an american band ... in mexico

Guest Blogger: Nash Roberts

This all started for me with a phone call from a former bandmate. "Hey man," he said, "You think The Shakedown would be down for a gig in Mexico?" Putting aside the fact that this guy is loveably crazy, this did sound sorta crazy. Of course TG is asking me if The Shakedown is down to fly to a foreign country to bring our sweaty, classic dance set to some unsuspecting party. But hey, you only go around once, so I decided to follow up on the opportunity. 

That quickly led me to the wonderful Kimberly Richmond, who was 
planning the wedding. International weddings are a group effort. It's a level of complexity, translation and coordination that simply can't be managed without someone like Kimberly. She's bi-cultural, with one foot in the US and the other firmly in Mexico. She's emotionally intelligent such that she can manage the ecstasy and angst that typify the wedding planning and wedding-having process. She's guided smashing weddings from Lake Como to Playa Del Carmen. In this case, Kimberly's managing American expectations of how things should be in a beautifully mañana culture.

My band, The Shakedown, has done over 100 weddings in the States. I've gotten used to the gamut of wedding vendor professionalism. I've worked with the most charming, dedicated pros who effortlessly enable a joyful wedding explosion to the less-than-attentive amateurs whose lack of planning or care tend to help run a train wreck right into the ground. In our case with Kimberly, it was great. Once we sorted through contract items, she pulled in all the vendors that helped us do our job to our clients' expectations. Plane tickets, airport transportation, lodging, back-line, meals, all handled by Kimberly so I can focus on doing my job to the best of my ability. I only like, kinda speak Spanish, let alone know how to get from Guanajuato to San Miguel de Allende. She had our back every step of the way.

It's thrilling to visit a totally new country, do what you love to do, and earn a buck or two along the way. Getting bumped into first class didn't hurt the band's excitement for the trip down to Mexico. Arriving Friday, we stayed at Rancho Las Sabinas which was where the wedding was held. Crazy flooding and rainstorms had torn up the reception tent which had been set up in advance. 

The next morning, a team from the rental company was scrambling to reassemble and fortify the tent given more weather was expected night of the wedding. My wedding was thoughtfully planned the same week a major Hurricane was making landfall on the Eastern Seaboard, so I empathize with how weather or even the threat of inclement conditions shake up the best planned event. 

Of course, the tent repairs pushed back everything in terms of set up and sound check. Everyone remained calm, went to work and this ended up providing us the perfect opportunity to head into town for some sight seeing. We also just wanted to make sure margaritas taste better in Mexico than in the US. They do. 

We get back from some mandatory pre-gig carousing and the reception site is breathtaking. We end up playing the first dance with the entire place lit up by sparklers, a first in my book. From there our dance party starts and I go into time melt mode. I'm just rockin' our show with my mates like always, but we're 2,000 miles from home. I look up and we're through our show. Performing dance parties, we're pretty lucky. 

You know if you've done your job right because people are either dancing their asses off, or they're not. Pretty binary. When you're done, you've landed the plane. I generally have a sense of relief and relaxation that wash over me knowing that we've done our job. This evening was even more so given all the planning and anticipation from March to September. On this occasion, there were post-show cervezas and tacos al pastor to crush which was a perfect touch. I eventually made it back out onto the dance floor for DJ Dulce's set because the fun never ends.

I woke up the next morning, enjoyed a farewell meal with my band and the other wedding vendors and then it was off to the airport to fly home. I blinked and I was back in Raleigh, wondering if it all really happened. Yes, and it was unequivocally awesome. More international weddings please.

I repeat, the experience wouldn't have been such as breeze without Kimberly. Even as a vendor, I wouldn't do another destination wedding without someone like her, let alone recommend someone try to throw a destination wedding on their own. What a time we had! Fly to Mexico, make some new friends, play a few tunes. Just the right touch of crazy for one weekend.  What's not to love about all that?"

7 Delicious and Healthy Wedding Appetizer Ideas

Guest Blogger: Erin Vaughan

Just because it’s your wedding doesn’t mean you have to throw the whole diet out the window. After all, you’ve worked for weeks to fit into that wedding dress—so why stop now? Especially when you don’t have to choose between taste and your waistline! Here’s how to start off the next phase of your life right, with these seven healthy (and delicious!) reception appetizer recipes.

Delicious-Looking Prosciutto-Wrapped Mango Bites
This recipe manages to be elegant, fresh and healthy all at once. With its colorful appearance and delicate preparation, it’s certainly a little bit more elevated than your traditional crudités. You can even create variations by substituting pears, cantaloupes or apples for the mango. With just 29 calories a pop and plenty of vitamin A and C, these tasty little snacks make a delicious pairing with a healthy signature cocktail, like this hibiscus margarita. Perfect for an outdoor wedding on a gentle summer day.

Compact Little Flavor Bundles
Did someone say bruschetta? This twist on an old classic combines hummus and fresh sprigs of pea shoots for finger food that’s as graceful as it is good. For a healthier alternative to white bread, try substituting a whole wheat baguette or cucumber slices. Packed with protein and important minerals like manganese and copper, these tasty treats will give you and your guests the energy you need to cut a serious rug on the dance floor!

Elegant, Crunch-Creamy Concoctions
Some things just seem made for one another—you and your partner, love and marriage, cheese and fruit. Honor this most delicious marriage of sweet and savory with these tasty goat-cheese smothered pear slivers. Cut into chic slices, with a dollop of cheese and a sprinkle of cranberries and pistachios for good measure, these apps will be the belle of the ball—after yourself, of course!

Briny, Scrumptious Seasoned Oysters
If you have some adventurous gourmands to please, there’s nothing better than this simple preparation of raw oysters on the half shelf. Seasoned with pink peppercorns and tarragon leaves, these are as much a feast for the eyes as they are for the stomach. And oysters are some of the most nutritionally balanced foods available, just brimming with protein, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, calcium and zinc. There’s nothing better than when haute cuisine meets health food.

These Savory Antipasto Skewers
Even your Italian mother-in-law will be in love with these classic antipasto bites! Served upright on skewers, with zesty low-fat sausage and a hit of fresh basil, they’ll have everyone’s mouths watering for the buffet. Paired with artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and basil, they definitely hit the mark for healthy fare. 

These Paleo-Approved Poke Stacks
Is someone on your guest list eating paleo? They won’t have to pack their own food on your special day! These paleo-compatible poke stacks are made from marinated sushi-grade tuna, avocado, and tomato and served on a homemade wonton for a bite-sized punch of flavor without the calories. Even your least-healthy friend will love it!

These Mouth-Watering Gluten-Free Stuffed Grape Leaves
Going gluten can be a bummer sometimes, especially when you show up to a party where the only thing on the menu is carbs, carbs and more carbs. This delicious stuffed grape leaf recipe is as healthy as it is hearty—with zero traces of gluten in sight. That way, everyone can enjoy your special day as much as you will. Now, if only they made a healthy, great-tasting alternative to wedding cake! Oh wait, they totally do

Erin Vaughan is an avid runner and tennis player. He currently resides in Austin, Texas where he works as the president and co-founder of,  the leading online marketplace to find a local personal trainer that can help you achieve your health and wellness goals.