Our Wedding, Part One

This morning I woke up to Ed Sheeran’s Perfect. Sure, it’s a cheesy love song like any other, but for me it reminds me so much of my wedding day. It filled me with such immense love and emotion today that I decided to sit down and finally write the recap of my wedding! For those who don’t know, John and I got married on September 2nd, 2017, after being together for over 6 years. It was an absolutely amazing day (despite its imperfections) that flew by so quickly. I wish I could go back and live it again, this time with understanding eyes. It was so surreal at the time that I felt like I couldn’t process what was happening. After nearly two years of being engaged, and all the wedding-related struggles I could hardly believe the magical day had finally come. 


Our wedding was held at the beautiful Woodloch Resort in Hawley, PA. It was about 2-3 hours away from most of our family, so it ended up being a nice weekend away for most people. Those of us involved in the wedding drove up the night before to drop off all the supplies, us curly haired girls had our hair pre-straightened to save time the next day, and we had the rehearsal dinner. Once we arrived at the resort, it was a whirlwind. We rushed over to the salon, then got dressed, went to the venue, and started assembling our lantern favors with a team of about 8 friends, family members and 2 wedding planners from the venue. Our rental car (a huge SUV) was stuffed to the max. We even had to get a cargo box for the roof rack! The lantern favors were packed nice and compactly in their boxes, so we decided to make an assembly line the day before to quickly assemble them in the place where they would be handed out. Then we did the rehearsal (which, for some reason I was SO stressed about) and went over last minute details. Then we rushed back to change for the rehearsal dinner. There was barely enough time for a shower so I didn’t even get to wear makeup. Then, we got there and no one was ready yet! So, I was probably the most casual one at my own rehearsal dinner haha. I was originally supposed to stay at the rental house with my sister, but my stuff was all at the house with John (we rented our own small house) and I decided to stay there. It was probably better, because I know my mom was stressed out so I probably wouldn’t have been able to sleep! 


The day started like any other. I woke up next to John, and we excitedly realized that this was our wedding day. We got dressed and got ready to part ways when we realized it was FREEZING outside. Early September is usually warm on the East Coast, especially since it’s right at the end of the summer. 80’s are a norm. The whole month was filled with 90-degree days. We woke up to like, 40 degree weather! It was also unbelievably foggy and misty. Although the weather called for possible rain later that day, I remained hopeful that we’d be able to have our outdoor wedding ceremony. 


The rest of the morning was a whirlwind. We all gathered at my parents’ rented house and the stylists came to do everyone’s hair and makeup. I didn’t have bridesmaids (only my sister as maid of honor) but I wanted to take photos with some of my closest friends, so I offered them the option to get their makeup done. About 3/4 of the way through my hair & makeup, my photographer Lora Reehling came and started taking photos. It still felt 100% surreal. For starters, I didn’t think to request the nicest home available, so my parents ended up in a basic house filled with plaid wallpaper, red floral curtains, and wood everywhere. I can’t do anything but laugh about it now, but it made for some interesting photos.


I want to take a minute to talk about what I wore, especially that dress! As you may remember, I tried on about 80+ dresses before I was just about ready to give up. I tried on nearly every ball gown-style dress in my price range, and nothing felt right. I kept thinking that maybe a ballgown wasn’t the way to go, but I kept being drawn to them, so the attendants would keep bringing them to me. I know a lot of brides don’t want a ball gown, but try one on and fall in love. I figure this is probably why they kept bringing them to me. I was the opposite. I wanted to wear a ball gown… it made SENSE for me to wear a ball gown. But I would always start by telling them, I tried on a lot and I want to try other things. As soon as I tried this Maggie Sottero dress on (with the intention of wearing a poofy ball gown skirt over it, by the way) I immediately knew it was exactly what I wanted. It had the sweetheart top, the fitted bodice so you could actually see my body, and a poofy skirt at the bottom so that you could get that princess vibe that we all knew I needed. Every other dress I tried on, I kept wondering if John would like the way it looked. When I tried this one on, I didn’t even question it. I knew he would love it, and more importantly I loved it! Since I had originally planned to wear a blush pink dress and instead wore ivory, I went with blush pink accessories. My shoes were by Badgley Mischka and they were pefect! I knew I needed a wedge for an outdoor wedding, and I loved seeing all the shoes with amazing rhinestones online, so I needed a pair for myself. I loved the scalloped design on the wedge. It was very Little Mermaid, which fit in perfectly with my wedding decor! Then, my veil which was custom made in PINK TULLE! I knew I wanted a pink veil when I saw one on Facebook a while back, and I kinda wish I had been braver and gone with a slightly bolder pink. Most people didn’t notice that it was pink because it was so subtle, but it really matched the whole ensemble well! 


Ok, back to the wedding day! We took some group photos with my girls before I started to get dressed. That’s when I started getting the calls, since rain was on the horizon. They asked if I wanted to move the wedding indoors, and I refused. I said that unless it was actually raining, I would get married outside no matter what. The outdoor ceremony is what we loved the most about Woodloch, so I wasn’t about to give up that easily! As I was getting dressed, John and his family were outside taking photos.


Once they were done, it was my turn to go outside. And almost like twisted fate, JUST AT THAT MOMENT, it started to pour. I was ready to curse the skies, but my photographer leaped into action and found an area under a tree that had natural cover. We stood under there taking photos for at least 30 minutes with barely a mist coming through. Unfortunately though, it was during these important photos that the calls started coming in, asking if I would make the decision to move the wedding indoors. We still had about an hour to the ceremony, so I said that unless it was raining at the time of the ceremony, I did not want to move it indoors. Well, after about 30 calls from the venue (and John) asking if we could please finally move it indoors, the decision was made when the ceremony sound guy said that he would not be putting his equipment outside in the wet grass. Having a silent wedding where the officiant is screaming so everyone could hear her was not my idea of fun, so I finally agreed to have it indoors. (PS- still mad that it rained that day!! It was the only cold and rainy weekend day in all of September).


The next 20 minutes or so was such a blur. I arrived at the venue and was whisked into the bridal suite while John waited near the bar of the main dining room. Everyone lined up to go into the ceremony while I hid in the bridal suite downstairs, waiting for my cue. That’s when they told me that John, who barely shows emotion, was already crying. He had insisted to me, and everyone else, that he definitely would not be crying. He didn’t understand why anyone thought he would cry, yet here he was! Already crying before even seeing me. Once John was safely inside the ceremony room, I was led upstairs. Up until this point, it all seemed surreal. When I came up the stairs, rounded the corner, and saw my sister, I suddenly realized this was really happening. We are very close in age, so we would always talk about our wedding days and I always knew she would be my maid of honor. Seeing her all dressed up- with her hair done and makeup on, holding a bouquet- it slapped me right in the face with emotion. And for a second I really thought I was going to start crying right there. Luckily, it went away as fast as it came, because I didn’t want to mess up my makeup! Haha.


It finally became my turn to enter, and the doors opened. It’s so surreal when this happens. I know I keep saying that word, but it’s the only thing that described it! As I walked towards John, who was full on weeping at this moment, I found it so strange that he was the one crying since I was the one that would cry randomly just thinking about the wedding for the past year.


The ceremony was performed by a longtime friend of mine, Sable, and she did an amazing job. It was personalized, sweet, and funny. We decided we wanted a short ceremony and to write our own vows. Unfortunately, we didn’t set the time aside to actually write our vows, so there we were on the day of our wedding, scribbling away. Surprisingly though, our vows came out really good! I definitely operate better under pressure (as my college career filled with all-nighters had shown me) so waiting until the last minute ended up being just fine, although a little bit stressful. 


Although weddings are generally pretty serious, there will always be those awkward or funny parts that make it human, real and relatable. For instance, my flower girl decided her moment in the spotlight wasn’t over, and refused to walk down the aisle more quickly. She stole the show and everyone loved her, so I’m 1000% ok with that!


Then, when it came time for the vows, I thought that my officiant had been given my vows along with her speech, which the venue had printed for us. She said it was time for my vows, and I looked at her while she looked at me. Then she looks at me semi-sternly and says “yours vows!”, assuming I hadn’t heard her. I look at her, then John who’s waiting patiently, and I say “I don’t have them”. Everyone gets awkward, like uh oh she didn’t write them! But then the wedding planner for the venue came rushing up the side with the printed vows and we all had a laugh as I jokingly pulled an imaginary piece of paper from the only place I could have hid them, my cleavage. 


Then, the most “important” and funniest part of all. In the Greek Orthodox church, after you’ve been married by a priest, the maid of honor comes up and takes these special crowns called stefana, and exchanges them on the bride and grooms heads 3 times. Then, she holds them in place as you take 3 steps around the altar, symbolizing your first steps as man and wife. We did not get married at a church, so I wanted this symbolic walk around the table as man and wife to be included. We practiced it about 10+ times the day before the wedding. I didn’t want it to look awkward. We had the whole thing DOWN and ready to go. Except, we got married inside which was MUCH smaller than outside. And my dress’s train was MUCH longer than any of us (even me!) had anticipated. So there we were, walking single file, with my sister trying to hold her dress, my dress, and the crowns. At one point, John’s brother had to jump in to hold my dress for me as we all circled the table in giggles while everyone laughed along. John had practically left us all behind, and it’s actually one of my favorite memories from the ceremony. It’s a reminder that plan as you will, things can always go wrong!


As luck would have it, the rain stopped just after our ceremony (ironic much?) so we were able to go outside for some photos. We did our family photos at the top of the hill, then ventured down towards the lake for “bridal party” photos and our one-on-one session. Although I am still a little bitter that we got rained out of our outdoor ceremony (cue exaggerated fake cry), I am really grateful that we were able to take some gorgeous photos by the lake. It truly was an amazing location to start our life’s journey together.


Engagement Gifts for The Bride-To-Be

Great news! Your best friend just got engaged to the best guy, and you're SO excited. You've been talking about her wedding day FOR-EVER now, and that day is coming soon! You want to get her something really special as an engagement gift, something that shows how happy you are for her in this new chapter in her life, and something that'll put you in the running for the top spot to be her maid of honor. Kidding! No, but really, you want to get her an engagement gift as special as she is, without it being just another cheesy "bride" gift. I understand! I've created a list of 15 awesome items that will make perfect engagement gift and even bridal shower gifts! They are a mix of your typical bride items (something every newly engaged girl LOVES) and ordinary items with a bridal feel, this way she's not left having a second-hand sale of 3,000 bride items after the wedding. They're all so classy and gorgeous. She's gonna love them!

I've created a list of 15 awesome items that will make perfect engagement gift and even bridal shower gifts! They're all so classy and gorgeous. She's gonna love them! #engagementparty #engagementgifts #weddingplanning

I've created a list of 15 awesome items that will make perfect engagement gift and even bridal shower gifts! They're all so classy and gorgeous. She's gonna love them! #engagementparty #engagementgifts #weddingplanning

1. Wedding Planner 2. Ring Dish 3. Initial Necklace 4. Miss to Mrs. Tumbler 5. Hand Lettering 101 Book 6. Vacation Duffel Bag 7. The Getaway Luggage Tag 8. Flower Earrings 9. Bride Mug 10. Adventure Makeup Bag 11. Geometric Vase 12. Essie Blushing Bride Nail Polish 13. Bling Wipes 14. Bride Lidded Box 15. Floral Luggage Tag and Passport Cover

Engagement Gifts & Bridal Shower Gifts

1. Wedding Planner- This is the PERFECT engagement gift to start with. Since wedding planning is a whirlwind experience, every bride can use a planner! This one features tabbed sections, inspirational quotes, and 3 storage pockets, so that it can hold all her receipts and contracts to keep her organized. Plus it has a really cute cover!

2. Ring Dish- Now that she's got some bling on her ring fing[er,] the bride-to-be will need a place to keep it! This ring dish will keep it safe while she washes the dishes, takes a shower, or just needs to give her hands a rest. 

3. Initial Necklace- Whether you get one with her new last name or her fiance's initial, your future bride will love this necklace! It's simple but stands out, so it can be paired with anything. 

4. Miss to Mrs. Tumbler- This tumbler will be perfect for all that iced coffee she'll be drinking as she rushes around trying to get that wedding planned! Bonus- she can use it after the wedding too, since she'll now be a Mrs!

5. Hand Lettering 101 Book- If your bride is crafty, she'll probably enjoy this hand lettering book! Give it to her along with some pens and she can practice her penmanship to address her own invitations, write cute chalkboard signs, or write it the escort cards. Because doing it yourself = saving money!

6. Vacation Duffel Bag- This duffel is perfect for all those overnight trips to the venue, a bachelorette party weekend, or her honeymoon! It's roomy enough for all her travel stuff, plus a bunch of outfit choices. Girls gotta have options, right? 

7. The Getaway Luggage Tag- this is like an ode to the days when people used to leave their reception early to head off to their honeymoon. Did people really do that, or was it only a thing in movies? Anyway, we all know she's dying to get out of town, and this luggage tag says exactly what's on her mind! 

8. Flower Earrings- These will add a little extra sparkle for her engagement party, bridal shower, or rehearsal dinner. Plus, they're simple enough to wear on an ordinary day to dress up your outfit! I wore them at my engagement party and they really complimented my dress.

9. Bride Mug- It's so exciting to be the bride when you're first engaged, so this mug will capture that feeling and show it off to the world. It'll look SO cute in her ring selfies!

10. Adventure Makeup Bag- This makeup bag will keep her looking pretty while reminding her of the end goal. It's not just about the wedding, but about creating a beautiful life together! 

11. Geometric Vase- Everyone loves fresh flowers! This geometric vase is really unique and will be an interesting addition to her home. It comes in 2 sizes, perfect for a small bouquet for her desk and a larger one for her table. 

12. Essie Blushing Bride Nail Polish- The bride-to-be needs to keep her nails looking good as she shows off that ring. This nail polish is a gorgeous, subtle color that will enhance the beauty of her ring, not compete with it. Bonus: add a manicure kit to get her nails looking perfect!

13. Bling Wipes- She's gotta protect the bling on that ring! These wipes will keep the ring as shiny as can be, and since they're individually wrapped, they'll be sure to stay fresh. She can keep them in her purse and whip them out whenever she needs to shine up that diamond. Everyone wants to see it! 

14. Bride Lidded Box- This little box is perfect for holding her rings and small jewelry. If she's got pets, this is great for keeping her ring safe and secure. Because I know that my 3 cats LOVE to knock things on the ground and play with them! 

15. Floral Luggage Tag and Passport Cover- Help the bride-to-be travel in style with this matching luggage tag and passport cover. The floral design is girly and elegant, plus since it's not super bride-ish, she can use it for years to come!

Tips for Buying Engagement Gifts

  1. Avoid anything too trendy. She may hate the trend, and you also want something that she can use for years to come to remind her of your friendship, and how it felt when she first got engaged!

  2. Don’t tell her she has to wear it or use it at the wedding. This could lead to an uncomfortable conversation. It’s her day, so you can suggest it, but never make her feel obligated to use anything. You never know what her plans are for her wedding day.

  3. This is a good time to get something just for her, something she wouldn't necessarily indulge in herself, but that she can't put on her registry either. If it's too expensive to get alone, you can all pitch in with the bridesmaids or some friends. Nearly all the gifts she receives will be for her home, her wedding, or her life with her husband, so something just for her will be really special!

  4. In general, the idea of straying from the registry is scary. If you do, make sure it's something you know the bride will love, and that it's something that will match the rest of the items she's registered for. No one likes having to store that ugly serving platter that they use once a year when the person who gave it to them comes over!

What engagement gifts do you like to purchase for the bride-to-be, or what did you get when you got engaged that you loved? Are you a stick-to-the-registry type of person, or do you like to get a surprise gift the couple will love? Let me know in the comments below!