Friday, May 29, 2015

Things I would Keep & Change about Our Wedding

Thank y'all so much for all of the positive feedback on my last post! I'm so glad I said something so that I could get to "meet" a few of y'all. If you haven't heard back from me already, I'm working through responding to everyone today! Thank you SO much sweet people!!!!

Bottom Line: I loved our wedding. Every single second of it. This past week I actually watched back our wedding ceremony with a friend, and it was so sweet to look back and still remember feeling like everything was perfect. However, I thought it might be helpful/fun to look back on our day and make note of a few things I learned from having a wedding of my very own, as opposed to from reading online or observing other weddings. I genuinely can't believe that this day was two and a half years ago.. and the engagement portrait below was 3 years ago! WOW!


Engagement Photos:
We actually traveled to Austin to take our photos with our amazing photographer, Caroline. If I could only keep one thing about our wedding the same (besides my groom, of course!) it would be the decision to have her shoot our wedding.

Keep:
I LOVED taking a little day trip with Ben for these photos. It was really fun for us to get out of town during the crazy season of wedding planning, and truly enjoy our session. It was really sweet.

Change:
I remember trying to be frugal and use what I had for photo outfits, which is totally great and fine.. but I changed my mind last minute and ended up running out and choosing the first dress I didn't hate. I do like it, but if I would have researched like I usually do with things, I might have actually ended up saving more $$ and ending up with something I'd been happier with. In this case, the dress I purchased was from LOFT, a retailer that has 40% off sales every weekend or every other weekend. I got this dress during the week because I was on a time crunch.. no discount.



We chose to get married at the church Ben grew up in, that I attended in high school. The only problem was that it isn't a very attractive space. And beautiful photos were a huge priority for me. The house pictured above belongs to Ben's aunt and uncle. It's just two blocks away from our current home, and about a minute away from the church. It's beautiful and Southern.. my favorite! One day inspiration struck and we decided to have all the girls get ready at the Thomas home, and to do our first look and all the portraits there. One of the best decisions we made! Aunt Cathy took such good care of us, and feeling the comforts of home leading up to our big day was incredibly sweet to me. If you're dissatisfied with the outer appearance of where you're getting married, I highly recommend looking into an alternate portrait venue.


We got married at 3pm, meaning our first look was at 12:30. The whole morning I just wanted to savor the time getting ready with everyone, and I ended up not having time to write Ben's wedding day letter. Worst wife ever, I know. If you think your schedule might be tight or you know yourself. Write it the day before. It will still be sweet. :) This notecard is literally still in my nightstand drawer. I'll save it for our 5th or 10th anniversary or something.


I let Ben pick out my wedding shoes and surprise me with them day of. I realize this could have gone really wrong.. but in our case, it went WAY right. :)


Just a note: wearing a veil was what made me really feel like a bride. :)


Put your MOH first on the hairdo schedule. Sweet Lucy looked beautiful in every shot of our video and in photos, but it ended up she got her hair done last, and so she was left with normal hair in some shots. It doesn't bother me at all, but I would hate it if she ever felt weird about that. It could have been eliminated with some extra thought though.




While on the topic of my sweet MOH, the morning of our wedding she stitched my new monogram into my dress. It was last minute but is one of my favorite details of the day. She completed the monogram first thing in the morning and then stitched it into the dress once our photographer was there to record the sweet moment.


Being lead in prayer with my bridesmaids by my highschool/college/forever mentor was one of the sweetest parts of the day, and it was a great way to include Christy in our day. She also played the piano, but I loved getting to see her before walking down the aisle and to bring our focus to Jesus before the big shebang!



I had saved some wedding inspiration throughout college, it was one image of bridesmaids with their arms linked, all wearing crochet shawls. I am so pleased that we chose to order them for our bridesmaids, I think it really completed the look. And kept them warm! You wouldn't know looking at photos.. but it was freezing! And just a few days before there was snow on the ground.


I didn't realize it was true until the morning of our wedding.. but I'll never forget our sweet photographer commenting on what a classic bride I was. The strand of pearls I was gifted by my hubby morning of really added to that, too! I might have chosen slightly differently now, but I am so thankful I didn't go overly trendy. I'll always be attracted to different gown styles, but I think what I ended up with was truly timeless.


Because our venue wasn't exactly beautiful, I'm really glad we invested in a few personal details that really made it special. Example: overly expensive VW van cake. :)


I used our wedding as a shameless excuse to purchase this beautiful canvas. It now hangs in our home and is one of our most complimented pieces.


This week my friend Susan told me that her favorite detail of our wedding was that we had a violinist. I'm so glad we got connected with Ashley, because the strings really formalized the feel of our mostly laid back affair.


I love that we got to include several subtle family shout outs during our reception!


One of the perks of choosing the church over a formal venue is that we had an unlimited guest list. We gave our parents the freedom to invite whoever they wanted, and I invited pretty much everyone and anyone that I wanted. This isn't for everyone, but we loved being surrounded by such a large and varied support system. I wish I could go back and relive having so many special people gathered together.



We included the Aggie War Hymn in our reception.. and it was such a blast. So glad we included it!


My cousins from England who I rarely see made the trip for our wedding. So thankful for that! I wish they had been included in formal portraits. It's an error 100% on me.. but because of the distance it would have been sweet to take advantage of it. We do have the photo below, from the rehearsal. It's one of my all-time favorites, because it was the first time my Nanny saw all four of her grandchildren at once. She's seen us in different combinations, but never all together!


You can find more details and posts from our wedding here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Friday No. Nine

I've really enjoyed sharing my random thoughts in blog posts, but I've actually been thinking of moving them over for Wednesdays. For me, Fridays always start with breakfast at the local "diner" (not really a diner but I don't know what else to call a small town, family feel eatery) with my father in law, brother in law, and Ben. Then I often get a workout in before the rest of the day's events. Usually Fridays are busy and I think it might just work better to share on Wednesdays. What do y'all think? :)

Lately I've been kind of confused about the future of my blog in general. I love recording little things and creating a sweet online scrapbook to look back on, and I've been so blessed by so many opportunities over the past few years to connect with others. It is my genuine hope that you're encouraged by what you read here... but over the last few months I've noticed a real drop in my ability to meaningfully connect with readers here, and over instagram. I know it's silly.. but it makes me sad to think that someone's reading on the other end that I don't get a chance to get to know well! The last few months have been chock full of uncertainty for us, and I'm sure that's been evident in my blog content. But if you're out there.. tell me hello!

Anyways..

I've been 1000% wedding obsessed over the past few months. After our own wedding, I thought my desire to constantly view beautiful weddings and more importantly, beautiful love stories would falter. If anything, as my comfort in my marriage has grown, I've anticipated weddings more and more. If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time at all, you know my wedding publication of choice is Southern Weddings. They recently shared their new office space and it's so incredibly beautiful. This is me, wishing it was normal to hang wedding photos of strangers above my desk. (Monkey with hands covering eyes emoji!)

Another reason I've been especially excited about weddings lately is these two..


Isn't this image by Mary Clare Photography gorgeous? YEP. IT IS.

These two are so stinking perfect for each other and I'm just thrilled to be a part of their big day.


In other, still sort of wedding related news... my talented friend Meredith Teasley launched her new website today! She's an amazing photographer in Nashville. Go check it out!! :)

Does anyone have any tips on packing for long trips in small bags? I've considered trying to pack only carry on for our trip to Italy in two weeks. I've made my packing list and honestly feel like I want to take a majority of dresses.. and rolling them up I might be able to pull it off. It's all my toiletries that kill me! Even simplified.. and shoes!

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday No. Eight



I am filled with so much gratitude for this sweet man lately! Last week I was really sick, and there's just been a lot of drama floating in and out which has had me like (whining emoji). A perfect example of why he is precious: last Wednesday night in the middle of the night I woke up needing medicine and woke him up instinctually and said "I need medicine" and he literally got up and appeared at my bedside with several options and a fresh water. No complaints. He didn't even mention it in the morning. Love you precious Benjamin Luke!!! End cheesy.

Ps. The photo above was taken in honor of the first few cherries popping up on our cherry tree! Yay! Also, you may notice Ben is holding an Ihop mug. We went there one time and Ben realized the mug was his ideal size and shape. The next time we went we had this sweet, high school age waiter and I asked him if there was any way we could buy one. He said "well, no.. but I don't think anyone would notice if it disappeared if you catch my drift..." we figured if we left him a 50% tip that would cover our conscience and now that mug is used almost daily because Ben loves it so much!

I really enjoyed reading 31 Things You Didn't Know About J. Crew. Both Ben and I love our J. Crew clothes! I've thought a lot recently about pursuing a classic style that will keep me from needing to purchase new things in the future, simply due to trends. I wouldn't say that I dress very trendy, but I'm sure I can improve in this area.


I've been a fan of Taylor Swift since her first album. I remember reading on her myspace that she finally decided to stop straightening her hair to impress boys and relating to her so much. I love how she's evolved and I'll always love all of her music. Her new video is beyond amazing. Literally the coolest girl ever. Taylor, let's be besties.

I am so excited to have finally snagged a "Redemption for All" tee! Not only is the shirt ethically made, but it's declaring a message of hope that I am praying will provide opportunities to share the gospel when I wear it. In high school and college when I was crossing paths with so many more people each day, I feel like I was constantly getting opportunities to share with others. I miss that deeply. Just a small little step towards a change, hopefully!

I am LOVING this book. This year has brought a few good coffee table books into my life. Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home and Camille Styles Entertaining.. couldn't recommend highly enough!

What are y'all up to this weekend? Ben and I are headed to The Colonial with our good friend Susannah, and enjoying some R&R! :) 

Monday, May 18, 2015

My Favorite Tone It Up Videos

I've loved sharing a little bit about how I've fallen in love with Tone it Up! I don't like going to my gym during busy times or doing too much other than cardio there (in front of other people- eek!) I know that's silly, but being able to do these incredible toning workouts from my home as been so empowering. I've gotten workouts in at random times that I for sure wouldn't have been able to make it to the gym. Each week I follow the "Weekly Schedule" (loosely) but I thought it might be fun to share the links to my all time favorite workouts! Yay- enjoy!

















Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Salt Lake City

Doing research for our upcoming trip has made me have a newfound appreciation for people who clearly state their travel tips and recommendations in their blog posts! :) I thought it would be fun to recap some of the cities we've spent time in, and share the places we'd return to if we could!


We went to Salt Lake City because we had flyer miles that would cover the cost of the trip.. so why not? It was a totally random destination but we honestly really enjoyed our trip there! It was a part of the country that neither of us had ever visited.. so we loved that!



Where we stayed: The Little America Hotel (it was great!)




Eva's 
This fun, beautiful place was our introduction to tapas! And to brussel sprouts that were yummy and not scary. We sat in the outdoor courtyard and it was beautiful and intimate.



Eva's Boulangerie 
By the same owners as Eva's.. we loved this yummy bakery! Ben enjoyed a coffee and anywhere with french pastries.. YES!

Market Street Grill 
We ate here twice during our few day adventure and had literally no shame about it. Our first night we each ordered a full dinner entree (I had delicious scallops!) and from what I remember any order comes with a clam chowder appetizer. We fell in love with that and came back the next night for just soup and the great atmosphere.



I would also suggest a day trip to Park City! We spent the day in the mountains and it was really neat. We went to the Olympic park and watched a show of the skiers and snowboarders and it was a great way to spend a day soaking in our surroundings. The day we were there there was also some kind of a food festival, so that was fun too!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Planning Kristen's Bridal Shower


After having the theme of Kristen's bridal shower on my mind for a few weeks.. inspiration struck! I was browsing pinterest last week when I came across this image... and it hit me! The only idea/image I had so far was of galvanized tubs filled with ice and fancy diet coke bottles. Kristen LOVES her diet coke, so I thought this would be a fun detail to include! But we couldn't exactly have a diet coke themed bridal shower.. although it may actually have been done.. yikes! But that image will fit with what we picked..

A bridal shower fiesta sounded perfect! I wasn't sure if I was crazy to think this would be cute, but after a few texts to another one of our friends, and a call to my mother in law... we're researching where to order pinatas! Another search on etsy for invitations confirmed that this has been done before. It's bright and fun which is perfect for the Bride's personality. It's also a subtle nod to the incredibly memorable trip to Mexico that Kristen and I were evangelism partners and room mates on. 




You're welcome for those photos. Another fun fact about this mission trip is that my brother in law is the non sombrero wearing male in the bottom image. Ben and I weren't dating at the time.. but his brother and parents all went on this trip. It's sweet to have memories of traveling with my family before they were my family! 

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Aren't these adorable? I have a very clear favorite from the bunch but am going to try to figure out what is the most cost effective route! 

What do y'all think? This theme is pretty different from a traditional bridal shower.. but I think (hope) this bride will love it! I just have a vision of her rocking a Mexican flower crown and opening her presents! :) 







Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday No. Seven

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I'm in full on travel planning mode over here! I think we've finally picked the cities we'll visit (Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence (with trips around the Tuscan country from there!), Naples, and a day trip along the Amalfi Coast (pictured above on one of my favorite blogs!) This trip feels like a complete dream. It's been a hard season for us and we're really grateful for our ties to Europe that make a trip like this possible. I think a lot of times through blogging/social media I'm guilty of painting a picture that life is all sunshine and rainbows.. and don't get me wrong- we're incredibly blessed. But this will be a much needed break from real life! 


Southern Weddings shared some behind the scenes (like the photo above!) from the shoot we were honored to be a part of in Austin. Y'all. IS IT NOVEMBER 8TH YET? I've never wished away time like this before ;) except maybe our engagement!


Plum Pretty Sugar Couture Collection. Does anyone want to lend me $380? And give me a reason to wear one of these? 



Last night was our local Anthro fashion show. A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in it- super out of my comfort zone. But it was fun, and they gave us a really sweet present! I would never have chosen this jumpsuit for myself or really chosen to wear it in real life, but it was fun! Apparently it wore me out because right when we got home last night I started feeling rather sick. Boo. This time of year is supposed to be flowers and happiness, not sickness!

Happy Weekend, Y'all! 




Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Lately on Pinterest


Lately I've been so intrigued by the idea of personal style. I think it's because we feel like we have to choose one thing. I've been really enjoying saving lots of goodies on pinterest lately and this is what I came up with. It's funny how although the images above are different.. I can tell they've been selected by the same taste.

Now.. those raspberry coconut macaroons... who wants to come over and make them with me? :)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Back to Europe!


What? And in one month. I know. We're crazy. Let me explain. When we were working through planning our trip throughout the South, we quickly realized it would cost just as much as it would to stay anywhere else in the world. Making the only budget difference the actual plane ticket cost. Which is $$$! However, involvement and business with the travel industry is heavy on my side of the family.. and long story short... we were gifted the flyer miles to get ourselves to and from Rome. CUE EXCITEMENT HEART ATTACK!!!! Literal tears. We woke up Saturday morning not sure what we wanted to do for vacation, and went to bed that night with two tickets to Rome booked!


We'll be gone for 17 days (one more day than our England/France adventure last summer!) and plan on visiting as many wonderful cities as we can. A Southern road trip is still on our list, but with these flyer miles we realized that because we're young and childless, we need to seize this opportunity!



Right now my biggest priority in planning is to pick which cities we'd like to visit. Right now we're for sure going to be visiting Rome, Venice, Florence, Tuscany, and Portofino. We're also trying to pull off a few days in Zurich. Other places on the table are Cinque Terre, Milan, Verona, and Lake Como. EEEEEEEE! We are so giddy about getting to travel together for an extended period. We still talk about last summer almost daily.


It's super out of my comfort zone that we leave in a month- so if you need me I'll be over here planning each and every detail like crazy! This is where I need your help! If you've been to Italy and have any tips/places we need to go.. PLEASE let me know! :)

Thank y'all so much for always celebrating with us! YAY!

Images from here, here, and here.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday No. Six

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Along with a fabulous group of ladies, I'll be co-hosting a bridal shower for my friend Kristen (read about her engagement here!) on June 27. It's kind of crazy to me how quickly that date will arrive. It still feels like January to me, and here we are in May! Yikes! I'm looking forward to chatting with the other ladies and coming up with a theme. I'd love to get that done sooner rather than later simply to get started on ideas and invitations!

If you've had a shower in your honor, what are some things that made it extra special? I'd love to hear!



This past weekend held one of my top five life moments, I think! I wish I had a better quality snap than the one above (HAHA!) but on Saturday, our cousins welcomed their third daughter. She was 5 pounds 7 ounces. SO TINY! We got to hold her what felt like so quickly after she was born, and even see the tail end of her first bath. What was most incredible about this to me was that little baby Ashlyn had her little eyes wide open when we were visiting with her! My past experiences with newborn babies have included a lot of sleeping, which is fine. But this was so so sweet. We got to watch baby girl look all around and figure out her little mouth, opening and closing it. She was just so little and so precious and we were in the happy place!!



My new design crush: Studio McGee. My close friends are sick of me sending them photos from Studio McGee's portfolio. Seriously. Over the past few months, I've really grown in my adoration for well balanced designs. In my world, that means bringing in a few more modern, streamlined pieces to balance out the heirlooms and the french country. It means a lot of bright white! The image above has been saved on my phone (along with so many others from their feed) to house some great shelf styling ideas. A large built in unit exactly like this is on my dream house wishlist!


After all that hoopla, Lilly for Target was mostly a disappointment. I'm glad I had my chance to try a few items on though! The piece I was most excited for, the navy shift dress in the middle.. was just too short on me no matter how I tried. Sad times! I did end up helping a few friends snag pieces they love, and keeping these pants (will be great for summertime with a white tee for lounging). A sweet friend (Hi, Kristin!) also hooked me up with a phone case which I'm excited about. You win some you loose some, y'all! I will say that when I hash tagged the photo above on my instagram, I started getting comments like crazy from tons of strangers trying to buy the clothes and then starting to sell to each other and barter and be sassy. Yikes! I removed that hashtag pronto and deleted a bunch of the crazy comments. Byeeeee #LillyforTarget. 


Our #1 date night spot is Central Market. We love getting things from the cafe or the premade section, and last week the weather was perfect for dining on the patio! Lately I've been really into quinoa salad, and am planning on trying to recreate the dish above for us next week! It's just quinoa, arugula, sweet potato, dried cranberries, and green apple pieces. YUM YUM YUM. It was so fresh and delicious and will be so handy for Ben to take to lunch, etc. I also had a similar dish at Zoe's Kitchen (another favorite spot of ours!) 

What's your favorite way to eat quinoa? 



I found this graphic online last week and was so struck by it being an almost exact color palette for our home. Our navy details are a bit brighter but I loved seeing this and feeling affirmed in my color choices! 


The bit of info I'm probably MOST excited to share is that I'll be returning to New York City this summer! YAY! What's especially fun is that this visit just kind of fell into place. 

Background info: I have REALLY precious friends from high school. Our little group has been strong in it's love for years and I'm truly so blessed by that. I know its rare and I'm so thankful for the longevity of these friendships. 

Last week, my friend Kassidy texted me on a whim and asked if there was any chance of me helping her check a city off of her travel wish list for a weekend this summer. When she specifically mentioned New York, I lit up, knowing that we have access to free hotel rooms through my dad's business. I then suggested we make it a full on girls weekend and invite the rest of our girlfriends from high school. And just like that (well, not super easily.. coordinating five schedules plus "standby" hotel rooms was kinda crazy) we're headed to the city!!! Even though I just went I'm so excited because 1) the weather won't be freezing, I've actually only ever been to New York in the winter 2) GIRLS TRIP. SO YAY! It's going to be extra fun because only one other girl has been there and we'll be cramming a ton in. I know that these memories will end up being cherished for years to come! 

Happy Weekend, Y'all! :)