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A Letter to Wedding Industry Spouses

July 31, 2016

A Letter to Wedding Industry Spouses

Today, I’m dedicating my little part of the internet world to the spouses of wedding industry professionals. Of course, my husband and I have first-hand experience with the wedding world, but I’ve noticed some common themes throughout the social media accounts and schedules of so many other wedding industry professionals that I think it’s about time we properly thank our spouses and significant others. Not sure what I’m talking about? Keep reading and my guess is it will be crystal clear for you! 

Dear Wedding Industry Spouses,

Thank you. Thank you for being you, for supporting our wild dreams, for putting up with our crazy schedules, for letting our businesses take over our homes, and for helping us get that perfect Instagram shot.

I know you probably think we’ve lost our minds when we tell you we want to convert our dining room or living room or a portion of our bedroom to an office. You are probably 99% certain we have, in fact, lost our minds when we then show you our mood board for said dining room/office. Thank you for giving us the benefit of the doubt and realizing we aren’t that crazy, and then letting us follow through with our dining room/office plans, only to realize we really only use it about 6% of the time.

I’m sure when we went out on our first date, you didn’t realize you’d be spending your life learning that natural light is by far the best way to take an Instagram photo, how to properly style a flat lay, or how to ensure each little Instagram square looks naturally candid…even though the shot we ended up using was the 27th photo you snapped. Thank you for sticking with us all the way through those 27 photo snaps…every day (or half a day, depending what day of the week it is).

Thank you for holding down the fort on the nights and weekends we are meeting with clients or working the best wedding of our career (no, really, this time it really is!…until next weekend). Thank you for understanding when we get sidetracked and simply have to write down the most amazing idea we’ve ever had – even if it means we just burnt dinner.

I have no doubt you never anticipated learning the proper name for dozens of shades of pink, or how to create a floral garland (mad props to my husband for really doing this!), or the difference between cotton and linen paper and how this makes a huge difference in the final product.

All the gifts in the world wouldn’t possibly be enough to thank you for everything you do and endure as a Wedding Industry Spouse, so we hope a gabled box of bubbly and individual servings of snacks tied up with handmade silk ribbon and the most perfect calligraphed tag will do the trick!

All Our Love,

Wedding Industry Professionals

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Why Are Wedding Vendors So Expensive?

July 26, 2016

Why Are Wedding Vendors So Expensive?

Oh, the dreaded wedding quotes and estimates that just don’t seem to fit the bill for you. One of the most frustrating parts of wedding planning, right? You have your dream wedding in mind, but trying to make the dream match your budget is entirely frustrating! So why are wedding vendors so expensive?

I’m going to be really straightforward and honest with you (I always am!). Wedding pros are not trying to break your bank. I promise. There’s no conspiracy to quadruple our prices just because you’re planning a wedding instead of a birthday party.

Let’s do a quick breakdown of hiring a vendor (for the purposes of this demonstration, let’s use your custom-designed stationery as an example because I know plenty about that!):

  • 3 = Number of hours I typically spend communicating via email or phone – to include initial consultations, reviewing and communicating about your proofs, and general discussion about material options and pricing
  • 1 = Number of hours I typically spend preparing a proposal to include a quote along with a mood board and color palette
  • 4-8 = Number of hours, on average, I spend sketching, conceptualizing, drawing, refining, formatting, and preparing your proofs (this number could easily go up to 12 if a very detailed design or monogram is involved)
  • 1-2 = Number of hours I spend preparing your files for print, communicating the details with the printer, and ordering your final materials 
  • 2 = Number of hours, on average, I spend assembling your invitation suites, doing a quality control check, and packaging your invitations or taking them to the post office to mail to your guests myself (this number could very well increase to 4 hours if you have a large guest list or detailed assembly)

So, on the high end of this spectrum, I could easily spend 22 hours on ONE couple. Even on the low end, I generally spend 11-12 hours on ONE couple. Break that down into a standard 40-hour work week and that means that I can take no more than three clients per week (assuming there’s a good mix of clients on the low end and the high end of the spectrum). And let’s not forget that most wedding pros only work with one couple per wedding date and that the majority of weddings happen on Saturdays and Sundays, with an occasional Friday wedding, so our calendars are very limited.

Want another example? Let’s break down the cost of floral design (again, these numbers are based on my personal experiences, so all of these numbers are going to vary from vendor to vendor!):

  • 3 = Number of hours I typically spend communicating via email, phone, or in person – to include consultations, design and proposal reviews, and general discussion about the logistics of your floral design and setup the day of the wedding
  • 1 = Number of hours I typically spend preparing a proposal to include a quote along with a mood board and color palette
  • 2-3 = Number of hours, on average, I spend refining your floral design ideas and creating a complete, comprehensive floral plan
  • 1-2 = Number of hours I spend sourcing the perfect flowers in the perfect shade of color, the perfect vessels, and/or the necessary supplies needed to create your final product
  • 10-12 = Number of hours I spend processing your flowers and creating your bouquets, arrangements, and floral design pieces for your big day
  • 2-4 = Depending on the complexity of your design, the number of hours I spend delivering bouquets and setting up at your venue (**please note, this doesn’t even include travel time!)

So on the high end of the spectrum I spend about 25 hours on ONE wedding and on the low end of the spectrum I spend about 18 hours on ONE wedding!

Want another perspective? Heather breaks down, in much more detail than I, the time and expenses involved in photography in this blog post.

But wait.

Let’s not forget that their are costs associated with each client, as well. Not only are there general upkeep costs of running a business (for a stationer…a computer, design software, art supplies depending on their style, general assembly supplies and paper samples, packaging costs…you get the point!), but for almost every wedding pro there are also material costs of actual product associated as well. Oh, but believe me there’s more. What about the cost of paying employees, consultants, contractors, advertising fees, or third party vendors?

The wedding industry is also one of the only industries where we can truly only accept a very limited number of clients per year. We are limited by calendar days (even if wedding pros worked every single Saturday and Sunday a year, excluding major holidays, that’s 98 clients per year. But think about the experience you’d be getting with a vendor who is also working with 97 other people at the same time as you! That’s a recipe for a disaster if you ask me.

So, you see, once you factor in the costs associated with one wedding (material, labor, and administrative time) along with the general administrative costs of running a business, and paying taxes (can’t forget those!), wedding vendors truly are not expensive. To be quite honest with you, we’re trying to provide a service for an industry we believe in with our whole heart – most of us aren’t doing it for the money. We’re trying to help support our families and love on our clients well while also paying some expenses we don’t really want to be paying! If we could, I can guarantee that many of us would actually charge next to nothing if our livelihood didn’t depend on it because we love what we do so much, and we love seeing this amazing moment in your life come together!

So, while it may seem like the wedding pros you’re talking to are expensive, I assure you we’re all just trying to promote the sanctity of marriage, create the most meaningful memories possible for you, pay our bills, and enjoy what we do along the way.

And if you’ve already exceeded portions of your wedding budget, I promise, that’s okay – read all about that here!

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Why It’s Okay to Exceed Your Wedding Budget

July 25, 2016

Why It's Okay to Go Over Your Wedding Budget

I already know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m crazy for wanting to talk about exceeding your wedding budget, right? It’s highly possible this is true, but not for this one blog post, I assure you.

“But, Amanda, you want me to EXCEED my wedding budget? Why in the world would I do such a thing?” Yep. That’s what you’re thinking, amiright?

And the short answer is yes…and no.

Let’s first get one thing clear. Wedding vendors aren’t out to gouge you just because you said “Yes!” We aren’t trying to get you to go over your budget – in fact, talk to almost any wedding professional out there and they’ll probably do their very best to stay as close to the budget you give them – or offer suggestions as to why your budget may not work. They may even, perhaps, refer you to a vendor that is more in line with your vision and your budget. So we definitely aren’t trying to get you to spend more, more, more.

But here’s the scenario: you have a dream wedding in mind and you’ve created a budget based on what you want to comfortably spend to make this dream wedding come to life. I’m assuming it’s also the first time you’ve planned a wedding, much less created a wedding budget from scratch, right? So you’re creating a budget based on numbers and percentages you’ve likely found through your research since getting engaged. But how can you be sure those “averages” and percentages you’ve found are true numbers for your dream wedding? How do those averages know what you are willing to spend on a dress or a cake or flowers or a venue?

If you’re saying “yes, I get it!” to all of this, this is definitely the article for you. Because your wedding is not a conservative day that happens once a month. Your wedding day is a once in a lifetime event that deserves to be everything you dreamed of and more. It is not a recurring bill or a fancy night out that may happen again in a few months. It is not a holiday shindig that’s going to happen again next year or one of your first big purchases that will likely happen again in three to five years.

But let’s get one thing straight up front. This doesn’t mean to go broke and spend every last dime on your wedding. Of course I would never in a million years suggest that! This means if you spend a little more than you anticipated, that’s okay! As long as your quality of life isn’t severely damaged, there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending a little more than you anticipated on your wedding day.

If, however, you’ve worked diligently with a planner or professional to create a precise budget, you likely won’t even need to consider overspending, because someone in the industry has already created a budget that is right for you!

Here are just a few reasons why exceeding your wedding budget are okay:

  1. You’re wedding is not just a normal day. It’s not even just a special day. It’s a day that goes beyond special – a day that joins you and your spouse for the rest of your lives. The kickoff to a brand new family with new traditions and memories and heirlooms. So while you don’t want to go all willy nilly with your wedding budget and start throwing money around to anyone you come in contact with, it is okay to splurge a little, assuming it’s not going to affect your quality of life for the next 5 years. You’re budgeting to create memories that you and your loved ones will never forget, so if your overall costs exceed your budget just slightly, I think that’s a-okay.
  2. How often do you really get to wear a fancy outfit and celebrate all night long surrounded by your favorite people? If I’m being honest, this is usually a once in a lifetime event. There’s a slim-to-none chance I will ever get to celebrate with all the people who attended my wedding day ever again. It simply just won’t happen. These people come together for this one special day to celebrate you and your love for one another. So if you spend a little more to ensure they have the time of their lives, that’s pretty okay in my book.
  3. Your guests have traveled near and far to celebrate you! They’ve turned down other plans for the evening, possibly paid for flights or hotel arrangements (perhaps even babysitters, dog-sitters, or house-sitters) to spend the evening or weekend with you! These are the people you love dearly and who have likely done plenty for you in your past. I don’t know about you, but if I could repay everyone who’s been a huge part of my past, I would do it in a heartbeat! Guess what, friends?! Now is the perfect opportunity to do that! They are here supporting you once again, and you have the opportunity to provide them with a beautiful setting, an amazing meal, wonderful entertainment, and some good ol’ hospitality.
  4. Overspending in one area doesn’t mean you’re going to break the bank. Those percentages and numbers I mentioned earlier? Those are based on average costs. That means, some people spent more and some spent less in specific areas. Perhaps you found a dress off the rack that cost next to nothing but you want the most lavish flowers you can dream up. Then those percentages aren’t going to work well for you, and you’ll quickly see that your average floral budget is going to be greatly exceeded, but your dress budget is going to be much lower. So spending more in one area doesn’t mean you need to or will spend more overall! It just means some things are more important to you than others…which makes for a more special, personal celebration for you and your future spouse!

So the idea of spending more on your wedding isn’t so scary now, huh? In fact…it may sound even, dare I say it…manageable!

Still unsure how to navigate the whole wedding budget thing? Let’s chat and create your personalized budget that you’re most comfortable with!

Now, I want to know…what are you willing to spend a little more on and what isn’t quite as important to spend on?

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Building Up the Wedding Industry

July 4, 2016

Building Up the Wedding Industry
Behind the scenes photo of myself with Candice of Blush Bridal along with the bride and groom, photographed by Caroline Lima.

Today I’m speaking to all you amazing wedding professionals out there. You know who you are – the small business women and men who are hustling to create a successful, thriving business that begins the first day of a couple’s life together.

We have a big, important job, you know. Our job as wedding professionals is to make sure each and every couple has the very best first day of marriage EVER. The wedding is the stage that unites these two individuals and families into one. It can feel like a lot of pressure on us sometimes, as the chosen professionals to provide them with these services! No less than once a day do I have conversations with other wedding professionals (florists, stationers, venues, photographers, caterers, planners, stylists, you name it!), making sure we’re serving our clients in the best way possible. We want them to remember every tiny detail of their wedding day with fondness, right?

Well, I want to get real honest for a minute, friends. Over the past few months, I’ve chatted with wedding pros who have been made to feel inferior by their peer wedding pros. I’ve read posts of professionals putting restrictions in place, making it difficult for their peers to provide their contracted services in a timely manner. I’ve gotten text messages from upset friends in the industry because another professional belittled them or asked for steeply discounted services for their client (friends, this is how we feed and support our families!). I’ve personally experienced that pit in my stomach that comes from wedding professionals treating me poorly. I’ve had first-hand experience and chatted with others in the industry who have spent time painstakingly creating schedules and timelines to ensure the client has an amazing planning experience, only for them to be completely disregarded. I could go on, but you get my drift, right? This probably makes you feel a little icky inside – even worse, it might bring back bad memories of an experience you’ve had like this in recent months.

So let me just throw out one thing we can all agree on – we are on #teammarriage (and if you want a warm fuzzy feeling, you should go search that hashtag on Instagram this instant). We pour our hearts and souls into our work because we believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity of marriage.

I have no doubt this is also why we get stressed out and perhaps pin our stress on other wedding professionals.

So how can we, as an industry, build each other up? How can we be a pillar of light for our peers so that we continue to provide amazing service for our clients, while also building friendships, eliminating stress, and feeling really great about the gifts we, collectively, are providing for each couple? How can we put an end to this streak of professionals feeling inferior to others in the industry?

Because I enjoy bulleted lists, I’ve broken my ideas down into just that. I welcome any and all additions you have to this list, as well as continued discussion on how to make sure our industry thrives.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. I think we’re all pretty aware that communication is the key to all healthy relationships. Peer-to-peer relationships are no different, friends! If your services align with other professionals, keep them in the loop! Do you have a vacation planned at the same time your peer plans to send out a design proposal for a wedding you’re involved in? Share that information with your team! Are you a florist who needs a final headcount for centerpieces by a certain date? If you’re working with a planner or venue coordinator, make sure this information is clearly communicated. For aligning services, it’s so important to clearly communicate specific details with other professionals whose services hinge on those details.

Don’t take your stress out on your peers. I think it’s natural for wedding pros (and humanity in general) to take their stress out on their peers. We often go into fight-or-flight mode when we’re approaching deadlines, when there’s a tight timeline to work with, and/or when it seems a timeline date has been missed. Instead of us, as wedding pros, verbally taking our stress out on our peers, let’s ask for help! Let’s realize we are all in this together to make the day the best it can possibly be for the couple. Let’s also realize we ALL want it to be a beautiful, stress-free experience and day for the couple – we don’t ever go into it thinking otherwise.

We are this couple’s chosen team. How amazing that this couple chose each of us because they knew we were the best fit to be a part of their wedding team! They trusted our expertise, our skills, and our experience to put together one of the most important days of their lives. Let’s encourage that teamwork for each and every wedding. Not sure how to support your “team”? Think about how your services coincide with another professional’s services. What can you do to work together and make the experience even more amazing than the couple could have dreamed? How can you take a peer’s schedule and services into consideration to ensure you both provide the best service possible to the couple? I make these statements broadly, because there are so many incredible ways we can create a top-notch team for each and every wedding by working together as a team and uplifting one another.

Trust one another. Although we are all a part of the same overarching industry, we each specialize in particular aspects. A stationer is an expert in the etiquette of when to send out save the dates and invitations while a florist is well-versed in what florals will be in season. Trust the professionals this couple has chosen to be their wedding team instead of pushing back or insisting on something that simply may not work. Listen to this couple’s chosen professionals when they have a different idea or a suggestion, because there is likely a reason and it will likely make for a much better wedding day experience for the couple!

Understand that processes are put in a place for a reason. It’s heartbreaking to hear of wedding professionals who have spent hours and hours (adding up to years, y’all) fine-tuning their process to ensure their couple has an amazing experience only to hear of other vendors completely disregarding these processes. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you probably think. Consider these hypothetical scenarios:

A stationer creates a schedule only for a planner to not even look at it.
A planner schedules appointments with venues only for venues to schedule multiple meetings they are bouncing between.
A florist requests linen colors/swatches from rental companies and is completely ignored.

In every single one of these scenarios (which are all scenarios I’ve heard or seen happen!), the professional is trying to do their job well, but is met with resistance or a roadblock. This ends up helping no one and hurting everyone! If there is an issue amongst peers with regard to timelines, schedules, or requests, it’s important for us to communicate (see first tip above). And please, whatever you do, if another professional sends you a schedule, timeline, or request – read it! It’s heartbreaking to see a professional dedicate their time and energy to their craft and process to be met with such disregard.

So, I’m on #teammarriage, what about you? Will you make a concerted effort to lift up individuals in the industry, create a team environment, and work together to create a gorgeous day for each couple? How else can we build one another up?

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5 Healthy Date Ideas

March 4, 2016

5 Healthy Date IdeasPhoto by Heather Chipps Photography

I love, love, love thinking of new date ideas. Sure, I adore going out to fancy dinners with my husband, but in all honesty, we can do that anytime. It’s so much fun for us to think outside the box and go on dates that are new and different for us. And bonus points if we’re making our minds and bodies healthier at the same time!

Here are 5 healthy date ideas for you to surprise your significant other with this weekend:

Sweat it out. Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about the gym! Make a date with your significant other to get your sweat on a the gym. Spot each other as you lift weights, do some cardio side-by-side, and then when you’re done, treat yourself to a smoothie.

Head to the farmer’s market. Ahh, one of my and my husband’s favorite things to do together! Schedule an early Saturday morning date at the farmer’s market to enjoy the warmer temps, get some fresh air, and snag some delicious, healthy grub. Bonus points if you score some yummy produce to make dinner with that evening for your second date of the day! (Another one of our favorite things to do!)

Take a garden tour. Now that the weather is starting to warm up, schedule a tour of a local garden for you and your spouse. Enjoy the fresh air, admire the new blooms, and then get your energy back at a local coffee shop.

Take a hike. No…literally. Pack a picnic for just the two of you (I won’t tell if you sneak in a bottle or two of wine) and go hiking at one of your favorite locations, or a new-to-you trail! Once you’re done and have worked up an appetite, find a spot to enjoy a picnic together.

Head to the dog park. Grab your pups and head to the dog park for a fun-filled day of play, fetch, and walks! Your sweet fur babies will thank you, too.

Now if you’ll excuse me…I have a picnic to pack.

What are your favorite healthy dates to go on?

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5 Reasons You Should Get to Know Your Stationer

March 2, 2016

5 Reasons You Should Get to Know Your StationerIf you’re a bride or groom, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy. Who has time to get to know your stationer in the middle of this crazy roller coaster ride?!

I promise you, though, it’s so important to be candid and open with your stationer. Not only does it make the planning process so much fun when you get to know your vendors, but there are some very key reasons you and your stationer should be like peas and carrots:

We get a better sense of your style and who you are. And when we know what makes you and your fiancé tick, how you met, what your favorite things to do together are – we have a more solid foundation to create the most personalized paper goods for you! The more we know about you and your love story, the more we can create something completely unique that’s never before been created. Not only that, but when we have a good sense of who you are as a couple, we also know what style is going to work best for you, even if you aren’t quite sure! Not to mention, these unique traits make our hearts pitter-patter and we love finding those common bonds with you!

We can make suggestions you may not have considered. When we know that your favorite date together so far has been riding a tandem bike to the park on the hottest June day there ever was, and then laughing about it over a bottle of champagne and peanut butter sandwiches as you catch your breath, our wheels start turning (no pun intended). We break apart the elements of that date and figure out how to incorporate it into your day – even if no one but you and me know what it means! Whether it’s utilizing that special day as a material, a color, or an actual illustration, the more we know about you, the more we can create.

We want to make the process exciting and fun for you. One of the things we truly want to do for you is make the stationery design process exciting, fun, and easy for you. This is such a fun season in your life, it is definitely not something you should be stressing over! The more we know about you, the more we know what stationery is a priority, what timeline you would be most comfortable with, how often you prefer to hear from us, and how to best present ideas to you in a fun, exciting way. When we don’t know enough about each other, we tend to draft “by the book” email responses and go by our standard procedures. Now this is not to say that I won’t go by standard procedures and processes with every client, but when I know a little more about you, I know how to get you excited for your proofs, how to surprise you (in a good way!), and how to make you feel so loved and special throughout the process.

We are truly passionate about what we do for you. Look, we want to get to know you. This is our passion. We thrive on seeing happy couples planning their forevers together. This is why we do what we do! The more we know about you, the more enthralling the process is for all of us involved! Hearing those love stories, first date antics, and relationship quirks fills our hearts with joy…and allows us to create something so special and unique for you! (See #1 and #2 above!).

We want to gain your trust. I want you to know about me just as much as I want to know about you! I want to gain your trust as a designer so you know your stationery is in good hands. We want you to feel comfortable asking us what we do on the weekends, and what our hobbies are, and what our favorite meals are. The more we know about one another, the more we can trust one another, share candid opinions together, and create an heirloom product for one of the most special days of your life. Because our relationship built on trust, creating the most unique invitation we’ve ever created that you’ll remember 50 years from now…that is what fills us with so much joy and happiness.

So send your stationer an email today and get to know them just a little bit better. Some of my best friends are former clients, and I couldn’t imagine having it any other way.

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The ONE Way You Should Be Using Pinterest for Wedding Inspiration

February 29, 2016

The ONE Way You Should Be Using Pinterest for Wedding Inspiration

When I was planning my own wedding six years ago, Pinterest was still one of those amazing, mysterious websites that you had to be invited to in order to create an account. Remember that? Now everyone in the world is using Pinterest to get more crafty, learn new recipes, and plan the most important events of their lives.

I’m going to be brutally honest here, but most wedding professionals get very nervous when they see an email pop up with an invitation to connect to a board from a current client who is using Pinterest for wedding inspiration. We dread the fact that you may be asking us to recreate something you’ve seen done a million times before because we want to create something special and unique just for you – not what everyone else has done. By locking yourself into a very specific idea, you’re not allowing us to be as creative as we can possibly be for you. You’re not giving us the opportunity to create something for you that you never knew existed and would be even better than your wildest dreams!

But there is one very refreshing, inspiring way you can be using Pinterest for wedding inspiration! I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world that could be if you shouldn’t be using Pinterest to find visuals you love and want to incorporate into your wedding day. How in the world could you use Pinterest any other way?

Pin visuals that set the mood and tell your story when using Pinterest for wedding inspiration. 

It’s that easy. Stop pinning exact replicas of what you want to include at your wedding, because that automatically boxes in both you and the wedding pro you are working with. Instead, look for images that are not past weddings. Pin images that are not an exact replica of the invitation you want. Pin images that are not the exact bouquet you want.

Instead, look for images that make you feel how you want your wedding day to feel. Do you want a warm, cozy winter celebration? Pin images that inspire that feeling. Do you want a bright, cheerful summertime soiree? Pin bright color palettes and sunny outdoor scenes. Use your captions section effectively by noting why the image inspires you. Is it the color palette? The mood? They style? Don’t just pin the image with the previous caption, make it your own by adding new captions and comments!

When you begin to pin this way, your wedding professionals will thank you and will stop dreading the invitations to pin to your secret board! This will get the conversation started in a much deeper way than just what’s on the surface. Your wedding pros will be able to capture the feeling and mood for your wedding day that you’ve always wanted – and probably even come up with new and unique ideas you’ve never even thought of!

Here’s an example of a board I created using Pinterest for wedding inspiration for a Springtime Brunch Wedding. You can also view the entire board and how I used the captions section here.

The ONE Way You Should Be Using Pinterest for Wedding Inspiration

I promise if you start pinning this way you’ll get the most amazing wedding of your dreams! Now, pin away! 

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Recipe for the Best Leisurely Weekend Morning

February 26, 2016

Recipe for the Best Leisurely Weekend MorningPhoto by Heather Chipps Photography | Styled by Amanda Day Rose | Venue Seven Springs Farm

Oh, weekend mornings, I adore you so. There are few things better than waking up and knowing I have absolutely nothing on my plate for the next 48 or so hours (except, perhaps, some tidying around the house, but if I stay on top of that during the week, there’s even very little of that needed!).

I’m a big fan of most mornings, not just weekend mornings, which means weekend mornings are that much sweeter. And when shared with a spouse? Well, you’ve got a recipe for pure bliss!

Here’s my recipe for the best leisurely weekend morning:

A dollop of coffee. This is important, you guys! My quiet coffee ritual is my absolute favorite of each and every day. Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, find a leisurely way to enjoy those quiet few moments each morning…especially on the weekends!

A dash of yoga pants and messy hair. What would mornings be without this luxurious duo? I’m a poster child for yoga pants and messy hair, so on Saturday morning, you’ll find me quietly sipping my espresso all decked out in my best yoga pants and a horrifically messy top-knot.

A splash of brunch. Did someone say brunch?? Be still my heart…my favorite meal of all time! Whether we plan on a late brunch out at some of our favorite local joints or we cook brunch at home together, my husband and I are a huge fan of brunch (he even mentioned it in his wedding vows to me, but that’s a story for another day).

A side of hilarious husband. What’s coffee, brunch, yoga pants, and messy hair without some major fits of laughter mixed in? There’s nothing I love more than my husband making me laugh with his witty jokes and unending stories.

Mix them all together and you’ve got the absolute best leisurely weekend morning around! Oh, I am so looking forward to this exact scenario tomorrow morning! If you need me anytime between 8am-noon, you know just where to find me…

Now share your favorite brunch recipes with me so I have something new to make tomorrow morning!

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My New Cabin Studio Inspiration Board

February 24, 2016

Last year, my husband and I moved to a beautiful 30-acre farm property. While we downsized our house, we upgraded our amazing views and acreage so we can spend more of our time outdoors. There are several very old tobacco buildings on our property, one that was converted into a small cabin by the previous owner. While it’s super cute, it definitely needs plenty of TLC. We thought and thought and thought about what we wanted to do with this cute little cabin (it’s literally at the very front of our property, so it’s not a space we can just “forget” about!). Should we turn it into a B&B? Nah, not something we’re interested in. How about our own little getaway? Nope, it’s only about 1/4 mile from our actual house, so we’d never use it for that. We tossed around the idea of turning it into an office, but the idea never really stuck until we began talking it through with other friends and family members (shout out to Heather for helping on this one!).

So, it’s set. We’re turning the sweet little cabin into my very own studio and I could not be more thrilled about it! At first, I was hesitant because I thought I wanted a bright white, open space. But after thinking about it and jotting down ideas, I fell more and more in love with the thought. The cabin space is the perfect size (and is already there so I don’t have to add onto our house or get creative with our bedrooms!), it has tons of charm and character, and it’s basically a blank slate I can do whatever I want with! Not to mention….are you ready for it?…it also has a mini kitchen and FULL-SIZE BATHROOM already built into it!

So as the weather begins to warm up, I have a feeling we’ll be spending many, many hours fixing up my little cabin studio and hopefully have it fully completed sometime over the summer!

To give you an idea of the space, it has a very large, covered front porch (with two huge peony bushes in front!) and you walk into the mini kitchen, with a small bathroom next to it, a large, open space currently used as a living area, and a loft currently used as a small bedroom.

So, here’s the plan…

My New Cabin Studio Inspiration Board

I plan to add more color and cheerfulness to the front porch area with lots of potted plants and some charming outdoor furniture. I’d love to have an outdoor watering area on the side of the cabin for my floral orders as well. When you come down our driveway, the back of the cabin is actually what you see first, so I plan on filling the backside of the cabin with plenty of colorful pots and plants, too.

And then…

My New Cabin Studio Inspiration Board

I really want the interior space to be overflowing with charm and quirkiness! I want to throw all the “normal” studio and office space ideas out the window (READ: file cabinets, traditional desks, storage…), and create my own unique storage space and work area with unique garage sale and vintage finds. In the kitchen/dining area, I plan on creating my “floral” studio – close to the water supply – where I’ll process, clean, and design my florals. The space that is currently used as a living space will become my paint and design studio, with a small table for my laptop where I can easily access emails and send proofs. I want the walls to be covered in inspiration! I’ll also keep a bed in here for guest overflow if we ever need it (and perhaps a nap or two on long studio days?). The loft area will become storage for all my supplies so it’s out of the way, but still easily accessible!

You guys. I am so excited about this project and can’t wait to get started so I can share the final outcome with you! I know there is a lot of work to do, but I also know it is going to inspire me, too! And I’m also excited to greet you in this space if you’d ever like to stop on in for a cup of coffee (oh, believe me, there will be plenty of that here)!

Now…spam me with your amazing finds! I want to see it all – light fixtures, unique storage units and countertops, functional wall decor – send it my way! 

Oh, and P.S. Just for reference, here’s a photo of our little cabin (soon to be studio) in the snow a couple of weeks ago! I mean, can you just imagine the loads of potted plants and sitting areas around there, come this summer?

My New Cabin Studio Inspiration

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Three Ways to Argue Smarter in Marriage

February 22, 2016

How to Argue Smarter Photo by Heather Chipps Photography | Florals by Amanda Day Rose | Handwriting by my sweet husband

I hesitated about writing this post. 99.9% of the time, in the wedding industry, we read about how absolutely blissful marriage is. About how we should love our spouses well and honor them. And all of those things are true – oh, so true! My husband and I are coming up on our five year anniversary and I am still in the blissful stage – and hope I never leave it!

But when you’re immersed in the wedding industry where engagement and marriage are rosy and sweet and charming, you can sometimes feel like the odd person out when you’re feeling frustrated with your spouse. Believe me, friend, you are not alone! When you are spending hours upon hours and days upon days with one person for all of eternity, you are bound to get frustrated with one another!

Not the most fun thing to read about, but important nonetheless, here are three tips to argue smarter in marriage so you move forward into that blissful state much quicker:

Communication is key. Just like any other aspect of your marriage, communication is so important when you and your spouse have differing opinions. Be open, honest, and willing to listen, too. Don’t talk for the sake of talking, but talk so that it moves the conversation forward so you can come to an agreement quicker.

Know and understand your arguing patterns. Some of you may feel it’s best to walk away from a disagreement for a little while, but some of you may want to nip it in the bud right away and get back to your normal routine. And you and your spouse may just have opposing views on that, too. Understand and respect each other’s patterns and decide before disagreements occur how you’ll compromise on finding a solution. Will you be okay with handling it right away if you normally prefer to take a breather? Talk these things through (read: communicate!) so you’re on the same page if you do have a disagreement.

Agree that you’re always on the same team.  In the end, know and understand that you’re both on the same team and are working towards the same ultimate goal of a happy, fulfilling marriage. Think about whether or not your disagreement is really worth arguing about. Bring your conversations full-circle and remind one another what it is you love about each other and your marriage and move past it.

I know there’s so much more complexity involved in each individual relationship, and that some disagreements dig deeper than others, but for the most part if you agree to remain open with one another, and communicate clearly, you’ll be able to move past your disagreements much quicker and build a stronger bond between the two of you in the long run.

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Three Ways to Stay on Task Throughout the Day

February 19, 2016

3 Ways to Stay On Task Throughout the Day
Photo by Heather Chipps Photography | Styling by Amanda Day Rose

With so many distractions (hello, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, email, phone consultations, family, and iPhones!), it’s a wonder any of us are able to stay on task and focused throughout the day. In this day and age it is not easy put all distractions aside, focus our attention, and get. stuff. done.

That’s why I’m so hoping these three tips are going to help you as you move forward in your business and create a more productive routine!

Invest in a good planner…and really use it to it’s advantage! Whether it’s an old-fashioned paper planner (one of my all-time favorite things to do is write in my Simplified Planner!) or an electronic calendar, I highly recommend figuring out what works best for you and getting in the habit of using it! I write everything in my planner – especially during the busy seasons. Dates with my husband, phone consultations, project due dates, what’s for dinner….jot it (or type it!) all down. And then really pay attention to those schedules and lists you’ve created for yourself. I have some friends who own a planner and when they open it up to check a date, there is nothing written in it. It baffles me how they even know which way is up, not to mention, what their schedule is that day! I encourage you to really use your planner to it’s full potential. So if you get distracted on Instagram one day and then you see on your calendar that your supposed to be working on Mary Jane’s branding project, you’ll immediately get back on task!

Set aside some planning time every week. I like to do my planning on Sunday afternoons, but pick a time that you know is going to work best with your schedule, and you know you’ll have a few moments of quiet to think. Use your planner to write down all the tasks you know need to get done during the week ahead, appointments you already have scheduled, meals, and any family events. Leave space each day for daily tasks you know will arise (for instance, I don’t schedule anything before 9:30 because I know I need at least an hour each morning to check emails and respond to inquiries) and a “cushion” every few days for projects that take a little longer than expected and/or unexpected tasks that arise. Having this cushion helps me to feel more at east when something comes up unexpectedly that I hadn’t anticipated!

Trust your scheduling judgement. Now that you have a schedule and it’s written in stone (or paper…), it’s time for you to trust yourself. Trust that you actually didn’t put in a 3 hour buffer to scroll through Instagram feeds for a reason. Trust that you didn’t build in time for the black hole that can be the internet for a reason. Trust that you were focused and organized when you created your schedule so that when you find yourself getting sucked into social media or procrastinating on a project, you’ll know it’s necessary to get back on task.

If you learn nothing today, I hope you learn that scheduling is key to staying on task. Make an appointment with yourself to finish XYZ project at Starbucks if you have to! Pencil time in to respond to emails, cook dinner, spend time with family, or schedule posts on social media. Make a schedule that is feasible for you and your day-to-day routine, write it down, and then trust that you made wise decisions to help you stay on task during your focused scheduling date.

Put it into action: take 10 minutes this weekend to schedule next week’s activities, appointments, and projects to help you stay on task! Report back on Instagram or Facebook when you’re done!

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3 Honeymoon Destinations That Don’t Cost a Fortune

February 17, 2016

3 Honeymoon Destinations that Don't Cost a Fortune
Photo by Caroline Lima

You may be cringing at the thought of shelling out thousands of dollars on a honeymoon immediately after shelling out thousands of dollars on the wedding of your dreams. Or you may just have no desire to travel for from home and just want to spend some quiet time as husband and wife, no matter where you are. Either way, there are so many great, more affordable alternatives to the extravagant honeymoon destinations that are just as fun and romantic!

So if this sounds like you, here are three wonderful honeymoon destinations that don’t cost a fortune:

Your own city. Yep, you read that right. Be a tourist in your own city for a week! Get a hotel room, map out the restaurants you’ve always wanted to try, museums others seem to enjoy that you take for granted, and the side streets you’ve never really thought twice about. Tour your own hometown for the week, enjoy being married, and don’t worry about breaking the bank either! Not only will it be a refreshing vacation “away”, but it will also shed new light on the city or town you may have been taking for granted. My husband and I have done this on three separate occasions already (one was the two nights following our wedding!) and we’ve made some of the best memories on these excursions.

A state-pride road trip. Wanting to venture a little further than your own hometown? Map out the places in your own state you’ve always wanted to visit, and take a mini road trip throughout your home state! It can be across the state, or just a few areas close by – it’s your call! You’ll see your own state has so much to offer outside your hometown, without breaking the bank! And you’ll get to enjoy a little QT as newlyweds along the way. (Another trip some of our favorite memories started with – mini road trips with no schedule or care in the world!)

Home sweet home. Really wanting to have a great honeymoon, but just don’t have the budget for it right now? There are millions of ways to create your own honeymoon right in your own home. Take the week off work, order takeout from your favorite restaurants, load up on movies you’ve been waiting to watch, plan a board game night with prizes for the winner….the possibilities are endless! The only restrictions? You must turn off the internet, home phone, and not worry one second about any cleaning or laundry that needs to be done! Pretend you’re in a hotel room for the week and take advantage of all the amenities this hotel has to offer! (And if you need ideas for how to make this feel like a honeymoon…I’ve got your back, just shoot me an email! As much as we love to travel, my husband and I are also the king and queen of vacationing in our own home!).

I’m sure you think I’m crazy, but I promise you this could set a new precedent for your future vacations! You may want to start taking one or two vacations a year in your own home after your honeymoon!

Now spill the beans…which one will you choose and what activities are you planning to do?

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52 Weeks of “I Do’s”

February 15, 2016

52 Weeks of "I Do's"Photo by Caroline Lima | Styled by Amanda Day Rose

My absolute favorite part of wedding design is the marriage that comes afterwards! We create these amazingly spectacular events, centered around those who love us most and the heartfelt details that make us who we are all as a beautiful prologue to marriage.

To me, it’s so important that those blissful days during your engagement and as newlyweds last forever, not just during this special season in your life!

So now that we’re well into a fresh new year, I want you and your spouse/fiancé/significant other to think about something…and hopefully turn it into an activity you can communicate to one another and share throughout the year! I want you to think about the ways you can honor your vows and commitment to one another every single week (and day, hour, minute!) of the year. Make them personal to you as a couple so they are even more meaningful! Celebrate your unique relationship and personalities. Share the commitment you plan to honor in the coming week with your spouse and communicate about the previous week’s commitment to one another. Communication is key when it comes to fulfilling marriages, y’all, and what better way to strengthen this bond than by sharing the most special vows with one another every single week?

Here’s a list of weekly “I Do’s” to get your ideas flowing:

  1. I do promise to “unplug” at the end of each day and spend time with you.
  2. I do promise to spend one leisurely, relaxing meal with you each day this week.
  3. I do promise to take out the trash because I know that’s your least favorite chore.
  4. I do promise to make the bed every morning.
  5. I do promise to check in with you during the day just to say “hi.”
  6. I do promise to make you my first priority every morning and every night.
  7. I do promise to encourage and support you during a big project this week.
  8. I do promise to stop what I’m doing and greet you when you walk in the door.
  9. I do promise to turn the light out when I leave the room.
  10. I do promise to give you my full attention when you are telling me a story.
  11. I do promise to share honest feedback when you ask for my opinion.
  12. I do promise to pray with you each night.
  13. I do promise to celebrate your accomplishments – no matter how big or small – daily.
  14. I do promise to complete that lingering home improvement project that’s been waiting for me.
  15. I do promise to lift you up when you’re feeling sad or scared.
  16. I do promise to make you laugh at inopportune times because I know that’s when you secretly enjoy it.
  17. I do promise to challenge you to be a better person.
  18. I do promise to cherish even the shortest moments with you, no matter how busy we are.
  19. I do promise to celebrate and love your quirks and unique traits.
  20. I do promise to comfort you when you’re feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.
  21. I do promise to relieve some of your burden when you are busy.
  22. I do promise to hold your hand in public because I know it means so much to you.
  23. I do promise to share my dessert with you.
  24. I do promise to support your decisions, no matter how great or small.
  25. I do promise to share my dreams and thoughts with you.
  26. I do promise to take you for who you are and not try to change you.
  27. I do promise to keep your dreams and fears close to my heart in confidence.
  28. I do promise to choose you above all else every day.
  29. I do promise to reach out to you first when I need someone the most.
  30. I do promise to respect you with everything I am.
  31. I do promise to protect you.
  32. I do promise to try my best to understand your viewpoint.
  33. I do promise to make our home a place of comfort and joy.
  34. I do promise to be not only your spouse, but also your confidante and best friend.
  35. I do promise to love you with everything I have, no matter what.
  36. I do promise to provide you with courage when you are feeling weak.
  37. I do promise to always be honest with you.
  38. I do promise to value the gifts you offer to me and our family.
  39. I do promise to appreciate the little things you do for me.
  40. I do promise to take a step back and look at the bigger picture when I feel angry.
  41. I do promise to let you have the first cup of coffee, because it’s the best one.
  42. I do promise to date you as often as possible.
  43. I do promise to keep your needs in mind when making decisions.
  44. I do promise to celebrate your successes.
  45. I do promise to fight for our love and our family.
  46. I do promise to remind you every day of the reasons I fell in love with you.
  47. I do promise to love you more and more each day.
  48. I do promise to share with you all the ways you amaze me.
  49. I do promise to listen when you just need to talk.
  50. I do promise to try and provide answers when you need guidance along the way.
  51. I do promise to add items to the grocery list when I take the last of them.
  52. I do promise to be the best spouse I can possibly be for the rest of our lives.

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Meal Planning 101 for Newlyweds

February 12, 2016

Meal Planning 101 for Newlyweds

When my husband and I tied the knot almost 5 years ago, I honestly had not even considered the idea of meal planning. As a result, we dined out more nights than we cooked at home. I had no idea how to properly grocery shop and often got frustrated at the grocery store. And then I got frustrated again when I had to throw perishable food away later in the week because it spoiled and I never used it.

These days, though, meal planning is a standard part of our week. In fact, I’ve come to enjoy planning our meals each week. Not only are we saving money, but I also have a very specific list when grocery shopping, making the entire trip much more focused and enjoyable.

Even if you hate cooking and don’t spend much time in the kitchen, I encourage you to try meal planning. Plan meals you know you’ll be comfortable (and enjoy!) cooking. Keep the whole process easy on yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed or frustrated. Who knows…you may end up enjoying your time in the kitchen!

Here are some additional tips to help you start meal planning for two:

Set aside a dedicated block of time every weekend. I prefer to do my meal planning on Sunday mornings, but pick a time and day that works best for your schedule. Keep in mind you’ll want to do your grocery shopping after planning your meals for the week, so make sure you meal plan in plenty of time to shop for the week, too. I spend about 30 minutes each Sunday jotting down each night’s dinner, a list of items to have on hand for breakfast and lunches, and then I create a grocery list based off our meals for the week.

Prep your food after grocery shopping. If at all possible, prep any foods for the week you can ahead of time. For instance, wash and dry all your fruits and vegetables, bake any protein you plan to use, and place individual portions of items in Ziploc bags or tupperware to quickly grab for breakfast or lunch.

Take the week’s schedule into account. If you know you’ll be late returning home on night, plan to have extra leftovers from the night before ready or put your slow cooker to use. This will ensure you’re using the food you’ve paid for and not deciding to order takeout because you’re starving and haven’t even thought about dinner.

Buy bulk items and prepare them differently throughout the week. Bulk items are often going to be cheaper than smaller quantities. Buy in bulk and prepare the same foods in different ways throughout the week to save money. So you don’t get bored with the same foods, switch up which bulk items you get each week.

Plan meals around your coupons. If you’re a coupon clipper, check your coupons before planning your meals. Plan meals around the coupons you’ve clipped to save money on your grocery bill.

Buy what’s in season. For produce, stick with items that are currently in season in your area. Seasonal items are much fresher, taste better, and are cheaper than out-of-season produce.

Leave room for leftovers. This is a new tip I’ve just recently learned after weeks and weeks of meal planning. I found I was still wasting money by buying excess food we weren’t eating and throwing away. We have leftover food two or three nights a week, so I always build in one or two days each week that I don’t plan to prepare dinner. On those nights, we have leftovers or I turn our leftovers into a new meal. Another option is to have leftovers for lunch and you won’t have to plan any lunch items during your meal planning session each week!

What other tips do you have for meal planning as a newlywed?

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Three Reasons to Hire A Professional Florist

February 10, 2016

Three Reasons to Hire a Professional FloristPhoto by Caroline Lima | Florals by Amanda Day Rose

If you’re currently planning the wedding of your dreams, you probably are also trying to find creative ways to stay within your budget, right? (And if that’s the case, I highly encourage you to contact me after reading this post to help you out with your budgeting needs!) Well, I’m here to tell you that DIYing your flowers is not the way to cut costs, friend! I know it seems easy, but there is so much that goes on behind the scenes of a floral designer!

I could go on and on about why you should hire a professional florist, but today I’m sharing my top three reasons with you:

  1. We are a wealth of botanical knowledge. Sure, you know about roses and hydrangeas and tulips – and perhaps plenty of other well-known flowers. But florists know hundreds of other flowers you’ve never even heard of…not to mention how to properly care for them so they are blooming and gorgeous at the exact time they need to be!
  2. We are pros at the logistical aspects. Between transporting flowers (can you fathom transporting 15+ centerpieces and bouquets…filled with water…in your car…to your ceremony and/or reception venue?), knowing exactly how to process your flowers (a lot of work goes into preparing your flowers before arranging them!), and setting them up so they are in full, beautiful bloom on your wedding day, a lot of logistics go into ensuring your flowers are absolutely perfect. These are all things you really don’t want to worry about on the day of your wedding!
  3. It’s more than just flowers. The size and style of the vase we recommend for you is directly related to the size and type of centerpiece you dream about for your wedding day. We know that some vases work better than others; that some look really small, but actually take a lot of flowers; and that some just simply aren’t going to hold up properly. It’s about more than just the looks, friends! A lot of education and experimentation has happened in the past to learn this information! Not only that, we know how to make sure your flowers look beautiful in person AND in photos, how to properly secure a bouquet so you don’t get pricked or get your dress dirty, and what tools work best for creating specific arrangements.

So before you decide to DIY your flowers, I highly encourage you to think about all of this and trust your friendly florists. We do so much more than place pretty stems in a vase for your wedding day! And if you’re still on the fence, have questions, or are ready to get started…let’s chat

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Easiest Ever Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

February 8, 2016

Easiest Ever Valentine's Day Date Ideas

For long-term couples and married couples, Valentine’s Day can sometimes feel like one of those last minute “What are we supposed to do?” holidays. I, admittedly, never really know if we should celebrate it or not, because I love my husband fully and completely every day, and we share so many fun adventures together throughout the entire year. But it is really fun to do something a little different on Valentine’s Day as a couple, even if it’s as simple as staying in and ordering takeout.

Here are some quick and easy Valentine’s Day Date ideas that you may just want to do all year long:

Pack a backyard picnic. Pack up your favorite bottle of wine, a favorite meal, some disposable utensils and a few candles and head to your backyard for a romantic evening “out”!

Plan a game night. Grab you and your significant other’s favorite cocktails, a few easy appetizers (crackers, cheese, fruit, vegetables, and sliced chicken are a great start!) and pick out 2 or 3 favorite board games. Turn the electronics off, and enjoy spending time together without any distractions!

Cook an elaborate four-course meal together. If you both enjoy spending time in the kitchen, research some really amazing, elaborate recipes together ahead of time, pick up the ingredients the day before, and spend time in the kitchen creating a gourmet meal to share.

Put your dreams on paper. Order your favorite takeout, grab a pen and a notepad, and plan out the rest of the year’s dreams together. Where do you want to travel, what goals do you want to accomplish, what adventures do you want to have together? Write them all down, pick out your top three, and start putting an action plan in place to make them happen.

Settle in for a movie marathon. Pop some popcorn, change into comfy PJs, grab a few beers, and take turns popping your all-time favorite movies into the DVD player.

Get all gussied up for a date night in. Put on your Sunday best, set the dining room table with your finest china and some candles, turn on some music, and invite your significant other to join you for dinner. Whether it’s leftovers, takeout, or a gourmet home-cooked meal, enjoy the quiet time together!

Watch the stars. Grab a few cozy blankets and head outside to watch the stars and share your dreams together. Leave the electronics inside and enjoy the night sky and each other!

Plan a coffee date. Grab some extra-good coffee, some gourmet muffins and chocolate, a couple of good books and spend the morning (or evening!) curled up together sharing coffee, sweet treats, and a good book together.

Whether you prefer an elaborate date night or a laid-back evening in, I hope you enjoy spending a little extra quality time with the one you love most!

Easiest Ever Valentine's Day Date Ideas

Photos by Heather Chipps Photography
Styling by Amanda Day Rose

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The ONE Product That Keeps Our House Organized

February 5, 2016

The One Product That Keeps Our House OrganizedBackground photo by Andrea Pesce Photography

Yep, you read that right. Just ONE THING helps keep the clutter in our home at bay. Now let me also follow that up with a little disclaimer – we do still have plenty of messes and clutter in our home (who doesn’t?), but my personal pet peeve are the little things lying around that you just have no clue what to do with and can’t find a home for. You know those things I’m talking about? Tape dispensers. Scissors. Safety pins. Extra dog leashes. Batteries. The list goes on and on.

Oh, and then you know how annoying it is when you can’t find two AA batteries to save your life because you have no idea where you put them, so you buy more at the store, only to find an economy-size box of AA batteries as soon as you get home? Drives. Me. Bananas. That’s where this one product comes into play and will save you money and trips to the store for duplicate items forever!

A canvas shoe tote.

That’s right, folks. Who knew a canvas shoe tote could be so brilliant? I have to admit, this was not originally my idea. My husband and I were visiting friends of ours and my husband needed a pair of scissors and they told him to check behind the pantry door – and there it was in all it’s glorified brilliance. A canvas shoe tote filled with all of those little knick knacks you’ll ever need. We keep ours behind our bedroom door, and you could actually get multiples if you wanted to keep one in a guest bedroom for guest toiletries and items they may forget, too!

We have a lot of little knick knacks in our house, and it’s such a breath of fresh air to now know exactly where those things are, and that they have a proper home (my rule of thumb is, if it fits in a shoe compartment in the tote, that’s it’s new home). We haven’t even filled ours halfway up yet, either!

So if you ever come to our house and need AA batteries, AAA batteries, Scotch tape, packing tape, scissors, safety pins, glue, an extra phone or laptop cord, a dog collar, miniature lightbulbs, a new phone case, pens and pencils, paintbrushes, or miniature wrenches…just check behind the master bedroom door.

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5 Common Wedding Invitation Mistakes to Avoid

February 3, 2016

5 Common Wedding Invitation Mistakes to AvoidBackground photo by Caroline Lima

I think it’s safe to say your invitations are one of the most important aspects of your celebration, so you definitely want to take the time to avoid wedding invitation mistakes! Your wedding invitations set the tone for the style and mood of your event and give your guests pertinent information about the event itself along with other logistical details for out-of-town guests.

Here are 5 wedding invitation mistakes to avoid and keep in mind as you begin working with your designer:

Mistake #1: Trying to match an exact color palette. If you’re trying to match the exact color of your bridesmaids’ dresses, an exact flower, or an eact linen, you are likely going to be disappointed. Colors printed on paper are never going to be an exact replica of another tangible object, so it’s best to just avoid an exact match altogether. Instead, work with your designer to stay in the same color family and/or portray your overall style, rather than trying to color match.

Mistake #2: Not having someone else proofread for you. It’s easy to fall in love with a beautiful invitation design when you see your proof, but the design means nothing if the details of the event are incorrect. Your designer will most likely do a quick proofread for you when they are putting your proofs together (I definitely do!), but they also don’t know the exact spelling of venues, streets, and proper names. They also don’t know if things such as the time of your wedding are accurate! After you review your proofs, have a friend or family member review them, too, to ensure no details were overlooked.

Mistake #3: Waiting too late to place your order. While it may seem like getting your custom invitations created is a quick and easy process, I am here to tell you it definitely is not. Custom invitation designers want you to have a unique, personalized design that reflects you, not someone else. Because of that, we often start with a blank piece of paper and spend time getting to know you. Not to mention, most of us custom invitation designers want the experience for you to be amazing! We want to love on you through the process, and it’s hard to do that when we don’t have plenty of time to work with you. Plan to order your invitations about 4-6 months before you actually need them in your hands in order to enjoy the process.

Mistake #4: Saving money in all the wrong places. I get it. You feel like you’re spending money left and right for your wedding day and you’re trying to find ways to save money. You’re even considering printing the design yourself. Let me just tell you right now, before you even have that thought for one more second, it is not that easy. You could even end up spending more money just by trying to save money on areas like this! As a custom invitation designer, I’ve worked for years to hand-pick tons of papers, material options, and printers. This research and vetting is not going to be possible for you to master in just a couple of weeks (as an example, I am still constantly sourcing new materials and vendors!). Save yourself the stress, and quite possibly money you may end up spending to print and reprint, and trust your designer to do their job.

Mistake #5: Ordering too few invitations. This is so important, y’all! Make sure you order plenty of invitations, even if it means ordering extras you aren’t even sure you’ll use. I know you want to save money where you can (see #4 above), but I guarantee you’ll end up spending more money if you don’t order the correct quantity the first time around. Almost every custom invitation designer I know will have increased costs for reprints – this isn’t because we’re trying to make more money, it’s because often times there are costs involved that you don’t necessarily see – creating a custom plate again, ordering smaller quantities of supplies, a shorter turnaround time…all of these things cost money and most of those fees are the same regardless of ordering 100 invitations or 20 invitations. So do a really thorough guest count prior to placing your final order, and always, always plan to order more than you expect you’ll need!

Now that you’re armed with these common wedding invitation mistakes to avoid, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the invitation process! Let’s get started on your custom design today! 

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January PowerSheets Recap

February 1, 2016

January PowerSheets Recap

This past month was my first month ever using Lara Casey’s PowerSheets. I honestly was hesitant to even buy them because I wasn’t sure how they’d actually help me, but after hearing rave reviews from so many others, I decided to give them a try.

I have to say, after only one month, my 2016 PowerSheets have kept me on task both personally and professionally and given me the drive and energy to pursue those really scary dreams I never thought I’d be comfortable enough to put into action!

So what exactly were my goals for January? 

Today I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and opening up my precious, private PowerSheets to share with you in hopes that you’ll see how incredibly rewarding it is to take steps in the direction of the dreams, goals, and plans that matter to you most!

Ways I’m Going to Recharge This Month:

  • Unplug on the weekends. I did my best to make sure this happened, but I have to admit it was not easy! At the very least, I stayed away from my email as much as possible on the weekends to allow for more quality time with my friends and family. This will likely be a goal I set for myself every month in order to build this habit!
  • Schedule a lunch date away from my work once per week. I was actually concerned this one was not going to happen because when I get in my workday groove, it’s hard for me to step away for a proper lunch break (funny, I didn’t have any problems stepping away when I worked in the corporate world!). But…wait for it…I DID IT EVERY SINGLE WEEK! I am so proud of myself for this one. It means I spent quality time away from electronics with special in my life. Not to mention, one of my lunch dates was with one of the sweetest girls I met for the very first time, Stephanie of of Stephanie Scholl Events!
  • Take one weekday off to learn something new. This one was a big fat fail for me. I knew it would be really difficult for me to take a weekday off to do something for myself, and I was right. I really want to make this happen once a month from here on out, though, so next month I’m going to plan ahead and actually schedule a learning activity that makes me put this one into action!
  • Schedule a fun day date one weekend. This one was actually easy for me, but something I always want to remind myself to do. My husband and I are always looking for new weekend adventures, and in January we took a trip to Annapolis and had a double-date with good friends of ours!

Monthly Goals:

  • One education day away. This goes hand-in-hand with my “weekday off” mentioned above, so it didn’t happen, but it will continue to be something I strive for each month!
  • Read two books. Yes! Done and done. I read one book for fun and one educational book. Not only do I enjoy learning something from the books I read, but I also love that it really makes me step away from work, technology, and the hustle and bustle of life to slow down and get absorbed in something else.
  • Create streamlined templates and processes. I did this one right away, and I had to ask myself why I hadn’t done it sooner! It’s really made my workflow so much less cumbersome and has created a clear vision for both my clients and myself so we’re always on the same page. This was something I kept telling myself over the last year that I needed to do but just kept putting off, so I’m thankful to finally have this done!

There are three other monthly goals that I can’t share with you just yet because they are works in progress for future projects! As a general update, though, these three goals were met this month, and I’m well on my way to being able to share them with you! 

Weekly Goals:

  • Email-free weekends. I did pretty good with this one! There were very short instances where I glanced at my email, but for the most part, I unplugged and spent time with my family!
  • Lunch date each week. This is also listed in my “Recharge” list above, and was a huge success this month!
  • Draw/paint for fun. I spend a lot of time drawing and painting for my clients, so I really wanted to spend some time each week drawing and painting for myself. This one was a success and it was so fun to spend time with a pencil (or paintbrush) and paper creating nothing in particular.

My daily goals were pretty generic, because I wanted to make sure I was able to accomplish them each day without feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.

After just one month of using my PowerSheets, I’ve also created some tips for ensuring you get the most out of them, too!

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your PowerSheets:

  • Find common themes. You’ll notice some of my items in the Recharge list are also listed in my Weekly and/or Daily Goals. Find these common tasks and themes to prevent overwhelm and also to see how that one simple task is affecting multiple areas of your life!
  • Think small. I have goals in my January Tending List that were BIG. Apparently, I thought I could capture all my dreams and goals in one single month. After just a couple of days, I realized I needed to break those goals into smaller, bite-size pieces, so I scratched through them and made them more manageable. The goal for these PowerSheets is to feel empowered and accomplished – not frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • Don’t worry about filling every single blank line. I thought I needed to have a new goal on every. single. line. That’s simply not true. Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you need to pull a new goal out of thin air. Come up with a few really good, concrete monthly, weekly, and daily goals and use the extra spaces to brainstorm or take notes on those goals so you can review them later.
  • Do a check-in a few times a week. I, admittedly, did not plan on “checking in” with my PowerSheets each week. But I found when I did not check in, I lost sight of my goals and intentions for the month and year. Just a quick 5 minute check-in a few times a week is all it takes to make sure you’re on track to make the important things happen. It’s also a great way to refocus your energy if you feel stumped, frustrated, or off-track.

Now I want you to tell me how you use your PowerSheets to work for you! Do you have any other tips for making sure you stay in line with the goals and ideals of your PowerSheets? 

I’ll be doing a monthly recap of every month’s PowerSheets in 2016, so stay tuned to see how they pan out! (I’m really interested to know myself!)

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Are You Ready to Adopt A Pet?

January 28, 2016

Are You Ready to Adopt a Pet?Photo by Heather Chipps Photography

So you’re newly married, settled into your home together, and thinking you may want to adopt a dog as the next stage in your life. Does this sound like you? Well first of all, bless your heart. As a mama to three sweet, hilarious fur babies, I know firsthand the perks of pet-parenthood. But believe me, y’all, there are also some cons to pet ownership, too, so today I’m going to be really honest with you about both the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision!

Before heading to the animal shelter, ask yourself these questions:

Does my and/or my spouse’s schedule have room for a dog?

If both you and your spouse have busy professions outside the home and are away for more than 4-6 hours during any given time, it may not be the best time for you to adopt a pet…unless you’re willing to shell out a little cash for your fur baby to go to doggy day care (which is totally fun, too, by the way). If, however, you work close enough to come home and take breaks, or one of you is home at least every 4 hours or so, it may be a good opportunity for you to add a furry friend to the mix!

Do my spouse and I have the time (and energy!) to train a dog to fit our lifestyle?

Training a dog is serious work, y’all. It takes plenty of time, patience, and energy. I don’t have kids of my own, but I imagine the beginning stages of bringing a dog into your home are not much different from bringing a baby into your home, quite honestly. Younger dogs require frequent potty breaks, often have to eat more times throughout the day, and really need plenty of playtime and attention so they are constant balls of energy. Properly training a pet requires putting them on a schedule that fits your lifestyle and strictly maintaining that schedule for several months, if not longer. We’ve trained, raised, and owned many dogs over the years, so we have learned a training routine that works best for us, but if you’re new to pet-parenthood, you’ll need to research training techniques ahead of time. If you don’t feel this is something you have the time or energy to do right now, it might be best to wait. On the other hand, if you’re ready to take on this adventure and don’t mind sticking to a puppy schedule in the coming months, now may be a great time to adopt!

Can our current living conditions comfortably accommodate a pet?

If you’re currently living in an apartment with little to no yard access, you may consider waiting until you have more space for your dog to play. It’s not, however, a deal breaker if you’re willing to walk your dog frequently and/or take them to a dog park for plenty of playtime! You’ll also want to make sure there’s plenty of space inside your home for your dog to relax comfortably.

Can we even afford it at this time in our lives? 

While it may seem like adopting a dog is not a financial investment, it absolutely is! Dogs require routine vet visits (especially as a puppy), check-ups, and shots that aren’t always cheap. They also require toys to keep them entertained (believe me, you don’t want a bored dog in your home!), flea and tick medication, crates/beds, and food as some of their basic necessities. These items add up quickly, so if you don’t feel financially sound already, I can guarantee adding a pet to your family isn’t going to make it any better!

Can we provide a good home for a dog?

If you answered “Yes!” to all of these questions, you just may be seeing a sweet furry friend in your future. Now is the time to really communicate with your spouse about whether or not this is something both of you want, and if you’re both willing to provide a loving, comfortable environment for your dog. As a mom to three dogs right now, I know first-hand that they have the sweetest, funniest, most caring personalities if you treat them with love and respect.

My three babies; Kip (shown above), Bridget (shown below), and Buckley (our newest baby, shown at the very bottom) bring so much job to my life every day, so if you’re ready, I promise you won’t regret taking the plunge! And if/when you do adopt, send me all the pup photos to “ooh” and “aah” over all day long!

Are You Ready to Adopt a Pet?Photo by Heather Chipps Photography

Are You Ready to Adopt a Pet?

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Your Customized Wedding Budget Guide

January 26, 2016

Your Customized Wedding Budget Guide

YOU GUYS. I am SO excited to finally be sharing this post with you today! Who knew I’d be so excited to share something that has more to do with budgeting and numbers than it does with visual things?! See, the thing is, I believe everyone should have the wedding of their dreams, regardless of their budget! Your wedding day is a day you’ll share memories from for the rest of the life…a day you’ll create new family heirlooms and put old ones to use. That’s why I am so excited to share a new budgeting service with you that will help make the wedding of your dreams become a reality!

More and more over the years, I’ve chatted with couples who honestly just don’t know where to begin when creating a budget for their wedding day…or even how much they should plan on investing in each of their vendors! The truth is, there is no cookie cutter budget you should be using for one of the most important days of your life. Your wedding celebration will look and feel so much different from your best friend’s or sister’s or cousin’s, so why should you be using the same budgeting information?

That’s why I’ve created a Customized Wedding Budget Guide just for you! 

Before creating your budget guide, I’ll chat with you about what details are most important, the logistics of your wedding day, and what special ways you’d like to customize your celebration. After our conversations, I’ll get to work creating your customized guide that fits with your budget and celebration…not your sister’s or cousin’s or best friend’s!

Each purchase of the Customized Wedding Budget Guide will receive:

  • An easy-to-read detailed budget outline based on your wedding day
  • Worksheets and workspace to keep track of your actual costs and payment schedules
  • A comprehensive outline and customized recommendations to stay within your budget and still have the wedding of your dreams!
  • A few sweet surprises to make staying on your budget extra-easy!

Believe me when I tell you I want you to have the most amazing day ever, so each budget guide is completely customized and well thought-out for your celebration. And the best part? The Budget Guide fee is included in your budget guide, so you don’t waste a single penny!

Your Customized Wedding Budget Guide is $250 and the cost will be absorbed in your overall budget. To purchase your Customized Wedding Budget Guide, contact me or learn more here.

I can create my own budget, why do I need someone else to create it for me?

Yes, you are so right! You can absolutely create your own budget! But after almost 10 years in the wedding industry and working with dozens and dozens of wedding professionals (and working in the floral, stationery, and planning world myself!), I understand the importance of a customized budget that isn’t cookie-cutter. I’ll save you hours and hours of research by creating a budget that works for you while still creating the wedding of your dreams.

But, Amanda, doesn’t it defeat the purpose to pay for budget creation?

Absolutely not! Ensuring you have a budget that was created from years and years of research, hands-on knowledge, and hours of working in the wedding industry is like gold, y’all! Not to mention the $250 fee will be incorporated into your overall budget! And don’t forget, you’ll also receive a comprehensive outline and customized recommendations to make sure you stay on budget while still having the wedding of your dreams! (And a few surprises will be included, too!)

So are you ready to take the most stressful part of your wedding planning off your plate? I can’t wait to ease your mind and help ensure your wedding day is everything you dreamed it would be and more….regardless of your budget! Let’s get started with your customized budget guide!

 

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Personalized Wedding Invitation Ideas to Impress Your Guests

October 5, 2015

Personalized Wedding Invitation Ideas

So, I really don’t think it’s any secret that I think your wedding invitations are so important to your overall celebration. As I’ve probably said a million times, your invitations are the first glimpse your guests get into the overall vibe and style of your wedding day.

That means your invitations are the perfect opportunity to add your unique, personalized spin that will impress your guests!

Here are a few ideas to personalize your wedding invitations:

Word choice. Your word choice is a perfect place to personalize your invitations! Use word choices that you and your fiancé would use in real life. If you’d like to keep your invitation card more formal, the perfect opportunity to play with your word choice is on your response card.

Custom illustrations. Whether it’s an illustration of you and your fiancé, your favorite flower, or the church you’ll be married in, custom illustrations are a beautiful way to personalize your invitations. Not only will a custom illustration give a glimpse into your unique celebration, the illustrator’s style will also provide visual details to the overall mood of your wedding day.

Materials. Believe it or not, the materials absolutely matter when it comes to your final invitation suite. Imagine a gorgeously designed traditional invitation with classic black typography and a detailed illustration of the church on a luxurious textured card stock with letterpress printing and a classic gold envelope. Now imagine that same design printed on a hot pink card stock with black envelopes. They give you a completely different idea without even changing the design, right? Be open with your stationer about the overall mood and style you have planned for your celebration, and your stationer will be able to offer material options that best suit your style.

Typography. If you’re having a formal ballroom wedding celebration, your invitation design should most definitely speak to this style! It would seem a little silly to have a handwritten font style, wouldn’t it? For a formal ballroom celebration, consider a traditional Copperplate calligraphy typefaces. On the contrary, if you’re planning a laid-back reception at your family farm, a formal calligraphic typography would seem out of place and a modern, handwritten font may be more suitable.

Envelope liners. Envelope liners are a wonderful surprise element to include in your invitations. When it comes to envelope liner patterns and design, the sky’s the limit to what you can include! Think: a custom monogram, your wedding date, a pattern used in your linens, a photo, and tons of other options.

Custom monograms. If you ask me, monograms will never go out of style. The great thing about monograms is that they can be designed to be formal or informal. Your monogram can include things you enjoy doing together, your pets, your wedding date, a favorite icon – there are endless ways to design a monogram around your style and the atmosphere of your celebration!

Now that you’re armed with these personalized wedding invitation ideas, how would you personalize yours?

Visit the galleries to see some of the ways I’ve worked with ADR couples to customize their wedding invitations and stationery!

Personalized Wedding Invitation Ideas

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5 Must-Haves for Your Wedding Invitations

September 30, 2015

5 Must Haves for Wedding Invitations

You guys. You’re going to think I’ve gone off the deep end with this post! But believe me, these common pieces of information are overlooked more often than you think. And really, let’s be honest here. This is most likely your first time planning a wedding, so how are you supposed to know the standard protocol?! That’s why us wedding pros are here to help! (Side note: never underestimate the knowledge of a good wedding pro!).

So if you haven’t yet started discussing your wedding invitations, I want you to bookmark this page. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Okay, done? Great! Now, when you do begin discussing your invitations with your fiancé and/or family, I want you to go back to your bookmarks and pull this page up to make absolute certain you’re not forgetting these key pieces of information for your guests, okay?

Without further ado, here are the pieces of information you most certainly do not want to forget on your wedding invitations:

Your Names. Duh. I really hope this isn’t a piece of information you’d forget, buuuut I’m throwing it out there. Just in case.

Your Wedding Date. This might seem obvious, but you guys! I’ve had couples forget to send me that little tidbit of information. You want all your favorite people there partying with you, right? So you better make darn sure the date’s on there!

Your Ceremony Time. This is right there with your wedding date. You want your favorites to show up, so make sure they know what time!

Your Ceremony Location. Now how in the world do you expect your guests to know where to go if you don’t tell them where they are supposed to witness you get hitched? Bonus: If your reception is in a different location from your ceremony, I highly recommend including your reception location as well, so your guests can plan their weekend accordingly.

An RSVP date. THIS. This is important, friends! A lot of times, it is hard enough just to get your guests to reply on time without you pestering them three days before the reply date, so I beg you – do not leave this open-ended! You’ll thank me three days after your response date.

I know you think I’m crazy, but I have couples forget to disclose this information without being prompted all the time. It’s no surprise, really – you’re excited. You’ve spent months (if not years!) planning this day in your head, so you are under the assumption everyone else knows when and where to be, too! You have a lot of things going on. I get it. That’s why it’s so important for you to bookmark this page (you were already supposed to do that, remember?) and refer back to it when you’re ready to get started with your stationer!

Got invitation etiquette questions, or just need advice on invitations in general? Send me an email, I’m happy to help!

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Decoding Printing Methods

September 29, 2015

Decoding Printing Methods: A Wedding Invitation Guide

The questions I get more than anything else as a wedding stationer are centered around the various types of printing methods. If you’re not in the design or printing industry, I know the world of printing can seem so incredibly daunting. And you want your invitations to be a true reflection of you, so it’s important to know what printing method would be a perfect match for the design you work so hard with your stationer on!

When it comes to wedding invitations, these are some of the most common printing methods:

Letterpress Printing. Letterpress printing is a traditional printing method that involves creating a relief of your design using a press. In order to create the relief, a plate is made by washing away the blank areas, leaving the designed areas that will become your relief. Each color requires it’s own plate, and each color needs to go through the press separately, making 2 or more colored letterpress invitations more costly. I work with letterpress printers who manage traditional letterpresses (meaning an actual person runs every single piece of paper through the press manually – so an order of 100 invitations and response cards goes through the press 200 times; add a second color and it goes through 400 times!). Every time a new design is created, a new plate must be made. There are a variety of papers out there capable of handling the relief of letterpress printing. My printers stock luxurious Italian stocks in white, ivory, and deckled (torn) edge.

Decoding Printing Methods

A letterpress invitation suite on ivory cardstock with foil stamped envelope liners

Foil Stamping. Similar to letterpress printing, foil stamping requires a die to be made of the areas that will be printed in metallic foil. The metallic foil is applied to the paper with the heated die. Also similar to letterpress, a new die must be made for every new metallic foil design. I work with printers who stock a variety of metallic foil colors on a variety of paper stock options including textured, smooth, kraft, and recycled.

Decoding Printing Methods

A digitally printed invitation suite with the names and swirl detail stamped in gold metallic foil with glitter envelope liners

Die Cutting. While die cutting isn’t a printing method, it can be just as important to the overall look of your invitation. Die cut cards can be cut into a variety of shapes to add character to your invitations. Rounded and inverted corners are also an option that can be used in place of die cutting.

Decoding Printing Methods

Digitally printed programs with a custom die cut shape

Heat Embossing. Heat embossing is the process of creating a stamp, adding ink to your stamp, and pouring embossing powder on top. The excess powder is then removed from the paper to create your design.

Flat Foil Printing. Flat foil printing is similar to the foil stamping method, but more cost effective. Rather than making a die, a specialty printer is used to print metallic ink directly onto the paper. The difference between this method and foil stamping is that the entire design must be printed in metallic ink, and the paper options and sizes are much more limited.

Decoding Printing Methods

Flat gold foil printing

Digital Printing. Digital printing is the most cost-effective way to print your invitations. The process involves printing your digital design directly onto the paper. This method is perfect for small run jobs, like wedding invitations. I use a variety of printers who stock several styles and colors of paper stock for digital printing, but the paper stocks that run through a digital printer do not match the thickness and quality of several other printing methods. This is a great option for designs that have a wide array of colors and thin lines or design elements. Unlike other methods, digital printing must be done on a stock that is lighter in color than the ink colors being printed.

Decoding Printing Methods

Digitally printed invitation suite. The large areas of charcoal gray background were achieved by printing charcoal gray overlaid with white text

Many of these printing methods can be combined to achieve a unique look, too!

While this is not a comprehensive list, these are the most common printing methods I use for my clients, but the sky really is the limit! Other printing options include white ink printing, blind embossing, thermography, offset lithography, and so much more!

Got a question about a specific printing method? Leave it in the comments, or contact me! I’m happy to help!

All photos, with the exception of the die cut photo, are taken by the talented Caroline Lima.

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Communicating Marriage Expectations

September 27, 2015

Communicating Expectations in Your Marriage

Marriage is fun. I love being a devoted wife to my husband who is constantly encouraging me, supporting me, nudging me to continuously grow and learn, and cheering me on. (Not to mention putting up with my crazy antics and horrendous singing that only he gets to experience because I’m a textbook introvert.) I love that every evening feels like a school-night sleepover and that my morning routine includes my best friend by my side (even if I’m not quite ready to talk before my coffee).

And while marriage does involve a little work (hello, anything you do with another human being involves a little work – not everyone thinks, feels, and acts just like you!), continuously communicating your expectations will make it seem like almost all fun and very little work.

While I can’t tell you exactly what expectations to communicate (that’s something you need to think about for yourself and your marriage), I can help get your wheels turning on communicating marriage expectations.

Here are some ideas to consider communicating in your marriage:

Household duties. If an outsider were to see my husband I taking care of the household chores, they would probably be really confused by the convoluted ways we work together. But it works for us, and is a system we’ve managed to (almost) perfect over the years. Consider communicating who will be responsible for various household chores so you’re not resenting your partner down the road for something they had no idea you wanted them to do.

Children. While you’re probably already aware that it’s extremely important to discuss whether or not you plan to have children (likely something you’ll discuss before you say “I do!”), it’s also important to communicate when you would like to grow your family, if kids are in the cards for you. Down the road, as you continue communicating your expectations, you’ll also want to consider your children’s education experience and how you’d like them to be raised.

Communication. It seems a little silly to communicate about communication, doesn’t it? But believe me, it’s not. You may want to discuss how you’ll address conflicts, if it takes you more than one cup of coffee before you’re willing to even say “Good morning”, and even your personality traits with regard to communication. An introvert like myself will certainly not want to chit-chat as much or as often as an extrovert. Making sure your spouse understands these traits will help them understand when you need some quiet time or (for extroverts) when you need to chat away.

Spirituality. I highly recommend discussing religion and spirituality with your partner. This is a line of communication you’ll likely want to keep open indefinitely as your relationship with spirituality grows and strengthens. Discuss how your spirituality will affect decisions throughout your life and how you plan to practice your beliefs.

Friendships. What better companion to discuss friendship with than your best friend? Consider discussing how often you’d like to spend time with friends away from your spouse. If you’d like to see your girlfriends every weekend, but your spouse’s expectations are much different, you could be setting yourself up for conflict sooner than you think. You also may want to discuss what activities are within reason when you’re out with friends.

Major purchases. Keep the lines of communication open when it comes to major purchases. This will ensure you’re on the same page financially, but it will also help you negotiate and communicate with salespeople who are pushing you to purchase a higher end countertop for that new kitchen, or a fancier car you’ve already told your spouse was just not necessary for your household.

Continuously keeping the lines of communication open in your marriage is just one way to help set your marriage up for success. Be open to hearing your spouse’s point of view, clearly communicate your expectations, and understand that you’re on the same team! If you keep that in mind, your marriage will win every time.

If you’re looking for more inspiration and guidance on communicating expectations in your marriage, Family Life has a great article here.

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Heartfelt Weddings: Incorporating Heirlooms in Your Wedding

July 15, 2015

Incorporating Heirlooms in Your WeddingI don’t think it’s any secret that I’m a big fan of meaningful, heartfelt wedding celebrations. I’d shout it from the rooftops if I didn’t think someone would send me to the loony bin. To me, every little detail, down to the toasting glasses and beyond, is an opportunity to create a heartfelt celebration. Believe it or not, the details you choose with love and care are the ones you’ll remember years down the road – and may even become family traditions.

One way to add meaning to those little details is by incorporating family heirlooms into your celebration. This may seem like an impossible task if your having a more modern celebration or your style doesn’t mesh with the heirlooms you’d like to include, but there are so many unique ways to incorporate them, you can certainly find a way that works for you!

Here are a few ways you can incorporate heirlooms in your wedding celebration, but this is just a starting point! Get creative and do what speaks to your heart.

Include a vintage family photo in a locket on your bouquet

This is such a beautiful way to include a family heirloom in your wedding. Tie the locket with a ribbon around your bouquet in memory of loved ones who may not be able to be present.

Incorporate family linens on the reception tables

You know all those linens and doilies your sweet Grandma made you when you every year for Christmas when you were younger? (That can’t be just me, right?). This is the perfect opportunity to use them! Use small doilies or linens in your centerpieces, incorporate throw blankets in a lounge area, or cover reception tables with those handmade table runners you have stacked up, waiting to be used.

Pay homage to your heritage through your invitations and paper goods

Do you have a traditional family crest or tartan that dates back to the beginning of your family lineage? Or even a symbol that represents your culture (the Southern hospitality symbol of a pineapple is a great example)? Consider incorporating portions of these elements in your wedding invitations and stationery as a nod to your heritage and culture that got you where you are today!

Use family toasting glasses

My husband and I aren’t big champagne drinkers, so we didn’t see the significance of investing in nice champagne toasting glasses for our wedding. Instead, we chose to use my parents gorgeous toasting glasses. Not only did it save us the unnecessary expense of something we didn’t feel was important, but we got to use a family heirloom that made the toast that much more special to us.

Use family recipes in your menu

Depending on your caterer’s policies, you may be able to include some special family recipes in your menu!

What are some special and unique ways you plan to use family heirlooms in your wedding celebration?

Photo courtesy of Jason Collins Photography

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Top Etiquette Tips for Writing Thank You Notes

July 8, 2015

Top Etiquette Tips for Writing Thank You NotesLet’s chat for just a minute about all the wonderful family and friends who are playing a role in your wedding celebration and marriage. You know who I’m talking about. All those wonderful people who threw an engagement party or bridal shower for you. And the lovely friends who were more than willing to come over on a whim with ice cream and wine when you were freaking out and needed a crew to help tie ribbon on favors. And then all the beautiful guests who will show up at your wedding, gifts in hand, to celebrate and love on you for an entire evening. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing, and you are so very lucky to have these folks in your life, right?

Now let’s chat about how to properly thank them. I know writing thank you notes is the last thing you want to do when you still have wedding planning to do or a honeymoon to pack for, or (and most importantly!) a sweet, kind spouse to share dinner and a bottle of bubbly with. But it is so important to properly thank those family and friends in your life who so lovingly are celebrating you as you begin this new chapter in your life!

Want to make sure your thanking them properly? Here are a few top etiquette tips for writing thank you notes to keep in mind:

Timing is key

Traditionally, you have a timeframe of one year to write thank you I notes for gifts. Thank about that, though. One year. That’s a long time! You really should tend to thank you notes as soon as you possibly can. Not only does it show your loved ones how much you truly care about them, but it is also a task that is so easy to get off your plate with just a block of time one Sunday evening! Pop open a bottle of wine, order takeout, and spend the evening with your spouse reminiscing and writing those thank you notes!

Get personal

I know it’s so easy to write a generic thank you note letting your sweet Aunt Gertrude you so appreciate the gift she gave you. But it’s so much better to thank Aunt Gertrude very specifically by mentioning the exact turquoise stand mixer she got you and that you plan to use it right away to make your husband’s very favorite lemon pound cake. For each thank you note, make sure to include the exact gift they gave you and, if possible, how you plan to use that gift.

Make a good impression

You didn’t haphazardly pick out and address your wedding invitations, did you? So maybe that’s a good sign that you shouldn’t do that with your thank you cards! Choose or order your thank you cards with as much love and attention as you did your wedding invitations. They don’t necessarily have to coordinate with the overall style of your actual wedding day, but they should be a reflection of you, and not the first thing you grabbed from the clearance bin at Target.

Include your spouse

Even if you write the thank you notes yourself, it would be so wonderful to have your spouse include his/her handwritten name at the end of the note with yours. This is such an easy task that makes a big impact! A quick note from both of you shows how truly grateful you are for your loved ones.

Now that you’re armed with thank you note etiquette, it’s time to get out those note cards, pens, and postage and get to writing!

 

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Let Love Grow: Gardening & Marriage

July 1, 2015

Let Love Grow: Gardening & Marriage
Let me tell you a little story. When my husband and I first got married, I didn’t know a single thing about gardening. I was a horrible cook (unless you asked for spaghetti!) and the thought of growing my own produce seemed really daunting to me. We spent our honeymoon in Spain, and I was in awe of all of the beautiful, fresh food we were easily able to get our hands on, and how easy it looked to prepare. Both my husband and I came home with a sense of energy about gardening, growing our own food, and using our own food to prepare meals. That’s honestly how we became interested in gardening.

A few months after we got married, we bought our first home together, and that spring we planted our first garden. I was instantly hooked. I checked my garden every single day (I still do to this day – I’m always amazed at watching how the plants grow and change every day) and gave it the TLC it needed. That first year, I learned what vegetables I was good at growing and what vegetables I should probably just purchase from the farmer’s market. I learned what I should grow more of because I love to eat it, and what I probably didn’t need to grow at all, even if I was good at it. I also learned that I really didn’t need to plant an entire bed of herbs because, y’all, herbs grow like weeds and I had way more cilantro, basil, mint, and oregano than I knew what to do with!

Gardening started off as just that for me – a hobby that I could use to lower my grocery bill and eat more fresh produce without batting an eye.

Since then, though, gardening has planted a much bigger seed in my heart than I could have ever thought possible. God really does work in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?

The art of gardening has taught me:

  • Steps to take to nourish my marriage (and any relationship, for that matter)
  • How to creatively spend time and communicate with my husband
  • When I need to “prune” toxicities out of my life
  • How to be a healthier individual (emotionally and physically) for my husband and my family

I’m sure you’re thinking…”Seriously? How in the world can you learn that just from planting a few tomatoes?” Believe me, if you had asked me that a few years ago, I would have wondered the exact same thing. It’s taken a lot of soul-searching and contemplating, but I honestly can’t imagine my marriage without the concepts of gardening in it anymore.

Beginning in just a few short weeks, I’ll begin sharing stories here from other couples who have used the concepts of gardening in their marriage and they didn’t even know it! You might already be doing some of these concepts in your own relationship! I’ll also be sending out weekly activities and discussion questions to email subscribers throughout the month of August to show you exactly how you can use the concepts of gardening to strengthen and nourish your own marriage, and I hope you’ll join me! Happy and fulfilled marriages aren’t always easy (hello, overtime hours, kids activities, and endless loads of laundry!), but they are so worth it and you and your spouse are so deserving of a fulfilling marriage.

Let Love Grow: Gardening & Marriage

 

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Things Wedding Stationers Do You Probably Never Knew

June 29, 2015

Things Your Wedding Stationers Do You Probably Never Knew

Custom wedding invitations and paper goods are such a beautiful aspect to your wedding day. They give your guests a first impression of your event, portray your overall style, and oftentimes are a one-of-a-kind design that is unique to you and your fiancé. And most of the time, they look effortless. Like your designer was able to come up with the design in an instant and then put the idea to paper in a matter of minutes. Sometimes, this is actually true. Other times, though, it takes much longer than that for the idea to come to fruition.

Here are some of the things your wedding stationer often does that you probably would never even know about:

Develop scar tissue for you.

This may sound a little extreme, but…it’s true. Over the years, I’ve developed numerous callouses and scars from deep exact-o knife and scissor cuts. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Spend countless hours searching for the perfect paper.

If you don’t spend day in and day out working with paper, you may not realize there are literally thousands of paper options to choose from (and don’t even get me started on which printing methods work best with which papers on top of that…). We spend countless hours making sure the paper texture and color we print your final design on is going to enhance the overall look and feel without being too overwhelming…and that your chosen printing method works well with the final paper choice. And then we find the perfect envelope to match that perfect paper. You can see how this starts to add up in the time department, right?

Become BFFs with the post office (or FedEx, or UPS…).

Ah, yes. The post office, FedEx, and UPS all know me by name now – and about my life. I get paper supply deliveries from UPS and FedEx on almost a daily basis, so it’s hard not to become friends with them. I also ship my packages through FedEx, so I’m constantly in the store. They have actually been known to call me on several occasions, and in fact, my husband has even run into them at a grocery store and he’s handed my husband my packages. The post office, on the other hand, probably can’t stand me. I’m constantly having to ask them if a specific invitation style needs extra postage, asking very specific questions about postage designs, and dropping off hundreds upon hundreds of envelopes to be mailed out.

Wash our hands constantly.

I am always so nervous that I’m going to get even the tiniest speck of dirt on a piece of paper I’m working with, so I wash my hands about a million times a day. If I leave my office just once and touch something that is not paper or ribbon, I will wash my hands. This also means my hands are forever dry and cracking…because the only time I can moisturize them is at night.

Spend embarrassingly too long trimming ribbon until it is just so.

Both sides of the ribbon must be exactly the same length. And then if I trim it too much and it’s too short altogether, I take it off and start all over. There’s a science to all this, I promise.

Spend hours comparing butter to marigold to sunflower to sunshine.

Because everyone knows those are completely different shades of yellow, right? Whether it’s a shade of pink, green, or blue you are looking for, we spend tons of time searching for that perfect shade that will balance your invitation suite and achieve the style you are going for.

Hand-fold every single envelope liner.

Believe it or not, envelope liners don’t come pre-folded, and they certainly don’t come already in the envelopes. Someone has to put the liners in your envelopes for you…that someone is more than likely your stationer. I couldn’t even tell you how many envelope liners I’ve assembled over the years. Oh, and if I can’t find an envelope liner printer who will print the exact color ink I want in my pattern, on the exact paper I want, in the exact size I need…I will create the envelope liners myself and hand-cut every single one of them before I assemble them in the envelopes. This is real life, y’all – and I absolutely love doing every single one of them!

Test out countless watercolor brushstrokes and colors until the perfect one is achieved.

That brushstroke or illustration or watercolor palette you see on your invitation? It didn’t happen in a matter of seconds. Most likely, it happened over a matter of hours or even days of practicing to get the correct color tone, brushstroke width, and texture. So even though it may look simple and quick to you, trust me, it took much longer than you probably think!

So tell me, are these a surprise to you?

Photo by Bamber Photography.
Styling by Sarah Ervin.

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The Importance of Wedding Invitations

June 24, 2015

Reasons Your Wedding Invitation Are Important

I read an article the other day claiming that wedding invitations aren’t really that important so not to worry about them and not to spend a lot of time and money on them. This, of course, made me cringe. Not only because it was written by a wedding planner, but because I disagreed with everything that was mentioned. While I don’t think you have to spend a lot of money on your invitations, I do think putting in the time to make sure they are an accurate reflection of your wedding day is important. Not to mention, if you don’t worry about them and end up sending them out late, who’s to say your guests are even going to be available to come? In a nutshell, your invitations are absolutely an important part of your wedding day.

Here are just a few of the reasons detailing the importance of wedding invitations:

You’ll cherish them for years to come – and so will your family

This past weekend, my in-laws came to visit and they brought my father-in-law’s parent’s wedding album with them. It was falling apart, the pages were yellowing, and pieces had come unglued. Which made it absolutely beautiful in my eyes.  In the back of the album was an original wedding invitation from their wedding in 1948. A hand-painted, layered invitation with gorgeous typesetting. No one had given a single thought to this little piece of paper for years and years, but the second it was found, memories were remembered and a sense of family history was solidified. While you may not look at an album containing your wedding invitation and stationery every single day, I guarantee you’ll cherish it when you do pull it out to take a look at it. And you’ll be so thankful it’s there.

They carry a little piece of your family history on them

Whether you’re having a traditional Irish wedding with Celtic symbols adorning your invitation, or a sweet Southern wedding with a monogrammed invitation, your stationery is likely to have bits and pieces of family history on them – even in the simplest of ways. Listing your parents names, a family church, an illustration of your grandma’s favorite flower, or even just a simple color palette inspired by your love of nature that began as a child. Each element of your invitation was carefully selected because of your family history and/or your preferences that were formed as you were raised by your family. You don’t throw away old family photos (in fact, you probably cherish them even more the older they get), so why would you throw away a wedding invitation that provides the exact same value?

They are the first glimpse of your wedding your guests get to see

Your wedding invitations are the very first visual aspect of your wedding that your guests will see. For such a special celebration that you’ll remember for the rest of your life (and your close family members probably will, too), why would you want to wait until the last minute to throw something together – knowing it’s the first glimpse of one of the most special days of your life? This is a perfect opportunity to show your guests how important this exchange of vows is to you, through a carefully selected invitation. (Note: careful selection does not have to mean expensive!)

They become beautiful keepsakes

Wedding invitations are absolutely beautiful when framed – either alone or with a favorite photo from your wedding day. My mom framed our wedding invitation as a gift for us, and it now stands on the wall directly in front of our bedroom, reminding us day in and day out of the promises we made to one another. I guarantee if you have your wedding invitation framed, it will be one of the items you are most careful with as you move homes throughout the years.

They are an extension of you as a couple

Not only are your invitations filled with family history, but they are also one of the first things you design and compromise on as a couple. You may want a traditional invitation with formal, black script text while your fiancé wants a less formal invitation with block text. You compromise by doing your names in a formal script and everything else in block text. This is a beautiful visual element of you as a couple.

They delight your guests instantaneously

Let’s be honest. Very few people get good snail mail anymore. Most often the mailbox is filled with junk mail and bills. Think about how excited you would be to receive a beautifully crafted envelope with a gorgeous invitation in it just for you – amongst the junk and bills. That’s what your guests will receive – and they will be instantaneously excited for you and your marriage vows.

They set expectations for your guests

Since your wedding invitations are the first glimpse into your celebration your guests will receive, this also means this is where expectations are set. If you send out an invitation that you clearly did not care about, and threw together at the last minute, your guests will feel like they don’t have to RSVP right away and may wonder if your celebration is even something worth attending for them. On the other hand, if you send them a carefully designed invitation that is clearly a blend of your and your fiancé’s personality and family history, they will be much more excited to celebrate with you – and the expectation will be set that your wedding day is so important to you.

Ready to get started on the wedding invitations of your dream? Be sure to ask your stationer these questions when you get started!

jean

First photo by Caroline Lima Photography

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5 Unexpected Ways to Honor Loved Ones at Your Wedding

June 22, 2015

lovedones

Your wedding day is such a special time for you, your spouse, and your family and friends. You’ll likely want to honor loved ones who have passed away, but may realize there is a fine line between happily honoring their memory and creating sadness amongst your guests who were close with those you are honoring.

While there is probably a deep sense of sadness that those loved ones can’t be at your wedding in person to celebrate with you, it’s also a wonderful time to celebrate their life and the joy they brought while they were here on this Earth.

Here are 5 unexpected ways to honor loved ones and celebrate their life and personality at your wedding celebration:

Share their favorite reading or quote at the ceremony.

The ceremony is a wonderful place to celebrate loved ones. It’s already a very special bond between you and your soon-to-be spouse, so including a special remembrance of loved ones makes it all the more meaningful. Consider sharing a reading or a quote that was significant to your loved one(s). You don’t even have to  announce to your guests that’s what you’re including it for – if you and your spouse know, that is all that matters.

Wear something of theirs.

Is there a special necklace or brooch you can wear to honor loved ones? This is a wonderful way to feel close to them on your wedding day. Make sure to get photos of what you are wearing – you’ll cherish those photos for years to come! (As shown in the photo above with my grandmother’s photo in a vintage locket on my bouquet!).

Reserve a seat.

Consider reserving a seat in your loved one’s honor. If you plan on reserving 10 seats for close family members, save 1 more seat for loved ones who have passed on and display a small bouquet of flowers and a note on the chair.

Display their favorite flowers or serve a favorite food.

Did your great-grandmother love gardenias? Try incorporating them into your bouquet and/or the centerpieces at your wedding. Was your great-uncle nibbling on peach cobbler every chance he could? Incorporate this into your dessert menu. These are beautiful ways to honor loved ones that celebrate their life wholeheartedly without creating an atmosphere of sadness. Your guests who were close with those individuals will recognize the gesture and likely begin sharing fond memories.

Celebrate their life.

Was Grandma trying to entertain every second she could? What about having a bunch of balloons (in her favorite colors!) at the entrance of your ceremony or reception to honor her memory of entertaining.

There are so many beautiful ways to honor loved ones at your ceremony and reception. Think about what those individuals loved – their hobbies and favorite things – and incorporate those into your decor where it feels right. You guests who were close with those loved ones will appreciate it and you’ll be so thankful for the photos and memories for years to come.

How do you plan to honor loved ones at your wedding celebration?

Photo courtesy of Jason Collins Photography.

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Let Love Grow: Benefits of Fruit-Bearing Trees & Vines

June 18, 2015

Let Love Grow: Benefits of Fruit-Bearing Trees & VinesLet me be honest with you for a few minutes (I mean, I’m always honest with you, but you know what I mean). There was a time in my life when I did not have a green thumb. Like, at all. In fact it was probably more like a black thumb or a rotting thumb or a why-can’t-you-even-keep-a-cactus-alive thumb. (If this is you, there is hope! You can grow all sorts of things, I promise you!). So, in those days growing anything seemed far-fetched, much less vines and trees that get humongous.

Let me let you in on a little secret, though.

Fruit-bearing trees and vines are one of the easiest things you can grow, care for, and maintain. I promise you. Here are some benefits of fruit-bearing trees and vines, along with some tips on growing and caring for them:

They need little maintenance

As mentioned above, fruit-bearing trees and vines need very little maintenance once they start growing. When they are small, they will need a little TLC to ensure they thrive in your environment, but after that, they’re ready to leave the nest and grow on their own. For new, small trees, I highly recommend watering bags. You just secure them around the tree, zip them up, fill them with water, and the water will slowly release throughout the day. You should only fill the watering bag every 5-7 days, so once a week would be fine to check on it! That’s nothing compared to the water needed for smaller vegetable plants. As the trees start to get taller and stronger, you won’t even need the watering bags anymore.

They produce year after year

Fruit-bearing trees and vines will produce year after year without any care whatsoever. The first fruit-bearing plants I planted were a fig tree and a blueberry bush. The teeny tiny ones you get at the garden store in the little bags that fit right in your hand. That was years ago and they still produce every year without any sort of care at all. I water them occasionally when I water the garden, but only because I’m right there. They sit outside all winter long and as soon as spring weather returns, they begin producing gorgeous green leaves, and later fruit.

They provide shade

Most large fruit-bearing trees (think: apples, peaches, pears) provide wonderful shade for your home, which, in turn could lower your electricity bill!

They multiply all on their own

Fruits with lots of seeds in them, like the blackberries shown above, will multiple exponentially all on their own. If you have limited space, this might not be such a good thing, but if you have plenty of area for them to multiply (say, on the very edge of your yard or near a wooded area), they will continuously grow and produce for you. I have more blackberries than I know what to do with these days!

They’re versatile

Even if you grow more fruit than you know what to do with (which can happen if you plant a lot of trees and vines!), you have so many options for saving and preserving them. Obviously, you can eat them fresh, but you can also bake with them, freeze them, juice them, and make jam with them. All easy and great ideas for entertaining and gift-giving!

Before this year, I planted blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapes and figs. This year, I added peach trees, and pear trees, plum trees; and we have three apple trees on our property, too. Besides the watering bags, we’ve done nothing else to them and they are thriving already! If you have the space, I highly encourage you to try planting a fruit-bearing tree or vine and see just how easy the fruits of your labor produce (Is that a horribly lame pun?).

Interested in learning more about gardening? You can see all my gardening posts in one place here!

 

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What Every Engaged Couple Needs to Know That No One Ever Tells You

June 17, 2015

Things Engaged Couples Need to Know That No One Ever Tells You

Yay, you’re engaged! Now the fun part begins – planning one of the most special days of your life! That being said, make sure your fully prepared to plan your wedding celebration without any unexpected surprises or bumps in the road. Here are some things to take into consideration when you begin the planning process:

You May Question Your Sanity

It’s so, so easy to get overwhelmed when you first begin wedding planning. The thing is, before you even start, you probably think you know exactly what your dream wedding will look like. And then you see other ideas you never even thought about (uh, hello, Pinterest!). Or you realize that cake you thought was going to be the easiest cake in the world to get made is actually way, way, way outside your cake budget (I don’t know from experience or anything…). Wait, did you just say cake budget? I need a budget for my cake? All these questions and ideas can make you feel certifiably insane. I’m here to tell you, friends, it will come together beautifully! And you will love every single minute of your wedding day, regardless of what cake you choose or what your centerpieces look like, because you’re marrying your best friend, and what can be better than that?

Set Up a Separate Email Account

This tip was actually brought up to me be a sweet client of mine who is tying the knot in just a few weeks. And it makes total sense to me! When you first get engaged, you’re so excited to sign up for e-newsletters and websites and may even contact several vendors before settling on your favorites. Having a separate email account will help you keep all wedding-related items of business separate from your personal or professional email account so everything you need is in one place and you aren’t overwhelmed with random wedding emails twelve times an hour. And how fun is it to tell your vendors your email address is jenandbengethitched@yahoo.com?!

Do Your Research Before Planning Your Budget

More than likely, you haven’t planned a wedding anytime in the last year or two, right? So, it’s pretty safe to say you might be a little clueless when it comes to expenses involved. I recommend pricing a wedding based on what you really want – the dream venue, the dream flowers, the dream dress. If that’s within a realistic budget for you, than that’s great! Your budget is all set! If it’s way outside of what your ideal budget is, you can start choosing the items that are most important to you. For instance, your dream flowers may be double what your flower budget should realistically be. There’s no right or wrong way to outline your budget, so pick and choose what’s the most important to you. And if you need help with your budget, I’m your girl – learn more here!

You Really, Really, Really Want to Consider a Wedding Planner or Stylist

If you and your fiancé both work full-time, it’s safe to say you may want someone in your corner helping you along the way. Wedding planners and stylists have relationships with tons of vendors and can help ensure your dream wedding comes to life. They also have the ability to talk to these vendors during the day (because, well, that’s their job!), whereas you may have to take time off work just to meet with vendors. The best part? A lot of planners and stylists will let you be involved as much or as little as you’d like. Lastly, a wedding planner, stylist, or coordinator will also set everything up for you the day of the wedding so you can relax and know your event is in good hands.

You’ll Likely Have a Lull in Planning

Unless you have a really, really short engagement, there will likely be a period of time when it seems like there’s a lull in the planning process. You’ve ordered your invitations, you’ve picked out your dress and flowers and cake, you’ve secured a venue…now what? When you get the larger parts of planning done, the smaller details don’t take up as much time so it can seem like there’s a lull. If you’ve planned properly, this is normal and that means the big things are covered! Yay!

The Season May Affect Your Budget

There are several ways the season can affect your budget. Many venues (and vendors) are not busy in the winter, so often offer lower rates than the busy “wedding seasons” of spring and fall. At the same time, if you want a winter wedding with a bouquet full of out-of-season flowers, you’re going to end up paying a pretty penny for florals. Being mindful of the details you want will help you choose the most cost-effective season for yourself.

Factor Tipping into Your Budget

One part of the budget many couples often overlook is tipping vendors the evening of the wedding. Depending on the overall budget of your event, tipping can end up costing upwards of $1,000 after all is said in done. If you factor tips into your overall initial budget, you won’t have any surprises the day of your wedding! This is a really great guide to tipping your wedding vendors.

You may also want to check out these 10 questions to ask your wedding stationer, many of which are great questions to ask other wedding vendors!

What else would you add to this list that couples often overlook?

Photo courtesy of Caroline Lima Photography

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Let Love Grow: Vegetable Gardening Tips

June 8, 2015

Vegetable Gardening Tips
Although I absolutely adore growing my own cut flowers and playing with them, I have to admit vegetable gardening is my first true (gardening) love. My husband and I decided to do our very first vegetable garden together right after we got married and we have both been hooked every since, expanding our garden more and more with each passing year.

Last year, we also had our very first fall garden and it was a huge success for us. While I know I don’t have all the answers when it comes to gardening (I’m certainly not a pro!), I do know what does and doesn’t work for us and our little garden!

Here are a few vegetable gardening tips we try to keep in mind when we notice our garden isn’t performing as well as we’d like it to.

A little TLC goes a long way

You certainly don’t need to check up on your garden multiple times a day – or even once a day! But checking in a few times a week will help keep weeds and pests at bay and ensure your garden is getting plenty of nutrients and water. If you plan to pull weeds, get rid of rotting vegetables and leaves, and water your garden a few times a week, for just a few minutes each time, you’ll likely have more success with a lush garden full of vegetables come midsummer!

Follow your instincts

Pay attention to the overall look and feel when you check on your garden. Does something not “feel” right? Take a closer look and make sure there are no holes in the soil that could be new homes for rodents. Does one plant seem to be struggling to stay alive? Determine whether it’s because it’s too shaded (potentially from other larger plants that are blocking the sun), not getting enough water (is the soil around it too dry?), getting too much water (do the roots and/or bottom stems seem very wet and fragile?), not getting enough nutrients (are weeds growing around the source of that plant?), or maybe just a plant that struggled to survive! Once you’re able to get to the root of the problem (ahem, no pun intended…), you’ll know how to best help the plant survive and hopefully thrive!

Get familiar with the vegetables you’re planting and how they grow

Before you plant too many vegetables, make sure you’re familiar with how they’ll grow. They may seem very small now, but believe me, in a month or two they are going to be huge! Keep this in mind when planting. For instance, tomato plants will likely need to be staked, so make sure your prepared to stake them properly. You’ll also want to make sure the large, staked tomato plants won’t be blocking the sun for other plants down the road. If you’re planting crawlers (like squash, cucumbers, or pumpkins), I know they look very small and easy to manage right now, but make sure they have plenty of room to crawl once they start to grow. This also means you’ll want to make sure there are no plants in the area where they will be crawling. As they grow, you can “train” them to crawl in a certain area with a little bit of care and help, so if you plant around one side of them, you can train them to crawl the other way. If you’re planting broccoli or kale, or other leafy greens,  make sure there’s a large enough circle around them that they won’t block other plants from the sun and water.

Mix it up with flowers

It’s a great idea to mix up your vegetable garden with a few flowers – either in the bed itself or in surrounding areas in the soil or pots. Flowers are great for attracting bees, which will help pollinate many of your vegetables. Chrysanthemums, dahlias, sunflowers, and marigolds are great for repelling insects and will hopefully keep pests at bay on your plant leaves. You may also want to consider mixing herbs in your vegetable garden as well. Many herbs, like lavender and basil, will also help guard against flies and bugs.

Water in the early morning

If possible, try to water your garden before it gets too hot in the morning. This will help ensure your plants receive most of the water before it evaporates off from the sun. If mornings are difficult, you can also water them after the sun sets in that area. The idea here is just to make sure your plants are getting all the water – not the air.

Frost might make your vegetables taste better

Many leafy greens really enjoy the colder temperatures, and actually end up tasting better after a frost has covered them. This is not to say they won’t be wonderful to grow in the summer, but it may be a good option for testing out a fall garden full of bright leafy greens! Try them out both in a spring/summer garden as well as a fall garden when frost will be hitting them and see which one you prefer!

Haven’t quite started your garden yet? Here are my previous posts about getting your garden started!

 

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Envelope Addressing Tips

June 3, 2015

Invitation Etiquette: Envelope Addressing Tips

When it comes to wedding invitations, sometimes the etiquette of it all can seem a bit daunting. After all, you’ve likely never had to create an invitation with formal wording and proper etiquette before! Even if you’re having an informal celebration, you still probably want to make your guests feel special and follow some basic etiquette guidelines.

When it comes time to stuff and seal your envelopes, you’ll probably start asking yourself these questions:

Is it really necessary to include “Mr. and Mrs.”?
How do I let me guests know this is an adults-only event?
What if I don’t know my friend’s boyfriend’s name?

Here are the answers to those questions and then some!

Formal/Traditional Addressing Tips

  • Use titles when addressing (i.e. Mr. & Mrs; Dr.; Captain; etc.)
  • If possible, include the guest’s proper name on the invitation – even if you’ve never met them. If you’re unsure of the guest’s name or don’t know who the recipient plans to bring, you may simply write “and Guest”
  • If using inner and outer envelopes, the outer envelope should include the couple and the inner envelope should also include children’s names, if children are invited
  • If you are sending an invitation to one household with different last names, write out each name separately (for instance, rather than Mr. and Mrs. John Smith you would address it as Mr. John Smith and Ms. Mary Jones)
  • If you are having an adults-only event, simply leave the children’s names off the envelope(s)
  • If you are inviting guests who live in the same household, but aren’t related (for instance, friends who are roommates), dating,  or married, send an invitation to each member of the household
  • If a couple’s children still live at home and they are 18 or older, send an invitation to both the parents, and the child(ren)
  • Consider hiring a calligrapher or have your designer print guest addresses on your envelopes for formal events
  • Consider your postage when mailing – custom postage, vintage postage, or a simple stamp that matches your envelope/invitation palette are all great options

Casual Addressing Tips

  • Titles are not necessary to include
  • If possible, include the guest’s proper name on the invitation – even if you’ve never met them. If you’re unsure of the guest’s name or don’t know who the recipient plans to bring, you may simply write “and Guest”
  • Inner envelopes are not necessary for casual events, so your outer envelope will be addressed to all individuals who are invited to the event
  • If you are having an adults-only event, simply leave the children’s names off the invitation
  • If you are inviting guests who live in the same household, but aren’t related (for instance, friends who are roommates), dating,  or married, send an invitation to each member of the household
  • If a couple’s children still live at home and they are 18 or older, send an invitation to both the parents, and the child(ren)
  • You may consider hiring a calligrapher or have your guests’ addresses printed on the envelopes by your designer, but you may also handwrite them for a personal touch
  • Consider your postage when mailing – custom postage, vintage postage, or a simple stamp that matches your envelope/invitation palette are all great options

Not quite ready to think about your envelopes yet? See the Mega Guide to Wedding Invitation Wording for wording ideas, the Anatomy of a Wedding Invitation, or these Wedding Invitation Myths Debunked

Photo courtesy of Becky Williamson Photography.
Calligraphy by Prairie Letter Shop.

 

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Let Love Grow: Creating a Gardening Routine

June 1, 2015

Creating a Gardening Routine

Last week, in my gardening series, I talked about how the basics of how to get started with your garden. And that’s all fine and well…if you put in a little bit of time to maintain your garden as it begins to grow. Without giving it a little TLC, it will probably end up being a dried up bed of brown leaves, mushy vegetables or flowers that never grew, and weeds.

Getting in a gardening routine doesn’t have to be very time consuming, though. Once you set a timeline that works well with your schedule, it’s much easier to manage your garden, and for the time you spend in your garden to be relaxing and fulfilling!

Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your own personal gardening routine:

Set aside time to water your garden several times a week

You want to ensure your garden is getting plenty of water, so if your area is prone to dry spells in the summer, you’ll likely need to do most of the watering yourself. I, personally, am in a location that gets very hot in the summer and doesn’t get enough rain, so I set my timer on my hose to run for a few minutes before sunrise and again a few minutes after sunset. It’s best to water at the least hot time of the day so the water doesn’t quickly evaporate. If you are able to get an inexpensive timer at your local hardware or gardening shop, I personally think that’s the best route to take because you don’t have to worry about doing any of the watering! If not, set aside a few minutes each morning and/or evening to water your garden. You’ll be surprised how relaxing it can become, and how much you enjoy it! In fact, there are many days where I remove my hose from the timer and water everything myself just because I enjoy it.

Keep an eye on pests and weeds

You’ll want to keep an eye out for pests and weeds as your vegetables or flowers begin to grow, so you can stay on top of managing them before they take over your garden and kill all the plants you put so much hard work into planting. When you see weeds starting to sprout up, try and remove them immediately so they don’t suck up nutrients from the soil that should be going to your vegetables and flowers. If you catch them early, weeds are very easy to remove by the root and don’t require any tools besides your hands. For pests, you may begin to notice insects crawling on the leaves or even see tiny holes in the leaves where pests have gnawed through. There are several ways to combat pests, depending on the type of plant they are interested in. Anything from eggshells to planting flowers they resist to essential oils will help keep pests away. Once you’ve determined the type of pest, you can do a little more digging into the best remedy to get rid of them. And pests don’t go away after your vegetables have grown and are ready for harvesting! Many larger animals will be more than happy to pluck off of your fruit and vegetable plants. The best remedy I’ve found for more mature plants is either netting over top of them, if they are small enough plants, or large, plastic snakes and owls sitting near your plant in question. Quickly check your plants for pests and weeds 1-2 times a week, and you’ll be in good shape!

Pruning

You won’t need to do hardly any pruning when your plants are very small, but as they start to grow, you’ll want to stay on top of keeping them in shape. For vegetables, remove any dead leaves and edibles that are overripe or decaying. This is also a good time to make sure all plants are getting plenty of sun and their vines or leaves aren’t overlapping another plant, preventing it from getting enough sunlight and water. For flowers, remove spent flowers and leaves to encourage more blooms. For large trees and bushes, the best time to shape them and cut them back is after they have bloomed and the blooms have fallen off. I know it seems counterproductive to cut them back, but believe me, they will grow back much more lush and full!

Harvesting

As your vegetables and flowers begin to ripen, you’ll want to set aside time to harvest everything – the part of the process you’ve been waiting for for months! Depending on the size of your garden, you may need to harvest vegetables and flowers every day when they’ve matured. For smaller gardens, set aside time a couple of times a week to harvest all the fruits of your labor. Take a large basket or bucket with you, a pair of clippers, and clip all those ripe fruits, vegetables, and flowers! They’ll continue to grow as long as the climate stays ideal and they are getting enough water.

As you can see, your gardening routine may change over time as your plants mature. As long as your setting aside some “gardening time” several times a week, you’ll have plenty of time to make sure your plants are healthy and growing! If you have plants scattered throughout your yard, try to tend to all of your plants during your dedicated gardening time to ensure everything gets proper attention. Keep your gardening tools in a designated area so you never have to search for anything, and you’ll be set up for success.

Now I want to know – what is your gardening routine? Do you check your garden every day (like me!) or just a few times a week?

Photo courtesy of Live View Studios during a styled shoot I participated in at RiverOaks.

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Let Love Grow: Beginner Gardening Tips

May 22, 2015

Let Love Grow: Beginner's Guide to GardeningYOU GUYS. I’m so excited about this new series! Recently, my sweet, talented friend, Ashley Bush, gave me the brilliant idea to blog about gardening after she saw a photo I posted on Instagram. My initial reaction was, “No way! I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m just learning as I go.”

But then I slept on it.

And when I woke up the next day and went outside to check my vegetable garden (which is literally one of my favorite parts of my day), I saw that it had grown exponentially within just a week and we have more food than we know what to do with from our tiny 8′ square garden.

And then I thought about how when I rebranded earlier this year with the amazing Kathryn Duckett of Creme Brandsso much of my brand was inspired by my love for history, gardening, and growing. Not just that, but a lot of the rebrand was also inspired by my grandmother, who was an avid gardener, and gardening is now one of my and my husband’s favorite things to do together. It’s not uncommon to find us spending a date night gardening together, and then concocting our own meal from what was available in the garden that day.

So really, putting all these things out into the universe prompted Ashley to mention the gardening blog series. Which comes full circle to exactly what I wanted my brand to speak, so really, it only seems fitting that I talk to you about my gardening experiences. And after that initial panic attack of “I am not a pro! I still make gardening mistakes!” I got excited to share this journey with you.

I’m going to tell you more about how I got started in gardening (because if you had asked me about gardening 6 or more years ago, I would have looked at you like you had two heads) in a later post, but today, for my first post in the Let Love Grow series, I want to share with you a few beginner gardening tips. Every single one of these is going to be based on personal preference, so you’ll need to think about each of them before making any quick decisions. You may even want to do a little more research to determine the best gardening plan for you.

Raised bed, in-ground, or container?

How you choose to plant your garden is going to depend on a few different factors. Your personal preference, what you plan on planting, and location all play a role in making this decision for you. A raised bed is going to be a more permanent garden, but offers a longer growing season than an in-ground garden because the soil stays warmer and drains better. On the other hand, an in-ground garden is less permanent and requires less work than building and preparing a raised bed. I found UGA to be really helpful in explaining the pros and cons of both in-ground and raised bed gardens. Container gardens are a great option if you live in a city, apartment, or have limited yard space to grow your own flowers and/or vegetables. Personally, I also think containers look really pretty (I’m a sucker for a unique planter or pot). My personal preference is to do a mixture of all three, depending on what I am planting and when.

What you’ll need

If you’re interested in creating your own raised bed, you’ll need a few extra tools. As a general rule of thumb, here are some tools you’ll want to create a raised bed:

  • 4-8 pieces of wood, either purchased or scraps
  • Weed mat
  • Wood screws
  • Planting soil and/or compost

Admittedly, my husband did most of the building of our 8′ square raised bed, so I’m not going to give you detailed instructions on that today (but I am going to bat my eyelashes and try to get him to compose a guest post on that for you!).

To get your garden started, regardless of which option (raised bed, in-ground, or container) you choose, you’ll want to consider having:

  • Planting soil and/or compost
  • Gardening toolkit, typically found at any gardening or hardware store
  • Garden clippers
  • Mesh netting
  • Hose and/or sprinkler
  • Watering can
  • Heavy-duty plastic snakes and/or owls (to keep birds and rodents out!)
  • Coffee grounds (sprinkle on acidic plants – they love it!)
  • Seedlings or seeds
  • A gardening notebook
  • Plant food (skip this if you want to go the organic route)
  • Stakes (for tall plants like tomatoes)

Choosing what to plant

Now that you’ve got your garden area all prepped, it’s time to decide what you want to plant! The obvious first question is, do you want flowers or vegetables? Or both? From there, it really comes down to personal choice and seasonality. It doesn’t make any sense to plant vegetables you would never eat, so you can just scratch those off the list. Once you’ve decided on what you’d like to plant, make sure it’s the right season for it. This will vary, depending on where you live, so you may need to do some quick research. Lastly, make sure you have enough room to plant what you’re interested in. If you’re confined to container gardening, planting a bunch of runner vegetables like cucumbers, squash and pumpkins really isn’t the best idea. Once you’ve got a plan, it’s time to get to planting! Be mindful of how much sun each plant requires, and you’re already set up for success.

Maintenance & care

You’ll want to make sure your plants get plenty of TLC when they first go into the ground. Sometimes going from their small pot into the ground can be a bit of a shock to them, so make sure they get plenty of water (without drowning them!). You’ll want to water them until you see water pool on top of the soil and then sink into the soil within about 10 seconds. If the water takes any longer than that to seep in, you likely have watered them too much. If the soil is bone dry, they definitely need to be getting watered more often. You’ll want the soil to have some dampness to it pretty much all the time. I try to water everything once very early in the morning before the heat of the day and again at sunset, for about 10 minutes each time. If you’re worried you’ll forget to water your plants, you can get an inexpensive timer from a hardware store, and attach it to your hose. Just set the time you want the water to turn on and off and you don’t have to think about it again! Be sure to pick weeds as soon as you notice them, otherwise the roots may start to take nutrients from the soil away from the plants that really need it. If you notice brown or dead leaves on anything, you can pinch them off so they aren’t sucking up nutrients unnecessarily. If you’re planting flowers, many times the dead ones can be pinched off to make sure new, healthy ones grow, but do a little research based on your particular flower variety first!

Harvesting

Harvesting is going to be different, depending on the type of vegetable or flower. Generally, you should be able to tell if they are ripe and ready for picking based on smell and appearance. Make sure you use your garden clippers to snip them instead of just pulling the vegetables or flowers with your hands alone so you don’t ruin the remainder of the plant, as it will continue to produce. Enjoy your homegrown vegetables and flowers!

Floral arrangement created by me during a class with Mindy Rice.
Photo credit: Caroline Lima for Bliss & Bespoke 2015.

 

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10 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Stationer

May 15, 2015

10 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Stationer

If you’re in the middle of planning a wedding, you probably understand it can seem like you’re doing everything blind. Who knew choosing a cake flavor could be so difficult? Or that you’re all the sudden supposed to be an expert at naming flowers?

I think it’s so important to make sure you are completely comfortable with your vendors before signing on any dotted line! The best way to get comfortable with your vendors is to ask get to know them, and ask them questions. Lots of them! Asking your vendors important questions before you sign a contract helps you to better understand the whole process and feel more at ease with what you’re signing for. It also helps you to make sure your vision for your dream wedding is something your vendors take seriously and, more importantly, is in-line with a style they are just as passionate about!

Here are 10 of the top questions you should ask your wedding stationer:

Do you sell custom designs or do I choose from a standard invitation line?

Your stationer may design each and every invitation suite specifically for that client, or they may just use a template that multiple couples can purchase. A custom design is going to be more personalized and incorporate more of the ideas you may have in mind, while a template is going to have limited choices.

What is your overall style as a designer?

This is really important for ensuring you and your stationer will mesh well together. If you have clashing styles, the process is going to be much more difficult for both of you. On the other hand, if you have similar styles, the process will be more enjoyable than you could have ever imagined!

Can you print items besides just the save the dates and invitations?

Your designer may also be able to design and print your menus, place cards, programs, thank you cards, and anything else you need for your big day! Not only will it save you the hassle of going to multiple vendors, but you may also save money going this route, too. And as an added bonus, working with the same designer throughout the process will ensure everything is cohesive.

How many proofs are included in the price?

Almost all stationers will put a cap on the number of proofs that are included in your price. This is done for a couple of different reasons – first, it is easy, as a bride (or groom!), to be indecisive if you’re not given a cap on the number of proofs. It’s in our nature to constantly want to change things if we’re given the opportunity. Secondly, your stationer puts in a lot of time creating proofs, so at a certain point they will likely begin charging for proofs. Make sure you fully understand how many proofs are included, and be aware when you start reaching that limit.

How much can I customize the wording? If I’m unsure of wording, are you able to help me figure out the best route to take?

Your wedding invitations are a very personal part of your celebration. You want to make sure you can customize it to say exactly what you want to say. If you’re having a very informal celebration, you don’t want to have extremely formal text on the invitation! On the other hand, if you’re not exactly sure of the best way to word your invitations for your style of event, you want to make sure your stationer has the knowledge to guide you through the process.

How long does the process take?

You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time to review your proofs (preferably with other family members, too!), have your stationer print and, if needed, assemble your order, and address and stamp each invitation. The process may depend on the style of invitation you’re interested in, so be sure to share that information with your stationer, too.

Once I’ve placed my order, will I be able to see a proof before the invitations are printed?

You may even want to be more specific, depending on your timeline, and ask for a hard-copy proof so you can see exactly how your invitation looks in person. This ensures that there are no surprises when your final order is printed and ready to be mailed out.

Do you assemble my order, or will I need to set aside time to assemble it myself?

If your invitation suite requires some assembly (envelope liners, ribbons, belly bands, and pocketfolds are just some examples), it’s important to know whether your designer will assemble it or if you need to schedule time to assemble them yourself. This will also affect the time frame of your order if you have to do this portion on your own.

Can you mail the invitations for me?

This is a great question if you’re really busy – whether with work, school, or wedding planning! You’ll want to know what is involved in the mailing process if they offer this service (what postage they will use, what fee is charged, how envelopes will be addressed, and what date the invitations will be mailed).

What happens if there’s a mistake in my order?

Whether it’s a mistake made by you or the stationer, you’ll want to know how those are handled for ease of mind just in case something goes awry.

These questions will certainly make you feel at ease with what your wedding stationery designer offers, but you can always ask more specific questions! The more comfortable you are with your stationer, the more enjoyable the process will be.

What other questions would you have for your stationery designer? Leave them in the comments, I’ll be glad to help answer them!

10 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Stationer

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100 Days of Happy Marriage

May 5, 2015

 

100 Days of Happy Marriage

So, I feel like I need to give you a little backstory on how this idea came to fruition. I was chatting with a sweet client of mine, Sarah…(Actually, I think we were probably drinking a glass of wine and talking about food, but…details). We were joking about how all it would take to have a happy marriage is a cookie from Sweet Bella Bakery every day. (It’s true. Her cookies not only look amazing, but taste amazing, too!). Of course we thought it was hilarious and only partially true.

But then it made me start thinking. If all it takes is a cookie to make me (and sweet Ms. Sarah) happy, than happy marriages really are sometimes just comprised of the small gestures we often overlook, right?

For example, nothing makes me happier than when my husband makes the bed, or surprises me with a nice bottle of wine, or folds the laundry, or tells me he thinks I look beautiful. Those are such simple gestures that really go a long way. They are also gestures I (and probably you) sometimes take for granted.

Whether your in a committed relationship, engaged, or have been married for 50 years, let’s start the movement of #100daysofhappymarriage. Each day, for 100 days (or as often as you can!), on social media (you can find mine on Instagram and Facebook) post a photo or write a sweet, simple moment or gesture your spouse did for you that day and watch those tiny gestures build up in big ways. And once the first 100 days are over, do it again and again! The second-best part (the first being having a happy marriage and recognizing all those tiny gestures, obviously) is that you can get ideas for small, simple gestures your spouse or significant other will appreciate, just by searching the tag #100daysofhappymarriage on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

Need more ideas for ways to love on your spouse? This should get your creative lovey dovey juices flowing!

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Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

May 4, 2015

Not only is this romantic nautical wedding absolutely swoon-worthy, but this couple is just the sweetest, y’all! The only thing that makes me happier than working with kind souls is becoming friends with them in the process, and I’m so happy to now call Sarah a friend. Sarah also “introduced” me to one of my favorite people in the world, Alex of Magnolia Letter Arts (that’s a story for another day!), so I feel like I owe Sarah a puppy or something.

So, get yourself situated and settle in to read Sarah and Andrew’s sweet love story and get inspired by their romantic nautical dream wedding!

 

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

The Basics

Wedding Date: July 13, 2014

Wedding Location: Saybrook Point Inn & Spa

All the Fun Details

How did you and your significant other meet?

We were introduced by our mutual friend, Kara. I was out at a bar with Kara one night when we ran into Andrew and his friend, Sean. Kara had been friends with Andrew in college so she introduced us. He got my number and called me the next day for a date! Kara ended up being the maid of honor at our wedding and Sean was Andrew’s best man.

How did your proposal happen?

My parents throw a New Year’s Eve party every year. All my friends, my brother’s friends, and our family are always there. Immediately after the ball dropped ringing in 2013, Andrew proposed in front of all my friends and family. It was perfect to be able to celebrate with all of them around.

What tradition(s) were important for you to include in your wedding ceremony? Why?

We had a very simple ceremony. It was more important to us for the ceremony to be about the vows we wrote for each other and not anything else. Also, it was July and outside so we didn’t want to be standing in the heat for too long!

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

What was the inspiration for your wedding style?

Our venue. The Inn itself is beautiful, airy, romantic and nautical. With the marina they have on site, it was the perfect setting for us.

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

 

What were the top 3 most important aspects of your wedding?

  1. Doing a first look.
  2. Having it at a venue that took care of everything for us so we had no worries on our wedding day.
  3. Having a fun wedding!

What was your color palette?

Mint, bellini, dove gray, blush and accents of navy and gold.

What was your favorite part of the planning process?

Working with Amanda on all the fun print products and incorporating lots of fun details into the whole wedding!

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

What is the best memory you have from your wedding day?

Oh my gosh, there are so many, but if I had to pick one it would be walking down the aisle with my dad. We walked in to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles, it was one of the most special moments I’ve ever had with my dad. (Even though he walked entirely too fast!)

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

 

What was your favorite piece of advice you received about marriage?

To never stop dating your spouse! (Someone really smart gave that to me…it’s definitely my favorite!)
(Aww, thanks, Sarah! I’m blushing!)

Romantic Nautical Wedding Inspiration

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Sarah and Andrew!

 Photography: Catherine’s Photography

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4 Ways My Marriage Has Changed in 4 Years

April 30, 2015

4 Ways My Marriage Has Changed in 4 Years

Today my husband and I celebrate our 4 year anniversary. It’s crazy how it seems like the time flies by in just a blink of an eye. I still remember our wedding day like it was yesterday! I thought and thought about how I wanted to honor or wedding and, even more, our marriage. I debated posting about the lessons I’ve learned in our marriage. But in 4 years, we’re still learning new things about one another and our marriage every single day. I don’t think that will ever end – I hope we’re always growing and learning together.

Then I thought about how much our marriage has changed over the years. When I was planning our wedding and how we would celebrate our love together, I was so focused on planning that one special day. But that was just the beginning of our life together. It was just the beginning of many special days together. Now that I realize that, I clearly see all the ways our marriage has changed in the past 4 years.

  1. We respect ourselves more. Before marriage, it was easy for me to get caught up in going out with friends – dinner, drinks, the works. It was also easy for me to get home late, sleep for maybe 5 hours, and then get up and head to a full day of work. I didn’t think about the food I put in my body and was not nearly as active as I should have been. Similarly, my husband didn’t do much cooking for himself, either. Since tying the knot, my husband and I are both much more health-conscious. We cook regularly (with plenty of whole, fresh foods) and stay active. A lot of times we do both of these things together. We really want to be healthier – not just for ourselves, but for each other, too. It’s also fun to share those moments when we’re cooking or hiking together. I have no doubt that I’m a much healthier person than I was before marriage.
  2. We are more well-rounded. I admit, during the dating period, I probably neglected some of my favorite hobbies, just so my husband and I could spend more time together. Since marrying my soulmate, I’ve not only picked up my old hobbies, but I’ve also found new hobbies to dabble in. Some of them we enjoy doing together – like antique shopping, gardening, and traveling or exploring – others I have gotten interested in solo (like floral arranging). We are also both thirsty to learn…and to learn together! We occasionally have our own little private book club. We choose and read a book, just like any other larger book club, and schedule a date night to discuss the book and our thoughts on it. It’s a fun twist on date night, while still allowing us the opportunity to learn and grow together.
  3. We share more of our hidden thoughts. Of course we shared our thoughts before we got married, but since marriage, we share those deep thoughts you sometimes don’t want to tell a single soul. My husband is my best friend, so I know if I tell him something completely random, he won’t judge me. It took a while for me to learn that, but it’s such a freeing feeling to know I can tell him absolutely anything and he’ll empathize with me, laugh with me, or console me. But he’ll never judge me. And I’ll never judge him in return.
  4. We understand how we each share and handle emotions. I think this is something we knew all along, but after 4 years of marriage, we’re much more aware of how to handle the moods and emotions of one another. When I’m upset or under a lot of stress, I bottle it up and try to internalize it until it goes away (haha that’s funny because that never happens, right?). My husband knows this about me, and is now able to pick up on other clues that show I’m under stress. He doesn’t force me to talk about it, but shows me he cares through his actions and verbalizes that he’s ready to listen when I’m ready to let it out. On the other hand, my husband is much more verbose when he is under pressure or has something going on. When he begins letting it all out, I know to make time for him, and just listen, because that’s what he needs. We also know how we like to celebrate when we get good news, how to console when dealing with a tragedy, and how to communicate when we’re upset. Responding to these emotions, whether verbally or through actions, is something that becomes more and more magnified as the days, weeks, and years pass and we learn more about one another.

I couldn’t imagine going on this journey through life with anyone else, and I’m so grateful for the changes in our marriage. The day we got married, I never imagined I could learn more, love more, or be more – but I’m learning every single day that those things will never stop progressing.

Happy 4-year anniversary, babe!

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Love After 42 Years: His Point of View

April 29, 2015

Love After 42 Years: His Point of View

Last week, I shared with you my mom’s wisdom and advice on marriage and love after 42 years together. Today I’m excited to share with you my dad’s story, and take a trip down memory lane through their marriage! I’m so lucky to have parents who are amazing role models for my own marriage, and hope these insights resonate with you as you begin to plan your happily-ever-after together!

————–

I met my wife, Rhonda, in elementary school at the sweet age of 6, but she first caught my eye in 1966 when we were in 6th grade. At the time, I lived only 3 miles from her, and I thought of her often. She had a very well-known family, so I was too shy to approach her. I never got up the courage to say “hi” at all throughout middle school.

In high school, I joined the football team, where I met and became good friends with Rhonda’s brother. Her brother and I began hanging out almost every day after school, and eventually Rhonda began joining us. Before you know it, I was asking her out…without her brother. By the end of our senior year in 1973, Rhonda and I were seeing each other every night. That June, we were engaged and we married on December 29, 1973 at the age of 18. We were young, and it wasn’t a long engagement, but at the time I felt like I had known her and loved her my whole life.

She is not just my wife, she’s my best friend and my partner in life.

In 1976, while both working full-time, Rhonda and I built our first home together and had our first beautiful daughter. Once our house was completed, we decided to both go back to college at night as we both continued to work full-time during the day. Life was busy for us, and the years began to fly by in the blink of an eye.

In 1982, we both decided I would quit work so I could finish school and get my degree as soon as possible. Later that year — the very last day of 1982 — we had our second beautiful daughter. For the next 2 years, my sweet wife had a full time job and took care of both of our little ones so I could concentrate on my studies and get my degree. Hard work but she never complained – that’s real love!

1984 was a big change for us. I graduated from college and was immediately offered a position in Richmond, Virginia. How in the world was a young couple – who both grew up in a tiny rural Southern town – supposed to relocate to a “big city” like Richmond? With a toddler and a 6-year old in tow! I thought I had really accomplished something by finishing college and getting a great job in a “big city” but I knew leaving our families would be hard for Rhonda. My sweet wife amazed me by saying ‘yes I’ll go’, and she continued to amaze me throughout the relocation process, too – making me love her more. She got a great job right away, and began moving up the corporate ladder quickly. All while finishing college at night and making time for all the activities little girls get involved in. I don’t know where she got all that energy!

Fast forward to today. This December we will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary. The girls are both married and have families of their own now. We have both worked since we were 16 and are now retired from the corporate world. We still stay busy with the hobbies and tasks that inspire us. My wife has found her passion for helping others since retiring. She’s always been interested in helping those in need, but her passion has really flourished since retirement. Rhonda has been there for others in their last moments of life and continuously helps raise funds for those in need. She is also always there when needed for our grandchildren. I don’t even try to keep up with her on most days! These things make me love her more every day.

Even after all these years, I can’t imagine spending my time with anyone else. We simply enjoy being together and never get tired of spending time together. She will always be my sweetheart, my best friend, and my “business partner.” I love her as much now – and more – than I did the first time I kissed her.

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Wedding Guest Etiquette: How to Be a Great Wedding Guest

April 28, 2015

Guest EtiquetteThere’s a lot of pressure on brides and grooms-to-be (and their families!) to host a fun wedding celebration while still maintaining proper wedding etiquette. But what about guests? It’s just as important for guests to follow a few unspoken wedding guest etiquette rules, too, to ensure everyone – the couple, hosts, and guests – has a fun, memorable experience!

Here are 5 ways to be a stellar wedding guest:

Respond honestly (and timely).

The bride and groom-to-be request a response by a very specific date for a reason. Often times it’s because the caterer and/or venue needs a headcount, so it’s important to make sure you respond by the date requested. It’s also important to check your schedule carefully before responding to make sure you are, in fact, available to attend if you say you will. The hosts have hand-picked you to be at their event and have put a lot of time, attention, and expense into having each guest present, so if you cannot attend and don’t let the host know, they could end up spending upwards of $100-200 unnecessarily.

Are you given a +1 to invite?

It’s really important to be aware of whether or not the bride and groom have given you a +1 to invite. The best way to know if you are or aren’t able to bring a guest of your own is to check the outer envelope of your invitation. If the invitation is addressed to only you, the couple is inviting you and only you – not another guest. If the invitation is addressed to you “and Guest”, than you are welcome to invite someone to come to the event with you. It’s very important that you’re aware of this, because it puts the couple of honor in an awkward situation if you respond saying you are bringing a guest and they haven’t allotted space for you to bring someone else! Note: see “Respond honestly” above – this applies to your guest as well!

Be aware of the time.

This applies to several different aspects of the event. You certainly want to be well aware of this for the ceremony – the last thing you want to do is come into the ceremony once it’s already started! It’s always better to be much earlier than to arrive late. It’s also important to be aware of the time as the event winds down. Most times, the hosts have reserved the space for a very specific amount of time and are likely to get charged if guests aren’t gone by the end of the timeframe. Be aware of the timing as the event winds down and you and your friends can continue the celebration elsewhere.

Don’t  inundate the bride and groom with last minute questions.

The last thing the bride or groom-to-be has time to do is answer questions that they likely already provided you the information for. If your question is about time or location of the event, check your invitation before asking someone close to the family. If you can’t find the answer to your question, try to get the answer from another gust who may be a friend of yours before asking anyone close to the family. As a last resort, ask a family member of the bride or groom, but do not ask the bride or groom if at all possible! They will be really busy, you know, getting ready to get hitched!

What other tips do you have for proper guest etiquette?

 

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Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

April 27, 2015

This Montauk destination wedding is one for the books, y’all. I had the best time creating Emily and Sean’s fun, personalized stationery, and absolutely adore how all the details throughout their celebration represent them as a couple. I truly love how they stayed true to themselves throughout their decor – and the final outcome is nothing short of spectacular! Be sure to keep your eye out throughout these gorgeous photos for their sweet little French bulldog, Matilda.

You’ll want to grab a cup of coffee for this one.

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

The Basics

Wedding Date: September 20, 2014

Wedding Location: Montauk, New York

All the Fun Details

How did you and your significant other meet?

Sean and I met in high school. We were introduced by mutual friends. Amy (one of our mutual friends) actually read the first reading during our ceremony.

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

How did your proposal happen?

Sean proposed during a weekend trip out to Montauk. After a lunch at the Sloppy Tuna and a long walk on the beach, he popped the question at Kirk Park Beach with a stunning rose gold sparkler.

What tradition(s) were important for you to include in your wedding ceremony? Why?

Music is a huge park of our life and we wanted to have a soundtrack that would always bring our wedding day to life. For the bridal procession we chose 40 Day Dream by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. I walked down the aisle to Sweet Thing by Van Morrison. The ceremony concluded with Naïve Melody by the Talking Heads. We also wanted to personalize our ceremony, which meant including some literal elements that spoke of our relationship. We included readings from Just Kids by Patti Smith and Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce. It was also super important that someone we admired and loved officiated the ceremony. We chose our cousin, Ray, who is downright amazing in every way. Matilda, our French bulldog, also made an appearance which was super special.

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Did you include any family heirlooms or heritage in your wedding celebration?

We are both Irish and proud! We included a Celtic hand tying into our ceremony. Our siblings joined us which made it even more special.

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

 

What was the inspiration for your wedding day style?

Both Sean and I wanted to feel super comfortable on our wedding day. We wanted the vibe to be as comfortable as if we were hanging out in our own backyard. That laid-back, Montauk vibe translated through our entire wedding weekend.

What were the top 3 most important aspects of your wedding?

  1. We wanted our wedding to be telling of our love for each other.
  2. We wanted our friends and family to be comfortable and fall in love with Montauk just as we did.
  3. We always want to look back on our wedding day with fond memories and everlasting joy and love.

What was your color palette?

We really didn’t have a color palette. Our flowers had a mix of white, pinks, raspberry, purples, greens, and blues. We were very inspired by texture. You will see a lot of burlap, seersucker, gold glitter , blue watercolor, and lace throughout our wedding.

What was your favorite part of the planning process?

We really loved planning our wedding and I’m still withdrawing from not planning. Both Sean and I had the same ideas on the type of wedding we wanted, which made the planning all the more enjoyable.

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

 

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

 

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

What is the best memory you have from your wedding day?

Honestly, to quote Biggie, “It was all a dream!”

But, if I had to choose two moments it would be when my cousin gleefully pronounced us husband and wife and dancing to “Shout” at the end of the night! Both moments were captured on video and I watch them constantly.

What was your favorite piece of advice you received about marriage?

My Nana, who passed away in 2012, told both of us that you have to bend like a tree for a marriage to work.

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Montauk Destination Wedding Inspiration

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Emily and Sean!

 Photography: Levi Stolove

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Tips for Managing an Endless Inbox

April 23, 2015

Tips for Managing an Endless Inbox

Ahh, the endless inbox. We all have them, don’t we? Whether you’re a wedding professional who is constantly receiving inquiries, spam, and opportunities for advertising or publication; or a bride who is receiving multiple messages, follow-ups, and questions from vendors about your big day, we all have out-of-control inboxes to tame.

Sometimes an overflowing inbox can seem incredibly daunting. You begin to wonder if you’ll ever be able to respond to all your messages or have a clean, organized inbox.

I’m here to tell you it is possible! You can stay on top of your ever-growing inbox – whether your a small business owner or a bride!

Here are my go-to tips for keeping my inbox clean, organized, and much less overwhelming:

  1. Schedule several times throughout the day to check-in with your inbox. I’ve talked to several small business owners who insist on only checking email first thing in the morning and again at the end of the day – that’s it. Personally, I would have an anxiety attack if I only checked my email twice a day. In the back of my mind, I would know my inbox was filling up and I wouldn’t have time to respond to all my messages at the end of the day – and ending the day with important, unanswered messages would really disrupt my sleep at night. So instead, I check in several times throughout the day. This is what a typical check-in schedule looks like for me:
    1. First thing in the morning – This is when I respond to urgent messages or messages that take very little thought to respond to (such as a quick yes or no answer). Usually, I’m only about half a cup of coffee in at this point, so trying to respond to anything else could end in disaster!
    2. Mid-morning – Ahh, now I’ve had a full cup of coffee (who am I kidding? I’ve had at least two) and can respond properly to important messages that require a little more thought than the early morning emails, but weren’t quite as urgent. This ensures those important messages get a proper response in less than 24 hours, but I give myself some time to process what needs to be addressed.
    3. Lunchtime – I generally check-in with my inbox around lunchtime to see what new messages have arrived, and begin to chip away at emails that arrived in the morning, but weren’t time-sensitive. By lunchtime, I’m in my groove, so I don’t need quite as much brain power as I did first thing in the morning. This is also a great time to respond to emails that came in throughout the morning, but only need a quick response. It’s also a great time for me to touch-base and follow-up with current and potential clients.
    4. Mid-afternoon – This check-in schedule is a hybrid of the mid-morning and lunchtime schedule. I do a basic check-in to see what’s come in, follow-up with clients who may have responded to proofs, and take care of administrative items for the day so I don’t have to worry about using too much of my brain at the very end of the day when I’m hungry and tired.
    5. End of day – This is the last check-in I’ll do for the day. This is generally my time to “close out” the business day. I’ll respond to any straggling messages that were sent throughout the day and follow-up with current and potential clients as needed. This is the time I really try to make sure I’ve responded to all important and time-sensitive messages.
  2. Keep organized folders, filters, and labels for your messages. Whether you use Gmail, a mail app (such as Airmail or Postbox), or your web server, take some time to set up organized folders for your messages. It will take a bit f time to set up initially, but will be worth it in the long run. If you use Gmail, I highly recommend setting up labels. If you’re a small business owner, you could set up labels based on client project or vendor type. If you’re a bride, you could set up labels for each vendor. When you use labels in Gmail, each message that comes in with a specific subject or from a specific email address will be color-coded so you know exactly who it’s from and/or what the subject is without even having to read it. This helps you decide automatically if the email needs a response right away or if it can wait a few hours. Similarly, if you’re using a mail app, you can set up folders and filters so the emails go directly into their designated area.
  3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. If you have a busy week, or just have an influx of messages coming in, make sure to prioritize them. Urgent and time-sensitive messages should be taken care of immediately. Once you’ve responded to those, prioritize messages based on importance. Obviously, all of them are important, but some of them may have a larger window of time to respond to, while others may not. You’ll know which ones need to be responded to before others. If you’re not able to get to some of the messages with a larger timeframe in a given day, put it on your morning list of responses for the following day.
  4. Focus on one email account or subject at a time. I have three email accounts – a personal, professional, and blog email. Sometimes, if I’m really in a pinch, I will view all accounts at once so I can quickly sift through and see what needs a response. Most of the time, though, it’s better for me to focus on one of them at a time. Personal emails obviously don’t get seen as much because they likely aren’t quite as important (and anyone who has my personal email also has my professional email, too). Even if you only have one email address, try to focus on one specific subject at a given time. For instance, if you’re a wedding vendor sending an email to a specific client, go ahead and respond to all emails regarding that specific client since you’re brain is already focused on that event. Skipping around could end up costing you time because your brain has to adjust to focusing on a new project or thought process over and over.
  5. Set aside a time when you know you aren’t typically busy to draft email responses. I’m going to let you in on one of my email and workday-scheduling secrets. I specifically end my week early on Fridays because I know I’m going to spend a couple of hours on Sunday evenings drafting responses to emails. You’re probably wondering why in the world I would do this. Well, for several reasons. First, if an email comes in Friday afternoon, they likely aren’t expecting a response until Monday, anyway. Second, I am much more focused on Sunday evenings than I am on late Friday afternoons. On Friday afternoon, my mind is wandering off to what I’ll be doing over the weekend, not focusing on drafting a well-thought-out response. On Sunday evenings, my brain has adjusted to focusing on the week ahead and what needs to get done, so it’s a much better time for me to schedule responses to emails to go out on Monday morning. (BONUS: This is also the time I create a rough schedule of what my week will look like).
  6. Keep to-do tasks marked as “unread.” This one is a matter of personal preference. It drives my husband crazy when he sees a constant inbox with unread messages. For me, though, it serves as a to-do list. Messages that have not been filed or marked as read yet remind me that I owe that person a response or proof.
  7. Maintain a file of templates to use for general inquiries and emails. I put off doing this for a long, long time, but it really has helped with time management! The main reason I put off creating templates to use for emails was because I was worried my responses would look canned and uninviting. The last thing I want to do is draft a response that puts someone to sleep and makes them feel unimportant! After careful editing and consideration, I was able to draft a few responses that are warm, friendly, and still require a little work on my end to ensure the recipient feels important (because they are!). Each template has the basic information, with areas for me to plug in information such as names, dates, and ideas. Some great response templates to create include:
    • Responding to a potential client
    • Sending estimates and invoices
    • Following up with a potential client
    • Next steps in the design and proofing process

There you have it! Whew, that seems like a lot of information, but I promise once you develop a system, it becomes like second nature! I recommend taking some time to set up templates, labels/folders, and a go-to check-in schedule. In the long run, it will save you so much more time!

What tips do you have for managing your inbox?

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Love After 42 Years

April 22, 2015

Love After 42 Years

I’m so excited to share today’s post with y’all! Today’s post comes from my wonderful mom, sharing wisdom and marriage advice after being married for 42 years. She and my dad married at the young age of 18 (right out of high school!), so she has so many great ideas to share with you! Enjoy! 

ADR_Divider1

It’s hard to believe that my husband and I will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary in December. It seems like such a short time ago we were planning our wedding and dreaming of all the things we would do together. Our love has carried through countless situations – some happy, and some sad. But most importantly, we’ve weathered the good times and the bad together.

I look in the mirror and am sometimes surprised at my reflection. Years have passed and I have changed. But in my heart and mind, I am still that crazy-in-love-18-year-old-girl who married the ‘man of my dreams’!

After almost 42 years, I’ve learned a few things about love and relationships. Some of these things are not new for many couples, but they are certainly worth repeating.

Love

Love is so beautiful. The passion and love you feel with a first kiss is indescribable. But intimacy comes in so many unexpected ways as your love grows – the profound love you experience with the brush of your spouse’s hand, a quick kiss on the cheek that causes a tingle, or just a familiar loving glance. Over the years, our love has grown. The roots are deep and solid and we have a comfort in knowing that we love each other unconditionally. But being ‘comfortable’ does not mean we take each other for granted. The love we experience today is so much richer, deeper, and wider than it was years ago. It reaches into the depths of our souls and we are truly ‘one’. Being able to experience love on so many levels is truly a gift that has kept us together and always will. And when you love someone so intensely who loves you back the same way – it’s truly a gift!

Faith

My husband and I were both raised in Christian homes. At the young age of 18, we were totally in love and we didn’t give a lot of thought to our faith, or even talk about how it would impact our future. But over the years, our spiritual growth has led us to unfathomable heights of joy and happiness. Bible study that was once a private time for each of us, has become a time of sharing and discussing our beliefs together. It has strengthened our faith and our marriage. It has allowed us to glimpse inside each others soul in a way that nothing else can do. Sharing our faith and beliefs openly has helped us weather storms in life, and see more joy and happiness than we ever thought possible.

Parenthood

Nothing compares to being parents. Three years after we were married, our first daughter was born and soon we welcomed a second sweet baby girl. Being parents is the most exciting, fulfilling, rewarding experience you can imagine. Oh, sure there are some difficult times. And we were there together to handle those too. We love being parents and now grandparents. We adore our daughters and their children. Raising our children together brought us closer than we ever were before. Seeing my husband as a loving father made me love him even more. And when our nest became empty, we created a new life and kept moving ahead together. If not for our love and the fact that we like being together, it would have been much more difficult to find ourselves empty-nesters. Of course, being BFF’s (‘best friends forever’) is also a bonus.

Laughter

No one makes me laugh like my husband. He knows exactly how to do it. A phrase, a word, a memory, a face, or a funny story has tears streaming down my face. At night when we get in bed, he’ll often come up with the most ridiculously funny story and we laugh for what seems like eternity. We often laugh and others aren’t quite sure why – but it’s those little things you know about each other after 42 years that make the simplest comments become hilarious. And yes, he makes me laugh at the most inopportune times!

Gratitude

My husband and I share feelings of gratitude for so much. We are so grateful for two beautiful daughters who are gifts from heaven. We are grateful for the families they have established, and we are grateful for the career opportunities, personal relationships, and wonderful life we live. We are grateful for the faith we share, the dreams we share, and the happiness we experience daily. We often share our thoughts on gratitude and remind each other how blessed we are. It sounds like a simple thing, but it is so powerful in our lives. Hearing your spouse verbalize all the things he is grateful for is a reminder of how two lives intertwined are such a gift. And expressing gratitude is one more way to express love.

Forgiveness

You can imagine that 42 years have not passed without a single disagreement (or two)! But what’s so special about being married to someone you truly love is that you are able to forgive and even forget. Whether I’m the one asking forgiveness, or the one forgiving him for something he’s done or said, it’s all about being open, honest, and forgiving. Even after 42 years together, it’s still important to say “I’m sorry” when I do something to upset him and he does the same. We take nothing for granted and are always willing to forgive – or ask forgiveness. While most people obsess over things other people do to hurt them in life, it’s different with the person you love the most. Forgiveness is a gift we give each other – AND ourselves.

Kindness

You would think that after 42 years, acts of kindness would be few. But in our lives, it’s quite the opposite. My husband is the kindest person I know. He still opens my car door, carries the grocery bags, or holds my hand to steady me walking in the snow. He awakens me each morning with a cup of coffee by my bedside, helps with all household chores, unexpectedly fills my car with gas, and considers me before making any plans of his own. When he traveled with his job, I wrote notes and tucked them in his suit pockets and briefcase where he would find them. I prefer a heavier blanket on the bed than he does, so I make our bed with a light cover and spread an extra blanket only on my side each night. It’s these little acts of kindness that continuously bind us together and make our love stronger.

Giving

There are no words to describe the depths of my husband’s heart when it comes to giving. He wants to help so many people. His generosity and caring for other people are one of the things that make me love him more every day. As we have gotten older, giving has become a tremendous part of our lives together. Our experience of giving to others has strengthened our marriage and made us happier than we would be otherwise. It’s through giving that we get so much! Giving comes in the form of money, acts of kindness, help with a problem, and even a word of encouragement. It’s a natural extension of who we are as individuals and as a couple.

 

Yes, 42 years sounds like a long time to newlyweds, but it seems like the blink of an eye to us. Every day together still gets better and better. And to all of those who said “it wouldn’t last” when we married at the young age of 18, keep watching! The best is yet to come.

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3 Sticky Guest List Situations (and How to Handle Them!)

April 21, 2015

3 Sticky Guest List Situations

One of the biggest concerns I see my clients run into when planning their wedding celebration is problems with their guest list. You’re planning one of the most special days of your life, the last thing you want to worry about is offending one of your guests, right?

Here are a few of the most common sticky guest list situations and how to handle them with grace and kindness:

  1. You’ve exceeded your guest list, and now need to downsize. Start off by beginning a final, master guest list with the guests you know will be invited. This includes bridal party attendants and close family. Add very close friends who you see often, until you get to your max guest list count. As a rule of thumb, it’s perfectly acceptable to cut guests from the list who you haven’t seen in a couple of years (like that college roommate you were really, really close with in college, but haven’t seen since then). If you’re worried about friends getting offended they didn’t make the cut, you may approach them prior to sending out invitations to let them know you and your fiancé have decided to have a smaller celebration than originally anticipated and you hope they’ll understand. As an alternative, you may choose to have a small, inexpensive barbecue after the wedding day festivities to celebrate with your friends in order to reserve your wedding day ceremony and reception for close family and friends.
  2. A friend asks to bring her new boyfriend and you weren’t planning on inviting him. In this case, it’s best to be open and honest with your friendInform her that due to venue and budget limitations, you and your fiancé have decided not to allow guests to bring a plus one. Keeping a hard, clear line in your guest list (i.e guests are only allowed a plus one if they are married or living together) will make this situation easier to explain to friends who may ask about bringing their new fling.
  3. A friend asks to bring her toddler, but you really don’t want children under the age of 10 at your celebration. Just like #1 above, be open and honest with your friend. Tell her you and your fiancé have decided not to allow children under the age of 10 at the reception so that all guests can enjoy the celebration together. Remind her how excited you are for her to come and you hope she’ll be able to find a babysitter so she can attend the festivities.

Bottom line: stick to your guns when it comes to your guest list – this is your celebration, and it’s most important for you to spend it with those who mean most to you, while not exceeding your budget or upsetting your venue.

Keeping clear, hard lines in your guest list helps manage your list, too, while giving you easy, honest explanations for those who may get offended by your choices. For instance, if you don’t want any guests to bring children or plus ones, don’t allow any exceptions, so as not to offend other invitees.

Lastly, as a preventative measure, be sure to word your response card and invitation clearly for your guests. Traditionally, guests who are invited will be clearly listed on the invitation envelope. Additionally, you may choose to include a line on your response card that reads, “We have reserved ___ seats in your honor” to make it as clear as possible who and how many guests are invited without having to engage in an awkward conversation that may potentially offend your guests.

For more invitation and response card wording options, head over to the Mega Guide to Invitation Wording.

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Rustic Chic Winery Wedding Inspiration

April 20, 2015

Oh, y’all. There is so much lovely and heart in this wedding celebration today! When Kari sent me photos of her wedding day, I literally could not stop smiling at all the sweet moments that were captured behind the lens. And on top of that, they didn’t leave a single detail out of this gorgeous day! So get ready to swoon and be inspired through Kari and Chandler’s sweet love story and heartfelt rustic chic winery wedding celebration!

Rustic Chic Winery Wedding Inspiration

 

The Basics

Wedding Date: November 16, 2014

Wedding Location: Longshadow Ranch Winery • Temecula, California

All the Fun Details

How did you and your significant other meet?

We met at a restaurant, actually. He was there with some co-workers and I was there with some friends watching football.

How did your proposal happen?

When we were in the process of buying our second home I would say, “The only thing that is missing inside is a ring!” The day we got the keys to our new home my fiancé asked my best friend, and later maid-of-honor, to tell me she wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate and take pictures of us in the home with our new keys. So that evening we arrived at the house and started taking pictures. In the front of our house we have these beautiful French doors that open up to our front porch. My fiancé said he really wanted to take a photo with those open. So we did. When I thought we were done taking pictures, I was mistaken. As I started to walk back into the home, he grabbed me back and said he had something for me as he reached in his pocket.

In “Kari” fashion I told him don’t mess with me, since I thought he was kidding. But then he got down on his knee and he really did have something for me. My ring! I had so many emotions running through me that I couldn’t even say yes right away! I just started bawling my eyes out. I’m a very hard person to surprise and I’m very lucky to have a husband and best friend to make my dreams come true.

What tradition(s) were important for you to include in your wedding ceremony? Why?

I wouldn’t necessarily say we had any traditions during our ceremony besides the fact that we did not see each other until I walked down the aisle.

I also had my great-great-grandfather, my papa, walk me halfway down the aisle and then my dad the rest of the way. And instead of doing a sand ceremony or candle lighting we did a first fight box. We wrote our own vows so we wanted to put them into the box along with our favorite bottle of wine and nail the box shut. When we get into out first major fight as a married couple we want to open the box and be able to remember why we got married in the first place.

Rustic Chic Winery Inspiration

kari4

Rustic Chic Winery Inspiration

Rustic Chic Winery Inspiration

Rustic Chic Winery Inspiration

Rustic Chic Winery Inspiration

Rustic Chic Winery Inspiration

Rustic Chic Winery Inspiration

Rustic Chic Winery Inspiration

Did you include any family heirlooms or heritage in your wedding celebration?

We did do a longest married dance. All the couples that were married at our wedding got up and danced and slowly got booted off as they announced certain number of years of marriage. The couple with the longest marriage won and had to give us, the newlyweds, marriage advice.

Rustic Chic Winery Inspiration

What was the inspiration for your wedding style?

I really wanted to capture our personal style. We both love rustic, vintage and antique designs. You could say our home is eclectic but chic.

What were the top 3 most important aspects of your wedding?

I would have to say the décor, the music and all of our various stations. We wanted our guests to feel like it was a family party while still being classy.

What was your color palette?

Love me some neutrals! We had whites, creams, beiges, tans and champagne colors with subtle hints of blushes and gold.

Rustic Winery Wedding Inspiration

Rustic Winery Wedding Inspiration

 What was your favorite part of the planning process?

My favorite part was seeing it all come together. I bought and did most of the wedding décor myself. There were a lot of times that I doubted my planning skills and worried things would not flow. But when they did, I was so proud and happy that we were going to have our dream wedding that was totally us.

What is the best memory you have from your wedding day?

The best memory is when we got to finally see each other. As soon as I started down the aisle, we did not take our eyes off of one another. Even with tears in our eyes, that moment was amazing!

Rustic Winery Wedding Inspiration

What was your favorite piece of advice you received about marriage?

Never go to bed angry. And I completely agree. It seems so minor compared to other things, but we have found that this is very important.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I would say that when the planning is all done and the wedding day is happening, don’t sweat the small stuff. At the end of the day the wedding will be beautiful and it’s the start to a new life. Embrace it!

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Kari and Chandler!

Rustic Winery Wedding Inspiration

 Photography: Kirstin Burrows Photography

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Anatomy of a Wedding Invitation

April 16, 2015

So you know those days where a lightbulb goes off? And you realize you have this brilliant idea that’s been stuck in the far corner of your brain, behind a lot of clutter and to-do lists and everyday tasks for a really long time? And when that brilliant idea finally comes to fruition, you feel sort of silly for not pulling it out sooner? Yeah. This is one of those for me.

Because I’m immersed in the wedding industry and piles of pretty paper and envelopes and invitation loveliness day in and day out, I sometimes forget that not everyone knows the ins and outs of wedding stationery. I finally realized it a couple of weeks ago when I was speaking to a client-friend of mine and started listing off products she might be interested in. She stopped me and said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

And why would she?! If you’re not immersed in paper and invitation wording and wedding ideas all day every day, it may all sound like complete gibberish to you when someone asks you if you need to include a map. (“A map? Like…a paper map, not an app?”).

So today, I am sharing with you the basic anatomy of a wedding invitation suite. Depending on the style, formality, and location of your wedding celebration, you may need more or less pieces, so your final suite may look a bit different.

Anatomy of a Wedding Invitation Infographic

Invitation.  This is the most obvious portion of your invitation suite. This card gives your guests all the vital information about your celebration – names, date, location, and time. If you’ve included all those bits of information, you’ve already won the day…just be sure to include an envelope, too.

Response card. With modern-day weddings, these are still included more often than not, but there are occasions where they may not be needed. Traditionally, though, you’ll want to include a response card with an addressed, stamped envelope (or a stamped postcard). Your response card should list a date you need your response cards returned to you – we all know how easy it is to forget things when we aren’t given a hard deadline. Depending on your celebration, you may also ask your guests to choose a meal for the reception.

Enclosure. This may or may not need to be included, and can be used for a variety of information. This card is most often used for directions or accommodations – any pertinent information you think your guests need to know about the event can go here.

Reception card. This may double as your enclosure card. If your reception is in a different location than your ceremony, you’ll want to include the location and time on this separate card.

Bellyband. This is an added item that is used for decorative purposes when you have several cards you’d like to keep all tidy together. It may be a solid color, a pretty pattern, or custom-printed with your names or other fun, decorative text. A ribbon may also be used in place of a bellyband, depending on your preference.

Envelope liner. An envelope liner is another decorative piece that is attached to the inside of your envelope. It’s a great way to add personality to your suite, or to add a layer of thickness to a formal invitation or transparent envelope. These can be used on your invitation and/or your response card envelopes. Personally, I think everyone needs more envelope liners in their life.

Map. If your venue is difficult or confusing to find, sometimes even an app can’t help, so you may want to include a map to direct your guests exactly where they need to be. This is also a great way to personalize your suite – you can get creative and use the map to point out some of your favorite restaurants, bars, and hotels in the area if many of your guests are traveling from out of town.

Website card. A lot of times, this information can be included on your enclosure card if space allows, but if you have a lot of information to tell your guests and it won’t fit there, you may want to include a separate, smaller card that directs them to your website. Your website may have more detailed information that can’t always be included on a single enclosure card.

There you have it! The basic anatomy of an invitation suite…with a few extras thrown in for good measure. Now that you know exactly what pieces you need for your invitation suite, you can decide what wording options work best for your celebration!

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3 Wedding Invitation Etiquette Myths Debunked

April 15, 2015

3 Myths About Wedding Invitation EtiquetteAsk almost any engaged couple out there, and they’ll likely tell you the invitation process seems like a daunting task. What traditions are necessary to follow, if any? Do you need to include certain elements? What in the world sort of printing method are you drawn to? It can prove to be an exhausting process, that’s for sure! So today I am debunking three wedding invitation etiquette myths to help make the process just a bit easier! After all, this should be an exciting, fun time for you!

Myth

You need to include tissue paper in your invitation suites to separate the invitation from the other elements.

Truth

Tissue paper was originally used in wedding invitations so the ink wouldn’t bleed onto the other enclosure cards included in the suite. With modern printers, ink bleeding and smudging is no longer an issue, so tissue paper is not needed.

Myth

An inner and an outer envelope are needed for your invitation suite.

Truth

At one time, an inner envelope was used so that, once removed, the inner envelope remained nice and clean even though the outer envelope may be bent and/or smudged from mailing. This isn’t much of an issue anymore with the modern postal service machines, however, inner and outer envelopes are still occasionally used to specify exactly who is invited. For instance, if you are inviting an entire family, the outer envelope may read “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” while the inner envelope may read “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Elizabeth and Mary”. Alternatively, you may specify exactly who is invited on the outer envelope, completely eliminating the need for an inner envelope altogether. If you are having a very formal or traditional wedding, you may want to include both envelopes for tradition’s sake.

Myth

You should follow traditional guidelines for wording used on your invitations.

Truth

While it is customary to keep your wording formal and/or traditional if you plan on having a more traditional celebration, it is not typically necessary to follow this tradition. Just like every other aspect of your wedding, your invitations should be personalized and representative of you and your significant other. Get creative here! One thing’s for sure, though – just make absolute certain you’ve included the date, time, and where you’ll be tying the knot.

What other burning invitation etiquette questions do you have?
Let me know in the comments!

 

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