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Wedding Monthiversary

November 18, 2014
Best Day Ever

Today marks one month of marriage for Adrian and I! We don’t have plans to celebrate or anything, but we’ve been so busy since then and I finally have a minute to reflect upon our wedding day. It really is a blur, but I do remember smiling so much that day that my face hurt. It was just joyfully overwhelming to have everyone that matters most to us together to celebrate our union and for that I am so grateful.

Wedding Fog

Not everything went according to plan and knowing now that it’s sort of unavoidable for it to have been 100% as I imagined,  I wish I stressed a little less in the planning stages, but in all honesty, any stressing I did do ended up to be completely worth it in the end. Adrian and I shared such an intimate event and saw each other in a new light because of it.  I am so proud and lucky to have married such a wonderful man.

Adrian & Jaclyn-39-L

What do you remember most from your wedding day?

Recently, Wedding

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

November 3, 2014
Punta Cana- Showing the Roasted Beans

On our honeymoon, we decided to forgo the water excursion options, and opted for trips that gave us a glimpse into the real life or history of the Dominican Republic. We had plenty of opportunities for beach fun at the resort and always love to learn something new when we can. We booked a tour that allowed us to travel through villages outside the resort, visit a local school the tourism company supported, tour a family’s home, and get a firsthand look at the processes of cigar rolling, coffee, cocoa, and coconut oil production. I was also intrigued to learn about fair trade opportunities some of the locals had, which we got to witness in the home we ventured to.

Rainforest

Grating Coconut

Grated Coconut

Rolling Cigars

The primary school we visited was called B. La Gina del Isleño. The children were on recess when we arrived. They were very sweet, ran up to say hi to us as we got off the bus, and eagerly struck poses for pictures and held our hands.

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

We toured the schoolhouse, where since they do not have enough resources, one teacher works, separating their day with an AM session for grades 1 and 2 and a PM session for grades 3 and 4 each day. Although we weren’t able to give anything directly to the children, we had the opportunity to donate to the school, which serves an even better purpose for their needs. Also, the tourism company we visited with donated any profits from the merchandise we purchased from them to providing school uniforms for the children of this school and more than a dozen others. We had to buy a shirt when we heard that!

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

The house we visited opens up their home for three hours each day, allowing visitors to walk through their entire property and see what typical living quarters are like in the villages. They also give a short presentation on the process of roasting coffee and producing cocoa.  In exchange, the family has a rare opportunity to work entirely from home due to the benefit of toursits buying their cocoa and coffee directly from them as they visit. They create the product anyway and then only have to pay for the packaging to sell it.

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

Here the woman of the household dances in her curlers, while she explains to our group the process of roasting coffee beans. She also sports braces, something I noticed were worn with pride, as not many people in the villages have the opportunity to have them.

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

After sampling the goods they had to offer, we purchased some cinnamon infused coffee and cocoa that we sampled to share with our guests at home over the upcoming holidays. I love that we are able to bring back these products straight from the source. Plus, the way prepared the beverages made them even more rich and delicious!

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

Fair Trade in Punta Cana

Peacock

 

Have you encountered examples of fair trade in your travels?

Organize, Wedding

Packing for Your Trip, Made Easy

October 20, 2014
Honeymoon Bound

We are off to the airport for our honeymoon! At 9:50 this morning our flight will take off with a new Mr. and Mrs. aboard, eager to flee to our private revelry. I have been looking forward to this for almost as long as I dreamed of getting married. I love to travel, but the honeymoon always had this dreamy allure of intimacy and seclusion for me that other vacations can’t quite achieve.

We gave ourselves a day to decompress before leaving. I initially planned to have our bags ready to go, so we could just slow things down the night before and get in vacation mode. That almost happened, but there were a few things I didn’t quite get to like I hoped, which left me with an hour or so of re-checking bags, lists, and throwing last minute items from the laundry into our luggage.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been in that boat before too, so I gathered us all a few quick tips for getting it together for all the voyages yet to come!

 

1. Start your list early- Start the list early to allow time to add to it as you remember things along the way, since that’s the whole purpose of making one to begin with. Leaving the list to the day of packing will allow for things to get left behind. Sunscreen is super expensive at most tourist destinations and resorts!

2. Check you airline’s baggage policy- Avoid unplanned fees and hassles by looking up your airlines baggage policy ahead of time. Also, you should be able to bring a carry-on, along with your purse, so pack all of your absolute-must-haves, including electronics and valuable jewelry, to take on board with you in case of lost or delayed luggage on the way. If an item is irreplaceable or you’re worried about losing it, don’t bring it along.

3. Roll, roll, roll- I’m not the neatest folder to begin with, so folding clothes takes up way too much space in my luggage. Rolling them makes a huge difference when it comes to zipping that suitcase up. It also helps reduce wrinkles!

4. Leave some room- Don’t forget about the trip home! You’ll most likely need some space for souvenirs in your carry on or checked luggage.


Do you have any other time and space saving methods you swear by when packing for your trip?

Date Night, Wedding

Date Night: Wedding Soundtrack

October 13, 2014
First-Dance

When our DJ sent us a form to fill out so he can help make our wedding just right, I dreaded it. His honest interest in getting to know us and give us exactly what we want is why we chose to go with him in the first place, but seeing all those questions and notes to fill in was kind of overwhelming!

I wanted to complain about it to Adrian, when I heard the little voices of advice from everyone I’ve encountered since getting engaged ring in… Your wedding day will fly! I will be spending 13 months planning an event that will feel like 5 seconds!  And although I anticipate a day of smiles, dancing , and lots of lovey-doviness, I also know the seasoned brides are right. Having a collection of hand chosen songs would only make recalling moments of our day that much more special.

So, I discussed with Adrian and we decided to dig. I mean really dig and it was so worth it. We went out for sushi on a Friday night, came home, poured some wine, then sat with our laptops and went to work!

Don’t worry about going overboard. I don’t think it’s necessary to come up with a list of songs that will fill your entire five-hour reception, we didn’t by any means, but having a good mix of songs that mean something to you, your future husband, and/ or each other adds to your signature that day. If you chose a good DJ, they’ll get an idea for the kind of music you want based on the selections you present to him or her.

Not all the songs you both have loved over the years will be wedding appropriate, but finding the ones that are, that set the pace and feel of what you want to achieve at your celebration, turned out to be a pretty exciting challenge.

We didn’t do it all in one night, but taking that one evening motivated us to keep chipping at it over the next two weeks until we were satisfied with our soundtrack as we know it. (Plus our DJ is super nice and said I can email him 100 times a day with songs to add if I really wanted!)

 

So where to start?

 

The Ceremony:

The Wedding March! A tried and true favorite? Or a lazy tradition? If you love it, stick with it! If you don’t, don’t!

We knew we wanted to go a different direction and  I was given the role of finding what would give me that stirring of nerves that as a little girl, I would daydream of having more than once in my young life.

After much consideration, I decided on Reign of Love by Coldplay. This piece has the build and exact feel of what I was looking for, while straying from the norm.

 

 

You can also customize the music for the entire ceremony, from seating to your exit. Here are some different ideas to get you going:

Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros- your guests won’t get to enjoy this music video, but it was always one of my favorites!

 

Bittersweet Symphony (Instrumetal) by The Verve

 

Love You Madly by Cake

 

Wedding Song by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Acoustic)

 

First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes

 

Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Our Ceremony Exit Song:

I’m skipping the cocktail hour here because I’m not quite sure how that will go yet. The guests will all move down to the Hotel’s “Rath Skellar”, while  our DJ, who is doing the ceremony for us in an upstairs room first, will need to clean up, so that room can be flipped for additional seating at the reception. If you have a smoother transition and made arrangements with your DJ, go to town on this hour to get the guests even more excited for the real party to begin!

 

The Reception:

 

The new Mr. and Mrs. Entrance!!

We chose “I believe in a Thing Called Love” by the Darkness. It’s a goofy song he and I both like to sing along to and we’ve seen the band play a couple times, so it’s a great fit for us.

 The parents’ reception entrance:

The bridal party entrance: We toyed around with the bridal party picking their own songs to prance into the reception to, but our pairs for the most part, don’t know each other that well, so we chose to pick one song for all of them to enter with. We decide on “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”- Michael Jackson to get the guest excited.

 

Even if you decide to be a little lazy on the song pickings, make your first dance your priority. I recommend ignoring the most common selections here and instead go for something that shows your true bond.

Our first dance as husband and wife: “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds 

 

Picking the activity songs is another fun way to add your own mark on the evening also!

 

Cake Cutting:

 

Taking the Garter Off the Bride:

Bouquet Toss:

Garter Toss:

 

Putting the garter on the bouquet catcher:

 

Slow Songs

“Blue Eyes”, Cary Brothers

“Who You Love” John Mayer and Katy Perry

 

Other picks:

Once Adrian committed to the task at hand, he really got into it. It became one the few planning steps he seemed to genuinely enjoy.

 

Here are some of his picks for the reception:

 

  • “Dance the Night Away”, Van Halen
  • “Killer Queen”, Queen
  • “Shout”, Isley Brothers
  • “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough”, Michael Jackson
  • “Hey Ya”, Outkast
  • “Oh Sherrie”, Steve Perry
  • “Dancing Queen”, ABBA
  • “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, Whitney Houston
  • “Build Me Up Buttercup”, The Foundations
  • “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love”, Barry White
  • “What A Fool Believes”, Doobie Brothers
  • “Long Train Runnin'”, Doobie Brothers
  • “Summer Breeze”, Seals and Crofts
  • “Footloose”, Kenny Loggins
  • “Danger Zone”, Kenny Loggins
  • “Don’t Stop Believin'”, Journey

 

And here are some of mine:

 

  • “Riptide”, Vance Joy
  • Safe and Sound” – Capitol Cities
  • “Closer” Tegan and Sara
  • “You’ve Got the Love”, Florence and the Machine
  • “Two Step” Dave Matthew Band
  • “Us”, Regina Spektor
  • “Ready to Start”, Arcade Fire
  • “Electric Feel”, MGMT
  • “Every Day/ #36” Dave Matthews Band
  • “Treasure” Bruno Mars
  • “Happy” Pharrel Williams
  • “Mirrors” Justin Timberlake
  • “Dancing with Myself”, Billy Idol
  • “Marry You”, Bruno Mars
  • “Fat Bottomed Girls”, Queen
  • “Benny and the Jets”, Elton John
  • “We Go Together”, Grease
  • “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough”, Michael Jackson
  • “Hey Ya”, Outkast
  • “Crazy In Love”, Beyonce
  • “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, Whitney Houston
  • “Build Me Up Buttercup”, The Foundations

 

Last but not least, our final song of the evening!

“I’ve Had the Time of My Life” Dirty Dancing of course!

 

Did you struggle with getting the list together or was is it a planning highlight for you? I’d love to hear the top song picks from your wedding soundtrack too!

Brunch, Wedding

Meet, Greet, and Eat!

October 6, 2014
Bar-Cart--Meet-Greet-and-Ea

This past weekend, we had a lovely brunch to bring our families and bridal party together. Adrian and I have pretty divided families: all of our parents divorced and remarried, and I met my biological father as an adult, so it was very important to us to bring everyone together for a meet, greet, and eat before the wedding to take any pressure off of mingling on the big day.

As the years have gone by, I came to learn how lucky I am to have a large family, with lots of support and love. Now that we have our new home, it’s provided a neutral spot for everyone to gather and allows enough space for everyone to be comfortable. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a worry wart when it comes to potentially-awkward situations, but I was also so excited to have our first major event, plus it’s my favorite meal of the day!

Overall, the afternoon was wonderful, but being new to having more than a handful of guests at a time, I still have some learning to do.

Cups and Napkins Focal

Here are some notes of what worked and what I’ll focus on next time:

1. List it out:

I love making lists, and more importantly checking them off. Shopping wasn’t as daunting when I knew exactly what I was going for instead of guessing along the way. I did get caught up in the juice aisle, estimating how many mimosas would be guzzled, and then again in the bakery because who doesn’t love sweet brunchy goodness?? But, in the end, I ended up with way too much of both!

Don’t forget to include any decorations, table cloths, flowers, paper-ware, cups, and utensils you might need. I took inventory of serving spoons and tongs before I went and found a good deal on them in bundles at the party store to make up for what I lacked.

An extensive list will keep you from having to run out and grab something you forgot the night before or the day of your event, which is totally worth the effort!

Stocked Fridge Combined

2. Plan the Menu:

We had about two dozen guests, so I decided to go with a buffet serving option to make things easier. For this method,  it’s good to use a blend of already-prepared items, items requiring little prep, and then some recipes.

Bulk with no prep:

  • Croissants
  • Bagels
  • French toast sticks
  • Mini cornbread loaves
  • Mini muffins
  • Donuts from the local bakery

It’s good to just note what spreads you will serve with the bulk items you choose and add ’em to your list if you don’t already have them. There are also lots of great recipes for French toast casseroles and oatmeal bakes too, if you’d like to make some of these your recipe items.

Some prep:

  • Lots of bacon
  • Sausage
  • Two-bite quiches
  • Yogurt bar with fixings
  • Lunch meat tray
  • Fruit salad
  • Caesar salad

Full prep:

Plan the dish or dishes you want to create. If some of them can be done ahead of time, go wild! I went with a sun-dried tomato and asparagus casserole-sized frittata that was be prepared that morning, so that I’d be able to spend more time with everyone instead of in the kitchen.  A plus is frittatas are easily gluten-free for the couple of guests that are gluten intolerant!

Drinks:

  • Mimosa bar – I included this awesome Strawberry Grapefruit Mimosa, champagne grapes, and extra fruit for our guests to mix things up with
  • Bloody Mary’s – A pre-mixed carafe with the vodka on the side allows more room on the bar and it’s quicker than preparing each one
  • Coffee – don’t forget the decaf!
  • Assortment of Teas
  • Milk
  • Water pitcher – adding cucumbers, and even mint, always makes for a refreshing hit!

Mimosa-Trio

3. Prep, prep, prep:

Here is where my biggest lesson comes in. I woke up early, showered, and perused social media while drinking my coffee, thinking I had everything under control. Man, was I wrong! I was lucky enough to have one of my bridesmaids come over early to lend a hand and yet in the end, at 11:15,  (brunch was at 11:30) my sister arrived to find me in my sweats, tying ribbons to the back of the chairs! She shrieked and pushed me towards the stairs to get ready while she finished the last-minute decorations I didn’t get to.

If I had decorated and set out all the tableware the night before, I could have shaved off just enough minutes to avoid that hustle and bustle before our guests arrived. Rolling the lunch meats for their tray and cutting all the fruit ahead of time would have given me the actual time to sip my coffee that morning too! Without being too hard on myself, these little tweaks are my biggest takeaway from the event. One positive was everything was prepared in a way that once the guests arrived, I had nothing else to tend to until they were ready for coffee and tea. I’ll take some rushing for that any day.

Another helpful tip I didn’t even think of was to list what would have to be put out for guests in addition to the main menu items. Maybe no one else noticed, but I was kicking myself when I realized while cleaning up,  that the celery didn’t get served with the Bloody Marys! A friend suggested to me recently that even going so far as to label the serving dishes with what goes where makes all the difference too.

 

In the end, we had a full house with chatting, drinking, and eating.  Seeing all of my favorite people together, enjoying themselves in our new home, left us one happy couple.

 

… Now, what to do with all the leftovers??

 

Do you have any tips and tricks for an effortless brunch or gathering with more than a few guests?

 

Wedding, Well-Being

17 Days of Lovin’

October 1, 2014
Lock Bridge Paris

In 17 days, I will be marrying the love of my life! I don’t usually have a countdown going, but with today being the first of the month, there is no avoiding it! I am just so surprised by how this last year has slipped past.

It’s time for a confession: I have been so caught up in the to-do’s and stress of everything that I realized I’ve been slightly under-appreciating our relationship.  I thought this year of planning would only bring us closer together, but I feel guilty about focusing on the details of the wedding day, instead of the details that make us… well, us!

Despite the whole point of the event and why we’re here today, I let the real reason we chose forever get swept under the rug. I had gone through a stage where all I wanted was to elope, to avoid all the fluster of a big wedding. He talked me down, and I thought I was managing it all okay, but here I am swept up by wedding fever anyway!

So, I am now on a mission to shower him with 17 days of lovin’! (And onward) I want him to be reminded every morning through night of how head-over-heels I am for him, because that’s all I want him to think about in the days leading up to me walking down the aisle to his side, instead of what a maniac I can be when I’m stressed!

17 Days of Lovin'

Today, I packed his lunch, and when I see him after work I plan to start up with a daily 15-second long kiss– mandatory. It’s something I wanted to start a couple months ago, but we only made it two days before wedding overload took hold. I got the idea from this cute little story. I plan to make it an all-the-time thing though, not just a few days… gotta keep that spark alive!

I’ll definitely be looking for lots of creative ways to show my hubby-to-be how much I care. It’d be wonderful to hear how you express your lovin’ daily too!

Do you have any other advice for keeping your relationship strong when things are getting hectic?