Be Our Guest (book) GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to 2015’s first giveaway! This item has to go to a special group of people, those who are engaged and I know that’s A LOT of you since most engagement happen between Thanksgiving and Valentines day! (Congratulations – SUCH an exciting time!!). I want to help you knock one thing off of that planning list with this giveaway:

Customized Wedding Guest Book

This hand crafted, personalized guest book by For Love Polka Dots will be created JUST FOR YOU. It will include both of your names, your married last initial and your wedding date, along with 86 (43 front and back) pages to be signed by all of your friends and family on your special day. Gorgeous, right?

So here’s how you enter:

DONATE: Donate $5 or more to the Pretty in Pink Wishes campaign to make bucket list wishes for breast cancer survivors through the Pretty in Pink Foundation come true. For every $5 donated, you get an entry!

COMMENT: Come back here and leave a comment letting me know you donated, what your new last initial will be and your wedding date (it’s okay if you don’t know the date yet, they’ll work with you!).

Giveaway starts now and ends on Tuesday, January 13th at midnight. May the odds be ever in your favor – and high five for doing a good thing for these breast cancer champions!

*Comments are moderated. It may not appear immediately after leaving comment but will once approved. Winner will be chosen at random after giveaway ends. I will do the drawing on video and post an update here. Share with your friends. All of the money raised is for an excellent cause!

Happy Hump Day!

When to do what!

I’ve gotten some questions lately about when to send gifts, when to send Thank Yous and of course, how long can you wait to do either?

First of all, if you’re going to the wedding and it’s a reasonable sized gift, you can always take it with you (hint, hint: card with cash!). If it’s a large gift, you’re in the wedding, or you don’t want to make the bride + groom lug the gift home after the wedding, you can have it shipped to them in advance – most websites like Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target do this for free or a small fee. Most people wait to send wedding gifts until the 2 month range prior to the wedding, or when one can assume showers/engagement parties are over. If the couple sends you a message saying they are having a small ceremony this year or going to the courthouse and plan to do something bigger with the whole family/friends crowd next year, it’s acceptable to wait until the bigger party, but certainly okay to go ahead and send them something (they did just get married!).

If you’re on the receiving end of the gifts, it’s in your best interest to write those thank yous as you receive the gifts – I promise you will be glad you did later! If you just can’t bring yourself to write thank yous before the wedding, keep a detailed list of who sent what so that when you do have time, you’ll be able to write detailed notes. In the event you don’t receive any gifts shipped to your home pre-wedding (doubt this will happen), you have up to 6 months to write your thank yous after the wedding. I would advise you not to take the full six months. Sit down each evening for a week after your honeymoon and split the list with your hubby and bust out 10 a piece each night, you’ll have it done before you know it and guests will appreciate the quick acknowledgement of how much you loved their gift. The Knot has a great guide for Thank You notes that will help you with this task.

As with everything else in life, you’re better off being early than late 😉

 

Looking back

Tomorrow makes 11 months that we have been married. Tomorrow is one year from the day that we drove out to our ceremony site and buried a bottle of bourbon (upside down, at the exact spot and time that we were to get married). Southern tradition tells you that you’ll have good weather on your wedding day if you do this (Southern tradition lied in our case but didn’t ruin the day!).

Having been almost an entire year, I’ve been sentimental and looking back at all of the photos leading up to our big day. Such as trying on dresses:

Engagement parties:

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Doing hair and make-up trials:

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Getting our marriage license in middle-of-nowhere SC and realizing we wouldn’t have an NC marriage license:

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Bachelorette parties (yes, multiple):

Bridal portraits in Blacksburg so I had a piece of “home” included in the wedding:

Rehearsing, and letting go of all of my stress the day before the wedding. Obviously, my groom wasn’t stressing either 😉

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Hard to believe it’s been almost a year and we’re already planning a getaway to celebrate our anniversary. We’ve certainly had some high-stress times with my grandfather leaving us, buying a new home and finding renters for our other home, LW taking a traveling job, fostering puppies (this was only stressful for the hubs, the puppy breath made it okay for me!). And we’ve had some really amazing times going to concerts, museums, hiking, traveling to PA, MD, VA, IL, FL, MA… and of course Aruba, buying a 2nd home, eating at a gazillion delicious restaurants, running 5ks together, and enjoying being husband and wife. So grateful for the memories we’ve made and looking forward to a hundred more years of them, and having this guy by my side.

 

Married in a Magazine!

In January, Carolina Bride magazine released their January/March issue and included our wedding. For those who don’t live in the Charlotte area, you can read the article online and check out the photos. We didn’t hire a wedding photographer with the plan of getting our photos in a magazine – but some do.

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Most wedding magazines are looking for the details: the creative/personal touches you put on your day. Interesting cakes or dessert bars, cute sayings or quotes, chalkboards, floral designs, inclusion of family heirlooms or trinkets, all of those make for great photos and are clearly personalized. Also, while corrected photos can be absolutely gorgeous, most magazines want photos with natural light and very little correcting.

JPRBv.St.138Some magazines will tell you exactly what they like to include. If you’re set on having your wedding featured in a magazine, be sure to check out their requirements before you sit down with your photographer for the first time. Setting an expectation up front for what you want to happen, can make the process much easier. As I mentioned in this article, sharing photos with your photographer of what you want to be captured can help them understand your style and plan for specific poses.

8ptWa.St.138Be sure to understand the magazine before setting your heart on submitting photos. Some magazines only accept photos from vendors who advertise with them, such as Carolina Bride Magazine based in Charlotte, NC. Also, they only accept photos from weddings in Charlotte or from Charlotte based couples. Southern Weddings magazine based in Chapel Hill, NC, features only Southern weddings (duh!). Making sure you have the right amount of southern will be a key to being featured in their online blog or in print. The Knot and Martha Stewart Weddings are other magazines that you could shoot for, but understand that they get a lot of submissions!

15om1u.St.138Make sure who it is that needs to submit the photos and ensure all forms are properly completed. Each magazine accepts a different number of photos, and some just want a “preview” of your wedding to see if they will consider it.

nzr2U.St.138Understanding what the magazine’s current views are will also help. If you’re submitting a DIY wedding to an upscale wedding magazine, your chances of getting accepted may be slim. The same goes if you only submit posed and corrected photos to a magazine that’s requesting candid shots, creative shots or natural shots.

OfULY.St.138Make sure to include photos from throughout the day, as well. You want some from the moment you start getting ready…

1kQlwg.St.138To the second you’re getting ready to walk out the door to head to the ceremony… 89hCj.St.138

To photos with the wedding party… 1b1lA1.St.138

Both posed and having fun… (and with matching umbrellas in case in rains)mFOZW.St.138While posed photos can be perfected with multiple shots, sometimes the candid ones are the best:

1nPika.St.138Make sure photos are taken of all the DIY items you put time and energy into:

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And those special “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” items:

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It goes without saying that you want your first dance captured from start to finish (consider how you want this to look – people in a circle around you? Semi-circle? Only you two? Do you want guests pictured at all?):

WtR8Z-1.St.138More importantly than getting magazine perfect photos, you want to make sure that the photos represent you and your husband (or wife). They should capture your day, your personalities, and be keepsakes that you want to hang in your home for the rest of your life. Getting the right mix of posed and candid shots is key, and adding in some of those fun shots with your wedding party will make you smile for years to come. DSC_6686As I’ve mentioned before (and you can see from the photos), it rained on our wedding day. We were able to get most photos done before the ceremony and then ones with everyone together afterwards in between showers. Every time we tried to go outside after the ceremony, it seemed to rain harder, so I do believe we missed out on a few shots that we would have gotten otherwise.

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Our photographer (all photos by Pixel Photo and Design) has offered to come back and capture some more shots for us – which we are debating. A) Not sure we want to get all dressed up again (rent suit, clean dress again, hair/make up) which could be upwards of $500 and B) we wouldn’t have our guests or wedding party there to participate (unless we have a 2nd wedding!). So we’ll see about a second round of wedding photos, but that’s why it’s even more important to make sure on the day of that you have all the ones that you want – and have a rain plan in your back pocket so you aren’t figuring out poses and new spots the day before the wedding.

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I did not capture all the magazines that will feature real weddings, so be sure to search for wedding magazines in your local area or region and don’t be afraid to aim high. While styled shoots can be inspirational, brides love to see real weddings, especially in their venue so they can get ideas. Share your best photos and best ideas (and go with a photographer you’ve seen featured in the magazine  if you want to up your chances) and make sure to scoop up extra magazines for your parents if you do get published!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good things!

The last time I wrote was two weeks ago. Since then, my husband accepted a new job, I traveled to Boston and Indianapolis, we went to the Heat/Bobcats game (and Shane Battier sent me a personal message on Twitter), I ran 25 miles, I got certified in Change Management, my husband was interviewed for a follow up story in the New York Times, I turned a year older, and we bought a house. So, per usual, my excuse for not writing is that we have been BUSY. However, I could not be happier about the busy moments that are happening in our lives right now.

jarWe started a “good things jar” on New Years day and have been diligently putting in notes about any thing that we determine to be good (i.e.: new job, new house, fostering puppies, etc.). I love this idea because not only can we see how our jar fills up (cup overflowing much??) throughout the year, but at the end of 2014, we’ll be able to sit down and remember all of the good things that we might have overlooked otherwise. It will be a good reminder to us of how blessed we were throughout the year and how lucky we are to have so many good things in life. Bonus: the jar was used as a decoration in our wedding festivities!

handsAs we were frantically getting pre-qualified for our adorable new house, in the middle of a bidding war, and me having just returned home from -2 degrees Indianaoplis, my husband made the comment that he felt like everything was happening to us all at once. I had to remind him that we wanted all of this to happen: he wanted to go to grad school, I wanted to be certified in Change Management (which required me being out of town the week we were trying to buy the house – the same house that I had never even seen the inside of!), he wanted that new job, and we wanted to buy the house. None of these things just happened. Yes, it’s a lot and all at once, but isn’t that life? If it wasn’t this scenario, it would be me in grad school, consulting on social media, taking on new jobs, traveling for work and planning a wedding.

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We are not alone in our busy-ness. How we choose to handle the situation is up to us. I choose positive. I choose to be excited about everything that is happening in our lives (not to us). I choose to be happy about our new house, his new job, and all of the new adventures we are going to have.

I’ve decided to transition my blog from a bridal/wedding blog to a life blog about maintaining happiness in your life. More to come as I build out this place where I’ll share more of our stories and more on keeping a positive attitude and cultivating happiness in your life, your marriage/relationship and maybe even rubbing off on some of those Eeyores we know in life. I hope you’ll continue to follow along!

 

10,000 hugs!

Yesterday, my blog hit 10,000 views (actually 10,022) – and it’s been viewed all over the world which is even more incredible. I want to give all of my readers a big, big hug today for reading along through my wedding adventures and staying tuned even after the big day!
10000Some of the most interesting places that I never thought I would have readers from:

Austria + India (thank you!)

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Germany (thank you!)

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Nigeria + Canada (thank you!)

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Mexico + Indonesia (thank you!)

blogviewsI’ve also seen views from Ukraine (Thanks, Inna), Australia, the UK and Kenya. So exciting to be connecting to folks all over the world. I’d love to hear what you think of the blog or if you have any suggestions for upcoming posts. I’m definitely thinking of moving into more of a “life” blog, perhaps Eat, Run, Be Married? Those are three of my favorite things.

Thanks again and know that I’m sending everyone big, virtual hugs today – especially all of my readers from the USA since you make up the large majority! If you want to connect with me on other platforms, I’m on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram (all with the name @ashleighwnc).

xox

Favorite Wedding Gifts

Last night, I had dinner (and a quick run) with a sweet friend who is also a newlywed. While catching up, the topic of wedding gifts got brought up: Do you HAVE to buy from the registry? Do couples prefer cash? Is it okay to get creative with the gift? It got me thinking about our own wedding gifts.

We had 3 registries: Honeyfund, Crate & Barrel and Bed Bath & Beyond. Honeyfund is awesome because it allows you to put gifts from any site on there (you can link to it), or you can ask for monetary gifts towards a larger item. Some of our “larger items” were a new bedroom set, honeymoon dinners, honeymoon excursions, and honeymoon splurge money. We reserved more traditional items such as dinnerware, silverware and appliances for Crate & Barrel  and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Some of our most used gifts are our: griddle, Kitchen Aid stand mixer, serving utensils, dishes, Keurig drawer to hold our K-cups, cutting board, and our knife block that we were able to buy with the money we were given for our wedding. Also, the specific dinners and excursions people got us for our honeymoon were also BEYOND AMAZING.

Some of the more creative and not on our registry gifts were:

photo-1Honey or “Honeymoon Honey” straight from Chatham County (where my husband hails from). We have devoured this entire jar of honey – including my first peanut butter & honey sandwich. Seriously delicious. We thought this was such a thoughtful gift, since a dear family friend of my husband’s family (who is also a bee keeper) gave us the honey.

plateThis plate made us “ooh” and “ahh” when we opened it. How sweet to give a personalized gift that is so very thoughtful. While we never would have registered for this, we love it so much! It’s proudly displayed so you can see it when you walk in our home.

mapThis map/painting is hanging in our stairwell. My sister-in-law (the best woman at our wedding) gave us this gift. She took a map and painted over it so we can mark all the places we travel to in our life together. It says “Home…. is wherever I am with you.” Pretty darn sweet!

We were so thankful for every gift that we received and would have been more than happy just having everyone there to celebrate with us. Back to my original questions, I don’t think you HAVE to stick with the registry when giving gifts, but I do think you should be familiar with the bride/groom’s personalities/tastes if you are going to venture off of the registries.  What do you think? Would love to have some readers weigh in on this subject!