Thanksgiving Wrap Up

First of all, DID YOU SEE THE BIG GIVEAWAY that’s happening NOW?! A donation of $10 tiny dollars gets you entered to win over 25 items!!! I am super grateful for those folks who donated items for the giveaway and want to highlight them over the next few weeks. I’m starting with the “Love Never Fails” prints. There are THREE of these to giveaway and any of them would look just lovely framed in a bedroom, or a hallway, or anywhere to give you a sweet reminder that true love, never fails.

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I ordered the first one from Southern Weddings for our very own wedding, and ordered a second one for this giveaway! The black version pictured, is from Lovely Little Paper Co. and is STUNNING. This would stand out on just about any wall! The third one is classic with it’s black and white look and is from The Stationary Boutique. All three of these prints are $16-20 each, so by donating just $10 and having the chance to win one of these, you’re still coming out on top – and you get something pretty out of it!

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Now, for our Thanksgiving Tour wrap up. We started in the triangle area of NC with my in-laws and spent 2.5 days with them, eating ourselves silly

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….and playing tons of games.

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I made some special treats to take with us, including Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mini Sweet Potato Pies and Apple Butter Cookies (with my Paw Paw’s apple butter). They were all delicious but the Nutella Cookies obviously took the cake, or cookie.

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On Friday, we hopped in the car (with the dogs!) and headed to Virginia for time with my family and to celebrate my cousin’s recent marriage with a Hokie themed reception!

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Our niece and nephew loved spending time with the doggies…

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On Saturday, we went to the Pete Dye River Course and celebrated my cousin and his wife, Katie.

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The Hokie themed reception was so much fun – especially the photo booth. All of the little ones loved putting on moustaches and crazy hair. It was so nice to catch up with everyone and see how happy Alex & Katie are together. And now that wedding season is over for us (whew!), it’s time for everyone to start having babies (except us!).

How was your Thanksgiving? What was your favorite part? For me, it was definitely the sweet potato casserole. I think I could live off of that!

 

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Weekend Wrap Up

I feel like we did nothing and everything this weekend. JJ Grey and Mofro came to a local theatre that is within walking distance of our house, so we had date night there – with dinner at one of our favorite pizza places beforehand.

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On Friday we felt like we had partied like we were back in college the night before. Funny how much differently three beers impacts you at 28 versus 21. So we hung low and decided to see “Gone Girl” and recreate our first date with a movie and dinner at Fox & Hound. The movie was amazing but sadly ends just the way the book did (which I HATED). However, I loved my dinner and movie date night with him. Saturday, I got up early (feeling better) to run the Rocktoberfest 5-miler with some girlfriends.

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Official results aren’t up yet, but I’m glad I got across the finish line in less than 50 minutes (according to my watch and clock time). On Saturday evening, we got to see one of our dearest friends marry the love of her life. We both met Brandy at work (we started on the same day) and immediately bonded. She is such an amazing person, I can’t possibly tell you how wonderful she is all in one post. So when she called to tell me she and Bill were getting married, I literally squealed (loudly) in the store I was standing in. This weddnig was a long time coming and such an amazing production.

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I say “production” because there was a comedian, pianist, singer, gymnastics performance, and two one-act plays. By far the most interesting wedding reception I have been to in my life. Brandy and Bill were just as wonderful on stage together as they are off. I am so glad we were able so share in their beautiful day! On Sunday, we woke up to rain and sniffles. I made pumpkin pancakes in an attempt to make us feel better. They didn’t do much for the colds we had caught but they sure were tasty!

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Pumpkin Pancakes:

  • 3/4 c. white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 teas. baking powder
  • 1/4 teas. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. ginger
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. pumpkin spice
  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix butter, milk, egg and pumpkin puree in another bowl. Slowly blend in the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir until well blended. Heat griddle to 300 degrees and pour out 1/4 cup batter onto griddle (or skillet). Cook for about 2 minutes or until little bubbles appear and then flip and cook for 2 more minutes. I imagine these would be delicious with some powdered sugar or whipped cream, but we settled for just maple syrup. I made enough for leftovers for breakfast this morning – still good!

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I tried to ward off my cold symptoms some more with hot yoga but instead just made myself sweaty and dizzy. It did help to stretch out my sore leg muscles after Saturday’s race but I have to admit it was a very unfocused practice. Hoping to kick this cold soon so I can get back to the gym and yoga this week. Hoping we can make it to the pumpkin patch next weekend and finish getting ready for Halloween. How was your weekend?

 

 

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 😉

 

One year anniversary!

Yesterday marked one year of wedded bliss for me and my handsome husband. We’ve had a crazy busy year (new job + travel, buying a house, becoming landlords, personal travel, etc.) and it’s been pretty amazing.

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However, we discuss quite often that marriage is not all cotton candy and candy apples (not even in the first year). But marriage, as a committment you made in front of family and friends and most importantly, to each other, is a job. And it should be the job where you focus most of your energy. Not saying that it should be your toughest job, because if you’re with the right person, a lot of it comes easily and naturally. But it’s work to not snap at your sig-o when you’re hungry (or hangry, as I sometimes get), it’s work to step away from what you’re doing sometimes and focus on what your other half wants to do, sometimes we forget to put the phone/iPad down and listen to the other, sometimes we are preoccupied with our own thoughts, or sometimes we just want to be alone. But it’s important to remember that your other half is your partner, not your enemy. They’re on your side. They want to spend time with you, talk to you, and listen to you.

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My husband and I met as co-workers and I’m glad he’s still my co-worker in marriage. Working together is incredibly important. I know how much it bothers him when I slip my shoes off at the door instead of putting them in the closet, and while it seems like a REALLY LITTLE thing, it’s easy to get caught up in really little things that annoy you. It’s a really little extra step for me to walk over to the closet and something that I should do because I KNOW it bothers him. It’s important not to get caught up in the little things and to focus on the big picture.

Taken by Sarah Photography
Taken by Sarah Photography

Ever since we started dating we’ve talked about goals for our life and our future and we continue to fous on those. We love to travel and continue planning out trips to places domestic and international. We made a list of our Top 5 destinations for each and cross matched (3/5 on both lists were the same). We’re managing owning two houses, although it’s not ideal, and I never wanted to be a landlord, it’s working. The plus is that we’re building equity in our other home and when we DO sell, we’ll be better off. We’re working on making our new house very homey and enjoying spending time in our yard, our rocking chairs and screened-in porch. We’re both very career focused right now and fortunate to be with a good company and doing what we love, or at least what our degrees are in. And we get to spend plenty of time with friends and family (including our new baby niece!). And yes, kids are in the future just not right now.

Taken by Sarah Photography
Taken by Sarah Photography

We don’t have a perfect marriage, but we have a darn good one. We’re still falling in love with each other day over day, laughing until our bellies hurt and there for each other when there are tears. I try to focus on the good, be happy and cherish all the little moments. I saw a quote this morning that said:

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

How true, and how very bad of us. What people post on social media is not them at their worst, it’s laughing, smiling, happiness. Try not to compare yourself, or your relationship to that of others. Try to focus on how to continue, every day, making your relationship the best it can be. Your marriage is yours and your husband’s and you’re the only ones responsible for making it work. Social media has us questioning things that don’t need to be questioned. Spend time in reality, loving the most, focusing on what matters and sticking to your vows. Spend time cultivating a marriage that other people desire. You have your own highlight reel that is by far the most important one in the world.

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.

 

My Best Friend’s Wedding(s)

This is definitely the year of weddings for us. We have been invited to 7 and have already attended 3. At this point, I would consider us professional wedding guests/party members.

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Two of the three weddings this year were for my best friends from high school. I’m lucky to be able to still call these girls friends and that we have maintained our friendship over the years. Amy had a blissful beach wedding in Ocean Isle and Brittney had a rustic chic farm wedding just outside of Blacksburg, VA. Both of them were stunning and amazing and absolutely perfect.

Amy’s gorgeous beach details were simple yet classy. I love the DIY touches of painted wood and chalkboards everywhere. She even had a signature cocktail served during the cocktail hour. My favorite part was her lace dress. It was absolutely exquisite and was clearly made for her.

I couldn’t be happier for Clay and Amy as they sealed the deal 10 years after meeting. Their day was truly a decade in the making and absolutely perfect.

Brittney’s wedding was also perfect, but the complete opposite of the beachy setting Amy had. Brittney got married at Sinkland Farms in Virginia. Hilariously enough, we used to go to parties there when we were in high school. There are several spots at the farm to get married, and Brittney chose up on the hill with the mountains in the background.

10441149_10100879461768673_7720758303346916939_nChalkboards are still in style for weddings, obviously, and what great decorations they make. Brittney gave us the most darling robes for being her bridesmaids, which we donned as we had our hair and make up done.

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We each picked our own style of dress from J Crew’s silk chiffon collection in ‘Bright Coral.’

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The flower girl was Brittney’s 22-month old daughter who is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

The barn is already so well decorated, it’s an easy choice for the reception. My favorite piece is the mason jar chandelier! Brittney used coral roses and sparkly white table cloths on the tables, and whisky barrels outside also held mason jars full of roses.

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A local country band performed at the reception and guests danced the night away. I must say, early summer weddings have had perfect weather. These two couldn’t have asked for a better day to say their vows outside.

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And to top off the evening, my Hokie-loving husband and I snagged a picture with non-other than Frank Beamer. Such a special evening for special friends.

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So happy for both of my sweet friends and grateful to have been a part of their celebrations. From 15 to forever!

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!