Planning for Your Honeymoon

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Since my husband and I did a destination wedding, we stayed behind after the wedding in the same resort and spent a few extra days for our honeymoon. Not only was this totally economical for us, but it allowed us to spend a full week in the place where we got married.

Since we dated for 5 years before this, and I had always dreamed of getting married, I had this perfect vision in my head of what our honeymoon might have been like. While it was absolutely magical, there are a few things I didn’t think about beforehand that might have helped me better prepare.

  • If you do take your honeymoon immediately after your wedding, you will both likely be exhausted! Allow one another to relax as much as you need to and make sure you’re on the same page about the activities you want to do together. We were really excited about doing some adventure sports (like 4-wheeling through the jungle) but we honestly were so tired that put all of our remaining spending money on spa credits at the resort!
  • You will still want to do some things on your own. One morning, my husband went to get a massage and I enjoyed a mimosa with breakfast in bed. I wouldn’t have anticipated that we would have done activities like this separately, but just think about all of the planning and emotion that leads up to a wedding. You will both need a little bit of time to decompress and mentally prepare for the next season of life. After all, you will go from being the center of attention at a ginormous event, to doing dishes!
  • The wedding will be behind you, but you’ll both probably spend a lot of time reminiscing on all of the little details. Like “didn’t you love that toast?” or “did you see XYZ’s dance moves?” Make sure to probe each other with questions, like what your most special part of the day was or what happened that might have surprised you. These will be really special conversations to help bridge you through the rest of your vacation before you jump back into real life.
  • You might have a little tiff or argument! There was probably so much pent-up stress and a lot of emotions that come up because of the wedding. Don’t overthink this and just move through it. Try not to hold onto anything too long because you don’t want to ruin a special time.
  • Make sure you buy something that will remind you of this special place! My husband and I spent a lot more on touristy items than we planned on (and I was a tad bitter about it). But in hindsight, I am SO glad that we did because now I have things like a key chain, coffee mug and flip flops that will always remind me of my honeymoon. It was totally worth it.

Just remember that this will be a moment in your history that you won’t be able to get back and you and your spouse will likely have a special bond with the place where you honeymoon. ENJOY!

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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My Wedding Obsession and Top Tips for Brides

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My husband and I recently celebrated our two year wedding anniversary! It has been such a special time for the both of us and I am so thankful to have him as my life partner. It seems odd to me, sometimes, though, that even after two years I still have such a deep passion for weddings. I started this blog just a few months ago (along with my Instagram channel) as a way to serve as an outlet and side-hobby to showcase my love for weddings.

I have enjoyed this process so much because it’s helped me to continue to tap into this passion and tie it to content that I think (and hope) will help other brides planning their big day. Weddings are such a special time in a woman’s life. And if it’s like mine was, both you and your husband will be able to look back on the big day (and months leading up to it) with fond memories.

Weddings are a happy day. They are a fresh start in a couple’s life together. And it allows you to step into a brand new role as a wife or a husband.

When a woman is newly engaged, I often provide these 5 tips based on everything I learned planning my wedding.

  1. Challenge tradition. Hold tight to the traditions that are important to you as a couple, but don’t do something just because everyone else does it.
  2. Remember to ENJOY the process of planning and being engaged. It will get extremely stressful at times, but it’s important to step back and remind yourself that this season will only happen once.
  3. While most of the planning is focused on the big day, some of your fondest memories might surprise you (ie like a rehearsal dinner or bridal shower.) Make sure to enjoy these prepping activities, too.
  4. Try and find ways to drown out the noise. The second you get engaged, you will get a TON of opinions (welcome or unwelcome.) Make sure you take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt, and take time listening to the people whose opinion you really value. Otherwise, it’s easy to get really confused because of conflicting opinions. And at the end of the day, what do you want?
  5. I’m sorry to say this but I feel like it needs to be said. Don’t be a bridezilla. You will have moments of intense pressure and will need to make a lot of decisions in a short time, but remember that the people around you love you and want you to be happy. More importantly, do not take it out of your groom. You want the planning process to be a special time and to (more importantly) start off your marriage feeling like a team.

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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How to Make Your Destination Wedding Special for Guests

cropped-7-18-2017-5-30-31-pm3.jpgThe best part about a destination wedding is that you will likely have a whole weekend with your guests, instead of for a few hours. With most destination weddings, the guests pay their own airfare and hotel rooms. This means they are truly investing in this experience and going a further distance (both financially and physically) so it’s important that you plan to make it special for them.

Here are a few things that I did to make sure my guests felt special and appreciated.

    • Keep your guests up to date with a few email updates prior to the trip. Some nice to have reminders are for them to know ahead of time: like what’s your wedding attire and how do they get to the hotel from the airport? And you can also include things like the weather forecast and links to the resort website for them to plan their own activities ahead of time if they desire. Please also make sure that it’s super clear to them of when any reservations need to be made with the hotel so they have their rooms booked on time. People will need (and appreciate) reminders!

 

    • We hosted our wedding at an all-inclusive resort. This way, guests had to pay for their resort stay but once they were there, they didn’t incur extra charges. All food and drink was unlimited, and tipping wasn’t even allowed!

 

    • We had welcome bags available for them at the front desk when they checked in. (We did this in lieu of wedding favors.) The bags included the following: a custom suntan lotion bottle with our names and wedding date, a postcard with the location on it, local coffee and tea sachets, a personalized soap bar and bath bomb, and a small bag that held all of the items that could be used as a beach bag.

 

    • We provided an agenda for the weekend ahead of time with times and specific locations. I will admit that this was hard for me to create prior to the weekend since I hadn’t been to the resort yet, but it helped to have some foundational plans set.

 

    • Along with the agenda, we provided a welcome letter in their rooms that shared our gratitude as a couple for each guest to spend this special time with us. We also included random facts about the island we were being married at, and some of our history as a couple. Right off the bat, this made guests feel welcome and more connected to both us as a couple and the place they would be staying.

 

    • We planned a few optional group activities, like snorkeling and buffet meals so we could spend time with our guests. We did choose all free activities that were included in resort fees, but if you choose any that guests will have to pay more for then please make this clear.

 

    • We made sure guests knew that a majority of the events planned were optional, so they could choose what to take part in. Remember, not everyone is going to want to climb up a steep waterfall or go on a catamaran! It’s a fine balance because you want to have enough planned where people aren’t bored and you create some special moments, but you want people to enjoy some time of relaxation. This will likely serve as a vacation for most of your guests as well so don’t feel pressured to fill all of their time.

 

    • If you’re having a bridal party, try to keep the additional costs as low as possible. I had my girls buy their dresses at Kohl’s and I gifted them their accessories. I didn’t “require” that their hair or makeup get professionally done either. I didn’t think it was fair to ask them to take vacation time off work, pay their own way and hotel room, and then pay the traditional fees that most bridal parties do. Although they might be willing, it’s important to be sensitive to this.

 

    • If you can, invite all of your guests to your rehearsal dinner, or something like a welcome dinner the night before the wedding. This will allow for some time of formal introductions and then people won’t feel like strangers during the ceremony and reception. Your guests might actually really hit it off and make some lifelong friendships, too! (This totally happened at our wedding!)

 

The best part about a destination wedding is that all of the guests that attend will be invested in your relationship and future marriage. No matter what, don’t forget to let them know how grateful you are for their support.

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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5 Warnings About a Destination Wedding

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Last week I shared the fact that my husband and I chose to do a destination wedding and it was literally the best decision we have ever made. But it wasn’t perfect (of course) and it is important to keep a few things in mind when selecting this unique path.

There are some downsides that you might want to be aware of:

  • Not everyone will be able to make it (especially if guests pay their way), and just assume that most elderly friends or grandparents won’t be able to make it. My solution to this was to do multiple showers with different groups of people, and I even flew to where my grandma lives so I could celebrate with one party that she could attend.
  • There will be things that happen that are out of your control, and a far away destination will increase the likelihood of this (i.e. a best friend’s visa is expired and can’t come last minute, or a guest gets sick from local food). This comes with the territory of travel in general, and traveling in large groups can be more complicated.
  • There will be more for you to deal with (i.e. planning a few meals, instead of just one at the ceremony) but if you have a good bridal party who can help you take charge and plan an agenda beforehand then it can take off some of the stress. It is really important to get to know the resort that you are staying at. I randomly selected a few restaurants ahead of time and put them on an agenda for my guests. My wedding coordinator gave me the wrong information and said I couldn’t reserve space at the restaurants for large groups, so there were two meals where I showed up with 50 people and the staff had to scurry around to figure out where to sit us all.
  • You do give up a lot of control and have to truly trust the resort and wedding coordinator who will be working with you because you can’t do typical things like scouting a location or tasting a cake until you arrive to the destination. I recommend asking for pictures beforehand, and anything in writing that you can review about the resort that might not already be on their website. This was helpful for me because I was able to print tons of packets of information to digest prior to the big day.
  • This isn’t super important but it caught me by surprise, there are going to be people who just don’t get it (like come on, why wouldn’t you get married in an actual physical church, or how dare you ask your guests to pay their own way for travel??)…whatever! There will be some interesting etiquette things that come up, but like with anything, stay true to who you are and what’s most important to you as a couple.

I do hope that this helps if you’re currently on the fence! I am PRO-destination weddings (see my blog from last week!) but it is important that you’re prepared.

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

 

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5 Reasons to do a Destination Wedding

cropped-7-18-2017-5-30-31-pm3.jpgOne of the most unique things about my wedding was that it was a destination wedding on a Caribbean island. We chose a place my husband-to-be and I had never been to so it was a brand new experience for us. It was magical and I would have never decided to do it at home (knowing what I know now.)

When we first started planning our wedding, we quickly realized a few important factors that weighed heavily on us when deciding to do a destination wedding:

  1. Many of our guests lived all over the place, and some would be traveling from (literally) the other side of the world for our big day
  2. We have a lot of friends and one side is a very big family, but we knew we wanted it to be an intimate affair
  3. We were concerned about spending all of the money on a wedding that would only last a few hours and wanted to see if we could make it a grander event
  4. We wanted to challenge tradition and make it a memorable experience for both us and our guests
  5. We are both “worldy” and were bit by the “travel bug” at an early age so it just made sense as a representation of our backgrounds

Once we put all of these thoughts together, the idea of a destination wedding became more appealing. The “type A” personality that I have wasn’t helpful, though, and I stayed on the fence for quite a while. It just felt so…out of my control. Could I truly make it my own? And would it feel like a cookie-cutter out-of-the-box wedding ceremony?

I started to do my research and found a few of the larger chain resorts that have customizable wedding packages. I also spoke with a friend who got married this way and then read up on forums from real brides who did it this way. Seeing pictures of these events put me a lot more at ease and got me super excited about doing something that felt so different. I recognized that I would be able to add as many custom touches as I wanted, and it could feel true to us as a couple.

With all of this in mind, if you select a reputable place with good reviews and are paired up with a good wedding coordinator, you can truly make your vision come true. And if it’s like mine, it will be a shared experience for both of you as a couple and your guests that none of you will ever forget. If any of the above ring true for you too, it might be worth researching this and realizing that it’s truly a valid option.

Join me next week to hear some of the downsides to be aware of ahead of time. And if you’ve done your own destination wedding or attended one, let me know if you have anything to add!

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Forget Wedding Planning, Plan Your Marriage

cropped-7-18-2017-5-30-31-pm3.jpgIt sounds kind of funny, but it can be easy to forget about planning your MARRIAGE because you’re so wrapped up in planning your WEDDING. Before my husband and I said “I do”, we attended a 6-week marriage prep group class at my church along with a few individual counseling sessions with our pastor. This was such a special time and it added more benefit than either of us thought it would. We’ve also seen that over time, we’re able to go back to what we learned, which might not have been relevant at the moment.

What most brides and grooms don’t realize is that the stress of a wedding is often one that opens up cracks in the foundation of your future marriage. It isn’t anything to freak out about, but something to be aware of and discuss ahead of time so you are more prepared. I can tell you that one of the biggest fights that we’ve gotten into was while we were engaged…ON VALENTINE’S DAY!!!! It was mind-boggling to me, but it raised a few important red flags.

For example, let’s talk about communication. When you are planning a wedding, I will go ahead and assume that the bride will likely do most of the work. (Because it’s “her” big day, right? Wrong!) So when dealing with the groom, it might reveal some differences in your communication styles and ability to prioritize and get things done.

I did most of our planning, and asked my husband-to-be to do just a few things. And I had to remind him to do those few things. Over and over and over again. It got annoying. I got frustrated. And we had a few silly tiffs over things that “seem” so simple, like a guest list and what songs we would both walk down the aisle to. What I didn’t realize is that this was a reminder of how we are different. He is so laid back and I am…type-A, so it took some time but I had to learn to approach him with his “to-dos.”

One thing that might help is to sit down and have a casual discussion about what helps to keep him on track. Is it reminders? If so, how? Text messages? Emails at his workplace? Verbal cues? Or does he need a date that provides a deadline? Or for you to sit with him to do something?  And is there something specific that he actually WANTS to help with?

These are some small examples but it might help to determine early on. If you can “master” how you can best assist each other during the wedding planning process, it can greatly help in your marriage because some of those same communication styles that you learn now can carry you a long way in the future. Don’t forget: you’re on the same team, and this day belongs to you both.

Happy planning will lead to a happy marriage!

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Your Wedding Vows

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With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, what’s a more romantic topic to discuss than wedding vows? (Honestly one of the bride’s favorite planning moments, and the groom’s least favorite!)
One could argue that vows are THE MOST important part of your wedding ceremony. After all, this will be the part of the day where you promise to be together forever. Vows can be a little nerve-wracking though, especially with all of the day-of commotion, so it’s important to plan ahead and be confident about the route you select to take.

There are a few ways you can go. No way is the right way, but make sure you choose something that you’re both comfortable with.

  • You could go traditional all of the way. Tried and true—nothing too fancy but still very sentimental.
  • Find a more modern/unique version. It can be one that is true to who you are as a couple.
  • Write your own and read them yourself out loud to each other. Make sure it’s not last minute, though!
  • Write your own and have the officiant read it during the ceremony (just give it to them ahead of time).
  • Find real vows published online by other couples that you can use. Don’t act like they are your own, though!
  • Speak from the heart and in the moment. This can be a little bit harder because you’ll have no idea how you’re going to feel and could be very nervous, but it could be a beautiful and inspired moment.

My husband and I opted to find a more modern and unique version that we found online. It was important to me to have some traditional elements, but to still have a little bit of fun with it. We both KNEW that we didn’t even want to ATTEMPT to do our own because of emotions, and while I know that would have been more special, I think it would have been a lot more pressure on us. This way, we just had to speak after the pastor did, and we both still stuttered!

Here is what we both said:

“I take you to be my best friend, My faithful partner and my true
love. I promise to encourage you and inspire you and to love you truly
through good times and bad. I will forever be there to laugh with you,
to lift you up when you are down and to love you unconditionally
through all of our adventures in life together.”

I loved our vows and the sentiment shared on that day was so special.

Whatever way you go, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and come back to what you know: how beautiful your relationship is and the joy that you’ll have together on this special day.

Brides, what are you planning? Wives, would you have changed anything about your vow selections?

Have a happy Valentine’s Day!

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Creating a Wedding Timeline

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One of the most chaotic parts of wedding planning is often where to get started and how to get all of the important tasks done prior to the big day. After all, most of us aren’t official party planners at our day job!

What’s crucial will be the order in which you do things, and a timeline is key. Here are some of my favorite timelines to help you create a game plan leading up to the big day.

Dear LC Timeline via Pinterest (featured above, click for the full image)

MODWedding Article via Pinterest

From BettyLuPaperie shared via Pinterest

The Knot 12 Month Checklist

With these timelines, do keep in mind that most begin 9-12 months ahead of time so you’ll likely need to alter it to meet your wedding date. I also recommend referencing multiple timelines online, because some will mention minor details that others will miss (but could be very important!)

Happy planning. I hope these help! Are there wedding timelines that I missed? Let me know!

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Five Tips to Become an Organized Bride

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When it came to planning my wedding, I knew that my natural instincts would come in handy. I am detail-oriented and am called the “process queen” by people I work with…because how can you stay organized and on track with ANYTHING without a process in place?! But what if you aren’t this way, or you instinctively are, but you just have too much going on to keep the planning on track.

More and more brides these days are planning their own weddings, without having a wedding planner on call for all of the details. Some have more of a hybrid approach, where they hire wedding support consultants for a specific area (like decor) or running the day-of events. Either way, it’s going to be crucial to stay on track with all of your tasks!

Here are my tips based on what helped me:

  • As hard as it might be, try not to get overwhelmed! You can not do all things at once so make sure to prioritize. The crucial components (like date and venue) should all be planned first, and the type of candle placed in the church or your first dance song can be selected a little later.
  • Use technology to your advantage. Keeping a notebook can be tough because you’ll probably do your wedding planning throughout your day and in different locations. If you use your phone to stay on track, you’ll always have it with you at a moments notice. If you prefer an in-app experience, The Knot has a great checklist that you can use on your phone. I used the “notepad” section on my phone for hot items because it was more customized to me, and then had a longer to-do list saved on my computer.
  • Organize your tasks by category so you can keep things straight. For example, have a category on your list related to your wedding dress. Note your dates for dress shopping, alteration 1 and alteration 2. Or have a category for your catering so tasks include things like finding a vendor, food tasting, and then menu planning. Also make sure to note any important vendor meetings (especially close to the big day) so you don’t forget anything.
  • Have an accountability partner that can keep you on track (and preferably not your future spouse, but that’s another topic to talk about another day.) A member of your bridal party is a great option because they’ll be involved and invested. Ask these individuals to help you keep things straight by either delegating tasks or working together on large items. Bridesmaids can be GREAT at reminding you to do things, especially as you get closer to the big day, but you need to make sure they’re aware of what you need help with. (And ask nicely!)
  • Celebrate when you cross things off of your list! There will be so much going on around you and a lot of pressure on both the bride and groom to get things done on time. Don’t be so focused that you miss the small moments and milestones along the way. After all, all of these decisions are going to eventually lead into the biggest day of your life! (No pressure!)

Do you have other tips that brides can keep in mind? Chime in with a comment!

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Pinterest Tips to Use Before Wedding Dress Shopping

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To keep with the topic of Pinterest (one of my favorite wedding planning tools), let’s transition to a specific content category: wedding dresses.

I found my wedding dress on Pinterest. No joke!

I (like many of you) dreamed about my wedding dress well before he asked the big question. For years, I watched the tv show “Say Yes to the Dress” and I even cut out a few of my favorite dresses from bridal magazines. But what I ended up walking down the aisle in, ended up being completely different than my initial vision (in the best way possible.)

I spent hours looking at dresses online. I started with many of the big retailer websites so I could see what was available, but then I looked to Pinterest for more inspiration. This helped me get a better idea of budget, styles available, and material choices, but it also showed me how much was available. It can be quite daunting, but I was able to take a step back and just look at my research as inspiration. (Try not to get SO set on a specific dress or style because you never know how they will look!)

I started a wedding board specific to wedding dresses and started pinning away. I invited my sister/Maid of Honor so she could comment on the dresses. (One of her most hysterical comments was “Say no to peplum!” but that’s a story for another day.)

By the end of my pinning, I had almost 40 dresses and bridal veil styles selected. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it would be an invaluable tool when I actually went wedding dress shopping. My dad and I went on Valentine’s Day together to look for my dream dress at David’s Bridal. I walked in with my iPad and when the consultant asked what I had in mind, I pulled up my Pinterest board. Here was why this was SO helpful:

  1. It’s HARD to describe exactly what you envision, especially if you don’t know all of the technical dress terms of cut and style. This visual story telling will help set up the consultant for success and will decrease chances for miscommunication.
  2. It’s likely that you will fall in love with multiple styles (at least in theory) and it’s helpful for the consultant to see your variety in taste and how far you’re willing to push your own bounderies.
  3. Don’t forget to pin some dresses from the actual store’s website, so it’s easier to find exact styles. If you can’t find the store options on Pinterest, save the images from their website and pin them yourself.
  4. It’s important to let the consultant know that you are open, and not too set on anything you have pinned. The last thing you want them to feel like is that you’ve pinned (get it?) them into a corner with no room to exhaust their own expertise.
  5. Don’t question the consultant too much or act like you know it all. I recommend asking them to pull a “wild card” for you, because you never know!

What was interesting was that the dress I selected was LITERALLY the last dress that I pinned. It was a designer gown (a little over my budget, of course) that I randomly found through some random navigation online (you know how you go, I don’t know how I ended up on this person’s board, but I like it.)

Oh, and did I mention that it was blush colored? I had never even considered color before then, but this guided my discussion with the consultant so I was able to lead with “I’m open to color.” I ended up selecting that exact blush dress, and married the man of my dreams in it. Thanks Pinterest, David’s Bridal, and Vera Wang! Happy pinning and happy dress shopping…I hope you now see how the two can go hand in hand!

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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