From One Former-Bride to the Brides-to-Be: Wedding Tips

I just finished planning a wedding. Like most Brides, I spent the six months preceding the actual planning making Pinterest boards and reading wedding planning websites. I am here to tell you that their advice, while awesome, does not always ring true-to-form. And so for inquiring minds, here are some Wedding Planning truisms that I learned along the way while navigating the tricky waters of wedding planning.

 

This was the one weird thing that I absolutely wanted to happen. I don't even know.

This was the one weird thing that I absolutely wanted to happen. I don’t even know.

1. I’m going to start this off somewhat ironically: Do Not Listen To Every Bit of Wedding Advice That You Hear. The moment either yourself or your significant other proposes, every single person that you’ve ever met is going to give you advice (They will also start making wholly inappropriate comments on your future child rearing, monetary investments, and sex life. Everyone from strangers to your coworkers to family members that haven’t seen you in fifteen years will do this. Just buck up and practice your fake smile and nod). Remember that every person is different. One woman’s 30k, deeply religious wedding does not have to be yours- and neither does the country hoe-down that your best friend threw complete with cowboy boots under her white dress. This also applies to your vendors. Your photographer, florist, caterer, facility manager, and DJ all have a very specific idea of how your Wedding should go. Don’t be afraid to (politely) shut down the ideas that you do not like, and to (again, politely!) steer them into the direction of something more “you.” Just keep in mind that their ideas exist because they’ve done weddings thousands of times, whereas you will probably only do it once (or twice. Whatevs). So they definitely “Get” the wedding thing- but they don’t know you or your significant other, and its YOUR day!

2. Sometimes it isn’t possible to have every person that you want to be in your party IN your party. Whether it’s because you’re trying to keep the wedding party small or because your friend can’t necessarily afford to be a bridesmaid/groomsman, sometimes people that you would love to have in your wedding party have to be on the sidelines. To make matters worse, they might be hurt that they don’t get to be included on the “extras” of the Wedding. But with weddings becoming increasingly DIY, your friends/cousins/whomever can be involved by having them take part in the fun miscellaneous bits; the bachelorette party, doing crafts (if they like that sort of thing), or even having them involved in the Wedding itself. Friends of mine who could not be bridesmaids did wedding readings, helped with music selection, and honestly kept me sane when I didn’t want to think about another wedding detail for the rest of forever. And I’ve found that if you’re just upfront and honest about the situation, they’ll understand. They’re supposed to be your friends, after all.

3. Save money- skip the “Save the Dates.” Seriously, between the invites and postage (double the postage- you have to pay for the invites to go out AND for them to come back!), adding a “Save the Date” to the mix just isn’t worth it unless your heart is really set on having them. “Save the Dates” are a trend from the last 5-10 years that stemmed from the increased popularity of expensive destination weddings. You really, really do not need one for an intimate, local affair. Honestly? most people will know that you’re getting married by the increase of Pinterest wedding pins and your panicked Facebook statuses anyway. Save the cash for the honeymoon.

4. Sneak Away the day before the wedding. My husband and I did this, and we don’t regret it one bit. We took off of work the day before the wedding and we went down to the beach with some friends. Our phones were off, we packed a lunch, and we went swimming and goofed around and just relaxed for a few hours until we trekked back home to get ready for the rehearsal dinner. Those last few hours of “pre-wedding” can become filled with planning and chaos and stress, and it kills what’s supposed to be the focus of your day; you and your partner-to-be! So plan ahead and set that day up so that you have the time to sneak away. Tell your wedding confidantes where you will be, that you will not be reachable, and enjoy your day with your lovie!

5. Ultimately, the little details don’t matter. Listen, you’re getting married, and that’s freaking huge. I promise you, you aren’t going to care about the exact orientation of the flowers or whether you walked down the aisle to the perfect song or what shoes the bridesmaids decided to wear. Most of these are details that you only pick up on in the photos afterwards anyway. None of my bridesmaids had matching shoes, hair, or jewelry and they all looked absolutely stunning. The recessional song was started 90 seconds late, and my husband and I stood at the top of the aisle waiting for it to start- and we didn’t care! Somehow we accidentally ended up in a receiving line when we were supposed to be taking pictures- these things happen. You will look sweaty in some photos, someone will get drunk, and an uncle will draw a penis on your car because he thinks it’s funny. Just let it go, and fill your day with people that you love (and who are willing to clean off your car for you while you are greeting guests).

6. Have your witnesses fill our the wedding certificates before they get drunk. We learned this one the hard way. The last thing we did before leaving was sign the marriage certificates, and it was a struggle to gather everyone to fill out the information, show everyone where exactly they need to sign, and make them stop dancing long enough to fill out the forms in triplicate. Do yourself a favor- pick a point earlier in the day’s events to do this. Whether it’s between pictures or before dinner or whatever- don’t leave it until the end!

7. And finally; Buck tradition and see your bride/groom the morning of the wedding. Jim and I decided to spend the night before the wedding and that morning together. In our minds, it was the most important day of our lives, and we wanted to wake up that morning next to each other and spend as much of it together as possible. We got up early and took care of some things, went to breakfast, settled some last-minute details (making sure the rings were where they needed to be, putting tissues in suit pockets, etc.), and then went about going our separate ways to get ready. Honestly, even though the wedding is about the two of you, you’ll spend the day being led to different places, posed, and in conversation with your guests. It’s an amazingly fun time, but you probably will not be able to sneak away to be with your new wife/husband privately until the wedding is over (I learned this after Jim and I did try to sneak away, and I found photos of us).  So having that morning together will be nice quality time to add to the day, and it becomes a part of the memories.

 

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Adulting Resource Pinterest Roundup

So on Sunday I posted about trying to find a balance between all the different facets of life, and in truth I didn’t expect to get much of a response. I mean, most of us are pretty clueless about life. It’s why Self Help books, talk show gurus, and the Lifestyles section of the newspaper makes so much money.  Personally, being both cheap and a sucker for good photography and infographics, I’ve begun to utilize Pinterest for its myriad of tips on everything from how to clean my house to composting guides. Here’s the roundup of my favorites Pinterest finds:

Budgeting 

When we first moved in together, my then-fiance and I tried to mentally tabulate our expenses. As anyone who has ever been an adult for longer than a year knows, this isn’t something that ends well. It’s confusing and stressful and we made some dumb mistakes. So! We switched to a budget binder, which we also replicate online in the google document.

The binder that we use is a free download that you can get here. It’s pretty and also covers just about everything. She also has created a number of other binders for organizing, if binders are your thing!

Moving Tips

The common plight of most of my 20-something friends is that we’re at an age where we move a lot. Most of my high school and college friends have moved at least once in the last three-four years, and it’s typically a group effort. That’s why I recommend this list to every person who is about to go through the process of moving. If you have the time to utilize some of the tips, it will make life so much easier.

Home Decor: Small Space Living 

As I mentioned in this post, our first place was a gorgeous space that was also very tiny with built-in features that complicated decorating. Currently, we’re living in a much larger space with a lot of dedicated rooms. This means that the challenges in decorating our first home are completely different from the challenges facing our second home (for example, we went from banging our head on our ceiling to not being able to reach it, because it’s 10 feet tall).  Luckily, this list (which is definitely sponsored, just an FYI) is pretty comprehensive. I’ve used most of the tips and they definitely work!

Cleaning Guides

   Ah, cleaning. It’s the never-ending task, especially when you have three cuddly little hairballs.  Of course, one of our kitties has a sensitivity to hard-core cleaners, so we have to be careful about the supplies that we use. For most things, we buy all-natural cleaners (typically Meyers or Method Brand) for others, I make my own. That’s where this guide to natural cleaning has come in handy. It has some great tips for non-expensive cleansers, and most of the cleansers can be made from things that homes just have. I use that guide in conjunction with a personalized Daily Cleaning List that I created based off of this list here (I blended the “kid’s bath” and “guest bath” into general bathroom cleanup on Tuesday to leave Friday open to relax).

Cooking Guides

A year ago, I had never cooked anything more difficult than chicken tacos, grilled cheese, and Ramen noodles. I baked the family Christmas cookies and occasionally made chocolate covered blueberries or oreo truffles, but mostly I stayed far way from the oven. Truth be told, ovens terrify me. They are metal boxes of witchcraft, and I don’t trust them. That said, Lean Cuisines are expensive, and so I had to learn how to cook. The years of sitting in the kitchen with my mom while she cooked gave me three very specific types of knowledge: 1. Always use fresh herbs when you have them; 2. Always crush your garlic to get the best flavor; and 3. Summer tomatoes should be eaten with a sheep’s milk cheese or a pinch of sea salt straight from the garden. You will find no better flavor anywhere.

Now, since I can’t put my mom on Pinterest and most nights my cooking style can be described as “Winging it,” I’ve turned to Pinterest more than a few times for a last-minute recipe. But more helpful are the fresh herb flavor pairings, the infographic guide to smoothie making (because I hate breakfast foods), and Buzzfeed’s healthy eating tips (which were actually incredibly helpful).

 

So there you have it-the Pinterest life cheats that I’ve been using while I figure out how to do things properly.  What sorts of online guides have you guys used to learn new things? Please share them with me. Please?

Also, if you’re wondering what other things I’ve pinned (spoiler: it’s recipes, tattoos that I want, and country kitchens) check me out on Pinterest!

 

 

 

Finding the Balance (and revealing my immaturity).

Since graduating from college two years ago I’ve been struggling to learn a new life-balance.  Of course, in the last two years my entire life has changed significantly, so it’s seemed like the moment I’ve captured some semblance of balance it’s been upset by something new and I’ve had to go through the process all over again.  And so, as my husband and I settle into married life and the new home and jobs that have become increasingly demanding over the last couple of months, we are still trying to find that “balance.”

This is something that is amazing to me, because we are two people. I cook, and he cleans up dinner (or vice versa). He feeds the cats, while I tend to all of the grooming, nail trimming, flea treatments, and pilling (because there is always something when you have three cats). I clean the house, and he does the laundry. We both track expenses (to varying degrees of success) and go to the farmers markets/grocery shopping. We make our own lunches. In essence, we are each doing half of the work that we would be doing if we lived alone. And yet, by the time 9pm rolls around, we’ve exhausted ourselves from the day and all we want to do is be on our computers and zone out. And ultimately, there isn’t much wrong with that, except we still need to meditate, study (we both have a heavy-duty reading list to work through for some individual projects that we’re working on), exercise, and get things in order for the next day. Not to mention I need to be writing, and if I’m not writing, I’m working on editing projects for a writing collective of which I am a member.  (<— This sentence was brought to you by Not Ending a Full Stop With a Preposition.)

So I guess my big frustration right now is figuring out how to do all of the Important Things (cooking, cleaning, exercising, meditating, studying, etc.) without essentially driving ourselves bonkers in the process.

Fellow grown-ups! How do you do this? Drop a comment below- I’d love to get some tips!

P.S. Sorry this post was not done on Thursday. The week caught up with me.

It’s Banned Books Week!

 

Some of my personal favorites!

Some of my personal favorites!

When I was 15, my high school banned a book from being taught in the honors senior English classroom. In my hazy recollections, a parent had called and complained about the book, and one thing led to another, and the book was removed from the curriculum. I can’t remember what book it was, because it was banned for the senior classes and I was a mere freshman, but needless to say the book was never taught again. It was one of two books that would suffer that fate during my teenage years. Now, my parents were not really the censoring type. They paid close attention to my internet activities and what TV channels I watched, but as far as books were concerned, I was allowed to delve into whatever I wanted from the YA section of the bookstore (Which my parents took me to frequently. They bankrolled my literary addiction very generously). So it was a very foreign concept to me throughout most of my teenage years that a parent could call the school (that all-powerful institution that governed nearly everything) and have something removed from the curriculum purely because they didn’t want their kid to read it.

My interest in the matter might have dropped right then and there, if it weren’t for a collection of the district’s English teachers who banded together and decided that it was Not Okay for students whose parents were fine with the curriculum to not be able to learn from the novels that they were supposed to read. So they created an after-school club. Every other week, students could get permission slips signed and stay after school to read banned and contested books, and watch films that were meaningful but not generally considered appropriate for a high school audience.

I was one of the youngest participants in this group, and I cringe to think about what awful contributions I no doubt made as a freshman to this group of juniors and seniors (who, in truth, were a terrifyingly sophisticated group to be associating with). But I made a lot of close friends in that group that stuck, and grew even closer to one boy who (nearly 9 years later) I would marry. So in a superficial way, banned books are important to me. But it goes a bit deeper than that– banned books are typically banned because they’re honest. They tell hard truths, and they do it by giving the reader a perspective that may not be comfortable. How many of us would forget the the depravity of victim-blaming after reading Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita? Or the disgusting realities of deep racism if not for To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison? Even contemporary books that have been banned, like Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky have a meaningful place in the lives of the youth today who have read them; they are a voice to the soft spoken in a world that’s become increasingly cruel to youth. They deal with issues that, like it or not, teenagers are facing when they get up every day. And then there’s books like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley- they may not take place in a world that’s shaped like ours, but these books reach out and show us what the alternatives could be- they show us the dangerous parallels and why we need to maintain our voices in times where it would be easy to be silent. Banned Books are frequently silenced because they have a lot to say, and they’re worth listening to.

So use this week to take a look at some of the absolutely fantastic banned books available at your local library or independent bookstore. If you’d like some guidance, (and I am no expert) here are my top ten favorites:

 

1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green

3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

4. The Great Gatsby by Scott F Fitzgerald

5. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

6. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

7. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

8. All Quiet on the Western Front by Enrich Maria Remarque

9. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

 

Favorite Things Roundup: Fall Edition

So on the East Coast the weather is FINALLY changing. Seriously- I don’t know if I’m bitter about no longer being able to truly enjoy Summer Vacations, or the fact that I actually see what air conditioning does to an electric bill- but whatever it is, I just don’t enjoy the summer months the way that I used to. Of course, I say that knowing full well that most summers I hid in my parent’s basement spending hours on the internet. But anyway! Fall is here! Kind of! And that means that it’s time to bring out all of those fabulous fall favorites that I yearn to use all summer long.

Supergoop CC Cream

photo from Supergoop website

photo from Supergoop website

Supergoop is a product that I had never heard of before I started my Birchbox subscription, but has quickly become a staple in my daily routine. During the summer, I used Supergoop’s SPF Sunscreen religiously. Now that I no longer have to worry about my makeup melting off of my face, I can change my morning product rotation a bit- and it definitely includes this CC cream. It has essentially replaced my previous BB cream/concealer/foundation regimen that left my face looking caked in awfulness. I just throw a bit of this cream on and blend it with a stipple application brush, throw on some powder foundation, blend, and I’m done! It totally helps me to pretend like I got up early enough to do my makeup instead of laying in bed cuddling with the cats for that extra forty fifteen minutes.

Granted, the awesomeness comes with a definite price- it’s expensive, but totally worth the splurge.

 

Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizer 

Photo was grabbed from google images

Photo was grabbed from allure.com

 

The second that it starts to get cold, my skin begins to revolt. Seriously. Every year, by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I have cracked and bleeding knuckles purely from exposure to the cold. It’s gross. I’ve tried every lotion-related option that the drugstore has to offer, and this is the only option that works. It was recommended to me by my sister-in-law last winter, and it’s an absolute dream. Plus, it’s not greasy at all- which is a HUGE perk since there’s nothing more disgusting than grease marks on the keyboard at work.

 

Essie: Smokin’ Hot

smokin_hot

Photo from sleekhair.com

Okay so my favorite thing about fall is getting to pull out the rich colors- particularly purple, which just doesn’t have the same impact in its lighter spring and summer hues. This color by Essie (which is the only brand of nailpolish that I can use that will last more than half a day.) is my current obsession. I top it with Essie’s “No Chips Ahead” top coat for a manicure that sticks around a few extra days.

 

Merona Satchel Handbag (with removable crossbody strap)

merona bag

Photo from Polyvore

Part of the pain-in-the-butt-ness of being a recent college grad with loans and car payments and all that fun stuff is being effectively broke. That’s why basically this entire list except for the Supergoop can be purchased at your friendly neighborhood Target (#I’lltradeyoushamelessplugsforcreditdebtforgiveness). But I go to a lot of meetings for work, so I need my handbags to hold a lot of my crap that I can’t leave the house without (yes, this includes a 3-inch tall Batman plushie and five lipsticks that are all red. STOP JUDGING ME.) My favorite bags are always the Merona lines that Target sells, because they look pretty rocking for the weekends but are work-appropriate. Plus, the awesome front clasp on this bag is a fantastic statement.

Rimmel London Lasting Finish Lipstick in Bordeaux

2014-08-29 19.57.57

This photo is of me, by me. #selfienation

Since I’ve already revealed my lazy-as-hell makeup routine, I may as well let you in on the secret to my “put together” look; I play up the lip drama. I own a dozen different shades of red, coral, and burgundy lipsticks that I pull out whenever I’m feeling particularly sassy or (admittedly) when I need to distract people from the fact that my eyebrows desperately need to be done. My favorite color, and the one that I’ve desperately wanted to use for weeks now, is Rimmel’s Bordeaux color.

 

So now that the season is turning, what are your go-to fall favorites? Anything I should try? Tell me in the comments!

Changes

Clearly, I’ve neglected my blogging responsibilities over the last few months. But I promise, I had some fairly good reasons.

For example, in July I did this:

Photo courtesy of Jessica Catts Photography

Photo courtesy of Jessica Catts Photography

And then a few weeks after my husband and I moved out of the attic flat and into our new home:

2014-08-26 19.45.14

And then immediately thereafter our very kind friend Megan took care of Nacho and Charlie so that Jim and I could go on our honeymoon!

Whiteface Mountain, Adirondacks, NY

Whiteface Mountain, Adirondacks, NY

And then the day after we got back, we added another furry addition to our family!

Sophie being groomed by Charlie, who desperately just wanted her to stop nibbling on him.

Sophie being groomed by Charlie, who desperately just wanted her to stop nibbling on him.

That said, I thank you all for bearing with me during my absence. I’m hoping to return to a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule this week!

Small Space Living: Brightening Up

My fiance and I live in what is essentially a studio apartment; all of our living spaces (living room, closets, bedroom, office) are in one big room that is shaped like a baby “t.” We love the space; it’s just big enough for us and our two cats, and it’s bright with big windows.  We’d decided when we were furnishing the flat to keep all of the furniture in the same neutral palate; dark wood, gray furniture. This has allowed us to offset the quirkier knickknacks and decorative pieces that we’ve accumulated over time; namely, pops of color to bring a springtime feel into our home.

Most of the walls in the flat are white, but there are a few accent walls that we painted in Behr’s Embellished Blue.

We used pops of color to brighten our space.

We used pops of color to brighten our space.

Collected odds and ends for unique looks around the flat.

and collected odds and ends for unique looks around the flat.

My favorite pieces have been picked up here and there over the last year and a half-

Scrabble Coasters… 6.50 on Etsy (I bought mine at an art festival, but these are nearly identical)

Teal Geometric Tray… 19.99 at Target

Echeveria Planter, which I made by buying three different echeveria plants with different tones and planting them in a complimentary colored pot that I found.

Crosley Cruiser Record Play in Turquoise… 99.95 at Crosley (also sold at Urban Outfitters, which is where we got ours for about $60 on sale).

Gray Round Storage Ottomans… 34.99 at Target (We use one for storing blankets, and the other for storing toys for our niece)

‘Til Death Embroidery, which was an engagement gift from our friend Q

Refurbished Rocking chair, which was re-painted for about 10.00 (Porpoise from Behr)

Mercury Glass Fleur De Lis, which was a find at our local floral shop around Christmastime.

Black Retro Alarm Clock… 5.99 from Ikea