Spring into warm-weather fashion!

By Elisa DiStefano

Spring 2015 trends

Now that spring has officially sprung (and we finally have a beautiful weekend here in New York) it’s time to talk fashion trends! I’ve been collecting my spring items for weeks in anticipation of this warmer weather. There are a number of fun, new styles hitting stores and some throwbacks that I love (and you may already have in your closet)! Since I am still on a wedding recovery budget (which I think I can begin calling a being married budget) but really needed a pick-me-up, I’ve found ways to incorporate my favorite trends without spending a lot!

Fringe Benefits

Elisa_DiStefano_ASCAP_RedcarpetI’ve had fringe fascination since fall – when I bought this flapper-esque dress. It’s almost impossible to have a bad time in this dress…unless the fringe gets caught in the zipper… and it did… a lot (I call this fringe frustration).

This season, there’s fringe on dresses, tops, jackets, skirts and shoes, pretty much everything! I fell in love with this jacket on a shoot- but it was way beyond my budget.Elisa_DiStefano_fringe_fashion

In my opinion, the most practical way to incorporate fringe is to add a fringe handbag. Then you can rock a little fringe every day! Here are some budget-friendly bags… full disclosure, I went on a fringe-binge and bought them all.. and now I have to choose which one (s) to keep!



(black bag/clutch- $90- Shopbop , blush clutch – $98- BCBGeneration, shoulder strap bags- $29.99- Marshalls)

fringe bags

My fringe bag bargain– $29.99 at Marshalls











A Dash of Denim

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a little denim? And the best part, you probably have it stashed in your closet! Fish out your fav denim shirt, jacket, vest and/or jeans.  If you want to freshen it up, I found this denim jumper! Bell bottoms are back in a big way!


Jumper from Emily Sky Fashions, Bell bottoms from my 2000-something jeans bin!


The Skinny on Wide-Leg

pantsAm I the only one who is ready to put away my skinny and cigarette pants… at least for this season? Good news – wide-leg pants are back in style. Long, short or printed… this cool, cropped pair will only cost you $14.99!


The Vest of Us

Vests are the new sleeveless!  If you don’t want to invest too much- I found this affordable, versatile one at Nordstrom!  Vests are also an awesome way to incorporate fringe or denim into your look. And the perfect transitional piece to wear into the warmer weather!








Wedding Photos featured on Carats & Cake

By Elisa DiStefano


Such a nice surprise to see some of our wedding photos & awesome vendors on the wedding website Carats & Cake ! But… it makes me feel bad that I haven’t even started choosing photos for our wedding album. I couldn’t wait to get my photos back, and I got so excited to see some of these pictures again, so why do I dread going through and picking my favorites for our album? Help!



Elisa_DiStefano_Married_ Wedding_Mo_Carats and Cake

Missing My Golden Boy

By Elisa DiStefano


He just always wanted to be with us.

He just always wanted to be with us.

I believe in love at first sight.

I remember everything about the first time we met—exactly what I was wearing, but much more importantly how I felt. I was so nervous going over to my now husband’s house for the first time to meet his friends and two golden retrievers, Saint & Chrissy.

My Christopher was the first to greet me and make me feel welcome, and loved, oh so loved. It was like we were together before, some other lifetime ago. He stole my heart that night, and I feel fast and deeply in love.

I called him my baby boy, and my angel, because he truly was. Chrissy gave me so much love and he was such a good boy. I never in my life felt so needed, so wanted, so loved all the time. I could never wait to get home to see him, and I never left without saying how much I loved him and promising to get home as soon as I could.

He was always the happiest to see me, waiting at the door. He always wanted to be right by me. He would put his paw on me and hold me close, he never wanted me to leave him—and now that he’s left us, I am so heartbroken. So, so heartbroken. He was– and will always be– my baby.

He would hold me after a long day of work.

He would hold me after a long day of work.

As I sit and try to write this with tears streaming down my face as they’ve been for the last few days, my house feels so empty and there is a big hole in my heart.  I keep looking at the spot where he would lay by (and on) my feet every single night, nosing me with his little nose, and I just still can’t believe he’s not there. I know for some dogs are pets, but for me, they are my family. My family is hurting so much. My heart breaks for my husband, who had him with him through 10 years of ups and downs, and for my other best boy who I love so much too, Saint, his big brother from the same litter. They were never, ever apart. He is just devastated. We all are.

We have so much love in this house and so many happy memories. Our Chrissy was so tough. He was diagnosed with bone cancer a year and a half ago, given only a few months to live. Through chemo, radiation, and a lot of alternative treatment, our tough guy kept wagging his tail until the end. We gave him all we had. And he gave us all he had right back. Even though he was sick himself, whenever I was upset or not feeling well he was right by my side, worried about me, making sure his mama was okay. He loved when I made him special things to eat (the first one to love my cooking)… and he loved when I sang him songs (the only one to ever like my singing, although I think it’s growing on Saint). We feel so blessed that he was with us through our wedding, and we were grateful for every extra day we got with him.

My dear friend recently reminded me that it’s no coincidence that dog is GOD spelled backwards.

A few years ago nobody, not even me, would believe I'd be sharing a bed with two big dogs! I miss those days when their legs were strong enough to come up to our room. They got me through a lot of nights when Mo was traveling for work.

A few years ago nobody, not even me, would believe I’d be sharing a bed with two big dogs! I miss those days when their legs were strong enough to come up to our room. They got me through a lot of nights when Mo was traveling for work.

Oh my Chrissy boy, my baby,  you changed my life. You are my heart. I miss you so much. Like I said before, we had a special connection. We were meant to be together. I know one day we will be together again. But for now, I pray that you are able to run again and play and not feel any pain, and that you are watching over us, and your brother, my other baby Saint … until we cross that Rainbow Bridge together, and are all together again.

Last Christmas. Always excited to get presents! Always on Santa's nice list.

Last Christmas. Always excited to get presents! Always on Santa’s nice list.

We called him "Linus" because he loved to carry around our blankets.

We called him “Linus” because he loved to carry around our blankets.

My view when I'd look down from my favorite spot on the couch

My view when I’d look down from my favorite spot on the couch

The only one in this house (besides me) amused by my selfie stick.

The only one in this house (besides me) amused by my selfie stick.

So happy he got one last snowfall last week. My Canadian Goldens love the snow.

So happy he got one last snowfall last week. My Canadian Goldens love the snow.



He loved his Daddy.

He loved his Daddy.

And his Daddy sure loved him.

And his Daddy sure loved him.

His favorite spot.

His favorite spot.

He took care of all his babies.

He took care of all his babies.



This was such a happy day. Mo held him so he could go in the water one last time.







He loved going for walks with his brother.

He loved going for walks with his brother.

He wore his bowtie for our engagement photos because he knew it made me happy.

He wore his bowtie for our engagement photos because he knew it made me happy.

He stayed up and kept me company while I worked on my computer. I miss him so much right now.

He stayed up and kept me company while I worked on my computer. I miss him so much right now.


My heart.

My heart.










Our family

Our family

March Madness: A College Hoops Cheat Sheet from a Wife of an ESPN Analyst:

By Elisa DiStefano

March Madness…finally… counting down to the final four. I can’t wait… because that means basketball season – and the madness in my house this month– is almost over!

Elisa DiStefano Mo Cassara ESPNIt’s not that I don’t like basketball, heck, it helps pay our bills! My husband is a college basketball coach turned TV analyst, and therefore has been traveling like crazy from game to game… and in between, watching games, listening to games, tweeting about games…. so I am just looking forward to having him home and “present” in my presence. And now that we are in a new season of Dancing with the Stars, being able to watch something other than basketball on the most desirable TV in our house!  bracket final four television


So right now as the game is on that TV, my husband is reading this over my shoulder complaining that … and I quote…

You can’t write that… blah blah…. it’s the biggest sporting event of the year! It captivates the country! Blah Blah…  It’s the talk around every office and can involve everybody…. Blah blah… Basically tomorrow and Friday the country shuts down because everyone is watching basketball games from noon until midnight!”

They are? Whoah March-mad he is! He’s almost as mad as he was yesterday when I told him that I’ve never seen a bracket. He calls it “ashamed”!

Clearly I am not winning this one. I guess if you can’t beat em, join em.

So….. with a lesson or few on March Madness from Mo, any non-sports fans (like me) can get in on the action.

Elisa DiStefano March Madness bracketsAs I ponder the bracket he printed for me, it’s kind of cool to see the names of so many schools I’ve never even heard of before! Mo says that’s the beauty of it- there are so many underdogs, and a win in the NCAA tournament can change their lives… and a win is apparently worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  A lose – just one- costs jobs, money and tears. In the tournament it’s single-elimination- you lose you’re out. It’s “one and done” – here are some other phrases that will help you understand the madness that is March!

-          March Madness Cheat Sheet: Terms to know:

March Madness: A time when my husband is * even more* obsessed with college hoops. And the name for the postseason tournament for NCAA Men’s Basketball.

Big Dance: The prom? Nah. Just another name for this tournament.  When teams are said to be “going dancing”- they’re going to the tournament.

Final Four: The last four teams that are left in the postseason tournament.

Seeds: No we are not talking spring flowers. There are four regions in the NCAA Division One Tournament (that’s where we pull the “Final Four” from), with 16 teams per region. Each team is ranked #1-16. #1 is the highest.  This number ranking is called “their seed”. (and the number on the bracket sheet next to teams names) When filling out brackets, in theory you should pick the higher seeds to advance (lower #s). But, some people pick their bracket “winners” by uniform colors, universities they like, or even schools they have never heard of.

RPI: Stands for Ratings Percentage Index, the formula that the NCAA committee uses to “seed” teams.

Cinderella: We all know the rags to riches story of the famous Disney princess. We are on the right track! Cinderellas are when the “lower-seeded” rarely-heard of teams (remember that term from above) upset the “higher-seeded” favorite teams. Cinderellas are the underdogs. Unfortunately there are no glass slippers involved… but they already made it to the ball, um, I mean Big Dance. bracket  March Madness Cinderella

Now that I have the basics down, if the shoe fits….

It’s time to make your picks! And here’s the great news as you fill out your brackets…  there are so many Cinderella stories – hence the term “March Madness”—that the rankings, seeds, whatever you want to call it, aren’t necessarily indications of who will win. So basically, your guess is as good as Mo’s! So just have fun, play along- heck, you may even win some March money!

bracket March Madness


Summer Plans

By Elisa DiStefano

Finally, spring is in the air. And … I am already planning for summer!

I chose my favorite summer Hamptons events for Luxury Living Magazine – and it made me realize that even though there’s still snow on the ground, the season starts in a little over two months! So mark your calendars, and let the summer countdown begin!


I am mentally so ready for some sunshine and warm weather, but I have a lot to do to gear up for my busiest time of year and a new summer season. If I learned anything from my wedding, it’s to start prepping early!

  1.  Start collecting summer pieces (more on this later)
  2.  Invest in stylish and super comfy wedges (I’m on my feet a lot… in grass)
  3.  Summer shape-up (arms, arms, lots of arms– tomorrow, check out this week’s #WorkoutWednesday on my   Instagram to learn a simple, effective exercise!)
  4. Get that summer glow

With a wedding (yep, my lucky 13th time being a bridesmaid!) and black tie gala to host this week… and lots of photos to be taken… I got a head start the past two weeks. I’ve stuck to my nutritionist Stacy Moutafis’ eating plan and added in 45 minutes on the treadmill (my trainer Geri is on me to do it daily- so far so good) .. and am drinking lots of water. So far I am down 2 winter pounds in two weeks.

My skin was really in bad shape– dull, bumpy, yuk, so my dermatologist Dr. Graf gave me a peel for a fresh start, and my aesthetician, Georgene, gave me my favorite facial, the DermaSweep .  I am back to smooth!

WIth a light spray tan scheduled for later this week… I’ll get a little help with that summer glow!

I hope my mini-makeover makes a big difference… at least it’s pulled me out of my winter rut.

Now for that spring cleaning….

What events are you looking forward to this summer?







By Elisa DiStefano

Guilty. It’s really tough for me to unplug. It’s tough for Mo too… although he’s the one who gets upset with me because he says I don’t answer him and space out looking at my phone when he’s trying to talk to me. Guilty-ish. Sometimes. Like many of you- including my husband- I work pretty much around the clock. Social Media never stops… there’s always news to be read, emails and texts to be answered, and the –gasp– fear of lagging behind or — double gasp– missing something.

I make a conscious effort to put my phone out of reach when we are having dinner or a “serious talk”… but should we all be taking a time out when the work day is technically done to have quality phone-free time with the ones we love?

I’ll admit, I do feel like I miss out on “the moment” sometimes because I am either worried about what is happening in the social space or I am trying to “capture” that moment to later share on the social space.

So here’s a question for you. As our relationships with the outside world, followers, and friends grow through social media, are our relationships with the people in our world (heck, in our own house) suffering?

From sundown March 6th to sundown March 7th is The National Day of Unplugging. Families are encouraged to put down their phones, turn off their computers, and experience life unplugged, and in some ways, life together. Kind of sad that we need a national day to do that, no?

Will you unplug?

I will. There was one other day that I decided to unplug. That was my wedding day.

Mo and I met on Twitter. Social media is a huge part of what we do daily. But we decided to make our wedding day  about us and living in the moment—even though the trend is to have a #weddinghashtag. At several weddings I attended in the months before ours, I noticed that instead to being out on the dance floor having a good time, guests (including me because I felt the pressure to use the hashtag) were worried about posting pictures and videos. I watched one bride spend the majority of her evening being pulled away from the dance floor, and even her groom, for selfies. Those newly weds said they loved being able to search their hashtag and see so many special captured moments of their day.

But for us, we didn’t want the distraction… and believe it or not, we are actually pretty private and so are our families, so after giving it a lot of thought, we didn’t feel comfortable with those intimate photos out for the world to see before we were even able to see them ourselves (let alone digest it all).

So, not only did we not have a hashtag, we had a friend make an announcement before our mass started.

At the request of our Bride & Groom – they ask but one solitary favor of you today. Simple and sincere. This is a very personal and Sacred and private moment for them. Mo and Elisa are asking you to turn off all of your phones and cameras and put them away while we are inside this church, so we can all become a part of their sacrament and truly share this special moment with them.”

Then, our friend and MC said something like this before we entered the ballroom at our reception.

We ask everyone to be “present” in these special moments, unplug and stay off social media. We have a wonderful photographer & videographer, so we respectfully ask that everyone leave all cameras and mobile devices off during the ceremonial parts of the reception.

On our wedding day, Mo and I put our phones away, taking them out only to take two selfies.

our first selfie as husband and wife!

our first selfie as husband and wife!

One, as soon as we got in the limo – and then we enjoyed our only quiet time alone together. We took one other before we went into our cocktail hour. Ironically, that selfie was also captured by our photographer and became the cover of Newsday’s Wedding Planner.

I may not have the photo, but I have this beautiful memory forever captured in my mind. A dear friend suggested that when I step out on the dance floor, I take a moment, look around, feel all of the love in that room, and take it all in. And when I did just that and looked out across our dance floor at my guests, I did not see cell phones staring back at me, I saw the warm smiles and loving eyes of my family and friends. Their “presence” was the best wedding present.

Did you—or will you—have a hashtag?

Will you unplug tomorrow?

For the first time in awhile due to our work and travel schedules, Mo and I are having a Friday night out just the two of us – and we couldn’t be more excited to unplug.

So, if you need me, I’m sorry, I’ll be on a date with my husband.

our second selfie as husband & wife!

our second selfie as husband & wife!Newsday Front Cover Elisa DiStefano and Mo Cassara








6 months… but who’s counting

By Elisa DiStefano

It’s funny sometimes how a special day can feel like yesterday and forever ago all at the same time. That’s how I feel about our wedding day. It’s been 6 months!


This week, Mo and I were back on the dance floor at Oheka Castle for the first time since our wedding. As he twirled me around and around, all of these thoughts were flooding into my mind… the last six months, heck the last year, has really been a whirlwind. (It’s crazy to think that a year ago at this time we were in the thick of planning and there was so much to be done!)

As Carrie Bradshaw once said, I was hit by a bridal wave. It’s taken me—and us–  these 6 months to recover. It’s been like the never-ending wedding.

We still haven’t made our albums (I don’t even know where to begin)… we are still waiting for our video (they say it takes at least 10 months) …  my dress is still hanging in the same position at my mom’s house (she swears she sees it dancing at night sometimes!)… but the thank you cards are finally all sent, and all of the other loose ends are finally tied up. Oh, and, I finally got used to saying “husband”.

There’s this great WSJ article that my girlfriend told me about- how when you get married in your 20s it’s a “startup marriage”… and when you wait until your 30s it’s a “merger marriage”.  I feel like there’s been so much to merge these past months… and it’s been a bit stressful… from finances (ugh finances),  to insurance, to getting joint everything… there’s been a lot to do, and with work, starting new ventures, and travel, not a lot of time to do it in.

So, “how’s married life?” Everyone asks that question. Married life is great…. and being married is different. I wish I could explain exactly how. Even though we lived together first, there is just something different about it now. I feel a much bigger responsibility.  Everything I do now affects someone else, someone I love more than anything. I have different priorities. It’s go time. There’s pressure to figure out what’s next…

People, friends and strangers alike, are also constantly adding to that pressure, asking “when are you having a kids?”, “are you going to buy a house?”, “do you think you’ll move?”… and you have to politely answer…  but really you, okay I, want to scream… because right now we are a day by day operation…

There’s so much ahead, and I try to look at it as exciting, rather than uncertain. Let life surprise you, Elisa.  It’s comforting to know that for the first time I’m not figuring it out on my own. I try to remind myself to take the time to leave a love note, to enjoy being married and celebrate all that we are so grateful to have. As I just started to take a step back and take a breathe, I realize that I need to make some time for me too. From catching up with friends, to taking time out to get those extra gym days back in. I’m back on a more structured eating plan… and even got my first post-wedding facial (and my skin is finally so much better- stress can wreak havoc!) … my nails, that’s a different story!

We are finally starting to move forward and, day by day, figure out what’s our next something new

Any advice for the first year of marriage?






Always a Bridesmaid… lucky 13! The Bridal Shower

By Elisa DiStefano

I am always a bridesmaid! I will be a bridesmaid for the 13th (and ½) time on March 13th! A maid of honor for the 3rd time. But, this is the 1st second wedding for me (and my second time being her maid of honor- what an honor!). So this time, we had to do things differently… starting with the bridal shower. The last time around was over a decade ago— we were so much younger! At that shower we had games, and we had lots of gifts. This time there were no games… and at this stage of the game, my bride pretty much has everything she needs. She only registered for a few things and hoped for contributions to her honeymoon.

But, I wanted to still give something special from all of the bridesmaids.

val shower 1

I went with the “honeymoon” theme and ordered a monogrammed beach bag, filled it with some lingerie, a white bathing suit cover-up, white havianas with a pretty crystal, a “bride” make up case (because I wish I had a new case to carry on my wedding day instead of my every day dirty one!), and the cutest Rebecca Minkoff “Vacay Fund” blue leather pouch that I filled with cash for the Honeymoon. All things that I think every bride could use (and I would personally have loved!).

val favorFor the favors, I did a Pinterist –perfect Bath & Body Works shower gel with the cute saying “From Valerie’s Shower…. To yours!” Something guests could actually use.

My bridal shower was one of my favorite days. I told my mom that I didn’t want a shower. I found them boring, and to be honest, I didn’t want my family spending their money on it. I live in a small house, so I didn’t even know where I would put gifts… and I dreaded “registering”.

An invite to match the "garden party" theme (made by Ipanema Press)

An invite to match the “garden party” theme (made by Ipanema Press)

But– my mom and sister threw me a gorgeous garden party at the beautiful Chelsea Mansion (with the help of the very talented Michael Butkewicz) and vowed it would not be boring! And it wasn’t! We invited guests to wear fancy hats, and made (and glue gunned a few fingers in the process) hats for anyone who didn’t have or forgot! We had a cocktail hour with snacks, and then a lovely ladies luncheon with a signature punch (the Mo Berry Cassara) and a spiked lemonade (Lee Lee Lemonade). We had a DJ to play music… and we had male “dancers” (a gift from one of my most fun friends- and a surprise for all, including my mom) for some entertainment (my 88 year old grandmother was the first to give them dollar bills!)!  I received so many wonderful gifts. One of my favorites, a group of my girl friends chipped in and bought me my wedding shoes because they knew I couldn’t afford to buy them myself!



Making of the hats!

Making of the hats!










Huge hats by  Christine A. Moore

With my mom… Huge hats by
Christine A. Moore




cupcakes (these from The Chocolate Duck) are so much easier because you don't need a server to serve them!

cupcakes (these from The Chocolate Duck) are so much easier because you don’t need a server to serve them!



shower 2

My super fun sister-in-laws… and the “dancers”… don’t worry, they kept it clean and all in good fun!





My Groom & guest greeter

My Groom & guest greeter









Great gift-- my  Jimmy Choos

Great gift– my Jimmy Choos












Do you have any great bridal shower ideas?

A Closer Look… You’re Invited!

By Elisa DiStefano

So thrilled to be featured in today’s Newsday Wedding Planner.

I’ll be posting more wedding details in the coming days now that I have my professional photos!

Starting with ….

Our Invitations (Ipanema Press, Cold Spring Harbor NY)

Adrienne at Ipanema Press helped us to create a classic main invite…


… but then we added some fun with a map and pull out timeline….




BUT my favorite part… the response cards!


It worked- they sure did dance!

My Top 10 Wedding Tips For Success! What I Didn’t Know About Planning My Wedding.

By Elisa DiStefano

ElisaDiStefanoandMoCassaraWeddingI truly had my dream wedding, with beautiful memories to last a lifetime. But, I must admit, there were a few unexpected challenges that I wish I could’ve avoided. So, I thought it would be helpful to the future brides out there, in the midst of their planning frenzy, to list some wedding tips I wish I knew before the big day.

Wedding eve errand checklist revised
Most likely, you will have to go see your bouquet the day before your wedding day. I also scheduled my manicure/pedicure, my Welcome Party and, of course, there were the unforeseen errands. It was way too much in one day. I wish I spent that day enjoying my groom-to-be, family and out of town guests. I am so happy I decided to do the church rehearsal days prior! To save you from some of the wedding eve madness I put together a three day wedding week guide.

Invest in your hair and makeup
Your hair and makeup team play such a big part in your day. Not just by making you look and feel your best, but they set the tone for the rest of your day. I am so glad I chose two talented ladies I absolutely adore. And, I am thrilled I had my mom and sister with me while getting ready. It was pleasant and calm…and that’s what I needed. But, before I was finished getting ready, the rest of my family came over and there was a bit a chaos!

If the Choo fits…wear it and don’t sweat the small stuff
My friends surprised me with my dream Jimmy Choo shoes, as a bridal shower gift; there was just one thing I didn’t realize. As I looked down on the dance floor, many of my friends and other guests were wearing the exact same shoes! They all wore their wedding shoes to my wedding too. Luckily, I was having so much fun I didn’t care!

Tulle dresses can attract bugs
I loved my dress and wouldn’t trade it for any other. However, nobody told me that tulle attracts bugs. I (and my flower girls) had spiders, mosquitoes and unidentifiable insects stuck in between the layers of tulle. It was disgusting. Perhaps, I would not have spent so much time on taking photos on grass.

Bring your veil to your hair trial
I did not have my veil for my hair trial and therefore, put it in my hair for the first time on my wedding day. The comb would not stay in. When it was finally perfect and my stylist left (ask your hair & makeup people to stick around until you literally step into the limo), my veil was stepped on and ripped out of my head (that’s another story). With tears, and a struggle, I got it back in…crooked. The veil kept getting stuck on my gown’s beading, forcing my head in a cocked position!

No shows on your wedding day
I am still so shocked that a handful of people responded yes, but did not show up.  Expect it to happen.

Don’t rely on guest gifts to pay for your wedding
Spend what you can afford, and don’t rely on the money you receive as gifts.

Read your contracts
You sign contracts long before your actual wedding date, so re-read them. Know how many hours are included in services. When it comes to your florist, as the guest list goes up, the number of tables/centerpieces goes up – and consequently, your bill!

Set aside money before the wedding to tip your vendors
Be sure to set aside money for the tips you will need to give the vendors the day of your wedding. Ahead of time, you can ask your Maitre D’ for his/her recommendations for tip amounts. And, have extra money on hand at your wedding.

Sleep & eat
Make sure you get sleep leading up to the big day. Don’t stay up late the night before your wedding. And, thank goodness I ate before I left for the church…I didn’t get to eat again until my after party!

Do you have any wedding tips from your wedding? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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