Monday, February 28, 2011

Just Say No

In elementary school, “just say no” was a slogan we learned in case someone tried to offer us drugs. Though I never had a problem “saying no” in that way, in other areas of my life, I’m one of the biggest “yes” women around.

The truth is, when it comes to projects and opportunities I’m passionate about, I have a very hard time stepping back, even when I know I’m biting off way more than I can chew. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only one who has a hard time saying no, but a post last week by one of my favorite bloggers, Teenage Bride, really spoke to me and confirmed that I’m not alone at all.

Saying “no,” whether to requests from others or to pressures we place upon ourselves, can be hard and even gut-wrenching. Making it even harder is the fact that not everyone understands when you do say no. For instance, after taking on my new role with Weddzilla and finding my class load increasing, I realized I had to cut back on contributing to other blogs. Although I let one group know two weeks before my next post was due, they were not fully understanding, wanting me to finish out the month and not responding to wish me well after I apologized and said I unfortunately could not due to my class obligations.

But as hurtful as this can be, it’s these situations that especially make me realize I need to stop feeling bad about saying no to others, because others often do not reciprocate when given the chance. I also need to put less pressure on myself and accept that there are only so many hours in a day, that I am only one person, and that when you try to excel at too many things, you may set yourself up to fail at them all. My health and marriage need attention, and even though I am lucky enough to be living out many of my dreams, balance is still essential, as is just saying no when I absolutely have to.

Do you have a hard time saying no? Have you ever taken on more than you can handle, and how do you find the right balance in your life?

(Graphic Credit: Babble)

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Husband, The Rocket Scientist Groom

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been another busy week around here, but definitely a good one. The radio show on Wednesday night went really well, and our wedding coordination project is moving right along. This weekend, I’ll be covering the Mid-Atlantic Green Wedding Showcase for Weddzilla, while also gearing up for my next round of class presentations and papers that kicks in next week.

Of course, there's no way I could be doing all that I am without Stephen's support, and that's why I'm especially excited that my aerospace engineer husband, aka The Rocket Scientist Groom, is now writing for Weddzilla each Monday. There, he's sharing his perspective as a newlywed groom. This past Monday, he offered a groom’s guide to wedding flowers, explaining why he thinks guys should care and how they can get started. Before that, he also shared his helpful yet tounge-in-cheek advice for how grooms can survive a bridal expo.

Feel free to check out his posts and leave him a comment letting him know what you think. Know of any other grooms who like to write? Be sure to send them my way!

Does your spouse or significant other ever get involved with your career or hobbies?

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Radio Show Replay

I had such a great time last night on Blog Talk Radio, spending a full hour talking about my two favorite topics – weddings and blogging! It was awesome to chat with Laura from Saying I Do, and Kim of Black Bag Productions kept the interview completely laid-back and relaxed.

Now that it’s over, I can’t believe I ever felt nervous at all, and I really hope I get a chance to do it again in the future! If you missed the show last night but want to listen to the playback, feel free to check it out online. And finally, thanks so much to you all for your kind comments and words of encouragement, which meant so much to me!

Have you ever been interviewed for radio, TV or print? What was your experience like? Did you get nervous?

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Catch Bicoastal Bride Tonight On Blog Talk Radio!

It’s an exciting day for me, because tonight, I’m being interviewed live on by Black Bag Productions on Blog Talk Radio, along with fabulous Weddzilla bride blogger Laura from Saying I Do!

Tune in online at 9 p.m. EST as we spend a fun hour talking about all things wedding-related, including how we got started blogging and what it's been like planning our own weddings. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I must admit I’m a little nervous, but mostly, I’m excited and honored to have been selected for this interview!

Got a question or comment you’d like to share during the show? It would be awesome to hear from some of our blogger friends, so be sure to call in to chat with us @ (877) 455-4944!
(Graphic Credit: Google Images)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Adventures In Wedding Coordination: Planning A DC Wedding On A Shoestring Budget

April 2011 is already special within the wedding world, which seems to be more abuzz each day with the latest details about William and Kate’s royal extravaganza, set for April 29. But it’s also important to me in my own personal wedding world, since that’s the very same week I’ll graduate with my wedding coordination certificate from Northern Virginia Community College!

But before I can start celebrating and doing even more coordinating, I’ve got a couple more courses to complete, along with the final capstone project of the program – coordinating a mock wedding, which I’m actually completing with my husband. Yes, you read that right. Stephen has decided to take this one class as preparation for assisting me with the two weddings I’ll be coordinating this fall. Isn’t that awesome of him? I definitely think so!

Now, I will admit that simply coordinating a wedding on paper is a lot different than actually carrying out the details the day of. However, I do think our instructor has done a great job in making the project as challenging as she can in a classroom setting by requiring each team to draw a wedding scenario at random, and then fully plan the day, choosing the theme, researching venues, interviewing vendors, creating a budget and itinerary, designing a program and invitation, and so on. Basically, every aspect of the couple’s wedding must be fully accounted for, and the couple themselves must have a back story and history that fits into the plans.

Two classmates drew a scenario that involves planning a Pakistani-Indian wedding for 300 guests, and another team is planning a $300,000 platinum wedding. As for our scenario, our theme must be at least loosely Thanksgiving-related. The wedding must be held in the DC area, must prioritize décor above everything else, and…must not exceed a total budget of just $5,000. I don’t know about you, but in my experience with wedding venues and vendors in the DC area, $5,000 won’t get you much! But what’s the fun in doing the project if it’s not challenging, right?

I’m excited to see what we can come up with, and we already have roughly nailed down a few ways we can flush out the theme and create a budget-friendly wedding that’s still classy in every way. I’ll share my thoughts and experiences with you as we complete the project, but first, I’m curious to know what you think! When you think of a Thanksgiving wedding, what themes, color schemes and settings come to mind? How would you work within a budget that was very tight in an expensive region?

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Not Just One, But Three, Fun Announcements!

Happy Friday, blogger friends! It’s sure been a tiring couple weeks for me, but I feel like things are definitely looking up and coming together, starting with the three exciting announcements I’m about to share.

Announcement #1

Remember that exam I thought I failed? Well, somehow, I actually managed to get an A! When I saw my score last night, I was so excited I could hardly even sit through the class. Take that, accounting!

Announcement #2

After many weeks of hard work by a team of fabulous people, the all-new Weddzilla Blog has officially launched! Our site has a fresh design, new features, and a great team of bloggers, so check it out if you haven’t had a chance. You can also submit your own wedding photos and stories for our new real weddings feature, or apply to become a blogger. Brides, grooms, newlyweds, vendors and wedding lovers are all welcome! You may already notice a couple familiar faces, and I hear the editor’s pretty cool. :)

Announcement #3

I teased you about this one in my last post, when I said learning about the blending of wedding traditions from different cultures was especially important to me right now. Well, that’s because I’m now coordinating my second wedding of the year, this one for a former colleague whose wedding will combine Chinese and Vietnamese traditions. I’ve been informally advising her about certain things for a few months now, and am so excited to come on board to help her coordinate the wedding, especially in the month right before and on her big day. Stay tuned for more details about my newest bicoastal wedding planning adventures, both here and in Seattle...

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Culture In The Classroom

Throughout my life, I’ve always loved learning about cultural and religious traditions that differ from my own. And now, as an aspiring wedding coordinator, one of my favorite things about meeting and interacting with soon-to-wed couples is learning all about their heritages and how they plan to tie these aspects into their wedding celebrations. So, as you can imagine, I was thrilled to take my latest wedding coordination course, which focused entirely on weddings of different faiths and cultures!

To keep things informative but fun, our instructor arranged for the last class to include a tasting of foods from around the world. Each student made and shared a favorite dish representing her own heritage, with one simple catch. It had to be a food that could be easily served during a wedding reception. As an Irish-Italian, there were tons of delicious options that initially came to mind, but in the end, I went with a tried and true, and relatively simple, recipe – bruschetta.

Not only is bruschetta incredibly tasty, but it’s also one of my favorite cocktail hour foods because it’s so easy to eat with your hands and is a great vegetarian option. All in all, I loved this class, especially since blending traditions when coordinating a wedding is now important to me for another reason. But I’ll save that announcement for next time…

What are your favorite cocktail hour foods, and what’s your favorite dish from your own culture?

(Photo Credit: Simply Recipies)

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Fondue Valentine

Valentine’s Day at our house is pretty low-key this year. After all, it’s hard to make Valentine’s weekend plans when you spend the entire two days at the computer working on projects for grad school, wedding coodination class and so on. Though I sincerely love everything I'm working on in my life right now, and wouldn’t trade any of it for a second, I have to admit that this past week, I felt rather overwhelmed, at times finding it hard to stay positive.

This was particularly true when it came to my master’s classes. Though my program is technically designed for working professionals, this semester doesn't feel like it's shaping up that way. Never before in my life have I failed an exam, but after completing a business midterm on Thursday, which focused completely on one my most difficult subjects – accounting – I am truly hoping I earned enough points to pass the class. Needless to say, this is a pretty awful feeling for someone who prides herself on success and sets very high standards.

But in midst of all this stress, my husband has been my strength, helping me keep my head up and not give in. From cooking me dinner each night to listening to me vent, he reminds me each and every day why he such an amazing husband and friend. Yesterday, in the midst of my most stressful moment yet, Stephen surprised me with a wonderful dark chocolate fondue dessert, complete with fresh strawberries, graham-cracker-coated marshmallows, homemade brownies, and raspberry merlot wine. All in all, it was wonderful to take a break and enjoy a special treat with my guy, knowing that no matter what happens in other areas of my life, it’s our marriage that truly matters more than anything else.
Happy Valentine's Day, Stephen, and thank you for loving and supporting me no matter what crazy twists life brings our way. I love you!

How does your partner help you deal with stress, and how are you celebrating Valentine's Day?

(Photo Credit: Personal Library)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sharing A Life Is One Thing, But A Bathroom? No Way!

Marriage means sharing in just about every way possible, both good and bad, including everything from life’s major joys and sorrows to the smaller, everyday details, like cleaning the cats’ litter box or splitting a decadent cupcake. But when it comes to sharing, there are two areas where I absolutely draw the line, and that’s when it comes to sharing either a bathroom or a closet.

Growing up and even throughout college, I lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment with my family, where my sister and I shared a room, a closet and a bathroom. When I moved to DC to work and live on my own, I discovered the absolute freedom and joy that comes with having your own space. Since Stephen also shared a bathroom while growing up and while living with roommates during college, when we considered where we’d live together, having private bathrooms and closets were two big things that topped our lists.

Today, I absolutely love our two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, where we have the space to be together, yet still do certain things in our own way. Having separate closets and bathrooms is a big help when we both have to get ready to go out at the same time, and it entirely eliminates any spats about organization or cleaning up in these rooms. This way, we’re able to fully share a home and life, but in the way that works best for us.

Do you and your husband or fiancé share a bathroom or closet?

(Photo Credits: Personal Library)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pretty Floral Details

It’s the love that truly makes a wedding special, while pretty details can only add to the beauty of the day. Since I’ve spent a lot of time daydreaming about springtime and blooming flowers lately, here’s a little recap showing off a few of my favorite floral shots from our wedding.

Which happy thoughts make you think of spring? 

(Photo Credits: Damien Smith Photography & Alex Neumann Photography)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gather Inspiration On-The-Go With The Weddzilla Weddmark iPhone App

Last week, brides everywhere told me how much they just love the Weddzilla Weddmark, the simple and easy way to gather wedding ideas and inspiration from anywhere on the web, making bookmarking and wedding binders so old-school.

At Weddzilla, we understand just how busy and constantly on-the-go you are, and that’s why this week, we couldn't be more excited to announce the launch of the Weddzilla Weddmark iPhone app! There’s no telling where you’ll be when you find inspiration for your wedding. That’s why the Weddmark app was created, to give the nearlywed on-the-go the ability to snap and store photos of anything that inspires her, right from her iPhone! Plus, with the Weddmark app, you can share pictures with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or email instantly.





Go to to learn more, and be sure to let me know what you think!
(Graphic Credits: Weddzilla)

Monday, February 7, 2011

An Oh Boudoir! Recap

Boudoir photography is all the rage right now for brides and newlyweds alike, and I’m proud to say that last month, I joined the many confident ladies who are giving this type of shoot a try. My Valentease Marathon shoot with Baltimore photographer Olehsa Haskett of Oh!Boudoir was fun and challenging all at once, as I pushed myself outside my usual comfort zone and channeled my inner “diva” for the camera.

First, as I loosened up with a glass of wine, makeup artist Danielle Lewis of All Dolled Up gave me just the sultry look I wanted, which was a far cry from the natural, low-key look I go for every day, and also very different from the romantic, soft look I chose for my wedding. While that style was undoubtedly timeless and classic, my boudoir style was all about kicking it up a notch!

Though I was a bit nervous at the start of the shoot, Olesha and her assistant quickly helped me relax and get into it. Three outfits, several backdrops and many different poses later, I’d created tons of fun and flirty images to choose from for my album. Check out a couple snapshots below, which I’ve cropped to make appropriate for posting. As for the complete images? My “little black book” album is on its way, and should arrive just in time for Valentine’s Day! 

Have you ever pushed yourself to do something that was outside your normal comfort zone? What was your experience like?

(Photo Credits: Oh!Boudoir)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Battle Of The Seasons: Summer vs. Winter

To anyone who knows me, it’s no secret that I hate winter. Snow? Cringe. Ice cold wind blowing in my face? No thanks. But until we can move to Hawaii or at least back to a warmer climate like California, it looks like the icy winters are in my life to stay.

But while I know my disdain for this season is especially high compared to most others’, I must say I’m always stunned by how many people honestly prefer snowy, cold weather to the heat of summer, arguing that when it’s cold, you can simply put on more layers.

Me, shivering during last year's massive blizzard.

But to me, that’s a big part of the hassle, as I simply hate having to put on my coat, scarf, hat, gloves and boots before going outside, taking them all off again when I go inside, not to mention lugging them around with me all day. Plus, though summer’s storms can certainly be violent and damaging, they are typically over quickly and easy to wait out. They also don’t normally cause six-hour traffic jams and the truly treacherous conditions that left drivers cold and stranded on the side of the road during last week’s snowstorms.

What do you think? Am I truly in the minority here? Is it better to be hot in the summer or cold in the winter?

(Photo Credit: Personal Library)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Seattle, Here I Come!

As most of you know, in addition to writing about weddings, I also aspire to coordinate them. I’ll officially earn my wedding coordination certificate later this spring, and in the meantime, I’m excited to share that I’ve been hired to coordinate a wedding this fall for two of our friends who are getting married in Seattle!

While the details are of course still being worked out, they envision a low-key and laid-back cocktail-style wedding for roughly 100 guests, with the ceremony and reception both held at a modern and fun art studio venue. I’m incredibly excited about this opportunity, and will definitely be blogging about my experience, lessons learned, and tips that I think can help other couples along the way.

Though I am certainly limited by not being located in Seattle myself, and was honest and upfront with our friends about those limitations, we all agree that I’ll still be able to play an advisory role throughout the process, traveling to Seattle in advance of the wedding to do a venue walk-through, coordinate the rehearsal and, of course, coordinate the wedding day.

Throughout the coming months, I’ll be continuously in touch with both they and their vendors via phone and email, and to start things off, I’ve sent over a custom timeline outlining what I think they’ll need to do each month to stay on track. We’ve also gone back and forth with various ideas and suggestions about booking the venue, choosing vendors and mapping out a basic game plan for the day.

I honestly can’t get over how so many of my goals are coming to light this year, even though it is only the beginning of February! Though it’s tough at times to balance everything I have going on, I know it’s worth every minute, and it feels like a lifetime ago that I was at my old "day job" in Congress.

How is 2011 shaping up for you so far? Have you ever had many of your goals become reality all at once, leaving you simultaneously thrilled and overwhelmed?

(Photo Credit: Downtown Seattle Hotels) 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Hawaiian Honeymoon Feature

I hope you're all safe and warm this Tuesday, unaffected by the snow and ice pounding so many parts of the country. Isn't winter over yet?!

To help inspire thoughts of warmer days, I'm honored to be featured on All Women Stalk, where I'm sharing a few fabulous details about my Hawaiian honeymoon cruise.

Feel free to check it out, and keep your fingers crossed that the groundhog predicts an early spring this year!

Ditch The Binders, Get The Weddmark!

If you’re still using a binder filled with paper tear sheets to plan your wedding, the Weddzilla Weddmark will revolutionize and simplify your planning experience by allowing you to virtually catalog all of your wedding photos in one place! Paper copies get easily damaged, bookmarks get buried, and links get lost. After days or months of collecting wedding inspiration and ideas, you can never remember where they’re stored! The unique, one-of-a-kind Weddmark button changes all that.

With the Weddmark, Nearlyweds can grab pictures from anywhere on the web and store them in a personal Collection, sharing them with friends, family, and social networks for instant feedback. These photos will also live in the Ideabook, a visual library of thousands of user-generated images that Nearlyweds can browse through for wedding ideas and inspiration. Nearlyweds can tag photos with keywords, select colors for easy organization, search and sort by category, and add personalized notes to remember specific details about an item.

So, stop collecting clutter and start simplifying! Have you tried the Weddzilla Weddmark? Tell us what you think!