Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cruising Together

Over the past couple years, cruising has definitely become my absolute favorite way to travel. For one thing, it lets you visit tons of different places without the hassle of unpacking, repacking and hopping a plane each time. Instead, you’re free to simply relax while the ship carries you on to the next port. The all-inclusive food, great options for excursions and fun things to do onboard don’t hurt either!

So far, we’ve cruised to Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and the Hawaiian Islands. Though we’re cutting back on travel somewhat this year, both to save money and because of my hectic year-round class schedule, it hasn’t stopped me from dreaming about the next two regions I want to cruise – Alaska and the Mediterranean.

The Alaskan cruise I've got my eye on is a weeklong trip aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines. It starts and ends in Seattle, stopping at different Alaskan ports and cruising Glacier Bay throughout the week. Excursions include whale watching and other fun nature or wildlife-focused activities.

The Mediterranean cruise is a longer 14-night Royal Caribbean trip, starting in Barcelona and stopping at gorgeous ports in Sicily, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Malta and Spain. This list majorly excites me, especially since I've always wanted to see the pyramids and visit Athens.

Which do you think sounds the most fun? I just may have to choose between these two for my graduation celebration next year, and right now, I’m leaning toward going all out with the Mediterranean trip!

How do you like to travel, and where do you hope to head next?

(Photo Credit: Personal Library)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tossing The Bouquet & Garter

With our first anniversary quickly approaching in June, I’m determined to get through a few more fun wedding recaps before then! While I know some bloggers prefer to post their recaps chronologically, going through them all at once, I’ve really enjoyed jumping around, sharing a piece here and there, remembering and reliving our amazing wedding each time.

Today, I want to share a couple stories and photos from our garter and bouquet tosses, one of which didn’t go exactly as planned, and the other which we almost skipped altogether!

Those of you who have been reading for a while may remember that Stephen and I went back and forth about whether or not to do a garter toss, especially since neither of us was comfortable with the whole over-the-top groom-removes-garter-with-his-teeth idea.

In the end, rather than skip it altogether, we toned things down and did it in a way that worked for us. While our DJ played the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love,” which is one of our favorites, Stephen kneeled down, kissed my hand, and removed my garter by hand. After that, he tossed it to all the eligible guys at the party, who got so into it that one of them even tripped and went tumbling to the ground!

The bouquet toss was just as fun, although my original plan of doing it as a “good luck” toss for all the ladies at the party went awry when the DJ announced that only the single ladies should head to the floor. I was having too much fun to care, though, and it actually worked out great, since one of my bridesmaids was incredibly excited to snag the bouquet, allowing for lots of fun pictures, hugs and laughter!

Are you doing a bouquet or garter toss? How will you make them unique?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography & Personal Library)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Celebrity Bride DeAnna Pappas Obsessed With Weddzilla’s Weddmark App!

As editor of the Weddzilla Blog, I love getting great feedback from brides and readers about both the blog and the wedding planning tools Weddzilla offers.

This week, I especially loved reading our celebrity bride DeAnna Pappas’ fabulous post about all the ways Weddzilla's Weddmark app is simplifying her wedding planning, allowing her to easily share ideas and inspiration with family members and friends, even though she’s constantly busy and on-the-go!

Check out what DeAnna has to say by reading her blog post, where she shares exactly why she's obsessed with the Weddmark and why she thinks other brides-to-be will love it, too. You can also visit our Weddmark site to learn more about the app and web browser tools.

Have you tried the Weddmark? Are there other apps or planning tools you love? Let me know what you think by commenting below!

Carded At 27

People always say that when you stop being carded, you’ll be disappointed. Maybe they’re right, but at 27, almost 28, I find it incredibly hilarious that just about everywhere I go, be it a restaurant, vineyard or anywhere else alcohol is served, I typically still get carded!

I guess being petite and having a high voice doesn’t help any, and while I understand the need for businesses to be careful, it still makes me feel a bit silly. I mean, do I really look like I’m under 21, which is how old my seven-year younger sister will be this year? Do I, someone who has been a working professional for years, is now married, and is working her way through grad school, really look young enough to still be an undergrad?

I guess so, because with every passing year, though I always think people will finally stop asking, it continues to happen. This past weekend, while visiting two wineries with Stephen and my sister-in-law, staffers took one look at me and asked us to all whip out our ID cards.

In this case, I felt even sillier than usual, because not only did Stephen, who’s already 28, have to pull out his ID, but so did my sister-in-law, who is in her 30s! The staffer who looked at Stephen’s ID even made a point in announcing, “He’s been getting carded for a long time!” “We all have,” I answered back, shaking my head and laughing in disbelief.

If you’re over 21, do you find that you still get carded frequently, or find that people take you to be younger than you really are?

(Photo Credit:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Personalized Wedding Memories

Being almost a year out from our wedding, I thought my days of buying wedding-related products had just about come to a close. After all, I’d already completed my photo albums and ordered blowup prints of my favorite images. But when I was asked by the team at Personalized for Weddings to be a part of a focus group for brides and newlyweds, I jumped at the chance.

Why? Because this site is awesome! As a part of the program, I was able to choose two products from the site’s array of personalized stationary, jewelry, photo canvases, laptop skins, albums and more. My two picks, a water bottle featuring three of our wedding photos and a framed canvas of my favorite bridal portrait, were easy to create and of high-quality when they arrived.

Plus, even though I got my items for free as a part of the focus group, the pricing for the products seemed very reasonable. The personalized water bottle would normally cost just under $25, and a 20 x 30 framed canvas would come in at just under $123.

So, if you’re looking to buy products for yourself, family members or your wedding party, I’d definitely recommend checking this site out. If you’re like me, the hardest part will be deciding what to choose!

Did you create any personalized products using your wedding or engagement photos?

(Photo Credits: Personal Library; Water Bottle Images: Alex Neumann Photography; Bridal Portrait: Damien Smith Photography)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Holiday Weekend Weddings: Yay or Nay?

Most people I know fall into one of two camps when it comes to holiday weekend weddings. They either love them or hate them.

As for me, I’m solidly in the “love” category. When we’re invited to a wedding, a holiday weekend typically gives us plenty of time to have fun and then also relax a bit afterward without rushing back to daily life right away. When the wedding is out of town or held on a Sunday, this also gives us a nice time cushion, especially since I don’t typically have class on Mondays that are federal holidays.

One of the weddings I’m coordinating may also be held on a holiday weekend later this year once the date is set. That too sounds great to me, as it will give me extra time to get caught up on classwork and other obligations after what will surely be an exciting and busy week spent helping finalize things for the big day.

On the other hand, I know many others absolutely hate holiday weekend weddings, whether because they feel they interfere with making family vacation plans or because they force them to choose between multiple friends’ wedding taking place the same day.

What do you think? Are you a fan of holiday weekend weddings, or would you rather stick with your average Saturday?

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vintage Headband Inspiration

Last week, I shared a few fun details about the vintage Mardi Gras wedding I’ll be coordinating this fall. I can’t wait, and even though I’ll be working throughout the event, our friends still want Stephen and I to get into the spirit by dressing vintage.

Though I of course will need to choose an outfit I can work easily in, I thought I could perhaps add a touch of vintage flair with a fun headband or clip that will also help vendors and others who need to interact with me know who I am.

I have plenty of time to make up my mind, but just to get a little inspiration going, here are a few favorites I’ve found on Etsy.

What do you think? Is there a certain seller or vendor you recommend I check out? Leave me a comment and let me know! 
(Photo Credits: cheesecakemilkshake, BridalShoppe, OhhSoSweetBowtique, ChicPretties, moxiehairware)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Working From Home vs. At The Office

Since leaving my Capitol Hill job at the end of last year, I’ve become quite familiar with the strange new world of working from home. When it comes to working in this way, I know opinions are generally mixed. Some people hate it, and some people love it. Others simply have a lot of misconceptions about what working from home really entails.

And I can tell you, after a couple months of doing it, I am definitely in the “love” group, though that’s not to say it isn’t without its downsides at times. Here, in my opinion, are the top pros and cons of working from home.


• Space and privacy. Though I had my own private office on Capitol Hill, that didn’t stop people from walking in unannounced, catching me as I was headed out the door, and so on. Working from home allows me the space I need to be as efficient as possible, prioritizing as I see fit, with fewer distractions.

• No commute. When I worked on the Hill, I had to get up a full two hours before my start time to get ready and commute by Metro each day. Working from home, I’m able to easily stay in one place, no suit or perfect hairstyle required.

• More freedom. Working from home allows me to set up my office in any way I choose, and to schedule breaks as I find it necessary and appropriate. If I need to run a quick errand at lunchtime or stop at 4 p.m. to make it to class on time, I can. Working from home allows me to make basic adjustments to my schedule in this way, as long as I am still taking care of everything I need to.


• While working from home allows me to tweak my schedule now and then, it also makes it harder to set limits on hours. It’s very easy to spend all of my time at the computer, literally working around the clock. I regularly have to remind myself that I still need to take breaks and set clear parameters between work time, classwork time, time with my husband, and so on. Working from home can definitely blur some of these boundaries.

• Less interaction and exercise. As much as I love my kitties who keep me company each day, I do at times miss being able to head down the hall to chit chat with coworkers or get their opinions about something. Physical activity is another issue, since I don't move around or walk as much throughout the day anymore.

• The misconception many people have that those of us who work from home somehow aren’t really “working,” like in the picture of Homer up above. This honestly drives me nuts. Trust me, when I say I am working from home, I honestly mean I am working, often including long hours and a hectic schedule, just like anyone else. Working from home definitely does not mean kicking back, watching daytime TV and being lazy! After all, I’ve got a blog to manage, brides to help, classes to pass and volunteer work to be done!

What do you think about working from home vs. working at the office? Which do you think you’d prefer, and why?

(Graphic Credit:

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Vintage Mardi Gras Wedding

When helping a bride to plan her wedding, one of my favorite parts of the process comes at the very beginning, when the possibilities seem endless and the options for theme and style have yet to be nailed down.

For many brides, however, this can also be the most stressful phase, because as we all know, infusing different ideas and interests into one cohesive vision can be tough. But with the right direction and inspiration, I know it’s also totally possible.

That’s why when one of my clients came to me a few weeks ago asking if I thought combining 1920s vintage style with a Mardi Gras atmosphere would be too disjointed, I told her absolutely not! Jumping into my blogger mode, I immediately started hunting for examples of the fabulous vintage New Orleans-style weddings I’ve seen.

Here’s just a sampling of what I found, including images and ideas she’s now using to give family and friends a peek inside her own developing vision.

What do you think of a vintage Mardi Gras wedding theme? What special touches would you throw into the mix? 
(Photo Credits: Postcards & Pretties, Postcards & Pretties, Nicole Nichols,,  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


We all have our vices. Some drink. Some smoke. Me? I’m a perfectionist.

I was first self-diagnosed with perfectionism even as far back as elementary school, and from there, it only got worse as I made my way through high school and college. This is in part because, growing up in a blue collar family, with neither parent having gone to college and one not graduating from high school, I always knew that success – in my eyes, perfection – was my ticket to living the American dream.

And so I’ve always worked hard to excel at everything I put my mind to. Getting a 4.0 so that I could land scholarships to pay for college? Done. Getting a job on Capitol Hill, where some turned up their noses at, gasp, a public university graduate? Done. Getting into grad school and pursuing my dream jobs in the wedding world? Done and done.

But the truth is that although I work hard in everything I do, and for everything I have, no matter what successes I might achieve, I always feel that I should be doing more, accomplishing more. In short, I always feel that my achievements just aren’t “perfect” or good enough. Got a B on a tough exam? I should have worked even harder to get an A. Flaked out on exercise class to relax with a magazine? Not the habit of someone successful.

But in the midst of all the combined elation and stress I’ve been going through lately, I've finally realized that I am so much harder on myself than I would ever be on anyone else. Try as I might, I am simply not superwoman, and it’s time to stop this vicious cycle once and for all. Because perfection is unattainable and ultimately leads to perpetual dissatisfaction. Excellence, on the other hand, is something I can strive for and take pride in every day, allowing myself to fully appreciate what I do well, while forgiving myself and learning from my mistakes when I fail.

Life is short, and it shouldn’t be viewed as a constant struggle toward unattainable standards, especially when it’s yourself you’re struggling with. So, if you’re like me, a perfectionist, or even just too hard on yourself at times, I encourage you to stop what you’re doing every now and then, and as cheesy as it sounds, just take a moment to be proud. Proud of who you are, and proud of what you’ve done, no matter how imperfect or insignificant it may at times seem. Do it today, and do it often.

From now on, I promise that I will, too.

(Photo Credit: Personal Library)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

DeAnna Pappas Reveals Her Wedding Vision!

As promised, celebrity bride DeAnna Pappas of Bachelorette fame is featured on the Weddzilla Blog today, sharing her unique wedding vision, stress-relieving planning secrets and gorgeous inspiration board. Check out the post by visiting the link above, and share your thoughts about her wedding details!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Clean Home Is An Expensive Home…

…but worth every penny, in my opinion.

Last fall, after I started grad school and saw my schedule really start to go from hectic to crazy, Stephen and I decided that we just didn’t want to spend what little time we still have together on things like house cleaning and chores. So, we started to research cleaning services, considering a couple different companies before settling on Green Maid Works, which we got for $69 a month through a deal on Living Social. (If you aren’t signed up for this service or Groupon, you are totally missing out on some great deals!)

Things went well for the first couple months, with Green Maid coming in every fourth Thursday to vacuum, dust, mop, and clean the kitchen and bathrooms. Though we of course had to do some general cleaning and maintenance throughout the month, this service quickly became a real stress reliever, freeing us from having to do the biggest things on a regular basis.

But then, after I left my previous job following the elections last fall, we had a hard time deciding whether or not this was something that was worth the added expense, especially since these are things we of course can and have done for ourselves. Plus, Green Maid started to irritate us in some ways, such as not using the key we’d given them, confusing whether or not we’d be home, and refusing to reschedule when we had a guest staying with us.

In the end, however, we decided that if it saves us time and stress overall, allowing us more time to either spend together or in taking care of our other responsibilities, it’s well worth the extra cost, especially while we’re getting such a good deal. Whether we’ll continue after the deal expires is TBD, but for now, it’s a real load off my mind to have one less thing to worry about.

What about you? Is there anything you splurge on simply because it gives you peace of mind and allows you to stress less? How do you handle chores around the house?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Celebrity Encounters

Five years ago, if someone had told me I’d today be married to the love of my life, working in the wedding industry as a blog editor, and feeling so happy and hopeful about my future, I would have called them crazy. The truth is, though I have a journalism background and have always considered writing and editing my true passions, I came to D.C. to be a congressional aide and policy guru. Why? I guess I got a little sidetracked on the way to finding my niche and ultimate passion.

And I do feel that I have found it within the wedding world, where I’m able to find just the right balance of creativity and organizational logic in all that I do, whether managing a team of bloggers, writing a piece, or helping a bride plan her day. Of course, one of the most fun and exciting parts of all is the chance to interact with celebrities and other big names in the industry!

Since I started blogging, I’ve been able to connect and network with some truly fabulous people, including former Get Married CEO Stacie Francombe, Bridal Guide Editor Diane Forden, and respected wedding author Sharon Naylor. And now, this week, I had the amazing opportunity to interview celebrity bride DeAnna Pappas, of Bachelorette fame, who will be joining our Weddzilla team of bloggers every other Friday!

I’m so excited about welcoming her to Weddzilla, and can’t wait to share her story with our readers as she preps for her wedding this October. Visit the link above to check out the interview, and stay tuned for her first post!

Have you ever met or connected with celebrities or big names in your field?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Eco-Chic or Just Eco-Shabby?

As a newlywed and now blog editor, I’ve been to my fair share of bridal expos throughout the past couple years. Some are more inspiring than others, but in general, they can be crowded, loud and generic. Well, this past Sunday, I attended the Mid-Atlantic Green Wedding Showcase in Maryland, and let me just say, I’ve never before been to a more fun and unique bridal show!

This week, Stephen and I are recapping the show’s eco-friendly wedding highlights on Weddzilla, complete with quick tips for planning a green wedding, eco-friendly fashion inspiration, and my husband’s personal favorite, “the mancave.” Feel free to check out those posts, and in the meantime, let me know what you think about the following topic.

I don’t know about you, but going to eco-friendly events always leaves me feeling in many ways inspired, yet guilty and even overwhelmed at the same time. Though I’d like to believe I do what I can for the environment, including simple things like recycling, turning off the heat or air when I leave the house, and using energy-efficient light bulbs, I also feel there’s so much I don’t do, mostly because I just don’t make the time.

Yes, even though I know it’s important, the selfish and busy part of me feels that my schedule is already packed enough, and I’m embarrassed to admit that most of the time, I just don’t want to put in the energy, or some cases, the money, to go the extra mile to be green in all areas of my life. Composting? Seems like a lot of work for an apartment dweller. Buying local? I can hardly find time to get to the grocery store for five minutes as it is, let alone scrutinizing my every purchase. Looking back on our wedding, I’m sure it was probably not the most eco-friendly of affairs, either. And this makes me feel bad.

What about you? Are you doing all you can to live eco-chic, or do you struggle with being eco-shabby, the way I do? Those of you who are living green, what tips to you have for a busy, time-crunched gal like me?

(Photo Credit: Mid-Atlantic Green Wedding Showcase)