Wednesday, November 21, 2018

my thanksgiving wish for you.

I'm four weeks into working in the public schools, and while the system is a can of worms in itself, I will say that one thing I am so thankful for in this setting: THANKSGIVING BREAK.

An entire week without a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call, a 40 minute commute, and approximately 32498295 therapy plans and meetings to schedule makes me one happy little sugar plum speech princess.

Granted, I'm recently out of school, where I also had "Thanksgiving/fall break," but there were always serving shifts to be worked, reading to be completed, final exams to prepare for, etc. Now, it looks a little different. I'm getting in a couple of "work" hours today, just so I don't drown next week when I get back, but I'm making it a point to unplug when I can, spend time with family, catch up on some novels, and simply reeeeeelax. Like many, I really love this time of year, but it's easy to get caught up and forget to really enjoy yourself.

So with that said...

  • I hope Thanksgiving finds you surrounded with family - the kind you were born into, or the kind you chose yourself. 
  • I hope you shut off your mental calorie calculator, and enjoy every last bite of your dinner, whether that's a traditional turkey feast or a third helping of pecan pie. 
  • I hope that if you're a turkey trotter like myself, you hit a new PR, or at the very least, simply cross the finish line (and throwback a well earned mimosa or holiday-themed latte afterward). 
  • I hope you get to snuggle on the couch with your favorite person or your favorite pooch to watch the Macy's Day parade or your favorite football team. 
  • I hope you get a chance to help out in the kitchen, to learn the "tricks of the trade" for your favorite recipe, to look around and soak it all in. 
  • I hope you're thankful, because if you're reading this, it means you're still alive and kickin', despite the country/world's seemingly daily tragedies.

Photo by Jessica Castro on Unsplash

Happy Thanksgiving to all my loyal friends out here in the blogosphere! 


Monday, November 5, 2018

what's up with the wedding? vol. 2

Fall is in mid-swing here in Florida...we actually experienced some temperatures below 60 degrees this week, and I am not complaining. It seems October came and went in a flash, and now I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving!

October has always been one of my favorite months. It's the start of the holiday season, home to Halloween, and the month I met Ryan. Coincidentally (or not, considering I had it in my head since we got engaged), we'll even be getting married on the anniversary of our first date next year! We are already just about a year out from the big day, and even though I've had my "what's the big fuss, let's just do this thing" moments, I'm grateful for our longer engagement, because time is flying and it's been so fun to soak in every little moment of being engaged.

Since my last update, we've actually made quite a bit of headway. I'm going to be honest when I say that I've pictured my wedding in a bazillion different ways, but only since we got engaged. Even though we've been together for years, I only ever pictured a marriage with Ryan...not necessarily a wedding. But similarly to trying on wedding dresses, I discovered my own personal taste by figuring out what I didn't like first.


 (Photo credit: Station House Instagram)

We toured several different venues, all different settings: an art museum, a clay center, an old theater, an estate, a dance studio. We found ourselves feeling so "set" with one venue, only to read a few bad reviews or to feel iffy about the surrounding area for photos (seems so silly, but a beautiful venue inside and out felt important to me). Finally, we walked into Station House in downtown St. Pete and we both "knew," and did what we could to make it work.

Despite the higher price tag, we opted for Station House for the convenience factor. We looked at a lot of "DIY" or "bring your own XYZ" type of venues, but it felt like such a hassle to have to price and compare, bring everything in, coordinate setup and breakdown, hire a wedding planner who isn't already familiar with the venue, etc. Plus, service fees for each individual thing can add up pretty quickly. While our venue isn't "all inclusive," our caterer, beverages, tables, and chairs were all included in the price we were given, and we were able to hire the girl who gave us a tour as our month-of coordinator for a great rate. The venue is beautiful on its own, so we won't need a whole lot of additional decor to spruce it up besides adding our own special touches. Plus, would you look at this room that we get to use for a little photo booth setup?!

(Photo credit: Station House Instagram)


Venue + photography were the two highest "priorities" on my dream wedding list (I say "my" because Ryan just wanted to do whatever made me happiest...ha!). While I initially gave us a large-ish budget for photography, our pricier venue humbled me a bit in other aspects, so I started browsing with caution. I totally respect and understand why wedding photographers charge what they do (sooo much time + effort goes into it!), but I still had to be mindful of my budget. My biggest thing was making sure an engagement shoot was included within the cost. I actually found our photographer Emily Mathewson (Instagram & website) by searching the Instagram hashtag #tampaweddingphotographer. I'm so excited for us to have our engagement photo shoot this weekend!


Like I mentioned here, I said "yes" to the dress in September! My sister was visiting from Europe, which doesn't happen often, so I went dress shopping with my mom, future mother-in-law, sister, and grandma. I made appointments at two places, starting with The Dressing Room, which is where I ultimately ended up getting my dress. I went there and to a larger "chain" bridal shop, and the difference in customer service was astronomical. 

We were the only ones in the store at TDR, and my consultant really honed in on the style I liked from just one picture (and hand-picked my wedding dress based off that picture!), allowed me to browse on my own, and stuck to my budget without complaint. In comparison, I felt borderline "man-handled" at the chain boutique, getting thrown in and out of dresses that were way out of my price range (and on top of that, didn't feel well made), and weren't my taste at all. It didn't feel like a special experience, and I was at the point where, even if I'd found the dress of my dreams, I had no desire to buy anything from my consultant. I went back to TDR a week later and said yes to my dress!

Advice, if you're interested:

Don't be afraid to haggle (within reason!). For our venue specifically, we were quoted a rate that was probably pretty good in the grand scheme of things, especially for our location, but was still over our budget. While we desperately wanted our venue, we didn't want to spend beaucoup dollars on one night, no matter how special. Ryan emailed, and asked what exactly we could do to get closer to our budget, and our [now] wedding planner helped us out. In a nutshell - don't be afraid to ask. As long as you're respectful and not asking for an outlandish handout, most people want to help out and work with you. Worst thing that can happen is someone tells you "no"! 

Our caterer is right downstairs from our venue, and we're setting up a tasting soon, so I'm pumped for that (give me alllll the food). I have just a couple more bridesmaids to formally "ask," and then I've gotta nail down our colors, figure out dessert, look for additional decor, etc. In other words, we have a lot down, but quite a ways to go.

341 days left until the big day!

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