World War II, and there is a ceremony every year on May 4th.

Diamond Museum

The Diamond Museum Amsterdam is an attraction that we just stumbled upon. We were in the area after having just been to Moco Museum, then we grabbed lunch at The Burger Room (highly recommend), and then we walked past the entrance of the Diamond Museum, and it piqued our interest, so we stopped in. The museum is self-guided and explains the history of Amsterdam as the City of Diamonds. They also have many gorgeous crowns and gemstones on display. It was a small museum but fairly inexpensive and a nice bonus attraction in this area of town.

De Wallen

De Wallen, or the Amsterdam Red Light District as some call it, is a lively canal-lined neighborhood in Amsterdam most known for its bars and sex shop scene. Thought I knew I wanted to include it in this post, the neighborhood has so much more to offer, so if you’re interested in learning more, check out my full post which you can find here.

The Heineken Experience Amsterdam

If you like beer, or Heineken beer in particular, then the Heineken Experience is for you. This one-and-a-half-hour tour takes you on a journey from the creation of Heineken, through the process of how beer is made, the iconic Dutch Gelder horses, interactive experiences and games, and finally taste-testing.

Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

If you are visiting the Netherlands during tulip season in the spring, then I highly recommend that you take a day trip (or a few days) to explore more rural areas where farmers grow fields of tulips. I wrote a whole post on where to see the best flowers in the Netherlands here. However, if you only have a few days in Amsterdam, or are not visiting during spring, then vising the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam is a great way to get your flower fix.

Photo Credit: trfihi-parks.com

I Amsterdam Sign

There are actually two I Amsterdam signs. One permanently lives at the Schipol Airport, and the other sits within the city center but moves around every few months. Due to the large size of two meters high by 23.5 meters wide, the sign draws quite the crowd and over the years has been moved around the city to several locations to help alleviate excess continued congestion in neighborhoods. In 2018 when we visited, the sign was in front of the A’DAM Lookout across the river from Amsterdam Centraal. We were already across the river experiencing a few attractions, so it worked out nicely to squeeze it in. Though there wasn’t a formal line to wait in to take pictures, there were mobs of people hanging on the letters, so it’s unlikely that you can capture a photo of just yourself with the sign. If visiting, this is a fun free photo op. Just click this link to read where the sign is positioned before your trip.

Moco Museum

Moco Museum is a boutique museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art that sits in close proximity to Rijksmuseum. During our visit, many pieces on display were from Banksy. We loved the interactive augmented reality art experience where you hold up your smartphone and the static piece of art comes to life with movement on your screen. This is the future!

National Maritime Museum

The Hubbs and I love to visit maritime museums when traveling. There’s just somet