My wedding day was magical (and yours will be too)

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First dance with my new husband!

This time last year I was deep in the throes of wedding planning. I remember being excited, but also a little stressed and worried.

Number one, weddings are expensive. All of the pretty things, even when you are trying to DIY, can add up quickly on the budget.

And then there is the added stress of everyone telling you not to stress.

“The most important thing is that you are marrying the love of your life. Nothing else really matters,” they will tell you. They are correct. BUT, it doesn’t mean you don’t want the day to be perfect.

If all that *really* mattered was just having the paper saying you are

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All my wedding pictures, even those taken by friends on their smartphones make me so happy to look at it!

married, you would likely just go to the Justice of the Peace, which is also totally fine and will likely be magical for you anyway.

But, if you are planning a regular wedding, and by regular I mean the white dress, cake etc., you really do want it to be magical and amazing and special.

And here is the secret, it will be. And here is the other secret, you will still probably stress out at some point during the planning process.

I had a pretty good meltdown about a week before the wedding. I cried and cursed. Pretty sure I let the F word fly in front of my dad, which is definitely not something I usually do. I blabbered to my fiance that it was all a mistake and we should have just gone to the Justice of the Peace.

But guess what, I think I needed that emotional release and once it was out of my system I was good.

So, the bottom line is this. If you’re in the wedding planning process right now, just take it easy. Ask for help when you need it. Don’t be stressed, but if you do stress, just take it one day and one project at at time.

It is very possible that *something* may go wrong on your wedding day. In our case, my husband’s brother who was supposed to be a groomsman couldn’t come, but luckily his cousin was able to step into the role.

Whatever minor thing may or may not happen, the bottom line really is that you are marrying the love of your life and it will all seem magical once it’s happening. It will all seem magical when you look back at the pictures too.

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I also recommend taking lots of pictures throughout the process, like when trying on wedding dresses. Even though I didn’t pick this dress, it makes me happy to look back at these memories of the wedding planning process.

 

I’m still a new bride having only been married a little more than four-months now, but I’m still obsessed with my our wedding pictures. I can’t stop looking at them.

So new brides-to-be, just relax, you’re wedding will be magical!

 

 

Just got engaged? Start here.

The holiday season is the most popular time of the year for couples to get engaged. I should know as my husband proposed to me on Christmas Eve in 2014. The holiday season, with all the lights and gathering with friends and family, is so magical so it’s no wonder many choose this time of year to pop the question.

As we head into 2016 there are undoubtedly a number of you getting ready to plan a wedding. I think there is a misconception that most women have been planning their weddings since age 6. Yes, a lot of us women, have certainly given thought over the years to what our wedding day will be like, but that is a far cry from planning the actual event.

With the creation of Pinterest, it became an even bigger joke that women, in particular, have their entire weddings planned out and aren’t even engaged or don’t even have a significant other in their lives. Yes, Pinterest is full of great ideas and lovely images of weddings. I, too, had a Pinterest wedding board long before I was ever engaged. Again, looking at pictures online or even a magazine is a long way from actually planning the wedding.

I have offered some wedding planning advice before, but below are a few more tips to those of you just getting started in this process.

1. Enjoy the process. Your wedding day is one of the most special days in your life and trust me, the actual day will go by so incredibly fast you won’t know what hit you. So, between now and the big day, try to relax and just relish in the mundane joys of planning your wedding. Now is the time to start going through that wedding Pinterest board you made three years ago and decide what things you really want and what you can live without. Planning can be stressful because you want everything to be perfect, but try to relax and enjoy it as much as you can.

2. First things first. Choosing a wedding date is the obvious first step and believe me, as soon as you tell people you’re engaged, it’s the first thing they’re going to ask. Nevermind he just popped the question yesterday, they want to know today, “when is the big day.” The actual date holds special meaning for many couples. Morgan and I started dating six years ago on July 29, and while that was not an option for our wedding date in 2015, August 29 was, so we went with that. You may have just a certain time of year in mind, for example maybe you like the idea of a Christmas wedding. Just know that whatever date you pick, there are likely to be some on your guest list who can’t make that date for whatever reason. We had several people comment on the “bad timing” of our wedding. Frankly, while we certainly wanted our loved ones there, we weren’t able to coordinate with every single person’s schedule when picking a date. Just know you aren’t going to please everyone and choose a date that works best for you, your spouse and immediate family. As you are selecting a date, at this point you will also want to start asking your friends that you want to be in the bridal party so you can make sure they are available for that date.

3. Saying yes to the dress. Choosing my dress was one of the very first things I did in my wedding planning process. If you just got engaged over Christmas this is a great time of year as many shops offer special sales in January. I would highly recommend going as soon as possible to start picking out a dress. Choosing a dress can be an overwhelming process and you may want to go to multiple shops, multiples times so the earlier you start this process the better off you are. And just remember to keep an open mind. I said for years that I never wanted to wear a strapless wedding dress because I worried I would be tugging on it all night. Of course, the dress I fell in love with was strapless. If the gown fits you correctly though, you shouldn’t have to worry about tugging on it to keep it in place, even while dancing. On this note, I will also add that you may want to shop around for alteration pricing. I purchased my dress during the annual sale at David’s Bridal, but the alterations were going to cost me nearly as much as the dress itself. Luckily, I found another seamstress who worked on bridal gowns at a much better rate. I also found better pricing online for some of my accessories, including my veil.

4. Location, location, location. The next major step in the process and one you will want to do early on, is choosing your wedding venue. If you are getting married in a church or special events venue, you will want to book your date as soon as possible. Remember, Christmas is the most popular time of year for engagements so you may be competing with other newly engaged couples for the perfect venue. If the location you choose does not offer in-house catering you may also want to go ahead and book a caterer before their schedule fills up as well. If you plan to hire a professional wedding planer you may wish to go ahead and book this person now so they can begin helping you get prepared.

5. Make a list and check it often. You’ve got the ring, you’ve picked a date, you’ve found your dress and booked your venue. Now, you can breathe a little bit. Of course there are many more things to plan out and decide upon, but once you have these major decisions made, it’s time to celebrate a little. I do recommend keeping a list, you can even do this on your smart phone. Keep this list with you at all times so when you get a great wedding idea you can jot it down quickly and come back to it later in the planning process. Once you get down to the nitty gritty of planning, a spreadsheet can also be helpful.

For those of you newly engaged, congratulations! Best wishes for a wonderful wedding day and a long and happy marriage.

Be a Bridezilla

11227042_10103026074978308_1185687063457009172_nFrom the time I got engaged last Christmas I got tons of advice from friends, family, even strangers, and read lots of wedding planning advice on websites and books. Since doing the deed myself a few weeks ago I now feel equipped to share my own wedding planning advice for those of you who may be newly engaged.

1. Be a Bridezilla. My favorite piece of advice I got was from my matron of honor who told me to be a bridezilla. That’s right BE a bridezilla. She said no matter how polite and accommodating you are, at some point during the process someone will probably call you a bridezilla anyway so you might as well go ahead and embrace it. Obviously you don’t want to be so bossy and overbearing you alienate friends, family or your new spouse-to-be, but the bottom line is, it’s your wedding and you should do it your way!

2. Do it your way. There are many traditions and lots of etiquette associated with a wedding. You may feel pressured to do a certain thing because “it’s tradition.” The most important thing though is that at the end of the day you are married to the love of your life. I spent a lot of time worrying (cause it’s one of the things I do best) about what people were going to think about our wedding. Would they be offended that we didn’t hand address the invitations or send formal invitations with the fancy little onion skin paper thingy. Again, the bottom line is, that’s not what is important about your wedding. If formal invitations are important to you, go for it. If not, find a unique, creative and less expensive way to let friends and family know. We chose to do a single sheet simple invitation style without all the frou frou extra envelopes and such. We also opted to do a dessert-style reception instead of a full meal. The most important thing is to include special things that make the ceremony and reception feel unique and personal to you and represents your relationship.

3. Ask for help. Wedding planning, even if you are opting for a smaller event, is still a lot to do. If you have an extensive budget you may decide to hire a wedding planner to help. If you, like me, are on a tighter budget, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help. They are undoubtedly thrilled for you and will be happy to assist in any way they can. You never know what secret creative talents your friends may have. We got married in a wooden band shelter at a winery that was pretty plain, but my godmother turned it into a lovely wedding wonderland with white paper lanterns, beautiful ferns, some candles and flowers from the farmers market. It was unbelievably beautiful.
On a side note, one of the things I was told over and over when starting to plan for my wedding was that everyone would likely not send back their RSVP cards. We opted to include a stamp on our RSVP cards, but still did not receive them all back. Again, don’t be afraid to ask. If it’s getting close to your deadline and you haven’t heard back from folks, go ahead and give them a call and ask if they plan to attend.

4. Shop around. Again, if like me, you are on a tight budget, be sure to shop around for your wedding and decor items. The veil I had my heart set on at the bridal shop was $250, way out of my price range. I ended up finding an identical veil online for only $26. If you are crafty there are lots of neat do-it-yourself ideas for wedding decor. I also found a lot of beautiful things well within my budget on the site Etsy.com, which features individual sellers of handmade items. Another piece of advice I got early on was not to stress too much over centerpieces, people likely won’t remember them anyway. As our wedding was at a winery and our theme was peacock feathers, we had the simplest centerpieces of wine bottles with peacock feathers in them. Find something unique and simple that celebrates you as a couple or ties in with your venue for a neat, no-stress centerpiece.

5. As time goes by. Another thing I was told many times is that time at your wedding will fly by. You spend months and months planning and it all seems like a blur the day of the wedding. This was probably the most true thing I was told about a wedding. I was worried about feeling like we were having to wait forever once we got the venue, but that was not the case at all. Once I arrived, got into my dress, walked down the aisle, said “I do,” danced with my husband and my dad, ate a bite of cake and tossed my bouquet in the air — it felt like the blink of an eye.

You will undoubtedly have a wedding photographer and possibly a videographer and you will be so happy about those images and videos because it will give more time to relive the event in slow motion. Another great thing about getting married this day and age are smart phones. Most likely you will have friends taking pictures and videos on their phones and this is a great way to get a quick look back at the day before your official photographs are ready. Looking back at the pictures has been my favorite pastime since returning from my honeymoon.

To sum up my wedding advice, it is this: read all the articles you want, pin all the things on Pinterest, listen to what everyone has to say about weddings and at the end of the day, do what feels right for you and your future spouse and you will surely have a special day to remember for years to come.

Wine festival fun

The Lush's Blush blogEleven years ago I attended my first Yadkin Valley Wine Festival. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be there. I worked as a reporter for The Elkin Tribune for about six months the year I graduated from college and by default I inherited the role of wine reporter. I had never had wine before that and it was a bit of an acquired taste. I was the reporter on duty that weekend and had other places I would much rather have been than working on a Saturday.

But, there I was, roaming around taking pictures and getting comments about the wines from folks. I remember two people who stood out. The first was a man who hailed from New Zealand, but worked at a winery in northern Italy. How he found his way to our little festival in Elkin, I can’t recall. It was a fledgling industry at that point and I’m sure a hard comparison to the wines he was used to, but he gave a very diplomatic comment about everyone having a lot of enthusiasm for the new viticulture industry here. He was also intrigued by the sweeter wines made from our native muscadine and scuppernong grapes.theThe second person I remember was a little lady who brought up the fact that some in the area were against the wine industry. She quickly reminded me that wine is mentioned in the Bible, quoting specifically the passage from I Timothy that says “use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake…” She said she thought the new up and coming wine region was a good thing.After I finished with my work that day, I decided to try a little wine myself. Needless to say, by the end of the afternoon I was no longer so grumpy about having had to work that day.I have attended the festival every year since then and have become a huge proponent of our wine region. I tell everyone I meet about it. Wine may not be the beverage of choice for everyone, but as a Yadkin County native, it thrills me that we have found such a unique way to continue the agricultural tradition of our region and bring visitors here.As our wine region has grown and matured, so has my palette expanded greatly since taking those first sips of wine more than 10 years ago. I began drinking the very sweetest wines made from muscadine or similar varietals. Now, I prefer the deep dry reds, with the occasional chilled dry white wine for nice summer days.The Lush's Blush blogI think each of our area wineries have such lovely and distinct venues and all boast wonderful wines. While I know some who are wine snobs and prefer vintages that hail from Italy or California, I have become a Yadkin Valley wine snob. I prefer to drink wines that hail from my hometown area.I am an even bigger snob about our area wine festival. I turn up my nose and frown if anyone suggests attending other wine festivals, which seem to be bigger and crowded and just not as much fun or as relaxing and enjoyable as our Yadkin Valley Wine Festival.

This year’s festival was extremely special as many of my friends came with me as a celebration of my upcoming nuptials. I was so proud to show off the Yadkin Valley Wine region to friends who had never been. We had a wonderful day sampling wines, enjoying food from the vendors and dancing to the great music.The Lush's Blush blogThe Lush's Blush blog

A wedding roadtrip

This weekend my lovely sorority sister got married in Asheville, NC. Her ceremony was at Lake Junaluska (which is actually in Waynesville, NC) and it was so beautiful. The lake is absolutely gorgeous, as was the adorable stone chapel where the ceremony was held. Of course, I cried.

Lake Junaluska
The wedding reception was held at a trendy venue, aptly called The Venue. Highlights of the reception included a dance off between the Groomsmen and Bride and Bridesmaids and a mashed potato bar. I have been hearing that mashed potato bars, were the new “thing” when it comes to wedding reception food. This is definitely a trend I support. I am a fan of anything that allows me to add my desired amount of bacon and cheese. Another sorority sister’s husband joked with us that we should have a bacon bar where you can add small amounts of potato, chives or cheese to your bowl full of bacon. Again, another amazing idea! I’m pretty sure all good ideas start with bacon.
As a North Carolina native I am sad to say this was the first time I had ever been to Asheville. We didn’t get to spend a lot of time touring the city, but we did make the time to eat somewhere cute and shop. The main reason I like going ANYWHERE is to eat and shop! Come to think of it, I live to eat and shop!
The Bride and Groom had thoughtfully created little goody bags for guests staying overnight in Asheville and included a list of their favorite places to visit. Tupelo Honey Cafe and The Early Girl Eatery were on the list and the concierge at our hotel also recommended having brunch at one of these places. Unfortunately (or fortunately as it turned out) both of these places had long wait times and so we bravely ventured out to try something else. By chance we parked near a place called Chorizo. I did a double take when I saw the name. I love chorizo about as much as I love bacon! We were seated right away and it was toasty warm inside, since it was very chilly outside this was a huge perk.
Morgan ordered the homemade chorizo and a “cheesy pancake” served with apples and eggs. I had the tortilla plate with bacon, cheesy grits and the freshest pico de gallo, black beans and guacamole I’ve ever had! I was very thoughtless, my dear readers, and starting hogging in all this good food without even thinking to take a picture for you. With just a few bites left, I remembered so here you go:
The best part was really the pico. I don’t know how in the world they had still had such fresh tasting tomatoes this late in the season. I’m just crazy about tomatoes and let’s face it, the kind from the grocery store never taste as good as the home grown kind. The guac and beans don’t look that appetizing, I know, but I promise they were yummy! I ate all of my food and what was left of Morgan’s.
Being the material girl that I am, I just couldn’t leave town without purchasing some sort of memento from my first visit to Asheville. I got two adorable pairs of earrings (made in the USA, can you believe?) and some books from a super cute bookstore. Jewelry, food and books, yep my day was complete!
I will leave you with this last photo of the awesome wall decor at Chorizo.