A week ago, we spent the weekend combing through Crate & Barrel looking for things to register for. A knife block was probably the first thing that we agreed we wanted… fine China was a different story. We’ve been living together for 3 years now and have a lot of the things that we need in life. Our friends that got married this past summer used Honeyfund to allow guests to give money for larger gifts (like bedroom set and honeymoon). We really liked that idea so we’ve decided to create our own Honeyfund for our guests. Although we haven’t decided on our perfect honeymoon spot… we have a few in mind that would be oh-so-nice to go relax after our wedding. Honeyfund lets guests give as much or little money as they want and the money can come to us directly or be given to us at the wedding. Very convenient! Check out our site here!

Since we’ve been on the wedding scene A LOT over the past 3 years, I’ve seen some items on registries that have caught my eye. One in particular…

The KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Oh my! I can see myself whipping up lots of goodies for my husband over the many years we have to come. However, this isn’t an item that we’ve agreed is a “must-have” on our registry… and I’d much rather a new bedroom set or one of the many other things that we’d both like to have.

This knife block would be PERFECT in our kitchen! Love the color of the actual block… and the idea of having all matching knives! When my husband-to-be gets home from the Panther’s game today, we are going to sit down and figure out the rest of our items that we would like to have as we start our life together. Now that we have a date, we can actually register! So, so exciting!

What are the “must-have” items when registering? Anything we HAVE to put on the list?

Say yes to the dress!

Thursday afternoon, I went shopping with Michelle and Gean in search of a Watters gown that Gean and I had found online (loving that we can instant message pictures of wedding dresses back and forth at work)… so we made an appointment and off we went.

Both girls, myself + the stylist at the store helped pick out dresses based on my desires and I entered a dressing room full of beautiful white heaven. The first one was a perfectly lovely gown… and had the best price tag I’ve seen on a dress ($599 with 30% off!). Can’t beat that!

I really did LOVE this dress but I don’t think it fit the outdoor wedding scene and it was kind of hot (which not being hot in August in North Carolina is going to be tough-enough without be strapped into a hot dress for 8+ hours). The next dress was just “okay” and looking back at the pictures, it kind of had a funny cut to the neckline. Not a huge fan anymore… especially not for it’s price tag.

I did like that it was a little less poofy than some that I had tried on… but again, that neckline looks funny so we had to return it to the rack. The next one was “on sale” but still over $2k which was not exactly what I was looking to spend on a dress. It had a sweet lace detail on the bottom… but I didn’t really LOVE it on me…

The very last one I tried on was one the sales lady had chosen. And ladies and gentlemen, it is “THE ONE.” I didn’t believe that there was really a “moment” that you just knew when you were trying on dresses that you had found the one, but I so had that moment. I’m completely head-over-heels in love with this dress, I can’t wait to wear it down the aisle next August. My sweet husband-to-be will probably find me wearing it and posing in front of mirrors for years to come.

No turning back…

Y’all… this morning I put down our deposit for catering, tables/chairs and our venue…. and signed the contract!
It’s official… we are 100% getting married on August 17, 2013 at The Dairy Barn. Oh my. Dreams are starting to come true!!!

Ps… I found THE dress last night. (Big THANK YOU to Gean & Michelle for accompanying me to the shop and giving me their honest opinions. I am one very luck girl to have such amazing friends!) Now just have to let mom see it and seal the deal!

Kids, or no kids?

Calm down, we’re not debating on whether or not we will have children, just whether or not we will allow kids at our wedding. Family kids alone is adding about 15 people to the guest list (which is already over the amount of people we wanted to invite…. and without several people that we had hoped to be able to invite on that list)… tough decision. Let me show you why…

My sweet, sweet, adorable little cousins. Maddi & Addi are almost the same age and I literally adore those little girls. Addi is my mini-me and Maddi is… well… she realllly loves that Landon is going to be a part of the family. I love them to pieces and can’t imagine celebrating such a big day in my life without two people who have been such a big part of my life. Drew too… he’s Addi’s little brother and a very special little boy in my life. Then there’s this guy….
My nephew who is just too stinkin’ cute to leave out. I mean seriously… look at those eyes! I initially didn’t want babies there (because of crying during the ceremony) but again, I can’t imagine not having pictures of me holding this little man on the happiest day of my life.

I’ve seen weddings every which way… no kids, everyone’s kids, only family kids, only kids that were in the wedding, only allowed until a certain time…. it’s just such a hard decision. Who to cut out, who is a must-have… but it comes down to a number limit and budget, I think.

I should also point out that my fiance has quite a few kids on his side of the family (adorable kids) and I think he would regret it afterwards if they weren’t there… so even if we don’t have kids in the wedding (I’m thinking no flower girl or ring bearer – that’s why we have dogs!) … I do think I at least want family kids there.

What do y’all think? What’s the best way to approach this?

Set in Stone

Selecting the date of our “big day” was another challenging part of this process. So many to choose from but which one is the right one? We got engaged in the fall, so a Spring 2013 wedding would have been super fast, but Spring of 2014 felt so far away…. so we started looking at Fall of 2013 but I didn’t really want a “Fall” wedding. Yes, the colors would be pretty and it would be a little cooler (apologizing now for the date we did choose – there will be water and fans)… but in my head, I’ve always dreamt of a warm weather wedding with short bridesmaid dresses, tan suits for the guys and a strapless dress for me with no need for a cover-up. So I couldn’t do Fall…

We considered Labor Day weekend as well…which is still technically Summer. Sunday (and Friday) weddings are cheaper than your traditional Saturday wedding, and with Labor Day providing a day off work for our guests, it seemed as though it might work to have a Sunday celebration and Monday to recover. But hey, we’re in the South and a football loving couple (Go Hokies!), so we couldn’t make people choose between kick-off games and our wedding… Although, since we have been dating, we have been to weddings on Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day… so those holiday weekends that we long for at work were consumed by (amazing) weddings for our friends. But we’re not going to do that to you…

So when is it? When is our anniversary going to be every year from 2013 on? Well, you can start saving the date now (even though we fully intend on sending out some gorgeous cards for you to display on your refridgerators)… We are getting married on:

Got the groom, got the venue, got the date… next up: Save the Dates & Invitations!

Perfect Place!

Deciding on the venue + date has to be the toughest part of the wedding (at least until we work on finalizing our invite list – but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it)… looking at pictures and reviews – and of course prices, was a stressful part of this planning process. For as many as possible, I tried to get emails with quotes, confirmation of availablity, catering options and also a feel for how the people were to work with. It helped that I knew going in I wanted a very Southern wedding in the Carolinas with a barn for the reception that had air conditioning and was more than a tent… (did I mention I was raised on a farm?!)

One guy, had a gorgeous barn in Chapel Hill, a 12-hour rental, and very reasonable prices but his communication was equivalent to that of an angry gorilla and thus, I wanted no part of paying him any money – or having to deal with his nonsense throughout the process. I asked to answer some questions + provide a quote through email… to which he responded no, that I must call. So I asked if he could please just address the capacity, availability and catering questions through email (so I would know if it was worth my time to call) – and I did explain to him that I work full time and then immediately go to graduate school afterwards and this was the response:


We moved on from that one REAL FAST. Next up was The Angus Barn in Raleigh, which quickly got marked off the list for their $20,000 food minimum. Um, what? I’m sorry… I don’t want to spend that much on my entire wedding, much less the food (it did include alcohol as well) but still… that’s a lot of money. It was beautiful and I’m sure our wedding would have been perfect there, but it was purely a budgeting/financial issue with that one.

I knew Fearrington Village had a beautiful barn area as we had visited it before, but I had my suspiscions that it would be out of our price range… and I was right. It was about $9,000 to have the ceremony and reception there… that’s before food, alcohol, wedding dress, etc. Again, I’m sure it would have been a beautiful wedding, but I’d rather put that $9,000 towards a new house than on a one-night special event.

Then there was The Dairy Barn … enter angels singing “Hallelujah!” We were smitten from the moment we arrived. Gorgeous green fields with horses romping, a sweet, old farm house as you pull up, and last but not least, the Dairy Barn itself. It was fabulous. Plus, we got this feeling of being very comfortable working with the folks from there that we hadn’t had from talking to anyone else. AND with using the Dairy Barn for our reception, we get access to all 2300 acres that Leroy Springs has to offer and can have our ceremony anywhere we want!

There is also a fabulous upstairs space in the Dairy Barn that we can use somehow (haven’t figured this out yet) but it can also be our “Plan B” in case it rains and ruins the outdoor ceremony we are planning.

So there it is… our venue! Meeting tomorrow to sign the contract and pay the deposit… our very first deposit on our wedding (eeek!). I am one very happy bride-to-be knowing that this tough decision has been made and will be finalized in the morning. Venue, check…..

Big White Dress

The dress shopping experience was a little rushed for me… as I didn’t plan to even start looking until December or January (aka when I have a break from school!). However, I stumbled across a J. Crew dress last week that made my wedding-dress lovin’ heart skip a beat! However, I live in North Carolina and the only store that carries that dress lives in NYC. But wait, that’s not the real dilemma… they only have 3 sizes left in this dress… and only 2 of which I can wear! Enter the need for an emergency dress shopping situation and a very much appreciated girlfriend who spent her Saturday zipping and unzipping me!

We started at NY Bride & Groom on South Blvd … But I did like that they let us pick the gowns and my friend was able to come in the dressing room with me. (PS – these are not your normal size fitting rooms- LOVE!).

I’ll share a few of the shots that she snapped (obviously only in the dresses that I am for sure not getting). I only tried this dress on for fun because it was super heavy and detailed but looking back at the pictures… I do kind of love it! For the right setting of course… I pretty much stuck to sweetheart style necklines but the rest of the dress was fair game. I knew I wanted to try on Modern Trousseau gowns, so we went to Hayden Olivia for those. I immediately fell in love with this all-over lace Modern Trousseau (Abbey) gown. I mean, how could you not? It was beautiful in every possible way… and light too. Since I’m planning an August wedding in the South, light is key! However, my heart (and wallet) did not love the price tag on this beauty ($3600+) so I didn’t even ask them to write it down for me. This dress had a little bit of everything, a little lace, a flower, a little ruffle, a little poof… but it didn’t quite do it for me. Honestly, the first dress I tried on was probably the most likely to be purchased. I just got an email from J. Crew though and the beautiful gown I am coveting from there is 25% off with free shipping…

To order, or not to order, that is the question!

Pinning & Pining

Ever heard of Pinterest? Well before the ring, I had been pinning away on boards dedicated to the wedding that I was pining over one-day having! But now… that it’s actually happening… so many of my pins aren’t relevant! We’re not having a beach wedding, so nix those cute starfish on the table and flip flops by the edge of the sand ideas. I wore a dress in half of our engagement pictures, so I didn’t get a chance to do a piggy back ride picture (I happen to LOVE piggy back rides – weird, I know).

So I decided to create a new board, that also allowed my very beautiful and oh-so-amazing bridesmaids to pin to it as well. They have been so helpful with the ideas. And one of them got engaged just three tiny weeks after I did, so now she’s busy planning her very own “big day” so I figured since her wedding will be more beach-esque than mine, she can certainly get some ideas from those older pins of mine.

My southern shendig is being planned based on a lot of these “pins.” Virtual planning is very helpful as I’m able to do this from my phone, work or class (shhh!). My sweet sister-in-law bought me a planning book full of checklists and necessities… so between that and my Pinterest boards… I’ve got all the planning utensils I need. Now I just need an unlimited bank account to cover everything!

Engagement Photos!

Immediately (seriously, THE NEXT DAY) following the engagement, I began emailing photographers for prices on an engagement session. Many of them told me they included engagement sessions with their wedding package – which is awesome – but I kind of wanted to try them out first… you know? Before I splurged on wedding photos, I’d like to see what you can do for us. Portfolios online were great but it was really important for me to see what OUR pictures were going to look like.

Gabrielle Lover Photography

I found several photographers who offered to do 30-minute mini-sessions with us for a reasonable price and I settled on Gabrielle Lover. I liked the photos she had featured online and I figured $60 was a good deal for a few good shots of me and my husband-to-be. We met at “The Green” in uptown Charlotte for our mini-session – and she even let us include our fur babies in the pictures!

Gabrielle Lover Photography
Gabrielle Lover Photography

Although it was a short session, we did get several photos out of it that we really loved. And since it was such a small investment, we are able to consider doing more in the spring or when we book our photographer for our wedding. We had a blast taking the pictures – although the pups didn’t cooperate quite like I wanted them to (BIG thanks to our friends Seth & Scott for holding them while we finished our session) we still got one (semi) good shot of us with them.

Gabrielle Lover Photography

I highly recommend reaching out to several photographers to see their prices, availability and of course, their style before making a decision. The mini-session was a great way to go because you could easily have several mini-sessions for the same price of a normal engagement session and get lots of pictures while trying out lots of photographers as well. $60 in my book was a great price for the shots that we got… now we are on the hunt for our wedding photographer! We’re getting married, y’all!

Gabrielle Lover Photography

THE story!

My darling groom-to-be had been out of town all weekend but had left sweet love notes all over the house for me to find. There was a note by the door telling me to have a good weekend, a note inside my laptop telling me he loved me, a note on the fridge telling me to check inside…. and then a note on top of my very favorite ice cream (Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from Earth Fare), a note on my pillow telling me goodnight, a note inside my shoe wishing me “good luck” on my 5-mile race, well, you get the picture… he covered all of his bases with the notes.

Sunday he came home and we had an early dinner as we both had homework to catch up on (not only do we both work full-time, we’re both in grad school!). I decided to take our sweet puppies for a run before I settled in to do some homework. While working diligently on whatever project it was that night, Landon came downstairs to convince my dog to come back upstairs with him.

Anyone who has met my dog, knows he doesn’t like to be away from his “mommy.” So the convincing took a little work but eventually he decided that he should follow Landon back upstairs only to come bounding back down the stairs seconds later with a blue note tied around his neck that said “Mommy” on the front. And then I heard “our song” come on the surround sound…. that’s when I knew.

Some sweet words were spoken, and a sparkly beauty was placed on my left hand and I became an engaged woman! YAY! Let the planning begin!