I've Moved!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hi lovely loyal readers! I've recently moved over to a new platform, where you can find my blog and shop. I hope you'll join me there. The brand new marriedandbright.com is waiting for you!

Five More Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wanna save some bucks on your big day? Check out my first list here, and then take these tips into consideration, whydontcha?

 1. Skip the favors. Let's be honest. Your guests don't give a shit about the jordan almonds at their seat, or the succulent that they can't put in their suitcase. You're already paying for their dinner and booze, and providing a fun night. Forget the couple hundred bucks you're about to spend on something that will be thrown away.

2. Forgo the traditional wedding cake. While I love the look of a traditional tiered wedding cake, they sure can be pricey. Coming in at $5-$20 a slice depending on the decor, means that a cake that feeds 100 guests could easily cost you $2000 or more. For cake! That you eat! And then it's gone! Many bakeries offer dessert table designs that will run you about $500, and usually include a variety of cupcakes, candies, brownies and bars, and cookies. You can throw a sweetheart cake in the mix if you still want to have the traditional cake cutting moment.

3. Serve beer and wine and soft drinks. Having a full open bar can get expensive fast. Hard alcohol and mixed drinks are way more pricey than beer and wine. By serving just beer and wine, you could cut your bar budget by as much as 50%. If you're still hell-bent on having hard alcohol, consider a signature drink or two. That means that the bartender will only have to stock the bar with a few choice ingredients, rather than a whole bevy of options, which will also bring down costs.

4. Keep track of your spending. Maybe this is super obvious, but if you don't know how much you've spent, you won't know if you're on track or not. It's so easy to go over your budget by doing mental math and just hoping you're within your means. Start a google or excel spreadsheet and track those dollars! If you buy something, save your receipt and enter into your spreadsheet as soon as possible. For me, that meant even putting my dollar store and etsy purchases in. Sure $30 or $50 doesn't seem like that much, but do it several times over the course of a year of wedding planning, and your could end up thousand of dollars off.

5. Something borrowed.  If you have a friend or family member who recently got married, chances are they have a bix bog of stuff that went unused. You need to pilfer that. Using pre-loved linens, napkins, vases, small decor items, even jewelry, accessories, a veil or dress is such a great way to pinch those pennies.

Bloom Workshop Recap

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
I never want to stop learning. That's why, last summer, I decided to put efforts into improving myself as a business owner. Part of that meant paying for online tutorials and consulting, and joining groups that discuss women's issues and social media strategy, and attending workshops and conferences. Without fail, every time I partook, I left feeling refreshed, motivated, and excited to get back to work.

So, when Bloom the Workshop came across my instagram feed, I felt compelled to attend. I'm always looking to improve my blog and social media pages, but what I was most excited to learn about was the photography and styling especially as it pertains to the wedding industry -- my new chosen career. The best part about attending workshops and conferences in person is meeting other like-minded people. I wouldn't even call it networking... It's more like bonding. And for me, that's instrumental in feeling connected to my life and my career.

Michaela and Ashley we're such lovely hosts, making me and thirty other fine young ladies feel quite at home at Regale Winery by greeting us with coffee and breakfast. When we took our seats, we were treated to a gift bag chock-full of most welcome goodies. Then, it got right down to business -- literally! Our hosts covered the basics of blogging, social media, and branding. It basically lit a fire under my ass because I have a lot of updating to do now that I run a new business!

During a delicious lunch (which featured a wine tasting, yum!), we each got our head shots taken by the uber-talented Ashley Slater. I can't wait to see how mine turned out!

Ashley gave a post-lunch photography tutorial, which empowered me to shoot in manual on my DSLR, which I had always been afraid to do. That encouragement alone was worth the price of admission. After Michaela's lesson on event styling, we got the chance to put our new skills to the test, which resulted in the photos below. You'll have to forgive the amateur nature of my photography from here on out, because I'm officially ditching the iPhone and shooting all my blog photos on my DSLR.

Of course, the photo shoot ended much too soon, but we were welcomed back into the conference room with slices of cake.... Which I'm never mad about. 

I was really thrilled to see Shannon Willardson on the Q+A panel, because I have followed her blog for the longest time. I'm happy to report that she is just as sweet, funny, gorgeous, stylish, and smart as she comes across on her blog and instagram

I was super sad when the workshop ended and I was literally the last person to leave because I couldn't help but linger to soak up the last moments of a wonderful day. 

The Bloom Workshop | Floral Design: Natalie Bowen Designs | Table Rentals, Flatware, Dishes, etc: Pieces by Violet | Venue: Regale Winery | Makeup and Hair: Camille Monique Beauty | Cakes: Sweet Tooth Confections | Gown: Sarah Seven | Design: Michaela Noelle Designs For The Bloom Workshop

Heart Grow Fonder

Monday, April 20, 2015

You know that saying, "absence makes the heart grow fonder"? Last week, Alex and I put that to the test when I took a trip up to the Bay Area to attend Bloom the Workshop (more on that tomorrow!), and spend a week with my family. He stayed in LA and worked. And ate microwave pizza. And drank beers with his friends.

Since the day that Alex and I met more than four years ago, I would guess that we have spent fewer than 30 days apart. Total. Alex and I had a sleep over on the second day we knew each other, and then every day since that. After dating for only four months, we officially moved in together. A couple months after that, we took a two-and-a-half week road trip from Boston to Los Angeles. If Alex is making a run to the bank, I'm sitting in the passenger seat next to him. If I'm working on the couch, he's to my right typing away on the dining table. We walk our dog together, always. Grocery shopping is a two person operation. If Alex goes to Target without me, it's a betrayal.

Clearly, we spend a lot of time together. And I love it.

When we first met, Alex told me he can be a bit clingy, and I was like "yes! This is the person for me! Cling away." And sometimes -- oftentimes -- I wish he were more clingy.

But last week was kind of like... Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Space.

Remember when Carrie Bradshaw said, "Maybe we should see each other less, and then we can miss each other more"? I'm totally with her on that front now. Spending every waking (and sleeping) moment with your spouse is wonderful, and provides a lot of intimacy, but it was such a sweet feeling to miss Alex. It was nice to indulge my own interests, operate on my own schedule, but still wonder what what my husband was up to and how he was doing. It was fun to exchange text messages like teenagers, FaceTime before bed, and call to check in. The novelty of time spend separately was actually kind of fun.

And, being reunited, even though it was at 2am after a five-hour drive from Northern California, was like falling in love again. It was that sensation of something being so dearly familiar, yet fresh and new. Like the feeling that you've known someone your whole life, but your only on the first date. And the best part was that we are married!

It was a good feeling, borne of time spent apart. Maybe we should do this more often...

Thanks to my mom and sister, Lindsey, for snapping these photos of me looking out of San Francisco.

Marriage Monday: Division of Responsibility

Monday, April 13, 2015

Have you ever heard the term Division of Responsibilities? It wasn't really something I was familiar with before I got married, but now I feel like we talk about it all the time: I cook, you clean; you feed the dog, I'll cut his nails; you tidy the house, I'll vacuum it... even things like, I earned more money this month, you take on more work at home.

I've spoken with other couples and there is no formula for splitting up the work it takes to run a marriage. Between working to earn a paycheck, taking care of the home, each other, pets and children, there is no one way to go about it. I got curious as to how people make sure that the division is fair, and the more I talked about it, it became more clear that almost no one thinks the work or effort is quite equal. Generally speaking, both parties either thought they we doing the majority of the work, or that they were doing a chore that bore more weight than the tasks their partner had to deal with.

For example, a friend of mine, let's call her Lisa, who also runs a creative business from her home recently got engaged and started living with her fiance. She complained that because he worked outside of the home, she found herself doing chores and errands in the middle of her workday, when she should have or could have been getting work done for her business.

This story was all to familiar to me. Like Lisa, my partner has almost always earned more money than I have, so I felt a burden to care for him and the home more, mainly by doing the shopping, cooking, and laundry -- cleaning was never my forte. But that meant that sewing and other business-related tasks got pushed further into the evening leaving little time to actually be with my husband.

When I was chatting with this friend about our common dilemma, we both thought that we carried more of the responsibilities than our partners. We worked full time, took care of our partners, pets, and the home, and our relationships suffered as a result: there just wasn't enough time in the day for everything.

Maybe this was a woman thing? Like some sexist tradition that we had to be Suzy homemaker, or whatever. But then I remembered that Alex really does to all the cleaning and dish-washing. I do the chores I find fun. I go to Target in the middle of my workday for laundry detergent and feminine products because it's a good excuse to get out of the house, and also to look at the latest display of glitter sandals and gold flatware. So, that was my choice. But was cooking every single meal?

I always tease Alex that he never should have set the precedent of scrubbing the bathroom floors way back when we first started dating. As soon as the tile cleaner touched the grout, that became his responsibility forever. Same thing with my cooking. I started cooking way back when, so Alex never had to. Now, it's kind of a drag only because I know I have to do it.

So what's the solution? How do we find balance in our marriage and in our lives? I've talked to a lot of couples, and talked with Alex about this ad nauseam, and I have no idea. I guess the answer is to take it day by day. If Alex works extra long hours, I wash the dishes. When I'm too tired to cook, we order out.

When I look at these pictures, I'm reminded of a different way we divide responsibilities. When I was sewing this skirt, I stitched right through the nail of my ring finger. It was horrifying and I was completely hysterical. Generally speaking, I am the care taker, but in this moment of great need, Alex totally stepped up. He calmed me down, cared for my wound, and encouraged me to take a break. When the roles were reversed, he took on a responsibility he wouldn't usually handle.

Weeks later, when I asked him to shoot these photos for Marie Claire China, the job of photographing me fell on his plate, and he was glad to oblige. He's always been my cameraman, and I can always count on him to snap my picture in the same way he can count on me to fill out forms: he's more skilled with the camera, and my handwriting is better than his.

These images kind of give me the warm fuzzies because of what I see beneath them. I guess the moral of the story is that there is probably definitely no way to split our responsibilities evenly, but if the goal is to support each other as best we can, the work will seem more fair. You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours.

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