Life after the wedding

I thought that life would slow down a bit after the wedding. You know, we’d get settled in, find places for all of our new things, get back in a routine, have some time to just relax… but that hasn’t happened yet. We have been just as busy as before – the Mr. is back in school, my work hours have gradually gotten longer (can’t complain since I love my new job), and our weekends are plum full of traveling, parties or events for which we previously bought tickets. I’m not complaining because I LOVE all of the things that we are doing as husband and wife, but I do wish we had longer in the evenings to go for runs together, or a weekend here and there to go hiking or sneak away to a cabin while the leaves are changing. So here’s a peak at post-wedding life:

halfmarathon2

Between football games in Blacksburg, work trips to Boston and birthday parties for all of our friend’s adorable children in Charlotte, I managed to run a half marathon with my friend Valerie.
DSC_0428I had to go to Atlanta for a work event, but before I left, I made my handsome husband’s favorite peanut butter cookies. (So easy: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup peanut butter, 1 egg. Mix, bake on 350 for 8-10 minutes). I also tucked some sweet notes in his lunch boxes that I packed in advance for him (good wife award!).
DSC_0445At the event in Atlanta, I met Walter Scheib, the former White House chef and now author and speaker. His stories about the Bush’s and Clinton’s were fascinating, hilarious and oh-so-interesting. It was a pleasure to work with him that evening and to taste his delicious creations. Can’t wait to put our new cook book to use!

1395824_10100627318101603_563393216_nWe did a 5k for Halloween in our Mr. & Mrs. Pacman costumes. Our first race as husband and wife and our first Mr. & Mrs. costume (beside the wedding day get-up!). Running is one of my favorite things to do with LW. He doesn’t love it as much as I do, and more so does it because he “should” for his health, but to me, it’s great, uninterrupted time together.

Apparently, you don’t actually get hours added back into your day when you’re done with wedding planning. So, we’ve found crockpot meals give us longer together in the evenings, walks at lunchtime give us a great afternoon break and if I can drag my sleepy butt out of bed early enough (he goes to work 2 hours before me), coffee together is a great way to start our day. We’re figuring out our new married life routine, and looking forward to Fall 2014 when he graduates, and the holidays when we can relax a little!

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Bachelorette Parties

Bachelorette parties are thrown as the “last fling” before the bride gets married, although it doesn’t always have to have a “party” theme to it. Typically, the bridesmaids attend and possibly some close friends who may not be in the wedding. The planning for the bachelorette party falls on the Maid/Matron of Honor in most cases, but there are usually some bridesmaids who have creative ideas and want to help out. Depending on the bride’s personality and desires, you may do something local or you may be asked to travel for a weekend, or maybe even longer!

For local Charlotte bachelorette parties, you have a plethora of restaurants and bars to choose from. If the bride wants something more low-key, you could always spend a day at the spa. If the bride actually wants a party, I would recommend starting with dinner at Enso or 5 Church before starting the evening fun and then making your way out into the bars.  Howl at the Moon is pretty popular for Bachelorette Parties. On any given Friday or Saturday night, you will see a handful there. And if you’re already at the EpiCenter, then you can make your way around to the other bars in the area.

The NC Music Factory is another spot in Charlotte that has a lot going on. Starting at VBGB would be a good way to kick off the evening, and then you could make your way around the bars at the Music Factory. If the bride is a fan of live music, try picking a night there is a concert!

If the bride-to-be wants to get out of town, consider escapes within driving distance of the bridesmaids. Hot spots include Charleston, Savannah and Wilmington. All of these places offer not only incredible food and bar scenes, but also history and beautiful beaches.  Not planning a summer bachelorette party? Consider Asheville, Blowing Rock or Raleigh. The first two provide a mountain escape, while Raleigh provides a city getaway without the beach.

If a weekend getaway to a drivable location isn’t exactly what the bride wants, consider Miami, Las Vegas, San Diego or Key West. Adding in a flight is a lot to ask of bridesmaids, but if they’re up for it (and financially able), then it would be a weekend to remember for sure! Once you have a group chipping in, hotel rooms are much less expensive. You can also look for condos or houses for rent on sites like VRBO.com, which can sometimes be cheaper than hotels.

The options for locations are endless when it comes to bachelorette parties. Do your research on restaurants and bars, and make reservations where needed. Decide in advance if there’s a theme to the night so everyone can get their outfits together. And most importantly, be ready to make the bride feel special and have the time of her life!

 

NY Bridal Market

Last weekend in New York, the Bridal Market was held. It was sponsored by WeddingWire and bridal vendors come out for fashion shows, magazine distribution and parties. It’s a great way to see the latest trends. If you weren’t fortunate enough to attend, you could follow along through pictures and tweets, and even some live viewings of the shows. Since it was a fashion show, you also see dresses that might be a bit more than what you’re wanting for your own wedding – that goes for the price tag and the style of the dress (think tulle gallore, beading/sequins and more poof than you know what to do with!).

Sharing my top 5 wedding gown choices if I were to plan my wedding all over again:

1. BHLDN (Anthropologie) Titania Gown: Love the girly/flirty look of this one!

BHLDN2. Modern Trousseau French Lace: That lace is TO DIE FOR!

lace

3. WTOO Zora Gown: This dress is so delicate and classic looking! (Also check out the Jessica by Watters)

zora

4. Lula Kate “Novak”: The trumpet/mermaid style is all the rage this year!

novak2

5. WTOO (Watters) Bristol: *this was the gown I almost bought – and I still LOVE the way it looks – although I would have changed the liner (add one!) and put a zipper instead of lace up in the back. (Also check out the Gloria Gown by Watters)

bristol

I had so much fun trying on wedding dresses each time (even when mine showed up in a box from J. Crew!). Picking the perfect dress can be fun but also stressful. Important to try on lots of styles and not just the one you have in your head. The WTOO dress that I loved was one that the stylist helping me picked out and brought to the dressing room. You’ll be amazed at what you like and don’t like once you’re actually in the dresses.

If you’re looking for dresses for showers, parties or your rehearsal, check out these that I’m auctioning off on eBay:

J Crew Blakely:
blakelyLilly Pulitzer Bernadette:
bernadetteLilly Pulizer White Halter Dress:

halterLilly Pulitzer White Maxi Dress:

maxi

As a bride-to-be, you can’t have too many white dresses!

What were your favorite styles from the Bridal Market?

Missing the Moment

My husband and I often discuss putting our phones down so that we don’t miss the moment. But sometimes it’s hard for me not to want to take photos of every animal at the zoo, or catch a shot of each of the fireworks on the 4th of July, but while doing that, I’m not living in the moment – I’m very clearly planning to look back at it later. While saving photos is a great way to look back and remember moments, it might cause you to miss out on some special ones in the meantime (although, I don’t regret taking photos of the pandas!).

Just yesterday, I tweeted an infographic on taking a technology break, or “unplugging” as it is being called. Unplugging means putting the phone down and choosing people to talk to, instead of your virtual friends on Instagram. Doesn’t sound hard, but lately it seems as though our iPhones are glued to our hands. We heard a story on The Moth about parents being overly concerned with videoing their child’s school play to post on Facebook, which incidentally causes them to actually miss their child’s play as it happens.

annadelores.com
annadelores.com

Recently, I’ve noticed more and more that wedding guests are actively photographing and recording weddings. It’s one thing to snap a quick shot of the couple as they put rings on, kiss or head back down the aisle, but to stand up and record, or to bring your DSLR to the ceremony, that’s a little overboard. The idea of an unplugged wedding is an intriguing one. Asking guests to turn their devices off as they arrive will certainly ensure that phones don’t ring during your ceremony, and might help add bodies to the dance floor later on. What you don’t want to happen is guests getting in the way of the photographer and videographers that you’ve hired (and paid A LOT of money), just to make sure that they get the best shot.

WeddingBee.Com
WeddingBee.Com

More important than getting in front of the bouquet toss line to get a picture, is getting in the bouquet toss line to participate in the wedding activities. You might wonder if you’ll miss out on candid photos, and you might… on a few. But if you’ve done your homework and hired a photographer who knows what they’re doing, then you’ll end up with those fun shots anyway. If you still want your guests taking photos, go old school and put disposable cameras on the tables – you never know what you’re going to get with those!

If you’re following the hashtag trend and you’ve come up with a cute combination of your names to use, you can’t also ask your guests to be unplugged. It’s definitely not the choice for all, but it’s worth considering. You may find more guests up and about instead of sitting at their table trying to figure out which photo they should Instagram or walking around with their iPad.

Texting my groom "I can't wait to marry you" just before walking down the aisle
Texting my groom “I can’t wait to marry you” just before walking down the aisle

While we didn’t have an unplugged wedding, we do aim to have at least a couple “unplugged” hours together a day. It can be tough, especially on days/nights he has schoolwork or that I work from home, or just in general when one of us feels the need to have our phone with us. I leave my phone on silent at night and turn it over just in case someone calls (that way we don’t see the light). And I’ve found myself posting more “#latergram”s than “instagrams” recently. You should try it. While having dinner, whether on the couch or at the table, try talking to the person in front of you, instead of linking up with others on social media. It will feel good, and your S. O. will appreciate it. I used the hashtag #peopleoverphones the other day, let’s try to make that happen in real life too.

Would love to hear other’s thoughts on unplugged weddings. Did you have one? Do you think you could leave your phone off for 6 hours while at a wedding?

Tackling the Guest List

Tackling your guest list will likely take more than one night and more than one bottle of wine. Before you’re engaged (and have set a budget) you imagine your guest list will include your extended families, both of your college friends, sorority sisters/fraternity brothers, a few high school friends, those friends you’ve made as a couple, and maybe even work friends (it is polite to invite your boss).

Once you get a quote back from a caterer, your philosophy on who gets invitations will likely change. At $15-45 a head, your wedding can get exponentially more expensive as your guest list grows. And you will have to reconsider some of the people that might have made your first draft list.

We started with an excel sheet and put our immediate families, our wedding party (and their +1s), and our vendors on the list. While you don’t necessarily need chairs for vendors or invitations, you do need to feed them (although it does not have to be the same food you feed your guests*). We then added extended family members that were a must and our mutual friends. Our list quickly approached 125. We discussed other friends/guests we would like to invite on an individual basis and made decisions to add or leave off of the list. THIS WAS NOT EASY. There were easily a dozen more people we each would have invited but it would have made us go over budget, and also cramped our reception area (they cannot fit over 200 people in there!).

We took several days (weeks) to finalize our list – and even at the near end we were adding people to it. You should look at it as a work in progress (until you have to give your final counts to your vendors). At some point, you’ll consider eloping, having a small intimate wedding, or tossing your budget and inviting everyone you know – and then you’ll come back to reality. Once we made our list, we used it for everything, including invites, RSVPs, seating chart and thank yous (If you do it in Excel like we did, it’s easy to copy the tab and use the same list without recreating data!)!

Even if you have an A list and a B list, don’t tell a “B list” guest that some A listers couldn’t make it, so you now have room for them (had an ex do this to a mutual friend, very tacky – but did give us a good laugh!). There will probably be some guests that you thought were “sure things” who will end up not being able to come – and it will make room for others if that’s how you want to see it. Or it can cut down on your costs.

Just remember that you want people there that you care about and that care about you. You want people there who will enjoy celebrating the love that you have found and your new adventure. It’s not about who your parents want to invite (unless they’re contributing funds!), and it’s not about not hurting people’s feelings. It’s your day. It’s about you (and your groom) and with whom you want to share your special day. Good luck!

 

The Bridesmaid Game

One of the most fun parts of planning your wedding is the time spent with your bridesmaids: showers, bachelorette party, and of course sharing all the fun details. So how do you pick who will stand by your side on the most special day of your life?

There are about a million web pages to give you guidance on your decision-making – here are the top 5 that came up when I Googled it:

1. Dessy

2. Bridal Guide

3. The Knot

4. Wedding Channel

5. Wise Geek

I gave my bridesmaids this book when I asked them to be a part of my wedding.
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First you (and your groom) need to decide how many members will be in your wedding party. Once the number has been agreed upon, you can begin deciding who to include. For most, there’s an obligatory thought to include family members – be it a sister, cousin, niece or even an in-law. There are probably a few girls that you’ve shared late nights with, lots of laughs, and even a few tears, and these are the people you will plan to include in your wedding party. And there are a few who will automatically assume they are going to be a part of your wedding.

Before sending out cute invitation asking your BFFs and family members to share in months of planning, parties and one very important weekend, consider a few things:

1. How much time will your choices be able to spend with you over a several month span?

This part is more for the bridesmaids than the bride: being a bridesmaid requires time (and money). Not only do you have to try on a dress (or five), you will be invited to numerous parties/showers, there will be a weekend or maybe even a week that you are asked to celebrate the last days of singledom with the bride, and of course, there is a weekend where almost every moment is dedicated to someone else. While most brides don’t expect their bridesmaids to be at every event, there is a certain level of participation that is desired. 

2. How organized are they and do they pay attention to detail?

Having an organized bridesmaid is essential. This should be the maid or matron of honor, since the responsibility of planning a bridal shower and bachelorette party, and helping you stay stress-free on the day of the wedding. You need someone who can command the attention of the other bridesmaids, pull together common dates for events, gather money for things like deposits on your bachelorette trip, and someone who can make sure everyone else stays in the loop on what’s going on. It’s a good thing to confirm all of your bridesmaid’s email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses in the beginning and get those to the MOH. Also important to make sure your bridesmaids actually check their email. You don’t want someone showing up on the day of wondering “were we supposed to wear pearls?” 

3. Do they want to be a part of it?

It actually matters how much your choices want to be a part of your day. If you chose someone because you felt like you had to (and they felt like they had to be in your wedding because you asked), it might not work out the best for you. It’s possible that you’ll end up having someone who is lacksadasical about participating in your wedding. You might have asked someone who doesn’t have enough money to go to Vegas for a 4-day weekend, or to the Keys for a week. If you look, and you care to, you will see who really wants to be a part of your wedding. You will see the ones who ask you how things are going, go shopping for dresses with you, and tag you in pins on Pinterest of wedding ideas in your style. While you obviously want to pick who YOU want to be in your wedding, it’s worth considering if your first picks have the same desire. 

I have a few friends who have recently gotten engaged, and I have listened to these questions on several occasions. The only advice I could give came from the three questions I posed above. Question three was especially applicable to my decision making process. You want to pick fun bridesmaids, genuine people, good friends. You want to pick those that will be honest with you when you put on a dress that’s too poofy, that will encourage you to keep working out if you’re complaining you haven’t seen results just yet, and that will offer to come write on 10 chalkboards and put guest bags together with you. And once you decide on WHO you’re asking, you can browse through Pinterest and Etsy looking for ways to ask!

 

 

Perfect Products

On your wedding day, it goes without saying that you want to look your VERY best. Using premium products can only help when it comes to that end goal. While sometimes it is hard to splurge on that $40 half of an ounce bottle of hair oil, the end result is well worth it. Today, I am going to share some of my FAVORITE products that I used on my wedding day (and most other days too!).

ProductHair:

1. For limp, fine hair like mine, Pure Abundance by Aveda is a God-send. You can tell that it add volume and life to your hair right away and more importantly, it lasts!

2. Moroccan Oil has one of those “ouch” prices on a teeny-tiny bottle of product but is so worth it. I used to be terrified that it would leave my hair greasy looking but it doesn’t. It leaves soft and light. (Bonus, that tiny bottle lasts FOREVER!).

Skin:

3. Smashbox PhotoFinish primer was recommended to me to keep my makeup on the entire day. While I’m sure other primers work well, I loved the way this felt on my face and the matted look it provided. And true to the claim, my makeup lasted (even through the rain!). You can get samples of this product at Sephora if you aren’t ready to splurge on the full tube.

4. I purchased the Aveeno Stress Relieving Foaming bath the week before the wedding. I tried to use it each night before I went to bed, in hopes it would help me relax and also fall asleep quickly. I loved the smell of it and think I probably relaxed a little (could have totally been psychological). It did not help me fall asleep – at all. But I am still using it and would definitely recommend it (plus it’s only $7 at Target!).

Finishing touches:

5. BareMinerals Flawless Definition mascara was a great finishing touch to blend my natural lashes with my fake ones. It was waterproof so I knew that if I cried, I wouldn’t mess up all the work that the makeup artist had put into my face. I had an Aveda makeup artist for my wedding and they don’t do waterproof mascara (not natural) so I had to get my own. I’m still using and LOVING this purchase. Totally worth $18!

6. OPI Mimosas for the Mr. & Mrs nail polish was what I originally chose for my bridesmaids and me to wear at the wedding (however, scatterbrained bride ended up forgetting the polish for the nail appointments so we went with limo scene by Essie). I still love this color, it’s subtle but girly and different from a french manicure. You can snag this color at any drug store or Target.

Would love to hear what your favorite products are for your hair, skin and nails! Share in the comments!