I've Done Some Really Stupid Sh!t This Year

Friday, August 22, 2014

Maybe not the year as a whole, and maybe it wasn't all that stupid, but things have been a little crazy around here to say the least. Let's review, shall we?

1. Graduated from College: I finished school in December but my school doesn't have a ceremony in the winter, so I walked in May
I'm second from the left, in case you didn't know. 
2. Got married: Yup. Two months after finishing school I walked down the aisle. Planning a wedding while finishing your degree and capstone project is not any fun. Like, at all.

3. Went on My First Cruise: If you know me and my anxiety, you know why this is a big deal. Turns out, I loved it! We had a wonderful honeymoon traveling and can't wait to go on another.

4. Got a Job!: This one speaks for it self. After six months of searching I was hired in June and I love every minute of it. Talk about lucky and blessed! (I'm a radio news reporter, in case the office confuses you)

5. Bought a House: This is a more recent development. We moved in less than a month ago but we love it here.

6. Got Furbaby #2: Yes! We brought little Bo home just a few days after we moved in. I'll expand on how he came to us (really, we weren't looking), but for now here's some adorable pictures of our latest addition :) He's a beautiful silver lab. Pictures really don't do his coat and eyes justice. I could stare at him all day!

And he really loves his big brother, Trigger :) Maybe a bit too much. Trigger puts up with it though! 

We're home!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

You may recall about two months ago I mentioned we were buying a house. The actual buying process (i.e. figuring out mortgage stuff, satisfying the bank, etc.) took a lot longer than we thought. We didn't end up closing until July 29 (aka the day before we had to have our keys turned in to our apartment managers), three weeks later than we were expecting to.
To say it was stressful would be an understatement. We loaded all we could in a box truck, our cars, my parents cars, my siblings cars, etc. and pretty much were left with a mattress on the floor and the clothes we were wearing the next few days.
Tuesday the 29th I switches shifts so I was off work at 1 pm, Cam took the day off, and we were at the title agency to close on our home by 3. We had the keys in our hands and were on our way to start moving in by 3:45.
Needless to say, not everything got done that night. Everything is still not unpacked, I think there are 4-6 totes tucked away in closets I haven't even cracked open yet. In the next few weeks we are having some cracks in the ceilings patched and then the ceilings sprayed/refinished, so there really is no point to getting stuff out when it would just be something else to work around when the painting time comes.
We have a special connection with this home. In 1956, the year before my mom was born, my grandparents built this home. They're children (my grandpa and his sister) were grown and having babies of their own, so they built the home they'd stay in for the rest of their lives. My great grandpa passed away, then about ten years later my great grandma followed. My great aunt (grandpa's sister) then moved in around 1995 once her children were all grown and out of her care. My great aunt passed away earlier this year and in the interest of keeping it in the family, her daughter offered it to us.
This home has been a huge blessing. There has never been children or animals living here, so it's in great condition with just light wear and tear. There were a few minor things the home inspector identified, but nothing big. Cosmetically, it's another story. One room is yellow, one room is mint, a few rooms are blue, one room was pink, there is blue carpet, pink carpet and cream carpet. It's a rainbow, and not a good one. The pink carpet is already gone (thank goodness for hardwood underneath!) and the walls are soon to follow when the ceilings are done.
There's a million and one little things to do, but nothing we can't handle on our own. We are so, so grateful we were able to afford this beautiful house and keep it in the family where it belongs.

Hopefully I'll get around to taking some "before" pictures. I'll surely keep you updated on our DIYs!

Wedding: Not To Do's

Thursday, August 7, 2014

As with all things, there are always things that go wrong with wedding planning. Also, I felt it was only appropriate to include outtakes/blooper pictures in the "not to do" post. Please enjoy/laugh at my lack of photogenic-ness.

Do Not:
1. Leave for Your Honeymoon Six Hours After the Reception
-I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that my biggest regret was leaving for our honeymoon immediately after the wedding reception. Instead of having fun and enjoying himself, Cameron spent the entire time watching the clock to make sure we were out of there by 11:30 PM.
Instead of spending time with our family (a lot of whom came from out of town) the next day we were already on our way to Miami to leave for our cruise.
Specifically we left the reception at 11:30, got back to our apartment and changed and were on the road to Columbus to get to the airport by 12:30 and were on an airplane at 6 a.m. We regretted it pretty much immediately because we were exhausted and we didn't get to see or spend time with much of the family that had come from so far away to be with us on our wedding day.

2. Forget to Plan for Cleanup
-I felt so bad when my mom asked me what the plans were for cleanup the next day. I realize that I hadn't asked the venue or any of the vendors when stuff would be cleaned up and what the families' responsibilities would be. Therefore I jetted off on the honeymoon and left my family with the burden of cleanup. They said it went well but I still felt guilty.

Ew boobs.
3. Just Try on a Dress
-I addressed, this in my last post, but I really ended up hitting my dress by the end of the night. It looks so great and so perfect in the majority of our before ceremony pictures, but by the end of the night I had the big boob fold that I dread so much. Future brides be warned: try sitting, standing, moving around, running, jumping, posing, dancing, etc. in your dress before you pick it!

We did a dollar dash instead of a dollar dance and I ran out of room in my hands for my dollars so I had to use my dress. Classy, I know.
4. Choose Any Old Vendor
-Talk about stressful. There are a whopping four florists in my entire hometown. Therefore we went with the nicest and highest priced ones, but I didn't trust my florist. She was so forgetful and didn't even remember meeting me at our second meeting and I had to relay the information that I had already given her. And what I ended up with was flowers that I didn't even like. Sure they were pretty but they weren't what I asked for.
The photographer was another battle. If you've been following along you'll know that before my wedding, she and her husband split and they owned the photography business together. A month before the wedding I couldn't even get a hold of her. And as it turns out she had moved three hours away and didn't let me know. She still came back for the wedding but was terrible to communicate with. And of course as you know, it took five months to get my wedding pictures back. She didn't respond to my texts, phone calls, or emails. No bueno.
Our venue required us to us their food/drinks and every bride's worst nightmare came true: they ran out of food. Even though 50 fewer people than RSVPd actually showed up, they still ran out.

I get a little invested when Ice Ice Baby comes on...
5.  Freak About RSVPs 
-If you've been married, or even ever been to a wedding, you know that RSVPing is incredibly important. We had less than a third of our gas, 100 of the 300, RSVP by the RSVP date. It felt like a burden (and I felt like I was burdening our guests) when I had to start calling guess to see if they were coming or not. And as it turned out a lot of those people that I called who said they would be there weren't. Including some family members.
I learned the hard way that you can't be mad about this, can't stress about it, or be upset. It's going to happen no matter what. I was terribly offended by this, but apparently RSVPing is a lost art in our culture today. 

6. Be Bothered by Etiquette (or lack thereof)
-this goes hand-in-hand with the law start of RSVPing. People showed up to our almost a black-tie wedding in jeans. I wasn't necessarily offended, but I thought it was pretty common knowledge that you don't wear jeans to two events: weddings and funerals. Just little things like this and RSVPing our little examples of things that used to be important but aren't anymore.

One of my guy friends was dancing on me, dropped it low and brought it back up and brought the majority of my dress with him, hence the look on my face.
7. Be Your Mother's Hostess
-my mom is a certified "hostess with the mostest." She strived to me before the wedding how important it was that I talked to everyone and was a good hostess. We made a point of dismissing all the  pews at church so we could see each and everyone of those people. At the reception I wanted to make it around to all the tables, but our schedule got thrown off by quite a bit because of an unknown speech and I wasn't able to. My mother was appalled but I was glad because I had at least talked to all these people at the church. 
Lesson being: don't feel like you have to be a hostess the whole night. It's your night.

Wedding: To Do's

Monday, July 28, 2014

Our wedding day was exactly what I expected it to be and more. Was it perfect? No. Were there things I would have done differently? Yes.
In an effort to help future brides, here are a few things I would recommend.

To Do:
1. Have a Coordinator (or two)
-This doesn't mean hire someone. I asked brother's girlfriend and my mom's best friend to be those people. I gave them lists with all our vendors and their names and phone numbers, I gave them lists of what needed to go where. There were a few decorations that were used at both the ceremony and the reception and we knew we'd need someone we trusted to transport them. Thankfully we had those people to do that.

2. Flexible Timeline
-We did a first look so we could get all the wedding party/bride and groom pictures done before hand. This was key! We allotted the time between 12:30 and 3:30 for getting ready, our first look and group pictures. We had plenty of time and some leftover even though we didn't get pictures started until almost 2 p.m.

(If you zoom in on the gray sheet, you can see the timeline I gave to everyone in our bridal party, parents and coordinators)
3. Understand It's Not a Performance
-Not kidding I'm a perfectionist and a control freak. I wasn't a bridezilla, but I wanted it to just go how I planned. Rehearsal dinner was a reality check. The guys were goofing off, the girls weren't there on time, the mics weren't working so we couldn't hear the pastor's instructions, etc. Just bad thing after bad thing after bad thing. It sobered me up and I realized: this is not going to go as I planned. I also realized: that's okay.

4. Unity Cross
-I talked about this in last week's post, but I loved our Unity Cross. It was my favorite part of our ceremony and it was unique. It's not like unity sand or a unity candle that's just kind of there. This means something and every time I look at it I am reminded.

5. Infinity Dresses
-The bridesmaids dresses were Henkaa dresses and they were a great success. Each girl had the same dress but tied it a different way, however they were most comfortable. For my bachelorette party they all brought their dresses and decided how they'd be tying them for the wedding. Some of them were too long still so we just used a good pair of shears and cut the bottoms. My sisters each wore big necklaces to signify that they were maids of honor.

It was colder than Antartica, pretty much.
6. Emergency Kits
-Not for actual emergency, but wedding-type emergencies. I bought bags from this Etsy shop and filled them with stuff. The bags were well priced and great quality! And I got them super quickly because I kinda decided to do this last minute. Q-tips, tissues, safety pins, straws, snacks, water bottles, nail files, wipes, hair spray, bobby pins, band aids, stain remover, static remover, and more things of that nature I can't remember. I gave them to them the night of my bachelorette stuff along with a bracelet for each of them to wear for the wedding. Also, instead of having the bachelorette the weekend before we had it two weeks before. This was a lot less stress and gave me the weekend before to work on last minute stuff.

A crappy cell phone picture from the bacheloretty evening. My cousin was sick hence my sister holding two bags.
7. Videographer
-I wasn't sure if it was worth the price, but I'm so glad we hired a videographer. My parents told me that's the one thing they wished they would've had, so that pushed me toward the yes side. It was a little less than my photographer so basically it was paying that fee twice (ouch). But the way I saw it, those are the things you should splurge on because the photos and video are all that's left after the wedding day.  Our videographer did an awesome job and we love our video. We got to pick our music and the package we wanted, just like with a photographer. We chose the package that did a little pre-wedding, the whole ceremony, then a mix of the toasts, dances and party stuff at the end. It suited us perfectly and the end product was a little under two hours long. Definitely recommend!

Our photographer taking a picture of our videographer. How cool is that?
Our wedding video trailer. We got this before our actual video as a little preview.

8. Soldering Rings Before the Ceremony
-I chose two wedding bands. I liked the idea of a wrap that went on both sides of the engagement ring, but I couldn't find one I liked so I sort of made my own. Typically you put the wedding bands on at ceremony, but we just put on the whole set. It doesn't really matter either way. Plus, since we left for our honeymoon the day after the wedding, I didn't want to worry about keeping track of three bands the whole trip.

9. Instagram Hashtag
- I know the hashtag thing can be really overused. For us, it was awesome. We used our usual, #freedatlast14 (freedatlast was taken by people posting about getting out of prison...awkward). We got so many cool photos from Instagram shots our friends uploaded! It was lots of different angles and things the photographers didn't get to see. Plus our friends were there later for when things started to get a little weird.

My talented little sister made a bunch of these chalkboard-like signs out of cheap 99-cent Hobby Lobby foam poster board, chalk board markers, and a Hobby Lobby empty frame (use those 50% off sales!) we painted silver.
10. Favor Donation
-In lieu of favors, we made a donation to my best friend's memorial scholarship fund in honor of our guests. Instead of food or some little trinket people probably wouldn't even use again, we felt this was a good way to make some actual use out of wedding favors. On The Knot I actually read posts from wedding guests who were angry the bride and groom donated in their honor. First, it's their wedding. Second, quit being selfish. The fact that you are expecting a favor is wrong to begin with. Just be grateful.

Of course, I learned not to do a lot of things. Post on that coming soon :)
PS- have I mentioned how thrilled I am to finally be sharing this stuff with you? Five months is a LONG time to wait for pictures (I didn't want the posts to be boring) and I'm probably forgetting a lot because of that time.

Wedding Day: The Details

Friday, July 25, 2014

One of my favorite parts of the wedding planning was the little details. I tried not to be too cliche with everything. I wanted it to be unique. One of the things I enjoy least about weddings is going to one and thinking, "Oh, I saw that on Pinterest."
Instead, I created as much as I could on my own.

Theme: Freed at Last

I created all the wedding paper products myself. We used the theme "Freed at Last" across the board. Yes, a little cheesy since it's my blog theme, but it's been our thing longer than it's been a blog title. It was also the name of our signature drink at the reception.

Shoes: TOMS wedges
I knew I didn't want heels because I can't walk in them well/it was February, but I wanted some height. I ordered these TOMS and they were perfect. The beautiful color matched my wedding colors (blush and gray) perfectly, were easy and comfortable and duh, TOMS are for a good cause!

The Bracelet

This bracelet holds so much meaning. Manu and Papa are what we call my mom's parents (long story short my oldest cousin/the first grandchild couldn't say grandma and it came out Manu apparently and it stuck). My grandparents bought me and my sisters and the rest of the granddaughters individual pearls for Christmas for years until individual pearls became hard to find. My sisters and I decided as our something borrowed for one and other's weddings, we'd string all of ours together to make a bracelet. When I took the pearls in to have them strung the jeweler was amazed. He said people didn't string pearls anymore and it was practically a lost art (AKA it was going to be expensive).

The Garter
I was surprised when my aunt asked if she could make my garter. As far as I knew she didn't normally make garters but I said yes because I was excited she offered. When she gave this to me after rehearsal dinner, it was hard to avoid the tears. It was my something old, new, borrowed and blue all in one. The Old: the white flower at the top was made from linen from my great-great grandmother's handkerchief. The New: the garter itself. The Borrowed: a piece of our invitation made into a little charm. The Blue: a piece of felted yarn from one of my grandma's many projects.

 The Bouquet Charms
Something that was really important to me was making sure my my best friend and my late grandpa (whom I never met) were honored on our big day. I ordered these charms from this Etsy shop. They are great quality charms and looked perfect on my flowers. It was a subtle, but heartwarming way to honor the two people who couldn't be there for our day. 

The Unity Cross
No sand or candles for us. I didn't want a jar of sand or a half-burnt candle on our mantle for the rest of our lives. I found the Unity Cross on Pinterest and knew I had to have it. It is such a staple in our home now and a great conversation piece. First Cameron put his piece on the base, then I put my piece inside his. There is a lot of meaning behind each piece (which you can read about on their site), and then they were joined by three pin-like nails, signifying so many things: the father, son and holy spirit; the three nails by which Jesus was nailed to the cross; the cord of three which the Lord says cannot be broken; etc. 
This was one of the most symbolic and important parts of the ceremony to me. It meant a lot to me and still does. That cross sits as a centerpiece in our home and reminds me daily of our commitment to one another and the Lord.

Our Canvas Guestbook
Instead of a guestbook that would've certainly sat on a shelf and never been looked at again, we took one of our gorgeous engagement pictures and made a canvas print. People signed around us with nice silver and gold pens and now it's hung as art in our home. The downside to this? Not everyone knew they were supposed to sign it. I think some people thought it was just there to be displayed and didn't see signatures. I figured it'd be pretty self explanatory so I didn't make a sign or anything directing people to sign it. Guess I was wrong because we had maybe 50 of our 200 guests sign it.

There was a lot of other small, handmade details to our wedding but these are the things that stood out the most to me and I'd recommend to any other bride.