Wedding Planning: Highs & Lows

Well, we did it! This past weekend we got married!! Best day of our lives, hands down. I’m still combing through photos (and anxiously awaiting the professional ones, which I know will take some time) so I’m going to hold off on recapping the actual wedding until those come in. So I thought I’d share some wedding planning highs & lows that I experienced over the past 8 months…

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Before I got engaged, I always heard that wedding planning was one of the most stressful times of your life. I feel very fortunate that I did not have this experience. Now, let me be clear – there were a handful of times that I thought I may lose it. However, the vast majority of the time (like 90%), it was fun and creative and exciting!

HIGHS

This comes as no surprise but we just loved all of the parties – our engagement party, our wedding showers and our bachelor/ette parties. Because we live out of state, it was such a fun excuse to get all of our families & friends together to celebrate us. We were incredibly spoiled by everyone around us and we just appreciate them so much.

Receiving the wedding RSVPs may have been my favorite part. While we had a general idea of who was/wasn’t coming, it was SO fun opening our mailbox & seeing everyone’s cute notes and event selections. It became a nightly ritual for us to open these together and I’ll definitely miss this.

One of the most fun parts of being engaged was definitely registering! We lucked out that Crate & Barrel had a “engaged only” event where they shut down the store, served coffee & breakfast and let us roam around for 2 hours. We got to make mock place settings, try out different appliances, and touch/feel everything. This was SO much fun! Williams-Sonoma has this too (our timing didn’t work) and I can’t recommend this enough. It’s such an easy, fun way to get your fiancee involved in the planning process.

LOWS

One of the hardest parts of planning was for sure the guest list. On one hand, we wanted to invite everyone that we’re friends with; however, we didn’t want a large wedding, nor did we have the budget for it. I can’t stress enough how much it dictates everything – the size of your wedding party, the amount you spend, the vibe of the wedding, the venue you choose…everything is effected by the guest list. Our goal number was 115 and we ended up at 113…right on target!

Let’s be honest…without a doubt, one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding is discussing budget. Regardless of how much money you have/are gifted, you have to be realistic about what you’re comfortable spending. For us, it was important to be objective with our money and try to get the best bang for our buck with every purchase. I wish we had set a budget prior to looking at venues; however, we lucked out that our #1 venue fell within budget. Given that I am a huge saver, not spender….it was really tough for me to spend this money. I can’t tell you how many times we had the conversation of “should we have eloped and saved all this money?” but in the end, it was worth every penny.

Now that we’re finished with the wedding planning & the big day is over (still so hard to believe), I can honestly say that I am really enjoyed being engaged and for us, 8 months was the perfect amount of time. What a fabulous 8 months it was!

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wedding dress shopping

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Engagement photos

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save the dates

What were your highs & lows of wedding planning?!

 

Our Love Story + Wedding Bands

Today, I’m partnering up with my friends at E.B. Horn to share a bit more about my engagement story, my search for the perfect wedding band & my #1 tip for all you fellas our there when picking the perfect engagement ring.

It’s crazy to think that two weeks from today I’ll be married. A wife, a Mrs, and officially, a Kozmor. It was a short 7 months ago when we got engaged and my how the time has flown by. Many of you already read the details of how the engagement happened, but as we all know, there’s so much more to every love story! You see, there’s this little thing called fate…and let me tell you, I believe in it…

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I moved to Boston in February 2013…smack dab in the middle of winter…with a college friend of mine. We are both born & raised Georgia natives who needed a change of scenery. We were bored with Atlanta, searching for new jobs and ready to see what the world had to offer. When all of the stars aligned in Fall 2012, we found ourselves signing a lease to an apartment (sight unseen) and planning our big move up the East Coast.

I had been dating a guy here in Boston and while he wasn’t the sole reason for my move, he had somewhat of an influence. As most “I’m not moving for you, I swear” relationships go, we quickly crashed & burned within about 12 months of me moving here.

Fast forward six months through your typical break up phases and there I was: 31, single, living on my own for the first time and feeling pretty damn good about life. I had hired a trainer at my local gym and we were kicking butt & taking names. Once day he said to me “you know that guy Terry? He thinks you’re cute and wants me to bring you with me to his housewarming party next weekend”. I think my exact response was “that guy? (pointing at the blonde hair, blue eyed guy across the room) Nah, he’s not my type”. Ha! Well little did I know how my world was about to change. Spoiler alert: I ended up going to the housewarming party with my trainer, Terry & I hit it off, developed a friendship which turned into a first date, and as they say, the rest is history! It’s truly crazy to think of all the little pieces that fell into place that led us to this place. Fate, right?

About 18 months later,  we were living together and talking marriage. Call me crazy, but it’s always been a big fear of mine to be head over heels for someone and have them propose with a ring I hate. I mean, what’s a girl to do?! You can’t say “yes but no to that ring” or “I don’t like that piece of jewelry that you just spent months saving for”. We’ve all seen that SATC where Carrie accidentally finds the hideous ring Aiden’s going to propose with (#yikes).

So, while I am lucky that my now-fiancee has incredible taste, I am even luckier and more grateful that he asked what kind of ring I liked! Guys, I am telling you…my #1 piece of advice, without a doubt, is ask! Ask your girlfriend, ask her sister, ask her best friend, ask her secret Pinterest wedding board (hey, we’ve all been there!). It doesn’t matter who you ask, just ask someone. When you’re spending this kind of money and making this kind of a lifelong commitment, don’t you want to know that she will love the ring?

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Moments after he was down on one knee…admiring my round solitaire with 6 prong basket setting. PERFECTION!

Last week I went down to E.B. Horn in Downtown Crossing and tried on a ton of wedding bands. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to pick the perfect match for my engagement ring! I wanted something contrasting, yet complimentary. Since we travel abroad at least 3-4 times per year (and 10+ times per year domestic), it’s important to me to have a band that I love. When we travel, I’ll be leaving my engagement ring in the safe deposit box and wearing only my band.  I went back & forth with various styles. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Which is your favorite?!

I ended up picking one very similar to the top one on my middle finger. It’s a vintage looking band made up of round diamonds in a milgrain setting. It’s just perfect. Picking my wedding band was a surprisingly emotional experience. It not only symbolizes our eternal love for each other, but also is a ring that I will wear until the day I die that will always remind me of this incredibly special time in our lives. When I think back on the past four years, my mind is just blown. Fate led from me Atlanta to Boston, where I met the love of my life and where, in just two short weeks, we will begin the rest of our lives together. I have never been more ready for anything.

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What’s your #1 piece of ring advice to guys? Who else believes in fate?

A huge thanks to my friends at E.B. Horn. While I received compensation for this post, opinions are my own. They have been an absolute joy to work with and I cannot recommend the company & their jewelery enough.

 

 

Review: The Cottage Inn & Spa

When I knew we were going to Sonoma, I reached out to some local boutique hotels, as I love to stay in these charming, unique spaces. Upon first contact with Zac from the Cottage Inn & Spa, I knew this was the place for us. From the beginning, the staff was friendly, attentive & responsive. They helped us lock down dates, schedule a massage, and made us feel incredibly welcome.

Let me tell you, this place did not disappoint. We stayed two lovely nights and did not want to leave. There is a lot to share, so let me break it down for you…

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The Property

The Inn reminds me of an English country home meets charming bed & breakfast. Located just steps from the Sonoma square makes this place incredibly convenient. We had no problem parking right outside and we ended up walking to dinner both nights. The inn itself is quite small, but feels spacious. There are various lounging areas, including multiple courtyards with fountains, a covered outdoor firepit (with music playing; this was my favorite spot!) and multiple benches to sit and read or relax.

We felt very secure, as guests have actual keys (how great is that!?) for the main entry and the specific guest room. Although the property felt very relaxed & serene, we never felt as though we couldn’t explore or enjoy sitting outside.

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Outside entrance to the Cottage Inn & Spa

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walkway to our room

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outdoor courtyard area with fountain

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outdoor (covered) area with fountain & firepit

Accommodations

We stayed in the lovely Vineyard View Suite, which turned out to be the perfect location for us. It was in the back of the building, which meant it was quite private. Our room was huge and fully furnished, with a very comfortable California King bed, a living area consisting of a leather sofa & chair and a working fireplace, a spacious bathroom with both a stand-up shower & a soaker tub, and a full dining area with a table, chairs, sink, mini fridge & more. The floor plan was very open and felt even larger with the vaulted ceilings and double doors that opened to a balcony.

We took advantage of this entire room, drinking wine by the fire, soaking in the huge tub, and enjoying our morning coffee & pastries at the dining table with the double doors open, soaking in the view. It felt as though we had our own home in wine country.

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Service

The service at the Cottage Inn was truly outstanding. We unexpectedly arrived late (and I failed to mention to Zac that we were running behind our scheduled check-in), and given that the Inn is quite small & the office was closed, I felt really bad. However, this was no problem, as the after-hours property manager so kindly met us right outside and presented us with the key and welcome note that was left for us. She guided us around the property and showed us to our room. When we explained that we were late because she had just gotten engaged, she screamed “congratulations” & gave me a huge hug. It was the best reaction! She was such a joy to be welcomed by.

Additionally, the staff made sweet signs saying “happy birthday”and “congratulations” along with beautifully cut fresh flowers. They arranged a delicious cheese board with some local cheese, olives & olive oil to pair with our newly purchased wine. We thoroughly enjoyed this treat by the fire as we took it all in. As I said, the service was just outstanding.

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Amenities

All rooms come with complimentary Wi-Fi, daily housekeeping services, in-room continental breakfast, guest privileges at a local fitness center and a wine tasting pass. The daily breakfast is an adorable basket filled with pastries from a local bakery that’s delivered to your door every morning at 8am. The fridge was fully stocked with milk, water, juice & butter, while the pantry had plenty of jams, coffee, cereal & condiments. There is nothing better than waking up to a delicious breakfast, hand delivered.

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I loved how the table was beautifully set each day

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Warm, fresh baked croissant, muffin & donut!

There are also bikes you can rent located on the property. We would have loved to rent these to explore some local wineries (we used that tasting pass!), but we just didn’t have enough hours in the day. Next time!

On our last morning there, I was treated to a fabulous 60 minute massage. The spa was located next door to our room, so I conveniently walked downstairs and into the spa. So easy. My masseuse was Gloria and she led me into a small space with two massage tables. The room smelled of lavender, had quite music playing & overlooked a courtyard filled with stone and ivy covered walls. The whole thing was very zen. The massage itself was exactly what I needed to round out a fantastic 6-day road trip, full of excitement & adventure. Getting post-vacation massage on my last day is definitely going to be my new thing. When you stay at the Cottage Inn, I recommend splurging on a massage.

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Overall Thoughts

We couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay in Sonoma. From the perfect location to the stellar service to the charming property, we loved everything about the Cottage Inn & Spa. I highly recommend you staying here if you’re in Sonoma. It’s safe to say we were sad to leave. Don’t worry Sonoma, don’t worry Cottage Inn & Spa- we’ll be back!

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Although this post is sponsored by The Cottage Inn & Spa, all opinions are my own.

Our Engagement Story

It’s one of those moments I’ve dreamed of my whole life. What will he say? How will I feel? Who else will be there? What will the ring look like?… For the past 32 years I’ve imagined this day and I can honestly say it surpassed all of my wildest dreams…

♥ 12.1.16 ♥

Terry & I decided to celebrate our 2-year anniversary, my birthday & the holidays with a trip to California. We’d fly info Los Angeles, drive up the PCH to San Francisco and stop along in Santa Barbara, Carmel & Sonoma. Ever since I met him, he’s boasted about his love for Santa Barbara (specifically the scenery & the surf) so I was particularly excited to visit this coastal town.

We arrived at the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara on Thursday afternoon and I was immediately blown away by not only the superior service (truly the best) but also the insanely gorgeous property. Picture a lush jungle with endless paths, secret gardens, tranquil coves, and Spanish-style steps & terraces leading to private bungalows. Then picture the entire place merely steps away from a stunning, private beach. Yup, it’s basically heaven.

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The beach where the proposal happened!

When Terry told me that he’d arranged for the concierge to take some sunset pictures on our camera, I grew a bit suspicious. But he insisted, “Babe, it’s the Four Seasons. They do stuff like this all the time.” After all, who was I to question this amazing experience being offered to us?!

 So around 4:30pm, we threw on some cute clothes (thank goodness he told me we were headed straight to dinner after, so I styled my hair!) and headed down to the beach. Ironically, there was a professional photographer on the beach taking sunset pics of two other hotel guests, so I immediately thought, “huh, I guess they really do this for people”. Oblivious to the weeks of preparedness that was unfolding before my eyes, I smiled for the camera as we took picture after picture as the sun went down. Terry went to to check the photos & mentioned that our faces were dark because of the shadows, so we better try one more picture. And then this happened…

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Due to extreme surprise/excitement/joy/shock/laughing/crying, it’s fair to say I completely blacked out. We both did. We each remember various bits & pieces of what he said…and to us, that’s just perfect.

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How lucky am I? Not only did Terry spend weeks planning the most thoughtful, beautiful, romantic proposal, but we have this incredible moment in time captured on camera. A moment I will never, ever forget.

Words can’t describe how I’m feeling right now. I feel so beyond blessed to have even met someone like Terry. Someone who truly appreciates my good and tolerates my not-so-good. Someone who makes me laugh when I’m crying & then makes me cry all over again from laughing so hard. Someone who I love so much that it hurts. Someone who wants to build a life with me and grow old together. He is my best friend and the absolute love of my life. I know the best is yet to come, and I cannot wait for this adventure to begin!

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Oh and to answer my lifelong questions: Can’t remember…overjoyed…just us…and, it’s absolutely perfect!

Four Seasons beach photo courtesy of their website. Thank you for the unforgettable experience, photos & countless flutes of champagne 🙂