Category Archives: Wedding

All things lace and cake.

Young, Married & Pissed Off

On September 20th of this year, I married my best friend in a beautiful wedding ceremony in Baltimore, surrounded by our closest loved ones. I was just shy of turning 24. Mike was 26. And although we have only been married for three months, in March we will celebrate our eight year “anniversary.”

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I mention this because this time of year seems to bring about two things:

  1. Several engagement announcements (I myself got engaged Christmas day two years ago)
  2. Several condemning blog posts about said engagements (no seriously… they’re everywhere)

While I was planning my wedding, I noticed a trend that began festering. From Huffington Post to blogs like this and ridiculous posts like this one about the “23 things you just HAVE to do instead of getting engaged before you’re 23,” people are becoming more vocalized and more vitriolic about their distaste for their fellow peers who are tying the knot in their early 20s.

These posts all share the same sentiment:

  1. People who marry young are missing out on opportunities in life
  2. People who marry young will end up divorced

These bloggers write that once you’re married, you can kiss your youth and any semblance of ‘fun’ goodbye. That walks down the aisle are now synonymous with funeral marches for your social life. That your 20s are meant for crazy, drunken nights full of bad mistakes, not picking out wedding dresses and filing joint tax returns. That anyone who gets married before the age of 25 is practically begging for a life of unhappiness.

But to lump all ‘young’ marriages into the same doomsday category is just as ignorant as calling all “millennials” lazy and uneducated.

I’m not here to advocate that people should marry young. I’m not even advocating that people need to get married at all, because it’s not for everyone. I’m a firm believer that marriage is meant to be forever – through the good, the bad, and the I-hate-your-guts-right-now downright ugly.  People should only get married when they are absolutely ready – whether that means 23 or 43 – because no two couples are the same and not all marriages are created equal.

I have seen people get married and divorced all before they celebrated their 21st birthday. I’ve seen people who have been together for a few years get married in their 40s only to get divorced a few months later. I’ve known people who married in their 20s and have been together for more than 60 years.

It seems everyone these days has their own idea of what they determine to be an acceptable age for people to make the commitment of marriage, and to those people I ask – who made you the expert in other people’s relationships? When we turn 25, is there a magical “I’m ready for marriage now” switch that suddenly goes off?

Because I’m calling bullshit.

For those who might want to throw some overly-used statistics at me right about now, here, let me do it for you.

  • According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 60 percent of marriages for couples between the ages of 20 and 25 end in divorce.
  • Also according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 50 percent of all marriages in which the brides are 25 or older result in a failed marriage.

Seems like we’re damned at any age…. According to statistics.

But like many things in life that don’t fall into black or white, definitively defined categories, marriage is a gray matter with far too many variables to consider when trying to determine why some marriages succeed and why some marriages fail. Variables that include respect, honesty, trust, love, patience, kindness, understanding and compromise. Things that take a lifetime to learn and understand and can’t be measured on a scale. Things that my parents, who have been married for nearly 30 years have been learning since they got married in their early 20s.

With all of these stories and statistics, I believe that the demise of a marriage is more a testament to the lack of maturity in the relationship, and the lack of maturity of the individuals, more-so than a person‘s age.

A successful marriage, at ANY age, is one where both partners have a strong understanding of the other’s needs and desires and work together to help achieve them. One of the most overused arguments in these anti-marriage blogs is that in your twenties you’re still discovering yourself and that you can’t discover yourself when you’re tied down to someone else. That you need to be single in order to make mistakes, figure out what you like and don’t like, travel the world and be selfish.

But I’m here to tell you I’ve done all of those things. And I’ve done them with the unfaltering love and support of my best friend and now husband. I began dating Mike when I was only 16. And in these last eight years I have traveled to Europe, graduated high school, gone to college, made new friends, lost old friends, partied until the sun came up, lost myself, found myself, spent a summer in Paris, drank too much, laughed too hard, made mistakes, had regrets, challenged myself, pursued my dreams, changed my dreams, graduated college,  landed a dream job, picked up my life and moved three states away, changed jobs, made more friends, and changed myself again.

a paris

And I’ve done it all with Mike by my side. Encouraging me the entire way. We grew up together. And in those eight years, we’ve both changed quite a bit, and I will venture to say, it’s been for the better. Mike and I motivate and challenge each other to be better than we were yesterday. We support each other when one is weak or failing. We push each other out of our comfort zones and dare each other to try new things. But we always allow the other the space they need to grow.  Together we have faced triumphs and successes, hardships and loss. That kind of support and companionship is something I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I am incredibly lucky to have found it so early in life.

So while my counterparts may be out clubbing until 4 in the morning or backpacking across Europe to ‘find themselves’, I am content with spending a night in with my husband and our two cats. Or trying the newest hit restaurant in town. Or planning trips to Barcelona and Rome for the fall. Or hosting a dinner party with a group of close friends.  Or god forbid – spending time alone or with friends to focus on ourselves (because contrary to popular belief – married folks are able to do this too.)

It may not be your idea of what someone in her 20s should be doing – but for me, it works just fine.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what matters? People making their own decisions to find their own version of happiness, whether that means being single, marrying the love of your life or everything else in between. Your life and the decisions you make are yours and yours alone, and deserve to be free from scrutiny and judgment.  But let’s be real… that will never happen, so ignore the naysayers and the doomsday statistics.

Cheers to you and your happiness – whatever, whenever and whoever it may be.

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Long time no write!

Hello ‘world.’

It’s been so long since I last wrote, I forgot my log-in password and had to have it emailed to me.

But, considering what I’ve been up to these last few months – I think you’ll understand.

Since we last spoke, I….

–          Got married

–          Honeymooned in Paris

–          Started a new job

….all within less than two weeks.

I’ll try to catch you up a little bit, but those giant life changes are each getting their own blog posts later next week, starting of course with the wedding of my dreams.

On September 20, all of our closest friends and family gathered in Baltimore, Md. to watch Mike and I say, “I do.” Everything about our wedding day was perfect – from the gorgeous weather (not a cloud in the sky!) to the moment we saw each other for the first time that day as I walked down the aisle (I still get chills thinking about it) to dancing the night away with the people we love most. Honestly – it was everything I had ever dreamed of and more – so expect a 2,000 word blog post on that, full of pictures, sometime early next week.

Photo credit: Nelson Pun

Photo credit: Nelson Pun

The morning after the wedding, we woke up at 7 a.m. after a brief 3 hour nap to quick throw everything into bags, get a quick shower and hop the shuttle to BWI to catch our flight to Paris for our honeymoon. I got a steal on our flights, which is probably explained by the ridiculous number of layovers… from Baltimore to Boston, from Boston to Iceland and finally from Iceland to Paris. We didn’t arrive until 6 am Sunday and of course, my bag got lost along the way, but we didn’t let it deter us. This was my third time to Paris and it was by far the most magical trip of the three – I mean, does it get any more romantic than curling up on a blanket underneath the Eiffel Tower for six hours, feeding your new husband chocolate and throwing back bottle after bottle of champagne? More on that later.

La joie de vivre!

La joie de vivre!

We got back from our honeymoon late Sunday night, and thank god we took off that Monday because we were both incredibly jet lagged and had a monstrous amount of wedding crap to clean up. The next day I started my new job as the Special Events Coordinator at The HSUS (yep – same organization, different role!) and got thrown right into the deep end as we have our biggest event coming up in just three short weeks! It’s been a whirlwind since I started but I really love it so far. I was incredibly nervous if I was making the right move career-wise by going after this job, but I think I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. The leap of faith has proven to be worth it. Again – more on that next week.

The big day is almost here!

The big day is almost here!

I’ve missed blogging so much these past few months, but I have so many wonderful stories that I can’t wait to share with you all.

Until next time!

#36. have an awesome bridal shower

We are officially in double-digit territory folks. That’s right. There are now only 93 days left until the ‘big day’ and Mike and I are scrambling to get things together.

Two weeks ago my sister, the maid of honor in my wedding, and my bridesmaids hosted my bridal shower at my mom’s house.

After weeks and weeks of a constant barrage of texts from Rissa, telling me about all the wonderful things she had planned, I could barely contain my excitement. Thanks to Pinterest, coupled with my early-age obsession with all things wedding, I had created in my head the bridal shower of my dreams.

It would be pink. Definitely pink.

And there would be champagne. Lots of it.

And a beautiful cake.

And flowers, and delicious food and small beautiful details.

And my closet friends and family.

But then I reminded myself to be realistic and decided I’d be happy with just pizza, friends and booze.

The day before the shower, I picked up Bethany and her, Mike and I made the three hour trek to Pennsylvania. After filling up on half priced appetizers at Applebee’s, we went back to Rissa’s and crashed for the night. (I’m convinced Bethany is a saint for surviving six total hours with Mike and I in the car and having to spend an entire weekend with my friends and family).

The next morning I anxiously got ready in my new mint lace dress. I quickly blow dried my hair and scrutinized my makeup. I wanted to look like a ‘blushing bride.’ B and I grabbed some Wawa iced coffees to give ourselves the needed fuel to make it throughout the long day ahead.

Before I knew it I was receiving text after text from Rissa telling me to hurry up and come over – that it was finally time for my bridal shower to start.

We pulled up and after giving out a few hugs to those who were waiting on the front porch, Rissa walked me through the house to see everything.

And nothing – no dreamed up vision, no Pinterest board, no TLC reality TV show could have prepared me for how absolutely beautiful and amazing and perfect everything was. I was literally lost for words (which doesn’t happen often).

There was pink. Everywhere.

And champagne. Lots of it.

And the most beautiful cake I had ever seen.

And flowers. And tables full of delicious food. And so many small beautiful details I couldn’t take them all in fast enough.

And most importantly, my closest family and friends.

The beautiful spread. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

The beautiful spread. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

My favorite thing: a mimosa bar. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

My favorite thing: a mimosa bar. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

The cake in all her Parisian sparkly glory. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

The cake in all her Parisian sparkly glory. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

...And my reaction to said amazing cake.

…And my reaction to said amazing cake.

By the time I made it to the back deck, my eyes were swelling up with tears because I was completely and utterly overwhelmed with how perfect everything was. It was all I had ever dreamed of and more. And  so I buried my face in Rissa’s shoulder as we both sobbed and whimpered to each other how much we loved one another. Because we’re big babies like that.

Soon to be Mrs. (Ianni)-Young.

Soon to be Mrs. (Ianni)-Young.

Mmm, mimosa. Courtesy: B. Roons.

Mmm, mimosa. Courtesy: B. Roons.

I got spoiled.

I got spoiled.

The rest of the day was filled with lots of mimosas, and catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, and snapping dozens of pictures, and wrapping ourselves in toilet paper, and laughing until our stomachs ached. There were speeches. And tears. And more mimosas. And love. Lots and lots of love.

So much love I felt like I could burst.

So. much. love.

So. much. love.

The three musketeers.

The three musketeers.

Two of my favorite ladies. Photo courtesy of Bethany.

Two of my favorite ladies. Photo courtesy of Bethany.

My temple ladies.

My temple ladies.

I felt so lucky that day, looking around the room and each of those women, to call them my friends and my family. Especially my amazing bridal party for everything they did to put it together, my mom for not having a complete panic attack with all the commotion in her house, and of course, my best friend, sister, and maid of honor, Rissa for always finding a way to give me the world and more.

My amazing bridal party.

My amazing bridal party.

My best friend, sister, maid of honor. Basically, I'd be lost without her.

My best friend, sister, maid of honor. Basically, I’d be lost without her.

After everyone started trickling out and the final hugs were exchanged, the few of us that remained chowed down on pizzas. 6 large pizzas and 2 orders of breadsticks to be exact. What can I say, bridal showers will take a lot out of you.

Hungry much?

Hungry much?

Jess, Bethany, Rissa, me and the boys stayed up drinking margaritas and playing card games late into the night. It was the perfect way to end an already perfect day.

Margaritas & a game of bullshit.

Margaritas & a game of bullshit.

The next morning, everyone was slow and sluggish, still recovering from Saturday’s festivities. After more coffee, croissants and muffins, Mike, Bethany and I stuffed the gifts into the car and made the three hour drive home, with a Rita’s pit stop on the way.

My breakfast the following day, a disgustingly delicious truffle.

My breakfast the following day, a disgustingly delicious truffle.

Mike and I spent the next three hours cleaning the apartment and setting up all of our beautiful gifts, turning our place into even more of a home.

Rissa's (one of many) beautiful gift to me - a love bracelet to match with hers.

Rissa’s (one of many) beautiful gift to me – a love bracelet to match with hers.

I sprawled out across the floor, exhausted and sweaty, but happy, and closed my eyes, replaying the entire weekend in my mind again.

It really was that perfect.

Family forever, for always and no matter what.

Family forever, for always and no matter what.

April showers bring May flowers – and life updates!

It’s crazy that today marks the end of April and tomorrow May will take its place. I feel like it was just yesterday that I rang in the new year and decided I was going to make 2013 my best year yet. I must say, four months in, I love the way 2013 feels. I thought I’d give everyone a brief update on what’s been going on in my life.

april update

In these past few months, I’ve checked twenty-five things off my 213 in 2013 list. Some of them have been small but meaningful – like spending a perfect sunny afternoon at a farmers market, buying up local art. Others were a bit intimidating, like skiing down a mountain for the first time. And some were absolutely life-changing, like finally go skydiving after years of only daydreaming about it.

Free-falling.

In just two weeks, Mike and I will be boarding a plane to Houston, Texas to visit his family. He hasn’t seen his dad, his stepmom and his adorable brothers and sisters in years, which is why I knew two plane tickets would be the perfect Christmas gift. I’m excited for my first official “vacation” since I joined the working world and look forward to stuffing myself full of authentic Texas barbeque. And to celebrate Mike’s 26th birthday in a big way. Because everything in Texas is bigger, right?

Mike's big Christmas gift this year - two tickets to Texas to see his family.

Mike’s big Christmas gift this year – two tickets to Texas to see his family.

Also – somehow over the past few months, I went from having a year until the wedding to only 142 days! That’s less than five months. Mike and I have been busy locking down hotel rooms, rehearsal dinner, guest transportation, suits for the groomsmen and a dress for my mom, you name it. In between all of the big stuff though we’ve been having a really great time working on the fun little details – like table numbers and invitations and centerpieces.

Cute little touches like this make me happy. Here is our "seating chart" sign.

Cute little touches like this make me happy. Here is our “seating chart” sign.

I think we’re now a couple thousand over budget, even with all of my DIY projects and bargain hunting. It’s crazy to me how expensive weddings can be, but I keep reminding myself it will all be worth it in the end. We have a meeting with our caterer in the coming weeks to nail down floor layouts, linen colors and dinnerware. If planning this wedding has taught me anything – it’s how to be more decisive. I’ve never had to make so many decisions in my life!

Only 143 days to go. Not like I'm counting.

Only 143 days to go. Not like I’m counting.

Oh, and in case you hadn’t heard – Mike and I booked our dream honeymoon. We’re going to Paris! And we leave the morning after the wedding. As in our flight leaves at 9:15am. And then we get to spend the next seven days in the city of love, canoodling over croissants and Chardonnay and everything magical that Paris has to offer. Thank you, tax return.

Awesome piece that appeared in USA Today on our Be Cruelty-Free campaign.

Awesome piece that appeared in USA Today on our Be Cruelty-Free campaign.

My one year moveiversary (May 12) and workiversary are also quickly approaching (May 21). It’s crazy how much can change in just a year. I’ve kind of fallen in love with my new home and the people I’ve met, although it has been a long, a bumpy road. My job continues to challenge me every day (in a good way!) and I’m unbelievably proud of myself for everything I’ve accomplished – from coverage in the biggest media outlets to growing as a professional.

New dining room paint job - still a work in progress.

New dining room paint job – still a work in progress.

Updated coffee table centerpiece - sans flowers. Can't you tell I love pink?

Updated coffee table centerpiece – sans flowers. Can’t you tell I love pink?

As for the day-to-day, Mike and I are working to make our apartment feel more like a home, between more Pinspiration and a few fresh coats of paint. We’re also putting down the takeout and opting for cooking healthier, fresher meals, which is making both our wallets and our waistline happier.

I made a homemade flatbread with low-fat/skim mozzarella, skim ricotta and some sundried tomatoes and basil. YUM.

I made a homemade flatbread with low-fat/skim mozzarella, skim ricotta and some sundried tomatoes and basil. YUM.

Which brings me to my point. I’ve been living by a mantra so far this year. And it’s working.

“You are the creator of your own happiness.”

After I graduated I fell into a slump. I was lonely. I felt disconnected. I wasn’t myself. I was unhappy.

april update happy

It’s amazing that the second you make the decision that all of those negative feelings stop, that pessimism won’t win, you regain your balance. And ultimately your happiness.

I’m loving life right now.

Because I choose to.

What exciting things do you guys have to look forward to in the coming months? Any big life changes you want to share? I’d love to hear!

#13 & #14 go wedding dress and bridesmaid dress shopping

Brace yourself kiddies, this is a double-header and it’s a long one.

I have always admittedly been one of those girls who daydreamed about her wedding day before I could even tie my shoes. I grew up in the middle of the Disney Princess phenomenon when every girl thought Prince Charming actually existed and that he’d sweep you off your feet on a magic carpet ride. Luckily, I grew out of that fairly quickly and Disney Princess movies were replaced with episodes of Say Yes to the Dress. For as long as I can remember, I’d watch every episode, curled up on my couch and dreamed about the day I’d finally be able to try on a wedding dress for the very first time.

In my fantasy, I’d come out of the dressing room and my mom, sister and closest friends would be sitting on a grand, white couch, sipping champagne as I made my way to the pedestal in the center of the room. They would all start crying and telling me how beautiful I looked. I’d turn around, catch a glance of myself in the mirror and with complete joy and excitement, jump eagerly up and down as I shouted “I’m saying yes to the dress!”

And that, my friends, is why fantasies are called fantasies. Thanks, TLC.

This past Saturday, I woke up at the crack of dawn, shaved my legs for the first time in a week and made the three hour drive to Pennsylvania to go wedding dress and bridesmaid dress shopping with my bridal party. My sister, the maid of honor, had made us two appointments that day and reservations for dinner afterwards to celebrate what we hoped would be a successful shopping trip. Oh, and did I mention there was a big blizzard in the Northeast this weekend? Yeah, only us. Luckily, the snow didn’t keep us away from a day full of tacky dresses, tulle and in the end, perfect and fantastical moments.

Every girl needs a little sparkle to help her feel special.

Every girl needs a little sparkle to help her feel special.

Unfortunately, in the area I was looking, there were a total of three bridal stores and of the three, one didn’t carry anything bigger than a size 10 (seriously?), so our choices were pretty limited. We drove up to the first stop of the day – Bridaltown. When I say this place is stuck in a really, really bad 1980s movie, I’m not kidding  — baby pink exterior, floral floor to ceiling wallpaper and stained magenta carpet, you name it. After being told they didn’t have a reservation in the system for us (liars, you called me thirty minutes ago to confirm), they took us to where they kept the bridesmaid dresses – a sad looking rack full of sad looking dresses. Dresses that were ill-fitting, poorly made and not to mention exorbitantly priced.

I wish I was joking... but this place actually exists.

I wish I was joking… but this place actually exists.

We decided the place sucked way too much to spend another minute there so we wrapped up our appointment.

Our next and last stop of the day was David’s Bridal in Plymouth Meeting. Before we could even walk into the store, Jess yanked the door a little too hard and her French manicured nail completely rips off and flies into the air. Alex and my mom are talking about doing shots out of the back of a car. I realize I have the Motley Crew as my bridal party (and quite frankly, couldn’t be happier about it, total dysfunction and all.)

Racks and racks and racks of dresses.

Racks and racks and racks of dresses.

The difference between Bridaltown and David’s Bridal is like describing the difference between heaven and hell. Gone are the pink walls and stained carpet with sad looking dresses and bitchy sales people. Instead there is a warm and welcoming hostess greeting me at the door, congratulating me on my upcoming wedding and to our left and right, rows upon rows of beautiful dresses. It’s finally starting to look a bit more like my TLC-inspired fantasy.

The girls run off and each take a row to pick out dresses for themselves as I greet my consultant, Lisa, who’s wearing combat boots, fishnets and is a complete and total angel. She asks me what I want and that’s when I realized – I had no clue. I had planned every other aspect of the wedding down to a drop of glitter and here I am, clueless as to how I want to look on my big day. I had two pictures of dresses I thought I’d like, told her my price point and said above all else – I want something that will make me look good.

She pulls the two dresses I showed her off the rack and a third, out-of-the-box choice – something she thought I’d look good in. As I get crammed into a corseted bra, put on a slip and get laced into my first dress, it finally hits me – this is my moment. The one I had been waiting for and had dreamed about for so long. I step out of the dressing room waiting to see the reaction of my mom’s face, my bridal party, everyone… and when I go out, nobody is there. HA. My mom is in the bathroom peeing and my bridesmaids didn’t even realize I was trying on dresses. It’s alright though, because the first dress was kind of a bust. Once everyone saw me in it they gave it an 8. Moving on.

Unfortunately, not a winner.

I go back in to try on the second dress – Lisa’s choice and before I can even look at myself in the mirror, my bridal party is oohing and aahing and my mom is crying. It’s hit her that her firstborn is getting married in a few months. Cue the tissues. The dress was beautiful – covered in ivory lace, intricate beading and form-fitted.

I try on the third dress, what I thought was going to be “the one” and it turns out it looked absolutely atrocious. My sister said I looked like a tent and the fabric felt like a cheap down comforter.

I put everyone’s favorite dress back on. But despite everyone loving it, I couldn’t see myself walking down the aisle in it. I didn’t like the way my body looked. I was uncomfortable. And before I knew it I was a few seconds away from a total bridal breakdown. My bridal party, the amazing group that they are, calmed me down by fanning me, telling me I looked beautiful and agreeing to let me have a break as they tried on their bridesmaid dresses.

As I sat in the chair, back in my jeans and cardigan, convinced I wouldn’t be leaving with a wedding dress, I took a deep breath and waited for them to come out of the dressing room. The first round of dresses didn’t produce any winners, although Jess thought it was a good idea to booty pop in her bubble dress. Like I said – Motley Crew.

They go back in and come back out with the second round of dresses and one by one, each of them looks absolutely stunning as they stand in front of me. Four girls with four very different body shapes and yet this one dress looks beautiful on all of them. It was a bridesmaid miracle. Okay, I thought. Things are looking up. Maybe I’ll find a dress afterall.

The color swatch for the bridesmaid dresses -- pewter gray!

The color swatch for the bridesmaid dresses — pewter gray!

I tell Lisa a few more basic ideas for what I’m looking for in a wedding dress. She pauses, nods her head and comes back with three more. I try the first one on and before its even laced up all the way, before I can even see myself – I knew.

I walked out onto the floor and stood in front of the mirror. I was beaming. Glowing, even, as I have been told. It wasn’t anything I had ever expected to fall in love with. But I was – I was completely, head-over-heels in love with this dress and I didn’t want to take it off. I felt beautiful for the first time that day.

I tried on the other two dresses she pulled as a courtesy (and because you only get to try on wedding dresses once in your life, so I figured I should have fun with it), but none of them came close to the first dress. My bridal party was eerily silent (a tactic I later learned to get me to admit to loving my dress instead of seeking their approval), but they told me to come back out in my favorite dress.

So I did. I put on the beautiful, white gown again and walked out to look at myself one last time before turning to my bridal party, holding back my tears and yelling “this is my dress!”

Lisa brought over the bell, a David’s Bridal tradition. She placed it in my hand, told me to close my eyes and make a wish for my wedding day. I let the moment sink in. That I was standing in the dress I would be wearing when I’d become Mike’s wife. That I was surrounded by people who all genuinely love me. That I had never felt more beautiful. I made a wish, opened my eyes and rang the hell out of that bell, so loudly that the entire store stopped to clap and congratulate me.

I wish it was acceptable to wear my wedding dress every day until September.

I wish it was acceptable to wear my wedding dress every day until September.

It was better than any fantasy I could have ever had. It was imperfectly perfect in every way.

We wrapped up the day by grabbing dinner and drinks at California Pizza Kitchen – complimentary “wedding” pie included.

Our waitress was amazing and gave me free keylime pie to celebrate my special day.

Our waitress was amazing and gave me free keylime pie to celebrate my special day.

I spent the next day staring at my wedding dress, picturing myself walking down the aisle to the man I love, with the women I love standing right beside me.

’tis the season for a wedding proposal

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Can you believe there are only 20 days left until Christmas? If you haven’t caught on yet – the holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year. And while I’m sure this Christmas will be wonderful, full of the usual overdose on cookies, eggnog and wrapping paper, I know nothing will be able to top last year.

Why, you ask?

Last year, on Christmas day, Mike got down on one knee in his fuzzy moose pajamas and asked me to marry him. It was, and still is, the best day of my life (until I marry him, of course!)

It was probably around last summer that I began pestering Mike about when I could expect a ring on my finger. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty annoying and I by no means made it easy for him. So much so, that my own friends began telling me to cool my jets. I wasn’t a pain in the ass because I wanted a big diamond ring – in fact, I told him multiple times I would happily accept a RingPop if it meant being able to call myself his fiancé. We had been together for nearly six years and we knew we were going to get married… but patience has never been my virtue and I didn’t want to wait anymore.

I finally heeded the advice from family and friends to back off before I ruined my own proposal and I knew that it would come eventually… I just needed to be willing to wait. So I did. The summer turned into fall and the fall turned into winter, and before I knew it, it was Christmas day.

Mike knew that Christmas was my favorite day of the year and how much I loved being with family, wrapped around the Christmas tree with Bing Crosby crooning in the background. As we do every year, we woke up early and shuffled downstairs in our new fuzzy pajamas and slippers from the night before and took our places on the couches, chairs and floor.

One by one, presents were passed around to each person in the room, followed by the sound of ripped wrapping paper and squeals of delight and gratitude. New work clothes, fancy kitchen gadgets, blu ray DVDs, colognes and watches… everyone took pleasure in the looks of excitement on each person’s face as they’d open their gifts. Finally, all of the presents underneath the tree were gone and all that was left were pieces of ribbon, opened boxes and crumpled up paper.

I remember feeling a pang of disappoint in my chest. I really thought that he was going to propose. It had seemed like the perfect opportunity. But as quickly as it came, I pushed it aside and leaned over to give him a big kiss.

He sprang up from the couch and told me he had one more present to give, but that it was too big to fit under the tree. I was confused and sat waiting on the couch as Mike and my brother disappeared into the garage to go get my “mystery gift.”

Too big to fit under the tree? Well clearly it can’t be a ring, I thought. And for the next five minutes I sat there trying to think of what it could possibly be.

I hear the backdoor slide open and my brother and Mike slowly begin walking into the living room with one of the biggest wrapped presents I have ever seen. It was flat and thin – clearly a giant piece of art. They gently set it on the couch and Mike quick grabbed one other present that had been hiding behind the tree.

“Open it!” he said, indicating the giant present on the couch.

I sat down and delicately began ripping away the paper. Underneath was a breathtakingly beautiful black and white framed photograph of the Paris skyline, with the Eiffel Tower illuminating with light in the distance. I had just come back from studying in Paris for five weeks that summer – my favorite city in the entire world. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love affair with Paris and left my heart there after I came back to the states. It has always been my dream to be proposed to under the Eiffel Tower, but I knew it just wasn’t in the cards for us.

parisBefore I could thank him for such a beautiful gift, he gave me the other present he had been holding in his hands and told me to wait. He quickly ran into the kitchen to grab a bottle of Moscato and told me he wanted  to bring Paris to me, since he knew I missed it so much – all of those lazy sunny afternoons sipping wine in the most incredible city on earth.

I opened the other wrapped present to find six wine glasses with tissue paper stuffed inside each one. He passed glasses around to everyone else in the room and handed me the last one, saying he wanted to make a toast to another great holiday with the family. As I pulled the tissue paper out of my glass, I heard a small “clink” sound.

I looked down and in my glass I saw it.

A diamond ring.

In that moment, everything became a blur. I looked up, tears rolling down my cheeks and in front of me was Mike on one knee, asking me to marry him. Under the Eiffel Tower, just as I had always dreamed, but even better. Because I was surrounded by my family, on my favorite day of the year, being proposed to by the love of my life and my best friend.

Needless to say, it was the absolute best Christmas present I have ever received and the most perfect proposal I could have ever hoped for.

It feels like it was just yesterday, not almost a year ago since I said yes to becoming Mike’s wife.

I’m beyond excited to celebrate our 7th Christmas together this year. I’m even more excited to marry him in 289 days… but who’s counting?

saying “i do” to holiday shopping wedding specials

I have a confession to make everyone. When I can’t sleep at night (which happens way more often than I’d like), instead of trying to turn back over and count sheep… I whip out my iPhone. And I Pin.

Last night, for some reason or other, Mike snored louder than usual and at 4:31 this morning, my eyes flung up and I just knew that I wouldn’t be falling back asleep again. After about an hour of failed attempts of flipping over pillows, readjusting body positions and nudging Mike to be quiet, I grabbed my phone and started surfing through Pinterest for more wedding Pinspiration. Needless to say, I think I’m up to more than 500 wedding pins by now… for about 10 different versions of a wedding I’ll never be able to afford.

My wedding color inspiration. What do you think?

While I’m still 10 months out from walking down the aisle, I can’t help but wanting to dive into all the tiny, detailed projects that are usually reserved for 2-3 months before the wedding. Things like table numbers, place cards, guest favors…you get the idea. All the while, I still don’t even have my Save the Dates out the door yet (that’s our project this holiday weekend… it is my goal to be able to write in my next wedding Wednesday post that they’ve been shipped out.)

Because I’m such an OCD, need-to-do-everything-way-too-early bride, I’ve found it helpful to consult different wedding planning timelines to keep myself rest assured that I’m not falling behind schedule.

I found this timeline (on Pinterest, of course) and I think it does a great job at outlining where I should be with my wedding planning progress every step of the way. So far, it looks like I’m on schedule.

Besides sharing my schedule neurosis, I wanted to be sure I shared some great Black Friday wedding sales that every bride should know about. I’ve always loved Black Friday shopping (my mom began taking me to Walmart at the age of 10 after I begged her for weeks), so as a budget bride, nothing gets me more jazzed than big wedding sales.

Tying The Knott did a great job with this post about various deals, including discounts on limo services, wedding invitations and favors, personalized candies and organic bouquets.

Michael’s, one of my favorite crafts stores, is having a ton of Black Friday sales which you can check out in its ads here.

Of course, top retailers like Target, Macys, Nordstroms and Kohls have Black Friday sales planned that shouldn’t be missed as well.

For those who don’t like waiting in line for hours with frozen fingers and toes and uber-pushy sale shoppers, don’t forget to take advantage of Cyber Monday deals as well – when you can get a great bargain with a quick click of a mouse. Retailers include David’s Bridal, The Knot Wedding Shop, ProFlowers, Snapfish and RedEnvelope to name a few.

Here’s to a great holiday and unbeatable bargains.

Do you plan on saying “I do” to any of these Black Friday/Cyber Monday wedding deals or do you have others to share?