Tag Archives: wedding planning

#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.


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!

’tis the season for a wedding proposal


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?

tying the knot without severing ties

Happy “Hump Day” everyone – here’s to making it halfway through the week.

The countdown continues, with 310 days until the wedding – which is strange because it still feels so far away  — yet when I was having dinner with my friends this past weekend, I nearly choked on my water when I realized how close it was. We’re basically at the 10-month mark now although I keep catching myself say “Oh, the wedding is still a year away…”

Mike & I at my high school senior prom. I guess we were practicing for the real thing.

The dreaded Save the Dates are still unfortunately a work in progress. As I mentioned in my previous post, we ordered 50 prints from Snapfish and I didn’t realize they’d come printed out with the Snapfish photo stamp on the back. Plus they’re pretty flimsy. So we’ve decided to frame them with some charcoal grey cardstock… although the problem then lies in finding 5×7 grey cardstock that doesn’t cost and arm and a leg (if it even exists in the first place). I think I’ll fall over and laugh if these end up costing the same amount if I had just ordered them from Wedding Paper Divas. DIY-lesson-learned.

What we’re struggling with now is putting together a guest list, which goes hand-in-hand with the Save the Dates. Because we’re paying for the wedding by ourselves, it means that we unfortunately can’t have your “average-sized” wedding of 150+ people. Mike and I both come from pretty sizeable families, so of the 50 people we’re inviting to the wedding – more than half is family. And that’s with us being “cut-throat” as we’re not inviting any kids (I’m a firm believer weddings aren’t for kids anyways, unless they’re your own) or cousins. We’re even being pretty choosy about the aunts and uncles that we haven’t seen in years.

The hard part is figuring out everyone else after that. You’ve got the bridal party, which adds on about 9 – 10 people, and then you have to navigate the muddled waters of college friends, high school friends, work friends, family friends… and then on top of that, figuring out who can and can’t have a +1!

I think this is the aspect that has me most stressed about the wedding planning process. I’m the kind of person that hates saying no to anyone, or making people feel left out or excluded. In my quest to make this wedding as drama-free as possible – I know this is the one area that could get messy.

While I’m not sure this is the answer to all of my questions… I did find this Glamour article with a few tips for trimming down the guest list without hurting too many feelings. Hopefully this will come in handy when I start making my 27th draft.

  • When was the last time you spoke to them? Has it been more than a year? Chances are, they shouldn’t make the final cut.
  • How often do you see them? Don’t give this too much weight if you live a pricey plane ride away. If you’re in the same metro area, and it’s been more than a year since you’ve gotten together (with no upcoming plans to see each other), you can safely scratch them off.
  • Would you be offended if you weren’t invited to their wedding? Some of you are so thick-skinned that getting left out wouldn’t bug you one bit (kudos!). This question is useful for the more sensitive among us. You can’t nix someone from your wedding festivities and expect to be invited to theirs (unless your wedding is teeny tiny and theirs is supersized, and even then, you still may not make the cut).
  • Do they really need to be invited with a guest? Plus one’s should be reserved for those who are married, in long-term relationships or have live-in partners. Your single friends can find dates during the after party.
  • Will they be a part of your lives forever? This is why eliminating relatives is hard. They’ll always be related. Old co-workers and neighbors, on the other hand, may not keep in touch after your wedding. Of course you can’t predict the future, but if you suspect they’ll drop off the face of the earth, they can get the boot.

Any advice to a bride struggling with guest lists? I never realized how tricky it can be to tie the knot, without severing any ties in the process.

the 4 dollar victory of a budget bride

Six years and seven months. 150 miles. Three apartments.  2 cats. 1 boy. 1 girl.

331 days.

That’s how many days are left until I put on a white dress, walk down the aisle and say “I do” to becoming Mike’s wife.

Pretty exciting if you ask me.

Remember the whole “Save the Date” post I wrote a few weeks back where I go into detail about the hundreds of ideas I have gone through and tossed aside? The same stupid Save the Dates that caused Mike and I to claw at each other’s throats after spending hours surfing Pinterest and wedding blogs to find the “perfect one?”

Well – after tossing a million and one ideas in the desktop “recycling bin” we finally figured it out. And we couldn’t be more excited about the finished product. Because it looks awesome. And because they cost us $3.60.

Here’s the thing… I’m planning a wedding on a pretty small budget. $10k to be exact.

Well – in the wedding industry that’s considered tiny. To my bank account – it’s a pretty daunting number since Mike and I are paying for this wedding by ourselves. I mean – I know people who spend half of that on their dress alone.

But I need to find a way to stretch $10k to cover EVERYTHING. That includes venue, catering, open bar, wedding dress, groom’s tux, paper goods like invitations, save the dates, postage, flowers, bouquets, centerpieces, DJ, photographer, hotel stay, rehearsal dinner, wedding bands, bridal accessories, transportation, among a thousand other things that I’m forgetting right now.

I remember when I was in the process of getting a proposal from a caterer, when I told them my budget was $10k for the entire wedding – they laughed. The woman literally laughed in my face and thought I was confused. “You mean $10k for the catering, right?” No ma’am – the entire shebang.

Did you know the average wedding costs $27,000 (not even including a honeymoon)? That’s nuts!

Don’t let people like that tell you that you can’t have a wedding on a small budget – because you can. I know people who have had weddings that cost only a grand! (Which I find incredibly impressive… but I like cocktails and good food way too much to settle.)

In fact planning a wedding on a small budget makes you find ways to be more creative and resourceful and makes your wedding that much more personalized from the cookie cutter packages so many places are offering these days.

Anyways – back to the point. My Save the Dates were originally inspired by a design I found on a wedding stationary website that specializes in invites and announcements. If I had ordered 50 of them from the website it would have cost me at least $110 – not even including postage yet.

So I asked Mike if he could use his photoshop skills to play around and recreate the design to our liking. Here’s the finished product:

I love them. Mike loves them. My mom loves them and so does my Maid of Honor (in fact her exact words were:

Want to know why I REALLY loved them? The pricetag. If we had done this the traditional way they would have cost us nearly $150 by the time postage was included. But instead we were able to order 50 of these for $3.60 – the price of shipping. That’s right – these were practically free. Snapfish offers first time customers 50 free 4×6 prints – it was perfect. If you’re not a first time customer – you can get 4×6 prints for only 9 cents which is still quite a steal.

Now we just need to worry about envelopes and postage. I found these cute pink envelopes that are $14 for 50. But I’m also playing around with the idea of getting these reprinted on the back to make them look like postcards in order to eliminate the need for envelopes at all. That way I’m saving the earth of its pink trees while also keeping some extra cash in my wallet.

I do love these custom stamps though from Zazzle and I think it might be worth it to pay a few extra bucks for them since I’m saving so much money elsewhere. What do you think?

Also – for any other budget brides out there looking for a few good resources, here are some of my favorite places to visit for ideas to cut back on costs.

The Budget Savvy Bride

The Broke-Ass Bride

2000 Dollar Wedding

Remember – you don’t have to spend the mortgage of a house to have an awesome wedding. You just need a really awesome guy that you’re excited to grow old and play Scrabble with.

adventure is out there!

If your day is looking anything like mine, then your nose has been glued to your computer screen, fingers typing furiously as you push your way through the 3 o’clock mental fog.

Which is why I don’t have the energy or mental brain power to dedicate to dig up some inspiration for a thoughtful post.

Instead – I thought I’d share something cute and fun as a mid-day pick-me-up.

For those who don’t already know, Mike and I are getting married next year on September 20, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. I’m beyond excited to marry my best friend and partner of nearly seven years and can’t wait to share our special day with our closest friends and family members.

Before Mike and I got engaged this past Christmas, we joked around about what our perfect wedding would be. As an untraditional, quirky couple, we knew that a traditional ballroom wedding full of cake cutting and boring readings wasn’t meant for us. So we started thinking about our favorite love stories of all time. After sorting through the typical picks like The Notebook or Casablanca, we came to realize none touched our hearts quite the way that Carl and Ellie’s love story did from Pixar’s movie, UP.

Full of laughs, love and adventure, Mike and I realized it was the perfect fit for our wedding. I’m excited to share our own lighthearted and fun-loving story with everyone, using a little bit of Pixar magic and a few balloons to help us along the way.

In case you haven’t seen the movie UP yet, I’d suggest checking out the below clip. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful and poignant scenes in the history of film animation and is certainly my favorite as far as love stories go.

I hope everyone is having a great Tuesday. And remember, “adventure is out there!”