Friday, April 18, 2014

BRIDE DAY FRIDAY: WEDDING SITES I LOVE


Happy Good Friday everyone! I'm excited to be heading to the NY/NJ area tomorrow. Josh and I are going to see my brother and sister in law, hopefully my MOH, my cousin and her new baby and then celebrate Easter with my mom, aunt and uncle, other cousin and new fiance! #familyforthewin

In the meantime, I wanted to share some of my favorite wedding sites / resources with you. If you're planning your own wedding you know it's more like a full-time job than a fun hobby. It's great to gather ideas and tips wherever you can!


Style Me Pretty
Southern Weddings
Capitol Romance
Green Wedding Shoes
Pinterest Inspiration


Also, there is a flash sale today on Gilt.com just for weddings! You're welcome


Thursday, April 17, 2014

MOMENTS OF... IOWA

For my dad's 60th birthday I made him a video since I couldn't be with him. Then a few weeks later, I flew out to surprise him in Iowa for a visit / present. Yes, I did make my Aunt and two cousins wear shirts with my dad's face on them that I made. It was legendary. 

While there, we also celebrated my youngest cousin's 6th birthday. He is definitely the cutest Captain America I have ever seen. The (short) weekend was full of singing in the car, stealing my sister's clothes, putting play dough and icing on our faces, and generally being loud and goofy. It's how I roll and I love that my family rolls right along with me. :)
















Wednesday, April 16, 2014

STYLE ME SPRING


Striped shirt: Banana Republic (40% off in store) // Midi skirt: H&M // Earrings: Sworovski two years ago (gift from Josh) // Tennis Bracelet: Sworovski (gift from my Aunts) // Watch: Lucien Piccard via Gilt // Silver Cuff: Williamsburg Artist // Sandals: DSW three years ago (similar and similar)

Spring is here in DC! Or should I say it was here on Sunday when I was giddy to wear my new balletic skirt. We had weather of 85 degrees, the sun was out, a nice breeze was blowing and this girl was in absolute heaven. We're back to the 30's today but I'm optimistic that these cold days are on their way out. 

I'm no style maven but I love putting together and outfit that makes me feel like me. There is nothing better than much needed sun to motivate me to do just that. Not only did I feel confident in this outfit but it was incredibly affordable and comfortable. A double whammy! 



Nothing sponsored here, just wanted to share my favorite finds with you all in time for spring. This skirt is so light and airy. I recommend getting it up one size from your normal skirt as the waist sits higher and can be a little tight. Mine was just right when I went up the size. ;)

Happy spring!



Monday, April 14, 2014

FIRST TRIP TO DRY BAR

On Sunday I finally took the plunge and tried Dry Bar for the first time. Let me tell you, this was a long time coming. I had been hearing about Dry Bar from several friends and I originally thought it was a waste of money. But I am here to tell you I was so wrong. It was worth every penny!

So what is it? It's basically a salon where you get your hair washed and dried for forty bucks. But they are magicians. So you don't get it cut... so what? It's the best blow out you will have and this post wasn't sponsored a bit. I paid for my great hair and I loved it. 

 

From the time you walk up to the salon their branding is on point. (Sorry as a marketer I can't help but admire the through-line of their store and their products.) The bright cheery yellow and crisp white was refreshing. Plus their coordinating product names were adorable - all modeled after drink names but made hair related. I visited the Georgetown location and was lucky enough to get a parking spot around the corner from the salon. It was a stunning spring day in DC so I'm sure that helped my mood too. :)

Before getting my hair washed (and my scalp massage) I chatted with my stylist Ashley about what I wanted for my look. She was great about going through the look book they had with me and after I explained that my hair was fine and that I wanted a natural but voluminous look with some wavy curls she set to work. 

She washed my hair twice with their volumizing line and then used their volumizing conditioner (duh) and a very light leave in body spray. I don't use any product usually and sometimes when I visit a salon I come out looking like my hair is plastic but this stuff was great. I didn't even notice it was in there!



 

Ashley never used anything except a round brush and a blowdryer on my hair and it made all the difference. She was a magician and got so much body and movement into my hair. When I curl it at home (or at other salons) I've used a curling iron. It works but it makes my hair much heavier and more processed looking. Ashley's technique was much better. 

Before I show you the final product, my overall assessment is that Dry Bar is worth it. They take time on your blow dryed style and can use whatever product or tool (curling iron or straightener) your hair needs. It was nice to have someone work so carefully with me on my look. I haven't gotten that care at other salons. They focus on the cut but not the style. Dry Bar gets you ready for the day - two thumbs up from me!
 


Friday, April 11, 2014

BRIDE DAY FRIDAY: CREATING A VISION

Happy Friday everyone! Seriously, it's the best day of the week and I cannot wait to snuggle up on my couch tonight after work, watch some quality reality TV on TLC, do 456 loads of laundry, and hit the hay early. Heaven.

For now though, let's dig into an essential step of planning your own wedding. Chances are that since you've been through the budget conversation, landed on the size of your guest list, and started a venue search, you have already thought about what you want your wedding to look like. Now is the fun part... get on Pinterest, buy 10 magazines at CVS and start making a collage, and just sit back and day dream about what you envision for your wedding.

Creating a vision board (whether online, in hard copy, or in your head) that you and your fiance can agree on and get excited about is key. This will help you pick vendors and have some direction when you begin to make decisions on decor. That will come in time. For now, just find images that really speak to you and colors. What colors do you and your fiance love?

While he might not want to look at bridal magazines, I suggest showing your fiance images you are cutting out and asking him what he likes and doesn't like. I know Josh really wanted to be included in all decisions and though most of the time he is quiet... if he hates something, he let me know!

For my wedding I'm not quite as crazy as grown sexy but after looking at my pinterest board vision I think playful romance really captures what Josh and I would like for our wedding. We want fun, relaxed, dinner and dancing with soft details and a romantic touch.

Which of the below images do you gravitate towards?

Playful
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Outdoorsy
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Modern
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Classic
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Romantic
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

WORK & PLAY WITH BREE RYBACK

I'm so excited to launch my Work & Play series where I get to talk to some amazing women who have full-time jobs, blog, raise kids, design, start their own companies, get married, renovate their living space, and just generally kick butt at living each moment of life. 

There are so many different paths to take in life and I can't wait to see how some of the people who inspire me most choose to navigate their own courses. 

For our first guest, I'm thrilled to welcome Bree Ryback of Capitol Romance. I had heard about Bree's amazing site for real DC weddings long before my own engagement but of course over the last few months I have been pouring over the beautiful pictures and DIY advice she provides. In fact, our own engagement story was featured on the blog - it was pretty much heaven and such an honor!

Next month I'll be attending Bree's first DIY Wedding Workshop and I cannot wait. If you're in the DC area on May 4th you should join us. Get your tickets here!

Bree was so kind to let me interview her for this piece. I hope you find her answers as insightful as I do. And don't forget to head over and check out her work when you're done reading. I apologize in advance for the time you might lose oogling gorgeous, real weddings. :)


SIM: What was your vision for Capitol Romance when you were first starting the site?

BR: My vision was to create a space for couples that felt overwhelmed or "left out" of the traditional DC wedding scene. I wanted to provide couples with not only inspiration, but resources to help them plan their wedding. I wanted Capitol Romance to be a sort of community where people could help each other, and together we could change the DC wedding landscape to be less traditional, and more focused on personalized details, not just money.


SIM: What is one key tip you have for working a full-time job and running your own website?

BR: One key tip would have to be my calendars. I keep an editorial calendar to keep the blog on track, and I write down ALL my engagements in a paperback daily planner. I can't survive without either of those calendars. Everything in my life is planned right now - and it just has to be that way when you attempt to juggle a full-time job AND a side business.



SIM: How did you begin to monetize your site?

BR: Most blogs turn to advertising as a way to monetize the site, and that is something I launched fairly recently. I'd say monetizing the blog is my #1 struggle and hurdle - how do I make money from this space/community I've created without hurting my brand? It's something I haven't quite, yet, figured out. But I've also tried to use the brand I've created through the blog to launch money-makers outside of the website (i.e., starting a side wedding coordination business and now the DIY Wedding Workshops that I recently launched). I'm attending a workshop this fall that I hope will help me with getting more ideas for balancing the blog and making money from it.


SIM: As a woman, how do you balance life and work obligations?

BR: This is something that always interests me as I feel like men don't often get this question as much, as they aren't necessarily expected to maintain this balance, but I won't start a gender war here, so personally for me, I try to keep a balance by making sure I plan time to be as present in life as I am with work. This means taking time to exercise (I'm currently training for a 1/2 marathon!), walking my dog, cooking dinner, spending Friday nights on the couch watching a movie with my husband, and planning dinners/happy hours with friends. As I mentioned above, it's not always easy to be spontaneous in my life, but by planning and scheduling things in advance, I can maintain this balance - and it works for me. I am not afraid to turn off email and say to myself "I'll answer this tomorrow, it can wait". I think some business owners tend to lose focus sometimes on what's truly important. Sometimes the more important choice is to shut off your phone, and watch the Walking Dead season finale with your spouse :)



SIM: What is your favorite thing about working in Washington, D.C.?


BR: The people! Hands down, my favorite thing about being a small business owner in DC has been meeting so many awesome and DIFFERENT people! DC is full of people from all different places and all different backgrounds, and I've gotten to meet so many people as clients, fellow wedding vendors, and other inspiring small business owners. DC usually gets a bad rep as a place where people only care about what you do (in a career sense), and not who you are or what you can offer. Recently though, I haven't found that at all. If people really want to escape that stigma, then maybe they need to head into the local scene and connect with the inspiring small business owners - the food makers at Union Kitchen or the creative vendors at DC MEETMarket & Fenton Street Market or even just any local business owner. Those are the real people of DC and they are totally what makes being here, so so awesome. I love DC :)


Thank you again to Bree and I hope to see you all at the workshop on May 4th!

Friday, April 4, 2014

BRIDE DAY FRIDAY: LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

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Welcome to another installment of Bride Day Friday. Still working our way through the big three, I promise it gets easier after this. As Aladdin would say, "Do you trust me?"

So, you've got a pretty good idea of the guest list, you handled your money convos like a pro and have a solid budget, and now you are ready to book the space and the date. You go!

First, pick the season / month in which you would like to get married. Chances are, by this point you and your fiance already have a good idea of when this will be. The more specific you can be the better. Have a date you love or that is meaningful to you? Heart set on a certain month? Great, then only consider venues that are available on those dates.

If you're like me, you have a more general season in mind. We had our hearts set on the fall in Virginia. Since another good friend of mine is getting married in October and selfishly I didn't want to get married on my birthday, we settled on September or November. Excellent - ten months down two to go. Celebrate each step toward a decision. ;)

Once you know when you'd like to tie the knot, next decide where. In your home town and in Hawaii are very different things. Both are ok, just narrow it down to a 25 mile radius, it will make your research on what's available in that area so much more efficient.

Now you've got the general time frame and general location for your wedding. Winning. From this point, you will fall into one of two categories: Smart or Ambitious. See what I did there? Either way, it's a good thing. :)

Things to consider with a venue:
  • Date - Time of year, day of the week, time of day
  • Setting - Indoor, outdoor, formal, rustic
  • Capacity - How many people can fit seated? Standing?
  • Base Price - How much does the space alone cost to rent (not including food / alcohol)?
  • Inclusions - What comes with the base rental price? Do they provide tables, chairs, staff, bartenders, etc?
  • Catering Options - How much does the catering cost? Can you use your own catering company if the venue's option is too expensive?


Smart: Your wedding ceremony and reception will be at the same stunning location.
You brilliant woman you, life just got easier. Since your wedding will all be at one amazing location, your research will be a little bit less complicated.

Phase I
Start with your time frame and your 25-mile radius and get on Google. Just look at websites, people are honest and post pictures and that makes it easy to get a sense of places before you go.

Phase II
For the 10-15 places you like from pics and reviews, email or call and ask the representative to send you some financial / catering information and see if they are available on your dates. Throw out ones that are way too expensive and don't give it a second thought. The right one will be there, don't waste time on the wrong ones!

Phase III
Slap your top 4-8 venues (within your budget) into a spreadsheet and set up an in-person visit. When you go to visit take lots of pictures and see how well you get along with the wedding coordinator there. You will be working with her closely so if you find her annoying take that into consideration. You want to love your POC because she will be your best friend. Make sure you ask what is required to reserve the date! Don't want to lose it while you are considering options before signing a contract. :)



Ambitious: Your wedding ceremony will be at a religious institution and then you and all your guests will travel to a different, yet equally awesome reception location. 
Don't worry. You will be fine. This is actually what Josh and I are doing. Having a Catholic Mass is really important to us so we're gonna do two locations.

You will be doing phases I-III as well, but you have a pre-phase... CHECK WITH YOUR RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION about when they are available. This is essential. There are different rules and procedures at each church and synagogue etc. Please please please prioritize this step before you get your heart set on a certain reception venue.

Or choose your reception venue first and then pick the nearest house of worship that you like. This, much like your navigation of the big three comes down to priority. If you have your heart set on a specific barn and you don't care what church you get married in, then book the barn and see what churches are available after that.

However, if you must get married in your home parish or your Grandma's church, get those dates / restrictions first and work from there. You'll be happy with both your efficiency of research and making sure you only look at venues that work with that church.


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