Travel Themed Bridal Shower

The reality of a destination wedding is that some of your guests may not be able to attend. With an overseas wedding in Barcelona, we thought, what better way to celebrate than with a travel themed bridal shower!


Our beautiful bride, Lisa, gave me free reign to design her travel themed shower. The only parameters were to avoid exaggerating the theme and crossing the line to children’s party. We still wanted to exude elegance and femininity without using the classic red and blue airline stripes and boarding passes.

Naturally, we called this “Traveling from Miss to Mrs.”IMG_9675.jpgThe shower fell in April, as we were just beginning Springtime in Florida. Embracing spring pastels, we chose blushes, golds, ivories, and lavenders for our color palette. Lisa’s favorite color was purple, so we made sure to incorporate lots of the color! The venue of choice was a upper scale Italian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, with modern grays and whites, so it was important to balance the masculine lines with the softer tones and decor. We adorned a long royal table with a beautiful violet linen and used the existing chairs, which were a sleek white and unique tapering rectangular shape. It added a really unique element to all the “girly” we would be using.260A5600.jpgThe center of the table featured white suitcases with custom vinyl phrases like “See you in Spain!” “Barcelona or Bust!” 260A5525.jpgRodriStudios provided the most gorgeous florals featuring large roses, ranunculus, astilbe,  and dusty miller. 260A5592.jpgHe even saved a stem specifically for Lisa to wear behind her ear! Seriously, how cute does she look?260A5709.jpgWe opened one suitcase and had flowers overflowing inside, while the other 2 suitcases served as bases for varying heights and depths.260A5500260A5593Airplane shaped map cutouts were sprinkled across the table, while ribbon-wrapped cylinder vases and floating candles provided a little bit of romance. Each lady sat with a custom place setting in front of them. Gold luggage tags with each guest’s name hand lettered dually served as both practical favor and place card.260A5523260A5524260A5521Pastel blush napkins wrapped the edges of our gold charger plates. Welcoming the soft colors and muted theme, pastel maps were used throughout the decor, while subtle hints of “travel” wording were present. The delicious dulce de leche naked cake by Two Fat Cookies was decorated with cascading florals by RodriStudio and a custom “Fly Away With Me” cake topper from Etsy. 260A5514.jpgPink leather passport cover favors from J.Crew were the quintessential girly touch to traveling!260A5613.jpg260A5554260A5598We provided custom champagne-flavored, airplane-shaped lollipops which were the perfect purple touch to the sign in table.260A5545.jpgInstead of a traditional guest book, we created a canvas print in which each girl would leave their lipstick marks and signature. The ladies had a blast making their mark and were surprised at how many of them had the same shade of makeup (totally unplanned!)IMG_9716.jpg260A5800.jpg260A5769.jpgWe really wanted to add a few fun bridal shower games for the ladies to play. The first game was Where in the World? We built a custom frame to hold pictures of Lisa and Jason in iconic locations from all over the world! The ladies had to analyze the scenery and match up the numbered photos with a location on their game sheets.260A5579.jpg260A5845.jpg260A5841After another delicious brunch item from Angelo Elia, 260A5808.jpgwe moved onto the next game of Who Knows Lisa Best?, a collection of questions that tested the ladies’ knowledge of the bride to be. Questions ranged from “What is Lisa’s favorite part of the body to workout?” to “What is Lisa’s favorite ice cream flavor?”260A5565.jpgAt the beginning of the brunch, we passed out cards to all the ladies asking them to recall their favorite memory with Lisa. They were not allowed to write there name, because Lisa would later play Who Am I? guessing which memory was with which friend. We definitely had to cover Mom’s ears for a couple memories haha!260A5557.jpgOur last game, and the one I was looking forward to most, was Who Has The Groom? I had the scratch-off cards custom made and passed the cards at random to the ladies at the table. 260A5560.jpgRemoving the penny from the back of their card, each lady was instructed to scratch at their card until a face was revealed on the tuxedo body. 260A5870.jpgCheck out this video to see a sample reveal! Only one card actually had Jason’s face, while the others were strewn with everything from Darth Vader to Steve Harvey!IMG_9726.jpgIMG_9730.jpgIMG_9734.jpg260A5880260A5886The winner of each game received an airplane bottle opener, keeping with our travel theme. We had so much fun embodying the travel theme and spring colors for this bridal shower. There were so many ways to incorporate airplanes and maps without overdoing it. At Oh My Occasions, we love any excuse for a party and even more so, one with a theme!


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How Do I Pick My Bridesmaids?

BRIDESMAIDS

You’re excited and you feel relaxed and you’re ready to parrrrrrtayyyyyy… with the best of them!” but who exactly makes up “the best of them”? You’re probably asking yourself, “how do I pick my bridesmaids?”

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Like most big decisions in life, there’s no real handbook or method of narrowing down your wedding party. At Oh My! Occasions, we’re going to do our best to help you select your bridesmaids to a crew that rivals Maya Rudolph’s in the popular comedy from 2011. When making important decisions, I often find it’s easiest to eliminate the things I do not want first. Here’s a list of DON’Ts while choosing your bridal party:

DON’Ts

DON’T… hold a Hunger Games rally in which your ladies compete for the coveted title. You do know how those books ended, right? Spoiler alert: it’s not an eating contest.

DON’T… put an ad on Craigslist. Crime shows are literally based on this type of thing. Big Don’t.

DON’T… hold auditions; this is not The Voice.

DON’T… take bribes. This is a felony or misdemeanor, dependent on state. Although the financial gain could help out in paying for the wedd- No. Noo. Bribery is wrong.

DON’T… ask on impulse. The lady at Subway might have given you extra cheese at no charge, but she’s not your best friend. I promise.

DON’T… use the “eenie meenie miney moe” technique. We all know that was rigged based on which person you started on, but hey, I might still be a little bitter from a kickball tournament in 1997.

DON’T… attempt to win a world record for largest wedding party. Just, don’t.


In all seriousness, your bridal party should be a true reflection of you. You may end up with a group of people from all different times in your life. Your favorite recipes are ones that taste the best to you, right? So your recipe may be heavier on one ingredient than the next bride’s. And that’s okay! We don’t want any nuts in our recipe anyway! Add a pinch of your childhood friend mixed with your 2 college roommates and a side of coworker with a dash of sister.

DSC_1334cSo how do you choose your bridesmaids? The biggest piece of advice would be to select ladies that you know will be your forever friends. Do you see this person being involved in your life 5 years from now, 10 years, 20 years? Or will your future children look at your wedding album and wonder why there’s a face cut out of all the wedding party photos. We’ve created a checklist to help you. Your friend is bridesmaid quality is you can answer yes to these statements:

  • She supports my marriage
  • She has met the person I’m about to marry
  • She is mindful of my opinions, and not hurtful with her honesty
  • She handles stressful situations well
  • She is in a financial and/or emotional place in life to dedicate time to being a bridesmaid
  • She is willing to offer advice or assistance if I need it

DSC_1329cIT IS YOUR DAY

but it’s also important to assess your bridesmaids’ individual circumstances. One of your ladies might be paying off school loans or going through a breakup. Also take into consideration any young siblings or family members that you’re thinking about asking to be a bridesmaid. Does their age affect your ability to do certain things or go to certain places? A bachelorette trip to Vegas may be better suited for ladies 21+, but a tea party bridal luncheon could include all ages.

JackieKyle_W141.jpgNEAR OR FAR

One, some, or all of your bridesmaids might not live near you which means going through the motions of bridal milestones could get a little lonely. I personally had 9 bridesmaids all living in different states, none of which were near me! Be honest with your bridesmaids about your expectations. Nowadays, it’s easy to include your gals with Facetime or ask for their assistance virtually, if they can not devote their time in person. Sharing photos and Pinterest boards is easier than ever! If your in-town bridesmaids can’t attend larger “events”, they can still help with other tasks like stuffing wedding invitations, giving their opinion on what color nail polish or hair styles they think look best, or helping you choose the best songs for your big day. I knew that there’d be a lot of travel involved during my planning process and ultimately to my wedding destination, so I talked to my girls and let them know that I did not expect them to be at all the pre-wedding festivities like the bridal shower, bachelorette party, or dress fittings. No hard feelings. Your bridesmaids don’t have to be present at all the other outings, but the only thing they are really required to attend is the actual wedding day.

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As a bride, you can also take steps to make things financially easier for your ladies to uphold the bridesmaid title. Maybe make hair and makeup optional, or offer to pay for their services. I personally bought all my bridesmaids their dresses, because I knew there were other expenses they’d be covering later on. If your friend is going through an emotionally difficult time, it’s okay for them to decline your invitation to be a bridesmaid. She is allowed to say “no” or “I can’t”. Don’t take this personally. You can always suggest another wedding role with less responsibility. Weddings can have ushers, readers, gift collectors, or honorary attendees. There are ways to acknowledge a friend’s importance without the pressure or title of bridesmaid. Otherwise, let your friend know that you are there for her, that you respect her decision, and that you hope she will still come to celebrate as a guest!

DSC_2431cCOED

While it’s common to think of a bridal party consisting of women, it’s totally fine to ask your guy friends to partake in the festivities too! We’ve seen the role reversal many times: Groomsmaids, Man of Honor, you name it!

HOW MANY

Remember how this is your recipe? Well, Betty Crocker, you can adjust it however you please. You’re allowed to have more than one maid of honor… or none at all. And don’t worry if your bridesmaids and groomsmen create an uneven number. The way of tallest-to-shortest lined up wedding party photos are long gone. Photographers are able to create some really neat compositions to work with the asymmetry you may have. Plus, I don’t think the best man will mind if he’s escorting two pretty ladies on each arm. It is a good idea to keep your overall guest count in mind when making your wedding party selection. 12 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen with 50 attendees may look a little off-kilter.NicoleMiguel-122

QUID PRO QUO

When all is said and done, and you’re on the other side of the wedding party, don’t expect an automatic invite. There are no rules about Bridesmaid reciprocity, so just because you ask her, doesn’t mean she has to ask you.

FIBBING IN YOUR FAVOR

Lastly, it’s important to pick a group who is honest with you, while still considering your feelings. I had found “the” wedding dress and shared with my friends when I actually had someone tell me it was ugly! Make sure you have a crew who will give their opinions in a heartfelt manner, while still being able to read your reactions. If you love those 3 layers of feathers on your dress, or you’re keen on having a Polka band, you want to be sure that your girls will be supportive of those decisions, regardless if they would be their own.

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Choosing your bridesmaids comes down to finding the perfect recipe of friends that will leave you saying, “This is such a stone-cold pack of weirdos, and I am so proud!” Now go choose your weirdos!

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Thin Blue Line Wedding

What happens when the wedding planner weds?

 

As many of you know, I was officially married at the end of October to the love of my life. Our unique elopement style ceremony meant that a month later we would have “The Party”, complete with wedding guests, a bridal party, and a proper reception.

A month of being legally married, allowed me the time to officially change my name, and get my new legal documents. I woke up around 5am on November 26, too excited to sleep anymore. After all, it was Christmas morning  (okay, it was really wedding day, but it felt like Christmas!) The entire morning, my bridesmaids and I watched the Bridesmaids movie on repeat. I’m not kidding. As soon as the Wilson Phillips song faded out, we just pressed “restart”. We had a blast reciting the movie quotes and even our makeup artists were laughing with us.  I was working with vendors I knew and loved, so it was more like seeing old friends, than feeling anxious about how they’d do.

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My 9 bridesmaids had 5 different hair options to choose from: all updos to show off the keyhole back in their mermaid dresses. Visions by Daili was able to give each girl their own version of a top bun with braids.

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I gave the girls custom shirts and socks with personalized tumblers.

mr2_5706mr2_5666IMG_3499.jpgmr2_5687Once my hair and makeup were finished, I slipped on my “Bride” tank, and fuzzy slippers to see Warren. In our North Carolina wedding we opted not to do a first look. This time, we were having 2 special moments before the ceremony. When I first started in this industry, I was requested on the 9th floor of a hotel to help the groomsman tie bow ties… so I quickly Googled a “how to” video and became a pro before the elevator doors opened up. Since then, I would practice on paper towel rolls and an unwilling (then) boyfriend, to perfect my method. Since he used to be my practice model, we decided that on our wedding day, this was an intimate moment we could share.

Weeks before the wedding, I went on Amazon to find a simple blind fold, and wouldn’t you know it… a bunch of S&M accessories popped up. Silk blind fold? Throw it in the cart! So like something straight out of 50 Shades of Grey, I walked into a quiet room with my husband sitting blindfolded in a chair.

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mr3_8960I burst out laughing! These photos, without explanation, are probably currently on some 50 shades fan site with incorrect context.

It was a sweet moment between us, as I knotted his bow tie in one shot.

 

mr2_5639On our first date, Warren took me to a gun range. I had saved one of the shell casings of a bullet from that day. I had the casing made into cuff links thanks to Matthews Custom Jewelers and gifted them to Warren. mr3_9111

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My girls went to change into their dresses. Truthfully, throughout the entire wedding planning process, I was anxiously awaiting the day when I’d see my best friends all dolled up in these gowns that I fell in love with at first sight. I LOVE the color of cobalt blue against black. Since my husband is a police officer, we thought the blue would work dually as a “thin blue line” theme. I was shopping in Macy’s one day in December and my eyes immediately were drawn to these shiny royal blue dresses. I impulsively decided in that instant that I wasn’t going to wait for them to go out of stock. I bought all 9 dresses for my girls, and didn’t regret it one bit when they did indeed go completely out of stock the next month! I loved how they weren’t your typical “bridesmaid” dress, and I knew it would compliment everyone’s figures beautifully. (I know everyone says that they think their bridesmaid dresses will be worn again, but I’ll bet money that at least one of my girls repurposes it!)mr2_5560

My mom was there when I picked out my wedding gown (a story in itself), and patiently attended so many dress fittings with me. Naturally, she was the one to help zip me up into my gown.

MR2_5880.jpgMR2_5877.jpgmr2_5868It fit like a glove, and I felt so unbelievably beautiful. There were rare times that I allowed myself to actually feel like a bride throughout the engagement, and it was such a surreal experience going through the motions and picture poses that I’ve seen all my brides do before my eyes. I knew exactly how slow to “put on” my garter for photos. I knew just what angle to show myself placing my earrings and I knew how to coach my mom into “pretending” to zip up my dress about 4 different times so video could get their shot.

mr2_5887 mr2_6011I wore the same veil that was edged with the lace from my mom’s wedding gown. I had Nina wedding shoes. They were soooooooo comfy! The low heel and ribbon ankle tie provided the maximum comfortable support I needed to be able to take unlimited photos and dance my first dance sans blisters.

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I opted to have a first look with my dad, and I’m so glad we had that private moment together. I gifted him a picture frame engraved with the words “of all the walks we’ve ever taken, this one means the most” with a temporary picture of baby me in his giant gym shoes to be replaced with a photo of him walking me down the aisle.

mr2_5944mr2_5947MR2_5985.jpgI gave my mom a couple of “mom” Alex and Ani bracelets, and a frame engraved with “forever your little girl”. Of course, tears were shed. Now, it was time for my first look with Warren. Countless times throughout the planning process, I asked him what he thought my dress looked like, or what he hoped it didn’t look like. The standard, “you’ll look great in anything” response was heavily received. We had a long hallway to ourselves, he had his back to me. I had butterflies the entire walk up to him before tapping his shoulder. I felt like a little school girl! I was so excited to see him, and more excited for him to see me!

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I couldn’t have faked that smile if you paid me.mr3_9441mr3_9444I twirled around to show him the entire dress, and his expression and reaction were so perfect. After witnessing countless first looks between my clients, it was a different level of special doing it myself. We took some photos together before our wedding party joined us.mr3_9452mr3_9453Now, our ceremony was going to be extra unique. We’ve all sat through the hour long ceremonies where people are hungry and antsy and uncomfortable. We wanted our guests to have fun! With the sun set, and the cool waves of the ocean splashing below the pool deck, all of the sudden, the speakers blare “BAD BOYS BAD BOYS! WATCHA GONNA DO? WATCHA GONNA DO WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU?” Yup. The COPS theme song that we all know and love. That’s what the groomsman walked down the aisle to! I heard laughs and clapping from our guests, and the laidback, fun vibe had already begun. Warren decided to walk coolly down the aisle to that whiny “oooo waooo wowwwwww” theme song from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, his favorite movie. Cue even more laughs.

MR3_9555.jpgmr2_6734I passed off my bouquet to my maid of honor, which smelled so heavily of glue, that I was happy to get rid of it. (note: composite bouquets are a man-made arrangement by gluing individual petals around a single rose to give the illusion of an exaggeratedly full bouquet. Looked pretty, smelled terrible.) Again, Warren’s grandfather was our officiant. I had spent weeks perfecting the most symbolic, touching ceremony script for him to read.

mr2_6739MR3_9667.jpgWith the uplights illuminating the darkness around us that evening, I knew something was wrong after his first sentence: “I can’t see my bible, so, I’m just gonna paraphrase this!” With the thud of the book shutting, “Dedaddy” gave the best possible rendition of my structured script. Haha! Through smiling teeth, Warren looked me in the eyes and said, “just go with it.” We wrote our own vows this time. Mine were laminated, his scribbled on Ritz Carlton notepad paper.

mr3_9702mr2_6742mr2_6773SD-6344.JPGWe actually said a lot of the same things in our vows, including the beliefs that we are solely funnier than the other. Deddady called for our kiss, and sentenced us “to a lifetime of happiness”. With that, Warren pulled out his handcuffs, and slapped those suckers on my wrist.

mr2_6794mr2_6797mr2_6812We walked our recessional to Haddaway’s “What Is Love?” and bobbed our heads with the music while laughing the whole walk down. True “Night at the Roxbury itz Carlton” style!

Amongst other standard cocktail hour hors d’eouvres, our guests had tomato shooters and grilled cheese bites. Nothing like good Midwest comfort food! On the late November breezy night, it was perfect. SD-6424.JPGWarren and I were swooped away to privacy where I declined the champagne, and ordered myself a tequila sunrise. We practiced our first dance and discussed the hilarity of the ceremony. We entered the ballroom with friends and family surrounding the dance floor. We flawlessly executed our first dance to “A Thousand Years” and the party began!

 

mr2_7074sd-6690mr2_7134mr2_7078We had the Ritz chef create a copycat recipe of the salad we ate the night we got engaged in Savannah, GA. Candied bacon, fried green tomato, and black pepper thyme buttermilk dressing. Yum. We had tattoo stations (the sponge and water kind) with sayings like, “I came for the open bar!” and “#LoveYouToBitzAtTheRitz”.

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We thought out of the (cake) box, and omitted a traditional wedding cake. We served assorted cake pops (my favorite!!!!) , donuts (insert the police joke here), and munchkins with dipping sauces!

 

My bouquet toss catcher is currently engaged, and although still single, the garter catcher made a truly valiant effort in his catch.

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We surprised our guests with continuous blasts of confetti and foam glow sticks. My father in law even led the electric slide, directing everyone like an air traffic controller! Our DJ, Sarz Entertainment, had every single person on their feet the entire night. So much so, that I missed our late night bites (sliders and quesadillas! double yum). Don’t worry, I ordered room service the next night and got myself a giant non-wedding-diet quesadilla. So worth it.mr3_0447

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We sang “Happy Birthday” to my Irish Twin brother, and had a wonderful night.

I didn’t have an ounce of caffeine that night, but it’s true what they (and by they, I mean I, as your wedding planner) tell you on your wedding day… you have so much adrenaline and excitement that you could party until the sun comes up. So that’s quite literally what we did. I wore my Berta dress along the sidewalks of A1A, bar hopped, and took photos with sand snowmen (only in Florida!).

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Blue Steel.

We sleepily made our way back to the hotel around 5am and immediately, I wanted to do it all over again. It’s totally acceptable to have a vow renewal, after one year, right?

 

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all professional photos by (c) Unique Design Studios

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Hitched on a Hilltop

READ I DO (x 2) TO SEE HOW WE GOT TO THE HILLTOP

A North Carolina Family Elopement 

all professional photos by Candi Leonard Photography

The last of our 12-hour drive consisted of winding roads with rustic barns and plenty of October wind. The leaves were vibrant yellows, brilliant oranges,  and roasted reds. The hilly mountainsides cast a gorgeous shadow upon the cow ridden valleys. We were definitely not in Kansas  Miami anymore.

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By Friday evening, our families had arrived. The craftsman style lodge we rented accommodated all 11 of us comfortably. After saying our hellos, we called it an early night to prepare for the wedding the next day.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-6-15-30-pmclp_0310I wasn’t nervous in the least. As a wedding planner, I was used to the hustle and bustle of wedding day, with strict timelines, giant wedding parties to keep track of, complicated décor … and I wanted none of the above. Which is precisely why we decided to do things differently. We hired Candi Leonard Photography, a husband and wife team, who really understood our vision. The only other “vendors” we had were Ali and Andrea, hair and makeup stylists, to primp me for the day. We used wooden benches from around the porch for the ceremony, and there were no bouquets or centerpieces or ceremony structures. The natural backdrop was all we needed. 

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backyard wedding elopement

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See what I mean? I woke up Saturday to the smell of my dad cooking bacon. Some of the family had gathered in the oversized kitchen off of the master bedroom I had slept alone in the night before. Warren and I had agreed to not see each other until the ceremony, and in a two story house with 11 people, it proved to be a little difficult. I often found myself shuffling from room to room while shouting, “Don’t come up the stairs, babe!” Of course, our dog had decided to stick by Warren’s side the entire morning, which didn’t surprise me in the least. 

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Our dads and brothers, who had never met previously, played Pool and chatted about sports until it was time for me to walk down the aisle. Now, that was the beauty of our private elopement. We had no timeline. We had no caterer needing to plate food or DJ waiting for his music cue. When asked when the “ceremony” would start, I shrugged and said, “whenever.” If it rained, we could push it back an hour. If the sun was due to set early, we could move it earlier. We had no where else to be but here, in the moment.

Andrea and Ali completed my hair and makeup with loose barrel curls and a golden natural glow.  I listened to Halloween music on Pandora and drank chocolate milk while getting ready. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

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I was completely relaxed. Every so often, my mom would come in to check on me. My older brother, Kyle, provided a lot of laughs that made me relive our childhood. As “Irish twins”(born less than 12 months apart), we always had a special bond.

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here we are writing “REDRUM” with fogged glass breath. #typical

Like Rapunzel, confined to the bedroom, I rushed to write my note to Warren since moments earlier, he had slipped his envelope under my door.clp_9948clp_0142

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Everything about this wedding had a sentimental meaning attached to it. My wedding gown was custom made. The base of the white dress was a Ralph Lauren steal from Macy’s. A one-shoulder, spandex/rayon mix and the most comfortable material I’ve ever laid on my body! My mom had saved her wedding gown from 1987 but the shoulder pads just weren’t “2016”. I decided I’d find a way to somehow incorporate her dress. My mom’s train had enough lace to trim the edges of my cathedral length veil. With plenty of lace to spare, pieces were hand sewn on to the dress leg slit, and neck line. Skin-toned mesh created long sleeves finished with a lace border grazing my top knuckles. My ring shyly peaked through. 

My shoes were a $7 find (no, really!) with a comfortable 3 inch heel. The heel was covered with the lace of Warren’s grandmother’s dress that had lasted as long as her 60 year marriage (and going on more). When “Grandmama” Glenda saw the “something old” piece that I’d be “walking down the aisle” in, her eyes teared. She didn’t immediately recognize the fabric adorning the shoe. As the photographer captured her reaction, it finally hit her. She gave me a giant hug filled with deep appreciation.

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At roughly 3:00 in the afternoon, our family made their way to the backyard. The sky was a radiant blue with the sun shining brightly. The 50 degree weather was chilly to my Florida blood, but it was the Fall weather we wanted. Warren walked with Rogue to “Marry Me” by Train. I knew that song was my cue to walk out the front door and start making my way to the stone stairs on the side of the house. It was the closest thing to my childhood staircase I had always wanted to walk down. 

At the top of the stairs, it hit me. My stomach got all fluttery and I could feel my body shaking. I took deep breaths, as I heard Piano Guys instrumental rendition of “A Thousand Years” begin to play. At the 3rd stone step, it happened. My veil got stuck! The tears in my eyes dried quickly while I silently mouthed, “one minute” and readjusted myself. I’m the world’s clumsiest person, so that was so “me” for it to happen. Meanwhile, I couldn’t have had a better reaction from my groom. 

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screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-6-38-12-pmAnd the minute I saw the love of my life standing right there in front of me, I became a giddy school girl.screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-6-39-03-pm

Our dog, Rogue, was the ring bearer Best Pet. She got a special sparkly collar and pristine white leash for the occasion. As the gag reel for the entire ceremony, she promptly chewed through said leash and thought it was belly rub time when Warren went to detach the rings from her collar. 

 

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Warren’s grandfather officiated the ceremony with Bible passages and some heartfelt marriage advice. 

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In less than 10 minutes, we were husband and wife. 

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After a few family photos, and some bride and groom portraits around the property, we changed into comfy clothes, and grilled some burgers!

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screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-7-02-42-pmWatching our families interact like they had known each other forever was such a neat experience. We made s’mores by the campfire and played Catchphrase, HeadsUp and Cards Against Humanity until past midnight. I have never seen my father-in-law laugh as hard as he did that night. Our brothers became quick friends, and our families shared moments that they otherwise never would have had. We couldn’t have asked for the day to go any better.

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I know everyone says their wedding was perfect. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Not the fact that my veil got caught. Not even that Warren had a giant bruise on the side of his nose from Jiu Jistu!  I am so glad we decided to have a family elopement! I love being a wife , having a “new name” and getting to say “husband”.  But the thing I love most about being married is that every once in a while, during the most routine movement like drinking a water bottle or scratching his head, I see a ring on his finger. And I get butterflies every. single. time. 

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Happy Planning!

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all professional photos courtesy of Candi Leonard Photography

I Do (x 2)

How To Have Your Dream Wedding without Settling

Just minutes after we publicly announced our engagement, we swarmed with questions from friends and family. “Have you set a date? Where will the wedding be?” Seeing as we’d been engaged less than 24 hours, I was immediately reminded of the many questions I had myself. “How many people should we invite? How long should we be engaged for? Where are we going to get married?!”

Being a wedding planner, I had the advantage (and disadvantage) of knowing the answers to most of the “standard” questions. I knew just about how much we’d be spending per person, and the typical price of each wedding vendor. But I was absolutely clueless about where we would have our wedding.

The ideas came into my head just as quickly as I dismissed them. Ever the realist, I found reasons that each location wouldn’t possibly work. We just had a magical engagement here in Savannah, one of our very favorite spots. So maybe we could get married here? But no, that would be too far for both our families. I was born and raised in a suburb outside of Chicago. The majority of my extended family was still there, so we could have the wedding there… but, no, that meant it’d be unlikely that Warren’s family and all our current friends, neighbors, and coworkers could make it. We could have the wedding locally in South Florida or maybe even Tampa, where we met. A local wedding did make sense. I could use vendors I trusted and had worked with numerous times before. A local wedding meant I could visit our venue multiple times for meetings. However, a local wedding would also mean sacrificing what we had both envisioned for our big day.

Warren and I had always agreed that our wedding would have a cool Fall breeze, with the leaves changing colors. There’s something so incredibly nostalgic about the transformation of leaves in Autumn and the smell of a dusk October bonfire. I had always pictured saying, “I do” in my childhood home backyard. I’d make my way down the front staircase that I had taken so many prom and homecoming pictures on.

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Then I’d walk into the backyard where I had played Ghost in the Graveyard every summer night, made snowmen at Christmas, and marked my growth on an oak tree each year. I had it all worked out. Unfortunately, by the time I got engaged, my childhood home was no longer in the family, so I had to find something equally as perfect. No palm tree or sandy beach would be an adequate substitute for the crisp fall air or the Kentucky bluegrass that feels so soft on a bare foot.

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We quickly concluded that what we wanted wasn’t going to be found in Florida. With a guest list approaching over 200, there were a lot of things to consider about planning a wedding in another state. The mere thought of trusting vendors I had never met sent me into a panic. Not being able to visit the venue at last minute didn’t appeal to me either. So here was this dilemma: do we have a wedding locally with the vendors I know and trust in a less than ideal location? OR do we have our dream Fall wedding in a different state without knowing a single vendor and never having visited the site?

I made a list of pros and cons. I slept on it. I searched online forums for advice. I really couldn’t decide which option was best. Exhausted, I threw my hands up and said, “why don’t we just elope?!” Now, realistically, this would never fly with our parents. Plus, we couldn’t imagine a wedding without our families. So with a Grinch-like smirk on my face, a light bulb lit up. A family elopement.

I was so excited to finally be getting married, I wanted to shout it from the mountaintop! So… I found myself a mountaintop.


We’d officially be married at a private estate in Waynesville, North Carolina.

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And since our parents and brothers would be the only ones invited, we didn’t have to worry about guest travels and accommodations. Upon making this decision, we felt immensely at ease. We were going to get our dream wedding! Ideal outdoor location during the fall? Check. Family? Check.

Buuuuuut I didn’t want to forego a wedding party! (insert whiny voice) I still wanted a bouquet toss. I wanted to see old friends and family. I wanted to use the vendors I love. I wanted those traditional things. I was back at my original dilemma, because I couldn’t have both weddings… Or could I? The old saying goes, “it takes two”, and in our case, it takes two… weddings.

A month or so after our family elopement, we would have our “celebration” in Florida with all the vendors I trust, at a venue I could easily visit, and with a traditional bridal party and all the normal wedding events. The idea didn’t go over well with some people we told. Reactions ranged from, “so I’m not invited?” to “wait, you’re getting married twice?” I felt borderline offended when people belittled our decision. “Well an elopement isn’t a real wedding…” To me, the private ceremony in North Carolina was real. It was the one that meant the most to us. This was our ideal setting. Our favorite time of the year. A real dream come true to have my “backyard wedding”. How come no one could see that? At times, having friends and family laugh at the idea of “two weddings” made me doubt how great of an idea it really was. What in the world was I thinking, planning two weddings, my weddings… on top of the numerous client weddings I already had on my plate. Luckily, my fiancé was amazing. Through all the tears and panic attacks and doubts and sticker shock, he constantly reminded me that it wasn’t about everyone else or their opinions. All that mattered was us. US. We weren’t marrying anyone else but each other. 

10 months later, we started our drive to North Carolina.

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TO BE CONTINUED IN HITCHED ON A HILLTOP

My Magical Proposal [Pt. 2]

RECAP: We had just been approached by a magician, yes, A MAGICIAN!! to assist in a promotional magic video. 

without consulting Warren.. I volunteered the both of us to watch. 


We are then seated in two chairs facing a podium and the magician, Howard Blackwell. I didn’t even care to check if Warren was miserable watching magic while we were supposed to be eating. I was fixated on the magic tricks. I even got to be the magician’s assistant and participate in a few really neat illusions.

11220056_1035661159807359_3650522267104341070_n.jpgScreen Shot 2016-10-31 at 4.23.14 PM.pngThen it was Warren’s turn. The magician asked Warren to repeat after him: “I am the most amazzzzzzzzing magician, Warren. I am about to perform a trick in which I can read your mind!” (cue my giggles watching Warren standing in front of me, pretending to be a magician).  I am then instructed to “think of a card, any card” so I think of a Queen of Hearts. Then I think, noooooo let’s change it so if there’s any sort of algorithm here, I can beat it! (I’m convince that I’ll somehow be able to trick magicians. Ha. Bless my heart.)  I have my new card in my head (Jack of Spades). The magician/Warren asks me to say the card out loud. I do. Warren (repeating) says, “Aha! I knew that you’d pick that card! Ta-daaaaa!” and takes a bow. I snicker politely and play a little “womp womp” sound in my head. Did I really expect someone to  read my mind? There’s no slight of hand here, the magician made a claim to read. my. mind. Just then, he holds up his hand and says he’s not done yet. In a sealed manila envelope, he has my card, and to prove it, he will ask Warren to pull it out. Slowly, I see a spade peak through and sure enough, it’s a Jack! It’s my card, the Jack of Spades- but wait, there’s words. There’s… oh my gosh, on that JACK OF SPADES it says, “WILL YOU MARRY ME” and all in a matter of seconds, Warren is on one knee at my feet with a ring box in hand.

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Screen Shot 2016-10-31 at 4.36.28 PM.png“Amber, you are my best friend, my partner in crime, and the second funniest person I know”  (insert my interruption here to remind him that “no. I am the number one funniest person you know.”

“…and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Amber Christine Molidor… (extra points, because he used my full name) Will you marry me?”

And before I know it, there’s a gorgeous cushion cut diamond on my finger, and people around the park are clapping and congratulating us. The news station wanted to interview us immediately afterward, and I was speechless. (no, really speechless. The news story that aired that night shows me literally saying one word while looking like a deer in headlights.)

And despite all the excitement and happiness I feel… I was still curious how he knew my card. To this day, I am still baffled.

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Because I was a dumb-dumb who forgot her charger and had a dead phone during one of the most special times in her life… we problem-solved and sat in Warren’s truck, in a dark parking garage with my phone plugged into the car charger. We called all our friends and family. For 3 hours straight. I’d do the same gig- call my friends on FaceTime, ask if they can see me, and then ask if they could see… my ring!

2015-10-27 17.16.52.jpgscreen-shot-2016-11-06-at-9-53-04-pmBeing enormous practical jokers and pranksters, the immediate reaction from we got was, “is it real this time?” We also got a lot of happy tears and smiles. What was so special to me was the fact that Warren asked every one of my family members for permission to marry me. He asked my dad and older brother 5 months prior in person. He asked my mom and younger brother via phone call and was met with an overwhelming amount of happy tears (and of course permission from all 4 family members). We wrapped up our phone calls and never went to brunch, haha. We spent the day playing with our dog, Rogue, in the parks and decided to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner at the infamous Olde Pink House. Known for being haunted, I was super intrigued, but we were also informed that the food was delicious. We sat outside, again, because we had Rogue. We both ordered a BLT salad (buttermilk thyme dressing, fried green tomato and candied bacon) It’s as mouth-watering as it sounds. The server even brought Rogue her own plated of crispy bacon. It was amazing. We walked to Lulu’s Chocolate Bar down the road and got the most ginormous slices of cake you’ve ever seen. I, of course, took a photo of my left hand next to every food and drink item we ordered that night.

2015-10-27 20.01.15.jpg2015-10-27 21.28.46.jpg2015-10-29 10.42.28.jpgThat night, we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and I woke up the next morning engaged.

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this Facebook post was literally captioned “woke up engaged”

So, I could say Warren proposed with a deck of cards. But it’s so much more than that! Our proposal, and so many others, are more meaningful when explained fully. The thought and detail that was put into his and other proposals are often unacknowledged. Engagements aren’t about getting the Pinterest ring you always dreamed of, or obnoxiously overusing the word fiancé. The next time someone wonders how he asked, tell them you’ll try to make it short (but don’t). Relive in the moment again and remember just how amazing it felt to be engaged.

Here’s to all the magical proposals out there and the fiancés that go all out.

Happy Planning!

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My Magical Proposal [Pt.1]

He asked, you said yes! Now that your friends have seen your engagement ring up close, the inevitable question arises: “How did he propose?!” It’s something almost every bride-to-be is asked, and a quick sentence doesn’t always do the proposal justice. Maybe you were surprised with the ring hidden in a cupcake or balloons spelling out “marry me” in the park. But what led up to that moment? Did you have any idea what was happening? Was he nervous? Did you cry? Did he cry? I know I never want to forget the day Warren proposed to me. I want to remember every word he said when he asked. I want to remember exactly how the air smelled that day and just how long my cheeks hurt from smiling.

A proposal that peaked with this playing card, October 27, 2015 was a truly magical day.

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We were in Savannah, GA on a much-deserved vacation from work. Law enforcement had Warren working overtime 6-7 days a week and I had weddings every weekend leading up to our trip. When Warren was stationed for federal training in Brunswick, I’d drive up every other month and visit him for a weekend in Savannah. It quickly became special to us. It could have been the original brick roads, or the historic pass every visit. Not anything impressive, it was literally a corner building with two dusty windows facing the sidewalk. Upon pressing your hands and eyes against the glass, you could make out a poorly pastel painted “alter” on the back wall. Somewhat laughable, the grey berber carpet and 3 mismatched chairs inside were all that adorned this room. The window itself had “Savannah Wedding Chapel” in a cheesy yellow font. We took a picture by it each time we passed, and sent it to a family member with some caption about how we decided to elope. (That never went over too well. We eventually became the couple that cried wolf engagement.)

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the 3rd of many “fake wedding” pictures here

Savannah provided an escape from the busy lives we led in Miami. We rented a condo from VRBO and were able to bring our puppy with us. We planned to visit all the local foodie spots and couldn’t wait to get away from work. By complete chance, I forgot my phone charger at home, and Warren having an Android, convinced me that it was a sign; I didn’t need to answer any work calls or emails while away. I reluctantly agreed not to buy another one since I had a car charger that I could use for the rest of our drive.

We visited Zunzi’s, a local sandwich nook with a Yelp-renowned “special sauce”. We were walking distance from everything so Zunzi’s welcomed our dog inside and gave her some turkey while we waited for our sandwiches. Everywhere we went, people were kind and the places were all pet-friendly too. It was a nice change from what we were used to. IMG_6992.jpgWe spent the first night night watching Halloween movies and drinking hot chocolate. It was perfect “legging weather” which was nice, because I optimistically packed for just that. The next morning, we were going to walk to brunch and then straight to a nearby historic house tour that Warren had been dying to do since we had started planning the trip. It was a gloomy morning and Warren took Rogue out to the bathroom to a square across the street. Our balcony overlooked the park and I painted my nails to waste some time before brunch. When they got back to the condo, Warren said our moms were begging for a picture of the two of us. I reluctantly agreed, since this was a frequent request of them both, despite how the rain had made my hair less than pretty. We agreed to leave Rogue at the condo instead of walking her back after brunch. Warren grabbed his rain coat and I jokingly asked if he had a ring in there. (It was something I routinely joked about after 4 years of being together…) I just had no idea today was the day he actually did!

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the balcony selfie he sent our moms the accomplice

The entire walk to brunch, Warren kept offering me his rain coat, but I’m one of those people that concludes I’m not going to melt from a little water. So a little damp, we make our way through Chippewa Square, where Forrest Gump had the famous bus stop scene. People are walking by with umbrellas and I notice a group of people from a local Savannah news station that look particularly disgruntled by the rain. I turn to Warren and tell him I feel sorry that they have to shoot in this weather. Just then, a man approaches us and asks (desperately) if we will help him. He’s a local magician* looking to film his promotional video, but the rain has produced a less than enthusiastic audience turnout.


*So if this were a movie, I’d shout, “Pause!” and break the fourth wall right now to tell you how much I LOVE magic. Seriously. I’m a sucker for card tricks and disappearing acts and rabbits in hats and people getting sawed in half. I’ll stop to watch the lamest street performance just to see the final reveal. I love magic. Did I already say that?

Play”.


So without consulting Warren, and turning my back on brunch, I volunteer the both of us to watch.

 

TO BE CONTINUED IN MY MAGICAL PROPOSAL [PT. 2]