2018- The Year In Review

Happy 2019! Every year, I like to recap what happened the year before and outline the posts I did. This year, I’d like to do something a little different and more meaningful. (You can see the 2017 recap here and 2016 here)

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2018 was an amazing whirlwind of a year. I transitioned to working part time at my job since everything seemed to be going well at the end of 2017. I had some sponsored posts, an e-course client, and a brand partnership. By January of 2018, I had none of that stuff (of course! It’s how life works!) and I basically had to start from scratch. But before I could even start a plan on how to make that happen, life said “Nope! Not this year.”

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It all started on Jan 31 when I found out I was pregnant. The blog post has the whole story but let’s just say I was shocked and thrilled when I found out and literally everything changed after that. For starters, I was exhausted the first trimester and some days I could barely get myself to do anything besides watch tv on my days off. I also felt nauseous, so it was pretty hard to do anything... let alone blog work. I think I did the fewest blog posts EVER this year and in the end it was ok. I had a lot of time to think and made some amazing mindset changes. More on that later. 

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By the end of spring, I was starting to feel better (and, getting bigger!). I found out baby was a girl and I created the best blog post about it, in my humble opinion.

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Despite feeling better, the attic was such a mess and I was out of the posting loop for so long that I kinda gave up blogging. I was seriously going through a funk and going on social media and seeing everyone else’s posts really bummed me out. I wanted to create blog posts more than anything, but I’d sort of lost the spark. 

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Most of the summer was spent with me getting bigger and bigger by the day. I spent most of my time working on my photography e-courses and getting them ready to launch. When they did, they totally flopped but I learned SO much from the process. Including the fact that all this time, I wasn’t really honing in on what I was doing in the first place. I was doing EVERYTHING under the sun to see what stuck and -shocker- nothing did. But, I really enjoyed creating the e-course and being able to teach the skills I’ve learned. I’m revamping the free course now so that it’s even more helpful for everyone! 

One of the things I started (and never completed) in 2018 was cleaning up my house. I started doing it around March but then kinda got sidetracked doing “all the things”. And yet, nothing at all. Everything felt like a race against time before Hailey came, and I was trying to do so much that, in the end, absolutely nothing got done. 

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Fast-forward to September 28, 2018 and sweet Hailey Irini made her debut. It was one of the hardest and easiest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. The best and worst moments. The post-partum blues are no joke and they knocked me out for a few weeks. But I suddenly started to get immense clarity after Hailey was born. It was like the fog had lifted and I could finally see everything in a new way. I saw my faults, my strengths, my purpose, and where I wanted my life to go. It was absolutely astounding and of course, it didn’t come all at once. But I guess spending a lot of time reflecting will do that to ya. It almost felt like an entire year of reflection. 

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The word of 2018 probably would have been growth.

There was plenty of it. Physical growth, as my body stretched and nourished my baby. Spiritual growth, as I began to ponder the meaning of my life, and what I wanted it to look like in the future. And family growth, as we welcomed a new member. And overall, I felt the love grow. Love from our family and friends, from myself to my baby, and a new love for my husband. 

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By the end of 2018, I felt like I knew exactly what was holding me back and what needed to change. 

In the past, I felt like I did everything “just because”. Nothing had a real purpose. I couldn’t tell you why I did things or where exactly I was going. But now, I feel like I really know what I need to do and what’s important to me. I hopped off that work-work-work treadmill that was getting me nowhere. I finally understood that busy does not equal productive. I’m pushing for financial growth this year, because I’d really love this blog to be my primary source of income. I also want passive income, because I don’t want to live project to project, paycheck to paycheck. It’s not a sustainable method for my life. 

In 2019, the word I’d like to guide me is intention.

My goal is to know exactly why I’m doing the things I am, not just doing them because some guru told me to. Having faith in myself to create my own path, and knowing exactly where it’s taking me. I’m getting off that tradmill- this year, I’m really going places.

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So, what’s in store for 2019? Well, I’d love to refresh our home. I want to update our decor and tidy up (FYI- I liked the KonMari method before it was cool). I want to DIY things with a purpose- fun home decor, crafts for the baby and things to wear. I think one of the biggest things that I’m excited about is improving my photography. It’s something I’ve been working on for the past 3+ years now and I’m ready to go from hobbyist to “pro”. I mastered my blog and DIY photography but now I want to get into more lifestyle photography, room setups, self portraits, etc. 

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I think the biggest change I have going into 2019 is an unshakable faith in myself. For so long, I thought I needed someone else to help me succeed. I bought courses, listened to others tell me how to run my business (I mean... what?!), looked for every secret trick and surefire way to success. And I failed miserably. For 3 years!!! Simply because I wasn’t looking at the one and only person that could bring me success- myself. Maybe it was the labor and childbirth, or the fact that I’m raising and (almost solely) responsible for another human... but I finally feel like I can do anything. I don’t need someone else guiding the way- I can figure it out for myself and get help as needed. I’m not a lost cause in need of saving. I won’t let anyone else steer this ship. I have faith in myself to get to where I need to be. 

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There are probably going to be some changes around here, but they may not be that noticeable to other people. I’d like to see it as the blog growing up, sort of like I have. DIYs are here to stay, since they’re my favorite. New, fun topics are coming too. And I’m going to spend time teaching and giving back, as much as I can. Another big change is coming that I can’t talk about quite yet but I’ll share more about it next week. Overall, life is good and I’m ready to take on 2019!

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

This just in: we are having a GIRL!!!! Holy poop you guys, I am seriously shocked. I was CONVINCED we were having a boy, but I also knew I was going to be wrong. I told John many times "I think it's a boy, but I also think they're gonna tell me it's a girl and I'm gonna be wrong." But I was so sure baby was a boy I made them double check. Hah! Nope... she's a girl! Hilarious, because I’ve had two dreams about the baby’s gender and both times it was a girl. And both times I asked the person who told me in the dream “are you sure?!” I really thought the baby was a boy! 

Now, let's talk about this quirky gender reveal! My friend at work was on vacation and wanted a fun "gender reveal" after my appointment so I searched for "girl" on my memes keyboard (my favorite add-on, by the way!) and Ryan Gosling came up. So, I thought that was pretty funny and I sent it to her. She loved it, so when it came to telling everyone at work, I made these delicious cookies (in pink, of course!), and added a picture of Ryan Gosling next to them. And that my friends is where I got this genius idea for a party!

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

This theme is absolutely perfect for a gender reveal where at least one person knows what the gender is (especially the mom) but I also think it would make a FANTASTIC baby shower theme!! At that point everyone knows the gender anyway, so it wouldn't ruin the element of surprise. It's definitely never been done before, so your friends won't be bored of the same old, same old!

*Note: This post contains affiliate links

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

Free Printables!

I created some unique printables for this party (inspired by these awesome invites!) that you can easily download and print to decorate, invite people, etc. The best part is that they're totally FREE! Not many things you can say are free these days, but this would actually be a super affordable baby shower. To get the free printables, just fill out the form below!

The Party Setup

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

Let's talk about this super easy setup! I gathered up alllll the pink items I had around my house to make this an affordable party. I used some leftover plates from New Year's Eve, as well as some super cheap frames I had on hand. These were from Walmart but you could honestly use any frames from around your house to save money, or buy super cheap ones and give them out as favors. I know I have Ryan Gosling's photo up in my office now! I mean, he's wearing a suit so it's super inspirational for success, right?

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

I bought a pack of white card stock and used it for all the printables. I made the small circles 1" and the large ones 2" so you can use paper punches to quickly and easily cut these out! I have this and this paper punch and they worked perfectly. Then, I used a paper cutter to cut out the invites and other straight-edge things so they were nice and neat. Although it may seem like a silly expense, I've used this paper cutter countless times. I guarantee that if you own it, you'll find tons of uses for it! 

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

For the place settings, I kept it super duper simple with black and white striped napkins and a printed postcard on top. People can tape this postcard up in their house, take pics with it at the party, or just recycle it afterwards. Easy peasy! To create the cupcake picks, all you need are those paper punches I mentioned above and a toothpick. You can either tape it on, or glue it. You can make it single-sided or double-sided. You can also arrange them in a line with skewer sticks for a cake topper, or add them to drink stirrers or straws like I did. They'd also make great embellishments for a favor box or with a tiny hole punched into them as a gift tag for favor bags!

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

Part of the fun of the "hey girl" quote is what comes after it. I had a little fun and created a letter board message about my sweet little daughter. Honestly can't even believe I can say that! I'm going to have a daughter. Pardon me while I go wipe away these tears... 

Affordable cupcake stands are super easy too! I had these plastic cupcake stands left over from my ornament making party and I turned them upside down to hold these tiny cupcakes. Btw- these are store-bought cupcakes. I scraped off the frosting and piped on my own tinted store-bought frosting! It took a couple of tries and they clearly aren't perfect, but honestly they did the trick. I just recommend getting some new cupcake liners to go over the old ones, because they do kinda separate off the cupcake for some reason. These mini pink "stands" are actually just paper baking cups that I've had forever and never used. They were too big for these teeny little cupcakes, but they were great as stands!

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

Now, let's talk about those cookies! The recipe uses cake mix, so they're super soft and fluffy. I made them for work and everyone was raving about how good and different they were. Best of all, they're super cheap and easy to make! I just used store-bought white cake mix and pink food coloring. I piled them up on top of a cake stand that, again, was left over from a blog post!

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

For another easy decor piece, I used my lightbox sign and added a sonogram of my tiny girl. I know some people find sonograms weird and creepy (um, ok...) but I think that when it's your child it's the most amazing thing. Like... she has the cutest up-turned nose and you can even see her teeny little heart! Pure magic.

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

To decorate the area above the table, I placed a bunch of paper fans I had laying around. I really thought I had more pink ones than I did, but most of them were a dark hot pink since they were for Halloween and Christmas posts. Had I realized, I probably would have ordered a set of pastel fans to have a nicely mis-matched set!

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

Either way, I’m so excited to finally know more about this little baby and to buy some baby clothes. Now that I know, I can’t wait to get started on the nursery and some fun DIY projects for baby! Plus endless matching “mommy and me” outfits.

Hey Girl: Ryan Gosling Gender Reveal

Don't forget to download your printables and create your own Ryan Gosling themed gender reveal or baby shower! It felt very "teenage stalker obsessed with a celebrity" as I was creating the party setup, but it's so much fun. 

So, what do you think about this idea for a gender reveal or baby shower? Now I want to do a whole bunch of amazing, uniquely-themed baby showers. What weird theme would you do? Or is this JUST what you were looking for? Let me know in the comments below!

Pssst. Looking for some assistance planning your next big event? I can help! Visit my virtual party planning services page for more info and pricing.

Introducing Gret-Chin: My Double Chin

Ok guys, things are about to get very silly, and very real over here. Despite the fact that I’m fairly thin, I have some things about my body I’m insecure about: my belly, my underboob, and my double chin. I generally have a very round face, a baby face if you will. But it’s the double chin that makes its debut when I least desire it that kinda drives me crazy. It’s the one thing I can’t really hide, because it’s literally my face (or, well... right under it). 

Introducing Gret-Chin: My Double Chin

After my sister lovingly teased me about it several times, I decided if this double chin really wanted to come around, I’d better name her. She’s like a stray cat you can’t help but love, or at the very least accept. So, I decided to name her Gretchen. Or as I like to call her, Gret-Chin. Aside from being an amazingly hilarious play on words (if I do say so myself), it’s also a Mean Girls reference. And we all know I love those. 

Introducing Gret-Chin: My Double Chin

Related: Polly Pocket Iron-On DIY

This means that if there’s a pic of me with a double chin, she gets a shout out. If anyone teases me about it (lovingly or otherwise) I won’t care, because I’ll simply tell them “that’s Gretchen”. And seeing my double chin in pics doesn’t make me feel bleh anymore, because it makes me laugh. Oh, that Gretchen... 

She’s like that one friend that always makes a silly face and ruins an otherwise nice photo. She’s also like that friend that occasionally shows up even though she wasn’t really invited, but you accept her anyway. She’s the Pillsbury Doughboy, Phoebe’s Smelly Cat and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man all in one. 

Introducing Gret-Chin: My Double Chin

If you’re looking to name your double chin, I have some suggestions. 

-Felicia (as in, Bye Felicia) 

-Vin-Chin-Zo (like Vincenzo)

-Neck-ole (like Nicole)

-Flab-ulous (because it’s fat and fabulous)

-Cather-Chin (like the amazing name Catherine- I’m not biased at all) 

Introducing Gret-Chin: My Double Chin

When it comes to the things that bother us, we can either dwell on them or we can accept them. I’ve chosen to accept my flaws, and to also work to improve them. Hatred never really helped anyone, and I think that by acknowledging my flaws, I’m able to move on from them. Because at the end of the day, I have much more important things to worry about than the occasional double chin. And you do too!

So, what do you think about this idea? Am I straight up crazy, or will you be giving your flaws funny names to accept them? Let me know in the comments below!

We're Having a Baby!

Omg you guys, we are having a baby!! 

John and I have been talking about having a kid forever, but we wanted to wait until after the wedding. We had only been trying since about November but for some reason, ever since I was in high school, I thought I would have trouble conceiving. I have a few minor medical issues, but for some reason I had convinced myself that getting pregnant would be really hard, if not impossible. I’ve literally cried at the thought of not being able to get pregnant. I don’t know why I felt this so strongly, but I did. So imagine my surprise that after only a few months of trying, we got pregnant! It’s truly a blessing and something that I know I am so lucky to experience. Although I may have complained about being tired or nauseated, I know this is truly the most amazing gift anyone could ever give me and I am so happy to experience it. 

*This post contains affiliate links

We're having a baby! And we are so stinking excited about it. Read more about our pregnancy announcement and photoshoot by clicking the photo!

Sources: baby onesie from Colorado souvenir shop (baby's first trip!), similar train, pink board, blocks, honeycombs

Finding out:

I was at work and wasn’t feeling 100%. Two of my coworkers that I’m friends with started looking at me funny. “I don’t knoooooow, maybe you’re pregnant!” Well, I knew I wasn’t. After all, I had bought ovulation strips and they told me I was not ovulating. So although we tried, I knew I hadn’t been ovulating when we did. They teased me about it so much that week that I figured I may as well take the test the next day. 

We're having a baby! And we are so stinking excited about it. Read more about our pregnancy announcement and photoshoot by clicking the photo!

All night I had dreams about taking the pregnancy test.  I was so nervous that I would forget to take it that it seeped into my subconscious and my dreams. There was never a result- just me in about 5 different dream scenarios with a pregnancy test. I woke up at my usual 5am that day, right after John had left for work. I went to the bathroom, plonked down on the toilet, and peed on the stick. I put it on the counter and watched it flow through to do its magic. One pink line. Yep, as I suspected. Then I look over again and a SECOND PINK LINE APPEARED. I was in disbelief and kept saying, out loud, “is that a second line?” I was tired (it was 5am after all!) and kept blinking and making sure I was really awake. I was. And I started to cry SO HARD. I recorded a video for John so he could see my reaction, since he wouldn’t be home for hours and I didn’t know how I’d be when I told him. The video wasn’t pretty, but it really captured my emotions. Snotty tears, shaking hand and all. 

I literally spent the rest of the day crying tears of joy while waiting for John to come home. 

We're having a baby! And we are so stinking excited about it. Read more about our pregnancy announcement and photoshoot by clicking the photo!

Telling John:

I already knew how I wanted to tell John, so I did a second pregnancy test juuuust to make sure before telling him. I went to CVS and got a digital test this time, peed on the stick, and waited for 3 of the longest minutes of my life. I was so nervous that it was a false positive or something! When I finally saw the “YES+” indicating that I was pregnant, I started crying all over again. And recorded a second video for John. 

John came home hours later, since he had to work overtime. I tried to get him home earlier, but I didn’t want to tip him off. He didn’t even know I was taking the test! I brought him up to our room, and sat on the bed. I pulled a small Mets onesie out of my drawer and showed it to him. He looked at me confused, like “ok...?” I realized at this moment that I’m so crazy that my husband thinks I would buy a onesie without actually having a baby to wear it. Anyway, I pulled out the pregnancy test and he’s still confused so I told him I’m pregnant. Then I start crying (again) and say “we’re having a baby!!” He’s literally in shock and just home from work, not expecting this at all. So he says something like “are you pranking me?” And I’m still crying and saying no. It was like our engagement all over again! Obviously he was so happy, although cautiously so- he wanted to make sure it wasn’t a false positive. He soon realized my symptoms definitely confirmed it- I was pregnant! 

We're having a baby! And we are so stinking excited about it. Read more about our pregnancy announcement and photoshoot by clicking the photo!

The first exam:

We had to wait 2 long weeks before we could go to the doctor to get my first sonogram. I was so nervous the whole time. What if something was wrong, or what if I had an ectopic pregnancy? I knew 3 people that had gone through that, and it was both saddening and risky. I was hoping everything was ok. We went into the sonogram room and the tech inserted the camera and moved it around. Lo and behold, there was our baby! She showed us the heartbeat and I started to cry because everything was ok. It was such an amazing experience to see. 

We're having a baby! And we are so stinking excited about it. Read more about our pregnancy announcement and photoshoot by clicking the photo!

Telling our family:

We decided to wait until after the first doctors visit and sonogram to tell our families. We wanted to make sure everything was ok before we did. We bought everyone a frame and made copies of the sonogram. John’s mom is a huge Mets fan, so she got this Mets frame. My parents are cornballs, and amazing parents, so they got this grandparents frame. And my sister likes to keep it simple, so I gave her this plain frame. We invited them over for lunch and gave it to them as a “Valentine’s gift” so they wouldn’t suspect anything. I wanted to tell my sister separately first, so I brought her up to my bedroom. She opened the gift and got so excited she was jumping up and down! And I’m there shushing her so the parents don’t hear! We go downstairs and give the other gifts to my parents and John’s mom and tell them to open them at the same time. John’s mom suspected, so when she opened it she started to cry. My parents are oblivious so they’re opening the gift, confused, and wondering what John’s mom got that she’s crying so much. They finally figured it out too, and they were so excited! We told John’s siblings as well, and they were both really happy. 

We're having a baby! And we are so stinking excited about it. Read more about our pregnancy announcement and photoshoot by clicking the photo!
We're having a baby! And we are so stinking excited about it. Read more about our pregnancy announcement and photoshoot by clicking the photo!

About the Photoshoot:

I have to give my sister a special shout-out. She did the whole shoot for us! I'm very picky and the poor girl tried to make sure everything was well-framed haha. We started with the baby food shoot, which was so gross. John refused to take another bite of his beef and beef broth. He said it was like eating dog food, and swore our baby won't be eating that. Also, can we talk about how big my belly already is?! I'm wearing maternity jeans, and it was becoming impossible to hide at work. It's not so obvious from the front but as soon as I turn sideways, you can see it! I'm so happy about my growing baby bump.

We're having a baby! And we are so stinking excited about it. Read more about our pregnancy announcement and baby food photoshoot by clicking the photo!

Ahhh! We are beyond excited about our little bundle of joy coming in September. I'll be doing some fun baby-related blog posts in the next few months, including maternity clothes, nursery, and a gender reveal! We won't know until Mid-May, so we are anxiously awaiting that appointment. If you have any maternity advice, I want to know! It's been hard not being able to share the news and get advice. I'm so relieved that the cat's out of the bag now!

Our Wedding, Part Two

Welcome back! Last week I posted the first half of my wedding update and it felt really good to get the pictures out of the vault and onto the world wide web! Now let's get to the second half of the wedding- the reception! It was super fun and definitely the most fun wedding I've never been to! And I'm not biased or anything, haha.

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We did the typical bridal party entry, and I decided I wanted to do that things they used to do in the old days when the bridal party would stick their arms and bouquets up and the bride and groom would walk through it. We didn’t have a real “bridal party”. We had my parents (short), John’s mom and her escort (short), my sister (short), the officiant friend (short) and John’s sister and her boyfriend. So, they all basically stuck their arms up in the air sort of like a bridge and we walked under. Honestly, I was so happy that we got to do it (cue the fist pump of joy) that I didn’t even notice that they weren’t actually touching.

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We moved into the dances afterward, and John and I swayed to Say You Won't Let Go. We don’t slow dance (ever) and I found it to be sweet but repetitive, so I asked him to twirl me. He asked if I was sure, then gave me a whirl, which was really fun!

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I danced with my dad to Butterfly, Fly Away by Miley Cyrus and John danced with his mom to All To You by Scott Keo.

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Then, we moved on to speeches from John’s brother, my sister, and my dad. I was always curious what my dad would say at my wedding, since he’s a funny and cheesy and crazy guy (see where I get it from?) and he didn’t disappoint. Then, once he finished his speech, my sister came back up and looked nervous. AND THAT’S WHEN I KNEW IT WAS HAPPENING.

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You see, months and months before, I had stumbled upon this video and had half-jokingly sent it to my dad and sister on Facebook, saying that if they didn’t do a Disney parody at my wedding, I would never forgive them. Then I completely forgot about it because you know… wedding planning. So when they came up I knew what was happening. They sang several Disney parodies, including “I Owe” sung to Heigh-Ho from Snow White, all about how John needed to work overtime to pay for the wedding. They pulled out these construction hats and marched in place while they did it, which was hilarious. I hope my videographer captured the whole thing. I’ll post it on YouTube!

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After that, everything was pretty typical. We ate, danced a bit, and cut the cake, then went outside to take some nighttime photos.

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It was raining again at that point, so we got some really cool rainy backlit photos! John wasn’t impressed with the photos at first. I didn’t understand why, because they were GORGEOUS. And he goes, I don’t like that fake starry sky they added. Once I explained to him it was the rain, he loved them as much as I did.

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My sister came out to look for us at that point, and told us that we only had about an hour left to the reception. I had decided early on that I wanted to be 100% present for my wedding, so aside from a couple of glasses of champagne, I didn’t drink until after the cake was cut. I figured at that point, all the “important” stuff would be done, and I could let loose and have fun a bit. We went back to the venue, and I gathered a few of my friends to help me get ready to party. One friend went to the bar to get me 2 of my favorite drinks. My sister and a coworker helped me use the bathroom in privacy, then we all dressed me up from head to toe in my party gear. I met John in the bridal suite, he got dressed, and we emerged.

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Ok, no surprise that I like parties. But, one of my favorite things is light-up stuff at parties. I’m like a kid at heart. On one of our first dates, John took me to a bar with his friends, and a guy was selling some light up necklaces and he bought me one. I wore it until it broke. So, we decided that we wanted the last hour of our wedding to be 90’s music, full of fun dancing, light up party supplies, and laughter! John and I added some special gear to our outfits- a light-up bow tie and suspenders for him, a light-up flower crown and sneakers for me!  No one knew about our plans for the glow-light “after party” so they were all really excited and got dressed up. It made for some really funny and psychedelic photos. Plus have you ever seen a bride wearing glow sneakers under her dress?! Probably not! 

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Everyone loooooved the light up stuff! They all got decked out in necklaces, rings, sunglasses and bracelets. The DJ took requests, so everyone was loving the music! Seriously, the dance floor was so full and it seemed like everyone got up at some point to dance! It made for some amazing and pretty trippy photos.

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We added in some Greek line dancing (of course) and watched as some of my parents’ closest friends knew all the moves despite not being Greek, and watched our friends struggle to keep up. Overall Greek dancing is fun either way, since you’re basically in a long, winding line and moving along while kicking.

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The last hour lasted a little longer, since we had an extra hour with Our DJ contracted and the venue was able to clean up the tables while we played and danced. Another reason why the Woodloch was amazing! So we ended up with probably an extra 30 minutes of fun. The day flew by, so I was happy to get any extra one to relax and enjoy myself.