Valentine’s Day Love

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while…it’s the 100th post! I was so excited about reaching this milestone.  At the same time I think I was overwhelmed with the magnitude of the milestone.  I was not inspired to write anything really because whatever came to mind…it just didn’t seem enough. But, instead of postponing it yet another day I thought I would just go for it.

Today I wanted to get back to the real reason I started this blog.  It all began because I fell in love, so I thought I would write a really mushy, corny over the top love list (it is Valentine’s Day so why not?).  So here it goes all of my favorite things about falling love with my love in no particular order:

Zou Bisou Bisou

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  1. our secret language
  2. his butt
  3. being our goofy selves together
  4. he’s my family
  5. snuggling
  6. the big, warm heart feeling
  7. he still loves me despite my smelly man feet
  8. always wanting to be better for each other
  9. kissing
  10. he’s not creeped out that I eat my cheerios with a side of peanut butter
  11. sharing our everything
  12. needing each other
  13. letting go of the list, because we are each other’s lists
  14. he does his best to abide by the no tooting rule
  15. breakfast for dinner
  16. his dimple
  17. our mutual love of ginger
  18. zerberts
  19. he goes to the grocery store for us all of the time
  20. our shared coffee addiction
  21. the good, the bad, the ugly it’s all worth it
  22. being sweet to each other everyday
  23. the unsolicited support that is there every single day
  24. feeling safe
  25. his patience with my crazy
  26. pushing each other out of our comfort zones
  27. his late night trips to pick up something sweet for me
  28. how hard it is to say no to each other
  29. he tucks me into bed every night and helps me take out my contacts
  30. dancing when no one else is
  31. surprise martinis
  32. he’s a great puppy parent
  33. we are true partners in everything that we do
  34. his eyes
  35. he always makes me laugh

The list goes on forever but, I digress… Feeling lucky in love today! I hope you are too! Happy Valentine’s Day!

There are 2 Sides to Every Story

weddingcaketoppersPhoto from Shannon Leahy Events

I don’t know if you guys have seen the recent viral posts on Facebook and other social media outlets, but they have really resonated with me because they are all about marriage advice.  From both sides of the story: a man and a woman.  I thought there were a lot of great points so, I wanted to share them with you.

There is the original post, which is from a man recently divorced who shares advice that he wishes he would have known…things he wishes he would have done differently.   AND then there is a woman’s response about the 10 Marriage Tips Every WIFE Needs to Hear.

Here are her tips:

  1. Respect your husband.  
  2. Guard your heart.
  3. God, husband, kids…in that order.
  4. Forgive.
  5. Over-communicate.
  6. Schedule a regular date night.
  7. Never say the “D Word”.
  8. Learn his love language.
  9. Never talk negatively about him.
  10. Choose to love.

There were a lot of aha moments for me as I read through her explanations. Read them here. But, one of the things that I wanted to start right away  after reading it was #6 Schedule a regular date night. I have allowed myself to get caught up.  Caught up in the stress of my career, my commitment to the gym, and wedding planning that I just have lost sight of spending quality time with my future husband.  Lucky for me my fiance is so patient and understanding…he doesn’t make a fuss if I fall asleep on the couch at 8:30 because I am exhausted from everything that is going on, but I know he misses me and I miss him.  So, this weekend I am planning a date night and taking time to just be with him and I can’t wait! While trying to come up with a fun idea I found these Out of the box date ideas , so I think I might try one of these out. 

Let Them Eat Cake, Part Deux

I know we’ve chatted about cake, but don’t miss out on my tips on preparing for the Cake Tasting… hop on over to the Baltimore Bride blog, Hitched, to see my latest post.

cake

Wedding Ceremony Music

We’ve been planning out our entertainment for the big day and at first I was a little overwhelmed.  But, if you tackle one project at a time your stress levels will go back to normal, trust.  So, instead of tackling your ceremony, cocktail, and reception music all at once, break them up.

Today we are looking into wedding ceremony music.  All of the possibilities of ceremony songs can seem daunting, but relax. Pulling off the perfect ceremony music program is easier than you think.

Step 1: Learn the Fundamentals

You only need 3 types of songs:

  1. Preludes
  2. Processionals
  3. Recessionals

Prelude music is the moodsetter it’s played while guests are being seated and waiting for the ceremony to begin. It usually begins as early as 45 minutes prior to but no later than 20 minutes before the start.

Next is the processional, which accompanies the entry of the extended wedding party — family, bridal party, and bride. The same song can be used for each, but why not change to another song when you walk down the aisle to add drama and highlight your entrance.  You’re the bride, it’s your day! Go for it!

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the recessional plays. As the name implies, this music accompanies you as you make your exit and is traditionally bright and lively — a reflection of all of your happy!

Step 2: Size Does Matter

Consider the size of your venue when putting together your plan.  If you are getting married indoors you do have acoustics on your side, but outdoor ceremonies can be a little more tricky.

Step 3: Strategize on Sound

Keep the number of guests to ceremony musicians ratio in mind, if you are going that route.  For example, a quartet is appropriate for a group of 200.  But, you can cut back and save, if you think hiring a duo or trio and a sound person would work. Or, even better, ask your band or DJ to come with a couple of mics or an amplifier. Or you could just have the DJ play your favorite tunes if that’s more your style.

This I Guess I Do example of ceremony music is a great template to follow, this is where I started from and then I just selected songs that were more personal to us.

Ceremony MusicPhoto credit: I Guess I Do

Giveaway: Fitness Friday with Larisa

Lucky me won a new gym bag! Yay! It just arrived, so we are still in our honeymoon phase, lol!  Thanks again vmac+cheese for a great giveaway! Anywho, once the new pretty gym bag arrived I got to thinking… what should I be packing to help me prepare for my workouts?  If anyone knows how to pack a gym bag, it’s someone whose line of work is working out.  So today we are taking a peek inside of Larisa’s workout bag for a look at what she uses to stay on top of her game:

GymBagEssentials

  1. First things first, you need a gym bag…this is the prettiness that just got shipped to me ala vmac + cheese, here.
  2. An obvious must have: your gym clothes & shoes.  While there are a few freaks of nature that workout in their jeans, it’s not recommended. Gotta show some love to the hometown brand, here.
  3. An extra pair of socks. Just like they disappear in the washer/dryer socks seem to disappear from your gym bag, so it’s a good idea to have a spare just in case. More UA goodness, here.
  4. A BPA free reusable bottle of water, ALWAYS STAY HYDRATED! This bkr bottle is so cute and there are so many color choices, here.
  5. Deodorant, enough said.
  6. A small towel, just in case your gym is out of clean towels or for some reason they don’t offer a towel service.  Trust, you don’t want to get caught in a RPM class without a towel…gross! Love, love, love these motivational towels from inperspire, here.
  7. A stock pile of hair ties, only certain ladies can workout with their hair down and we don’t make that list…These hair ties are so colorful! The etsy shop creates packs based on the Pantone’s Fashion Color Report,  the Fall 2013 Fashion Color Report is shown, here.
  8. SweatyBands.  Amazing! Best workout headband on the market.  These things do not move…they are life changing, here.
  9. 2 pairs of ear buds.  A back-up just in case one gets misplaced or broken. I’m pretty particular about my ear buds…not all of them fit right in my ear, but I love the SkullCandy buds they are really affordable and you can get them at Target.  That’s a win-win in my book, here.
  10. Some sort of cold therapy.  Ben Gay is a good choice it acts just like an ice pack for any bumps and bruises you may experience along the way.
  11. An Ace bandage or knee brace is a good idea to have as well for any possible strains or injuries.
  12. A non-perishable snack…almonds & apples are a great choice to fuel your workouts. In the cooler months (because they won’t melt then), protein bars are a great choice as long as they are less than 5g of sugar.  Larisa’s top picks are Quest Bars or Pure Protein Bars.
  13. Jump rope. Obviously, the jump rope is a very versatile tool. See here and here. So, pack your own so you can get a workout in whenever/wherever you are…
  14. Business cards are always a good idea.  The gym is a perfect networking opportunity.

While this may seem like a lot of stuff to carry around in your gym bag, you don’t want to give yourself any excuse to skip out on your workout AND make sure you pack your gym bag the night before so, that it doesn’t get forgotten in your morning rush out the door.  Bottom line if you are prepared you can’t let yourself skip out on living a fit life.

Giveaway! I wanted to pay it forward and do a  Soon to be A Mrs. first, a little giveaway. One reader will be lucky enough to have their life changed by sporting a swanky new SweatyBand in their next workout courtesy of Soon to be A Mrs.  It’s as easy as leaving a comment here telling us one thing you can’t go to the gym without.  Open to U.S. residents only.  Good luck! Entries must be posted by this coming Thursday, September 19th, at 8 a.m. EST, and one winner will be chosen at random.*

P.S. Don’t forget if you want to know more reach out to Larisa directly at (443)250-5245 or lunger123@aol.com.

*Please do not leave your email or web address in the body of the comment, only in the allotted boxes. $15 USD approximate total value. Winner will be contacted by email once comments close, and announced at the bottom of this post soon after.

Fitness Friday with Larisa

It’s that time again. Fitness Friday with Larisa!  If you missed last week, see here.  Anywho, we are back for the promised strength training exercise, some cardio, and flexibility to fit into the mix all with just a jump rope to keep your workouts accessible and challenging.

A great way to get in all three of Larisa’s main elements of exercise in one workout is to do 20 minutes of each: Strength, Cardio, & Flexibility.

We’ll start out with another great addition to your strength training routine, the Bridal Butt Lift.  This is perfect for you if you are wearing a form fitting wedding dress or if you just want a cute butt.  Who doesn’t?! This version is another one of Larisa’s Barre/TRX hybrid exercises that strengthens your legs in both the glute & hamstring areas; while actually lifting your butt…AWESOME!

2013-08-17 12.58.39

Here’s the how to:

  • Step away from your anchor.
  • Hold both handles of the jump rope in front of your chest.
  • Brace your core.
  • Tip forward from the hip
  • Naturally float one leg up, with your hips slightly tucked
  • Lift your leg up an inch and down an inch
  • 25 reps on each leg

2013-08-17 13.03.33

20 minutes of jumping rope is a great way to get in your cardio.

2013-08-17 13.02.17Don’t forget to stretch! This assisted hamstring stretch helps immensely with flexibility.  A tight hamstring is one of the main causes of lower back pain so, this stretch is great in preventing it.

Don’t forget if you want to know more reach out to Larisa directly at (443)250-5245 or lunger123@aol.com.

Bridal Shows: Do or Don’t

Before becoming a bride I never really had a good opinion of bridal shows.  I think it stems back to when I used to intern for this amazing cafe in London and the owner was asked to join numerous bridal shows because of the cake masterpieces they create, but he refused.  He kept reiterating the atmosphere of desperation at most shows and how it just wasn’t his scene.  So, before ever attending one I had this fear of intense sales pitches and awkward conversations…and trust me after going to 3 shows since I got engaged there are some out there like that.  But, there are some that are not.  Yesterday I was lucky enough to win a free ticket to attend the intrigued 2013 bridal fair and flower showcase.  Intrigue designs did a really fun instagram contest and lucky me won!

intrigued2013

First of all I was so excited to win the ticket because I never win anything lol.  But, I was even more excited when I arrived; intrigue designs went all out and the florals were gorgeous! Check them out:

Also, all of the vendors that attended were really nice and conversational and of course discussed their services but, not in an obnoxious way.  I had a great time getting to know each of them.  I didn’t really have much of an expectation as far as booking anything for our wedding because most of our big decisions have been made, but I was wrong.

The ladies from Behind the Veil were awesome, I loved the ribbon back drop behind their booth.  I don’t know if they were responsible for it or intrigued but, either way gorgeous! Also, I was so excited to hear from one of their artists, Ashley, that they are able to do the finger wave.  My most coveted hairstyle for the BIG day.  I had all but, given up because I had called an upwards of 15 stylists/salons/etc. and none of them were able to do it.  I can’t wait to schedule my trial with them. Yay!

And if you love a little southern charm and really who doesn’t?!  The Cake Courtesan is your answer for dessert display and wedding cakes.  All of their treats were ridiculously good! Yesterday they were serving strawberry champagne macarons.  Need I say more.  Plus, this gorgeous cake was on display…

The Cake Courtesan

I mean look at that fondant work.  IMPRESSIVE! I am an avid cake connoisseur myself not necessary always baking but, I stalk various cake shops on instagram and such and I must say I have never seen anything like this.  It was incredibly intricate and oh so glamorous! After chatting with the ladies I learned that they specialize in upscale southern style desserts and wedding cakes. I may have to make a trip up to Bowie to taste their banana pudding dessert shooters.  How good does that sound?!

So at the end of the day I say a Bridal Show is a Do.  I would recommend going with little to no expectations and just hope for the best.  You never know what connections you might make :)

Third Major Decision Made: The Photographer . . . Another One Bites the Dust

I’m am about as patient as a child in the ice cream truck line.  I want it and I want it now!  (gotta love a Willy Wonka reference).  But, believe it or not…

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Design by SignHereVinyl

I like many other brides-to-be have a checklist for just about everything.  Umm right now there are probably 5 post-its in my bag with various checklists… LOL! Anyway, one of the next things on my wedding planning checklist is securing our photographer.  I knew who I wanted to hire but, we hadn’t made the financial commitment just yet.  I was hoping to by the end of May but, here we are almost the end of June and no photographer… I was starting to sweat, loose sleep, stress eat, among various other stresslike tendencies.

In this case the waiting and the stressing certainly made it worth the wait because it’s now a month after my personally inflicted deadline and I have stress up to my ears and a lovely email appears in my inbox.  My photographer had sent a “checking in” email with an offer to sweeten the pot… Hook, line and sinker I was interested.   Let me just show you in dollars and cents how much it was worth the wait:

Original Cost: $1550 

. Getting ready, ceremony, and reception coverage, 5 hours
. TWO photographers
. Full editing and enhancements
. Private online viewing gallery, to view and to share
. High-res DVD of images on archival disk
. Print package, including a 16 x 20 enlargement

Worth the Wait Cost: $1650

. Engagement Session ($399 value) with wide mat enlargement
. Getting ready, ceremony, and reception coverage, 5 hours
. TWO photographers
. Full editing and enhancements
. Private online viewing gallery, to view and to share
. High-res DVD of images on archival disk
. Deluxe Print Package, including 3-8×10, 3-5×7, 1-11×14 mounted enlargement

While in the end we are spending more money we are getting so much more!!! The engagement session alone makes it worth the wait for me.  Plus, the Deluxe Print Package includes sizes that are much more appropriate for us.  I don’t think I’ll ever want a 16×20 photo of myself..haha. So excited! Another contract signed…another one bites the dust!

I wanted to share this with you guys because if I can elevate any stress from other brides-to-be I’m going to…I hope this shows you that while things may not be falling into your timelines as you had hoped, there could be a reason why, in this case it was because I needed(wanted) an engagement session.  At least that’s what I think :)

Wedding Word to the Wise

Wedding planning has been such a learning process for me.  Between managing the stress, keeping the love alive, and the actual planning it’s been a whirlwind.  So, I thought I would look back on the past 6 months of planning and share some of the insights I’ve learned so far to help out all of the other brides-to-be starting out the planning process. Here is my wedding word to the wise…

#1 Time flys when you’re in love.  Not only are you kind of floating around on cloud nine because the man/woman that you love popped the question, but you are also on the brink of planning one of the biggest events of your life.  While it seems like you have plenty of time, you don’t.  There is way more involved in planning than you could have ever imagined.  I would advise you to start early so you can allow for changes in plan if you need to and then you don’t have to rush through or not do something that is important to you.  For example, our venue search was a much more lengthy process that I had originally thought and that was only the beginning.  Finding a place that was within our budget, in our area, and that we loved was tough (see here).  I am so happy that we started this process so early or I would have been stressing out hardcore.

#2 Press pause on the planning.  While it does a bride good to start early it is just as important to unplug from the planning hamster wheel and replug into your love life from time to time.  Whether it’s just a date night where wedding talk is not allowed or an perhaps an actual vacation.  I highly recommend it!  The Mr. and I did a little of both last weekend.  We went on a little staycation.  To ensure that we enjoyed each other company to the fullest extent I vowed not to do any wedding planning, brainstorming, DIYIng, etc.  It was so nice to just not even think about it for a few days.  I will admit it got to be a little tough towards the end, I had to bite my tongue from bouncing off wedding ideas, but I did and we survived.  We got to be just us.  Two people spending time together and loving every second of it, no wedding planning/saving/DIYing stress at all.

#3 Don’t let ANYONE tell you that you HAVE TO do anything. You don’t. (You really really don’t). Do what will make you the happiest even if it means pissing people off temporarily. When your vision comes to fruition, you’ll be psyched and they’ll most likely get over it and/or be impressed.

#4 Be open-minded. I’ll reiterate the above point once again…don’t let anyone tell you that you have to do anything.  But, also don’t let your visions of what your BIG day will look like get in the way of things you hadn’t originally thought about.  You may think you know what you want your wedding cake to look like, or what you’d be wearing on your big day, but use these visions as a starting point not the end all be all.  As mentioned here, I was stubbornly resistant to trying on my Mom’s dress at all.  If I didn’t relax and just try it on I wouldn’t have fell in love with her beautiful heirloom dress and we wouldn’t be sharing the process of restoring and redesigning it together, which would have been be a real shame. Speaking of which, here is a little sneak peek of a sketch I created for our first consultation with the dressmaker for those of you who haven’t seen it yet:

Wedding Dress Plans

#5 Relish the Moments, Relinquish the Stress.  I tend to get caught up in the details and that can be a slippery slope of stress.  So, I try to consciously remind myself  to relish the moments, the moments of sheer joy.  There are so many of them like: writing my vows the process so far has been a beautiful reflection on the simplicity of our love or talking to my nieces and soon to be nieces about being in our wedding…it’s so cute to see their little faces light up talking about it.  And it is also hysterical to listen to some of the questions they have (i.e. Chey asked if she could wear her cowgirl boots.  Of course I said yes.  How could I get between a girl and her boots?  Now to just find somewhat wedding appropriate wedding cowgirl boots, this should be interesting LOL). It’s moments like this that I want to remember forever, not the moments when I’m on the verge of tears because the return address stamp for our wedding invites doesn’t come with white ink…that may or may not have happened.

Hopefully these tips and insights into my wedding planning process helps some of you out.  If any of you out there have more inspiration to share with me or other brides-to-be please share in the comments.

How to Approach the Tasting with Your Caterer

Anyone that knows me well enough will certainly agree that I love FOOD! I love to cook, I love to eat, and I absolutely love to entertain.  It is with all this love that I played around with the idea of catering my own wedding.  That is until my FH and my Mama looked at me like I had finally lost it.  Then I thought that maybe it wasn’t the best idea.

Needless to say, I have decided to relinquish the control of our wedding day menu to a caterer.  I know there are some other brides out there that have struggled with this loss of control, so I am here to help with some tips on how to approach the all important tasting.

First things first, don’t sign anything before the tasting.  Going into the tastings without a commitment gives you a chance to actually test out the food.  Trust me when I say that almost every menu proposal you will receive will make your mouth water, see here.  In our case, we have received close to 10 different menus and quite honestly they all sound delicious, which is why I think the tasting is that much more important.   I would advise you to do the same.  Start out with some online research for the caterer’s reputation.  WeddingWire.com is a great resource for this.   Also, go ahead get quotes from all of the caterers you are interested in and then set-up the tastings in order of who you like the most and who fits your budget.  Side-note for all of you Batlimore-area brides, we have decided to start out our tastings with Dean and Brown Catering.  If you haven’t checked them out yet, you should.  They seemed to have the best overall online reputation and really great pricing!  Also, I love the fact that Dean & Brown didn’t require us to sign a contract prior to the tasting.  So, point #1 in Dean & Brown’s  favor.  But, again be aware that a lot of wedding caterers do require this.

Realize that this is not all fun and games.  At first I was thinking oh this will be so much fun we get to go taste a bunch of super yummy food and kind of envision the BIG day, what a blast!  But, then I got back to reality just a bit.  While, I think that the aforementioned fun will definitely be had, I also realized I had to get my bride hat/tiara back on and get to work. I will go as far as saying I kind of had an aha moment, as Oprah would say, that this tasting is one of the only opportunities to spend some one on one time with your caterer.

Give your caterer honest feedback.  During this precious one on one time give your caterer some honest feedback on your specific dishes (too salty, not enough sauce, etc.), so that then the caterer can adjust the dish to your specifications.  This just may be one area where I could get a little bridezilla and I think you should too.  Tell them how you really feel about everything, don’t sugarcoat it.  One of the biggest elements of your big day is feeding all of your hungry guests and there is nothing worse than bad wedding food.

Be prepared. Plan on bringing along a small notepad to write down your thoughts as you taste each dish.  That way you won’t forget anything.  As you go through the tasting you will obviously share these thoughts, but your notes will come in handy when you send in your follow-up email (more on that later).

Don’t be gun shy.  Also don’t be afraid to veto something entirely.  If you do not care for how the dish tastes go ahead and ask them to take it off the menu.  It’s okay not to serve something that you really don’t like.  As a bride, I think this is a time to get your brutally honest face on and put your taste buds to work.

Test the waters.  We have taken the tasting as an opportunity to put two hors d’oeuvres up against another.  If you can’t make up your mind about an element of your menu I think this is a great idea.  Most caterers should be willing to “cater” to this to help you finalize your menu.  In our case one hors d’oeuvre  is rather expensive, but something that I thought sounded so fun and delish.  But, my more practical other half wants to make sure it’s worth the extra mullah so, we are putting it up against a less expensive option that we both think sounds yummy.  He is so clever appealing to my obsession of Bravo’s Top Chef.  It’s going to be like a Top Chef quickfire, fingers crossed the voting goes well between us two judges.  Dean and Brown were more than obliging with this request, which I thought was so kind of them, point #2.

Follow-up. I think that writing a followup email to your caterer thanking them for the tasting is absolutely necessary!  Tastings are expensive and labor intensive so, take the time to thank them!  Also, include your feedback on what you would like changed.  This is a good way to ensure that they haven’t forgotten your discussion at the tasting.

Have fun! While it isn’t all fun and games as I mentioned earlier, it is still fun!  You are planning one of the most important parties of your life.  Live it up!

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